Monday, 23 July 2012

Barn Renovation: Ceiling Inspiration

I am so excited about the barn renovation project we are working on right now because this will be the new home of West Egg Interiors. There will be a showroom downstairs with a studio workshop and office space upstairs. At the moment I'm looking at the type of ceiling to have in the upstairs area of the barn. I want it to be really light and airy so I'm keeping the colours simple and fresh although no final decision as yet. In general, decision making is proving to be a real challenge. I want to get it "right", even though I'm not sure what that is, and I am overwhelmed with the choices available. I don't know whether to keep the beams exposed and natural, exposed and white, boarded up with the main ones exposed? There are so many options. I've been collecting some ideas on Pinterest, some of which I've posted below. I'd love to know your view, what do you think we should do? 

Image: Carrier & Co

Very simple and clean with the main beams left in their natural wood. I also really like the window treatments, but let's not get into that now. 

Image: Heritage Barns

I love this but I think it's too dark, especially as the upstairs is single storey.  

Image: Home Design 2 You

This sliding grey door is such a great statement.

Image; My Lovely Things

LOVE this, perfectly light and airy. This is pretty much my perfect idea of a work space. 

Image: Room Seventeen

These grey tones are wonderful, I just find this image calming - might be good for a work space too. It's decision time soon as things are starting to happen quite quickly so post a comment to let me know what you think. 

Friday, 20 July 2012

My Top 5 Home Renovation Blogs

I've realised I've become really preoccupied with the new house and renovating it in just the last week. After months of not letting myself get too excited, telling myself "don't think about", "don't jinx it", I now feel like I can really let off steam and get stuck into the research for the project. 

Researching insulation for the barn is not that interesting to me but it's such a necessary and vital part of the barn that we have to get it right. So I have to be interested. I'll keep you posted on how that goes...

When I'm not researching insulation methods, I like to read about other people's renovation projects. I suppose I'm just really nosy, but I want to know how other people did things, did they work, what went wrong, what was the lowest) point, what did it feel like when it was finished, do they love it, would they do it again. You get the picture. I thought I'd share with you the 5 blogs I am obsessed with right now that cover home renovation projects:

Image: Young House Love

Sherry and John are two self-confessed DIY geeks whose story of transforming their first home and now their second home is truly inspiring. They blog about everything to do with their projects, ideas, inspiration, tips, home life, family, it's an amazing resource and they are bringing out a book later this year. Excited.

Image: The House Directory

Honestly, I don't know what I would do without the The House Directory. It is such a brilliant resource of just about everything you could possibly need in the world of interiors. I love their blog for the latest fresh finds. 

Image: Katy Elliott

Katy and her husband have been renovating their 260 year old house in New England for the last few years. I've been following her blog for at least 2 years, maybe longer and it's brilliant. She is so inspiring, honest and takes everything in her stride. 

Image: Mad About The House

Kate Watson-Smyth is an incredibly well respected freelance journalist and her relatively new blog Mad About The House has already gathered a huge following. She shares details of her own house renovation project in London in witty and searingly honest blog posts that make you think it's all going to be okay. I also love 365 Objects of Design. For one year she posts a daily suggestion for household accessories that will enhance your home. 

Image: Bower Power

Katie Bower is just so funny, her blog is so funny, even her "about" page is funny. I kind of get lost reading all the old posts from time to time. You know you've found a good blog when you spend at least an hour just surfing through the old posts. I think that's what I like so much about blogging, it's a series of in-the-moment thoughts on something whereas books and magazines can sometimes be edited to within an inch of their life.

3 of the 5 blogs above are run by women called variations of the name Katy. What's that about? Hmmm. I don't have time to ponder that though as I'm off to rip out some more cupboards, and today we might actually be able to get the front door open after removing the ivy. Fingers crossed. You can follow my progress over at Nest Egg by clicking here

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Love This! Giffords Circus

Firstly, I'm sorry I've been slightly MIA the last little while. We completed on the house and work has started already so there has been lots to do (read about here) and what with West Egg, various people coming/going/staying and a weekend away in the Cotswolds squeezed in, I just haven't had the time and/or access to my laptop. But I'm back and I have something so fun to share with you. I was invited by some friends to join them at the circus last Saturday and it was brilliant, just brilliant.    

Giffords Circus is a traditional small touring circus set up by Toti and Nell Gifford just over 10 years ago and they move locations around the South West of England each week.  We saw them when they were set up at the Trout Inn in Lechlade which is a lovely part of the country and a fantastic pub with wonderful staff and delicious food, I really recommend it. 

