Archives for posts with tag: Ikea

Parents! Don’t take this the wrong way: I’m not trying to shame you. But so many people ask me about storage when they have kids, and I think to answer this you just have to take a long look at the floor and see what’s getting between your toes. Be reassured: I have very little interest in hoovering, so feel free to take a rather blurry look at the floor. We are focussing on the toyscape, not dust bunnies or muddy footprints: the ever-encroaching army of kids’ stuff that litters any free surface of our once-calm homes.

For everyone it’s different, but I’ll bet you can name at least one plaything that you would love to put in its place, and stop spending at least a significant proportion of your day tripping over.

For us it’s cars. Races, lines, complex combinations snaking around furniture and walls, with a high-pitched Murray Walker-style commentary and glorious shrieking engines.

Looks like an opportunity to overtake....

Looks like an opportunity to overtake….

Ever since Jonas was tiny, we’ve had to respect these lines, and the story behind them: the race isn’t over until the chequered flag waves.

Two races, two commentaries, too loud

Two races, two commentaries, too loud

In times when we’ve needed the floor to be clear, they’ve taken snapshots of the race for future re-enactments. That’s how I’ve got reams of these photos, blurry and wonky, but with crucial information contained within.

The M25 is a trifle congested today

The M25 is a trifle congested today

Even a brief dabble in ‘track’ building (Brio wooden railway)

Commuter chaos: leaves and a baked bean on the line

Commuter chaos: leaves and a baked bean on the line

normally ended up serving as a backdrop to another race.

“Could it be that we’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere? Maybe it wasn’t left after the chicane…”

I thought it would be helpful to share some of the best-loved and most successful storage items  — those which have got you through those years of ‘entire house as playroom.’

Our particular floor/sanity saver — one which has served us so well — has been a set of hinged, lidded wicker baskets with a calico liner (see above photo). With the cars tucked up safely inside for the night, these boxes looked rather attractive stacked in an unused fireplace in the living room of our first home. For the 18 months we spent in a (cosy/small) rental, they took up residence under a window next to the sofa. They didn’t look like kid furniture, so once the lid was shut, they blended right in. Now they live in Malachy’s bedroom — holder of the race mantle these days — and have lost their fabric innards at some point or another.

We bought the set of three from B&Q at a satisfyingly low price, and they’ve served us so well, but B&Q don’t do them any more. All I can do is point you in the direction of some other savvy outlets who still offer something similar. Remember, the hinged lid is the important bit for stacking. You want a box big enough to hold your stash of vehicles (nothing more frustrating at tidy-up time than a lid that doesn’t quite close: tantrums are made of this) but small enough for you to lug from room to room when needed. Also, and maybe this is a boy way of thinking, but toys seem to work best stored in families — ie cars in one box, trains in another; Playmobil in a big tub… I don’t know: where do Little Ponies prefer to hang out? In any case, they and all their equipment should be stabled together.

So in a spirit of great stowed generosity, I’ve compiled for you a list of the places you can still buy hinged lidded wicker baskets – so that you too can clear the clutter. You’re welcome.

In at Number One, with good looks and a reasonable price point is the offering from Wilkos:

Willow Grey storage hamper/ £8 Wilkos size 35 x 25 x 17cm

Willow Grey storage hamper/ £8 Wilkos size 35 x 25 x 17cm

If you’re looking at a more advanced case of toy invasion, or simply don’t have the floorspace free for any more furniture, how about tucking this friendly storage monster under the bed?

Underbed Storage Willow Grey/ from Wilkos at £20, 40 x 70 x 20 cm

Underbed Storage Willow Grey/ from Wilkos at £20, 40 x 70 x 20cm

George at Asda is on the case too, with this similar-looking basket. They call it a trunk, but don’t worry, it isn’t actually that huge. The price is reasonable too.

Vintage Style Storage Trunk/George at Asda £10, 40.5 x 30.5 x 22cm (or £6 for the smaller version at 31.5 x 20.5 x 13.5cm)

Vintage Style Storage Trunk/George at Asda £10, 40.5 x 30.5 x 22cm (or £6 for the smaller version at 31.5 x 20.5 x 13.5cm)

You’d have to shell out more at Homebase, but you do get three for your investment — one largish trunk and two bijous containers (easier for little hands to transport).

Natural Storage Chest plus two boxes/ Homebase £45.99, chest measuring 44 x 84 x 45cm and the small baskets neat cubes of 35cm

Natural Storage Chest plus two boxes/ Homebase £45.99, chest measuring 44 x 84 x 45cm and the small baskets neat cubes of 35cm

A stately offering from Muji with taller dimensions — a steeper price point too.

