Being energy efficient this Christmas

*This post is written in paid collaboration with E.ON

We caved early this year and got our tree at the end of the first week of December (I’ve got all my fingers crossed that it is going to make it until the big day!). This is the first Christmas that Mimi is really excited about and she was beyond hyped to decorate a tree so we got a big one and she loved every second of filling it with our random mix of baubles that we have collected over the years – definitely no snazzy curated theme for our tree! We have some special additions to the bauble collection this year as I’ve joined energy supplier, E.ON‘s campaign to raise awareness about energy efficiency over the festive period.

They have made some very cool ‘smart baubles’ that are heat responsive. As we spend more time at home at this time of year, the temptation is to crank up the heating to make our homes cosy and festive-feeling meaning we are at risk of wasting precious energy (on average bills are about £50 more than normal in December to prove the point).

Our tree filled with an eclectic mix of baubles collected over the years with the notable exception of the Smart baubles that are shining green – can you see them? They have been created by E.ON to help raise awareness of the issue of energy waste at this time of year. If the baubles shine green then our home is in the most energy efficient temperature range of 18-21 degrees.

So, let me tell you a little more about these smart baubles and what we can all be doing to make this month more sustainable. It is the first Christmas that we’ll be spending at home, just the three of us. We’ll go to family for lunch and have family to us for Boxing Day but I’m very excited about Christmas Eve and morning just us three. There’s always that temptation to overheat the house to make it feel homely and cosy. However, the optimum temperature for a home is 18-21 degrees and the clever E.ON smart baubles shine green when my home is in that good range. However, if I have the heating on too high the baubles change to red, too low and they change to blue. It’s a great visual reminder to make sure that we don’t waste heating and if I feel cold whilst the baubles are green all I have to do is pop on an extra layer. It’s too easy to turn a blind eye to the negative choices we make when it comes to our climate so a daily reminder is nothing but a good thing in my book.

When the E.ON Smart baubles turn red that means our heating is too high, which is a brilliant visual reminder to turn it down to prevent waste.

There are lots of ways that E.ON are helping their customers to be as energy efficient as possible. Firstly, they now provide 100% renewable electricity to all of their customers’ homes at no extra cost. They also now offer smart thermostats and smart meters, both of which give the customer far more control over their use of energy and far more awareness of what is being used – until relatively recently the first we knew of how much energy we were using was at the end of the month with the arrival of the bill. But now being able to see exactly what temperature your home is and how much energy has been used will enable customers to change their behaviour to prevent waste.

E.ON also make energy efficient boilers meaning less gas is used and heating bills should be less too. You can read more about the different things that can be done at home to save energy here.

And finally, if the baubles turn blue this means that our home is too cold. Clever, right?

I hope you all have a really wonderful Christmas and I can’t wait to be back here a lot more in the new year as Mimi is starting pre-school so I’m going to have lots more time to dedicate to the blog (and I promise to layer up whilst working from home rather than cranking up the heat!).

Katy x

Why I want curtains in every room in my house

*This post has been written in paid collaboration with Couture Living

As you know I have been working on transforming our box room of doom to make it into a multi-functional work/guest/storage room. I’ve switched the furniture round and sold the daybed, installed some storage cupboards and changed the colour of the woodwork (I still need to do a fair bit like painting the walls – I think I’m going to use Slipper Satin). However, none of these changes made a massive difference to the feel of the room until… I hung new curtains! To say that they have transformed the look and feel of the room is a massive understatement. I’m collaborating with Couture Living, who offer an online made to measure curtain service, to explain why I am a total curtain convert and why I want them in every room in my house.

I’ve swapped the furniture around in here so that the desk is now next to the window. The woodwork is painted in Shaded White and I still need to paint the walls (Slipper Satin, I think). However, it’s the addition of these beautiful linen curtains from Couture Living that have made all the difference.

