Thursday, 19 September 2013

Optimism and Vintage Seeking



It struck me recently that vintage fanciers are relentless optimists; each charity shop could conceal a pristine and worthy treasure, every flea market is rife with possibility and jumble sales are chaotic games of chance. We have all flicked our way through overcrowded racks of suspect garments or rifled determinedly in a box marked ‘50p’ just in case a treasure waits patiently unseen at the end of the trail. On coming up empty from a hunt we shrug our shoulders and reason that there have to be fruitless days in the name of balance and reason that we’ll have better luck next time out.

Treasure seeking is such a heady mix of possibility and stories that it is hard to resist - every find has had a life of it’s own before it comes to you and there lies so much of the appeal for me – endless promise.  The most mundane of objects could tell some of the most compelling histories; of themselves and of the hands they have passed through on their journey. Magpie tendencies can be troublesome - no matter how much space is on offer there are yet more curiosities to fill it with. Lately I have been slightly stricter with myself in what I buy; I’m a pushover and want to give a home to every orphaned teacup or woebegone book I see and can’t bear to think of them stuck on a shelf lonely and unloved, but that way hoarding lies! The funny thing is that less is more – a smidgeon of self-control is a beautiful thing – because now every treasure I decide to make my own feels more special for having passed the stringent ‘If I walk away from this will I regret it?’ test. I’m headed to Birmingham next week to one of my favourite hunting grounds for pretty old junk and I know I’ll relish every moment of the chase, I just hope that whatever I find will fit into my suitcase! 

Made.com just created a slightly tongue-in-cheek TV advert about how the makers of their furniture find the designs absolutely irresistible, they asked me to share it - and what I find irresistible - with my readers. If you've been dropping by Beautiful Clutter for a while you'll know I'm an incorrigible book fondler and page sniffer so the video struck a real chord with me, let me know what you think!


Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Before and After


When I moved in with my family temporarily back in April I unpacked relatively quickly and mostly had what I wanted where I wanted it within 24 hours, but there was a little corner that remained sparse and slightly unloved. The sloping ceiling creates a cosy nook that was just waiting for the right little bookcase to turn it into a reading corner. 

An email about this challenge hit my inbox and away I went putting together a very simple, happy-making space. Tester pots are your friends, they are super cheap and perfect for painting small things in need of a mini makeover, it only took a few moments to get my green on with the blackboard I found at a car boot sale and the little oval frame from a charity shop. It was slightly more difficult to find a chalk marker that worked so I could write a little message on said blackboard . . . but good things came to she who waited and I was third time lucky. On with the green theme and next came the very battered old tea plate in such a minty shade I couldn't leave it behind, the pattern in the middle had been worn away by years of use so I opted to turn it into a mirror with the aid of superglue and a little round mirror tile I found in a junk shop. A trip to a vintage fair turned up a 1950s pastel green teacup that put the biggest smile on my face and a slight dent in my purse. Some cat patterned green fabric made a sweet cover for an old cushion kicking around the house, a clutch of postcards from the antique shop in town wedged themselves prettily behind the doorframe and suddenly all that was missing was a shelf. Age UK saved the day with a window display (I went there with the rhyming) and luckily the bookcase was lighter to lug across town than I thought she would be. The hatbox underneath the white wicker chair was one I already owned and it found a new home hanging out in the reading corner. Done and dusted!

Ted the Border terrier just stopped in to say hello and ask for a bit of a fuss, but I think he likes the bookcase too. 

Monday, 22 July 2013

Amazon Giveaway


I hereby pledge to only steal lyrics from Right Said Fred this once; I'm deeply dippy (oh yes) about books. Secondhand lovelies especially with their comfortingly dusty aroma, sweet inscriptions and forgotten bookmarks yet a little parcel of brand new books is just as bewitching - they are crisp and unread with their own enticing scent - being the first to turn their pages feels brilliant to me.

So when Appliances Online asked whether I would like an Amazon voucher to give away to a lucky reader I was very enthusiastic! My Amazon wish lists (for I have several) are constantly growing and I know so many of you are just as fiendish about reading as I am, to be in with a chance of winning £40 in Amazon vouchers you can enter below! The giveaway is open to international readers and you have two weeks to enter, best of luck!