Rattan Box with Lid in X-Large/ Muji £20, 36 x 26 x 32cm

Rattan Box with Lid in X-Large/ Muji £20, 36 x 26 x 32cm

Finally, a couple of giant options — less wieldy, to be sure, but sometimes those collections do get rather large. This from Wilkos is a reasonable price for the size:

Wilko Storage Trunk in White/ £35 with hefty measurements at 59 x 42 x 40cm

Wilko Storage Trunk in White/ £35 with big bones at 59 x 42 x 40cm

And at the top end of our collection, Ikea brings you this sturdy trunk for the bulkiest items (I’m thinking Scalextric for this one: nice spacious garaging here).

Byholma Chest in grey/ Ikea at £65 for the sizeable dimensions of 72 x 50 x 50 cm

Byholma Chest in grey/ Ikea at £65 for the sizeable dimensions of 72 x 50 x 50 cm

How do you contain the chaos? I’ll bring you some more ideas in future posts, but in the meantime, I’d love to hear your tidy-up time solutions!

It’s always exciting to see a design come to life. A few weeks ago I popped round to Holly’s kitchen to see how she was getting on now everything has been built and installed. You might remember our neat little pairing of Bodbyn grey and Brokhult wood-effect which I told you about in pick and mix — now they’re nestled together and established, and it’s time to show you the results.

As you might remember, we chose grey for the doors and drawer-fronts, and end-panel pieces in faux wood. The wood brings a warmth to the mix, and stops the grey from feeling too stark.

Standing sentry

Standing sentry

A tall cabinet is a great home for those extra items you don’t always allow space for: broom, mop, even the hoover. This one fits snug between a wall buttress and a door. Cheaper than getting a carpenter to build the cupboard from scratch, and with all the useful internal fittings that come with Ikea kitchen units.

The contrast of materials is best displayed in the wall of storage we created to surround the fridge. In expensive high-end (modern rather than traditional) kitchens you often get a block of cabinets encased in a framework of eye-catching wood.

Fridge cosy

Fridge cosy

You can recreate this effect with Ikea units by using either side panels and a top cornice, or for a more chunky wraparound, re-purpose a ready-made wooden worktop. Here in Holly’s kitchen there was a limited amount of space between the doorway and the window wall, so we chose to maximise the storage options and go for the slimmer panels.

The neutral shades of the cabinetry meant that we weren’t trapped with one colour scheme for the room. Holly opted for a slate-effect worktop, black cooker hood and a gleaming black splashback.

Bold in black

Bold in black: extractor fan from Ikea, now discontinued (but black hoods in other designs are still in stock); black glass splashback from Cheadle Glass; Duropal Welsh Slate worktop from Plasman

In contrast, the blinds are a perky deckchair stripe in mustards, greys and whites.

Shades of colour

Shades of colour: Ashanti Antique roller blind from 247 Blinds

The windowsill above the sink lends a cheerful aspect onto the garden — plants thrive on both sides of the glass.

Shades of colour

Showcase your shrubs – what kitchen windowsills are there for. Tap is called ‘Palazzo’ from Mayfair.

Most of the walls are painted white, but this feature wall in a bright teal brings a colourful jauntiness to the room.

Teal wall

Teal: on the warm and cheerful end of the blues spectrum

Of all the features in this room, perhaps my favourites are these marbled lights floating above the table:

Cool grey veins

Cool grey veins: BHS Nala pendant lights, heartbreakingly no longer available in store (but you might find them on eBay if you’re lucky)

A translucent and delicate pair when turned off, and warmly glowing when on:

Illumination transformation

Illumination transformation

Light up your life

Light up your life

This kitchen has come together in a vibrant way, full of personality and warmth. I love the way the cabinet pairing works — and that Holly didn’t need to spend a fortune to do it. It’s made me wonder what other excellent combinations you could create if you think just a little outside the box. It’s certainly worth exploring beyond the suggestions presented on the pages of a catalogue or in basic showroom designs in store, and see where these ideas take you. Who knows what bespoke discoveries you might dream up!

Our music room, as you may remember, was almost completely finished last year: the shelving went up, the rug went down, the boxes of CDs and books were emptied and rehoused.

Everything in its place

Everything in its place

Dark woods make it cosy

Dark woods make it cosy

There were however a couple of things which we put on hold until we could amass further inspiration/finance. One was wallpaper for the chimney breast wall, and the other was a statement pendant light.

