Tuesday, 23 June 2015

new (old) stuff and 'Bob's moving out fund'

When I finished my hall, I really was on a mission to find the perfect rug........the hall needed it, the white floor desperately needed it.

I spent hours (literally) trawling Ebay until I found a couple of companies that I believed would supply the type of used Persian rug I was looking for (as you've probably realised old works better for me). I did a bit of bidding, then chickened out because of one reason or another.

Then I saw the perfect rug, the perfect size and colour and I was determined to have it. I calculated exactly how much I could afford (there were 10 days to my next pay day and I thought I could live quite frugally) and sat at home one Sunday evening with my heart pumping (sorry if this is melodramatic but I've never bid for something before) determined to win it, and I did............right at the top of my budget.

Isn't it fab.

I love it. I love that it looks authentic, that the size is perfect, that the colours are great and tie in with the stained glass on the door, that the pile is in pretty good nick even though it is used and I think £105 for over 8 feet of gorgeousness is a pretty good deal.

My little photo bomber seems to be enjoying it too, though I imagine he's thinking he'd rather be in the kitchen where there might be a chance of some food..............
and if he looks all sad and forlorn and bows his head, he might get a treat soon.

The other thing I wanted was a new light fixture, my existing light was just too small and I wanted something grander. I had no budget for the light whatsoever, but there's no harm in looking is there.
About the same time as I was searching the internet for runners and chandeliers, I decided it was about time my brother moved out. He's been here over two years now and still hasn't found a job which means he's never paid me a penny, in fact he's just cost me money because I've helped him out on a few occasions.
Anyway, I decided to sell some stuff to raise some money for 'Bob's moving out fund'. I started with some old gold jewellery that did have a bit of sentimental value, but as I wear silver it had been in boxes for the last 30 years so it was a bit pointless keeping it for another 30.
You might have worked out what happened next..........I had an envelope with £155 in it and 'Bob's moving out fund' written on the front...........what did I go and do............spend it almost straight away on an empire style chandelier for my hall. What really swung it for me was that the seller was in the next town to mine and he could shorten it slightly for me, and after all, it was my money.
It was a bit more than £155, so I used some of my tip money, but it feels great that I still have something to show for the gold I sold. I now have a family heirloom hanging from the ceiling instead of around my neck.
Apparently it's French but I don't know how old it is, however it doesn't matter either way, to me it's just totally gorgeous, come day or night.

I'm going to have to see what else I can sell so that I can put something towards 'Bob's moving out fund', but at least I have two beautifully 'old' new things.
Did I mention I want a runner for the landing.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

a tale of illumination

For the last month or so, my house has felt a bit like a lighting shop, though I tried to hide this fact by keeping two light fixtures behind the dining room table, two in my bedroom and one in the spare room.

I didn't have any major plans to change the lights in my house, and seriously I'm not sure how it all came about but somehow five lights needed to be put up, so I got a professional in.

I had been asking my ex (for the past two years) to take down a light fitting in his house that belongs to me. He finally did it a few weeks ago so I went to collect it and whilst I was there, I looked out a few boxes in his loft. I came across some old lights that I'd bought back from Spain in the late 90's. I'd used them all in my flat in Brighton but then never put them up again which means they'd been in boxes for about 15 years - such a waste really.
Originally there were five in total, three ceiling lights, one medium pendant and one large pendant. One of the small ones is already up in my WC though I couldn't find the largest pendant.

I thought about putting the medium pendant in the hall but it didn't seem quite right so I asked my electrician if he could put it in my tiny porch (where there was a power connector but no light fixture). My outside light was on the outside of the house and a) looked too contemporary and b) didn't give any extra light when trying to unlock my front door in the dark.

Out with the new, in with the old !

I'm so happy with the look and at night it throws a lovely subtle light into my hall. Also, I've tested it, I came home late from the cinema and loved the ease with which I found the keyhole.

Next, I asked him to take down the light in my dining room and switch it for one that had been sitting behind the dining room table for over a year. It didn't cost a penny because my bf gave it to me. Did I mention I have the best bf in the world and she just gave it to me because she didn't want it, she's never even used it.

It suits the dining room perfectly, in fact it looks like it's always been here. If you were over 6ft you wouldn't be able to stand under it but that's not really something that worries me, and I believe in aesthetics before practicality all the way ha ha !

Before and after.

So the next light to go up was the original chandelier from the dining room. It has hung there ever since I bought this house, even during the period I rented it out, and before that it hung in the bedroom of my flat in Brighton, having been a house-warming present from my bf's Mother.

 I'm so glad I finally have a nice light fixture in here as it's always just had a basic cable with a light bulb on the end. This suits the bedroom much better and one day, hopefully, the bedroom will be as smart as the light (there's a long way to go, just look at the horrible plasterwork on the ceiling).

Light number four - well, it should have been the fixture that my ex took down. It was going to go on the landing, but then, miraculously I found the large Spanish light (in the wardrobe in my own guest room.........silly old me) and knew it would work much better. It's a little bashed and worn but that's nothing new in this house.


So far I have four lights up and I love them all and the cost...............just that of a very reasonable electrician.
Light number five, well I feel it deserves a post of it's own so I'll write about it next time, but you can catch a sneaky peak in this next photo.

I love a bit of sparkly illumination.....................

