Nina’s Apartment is 10 this year!

e book styling with vintage

Happy birthday to me and my wee blog! I started the blog Nina’s Apartment back in 2008, can you believe it? No, I neither can I! I started the blog because I craved having an online place where I could gather ideas about styling with vintage. I also wanted to share upcycling projects and inspire readers to be more original in their interior decor choices. Ban beige! Was my first tagline.

A few years later I even had the joy of running my own shop under the same name, selling vintage furniture for four years. It is wonderful to give vintage pieces a new lease of life with paint or reupholstery. To rescue an unloved old teak sideboard from a garage, restore it and seeing a young family fall in love with it and give it a new home.

E Book Styling with Vintage

In all those years, while blogging, sourcing and selling vintage and even designing people’s rooms for them, I often got the same questions. “How do you know what vintage to buy?” “Can I make it look good with the rest of my interior?” “How do I make things work together well?” I decided to gather some of my thoughts and knowledge on it and create a little Guide for you! It’s a pretty little booklet with some great bite-size lessons and tips to spark ideas, give inspiration and help you get started on your own creative decor project.

And in return? It would help me so much if I could somehow earn a tiny bit of money from my blog after keeping it going and sharing my ideas for free for all those years. It’s not a lot, less than the price of a coffee and cake. Will you support me? It would be an amazing birthday gift! 🙂


E Book A Practical Guide to Styling with Vintage


A Practical Guide to Styling with Vintage

12 pages + front and back cover. Print quality, high resolution PDF.
The book includes numerous full colour photographs for inspiration, six practical styling lessons, an exercise to get you thinking and four style sheets to help you create your desired look.

£4.00


Preview

 


Who is this e book for?

This 12-page booklet is for people who love vintage furniture and using vintage finds in their own decor, but perhaps find it hard to select the right piece or how to make it look good in their home. Or perhaps you don’t know how to combine it with what you already have. And how do you prevent your decor from looking like a time warp? This E booklet is a helping hand to assist you in styling your home with vintage finds and furniture, create balance and make it all come together.

The lessons in the book are great reminders of what to think about when buying and styling with vintage; the style sheets serve as practical guides to create a certain ‘look’ and the lists are great to bring with you on your shopping trips. It is a high resolution PDF so you can even print it out.

Let me help you create an interior that reflects who you are and what you love…and stands the test of time. Enjoy!


Or…if you don’t want the E book but would like to buy me a birthday coffee instead, then you would be absolutely amazing too! A BIG thank you for supporting me.

coffee with heart shape milk

Buy Nina a coffee

I don't start writing before I have had a good coffee in the morning. Thank you for kick-starting my working day!

£2.50

Upcycling tutorial: make a tote, basket or rug with plastic bag yarn

The plastic problem is still huge and creating big problems in oceans, in landfill and just generally making the earth look very ugly. Still, I am an optimist, and I believe change is coming, not tomorrow maybe, but we are heading in the right direction. People are generally becoming more aware of the ecological impact of especially single use plastic and social media is full of posts showing ideas of how to reduce the use of it in your own household. I am still guilty myself of doing unplanned, spontaneous grocery shopping, subsequently accepting single use carrier bags. I buy coffees on the go in takeaway cups. It is hard to be consistent and strict about these things while they are still constantly offered to us.

plastic-bag-sb10063890a-001.jpg

 


Last year India banned all forms of disposable plastic in Delhi. Europe is proposing a ban on single-use plastic items such as cutlery, straws and cotton buds in a bid to clean up the oceans. The legislation is not just about banning plastic products. It also wants to make plastic producers bear the cost of waste management and cleanup efforts, and it proposes that EU states must collect 90% of single-use plastic bottles by 2025 through new recycling programs.

upcycling tutorial

So that’s a bit about where we are at with single use plastic…but what about turning single use carrier bags into something that is usable for much longer, while they are still in existence? I am always in awe of how creative and resourceful humans are around the world. Who knew you could knit and crochet with the stuff?


How to make plarn?

 


1. Make a Crocheted tote bag our of plarn

 

plarn tote bag upcycling tutorial
Image and tutorial (in Spanish): La ventana azul

Image: MontClairMade


Plastic bags can be incredibly versatile and turned into very strong yarn for crocheting. When choosing bags for your project, consider color and texture. Select bags that are similar in thickness to create an overall good effect. Combine different coloured bags to create a pattern of colour, colour changes and patterns.

Supplies you’ll need:

20-25 clean grocery bags
Plastic crochet hook, size 6.50mm K
Scissors

Ready to give it a go?

Take me to the tutorial


plarn basket upcycling tutorial
Image: Jessyratfink

 

2. Make a basket out of plarn

A waste basket…out of waste! I love baskets for all sorts of uses, including toys, craft supplies, hats and gloves at the front door or yes, for paper waste.  How cute is this one made out of plastic carrier bags? And even better, no crocheting required.

Want to learn how?

Take me to the tutorial


3. Make a rag rug out of plarn

Great for outdoors, at the front door or in the bathroom, rag rugs made out of plastic carrier bags make surprisingly great mats. Here is an upcycling tutorial on how to make them. No crocheting needed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 Simple and Minimal Ways to Style Your Home

Minimalist living. Have you tried it? I have seen lot of bloggers and social media influencers pop up lately who talk about minimalist living. We all own too much, don’t we? It is suffocating. And where on earth do you leave all the stuff? I would love a house with less clutter myself. One day. Today on the blog have blogger and stylist Lisa Ramirez of  Casa de Rami (www.casaderami.com) sharing some ideas with us. She’s done it. She’s cleared the clutter and feels so much better for it! How did she do it?

minimalist living. scandinavian white kitchen
Image: Pixelbay

 


Lisa Ramirez Casa de Rami
Lisa from Casa de Rami

Lisa: I went through a major transition of ridding my home of all the unnecessary, so my family could live a more minimal life. This new way of living helped me realize that I was in fact over cluttering my home. I owned too many items that no longer served a purpose or fit in with my own style. Much of it was sadly the result of overbuying when my husband and I purchased our first house a couple of years back. Back then we felt the need to have to fill every room to the brim. But after downsizing to a smaller space, I learned that it’s not about how much you have, but what you have, and how you style it to serve multiple purposes.

