Fishy Shades of Cray

Most beautiful things in life have urban legends. Curtains poles are no different.

There was a woman, she had a husband. But not for much longer. She found out he had been cheating on her with his secretary, presumably Swiss, presumably 20 years younger. After much toing and froing it was decided they would divorce. The main reason being: he was a big cheating bastard.

So he went away with Frieda for a few nights and left his broken wife at their broken home to pack up her broken life. She packed what she could, the bits that weren’t tainted with bitter memories, once beautiful, now rotten. On the first night she wept as she decided who got which DVD (she got The Silence of the Lambs, he got 27 Dresses the big cheating git). The second night she cried as she packed her clothes, throwing most of them away as he bought her them. Who could wear clothes born of deceit? On the third night though, she ate. She ate caviar, and garlic shrimps, and sardines and smoked salmon. She ate most of them anyway. With the rest she walked around the house and stuffed them inside the hollow curtain poles.

The next day she was gone, and the husband was back with Frieda. They started together, anew, in the house that held a former love. For a time they were happy. But one particularly warm evening there was something in the air. A certain… wiff. Perhaps an animal had died outside? They closed the windows and thought nothing of it. A few days later the smell was still there, an inspection of the garden turned up no unfortunate critters. No over-turned rubbish. No leaky sewage.

It was around this time they realised the smell must be coming from inside the house, so they cleaned. Frieda and the big cheat scrubbed and bleached and swept and polished. But still, the smell remained. A plumber was called, but the pipes were unblocked and flowing freely. The council were called, but the sewers were spotless. An exterminator was called, and even after he found nothing but performed a three day fumigation anyway, the smell still lingered. Stronger than ever now. Something was definitely rotting. Was it the ex-wives resentment? Probably not. Was it the half a kilo of shrimp inside the bedroom curtain poles? More than likely.

After changing the carpets and tossing his favourite sheepskin rug, they could take no more. They put the house on the market. The estate agent came round, and despite the pong concluded such a house, in such a location would easily sell. Given they knocked a few quid off. He was wrong. A month later they knocked a bit more off. Another month even more. By the end of the third month the estate agent didn’t answer the phone, never mind come round to the property.

At the end of the fourth month, at their wits end and slightly ill from breathing in too much Febreeze they get a call. It’s the ex-wife. Though she can’t stand the big cheating bugger and Frieda with the boobs, she misses the house. It was a good house. Solid walls and warm radiators. Are they perhaps selling it? Yes! Of course they are! And for nearly half the market value! A few days later Philandering Phil and Feckless Frieda are off, counting their blessings and breathing the fresh air. The wife moved in, bringing the lovely new curtain poles she just bought. She opened the windows wide and let the breeze blow through. She sat back in her massive house, and how she laughed.

How to Create a Log Cabin Experience at Home

I think at some point we have all dreamed about running away and living in the woods. A log cabin tucked away in the trees, far away from phones, Facebook, bills, overdrafts… the modern world in general really. Yesterday was national log cabin day. It aimed to celebrate all the serenity a log cabin can give you. The calming and restorative effects of quiet solitude cannot be doubted.

Log Cabin

But, alas, life being what it is we can’t just up and sell the car, the house, the kids… but that doesn’t mean we can’t have our own little corner of tranquility.

Peaceful: Log cabins are synonymous with peace and quiet. With nothing more than the chirping of birds and the wind sighing through the trees we find ourselves unwinding in no time. How can we replicate this in the home? Well, in an inner city home it can be difficult. There is a constant hum of traffic and people, and no matter how well we try to sound proof it always seems to leak through. There are some things we can do however.

Log Cabin Window

If your window furnishings have a low opacity then you can draw them to cover a less than pleasant view while still allowing the room to be bright. The sounds of the forest can be replicated quite easily. On Youtube there are recordings of forest sounds, some as long as 10 hours. Get the volume just high enough to drown out the outside but not so loud as to be overpowering and… breathe.

