Festive at Home

I always loved decorating for Christmas, but there is something about having your own home that makes it even better. Sean and I bought our first real tree, went out and got a bunch of ornaments from John Lewis, and then have slowly started to make our home feel festive with little bits and bobs.

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I was a bit torn when it came to the tree because I love matching trees, but I also love personal trees. I tried to make ours a bit of both by starting with some basic ornaments, picking a few that we really liked, and then leaving room for us to add more as we go on. We picked up the tree from Venn Street Market and Sean will be the first to tell you how annoying I was about it – we knew we needed a 7footer, but trees here seem different from trees in the U.S. – not as full at the top! So we have a 7footer but I think it’s actually 5 feet tree and 2 feet the top stem. It looks a bit sad but I love it anyway!

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[Hope got us these adorable polar bear ornaments – one for Sean, one for me! Thank you Hope and Selfridges!]

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We’ve focused mainly on the living room for our Christmas decorating, so mainly the tree and the bookcase. I even snuck a Winter Spice candle from John Lewis onto the coffee table, so the room smells like Christmas. We’ve been making Christmas meals in the kitchen and discussing Christmas plans in the bedroom, but nothing beats sitting in the living room in the center of it all. I cannot wait to watch our Christmas decoration collection grow together more and more each year!

Next on the list….stockings.

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[Between birthdays, the new home, and Christmas, we have received so much love from family and friends!]

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[Lucy got us the “There’s snow place like home at Christmas” sign and I used the tray from our Thanksgiving centerpiece to make something for the holiday season]


[We picked up this guy in Strasbourg, as well – it holds a tea light but I just like the little reminder of our travels regardless!]
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[I’m even getting into the spirit myself with these amazing polar bear socks that I’ve been wearing around the house]

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Finishing Touches

Two months in, we are finally at the point where things are coming together in the house. Pictures are getting framed and hung, the last of the furniture is getting ordered, and the decisions are more about throw pillows than key pieces.

Over the weekend, Sean and I hung two photos in the bathroom. They’re not needed by any means, but I came across the prints on Etsy and absolutely loved them.

  
I love the sketch look and how they incorporate a little bit of both of our homes. We settled on white frames and hung them one above the other right over the toilet. Even though the bathroom has essentially been done since the day we moved it, it was a nice finishing touch that really made all the difference in the world.

  
Now that the easiest room is done, we just have to get going with the others…

    
 

Living Room Inspiration

It’s now been a month since we moved in, and we are still struggling to get everything where it belongs. Our bedroom only finally has both Ikea wardrobes set up, our living room has completely bare walls, and we are now down to only three wine glasses in the kitchen (Sean broke one) and have yet to do a proper grocery shop (as in we’ve been eating too much take out).

The living room has become my creativity zone – I am very lax about what furniture we buy for the bedroom, but I feel the need to make the living room perfect. With the addition of a rug and a fully assembled coffee table and TV stand, the room is slowly starting to come together, but still has a long way to go.

At the moment, we are suffering from poor lighting, bare walls, and no bookshelf. In my mind, this all needs to change ASAP. Sean has pretty much put all of the decorating on me. He gives his opinion and suggestions every now and then, but I definitely feel 99% of the pressure to get our house in order. I generally lean toward very feminine designs, so it has been a challenge to pick out gender-neutral stuff (our bedroom could probably be classified as the most mild form of shabby chic possible). However, we both absolutely love traveling, so I thought that a global theme would be a great place to start for the living room.

I searched and searched for global or travel themed rooms and liked a lot of what I saw, but did not see anything that felt like it belonged in our house. I’m not huge on themes, but don’t might subtle hints of something, so instead of focusing on the theme, I settled on picking the rug first, and plan to build the room around that. We plan to tie travel into the room through lighting, our main piece of wall art, and the bookcase.

Lighting

Both the living room and our bedroom have chandeliers in them, and we do not really like either of them. While I do not want the chandelier in the bedroom to be too crazy, I feel like the one in the living room gives us a bit of room to play around. A lot of the global-themed items I saw have some sort of cultural undertones. I’m hoping to find a chandelier that is a bit weathered and uniquely carved, but not too crazy.

Wall Art

Sean absolutely loves maps. His room at home has old maps of London and the tube network. While we did not bring those with us, I thought it would be nice to get an antique framed map for the wall in the living room. He passes a map shop every day on the way to work and has sent me some of their items, but we are having trouble deciding what we really want. They have world maps, maps of London, photographs instead of maps, etc. All of the work is truly beautiful, but it is going to take a while for us to find the right one that just fits.

We are also planning on carrying the travel theme into our bathroom, where I am planning on ordering prints of our favorite cities from An Inspired Image.

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[Hoping I can channel Restoration Hardware and find the perfect map to look more like a piece of art than a piece of paper on the wall.]

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[I also love the idea of hanging our personal travel prints (inspired by homedecorators.com), all colored in the same way, either on the other wall in the living room or in the hallway. Our only issue is the lack of decent photography…]

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[Sarah and Mike just got this map by National Geographic, and I am strongly considering copying them. They’re pinning all the places they have been and Sean and I both love that idea. We’ve gotten really good at copying the two of them!]

Bookcase

I could spend all day pinning pictures of beautifully styled desks and bookcases, and I am so eager to have a go at it myself. We are looking for a large desk to fill the area by the window of our bedroom, but are not desperate for one until the New Year, so the bookcase will be our starting point. To go along with our travel motif, I want to highlight all of the places Sean and I have been and hope to go with the use of the bookcase. While we have photo frames with photos of us traveling in them, we do not have a place to display the artwork and souvenirs we have brought back, or the travel books that we have. I’ve started collecting some coffee table-style travel books, but we also have the classics. My hope is to display our own little world on the bookcase through the use of photos, souvenirs, and books. It’ll probably take a couple of weeks of major stress for me to get it right, but I have faith that it’ll turn out wonderfully. The first thing we have to do, though, is actually buy the bookcase.

