Monday, 12 October 2020

How to maintain a better work-life balance when working from home

Working from home can be a double edged sword. Sure, you no longer have the commute or need to set your alarm at stupid o'clock any more, but it can also be really lonely. Whilst you can still chat away to your heart's content on Whatsapp or Slack with your colleagues, it's just not the same as being face-to-face. Working from home once or twice a week can be respite from the commute, but for an extended period of time like it has been with the COVID-19 outbreak, it can be increasingly hard. You miss work lunches. You miss Fridays in the pub. There are so many things you want to see and do, but are advised not to. You are home so much that the work-life balance is starting to blur around the edges and you no longer have that separation or discipline. So how do you get out of a funk like this? Try following these simple pointers to help promote a healthy work-life balance when working from home.

Tips for a better work-life balance when working from home

Designate a specific working zone

Whilst it may be tempting to take your laptop into the main living area with the TV on in the background, don't do it. Go hole yourself away in a separate room where you usually wouldn't be. At the end of the working day, remove work emails and alerts from your phone (if applicable), close the doors on the space you worked in, and walk away. This is now your time.

Come up with a plan for co-working arrangements

If you live with a partner, friends or family, what happens if you only have one home office space? Should you both work in the same room? Everybody works differently so it's best to talk this through with your partner / friends / family and be honest wth each other. Here we have a study with a long desk which is perfect for two people working alongside each other, however due to the nature of my partner's work (noisy and on video call constantly), it just wouldn't work. For me to perform at my best, I have to put myself in another room, on another floor. If you have children and they have gone back to school, plan a rota of who is picking up from school on which days and if pre-school, come up with a rota for childcare so you can avoid video call interruptions of this scale and hilarity.  

Don't forget to take breaks

I've heard so many stories of people forgetting to take lunch breaks when they work from home, or only grabbing a quick bite to eat. It can be so easy to lose track of time when you are deep in a task. Look after yourself and have a proper nutritional lunch and give yourself the full hour. Besides lunch, get up every so often to walk around and grab some water or a cup of tea. Stay hydrated and keep your body and mind active. I cannot tell you the number of times I have been stuck on something, had a break and a quick walk away from my desk, and then the solution has come to me instantly.  

Do your hours - nothing more, nothing less

This kind of falls in-line with the previous point. Yes, have breaks and a full hour for lunch, but at the same time, don't abuse the system and take an extended lunch break because 'no one can see me'. Whilst a longer lunch is heavenly, it can make it harder to get back into the swing of things, resulting in less motivation and productivity. At the same time, don't overdo it at home or do more hours than you are paid. I am incredibly guilty of this and have been known to start work at 8-something rather than 9.30am and then work past 5.30pm in the past. Finish on time and avoid working late into the night so you get the time you are entitled to in order to unwind properly before starting all over again the next day.

Make sure you have the right access

Nothing sucks more than working from home and discovering that you don't have the right access / permissions / equipment. This in itself will set you back. Make sure you have everything in place ready ahead of working from home.

Get dressed

Whilst it's incredibly tempting to stay in your pyjamas all day, avoid doing this to better your work-life balance. The act of getting dressed sets you up ready for the day and puts you in the right mindset. When the working day is over, go and get changed. Change into either looser, more comfortable clothing like joggers, or your pyjamas. This will help reinforce a sense of routine that work is done for the day and now it's you time.

Get up at a reasonable time

Whilst it's tempting to leave the alarm off completely or set it just before your official start time, don't do it. Logging onto work when you've just woken up isn't the one. If something complex comes in first thing that requires serious attention, imagine the headache that will come your way if you're not ready. When I work from home I usually allow myself an extra hour in bed - so my alarm is set for 7am rather than 6am - as I no longer have the commute. It is so important to have enough time to wake up fully and for much needed you time. Other than the essentials of showering and getting dressed, make sure you give yourself some quality time. Read the newspaper. Sit down and have a proper breakfast. Do a sudoku or morning yoga. Go for a run. Whatever you choose to do, get yourself into a routine and in no time at all, it will come naturally to you.

Try and get outside if you can

This stems from my point earlier about how sometimes taking a break and going for a walk can sometimes encourage new ideas. You don't even have to go far. Go down the road or around the corner. Spend some time in the garden (if you have one). Fresh air can be so invigorating and always perks me up if I'm having a bad mental health day.

