When it comes to clothing I am a big believer that everyone has that one “go to” garment that is their weak spot. Mine, in case your wondering, is jackets! Whether I am scanning the Zara sale, perusing the vintage shops in London or flicking through the next seasons looks on Pinterest, jackets are the first thing I go to.
As I sit here en route to the capital I thought it’s the perfect time to pop my headphones in, block out that screaming child at the end of the carriage and tell you all about my trip to the Scottish capital. Last weekend my other half and I travelled with my parents to Edinburgh to help them celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. They used to take my brother and I frequently as children so it seemed the perfect location. So here is my round up of the places we visited and the exquisite interiors of our hotel, The George.We travelled by train from York on Saturday morning which is a lovely route along the east coast with sights of Lindisfarne and sandy beaches while sipping a celebratory glass of prosecco. This now seems a distant memory compared to my current journey trapped in a corner table seat, clutching my disposable Yorkshire Tea paper cup and fighting for leg room with the man opposite! I can practically hear my Dad saying ‘You should of booked first class’ – I must admit there were no screamers in first! We arrived at just before 11am and went straight to drop our bags at the hotel before heading out for a wander around the city. With Anthropologie just a hundred yards from the hotel it would seem rude (and silly) not to take advantage of their 20% off offer, so with my two Lou Rota plates in the bag we headed for lunch. We found a little tea room on Frederick Street called eteaket Tea Room which was a little underground (well street level) haven from the hustle and bustle of busy George Street. With a beautiful selection of sandwiches, salads and cake not to mention an endless list of teas, (the Royal Earl Grey was amazing.) we were soon refuelled for our walk up to the castle.
As we walked the Royal Mile to the castle we joined the masses looking down on the cityscape of Edinburgh below, we decided to head for Holyroodhouse at the opposite end of the Royal mile. This is the official, and principal residence of the Queen when in Scotland for the summer. Photography was not allowed unfortunately, but I managed to get a couple of snaps before I was told! The Palace is adorned with panelled walls and heavily carved ceilings, which with many of the old houses has not had any redecoration for decades showing no insight into the modern Royals. From Holyrood we headed back to check in to the hotel and freshen up for dinner.
The George Hotel has recently undergone a massive renovation under the management of the Principal group. Each of their hotels have a distinct style with both the York and Manchester hotels boasting the same imposing soft grey panelled walls, however this hotel still had a highland fling theme to it. With heavily draped arched windows, tiled floor and soft lighting, the lobby and reception were stunning. The light flooded in from George Street and lit the room bouncing off the tiles and onto the dark wood furniture, highlighting the carefully placed towering palms.
We headed to our Junior Suite on the first floor which overlooked the imposing Dome restaurant opposite the hotel. Our room was gorgeous with panelled grey fabric walls and complimentary dramatic curtains, the muted tones were carried throughout the room with its grey furniture and cream upholstery in the form of two comfy armchairs and a buttoned backed loveseat.
The king-size bed, like the love seat, was festooned with heavy feather filled tartan cushions carefully selected to continue the soft grey interior theme. The only colour to this room was the post-box red telephone on the bedside table which popped against the stark white bed linen and grey walls. The bathroom was equally striking with a roll top bath, walk in shower and marble topped sink which was laden with complimentary Elemis products.
Little has been done with the top floor of the house in the three years since it was built and so with the recent departure of a lodger, it was the perfect time to decorate a bedroom. My other half set the brief of modern, clean, light and gave me a budget of £150.00 – which I managed to achieve for only £105.50. As many of you will know, modern is not my usual interior style as I favour more of a classic look or, as my Dad would say, “Downton Abbey” inspired.
My initial thoughts were to go down the route of calm and modern and adopt my default colour of GREY, incorporating a bright colour to create a pop and add some warmth and personality. Grey and yellow work really well together and have gone hand in hand when it comes to interiors for years but I wanted something a little bit different. After running through colours in my head I quickly started to dismiss most choices; blue – too cold, red – done to death, pink – shot down and then I came to orange. Now I love orange as I think it’s one of those colours that has numerous shades and tones, like burnt orange and peach,that can create so many different vibes. However for this project I knew what I wanted and that was a bright citrus, yet classy, orange. I now just needed to find it!
