The Easiest Wallpaper Installation DIY EVER!

I love wallpaper. It has the ability to completely change the look of a room with fairly little effort. But installation can be quite messy since you need to apply the wallpaper paste to the back of the paper and let it soak for a bit before applying. So, when my Photowall wallpaper arrived and I quickly peeked at the instructions (I don’t HAVE to read it, because I KNOW how to install wallpaper, but I just had to make sure), I was totally blown away by a simple change in application method that made the world of difference! This was by far the easiest wallpaper installation I have ever done!

LockDown Nesting – it’s a real thing!

Like a lot of people, spending day after day in my home during lockdown has made my DIY fingers itch. So far, I have turned the playroom into a home school room, made a new vegetable patch… oh, and revamped the kitchen. But that was a completely unintended DIY. More about that later. Photowall contacted me BC (Before Corona – remember those days??) to ask if I would like to try out their wallpaper, but the lockdown prevented delivery for a couple of months.

So, when the boxes arrived a couple of weeks ago, I was more than excited to get going on a new project. Their range of available papers is truly astounding: there are thousands of prints and murals, ranging from subtle and safe to bold and brave. They even create custom prints from your own photographs. I enlisted the help of my bestie, sister, and my husband, and eventually decided on a busy tropical print in grey, green, and a dusty coral.

Photowall calculates the necessary quantity based on your wall’s dimensions, so I just had to measure the width and height and they did the rest. I also ordered the assembly kit which came in very useful during installation.

Why This is The Easiest Wallpaper Installation Ever

wallpaper installation DIY

So here is the revolutionary change in installation method: You apply the wallpaper paste to the WALL instead of to the PAPER 🤯. I know, it sounds so obvious, but this made a massive difference in installation time. The other thing that really simplifies the process, is that Photowall clearly indicates where you have to cut the paper. This makes getting the pattern repeat correct, a breeze – plus it minimizes wastage.

See below for a full video tutorial of TRADITIONAL wallpaper installation.

How to install Photowall Wallpaper

photowall wallpaper installation kit

Difficulty: mildly challenging

Time: 2 hours – depending on the size of your wall, of course!

You will need:

  • wallpaper from Photowall
  • wallpaper paste (this is included with the wallpaper)
  • wallpaper brush
  • craft knife
  • wet cloth
  • drop sheet
  • straight edge
  • spirit level
  • pencil

* You can get all the tools you need in the very convenient Wallpaper Installation Kit 😉

Step 1:

Make sure that your walls are clean and that any holes have been filled after you’ve removed fixings. Then you’ll need to determine how straight your walls are (most aren’t). Starting with the left side of the wall, use a straight edge (or long ruler) and the spirit level included in the tool kit, and draw a line one wallpaper-width from the edge (45cm in my case). Now measure from this line back to the corner in several places. This will help you see where there are any discrepancies. As long as nowhere is wider than the width of the paper, you’re good to go! If it is, move that line slightly closer to the corner.

Step 2:

Mix the wallpaper paste according to the instructions on the packet.

Step 3:

Paint the wall with the wallpaper paste using the supplied brush, a couple of panel widths at a time.

Step 4:

Cut the panels according to the guide printed on the paper and stick them to the wall.

Step 5:

Smooth out any bubbles with the paper hanging brush.

Step 6:

Smooth out join lines with the little seam roller.

Step 7:

  Trim away the excess paper at the top and bottom using the cutting guide and trimming knife. Repeat step 3 – 7 until all the panels are installed, carefully matching up the pattern as you go.

Step 8:

easiest wallpaper application

Stand back and admire your work!

Top Tip 1:

Start by installing the second panel (all panels are marked) along the right-hand edge of the pencil line. It’s super important to get this first panel completely straight in order to keep it the easiest wallpaper installation on the rest of the wall. Then work your way back to the first panel, cutting away any excess paper in the corner. 

