A simple, Swedish Christmas

Hands up if you are decorating for Christmas with a curious toddler or pet in tow?

I turned around the other day and my little boy actually had a tree light bulb in his mouth. Yikes. So our tree is now looking particularly stylish with the lights weaved through the upper branches only. Ahem. However, he is forgiven because he has brought home from nursery his own craft pieces for the tree which we just love. Plus how can you not forgive a two year old in a fetching Christmas jumper?

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He has just started talking and the way he tries to say Christmas tree is so loveable.

Anyway, we are not at home this year for the big event. We are off up North to spend it with my in laws so I haven’t gone crazy on the decorating. Coupled with the fact that we have just moved into a rental for 12 months until we decide where we want to settle in our new town of Shrewsbury. And you know what rentals are like for their rules and restrictions. Yawn.

Saying that, I still want it to look festive and you can check out my Instagram feed to see what I am doing as I am not finished yet!

I cannot wait to have a place of our own again. And when I do, come Christmas, I’ll be taking a lead from Helena Shem. Helena lives in Sundsvall, Sweden and you can find her blog here.

Just look at this beautiful front door and porch. I love the double wreath and mini potted Christmas trees.

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I love the way she has dressed the porch with greenery. It reminds me of my Dad who every year gathers armfuls of holly, pine and mistletoe – often as late as Christmas Eve – for my Mum to add a festive touch to our farmhouse. It makes the whole house smell so good.

There’s no place for Christmas commercial gimmicks in Helena’s home either. And, let’s face it, you can’t really go wrong with some simple, winter greenery, a lovely tree and candlelight…

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Doesn’t that glittery corner look inviting with its chandelier, sheepskin and wooden background? I would love to curl up there with a good book!

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7 tips to style your shelves like a professional

The shelfie seems to be becoming a thing. So I thought I’d share some styling tips.

I’ve drafted in Alexia Kaye, a London stylist, who is the Queen of putting together beautiful vignettes and she styles bookcases to perfection.

All of the images below either feature on Alexia’s gorgeous Instagram feed @the_finishing_touches or have been taken by photographer Aimie Sullivan.

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So Alexia’s top shelf styling tips are:

1. Use variations of book placement – Try a mix of horizontal and vertical arrangements. You can do this on one shelf, or randomly throughout so that when you step back and look at the shelves as a whole you can see a variety of shapes and heights. I also like the idea of stacking books horizontally (not too high) and then placing an item on top of the stack, such as a piece of coral.

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2. Not just books – Bookshelves don’t just have to be about books. Try using decorative objects such as bowls, ornaments, plates, glass domes, picture frames etc. This helps to break everything up, which I consider to be a key component of attractive shelving.

3. Personal – I think it is nice for your shelves to tell a story, a bit about the person behind them – and not just with photos. Whether it be a sentimental object from your childhood, a souvenir you picked up on your travels, or a display of something you collect such as corkscrews or even matchboxes. Essentially, something to tell those viewing it a bit about who you are: a few monogrammed items, a favourite scent in a candle or diffuser, or a large letter of your initial, perhaps.

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4. Colour – I think books organised by colour look stunning. Unfortunately I don’t yet own enough to implement this in my home, but I often arrange small vignettes on the shelves which are colour co­ordinated. I try and include a variety of objects for these such as vintage glass bottles, framed butterflies and some coffee table books.

5. Old and new – This tip kind of ties in with number 3. I like to display some vintage items as well as new. I have vintage glass medicine bottles, vintage foo dog bookends and a vintage pineapple from the 70’s. This look is present throughout my whole home as I like vintage items that tell a story and I think they look great mixed with new pieces. If everything on display is new then I think you run the risk of having a look similar to everyone else.

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6. Natural – A lot of my favorite bookshelves showcase organic materials. I have some antlers, a purple crystal stone as well as some coral displayed on mine. Flowers and plants also work really well. Just make sure the objects fit in with your taste and style.

7. Art – Definitely incorporate artwork into your shelf scheme. Art is personal (see tip 3) and can tell lots about who you are. A small framed print or some framed photography is great. A cheap way to do this is to frame postcards or greetings cards, this can have a great effect.

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As a final tip, Alexia says: “I believe that bookshelves should be beautiful as well as functional. Therefore, I try to keep mine clutter free, with space around each item so that everything stands out and nothing is lost.”

If you’re feeling inspired to restyle your shelves and storage spaces, I would love to hear all about it. Huge thanks to Alexia and if you’d like to see more of her beautiful styling, follow her on Instagram at @the_finishing_touches.

Style Steal: Rachel Bilson’s living room

When it comes to style Rachel Bilson has it wrapped up. So I was intrigued when I came across her house tour in Lonny magazine.

I have to say, most celebrity house tours I come across are pretty darn ugly but it’s really no surprise that Bilson’s is really rather nice.

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So if you want to steal her style then here are some key pieces:

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Blue ikat cushion, from Amara, £135
Blue velvet sofa, from Modern, £749
Floral cushion cover from Zarahome, up to £15.99
Yellow throw from ovohome, £47.50
Jute border cushion, from Zara Home, £29.99
Blue table lamp from 4living, £220

Style Steal: Jonny Buckland’s Manhattan loft

Elle Decor have taken a peek around Jonny Buckland’s home – yes, he of Coldplay fame and not the one who is ‘conscious uncoupling’.

I tend to be drawn to homes with more colour – this is a touch too moody for me. But there are some Danish mid century looking pieces that I rather fancy.

If you are toying with idea of a spot of rock and roll at home, then you can get the look with these pieces….

Firstly, the bar stools. Theirs are from Lawson-Fenning but you can get the look with these from Rockett St George for £140 each. I think you’d have to keep to a minimal, masculine look or they might start looking a little clumsy:

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The Hans Wegner Hoop chair is a great statement. For something smaller and perhaps easier to accomodate (let’s face it, we don’t all have Manhattan lofts!), this is the Mid Century Modern Style chair, £110, again from Rockett St George:

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Their lamp is by BDDW – but try this from Made for £99:

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Like the look of the French grain sack cushion in the bedroom? There are similar available on etsy such as these at £33.54:

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The Jazz chair is a good alternative to the French club chairs and good value at £299. Also from Made.

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The red and pink rug provides a pop of colour in the bedroom. Etsy delivers the goods once again with this handwoven rag rug.

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Meanwhile, Operation Hallway has been postponed until this week. While the woodwork is getting painted, I have to make some decisions on colour schemes. A turquoise stairs is getting the thumbs up at the moment – I just haven’t got around to informing my husband who is probably imagining something rather more neutral!

Bye for now.

Sarah Jessica Parker – style steal

US Vogue recently tipped up to Sarah Jessica Parker’s house to ask her 73 questions. And they filmed the whole thing.

If you’re anything like me, you won’t give a hoot about the answers but you’ll play and replay to examine every nook and cranny possible of Chez Parker. You can see the film here…

A few highlights for me include that sumptuous, velvet sofa and the ping pong table! What a shame we don’t get to see her dressing room!

To get the look, here are my Style Stealers:

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Little green chair and blue sofa – both from Oliver Bonas who are doing some gorgeous upholstery

Walnut tray table – from Hus and Hem

Globe light – From John Lewis

Pink mohair throw by Avoca