6 reasons how having an interior designer can save you money

According to trend expert Li Edelkoort, our homes and the way we live in them are becoming increasingly important. The idea of the home as a haven away from the daily onslaught of modern life is more prominent than ever. We are more prone to entertaining at home and spending time at home than before. Most people feel that they are not able to afford a professional to help them make the most of their home. But what if I told you that a having a designer can save you money while creating a beautiful home environment?

All the pressures of beautiful homes in magazines, home tours on blogs and makeover shows on TV can make you feel that you lack in some way. Everyone has their strengths, and for an interior designer, that is being able to visualise a space and bring it to its full potential. Even if you do know how to put a colour scheme and textiles together and have a natural feel for the right layout, you can still benefit from having a trained eye assess your home.

tiny kitchen

Before we go into how an interior designer can save you money, let’s first look at how a designer charges you for their services.

 

Let me start by saying that there are no hard and fast rules on this. While every country’s interior design governing body gives guidelines on reasonable rates, it doesn’t mean that designers have to apply them. Some celebrity designers may charge a fortune only to go to a client’s house and give a few ideas, but not all designers have quite reached that level of fame yet.

 

 

Most designers will work in one of four ways:

  • Hourly rate

If the project is quite small and requires a few minor adjustments and some technical drawings, your designer might charge you an hourly rate. This can range from R400ph – R1,200ph or more, depending on their level of skill and availability.

  • Project fee

When there is little or no procurement involved in a project, your designer might suggest a project fee related to a fixed scope. This might be something like layout and services drawings and specs for your kitchen and bathroom, and overseeing the installation or project management. The designer will then quote a flat rate for the work to be done. There is no real guideline on how much this should be, but it is usually related to how much time they think they will need to spend on getting it done.

  • Percentage of Project Cost

If the project involves a lot of procurement, then your designer will likely propose a percentage fee for purchases. There can be a lot of back-and-forths when it comes to choosing curtains and upholstery fabrics, paint and finishes, which means a lot of time spent. The designer gets a discount on most purchases (see notes below) and will charge you either the retail price plus a handling fee or the discounted price plus a handling fee. The exact details of this can be discussed on appointment.

  • A Smorgas Board of all of these

As I said, there are no hard and fast rules! Many designers prefer a combination of all of these: an initial fee for concept and design, a project cost fee for procurement and project management, and an hourly rate for anything that falls outside of the original scope. It is best to be very clear with your designer when you start the project, and also to have a clear contract that stipulates everything that forms part of the project. A clearly defined scope and fee structure will help to protect you both.

 

So now that you know how a designer will charge, let’s look at how they can save you money!

 

 

1) A designer can help you to avoid costly mistakes

You know that sinking feeling when that GORGEOUS sofa in the showroom arrives at home, and it can’t fit through the door? Or that imported carpet is laid down in the living room and what you thought is soft coral is actually bright orange? There you go. Designers will help you to avoid that sinking feeling.

2) The Technical Details Get Taken Care of

A designer’s value is not only relevant to the furniture and its placement in a room. The correct electrical layout and plumbing positioning is also crucial in getting the most out of your home. A trained designer understands the technical jargon of the contractors on a job site. This makes them a valuable asset on your project. They will help you to think through the uses of the room to create the optimal layout for all components involved. That way you won’t have an extension cord to power a table lamp from the other side of the room!

grey paint

3) Discounted services and materials

Designers get what is called a designer’s discount. This is a special rate that most specialist retailers of homeware, fabric, and related services offer to designers as an incentive to specify them on their projects. The discounts can range from 5 – 50%, depending on the retailer. Some designers do open invoicing. This is where they charge the client their discounted rate, plus a handling fee of between 8 – 13%. I go into more detail on that below. Designers can also be registered as contractors with hardware stores, enabling them to purchase building materials at a reduced rate.

So, by paying someone to help you source goods for your home, you actually save money. Clever, isn’t it?!

 

room makeover

 

4) The Latest and the Greatest

This might not seem like a cost-saving, but designers are regularly invited to trade-only product launches and events. This allows them to be at the forefront of new advances and technology in their field. You will therefore not have something installed only to find a better version is about to render yours obsolete next month.

providence cottage

5) Time is – TOTALLY – money

Everyone wants more time and more money. The amount of time a designer can spend on a project is staggering. It can take days to put together a concept and a layout and do the detail design and technical drawings. Then they still have to find that perfect sofa, get the right fabrics, and try out different paint swatches. They also communicate with contractors and suppliers and spend their time with you to bring your vision to life. They are saving you the time that you would have spent doing all of that.

