Tuesday, April 28

Elusive Brass Knobs and Pulls

When I was looking to replace my hideous kitchen cupboard knobs with contemporary brass ones, I quickly realised it was not going to be easy. It seemed the only option was to either spend upwards of £40 per knob, be stuck with really old fashioned / traditional shapes, or order them from the US or Sweden.

I'd have loved these hexagon ones from Schoolhouse Electric. They're simply perfect and not too expensive, but try as I might, I couldn't justify the shipping and customs charges on top, which suddenly makes them not quite so affordable.

I also adore these beautiful simple ones from Superfront, but I needed seventeen, which really pushed the price up quite substantially. These are great if you only need a couple, but buying seventeen was out of the question for me. So frustrating!

A quick look online throws up a gazillion 'traditional' or hideous 'designer' shapes if you want a brass finish. I searched high and low relentlessly for weeks on end, then one day I stumbled upon M Marcus. I think I actually let out a squeal of delight as I had finally found great selection of shapes at really reasonable prices, IN THE UK! I now have hardware from their Heritage Brass range (I know, don't let the Heritage bit put you off) on my bedside tables, kitchen cupboards and bedroom drawers. Do shop around for the best price - I found quite drastic price differences for the same pieces online. This place has a good selection at low prices.

Unfortunately they don't do a satin brass finish, (they do an antiqued version and I don't like the black tones in it) which would be a great addition to their range as it feels a bit more modern. I'd have probably chosen that if there was an option, but at least there finally is an affordable brass option, and I do love the polished finish - it's super glam. These are great quality - solid heavy brass and they just feel so nice to touch. No sharp edges here. They have a 92 page catalogue on their site which also includes door hardware, hinges, and house numbers. They have something to cater for every taste, you have to sift through to find the good stuff, but it's worth it!

I have also since discovered Beslag Design, which are available here. They have some great shapes available in brass and copper finishes which is really quite exciting. I haven't used any of these yet, (but I do have a project in mind!), so I can't vouch for the quality, but they're worth investigating if you're in the market.

Changing the handles on our rather rickety old kitchen cupboards has definitely given them a much needed facelift. We're on the final push for the so called 'mini' kitchen makeover by the way, so I promise to share that as soon as possible!

I'm still confused as to why the trend for brass in particular is taking so long to filter down to the high street for cupboard hardware. There's been a move  away from silver/chrome happening for some time now and I'm surprised the likes of Ikea haven't presented an offering yet. Perhaps they're waiting to see if it's a passing fad, which we know of course, it's not.


Tuesday, April 21

Jungle Fever Part 2

Okay, I admit it, it's been rather a lot longer than a week since I promised this second part of my Jungle Fever post. I blame life. And the children, and very few opportunities to take nice photographs of my plants. Or maybe my idea of 'next week' is different to yours, but here it is, finally...

I love the way the Kentia Palm instantly gives a room a tropical feel. These palms have a reputation of being the easiest indoor palm, tolerating low light and dry air. Oh, and see that chair? My husband has been trying to throw it out for years. It's become a 'hilarious' running joke. I bought it for £10 from a shop that was closing down and it has a strange textured coating on it, and one day I will get it dipped to remove said strange textured coating, and give it the makeover it deserves, and I will not let him sit on it for being so cruel. That will show him, won't it?

Botanical Name: Howea forsteriana
How much: £40
How tall: 120cms
Where from: Online from House of Plants
Care: Easy. I've just repotted mine and moved it to a shadier spot. I water it once a week and it looks healthy and has some new growth, so I think I'm doing something right.
Where: In a shady spot in the dining room.
Receptacle: An Ikea basket. Again.

My Bengal Fig is a bit Jack and The Beanstalkish. It has grown probably 40cms since I bought it back in November, and is not showing any sign of slowing. It's tall and thin, though some of the lower leaves are starting to get quite big now, which I hope will continue, so that it fattens up a little and doesn't get too top-heavy. I've recently re-potted it and it's now a really substantial plant.

