I am quite drawn to pink this year, probably because it has made a bit of a comeback in the world of interiors. It is surprising how good it looks; soft, sophisticated and still giving a space a lot of personality. I also came across this amazing stair runner made out of (pink!) kilim rugs. Kilims are an all time – timeless – favourite of mine (and also of many Instagram followers it seems, as my post of this picture had a record amount of likes!), so I will definitely keep the idea in mind if I ever get asked to revamp a hallway/stairway. I also included some nice chairs. Because…legs…and shape. Yum! What have you been inspired by this week?
It always takes me a little while to get into the Christmas spirit, and I still have one leg in summer really, but hey, if you want that garland finished by December, you got to get your act in gear. Today’s post features some fabulous easy-peasy projects for making Christmas decorations with pom poms! Yes, pom poms, those fluffy colourful woollen balls that you probably made as a child. A fun alternative to your usual decorations. They are super versatile and you can use them as tree baubles (the kids would love them!), on wreaths and even as gift toppers. If you have children, get them involved as it makes a great rainy Sunday afternoon craft project too.
First things first, let’s learn how to make a pom pom – in case you have forgotten. You can use cardboard, a fork or even your fingers, so I am sharing these tutorials with you today.
How to make pom poms
This is the way I learnt it as a kid. The bigger the cardboard circles you cut out, the bigger the pom pom.
Make pom poms using a fork
This is a genius way of making pom poms. No need to cut out cardboard, just use a fork! Watch the video to see how it’s done.
Make a pom pom tree garland
A nice alternative to your plasticky glitter garlands; one made out of wool. This one used paper straws to separate the pom poms, but you can of course just tie the pom poms on a pretty ribbon or a string too.
Make a pom pom tassel
This could either be a tree decoration or something to hang on a wardrobe key or a door knob. Or even your hand bag. Very pretty and so easy to make.
Looking to jazz up your wrapping paper? Pom Poms make everything look Pinterest-worthy. Go and make some small ones just for this purpose.
Christmas isn’t Christmas without a beautiful homemade wreath. Here are three very different style pom pom wreaths, so take your pick! I love them all.
Make a Giant Hula Hoop PomPom Wreath
This is a gorgeous one. I love the purples and browns on it and the simple wooden hoop with some green as a base layer.
Make a colourful wreath with baubles, bells and pom poms
What a gorgeous mix of shiny baubles and colourful woollen pom poms. This would brighten up any door at Christmas. Just tie them individually to a styrofoam or wire wreath with string. And don’t be afraid to overdo it, the more things the merrier!
Make a snowball wreath
I love this one. Just using white or off-white wool, making lots of fluffy pom poms and securing them onto a wreath for a wintery effect. Nice. It makes you want to stroke it, so soft.
Mental health is a hot topic just now. There’s so much out there about happiness, mindfulness, finding real purpose and joy in life. Endless rows of books, magazines, articles and blog posts (hey, here’s another one!). Today I am stepping away from the interiors and putting the spotlight on my tagline soulful living. I hope you enjoy reading it!
It seems that many of us are feeling a little bit lost in life. Are you lost? I do have my ‘lost’ moments, but thankfully I knew from a very young age what I wanted to do in life and what makes me happy: art and creativity. I guess I was lucky. Whether it is drawing, dancing, singing, writing, designing or coming up with new ideas, being creative give me joy, purpose and an unstoppable drive to get up in the morning and get going. I am never bored. Because I chose what I love, I have always loved working. Creating and writing – that is me, that is who I am and I am grateful for that. And I am grateful for my parents to allow me to be who I am.
Very often I find myself in conversations with people who tell me that they are not happy and unsure of what they really want to do in life. They fell into a job, do what is expected of them by their parents or peers or just like the big pay check but have no time for anything else but work. Are we all pre-programmed to become part of the rat race? Becoming robots and just doing what everyone else does, trying to keep up with the Joneses? It seems to drive us mad, that’s for sure. And it keeps self help writers, life coaches and counsellors very busy.
Soulful living is the tagline of my blog and I truly believe that life is too precious to live it any other way. We don’t need to be happy all of the time – there is so much pressure on being happy and having the ‘perfect life’ in our culture. Why not try and feel content and value what we’ve got? Being present, conscious and sincere in everything we do. Go outside, breathe in the fresh air.