Because Tim likes large drum-style shades, I bought him this lovely shade from Ikea:

Ikea's NYMÖ shade in wine red and copper

Ikea’s NYMÖ shade in wine red and copper

It’s large (59cm diameter) and a warming pinkish red which incidentally fits perfectly with our Kattrup rug:

Kattrup warms the boards

Kattrup warms the boards

We also invested in a longer cord to bring the pendant down a little. Lowering your lighting works really well in rooms where you would like to create a gentle atmosphere with light pools rather than a bright flood — which is, granted, functional but can be rather stark. The cord set from Ikea, Sekond, was only £4, and runs to 180cm if you need it. We set the base of our shade just a little higher than the tallest person we know, and despite our high ceilings the room feels instantly cosier when the light is on.

But perhaps the most exciting thing about this new light is this:

Pattern springs forth

Pattern springs forth

The perforated shade creates a fabulous retro pattern on all the walls — who needs wallpaper now?!

Magic lantern

Magic lantern

We have a warm glow from the central light — reflecting brightly against the copper inside — and the walls are also lit up with images.

Playing with shadows

Playing with shadows

With our shelving lighting aglow, the contrasts of light and dark are heightened.

Now our lighting is getting really interesting

Now our lighting is getting really interesting

As statement lighting goes, this really does fit the bill. We have created a touch of coppery glamour, some magic lantern inspiration, and instant cosiness at the cost of £35 for a shade.

So, are we done here? Well I still think that this room can take a standard lamp in the corner near the armchair, and possibly a simple desk lamp for focussed work. But we may park the wallpaper plans for a while.

Caspar is sad. He’s normally really happy all the time, and can find a cheerful positive slant on nearly any misfortune or drudgery. So it’s a bit of a shock when he gets sad, and also very hard to predict.

The last time he got sad (apart from when Manchester United lose against anyone) was when we had to do the inter-seasonal clothes transfer, and handed down his old winter coat to Malachy. I had pre-empted the potential emotional descent by buying Caspar a really nice, new, RED coat (team colours) which was extremely cosy.

But it wasn’t the Old Coat and Malachy was very victorious in his inheritance.

It took a lot of time and diplomacy to make it ok.

Then, the little glass bedside light in Caspar’s room got smashed. No-one quite knows how, but it left a nasty shard-like edge on display, which was just too tempting to fiddle with, and so I went on a search for a replacement — little knowing the distress that awaited.

Here is the lovely light which I got.

Lekaryd LED light in red. Part bedside light, part gaming icon

Lekaryd LED light in red. Part bedside light, part gaming icon, part small item storage

I had browsed the Ikea website with Caspar a few days before and we liked the look of this because it looks a bit like Pacman — you can open and shut its mouth by sliding the top up and down. In addition, the lower section has a little hollow which is perfect for keeping teeth in for the tooth fairy (and also toenails for the toenail fairy but that’s another story). Also, as you can see, it is RED. What’s not to like?

Well, apparently, a lot.

I had not learnt my lesson from New Coat-gate and blithely introduced New Lamp with a big ceremonial plug-in at bedtime. Caspar’s face was stony and glum. I pointed out the little tooth/toenail hollow. He turned his head away and stared soulfully at the remains of Old Lamp.

“What are you going to do with my old light, Mum?” he asked quietly.

“Oh, well, I suppose I could put the glass in the recycling if I’m careful, and the rest of it will just go in the bin.” My voice had taken on a brittle, sensible tone.

But Caspar didn’t want to say a proper “goodbye” to Old Lamp. He wanted it to rest in the cellar with all the less-loved toys and the cardboard boxes and the camping equipment. He felt that would be less final. I was concerned about that jagged edge lurking in the cellar for an unsuspecting child to discover.

So we compromised. We decided that the heart of a lamp is its bulb.

Now you can see the read me...

Now you can see the real me…

That the outer shell is simply armour, clothing which you can replace or discard.

Don't judge a lamp by its shade. Even if the shade is not fit for purpose and frankly dangerous

Don’t judge a lamp by its shade. Especially if the shade is not fit for purpose and frankly dangerous

The lamp still remains a lamp if you have the light bulb and socket.

I'm still a lamp

I’m still a lamp

And so it does remain, nestled safely in the lightbulb box down in the cellar, enjoying its retirement in peaceful darkness.

A tooth came out the other day. We celebrated by hiding it in the tooth/toenail section of the lamp, and the tooth fairy was remarkably (uncharacteristically) prompt with her visitation. Maybe a New Lamp isn’t all bad.

