Five ways with a photo frame

GOSH I’m really pushing the creativity boat out today. Photo frames.

This post is about dressing your home up without having to spend a fortune. We’re all on that slippery slope into spending lots over Christmas, and we’re being extra cautious at the moment with the wedding and house extension looming.

ribbaBut there are cheap and simple ways to show your home some love – especially as long lost relatives start popping round for mulled wine – and one of them is a black or white photo frame. Who needs a £50 high street canvas when you can make your own and refresh it with every season, or mood? With A4 Ribba frames starting from £6 at Ikea, there are loads of ways to lift your interior:

Wallpaper
If you fall in love with a wallpaper pattern but it’s way too out there for the living room, why not stick it in a frame? It provides the pattern or background you want without you needing seven tubes of paint and a fine art degree to create it yourself. Why not:

  • Cut a slogan, word or shape out of it, and stick it in the middle of your white background?  You’d be surprised how arty and cultured some words can look when typed in Cooper Black and flowered up.
  • Fill your frame with it and draw over it, to liven up a simple pen sketch. The artwork below was inspired by a graffiti drawing of a girl on The Calls in Leeds. I did the black and white version first, on the basis that she was an arty city girl, and reworked her a few months later for a friend who wanted a retro look. You don’t have to do a canvas – just use a thick marker on your wallpaper and pop it into your frame.

graffiti

Glitter

Glitter – as much as I would like to shower in the stuff – doesn’t always scream class. But take it easy, and match it with enough crisp white, and you’re practically designing for The White Company. Gold or silver will make the most timeless design, as will going for a simple shape over anything too complex. Try a glitter heart in the middle of the page, a great pout, or a word. Not great at drawing cool letters? Write the word you want on a desktop/laptop, turn the screen brightness up, and pop your paper over the screen. The outline will show through most paper thicknesses, so that you can trace it.

Create your own quote

You don’t have to live life according to someone else’s inspirational quotes. If you have your own, you can easily make something of it using (LOW tech) Microsoft Powerpoint or (lovely tech) Canva.

20171111_195724.jpg

It’s a free tool that allows you to create an image of any size to suit your frame, and add in a huge range of fonts, symbols, lines and images. Find a design you like and download a high quality version, then print it off on a decent printer. Hey presto. And it’s a simple enough process to create a new piece whenever your mood changes.

Words

Do you have a favourite poem, or song verse? Use it to create a shape on your page. As beautifully demonstrated by the lyrics to Baby Got Back below, (what can I say – it’s been a busy Saturday) you can pull your words into a long strip down the page, or group a verse into the centre of your frame. Sometimes words are enough.

words.JPG

Greenery

fernWho needs a needy plant when you can pop some faux (or dried) greenery into a frame? I love the idea of layering strands of fern, or even cuttings from your Christmas tree, into a frame. Without any fuss, words, contrast, or glitter, you’re creating a frame full of lovely green texture that doesn’t just have to sit on a windowsill or table. Arrange your cuttings over green paper, or so that none of the white behind shows though, for a lush frame that takes the lovely feeling of having house plants up onto your walls, too.

Have you lifted your look with a quick and easy interiors trick? I’d love to hear about it and see the results – feel free to share below or on Twitter @a1ex_b.

 

 

 

Advertisements

How to save money the ‘lagom’ way this January

If, like me, one of your resolutions this year is to save money, you could be in luck.

Granted, it’s through another of the hygge-like trends that seems to overcomplicate the concept of just living well and being happy, but this one is about more than just sheepskin throws and candles.

Tipped to be the Scandinavian lifestyle trend of 2017, is ‘lagom’. You pronounce it ‘lar-gom’ and, as it loosely translates to “not too little, not too much, just right”, it may well help us to stick to the penny-pinching and one-ricecake-a-day diets that dominate January.

It’s a big change from hygge, which really just made it acceptable to bulk buy cushions and bury ourselves under them with a tub of icecream for the whole of December. Now, the focus is on living well, recycling, clean living and being a good person.

And (unsurprisingly) there’s no shortage of brands up for helping us on the quest. Ikea is already sharing the results of its Live LAGOM Project, and refers to the concept as ‘living a kinder life’. It asked customers and employees to try products that would help them to save energy and water, reduce waste and live a healthier lifestyle that – you hope – goes on to make people happier.

The following methods and products stood out to me as simple but really useful for saving money:

  • Swap standard bulbs for LED bulbs, or use LED lamps. Despite moving from a small five-roomed house to a larger eight-roomed house, Lydia has seen a 40% drop in her energy bills: “A comparison chart of our electricity use shows that since switching to LED lights in January, we are using around half of the national average”.
  • Water saving Lydia also used a timer to see how long her family spent in the shower, allowing them to save time in the morning and reducing their water consumption.
  • Indoor gardening Juliette tried an indoor gardening kit and went on a composting course in order to grow her own food and reduce wastage. “I have been experimenting with growing on kitchen scraps such as celery hearts, avocado stone and lettuce bottoms, and love that the gardening kit means I can pull off a few leaves for my lunch and there is no wastage”. See how a hydroponics indoor garden kit works here. The kits and components aren’t cheap, but could pay off in the long run. Here’s one from Ikea.
  • Keeping heat in Luke was finding it impossible to keep his house warm as a lot of heat was being lost through the windows. Since fitting blinds in every window, as well as curtains, he has saved £30 per month in heating costs.

The catch is, that to be balanced and go full-on lagom, you need to make a few investments. Here are my top four suggestions, all free or less than £11 (excluding postage), for living kindly but keeping an eye on costs, too. Fill the empty juice bottle with water or pebbles to save water in your toilet cistern, turn food waste into compost with an indoor composter, and never have to buy supermarket plastic bags with a reusable cotton shopper:lagom1

1 litre empty plastic bottle; Eddingtons Eco Composter, Robert Dyas, £10.49; Counter top compost bin, aplaceforeverything.co.uk, £9; Wally personal finance app, Free on Android and iOS; Deer cotton shopper bag, £5.49, eBay.

Are you embracing lagom this year? I’m feeling motivated to make some small changes now and see if they make a difference – even if it’s just pennies. Share your tips below!