Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Interiors: Hallway

It's been a while since most of you last saw my hallway. It has been 5 years since we moved into this flat, and we have only just decorated our hall for the first time. Seriously. 

When we moved in, we could just afford the mortgage, no extra 'thrills' as we considered them, plus it was in a liveable condition. But after the loft conversion, our hall was pretty much obliterated and we had to do something. And it was actually fun decorating from scratch.

Door: Farrow & Ball 'Manor House Gray'. Doormat: £11, Ikea. Floor tiles: Topps Tiles

I'm sorry to say I'm not really one of those 'found it in a flea market in France' kind of lady. Most items are from the High Street or online. Our carpet is from our local carpet shop, if you're South London based then definitely give them a try - it's full of remnants and we saved so much money on our stair runner - costing around £280 including the edging (which cost more than the carpet!) and fitting. We sanded down and painted the stairs ourselves to save costs but a word of warning - my poor husband spent a lot of time and was exhausted by the end. We painted the steps in Farrow & Ball 'Downpipe'.

Basket: H&M Home (I wanted somewhere chic to leave wet umbrellas!)
Sandals: £42, Topshop. Bag: £64.50, Aurora London
Shoe storage cabinet: £140, Ikea
I painted our old ikea shoe cabinet with Farrow & Ball 'Mole's Breath' (I know it's not totally frugal but the quality of pant I find is much better, plus not so bad when you paint small areas such as cabinets and single walls, like I do). I had to use a lot of undercoat (and it's not perfect upclose!!) but I love how it looks now.

Candle: £24, Wood Grey. Marbled cement plant pot: £14, Etsy

Once repainted, our original collage wall was replaced...our favourite places for frames are Debenhams, Habitat, Ikea, TK Maxx and Target in the US.

Stair runner: Discount Carpet Warehouse. Espadrilles: £42 in the sale, Soludos at Very Exclusive.
And lastly, my piece de resistance: my La Redoute coffee table. When it comes to furniture, there are only really a handful of shops I browse online (or can afford!), so La Redoute really has become one of them. This table is even better quality than anticipated and fits the space we saved for it perfectly.

Table: £199, La Redoute. Mules: £15.99, New Look
Tray: £9.35, Hay. Hand cream: £23, Byredo 

Light: BHS. Print (bought at The Other Art Fair), Sarah Maple

Radiator cover: Homebase (make sure you buy the pre-painted ones as they are very difficult to paint in all the grooves!)
Eyelashes cannister: £128, Jonathan Adler. Pineapple tray: Anthropologie. Candle: Atelier Lumira
Hope you enjoyed the little tour of our hallway, it seems so much bigger now the loft is in place. I am loving interiors so much more at the moment, and it really is fun to finally be able to do some home improvements.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

High To Low

Jacket: £5, Primark (old). Jumper: £280, Bella Freud (borrowed for this shoot).Sunglasses: £35 in the sale, Le Specs at Very Exclusive.  Bracelets: black, £90, Astley Clarkegold: £95, Astley ClarkePhotographs: Christopher O'Donnell

Although my blog is about living on a budget, most of you know I like to invest from time to time. And I think the key to looking chic and having a wardrobe you love is investing in wardrobe lifters. Nothing sums up my style more than pairing something mid price with a real frugal piece - case in point a Bella Freud iconic sweater (this one was borrowed for the shoot) with a Primark jacket. They both compliment each other, the jacket adding a modern boho take to a more classic knit and the jumper bringing a classy edge to an otherwise cheap jacket.

Mixing textures is a real favourite of mine at the moment: tassels, leather, fringes - you name it, I love it. And layering it all together just seems to work where I often would've gone for more of a minimal approach. Well, it's summer after all I suppose (although it felt very far away whilst shooting this inbetween rainstorms).

Jacket: £5, Primark (old). Jumper: £280, Bella Freud (borrowed for this shoot). Skirt: £149, Jigsaw. Bag: £79 in the sale, Radley. Sunglasses: £35 in the sale, Le Specs at Very Exclusive. Sandals: £16, Asos
These sandals have also been the surprise hit of the summer - they're so comfortable I have practically lived in them so far, and for £16, you can't really go wrong.

