Is yellow the new mustard?

I’ve been a mustard fan for some time now. Not the English or whole grain varieties, but the kind that has been creeping into interiors for the past year or so. It was inevitable really what with all the beautiful grey paints and soft furnishings available, it’s a natural pairing. Like the grey it’s sophisticated and elegant, but it brightens up a scheme without being gaudy. However, it might be the sunshine going to my head but I’m beginning to think we can go a bit brighter……

It started when my friend Annie arrived yesterday for a short break. Annie is a bold decorator who loves a bit of glitz and glamour. Her master bathroom features a black bath with a sparkly floor and a glittery disco ball, her favourite colour is red, and she’s not shy when it comes to animal prints, in her wardrobe or home. So I wasn’t at all surprised when she told me she was on the look out for and struggling to find a canary yellow metal garden table to go with the red metal chairs she’d recently acquired. I love an interiors challenge, so while she flicked through a stack of my house porn I started surfing, and the more yellow I saw the more I liked it. By the time dinner was ready I’d already decided the replacement covers for the sofa in my summer house were going to be yellow. Here are just a few reasons why I think yellow might just be the new mustard.

Yellow chest of drawers in vintage bedroom


It’s a good warm, sunny colour for a young girls bedroom, but not as a wall colour, just a piece of furniture with hints in the soft furnishings like here.

Yellow fireplace in a grey living room


I can honestly say I would never have thought of painting a fireplace yellow but look how well this works against the pale grey walls.

Yellow sofa in living room


I’m even considering it for the sofa in my summer house after seeing this but I think it needs to be surrounded by bold prints as shown in this room to avoid looking too twee.

Yellow four poster bed frame


I recently used mustard as an accent colour in a pale green room with botanical elements, but a brighter yellow would have worked just as well and I love this four poster bed frame.

Yellow kitchen units in grey kitchen



I’m still not sure about yellow kitchen units though……it does remind me of the toy kitchens made for little girls.

Yellow front door


But I do love it as a front door colour, very cheery and welcoming. This one looks great with the white walls and rosy pink rugs.

So are you sold or do you think it will be a summer fad replaced by mustard again in October? I’ll leave you to ponder while I go and hunt for yellow fabric for my sofa….but before I go, great news Agata has returned! AWOL for 36hrs then strolls nonchalantly up the drive as if she’s never been away. Where she was is a mystery but she still has that jaunty look about her which suggests she was having fun…..the dirty stop out.


Perspective is everything

6 weeks in and I’m starting to see the positive impact Cumbrian life is having on me. When I lived in London I had an unhealthy relationship with food and obsessed about my weight and body shape. When you’re in meetings and presenting at conferences you’re constantly being scrutinised by other women, and I’m not criticising as I’ve caught myself doing it, but its not surprising you spend a lot of time judging yourself in the mirror. I was also unfulfilled at work so sought comfort in food and would be planning what I was going to eat hours (and sometimes days if I had dinner plans) ahead of schedule. I was never satisfied with what was in my fridge, which resulted in multiple supermarket trips, takeaways or eating out which meant more drinking…it was exhausting. Now subconsciously I have stopped thinking about food so much. I eat what’s available in the fridge and only visit the supermarket weekly when I pick Mr W up from the station. I don’t own a pair or scales or a full length mirror. Its totally liberating. Don’t get me wrong I still love food and a loving having the time to cook again, its just not such a dominant feature in my life. I think I am a little thinner as my clothes are looser in places, but I just see that as a positive side effect, I am not going to diet. If I want butter I’m having butter!

I also have a reputation for being highly competitive, and I used to put a ridiculous amount of pressure on myself to be the best at everything and to complete everything in record time. I’ve not lost these traits post move, but they’re less obvious. My neighbour Sharon would probably disagree as she thinks I’m keeping myself far too busy and trying to do to much too soon, but I know what I was like so I know this is a healthy work ethic and not as a result of pressure. Take my new career as an interior designer. It was always the plan to set this up next year when I’ve completed the house renovations and my studies and that’s still the plan even though people regularly ask me how the new business is coming along. Old me would have felt pressured to start sooner to avoid being seen as a failure. New me is just enjoying herself. I’m even happy in the slow lane at the swimming pool where I’ve started swimming lengths – this would never have been me in London, I’d have pulled muscles in the fast lane to try and keep up with the crawlers (I can only do breast stroke….) rather than admit I’m no Rebecca Addlington.