From overbuying to downsizing

Styling your home in a way that makes you never want to leave is the number one goal for most of us. Displaying items and decor that speak to our personality and make us happy instead of feeling overwhelmed. Having a space that welcomes and comforts us, and doesn’t make us want to turn around and walk right back out. Those are the goals. But where do you draw the line between over doing it and getting it just right? In a society that constantly screams “More, more, more!”, how do you keep the balance between minimal & straight up too much. Here are some of the things I did to create a more minimalist home.


1.Clear out the clutter

This can be a fun process! Letting go of physical items is freeing. The more you toss, the more you gain. Make a plan and get going! Go through cupboards, closets, the basement. If you’re a family of four, you probably don’t need twenty plus coffee mugs, right? Pick through them, get rid of the ones that are chipped or broken and keep the good ones. Same for dishes, bowls, silverware. If you haven’t used an item in over six months, do you really need it?

Minimalist living. White kitchen
Having a minimal amount of serving ware allows you to be able to display it nicely on an open shelf or glass cupboard. Image: instagram.com/mariloubiz/

 


Go through your drawers, donate clothes that no longer fit you, and toss the ones that are too broken or stained to fix. Same for shoes, and accessories you no longer use or care for. And if you share your home have others do the same. If your kids are too young to decide, do it for them, ESPECIALLY when it comes to their mountain of toys! The more you clear out, the less you have to maintain and clean up. After the clutter is gone, you’ll be left with a new found appreciation for what you DO have – all of which serves a purpose, and you’re more than happy to keep and display in your home.


2. A place + purpose for everything

Now that you’ve cleared out the clutter, you should be left with only that which you truly need, and those unique + special items you love. Display them and use them. Everything should have a spot it calls home. Whether you want to display them on a shelf or keep in a cabinet, choose a proper place for each every single item.

Minimalist living. Clear the clutter
Clear jars aren’t only stylish, but just as functional. Image: instagram.com/lorewilbert


3. Display what you love + what makes you happy 

This part should be easy seeing as how you should only be left with items + decor that you love & enjoy. Display it all proudly. Style it with other items that pair well and create a cohesive balance. You want it to not only look good, but to also create a vibe of simplicity & calm.

Minimalist bedroom hygge
From the sweet message above the nightstand, to the stylish hats on the wall. It’s all being displayed in a way that says “these are some of my favorite things”. Image: instagram.com/cynthia_harper_


4. Take your time sourcing new items

After your big clutter purge, you may realize that you’re left with almost zero to no decor items. That’s OK! That’s actually a really good thing. That means you never really cared for what was in your home, and now you can start building a collection of items that will create the character and space your style speaks to. But try not to buy it all at once. Sometimes when we try and do this either at one particular store or online, we get easily overwhelmed because of all the choices that are out there. Take. Your. Time. You don’t need to fill your space in record speed. It’s not a race, but a journey. Pick out pieces little by little. Think it over, and you’ll see that your efforts will create the space of your dreams!

Minimalist boho living. The bedroom
Everything seen here has taken well over a year to source and put together. Our bedroom is finally coming together because we took our time to decorate and style it based only on what we truly love and makes us happy. Image: @casaderami


5. Cohesiveness is key

Creating an environment that has balance & simplicity is the perfect way to harmonize a space. Pieces that blend well in terms of color, style, texture & pattern help unify a room and bring it to life.

Minimalist interior design tips
From the bright whites & neutral tones, to the pops of dark blended with wood & greenery. It all creates a wonderful cohesive vibe. Image: instagram.com/cynthia_harper_


6. It’s all in the details

Details are what tell the story of your home. A picture of your family, an inherited heirloom sitting on the mantel, a worn out dresser that’s been given a hardware upgrade – it all speaks and lives in your home. This goes back to displaying only that which you love and makes you happy. You want to be able to look around your home, and have guests look around too and think, there’s a beautiful story to be told here.

Make it cozy, make it warm, make it inviting, make it yours.

 

Minimalist interior style tips
At a glance, there’s a majestic sense of history in this room. From the old fashion piano, to the vintage candlesticks on the mantel. Your home should tell a story. Image: instagram.com/mariloubiz/

For more inspiration from Casa de Rami:

www.casaderami.com
www.instagram.com/casaderami
www.facebook.com/casaderamiinteriors
www.pinterest.com/casaderamiblog
www.twitter.com/casaderami

Three statement chandeliers to make with embroidery hoops

Today I am going to show you how to make an embroidery hoop chandelier. Create some fabulous decor pieces with embroidery hoops. Super easy, but stunning and they are very decorative both indoors and outdoors. Use them in your home interior or as party decoration. Try them as lampshades or as mobiles suspended from the ceiling of a nursery or other room. Add some fairylights for extra sparkle.


An embroidery hoop chandelier with photos

Super simple idea, but looking great: three wooden embroidery hoops in different sizes, suspended and attached to one another with thin metal wire. Glue small wooden pegs onto the hoops at equal distance. Print off your favourite black and white photos and clip them in place around the hoops.

