Spring Clean Part 5: Office

I have written previous posts about how to set up the perfect home office and how it can be created to ensure an inspiring atmosphere. I tend to find I stray from my desk to the dining table where I can see the TV and be distracted by various duties that I must do then and there, such as water the plants, put on a wash… the possibilities are endless.

office design, interiors, interior design, white, grey

When I finally discipline myself to sit at my desk I do actually get things done so much quicker, the only distraction I have is the view out of the window and our 12 pet pigeons, who tend to fight or mate, I’ve seen it enough times. I’ve broken up fights on my window sills and stopped pesky big chested males circling the poor lady pigeons. What can I say, I do my bit for the bird community.

office design, interiors, interior design, white, grey

My current office set up is a small extendable dining table which I found in Shabitat in Brighton many moons ago, I still love it dearly and it has hosted many a dinner party.
My seating is an old church chair (from the Brompton Oratory Church) with a sheepskin rug thrown over, super casually, it looks so darn good and is very comfortable indeed.
The light is a laser cut wooden giant bulb which can be either laid on it’s side or put upright. I’ve loved this lamp for many years as it gives out a waffled effect that is both calming and interesting.

office design, interiors, interior design, cork

This is where it gets a bit ca-ra-zy – I have loads of paints, canvases, books, stationery and many other bits and bobs that I am not willing to part with. I also have the boring paperwork that I have tp keep, but that’s alright as I have some nice white box files. All of the little bits are organised into little drawers and for once I actually now know where everything is. Ask me where the RSVP stamp is, I dare you.

office design, interiors, interior design, white, grey

The main advice I can give you here with your office is to make it work for how you feel most comfortable working. They say clear desk clear mind, but there is now evidence that a messy environment can aid creativity; this makes sense especially if you’re painting or brainstorming as you don’t want to feel restricted.

office design, interiors, interior design, white,

At the end of each day ensure that you shut down and tidy away where possible so that you feel physically and mentally free for the evening. In terms of spring cleaning this should be a daily exercise where you recycle old papers (scan them if you can just store an electronic copy) and clean out drawers of things you know you’ll never need again.

All images can be found on my Pinterest board Office Design

 

Spring Clean Part 4: Bathroom

I have been given the grace of the British weather by being able to pretend that it is still currently spring and therefore I can squeeze in the two final parts of my Spring clean series! In your face seasons. Though I do write this from the villa poolside of a much needed holiday in Menorca, so I actually have no idea what the weather is like but lets just act like it’s spring. (though since posting this I’ve realised we’re having a heat wave, better get cracking!)

Round bathroom mirror

So onto the bathroom we go and it is quite the disgrace; hoards of teeny bottles I’ve nabbed from various hotels knowing full well that my stock is up and that I can’t possibly squeeze anymore into my bulging cupboards and drawers.

Here’s where I get particularly ruthless and with a penchant for mini things I have to be tough. Gone are the 4 year old lip balms, I counted 10… all different varieties mind you for different lip softness levels, I presume?

Bottles

The one thing that I cannot bear to part with is the New York Waldorf Astoria hotel shower cap that I pinched from the bathroom whilst on a university trip all the way back in 2005, the trip that introduced me to a city more mad than London.

Silly as this may seem to hold onto such ridiculous items, the memories attached are too fun. Maybe I’ll box frame it one day, but lets just say I won’t be crying over a shower cap if we have a fire.

light

As always, I digress. Onto helping you sort out your bathrooms.

Beginning with the drawers is best, tip absolutely everything out and only put back in what you have used in the last month, possibly waxing strips (shudder) and such like. Throw away all free miniatures (if I did it then so can you) bar one set that you can take away with you. But be honest with yourself, where do you normally go that doesn’t have shower gel, shampoo etc.? Enjoy that stuff while you’re there, live in the moment and “hashtag” be present. Now slide those drawers back in with a satisfied smile.