 

Cosy: It’s funny, but it’s always night time when we picture the inside of a log cabin. No need for blinds or curtains as its pitch black outside, apart from the stars. Just a fire and some candles giving off light as you sink into a book if you’re on your own, or laughing like hyenas if you’re not.

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Thankfully, this is easy to replicate at home. Blackout fabrics will shut out almost all light, mimicking the lack of light pollution. Turn the lights down, or off completely, and use candles or a fire if you’re lucky enough to have one (if you don’t there’s always this). Make sure there are plenty of warm blankets and cosy pillows to melt into. Then call some friends and crack open the wine.

 

Solitude: There is something about being alone that is almost meditative. No pressures or pretending, just you and your thoughts allowed wander and explore. Obviously deep in the forest it is a simple task to feel alone, as you probably will be. But most urban and even rural areas can be quite densely populated.

Lonely Log Cabin

The simplest way to try and achieve this is to escape a little bit. For some this might mean a half an hour drive or train ride to a quieter part of the world, like the local forest or moorland. There are some beautiful places in the UK. The Peak District, The Yorkshire Dales, The Brecon Beacons, The South Downs and The Lake District all provide ample solitude and some true natural beauty. But even a trip to the next town, just wandering around a new place where you know nobody, can be an adventure and give you a calming feeling of solitude.

 

Warm: You’re never cold in your log cabin are you? There is always mounds of blankets, the fire is always roaring and you never take your joggers off unless you’re going outside. There is always some snacks around and a warm cup of tea or cold beer depending on the time of day.

Cosy Log Cabin

It’s a simple job to do this at home. If you have a fire, chuck some logs on. If not, crank the heating up a touch. Pile blankets and quilts generously around the room and make sure the fridge is fully stocked.

 

Beautiful: Obviously, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but our love of log cabins seems to be quite universal. There is something about their simplicity and the way in which they work in harmony with their surrounding that appeals to us all.

Log Cabin

This is hard to replicate, unless you’re willing to bulldoze your home and break out the hammer. Maybe we should just sit back and enjoy them from afar. And if you get really desperate you can always make a blanket tent in your living room and pretend.

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Bringing the Outside, In.

Well, summer is supposed to be nearing, but looking out the window it’s hard to believe that. Summer is the time to be outside. It conjures images of lush green grass, laughter, brightness and frolicking (interpret that how you may…) It’s hardly surprising then, as we are trapped indoors by the rain, that there is an increasing trend of trying to bring the outside indoors.

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Rather than being an interior design style unto itself, it is more of a theme or feature of a few existing styles. It is prominent in minimalist design, a blog talking about this can be found here. It can also be found in rustic interiors, many of which use reclaimed materials for decoration as well as practical purposes. One example of this is a recent trend to use wooden sinks. It can also be seen frequently in beach hut style interiors, often using driftwood for decoration.

woodsinktwiglampThe idea of bringing the outside in can be interpreted in a couple of ways. The first and most obvious interpretation is using materials typically found outside, inside. Wood is of course used all the time in the home, but in this context it is typically left in a more untreated or natural looking state. The same goes for stone and rocks. Wrought Iron and tool steel can also be used for this: old used tools make for interesting decorations with a lot of character.

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The second part of this design idea is the merging of the inside and out. This is achieved by using large windows and big patio doors leading to the garden. This quite literally makes the transition between inside and out less obvious. You can also create this in a subtle illusion by using paint tones and shades often seen outside. Dark greens, light yellows, blues and browns work well for this.

It has been done since before time began, but using plants and flowers as decoration is another aspect of bringing the outside in. When talked about in this context however it is typically envisaged that a large quantity of foliage is used, or perhaps even wood, twigs and branches as opposed to the standard flower-in-vase arrangement.

Here are a few tips to help bring the outside into your home.

Reclaim some driftwood – This can be found all over, and is usually free. Beaches are obviously the ideal location to score a nice piece, but it is a common hunting ground so you’ll have to be quick. Driftwood can be used as either decoration or can even be used as a functional piece of furniture.

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Decorate with Iron – Old tools are easy to reclaim from scrap yards, farmhouses, markets, car boot sales and antique shops. Wrought iron curtain poles and accessories have a similar effect, or can accentuate the existing decorations.

