We all love a bargain no matter how much or little money we have. I do live by the moto ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ most of the time, however, if you gave me £1000 to… More
Spring has sprung and it’s time to start thinking about summer, which means summer holidays, summer clothes and swimwear.
I’ll admit it now, a few weeks ago I panicked and thought I’m not ready for summer. My skin is as white as Casper, in fact it’s so white it’s almost transparent. I’m definitely too overweight to feel comfortable in summer dresses and don’t even get me started about putting a bikini on.
After having a children my body confidence has dropped dramatically. I have a belly roll that I can’t see to shift, my boobs have gone south and anything that can give those things a help in hand is welcomed with open arms!
Last year I discovered an amazing vintage inspired swimwear brand called For Luna Swimwear. When I browsed their website I was like a kid in a sweet shop, choosing my favourite was near on impossible.
For Luna not only sell ridiculously flattering all in one swimsuits, they do two piece bikinis and accessories too.
When I chose my first swimsuit from For Luna I picked the cherry all in one and I couldn’t wait for it to arrive. I never in a million years anticipated it would be such outstanding quality. It had boning, support, and most importantly it really flattered my post baby body. I felt amazing in it.
Now when I go swimming with my boys I don’t panic about getting my body out. I actually feel confident in my swimsuit which is something I never thought would happen without a tummy tuck and a gym membership.
Now I have two swimsuits from For Luna and I can’t wait to wear my new green one on the spa day we have booked once my broken leg has healed!
In case you haven’t already entered, in running a giveaway on my Instagram page @iamhayleystuart. All you need to do is follow myself and For Luna, like the post and tag three friends to be in with a chance to win a For Luna swimsuit of your choice!
Competition ends tonight (sun 19th) at 8pm! Don’t miss out!
Until next time
If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know I love a bit of arts and crafts, in particular upcycling.
If you have been living in a cave and have no idea what I’m talking about then you should probably know that upcycling is extremely popular these days and it basically means taking an existing item and turning it in to something else. Whether that means keeping the item in tact and just using it for another purpose or turning it in to something else.
I do a lot of upcycling for a number of reasons. I enjoy being creative and love taking on projects. It makes my home look unique and I love that something old can become something new.
I’ve done a lot of upcycling around my home, both simple and difficult so I thought I’d share some with you…
Luckily my husband is a scaffolder so scaffold boards (yes boards, not planks) are easy for me to come by, but if you don’t know any scaffolders then eBay or gumtree are a great place to start. Scaffold boards make excellent shelves, and can create anything from a rough rustic look, to a polished, stained look. You could even sand and paint them.
I also made a shelf from a plank of wood from home base, drilled a hole in each corner, threaded rope through and knotted it and then attached to a picture rail above our bed using picture rail hooks. I won’t lie, the first night I thought it might be ‘death by terracotta pot’ but it’s been up for a couple of months and hasn’t killed us yet!
In our downstairs loo, that I never photograph because it’s just plain boring, I turned a Mason jar in to a light. It was easy to make and ridiculously cheap. I got a Mason jar for about £1 from homebargains, made a hole in the top for the light fitting, along with a few little holes to let the heat out, and attached it. Easy!
Ikea furniture is so easy to upcycle, it can be as simple as changing the knobs on a chest or drawers, or giving it a lick of paint.
In our bedroom we have a large chest of hemnes drawers. I wanted to give them a bit of a makeover so I bought some marble self adhesive from Homebase and covered the top. I have to say it was reasonably easy and extremely effective.
I was looking for some side tables to go either side of the bench in the dining room when I came across some vintage tea chests on gumtree. They were only £5 each, so I gave them a clean, stained them, turned them upside down and whacked some lamps on them!
Painting vintage furniture is probably the most popular way to upcycle something, which I have done a fair bit of. Annie Sloan chalk paints are great for upcycling, and if you want to put a bit more graft in then farrow and ball works amazingly too!
You may have seen my kitchen tiles that I recently have a makeover to using tiles stickers. I was apprehensive at first but once I got going I couldn’t believe the transformation. They have made the kitchen look completely different!
