Mismatched Chairs

I love the look of mismatched chairs, I utterly blame Monica’s apartment in Friends. How cool was her kitchen?? I think I’ve been trying to emulate that look and feeling ever since.  When we bought our dining room table, we didn’t buy a set of matching chairs to go with it.  I had chairs why would I want matching ones? My poor husband despairs of me, he loves everything to match.

Our current set of dining room chairs are a couple of antique ladder back chairs which a kind lady I worked with gave me 20 years ago. And three Ikea chairs we bought about 5 years ago when we started hosting more family Sunday dinners. However as time’s gone by it’s not really enough now, we have friends and their now large children over for dinner on a regular basis. We really need about eight or nine chairs.

I therefore jumped at the chance to choose a couple of chairs from the new Habitat dining furniture range to review.  They have a new season available and they have some lovely chairs.  I went with two very traditional looks which go with the other chair shapes I have in the dining room.

However after having them in the house for about 5 minutes, I realised maybe one of my current chairs might look a smidge shoddy next to the new shiny totally on trend grey Habitat chairs!  Look at how gorgeous they are next to my more shabby than chic  much loved chair!

So how to make the old ones look more up to date?  I had a look on Pinterest and there are some great ways to display mismatched chairs, I’ve even created a handy Pinterest board so you can see all the different types of looks you can throw together.  You can get ones that are all the same shape in different colours, or different shapes in the same colour range or just go for it and have them all in different colours and shapes and embrace the madness!

Initially I was going to paint all mine different shades of grey, but then long suffering husband objected! I didn’t realise he really liked the blue painted chair so I’ve had to reign in my idea.  I’ve decided to paint just the super shabby white chair (last painted in 2008!) and to also re-cover the seat pad with grey velvet fabric.

I have broken out my trusty can of Annie Sloan Paris Grey and painted the frame. In hindsight if I was doing this again I think I’d just use a tester can of Farrow and Ball. For some reason the paint came out super thick this time and it’s needed two coats which is really unusual. It’s really odd I’ve not had Annie Sloan paint do that before, but maybe it’s the cold temperature of my house as the boiler has been broken for 2 weeks so it’s pretty cold in here! It could have thickened it up I guess?

And then I bought some wadding from the local craft store and ordered a small amount of pale grey velvet from eBay.


Lay down the velvet, pop the wadding on top (if you need it) and then the seat base

Then use a staple gun to secure it – mind your fingers! But it’s really simple to fold the fabric round and staple.

Chair done!


Now I have a nice groups of mismatched chairs, some in wood, some in grey and a random blue one!  They look great and I have more than enough chairs for my guests!.

 

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My Country Style

I was thrilled to be offered the chance to make over a piece of furniture from Out There Interiors. They have some really beautiful pieces of furniture and home accessories which really tie in with my Country Style.

They let me choose a piece of furniture and the challenge was to adapt it to how I see country style. I LOVE this little bedside table, all curved legs and nice solid frame.  I did feel a bit bad painting it to be honest, the wood was rather beautiful but it wouldn’t have fitted in. I went with a painted finish, Annie Sloan Paris Grey in case you were wondering.

 

And then to accessorise….this took me forever to decide.  I love so many country looks from Shabby Chic to Modern Country, it was so hard to decide.  In the end I went with the vibe I’m into at the moment which is a modern French Country look.  I added some my favourite ‘coffee table’ decorating books, white roses (always!) and my very favourite candle holder that I bought in North Norfolk this summer.  I’m thrilled with the table, it looks fantastic and I’m looking forward to many years of using such a lovely item.

**full disclosure I received a bedside table for this challenge*

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{Review} BHS Lighting

I really like BHS Home website, there are some quite wonderfully eclectic and cool things on there. 

They asked me if I’d like to review one of their items. I didn’t have enough budget for one of the massive beautiful bed throws, and there was some gorgeous bedsheets, but super king size had run out!

I had a wander round the house, and had a good think about what I needed and then it came to me!

I bought an ‘on trend’ black and gold light shade for our bedroom and it just doesn’t go. Paul hates it with a passion and Miss L doesn’t like the light it throws out. But as I bought it 4 months ago I wasn’t just going to swap it out for a new one without feeling massively guilty.  I checked the BHS lighting page and chose a beautiful duck egg, crystal lampshade which caught my eye. It was £50 so on budget too!

