Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Virtual Designing with Neybers

So my dear new bloggy friend Sarah turned me on to a new app that's starting to make waves across the interior world. It's called Neybers and with her encouragement, I decided to give it a bit of a whirl.

The application which is available both on the web as well as on iTunes, essentially allows you to design a virtual room using preloaded walls, flooring, paint effects, wallpaper, furniture, accessories and, well, everything and anything that would go into a room.

You start by choosing your room type. You don't have to concern yourself too much with the 'look' of the space just yet because virtually EVERYTHING is changeable - flooring, walls, finishes, windows, doors, etc. So you just are starting with a clean slate. You can then add all your finishes to create the architecture with just a few clicks.

After you've created your space, the fun begins. Just click on 'shop' to start dressing the room with more than 6000 items available - all from real designers and retailers with new items added every week.

With very little instruction, I found it was pretty easy to pick up and start creating. Ok, I probably lost hours in this app, because for a design junkie like me (and probably you), it's just too much fun not to.

Here's what I created...

And then I designed an equally mad dining room because I was on a roll.

I realised that it's pretty scary what I might create if I had unlimited funds and carte blanche to design a space! But that's what this app lets you do. Oh yes, my eclectic glam side went a bit crazy I reckon! Of course, for me, this is fantasy rather than practicality - I mean, it's an app, why the hell not have some fun with it? On a more practical side, however, it could well be a way to create a dream room in your own home. You could certainly use it in a more practical manner ;)

To be honest, these were just my newbie attempts. Some of the designs on the site are serious jaw-dropping and incredibly inspiring. And even better, if you want to have a look at a room you love, you can easily 'enter' it and see the items, filters, light effects and everything that went into creating it. It's a great source of inspiration.

Now one thing you should know... this is still in Beta so there are a few small glitches that probably need to be worked out. I couldn't figure out how to get one item behind another item so I basically needed to design my rooms from the outside in because each layer goes on top of the other. I'm sure there's a way to do this (there are buttons that appear to allow you to do this) but I am impatient and couldn't get it to work properly. (Sarah, if you know and you want to chime in in the comments, please do!)

There are also a number of items that aren't available on the website that are available on the iPad app (this is why my dining room doesn't have any candles in the candelabra ;)) but a note appears saying that they will be available on the web in due course. So if you have an iPad, definitely use that at least for now for the greatest amount of options available.

Here's a video that showcases how easy it is to create a room:

In the meantime, I have to say, it's really good fun. You can allow your imagination to go wild as there is just so much available to play with on the site and creating something from scratch is just a few clicks away.

Of course, there is also a social element to it where you can follow other users and 'like' and comment on other's work (I have to admit, it was rather exciting having my first 'like': "OMG they like me! I've been accepted!!" I have issues, okay? Don't judge me.). You can also share your designs on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook.

It's really simple to sign into as well - you can do so through Facebook or via your own email and within moments, you can start creating some beautiful creative spaces!

What do you think of this new app? Is it something you would try for yourself?

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This post is in association with Neybers but all words and opinions are as always my very own. Thanks so much for supporting the brands that support Swoon Worthy!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Take Me Away: 3 Days in Historic Bath

I was lucky enough to be able to fill last year with a number of different visits to some cool destinations - Barcelona, Amsterdam, Stockholm and closer to home, Lincolnshire and Shropshire. This year? Aside from a trip to London to visit friends a couple of months ago, I feel like we have barely left the house, never mind go anywhere that involved passports.

You may recall from my post about my new coffee table back in January that we'd originally planned on going to the gorgeous historic city of Bath for my birthday but apocalyptic forecasts of rain, hail, storm clouds and 50mph winds meant we had to cancel. We bought a coffee table instead so it wasn't all bad but I still really wanted to go.

Well, last week, we finally made the journey and the weather was just perfect for Autumn! Hurrah! A balmy 17-19 degrees C, sunny and lovely. The perfect season to see this absolutely stunning city.

I'll apologise now for the many many photos that lay ahead but it's just so damn picturesque a city, it was difficult to keep our phones in our pockets (and yes all photos are from my phone so apologies if the quality could be better.)

If you haven't been to Bath before or you are visiting England for the first time, then do make sure it's on your list of cities to see. Yes, I know that everyone has to go to London but it is well worth it to see some of the most gorgeous Georgian architecture you have ever seen.

We stayed at Villa Magdala, a 5* Luxury B&B in the heart of the city. Yes, that's my little yellow Mini you see below marked out front! It's a rather beautiful building with Victorian architecture and as you can see they had a car park which in this city is a rarity! This meant, we could park up on Sunday evening upon our arrival and not have to worry about the car again for the duration of the stay.  

