Using color and texture to bring the inside out

We had our first taste of 80F+ weather here in Minnesota this week and it’s got me thinking about our deck and indoor / outdoor living. When our kitchen finally gets finished I want the deck off the kitchen to feel like an extension of this room. Now I’m about as un-green-fingered as they come, so don’t expect any plant maintenance tips in this post! But I can tell you what I’ve found out about bringing the inside out through color and texture. (Translation note: a garden is a backyard in British English.)

Tip 1: Keep a similar color theme inside and out

I think this is where we’ve been going wrong. Our house is dark brown outside and we’ve been accessorizing with burnt orange as it added a pop of color and tied in really nicely with the brown. But nothing inside our house is orange so it just makes the outside feel very different to the inside.

Our new kitchen will be warm grays, whites and natural wood. So to tie in the deck to this room we need to accessorize with neutrals to make it flow. I absolutely love this London garden by Claire Mee.

Leopoldina Haynes’ London garden by Claire Mee

The colors are beautifully neutral. She kept the paint on the wall neutral with Dulux Chalky Downs, and tied in the fabrics in a similar warm grey. Even the plants are neutral! Which is an important point to make. Don’t buy all your furniture and soft furnishings in your theme color then forget about planting colors (like I often do!) The plant colors should be part of the design, not just the flowers but the foliage too.

Tip 2: Don’t forget about plant color!

She used white and green flowering plants, such as hydrangeas and cyclamen, and plants with silvery foliage such as the olive trees in the back. She also used round buxus topiaries to add more green and also structure.

Leopoldina Haynes’ London garden by Claire Mee

Tip 3: Use fabrics to make an outdoor room cozy

Texture can also play a big part in bringing the inside out and making a cohesive space. The fabrics Claire Mee used in this modern country garden design are natural in cotton and linen and work well for this style.

Leopoldina Haynes’ London garden by Claire Mee

Usiing fabrics outdoors can also help make the space feel cozy and make it feel more like an outdoor room. Louise Jones’ garden below uses lots of soft furnishing and makes this space feel very welcoming.

Mediterranean garden by Louise Jones

Tip 4: Use other textures such as wicker

Claire Mee also used a lot of wicker, even the planters. I love these planters! They add so much texture and tie the warm grays into the design that little bit more.

Leopoldina Haynes’ London garden by Claire Mee

You could tie in the wicker by using wicker chairs around your dining table like this design did.

Wicker dining chairs add texture

I tried to take all these points into account when giving our balcony a make-over last year.

We were on a very tight budget so I actually reused plants out of the garden and planted them in some inexpensive resin wicker planters we bought from At Home. The loungers were from Wayfair for around $300. And the lanterns were from Pier 1.

I’m hoping to create a similar style on the lower deck this year. Using neutral colors, adding in some fabrics, and textures to create a cozy homely feel. Stay tuned for that one.

For now though, thanks for reading and I hope it was helpful. I’d love to see how you make your outdoor spaces feel more like home. Please share your tips and photos with me.

Jo @britflipper

TV Room Make-Over: Part 3

If this hadn’t have been Part Three of a series of blogs, I would’ve entitled this one “Peel and Stick Wallpaper – Divorce Material!” Neither me or my husband had ever hung wallpaper before. Friends had told me in the past how easy it is to do. Turns out, they were lying.

I’m the kind of person that has very little patience at the best of times, but coupled with an 8ft piece of sticky acrylic I had even less! I’m really pleased with the end result (minus the few imperfections), but my advice is: if you’re a beginner to wallpapering, quit whilst you’re ahead and pay a professional to install it.

There are lots of custom mural printers out there, just do a Google search. I chose Pictorem (based in Canada) because their website was easy to use, and their prices were very competitive. They were also really helpful when I emailed them about the photo specs and quality needed. Our mural cost just over $300 for a 12ft x 8ft wall, but I had quotes at over $1000. I was really happy with the quality of Pictorem’s product, so would recommend them.

If you are a seasoned decorator or really want to have a go at installing it yourself, here are the steps to follow; (if you don’t, then you can skip over this part):

  1. Make sure the wall is clean, perfectly smooth, free from any nails, lumps or bumps. The Pictorem mural is fairly thick and textured like canvas so is quite forgiving, but it will show up some imperfections.
  2. Lay out the rolls of wallpaper flat for a few hours before installing to make sure they’re flat when you go to install them.
  3. Measure the width of either the left or right hand roll, whichever you want to start with it doesn’t matter which side, and subtract 1″. Then draw a perfectly level line on the wall from the edge of the wall where you’re going to install the first piece. This will be the position where you line up your first piece of wallpaper to. It’s very important that you get this perfectly level (use a plumb line or a spirit level) otherwise all your wallpaper will be at a slight angle. The 1″ subtracted from the width allows for a 1″ overhang at the edge of the wall so you can cut it perfectly to size. Chances are your walls won’t be perfectly straight or 90 degrees so this helps to make sure your mural goes right to the edges.
  4. Start sticking the first piece of wallpaper from the top by peeling back about 4″ of the backing paper. Again have an inch or two overlap at the ceiling, so you can trim it perfectly to size. Make sure the length aligns to the plumb line that you drew on the wall though. This means the top may not look perfectly symmetrical to the ceiling as the walls and ceilings may not be at a perfect 90 degrees. But aligning to the plumb line will make sure the wallpaper is hanging perfectly straight.
  5.  When you have the first piece straight, continue peeling the backing paper off and rub the spatula over the top of the paper from the center outwards to remove any air bubbles. If you do get any stubborn air bubbles you can pop them with a pin, or just un-stick the paper a little to let the air out and try again.
  6. After you’ve got the first piece installed, you need to line up the next piece. If it’s the center piece like ours, we drew another plumb line in the same way as before but instead of a 1″ overlap, we drew it to a 1/2″ overlap, which is what the manufacturer recommends. The strips of wallpaper actually overlap each other, but it’s not that obvious when you look at it. The most important piece of this step is to make sure the pattern matches perfectly and that the strip is perfectly straight again. The mistake we made was that even though the top of the paper looked perfectly aligned, when we got nearer the bottom, we’d obviously not got the strip perfectly level as the design started to misalign. Very frustrating for a couple of perfectionists!
  7. You repeat this last step until all your pieces are installed. You should have an inch or so overlap at all edges. You then simply take a spirit level or other straight edge and a knife and cut them away, leaving you with a perfect finish. Or if like us, you messed up, so instead you cover the edges with a small piece of trim!