 

6) Pre-Qualified Contractors

A designer is only as good as their last project, so it is in their best interest to only use contractors, tradesmen, and artisans that they trust. By allowing them to use and manage their own list of professionals you are set up for a beautiful result.

summer christmas tree

I hope that this has shed some light on the myth that interior designers are expensive. Your home is an investment, and the right designer can help you create both a financial and lifestyle asset. Contact me here to find out more about our interior design services, whether for a single room or an entire home!

 

PS: the gorgeous feature image was taken at  Woodbender‘s new showroom in Strand. Just one of the many suppliers we LOVE to work with! g

How to Do The Tropical Trend for Grown-Ups

I love botanical prints and leafy greens – both on my plate and in my home. The tropical trend has been going for a while now, but I am a bit over the pink flamingoes, and banana-leaf scatters. That’s not all that this trend is about, however! Here’s my take on the Tropical Trend for Grown Ups, with a get-the-look shopping list and all!

Oversized with Velvety Coral

Kim Macumber Interiors via Cottage & Bungalow

This image screams gorgeous beaches and pina coladas! The large-scale wallpaper print is the hero of this room, with everything else carefully selected around it. The gold furniture and accents add a sophisticated touch to an otherwise light-hearted look, and the soft coral accessories contrast beautifully with the lush greenery.

PRO TIP: keep your floor finish in mind as well: sisal, coir and seagrass rugs add the perfect final touch to your tropical vibe.

Take It Literally

large leaves in vase on table

Turbulences Deco

Even if you have an otherwise minimalist or Scandi interior, add some large green leaves to celebrate the trend. Large banana and delicious monster leaves, as well as strelitzias, are on sale at most large retailers and florists now. So, even if you are not lucky enough to have them in the garden, you can still have them on the table. The amazing thing about leaves like these is that they last for months! Just make sure that you give them fresh water every week.

SIDE NOTE: see how the theme is subtly emphasised in the print on the wall? Clever, isn’t it!?

Go Blue

Decoholic

It may sound counterintuitive when you think of tropical green, but topaz offsets green stunningly! Use rich topaz paint on walls to support green prints, or in upholstery pieces and furniture. Topaz pops especially when set against white, so trim architectural features in white to get the most out of this colour.

Jotun

Another colour that gently mutes the deep green of the tropics is pale teal. This works especially well in a bedroom, creating a calming atmosphere conducive to rest and relaxation. Add subtle tropical touches with prints and plants, and keep the rest of the palette neutral with grey, olive and sandy colours.

Accessorize Boldly

Fashion for lunch

A tropical look is not only in printed flora; it is also represented by colour. Brilliant emerald green embodies the look, and should be used with reckless abandon! Create a statement with lush accessories in rich fabrics like velvet, set against a blank canvass. Choose gold accent pieces and keep the rest of the colours in the room to a minimum for maximum effect.

Get The Tropical Look With Some Local Shopping

SHOPPING TROPICAL LOOK FOR GROWN UPS

1. PARADISO RUG – HERTEX HAUS  //  2. SLUB TASSEL SCATTER – MRPHOME  //  3. OPEN WEAVE SEAGRASS BASKET – WEYLANDTS  //  4. HANGING ALOE KOKIDAMA – MRPHOME  //  5. INDIGI FRACTURE ARMCHAIR – ELEVEN PAST  //  6. VELVET PUNCH FABRIC IN BOLSHOI TURTLE – HOME FABRICS //  7. ALOHA IN MONSTER GREEN – GRALAN FABRICS  //  8. REGENCY VELVET CHAIR – MRHOME  //  ASHFORD TROPICS WALLPAPER – HERTEX

 

If you’re still unsure about how to put this look together for yourself, try our design service and let us do it for you!

