Five easy eco-friendly swaps you can do in your bathroom right now

Shampoo bottles, make-up wipes, toothbrushes, period pads, shower gel and razors…go and count the amount of plastic and wasteful items you have in your bathroom today. I know, right? But do you know it is actually not that hard to avoid single-use and plastic bath and beauty products and swap them for stuff that doesn’t harm the planet? I mean, people went without plastic for centuries before us, so surely we can do it again. Next time you need to get some new supplies, consider not buying your usual brands and products, but instead try this. Here are five easy zero-waste suggestions for your bathroom.

1. Shampoo bars

Lush has been selling these for years. I am currently using Lush’s Seanik shampoo bar, which smells lovely, gives plenty of lather and leaves my (slightly oily) hair clean and soft. There are plenty of other shops selling them too and you may also find shampoo bars on your local craft markets and Etsy, handmade by soap making fans. Or why not have a go at making them yourself?. Shampoo bars are basically are soap bars, with natural ingredients good for cleaning hair. Rub them on your wet hair in the shower and wash your hair as normal. It is handy to buy a metal tin with it to keep the shampoo bar clean and intact and make it easier to take with you to the gym or trips away. And not just shampoo comes in bars, conditioner is available too, as is of course normal soap. Nothing needs to come home in a plastic bottle no more. Let’s go back to the bar!

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2. Bamboo tooth brushes

Imagine how many tooth brushes you have used in your lifetime. Now imagine where they all are in the world right now. Because they are not biodegradable. Time to rethink the brush! If you are using an electrical brush, this won’t be an option (or maybe yes!), but these lovely bamboo tooth brushes do an excellent job in caring for your teeth and for the planet. I have just started using my first ever bamboo brush and it works perfectly.

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Buy a family pack bamboo tooth brushes on Etsy

3. Metal razors

My husband needs to shave pretty much daily and recently decided to ditch the plastic throwaway razors in favour of an old fashioned, durable metal safety razor, with doubled edge blades. Of course it also comes with a bowl, soap and a nice brush. Take extra care, these double edged blades are sharp and shaving may turn into a bit of a dangerous act if you expect the same job as your plastic razor. But a lovely smooth shave it gives. You’ll never want to look at Gilette again. Try specialist shops in town or online, the better department stores or Amazon.

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4. Plastic free periods!

Someone on Facebook posted a funny video about menstrual cups a few years ago, so I got curious and decided to buy one. My goodness, what a life changer! Best thing since sliced bread. Day 1 still requires a backup pad, but that would be the same with tampons if you have a heavy flow. For this I have just bought some pretty fabric washable pads or you can get organic pads that are biodegradable. There’s even period-proof underwear. You don’t notice the cup at all, making your period a complete breeze. You empty the cup once or twice a day, clean it under the tap, and use it again. The cups are made of silicon, a very safe material that does not contain chemicals nor harbour bacteria like tampons would. It does take a bit of practice and some brands may suit you better than others. There are quite a few different ones on the market (here is lots of information on how to choose the perfect one for you. There are also heaps of videos on Youtube explaining the use. I am personally very happy with my Divacup.). Also, you will get very familiar with your female body parts, which you will have to feel comfortable about. But I will never go back to tampons, that’s for sure.

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5. Make-up removal pads

Do you use throwaway face wipes to get your makeup off at night? Maybe time for a rethink, especially after reading this article. How hard is it to just have a jar of reusable cloths and make-up pads sitting in a jar or basket on your dressing table? Throw them in the wash and use them again. Not rocket science and really something we should all be doing right now. No more throwaway plastic wipes. Not difficult to make yourself some washable face cloths, from some jersey fabric or old towels cut into squares or circles. Or just use simple shop bought terry wash cloths.

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Set of seven pads available on Etsy


A few online ethical / organic stores to check out

Etsy – the eco-friendly bathroom selection
The Ethical Superstore
Big Green Smile UK
Green People


 

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.

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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?

Book tips: the most inspiring interiors

Are you always looking for inspiring interiors? Do you love flicking through a beautiful book full of pretty homes? 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?).


inspiring interiors: from boho to Scandinavian minimalism

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!

