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

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

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.

 

 

 

 

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 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 House: Making Over the Spare Room

Shall we really go hard at it in the spare room on Saturday night would, in my twenties, have been an offer to Mr Malmo that included matching lingerie, Marvin Gaye and massage oil. Three kids in he knows that these days it is much more like to involve removing my knickers from the drying rack that is semi permanently erected in there, hearing through the grapevine instructions to rationalise the underbed storage drawers and massaging shampoo into the carpet to try and remove evidence of a #babysudocreamrampage.  When we moved into the Malmo & Moss House 7 years ago we started by turning this room into my eldest son's nursery. Because we didn't get the keys until 3 weeks before he was born, my husband had to pretty much carry out that transformation solo, heroically wallpapering up a ladder at 2am.  Although, if I am honest, even if i didn't have a 7 pound baby eager to get out of my clunge I would probably have still just stood around decoratively holding a wallpaper brush.   

 With the boys moved into new bunk quarters, the spare room became ripe for redevelopment!

With the boys moved into new bunk quarters, the spare room became ripe for redevelopment!

When we knew baby number three was on the way we decided to move the two older boys into what was then bigger spare room with this room, after a lick of Cornforth White (has a more middle class phrase ever been uttered) assuming a new identity as a temporary offshoot of the Big Yellow Storage Company.  I am going to spare you a shot of it buried underneath a mound of maternity knickers, tea towels, baby toys, dismantled furniture, tins of paint and coats because you probably have a room like that of your own that you can go into if you want an interiors reality check.  When someone was coming to stay all of that crap got temporarily shoved into the wardrobe and it looked ok but it was a bit like the maternity knickers it so often played host to in that it was a bit drab and tired.  

 Temporarily tidy but all a bit bland

Temporarily tidy but all a bit bland

After a particularly steamy session in there one Saturday night when Mr Malmo went wild with the nozzle of the hoover (attached to the entrance to a vacumn bag rather than something else I hasten to add) it was enough of a blank canvas to start thinking about how we could add a bit of personality into it.   The first step I took was to try and break up the wall behind the bed a bit by stringing up some festoon lights using command hooks.  I got my festoon lights from Sainsburys homeware range.  I think they were £13 in the sale and they stock them all year round.  They are definitely not the same quality as say a set from The White Company (they are about as sturdy as an eggshell) but I think they pretty much do the job.  

 The festoons instantly injected a bit of interest

The festoons instantly injected a bit of interest

With that job done I turned my attention to the bedside tables.  They were a couple of fairly non descript numbers that we bought for our first flat back when I was a #Living EtcVirgin. They were, brace yourself, originally a shade of pine that I would describe as akin to Dale Winton just back from a week in Marbella. Once I had popped my Living Etc cherry I hastily painted them Pavilion Grey in a bid to Farrow & Ball away the Winton.  However, because I am the kind of impatient painter that dips a paintbrush in without a second thought to masking tape, dust sheets or priming I managed to paint the drawers shut.  Consequently retrieving anything from the drawers was the kind of challenge they liked to set people on the Crystal Maze when they wanted to watch an accountant in a jumpsuit try and restrain himself from saying the words cunting hell on pre-watershed television. 

 Spot the #DuluxWeldedDurexDrawers

Spot the #DuluxWeldedDurexDrawers

 The dressing table in its previous home in our main bedroom. Just to reassure you that is a curatin pole not crow bar you can see peaking out from under the bed.

The dressing table in its previous home in our main bedroom. Just to reassure you that is a curatin pole not crow bar you can see peaking out from under the bed.

Having finally jimmied the drawers open using the type of tool favoured by teenager car jackers, and disposed of the contents (which included some aged condoms which if used would almost certainly have led to the birth of our 4th child) the #DuluxWeldedDurexDrawers were taken to the tip.  Does anyone else's husband enjoy a trip to the tip almost as much as a blow job? In their place on the left hand side I brought down from our bedroom a dressing table which was the first piece of furniture we ever bought together.   Although Mr Malmo has never been a very big fan of it because apparently in his words it has shades of something Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart would have sat at whilst powdering his wig. I think it works really well in the spare room though with the style of our Loaf bed (and am sure Amadeus would have sided with me on this one inbetween whiping up preludes).  On the otherside of the bed we reconstructed the desk that used to be downstairs before Project Partition happened (future blogpost coming on that one!).