Of course you can do this with all kinds of paper, they don’t have to be photos. Try vintage postcards or book pages as an alternative.

An embroidery hoop photo chandelier
Image: The Nester
book pages chandelier with embroidery hoops
Image: divertissementblogdotcom

Create an Embroidery hoop chandelier with ribbons

You can go for the three tiered embroidery hoop chandelier for a real statement piece or keep it simple and start with one hoop. Make just a small hoop or fill a hula hoop with long strips of fabric for more impact – the latter would make a stunning center piece in a wedding or summer party marquee too. All you need is a large batch of similar length ribbons or strips if fabrics in your favourite colours and tie them to the hoop until the circle is full.

embroidery hoop chandelier with ribbons
Image: Pinterest
embroidery hoop mobile chandelier with ribbons
Image: Pinterest

Make an Embroidery hoop mobile with felt and paper

The possibilities are endless. You can literally tie anything to a hoop as long as it is secured and not too heavy! How about saving up those wine bottle corks? Doilies? Tiny glass bottles with fresh flowers? Origami crane birds! Paper flowers, felt balls, feathers, little crocheted animals…you name it.

Hang your embroidery hoop chandelier over the dining table, in a corner of the living room or create something cute for in the nursery. You can even hang the hoop sideways and turn it into a bohemian dream catcher… Here are some more ideas.

crocheted animals mobile for nursery embroidery hoop
Image: Miss Moss
embroidery hoop mobile for nursery with felt balls
Image: Etsy
bohemian dream catcher with embroidery hoop
Image: Bridal Musings
paper circles mobile with embroidery hoop for nursery
Image: Etsy

Disclaimer: In this post I have included affiliate links to Etsy and Craft and Create who will pay me a small percentage of what you spend if you choose to click on the links and buy craft supplies from them. This of course helps me to keep going as a blogger. Your support is much appreciated!

Get the juices flowing: Five easy ways to boost your creativity

Are you an artist, musician, designer or otherwise creative person? Then you probably know that feeling, that no matter what stage in life you are at, whatever job you have chosen or lifestyle you are leading, if you have a creative streak in you, it just has to come out or you feel itchy. Still, sometimes you feel the burning desire to create…. but you can’t focus on anything or don’t know where to start. Perhaps you wanted to write that book, become better at playing the piano or continue to paint after you finished a great art course last year. But you didn’t. Another problem many creatives have – and I see you nodding – we all have too many things on the go but none of them are finished. And then there is procrastination. Here are five easy tips to boost your creativity and help you get motivated again!

Five easy ways to boost your creativity


1. Create a Pinterest Board with 12 projects for a year

Oh, I see you thinking, oh dear Pinterest, the ultimate station of procrastination! Yes, I know, we all spend too much time on it, drooling over interiors, recipes and pretty stuff. But there are some useful pins on there, really and they can boost your creativity. Try creating a brand new board and only pin creative ideas or projects on there that you know you are able to manage and finish. Perhaps a super easy sewing project, a simple printmaking technique you always wanted to try or an idea to upcycle a piece of furniture. Choose 12 pins and give them a name: ‘Project January’, etc. That way you can focus on one easy creative task each month and you know there is a new one coming the next, which will hopefully give you enough of a drive to complete them. You know that each finished project will give you a great sense of accomplishment, so don’t be over ambitious and pin wisely.


giulia-bertelli-104578-unsplash.jpg


2. Start a creative journal

Draw, stick, paint, collage, collect and write. Journals are wonderful little books to help you to boost your creativity, try out different art techniques and visualise ideas. The nice thing about journals is, is that each page offers a new opportunity, a fresh blank page. There is no right or wrong, it is your personal journal, do what you like. Nothing in your journal has to be of great quality, it is a place to dump your thoughts, your scribbles, stories, mind maps, save cut out images and other items that catch your eye, and it will be a lovely thing to keep. You can refer back to it in the future if you need some inspiration or a reminder of creative ideas or genius brain waves. I did a wonderful workshop called ‘Creative Sketchbooks’ last year with artist Fenneke Wolters-Sinke at Fenfolio in Scotland, who showed me that you can be truly free in your journals. She taught me how using old illustrated books offer a great basis for multimedia techniques using stamps, paint, scrap paper, fabric and collage techniques among others, with the existing text and pictures making an interesting base layer. Do you have an old illustrated book lying around you no longer use? Give it a go! What is the worst that can happen?


Creative journal example with scrap paper, cut outs, layering and drawings
This is one of my own creative journals, using an old children’s storybook instead of a blank sketchbook. These are pages I did together with my 6-year old son, who also enjoyed the activity!

 

Creative journal example with scrap paper, cut outs, layering and drawings


3. Start an Instagram account

Just like a paper journal, Instagram can be your own personal dumping ground for things that catch your eye, by taking snap shots of them and posting them on your Instagram page. You can make it public or keep it private, that is up to you. Perhaps you have a love for textures, or a certain colour. Or maybe you have always wanted to do a photographic series of vintage cars? Of people? Of plants? I recently started another account myself, taking pictures of colourful street art and other things that catch my eye in Valencia (@coloursofvalencia). Instagram shows all your images in a grid and it can give you a real boost seeing your ideas and images all together, forming an overview of your creative journey. You may find a certain theme emerging. It also encourages you to go out and take plenty of photos. If your account is public you may even get fellow creatives commenting and you could discover some other interesting accounts giving you more ideas in the process.