Armed with my iPad I snuggled down into bed with a decaf Yorkshire Gold and began trawling though my regular internet haunts. I finally tracked the cushions down in Dunelm for £8.00 each and a matching throw from Wayfair for £17.99 (Reduced from £52.99). I’ve never made a purchase from Wayfair before and so I was a little apprehensive, but I have to say, the quality is great. With the orange in the bag I was on a roll and turned my attention to the accessories. Now, as I strict rule, I don’t like to mass buy accessories as I think it’s best to collect items that you really love – that way you will always find that special place to put them, else you can end up with a mass of clutter around your home. However with this room being a totally blank canvas I felt it needed a couple of items to add a homely feel without it being too much engineered personality in a guest room. To complete the room I got some simple white lamp shades from B&Q for £5 each to replace to blue shades of the table lamps and decided to stick with the existing grey ceiling shade to maintain a soft lighting to the room.
Well what a busy couple of weeks it’s been – what with numerous birthdays (mine being the most important, obviously), social events and feeling a bit under the weather. However, I’ve finally found some time to pick up my laptop and tell you about the amazing interiors and delicious food that we discovered on the surprise birthday weekend away to Amsterdam which my other half organised for me.
We flew out on the Saturday morning after my birthday (25th Feb) in the middle of storm Doris and arrived at lunchtime which gave us a full two and a half days to explore the stunning city of Amsterdam. As our taxi took us on a scenic route from the airport and approached the hotel, I’m not sure which I fell in love with more, the quaint and picturesque city or the super cool hotel, which oozed Shoreditch vibes and retro Dutch style.
We stayed at Hotel V Fizeaustraat, marketed as a 4 and a half star hotel situated just a stones through from Amstel station and the newest addition to the Hotel V group. As I took in the surroundings it certainly conjured up memories of the Ace Hotel Shoreditch.
We were welcomed by a sea of candles on each table which lit the otherwise dark lobby area. This soft lighting set a very calm and relaxing environment as we walked towards an imposing desk adorned with a dramatic vase filled with giant pampas grasses
(an idea I couldn’t wait to try in my dining room at home). The reception area was dressed with a relaxed olive leather sofa and wicker chairs, whilst a heavy gold coffee table sat effortlessly on a natural Aztec rug, complimenting the polished concrete floor perfectly. The reception area was lit by an opposing floor to ceiling heavily beaded chandelier which injected glamour into the vintage interiors.
After checking in we made our way back into the subdued green walled lobby and through to a long hallway which led us to our room. The walls were wallpapered with a polished concrete effect paper with embossed groves in a geometric formation to give the effect of tiles. The striking hallway was lit purely by wicker wall lights, evenly spaced to give the effect of a never ending hall. It looked like something from the Hotel Cortez in American Horror Story – dark and dramatic glamour.
Apartment living does have its benefits – low maintenance, extra security and no worrying over structural damage. However, apartment life does have one big downside – STORAGE HEATERS!
For anyone who has lived in an apartment this issue will definitely have affected them. Whether your apartment is 2 years old or 20, storage heaters seem to be the norm. Forgetting the fact that you need to have a NASA qualification and be best friends with Mystic Meg to figure out how they work, THEY ARE UGLY! There is no way around the fact that they are a big white blot on the landscape of your beautifully decorated room – no matter how hard you try to block them out.
So this is when I set myself a challenge – How can I distract from the heater in my hall with an easily movable cover (As storage heaters cannot be covered while in use)?
My first thought was a radiator cover as this could be lifted away if in ever wanted to use the heater, but after a lot of searching (whilst also working my way through a full tin of Betty’s Yorkshire Shortbread with tea), I found that the pre-made covers were not deep enough. Feeling defeated, I thought about a lift on/off shelf but quickly dismissed this idea and went back to the drawing board, reverting to one of my favourite pastimes – scouring eBay for furniture! As I clicked the ‘nearest first’ filter it triggered a light bulb moment – Why don’t I just buy a cupboard, remove the back and cut down in depth to fit over the heater? Well, that could have been an option had it not been for the skirting boards. Undeterred, I pursued this approach by exploring what furniture I could possibly adapt and eventually decided that a table would be the easiest to adapt and the most practical as it can be easily moved and will sit flush to the wall.
I popped the kettle on (and fought the urge to rummage for more biscuits) before narrowing down my table search. In addition to eBay, I also find the local Facebook selling groups a great option – there is nothing worse than finding the ideal piece only to discover it is collection only from the top of Scotland! This is where I found the perfect table for the job, (albeit nearer to Hull that York) but luckily for me, and my very small Mini, one of my friends works close by and could collect it for me.
Once delivered (in exchange for one of my homemade coffee & walnut cakes) I began dismantling the table to remove the lower tier and two of the legs. From there I measured how far out of the wall I wanted the table to be, and importantly, how deep it needed to be for the legs not to get in the way and then sanded the table so it was ready to paint after being cut to size. To cut it down you could hand saw or jigsaw it with a steady hand and careful eye but I however took a more accurate approach (purely for my OCD of not wanting a wobbly line) and took it to a good customer of ours who designs and creates playgrounds and parks. They ran it through their circular saw giving me a perfectly crisp line meaning no more sanding!
