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July 2014

Lighting our new home…

Lighting our new home…

by Clare Mansell

When we started thinking about the design of our new house, one of the things that was high up on our priority list was to create a home that was light and bright. Although white walls and large windows can make a home bright, there are big chunks of the year when it gets dark early and there is no natural light to illuminate a home and this is when good lighting becomes really important.

Now I won’t pretend that we’ve nailed the lighting situation yet, but we do have a few ideas and I’ve been putting together a Pinterest board as we’ve gone along. If that sounds a bit fanciful, bear in mind most of the remodel so far was based on ideas from Pinterest!


I love rope lighting and I have seen it used really cleverly under kitchen cabinets. It gives a lovely glow when the lights are turned down low at night and instantly makes the kitchen look more modern. It’s pretty easy to fit and can just be plugged into a wall socket at one end.

Our bedroom

This is one of the few rooms in the house where we have a pendant light. We have very high vaulted ceilings and needed a really huge fitting to fill the space. Everything I looked at was either too expensive or too small. In the end I found a wedding supplier who make paper lanterns that are a metre wide. We bought one for £20 and I think it looks great. Next on the list is bedside lights, there is so much lovely fabric around that I think the solution may be to buy some simple bases (I love these from BHS) and make the shade ourselves.

via Etsy
via Dunelm

Sitting room

We have halogen lights in the ceiling in our sitting room, they are great for bright light, but we also need a mixture of table and floor lights for mood light in the evenings. I really like the 70s style floor lamps with three pronged wooden bases. For table lights, we have a red sofa that dominates the room and I think the best way to work with that is top bring other colour into the room. We have a few colourful pictures for the wall and I really fancy a teal coloured table lamp.

Theo’s room
I’m not really a fan of traditional children’s lighting, not least of all cause they grow out of it too quickly. However I do think a kid’s bedroom is a great place to have some fun with lights. Theo has one floor light from Ikea (pretty dog standard but does the job) and having just graduated to a single bed, I’m on the look out for a quirky light for his bedside table. I also love Marquee lights and think one would be great above his bed. There’s a great cheap DIY tutorial here but sadly I think it would last 5 minutes in a toddler’s room!
Lighting the garden is an important area that is often forgotten about. Thanks to my dad, we did remember to ask the electricians to add three LED spot lights into the overhang of our roof during the build and when we get round to building the deck outside our sitting room they will be a fantastic feature. However I still want to add some festoon party lights (like fairy lights but with bigger bulbs) and some nautical style lamps to our veranda at the front of the house to help transform the garden into an outside room.
This post is an entry to the Lighting Majestic competition to win an iPad Mini, find out more here

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Guilt free drinking?

Guilt free drinking?

by Clare Mansell

Last summer for the first time in my whole life I decided to go on a diet. In fact, I’d like to rephrase that… I decided to look at the food I was eating and find away to eat better in order to lose a stone (and I succeeded.)

One of the things I became aware of as I tried to alter my eating was calories in drinks. Almost everything I was drinking except tea and water was more than 100 calories and it was really hard to find anything, even as a treat, that is low calorie (particularly if you don’t do sweetners.)

I mention this because, over the last week it has suddenly occurred to me why people rave about juicing being the dieter’s friend. We have been trying out the Vegesentials range. The range comes in two sizes for kids or adults, but the little shot size child’s portions have got “diet friendly” written all over them at only 45 calories and even the big bottles are only 85-100 calories.


But I digress a little… These are not diet drinks. They were sent for us to try because they are aimed at kids who are picky about food to encourage them to consume the good things in fruit and veg and adults who are too busy to get their five a day.

Reactions to the range varied hugely in our house. My husband was appalled by them! He couldn’t understand why anyone would take fruit juice and contaminate it with (horrors!) vegetables. He only tried one flavour and I doubt I’d get him to go back for a second even if I held him down…

Theo is more adventurous! He loved the dinky bottles the moment I opened the box, but was deeply untrusting of the green flavour (pineapple and cucumber) and stuck stubbornly to the red and orange ones. He absolutely loved drinking out of the bottle with a straw and often opened the fridge to ask for them.

Millie his 12 year-old cousin is a fan of smoothies and I wasn’t sure she’d take to the less sweet flavour and less thick consistency of these, but I was wrong. Not wanting to waste a big one, I gave her a small one to sample and she came back for an adult size one too and declared it “lovely!”

And me? I loved them. I didn’t think they’d be my kind of thing, but I couldn’t stop drinking them. I loved the fact that they weren’t overly sweet and that you could actually taste the ingredients (yes, even the vegetables!) and of course they are a good healthy drink option. The only down side I can see is they aren’t cheap at around £2 a bottle, but I’d definitely buy them for a treat and especially if they were an option on a lunch menu when eating out.

