My favourite clutter-busters

I don’t know about you but I definitely feel like I am fighting a never ending battle against clutter. I always feel inspired to tackle the issue around this time of year. Let’s face it, there’s not a lot else to do in January and all the money has been spent over Christmas so it’s a great opportunity to spend some time at home clearing out ready for the year ahead. (Yes, I am aware of how sad that sounds!!)

It’s overwhelming how much stuff we have and I am constantly trying to reduce the amount of it that we hold on to. It’s hard to stay on top of it and there’s no doubt it’s an ongoing and relentless effort but I have found there are certain things which have really helped us to keep things under control so I thought I would share some of them with you.

Bag Hook

Bag Hook

This little hook in our hallway is where I hang my bag when I come into the house. Previously, it used to hang around on the kitchen worktop or the hall table but this one little thing has put an end to all that trauma (oh yes!)

Hidden Shoe Storage

Hidden Shoe Storage

This tower is from (you guessed it) IKEA and it is home to all our shoes! This one was the Expedit but the range has now been replaced by the Kallax which is very similar. Ideally, it would be in the hall but we have all got used to carrying our shoes into the den and popping them into our designated bin. (I get two because I’m both an adult and a girl and my need is greater!) This one item has made such a difference to the entry way to our home. Previously, we have tried many ways of containing our shoe clutter but none has been as successful as this and I think that’s largely due to the capacity of it. Each one of these bins contains up to 10 pairs of my shoes and boots (so, more of the children’s and less of the hubby’s).

Storage Bags for Just about anything!

Storage Bags for Just about anything!

These storage bags are the perfect way to keep piles of ironing contained! I use them to store out-of-season clothes as well as those waiting for my ironing attention but they could be used as toy storage or for spare towels or bed-linen.

Baskets to hide the clutter

Baskets to hide the clutter

Baskets with lids are a home-maker’s best friend. These ones that live underneath our coffee table are so useful for keeping our magazines and catalogues contained. I like to make sure there’s always some space in them so that I can gather up anything that’s lying around and shove it all in there in an ‘emergency tidy up’ situation. These were bought from Amazon but I have seen them in numerous other outlets.

Magazine rack for post

Magazine rack for post

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this magazine rack really pulls its weight when it comes to clutter busting. It is one of my most useful purchases ever. I try really hard to deal with paperwork as it comes through the door. I recycle anything we don’t need and quickly pop anything we do need in here within the relevant person’s file. I only deal with the files around once a month and they are not usually over-full in that time. The rack is from IKEA. We’ve just bought another one to organise our daughter’s school books – one pocket for each day of the week.

Stacking Fruit Baskets to free up worktop space

Stacking Fruit Baskets to free up worktop space

I know it sounds ridiculous but these stacking baskets have created lots of extra worktop space in our kitchen. They have a small footprint but stack up to hold lots of fruit. Previously, we had a large fruit bowl which, after grocery-shopping day was usually spilling its contents across the worktop. Now, all of our fruit sits happily in here. I bought them on Amazon.

Does anyone out there have any items that really help them keep the clutter at bay in their homes? I would love to hear about them in the comments. You can also get in touch via email at homeheartharmony@yahoo.com or follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

 

Home Tour

Whenever I stumble upon a new blog that looks exciting, the first thing I look for is that little button that says ‘Home Tour.’ I just LOVE a good nose around somebody else’s place whether it be in real life or just a virtual tour. I am very conscious of the fact that I haven’t yet posted a home tour and I feel it has been remiss of me not to invite you in to take a look around before now.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while and in my mind, I was planning to do the home tour when I got to my first blog-birthday but when that came, I was in the throws of embracing the new year and keen to have a look back over my year of blogging and reminisce.

If I’m honest, part of the reason I haven’t done a home tour yet is because, of course, lots of my home is not ‘visitor ready’! There are some areas that need lots of TLC to get them looking their best but with a year of renovations ahead, it’s likely the other areas won’t ever be looking any better than they are now while our attention is focused elsewhere so I may as well go ahead and share the whole shebang now and then, when we make changes and update, I will have great ‘before’ pics, right? I should probably preface this by saying, obviously, I knew you were all coming. I tidied up for you (and in some cases, I haven’t even done it that well!) My home NEVER looks like this. More often than not, it’s a mess. But that’s just part of family life isn’t it? There are some rooms that I love and some that I don’t like that much – yet! I feel like our home is always a work in progress and we will never really get to the end of it all. But that’s another story.

So, without further ado, won’t you come on in? Kick off your shoes and make yourself comfortable. Let’s start with a floor plan so you can get an idea of what you’re looking at.

The Ground Floor

The Ground Floor

The front door leads into a nice wide hallway. On the right side, double doors lead to the living room. The next door on the right leads to the den which leads through to the conservatory. All three rooms are linked via two sets of double glass doors.

Come on in!

Come on in!

Hallway looking towards the Front Door

Hallway looking towards the Front Door

The living room is probably my favourite place in the house. It is comfortable, calm and a really relaxing place to be. It’s warm in the winter and cool in the summer and if we’re all home, it’s the place we hang out together in the evenings.

Living Room

Living Room

 

The Living Room

The Living Room

The den is mostly used by the children. It has barely been touched since we moved in and it started life as our dining room. The dining area off the kitchen had a sofa area and a small table and chairs where we ate all of our meals so the dining room was only ever used if we had to seat more than just the four of us. Consequently, it became a bit of a dumping ground and we soon decided it was a complete waste of good space.

