Marks & Spencers Sleep Retreat @ The Artists Residence

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I'd like to consider myself Quite A Busy Person but I am also a big fan of my bed. I love an early night, I love sleeping and I love lying in. It takes two cups of tea before I can get going in the morning and it's not unusual for my husband to make the bed in the morning before he goes to work with me still in it! One of my other 'quirks' is that I can't stand staying anywhere ugly. I know this is not exactly a third world problem, but staying in a run down hotel or a holiday cottage that was last decorated in the 1990's actually makes me feel ill! I know, I know - I need to get over myself! To compensate for this ridiculous phobia I take my own cushions, rugs, bedding and lights on holiday with me. And it's probably the reason I like glamping so much - you can design and create your own space! So when Marks and Spencers invited me for a Sleep Retreat at The Artists Residence, London, I couldn't actually believe my luck! Two of my 'things'  - sleep and beautiful interiors all rolled together into one delicious package.

I arrived at The Artists Residence unfashionably early (because I'm such a keeno) and got checked into my room - No 4 The Club Suite. 

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As someone who's hotel experience is largely made up of Premier Inns and also as someone who is also more affiliated with a greasy camping stove than a hotel mini bar, you can see how much of a dream wrapped in a wish this room was for me!

Marks and Spencers had also very kindly left a treat box of sleep related goodies - beautiful pyjamas, a silk sleep mask, This Works Deep Sleep Bath Soak and Deep Sleep Shower Gel and Formula Absolute Ultimate Sleep Cream which promises 'skin that looks like you've had eight hours sleep even when you haven't'. Needless to say, I've been slapping that bad boy onto my face good and thick ever since! 

The sleep theme continued downstairs at supper at The Artists Residence. We were all seated at a beautifully decorated table and invited to help ourselves from sharing platters. 

Dining room goals at The Artists Residence, London.

Dining room goals at The Artists Residence, London.

The menu for the evening was especially designed by nutritionist Amelia Freer using foods that naturally help to promote sleep. It was all about healthy fats from olive oil, nuts and seeds, along with plenty of protein in the form of fish and vegetables and minimal refined sugar to avoid overnight blood sugar fluctuations. The menu also provided magnesium; an essential mineral to help calm the mind and promote sleep. Even the sour cherries in the dessert were carefully selected to help sleep as they contain melatonin, a key component in sending signals to the brain telling it to go to sleep. The meal was rounded off with a glass of truly delicious warm spiced cashew nut milk.

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While we ate, Certified Sleep Coach Max Kirsten talked us through lots of tips on how to get a better nights sleep and how he feels that we are all, these days, affected by sensory overload - something that I can strongly relate to.

Fascinated!

Fascinated!

The worst culprit for sensory overload is, as I've long suspected, our mobile phones. Mobile phones are the biggest killer of sleep not only because of the light they emit - the short wavelength of the blue light emitted by mobile phone screens encourages our brains to be alert. Activating the ‘night mode’ function goes some way to reducing this but we heard from Max that it's far more effective to limit phone usage in the evening. More alarming than the light though, Max also reported that new research shows that our brains have now started firing up just at the sight of a mobile phone - the mere shape of it is enough to excite our brains at the possibilities it can provide and prevent sleep. 

Bright overhead lights also encourage our brains to stay alert, we learned, so it's best turn off the overhead lights and have ambient light such as candles or table lamps on instead, to allow the circadian rhythms of our bodies to wind down naturally in lower-level light conditions.

The final sleep fact that I took away was that our bodies tempertures dip naturally in the evening, signalling to our brains that it's time for sleep. We can help this process with a warm bath or shower; the cooling process afterwards will help lull us to sleep. It's also important to find bedding that suits as being too hot or too cold at night will greatly disturb sleep.

With these soothing facts in mind, and after a lovely evening of delicious, sleep inducing food and drink, we retired to our rooms. I popped on my new pyjamas, oohed and aahed over my room a little more and then and then jumped into my sumptuous bed which was made up with a Marks and Spencers Hungarian Goose Down duvet with Marks and Spencers Pure Linen Bedding Set

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I had a super comfortable night and awoke the next morning refreshed and with only a slight headache from all the wine at supper which I'm sure helped with the sleep too!

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I then took the absolute liberty of having breakfast in bed followed by a long soak in the free standing clawfoot bath. Something I havent done since before I had children fifteen years ago! 

So, thank you so much The Artists Residence and Marks and Spencers for having me at your Sleep Retreat. It really was a dream, wrapped in a wish, and I'm very grateful for the experience.

This blog post is in collaboration with Marks and Spencers but all views are my own, as always.

Photo Credit: Sam Mellish.