Cheesy Flourless Fajitas with Guacamole & Salsa

You know those evenings when you realise that you forgot to take something out of the freezer to cook for supper, and then you remember that the microwave is broken so you can’t quickly defrost something? On nights like these, eggs are usually my go-to. But not all my boys enjoy this most versatile of foods as much as I do. So huge was my surprise when there were only empty plates left after this experiment! Avos are in season, and we had a lot of tomatoes in the fridge. So I decided to make cheesy egg tortillas with guacamole and fresh salsa. Quick, easy and packed with flavour! And it’s vegetarian without losing those all-important proteins!

flourless egg tortillas

Cheesy egg tortillas with guacamole and a fresh salsa

 

To serve 5, you will need for the tortillas

  • 10 eggs
  • 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

For the Guacamole (this is my own recipe, I can’t vouch for its authenticity!)

  • 2 ripe avos
  • a garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • a small green chilli, chopped (optional)
  • milk*

 

For the salsa

  • 2 large ripe tomatoes
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 small onion
  • A handful of fresh coriander
  • 1 red apple
  • Half a cucumber
  • 1 small green chilli, chopped (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider or balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

egg tortilla with cheese

To Cook the Tortillas:

Turn on the grill and prepare a baking tray.

The tortillas have to be made one by one. Whisk two of the eggs together, and season with salt and pepper. Heat a dash of oil in a pan, and add the egg mixture. Swirl the mixture in the pan like you would a pancake. Cook until you can easily lift the pancake, and then gently flip it over. Cook on the other side until golden brown. Once cooked, remove from the heat. Put a generous portion of cheese on the tortilla and fold in half, then in half again and place on the baking tray. Repeat until you have 5 or 6 folded, cheesy tortillas. Once you have finished making all the tortillas, place them under the grill until the cheese is oozing out.

 

To Make the Guacamole:

Place all the ingredients for the guacamole into a food processor and blend until smooth. *If it is very thick, I add a little bit of milk. That’s it!

For the Salsa:

Finely chop all the ingredients, and place in a bowl. Dress with the vinegar and oil. Taste your salsa! If it is very tart, you can break the acidity with half a teaspoon of sugar. If your tomatoes and apples are very ripe and sweet, this shouldn’t be necessary.

flourless tortilla, quacamole and salsa

Serve each tortilla with a dollop of guacamole and a spoonful of fresh salsa.

NOTE: this is the child-friendly-low-chilli version. To spice things up, add some more chillis to the salsa, and flavour the guacamole with Tabasco! 🔥🔥🔥

Happy Cooking!

 

 

A Quick Guide To DIY Wallpaper Installation

Wallpaper is not that big in South Africa, so when I first moved to England and saw it installed everywhere, I fell in love! Back home, however, supply and demand cause wallpaper to be super expensive, with most of the designs being imported. But on a recent trip to Builders Warehouse, I found a very cool geo pattern that I knew would transform our playroom! Installing wallpaper is actually very easy, you just have to have a bit of patience, and make sure that you measure carefully. Here’s our step-by-step guide to DIY wallpaper installation!

Click the video below to see how we did it in less than 1 minute! 😉

 

You will need:

  • Wallpaper (see below calculation for the quantity)
  • Wallpaper paste
  • Large brush
  • Cloth
  • Craft knife
  • You will also need:
  • Bucket and spoon
  • Large flat surface to prepare the paper

Wallpaper quantity calculation:

Take the width of the wall, and divide it by the width of the wallpaper. Round up to get the number of drops.

For the length of each drop, take the height of the wall and add the pattern repeat onto it. This will be the length of each drop.

Now, take the length of the roll of wallpaper and divide it by the length that you got in the previous calculation – round down the answer! This will give you the number of drops per roll.

Now go back to the number of drops that you need and divide that by the drops per roll to get the number of rolls.

EXAMPLE:

My wall is 3650mm width x 2800mm height. My wallpaper is 540mm wide x 10m long, with a pattern repeat of 460mm.

2550 ÷ 540 = 4.7, so I will need 5 drops.

2800mm (height) + 460mm (pattern repeat) = 3260mm length per drop.

10m (roll length) ÷ 3260mm (length per drop) = 3.06, so I can get 3 drops out of each roll.  

5 drops needed ÷ 3 drops per roll = 1.66, so 2 rolls

BEFORE YOU START:

Prepare the wall surface by removing any nails and brushing to remove dust.

 

STEP 1:

cut wallpaper

Cut the wallpaper to size, according to your calculations above.

