Five ways to grow your Instagram (without also losing your mind)

My Instagram Journey So Far

I started idly dipping my toe into Instagram in late 2016.  I was on maternity leave with my third son and looking for something to help pass the time that didn’t revolve around the contents of Mr Tumble’s spotty bag. I have never really been one for Mumsnet.  I can’t get over the feeling that it is slightly wrong to be discussing baby poo with strangers online so I thought I would try out Instagram instead.  I never set out with a grand plan, goals or a strategy.  It was just me sharing pictures of my bathroom and finding, to my surprise, a community of fellow interiors fans who liked the cut of my rolltop bath and shared a love of metro tiles and blow job gags.

The very first instagram post of my bathroom, complete with metro tiles, copper taps and a dodgy instagram filter!

The very first instagram post of my bathroom, complete with metro tiles, copper taps and a dodgy instagram filter!

Since posting that first murky shot of my bathroom 2 years ago I have gained 80K followers, had my pictures regrammed on some of my all time favourite Instagram accounts such as Apartment Therapy, seen my home featured in My House Beautiful and 91 Magazine, collaborated with some of my favourite interiors brands and been lucky enough to go on trips to and write about some amazing places including Malmo (my spiritual Scandi home).

The beautiful street of Torekov in Southern Sweden, which I was lucky enough to visit this year as a guest of Visit Sweden in the UK and Malmo Town

The beautiful street of Torekov in Southern Sweden, which I was lucky enough to visit this year as a guest of Visit Sweden in the UK and Malmo Town

Instagram has opened up many amazing opportunities for me. Including the opportunity for Malmo to go to Malmo!

Instagram has opened up many amazing opportunities for me. Including the opportunity for Malmo to go to Malmo!

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In the last 9 months I have also started, for the first time, to earn money from my Instagram and blog. Not the kind of money that enables me to make Ryan Gosling an ‘Indecent Proposal’ he would actually accept (although Ryan if I have misjudged this and you would in fact be my Demi Moore for £20 and a Grab Bag of Roast Beef Monster Munch call me).  But the kind of money that means that my dad no longer tells me to stop wanking over pictures of other people’s cushions (not literally I stress).

Picture from a recent collaboration with Visa to promote the local high street and independent businesses at Christmas

Picture from a recent collaboration with Visa to promote the local high street and independent businesses at Christmas

However, I have also discovered that whilst Instagram can build you up it can also knock you right back down again and, in the grip of algorithm angst, it can become easy to lose sight of why you started using the app in the first place.  So finding myself with five minutes free when no-one is asking me to wipe their bottom (I have told Mr Malmo he really need to start doing his own) I thought I would share with you five lessons I learnt in 2018 about how to grow your Instagram without losing your mind in the process. 

Serve up a Killer Shot

Errr duhh Malmo isn’t that the whole point of Instagram? It is but it is a basic principle I confess I have at times been guilty of forgetting!  When a post bombs it may well be because the evil algorithm has hidden you down the back of the Instagram sofa but sometime the truth is that actually you just served up a bit of a shit shot! Take this one of my bedroom for example.  At the time I thought I was unleashing #gridgoals but it struggled to get past 1K likes and then died.  But when I look back at it now I can see that I totally over did it with the filters, zoomed in too close on the bed cutting out the windows to the right and shaving off half of the bedside table.

Over filtered, over exposed and went down like an lead balloon!

Over filtered, over exposed and went down like an lead balloon!

In comparison in this shot I showed more of the whole room so you can see the bed in context and told more of a story in the image (in this case wife eats croissants in bed and sets off husband’s over sensitive crummy alarm).  I also edited the picture in a much lighter way.  Same room, different picture, different result with this picture receiving over 6k likes

A rustic bedroom revamp later and a much lighter, brighter photo saw this photo do much better

A rustic bedroom revamp later and a much lighter, brighter photo saw this photo do much better

Filters Can Be Your Friend Afterall

In my last blog about Instagram back in 2017, I wrote that I had learnt to go easy on the filters after an early addiction to adding borders to my images that made them look like they were trapped behind #beigebars.  But what I have learnt this year is that filters and editing tools (if used less cack handedly) can turn a photo from meh to marvellous.  They also allow you to create a look and feel to your feed that people start to identify with your pictures making them stand out from the crowd. 

The #beigebars from my early instagram career!

The #beigebars from my early instagram career!

I have started using third party apps like Snapseed and VSCO to edit my pictures and my goal for 2019 is to get to grips with Lightroom.  They have a much wider selection of preset filters to chose from than Instagram and allow a broader range of edits you can make to a picture.  It has been trial and error ( I still get it wrong sometimes as shown above) and you may prefer to leave you pictures au naturel. However, since making this change to the style of my pictures they have got picked up and regrammed by some huge interiors instagram accounts like My Interior, Apartment Therapy, Home Adore and Room Porn.  Those regrams have added about 1000 followers a time to my account.

A picture of my bathroom taken nearly two years ago

A picture of my bathroom taken nearly two years ago

The bathroom picture which scored over 70,000 likes when regrammed by Apartment Therapy in my now signature “Malmo & Moss” style.  It has been regrammed over 50 times on other accounts and accounted for a fair old whack of my Instagram growth in 2018

The bathroom picture which scored over 70,000 likes when regrammed by Apartment Therapy in my now signature “Malmo & Moss” style. It has been regrammed over 50 times on other accounts and accounted for a fair old whack of my Instagram growth in 2018

Fuck the Numbers

I am not going to pretend that I don’t care the number of likes my posts get or the number of followers I have.  The ping of a blue notification can be intoxicating! But what I learnt the hard way this year was that if the number of likes and follows you get becomes your main motivation and validation then Instagram can fairly quickly go from thriller to killer. 2018 started out well for me, I had a couple of pretty big regrams and gained 4.5K followers overnight when the Frugality mentioned me in her stories.  But then out of the blue my account suddenly ground to a halt. For the first time I was losing more followers than I was gaining and my pictures attracted a fraction of the likes they had been getting when my account was much smaller.

2018 got off to a good start with this picture of my kitchen being regrammed by @interior_delux

2018 got off to a good start with this picture of my kitchen being regrammed by @interior_delux

My first thought was that I had been shadow banned but I was still showing up on hashtags and after the normal two weeks it would take for shadow ban to elapse I was still in insta purgatory!  I drove myself crazy trying to work out what I had done wrong googling “why does Instagram hate me” and reporting the problem with pleading messages along the lines of “Dear Instagram please can I come off the naughty step".

My pictures started receiving far fewer like than ones like this, posted in my earlier instagram days when I had far few followers

My pictures started receiving far fewer like than ones like this, posted in my earlier instagram days when I had far few followers

It was frustrating to watch what felt like everyone else surge past me whilst my account went into reverse.  I had got totally sucked into a “race” mentality.  But then my husband put it all into perspective for me by reminding me of ‘Wanted’.  A truly terrible action film starring Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy from the late noughties.  The first 30 mins or so of the film are an enjoyable enough action caper in which Jolie and McAvoy team up to defeat a mysterious bad guy. But then it is revealed that the bad guy they are battling is, in fact, a weaving loom of the type that might appear in an episode of Cranford. The weaving loom in this analogy is of course the algorithm. 

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In the absence of a degree in computer science (or even a basic understanding of Microsoft excel) it will remain a mystery to me.  So instead of worrying about  followers I didn’t have, likes I wasn’t getting or how big other accounts were growing I decided to focus instead on engaging with the followers I do have and creating content that I think they will like and which I am proud of. That is what my stay in insta jail taught me and I have been happier and enjoyed insta much more ever since.  Which brings me to my next point.

Get Authentically Social

Getting regrammed by Apartment Therapy may have been one of my highlights of 2018 but so was the night when, home alone and relaxing in my favourite #FlaccidPenisFlanelettes, I shared a picture of them and asked people to show me their favourite #PyjamasPenisesLoveToHate in return.  I received over a hundred entries into the Boner Crusher Hall of Fame with nightwear featuring everything from fleecy festive owls to erection extinguishing ice skating penguins that had me howling with laughter.

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I didn’t share my pyjamas as part of any grand Instagram engagement strategy. I shared them because Mr Malmo was out and I was sitting on the sofa eating doritos and fancied some bants.  Instagram is “social media” and I am sure you have all read advice which says that the best way to grow your account is to be social and engage with other accounts.  There are many different ways you can go about that.  You can comment “love this” or “nice room” on as many accounts as you possibly can before you get thumb fatigue.  But the rather long winded point of my flaccid penis pyjama story is that when you forget about being strategic and make your followers laugh, or share something that allows you to build real rapport with the people following you they stop being a number and instead become your tribe, your champions and, in many cases, your friends in real life! 

Step away from your Phone

“Put Phone Down Mummy”. Four words spoken to me by my toddler this Summer which, combined with my stay in insta jail, caused me to reassess my relationship with Instagram. Prior to that point I had posted religiously every day at the most “insta” appropriate time and driven Mr Malmo mad by constantly being heard to say “just give me a minute whilst I” insert one of “reply to this comment, check my DMs, post this to stories”. Instagram had become like a job and it was zapping the fun out of it for me (not to mention those around me!). I already have a job (in sustainability) that I enjoy very much and I realised that whilst Instagram has brought me some amazing opportunities I don’t want it to become my full time career. And I certainly don’t want to miss out on times with my family worrying about the algorithm or how my posts are performing.

So young and yet so wise.  Sometimes a toddler can help you see things in a different light.  And sometime they just want to wipe banana on your clothes and stay up all night.

So young and yet so wise. Sometimes a toddler can help you see things in a different light. And sometime they just want to wipe banana on your clothes and stay up all night.

Moments like these don’t happen when you are glued to your phone (although technically I was holding the phone at the time to take the photo but you get the point I am trying to make!)

Moments like these don’t happen when you are glued to your phone (although technically I was holding the phone at the time to take the photo but you get the point I am trying to make!)

So I did what my toddler suggested and put my phone down. I now take at least 1 or 2 days off a week from posting and do it at times that fit in with family life rather than being preordained by Instagram insights. My account has not fallen off a cliff. I am still being offered opportunities and my account is still growing. Maybe not as fast as others that post more frequently but that is ok with me. Whilst Instagram does seem to penalize you if you disappear for long periods, a day or two off a week doesn’t seem to have angered the insta gods too much. Indeed I think my engagement has been better since I stopped posting as frequently, maybe because it is a case of absence makes the heart grow fonder?! To quote a truly great philosopher (Ray Winstone in the Paddy Power adverts) when the fun stops stop. Whether it is for a day, a week or a month a little insta break every now and then can sometimes be what you need to get your mojo (and sanity) back.

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So there you have it, my advice, for what it is worth, on how to grow your instagram without losing your mind (or being a dick). Thank you to every one of you who follows me, banters with me and encourages me on a daily basis.

A Weekend at Ivywood Cottage, Norfolk

Mr Malmo and I are not really country people. He grew up in Nottingham surrounded by bus fumes rather than bushes and, although I hail from Northumberland, 20 years of living in London have rendered me twitchy whenever I am more than 300 metres away from a filament bulb and a flat white. However, having three boys has given us a new found appreciation of wide open spaces where you can let lad/labradors off the leash with less people around to hear you loudly telling them to stop what they are doing and go for a poo or to take a SuperZing out of their nose. With this in mind my google holiday search have increasingly started to feature more escapes to the country than city breaks which is how I discovered Ivywood Cottage on the Norfolk/Suffolk border .

The black timber clad exterior of a rustic shed in the garden of Ivywood Cottage in Norfolk

The black timber clad exterior of a rustic shed in the garden of Ivywood Cottage in Norfolk

About the Cottage

Ivywood Cottage is owned by Laura and James who live in the big house next door with their 3 year old identical twin boys and new baby. It was the discovery that they were expecting the twins that prompted them to trade in their one bedroom flat in Islington for James’ native Norfolk and a Georgian House in the country with the added bonus of Ivywood Cottage attached. Moving from such a busy part of North London to Redenhall was, Laura admits, a massive change. Instead of the emergency services hurting past at all hours of day and night and noisy neighbours stomping around, they now have the odd tractor trundling past and a cockerel crowing next door. But having grown up on a farm herself and James a country village it wasn't the huge shock it could have been.

The dreamy cottage exterior of Ivywood with a picture perfect porch. I love the whitewashed bricks and clematis growing up around the door

The dreamy cottage exterior of Ivywood with a picture perfect porch. I love the whitewashed bricks and clematis growing up around the door

In the summer this would be the perfect spot to sit out with a glass of wine watching the sun set

In the summer this would be the perfect spot to sit out with a glass of wine watching the sun set

Their adjustment to country life has, therefore, been fairly smooth bar some standard country-newbie errors (running out of oil...several times, forgetting they have a septic tank, not realising they had a soak-away pond, not realising the lush green garden was actually thick with ground elder and bind weed…. Reading this list revealed the depths of my own #urbanignorance because I initially thought Laura was referring to running out of olive oil here and thought a soak away pond might be some sort of cool Grand Designs style contemporary garden water feature rather than a tricksy pond drainage system.

Where most people see an old shed I see my dream modern rustic cabin with black cladding. I would love to add a garden studio at home a little bit like this. I loved the bunting strung from it

Where most people see an old shed I see my dream modern rustic cabin with black cladding. I would love to add a garden studio at home a little bit like this. I loved the bunting strung from it

Downstairs at the Cottage

Ivywood Cottage has been beautifully restored so that you get the best of old and new. So there are gorgeous flagstone floors, exposed beams and quirky staircases but also the comfort of having a beautiful contemporary kitchen in soft grey with metro tiles and on trend copper taps and the very 21st Century pleasure for soft linen bedding from Loaf on all the beds.

I loved the whitewashed brick flooring in the living room laid in a herringbone pattern

I loved the whitewashed brick flooring in the living room laid in a herringbone pattern

The living room at the cottage was painted in neutral colours with texture and warmth added through touches such as the jute rug and woolen cushions and blankets

The living room at the cottage was painted in neutral colours with texture and warmth added through touches such as the jute rug and woolen cushions and blankets

We visited in January so took full advantage of the cosy woodburner in the living room which comes complete with all the urban comforts you need to ease you into country life gently i.e. ready access to the latest copy of Kinfolk. I loved how Laura has carefully mixed interiors styles together in this room, introducing vintage pieces such as two 1950s midcentury armchairs covered in gorgeous mossy green and smokey grey velvet.

One of the changes that Laura and James made to the cottage was to add a woodburner

One of the changes that Laura and James made to the cottage was to add a woodburner

Laura has been really clever at blending contemporary and vintage in the cottage. I loved these velvet mid century armchairs she had had restored

Laura has been really clever at blending contemporary and vintage in the cottage. I loved these velvet mid century armchairs she had had restored

City dwellers relax, the cottage was fully stocked with the latest issues of Kinfolk and Cereal Magazine

City dwellers relax, the cottage was fully stocked with the latest issues of Kinfolk and Cereal Magazine

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The nearest town to the cottage is Harleston where we stocked up on locally baked bread, bacon from Norfolk bred pigs and fresh orange juice for breakfast (and if I am honest also Weetabix, Nutella and Robinsons squash because my kids regard Granola and Fresh Orange Juice as their breakfast enemies ). The kitchen has a gorgeous farmhouse table, bench and tolix seats and I loved the industrial touches like the vintage lights over the island and the concrete worktops.

White metro tiles on the walls give the kitchen a contemporary feel that works with the medieval bones of the cottage

White metro tiles on the walls give the kitchen a contemporary feel that works with the medieval bones of the cottage

Concrete worktops contrasted with the shaker style kitchen units to add a shot of industrial style to the kitchen

Concrete worktops contrasted with the shaker style kitchen units to add a shot of industrial style to the kitchen

Restored vintage brass taps in the kitchen with my dream Belfast sink

Restored vintage brass taps in the kitchen with my dream Belfast sink

I loved the vintage industrial pendant lights hanging over the kitchen island

I loved the vintage industrial pendant lights hanging over the kitchen island

The dining table and chairs which comfortably seat 6-8 for large family breakfasts, lunches and dinners

The dining table and chairs which comfortably seat 6-8 for large family breakfasts, lunches and dinners

Upstairs at the Cottage

Upstairs are two double bedrooms (one with an ensuite) and a large landing area with vaulted ceiling which houses a sofa bed meaning the cottage can comfortably sleep six making it ideal for a family break, a weekend away with friends or a romantic retreat with your partner where you can enjoy spaces in your togetherness i.e. escape their snoring if you need to!

The vaulted ceiling landing space which has a sofa bed. I loved the pinstripe blinds

The vaulted ceiling landing space which has a sofa bed. I loved the pinstripe blinds

High ceilings and gorgeous exposed oak beams in the landing area. I liked the modern twist added by the contemporary bulb lights

High ceilings and gorgeous exposed oak beams in the landing area. I liked the modern twist added by the contemporary bulb lights

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I loved the panelling that had been added to the second double bedroom and the smoky grey colour on the walls

I loved the panelling that had been added to the second double bedroom and the smoky grey colour on the walls

The combination of linen bedding and cast iron radiators in the bedrooms make them super warm and toasty

The combination of linen bedding and cast iron radiators in the bedrooms make them super warm and toasty

There are a plethora of lovely country walks you can do from the cottage and a host of country pubs dotted all around. Laura’s favourite walk is a big loop from the house which just happens (!) to pass three pubs along the way. The last pub (about a 10 minute walk from the house) has a super children's play park a stones through away #parentingwin. After you have been out to take in the country air come home and warm up in the huge roll top bath. I have never been a huge shower curtain fan but the yellow and white candy striped one at Ivywood totally changed my view. I would happily have it cling to my naked body (if you are reading Ryan Gosling have similar thoughts about you).

The vintage sink and vanity area in the gorgeous rustic bathroom

The vintage sink and vanity area in the gorgeous rustic bathroom

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Pale pink metro tiles add a contemporary twist in the bathroom and provide contrast to the timber walls and wooden floors

Pale pink metro tiles add a contemporary twist in the bathroom and provide contrast to the timber walls and wooden floors

The yellow and white shower curtain that frames the roll top bath

The yellow and white shower curtain that frames the roll top bath

Exploring the surrounding area

Whilst the cottage is perfectly positioned for enjoying the best of the countryside there are also plenty of lovely coffee and cake shops nearby should you need a #FlatWhiteFix. One of Laura’s favourite cafes, Marsh Larder, is on a local farm and when it's warm, you can sit outside with a glass of prosecco, eating homemade cake whilst the cows in the field next to you gaze on. Or, if, like me, you have a slight fear of bovine animals, why not try the Earsham Street Cafe in Bungay who serve up an awesome homemade cake. Bungay also has some great antiques and interiors shops and Laura recommends checking out Naken Interiors in Beccles who stock great brands like Ferm Living. Slightly further afield are all of the delights of the Suffolk coast. We worked our way over to Southwold one day via Darsham Nurseries which serves up delicious breakfasts and lunches in a garden nursery (think Petersham Nurseries rather than Dobbies Garden Centre).

