Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Autumn shuffle

I find I get an urge in autumn - as I do in spring - to rearrange.  Not to 'spring clean' - that urge has never come to me in spring, never mind in autumn. More to refresh the house by moving stuff around, clear out bits that are no longer required, and bring in new pieces that breathe fresh life and verve to our surroundings.

I also tend to get a creative 'spurt' around this time of the year, however this year I was starting to think that it may not happen.  My creative mojo took a severe battering for the larger part of this year, and was pretty much nonexistent as we dealt with Dad's rapidly deteriorating health and mourned his passing, but I seem to be rediscovering my desire to create, which is both a huge relief and a delight to me.  I feared that my artistic bent may have taken a permanent knock, however these last few weeks I've had a real urge to make things, possibly tied in with the changing of the seasons, and the odd thing that I've created has turned out pretty well, to my relief.  I'm quietly optimistic that my craving to create may be here to stay…

So I've been acting on my impulses - I've had a good clear out, sending bags of stuff to local charity shops.  I have to be careful when I do this - on more than one occasion I've spied a lovely new treasure for our home, only to realise it's the same one I dropped off at the charity shop a week or so ago.  Luckily I don't think I've ever got to the point of buying it!  I've had a rearrange, primarily of the artwork in the house.  And I've created a number of new items for our home, which I'm really pleased with.

Newly framed prints in our bathroom.
Clockwise from top left: Jane Foster flower print; Frank Meadow Sutcliffe print surrounded by Orla Kiely;
Rachel J Powell postcard backed onto a snippet of wrapping paper; vintage Mr Men & Little Misses poster.
All photos (c) Comfy Marmalade 2017

One of the best things I've done recently is a project to exchange our black picture frames for lighter, wooden ones, and the plainer the better - no bevelling or texture.  The results have, for me, been dramatic.  In our hallway, for example, we have a number of pictures that were all housed in black frames.  Changing them for wooden ones has really lightened the space - it feels much brighter and warmer, and the new frames show off the artwork much more effectively too.

I know this sounds costly (we have a lot of stuff on our walls!) but so far it's been a really inexpensive process, primarily because I'm such a bargain hunter.  I found some budget-friendly real wood frames in one of our local independent discount stores; they cost no more than £2 each for an A4 size or a 30cmx40cm one, and are surprisingly good quality.  I also discovered a number of Ikea Ribba frames and the like for no more than £2 or £3 each in charity shops. This is a really good, cheap way of getting hold of good quality picture frames - ignore what a frame contains as you can bin that (or, better still, return it to the charity shop so that they can sell it on unframed).  The frames look fantastic and have given areas of our home a lighter, Scandinavian-inspired mood, which is just what I was hoping for.

I've yet to make a start in the dining room - we have some big prints in there so I suspect I'll need to take a deep breath and splash the cash a little to replace them! - but I've pretty much completed our bedroom, hall, bathroom and landing.  What do you think?

Another Jane Foster print, which lives on our landing 

The bathroom in all its glory

Our bedroom

On the odd occasion, I've learnt that a wooden frame isn't necessarily the right way to go. I had this Camila Prada postcard in a wooden frame, but I felt that the yellow background was clashing with the wooden surround, so I tried a grey frame from B&M Bargains which cost £1.99 - I think it looks a lot better and really allows the cute bunny to shine.

Camila Prada bunny postcard - the grey frame looks much better than the wooden one

Sometimes, just moving items around can give a room a whole new feel.  In our bedroom, I've rearranged the items on our fireplace and am very happy with the way they complement each other.

The fireplace in our bedroom - orange-tastic

It has a real retro, 1970s feel at the moment

The candlesticks and retro-style box frame are both charity shop finds, the penguin is a beloved childhood toy of mine, the fox was £1 from a local gift shop, and the Orla Kiely toiletries were a surprise gift from someone who snaffled them from a hotel recently!

I've also rearranged and reframed some the pictures in our bedroom.  For ages I had a display of lino prints I'd made in a workshop (all in black frames) opposite our bed. I've kept one of the prints in display, re-housing it in a wood frame; it is accompanied by (left to right) a postcard from Paperchase, some embroidery art from Tess Allan, picked up at the Alnmouth Arts Festival in Northumberland one year, and a simple but effective print by Caroline Rose Art.