The chair you use is so important

Don't let a poor chair be the cause of an early onset of back problems. If you are going to be working from home a lot (particularly with the COVID-19 outbreak), it's wise to invest in a decent chair. We have one decent work-from-home chair in the office which my husband uses, but if I'm home I find myself hopping about from chair to chair as the dining room chairs are only comfortable for so long. If you feel an ache in your back, act on it quickly and don't just 'put up with it'. Change your location and try another chair. Use extra cushions to support your back. If budget allows, order yourself an ergonomic chair or executive chair with padding and a fully supported back (I recently ordered myself this one and it's an absolute dream!). Some companies have a working from home allowance and can provision you with a chair and desk (or budget for them), so it's definitely worth asking around.

Give your day some structure

Start each day with a quick brainstorm of what needs to be done that day and create youself a To Do list. There is nothing more satisfying than ticking things off a To Do list (or is that just me?). Plus if your boss is checking up on you making sure you are actually working, you can come back with a whole host of things you've completed and be smug as. When you approach the end of your working day, if there is anything outstanding or to be rolled over to the next day, note it all down. This is beneficial in two ways. First, it's a weight off your mind and allows you to fully switch off that evening and not think about work. Secondly it means you have the makings of tomorrow's to do list already forming itself (WIN).

Do you have a good work-life balance when working from home?

Image credit: Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

Friday, 2 October 2020

How to take better food pictures with #TheFoodieBag

This post contains a gifted item

If you can start eating a plate of food without documenting it first, I applaud you. I have long given up the hope of ever eating a hot meal. So why do we do it? Food is first and foremost functional. We need it for nutritional purposes and to, well, survive. However sometimes a pretty plate of food is worth documenting. That one photo can serve as a reminder of a special event, a perfect date or a memorable holiday. We share snaps of our baking successes and on some occasions, our food is so aesthetically pleasing, it's bordering on art and worth being immortalised in a photograph.

Taking a truly special food picture is an art. I see professional food bloggers with all the right kit, regularly invited to the swankiest joints, sharing dark, out of focus food pictures where the colour levels are all wrong. Then comparatively I see influencers with smaller follower counts - or your average Joe - who use a mobile phone and get it spot on. My point being that taking a great photo is well within your reach and easily achievable with just a few small pointers.

Frame your shot

It's all about the background. Whilst we are not all blessed to have marble worktops, the key is having a work surface with colour variation or a bit of texture to add interest. A concrete look surface always works well with food photography and can add an industrial feel. Or for a more luxe look, opt for a marble effect surface paired with gold utensils. To get a high end look surface for a fraction of the price, try backdrops like these which are perfect for food photography. My simple vegan aubergine and chickpea stew looked a whole lot more exciting when I tried it against the different backgrounds.

Vegan aubergine and chickpea stew
Vegan aubergine and chickpea stew

For a fully authentic magazine style food shot, frame your dish with crumbs, a smattering of herbs or a lovingly torn French baguette. But don't overdo it. You want the shot to look homely, not messy (and not excessively staged!)

Get the lighting right

Natural light always works best, but at this time of year, good light can be hard to come by which is where you may need assistance in the form of a lighting kit. Circle lights can help in the winter months but beware, as artifical light is no match for natural light and can cause glare and over-saturated images. To help control the lighting your photo receives - whether natural or artifical - consider using a reflector and diffuser like this 5 in 1 one here to eliminate shadows and glare.

Edit with caution

Sometimes the perfect photograph requires some editing work, especially if you are not blessed with natural light. Increasing the contrast levels can add richness to your image, and low light can be remedied. Edit with caution though, as many professional food bloggers make the mistake of over-saturating their images, leading to the colour of natural food products appearing, well, unnatural. 

Experiment with angles

Flat lays are always effective in food photography, but playing with angles can add interest. See what a difference it makes below. The bird's eye view looks a little flat, whereas shooting from an angle makes the dish look multi-dimensional (what of course it is!). Re-shooting the flat lay with a slight angle rather than from above makes the toasted pinenuts in the recipe look more 3D.

Food flat lay
Example of a flat lay

Playing with angles
Experiment with angles

Food photography flat lay
The ingredients in this flat lay look a little more 3D as it's not shot directly over head 

Give your food a face lift

Examine your plate and how colourful it is. Is it a fairly beige meal? Or is it all mostly one colour? In food magazines the most captivating recipes we want to try ourselves are colourful and attractive. Greenery always works wonders and can help bring food alive - so top your meal with fresh chopped parsley, chives or your herb of choice. Other options include cheese and chopped chilli - anything that adds colour and interest. Puncture the yolk of your poached egg in a brunch shot for an image that leaves your audience salivating. Wipe up any other spills and add cutlery to give it that ready to eat feel.