Darsham Nurseries is a must visit place for delicious lunches and brunches close to the Suffolk Coast

Darsham Nurseries is a must visit place for delicious lunches and brunches close to the Suffolk Coast

I loved the vintage mirrors and industrial pendant lighting in Darsham Nurseries cafe

I loved the vintage mirrors and industrial pendant lighting in Darsham Nurseries cafe

The reclaimed wood clad bar at Darsham Nurseries was ticking all my modern rustic boxes

The reclaimed wood clad bar at Darsham Nurseries was ticking all my modern rustic boxes

There are great beach walks to enjoy at Dunwich, Covehithe, Aldeburgh, Thorpness and Southwold to name but a few and even more great pubs and bakeries to sample. No self respecting instagrammer (or donut fan) should leave Suffolk without calling in at the Pump Street Bakery in Orford. And if you are looking for the perfect place for Sunday lunch look no further than the Unruly Pig near Woodbridge.

Miniest Malmo enjoy a romp through the sand dunes at Walberswick

Miniest Malmo enjoy a romp through the sand dunes at Walberswick

The sand dunes at Walberswick beach on the Suffolk Coast

The sand dunes at Walberswick beach on the Suffolk Coast

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We stayed at Ivywood Cottage at a discount but even at full rates it is great value for a weekend away at around £100 a night depending on the time of year. A single hotel room can easily cost that without any of the comforts, luxuries and style that Ivywood offers. We are already thinking about coming back not least because I can’t wait to see the renovations that Laura is carrying out on their neighbouring Georgian House. I am hoping I can convince her to let me come back and do a house tour when she is finished! In the meantime if you would like to book a stay at Ivywood Cottage the link is here

Source: http://www.malmoandmoss.com

Styling a Scandinavian Christmas Table

Christmas can be an expensive time of year with presents, parties and panto combining to mean you have taken on the national debt of Belgium by the 1st of January. I love decorating my home for Christmas but I don’t think you need to spend a fortune doing it or to invest in loads of stuff that you are going to chuck away after Santa has set off back to the North Pole. If, like me, you are operating with more of a Morrisons than Macy’s budget then going for a Scandinavian inspired Christmas look is ideal. Our Scandinavian friends like to keep things simple and minimal and to use lots of natural foliage that you can forage from your garden or local parks under the cover of darkness.

The Christmas table  Reena  and I created at our recent  Hygge for all Seasons  workshop

The Christmas table Reena and I created at our recent Hygge for all Seasons workshop

At our recent Hygge for all Seasons workshop at the Occasional Home Store, Reena (@hygge_ for _ home) and I created a Modern Rustic/Scandi inspired Christmas table scheme featuring 3 simple ideas for table decorations inspired by our favourite Nordic instagram accounts and nature. If you are not already following our inspiration accounts then you are in for a treat

The beautiful account of German sisters  @babes _  in _boyland

The beautiful account of German sisters @babes_ in _boyland

Cool white Christmas with a boho twist in the Swedish home of  @bytrineravn

Cool white Christmas with a boho twist in the Swedish home of @bytrineravn

Rustic maximalism in the Finnish home of  @storm_ and _ clay

Rustic maximalism in the Finnish home of @storm_ and _ clay

The space we were transforming for Hygge for all Seasons was a big lecture room overlooking a beautiful reservoir. It meant we were working with quite high ceilings and a bigger table than the average family would be sitting down to on the 25th December. But to show that the ideas can work in any setting I have also recreated them at home so you can see just how easy it is to do

The view out over the West Reservoir from our workshop room

The view out over the West Reservoir from our workshop room

Our workshop venue, a beautiful 1930s former water filtering station

Our workshop venue, a beautiful 1930s former water filtering station

We used a dark grey linen tablecloth kindly loaned to us by Chalk Pink Linen for the base of our table along with some of their lovely crisp fresh white linen napkins. They also do all of their linen in a gorgeous dove grey which I used when I styled my table at home. For our tableware we used earthy ceramic plates and beakers in muted neutral colours from Igigi General Store and then added interest to the table with some simple Scandi candle holders in the shape of stars from The King and I and I and for a tiny touch of twinkle some vintage crystal ones from Hellish Designs. We added a bit of Nordic drama to the table with our dramatic pampas table centrepiece and hula chandeliers.

Our gifting advent tree allowed Scandi Santa to share some suprises with our guests from Jord Home, Malako Skincare, Sevin London, Thornback and Peel, Lovestruck Interiors, Kate and the Ink, Igigi General Store, and A Little Botanical

Our gifting advent tree allowed Scandi Santa to share some suprises with our guests from Jord Home, Malako Skincare, Sevin London, Thornback and Peel, Lovestruck Interiors, Kate and the Ink, Igigi General Store, and A Little Botanical

A charcoal grey tablecloth from Chalk Pink Linen provided a great backdrop to our table scheme

A charcoal grey tablecloth from Chalk Pink Linen provided a great backdrop to our table scheme

We were working with quite a big space so went for a dramatic table centre piece using pampas grass and made the table cosier by adding sheepskins to our chairs from Jord Home

We were working with quite a big space so went for a dramatic table centre piece using pampas grass and made the table cosier by adding sheepskins to our chairs from Jord Home

After feasting on Bronuts from Norahs Brownies (it turns out that combining two of my favourite cakes together creates a third cake I like even more) our work shoppers went home with a luxury botanical candle from Join London which are hand poured in Jen’s South-East London riverside studio and use only natural ingredients. If you were not able to come along on the day but would like to create a similar modern rustic look for Christmas table then read on and find out how to use chicken wire, a hula hoop and fencing wire to create a Nordic Noel.

The Hygge for all Seasons look recreated on a slightly smaller scale in my kitchen

The Hygge for all Seasons look recreated on a slightly smaller scale in my kitchen

Make your own rustic advent chandelier

What you need: One hula hoop, approx 1 metre of linen or hessan, masking tape, floristry wire, mixture of faux and real foliage of your choice

Ok so you maybe reading this think a chandelier?? I thought she said this was going to be full of affordable ideas not looks to steal from the Palace of Versaille. But bear with me because the chandeliers in question are made using the humble hula hoop. I sourced mine off E-Bay for about £3 but charity shops often have them too. To cover them I used natural linen but a cheaper alternative would be to use hessian which is roughly £5 a metre.

Start by cutting the hessian into 10cm wide strips. Either tie on to the hula hoop or, for a neater look you can use masking tape to secure it in place. Wrap the strips around the hoop until it is fully covered, this is your base. The next step is to wrap a foliage garland around the hoop securing using florists wire. I used a simple garland made by Parlane that cost me £8. Depending upon how dramatic you want your hoop to look tie on mixture of faux and natural foliage (eucalyptus is good as it looks fine even when dried). I wanted mine to have a bit of drama so i tied springs of eucalyptus on pointing downwards using florists wire. Finally, cut four lengths of twine (mine were about 60cms long but it depends on the ceiling height you are working with) and tie each length on about 30cm apart around the hoop.

The humble hula hoop transformed into a stunning scandi chandelier

The humble hula hoop transformed into a stunning scandi chandelier

Once you have completed all of those steps, all you need to do is find a way to suspend it from your ceiling. I got Mr Malmo to screw a small hook in (i think I made this request after he had had a couple of beers as screwing things into plasterboard usually sets off his ‘no fucking way’ alarm). You could equally just use command hooks if you are willing to accept that at some point in December they may lose their stick and deposit a chandelier on your crackers.

Pampas Grass Table Centrepiece

What you need: 30cm x 20cm wooden box, chicken wire, plyers and 10-15 stems of pampas grass

Pampas grass has been all over Instagram this year which either means swinging is having a big revival or that there is a massive trend towards using natural dried grasses in floral arrangements. I am really hoping it is the latter as I don’t fancy throwing my car keys in a bowl and going soixante neuf with my 86 yr old neighbour George who last possessed his own teeth sometime around 1987 and favours using an outside toilet. I have seen some great ideas for using pampas in your home, from creating a stunning hanging installation (check out the account of Signe Bay for inspo) to the more suited to a surban semi option of using it in a vintage box that I have gone with.

Pampas grass table centrepiece on christmas table setting

Because the scale of the venue at our Hygge for all Seasons workshop was big with high ceilings I was able to go a bit more dramatic creating lots of height with a vintage Canadian Dry box (which I am careful never to leave Reena alone in a room with in case she disappears off into the modern rustic mist with it). However back home I used a smaller box I picked up for £10 from Sunbury antiques and a bit less grass to create a slightly pared back version.

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My box was about 30-40cm long and 20cm wide. If you are struggling to source a vintage one then H&M Home also have some similar size ones with a rustic look to them. All you need apart from the box is some chicken wire, plyers and a bunch of pampas grass. I got my chicken wire online (which am fairly sure may have placed me on some sort of Interpol list) but you can also source from petshops.

Pampas looks beautiful but be warned it sheds more fluff

Pampas looks beautiful but be warned it sheds more fluff

Chicken wire is quite sharp so maybe pop some gardening gloves on for this bit

Chicken wire is quite sharp so maybe pop some gardening gloves on for this bit

Cut a roll of wire that will fit inside of your box (maybe wear gardening gloves to do so as I emerged from my skirmish with it looking like someone who had stuck their arm in a holly bush). Then basically just poke your pampas grass into the holes in the chicken wire in a manner that creates an arrangement you are happy with! If you have you mother-in-law coming round for Christmas lunch and want to avoid making chit chat with her about Barry from her Bridge group’s prostate then leave the stalks long. But if not maybe cut them to a more conversation friendly level of about 30cm. You may want to be careful about how closely you position it to candles as pampas is right up there with a shellsuit in terms of flammability.

I used a mixture of natural and faux foliage on my hoop chandelier. Dunelm is my favourite place to source realistic looking reasonably priced faux.

I used a mixture of natural and faux foliage on my hoop chandelier. Dunelm is my favourite place to source realistic looking reasonably priced faux.

I love the height that the pampas adds to the table.

I love the height that the pampas adds to the table.

The wooden box adds warmth and texture to the Christmas table

The wooden box adds warmth and texture to the Christmas table

Scandi Christmas table setting

Mini Eucalyptus Wreaths

What you need: euclyptus, wire and floristry wire.

To add some greenery into our Christmas table we made mini eucalyptus wreaths which acted as a backdrop to beautiful calligraphy christmas labels from Oysterbridge Co. My original idea was to make mini rosemary wreaths having seen them on Pinterest. I don’t know if it was because my supermarket rosemary was just too short but 45 minutes into my minature wreath making all I had was a herb heavy lap and a sprig of rosemary balder than Kim Kardashian’s bikini line tied in a circle. So I went back to the drawing board, rejected the rosemary and turned to the far more plyable eucalyptus instead.

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The wire helps to create structure and it means you can secure the foliage in place using floristry wire. You can make them as big or as small as you like in terms of the size of the hoop (this idea would equally work to make hoops to hang on a wall as the wire is quite sturdy). And you can go simple or more dramatic in terms of how much foliage you add. I kept ours quite simple because we were putting the labels on top and didn’t want to detract from them. The mini wreaths will also make your christmas table smell amazing.

Create a wire base (close your loop by simply wrapping the wire ends together) and then secure your foliage in place with small lengths of floristry wire.

Create a wire base (close your loop by simply wrapping the wire ends together) and then secure your foliage in place with small lengths of floristry wire.

Et voila one mini eucalyptus wreath

Et voila one mini eucalyptus wreath

Add a personal touch to your table with these gorgeous handwritten labels from Oysterbridge Co

Add a personal touch to your table with these gorgeous handwritten labels from Oysterbridge Co

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I made this wreath a little bit less neat as I loved how it looked with the sprigs fanning out slightly

I made this wreath a little bit less neat as I loved how it looked with the sprigs fanning out slightly

We would like to say a huge thank you to the 31 lovely people who came along to Hygge for all Seasons in November and made it so much fun. We have loved seeing how people have incorporated the ideas from the workshop into their Christmas decor already. We would also like to thank all of the brands that collaborated with us in providing gifts for our works shoppers (including Join London, Sevin London, Malako Skincare, Igigi General Store, Love Struck Interiors, Thornback & Peel, Kate and the Ink and Chalk Pink Linen) and items to use in our table styling (Chalk Pink Linen, Igigi General Store, Lights 4 Fun, Hellish Designs and The King and I).

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Autumnal Table Styling Ideas

There are a couple of job interview questions I always struggle to answer. The first is “what is your greatest weakness”. This is not tricky because I think I am perfect but more because the answer on the tip of my tongue is always Cornish Cruncher Extra Strength Cheddar Cheese and a packet of Pickled Onion Monster Munch rather than the more employment friendly “a small blind spot when it comes to understanding full functionality of the wrap text field of Microsoft Excel.” Second on my list of dreaded questions is “tell me about your hobbies”. I am pretty sure the “You’re Hired” answer has something to do with running triathlons whilst reading ‘A Brief History of Time’ whereas in truth one of my favourite ways to while away my leisure time is creating seasonal tablescapes. So when Sainsbury’s Home asked me if I would like to pick a few items from their Autumn/Winter range for my kitchen I was in my hobby heaven

My kitchen in October

My kitchen in October

After 11 years of marriage and 14 years of dating a remarkably high percentage of our shared kitchenware still dates back to our student days when it was put through its paces cooking high end cuisine such as beans on toast and fish fingers on a bed of super noodles (don’t knock it until you have tried it people). With the motely selection we have accrued approaching the end of its life I chose a selection of kitchen and tableware from the rustic retreat and escape ranges that Sainsbury’s have introduced this Autumn/Winter. I selected Scandinavian inspired items in a neutral colour palette of soft greys and natural materials such as wood that would stand the test of time in my kitchen beyond this season. Affordable homeware doesn’t have to mean disposable homeware.

My scandinavian kitchen with grey kitchen units, open shelving and metro tiles on the wall. It is a light, contemporary kitchen with modern rustic feel #modernrustic #contemporarykitchen #greykitchen #kitchenideas #kitchendesign

I put them through their paces cooking a couple of my favourite autumnal recipes, taken from a book I cook from on repeat: Seasons by Donna Hay. The photography and the food are both amazing. The recipes I selected both use just 4 main ingredients and can be whipped up with about 5 minutes preparation: perfect for a quick but delicious midweek meal if, like me, you often need to cook with a toddler attached to a leg and whilst shouting at someone to stop playing FIFA and start doing their homework.

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I sourced all of the ingredients for the recipes from our local Sainsbury’s which I think it is fair to say is where I spend about 35% of my life in trying to keep up with the insatiable appetites of 3 hungry sons who consume sliced bread, bananas and milk at an alarming rate.

Butternut squash after a struggle chopped up and ready to go in the oven once mixed with some olive oil and seasoned

Butternut squash after a struggle chopped up and ready to go in the oven once mixed with some olive oil and seasoned

Butternut Squash, Mozzarella and Palma Ham Salad

Ingredients (serves 2-3)

2 Butternut Squash, 375g Mozzarella Cheese, 500g Palma Ham, handful of thyme, salt and peppper to season

Method

It is so simple to make there is almost need to type out instructions! Basically you peel the Butternut squash then chop into wedges (this is the hardest part as I ending up sweating like a shotputter trying to slice through a particularly stubborn butternut), place on a tray, drizzle with olive oil and season then cook for 25-30 mins. In the meantime tear up the mozzarella and cut the palma ham into strips. Take the butternut squash out of the oven and combine in an instagram friendly fashion on a plate scattering chopped up thyme on to taste. Simple to make but totally delicious

Larking around with my big butternuts….

Larking around with my big butternuts….

I may look calm and composed in this picture but the outtakes capture me looking like an irate Bulgarian shotputter after the butternut refused to yield to my knife.

I may look calm and composed in this picture but the outtakes capture me looking like an irate Bulgarian shotputter after the butternut refused to yield to my knife.

Having emerged victorious from the #BattleOfTheButternut I set to work on the fun part: creating my tablescape. I chose dinner plates and pasta bowls from the Urban Escape range in a lovely muted grey. They are the kind of plate that you can use everyday without fear of chipping and stick in the dishwasher but their simple Scandi good looks lend themselves to fancier dining as well (featuring non-beige food). To compliment the plates I also selected a really lovely carafe and set of wine glasses in a smoked grey and I loved the contrast they create with the plates

Smoked grey  wine glasses  and  carafe  from the Urban Escape range and an  oak chopping board  from the Rural Retreat range

Smoked grey wine glasses and carafe from the Urban Escape range and an oak chopping board from the Rural Retreat range

Tablescape set and ready to receive food! I love how the simple minimal scandi style of the tableware and glasses works against vintage items that I added to the table to create texture and warmth

Tablescape set and ready to receive food! I love how the simple minimal scandi style of the tableware and glasses works against vintage items that I added to the table to create texture and warmth

The  oak chopping board  makes the perfect centre piece for bread to share, this is clearly not a tablescape for dining with the kids as the bread would be the far less instagrammable Hovis 50/50 medium sliced otherwise…

The oak chopping board makes the perfect centre piece for bread to share, this is clearly not a tablescape for dining with the kids as the bread would be the far less instagrammable Hovis 50/50 medium sliced otherwise…

Butternut squash, palma ham and mozzarella salad. Simple but totally delicious and the battle with the butternut guarantees you will probably burn more calories in preparing it than you will consume eating it!

Butternut squash, palma ham and mozzarella salad. Simple but totally delicious and the battle with the butternut guarantees you will probably burn more calories in preparing it than you will consume eating it!

I love the contrast that the  smoked grey glasses  create with the  plates  and it all pops out when using a dark linen table cloth as a backdrop

I love the contrast that the smoked grey glasses create with the plates and it all pops out when using a dark linen table cloth as a backdrop

Vintage wooden kitchen table set with grey linen table cloth, pale grey plates and bowls from Siansbury's Home and rustic oak chopping board #rustickitchen #tablesetting #autumntableideas #autumnalinteriors
Vintage wooden kitchen table set with grey linen table cloth, pale grey plates and bowls from Siansbury's Home and rustic oak chopping board #rustickitchen #tablesetting #autumntableideas #autumnalinteriors
Vintage wooden kitchen table set with grey linen table cloth, pale grey plates and bowls from Siansbury's Home and rustic oak chopping board #rustickitchen #tablesetting #autumntableideas #autumnalinteriors

For pudding I turned once more to Donna and selected a delicious sounding maple and pear tarte tatin.

Maple Pear Tarte Tatin

Ingredients (serves 4-6 depending upon how greedy they are!)

6 dessert pears, 375g puff pastry, 4 spoonfuls of golden syrup, 80g of butter

Method

Peel and slice the pears to about a one pound coin thickness (which are a joy to work with compared to the bastard butternuts). Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat and then add to syrup and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer for 2 minutes and then remove from the heat. Arrange the pears to cover the bottom of a 20cm oven proof pan and then pour over the butter/syrup mixture. Then place over the top the puff pastry cut to a 22cm circle and place in the oven. Cook for 20 mins (or in my case until the smoke alarm goes off because some of the syrup mixture has escaped the pan and formed a mini bonfire on the bottom of the oven). Serve with creme fraiche or clotted cream

The kitchen set read for round two. Gorgeous  grey mixing bowl  and wooden and  grey silicone  cooking utensils pictured all from the Rural Retreat range

The kitchen set read for round two. Gorgeous grey mixing bowl and wooden and grey silicone cooking utensils pictured all from the Rural Retreat range

Taking time out for a cup of tea and praying that pears are easier to peel than butternuts…

Taking time out for a cup of tea and praying that pears are easier to peel than butternuts…

Bowl  and whisk pictured from the Rural Retreat range. Behold the Maple Pear Tart Tatin of dreams

Bowl and whisk pictured from the Rural Retreat range. Behold the Maple Pear Tart Tatin of dreams

But will mine turn out this well?!