patrick-tomasso-88398-unsplash.jpg


4. Set up a Mastermind meet-up with other creatives

This is a slightly different idea, which you may or may not like, but could be interesting to try! I have seen it work very well for women in business, who come together once or twice a month for coffee and discuss their challenges, certain topics and things that are perhaps keeping them from moving forward. Many times they end up collaborating, giving each other fresh ideas or pointing each other to contacts in their networks. I don’t see how this could not also work well for people feeling a bit stuck in their creative lives. You could pick a topic each time or even plan a visit to local galleries to get fresh ideas and boost that creativity. Hook up with two or three creative friends or contacts you know that could benefit from a Mastermind meet-up and get the ball rolling. If anything, you’ll expand or revive your social circle, which can only be a positive thing.

roman-kraft-669711-unsplash.jpg


5. boost your creativity by Switching off the internet and mobile phone

Hold on, not just yet! But you get it, right? And yes, I did just encourage you to start a Pinterest board and and Instagram account. Guilty! But we can all admit that we are probably spending way too much time online, wasting an enormous amount of hours scrolling through pointless posts and photos of people we hardly know on our Facebook timeline, chatting on WhatsApp, and doing really not much at all that stimulates our brain, let alone our creativity. It is a worldwide addiction that prevents us from picking up that brush, the neglected guitar or switch on the sewing machine. Even reading a real book. Let’s all try and break that habit, myself included! Be more mindful, go for a walk to let new ideas flow into your mind. Once the wifi is off, what else is there to do that makes us happy? Yes, plenty! You can start small, by choosing one day or night a week and dedicate this to creating. I promise you, you will be proud of yourself.

Do you have any other tips to boost creativity? Please share them below or on the facebook page. Happy creating!


haley-powers-370168-unsplash.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fresh flowers: five different ways to display them in your home

Who doesn’t love a vase filled with fresh flowers on the table? Perhaps it is in my Dutch blood, coming from the land of tulips, but a colourful, fragrant bouquet is one of the little things in life that makes me truly happy. You could buy a bouquet from the shop and put it straight in a vase at home, but  try and be a bit more creative when arranging flowers and make your bouquet go further. Not a fan of colourful flowers? Choose greenery from the garden! Here are Five different ways to display fresh flowers in your home.


1. Use vintage finds for flower arranging

Who says flowers need to be in a glass vase? Think outside the box (or vase!) when arranging flowers and try an old tin bucket, milk jug, or anything else that looks pretty and can hold water without leaking. Perfect to add that eclectic, bohemian touch and  vintage flair to your interior.

flower display in a vintage tin bucket
Image: Pinterest
Pink blossom in a tin bucket French farmhouse
Image: Bloglovin
wild garden bouquet flowers in a vintage jug
Image: Pinterest

2. alternative flower arranging: Oversized branches in a glass vase

For some quick and easy statement pieces in your decor, try putting a large leafy branch in a large glass bottle or vase. Maybe you have some great shrubs or plants in your garden that need pruning anyway, or just buy one or two beautiful big branches from the flower shop. Usually branches like these last a good few weeks too, which is another great thing about them.

oversized branches in glass vase as focal decor piece
Image: Starfish Cottage
arranging flowers with oversized branches in a glass vase
Image: Pinterest

3. Hang ’em up high: arrange flowers in tiny bottles

Got a collection of little bottles? Any will do, go through your bathroom cabinet or use small lemonade bottles and start arranging flowers in an original way. Even small jars can be used, such as jam or mustard jars. You may want to do a little hunt down charity shops and flea markets to add to your display. Use metal wire or twine to wrap around the bottle necks and secure them to a hoop or a wooden branch suspended from the ceiling or window frame. Fill them with a bit of water and place small single flowers in them. How unusual, but pretty!

Arranging flowers in a Bohemian way with vintage hanging bottles
Image: That’s Chic
arranging flowers with a minimalst flower display in hanging bottles
Image: Kate Young Design

4. arranging flowers by Taking the bouquet apart

I often do this when some of the flowers in my bouquet are old and gone, I take those out and rearrange the ones that are still looking fresh. You can also cut them a bit shorter to make them fit in a different vase – or display them in a group of different size bottles, jugs and vases, together on a tray or table. Ideas for arranging flowers are endless.

arranging monochrome flowers in glass bottles
Image: Flowerona
arranging flowers in groups of vases and bottles
Image: Apartment Therapy
arranging flowers in vintage glass bottles
Image: Pinterest

 


5. arranging flowers the minimalist way: Monochrome bouquets for simplicity

Don’t like bold and vibrant colours with lots of different types of flowers? Keep it simple and go for monochrome. Pick a bunch of white roses or tulips, with a little bit of greenery if you want. A perfect, classic and sophisticated way of arranging flowers.

monochrome flower bouquets
Image: Flowerona
monochrome bouquet in mason jar
Image: My Winter garden

The most beautiful garden party ideas

Summer is here, time to throw a garden party! Celebrate the beautiful weather with long tables on the lawn, fairy lights strung in the trees, wild bouquets on the table.

You can choose a theme or just make it as colourful as you want, using whatever you can find. Perhaps you have a fabulous eclectic collection of bowls that would make a great display on the buffet table. Or are you a star at making different punch and cocktails? Display them in large pitchers on a drinks station.

photo-1497534446932-c925b458314e

Today I gathered some beautiful ideas to make your garden party extra special.

 


Vintage furniture at garden parties

Who says you need to sit on plastic chairs at your garden party? If the forecast is good, why not put some comfy seats around the table? Or a sofa on the lawn? Hang a chandelier from a branch!  It sure offers a fab look and it’s great for taking photos.

