Monday, 29 September 2014

Mid century Scandinavian style furniture for less...

...from Tesco

Its not very often I do sponsored posts, but when Tesco e-mailed me their Autumn/Winter look book, I knew this was one I could get on board with! So although I've received a small compensation for writing this post, I can assure you that all opinions expressed here are truthful and entirely my own!

I have never been snobbish about buying furniture from supermarkets, I mean :If needs must!! But I'll be honest, only for purely functional things....stunning design is not something I've associated with supermarket furniture in the past. however the new Autumn/winter furniture and home ware collection from Tesco has completely changed my mind, and I am suitably impressed with their ranges of styles.

 I am impressed by the way they are bang on trend with their new collection, and in particular they have really managed to capture that Scandinavian look, with a nod to mid century design that I just love!!

If you, like me, love that Scandinavian interior design style with that retro feel, here's my picks from the Tesco Autumn/winter range that can help you achieve that look for less:

From top left:
The arc desklamp with it's modern lines, and just the right nod to MCD.
I love the Julianne range of sofas and chairs for a more nostalgic retro feel. 
This grey space dyed throw would be perfect for cosying up in this winter.
The modern Miami occasional table has a definite Scandinavian feel to it...
.... and the Cologne glass pendant shade encapsulates the ongoing copper trend perfectly!
The Stockholm range, comprising everything from this beautiful book case, via a beautiful coffee table to the functional sideboard in a stunning retro design in solid American white oak..... it is right on the money with the cut away handle detail!
 The Capri range of sofas and chairs, all handmade in the UK, with the perfect retro feel would make a great basis for furnishing any mid-century style living room.
Throw on a feather print cushion to tap into the current "feather" micro trend ,
and accessorize with some of the lush grey sheepskins (below), and you have a very cool and sophisticated Scandinavian style look for your living room this autumn

Displaying Genuine sheepskin grey.jpg
See what I mean?...Tesco's got style this Autumn!!
It's all down to their new philosophy of having a mid-range line of furniture and home accessories that tap into the current trends and at the same time focuses on quality!
As an avid bargain hunter, forever on a budget, this is great news to me:
it means I can actually afford to get the style I want, and be up to date with interior trends for less!

Friday, 26 September 2014

Fireplace makeover

...with a Scandinavian twist!

OK! The fireplace!
What can I say, I know it's a matter of tastes, but I've always hated the fireplace in our living room!
It's one of the reasons why you will not find many photo's of this room here on the blog!!
I know a lot of my friends like it, but to me it just screams quasi-Victorian from the 80's!
The horribly dated tiles and the awful fake wood effect laminate mantle makes me shiver with dread!! And don't get me started on the electrical fireplace itself!!

So imagine my joy when earlier this year when , after removing the old back-boiler behind it, we decided to get a wood burner installed!! I was practically dancing with joy!!
But oh had other plans for us, and we had to abandon the plans one week before the installation of the wood burner was due to start!! (insert uber-sad emoticon here!!)
So it seemed I was stuck with the monstrosity!!

But I was determined to make the best of the situation, and decided to give the old fireplace a makeover!! I could't do a lot about the electrical fire place itself, but I could definitely work with the surround!!

So I painted the mantle (See my post here on how to paint Laminate "wood")... and the tiles ...and I made my own Norwegian style tile stencil!

So with my mantle painted and drying outside, I set to work on:


When painting tiles, there are two important things to remember:
#1: Preparation is key
#2: Use the right paint for the job

So first I lightly key'd up the surface of the tiles with sandpaper...I used 20 grit and some serious elbow grease! It didn't seem to do much, but I stuck with it!
Then as an extra precaution, I also painted on some of my LIQUID SANDPAPER.... 

I left it on whilst I had a coffee break (breaks are almost as important as my opinion!)
Then wiped it off with an old tea-towel.
This left the surface of the tiles slightly rough to the touch...the perfect base for painting!!

So with the tiles prepped for painting, I set about masking off the surrounding area with paper:

Because I decided to use tile spray-paint, as opposed to usual tile paint...Mainly because I didn't want any brush marks on my tiles!

When using spray paint in your home there are a few things you MUST do:
Close/seal all doors leading to the rest of the house, and remove all soft furnishings to prevent the smell of the spray paint from setting in textiles and saturating your home.
Open all windows in the room you will be spray painting in...good ventilation is a MUST!
And lastly, but most importantly:  wear a mask!