Where possible only keep things out of cupboards and drawers that you absolutely need on a daily basis.

black and white

To organize the innards of my cupboard I bought some cute stripey baskets from Tiger (I couldn’t be happier that a store has opened in Angel!). Within these little treat boxes I have cotton wool pads, in different sizes, cotton buds, special creams, potions and lotions. It gives the illusion that you’re working in a spa as your very own beautician.

Once you’ve organised these bits you can move onto the overall scheme of your bathroom. The essential items that make a relaxing bathroom are a thick cosy bath mat, egyptian cotton towels, a few plants (they love the moisture) and some candles.

plants

I like to have something to look at whilst in the bath or sat somewhere else I won’t mention, so I choose pieces of art or photography that I can gaze at. I currently have a Bill Brandt nude which I’ve had up in various rooms since I visited the exhibition at the V&A in 2004. I also have a cheeky little framed card from Oliver Bonas behind the loo which hopefully gives some people a chuckle – mainly boys.

Cleaning products should stay under the kitchen sink, no-one needs to see that, plus you don’t want to ruin your beauty cupboard with a big bottle’o’Cif now do you?

interior design, interiors, blogs, home, bathrooms

If you would like more information on simplifying your home and getting the most out of your space, do get in touch via my about & services page.

All images can be found on my Pinterest board Bathrooms

Elle Decoration at CDW #beoriginal

During Clerkenwell Design Week, I squeezed myself into a room in the Farmiloe building to listen to a talk with an interesting panel, including Editor-in-Chief Michelle Ogundehin who chaired the panel, Patrizia Moroso of Italian brand Moroso, designer Nipa Doshi of duo Doshi Levien and Pip Prinsloo, Design Director of John Lewis. After the talk I wandered around the furniture, lighting and art. There were many different inspirational designs, some the same as last year (slightly disappointing) but quite a few new designers and pieces which was exciting. The images in this post are a selection of my favourites.

cdw, design, interior design, lighting, lights

Michelle began by speaking with Patrizia about originality in design. Patrizia spoke a great deal about her team; she said that she treats designers as artists and acts as a curator of their work, she also give them total freedom with their design ideas, without restrictions. This enables her team to do a good job whilst also encouraging them to work together collaboratively.

bulbs, interior design, lighting

Design Director, Pip spoke of their customers and the fact that John Lewis aim to appeal to a range of different styles and budgets. There may be customers who prefer a country style while others lean more towards industrial and these different styles need to be catered for.

art, cdw, interior design

Pip also spoke of how John Lewis’s stores are becoming more theatrical with moving images and home set ups which create context for the buyer. I have always found that when advertising a single product whether it be in a magazine or showroom, it must have context to be appreciated. If you try to imagine that object in your home it really helps to have an example of how it might fit into an overall scheme, that you can then relate back to your personal style.

lighting, interior design

Nipa went on to say that British society allows you to absorb outside influences and is influenced by world design, compared to possibly more restrictive areas of the world where design is only influenced by the surrounding culture.

lighting, bar, gold, interior design

A couple of key notes that I managed to jot down from Patrizia’s expertise are:
“It’s important that you read the past not make the past, there is no sense in making vintage, you must re-think instead”
“Design is something that comes from the designer’s life and culture. Make your thing, something that comes from the inside”

art
Something that I’ve been waiting to hear for a while now is that trends are irrelevant, which was mentioned. I do believe that design and habitat should be based on the individual, not trends. Original design is based on logical and creative thinking, an enthusiasm for life and living.

outdoor furniture

Overall from this collaborative talk I managed to appreciate the different angles from designer, seller, writer and from my point of view as an interior designer. Seeing how the process works from the initial light bulb moment to the presentation of the finished article on the shop floor, makes you realise the originality and creativity that is required at each point.