Top Tip 2:

Carefully cut around any light switches and plug points, and ensure that you smooth down the paper around it afterward. It really is as easy as paint, cut and stick. I did an entire 5m wide by 3m high wall in less than 2 hours, including trimming the paper. By far the fastest revamp I’ve ever done!

easy wallpaper

The installation kit of course helps – the paper cutting guide works a charm, and the brush easily works out any bubbles. My wall was quite big and had a door and some plug points as well, so when the cutting tool lost its sharp edge, I used my good old Stanley knife to finish the job.

super cute wallpaper seam roller

Another handy little tool in the box is the seam roller. I’ve never used one of them before but now I can’t imagine installing wallpaper without it! My wall is completely seamless thanks to this little guy.

Can patterns actually make a room look bigger?

The interesting thing is that my kids walked in and wanted to know how I made the room bigger! It really appears that way. Often we are scared to use busy patterns and darker colours in a space for fear of making it appear smaller. This just goes to show that deep colours and smaller patterns can have quite the opposite effect.

More on that here!

Please remember to use your 25% discount code when you place your order with Photowall (valid until        ).

photowall discount voucher

Happy Lockdown Decorating!        

The Lavishly Rich Walnut Rosewater Cake Your Valentine Needs

This wildly wonderful walnut rosewater cake is so packed full of flavour that it will bring tears of your joy to your loved one’s eyes! This tasty cake easy to make, although a little bit labour intensive. But it will be well worth the effort! Try it for tea or serve as a decadent dessert.

Adapted from an original recipe in Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh.

HOW TO MAKE A WALNUT ROSEWATER CAKE

Walnut Rosewater Cake with Crystallised Rose petals

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cardamom pods, bruised, seeds reserved, pods discarded
  • 1 cup (150g) walnuts, plus extra chopped
    walnuts to serve (* the original recipe uses pistachios, but I prefer walnuts so I ended using those)
  • 1 cup (100g) almond flour
  • 170g rye flour (*originally, this is a semolina-based cake. But being wheat intolerant, I opted to use rye flour. It provided the perfect accompaniment to the nuttiness!)
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 300g unsalted butter, chopped, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups (330g) caster sugar
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tbs rosewater
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

ROSEWATER CREAM

  • 200g Double cream plain yoghurt
  • 200g creme fraiche
  • 1 tbs icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tbs rosewater

SYRUP

  • 100ml lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) rosewater
  • 1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar

CRYSTALLISED ROSE PETALS (OPTIONAL)

  • 1 eggwhite
  • 10g (about 40) edible red or dark pink rose petals (from gourmet food shops)
  • 25g caster sugar
Walnut Rosewater Cake with Crystallised Rose petals

METHOD

  1. First, preheat oven to 80°C. Grease a baking tray and line with baking paper. Grease a 23cm springform cake pan and line with baking paper
  2. For the crystallised rose petals, if using, whisk egg white until frothy. In 2 batches, use a small pastry brush to very lightly paint over both sides of each petal with egg white, then sprinkle with sugar. Shake off excess sugar and arrange petals on the prepared tray. Bake for 30 minutes or until petals are dry and crunchy, then set aside to cool.
  3. Increase the oven temperature to 180°C.
  4. To make the walnut rosewater cake, place cardamom seeds and walnuts in a food processor and whiz until walnuts are finely ground. Transfer walnut mixture to a bowl and add almond meal, rye flour, baking powder and 1/4 tsp fine salt. Stir to combine.
  5. Place butter and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until well combined (be careful not to overwork – you don’t want a lot of air in the mixture). With the motor running, slowly add egg, beating well. Fold through the wallnut mixture, then fold through lemon zest and juice, rosewater and vanilla until just combined. Spread batter into prepared pan and use a palette knife to smooth the surface. Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean but a little oily.
  6. Meanwhile, for the rosewater cream, place all ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk to medium peaks. Cover and chill until needed.
  7. Start with the syrup in the final 10 minutes of cake cooking. Place all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil and stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, drizzle with hot syrup (it looks like a lot of syrup; the hot cake will absorb it). Then sprinkle with extra wallnuts and set cake aside in the pan to cool to room temperature.
  8. Finally, remove walnut rosewater cake from the pan and scatter with crystallised rose petals, if using, breaking some into pieces. Serve with rosewater cream for even more deliciousness.
Walnut Rosewater Cake with Crystallised Rose petals

This walnut rosewater cake is the cherry on top of a relaxing weekend outdoors or a romantic evening spent underneath flower fairy lights. Let us know if you enjoy this walnut and rosewater cake as much as we did!

