I have always had a huge passion for interiors. I remember working at a hair salon on a Saturday when I was 15 and the first magazine I would always pick up from the rack, on my lunch break was ideal home. I have followed interior trends in my time but as I have got older I have noticed that I am developing my own sense of style rather than depending solely on the current trends. Can you remember when black and red interiors was a thing? Just me? We had a black sofa, back rug, black furniture. I then teamed this with red curtains and cushions! Times have evolved and luckily we moved on from brothel style decor just in time for us to become home owners. At this stage of this blog post, I was hoping to treat you all to a photograph of said brothel room, but unfortunately I was unable to find one. Sorry guys.
When we moved into our first home as home owners we had a blank canvas. The kitchen had already been fitted before we saw the house and wasnt exactly what I would have gone for, but I took the cream cupboards and country kitchen colours and ran with it. Much to my husbands disapproval I injected a whole lot of pink accessories into the kitchen and I loved it. For the rest of the house we kept it pretty neutral with the odd touch of glitz and glam.
I don’t know if it’s because this house is older that I feel it’s easier to inject a bit more personality into the house. We have decided to use alot of brass throughout this house, door knobs and sockets. In our previous house everything was silver and although I loved the contemporary style, I just feel like it doesnt fit as well with this house. That said we have recently renovated our bathroom and have lots of chrome but still in a traditional style. There are so many interior trends that I am loving at the moment. I love seeing people play around with darker paints and themes and hope to use this trend in the hallway. I’m still a bit of a whimp when it comes to following such trends and tend to go more neutral with paint and use darker accessories. Our bedroom as an example. I was nervous to paint the panelling and wardrobes so dark but I’m so pleased with the result.
Moving forward I am really hoping to be a bit more adventurous than my previous house. Our next projects are the girls bedroom, the hallway and the landing. I am going to start showing the girls some bits on Pinterest and Instagram so that they can have a say on what they want and like for their up and coming room renovation… so stand by for some potentially daring interior moves because knowing my children it wont be boring!
Home fragrance has always been important to me. Our sense of smell is both powerful and fascinating and can do anything from lift your mood, evoke a memory and make your house feel like your home. Filling your home with fragrance adds both style and ambiance and in this blog post I will be sharing with you, some fantastic home fragrance options and brands. I set about creating this blog post looking for an alternative to the rut of spending obscene amounts of money on big brand home fragrance products and made it my mission to source some affordable, fantastic quality and unique products from some smaller brands. I have found some exceptional options and I can’t wait to share them with you.
MABEL & ALMA
I will kick this section off with an absolute find! Local to myself, New Forest based Mabel & Alma sent me this gorgeous calming candle recently and I must say the smell is Divine. I love that this company is local and the owners and siblings Rachel and Carly named the brand after their grandmothers Mabel and Alma, such a lovely personal touch. You can tell these candles are made with love, hand poured soy wax, dreamy scents and simple yet timeless branding that looks great anywhere. They have an extremely varied range of scents so there is guaranteed to be one to suit you, from sweet scents like chocolate to more earthy scents like sandalwood and vanilla. I am absolutely loving this Lavender, Chamomile and Vanilla candle, it smells like a very luxurious spa candle, it gives off a really powerful fragrance and priced at just £12.50 these really are a bargain. The candle burns really well and I have been pleasantly surprised at the punch this candle can pack. You can check out their wide range on the website. As well as online you can also find this delightful brand popping up at shows and fairs, so to any of my local readers, Mabel & Alma will be at Romsey show on 14th September 2019 and I strongly suggest going and checking them out. Follow their Instagram for updates on this and for news on any new products and great offers in the future.
THE FIND STORE
I was kindly sent this Raine and Humble candle from the find store. This candle is a great size and has an impressive 50 hours burn time. I am loving the packaging of this candle. The packaging is not only stylish but it is also made from recycled packaging in a unique pot style. The candle itself smells great, the ceramic pearlescent jar really has a luxury feel and teamed with the wooden and air sealed lid gives this product a real earthy and trendy feel- very Soho Farmhouse. I strongly suggest heading the the find stores fantastic website for some seriously gorgeous and stylish home interior products. The find store offer a huge range of beautiful interior finds from around the globe, they have the most gorgeous and unique selection of interior products. So if you are looking for something a unique,beautiful and stylish or a gift for a loved one head on over to the website and follow them on Instagram to fulfill all of your interior dreams!