Botanical Name: Ficus benghalensis
How much: £15
How big: 140cms
Where from: Online from House of Plants
Care: Easy! It doesn't need much water, so I only give it a little every week or so, and it can happily take a bit of shade. I do wonder if it's 'stretching' a bit, which would be a sign that's it's not getting enough light. Plant pros, feel free to weigh in...
Where: I've just moved it to my bedroom which is bright (south facing), but it's not near the window and I think it will be the perfect spot for it.
Receptacle: Another basket from H&M. Incidentally, I was in there the other day and they have a lovely new basket with a bright pink stripe that would be perfect for the plant I've just ordered online. Oh dear, help me I'm a plant addict!!

Back when I did my original plants you MUST have post, I got my ZZ's confused with my Zamia's (easily done with all those Z's). I must update that. Turns out they are different plants that look kind of similar - both beautiful, but mine is a ZZ plant, or Zanzibar Gem as they are also known. I'd still like a Zamia too, which I think has a bit of a Bonsai look about it (stumpier) with fuzzy leaves, unlike the ZZ which has very glossy waxy looking leaves.

Just don't let the lovely leaves of your ZZ hang over a lamp like I did and then wonder why they look singed. Oops.

Botanical Name: Zamioculcas Zamiifolia
How much: £25
How big: 80cms
Where from: Angel Flowers in Islington again, but these are pretty easy to find, and I've seen them at Colombia Road Flower Market for £15. You may even find one of these at Ikea if you're lucky.
Care: Very low maintenance - I water this maybe once a fortnight or even less. It's doing really well and it has several new shoots growing. I don't know if I should re-pot it because it seems so happy, but it's quite a tight fit in it's container.
Where: It lives in the living room in the darkest corner which it seems to love. They don't like full on sun.
Receptacle: I got the basket in Formentera last summer. I had to carry it home in my handbag so it didn't get squashed, and was quite prepared to wear it as a hat if push came to shove. Yes, I love it. Lots.

So that's it for now on the plant front. I really do recommend any of these as easy to keep alive and looking good, for people that would like to have indoor plants but worry about killing them. It's really not that hard if you consider the position and watering requirements. If I can do it, so can you. Honest!


Wednesday, April 1

Never too many...throws

Well apparently spring is officially here, but balmy it is not! Especially in the evenings when there's still definitely a chill in the air, and there's nothing better than snuggling up on the sofa with a throw or two to keep you warm and cosy.

Practicalities aside, beautiful throws are must-have home accessory (casually draped over the arm or back of a sofa or chair of course) that can add lovely texture and pattern to a room without costing an arm and a leg or being a big commitment. You know how everyone bangs on about layering? Well throws should be one of your best friends.

Despite this knowledge and my love of throws, I've realised that I don't own nearly enough of them which I obviously need to rectify pronto. As I'm feeling a bit indecisive about the wall colour in our living room, and we'll also be replacing our filthy disgusting, kid-trashed well-worn rug soon, I've decided to keep things neutral for my next throw purchase, so that it will work with the new wall colour and rug, whatever they may be! This way they can also be used in any room without worrying about the colours not working.

Here are the contenders....

Image: Rockett St George
I love this Chevron throw from Rockett St George, it's a classic - you just can't go wrong with black and white, and at £29.00 it's a bargain to boot. Please note how well the casual drape is working here.

Image: Esprit
Next up is Esprit. Who knew that Esprit did homewares? Not me til recently. They have some rather lovely throws, and this one ticks all the boxes - herringbone AND fringing? Yes please! The Stone colour is a beautiful neutral, but I have to say both the Lime and Salmon are calling my name too. In fact the brighter ones would be perfect for evenings in the garden once spring truly arrives. We try to dine in the garden as much as possible when the weather is warmer, to make the most of the limited outdoor dining opportunities we have in England, but once the sun goes down, grabbing a couple of throws from inside to wrap up in is always a good idea, to prolong that time as much as possible!
This Heavenly Honeycomb Throw at The Future Kept is also on my list. Perhaps not strictly neutral, but close enough. It's currently out of stock which is probably just as well as I'm in really in the mood for a spot of shopping from my sofa...

So I should just buy all of them, right? I've always said you can never have too many cushions, and I think I'll add throws to that list now too.

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