How to add character to a new build.

I’ve always been drawn to older houses,  I was lucky enough to grow up in a Victorian  house and now occupy a 1930’s semi. Both houses had/have a number of interesting period features, think fireplaces, ceiling roses, stained glass, original doors, storm porches and staircases. These much sought after features not only score highly on the character scale, but unfortunately they also bump up the asking price.

cottage mikes photos.jpg

More character than you can shake a stick at. Photo from Pexels



Vintage 1930’s fireplace and traditional dedo rail in our current lounge.

In the current climate, finding a house with the ever elusive character which isn’t buried under 2 inches of shag pile carpet, cat wee and wood chip wallpaper and quaintly labelled a ‘doer upper’ can be a hard task. Many people, particularly first time buyers are priced out of the market and so a new build can be an affordable alternative.

For others a new build offers a blank slate and also peace of mind or less hassle in terms of DIY. I totally get the appeal of moving in somewhere that ‘doesn’t need anything doing’. Although I’m pretty sure I could generate a DIY to do list as long as my arm almost straight away (much to my husband’s dismay), even in the most polished of homes. My youngest sister and her boyfriend are currently in the process of buying a new build in Oxfordshire and asked me for some interiors advice. That got me thinking about styling a new build which is something I’ve not done before (although I have hypothetically styled quite a few rightmove properties in my time). So for anyone who wants to turn their new home blank canvas into a work of art, I’ve put together a list of 6 top tips:


Make an entrance!

More often than not newer properties are on an estate with other houses built by the same developer, in a very similar if not identical style. Make your property stand out by changing up the front door, so it’s different from the others. You could go for a completely different style or simply give the existing door a lick of paint (perhaps in a bright colour if you like to make a statement).

Bright doors

  If you’re a fan of pink, check out the front door of Pink House blog founder Emily Murray ( You’ve guessed it her door is in a delicious shade of pink – Nancy’s blushes by Farrow and Ball to be precise. It’s fun and stylish and makes your home unique. If you’ve not got the funds to replace a door, paint is a great way to add character and FYI it is possible to paint upvc!

New hardware (think door bling not computer geek) is another way of adding character & your own style.  There are some great vintage knockers (snigger) and handles out there that you can salvage and also an extensive range online. I particularly love the brass bee door knocker by Period Features as shown below (click picture for link). The front door is the first impression people will get of your home – make it count!

brass bee

Period Features brass bee door knocker


Create a focal point in every room.

 Each room should have a focus, or centrepiece if you will. Usually in older properties this would be created by highlighting those sought after architectural features such as fireplaces, beams or high ceilings. But a new build offers an exciting  blank canvas in which you can create your own. Wallpaper is a fabulous way of achieving this and you can often get away with bolder, more modern prints in newer homes than period properties. Although I like to mix it up by putting these in older houses too.*

*Note: Depending on building methods, you may need to wait a year before wallpapering or painting the walls in a new build to allow for shrinkage.

wallpaper dan gold unsplash

Loving this on trend tropical print & note the wooden wall cladding.

rhubarb wallpaper2

Our fabulous rhubarb wallpaper creating a feature in the dining room extension. Instagram: @decor.junkie

  Also, why not wallpaper the whole room to create a real wow factor rather than just the one wall? Or how about wallpapering the ceiling for a more dramatic, but cost effective statement? If you’re on a tight budget try ebay where you can often pick up excess rolls of designer wallpaper for a lower price or even some vintage prints.

  Another option, is to add in some of the missing architectural features such as fire surrounds, ceiling roses and cornices. This can add interest and make rooms less of a blank box, although less is probably more if you don’t want your place to look gaudy. Try the reproduction plaster company for a variety of different options (

  The focal point doesn’t necessarily have to be a permanent fixture, it could be a statement piece of furniture or accessory. For example a velvet sofa in a bold bright, a glamourous headboard, a dramatic mirror or a glass/metal chandelier.

mobile pendant west elm

Instant glamour; Mobile pendant from West Elm.

funky chair anthropologie moresque

Loving this bold print on the Anthropologie Moresque chair.











tivoli sofa indigo swoon

Add wow factor with bold brights,  Tivoli sofa from Swoon Editions.

runner rug

How about a rainbow runner? This colourful Ourika rug is from La Redoute. Instagram: @decor.junkie


Add a splash of colour. 

Paint is the easiest and quickest way to add some personality to your home. Not being shy of a paintbrush or a bold colour palette myself, I can often be found adding a lick of paint to walls or furniture around our house. Although I usually end up with more paint on me than the actual walls, so it’s usually best to get the professionals in. Plus you don’t want to have to redo the painting in a hurry.