But will mine turn out this well?!

It is a stunningly easy and delicious dessert to make and it was a dream to use new kitchen utensils which had not seen active service in the University of Manchester Halls of Residence kitchens mainly stirring supernoodles. I love the earthy contrast of the oak handles of the rural retreat range against the scandi inspired grey. They look great against the white metro tiles in my kitchen and make my utensil selection about 100% more stylish!

Mixing the pears in with the butter and syrup mixture and trying not to set light to my ill advised take on chefs whites

Mixing the pears in with the butter and syrup mixture and trying not to set light to my ill advised take on chefs whites

With the tarte tatin in the oven I performed a quick turnaround on tablescape number two. Whipping away the table cloth to reveal the natural texture of our vintage farmhouse kitchen table and adding in some gorgeous dried flowers in autumnal colours and some scandi white pumpkins to up the autumn factor. I love the contrast between the texture of the table and the simple pale grey of the plates. The pasta bowls are great for serving dessert in as you can add in a drizzle of maple syrup and dollop (is there a more satisfying word known to man?!) of creme fraiche without fear of it escaping!

The dark grey table mats look great against my vintage farmhouse table. They are available in store but not online

The dark grey table mats look great against my vintage farmhouse table. They are available in store but not online

White pumpkins adding a modern rustic touch to the table

White pumpkins adding a modern rustic touch to the table

I also added in these lovely rattan table mats from the Urban Escape range (available in store but not online) to provide a bit of additional contrast, they are a timeless style and colour that I know I will get lots of use out of. I used the oak chopping board to display the tarte on which turned out pleasingly like the picture despite its emergency evacuation from the oven

Dried flowers are a great alternative to fresh as they can last you through the Autumn season and beyond and are really versatile.

Dried flowers are a great alternative to fresh as they can last you through the Autumn season and beyond and are really versatile.

I love how the new items I have added from the Rural Retreat and Urban Escape ranges mix with my collection of vintage bottles and the natural texture of my french farmhouse table

I love how the new items I have added from the Rural Retreat and Urban Escape ranges mix with my collection of vintage bottles and the natural texture of my french farmhouse table

Just add creme fraiche and a drizzle of maple syrup to serve

Just add creme fraiche and a drizzle of maple syrup to serve

Pear Tarte Tatin served up on pale grey plates from Sainsbury's Home on a rustic wooden farmphuse table and set with vintage bottles and dried flowers for a modern rustic feel #farmhousekitchen #farmhousedecor #kitchentable #vintagekitchentable #autumnalstylingideas #autumnideas

So there you have it, two ideas for autumnal tablescapes with a rustic Scandi twist. I hope you enjoy giving the recipes a try and updating your kitchen with the Rural Retreat and Urban Escape ranges from Sainsbury’s Home.

Pear Tarte Tatin served up on pale grey plates from Sainsbury's Home on a rustic wooden farmphuse table and set with vintage bottles and dried flowers for a modern rustic feel

This blog post was kindly sponsored by Sainsbury’s Home

Christmas Occasional Home Store

If you attended our last Occasional Home Store in March you may have been mistaken for thinking it was our Christmas rather than Spring event on account of the Beast from the East blowing in and rendering Stoke Newington indistinguishable from Siberia.  The extremely non spring like weather conditions temporarily transformed me into my dad for the week leading up to the event, frantically shushing anybody who came into the room whilst I was watching the weather forecast.

However, despite the fact that we were shovelling snow when we thought we would be draping spring blossom it all turned out alright on the night with loads of you lovely people coming to the West Reservoir Centre in Hackney to enjoy the array of beautiful vintage & contemporary homeware that our stallholders had battled the Beast to bring you.

Three happy but exhausted Occasional Home Store founders at our March event

@justafewchanges just one of our many happy shoppers

Having had six months to recover from the #posttraumaticsnowstress I am now extremely excited to share with you that the Occasional Home Store will be returning to the West Reservoir Centre on the weekend of the 17th and 18th of November in association with Plum & Ashby and our gorgeous new partner Igigi General Store to bring you a festive shopping extravaganza.

Our beautiful industrial venue the West Reservoir Centre

In the beautiful industrial surroundings of a 1930s water filtering station we will be bringing you a handpicked selection of the very best vintage and contemporary homeware  complimented by a programme of workshops and talks to inspire you to renovate, decorate and instagram your homes this Christmas.  If this sounds like your idea of a perfect weekend then read on for a preview of just some of the delights we have in store for you

Our partners

Plum & Ashby

We are thrilled to once again be working with Vicky and Freya, the team behind Plum & Ashby.  Together with their team (including four legged friend Bertie) they work to produce a range of elegant, high quality, carefully considered products that always lift a space.  Their extensive range, from washes, lotions and bath salts to hand poured candles, is made in the South of England.   And we’re certainly not alone in our admiration for this brand, their fan base includes interior publications, online blogs and they were shortlisted for the Best British Design at the prestigious Elle Decoration Awards and at our last Occasional Home Store they completely sold out of their candles.  This time round they will be introducing some gorgeous new scents in their range as well as stocking their highly sought after Christmas advent candle.

Plum & Ashby’s stall at the last Occasional Home Store looking our over a rather stormy reservoir!

Igigi General Store

Do you have a favourite interiors shop that your heart skips a beat when you think about visiting it? For me that shop is Igigi although sadly for me (but perhaps fortunately for my bank balance) it is situated 150 miles away from me in Brighton.  I am, therefore, incredibly excited to announce that Igigi General Store will be partnering with us on our Christmas event and bringing their distinctive brand of modern rustic homeware  to the Occasional Home Store including unveiling their brand new range of Igigi designed furniture and lighting.

The gorgeous interior of Igigi General Store in Hove

Owners Alex and Zoe describe Igigi as an ever evolving hub of creativity where they blend a handpicked selection of contemporary homeware with one of a kind vintage finds. From wooden bowls, baskets and spoons from Morocco to beautifully scented Turkish soaps and handwoven Kilim cushions to Balinese water pots and garments handmade from vintage fabrics.

Vintage Homeware

One of our favourite things about organising the Occasional Home Store is bringing a little bit of brocante to the city by hand picking sellers that help to conjure up a marketplace in the South of France in Manor House. We love seeing how our sellers curate their beautiful finds to create instagrammable scenes in every corner.   We have some of our favourites returning from last time round including beetle & WILDEHellish Designs (aka my mother-in-law), The King and IEnamelama, Vintage Curator InteriorsMy Nook ShopFabulous Vintage FindsGrow & Gather,All the Fun of the Fair and Early Bird Vintage. But we also have some knockout newcomers: Beulah’s Attic, The Shed at Tenby and Little Wren

A selection of beautiful stock from Grow & Gather

My mother-in-law aka Hellish Designs on her stall at the last OHS

A beautiful display from the stall of Vintage Curator Interiors

Inspiring kitchenware from Enamelama

Contemporary Homeware

I describe myself in my instagram profile as Sarah Lund meets Lovejoy.  This is on account of my love of mixing vintage finds with Scandinavian inspired homeware rather than because I have a thick black mullet, penchant for icelandic knitwear and encyclopaedic knowledge of Chippendale furniture.   Bringing the Lund to the table at the Spring Occasional Home Store is a stellar line up of independent stores and online businesses including  Home of BohoNabo ShopMeylor StationeryPeastyleLisa Valentine HomeTinker Tailor, Fich Ceramics, Chalk Homeware and Ondine Ash. There is simply not space here to talk about all the amazingness that these brands are going to be bringing to the Occasional Home Store so make sure you are following @occasionalhome where we will be profiling them each individually.

Hello  Meylor Goods
The lovely smily face of  Lisa Valentine Home

The lovely smily face of Lisa Valentine Home

Contemporary scandinavian home ware from Peastyle

Contemporary scandinavian home ware from Peastyle

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Fich Ceramics will be one of the new faces at this Occasional Home Store

Fich Ceramics will be one of the new faces at this Occasional Home Store

Lifestyle

Our festive Occasional Home Store will be the perfect place to get started on your Christmas shopping. In addition to amazing homeware, we have also picked a selection of broader lifestyle stalls for you to shop from in case your beloved is not a fan of cushions and scented candles. So make sure to visit the stands of Woven the Agency, Buddug, Gil Fox Hats, Meylor, Malako Skincare and Your London Florist to fill your stockings with beautiful clothes and accessories, handcrafted jewellery, one of a kind hats and head pieces, stationery, skincare, plants and succculents (Your London Florist will also have gorgeous fresh flowers to take away on the day rather than to save for Santa). And if all that shopping makes you hungry make a beeline for Norah’s Brownies who will be serving up delicious brownies and bronuts and book in for an express manicure with Minicures London to get your nails ready for the Christmas party season for just £10.

Sorting you out for succulents will be Your London Florist

Sorting you out for succulents will be Your London Florist

Sweet treats from Norah’s Brownies

Sweet treats from Norah’s Brownies

Plenty of pampering presents available from Malako Skincare

Plenty of pampering presents available from Malako Skincare

Workshops & Talks

The Occasional Home Store is not just a place to shop. We also have a fantastic programme of workshops and talks to inspire you to renovate, decorate and instagram your homes as well as hands on festive craft activities. Set out below are some of the highlights of our two day programme with more details to follow shortly.

Hygge for all Seasons

After our hugely popular Hygge for all Seasons workshops in Cardiff and London last year, I am excited to be joining forces once more with @Hygge_for_Home in association with Join, to bring you another seasonal styling workshop designed to inspire you to create a relaxed rustic home and instagram feed this Christmas.

Reena and I at our London Hygge for All Seasons workshop last year

Reena and I at our London Hygge for All Seasons workshop last year

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All of our Hygge for All Seasons attendees will go home with a beautiful candle from Join

All of our Hygge for All Seasons attendees will go home with a beautiful candle from Join

Join us as we will be share ideas and inspiration for how to style your home the modern rustic way this festive season and then, over coffee and Fika, we will provide you with our five best instagram tips.  There will be a live table styling demonstration (what could possibly go wrong), the return of our famous gifting Christmas tree (with some lovely hygge themed prizes) as well as an opportunity to ask us absolutely anything you like about instagram.  From filters to followers fire away.

The workshop will run from 10:30am to 12:30pm on Saturday the 17th of November. Tickets will be £40 and include a drink, a Scandi inspired Bronut from Norah's Brownies and a luxury botanical candle from Join London. To book your place click here

The Frugality

We’re delighted to welcome fellow North Londoner Alex Stedman, aka The Frugality, to the Christmas Occasional Home Store! In conversation with Malmo & Moss (me aka the lightweight Jeremy Paxman of the interiors world) Alex will share the inspiration behind her hugely popular fashion-focused blog and instagram account. 

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Offering practical tips for those keen to follow in her footsteps, Alex will retrace the process of setting up and growing her successful blog, reflect on how her content has evolved with time and discuss how instagram has changed the blogging landscape.  And, as anyone following her accounts will know, despite juggling motherhood, social media and her career as a freelance fashion editor Alex has spent the last 3 years (and all her money) renovating her Victorian terraced house in North London. As a result renovation dos and don'ts and the secrets of her interior style will also feature in our talk. Finally we will open to floor to questions – so come along and quiz the Frugality yourself.

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The talk will run from 11am - 12pm on Sunday the 18th of November. Tickets are £20 and include a Norah’s Brownie. To book your place click here.

We have even more great talks up our sleeve for you as well, including top tips on how to tackle a successful home renovation or revamp from Rebecca Wakefield, interior designer and owner of Studio Fortum based on her hugely popular blog, Six Things. If you have always dreamed of owning your own business or are a small brand starting out then make sure to come along to our panel discussion with Vicky from Plum & Ashby and Emily from Aerende Store when they will be sharing the story behind building their brands, the lessons they have learnt along the way and five top tips for running a successful business (without having to approach Alan Sugar).

Craft workshops

In addition to our programme of talks, we also have a series of hands on practical workshops planned where you can learn to make a festive scented candle with Join London, learn the basics of modern calligraphy and create your own Christmas card with Cherry Rebecca, make unique Furoshiki fabric wrapping paper with upcycling Queen Shed Homeware as well as making festive hoops and learning how to make vintage inspired Christmas decorations using paper craft with the Occasional Home Store team. More details on all of these workshops to follow soon

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How to book you ticket to the Occasional Home Store

So if all that has wet your appetite and you would like to come and join us for the Christmas Occasional Home Store here is everything you need to know about visiting.

The Venue: The West Reservoir Centre, Green Lanes, N4 2HA

Getting there: The nearest tube/rail is Manor House on the Piccadilly Line (10 mins walk away) and Finsbury Park on the Piccadilly and Victoria lines and overground (15 minutes walk or 5 minutes on the 106 bus).  Bus routes stopping close by include the 341/141/106.

Opening hours and tickets:  We will be open 10am - 4pm on Saturday the 17th and Sunday the 18th of November. Single day tickets for either the 17th or 18th will be £5 each. A weekend ticket covering both days is £8. Although some tickets will also be on sale on the day, these will be on a first come first served basis and only those with a pre-purchased ticket will be guaranteed entrance so we would strongly advise booking in advance. CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR TICKET

*Please note that all tickets are non-refundable and tickets to the workshops do not include entrance to the Occasional Home Store which will need to be purchased separately *

Thanks to @tiatalula for the beautiful pictures used throughout this blog.  We are thrilled Tia will be coming back to capture our Winter event

Mood board your perfect space with Corian® Design

*This blog post is a paid advertorial with Corian Design*

When we extended and renovated our kitchen back in 2012 I had just given birth to our second son and was about to embark upon a career change that would involve forfeiting two thirds of my previous salary (remind me why I thought that was a good idea again?!).  That meant we were working to quite a strict budget and so there were certain items on my wish list that I had to compromise on.  Worktops were one such item. 

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I had my heart set on marble, concrete, or Corian surfaces but it was a case of champagne taste and lemonade budget. In the end,  we ended up going for wood.  Five  years later,  I still regret that decision.  It is not that I don’t like the wood it is just that I don’t love it and I have been slowly working on persuading Mr. Malmo that it would be a good idea to upgrade the worktops ever since.

The worktop in the holiday home we recently stayed in during a trip to the Netherlands made me regret my original wooden worktop choice!

The worktop in the holiday home we recently stayed in during a trip to the Netherlands made me regret my original wooden worktop choice!

So when Corian® Design asked me to try their new Moodboard Maker tool I jumped at the chance!  I am one of those people who is literally unable to visualise anything using only my imagination so the Moodboard Maker is the perfect tool for me.

Who is  Corian® Design?

Corian® Design is a  designer and manufacturer of high quality Solid Surfaces which are made using a blend of minerals and acrylic and can be shaped into literally any design or size you want.  There are over 100 different colours and patterns available to choose from so whatever your interior style there will be an option that will work for your space. 

The Corian Moodboard Maker

If you are ever having a bad week at work or the kids are winding you up,  forget yoga, pilates or meditation and get mood boarding!  It may be less likely to tone your abs, improve your core or flexibility, but I think it is one of the most relaxing and therapeutic things you can do as it allows you to escape from reality for a little bit and get in touch with your creative side. The mood boarding I have done in the past when planning out room schemes has been of the analogue variety in the sense that it involved pritt stick, scissors and lots of ripped out pages from magazines.  I was really keen to try the much less messy digital version.

An introduction to the Moodboard maker

An introduction to the Moodboard maker

I am not naturally good with technology.  Actually, I am naturally terrible with technology.  I have an innate ability to crash an app at 50 paces and I think the IT guy at work has now started fielding my calls to avoid the almost daily questions I have about how to use Microsoft Excel.  Therefore, when I say if I can use the Corian Moodboard Maker tool, then anyone can. I really mean it!  It is super simple and straightforward.   The end goal is to create a visual mosaic with several  pieces that represent different surfaces, textures and materials to create a design story for your space. 

The first step in the process is to choose a style that you think best represents you. The options include Organic, Minimal, Relaxed, Modern, Refined, Bohemian or Edgy.  The different styles come with a different range of inspiration pictures to choose from. But, you can also upload your own images to the tool quite  easily to give you extra choices and personalization.  I played around with Organic and Bohemian styles but in the end decided on Minimal as I felt it best captured my Scandi-inspired look. 

My kitchen and the existing wooden worktops

My kitchen and the existing wooden worktops

You then have a blank Moasaic shape with several  different segments to fill.  The first step is to pick a Corian® Design swatch that you want to showcase and then you can build the rest of the mosaic around it.  You can select more than one Corian® Design Solid Surface swatch if you are struggling to narrow down your options or want to play around with the look and feel.   I chose Corian® Solid Surface in Silver Gray and Arrowroot because I am most drawn to these two and am struggling to make a decision.

Corian Moodboard Maker

You then fill up the rest of the segments either using the bank of pre-existing images available in the tool or by uploading your own images which could be anything that inspires you, it doesn’t have to be strictly interiors related.  So if you have of a beautiful sunset from your holiday that you really like the colours/feel of then add it into the mix. 

I used a combination of images from my own home (both room shots and close ups on textures such as the front of one of my cupboards) and then also drew upon some of the existing Corian images as they blended really nicely with my own pictures. 

Photo credit Vintage Piken

Photo credit Vintage Piken

I used a picture of the front of one of my kitchen cupboards because I like the distressed wood

I used a picture of the front of one of my kitchen cupboards because I like the distressed wood

You can easily drag and drop images in and switch them around if you don’t think you have the right combination.   Et voila one finished moodboard which you can download to your phone or computer, share on your social media platforms, pin to your Pinterest board for your project or even order a framed print of!  Here’s my final moodboard:

My final mood board created with the  Corian Moodboard Maker

My final mood board created with the Corian Moodboard Maker

Discovering the Dutch Coast

Tell people you are going on holiday to the Maldives and you will be greeted with reactions such as "wow that sounds amazing" or "you lucky thing I am so jealous" or "you are going to have such a fabulous time".  Tell them you are going to spend a week taking in the beaches of the North Sea in Holland and you are more likely to encounter perplexed looks (think Joey from Friend's smell the fart acting face) and querying comments such as "Holland?  That is an unusual choice" or "What made you decide to go there?"  Chances are nobody will say "Ohh Holland, you are going to love the stunning coastline, oodles of beach clubs with amazing boho interiors and tiny hamlets over looking the water with cobbled streets and clapboard houses." Well, unless you tell Kinship Creative, my Scandi Sister from another mother that is.

The gorgeous interior of Branding Beach Club

The gorgeous interior of Branding Beach Club

It was on her instagram feed a year or so ago I first spotted an amazing looking beach bar with bleached rattan furniture and rustic textures galore that I mistook for a hotspot in Ibiza but which turned out to be on the Dutch coast just 30 mins away from Amsterdam, a city we had a one night stand with (not in) last February.  One night was enough to make me think I would very much like to go steady with the Dutch capital city.  Dotted as it is with beautiful buildings, amazing cafes, cool lifestyle and homeware stores and great museums and parks to keep kids entertained.