 

STEP 2:

spirit level

Use a measuring tape and spirit level to create a line 500mm away from the wall or edge. Walls are not necessarily straight, so you always start with the second drop, never with the first!

 

STEP 3:

wallpaper paste

Prepare the wallpaper paste according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Then use the large brush to apply the paste to the back of the cut wallpaper drops, making sure that you get all the edges of the paper as well.

PRO TIP: fold the paper over on itself as you go. It won’t get stuck, promise! Fold the right edge all the way to the middle, and then fold the left edge all the way to the middle. Fold the sides toward the middle two more times, and then fold the 2 heaps with their backs against each other. This will make it really easy to just grab the top edge of the paper when you’re ready to install!

Let the paper soak for a while – this will help to prevent air bubbles from forming. Then paste 2 or 3 more drops before you start to install.

REMEMBER TO INSTALL THE SECOND DROP FROM THE EDGE FIRST.

STEP 4:

wallpaper installation

To install the paper, take the whole folded stack and climb onto your ladder (get someone to stabilise the ladder for you!). Once you’re in place, grab the top edge of the paper and let the rest drop. Then press the paper against the wall in line with the pencil line you drew in step 3. Give yourself some excess at the top; this will make lining up the next drop easier. Once this drop is in place, you can install the drop to the edge in the same manner.

 

STEP 5:

lining up wallpaper pattern

Keep installing the subsequent drops, taking care to line up patterns and keeping everything straight.

STEP 6:

wallpaper trim

Trip the top, bottom and sides with a craft knife. Be careful not to tear the paper – it is easier to do when the paper is not so wet!

wallpaper wipe down

Wipe away any excess glue with a damp cloth.

Happy Wallpapering!

 

Go Forage and make some Delicious Nasturtium Pesto

Every year when the rainy season arrives in the Cape, my garden is flooded with beautiful nasturtiums or kappertjies. I remember sucking on the flowers as a child to get the sweet nectar out, and I absolutely love capers. But I never knew that the leaves held so much goodness until my sister pointed out that they are edible! Nasturtium is a natural medicine used to treat UTI’s and lung afflictions like a cough and bronchitis. And as it turns out, the leaves also make a beautiful peppery pesto! I have always been reluctant to make pesto because I thought that you HAVE to put pine kernels in. As much as I enjoy pine kernels, I just can’t justify R1120/kg. But then I realised that any nuttiness could work, and I always have almond flour in the house. So here is my version of nasturtium pesto, and I can HIGHLY recommend it!

nasturtium pesto lemon capers

Here’s what you need to make Nasturtium Pesto

  • 2 cups of nasturtium leaves (just shove them loosely into a cup to get the quantity)
  • 1/2 cup of chopped-up stems
  • a handful of flat-leaf parsley (about 10g)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup of grapeseed oil*
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • rind and juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste

* I have recently discovered grapeseed oil, and much prefer the milder taste of it to stronger olive oil.

 

To Make:

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, and quickly blanch the leaves by cooking them for 10 seconds. Then remove them and place the leaves into a bowl filled with ice water. This softens the leaves. Once they’re cooled, you can drain the leaves.

Next, put the leaves, parsley, oil, and garlic into a blender and blend until smooth.

Use a fork to mix in the parmesan, stems, lemon juice, and lemon rind. Season to taste, and serve!

nasturtium pesto lemon capers cheese platter

Pesto is such a versatile condiment that can be used to flavour pasta dishes, as a rub on meat and as an accompaniment to cheese. I rubbed the leftover pesto on a chicken before grilling it in the oven and was amazing! Why not try our nasturtium pesto this weekend?!


This recipe was loosely based on Martha Stewart’s nasturtium pesto recipe. For the original, click here!

DIY Pretty Lace Cement Hanging Planters

We were doing some research on ways to display plants in your home, and when I saw some beautiful clay planters, I knew that I had to make something like it! I have also been a bit obsessed with lace lately, so naturally, I had to experiment. We never really know if the things we try here are going to work, and this project is one of those trail-and-error types of adventures. But I LOVE the result, and I am really excited to share it with you! Here’s how I made these gorgeous lace cement hanging planters.

echevaria and polkadot rug

Lace Cement Hanging Planters

lace planters materials

You will need:

  • ready-mix Cretestone or cement (the cement will give a harder finish, but I love the colour of the Cretestone!)
  • water according to the cement manufacturer’s instructions
  • plastic lace sheet (mine is a torn placemat, but I believe anything could work here – even really lace!)
  • plastic containers of various sizes
  • cooking oil
  • planting bags
  • paper cup to keep the inside hollow
  • Harlequin Cretesealer
  • Sisal Twine

* You can buy most of these supplies online at Builder’s Warehouse – except maybe for the paper cups and lace 😉

STEP 1:

cement mixing

Place the cement mix in a bucket and add the right amount of water. Stir the cement with a spoon, or with a paint mixer attachment to your drill – my new favourite accessory!