Spring Clean Part 3: Living Room

Living open plan with barely any storage shows up any of my non-tidy days quite drastically, so I have to be a little over the top when it comes to keeping everything in its right place, much to my man’s annoyance.

interior design, living room, design, home

When it came to spring cleaning this area, I found there wasn’t too much to do as the area is so open. However I was able to take a fresh look at the layout, so this blog is more about what you should have in your living room.

interior design, living room, design, home

If your living room has built in storage, make sure you start with what’s in or on these areas. If the storage is cupboards, take everything out and analyse what you actually need or want, for example if you now have Netflix, do you really need all those old DVD’s?
Next you need to address anything that is displayed on shelves, does it look nice? Do the objects add something to the room? See shelves as a way of displaying loved objects, photographs and art work – you want your living room to be the most relaxing space after your bedroom.

interior design, living room, design, home

Once you have cleared out all of your storage, you should now have absolutely no clutter in your living space, so now we can move onto the more bulky objects.

interior design, living room, design, home

Your sofa should be comfortable and clean, they are often used daily, so ensure you wash the covers once a month, if this isn’t possible then hoover the sofa and spritz with a nice scent.
Plump up all of the cushions whenever you can, it’s also a great way to relieve stress, give it all a good punch into shape. If you have scatter cushions consider how many you actually need, don’t overdo it, for example a corner sofa requires a maximum of four cushions. Add a snuggly throw folded over the back of one of the sofa seats.

interior design, living room, design, home

Depending on the size of your room either go for a nest of tables or a large, low coffee table.
Make your living room more conversational by adding in a couple of smaller arm chairs, you don’t want the focus of the room to be the TV.

interior design, living room, design, home

Your rug can really change both the room’s appearance and general comfort, make this as large as possible, by ensuring the rug stretches to fit under all furniture feet, it will actually make the room appear larger.

interior design, living room, design, home

Pick one large piece of art to put on the wall or a selection of favourites, things that you are happy to gaze at for hours.
Your finishing touches are large plants, optional fresh flowers and some coffee table books nicely displayed.

Overall your sitting room/living room/lounge is the place where you should relax after work, a place to read, reflect or have a series marathon. Make it work for what you want to do.

All images can be found on my Pinterest board Living Room

Spring Clean Part 2: Kitchen

Spring is starting to feel more like summer so I’m putting the pressure on; no-one has time to be stuck indoors dusting when the sun beckons outside.

This second part of my spring clean series focusses on the kitchen, which I have now completed.
My kitchen is made up of various units including much loved vinyl shelves which still have their original labels “”oldskool/acid house”, “west coast/san fran house”, “funk/soul”, “RnB/ hip hop”, hand-written by the old tenants who are lovely friends of ours and, you guessed it, DJs.
Even though they are tattered I would never get rid of them (I’m talking about the labels here), they make me smile every time I grab a bowl or plate and I think of them. Some days I feel as though I should cook in the dancing style of these genres depending on which shelf I pick, maybe I’ll try that this evening.

I love my crockery, most of it comes from donations or things people have been chucking out, so my collection is a proper mix. I have some beautiful vintage bowls, tea sets and plates which were all inherited or given to me by my grandparents.

My mum always lets me have a rummage through her garage and sometimes her cupboards to select a few key pieces I “need”. For example I had never baked bread before until my mum said I could have her large mason mixing bowl, I baked two loaves last weekend. Personally I need nice tools to encourage me to make the things I love, also the other bowls I had were too small..and plastic. I also have our huge old family spaghetti dish which served our family of 6 over many years, it meant we could all help ourselves and properly dig in. Memories are attached to things and these memories are so important, especially when it comes to food!

interior design, kitchen, knives, home

The best way to start with a kitchen clear out is to put aside the sets of things you use each day – favourites bowls, plates, cutlery, glasses and mugs. I tend to circulate the same things each day as they are my preferred vessels and tools.

