Easy Christmas decorations: Plants

Easy Christmas decoration of plant with berries in pot

For the past couple of years, I have been ridiculously excited about decorating my house for Christmas; I have had a decorating scheme worked out from the first whiff of cold air in November. But this year? I’m just not feeling it yet.

However, when I spotted this strange-looking little plant on a market stall last weekend, a flicker of decorating possibilities entered my mind. And even Scrooge could probably bring himself to stick a plant in a pot.

My trip to South Carolina at Christmas may have forever tainted the traditional poinsettia plant for me (think oversized, bejewelled, knitted jumpers) but this berried beauty looks good to me. I even got out my box of Christmas trimmings (yes, I really do have one) in its wonky honour.

Easy Christmas decorations: How to make a sewn paper garland

sewn paper Christmas garland decoration

This is something I’ve been meaning to do for ages and – as it only took about 20 minutes to make – I’ll be making a lot more from now on!

You will need:

  • Circle craft punch and/or scissors
  • Paper
  • Sewing machine and thread
  • (Wine is only optional)

what you will need to make a sewn paper Christmas garland decoration

I dug out a bit of old wallpaper and cut out circles using a craft punch. I ended up punching out 46, which made a good-sized garland.

When using the punch, I found it much easier (and less wasteful) to always work from a straight edge so I used the scissors to cut away the holes and give me another straight line to work from.

how to make a sewn paper Christmas garland decoration

Holding two circles together (so both sides would show the pattern), I sewed down the middle. When I came to the end of one, I simply placed the next two and carried on.

If you used paper that looked good from both sides, or you wanted to show the back as a contrast to the front, you would obviously only need one circle.

Sewn paper Christmas garland decoration on mantelpiece

I’m really pleased with the end result (mostly because it was so easy) and would like to try it using two different patterns as the garland twists and turns. If you don’t have a punch (I got mine on ebay for about ten pounds) you can use hand-cut triangles, small rectangles or stars, like the ones below.

mrs polly ogers - star garland//Photograph via Mrs Polly Rogers

Art Deco seaside inspiration

Thanks to Mr Paint chart joy’s lovely boss, we are staying in a flat in this giant ode to Art Deco in St Leonard’s for a couple of days.

Marine Court is more than a little rough around the edges, having been neglected at the rough end of town for a long time, but it is old and interesting and more than a little bit mad. And I absolutely love it.

I mean, when you have to get to a flat using this lift, how could it not feel like you were travelling back – or up – in time?


Paint chart joy turns 2

Illustration number 2 by Paul Thurlby//Photograph via Paul Thurlby

Two years ago tomorrow I posted my first post here and it would be remiss of me to let the occasion pass without thanking you, my beautiful readers. Together we have seen fonts change, fashions pass and enjoyed a lot of good design and honest ramblings.

I remain genuinely surprised and delighted every time someone reads or comments about this project that started as an outlet for a slightly frustrated stay-at-home mum and has morphed and changed with me ever since.

To celebrate, here are some 2s:

2 trends that look as good now as they did then

2 things I made then and still use now

2 for the kids

2 ideas for small spaces

2 where interiors meet politics

Is antique furniture for people like me?

Chair upholstered by Sally Bell//Photograph of chair upholstered by Sally Bell via The London Chair Collective

As I plunge headlong into the wonderful world of upholstery, I have started to reassess how I feel about antiques.

I have always assumed that having ‘antique’ furniture in the house would  be synonymous with choosing to live cocooned in a bourgeois bubble. And as well as the politics of it, I have thought the aesthetic itself to be too concerned with its own status, too decorative and too, well, much. Now I was not quite stupid enough to lump all antiques together but whilst I happily broadcast my love for a retro side table or a charity shop bargain, I have always felt like auction houses and fine antiques were not for people like me.

Having been on the hunt for antique chairs to practice my traditional upholstery on, it’s all beginning to grow on me. It turns out that antique furniture is not half as expensive as I thought it might be and even paying someone (or me!) to reupholster it only brings it up to the same sort of price as a new piece. The dimensions of antiques tend to be a bit smaller than lots of modern furniture, particular chairs, leaving rooms looking more spacious. Plus reusing has got to be better for the planet.

And you might not be surprised to know that the past is all very current. The world of interiors are currently enjoying all things Victorian and people are increasingly choosing a mixture of old and new furniture for their houses.

If it’s not for you, great. But maybe antique furniture can be for people like us. What do you think?

Crafts, chairs and charity at Decorex 2014

Today I went to Decorex, an interior design exhibition, thrilled to bits as I clutched my ‘Joanne Mass – Upholsterer’ entrance badge. It was packed full of beautiful things and well-shod people. (I once read about how commenting on people’s shoes is a very English thing to do. Tut! Fancy making eye-contact!)

Here – just for you – are a few of my highlights.

I was sad to miss my fellow classmate Chris talking with Kit Kemp and Katy Emck about the brilliant Fine Cell Work and their stand was always too full of people to take a decent picture!

(I might do another trend-spotting post if that’s the sort of thing you’re in to. To be honest, I haven’t decided if I am or not.)

My toddler’s multi-coloured bedroom

I have been meaning to upload the photos of my son’s updated room for ages but here they finally are. We had recently painted the room white and wanted to update it without painting it a different colour so we used wall stickers, storage and new bedding to give it a bit more character.

The room used to have hastily cobbled together furniture and toys spread everywhere.


Before: toddler's multi-coloured bedroom makeover


I’m really pleased with how it looks; it’s not too fussy or themed but it feels calm, colourful and child-like. I forgot to take a photo of my charity-shop-bought rocking horse that sits proudly in the other corner so I’ll add it in a bit!

Back-to-school interiors inspiration

When I was a child, going back to school was a creeping fear in my stomach calmed only by the beauty of fresh notebooks and rows of colour-coded pens. Now it’s my children going to school, I feel pretty much the same.

Here’s my aesthetic attempt to organise and control my childrens’ impending move towards independence.


Consume less; create more

I have been thinking a lot recently about consuming less. Not so much trying to eat less (although less coffee and sugar would definitely be a good thing) but being less of a consumer – rethinking whether I really need what I buy and why I buy it. At the same time, I have been rediscovering my ability to create and I wonder more and more if they are opposites of each other.

Handmade tortoise toy from old shirt

Today I spent an hour making ‘Stripes’ the tortoise out of an old shirt with my 4-year-old. It has not left her side since. For her, an item’s value is not about cost but about worth. And I think she’s got it right.

Obviously I can’t make everything I need (or would like), even if I could make more. So what about when I do buy things? We’ve been persuaded by our friends at Wrapped in Newspaper that the food we choose to buy matters and love getting our locally-grown veg delivered. For interiors, this post by Fenton Art + Design makes a good case for buying home-grown products. The thought of paying sixty-four pounds for a cushion makes me feel as queasy as the next person but buying less, better quality and more local products seems like a good plan for individuals, communities and the planet.

So, like slow food, is the idea of slow design forging a path? I hope so.