 A lovely spot for Mozart to powder his wig

A lovely spot for Mozart to powder his wig

My attention turned next to a subject in which I could complete a doctorate: cushions.  I wanted something which created a bit of texture and drama so when I was on a work trip in Cardiff I thought all my Christmases had come at once when I popped into TK Maxx and spotted two of their divine Mongolian fur cushions in the sale for half price.    Unfortunately they are each the size of a small Mountain Yak so the only carrier bag that would contain them was a pink bag for life plastered in pictures of dogs in camp spectacles.  I think it is probably the first time the security guard at the Welsh Government Building has had  to X-Ray scan soft furnishings for explosives in a bag that looked like something Dame Edna Everidge might take with her to the lauderette.  Having wrestled the Yaks all the way home from Cardiff on the train I realised when I got home that they are in fact not the smokey grey I had intially thought they were but had a distinctly greenish tinge to them, a bit like a Yak that had fallen a pond....However I have actually really come to like the colour and it fits really nicely with the rustic wood of the tables and bed. 

With the soft furnishings in hand I turned my attention to the bed linen.  One of my absolute favourite instagram accounts belongs to @teawithruby who has the most beautiful antique bed and really gorgeous slubby (is that even a word?!) linen bedding in smoky colours.  The charcoal linen set I chose from Piglet In Bed fitted the #SlubbySleeping bill perfectly!  They do a lovely range of durable low maintenance linen bedding that gets softer and softer with wear and most importantly of all doesn't require me to iron it for it to look good!

 The beautiful bedroom of @teawithruby

The beautiful bedroom of @teawithruby

 Slubby Sleeping Goals achieved thanks to Piglet in Bed.

Slubby Sleeping Goals achieved thanks to Piglet in Bed.

It was all coming together nicely but I wanted it to have a bit more of an industrial/boho edge inspired by some of my favourite instagram bedrooms.  Although I don't have bare bricks to work with (unless I start tearing chunks of plaster away from the walls which I suspect would be about as popular with Mr Malmo as my cauliflower burgers) I really like the earthy industrial feel they add to Reena of Hygge for Home's bedroom.  I decided to add that feel through the use of rustic reclaimed wood instead like the gorgeous bohemian bedroom of Kate Young.  A trip to our local salvage yard resulted in us returning with some suitably distressed planks and the owner 22 Stone Tony laughing all the way to the bank as he took our cash for what transpired to be the bench he used to saw up wood on to sell to yuppy renovators.

 Rustic woods and linen bedding getting my modern rustic pulse racing.

Rustic woods and linen bedding getting my modern rustic pulse racing.

 Beautiful Bare Brick Boho Bedroom inspiration from  @hygge_for_home

Beautiful Bare Brick Boho Bedroom inspiration from @hygge_for_home

 I love how  @kateyoungdesign  uses texture to create warmth in her bedroom

I love how @kateyoungdesign uses texture to create warmth in her bedroom

 22 Stone Tony's Planks stand proud in the corner next to the rehomed desk.

22 Stone Tony's Planks stand proud in the corner next to the rehomed desk.

I also decided to keep all of the artwork black and white to create a crisp, clean impact with prints from Desenio doing the honours.  I can't quite decide whether to have some more artwork above the bed and if so whether to go with one big print, a mini gallery wall or a picture shelf with a small selection of different size prints or alternatively whether to go with a bit set of vintage antlers there instead to provide a further nod to the nordic.  Would love to know your thoughts.  Would it look too busy?  We were originally intending to turn our #YuppySalvageHaul into shelves in the alcoves but that would mean the festoons couldn't hang down the sides so I think I have changed my mind about it.  

I have added a real olive tree in beside the bed whilst I continue the search for a faux one which doesn't require me to take a bridging loan to afford it.  I have recently received a tip off that Ikea may have one so I am hoping that there has not been a middle class stampede to my local branch since this faux foliage rumour started doing the rounds.  

On the right hand side of the bed in these pictures are a set of vintage pegs that are displaying a throw and a lovely cage light I got from Of Special Interest.  In reality my husband has an infuriating habit of using these pegs as the resting place for a waterproof coat he has which makes him look like a cross between a 1990s indie band member and a bird watcher, sort of Bez meets Bill Oddie.  The trunk below them is one of my favourite vintage finds from Newark collectors market, where I also got the old French Railway Station clock which adds some extra monochrome interest.