The prints opposite our bed - the view I wake up to every morning!

Clockwise from top left:
my own lino print that I designed and created; a Caroline Rose Art print;
a piece of embroidery by Tess Allan, and a postcard from Paperchase.
All photos (c) Comfy Marmalade 2017

I've finally found a frame for this fantastic, folksy Scandinavian print by one of my favourite artists, Jane Foster

One of my favourite prints at the moment

… and I've moved my floral oil painting next to our wardrobe and clashed / complemented it (depending on your point of view!) with this vintage Stonehenge Midwinter 'Flowersong' plate.

Despite being from wildly different eras, I think these two look great together

Finally, I swapped an old, dusty and unloved lampshade for this huge, effective but inexpensive paper shade from Habitat (thanks to the Husband for putting it up, I'm not keen on ladders!).  It only cost £6 but it makes all the difference to the room and really softens the lighting in here.  I love it, wish I'd done it ages ago.

Habitat lampshade for £6! Bargain!

The whole room looks much lighter, brighter and fresher, and I'm really pleased with the simple changes I've made.

In the living room, the table the kids use for crafting and homework has a new cover. Well, it's new to the living room anyway - it used to be on our dining room table but that now has its jazzy new Dunelm oilcloth.  I think it looks much better in the living room, to be honest, and is a strong enough colour to sit next to the chairs I recovered a while ago in different materials (did I ever tell you about those?  I think I have a subject for my next post…). This orange spotty fabric was from Ikea.

Ikea oilcloth fabric used as a tablecloth, and two of my recovered chairs

The vintage phone was a lovely present from the Husband about 12 years ago

I've also rearranged the items on our hallway table, and one small change made all the difference. I've had this Paperchase postcard framed for a while but could never find the right spot for it. I tried it on this table and instantly it made sense - the colours in the card pull out all the colours of the other items and it just works. I'm really pleased, as it's the first thing you see when you come into our house.

I've had this Paperchase postcard for ages but never found the right place for it

It looks great here - the colours of the card and the frame pick up the same colours
in the lampshade, vase and crocheted apple

And as for my crafting - well, in addition to the blanket I showed you in my previous post, I've nearly completed a cushion cover for our dining room sofa.  It's similar colours to the blanket but not quite the same.

My cushion cover - work in progress

The front is now complete

I've gone for stripes on the front - each stripe comprises 3 rows, one each of double crochet, half treble crochet and treble crochet, which gives a nice, chunky texture to the work.  On the reverse I've gone for plain white, possibly a mistake with two kids and a dog….!

I'm also really, really pleased with an artwork I've made for our hallway.  It was inspired by a simple photograph in a homes magazine, which was of a set of plates piled one on top of the other.  The plates were of differing colours and the effect, as shot from above, was striking.  I thought it might translate well into a piece of art - so I gave it a go.  And it did!

Not bad for a first attempt!

The grey art paper sets off the retro-inspired offcuts from an old craft magazine

In situe - I love it!

I went for greys in the background (simple art paper I bought ages ago for a different project), and then jazzed it up by using some craft paper I'd saved from an old Mollie Makes magazine.  The frame cost £3 in a charity shop, so all in all I estimate I've created a bespoke piece of art, including frame, for around £4.  I'm so pleased with it!  Creating artwork doesn't have to be expensive, or time-consuming, or intricate and detailed.  It doesn't have to appeal to the masses, it just has to make your own heart sing, either as a creative process or as a finished result.  And this piece definitely makes my heart sing.

I've got a lot of pleasure from pottering around our house these last few weeks, swapping things around, having a good old clear out, and making a couple of bits and pieces that have re-ignited my creative fire.  I'm not quite finished yet, and I'll share any further developments here in due course!

Bye for now xx

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  1. I love those oversized paper shades. And the wooden frames with rounded edges. I've got that little fox (and a penguin, owl and another I can't remember), little stocking fillers for Joe one year from Bolthole x

  2. I love Bolthole, it's a cracking little shop. I've just checked on the Habitat website and the paper shade has 25% off, so it's only £4.50 at the moment! Xx