Happy Baking this Valentine’s Day!

 

Glühwein Poached Pears With Spiced Mascarpone Cream

Nothing smells like Christmas as citrus, cinnamon, cloves and star anise. I know that these warming spices seem out of place when we celebrate Christmas in a warm country like South Africa, but there is something about this smell that warms my heart and makes me want to switch on fairy lights.  Just making this delicious dessert is enough to put you in the festive spirit –  my whole house smelled like Jingle Bells! And it is so good that I licked out the pot. I had to wrestle the spoon from one of my children! This recipe for Gühwein poached pears with spiced mascarpone cream comes from Nadia Lim, and it is absolutely delicious served cold. So get ready for a traditional Christmas dessert, served chilled as it should be on a hot Christmas day!

gluhwein poached pears

How to Make Glühwein Poached Pears With Spiced Mascarpone Cream

You will need

For the Pears:

  • 750ml red wine
  • 1 1/2 cups orange juice (with no pulp)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence (or seeds from 1 vanilla pod)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • peel and juice of 1 orange
  • peel and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 6 firm pears

For the Spiced Mascarpone Cream

  • 1 cup mascarpone (you can also use double cream or double cream yoghurt)
  • 1 tsp mixed spice

peeled pairs

Method:

Place all the ingredients for the poached pears, except for the pears, into a medium saucepan and heat.

While the liquid is heating, peel the pears with a knife or vegetable peeler and slice a bit off the bottom so that they can stand upright.

Place the pears on their sides in the liquid and bring to the boil. The liquid should just about cover the pears.

Reduce the heat and allow to simmer gently, partially covered, for 1.5 to 2 hours, until the pears are tender and have absorbed the lovely colour and flavours of the wine and spices. Turn the pears once or twice while cooking to ensure that they colour evenly. You must also keep an eye on them to make sure that the liquid is not reducing too fast and allowing the pears to burn to the bottom of the pot.

Remove the pears from the liquid and allow to cool. Then turn the heat back up, reducing the liquid for 10 more minutes, until thick and syrupy.

Mix the spices with the mascarpone cream.

gluhwein poached pears with spiced mascarpone cream

To serve, drizzle the syrup over the pears and served with the chilled spicy mascarpone.

Happy Feasting!

Gift Idea: Make A Pretty Floral Frame Mirror

Ideas Magazine asked us if we could make something pretty for their Handmade Christmas edition, and so I scoured my Pinterest pages for ideas. I saw this gorgeous little floral frame mirror from Anthropology earlier this year and immediately fell in love with it. When I saw it again in my DIY project ideas folder, I knew it was the ideal project for the magazine! It’s the perfect gift for a special friend or something that you can make to adorn your home this festive season.

Anthropology metal flower mirror

 

How complicated: easy

How long: 5 hours

Make A Gorgeous Floral Frame Mirror

You will need:

  • Round mirror with fixing bracket at the back (we got ours from Mr Price Home)
  • Cardboard circle, about 2cm smaller than the mirror’s edge, and some Prestik
  • 1 roll craft metal
  • Spray adhesive
  • Flowers and leaves template
  • Pen
  • Scissors
  • Spray paint (we used Krylon Color Master in Rose Gold)
  • Embossing tool
  • Wood glue

 

STEP 1:

craft metal and spray adhesive

Create a double layer of craft metal by fixing two layers together with the spray adhesive. Allow to dry.

