Bloomsbury Children’s Books – Autumn 2017

Both my 8 and my 6 year old are becoming fluent readers, and recently both have taken a step away from their ‘reading books’ into the world of real literature. They are ready for texts which require more reading stamina.

This is a tricky time as their confidence is riding high and they want to read lengthier books. However, sometimes this results in them becoming a little over ambitious in their choices! I applaud my son’s desire to read the Harry Potter novels, but the simple truth is he’s not quite there yet!

Bloomsbury kindly sent me their new autumn and winter releases, and they are perfect for my children. The text is manageable yet also develops their vocabulary and comprehension as they become immersed in more complex stories.

Here are just a few of their current favourites:

Bloomsbury Children’s Books – Autumn 2017

Witch Snitch

Perfect for Halloween! Tiga and friends are famous throughout Sinkville for their part in the Witch Wars competition. Now they have been asked to make a TV documentary about the most interesting witches in town. Whilst Tiga enjoys making the documentary, she can’t help but feel there’s something going on behind her back …

This is a hilarious companion story to the main Witch Wars series. It is, however, a great standalone title, full of character profiles, facts and activities to give children everything they need to create their very own Witch Wars party.

Click here to order your copy – Witch Snitch: The Inside Scoop on the Witches of Ritzy City (Witch Wars)

On trend witchy mayhem!

 

Curse of the Werewolf Boy

Sticking with Halloween… Mildew and Sponge don’t think much of Maudlin Towers, the blackened, gloom-laden, gargoyle-infested monstrosity that is their school. But when somebody steals the School Spoon and the teachers threaten to cancel the Christmas holidays until the culprit is found, our heroes must spring into action and solve the crime!

Who is the ghost in the attic? What’s their history teacher doing with a time machine? And why do a crazy bunch of Vikings seem to think Mildew is a werewolf?

Hugely funny, deliciously creepy and action-packed by turns, this brand new series from Chris Priestley is perfect for 8+ readers who like their mysteries with a bit of bite. Fans of Lemony Snicket and Chris Riddell will love Curse of the Werewolf Boy.

Click here to order your copy – Curse of the Werewolf Boy (Maudlin Towers)

An action-packed mystery!

 

Safari Pug (moving away from Halloween!)

My son is a huge fan of the Pug and Lady Miranda stories! He has both the previous two ‘Pug’ stories and whenever he gets the latest book he has to look and see what the next story to be published will be called!

When Pug and Lady Miranda have a scary run-in with a lion one night (he might be hiding under the bed), Lady M decides Pug needs to face his fears and go on safari. Pug goes a bit wobbly when he finds out he’ll be coming nose to nose with Florence, the rare white lion cub, but he soon realises that lions may not be the most dangerous thing in the wildlife park… Safari Pug didn’t disappoint!

Click here to order your copy – Safari Pug (The Adventures of Pug)

Pug faces his fears!

 

These books have bought much joy to my children, and their reading journey!

Happy reading!

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Snapshots of Life

The other day I read a lovely article in the John Lewis magazine. India Knight was discussing how she passionately believes you should put the ‘heart’ into the home, especially in this era of minimalism. This is something I constantly struggle with! I want a home which is clean, cool and soothing… Yet I also want to have around me the objects and trinkets which make it a true home. For a long time I thought the two weren’t compatible, and then India’s article got me thinking…

I am a sentimentalist at heart, and I freely confess to collecting and keeping items which resonate with me – a wonky clay pot made by my children, their brightly coloured artwork, my Grandmother’s silver hat pins and silver sugar tongs… None of these items have any real monetary value, yet all are precious in their own ways to me.

I guess what I’m beginning to understand is that less is sometimes more! Minimalism can be the very vehicle which actually allows you to put your heart into your home!

Snapshots of Life

This autumn I’m really focussing on what I can cull (the mundane paraphenalia which I unnecessarily accumulate!) and on making room for those possessions which I can lovingly curate and display. No more dusty boxes under beds, housing treasures which are forgotten but not quite forgotten…

Magical Memories

 

My goal over the coming months centres on reconnecting with those snapshots of my life represented by items which deserve to be seen and curated in little seasonal displays. Above all they need to be enjoyed! These items really are my treasures, each tells a story and connects me to a time, place or person in my life. All are emotionally nourishing and stand as testaments to the life I have lived.