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Use a large amount of plants and foliage – This is a rather obvious and easy way to achieve bringing the outside in. There are even occasions of homes being built around a tree, ingratiating it into the architecture. Or, providing enough light and hydration are available, it is possible to grow trees indoors. There is a growing trend of living green walls: an entire wall that has a carpet of plants and mosses that lives and grows inside the house.

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Use Pallets – Along a similar vein to reclaiming driftwood, pallets can be used as very functional pieces of furniture. There is an entire culture built around pallet furniture. It emphasises upcycling as well as aesthetically pleasing furniture. There is the obvious use of wood here, but also typically pallets are associated with the outside, with work yards and factories, so bringing them inside is an interesting juxtaposition.

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Use softer, more natural materials – Rattan, hemp and wicker are all natural materials that add texture to the home. The good thing about these materials is that they are readily available and not too costly. Natural Wood flooring, depending on the colour of the wood, can have a startling effect on the appearance of your home and it is relatively simple to do.hemp chairfloor2

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Minimalise the transition between inside and out – This obviously requires a bit more building work than the other tips, but large windows and patio doors leading straight onto the garden have a profound effect on the way a house looks and feels.

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The Inventor of Curtain Poles

Who Invented Curtain Poles?

His name is Samuel Scottron, and he is a very interesting man. Least of all for inventing curtain poles. He was a tireless innovator, business man and black rights activist.

Samuel Scottron

Born in 1841 Samuel’s father saw little point in his son pursuing further education, so before the American civil war he took the boy to work with him on a Hudson River steamer. During the war they found work as Sutlers for a Black Union Regiment.

Using the commercial sense he developed while dealing with the army, Scottron moved to Florida and opened several grocery stores. It was around this time that he became interested in politics.

In 1864, he participated in the first general election that allowed the Freedmen to vote. He was duly elected by the local black residents to represent them in the National Coloured Convention. A few years later in 1872 he founded the Cuban Anti-Slavery society with Henry Highland Garnet.

After a while the grocery business stopped being profitable, so Scottron returned to the North and opened a barber shop (is there anything this man couldn’t do?) It was here where he created his first, and probably most important invention (after curtain rods, of course); the Scottron Mirror.

Scottron Mirror

Scottron noticed that his customers could never see their head in its entirety, or ‘see yourself as others do’. So he designed a mirror which had ‘mirrors so arranged opposite each other as to give the view of every side at once’. Apparently the Scottron Mirror is still a sought after antique.

Education was a huge part of Samuel Scottron’s life, both his own and for the development of the black community. Once out of his father’s control he was free to pursue his academic ambitions. At night, when he wasn’t developing multiple business’ and equality campaigns, he studied under a pattern maker and master mechanic, going on to obtain a degree in 1878 from Cooper Union in ‘Superior Ability in Algebra’. He also belonged to the Brooklyn academy of sciences.

Scottron had a keen eye for trends, which lead him to leaving the mirror industry and finding work with a firm manufacturing cornices. In 1880 he invented an extending cornice, earning himself thousands of dollars in the process. But alas, it wasn’t long before cornices started losing popularity, so he put his cornice inventions out on royalties and lived off these until he got a footing in the curtain pole trade.

Before long he was picked up as a manager and salesman. It was at this point that he filed the first ever patent for a curtain rod (wooooooo!) he also invented pole brackets and pole tips! He spent 15 years with this firm travelling all over the US and Canada selling his inventions and products. He is, without a doubt, one of the major contributors to our modern window dressings.

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During this 15 year period he was still an extremely active member of the black equality movement. In 1879 was he was made secretary general of the masons which is a monumental achievement. He also co-founded another equality group in 1884; the Society of the Sons, a group comprised solely of black people born and raised in New York.