Then take out and stack up everything else you have and put it all to one side, separate from your favourite items. Clean the shelves and drawers and use a hoover for the little bits in the corners.

kitchen, lights, interior design

Putting back particular items in new places will naturally cull what you have. Think about where you want things to go in terms of easy access. Cupboards and drawers should remain tidy, don’t be under the illusion that if you can’t see it it’s fine, do yourself a favour and sort it properly.

Think about your favourite cuisine, if you love cooking stir fry’s keep your wok on display and your chopsticks in a jar near the hob, this way you’ll have a constant inspirational reminder to cook what you love rather than ordering a takeaway.

kitchen interior design, jars, home

Look at how many electrical items you have on the work surface, do they all need to be there? How often do you use them? Put anything away if you don’t use it more than once a week. This will leave you with more workspace and a cleaner looking kitchen.

Check all the dates on food, I tend to hoard far too many sauces which block up my fridge, so I’ve managed to chuck out about 50% Don’t be tempted to buy more! If you’re lacking space for everything, invest in a simple chest of drawers to house your food, this doesn’t have to be in your kitchen, rather like a pantry store. Pretty things such as lentils can be displayed on shelves in little jars. Your kitchen doesn’t need to be a clinical space, add colour with art on the walls.

herbs, kitchen, interior design, design

Finally herbs are so important, they encourage you to cook fresh whilst also providing some greenery in your kitchen. An accidental brush of a basil leaf gives of a wonderful scent and all of a sudden you’ll have to cook spaghetti bolognese.

All images can be found on my Pinterest board Kitchen

Suffolk ramblings

I’ve been whisked away by my Mother to Suffolk, to our family home. Since I had my foot operation she’s been wanting to look after me, but the temptation to recover in the countryside has been annoyingly quashed by various hospital appointments.

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My Mum moved to Suffolk a few years ago when we sold the West London family home and has since made it feel exactly the same, if not better. She knocked down walls with a sledge hammer, built up garden borders and sewed every single curtain and bed spread in the house. She worked alongside one builder who became more like a colleague.

bedroom

She now offers it as a B&B from time to time and so has a trickle of new faces coming to stay with her, mainly musicians visiting the Benjamin Britain hall which is a 10 minute stroll or walkers rambling about in the gorgeously unique forests (2 mins walk across the road) and the Snape Maltings wetlands.

aldeburgh, beach, suffolk

Suffolk is such a wonderful place for so many different reasons, beaches, architecture, villages, forests, music and the best bit of all – food!

eggs

Whilst I’m here I’ll be recuperating in a different way to my recovery routine in London. The plan is to brush up on some skills including sewing and fixing all of the clothes I managed to rescue from the bulging bags in the store room, baking huge batches of various breads and flower arranging for the Easter ceremony at the local church. How quaint!

home

I’ll have ample time to read in the silence only the countryside gives, my chosen books are The Psychology of Colour and The Memory Palace. Not only will I be bringing back this knowledge to London, but also some raspberry and lavender plants for my roof terrace!
I can’t wait to start planting and creating a gorgeous terrace to enjoy the summer on.

Bruno, dog, beach

I hope you all have a lovely Easter break or just a four day weekend.

Spring Clean Part 1: Bedroom

My wonderful ruthless friend has done it, she’s made me part with clothes I’ve carried from home to home over the past decade, some were pre-year 2000, oh the shame.
I’ve attached some sentimental value to clothes, mainly t-shirts, one of which is a Cave In top – the first band I ever saw, another one brought from America which has an image of a sausage laying in a bun with a speech bubble saying “I love buns, I can’t help it!” I felt I was being rather good at chucking stuff out, until I came across these two blasts from the past, and then I had an idea, why not mount the t-shirts on card and frame them? That way I can always peek at my memories, a bit like old framed records. I’ll let you know how that goes in addition to my ever growing craft task list…

wardrobe, interior design

Unless you have a walk in wardrobe separate to your bedroom, the bulk component of your room will be your clothes, shoes and jewellery. Although I like the idea of having my clothes on display, if they were nice enough, I do prefer to have them hidden in slick wardrobes, it helps create sense of calm. (this is not my wardrobe, who has that much animal print?)