Jacket: £5, Primark (old). Jumper: £280, Bella Freud (borrowed for this shoot). Bracelets: black, £90, Astley Clarkegold: £95, Astley Clarke

Friday, 24 June 2016

The art of self tan...

Shirt: L'Agence (there's a lovely lace chiffon mix blouse from Zara here). Clutch: Clare V at Modern Society. Jeans: £30, Asos. Jewellery: CadenzzaSunglasses: £35 in the sale, Le Specs at Very Exclusive. Nails in 'Wardrobe': £5, Topshop. Photograph: Christopher O'Donnell
Fake tan. It's something I do most days without even thinking about it (especially in the summer). It's almost a taboo, associated with teenage years, horrid smudge marks and tacky nightclubs. I've never done spray tans, it involves way too much organisation on my part but I swear by self tanning, so thought I'd share a few of my favourite brands I've used over the years (I called them in for the purpose of the shoot, but all trusted and used by me previously):

L-R: DecleorJames ReadBondi Sands and Vichy. Tray: £9.35, Hay. Hand cream:£23, Byredo 

1. Decleor Aroma Sun Expert self tanning milk, £24, Feel Unique
I've been a fan of this for years: it glides on easily, is uncoloured and leaves a really subtle but warm glow.

2. Vichy Ideal self tan face and body, £9.35, Look Fantastic
I've used this for a few years now: it doesn't break the bank, it's a bit more subtle than the others so hardly any streaky marks, and it's gentle enough to use on the face too.

3. James Read overnight tan, £35, Asos

A new obsession (recommended to me by a blog reader through Instagram!). I've never used much product on my face before as it brings me out in spots, but this overnight tan goes on clear like a serum (so no messy pillows) and you wake up looking fresh and without the need for as much make-up - the dream. I tested out the body serum for the first time last week and trust me, it's worth it. Plus no wasted time wondering around in a dressing gown waiting for it to dry!

4. Bondi Sands Liquid Gold dry oil, £14.99, Boots
I really like this brand - it's the only fake tan that actually smells nice (like coconut suncream!) but also I love that you can just pick it up easily from the High Street. The dry oil is probably not for beginners, but this would be a great one to take on holiday to work with your holiday glow. And maybe don't apply near carpet(!).

My tips:

  • I don't do everyday tan really, I'm too timepoor, so would rather do it less frequently and it last longer. All of these tans I have chosen work to that effect. I go for a medium tan (I have done dark which has looked good but hard to get off your hands!).
  • The key to making it look even is to really rub it in, especially around those joints. Don't leave it feeling wet. When you get to your hands, do a circular motion and kind of glide over your fingers lightly, don't rub it onto your fingers.
Blouse: £195, Ghost. Suede skirt: £49.95, Lindex. Bag: £290, Manu AtelierCircle necklace: £39, Tom Shot at Cadenzza. Cone necklace: £69,Cadenzza. Bracelet: £39, Tom Shot at Cadenzza. Ring: Kenzo at Cadenzza.
  • Try and do it before you go to bed so that you can shower off any excess in the morning and scrub any problem areas (should you need to!).
  • Don't overdo it. I do it maybe twice a week during the summer, and try to top up with sun. I apply it as and when, and don't make it part of my routine, so I don't ever look too orange.
  • Do look in stores like TK Maxx, I have spotted James Read tan in there, as well as Decleor.
  • You don't have to do the whole body if you don't need to. I often just fake tan my chest as that's the part that is exposed to the sun the least (weirdly, my legs stay brown all year round).

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Espadrille season

Trench: £117 (only navy left), J Crew. Shirt: H&M (old). Jeans: £148.28, Mother Denim. Espadrilles: £24.99, H&MTote bag: £24, Kipling. Photographs: Christopher O'Donnell
It (still) may not be summer dress season yet, but it is definitely time for the espadrille. I'm a huge fan of the woven soled shoe and love that they make any outfit feel that little bit more summery. 

