Dressing for Success

Styling accessories in your home is something which creates mood, can turn a bland spot into a point of interest and enhance your decor.  If you know this site, you know that ‘things’ abound in my own house and I am forever arranging vignettes and little corners. People spend hours looking at them when they visit, and say they could never arrange things and create the same effect.  But that is where they are wrong, it can be easily done…

Here are some basic simple principles to styling your home effectively:

LAYER FABRICS

If you have a sofa or armchair, add cushions and a throw or two.  Chose contrasting and complimentary fabrics, and different textures also work really well.  You can change the cushions easily for seasonal changes; think chunky cable knit for winter and silks for summer.  Never place cushions on their points in serried ranks, it makes it look as if you can’t sit on the sofa for fear of upsetting it.  You want people to feel welcome to sit down and relax.

 

The same principe applies to windows.  You can ring the seasons changing by using thicker curtains in the winter, and switching to lighter ones in the summer.  Luxe looks can also be created by layering blinds, pelmets and curtains.

SYMMETRY OR NON-SYMMETRY?

SYMMETRY

If you are going for a formal look and like order and calm, symmetry works really well.  A chimney breast wall for example will usually have the fireplace centralised, and alcoves ether side.  Work in two’s from the centre point of the wall outwards as you place items.  Anouska Hempel is the master of this approach in a very formal, rich-toned style:

 

But the same approach by Kelly Hoppen has a lighter touch and is more contemporary, while still sticking to the same principles:

 

Work in even numbers for placing everything, centralise them, and you can’t really go wrong.

 

NON-SYMMETRY

This asymmetrical approach creates a much more modern and relaxed look.  This time stick to odd numbers for items that you are placing.  Work from left to right, or vice versa.  This looks really good on areas such as shelves and mantlepieces.

 

 

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You can also apply this principle to a gallery wall.

 

WHAT TO USE?

Anything and everything that you have to hand can be used to style a home.  You can make interesting visual displays of anything from mis-matching mugs to coats & wellies.  Books look great colour-coded, or go neutral as the person below has done by turning them back to front, although it might take you ages to find the actual book you are looking for!

 

 

Also, a great tip is to keep your eyes peeled for bargains whenever you are out and about.  Some of my best styling items have been picked up in sales, charity shops and high street pound shops.  Sometimes you can find great items at knockdown prices that can be used to style your home and have a high end look.  These baskets were picked up for  just £1 each in a sale, and can be used all over the home in styling with an industrial look; in a kitchen as below, in a bathroom for toiletries and towels, as pot plant holders and so on.  They look great as a group.

 

Some high street retailers such as H&M, Zara Home and Primark also have seasonal collections of very well priced and designed accessories.

WHAT NOT TO DRESS A HOUSE WITH!

There are some items which should always be hidden away as they are hard to use as display items when dressing and styling a house.  I have yet to find a way to make hairdryers and straightening tongs look beautiful… The same applies to dirty laundry,  cleaning products and mainstream packaged foods unless they are from a smart deli and have amazing packaging.

Also, unless you own immaculate shoes as in the picture below, always store shoes and trainers away.

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Cleaning Up After Renovations

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Too much mess after renovation? Easy six tricks to clean

House renovation is always a good thing. After everything is done you can’t wait to enjoy the new look of your home. However, the builders dust is something a lot of people struggle with for at least a few weeks after the remodeling of their homes. If you want to take the matter in your own hands, you might want to follow these six easy tricks to clean after a renovation.  These pointers came from Zowie at Charlton Cleaners, and actually will make life much easier, especially washing walls down which people forget to do and then they paint straight onto dirt which can mix into the paint (oops, guilty…)

Cover or Move Away Items

This step is very important to make the cleaning much easier and faster. Before the renovation itself move away as many furniture and items as you can. If there are things you cannot move, cover them well. Putting plastic covers on the floor can also help to decrease the levels of dust spreading around your home.

