Author Archives: annabelvita

Hip hip hooray!

House of Vita is officially back online!

Living_room

In celebration I thought I’d show you a janked up panorama photo of our living room, taken with the iphone 4s and the autostitch app (love that thing). Everything is skewed and weird, but I hope you get a sense of the amazing scale and light of this room. The white shelves in the top right are temporary – that’s where my secretary desk is headed. I didn’t tidy for this photo, so excuse the clothes hanger on the table and all the other junk. We still have a lot to do but this space is already feeling like home.

Things we love about this room:

Fantastic windows! 11 foot high ceilings! Massive kivik sofa. Red ikea locker cabinet. Hand me down table and chairs. The shutters. Our one lace curtain. Old anglepoise lamp. Art on the walls. Charity shop granny square blanket. How our bookcase happens to fit perfectly in the window nook.

Things we want to change about this room:

More art on the walls. Hang the clock somewhere . More pillows on the sofas. Have more than one lace curtain up! Put my secretary desk in that nook. Finish up my little filing cabinet properly. Put away the boxes behind the sofa. Add one piece of storage for kitchen overflow items.

Although we now have the real internet, my real camera is still at my friends house. Never fear, the iphone is pretty good when the light is pretty so I’ll get some more detail shots of some nice things in this room (and things you can’t see from this angle) and blog about them this week.

 

 

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These are a few of my favourite things

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Top shelf: Mr V’s Buddhas; the carriage clock his parents gave us when we got engaged (did you know this was a tradition? I didn’t); a teeny vintage suitcase my mum bought me in a French brocante; a little wooden box we bought on our first camping trip. Bottom shelf: my engagement sewing box (I wonder how many people have one of them? It still has the note and ring box in it); a serving bowl I bought in a charity shop.

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A sunny spot in the new flat; an old angelpoise lamp; my grandmother’s kitchen table; some old school chairs mum bought in Holland in the sixties; lilies and daffodils; some stunning china mr v gave me recently (more on this soon!); my framed canvas tote; our oversized date and time clock; a cork board full of pictures. 

Everything is still in flux (uh, the clock isnt staying on the radiator! I’m not too fond of the stack of boxes bottom right) but these are some things making me happy right here and now.

Happy weekend blog friends!

Our old flat

I thought now that we’ve left London I could share a few more details about where we used to live.

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I loved our little London flat. Everyone else thought it too teeny for two but Mr V and I found it the most wonderful cosy nest for our first flat together (we’d shared a single room in a shared house for six months after all).

Our flat was a strange sort of fill in extension between two Victorian mansions in Putney, near the Thames. It was the windows that sold us on the flat and they were always my favourite thing about it (catch them in action here and here).

We had four of those windows that you can see in this picture. Sure, our flat wasn’t as fancy as the ones in the old mansions themselves, but as soon as we walked in to view it we got the feeling. We fell in love with our flat hard, and even though leaving was the right thing to do and it was the right time and we had a titchy bit of a damp/mould problem caused by all those windows, we still loved it when we left. I got all defensive on its behalf when the landlord struggled to find new tenants. Who wouldn’t want our lovely flat?

Here is a picture of one of the mansions from when the founder of Jaeger (with the dashing hat and beard) lived there with his family a long long time ago.

Lewis Tomalin (founder of Jaeger) and family at 20 Cambalt Road, Putney, c. 1895

I hope they were as happy there as we were.

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Kooktouw for everyone!

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Remember when I wrote about finding bakers twine in the most amazing hardware shop we found during my Dutch holiday with Mr V?

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Well! Imagine how happy I was to get an email from Bernadette, the owner of the store. She thanked me for writing about her shop, pointed me in the direction of some great pictures of it and said my post had inspired her to start selling bakers twine (kooktouw) on their online shop.

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She said they post to the UK and over 60 other countries so if you need a bulk order of the stripey stuff at just € 2,25 a roll, head on over to her website (use a bit of google translate or email info@ouderwetsewinkel.nl – their English is excellent) (of course).

Of course, if you buy it online you’ll be missing out on this real treat of a shop. If you’re ever in Holland and anywhere near Alkmaar, be sure to pop in for a visit. The floor to ceiling cubbies full of household goods and clogs will make your heart happy. Also make sure to check out the bike shop across the road, it’s a cyclists dream and has the same totally charming feel.

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PS. Check out the amazing vintage till! I saved my hand written till receipt as a souvenir from our trip, I love it.

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All images taken from J. Boom’s Google places page or webshop

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Make a fabric party hat in under a minute

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Ok, so there are other blogs out there where you can go for your perfect Martha-Stewart style crafts. I’m more of a I’m-already-five-minutes-late-when-inspiration-strikes kinda crafter. The sort you don’t feel in the least bit intimidated by, in other words (mainly because anything I make always looks a little like your average eight year old could have done better).