This week has been the usual scrum of contractors in the house as the joiners and electricians teamed up to board out the ceilings downstairs and install new lighting. To remain close enough to supervise without being under their feet I took advantage of the sunshine and did a little furniture restoration in the garden. Our dining room is tiny and oddly shaped which requires non-standard furniture if you want to seat more than 4. I bought a dining table on eBay 4 years ago which was narrower than a standard table which I stripped and stained, and since then I’ve been looking for the right seating solution. In Lille I found one half of this when I spotted a lovely narrow church pew. I then picked up 4 matching church chairs in an antiques mill in Manchester. For some reason church furniture is much narrower than standard furniture these days – must have been to make room for those massive altars and organs! The pew and the chairs were in pretty good nick but required a light sand to remove stains, paint chips and chewing gum….ugh. I then re-stained the pew seat and oiled everything with my trusty osmo oil. The result is stunning as the chairs are maple and the bench is oak and pine and the oil has brought out the grain and given them a lovely warm glow.

They are now installed in my dining room which is not yet ready (radiator, plastering, painting and window dressing still to be done) but already the room has been transformed just with the restored beams, new ceiling boards and lights and now the new furniture. The pendant lights are from Fritz & Fryer who I recently discovered online. I suspect I will be making a few more purchases from them.

Below is an old photo of the room which I took when I viewed the house so you can see how cluttered it was. The previous owner used it as his office, in fact it was called the Station Masters Office as he kept his train set in another room (FYI he was 65 not 12).

image IMG_1248 IMG_1250 IMG_1256


Before I leave you a quick chuck update. Phyllis is not sick she is ‘clocking’ as they call it in Cumbria. The silly bird is broody and trying too hatch her unfertilised eggs. I think I need to send Harold in to teach her the facts of life. No cockerel, no chicks, chuck.














A little upcycling and a broken husband….

Before we took on international roles at work Mr W and I were regular fell walkers and could climb like mountain goats. These days not so agile. So after moving to Cumbria I had made it my mission to get us hill fit again. All was going well with the training until yesterday when I broke Mr W. After 10 miles of up and down fells he could hardly walk and I had to abandon him to go and fetch the car. He’d have been sat on that bench by the roadside for 2hrs if the 2 old fellas I’d asked for directions hadn’t given me a lift back to the car park. Cumbrians are lovely people. The 2 guys were old school friends, one local and one now living in Truro. They meet up annually for 2 weeks in Sept to fish on Bassenthwaite Lake (technically the only lake in the Lake District, all others are called waters or meres). During the drive back to the car park they asked me about Mr W’s injuries and I explained that he would be fine, but there had been a risk of me killing him if I’d had to listen to his moaning much longer……I mean look at the beautiful views!

On the plus side we got home a little earlier than planned which gave me chance to finish my bar stool project. A few months ago I picked up 6 cast iron pub stools that were missing seats in a junk shop in Greenwich. Since then I’d been looking for the perfect perches to top them. I found them in Lille in the form of old French tractor seats. These days farmers like upholstery and suspension, but farmers used to be made of tougher stuff and the seats were moulded iron. I wire brushed 4 of them to remove old paint flakes and scrubbed the bases which were already bare. I drilled holes into the bases to fit the new seats and then painted the bases and seats with smooth black Hammerite. I love Hammerite; you can paint directly onto rusted metal, it rarely needs more than 1 coat and the finish is smooth and leaves the metal gleaming like new. Voila!