But, his most commendable achievement, aside from inventing curtain poles, is probably his work on education. In 1894 he was elected to the Brooklyn Board of Education. He was originally appointed by Mayor Charles A. Schieren, he was reappointed by Mayor F. W. Wurster and again by Mayor Van Wyck. All in all, he served on the board for 8 years. During this time, serving as the boards only black member, he disbanded 4 out of 5 segregated black-only schools, and got the pupils and staff distributed into non-segregated academies.

All that and he was Lena Horne’s granddad too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Antique Style Mood Board

Antique Style Mood Board

Are you a fan of all things vintage? Do you adore the kitsch yet classic interior styles of the 1940s and ’50s? If so, the Poles Direct Antique Style Mood Board is the perfect starting point for you. If you want to create a beautiful, nostalgic space within your own, opt for interesting accessories like this vintage style clock and traditional steamer trunk. Don’t forget to add antique-inspired light fixtures, such as this stunning double glass pendant, and hunt down vintage print soft furnishings like this Parisian cushion. When it comes to the colour scheme, neutral backdrops are the way to go – cream, grey and beige are perfect for the antique look, but don’t be afraid to add some vibrancy with pale blue or rich red. For the window dressing, our very own Antique Brass Glass Pumpkin Finial pole is the perfect choice, especially when teamed with a sumptuous curtain fabric like the Prestigious Simian Antique from Custom Curtains.

Are you inspired to create your very own antique style space? Tweet us @InteriorGoods to let us know!

Heavy metal: why we love metal curtain poles

Metal curtain poles

Here at Poles Direct we offer a huge range of curtain poles and accessories, from classic wooden and wrought iron to finials, rings and holdbacks. This large collection makes it difficult to settle on our ‘favourite’, but we know that metal curtain poles are high up on the list.

Metal curtain rods offer both fashion and function, and are arguably the most versatile of poles. Sturdy enough to support the heaviest of curtains yet lightweight and easy to install, they are a simple, effective option that also looks super stylish! We offer a wide range of metal poles including stainless steel, polished graphite and nickel, along with bright white, dramatic black and luxurious gold shades.

This selection ensures that you can discover the perfect curtain pole to suit your home. Whether you prefer neutral, minimalistic spaces or bright, bold interior design, a metal curtain pole is the ideal solution to display and support your chosen curtains.

Will you be purchasing a metal curtain pole from Poles Direct? Tweet us @InteriorGoods and let us know!

Blog of The Month: Let’s Do Something Crafty

We’re back with our blog of the month. In case you haven’t seen our feature before, each month we profile one of our favourite DIY & craft bloggers right here on our blog. We take inspiration from these people every day so we think it’s only right to celebrate what they’re up to. This month we’re looking at Let’s Do Something Crafty, which is run by mum of two, Jess. Jess is an award winning blogger with her blog Along Came Cherry. This new blog is a platform for her to focus on the crafts she does with her daughter Cherry. Let’s find out more…

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What motivated you to start ‘Let’s Do Something Crafty?’
I found that I was really enjoying craft projects with my little girl so decided to start somewhere to keep a record of all the things we make.

Who inspires you?
My kids inspire me a lot as I like making things they can play with. Quite a lot of the time ideas pop into my head in the morning when I’m still half asleep, I wake up and want to go and put the ideas into practice.

Which project are you most proud of?
Probably my egg box camera – I love anything camera themed and when I got the idea I was so excited to make it.

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Do you think it’s important to recycle materials for your crafts?

Yes, I love using things that we would otherwise throw away for my crafts. Cardboard is my favourite thing to craft with.

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Which project has been the most popular with your children?
My little girl loves the DIY binoculars we made together. She quite frequently brings them out with us to look for birds.

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Why do you think crafting is important for kids?
I think it can be a really great way to express themselves and let their imagination go wild. I think all kids are different though and some might not enjoy doing crafty things at all, although luckily there are so many different things to do that I’m sure there is a craft for everyone. I think it’s important to let them use their own ideas too, sometimes it’s hard when my little girl wants to sprinkle a whole pot of glitter on something but she loves it so I have to keep quiet!

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A DIY Christmas

Poles Direct Infographic

 

Find out how to make Moral Fibres’ DIY Snowglobe here.