Amsterdam through the eyes of  Petite Passport

Amsterdam through the eyes of Petite Passport

So just after Christmas I started doing my Air BnB research.  It quickly became apparent that to stay in central Amsterdam itself in the Summer holidays in something that was not a shoebox or a youth hostel (although to be fair some of those looked quite nice) would potentially cost more than the UK's Brexit bill.  I was about to give up when I widened out my search area a little bit and spotted a clapboard house located on a dyke (an inland sea) about 15 mins drive outside of Amsterdam which fitted the bill perfectly.

Talk about kerb appeal, our  Air BnB  for the week

Talk about kerb appeal, our Air BnB for the week

Sometimes in life things which look great in a photo or on the TV turn out to be disappointing in real life.  Like Dermot O'Leary for example who I used to be rather partial to until I spotted him in Euston WH Smith and realised he is about the size of a small Irish Leprechaun in the flesh.  Happily when we arrived out our home in the Holland for the week it turned out we had the luck of the Irish on our side.  Click here for the Air BnB link but the pictures really can't convey what an amazingly idyllic setting it is in.  Durgerdam is a tiny Hamlet of impossibly appealing houses looking out to sea.  Our view to the front of the house was of boats bobbing in the harbour and sailing in the sea beyond and from the back there were meadows with sheeps and cows grazing with a stream running out throught the field.

The beautiful veranda looking out over meadows

The beautiful veranda looking out over meadows

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The house is arranged over 3 levels and is a perfect base for a family break.  The owners also have three sons of very similar ages to ours so there were a wealth of toys and activities to keep the trio of todgers entertained including a pool table, a mini astroturf pitch a full scale basketball net and a sandpit  all in a safely enclosed garden.  This meant that I actually managed to spend ten minutes lying in the huge hammock on the veranda which wraps around the house without anyone under the age of 8 appearing to tell me they were bored, had accidentally flushed their lego down the loo/wanted to use my phone to play a game that involves a sausage on legs running an assault course that would consume my annual data allowance.

I had competition for the hammock

I had competition for the hammock

Anyone for Tennis/Volleyball/Football/Basketball ? The mini astroturf pitch in the garden kept the boys very happily entertained as did the cows who would occasionally pitch up to spectate over the fence

Anyone for Tennis/Volleyball/Football/Basketball ? The mini astroturf pitch in the garden kept the boys very happily entertained as did the cows who would occasionally pitch up to spectate over the fence

There was also a huge range of indoor toys to keep them happy

There was also a huge range of indoor toys to keep them happy

There are 4 bedrooms, two double, two single kids room and two bathroom all decorated in a crisp clean Scandi inspired style with some gorgeous rustic features like the pine cladding wall in the main bedroom and concrete sinks in both of the bathrooms.  It is a style I am going to call Netherlands Nordic.  

The stunning master bedroom

The stunning master bedroom

I loved the wood cladding wall which added a rustic edge to the Scandi decor

I loved the wood cladding wall which added a rustic edge to the Scandi decor

Miniest Malmo's bed for the week

Miniest Malmo's bed for the week

The real jewel in the crown though is the kitchen which leads out on to the wrap around veranda I mentioned.  This is where we spent most of our time with breakfasts around the huge oval table which had a really cool built in plywood benches to sit on with lots of storage incorporated.  Dinners were taken out on the deck watching the sun go down over the fields.  The kitchen leads through to a living space and kids play corner and I loved the crittal style windows that linked the two spaces and the timber ceilings in the kitchen which added a touch of cabin chic to proceedings.

I loved this idea of having custom built ply seating with storage incorporated

I loved this idea of having custom built ply seating with storage incorporated

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The wooden clad ceiling was one of my favourite features

The wooden clad ceiling was one of my favourite features

As were the crittal style windows linking the kitchen to the living space

As were the crittal style windows linking the kitchen to the living space

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Breakfasts al fresco on the veranda

Breakfasts al fresco on the veranda

10 minutes up the road from the house is a Landmarkt supermarket for all of your grocery requirements.  I think it might be the Dutch equivalent of Whole Foods judging by the amazing range of mouthwatering fresh produce and slightly eye watering prices.  It is definetely not the cheapest place to stock up on nappies and bin bags but all of the food on offer was delicious.  There is also a lovely little restaurant in Durgerdam with tables right on the water and seems to be the place that Amsterdammers like to come and moor their boats and grab a bite to eat and glass of wine of a weekend so make sure to book in advance.  

The local bar and restaurant in Durgerdam

The local bar and restaurant in Durgerdam

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Spotted on one of our evening strolls, my dream house though think it is technically a boat shed....

Spotted on one of our evening strolls, my dream house though think it is technically a boat shed....

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The weather when we were there was amazing so we were happy to have the option of cooling down by going or a swim in the sea from the pontoons leading out to sea or to let the kids paddle in the shallow waters from a little beach just 5 mins walk from the front door of the house.

At the end of this track was a little beach where you could swim in the inland sea just 5 mins walk from the house

At the end of this track was a little beach where you could swim in the inland sea just 5 mins walk from the house

If you can tear yourself away from this little corner of paradise then Amsterdam is just on your doorstep and you are within an easy drive of the beaches to the North.  I have rounded up below a few of my favourite places that we visited but it is a far from comprehensive guide to all of the delights that Amsterdam and the coast have to offer (and definitely doesn't include delights including ping pong balls I am afraid).  I hope to go back many times to this gorgeous area to build up the Malmo & Moss guide gradually!

Amsterdam

Westergasfabriek

Having kids is a wonderful life enriching experience but it does mean sacrificing some of the things you previously took for granted.  Like the ability to cough without also doing a little wee or any hope of going to the toilet without someone bursting in within two minute of your cheeks hitting the seat.  Mooching whilst on a city break is another one to add to the list.  By which I mean idly wondering pretty streets with no clear aim other than pottering in and out of little boutiques and stopping in whichever bijou winebar, cute cafe or rustic restaurant takes your fancy.  If, like me, you are exploring Amsterdam whilst also keeping an eye on 3 boys, 3 footballs and with a buggy more heavily loaded than an Eddie Stobbart lorry then head to the Westerpark neighbourhood and explore the Westergasfabriek, the site of a former gas works which has been redeveloped into a beautiful park and cultural complex with indie shops, elecetic eateries, an arthouse cinema and brewery all housed in gorgeous old buildings.  We ate at Westergas Terrass which had statement boho lighting, industrial textures and vintage features and tables opening onto a huge public space in which the boys could run around and play whilst we waited for the food to arrive.

Parental heaven: a table overlooking an open space so the kids don't have to sit down until the food arrives on the table at the  Westergas Terrass Westergas Terrase

Parental heaven: a table overlooking an open space so the kids don't have to sit down until the food arrives on the table at the Westergas TerrassWestergas Terrase

The interiors of the former industrial building were right up my street

The interiors of the former industrial building were right up my street

Dignita

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On the other side of town, the Vondelpark runs through the centre of the City with miles of cycle paths, open space and playgrounds for kids to explore.  Just aroound the corner from the park is Dignita which sounds like it might specalise in Euthansia but which is actually a kid friendly cafe that serves a mean brunch,  They have a play area to enterain the kids and a licensed bar should you fancy a bloody mary with your eggs benedict.

Pluk

If you are in Amsterdam unencumbered by junior chaperones then the 9 Streets is the area to head to for mooching.  There are a myriad of gorgeous lifestyle stores and cafes to while away the day in.  By allowing the boys to plunder my annual data allowance watching Thomas the Tank Engine/Angry Birds/Fifa rerun videos on my phone we managed to squeeze in an instagrammable brunch at Pluk, a cafe within a lovely lifestyle store with plenty to tempt you in the way of food and homewares.

Hello lovely herringbone tiles at Pluk

Hello lovely herringbone tiles at Pluk

The cakes were as delicious as the decor

The cakes were as delicious as the decor

And there was lots of lovely home ware to tempt you over your cup of tea

And there was lots of lovely home ware to tempt you over your cup of tea

Zandvoort & Noordwijk

The nearest beach to Amsterdam is in Zandvoort about 30 mins drive away and then slightly further up the coast is Noordwijk.  The towns themselves are nothing to write home about (there is a slight air of Soviet by sea about the drab concrete buildings that line the seafronts) but when you get down onto the beach all thoughts of Gorbachov will be forgotten.  The beaches are miles long, wide open and, compared to Majorca or the South of France, relatively deserted.  The sea is perfect for swimming in and surprisingly warm and there are shallow inland channels perfect for kids to paddle in without any fear of being swept out to the North Sea. 

On the beach in Noordwijk

On the beach in Noordwijk

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The real stars of the show are, however, the beach clubs which, with their relaxed rustic boho vibes will have you thinking you are in Ibiza not the Netherlands.  Think bleached wood, rattan lampshades and lashings of botanicals mixed in.  Our three favourites (all under the same ownership) were Hippie Fish on Zandvoort beach and Tulum and Branding Beach Club in Noordwijk.  The atmosphere was super relaxed and friendly with great brasserie type food with an asian fusion twist being served up.  The prices were not the cheapest but definitely not as eye watering as St Tropez.  When the sun goes down bonfires are lit and festoon lights turned on to add to the magic

I loved the floor to ceiling crittal style windows in  Tulum  beach club

I loved the floor to ceiling crittal style windows in Tulum beach club

I loved all of the statement lighting at  Tulum

I loved all of the statement lighting at Tulum

The concrete hexagonal tiles in the kitchen at the  Branding Beach Club  really caught my eye

The concrete hexagonal tiles in the kitchen at the Branding Beach Club really caught my eye

I loved this idea of creating a feature wall with old door panels at  Branding Beach Club

I loved this idea of creating a feature wall with old door panels at Branding Beach Club

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Creating a Relaxed Rustic Bedroom

One of the main attractions of our house when we bought it was that it had 4 double bedrooms with the loft already having been converted to create a large master bedroom with ensuite.  However whilst that meant we had all the space upstairs we needed, the finish of the loft conversion was about as inspiring as the interior of a portakabin.  It had clunky white pvc doors with a metal rail across the outside that lent the room a feel that was one part dentist surgery to two parts lunatic asylum.  The previous owners had installed laminate wooden floors in a shade I would describe as satsuma and the ensuite was En Vogue around the same time the girl band of the same name topped the charts.  I will leave the story of the bathroom renovation until another day when I have finished the course of therapy I had to embark upon following my dealings with Brian, the right wing misogynist tiler with strong views about my abilities as a housewife and the Enfield cycle lane scheme. For now let's stick with the bedroom.  We carried out an initial round of cosmetic changes including painting the floors and walls and wallpapering a corner to use as a dressing table space

The bedroom after we had carried out an initial range of changes to tone down the satsuma floor by painting it in Farrow & Ball Strong White

The bedroom after we had carried out an initial range of changes to tone down the satsuma floor by painting it in Farrow & Ball Strong White

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This wallpaper was on the front cover of Living Etc and I loved it at the time although it is not my usual Scandi Rustic style!

This wallpaper was on the front cover of Living Etc and I loved it at the time although it is not my usual Scandi Rustic style!

After a couple of years we saved up enough to get rid of the #lunaticasylumdentistdoors and replaced them with a big picture window instead which gives us an amazing view out over the garden and makes the loft extension blend (or speak as Kevin McCloud might say) much better with the contemporary style of our kitchen extension. 

The newly installed big picture window. We also have a smaller window to the side which opens.

The newly installed big picture window. We also have a smaller window to the side which opens.

The new gallery wall with prints from  We are Amused  and  Desenio

The new gallery wall with prints from We are Amused and Desenio

I also went for a darker paint shade on the walls (Dark Lead from Little Greene) and added a gallery wall to create more of a focal point.  The room started to feel a little bit less portakabin but I wanted to make more a feature of the wall behind the bed so I wallpapered it with some faux wood effect wallpaper from Andrew Martin.   Whilst it definitely made the room more interesting and looked pretty convincing in photographs I couldn't ignore the nagging feeling that my dad (who I usually don't defer to on decorating decisions on account of his love of #clutteredgothicchic) might be right when he said it looked a bit naff up close.  

The faux wood wall

The faux wood wall

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I also couldn't get this picture from my pinterest out of my head which featured a bed against a wall of reclaimed wood.  I loved the texture and warmth it created.  However I was pretty sure that my DIY skills didn't extend to cladding an entire wall in wood on the basis that they are yet to encompass changing a light bulb so I got my next door neighbour who is a carpenter to give me a hand.  Note to self if you ask your neighbour to nail a ton of old scaffold planks to your bedroom wall he will regard you in much the same as way as if you are asking him to nail Sanitary Pads to the wall.  However it was worth enduring #AlwaysUltraWallFace because I absolutely loved the finished result.  If you are London based and looking to recreate the look then Forest Recycling Project based in Walthamstow is a great place to source your reclaimed wood.  They have a huge stock of scaffold boards all for a reasonable price compared to some I have seen being sold on ebay for the same price as a small convertible car.

The inspiration behind my wooden wall spotted on the  Herdy Sleep  website

The inspiration behind my wooden wall spotted on the Herdy Sleep website

Scaffold planks lined up and ready to go

Scaffold planks lined up and ready to go

Step one was to attach wooden planks (or batons as I believe carpenters may call them!) to the wall to help hold the weight of the planks which were then just nailed on to the vertical planks

Step one was to attach wooden planks (or batons as I believe carpenters may call them!) to the wall to help hold the weight of the planks which were then just nailed on to the vertical planks

The final big change I have made is to upgrade our mattress and bed which, after 10 years and the arrival of three kids had seen a lot of action (although latterly probably less of the kind Mr Malmo would prefer!).  The fabric on our old bed had started to fray and the mattress was getting saggier than my spaniel's ears.  I had always wanted a button back head board but they can stray into foootballers wives territory (and alas I am not Victoria Beckham).  I wanted to find one which was less Rooney and more rustic.

The picture I spotted in a magazine of my dream bed from  Button & Sprung

The picture I spotted in a magazine of my dream bed from Button & Sprung

I therefore jumped for joy when I spotted this picture of a Button & Sprung bed in a magazine featuring not only the bed of my dreams and with a wooden wall behind it to boot! Button & Sprung are a predominantly online bed & mattress retailer (although they have a showroom in London) and all of their beds come a right to a free return within 100 days.  However there is no chance I will be sending my bed back.  The fabric and frame are both brilliant quality and it fits perfectly with my rustic/scandi style.  It is the Foxtail in Nickel soft wool but there are a range of other great fabrics to choose from including some lovely linens and velvets in both neutral and brighter colours.

Model not included

Model not included

I loved the way the wool looks against the wood

I loved the way the wool looks against the wood

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When it came to the mattress I was lucky enough to be approached by Emma Mattress and asked to try out one of their memory foam matresses.  I was, I confess, initially quite skeptical when it arrived in a box that looked liked it contained a hole punch rather than a kingsize mattress but after a couple hours out of the box it was ready to roll.  If you like your mattresses firm without it feeling like you are sleeping on a concrete slab then this is the baby for you.  It genuinely delivers an insanely good night's sleep and having err fully road tested it so to speak, I can confirm it also copes well with activity of a slightly more vigorous nature than sleeping.  If you would like to see for yourself (the mattress rather than us road testing it) then you can get £100 off any original or second generation Emma Mattress with the code Malmo100.

One mattress out of the box and ready to be road tested once I have moved those instagram styling props!

One mattress out of the box and ready to be road tested once I have moved those instagram styling props!

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With the new bed and mattress in place our duvet and pillows, which had seen Mr Malmo through his student days at Manchester and somehow joined us in marital life, were seriously letting the side down.  The duvet was about the same consistency as cold rice pudding and the pillows could easily have been used as sandbags should the Environment Agency require extra flood reinforcement this Winter. Their replacements are from the Secret Linen Store and it now feels like we are sleeping in Angel Delight (in the sense that the duvet and pillows feel gorgeous, light and fluffy rather us emerging covered in pink mousse of a morning).  We went for a goose down all season duvet which means it has an extra layer of fluffiness you can clip on when our weather front once more steps back in line with Siberia rather than Spain. Secret Linen Store were also kind enough to gift me some of their bedding to try out. 

Bedroom makeover complete with the arrival of a new duvet and pillows from  Secret Linen Store

Bedroom makeover complete with the arrival of a new duvet and pillows from Secret Linen Store

Slubby bedding perfection achieved with the Pebble linen bedding from  Secret Linen Store

Slubby bedding perfection achieved with the Pebble linen bedding from Secret Linen Store

I went for the pebble linen bedding and dove grey striped undersheet.  The linen is just the right kind of no need to iron but still looks amazing slubby and I can really tell the difference in quality compared to budget linen sets I have bought in the past.  I am also a sucker for beautiful packaging so I loved how all of the bedding arrived parcelled up.

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No ironing required, just out of shot Mr Malmo having a crumbie induced meltdown about croissants on the bed....

No ironing required, just out of shot Mr Malmo having a crumbie induced meltdown about croissants on the bed....

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There are still a few tweaks I am thinking of making to finish the renovation of this room off, including most importantly acquiring either curtains or a blind for that big picture window as am fairly sure my neighbour doesn't want to see #MalmosMuff when he is taking his bins out.  But for now I am pretty happy with how it has all come together. 

Many thanks to Button & Sprung, Emma Mattress and Secret Linen Store for partnering with me on this project and helping me to transform it from #SuburbanPortaKabinPants to the relaxed rustic bedroom of my dreams.

 

 

 

 

Best Places to stay in Malmö and Skåne County

Oh goodie our plane is delayed by two and half hours said no parent travelling with 3 young children ever.  With all electronic devices capable of playing C-Beebies having been drained of their batteries before we even left the tarmac at Gatwick, by the time we arrived in Malmö at 1am in the morning I would, quite frankly, have happily slept in the stockroom of the local Ikea.  I think the passenger in seat 11E who was hit in the face by a polystyrene recreation of Mr Tumble during an in flight toddler meltdown would have happily seen us locked in said stockroom.   Luckily, however, we did not end up bedded down amongst the Billy Bookcases and below is my round up of the best places to stay in Malmö whether you are travelling Hans Solo, in a couple, with friends or as a family.

Malmö

The Story Hotel

The first hotel we were booked into the was the Story Hotel.  Centrally located on the waterfront, it is a great place to stay if you are after somewhere that has Scandi interiors with an industrial edge.  Rooms come with great views over Malmö although you may find yourself just lying in bed staring at the amazing concrete ceilings instead.  If that sounds a little bit multi-storey car park then let me assure you there is not a whiff of the NCP about the decor as industrial features are balanced by warm tones and textures such as velvet chairs in deep burnt orange, warm copper lighting and thick natural linen curtains. 

Story Hotel

The hotel is also home to the only rooftop restaurant and bar in Malmö which has amazing views across the city and then out across the water to Copenhagen.  Being in the company of three kids under 8 we naturally had about as much chance of sipping a quiet cocktail at sunset as I have of slipping into size 6 skinny jeans and going out on a date with Ryan Gosling but we did get to enjoy the views of Malmö over our museli in the morning instead. 