The Den leading through to the Conservatory

The Den leading through to the Conservatory

When the children were still young, my husband was always complaining that their toys took over the living room, so one day we decided to move the dining table into the kitchen and move the sofa from the kitchen into what would henceforth be referred to as ‘the den’. First, it was really just a play-room where the children played with their toys and generally made a massive mess. Then, as they got a bit bigger, it became more of a living room for them. We added a TV and got rid of the old sofa to be replaced by the two super-comfy chairs that were in our living room before we replaced them. Now-a-days, we have the X-box in there and it’s where our son plays his video games. It is well-used – and it shows!

We desperately needed to do something with this space but we have been hindered by the dreaded CONSERVATORY. (I wrote that in capitals so you could imagine it in a dramatic horror-film-trailer type voice.) The CONSERVATORY is through double-doors off the den. It is nothing but a pain. It’s too small to be useful, too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter, we have had to fix several roof leaks and the double glazing has stopped working so the windows are covered in a permanent (and very attractive) condensation.

It is the CONSERVATORY (o.k, I’ll stop now) that has prompted the renovations we are about to under-take. We thought about just replacing the windows and the roof but we knew we wanted to replace the kitchen too so we thought we should just go all-in and get everything sorted out at once. Note that I haven’t shared a picture of it, it’s too shabby and I can’t wait for it to be gone!

On the left of the hallway is the WC, then the stairs and finally the kitchen/dining room. There is a door from the back of the kitchen (just behind the fridge/freezer in the picture below) through to the utility room and then the garage.

Kitchen

Kitchen

The L-shaped kitchen/dining room (as it is now) make so much more sense with the large table in than the sofa we had before. We love this space and it has served us well but I can’t wait to make it even more amazing.

Dining Area

Dining Area

Dining Area

Dining Area

Through the back of the kitchen is the small utility room and under-stairs closet, followed by the garage (which looks absolutely nothing like this any more! Argh!)

Garage

Garage

The stairs curve around to the right and lead to an upstairs landing area which wraps back around the stairs.

Upstairs Landing

Upstairs Landing

Upstairs Floor Plan

Upstairs Floor Plan

Here is a floor plan of the first floor. Our bedroom is at the front of the house above the garage in a section that reaches further forward. Consequently, some of the room is in the eaves of the roof. I love this, it gives the space a bit of character and makes it look bigger than it otherwise would.

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom

We went for pink in the bedroom (amazingly, the hubby did not object when I suggested pink – I was expecting opposition.) I think it worked out well, I love how calm and peaceful this room is. It really is a retreat for me; my favourite spot when life gets crazy is sitting in that armchair with a book and a cup of tea. Ahhhhhh.)

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom – that’s a mirror leaning against the left wall!

The guest bedroom is not my favourite! When we bought the house, the people who lived here before had four boys so all the bedrooms other than the master were painted blue. When we moved in, we were terrified that we had bitten off more than we could chew financially so we needed to do all our updates on a  shoestring. In this room, we whipped around with a coat of paint and I bought some really cheap curtains from a mail order catalogue and paid for them weekly. Since then, we have done nothing apart from paint all the furniture white. We haven’t even got around to hanging a picture over the bed.

The most unimaginative room in the world?

The most unimaginative room in the world?

There is definitely potential in this room but if I’m honest, generally, it’s filled with piles of washing, ironing and paperwork. Does every home have a room like this? Please tell me it does?!

The Guest Bedroom

The Guest Bedroom

Our daughter’s room is at the back of the house which, because we are perched on a hill has views out over fields and then the town beyond. It’s south-facing so it gets lots of natural light and if she could only keep it tidy for more than five minutes it would be a real haven for her.

Bedroom 3

Bedroom 3

Bedroom 3

Bedroom 3

Also at the back of the house, the other side of the family bathroom, our son’s room has the same view but is slightly smaller. He does have the advantage of a wall of hidden storage though, which, in my opinion makes up for the difference in dimension. He’s not sure he agrees.

Bedroom 4

Bedroom 4

He is keen to move into the guest room and do a swap and we are happy for him to, but I’m trying to put him off until the ground floor renovations have finished as I’m imagining we will need to use the guest room as our makeshift kitchen/dining area while the work is done and the more space we have, the better!

That pretty much completes the home tour other than a quick peek in the garden which is just a patio and grass – perfect for a kick-around with the football!

The Garden

The Garden

We are not the green-fingered type I’m afraid. Our last house had a long garden edged by beautifully planted borders. We spent hours out there trying not to completely ruin it but I’m afraid the people who bought it from us may feel that we failed in our attempts!! I remember dreaming of a square of grass which required zero maintenance and what do you know? We found it!!

The Garden

The Garden

I hope you have enjoyed our little tour, it’s been lovely having you, I do hope you’ll call again! Until next time….xoxo!

All text and images are copyright Home Heart Harmony unless stated. Single images may be reproduced only if they remain in their original state and must be credited back to Home Heart Harmony with a link to the site. Failure to do so constitutes a copyright violation. 

Kitchen Dreaming

I was hoping to share with you today a completed Gallery wall but alas, we don’t have one yet. I have really struggled to get hold of frames that are not rectangular and I want some odd-shaped frames to add a bit of interest so I’m holding off until we are all well enough to travel further afield to find some. (Please let that be this weekend!) Then it will just be the small task of choosing pictures to go in the frames and actually hanging them on the wall! That’s a five-minute job right?!

