Why you should be independent shopping this Christmas

independent shopping

Why independent shopping?

Independent shopping has become a hot topic, and with chains littering the high street it’s easy to see why. I for one am tired of poor quality mass produced items. And as more independent stores open across the country, it would seem that a lot of other people are too. My own hometown, Norwich, has seen a rise in independent stores and cafes, and they are thriving. But why? Well there are a lot of great reasons why you should be independent shopping:

  • Quality products
  • Unique gifts with a story
  • Support your local shops
  • Help someone do something they love

Where should I shop?

Well that’s entirely up to you. You may have some great local businesses and stores nearby. But if you don’t, or you just fancy checking out somewhere new, I have a few recommendations for you:

  • Trouva
    • This is the place for independent shopping. With boutiques across the UK you can shop from the comfort of your own home – or office desk etc – to find the perfect item for you and your loved ones. My current favourite is: Blabar
  • Stranger London
    • This one is for those who want a little bit of magic into their life, and homes. Run by my friend Yasumi, she focuses on unique pieces that scream adventure & personal wellbeing. The store boasts handmade pieces with nods to Japan, UK and Scandinavia. I’m a personal fan of her thread sketches.
  • Weathered Penny
    • If you’re into jewellery, this is the store for you. Their pieces come in a variety of contemporary styles, and they won’t break the bank. I love the hand earrings.
  • Triangle
    • Their choice of products is well thought out; they’re simple, functional and let’s be honest, aesthetically pleasing.
  • Aida
    • This is one of my favourite local stores for fashion, and not only because they have their own cafe on the shop floor. They carry a range of quality brands such as Rains, Veja, and Mads Nørgaard.
  • Botany
    • For the plant lovers and homeware addicts out there. I often stop by Botany’s store to browse their selection of plants. And I love that they offer workshops for those who really want to get hands-on.

 

Keep an eye out for my Christmas gift guides, coming soon!

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Images are courtesy of Trouva, however all views, suggestions and words are my own.

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The Art of Slow Living: Is It Possible In London?

slow livingSlow Living: Is It Possible In London?

Several years ago I decided to up and change the way I looked at my approach to life. Basically I wasn’t happy. I decided that I was moving too fast, and I needed a break. That meant looking at the way I live, and the everyday things I do. A lifestyle and mentality rebrand, if you will. But let’s be honest, nothing is that straight forward. And is it even possible to incorporate slow living into a London lifestyle?

Slow Living in London

Over the past year I set out to try and find a way to bring the lifestyle concept of slow living into…well, my life. Our society is based on fast fashion, fast food, and even fast lifestyles. If you’re not living fast, then you’re not living at all. At least that’s what people say. I soon realised it wasn’t going to be easy, and the hardest part was figuring out what ‘slow living’ even meant to me.

  1. Stop being so materialistic. I told myself it’s good to have nice things, but it doesn’t mean anything if they have no value, and I don’t mean monetary. I’m talking about objects/experiences that have meaning. Like the expensive pair of sneakers I had wanted for years, which I finally bought myself with the first pay check from my new job.
  2. Quality over quantity. Whereas before I probably bought myself an item of clothing or went to a new restaurant every week, now I do it about once or twice a month. I put more thought into what I want/need, and the design and quality of the piece. I’d rather spend a little more on something that lasts longer and works better, than buy a bajillion items that don’t.
  3. Enjoying the little things. Because sometimes having a G&T by candlelight at home with my friends is much more mentally rewarding than going to the latest ‘on-trend’ bar, and wasting a ton of money on overpriced drinks.
  4. Slowing down my lifestyle. Admittedly this has been the hardest step out of them all, and it’s something I’m still working on today. A lot of people in London can’t (or won’t) grasp the concept of it, and it’s understandable when you live in a city that pulls you in all directions. After a rather successful end to 2016, the first half of 2017 was pretty rough for me. But I’m now trying to get myself back on track again. It may take some time, but if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

You can follow my attempt at ‘slow living’ and read more of my help posts here.

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How To Make A Small Apartment Look Bigger | Interior

Small Apartment Look BiggerHow To Make A Small Apartment Look Bigger

I recently decided to do a big overhaul in our apartment. Over the years I’ve become pretty good at making the most of the space I have. And gradually with that has come the ability to make a space look bigger than it actually is. It’s something I have naturally picked up living in big cities with small apartments – oh hey Tokyo and London!

But one of my biggest challenges to date has been trying to add new pieces to our home. Well, without chucking out a bunch of stuff I’d really like to keep that is. The items in question? Trinkets we picked up on our travels, as well as gifts from friends. Small items that can so quickly make a small room look cluttered. So after taking on this challenge, I decided to share a few of my own personal tips on how to make a small apartment look bigger.