The stunning rooftop restaurant

The stunning rooftop restaurant

The miniest Malmo enjoying breakfast with a view at the Story Hotel

The miniest Malmo enjoying breakfast with a view at the Story Hotel

Downstairs off the lobby looking out over the harbour is the restaurant Lokale 17.  It mirrors the industrial interiors of the hotel and had a really great atmosphere, with a cosy seating area and a buzzy bar.  Whilst the Story Hotel may not be predominantly marketed at families we did still find it worked really well as we had interconnecting rooms (the wholly grail for a family of five) .  It had a really relaxed friendly atmosphere and there were lots of lovely touches like a teddy left in the cot for our youngest and chocolates in the room for the eldest two (even there beige palettes were slightly affronted by the liquorice flavour choice).  It's location is also perfect for exploring Malmö.

The Lokale 71 bar

The Lokale 71 bar

The Loakle 71 restaurant

The Loakle 71 restaurant

If I was travelling with just Mr Malmo or some girlfriends and therefore had more than a 1 in 1.6million chance of a lie in, then the other hotel that caught my eye is the Hotel Duxiana.  The rooms all look beautifully designed with less of an industrial edge and more of a classic Scandinavian simplicity about them and because the hotel is owned by the luxury bed manufacturer Duxiana, you are pretty much guaranteed an amazing nights sleep!

Picture credit: Hotel Duxiana website

Picture credit: Hotel Duxiana website

If you have less Kroner clunking around in your pocket then the Clarion Hotel & Congress which is literally right next to the Malmo Saluhall (so maybe pack extra elasticated pants if you stay here) also looks a good option.  I did not visit it personally but I like the industrial styling in the restaurant and bar area from the website 

Picture credit: Clarion Hotel & Congress

Picture credit: Clarion Hotel & Congress

The OhBoy Hotel

For the second half of our stay in Malmö we moved to the OhBoy Hotel which has 31 loft type rooms split over two levels and equipped with kitchenettes meaning you can easily self cater if you are facing a #ryebreadrebellion from your kids. The interiors are light and bright using natural textures such a wood and brushed concrete and all the rooms feature locally designed and produced furniture from southern Swedish creatives. There is a strong emphasis on sustainability with every room being provided with a bike free of charge meaning you can easily navigate Malmö without needing a car.

The bedroom at the Ohboy Hotel

The bedroom at the Ohboy Hotel

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The kitchenette at the Ohboy had gorgeous concrete worktops

The kitchenette at the Ohboy had gorgeous concrete worktops

Ohboy Hotel

The hotel is located in the Västra Hamnen area of the city which is a former industrial area by the water which has been completely redeveloped and is now one of Malmös most exclusive neighbourhoods .  It is the perfect place to stay if you are travelling with kids as there are some lovely cafes, brilliant playgrounds, a beach and gorgeous long wooden walkways stretching along besides the sea which are perfect for scooting and cycling down. Oh and if your kids are of the teenage variety they will love the shiny new skate park that is just opposite the hotel.

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Air BnB Options

The Ohboy is a good compromise between a hotel and self catering accomodation but if you would prefer a little bit more space then there are also some great Air BnB options in Malmö.  Two to save to your wishlist include this 1 bed close to the city centre with great Scandi/Industrial interiors or, a little further out, this 3 bed villa with rugged Swedish good looks would make a great base for a family.  

Skåne County

Hus 57

We used the small town of Ängelholm as our base for exploring Skåne County which is about 1.5hrs away from Malmo.  It is quite a quiet small town and we stayed in the Hus 57 whilst we were there which is part of the Best Western group.  But this was no functional business hotel it has been designed with an instagram generation in mind as the decor is an super cool mix of industrial textures, luxe fabrics and quirky design touches all for a super affordable room rate.  I particularly loved the velvet sofas in the lounge areas and the restaurant design.

The Hus 57 lobby

The Hus 57 lobby

I loved the concrete walls and floors against the luxe fabrics in jewel colours

I loved the concrete walls and floors against the luxe fabrics in jewel colours

The restaurant at Hus 57

The restaurant at Hus 57

We stayed in interconnecting rooms on the top floor (the ultimate family of five travel goal!) which opened on to a securely enclosed roof terrace.  The hotel works great if you are travelling with kids as the rooms are really spacious and in the basement there is a huge games room with table tennis, table football and lots of board games.  It was hard to lure the mini malmos away from it to explore the stunning coastline!  There is also a small spa, pool and jacuzzi to enjoy.

Our bedroom at Hus 57

Our bedroom at Hus 57

The bathroom made me go home wanting to scallop tile something!

The bathroom made me go home wanting to scallop tile something!

Hotel Skansen

If you want to stay somewhere a little more lively and closer to the sea (and have a bit of extra budget!) then without a doubt I would say book the Hotel Skansen  in Båstad.  It overlooks the most stunning golden sandy beach and had a gorgeous restaurant with floor to ceiling windows that let you lap up that view as the sun goes down.  It was home to the Swedish football team when we popped in for a drink meaning I got to sip a glass of wine whilst taking in an even more pleasant view.

The stunning beach that Hotel Skansen overlooks and the sauna at the end of the pier for use by hotel residents

The stunning beach that Hotel Skansen overlooks and the sauna at the end of the pier for use by hotel residents

Air BnB Options

There are a pleotora of lovely Air BnBs you could make your base for exploring Skåne County.  A few of the my favourites include this gorgeous modern bungalow with a pool in smart seaside town Bastad or this simple, contemporary timber house in the countryside need Torekov

*Thank you to Visit Sweden for hosting us whilst we were in Malmo and Skåne County and covering the cost of our accomodation*

Malmö and Skåne County with Kids

When I was pregnant with my first child, one of my friends (who is admittedly a pessimist) told me that there is no such thing as a holiday once you have had kids.  By which I think she meant I could kiss goodbye to the days of lounging around an infinity pool with nothing more pressing to worry about than where my next margarita was coming from and whether I had brought enough books with me to last the fortnight (#kindleluddite). 

Image from  Oh Couture

Image from Oh Couture

It is certainly true that the arrival of the trio of todgers has cut down the amount of time I spend horizontal on a sun lounger (it is hard to lounge when you are worrying about a toddler falling/pooing in the pool) and ensured that I am now more likely to go home having read the New Adventures of Spot rather than anything off the Booker Shortlist.   However, I am a firm believer that you can still have a relaxing time on holiday with kids without handing over 3 months salary to Centre Parcs.    If you are looking for a destination where you can lap up great design, interiors and impossibly beautiful blonde men named Lars whilst the kids experience premium playgrounds, sandy beaches and acres of open space then look no further than Malmö and Skåne County.  Here are five reasons why it is the perfect place to holiday with kids and my top tips for things to do with them whilst you are there (none of which cost the earth).

Perfect Playgrounds

It is fair to say that with 3 kids under 7 approximately 33% of my time is spent either in search of or in playgrounds.  So I know my swings from my roundabouts when it comes to what makes a good one.  Malmö has hands down some of the best I have ever experienced.  There was not a dog poo, broken swing or treacherous slide in sight (I am looking at you Oakwood Park).  In fact they are so good that you will need all your best parental negotiating skills to get the kids to leave them without the kind of reaction Donald Trump would have if he was served a quinoa burger.

This amazing playground was just around the corner from the  OhBoy Hotel

This amazing playground was just around the corner from the OhBoy Hotel

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Our favourites were one off Lillas Varvgatan near where we were staying at the OhBoy Hotel, the Slottsträdgårdens and Folkets Park but rumour has it Pildams Park is also well work a visit (we didn’t make it there on account of my 5 year old’s leg batteries running out that day).  The Swedes are also great at combining their stellar playgrounds with instagrammable cafes.  My favourite has to be the Slottsträdgårdens Kafè (@Slottsträdgårdens Kafè.)  where we headed for for a cup of tea and some fika after a sphincter clenching hour of letting the boys climb the trees in the neighbouring park.  I am not sure my Swedish vocabularly extends to "please could you call the fire service, my son appears to have climbed a tree the size of the Eiffel Tour and got stuck".  You can recover your calm siting outside under the shade of rippling trees or duck inside the greenhouse strung with bunting and dotted with candles

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Fun in the sun at  Folkets Park

Fun in the sun at Folkets Park

Fantastic Foodhalls

I love almost everything about Scandinavia but if you are travelling with companions who turn their noses up at anything non beige/vaguely textured/potentially containing vitamins it’s cuisine can, at times, be a little bit of a challenge.  FYI if you ever want your kids to tidy their bedroom just plop a herring rollmop down in front of them and tell them it is that or putting their lego away.  However, take them to either Malmö Saluhall or Höganäs Saluhall and you can guarantee you will have no ryebread revolution on your hands. 

The deli counter at  Höganäs Saluhall

The deli counter at Höganäs Saluhall

There are a host of different stalls catering for all palettes and both are located in gorgeous old industrial buildings meaning you can lap up the bare bricks and rustic textures whilst they are tucking into ice cream from Favvo Glas, Pasta from Papi or  cinnamon buns from St Jakob Stenugnsbageri. 

The gorgeous industrial seating area in the  Saluhall  in Malmö

The gorgeous industrial seating area in the Saluhall in Malmö

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Sampling the delights of a pastry from St Jacobs Stenugnsbageri

Sampling the delights of a pastry from St Jacobs Stenugnsbageri

If, like my kids, sitting down for longer than 10 minutes at time, you can grab the makings of a gorgeous picnic and head around the corner to Slottsträdgårdens where there is acres of green space and trees to climb to burn off some post lunch energy.  If you have kids old enough to understand the concept that if you throw yourself out of a boat you will get wet and force your mum to make like a podgy Pamela Anderson to rescue you from the water, then you can also hire a boat to gently explore.

Beautiful Beaches

Malmö itself has a small sandy beach which looks out over the water to Copenhagen but hop in the car and within an hour you can be exploring impossibly pretty cobbled fishing villages with miles of unspoilt coastline to enjoy.  Our favourite spots were Mölle, Torekov and Båstad.  We spent a very happy morning exploring the dunes and rocks of Torekov where old ladies whizzed passed in dressing gowns on their bikes on the way for their daily swim.  In the Summer you can catch a ferry across to Hallands Väderö an uninhabited nature reserve (thanks to @myscandinavianhome for the tip).  If you are in Mölle head for Mölle Krukmakeri.  You will initially think I am crazy telling you to take kids to a pottery but swerve the pots and head to the quirky café where they will be too distracted by quirky things like a giant stuffed tiger dressed as an airline pilot to cause any ceramic calmamities.

Exploring the gorgeous cobbled streets of Torekov

Exploring the gorgeous cobbled streets of Torekov

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An old fisherman's shelter in Torekov

An old fisherman's shelter in Torekov

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Our favourite beach of all was in the upscale resort of Båstad where the Swedish Tennis Open is held everyyear.  There is a long flat golden sandy beach, shallow waters perfect for splashing around in and pontoons leading out to sea off which older/more proficient swimmers will love jumping off.  In the Summer months there is cool beach club at the top of the beach and if you can hose them down and wrestle them back into their clothes then the swish Hotel Skansen is actually remarkably child friendly with friendly waiters and kids activitiy packs on hand.   

The harbour in Båstad

The harbour in Båstad

The beautiful sandy beach in Båstad

The beautiful sandy beach in Båstad

Toddler heaven

Toddler heaven

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Modern Museums

Going round museums with kids can be somewhat of a hit and miss experience.  Find a good one and they will be channelling their inner David Attenboroughs or Mini Monets but visit a dud and you will find yourself setting a new Guinness World Record for the number of times one person can say sshhhhh, don't touch that, don't climb that in one hour.  Luckily Malmo has some great ones.  Our favourites were the Malmo Hus which is a castle in the middle of a moat inside which there is a mini interactive aquarium and ramparts to explore.  The aquarium was a particular hit with my kids because it had lots of things they could touch and climb on without setting off any alarms.  Even Mr Malmo couldn't resist sticking his head inside a giant diving helmet in the middle of a tank of eels. 

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For an experience that doesn't involve eels then head to the Konst Hall.  It is in a beautiful old orangery building and had a giant sculpture exhibition inside when we visited.  It looks on first glance like the kind of place that might not love an invasion of sticky fingered noisy kids but it actively welcomes them, running free crafting workshops in a room off the main exhibition space.  There is also a gorgeous courtyard cafe where they can be as noisy as they like and another brilliant playground literally right outside.  If art is your thing then the Moderna Museum is also not to be missed.

 

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Strolls by the Sea

If you are staying in Malmö with kids then I would recommend basing yourself in the Västra Hamnen area of the City, a former shipyard which has been transformed into a sustainable area of contemporary housing with a harbour bobbing with boats.  There are stretches of wooden walkways looking out towards the sea dotted with beautiful Scandinavians (young and old) who have come to enjoy the sunset and a swim in the sea off bleached wooden pontoons. There is plenty of room for kids to run/scoot of some steam and then Vespa is a great spot to grab a pizza and watch the sun go down/watch the sun go down whilst also watching the kids to make sure they aren't about to attempt to swim to Copenhagen.  This area is also home to the famous turning torso building which fascinated our kids.  Questions they asked that I couldn't answer, how do they clean the windows, why does it look like a twiglet and why can't we live there (well I could answer that one, it is something to do with not having a spare 500 million Kroner down the back of the sofa)

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Pizza from Vespa as the sun went down was a holiday highlight

Pizza from Vespa as the sun went down was a holiday highlight

Bountiful Buns

I have never known a tantrum that can’t be quelled by a cinnamon bun (well apart from the one Mr Malmo had when I gave away to Oxfam a jumper which he loved by which I thought made him look like he was on day release from a juvenile detention centre).  If you need a little cinnamon related bribery up your sleeve then there are numerous spots around the city to pick up a bun to stifle a toddler rebellion. .  Some of our favourites were from Söderberg & Sara in the St Knut area of the city and on the other side of town the cardamon infused buns from Bagaren & Bonden were out of this world.

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Family feast at  Söderberg & Sara

Family feast at Söderberg & Sara

Behold bountiful bus at  Söderberg & Sara

Behold bountiful bus at Söderberg & Sara

Thank you to Visit Sweden UK for hosting us whilst we were in Malmö and Skåne County.  Whilst our stay on this occasion was in partnership with Visit Sweden UK, we have visited and loved Malmö as a family and will definetely be returning in the future.  If you have any questions at all about travelling there with kids please feel free to ask in the comments below.  

Summer Fashion Edit by Emma Jolley

I’ve never really been one for wearing prints.  Or dresses.  Or skirts, or that matter.  Until this summer, when I’ve suddenly gone crazy for all three.  It started with an apple green and red floral print maxi dress by Rixo which I picked up in the sales (after some very focussed and intense online stalking).  Then a post-box red dress with tiny blue and yellow flowers by Ghost which I spotted on an Instagrammer.  Then a leopard print silk skirt from Danish brand, Ganni.  All special pieces which I love so much they have relegated my jeans to second place this season.   The shops are practically bursting with a riot of dresses and skirts in ditsy florals, bold stripes and statement animal prints at the moment.  Here’s my pick, with some items already in the sale. 

Dresses

Rouje  dress,  Zara  Sandals,  Warehouse  denim jacket (old)

Rouje dress, Zara Sandals, Warehouse denim jacket (old)

My favourite brands for summer dresses are overseas ones – in particular, LA-based Faithfull the Brand, and online only brands Rouje and Realisation Par.  The only problem with these is the blah blah tedious overseas charges they come with, although a limited range of Faithfull is stocked by ASOS and Net a Porter (you have to be quick off the mark though, it sells out quickly) and Realisation Par is opening a London pop up early July (big woop).  Closer to home, this pale yellow button through dress from & Other Stories is a sunny gem, and this vibrant red dress from Zara will look killer with a tan.  I am generally not a fan of waist cut outs in dresses as they can look a little meh, but the length of this floral Top Shop dress keeps it modest.   If you’re going floral, I think it’s nice to toughen up your look a notch with a vintage look denim jacket. 

Red patterned dress from  Zara

Red patterned dress from Zara

Vintage denim jacket from  Uniqlo

Vintage denim jacket from Uniqlo

Chiffon floral dress from  Topshop

Chiffon floral dress from Topshop

Yellow Print Dress from  & Other Stories

Yellow Print Dress from & Other Stories

Skirts

Polka dot skirt from  Flynn Sky Bridal  , button through camisole from  Top Shop , jute striped tote from  Maison Bengal  and rope sandals from  Urban Outfitters

Polka dot skirt from Flynn Sky Bridal , button through camisole from Top Shop, jute striped tote from Maison Bengal and rope sandals from Urban Outfitters

I’ve never met a long, floral skirt I didn’t like, but then I was a teenager in the 90’s and grunge will always live on in my heart.  This red maxi from Urban Outfitters takes me right back to my weekly pilgrimages to Camden Market circa 1991 to seek out falafel and red hair dye.  It’ll look great paired with a loose t-shirt, tucked in, maybe one by an old school sportswear brand, such as Hilfiger, Fila or Champion (stocked by Urban Outfitters, or pick them up second hand on eBay).  I like the candy coloured stripe and the front slits of this super flattering linen midi from Mango, into which I would tuck this simple linen camisole from Topshop.  At the other end of the spectrum is this quite loud animal print skirt from Zara, which is similar to my Ganni one, which I wear with this cute (and very good quality) embroidered t-shirt by Meylor Goods (picked up at one of the Occasional Home Store fairs J!)

Striped maxi skirt from  Mango

Striped maxi skirt from Mango

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Embroidered Tee from Meylor Goods

Button through camisole top from  Topshop

Button through camisole top from Topshop

Leopard print skirt from  Zara

Leopard print skirt from Zara

Polka dot skirt from  Urban Outfitters

Polka dot skirt from Urban Outfitters

Footwear

T-Short from  Meylor Goods , Skirt from  Ganni  and trainers from  Veja

T-Short from Meylor Goods, Skirt from Ganni and trainers from Veja

I think prints look best with simple footwear and this summer, I’ve been living in my Veja trainers.  Veja is a Parisian “eco-friendly” trainer brand, which you can pick up at Arket and elsewhere in an array of styles and colours - I like their classic canvas sneaker the best.  I’ve also thrown in a pair of neutral Gazelles as they are a timeless classic – I really like these in deep burgundy too.  I’ve seen so many gorgeous leather flats on the High Street this season, particularly in Topshop.  These from Dune look remarkably similar to a Hermes style which cost a gazillion pounds, and this pretty braided pair, again in leather, from Zara look a lot more spendy than £30 and also come in black.  For when you are feeling truly pedi ready, there are these super simple strappy sandals from Free People.

