Monday, 30 April 2012

Rebel Rebel: Bedroom Back to Black

I've got so much stuff around the house to share with you - little projects here and there that are started but maybe not quite ready or I just haven't had the time to get my shit together get the room blog-ready or it's not been sunny enough so the light's not been great etc etc and so it awaits it's debut.

But this weekend, I thought sod it.  I'm going to share, despite the fact that the room isn't really ready.  I think there's a danger of waiting until "perfection" before we can share in blogland.  I do get it, of course... we all want to look at rooms that are beautiful - we don't want to see the pile of dirty laundry waiting to be done or stains in the carpet where the cat has puked and it just won't come out.  We want to see rooms, styled to perfection, ready and waiting our ooohs and ahhhs.  Hell, I want that in my own home and I would love to show that to you on the blog.  But sometimes I think if I have to wait to go get some fresh flowers (mine are dying at the moment and I went to get more on Thursday AND Friday but they didn't have any) or wait until Manchester actually has a FREAKIN' SUNNY DAY, it just ain't gonna happen.

And so what you get, my dear ones, is real life.  I hope you are okay with me all keepin' it real and all that around here.  Right, so all that said, on with the show.  Don't worry, the post doesn't contain any cat puke, I promise.

Man, I've got some PLANS for this room.  Seriously, I have a vision of what this room will eventually become.  But baby steps.  Mostly cuz I just don't have thousands at my disposal to throw around and I've got a wish list for every room in the house a mile long.

But a couple of weekends ago, I decided that I really needed to do something about the curtains in the bedroom.  They were just too long.  I thought I liked the pooled effect but the more I looked at the ends of the curtains, dragging along the floor, the more it got too much to bear.

The curtain pole brackets were attached on the larger window to a piece of wood that sat parallel to the window frame.  You can kind of see it in this old picture from last year when we hung the curtains originally.

Do you see the big holes and bits that aren't painted?  Yeah, that's how they've been for ages now.  When the curtains were drawn, it was fine, but when they weren't, all that crap was on show.  Not cool, man.  Not cool.

It was even worse on the other window where there was no bit of wood at all and the curtain brackets were starting to fall out of the wall (it's an old house, everything needs reinforcement because the walls are just very old and crumbly).  Add to that the curtain pulls on the wall had also started to fall out of the wall.  Oh and everything was silver and I was going towards gold in this room...

So I decided a couple of Saturdays ago, that I was going to remove the existing bit of wood on the large window, pick up a couple new bits from Homebase, fill in the holes and rehang the curtains higher.  And while I was at it, I might as well paint the white bit above the picture rail in the same colour as the walls because that'd been bugging me as well.  And while I was doing THAT, I would also paint above the picture rail of the black feature wall.  Because that was annoying me as well.

See how it's white above the picture rail?  ANNOYING.

So I told W my grand plans for the day and he said 10 words that I never thought would come out of his mouth.  Ten little words that changed the entire plan of the room.  Ten words that made me move so quickly, he barely had them out of his mouth before the door had slammed and I was running to Homebase.

Those words were this:

"You can paint the whole room black if you want."



"Are you serious?"

"Yeah, I don't mind.  If you want to paint the whole room black, you can."

ZOOOOOOOOM!!!  (That was me running out the door.)

It had always been my ambition to paint the entire room black but W always objected.  He thought it would be far too dark, far too claustrophobic.  And I totally understand the hesitation.  It's a big move to paint a room black.  It conjures up images of Gothic teens with black lights feeling rather sad and insular.  I mean, the Cure was the first band I ever saw live growing up (I was 16 years old - think LOTS of black eyeliner, hair dyed jet black and dark purple lipstick) but I've sort of outgrown that look now.  That wasn't what I had in mind.

There are 3 reasons why I thought this room could take fully black walls:

1.  It's a big room, the biggest in our house.  Not big by America's standards, mind you, but pretty big by British standards.

2.  It gets loads of light.  There are two big windows and even on the darkest days, this room is bright.  The 'After' pics I'm sharing today were taken on Sunday at 5pm while it PISSED DOWN ALL DAY outside.  It was not a sunny day in the least.  And the pics still show a pretty light room.

3.  It's got pretty high ceilings.  There's no fear of claustrophobia when you've got a nice white ceiling so high above your head and pale beige carpet beneath your feet.

It took me ALL WEEKEND to get the room done.  Saturday was a lot of prep, filling cracks, sanding, getting the boards cut to size, sanded and up.  Sunday was just a lot of painting.  Like I said, it's a good sized room and I spent most of my time just going up and down a ladder.

I love the way it came out though.  So right, ready to share!

Let's look at the before first of all...