The rooms, while small, are nicely decorated and spotlessly clean. To be totally honest, I was expecting a little more in terms of room quality for the price (bigger? more luxurious?) but then, Bath is not an inexpensive city so it's probably relative. The staff were wonderfully attentive, however, really friendly and helpful and the common areas were beautiful. The bathroom had Missoni soaps which was a nice touch. (Pic below was of our room but from their website).

On Sunday evening, we had dinner and drinks at a nearby restaurant/bar called The Boater. We ended up back at the Boater every night of our stay because it was on the way back from town to the B&B and I liked the industrial look of the place. They also had a rather gorgeous Chenin Blanc from New Zealand that I loved and quite a few independent beers on tap for Wayne. I'd recommend it for quiet after dinner drinks.

On Monday, we decided it would be the day to explore the city by foot. 

We walked everywhere around the city itself and ventured as far as the beautiful Victoria Park which was just stunning. The sun was shining and we took lots of pictures!

On Monday night, we had dinner at Cafe du Globe, a Moroccan restaurant in town. We both had different dishes served in a tagine and both were absolutely phenomenal. Highly recommended if you like your food with lots of flavour.

On Tuesday, it was our 'Tourist Day' so we decided to hit the Roman Baths first, then the Abbey, then the Victoria Art Museum and finally we took a boat trip down the River Avon.

As the biggest tourist attraction in Bath, I have to admit the Roman Baths are a must-see and there's an audio tour to follow for all the historic background. It's amazing what is underground and it appears to just go on and on with various rooms to explore.

If you missed it on Instagram, this is us doing our 'Gangsta' pose at the Roman Baths. Yes, posing inappropriately at history landmarks is funny to us. Also we are as far from 'gangsta' as you can possibly get. Which we find even funnier.

The Abbey is an amazing building. I mean, just look at it! I will shut up and just let the pictures do the talking.

We stopped for a quick drink at The Pig and Fiddle but despite friendly bar staff, it was pretty much a dive in comparison to the stunning surroundings. If you head to Bath, this is not on my recommended list of establishments to visit ;)

The Victoria Art Gallery Museum was also a little disappointing. It wasn't bad and it was nice way to kill an hour (it's rather small) but if you are only visiting Bath for a very short time, then you won't really lose anything skipping this one out. I've been to much better in other cities. There are actually a whole host of museums in Bath and I kind of wish we had time to explore a couple of others.

The little boat tour, however was a lovely jaunt. An hour heading down the Avon was just a lovely way to relax and enjoy the scenery float by.

After our leisurely float, we stopped off for cocktails after a recommendation from the hotel staff to The Porter, a stunning little bar on the 2nd floor gazing on to the streets below. The interior is quite pretty and the drinks were lovely. (Image directly below is courtesy of The Porter's website.)

On Tuesday night, we had dinner at Turtle Bay, which we later realised was a chain restaurant that serves Caribbean food (and there's actually one in Manchester - whoops). To be honest, the food was great and the Island Ice Teas went down rather nicely (this may have played a part in why we loved the food so much so take that on board).

And then of course, we finished our night at our 'local' - The Boater.

Charming, isn't he?

In the morning, we made our way back home! It was a really lovely couple of days in a beautiful historic city.

Have you been to Bath? Is it in your list of places to visit?

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Friday, 26 September 2014

Let's talk about that one time I blew the budget...

Wayne sometimes teases me when I dreamily gaze at bigger ticket items that I'm going to have to remove the 'pretty on the cheap' line in my blog header. He's joking of course and I laugh but at the same time I have to think, "Am I being dishonest to my readers by not always going the cheapest route?"

So I thought I'd open up the discussion here because I want to be transparent with you guys and open and honest. Yes, I will often will look for the best price on something and I will often go the DIY route if I think I can but truthfully, I don't always. Why not?

Well, let's start off by talking about my recent dressing room makeover mostly because I totally went over budget. Yep, totally.

Initially, I had decided I would spend around £500. So let's start there.

Here's a breakdown of costs -

Oil-based Dulux Satin Finish Wood Paint £25
Marble Sticky Back Plastic (3 rolls): £21
Wood/Coving for Bookcases: £60
House of Hackney Wallpaper: £70
Lighting: £80
Fabric for Pelmet & Vanity Skirt: £20
Custom Wood Blind: £47
Brass & Acrylic toggles for Blind: £12
Cow Skin Rug: £200
Full Length Wall Mirror: £200
Vanity Mirror: £35
Custom Print Framing: Free (courtesy of
MDF for Marble Tops on Vanity and Chest of Drawers: Free (made from old doors)
Primer, Paint brushes, Spraypaint, Adhesive, misc fixings: Free (already had)
Acrylic Bracelet Display: £12
Desk clock £25

Total Cost: £807

Yep, a whopping £300 over my original budget.

