Cosify Your Living Room

It has been a long old winter and I’m really hopeful that the recently arrived longer days and clement weather are a sign that Spring is now here to stay…..

I was recently struck down with a bout of laryngitis and general winter illness and  spent a few days confined to the sofa and wondered what makes a living room cosy – or not – as the case may be.

Some conclusions:

1.  Lighting

Lighting has got to be the most important part of cosify-ing your living room.  Having just an overhead light on has to be one of the most prison-cell things you can do to your living room.  Lamps are ESSENTIAL.  You need some for task lighting but mostly you will need them to create ambience.  A harsh overhead light just shrieks ‘UNCOMFORTABLE’ to me whereas lamps and candles make you want to settle down and stay a while.  The minute it starts to get dark, pull the curtains and get those lamps on.

2.  Hide the Ugly Things

I do not want to see DVDs and children’s toys etc lying around the place.  Invest in some kind of storage – a unit or a big old box – where you can stash all the unattractive gubbins that accumulate in the living room.

3.  Display the pretty things

Obviously hiding everything away will make for a very sterile and personality free environment.  So keep the pretty things you love on display.  A vase of flowers, a collection of your treasures, a book with a cover you adore.  To keep things orderly, use a pretty tray to display your pieces.  You can have clutter but keep it contained.

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4.  Blankets

Nothing is more cosy than lying on the sofa or a favourite armchair and pulling a blanket around you.  Keep a couple of blankets folded over a chair or sofa so you don’t have to hoof all the way upstairs when the notion strikes you.

5. A Rug

Even if you have carpet, a rug just gives a room that extra cosy factor. Go as big as you can afford.  I always think a rug is best when it goes under the furniture.  I don’t lead by example here… I have a rug that is definitely a bit skimpy but I’m saving the pennies for a bigger one… a gorgeous dhurrie from the Rug Company has caught my eye.

http://www.therugcompany.com/gb/collection/studio-collection-rugs-flatweaves/jali-orange-7.html

6.  Have regular culls

If its not beautiful or useful throw it out.  (I’m definitely paraphrasing someone here… not sure who but they talked a whole lot of sense).

 

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Bedside Light Love

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I had my eye on this Trentanove light for a while.  I had spied it in Belfast’s ReFound.  I know that it would be amazing to have one either side of my bed, but what to hang them from??

Browsing the West Elm website, I discovered that they deliver to the UK and that there is currently 50% off postage.

This ‘Angler Sconce Hook’ appeared before me and it was perfect.  Look how it lends it self to having the coloured cord of the Trentanove light wrapped around it?

I got them ordered up and they arrived here as quickly as if I’d ordered from the UK.

I now have one adorning each side of my bed and every evening fall in love with them a little more.

 

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Pretty Jars

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I love my Diptyque candles.  These are two of my favourites (in case any of you are considering buying me a gift).

But I hate throwing out these pretty jars so I decided to clean them out and reuse them and here’s how:

Fill the jar with boiling water.

Leave it for a while to let the wax melt (this can be overnight for pure handiness but half an hour should be long enough).

Remove the wax which will have either floated to the top of the jar or be soft enough for you to lift out with a knife.

Clean out the remaining residue with a paper towel.  Any stubborn bits can be removed with a bit of washing up liquid and gentle scrub.

Et voila!

Now you have pretty jars.  Use them to store pens on your desk or pop in a tea light and use as a votive.

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The Great Escape

I was keen to take Lalit away for a few days before he starts school next week.  I work and he’s in full time childcare and I had this idea that we just needed a few days away from all of that – to have some time for us both to be on holiday.  No work, no nursery, no laundry, no cooking, tidying, haring around etc etc etc.  I was quite anxious however.  Would it be lonely with just the two of us?  Being a single parent family, we’ve usually tagged along with other friends’ and family’s plans as for some reason I have been almost afraid about going away as a twosome….

I decided to bite the bullet and booked four nights in a hotel in Galway – somewhere neither of us had been before.  It was a city that we could discover together but not a million miles from home .. just in case…..

Well – it turned out to be one of the most special times we’ve shared together.  I don’t think I’ve heard him laugh as much – ever!  Galway was a brilliant destination and here are a few of the highlights of our stay

Brigit’s Garden

“A walk through the gardens is a journey through the cycle of the year.  Each garden represents one of the Celtic Festivals Samhain, Imbolc, Bealtine and Lughnasa, that marked the beginning of each season.  The gardens reflect the landscape of the West of Ireland and are managed to encourage biodiversity”.