STEP 2:

planting bags in plastic containers

Put a planting bag inside a plastic container. Play around with different shapes and sizes! Then line the black planting bags with the lace.

STEP 3:

hand holding sponge in bucket

Wipe a generous amount of oil on everything – this will make removing the plastic much easier.

STEP 4:

tub with cretestone

Carefully pour the cement mix inside and push the paper cup down in the middle, putting a weight like a stone inside to keep it in place. Use clothes pegs to keep the lace in place.

Leave the mixture to dry for 24 hours and then carefully remove the plastic layers. For extra durability, place it in the oven overnight on 60ºC to dry and harden and finish with Harlequin Cretesealer.

STEP 6:

seedling tray cut up

Fill small pots with fresh potting soil and plants. You can use small pots or cut seedling trays as a pot inside the planter. Then string up with some twine!

hanging lace planter

hanging planter with succulent

Happy Planting!

Jamie Oliver’s Grilled Wild Mushroom Risotto with Basil

I have always been fond of rice, but when we moved to Asia, it pushed me over the edge! The rice aisle in any supermarket in Hong Kong look like our flour isle: the variety of flavours, brands and sizes is completely overwhelming! Proper Asian cooking has taught me the value of rice, so when I saw this deliciously creamy primi course in Jamie Oliver’s book Jamie’s Italy, I had to try it! According to Italy Magazine, rice was grown in Italy as early as the 13th century. Risotto Milanese is one of the most famous Italian rice dishes that, according to legend, was the result of a painter’s assistant adding saffron to rice sauteed in butter and cooked in a bone broth already in 1574. While the dish then disappeared from popular cooking until three centuries later, it has taken its place in the legendary Italian cooking with the first risotto dish named in recipe books the 1800’s. Here is the famous British chef’s take on the classic.

Jamie Oliver’s Grilled Roasted Mushroom Risotto with Parsley

You will need – for the basic risotto

  • 2 cups of risotto rice
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 or 5 sticks of celery
  • splash of oil and a knob of butter for frying
  • 1.1 litres of stock (chicken or veggie)
  • a large glass of dry white wine
  • 70g butter
  • 115g grated parmesan cheese

For the rest of the dish:

  • 200g wild mushroom, cleaned and torn
  • olive oil
  • Seas salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bulb of garlic, peeled and halved
  • a small bunch of fresh thyme, leaves picked
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • a small bunch of basil (the original recipe uses flat-leaf parsley, but I prefer basil)
  • 1 lemon
  • a generous helping of grated parmesan

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200ºC.

Heat the oil end butter in a large saucepan and slowly cook the onion, garlic and celery until soft.

Then add the rice and turn up the heat. Stir the rice so that it is coated with butter and oil. Add the wine, and keep stirring.

Now slowly add a spoonful of the stock while stirring. Once the first batch had been absorbed, add another. This is a slow process, but so rewarding! Once all the stock has been absorbed, the rice should be cooked. Taste the risotto and season to taste. It’s also important to test it to make sure that the rice is done (you can add more boiling water if it’s not yet cooked).

When the risotto is almost done, quickly fry the mushrooms in a hot pan with a splash of oil for about 2 minutes. Then place them in the preheated oven with the garlic, thyme and butter and roast them to develop the flavours.

Remove the risotto from the heat and gently stir in the butter and parmesan. According to Mr Oliver, it’s essential to let it rest with the lid on for a couple of minutes to give it that beautiful creamy texture. Once it’s ready, stir in the chopped parsley. Chop half of the mushrooms and roasted garlic, and stir into the risotto with a good squeeze of lemon juice.

To serve, place a generous helping of the risotto on a plate with some mushrooms on top. Sprinkle with parmesan.

mushroom risotto in metal plate

Bon Appetito!