When it arrived it was possibly the best packaged thing I’ve ever received and it took ages to get out of the packaging. Just perfect!

It’s really lovely, and I’m thrilled with it. The ‘crystals’ are of course a resin but it’s still quite heavy to hang so be a bit careful if you have older cables. Lord knows how heavy actual chandeliers are!

I have to say it looks a lot better hanging in our shabby chic bedroom than the black and gold shade. 

And now it’s up I’ve realised I forgot to paint round the ceiling rose, what a wally! And quite how dull the newly painted white wall behind our bed is…that might have to change again…he he!

**full disclosure I received a free light shade for this review and the old lampshade is packed up for the mythical ‘next house’ one day we’ll find one…**

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Rugs from Carpetright

I spent about three months looking for a new lounge rug , and bought one about a month ago.  Then I had an email from Carpetright asking me if I’d like to review their new range of rugs, I didn’t know they did rugs and it never occurred to me that they would!.

I have bit of a soft spot for Carpetright, all the carpets from our first two houses came from them and they are cheap and hard wearing. So I was quite interested to see what they had one offer as finding a nice stylish rugs is much harder than you’d think, especially having wasted hours looking for one!  I was sent a pretty decent selection to choose from and I went with the charcoal patterned rug.

Yes I know this pattern is everywhere in the American blogs, but it’s next to impossible to get it here and I’d loved it for ages.

The rug looks nice in my lounge, but is a smidge too small.  I’m just making over the office and I’ll think it’ll look good in there, it’s lovely and thick so should be good to keep the room warm in the colder months.  But I’m super pleased with it, I look forward to seeing what other rugs will be on offer in the coming months.

 

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My Adventures in House Hunting

I have now been to see 10-15 houses in the last 6 months and I’ve still not found one we want to buy.  House buying/selling is incredibly expensive now, so as a buyer I’m thinking twice but third and forth times too!  I’m not saying a house has to be perfect, that would be dull but there are certain things that trigger warnings in my head.

So here’s what I’ve learnt in my 6 months of house hunting….

1. Let the estate agents show it, don’t do it yourself.  

A) you’re paying them a LOT of money, make them do some work.

B) It’s beyond awkward walking around a house with the owner trying to be enthusiastic about anything you can see. And then trying to think of an appropriate goodbye, when you know you are never, ever setting foot in that house again.  Maybe this is an #Englishproblem?

2. Clean your house, and then clean it again.

Then call round your most picky friend or relative to pass muster. Having a dog I know I could be ‘nose blind’ to smells, so having someone to check my house doesn’t smell of wet dog is essential.  And I know it’s not easy to keep it clean (especially living with kids and animals) but do a deep clean to start with and then clean as appropriate going forwards.

Today I went to visit what looked on paper like a lovely house.  Was confronted with three bathrooms FULL of black mould and loos that hadn’t been cleaned in the last…2 years? Delightful! The estate agent suggested I could always replace the bathrooms (they were THAT BAD!) not for the price they were asking!

3. De-clutter…but not too much.

I quite like family pictures around the house, books and of course children have toys in their rooms. It’s normal and makes me like your house, also I get to see how you use/need storage.  Houses without ‘stuff’ are cold and clinical and frankly a bit weird.  I can think of three houses, that have put me off as there were only beds in the bedrooms, what’s up with that?

4. Insane Colours

Now I know not everyone’s taste is the same and hopefully most people can look past a room layout or room colour, but there are a lot of people who really, really can’t.  So tone down super bright colours and if in doubt white paint will make any room look better. Dull but sellable!

5. Finish up DIY jobs.

I found a house that I LOVED, double fronted Victorian, right sized garden, it even had a back porch but…so so so many DIY jobs that needed doing. Peeling paint in bathrooms – ‘why?’ of course sprang to mind – looked up and all the vents were blocked, easy in a normal house to sort but not one with 17ft ceilings and a shower underneath! Wouldn’t have even noticed them if they’d been clear. Plug sockets were off, ceiling roses missing/bare wires, all the garage windows smashed. Lots of little jobs which became quite hefty, once you started adding them up.