Blue feature wall Pixabay

The accessories & white sofa really pop against this dramatic blue background.

If you’re colour shy, test out colours on a large piece of lining paper first and move it round the room in different light to see what it would look like. There are a number of different types of colour schemes, which I will be going into in more detail in another post. But for a starting point I always think it’s best to find a print or a pattern or an image that you really love and use that as the basis for your colour scheme. Perhaps a cushion or a rug, or have a snoop around Pinterest for some ‘Pinspiration’.

If you’re still waiting for the walls to dry out before decorating, probably the biggest colour impact you can make is with a large rug. Although it’s worth considering your overall colour scheme and whether the rug will fit in with that later on if you decide to paint the walls.


Let your Artwork do the talking

A brilliant way of putting your stamp on a property of any era is through your choice of artwork. If you have a blank wall – fill it!

whatever wall art.jpg

Create impact with art, whatever your style. Photo by Mike Marquez on Unsplash

 You can choose pieces that are personal to you and your family or just quirky pieces you like. If you’re on a tight budget you could even frame postcards, book covers, album covers or find free prints online. If you’re creating a gallery wall, either keep all the frames the same colour or link the pictures together through a similar colour scheme. Scandinavian style posters are bang on trend at the moment and there are a number of websites that have a great choice of prints and pictures (try Desenio or King & McGaw).

 Another fantastic way of curating unique, contemporary artwork is by purchasing Instagram pictures through Post Collective. They’ve made exclusive works of art affordable by turning photographer’s and influencer’s photos into art prints, which I think is such a great idea. Go and take a look …

 When fixing heavier frames or mirrors to plasterboard walls, try to find the timber studs to screw into to ensure that they don’t fall off! For full length mirrors, you could consider leaning them against the wall instead of hanging (ensuring that they are fixed at the top and there’s no danger of falling on little people).

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Modern gallery wall; similar frames and a coordinated colour scheme. Photo by Jonny Caspari on Unsplash


Fixtures & Fittings

plug socket

Chances are if you’ve bought a new build, the fixtures & fittings may already be in or you may not have thought about changing them. But this is one simple way of upping the style stakes in your home. For a high end luxe feel Buster and Punch have a fantastic range of metallic toggle switches ( Admittedly they’re a bit pricey, but they practically scream style. I’m also partial to an industrial socket or two ( which can be picked up at a much lower price tag. Although it might not seem like these additions have much of an impact, they can really complete a look & change the feel of a room.


Instant greens.

flower decor

Although not always a permanent fixture, this is a very affordable, quick and easy way of brightening up your home. Try charity shops for a selection of vintage, ceramic and different coloured glass vases, they are usually a treasure trove for this sort of thing.

plants mike marquez.jpg

A selection of plants and planters.

So there you have it my 6 top tips for styling up your new home. If you or anyone you know is wanting to banish the beige, try out some of the above and your home will be bursting with character before you know it.






Creating your own natural Christmas wreath.

IMG_6478Now Christmas might only be 13 days away, but it’s never too late to add a little more festive jazz to your front door (if you haven’t already). While there are some amazingly creative wreaths out there, think brightly coloured baubles, painted feathers & pompoms. I must admit to preferring those that are a little more rustic and show off nature’s bounty at this time of year.

I’ve wanted to create my own wreath for several years, but it’s one of those things that I’d never got around to doing or thought I’d left it too late and instead just admired friend’s and neighbour’s ones from afar. I did toy with the idea of signing up for a workshop, but decided to save myself the £30/£40 and make one myself. I may well indulge for next year, as florists are always going to have a good selection of flora & some good tips to make an interesting wreath. But if you’re prepared to dry some flowers or pick up a few extra bits, yours could be just as jazzy and if you invest in a good willow/wire ring you can reuse it year after year without needing to pay anyone else a penny.

The hunt for a wreath ring turned out to be the hardest part, I knew I didn’t want an Oasis one (that nasty green plastic foam stuff that crumbles when you look at it & makes you itchy). But that’s all the local florists seem to stock. I managed to find a wicker one online at Wilko (click picture for link), but they didn’t have it in my local store.wicker wreath

When asking around, a friend suggested a just make one with bendy twine, so that’s exactly what I did …

Luckily for you, I also remembered to take pictures, so here’s my easy step by step guide:

What you will need:

  • A pair of scissors or secateurs
  • (Optional) An accompanying friend, dog or toddler
  • A bag or a basket to carry home your flora
  • Garden gloves (to protect your hands from spiky stuff)
  • Selection of evergreen cuttings
  • A few bendy stems or twigs (or a willow/wire wreath)
  • String &/or floristry wire
  • Ribbon
  • Christmas wreath door hanger
  • Cup of tea & a mince pie, optional.


