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How to dress a round window

One of the challenges I gave our architect when we did our house remodel was to incorporate a round window in the design, I showed him images on Pinterest of vast porthole windows that took up whole walls and he rather sensibly scaled back our window to fit our budget and we got one which was a more modest 57cm across – but hey, I still got my circle!

Porthole windows are intrinsically nautical and playful in design, but they present their own challenges, one of which is how you dress them. In the beautiful summer house below, excluding light is not a problem, but in other rooms there will be certain times of the year when you need to block or filter daylight.

lorn_bigzoom8Photo via lightlocations.com

You can of course simply run a curtain rail in a straight line above a porthole window and draw fabric to either side, but I think that rather detracts from the look of the window and there are in fact several cleverer ways of doing it…

A solid interior shutter

One simple solution would be to mount a solid wooden circular shutter on a hinge on the inside wall next to or above the window. When you want to let the light in the shutter would fold back flat against the inside wall and then at night you can close it across the porthole and fix in place with a hook.

Made to measure circular blinds

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It’s possible to have blinds made to fit almost any shape of window including arches, circles and ovals. Luxaflex are one such UK company who do a custom shapes service for windows, offering a range of colours and styles to suit your home. They also look rather wonderful when they are backlit by the sun.

DIY circle curtain

You can buy quilting hoops in many sizes up to about 23 inches across, if you can find one that fits your window size you may have the start of a DIY solution. These metal or wooden frames lend themselves nicely to being the basis for some sort of fabric curtain. You could simply cut two circles of fabric slightly larger than the hoop, sew them right sides together halfway round the circle, turn right side out and pop the hoop inside and sew up the remaining half of the circle. If you want to filter out more light, you could use a darker fabric or add lining.

porthole bung cushion

A “porthole bung”

Our own solution to the round window problem was what is known as a porthole bung! Four years ago we went on holiday in Wales and next to every porthole on our narrow boat was a hook from which hung a foam cushion which slotted into the window at night, they are quite common on boats and I tucked away the idea at the back of my mind for future use. When we needed to apply it in our own house, we measured our window and bought a foam insert cut to size. My mum then made the piping and fabric cover to fit. It simply pops into the circular hole at night and blocks out the light.

This is a collaborative blog post

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She Shed makeover complete!

Finally a little later than planned (isn’t that always the case?) my She Shed makeover is finished! A few of you remarked that you liked the existing layout, but the inside needed repainting and once I started that it seemed logical to plan the use of the space inside a little better too…

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Other than redoing the paint job there were a couple of specific things I wanted to do differently in this space. I needed some sort of mini photo studio, to put all the sewing equipment in one spot and to try and fit a sofa in. We achieved it… and a bit more!

Before I show you photos I just want to say a huge thank you to Jim. I come up with the crazy ideas and he has to execute them, which he (mostly) does without grumbling. I’m very lucky to have him.

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Across one end I now have a two and a half metre desk which is made from an Ikea Karlby worktop with 40cm wide Metod kitchen units. It’s 90cm high which means you can work at it standing as well as sitting. I’m currently using a bar stool from our kitchen to sit on, but I intend to get a “beauty stool” which raises and lowers but has wheels to scoot about on. The positioning of the desk means I am now sewing next to the window, which makes sense in every respect. I reused some of the storage I had before and that’s now on the far right of the desk.

As you can see I managed to find a sofa! It’s a Klippan and I got it on eBay for £20. I was expecting it to be dirty and needing a new cover, but it was immaculate! It’s spent the last few weeks in our sitting room waiting to be moved in here and I think we are rather going to miss having it in the house!

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Next to the sofa is my chalk paint wicker chair. Loads of seating for friends to pop over and do crafty stuff…

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…Or for a film night! Yes, you may have already spotted it, but we’ve managed to fit a projector in. The joke is we’ve actually had this projector sitting in the loft for the last 3 years and I would have sold it were it not for the fact it’s not worth much. I’m really glad we hung on to it. Obviously you have to rearrange the furniture a bit to watch films, but the sound and picture are awesome!

So at the other end of the cabin we have a projector screen. Except it’s actually a black out blind… Same thing, but cheaper!

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It serves two purposes. The first is to watch films on (when it goes all the way down the wall and we move the table) and the second is as a photo backdrop…

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I’m really pleased with how it has turned out and can’t wait to have some time to put the new spaces to practical use…

Life With Munchers

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Adding colour with Joules Homeware

Last month Joules invited us to try out some of their lovely colourful Homeware. I’m already a big fan of Joules and actually bought most of my family’s Christmas presents from their clothes store, so giving their homeware the once over was right up our street. We selected one of their great pet duvets which are not only comfortable, but also look good (kind of important when you have to look at them I think) and unlike our previous dog bed are made of a fabric which doesn’t clog up with hair. We also chose a magnetic notepad and one of their Lobby lobster cushions.