I loved the set design so much, it was the perfect backdrop for this kooky circus. The set was designed by Louisa Birkin, what a cool name :) Seriously though, she is one talented lady and you can see her progress on her blog by clicking here. 

So, anyway back to the circus. It is so fun in the most old school way possible, just rowdy, happy, musical, noisy fun. It was packed out with adults and children with everyone roaring their heads off laughing, especially one little boy on the front row who laughed so hysterically it distracted the clown from his act. 

The show itself is packed full of entertainment, I don't want to give too much away in case you get a chance to go and see it but the acrobatics were breath-taking and there is a seriously amazing dog!

Circus Sauce serves interval drinks and freshly baked cakes and they have an evening service so you can have dinner after the show. They have literally thought of everything and I love their personalised Emma Bridgewater crockery. It is so refreshing to see massive pots of tea being made rather than those big cylindrical hot drink dispensers. They get it right on every front.

One last thing is the band are incredible and the costumes they wore are just so wonderfully eccentric and fabulous, it makes you want to run away and join the circus. Wouldn't that be amazing?

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Rural French Heaven

I'm so fed up with this rain in England, it's July for goodness sake. When will this end?! All the magazines out at the moment have glorious summer photographs and I was especially taken with Homes & Gardens feature on the development of an old olive oil mill in France by interior designer Marie-Laure Helmkampf

Wow, wow, wow. It's in the August issue and I urge you to grab a copy while you still can, it is so inspiring. Or check out the website by clicking here, it's just incredible. I snapped the photos below straight from the magazine and saved them in instagram. 

I love the way they have given this rural historical building a new lease of life with an urban edge. I am completely memorised by the windows, they make the space feel so open and calm. It's just lovely, and about a million miles away from the rainy summer here. Oh well, hopefully August will be better :)

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Creating a Fresh Vintage Look: Mason Jar Lanterns

We recently sourced some fabulous vintage mason jars for West Egg's online homewares store. We had such a good time styling them for the photoshoot I wanted to share them as I think they are the perfect way to create a fresh vintage look and bring a bit of charm and character. Plus, I love the way they are so multi-purpose...lanterns, vases, desk storage, kitchen storage, lighting....I'll stop now, you get the picture. 

We used simple galvanised wire to make the handles which was fairly straight-forward. I used the ribbon from our West Egg gift wrapping supply to tie round and disguise the wire and then tied simple bows on the side. Finally, we added tea lights and lit them using some super-long matches (short matches don't work). These would look lovely as part of a vintage wedding theme, either on tables or hanging outside in the trees. 

I think they also look great as little flower vases, very understated and laid-back. I really like how the metal rings have tarnished slightly with age. These are all from the 1930s so they have been around the block a few times but I love it that even mason jars can express their individuality!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Restored: Antique Blanket Box

I don't have a huge amount of time to post today as it's been one of those days where the time flies by so quickly. But I do just have time to share the photographs of a really lovely 19th century blanket box that was finished yesterday. 

It's rare to find a blanket box with as much character as this one, I absolutely love it and when we photographing it this morning for West Egg, Alf jumped in and made himself at home. 


I'm off now to entertain my adorable 2 year old nephew who is part of the reason why time has flown by today and organise some bits and pieces for tomorrow. Have a good evening everyone!

Monday, 9 July 2012

Ask West Egg: How to Write a Press Release

I recently had an email query from a friend of mine who runs an antiques business and she asked me how I wrote my first press release for West Egg. I'm not ashamed to admit that I called or emailed just about every person I knew in marketing and asked for advice, tips, what-to-do, what-not-to-do etc, and even then, there are so many things I got spectacularly wrong.

I know there are readers of this blog who are also running small businesses so I thought it would be useful to put together a quick guide on how to go about writing a press release and why it's so important to get it right. However, since I'm not the expert in this field, I got in touch with Serena Fokschaner, founder of Good Coverage and freelance national-press journalist specialising in design and interiors.

Over to Serena...

One of the perks of my job is meeting and interviewing designers, makers and creative types. I love trawling the trade shows and fairs and discovering exciting new work and hearing the stories behind each product. During my chats I am often asked how do I go about getting media coverage - be it on favourite blogs or in newspapers. This is often a problem for smaller or new businesses who can’t afford to hire a PR. The answer is quite simple. To kick off with you need a good press release and after that you need to know the various strategies needed to get your release read.