Completing the industrial touches on the other side of the bed are some old Mars tins which have been outside until recently so picked up quite a bit of rust although I personally think that just adds to their character.  I bought them about 5 years ago from a man at Newark who had literally hundreds of them so I am always kicking myself that I only came away with three which was the most I could fit under the pram at the time.  I think Bugaboo are really missing gap in the market by not designing a pram with a huge undercarriage for vintiquing mums on the go.

 The mars tins and a  John Lewis  sheepie to add some more texture and warmth under foot

The mars tins and a John Lewis sheepie to add some more texture and warmth under foot

 The copper legged stool from  Sainsbury's  adds an extra industrial touch

The copper legged stool from Sainsbury's adds an extra industrial touch

 The La Lune print is a recent purchase from  Desenio

The La Lune print is a recent purchase from Desenio

 The cage lights were from a little shop in Canal St Martin on the Il de Re

The cage lights were from a little shop in Canal St Martin on the Il de Re

 The Cushion Yaks provide nice contrast to my Florence Bouvier cushion from  Lisa Valentine Home

The Cushion Yaks provide nice contrast to my Florence Bouvier cushion from Lisa Valentine Home

The final touch I added recently after a rock n roll Thursday night trip to Enfield Town B&Q, was this Scandi inspired carpet runner which was a total bargain and neatly disguises where my middle son went rogue with his freshly sudocreamed bottom when 18 months old. Sudocream and wool fibres go about as well together as Theresa May and chocolate brown leather trousers.  Oh and am also very happy that we no longer have the 1980s doors that were all over the house when we first moved in which were reminiscent of doors the Corkhills used to slam during arguments on Brookside circa 1988.  This beautiful reclaimed one came from 22 Stone Tonys yard aka Stoneage Salvage on the way to Cuffley.

To the left of the bed as you walk in the door are a set of Ikea wardrobes constructed by Mr Malmo to which he added bespoke chipboard doors.  They are a very marmite feature of the room with my dad surpisingly numbering amongst their fans despite them being decidely non cluttered gothic, his signature interiors style.  They tend to create what I like to describe as the "shit why the hell did they do that face" in most guests.  I can't decide whether I want to leave them like that, paint them, or wallpaper them with tin effect paper like the panel hanging on the wall that caught my eye on the Rockett St George website.  What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments below whether you are #TeamChipboard or #TeamTin.

 

Malmo & Moss Diary: The Occasional Home Store Autumn Fair

3 weeks before the birth of our first son we moved from South to North London in search of a family house we could afford without assuming a debt the size of Germany's GDP. We left behind many of our closest friends who were die hard South Londoners and thus regarded Enfield as a spot on the map somewhere near outer Mongolia.  I was, therefore, a bit worried that it was just going to be me and the baby with Mr Tumble for company.all day.   So when we arrived for our crash NCT course in an old Quaker Hall I was desperately hoping to meet some kindred spirits to avoid becoming overly acquainted with the contents of Mr Tumble's spotty bag.  After an uncomfortable first 90 minutes of the class when the word vagina was said about 113 times more than I wanted to hear it in the company of 10 strangers, we took a tea break.   It was then, over an intensely stewed cup of PG tips and a soggy Rich Tea that I met Sally,  my kindred spirit.   It turned out that as well as both drinking our teas black and both being able to name all of Jordan and Peter Andre's children we also shared a love of vintage homeware.

 Bottle blondes who love black tea it was meant to be!

Bottle blondes who love black tea it was meant to be!

After the first intense period of motherhood passed when conversation revolved around shades of shit rather than chaise lounges we got our non baby produced shit together enough to think about pursuing our passion for all things old and interesting (excluding Des O'Connor to be clear) and took a stall together at a local vintage market.  We enjoyed it is so much that inbetween getting Sally to tell me, for the 417th time,  the story from her BBC runner days about when she blow dried Nicky from Westlife's hair, we started to dream about putting together an event of our own in the Quaker meeting hall where we had first met.  

 Some of the lovely vintage bits that @so_sally_vintage took along to our stall together

Some of the lovely vintage bits that @so_sally_vintage took along to our stall together

 Malmo & Moss stock from the early days

Malmo & Moss stock from the early days

 Sally's most popular items are always her bus destination blinds which mean she has a strong insta following amongst the bus spotter community!

Sally's most popular items are always her bus destination blinds which mean she has a strong insta following amongst the bus spotter community!