Listen to the experts

I am by no means an expert and if you check out my Instagram, I'm sure I have commited a multitude of sins when it comes to food photography. That being said, life is full of lessons and food photography is something that takes time and practice. If you want expert advice on how to improve your work, check out these polaroid style notelets, each depicting a picture of a delicious plate of food and on the reverse side, tips and tricks. Admittedly some of the advice is common sense, but I have learned a lot and I'm really pleased with how some of my recent food shots have turned out.

If you are a budding food blogger or just enjoy taking food photos and want to up your game, check out #TheFoodieBag (also known as the Instagram Bag) here which has everything you need to get started. The kit is just £39.95 including P&P & VAT and contains the following:

  • a HUGE tote bag (perfect for lugging your kit around!) with zip fastening and internal mesh dividers and pockets
  • A 15-inch 5 in 1 pop up lighting reflector and diffuser
  • 4 backdrops (marble, grey concrete, green-grey hybrid and rust-look)
  • 8 beautiful postcards with extra tips and tricks for getting the perfect shot

I've had a lot of fun experimenting with the different backdrops - although admittedly this has made me cringe over some of my past food photography!


* This post features #TheFoodieBag from The Cotton Bag Company which was sent to me in exchange for a review. As ever all views (and love of food photography!) are my own. 

Friday, 25 September 2020

7 ways how to have a productive writing day

This post contains a gifted item

Whether you blog, are writing the next big thing, or work in editorial, some days the words come less easily than others. One day you find you can easily knock out 1,000 words of a morning, the next you find yourself staring at your screen, willing the words to come to you. Writing is a craft that requires a lot of discipline, but sometimes that motivation can be hard to come by. So what can you do to help keep the words flowing?

Start the day right

If you wake up all groggy and half asleep and start writing straight away, the words won't come to you naturally. Make sure you find the time to put some fuel in the tank with a nutritious breakfast, a cup of tea or coffee, and a big glass of water. 

Light exercise can work wonders

By no means tire yourself out or your writing could fall lacklustre. Do some light exercise like a quick morning jog or bike ride, or my favourite, morning yoga. I find this eases me into the day but at the same time gets my heart racing and blood pumping around the body (great for the brain).

Identify how you write best

For me personally, my best ideas come when I physically write in a notebook. I don't know if it's something about looping those letters in joined up writing to bring a sense continunity to the words which help them to keep on coming. It just works. I find myself getting lost in a story a lot more when I write by hand. But each to their own. Your stream of consciouness may be better aligned with typing on a keyboard. Also have a think about which time of the day you write best. The mornings work best for me so I make sure I am up good and and early and get the bulk of any writing done then, leaving the afternoons for editing and reviewing (and image sourcing if for a blog post).

Invest in a shiny new notebook

Nothing motivates me more than a brand new notebook, especially an aesthetically pleasing one with a witty or inspirational quote. A new notebook to me symbolises a fresh start. A new story. A new beginning. 

My brain has too many tabs open
Old English Company too many tabs open

Get the room temperature right

If you feel too hot or too cold, you could be prone to fidget and have bouts of restlessness. Much like the importance of getting your bedroom temperature right for a good night's sleep, make sure your working envirionment is equally comfortable. On stifling hot days, invest in a fan or sit outside and be at one with nature. 

Find a workspace free from distractions

Much like the previous point, carve out a comfortable work zone but one that is also free from distractions. Don't work in front of the TV or around anything that could cause distraction. If you work from home, do you have a good work-life balance? If not, consider leaving the house to achieve that balance so at the end of the day, you can come back home and switch off. If you have a summer house or garden studio you can use, this would be a great writer's haven with guaranteed privacy. Libraries offer hushed tones and are another peaceful sanctuary. Otherwise if you are comfortable around other people and aren't easily distracted, consider a co-working space.

Don't push yourself too hard

Know your limits. If the words aren't flowing and you've tried making subtle changes to your routine and these aren't working, don't force it. Give yourself a break and have some time away from your desk or screen. I usually find that I get a whole new wave of inspiration once I step away from the problem and mull it over in my mind for a little while. Giving yourself this time is important for the development of new and existing ideas. 


* This post features this lovely notebook from Old English Company and like all their other notebooks, comes in pink, grey, white or black. They also stock homeware, stationary, greeting cards and much more! This notebook was sent to me in exchange for a review and all views are my own. 