  1. Find a friend to go foraging with and head out into your local neighbourhood, park or garden to hunt down some green stuff. Don’t forget a bag or basket to put your natural decorations in, secateurs and garden gloves. look out for bendy branches/twine if making your own ring. Here’s some of our final haul:wreath greenery
  2.  Find some bendy branches or twine. I used these green stems cut from our winter flowering Jasmine plant in the garden. Bend to form a circle and tie with pieces of string or florist wire (I didn’t have any florist wire initially so used small pieces of string). IMG_6431
  3. Take extra stems and weave them in and out of the circle you have made. Securing in place where necessary, but once you’ve weaved a few you’ll find they’ll secure themselves. Take a sip of tea and a bite of mince pie. Trim off any ends sticking out. IMG_6438
  4. Start layering your greenery on top of the wreath to see what works together. I used conifer as a base all the way around and then layered a few different textured and coloured evergreens around the circle. If you have some spare christmas tree trimmings, you could use that to make it more ‘bushy’. At this stage I was attempting to use unfolded paper clips to attach the branches as I didn’t have any floristry wire, this worked ok, but didn’t look great. luckily a quick trip to a friend’s house solved that (thanks Chella!). I didn’t fasten the branches too tightly as I wanted a few bits trailing to give a rustic feel. Continue drinking tea & eating mince pie …IMG_6441IMG_6446
  5. Add the final flourishes, or rearrange if you’re not happy with it. For a simple, but effective wreath, try and keep the colour scheme to one or two colours, in addition to the green. IMG_6464
  6. Add a sprig or two of holly and a ribbon and hang your wreath on the front door using a wreath hanger (or you could use a long ribbon). I cut a triangle out the ends of the ribbon to add a bit more detail, but it also looks good without.IMG_6466IMG_6481IMG_6484


So there you have it a simple yet effective Christmas wreath for next to nothing! It could also easily be done in a couple of hours. I’m quite proud of it for a first attempt and already have some ideas for next year …

Stylish toy storage

Apologies for my absence of late, I discovered the world of instagram (@decor.junkie – come say hi!) and also have a toddler who decided to stop napping (nooooo!), well actually he temporarily stopped napping and now we’re back to every few days, which is better than nothing.

While he’s asleep is the perfect time to try and sort his toys, because otherwise he decides he can’t live without that annoying musical toy that he hasn’t played with in 9 months and you just can’t get rid of anything or tidy up.

As much as you try to only buy nice wholesome wooden toys, it’s inevitable that some brightly coloured plastic crap (usually with lots of buttons and irritating noises) will find it’s way into your home. So my solution is to find stylish ways of storing toys away when not being used. Below I’m going to list some of my fave storage solutions for said plastic crap.

Obviously a toy box is a good place to start. Argos have some fairly reasonably priced ones, including a plain pine one that you can easily paint or customise yourself. I went with a white one from Sue Ryder online as it was a bit smaller than some of the others I’d seen and had a soft close lid (avoiding squashing small fingers!). It cost us £49.99, but is now on sale for £39.99 with 10% off for new orders. Click photos for link.



argos toy box


Baskets are pretty much everywhere at the moment and there are some really pretty ones about. They are such an easy way to tidy things away, as you can just bung everything straight inside. The down side being that it takes literally 2 seconds for the toddler to tip it all out again. I’m a little in love with Oli Ella baskets, they have some gorgeous designs and I will definitely be adding a few of their styles to my collection. See my favourites below. Belly baskets are also cheap and simple option (Ikea have some for £9, although make sure they’re in stock before you drive an hour to your local store to get some like we did!). I’m also loving all the grey and felt storage baskets around at the moment, like the one below from John Lewis.


felt basket

Vintage storage solutions are a good one, as they add heaps of character, can usually be found cheaply second hand and are pretty good on the environment front. I love the old steamer trunks that have plenty of space and can even be used as coffee tables. However, they can be quite hefty and take up a fair bit of space, so something to be aware of. I’m keeping my eye out for a reasonably sized vintage leather suitcase as I think it would make a great home for the wooden train track and train paraphernalia we’ve accumulated.

vintage leather suitcase

Metal trunks are a great way of adding an industrial vibe with tons of storage. I’ve already bought one metal trunk and went with this one from Habitat, which cost £40.00, but I’m thinking about getting another larger one to stack underneath. They’re quite hardy and will stand up to a fair bit of bashing from kids, also a few dents and scratches won’t look too amiss and will only add to the industrial look. I’ve found that the clasp on this one generally flips in the way if you knock the lid down. But trapped fingers could be an issue with other styles, so might be one for older kids!

habitat trunk

trunk laredoute







Other toy storage options include stacking boxes, crates and lidded bamboo or seagrass chests.

