Bringing The Outdoors In with Network VEKA

I think Mother Nature is a little confused right now; she's torn between Summer and Autumn, and while I'm cheering for an ongoing Indian Summer, I know that the arrival of Autumn proper, is imminent. In fact, judging by the chill in the air last night, it might just be here already.

I don't like to give in to the seasons too much. In fact, while I'm all for making things nice and cosy in my home for the winter months, I also like to bring the outdoors in as much as possible, as it reminds me of warmer days, and helps to make up for the lack of time spent outdoors.

So I'm going to share my top tips for doing just that here today. Ready? Good...

A bit of a no-brainer, but nothing, nothing, I tell you, will help to bring the outdoors in more than indoor plants. But I'm not talking about that sad, half-dead succulent on your window sill, I'm talking about big, lush, delicious greenery that won't go unnoticed. Statement plants. And the bigger, the better.

Bringing The Outdoors In - French For Pineapple Blog
Images: Grey Crawford for Elle Decor / Nuevo Estilo

Some great choices for larger indoor plants are Fiddle Leaf Figs (obvs!), Rubber Plants, Kentia and Parlour Palms. However, buying really large plants can be prohibitively expensive, so you can always start with a smaller specimen with the intention of raising it into a sizeable beast!

You can also achieve the same feel by curating a cluster of smaller plants, displayed at different heights, and having your own indoor jungle. Smaller options that are super low maintenance include Snake Plants, Ponytail Palms, Cheese and ZZ plants. Honestly, if I can keep these alive, then so can you.

Bringing The Outdoors In - French For Pineapple Blog
Images: EQ3 / vtwonen

Try thinking a little bit outside the box when choosing plant containers. Use baskets in all shapes and sizes, and an oversized urn looks amazing with a big Boston Fern spilling over the sides. Also consider hanging plant holders to mix things up a bit, and to create more height - something I definitely need more of in my house.

Have a look at Network VEKA's 'Bringing The Outside In' Pinterest board for some more inspiration.

Using materials such as rattan, bamboo and even concrete, that would traditionally be thought of as outdoor materials, also helps to bring the outdoors in.

Wicker furniture has made a massive comeback over the last few years, and it's still going strong. New or vintage, it has an air of old-school charm, and in the summer months you can take it outside too.

Bringing The Outdoors In - French For Pineapple Blog
Image: Ashley Batz for Oh Happy Day
Whether it's over the top tropical, or vintage toile, let the power of print help you bring the outdoors in. There are endless choices of botanical prints to choose from; you can really go for it and wallpaper an entire room and even use the same print on your sofa. Demonstrated here so perfectly by the masters of over the top botanical prints, House of Hackney, it's a look I love, but it's not for the faint hearted!

Bringing The Outdoors In - French For Pineapple Blog
Image: House of Hackney
Obvioulsy a more subtle option, is to go for a botanical print on wallpaper or upholstery only, or the safest option, is saving prints for accessories alone, which is not only a much smaller investment, but easily changed if you fancy doing so with the seasons.

Bringing The Outdoors In - French For Pineapple Blog
Image: Kimberly Duran / SwoonWorthy

For some more Winter trend inspiration, have a look at Network VEKA's Interior Trends Pinterest board.

Bringing The Outdoors In - French For Pineapple Blog
Image: Sandberg

Here are some of my favourite botanical prints that are available as fabric, and could be used for curtains, blinds, lampshades, or cushions.

Bringing The Outdoors In - French For Pineapple Blog
Images L-R: Richloom 'Balmoral' / Sanderson 'Rainforest' / House Of Hackney 'Pampas'

Botanical prints can also work wonderfully on shower curtains, towels, tea towels and even oven gloves as subtle nods to the outdoors-in trend.

Bringing The Outdoors In - French For Pineapple Blog
Image: French For Pineapple

Network VEKA not only install a wide range of fabulous, energy efficient windows, doors and conservatories, but also give access to a Network of more than 100 independent, expert installers in the UK.

Members undergo strict vetting, and agree to continuous audits and training, before being allowed to join the Network, so homeowners can renovate their property with complete peace of mind. With a white glove service of care, knowledge and attention to detail, it’s this element that creates a point of difference for Network VEKA

Have a look at the new Network VEKA lookbook for further inspiration and tips, with more to be found on their Pinterest boards too.

This post is in collaboration with Network VEKA.

Confessions of an eBay addict

I'm an eBay addict. My addiction goes through phases of being 'worse' and 'better', and sometimes lies dormant for a several months, but I'm often in the throes of a buying frenzy, and can sometimes be found listing stuff to sell too. Though it's fun selling, nothing beats the thrill of the last second, adrenalin-rush-inducing, bid. Especially when you win.

Lately I've been on a bit of a bender, which is directly related to my being on a mission to whip our house back into shape, as it's been somewhat neglected over the last few years (which coincides with the arrival of our littlest).