For 15% off your next purchase at Old English Company, use the code OESPECBR15 here

Old English Company notebook

Friday, 11 September 2020

9 things to be mindful of on travel deals sites

You know the drill. An email pings into your inbox from one of the many travel deals sites you are signed up to with a thumbnail of a paradise island with palm trees and crystal clear waters. Said email seductively trying to entice you into a trip to the Maldives because it's 50% off. But is this 'deal' all it's cracked up to be?

Disclaimer: I have nothing agaist travel deals sites like these (I myself are signed up to Secret Escapes, Voyage Prive and Groupon), but rather than immediately losing your head because you've always wanted to go to [insert country here] and it's super cheap and you'd be stupid not to, exercise caution. Why? I'm about to tell you why.

Maldives hanging chair

Remember 50% off is still 50% on

It's an inherent fact of life: We love a bargain. Why buy something full priced when you can get the same thing for less? But you have to remember that whilst 50% off sounds like a great deal, if in the greater scheme of things it's a more expensive holiday, you could actually be spending more overall. Take discounts with a pinch of salt. Is it a destination or hotel that you would consider going to ordinarily if it wasn't on offer? And remember, 50% off is still 50% on.

Is that 'deal' as much of a deal as you think?

Deals sites like these are generally able to offer promotions due to the power of buying in bulk. As long as they get enough people interested in the deal and meet demand and sell it, they aren't out of pocket and can still make their money. My advice? Research. Look around. If you find a hotel you like the look of, go to the actual hotel website and check how expensive the hotel is normally. I remember clicking on a holiday offer where I was told it was 40-something % off however when I consulted the hotel's website and checked their usual rate, the travel deal was in fact only offering 17% off their normal rate. So yes, still a saving, but not as big as they were claiming. One that doesn't justify me getting all riled up and hitting that book button like it's going out of style. If you find a hotel you like, don't take that price as a final offer. Do your research and use travel and hotel comparison sites to find the best price out there.

The room pictured may not be the room you get

You've been there. You've been drawn in by an image of an over water villa. In reality these may just be example thumbnails to lure you to the holiday listing. Scroll down the page and study the rooms offered in the deal. For deals on holiday destinations like the Maldives, they usually offer you the cheaper and lowest grade room. Likely on land, not water (sorry). If it sounds too good to be too true, it probably is.

Maldives over water bungalow

Read the small print

You find an incredible deal for a sunshine holiday and it's 400-and-something in your given currency for 7 days and your cursor is hovering over that book button. STOP RIGHT THERE. Scroll down and read the small print first. Check the board basis. Countless times have I been caught out by something that sounds incredible but in reality is bed only or bed and breakfast. For a trip to Europe that's not a deal breaker as such, but if you're looking further afield at caribbean destinations where your hotel is the only one for miles (or the only hotel full stop), then some sort of food is a must. Some hotels will offer upgrade options where you can pay slightly more for a nicer room or better board, but not always. This depends on the hotel. Do some digging and double check if the offer includes food, flights and transfers and what seasons / months / days of the week are valid. Out of season is generally cheaper, but can have terrible weather, so that could be how the price is so low.

Beware of hidden costs

It's worth double checking about any hidden extra costs. A holiday deal may claim it includes dinner, but in the small print it may say that dinner is only provided for one night. So you'd have to be mindful that you'd need to pay for dinner for the majority of your stay. Some destinations have city tax. And some holidays may throw in a free diving trip, but said diving trip may require you to pay for the equipment hire. You'd be surprised how many hidden extras there are. 

You book a holiday but it's no longer there

Booking through sites like Groupon, Wowcher and the like, they act as the middleman, so this is more like a voucher or credit towards a holiday and isn't an actual booking. Then it's up to us the consumer to contact the hotel / travel site we are using and quote the unique voucher code we received. 

I've read several case studies where people have booked a trip on sites like these, contacted the travel provider, and said travel provider have told them the trip to x at the advertised price has now sold out. Some are palmed off with a lower spec hotel or travel package. Others are given something more expensive so end up having to shell out more. You may not be happy and want your money back. Which is when you are told that your voucher is non refundable and non transferable.

Sites like these have some lovely sunshine breaks abroad, but it's definitely worth bearing the above in mind. I'd personally be more inclined to book up a domestic trip with them as in the event of a booking changing or no longer being available, I'd be a little more confident finding an alternative in a country I am more familar with. But that's completely up to you. Just ensure that you are ATOL or ABTA protected.

