Hey all! I’m back! Happy New Year! Did you have a good one? Well, it’s officially 2017 which is just crazy but well, here we are with a fresh new slate stretching out before us. As you know, I took a short break and daaaaamn, did it feel good. Recharging your batteries is just so good for the soul and when you are a freelancer, I think it’s more important than ever to take some time to just unplug for a while which is exactly what I did. We had busy days of spending time with family and friends and days where I felt the need to get my house fully organised (more on that soon) but we had a bit of downtime too – just hanging out, enjoying the fact Wayne was off all week too and spending the day in loungewear, rifling through leftovers and eating mince pies at 3 in the afternoon with a cheeky Irish coffee.
At the start of every single year that I’ve had this blog, I do a post just like this. While I love the fact that January affords us the opportunity to look ahead (and don’t worry, my next post will do just that!), one of the biggest things you can do in terms of your own growth is to look back at your accomplishments of the previous twelve months and celebrate them.
I see it as an opportunity to learn and reflect, to understand what went well and what didn’t go so well and to begin the year with a clear vision of what I want from it. On the political and social landscape, 2016 has been shockingly sh*t. I mean, let’s just acknowledge that fact right now. But despite all the heartache and fear and the sheer terror of not knowing what the hell is going to happen, I suppose it’s good to reflect on some of the positives. I know we had a busy year in terms of the house and made some great progress on certain jobs that had been on my ‘to-do’ lists for YEARS. Ticking those off felt great and I sometimes forget just how much we accomplished. So here goes…
The Dining Room
The dining room was by far our biggest project over the late winter and right into spring. I desperately wanted/needed to change the paint colour in the room and decided on a pale grey – Blackened from Farrow & Ball alongside a fabulous graphic wallpaper. We took the opportunity to give the entire room a facelift – from DIY wall panels to newly installed and stained floorboards, a tiled fireplace and new skirting boards and architraves which gave the room a more regal touch.
I also chose a few new pieces of statement art and a new sideboard and reupholstered my vintage Chippendale chairs with my signature leopard print velvet. I spend so much time in this room now and I really love how it came out. It’s just a much happier, brighter space even in these darker days of winter.
The Master Bedroom
In late spring, I finally got around to updating one of my biggest bugbears in the house. The ugly wardrobes that had been in our bedroom since we’d moved in were finally replaced with a stunning set of black beauties. And thanks to a tip-off from one of my fabulous readers, I managed to bag a bargain on a dream light fixture as well.
The Back Deck and Pergola
Mid-summer, we decided to tackle the back of the garden, necessitated by the removal of a few trees from our neighbours’ garden which opened up the whole space and diminished some of our privacy. We replaced the shorter fence panels with taller ones but more importantly, we built a new deck across the back of the garden as well as a new pergola and painted the whole thing black.
We had some lovely BBQs here and the back of the garden has never felt so private. In even better news, that scaffolding (which had been up for 2 1/2 years! Gah!) finally came down this past autumn! Can I get a HELL YEAH?! I’ll have to take some new pictures in spring to show you (at the moment, it’s looking rather sad and bare because, well, it’s winter!) but trust me, it’s so nice not to have to look at that horrible structure anymore!
Over the late summer and into autumn, we finally tackled the kitchen which had been started but sadly never finished. It was finally time to get my ‘dream kitchen’ (well, within reason). We re-tiled, DIY’d the installation of our new marble-effect acrylic worktop, installed a shiny new gold tap and sinks, painted the cupboards a sexy black and replaced the handles.
I also re-wallpapered behind the shelving units and we replaced all our appliances. The final result was a personal triumph – I adore how it all came together and spending time in the kitchen has never been so enjoyable. I mean, I don’t even mind doing dishes now. Considering it probably only cost us around £3k for this final push, I ended up with a kitchen I truly love.
The Master Bedroom (again)
And finally, in Autumn, I gave my once very colourful bedroom a textural neutral boho glam new look. I really love how relaxed this room now feels with all the textures and plant life.
A few other highlights of the year included this fun tablescape I did for Halsted Design using plants for a tropical vibe to match the whimsical animal prints in the textiles. I love how this came out and it’s probably my favourite tablescape that I’ve ever done.
Another popular post which got tonnes of responses on social media were my tips on whether or not you should paint your walls in a dark colour using my handy flowchart. This was so much fun to pull together!
One that really took off thanks to Pinterest was my formula on how to style a coffee table. Breaking it down to its individual parts sometimes makes styling a lot easier for me too and I was thrilled that so many of you seemed to like it. I followed this up with my formula for styling a bar cart too!
You guys clearly love an Ikea hack (I mean, who doesn’t?!) because the winner of my most popular post was my 5 Favourite Ikea Hacks in my home, proving that you don’t have to spend a lot of cash to get a totally unique look.
My 2017 Interior Design Predictions seemed to resonate with you. I suppose like me, you guys enjoy getting a sneak peek on what trends we’ll most likely be seeing as we go into this year. Can’t wait to see if my predictions were bang on or way off (hey it happens!) ;)
And finally, I organised the very first UK Home Christmas Blog Hop with a bunch of fabulous interior design bloggers in December. It was so much fun to do and everyone was so excited to take part and so supportive of one another. The design community here in the UK is such a tight-knit lovely group. It’s not a huge country and having my ‘tribe’ around me for support has always been my favourite thing about blogging so getting everyone together was a great success. I’m already planning another blog hop in Spring – can’t wait!
On a Personal Note…
I was privileged to be featured in a few pretty cool places this year: Germany’s Deco magazine (the second time I appeared in print in that country!) and in Rustoleum’s supplement magazine, Make it Yours which was an addition to a whole host of different print magazines here in the UK. I was also quoted in Scotland’s i-on magazine all about bar carts – and you know how much I like those. I had fun with the ladies of Little Yellow Couch podcast which was great fun (you can listen to that here) and also appeared online in Good Housekeeping, Marie Claire as well as guest posting on Rock My Style.
Personally, the highlight of the year for me was finally walking away with my very first Amara Interior Blog Award as the winner of the Blogger’s Choice Award. It was such a huge achievement and filled me with gratitude, being able to do something I love with so much incredible support. I also made Vuelio’s Top 10 Interior Blogs list which was such a huge honour.
So it’s been a hell of a year for me and my little blog here. I’m so happy you’ve been with me every step of the way, cheering me on, encouraging me and offering your own opinions and advice. I love this blog more than you could ever know – it’s my baby, it’s constantly on my mind and a huge part of my life and having you along for the ride is simply EVERYTHING to me. I really can not even stress that enough.
In my next post, I’ll talk a little more about my plans for the new year and what’s in store for 2017. And now, I’d love to hear from you! What was your favourite project this year? Favourite advice article? Anything you’d love to see in the new year here on Swoon Worthy? Do tell!