Ikea and the Scandinavian Style

I can still remember the first time I stepped into one of Ikea’s enormous stores and it was a bit of a culture shock! Having been brought up in a somewhat chintzy and dated home the simplicity and functionality of the Ikea offering seemed stark, uninviting and characterless. However, that visit obviously planted a few seeds in my mind because it wasn’t long before I started seriously considering the merits of the Scandinavian style. Continue reading Ikea and the Scandinavian Style

The Problem with Small Halls

The hall can be the most difficult room in the house to decorate and furnish. Halls are often awkwardly shaped, small or narrow which can leave you scratching your head in despair as you attempt to evolve a decorative scheme and layout that will prove to be both practical and visually appealing. As the hall is a space that you tend to pass through rather than occupy, it is all too tempting to devote only minimal attention to the room. However, it is the first room that visitors see when they enter your home and so it is worth spending the time and effort to achieve something special. Continue reading The Problem with Small Halls

The Story of an Art Lover

Having spent an unpleasant few weeks living in a damp ridden room at the back of a shared flat in West London I was most relieved to move into a pleasant one bedroom flat in Ealing. I had just moved to the Capital after leaving university and was finding it hard to finance an acceptable place to live. The Ealing flat seemed a little too good to be true but it actually turned out to be even better than that. Continue reading The Story of an Art Lover


Tartan fabrics are popular choices in both the world of fashion and that of interior design. The strong colours, heritage values and bold patterns all have their appeal and if you are Scottish or are decorating a Scottish home then tartan will probably be in the forefront of your mind. We all know what tartan is and that it is most associated with Scotland but how long have these designs been with us and were they a Scottish innovation? Continue reading Tartan

The Beauty of a Garden Pond

My father has always been an enthusiastic gardener. A series have properties have been completely transformed under his dedicated care with perfect lawns, beautiful shrubs and an array of pretty flowers. I am sure that his work has added much value to several homes and given him a lot of pleasure in the process but even I was shocked when he moved into his current property a few years ago. Continue reading The Beauty of a Garden Pond

Messages from the Dark Side

I am thinking of getting a sign and I don’t mean a message from God (although that would be nice because I would make a fortune). Neither do I intend to erect one of those hideous boards outside of my house to tell the world that I am about to sell the property. Having just redecorated almost every room I think it would be prudent to stick around to enjoy the place for a bit. What I want is one or maybe a handful of those amusing signs that you can get for the house which convey your thoughts without you having to speak.

Being Blunt

The trouble is that what I really need is some quite blunt missives. I wonder if anyone makes a sign that says “Don’t interrupt me while I’m working because I am liable to stab you to death”? This would be my preferred choice to hang on the door of my home office which a certain person who will remain nameless thinks is actually a room where you waste time doing nothing of any importance. Clearly he must think like this otherwise he wouldn’t blunder in every few minutes when I am trying to concentrate on my latest Pulitzer Prize winning piece! Besides being quite keen to earn my living, I am also fairly anxious to avoid committing a murder although I would have plenty of time to write if I were serving a life sentence.

Going Nautical

Perhaps “Do not disturb” might suffice where the home office is concerned although I fear not. I really need something apposite for the spare bedroom too which is currently occupied free of charge by my friend. I decorated the room in the New England style and added a few nautical finishing touches so something nautical in style would be perfect. I have seen those cute driftwood signs that say “Gone to the beach” which would be rather charming if deeply unlikely in Berkshire, but something a little more personal would be even better. “Get up you lazy, freeloading git” sounds good or perhaps “I would have gone to the beach if my work hadn’t been ruined by constant interruptions”.

Being Bitter

Heavens I am sounding bitter! I will have to counterbalance my vitriolic outpourings with a few slightly more welcoming observations. Otherwise I am going to scare the living daylights out my visitors who will be reading my messages and expecting my head to explode at any moment. There are some lovely signs that say “home is where the heart is” for instance. This would be perfect except that my heart is actually somewhere on that sunny beach that I haven’t gone too because I am still working.

Toilet Problems

On a more serious note there are actually some really great signs for the home and I think every home would benefit from some useful signage or amusing thoughts. Especially one of my friend’s houses where people have a habit of walking into the broom cupboard instead of the loo. A one word sign would do the trick right there and I suggest that this word should be “Toilet”. In the case of my home I fear that the sign most people would like to see is “Exit”!

Article by Sally Stacey

How to Fragrance Your Home

It doesn’t matter how nicely you decorate your home if the general ambiance is ruined by unpleasant smells. This is a particularly important issue if you are trying to sell your property or are anxious to make a great for impression for any reason. Even if you don’t suffer from nasty niffs, it is always better to welcome visitors with a pleasing aroma and life is much more pleasant for you if you are surrounded by your favourite scents. Continue reading How to Fragrance Your Home

Seasonal Decorations


It was whilst I was decorating my Christmas tree last year that I experienced one of those awful moments when you stop what you are doing to ask yourself why you are bothering.  I don’t particularly buy into Christmas. I am not religious and I am not a fan of the pure excess of it all. Everyone seems obsessed with over eating, drinking themselves into oblivion and spending fortunes on gifts that they can ill afford. Despite my cynicism, there I was with a rather large tree and a sea of sparkly things spending my evening vamping up my home.

Christmas Irony

I realised that whilst I have little interest in much of what masquerades as Christmas, I do love the accompanying transformation of the neighbourhood with all the light displays and the Christmas trees in the windows. I just love anything that sparkles and so, ironically, it turns out that Christmas was made for me!

I even largely enjoy the process of putting up my decorations. It is a time to let my creative juices flow and to fashion a look that raises the spirits. I am not so enthusiastic when it comes to taking it all down again. Glitter and needles everywhere and several trips to the loft generally ensue and my decorations have been known to stick around long beyond Twelfth Night simply because I have been unable to rouse myself into action.

Christmas Spirit

As I stopped work last Christmas by musings led me to understand that Christmas decorations are decidedly a good thing even if many other aspects of Christmas are not. On the cold and often miserable days of December and early January the decorations are uplifting. Decorating your home gives you a chance to work with family and friends and the whole process is somehow therapeutic. Financing the endeavour is certainly not!


Building a Collection

If you fancy extravagant displays in your home then it is going to cost you but Christmas comes every year and so you can build up your collection over time. If you start out with just a few decorations and then add some new pieces to your hoard every year you soon arrive at an impressive stash to work with. You must take care, however, to evolve a theme or blue christmas baublescolour scheme at the outset.

Always have that theme in your mind when you are buying your decorations otherwise you will end up with a random selection that will leave you with much that you cannot use to good effect. If you are going to use decorations year after year then it is best to stick to classic, timeless things rather than styles and colours that come and go. I built up an impressive cache of pink decorations which perfectly matched my old home but which now clash horribly with the more contemporary decorative scheme in my current abode.


Easter and Halloween

I am now busy Easter_decsbuilding a new collection of red and gold pieces and perhaps it was this additional expenditure that gave me pause for thought. I am also working on my Easter and Halloween decorations. Having decided that decorating was a good idea I feel it only right that I extend my efforts to the other annual celebrations. I don’t have any affinity with those either but hey! I like creating displays as I suspect most people do which is precisely why we all decorate every year when it doesn’t really make any sense.