Clean the Walls First

The first thing you should clean are the walls, this way all the dirt and dust will fall on the floor and you can take care of it later. Starting from the ceiling and walls is the most logical and easy way to make the cleaning as fast as possible. To get rid of the dust on the walls you can use a clean cloth, dampened with water and wipe them carefully with it. If your walls are freshly painted you need to be very careful with this step.

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Organizing For Your Lifestyle

ORGANIZATION

Being a pretty obsessive OCD organizer, (mainly due to a lot of ‘stuff’ in my home which if I don’t control results in chaos within hours), I can happily spend hours sorting, catagorizing and decluttering areas. I find this a really calming thing to do, whereas to others it might seem like hell.

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I always thought that this was my own personal madness, as I can get itchy when I see clutter.  But I recently read a new book by Jane Stoller called ‘Organizing Your Lifestyle’ that delves deep into the psyche behind organizing, and which explains what the benefits are as a whole to your life.  With the clutter controlled, there is more time to actually ENJOY YOUR LIFE!  I don’t usually read self-help books, but  ‘Organizing Your Lifestyle’   is a really useful hybrid as it offers both practical advice as well as explaining the psychological benefits of organization.

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Plus it is a realistic book, as I do not have the patience to look at everything I own and murmur in the latest fashion ‘But do I really love it?’  Of course I love it, I love all of it and am never, ever going to be a minimalist!  But I can be a tidy and organized maximalist, and this book has excellent tips on how to evaluate what you have and how to look after it all so you have more quality time on your hands.  It also makes you look hard at things so you can let some of them go without regret.

USEFUL ADVICE

Some of the tips are really useful, I loved the wardrobe section on how to store and look after items.  Like most ladies, I own more clothes and shoes than I realistically have cupboard space for.  There are great tips on how to look after and store things so they are not creased, crumpled and hence last longer.  If you think of the hefty financial outlay that we females spend on clothes, it makes sense to make them last.

Traveling away?  The book has great ways to make packing less stressful, and without the dreaded over-packing that I usually do so I end up with a massive suitcase full of clothes I don’t even wear on the trip.

The book breaks down areas of organization, so it can be something you can ease into this is a new process and makes you shake in your boots.

You can follow Jane on Twitter where she has motivational tips to keep the spirit going.

 

 

Christmas Decoration Storage

TOP TIPS FOR STORING CHRISTMAS DECOR

As Christmas draws to an end, it is all too easy to take decorations down, shove them into various bags and secrete them in attics, garages, under beds, and even in random places where space can be found, (I am guilty of the last one, for years my faux tree has been stored in an airing cupboard).

This is all very well until 11 months later, when you need to get things out and find them twisted, smashed, crumpled or just gone!  Fairy lights are particularly good at getting lost in our house, sometimes not turning up for a couple of years by which time replacements have been bought and then there are strings of them lying around everywhere.

So this year I am have a New Year resolution; packing away Christmas efficiently.

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Thinking of moving…?

As the property market gets ridiculously overpriced here in the UK at the moment, I have been thinking about staying put and extending instead of moving on to the next doer-upper.  It got me thinking about when I have moved in the past, so here are some top tips for when you are thinking of moving home.  I have learnt a few lessons from being a serial house-hopper personally, and am sure there are yet more to come before I finally find the ‘forever house’:

1) Look for a south-facing or east/west facing property

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Estate agents love to sell south-facing properties because of their sunny, warm and light credentials. For many home buyers, the very thought of north-facing means a gloomy and chilly property that’s uninviting. While a south-facing home tops the most wanted list, it’s important to think about what your ideal home looks like. A glass extension built on the back of a southern home could actually be a waste of time, unless you fancy sitting in a sauna. An east/west property could be more of a draw if you’re looking for a bit of sun in front bedrooms early in the morning yet want it to switch to the back when it sets late afternoon.