*With thanks to @MYSADCAT for the inspiration

One of the things I like the best about Ikea kitchens is the freedom to choose from all the different colours and textures to create something completely bespoke. That’s a luxury you don’t normally have at the budget-end of the interiors market.

Even if you’re limited on budget, a pick-and-mix system means that you can still show personality and creativity in your choices. There is really no excuse for putting together dull and uninspiring rooms.

What's the bigger crime, Ed? Admitting to your second kitchen, or that it looks like this?

What’s the bigger crime, Ed? Admitting to the existence of your second kitchen… or that it looks like this?

Recently, one of my clients was deciding between a Howdens Kitchen (which is sourced directly through your builder and not generally marketed or sold to the trade) and one from Ikea. We weighed up the pros and cons, but in the end the potential for choice and creative scope won through. I may write further about this decision process soon — it’s something I’ve worked through a few times with different people, with different outcomes. Anyway, we wanted something a bit individual for this kitchen design, and with a brief to create ‘something cool,’ I got going.

As you might be aware, Ikea has had a complete kitchen furniture upgrade – the trusty Faktum has been replaced by a more modern and flexible system called Metod.

Where do we start? Ikea's new Metod system is like creating a Lego model

Where do we start? Ikea’s new Metod system is like creating a Lego model

This means that the dimensions of the units now feel more boxy, the drawers are deeper, and your options for storage are more varied. You might like a sleek block of minimalist doors to hide your gadgets,

Behind closed doors: Ringhult reflect the light and hide the clutter

Behind closed doors: Ringhult doors reflect the light and hide the clutter

or to ditch the doors altogether and display all your kitchenware in neat shelves;

Horda blocks are basically cabinets without doors: stack them and fill them

Horda blocks are basically cabinets without doors: stack them and fill them

to create the ultimate country-style kitchen complete with cornicing and wooden worktops,

Classic features here show off the more traditional look

Classic features here show off the more traditional look

or to play around with different textures and pattern.

Glossy red Ringhult makes a bold statement, while the geometric dimples on the Herrestad wall cabinets add to the glamour

Glossy red Ringhult makes a bold statement, while the geometric dimples on the Herrestad wall cabinets add to the glamour

First I looked at colours. My clients wanted something modern and sleek: they had been considering glossy cabinets and bright colours. However when we looked through inspiration sites like Houzz and Pinterest (really useful exercise — you can surprise yourself), we realised they actually gravitated most towards the greys and whites, with more natural tones and wood accents.

Ideal kitchen style for top budget -- a good starting point/ Roundhouse kitchen featured on Houzz

Ideal kitchen style for top budget — a good starting point/ Roundhouse kitchen featured on Houzz

Creative mix of colours, use of different materials/ Kitchen by Whitten Architects, featured on Houzz

Creative mix of colours, use of different materials/ Kitchen by Whitten Architects, featured on Houzz

So we played around with those shades, and came up with an inventive pairing from Ikea’s selection — Bodbyn Grey and Brokhult.

The Bodbyn range at Ikea comes in a few shades, one of which is a mid-grey. The doors are featured with a simple carved insert, Shaker-style. But you don’t have to recreate a farmhouse when you use it.

Stylisheve does Bodbyn grey. Pared down and modern

Stylisheve does Bodbyn grey. Pared down and modern

Chic grey Bodbyn nestles in this open plan apartment/

Chic grey Bodbyn nestles in this open plan apartment/ Pinterest page by Thomas Strubreiter https://uk.pinterest.com/thomasnordic

Ikea pairs its Bodbyn with chequerboard tiles and industrial style accessories

Ikea pairs its Bodbyn with chequerboard tiles and industrial style accessories

Get more bling with your Bodbyn: Ikea's show kitchen sparkles

Get more bling with your Bodbyn: Ikea’s show kitchen sparkles

Brokhult is a wood effect finish with distinct striped markings: a little bit retro, unapologetically faux, with grey-hued tones and smooth texture.

Brokhult features heavily in this from Kitchens by Design LA

Brokhult features smartly in this from Kitchens by Design LA

Skonahem puts Brokhult in a nautical, driftwood-type of role

Skonahem puts Brokhult in a nautical, driftwood-type of role

I felt that putting these two together would warm up the potentially stark grey with a complementary wood accent. So I plumped for Bodbyn grey doors, with surrounds and end panels in Brokhult. One section of the room needed cupboards to surround the large American-style fridge. These cabinets in turn are wrapped around by the Brokhult, creating a neat stand-alone unit. I hope to get some photos of the finished room for you very soon, so you can see how well they work together.