 

STEP 2:

craft metal and paper flower templates

Roughly cut the flowers and leaves from the template, leaving some space around the shapes. Then trace the shapes onto the craft metal using a pen. Use the same shapes several times – we cut out about 20 flower shapes, seven branches and five leaves.

 

STEP 3:

craft metal and thread cutters

Cut out the traced shapes on the metal sheet using a pair of scissors. Take care not to cut yourself on the sharp edges!

 

STEP 4:

craft metal and mirror spray paint

Fix the cardboard to the centre of the mirror with some Prestik. Then place all the metal shapes and the mirror on a covered surface, and spray with the spray paint. Allow to dry before finishing with a second coat.

 

STEP 5:

craft metal flowers

When the flowers are dry, use the embossing tool to shape the petals gently. Play around with bending the petals up or down to find the flower look you want.

 

STEP 6:

craft metal flowers on mirror

Arrange all the flowers and branches on the mirror. Once you’re happy with the arrangement, fix everything onto the mirror with the wood glue. Allow to dry overnight.

An Alternative Christmas Tree with Recycled Plastic Pom-poms

Coming up with an original and alternative Christmas tree every festive season has become quite challenging! I have done cookies, clay, feathery birds, shells and bows – anything to not have a traditional tree. And it’s not that I don’t like traditional trees – I just prefer to do something different. So after Tenille and I ventured into plastic pom-pom territory earlier this year, we decided to do a pom-pom tree. And since my sister, Baker & Maker Anélle, is crazy about colour (check out her house if you don’t believe me!) she provided the perfect location for the project.

This project ticks all the boxes:

  • it’s fun to make;
  • it’s festive and colourful;
  • it’s super affordable;
  • and it recycles plastic!

It’s a bit time-consuming, but it’s a great project to do with the kids – or friends and sisters as it turns out! And it gets rid of all those plastic bags you end up with because you forget your shoppers in the car. Or is that just me?

How To Make A Plastic Bag Pom-Pom Christmas Tree

You will need:

  • plastic bags or various colours – we used about 60.
  • scissors
  • tea and cake (or wine) – this is not compulsory, but it does help!

STEP 1:

plastic bag cut off handles

Cut the handles off a plastic bag.

 

STEP 2:

cut seam off plastic bag

Cut off the bottom seam.

 

STEP 3:

spread open plastic bag

Spread the bag open.

 

STEP 4:

Fold the bag as shown and cut into strips. Bundle the strips together and then, using one of the cut-off handles, tie the strips together.

 

STEP 5:

christmas pompom tree diy alternative christmas tree ideas

Fluff it out to create a pom-pom.

STEP 6:

pom pom on tree

After you’ve placed lights on the tree, start to add the pom-poms by tying them to the branches of the tree. We tied them in a spiral around the tree, starting at the bottom with three rows of pom-poms. We then gradually thinned it out towards the top until there was a single layer reaching the tree topper.

pom pom tree

 

pom pom tree

pom pom tree

pom pom tree

pom pom tree final touch

To top it off, Tenille made this gorgeous multi-coloured pom-pom. It’s absolutely perfect!

colourful pompom tree topper

pom pom christmas tree

We didn’t get a picture of all three of us together (although we did manage to get the dog in!) – but from all of us here at Homeology, we hope you have a total pom-pom ball in decorating your tree this year!!

Happy Getting in the Festive Spirit!!

 

Quick and Simple Deconstructed Tiramisu

More than once in my life, I have found myself in the situation where it took so long to prepare a special meal for guests that I don’t have enough time left to create a masterpiece for dessert. While this certainly addresses my lack of planning, you sometimes have to cut yourself some slack and take a shortcut. This super quick deconstructed tiramisu presents really well and is light without being too sweet. Play it down to a simple finish after a heavy meal, rather than your shortcomings 😉

deconstructed tiramisu for two

First, a quick note on tiramisu:

I know that any Italian or lover of Italian food will look at this recipe with scepticism. I love (real) tiramisu, in spite of my deep disapproval of biscuits and liquids in close contact with each other for more than a few seconds at a time. But when you break down the flavours, this most delicious of desserts comes down to a few basic ingredients put together with a lot of care and love. This dessert was inspired by those beautiful flavours.

