How to get the most from a spare bedroom – my bedroom challenge

We all like having friends and family over to stay – I certainly do.  Everyone can relax, share some food, not have to worry about who’s driving home.  However, it’s a bit of a luxury to be able to afford to have a place, whether rented or bought where one room is dedicated to the occasional guest.  If you think about it, it would probably cost less to pay to put them up in a local hotel than take on the extra rent or mortgage fees for that bigger place.  But if we are lucky enough to have a guest room it would be great if we could keep it looking Pinterest pristine for that surprise visitor.

How to get the most from a spare bedroom. Read about my spare bedroom challenge on the blog

…… but in reality, daily living takes over the area. Before you know it can become a mish-mash of a room, bit of an office, laundry room, store room…….general dumping ground.

My spare bedroom falls into that mish-mash category. In case you’ve not guessed already the above photo of the bedroom is not mine.  I’m writing this blog in that said spare bedroom while it is draped with drying washing. I would have taken a photo, but it would not have been pleasing on the eye I can assure you.

My spare bedroom is actually bigger than my own bedroom, I chose not to use it when we moved into our place as I thought it wasn’t cosy enough. So three years after moving in I’ve now decided what I do need to use it for: an occasional guest room, a home office, possibly a dining room (I live all on one level) and a winter gym.  Hmm, not sure this is going to work.

So how can I accommodate the all the needs of a spare room without it becoming a mish-mash? Well at the moment I have no instant fixes, just vague ideas, so I’m going to tackle this conundrum over the coming months and share my progress on the blog so keep reading.

I do have some limitation, restrictions, things I can’t (afford) to change. These will influence my decisions, and they are probably not so different to everyone else.  I don’t want to throw out all my furniture and buy new things fit for purpose, that would be far too easy.  Oh, and I have a king-size bed, so no option for a sofa bed solution.

I’m thinking partitioning with the furniture and using screens, but the room is quite dark as I live in a basement. It does have a large window that looks up into the trees but light is a bit of an issue, but I’m going to go with the dark theme.  You can tell I’m still mulling all this over.

I’m going to be taking my inspiration from anywhere.

This modern bedroom is multi-functional, but much bigger than mine.  It has partitions to zone the space, and although such an elaborate partition is not an option for me the zoning with furniture is a possibility.

pexels-photo-210265 bedroom with divedes

And if you’ve read my blog in the past you know I have a handy Mr Husband at the ready, so some creative building may also figure.

pexels-photo-439227 bedroom

Oh and let’s not forget my summer visit to Chatsworth House, where even a palatial English stately home they had to have a desk in the spare bedroom. I like the clever use of a high headboard to provide a disguise for the bed, and I do have a bed to disguise and it currently doesn’t have a headboard…..

So if you have any ideas let me know, but as I said earlier keep watching this space, I do love a decorating challenge.




How to get Autumn into your home decor

I love Autumn, everything starts to get a little more snugly and you can dim those lights a little earlier.  So now is the time to get the home decor all Autumn-ed up.  This certainly doesn’t mean spending any more money on new things, as we all have too much stuff and too little money, right.  We can just make Autumn come into our homes with a few bits of colour and imagination.  For me the colours of Autumn are oranges, browns and reds inspired by all those falling leaves.  How old do you have to be before your too old to swoosh your feet through Autumn leaves on the pavement? Take my word for it you are never too old.

How to bring Autumn into your home decor. See my simple fixes for getting an Autumn vibes into your home with the minimal of effort. and cost. All at

So theses are my three simple fixes to bring some Autumn into you home decor with the minimal of effort.

Number one: Cluster all those brown’s, oranges and reds together with a smattering of green of course.

My living room is grey, as is everyone it seems.  I’m not going to redecorate for the seasons, life it just too short but I can pull all my dark things together just to make it all a little richer.  These are a few of my Autumn inspired pieces I will try and showcase this Autumn. It can’t all be white decor you know.