Do I have the answers to how to happy? No, of course I don’t, but today I would like to share a few thoughts and ideas that have helped me focus lately. Perhaps they’ll help you too in your own quest for happiness – or little daily struggles.
1. Practice daily gratitude
I wasn’t brought up religiously, but over the years I have picked up a thing or two from different spiritual books and practicing gratitude is one of them. Whether you pray to your god of choice at night, meditate in solitude or keep a journal, something shifts in your subconscious when you count your blessings. You have much more to be thankful for than you think. I recently posted on Facebook about the fact that my husband and I have a ritual with our two little boys each night at bedtime. We ask them:”what was your best part of the day?” It is amazing how many things kids can come up with, which for us are normal, but they thought of as fantastic and enjoyable. Playing at break time with their best friend, a tasty lunch, new toys to play with at the childminder’s house, watching a film and eating sausages for dinner. Being mindful seems a natural state of being for kids. They ask us the same question and I admit it is really challenging to come up with equally as many great moments. Some days all I can think of is that I enjoyed listening to the radio in the car to work in the morning and the snuggles at bedtime with the boys. “What else?” do they say. “I don’t know”, I answer, “nothing else.” They look at me puzzled. But I guess that is OK. I am working on it.
2. Write happy lists
Making lists can be very helpful to focus your mind and see things clearly when written down in front of you on a piece of paper. I recently bought the book 52 lists for Happiness, a great little book prompting you weekly to sit down and think about your life, what you find important and enjoy doing. It helps you to take stock of your past and present, as well as plan ahead and make some positive changes for the future.
What do the happy people do?
One of the lists that was a real light bulb moment for me was the one where I was asked to list the happiest people in my life and what I felt their characteristics are. Looking at the finished list, it struck me that the people I had listed actually had a lot in common:
– They listen well (and don’t talk about themselves much)
– They show an interest in others
– They don’t judge
– They smile a lot
– They are very active in life and involved in their community
– They don’t sweat the small stuff
– They are positive in the way they talk
– They are supportive
I was amazed by the similarities of the people I had listed, even though I’d never have thought of them before as very similar people. It definitely gave me food for thought and made me reflect on whether I do any of these things myself. Do I listen enough? Am I too opinionated and judgemental? Do I give enough of my time to others? Am I supportive? I realised that I probably feel most miserable when I am too focused on myself and my own silly little issues. When looking outward, helping others, life becomes lighter.
Do you feel this is true? Who are the happiest people in your life? What are they like and what characteristics do they have? Please share your findings in the comments below, I would be interested to find out if you see similarities too.
3. Accept life and take it by the horns
I know quite a few people, some very close to me, who make mountains out of moles hills. The smallest things become huge dramas. Now I am not saying that you should be nonchalant about everything and not give a hoot, but fighting life’s obstacles – or worrying about things you cannot change anyway – won’t bring you happiness, just anxiety and frustration.
Like everyone else I’ve had tough times in life, some harder than others; traumatic births and my beautiful vintage shop going up in flames to name a few, but I believe acceptance rather than anger and dwelling on the situation, has helped me get through them. Sometimes life takes over, which can be pretty hard to face up to for a someone who likes to be in control. But it is what it is and it’s up to us how we react. By accepting, keeping the perspective and being practical (as well as talking about it to people), a bad situation becomes manageable, you can let go and move on, instead of it becoming all consuming and too large to cope with mentally. Nothing is permanent. Now, of course, I can’t speak for others going through hard times, we all deal with things differently. But this is what has worked for me and it has prevented me from going into depression.
4. Take own responsibility
It may be news to you (and I really hope it isn’t), but you will not find happiness in a big home extension, four holidays a year, a six figure salary or a big white wedding. We all know stories of rich celebrities battling with depression or ending up in their umpteenth divorce. It is not rocket science. You can’t buy happiness. Happiness is not an outside thing or a place to go to. At the end of the day, it’s up to you, how you look at things in life and the decisions you make. Happiness is inside of you and you’re the only one who holds the keys. Pointing fingers at people or situations is not going to help. You want to be happy? Look in the mirror. Take responsibility, make positive changes. Or scroll back up to number 2 and read what the happy people do.