Buy the book

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Her best-seller book Styled is the ultimate guide to thinking like a stylist. It contains 1,000 design ideas for creating the most beautiful, personal, and liveable rooms. How is that for finding ideas for inspiring interiors? 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. It also 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 alive sometimes. This beautiful thick book from the founders of the Urban Jungle Bloggers community is a fantastic. resource full of stunning inspirational photos. The book shows 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.

Buy the book

urban-jungle-bloggers-book-living-and-styling-with-plants-the-future-kept-3_grandeUrban Jungle book


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. Plenty of inspiring interiors here. 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.

Buy the book

Niki BrantmarkNiki Brantmark

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.

 

Decorating with vintage: how to get it right

Decorating with vintage, do you know how to do it? Where do people find all these perfect vintage pieces of furniture and objects? How do they put it all together?

DECORATING WITH VINTAGE- HOW TO GET IT RIGHT

5 Tips for Decorating with Vintage:

  • Buy what you love

Your home should be pleasing to your eye. You have to live there, so buy what you love! 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! Decorating with vintage should be fun, so be brave.

Decorating with vintage
Image: My Scandinavian Home

 


  • 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. When decorating with vintage 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 everything new – you can get a catalogue 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.

 

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Image: Design Soda

  • 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.  When decorating with vintage 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.

Decorating with vintage
Image: The Future Kept
decorating with vintage
Image: Projektila

  • 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?

Five tips to promote your creative business online

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I meet many talented local artists, makers and people who aspire to or have just set up their own creative business. I have met lots of them since I started my own business five years ago – but also before that in my previous job as marketing/audience development consultant in the arts sector. Most of them are women, trying to build a business that will fit around their family. I am no different. And we all struggle with the same question: how do we best promote what we do and where?

I have always worked on a shoestring budget, or actually no budget at all and have somehow managed to get my business name known and steadily grow my business. How did I do this? Don’t get me wrong – I have have so much to learn and improve in how I run and promote my business – you live and learn and fall and get back up – but today I will share some of the things that have helped me promote my business  online and ‘get my name out there’ in the first years of setting up.

1. Be social

Before we get into the online bit, here is tip one: networking is very important, both online and offline. Knowing lots of people helps. Go to local business events, workshops, talks. Speak to people, exchange business cards, ask questions. Chances are you will always come away with at least one new idea, useful contact or bit of info that will help you move forward. Not everyone is comfortable introducing themselves to new people at such events, but just remember that people are all there for the same reasons: they want to learn something new and meet new people. So don’t be shy, because you have something pretty cool to talk about: your business.

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Online marketing means you have to be on social media – there is no way around it. But it is fun, mostly free (with a much bigger effect than any paid advertising will ever have) and with the right approach it can really make your brand and product stand out and reach a big audience.Yes, it can be all consuming and rather addictive even, but if you choose your accounts wisely and set dedicated time aside to update them regularly (or use an app like hootsuite to schedule posts and update them all simultaneously for you), then it is not so daunting.

I won’t go into the detail of every social media platform, as most of you are on it already and plenty info can be found on the internet, but it seems that Facebook and Twitter are still the most popular. On Facebook you can easily set up a Page for your business, sharing news and photos, videos and links. Nina’s Apartment currently has just under 5,000 Likes which didn’t happen overnight but grew through being engaging, entertaining – paying for some posts every now and then (you can boost a post to reach more people for not too much money if you have something very important you want to share) and just generally being active on it. I love Facebook and the interaction with customers and ‘Likers’ and it is also pretty easy now to integrate apps such as the Mailchimp newsletter and Shopify (the online shop system I have used).

Twitter is very different for example, with the added challenge of saying something worth reading  in only 140 characters. However, I find Twitter particularly useful for following professionals, journalists and bloggers in the industry. If you are active on Twitter and start to reply to tweets by people you want to connect with (or be seen by), it is not too difficult to all of a sudden be speaking to a celebrity! That’s the beauty of social media – the formal barriers are not there and people are generally more easily approachable. And so should you be.