Have a rummage around and see what furniture combo you can put together, you know that dark old chair that sits in the bedroom, maybe and few old brown books you’ve got sitting in cupboards and if the spines are all too colourful why not stack them so you just see the pages.  The dusty library will be a look of 2018.

How to bring Autumn into your home decor. See my simple fixes for getting an Autumn vibes into your home with the minimal of effort. and cost. All at

Number 2: Say it with flowers

There are so many inexpensive flowers in the supermarkets these days but if you have a garden you might be lucky enough to get them for free.  The weekend before last there was a bit of work needing doing in the garden meaning digging up a huge hydrangea, which was absolutely smoothed in flowers.  Here’s a pic of how many there were.  I couldn’t keep them all but shared them with the neighbours and grabbed some myself for an Autumnal table centre piece which has been sitting on my kitchen bench and still looking good.

How to bring Autumn into your home decor. See my simple fixes for getting an Autumn vibe into your home with the minimal of effort. and cost. All at

How to bring Autumn into your home decor. See my simple fixes for getting an Autumn vibe into your home with the minimal of effort. and cost. All at

Don’t forget the foliage either.  Bunches of twigs, pine cones scattered about the place…get creative.

Number 3: Food food food. 

I do like my food and my cooking does go a bit more rustic  in the Autumn months, not that it’s ever fine dining in my house.  So take advantage of the season and get some squashes and pumpkins.  If you don’t like to eat them then just use then as decoration.  A bowl of squashes really dress up a kitchen.  Hey and we are getting near to Halloween too so this weekend I got myself a little pumpkin and did a bit of carving, it created a great little decoration for an evening with a good friend.  The pumpkin soup I made was not so bad too (I never like to waste)

How to bring Autumn into your home decor. See my simple fixes for getting an Autumn vibe into your home with the minimal of effort. and cost. All at

The soup was great too

How to bring Autumn into your home decor. See my simple fixes for getting an Autumn vibe into your home with the minimal of effort. and cost. All at

Changing seasons for me means changing decor.  A few tweaks here are there keeps it interesting, but it doesn’t have to mean spending money and getting more stuff  – right?

Have some fun this Autumn, it’s not too late to Autumn-ise your home




Why you should explore Cadiz

It’s been a little while since I went on my summer hols, time has just whizzed and I’ve only now got around to writing about the final leg of my holiday adventure. It was to the beautiful and bustling Andalusian city of Cadiz, Spain.  If you’ve read my previous blogs you will know why I planned the trip and how much I’d already enjoyed visiting Faro and Seville along the way to Cadiz.

I arrived in Cadiz by train and my hotel was situated in the Old Town within walking distance of the station so I was keeping to my public transport philosophy of the trip.  Throughout the holiday I’d chosen to stay in small independent hotels and this one was a little gem, Hotel Las Cortes.  It couldn’t have been more central and the rooms were airy, traditional but simple. My room was 110 appropriately named La Caleta, a reference to one of the beaches in Cadiz. There was a central staircase leading up to the roof terrace, which was definitely the WOW factor and laid in front of me the atmosphere of Cadiz in one panoramic view.

The view from the roof

View from my hotel terrace in Cadiz


View from my hotel terrace in Cadiz

This part of the holiday was supposed to be the time to relax on the beach and I was not disappointed. The beaches, of which there were a few were fabulous and I was in the sea every day.

You could go to the harbour beach, Playa La Caleta

Playa La Caleta Cadiz

Or an even longer sandy beach, Playa Santa Maria del Mar

Playa Santa Maria del Mar

We spent many an early evening meandering through the squares of Cadiz or having a chilled afternoon Manzanilla in a shaded side passage.

Cadiz Cathedral

I wondered what was going on beyond the many elegant doorways.