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Woolroom

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of my bed. There's nothing I like more than an early night with a cup of tea and a good book. I'd like to say that this habit has crept up on me as I've got older but the truth is I've always been like this and have always much preferred snuggling at home than going out. Woolroom certainly picked the right person when they asked me to choose some items from their 100% wool bedding to range review! I chose pillows, a mattress protector and a duvet and got to work with lots of lovely early nights! I like to take my work seriously!

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The Mattress Protector.

We chose a mattress protector rather than a topper as we already have a built in memory foam topper on our mattress, The protector is lovely and padded and immediately added a layer of comfort that I didn't realise I needed and wasn't really expecting. It makes the bed feel a lot more luxurious and expensive, like a bed in a high end hotel.

The Duvet

We chose a Classic Wool Duvet - Light, as neither of us likes to be hot at night. The duvet feels lovely - thick and luxurious but is not heavy on your body. The 100% natural sheeps wool regulates your temperature so that you feel cool when it's hot and warm when it's cold. I'd say that we definitely experienced this benefit. I haven't woken up feeling too hot or too cold once since using this duvet (but I have been woken up due to sleepwalking kids and wriggly dogs, as usual!)

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The Pillows.

We received two pillows from Woolroom. My husband is super happy to have both of them as he loves to sleep on several pillows at a time. He loves the density of the pillows and the way they stay at a constant temperature.

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So, after seven nights of sleep in with my The Wool Room bedding I am very happy to report that we have defintely slept well! We don't don't feel too hot or too cold - we feel just right. Is this the Goldilocks effect? The bedding feels sumptuous and luxurious and the mattress protector makes us feel like we're sleeping on a cloud. I even managed an unplanned sleep in on Sunday morning which is rare for me. There is one negative of owning Woolroom bedding though and that is that it spoils you! I had to spend one night away in a less than salubrious hotel bed this week and I felt every single lump and bump in that bed - I'm sure I wouldn't have been such a 'Princess and the Pea' before my Woolroom bedding came along! 

This is a sponsored post for Woolroom.

Revamp Restyle Reveal

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Thanks Meera (Arty Home) for sending everyone over to read my Revamp Restyle Reveal blog post next!

It's no secret that I love Instagram and the boundless opportunities that come from it if you're willing to grab them. So when I was offered one of the ten blogger spots on Revamp Restyle Reveal I said YES PLEASE! I decided to revamp my ten year old son Theo's room as it hadn't been touched since he was a baby and still had a Cath Kidston 'Cowboy' theme going on (which I still love, by the way!). The Revamp Reveal Restyle sponsors all very kindly allowed us to select products from their websites to an agreed budget. This was great as we were then able to work with products we genuinely loved. So after a summer spent poring over their websites, we made our choices and got started at the beginning of September.

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Theo's wish list - grey, a bigger bed with built in lighting, a desk, some vinyls on the wall.

My wish list - something neutral but fun, that could be updated easily as he gets older without redecorating. As always, I wanted it to be a bit different to any other boys room I'd seen already, with a bit of a seventies, retro feel to it.

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We chose Earthborn Paints 'Cats Cradle' as the main colour -  a perfect mid grey. The room is small so I wanted to employ a few tricks to make the room seem larger and painting a line along the wall creates an illusion of space. We chose white for the top half of the wall as it's an obvious space creating colour. 

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We painted all the walls Earthborn Paint - White at first and then drew a line along the wall with a spirit level and a pencil. We had to be careful with the line as the house is 120 years old and consequently there's not a single reliable striaght edge!

The paint went on like a dream- the white is a lovely, warm off white and the grey only took ONE coat to cover the walls. Thanks Earthborn for giving me the chance to try out your paint - I absolutely loved the shades and the quality of the paint.

We loved the line effect and it immediately made the room feel larger and airier. It also gave us the solution we needed for a bookcase for Theo. We had an old one knocking about that was destined for firewood. Rob had the genius idea of painting the bookcase in exactly the same way as the wall and of course it worked a treat. I'm just mad jealous that it wasn't my idea!

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We chose the Arvid Metal and Wood Pendant Lamp from Maison Du Monde as the main light for the bedroom. I like these sort of pendant lamps as they cross over a number of genres - they work well in an industrial scheme for instance but also look great in a mid century room or a Scandi inspired room. I love these sort of multi-role accessories. The pendant is quite large for the room but I think that's fine - I also think that playing with scale helps to make a room look larger. Again, I'd never tried Maison Du Monde products before but I was really impressed by their wide product range, prices and customer service.

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Next up we assembled the solid oak Ghost desk that we'd chosen from Maison Du Monde. Rob is an engineer so is very precise about following instructions and he was very impressed with the assembly instructions for the desk and the letter coded kit bags!

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Once assembled, it fitted right in and immediately added a classy, grown up vibe to the room.

