Round Coffee/ Side tables

Having a little one who is about to be on the move has made us realise that a large, rectangular coffee table with hard corners taking up most of our living room isn’t exactly ideal…. or at least that’s what I’m using as my excuse for being in the market for a suitable replacement!

To be honest, since we got our new peach rug, and the Hay chair with its ash legs, the teak mid-century modern table just doesn’t look right anymore. As the legs on our Hay Chair are ash, I was leaning towards an ash, wood table, but haven’t yet decided. Here are a few I found along the way which I liked.

As you know, I like furniture which serves a dual purpose so these ones work as stools as well as tables:

  • The Alvar Alto Artek 60 stool (bottom right), available in loads of colours, and stackable!
  • The Vitra Cork Family stools, inspired by spools of thread they come in three different shapes
  • The Drum stools, simple upholstered cylinders available with a solid plastic disk top so it can be a stool or a coffee table.

The other coffee tables above include:

  • Indskund Tables (top left) – The table top lifts off so you can use it as a tray. I like the two different sizes and heights that sit nicely together
  • Ercol Nesting Tables (top right) – A design classic, these tables are available in a variety of colours and stack neatly beneath each other to save space when not in use.
  • Another Country Side Table Two (below the Ercol nesting table set) – Elegant design in walnut, ash and brass.  This one you need to save up for!
  • Hay Bella Table (red, and infront of sofa in black and oak) – Available in two different heights and sizes, like the Indskund table these are designed to sit as friends infront of your sofa… or beside it. Arrange as needed.
  • Hay DLM Side Table – (three metal stools bottom row centre) – Available in an array of colours this metal side table with its projecting handle makes it easy to carry from indoors to out. Cute, but probably too easy to knock over for us!
  • Dillon Nesting Tables (blue and grey pair of stools in the centre) – From John Lewis, these look like an attractive alternative to the Hay Bella Tables for a fraction of the price. And they’d match our blue living room!

A New Living Room Rug

The yellow Ikea Stockholm rug that began its stay with me on the floor of my bedroom on Camberwell Grove, took up residence for a little while in our Grand Hall... until the crumbs and spills from our dinner table made me re-consider its location.  After a trip to the dry cleaners, I moved it into our living room. (I’m afraid I don’t seem to have any photos of it here even though it looked really nice!)

However, since our little one was born, we’ve been eating more meals and spending more time in the living room, and as a result the yellow rug was again looking a bit worse for wear. Although the Ikea rug has a geometric pattern on it, because it is a large scale pattern, and is predominantly a solid yellow, it really shows the dirt. What I needed was a darker, (but not too dark given the dark blue walls), finer patterned rug.

When we went to Margate earlier this year, the little interior’s shop that I always like to pop into for inspiration Papillon Interiors was having a spring clearance sale.  Solving this rug problem wasn’t high on my list of priorities as we already had a rug in the room, however this salmon coloured herringbone pattern Varjo Rug from Muuto caught my eye. As it was the show room model, and they were having a sale, I got it for more than 50% off – about the same price as our Ikea rug. Sold!

I wanted to wait a little while before writing this post to see how the rug fared in this now high-traffic room, (in case I needed to move it into our master bedroom), and I’m pleased to report it is working out well.  The darker colour and herringbone texture does help to hide crumbs a bit longer, and spills have been easy to hand rub off.  Plus I love the salmon peach colour next to the dark blue. Now I’ll just be keeping my eyes peeled for a coral toned cushion to tie it all together. (…and probably a new coffee table as our teak one now clashes a bit)



Back in September 2014 I bought some blue hydrangeas for my birthday from my mom. Sadly they didn’t last the season and after turning a splotchy pink (read more about my attempts to make blue blooms here), they died.

So after I had finally overcome this minor trauma, I tried again in 2017. Even though the garden tag stated that Hydrangeas like to be in the sun, I think the direct sunshine facing our south facing wall, where the heat of the day radiated heat back to them well into the evening was too much for them. The petals dried up, as did the leaves… I didn’t have time to empty the pot, and clear out the roots last year, so I just moved it out of sight into the shade of our tree.

Well, lo and behold – this year in the spring the plant remarkably burst into life like a phoenix from the ashes, and we now have a beautiful full Hydrangea plant!

We’ve been feeding it our used coffee grounds to try and keep the pH of the soil lower and more acidic (a pH between 5.2-5.5 is apparently idea if you want to get really technical about it). This keeps the blooms blue (or at least purple).  You can read about more ways to adjust the soil pH here.

