Friday, 8 December 2017


Those of you who follow me on Instagram, will have seen that I recently went on a press trip to Almhult, Sweden to go to IKEA HQ for a jam packed two days to discover what goes on behind the scenes.

With lovely fellow Interiors bloggers Kimberly and Kate looking like kids on a school trip in a mock up of the latest catalogue cover.

The town itself is where the founder Ingvar Kamprad grew up, and the original store, which opened in 1958 (it had been a mail order business since 1943), is now the museum, which structurally hasn't changed a bit.

Pretty self explanatory.

Some of what I learnt, I can share with you, the rest is tip-top secret so I would definitely have to kill you if I told you. I'm joking about committing murder, obvs, but there were things that we saw that we weren't allowed to photograph, so I feel pretty privileged to have seen the prototypes for collections and collaborations that aren't due in store until 2019!

IKEA HQ- behind those wooden boards on the upper level is top secret stuff.

They make a staggering 2,500 protoypes per year using methods such as 3-D printing or mocking up chairs and tables, so we were told not to sit down in the top secret areas, because it was likely you'll collapse Goldilocks-style onto the floor.

Most importantly, whether it is a mock up, or the real product, they must all live by their five-pointed 'Democratic Design': form, function, sustainable, low price and quality.

IKEA's values- no product makes it to the shelves without passing every element.

Personally, I've always had a massive crush on IKEA. I suppose it's because growing up in the 90s, the fashionable interior styles were floral three piece suites, fussy, frilly curtains and brown swirly carpet that if you'd chundered on it, it would blend in. IKEA was a breath of fresh air, and when I took my first steps in the Croydon store with my Mum and big sister, my five year old mind was blown.

I loved the simplicity of their design, that I'd never seen anywhere else before and fast forward the clock a decade from that point, I based my Design Tech. GCSE table project on the IKEA style. Talk about fan girl.

A gorgeously hygge corner of the IKEA Hotell

IKEA has an evocative nostalgia in my heart: one of my best friends from primary school used to live in a house which had A LOT of IKEA in it (think black leather POANG chairs, fold out kids' chair beds for sleepovers, sleek lighting, and you've got the idea). To me, that house was goals - so simple, so homely: modern classics and they still have pieces of it today.

I've always had this strong awareness that their products aren't just the 'flat pack crap' that some people think they are, but rather things that are built to last and more importantly, keeping low cost, quality and the environment at the forefront.

My room at the IKEA Hotell- Scandi perfection.

Given my level of IKEA fandom, you can only imagine what I was like when I strolled up to the IKEA Hotel- yes, such a place exists and yes, I almost lost my composure when I saw loads of products I have at home. I had to try my hardest not to recite the catalogue number and shelf locations at everyone. I digress...

Let's all play 'spot the IKEA product that you have at home'...

So, here's the lowdown of what I can tell you about IKEA that you might not know...


We started our trip in Copenhagen at an uber cool futures lab called Space 10 (they even have a tree house in their office), which was set up two years ago by IKEA to explore the ever changing world we live in and what they can do to adapt to this.

Just a casual tree house in the middle of the office at Space 10...

Here, they are trying to find open, accessible and collaborative solutions for sustainable and efficient living, particularly in cities, so they explore concepts like co-living i.e. where we can live together, produce and share food locally or even grow food in your own home or in a community garden.

I know it's an office, but I could easily reside here and live off the micro-veg.

We were then swiftly taken downstairs to the hydroponic farm in the basement; it looked strangely familiar, but then I quickly realised I'd seen a similar one on CBeebies on that bloke from JLS' farming show. I didn't admit that to everyone. Here, they explore techniques to grow food; they even have a fish tank where they extract their poo to use as manure to grow chillies, cucumbers and tomatoes!!

It wouldn't be a futures lab without a chap in a lab coat.

The hydroponic method (basically growing veg in specially lined trays), which:

  • uses 90% less water than conventional farming; 
  • allows produce to grow three times faster than when they're in the field due to the artificial lighting (it's a gorge neon pink, I hasten to add). 