As India Knight says herself, ‘precious doesn’t even begin to cover it’.

What items will you be displaying and curating this autumn? I’d love to hear from you!

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Visiting Petersham Nurseries Richmond

Well, over the past couple of weeks I’ve been following my own advice, and embracing all the joy that a change of seasons brings with it! I’ve been out and about and we had a wonderful family visit to Petersham Nurseries last weekend!

Petersham Nurseries has long been on my ‘to visit’ list, as I’ve heard nothing but good things from friends! Their website is gloriously tempting, and any business with this quote has to be worth a visit…

“A PLACE OF BEAUTY, AN EMPORIUM OF GOODS AND A CELEBRATION OF THE SEASONS.”

Visiting Petersham Nurseries Richmond

Petersham Nurseries is perhaps most well-known to foodies for the Petersham Nurseries Cafe and Teahouse. The food, freshly grown and seasonal, speaks for itself – as do the sometimes super long queues to get into the cafe! The ambience is bustling but relaxed and truly eclectic. I loved the variety of wooden tables, reclaimed chairs and bamboo covered roof.

Despite the long queues, there are plenty of chairs and tables dotted around, both inside and outside the greenhouse. Many of these are cleverly placed amongst huge pots and urns brimming with gorgeous seasonal plants. The tables have smaller glass jars bursting with colour!

The Teahouse is adjacent to the Cafe, and provides a sophisticated yet casual restaurant dining experience.

Nursery and Garden Shop

At the heart of the business is the Nursery and Garden Shop, which stock both familiar and unusual specimens of plants and flowers, alongside beautiful artisan gardening tools and equipment. Everything flows seamlessly, as home and garden become entwined!

The Shop at Richmond is a truly unparalleled lifestyle and homewares shop, selling a diverse, unique and eclectic range of gifts, furniture and antiques. The shop is renowned for its ever-changing selection of chandeliers, glassware, mirrors and antique furniture, sourced locally and internationally.

The displays are truly breathtaking and inspirational too! There really is something for almost everyone!

Due to its’ popularity, Petersham Nurseries gets very busy. With the restaurant and cafe dominating the space, it’s easy to miss the hidden gems on view. Take your time, double check you’ve walked all around and enjoy a true feast for the eyes and the senses!

Finally, parking is very very limited, so use public transport unless you absolutely have to drive!

Happy shopping!

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Embracing the End of Summer

Well September is well and truly underway, and summer feels like a lifetime ago! I don’t know about you, but I always feel that as soon as the September routine kicks in everything which has gone before seems to become a bit of a blur!

I know for some people the end of summer and the beginning of autumn can be a difficult time. It’s not hard to see why – we lose the warmth and daylight hours and for many of us with families, our days return to routine, clock-watching and generally spinning plates!

I personally love this time of year, and try to embrace all that it has to offer. For those of you who are less keen, here’s a few tips on how to ease that transition from summer into autumn and winter…

Embracing the End of Summer

Daylight

It sounds so simple but remember to savour and enjoy the daylight hours we still have! The nights are definitely drawing in, but make the most of the remaining daylight hours – whether it’s an early evening stroll or simply a quick walk at lunchtime when the weather is nice, get out there! Autumn is renowned for its’ ‘golden light’ – so catch it when you can!

embracing autumn

Routine

Embrace the opportunity to get into a new routine, and think critically about how you can plan your week. Learn from past mistakes and see this as a new opportunity to approach your week with a different outlook and different time frames to reduce pressure. What didn’t work last year, and what could de done to improve the way your week flows?

embracing autumn

Reflect

Autumn has recently be referred to as ‘the new January’. I can see the logic in this. It can feel like a fresh start and an opportunity to look at what you have achieved this year and what you want to achieve during the last part of the year. Don’t beat yourself up about what you haven’t done, celebrate where you are now and plan where you want to be by December.

Rejuvenate

Every season brings with it a certain necessity to update your home and wardrobe, so embrace that! I’ve just taken lots of pleasure from choosing a new winter coat – in a rich and cosy dark grape shade for something different, and a total contrast to my cream coat of previous years! I’m deliberating on a new shade for my Moshulu slippers too!