5. Be mindful (and give yourself some love)
I am a mother of a three-year old and a five-year old, a business owner, a wife and a part-time marketing manager for an arts organisation. I say yes to too many things, I get involved in too many projects and I am a singer in a band. I like my life, but it is terribly busy at times and not always fun (but I take full responsibility for it – it is me who does it!). Now I can’t remember how I came across this book, but it’s been a great source of inspiration for me as a parent and it may help some of you too in the same situation. Buddhism for Mothers by Sarah Naphtali basically guides you through the hectic years of parenthood, using the teachings and principles of buddhism – without being too religious. Most parenting books are about how to look after your children, but this book is mainly about how to look after yourself. It gives inspiration to be more patient, loving and attentive towards your children, your partner, other parents, but most of all, yourself. What I found really helpful in this book were the suggestions of weaving mindfulness and meditation into your daily routines, taking the pressure off yourself a little. It’s all very doable. Only have 5 minutes in the morning for a quick meditation before the kids get up and all hell breaks loose? Amazing! No need to sit in lotus position either, just be mindful while folding the washing or driving to work. Mindfulness is nothing more than being present and in the now, which will ultimately make you enjoy life more and feel happy, even – or especially – during the crazy busy years.
Do you love flicking through a beautiful book full of pretty homes and interiors? So do I. There is just something nice and wholesome about an actual printed book on your coffee table, rather than scrolling through millions of images on a screen. I love buying books by interior stylists or about certain topics like midcentury design, to brush up on my knowledge. The nice thing about these books is that they also make rather pretty and thoughtful gifts for fellow design enthusiasts amongst your friends (Christmas anyone?).
This month I am recommending a few books by stylists who I have been following on social media for quite a while now and whose style I really like, plus a book on beautiful styling with plants. Enjoy reading!
1. Styled. Secrets for Arranging Rooms, from Tabletops to Bookshelves, Emily Henderson
Emily Henderson is a rather charming home and lifestyle blogger based in California (www.stylebyemilyhenderson.com). She seems down to earth, friendly & fun and honest and has a great flair for styling and decorating. I get very inspired by her eclectic but beautiful mixing of vintage and new. ”Perfection is boring. Let’s get weird” she says in her tagline, and I can very much sympathise with that!
Her best-seller book Styled is the ultimate guide to thinking like a stylist, with 1,000 design ideas for creating the most beautiful, personal, and liveable rooms. She also uses a lot of vintage in her styling, which of course makes it all the better. The book shows you ten easy steps to styling any space and teaches you how to edit out what you don’t love to repurposing what you can’t live without and how to arrange the most eye-catching displays on any surface. ”Even a few little tweaks can transform the way your room feels”… now that is some helpful, practical advice right there.
2. Urban Jungle: Living and Styling with Plants, Igor Josifovic and Judith de Graaff
House plants have really made a comeback in recent years and they sure make a room look good. I love them, even though it is an upward struggle to keep them lalive sometimes. This beautiful thick book from the founders of the Urban Jungle Bloggerscommunity is a resource full of stunning inspirational photos and endless styling ideas, making you want to rush straight out and buy some greenery. It guides the reader through different ‘green’ homes in five European countries and shows how beautiful, unique, creative and even artistic living with plants can be. The book also offers easy help for taking care of the plants, which is a bonus.
3. The Scandinavian Home: Interiors inspired by light, Niki Brantmark
Oh, you can’t beat Scandinavian styling, now can you? Although I find some of the interiors in this book a bit too monochrome (I like colour!), they are absolutely beautiful. White or white washed flooring, white walls, blond wood furniture, vintage finds, black and grey accents, contemporary art, you get the idea. And light, plenty of light, which is the main focus in this book by Niki Brantmark. And I guess that’s what the Scandinavians have in common with Scotland, where I currently live: there is not a lot of it half of the year, so we better make the the daylight we do get.
Nature and the weather are major influences in Scandinavia: homes are made warm and cosy for the freezing winter months – not just literally with log burners, but also through incorporating wood and natural materials. In her book, Niki Brantmark, owner of the interior design blog My Scandinavian Home, presents a wide-ranging collection of these beautiful homes and explores how the Scandinavian lifestyle is reflected in them all.