When I bought my apartment in November 2015 its fair to say that the bathroom had seen better days – the walls were full of scratches and marks from years of use by tenants and a badly chipped mirror had found itself well and truly attached to the wall (thanks to what must have been several tubes of no more nails!). The mirror had to go! After what felt like hours of cheese wiring, scraping, taping and prizing, with the help of a friend, I finally managed to get the mirror off the wall. Success you may think – unfortunately not as now that I had removed one problem from the room this left me with another – yet more wall surface issues!
With a housewarming party looming (and my snobbery rearing its head) I grabbed some filler and half a pot of some left over Farrow & Ball ‘Elephants breath’ and embarked on some minor redecoration. My initial idea was to simply tidy up the bathroom until I replaced the bathroom suite, however, with a year of weddings, birthday weekends and a craving for some sun, the priority of the bathroom suite somewhat took a back seat.
Fast forward a year and whilst the minor redecoration had made the bathroom served a purpose, I felt it it was time to grab the bull by the horns and pay the bathroom some much needed attention… Albeit on a budget!
After a long hard day of work I love nothing more than a long hot bath, and so for me, the bathroom is somewhere I spend a lot of time. Armed with a fresh cup of tea, my laptop and a £100.00 budget I set about my bargain hunting and research and bargain hunting.
My key to finding design inspiration is to expand my vision around one key theme or items that you are particularly drawn to. I find you can get some great inspiration from browsing for home accessories and so it wasn’t by chance that whilst browsing through the Zara Home website (which incidentally, and much to my excitement has a store in Leeds) I found inspiration in the form of sea coral – in particularly a tumbler with a bold print adorning the front and finished with a warm antique gold rim.
My decision was made – this theme was to become the key linchpin for my bathroom interior ideas. Now that I’d found my theme I let my creative mind run wild and began to conjure up a vision of a light, bright and colourful yet still tranquil space. Unfortunately the balance of stark and bright, yet tranquil, can be quite a tricky balance to create, especially if like mine, your bathroom has no windows (oh the glamour apartment living!).
When it came to decorating my lounge I had a clear image in my mind – one that I often found myself daydreaming over. I knew exactly what the room needed – light.
With this came imagery of a light and airy space, one which created a stage for my collection of quirky interiors. However, the decision on a colour was proving to be a stumbling block. My apartment has an open plan kitchen and lounge area, meaning that I needed to give careful consideration to a colour that would compliment both a lounge and a kitchen (Of course my preferred option would be to have a new kitchen but given the cost of this, it will have to stay on hold for a little longer and be added to my list of future projects!).
In my search for the perfect colour I looked at lots of different colour palettes including sage greens, pastel blues and greys, but finally opted for a soft, but fresh, yellow. After hours of research and lots of scrolling through pinterest (which, I highly recommend as a great place to view colours in real life), I was able to narrow it down to a shortlist of three.
To help me make a final decision I grabbed some testers and set about painting sections of my shortlisted colours on each wall (I find that it helps to access the lighting from different points of the room) before eventually opting for Farrow & Ball – ‘Dayroom Yellow’ as my new lounge colour –
“Dayroom Yellow is a typical Soanian or Regency colour which really does make your room feel full of sunlight especially when contrasted with All White. It is probably the most refreshing in feel of all Farrow & Ball colours, perfect for use in spaces deprived of light or for those of a sunny disposition!”
Of course, yellow isn’t your typical choice of lounge décor and so I wasn’t too surprised that upon announcing to friends my plan to plump for Yellow I was met with some scepticism and concern that I may regret the choice! One friend even went as far as dubbing the colour ‘quite 80’s’ haha.
With my decision a little rocked I contemplated returning to the mountain of colour charts that I had pawed through whilst chain drinking tea. However as I sat there on the floor surrounded by a sea of colour cards I couldn’t shift that image in my head of a light airy yellow lounge that I had previously daydreamed of. It was then I told myself ‘Jack! Just do it! It is only paint!’. With that I picked up my keys and wallet and headed to Homebase – 5L of F&B Estate Emulsion were now mine!
Painting isn’t the most glamorous or interesting of tasks and so it took me several days to take the plunge, but eventually, having armed myself with a pot of tea, I began the painstaking chore of covering furniture and masking the edges up before taking a brush to the currently cream wall and embarking on my Dayroom Daydream! One coat of paint, a pot of earl grey and 2 hours later I had my first glimpse of that light and airy space that I’d visualised.