The Ultimate Waterblommetjie Bredie with Pork and Baby Potato

Winter in the Boland brings with it two of my favourite things: arum lilies and waterblommetjies. The street vendors stand on the side of the road with arms full of the milky-white flowers and packets of freshly picked waterblommetjies. I always buy a few packets so that I can freeze them to use when the season is over. Thankfully, this year the harvest seems to be abundant!

When we first moved the region seven years ago, I could remember eating this delicacy only once before when we visited the Cape while living abroad. I probably had it as a child, but it clearly didn’t make as big an impression on me as it did as an adult. When I saw the street vendors with the little hardy flowers that first year, I immediately bought a packet and rushed home to ask our nanny, a local of the valley, how to prepare it.

Here’s Joelene’s answer:

Throw in a pot a bit of meat and onions. Then add spices like cloves and bay leaf or whatever you have in the house, and white pepper. Then add a cup of water and some potatoes, and once they’re cooked, add the waterblommetjies. Then slowly simmer until the flowers are tender. Oh, and surings! (Waterblommetjies love a bit of acidity, which is where these sour yellow flowers come in. You can read more about this super sour sorrel here.)

I have cooked waterblommetjies countless time over the years, and while this recipe is not necessarily the traditional way to cook it, it is certainly a delicious way!

cape waterblommetjies

 

WATERBLOMMETJIES are wild water flowers that grows in dams in the Western Cape during the winter. I have read that you can substitute it with green beans, but I think artichoke hearts are probably a better choice.

How to make Waterblommetjies with Pork and New Potatoes

You will need:

  • 500g waterblommetjies, rinsed (fresh is always better, otherwise get the preserved version from your deli)
  • 1kg of stewing pork
  • 2 onions, cut and diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2.5ml of fine cloves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • salt and white pepper to taste
  • 1 cup of dry white wine (sauvignon blanc works well – you can also substitute this with 100ml lemon juice mixed with 150ml water)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 500g new potatoes, peeled

* I use a slow cooker for this recipe, but you can also place it a heavy casserole dish or cast iron Dutch oven on the stovetop on a very low temperature. Check the liquid regularly to ensure it doesn’t become too dry.

waterblommetjies in slow cooker

Method:

PLace the onions, garlic, meat and spices in the pot. Then layer the potatoes on top and add the wine and water. Put the slow cooker on high and cook until the potatoes are tender (about 3 hours). Then add the waterblommetjies on top and cook for another 2 to 3 hours, until they are also tender. Try to resist stirring the pot as this will cause the waterblommetjies to break. Taste the liquid to see if it needs any more seasoning.

crusty sourdough bread

Serve in a deep dish with crusty sourdough bread to mop up the delicious juices.

Happy Eating!

Waterblommetjies in Enamel Bowl images courtesy of Shutterstock

How To Turn a Bookshelf and Finials Into A Storage Ottoman

I know – that’s not something you see every day! But when Continental Window Fashions asked me to make something with finials, I immediately thought that the cute shape of a pretty finial is perfect as feet for an ottoman. And well, the bookshelf was standing around doing nothing and waiting to be useful.

west elm essex ottoman

And when I saw this lovely little ottoman from West Elm, I knew exactly what I wanted to do!

ottoman and Chinese lady cushion

Here’s how to take an old bookshelf and turn it into an ottoman with finial feet.

ottoman materials

You Will Need:

An old bookshelf (for a sturdy ottoman, it’s best to use a bookshelf made out of solid wood and not chipboard)

  • 16mm thick chipboard, cut to the same size as the face of the bookshelf (this is for the ottoman lid)
  • 100mm medium density foam, cut to the same size as the face of the bookshelf
  • 22mm coverable buttons (we used 18)
  • Upholstery thread
  • Batting to cover the top and sides of the ottoman
  • Fabric of your choice (we used about 2.5m linen)
  • Thin cotton lining (we used 1m)
  • 4x curtain rod finials to use as feet. You can use regular wooden ball finials or go for more decorative Chaucer finials.
  • 4x  44mm x 44mm wooden corner blocks to support the feet
  • Wooden screws, filler, and touch-up paint.
  • 2x 40mm brass hinges

You will also need:

  • Staple gun and staples
  • Extra long upholstery needle
  • Electric drill with a variety of wood drill bits
  • 25mm hole saw bit

 

STEP 1:

foam template

Create a grid on both the foam and the chipboard lid. We made a 4 x 3 button, or you can create your own grid based on your ottoman’s dimensions. Then mark where the buttons will go.