Do you like the idea of updating your walls, but the idea of wallpaper is a bit daunting? I definitely feel like that sometimes. I have no problem getting the paint brush out and giving a wall a totally different colour in a day, but the idea of pasting on wallpaper always makes me feel a bit nervous. I love the look of wallpaper and would use it in my designs for clients, but it can be quite permanent, and I like a change in my home every now and then. I mean, stripping wallpaper is not a nice and quick job, now is it! Today I am going to show you something totally different to update your walls: stickers. Sophisticated ones.
Wall stickers have been around for quite a while now as wall decoration and are especially popular in nurseries and kids’ rooms in the shapes of animals and trees (or in our house, my boys’ own spontaneous creative half ripped additions from their sticker books). But there are some very pretty designs around now to use in other parts of the house too without it looking too gimmicky.
I also like the more abstract, geometrical sticker designs, to just give the walls a bit of interest. Add a strip across the length of the wall, or just a a focal point above your desk or in the hallway.
A lot of wall stickers can look too cheap and glossy or have a lot of material around the actual picture. I came across online sticker maker Tenstickers, who seem to have sorted those problems. Their stickers don’t reflect the light, so look part of the actual wall rather than well, yes, a sticker. They are easy to apply too, with no air bubbles and they supply a piece to practice with. Handy.
Apart from wall stickers, Tenstickers also supply laptop, car and even fridge stickers, if your appliances could do with a new look.
You can also order personalised stickers with your own photos, drawings or text. Hmmm… that opens up some pretty cool possibilities and interesting alternatives to traditional picture frames too. How about a large photo sticker of your family summer holiday to cheer you up over breakfast before heading into the office…?
I am excited to being able to offer my readers a 15% discount if you fancy some wall sticker yourself! Just visit the website www.tenstickers.co.uk and use the code NINAS15 at checkout before the 1st of November.
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PS: Please do send me pictures if you are jazzing up your walls with some cool stickers, I love seeing people’s room makeovers!
DISCLAIMER: THIS IS A SPONSORED POST. FROM TIME TO TIME I GET CONTACTED BY BRANDS AND COMPANIES WHO ASK ME TO FEATURE THEIR PRODUCTS. I ONLY POST ABOUT BRANDS WHICH I FEEL FIT IN WITH THE STYLE AND ETHICS OF NINA’S APARTMENT.
Do you hang out at Pinterest a lot, pinning images of beautiful, eclectic rooms and wondering if you are ever going to be able to recreate something similar? Where do people find all these perfect vintage pieces of furniture and objects? How do they put it all together?
Here are 5 Tips to Decorate with Vintage:
- Buy what you love.
Your home should be pleasing to your eye. You have to live there. If you don’t love your decor, you will not feel comfortable in your own home. If you love those crazy antlers or that old travel trunk, use them!
- Don’t be afraid to mix wood tones.
Many people think that if they own one piece of oak furniture, the rest has to match. But wood is just a colour. Vintage furniture that was meant to last was made of wood. Check for tones in the wood grain that may be complimentary to one another.
- Be patient. Shop often.
My furniture did not come home with me in one weekend. That’s one of the luxuries of buying new – you can get a catalog looking living room in one shopping trip. But in order to achieve decor with character, you may have to be patient for the right piece to come along. Check your local vintage traders, charity shops, flea market, Gumtree and Ebay, often.
- Mix it up.
True design comes from mixing unexpected elements, colours, and textures. With vintage furniture, you run the risk of looking like you live in a time warp – same goes for vintage clothing. Don’t be afraid to mix decades, vintage and modern, and shapes. A very ornate antique cabinet can look amazing when given pride of place against a fresh white wall, next to a fairly inexpensive standard lamp from Ikea.
- Don’t be afraid to re-purpose.
The goal of decorating with vintage is two fold – owning quality constructed pieces and creating a unique, eclectic look. If you happen to find a fabulous dressing table, but have no room or need for one, try re-purposing it without the mirror as a storage sideboard or desk in the living room. A double door antique wardrobe could turn into a fabulous kitchen pantry with new shelves top to bottom, and painted in a vibrant blue.
How do you style with vintage? Do you find it easy or do you have difficulty creating a ‘together’ look?
