A Residence Blog

Travel and adventure taking, memory and home making, parenting and play shaking, never faking, tales of family life.

A Residence Blog

Travel and adventure taking, memory and home making, parenting and play shaking, never faking, tales of family life.

Style Challenge: 6 Secrets of Storage for Kids’ Rooms

The secrets of storage in kids' rooms

Kids always have other ideas about what a storage item should actually be for, it’s their naturally inquisitive and creative minds in action. My children are 7 and 9, so I think we have emptied every storage system in the house, we’ve been through every option when it comes to storage for kids, we’ve worked out what was worth investing in, what wasn’t, what can be modified and repurposed as they grow, and what stands the test of time.

It’s all too easy to buy storage without actually working out what you need, even more so with kids because their stuff changes constantly. But I definitely have a few rules of thumb. Continue reading

At Home: Little Being Happy Rituals

A weekend well spent

The first thing I saw when I looked on my phone this morning was an article about it being Blue Monday. ‘That explains everything!’ I thought. Why I kept pressing snooze, why I couldn’t manage being happy about today, why I felt a sense of impending doom. Blue Monday, the day when we suddenly realise we are stuck on an iceberg between Christmas and payday…

But I also wasn’t in the mood to be dragged down, I mentioned I was reading a book by Anthony Rubbins, and one of the quotes that stuck with me was

Choose the beliefs that empower you.

A few things went wrong this weekend, various member of the family spent chunks not speaking to each other and we forgot something important which feels bad. But this Blue Monday, instead of choosing to focus on things we should have said or done differently, as life is never quite perfect, I am going to focus on some things that happened this weekend that made me love January. Continue reading

Home From Home: Hotel Touring Bologna


Last year, at World Travel Market,  I bumped into Manuela, part of the lovely family who own Hotel Touring Bologna, Italy. Hotel Touring is the only hotel in Bologna with a hot tub on the roof terrace, and what a roof terrace, overlooking this charming city. The unique terrace is often what first grabs people’s attention, but having now visited, there are so many things that make this boutique hotel a wonderful home from home.

On Wednesday I shared my trip to the antiques market in Bologna, today I want to share the hotel with you. You can tell this is a family run hotel, arriving felt like being welcomed into the family, the welcome is warm and attention to detail is great. Manuela, Georgia and Matteo suggested some great things for me to do in the city by email befoehand, and each day there was a friendly little note in our room with reminders about reservations or bookings they had made. Continue reading

Mercato Antiques Market in Bologna

Antiques Market in Bologna

I managed to sneak a trip to Bologna, Italy, just before Christmas. The second Saturday and second Sunday of the month the antique market Mercato Antiquario Città di Bologna takes place in Piazza Santo Stefano in front of St. Stephen’s Basilica.  It was peaceful when we visited and full of all kinds of treasures.

What I love about Bologna is that it has jaw dropping architecture, medieval towers, cobbled squares with fountains and churches, rows and rows of porticoed streets. This setting is inspirational, but it is also bursting with great shops, markets, cafes, bars and restaurants. Best of all, it’s very compact and walkable, and not over crowded with tourists.

Have a little look round, it was lovely taking pictures here. Continue reading

At Home: Be Kind

You Will Never Regret Being Kind


Something happened last year that made me much more aware of letting people know they had influenced me, nobody died, not a near death experience, much simpler than that.

I started trying to include more acts of kindness in my life and it snowballed, I found my whole mindset changing and I found myself starting the year having to pinch myself at how much happier I felt. I went from being grumpy with the world and uncertain about what I was doing in life, to feeling suddenly much happier, more at home and certain of my place in the world. I know that sounds fluffy but it is completely true. It changed me.