In my son’s room my mum transformed a duvet cover in to a tepee. Always try to see the possibilities with fabric, it doesn’t have to be on a roll to make things with it.
Most recently I made this plant stand out of copper pipe! I got the tutorial from Pinterest and it was really easy!
I hope I have inspired you to get creative and think outside of the box!
Until next time
Last week I was lucky enough to be invited along to a Fashion styling event hosted by a lovely lady called Melissa Murrell at a very cool boutique in Stockbridge, Hampshire called Hero. You can visit Hero’s online store here.
Melissa Murrell runs her own styling company as well as a styling academy for aspiring stylists, teaching you about the rules of styling different body shapes and how to create a dream career from your passion for fashion. Find out more here.
The event I attended gave me an insight of what Melissa can offer. As a fashion lover I already knew some of the things we spoke about from watching years of Trinny and Susanna and Gok Wan, but one thing I did realise was that I wasn’t applying the knowledge I had gained to my own body shape. I was in fact just buying things I loved rather than buying things that flatter me. It has certainly made me think about how to compliment my shape.
Melissa explained about all the different body shapes and how some people can be a combination of two. We looked at different items of clothing and what is and isn’t flattering. She told us about how she had changed clients lives and given them not only the confidence to wear well styled outfits but the confidence to enjoy shopping again.
If you LOVE fashion and would love to embrace a flexible, rewarding career in fashion Styling then please check out Melissa’s courses here . They are only three days and you’ll be a qualified stylist on completion! Sounds good to me!
Here I am again, with yet another room makeover. Change is something I’ve always loved, so giving a room a new look is something I really enjoy doing.
I only gave our bedroom a makeover last January and embraced 2016’s ‘botanical’ interior trend, however I never actually finished the room so by the time I got round to doing that I had other ideas buzzing around in my head.
I had been hunting for one for ages and after watching about a hundred on eBay I took the plunge and bought one to go at the end of our bed.
Firstly I created a mood board, which is something I do with all my rooms, so that I can get an idea of the final look and feel.
I love neutral bohemian style bedrooms with statement Persian rugs and used that’s trend as part of my inspiration. My other inspiration was a big trend for 2017 ‘all things natural’ which inspired me to choose natural wood, baskets, and different textures for the textiles.
The first thing I did was paint the room white, it was magnolia before which I personally don’t like. By painting it white, it brightened the room as well as creating a blank canvas.
I saw a £40 bamboo light on the ikea website that I thought would be perfect for the room, however after I drove all the way there, it was out of stock so I had to rethink.
Then I walked past a basket and I had a brain wave! I picked it up, turned it upside down and thought I can totally make that in to a lightshade! When I got it home I made a hole in the top and attached it to the light fitting. Not only does it look great, but it only cost me £9! Bonus!
Another thing I got from Ikea was their infamous ‘steps’.
Instead of using them as steps, I have used them as a bedside table.
I wanted to put a shelf above the bed but without any wall damage. We are lucky enough to have a picture rail around the room to hang things from. So I decided to make a shelf using a plank of wood and rope.
I got a natural wood plank from Homebase which was about £10, drilled a hole in each corner, threaded some rope through (also from Homebase) knotted the ends and secured to the picture rail using picture rail hooks.
I bought quite a few throws for the bed, all different textures and patterns. I am so in love with my real sheepskin from a local shop ‘La di da’ it is so soft and is a great addition to the room. You can visit their homeware website here.
Obviously I had to keep my suitcase shelves from Urban Outfitters, as they go so well in the room.
That gorgeous gold vase is from eclectic homeware company Tin Design who have just launched some amazing bohemian products. Check their website out here.
Another thing I’ve kept is my beautiful macrame wall hanging from ‘Brintage’ you can find all of Amy’s masterpieces on Instagram @shopbrintage.
I really really wanted a reclaimed vintage bench for the end of the bed. It seems they are hard to come by so I ended up settling for one from ikea. My husband absolute hates it as he keeps banging his leg on it as he walks by. I’m sure he’ll get used to it, if not I’ll get him some shin pads! 😂
I got loads of plants from ikea as well, definitely the best place to get them from. Personally I don’t feel like a room is finished without flowers or plants, so I really went to town.
