Welcome to my new kitchen

It's official. We finally have one room completely finished in the house. The kitchen was the most important thing to me in the house. I love to cook and wanted a space I could really lose myself in and one that became the hub of the house. You can often find me on a Sunday with flour in my hair and every utensil filthy as I spend the day working through my never ending supply of cookbooks. Thanks to my dad who did a spectacular job fitting it, a family friend who look time out to do our work tops and thanks to Connor who planned every last detail, I got the kitchen I always dreamed of. Scroll down to the bottom to see where everything is from. So what did it look like before?

The layout was the first thing that struck me. It's pretty small but it didn't seem like they were making the most of the space. I also didn't like the fact you had to go through the living in order to get into the kitchen. It was pretty bland and painted this awful yellow colour which gave me a headache. It looked like hadn't been updated quite a few years, the flimsy cupboards had seen better days and the cooker was disgusting. That was the first thing we threw out.

I've always wanted a red and grey kitchen. It's one of my favourite colour combinations. I'd been collected small red appliances for a few years and we decided to go for the full statement of investing in a matching fridge and dishwasher. Best decision ever! Once we had our colour scheme confirmed, we drew up some plans to decide the layout. Like I mentioned earlier, the space wasn't utilised very well so we decided to block up the existing door and reopen the door in the dining room (the kitchen is originally an extension.) After it was plastered and our spotlights were fitted, it was time to tile the floor.

I wanted a white tiled floor to help brighten it up as I was afraid to many dark colours could make it seem smaller than it was. We opted for grey grout as we didn't want to spend all our time scrubbing the floor. I'm a very messy cook so it really would be very time consuming. For the wall tiles, I wanted a lighter grey and fell in love with these flecked hexagon tiles from Topps Tiles*. After seeing a honeycomb pattern on Pinterest, I immediately knew I wanted to recreate this at home. We used white grout to help make the grey stand out. They create a great contrast with the charcoal grey units and I couldn't be happier with the end result.

Despite knowing they would be a nightmare too keep looking spick and span, I had my heart set on light oak worktops. We bought our from DIY Kitchens and oiled them three times before we used them. I feel they create a 'country' style kitchen but yet still help it feel modern. We live in a 1950's house and I didn't want to go too traditional. The Belfast sink has been my dream and is a great talking point. Every one always comments on it when they walk through the door. I was adamant I didn't want traditional kitchen door handles so spent a good few weeks scouring the internet. The octagonal handles caught my eye and I love them so much. I feel they really help jazz the kitchen up.

Thanks to the size, we are pretty limited on cupboard space. I have a lot of crockery and a lot of cookbooks. This is where shelves came in handy! I've always loved the idea of having crockery on display as I feel it helps to make a kitchen feel homely. I've got my favourite cookbooks on the top shelf and will rotate them. After all I do have 156 books to thumb through! We ordered some brackets from Ebay and my dad made us some shelves from an old scaffolding board - which will match our dining room table eventually.

I love an accessory but didn't want to make the worktops seem to cluttered. Believe it or not, this is me being a minimalist! I love anything Orla Kiely as you can tell by my cake tins and utensil pot*. I've tried to pick patterns with a hint of red or grey in them to help them tie into the kitchen.

Finally, I once again always knew I wanted to have a range cooker but we wasn't sure if it would look a bit too large for the space. In the end I managed to get my way and we went for black. I felt that stainless steel just looked to industrial and black was going to age a lot better than any other colour. I didn't anticipate how much of an effort it is to keep black cookers looking spotless!

Let me know if you have any questions - would be more than glad to answer it. Renovating a house is tough business!

Grey kitchen units:  DIY Kitchens
Belfast sink: DIY Kitchens
Solid oak work tops: DIY Kitchens
Silver octagonal door handles: Bombay Duck
Solid oak draining board: Amazon
Utensil pot: Orla Kiely via Hurn and Hurn*
Copper jars: H&M and Homesense
DIY shelves: Brackets from eBay/ shelf made from scaffolding boards
Silver taps: Victoria Plumbing
Grey hexagon wall tiles: Topps Tiles*
Grey wall radiator: Soak
Red fridge: Swan
Red dishwasher: Swan
Red microwave: Swan
Black range cooker: Leisure
Red kettle: Kitchenaid
Red stand mixer: Kitchenaid
Red blender: Kitchenaid