The first thing I want to say is that I am absolutely delighted with the curtains that I received from Couture Living and can’t recommend their service highly enough. The curtains were very easy to order, they are exquisitely well made and the fabric is beautiful. I chose to have my curtains interlined so that they are gorgeously thick and luxurious feeling. The curtains have three layers: the linen fabric on the front – I chose the Halki Linen, a blackout lining on the back and another layer of fabric in the middle. This not only makes them feel wonderful and drape beautifully but the thickness keeps heat in and cold out. It’s quite amazing the difference a quality pair of curtains can make to the warmth of a room and as we only have a small radiator in our box room these curtains really help to keep it lovely and cosy. I’m now thinking about this pink velvet fabric for a hallway curtain – what do you think?

The curtains are interlined so they are gloriously thick.
I chose Halki Linen, which is a beautiful dark linen colour that complements the Shaded White woodwork really well.

The thing that always shocks me about hanging curtains compared to minimal blinds is how much bigger they can make a room feel, which is another reason to have them everywhere. It seems strange, I know, that by adding metres of fabric to a room it can appear bigger but it’s true. As long as you hang the curtains high enough and long enough (must be touching the floor in my book) they will give the optical illusion of grand high ceilings, even in a small box room like mine. I am gobsmacked at how much bigger the room now feels compared to the barely visible roller blind we had up in here temporarily.

The full length curtains (they should always touch the floor in my opinion) have made this box room feel so much bigger!
Beautiful new plant pots from The Future Kept finish off this window perfectly.

As I said, the addition of these curtains has totally made this room look and feel ‘finished’. Curtains have the ability of pulling a colour scheme together and unifying a room. They have made my unfinished room feel so warm and inviting in a way that no other piece of furniture or decor could do. If you are struggling with a room not feeling complete think about what you have on your windows as it may be the key piece of the room that’s missing. The other important part of having beautiful, beautiful curtains in a room like this, that has previously been a dumping ground and somewhere that I close the door and ignore most of the time, is that I suddenly have a new found desire to spend time in here. I really think it will help motivate me to use the room properly and it will finally shake its room of shame label!

It feels so nice to sit at this desk now.

Choosing, measuring, fitting and hanging curtains can be off putting to some as it can be quite an involved process. However, after using the Couture Living site I can honestly say that it really doesn’t need to scare anyone. The biggest quandary will always be what fabric to choose and after that all the hard work is done for you with this very useful curtain and blind measuring guide and my top tip is this very inexpensive curtain rod that makes hanging curtains so easy.

I bought a £7 curtain rod from IKEA to hang the curtains and for a small window like this that is perfectly fine.
I was very close to choosing a patterned fabric but I’m so glad I went with a plain linen as I can introduce colour and pattern with a rug and textiles on the bed.

I’ll be honest and say that I agonised over the the fabric choice and I was very close to choosing this William Morris fabric but actually I am so thrilled with my final choice of Halki Linen so these are my tips for choosing the right fabric for your room:

1. Order samples… always!

2. Pick a colour from your room’s colour scheme either from the walls, carpet, lampshade or art work. Choose a neutral – I was very close to choosing this gorgeous parchment linen, which is slightly lighter in colour than the Halki Linen – if you want the curtains to blend with the rest of the room or an accent colour if you want the curtains to make a statement or even establish the colour scheme for a room.

3. If you choose a pattern think about how they will look closed as well as open.

4. Select the type of fabric very carefully as this will have a big bearing on how your curtains drape and the feel they will give to the room. Cotton and linen will hang well whilst velvet will give a much more opulent feel.

5. If you want to block out light you will need black out lining and if drafts are a concern choose inter lining (so there are three layers of fabric) which gives the curtain a wonderful heaviness and luxurious feel.

I love my new work spot and I no longer even notice the ugly uPVC window now!

So, I’m left wanting curtains in every room and I would absolutely love them in our sitting room bay window but I fear the cost of a curved curtain rod and the fact that there isn’t much space to draw the curtains back onto is an issue. Anyone else successfully hung curtains in a bay in a small room? I’d love to see pics if you have any.