Now we (Mr Husband was still with me) are fairly sleepy travellers, by that I mean we amble, sit and watch as everyone goes about their daily business, we tend not to go to the tourist attractions, get into shopping (except food) or party into the night. So we weren’t up too late and didn’t get to any flamenco shows, but if this is what you like then you will find it in Cadiz.  Many of our evenings were spent on the hotel roof terrace with a large glass of white watching the sun go down and taking in the views.  For me Cadiz was the highlight on my hols.

Sunset in Cadiz

I hope I get the chance to go back, you should visit if you can. Cadiz has a long and fascinating history that you should try and dig into before you visit, it’s much more than a beach resort.


Two mini DIY garden projects

It’s been a bit of a wet and dull summer this year, but no excuse I did manage to get out in the garden and undertake two mini DIY projects.  Nothing grand but I thought I’d share.

Adding some colour to the wall

The first was adding a bit of interest to an outside wall that needed some repair. Every year we give it a bit of a white-wash to brighten up a dark corner, but this year I also needed to patch up some holes where the cement grouting had fallen off. An opportunity to sprinkle in some design I thought.  I found some glass beads in a drawer, which I’d had for absolute ages so thought I would put them to better use.

My plan was to incorporate the glass beads into the cement I was going to patch with.  This is how it turned out.  Pictures sometimes say far more than words so here we go.

The glass beads… of the holes…..the cement.

First I applied the cement and then I poked in the beads.  Had to use my fingers…. I know, I know you should not use your fingers, cement is not nice stuff.  I washed quickly afterwards.

DIY garden wall project with glass beads on the blog

Once the cement was nearly dry I just cleaned off the surplus with a cloth.

DIY garden wall project with glass beads on the blog

Then when it was completely dry I painted. I painted over the beads too as the paint easily wiped / picked off when the paint had dried.

And here is the finished product – look carefully you can see a few of the other holes I filled.

DIY garden wall project with glass beads on the blog

What do you think, was this a good use of old beads?

Adding some interest to a garden planter

Now the second project.  This was really a correction to a project from last year when we (yes Mr Husband did most of the building and correcting here) built some garden planters to use as wind screens by giving them perspex panels.  However, in reality when the wind got very blustery, which was frequently the case the planters just blew over.  What a mess.  So this year we took out the perspex but I wanted to a something instead to catch the eye and provide a subtle visual screen. This needed to be very inexpensive as I’d already spent too much money on perspex!! I used string and beads…so total additional cost £3.  Here are the pics to take you on my journey.

Firstly how the planter looked with the perspex.  They looked fine but just acted like sails in the wind.

And this is the string and metal beads plus the eyelets I needed to add to the wooden uprights so I could thread the string through.

And this is the finished look.  My mother thought it looked like beads of rain on the string…which is just what I was trying to achieve (yeah).

DIY wooden garden trough project with blog

My plan for next year is to get some plant growing up the string….. let’s see how that goes.  What do you think?  I may try adding some other things to the strings to give it an Autumnal or Halloween look.

Hope these two mini projects give you some ideas, it’s great working on a simply project in the sunshine.

The Giltwood Gallery Cheltenham, a great little home decor shop

I love having a good old browse around a nicely curated shop.  I’m probably not the best customer as I rarely buy anything.  However, the person I was with did buy something so I don’t feel too guilty.

Anyway the shop in question was The Giltwood Gallery in Cheltenham UK, a town in itself worth a visit if you love fine shopping and dining out amongst grand architecture. The shop is located in the Suffolks region of Cheltenham so a bit away from the high street stores, but worth a wander as there are other decor and antiques shop in the area. I’ve had a few visits to Cheltenham recently due to family connections although I’d never visited before, so I will be bringing you the odd snippet or two.

Now back to the shop again, it stocks a variety of reasonable priced stylish home decor items and not just the same old same old. The shop is much better than the website, but be aware I don’t think it opens everyday. When we visited there was a delightful aroma filling the place, and the owner was only too happy to explain the product and give as much info as needed.