I am having a lot of fun this week with Lorraine from Hume Vintage, doing our joint pop-up shop Vintage Haus. We have very similar taste in vintage so our stock blends well together. I brought in most of the midcentury modern furniture while Lorraine is showing off her amazing colourful collection of original designer fabrics from the 1960s by Heals, Sanderson, Marimekko, Hull Traders and more, mostly made into very usable, decorative throw cushions. Remnants look great when framed too.
West Germany Vases, Midwinter and Meakin coffee sets and unique studio pottery are adding to the mix, repeating the striking geometric designs and bold patterns of the textiles on display.
People who know me, know that I wouldn’t style a shop without introducing a giant teak sideboard, so hey, I brought two. Because it is fun playing shops again for a week! The furniture gives some welcome structure to the blank canvas of the shop space and the teak forms a good backdrop for all the vintage homeware. And you can’t beat the sleek design and stunning detail of midcentury modern furniture, can you?
I also found a set of lovely Swedish ‘Kontiki’ dining chairs designed by Yngve Ekstrom for Troeds in the 1960s. I just love the way the wood is sculptured and how clever the frame fits together, with the back rest and back legs made into one smooth piece. (No straight forward drop seat here; unscrew the seat and the whole frame falls apart – but is also put back together, phew!).
Oh, and to add a bit of boho glamour and drama, you got to have an enormous peacock chair of course. Preferably surrounded by lots of greenery and house plants, but in the shop the flowers will have to do.
We both also brought lots of framed adverts, collectable Vernon Ward prints and paintings and created two gallery walls, grouping them together based on colour and style. The little framed car pictures are original brochures from the dealer back in the 1960s!
It’s been a joy to both have a shop again, even if it was just for a week, and working with someone who shares my passion for colour, pattern and design. It was also really nice to see so many of my customers back again, who used to pop into my old shop in Inverurie on a Saturday. It’s been fun, it’s been busy and there is nothing better than seeing lots of inspired customers leaving the shop with their arms full of vintage happiness.
Final day (SALE!) is Sunday 24 September, 11am-3pm. 8 Chattan Place, Aberdeen West End.
You want to throw all the toys out of the window you say? Momma, I hear you. I remember the days, before having kids, when my husband and I would look at each other in horror after visiting a bomb site at a friend’s house. “I can’t believe the state of their house. Honestly, the amount of plastic toys…surely they could tidy up, right? If we ever have a family, I will never have so much junk.” *laughs hysterically*
Yeah. I have a three-year old and a five-year old now. Boys. They have a a lot of stuff: toys, clothes, sticks. Pants and socks everywhere. And I ain’t got a lot of time. Or energy. You get the picture. Things get messy sometimes. Oh sure, I do try. I buy nice storage boxes (which subsequently get turned into mini bath tubs for toy cars – or used as helmets in superhero dress-up games) and then it stays tidy for a while. A day maybe. One day, when I am old and the boys have flown the nest, my house shall be clutter-free. Until then, I shall give them a warm, loving home while I browse Pinterest and Instagram and dream of stylish, tidy rooms.
Here are some examples of kids rooms that just look great and probably are more stylish than your own bedroom. (I also bet no kid was allowed in them before the photo shoot was over and done with. I would love to see what they look like on a daily basis – ha!). Do you have kids rooms at home that you’d love to show off? How do you handle the clutter? Do let me know!
Autumn is here and it seems everyone has got the declutter and home-making bug. Have you noticed? It is obviously time to get cosy inside again. I love looking at interiors that make me feel calm, such as this gorgeous room by Australian designers Doherty Design Studio in Melbourne. Beautiful textures, monochrome palette and timeless furniture create a peaceful space.
I love how the mustard colour is repeated in the picture. And a fiddle leaf fig tree is always a winner.
These pictures are taken in my own home. The pottery is part of the stock I am gathering for my upcoming pop-up store Vintage Haus. This is a Scottish pottery jug and a coffee pot in one of my favourite midcentury designs ‘Chevron’ by Denby. I still need to find more things to add to the shop collection, but it is a nice start.
Botanics are very much on trend right now and as I love a bit of green, I created a little corner with a print on canvas and a vintage globe.