So, since I have spent a fair amount of time this week researching kitchens, I thought I would share with you what we are looking for in our new kitchen.

I shared our current kitchen in this post and mentioned that it came with the house and whilst we didn’t love it, we certainly didn’t hate it. In our last house, we installed a new kitchen and we learned some things from that experience. (Like…. if you live in a smallish house, a new kitchen in boxes will take up the entire rest of your ground floor and you won’t be able to move for weeks….and….microwaving food in the bedroom isn’t that much ‘fun’.)

I’m trying not to think about how we will manage in this house during the building work (which will affect almost all of the ground floor!) but I know I will have to face it soon!

In the meantime, I’m only thinking about the exciting, shiny stuff! I have become an obsessive kitchen-stalker on pinterest, in magazines and on the websites of every kitchen supplier in the UK. I am the sort of person who knows exactly what they are looking for which often makes finding it more difficult. If you are open-minded, I imagine the process would be easier. I know I am going to have to make compromises but I’m really hoping we can get something close to the vision I have in my head.

So, here’s a run-down of what we’re after.

Units:

Inspiring - Kitchen Heaven at 'Sunny Side Up'

Inspiring – Kitchen Heaven at ‘Sunny Side Up’ [source]

I’m looking for cream or white units and I want a more classic, shaker-style door, probably with silver or black handles. My ideal scenario is solid wood doors like these

Solid wooden units are the dream but I fear our budget will not stretch

Solid wooden units are the dream but I fear our budget will not stretch [source]

but I think it’s highly likely that our budget won’t stretch. We will have to see. I’m particularly fond of the look of upper cabinets with glazed panels

Glazed panels in the upper cabinets are right up my street

Glazed panels in the upper cabinets are right up my street [source]

 I’m also considering adding some grey doors into the mix, possibly just on the island units but am concerned that they may date. We’ll have to see how brave we are feeling!

As a lower-budget alternative to solid wood, I am most drawn to the IKEA Metod/Bodbyn or Metod/Laxarby kitchen I met in person a few months ago. My daughter and I took a trip to IKEA to check out the kitchens and we were both lured in by the amazing storage options. IKEA just can’t be beaten when it comes to hidden storage. I took some quick (very poor quality pictures) on my phone to share with the hubby:

The Hidden Storage at IKEA was very alluring!

The Hidden Storage at IKEA was very alluring!

Having looked at kitchens elsewhere (that might be within our budget), I also like the look of the Cooke and Lewis Woburn and the Hygena Valetti Stone.

Worktops:

I love the look of dark granite worktops with the light units but again, we may be restricted by budget. Corian also looks like an attractive option and I have always loved the butchers block solid wood surfaces though having had them in our last home, I’m not sure about the maintenance involved in keeping them looking good. At the moment, I’m wondering if a mix of granite (or granite wrap-arounds) and wood might be the answer. Possibly one on the island and the other on the surrounding work surfaces. I think we need to do some more research about the pro’s and con’s.

Flooring:

At present, our kitchen has dark grey tiles and our breakfast room has medium oak coloured laminate. I have loved how practical the dark coloured tiles are – they don’t show up the dirt, or, more importantly, the dog hair! But, I hate how cold they are underfoot in the mornings. We have thought about under-floor heating but the problem with having a husband that works in the construction industry is that he gets to see all the good and the bad and he has encountered so many people who’ve had problems with their under-floor heating that he’s reluctant to make the investment only to find that it causes us a headache. The laminate is warmer underfoot and it is practical but all I can ever see when I look at it is dog hair blowing around like tumbleweed! I’m wondering if the answer to our problem is a darker coloured laminate which would hide the dirt as well as the dog hair!

We've never done dark floors before but I love the look and it would be so practical with our chocolate coloured pup!

We’ve never done dark floors before but I love the look and it would be so practical with our chocolate coloured pup! [source]

I also happen to love the look of it. Light units and dark floors are my idea of perfection!

Lighting:

In my mind, I’m thinking recessed ceiling lights along with some task lighting as well as two or three statement pendants over the island.

Now those are statement lights!

Now those are statement lights! [source]

I love the look of the industrial pendants that are fashionable now and I have found some great options all of which I love.

Love these lighting options

Love these lighting options – found at BHS, Next and John Lewis

More Lovely Lighting - swoon! Found at BHS, Next and John Lewis

More Lovely Lighting – swoon! Found at BHS, Next and John Lewis

Cooking:

Hubby is the chef in our house and he has his heart very definitely set on a range cooker. I have reservations but I don’t really have a leg to stand on when it comes to objecting. Plus, they look nice!!

Refrigeration:

We currently have a side-by-side American style fridge freezer which we will probably incorporate into the new kitchen. If it came to replacing it, I would probably go with something similar as it works well for us.

Dining:

I can’t imagine having much money left for a new dining set-up so again, we will probably stick with what we have. I am determined to get the rest of our chairs painted so we at least have something to sit on that doesn’t have dog-chewed corners which scratch your legs!