6. Get certification

The Victorian House of dreams had a pretty big nightmare lurking. Had a chat with the owner, a builder and he had done a beautiful jobs installing reclaimed fireplaces and floorboards etc. Now as you know from my electrical nightmares with this house, I am maybe a little paranoid when it comes to electrics now.  So I asked who’d done the work on the electrical re-furbish of the Victorian House and I got this answer ‘Well I did them all, I’ve got no certification but I know what I’m doing’. WTH??

That was a MASSIVE red flag and that’s that house was out of the running. I know how much it cost to just re-do the lighting circuit of this house and the Victorian House was three times the size, so re-doing all of it would be about 10k.  If he’d said, ‘I did it but I’ve had it certified and it’s safe, here’s the paperwork’. I might have been slightly more accepting.

7. Stuff you can’t change and does affect the price of your house whether you like it or not.

We went to see a 10 year old estate house. It was super clean and tidy, perfect amount of bedrooms and downstairs was a good size. The nice lady owner showed us round and then we went into the garden…oh my word…. the road noise was awful. I hadn’t appreciated from the map that the road which was a fair distance away was so loud. This is a super busy 24/7 road,  living with it would be horrendous.  We aren’t even that picky we live on a main road now, but not being able to hear anything in the garden other than traffic is not good.  I think the road must be higher than the garden or something?

However she wanted the same price as other houses on the same estate, which were much much further away from the road and quieter. Just nuts!. Funnily enough I’ve just seen it re-list this week with a new estate agents, so I don’t think maybe anyone is being honest with her or she’s just desperate to hit that amount?

8. Internet

It’s like having mains gas (not as common as you’d think in the country) or electricity it should be on house details what your average speed is. If you have a good speed show it off!! Here’s a good little site to test your speed. Tell your estate agent and make a massive deal of it if it’s good and be upfront if it’s a bit rubbish.

If people work from home on the internet and you have a good speed then that is a massive selling point. My parents get 1.2mbps on a good day if the wind is blowing in the right direction. That practically means no Neflix, video chat, uploading files or photos to the internet and surfing is pretty painful. So working from home would be next to impossible…or living in the 21st Century, to be honest!  Which is fine AS LONG AS YOU KNOW!   If we lived there we’d be stuffed.

9. Big up your local facilities

We’re about to get a new school behind us and a cinema down the hill, the estate agent will be making a lot of this when we go to sell. Look around in your local neighbourhood and see what could attract people.

What’s your best selling tip??  I’m off to look at Rightmove again, wish me luck!

 

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Competition from abodent.com {UK Only}

I have a competition for you all today. abodent.com would like to give one lucky reader £30 voucher to spend on their website!  All you have to do is a leave a comment below *saying what you’d buy and I’ll run a lucky number generator to pick the winner.

Abodent.com have a wonderful collection of drawer knobs, coat hooks and home accessories on their site.  I’ve picked out a few of my favourites below.  I really need to find somewhere to use those bunny knobs!

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You can see more of their collections on their Facebook Page , Twitter and on their Instagram pages.

Looking forward to your comments and announcing a winner!

Rules:

1. Competition runs from 2nd June 2015 – 9th June 2015. Winner will be selected on the 10th June 2015 and notified via email and my Violet Posy social media pages

2. One comment per entry/email address

3. Open to residents of the UK aged 18 and over.  All entries will be checked and verified.

4. First Comment made will be number 1 for purposes of running random.org generator

4. The winner will have 72 hours to respond with their details, otherwise a new winner will be picked, following the same procedure.

5.  The winner will be sent out the voucher, direct from Abodent.

* edit 3/6/2015 forgot to specify yesterday. Entries from yesterday are still valid.

 

*****Competition Now Closed*********

 

And the winner is…….

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Congrats Helen Merrick!!!!

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Blue Bedrooms

Not that I’m planning ahead or anything, but viewing new houses has made me think about changing up my style a bit. I’m rather liking the serenity of blue bedrooms, and I’ve found some fun ideas for spare bedrooms.

Here’s some of the bits I’ve found so far, imagine these with some crisp white sheets…

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The map is in fact custom canvas from wallpapered.com they made this image especially for me and it’s where I met Paul! Love it!  You can get it from wallpapered starting from £38.95

I love love love this Arne Jacobsen The Egg Chair with Ottoman from Italia Designs, isn’t it the most gorgeous colour?  However it’s a budget busting £731.00 so I can dream.