Katy x

Printing photographs to create wall art or special gifts

*This is a paid collaboration with Snapbook

Discount code for 20% off everything at Snapbook: APARTMENT APOTHECARY

I made a promise to myself a few months ago that I would start the process of filling all of our blank walls to give the house more character and to help it feel more homely. Part of that process has been about printing out precious photographs and getting them well framed to hang on the walls. I have thousands of photos on my phone – as I’m sure so many of us have – but putting them up on the wall is just so lovely. That’s why I am very pleased to collaborate with Snapbook (you can download the app here) as it takes all of the effort out of photo printing as it operates through an app so you can do it all directly through your phone – no need to download, USBs or visiting photo printing shops etc.

Katharine Peachey took some beautiful shots very shortly after Mimi was born that I have printed using the Snapbook app and framed with a large mount to make them piece of wall art.

I decided to print out some special photographs that were taken by our lovely friend Katharine when she visited us the week after Mimi was born as well as the first photo Jules took immediately after I gave birth and met Mimi for the first time. Mimi just loves looking at ‘real’ photos and the framed ones we have in her room are some of her favourite things to talk about. Snapbook offer various photo print sizes so I chose the 5×7″ and with a large mount and frame they suddenly become proper pieces of wall art with a photo that cost 25p to print! Yes, the mount and frame costs a lot more but compared to a piece of art it’s a much more affordable way to fill your walls. Also, if you are struggling to think of meaningful Christmas presents why not get a lovely photo printed and framed beautifully? I really think that is a present that most people would love.

The quality of the Snapbook prints really does justice to the these beautiful photographs.
This photo was just a lucky snap that Jules took on his (pretty rubbish) phone but by making it black and white and printing it 5×7″ it looks great. Such a precious memory of being handed Mimi for the first time after her birth.

I also printed a photo that I took for Instagram a long time ago in our old flat. I have always loved it and Snapbook offer a square 8×8″ print option – which is perfect for Instagram pics. Again, by adding a black mount and frame it has become a piece of wall art and it’s so nice to have that memory of our old flat, which represents a completely different phase of our lives, hanging in our new house.

I printed this Instagram image and made it quite big 8×8″. By using a large black mount it makes it a quite a large piece of wall art.

The other option Snapbook offer is having photos printed onto objects, which can make great personalised gifts. One of the things that I have done for Jules the last few years at Christmas is print a collection of family photographs of the year. We don’t buy gifts for each other so this is just a really nice tradition that I have started. This year instead of the prints I have made him a photobook using the Snapbook app. I was worried that this would be a very involved and lengthy process as I have never made one before but I know friends who have done them who have said they have taken forever. However, Snapbook offer an ‘autofill’ option or a ‘customise your own’ option. I chose autofill so I had made an album on my phone of all the pictures that I wanted to include, I selected them and then Snapbook fills up your photobook with the photos – as easy as that! I decided to swap a few around just because some are more special than others and I wanted them to be placed more prominently but it really was very easy. I was able to do the whole thing on my phone whilst sitting on the sofa one evening. The quality of the printing is great ad it’s a really sweet book of memories.

I started a tradition a few years ago of giving Jules a collection of printed photographs of special memories of the previous year and so I thought using Snapbook’s photobook option this year would be perfect for him.
None of the photos are anything more than quick phone snaps – it’s not curated in any special way. Just a really nice collection of the everyday happy memories.
I used the ‘autofill’ option for the photo book so it was very quick and easy to use.

The other thing I have decided to do this Christmas, instead of giving out token gifts that are so often a waste of money, packaging and resources is to include a couple of lovely photo prints into Christmas cards. The photos are special memories that we’ve made with the friend/family this year and I think that’s a much nicer thing to receive than a novelty gift.

