Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Some Small Home Updates

You know when interiors magazine say, "You can jazz up a space with just new cushion covers!" and you think, "Yeah whatever, pull the other one." Turns out they're not lying. Something I've learnt since buying my home is how easy it is to update a room with comparatively tiny changes. 

Prior to moving to this house I'd lived in fourteen places in twelve years: I'd never really had the chance to get tired of a room or flat before it was time to move on. But I've stayed put for almost nine years, which is more than enough time to want to make changes, both big and small. We've just finished renovating our bathroom and I wrote about our kitchen on a budget last year, but it's the little updates that I enjoy the most and today I'm sharing some of them.
Living Room
Something I'm not crazy about in the living room is just how much brown wood there is. In an ideal world, I'd strip and paint the floorboards but just thinking about the dust and mess (and little cat prints on a freshly painted floor) makes me shudder. So I was lucky to find the perfect rug for the space, in simple shades of grey, from my favourite local homewares shop Harriman & Co.

As the living room is at the back of the house it can easily feel dark, so over the past 9 months or so I've collected sunshine yellow accessories to being a welcome pop of colour to the room. I picked up the yellow cushions from Habitat when they were having a discount event, the Hello Sunshine print is from Moonko in Sheffield, the retro-style yellow chair comes from My Furniture, and the vintage floral cushion cover (on grey chair) was from a local charity shop.

Total cost for this room's colourful new look? Chair, cushions and print all came to a total of £120. I've also re-used items where possible - "shop your home" as the fancy interiors bloggers call it - relocating a painted basket IKEA hack from our bedroom and the blue cushions (originally La Redoute) from the spare room, while my beautiful but broken 1960s typewriter sits happily in a corner with some of Thomas's vintage book collection.
Our Bedroom
Our room has always been a space that most reflects my tastes rather than both of ours; it was my pink-toned retreat for years before Thomas moved in and it's been slow to change. The addition of things specific to him - including the bear on a bike print, the custom portrait painted by Laura, and the (in-joke) All I Do Is Win embroidery - plus prints that he's chosen (such as the It's A Wonderful Life poster), and the introduction of teal and yellow as accent colours, are all my attempts to make it feel as much his space as mine.

The geometric cushion covers were a bargain £6 apiece from La Redoute, the Hello Sunshine cushion came from Tesco, while the battery operated string of ball lights are from Tiger and help to pull the different colours in the room together. At a cost of just £27, the room is now a light, bright, colourful space.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

A Buyer's Archive: April

Since February 2015, inspired by Elise's Buyer's Archive project, I've been keeping a record of all my clothing purchases in an effort to track what works and what doesn't and - in theory - cut down on my spending. 

This time last year I went slightly overboard buying midi skirts - three, to be precise, only one of which (the floral charity shop bargain) I wear regularly - a Gap t-shirt that went into a charity bag long ago, and a tote bag that I still love and use all the time. This year? It's not looking like my stripes problem is going anywhere fast, let's put it that way.
Striped t-shirt, originally New Look via charity shop £2.49
I picked this up in a charity shop in Wells and, despite being a size 12, it's the perfect fit to tuck into jeans and skirts. I'm very happy with this purchase as my Primark top of a similar style has recently shrunk in the wash, making it almost unwearable. And as I've already worn this at least six times, I'd say I've got value for money, too.

Button-front chambray skirt, La Redoute £23.40 (with 40% off)
I cannot tell you just how thrilled I am with this skirt. I've spent the last four summers looking for the perfect midi length, button front, chambray skirt and so to find this one for 40% off - and with pockets! - was extremely exciting. I'm not crazy about the buttons so will keep my eyes peeled for ones I like better, then I just need the weather to improve and I'll be wearing it constantly with tan sandals and a white stripey tee.
Polka dot t-shirt, Zara £7.99
Another salutary lesson in not paying attention to size labels - this is an M (and a Zara - home of the tiny sizing - M at that) and fits me perfectly, so I reckon an XL would fit up to a 22 or even 24, depending on height. There's not much more to say about this, I don't suppose: it's navy blue, it has polka dots, it's very very Janet. I'll be wearing this in summer tucked into high waisted jeans and with a headscarf tied rockabilly-style.

Breton top, La Redoute £11.40  (with 40% off)
Funnily enough, last April I bought this same top from La Reodute but in a white/black stripe and had got tons of wear out of it, until a recent encounter with tomato-based pasta sauce saw it relegated to gardening wear. I'm gutted that they don't still do the original white top, but this navy and cream is a decent enough substitute in my wardrobe.

Overall, then, I'm still ploughing away at my blue, striped, polka dotted style rut, but it's not for wont of trying: I swear the shops are full of rubbish at the moment, it's either cold-shoulders or bell sleeves as far as the eye can see. That's my excuse, anyway.

Total for April: £45.28

Total so far for 2017: £240.69

Total this time last year: £203.64

Look out for the #buyersarchive hashtag on Twitter and Instagram to see the other bloggers taking part.

Friday, 5 May 2017

The Thrifty Gift Swap: Summer Edition

My friend Rebs recently got in touch to ask if I fancied running a summer gift swap like my annual Christmas swap. Never one to pass up an opportunity to send and receive parcels, I leaped at the chance. So here's the Summer Thrifty Gift Swap! If you want to take part, have a look at the guidance below and then get in touch with either Rebs or me.

1. Send your name, address, social media links and blog address (if you have one) to jbistheinitial@gmail.com by May 31st. Please also include in your email as much detail about your likes and dislikes - including any dietary requirements - as possible, so your giver has a starting point.
2. Once you receive the information about your recipient , you can start putting together a box of bought, thrifted and handmade goodies you think your recipient will love.  In the Christmas swap there have been a huge range of thoughtful gifts exchanged: last year my haul included enamel pins, a tote bag, secondhand books, a beautiful handmade embroidery hoop, and zines.
3. Limit yourself to a £10-12 spend (not including postage).
4. Pop your parcel in the post by June 30th.
5. Sit back and wait to receive your own box of delights from a mystery giver!