Vintage chairs at a garden party.
Vintage chairs at a garden party. Image: Bridesmagazine.co.uk

Fresh flowers from the garden

Create tiny bouquets from the flowers in your garden and place them in bottles and glasses on tables or even hang the vases from branches with some twine.

flowers in bottles hanging from twine party decor
Image: Pinterest
garden bouquets for summer party
Image: Pure Wow

a cluster of Balloons for a garden party

What is a party without a balloon? Try clustering them together for more impact or fill them with helium to make them float above the table.

Pink balloons as table decorations
Image: decoist.com


Paper decorations for your garden party

I always bring out my colourful fabric bunting for any party, as it lasts and looks wonderful, but a good alternative – and not too bad for the environment – are paper decorations. Pom poms, flags, lanterns, paper chains, anything to create that whimsical atmosphere at your summer fiesta. The more colourful the better.

a760ed1e62e0d353daaef71b1c638cd3.jpg

paper decorations garden party
Image: pretty little party shop

DIY hula hoop chandelier: beautiful for a garden party

How great is this idea? Indoors and outdoors, this hula hoop chandelier makes a beautiful statement. Hang it from the roof of a veranda or from tree branches above your dinner table. This example has ribbons in different colours tied from a large hula hoop, combined with strips of paper, some perforated with circles. There are also strings hanging down with circles sewn onto them to make short garlands. For evening parties, string some fairy lights inside to light it up.

DIy hula hoop chandelier
DIY paper chandelier. Image: http://shannonberrey.com


Create furniture and decor with pallets for your garden party

Pallets are a great way to add some cheap extra furniture to your garden party decor. They are practical and look nice and rustic and you can stack ’em up high if needed. Use them to put the cakes and desserts on or turn them into a bar. Another idea is to turn them into a low table across the lawn with blankets and cushions on either side.

Pallets as party tables
Image: Style me Pretty
pallets as a centre piece and party table
Image: comoorganizarlacasa.com


And of course…drinks

Last but not least: don’t forget the drinks. Ice lollies only for children? No way! Make a batch of Gin & Tonic lollies and share them out at your party. Guaranteed a hit and pretty too. Mix your gin and tonic together with some lime juice in a pitcher (measured as you would in a glass) and pour it into ice lolly molds. Drop a a few slices of cucumber in it and freeze.

ced6a89757c138e1c6720acc1287248c.jpg


For those looking to make their wine a little bit pinker, create a ‘pimp your prosecco’ bar! Also perfect for sparkling water for the non-alcohol drinkers (just call it ‘pimp your bubbles’!)

75140479a7cbe7daff0f108e0941855a.jpg

Have a fabulous fiesta!

How to decorate with confidence. Eight interior design tips

When people ask me about my interior design style, I usually say ‘eclectic’. In any of my projects, or even during the time when I was buying and selling vintage, all I ever did was follow my intuition and try things out. I don’t follow a certain style, or even trend, I just pick what I love and usually immediately see if it works well together. You can’t help including things that are trendy sometimes because some pieces that are ‘in vogue’ are actually very beautiful and you know you will still love them even when the trend has passed.

bonus tip

Go with your instinct. If it speaks to you, especially when you have thought about it for a few days, get it.

Today I am sharing some tips to help you in your own interior design projects. Next time you are redecorating your living room, or in fact any room, try and follow these steps. They may help you see things differently and choose a colour scheme, furniture and accessories with confidence.

Eight free professional interior design tips


interior design tip #1: Start a Pinterest board

This is a no brainer really and I am sure most of you are doing this already. Create a dedicated board on Pinterest and gather images of rooms you like, furniture you like, colour schemes and images that inspire you and ‘fit’ within the look you are thinking of. While pinning your favourites, think about the function of the room too: are you going to spend time in it during the day or mainly in the evening? Which family members will be using it most? Does it need a play area, a library, a desk? Will it have a TV in it and where would it go?

Style board on Pinterest for interior design
When collecting images for a style board, think about the paint colours, accent colours, types of furniture, different textures and also images you like that may give inspiration for a style or colour scheme.

 


Once you have built a bit of a collection, stand back and look at it as a whole to see if you can see a cohesive style. Is there a certain colour that is dominant? This might become your wall colour or accent colour in textiles or upholstery. Are there certain patterns or textures you pinned in more than one image? Then this is another element you can use, when choosing perhaps wallpaper or accessories.

Delete any images that you feel are just too different from the rest, as this helps you narrowing it down. You can always save the image in another board, for future projects and ideas. As you do this (fun!) exercise over the space of a few weeks, you will slowly see a cohesive style board emerging, which can serve as a very helpful guide when choosing colours, furniture and accessories for your redecoration project.


interior design tip #2: Look at the features of the room

When it comes to styling living rooms, I always start by looking at the features of the space. I try and picture it without anything in it. What is the light like? Are there any focal points like fire places or alcoves? Are the ceilings high or is it a cosy room with small windows? It is a good idea to measure up the space and draw it out to scale on a sheet of paper with written dimensions of walls, windows and doors. This helps you choose the right size furniture later on.

1400990665759.jpeg
Drawing your room to scale on a piece of paper is a useful  exercise to help you plan. Write the dimensions along the walls and bring it along with you on your shopping trips, so you know when a sofa or sideboard actually fits in the space you have in mind for them. Cutting out little miniature piece of furniture (to scale) can help you picture the room, while moving them around on the plan to see what they look like in different places.


interior design tip #3: What to do with the flooring

Next you look another very important permanent element: the flooring. What is the flooring like? Is it staying? Depending on the ideas on your Pinterest board (and budget) you may choose to replace old carpet with wood flooring, paint your old floor boards or leave it as it is and work with rugs later on. Carpets can add a lot of warmth to a room, especially in old houses or if the floor boards on their own are just too draughty.

