Life Making

Creating A Functional Entrance Hall…

March 16, 2020

Each year I participate in Apartment Therapy’s January Cure.  It is a great way to reset your home, identify tasks that need doing and clear out the years clutter.  Each day you are given a goal from clearing a drawer to donating items to charity.  The big task is to put together your yearly home project.  Identifying something that you want to do, putting together a list of what that entails and planning it out.  You aren’t expected to complete this task in January and it can take as long as you need.  This year my yearly home project is to create a functional entrance hall.

How The Entrance Hall Functions Now.

Spoiler – it doesn’t!  I moved into my new build flat and I wasn’t allowed to repaint or decorate.  The plaster requires up to eighteen months to air and dry out limiting any decorating.  When I come into my flat there is a small entrance hall which every other room feeds off.  To the right, tucked behind a boxed in pillar, is a small space where I keep my shoes and coats. 

I currently have a very traditional, English coat rack in the space and that is it.  Storage wise it is a space that could be doing so much more and really could look better.  In this space is also a double powerpoint that I use for my hairdryer and fairy lights.  UK standards are limiting when it comes to power in bathrooms and we aren’t trusted to be able to plug in appliances in wet spaces!  As a result, all my other hair gadgets are piled in this space as well.  Safe to say I am not looking after these gadgets, and I have to tidy this space at least once a week.  It does not function well.

Planning and Budgeting The Entrance Hall Makeover.

Over the past four years I have researched many ideas on how to make this space function better.  The ceiling height means I can lift my coats with a hanging system.  It makes sense to have some sort of storage that stacks the shoes.  I’ve love to not see them poking out from their space! 

One of the biggest sticking points were my hair gadgets and how to store them.  Researching online I found several systems designed specifically for Dyson hairdryers.  Some even use magnets to display the attachments.  Finally, I would like to have a second double power point so that I can get rid of the power board.

Knowing the cost of this project would determine if I could go ahead.  I spent a few hours researching, over a couple of days, and came up with the below design.  It is a total spend of £290, excluding paint.  I am still unsure how, and if, I will paint the wall, total area, ceiling or nothing.  Paint isn’t cheap!  The most expansive item is the Kroft hanger which I might try and DIY later this year.

Getting Started On The Entrance Hall.

Excitedly I have decided to move ahead with the project knowing I have a year to slowly purchase and put everything in place.  I have borrowed a stud finder from a friend and organised another’s electrician husband to come and put in the powerpoint.  I’ve purchased the Dyson hair dryer holder and marked the ceiling where the hanger can go.  A few months of saving and I’m looking forward to making over this space.

Mood board picture of all the elements I am hoping to add to my entrance hall. 
 They correspond with the list of seven items nest.  Creating A Functional Entrance Hall.
  1. Kroft Hanger £98
  2. Silver Double Point Power Point £24 plus £50 install
  3. Dyson Hair Dryer Wall Mounted Display £21
  4. Black Metal Shelf Ebay £15
  5. Wall Hooks £19
  6. Yamazaki Shoe Rack £52
  7. Earthborn Clay Paint £20+

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Books To Read In Spring…

March 9, 2020
Books to read in spring.

I’ve been carving out my life recently and it has allowed me to get back to reading books.  I’m trying to read before I go to bed as it does make me sleep better.  Often on weekends I can be found curled up on the couch reading a book.  I’ve started swapping books with friends widening my reading circle.  This is good as I always want to explore new stories and I know at least one of these books I would not have picked up myself.  Reading also has a knock on effect to my writing and words seem to come onto a page easier.  Here are some books I have read recently that you can read in spring.

An American Marriage – Tayari Jones

Celestial and Roy are from different backgrounds, but their love for each other brings them together in marriage.  A year on a crime is committed, and Roy is found guilty.  Celestial and the reader know he is innocent.  We are then shown the next 10 years through letters and various first-person accounts.  Their marriage is challenged as Celestial’s art becomes popular whilst Roy sits in prison serving his sentence seemingly paused in life.  When he is released can they resume their marriage as if nothing has happened?  This is what Roy wants…

Grown Ups By Marian Keyes

One of my favourite authors, I recently went to a live session with her being asked about her work and she is fabulous.  One of my favourites to follow on twitter and Instagram.  Keyes is delivering books every 18-24 months, so I really tried to read Grown Ups slowly.  It was a fool’s errand!  The story is so enticing.  About one Irish family whose secrets all come out when one gets a bump to the head and tells the truth.  Keyes has created some great characters who have depth and flaws including the men.  I did find some of the men trash and their behaviour awful.  That is the great power of her books!