I hope this has given you some ideas for getting those photos off your phones! Download the Snapbook app from Apple Store or Google Play and have a go to see how easy it is for yourselves. Get 20% off everything using code: APARTMENT APOTHECARY

Katy x

A new winter look for my sofas and 25% off for you

*This post is written in collaboration with Bemz – use code aptapoth25 for 25% off their entire range until November 25th.

I’ve already told you about Bemz who make covers for IKEA furniture as they gifted me a set of natural linen covers for my IKEA Soderhamn sofas back when we first moved in. The covers have been an absolute triumph not only still looking fresh and beautiful after a year of use but have withstood the bustle of our home and several washes (all of the covers are completely removable and washable at 40 degrees). What I love about my natural linen covers is that they are light, loose and floaty (they are the loose urban fit – you can see them in this post) and therefore perfect for the spring and summer. They have got many years left in them, I hope, but I’ve just removed and washed them all and packed them up in the loft for the winter because, very excitingly, Bemz have invited me to showcase one of their new fabrics on my sofas. I’m also excited to tell you that I can offer you 25% off their entire range until November 25th with code aptapoth25 – you’ve got to be quick!

I’m very excited to be showcasing some of the new fabrics in which Bemz make covers for IKEA furniture. I have chosen a Designers Guild linen in Pewter for my Soderhamn sofas and Indigo velvet cushions.

I have chosen one of their new Designers Guild linens for the sofas in Brera Lino Pewter, which is a lovely soft blue grey that tones with our Light Blue woodwork so well. The Indigo Velvet cushions, another of their new fabrics, is the perfect shade to pull together the colours in my rug and our Railings kitchen at the other end of the room. The old set of natural linen covers pushed the room outwards and made everything feel bigger but these Pewter and Indigo covers do the opposite; they pull the room together and make it feel cosier.

I have added texture and colour with these gorgeous vintage Berber cushions from Yonder (a press loan).
The Pewter linen tones so well with the Light Blue woodwork and the indigo cushions pull the colours from the rug and kitchen together so all in all it makes the room feel more connected and cosier, which is perfect for this time of year.

The other big difference is that I have chosen the regular fit cover style and changed the feet from the IKEA steel ones (which I wouldn’t choose to display as they wouldn’t work in this room) to these gorgeous natural wooden ones by Bemz. I chose the simple Kastell tapered tapered wooden furniture legs for the two sofas and then the gorgeous Terence chunky wooden furniture legs for the ottoman. The addition of the warm wood and being able to see more floor space helps to keep the room feeling spacious at the same time as cosy.

Bemz also make these beautiful feet for furniture that can totally transform the look of a piece.
I chose the simple wooden tapered feet for the sofas and they look so much softer than the original chrome ones.
I love the combination of the Pewter linen with the Light Blue woodwork in this room.

What I really like about the Pewter colour is that it’s not too dark so it could also easily transition to Spring with a change up of the cushions. Also, it’s relatively neutral so could work with lots of different colours (I’ve just designed a sitting room room for someone with a very similar colour sofa and Setting Plaster walls and it looks great!). It’s a very adaptable colour. The linen itself is of a beautiful quality as you would expect from Designers Guild. It feels very robust and thicker than my previous covers so the texture feels more winter-like. With the added softness of the velvet cushions the sofas feel very inviting and ready for nights at home. The velvet is also washable, which blows my mind, as the last velvet armchair we had marked so badly that no one other than responsible adults were allowed near it!

All of Bemz’s furniture covers are washable at 40 degrees including the velvet fabrics, which is amazing (especially with pets!).
The colours of the new covers work so well with my rug.
The quality of the linen is just stunning.

I’ve combined these gorgeous vintage Berber cushions with the blues to add some warmth and they work well with the pinks in my rug. The texture of these cushions, made from remnants of Berber rugs, is perfect for this seasonal feel too. I borrowed them from Yonder for this blog post and I am so tempted to buy them as they really are divine and beautifully made.

I love how the addition of these gorgeous cushions lifts all the blues and adds colour and texture.