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[Blogger Rumi Neely’s expertly styled bookcase]

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[I love the mix of books, accessories, and storage on this bookcase from Apartment 34]

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[This bookcase from Centsational Girl has a personal touch that I love so much]

I am far from an interior designer, and frankly have no idea what I’m talking about. But I really do love getting this house together and am so looking forward to when it is complete (give me about a year, though).

Country Life: Berko Edition

Living in Berkhamsted (aka not London) this past week has had its challenges, but has also been a nice little break from the city. To start, it sucks not being able to run to the shop to grab something and be back home within ten minutes. And, of course, since I have a long and uphill walk home, it’s been raining non stop!

[Note: hill in picture is steeper than it appears]

However, the worst part so far has been the travel. It is not fun having to wake up an hour earlier to get into work about ten minutes earlier (and pay what feels like millions to do so). I’ve also already had instances of running for the train, missing the train, and the ever despised train delays. 
 [Berkhamsted station, 7am and raining]

But, there are some positives. Last weekend, I convinced Megan to come out and visit (to be honest, it didn’t take much convincing). We pretty much spent the entire afternoon at the pub (shocker) and made new friends in the process. A group of people asked to use the end of our table and instead of perching on the end and minding their own business, they jumped into our conversation….and it ended up being a truly hilarious night. We started at the Boat, which is right on the canal and the “best pub in Berkhamsted” according to Sean and ended at the Goat. It was nice because Sean was working but had a quiet moment so he was even able to join for a bit!

  

Sean and I have also been cooking more, which is great preparation for our new house! This weeks menu was steak, honey-teriyaki salmon, and egg fried rice. We had fantastic dinners and leftovers for lunch! But, now I’m in love with all of Sean’s moms cookware (and kitchen) so I might just get depressed when I move back to Clapham.

  
Lastly, it’s just prettier here! Greener. The air is fresher. I often take for granted city breaks and choos  to focus on the boredom/pollen count instead of the relaxation and fresh air. I’m off traveling from this evening, but look forward to my last few days of country life upon my return. 

  

The Next Move: Flat Hunting in London

So…we’re buying a flat! And it’s stressful. The real world is upon us.

Anyway, Sean and I were debating moving in with each other and stumbled upon the opportunity – his landlord decided to sell his flat, meaning he was getting evicted, and I conveniently had a friend interested in living in mine! We took this opportunity as a sign and decided to start looking. When we first started, we had plenty of time and it was fun. We got to be picky, only view the best places, and had no pressure to settle for anything less than what we wanted.

Fast forward and month and we still haven’t found anything. It’s getting down to the wire and it seems like there are literally NO flats on the market. We’ve also switched from renting to buying which means the options are even fewer. So we accepted that we won’t get everything we want and decided to make a list of priorities. These are the essentials, in order (at least in my head!):

1. Location

This is where we should probably be more flexible, but where we have no desire to be whatsoever. The SW4/SW12 bubble of Clapham is perfect for us – young, full of restaurants and bars (and important stuff like grocery stores, too!), and close to transport links. It is also off of the tube line that takes me direct into work which is a major plus. We both know that we could get something cheaper and larger with a bigger garden and so on if we move further out, but this is the area where we have both chosen to be inflexible. It’s definitely the #1 priority.

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[This is my area map, made with Zoopla – my new favorite site until we find a place!]

2. Budget

This should be number one, but I’ve never been good with money. Just kidding – well not, but that’s not why it’s number one. We both have parents that we can fall back on if need be. Obviously it’s not ideal, but it allows us to be flexible in the area that is normally the most restrictive. To start, we are looking at places much cheaper than either of us can actually afford. I would feel much better if I save money by moving in with Sean, and I know he feels the same way – however if we have to spend a little more to have a place we can truly call home, I’m willing to put off a shopping spree for a couple of months!

3. Storage

This one is mainly for me. I have a lot of…stuff. And not just clothes and makeup and that silly stuff, but things such as suitcases.  I mean, I moved over here from America, so did not have many options for bringing my stuff (shipping is so expensive) so now my suitcases just sit in a corner and it drives me insane. In this new house, we are looking for some built in storage so everything can have a place and the flat can remain tidy (hopefully).

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[This was one of the first flats we viewed – it ended up being a bit too small for us, but I loved how they made such great use of the space with built in storage!]

4. Large common area

We both love having friends over and I’ve always dreamed of having a place where I can entertain – everything from a chilled movie night to a full on dinner party. If we can find a flat with a large living room/common area, I know that this is possible. I prefer open kitchen/living room combos because it makes the space feel larger and also space is not wasted with walls. However, I am also happy with contained rooms if we can find something that is not cramped. I hate spending time in my bedroom during the day, so it is important to find a flat with space large enough to hang out away from the bedroom.

5. Garden

This is the dream – and the thing that is starting to seem more and more unlikely. A garden flat in central London. The flat I lived in last summer had a garden and it was just so nice to sit out there for an evening drink or a meal on the weekends. Even just to escape outside to read a bit seemed like a huge break from the city. Plus, this adds to the possibility of entertaining – hello garden parties! Once again, a dream, but you never know what we might find!

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[Dream – this was unfortunately taken before we had a chance to view it. But so much grass, I love it!]