Adidas  Gazelles

Adidas Gazelles

Veja  Trainers

Veja Trainers

Free People  simply there sandals

Free People simply there sandals

Dune  Loupe sliders

Dune Loupe sliders

Zara braided sliders

Zara braided sliders

Bags

Dress from  Ghost , Shoes from  Zara  and Bag from  Mango  last season

Dress from Ghost, Shoes from Zara and Bag from Mango last season

Remarkably, in some shops, you can still buy a bag that is NOT made of straw or raffia.   I’ve recently brought a larger, striped, jute macramé bag from Maison Bengal (a fair trade company, stocked by lots of fancy shops but I bought mine direct from their website and it arrived super quick).  Their shaggy number might divide opinion (my husband thinks it looks like one of Chewbacca’s cousins), but they have plenty more amazing options on their website, all handmade in India.  This red macramé tote from LF Markey is now in the sale, but a quick search on Etsy will unearth literally dozens of vintage versions in this style for around the same price or even less.  And then there is the classic French string shopping bag – stocked by Grey September amongst others – just don’t pack anything in it which you don’t mind losing.

Macrame Tote LF Markey at  Urban Outfitters

Macrame Tote LF Markey at Urban Outfitters

Net shopper available at  Grey September

Net shopper available at Grey September

Jute bag from  Maison Bengal

Jute bag from Maison Bengal

Happy shopping!

Emma x

Malmo & Moss House: Adding Hygge to the Living Room

As regular Malmo & Moss blog readers will recall, when we moved into our house 7 years ago one of our first decorating steps was to paint the previously sanitary pad purple front room Farrow & Ball Wimborne White.  However, the white combined with original sash windows that looked great but which were about as energy efficient as a pair of your granny's moth eaten pants, meant that we actually rarely used the room or at least not without our winter coats on.   To up the hygge factor and reduce the freezer aisle at Tesco factor we laid a carpet, got shutters and went over to the dark side (on the walls) to create a cosier space that we actually wanted to spend time in without an electric blanket.  With those changes complete it ceased to be #SittingRoomSiberia' but there was last change I had been hankering after making: installation of a woodburner.  

The sitting room pre woodburner but post sanitary pad purple phase

The sitting room pre woodburner but post sanitary pad purple phase

We had inherited a gas fire when we moved in which, when lit, gave off about as much heat as a mouse's fart and when unlit had fake stones which our toddler was fond of stealing and then throwing around the living room cackling like a contestant at the Highland Games who has drunk too much Iru Bru.

Stones in the fire just waiting for a toddler game of cabertoss

Stones in the fire just waiting for a toddler game of cabertoss

However, just as I had started to throw myself into some serious woodburner research, a slew of headlines hit the Daily Mail which basically suggested that the sole cause of global warming was not cows, energy intensive industries or the rapid growth of the Chinese economy but too many middle class people installing woodburners.  It turned out that the Daily Mail story was not actually 100% accurate.  In fact it was not even 1% accurate and they had needlessly caused the kind of middle class panic that ensues when Waitress runs low on olive oil or pomegranate molasses.  Sadiq Khan had expressed concern about particulate emissions from woodburners in a letter to Michael Gove but not from stoves manufactured in accordance with the latest Ecodesign standards which are designed to destroy a huge amounts of those nasty particulates meaning more of the warmth is emitted to your front room instead of vanishing up the chimney.  So when you are choosing a stove just make sure it is one which complies with the Stove Industry Alliance's "Ecodesign Ready" label and you are all good.  If you want to read more about it all our installers Stoake Ltd have produced a really handy Q&A.

Looks cosy but in reality emitting about as much heat as a mouse's fart

Looks cosy but in reality emitting about as much heat as a mouse's fart

Having reassured myself that my woodburner would not be plunging the Capital back to the Great Smog of 1952, I got to work on the fun stuff, choosing the tiles and stove of my dreams.  My main dilemma was whether to keep the existing marble mantlepiece and go for some statement tiles or replace it with a more rustic looking surround and keep things more au natural in the hearth.  In the end Option 1 won out because I just couldn't get these Grey Santona tiles from Bert & May out of my head  and I wanted to experiment with having a bit of pattern in the house so it was either getting the tiles or getting Mr Malmo to get a huge chest tattoo of them.

The  Bert & May  tiles of my dreams

The Bert & May tiles of my dreams

I wasn't quite sure what installing a woodburner actually involved.  I had visions of Bert from Mary Poppins scampering around on my roof singing chim chimmney chim chim chicheroo as he dropped a flue line down our chimney pot.  Luckily this is where the lovely guys from Stoake Ltd (a local North London business) came in.  The first step in the process was for them to come round a do a site visit and they then followed up quickly with a written quote setting out the installation process and how much each stage and the associated materials would cost. They are able to arrange scaffolding for you or you can do that bit yourself.  We did it ourselves as it worked out a bit cheaper although that meant dealing with a guy who punctuated his conversation with farts rather than commas *Apologies to any more #SophisticatedScaffolders out there*

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With the scaffolding finally up, the process of removing the existing fire surround, capping the gas supply and rendering and tiling the new opening took just 2 days.  We decided to keep our existing hearth stone to keep the costs down which also saved time.

Stoake at work!

Stoake at work!

Gas fire gone, opening ready for tilng

Gas fire gone, opening ready for tilng

And my  Bert & May Santona  tiles are in. Candles purely for effect zero heat emitted!

And my Bert & May Santona tiles are in. Candles purely for effect zero heat emitted!

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2 weeks later, just as the Beast from the East blew in, Nigel and team returned to install the stove itself.  By the time I had battled the beast to and from work (which sounds dramatic but in reality just involved me walking to the station in wholly impractical shoes squeaking "gosh it is windy" every now and again) the stove was in.  

Snowy scenes in the suburbs on the day the stove went in

Snowy scenes in the suburbs on the day the stove went in

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The tiles were covered up to keep them safe during the stove install

The tiles were covered up to keep them safe during the stove install

I chose a Skye stove from Charnwood in a lovely cream colour which is handmade on the Isle of Wight and, in Charnwood's own words is "a new state-of-the-art stove with a remarkably efficient combustion system. It’s innovative burn technology ensures efficiencies of up to 86% and exceeds the new Eco Design standards and Defra exemption limits; allowing wood to be burnt cleanly in smoke control areas". If you have space in your hearth there is also an option to chose a version of the stove which has an integrated log store adding to it's rustic good looks.  Charnwood are a family owned British company and can help you to find a trusted local installer in your area.

I love the contrast of having a cream stove with the dark walls in our living room

I love the contrast of having a cream stove with the dark walls in our living room

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I am no boy scout (I look terrible in Khaki for starters) so I was a little bit worried that I would struggle with the lighting the fire aspect of having a woodburner.  However, the Skye is honestly so easy to use that it renders Ray Mears completely surplus to requirements.  You literally just assemble a mini pile of kindling wood around a firelighter, strike a match, shut the door and within seconds you will have a blaze ready to chuck a log on.  My biggest challenge now is stopping #chriswaddlecat from blocking out all of the heat by plonking himself in front of the stove whenever it is lit and embarking on an epic clean of his feline nether regions.

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With thanks to Charnwood, Bert & May and Stoake Ltd for partnering with me on this project. 

Malmo & Moss: Spring Occasional Home Store

 

On the 9th of September last year I stood, at 10am, in a Church Hall with sweaty palms and a sick feeling in my stomach.  Not because I was worried that Jesus wouldn't want me for a sunbeam, but because, with support from the fabulous Plum & Ashby,  we were about to open the doors of our very first Occasional Home Store: bringing together vintage traders, designer makers and pop ups of our favourite interiors stores so that people could shop the best of contemporary and vintage homeware under one roof.  

Sweaty palmed and looking like I was in a 24 hour buttock clench challenge waiting for the Occasional Home Store to open

Sweaty palmed and looking like I was in a 24 hour buttock clench challenge waiting for the Occasional Home Store to open

It turns out I needn't have got so clammy of paw as when I was brave enough to venture outside there was already a queue forming in the driveway which meant either:

1. There was a serious suburban spiritual awakening happening in N21; or

2. There were some serious shoppers waiting to get their hands on our Scandi/Vintage bargains.

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The rest of the day passed in somewhat of a blur with interiors fans having come from not only all over London but all over the UK to visit the Occasional Home Store.  

Scenes from the Occasional Home Store Autumn Fair

Scenes from the Occasional Home Store Autumn Fair

When the dust had settled and I had finally stopped regretting the fact that I chose hairstyle for the day that made me look like a cross between Mary Beard and Bob Monkhouse, we started to think about doing it all over again.  It was at this point that a very serendipitous e-mail popped into our mail boxes from Jude, the events manager at the West Reservoir Centre.

Beard meets Monkhouse Hair

Beard meets Monkhouse Hair

 

She had been to the Occasional Home Store and wondered if we might ever consider bringing our event to her venue.  Intrigued we whizzed down the A10 (scratch that, slowly crawled down the A10) to go and take a look.  It is an old 1930s water filter station (nothing floats my boat more than an industrial purification process) which looks out over a reservoir and it was love at first sight.   It is hard to believe you are in Hackney when you are inside and gazing out over rippling water.  It has high ceilings, bare bricks and quirky industrial features in spades and offered us the space to make our second Occasional Home Store even bigger and better than our first event.

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Our next step was to get in touch with Vicky and Charly, the team from Plum & Ashby who had so brilliantly supported our first event to ask them if they would like to partner with us again.  Luckily they said yes without hesitation so, from that point on, it has been all systems go, contacting our stallholders from Autumn and hunting out some fabulous new additions for Spring.  

Our kitchen table board room Chez Malmo & Moss

Our kitchen table board room Chez Malmo & Moss

After months of kitchen table meetings (the equivalent of our boardroom and powered by hobnobs rather than testosterone) we are now just a month away from the Spring Occasional Home Store which will take place between 10am-4pm at the West Reservoir Centre near Stoke Newington in North London so here is a sneak preview of what we have in store for you..

Plum & Ashby

Plum & Ashby's  beautiful, stylish range of products for, bath, body and home flew off their stall in September and with new products and gorgeous spring scents on offer we expect the same to happen this time round.  They will be taking over our insta meet up area for some Saturday, setting our shoppers a Plum & Ashby styling challenge with the change to win some gorgeous goodies from their range.  If we are really lucky Vicky's adorable dog Bertie may also come along this time.  

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Vintage

One of our favourite things about organising the Occasional Home Store has been hand picking a selection of our favourite vintage traders so that you can experience beautifully styled stalls full of unique items you won't find on the high street (unless your high street runs through the middle of a Brocante in the South of France that is).   We have some of our favourites returning from last time round including beetle & WILDE, Hellish Designs (aka my mother-in-law), Dorothy Stiven, The King and I, Enamelama and one of my biggest sources of insta inspiration Kinship Creative but we also have some knockout newcomers: Vintage Curator Interiors, My Nook Shop, Fabulous Vintage Finds, Lucy Vintage Lifestyle, Grow & Gather, 12th Story, Maison Brocante, , All the Fun of the Fair , Curated Room and Early Bird Vintage.  

The beautiful stall of the King and I

The beautiful stall of the King and I

Lots of styling inspiration from the stall of Hellish Designs

Lots of styling inspiration from the stall of Hellish Designs

Beautiful things promised by our vintage newcomer Curated Room

Beautiful things promised by our vintage newcomer Curated Room

Designer Makers

My heavy hints to Mr Malmo about needing a piece of handcrafted seaglass jewellery in my life seemed to go unnoticed at the last Occasional Home Store judging by the fact that I still don't have a piece of handcrafted seaglass jewellery in my life.  So I  was delighted when Fiona Petheram of Drift Jewellery, who makes each piece of her stunning jewellery collection from pieces of natural sea glass recovered from the beaches of Suffolk and beyond agreed to come back to join us again.  With Mother's Day falling just one week after OHS I am sure there will be plenty of husbands, sons and daughters who will be would be making their Mother's Day by shopping from Fiona's stall (including me Mr Malmo in case you are reading this).  

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We are also delighted to welcome the enormously talented Buddug Humphrey to our line up this time round. She is now based in Wales but lived and worked just around the corner in Hackney until recently and has a huge fanbase for her beautiful crafted jewellery which draws on enamelling techniques.

Contemporary Homeware

I describe myself in my instagram profile as Sarah Lund meets Lovejoy.  This is on account of my love of mixing vintage finds with Scandinavian inspired homeware rather than because I have a thick black mullet, penchant for icelandic knitwear and encyclopaedic knowledge of Chippendale furniture.   Bringing the Lund to the table at the Spring Occasional Home Store is a stellar line up of independent stores and online businesses who offer a range of beautiful contemporary homeware including Feather & Marble, &Hobbs, Home of Boho, Lusophile, Nabo Shop, Meylor Stationery, Fellowstead, Peastyle, Lisa Valentine Home, Lived & Loved, Tinker Tailor and Ondine Ash. There is simply not space here to talk about all the amazingness that these brands are going to be bringing to the Occasional Home Store so make sure you are following @occasionalhome where we will be profiling them each individually.

&Hobbs arrived power drill in hand and recreated a mini version of their store at the last Occasional Home Store

&Hobbs arrived power drill in hand and recreated a mini version of their store at the last Occasional Home Store

We are hoping some copies of Kinfolk from the shelves of Tinker Tailor's shop in Bush Hill Park will be making their way to our Spring fair.

We are hoping some copies of Kinfolk from the shelves of Tinker Tailor's shop in Bush Hill Park will be making their way to our Spring fair.

We can't wait to see the beautifully curated mix of Danish Homeware Nabo Shop will be bringing with thm

We can't wait to see the beautifully curated mix of Danish Homeware Nabo Shop will be bringing with thm

Always a welcome sight, the smiley face of Lisa Valentine

Always a welcome sight, the smiley face of Lisa Valentine

Flowers

We are hoping by the 3rd of March that Spring will have sprung but even if the weather doesn't play ball, you can take home a little bit of Spring with beautiful fresh flowers from the spectacular Your London Florist.

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Or you could take home some seeds to grow your own peonies, roses and tulips from Grace Alexander Flowers in beautiful vintage inspired packaging.  We love that Grace describes them as "tiny fragments of hope, potential and happiness waiting to happen". And if you want to keep that Spring feeling going when you get home then you don't want to miss the stunning faux floral creations of Walnut & Willow Flowers.   

Beautiful vintage vases used by Walnut & Willow Flowers

Beautiful vintage vases used by Walnut & Willow Flowers

Workshops

Lisa Dawson and Dee Campling: How To Grow Your Instagram

A beautiful shot from Dee's instagram

A beautiful shot from Dee's instagram

Over the last 18 months Lisa Dawson and Dee Campling have taken the instagram interiors world by storm, racking up an impressive 170K instagram followers between. We are thrilled that they will be joining us at the Spring Occasional Home Store and, in conversation with Malmo & Moss (aka me in interiors Paxman mode), sharing some of the secrets of their success as well some great practical advice about how you can make instagram work for you.  Afterwards there will be a question and answer session where you can quiz them on anything you like. So if you have a burning question about shadow bans or want to know their biggest insta regret come along and join us for this fun and informal session, chow down on a beautiful brownie from Norahs Brownies and go away armed with lots of great ideas about how to take you instagram account to the next level and maximise your engagement.  To book a ticket which is £20 including entrance to the Occasional Home Store and a Norahs Brownie click here

Floral Hoop Making Class

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Fashion moves in circles and it's all things hoop-like that currently have us in spin at the moment.  Once confined to the Christmas season, wreaths and their deconstructed counterparts have broken out and are now embraced all year round.  We used this beautiful floral hoops to decorate the venue at our Autumn Occasional Home Store venue and had so many requests to buy them that this time we decided to run a workshop showing you how to make them yourself.  Join the Occasional Home Store team and learn how to make a beautiful fabric wrapped, floral spring hoop and explore creative ideas and techniques that will see you through every season.  Suitable for beginners, all materials provided. Find out what all the hoopla is about for £22 excluding entry to the Occasional Home Store.  Click here to book.

Style, Shoot, Edit & Curate with 91 Magazine

Tips and advice for creating great visual content for your Instagram or blog with the 91 Magazine team.

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91 Magazine publishes a biannual print magazine, a quarterly e-zine and a blog, all filled with beautifully curated content and photography. In this workshop, editor Caroline Rowland and 91 photographer Jemma Watts will be sharing their knowledge on how to best style, shoot, edit and curate your own images whether it’s for your Instagram feed or blog. There will also be the chance to have a go at shooting some images on the day under their supervision. Get inspired by their hashtag #seekinspirecreate and you may even see your image published on one of 91’s platforms!  Click here to book a ticket for £18 (excludes entry to the Occasional Home Store).

Food and Drink

One of the biggest lessons we learnt from our first Occasional Home Store was that shopping makes people really really hungry.  So hungry that Norahs Brownies and Three One Four Pie, our lovely food providers last time, completely sold out of their sweet treats.  This time they will be setting their Magimixes to top speed and coming back with double quantities.  We have also further bolstered our food defences with the addition of the delicious Luminary Bakery who will be bringing their baked savoury goods to feed our hungry hoards.  

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Liquid refreshment will be taken care of by Clara's Coffee who will be serving hot drinks from their super stylish Mint Green Citroen 2CV with the Expresso Trike cycling buy to take care of all of our process needs.  

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Insta Meet Up

One of the best things about our first fair was the chance it offered to meet the people behind your favourite instagram squares in person. So when your feet are sore from shopping and you need a break from all the beautiful objects on offer it's time to head over to our Insta meet-up and hook up with your cushion crush or home styling heartthrob.  We will have some fun challenges and great prizes for you win whilst you are there and it will be conveniently located right next to the Proseco bar!

Our insta meet up at the last Occasional Home Store was provided by the Glam Camping CO. This time we will be indoors but will be creating an equally stylish space for instagram hook ups!

Our insta meet up at the last Occasional Home Store was provided by the Glam Camping CO. This time we will be indoors but will be creating an equally stylish space for instagram hook ups!

There will also be the chance to fit in a quick file and polish with Minicures London joining us to provide £10 express manicures.  

How to buy tickets

So if all that has wet your appetite and you would like to come and join us for the Spring Occasional Home Store here is everything you need to know about visiting.

The Venue: The West Reservoir Centre, Green Lanes, N4 2HA

Getting there: The nearest tube/rail is Manor House on the Piccadilly Line (10 mins walk away) and Finsbury Park on the Piccadilly and Victoria lines and overground (15 minutes walk or 5 minutes on the 106 bus).  Bus routes stopping close by include the 341/141/106.

Opening hours and tickets:  Our doors will open for early bird ticket holders at 10am and to the general public at 11am.  All of our early bird tickets have now sold out (eek thank you guys!).  General admittance tickets from 11am are £3 and can either be purchased in advance (to save queuing click here) or at the venue on the day.

Workshops: Lisa and Dee's workshop will run from 11am - 12pm, tickets are £20 and include early bird entry to the Occasional Home Store and a Norah's Brownie.  Tickets to the 91 Magazine workshop which will run from 1-2pm are £18 and do not include entrance to the Occasional Home Store.  Last but not least, the hoop making workshop will run from 2:30-3:30pm and tickets cost £22 which includes the costs of all materials and a hoop to take home (but not entrance to the Occasional Home Store which will need to be purchased separately).  Please click here to book places on any of our workshops.

Please note all tickets are non-refundable. 

Thanks to @tiatalula for the beautiful pictures used throughout this blog.  We are thrilled Tia will be coming back to capture our Spring event.