Continue reading

7 reasons to embrace Scandinavian Design for a happier new year

6 reasons to embrace Scandinavian Design for a happier new year


We ‘hygge‘ the house for Christmas, but then we take it all down again, leaving our minds clearer but our souls colder. My Twitter friend @Karamina drew my attention to the absurdity of this, when she told me she had re ‘hygged’ the living room last week. We need light in January as much as we did in December, so now is the perfect time to embrace Scandinavian design ideas. As we move into a new year, tidying up and decluttering can clear the way for more minimalist Scandinavian design.

  1. It might be minimalist, but Scandi design still has lots of heart, as this heart bowl and teapot from Sagaform show.
  2. Scandinavian design is known for combining functionality with beauty, in a way that allows you to carry on with the good stuff: living your life and enjoying your time at home with your special people.
  3. Another key theme is the outdoors, in Winter there is nothing worse than feeling cooped up, so designs that let the outside in, like this tree side chair set, are perfect. It also serves as a cheeky reminder to get off your backside and enjoy being among trees.
  4. Scandinavian design is big on wood in it’s as near to natural state, bringing calm and warmth and light. White or light walls help to bounce more light too. Who doesn’t need more light in Winter?
  5. Scandinavian homes bring people together effortlessly, I love the simple idea of a kitchen table bench, an easy way to make more room for extra guests at the table.
  6. Scandinavian design also makes room for cosy cushions, throws and candles in your living space. The easy way to quickly ‘hyyge’ your house. But beware, as I was saying in my last post, it’s easy to buy too many throws and cushions, balance it with a few hero home items too.
  7. Scandinavian design is all about the storage, not looking at clutter makes us happier.


6 reasons to embrace Scandinavian Design for a happier new year


Dream Big

I’ve picked out some gorgeous pieces at Wayfair which would bring me a happier new year. Writing this has got me thinking about a dining space that can also turn into a cosy space for paying board games as a family, doing homework, craft projects and chatting. Of course, there is lots of tea and somewhere to tidy away the bits and pieces afterwards… To see full details of the products featured above, check out my Scandinavian ideas board.


6 reasons to embrace Scandinavian Design for a happier new year


5 Cool Scandinavian Brands at WayfairUK

Fjørde & Co

Showcasing a minimalistic and honest look, Fjorde and Co combines a retro sensibility with Scandinavian influences to help you create a simple but cool environment complemented by chunky knits, small pattern repeats and light furs to gain a truly Nordic touch.

ETOL Designs

ETOL designs and produces their products in designs and materials that combine business with pleasure. ETOL Design Ltd has more than 20 years of experience from interior design products. The traditional Scandinavian values in design and quality are the main components in their creative work with new modern designs. They are proud of their choices of  natural materials like wool, cotton, straw or synthetic fiber, metal and plastic.

Mark Slojd

When one of Mark Slojd’s designers comes up with a new idea, it takes one year before they have a finished product because of high demands for safety and quality. Products should not just look good, they should also have a good length of life. With a combination of investment in design and quality, many of Mark Slojd’s products have become classics.


Sagaform is proud to have introduced a whole host of design innovations, from the way they prepare coffee, to baking chocolate cakes in silicone moulds. Fresh approaches and design excellence has always been their principal focus. Function and quality is at the core of their work, culminating in a serious touch of style for your kitchen and home.


Bloomingville create, discover and collect beautiful objects for the home and garden. Bloomingville A/S was founded in Denmark in 2000. The unique Bloomingville style is a mixture of raw products with a nostalgic Scandinavian twist and reproductions of fantastic pieces from times past inspired by French brocante. Think Nordic style, updated vintage and handmade products.

Image credits: Shutterstock Be The Change, Dream Big.

Home Heros: 6 Objects that changed or improved my life

6 home heros, products that improve or change life

It seemed my post on  Monday about short cuts to success resonated, thanks for letting me know on here and on social media – may we all achieve masses in 2016! Today I thought I would share some unsung home heros. I love a chalk board for starters, especially this television shaped one, functional objects can be cool, in fact the better they look, the more you want to use them.