A couple of years passed and although our pelvic floors got weaker as we gave birth to our second (and in my case third) children, the dream just got stronger.  Enter Beth.   Her stall was often opposite ours and featured a beautifully curated mix of quirky curiosities but whilst we ogled it from afar it wasn't until we got chatting during a drop in trade one Saturday that we realised that she too lived in Winchmore Hill and, in a happy piece of coincidence, used to both edit the wonderful Selvedge magazine and organise their fairs which are renowned in London and beyond.  Suddenly the idea of organising our own event started to look a little bit less like something Duncan Bannatyne would laugh out of the Dragons Den and more like something Peter Jones would give a serious ponder.  

 The kind of beautiful items we used to ogle on Beth's Little Game stall

The kind of beautiful items we used to ogle on Beth's Little Game stall

 Her home is just as beautiful

Her home is just as beautiful

 As is her photographic styling, picture by Katya de Grunwald

As is her photographic styling, picture by Katya de Grunwald

Several Monday night meetings around our three kitchen tables later, the Occasional Home Store was born.  An event which will bring the best in both vintage and contemporary homeware to our little corner of North London along with some delicious food and drink to sustain you whilst you shop.  Over the last few months Beth has grappled with Wix to build us a lovely website whilst Sally has become an overnight expert in event licensing, insurance, food hygiene and pretty much every other sensible thing that i forget to think about when I am getting overexcited about how great it is all going to look on instagram.

 My kitchen table aka OHS Headquarters

My kitchen table aka OHS Headquarters

 Thank you to the wonderful Tia Talula (@tiatalula) for being patient when it took about 1000 shots to get a photo when it didn't look like at least one of us was being tortured/trying to hold in a fart

Thank you to the wonderful Tia Talula (@tiatalula) for being patient when it took about 1000 shots to get a photo when it didn't look like at least one of us was being tortured/trying to hold in a fart

 

And as for me?  Well I have been working my way through our wishlist of dream vintage sellers, contemporary designer/makers and interiors shops we would like to pop up at the OHS and spent a lot of time pinching myself as one by one they have all said yes.  All my Modern Rustic Christmases came at once when Kay of Kinship Creative DC (aka the Modern Rustic Madonna) said she would love to come along and run a workshop for us on how to blend Scandi and Vintage pieces to create a Modern Rustic home.  But it didn't stop there, within a fortnight that workshop had become a double bill with Kate Watson-Smyth aka superstar interiors blogger Mad About the House who will be imparting ten top tips to improve any room for those lucky enough to have bagged one of the limited places available.

 Styling from a previous Kinship Creative workshop which gives me the complete interiors horn.

Styling from a previous Kinship Creative workshop which gives me the complete interiors horn.

 Sign up to our workshop and you will go home armed with tips to transform your rooms into beautiful spaces like this, the gorgeous sitting room of Kate Watson Smyth aka Mad About the House (image taken from her instagram @mad_about_the _house)

Sign up to our workshop and you will go home armed with tips to transform your rooms into beautiful spaces like this, the gorgeous sitting room of Kate Watson Smyth aka Mad About the House (image taken from her instagram @mad_about_the _house)

The final icing on the cake came when Vicky, the owner of the beautiful home and body brand Plum & Ashby, said she thought our event sounded great and that they would love to collaborate with us on putting it together.  So on the 9th of September, in association with Plum & Ashby, the doors of the first Occasional Home Store event will be opening at 10am in St Peter's Church Hall, 10 Langham Gardens, N21 2DN.  Our OHS venue is just 2 minutes away from Grange Park overground station which connects to Finsbury Park in just 10 minutes from where you can access the Victoria and Piccadilly Lines.  It is also just 10 minutes drive onto the M25, North Circular or M11 so wherever you are coming from we should be within easy reach (unless you are coming from the Isle of Skye in which case I admit the transport might be more tricky). We are feeling equal parts hugely excited and hugely terrified at this point in time so I would love it if you guys could come along and hold my hand for the day.

 Some of Plum & Ashby's beautifully packaged products, you can see why I was doing cartwheels when they said they would like to be involved!

Some of Plum & Ashby's beautifully packaged products, you can see why I was doing cartwheels when they said they would like to be involved!

Until then (to give you an incentive to come along that doesn't involve my clammy hands) I wanted to share with you just a few of the amazing sellers we have coming along on the day and to give you a peak into some of their homes so you can see how their style translates from stall to semi-detached. Look out for more glimpses through the keyholes of our fabulous stallholders in future blog posts.  