Natural floor boards and a grey interior with fire place
If you have nice old floor boards, show them off! Sand them, stain them or paint them white. A rug will add warmth.


interior design tip #4: Walls and woodwork: wallpaper or paint?

Next up are the walls and woodwork around the room including windows, skirtings and doors. If you are going for the ‘Scandinavian’ bright look, keep it simple and choose different shades of white as a calm background for your more colourful furniture. If you are thinking of a more traditional or ‘cottage/farmhouse’ style, you may want to look at darker, moodier colours such as deep blue, sage green or dark grey for the walls, creating a cosy sitting room for the evening. It may feel scary to go dark, but you’ll probably be surprised with how good it looks.

Moody paint colours and blue walls with artwork and grey sofa
A deep blue colour for the walls will make a small room feel cosy and great for snuggling up in during the evenings. Add contrast by choosing a white for the woodwork and picture frames, combined with blue-white throw cushions as accessories.
Scandinavian living room with white walls, grey sofa and danish furniture
For a modern, Scandinavian look, choose light wall colours and neutral flooring as a basis to form the perfect backdrop to show off your nice furniture and more colourful accessories or artwork.

 


Whatever paint ideas you have collected on your Pinterest board, it is a good idea to get some tester pots first as you may change your mind when seeing colours in the actual light of your room. Woodwork can also look beautiful just stripped and waxed if you live in a period house, or go for a contrasting colour to make a modern statement. If you go for wallpaper, most people choose to use a bold pattern on just one wall as a feature, rather than plastering it on all four.

Blue patterned wallpaper with bronze accessories and white floorboards
Wallpaper on all four walls can become a bit overpowering, but use it on just one or two and it makes a beautiful statement. This blue patterned wallpaper makes a lovely contrast with the white window frame and the circular pattern is similar to the cushions on the sofa. See also how the bronze accent colour is repeated in the accessories.


interior design tip #5: Lighting

Lighting is super important in interior design and needs proper attention. On your drawn outline of the room mark where you think you will need light. Where are you going to sit and read? What aspects need a spotlight (pictures, a bookcase)? Is a central ceiling pendant light necessary or can you just go for standard lamps, wall fitted lamps and table lamps to light the room in the evening? Perhaps consider putting in a dimmer for a ceiling light to change the mood of the room.

When choosing lighting, don’t buy lamps that are all very busy or different in style and pattern, but perhaps go for a standard and a table lamp with matching shades combined with some stylish wall mounted lamps. Or have one heavily patterned shade combined with more minimalist lighting. Also look at what type of bulb you are using in each lamp: white light creates a cool, contemporary atmosphere while yellow light gives off a warmer glow.

blue grey room with industrial lighting and wood burning stove
Lighting doesn’t all have to match or be of the same ‘series’. In this room the lights do all have the same warm yellow light (bulb) and are fairly plain in design. Instead of the simple white shade on the standard lamp, a patterned shade in the blue and grey tones would also have made a good combination.


interior design tip #6: Furniture

You may want to start from scratch if the budget allows or you just want to make a clean break. The likelihood is that you probably have some things you want to keep, so it is a good idea to photograph them to include them on your Pinterest board to see them in the mix. Then it is important to make a shopping list, not the least because you likely want to know what it is all going to cost.

Invest wisely

Invest wisely and think long term. It may be better to spend a bit more on a quality sofa than splash out on that super stylish vintage drinks cabinet you have spotted but are unlikely to use on a daily basis – although, I know, sometimes you just gotta have something. Shop around and mix and match. Don’t be afraid to buy your brand new sofa at a high street store, then combine it with an upcycled vintage coffee table and compliment it all with a set of cheap plain bookcases from Ikea. Your house is not a show home, make sure it is you and that your style shines through.

Eclectic living room with burnt orange and vintage furniture
Don’t be afraid to mix styles. If it speaks to you, it is meaningful and will still be liked in the future. This room shows the unusual combination of a sleek midcentury sofa with a chesterfield, a vintage cabinet, a modern glass coffee table, traditional table lamps and a Persian rug. But it works! The orange of the sofa comes back in the velvet cushions on the chesterfield as well as the in the rug and the very large artworks. Eclectic but very stylish!

 


how much furniture?

How much furniture should you get? Less is more, you can always add something if you feel there is something missing. Just don’t cram a huge corner sofa into a small front room. Keep it airy, make sure there is still room to move. A 2-seater sofa and two matching midcentury modern armchairs on either side of a low table may be a good solution if you want to create a good ‘conversation space’ in a lounge. When it comes to upholstery, a safe bet is a quality lasting plain wool fabric or leather for the sofa. A grey herringbone is a timeless choice, and so is tan leather. Armchairs can add colour and contrast or even go for patterns to jazz it up.

grey sofa with two matching blue armchairs in a white living room
This calm living room combines a plain grey linen sofa with two matching midcentury armchairs. The blue upholstery creates interest and a bold contrast against the otherwise neutral interior. Imagine them being grey and you would have a much more boring effect. The warm wood tones also go very well with the dark fabric.


interior design tip #7: Soft furnishings

Curtains, blinds and rugs. What does the room need? Plain grey or off white full length linen curtains are always a lovely choice, and go with both modern and traditional styles. Combine it with painted wooden venetian blinds or a patterned linen roman blind for some sophisticated layering.