We recently bought two new wardrobes which are super simple and sleek. The current contents of my wardrobe are just fine, the stuff I went through with my friend was clogging up my store room.
In my wardrobe I have one area dedicated to full length items, for the ever so lanky yours truly, the other side hangs my special tops, skirts, blazers and jumpers. The top has a shelf where my jewellery, belts, scarves, nail varnishes and hair bits go, these are all in individual boxes.

In the four drawers I have:
1. socks and pants all individually rolled
2. bras stacked inside each other
3. vest tops and t-shirts rolled
4. jeans and leggings rolled

Notice the pattern? Individually rolling items means that you can see easily what’s what, rather than rummaging through piles, also you fit a lot more in. The same should apply for packing a holiday suitcase.
Some people might think I’m obsessive about tidying and cleaning, they’re right – reason being, once all your things are in order, that’s it, you don’t have to keep having huge clear outs and you just know where everything is. Magic.

bedroom, bed, interior design

Lets move on to the bed. It needs to be made every morning, I feel your eyes rolling but don’t get lazy about this, I’m guessing if you’re reading this you’re over 18. It takes seconds to do and means you can get ready without battling the covers and losing socks in between the creases. If you have space under the bed for storage, you should only store bed linen and towels. Don’t put any old tat under there as it can cause stress and bad nights sleep as your sub concious knows its there. Although its possible that only my nightmares consist of messy drawers and unclean worktops.

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Your bedside tables should only host a lamp, a couple of books and your alarm clock, nothing more (possibly a plant and candle too, but who has a coffee table by their bed?). If it has a drawer then make sure the contents are tidy and useful, things like old receipts and ticket stubs should be left in your office area/ in a file somewhere.

Walls should be painted a calm colour, as much as pumped up red might seem like a good idea at the time, it really isn’t. Red will stimulate your mind just before bed, I wont go into body stimulation but  I can assure you that red will have nothing to do with it.

healthy home, interiors, interior design

Most important of all is your mindset; a bedroom is a place to relax and wind down, when you enter that space, leave all your stresses behind you. It’s a place where you can snuggle up and breathe deeply.  I am guilty of using my phone as an alarm and I do end up surfing Instagram and Pinterest for at least an hour whilst lying in bed – not good!
So please join me in my wind-down quest and lets lock up our phones till morning and get the best beauty sleep we’ve ever had in our little nests.

All images can be found on my Pinterest boards  take a peek for oodles of inspiration.

Spring clean minimalism

As the clocks go forward this Sunday, spring might actually be showing it’s flowery little head. After a long 2014 summer I was quite happy to bring back the big jumpers and hibernate, but now I feel as though winter can seriously do one.

Bring me sunshine, the soft heat that makes your skin glow and the hazy evenings with the sound of clinking glasses… I digress, for there is work to be done before we can enjoy such revelry.

flowers, interior design, minimalism
Lying on my sofa for two weeks might seem like the ideal situation, it’s really not, its like the worst 10 day holiday ever, minus the sun lounger, golden sands and sparkly sea.

Instead I’ve been noticing the same areas of dust getting thicker by the day and my little trinkets taking on the forms of cruddy, unnecessary rubbish. I can hardly ask my beloved carer to start dusting things along with my shouting demands for food, extra pillows, closing and opening blinds, running my bath and tidying up everything I make a mess of with my crutches for hands. I know I said “think positive” in my last post and I meant it, but boy, two weeks on and I’m going a little insane.