Back in the design stage, having established the core colours and materials, we now had to draw together worktops, lighting, extra shelving, window coverings, flooring, taps, oven and splashback. I’ll take you through these next time — some beautiful products were bought and some careful decisions were made.

Until then, what are your thoughts on Metod? Have you installed this new style Ikea kitchen in your own home? What pick-and-mix successes have you had?

A few years ago we moved to sunny Manchester from London. The complex factors involved meant that for a few (long) weeks we didn’t have a school place for Jonas, then six years old. So I home-schooled. Actually, I didn’t, because he was convinced that he already knew quite considerably more than me. So I tried schooling by stealth. We visited National Trust properties (history), played scrabble (literacy and maths) (relentlessly), and spent a good few hours in the park every day (outdoor games). The only ‘lesson’ which I was allowed to introduce into our home schedule was… weaving. Apparently, this was amazing fun and I just needed to buy some ribbons. Duly purchased, we set about creating all manner of different patterns threaded through paper. It wasn’t really at all skilful, but what with Manchester’s Cottonopolis heritage, and the stark lack of interest in any other craft activity…

When we do junk modelling, we like to let the materials speak for themselves.

When we do junk modelling, we like to let the materials speak for themselves.

I lost the green lollipop stick legs on the way home, but I think you can see that quite clearly this is meant to be me.

I lost the green lollipop stick legs on the way home, but I think you can see that quite clearly this is meant to be me.

…it meant we were at least ticking a few creative boxes.

Now we are quite considerably further advanced in school careers and all the boys have for some reason done weaving: clearly a basic life-skill — who knew? Generally the in-and-out ribbons slop out of position and buckle at one end, sometimes I just find lonely escapee strands curled on the floor. But every now and then we get an offering which is actually quite attractive. Not ‘maybe-they-have-a-future-in-this’ successful, but quite pretty nevertheless.

And when one arrived home tastefully mounted on some black cardboard, I had an idea. This would look fantastic displayed in a light box. What if I were to somehow able create an illuminated frame? It could hang in a dark area of the kitchen (a place where I wish we’d wired in some wall lighting) and bring some sparkle without us having to undergo expensive and messy wiring work.

Gloomy space

Gloomy space

As you may remember, most of my Pinterest craft moments are classified amongst the ‘fail’ or ‘humour’ categories, so I held off for a long time before deciding to experiment. However, in the end, my curiosity got the better of me, and I went ahead.

So here is how you go about making a light-box frame to preserve and display your child’s genius classroom achievements:

Do your shopping:-

Ikea Ribba picture frame

Ikea Ramsta string lights (battery operated) and appropriate sized batteries

Sheet A3 thick black paper (or whichever colour you prefer for the backing)

Glue gun and sticks (now you own these the Pinterest world is your veritable craft oyster)

Two of those useless novelty erasers you get in party bags or as part of football team membership packs (you need a couple that are the same depth and ideally also rubbish at actually rubbing out)

A very sharp knife (Stanley knife)

Masking tape

Gaffer tape

U-shaped small screws/ thick wire staples

Sturdy string/cord

Get creating:-

Place your Ribba frame carefully glass-side down on a soft firm surface (such as a blanket on a table top) so that it doesn’t scratch. Take it apart by unhooking the little clasps at the back.

What you get when you dissect a Ribba

What you get when you dissect a Ribba

You are going to remove the backing board (the brown one) but leave the (white) cardboard mount in position on the glass. Replace the little clasps again, this time only holding the glass and mount in place.

Pop your batteries into the string lights and check they work. Now take your backing board and at one of the bottom corners trace around the light battery box with a pencil. With a very sharp knife (on a chopping board or other handy surface) cut out this corner so that the battery box (and light switch) will be accessible once you’ve fixed the backing board back into the frame. Set the backing board aside and nestle the battery switch box into the bottom left-hand corner of the frame (so it’s hidden by the mount). Masking tape it into position, and then drape the string of lights loosely but evenly around the mount. When you have the lights equally positioned, masking-tape them into position. They should be hidden by the mount when viewed from the front, but obviously when they’re turned on will glow light onto your piece of genius art.

Back to the backing board: cover it carefully with your chosen backing paper. Neatly fold around the edges and attach at the back using the glue gun. Leave to dry, then turn over and attach the weaving masterpiece in position, again using the glue gun.

Using the sharp knife, cut the annoying novelty eraser into equal-sized blocks about the size of a pea.