Find out how to make Claireabelle Makes’ No Sew Christmas Wreath here.

Find out how to make The Curators Collection’s Paper Baubles here.

Find out how to make Look What I Made’s Winter Lantern Jar here.

Find out how to make Miss Mamo’s World’s Christmas Star Tree decorations here.

 

Blog of the Month: 101 things to do with kids

To celebrate the inspiration and creativity out there in the blogosphere, each month at Poles Direct we are sharing one of our favourite blogs. We hope the series will leave you with endless ideas for bringing crafts and DIY into your own home. You may remember November’s blog of the month with gorgeous crafts and a behind the scenes interview and this month we are excited to introduce another fantastic blog.

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101thingstodowithkids is run by Lindsey, a busy 30-something year old married mum of 2 who makes sure that she always finds time and ways to get her kids crafting. Lindsey’s blog is filled with ideas of fun activities for kids, including arts and crafts, child-friendly recipes, indoor and outdoor games, and great places for families to visit. The easy-to-follow tutorials are designed to help motivate the least artistic, creative or energetic parent to get crafty with their kids.

What motivated you to start your blog?

I started my blog back in April of this year. The idea behind the blog was to show other friends, and fellow parents, the activities that I have done together with my family, in the hope that they would be inspired to do similar activities with their families. I am the least creative or artistic person that I know, so if I can do it, then anyone can give it a go! I also hoped that it would help me to become a better parent, by spending more time, properly focusing on my family, instead of just meandering through parenthood.

Who inspires you?

I think that the person who has inspired me the most, would have to be my mum. She was so creative and always had a project on the go. She made some beautiful handmade cards, as well as turning her hand to knitting, sewing, making dollhouses and so much more. She was such a wonderful granny to my daughter when she was a baby, always trying to engage with her and I hope that she would be proud of me and what we are doing with 101thingstodowithkids.

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Which project are you most proud of?

The project that I am most proud of, that I did myself, would have to be my hallway and in particular the up-cycled pine chest that I turned into a bench seat. It was not, by any means, perfect, but I enjoyed doing it and I think that it looks great, in a shabby chic/French way!

My favourite project completed with the assistance of the children would probably be a handmade tepee we made using a plain white tablecloth and potato printing a simple pattern onto it. We tied it around some bamboo canes and voila!

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Which craft project has been the most popular with your children?

My children love painting, and some of the fab ideas that I have come across and tried out with them, have really inspired them. They loved painting with marbles, and footprint painting, but perhaps their favourite activity was creating these canvas prints using a potato masher and bubble wrap. It was fun and looks great on the wall!

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Why do you think crafting is important for kids?

I think crafting is really important for children for so many reasons. Firstly, it gives you a chance, in these modern times, to turn off the TV and spend some time creating wonderful pieces of work together with them. It helps to inspire and develop their minds, and encourages them to have a go and be creative! As well as this, it also helps to develop their motor skills and co-ordination. And well, it’s just fun!

What would your top tip be to any rookie DIY’ers?

Give it a go! Some things work and some things don’t but you are probably more capable than you think you are. Also take your time for a better finish. I have always been a bit hasty, and never paid attention to the old adage “more speed, less haste”

You can keep up to date with all the Lindsey’s projects on the 101thingstodowithkids blog.

Come back next month for our latest DIY Blog of the Month!

Want to see your blog featured here? Contact us if you would like to be considered for January’s Blog of the Month!

Blog of The Month: Eight and Sixteen

At Poles Direct we’re passionate about homes and interiors and love discovering new ideas. The DIY and craft projects published online every day are a great source of inspiration for anyone looking to add a personal touch to their home. To celebrate this blogging community we will be running a monthly feature where we promote our favourite craft and DIY bloggers alongside an interview with the people behind the projects.poles9

Our first post features Eight and Sixteen, a British DIY and craft blog run by kindred craft spirits Erin and Skye. Both ladies have their own personal blogs but joined forces to create weekly craft and recipe posts and encourage their readers to join in too. We spoke to them about their fantastic blog…

 

What motivates you?