Tiles:

I am keeping an open mind about this. I think it’s a huge decision. I would love to think that I had the courage to go for something bold but I have a feeling we may end up playing it safe!! In the meantime, let’s all enjoy how gorgeous these tiles are:

Glorious tiles - can I be brave?! [source]

Glorious tiles – can I be brave?! [source]

More Glorious Tiles - These certainly make a statement! [source]

More Glorious Tiles – These certainly make a statement! [source]

 I should probably stop there as this post has already taken me waaaaaay to long to write due to the fact that I have been hopelessly distracted by gorgeous kitchens. I won’t be able to sleep tonight now for thinking about them! Must reign in the enthusiasm!!

I would love to hear your opinions on the options in the comments. Is anyone else out there planning a big kitchen update? I would love to hear about it. You can email me at homeheartharmony@yahoo.com or follow me on Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter. For those who’ve been asking, I’m planning to launch a ‘Home Heart Harmony’ Instagram page any day now so watch this space! Until next time…..xoxo!

Happy Blog Birthday to Me!

Happy New Year!! I hope 2015 is a year full of love, laughter and good health for all of my lovely readers. Thank you so much to every single person who has visited my little blog this year. I can’t believe it’s been a year since my first post! I am so thankful for each and every visitor. I’ve had a great year sharing my little adventures with you.

I thought this would be an ideal moment to have a look back over the last year and review the changes and updates we’ve made around here. When I started this blog, part of the motivation for doing so was to encourage the realisation of so many plans that have been knocking around my brain for years. I find that life has a way of forcing us to put many of the changes we have wanted to make on the back burner and I hoped that this blog would encourage us to knuckle down and get on with it. I think it has. I’m sure we’ve made more progress this year than we have in the past. Let’s take a little look back….

It all started back in January when we decided to add some much needed storage to the children’s bedrooms and get them organised.

Our Gorgeous Girl's newly updated bedroom

Our Gorgeous Girl’s newly updated bedroom

A more organised bedroom for our boy

A more organised bedroom for our boy

Later that month, we created our ‘Command Centre.’ It transformed the way we dealt with post and paper within our home and is still working its magic today. It’s definitely the update that has made the biggest difference to the amount of mess and clutter we have around our home.

Our Command Centre has been a game-changer

Our Command Centre has been a game-changer

In February, I tried my hand at spray painting and created a little nook in the corner of our breakfast room. It is still used by all of us on a daily basis whether it be by hubby to chat with the children while they do some crafts at the kitchen table, by me to have a quick cup of tea and make my lists for the day or by the kiddos to watch some TV after school. It’s a popular spot.

Our little kitchen corner

Our little kitchen corner

I also talked about the reward system we use with our children, the weekly planner that keeps me on top of all those ‘things to remember’ and ‘Decorating with Duck Egg‘ as we have done in our living room.

Our Duck Egg Living Room

Our Duck Egg Living Room

In March, I unveiled the full horror of our Garage Storage situation and told you about my plans to turn things around. I also up-cycled some boxes to use as garage storage,  threw a ‘Minecraft’ birthday party for our son and created a ‘Cleaning Schedule’ to attempt to keep on-top of that never (ever, EVER) ending task!

Boxes of Delight

Boxes of Delight

April was a quieter month and we had some time away as a family. I shared some of our favourite things to do in the school holidays and talked about how I pack my kiddo’s clothes for a trip to avoid ‘over’ or ‘under’ packing. Two potential disasters that should of course, be avoided at all costs!

In May, we finally finished sorting out that garage disaster-zone and I introduced you all to our lovely pup.

Our Garage Glee - We got there in the end

Our Garage Glee – We got there in the end

Then I got around to hanging some of our favourite Instagram prints in our ‘Instagram Gallery Stairwell’ which still brings a smile to my face on a regular basis.

Our Instagram Gallery Stairwell - We all agreed to ignore that filthy carpet back in May o.k?

Our Instagram Gallery Stairwell – We all agreed to ignore that filthy carpet back in May o.k?

I also talked about ‘Decorating with Pink’ as we had done in our master bedroom and confessed to having an illicit love affair - with my steam mop! 

Our pink master bedroom

Our pink master bedroom

In June, our daughter went away on her first school camp and I switched things up in her bedroom while she was gone to surprise her.

A Surprise Switcheroo

A Surprise Switcheroo

Then we had a lovely early summer ‘Garden Gathering’

A Garden Gathering

A Garden Gathering

which made us realise we needed to get ‘Grafting’ out there to spruce things up.

A bit of hard graft made such a difference in the garden

A bit of hard graft made such a difference in the garden

I also decided I needed to be more prepared for days out and created a little summer car-kit to make sure we didn’t get caught out on our trips.

I got uncharacteristically mushy in July and talked about my plans to carve out more quality time with my loved ones. We then threw a very girly birthday bash for our daughter and I ran my first ever give-away.

Bunting, lanterns and fairy lights made it a pretty party

Bunting, lanterns and fairy lights made it a pretty party

I finished the month off by tackling a serious clutter issue in the birthday-girl’s bedroom.

Clearing the Clutter

Clearing the Clutter

August saw us head off on our American adventure which I told you all about in two posts, one focussing on our time in New York and the other on our time chilling on the beautiful island of Hilton Head. I also made a little update to our Command Centre using stationery finds purchased in the US.

Command Centre Update

Command Centre Update

It was all hands back on deck in September and a busy month at work meant a quiet one on the blog but I did find time to make a quick update to some cheap IKEA magazine files to help us deal with all those brochures, catalogues and ‘works of art’ that needed a home.