This initially sounds very 'Dolly the Sheep' and could be subject to alienating people from nature. However, as the conditions are constant and not at the hands of unpredictable weather:

  • the produce will never spoil; 
  • you'll always have fresh ingredients on tap;
  • it's kind to the environment as there's little or no transportation involved and;
  • it is packed with nutrients. 
Winner, winner, micro-veg dinner.

Neon light goals.

IKEA's mantra is 'a better everyday life for the people', and what struck me on this trip was that this is something they are truly passionate about, rather than it being something the big corporates tend to do to be able to tick the 'eco friendly' box.

We met a sustainability spokesperson for IKEA and she explained that they are constantly exploring ways to prolong the life of their products, or once a product can no longer be used, how can it be made into something else. To you and me, this will be apparent in the stores as IKEA only sell LED bulbs, what will be less apparent to us, is that their taps are designed to let out less water than conventional ones.

LED bulbs being tested for safety and efficiency.

Beyond the store, IKEA take great care in ensuring their supply chain is top notch. Anyone (basically everyone), who has built an IKEA product will know that you will come across some kind of wood.

As they are responsible for using 1% of the world's industrial wood, IKEA ensure that their sourcing is sustainable and they have a target to use 100% sustainable wood by 2020; they're currently at 76%, which is still miles ahead of everyone else.

In cotton farming, they achieved 100% sustainable cotton two years ago- they are trailblazers in business, and other big businesses are trying to quickly follow in suit.

In the restaurants, they use ASC/MSC certified seafood, have recently introduced veggie balls and use 100% organic jam. Delicious for you and the environment.


This is what makes the sceptics most suspicious about IKEA: if their products are cheap, they must be low quality, unethically sourced, mass produced toot. Historically, Swedish craftsmanship was about making multi-functional items with minimal waste and this tradition is embodied by IKEA.

With small living spaces, Swedish homes historically needed to have multi-functional handmade items, with the surplus being used to make things to either use in the house, or to sell for a small profit.

Some of their wood will be hollow, but reinforced inside or they'll use a more cost effective material, such as pine, so that it is still a quality product, but the low production cost can be passed onto us as the customer.

Different materials and colours the IKEA products we know and love come in.

And of course, it'd be stupid of me to not talk about the most obvious low cost point: the flat pack, which IKEA introduced in the 1970s, and is probably one of its defining USPs.

Interestingly, in the design phase of a product, the price is the first thing that is decided, then the process continues within those perimeters. That way they can ensure they are producing products that always comply with their Democratic Design and leave you with enough change to buy some meatballs at the end of your shopping trip. Aren't the Swedes just the nicest?!

It wouldn't be a trip to IKEA HQ without eating this iconic dish.


No, really. You read that right; from the tea lights to tables, it will not find itself on the shelves unless it has endured rigorous testing. Hence why it is unlikely you'll see a three legged chair or table in store. We saw the cutest lunch box that was in the shape of a dog's face being opened and closed by a machine. This process will be repeated at least 200,000 times and up to a million, essentially until the poor little doggy has had enough.

It even snowed!

Similarly, mattresses are tested by a wooden bum repeatedly sitting on it and another method uses a huge wooden roller, rolling back and forth. I wondered why they didn't have one going up and down too, but I kept that question confined to the dirty corners of my mind...

In the words of Limp Bizkit: 'Keep rolling, rolling, rolling...'. Literally.

It was also fascinating to see two bathrooms set up to test the effect of humidity in different climates around the world- if a product doesn't pass testing, then it's literally back to the drawing board, to ensure that the product will withstand the test of time in the home. Although this may be the case, design and comfort is never compromised in the process.

That awkward moment your jumper matches the materials they're about to set alight for testing.


Have you ever considered how the photoshoots for the catalogues happen? How IKEA work out what products people who live in small spaces in Japan, need in their homes, as well as those in Victorian conversions in London? Well, this is where I-COM- IKEA's in house agency- come in. They find solutions for people's living needs, by visiting homes around the world, as well as creating the global media content and the catalogues that we all love flicking through and getting decor inspo from.

A mock up ready for a photoshoot.

Cultural awareness is key here, as the mock up rooms in store must be relevant for the area they're in and also in the way they're presented to the 48 countries the catalogues are found in.