2. Be human

Social media is about showing the human face behind your business. It is about connecting with your customers, lowering the threshold, having a conversation. Smile, be nice, be yourself. Your website can be more static and informative – your social media activity however should be fun. An informal, friendly voice talking about what you do and why you do it, rather than a one-way stream of information about opening hours and what you have on offer this week. Listening to people as much as talking to them (and not at them – get it?) is a helpful way to find out what your customers need and think of your business. The ultimate goal of being on social media is to make people want to be part of what you do, to love your brand and tell others about it. Because once you get the ball rolling, social media really is ‘word of mouth on steroids’.

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3. Be consistent

To establish your business name and brand (and remember, a ‘brand’ is not just a logo, it is the whole package: from type font to customer service!) you want to create recognition. A consistent use of logo, colours, images, type font and tone of voice are therefore pretty important in order to come across as someone who knows what she’s doing. Decide how you want to be seen, what look or style you want to portray and stick with it across all of your marketing. It will make your material online and offline look professional, coherent and recognisable.

4. Be pretty

I am not talking about your looks here. I mean the way your business is portrayed in everything you put out. If you design or craft things you want to sell or get seen, make sure your photography is up to scratch too – and consistent. Ever been on Etsy? You are probably drawn to those pictures that are really making the product stand out: white back ground, no clutter, beautiful styling. Keep this in mind when taking photos of your own products. Don’t make things too complicated though, just use what you have already and your imagination. I take all photos on my iphone 5, usually against the same concrete wall background (consistency!), then editing them with the built in image app or putting filters on them in Instagram. There are lots of great free mobile apps available too to turn photos into videos / slideshows, add text, or turn them into collages. All very useful to make your product look pretty and draw attention to your business on social media.

 

Six-Things-Etsy
Image via Lobster and Swan

 

5. Be everywhere

Having an actual website is still a good idea, despite having your social media accounts. A website is your base, your home, the place where all your social media leads back to. This can be an online shop or a blog (my website/blog is built on WordPress) or a professionally built website – that is up to you. But everything you put out on social media should lead back to the base. And make sure you can be found. Paying a bit on Google Adwords is worth it if you want to drive people to an online store or actual local shop with an address. There is an awful lot to learn about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) which I am still learning more about. Basics? Pay attention to all descriptions, words you use in titles, image captions, links – and get others to link back to your website too.

An email newsletter is a great tool to directly contact your customers. Collecting email addresses is therefore a good idea next time you are at an event or fair. Apps Like   Mailchimp are free and easy to use and make your newsletters look professional and attractive. These apps also offer very useful insights in who opens and clicks on links, telling you a lot about those people who are most interested in what you do.

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As for social media, pick a few social platforms that you like and are happy to commit to on ideally a daily basis – yes you need to post frequently! My opinion on what social media work best? Facebook is great for building a local audience, getting your posts shared, talking to your customers, promoting your product and sometimes finding a buyer for it. Twitter is great for following people in the industry and connecting with professionals – and so is LinkedIn.

Pinterest…oh Pinterest. My favourite! Great for inspiration and highly addictive, but it can also be another tool for yourself to promote your products/business – linking back to your website. Did you know that red items photographed against a white background are the most ‘pinned’ images on Pinterest? Together with those that contain text? I know, so much to learn.
Instagram, another favourite of mine, has the benefit that any photo can be made to look pretty cool with the available filters. Instagram is great to feature your products but you can also share fun, informal photos of yourself at work or the things that matter to you, finding like-minded people all over the world, fellow creatives and also get (local) people to follow what you do. Basically, it is just another platform to show off what you do and build your reputation. I know a lot of people who successfully use Youtube or Vimeo as well to boost their reputation and follower numbers. How about creating little ‘how-to’ videos or demos about what you do? Or a tour around your shop or studio?  Videos have the added bonus of rating higher on Facebook, reaching more people.

pinterest-logo

Last but not least: start a blog. Don’t like writing? Just post beautiful pictures. A blog is another way of creating a following and adding something to the online mix. It is something I personally love doing and am committed to. I love writing. I blog about my business, but also about interior design in general, the styles I like, things that inspire me, etc. The goal of my blog is to provide a beautiful, entertaining and informative site that people like looking at and reading – with the additional opportunity for them to buy my products/services if they feel inspired and want to find something beautiful for their home.  So I am not trying to flog my products and services constantly – because that would be plain annoying – but rather aim to offer an attractive ‘package’ that hopefully makes people want to come back to again and again because they like hanging out with me and my brand. And that is the key in all social media: be social, not pushy. And just be yourself.