When it comes to a rug (if you have wood flooring), choose a bolder pattern if your furniture is muted and calm in colour and texture. If there is already a lot going on in your upholstery or colours and patterns on the wall perhaps, select a large natural wool rug in a light colour as a base.

layered window treatment
These large windows lend themselves well for some layered window treatment. This room shows a nice light patterned full length curtain combined with a mustard yellow roman blind. The fabrics are repeated in some throw cushions.


interior design tip #8: Accessories

Finally, accessories. Pictures, mirrors, cushions, vases, clocks, baskets, etc. Cushions are a good way to start. Combine contrasting colours, different patterns and textures. As long as they all fit in more or less with your image collection on the Pinterest board, they will add welcome interest.

>> General cushion pairing formula:

TEXTURE + LARGE SCALE PATTERN + SMALL SCALE PATTERN + LUMBAR

 

Cushion pairing example
Combine a plain coloured velvet texture with a large patterned monochrome cushion. Add a lumbar shaped one and perhaps a fourth cushion combining the orange and black and white, but in a smaller pattern.

 


When it comes to choosing artwork, don’t be afraid to get a big frame. A large painting or photograph can make a great statement in a room. They also look good over a sofa or sideboard. Alternatively a gallery wall can add a lot of interest and a great opportunity to show off family photos. Maybe even show off your collection of fabrics.

play around and learn what works

Play around with placing accessories like vases and other loose objects. Does it look good where you placed it? What composition have you created, is there a good balance? Use other things as well to create interest such as some of your favourite books, found objects like shells or a rock and don’t forget plants! Plants literally add live to a room (as long as you keep them alive of course).

mustard yellow velvet sofa with indoor plants
Buy some large indoor plants to add life and atmosphere to your living room. Imagine this room without the plants, it would look pretty plain.


Good luck!

I hope this list is helpful in guiding you, whatever room you may tackle. What do you find most difficult in your redecorating projects?

How to decorate a rental (without losing your deposit)

Anyone who has ever tried to decorate a rental apartment or house knows it is quite a challenge to make it completely to your taste. Not too bad if you’re only going to live there briefly, but if you are planning to stay longer term, then what do you do? Today I am sharing some great ideas on how to decorate a rental without making your landlord go mad.

HOW TO DECORATE YOUR RENTALWITHOUT LOSING YOUR DEPOSIT


from magnolia to magnificent

Rules about decorating rentals vary per country, as in the Netherlands, where most rentals are unfurnished, it is usually OK to paint walls. You are usually allowed to change other things around the house, as long as it’s put back to what it was before. If it is improving the place somehow you may be able to negotiate a discount on a month’s rent. Laying new flooring for example.

In Britain I have seen that many rentals are furnished and have magnolia (ugh) walls and often are a bit trickier to make you feel at home. In Spain, where we recently moved to, we were lucky to find a house that was unfurnished, which again is not always the case – many rentals are full of other people’s stuff. Unfurnished meant that at least all our own furniture could move in too. But how much can you change in terms of wall colours….hanging pictures, the look of the kitchen and bathroom?

Here are a few tips and ideas on how to jazz up that rental without losing your deposit!


Removable wallpaper to decorate your rental

I have not tried this, but I have heard these wallpapers are as easy to put up as they are to take back down again. Doesn’t this wall look amazing? The shop Betapet on Etsy sells a fantastic collection of self adhesive wallpapers in a wide range of patterns and prints, from subtle geometrics to bold florals.

botanicwall.jpg

chevronwall.jpg


Tile decals to decorate your rental

Nothing worse than ugly dated tiles in the kitchen or bathroom, to clash with any nice modern kitchenware or towels you may own. There are many companies nowadays selling tile stickers, self adhesive and easy to stick on and take back off. HomeArtStickers on Etsy has hundreds of different stickers for both floor and wall tiles, so take your pick.

floortiles.jpg

geomnetrictile.jpg


Curtains…and using fabric as wall covering

Don’t like the curtains in your rental? Fold them up nicely and store them away. Replace them with your own. Job done. But have you ever thought about using fabric as wall covering? Yes! Attaching fabric to the wall can be done in a variety of renter-friendly ways: staple gun, upholstery tacks, upholstery strips, liquid starch and some drawing pins to name a few. When it is time to move out, simply remove the fabric and take it with you. Check out this blog by Sincerely, Sara D, where you can find a handy tutorial on how to DIY a fabric wall.

Starched-Fabric-Wall-Tutorial.jpg


decorate your rental with Washi tape

I have seen this done on Pinterest and I love how versatile this stuff is. You can decorate virtually anything with washi tape and it doesn’t leave any damage. Create a confetti wall, a chevron pattern, words, lines, mountain shapes, the options are endless. Decorate walls, but don’t forget the doors, the edges of shelves, the back of cupboards or create ‘picture frames’ with the tape. In kids rooms you can really go to town with this stuff. How about a house? Or a road? Or a bear? With the geometric trend still going strong, your rental flat will look very modern in a flash. To find washi tape try your favourite stationary shop for some or order them in sets from Etsy.

mural-de-quadros-emoldurados-com-washi-tape.jpg

kidsroomwashi.png

porta-personalizada-com-decoracao-de-washi-tape.jpg


Change the light shades in your rental

You probably thought of this one yourself, but if not, go and change out your light shades. We arrived in an unfurnished house in Spain, which meant bare wires hanging from the ceiling, so we have to do even more than just changing out a shade (!), but mostly you’ll find dusty old shades or other light fittings that are easily replaceable while you are living there. A nice shade can really set the mood for a room, so pick wisely to make an impact. Try Artisanti for some elegant, quality lighting.


decorate your rental: Cover the floor

Cream carpet? Ugly tiles? Invest in a nice big rug to cover that up. Check Kukoon for some regular offers and free delivery in the UK.

ruglivingroom.png


Self adhesive picture hooks

You may find a few conveniently placed screws in the walls of your rental already, in which case, just hang up your framed artwork straight away. If not, and the landlord doesn’t want you to add any more holes to the walls, try heavy duty self adhesive hooks. There are plenty available from Amazon.

il_570xN.1414101047_dikk.jpg

Happy rental decorating!