Malmo & Moss Wears: New Year's Eve Fashion Edit

It has taken me a very long time to write something for Malmo & Moss's blog, as I am fairly certain that there is not much demand for my idea of winter fashion, which involves wearing a half dozen jumpers in black, shades of grey and navy on heavy rotation until I feel warm again, i.e. mid May, or they develop (noticeable) holes on the elbows.  However, I will happily ditch my much-loved woollens for a party – including the big daddy of them all, New Year’s Eve.  Then I think it’s kind of nice to reach for something a little more luxe, be it velvet, sequins, leather, metallics, silk …  anything goes, really.  Purely in the interests of research (ahem), I have scoured the High Street for some festive gorgeousness to help you choose your New Years Eve look.  Bonus – some of it is now on sale too. Here is my round up of the pick of the lot, with no single item coting over £150 as I appreciate that a lot of you have a serious soft furnishings habit to feed too.

&OTHER STORIES , Blazer £89, Bottoms £79

&OTHER STORIES, Blazer £89, Bottoms £79

ASOS  Blazer £35, Trousers £31.50 (on sale)

ASOS Blazer £35, Trousers £31.50 (on sale)

Topshop  Blouse £34

Topshop Blouse £34

&Other Stories  Heels £69

&Other Stories Heels £69

Sandro  Culottes £123

Sandro Culottes £123

I love a velvet suit.  If you got your hands on this dreamy, high waisted tux by &Other Stories this season, which sold out in what seemed like a nanosecond, then lucky you, as I think it’s perfect.  I also really like this slightly more relaxed, navy suit by ASOS and, if a suit is not so much your thing, these black velvet culottes from Sandro (both on sale).  I’d tuck a silky top (like this satin pyjama style blouse from Topshop) into the culottes and add some simple, strappy heels for an easy evening look. I think the ASOS suit would look pretty cool dressed up with a silky vest, or dressed down with a T and a pair of flats as well.

Pepe Blazer via  Asos  £100

Pepe Blazer via Asos £100

French Connection  Leather Skirt £150

French Connection Leather Skirt £150

&OtherStories Knit £34

&OtherStories Knit £34

Topshop  Boots £89

Topshop Boots £89

H&M  Sequin Dress £60

H&M Sequin Dress £60

There are more oversized blazers than you can shake a stick at in the stores at the moment.  This tux-y looking, tailored one by Pepe Jeans (via ASOS) above caught my eye, and would really suit a mini.  There are also some great looking sequinned dresses in the stores this season, including this crew necked, long sleeved version from H&M.  Sequins can be a bit Marmite, so if they are not your thing, you could wear the blazer with a leather mini instead, like this high waist one from French Connection, and maybe a loose, fine knit jumper or a vintage T.  I’d top the outfit off with some ankle boots (I really like these white leather ones from Topshop).

A little peek inside my wardrobe at home with my own version of the French Connection leather skirt

A little peek inside my wardrobe at home with my own version of the French Connection leather skirt

These white courts have been a staple for me this season

These white courts have been a staple for me this season

“But it is too cold to go out in a mini, you fool!”, I hear those of you who were born south of Watford cry.  I am a sucker for a dress with long sleeves and leopard print, so I bought this leopard dress from Zara as soon as I saw it.  It is very flattering on and a great length (somewhere between a midi and a maxi – a mid midi maxi?!).   I wear it with my trusty black, pointy ankle boots.  I also really like pyjama suits, and I think this one from H&M, with its exotic print and red piping, looks way more spendy than it actually is.  To add a bit of boom to these looks, I’d add some big old earrings, like these ones from Mango (although be careful you don’t have someone’s eye out on the dancefloor and avoid leaning over any lit candles).  Lastly, I adore these sequinned, cropped trousers from Miss Selfridge’s premium range, which are now half price in the sale.  Admittedly, they are a little blingy, so I’d dress them down with a snug, black turtleneck and some suede heels, like these from Topshop.  The oversized blazer would work well with these trousers too.

Zara  Leopard Print Dress £70

Zara Leopard Print Dress £70

Miss Selfridge  Trousers £38

Miss Selfridge Trousers £38

H&M  Trousers & Top £25 each

H&M Trousers & Top £25 each

Topshop  Heels £56

Topshop Heels £56

Mango  Earrings £16

Mango Earrings £16

So there you have it – my little round up of this season’s festive party wear.  Ultimately, of course, the best party outfit is the one you feel awesome in, whatever that looks like.   This explains why I will more than likely end up wearing the camo print boiler suit I have just snapped up in the sales to my NYE dinner with friends, along with the mega sized Mango earrings … It’s like I said at the outset, anything goes!  Happy new year!

 

Malmo & Moss Sleeps: The Vintage Curator House

Growing up the child of Guardian reading muesli eating parents in the 80s/90s meant that our Summer holidays followed a well trodden middle class path across the channel to a French Gite my mum had booked through the Brittany Ferries catalogue.  This being the days before the internet the most you had to go off in determining whether your accommodation was tres chic or a shit gite was usually just one picture of the exterior.  On several occasions we turned up after an 12 hour journey in our Rover 316 (anyone else remember the faux mahogany trim that made you feel like you were trapped inside David Dickinson’s wet dream) to find what waited behind the keyhole was more ‘A Week in a Romanian Orphanage’ than ‘A Year in Provence’. Happily saying Bonjour to the internet has meant we can say Au Revoir to the horrible holiday lottery and these days Gites even come with their own Instagram accounts.  So having followed and drooled over the Vintage Curator House feed it took me all of 20 seconds to say yes when it's owner Sam ( aka @vintagecuratorinteriors) asked me if I would like to go and spend a week there. 

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The house is located in the Vendee which on the West coast of France.  The nearest airport, La Rochelle is just over an hour away but because we have 3 small children and therefore travel about as light as a zumo wrestler we decided to take the ferry and drive instead.  Our plan was to hit the road straight after picking up the kids from school thus avoiding rush hour traffic. Obviously the reality was that an hour after picking up the kids we were still trying to find someone to feed the cat and locate the chessboard that my middle son claimed he couldn't live without but then didn't play with all week.  A last minute discovery that I had neglected to pack myself any knickers set us back a further 15 minutes and whilst returning to fetch them avoided this blog being called "Malmo's Muff Gets into Merde"it did, on the other hand, result in us both running into rush hour traffic and Hurricane Brian.  Arriving at Dover to discover our ferry had been delayed by 3 hours merely confirmed my suspicion that nothing good comes from things called Brian.   But when we arrived at the Vintage Curator House the next day all negative thoughts about Hurricanes named after tax inspectors from Wilmslow were forgotten.  

The stunning scene that greeted us when we arrived at the Vintage Curator House.

The stunning scene that greeted us when we arrived at the Vintage Curator House.

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Sam and husband Oli bought the house back in 2010 after their search for a holiday house that didn't need much work instead resulted in the purchase of something that needed all of the downstairs beams replacing to avoid the top floor falling in, new windows, new doors, new roofs, the installation of two new bathrooms, a new kitchen and a new septic tank.  Having taking care of the sewage and sash windows, the couple then added a swimming pool, outdoor cabana and al fresco eating area.  Whilst the renovation may have had its ups and downs (particularly for a French plumber who had to climb into a pit of raw sewage to fix a leak in the septic tank) the end results are nothing short of stunning. The house has modern rustic good looks in spades with oodles of gorgeous exposed stone walls, wooden beams and flagstone floors.  

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Males big and small loved the Vintage Curator House kitchen

Males big and small loved the Vintage Curator House kitchen

With 5 bedrooms and 4 huge reception spaces it is perfectly set up for big groups and there is just as much space outside as in with a swimming pool, outdoor barn with table tennis, and, to my 7 year olds utter delight, a garden big enough to host a mini football pitch.  We visited in October which I think offered us the best of both worlds with warm sunny days and cooler nights when we could light the wood burners in the kitchen and living room and get our hygge on.   I would, however, like to go back in Summer so I can use the pool which I wasn't brave enough to venture in this time having seen Mr Malmo jump in and then rapidly get back out with his manhood resembling a terrified field mouse.  

The lobby sitting area that is the first room you see when you step inside the Vintage Curator House

The lobby sitting area that is the first room you see when you step inside the Vintage Curator House

I loved Sam's collection of vintage carbuoys which she sells through her vinatge business @vintage curatorinteriors

I loved Sam's collection of vintage carbuoys which she sells through her vinatge business @vintage curatorinteriors

The house is located in quite a rural area so every couple of days we would head to the nearest hypermarche about 20 mins away and stock up with provisions.  This took me back to my teenage years when I would blow all of my holiday money on Hollywood chewing gum, Galak chocolate and Lafuma pencil cases the moment I stepped foot in a L'Eclerc.   My sister is still paying my mum back after suffering a bad case of #HyperMarcheHardOn and sinking all of her cash into buying a crushed silk peach coloured Naf Naf jacket in the Summer of 1993.  To be honest though, the house is so well set up that it was a struggle to leave even with the lure of a L'Eclerc. 

I have this thing about Sam's amazing chandeliers......

I have this thing about Sam's amazing chandeliers......

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With the kids in bed we would light the woodburner in here and cosy up

With the kids in bed we would light the woodburner in here and cosy up

Even getting out of bed in the morning proved a struggle as our bed in the stunning master suite was so big and so comfortable that if I didn't have an 18 month old who is fond of watching the sunrise I would happily have stayed in it all day.  Well, maybe I would have got up, but only to run a bath in the en suite bathroom which has a toll top bath and huge walk in shower. I know Mr Malmo was definitely wishing he had stayed in bed on the day we took the kids swimming at a local leisure centre only to discover an obscure French byelaw was being enforced which requires men to only wear "spot the sausage" swimwear. 60 Euros and 3 pairs of budgie smugglers later we entered the pool with him wearing swimwear shorter than the hot pants Kylie wears in the Spinning Around video.  He didn't see the funny side when I told him he had, to quote Alan Patridge, "just popped out" whilst bending down in the shallow end. 

The stunning master suite

The stunning master suite

Our ensuite bathroom

Our ensuite bathroom

Mirror mirror on the wall who is the fairest modern rustic holiday home of them all

Mirror mirror on the wall who is the fairest modern rustic holiday home of them all

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There were so many amazing bedrooms to chose from!

There were so many amazing bedrooms to chose from!

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If you prefer day trips that don't require you to leave your dignity and loose clothing at the door then our favourite local town was Fontenauy le Comte which has pretty winding medevial streets to lose yourself in with plenty of instagrammable doors in arrays of fading pastel colours.  Slightly further afield is the Il de Re which has to be one of my favourite places in the world.  It is an island just off the coast of La Rochelle and about 1 hr 15 mins drive from the Vintage Curator House.  In the height of Summer you can't move for Chic Parisians on holiday enjoying it's impossibly pretty villages, wide stretches of sandy beach, cyclepaths through salt marshes and daily food and antique markets.  However it was much quieter in October and we had a great day pottering around in the Autumn sunshine and cycling out to a lighthouse after somehow managing to find a configuration of bikes for 4 adults, 2 toddlers, 1 cycling seven year old and a non cycling 4 year old.   

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The Il de Re is full of instagrammable moments like this!

The Il de Re is full of instagrammable moments like this!

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Back at the Vintage Curator House the weather was so mild that we even managed to squeeze in a couple of BBQs on the outdoor terrace and a mini drinks and (L'Eclerc) canapes reception up by the pool cabana before we set off home.  Obviously we were only one Vol Au Vent in before one of the kids had thrown a shoe in the pool and broken the temporary Come Dine with Me calm but if you are child free or have older children less prone to throwing things in water then you will absolutely love all the spaces the house has for entertaining.  

The lovely al fresco eating area at the side of the house

The lovely al fresco eating area at the side of the house

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If you would like to find out more about how to book a stay at the Vintage Curator House then click here to book through Air BnB or visit www.vintagecuratorhouse.com.  To find out more about Vintage Curated Interiors, the business through which Sam sells some of the gorgeous french vintage items she has found whilst visiting the Vintage Curator House visit www.vintagecuratorinteriors.co.uk 

Malmo & Moss House: Bringing Scandi Back

As regular readers of the blog will know, we spent our Summer holiday this year in Denmark visiting both Copenhagen and Tisvildleje on the Danish Coast. It was a dream of a trip for a Scandophile like me.  I came home more convinced than ever before that I am in fact a Danish Girl trapped in a Geordie Girl's body (Danish girl in the sense of a female from Denmark rather than the Eddie Redmayne man wanting to be a woman film sense).  Unfortunately my actual body returned home looking less Helena Christensen and more Danny Devito owing to my excessive consumption of kanelsnegles.  Whilst I am waiting for Nationality realignment surgery to become available on the NHS I thought I would share with you some of the fresh Danish interiors inspiration for the kitchen and garden that I picked up on the trip and how I have been translating it into the Malmo & Moss house now I am home.

Let's Go Outside.....

Whilst staying in Tisvildleje we stumbled upon a cafe somebody had set up on their front garden to sell their own home brewed slow drip coffee.  The contrast with our own front garden couldn't have been greater.  There wasn't a wheelie bin or fox poo in sight.  What they had instead, which I fell more than a little bit in love with, was a garden seating area constructed out of palletts.  It was totally inexpensive but looked amazing and I loved the seating cushions they had made to fit it which were a mix of muted greys and monochrome and looked great against the backdrop of abundant lavender, mint and rosemary growing in the planters.  

I had already seen pallets used in other Scandi gardens on pinterest and loved them so when I got home I started scanning skips in search of some I could use to recreate the look.  Luckily @vintagecuratorinteriors came up trumps before I had to go full #StigOfTheSkip.  My long term plan for them is to create a coffee table on wheels but it has been a busy Summer and any time I have started the sentence "could you just pop to B&Q to get some castors" Mr Malmo has given me the kind of look that suggests I have got more chance of getting him to go on a crochet blanket making course with out 75 yr old neighbour Margery.  But for now I kind of like the way the look just stacked one on top of the other.

I have also added an extra shot of Scandi to my outdoor seating area through the purchase of some new cushions and a rug.  All in a mixture of patterns and textures but sticking to a monochrome palette.  I sourced some of the cushions from two of my favourite independent stores for Scandi homeware, Grey September Store and Jo & Co Home, but also picked up a cushion and the rug from B&Q who, in amongst the endless drill bits and polyfiller supplies actually have some really great soft furnishings at bargain prices (this is not a sponsored blog either!).  The large zig zag cushion was just £7 and the rug a mere £15. 

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Now that Autumn is upon us, I have also borrowed another trick from the Danes and introduced a shot of hygge to the garden with a gorgeous rusty firepit from Cox & Cox.  I did a lot of research before choosing this one #firepitbore.   You can easily spend hundreds of pounds but this one is just £80 and is super lightweight and easy to move around the garden.  We gave it a debut burn at our tenth wedding anniversary party in October which was themed around recreating a mini version of the Woodstock festival in our garden.  

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Unfortunately as we are only amateur urban arsonists we did not dry our hastily purchased petrol station logs before chucking them on the fire.  Therefore, instead of creating a warm blaze around which people could huddle, drink hot chocolate and chat, we instead had a smoking inferno on our hands that sent people running inside for a drink of water.  I have since discovered that you can actually buy smokeless logs from Tesco should anybody else find themselves hosting a middle class party and not have twenty four hours to dry their wood out in advance. 

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Bringing Scandi to the Kitchen Table

I follow lots of beautiful Scandinavian instagram accounts for inspiration but my all time favourite has to be that of Signe Bay, a photographer and stylist based in Copenhagen.  Her feed often features of two of my greatest Danish loves: cinnamon buns and ceramics.  Our Summer holiday featured lots of both.  I could have piled the car high with pottery but the reality of going away on holiday when you have 3 children is that you have to travel with essentially all of your possessions so slipping a small dinner service into the footwell was sadly not an option.  

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When we got home I started looking for places I could source some of the beautiful ceramics I had seen on holiday here in the UK.  My inner Signe lit up when I came across Feather & Marble,  a small independent business set up by Emily & Ollie in 2016 after they too visited Copenhagen and fell under the Danish spell.  They now stock over 1000 handpicked items from Danish brands including the beautiful tableware of Broste Copenhagen whose Salt cup and saucer is my new favourite mug and believe me I don't bandy that title around lightly.   It takes quite a cup to come along and turn my tea drinking head.

Taking a tea break with my new favourite mug. Gorgeous calligraphy label made for me by the very talented Kate of  Oysterbridge & Co

Taking a tea break with my new favourite mug. Gorgeous calligraphy label made for me by the very talented Kate of Oysterbridge & Co

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This beautiful bluey bowl from  Feather & Marble  reminded me of the sea in Tisvileje

This beautiful bluey bowl from Feather & Marble reminded me of the sea in Tisvileje

Having secured ceramics fit for a flat lay, I started researching cinnamon bun recipes so I had something #suitablysigne to serve up on my Danish table.  I am not, by nature, a patient baker.  If a recipe features more than 5 steps I tend to turn over.  This BBC Good Food recipe for "simple cinnamon rolls" has, therefore, proved perfect for me.   If I had to sum it up in 4 simple steps it would be mix dry and wet ingredients together to make a dough, roll out into a rectangle, smear huge ammounts of melted brown sugar, butter and cinnamon on said rectangle, roll up and cut into segments like a swiss roll, cook for 30 mins then cram into your mouth fresh from the oven.  The slightly more detailed version is set out below should you be the kind of person who likes to know actual quantiies of ingredients, cooking times and the like.

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I made them on the morning of the Occasional Home Store Autumn Fair for our stallholders and they got hoovered up very quickly.  I have had a few mishaps along the way witht them though.  For example, if you add more cinnamon to the dough than the recipe dictates because you don't think they will be cinnamony enough all you will achieve is giving your buns an off brown appearance that is reminiscent of a pair of corduroy trosuers  your dad might wear in.  Leaving them in too long/cooking them at too high a temperature has also caused me problems as then the sugar filling bubbles out and goes black leaving you with buns that look more like lumps of coal than kanalsnegle.  But other than those two small glitsches I would say they are pretty much fool proof and I would love to know how you get on with making them.

Simple Cinnamon Bun served on beautiful Broste side plates from  Feather & Marble

Simple Cinnamon Bun served on beautiful Broste side plates from Feather & Marble

Simple Cinnamon Buns

Ingredients

  • Rolls:

  • 350g/12oz self raising flour

  • Pinch of salt

  • 2tbsp caster sugar

  • 1tsp ground cinnamon

  • 100g/3.5oz butter, melted and extra for greasing

  • 2 egg yolks

  • 200ml/7 fl oz milk, extra for glazing

  • Filling:

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 55g/2oz brown sugar

  • 2 tbsp caster sugar

  • 1 tbsp butter, melted

  • Icing:

  • 125g/4.5 oz icing sugar, sifted

  • 2 tbsp cream cheese, softened

  • 1 tbsp butter, softened

  • about 2 tbsp boiling water

  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Method

  1. Grease a 20-cm/8-inch round tin and line the bottom with baking parchment.

  2. Mix the flour, salt, caster sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Whisk the butter, egg yolks and milk together and combine the dry ingredients to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a large piece of waxed paper, lightly sprinkled with flour, and roll out to a rectangle 30 x 25cm/12 x 10 inches.