When spray painting, several lighter layers is best...Leave about 15-20 minutes between each coat.
Do not underestimate the amount of paint-particles flying through the air (known as over-spray), it will get everywhere! 
TOP TIP: Start spraying the top of whatever you are spray-painting first and lay down some paper/a dust sheet on the ground: This will prevent the over-spray from settling below the area you are painting(creating rough areas of spray paint)! Then, when you have finished spray-painting the top areas, remove the dustsheet and spray the bottom areas...(In my case, I sprayed the tiles on the wall before moving on to the tiles on the floor)

When I was satisfied with the coverage of the spray paint, I left the room (and went to work on my stencils)..., all windows wide open, for 3-4 hours, letting the paint fully cure and the fumes fully evaporate!!

The nest day, I printed out the pattern I designed, and set to work on making my stencil..
My Norwegian Star pattern is based on traditional Norwegian knitting patterns.

You can download my "norwegian star" stencil pattern here.

First I "laminated" my printed pattern by putting sticky back plastic on both sides of the paper.
(I did want to print it out on acetate paper, to save doing this, but could not get hold of any anywhere)
I did this twice with each pattern.

Then, using a scalpel I carefully cut out alternate "leaves" of the pattern...On my second copy, I cut out the opposite set of "leaves".
Then I trimmed the pattern down, leaving a small edge all around..

I used Rust-Oleum painters touch gloss pots, mixed up the colors I wanted:
I chose a grey and aqua combination.

Then, taping the stencil in place, I used a stencil sponge to dab on the colour on my tiles...
The other "opposite" stencil is for the grey (Wait until your first color has dried before going over with color number 2)

When I had stenciled all my tiles, I used a fine pointed paintbrush to touch up any areas where the stencil pattern did not meet up properly, or where the paint had bled a little...

Finally I sealed it all off with a coat of clear lacquer..

I am so pleased with how it turned out...

It may not be the wood burner of my dreams, but at least it's now to my taste...

...and actually goes with my interior!!

And it didn't cost me more that £30 in spray paint etc...
And  I love it!!

What do you think??

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Buy art fair, manchester

This week you can find my concrete bowls at the buy art fair in Manchester.
My stockists Art at 88 are taking a selection of my bowls up to Manchester for this 3 days arts fair, so if you are in the area, do check it out!

"Now in it’s 7th year Buy Art Fair, with The Manchester Contemporary, will be held in their new home, the iconic Old Granada Studios, Manchester 26-28 September. Eighty galleries will be exhibiting the work of over 500 artists and with prices from £50 - £5,000+ there is a piece of original, affordable art for everyone at this year’s unmissable Buy Art Fair.
The Manchester contemporary brings together exhibitors of critically engaged contemporary art for you to enjoy. There will be work for both the seasoned collector and the intrepid first-timer.
Launched back in 2008, Buy Art Fair is the place to buy original art in the North for 8,000 people every year. With the support of Manchester City Council, Arts Council England, Own Art, The Contemporary Art Society and a wide range of cultural partners Buy Art Fair and it’s sister event The Manchester Contemporary have grown to be the largest contemporary art fair outside London.
Over the three days, there are guided tours of The Manchester Contemporary, the chance to meet artists and see them painting live, music and a fantastic café bar so you can relax with and a drink or a bite to eat and enjoy a great day out.
With only original art work and limited editions for sale, 80 galleries representing 500 artists and prices from £50-£5000+ there really is something for everyone's budget to take home and enjoy."*
*extract from the buy art fair website

There are 10 000 free tickets available, so go on: have an inspiring day out, there will be so much to see...and treat yourself to some art for your home!
Get your free tickets here


Monday, 22 September 2014

Feather print artwork...

"Learning to fly"...

One of the micro trends I've become aware of recently, is feathers! Feather art and print, on cushions and used in wall-hangings, as well as in fashion....I love the look of feathers!

At first I played around with some images I shot of some feathers me and Little miss Moo picked up one day when we went for a little walk in the woods...using apps on my phone:

Made using sketch maker app

Made using 360sketch app

But when one of my favorite, arty bloggers. Alisa Burke posted this tutorial about different ways to get creative with feathers, I knew I had to give it a go!

