Monday, 13 March 2017

Thinking outside the home décor box

I've probably mentioned before that I don't tend to conform to norms, trends or eras when furnishing our home.  I just can't - I find it stifles my creativity and besides, there's too much fun to be had!  I don't like to be restricted to one style or one colour scheme, and I don't like 'matching' items - cushions, crockery, sets of pictures… they just don't sit well with me.

What I do like is to use a bit of imagination, colour and creativity to produce individual and unique items that bring a smile to my face and to the faces of our visitors.  I enjoy working with different materials, textures and formats to create something completely new.  I love clashing eras, colours and styles and seeing what new combinations I can produce, what works and what doesn't.  And I really enjoy finding new treasures and keepsakes for our home that don't cost the earth but that can be utilised for a purpose that is far removed from what they were originally meant to be used for.

You don't have to summon up a huge amount of creativity, or have a variety of crafty skills to hand, in order to re-imagine how an item could be used in your home.  Often, in fact, you don't have to make any actual alterations at all - sometimes just re-thinking how an item might work for you is enough.

As an example, I bought this Ikea napkin holder at a local charity shop recently for pennies.  I love its retro shape and the sunny yellow colour.
This napkin holder from Ikea has been given another purpose in our house

However, we don't have a need for a napkin holder, as we don’t tend to use napkins (we have a canine hoover instead).  So I've given it another purpose.  Instead of holding napkins, it sits on a small chest of drawers in our dining room and holds paperwork.  You know the kind of thing - reward vouchers from supermarkets, invitations the Girl and Boy have received for parties, instruction cards for plants (which I need to keep if the plants are to stand any chance of survival in our house - I am a self-confessed horticultural serial killer).

Our 'letter rack' sits alongside a small vase I picked up from a charity shop, an owl I crocheted,
a small wooden penguin and an orchid I'm in the process of killing...

It looks good, and it holds all the scrappy bits of paper in one place.  Functional and fun, just how I like it.

How about using a toothbrush holder as a container for pens?  This Orla Kiely toothbrush holder was bought recently from TK Maxx.

Orla Kiely beaker, originally designed to be used as a toothbrush holder,
repurposed in our house to hold pens and pencils

It's ceramic and I daren't use it in our bathroom for fear of it slipping off the side of the sink and cracking the basin (and probably smashing the container to pieces at the same time). Instead, I use it to hold my pens and pencil on my bedside table, so that I can mark off items and articles to return to when I'm browsing through a magazine last thing at night.  It looks really good on my bedside table alongside a retro-inspired alarm clock and a vintage cut glass lamp.  The lamp sits on a large coaster that I crocheted precisely for this purpose using my own design and colour choices, to give a bit of a colour pop to the table.

It won't surprise you to know that our toothbrushes aren't kept in toothbrush holders at all - we keep them in a couple of Orla Kiely melamine drinking beakers (of course we do).

Orla Kiely melamine beakers, meant for drinking, used as toothbrush holders

The beakers are brilliant because if they fall (which they do, regularly, with a 5-year old in the house), they bounce on the ceramic basin rather than causing any damage.

Going back to clashing eras together, there's a really good example of this in the bathroom.  Years ago I was introduced to the work of Frank Meadow Sutcliffe.  If you do an online search, you'll discover that he was a trailblazing Victorian photographer who recorded life primarily in Whitby, a fishing port on the east coast of England.  A lot of his photography focused on the hustle and bustle of this busy seaport town, but he also took some astonishing photographs of the people who made the town live and breathe.  Look him up - his work is amazing.  My favourite photograph of his is this one, called 'Stern Reality'.

'Stern Reality', my favourite photograph by Victorian photographer, Frank Meadow Sutcliffe

As you can see, it features a group of young boys craning their necks over a low wall to view the activity on the other side.  I love that I have no idea what they're looking at - I like to think it's a sea wall and they're watching the men hard at work on the boats below.  I love the composition of it.  I love that you can't see their faces.  I love that it encourages you to use your imagination.

I purchased a print of this particular photograph years ago from the Frank MeadowSutcliffe gallery in Whitby, and framed it a couple of years ago.  The print is sepia and as such it was getting lost in our house full of colour.  So I decided to jazz it up a bit.  I tried various patterns and colours until I found a design that clashed beautifully with it.  The design I decided to go with is from my old favourite, Orla Kiely; probably her most famous design, as it goes.

Old and new clash happily in our bathroom

I used a sheet of her wrapping paper which, completely coincidentally, I happened to buy from a gift shop in Whitby some years after purchasing the print - spooky!

I found a cardboard mount for the photograph at The Range, and covered it in the wrapping paper.  Once I'd ensured that the design of the wrapping paper was in line with the mount (to avoid a wonky finish) I stuck it to the mount with a glue stick, being careful to smooth out any air bubbles or wrinkles, and carefully folding the paper around the edges and securing it on the back to give a neat edge.  Once the paper was stuck to the card I sat it on a table right side down, so that I could see the rectangular hole in the middle where the photograph would sit.  I drew a line from each of the diagonal corners of the hole to make a X on the paper and very carefully cut down these lines.  I then folded each of the four triangular flaps I had created back around the mount, snipped off the excess paper to leave an inch long section and glued it to the mount.

The colours in the wrapping paper complement the colours of our towels,
although this was a happy coincidence rather than anything planned

The photograph now really stands out in our bathroom - I think the Victorian photo and modern pattern on the mount look fantastic next to each other, although by rights they shouldn't.  They clash happily and bring together two eras which really shouldn't work side by side.  The colours in the wrapping paper also complement the towels that sit on our vintage towel rail below it.

In the dining room, our fruit bowl didn't start off life as a fruit bowl.  It's actually a vintage Pyrex dish (minus any lid).

Pyrex casserole dish, reused as a fruit bowl

It was a charity shop find (surprise, surprise - I do purchase new and full price items from time to time, but not very often!).  It's right up my street - retro, funkily floral patterned, orange in colour against the pure white background, and - as a bonus - cheap as chips.

The orange colours in our biscuit tin sit fantastically well next to the Pyrex 'fruit bowl'

It fits our bananas in it perfectly, and looks right at home on our dresser surrounded by similarly patterned treasures.  There's a pen holder on the dresser too, although it started out life as - you guessed it - a toothbrush holder, this time from Asda!

Toothbrush holder from Asda used as a pen holder in our dining room

Our home is fun, colourful, creative, busy and a little bit crazy.  A bit like us.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Bye for now xxx

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