  3. To make the filling mix the ingredients together, spread evenly over the dough and roll up, Swiss-roll style to form a log. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 8 even-sized slices and pack into the prepared tin. Brush gently with extra milk and bake in a preheated oven, 180C/350F, for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes before removing from the tin.

  4. Sift icing sugar into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Place the cream cheese and butter in the centre, pour over the water and stir to mix. Add extra boiling water, a few drops at a time, until the frosting coats the back of a spoon. Stir in the vanilla essence, then drizzle the icing over the rolls. Serve warm or cold.

Recipe reproduced from BBC Good Food.

 

Malmo & Moss is One: 5 things I have learnt from my first year on Instagram

When I was up in the wee small hours breastfeeding my second son, I used to download Jilly Cooper books to read to make sure I didn't fall asleep on the job.  It was as close as I am ever going to get to Rupert Campbell Black keeping me up all night.  By the time I had my third son it became clear that Jilly wasn't churning out the menage a trois as fast as I was churning out children so, having exhausted her romping repertoire, I was forced to find a new way to keep myself awake on the milky job.  Enter Instagram. Prior to that point, my only presence on social media had been a work related Twitter account focused on promoting energy efficiency (the Cinderella of European climate policy don't you know).  It was mainly followed by my poor friends who had to endure regular tweets about boiler lagging and solid wall insulation roll outs.  They were no doubt horrified when I told them that I had joined Instagram fearing that they would soon be finding their feeds full of LED lightbulbs and smart thermostats.  However, luckily for them, I ultimately ended up focusing on the interiors rather than insulation of my house. 

Not an Smart Thermostat in sight luckily for my poor friends.....

Not an Smart Thermostat in sight luckily for my poor friends.....

My first few posts were an eclectic mix of shoes, choux pastries and stately homes (think Imelda Marcos takes the National Trust (and then has a nice French Patisseries afterwards) with it taking me a while to find my tribe in cushion corner.  If you told me that one year on I would have over 30,000 followers and my own blog, I would have said there was more chance of me writing a cookbook about my love of lentils (aka Satan's Pulse).  I can honestly say I have not really much of a clue how it happened but here are a few of the pointers I picked up along the way that I thought it might be helpful to share. 

Lesson One: Filters Are Not Always Your Friend

If you scroll back to the beginning of my feed you will notice that my pictures both had weird borders on them in varying shades of taupe and had been put through a filter favoured by 1970s porn directors (and me).  It left the house looking like it had a bad case of jaundice.  What can I say, I thought it looked arty.  It was Mr Malmo who gently suggested that maybe I should step away from the #BeigeBars, dispense with the #HouseofJaundice filter and go au nataurel.

Trapped inside Taupe Tramlines!

Trapped inside Taupe Tramlines!

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Whilst it galls me to admit it, Mr Malmo was right.  Without the #TaupeTramlines my pictures instantly started to get more likes.  That is not to say that I am now 100% filter free.  As time has gone on I have tried to "curate" (sorry I know that word makes me sound like an instagram Alan Yentob) my feed a bit more and create a Malmo & Moss look by using the same couple of filters on my pictures consistently.   I used to be Team Valencia/Slumber but lately I have definitely started to be #LuredByLudwig.

Just a gentle bit of Juno and nothing else!

Just a gentle bit of Juno and nothing else!

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Lesson Two: You Don't Need a Big Gun to Have Fun

The big gun I am referring to here is a digital SLR camera rather than a Kashelnikov rifle. After I had been instagramming a while and wanted to make the move into blogging I started thinking that maybe I needed to invest in a proper camera (aka a big gun) rather than relying on my trusty Samsung phone.  I will admit that this was 35% influenced by how cool the Olympus Pen looks.  But the Pen don't come cheap so before I remortgaged the house I decided to call in the lovely @tiatalula to give me some advice.  Over tea and cake we talked Apertures, ISOs and Megapixels and it turned out anything the Pen could do my trusty Samsung S6 could do better.  Obviously I hadn't bothered to read any of the camera instructions when I first got my phone but it turned out that if I took it off auto and played around in pro I could do all sorts of cool stuff including, most importantly of all, that cool blurry background thing that makes you look like you know your Fuji film from your elbow.

Blurry background all courtesey of the humble Samsung S6!

Blurry background all courtesey of the humble Samsung S6!

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Lesson Three: Turn the lights down low (well off actually)

I am a big fan of soft lighting.   So much so that it would seem I have a reputation as a bit of #HalogenHitler in our family as relatives are always quick to apologise when they put the "big" light on when they visit.  However, when it comes to instagram, I have learnt that I need to ditch the dimmer switch and let the natural light flood in.  This can be challenging to achieve as with 3 kids and a job, there are approximately 23 minutes of any week when I am in the house alone during daylight hours without being surrounded by a swarm of plastic.  However, if you can fight off a fleet of Octonauts and get in before dusk falls, the daylight shots do always do better.  

The bedroom with the lights on.......

The bedroom with the lights on.......

Lights off and things are looking much better.......

Lights off and things are looking much better.......

Lesson Four: Crafting a Killer Caption

 I know it seems hard to believe but I used to be a woman of very few words on Instagram.  The words I usually used described either getting up early with the baby or going to bed late with Poldark (sadly only on the iPlayer rather than being given an in person sycthing to).  However, one day I lost control of an electronic cockroach in the kitchen (like you do) and shared the story on insta and I noticed that as well as my post getting some likes it also got a lot more comments than usual.  So little by little I started sharing less generic captions and before I knew it people were eagerly awaiting the next instalment of #ChroniclesOf ABlowJobBranch and interiors with a side serving of innuendo kind of became my thing.  Now I realise that not everyone will want to share stories of their husband being cock blocked by a hot water bottle (Mr Malmo's struggle is real) but I guess my point, as Oscar Wilde once said (or I read on a card in Clintons) "Be Yourself Because Everyone Else is Taken"and people are more likely to engage with your feed. Although I guess I have also learnt that including hashtags in your posts like #Don'tShitYourShellSuit might mean that some brands cross you off their collaboration list..... 

The dog piss stinking stick that was the star pf the #chroniclesofablowjobbranch show

The dog piss stinking stick that was the star pf the #chroniclesofablowjobbranch show

Chanelling someone who was never afraid to be himself in my flatlay!

Chanelling someone who was never afraid to be himself in my flatlay!

Lesson Five: If in doubt get your bathroom out

I don't want to say that my bathroom is solely responsible for my instagram success but.......The first picture of the it I shared got selected by @jtcollings to feature in a midweek #myhomevibe montage and it is responsible for all of my most liked posts.  So whilst I encountered a severe case of #BaffledBuilderFace when I asked him to weld me some taps out of copper piping it has definitely been worth it's weight in insta gold.   The only problem is my bathroom is frequently off limits for photos because either a) one of the quartet of todgers I live with has dropped something off in the loo that would make you want to amputate your own nose if you popped in to take a picture (of the bathroom not the mega log) or b) I have had to unleash 6 toilet duck refills in a bid to mask the smell of said mega log meaning it is impossible to take a photo because your eyes are stinging too much from the  chemical sunset that has created.  If the Mega Log-Chemical Sunset combination puts your bathroom out action then my advice would be go for the kitchen instead, another reliable instagram performer.

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So there you have it, my top tips for moderate instagram success!  I would love to know if there are some secrets of success I haven't discovered yet.  Well ones that don't involve posting a belfie that is......... 

 

   

 

 

 

 

Malmo & Moss House: Taking our Living Room to the Dark Side

When we moved into the Malmo & Moss house 7 years ago, we inherited a colour scheme with lashings of lilac, the kind of shade favoured by sanitary pad and vaginal wash manufacturers.  Once we had the keys one of our first steps was to de Always Ultra the walls.  As this was 2010 aka 'The Days before Downpipe' going over to the dark side was more likely to be a reference to accidentally crossing the A10 and ending up in Ponders End than applying inky hues to your walls.  So we played it safe and went Wimborne White on the walls in the front room and slipper satin on the floorboards. 

Apologies for the slightly grainy photos, these were taken in the days before my instagram obsession began!

Apologies for the slightly grainy photos, these were taken in the days before my instagram obsession began!

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Having said sayonara to #SanitaryPadPurple we were intially happy with the newly decorated living room but, after a while, the combination of the white with draughty floorboards and sash windows insulated with cotton wool started to make it feel like quite a cold room.  After we had the rear extension done to create a kitchen/family room, we started to notice we were using the front room about as often as any of the 25 different fitness dvd I have ever bought. 

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Our mission was to find a way to make it warm and cosy whilst retaining the Scandi look I love.  The boringly practical first step was getting a carpet.  In my twenties I was 100% Team Stripped Floorboard but, as time has gone by, I have realised that in some spaces I like to feel a tread between my toes.   Olga at the carpet shop' was desperate to sell us one of those velvet effect carpets favoured by premiership footballers, Russian oligarchs and high end brothels (although obvs have never actually been inside one of those so that is probably a wild sex carpet stereotype) but, much to her chagrin, we went sheep over synthetic and got a loop wool one instead. The next step in upping the warmth was getting rid of the shonky old radiator that was on the wall behind the sofa and replacing it with a vertical one that could actually release heat into the room.  This was an easy project if you ignore the fact that it fell off the wall in the middle of the night initially.

The radiator eyesore although it was a handy spot to balance a cup of tea.

The radiator eyesore although it was a handy spot to balance a cup of tea.

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We went for a dark grey radiator because the other huge change we decided upon was going over to the dark side with the colour on the walls.  By that point in 2016 we were pretty much the only people in North London not to have a downpipe feature wall.  But when I brought a sample of it home I just couldn't shake the fact that, in our front room, there was a weird green tinge to it.  So we went back to the Farrow & Ball drawing board and ended up going even darker with Railings.  Because Mr Malmo and I possess the cutting in skills of a pair of toddlers let loose in a crayola factory we got the pros in to apply the paint whilst we went away for the weekend.  

Cutting in not completed by the Crayola twins

Cutting in not completed by the Crayola twins

This alcove is one of my favourite parts of the room

This alcove is one of my favourite parts of the room

I was nervous about returning home to see the results, as the last time I had gone over to the dark side was age 13 when I went the full De Niro and died my hair black to play a minor member of the Sharks in West side Story.  Growing up in the North East with a shade of pale skin that is one shade off albino I was perhaps an unusual choice to play as a Puerto Rican and the black hair merely lent me an air of bus station goth instead of hot blooded latino.  Happily this dalliance with the dark side worked out a lot better and we have no #RailingsRegrets.  Everything looked just instantly more dramatic and because we have big Edwardian sash windows we get plenty of light in the room so it never feels gloomy.  Well I say that but my 10 year old niece does refer to it as Auntie B's black front room so maybe it is a little more batcave than I think it is.

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Having bold walls has made me a little bit bolder about what I put on them too.  Like this giant wall hanging I fell in love with in the home of @sara_lou_c on instagram (watch out for house tour coming to the blog soon).  It seems that I am not the only one to have fallen head over wall hanging heels as Sara has now set up a lovely website selling them called Fern Art & Interiors.  Whilst it had been love at first sight for me I was a little bit concerned that Mr Malmo would not experience the same level of lust but it turns out he is more of a modern bohemian than I gave him credit for as it didn't even come close to setting off his "What the f#uck have you bought now alarm".   He is also a massive fan of the new, stylish magazine storage solution I was sent by Life Of Riley as we were previously a couple of Living Etcs away from being buried under a magazine mountain.

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My rather smart new magazine storage from @mylifeofriley works perfectly with all the other textures

My rather smart new magazine storage from @mylifeofriley works perfectly with all the other textures

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The other big change we made was to replace our oldest sofa which was purchased in the Designers Guild sale nearly a decade ago but had never really recovered from the 4 month's Mr Malmo's brother spent sleeping on it when he had just finished Uni.  Not because he was spilling kebabs and bodily fluids on it (although to be fair he might have been age 21) but because our cat weed on it and his possessions everyday until he finally moved out.  It seems that we had some sort of #CatConservative on our hands who had strong views about the young people of today pulling their bootstraps up and going out to work rather than watching repeats of the Brittas Empire on our sofa. Top of my dream sofa shopping list was a dove grey velvet button backed chesterfield until I remembered that we have 3 boys and that owning a velvet sofa was another thing to add to the "maybe in another 15 years time list" along with driving a car that doesn't look like a variety club minibus and going to work without a bad case of #BananaCrotch.  Having come to my senses, we compromised on the Dixie sofa from Loaf in a brushed cotton finish and it is such a comfy sofa.

The Dixie, don't look too closely at my dodgy paint job behind the sofa

The Dixie, don't look too closely at my dodgy paint job behind the sofa

Adding some extra hygge this Autumn with a new throw from  Cox & Cox

Adding some extra hygge this Autumn with a new throw from Cox & Cox

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There are still a few more bits and pieces I would like to do to finish the room off.  The biggest of which is swapping the gas fire for a woodburner #MiddleGlassLifeGoals.  But whilst we save up for that on my more immediate hit list is a new pendant light as I am not sure the chandelier works in here anymore. What do you guys think?  Is it too delicate for the Batcave?

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Malmo & Moss Sleeps: The Danish Hamptons

Prior to July this year, if you had said Tisvideleje to me I would have said bless you.  Fast forward 3 months and I still can't pronounce the name of this small village on the Danish coast without sounding like I am gargling mouthwash, but I have found my holiday heaven. The name "Tisvideleje" is derived from "Ti's vælde", meaning a place dedicated to the God Tyr which makes me think that he must be the Danish god of coastal chic.  I discovered Tisvildleje after asking Danish instagrammer Kirsten Skovbon where cool Copenhageners liked to go on holiday in Denmark.  It turns out this is their Hamptons, tucked away on the North coast of Zealand just 80 minutes on the train from Copenhagen.  It takes little bit longer by car but it is a beautifully scenic drive through small towns, woodlands and then the last stretch right by the sea.  

Beautiful beach huts dotted the coast as we drove to Tisvildeleje

Beautiful beach huts dotted the coast as we drove to Tisvildeleje

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Where We Stayed

Obviously ideally I would have been gazing out of the window drinking in the gorgeous nordic scenery listening to a soundtrack of Sigur Ros or something similarly etheral and evocative but being in a car with 3 kids I just had to try and imagine that as Imelda Stanton's Calypso version of A Squash and a Squeeze blared out instead.  With Staunton's jaunty acapella rendition still ringing in our ears, we arrived at what was to be our home in the Hygge Hamptons: the Tisjvidleje Strand Hotel.  

The dining room at the Strand Hotel

The dining room at the Strand Hotel

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My favourite part of the hotel, the gorgeous internal courtyard

My favourite part of the hotel, the gorgeous internal courtyard

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I had an instant #ClapboardClimax the moment we pulled up outside.  The hotel oozed Cape Cod being housed in a gorgeous white clapboard building on a hill with front and back terraces filled with pale bamboo furniture.  Inside it was like walking into the pages of Kinfolk with effortlessly stylish designer Danes at every turn.  It quickly became apparent that by having a penis but no ponytail Mr Malmo was horribly off message compared to the rest of the male hotel residents.  With his short back and side from AJ's Barber Shop he was little bit like Alan Sugar to their Joaquin Cortes at breakfast. 

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We had an interconnecting family room just off the gorgeous internal courtyard which was my favourite bit of the hotel.  It had pale bamboo sofas with huge squishy cushions to lounge on and the whole area was strung with festoon lights and some very swoonworthy rattan pendant lights.  The room itself was decorated in simple neutral colours although we did have a very un kinfolk rear view of the back of the kitchen and a fire escape.  Am sure that for some trip advisors this would have been a big deal but we were just happy to have two rooms together so we didn't have to spend our evenings playing Scrabble in the toilet so as not to wake the kids.  

Simple but delicious breakfasts

Simple but delicious breakfasts

Breakfast was included in the rate and it was lovely to sit sipping tea in a room lit by twinkling candles in the morning with a simple selection of breads, meats and eggs to choose from.  There were lots of young Danish families there and babies are well catered for with very instagram friendly vintage wooden highchairs on offer (although if anyone else has a Highchair Houdini on their hands these are not particularly practical on account of their lack of straps).

Ten minutes down the hill from the hotel was the beach which is overlooked by thatched cottages dotted in behind the dunes with rocky groines leading out to sea.  When I was not trying to stop the toddler from eating sand or locating a small lego catwoman my son buried "under a white rock" on a beach of 10,000 white rocks, I enjoyed channelling my inner Saga Noren and gazing out across the sea to Sweden. 

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Saga looks out to sea.......

Saga looks out to sea.......

5 minutes walk the other way from the hotel was the centre of Tisvilde which is dotted with lovely bakeries, cafes and interiors shops.  My favourite cafe was Brod & Vin which bakes Kanelsnegle to die for (pop your elasticated waist trousers on and go and try the chocolate Snegle but be warned there will be no going back to Deliciously Ella's sweet potato brownies after you have opened Pandora's chocolate snegle box).  Just across the road from Brod & Vin was also my favourite shop, No 17 Limited, which blended clothes and interiors together in a way that made you want to remortgage your house and buy everything in the shop.

The Snegle laden counter at Brod & Vin

The Snegle laden counter at Brod & Vin

My favourite shop

My favourite shop

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Tisvilde shop.jpg

We also loved Sommerhaven which was essentially a coffee hut in somebody's front garden.  There was a slide, trampoline and clapboard wendy house so the kids were happy whilst we were getting our caffeine fix.    My favourite part was the pallet seating and cool cushion combo that had me rummaging in skips looking for pallets to recreate the look once we got home.  They also seemed to have mastered the art of planting raised flower beds with plants that blend well together and flourish rather than our own attempts at home which always end in everything dying except mint which then spreads everywhere faster than a veruca at a swimming pool.

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I loved the super sweet little wendy house

I loved the super sweet little wendy house

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How do they get those flowerbeds looking so abundant?

How do they get those flowerbeds looking so abundant?

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Another one of our favourites was the pizza place near the station called Den Rode Tomat because, if I am honest, whilst I love almost everything about Denmark, there comes a point for me when rye bread and pickled herrings just aren't hitting the spot.  At which point I need an injection of melted cheese which this place delivered with knobs on.  It serves great, reasonably priced pizza, has a cool bar made out of a shipping container, a lovely outdoor seating area with mini playground too.  The place we fell most in love with, however, was the Helene Kilde Hotel.

Hello heaven on earth

Hello heaven on earth

Helenekilde is located right above the beach in a stunning white house which was originally built as a summer home by a construction magnate called Mr. Grüner for his wife in 1896.  Oh to be Mrs Grüner! In 1904 it was converted into a summer and seaside boarding house and then, in 2008, was renovated into the paradise that it is today by former ballet dancer Alexander Kølpin.  He also owns the Strand Hotel where we stayed so is clearly a major #DanishHamptonsMogul. It has a gorgeous veranda, outdoor terrace and gardens that stretch down to the sea.  When we were there people were preparing for a birthday party winding hundreds of fairy lights into the bushes and hanging photographs from the trees.  What I wouldn't have given to be a guest at that party.  Inside is just as beautiful as outside with log burners for the winter months and lots of hygge corners to hideaway in.

A gorgeous gallery wall in the reception area

A gorgeous gallery wall in the reception area