Anyway. The other day I was putting together a birthday parcel for my mum. As I was digging around in my wrapping drawer I found a bunch of ugly but fun party hats and some fabric I’d been saving (actually the cut off legs of a pair of pyjamas that had sadly died). Even though, as I said, I was already late, I thought I’d use the two to make my mum a unique little birthday hat to put on her cute head.

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Here’s where we started. If you don’t have an old hat, I think the best template is here on oh happy day. (Whilst there, you can see the sort of beautiful hats you can make if you put a bit more time and effort in.)

The rest is so easy you’ve probably already worked it out, but just in case.

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I lined up the already hemmed edge of the fabric (the bottom of the trouser leg) along the bottom of the party hat with a couple of centimetres overhang, then pulled it taut to the tip of the hat. (If you’re using unhemmed fabric it would also be fine, I just put my hem where it made most sense as I already had it)

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Tape along that line with tape.

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Line around the inside of the hat with double sided tape and rip off the liner bit of the tape. (Mine’s dirty from something in the junk drawer… luckily that was the bit that got pulled off!)

The next bit required two hands so there’s no pictures. But you need to stick the bottom of the fabric to that double sided tape. Then trim the fabric just past the point where the two ends meet (you want a bit to cover the masking tape.

Then I swept the excess height of the fabric up and around the cone (I was going for a princessy vibe!) and tied it in a bow.

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Is it perfect? No. Would it make you smile if you received it in the post on your birthday? I reckon.

I’ll be back tomorrow or later in the week with more details with the rest of the party-in-a-parcel I sent my mum.

Here’s the finished party in a parcel!

Bakers twine and booties

So, it happened. I finally got my hands on some bakers twine. I’ve been refusing to spend more than, say, twice as much as I would spend on a normal ball of string on the stuff. (Seriously, Anthropologie, £15/$30 on a bit of string?) but at the same time just really wanting it.

So you can imagine my joy when I found it cheaper than normal string in Holland.

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I forgot my camera this day so that blurry blackberry picture is the only one I have of the totally amazing shop where I procured this string for a mere €2.60 per roll. It had all manner of amazing household goods (and clogs…) piled high in wooden cubbies. And bakers twine at a price so cheap that when I asked Mr V what colour I should get, he said: “All three.” Yay!

I also found these truly scrumptious knitted booties in Amsterdam. It was love at first sight.

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As luck would have it, two days after I got back from Holland, I was off to a baby shower for a dear friend in the West Country. So I bought those booties (for about €7) and put my bakers twine to good use when I got home.

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Hip hip hooray indeed!

Sneak preview: massive map in the bedroom

Hello lovelies, how was your weekend?

We had a lovely one. We went to the Natural History Museum, my favourite of all London museums (I think). We also went to the most amazing steam fair, it was so wonderful and there will be pictures of that too. Plus we watched some films, ate some good food and had a good cleaning session of the flat.

 

And, we hung the massive schoolroom map we bought in France last year. Better pictures to come, but for now, here’s a little sneaky preview.

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Ooooh!

How to turn a shopping bag into a nifty piece of art for your wall

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My friends and I (and now mr vitra!) go to the Hay literature festival every year and I love it. The Guardian used to sponsor it and sell papers with these beautiful free reusable shopping bags. I thought I’d celebrate my love of books, the festival and the Guardian in our flat by framing one of those bags and putting it on my wall.

Ready? Let’s go.

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This is so easy it’s not really a how to, but here you are any way. Assemble your bag and a very large Ribba frame from Ikea. At this stage you should probably iron your bag, but mine had never been used so wasn’t too crumpled and I kinda liked the way the slightly creased, slightly cream fabric made a contrast with the crisp white mount so I left it. If you do want yours to be super neat and flat, you could also cut the bag, but I decided to leave mine totally as it.

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Spend some time using the mount and the bit of liner paper working out exactly where you want the motif on your bag to go. You’ll notice mine didn’t quite fit and I had to cut off the grass and the logo, but I don’t think it matters. Stick your bag in place using masking tape. You want to stretch it a bit (like a canvas) so it stays nice and straight.

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Carefully put it into your frame and put the back on. I measured down each side and put the grippy bits that hold the picture wire in place first, so that it would hang straight.I put the handle out of the back because I figured it would keep it out of the way. You could sut the handles if you really want them out of the way.

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You’re done. Nice work.

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Now hang it and enjoy. Possibly open a beer. Relax.

 

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