And what it looks like now...  I haven't decided yet whether that mirror is going back on the wall or not.  Hmmm.  I would actually prefer a gold framed rectangular mirror hung vertically.  Someday, someday.

Here's some more...


And after...  As you can see, I painted the radiator as well which I am SO GLAD I did because now it blends in rather than being the eyesore that it was before.

And a few others just to be gratuitous...  I added the black cushions to the bed a while ago.  I like how they tie in to the black walls now.  The crappy pendant needs to be replaced desperately.  I envision a gorgeous old brass chandelier.  Mmmm yeah.

My new framed canvas as well.  I just loved the colours and want to eventually pull a few of these through the room like the red and turquoise.

As you can see as well, I painted out the picture rail which I think looks better than dividing the room.  It adds architectural interest but in a subtle way.

I also moved the little console table that used to be in my dining room in the corner of the room to house the television.  I like that the telly now just blends in with the wall so it's less of an eyesore and the painting takes your eye away from it.  The console table will be replaced eventually with a wood chest of drawers - I have my eye on a couple at the moment on eBay.  It's not been styled up yet though as you can see!

I know that a fully black room is not going to be to everyone's taste.  I know there are going to be plenty of people out there that would have preferred the lighter grey as it was before.  But I do believe in staying true to what you love and not giving in to what everyone else wants.

And I do truly love it.  We are looking at getting a king size bed.  And I have my eye out as well for some new  (probably antique painted) bedside tables.  I also envision a gorgeous yellow velvet headboard which I'll be getting custom made (again £££)... and new (antique) wardrobes but baby steps here.  The bedroom is black.  Rebel yell, baby.  Rebel yell.  I reckon my 16 year old self would have approved.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Friday Free For All: Watch Listen Tell

I fell into a bit of a You Tube hole the other day.  You know how you look for one thing and then you're distracted by all the other shiny stuff going on at the right hand of the screen?  And then you click on said shiny thing and it leads you somewhere else and then another shiny thing is clicked and then something else and then all of a sudden you are swept into a shiny world of your own making?  Yeah, one of them.

And somehow, in this wondrous hole, I serendipitously came upon Watch Listen Tell, the brainchild of David Tree.  Apparently, David has a real passion for live music and along with his partner, Ben Axtell, wanted to capture that rawness and excitement in the videos he produces.

In an interview with It's Nice That, David said, "I got bored of the way live music was being presented and packaged, I wanted WLT to be something different. Simply put, it’s a unique music channel, featuring new artists playing live music."

The result is a beautifully raw and beautifully shot catalogue of music that spans artists both well known (Florence and the Machine before they were even signed (!), Two Door Cinema Club, Bombay Bicycle Club, Ben Howard) and not so well known (Hey Rosetta!, Dark Dark Dark, Young the Giant, Cloud Control).

The artists and bands from all parts of the world perform acoustically, some in the woods, some near abandoned railroad lines, some on the street, in and around London mostly... and sometimes using whatever is handy to strum upon to keep the beat.

He added, "We leave a certain amount to improvisation, bands sometimes play railings or find other ways to create an instrument they don’t have with them. This makes the track they play totally unique, that’s what I think fans and music lovers like. There’s a feeling it could all go wrong at any moment, just like going to see a gig."

If you like softly aching acoustic live music and a vintage-y feel to your videos, then I implore you to check out this project.  There were so many stunning songs and artists I've discovered in the process, that my hope is that you will discover that sometimes just because an artist is still relatively unknown, doesn't mean they aren't GOOD.  Getting away from that artificial packaging that the music industry likes to throw around and getting back to actual raw talent is what is so special about Watch Listen Tell.

I've included a couple of songs here but it was seriously difficult to choose because I loved so many.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy a bit of a gorgeous music!  Do let me know what you think and have a fabulous weekend.

Images and quotes courtesy of It's Nice That

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Take Me Away: Strozzi Palace and a wander around Cheltenham, Gloucester

So this weekend, we ventured 2 hours south to the lovely picturesque town of Cheltenham in Gloucester (That's pronounced GLOSS-TER, not GLOUW-ses-ter for my American brethren.  I swear the English name their towns and then pronounce them completely differently just to trip us up).

Yay for taking goofy pics of yourself in the car!

It was all a grand master plan to whisk my lovely W away for a romantic retreat for his birthday.

Our hotel, Strozzi Palace

I spoiled him but because I was there too, I got spoiled by default.  Result!

The birthday boy

We stayed at Strozzi Palace, located pretty much in the heart of everything, in a gorgeously appointed, incredibly affordable serviced apartment where a chilled bottle of champagne, a box of chocolates and a bed strewn with rosepetals were there to greet us.  Tres romantic!!