When I think of spending money on things for our home, I think of mugs, cushions, things that stand out and instantly bring a splash of colour and fun to life. But in January, after the excess of Christmas, our thoughts often turn to being more frugal, and to reducing our impact on the planet. As I declutter I’ve been thinking a lot about what we actually need, we have too many mugs, they don’t fit in the cupboard, and we have throws and cushions that float around the house with no real home.

On the other hand I reflected there were some things I bought last year that really made life run more smoothly. They also look good, double win.

Home Heros

Never hear the words ‘Whats for Tea?’ again

I shared the huge benefits to health, wealth, sanity, relationships and headspace of meal planning on Monday. Lots of you agreed it has changed your life. I love having our meal plans where everyone can see them, it means either me or Mr A can get cooking, and the kids know what is coming. Investing in the right tools makes any job more pleasurable. I love this Pure Heart Memo Board, by House Additions, but this television shaped chalk board came a close second for the cool factor, check it out.

I have a Pure Heart Memo Board to giveaway, see below.


Out of sight, out of mind

Having things safely stored away in a blanket box or wicker trunk leaves your mind open for other things. Now that my kids are older they use old toy chests as memory banks, full of folders of old paintings and school work and their memory boxes. Two giant wicker baskets mean guest bedding has a home and we have a place to stash our of season clothing.

5 a day in one swoop

What more do I need to say, a smoothie a day keeps the doctor away, how overjoyed was I to find a blender at last that doesn’t take up the whole worktop and takes seconds to clean and assemble.

Yes we can have pancakes!

I love the idea of pancakes, but be honest, slaving over a hot stove making them is a labour of love, especially when everyone else has eaten and run off before you even get to sit down with yours. Love the portion size of this, love you can make a pile of pancakes in one go. I love making banana and egg pancakes.

Go Retro

The Marlo laundry box was one where investing in something to make a loathed job happier really worked. No longer am I annoyed by the sight of a gaudy washing powder box or by spillage on the floor. (Also no-one can engage with me in boring conversations over which washing powder we use).

Thirsty Work

I found it, the perfect carafe for staying hydrated at my desk. Torpedo Carafe and Tumbler, by DRH Collection

The only way is up!

When this stair basket works, it really works. Sometimes our stairs are like an avalanche. I admit sometimes ours ends up overfilling, but I’ve promised myself to take it up and down, or encourage two little shirpas to do it, at least once a week in 2016.




To win this pure heart memo board, simply let me know what product changed your life in 2015 and then log your entry using the rafflecopter, and unlock extra entries.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions

There is one prize of a Pure Heart Memo Board as outlined in the blog post. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
Open to UK residents aged 18 and over, excluding employees and relatives of Wayfair and A Residence.
Closing date for entries is 31/01/2016 12 am
One entry per person
Entrants must log into rafflecopter and comment on the blog.
Optional entry methods are to follow on Twitter, Facebook and tweet on Twitter.
The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries
The winner will be informed within one week of the closing date and will need to respond with a postal address within 14 days or a new winner will be chosen
The winner’s name will be available on request
This is a joint promotion between Wayfair and A Residence.
Entry to this confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.

10 shortcuts to success in 2016



Welcome back! Hope you had a wonderful break and the new year is unfolding gently and happily for you.

With or without resolutions, I think we all pretty much want to start the year as we mean to go on. I want to keep healthy, push my running further, make the house even more organised and manage my time so that I have as much time as possible for all the creative projects I keep putting on a back burner. I was worrying about having too many goals, but it’s not impossible to attack them when you use a few shortcuts to success.

Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together ~Vincent Van Gogh

After receiving a Kindle at long last (I am a luddite) I read a lot this holiday. Everything from Gok Wan’s autobiography (curiously compelling) to Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project (loads of interesting ideas, but not quite the book or the person I thought it/she would be) to Anthony Rubbin’s Awaken the Giant Within (very inspiring, although you have to really commit to the science bit). Books that helped to consolidate some ideas and shortcuts I had been trying out already.