IMG_0084 image

image image




I only managed to find 5 tractor seats in Lille, so I’m on the hunt for one more, unless I find something more interesting for the remaining 2. In the meantime I’d better go and check on the chucks. Phyllis has been nesting in the same place for 48hrs now even though the rest have been roaming free – in the garden, the lane, the neighbouring fields and the neighbours gardens……Hopefully it’s just broodiness and nothing more as she is my second favourite (after Harriett) and was named after my Aussie friend Phil. He’d be very upset if something happened to his namesake.




Going old school

Success at Mitchell’s Auctions means I am abandoning eBay as a seller and going old school from now on. My net profit after their 17.5% commission was £221 which was more than I would have expected to make on eBay. I didn’t incur any listing fees as I gave them my own list which they just photocopied. I didn’t have to answer any questions from prospective buyers, and I didn’t have the hassle of couriers or collection. Last time I sold stuff on eBay 2 buyers bought and then didn’t pay, 1 demanded a discount when she said the item wasn’t as I described (it was), and I lost money when I made a mistake calculating the postage costs of one item. I will continue to buy from eBay because you can still pick up bargains and unique items but my days of selling on eBay are gone, unless I open an online retail business (I have an idea in the works) as I can see the value in combining this with an eBay shop. If you want to give an old school auction a try but don’t know where your nearest one is just get online as they all have websites these days, and many even sell online  with live audio and video feeds. Check out, they hosted over 2000 live auctions and sold £45m online in 2013. Not so old school after all.

If old school means going back to the old ways of doing things then I am also embracing this for my house renovation. Furniture is getting cheaper and cheaper as businesses offshore to lower cost markets and find new ways of automating processes. But if you want good quality wooden furniture it can still be quite pricey. I wanted 2 large wardrobes for my bedroom that would fill the alcoves either side of the chimney to make best use of this space. But finding the right size was proving tricky and was starting to look like it could be very costly too. So I decided to look at custom built. I wanted a Georgian style that would look like freestanding furniture. Using photos I found online, and a drawing, I explained this to my joiner, and he worked with the same small business that made my staircase to produce the facades which he then fitted over the internal shells he created. The result is stunning as you can see from the photos below. Georgian townhouses typically had their living rooms on the 1st floor so the windows were larger than the other floors. This effect was often replicated in panelled furniture with the middle panels being larger. The panelled doors you can buy from places like Howdens all have equal sized panels so I knew I would need to have them made if I wanted to create this effect in my Georgian cottage. I have also seen many examples in Georgian homes of fitted cupboards which don’t reach to the ceiling, which creates the illusion of freestanding furniture. This is what convinced me to have them made. The final cost including fitting was under £2000 which is less than I would have paid for freestanding furniture, they make full use of the space, and I could decide on the internal layout. I encourage you to explore this as an option if you’re looking at bedroom furniture.

IMG_0882 IMG_0880


One area where I think it’s difficult to be old school is soft furnishings. There is so much choice these days, and the standard sizes for curtains, bedding and cushions can accommodate most needs. I compared the cost earlier this week for a pair of standard curtains versus custom made. John Lewis offer 2 services; a 7 day service which delivers factory made curtains for certain fabrics and styles, or a 3 week handmade service. For the fabric I’d chosen the cost was either £281 or £340. They had a pair of ready made curtains in a similar fabric for £70. The fabric was so similar I went for the ready mades and had them make matching cushions at £60 for 2 which included a make up charge of £17.50 per cushion. I have employed a seamstress to make curtains for my office though. Largely because I wanted them to match a chair I had upholstered (see the Edwardian chair on my projects page). It is much more expensive but I can understand why having been on a one day curtain making course at The Goodlife Centre in South East London. Even if you’re an expert it takes time, particularly if you don’t want standard pencil pleats. The make up cost for the 2 sets of curtains is approx. £275 but considering this is 2-3 days work I don’t think that’s unreasonable. It all comes down to whether you want something special or not. Curtain making was great fun, but now I’ve seen what goes into it I’m going to leave difficult jobs to the experts and wait until I have a small unimportant window before I try myself…

The result of my 1 day curtain making course at The Goodlife Centre in London
The result of my 1 day curtain making course at The Goodlife Centre in London