In particular I wanted to try to print with feathers!
So today I want to share this little arty tutorial I made of my attempt to do some gelatin printing using feathers!

You'll need:
A baking tray (or similar) to fit A4 paper
....and of course: Feathers!

Mix up enough gelatin and water to fill up your baking tray.
Use more gelatin in the mix than instructed for an extra hard jelly.
Leave to set...

When it has set properly get your paints and feathers and paper ready!
Apply paint directly onto the jelly...mix up the colours and patterns of your paint as you'd like!

Gently place the feathers on top of the painter jelly surface...

Place a piece of paper on top, and use the brier to roller gently over the surface!
(If you haven't got a brier, using your hands will work as well)

Peel the paper away to reveal your feather pattern...repeat for a different expression, changing the colors and patterns as you please...Have fun!!

You could even "pull" a print of the paint left behind where the feathers were...

Even the feathers themselves look lovely, all covered in paint!!

When you've had fun pulling feather prints , and your sides are covered in pieces of paper...enjoy going through them, choose one or two and whack a frame on:
Voila: Feather art!!

I liked how this mint/gold/pink version came out....but if I change my mind I'll have like, ahem....20 more to choose from!!

And I had some great fun in the process! Even Little Miss Moo got in on the action!!

I have another arty project coming up soon, as my living room makeover is now starting to take shape, I am turning my attention to the details: Art, lighting and furniture!!
It's going to be quite a transformation!!

Keep popping by to see more creative projects for your interiors!


Please spare a minute to give me your vote for best DIY blog in the Amara interior blog awards...just click on the image below!! Thank you! xxx
amara interior blog awards

Thursday, 18 September 2014


London design festival

So yesterday I went to the 100% design exhibition in Earls court, London....
Wow...sensory overload!!
So much eye design candy, it's hard to know where to start!!
I came back with 2 shopping bags full of leaflets and brochures's going to take some time going through that lot!! So much inspiration!!
So for today, I am just sharing a few pics I snapped with my phone, and mentioning a few of the designers and trends that's stuck in my mind!!

Top left: origami concrete paperweights from desinere, recycled glass citrus press and egg cartons in the super design market, and modular concrete shelving, table with built in vessels for plants and concrete/wood mix pendant lights from bentu.
There was no way that I could see it all, so I concentrated on the Interiors and emerging brands sections....and boy was there some interesting stuff:
There is a definite focus on exploring new materials and processes, and also on recycling and the sustainability of new product and design..
There was quite a lot of designs in concrete, often mixed with other materials such as wood...

From top Left: Image from the emerging brands section, "cumulus" cloud light by daisuke mingle , ceramic light pendants from Estonian design house, Cork finish ,and bench by Lewis Nelson

Colored glass ware and mixed metals seems to be a big trend, as well as decorative porcelain ,marble and cork.There was fun designs exploring materials in a new way, such as the lightening clouds above.
 Pale wood was an obvious trend and furniture looked modern, but with a hint at mid-century design...

From top left: Mexican product design by shift, "Kai" Powder coated steel chair by Daniel Lau, wooden pendant lights by hope&hammer, modular storage by MoModul
Rustic wood was also having a moment, but in the form of wood-chip and plywood as well as oak and beech. There was a lot of modular furniture, especially when it came to storage, and powder coated metal in geometric forms also seems to be a big trend in furniture

Table lamp and turned oak table and planter in one by hope and hammer, patterned wall paper by Camilla Boler and baskets and throws by The
It seemed to be all about textures and materials, and the general color palette was muted pastels and grey's...Geometric prints and kaleidoscope graphics seemed to dominate textiles, soft furnishings and wall paper (along with photographic textures like weathered wood and bricks.).

Here's a few other furniture/design ranges that impressed me:
Loic bard

Emko design

Furniture by Lozi

Pinch design
There really was so much loveliness to look at....much too much for one post!
So no doubt I'll be blogging about some of my new-found design discoveries in the near future...
I also went to Heals in the evening yesterday for their new design range launch, and quite frankly: I am currently experiencing an overload of before I share anymore, I need to divulge all the visual information from yesterday...LOL!!
I have a 101 ideas floating around in my head right now, and I am getting very excited about some possible future projects!!

Stay tuned!;postID=8284451819364864907;onPublishedMenu=posts;onClosedMenu=posts;postNum=18;src=link