Maldives holidays

Watch out for scam travel sites

There are lots of travel deals sites. Take your pick. But beware. There are scammers out there who create fake websites, fake listings and fake social media accounts drawing people to holiday deals and competitions. Scam sites like these can promote accomodation and holiday packages that don't exist, or sell fake airline tickets. Before booking, always check out the website in question. Google it for reviews and stories of other people who have booked through them. Make sure they are ATOL and / or ABTA approved. Avoid paying through bank transfer or cash. Always try to pay by credit card where transactions can be easier to cancel or block. And remember, if in doubt or if the deal looks too good to be true, don't proceed.

Don't be pressured by the countdown timer

You know the one. The countdown that is sat in the sidebar, counting the number of days, hours, minutes and seconds until this once-in-a-lifetime deal expires. I remember frantically getting wound up by it when I found a holiday that was about to expire and I was hurriedly trying to suss out the deal and if it was something I wanted to persue. Anything with a countdown is stressful. Don't let it consume you. When deciding whether you want to book or not, think about how you'd feel if you logged on too late one day and the deal had gone. Would you feel sad and like you'd royally missed out?

Some deals are repeat offenders

Other than the pressure from the countdown timer, another stress point is being told that this is a one time deal and this is your last chance. Not true. I use sites like Secret Escapes and I've seen the same destination pop up several times before. Just because it's expiring in 2 hours time, doesn't mean it won't be back again at some later date. It's always better to wait, do the research, and be better prepared, so if it comes back around again, you can have more confidence booking (or not booking!).

All images are my own. Please credit me and link back to this article if used.

Friday, 4 September 2020

7 ways how to get your home Halloween ready

Create a welcoming entrance hall

Autumn being the season of warm colours like burnt oranges, rusts and reds will help any entrance hall or hallway come alive. Many us decorate our homes with Christmas wreaths, so why not consider an autumn wreath for your front door? The colours of this autumnal wreath are so warming and pleasing to the eye. In similar fashion, string up garlands of autumnal leaves to run up your staircase or over your fireplace, and welcome your visitors with the ever popular Hello Pumpkin door mat, guaranteed to be a frequent sight on your Instagram feed again this year.

Bring the taste of the season into your home

One of the most wonderful things about this season are the magic words: Pumpkin Spice. For a warming taste of autumn, stock up on autumnal themed limited editions like pumpkin spice gin, pumpkin spice chocolate liquor (I've tried the standard Mozart chocolate liquor and can confirm it is divine) and pumpkin spice syrup to give your coffees and hot chocolates an added je ne sais quoi. 

Come up with a table setting 

Laying the table for Halloween doesn't have to mean spider webs and plastic spiders. It really depends on you as a household. If you have young children, you may want to inject some fun and decorate the space together. Otherwise you could always focus on more of an autumnal theme with a pumpkin centrepiece. Decorate with cutesy, miniature, real pumpkins or go artifical for longevity so you can use your pumpkins again year after year. These white pumpkins would suit monochrome, farmhouse or country style decor, or if you fancy something a little glitzier, how about these rose gold light up pumpkins? You can still make a nod to the season by simply changing the colours of your candles to something like these black candlesticks which have great impact. And for pumpkin soup season, why not invest in some cute pumpkin bowls? Whilst many come in traditional 'pumpkin orange', if you fancy something a little more muted, how about this white ceramic pumpkin bowl with lid?

Update your soft furnishings

Soft furnishings are one of the easiest ways to help transform a space. It's always good to have an excuse to buy more cushions! Alternatively you can seek out cushion covers that will enable you to keep your same cushions, but give them a seasonal refresh. Once autumn is over, cushion covers are easy to fold and put away as they don't require much in the way of storage space. If you're feeling crafty and are good with a needle and thread, why not source some autumnal fabric and make your own cushion covers? I just love this pumpkin spice latte fabric

Give your bedding a refresh

Alas the Matalan pumpkin duvet cover of dreams has sold out, but there are plenty of other good ones out there. This set is just as lovely as the Matalan one. Alternatively if you and your family prefer the monochrome look, how about a black and white design like this one? If soft pastels are more your thing, these are a little harder to find as everything is so orange at this time of the year, however I located two examples (above). Isn't this pumpkin spice and everything nice set adorable? 

Create a cosy atmosphere

When the temperatures start to plummet and the leaves begin their metamorphosis, it's the perfect time to watch Halloween movie favourites (Hocus Pocus anyone?) with a cosy throw, hot chocolate in an autumn ready mug and a soft lighting scheme. For ultimate cosy vibes, you can't go wrong with fairy lights and a pumpkin spice candle

Just have fun with it!