And this cute lamp from Next’s new summer range which is £25 and I think it looks like sea glass, just gorgeous.

I can’t wait to start on a new house!

 

 

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Home Technology

This is a sponsored post by Legal and General, they’ve written about home tech here and asked me if I’d write a post about Home Technology. They came to the right place!  We went to Curry’s a couple of weeks ago, and I was amazed at how much new home technology is out there now.

One quick wander round a store and we saw…

A floor cleaning robot (small children were torturing it with bit of large paper, poor thing), an LG Washing Machine which you can control from your smart phone, TV’s you can voice activate, wifi lighbulbs (no idea why you’d need those but they looked cool!) and the new massive Dyson ‘fan’ which frankly looks like wonderful black magic.

It was one of those trips to the shops when you realise as an 80’s child, that you do in fact live in the future.

So this has made me think, as a techie household we really have a surprisingly small amount of home tech. The most interesting thing we have at the moment is a kettle where you can choose the temperature of the water and that is surprisingly handy.  We are fairly pragmatic about tech though and I think that it has to make your life better/easier to warrant the extra expense of buying it. I am the woman since unplugging the microwave a month ago, I’ve only plugged it back in twice…maybe I don’t need it anymore!

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But what would we use?  I think if we were staying in this house we’d get the boiler changed and I’d have something like Nest installed to control the heat in the house from my phone, that would be amazing and save on bills.  In fact I think the next house that will be something we install fairly soon after we move in.

I love the idea of this ‘Energy Egg Smart Light Switch‘ which turns off lights when you’ve left the house or the room. It’s my husband’s dream product!

Bluetooth speakers are now cheap and everywhere it seems, you can even get them in lightbulbs which I LOVE the idea of these Playbulbs just make me happy and I think I’ll have to get some.  They even do them for the garden now too.

Now if I had the money, and the right sized kitchen this is a perfect storm of two of my favourite things, an Aga you can control from your iPhone…..but that is a lottery win wish!

I asked my friends on Facebook to see if they had any new home tech and what they thought of it.  Here’s what they said…

Helpful Mum from ‘You’re not from Around Here‘ says ‘Our robot hoover is amazing. It cleans the dining room and hall for me so I have a few less jobs to do. It’s a Roomba iRobot. When B&B guests have finished, I clear the dining room and pop the hoover in there. It means I never have to hoover the dining room. It also does the hall, which leaves fewer jobs for me. I don’t use it on the bedrooms because it tends to get stuck under beds.’

Old school friend James recommends the  Xiaomi Mi Band  – ‘it’s great, buzzes to alert you to messages / calls on iphone and android, it’s a fitness and sleep tracker (like fitbit etc) and costs ~£12 (unlike fitbit etc!).  Waterproof and battery lasts between 30 and 60 DAYS between charges.   If you’re on android 5.0 + it acts as a trusted device to lock and unlock your phone so if you’re out of range it locks the phone automatically and unlocks it when you’re in range’.

Nik from niksargent.com – ‘withings scales; withings blood pressue monitor; withings pulse (health monitor); Philips baby monitor & Philips IP cams; bekin wemos; lifx lighting; easybulb lighting; pebble watch; Tile trackers; And soon to be re-instated our fully connected IOT bumblebee nest environment (Spin remote on order; Flic trackers on order; netatmo weather station on order; heatmiser neokit on order) – (for the avoidance of doubt, these are all internet connected devices)’

His top tip for lighting is ‘cheapest smart/wifi bulbs I have found are the easybulb range – just installed about 15… sadly they can’t be controlled by the ifttt.com service, whereas the lifx bulbs can…’

Do you guys have any amazing home tech that your use, or think is worth buying? Would love to hear about it!

***Sponsored post and I will get a little cleaning floor robot…and it will probably die of dog hair inhalation***

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Kitchen Re-Furb Reveal!

As most of you know, a new kitchen has been on my to-do list forever!  It’s small, but extending it would cost a fortune I don’t have.

