Archive | November, 2013

Do you remember the first time?

29 Nov

Main mood wall cropped

Buying your very own home for the first time is nerve-wracking but brilliant. Once you’ve got the keys, you can do whatever you like – knock down walls, put psychedelic wallpaper everywhere or paint the whole place pink if the whim takes you – without worrying about losing your deposit because you’ve put a picture up, or didn’t stick to a magnolia colour scheme.

The only problem is, with such a huge blank canvas to put your stamp on, where on earth do you start? Particularly if, like most first timers, you’ve sunk every penny  you own on the deposit.

That was the conundrum given to me and two other interiors bloggers (Caroline from Patchwork Harmony and Carol from Dear Designer) by uber friendly online bank First Direct.  They challenged us to create a 3D moodboard wall to inspire people buying their first ever house or flat. I had a whale of a time sourcing, buying and borrowing props in a rainbow of bright colours; and then spent a fun afternoon creating the wall in an East London warehouse, with the help of the super lovely First Direct team. You can see the results above and below…

Jenny Wood Gallery (2)

The idea behind my mood wall was show that decorating your first home should be fun – and shouldn’t cost a fortune. So, everything I used is available on the high street or online, and has an affordable price tag (it’s all listed below – be warned, it’s a looooong list!). I also wanted to show that you don’t have to play it safe. Even if you go for a background of plain or neutral walls, you can still inject some personality into your scheme with pops of bright colour or by experimenting with an eyecatching feature wallpaper.

Styling the shoot for First Direct

Want to see more? You can see the other bloggers’ efforts on the First Direct Facebook page, and view a video full of tips (including an interview with me – eek) here: And if you’re thinking of investing in bricks and mortar for the first time, you’ll find loads of useful advice from First Direct here.

Good luck!

Where to buy everything…
Kaleidoscope wallpaper by Harlequin, £30 per roll, Wallpaper Direct (
Clock, £10, TK Maxx (
Owl cushion, £14.99 Dunelm Mill (
Purple, green, orange and yellow cushions, £6 each, Matalan (
Grey pouffe, £47, Very (
Micro loop bath mats (on floor), £8 each, Matalan (
Large industrial wirework shelf, £49.95 Live Laugh Love (
Picture frame, £1, Poundland
Hello Sunshine postcard, 60p, Paperchase (
Origami crane light, £8 Cubic (
Owl candle, £3, Matalan (
Teal canister £2, Tiger Stores (
Pencil sharpener desk tidy, £15, Suck UK (
Sharpie markers from a selection,
Solar Queen, £16.99
Melamine bowls find similar at Nettle Green (
Mug from a selection, Achica (
Chinese man pot junk shop find
Russian doll measuring cups, £6.24, Tesco Direct (
Gibraltar highball glasses £2.50 each, HOUSE by John Lewis (
Plastic boxes, from a selection at Paperchase (
Ceramic owl decoration, find similar, £5, from Red Berry Red at
Tea towels, £3 for three, Wilkinson (
Star cookie cutters, £4 for pack of five, Sainsbury’s (
Set of measuring spoons, £2, Tiger Stores (
H.O.M.E perspex letters, £6 each, Oh Bother Design at Etsy (
Large picture frame junk shop find, sprayed in Plastikote yellow gloss spray paint £
Bunting, £1 for 10m, Tiger Stores (
Lanterns, £3 each, Tiger Stores (
Trimphone telephone, £42, I Love Retro (
Orla Kiely ‘Stem’ salad bowl, £25, Unique & Unity (
Elephant watering can, £8.50
Silicone trivets, £2 each, Matalan (
Soda siphon junk shop find
Queen Duck, £7.99, Just Ducks (
Street sign, made to order, Oh Bother Design at Etsy (
Bekvam step stool, £11, Ikea (, sprayed in Plastikote yellow gloss spray paint £
Morphy Richards toaster, £34.99, Dunelm Mill (
Happy Girl yellow Kokeshi doll, £20, The Japanese Shop (
Giant pegs, £3 each, Tiger Stores (
Metal hut tealight holder, £2.50, Matalan (
Plant and pot, from a selection at Homebase (
Elephant creamer jug, £3.25, Rigby & Mac (
Books, from a selection at
Sabichi zigzag throw, £12, Very (
Tenshi Tetsubin cast iron teapot, £30, Exotic Teapot (
Musca table lamp, £19.98, B&Q (

My headshot cropped

A-door-able advent calendars

27 Nov

Contact Marketing/ Press Office: 01202 596100

One my favourite things about Christmas is the expectation – for me, the run-up is almost as good as the big day itself.

For that reason, I’ve always loved advent calendars, and since I left home many moons ago, Mum and I have been making each other a personalised advent calendar, filled with little bits and bobs (dinky nail polishes, tiny decorations, chocolates, earrings, fun push pins, etc) we’ve secretly collected over the year.

I made the advent boxes we use (it took me HOURS…) but now they’re getting a bit tatty, and it’s time to replace them. The problem is, many fill-your-own advent calendars have really tiny drawers. You can barely squeeze a chocolate mini egg into them, let alone something a bit more substantial like a cute lipbalm or fun keyring.

So, this year, I’m on the hunt for the ultimate advent calendar – and I thought I’d share my findings with  you, above and below. There are LOADS of good ones to choose from, and I’ve included both fill-your-own and ready-filled versions, for those of you who either a) can’t be faffed buying pocket-sized treats, or b) have left it a bit late!

TOP: Advent houses, £20 for set of 24, Hobbycraft ( They’re displayed on a white tree, £20 also from Hobbycraft, but you could just paint some twigs with white emulsion and stick ’em in a flowerpot to make your own display instead!