If cobwebs and spiders aren't your thing, there are plenty of alternatives out there that you can hang on your walls. If you have a bar cart or a designated drinks area, this Drink Up Witches banner may be up your street. Or if you want to play more towards an autumn theme rather than Halloween, opt for a farmhouse style sign with a wooden frame like this one. Wall art like this can easily be propped against a wall and doesn't necessarily need fixing to the wall (perfect for if you are renting!). Same story with this crow print which doesn't just have to be for Halloween, and would be perfect all year round on any gallery wall. If birds don't freak you out, these ravens can easily be dotted around your home. At the top of the stairs. On the fireplace. In the bookshelves. Above a wardrobe or kitchen cupboard. The possibilities are endless! If you have children, they can help you place them, otherwise why not have a family game of find the ravens? 

Which items are your favourites?

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Friday, 7 August 2020

Why you will never take skirting boards for granted ever again

AD | This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own

"Why do we have skirting boards?" Mr Curiouser and Curiouser asks me one day. "Do we even need them?" Admittedly I am rarely ready for what comes out of his mouth and this was no different. But to be honest, I've never questioned skirting boards (also known as baseboards, mopboards and trim) before. Whether you live in an older property, a new build or a flat, they all tend to come with skirting boards. Skirting boards just exist. But do we need them?

Skirting boards are assumed to have come about in the 1800's during the Victorian era, as these were the earliest use cases on record. Damp proofing had not yet been established so skirting boards were there to prevent rising damp on the walls as well as to protect walls from bumps and knocks, and to reduce draughts as Victorian homes weren't as well insulated as our modern day counterparts. While some classic features like dado rails and picture rails have been phased out of some homes - and not added to new ones - the humble skirting board is still a prevalent feature today.

So with that, some of the many reasons why you should cherish your skirting boards.

They protect your home

Skirting boards protect the wall from any knocks and bumps from pets, the vaccum cleaner, children's toys and if like me, exercise equipment has somehow accumulated in your home. Skirting boards also protect the wall from moisture (say you spring a leak, the house floods, or you have an accident prone family / pets) by forming a physical barrier, and some types even have moisture resistant capabilities which make them the perfect candidate for bathrooms or alongside floors that require frequent mopping.

They are practical

They create a neat join between wall and floor. Skirting boards also seal off any gaps where pet fur, dust, and the like may otherwise gather. A good quality Bullnose skirting board is rounded in design meaning there is nowhere for dust to hide and is easy to clean. They also have the added bonus of hiding any imperfections you may have lower down on the wall like a bad paint job or exposed plaster. 

They look great painted 

Whatever the colour, skirting boards can give nice clean lines. I'm a big fan of dark interiors and a white skirting board can look crisp against a dark wall. I have in fact opted for white in many of the rooms here. In the lounge to lift the dark inky blue walls and wood flooring. In the office to frame the sumptious brinjal walls. And in the bedroom to contrast against the cocooning grey walls. Skirting boards can also give the illusion of high ceilings in rooms with low ceilings if you paint the skirting board the same colour as the walls. 

Skirting boards also have great longevity in that you can always paint them another colour in the future if you fancy a refresh. Interiors are becoming braver and braver in this regard with an influx of coloured skirting boards. Pink skirting boards are having a moment, as are pastel shades like soft blues and greens. 

Dark skirting boards are also very much en vogue. Navy blue skirting boards look incredible with navy stairs and railings against a white or soft grey wall. As do black and grey skirting boards.

They add character

Particularly if you have nice ornate ones. Taller skirting boards can add grandeur to a room. Our ancestors installed these to give the impression they were wealthier than they actually were. Last but not least, skirting boards can look really smart against a statement wallpaper. Especially if you pick out an accent colour from your wallpaper and paint the trim to match. 

So there you have it. Skirting boards exist for practical reasons but can also bring fun, colour, drama or grandeur into your home. It all depends on the type of skirting board, and how you paint them. Writing this feature has me yearning to pick up a paint brush and run riot in the hallway. The only stumbling block is deciding between pastel skirting boards and a matching staircase, or going to the dark side with black or navy blue skirting boards for a monochrome look. Thoughts?

All images Pinterest (original source unknown). If any of these images are yours, please reach out to me so I can fully credit you!

Friday, 10 July 2020

Interiors trends I don't get // Pink and green

I like pink. I like green. I just don't always love them together. And turns out I'm not alone. 

On UK interiors show Best House In Town, a highly commended house which was ticking all the right boxes hit a stumbling block once the judges entered the master bedroom and came face to face with bright green walls paired with light pink bed linen. They were lost for words. And not in a good way. 