The Disney Cars erasers are actually fit for purpose, so I didn't chop these up. Spoiler alert - the reindeer wasn't so lucky.

The Disney Cars erasers are actually fit for purpose, so I didn’t chop these up. Spoiler alert – the reindeer wasn’t so lucky.

These are going to be supports upon which you will be laying the backing board, to keep it level. Arrange them around the mount board — amongst the string lights — at regular intervals, especially in the corners. Now glue them in position.

Get ready with your prepped backing board, pop little dabs of glue onto the top of each eraser stump, and press the backing board section firmly down onto the glue. Because you’ve now wrapped it, the backing board should be fairly securely wedged into the frame, as well as being attached to the little rubber chunks. Secure it further with gaffer tape, especially at the top and bottom.

It’s highly unlikely that the feeble mounting hooks or wire that come with your Ikea Ribba frame are going to support your now altogether more weighty creation. Instead you can use some u-shaped nails (staples)…

When picture hooks don't work.

When picture hooks don’t work

…and some strong cord or string instead. Tap the staples into the frame and tie the string through and around them with some tight knots. You can then drive the staples even further in to secure it all further.

Now switch it on and see your work of art subtly illuminated! It turns out that mine had some glittery threads running through it and these reflect the lights, making the whole thing even more impressive.

Proud creation.

Proud moment

Making the most of a boring space - weaving illuminated

Making the most of a boring space – weaving illuminated

A simple way to let your Victorian home shine with its original features is to sand and varnish the floorboards. We were excited to find in the course of our renovation that under the old dark carpets were boards in reasonable condition, so we got them stripped. Once finished, they were beautiful, but as the winter approached, we realised just how impractical our decision was. Upstairs is fine, as the heat from the floor below rises up and keeps things relatively cosy. But the two downstairs rooms felt exposed and draughty. Below each are two rather dank cellar rooms, and as far as we can work out, very little insulation in between. It made for a chilly experience working in the music room by day, and evenings in the sitting room were not exactly snug. We invested in a large grey rug for the latter quite early on, which certainly blocked some of the breeze, but you could still feel it swirling around the skirting boards if you were to venture away from either of the sofa islands.

Talking with some other owners of ‘well-ventilated’ homes, Tim found out about a brilliant product, called Draughtex, which he bought and installed. It comprises some slim, hollow rubber tubing which is pressed into the gaps between floorboards, then driven in with a special wheel tool, so that it is no longer visible. The rubber expands to fit the width of the gap.

Nifty insulation solution

Nifty insulation solution

This made things much better right away. But the music room was still rather bare and lacking in any form of fabric (we don’t have curtains, just plantation shutters) to soften things. Whilst I quite like the plain beauty of the wooden boards and the white walls, it did feel a little austere and blank.

We started a search for a rug, preferably a large one, to bring some colour, warmth and character to the room.

After a little look around, we decided to look for a flatweave rug, with a colourful bright design. These seemed to be pretty pricey, certainly in the larger sizes (ideally about 2m by 3m), and with a strict £200 budget it seemed that Ikea was our only option. However they seemed to offer quite a few, so we went and had a look.

For a while I felt that this rug, called Stockholm, would work the best, with its bursts of green and chunky design.

Ikea's Stockholm: blocky and green

Ikea’s Stockholm: working with a colour trend

Unfortunately though they didn’t seem to actually stock it in any of their stores, so we were nervous about ordering it online and then finding that it wasn’t anything like we’d hoped. I was aware that Tim’s not that keen on green, so it would have had to have been really impressive to persuade him. I also felt that the brash scheme, whilst currently quite trendy with its verdant blocks, could date quite quickly, and we wanted something that was slightly less of a statement piece.

I had seen some great rooms with vibrant Turkish kilims and Aztec designs on my online searches.

Flooral tributes: an apartment featured on Fantastic Frank goes to town on rugs

Flooral tributes: an apartment featured on Fantastic Frank goes to town on rugs

These looked like old friends, pieces that you could put in any room, that defied traditional colour schemes but brought warmth and energy.

So we looked again, and found this:

Ikea's Kattrup: perky reds and golds

Ikea’s Kattrup: perky reds and golds

This seemed far more suitable, so we went ahead.

And here’s the result:

Reading nook

Reading nook

Room to make music

Room to make music

Everything in its place

Everything in its place

Dark woods make it cosy

Dark woods make it cosy

Low view: cupboards and rug

Low view: cupboards and rug

Wide aspect

Wide aspect

Light streams in

Light streams in

The budget is now spent for this room, but next we’ll be searching out a lampshade, possibly looking for an elegant curving floor lamp to place behind the armchair, and taking another look at that wallpaper.