The good news? They're a real frugal buy. The Castaner versions have been a big Instagram hit (and not a bad pricepoint at £70), but I'm backing these H&M ones - a steal at £24.99. And I can verify they're super comfy.

They work best with jeans that fall above the ankle, and look great with a summer dress. I personally love their ease, and these will be one of the few shoes I take with me on holiday (and definitely the only heels). I'll also be trying to replace them with trainers for the everyday - I said 'try'.

Trench: £117 (only navy left), J Crew. Jeans: £148.28, Mother Denim. Espadrilles: £24.99, H&MTote bag: £24, Kipling.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Shop The Sales

Bikini top: £14.99, H&M. Bikini bottoms: £9.99, H&M. Espadrilles: £42 in the sale, Soludos at Very Exclusive. Sunglasses: £35 in the sale, Le Specs at Very Exclusive.
It's that time of year. I'm not a huge sales shopper (as most of you know), preferring to buy a few select pieces which I've been looking at full price. So am doing a round-up of pieces I either own or am thinking about owning. My advice? Stick to the classics, don't go buying outlandish items just because they're in the sale. And it's a good time to browse those more expensive websites like Net A Porter and Very Exclusive - there are definitely some chic bargains to be had!

1. Khaki shirt: reduced from £155 to £93, Splendid at Net A Porter

2. Cosmos biography bracelet: reduced from £95 to £50, Astley Clarke

3. Patchwork striped top: reduced from £55 to £38, J Crew 

4. Gingham shirt: reduced from £29.99 to £14.99, Mango

5. Candy stripe espadrilles: reduced from £65 to £32, Soludos at Very Exclusive

6. 'Bridge' skinny jeans: reduced from £215 to £151, M.i.h Jeans at Net A Porter

7. Woven drawstring bag: reduced from £59.50 to £41, J Crew

8. Tortoiseshell sunglasses: reduced from £55 to £38, Le Specs at Very Exclusive

9. Apron dress: reduced from £140 to £95, Whistles

10. Fringed sandals: reduced from £35.99 to £19.99, Mango

I hope you find some bargains!

Friday, 17 June 2016

(not so) Heavy Metal

Shirt: £29.99, H&M (sold out in white but buy the blue one here). Lace vest (just seen), £25, Asos. Skirt: £35, Marks & Spencer. Bag: J Crew (sold out). Trainers: Comptoir des Cotonniers. Sunglasses: £90, Ray-Ban (borrowed from my husband). Photographs: Christopher O'Donnell
In fact, a bit of a light floaty number. I've always loved a pleated skirt (hark back to my old leopard print one from River Island which I wore until it pretty much disintegrated from use), and when I walked past this skirt in M&S (and tweeted a pic) a little while ago I thought perhaps I didn't need this one. And then twitter answered and made me rethink my decision. 

If there's one thing Gucci catwalk has taught us this season, it's to be bolder, more individual and embrace a bit of colour. I know, it's not technically colour but a step in the right direction.

Ordinarily, I would have saved this for an evening occasion to wear this skirt, but wanted to turn it on its head and wear for the day instead (it works equally well, with a classic stripe t-shirt - see my Instagram feed for proof). I've had this oversized sleeve shirt since Fashion Week and been desperate to wear it with something other than jeans. But with the current humidity felt it needed a bit of unbuttoning (and hallelujah, my 90s lace cami has served a purpose - bought on a whim but now paying me back in usefulness).

And trainers. Always in trainers. I'm just not sure I can go back to regular shoes now. And now thinking I might need a pair of black Vans I keep seeing on social media -  Instagram is a cruel mistress sometimes, isn't she?

Shirt: £29.99, H&M (sold out in white but buy the blue one here). Lace vest (just seen), £25, Asos. Skirt: £35, Marks & Spencer. Bag: J Crew (sold out). Trainers: Comptoir des CotonniersSunglasses: £90, Ray-Ban.
I'm sure you'll be seeing a lot of this skirt in the future, with sandals (maybe heels) and for the evening -  but most of all, I love how more interesting it makes my wardrobe look when I open those Ikea doors. 
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