Firstly, I’ve learnt it’s vital to be kind to yourself at this time of year (but not too kind) Rome wasn’t built in a day, but equally, it took a whole lot of effort. Productivity experts, like Anthony Rubbins, seem to agree that the trick with change is to take it a day at a time, to reward yourself immediately for steps in the right direction and to keep reviewing things. If they don’t work, don’t give up, try something different.


Start with one drawer

I’ve tried quite a lot of things recently which have changed my life, then I’ve read about them in magazines and realised they are a ‘thing’. Decluttering has been a thing forever of course, but my facebook timeline is full of people doing the Marie Kondo method.

I spent much of 2015 complaining the whole house was coming down on my head. One day I decided to start the clearing out with one drawer, it is amazing how once you get going the decluttering almost propels itself. Over the holidays I was amazed what a couple of afternoons did for my ability to find things, to concentrate and relax. I’ve since spoken to people who have read the Kondo book and I realise I was onto something, I even started with my clothes, which apparently is a very good place to start.

You can make a list of cupboards and drawers to tackle and tick them off, follow the Kondo method, but I am quite enjoying the random approach of whatever takes my fancy that day.

‘You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.’ Mike Murdock



 A smoothie a day keeps the doctor away

I love my blender and so do the kids. Committing to one smoothie a day, either for breakfast or to see off the afternoon biscuit craving hour seems to be a really easy way to make a big difference. It’s great knowing you have the bulk of your 5 a day in one swoop. The kids hate my green concoctions but love the novelty of making smoothies for pudding. Long may that last!
A brain dump

Last year I learnt to dump absolutely everything in my head on paper once a week. It works wonders for my sanity and is a great starting point for a weekly planning session.


A great app for a quick workout

Ever get put off exercise by having to start a DVD, you tube an exercise to work out how to do it or by getting to the gym?  I love the SworKit app because everything you need is in one place, you pick an area of the body, or type of exercise.  You set the timer for however many minutes you have, the video demo of each exercise plays as you exercise.

Easy peasy.


Ditch the Distractions

Last year I read Happiness by Design by Paul Dolan, it really impressed on me how we can easily design our own happiness by setting up defaults for our brains. Our brains go for the easy option. One default I had was to scan facebook whenever I was bored or waiting,  I deleted the app, and replaced it with news and exercise apps instead.



Water on tap

Another easy default setting. We have a gorgeous cream pitcher on the kitchen table. We leave our glasses on a mat in the middle of the table so the kids can always fill up too. It makes it easy to make sure we all stay hydrated.

I’m shopping for a great carafe for my desk too, something gorgeous that makes me want to actually use it.


Stay on budget

Dave Ramsey the US Amercian author nails it when he says, “Your priorities, passions, goals, and fears are shown clearly in the flow of your money.”

Fear or boredom put me off doing this, but control is a magical thing, as is having something to look forward to, to spend it on, like holidays. I am trying to make boring tasks fun this year.  Mr A and I have booked a night to play some music, eat good food, and sort the budget.

As Dave says, “You will either learn to manage money, or the lack of it will manage you.”  




Meal Plan

I used to think meal planning was such a waste of my energy and a bore. Then I discovered how life changing it was.

I hate hearing those words ‘Any ideas what’s for tea?’

We were saving money, there was the joy of just knowing what we were eating. We even got to try new recipes because we had ordered the ingredients, not having to cook because we had made double the week before was amazing, the healthy meals we were eating made me feel so much better as a person, and a mum.

These were wonderful bonuses, but the thing that really convinced me, was the fact I had much more time and headspace for other things. I even enjoyed cooking, it stopped feeling like a chore.


The little things

Although I don’t always write good things down, I did start to mentally seek them out each day, and when I read recently that the act of noting them makes you actively seek more happiness I was sold.