Over the years I painted it, got rid of the faux Oak and that’s looked ok for a good few years, we got rid of some cupboards and got a dishwasher in.  But paint only lasts so long and it was looking really tired and we’ve decided that we’d like to move. I saw from the Estate Agents faces when they were valuing the house, that they saw the kitchen and the state of it was a problem. The rest of the house is fine, but there was lots of muttering about well the kitchen will need ‘some work’.

Thankfully a new franchise opened in town that does doors and worktops and general refurbs for kitchens. The cabinets of mine are fine, need a clean inside like everyone else but are solid and good. The tiles are an inoffensive country cream and the sink and tap are about three years old so I thought I’d keep those.  So we thought about it, got a quote for new doors, worktops, drawer fronts and drawers (mine were ancient and falling apart), kick boards, pelmets and infills with fitting and we went for it…and I am so so so pleased we did. It looks wonderful!

Here is the before:  (floral tablecloth is there to stop me using the disconnected sink!)

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After three days of very hard work by the lovely kitchen fitter who was an amazing craftsman, it now looks like a new room. The only real disaster, was when the ancient induction hob was being lifted out it cracked an broke! So a new one had to be ordered, which is much better than the old one. Thankfully none of the tiles popped off when the worktops were coming in and out which was a worry.  But here is my brand new shiny kitchen!

After:

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The floor was skimmed to make it flat and then filled in where we’d taken a cabinet out for the dishwasher. Then we had Rhino Floor laid over the tiles.  It looks amazing and I’m glad I went with it rather than tile as it makes it a bit warmer in there as there isn’t any heating.

I’ve moved the microwave and popped in on top of the fridge freezer as we hardly ever use it. It’s made a massive difference to the corner where the bread bin is, the room weirdly seems a lot more spacious now there more counter space.

I am one happy girl!

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Review: Flamingo Gifts

I’m still slaving over making the office back into a bedroom. In the middle of the book sorting madness (SEVEN bin bags went to charity!) I had an email from Flamingo Gifts asking if I’d like to try any of the items on their website. Yes I would! I really needed a nice little present to cheer me up..this job is never ending.

Miss L has been having some horrible (hormone related) nightmares of late so I picked a Gummy Bear nightlight hoping that it’d be of help and it was super cute.

I chose for me a horses head squirrel feeder. We’ve only recently started getting squirrels in the garden so I thought it’d be nice to encourage them. Also because I am basically a small child, I thought it was hilarious!. But I’m sure they’ll enjoy the nuts I’ve put in there once they figure it out.  I gave the last choice to Miss L and she choose a hand held old school mirror. I swear she’s been watching way too many Disney movies of late. It’s now living on her desk, so it’s getting lots of use, I suspect trying to sneak on makeup is coming soon.

They turned up the next day and we’ve been enjoying them ever since. The Gummy Bear nightlight has been a god send, it’s the right level of light and not on all night as there is a little switch at the bottom you can flick to give it a timer,  so it’s not eating the batteries by being on all the time.  Also you squeeze it’s tummy to turn it on which just makes it way too much fun too use! 

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Gummy Bear Lamp

Thanks so much Flamingo Gifts! You brightened my week!  Go check them out some interesting gifts 🙂

**Full disclosure I relieved the above goods for this review**

 

 

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No Sew Roman Blind

I’m in the middle of converting the office from hell, back into a lovely sunny little bedroom.  Half the room is now painted but the new coat of paint made the window dressing look really tired and dated. So what to do?

It’s a small room so I wanted to keep a roman blind (no small children sleep in there, I wouldn’t use it in a child’s room) and this is mostly for show to sell the house. I popped on the internet and looked for new ones and they are really expensive for a large window £60 upwards and eBay had similar prices and I didn’t have that much in the budget.

So I took down the old one (ancient Ikea), had a look at it and apart from being dusty and sun bleached it wasn’t too bad as it still worked. I had a look on Pinterest and saw some posts about recovering roman blinds so I figured why not?  Here are the posts which helped me if you want a read : Chic Little House  Susie Harris Blog  Home Stories A to Z they’re all really useful and use different methods to the one I used.

Now I can’t sew, buttons, hems…yeah that’s about my limit!  So I measured the blind, bought some fabric from our local fabric shop and some wonder web iron on. Total £33.

What you’ll need:

Fabric – a bit too big to cover so you can make hems

Wonder web

An Iron.

