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Affordable Interiors: Chapter 2: Accessories, Accessories...

by - Sunday, May 26, 2013

How to accessorise a house to make it feel a home.

My my! I guess it's time for a chapter two! A bit belated I'm afraid, we've been rather busy! I would like to feature this fairly frequently, so apologies for the slow start. :)

I remember walking round the whole house the night it became 'ours,' wondering how on earth we were going to make it feel ours, and where we were going to start. 6 months on, I'd say we'd done a pretty good job of making that happen, but there's a long way to go yet.

So here is Chapter Two of my new Affordable Interiors Series.

I want our house to be a white house. Fresh, light, airy, and accessorised and lit to the point where you don't even notice everything is white. Just cosy, breezy and calming. Unfortunately, P really doesn't like the idea of a white house, so for now, I only get a white room. One room that P said I could be in charge of.

And that's exactly what happened.

The walls were already creamy, although painted in gloss. (noooo!) I don't have anything against gloss paint, it just shouldn't be on walls. It makes the light bounce in all the wrong ways and gives a cold feel to a room, I think. If it were matte, the light would be absorbed by the soft texture and it would feel a warmer space. The glow of fairy lights would patter gently along the wall and sun light would cast beautiful shapes upon it. I just don't get this same feel with gloss. Decorating with white is all about textures. Soft textures!

This, I can definitely say, is a gradual room. I know the whole process of making a house a home is nothing but gradual, but with the lounge we had a target of Christmas and we met that target. We had to, because we'd agreed to host over Christmas. The bedroom, however, is our space. A space that we slope off to at the end of a long day, and the space that we awake to, to start a new one. So there really has been no hurry. Besides, I don't think you can rush a white room. That and the fact that I'm doing it on a budget has prolonged it, but it is now at a stage that I am incredibly happy with it and there are only bits and bobs to tweak. (I imagine I will probably never stop tweaking anyway...)

So here are a few 'before' pictures. We were actually given 12 hours notice that the housemate was moving out... so I think the photos are a little shaky due to shock, or relief, or something.

A 'through the door' shot, taken from the landing. I took these in a rush using my iphone, so the quality is terrible. But, they're the only before shots I have, so I can live with a little blur.

I've also had to lighten these rather a lot, despite it being daytime. You can see how dingy and unhappy the room was!

I've also been changing the keylines on my photos but these are from the old batch so apologies for inconsistencies with them.

I'll do these photos rotating clockwise in the room...

No curtains, and windows covered with 'Storm Proof' cling film type stuff. Lovely.
If you look carefully, yes that's Roma, curled up on the manky old bed. She soon got shooed off there in a 'you don't know where that's been' kind of way.

Looking back on the door... We were left with a lot of stuff to take to the dump. I was pretty desperate to get that done so it could stop feeling like a void space.

That chest. The one thing I was happy to see left in this room. I didn't know this chest existed but I was in love when I found out it did. It is gorgeous, in great condition, but in need of a bit of white, obviously!

Seeing as the walls were neutral, and in no desperate need of a repaint, we decided to leave the decorating for the time being. I'm still putting up with that darn gloss!

So we cleared the room, got a few bits of furniture in, and did a very important task: we cleaned, from top to bottom, windows inside and out, and put up some classic cream full-length curtains. This big task made it finally feel like it was ours.

Here's a shot I love. Mummy Badger having a well deserved sit down, P cleaning the windows and Daddy Badger is just off shot installing a curtain rail. This was the first time I realised just how much sunlight shone into the room.

I took this the evening of the clean & curtain day. We treated ma and pa to a take-away to say thank you for their help, a well deserved one in my eyes. This was the first time that the bedroom felt like we'd be able sleep peacefully in it soon.

I of course did my pottering thing, creating spaces to make it feel ours. Despite the fact it was nowhere near finished. These sundae glasses came all the way from Ikea in Poland... believe it or not it was closer to us at the time than the ones are over here!

Bits of furniture then gradually came from here and there, and we finally found bedding we liked and it all began to just, come together.

She loved the new bed. Look how unimpressed she was when I told her it was time to get up and face the day! Just losing a tense atmosphere from the old housemate really changed her. She was suddenly happy all the time, racing around the whole house and generally being a hell of a lot more relaxed. We always knew it would affect us losing that atmosphere but we never realised it would make her so relieved too.

So, before shots aside, lets get on to How to Accessorise a House to Make it Feel a Home:

Where to start:
Well, at the beginning, I guess! Everything I own is pretty much what I've accumulated over the years. Particularly, the last 6 years, since I became interested in my surrounding space and began to buy things that reflected my developing taste. Of course, this has changed over this time, but during packing and unpacking my things for various house moves, I've found something I'd once relegated would now work with the new space I was in. Being a little bit of a hoarder kind of works in your favour here!

