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.

Christmas 2014 decorating trends

I am sorry. So very sorry. The autumn term has not even begun and I have been and gone and mentioned Christmas. My children are already adding items to their mental Christmas lists every time we venture near any shop but for the rest of us, I know it is a long way off. Nevertheless, it has become a Paint chart joy tradition to make Christmas decorating trend predictions (particularly as I didn’t make a fool of myself last year after all). So – brace yourself – here it is:

Old school

You know how you’d dress a Christmas film set if you wanted it to appear timeless? Wreaths, decorations in simple fabrics and twinkly lights. As far as anyone still alive can remember, it was never in or out of fashion.


For a more modern take on Christmas decorations, I think we’ll see a lot of chevrons, stripes and other bold, geometric patterns in the shops this Christmas.

Stripes, chevrons and spots washi tape Christmas//Photograph via Chickydoodle


Remember the strange assortment of inherited decorations in weird and wonderful shapes and colours you used to wince at each year when your parents retrieved them from the cupboard? Well, now it’s cool. Honestly. Dust down your fluted baubles, hang those honeycomb paper bells and display the knitted snowmen. Or visit your local charity shop.

Modern Scandi

This year, I think we’ll see the Scandinavian style given an update with the addition of black or grey to the traditional red and white.

Modern Scandinavian red, white and grey Christmas//Photograph via Lushome

So how will you be decorating your home? I would love to know. Nearer the time, of course…



5 easy home decorating ideas for the long weekend

Want to feather your nest ready for autumn but still want to enjoy the last of the summer sunshine? Here are some suggestions for the long weekend that will leave you plenty of time to do other things…

Small mantelpiece display with flowers, vases and candle

1. Enjoy what you already have

You don’t need to spend money or agonize over decor decisions to change how you feel about your home environment. Why not show your house some love by re-ordering kitchen storage, making a seasonal display, rearranging your books or displaying some hand-picked greenery?

2. Do that job that’s waiting to be done

I’m always surprised how a room can evolve by actually doing that thing you’ve been meaning to do for ages but haven’t done because you need to use a drill/ make a picture mount/ measure. It may feel like it’s too much effort now but it’s great when you have those hooks/ mirror/ children’s artwork display up.

3. Paint something

Anything! Be it a shed, an old bed or a junk shop letter rack.


Painted blue shed

4. Make something

I have been pondering the importance of making and creating things of late (more of this to come, no doubt!) and this is what I hope for my bank holiday weekend; to perhaps dig out the silk scarves that were the subject of my very first post to make a cushion or to use the kilner jars my husband bought me as an anniversary gift to preserve the elderberries that my children picked today.

5. Visit your local charity shops, antique shops or reclamation yard

If you’re local to me, I can recommend The end of the world reclaimed centre, Returned to Glory, Swan Antiques and flea market and The Old Flight House. If not, I can thoroughly recommend charity shops as a great place to find interesting and affordable furniture. You may find something as lovely as my dressing table!

1950s retro dressing table


Charity shop upholstery project

Charity shop mid-century nursing chair with Donna Wilson cushion

A trip to my favourite local charity shop this weekend left me hauling this little mid-century nursing chair down the high street. It is currently covered in a pale green velour that is in a decent enough condition to use for the time being. Plus, everything looks good when you put a Donna Wilson cushion on it.

However, I’m hoping it will not stay like this for too long as I will start my upholstery training in just over two weeks. I’m going to be learning at Wendy Shorter Interiors and I’m excited about the future possibilities it will bring. Hold on tight for tacks, trimmings and twine!

Autumn’s coming

The brambles in our garden are already thick with blackberries and, despite Mr Paint chart joy’s denials (verbal and sartorial), the start of autumn is all but here. To celebrate, here are some of my current autumn inspirations.





What I want my desk to look like (and what it does look like)

After writing earlier this year about a place to call my work despite being a stay-at-home mum, I have finally got round to trying to make a workspace at home.

This is what I said I wanted it to look like:

Work space with old desk, lamp, windows and comfortable chair//Photograph by Hus & Hem

And this is what it does look like:

Work space chair cushions

Hmmm… Perhaps it has a little way to go…

From the list I put together last time, I think I still need somewhere to see my ideas in progress. And it’s looking increasingly likely that I’m going to be needing more of a workshop space in the future. I’ll keep you posted.

Easy contemporary art to do with children (that you might even want to display)

Having spent an afternoon with my daughter soaking and painting tissues, my mum drew upon her creative reservoir to produce this fun activity for us (including my two preschoolers) to do. They look so good I have just put them up on my wall!

Easy contemporary art brusho

A word of warning before you try to do this at home; it is incredibly, finger-stainingly messy and all the more fun because of it.

1. Soak some watercolour paper in water
2. Gently blot them
3. Sprinkle pure powdered pigment (we used Brusho) over the wet paper
4. Watch the colours spread
5. Leave to dry
6. Frame, hang and enjoy!

powdered paint art framed with g plan chair


Inking up

Today I finished my first attempts at silk screen printing at a great local studio, Bodenpress. The very knowledgeable and patient Helen Boden talked me through all the processes and it definitely got parts of my brain working that I haven’t used in a while!

Here’s a quick snap of the finished result.

Silk screen print of girl climbing a fir cone by Joanne Mass

So will I be following in my mum’s footsteps and inking up on a more regular basis? I could definitely be persuaded. After all, there are so many different types of printing to try!

A big bed for my little boy

My two-and-a-half-year-old and I hang out a lot and I love his crazy hair, boundless confidence and big heart. But it turns out he is not so little any more. His ‘new big bed’ campaign has been running for at least a month now and, as he is able to easily touch both ends of his current cot-bed and he has said goodbye to nappies, I have given in to his demands. This now means I actually have to do something about his room instead of just writing about it (here and here).

Having braved Ikea with both children yesterday, we now have a brand new bed that we need to assemble (although I think I accidentally bought the wrong one!) and he has chosen some new bed linen. Is it ironic that after all my reservations about pink for my daughter’s room, my son’s new duvet cover has pink in it?

Ikea dvala stripey duvet cover and pillow case//Photograph via Ikea

I need to take some inspiration from these colours to give the room some curtains that actually fit and give it some of his strong-minded and bold personality. I need to get making…