Have you had problems with old draughty rooms? Let me know if you have any helpful tips to share.

 

 

 

I know, it’s been so long since I last mentioned our poor old music room. It has been languishing in dusty chaos like the Dorian Gray of our house renovation. Way before we moved in, the inspired wall shelving (constructed from layered units from Ikea) was assembled and the plantation shutters were installed… and there we stopped. At the end of last year we hauled all the old boxes of CDs and books up from the cellar so that we “wouldn’t forget about them,” and then promptly forgot about them.

You might remember some dalliance with wallpaper which I had before Christmas. In the end (despite how much fun it was to consider all the options) we didn’t go ahead because we hadn’t really got a picture of the rest of the room yet. However somehow, in the meantime, we have, and it is all finally coming together.

A spurt of organisation this weekend has meant that I have built in some natty drawers and doors to the bottom rung of shelves. We were motivated by the news that Ikea had decided to phase out its storage system called Expedit. This cube-inspired shelving icon has had an illustrious life, as likely to be found nestled amongst the reclaimed furniture of hipster apartments and practically attired family homes: lauded for its boxy good looks and functional design. The cubby holes are the exact right shape to file away your old-school vinyl, display flowers, pack full of books or even put a colourful storage box to stow away those less sightly items.

Little boxes: homes for our stuff

Little boxes: homes for our stuff

So we heard this ‘end of line’ news with a small twinge of horror, having covered one entire wall of the music room with Expedit, in the manner of (but much cheaper to execute than) a full sweep of bespoke shelving. Despite the wonderful resource of a whole website of helpful Ikea hacks it took quite an involved session of planning to find the right combination of given units to arrange against our wall. We had meddled around with the 4×4; 5×5; 4×2; 5×1 and 2×2 configurations before plumping for four horizontal 5×1 units stacked two-high, topped with a couple of mammoth 5x5s.

Fitting it in: Expedit layout for our wall

Fitting it in: Expedit layout for our wall

A smattering of LED lighting in odd shelves makes a nice random effect, and a few bulbs point up to the ceiling above the unit, illuminating the plaster mouldings.

Light touches: Dioder LEDs bring splashes of emphasis

Light touches: Dioder LEDs bring splashes of emphasis

For environmental reasons Ikea have decided to introduce a less chunky replacement to Expedit, called Kallax. This will apparently be slimmer around the frame (thereby using less wood) but otherwise sport the same dimensions.

Check out my broad frame

Check out my broad frame

Ikea usher in a new eco-warrior

Ikea usher in a new eco-warrior

The associated boxes, drawers and doors sold in the same range will supposedly be interchangeable with, and still fit, both Expedit and Kallax units. Be that as it may, we didn’t want to get stuck with a wall full of shelving which we couldn’t accessorise, just in case there were slight variations. I sped out to buy up the stock we needed, and came back with boxes, doors and drawers.

Bank of doors and drawers form the lower layer

Bank of doors and drawers form the lower layer

In our house, the past few months have seen a flurry of (frankly previously inconceivable) CDs sales activity, that has resulted in a very reasonable remnant of a collection. In previous properties we have had to consider the vast CD population as part of the overall design: a great swathe of custom shelving and substantial square metre-age in storage taken up with the 80s pop bands, the rave mixes and dance compilations and Best Ofs. I think we now agree that the new streamlined stock is much easier to accommodate, after the cull/massacre/clear-out since Christmas (appropriate noun to be selected depending on your point of view).

The lower echelons

The lower echelons

We were hoping to house the survivors in the drawers, and they do fit, but sadly not so that you can actually read what they are. So they get a reprieve, and their very own line on display.

Eclectic: steamboat to the fore, house music aft

Eclectic: steamboat to the fore, house music aft

Mixed neighbourhood: Delft houses abut a wall of Now albums

Mixed neighbourhood: Delft houses abut a wall of Now albums

We also executed a quality control exercise with the fiction paperbacks, donating those we weren’t too fussed about and creating a happy rainbow of favourite novels with the ones which we kept. Colour grouping is a smart way to arrange books, as long as you are not too fussy about knowing where any one individual volume might be. In this form they seem to provide just as much of a decoration in the room as if we’d gone at it with a paintbrush, only with quite considerably less effort.

Across the spectrum: literature in colour

Across the spectrum: literature in colour

The reference titles are coralled by subject matter on the upper shelves; photo albums occupy the top flight. There is even a two-cubicle section in the gods where the LPs live. The 7″s are still lurking on the floor at the moment, awaiting their fate.