Theo starts senior school next year so it was really important for him to have a special work space. AO came up trumps brilliantly with a Hewlett Packard laptop for his school work and he's totally over the moon with it. In fact, all the kids are fighting over it!

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We ditched the old Ikea wardrobe in favour of the Winston Metal Clothes Rack from Maison Du Monde. I love the idea of having clothes on display (I think I must have been a visual merchandiser in a former life) instead of hidden in wardrobes. However, it took up too much room and with hindsight, hanging clothes for boys is a waste of time as they always immediately trash them anyway. He has clothes storage in his chest of drawers and now in vintage trunks under his bed too. The clothes rack will be absolutely perfect in my thirteen year old daughter's room, which I'm doing next.

Talking of storage - as the bookshelf had been, in my opinion, such a roaring success we decided to revamp an old chest of drawers in the same way. It was already black so we just painted the carcass in 'Cats Cradle' and left the drawer fronts black, like the blackboard.

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This chest of drawers was tip-bound from a house clearance years ago, so I rescued it for my first house and painted it peach! Don't judge me! Since then it's been lilac, white, orange, black and now grey! It's a good, solid piece of post war furniture so why chuck it away when you can make it fit in with any new scheme with a lick of paint?

At this point it was obvious that the orange pine bed stood out like a sore thumb next to our glorious grey and the sophisticated oak of the desk. So, at the last minute, and with only two days of the project to go, I decided to paint the bed!

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At the same time, Cheltenham friend Catherine Colebrook sent me a picture of her son's door which she'd previously painted two tone like our bookshelf. One look and I KNEW I had to do the same on Theo's door- and of course, why not the window too for continuity? Rob was incredulous and issued me with dire warnings about absolutely not painting the door with the line thing because the floor drops there (remember - no straight lines in this house) and ends of the line won't meet when joined up. Then he went away on a course with work. So I did it anyway! 

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So Monday and Tuesday was spent frantically painting the bed, the skirting boards and the door in Cat's Cradle. Rob was right - the lines didn't join up but I've disguised it in the door frame! Rob is not happy. But I am - I've been using the same 5L tin of Cats Cradle for the whole room and I've still got loads left! Painting the skirting boards is another great way of adding the illusion of height and space into a room - the eye goes all the way to the floor, rather than stopping at the skirting board.

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Once all the painting was done we began to dress the room. The beautiful, modern but timeless Muuto 'Leaf' light from Amara was placed on the Ghost desk from Maison Du Monde and looks so elegant.

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We also added the Santiago Leather Armchair in Camel from Maison Du Monde. This is for Theo to use as a reading spot and it's butterfly shape is also another one of those iconic designs that fits into lots of design schemes.

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Finally, we added orange and yellow accessories for colour and fun, removable skateboad shelves for practicality and fun, an old camera, old discs onto the wall at Theo's request and some LED strip lighting under the bed for night time mood lighting.

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Customer Feedback - Theo Campling,aged 10.

'Mum, I knew this would be good but it really exceeded my expectations'. (Awwwww!)

'Mum, you and dad have worked so hard on my room, it's made me feel really special'. (I think my eyes are leaking a bit).

'Mum, you and Dad have worked really well together on this project, you ought to work together more often!' (Yikes!!)

Thanks to:

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Shed of the year 2017

I’m a lifelong fan of the outdoors and I love blurring the lines between inside and outside when designing a space. I like to bring natural materials such as raw woods, plants and natural textures inside and I like to treat outdoor spaces in the same way I’d treat an indoor room. So when Cuprinol asked me if I’d like to decorate and furnish a shed in conjunction with ‘Shed of the Year’ on Channel 4 I jumped at the chance! We didn’t really need a shed however, but for a long time we had wanted to build after a veranda type space at the bottom of the garden. We knew that this would be a fun summer project that wouldn’t take long as we have lots of friends and family who would help us out.

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Cuprinol loved the idea of a veranda as it shows that it’s not just sheds that can be made over into fun outdoor spaces. Any covered space outdoors can be made into an outdoor room with a lick of paint and a bit of imagination. So, instead of a shed, we bought the materials needed for the veranda from B & Q.

My initial inspiration for the veranda was the ‘Woodland Stargazer’, a finalist in the Eco Category on Cuprinol’s ‘Shed of the Year’.

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Owned by Annie Maclean in Fort William, the Woodland Stargazer is an off-grid tower hidden in woodland near the owner’s cottage. The roof is glazed to allow for stargazing and the whole building is built from recycled or sustainable materials. I was very inspired by the fact that it’s an all year round space that you can escape to be close to nature. It doesn’t have to be summer. It’s furnished cosily and comfortably and has a built in log burner to keep you warm all year round. And I love that you can see the stars through the glazed roof.