Friday, 22 May 2015

hangers, clipboards and book pages

My choices for my home are mostly fuelled by envy...............I've been hankering after trouser hangers, clipboards and using book pages somewhere for some time.
Other people have them and it makes me think 'I'd like some of those'.

An idea came to me for my landing after I found this mirror in a local shop for the knock down price of £12.99.
It's a bit small but I thought I could make a wall display, using the mirror as the centre piece.

First I sent off for three trouser hangers from the US. I love them all but two were identical and perfect for my display.

As I wanted eight clipboards, the cost of finding vintage ones was a bit prohibitive, so I chose new ones that worked out at around £2 each.

I cut up some old calendars that had colourful pictures of Islamic tiles and textiles (calendars are such a good source for decoupage and frame-able pictures).

I added book pages (not book pages that I had torn out of a book myself, as I still haven't managed to do that yet, but ones that I bought, a great selection for £5), and then added photos of places I've visited.

I put eight on the wall around the mirror, and left them for a couple of weeks but they just weren't right, I didn't feel happy at all, so I started again, and now I have this.

I've had the fruit and stamp pictures in my stash for years and years, I just tore them out of magazines.
I never read the article about the stamps, but they were painted by American artist Donald Evans, who made up a whole series of countries and individual stamps for each nation. They're fascinating and give the display the drama it so badly needed (and now I've read a bit about him, I feel lucky to have them).

I downloaded some graphics from this etsy site and got someone to print them on the book pages, I love the result. If I ever get bored with the current arrangement, I might change them all to printed book pages.

Oops, they're a bit crooked.

The maps came out of some other old calendars, so I just chose two of similar size.

The long piece at the top came from TK Maxx and used to hang over the picture at the end, but I felt it would help finish off the wall display.

I might hang something else to either side of the maps if I get inspired, but for now the view is a whole lot more interesting than before. 
My favourite parts are definitely the printed book pages, but I just discovered something on the back of one of the calendar pages......................

the date we picked up my dear little dog from the RSPCA in Brighton......January 10th 2007.

It was completely by chance that I chose this calendar page, but I love that it's here, because Rufie (Rufus) means the world to me.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

garden tales #2 'patience is a virtue'

I love flowers with pom pom like heads............thin stems with a flower head like the Armeria I showed you in the last post.
Chives have very pretty lavender/ish pom pom like flowers, so when I saw them sprouting up all over my flower bed last Summer, I decided to wait and see if they would flower.
I left them and left them and waited..............patiently.

A few nice plants, lots of weeds and lots of chives, growing separately.
The long stems started to grow buds.

Which started to look promising...........so I waited.

Then they sprouted long green tendrils not resembling petals at all.

Which died.

But patience is a virtue so I waited some more, and eventually I saw the beginnings of the resemblance of a flower.

A definite pom pom like flower.

Until I had this...........one fully open (?) lavender coloured tiny pom pom flower head.

Did you read that carefully ? I said ONE, just ONE tiny pom pom flower head that doesn't look much like other chive flowers I've seen and only lasted a couple of days.

Needless to say............this year I didn't feel like being quite so patient so I pulled them all up.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

garden tales # 1

Once upon a time I lived in my house with a man called Alan and our back garden looked like this. I did the planting and Alan did the weeding and kept the lawn neat and tidy, it was a great place to spend a sunny day.

Needless to say, my tenants didn't look after the garden quite so well, and when I moved back here, the garden looked like this (you might spy my brother behind a bush), with a rockery, large flower bed, lawn and raised patio at the back.

On the right, just in front of the kitchen window is a gravel area and then a small pond.
The white wrought iron furniture got moved (one chair sits in the front garden) because it's not quite my cup of tea, but it was free.

This was the view then, back to the house.

And after a lot of weeding.

I had to stake the Arum Lily last year as it grew so big (due to no frost the winter before that), at one point I counted 38 flowers. What's wonderful is that it flowers for months and months, unlike the Australian Bottlebrush that unfortunately doesn't flower for very long.

I tidied up the area round the pond too and half buried a terracotta pot amongst the rocks with another smaller one inside it. There's a sort of potting bench area to the right, but I'll save that for another day as it needs a lot of work.

Unfortunately the Saxifrage to the left of the terracotta pot didn't survive, and it's one of my favourite plants along with Armeria.

My absolute favourite though is Agapanthus, and I have quite a few in the garden. The large clump on the left has been there for years; I'm trying to fill up the rest of the flower bed so you can't see any earth, so far there are a few Lavender plants, a Hellebore and a Ceanothus, and of course the Bluebells that are starting to flower now but die back before summer.

The Agapanthus are a little shaded by the Acer tree here, hence them straining to find the sun.

I divided the plant in the pot below early last year and now have Agapanthus in about six different places, though they didn't flower last summer so fingers crossed for this year.
This is the raised back patio with the strange zig zag edging which I'm not very fond of - I have an idea to disguise it, it's on the never ending list.
This picture is also for Maureen, who asked to see my Bay tree. It self seeded in a tiny spot behind a pine tree that we cut down and when I moved back here it had grown............somewhat.
There is so much I want to do in the garden, but I think it'll take a few years, especially as my house takes priority, but I just found out that I can have some reclaimed wood to change the path and make it wider and then I want to have some more paved areas......................
I really should get my brother onto it, as he used to lay paving for a living !