Palmcove London sent me this sleek and on trend candle recently and I have been really impressed. The concrete style jars are contemporary and classy and they offer them in a great range of shades to suit any room in your home. Inspiration for these was taken from a visit to none other than Australia’s Palm Cove, its laid back vibe and beautiful cobbled streets were the inspiration for them and I think this really shows in the products minimalistic yet effortlessly stylish appearance. Each jar is hand crafted so no two are the exact same, giving these candles a really unique and bespoke feel. I was kindly sent the light grey candle in a Magnolia scent and I must say it smells beautiful, a light, clean and fragrant candle that really does fill the room with relaxing essence of magnolia. The Packaging on Palmcove London products is really well thought out. The white ribbon adds a touch of luxury. Really good value for money, I recommend checking out the Palmcove website and following their Instagram page as there are often great offers to be had.
I have recently re kindled my love for using incense. I used it a lot in my teens after staying with my Aunt who meditated and it was from then I became a bit obsessed with it. For an unknown reason burning incense fell off my radar for a few years and it wasn’t until a trip to London early this year that myself and my husband picked some up. I was using this regularly until I read an article about the suspected implications of burning incense with chemical containing ingredients, I was buying on mass and cheaply. This lead me to researching a natural and organic product, this I can tell you does not return all that many results, so when the lovely Emma at Ume sent me these natural, handmade incense sticks I was delighted and excited to experience a product I love, in the most pure and natural form possible. Each stick is hand rolled using ground herbs, seeds, saps and barks, so totally natural materials. The texture of the sticks as they burn is a lot finer than any incense I have used before, this makes it easy to clean up after, they also burn really slowly and release the most beautiful earthy aromas. Having 3 young children means I lead a pretty hectic life and I am finding using Ume incense truly does give me a sense of calm. I have been lighting one as soon as I have put the children to bed and spend a few moments concentrating on some breathing exercises while enjoying the therapeutic and anxiety soothing benefits of these wonder products. I was kindly sent over a beautiful brass burner, this feels fantastic quality and is compact in size so it can be taken out with you, should you wish to find a moment of zen out and about or while away from home. The packaging of these products is elegant in design and I love the slide out box, making it easy to pick out the stick. In comparison to sticks I was previously using Ume incense sticks are marginally more expensive however they burn for far longer and the fact that they are made from only natural ingredients means that I will be buying these on repeat moving forward. I just love them! If you are reading this and have not used incense before I strongly recommend following Ume incense on Instagram or visiting the website. There is a wealth of detailed information, selection guides and background about the benefits of incense burning on the website. Emma has a true and honest passion for offering premium quality, natural, plant based products, Should you have any further questions I would not hesitate to get in touch with her. Whether you consider using Ume products for relaxation, meditation or simply a new way to fragrance your home my advice would be do not delay!
brownstone – LONDON –
One of the most loved home fragrance methods is the reed diffuser, this is no wonder. Reed diffusers offer a long lasting, fuss free and aesthetically pleasing way to fill your home with fragrance. However as I am sure we have all experienced, not all diffusers stand up to the test of time. Recently I was kindly sent one of brownstone’s best selling Grapefruit and Basil diffusers for a bathroom fragrance blog post and immediately noticed that brownstone diffusers come with two sets of reeds. Reading more into this on the diffuser care guide helped me to understand the importance of using two sets of reeds to prolong and intensify the fragrance of a diffuser for as long as possible. I absolutely love this classic and stylish product, the apothecary style bottle and effortlessly chic branding mean that you could pop one of these diffusers anywhere in your home and it will release fresh, long lasting fragrance in your home for up to four months. The Grapefruit and basil gives a refreshing aroma that just keeps giving with its peppery undertones. Head over to the website and Instagram to check out the full range of these brilliant products. I have linked my previous blog post here for anyone interested in finding out more about brownstone.