So, you're probably thinking this will take more than a month of Sundays to photograph different set ups over and over? Wrong! Due to very detailed hand scanning techniques, IKEA can have products digitally augmented into their catalogues.

This saves a lot of time if, for example, the colour of the kitchen doors need to be changed and it is invaluable to see if a kitchen is actually practical in real life- I mean nobody wants to have it installed in their home, and then finding out that the utensil drawer is too far away from the cooker, do they?!

Spot the difference: The Chinese version of the catalogue has the pencil cushion pointing the other way as it's considered rude to have your pen facing the other way. A two seater sofa is in place of a 3 seater, due to smaller living spaces and a little rabbit has been added in as it's the year of the rabbit. Amazing attention to detail.

It is so hard to tell the difference between a real photograph and a digital one (we were tested and it was so hard to tell, honest!), owing to the level of detail- even metal has the weld seams on it, to manage the customers expectations that what we see is what we get, even though what we're seeing doesn't actually exist!

Strike a pose!

So, there you go. My lowdown on life as you don't know it at IKEA HQ. I found it truly fascinating that such a huge business can have such a huge heart, and I wasn't sure it was possible, but I love it even more now.

IKEA; I love you!


Friday, 10 November 2017


Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers. There are some collabs that just work without question and IKEA and HAY are no exception- they're the Scandi combo of dreams and it's not hard to see why they would join forces, through their shared love for the 'beauty of basics' as they say, and I was lucky enough to receive a selection of products to review.

I mean... look at it all, it's a faffer's dream!
Unless, like me, you're a die hard fan of IKEA (those that have followed me since back in the day, know that one of my guest bedrooms is basically a shrine to the blue and yellow Gods), you will know that they consistently deliver products of ergonomic design that are timeless and built to last. Some people are under the misconception that because their products are excellent value for money and you have to assemble it yourself, that they're too good to be true. Well, I'm glad that HAY didn't feel this way, as they have put interesting slants on recognisable IKEA designs, right down to their iconic blue bag.

Not even the bags could escape a HAY makeover. (Pic from Ikea).
HAY was founded by husband and wife team Rolf and Mette Hay in Denmark in 2002 and any design or interiors fanatics will be well aware of their modern and clean approach to design; it's slightly surprising that this collab hasn't happened sooner. What makes this meeting of minds even better, is that the pieces, in true IKEA style, are all priced very competitively; I have a feeling the range will sell out quicker than you can say YPPERLIG.

Making the magic happen: husband and wife team- Rolf and Mette Hay (Pic from IKEA).
My favourite piece is the coffee table, which wouldn't look out of place and could hold its own in a Nordic boutique hotel. For me, its simplicity is what's most striking; a beautiful matte black powder coated top, sitting prettily on rounded lacquered birch legs- versatile for any space within your home and a steal at £35. To assemble it is just as simple (I did both in less than 5 minutes) and I have a feeling that these will sell like hot cakes...

This table will never date- a true iconic classic.
With the design and price briefs met, some sceptics looking for the catch will think that comfort has taken a back seat- no pun intended. Well, they'd be wrong! The three seater sofa, which doubles up as a single bed, considers both purposes, meaning that the careful design decision to use a sprung mattress not only makes for a good seat, but also a good night's sleep. It is also absolutely huge and I love its sleek design and look. It can be assembled very quickly- the manual suggests two people, but I managed it on my lonesome and had a 'this girl can' moment when it was done; just don't tell IKEA I did it sans companion...

I might try and start a row with James before bed so I get to come and sleep on here.
The smaller pieces and accessories are absolutely gorgeous- Mette's speciality is this area- one of my fave pieces is the candle holder (£3 each- amazing!), with its cascading circular base and it comes in three colours- dark grey, light green and a grey green (my fave colour of the three) and for anyone who is a fan of a shelfie (I'm guiltier than OJ Simpson), the wall shelf will give you hours of fun, as the elasticated bars holds books, pictures and small trinkets and it is perfect for narrower spaces. It looks like something that you would scour high end Scandi interiors websites for, except the difference is that it is £12. Yes, you read that correctly- £12. That's two pints in some London establishments!