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1:1 Surgeries
For small creative startup businesses

Feeling inspired and want to learn more? You can now book a 1:1 surgery with Nina Eggens of Nina’s Apartment. Nina has over fifteen years experience working in marketing and pr in the creative sector – plus she knows first hand what it is like to start a creative business from scratch. She is passionate about helping others start up their own creative businesses and can help you feel more confident in promoting yourself and your products online and offline. A 90 minute session costs £45 and could include an online marketing ‘health check’, practical help in setting up social media accounts or simply the opportunity to ask lots of burning questions about promoting what you do and what to do next in your journey of setting up your business.

Get in touch for more information.

Easy care house plants and how to keep them alive

I love house plants. I think it must be a bit of a Dutch thing, as they seem to be far more popular in The Netherlands than over in the UK. Drive down any Dutch street and you’ll find most windows full of flowers and plants. Luckily bringing the outdoors indoors and surrounding yourself with greenery is very on trend this year, so I decided to dedicate a blog post to it.

Sanseviera

The trusted Sansevieria, easy to grow and healthy for your house.

My grandmother used to have the greenest fingers ever and had wonderful lush plants all around the living room. I inherited her ‘sansevieria’ or snake plant after she past away, which amazingly survived my student years in my small bed sit, and I am pleased to say it is still alive – and thriving – now living with my sister. She re-potted it into a larger pot and it has grown much since. The plant must be well over thirty years old now as it appears in many childhood photographs. Strong little fella.


Air purifying plants

Another amazing bit of knowledge? Sansevierias improve indoor air quality. This plant is one of the best for filtering out formaldehyde (ugh!), which is common in cleaning products, toilet paper, tissues and personal care products. Put one in your bathroom — it’ll thrive with low light and steamy humid conditions while helping filter out air pollutants. Who knew. Here are some other low maintenance plants with amazing air cleaning properties:
  • Peace Lily (Spathifyllum)
  • Rubber plant (Ficus elastica)
  • English ivy
  • Aloe vera
  • Heartleaf philondendron
  • Spider plant

snake plant in bedroom
Img: My Domaine
Green fingers, me? I don’t really have green fingers, or at least I have never put much time and effort into learning about plants and how to keep them healthy. I think I am probably not alone on this one when I say I am always a little scared to buy a house plant as they usually die. You too? Well, here are some more useful tips and advice from around the net on how to care for house plants, as well as how to make them look uber stylish in your interior.

 

hard to kill house plant list

 


A lot of these plants have kind of ‘fatty’ leaves, which means they are forgiving when you accidentily forget to water them. If you are short of space, succulents are an example of this type of plant, looking very cute and pretty and small containers or cups lines up on a shelf.

succulents in teacups
A cute way to upcycle those vintage teacups! Plant a succulent in them. Img: Brit + Co
 

 


Terrarium 

Another great idea if you are looking for low maintenance house plants is to buy a ‘terrarium’: basically a glass bowl with succulents and other draught tolerant plants, nicely arranged like a kind of ‘mini garden’. We are currently stocking some by The Potting Shed. Have a look here.

terrarium with succulents
Terrarium by The Potting Shed


Fiddle Leaf fig

The fiddle leave fig plant or ficus lyrata keeps popping up in all of my favourite images on Pinterest just now, so I want to share some tips with you on how to care for one at home. I own one and mine has started to show some brown spots and edges, so I am definitely going to try some of the advice mentioned here. Important tip: clean the leaves, as they get very dusty! Wiping them down with a mixture of water and milk apparently works wonders.
mid century interior with house plants
Gorgeous sideboard surrounded by the fiddle leaf fig and other plants. Img Topista
 
fiddle leaf fig

The beautiful fiddle leaf fig tree. Img: Angi Welsch


Plants and a mid century table
Who says plants need a window? As long as they get the right amount of light, you can place them anywhere. Img: Blood and Champagne
 

bathroom with plants
Plants in the bathroom look great and help purifying the air img: Design*Sponge