Save The Cat! Writes A Novel

I’m trying to write my own novel because we all have one in us!  The first 10,000 words were easy but now I am at a sticking point as to what is next.  This book gives guidance on how to work through plot and characters and is incredibly helpful.  Here’s hoping I can get another 70,000 words down.  I am encouraged by my sister who messaged me after reading the bits I have and said she wants to read more.  No pressure!

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Guide To Spending A Day In Bangalow…

March 2, 2020

Guide to Bangalow.  Close to Byron Bay in the norther rivers are of Australia, Bangalow is a beautiful country town, with lots of independent stores and delicious places to eat.  They have monthly markets that are very busy and recommended you arrive early.  Do consider heading there during the week as well and having some of the best donuts of your life!

Picture of interior of a store. Guide To Spending A Day In Bangalow.
A picture of the corner store outside.  Guide To Spending A Day In Bangalow.
A picture of inside the corner store.  Guide To Spending A Day In Bangalow.

Shopping In Bangalow.

There is such a mix of shops here.  Island luxe is very lux and to be honest not my sort of price point, candles are $150.  But I could appreciate the styling and the vast lounges for husbands to sit at whilst their other halves decide which dress to purchase!  Our Corner Store, a modern take on old school general stores, has stylish timber brushes and aluminium containers.  The Flower Bar is housed in the most beautiful old brick building and has a range of dried and fresh flowers.  Pop in to just stare as I did or treat your self to a beautiful bouquet. Head up station street, towards the local hall, to discover small local designers in wooden huts. Pop into the Bangalow Pharmacy for a international range of skincare and perfumes often seen only in Sephora!

A picture of burgers, fries and salad from butcher, baker, bangalow. Guide To Spending A Day In Bangalow.

Eating Bangalow.

If you loved the look of our food from Folk head to their sister in Bangalow, Wood.  Lots of plant-based food that is sooo delicious.  Wanting something simple?  Have bakery takeaway from Butcher, Baker, Bangalow.  Or sit inside for something a bit fancier.  I had their burger with a side of fries, and my sister had their chicken salad.  Both were yummy and we both enjoyed jam donuts takeaway for pudding.  They are some of the best donuts I’ve eaten!  If you are celebrating or just want to get quite fancy, try The Italian Diner which made me feel like I was back in Italy.

Bangalow Markets.

Bangalow is famed for its monthly Sunday markets where locals sell their products from food to candles to pottery.  Often extremely busy, support the local school by paying for parking in their grounds.  No dogs because of the crowds.  There is plenty of shade and you can easily spend the day there!

Getting To Bangalow.

Car is the best way and then you can stop off at the local vantage points and take in the countryside view and seascape.  There are plenty of buses that leave from Byron and Ballina as well.

Interested in things to do in Byron Bay?  Check out my guide here including the best spot to stay in.  PF xo

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The Flower Bar.  Guide To Spending A Day In Bangalow.
The Flower Bar.  Guide To Spending A Day In Bangalow.


The Norfolk Bayshore Drive Byron Bay Review…

February 24, 2020
A picture of the trendy bikes and entrance to the Norfolk. The Norfolk Bayshore Drive Byron Bay Review.

Wanting to spend some quality time with my sister I decided to book some nights at The Norfolk Bayshore Drive, Byron Bay.  I had seen these new homes on fellow creatives instagrams and loved the idea of staying in the arts area of Byron Bay.  Byron is not cheap. It is the only market in Australia that has seen double digit growth for the past decade, and the subsequent short rental market is priced high.  Staying within the arts area was a fantastic choice, very peaceful and we could easily venture into Byron on the solar train.

More Than One House.