Gorgeous candle holders- the small ones (set of 3 for £4.95) can hold either candles or tealights.
Shelf perfection- perfect for any room, and any space.
For a more bespoke vibe, the hand painted vases, that come in two different designs and colour schemes, look like something you might buy in a trendy pop up market. I love it's matte finish and what struck me initially, was that this was the one item that I haven't really seen from IKEA before. It looks amazing with fresh or dried flowers, or even just as it is.

Two vase designs that work together and on their own.
This is a collab that has made me fall even more in love with IKEA (if that was possible), and I hope this is not the last we see of this power pairing. Click here to see the whole YPPERLIG range. You're welcome.

This blog post is sponsored by IKEA.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Elvis & Kresse: Business and Interior Goals.

If you saw my InstaStories a few weeks back, you would have seen that we were at our friends James and Kresse's 200 year old mill in rural Kent two weekends on the trot; one for a social meet up, and the other for James' annual work retreat. We know them through James meeting James(!) on a train, and the rest is history. We're such fans of their products, that not only do we love getting our friends to guess what their products are made from (no-one gets it right, as it's that unusual), we have enough now to start our own little pop up in the living room, from cuff links, to a bespoke wooden chest we had made to commemorate our wedding in 2014.

The stunning mill that Kresse, James and their adorable dog Monty call home.
For me, not only does their home trump anything I have seen on Pinterest, with its industrial rustic vibes, but their business, Elvis & Kresse, as well as the ethos at the helm of it all, is incredible. Fasten your seat belts as I give you a whistle stop tour of their absolutely beautiful home, impressive business and an edit of my fave E&K products. Oh, and did I also mention I have not one, but TWO discount codes for you to enjoy at the very bottom of this post, because there's only 11 weeks until Christmas after all..!!!!

This vignette is everything. What's not to love about this?
When you go into the mill, you're not entirely sure what is waiting for you (especially as it was pitch black outside when I first went there in 2014, so was totally blind sided), but you're greeted by a chair made from an old whiskey barrell, sitting within a space that is well utilised, the kind of hallway I can only dream of. There's even a wine cellar underneath this area... The mill has 4 bedrooms, all finished with their own character and gorgeous view of the sprawling pond.

It's a whiskey barrell and they made a chair out of it. They make it all look so easy.
At the very top of the mill is the main living space, which is completely open plan, making for a sociable area with a massive log burner, midcentury leather Danish corner sofa and chop and chat kitchen (can you tell I used to be a letting agent?!). 

Open plan living goals. Kitchen to the right, midcentury Danish sofa to the left. I think they would've noticed if I'd made off with it in my luggage.

These shelves inspired my upcycled scaffold board shelf at home. Can you guess which shelf is my favourite...?! I'll give you a clue, it's not the one with the teacups on.
I love these stools, painted in fire hose red. Such unpretentious attention to detail.

A pummel horse, re-covered with coffee sack. There's a sentence I never thought I'd write.
There's also a mezzanine level here, as the rafters are so high, like a viewing gallery, where there's also an extra dining space. Most of their home accessories have come from reclamation, salvage yards, or resources such as Freecycle. Their relentlessness to not be wasteful naturally extends into their home, which they'd eventually like to run on the water that rushes under the mill.

Above the living space, there's a mezzanine level. You get a sense of the height from this pic.
Look at that reclaimed wood floor!
Not to mention the view...
So, who lives in a place like this? Let's go through the keyho-... you know how the rest goes. Like Batman and Robin, Elvis & Kresse both bring something different to the party yet rely on one another to get the job done: Kresse gives the brief and Elvis executes it. Kresse, is not only a self-confessed life long waste fanatic but also has an MBE to her name for services to sustainability, but is ridiculously modest about it in a way in which I would be completely incapable.

Elvis and Kresse, AKA James Henrit and Kresse Wesling, MBE.
Their story began when Kresse visited The London Fire Brigade in 2005 and was staggered when she saw the piles and piles of decommissioned fire hose with nowhere to go but to landfill, as it can't be recycled. She saw the potential that no-one else did in this truly beautiful material, and from then Elvis & Kresse was born.