The room really does feel very different just by changing the sofa covers and cushions – nothing else at all in the room has been changed. It just goes to show that you don’t have to do a full decorating job to give your home a brand new look. I’d love to know which look you prefer…

Brera Lino Pewter (regular fit covers) and Indigo Simply Velvet cushions with Kastell tapered legs on sofas and Terence chunky legs on ottoman.
Rosendal Pure Washed Linen – Unbleached (loose urban fit covers).

We’re all ready to settle in for the festive season but I know already I’ll love retrieving my old covers from the loft once the Spring arrives!

Katy x

DIY cane panelled cupboard

We are currently decorating our spare room, which until now, has been a dumping ground. As we’ve worked around the house trying to make each space our own our ‘box room’ has been neglected and has become the room where we can shut away all the things we’re just not sure what to do with. I took heart the other day when on Instagram so many of you got in touch to tell me that you too have a room of shame but it is time to get this room sorted as our house is small and we desperately need more storage. In short, we need to make this room work as hard as possible: guest room, work room, storage space. We have a very small budget to transform this room and so for storage we are using two cabinets that I actually bought some time ago from IKEA for our last flat. They are very basic pine IVAR cabinets but I want this room to feel quite smart and sleek in the hope that that will deter us from dumping here in future. Therefore, with some help from Bosch Home & Garden power tools I have made the cupboards my own and given them a makeover that I hope you agree makes them much more special than the original £40 I paid for them. There’s no way that I had the budget for fancy panelled cabinets in this room that cost hundreds of pounds so a DIY project made perfect sense and it is always worth thinking about whether you can transform a piece of existing furniture in your home rather than buying new every time.

The makeover took about two hours and it’s actually relatively simple with no specific skill or expertise needed. I was apprehensive about using a jigsaw for this project as I always think it’s a major power tool that requires real skill and strength to control but the Bosch Home & Garden cordless jigsaw was brilliantly easy to use and required far less physical effort than I anticipated as it just glides through the wood. Both the jigsaw and the drill driver were much smaller and lighter than any I’ve used before but actually felt more powerful (Jules and I are both very VERY upset that they are only on loan for this project as we think that they are much better than the ones we own). The other good thing about these tools is that they use the same battery and charger so adding more tools to the collection is relatively cost-effective and it’s super quick and easy to transfer the battery from one tool to another.

I’ll be honest and say that I am happy to let Jules take over when it comes to power tools as I always think it seems complicated and physically difficult – I have horrible carpel tunnel and very prone to tendonitis so I’m not keen on putting my joints under strain. However, I can hand on heart say that I was keen to use these tools as it all felt really easy and intuitive and at no point did I need to use too much physical effort. By the way, the only reason you can see Jules in the photos is because he can’t use the camera properly – I took over to do the work after the photos, I promise!

So, back to the cupboard… here are the step by step instructions to guide you through this project and if you have any questions please do leave a comment and I will get back you.

Materials needed:

Drill driver

Jigsaw

Cordless tacker

– Clamps

– Protective gloves, goggles and ear protection

– Solid wood cabinets (mine are IVAR from IKEA)

– Paint – I used Shaded White from Farrow & Ball in Modern Eggshell.

Cane webbing – I chose the Aerial or Radio cane weave panelling just because I prefer the way it looks compared to the six weave cane, which still looks a little old fashioned to me even though it’s very on trend. I ordered it from this site (you have to place your order by phone!) and it cost about £30 for one cabinet so not cheap but I think it’s worth it.

– Hockey stick wood trim – you can buy it in any hardware store and it comes in all sorts of decorative profiles or plain like mine. You just need to make sure you choose one that will fit the depth of your door. It cost £6 for one cabinet.

– Mitre box and hacksaw to cut trim

– Set square, ruler or tape measure

– Pencil

– Scissors

– Wood glue and a few racks and hammer to attach trim

– Handles – totally optional as the IVAR cabinets don’t actually need them. The ones I have used came out of my sister’s kitchen as she’s just sold her flat (I chose them for her) but I don’t think she’s going to let me keep them 😉 They are from Dowsing & Reynolds.

