The Ideal Home Show

Goodness what an incredibly fruitful day I had at the Ideal Home Show. Invited to a ‘Bloggers Meet Up’ in the Press Office first thing…


‘Pardon?’ I hear you ask…This turned out to be a delicious breakfast buffet, where we were able to sample lots of the gourmet food goodies being exhibited at the show.


Lizzie Ford from Mabel’s Log is getting stuck in…I don’t think I know where to start!

Gregg Wallace form Masterchef came over to say hello to food blogger, Gerry from Gerry’s Kitchen, which he describes as the Ramblings (or is that ‘rumblings’?) Of a Hungry Man…

We were also all presented with goodie bags stuffed with wonderful samples from the likes of Diary Dolls, Chocolati, The Occasional Cake Company


And we had an absolute blast, from left to right, Miss West End Girl, me, Mummy Central and Mo’Adore!

We were shown around the Sterling Furniture Stand by their in-house interior designer Sara Hyslop, who gave us a fascinating insight into the differing taste and style of Scotland’s cities…it would appear some of us cannot get enough Bling…

Sara Hyslop



My wonderful colleague Mairi weighing up the Neoprene curtains Sara had on display…


Miss West End Girl looking absolutely beautiful in the Sterling bedroom, that we all agreed was absolutely made for her!


My eye was caught by both the Wabi Sabi serenity of craftsman, Colin Parker


And the glittery girlie splendour of Glitter Tastic!

There is definitely something for everyone…still on today!

The Devil is in the Detail

Updating and renovating a home is a subject close to my heart…

Doug and I are not ‘serial renovators’, we are far too boring and domesticated for that, but we are real home lovers. We buy homes that we genuinely want to live in and we, very slowly, do them up and make them, as we want them.

We have only had three homes in the twenty years we have been together…neither startlingly few nor amazingly many…but we do see a lot of homes, there is no doubt about that, which, I think, makes me quite well qualified on the subject!

Here is our friends Gemma & Rick McQueenie’s home.



They really are serial renovators, Rick is an architectural consultant, REM Associates, so they have a professional edge, but they are genuine home lovers too and they certainly get every detail right – check out their internal doors!


Here is their living room before they got started –

sitting room before

They reduced the length of the living room to increase the size of their kitchen…



Natty isn’t it?

This was their hall before –

hall before

And after –


Replacing the internal doors and getting it right lifts a home tremendously. Details really count when restoring a property. Most of us know about flooring, a less obvious element is the doors. Get them right and you will have a very satisfying result.

The front door is the first thing you see though, of course, and the golden rule is – restore or replace: maximise that ‘kerb appeal’. Contemporary front doors are a joy to behold –

Oslo front

Imagine coming home to that? The OSLO front door from Todd Doors

Malmo front

Or this – the Oak Malmo (anyone watch Wallander on Saturday night? It’s back!) – stunning – you will just be dying to go home the moment you install one!

Door furniture is also crucial…

rhodoshandle Handle

mushroom handle

Choosing a brushed, stainless steel ‘Mushroom’ door handle would be a lovely update on a period or contemporary door. If you feel like you need a little bit of inspiration it’s worth having a browse of online door suppliers such as Todd Doors or Direct Doors as seeing what’s out there can often give you some new ideas on how to transform your home. You’d be surprised at how much of an impact the right fixtures and fittings can have on a room. Sometimes there’s no need to fork out on an expensive piece of furniture or go to the trouble of decorating when a few small changes can make all the difference.


Back to DIY and Ronseal, we really have just about finished our house and we really are working on the garden now, which I find an absolute joy…it is so much less stressful and so much more fun than doing up a house – you don’t have to live in it for a start.

patio before

Our garden, before we actually started gardening!

patio befores 002

Crumbs, the progress we have made is just incredible…



Please don’t say that you preferred it before!
It looks a bit bare in these pics, taken last summer…the planting has recently become a bit more intense…



It is not quite ‘there’…would actually like it to be more dense than this and more coastal….I am looking for more silvery leafed plants and more grasses…

The great thing is there are no rules…you can do anything – you can paint the walls and fences blue, you can stick furniture in – it does not have to be ‘garden furniture’, it can be any furniture that you don’t mind getting wet! You can spend a lot of money on a garden of course – you can go the ‘outside room’ route and get major building work done if you want – and that is not money thrown away: a user friendly, stylish garden definitely adds to the value and saleability of a house. Alternatively, you can just ‘potter’: you can grow veg, scrounge cuttings from friends – try a plant swap with tea and cake every now and then – great fun!

Gabrielle Blackman home

Thrilled to have a guest blogger today – I honestly think this is a first for me!

A very warm welcome to Annie Kruse…

Hi this is Annie from Stylejuicer and I’m delighted to write a guest post for the lovely Alison on her fabulous blog.

This is the home of Gabrielle Blackman, UK TV presenter on DIY SOS and interior designer.



For her period home in Bristol she chose to combine a raw, almost unfinished look with some elegant pieces of furniture in accent colours like the gorgeous mustard yellow sofa and chair.


A dominant feature is the deliberately roughly painted white wooden floor reflecting light and giving it a real arty bohemian studio feel.


I almost expect to see an easel surrounded by pots of paint and a muse lounging on one of those inviting period armchairs.


Her soft colour palette of different shades of grey is complimented by vintage furniture and flea market finds, some of which are painted (never perfectly) in complimenting colours like navy and green.


Her decorating solution suits the period style of the property perfectly and her elegant interior design makes the space feel much loved and lived-in.


A lovely bohemian family home.

Wishing you all an inspired day. Annie x

Deidre Iris Young – DIY

DIY can be a source of tension in couples…unless you have a partner to whom you just mention a wee job to, and before you can turn round and say ‘where’s the electric screwdriver’, it’s done, or a lot of money and you can just employ people who are like that, there is usually quite a lot of discussion/arguing and huffing and puffing on the subject.


I have a very difficult combination embodied in my husband: he is very good at DIY but has a love/hate relationship with it – complicated I know – if any psycho-therapists out there would like me to do a sponsored post in return for a mention and write up the results in exchange for a few sessions, I would be very grateful. I don’t know whether this problem stems from his childhood or whether it is a result of traumatic experiences as an adult (ie having to work and bring up a couple of children) that have caused this, but it would be interesting to find out.

His relationship with DIY was so all consuming at one point, that his Auntie Margery used to call it his ‘other woman – Deidre Iris Young’ – yes, very funny…it wore off in the end… work got ever more demanding I think, and possibly when our children were very small and I actually could have done with a bit of help, he felt more compelled by it, than now that our children are older and more independent….hmmm…comments and observations very welcome.

Ronseal have actually done some research into this matter, very kindly…


The results are confusing aren’t they? Which I think shows what a compete minefield this subject is!!

Our house is pretty much done now, so these arguments are distant memories now, but there is always the garden…


Now, where’s the Ronseal??