We arrived half an hour before closing time and the admission fee was waived and we were told to take our time and to jump over the gate when we were finished if the staff had gone.  This typified the vibe of the whole place.  I cannot describe how beautiful this place is and what an incredibly peaceful atmosphere surrounds the gardens.

Aswell as the gardens, meadows and woodland abound and even a small loch, nature trail and huge sundial which tells the date as well as the time.

I loved this tree.  Visitors were encouraged to pin their wishes to it and there were a few really touching wishes that made me want to know so much more about the authors…

My happy boy.

Galway Atlantaquaria

After a refreshing walk along the promenade in Salthill, we came to the Galway Atlantaquaria – Ireland’s largest aquarium.  I’ve not been to an Aquarium before so maybe this is par for the course but WE COULD TOUCH THE FISH!  Not all of them but a good few of them!  I’m clearly not the target deomographic but I was fairly excited by this.  Did you know that Rays feel like sandpaper and have little eyes and a mouth on their underside?? I loved this never mind the four year old… Again the staff were super friendly and helpful and let us feed the fish and enthusiastically answered all our questions.  We loved it.

Tribes Alive

We had planned to visit the museum but being a Monday it was closed.  We settled for delicious cakes, coffee and lemonade in the cafe next door – worth a visit.  As we were leaving we happened upon some people dressed in costumes.  I remarked to them that it looked like they were up to something exciting and was informed that they were just about to start a “Unique theatrical walking tour of Galway’s Latin Quarter”.  It was a glorious sunny afternoon and we were fully embracing being tourists so I handed over my 10 euro (under 14s were free) and we joined the gang.  We were given a stick (to bang if we saw a rabid dog and shout something I can’t remember in Irish!) and told which clan we belonged to (I was Martin and Lalit was Blake) and went on a journey back in time through medieval Galway.  The actors played various characters from Galway’s past and made us chortle and laugh out loud as they educated us about the history of the City.  They guided us around the streets and used the city as their living, breathing stage as they appeared from upstairs windows, inside pubs and generally popped up when we least expected it.  We loved it.

 

In all, I was impressed by the friendliness of the Galway people and what a truly vibrant city it is.  There is literally music on every corner.  On our final night after a delicious meal and some chilli & chocolate ice-cream made in County Clare, Lalit suggested we go for a walk through the city.  As he ran through the streets, twirling around crying out, “I love it, I love it, I love it!” over and over again, I felt so happy.  Why had I been scared for the two of us to go away on our own?  We were truly having a wonderful time.  This trip was special for both of us and for that I will always have a soft spot for the city of Galway where we were made to feel so welcome.

 

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The Doghouse

A few weekends ago I took a trip to Comber, Co.Down to visit The Doghouse Gallery.  The Doghouse gallery was established in 2001 by Pamela Wilson .  As well as housing Pamela’s own jewellery, Pamela has curated a selection of crafts and fine art both from Ireland and abroad.

I bought this little jug by Alison Hanvey.  Its only about 8.5cm tall and completely adorable. How nice would it be to serve a friend coffee with some warm frothy milk from this jug?        Indulge me whilst I imagine a calm and organised life where I actually do that.

This little ‘pinch pot’ is by Kerry based ceramist Sinead Lough.  www.sineadloughceramics.com

I plan to put sea salt in this and have it by the hob.  In my new house.  Where I actually might have room to do that.

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Tretchikoff & more

I am currently renovating my house and so am on super high alert for furniture and all things wonderful for my home.  The house was built in 1960 and with the exception of a bizarre kitchen extension, nothing much had changed since the day it was built.  So I have everything to do and I am VERY excited.

I have become completely drawn to mid-century pieces – the house is making me! And I’ve picked up a few treasures over the summer. But I do not want to make the house into a complete pastiche of that era and so am trying to mix it all up a bit, aiming for a modern retro feel.

Trechikoff print.  From Jacob Street, Lisburn Road, Belfast. My birthday present to myself.

Ercol sofa from Drummond Reid, Sunnyside Street, Belfast.  Amazing sofa.  The fabric is a beautiful teal colour and whilst it looks quite lovely in this photo, in reality its an odd velour and not really my cup of tea.  This will be reupholstered so watch this space….

 

Charnwood C4

In LOVE with this little wood burning stove in Almond.

And then I found this little fireside stool which is over 100 years old and would be perfect beside it.  Again from Drummond Reid.  Drummond Reid is based in an old gospel hall and is an absolute treasure trove.  I cannot drive past it without having a nosey ‘just in case’ I would miss something incredible….

 

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225 Coopers Mill

My new little show home.