Important note! **Make sure you have some thing under the fabric if you are ironing on something like a rug, I used a towel as I didn’t want to damage the rug. Some rugs would just have melted!**

How to:

This is a big blind 120cm wide and almost 2m long so this had to be done on the lounge floor.  So layout your old blind.

No sew Roman Blind

Take a while and lay the fabric on top and get the pattern straight – this will take a while and drive you a bit nuts. If you have any sense, pin it in so it stays in the right place (I didn’t do that and as a result it took twice as long to do!) trim it a little too big so you can make a nice hem.

Then get your first edge, cut some wonderweb and iron it in. This is the scary part!  I started at the top (cut a couple of holes for the hanging loops) and the worked my way down the sides and then bottom last.

No sew Roman Blind

I faffed about and followed the edges of the folds in the blind and wonder webbed them in too. I probably didn’t need to do that but I thought it might give a nicer finish.

No sew Roman Blind
laying out fabric

As you can see here I should have left more of an edge on the fabric and I *just* managed to pull it off! phew!  But edge it all the way round with a nice hot iron.

No sew Roman Blind

Once you’ve edged it all the way round pop it back up and you have a lovely new blind! I’m really pleased with how it’s worked, if it’s still hanging at the weekend, I’ll be impressed!.

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Painted Dresser

I first posted about getting this dresser from eBay back in Jan 2011. I can’t believe I’ve had it this long!  And finally I’ve gotten round to painting it. Better late than never!

You can’t see it from this picture, but there was some water damage down the left handside and tons of Betty scratches from when she was a large puppy.  Also it sucked the light in the room, so painting it seemed like a good idea.  I used Annie Sloan, only one coat just in case I decided that I wanted to change the colour, I wasn’t too sure about more white in the room.

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I used a lot of frog tape to keep the edges sharp and I left the top wooden, and I did back of it in white as well as I haven’t chosen an accent colour for the room yet.  Here’s the finished article!

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Christmas with John Lewis and Tree Hilarity

John Lewis asked me if I’d like a new Christmas Tree and £50 of baubles to decorate it with…of COURSE I WOULD!!

Our old artificial tree was bought our first Christmas together as I’m allergic to read trees and after 14 years was looking a bit ropey. Also I had to weigh it down with the Argos catalogue, to stop it falling over every year because it never stood right – so classy!. We were thinking of getting a new tree for this year, when John Lewis’s generous offer came along.

I had the choice of a 6ft, 7ft or a whopping 8ft tree. Now I am bit of a small child when it comes to Christmas and I firmly believe that a tree should be much bigger than me or anyone else in the house. I have childhood memories of 30ft Disney Christmas trees at Disney World and I think I’m always trying to replicate that feeling of being small while the tree is massive!   I measured our ceiling and it’s about 9.5ft high, so I thought that the 8ft tree would be a bit too big, therefore I went for the 7ft tree.

Tree came in no time, and we put it up at the weekend. It’s much, much easier to put up than the old one. That had colours and you had to match the colours with the right bit of the tree – a right old faff. This one you just pull out, slot together and pull out the branches to fluff. So simple, and tree was up in under 10 minutes!

Except, I hadn’t measured right! I hadn’t taken the base into consideration! So it was a wee bit too tall!

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After much laughter and my family, giggling at my inability to measure anything (I do have a track record for buying things way too big!). We took the bottom layer our and the tree was the perfect height! But when I get my imaginary next house with Victorian height ceilings it’s going to look amazing full size!

The baubles are lovely, I ordered mostly gold and red, as that’s pretty much tradition in our house. But I spoilt myself as this year as there are no toddlers or puppies in the house, I chose some glass baubles as well as non-shatterproof ones.   For £50 I managed to get about 60 baubles, 50 non-shatter and then about 10 more expensive glass ornaments and the tree topper.

I think this is my favourite, it makes me smile every time I see it

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Here are a few of my other favourites, a beautiful mercury glass topper

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Shatterproof sparklies!

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Gold glass, just lovely!

 

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Here’s the tree with the decorations on and our lights, it looks very realistic and so pretty!  Thanks so much John Lewis!

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**Full disclosure I received a Christmas Tree and £50 of baubles from John Lewis**

 

 

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