As you can see, we didn't waste any time on the Thornton's.

His n' Hers fluffy bathrobes.  Oh, okay, then!

The apartment was all kinds of lovely.  I'm going to show you the website pics of it rather than my own crappy mobile pics because these show off our suite much better than I can.  Except with bathrobes and rosepetals and champers in ice but I'm sure you can use your imagination.

Fancy, no? 

So as difficult as it was to tear ourselves away from the apartment, we decided to take advantage of our location and have a wander around.  I'd only really known of Cheltenham because of its horse racing but a workmate who hails from these parts assured me that as it's on the northernmost part of the Cotswolds, it's in a rather lovely part of the country.  I couldn't agree more.  It was the perfect weekend break.

The architecture was just gorgeous with loads of beautiful apartments and regal homes everywhere you looked.

Montpellier was our favourite part.  The shops in Montpellier Walk are separated by caryatids, based on the classical models on the Erechtheion in Athens, and no two are the same. I found them rather fabulous.



We did a lot of walking, just enjoying the view and each other's company.

We also did a lot of people watching while sat in cafes drinking lattes...

And of course, a few drinks of the alcholic variety as well...

We visited an outdoor market...

... where there was all manner of hand crafted loveliness.

Ate at a fabulous Thai Restaurant, the Thai Emerald, which was so authentic, you felt as though you'd walked into another world...  The food was amazing.

We also did a bit of window shopping...  

(Oh and actual shopping too of course... I'll show you some of my purchases in another post)

I desperately wanted those tortoise shell tumblers but this shop was closed on a Sunday.  Booo!

And dodged raindrops between bursts of sunshine...

All in all, it was a really wonderful little escape and I would highly recommend a trip to Cheltenham for a weekend away!  But learn from my mistake and bring a better camera, rather than depend upon your mobile!

Any romantic getaways in your future?  Have you been to Cheltenham?  Anywhere else you would recommend for a weekend break?  Take any goofy self-portraits in a car lately?  Do tell... The comment box awaits!

All pics my own (taken on a rather shitty mobile phone) except where indicated.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Stuff Lust: Pretty Things You Can Buy With Actual Real Money

Firstly, I wanted to say a very big thank you for all the lovely comments on my little back garden makeover!  So many sweet comments so thank you thank you thank you.  Y'all rock my world.  I also wanted to say that I've recently had a promotion at work (yay!) but with that, I've also been crazy busy and working very long hours (booo!).  So I just want to apologise if I haven't paid a visit to your blog lately!  I'm hoping some of that craziness will die down soon and I can resume a normal schedule of  projects, blogging and visiting soon because I'm missing all the inspiration and seeing 400+ unread blogs in my reader makes my palms sweaty.

In the meantime, I've come across a few things in my travels on the interwebs of products that I've loved and thought you might like them too.

I have really fallen for this gorgeous pineapple lamp base from Graham and Green.  At  £125, it's certainly not cheap but it's a classic piece that will not likely go out of style anytime soon.  In fact, they've been in style since the days of Columbus and through the 1700-1800's, being used by artisans as a symbol of wealth.  This is because, at the time, the only people who could afford this strange and wonderful fruit from the Caribbean were the very rich.  Little bit of history there for ya.  I know, I'm good to you.

Much more in line with my budget, this gorgeous throw from Urban Outfitters would look amazing either on a wall as shown as a backdrop to some gorgeous furniture or on a bed layered with lots of colours and textures, Anthro-style but without the Anthro price tag.  At only £35, you can even take it along on a picnic and not worry too much about throwing it in the wash afterwards.  It's listed as a 'tapestry' but to be fair, it's just printed cotton.  But it IS rather pretty.

Having a tea party?  How about these gorgeous gold plates from Forages? Definitely fit for a Queen (or indeed for your Jubilee Party) at £38 for a set of four.

These gorgeous candle pots from Rockett St George are reminiscent of old fashioned shaving pots.  They have a couple different styles but the Papillon Paon is my favourite.  They are £35 each.

I also love this Limestone art, also from Rockett St George.  Such a perfect gift for your partner.  It's £49.

The wall art (by Coulson Macleod) reads as follows:

What is Love? To solve the riddle with just one answer is beyond me, for love is many different and contradictory things.  In the early stages love is excitement and breathlessness, it is the ache of separation and the comfort of togetherness, and it builds inexorably to that moment when 'I' becomes 'we'.  Later, if blessed, love becomes a stronger, less transitory thing, a foundation for two lives lived as one.  It is all around us, there for the taking, yet to seek it out is futile.  It cannot be bought or stolen or given.  It cannot be avoided or denied.  Love is the beautiful, wonderful, mysterious motar that binds two souls together and I first heard its voice on the day I met you.  It has been with me every moment since.  This is what love is.