How To Make A Small Apartment Look Bigger

  1. Colour Scheme/Theme
    • White walls will help make a room look bigger
    • Sticking with a colour/theme will make the room look more put together (i.e not cluttered)
  2.  Storage
    • Make sure you have plenty
    • Built-in storage is heaven sent
    • Storage that doubles as decorative is even better
  3. Lighting
    • Natural lighting is primary – big windows, skylights etc
    • But if you don’t have it, try recessed lighting
  4. Buy a rug
    • Place it under your coffee table/chair to make the room look wider
    • The size of the rug should be based on how big your furniture is/size of your room
    • Light colours and basic patterns will work in most rooms
  5. Be Practical
    • Go minimal with chairs and tables
    • Choose furniture that has several purposes (e.g. hidden storage)

Items in this post:

Don’t forget to check out more of my interior posts.

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How to Create a Hygge Home – In a Nutshell

hygge homeHow to Create a Hygge Home

What is a Hygge Home?

A home that is inviting. Not pretentious, ostentatious, or any other kind of -ious. It’s a place you can come back to and forget all your worries. It may sound silly, but it’s about creating a space where you feel safe and comfortable. Having a space where you are able to drop all of your work and social worries is tough. But I truly believe that your home can be a safe haven from this kind of stress. After a long day at work, I look forward to coming home to a hot chocolate, a comfy sofa, and some good food…with the occasional cuddle thrown in for good measure. That’s hygge.

Interiors and design obviously play a big part in this too though. If you have a home that looks good, you feel good. And no that’s not shallow or fickle. It’s scientifically proven that pretty things make us happy. They can even de-stress us! That doesn’t mean you need to go out and buy a ton of new stuff, or redecorate your entire home though. I’ve put together some some useful tips,

How to Create a Hygge Home – Tips

  • Functional, but stylish
  • Quality over quantity
  • Good food, good drink, good company
  • Craftsmanship – choose items with a story
  • Lots of plants – bring a little nature into the home
  • Lighting is very important! Keep it soft, and comfortable.
    • Yes, that means lots of candles…
  • Natural fabrics and materials
    • E.g. wood, cotton, stone, glass, wool
  • Soft furnishings
    • Go on, go buy that cosy throw you always wanted

There you have it. My how to create a hygge home…in a nutshell! This is definitely not the be all end all of guides, but it is a handy go-to for those who want to bring a little hygge into their home. Don’t forget though, it’s as much about the ‘feeling’ as any material object. And now is the perfect time of year to invite people over, and spend more time with your loved ones.

Check out the rest of my ‘How to Hygge’

Read more How to Hygge

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hygge home

Flower Arranging with Marks & Spencer

Flower ArrangingFlower Arranging with Marks and Spencer

Flower arranging has always been an enchanting mystery to me. When I was younger my grandmother would always have beautiful bouquets of flowers scattered throughout her house. All of which she had arranged herself. It looked so simple, but no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t recreate it myself. In more recent years – after moving into my own apartment – the allure of fresh flowers has grown. However without any knowledge of how to arrange flowers, I was at a loss. Enter Marks and Spencer, their flower expert Simon Richards, and a special flower arranging class they set up for an intimate group of bloggers.

Flower Arranging Tip 1: Carnival of Colour

For their stand at Chelsea Flower Show this year, Marks and Spencer created their own carnival of colour. Reflecting on this, Simon’s first tip was all about adding colour to your patio, garden party, bbq, dining table etc. We were shown how to add colourful arrangements to our tables, with flowers such as peonies, sunflowers and more. The great thing about this style of arrangement is that there are no real rules. Pop them into bowls, glasses, onto plates. Scatter them across the table. Basically have your way with them.

Simon Says- have fun with colour, and be spontaneous!

Flower Arranging Tip 2: Roses/Bouquets

Next, Simon gave us tips on how to arrange the perfect hand-tied bouquet, and he did so with everyone’s favourite – the rose. Roses are a classic. No one can turn their noses up at a well groomed bouquet of roses, right? I’d had my eye on the cream and dusky pink roses all evening, so I was very excited for this tutorial. We were shown how to create an even bouquet. Starting with one flower in the middle, hold the stems around 1/3 of the way down with one hand, and gradually add flower-by-flower in a “fanning” technique; slowly rotating them as you go. Afterwards, simply wrap your ribbon/twine around the bouquet – whilst still holding it in the same place – and secure.

You can find some of the roses we used for our arranging here.

Simon Says – fan out/rotate your flowers as your add them to the bunch!