Obviously a veranda is quite a different building, but I wanted the all round living and being close to nature aspect of it. My aesthetic inspiration for the veranda was this image by Caroline Le Grand Design on Pinterest:

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I like its simplicity, how it blends in with the scenery, and how it’s furnished like a normal room.

So, we started to source the materials needed from B & Q. We decided on 4 upright posts to support the roof. Grange Softwood Pine Post (H)2.4 M (W)90 mm, Pack of 4

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We then sourced more wooden posts from B & Q to create the frame to support the roof: Constructional Timber | Timber & Sheet Materials.

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A supporting length of wood was then fixed to the fascia board on the garage to support the frame.

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Once the roof frame was in place we sourced roofing material. We decided on corrugated bitumen from B & Q as it is harder wearing than corrugated plastic, comes in large, easy to handle, sheets and is less noisy when it’s raining! Black Bitumen Roofing Sheet 2000mm x 900mm

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We then painted the whole structure in Cuprinol Garden Shades in ‘White Daisy’. We applied two coats – it went on very easily and provides excellent coverage, but still allows the grain of the wood to show through. This keeps it looking very natural, yet light. Cuprinol Garden Shades White Daisy Matt Wood Paint 2.5L

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We then painted the wall of the garage in two coats of White Masonry paint- Weathershield’s Pure Brilliant White Masonry Paint provides great coverage!

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We had planned to use reed screening on top of and the underside of the roof but decided that the roof looked best white. Instead we used the screening to give a better finish to the fences either end of the garage. Reed Screening Roll 2 M 4 M

The floor is yet to be done so we laid down plastic and used some of our rugs to create a defined floor area.

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I then used furniture we already owned or sourced vintage and reclaimed furniture to dress the space. We decided to split the space into three – a living area, a dining area and a ‘cooking’ i.e. firepit area.

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The space was quick and easy to create and cost around £400. As the nights get colder we plan to install a woodburner / pizza oven and embrace the Danish ‘Hygge’ principle – wrapping up warm, drinking mulled wine and lighting the fire and candles -  to keep the space useable.  There’s no need to glaze the roof like ‘Woodland Stargazer’ because we can see the stars through the branches of the old apple tree next to the veranda. It’s a very versatile space and I can see it being used a lot in the future for book clubs, dinner parties and children’s parties, as well as peaceful evenings looking at the stars and listening to the owls in this quiet part of the garden.

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Shopping List:

8 x Coraline Corrugated Bitumen @£17.50 ea

1 X Cuprinol Garden Shades White Daisy @16

12m of Fencing Posts 10cm X 10cm @£50

40m of timber 5cm X 7.5cm (for roof) £112

Bloom Reed Panel X 2 £50

 

This post is a sponsored post from Cuprinol and Dulux UK.

Inside Out and Outside In

I have always loved the idea of bringing the outside inside at home. I love using plants, logs as side tables and plant stands and branches as decoration. I favour natural textiles such as sheepskins, sisal and wood around the home. Not only do they add character and texture, they're inexpensive and often free - I can often be found foraging the woods for a perfect height log and have been known to stop the car on the M20 in order to scoop up a nice looking silver birch branch from the verge!

Equally, I love taking the inside out and treating the garden as an extra room. Fairy lights and festoons in the trees, outdoor sofas and outdoor dining spring to mind. I always look for multi purpose items that work equally well inside and outside. In these times of austerity, I really think that the items we purchase need to have multiple uses so that they work hard for their money.

Camping in our bell tent gives me a whole new room to decorate and I don't hold back! Rugs, crates, belly baskets, vintage suitcases and crochet blankets all get piled into the van when we go camping and all get used to make the bell tent a home from home when we're away.

So, when Marks and Spencers asked me to choose some of their new Outdoor Living range to play with, I jumped at the chance.

I chose the Azure crackle glazed melamine plates and side plates. I love that they're solid and chunky and that they look exactly like real vintage china.

I also chose the Safari range of melamine. Again, good solid quality that looks like real china. The safari theme is absolutely beautiful and picks up perfectly on the interiors trend for plants, looking equally good inside and outside.

I styled both sets of melamine with the gold brushed Astoria cutlery set and gold Rhino and Elephant salt and pepper sets.

Marks and Spencers have really nailed the the inside out and outside in brief with this range and the matching gold accessories definitely put the glam in glamping. I will be using all of it for dining this summer, whether it's inside or outside.

Product Range:
Crackle Effect Melamine Plate - Azure
Crackle Effect Melamine Side Plate
Safari Melamine Dinner Plates set of four
Safari Cereal Bowls set of four
Astoria Gold Cutlery 16 Pieces
Rhino and Elephant Salt and Pepper Mill

This is a sponsored blog post. However, I only ever post about things I genuinely like and would have in my home.