Oh, and speaking of love, this weekend, I am taking my gorgeous guy away to Cheltenham in the Cotswolds for his birthday so you'll probably not hear much from me then either but with 3 days off work, I can't wait to get away!  Boutique Hotel, here we come! :)

And on that note, I will bid you adieu and wish you a fabulous week!


Monday, 16 April 2012

Before and After: Weekend Back Garden Blitz Part III - The Reveal!!

Well, my dears, the little scrappy patch of wilderness at the back of my garden is finally no more.  The truth is, it's actually been mostly done for a couple of weeks but I promise I haven't just been holding out.

It's just that I live in Manchester, England.  And while England is known the world over for being rainy, Manchester is known throughout England as 'The Rainy City'.  So that's saying something. But, hey the music scene is brilliant so ya win some, ya lose some.

As it goes, I've not had a sunny enough day to take pictures so that I could share the work we've done, never mind be able to use the space.  However, yesterday was a gorgeously sunny day!  Hurrah!  About bloody time as well.

You may recall from the last time you saw the back of my garden, there was a massive improvement to the space over the course of a single weekend.  A lot of digging, moving, weeding, planting, raking, re-planting, potting, blood, sweat, tears, etc etc was necessary as it was looking really quite horrible and sad.

Just as a reminder, this was the state of it when I took the original pictures on Thursday, 15th March.  If you haven't seen it before, brace yourself.  It's not pretty.

A heck of a busy weekend meant that by Sunday, 19th March, it looked like this:

A bit better, but not quite there yet.  I teased you a week later that we'd done more to the garden, including painting the shed...

And laying a wee patio...

But it wasn't quite ready for the full reveal just yet.  I needed to add a few finishing touches before that was going to happen.  You'll be happy to know the finishing touches are pretty much done (I say 'pretty much' because I don't think a space is ever truly 'done'!) so I do hope you like it. 

Right, getting on with it now!  Just a reminder of our before...

And - ta da! What it looks like now...

Ahhhhhhh that's better, no?

Inspired by this pin, I added my own version of a herb garden on the front of the shed.  Just three little aluminium pots that I spray painted orange and hung with hooks.  I love the bit of contrast they provide with the bluey-green of the shed.

This planter had been purchased over 2 years ago - before we even moved into the house.  And it was languishing, never having been used and collecting dust, in our cellar.  I'd just never had a spot for it until now.  It was actually cream but as this space was going to be all about adding some colour, it too got the spray paint treatment.

This little orange bistro set was one I purchased from eBay for a mere £20.  Bargain!  I've seen similar sets new for around £100 so it pays to check what's on the market second-hand before you buy!  I think it fits the space nicely.  (In my dream outdoor space, I'd have a big crazy candelabra/chandelier hanging from a tree over this table but alas, I don't have a tree big enough nearby...)

Oh and didn't W do well on laying the patio?  I think he's done rather well considering this was never in our original plans!  Funny how plans just escalate, isn't it?  *looks around innocently* Not that I'm complaining... ;)

I added some solar lights in bright colours so we can sit out there in an evening as well.

These little ones were only £2 each from Homebase but they matched the colour scheme so well, I couldn't really resist.

Snazzy hardware completes the shed as well...  I simply spray painted the silver hinges that came with the fence gold and purchased a lovely pull handle for £8. 

I also added another 2 bags of stones to the front - that's 4 bags of the stuff in total!  Crazy that such a small space would need so much - oh well, it does look better than the horrible concrete walkway that had been there previously.

And finally, a few pretty potted flowers give the space a little bit more colour and life.

As I had said in my previous post, we had to leave a patch of dirt to the right of the little patio for the cats.  If we didn't, they'd be digging up the rest of our garden as well as our neighbours.  But I don't think it looks too out of place and we're going to plant a some rose bushes near the wall.  I'm hoping in a few years' time the back wall is all full of climbing roses - so very English!

Oh and I changed the 'curtain' that was hanging in the window of the shed.  It's actually just a £7 shower curtain stapled inside to look as though it's ruffled.  When I finally order some outdoor fabrics, I will probably change it but until then, the colours worked so I figured why not!

Anyway, I hope you liked my little back garden blitz and hope it's encouraged you that it doesn't take loads and loads of money to transform however neglected a space you may have!  Some bargains, a few potted plants, maybe a creative planter or two, a lot of hard work and a bit of know-how (we learnt how to lay a patio from the internet!) is all you really need.

Any garden makeovers in your plans?

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