Once upon a time, there lived a girl from Essex. She had a really good job, a car with only two doors and plenty of time to daydream about how stylish her house would be when she chose to simply hop onto the property ladder one day. She took long walks by the river, actually pausing to admire the scenery, the way the sun caught the ripples of the water as it meandered its way back to the sea…
There would be sumptuous white sofas adorned with pillows just so, acres of shiny tiles without a cheerio in sight and the plushest of carpets devoid of even the hint of dog wee. The garden would be manicured just right with tapering box trees and twinkling water features, no footballs or scooters would taint this landscape oh no.
I awoke from my reminiscing with a start, sweaty and itchy, my hands smelling faintly of dog poo. This surely could not be my life. Where had I gone wrong? Had I merely pulled into the wrong driveway? Perhaps swallowed the blue pill and not the red? Jumped down the wrong rabbit hole?
Alas, I only joke (well kind of anyway). The younger, thinner, version of me had these idealised and unrealistic goals of what my home would be like. There would be no mucky children, no stinky pets in this Utopia. But fast forward two stone in weight, fifteen years, one fiance, two children, two cats, one dog and seven chickens later (forgive me the correct order, it has been a long day) and here I am in my Luxe in the Cottage.
It is simply not feasible or practical to aim for a perfect show home when you have a family and verging on farm existence. If you tell me it is then you must have a cleaner, zoo keeper and team of nannies on hand (if you do, please could they pop round to mine once or twice a week?) Kids have this innate sense that you have just finished cleaning the floor and so now is the perfect time to get out the paint set. Toilet training a five-year old boy is also life threatening. He is a wild shot and I literally have a pack of antiseptic wipes attached to my belt, ready to whip out and wipe up .
I wouldn’t change any of it for a second, not a blink. Picking Lego out of my sheepskin rug and arranging Marvel characters in their correct order according to the five-year old is my everyday and a pretty fine life to be fair. But it does mean compromise. I simply could not justify the stunning Tom Dixon pendant lights I coveted so much. Here they are in all their golden glory…
Instead I plumped for a rather lovely pink and grey ensemble from Made.com that I have had so many gorgeous comments about and look better, different and a bit quirky. They were a mere fraction of the price of one Tom Dixon light and enabled me to splurge on a top-notch induction hob and boiling water tap.
I was lucky enough to be given a table and set of chairs from my parents when they down sized the family home. After three years I felt it didn’t really fit in so decided to give it a face lift. Several coats of Graphite Rustoleum later and I was much happier with the result. I gave the edge a couple of coats of Gold Montana spray paint (which is the best I have found anywhere but, unlike myself, do spray outside. I ended up spraying the whole of my downstairs tiles and the bottoms of my feet in a fine mist of it which I’m still cleaning off to date – the floor, not my feet obvs).
I found some bargain dining chairs in a gorgeous pale green velvet from Amazon. I sprayed the bottom 4 inches of the legs to match the trim on the table. Now I just need to varnish the top of the table but I might invest in a sheet of glass if I can find some cheap enough.
B E F O R E
A F T E R
If the me of now had told the vibrant, skinny, glossy haired me of fifteen years ago that I would be most happiest scavenging around in second-hand shops and thrifting all over town, I would have laughed (literally HOWLED) in your face. I cannot explain the thrill I get taking something rather crap and turning it into something marginally less crappy. Take, for instance, my bargain nine pound trolley that the lovely Claire from The Old Saddlers shop found for me. After a bit of cleaning, tinkering and styling I absolutely adore it in its new home in my dining area.
When LOML and I first moved in together he mentioned to me in passing that he was bringing a house plant with him. Well, I remember the hairs on my arms rising up in panic. A living thing in the house. Plants are for the garden, I told him sternly and that was that. In hindsight and after LOML told me it was a large Monstera, I have kicked myself several times. Now I am absolutely living indoor plants.
There are a number of fabulous accounts on Instagram brimming with beautiful plants that have inspired me to inject some real life green things into our home. However plants are expensive I am discovering. A couple of lovely ladies have given me advice on the best places to buy indoor plants and funnily enough the best places are eBay and Gumtree. Here are my newest additions to the family.
I’m hoping to eventually purvey some of these beauties, but in the meantime, Gumtree I will trawling…
As always, thank you so much for reading. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or inspiring tales to tell.