Taking part in #BlogItForward last month really showed me how fast acts of kindness start to snowball in your mind when you perform just a few.

“I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” — Laura Ingalls Wilder


Quit Procrastinating

As I type this the timer on my phone is on for 25 minutes, the recommended amount of time according to the Pomodoro technique. I’m typing faster, I am phaffing less. Putting the timer on was the difference between writing a blog post and sharpening pencils, checking facebook again or cleaning out another cupboard, that’s stuff for the 5 minutes break between 25 minute blasts.


These are my favourite tricks for staying productive. Let me know if you want any more info on any of them as I am planning some more posts for January. What are yours?

shortcuts to success

Image credits – Shutterstock –the way forwardvintage printing press, old way new way, change word

My Home: Q&A Suzannah Lipscomb, Historian and Broadcaster

NS Headshot

The hunt to find out what makes a house a home continues with Dr Suzannah Lipscomb, an historian, broadcaster and award-winning academic.

Suzannah has written and presented historical documentaries on BBC4, ITV, Channel 5 and National Geographic Channel. Her books include 1536: The Year that Changed Henry VIII, A Visitor’s Companion to Tudor England and The King is Dead! The Last Will and Testament of Henry VIII.

You can still catch Suzannah presenting her two-part series ‘Witch-Hunt: A Century of Murder’ on Demand 5.


My Home: Q&A Suzannah Lipscomb

My Home: Q&A Suzannah Lipscomb, Historian


1. Please describe your home in 5 words.

Beautiful, comfortable, book-lined, blue, soft.

2. What inspires your home style?

Colours I love: the palette is grey-blues, cream and flashes of maroon-red. There’s quite a bit of Indian inspiration – the quilt on my bed, cushions, rugs – as I spent a long time there. Otherwise, William Morris, and Provençal style, and then rather classic pieces of furniture in dark wood and gilt-framed mirrors, but all this set within quite a modern, almost warehouse-chic, setting.

3. Do you follow trends?

No, not really; I know what I like.

4. What is your favourite ritual at home?

It’s the simple morning one of shower and coffee.

5. What are your favourite and least favourite parts of your house and why?

I love my sofa – it’s a huge blue-grey corner sofa, so comfortable. I saw it in The Netherlands and persuaded the firm, who don’t normally ship to the UK, to do so.



My least favourite part would be the piles of paper in the study – see below.

My Home: Q&A Suzannah Lipscomb, Historian


6. Which room is the tidiest? The messiest?

The sitting room is generally the tidiest – ready for impromptu guests – and the study is always a mess – full of papers and piles of books.

7. Can you tell me any interesting facts or stories about your house’s history?

I live in a two-bedroom garden flat that was a very recent conversion from a one-bedroom place. So it’s Victorian meets 21st-century and I’m the first to live in it in its glorious mixture of exposed brick walls, bay windows and quirky angles

8. What is your most treasured object and why?

Apart from that worn on me, my most treasured object is probably my sixteenth-century map of Nîmes, bought for me by my then fiancé to celebrate me getting my doctorate.

9. What’s your biggest extravagance and your thriftiest purchase?

My biggest extravagance to date is a copy of a Holbein picture that I’ve commissioned. My thriftiest purchase must be my mahogany sideboard and yew side tables bought as a job lot for £50.


unnamed (3)


10. Whose home do you most admire and why?

Griff and Jo Rhys Jones have the most wonderful London home that I’ve seen. I love the space and their art collection. My favourite space is the Indian-themed loo.

11. What is your earliest memory of ‘home’?

My parents moved when I was two and a half, but I don’t remember the first house distinctly. But our second house – I remember eating macaroni cheese – I think I was still in a high chair – and my parents sitting at a large glass dining table. And then memories of parents’ parties glimpsed through the bannisters.

12. What does home mean to you?

A refuge, comfort, a place to entertain.

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