Admittedly I have been a home fragrance brand snob in the past. Like many I have been blind sighted into thinking that big brand means great quality and this unfortunately is rarely the case. This blog post has given me the opportunity to experience some incredible products from some smaller companies and has taught me that there is absolutely no need to buy big brand home fragrance products. The care, love and attention to detail in all of the above products is clearly outstanding and I urge all of my readers to take a look at these websites and shop small.
This post contains gifted items however all words and opinions are my own.
I have been looking for the perfect way to fragrance our bathroom since we completed the project. My styling aim for the bathroom was simple and timeless. So when I was offered the opportunity to review these gorgeous products from brownstone it seemed exactly what I had been looking for, chic looking products with an incredible range of scents.
Founder Anne Twist has styled these products to perfection, the simplistic off white packaging teamed with brownstone’s stylish black logo means that these products will look great in any room. As well as candles and diffusers, brownstone also sell stylish and contemporary chinaware and cosmetic bags. On first impressions the packaging on the products is fantastic, the packaging feels well made and thick and I love the ribbon pull tab to open the products. They have a real feel of luxury and would make fantastic gifts for any home fragrance lovers in your life. There is great information about candle care and diffuser care on their website. I found this to be a really interesting read and most certainly learned some new information about how to optimise the performance of home fragrance products, something I didnt really know all that much about until I read this. By cutting the wick of the candle to 0.5cm before every use means that the candle will burn better and last longer. Included in my review is this lovely wick cutter, which I have found to be a really useful product and priced at only £12. The quality feels great, they are heavy and sturdy and will most certainly be a key item in my candle care routine moving forward.
brownstone offer a great range of fragrances. I was very intrigued by the Pomegranate and Chilli. Having had several pomegranate based candles before, I was keen to see what kind of twist the chilli gave. I was not disappointed! This candle smells divine! The pomegranate is fruity and rich, team this with the warm and spicy notes of the chilli and it was an unexpected match made in heaven! I love a strong candle, the kind that fills your home with scent and this candle does exactly that. I have used this every time I have been in the bath recently and the fragrance really is long lasting. Even when unlit and just on display I can smell its sophisticated fragrance long after the wick has been blown out.
Now… I have had many diffusers in my time, I love the idea of the continuous fragrance that diffusers offer, however every diffuser I have ever used is undetectable within a matter of weeks. Diffusers from brownstone come with two sets of hand tied reeds. It wasnt until I read why, that my past diffuser fails all made sense. Diffuser reeds can become clogged with oil and will stop absorbing further oil until they are changed. Replacing them will ensure continued oil diffusion into your home. brownstone recommend using one set of reeds for 50% of the oil and replacing these with a fresh set for the last half. My Grapefruit and Basil diffuser smells consistently great! This works perfectly in the bathroom, it is such a fresh and aromatic scent and having had guests visiting in the last couple of weeks, I have had several comments about what the gorgeous smell is! They are made up of natural base oils with no alcohol content and infused with essential oils. The apothecary style glass and stylish label make them suitable for any room and I feel that the clean, and sophisticated design look great in the bathroom.
From the outstanding quality of their products, knowledgeable and efficient service and undoubtedly great design, there are so many things about brownstone which I love. The candles are hand poured using a blend of natural wax and essential oils. The Diffusers are a great long lasting fragrance option (up to four months) and I think the refil options and extra reeds are a great touch for using them as a long term way to fragrance your whole home. Having a beautifully smelling home is something that you have to invest in and something that has a power that should not be underestimated. The fragrance of your home is important and personal to you. It is one of the first things I notice as a visitor to someone’s home, it can set your mood and products like these give you the tools you need to build a sanctuary and uplift your senses with fragrance that you love. brownstone’s diffusers and candles are all lovingly presented in an embossed gift box with ribbon tab, making them perfect to gift to a loved one or as a way to fragrance your own home with a touch of opulence.