Thursday, 27 June 2013

Secret Histories


Photographs can be such a personal thing, each time I come away from my local antiques centre with a couple of old pictures I feel as though I've been let in on a secret somehow - that wherever the subjects ended up I hold a moment of their history in my hands. Curiosity means I tend to start decoding before I even get them home; how old does she look? What clues do her clothes give to the decade? What does her expression say about her? 

There is only so much to decipher by looking, the rest is a mystery, and that is where the beauty lies for me. I've always had an overactive imagination so I let it loose and see where it takes me; sometimes I'll invent elaborate family trees and a rich backstory other times a little summary of important points to note - prefers lemon curd to jam, likes to leave a trail of breadcrumbs for the ducks with the crust of her sandwich. Posed portraits are lovely to look at and I own quite a few but the exciting finds are images captured by accident. Rebecca caught my eye - the outtakes especially - her expressions make me think there is plenty going on beneath the surface and infinite possibilities as to her story. I found Grace, Katherine and Rebecca in the same box and I'd like to imagine they know one another - even if the decades don't quite match up!

It could be the Downton Abbey fan in me but images of life below stairs are some of my favourites, there is so much to surmise in the picture of the girls grouped around the table having tea and the coat hung on the back of the door feels spectre like - very ghost-at-the-feast. I'd love to know what you think the story is behind that scene!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Notebook Hoarding


The opening page of a fresh notebook is a heady mix of new stationery aroma and possibilities, I get caught up in the ceremony of putting pen to paper and setting the tone for any scribbles to follow, so much so that there are several notebooks in my stash yet to receive a maiden scrawl. I’m waiting for a worthy and perfect thought or idea to strike, you see.  The longer I wait, the bigger the expectation grows until eventually I feel as though even Shakespeare would be hard pushed to do justice in kicking off proceedings and therein lies the trap.  It is around this time that I’ll start crooning over other notebooks while out and about: cover fondling, page sniffing (I’ve become accustomed to the peculiar looks this earns me), flicking through pages and testing their weight in my hand.  After a suitable period of procrastination I’ll inevitably find myself lured into a stationers by necessity – paperclips, glue or pens are the main culprits – and instead be seduced by the siren song of notebook adventure.  When it comes to notebooks I am powerless against the rush, all self control exits stage left.
   
That isn’t to say I have dozens of them lying empty around my house, the great thing about being a notebook hoarder is that once you have a couple of newer editions the older crop start to look more accessible and before I know it I’m halfway through the ornate purple number with the cream lined pages and heavy magnetic clasp.  Gifted notebooks upset the cycle completely, instead of the need to be worthy of the first page I tend to write in them almost immediately with whatever is on my mind that day – these turn into journals or inspiration books, full of daily-life stuff and pictures torn from magazines of whatever makes my heart flutter.  Regardless of the rest there is always one constant slow-burner, a notebook with an added degree of special to me that I want to take my time filling and keep for life, this one was a gift from Tristan a few years ago and is all heavy marble-edged paper with a beautiful deep red leather binding. The smell is out of this world.
   
I once knew a person who had a dozen identical notebooks, one per year, filled at the rate of a page per day and shelved together when completed, from an interior design standpoint it looked good, but somehow it made me sad.  For me, part of the joy in having a little library of notebooks at my fingertips is the way I can grab whichever takes my fancy when I’m struck with inspiration while I can’t sleep at night, and the unpredictable journey each notebook takes – I’ll write pages upon pages of thoughts or stories - then my next entry could be weeks later about a recipe I’m experimenting with.  There’s a certain kind of magic about the rainbow of spines in a varied stack of notebooks too – all different sizes and textures and each with their own story to tell, which never turns out to be quite the plot you think it will at the beginning.  I like to pick and mix – some of mine are pastel and pretty, some are fabric covered and tactile whereas others wouldn’t look out of place in the Hogwarts library. 
   
Whatever your taste there will always be a notebook that fits and sometimes, the very special ones, find you.