28 February 2011

My home: an introduction.

In this mini-series, I'm going to share a selection of my favourite things from each room in our house. Hopefully these posts will provide you with a little insight into my style, and give you a peek into what our house is like.


Our bathroom is my next room to be featured in this series - I've mentioned before that our bathroom is downstairs, behind our kitchen, so it only seemed natural to focus on this room next.

The items I've focused on in this room are our medicine cabinet and "Jim", my metal bird sculpture:

Medicine cabinet

This little cupboard was a wedding present from my maternal grandmother. She picked it up at an auction, and it fits our needs perfectly. It's made of hard wood, and was made by soldiers who became injured in WWI. It has an inscription on the back that proves its provenance; unfortunately I can't take it off the wall to show you what it says, as I'm writing this while Torin is asleep upstairs having his afternoon nap and I'll wake him up if I go upstairs to get a screwdriver.

On the shelf are:
  • a little blue and white china bowl from The Pier (now closed down)
  • bath oils from The White Company (also a gift from my grandmother) - I love the simple packaging

"Jim" the metal bird

This was a birthday present from David a couple of years ago. That Spring, we had heard scratching in the chimney breast in our dining room - the chimney breast without an opening. Living in Cardiff, we often see seagulls nesting on chimney stacks, so our first thought was that a baby seagull had fallen down ours. We decided that we had to get it out, or the poor thing would certainly die (and begin to smell), so we took the grate off the wall. To our dismay, the hole in the wall behind the grate was approximately 3cm tall by 20cm long, so we had to widen the hole. David took a hammer and chisel and knocked a hole big enough for us to see what we were dealing with - a baby seagull that was by no means baby sized! Eventually we managed to widen the hole so it was big enough for David to reach in (with a gloved hand), and bring the poor bird out. He took it outside and placed it onto our patio table as we needed to see if it could fly away (we followed advice from the RSPB). Immediately, seagulls began circling our garden, screeching at the young bird. It didn't seem to be able to fly, and we were worried about our cats attacking it, so David plucked up the courage to go back into the garden (despite the now dive-bombing adults), and put the bird on the flat roof of our bathroom.

The bird stayed on our roof for about a week, and we named it Jim. Adult birds occasionally flew down to bring it food and one was always standing guard on our roof nearby. A few days into the following week, we heard a fracas in next door's garden and saw that Rufus our ginger cat had tried to have a pop at Jim, who must have tried to fly and ended up on the ground in their garden. The fracas was Rufus meowing and hastily retreating - seagulls can be vicious, and Jim certainly had back up. Over the next week or so, we would see Jim in different positions in the garden next door - he eventually managed to get up onto the roof of their shed. He then made it onto the roof of the house at the end of our garden. The day soon came when we went outside and couldn't see him anymore. This was a good thing - it meant he was fully grown up, fully healed, and free.

So, when David saw this metal sculpture in Homesense, he couldn't resist it. It always brings fond memories back every time I look at it, especially of David and our friend going out to check on Jim with umbrellas over their heads to protect them from swooping gulls!

26 February 2011

Can't stop looking at . . .

Each week, I'll be sharing with you something that has caught my eye. It may be a picture, blog, product or website.

A belated edition, sorry . . .

It's been a very busy week so far - seen lots of family and friends, and watched lots of rugby.

Anyway, I had a wander through John Lewis yesterday, and came across this adorable wooden bird sculpture:

It measures h20 x w26 x d14.

Here it is in relation to other objects:

Keeping my fingers crossed for Mothers' Day.

23 February 2011

Shopping for stripes.

Apologies for my absence yesterday, but I was out having a lovely time with my mum and Torin. We went to Kent to stay with my parents for a few days while David is in Italy with his work (lucky thing). Inbetween visiting friends and family, mum took Torin and me shopping, and thoroughly spoilt us. We had a lovely lunch at Carluccio's - where we shared the Antipasto di Verdure - a delicious platter of roasted peppers, a green bean salad with mint, caponata, buffalo mozzarella, artichokes and rustica olives and some lovely focaccia bread:

Image from here.

We were absolutely stuffed when we had finished - yum!

We then went to look for a present for someone in Marks and Spencer, and mum ended up treating us to these stripey lovelies:

This flattering striped Autograph jersey dress for me,

and these cute striped socks

and lovely striped cotton knitted jumper for Torin (this isn't him btw).