The result was worth all the hassle, but at the time I wasn’t so sure. It’s definitely a two person job, and ideally at times, even a three person. The strips of wallpaper are really wide which made it difficult to handle. I think if they had been smaller it would’ve been easier.

I’m glad we did it though, and not just repaired and painted the wall or even installed shiplap. It was cheaper than re-skimming the wall, but definitely more difficult than installing shiplap. But now we have something unique that no one else has, and it’s completely personalized.

As I mentioned in my last blog, this photo we used was by a friend in our neighborhood Tammy Brice of Tammy Brice Creative. I saw it one morning on Facebook after driving past the exact same scene and not having time to stop and take a photo as we were late for work or something (as usual). The scene was breathtaking. As a mild climate native, I’d never seen ice on branches like that before and remarked to my husband as we drove past it how magical it looked especially with the mist over the lake. To me it epitomizes the beauty of Minnesota and the beauty of the place we call home – North Oaks. We feel blessed every time we look out of the window. And for me, my favorite time of year is winter here, and scenes like this are the reason why.

I hope this blog has inspired you to customize your space with something personal to you. It’s so inexpensive and easy to do (if you pay a professional to install it that is!) And I think the result is definitely worth it.

Thanks to Tammy for capturing the beauty of our neighborhood and allowing me to admire it all year round.

What will you do? Post your comments and photos below. I’d love to see others inspired to install something beautiful and personal in their homes.

Stay tuned for the grand reveal in Part Four of this series.



6 tips for making your own hall tree for less than $200

As you know, I’m from the UK and this Christmas my parents came to visit us in Minnesota. My dad was originally a carpenter by trade, so what better way to spend a bit of father / daughter bonding time than to make our own hall tree!

I really loved the idea of making this unused alcove into a hall tree, as it’s the first place you pass as you walk in through the garage. It also makes the laundry room dual function as a boot room as well. Plus nothing says ‘country’ more than a hall tree to store your wellies and coats.

I’d looked at options of buying one from Joss & Main and other similar stores, they range from anywhere from $150 up to $1000+. The problem I found was that I couldn’t find one that fitted perfectly the space I had. Or one that had the exact storage I wanted – boot storage at the bottom and baskets at the top.

Here are a few options from Joss & Main:

Bridgeport Hall Tree, Joss & Main $1019.99

Erickson Hall Tree, Joss & Main $299.99

Sowards Hall Tree, Joss & Main $699.99

With all the materials our hall tree cost less than $200. So cheaper than most high street options. And because it’s custom built it fits floor to ceiling, wall to wall, which I think gives a much more high-end feel than a free-standing unit.

As you can see from this photo of the ‘before’ this alcove in the laundry room was in need of a bit of TLC. It was originally a log store with an opening straight into the lounge next to the fire. But the last owners had replaced the real fireplace for a gas one meaning we no longer needed it, so we bricked it up.

Before                                                      After

We left a small hole in the bricks so the TV and PlayStation cables could be hidden behind the wall. This made designing the hall tree tricky, as we needed to be able to access the cables, so it couldn’t be permanently fixed to the wall. If you don’t have this problem it makes the process a whole lot easier!

I learned a lot from this project with my dad, and I love the end result. Here are my tips from what I learned, to help you to make your own hall tree:

Tip 1 – Fail to plan, plan to fail: I’m always one to just get stuck in with little planning, and it usually ends up biting me with multiple trips to the store to buy missing materials etc. What I learned from my dad is that more time spent up front actually planning the design means less time building it.


Tip 2 – Make a cut list: We planned every piece of wood and screw to build it before we even lifted a saw or hammer. We worked out all the measurements piece by piece and made a cut list. We even managed to get all of our wood cut in store at The Home Depot saving even more time.

Tip 3 – Make sure the unit fits: If you’re building the unit in another room, make sure the unit fits through any doorways to the final spot. We built ours in an adjacent room as the laundry room is so narrow. We made ours in two pieces which made it easier to maneuver.


Tip 4 – MDF is easy to work with: If you’re going to paint the unit, and are not bothered about seeing the wood-grain, MDF is a really nice material to use. It’s really easy to cut, screw into and gives a lovely smooth paint-able surface. It’s also pretty cheap at around $25 per 8 foot by 4 foot sheet.


Tip 5 – Don’t forget to countersink the screws: If you want a perfectly smooth finish, don’t forget the importance of countersinking the screws. I.e. slightly recessing them beneath the wood, so you can then fill them with wood filler, sand and paint.

Tip 6 – Use trim: By using trim you can get a much higher-end finish than leaving the surfaces smooth and flat. This look fits well with more traditional or even transitional looks, but if you prefer more modern style then loosing the trim would work better.

I love the end result of this project, and loved learning from my dad how to do it properly. I’m not a skilled carpenter by any means, but with careful planning on paper first, I think the results speak for themselves. In fact, I loved it so much, I’m going to build my own walk-in closet fittings now! Stay tuned…

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