Apart from large bits of furniture for our new home, I rarely go out and buy an item specifically for a space. I get things from charity shops and antique centres and create them a home, rather than create a space and spend time searching for the perfect item to fill it.

Saying that, I have recently gone a bit bunting mad, and I'm looking in every room thinking 'it's good, but it needs bunting just THERE.' Papa Badger and I are currently trying to fix the 1937 Singer Sewer that we bought from a small Brocante in Cussay, France. When it's fixed, it will be bunting aplenty in every room!

For instance, the 'Uludag' bottle was from my local train station. It's a fizzy drink that claims to be 'the taste of the 1930s' so I had to give it a try. And I recommend it, too! The little rose tealight was from Ikea in Poland, the mustard pot from a small antiques fair near me, the canvas I made, the bird and the far right bottle were gifts, the print on the right was of a photo I took of my birthday daffodils and the clock was £3 from a charity shop.

Patience really is a virtue...
So definitely keep your eyes peeled for your own treasures. I've learnt it's very much a gradual process, you can't just go out and buy things to try and make a house feel homely straight away. It needs to be lived in, looked after and most of all, loved. The rest will fall into place.

Eventually you'll find you've built up a collection of something without even noticing. This is only a small selection of my books and magazines on homes though!

Quick little craft projects give a space an even more personal touch, that you are much more likely to treasure. This was an old style hanger converted into a jewellery holder. Which I've now realised, I must do a tutorial on for you! I could do with one to hold my scarves as well so watch this space.

This bowl was a love-at-first-sight item and I've struggled trying to work out what to do with it since I bought it. Whilst unpacking old moving bags though, I found my rose potpourri, but on it's own it looked a little dull. I had previously had a bunch of those cream roses in it but it just didn't look right. Put the two together and suddenly I've created a simple display that I love, that's completely high impact, low maintenance.

Another easy craft project: Two little boxes from QD with lace and ribbons from my local haberdashery. I painted them in Dulux's 'Gentle Fawn' and styled the top and voila! A beautiful little pair of boxes that I love all the more because no one else will own one like it.

More pottering... The scruffy old chest of drawers here have since been given a makeover, which I'll be posting once I've put the drawer liners in and photo'd. I've also since swapped these drawers with the dressing table and the space feels even homely-er now, not to mention more practical. But this post is about accessories not furniture moves so I haven't photo'd that yet!

Little accessories hung in unexpected places evoke memories when the space is used.

There's that beautiful chest! It's hers now though. I would like to paint it white with off-white features, but as it looks so lovely as it is, other projects are taking priority at the moment. One day, little chest. One day!

Both of these perfume bottles have lovely stories behind them, which are fond memories for me. I do admit that I find and cling on to the sentimental value of many things that I own, but it just makes items feel a lot more personal to me. I think they're much more special if they're filled with a memory.

Places to Buy:
Vintage fairs and antique shops of course, are one of my favourite places to buy, as you'll always get something unique and the tale that a vintage item potentially holds really does fascinate me. I know it's not an accessory but I found an old farmhouse table in a charity shop months ago, it was so battered but was gorgeous. The grooves and scratches that adorned the surface held decades worth of memories and I really wanted to start adding our own to it. Alas, the table wasn't for sale and was owned by the manager... some battles you can't win!

In terms of buying new accessories for the home, and particularly on a budget, my favourite shops to look in are Matalan, Wilkinsons and Ikea. I have always felt that things from ikea don't have much character about them, but little bits bought from there, styled in your own way with certain vintage items, suddenly make their own character. Matalan and Wilkos have grabbed the vintage and country home themes by the proverbials and gone all out with them... which I think is marvellous. It means that although there are a lot of things that I don't like, again, there are little gems amongst it all that I can really work with.

Another place I've picked up the odd lovely item, is the sale section in a Homebase. It's where damaged or discontinued things end up, but sometimes you get the odd home accessory that has simply lost a bit of it's packaging. Vis-à-vis, a bargain!

Just do it!
Learning from experience, I've found that the best way to accessorise a room is to just go for it. Everytime you buy something new, or are given a gift, or find something you thought you'd gotten rid of years ago, as long as you love it, just try popping it on the mantle, or hanging it in the window. You won't know if it works until you live with it for a short while. Give it a go, and if it isn't doing anything for you after a couple of days, move it somewhere else. That's exactly how I came about all the decoration in our house. Just potter. Potter until your heart's content!

I'm even using my favourite dresses as accessories. I've got more little vintage ones in the wardrobe so I can even swap them over depending on what colours I want on display. Not only that, but it means that they don't sit hidden away until we get a bit of sun and until I've got somewhere nice to wear them... they get to be seen all the time! Good, huh?

I'll leave it there for now as I have babbled on for rather a while today! I'm off out into the garden now to plant up, cut grass and polish things until they look like the garden I want!

Have a lovely rest of your long weekend and aren't we lucky to have this wonderful weather?

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