If you want to try them Ocado and Waitrose stock them and I suspect we’ll see them popping up all over the place soon…

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Living Arrows – 30/52

Living Arrows – 30/52

by Clare Mansell
ISO 400, 35mm, f/4.0, 1/200

I’m a bit late posting for Living Arrows today. We’ve spent most of the weekend sorting the house out and that has meant the computer has been unplugged, the camera battery was flat and my desk was in pieces, but we are getting ourselves straight again now.

Amongst the big leaps forward this weekend, we now have our sitting room back. When we sealed it off and handed it over to the builders 5 months ago it was less than half the size it is, the kind of room you might generously call cosy!

In it we had a three seater Ikea sofa which we had bought in Cyprus, moved to Scotland and then brought with us to Sussex. It was broken and rather tired. I was worried that at the end of all the building work we’d have nothing left to spend on a sofa and we’d end up in a lovely house on a broken sofa – I was right to be worried, we did finish with nothing left to buy a sofa!

However a few months ago my parents decided to change up their 10 year-old red corner sofa and we became its lucky new owners. We sat on it in the sitting room for the first time last night, we all love it, but Theo in particular is besotted with it and keeps telling me “I love our new sofa mummy”

So this week’s portrait just had to be taken on it!

living arrows

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External house photos – before and after

On Friday the final bit of external work was completed on our house and that means I can at last show you some before and after pictures of the outside.

There is still a lot to do, we have walls to paint, stairs to varnish, furniture to move, pictures to hang and our garden needs loads of work beginning with grass seed! The internal pictures will be another few weeks!

A quick recap on what we did (or rather had done!) The original house was a 1900 bungalow which had been progressively extended. We completely removed the existing roof and at the front we relocated and replaced the ground floor window on the left and replaced the one on the right. The existing UPVC front door went and in the opening we installed an oak front door.


This is how it looked in February of this year before the work started. We had originally planned to reuse the roof tiles, but stretched our budget to buy composite slate, I’m so glad we did!!

The old house

Now the side view. The first picture is of the house when we originally bought it (I think this was actually taken on completion day) in 2009. It needed immediate work on the inside and we also pushed out the middle section of the back wall to extend the kitchen.


Here’s that same view today. It’s hard to tie the before and after together, but the right hand window on the rendered section of the house has stayed the same throughout.


And finally the seaward facing side of the house. The room with the washing machine visible was originally a sun room with an internal window into the kitchen. We knocked through and made an arch. The two windows to the right were sitting room (middle window) and main bedroom (right) and those two rooms were knocked together to form our new living room…




Today we have a rare cool day (I’m not complaining about the heat, honestly) so we are going to crack on with finishing as much of the inside as we can. I’ll share more pictures as we progress!

Hope you are all having a great weekend…

Love Chic Living and Love Your Home

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Feeling hot, hot, hot….

Feeling hot, hot, hot….

by Clare Mansell

Over the last week or so I have begun to wonder how we ever coped with living and working in Cyprus for two years. It’s not that I object to sunshine and warm weather (I’m not moaning, I promise!) It’s just that it is very hard to get anything constructive done when it’s this hot and we have loads to do, most of which involves moving furniture… Urrrgggh.

So, as we have been spending more time outside the house than in, I was grateful for a well timed delivery of summer essentials from Boots.

I always remember Boots fondly as the place we’d stock up before our summer holidays in Spain when I was a child, it was all part of the drawn out build up to a holiday which usually involved being bought a new book to read too! Of course a lot has changed since the 1980s when we wore sun protection factor 2 on the beach and thought nothing of getting burned quite regularly. Fortunately the Boots experts have lots of advice about how to stay safe in the sun this summer and they offered me the chance to put a question to their experts too. Thinking of the care free summers I spent with minimal protection in the 80s I was curious to know what the advice was for kids these days…

Q. “There is a lot of talk about children not getting enough vitamin D and I am wary of smothering my son in suntan lotion too early in the year. Is there an easy way to tell when you should apply sun protection in the UK?”

A. “We receive a great deal of incidental sun exposure throughout the year all of which allows synthesis of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is also present in our diet; oily fish being a good source, and this can also be supplemented. Deliberate UV exposure without sun protection should be avoided as even short exposures can cause long term skin damage. As a rule of thumb think about using sun protection from April to end of September.”

I thought that was a rather interesting response and certainly a indication that I might need to buck up my rather slack personal suntan lotion routine (Ooops!) You can find more help and advice here.

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