How to Make A Quick And Pretty Deconstructed Tiramisu

You will need (serves 4)

  • 125ml mascarpone
  • 125ml single cream
  • 30ml castor sugar
  • 5ml powdered vanilla pods*
  • 8 ladyfinger biscuits
  • 2 cups of espresso or super strong coffee with sugar to taste
  • 60ml coffee liqueur
  • strawberries and good quality powdered chocolate** to serve

* You can use vanilla essence as well, but I find that powdered pods pack a lot more flavour and I love the speckled look it lends to the cream as well.

** I prefer a bitter cocoa powder that provides a beautiful contrast with all the flavours. If you want it a bit sweeter, however, use hot chocolate powder.

deconstructed tiramisu with ladyfingers and strawberries

Method:

Place the cream, mascarpone, sugar and vanilla pod in a bowl and whisk until soft peaks form.

Equally divide the mixture between four ramekins and place in the fridge until it’s time to serve.

Once your guests are ready for dessert, brew the coffee and pour into four espresso cups. Add the liqueur and sugar to taste. (You can also make this before the meal and place in the fridge to cool.)

tiramisu

Dust the ramekins with powdered chocolate and serve with ladyfingers, strawberries and the espresso.

May you always have enough time to present delectable desserts. And when you don’t may you serve deconstructed tiramisu!

 

 

Tropical Banana Leaf Wrapped Fish

We travelled through South East Asia 10 years ago and did a few cooking classes along the way. We learned to make this banana leaf wrapped fish dish in Vietnam, and it’s one of the things that I remember vividly! The beautiful fresh herby aromas that jump out at you when you open the banana leaf parcel is absolutely mouth-watering! Just thinking about it, makes me hungry 😉

You can make this in the oven, but it also works like magic on the braai.

For 2 portions, you will need:

  • 500g fresh fish (I used hake, but any firm fish will do)
  • handful of cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small chilli (you can of course spice things up more if you like)
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • thumb-size piece of fresh garlic, peeled
  • 1 tbsp grapeseed or coconut oil
  • 1 large banana leaf*
  • wet cotton string
  • chopped spring onion

banana leaf cooked fish platter

* I have a banana tree growing in the corner of my garden. I am amazed that it survived the drought, but it seems to be very happy, albeit fruitless.

Method:

STEP 1:

To prep the banana leaf, cut away the shaft so that you are left only with the soft part of the leaf. You can even use 2 strips placed over each over if your leaf is not big enough. Wipe it down with a clean cloth to remove any dirt.

STEP 2:

Use a food processor to make a marinade with the herbs, chilli, garlic, lime juice and zest, salt and oil. Add coarse sea salt and black pepper to taste.

STEP 3:

Place the fish in the centre of the banana leaf. Then spoon the marinade over the fish. Fold the back and front parts of the banana leaf over the fish, and then the right and left to create a parcel. Tie the leaf in place with a piece of string**.

** If you are braaiing your fish, make sure that the cotton remains wet so that it doesn’t catch fire.

STEP 4:

Place the banana leaf parcel on a baking tray and cook for about 30 minutes.

tropical fish platter

To serve, cut the string and gently open up the banana leaf parcel and sprinkle with chopped spring onion. Serve with lime wedges, coconut rice, and grilled pineapple slices for a truly tropical feast!

Happy Eating!

 

Quick frosted lantern DIY for a super summer party

This post was originally published in November 2016.