To get you started, here are few tips on writing your release: 

Find Your Story
It sounds basic but it’s amazing how many businesses and creative types bury the most interesting aspect of their story in a welter of uninteresting facts. There are lots of ways and techniques you can use to hone your narrative, all it takes is a bit of know how.

If you’re approaching bloggers or journalists timing is everything; send your release in at the wrong moment, ie too early or too late, and your email might be consigned to the junk file.

From choosing the right jpeg size to the delivery method, pictures can determine whether your story is included or relegated to the bin. One insider tip is to avoid downloads wherever possible; journalists and bloggers can receive up to 300 emails a day and simply don’t have the time to faff about logging in to sites to download images.

Above all, avoid journalese and other clich├ęs: words like uber, wunder or go-to should never be seen on a press release.

A really lively, sit-up-and read me press release is an invaluable business tool – flaunt it on your trade stand, send it to journalists or bloggers or lift out chunks for marketing. It’s truly multipurpose!

Even in an age of Twitter, Facebook and instant messaging every business needs a really sharply-crafted release. A release is after all, your story; it’s the narrative that makes you compelling.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Serena Fokschaner was inspired to create Good Coverage following a workshop she devised for The Prince’s Trust where she also volunteers as a business mentor. This concentrated masterclass offers an insider perspective on the two most challenging aspects of public relations: writing a release and ensuring that it gets read.

To find out more visit Good Coverage

Friday, 6 July 2012

Some news...

A little Friday afternoon news update for you lovely readers as I have some very exciting news and I've been waiting for a few months to share it. My husband and I have exchanged on our first home, an 18th century cottage with a barn in a lovely village in Bedfordshire.

Sounds wonderful doesn't it? Well, it is a complete wreck and is a big renovation project which will be ongoing for the foreseeable future. The barn will be the new HQ for West Egg which I personally can't wait to get started on and create a really inspiring workspace. 

It is scary and nerve-wracking and amazing all at the same time. I'll be blogging about most of the project over on the Nest Egg blog  but I'm sure there will be decorating and design dilemmas galore to discuss on here too.

To give you an idea of what kind of state the property is in, the photograph below is just inside the front door.

Have a good weekend everyone (and come on Murray!)


Thursday, 5 July 2012

An Afternoon in London

I was in London yesterday afternoon so I thought I'd share a few little gems I stumbled upon as I made my way to meet a friend for lunch. My meeting was on Kendal St in Connaught village which is super fashionable and really charming, it was the first time I'd been in that area of London so I glad to have a bit of time to explore. Thankfully the rain held off too and it felt amazing to see the sun out after so long :)

Prewitt Miller on Connaught St had a fabulous display outside the shop which filled the air around it with a heady blend of perfumed flowers. 

The Dresser on Porchester Street opened in 1986 by stylist Sally Ormsby and specialises in high end contemporary and couture designer women and menswear. All second hand! It is a lovely store, really light and airy and a treasure trove of clothing, footwear and handbags without the hefty price tags.. 

I popped into Selfridges for a quick look around and then as I headed up the street to Wagamamas I spotted this window display which made me stop and stare. 

It's a collaboration between Paul Smith + the Charming Baker for Britain Creates. Entertaining and made me wonder how long it took to set all those mouse traps.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Styling your home with Feng Shui the Urbanara Way

A couple of days ago I was sent these beautiful images from Urbanara and just had to share them with you all. They have also put together a really interesting guide which you can download featuring cool tips and quirky facts about feng shui and the colours associated with the various elements. Like, did you know yellow can cause nausea which is why you'll never see it in an aircraft design? I would always associate white as a sign of peace but in China it's a sign of mourning. Red can you make you feel hungry while green doesn't. It's really a fun read so do take a look. 

I love to see linens folded and piled up, very orderly, simple and charming. 

This beautifully styled bed is so inviting...I love how the distressed old wall behind gives such a brilliant contrast to the crisp white bedsheets.

I could definitely take a bath here, what a peaceful setting. Wood is represented by the colour green and according to Feng Shui aids development and growth, creation and creativity. 

The team at Urbanara are a pretty cool bunch because they've put together some really beautiful collections of homewares but without a massive price tag. And to help things even more they have offered West Egg blog readers a £15 discount on all orders over £50 for the next two months - just use voucher code POILK238. Thank you Urbanara!