They would both literally knock anyone out of the water when it comes to the red herring task on The Great Interior Design Challenge with their Midas touch; turning waste into luxury items that are unique and striking but also built to last. They are true investment pieces. In addition to them rescuing so called waste materials and extending the life of them ten fold, they also give 50% of their profits to the Fire Fighters Charity from sales of their fire hose range. This is very important to them and something they feel all profitable businesses should be doing- again reusing surplus in the monetary sense to see what good can be done from that too. Amazing.

The iconic red fire hose waiting to be cleaned and made into things of beauty. 50% of profits go directly back to The Fire Fighters Charity.
...And here it all all cleaned and ready to turn into something beautiful.
Fire hose aside, a shocking 35,000 tonnes of leather go to landfill from the European luxury industry per year and instead of it's life ending there, Kresse was strongly compelled to do something about this. She gave James the challenge of making something big from the small scraps of leather, that can be put together, taken apart and built to last; so James designed a clever interlocking system, where the pieces 'jigsaw' together to make rugs of any size and in a range of colours (my favourite is the caramel, which sits handsomely under my dining table at home). It's perfect for clumsy people who are susceptible to spilling red wine on their rugs; you can take the stained part away, put in new leather pieces and it's like the incident never happened- ta da! You can pretty much make anything out of them, and you can buy the pieces needed for any job you wish, as you can see from the picture below:

Leather components constructed by hand make these amazing rugs and even a new covering for a chair. They are made from wasted pieces deemed unusable from luxury handbags and rescued by E&K.
Kresse and James run E&K from their home and have cleverly adapted machinery to make their products- I mean, who else has a firehose splitter?! Their conscientiousness doesn't just stop at the product- the packaging is also considered, be it military grade parachute silk or re-purposed tea sacks, all finished to the highest standard to compliment the product inside. Most of their products can be made extra special with a laser etched engraving, perfect for gifts (or self gifting).

Where the magic happens: Elvis & Kresse's workshop at their home.


THE PRINT ROOM OVERNIGHT BAG: I bought this bag for James for his 30th birthday, and whenever we go away, I get serious weekend luggage envy. It's made from printing blanket- the material used to print thousands and thousands of leaflets at one time. Once it gets an imperfection in it, it is no longer used, otherwise the imperfection will be repeated (I always think of Charlotte in Sex and the City, when her engagement to Harry is announced in the paper, and her face has a very unfortunate Hitler moustache on it due to a printing imperfection), so it's reused for these gorge bags and detailed with fire hose handles and edging.

The lining is made from auction banners, which are often used just once in their life before E&K get hold of it. I love the structure of the bag, and it's so sturdy and durable, whilst still (in the words of Anchorman) staying classy. When it comes to bags, I am quite fussy about the small details, like zips and studs- this one ticks all the boxes. When you open it, it's such a nice surprise to see the vivid colours from the upcycled auction banners popping out. One of the bags even had a banner lining with a naked male Adonis on it and true to their word, E&K didn't waste it and someone is walking around with a member on view everytime they unzip their bag.

LARGE WASH BAG: If you like to travel with your cosmetics in one space, this wash bag is the perfect size to do just so. I love the unique markings each of these fire hose bags come with, so no room for arguments over whose is whose and they're lined with colourful decommissioned parachute silk. Not only are they sturdier than regular wash bags, they're also completely wipe clean and of course, the outside is water resistant. If you're like me, then being the recipient of a wash bag or 'smellies' would be the sign that someone doesn't know me very well (or like me, for that matter), but I would happily receive one of these for every Christmas and birthday for the rest of my life.

MACBOOK CASE: Ticking all the practicality and style boxes, I'm a little bit (OK, very much) in love with this coffee sack Macbook Case, finished with yellow fire hose. I think it speaks for itself with it's sleek but rustic design and is perfect for anyone who works on the go, although E&K are not liable for your work productivity being seriously reduced by people asking you what it's made of and where it comes from. I love that no two are the same due to the markings on the sack.  

So here ends the tour, the gift shop is to the left- check out all of Elvis & Kresse's amazing products here. You can get 12% off with the code NESTTWENTYEIGHT12 across the website, and 40% off on the leather pieces to make your own rug (it's really straightforward to follow the pattern and therapeutic) with the code NEST28DIY. Get in touch with them for something completely bespoke, they're lovely and will always go above and beyond! Find out more about how Elvis & Kresse's story and how they reclaim and reuse materials here. Thank you all for reading!