 

STEP 2:

grid and drill

Use a 4mm drill bit to drill holes into the chipboard lid.

 

STEP 3:

foam grid drill holes

Next, use the hole saw bit to drill holes into the foam carefully.

 

STEP 4:

linen and batting and foam

Place the foam onto the chipboard, making sure that the holes line up. Then cover the foam with the wadding and lay over the fabric, taking care that the centre of the fabric is in the centre of the foam.

 

STEP 5:

how to cover buttons

Now you’re ready to start with the buttons! Cover the buttons with your chosen fabric – a button covering tool makes this really easy. The lid of a spray paint canister works perfectly as a template!

 

STEP 6:

how to do diamond buttoning

Thread 20” of upholstery thread through each button, and then use your extra long needle to thread the button through the fabric, wadding, foam and lid.

ottoman art nouveau book

PRO TIP:

Start from the central button and work your way outward, finishing with the buttons on the edges.

STEP 7:

thread and screw driver

Use a screwdriver to get a better grip on the thread at the back, and pull until you are happy with the depth of the button at the front. Then apply staples in a zig-zag way to secure the thread. Repeat until you have secured all the buttons.

 

STEP 8:

fabric and staple gun

Frist fix the wadding and then proceed to secure the fabric at the back of the lid. Make sure that you tuck the pleats as you go!

linen and staple gun

Take special care with the pleats around the corners to ensure that they are tight and even.

 

STEP 8:

 

chinese floral fabric

Add a lining to the inside of the lid to finish it off – we used a colourful floral for a fun twist!

STEP 9:

upholsery gun

 

Cover the sides of the base with a layer of wadding and fabric, and use your staple gun to secure it. Be sure to tuck the edges in on the top edge to finish it neatly.

cotton lining staple gun

For a professional touch, add a layer of lining to the bottom as well!

Chinese floral brass hinges

Then secure the lid to the base with the hinges.

STEP 10:

ottoman support blocks

To attach the legs, first add the support blocks on the inside of the base. Then drill holes big enough to take the dowel that’s attached to the finial.

finial leg

Add a drop of wood glue to the hole before you push in the finial.

open ottoman

Place some boxes inside and use it for storage!

ottoman storage boxes

Happy DIY-ing!

Warming Sweet Potato And Orange Soup with Sweet Potato Croutons

Many years ago, my sister gave me this utterly awesome soup recipe book by the New Covent Garden Food Company. When we lived in the UK, I loved their warming soup lunch meals – the perfect thing in a country cursed with perpetual cold weather! I have never tried this one before, but since I had a lot of sweet potato in the pantry and oranges are in season, I thought I’d test it. And oh my goodness! It’s delicious!! I adjusted the recipe a little because I am not particularly fond of bacon. I know, some people believe that there is something wrong with me! But this veggie version is beautiful and warming – just the thing we need with the icy weather. And it’s low carb, so it’s ideal for you Banters as well!

sweet potato soup and fresh oranges

How to make Sweet Potato and Orange Soup with Sweet Potato Croutons

 You Will Need:

  • 20g butter
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 500g peeled sweet potatoes (375g roughly chopped, and 125g cubed for the croutons)
  • 200g potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tbs freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 100ml vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 150ml milk
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • fresh coriander and double cream yoghurt for serving

Method for the soup:

Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan and cook the onions until soft.

Add the roughly chopped sweet potatoes and potatoes, stock, orange juice and ground coriander. Bring to the boil, and then simmer covered until the vegetables are soft (about 30 minutes).

 

Method for the sweet potato croutons:

While the soup is gently bubbling away, heat some oil in a saucepan and once it’s hot, add the cubed sweet potato. Once the cubes have turned a golden brown colour, remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towel. Keep an eye on the sweet potato – you don’t want it to get too dark!

Back to the soup! When the vegetables are cooked, allow the soup to cool a little. Then add the milk and puree with a blend stick.

sweet potato soup and fresh oranges

Serve the soup garnished with a dollop of yoghurt, the sweet potato croutons and freshly chopped coriander!

Enjoy!!

 

 

 

 

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