I want to be minimal in my daily life, I sometimes feel the pressure of all the stuff I have stacked up in my store cupboard, what worries me more is that I couldn’t tell you what was in there apart from spare bed linen, suitcases and sun loungers. To me this says that I really don’t need all this other stuff, it clutters not only my home but my mind too.

stairs

So in an effort to start clearing out the clutter from my life, I’ve enrolled my best friend who has always been ruthless with home clear-outs and over the many years we’ve been best buds, I’ve gladly received her hand-me-downs, but as I’m not so good at having clear outs, I tend to hang on to things. So she’s coming over this weekend to say “nope”  and “seriously, come on” and help me give everything I don’t need or use to charity or if anything is worth something we’ll sell it on eBay.

In my bid for minimalism I’ll talk through the areas that require culling, so that you can “attack” one area per weekend if you’re limited on time. I’ll be addressing different areas of your home: bedroom, living room, office, kitchen, bathroom.
By the end of April, you should have a completely clear and minimalistic house ready for the summer.
Lets do this together and see how we get on each week. I would love to hear about your progress and am happy to answer any questions you might have.

All images can be found on my Pinterest pins

Home recovery

I never thought I’d be jealous of the pigeons outside my window. I always felt bad for them out in the cold and rain, but now I wish I could at least be feeling the air on my face for a few minutes. I’m stuck indoors recovering from a rather brutal foot operation which has left me in a fair bit of pain (sympathy please). This time last week I was away with the sedation fairies (a strong crew) in the operating theatre on Friday the 13th – lucky for some, lucky for me in some ways, lucky I’m not superstitious.

If you are able to plan for your “down-time” and its not an accident, then there are a few things you can do at home beforehand to make things a lot easier. These nuggets of knowledge will be intermingled with the usual images of perfectly tidy homes, unlike my own.

Organise your wardrobe and make sure you know where everything is, so that the person looking after you can find things, even better, just make a drawer of comfy clothes you know you’ll want to wear.

Fill your cupboards with good foods, also prepare and freeze meals where possible, such as nutritious soups. Buy a flask so that you can make yourself hot drinks and carry them in your pocket from the kitchen to your recovery place – genius.

wardrobe, organised

Practice your seating or lying position beforehand to ensure you have a good set up.
Remove all obstacles that you think could cause accidents or inhibit your movement around your home. Plug sockets (extension leads are best) need to be near you for your phone and laptop charging – you’ll be using them often.

Box drawers have been my saviour, the simple Ikea ones – means you can just pull out the small drawer and have it near you for whatever task you’re doing and it keeps everything tidy too.

drawers, organised, home, interiors

If you’re on crutches you may find it difficult to move things around with you, even getting the milk from the fridge to the counter is a (clumsy) balletic experience. I’ve resorted to stuffing my small laptop down my PJs and hoping for the best, pockets bulging with a flask of coffee in one side and a hand of bananas in the other. It’s quite amazing what you can hang from each limb and the amount of supplies you can stuff into your clothes.

I am quite the perfectionist and a bit of a control freak, I’ve had to let both of those aspects of my personality go, not without a fight of course. I must say it has been liberating to not be in control, I have to accept that I can’t do things I normally would. It can be frustrating but if you learn to laugh at the little annoyances, it makes your realise that not dusting and hoovering really isn’t so bad. *atishoo*

living room, interior design

Comfort is essential when you’re not feeling up to scratch, I told you all those feather filled cushions would come in handy! Honestly, your leg and foot sink into the duck down and provide support, naturally, in the way no synthetic ones could.
My duvet cover is made from jersey material  which comforts me and keeps me ever so snug, it smells divine as I had stored it under the bed in the linen drawer along with lavender pillows my Mum made years ago from the bushes of our London garden path. Little things like that have a way of taking you back and bringing you comfort. This is where being slightly materialistic has its benefits.

pillows, cushions, comfort

Distraction is a key element to my recovery, whether it is books, magazines or movies. Avoid daytime TV, it does nothing for your mind and can make you feel depressed.
A positive frame of mind is your friend during this time, an instant negative thought isn’t something you can escape easily, don’t let it smother you, pick yourself up immediately with a positive and you’ll find the physical pain subsides.