For me personally, not all greens work with pink, but I find that there are exceptions to the rule. 


1) A deep green with blue tones so that it's veering on a teal or a dark inky blue. This sort of green works amazingly with pink whether its a soft pink or a bold look-at-me number. 

2) pink paired with greenery in the form of plants. For me that works. Maybe because it's reflective of what you would see in nature. Green grass. Green moss. Largely green flower beds. Pink roses. Pink hydrangeas. Pink peonies.

3) A backdrop which features other colours rather than just the one shade of pink or green. For example a leaf print wallpaper with a white background to it. An entirely green foliage wallpaper can work here too as long as there are several hues of green to make it multi-dimensional (case in point below). Or pair white walls with green and pink furniture or soft furnishings to make those pops of colour sing.


Pair the wrong pink with the wrong green, and you'll soon see how these interiors don't quite work on the same level...

See the difference?

In other news, I have typed 'green' so much that the spelling now looks wrong to me 
.... don't you just hate it when that happens?

What are your thoughts on pink and green interiors?

All images Pinterest (original source unknown). If any of these images are yours, please reach out to me so I can fully credit you!

Friday, 26 June 2020

9 ways to bring more light into your home

AD | This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own

Identify any light blocking sources

Is there anything blocking or obscuring the windows and doors in your home? Is there a large piece of furniture in the way?  Do you have too much furniture in the room? Is your furniture too dark? Is there a large tree outside? 

Once you identity the root of the problem, it can be easy to remedy.

Rearrange your furniture. Alternatively identify if there are are any pieces of furniture not being used - or not being used to their full potential - and use this as an excuse to have a clear out. Your room will instantly feel bigger and lighter. Or simply replace taller pieces with lower level items like a lower sofa or lower storage solutions like sideboards rather than floor to ceiling cupboards. Or replace darker furniture with lighter furniture. The possibilities are endless.

If there is a tree or tall shrub obscuring a window, either cut it back or move it. If it's a smaller tree or plant which you simply don't want any more, why not offer it to a friend, neighbour or family member?

And another common light blocking source... dirty windows. Run a cloth over each of your windows and inspect - the cloth will be dirtier than you think! Cleaning your windows regularly - both inside and out - will ensure that more natural light can filter through into your home and who doesn't love sparkling windows?

Image source: Logan Nolin on Unsplash

Go for lighter window fittings

Are your curtains and blinds too heavy and not working for that particular space? Consider lighter window fittings like voile curtains that flutter in the breeze, or for privacy and light in say your bathroom (or any other rooms where the neighbours can look in!) try window film. Forget traditional, boring, cloudy window film - nowadays there are lots of lovely prints and patterns out there which will allow you to add interest to your windows whilst at the same time allowing light and privacy.

Consider your colour scheme

Keeping your walls light and bright will help create a light and airy space. Avoid bright whites (which can look cold and clinical) and instead opt for off-whites, pale greys, pastels or brights like sunny yellows. Be brave. Paint isn't expensive so you can always change your mind later! 

Design a lighting scheme

Poor lighting isn't just in relation to natural light - this also extends to artificial light (think lamps and light fittings around the home). The best artificial light will enhance any natural light coming into your home rather than take away from it. Consider LED bulbs (which are 90% more energy efficient than regular bulbs) and dimmer switches or additional lighting such as sconces and table lamps, which will allow you to both soften and layer the lighting in your home.

Get clever with mirrors 

Place a large mirror on the wall opposite to or adjacent to a window to help bounce the light around the room. Same applies with glass and / or mirrored furniture which can help a smaller space feel bigger.

Go for gloss

Whether it's paint, wall tiles, floor tiles, worktops or kitchen units, glossy surfaces reflect the light (similar to the way that a mirror would). I used to hate the glossy white wall tiles in our bathroom but now I appreciate that they keep the space light and bright and make what is a small room appear much bigger. 
Install skylights or a sun tunnel

An instant way to brighten up an extension or a dingy hallway is to add skylights (think Velux windows) or a sun tunnel which will allow natural light to come flooding in from above.

Install bifolds or sliding doors

Another way to brighten up a new extension - or an unextended home - is by installing bifolds or sliding doors. In both cases the slim frames and large expanses of glass help draw the eye to the outside space and help frame the view. Bifold doors open up completely which can provide more of a link to the outside, however the glass panels are often narrower, meaning you get less of a picture frame effect when the doors are closed. Sliding doors on the other hand, tend to have larger panes of glass so whether open or closed, can offer a less obscured view of the outside. 