The Norfolk Bayshore Drive, Byron Bay, is a set of 7 houses built to expand and contract with your needs.  The main house has two bedrooms and multiple bathrooms, access to the pool, lawn and main living spaces.  From here you can add Room 3.  This room has a mini bar and kettle, similar to a hotel room, and can be accessed via the main house or through a separate entrance.  Room 3 can also be booked on its own.  I choose to book the Studio as it has a lounge and kitchen area.  The studios are situated above the garage, at the back of the house, but you never hear the car underneath coming and going.  I spoke with Alex and there is a lot of insulation in this build so you don’t hear your fellow guests!

Keeping in mind that this is a strip of seven houses, make sure when you park in the lane behind you choose the right house.  We automatically parked in the first studio parking we saw and spent an embarrassingly too long time trying to use the lock box, before realising we were meant to be further down the street!

A picture of the bed and couch set up at the norfolk.  The Norfolk Bayshore Drive Byron Bay Review.
A picture of the kitchen at the Norfolk studio apartment.  The Norfolk Bayshore Drive Byron Bay Review.

Featuring Items From Byron Bay.

Owner Alex has taken inspiration from the surrounding local stores and furnished the apartments with Australian goods.  We had couches from Hope & May, rugs from Pampa, linen from Cultiver and beautiful wash products from Salus (BYO moisturiser and sunscreens).  I love when you can take inspiration from your Airbnb and easily replicate it at home!

Easy Access To The Beach and Town.

Bayshore Drive is easily found within the arts area and close to a local supermarket, pharmacy and local designer stores.  You could easily visit the farmers markets on Thursday to stock up your pantry.  The beach is a short walk or bike ride further down Bayshore drive, and the solar train, my favourite part of Byron, is only a two minute walk.

Perfectly Positioned in the Arts and Industrial Area.

If you have only ever stayed in town at Byron or never gone to the arts and industrial area you are missing out.  Check my guide here for all the fabulous stores you can go to, a great place for facials and where you should have your breakfast or lunch.

A picture of the beautiful plant at  The Norfolk Bayshore Drive Byron Bay Review.


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What To Do A Weekend In Byron Bay, Australia…

February 10, 2020
What To Do A Weekend In Byron Bay, Australia

This trip to Australia I decided I wanted to spend a couple of days with my sister in a beach town.  Typically for day trips we head north to the Sunshine Coast as it is a bit quicker.  The Byron area is familiar to us as the home of our grandparents, and we have been there nearly every summer of our lives.  We haven’t spent a weekend in Byron Bay for a while and I was keen to see how this beach town had evolved since I was last there nine years ago.  I couldn’t find any comprehensive what to do in Byron Bay guide so here is mine!

Stay In The Arts and Industrial Area.

Byron Bay itself is expensive and you are competing with well off families jetting in from Sydney and Internationally.  I found plenty of beautiful accommodation in the Arts and Industrial Area just a short drive or solar train ride from central Byron.  This area has newer homes with studio apartments above the garage spaces.  Families use them for when grandparents visit and then rent them out on Airbnb to make some extra cash.  We stayed at The Norfolk which is a group of houses specifically built like this.  You can hire the main house with two rooms, add a third and the studio too.  Or like us just hire the studio room where you have everything you need.  If you are keen, ask for the bikes so that you can ride to the beach and into Byron.

What To Do A Weekend In Byron Bay, Australia
What To Do A Weekend In Byron Bay, Australia
What To Do A Weekend In Byron Bay, Australia
What To Do A Weekend In Byron Bay, Australia

Spilt Your Weekend By Area.

There are two distinct areas of Byron.  The CBD or main town where most of the action happens but is a pain to drive into.  And The Arts and Industrial Area which has transformed in the past few years to house lots of the independent designers studios and shop fronts. It is easier to keep to one area per day as there is plenty to do in both including lunch locations.  Start in the Arts area on your first day and check into your accommodation.  Head into Byron on the second day by taking the Solar Train or your bicycles.

Take The Byron Solar Train.

Support this local initiative and take a journey on this restored vintage train run by solar power.  The entire experience is delightful. A conductor sells you tickets on the platform and later clips your ticket for prosperity.  Sitting in vintage seats, the eight minute ride takes you along the coast where you can spot local wildlife and have a nosy into locals homes!