Our bedroom has an ever growing gallery wall. Blue is a great calming colour for the bedroom, so I try to stick to that with the artworks, which are a mix of cheap carboot sale finds, photographs and an abstract acrylic painting I made myself.
What inspired you this week?
Art is a funny thing. I absolutely love art and have always been interested in it, from when I was very little. I just need to have art around me, whether it is paintings, photographs, sculpture or ceramics. I yearn for the handmade, original qualities of a piece of art. Problem is, I keep buying it, even though I have long run out of wall and shelf space to display anything.
I find it amazing how art just seems to have the ability to ‘grab’ you and you feel you need to own it, probably because it is such a one-off, unique piece and you adore it. Well, that has happened to me more than once. Even though I sometimes couldn’t justify it and it was not in my budget. One time I was working at the Glasgow Art Fair for a previous employer and during a little wander around suddenly this big orange Rothko-like painting stared me right in the face and drew me closer. I couldn’t walk away. It was as if the devil himself had taken over my sanity and before I knew it I took my card out and spent every last penny of my hard earned savings. Utter madness. But it is still my favourite painting and it has pride of place in my house. Countless visitors have looked at be baffled and don’t see why on earth I love the painting so much, but that is the thing about art: it is not about what other people think – it is very personal and if you love it and it means something to you, it is worth buying. Even if you have to live on porridge oats and water for the rest of the month.
If you spot something you like – or even more than one piece, don’t be put off buying it because of lack of wall space. Group pictures together to create an interesting gallery wall. And don’t be scared to buy something large either. Nothing worse than a tiny picture frame on a massive wall. Here’s a great website explaining you how to create a gallery wall: decorationchannel.com
If you are not too familiar with art buying, you might feel a bit at a loss when finding something great for your walls and may choose to be safe, going for a picture that matches the colour of the curtains rather than that it makes you smile or evokes any emotion at all. Such a missed opportunity, because why not make your home a place that inspires you? Fill it with things that are meaningful, not mass-produced.
Still, if you feel you know very little about art or claim you are “not really into art”, then where do you look for something that ticks those boxes? Here are a few ideas.
First of all
- Don’t care about what everyone else may think about your choice of artwork or whether it is by someone famous. If you love looking at it, it is meaningful.
- Pick something that ‘speaks’ to you. Does it make you happy? Does the subject have significance? Or do you just really love the colours or composition? You’re onto a winner.
- Set yourself a budget if you don’t want to be swept away by crazy impulse buying tendencies. Yup – I am talking from experience.
- Sleep on it. Do you still think about that artwork in the morning as worth it? Get it.
Where to find art?
- Visit the degree show of the local Art School. Those fresh graduates are dying to make it big and have their art out there. You are bound to discover some pretty cool pieces and will make someone’s day (or month) if you go home with one of their works.
- Go to local art fairs and markets. There must be some in your city or area. Stroll around, speak to the artists. These events are usually very lively and informal and feel less daunting than shopping for art in a quiet gallery.
- Buy online. There are a growing number of online galleries selling original artworks at various prices. An easy way to familiarise yourself with different styles and see what you like. Rise Art is one of them. They have some more great tips on what to look out for when buying art. Oh, and if you don’t want to buy, you can rent! How cool is that?
- Be brave! Dive into an actual gallery! Galleries may look scary for someone who doesn’t usually go to these kind of places, but trust me, gallery owners want to sell art and you are customer just like anyone else. You’ll probably find there are pieces of art at different price levels. You may not be a regular, but you have every right to go in and have a look around. Many galleries in the UK now have a scheme called Own Art, which let you buy an artwork with a 0% loan, so worth popping in for.
On a budget? Or maybe on the hunt for something more vintage?
- The local auction house will have plenty of artworks too. Have a look in their online catalogue of items to see if it is worth bidding. You’d be surprised how often you could pick up a framed original for less than £50. Of course, as with markets and charity shops: it is hit or miss, but certainly a good way of buying quirky art on a budget.
- Browse the charity shops, car-boot sales or flea markets for original paintings, etchings and vintage posters.
- Feeling creative? Make something yourself. Paint, draw, sew, print or take photos. Frame a piece of fabric or wallpaper you love. Get the kids involved and let them go crazy with their felt pens and finger paint. It is amazing how good things look in a frame.
Have fun, start that art collection!