As well as the alluring aromas I have shown in this post, brownstone offer four more bespoke fragrances, so there really is one to suit all. Sandalwood and Oud, Lemongrass and Coriander, Jasmine and Sea salt and Aged Oak with Wild Tobacco. I strongly suggest heading over to their website www.brownstonelondon.com to take a look or following their Instagram page for updates about new fragrances, products and exclusive offers.
Although this post features gifted items all words, images and opinions are of my own.
I have been toying with the idea of writing this post for a while. With money being such a personal subject, with so many variants in how people afford to take on a project it has always left me a bit unsure, I have decided to share a bit about our story onto the property ladder, and how we afford to renovate our home without a pot of gold.
We have always been the couple that never stop. Whether that be having children, changing job or moving house,we are always up to something! I am a huge sufferer of itchy feet syndrome and in our time renting we lived in 4 houses in a 5 year period. We have always been house proud and renting never stopped us from making a house a home. With me being a stay at home mum to our young girls and Aaron in the early years of his training and career as an electrican, we just never had the money to save for a deposit, whilst paying bills, feeding and clothing small people. We dreamed that one day we would own our own home. Unfortunately the tale of our journey onto the property ladder came hand in hand with devastation. Five years into our relationship my husband and I lost his beloved father and our babies lost an incredible grandfather. It goes without question that if we could hand back all we have in life to have him back we would. Following his dads death my husband received some money, this was just enough that teamed with the help to buy scheme and a 95% mortgage we purchased our first home. A new build house in a little village near where we were renting. We lived happily in this house, making our mark on its blank walls for 5 years, an absolute record for us! Itchy feet struck again but this time we were making a move bigger than ever- our relocation to the south coast. We got on the property ladder at just the right time, when prices were low and we were lucky enough to make a good amount of equity without doing much apart from make our house a home.
This equity meant we could look at properties of a similar size to what we had without having to downsize to much. Putting down a large deposit also meant that we could keep our monthly repayments low. Property prices were higher in Bournemouth and with me now not working, to be at home with the 3 children we needed to put down a large deposit to get the mortgage we needed. When we came to look at our current house we knew it was the one. It was however, a much larger project than we initially anticipated. We came out of the move with a small amount of money but nowhere near enough to even scratch the surface. This money paid for us to put central heating into the house and make it a bit more liveable but within 2 months of moving in, it was gone. If you are thinking….are these nutters renovating with no savings? you would be correct. This brings me onto the final part of this blog post, how we manage our renovation.
We tend to renovate the house room by room and do a room, bi monthly. We find this the best way to financially manage. It takes us around 2 months of “spare money” as such, to complete and furnish a room. This includes everything from plastering the walls to cushions and everything inbetween. We are very fortunate that my husband has a good job, but by good I mean well paid but defiantly not 6 figure. Its all to easy to fall into the Instagram and Pinterest interior rabbit hole and wind up feeling like you will never be able to ascertain anything of the sort. But in the wise words my mum has told me for the last 28 years “decide what you want and decide what you are willing to give up to get it” We go without certain luxurys because we have always wanted to do up a property and I feel very fortunate that we are able to do so, even if we are doing so in a bit of an unconventional way!
During the saving month we do room prep, this is free, or at least very cheap. We strip walls, sand everything down and my husband does any building works or electrical rewiring and installation works that need sorting. Then the following month is for putting the room together. A really useful tool I have found is to use PayPal pay after delivery, this allows PayPal to collect the money 14 days after you have ordered the item, we find this helpful if we are slightly short or financially stretched toward the end of a room and want to add final touches. As an example we ordered the blinds for our bedroom in the middle of the month knowing that by the time the payment would go out it would have been pay day. Our aim is that by the time we have been in this house for a year we will have completed all of upstairs. That is 3 bedrooms, a bathroom, landing, stairs and hallway. This house is very much a long term project for us, we still have an extension to do downstairs and a lot more money to be spent. At the moment, what we are doing works well for us, I don’t doubt that as we come to do larger projects like the extension we will need to either release some equity or get a loan of some kind, we remain realistic about this and know that is still a cheaper option than buying a house that was already extended and finished. I am the kind of person who likes to make their own stamp and I know if we had brought a house that was already decorated, I would have redecorated it all anyway!