At home my light strings and Skye scented candles are really coming into their own, and I love creating a cosy, intimate environment! I’m going to be getting my hygge on too, as soon as opportunity allows!

Whatever your plans this autumn, look for the joy a change of season can bring. If all else fails, at least you can hope for an ‘Indian Summer’!

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The Rattan Revolution

When I think of rattan, I tend to think of decorative items such as baskets and plant containers. More recently rattan has been used for furniture, mainly due to its qualities. it is lightweight, durable, suitable for outdoor use, and (to a certain extent) flexible. Rattan is somewhat similar to bamboo, it accepts paint really well and does not splinter.

Interior designers have used rattan as an established and stylish material to add a natural and slightly rustic look to homes. This autumn it appears that our current love affair with rattan is simply growing stronger!

The Rattan Revolution

Many companies are featuring rattan in their autumn and winter collections, and also being as inventive as possible in the way it is being used. One of my favourite online retailers, Cox and Cox, have introduced a huge range of rattan furniture and decorative items for their new collection. Here are just a few of my favourites:

Rattan Cone Chair

Woven from natural rattan with a strong elegant metal frame, this new Rattan Cone Chair has been updated with a smoother, comfier shape and stronger finish. Perfect for a bedroom, conservatory or study!

Rattan Side Table

This stylish round coffee table is inspired by 70s Scandi, and will add a touch of bohemian style to any living space. Each piece features a flat top with gently curved sides and an open bottom for simplicity. This side table has a natural blonde rattan finish.

Rattan Table Lamp

With a Scandi inspired woven rattan base, this unique table lamp has a simple oval shape and natural cotton shade. It sits beautifully with a natural or white interior.

Rattan Christmas!

Apologies for mentioning Christmas in August, but it seems Cox and Cox are ahead of the game too! This year you can hide away those ugly tree stands with a rattan Christmas tree ring. Made from hand woven split rattan, this simple ring adds the finishing touch to any tree.

This year there’s even ‘faux Rattan’ light up stars made from weatherproof plastic designed to look just like real rattan! This large lit star decoration is perfect for creating a festive outdoor look. Each piece has a metal frame, woven with grey faux rattan and lit with 36 warm white lights.

To conclude, it would appear that every room and season is covered! Will you be joining the rattan revolution this Autumn and Winter?

Happy shopping!

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Introducing Home Monsoon

HOME by Monsoon is a new homeware collection that sets the tone for stylish, modern living with warmth, colour and personality. It’s exactly the kind of collection I’d expect Monsoon to launch, with super contemporary style and attention to detail. Designed exclusively in London, the range spans artfully-crafted furniture, plush textiles and thoughtful accessories. All of which will breathe new life into any living space.

There are gorgeous splashes of colour and glamorous embellishments on cushions, curtains and rugs. Monsoon have also made a real nod to the latest trends from bedroom to living room with copper home accessories and geometric mirrors. Whether you co-ordinate your soft furnishings or curate an eclectic mix, I think you’ll discover something for every room in this exciting range.

Introducing Home Monsoon

There are many pieces to fall in love with in this new collection. However, most of us don’t redesign entire rooms all at once though, so I’ve chosen a few pieces to breathe new life into existing room decor.

Velvet Cushions

Combining colour-pops and textures, the soft furnishings from Monsoon Home will make a statement, whether it be in your living room of your bedroom. These cushions, throws, floor cushions and rugs showcase plush velvet, pretty embroidery and on-trend tassels in designs. New cushions are excellent for providing an instant pick-me-up. I love the simple decadence of their velvet cushions as autumn and winter approaches.

monsoon-home-velevet-cushion
Silver Velvet

 

Moroccan Candles

Candle create ambience, and their Moroccan candles are beautiful! I’m sorely tempted by these as we have a Moroccan light string at home, and I love the light patterns they create! Fashioned in a tinted glass jar, the Moroccan small candle has an inviting citrus vanilla scent.  It is topped with an ornate patterned metal lid – super pretty! 

monsoon-home-moroccan-candle
Silver Moroccan Candle

 

Straw Baskets

Finally, beautifully handcrafted using a traditional technique, the straw baskets make for a stylish and practical addition to any home. The stripe detailing lends another contemporary finish too. The baskets come in black, pink, blue and white too!

monsoon-home
White Straw Basket

 

There’s so much more to choose from, why not pop over and take a look! More items (including furniture!) are coming soon.