Here are my stealth pics.  I was very tempted by the leaf inspired dish, but I was moved on by Mr Husband!

giltwood gallery cheltenham home decor shop front

Giltwood Gallery home decor shop Cheltenham

Giltwood Gallery home decor shop in Cheltenham

You can never have too many leaf inspired dishes, can you?

Does this seem like your kind of place? Where do you like to browse?


How to refresh your bathroom on a budget

The other day a friend of mine sent me a few pictures of her bathroom. She wanted to brighten it up and asked what colours I thought she should go for.  Her bathroom is tiled floor to ceiling with beige tiles, which she cannot afford to remove. The bathroom suite is a little dated, cream with worn gold trim, which again she cannot afford to replace. The flooring is darker beige and you guessed it she cannot afford to replace.  So, as you will see from the pictures below a bit of a challenge.

I can hear you thinking a bit of a tidy up would be a good start – I didn’t say that.  Top tip NEVER send me pictures of your home 😉

I recently discovered she enjoys relaxing in the bath and that she is really the only person who uses this bathroom, which is great as she just needs to please herself.  I thought lets go for something a bit grown up with a relaxing feel.

Easily distracted, I was straight online to pick out a few pieces from the virtual high street, and I’ve brought them together on this mood board to share with you.

A bathroom moodboard

My colour scheme revolves around grey, green and black tones.  For me bright doesn’t have to be light colours.  I think you can brighten a space equally well with dark bold contrasting colours.  These colours I’ve selected should sit well against the beige background, which we cannot do anything about, sometimes you just have to go with what you’ve got.

Here’s the detail to accompany in the montage above.

The paint, Wilko’s paint selection, we have Storm Cloud & English Sage (£10 for 2.5L). The darkest greens are Farrow and Ball’s Card Room Green and Studio Green a bit more expensive than the Wilko paint, but it’s your budget to manage.  I think the green would enhance the gold taps and handles already in the bathroom. For me there’s something I like about gold and green.

For this bathroom the shower curtain would be one of the main ways to introduce colour into the room.  I’ve gone bold with the floral. Take a look around there’s a great selection on the internet as everyone is loving flora at the moment.  The green leaf design is from Urban Outfitters £35 the more botanical shower curtain is sold on a number of online sites, if you search ‘flora shower curtain’ you will see a wide selection – take your pick.

As there’s already a bit of gold in the bathroom, let go with it and add a bit more. I’ve picked this cheeky hook but it could equally be some pots. If you shop around you can get something for less than £10. Stick to your budget but embrace the gold, it’s back in vogue.  I would also get some gold knobs for that bathroom cabinet – after I’d painted it of course.

A mirror is a simple and generally inexpensive way of adding a bit of interest or maybe, as in this case distracting the eye from the beige tiles. You could get a few, rather than one big statement mirror.  The mirror in the picture is from Dunelm £17.00

I’ve added a bit of texture with a basket, handy for all those toilet rolls, let’s face it we all need them, La Redoute £51 . I love this basket, however less expensive similar products are out there.

The texture continues with the bold patterned black and white rug, which catches the eye helping the flooring stay well in the background. The bathroom mat I’ve gone for is from H&M £17.99

So what happened to the bathroom in the end…..well early the next day before I was able to share my well considered thoughts, the same said friend sent me a picture of a half painted bath panel…….duck egg blue. As you now know from my mood board duck egg blue wouldn’t have been my first choice. However, I saw the finished bathroom on the weekend and it looked sooo much better than before. I think she had fun doing the makeover, which is always a bonus.  She can now recline in the bath with a glass of wine and admire her handy-work. Perfect.

Hope this gives you some inspiration if you’re looking to refresh your bathroom 🙂


Bathroom mood board on

My DIY kitchen makeover, on a budget

Finally I’ve found some pictures of my kitchen before I decorated.  I know it’s appalling planning on my part, we made sooo many changes and I have ALWAYS taken lots of ‘before’ pictures even pre-blog writing. To my shame I’ve had to resort to using pictures from the estate agent brochure, which I have managed to scan and annotate for you (I know, sometimes I surprise even myself).