What To Do A Weekend In Byron Bay, Australia
What To Do A Weekend In Byron Bay, Australia
What To Do A Weekend In Byron Bay, Australia

Places to Explore – Art and Industrial Area

Do you like your Peanut Butter with salt or without? Byron Bay Peanut Butter Company, the best I have eaten! Take your bike to The Farm and see the variety of animals and then have some food at the Three Blue Ducks. New kids on the block Habitat are a mix of residential and shops and makers creative studios. Have a coffee or lunch, take a Pilates class and buy your loves ones a gift. Explore Pampa for hand woven rugs, beautiful photography and leather swings! Stock up on your cleaning supplies from The Byron Bay Cleaning Company. Just as good as bleach but all natural. Schedule a laser facial at The Little Company. Sit outside and have a plant based lunch at Folk. Try new cookie flavours and stock up on seconds at The Byron Bay Cookie Company. Try on vintage clothes at Mr Vintage and add to your vintage furniture collection from Fossil Vintage. Both conveniently next door to each other! Update your beach umbrellas from Sunday Supply Co and add to your wardrobe next door at Yoli & Otis.

What To Do A Weekend In Byron Bay, Australia
What To Do A Weekend In Byron Bay, Australia
What To Do A Weekend In Byron Bay, Australia
What To Do A Weekend In Byron Bay, Australia
What To Do A Weekend In Byron Bay, Australia
What To Do A Weekend In Byron Bay, Australia
What To Do A Weekend In Byron Bay, Australia

Places to Explore – Byron Bay

Essentially I would encourage you to walk along Jonson Street taking the side streets as you go. There are lots of little shops full of summer dresses, gift ware and items for your home. Add a neutral dress to your collection from Hope & May or the store with a cult following, Spell & The Gypsy. Want more colour? Have a look at Mister Zimi. I fell in love with the ceremics and rugs at Marr-Kett. Delicious Mexican at Taqueria Chihuahua. The best vegan donuts at The Golden Doughnut. Book a surfing lesson on the main beach with Let’s Go Surfing!

What To Do A Weekend In Byron Bay, Australia
What To Do A Weekend In Byron Bay, Australia
What To Do A Weekend In Byron Bay, Australia
What To Do A Weekend In Byron Bay, Australia

Venture Outside of Byron Bay.

Surrounding Byron is the beautiful hinterland and local villages.  You will need a car to access these areas with plenty of lookouts with spectacular views on the way.  Keep an eye out for small wooden huts at farm gates where excess produce is sold through an honestly box system.  I’ve had the best fresh honey from insisting my dad pull over! 

If you are unsure of where to go I’d recommend Bangalow, with a mix of stores and lunch spots including Butcher Baker Bangalow (great donuts!).  Time your visit here for the 4th Sunday of the month and head to the markets early.  It gets very busy!  One of my favourite food spots Harvest is in Newrybar, a one street town with a handful of businesses.  Harvest had a makeover since I last visited and their new deck area lighting is stunning.  Afterwards explore the gardens, say hi to the chickens and purchase some take home snacks from the deli. You have to book in advance as they are very popular!

What To Do A Weekend In Byron Bay, Australia
What To Do A Weekend In Byron Bay, Australia

Need more ideas? Pick up these village guides or download yours online here. Read more of my travels here.

What To Do A Weekend In Byron Bay, Australia

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Tackling The Hoarder Room And Your Monica Cupboard…

February 8, 2020
A picture of my donation pile.  Extra clothes, a toothbrush charger and lots of spare frames.  A hose! and some books.  Tackling The Hoarder Room And Your Monica Cupboard.

In March I will have lived in my flat for four years.  What?! Time has flown and I honestly can’t believe it.  I moved into this one bed having lived in a three bed flatshare, with separate living and kitchen areas.  I ran that flatshare so most of the belongings, including some furniture, came with me.  My new flat has a cupboard in the bedroom that I use for storage.  A luxury in London, but also a space that is really like Monica’s hoarder cupboard from Friends.  Over the past few years I barely went in there.  Occasionally pulling out my suitcase or Christmas decorations, always adding random bits I wasn’t interested in dealing with!  I made an agreement with myself to use the random days between Christmas and the New Year to tackle the hoarder room and Monica cupboard.