Happy shopping!

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Scents from Skye

I’ve made no secret of how much I love using candles and fragrances to create ambience at home. Whether it’s winter hygge comfort or summer freshness, there’s a scented candle for every season. I love the way scents evoke memories, there is very little in this world more memorable than a scent… With this in mind I was delighted to recently discover The Skye Candle Company.

Isle of Skye Candle Company

The Skye Candle Company

The Skye Candle Company have the most amazing range of scented candles and diffusers. After finishing a gap year in Canada, founder James Robertson started working for a soap company based in the main village on Skye, Portree. Discovering a flare for mixing scents and having a passion for natural products he started the Isle of Skye Candle Company.

Isle of Skye Candle Company

With help from family and friends, James then renovated the bothy based on his uncle’s croft in Braes, and turned it into his candle making workshop.It even had an authentic grass roof and wood burning stove! Since then the company has gone from strength to strength. Demand for Skye Candles is at an all time high, resulting in a new workshop being opened in Broadford, Skye. There are now 5 shops and a thriving online business!

Scents from Skye

I’m a great vanilla fan for autumn and winter. I love the warmth that the scent of vanilla brings to a room! This summer, however, I’ve been tempted by some new fragrances…The Skye Candle Company’s Scottish tumblers first caught my eye. I couldn’t resist the combination of Heather and Wild Berries  – currently my favourite scent at home! It’s the mix of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries that give it a distinctly warm feeling.

Next on my summer list is Scottish Bluebell followed by Raspberry and White Ginger for autumnThis rich fragrance marries the delicious scent of Scottish raspberry with the warm spices of white ginger and a touch of cinnamon bark. These scents are then balanced out with a hint of my favourite – sweet vanilla.

There are also some super cute travel containers and Air Freshners too, both of which now enable me to take my favourite scents with me when I travel!

Isle of Skye Candle Company

I love the authenticity of The Skye Candle Company as a brand, the gorgeous packaging and simply amazing scent combinations!

If you want to find out more, then do pop over to their website – there’s an awful lot to tempt you…

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The Art of the Natural Home: A Review

In our increasingly complex and fast-paced world, many people are seeking a simpler, paired down lifestyle. Interest in sustainability, natural products and mindfulness are now high on people’s agendas, and rightly so!

Time always seems to be at a premium, yet more and more people are taking the time to create their own homemade products using simple, natural ingredients. The Art of the Natural Home is very much rooted in these beliefs.

The Art of the Natural Home

Taking inspiration from her grandmother’s generation, Rebecca Sullivan has put together a beautiful guide to caring for yourself and your home. Traditional methods are brought alive with stunning contemporary illustrations by Nassima Rothacker. Nassima is an Australian photographer with a creative focus on food, travel, interiors and people. Her photographs bring to life each method, perfectly updated to suit the modern home.

Rebecca Sullivan’s journey began with a mission to master and preserve the skills of her Grandma Lil’s disappearing generation. Her Grandma won medals for her Victoria sponge cake and Rebecca was determined that the recipe, and her Grandma’s skills would not be lost.

As Rebecca points out, Lil’s generation cooked from scratch because they had to. They ate local, seasonal food and abhorred waste. Our processed foods and supermarkets have made life easier but they also resulted in the loss of Granny Skills. Convenience therefore won the day and people no longer learned how to cook. What followed was not only a loss of recipes and technique but, sadly, a loss of confidence.

The Natural Home

The first part of the book is dedicated to the Home, and covers cleaning products for every room, ideas for pickles and preserves, and tips on everything from natural laundry treatments to how to grow your own cocktail garden. I am already drying rose petals for a potpourri, and am tempted to try the infused flower salts!

Natural Health & Beauty

The second part covers Health & Beauty, and includes bath salts, make up, serums, perfumes and even beard oil, as well as healing remedies such as burn salves and herbal teas. The coconut and orange shampoo sounds divine!