I hope you’ve enjoyed having a look at my bedroom makeover.
Let me know what you think on here or Instagram.
If you want to know where something is from that I haven’t mentioned, please let me know.
Until next time
It was my 32nd (I can’t believe that) birthday on 2nd January so as a treat my husband arranged for us to go to Charlton House in Shepton Mallet, Somerset.
Charlton house is part of the Bannatyne hotels, and in my and a lot of other people’s opinion, without a doubt the best one!
You can check out their website here.
My husband booked our spa break package through buy a gift, which included an overnight stay, a 55 minute spa treatment each, use of all the facilities, a 2 course dinner and breakfast in the morning. If this sounds like something you would enjoy then you can book it here.
We actually did the same thing for my birthday last year and loved it so much we agreed to return for my birthday this year. Last year, upon arriving at Charlton House we were greeted by a very friendly and attentive receptionist who showed us to our room. As we entered the room we were pleasantly surprised to hear we had been upgraded to the delux double.
You can check out all of the rooms at Charlton House by clicking here.
This year, we arrived early before our treatments and before our room was ready so we decided to have lunch in the restaurant.
I chose the vegetarian option and it was exquisite!
After we had eaten our lunch it was time for treatments! I opted for a facial and back and neck massage which lasted 55 minutes in total. The beauty therapists were so professional and made us feel so relaxed.
After our treatments we went back to reception to see if our room was ready.
The lobby was still decorated with Christmas decorations and looked festively beautiful.
I particularly loved the hot air balloon chandelier at the top of the staircase, and was in awe of all the vintage Persian rugs dotted about the building.
But how wrong we were! Our jaws hit the floor as we were shown in to a superior room with a grand four poster bed and a roll top bath at the foot of it! Thank you Charlton House!!
The view from the room was beautiful and private.
On the bed were robes for us to wear whilst using the spa facilities as well as complimentary slippers, so we got changed and headed to the pool.
The spa is Moroccan themed and genuinely makes you feel like you’re on holiday. The swimming pool is primarily indoor but has a section that is outdoor too, which you can use all year round thanks to the water being heated! There is also a hot tub outside.
After chilling in the spa we headed back to our luxury room to get ready for dinner. Obviously I jumped straight in the roll top for a soak!
The meal was outstanding as well as the service.
After dinner we headed back to the room and slept soundly on the ridiculously comfortable four poster bed, fit for a princess on her birthday.
The next day we felt gutted to be leaving. After packing our bags we went back to the restaurant for breakfast which was just as delicious as the lunch and dinner we had eaten the previous day.
I was in my element admiring all the vintage details and exposed brick walls.
If you are looking for a wedding venue, I can highly recommend Charlton house. You can find out more about weddings on their website by clicking here.
So if you live in the south of England, or fancy venturing down then a stay at Charlton House is highly recommended in my opinion. And if you’re still not convinced after my recommendation then the reviews of other guests speak for themselves.
Thanks for reading
Now I don’t want the subject title to be misleading so I’ll set the record straight now. This post isn’t about how to actually own your rented house as in buy it, it’s about how to put your stamp on it, inject your personality and make it your home whilst you are living in it.
You might not realise this, but we rent the house we live in (see above photos). Don’t get me wrong, I long to buy our own house, but we met when I was 20 so we travelled before we got married and enjoyed shopping and holidays so saving for a house deposit was never really a priority.
In hindsight (which is a wonderful thing) if we had actually knuckeled down and saved up, we’d more than likely be on about our third house by now. It’s frustrating to think about, but we have had such a great life in the 12 years we’ve been together including living in New Zealand so it’s hard to have any regrets.
Anyway, moving on to what this post is actually about… making your rented property your ‘own’.
Here are some obstacles that you may come across…
“I’m not allowed to paint”
Okay, this is normally in the handbook when you move in to a property. It’s normally in there to prevent anyone painting a living room bright orange or doing a really bad, unprofessional paint job. So contact your landlord and ask very nicely if they would mind if you painted the walls white, if they aren’t already. Most rentals are magnolia which is a really yellowy cream colour. It’s not great but the reason they do it is because it’s generic so if you have to do any repairs to the walls you know which colour to get. If the landlord gives you the go ahead, then choose brilliant white as not only will it lift and freshen a room, it’s cheap, and another generic colour making it easier for the next tenants.