If you have made it to the end of these ramblings then congratulations. I hope this has given a realistic insight into how to take on a renovation if you don’t have large amounts of cash to play with. It can most definitely be done! If anyone else is doing the same and has any more tips, I would love it if you would share in the comments below. Whether you have the pot of gold or you are just muddling along, renovating is hard. Apparently it will all be worth it in the end…. that’s the rumour I keep hearing anyway.
How do you do it? Are you mad? Questions we get asked on the regular when we say we are renovating with 3 children in tow. Just this weekend we were asked exactly this and it got me thinking… how do we do it? So I thought I would put together a little blog post about how I think we manage it without going too mad!…. For reference, the answer to the second question is YES…. we are indeed mad!
We have said from the day we put an offer on the house, that we needed to keep a balance and not get consumed in renovations. With the children only being young (9,7 and 3) and after putting them through a big relocation, we didn’t want them to ever feel like they were not our priority. Obviously when there is chaos all around and all of your fun money for the month has gone on skips, paint and home furnishings, its easier said than done to not feel consumed by a life of renovation, but the one rule we have always stuck to religiously is weekends are made up of one day of family time and one day of renovations. This very rule means we have a dedicated day as a family every week to just have fun and we all love it! I do find our renovating comes in waves and after completing a room, we will have a couple of weeks break before starting the next so we all have time to relax, catch up with friends and family and let the girls have friends round after school without the fear of sending someone’s child home with a splinter in their foot and rubble in their hair! With the weather being good and the evenings being longer, we will often do work on the house between 4pm and 7pm.
My second tip is to get them involved! Harbor is his Daddy’s shadow and loves all things DIY so where we safely can, we get him to help. He has lots of toy tools so will copy what we are doing. Sophia and Isabella are obsessed with stripping wallpaper! Our house is full of woodchip paper and when its time to strip a room we let them loose! This does sometimes backfire and I will be heard shouting “who has been picking wallpaper on the naughty step”! I may also regret this when we hang wallpaper we do like! But for the moment it seems to work wonders with keeping them occupied with a wall while we supervise and crack on with the rest of the walls. The day before we had our bedroom plastered, we let the kids chalk all over a big wall and they thought it was the best thing ever! It was so fun for us all and kept them entertained for a good time while we finished prepping the rest of the room for plaster! We will definitely let them do that again.
My third and final tip is to take it in turns. I am not going to even pretend that I do, or have the capabilities to do anywhere near as much of the renovating as my wonderful husband, but so that he gets to spend time with the little monkeys too, he will take a break and sit with them while they have a snack and I will go and clear up where he is working, set him up with a fresh drink and if it is a project I can lend a hand with like wallpaper stripping or painting then I will take over for a while.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, we currently don’t have any family living nearby, so everything we have done so far has been around the children. Don’t get me wrong, there are times where we would love to leave them with Nanny and Gaga for a few hours and I am not going to say all my above tips work without fail, because there are times where we all get a bit on top of each other and I just need to take the kids away from the house for a few hours. However these bad days are a minority and I feel so proud of the children and us as a family for taking on this big project and making a home together. It really does feel like a team effort.
So to anyone renovating with kids or considering buying a project, rest assured, it really is something the whole family can get involved in and enjoy. Its just about finding a balance and sticking to what works for you….. while occasionally letting them use tools, smash stuff up and draw on the walls!!!
I get alot of questions about how we created the pannel wall in our bedroom. There are stories saved to my instagram highlights @homewiththejohnsonsx but I thought I would post the information on here for those who it may interest and those who have asked on Pinterest.
Can you believe the wood and fixings for this wall cost just £15?! We already had the paint sat ready for us to paint our fitted wardrobes so it really was a bargain DIY job… our favourite kind!