This season the colour palette for Joules homeware is pink, turquoise and navy blue and it lends itself really well to some of the nautical themed items they sell like their lovely lighthouse cushion and lobster mug. You can still find their trademark florals appearing in the range too where they feature as the design on one of the three cake tins.

Here’s my pick of the new range which you can find over on the Joules website.

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1 – CAKEADOODLE Set of 3 Cake Tins £29.95 / 2 – SHORELY Four pack Coastal Mugs £36.95 /
3 – LIGHTBURY Lighthouse Cushion £24.95
/ 4 – MARYLEBONE Throw £49.95 /
5 – PERENNIAL Set of 6 Pencils £6.95 / 6 – THEA Two pack Tea Towels £12.95

Are you a Joules fan and if so have you got any favourites from the new homeware range which you are eyeing up?

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How our sitting room has changed & why interior magazines lie

Yesterday someone posted in one of the Facebook groups I’m a member of and asked why all sitting rooms in interiors magazines appear to lack curtains and televisions. “How can people possibly live like that?”

As the owner of a house that was featured in a magazine looking just as bare and unlived in I feel duty bound to try and answer the question and shatter some myths. It’s also a good time to show you what our sitting room looks like 18 months after we finished work. So, first a reminder, here’s what our house looked like when it appeared in Self Build & Design magazine in December 2014…

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The journalist who contacted us was keen to get her “exclusive” and wanted the photos taken literally days after the builders had left. No time to unpack boxes or settle in!

Lets take a closer look at this picture and examine the ways things have changed…

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  1. The TV is just out of shot here, entirely deliberately. We were saving up for a bit of furniture to put it on, so it was standing on a rather unattractive 99p plywood unit I bought on eBay
  2.  A wood burner with no wood? That black box on the right contained our welcome pack of wood from the retailer. The wood basket and the wood hadn’t been bought yet!
  3. We’ve now painted this wall and hung a picture here
  4. Why no curtains? Well my mum was very kindly making them for us and the sitting room ones were low on the list of priorities behind bedrooms
  5. Our Eames chair is one of our nicest bits of furniture so it was put here to be in the shot, it now lives in the sun room behind
  6. This rather horrid looking pine coffee table had just been bought on eBay. I’ve now painted and waxed it.
  7. This sofabed served as our “spare bed” when we were renovating the house, it’s now been moved to the study and a different sofa has taken its place
  8.  A Flokati rug under a coffee table, what world were living in? It’s been moved away from children’s snacks and glasses of red wine
  9. We inherited this table from my parents where it had been made to fit a space in their house. Everyone walked into that pointy corner, so we cut it off.

And here’s our sitting room eighteen months later, looking a whole lot more cosy, although the TV is still just out of shot… I promise you we do have one! Something else has changed too. I no longer have a wide angle lens, so you’ll have to make do with an iPhone shot…

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  1. Oh my goodness real life has crept into our house! There’s a baby chair in shot! Don’t worry we don’t have the fire lit when the baby is in it!
  2. That chair has now been moved to a spot in our kitchen where it actually gets sat in and the sofa has been swapped
  3. The coffee table makeover is now complete – thank you Annie Sloan!
  4. If you are wondering what the heck this is, it’s a quilt ladder. Are you telling me all homes don’t have one?
  5. The Flokati rug is edging closer to the door! As soon as spring is here we are actually going to wash it and retire it to our bedroom, they aren’t brilliant in high traffic areas.
  6. We’ve chopped the corner off this table and there’s more evidence of real life in the form of Lego!

Our house (like everyone’s I think?) will always be an ongoing project. The only place where it exists as a ‘finished’ job is the fantasy world of magazines!

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My birthday present to myself

I’m sure I’m not the only one who occasionally uses their own birthday to as an excuse to splash out on something that they really want, but can’t justify buying? For the last year we’ve had a rather sad looking Ikea paper lantern sitting in the corner of our living room which I’ve been itching to replace, but swapping one functional light with another functional light isn’t really something that’s easy to justify!

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I managed to resist some expensive but lovely film lights at Ardingly Antiques Fair last autumn and even resisted spending a Homebase voucher I won on a new light (we bought sensible storage for the garage instead!) but I’m afraid I did crack when I saw the Giant George angelpoise lamp on the Iconic Lights website.

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The “Giant George” comes in my favourite shade of yellow, it’s a classic 1930s design (so fits with some of my other midcentury repo pieces) and it’s practical for reading and sewing.

Fortunately the reason I was browsing the website was because I’d just been invited to join Iconic Lights ambassador program and although this wasn’t one of the products they were offering for review they did agree to give me a discount.

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“George” fits in perfectly with the strong colours in our living space and is a good match for our little folding Habitat table which Theo loves to sit at to eat his tea.

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In fact I’m so inspired by the addition of yellow to the room that I’m going to be adding a third yellow thing next week by jumping on the “partial painted wall” bandwagon. We even have a TV crew coming down to film us doing it for the pilot for a new Interior Design show… But that’s going to be a whole other blog post!

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