Shiny happy....paint

Shiny happy….paint

In October, we had a big cupboard clear out in our son’s bedroom and got him organised for the new school year.

Cupboard Before and After

Cupboard Before and After

I also talked about ‘Decorating with Grey’ as we have done in our kitchen and shared my top ten tips for entertaining at home. I finished the month off by talking about Christmas preparations and shared my Christmas Gift list printable as well as my favourite apps to help get organised for the festive season.

Decorating with Grey

Decorating with Grey

I unveiled our big plans to renovate our ground floor in November as well as giving an old chair a new lease of life with some chalk paint and pretty fabric.

Dining Chair Update from Home Heart Harmony

Dining Chair Update from Home Heart Harmony

I also talked about plans for a Gallery Wall and looked at some inspiring examples.

December was a month of poorly people around these parts (mostly me!) and it was all I could do to get things ready for Christmas but I did pop in to wish you all a Happy Christmas and share a few of our festive decorations as well as some cute Christmas cards we just about managed to whip up.

Happy Home Heart Harmony Christmas

Happy Home Heart Harmony Christmas

Whew! We really did get stuff done! Looking back at all that has made me feel a little bit proud of myself and very slightly better about the fact that I achieved virtually none of my 2014 goals! Oops! Must do better in 2015!

The most amazing thing of all to me this year is that people are actually reading my ramblings! I am so loving writing and sharing and painting and planning and clearing and cleaning and I can’t wait to do more of it this year! Here’s hoping you all stick with me!! Thank you again for reading, it means the world! xoxo

A Happy Home Heart Harmony Christmas

Hurrah! It’s Friday! It’s been a long and very busy week and I’ve only made it this far thanks to the power of Lemsip! Despite a horrible cough and cold which has tried its best to stop us, Christmas has arrived in ‘Casa Parfitt.’ Last weekend, we observed our annual tradition of an early morning trip to the farm shop to choose our tree followed by a stop off at the cafe for a family breakfast. This year, we didn’t put our tree up straight away as we had plans with my parents, sisters, nieces and nephew to go to a stately home nearby for a Christmas day out. It was a really special day, one that will stay in our memories for a very long time. I do love Christmas and the opportunities it brings for magic!

We put our tree up on Sunday which, for a real tree, I still felt was a little early but with pressure from the kids (and husband!) I gave in and we had a lovely time decorating the house whilst listening to Christmas music (another tradition).

Happy Home Heart Harmony Christmas

Happy Home Heart Harmony Christmas

We have always ‘kept it real’ with our Christmas tree. My hubby has strong feelings about a real tree. I love the smell you get with a real one but I can see the benefits of going artificial. We do have a small artificial tree in our breakfast room but the big one in the living room is the real deal.

I think we can all agree that our Christmas tree isn’t going to win any awards in the style stakes(!) but I feel like the memories attached to this tree are so precious that I could never let them go just to have it tie in with the decor. This tree has been almost 20 years in the making! Each and every decoration has a special memory attached to it and this, for me is what Christmas is all about. Some of these decorations were bought for our first ever Christmas tree back in 1995, others were given to us by family members (some of whom are no longer with us), some were bought on trips abroad.

Christmas Ornaments

The handsome reindeer was given to my son when he was page boy at my sister’s Christmas wedding. The cinderella glass slipper was given to my daughter on the same occasion.

The gold glass bauble was bought on a memorable family trip to London and the ‘Hilton Head’ decoration was bought on our recent holiday to the US.

And no, before you ask, I don’t panic about whether the children are hanging everything symmetrically (though there may be a very small amount of post-bedtime re-arrangement!)

Christmas Tree 2

Bo has taken to curling up on the chair by the little tree. I think she feels it sets off her fur perfectly!

And what about our Christmas Mantel I hear you ask? (You did ask didn’t you?)

Our Christmas Mantel

Our Christmas Mantel

Obviously, I am using the the term ‘Christmas Mantel’ very loosely. There’s probably some infringement of the trades descriptions act at play here because all I’ve actually done is sling a glittery garland across a shelf but let’s go with it o.k?

We all have one more week of work and school to get through during which time I need to finish ALL of my Christmas preparations. We are looking forward to spending time with family and friends after that and I really want to enjoy those final days of Christmas build-up with the children instead of panicking about present wrapping and last minute shopping. Wish me luck!! (My intentions are always so good but the reality may not quite match up!)

Is everyone else getting there with their Christmas prep? I always feel like I (and infact, all parents) should be given some kind of award at the end of Christmas day which recognises the herculean task that has been achieved in reaching that great milestone without being reduced (very often) to a quivering wreck. (Hey, it could still happen. Give it time!) It’s the MOST wonderful time of the year! (Right? Am I right?!)

All text and images are copyright Home Heart Harmony unless stated. Single images may be reproduced only if they remain in their original state and must be credited back to Home Heart Harmony with a link to the site. Failure to do so constitutes a copyright violation. 

 

Reindeer Fingerprint Christmas Cards

After being a little ‘under the weather’ and unable to post over the weekend, I thought I would quickly pop in to tell you about these cute Christmas cards my sweet girl wanted to make. We had a window on Friday evening and after a quick scan of Pinterest for inspiration, we got cracking with these fun little festive messages for the family.

Reindeer Cards

There were a few examples of these on Pinterest (here and here and here to pick just a few) and we had been looking for something that used our fingerprints so these were perfect! We roped the boys in and everyone painted their thumb and printed on each card.

