Archive | September, 2015

Shop back in time

4 Sep


In my day job as a journalist, I get to meet some really lovely, interesting, talented people. One such person I’ve had the honour of getting to know is Carla, who, until recently, worked in the press office for a big high street department store.

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Carla has amazing style, a magpie’s eye and a canny knack for spotting a bargain. She’s also obsessed with the 1950s, and now her love of all things retro has led to her branching out and setting up her own online business, Carla Collects, selling brilliant mid-century finds – my favourite era – at refreshingly reasonable prices.

In her etsy shop (at you’ll find everything from true vintage to kitsch, including jewellery, fashion, decorative bits, ornaments, kitchenalia, toys, and haberdashery – you name it, she’s probably got it. And if she hasn’t, she’ll happily seek it out for you if you put in a request.


What’s more, she also upcycles furniture and makes soft furnishings such as cushions and chair covers too. Phew!

So, whether you’re looking for a vintage tea set to give as a wedding present; an outfit-transforming retro necklace; or a 1960s teapot shaped like an owl (you never know!), I’d recommend taking a look. To give you a taster, here are some of my favourite pieces on sale at the moment. Everything here ranges in price from £6 to around £22 and is a one-off, so if you spot something you like, you’d better be quick!

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PS: Bought something from the lovely Carla? I’d love to see it! Tweet me your finds @WoodyJen

Making an entrance

2 Sep

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I have no problems with yellow. I just don’t want a yellow front door. Yet, for the last five years, that’s what I’ve had – inherited from our home’s previous owners. Every time I put my key in the lock, I silently wished it looked swankier, but there was always something else more urgent that needed doing.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I ran out of excuses. In  a Twitter chat with Phil Spencer (yep, him off the telly), I sent him a photo of our house and asked him whether I should paint the door red, purple or green. Wise Phil said he liked purple, and suddenly I found myself dusting off my paintbrush!

Here’s what the door looked like beforehand…

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And here’s how it looks after its purple facelift..

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Not bad, eh? As well as giving it a paintjob, I also swapped the gold door furniture for silver; ditched the chintzy house number; removed the totally unnecessary black iron gate (which has ripped many a coat over the years!); and added a fun geometric doormat (just £7 from B&Q). To finish off, I cleaned and repainted the porchway with white masonry paint, to make everything feel fresh and new.

Fancy giving your door a makeover too? To choose the perfect shade, I recommend going to the Valspar paint counter in your local B&Q. They have handy free little tester cards in hundreds of shades, so I grabbed one each of all the purple ones that took my fancy. Paint can look VERY different in different lights, so they have clever little lightboxes where you can see what your choice would look like in daylight, under an energy saving bulb, or under a ‘normal’ bulb…

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Having said that, I wouldn’t rely on this alone. I strung my cards together and took them home – the ones I thought I liked in the shop looked completely different when held up against my front door at various times of day. I also carried them with me for a few days and whenever I saw a purple door I liked, sneaked up and held the cards against it (luckily no-one saw me or they’d have thought I was a bit mad). My final choice, the rather excitingly-named ‘Cloak of Midnight’ looked far darker in the shop than it does in situ. I’d probably never have chosen it if I hadn’t taken it home first.

My other tips? Splash out on a brand new brush, and choose a nylon-bristled one for a smoother end result. Oh, and go for a satin finish paint. Most people traditionally choose gloss paint for a front door as it’s hard-wearing; however it takes about a zillion years to dry, and the shiny finish can sometimes look a bit old fashioned. Matte paint, on the other hand, looks more modern but scratches easily. Satin is a happy medium – it gives you that matte look while being far more durable.

Happy painting!

PS: If you do decide to enhance your kerb appeal, I’d love to see a picture, so please message, email or tweet me at or @WoodyJen

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