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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Gigaset G-Tag Review

I am a nightmare for loosing my keys, I’ve found them in the fridge and when I was pregnant even once in the oven!

Gigaset asked if I’d like to try their G-Tag fob which you can either attach to a set of keys, or chuck it in your car if you can never remember where you’ve parked (handy for Disney! I’ve lost so many cars there). If Miss L still had those ‘doll’ Clarks shoes I’d pop one in there, we can NEVER find her shoes in the mornings!

It works with the Bluetooth on your phone and it has an iOS and android app. You register with Gigaset pair your phone with the tag, and then off you go.

It tells you when it’s in range, and bleeps at you when you’re close (you can mute it if you don’t like noises, like me).

If you’re out of range it will bring up a map of where you last had it and handily your phone can be set to alert you, should you walk off and leave your keys or whatever you have tagged!

I was worried about the Bluetooth using up the battery on my phone but it seems ok so far, no worse than my car stereo. The battery in the fob lasts a year, I think it’s just a watch battery to replace.

They are £19.99 on Amazon and if you’re forgetful like me, dead handy!

**Full disclosure I received a G-Tag for free**

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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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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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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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Upcycling Garden Furniture with Farrow & Ball Paint

Farrow and Ball wanted to know if I’d like to upcycle piece of garden furniture with their exterior paint – OF COURSE!!!

I love Farrow and Ball a little too much, as pretty much the interior of my house is painted in it, Wimborne White is everywhere!. But I’ve never used the exterior paint or primers, so I was excited to be able to try them out.

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I have an ancient Ikea table kicking around in the shed, which has seen better days and we tend to use it for putting BBQ plates and food waiting to be cooked. But it’s really old and is now impossible to clean which isn’t great for BBQ’s. That seemed like the ideal candidate for a makeover.

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I chose Teresa’s Green, which I thought would be a medium duck egg blue which would tie in with the other colours in my garden, yeah it’s not at all.  It’s a beautiful delicate, pale duck egg blue – oops!  But it meant I also chose the wrong primer colour, I should have gone with the one for pale colours and not the dark colours, turns out it didn’t matter that much.

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I didn’t do much (read any!) prep on it, other than brush off some spider webs and stand it up. I then painted it with the Dark Primer – which is a really nice colour, it’s a dark grey which actually looks lovely.  It took me 20 minutes to paint the primer on and I left it while I did the school run to dry in the sun.

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When we got back we sat out in the sunshine and painted on the Teresa’s Green, it actually covered the primer well which was a surprise as it was so pale. It dries really quickly in the sun and I managed to get a second coat on before sundown and left it to try overnight.  That was two days ago and it’s been sitting outside in the autumn elements and this morning it absolutely poured down on it when I left the house. I came home this afternoon and it’s still looks perfect!  According to the can it should last for 6 years, so that’s that table done for a long time.

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I’m so pleased with it, and although I can’t use the left over paint for my laundry door, as it’s too pale for the house. I’m going to use it for my dining room chairs as it’s the perfect pale colour to go with my newly Wimborne White dining room.  Which gives me the excuse to try a new colour on the laundry room door…hmmm which colour..I really like that dark grey!

***Full disclosure – This feature/challenge is brought to you in collaboration with Farrow & Ball***

 

 

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{Review} Homebase Soft Furnishings

Homebase asked me if I’d like to try their new soft furnishing range. Originally it was supposed to be a rug, but it turned out that my local store didn’t sell them. So I changed to cushions – which is a good thing! I made a massive decorating error a couple of years ago when we got the new sofa’s.  They are dark grey, it was December and I went mad with festive red. We have a red rug (which I now hate!) and lots of red cushions. It looks amazing in November/December, pretty much looks ridiculous the rest of the year, it’s like the ‘Home Alone’ lounge! I have regretted it ever since, so I was quite pleased to be asked to review cushions. IMG_3071 My ‘local’ Homebase is 15 miles away from my house so it’s not somewhere I pop to on a regular basis. So I was quite surprised when I visited to see it had been made over and is now a very lovely Homebase ‘Design’ Centre. The difference is amazing, it’s gone from looking like somewhere my Dad would love to shop, to somewhere I can browse, rather than rush in buy paint and leave. it’s now full of decorating ideas and helpful staff who can advise on pretty much anything. As a result of the changes, there is now a small home furnishing section which has some cute shabby chic inspired cushions (the knitted ones are fab!) and picture frames, vases and candles (LOVE the owl candles there!) and there is also now a mini Habitat which is now part of the Homebase/Argos group. IMG_3073 They had the loveliest grey cushions, so I snapped up the super cute owl cushion which has enough red in it to go with my other cushions but grey enough to tone down the other red cushions, and a lush silver grey velvet cushion. They’re lovely and the sofa now looks a lot less ‘red’ and festive. IMG_3078 I’m really pleased with them, the lounge still looks snuggly but less…well red!  Thanks Homebase! **Full Disclosure: I received £60 of Homebase vouchers in order to review these cushions**

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{Review} Spring Clean with Vileda

Despite my house looking like a painting bomb site, I decided to do a mini Spring clean this week because the nice people at Vileda sent me a bunch of cleaning goodies.