Saturday, 22 July 2017

How to cut costs in your bathroom revamp.

James is brilliant at most things. He can sing, act, played sport to a high level at school and university, is a brilliant business man- basically Mr All Star. However, he has the DIY skills of a baboon and thinks a U-bend is a type of driving maneuver. So, when it came to the bathroom and en suite refurbishments, I was swiftly labelled 'Project Manager'- how very Grand Designs; give me my high viz jacket, hard hat and Kevin McCloud.

Help me, Kev.

How to save money in the process? Do it ALL yourself. I'm kidding. But if you can, that's the answer and you can stop reading now. If not and you need the help of the professionals, here's what I learnt and how I saved money whilst doing ours, as you will probably part with more money than anticipated 99% of the time due to hidden obstacles that love to rear their ugly heads.

Hidden costs: not long after this, the ceiling started peeling off due to badly glued on coving.

Go online
Tony, who did our bathroom, advised us to go local. I tried, I really did, as I like supporting small businesses and it always feels more personable. If you're on a budget like us, this was quickly becoming problematic due to the prices of even the basic stuff. By going to online stores like Soak and Victoria Plum for your sanitaryware, you are literally saving thousands and the quality is good. If you catch the sites at the right time, you will find they're often doing 10% flash sales too. Tons of Tiles came up trumps and have a brilliant range of tiles to choose from, all at great value.

At 94p a tile, these matt black hexagons from Tons of Tiles
were a bargain and make the bathroom look really chic.

You're already saving over 50% on this Soak black slate effect tray.

Re-use your hardware
Do you really need new taps, shower system and shower screen? I thought I did but realised they were perfectly fine and all they needed was a clean. I soaked my shower head, hose and taps in strong de-scaler, and they came out like new. The shower screen for the bath just needed a clean and it's good to go again. As our plumbing is quite old, there was also a chance that newer shower units and taps wouldn't have had the same pressure and it would have been costly to adjust this, so it's always best to go by the old saying 'if it ain't broke..' you know the rest.

You've heard me talk about this before, but it's always worth considering this avenue, even if buying something new. We wanted a grey sink unit, but our dreams were shattered when Tony told us due to the industrial sized waste pipe that ran through, having a unit with drawers was pointless, as he would have needed to hack the insides to pieces to accommodate it. I'm a firm believer that bottomless options should start and finish in Nandos, so only a unit with doors would do. We had to go back to the drawing board. So, I bought a good quality basic white sink unit and using one and a half sample sized pots of Farrow and Ball Plummet, had a grey sink unit like the one I was lusting after, saving nearly £150.

The hardware needed some personality injected into it, painting the sink unit helped massively...

One and a half sample size pots of Farrow and Ball Plumett later and it looks soooo much better. To add even more drama, I used Kalk Litir's lime paint in Nero.

My biggest upcycling triumph during this process was my old towel heater in the main bathroom. It appeared bland and knackered, but it worked well, was giving me all kinds of industrial vibes and I loved the curved edges. Like any stereotypical 'nerd to hottie' American movie; it just needed a makeover. I used Hammerite metal spray in Black Satin and Tony said was fine for my towel heater, but it's always worth double checking, as you don't want black stripes running across your finest Egyptian Cotton...

Goodbye to Sandra-dee.

Tell me about it, stud... This fab 'Completely Devoted print from Soouk, that I bought from BHS compliments my upcycled rad perfectly.

As we were having our decking done by my lovely cousin's equally lovely hubby, I found a piece in the garden that I sanded down and with the addition of some leather strap that was hanging around (for decorative purposes only, there'll be no Christian Grey antics here, thankyouvellymuch), I had a shelf ready to use (with the expert execution of Tony, there was no way I was going to drill into the tiles myself). The grooves in the decking are fab for ensuring picture frames don't slip down and clobber you on the head while you're washing your money maker.

There's now a gap in my decking. Joking. Obvs.

So there you have it and I hope it's been more useful than a chocolate fireguard. Have a look below at the before and afters of our main bathroom and en suite!

Main bathroom before...

...and after! Note the reused shower screen and taps!

En suite before...

...and after. So much better.

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