How to do a gallery wall in your living room

Corner sofa: DFS*, Grey floor lamp: IKEA, Custard Cream cushion: Nikki McWilliams, Wire lampshade: IKEA, Mustard throw: H&M, Grey, navy and mustard cushion: Sainsbury's, Gin cushion:  Matalan

We first came up with the idea in Copenhagen two years to start collecting prints from every city we visit with the view to create a gallery wall when we moved out. We haven't managed to pick up a print in every city but we've got a great collection so far. I love having a mementos from trips we've been on as I'm a sucker for picking up a souvenir. They catch my eye and I'm immediately taken back to that walk along the river in Derry or the music festival we went to in Budapest. Here are my tips on how to create a gallery wall in your living room.

1. Choose a theme
We went for travel as it is something we're both so passionate about. If I'm honest, I never stop thinking about where to go on holiday! By choosing a theme I feel it helps to inject some of your personality into your house. Everyone always comments in the gallery wall when they visit and it's an immediate conversation starter. My friend Hannah has a music wall filled with posters from her favourite bands and gigs. It looks great and really does sum up her personality.

2. Pick different sizes
We've gone for a variety of sizes in prints in different colour frames. It helps to make it so much more interesting and much more of a statement. You want your gallery wall to make an impact as soon as you enter the room. Our frames come from both IKEA and Wilko. As we have white walls, we opted for a trio of colours to help make the prints stand out.

3. Lay them out on the floor
Before you take the plunge, make sure you lay them all out on the floor. Take pictures of different combinations so you can really study them before making up your mind. It's a big commitment to put a hole in the wall so make sure you 100% know what you want.

4. Leave room to add
If you choose a big space, arrange the prints so that it looks finished but also has room to add some more. I feel like a gallery wall is an ongoing project that can be added to as and when you fancy. We arranged our prints in the middle so we have enough room at the sides and below to add some more. We going to keep an eye out for some postcards on our next trips to try and fill some of the smaller spaces.


Four tips on how to style your kitchen shelves

Since I've moved out I've discovered I REALLY like rearranging shelves. I love giving all my useless but pretty trinkets a place and seeing it all come together. A couple of weeks ago my dad very kindly made me some shelves out of scaffold boards with the handmade brackets from eBay for my kitchen. It's probably my favourite corner of the house. Here are some tips on how to style kitchen shelves, in my very humble opinion of course!

Use colour
Originally I wanted to have all my glasses on the shelves but it didn't look right. It was too monotone against the white wall. It really needed some colour to help make it pop. I found that cookbooks are a great option for this as they're naturally colourful. Try not to put too many block colours together and break up any white products.

Store things you need
We've popped our coffee cups and our jar full of coffee pods on the shelf. It makes a lot of sense as the coffee machine is underneath it so we won't have to keep walking to opposite end of the kitchen to use it. You want it too look pretty yet practical. Otherwise what's the point? I did want to put all my grains and pulses on it but it makes much more sense to display these bits and bobs near the cooker.

Put the least used things on top
There's nothing worse if you're a lazy girl like me then having to keep stretching up to the top shelf for the things you use the most. So you'll want to put infrequently used bits on the very top. I decided to put my favourite cookbooks on top as they're something I only dig out at the weekend. The sugar, flour, cups and coffee pods are often used everyday in some capacity.

Improvise with bookends
Need somewhere to put those random decorative pieces you bought because you thought they looked nice? They work great as bookends. I treated myself to this gorgeous copper pineapple ice bucket from Oliver Bona with a birthday voucher from last year. I won't ever use it as an ice bucket but it looks really nice on display, it's pretty heavy to keep books up straight too.

What's on my shelves?
Red retro scales: Wilko (similar), copper pineapple: Oliver Bonas, gold and glass jars: H&M (similar), grey handleless coffee mugs: H&M (similar), Linen small candle: The White Company*,  selection of cookbooks: Amazon, brown glass candle: Earl of East*, swan measuring spoons: birthday gift

Do you have any tips on how to style kitchen shelves?


How to update your garden for the summer on a budget

Out of our new house, our garden is probably the best 'room' we have. It's in pretty good shape with some decking that just needs a lick of paint. Just as well with the weather is starting to hot up... I can't wait to spend more time out there. We can't afford to spend a lot of money to spruce it up so I've been keeping my eye out for little knick knacks that help give it a new lease of life. I'm thinking lanterns, cushions and quirky accessories with a bright, slightly kitsch theme. Basically anything that possibly looks a bit tacky... Fishpools,  Matalan, Homesense and ASDA have a great selection of different bits and bobs. Have a look below to see what I have my eye on...