Thanks mum, we had a really lovely day! x

21 February 2011

Pin it up!

You can now find me on Pinterest! Look for rebeccamellor - drop by and see what I've been pinning up recently. I've only got one board at the moment - "For the Home", but I'll be creating more soon!

18 February 2011

Can't stop looking at . . .

Each week, I'll be sharing with you something that has caught my eye. It may be a picture, blog, product or website.

I was very excited last weekend, when Marie Nichols of Whole Lotta Lovely, announced that the online homewares store she is launching with her fiancé Simon, was nearly up and running.

Called The Shop at number 57, the website will be filled with limited editions, one offs, homemade beauties and vintage items, all brought together by an underlying British theme:

Browsing the website is a joy - I felt immediately relaxed when quintessentially British post-war music began playing, as if someone had just wound up an old gramophone. The products that are currently featured on the website look fantastic, and as is usual with Marie, they are all beautifully styled and photographed.

I think my favourite photograph is the one showing the cute decorative buttons:

I also really like these vintage flashcards (they would look great in Torin's room) and painted chair:

I'm looking forward to seeing the finished site, with its no doubt wonderful collection of treasures.

17 February 2011

Mid-century modern masters.

Some of you may have seen this picture before . . .

Image found here.

but I hadn't. I have to admit that when I was sent the link by my friend yesterday, I didn't recognise any of the men in the picture, although I did recognise what they were sitting on (phew).

The picture is from Playboy, July 1961, and features designers (from left to right): George Nelson, Edward Wormley, Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, Charles Eames and Jens Rison. Once I realised what the picture was showing, I began to smile. What an amazing picture - consider who these men are, what they are sitting on, and who they are sitting for. Brilliant.

I mentioned here, that I am a recent convert to mid-century design and therefore, the article accompanying the picture proved to be really interesting reading for me. While I was preparing this post I also found a longer, more in-depth article that featured this picture and explained the history of mid-century design by focusing on the designers in the picture. Both pieces are definitely worth a read.

16 February 2011

Don't try this at home.

OK, so I spent a while taking the books off my shelves last night, smiled a lot while I was sitting on the floor surrounded by a pretty rainbow of books, and then began to put them back on the shelf. Then . . . disaster struck!

I had put the red and orange books on the top shelf, was just reaching up with the yellows, and - argh! - the top shelf came crashing down, and clonked the second shelf on its way (this didn't fall down, but I took it down just in case). Books and screws everywhere. Not a happy bunny.

I then remembered that when David and I put those shelves up on the wall, we really struggled as our drill wasn't very powerful. We decided to get as many screws into the wall as we could, and then made the shelves safe enough by supporting the top shelf with taller books on the shelf below. We had planned to put the shelves up properly once we had a better drill (which we now have), but obviously forgot. I obviously weakened the top shelf when I took the supporting books away from the shelf below.

Anyway . . .

I've managed to put some of the books back on the remaining shelves, and piled the others up on top of the cupboard below:

I'm really pleased with how neat it looks - it turns our books from a bit of a mess, into more of a feature. David even admitted that they looked, "sweet".

I was so inspired with how good the books looked, that I also sorted out our poetry books.

The bookcase on our landing also got the treatment:

Ah, the littlest changes can be so pleasing. I know it's not the most practical solution, but as we have so many books in our house (I haven't shown you our spare room yet!), it takes a while to find a book anyway, so I don't think colour-coding them will make much difference to searching time.

Right . . . guess I'd better find some time to put those shelves up more securely - will show you what it looks like when it's done. 

15 February 2011

Never judge a book by its colour.

Our house is getting a bit overrun by books. Although most of them are on shelves (most), I'm finding that they make the rooms feel cluttered, and something definitely needs to be done. Before I began writing this post, I wondered about the possibility of sorting the books in my dining room according to colour. This is what the area looks like (sorry for the grainy photo - it's been dismal weather here this morning):

Ugh, those shelves - I really wish we'd got a carpenter to make fitted shelves in this alcove. Instead we went with the cheaper option (we have shelves in all 4 alcoves in our living room and dining room) and fitted floating shelves ourselves. I don't think they look too bad, but fitted shelves would have looked neater and more authentic.

I've spent a while getting inspired by pretty pictures of colour-coded bookshelves like the ones below.