Of Special Interest

Of Special Interest is a Crouch End interiors institution. Offering a prodigious range of elegant pieces for the home, the store has grown from its early incarnation as junk shop. Over the last two decades owner Belinda Fulton has taken over two neighbouring shops as their owners moved on and then the annex behind when it came up for rent. Her loyal customer base (including me!) can choose from antique European furniture sourced in Holland, stylish lighting, mirrors and irresistible impulse buys in the form of candles, kitchenware and faux foliage.  Her home is every bit as stylish as her shop and if you would like to see more of it be sure to have a look at Malmo & Moss Meets: Belinda Fulton

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 I start mentally moving furniture around my house as soon as I step inside Of Special Interest because I instantly want to buy things like these beautiful drawers

I start mentally moving furniture around my house as soon as I step inside Of Special Interest because I instantly want to buy things like these beautiful drawers

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Beetle & WILDE

Beetle & WILDE is a vintage emporium that delights in blurring the boundaries between art, anatomy, natural history & design - adding drama and intrigue to interiors with an eclectic mix of cultures, periods, styles & scale - from Victorian wunderkammer curiosities to mid century classics and quirky modern finds. If you’re the kind of person who longs to linger in the Natural History Museum past closing time you will love what Beetle & WILDE have to offer and I am certain you will love owner Caz's sultry, darkly sexy home even more. 

 Parquet floor of dreams in Caz's fabulous kitchen

Parquet floor of dreams in Caz's fabulous kitchen

 A cornucopia of curiosities will be coming with Caz to the Occasional Home Store

A cornucopia of curiosities will be coming with Caz to the Occasional Home Store

Wicker & Weft

Baskets are definitely in the category of “items you simply can’t have too many of” – they are just so useful. And they last – a toy basket can become a home for a yarn stash, a picnic or a pet! Since becoming a Mum, Mim English Morgan  founder of Wicker & Weft feels more aware of society's 'throw-away' nature. “I want to play a tiny part in preserving skills and teaching the value of using something beautiful with a story." Her traditional handcrafted goods are sourced from workers paid a fair wage; not out of pity, "but because their time and skills are worth it.” Mim's home is a 1960s bungalow which acts as the perfect neutral backdrop for her beautiful baskets.  Whilst there are big renovation plans in store for the future, I love how calm and serene it feels already.

 Mim's beautiful bedroom

Mim's beautiful bedroom

 One of Wicker & Wefts gorgeous handcrafted baskets

One of Wicker & Wefts gorgeous handcrafted baskets

 Wicker & Weft's baskets in &Hobbs, another one of our exciting pop ups.

Wicker & Weft's baskets in &Hobbs, another one of our exciting pop ups.

To see more details of all of our exhibitors hop over to our website www.occasionalhomestore.com and make sure to follow @occasionalhome to hear all of the latest announcements.  Over the next month I will be out and about sourcing more finds for my own Malmo & Moss stall and trying not to keep everything that I buy for myself instead #failedvintagemogul. Here are just a few of the things I have hunted out to bring along so far.

 As you will notice from this picture the ladder from picture above is already looking very at home in my bathroom....

As you will notice from this picture the ladder from picture above is already looking very at home in my bathroom....

 Beautiful 18th Centry entomology drawings 

Beautiful 18th Centry entomology drawings 

Hope that has helped wet your appeitite.  Sally, Beth and me and my clammy hands very much hope to see you on the 9th of September when we open the doors of the Occasional Home Store for the very first time!  If you have any questions at all about the event please do drop us an e-mail at occasionalhomestore@gmail.com or DM @occasionalhome and make sure to check out our website www.occasionalhomestore.com

Moving into the Malmo & Moss House

My love of interiors was sparked around the same time I met my husband.  Not because he was a stylish bachelor with great taste in cushions.  On the contrary, he lived in a room in a shared house with 3 other men who had so little in the way of soft furnishings that it looked like they were constantly waiting for a knock on the door from a Baliff.  I still have recurrent nightmares about the bathroom bin that overflowed with "sticky" tissues and the army of pubic hair that marched towards you whenever you turned the shower on.  No, the love affair began after he took me home to meet his parents for the first time.  His mum runs her own vintage interiors business called Hellish Designs and it was a bit like discovering that Kelly Hoppen is your mother-in-law (with a great eye for vintage instead of a resting bitch face).  