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Gourmet Burger Kitchen – Barge Pole

We were in town being all organised and buying school shoes for the wee man.  Feeling all chuffed with ourselves because we had the job done and dusted in record time and no falling out about shoes with lights on the soles etc, we decided to have our tea out.  Lalit wanted a burger.   We checked out the menu on the Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Victoria Square and I immediately homed in on the fries with rosemary and sea salt.  You know when you focus on one item on a menu the rest sort of goes blurry?  That.  I noticed there’s an offer of 20% off on a Wednesday night.  This being Wednesday we were onto a good thing. So, in we go and get ordering.

Lalit ordered the burger from the kids menu and I chose the organic beef on a brioche with the aforementioned rosemary chips.

We had a bit of chit chat and our food soon arrived.  Well, to say the chips were a disappointment would be a massive understatement.  I would hesitate a guess that they had once been in the same room as a rosemary plant but that was as close as they’d ever been.  The lorry carrying the potatoes to make them had possibly driven past Belfast Lough as again that is as close to sea salt as they had been.  And my brioche was burnt.

Then disaster struck.  Lalit needed the toilet.  We had no other adult with us.  And there is no toilet in the restaurant.  You actually have to leave the restaurant and go to the main toilets in Victoria Square.  Fair enough, they are beside the Gourmet Burger Kitchen but that is not close enough when you have shopping bags, are on your own with a four year old and have not finished your meal.  So, with Lalit begging to go to the loo, I rushed to pay the bill.  The waitress had not deducted the 20% off so I asked her to.  When she gave me the new bill I told her she must have made a mistake.  She said that there was no mistake but that children’s meals are excluded from the offer.  I said that I hadn’t seen that mentioned anywhere and was told that it says that on the Victoria Square website.  How convenient……. and with the pressures of a four year old getting into a right fix beside me I had no opportunity to debate this with her and had to leave.  I will NEVER be back.  So THERE.

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…err hi there!

Whoops.  So I’ve not got off to a great start here.  This wasn’t helped by heading on my hols to Donegal to a house that was extremely beautiful but had NO internet.  Anyhoo… continuing with #interiorsphotomonth on Instagram…

8 July, Pattern

My parents porch.

9 July, Light

Light by the view from the house in Donegal.  Bliss.

10 July, Books

11 July, Collection

A table set for a wonderful collection of family for my brother’s homemade pizzas.

12 July, Old

OK – its not ancient but it is older than me.

13 July, Bright

My favourite saucepan.

14 July, Vase

Flowers in the apartment of my gorgeous friends James and Chris.

15 July, Inspiration

I have a subscription to Living Etc.  I get excited when it arrives every month.

16 July, Bedside

Not mine, a little show house I’ve been working on.

17 July, Mess

Speaks for itself

18 July, Favourite

A gift from the gorgeous James and Chris.  I have MANY teapots but this is a firm favourite.

19 July, Art

A card from my son.

20 July, Floral

A fine cup to drink a fine cup of tea from.

21 July, Magazines

A subscription to Vogue from my little sister Annie

22 July, Living

My living room.  For the time being.

23 July, Desk

Some gubbins on my desk.

24 July, Designer

Supposed to be the espresso maker of espresso makers.

25 July, New Purchase

LOVE this chair.  Bought for the little one.  Only £25 from Drummond Reid Antiques.

26 July, Something I hate

Feel a bit mean about this one.  Lalit loves it but I feel its teaching him American English….

 

 

 

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#interiorsphotomonth Bling & Candle

So, yesterday was the 6th and the theme was ‘Bling’ and today is the 7th and we’re on ‘Candle’.

Due to going out to celebrate my gorgeous friends Helly’s birthday for cocktails at the Fitzwilliam and then at Home in Belfast, the 6th sort of turned into the 7th wthout me noticing – such was the fun we were having!

So today I present both themes!

Bling

Where’s bling you say?  Well this was a tricky one.  I simply appear to have no bling in my house.  But, then show home to the rescue again, I remembered a sparkly cushion I’m using – you can see it better in the top photo.  The other cushion beside it then has the sparkly fabric used as piping.  This is a very neutral room so I’ve tried to add some interest by using interesting fabrics and textures to save it from becoming too bland.  Please don’t judge me for the wrinkly bed linen – I’m still due a trip with my big steam iron!

Candle

The candle takes me to the night out for Helen’s birthday.  The staff at Home could not have been any better at all.  Our waitress, Louise, simply went above and beyond to make our night fantastic.  As we finished after, after, after dinner drinks she discovered it was a birthday celebration (could that be connected to our harmonising of ‘Happy Birthday?’) and brought this beautiful cupcake out with a single candle lighting up the glittery frosting.

 

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