Anna's books in her dining room at Door Sixteen:

Lovely, neat piles at HomeShoppingSpy:

Ordered shelves in Manda McGrory's living room via here:

A cute little library from Lesley:

And I think my mind is made up - I'm going to go for it. Not sure David's going to play ball with this idea (I just told him what I was planning to do, and he raised his eyebrows - a clear indication that I'm going to be forever putting books back in the "correct" place after he has plonked them on the shelf). Oh well, as long as they go on the shelf, I won't mind too much!

Stay tuned to see what my shelves look like after I've sorted them.

14 February 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Here's a round-up of some lovely Valentine images from the blogosphere:

A beautiful paperclip heart from Leslie at A Creative Mint.

Pretty heart garlands from here via here:

Understated love, from here via here:

Sweet treats from Katrien of Pilli Pilli Handmade via here:

Handmade Valentine badges from The Purl Bee:

Hope you all have a lovely day, whatever you get up to!

10 February 2011

Can't stop looking at . . .

Each week, I'll be sharing with you something that has caught my eye. It may be a picture, blog, product or website.

How cool is this!

Images from here.

Described as,"funky, neat and simple" by Livingetc magazine, this is the Leaning Man Console table by Frank Flavell for & Then Design. It comes in blue, orange or black, and would look super cool in any hallway. I wish it would fit in mine, but alas, there is a radiator in the way. Also, there's no way we would get the buggy past it anyway (it's a struggle as it is, getting it past the radiator cover that is only 20cm deep). 

I guess a girl must just be consoled (boom boom) by looking at pretty pictures. Hope you all have a great weekend! 

Toddler booster seats.

I think Torin is getting a big too big for his highchair - he wants to sit at the table with us, and the tray on his highchair prevents him from sitting flush with the table. As a temporary measure, I've been folding back the tray, as it hangs neatly down the back of the highchair. The result is a true high chair - a chair on long legs - and enables him to sit right up to the table - luckily there's just about enough room for his legs to go underneath. However, it's not entirely safe - if he reaches across the table for something, the chair begins to tip backwards (it's not really designed for this use). I think the time has come for some sort of booster seat, or properly designed toddler seat that will allow him to sit safely and eat from the table. 

I've had a look around (it took a while, as so many products seem to only be available in garishly coloured plastic), and these are some of the chairs I've found:

The AGAM chair from IKEA.

The Handysitt chair, available widely.

The Polar Gear Portable Booster seat.

The Mothercare 2in1 Booster Seat.

The Prince Lionheart booster POD.

I like the look of the IKEA one the most, but I can't help thinking that it still wouldn't be very safe for a 21 month old toddler. The Handysitt is also ok, but quite expensive. At this rate I can imagine us ending up with one of the cheaper plastic ones, and I'd really rather not. 

Any ideas?

9 February 2011

Reduce, reuse, recycle.

I read about these in the i newspaper the other day - such a good idea, don't you think?

Image from here.

They are a set of 5 jar tops designed by Jorre Van Ast for Royal VKB. They are available from various places and were designed to fit most glass jars.

The tops (which come in a few different colours) can transform an old glass jar into a sugar pot, milk jug, chocolate sprinkler, vinegar pourer or a water jug.

I always send my empty glass jars off to be recycled, but it still feels like a bit of a waste of energy when they could be reused very easily. I would use an empty jam jar to house an open packet of nuts, but I would never think of using it as a jug. Using these jar tops would make this possible, and stop me buying newly manufactured products - all too often I find myself looking at attractive kitchenware in shops, even though I don't really need anything.

I found myself being drawn to this pretty flour shaker, when the new Cath Kidston catalogue arrived on my mat the other day. 

Image from here.

I know I would probably never use it, but still found myself wanting it. The Jorre Van Ast jar tops would save me money, and help the environment at the same time.

8 February 2011

Keeping it simple.

Recently, I've been thinking of doing something like this:

Image from Livingetc magazine.

with these:

What do you think?

These mirrors are in our bedroom. Neither were expensive - the round one was from a jumble sale, and I spotted the rectangular one in the window of a charity shop. Although I like the gilded look, we've got a few different types of browns in our bedroom already, and I sometimes wonder if these mirrors as they are, are a bit too much. When I spotted the painted LaMaison mirror in the March edition of Livingetc magazine, I wondered if mine would look good painted the same colour as our walls (Mellow Mocha by Dulux). What do you think? I guess I could go for it, and then strip the paint if I don't like it.

7 February 2011

Tweet tweet!