Contact Marketing/ Press Office: 01202 596100Stack of little buckets, £1 each, Hobbycraft (

cardboard storage house advent

Cardboard storage house (decorate it yourself), £35 or £34.95 (I love the extra large drawers for the 23rd and 24th)

Advent house retro dotcomgiftshop50s Christmas house advent calendar, £18.95 (almost identical to the one above, except it’s already decorated and almost half the price!)

black and white reusable advent calendar

Advent calendar storage drawers (choice of two colourways – black/white or lime/silver) £15

Buttonbag make your own advent calendar £16Buttonbag make your own personalised advent calendar kit £16 John Lewis (

Ciate advent calendar

Ciate Mini Nail Lacquer Advent Calendar Gift Set, £42, John Lewis ( I would SO love to get one of these!

Lego star wars advent calendarLego Star Wars, £16.65 and Lego City, £13.32 advent calendars (with little Lego men and bits to open every day!), Sainsbury’s (

Yankee Candle tealights advent calendar

Yankee Candle 24 Tealights advent calendar £22 (with a different festive-scented tealight candle behind each door!)

Tesco chocolate advent calendar £10

3D Advent Calendar with Chocolate, £10, Tesco ( You could save the boxes to use again next year!

The only time it’s good to be shelf-ish!

20 Nov

Kitchen rack 1

If, like me, you have a lot of lovely tins, quirky mugs, fun gadgets and kitsch knick knacks in your kitchen, it can be a shame to hide them away.

However, kitchen storage can be tricky, especially if you’re on a budget. You can fit one of your units with glass doors, but this often looks a bit twee; or you can pop things on shelves, which works fine, but doesn’t look particularly stylish.

This is why there has been a blank wall in my kitchen for over a year now…

blank kitchen wall before storage

Pictures didn’t look right (and got all steamed up); I already had a clock on another wall; and I didn’t want a full-on unit as it would have made the place feel too cluttered. I needed some kind of shelving unit that was both practical and that looked cool; where I could display my fun bits’n’bobs and also reach things when I needed them.

I found some great options online, but they all cost hundreds of pounds. Then, while doing a photoshoot recently, I came across interiors website They sell all kinds of unusual vintage and shabby-chic homes accessories – including doormats, picture frames, tins, jugs, hooks and metal signs – as well as some great, affordable storage options.

It was here I found the answer: the designer-look ‘Large Industrial Wirework Shelf’. It’s big enough to hold a decent amount of stuff; yet the see-thru nature of the wirework means it doesn’t take up too much space visually. It fixes to the wall with just two long screws (simple for even a DIY dunce like myself) and at a reasonable £49.95 it’s way cheaper than anything else similar I’ve seen.

The very kind people at Live Laugh Love gave me a shelf to keep after my shoot and now it has pride of place in my kitchen:

Kitchen rack 3

You wouldn’t just have to use a shelf like this in the kitchen though. It’d work well in a bathroom (see below); and if you wanted to make it blend into the wall even further, you could easily paint it with white radiator paint; or use a coloured spraypaint to make it stand out (try PlastiKote Twist’n’Spray, from DIY shops and which sprays onto almost any surface).

BATHROOM Wirework shelf £49.95

So, a huge thank you to the folks at – I’m definitely adding the site to my list of great Christmas shopping destinations. And if you’re having a browse, here’s my pick of the other fab stuff they sell…

Live laugh love pigeon hole

Above: Rustic Wooden Six-Section Pigeon Holes, £29.95 (a great alternative to the wire shelves)

Live laugh love Merry Christmas grossgrain ribbon

Above: Fabric Ribbon, £2.95 for 3m; Antique Glass Filigree TeaLight Holders, £2.95 each

live laugh love knot doorstop

Above: Rope Knot Doorstop, £14.95 (a BARGAIN for something like this!); Vintage Glass Cake Stand, £9.95

Live laugh love general store storage

Above: General Store Jute Storage Bags, £3.95 – £8.95 depending on size; Days of the Week Decorated Pegs, £3.95

[Disclosure: I was given the wirework shelf  from that appears in this review]

The future’s orange

1 Nov

Lifestyle shot from John Lewis

Pic courtesty of John Lewis (

I recently wrote a trends piece for Closer magazine about Autumn’s hottest shades, as predicted by world colour experts, The Pantone Color Institute. There are some lovely ones – a deep Greek sea blue; a calming sage green; a spicy hot red… but my surprise favourite has to be ‘Koi’, a cheery bright orange.

Pantone colour predictions Autumn Winter 2013

It’s not a colour you’d automatically think of when buying things for your home, but while it can look too kitsch if splashed over an entire room; a few pops of orange in a plainer white or grey colour scheme can look really cool indeed.

To prove the point, I’ve found a whole host of lovely orange accessories that will add instant wow factor to any room, and that won’t break the bank price-wise. Which one is your favourite?!

ORANGE Fox sculpture £18 Littlewoods

Fox sculpture, £15, Littlewoods (; Fan lampshade, £36,; Linnell table lamp, £69 Marks & Spencer (

ORANGE Cushion £18 Next

Shaggy cushion, £18, Next (; Essentials orange pyramid kettle, £25, BHS (; Bonjour! print £35,
orange selection one

Musca table lamp in ‘squirrel’, £19.98 B&Q (; Trimphone, £32,; Orla Kiely pots and jars, £20 – £23 each,; Jasper dining chair, £39, John Lewis (

orange selection two

Digital radio, £49.95, John Lewis (; Mod tealight holder, £10.50, Habitat (; Linea Egyptian cotton towels, from £8, House of Fraser (,default,pd.html)

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