To conclude, The Art of the Natural Home is quite simply an inspiring book! It is therefore a must for anyone interested in living a simpler, more ‘natural’ and holistic approach to life.

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Top Tips for a New Start-Up Business

These days more and more people are getting into ‘start-ups’, and they are becoming an increasingly popular way for individuals who want to take control of their own financial and employment destiny. As a blogger/writer and photographer I’ve had a lot of experience of start-ups in the last 5 years, and wanted to share with you some practical advice which I’ve certainly benefitted from along the rocky road of business start-ups!

Top Tips for a New Start-Up Business

New Start-Up Business

Start with an Idea

If you’re thinking of starting up a business, you’ll first need to come up with a realistic idea which you can turn into a product or service. As your idea develops you’ll need to research, research, research! Find out who else is doing something similar, and research as much as you can about your potential competitors! How are you going to stand out and be unique?

Get Feedback

You may have an idea for a business or have created something you think people will want to purchase. Once you have identified who your potential customers are, start talking to them about your idea. You need to get as much feedback as you can. Listen to the feedback and adapt your ideas before you launch your business concept.

New Start-Up Business

Write a Business Plan

This needs to clearly show the results of the above feedback and explain in much more detail how you can turn your idea into viable business. You need clear objectives and time frames, and need to plan every aspect of your business from suppliers, to retail outlets and marketing.

Collaborate

Even if you intend to be a ‘sole trader’ and work alone, your business is likely to involve working with others including partners, suppliers and distributors. Source people with relevant skills and knowledge, and don’t feel you need to be an expert at everything.

New Start-Up Business

Working Space

A clear and well-organised working space is essential for helping you stay in control of every aspect of your business. It’s especially important if you are working from home. If home working isn’t a viable option, look to rent some office space once you’re in a financial position to do so. There are lots of online sources such as Instant Offices.

Pallet Racking

It may well be that you want to carry stock. Good advice is to never carry more stock than you need, and to be especially careful when you’re starting a new business, as no-one wants to store or purchase lots of stock which might not sell! If, however, you sell a lot of large items and need fast and efficient storage then look at warehouse storage solutions, where a professional team can set up pallet racking for your business. Pallet racking is the ultimate solution to arrange and re-arrange stock in customised pallets specifically tailored to your business type.

Finances

You need good financial advisers when you are handling complex issues such as finances, tax and business law. Some people like to do their own accounts, but it’s always best to ensure you seek proper advice for tax and other business related issues. It will cost, but this is nothing compared to the piece of mind which comes from knowing your finances are in safe and efficient hands.

Finally, remember that no business owner can be good at everything, but all successful business people have someone close to them who is!

If you have any top tips for starting up a business, I’d love to hear from you!

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Living on the Wild Side with the Leckford Estate

I have made no secret of my love of the outdoors, and of gardening! I would love a cut flower garden so that I could grow and enjoy flowers all year round! This is an achievable goal, if I plan it properly! Maybe one day, if we have a bigger garden, I’ll be able to fulfil that dream!

In the meantime I’m having to remain content with bringing flowers into the home as often as I can. I’m also embracing the recent trend for all things botanical in home decor ranges!

Nature inspired prints and accessories are everywhere, and it’s a trend I love! I’m not overly confident with big and bold prints, so have been searching for some more delicate floral accessories…

Clean and Fresh Looking Leckford Duvet and Pillowcases

 

Living on the Wild Side

John Spedan Lewis (Mr ‘John Lewis’ himself!) purchased Leckford Estate in 1929 and it remained his home throughout his life. John Lewis and Waitrose have farmed continuously at the estate for over 87 years. The estate produces the very best quality food, with the sole aim of working in harmony with the environment.

in addition, the Longstock Park Water Gardens were added to the estate in 1942, and since then the gardens have been nurtured and developed to become famous water gardens. John Spedan Lewis spent much of his later life in these gardens and whilst the gardens remain true to his time, the landscape has evolved so that it remains a vibrant, tranquil and beautiful place to visit.

Super Pretty Longstock Curtains

 

The fresh, airy and colourful surroundings are captured in the new Leckford Country Collection, a fresh and updated take on classic florals. The colours are inspired by flowers – neutrals, darks and brights working seamlessly together in a modern delightful way.