Skye: For me, DIY is a huge part of my life, to the point where I’d say it’s totally a part of who I am! I’m motivated by ethical reasons; I want to spend less on mass produced products which often leads to DIY’ing. If I can’t buy something second hand, then I DIY – or as is often the case I buy something second hand and then DIY it to suit me! I’m also motivated by the challenge; I get such a thrill being able to make something and know that it’s unique. There is something immensely satisfying in creating something for yourself or for others, and knowing exactly what has gone into it.

Erin: Creating and crafting is something that I’ve always done – I love learning new crafts and figuring out how to create my own unique versions of things. Blogging has been a huge motivation for me as after starting to write tutorials back in 2012 I now find it difficult to imagine not crafting and sharing the things I make! The idea that someone might stumble upon an online tutorial and that it could lead to them discovering a love of DIY is also really motivating; it’s such a compliment when a reader creates their own version of your project!poles 7

Who inspires you?

Skye: Erin, of course! Having such a great friend and partner to bounce ideas around with is so important! Being a long distance team can be really hard, but sometimes I read back through our emails and can’t help but giggle as to how they must read; to me it’s amazing being able to talk to someone who is on the same level as you, even if you’re talking crafty jibberish!

Erin: Like Skye, one of my biggest inspirations has to be other bloggers (Skye included of course!). There’s a huge community of amazing crafters out there all with unique ideas to share.

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What project are you most proud of?

Skye: This is such a tough question! As a creative person I know that I will always look at my work and see the imperfections which makes it even harder. The first quilt I made will always be really special to me – there are a lot of mistakes, but it was such a learning curve and was such an amazing project to work on. My favourite e&s project to date is a toss up between my Film & TV Quote banners and my Ping Pong Ball Pumpkin Lights. The former because I think it’s a really fun way to make personalised gifts, and the latter because it’s a great upcycling project that can be customised to suit any occasion.

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Erin: Out of the makes I’ve shared so far on Eight & Sixteen I’d have to say the Cobweb Coasters I created for Halloween. They were my first ever completed quilting project so I was proud to be able to share them having learnt a whole new craft to do so.

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What has been your biggest project?

Skye: I’m afraid I’m gonna have to say my quilt again! On and off it took almost a year for me to make from start to finish, so it’s definitely the most long term project I’ve ever worked on.poles 3

Erin: This is a difficult one for me, I’d love to be able to say my first quilt as it’s the biggest project I’ve taken on to date but it’s still a work in progress! Earlier in the year I made a cushion for one of my friends which was designed to look like a classic Cluedo board. As I had to combine a variety of techniques to achieve the final design it was definitely one of my bigger projects.

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Which tool do you always have at hand?

Skye: Oh, definitely FriXion pens! I have about a dozen strewn around my desk and I can’t sing their praises enough.

Erin: I’d have to agree with Skye on this one – FriXion pens are a firm favourite for both of us! As a lot of the projects I share online are jewellery/accessories I’d also say jewellery pliers are an essential! They’re a really inexpensive tool but are handy for so many basic jewellery techniques and really expand the possibilities of what you can create.

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What would your top tip be to any rookie DIY’ers?

Skye: Never be afraid to get stuck in! It sounds corny, but it really is true. Sometimes you might try a project and it just won’t work out, but that doesn’t matter. You’ll learn something new, and for me that’s the best part. Also, be patient! I’m notoriously bad for rushing through DIY projects, but in pretty much every case, it’s ten times better if you take your time.

Erin: If you want to try a particular project just go for it! And don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work out, even regular DIY-ers experience craft fails, it’s all part of the learning process. I’d also say don’t let a lack of space put you off! I’ve been guilty of this myself in the past but there are plenty of awesome DIYs and crafts you can do even with limited space.

You can keep up to date with all the latest work on Erin and Skye’s blog Eight and Sixteen.

Erin’s personal blog ‘E-Elise etc.’ and, and Skye’s blog ‘Even Artichokes Have Hearts‘ can be found on the links provided.

Come back next month for our next DIY Blog of the Month!