In my 20s, I was obsessed with shoes and handbags. I spent my 30s thinking about things for my babies. Now, in my 40s, I'm all about my home (okay, okay, I still like shoes and handbags). So I was thrilled when I heard that West Elm was opening their second UK store in Kingston-upon-Thames. And I was even more thrilled to be invited to the grand opening on the 8th December.
Personally, I love mid-century modern. I like furniture to be comfortable and useful, but also interesting. West Elm is like my mecca. Even if you're not looking for big pieces, or if you have a small budget, you are able to find accessories here that add a unique feel. They have some amazing plates, mugs and Christmas decorations that are both vintage and modern and oh so quirky. And despite West Elm being a chain, it's not like you'' end up having the same armchair or mirror as half of your friends (I'm looking at you IKEA).
We have been busy at Californian Mum HQ (by HQ, I mean my house). We are currently in the middle of home renovations. Although we have been having some major work done, we are also getting new furniture and giving the house a general update. Last month, we gave the living room a little update in the form of a new sofa and moving some furniture around.
Our previous sofa was brown and boring. It was also not very comfortable, even though it was only three years old. And the top cushions were in a constant state of sag. Also, after some calculations, I realised that we had had four brown sofas over the past 14 years. Husband really likes brown sofas. But I decided that I needed some colour in my life.
Isn't it starting to feel like winter will never end? The Christmas decorations are gone and the house is feeling a bit blah. So I've been thinking about how I can cheer up the house, and I think some pastel kitchen accessories, glassware and tableware would help bring some spring into my house.
1. Pink Tablecloth - I love a tablecloth, and have one or two for each season. I had to throw a couple away recently because my children are animals and they wreck everything. So I prefer to buy inexpensive ones that are pretty but that I don't care too much about ruining. I love this blush pink, with the grey stripes on the edge keeping it from looking too girlie.
Does anyone else get the urge to re-vamp their bedrooms in the winter? I always see people on Instagram who have Christmas bedding and twinkly lights to transform their bedrooms into winter wonderlands. So I thought I would put together a little wishlist of items that would make my bedroom feel warm and wintry without looking like a child's room.
I've been blogging for three years now, and until a couple of weeks ago I didn't have a proper place to write. We have a desk in the guest room, but as we've only renovated our ground floor, I don't like to be upstairs for too long (rest-of-house renovations should be happening in the next few months!!). So I have been writing on my laptop - on the sofa or at the dining table, which often isn't that comfortable. And obviously it isn't great, ergonomically-speaking. So I was beyond excited when my new desk arrived from Kit Out My Office.
First, I shuffled the living room around (I do this a few times a year anyway, to Husband's dismay) to make room for the desk. Then I kindly left the box that the desk arrived in for Husband to find. I am such a considerate wife, I know. Anyway, Husband put the desk together quite easily and I had an office space in less than an hour.
Now that the days are longer and the weather is (slightly) warmer, I've been trying to make the house feel less wintery and more summery. I've gotten new bed sheets, a new tablecloth and new dining chairs. But now my thoughts have turned to the living room. And I'm thinking of ways to make it lighter and brighter. Obviously there are lots of little touches I can make, but I'm also daydreaming of some big changes I can make.
I am desperate for a new sofa. Although we bought a new one when we renovated the living room, almost two years ago, it isn't that comfortable anymore. Plus the legs have never been that stable. Ugh. But I have seen some lovely leather sofas. The top right grey sofa, from Fishpools, looks so soft. And don't think me crazy for having my eye on a white sofa, but that corner sofa is so pretty. Corner sofas are so good for cuddling. And surely there is only a small chance that my son will write on it in permanent marker. Right? The sofa does come in other colours for people who are more practical.
I'll probably have to be more realistic, and will have to skip a new leather sofa and get some lovely accessories instead. I love cushions, and these coral-red bird cushions are fab. Not only are they bright, but they would work well throughout the summer and into winter. Another item that would work well all year long, are these copper vases. These are absolutely gorgeous and I think two or three displayed together would add quite the wow factor.