1. Puffin cushion - Maison Du Monde
2. Plastic flamingos - John Lewis
3. Pink hanging pot - TK Maxx
4. Rattan dining set - Fishpools
5. Malamine dinner plates - Debenhams
6. Bistro set - George at Asda
7. Pineapple cushion - Maison Du Monde
8. Pineapple LED lights - John Lewis

How would you update your garden on a budget? I'm always after some tips!

This is a collaborative post with Fishpools


Three of my favourite candles at the moment

Since buying my own house I've become obsessed with candles. I feel they really help to create a warm, welcoming home and find them so relaxing flickering away after a long day at work. Here are three of favourite candles at the moment...

1. Roam by 42 Pressed*
Named after my favourite city in the world, this 100% natural soy wax candle was made for me! Boasting spicy black pepper, floral lavindin, woody oak moss and musky labdanum, it has a really rich and warming aroma. It's powerful yet not too over bearing.

2. Alchemy and Thistle*
The amber vintage-style glass immediately caught my eye and then I smelt it and fell hook, line and sinker. Made from eco-friendly soya wax, the rich aroma of zesty bergamot and warming frankincense circles the room. It helps to create such a cosy atmosphere and really evokes feelings of autumn. Despite being in spring, it's still a little chilly so the candle is still burning bright.

3. Scandinavisk
Keen to embrace all aspects of Scandinavian culture, I had to add one of these candles to my collection. - how pretty is that glass jar? I opted for Island Solitude which promised to evoke images of Scandinavian islands with subtle notes of driftwood, hardy rose, white flowers and green leaves. It smells beautifully light and fresh, making it perfect for the warmer months.

The perfect Easter spread for a gathering

Since I've bought my own house my interiors obsession has gotten out of control. Luckily Amara has helped me to fund this interiors obsession with this selection of gorgeous ceramics. I can't wait to have the house in shape to invite people round for dinner parties, drinks and afternoon tea. Any excuse to put on a spread. What better excuse to put on a spread than Easter weekend?

So in keeping with tradition, I attempted my very first roast leg of lamb but with a Greek twist. After scouring Good Food for a suitable recipe - all my cookbooks are in storage ready for the move! - I came across the perfect recipe and decided to serve it with a simple Greek salad and rosemary mini roasties. To help keep with the spring theme I treated myself to bunch of tulips in this pretty white and blue patterned jug*. I much prefer the rustic, country look of putting flowers in a jug to a glass vase - I just think it feels more homely and this jug couldn't be more perfect.

Easter is often a time where it's a whirlwind of people coming and going and the urgently of being in certain places at the right time. So because of this you need something delicious yet something that is really simple to cook. This roast lamb is perfect because you marinate it then stick it in the oven in an oven proof dish - like this yellow patterned one* - surrounded by some herby potatoes before sitting back and letting it cook. The tasty oregano, garlic and olive oil sauce scored into the lamb really helped to keep the meat juicy and flavoursome.

As the weather is usually starting to pick up by Easter, it means meals start to get a little bit lighter and salads start to take centre stage. Served in this green pattern terracotta bowl*, a Greek Salad was the perfect accompaniment to the lamb. Vine cherry tomatoes, cucumber cubes, slices of red onion, a handful of black olives, a handful of sun-dried tomatoes were tossed in a glug of olive oil and dried oregano. A generous sprinkling of salty feta cheese was the finishing touch. There's just something about lamb and Greek flavours that goes so well don't you think?

For those who prefer their roast meat with a bit of a sauce, this simple concoction of a tin of chopped tomatoes and black olives warmed in a saucepan is great. It feels fresh and keeps in with theme thanks to the typically Greek ingredients. I served it on these cute colourful tapas dishes* to match the gorgeous summery plates*. Isn't there just something about this collection that screams warm weather?

What are your favourite recipes for Easter?

Three ways to style your shelves

If you're anything like me, you spend hours lusting over Pinterest at the interiors. Dream of perfecting the perfect shelves and having a room worthy of taking pride of place in a interiors magazines. But sometimes they can look a little too sterile. Like no one lives there, they simply exist to take pictures of. Here are my tips on how to add a little personality to yourself without giving into clutter!