This is how the cabinets looked before the makeover. They are solid pine IVAR cabinets from IKEA. We have hung them on the wall just sitting above the skirting board as being able to see as much floor space as possible in a small room makes it feel bigger. However, they are very ‘blocky’, which can make a space feel smaller so I decided to change the cabinet doors.

DIY tutorial

Step one:

Remove doors from cupboard as well as the support strut on the back of the door using a drill driver. N.B. I had already constructed and painted my cupboard before I began this project. When using the drill driver make sure you don’t wear gloves but do use googles and ear protection.

Step two:

Use a pencil to mark the inside panel that will be removed. I left a 5cm border on each door and used a set square for ease and accuracy but a ruler or tape measure will do.

Step three:

Use a drill driver to create four holes – one in each corner of the door within the rectangle that you have marked out. I used a spade drill bit to make the hole quite big as this is where you begin with the jigsaw.

Step four:

Clamp the door to a work bench in preparation for removing the central panel of each door with a jigsaw. Wear protective gloves and goggles whilst using the jigsaw and ear protection too. You can connect your vacuum cleaner hose to the back of the jigsaw so that the saw dust is sucked away, which is very useful so that you can sight your cutting line and so your house doesn’t get filled with dust. Start cutting at one of the holes that has been drilled out and line up the red line at the front of the jigsaw with your pencil mark and that will make it very easy to cut in a straight line. You will need to rotate the door and re-clamp it after you have cut each side.

Step five:

Once you have removed the central panel from the door you will see that the cut is quite rough and therefore looks very unfinished. You can either sand it well or add trim, which is what I chose to do. I bought 2cm pine hockey trim – for both doors it cost £6 – and I think it was well worth the extra effort as it gives the doors a much more professional looking finish. Hockey trim sort of hooks over the unfinished edge so it sits proud of the door. I used a mitre box to cut the trim at a 45 degree angle and then used wood glue and a few tacks to keep it in place. I then painted it the same colour as the cupboards but a contrasting colour could look great.

Step six:

Once the paint on the trim is dry, place the door on the back side of the cane and use a pencil to mark out the internal rectangle. You then need a border of at least 2cm of excess cane on the back of the door to staple down. Cut the cane to size once you have worked out how much you need. If you find that your cane is particularly difficult to handle because it’s been rolled for a long time, for example, you can soak it in warm water in the bath for ten minutes to make it easier to manage.

Step seven:

To fix the cane panels in place start tacking in the middle and work your way outwards to each corner, holding the cane as taught as possible. I used the Bosch Home & Garden Cordless Tacker to fix the cane in place and I have to say, compared to a traditional staple gun, it is brilliant. It is battery powered and can be charged very easily and it takes all the effort out of stapling, especially into a hard surface such as solid wood. I was able to completely concentrate on holding the cane taught rather than having to put loads of effort into the stapling. So quick and easy to use – I’m thinking it would be a brilliant thing to have for upholstery projects too.

You’re all done! Re-attach the doors and I also added some pretty handles. I really love the finished doors and they ended up costing so much less than a brand new cane panelled cabinet would have cost. I hope they make this room feel much more individual than it would have done otherwise and I’m actually quite amazed at was I was able to achieve by myself with the Bosch Home & Garden power tools (remember Jules just stood in for the photos!) and for a relatively small cost. Another benefit of these doors is that they break up the big block of pine so feel far less imposing, which is ideal for a small box room. What do you think?

If you fancy trying out a DIY project of your own for your home do take a look at Bosch Home & Garden’s online magazine, All About DIY, as it contains loads of great tutorials and projects. Happy DIYing!

Katy x

P.S. I’ll show you the finished room soon!

*This post was a paid collaboration with Bosch Home & Garden