Have a great day everyone, it's drizzling here and I'm heading into London shortly for work appointments but I do have time at lunch to see an old friend who has recently moved back to England. So excited to catch up with her and we're heading to Wagamamas for ramen which I love too. Bye!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The Importance of Being Idle

I had an email from a friend last week who is in a similar boat to me and running her own business. She asked me how I stay motivated every day when there isn't a boss telling me what to do and when to do it by. Running a start up business on you own can be really tough and this is one of the challenges. Don't worry, I'm not about to embark on some waaah waah post about how hard life is, so stick with me...

Because actually, my life isn't hard at all.  I enjoy my job and I like all the really great things I get to do, every day is different and I decide what's what. It's not perfect obviously, nothing is, and stuff goes right and stuff goes wrong. That's okay with me.

I realised all this over one weekend a few months ago when I was idle. I am not an idle person. I like to be busy and doing stuff and if I'm in London for the day I'll cram as much as I can in and see as many people as I can. At home I like to potter around and do stuff, and fiddle and faff about. All the time. 

I've always done this. I work all day, sometimes amazingly productively, sometimes not, but I'll always be trying. I work in the evenings and I work weekends (although I do try not to do this all the time). I once made my husband spend an entire Sunday sorting out receipts. I tried to make it fun. It wasn't. 

Anyway, so I saw this feature on Maria Forleo's website a few months ago and thought I'd give it a go. The title was "What to do when you doubt everything + don't wanna get out of bed". Pretty compelling. 

We all have days when we feel blah about everything, whatever job we're doing, I know this! But one of the really challenging things about running a business that you've started from scratch is doubting:- doubting yourself, your abilities, your decisions, your choices etc. It affects your motivation because all the doubt drains your focus. And you need focus to get stuff done. 

So, Maria's advice is basically don't get out bed. There is clearly a reason you feel like this and you're probably burnt out. Well, I have to get out of bed because I need to feed the dog and then take him outside (you don't need details).

But then I spent an entire day doing nothing. My husband was away on an exercise so I was on my own and I completely switched off. It was amazing. I slept, drank lots of tea, watched rubbish TV, took the dog on some nice walks and didn't go near my computer or study or workshop all day. It was relaxing and lovely and the day after I was raring to go again.

I often hear or read about how we are so plugged these days - to our phones, computers, ipads, ipods - it's all so distracting. So I told my friend to take the day off away from everything and see what happens. I'd be interested to hear what keeps you motivated and how you deal with those moments, not just so I can pinch them either :)

Monday, 2 July 2012

Interiors Style: Old and New

Good morning! Does anyone else think the weekend went really quickly and now we're in July, I can't actually believe it. I know lots of you readers are in the UK so you'll know what I mean when I say how relieved I am that the sun actually came out the last few days and stayed out! It's looking gloomy and rainy here for today though so I thought I'd share something that brought a bit of virtual sushine into my world.

A few months ago I wrote a post called Is Old the NEW New? and I featured an image from Emily Gilbert who is an incredible interiors photographer from New York. Emily is so talented and I read recently that her personal style is rustic meets modern, totally up my street.

Mixing old and new is how I love to decorate and I think lots of people do too. I  love the interest, stories and charm of old pieces and if you mix that with the fresh, clean look of modern pieces I think what you get is a really simple and eclectic style shining through. I sought out the image by Emily over the weekend to take another look at the dining table which I recalled falling in love with first time around. While I was on her website I saw so many other inspiring images that I just had to share them. Emily has kindly given me permission to use these images so take a look.

This is definitely my cup of tea. I am in love with that dining table and the wide, polished wooden floorboards. It all looks so comfortable and elegant.

How relaxing does this bedroom look? I could just curl up with a good book and be lost for hours. I love the vintage doors made into a headboard and the limed wicker basket. So simple and cosy. 

The styling here is just wonderful, so simple with little pops of colour here and there but nothing too attention-grabbing. It's low key and looks like a really chilled out room to work in. 

That little burst of turquoise from the artwork on the mantelpiece and the stunning flowers really  make this room for me, and give it a lovely laid-back luxe feel. I love the dramatic fireplace too, it creates a really neat focal point.

Right! Back to work. We have a bit of a road trip on for today as we're heading over to see some of my favourite antiques and vintage dealers to pick up some new stock. Just need to get Alfie, some coffee and we're off. Have a great Monday!

All images used with kind permission from Emily Gilbert.

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