You can now find beautiful square feet on Twitter. Look for beautifulsqfeet and follow me!

Image from here.

My home: an introduction.

In this mini-series, I'm going to share a selection of my favourite things from each room in our house. Hopefully these posts will provide you with a little insight into my style, and give you a peek into what our house is like.


Our fridge

Our fridge is brilliant. When we moved into our house, we found that the owners had left their old fridge in the kitchen, so made do with it for a while. However, it was tiny and had a really bad stench. We coped by putting a pot of bicarbonate of soda inside it, which quelled the smell for a bit, but it soon became clear that we would need a new fridge. I had long coveted the retro design of the SMEG fridges, but knew there was no way we could afford the price tags, so I looked around for alternatives. I found our fridge, the Electra E7316 for almost a third of the price of a similar SMEG. We were so pleased when we did our first big shop after we'd bought it - there was no more sqeezing everything in, or forgetting we had something because it was squashed at the back. The new fridge had masses of space.

I love the retro look of this fridge (which also comes in alternative colours), and the cream goes well in our kitchen. There really was only one place it would fit in our kitchen (see below), as it is quite big, and luckily it slotted in perfectly next to our washing machine.

The things on top of the fridge are:
  • a sweet wicker picnic hamper that David bought me for my birthday several years ago
  • our digital radio
  • a box in which David keeps the seeds he uses to plant vegetables in our garden
  • a coffee bean grinder that was a Christmas present from my uncle this year

You can see from this picture, several of the jobs that I need to do in the kitchen:
  • finish painting the walls
  • fix skirting board to the wall next to the fridge / paint down to the floor if skirting won't fit down the side of the fridge (it was a snug fit)
  • seal the window properly (you can't see it from this picture, but there is a small gap down the side of the kitchen window - behind the tall black vase)

More things to add to the never-ending list of things to do around the house!

My red Newgate clock

This clock was a gift from David a few years ago. He'd seen it in a shop in Monmouth, and bought it for me as a surprise. Unbeknown to him, I had seen it in a magazine and had been lusting after it for weeks! The clock used to sit on a cupboard in one of the alcoves in our living room, not because we needed a clock in there (as I mentioned here), but because I didn't really know where to put it, and I wanted to pick a space that showed it off properly. I had thought it would go really well in our kitchen, but there isn't much wall space in there (it's all taken up with cupboards and our fridge), so I tried to think of alternatives. 

Then it dawned on me - the area inbetween our kitchen and bathroom (a downstairs bathroom is common to the old terraced houses in our area) would be the perfect place to house the clock. We never close the door from the kitchen, so the wall that can be viewed through the kitchen door, could almost be treated as an extension of the wall in the kitchen (as seen below).

I think the clock looks great here - we have red accessories in our living room, so having the clock here, carries this theme through into the kitchen, and helps the downstairs of the house to flow well.

What are your favourite things in your house?

6 February 2011

Can't stop looking at . . .

Each week, I'll be sharing with you something that has caught my eye. It may be a picture, blog, product or website.

In recent years, my style has changed. A lot. I used to veer on the side of the traditional - at one point I could have ordered the Laura Ashley catalogue in its entirety. David was a fan of IKEA's Stockholm range when it first came out - I used to say, "Eugh! Too masculine!" Not anymore. Blogs like Making it Lovely and Door Sixteen, where Nicole and Anna are big fans of mid-century modern, have influenced my tastes by introducing me to their unfussy and streamlined, yet beautiful homes. A few years ago the name Ercol would have made me frown and shudder. Now, I find myself being drawn to anything that has tapered legs and comes in teak.

This week, I've been particularly impressed by the Colinton chair from Laura Ashley (I know, Laura Ashley - maybe they are changing too!).

I'd like this:

Image from here.

In this fabric please:

Ruben in cranberry from Laura Ashley.

If I was lucky enough to have this lovely chair in my house, it would probably replace our IKEA POANG chair, currently sitting here in our living room (sorry for the poor photo - it's late here, so I cropped an existing one):

Although I do like the POANG, and I think we chose a good colour and fabric combination, in an ideal world, I would like something a little less obviously IKEA.

3 February 2011

A Chapter full of art.

While my parents are visiting this weekend, we'll no doubt go to one of our favourite bars, which is near our house in Cardiff. The bar at Chapter Arts Centre was been described as, "the best place to drink in Wales" by the Observer Food Magazine. It has a great atmosphere, serves delicious food (a lot of it vegetarian and vegan), and is child friendly. We often go there when my parents visit, as my father is partial to their wide selection of wheat beers.

