Happy New Year to you, I hope the Christmas break offered some much-needed downtime and you avoided all the germs doing the rounds. We had a wonderful Christmas in Scotland, staying in a fabulous country home, once belonging to Lorraine Kelly. With twelve of us, it was certainly an extended family break and pretty full on, getting that many people fed. But it was interspersed with country walks, roaring fires and the opportunity to decorate the house for Christmas with lots of ivy, pine and laurel from the garden and surrounding hedgerows.
Easter Bendochy House, our beautiful holiday home in stunning countryside...
Decorating the beautiful sitting rooms in our holiday home...
Well this is the first blog post of a new year, indeed a new decade, the 20’s! The roaring 20’s of 100 years ago was truly a remarkable time of prosperity, innovation and beautiful design. It was also a time of much social and political change. With all the many challenges facing our planet currently, let’s hope we can replicate some of that positive change in the coming decade.
If you’re like me you probably love decorating the house for Christmas, but as the new year clock strikes, I find myself itching to get the house back to normal and clear away the clutter. Chances are if you’re a parent, you’ll have read Julia Donaldson’s book A Squash & A Squeeze, to them. Packing away Christmas always feels a little like that book to me. As the last box makes its way up to the attic, I can breathe again! The house starts to feel bigger and I find myself taking stock of each room, making a mental list of things I’d like to alter, switch round or even decorate.
Time to take down our Christmas mantel
It’s a great opportunity to shop your home. I love this concept, tapping into the zeitgeist for reuse/recycle, rather than buying new. Simply switching things around can often be enough to transform a room. Have a good look in the main rooms in your house, see what isn’t working and might look better elsewhere. One tip is to put all your ornaments on the dining room table, then play around with a new grouping on shelving or sideboards. Think about using a stack of books or a wooden box to add height interest to a vignette. On a console table maybe add or switch around lamps. Or change up a large ceramic vase or jug with faux blooms or wild grasses. Don’t be afraid to play around with scale too, a larger object on smaller furniture will read interestingly to the eye. Think of texture too, have some shiny, matt, patterned, smooth or rough objects together to draw the eye to linger.
Styling up the fireplace mantel using texture, tone and materials...
Gavin and I are both vintage collectors, some might say hoarders. Neither of us can pass a flea market, thrift or antique shop without some bargain catching our eye. As a result of those magpie tendencies, we have a beautiful collection of objects but a house that’s becoming a little too maximalist! That precious breathing space is definitely diminishing. With our kids growing up, they seem to need more not less space and we are reaching a stage where considering a house move is inevitable. The only problem of course, apart from budget, is finding somewhere that ticks the boxes in terms of needs for all four of us.
Spending a wonderful week away in the countryside, definitely gave me an appetite for a more rural location. I loved being able to walk down the drive and out into the lane to forage for greenery. To feel the freshness of the air and not be bombarded with brick walls, cars and traffic. For a while now, Gavin and I have talked about how we’d love to have some outbuildings or the potential for some. Creating workshop space, somewhere to host creative masterclasses and maybe a showroom from which to start selling some of our vintage treasures. ReTwiggd Vintage, it’s a fledgling concept but it could have legs, what do you reckon?
I’ve also been so inspired by recent binge-watching of all the series of Escape to the Chateau. Whilst we may not be in a position to up sticks and move to France (although I wish), or take on a project of that magnitude, I have been inspired by the fact they followed their dreams of creating a better lifestyle for themselves and their family.
Our latest vintage find, these scales were
a Scottish thrift store bargain at £10!
With teens and tweens in the house though, their wish list is simple: good broadband speeds, friends they can go and call for, proximity to school or the bus stop. For our teen son Noah, add a big enough garden to kick a football and somewhere he can set up his new drum kit. For creative tween Olivia, it’s a bedroom big enough to house all her creating! Add the need for a proper fourth bedroom for visiting family, something our current home lacks and you’ve a challenge even Phil & Kirstie might shy away from. We’re not afraid of a project though and don’t expect to find this dream property in turnkey condition. Neither of us have undertaken any kind of renovation work before, but hey, we’re enthusiastic and quick learners.
Good broadband essential for those teens and tweens...
Much of our 2019 was spent deliberating this move or stay dilemma and frankly we both began to feel very frustrated and stuck in a rut. So, the roaring 20’s has heralded in both of us, the opportunity for a mind-shift. As we are both visual learners, we are drawing up a mind map. Before we all head back to work and the business of everyday life takes over, we have begun to put together a visual reference of the steps needed to put in place our ambitions and goals for the year ahead. By fleshing out what those wishes are, we can develop action plans to address how we go about them.
Desperately seeking workshop space! Building our pallet sofa in the summer...
Being creative and making rather than buying is very important to both of us, so moving towards a lifestyle which offers more of that feels tremendously exciting. To have the space for tools and equipment to have a permanent home would be life changing.
I’d love to hear if you are in a similar place or have been so and can offer any encouraging words along the way. We know we are fortunate to have a lovely home and take none of that fortune for granted. But it feels ok to want to work and strive for more, and a lifestyle which better fits with the stage we are at currently in our lives.
Watch this space and wish us luck!