Everyone had to be involved!

Everyone had to be involved!

Once the paint was dry, we broke out the craft stash and found the ‘googlie’ eyes and teeny red pompoms and stuck them on each one. I drew the antlers and wrote a Christmas message from the family.

Adding the finishing touches

Adding the finishing touches

These were so easy to make and actually, we had a really lovely evening together doing them while listening to some Christmas music. I’m always tempted to make Christmas cards but realistically, I know it would just put too much pressure on at an already fraught time. So, we usually compromise by making cards for the family. Just enough to satisfy the creative urge without pushing me over the edge!!

Reindeer fingerprint cards

Reindeer fingerprint cards

Has anyone else been making Christmas cards? Send me a picture, I would love to see them.

All text and images are copyright Home Heart Harmony unless stated. Single images may be reproduced only if they remain in their original state and must be credited back to Home Heart Harmony with a link to the site. Failure to do so constitutes a copyright violation. 

 

Gallery Gazing

As I mentioned in this post, I have been wanting to create a gallery wall in our kitchen for some time now and over the last few months, I have been gathering up frames and pictures to give it a shot. If I’m honest, I’m a little bit nervous about it, as I don’t want it to finish up looking like a mess (which is highly possible!) I’m a big planner and I’m often planning things in my head for a long time before I actually take the plunge. Sometimes it takes months or even years to make those plans a reality but I never feel any kind of regret about that because, in my opinion, it always pays off to wait and think things through first when it comes to decorating decisions.

So, in keeping with this philosophy, and inspired to get on with it by the array of photos we took on our recent holiday, I’ve been busy researching gallery walls – placement, frame type, frame colour, style, etc. for a while and trying to decide what I like best and what would work best in our space.

Here are a few examples of different approaches to the gallery wall which have come up in my research:

Instagram Prints Gallery

Instagram Prints Gallery

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This one is a similar idea to the Instagram Gallery Wall I created in our stairwell. I love the uniformity of it and I love seeing our family pictures every time I run up and down the stairs but I feel like the wall in the kitchen will need a little more ‘personality.’ I’m looking for a more eclectic mix of frames and other items which I think will fill this larger space better.

Gold Gallery Wall from Classy Clutter

Gold Gallery Wall from Classy Clutter

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I loooooove this one. The gold frames, the mix of pictures, words, photos and mirrors. It is just what I’m going for but sadly, I don’t think the gold would match our colour scheme on this occasion. Still, definitely one to bear in mind for the future.

A Gorgeous Gallery From Bless'er House

A Gorgeous Gallery From Bless’er House

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This is one of my favourites. The use of different textures, shapes and sizes is so effective and I love the letters too. I adore the way the colour of the frames are slightly different but all still tones of a similar shade.

Gallery wall from Feather Nest Photography

Gallery wall from Feather Nest Photography

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This darling arrangement is another twist on a similar idea. I love the two-tone frames in different shapes and sizes and the colourful prints mixed in which add colour without overwhelming. It’s just so cute!

These are just a few of my favourites. There is a world of inspiration out there but I definitely have a clearer idea of what I’m going for now and I can’t wait to get going with my own Gallery Wall. I just need to get hubby on board as I think I may need some help with this one!

Has anyone else been making plans to get their family photos on display? I just love to be surrounded by pictures of our happiest memories don’t you?

P.S. You can see our Instagram Gallery Stairwell here.

 

Chalk Paint Chair Update

Dining Chair Update from Home Heart Harmony

Dining Chair Update from Home Heart Harmony

 

 

I’ve been getting busy with the paint brush again and I’m so pleased with the results, I couldn’t wait to share them with you. Earlier in the year, a lovely lady I had known my whole life passed away. The people clearing her house knew that I liked to ‘up-cycle’ furniture and I had a call to ask if I would like to do so with a set of six dining chairs which had belonged to her for years. I do love renovating old furniture but there is something particularly special about doing so with something that has a sentimental meaning for you. I thought the chairs were a lovely shape and we were desperately in need of new dining chairs since our pup did this to ours:

Our dog-chewed chairs are in urgent need of replacement

Our dog-chewed chairs are in urgent need of replacement

I have waited until now to do anything because I wanted to make sure the dog had finished her chair-chewing. Now, she hasn’t done any for some time, so I’m really hoping she wasn’t just waiting for new material!!

I started off with this:

Before

Before

 

I have been keen for a while to try chalk paint which I had seen around a lot on Pinterest. My Mum had used it to update some of her old pieces of furniture and it looked great and then last weekend, we had dinner at a friend’s and they had used it to paint one of their dining chairs which spurred me into action with ours. The paint I used was this Autentico chalk paint which was recommended to me as being good.

Autentico Chalk Paint

Autentico Chalk Paint

For anyone local, upon the recommendation of aforementioned Mum and friend, I purchased the chalk paint at Keeper’s Pre-Loved at Farrington Farm which is just down the road from me. The lady there was so lovely and helpful, she advised me how to use the paint and helped me with colour choice. She even opened tins of paint for me so that I could get a better idea of how they looked (and I didn’t even have to ask!) The paint is not cheap (I think it was around £25 for the tin and the wax) but I think the price is competitive with other suppliers and I quickly realised that the paint goes a long way. I have only painted one chair so far but I think I will quite easily get all six painted before I need to buy another tin.