 I nearly proposed on the spot to my husband when I saw this room at his parents house

I nearly proposed on the spot to my husband when I saw this room at his parents house

 The strong mantelpiece game genes don't seem to have been passed on to Mr Malmo....

The strong mantelpiece game genes don't seem to have been passed on to Mr Malmo....

 So many gorgeous corners to choose from

So many gorgeous corners to choose from

 And lovely spots to sit in

And lovely spots to sit in

By the time we bought our first place together 3 years later, I was an avid reader of Living Etc and a regular attender at vintage fairs like Newark and Lincoln and itching to ditch my husband's extensive collection of black ash furniture from his student days and decorate our first flat together.  And it definitely needed decorating.  We bought it from a slightly eccentric older lady who lived there alone.  It was a one bed flat but, when looking around, she cheerfully informed us that her guests never minded sleeping down in the cellar on a campbed. Am not sure if her guests were escapees of Joseph Fritzl who were just glad she left the door unlocked but we always found ours preferred the sofa instead.  We put a new kitchen and bathroom in, spruced up the garden and gave thanks every day that we woke up and the flat hadn't been burnt down by a fire started by the pottery kiln of Julie, our elderly upstairs neighbour who was constantly churning out ceramics that looked like the private parts of a Giraffe (think Ghost but with Demi Moore's Grandma playing the lead role....).  Bar an incident where we woke up one morning to discover a human poo and some some soiled trousers on our doorstep (my brother-in-law who was staying with us at the time still denies being the 'Doorstep Shitter'), we had a very happy 3 years in the flat.   In 2009, we found out we were expecting our first son so started looking to swap the flat for a house.

 This is the kind of house I had in my head when we started looking

This is the kind of house I had in my head when we started looking

 Nantucket tastes with a Nandos budget.......

Nantucket tastes with a Nandos budget.......

In 2009, we found out we were expecting our first son so started looking to swap the flat for a house. With Balham by then having upgraded its Budgens to a Waitrose and sightings of people wearing red trousers and boat shoes having been reported, it quickly became apparent that houses in SW12 were out of our price range.  I started to read the Homes & Property section of the Evening Standard as avidly as a teenage boy did Zoo or Nuts magazine and eventually alighted upon the area of Winchmore Hill.  A place which approximately 1 in 372,089 Londoners have actually ever heard of.  I would like to say that we came on extensive field trips to assess the area, honed it down to a few preferred streets and made close links with local estate agents.  The truth is I popped over there once for a cup of tea with a friend  and strayed no further than 50 metres from the station. We then came back one Sunday together and bought the first house we saw. 

 Cherry blossom on the Green (and a phone box that smells like the inside of a tramps's underpants).

Cherry blossom on the Green (and a phone box that smells like the inside of a tramps's underpants).

 The Kings Head Pub, the Beverly Hills of N21 on a Saturday night.

The Kings Head Pub, the Beverly Hills of N21 on a Saturday night.

 Sadly this beauty is not our house which is a few notches down when it comes to kerb appeal.

Sadly this beauty is not our house which is a few notches down when it comes to kerb appeal.

I think what helped us to make such a quick decision (apart from the fact there was a baby imminently about to come out of my vagina) was the fact that the house had period features, 4 really big bedrooms (some others we had looked at would have been considered cramped even by a hamster), and a large garden.  It did have a slightly dated kitchen and a conservatory on the back that looked like it had been nicked off the set of Brookside, but we figured we would sort those out in due course.  Well, in truth I figured that.  Mr Malmo would probably still be happily catching the sun in Sinbad's suntrap being slightly more renovation averse/sensible than I am. After several twists and turns along the way, we finally got the keys three weeks before the baby was due.  Six years, three kids and two sets of builders later, it no longer looks quite as much like a filming location for Brookside (unless Sinbad has developed a taste for modern architecture after watching a few episodes of Grand Designs).  Tune into future blogposts to find out more about our renovation journey (to borrow a phrase from X factor) and the results. 

 Sinbad's Suntrap is no more

Sinbad's Suntrap is no more

 Goodbye conservatory hello cantilevered corner

Goodbye conservatory hello cantilevered corner

 I got the fridge of my dreams, let's gloss over the fact that it only has capacity for 2.5 fish finegrs at any one time

I got the fridge of my dreams, let's gloss over the fact that it only has capacity for 2.5 fish finegrs at any one time

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 Copper pipe taps, causing builders to roll their eyes since 2012.....

Copper pipe taps, causing builders to roll their eyes since 2012.....