Contemporary and Stylish Leckford Tableware

 

So to sum up, I’m a complete convert and tempted by both the Leckford tableware and Longstock home furnishings too! I can feel a shopping trip coming on!

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Up, Up and Away: A Review

What does it take to build your very own planet? Orson is about to find out… He takes:
A cup full of rocks
A dash of water
A sprinkling of metal
A lot of nothingness
A big bang …
And before long, BOOM! He has it – a tiny planet with rings around it, right there in his bedroom!

Building a planet is the easy bit…

 

Up, Up and Away

Up,Up and Away is a heart-warming story about life’s possibilities and disappointments with an uplifting ending that will resonate with all fans of Oliver Jeffers’ work. For it seems that BUILDING a planet is the easy bit; taking care of it is a different thing altogether. Over time, Orson realises that his planet needs to be free and that sometimes you have to let go of the things that you love the most …

The author, Tom McLaughlin, is the author and illustrator of the fabulous books The Story Machine and The Cloudspotter, and his third book, Up, Up and Away does not disappoint. As with his previous books, it shows off Tom’s incredible talent and unique style of drawing and storytelling. I always enjoy the understated gentleness of Tom McLaughlin’s work. He always approaches challenging or sensitive issues with gentleness and positivity. Another uplifting read and which we’ll enjoy returning to again and again.

Many thanks to Bloomsbury Books for sending me a copy of Up,Up and Away to review.

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The Joy of Fresh Bedding and Bed Sheets

I do love fresh bedding! There are many evenings when I literally can’t wait to slip into bed, especially if I’ve had a hectic day! I always think that one of the best things about returning home from a holiday or weekend away is getting to sleep in your own comfy bed again, surrounded by familiar objects.

Slipping into a freshly made bed is guaranteed to provide comfort, soothe the mind, and help with a restful night’s sleep – whatever kind of day you’ve had!

Refreshed and relaxed!

 

The Joy of Fresh Bedding and Bed Sheets

Here are a few top tips I’ve picked up to ensure I keep my bed feeling fresh and inviting…

Mattresses

Invest in the best mattress you can afford. A mattress with proper support will mean that you automatically sleep better and avoid potential back and hip discomfort. If you can’t afford a new mattress then add a mattress topper to increase comfort and transform the way your bed feels.

Duvets and Pillows

Spend some time searching for the right duvets and pillows, there are so many types to choose from! A little research and a good deal of prodding and testing in shops is essential to find what works for you in terms of support and comfort! I’ve already extolled the virtues of my climate control duvet from Slumberdown, and I wouldn’t be without it now!

Keep it simple!

 

Bed sheets

Buying new bed sheets or simply changing them is akin to giving yourself an instant present! Smooth, fresh, clean sheets; combined with ambient lighting and a good book/magazine can help your day end on a brighter and more relaxing note. Email

There are lots of options for bed sheets, from Egyptian cotton, to brushed cotton flannel and linen. Choose the one that feels best on your skin and be willing to experiment! I love the colours of the Egyptian Cotton bedsheets which can be found at Yorkshire Linen.

Throws

A throw adds a touch of softness to the foot of the bed, and can be especially useful when you’re sitting up in bed to read on a chilly night! You can also swap throws according to the season to give your bed and bedlinen an instant fresh update!

A Few Treats…

If you have wooden or laminate flooring, invest in a soft bedside rug. Comfort is essential when you need to get up in the night or early morning, and there’s nothing nicer than stepping onto a soft, warm rug!

Keep some extra pillows on hand! Extra pillows can be used to ‘dress’ your bed once it’s made for the day, but they’re great when you want to read in bed too! Use a spare seat or basket to store your extra pillows during the night, before climbing into bed. I love Cox and Cox Occasional Chairs, and dream of buying their Grey Woven Tub Chair for my bedroom!

Grey Tub Chair

 

Finally, dust and declutter your room. You need to relax free from distractions, and the area around your bed should only feature what you want close at hand while you’re in bed!

Your bed really can be a please of retreat and relaxation! What are your ideas for fresh bedding and a relaxing bed and bedroom? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks!

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