You can use the wax and chalk paint to achieve a distressed finish but personally, I don’t like that look so I just used the wax as suggested to seal and give a smooth finish and I’m really happy with it.

Coat 1, 2 and 3

Coat 1, 2 and 3

The lady at Keeper’s Pre-Loved advised me not to panic when I put the first coat on. She said it would go on thinly and there would be brush streaks with the first coat which there were. She advised at least two coats and I finished up giving it three. The paint had quite a gritty (you might say ‘chalky’!!) texture and it was strange to start with. It did seem to dry very quickly although I left each coat overnight to make sure it had dried properly.

For the seat pad, I used some left over curtain fabric which I just cut to size and attached underneath using my staple gun. I love the fabric so much and it was SO easy to put on, I can easily replace it if it gets messed up. Here are some pictures (which are not great because the light has been so poor this week but we’ll get the idea. I’ll try to take some more pictures and update them if we get a brighter day.)

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All finished

All finished

 

So, now I just need to do the other five!! I will be sure to share with you again when all six are complete and ‘in situ’ I am on a roll now and determined to get all six finished before Christmas. Has anyone else been busy painting or ‘up-cycling’ this weekend? I would love to hear about it and see your pictures. You can get in touch by email (homeheartharmony@yahoo.com) or follow me on Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter.

P.S. You can see some of my previous painting adventures here and here.

Let’s talk Plans

Happy Sunday! It was a really miserable rainy day here yesterday but I secretly love a Saturday like this every now and then because it gives you the perfect excuse to hole up at home and either get all those pesky jobs done……or…..lounge around and do very little (my preferred option if I can get away with it!) Yesterday, I used the rain as an excuse to get some floor plans done on the computer for our extension which have got me into a state of high excitement!

As I mentioned in this post about our kitchen, we have plans for big changes to our ground floor. We have waited 10 long years to replace our kitchen and during that time, I have gone backwards and forwards a hundred times over what my dream kitchen would look like. It’s a big decision and one I still haven’t made, but I think I’m moving in the right direction.

Thanks to my plan-drawing activities yesterday, I definitely have a clearer idea about what the layout should look like. Here is what we have at present:

The Current Layout

The Current Layout

I used ‘Sweet Home 3D Format’ to create this drawing and it was really easy to use. I didn’t measure anything so it’s not to scale and it’s all just done on guess work but I think I’m pretty close to how it should look. The furniture etc. is just representative, there were no colour options or anything so we’ll just go with it.

At the moment, we have a small conservatory at the back of the house which we NEVER use. It is far too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter and it’s also too small to be useful for anything I can think of. It is joined by double glass doors to our ‘den.’ This room is well used. It is home to my piano (which won’t fit anywhere else in the whole ground floor) as well as my son’s Xbox and most of the children’s toys and games (the collection of which is rapidly reducing as they get older.) In the summer, we have to keep the double doors closed at all times otherwise, the den is also too hot to sit in.

My initial thought was to knock down the walls between the breakfast room and the conservatory/den and open up the whole back of the house but there were a few reasons why we have decided not to do this:

1. We really use the den a lot. It’s great to have a space where the children can take themselves off and play their games and make a mess and if need be, we can shut the door on it all and deal with it later. I think it’s always useful to have space that can be separated off and used for different purposes.

2. As the children get older, I’m sure they will want space of their own to hang out with their friends etc (away from hubby and I!) and I would feel better if this was somewhere on the ground floor so that they are still close to us and not cut off and shut away upstairs.

I’m sure we could create an amazing space at the back of the house if it was all open plan and we could install bi-fold doors and open it to the garden but I’m just not sure it would work with the way we live our lives. Here’s what we’ve come up with as a new layout:

New Layout

New Layout

We eventually made the decision to replace the conservatory roof with a ‘proper’ roof and square off the corner to create a bit more useable space. We will also knock the walls down between the current conservatory and den to open up the room.  We have thought carefully about how we use this area and how we would want to use it in the future and I came up with three main uses. The first is as a space for the children (and adults!) to watch TV, play games and computer games and generally lounge around. The second is as a place to play the piano or other musical instruments. The third thing I would love to add to this space is a desk area. At present, we all use our kitchen table for doing paperwork etc. I spend a fair amount of time working on the computer (for the blog and for work) and the children sometimes need help with their homework which entails them being closer to me or their Dad than they are in their bedrooms (which is where they do most of their school work.) By having a study/desk area in here, it means we can all be closer to the rest of the family while we work without cluttering up the kitchen table which has to be cleared off every time we want to eat.

In the kitchen, we are planning to push the external wall out to allow for a bigger kitchen as well as a larger laundry/mud room behind. You may have noticed that I have also snuck a ‘pantry’ into that space – I could just burst with excitement at the prospect of having a pantry!! I have also always dreamed of having an island unit in my kitchen and I am seizing this opportunity to make it happen! I am SO excited at the prospect of our new kitchen it’s ridiculous!

The current utility/laundry room is tiny and whilst it’s really handy to have it, the room is usually in a state of chaos because it’s just not big enough to house everything that needs to happen in there! This room is home to our cat’s food, bed and litter tray, it also houses our bags, coats, wellington boots, hats, scarves etc. It has a wall mounted shoe cabinet as well as a sink (which I can never get to) and cupboards which contain all of our laundry detergent, pet food, shoe cleaning equipment, cookery books, etc.etc. I could go on for ever!