To begin we went to B&Q and brought a 9mm shet of MDF. They offer a fabulous service and will cut 15 cuts of wood for free. we had ours cut into 70mm strips so the width of each strip was perfect for the look we wanted to create. We began with the vertical stips, we measured them, cut off the required amount with a saw and then attatched them with Gripfil and put nails into the top and bottom of each verticle panel to secure. Once the vertical strips were secure and in place we measured and cut all horizontal strips to create squares and nailed them in place. We decided to have slightly larger end panels to allow for our wall lights, while still remaining symmetrical. We then filled any nail holes of imperfections with wood filler and once dry we sanded lightly. Then the fun bit, we primed just the wood, don’t worry about being neat and getting it on the wall. Once primed we painted the panelling in Valspar colour match to farrow and Ball railings. I was very impressed with the accuracy of the match for this paint, we used the v700 blend for wood and metal in a matte finish.
We are really pleased with how this turned out and how easy it was to do! The measurements will vary from person to person depending on the size of the wall or room you are panelling but the principle remains the same. It will defiantly be used again in other areas of the house because I find it gives the room a real point of interest, a luxury feel and was the perfect backdrop for our upcycled French bed. From start to finish this took us around 3 evening to complete so not only was it cheap it was really quick.
As always any further question please feel free to ask, And good luck to anyone who will be trying this out for themselves. Click here to see our latest panelling project.
I have been asked a lot recently how we restored our floorboards, so I thought I would put together this blog post to give some information on what we did and show some photos of the steps we took to restore them. Everyone’s floorboards are different so the process may vary slightly from case to case.
The first step was to prep the floor. We had to make sure every carpet nail was out of the floor, that every original floorboard nail was nail punched below the surface of the board and that all of the boards were securely in place. Harbor loved helping his Daddy with this step. It is so important to check and check again that all nails are removed or in place as this will tear the sanding sheets, ultimately costing you more. We were very fortunate that our boards were not thick with varish so for us we used a 40 grit paper to start (be careful as this is very aggressive) and 80 grit to finish. The machine took a bit of getting used to but you will soon pick up the best way of doing your boards. we went along the boards to start and then diagonally across the room to cover any bits we may have missed. We hired the machine from HSS hire and it came in at £65 for the whole weekend.
Once the whole room was complete we had a very thorough hoover and mop of the whole room to ensure that there was no dust anywhere that could get into the varnish.
On a side note we had painted and decorated the whole room including spending hours restoring the original skirting boards and glossing them to near perfection. This was totally ruined by the sanding so my advice would be to do the floors first and then decorate afterwards, being careful not to get paint on the floor. There was dust all over the freshly painted walls and I still find the odd dust patch now! Renovation really is trial and error and you ALWAYS learn the hard way!
Next was the varnish. We toyed with going for a darker varnish but knowing that clear still altered the colour slightly we decided that we didn’t want to take the gamble and end up hating it and needing to start the whole process again. You cant go wrong with a natural wood colour right? We chose Ronseal Diamond Hard varnish in Satin clear. We didn’t want the floor to have a glossy lacquered look so opted for a Satin finish. The varnish was easy to do and so rewarding! It totally transforms the room. It was so easy to do… so easy that I varnished the whole floor myself and naturally (to the utmost frustration of my husband) took full credit for the entire floor restoration afterwards!
We are really pleased with how it turned out and will be doing this across as many rooms as we can in the house. I am a total sucker for original features and even my carpet loving husband admits it was well worth restoring these beauties. ALSO DID YOU KNOW: Natural wood floorboards are hypoallergenic! they don’t harbour any parasites or odours, they are easy to clean and maintain and they stay cool in summer and warm in winter! If money is no object there are companies who provide the service for you but this is considerably more expensive than doing it yourself. There were most definitely times in this process we felt out of our depth and there were certainly moments my husband considered divorcing me for offering up too many pieces of (what I would consider) sound advice! But on the whole we LOVE IT and are looking forward to doing more soon.
As always please feel free to comment or email with any questions or advice. To see how we created this pannel wall click here.