Enough of the excuses and preamble let me set the scene of my kitchen transformation. This for me is the most important room in the house as it’s the first room you walk into when you enter the flat, and I love to cook so happy to spend the day in the kitchen.  It was the main reason I bought the flat as it seemed like such a homely space.  Maybe subconsciously I was seeing the potential as when I moved in I hated the kitchen, the colours, the layout the lack of space, aghhh.   It needed to change and of course it needed to be done on a budget.

I guess you would describe it as an ‘L’ shaped /galley kitchen, and below you can see the view when coming in from the front door (top pic) and the view when entering from the rest of the flat (bottom pic)…. hope that makes sense to you.

DIY kitchen makeover

Below is a picture I did take when I moved in, it gives you an idea of how narrow the space is between the units and you can just see where the cooker is located.  Note the Christmas card on the side, must have been our first Christmas, bless. The only space for the fridge-freezer was in the larder and once it was in the larder was pretty much full; a large cupboard for a fridge-freezer – it made no sense to me either.

DIY kitchen makeover

So, three years ago we cracked on with the decorating. The first thing I wanted to do was to get rid of the work surface on one side to expand the gangway to the front door. Having work surface on both sides meant the space was very narrow and immediately gave the feel of it being a very small dark kitchen.  This required the relocation of the cooker.  In fact, we pretty much relocated all the kitchen to the far end of the space, which we were able to do by taking out the larder room. We then enclosed the boiler into a little cupboard using the door taken from the larder, this gave us tall storage for the vacuum etc. The whole kitchen was opened up and I had enough room for an island bench, which I use all the time, cooking prep, laptop, painting etc.  What was outside the budget was replacing the stone quarry tiles, instead we gave them a good clean. We had to search and buy 5 tiles to replace the missing strip created when the wall was removed.

I turned to tried and trusted IKEA for the units and work surface as Mr Husband had fitted many of these units in the past, so he’s getting quite good at it.  As ever I wanted the units to be plain and this time went for an off-white with very minimalist brush steel (timeless) handles, the sort you can NOT hang a tea towel from, which we all do if we get the chance.  Take a look and see what you think.

This is the view as you walk in from the front door, the larder is gone the boiler is hidden, the cooker has moved.

Kitchen makeover

This is the view from entering the kitchen from the rest of the flat

DIY kitchen makeover before and after at

As you will see wallpaper and the tones of the wood bring the colour. How do you like the grouting, I did myself – the first time ever (v proud). I point it out to all my visitors, they really don’t appreciate my achievement! The wallpaper also continues through to the small entrance hall, linking the two spaces.

DIY kitchen makerover

So how much did this all cost….well to be honest I’ve not got the receipts.  However this is me and I don’t go crazy spending money on a kitchen for a place I know I plan on moving from in the next 5-10 years.  Meaning I didn’t splurge on granite or marble I went for a laminated wood surface instead (I do like a bit of sustainable wood) and the IKEA cabinets were the low to mid price range.  The most expensive thing in the kitchen was the Smeg cooker which we bought only last year as I made a big mistake buying a cheaper as basically inefficient cooker, lesson learned the expensive way. I did get a professional electrician into to relocate the electrics for the cooker and put in some spots over the cooker.  Of course couldn’t have done it without Mr Husband, but he gets paid in cider and peanuts 😉

If I ever do fancy a change (I will) in the future, all I would need to change is the wallpaper. Something more colourful and contemporary would give this kitchen a whole new feel for nothing more than a weekend’s work.  I’ll keep a look out for that must have wallpaper, any suggestions? send them my way. Maybe a blog for the future, my wallpaper wishlist.

What do you think of the transformation, how have you transformed you kitchen