At the moment, I take all of our clean laundry upstairs to fold and iron. In my dreams, this room will have an area for both of those activities so that I can simply take our ironed clothes upstairs to put away and we won’t have a spare bedroom full of laundry. I would love to incorporate a folding table and baskets for each person’s clean laundry which could be taken upstairs, emptied and returned. Something like this:

Screen Shot 2012-05-25 at 8.38.01 AM

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I would also love it if there were a place to keep all our boots so they are not just scattered around the floor. This room is also where we dry off the dog after muddy walks and it would be great to have a bit more space for that activity which is not easy in cramped quarters!!

In the kitchen, we have made space for that island unit as well as including large doors onto the patio and garden. We will keep a table in there as well as having a breakfast bar at the island so that we can still accommodate larger numbers for dinner or whatever. My husband is dreaming of a Rangemaster oven and I would love to have somewhere to house all his cookery books within the kitchen. We are gradually zeroing in on what we want for this space but it’s so hard to decide and I’m sure when we realise what everything costs, there will be compromises to be made!

So, that’s it. Our dream layout and plans for the next year or so. I am currently making a list of little extras I would love to incorporate such as a waste disposal unit, a space under the counter for the dog’s bed and an outside tap that runs warm as well as cold water. Is there anything else you can think of that we should include in our new plans? Is there anything you would change about this layout? I would love to hear your ideas and suggestions. I just can’t wait to get started with all this. Now all we need to do is find someone to do all the work!! Please contact me with your comments and suggestions in the comments or email me at homeheartharmony@yahoo.com. I would love to hear your ideas!

All text and images are copyright Home Heart Harmony unless stated. Single images may be reproduced only if they remain in their original state and must be credited back to Home Heart Harmony with a link to the site. Failure to do so constitutes a copyright violation. 

 

 

 

Christmas Preparations

Happy Halloween! I can’t believe it’s the end of October already! Where has this year gone? We have had a lovely half term week but it’s gone waaaay too quickly. We had fun carving our pumpkins last night and I’m actually quite enjoying the snuggly evenings now that the clocks have gone back.

Tree

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As it’s November tomorrow, I thought it might be ok for me to mention Christmas?! It’s certainly on my mind now and although I ban Christmas music and films in our house until 1st December, I definitely need to be thinking about Christmas gift shopping and preparation. I love to embrace the festive season during December and I always feel that thinking about Christmas too early spoils the excitement of the build up.

I used to keep all Christmas activities on hold until 1st December but since becoming a Mum, I am acutely aware of the huge amount of preparation that is needed before the big day and every year I promise myself that next year, I will start planning earlier.

This time around, I would like to think that I could get most of my gift-buying done by the end of November so that we can relax a bit and just enjoy December. I created a template last year to help keep track of present buying and budget. Here is a FREE DOWNLOAD for you to help you do the same this year. (Click the link underneath the picture).

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Christmas Present List

This list really helped me last year. I started using it just for present ideas but when I actually started shopping, I was able to keep a track of what I had actually purchased as well as the amount of money I had spent on each person (something which I can easily lose track of!) In some cases, I bought more than one gift so I left the lines wide to enable me to record each one within the same area.

I am a very visual person and I find the action of writing things down helps me to remember them which is why I find this type of list so useful. However, I do understand that some of you will prefer to use technology to keep track of things so here are a few of my favourite FREE Christmas apps to help you stay organised over the festive period.

 

mzl.kqmcalndSanta’s Bag

This app allows you to make lists of your gift recipients and keep track of your spending as you buy presents for all of them. You can set an overall budget and it even enables you to change the status of each gift as you purchase and wrap them up as well as emailing lists of things you still need to buy. You  can even add a password to stop little noses from seeing all your secret gift ideas!

 

NoMoreSocksLogoNo More Socks

This app enables you to use it year-round to create and update lists of gift ideas for all your friends and family. You can create events, add people and presents as well as go online shopping to save links and photographs. The app also enables you to get gift inspiration from other users and share your gift ideas with the ‘No More Socks’ community.

 

imagesManage Christmas

Another similar app which allows you to budget, keep lists, track ideas and record purchases. There is also a Christmas gift ideas section to give you inspiration for those ‘difficult customers’ (We all have those, right?)

 

 

And once all the serious business has been taken care of, here are a few more fun ones to get you and your little ones into the festive spirit!

imagesNORAD tracks Santa

We have been following Santa on the NORAD website for a few years now and my kiddo’s always get SO excited to follow his journey around the world. Now you can follow using their app to track Santa’s progress on the NORAD radar! (Available from 1st December).

 

 

unnamedInstaCard

Use your instagram photos to create cards for your loved ones. Choose from over 60 card designs and 55 creative frames and add text in a variety of fonts and colours. There are also stickers to add a touch of fun and you can use your photos as backgrounds if you wish. This app can be used year-round.

 

 

imagesMartha Stewart Craft Studio

This app enables you to create and order cards to be delivered to your door featuring your own photographs and ‘virtual glitter.’ There are four free themes and more are available with an additional cost. You can also print at home or share via email, Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

Hopefully, once you’ve downloaded the Christmas list and all these fantabulous apps, we’ll all be well on our way to being organised and ready to tackle our Christmas shopping! Is anyone else planning to get started with their Christmas prep? I would love to hear about it. Don’t forget, you can contact me by email (homeheartharmony@yahoo.com) or follow me on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.