Note: The crushed egg shells I tried back in 2014 didn’t work for me in lowering the pH of the soil, so hence the new coffee grounds experiment (which we seem to have a lot more of these days with an 8 month old in tow!).




Gardens need constant care throughout the seasons, and as you know, every year I try to learn a little bit more about the care of one of the various plants that we inherited when we bought out home. Over the past 4 years I’ve learnt about:

This year I figured I’d tackle the Euphorbia as it was threatening to take over the bed and its flowers were dried out and looking unkempt. After a short Google search, I learnt that its best to cut the stems right back to the ground on the spent flowers.  Watch out for the white sticky sap though when trimming Euphorbia. The above photos show the before and after. Much better!

More details about Euphorbia care here.


Growing Gardens

While we were away on a 3.5 week holiday in America, our garden literally burst into life under the careful care of our neighbours.

You may remember that my Dad picked up one tiny strawberry plant from the historic Strawberry Hill House last year as a souvenir for us when we visited. We can’t believe how much it has grown since then! Every time the plant sprouted a tentacle we planted in in an adjacent pot, cutting the link once it had taken root. Our neighbours made sure it was watered regularly while we were away and the result was a bumper crop of strawberries!

Strawberries only produce fruit once a season, so if you want strawberries for the whole summer you need to plant early, mid, and late summer strawberries apparently. So for the rest of the summer we will enjoy the big leafy green it provides in our pots.

Our succulent also seemed to enjoy the warmest April in London since records began, and the warmest May since 1992 and decided to flower!


Concrete Coping Stones

Our slate grey concrete coping stones arrived the other day, and here they are ready to be installed on the top of our party wall.

We considered topping the wall with a crisp aluminium flashing, which would have certainly looked more contemporary, however as walking along the top of the wall will be the only way to clean our rooflights and unblock any drains or gutters, we figured topping the wall in concrete stones would be a more robust, less slippery solution.

We opted for a dark slate grey colour for a number of reasons:

  • The dark grey picks up on the blue-grey iron spots in the yellow London stock brickwork that our house is built of
  • The dark grey will also match the lead flashing in the vicinity
  • When we do our extension we will replace the non-original brown cement roofing tiles on our lower roof (as they’ll all have to come up when we build it). My plan is to replace them with a roofing tile in a dark slate grey colour which will also match these coping stones.
  • I also think that the dark grey colour looks more considered and luxurious than standard plain light grey concrete. (As far as coping stones can be luxurious!)
  • We can’t afford real limestone coping stones, and finding a buff coloured concrete coping stones that looks like stone is risky (some are very yellow, and if you’re ordering online you don’t know what you’re getting!). Plus as a general rule I don’t like ‘faking’ a material. If you can’t afford something, don’t fake it, but find another nice or interesting material!

Some of the concrete coping stones out there taper to a very thin edge and can look a bit flimsy. The one’s I found are ‘twice weathered’ , (meaning they slope in both directions from a point in the middle), and go from 75mm thickness down to 50mm thickness at the edge.  It’s a little narrower than the height of a brick (68mm / 2-1/4″), but looks up to the task!

We bought our coping stones from The Roofing Superstore for £9 each. They are 600mm in length, and 350mm wide so that the drip edge projects 25mm on either side of the wall to minimise staining from water run off.


Pretty Peonys

We have two peony plants in our garden and one of them has just burst into flower, so I thought I’d share a little colour with you all today. The previous owners planted these flowers, and I think they are my favourite in the garden…

They seem to grow very well, so we may invest in another one at some point… perhaps in a more delicate colour, once I’ve figured out a driving concept for our garden. At the moment we’ve just bought a few plants that we like to add to what was already there, without much thought.  As a result, although filled and fairly lush,  the garden is now a bit of a mismatch at the moment and needs a theme or concept to tie it all together. (I think the previous owner’s ‘theme’ was the colour pink as all flowering plants are pink, but now I’ve watered that down somewhat – no pun intended!)  We’ve got english roses, a mediterranean olive tree, a few herbs, some strawberries, and a pot with some desert succulents in it.

I don’t know what that big theme is at the moment, (I don’t know much about landscape design… yet!), but I’ve secretly been watching the BBC2 small urban garden show ‘Big Dreams Small Spaces’ on Netflix for inspiration… Getting rid of the small cedar trees earlier this year really helped to open things up as a first step. I have to report that Tree 2 never made the re-location, but we aren’t too sad about that as it was a bit weedy looking anyway.