The heat has truly arrived and we spend so much more time outside now. Even my office has moved outside – I am sitting on the patio writing this, with a tall glass of ice tea and a very welcome breeze in my hair. Our entertaining has also moved outside, with outdoor lanterns and candles adorning the patio and garden in the evening. It’s just beautiful and really gets you in the mood for a party.

frosted lantern

My sister and her family came to visit on the weekend, and while the kids were in the pool we decided to get creative! She first made these lanterns for her 40th and I thought they were so cute that we just had to try them. It’s really quick to make and you can easily customize them to suit your decor. I think these frosted lanterns are the perfect little mood-creators for a summer party with cake!

Watch the video tutorial here!

You will need:

  • Glass jars (mason jars)
  • Podge medium and paint brushes or sponges
  • Food colouring
  • Salt

Step 1:

Use small amounts of food colouring to colour the podge medium. Liquid or powder colouring work equally well. It’s trial and error – my first coat was too light, so I ended up adding more colouring to get the right intensity.

Step 2:

Wait for the first coat to dry and add subsequent coats, until you are happy with the colour on the glass. You are going to have to salt the jar before the last coat dries, so you’ll have to work quickly!

Step 3:

Either roll the jar in a flat container filled with salt or sprinkle the salt onto the wet podge while turning it. You’ll only use a very small amount of salt and it works really well if you work over a flat foam container to catch the excess.

frosted-lantern-diy-1

Step 4:

Leave it to dry and light up with a tea light! I always use citronella tea lights – they smell great and keep the bugs at bay. Place them on the table or along the garden path and in the garden.

When you’re done with your lanterns, pop the jars in the dishwasher and re-use them for something else!

frosted-lantern-diy-2

Happy decorating!

I’d love to hear what you think of video by the way – I plan to make many more DIY videos in the future!

Makers Making A Difference: Nicky of Love Milo

After spending a morning with the lovely Nicky Ellis at Love Milo‘s studio in Cape Town, I was compelled to get to know her better and share this authentic creative’s beautiful brand. It was a festive event that marked the launch of the brand’s latest range: ceramics, accessories and wallpaper with beautiful magnolias that add vivid pops of colour to their traditional black-and-white palette. With pink drinks, Turkish Delight, and the most amazing macaroons EVER, we were even more smitten with Love Milo. During our chat, Nicky tells me about her passions, inspiration, and love for nature.

Turkish Delight and Flowers

Shop Love Milo homeware, accessories and wallpaper online here!

 

Nicky Ellis of Love Milo

Q: When did you start Love Milo, and why?

Nicky: I studied cinematography and worked as a photographer and a film colourist for about six years. I thought it was going to be a very creative job, but I just ended up making things look how everyone else wanted me to make them look. And often it didn’t look nice to me, but then I’d have to put the work out anyway. That started getting to me! It didn’t feel authentic, and it didn’t feel like the kind of a path I wanted to follow.

Then when I fell pregnant with my first child, Milo, I got this sense that I wanted to make my own things. That motivated me to leave my job to make things I love and then hope for the best! Which of course, thinking back now, is a ridiculous thing to do when you’re pregnant! I’ve always done ceramics, and so I rented a studio, and I started making plates. I used my photographs and turned them into more graphic elements to add to my ceramics. That was seven years ago, and Love Milo grew from there!

 

Q: You’re obviously creative and artistic but what else are you truly passionate about and how does that translate into your work?

Nicky: I’m very passionate about photography. My mom’s also a photographer and an artist, so art and photography are the things I’m most passionate about. That and nature. I spend a lot of time on our farm in Namibia, and that’s actually where the first design, the branch design, came from. We’ve got a big old dead tree outside our house set against this beautiful desert backdrop.

Love Milo Magnolia Cup

Q: You’ve featured a lot of insects in your previous designs. Were those also originally your photographs?

Nicky: Yes, because what makes me really excited is imperfect lines that I find in nature. Lines in wings, in leaves, in branches; there are these beautiful patterns which are not something that you could get on a computer. They’re imperfect, but there’s something so magical about these shapes and lines. I find that whenever I walk outdoors, I look for things that have pretty patterns and shapes. Sometimes even my son will bring me dead things that he thinks should be my next design! The dragonfly design came from one of the insects he brought for me.