Flower Arranging Tip 3: At Home

Of course what we all want to know is how do we integrate this into our homes. They key thing here is to find a fitting vase. This could be any shape or size, as long as it fits into your interior. That said, different flowers will often look better in different types of vase. Tall, thin vases work better with a minimal amount of flowers. Whereas wider lipped vases look much nicer with large bouquets, and big blooms. I myself prefer a shorter, wider vase, which works with a variety of flowers.

Simon Says – for a contemporary look, choose a short, round vase!

Check out more photos from the event, and my attempts at flower arranging at home below.

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This post is in collaboration with Marks & Spencer however all views, photos and words are my own.

 

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A Minimalist Home, with Amara

Minimalist HomeA Minimalist Home, with Amara

It’s been exactly one year since we moved into our new bigger and brighter apartment. It’s fair to say that not only has my housing situation changed, but so has my mentality. My old apartment left little room for furniture, let alone imagination. So we made a pact. We would furnish it how we wanted, and turn this new apartment into a home.

Of course it isn’t easy, nor cheap to furnish an apartment so we have taken our time and bought pieces throughout the year. It’s fair to say that we’re at a stage where we’re around 90% happy. Ben wants more plants, and I’m after some more stylised kitchenware. However recently we thought about the addition of some practical, design items to our shelves. That’s where Amara came in!

Purchases for a Minimalist Home

The process of ordering with Amara was an easy one. The hard part was deciding on what items to buy. We definitely knew that we wanted a new clock (after ours suffered a slight injury), and bookends. However the rest just “fell” in my basket. The speaker was a logical purchase; I love my bluetooth headphones from Kreafunk, so I knew their speakers would be good quality…as well as effortlessly stylish. As for the trays, well I’ve been eyeing up the apricot and grey HAY trays since my trip to Berlin. They concept of the trays is simple: they work as an interlocking puzzle, made up of five different colour ways and shapes. Whichever you buy, they will fit into one another. It makes for a great bit of design.

I’m really happy with all of our purchases from Amara. Thanks to the “shop by room” feature it was easy to find what I wanted…and those little extras I didn’t know I wanted until I found them. Amara doesn’t only offer accessories for the home though, they have pretty much everything ranging from furniture, to kitchenware and technology. The range of prices is fair, and the variety of designers and brands is enough to suit anyone’s tastes. I hope to make space for an office of some sorts soon, and when I do, I know where my first stop will be!

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This post is in collaboration with Amara however all views, photos and words are my own.
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In The Window with Waffle Design | Lifestyle

waffle designIn The Window with Waffle Design, at Sugarhouse Studios

As soon as I stepped in front of Sugarhouse Studios, I knew I was in for a creative evening. The space houses a variety of designers and artists. However on this particular evening I was there to see Waffle Design, courtesy of In The Window. You may remember my previous visit to Daniel Heath’s studios, where I screen printed my own wallpaper. I enjoyed the insight into the designer’s world so much that I knew I had to attend the next event. Thankfully I didn’t have to wait too long.

Who and What…?

Founded by Ciara, Waffle is a fresh range of organic cotton, home interior accessories using a tactile waffle weave. Using a non-trend orientated colour palette, Ciara aims to create timeless pieces that will fit into anyone’s home. Her creations are simplistic, but never basic.

The Creative Process…

After catching up with my fellow bloggers over some delicious snacks, we were given a tour of the studio by Ciara herself. She talked to us about her design process, and what inspired her to start the company. I was inspired by not only her technique, but her impressive use of colour. One other thing I picked up on whilst wandering around her studio, was that all of her designs seem so effortless. Even so, I could tell that a lot of hard work and love had gone into each piece.

After our tour we were given the chance to create our own woven pouch, using Ciara’s method of choice. I chose a colour palette of dusky pinks and greys, something I felt reflected Waffle design and my own personal taste. Ciara was such a good teacher, that I barely needed to ask for advice. It took us around 30-40 minutes to finish our designs; clearly we weren’t experts yet. Even so time flew by as we relaxed and focused on our pieces. Afterwards Ciara finished off our pouches for us and added her signature tag.

Thanks to Waffle Design and In The Window

I learnt a new skill, whilst getting to know one of my favourite designers from In The Window. I was inspired by Ciara’s work, and her approach to design. I never really think of myself as a creative person, but meeting designers and finding out more about their pieces is incredibly inspiring to me. It pushes me to find out more about the products I buy, and the story behind them. Not only that, but it inspires me to be more productive in my own work.

You can find out more about Waffle Design, at In The Window.
Follow #LiveTheStory on Twitter and Instagram to find out more.

(Photos of me are courtesy of In The Window)

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