I particularly like this ‘Mr bear’ pull along crate from Great Little Trading Company (£40),   bamboo lidded storage from Habitat (from £30) and wooden stacking crates (£30 GLTC).


book cart



habitat bamboo cheststacking box


Anyone else have any ingenious solutions for hiding away the toys? I’d love to know …




Thrifty Challenge

So it’s been a while since I’ve posted, not for lack of motivation, but time to myself has been pretty limited. Today I decided to set myself a challenge while out shopping. With a £5 budget I had to find a second-hand bargain for the house from one of the local charity shops. I love browsing charity shops, you never know what treasures you might find. Not only is it good for your wallet, it helps create funds for charities and there is the added bonus of being good for the planet, reducing demand for newly manufactured goods by reusing those already in circulation.

A few months ago I picked up a complete vintage tea set for only £3.99 and I’m pleased to say today’s challenge was equally as successful, with 2 items purchased for under £5 and the change even went in the donations pot!

I browsed a few shops before settling on my final purchases, with a lace curtain and art deco vase nearly making the cut. But in the end I settled for an Aztec style table mat and peacock decorated jewellery bowl. As you can see below the new additions are already making themselves at home.

Key Interior Design Trends for 2016

  • Mixing old and new: I’ve always been a fan of mixing old and new – because you get the best of both worlds! Classic, timeless pieces can blend effortlessly amongst modern styles and technology. With the recent minimalist trend, certain interiors can risk becoming bland and sterile, but with the addition of vintage or retro pieces, you can inject character into a room. I for one am very happy to see this trend gaining popularity.


Source: Bloglovin

  • Adding the personal touch: Demand for bespoke and artisan interiors products has soared in recent years. Everyone wants something that sets their home apart. Handmade items are often perceived to hold greater value than the mass produced. They also provide a connection to the maker, add a storytelling aspect to the design process and give more value for money. The increased interaction between consumers and designers enables more customisation of products, creating unique pieces. This is an exciting trend that many retailers could use to their advantage. Daniel Hopwood, president of British Institute of Interior Design (, says: ‘The recent up-cycling craze, is about to become more sophisticated. ‘This year is about taking the shop bought product and customising it to add character and personality or finding the craftsmen or artist to create the bespoke.’

artisan products

Source: Decorator’s notebook

  • High Contrast: This trend draws parallels with the mix of old and new. Creating a contrast of styles or textures creates interest and adds depth to a room scheme. I think this trend will most prominently be seen in kitchen design with a move away from plain white and cream gloss units and shift towards a mix of monochrome cupboards as well as contrasting the plain gloss units with more interesting and warming wooden cupboards.

high contrast

Source: Hitta hem

  • Graphic Tiles: Geometric prints have been making a statement in kitchens and bathrooms throughout 2015 and this trend looks set to continue. These bold prints and patterns can be used to jazz up walls and floors, while giving a modern edge.

geometric tile

Source: Mckimm

  • Brightly patterned fabrics: Vibrant fabrics with an Asian and South American influence are likely to be big this year. With the Olympics in Rio this year, Brazilian colour influences and exotic motifs are likely to be seen across fabrics and textiles.

    Philippa Prinsloo, design manager for John Lewis Home, says Brazilian themes will be big. ‘Brazilian brings out vibrant greens that celebrates the more exotic flora and fauna of jungle and the Forest,’ she said. ‘The bright colours help to accessorise a space and do so with a bit of wild abandon.’ Brightly coloured patterned fabrics can add warmth to a room and are a great way of adding style that can be easily changed.

brazilian prints

Source: Elledecoration

  • Statement lighting: Lighting is a big trend at the moment and an excellent way to creature a feature in a room without too much disruption. We’ve seen the growth of pendant lights, especially in kitchens and above breakfast bars, as seen here. This is likely to continue with more statement lighting making it’s way into other rooms.


Source: West elm

  • Metallics: Metallics have been on trend for a while, with copper taking centre stage. With more 70’s influences appearing, a shift towards brass and gold accents looks likely. From appliances, to hardware to light fixtures, warmer metals will be adding interest, style and glamour to interiors in 2016.

gold accents

Source: decorpad

  • Calm, soft tone colours: This year’s Panetone colours (Rose Quartz & Serenity) provide a calming colour palette; with some predicting the soft dusky pink will become a staple neutral. These colours, reminiscent of the 1950’s work well with retro and mid century looks.