Glass is your friend

Hallways can be dingy spaces and whilst you can paint your wooden banisters and railings white, thicker banisters and railings can still be blocking precious light from filtering through the different levels of your home. One way of counteracting this is by replacing your staircase with a glass option like one of these glass balustrades from TuffX Glass so the light can pass through without any obstacles. I know from personal experience that having cats and wooden banisters is not the one (my banisters are so clawed up they could easily be mistaken for a woodworm infestation!) so the idea of having hardy metal railings or slimline glass would make our hallway look a little more polished as well as lighter and brighter!

Image source: TuffX GlassImage source: TuffX Glass

Friday, 12 June 2020

11 things filling my ASOS basket lately

Broderie collar shirt (currently in the sale here) // Wine broderie dress (also in sale here) // Pink knit (also in sale here)
White dobby dress here // Khaki tie waist linen shorts here // White dobby shirt here

White broderie collar shirt

I've been toying with this shirt for the longest time but is it too extra? Turns out it's not. The balloon sleeves help balance out the wide shoulders brought on by the collar. My only slight criticism is that the body of the shirt is just way too big. Tucking the shirt in seems to help with this but I have re-ordered in a smaller size to see if a smaller size is the play here.

Another broderie collar shirt

From one broderie collar shirt to another (not pictured but you can find here) however this one is a little more low key with short sleeves and more of a normal fit. I can imagine it looking lovely peeking out from under a chunky knit.

Broderie dress

Most broderie dresses are white, long and free flowing, so I really liked this shorter version in this gorgeous wine colour with a square neckline. The dress is every bit as lovely in person and looked great on, however this enthusiasm quickly waned once I noticed a questionable crispy white stain on the front of the dress (there are no words).

White dobby shirt

I have an obsession with anything dobby and while white can be a bit of a soul less colour - particularly in interiors - this raised texture gives it an added dimension and interest. The good news? Dobby textures are starting to appear everywhere. Light boho inspired curtains and table cloths. Bedding (I have been longing over this bedding plus this). And of course clothing. I already have two white dobby shirts so why the need for a third? Because they are timeless and by far one of the most used things in my wardrobe. Perfect for a day at the office, worn casually with shorts, or as a beach cover up.

White dobby dress

Another dobby inspired find (can you tell that I'm obsessed?). It felt a little too restrictive (and conservative) when buttoned to the top. I actually preferred the dress worn back to front with the buttons behind me - is that weird?

Pink bobble knit jumper

A very similar concept in terms of that lovely raised detail to run your hands over, whilst at the same time adhering to my new found love of the colour pink as touched upon here. This sweater just looked so slouchy and comfortable and I imagined it looking amazing with one of the above broderie collar shirts worn underneath. In person it is slouchy and comfortable as well as being softer than I ever imagined. Definitely a keeper.

Tie waist shorts

I'm a big fan of khaki and high waisted trousers / skirts / shorts so these ticked many boxes. I love how ASOS have paired them with a white shirt which is exactly how I would style them and has me thinking back to that white dobby shirt (damnit).

Tie ankle espadrilles (currently in the sale here) // Leaf print shirt here
Leaf print shorts here // Vero Moda cut out sandals here

Tie ankle espadrilles

Ankle tie espadrilles are taking the world by storm. It can be tricky to find the perfect heel - not too high, not too low - but these fit the bill perfectly. And let me tell you now, these shoes go with everything and I will treasure for years to come. A huge thank you to Josie who first brought these to my attention through her amazing #ootd posts!

Grey cut out flats

I'm getting old and I just can't deal with heels any more. They ruin your feet and I just don't have the patience for them any more. I love a bit of grey and I thought the cut out detailing of these sandals was a bit more interesting than say a traditional sandal. What I've been impressed with is how incredibly comfortable they are due to the padding underfoot.

Patterned shirt and shorts

First things first. This isn't leaf print like they claim. It's more like jungle print or tree print, but trees do have leaves so I'll allow it. Introducing the weirdest fit ever. The shorts are very close fitting (I prefer shorts to have a little more give in them) whereas the shirt is stupid big. I actually had to return the UK size 8 and reorder in a UK size 6. And even that was huge. So if you order for yourself I'd recommend sizing up on the shorts and sizing down for the top. It's quite a jazzy coord set for something that is designed for everyday use (something that I can't get my head around). I ordered primarily to use as pyjamas as I love pyjama shirt / shorts combos and you can't usually find them in such interesting prints, however I will be returning due to the weird sizing. Had the shirt been a normal fit, it would have been a completely different story.

Which items are your favourites?