Sorting out my closet got me all revved up for more spring cleaning.  My sister had been attempting to sort out her flat for a month or so before I arrived in January.  Her and her husband have a two bed flat and use the second room for his study and her sewing.  However, this past year with the wedding taking up most of the headspace, the second room also became known as the hoarder room.  Piles of stuff was creating a headache for my sister and I volunteered to spend a day with her tackling and sorting.  In the end it took us two days and she was so over the moon with the results.

Have Someone Help You.

You will need a cheerleader, a friend who can keep you motivated as it gets worse before it gets better.  They need to be in charge of the playlist, keep it upbeat and know when to put on some jazz.  All physical lifting should be done by this person.  You will be overloaded with emotions and having them lift the physical weight is incredibly helpful.  Snacks and drinks are their domain as well.  Make sure they know they are in charge of refilling the water glasses and calling the lunch break.

Start With The Visual Clutter.

My sister had her hoarder room and the wardrobe marked as the areas to tackle.  I made her focus on the visual clutter in the room first.  This was what was agitating her the most and could be seen from the front door.  Despite my reasoning we did have a few minutes of conversation as my sister wanted to start with the cupboard.  I understood.  Clearing out the cupboard potentially gave the items in the room somewhere to go.  I argued we didn’t know how much of the room stuff we were keeping.  Why make room in the cupboard just to move the room items and not really deal with them?

Pull Everything Out, Create Your Piles And Act On Them.

Together we pulled everything out of the room allocating it to a space in the lounge room.  Each space was given a final destination. Ebay/gumtree.  Sewing/repairs. Donations.  Trash.  I went for the larger, heavier items, asking where they belonged as we went.  For pieces my sister was unsure of we placed on the dining table for sorting later.  This resulted quickly in approx. 70% of the items allocated and dealt with.  I then sat my sister at the table to start on the rest.  Whilst she was doing this I vacuumed and dusted the hoarder room ready for the return of any items.

Make Time To Finish The Job.

Finishing the job is often the last task that makes this job lag.  We all have had bags of donations sitting by the door or in the car boot for months!  After sorting out my cupboard I realised that none of the charity shops near me were open until the New Year.  So, I too had a pile of items behind my couch that didn’t get moved until late January!

Throughout the first day with my sister I regularly took bags of rubbish down to the bin.  Five in total.  I know some people wait until the end of the day to do this.  For me having these moments to change the pace and see progress helps keep the energy up.  It is quite satisfactory throwing things into the bin and helpful to get outside for some fresh air!

Ensure that your process includes these final steps of getting rid of the items.  Be realistic.  It doesn’t have to be on the day but when would you really have time next?  Spending a few minutes now driving to charity can be really helpful.  My sister was driving me home, so we made the effort to do two trips to load up the car and got rid of all the charity items that night.

If The Job Is Big Be Flexible With Your Time.

When I cleaned out my Monica cupboard I split the time over a couple of days.  This allowed me to stay motivated and ensure I got the job done.  For my sisters flat, we decided to continue the next day instead of going to the beach.  We were honest with ourselves that the likelihood of my sister tackling her sewing pile and getting all the items on ebay anytime soon were slim.  Day two saw us sleep in, put on some music and whilst she repaired and sewed, I listed items on ebay as if my life depended on it!  By mid afternoon we were mostly done and rewarded ourselves with a dip in my parents pool and cuddles with their dog Lizzy.

Say No To Family Donations.

The majority of items we threw away and donated to charity from my sisters’ home were items that had been donated to them from family.  Moving in together and starting their teaching careers resulted in well-meaning relatives gifting lots!  The reality was though that most of these items were not needed, a version was already owned or was obviously a relative trying to feel less guilty of getting rid of some family heirloom that was really junk.  Upon reflection my sister and I were quite frustrated that we spend two days of our lives essentially taking items to charity that others couldn’t emotionally do.  My sister now has a stronger sense to say no to these items or drop them straight to the local charity store on her way home.

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