Source: Bloglovin

  • More eclectic kitchens: Kitchens are likely to lean towards a more lived in look in 2016. This makes sense with kitchens being the heart of the home. The move away from stark, single colour units and the introduction of contrasting units as well as natural elements, continues this trend. Open wooden shelving can help to achieve this vibe, with mismatched ceramics and crockery on display and easy to access.

eclectic kitchen3

Source: gofeminin

  • Statement bathroom mirrors: 2016 will see the introduction of luxe, high impact bathroom mirrors in place of medicinal mirrored cabinets. This is a fantastic opportunity to add glamour to your bathroom. It can also help maximise space in what can often be a small room by reflecting light at the same time as creating a focal point.

statement bathroom 2

Source: Apartmenttherapy

I’ve just picked a few of the key trends likely to be gracing interiors over the next 12 months, there are many more which may or may not take off.

It will be interesting to check back in later in the year to see which trends have made most impact and if any unpredicted trends surface. While it is important to be aware of the changing trends, it doesn’t mean you should be remodelling your entire house based on them. You may like to pick and choose according to your preferred style or you may not follow trends at all, but prefer more timeless decor.

Either way I’d love to know if you have incorporated any of these key trends in your interiors, whether it was deliberate or pure coincidence …

Getting Organised!


Life with a baby can leave you with little time for yourself and things can easily get on top of you (hence the gap between blog posts). I’m trying to stay organised, so that when my little one is awake I can spend all most of my time and attention on him instead of being distracted.

When you’re at home all those organisational jobs that need to be done end up staring you in the face and it can be quite very frustrating when you don’t get a chance to sort things out.

Little time savers or ways of organising the home can make a big difference, they can help clear your mind and give you a positive outlook. This week I’m feeling motivated to get organised. I don’t know whether it’s the winter weather or the start of a new year, but its definitely time to channel my inner teacher and get out the charts, spreadsheets and stationery.

There are a few elements of daily life that I’m trying to organise, one being the weekly food plan. It’s become the bane of my life (First world problems, I know!) We get a weekly box of fruit and veg delivered, which changes by season, so we try and plan our meals around that and buy the few extras that we need. Although it takes time to devise a weekly menu and shop for the extras, it saves us spending a small fortune at the corner shop. It also saves me time prepping and making dinner as I know exactly what’s on the menu.

Whilst it will be an ongoing project I have found some planner templates below, which are a good place to start. Pinterest is also a very useful resource bank.

Having somewhere to write the meal plan and then clearly display it, helps me and my husband to know what meals are coming up and what needs preparing. It seems to be working well so far and I’ve even spied friends that have come over checking out the menu to see which night they’d most like to come to dinner!


At the moment our meal plan is displayed on the pillar in the kitchen using a clipboard, but below are some other interesting ways you could display yours. I’m thinking I might try a magnetic photo frame on the fridge next …



Source: thenest, carlaaston, vintageglamourous, pinterest


Under the glass dome

Autumn is upon us and it’s a time for change. For months I’ve been staring at the glass dome in our kitchen-diner thinking I could be much more creative with it’s display, but couldn’t think of anything outside the obvious. It’s currently used to display a bird ornament and while it looks cute, I feel it could be much more striking. I was hoping an amazing idea would spontaneously appear, but no such luck, so I’ve decided to search for inspiration.

Originating from 17th century Italy, the glass cloche was used to protect plants from frost, whilst acting like a miniature greenhouse. The idea soon caught on and spread across gardens in Europe. Today they have moved indoors and become an interesting way to display flowers, books, crockery and other objets d’art. They can be a great way of adding personality or creating a seasonal display within your home and many retail spaces also use them to display their wares. They obviously lend themselves to the kitchen for food storing purposes, but don’t be limited by practicality; they really can be used anywhere.

The displays I’ve been drawn to range in style from intricately beautiful and kitsch, to traditional and more natural. I also love the idea of changing them with the seasons. So to coincide with the arrival of Autumn, I’ve included some creative Autumnal displays. There are so many interesting ones I haven’t yet decided which is my favourite, but I hope to try out several of them!

I hope you like some of the ideas below and I’ll be back with an update when I’ve found one that suits my style.

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Source: toy carsdeutinkamer, mediacache, cotton reels, dilcdn, rootedintime, bymildred, finehomedisplays, rowenandwren, lifechilli, forodecoracion, decouvrirdesign, juxtapoz, raisingmissmatilda, notonthehighstreet, white-living, theloopyewe, bhg, davidstarksketchbook, designsoda