Chapter has recently undergone a £3.8 million refurbishment, and now has less of the feel of an school hall, and more of a contemporary, comfortable place where you can go to eat, drink and meet friends.

One of the things I like the most about the Centre, (apart from the black copycat Eames DSX chairs), is the fact that there is a wall running the length of the bar area, where artists can display their work.

The display at the moment, is by Gemma Correll, an illustrator who specialises in hand-drawn comics, characters, typography and pattern. To produce the huge piece of work for Chapter, Correll drew directly onto the wall, and, in her quirky style, produced illustrations in the form of a mural, depicting the history of the Arts Centre. I was lucky enough to be in Chapter while she was working on the piece, and I was in awe - she seemed so confident, drawing in red and black onto a huge white wall.

Below is a picture of the completed mural, followed by a shot of Correll working on the mural, and a close-up so you can see the detail.

Image from here.
Image from here.
Image from here.

2 February 2011

Gift wrapping, vintage style.

Today is my mum's birthday - Happy Birthday Mum! I'm really excited as my parents and my brother are coming to visit this weekend, and my mum and brother are arriving tomorrow!

I wrapped mum's present earlier (won't say what it is, in case she reads this!) and thought I'd share it with you.

I'm a big fan of wrapping gifts in brown paper. It's eco-friendly, MUCH cheaper than normal wrapping paper, and looks good. I began by wrapping the gift in said brown paper, and gathered the rest of my equipment together:

I used materials that I already had in the house - a piece of red card, and some red paper ribbon that was left over from Christmas two years ago. 

The small square picture that you can just about make out (larger image coming up), is a thumbnail image from last year's free Ideal Home calendar. On the back, there were smaller versions of the main images used in the calendar, and I thought it would be a sweet idea to cut them out and use them as gift tags. I'm going to give people the picture that corresponds with their birthday - my mum's birthday is February, so I used the image that was used for February in the calendar. Actually, it's just dawned on me that I bought her one of the heart shaped sconces in the picture for Christmas a few years ago, so it's even more suitable!

I made the calendar image into a gift tag by sticking it onto a piece of red card, and then punching a hole into it using a mini-hole punch in the shape of a heart (well, it is February!).

It was at this point, that I decided against the red paper ribbon - it was a bit too much, and took attention away from the red of the gift tag. So, I used plain old string (from our kitchen drawer) instead. I'm really pleased with the result - it is very simple, with a vintage feel.

I can't wait to give it to my mum when she gets here tomorrow!

What do you tend to do when you wrap gifts? Any tips? Are you a fan of brown paper and string?

1 February 2011

My home: an introduction.

In this mini-series, I'm going to share a selection of my favourite things from each room in our house. Hopefully these posts will provide you with a little insight into my style, and give you a peek into what our house is like.

Dining room

Our living room and dining room are really one room. They would originally have been two rooms, but have since been opened up by knocking through and installing a square archway. The result is a large room, but with two very separate areas. 

This week, I've chosen to show you a few of my most loved things from our dining room. They are:

Our large clock

The clock is on the wall that faces the living room, and is therefore visible from both rooms. The sheer size of this clock (50cm diameter) means that we can see it from the other end of the living room, and therefore don't need a clock in that room. We bought it a few years ago - it was a bargain from TK Maxx and I carried it all the way home from town to our house!

Torin's footprints

I made this print of Torin's feet for David for Fathers' Day 2009, when Torin was 5 weeks old. His feet were so tiny! I bought the frame and mount and then printed his feet onto plain card using a large ink pad like this, from Hobbycraft. I did several prints of his right foot on different pieces of card, printed his left foot onto each one, and then picked the best one. Looking at him now (he's 20 months), I can't believe he was ever that small!

Torin's highchair

There are so many high-tec and expensive highchairs to choose from when you have a small child. We managed to escape that hassle because we were given this highchair from my parents:

My grandfather (the same one who drew these) made it for me when I was a baby 28 years ago! It was also used for my brother and sister, plus numerous other visiting cousins, and still looks great today. Using nothing but a staple gun, I recovered the seat in the same fabric as I used for the table cloth - a much cheaper version of this by Cath Kidston from here.

He was a clever man, my grandfather.
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