My living room (it's kind of dark)

Last year when we extended our home and created a huge kitchen / dining / office / snug pace I knew I wanted to paint it the lightest colour possible, and so that's what we did. But marriage, so they tell me, is about compromises and working together, so when I mentioned painting the living room white and Al had a full blown foot-stamping 'I hate white!' moment I knew that I needed to kiss goodbye to all instagram fulled visions of moody white and beige colour schemes. 

'I like dark colours' he told me. To which I smiled sweetly and said 'ok then' whilst inwardly eye-rolling and banging my head repeatedly upon the wall. Dark colours are a statement, they don't have to be bright but they are bold, they speak to you as you walk into the room. Picking a dark coloured paint for the walls was not easy. I poo-pooed dark terracotta, any shade of red and the face I pulled at the mention of purple would make a toddler simultaneously cry and pee themselves. Dark blue maybe? Hmm I see blue, any shade of blue and I think 'bathroom' (I have no idea why), dark beige hues (no one calls it 'brown' any more do they?) were discounted from the mix as we chose that for our bedroom. There was nothing else for it, we were going to have to go green. After a lot of eye boggling at colour charts (which has to be my least favourite way to spend time) we decided on 'Promenade' from Crown's Period Colours range. Now I love the colour and wouldn't paint it white (but don't tell Al that).

It makes the room feel calm. A room to snuggle up in. Despite it's bluey-green colour is feels warm. We wanted our living room to be a toy-free (which isn't hard as Kit and Oz don't like toys much), a space to be to escape life and just chill out and this colour has given us exactly that. I can still indulge my love of white with little splashes of it, it stands out so nicely against the dark colours around it.

Cup of tea

Pictures have been brought down from storage (that's code for 'leaning against the bottom of our bed') and put up. A new one arrived. I love it. Birds and Wild Flowers of the 50 States of America. No photos, anywhere in the house, which is odd considering how many I take. I always feel a bit uncomfortable at the thought of putting up photos I have taken around the house. That's the self-deprecating inner artist in me I guess.

Bird and Blooms of the 50 States framed print

There's been some love on Instagram for this print, entitled 'Bird and Blooms of the 50 States (which you can see here) from UncommonGoods. It's part of a range  created by Anna Branning & Mara Murphythat includes art work, cushions and a book. It love it's large size,  when it arrived I knew it was an 'over the fireplace' job, center point of focus job.

Bird and Blooms of the 50 States framed print

The company, UncommonGoods,  is a privately-owned retailer with a nice ethos of finding unique designs and handcrafted gifts created in harmony with the environment and without harm to animals or people. They run all their operations out of the historic Brooklyn Army Terminal, including their warehouse where the lowest-paid seasonal worker starts at 50% above the minimum wage (if only more UK companies we like this!) Half of what UncommonGoods sell is made by hand so if you like things made by hand, with love and care then you might like to take a looks ta the UncommonGoods website. There's a nice Christmas gift ideas  selection here and some fun and quirky children's things here.

Bird and Blooms of the 50 States framed print

Bird and Blooms of the 50 States framed print

Bird and Blooms of the 50 States framed print

Bird and Blooms of the 50 States framed print

These berries below, I love these! The greenery is real, the berries however are fake. I bought 2 sprigs of them from a local florists things they were real (and over-priced at £2.95 per branch) and only when I got home realised my mistake. If I can pick them up and hold them and think they are real then that's good enough for me not to think it's naff to have artifical planty bits on display. They bring a real festive touch to our home.

Bird and Blooms of the 50 States framed print

The biggest change to our living room are the sofas. We decided to get rid of our old corner sofa, which like many things as it gets older had become a little saggy. It took up a lot of room and yet didn't seat that many people and as a growing family of four we were struggling to all find space to relax. You know how it is, we could all sit down on it but we didn't have the option of having a bit of extra room around us, and as the children grow it's something we all need for our sanity!

Cue and email from Habitat asking if we would like to review something from their sofas and armchairs range. Perfect timing. We chose one sofa for them to send out to us and bought an identical one ourselves, so I went through the sofa ordering and delivery process as both a blogger and a customer. The process was smooth, we were given a delivery time estimation and both sofas arrived within a fortnight of each other. The sofa we picked was this one, the Porto, teal blue fabric 3 seater sofa from Habitat.

I have bought 4 sofas in my lifetime, not a great deal I know, but I have learnt some lessons along the way such as:

Check the measurements. Once I bought one that turned out to be a lot smaller than it looked styled up on the companies website.

You get what you pay for. Everyone loves a bargain, and I'm no different, but buying a sub-£500 sofa is not going to give you lasting quality.

If in doubt get a fabric sample. If you have children really think about the texture of the fabric. For example, our recently-departed corner sofa was a great colour but a textured fabric which meant that everytime a child had a cold / accident /was sick / snuck a yogurt onto it it was swine to clean, literally impossible to totally remove.

Removable covers aren't all that. 'Great the covers will come off and I can clean them' you think. Reality is it's then safer to send them to be dry cleaned professionally (which costs rather a lot) or you can try and do it yourself. And as someone who has done that, slightly shrunk covers and then struggled to wedge the cushioning back in I wouldn't try it again.

Priced at £695, the Porto  is an affordable sofa option. It's sturdy and well made, I love the colour and it's comfy. Having two of these is far more practical for our family of four than a corner sofa. We like it so much we are planning on buying a third one, different colour (loving the Saffron Yellow option) but exactly the same style in Porto collection but the sofa bed option, to go in our guest room.

We bought these brightly coloured chevron throws from Laura Ashley in their recent sale, just to protect the sofas from any random things Kitty and Ozzy might thrown at them. My children, at 6 and 7 years old, are getting less messy and more considered but do have their moments (come to think of it so do I!) The crocheted blanket and cushion used to belong to Al's nan, when she passed on they found a new home with us. I love modern things, I love new things and I love preloved and old things. I wouldn't say our home has a specific style, just one of the random things we love, all mixed together, which come to think of it isn't a bad style to have. 

Our flooring previously was wooden floorboards and it always felt so cold to walk on them but the new Kardean is much warmer and it's distressed look means I never worry about a scratch appearing - it will just blend in. Genius.

Final things I am on the prowl for, if anyone has any recommendations, is a new large rug, a small fireside rug and some cushions - hit me with inspiration people!