 

Q: Do you have a favourite project or a favourite design up to date?

Nicky: I think my first design, the branch, will always be my favourite because it was the birth of the company. It’s like the symbol of where I came from and how it began. Everything else is special and stays special for a while before I move to the next thing, but the branch will always be the anchor of the company. It holds a deeper place in my heart.

The branch is also the one design that no matter how much time goes by, everyone still wants. It’s become quite symbolic of Love Milo.

 

Q: Tell me about your new magnolia range.

Nicky: Our look for Love Milo has always been black and white. I wanted to maintain that look, but I also wanted to start incorporating colour a bit. So, I played around with different flowers. I love flowers, and I’ve been dying to use flowers in my designs. I thought about doing pressed flowers because a lot of my designs come from things that stir up nostalgic memories for me and I used to press flowers as a child. But it still wasn’t quite right. And then I found the magnolia. The branch of the magnolia fits so nicely with the Love Milo graphic branch, and the colour is just so special. It works well because it’s not too different from what we’ve been doing, but it brings in some colour through the blossoms.

Love Milo Magnolia Bag

Q: And challenges with this new range?

Nicky: The challenges mostly were the colour. When red is fired in the kiln, it changes a lot. Getting the ink ratio right took me months! Every time I would fire it, the purple would come out blue, or it would come out grey.

 

Q: Any big plans for your business over the next 12 months?

Nicky: We are busy moving more into the online space, and so we’re launching our new website towards the end of the year. Our main focus for the moment is just developing our online store.

 

Q: Are you also working on a new range already or you’re taking a break from that for a while to see how this one goes?

Nicky: I’ll probably start working on a new range in about a month. Once the new online side of things is stable, I’ll work on the next thing. Because I play so many roles in the company, I don’t have the luxury of doing just design. I have more time now to do design because I’ve got people doing some of the other things, but I still do 4 or 5 people’s jobs! I photograph the products, I run the website, upload all the products, and do the marketing. So, in between, I have to find time to be creative as well. I have to structure it in a way where I can fit everything in without one aspect of the business losing momentum.

When I started, I was doing everything. I was invoicing on Photoshop because that’s how much I knew about accounting! Luckily, I don’t do that anymore. But like any business owner, I’m still picking up lots of other jobs in between.

 

Q: What advice do you have for people also wanting to start their own small online business or design business?

Nicky: I would say be prepared not to make money for a while. Have a salary set aside for yourself because it takes a while to start turning a profit. And then, as your business grows, you have to put more cash in, so it takes a while.

The other thing I would say is don’t go too big too soon. Grow it organically, starting with just a few products. See what works, and then you grow from there. Don’t buy loads of equipment; get the bare minimum, and when that has paid for itself, you invest in the next thing. We tend to think we need a lot more than we actually do. Keep your costs to the bare minimum in the beginning. Take your own photographs, do your own website, try and take on as much as you can until you’re in a place where you can spend more. Otherwise, you shoot yourself in the foot.

Love Milo Floral Display

Q: Your husband is also in the business with you, how do you manage that work-life relationship?

Nicky: I’m very lucky that Matt is the opposite of me. He’s more left-brain thinking and systematic than me. So, the side of the business which I’m terrible at like the accounts, the managing of stock and the crossing of the “t’s”, he’s taken over. That’s a huge burden off my shoulders because it’s something I don’t like doing. So, it’s a nice symbiotic relationship because he enjoys that aspect and I enjoy mine, and we don’t step on each other’s toes.

Also working together in the company means that we’re both sharing the profit and we’re building something together, which is very nice.

 

Q: You have two other kids as well?

Nicky: Yeah, I’ve got three children. Milo is the eldest, Phoenix is my daughter, and then Mason is my baby.

Milo loves the brand, and he loves reminding everyone that he has a company named after himself. Phoenix often asks why she doesn’t have one, so I’ll have to do a range for her at some point, and I’ll have to call it Love Phoenix or something! And Mason is still too young, but I am sure he will catch on at some point as well.