I realised that things were looking rather average in pretty much every room. You know when you're so used to seeing things that you don't notice them anymore? And then when you do notice them you realise that not only do you not like them, but you actually hate them? Yes, that. That's been happening loads, so I'm having a big shakeup round here. You may know I'm currently revamping our kitchen, which is of course taking way longer than anticipated due to a barrage of illness going around in circles in our house. Bear with me though, it will be finished(ish) in about three weeks, then I can finally show you the fruits of my labour.

Most of the things I buy on eBay fall into the decorative, furniture and DIY categories. I often giggle when I see what my husband is looking at as we share the same account, so our watch list is combined, and it couldn't be more varied. Whilst he's looking at Japanese denim, vintage workwear, skateboard paraphernalia, and bicycle wheels, I'm looking at vintage ceramic lamps, brass side tables, tiles, spice racks and wicker chairs. We have an unspoken rule, that neither of us can comment on what the other is currently stalking. And it is a form of stalking.

My friend Kimberly over at Swoon Worthy wrote a great post about how to become an eBay ninja. I proudly put myself firmly in that category already, but if you're not and you want to be, I suggest you study this helpful guide.

People often say, 'you find the best stuff, you're so lucky', or 'I never find anything good on eBay'. I say YOU'RE NOT TRYING HARD ENOUGH. You have to really want to find the good stuff, it won't find you. It's not uncommon for me to look at hundreds and hundreds of listings when I'm looking for something in particular, often over a period of weeks or even months.

I think that for me, a huge part of my eBay obsession is that it serves as a substitute to going to antique shops and markets as I just don't have the time, and couldn't think of anything less relaxing than doing so with two children in tow even if I did have the time.

So, here are a few(!) things I've bought over the last two years, where they are in our house, AND the prices I've paid for everything!

A pair of ceramic Chinese Foo Dogs (or Temple Dogs) - £40.00. They live on a glass and chrome trolley also from eBay in the living room.

A solid brass vintage panther - £5.51. He's a recent addition, and currently hanging out on the new kitchen table (not from eBay!), but he'll most likely move into my studio.

A pair of antique brass Welsh guards coat hooks - £4.99. These will be tea towel hooks in the kitchen.

A pair of ceramic Staffordshire Spaniels - £26.59. They live on the dining room sideboard. I love their ridiculous faces!

A 1.4 metre piece of vintage chinoiserie linen - £11.40. I've just made a huge decorative bolster cushion from this for our bed.  I have some left over, so might make some smaller cushions too.

A grey sheepskin - £22.00. This is new, in fact it just arrived this morning, and it'll cosy up a sofa in our living room. It replaces an old cream one that was a victim of the recent spate of illness in our house.  I won't subject you to the details - it wasn't pretty, but what a brilliant excuse to buy the grey one I'd been wanting.

Oh my god, I'm like the very hungry caterpillar!!

Not pictured, but in the spirit of this confessional post, here goes...

A seventies or eighties lucite side table on castors - £49.99. Love this, a total bargain.  It's in our living room.

A seventies chrome and glass trolley - £51.00. Again, in our living room.

A mini wicker chair - £26.00. May have paid a little too much for this, but it's adorable.  It hangs out in Baxters room, with a teeny green zebra print cushion I made for it.

A pair of lampshades custom made with Sanderson fabric to die for £70. These are so beautiful. I found this woman who just happened to have the perfect amount of Sandersons Rainforest fabric in green to make me two shades. These are on some eBay lamp bases (surprise surprise) on the dining room sideboard.

A wicker side table - £20.00. I spray painted this black, and it's currently my bedside table, but we're switching rooms (again) soon, then it will become a plant stand in the studio or kitchen. I need to get a piece of glass cut (maybe smoked or mirror) for the top as it's a bit wonky.

A huge vintage ceramic Wedgwood lamp base - £20.00. I adore this lamp and it was a complete bargain. It's a golden mustardy colour, and I bought a huge silk turquoise lampshade to go on it. That wasn't a bargain by any stretch. With the shade it stands just shy of 70 centimetres tall (about 27 inches), so it's a real statement piece, and looks great on the lucite side table in our living room.

A vintage ceramic chinoiserie lamp base -  £12.00. This lives in our bedroom.  It's a yellow/mustard colour and currently has a purple shade, which actually works really well, though it was just one I had hanging around.  I may change the shade when we move rooms.

Several other lamps - some more successful than others, so we won't talk about that!!

Most recently, this week in fact, I won a pair of antique bedside cabinets which are ready for a glossy coat (or five) of paint which you'll see in due course, for £51.00 (plus £39 for a courier delivery). That's quite a big spend for me on eBay, but I've been searching on and off for years for something like these.

Oh, and a wicker rocking chair, FOR NINETY-NINE PENCE! Okay, so I haven't laid eyes on it in the flesh yet, as my father-in-law has kindly collected it for me, but it was photographed dreadfully with hideous filthy cushions on it, and I think it might just be a total bargain.

So, am I done on my eBay spree?  Ah, not likely.  I'm currently stalking a piece of furniture for my about to be re-vamped studio, and I'm always on the lookout for a nice but relatively cheap wicker Peacock chair for my daughters bedroom. And a million other things I don't even know about yet.