 


Hanging gardens

 
Love the hanging gardens look that is very trendy right now? You can hang any plant of course, but some are more suitable if you want to have them trailing down from their pot, such as the spider plant or ivy. If you fancy having a go at DIY-ing your own macrame planter, click here.
hanging plants in boutique Wilderness Amsterdam
Boutique Wilderness in Amsterdam img Lili in Wonderland
 

 

If all else fails, buy a cactus!

Still too scared to buy a plant with leaves? You could of course go down the artificial route, but not sure if having a plastic plant in your bathroom will have the same air purifying properties as a real one! There’s always the option to buy a cactus. Looking cool, and surviving on very, very little.

cacti in a nice interior with blue chair
Image: Bloglovin

How to create a cool interior with mid-century furniture

“Oh my goodness, my mum had one just like that!”….
“It’s like walking into my auntie’s house”….
“I know folk who burnt a whole lot of these on the bonfire, that’s what they used to do”

Yep, that’s what I hear in my shop almost on a weekly basis! I sell old furniture that for some people is too much ‘like their childhood’, or is ‘too recent’ for others. But I love it. And this is why.

The wonderful Mies van der Rohe pavillion in Barcelona
http://www.themodernist.co.uk/2011/12/ludwieg-mies-van-der-rohe/
 —
Danish architect and designer Arne Jacobsen,
who made the famous ‘Ant’ chair

In Groningen, The Netherlands, where I am originally from, I studied Architecture History with the emphasis on the 20th century. Modernism was a big part of the course and that is most definitely where I got my passion for form and design. A lot of architects, such as Juhl, Eames, Mies van der Rohe, Jacobsen and Le Corbusier are not only responsible for revolutionary buildings, but created some of the most iconic pieces of furniture too. If you have ever visited Barcelona you might have come across the gorgeous pavillion by modernist Mies van der Rohe (pictured above). Would you believe this was built in 1929?

The Eames DSW chair

A lot of great chairs have been produced by these guys too. Who doesn’t know the famous ‘Eames chair’ from the 1950s, that is still being produced and more popular than ever? Mies van der Rohe’s ‘Barcelona chair’ is still in such high demand that there are now numerous companies around selling reproductions.

It is the attention to detail, the love for material and the belief that ‘form follows function’ rather than to adorn a piece of furniture – or building – with unnecessary decoration, that make these ‘vintage’ designs into timeless classics. Buildings are ‘light and open’ instead of dark and heavy and so are the chairs, tables and sideboards.

Danish architect Finn Juhl’s house in Copenhagen. http://www.finnjuhl.com/inspiration/inspiration-finn-juhls-house-copenhagen-2/
A Danish style sideboard combined with a Mies van der Rohe ‘Barcelona’ day bed and some bold artwork. http://www.pinterest.com/pin/259027416041155470/

 

A 1960s tallboy that may have ended up on the bonfire if I hadn’t
rescued it, polished it up and painted the outside grey to cover
the stained top.

The key to a great looking interior with these vintage pieces though is to create a cool mix. Don’t buy a complete matching set of 1960s teak furniture or you will recreate your auntie’s house (especially if you get that orange Hornsea coffee pot out as well). Buy a good solid mid-century sideboard, hang a large bold painting or photograph above it, invest in a great new sofa from a designer shop (or get a budget one from Ikea 😉 and add old and new accessories you find on your travels to make the room truly your own. And keep it light and airy.

When you visit my little shop you will often find teak sideboards and chests of drawers, 1960s dining room sets and Scandinavian looking armchairs of at least 40 years old. Some pieces I paint when I think they look better in a different colour or are too damaged to sell as they are. Some chairs I recover to give them an updated look. But all items are chosen because I really liked them.