“The carpets are horrible”
There are three things I look at when we have viewed properties in the past.
If I’m not happy with these three things, then it’s a no go for me.
However, if you are living in a rental with crappy carpets, whether it be the colour, condition or both, then there is something you can do about it.
You might think you can only add one rug to a room but that’s not true. Vintage Persian rugs are so on trend at the moment and look great in every room. If you really hate your carpet, get some rugs and try layering and overlapping them. They will not only cover the carpet, but create a statement in the room too. Plus you can take them with you if you move! Winner!
Check out Benuta Rugs they have a huge selection at amazing prices.
“We’re not allowed to put up pictures or shelves”
Again, this can be overcome. If you have a word with your landlord and just assure them that any holes will be filled and painted when you exit the property then most landlords won’t have a problem with this. Failing that, you can buy command hanging strips that don’t damage your walls which are great for people that rent.
If it’s a no to putting up shelves, then look for free standing shelving units. They not only add height to a room but they’re practical too.
“I don’t see the point in spending money on a property we don’t own”
A lot of people have this attitude, and I did in the past. It’s half true, because why invest all that time and money in to a house that’s not yours. But the fact of the matter is, it is yours!! It’s your home, so truly make it yours!
Spend money on things that can be taken with you if and when you do move on.
“It’s not my dream home”
We all have an idea of what our dream home looks like. The chances are, if you’re renting, you will not be living in the house of your dreams. However, if you know your own style you will be able to inject that in to the house by using soft furnishings, furniture and accessories that reflect your personality.
If the property is small, look at styling and space saving ideas on Pinterest, there are loads for small spaces, so get creative!
“I hate the kitchen”
The kitchen is a hard thing to change in a rental.
Our kitchen is ‘nice’ but it’s not how I’d do the kitchen if we owned the house.
If you have solid wood cupboard doors and an easy going landlord, then removing the doors and drawer fronts, sanding them down and painting them using an eggshell paint is your best option. Changing the knobs and handles is also a cheap improvement.
Adding plants and herbs in planters look gorgeous on a kitchen window sill as well.
Until next time
After posting the photos of my newly decorated dining room on Instagram the other day, showcasing my handmade beaded chandelier, a few people asked me to do a blog post on how to make one.
It was ambitious of me to attempt to make it, and I won’t sugar coat it, I probably won’t ever make another one. Not because I don’t like how it turned out, I really do, but more because it was an absolute pain in the arse to make, not to mention very time consuming.
Nevertheless, if you fancy trying to make one here is how I did it…
The first thing I bought was a 14″ hanging basket for £4.99 from Homebase. Try and get the same colour as you want the chandelier to be, if not you will have to spray it.
The next thing you will need are beads.
I massively underestimated the amount I would need and only bought 1200 10mm black wooden beads. I got them from eBay, 99p for 100 which is the best price I found.
I then had to figure out how I was going to get a light fitting. You can buy them on eBay, if you do this you’ll have to wire the basket to the fitting. You can find out how to do this on Pinterest. Luckily I came across a small glass pendant light in Homebase reduced to £15, so I bought it on a whim hoping it would work.
When I got it home I attached the basket to it and it looked like the glass would be well hidden by the beads, so I began to thread.
This is the frustrating bit. I originally started threading the bottom part of the chandelier using fishing wire. It was quite time consuming to thread through the beads, but also it kept slipping through my fingers, resulting in the 22 beads I’d just threaded to fall all over the floor. You can imagine the explicit language coming out of the dining room at this point.
Another thing I found with the fishing wire was that it was stretching when I was tying knots, causing the string of beads to sag.
Once I’d threaded all of the beads I had I worked out how many more I needed to get and ordered another 3000.
Instead of using fishing wire for the top section I decided to use cotton thread and a needle. This made the threading part so much easier and a lot faster.
Sadly it doesn’t give off much light but it does make a real statement in the room and I can enjoy it even more knowing I made it myself.
Who needs to see their food anyway! 😜
Thanks for reading