Make sure to ask the current homeowner where you can expect to find the sun and at what time before you settle on a new home – even if you’re viewing the property in the winter. You might not mind straight away but you will once the summer temperatures kick in! Don’t get too caught up with the sun either – light is equally, if not more important.  My current house loses the sun on the terrace by 3pm, so evening BBQ’s involve either wearing coats or running down to the far end of the garden to catch some rays…

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Buying at Auctions

I went to an antique furniture and effects auction this weekend, where the auctioneers were selling off a mixture of great, semi-great, awful and sometimes bizarre items.  I find auctions fascinating, and spent a fair bit of time milling about looking at items coming up for sale on the preview day.  Where else can you find a stuffed zebra head sitting next to a box of 1960’s Action Men figures, pre-eagle eyes and gripping hands to boot?

In my head I had gone to try and find an good shaped cupboard, chair or armoire to renovate.  However, there was a plethora of quite badly already painted shabby chic items – shabby and not chic to be frank.  It seems that people just attack anything now with chalk paint and muted F&B colours, and I don’t think they always sit well on a 1930’s dresser for example.

Some of the pieces at the auction which had the right shape were beautiful and made from excellent mahogany or maple, and would be ruined by paint, so by the end of the preview I had a huge list of items I liked and wanted to buy and none of which should be painted!  I also seem to pick items which have the highest guide prices, which could be a sign of immaculate taste or just bad luck depending on how you look at it.

I ended up picking 2 items to bid on that were useful and could be upcycled without sacrilege; a pretty little Edwardian wing chair with tapestry/needlepoint upholstery and an old wall cabinet from a railway control box:

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This is going to be turned into either a thread, bathroom or curio cabinet, depending on if I can swipe it from my husband.

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This is a sweet and well-upholstered chair in very good condition.

To make sure I did not end up getting out of control on the auction day, I electronically sent in bids for the two with my maximum price to the saleroom.  I didn’t register to bid live which is possible with a PC, (like bidding on ebay but with way more adrenaline).  This is a really good way to stop splurge buying as I call it.  I tracked the auction on-line on the day, (you can listen live on a laptop), but only as a viewer so I could not start bumping up my bids past my decided top price.  Pat on the back and well controlled, I salute myself!

In the past I made the mistake of going to bid at the auctions on the day which can end in disaster and erratic purchases.  The worst time was when I was selling a lot of furniture at an auction as we were moving from a large house and I had to lose some large pieces of furniture and taxidermy.   At the auction I got totally out of control and came home with more antiques: a table, firescreen, cabinet and more.  I only meant to go and watch my own things sell, but when you see a Georgian table going for a song I find it hard not to stick up my hand.  Therefore this time I was a good girl, and won my items for their estimated guide price.

DO’s:

  • Visit on preview day
  • Take a tape measure and a camera
  • If the item you are looking for is for a specific place in your home, know the space measurements before you visit the auction house so you can work out if it will fit
  • Realistically set a top price, remember that buyers premium is added on plus tax.
  • If possible, bid online to stop impulsive price rising and buys.

DON’TS

  • Do not let yourself get carried past your set price by a fellow bidder.  Adrenaline can get the better of you, it is not a competition!
  • Do not buy anything without seeing it first in the flesh.  Auction photos are usually one picture and can be deceptive.
  • Not all Auction Houses will deliver without prior arrangement, and usually items have to be collected within 4 days of the Auction.  Make sure you have sorted out delivery, especially on large items, before bidding.
  • Finally, never nip out to the pub if it is a long auction and come back to bid after a couple of glasses of wine.  I made this mistake once and still have two enormous stone urns in my garden that a) I am not quite sure if I like, and b) which broke my car suspension when getting them back home which cost a lot more money to boot.

I picked my chair and cabinet up today, and was amazingly gratified to find the original sale price for the chair on the bottom  saying £400- Edwardian Chair.  I bid and paid just £50 for it.  Bargain and such a good feeling!  I am going to attempt to modify it by reupholstering the back in a complimentary fabric to give it a bit of zest.  I saw the below chair with contrasting upholstery in Traditional Homes and I love the result:

8IMZXSince I have never upholstered anything, this will be a interesting challege!