The word ‘vintage’ is terribly trendy at the moment and the word ‘retro’ always reminds me of brown and orange psychedelic wallpaper (and that matching Hornsea coffee set). When I select furniture for the shop I go for pieces that have a beautiful shape, are well made and would look just as good in a modern home as they did 50 or so years ago. While I can’t promise you that all pieces found at Nina’s Apartment are designed by famous architects and designers (but I do my best to hunt them down!), I do promise that they will be great examples of beautiful & classic design.

Is this 1960s dining set still reminding you of your auntie’s house?
http://www.pinterest.com/pin/259027416042566364/

 

A great looking dining room with some prime examples of mid-century modern design
http://www.pinterest.com/pin/259027416042407314/

Feeling creative: pom poms, t-shirt yarn and a hula hoop rug

It must be that nesting instinct setting in now I’m about seven months pregnant, but I can’t help feeling the incredible urge to make things. Sew, paint, recycle, upcycle, revamp, refurbish, you name it. I am still working my day job though, so I am just collecting lots of ideas in the meantime while still doing the 9-to-5!

Here are a few great ideas you may want to try yourself, whether expecting a baby like me, having a day off or looking for stuff to do with the kids in the holidays.

To cheer up any party or kids room, you could make a pom pom garland. Remember those? We used to make them in primary school all the time. Now it’s time for the grown-up version! If a garland looks more like a week’s work than something you’re able to do in an afternoon, why not keep it simple and make a few to dispense from the ceiling? If you’re really lazy you can of course just buy them from other creatives down at Etsy.

 

This tutorial from Craftaholics Anonymous (great name!) shows you how to make fluffy pom poms made from t-shirt yarn (you know, ‘wool’ made from old tees – see how to make your own yarn here). Very nice.

 

Another cool looking project is the ‘hula hoop rug’, woven from t-shirt yarn. I’d love to give this a try. Looks pretty easy, no? I am crazy about those chunky knitted rugs and poufs at the moment, but I have no idea how to knit them. This seems to be an easy way to create something similar. Not sure about the bold colours in the one pictured, but I’m sure you could turn it into something quite sophisticated by using greys, deep purples or reds instead. Here’s the How-To

familyfun.go.com

 

Making furniture out of old pallets

I am a big fan of recycling, or in other words, making sure that something doesn’t end up in the skip. I love seeing old wood being reused and pallets are an easy way to get your hands on some cheap, rustic looking and very versatile wood.

I found some examples of reused pallets on www.folksy.com, but… £180 for coffee table made from a reclaimed old pallet? It doesn’t look that difficult to screw four wheels under a pallet, give the thing a good varnish and get a cut-to-size piece of glass to put on top of it, does it?

Image: mobius-living.co.uk

Hold on, I just came across this Studio5 website with some tutorials on it… Time to save some money, folks! Tutorial: How to make a coffee table out of a pallet

And another great looking coffee table here… And you know what? I’ve got the tutorial here just for you: pallet coffee table tutorial

You may be charging £180 for your own home-made creations soon!

 

This design is very nice too, an ottoman designed by BCK design from Canada. Looks very contemporary, beautiful and functional at the same time.

Image: Designspotter.com

 

The lovely Recicla e Decora blog also shows a great number of recycled pallet projects (although I can’t understand the Portuguese text – I always enjoy the pictures!). What about this shoe rack…? I know, a bit basic…but an original idea.

 

Image: recicla e decora

One of my favourites is this rustic bench and a similar one was shown in the BBC gardening programme Gardeners World last Summer. I’m pleased to say there’s a video tutorial for it on the BBC website. It’s not the most glamorous looking thing, but hey, it’s a pallet – what do you expect!

Image: treesandthings via GrowsonYou

Pallets are not just great for making tables and benches, London based Studiomama also makes lamps out of them.

Image: studiomama

That’s it for today! But if you still can’t get enough of pallets and the magic you can create with them, go and have a look on www.greenupgrader.com, for many more ideas and “The 8 best resources for Building with Pallets“.

Time to dive into the skip, I think, and find some old planks…