Craig, will you make the final cut?

Craig, will you make the final cut?

Only a few empty spaces remain, and we’re nearly there with the sorting, only a few homeless items still to place, and for the first time in a while we can actually see most of the floor.

A small pile of work still to do

A small pile of work still to do

I have spent the winter months huddled at my computer whilst the files and scrapbooks have slumped in cosy privilege against the radiator. Now we can reach the shutters to let the sunlight in, and the space is starting to feel bright and ordered.

Piano corner: a semblance of order

Piano corner: a semblance of order

Shutters filter in the daylight

Shutters filter in the daylight

Next on the list are lamp shade, rug and that wall covering. I’ll bring you news on that soon, once we’ve fine tuned the shelves….

In the meantime, how do you store your stuff? Do you like acres of display, or do you prefer to shut it all away? In strict order or mix and match?

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the very fun-looking presents the boys have received in recent months was an origami kit, making cute animals out of nothing but small squares of paper (and, it turns out, deep reserves of patience). It sat in our craft pile for a while before Malachy found it one rainy afternoon and wanted to make his paper zoo.

It all seemed so easy.... / Wild and Wonderful Origami

It all seemed so easy…. / Wild and Wonderful Origami

It is possible that well-drilled craft-making children and their Pinterest-successful mothers can tackle these complex challenges with their eyes shut. After all, with paper that small, how hard can it be? Well, I can now tell you that it is in fact pretty hard, and requires a substantial amount of concentration and rule following, neither of which is particularly celebrated in our family, apart from on the football pitch, of course. The boys have all ‘had a go’ and then handed me the rather limp and wrinkly paper to ‘finish off.’ So we do have a slack-limbed sea otter and a wonky snake lurking in the green drawer of the sideboard (where craft goes to retire before being pensioned off, quietly and under cover of darkness, to the recycling bin) and the remaining kit is still full of potential design victories (ever optimistic) for next time there is a rainy afternoon.

No amount of Photoshop can hide the fact that this baby has never achieved the upright pose/Sea Otter: 'Easy'

No amount of Photoshop can hide the fact that this baby has never achieved the upright pose/Sea Otter: ‘Easy’

Which sorry background goes some way to explaining the admiration I have for this new Danish designer, and his amazing creations. Morten Droob has invented an origami lampshade called Dressed Up.

Shades of the dark arts/ Dressed Up origami lampshades from Droobski

Shades of the dark arts/ Dressed Up origami lampshades from Droobski

Folded paper lanterns and shades have long been popular, and at the moment you can see a lot of plain white wire-framed designs in the shops. Ikea alone have five:

Papery orbs from Ikea

Papery orbs and UFOs from Ikea

Additionally, the skirt-inspired shade is starting to make waves in some retail lines:

Neat little A-line from BHS, Ivory Pleated Bow; Lyrik from Ikea has petticoat charm; sweet little Etsy shop gem TutusafaribyApril; grass skirt from lights_linen on eBay

Neat little A-line from BHS, Ivory Pleated Bow; Lyrik from Ikea has petticoat charm; sweet little Etsy shop gem TutusafaribyApril; grass skirt from lights_linen on eBay

I love that Droobski manages to merge the two in this clever feat of paper engineering – there are no wire frames, simply origami wizardry. With their fulsome flamenco skirts and crisp pleats, Dressed Up shades come in a rainbow of colour options, all individually hand-folded at the artist’s work bench.

If you are looking for an inspiring piece of statement design for your room, this is such a perky and unique purchase. Check out the little vimeo clip on the Droobski website, on just how easy it is to attach and pop open your chosen shade.

As for me, I fold. In the manner of a poker game. And leave the proper folding to the experts.

Today I’m bringing you a really handy guide I found on Apartment Therapy, which encapsulates the process I go through to create a kitchen from Ikea that doesn’t look like it comes from Ikea.

Ikea kitchen incognito

Ikea kitchen incognito

We have used the same technique with every kitchen we’ve had: researched different, often expensive styles from well-known designers, and then chosen Ikea cabinetry and fittings which most resemble our “dream design.” Of course you don’t need to stick with Ikea for every element of the kitchen, either: our own Corian work surface from Interstyle Worktops actually came in cheaper than an equivalent composite worktop from Ikea. But for the bare bones and cabinet structure you really can’t beat the price. Read on and get inspired by Janel Laban’s clever comparisons!

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/which-ikea-kitchen-cabinet-doors-are-best-for-your-design-style-199512

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