 

Q: And then lastly, anything that you’re proud of in your business?

Nicky: We have been asked to exhibit at New York Now for the third time, and we’ve also exhibited in Paris three times. And we are stocked in some really nice shops worldwide. I think it’s quite an achievement that shops love our products and that people from around the world have our cups in their homes. I am very proud of that.

 

 

DIY Baby Play Gym That Grows with Your Child

When Ideas Magazine asked me if I could make a baby gym that could grow into something else, this clever little frame was born. It will grow with your little ones and entertain them for years to come: from a cute baby gym to a dreamy dress-up closet and colourful play tent.

Remember to get your copy of Ideas Jr filled ideas on decorating your little one’s room with style. It even has creative pages to frame!

ideas jr 2018 magazine cover

Available now!

 

How complicated: easy

How Long: 2 hours (excluding drying time)

 

You will need:

For the frame

  • 2x 22mmx44mmx2.4m pine PAR
  • 1x 16mmx1m pine dowel
  • 16mm spade bit
  • Paint in the colour of your choice (we used Harlequin’s Furniture Chalk Paint in Isle of Wight)
  • 2m cotton sash cord
  • 8mm wood drill bit

 

For the mobile

  • Various extra-large wooden beads
  • Wooden curtain rings
  • Cotton twine

 

For the shelf

  • 200mmx300mmx16mm laminated pine shelving or plywood
  • 2m cotton sash cord
  • Paint in the colour of your choice (we used Harlequin’s Furniture Chalk Paint in Isle of Wight)

 

For the cloud mat

  • A piece of 1mx1m solid fabric (we used Home Fabrics Fibreguard Peak in Malachite)
  • Another piece of 1mx1m fabric (the same as the first, or mix things up! For the reverse, we used Home Fabrics Bambino Buddy in Sky)
  • 1mx1m batting

 

For the tent

  • 74m fabric (includes 20mm seam allowance on all sides – we used Home Fabrics Bambino Buddy in Sky)
  • 7m matching fringing
  • 5m matching cord to tie the edges

 

TO MAKE THE MULTIPURPOSE FRAME

Cut the pine battens according to the diagram to form the legs of the frame. Then drill the holes as shown: use the spade bit for the larger holes and the smaller wooden bit for the hole near the bottom. Paint the legs and allow to dry. Then add the dowel and sash cord to create the frame.

 

A PLAY GYM FOR BABY

baby-gym-play-mat-green-and-pink-bunny1

Put the dowel in the lower holes of the frame and adjust the sash cord so that the dowel is roughly 80cm from the floor.

To make the cloud mat, lay down the batting and then add the two pieces of fabric on top, with right sides together. Then draw a cloud-shape onto the top fabric using chalk. Pin together all the layers and carefully cut out the shape. Then sew together, leaving around 20cm open to turn the cloud right side out. Close the opening and add top-stitching.

Use the twine and string up some beads and curtain rings. You want to create varying lengths to keep baby engaged! Make sure that you secure the beads very carefully so that they can’t pose a choking hazard. Then tie each string of beads to the dowel.

 

FOR THE DRESS-UP CLOSET

toddler-wardrobe-play-closet-baby's-clothes1

Adjust the frame by moving the dowel up to the top holes. Shorten the sash cord to accommodate the height of your child.

To make the little shelf, drill holes using the 8mm wooden bit as shown on the diagram. Then paint the edges of the wood and add a fun pattern to the top. We used the end of a small sponge roller to get the polka-dot effect! Once it’s dry, add the sash cord and suspend it from the dowel.

 

FOR THE PLAY TENT

toddler-play-tent-tepee-tent-kids

Keep the dowel in the top position, and remove one of the sash cords to create an opening.

Add a roll seam to the four sides of the tent fabric and add the fringing and cord. Put the fabric over the dowel and secure on the ends, threading the cord through the holes at the bottom.

Happy Making!