A couple of weeks ago I was invited to the House of Fraser autumn/winter 2016 press day. It is such fun seeing what is going to be in the shops and online in July/August. House of Fraser have really made me want the spring/summer to end. First, let's start with the fashion. There were so many gorgeous knits - all in an array of colours: grey, navy, pink, yellow, camel and burgundy. There was suede and lace and fur and leather. Oh my! Autumn/winter is my favourite fashion season, and I am dying to wear some of these beautiful, and cosy, things.
After we had our living room renovated two years ago, we bought a new sofa to make the room feeling even new. We had previously had a leather sofa, but wanted something smaller and less bulky. But we still wanted plenty of room for sitting. We found the three-seater fabric sofa above and were thrilled. Once the sofa arrived, the living room felt 'complete'.
But lately I have been having serious feelings of dissatisfaction towards the living room. It just didn't feel right. So I decided to re-arrange our living room (I say 'we' but Husband did the heavy lifting while I managed). The main part of this re-organisation is the sofa. I liked that the sofa was the first thing to catch your eye upon entering the living room. But the room did not feel right. It did not feel cosy. I realised that the sofa was critical in making the living room feel homey.
We moved the sofa to the wall closest to the door (we didn't have the option of too many walls due to a window on one wall and the telly and its cables/wires on another). We have spread the furniture around the room. I have also reduced the amount of toys we keep in our two green baskets as they were overflowing. The baskets now fit on the bottom two shelves of the cabinet which helps make the room feel less cluttered. Part of the issue has been that our fabric sofa looks a bit tired. In hindsight I feel that leather sofas are so much better if you have young children (easy to clean and don't look so sad and rumpled quickly).
And I am so pleased with the way my living room now looks. The sofa makes so much more sense on the side wall. I no longer feel like all the seating is pointed at the television. The furniture is distributed more evenly around the room rather than being on just one wall. So how do you like my 'new' living room?
You know how it's almost Christmas, and I should be buying presents for all the people I care about? Well, I'm more than halfway done. But sometimes I get distracted. And then I get myself a present. Accidentally. Although, if you get something for the house, then it's a gift for the entire family. Technically.
Case in point, these cheetah bookends. I mean, come on! How gorgeous are these?! I am slowly (VERY SLOWLY, according to Husband) decorating our home, which we are in the process of renovating. And I thought these ceramic bookends were so gorgeous and stylish. But they look even more amazing in real life. I found them on StreetHub, which is is an online retailer that feature loads of independent shops. So instead of going to several shops looking for that unique item, you can look online.
The bookends are from Rigby & Mac in East Dulwich. I do not have the time, or inclination, to drive around London and scour eBay looking for bookends, so I'm pleased to have found this website. I visit charity shops and vintage fairs, but sometimes it is so frustrating spending so much time shopping without finding the item you want. Where do you shop for your home? Where do you source unique items from?
Isn't it true that pictures make a house more of a home? We bought our house last year and have spent so much time renovating the property (we're not even halfway finished). But we hardly have any artwork or pictures on our walls. Part of the problem is that I haven't found many pieces of artwork to fit into our midcentury modern theme. The other problem is that I don't have much time to really devote to finding the pieces. That, and I've been really lazy about having photos printed.
The kitchen/diner has been looking particularly pathetic as it did not have one single thing on the walls. But that has changed! I found an A3 poster print for the film Dr Strangelove. Husband loves movie posters, and I am compromising by agreeing to a few nice ones, framed of course. I found this black wood frame from eFrame. It looks simple, yet suits the picture perfectly.
I also had an old collage that I had made a few years ago. These photos are from when Moozles was 18 months old (she is now 6 1/2). Better late than never. *clears throat* But actually, when I had the collage made, I did not realise that it would need a specially made frame. And to be honest, I thought it would be really expensive to have the picture framed. But I found this lovely dark brown wooden frame, also from eFrame, for under £25. Now I need to sort out some current photos of Moozles, and make a collage of Dubz too.
I am quite pleased with how the kitchen/diner is looking. It feels more homely. Especially with the big basket of junk we keep on the sideboard. Please tell me that other people 'file' papers into a basket until it looks like a scary creature. Amazing that a framed print and a framed collage can improve the room so greatly. It's not the clean, midcentury modern look that I would love, but it's the look that works best for our young family. What do you think? How do you make your house feel like a home?
I was given the chance to pick out some frames for the purpose of this review. All opinions are entirely my own.