Hmm... so why did I go so far over budget? Quite simply, this allowed me to get the room exactly as I wanted rather than wait and revisit the room again in the near future. What pushed me over budget was essentially down to the new full length mirror and the cowskin rug (costing me £400 just for those two items) both of which were later additions to my original plans.

Now, I am fully aware that £800 for a 'mini-makeover' probably isn't what many people would consider "pretty on the cheap" - it's not a huge amount of money but it's nothing to be sneezed at either. Perhaps I should have called it a 'medium-makeover'? Again, 'budget' is relative, right? Perhaps £800 is not much at all to you or perhaps it's a huge amount that would involve months of careful budgeting and saving. It's all relative really and I'm fully aware that you guys may be at all different stages of your financial lives so one person's 'bargain buy' may be another person's 'splurge' item.

Anyway, in the spirit of openness and honesty and all those happy fuzzy things we can talk about amongst our friends, there are a few things I think are worth mentioning.

1. Everything was bought with cash. I really feel quite strongly about not going into debt when it comes to prettying up a room and so any disposable income I have goes into a savings account I call 'House Fund'. I dipped into it a bit more than I was going to for this one but the money was there to spend and yes, we will still eat this month and we won't have bailiffs at the door.

2. I DIY'd as much as what I felt I could.  The chest of drawers really just got a lick of paint and a new top, the Billy bookcases were hacked, the pelmet and vanity were also DIY'd. Sure I could have spent more on these things but it didn't seem sensible when I knew I could get a look that I would still be happy with even though I went a cheaper route.

3. I'm no longer flat broke. When I first started this blog, money was REALLY tight. I mean, I wasn't up to my eyeballs in debt or anything but we'd just purchased a house (which is scarily expensive with all the fees and costs tied up in that, never mind a mortgage payment), I didn't have any freelance work at that time and money was being spent on stuff like floorboards and insulation and appliances. Not necessarily the pretty stuff. We've moved on now, the biggest work is (mostly) done and there is more disposable income for 'pretties', ya know?

4. I wanted a room fit for a grown up considering, at 41, I am no longer allowed to call myself a 'young adult'. It's definitely a more 'grown up' space which was my aim from the beginning. I thought it was time I made a few 'adult purchases' to go with that. Both the rug and the mirror, while more expensive than your normal Ikea fare, will hopefully be with me for a very long time and can easily be used in other rooms or more likely, in our next home. In fact, I have plenty of leftover wallpaper for future projects. Plus? Those Ikea bookcases are looking rather smart, I have to say. I wouldn't object to keeping them for a good while too. The room was originally done on a really tiny budget and I thought it was time to give it a proper finish.

5. I didn't actually go crazy with the spendiness. I'm so happy with this space and every penny in my mind was worth it to get a luxurious finish. However, I would have loved to have purchased the House of Hackney Wildcard silk fabric to make the skirt and pelmet from but again, those aren't things I would really be able to take with me (unless I had a room and window in these exact measurements in the future which is probably unlikely). I could have also purchased new shelving or a new chest of drawers or actually put in built-ins instead of hacking the Billy bookcases. I did make some conscious decisions of where to spend the money and where not to.

So in conclusion... I think when it comes to decorating, it's down to choices in terms of your individual budget. Where to splurge (on things you can take with you if you move or use in other rooms in the future) and where to save (on the things that will stay with the house if it's not your 'forever home'). Everyone will have a different take on this.

I hope this doesn't come across as making excuses because that isn't the intention - I just wanted to explain my thought process, thinking it may help you with deciding what's appropriate for your own circumstances. It's a delicate balance and no one can judge you for making up your own mind.

Except for Meisha because she's a judgemental cow.

And finally, do you think I should change my tag line from 'Inspiration, DIY and the Quest for Pretty on the Cheap'? If so, what do you think it should be? If not, why not? Have you ever gone way over budget on a project? Perhaps you have your own reasons why? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this! Weigh in in the comments...

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Oh and don't forget, there's still time to vote for my little splodge on the interwebs in Amara's Interior Blog Awards 2014 in the DIY category! Thank you to everyone who's already voted, it truly does mean so much to me!

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