 

 

Prepare your house for selling: 7 tips to style your home

We have just put our house on the market and that meant we had to make it look great for potential buyers. To prepare your house for selling means a lot of decluttering. I cleared out little by little for months, which is quite a nice thing to do believe it or not. The letting go of stuff, the minimising, the emptying out, it is all rather therapeutic.

Our house, which we redecorated top to bottom, remodeled and upgraded over the past ten years, is up for sale. I thought I’d share some tips to help you prepare your house for selling if you happen to be in the same position. We ended up taking all furniture with us to our next home already, so the house is currently empty. At least the photos for the advertisement were done before, to give viewers a good idea of what the house can look like when furnished. Here’s what we did.


How do you prepare your house for selling?

1. Pretend to be a viewer

To get a better idea of what work needs to be done to prepare your house for selling, have a walk through. Pretend to be a potential buyer. Come in through the front door. What do you see? Is there anything that catches your eye? What do you like and what annoys you? Take a note pad and scribble your comments while wandering from room to room. Once you’re done, make the changes. A good idea is to ask a friend or neighbour to come in with a fresh pair of eyes and give some honest feedback – sometimes you don’t see things yourself when you’ve been so busy doing all the work.

Prepare your house for selling. Styling tips for your home
All shoes, bags, jackets neatly stored away in the hallway, nothing on the stairs. Mail and paperwork sorted out and cleared from the landing spaces.

2. Put the toys away

When you prepare your house for selling, you’d better clear all Lego away. Put those action figures in the cupboard and drag toy cars from under the sofa. You may have a busy family and all the junk that comes with it but no one needs to see that. It’s tricky to keep the house tidy all the time when you still live in it, but try to clear stuff away at least for the photos. Have a few nice big storage baskets handy for when viewings are booked and you quickly need to clear the decks.

Prepare your house for selling. Styling tips for your home
Books and toys stored on the shelves, in baskets or put away in drawers for the time being. Bed made up neatly with a neutral cream woolen blanket on top, with added throw cushions. I also added three new pictures above the bed, replacing the more personal ones.

3. Clear away your own clutter

How many vases do you need in your window? How many picture frames or knick knacks? If you want to keep them, put them in a box under the bed or in the cupboard for now. Spaces look better with clean lines and clear surfaces. It doesn’t need to look like a house that’s not loved or lived in, but viewers may see themselves living in your house better when the shelves are not full of personal items and family photos. You’ve got to pack them anyway at some point anyway, right?

Prepare your housee for selling. Styling tips for your home
The kitchen never looked so tidy! All clutter put away, with just a few items remaining on the worktop. Jars tidied, some fresh fruit in the bowl. And don’t forget to polish that cooker hood!

4. Store excess furniture

You may have needed that extra armchair, comfy foot stool or side table in the lounge because it worked for you and your family, but the room will look bigger and tidier if you only leave the necessary pieces in. A sofa, an armchair or maybe two if space allows, a coffee table, perhaps a sideboard or lamp table, that should be sufficient. Store extra furniture in the garage or shed for the time being.

Prepare your house for selling. Styling tips for your home
I took out some excess furniture such as a chair which I used to put my clothes on at night. It makes the room look a lot neater and more spacious. Books tidied, lamps straightened, curtains open. A nice throw can make a real difference to the bed.

5. Buy some new throw cushions or blankets

You may already have lovely pretty soft furnishings all over the house, but perhaps the cushions on the sofa have seen better days and the blanket on the bed is your dog’s favourite. Buying a few fresh new cushions and blankets for your living room or bedrooms will freshen up the look and will add colour and interest to the spaces. They don’t need to be expensive, try your local supermarket, Ikea or other affordable high street stores for some quick updates.

Prepare your house for selling. Styling tips for your home

2388187.jpg


6. place Fresh flowers and house plants

A house looks cared for when there are fresh flowers on the kitchen table and leafy plants around the house. A bit of greenery can do miracles for a room.

7. Tidy up the garden – or dig out some summer pictures

Our garden is large and it was winter when the photographer came around. Not great for pictures. Dead plants, snowy patches, no leafy trees. We still tidied up the garden furniture and potted plants and cleared away any stray toys from the lawn. We also found some photos of the garden in summertime. This helps viewers get a better idea of what the garden looks like in its full glory when the sun is out.

Prepare your house for selling. Styling tips
If you are selling in the winter months, a photo of your garden taken on a nice day last year may help give the buyer a better idea of what the garden looks like in summer.

Bonus tip: use baby wipes to get marks off walls!

Before you get the pain brush out to redecorate the walls when all of a sudden you spot all those marks and hand prints, sometimes all it needs is a baby wipe and some elbow grease to get rid of them or at least make them less visible. If all else fails, by all means go over it with the emulsion, but I tell you, just give it a try 😉

Have you tried any particular thing to sell your house?

For anyone interested in finding out more about our house, please visit www.aspc.co.uk for more pictures, the full details and to book viewings.