Too much tat on a shelf can look untidy and cluttered. But adding a few trinkets can help give your selves personality. Pick a few things from your adventures, things that represent you and mean a lot to you. I have a collection of Russian Dolls from Budapest to remind me of my holiday. I have a Peaky Blinders pin badge that I was given in a secret Santa from Hannah.

Wall art
A few years ago I made a pact to pick up a different print from every city I visited. I'm missing a few as sometimes they can be hard to track down but now have a pretty healthy collection. Eventually I'd love to have a gallery wall above my sofa in my future house. But, for now I'm displaying them on shelves. They make a great talking point and bring back memories every time you catch them.

Despite owning a Kindle, I still have a love affair with books. At the moment my obsession is with travel books. I think I might actually be keeping Lonely Planet in business... I spend hours reading them, making notes and dreaming about places I've yet to visit. I like to scatter a few of my favourites on my shelves and change them whenever I fancy a change. Coffee tables books look great too. I'm slowing building up my collection of Hygge inspired books!

How do you style your shelves?


Entertaining with LSA International

One of my favourite things to do is eat and entertain so when LSA International got in touch and kindly offered to send me a few things from their collection at Amara, my eyes lit up. They're currently celebrating their 50th birthday. Working in interiors I often come across their products and they always seem so classic and of high quality. I certainly wasn't disappointed when they arrived. They definitely helped me become the hostess with the mostess! I decided to host a little wine and cheese night to give them their first outing.

One of the first things needed were some champagne glasses. What is a gathering without some bubbles? Reminding me of The Great Gatsby, the handmade glasses are gorgeous. They're the perfect party centrepiece. With wine you always need some cheese right? Which makes this cheeseboard an essential! This quaint little cheeseboard has a hand-blown dome on an oak paddle base, making it perfect for an intimate dinner party. Finally I was gifted the water and wine carafe set. Once again the glass mouth-blown and nestled on a wooden base.  It's the little finishing touches like these pieces that really make a gathering. I adore glassware at the moment, it just seems so timeless which is what you really want when you buy investment pieces. The collection isn't cheap but you really do get what you pay for. I don't mind splashing out on pieces that I know are going to stand the test of time.

Thanks so much to LSA International for helping me put my hostess skills to the test. They got the thumbs up!


How to decorate your bedroom on a budget

I still live at home so I don't really have too much free control over my bedroom. All systems go towards that house deposit - so near yet so far! But I have been enjoying adding a few bits and pieces to my bedroom to make it feel like 'mine'. Here are a few ideas to help put your stamp on your own space even if you can't decorate away until your heart's content.

Wall prints
These can be a great way to cheaply add a little bit of your own personality to your room. You don't even have hang them on a wall. Simply pop them in a frame and onto a shelf. I fell in love with this pretty print while I visited Sarah a few months back. It summed up the way I've been feeling recently and incorporated my love of travel. Keep an eye out on Etsy for some fantastic prints - I've got these Harry Potter ones on my list. Nothing quite like a Dumbledore quote to make you feel all sassy and ready to take on the world.

Duvet sets
I think you'll all be with me when I say the bed is the most important thing in any bedroom. Plus a good duvet cover can make all the difference.  You can pick up some great ones in Primark which mean you can have a few on rotation. I was sent a special anti-allegy duvet from Sleepy People in time for Allergy Awareness Week in April. It's designed to offer protection against mites and bacteria making it great for allergy sufferers. I can say I haven't had any trouble since sleeping with it!

It's only in this last year that I've totally got the hype of candles. I always thought they were a bit of a waste of money and wasn't keen on burning my cash. But, now I absolutely love them, my favourite thing is lighting one before snuggling under the covers to read a book. You really don't have drop £50 on one to bag a decent one either. This fun pineapple candle was a bargain in the New Look sale at £3 - check out their homeware section. Oliver Bonas always do some gorgeous smelling scents that really fill your room. This limited edition Pomegranate & Patchouli candle smells absolutely gorgeous.

Shelves are a great way to add little trinkets to give your room your own stamp. I love to add photographs, perfume, candles and basically anything that I think sums up my personality. As my room is a black and white theme I like to add a little colour on my shelves. Charity shops and bootsales can be great pieces to pick up trinkets for a few pennies. They're often be slightly unusual too - you'd be surprised what people chuck out.


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A Essex based lifestyle blogger who lives a champagne life on a lemonade purse!

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