Candles and incense have been lovingly lit for me, creating the most zen experience (far out man), it reminds me of holidays and fulfilling yoga classes. Being relaxed and sometimes in a meditative state can aid recovery and create a positive outlook, focussing on the pain will only make it worse. Where possible, set yourself a mini project; this could be a small series of paintings or sketches, writing blog posts, starting a diary or reading on a subject you’ve always been fascinated by. This down time can be life changing in a very positive way. Check out my “mixed media” sketch….

art, deer, flowers

Recovery is at least 50% of the effort along with the actual surgery that is required for a positive outcome (as said by my surgeon), this must be done by you and aided by others where possible.

Various visits from my family, friends and a little dog have lifted my spirits no end, they completely distracted me from the pain and reminded me what I have and love in my life.When you have no outside stresses or influences you realise it really is the little things and the positive people around you who make life wonderful. (Yes, I’m on very strong painkillers)

All images can be found on my Pinterest boards

How to create the ultimate snug

Don’t feel like leaving the house on the weekend? That’s OK with me, it’s been rather miserable in the UK skies. All I feel like doing is creating a little den, watching movies and eating silly quantities of magnolia coloured delights. You might just want a small area to read or meditate, it could even be outside in the warmer months to come.

White

To begin your snug, ensure you have a decent “base” such as a sofa, large floor cushions or bean bags, or even a mix of all of them if you have a larger area and multiple snugllers. It needs to suit the shape of your room and the amount of people who wish to “cotch” on it, I personally love a corner sofa like this one as it creates more of a cosy feel, a cocoon if you will.

bohemian

Layer it up with throws, rugs or just bring your duvet in, you know you want to. Bundle up cushions, loads of em! You’ll need them to tuck into every possibly crevice, make your own little armchair within the sofa.

outside

Candles and incense will really make your living room feel alive and help to make a soft twinkly atmosphere.

You’ll need a coffee table or side table for all of your nibbles and drinks, you don’t want to be spilling things all over the place. Its good to just have a solid surface to put things in case you get so snug that you fall asleep. Happy snuggling!

You can find all of my images on my Pinterest board Snug

8 tips for viewing a rental property

Looking for a rental flat in London can be (is) an absolute nightmare; you have very little time to make a decision and often have to shout “I’ll take it” on the spot before the next viewer arrives, if you’re even lucky enough to actually get to the place before someone else snaps it up that morning.
You live a life of false hope each day and end up falling in love with online pictures, it’s like internet dating but with a flat. And lets admit, its a big commitment which is made in a rush, a shot gun wedding if you will, which doesn’t always end well. So I’m here to give you some relationship advice for those hasty decisions and the specifics of what to look out for in that brief time when you are hurried around the cosy (pokey) rooms.

1. Natural light

I hear you, this could be a tough one if you’re viewing at night, but the way around this is to make sure you lift the blinds, draw the curtains and take a look outside at the views, if you end up faced with a brick wall or “light well” it may send you a little crazy after a while.  During your checks make sure you feel the quality of the curtains and/or blinds, this could be a test of how well you sleep. Blackout blinds are the best for London, also if you don’t want your heating bills to rocket, thick curtains can be more effective at keeping you snuggly.

Light

2. Use your imagination

Can you imagine yourself here? Try to picture your morning routine, will you enjoy going up two flights of stairs to get to the bathroom? Stand in front of the stove in the kitchen, is there a nice view? can you move around the kitchen easily? Sit on every sofa and chair in the living room, does it feel relaxing? Questions, QUESTIONS!! (sorry)

Living

3. Window in bathroom

If a date were a home I would want them to have a window in their bathroom. When you wake up the morning, do you want natural light to make its way into your soul and give you a spring in your step? Or are you happy to go back into a sleepy state before dragging yourself out to work? Another thing – DAMP. If you don’t have a window your extractor fan will be in constant use. Ever met a discreet and quiet extractor fan before? Whilst you’re there test the shower pressure.