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Now I have to shamefully admit that the washing up sponges have gone straight in the cupboard as I’ve not done one bit of washing up since I got my dishwasher. But they will come in useful when we have friends who visit with their children and their bits and bobs have to be hand-washed.

But let me just talk about the other items they sent me.  I loved the 1 2 Mini Spray Mop, it’s awesome for cleaning large glass surfaces.  It has a mini spray bottle in the handle, which you can fill up with your glass cleaner of choice and a large micro-fibre head which then cleans and you can chuck in the washing machine afterwards. Now me being me decided not to clean my windows (it was raining like mad!) so I cleaned my shower with it instead.

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I sprayed my Method cleaner all over the shower, left it for a couple of minutes and then scrubbed it with the Mini Mop and it came up brilliantly.  I find the glass of the shower quite hard to clean because it’s so big and it’s really easy to miss bits, but this worked much better than just a cloth.  If it ever stops raining here I’ll give it a go on the windows.

Now for the microfibre cloth, I love, love, love! We have some which are for want of a better explanation skinny micro-fibre cloths and they just kind of shove the dust about so you have to lightly spray them first. These thought aren’t like that they are like a really thick old fashioned duster and they really hold the dust.

To give them a good test I throughly dusted my TV stand, it’s where dust goes to die and instead of spreading dust look it held it (feel free to judge LOL!)  Then I chucked it in the wash and it came up good as new.

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{Review} White Company Herbal Candle

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but one of my favourite companies sent me a candle to review.  I love White Company stuff, and my Mum generally gets me something nice for Christmas from them, so I was thrilled to try out one of their new candle range. It’s a herbal smelling candle, I received ‘Fresh Thyme’ and it smells gorgeous, I can smell some lavender and other herby smells in with it too.  The idea behind it is a ‘two in one’ use/present. To have your lush candle and then when it’s finished the ceramic container can be used to grow herbs in.

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Now technically I should have used up my candle and grown some herbs in it by now. But frankly it’s got a really long burn time until the candle is finished (I’ve had it a good 2 months) and I’m not trashing a lovely candle until it’s lived it’s life out. However when it’s all used up and I’ve planted it I’ll pop some photos on here so you can see it. It’ll look lovely in my kitchen.

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{Review} Snapfish Calendar

It’s my last review of the year, I really should be writing some Christmas Cards but have snuck on here quickly!  Oh and Mum if you’re reading looking away now!!

This is one of my favourite gifts to give at Christmas. I’ve been giving Snapfish Calendars to family since Miss L was born, I used to send them to Miss L’s Great Grandparents, Great Aunt and my parents. Sadly over the last couple of years all the Great Grandparents and Aunts have passed so this year I only had one to make for my parents 🙁

Snapfish is dead simple to use, you can upload photos from your hard drive, Facebook or Flickr – handy as pretty much all my photos are in those places.  You can then choose your calendar, I went with the £14.99 one with a plain white/black background – Mum doesn’t do colours! But there are loads of different backgrounds and styles to choose from.  And then all you do is just pop your photos in the different months as you wish or you can do it yourself or ask it to autofill for you if you are pressed for time.

My favourite thing is you can add family’s birthdays, or special events with a little photo of the person – handy to remind my Dad to buy my Mum a birthday present for example!

When you order the calendar you can also add on a print out of all the photos at the same time, incase you want a hard copy of the photos – which is quite handy if you’re like me and never think to print out all my digital photos.

I just noticed, whilst writing this that if you want to order before 3rd December 2012 there is 50% off here

*Disclosure – I got a free calendar worth £14.99*

 

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{Review} Stampin’ Up Cookies Present Kit

We were sent a rather cool ‘Stampin’ Up‘ cookie present kit. It’s a stamp with different silicon ‘faces’ (Halloween, Snowflake and Hearts) on them to stamp the biscuits and then some lovely packaging to make them into mini presents for friends, neigbours or family.

Miss L was pretty excited as she’s been studying all things biscuit for Food Tech this term, so she was more than happy to try the kit out. We screwed up a bit and missed entirely the recipe that came with the stamps – oops! So we ended up making chocolate shortbreads which didn’t take the faces that well – well at all when they were cooked!.  Next time we’ll use the recipe that came with them, I think it might work a lot better!.

But we had lots of fun and I really loved the packaging and the stamp is lovely, wooden and solid, so we’ll be making some as stocking gifts for friends and family at Christmas. Stampin’ Up items seem to be sold through local demonstrators and not through shops (which is a shame), so have a look on the website and see if there is one near you.

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