Bathroom

4. Dishwasher

Never underestimate the power of a dishwasher in the social equation of the homestead. If there isn’t one currently there, see if there is space and ask the landlord or estate agent whether they would fit one. There will be many other things to argue about such as who used the last loo roll/washing tablet or hasn’t cleaned the bathroom in over a month. Let the magic of the dishwasher take away your argument fuel.

Kitchen

5. Layouts

Could you furniture fit in different layouts? You shouldn’t have to copy the existing layout of the furniture, or if it’s empty can you imagine where things will go? Bring a tape measure if you’re unsure and a notebook with the measurements of your larger furniture. If you are allowed to, take photos.

Storage

6. Storage space

The last three flats I’ve lived in haven’t had a cutlery drawer, you’d think that would be something I would notice right? Nope. Ensure there is adequate space for your stuff, alternatively put it into local storage, though I would question the things you have that you no longer use. The best time for a clear out is when you’re moving home.

Hall

7. Acoustics

It’s a good idea to take a look at the walls and how well insulated they are in terms of sound. When you go into the various rooms, shut the doors behind you and notice the acoustics. Listen to the noises from outside and take note of the level of glazing on the windows. I once moved into a converted pub in Bethnal Green which looked perfect, but once we had moved in we noticed that as there was no boundary between the street and our bedroom window, we felt every thump of the joggers feet as they went on their early morning runs to Victoria Park. Not only did that disturb our sleep but also made us feel guilty about not going for a run!

Window

8. Proximity

Or location if you will. Being in close proximity to transport connections, cafes, bars and shops is a must. You might find a delightfully spacious flat with all the mod cons, only to find there’s actually nothing outside of the four walls. Make sure also that if you don’t have any outdoor space, or even a window ledge, that there is a park nearby.

Outdoors

 All images can be found on my Pinterest boards

Tips for your dinner party table settings

Table setting has become something of a lost art. Your table setting can be as exciting as the food and in some ways the table and the food can compliment one another. Should you wish to hold a dinner party, however, knowing how to set the table correctly can make a real difference to the overall impression.

Plan your courses first

Before you start arranging the table, you should know how many guests will be arriving, who is sitting where and what courses you will be serving. Remember that in addition to the two or three main courses you plan on serving, thought should also be given to pre-dinner nibbles and coffee and cheese after pudding.

Dining

Creating an ambience

You want to create an atmosphere that compliments the occasion, so make sure your dining area is clean and fresh-looking. Remove any clutter from shelves or other furniture in the room that might distract guests’ vision. Then spruce up your dining table with a clean, white tablecloth and some freshly cut flowers.

When setting the table, start with place mats and place plates on top. Choose your best china; whether you opt for a vintage or modern set is up to you.
Lighting is key (as always) choose candles or fairy lights for a soft glow that will make your guests look fabulous.

Dining candles

Cutlery and napkins

Note that you will be using different knives for different meals. Remember also to set a separate plate (and knife) for bread and butter. You may now find you have an overwhelming number of knives, forks and spoons for each place setting, and this can seem a little intimidating for the novice: don’t panic, however, as the rules are very simple and precise. Forks go to the left of the plate, knives and spoons to its right. Work from the outside inwards, placing the different items in the order in which they will be used.

Napkins should be made of fabric where possible, though you can get some fun disposable ones. Fold them neatly just once and place them to the left of the plate. Keep them in place with napkin rings, which are cheap to buy but look very sophisticated in a table setting.

Dining copper

Glassware

Glasses – whether for water or for wine – all belong at the top right of the plate. The water glass should be placed in front, followed by the wine glass. Add in champagne glasses, as they always bring an element of sophistication and fun to any arrangement, plus the excuse to pop a bottle of bubbly!

Dining rustic

Remember that setting a table for a dinner party takes time and planning – almost as much as the actual dinner! Follow the formal rules, however, and you should have no problem turning your dinner into a roaring success.