Monday, June 30, 2014

Living Arrows - 26/52

ISO 125, 50mm, f/2.2, 1/1600

I let Theo join in with washing the car yesterday. It was a bit more hazardous than I would have liked as most of our drive is taken up with a skip and various building materials and the car is sticking out into the road, but hazards aside he loved it. He got completely soaked through of course, but we all knew that was going to happen!

Photo wise, I realised when I sat down at the computer that I missed a trick with this shot. If I'd repositioned slightly I could have got the whole of his reflection in on the left. Seeing reflections is something I'm still trying to train myself to do as it doesn't come naturally...


living arrows

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Three Gates Gallery vintage giveaway

Three Gates Gallery stock

For the last few months my sister Jane has been working with her friend Fiona sourcing decorative antiques for their Surrey based business Three Gates Gallery.

Fiona is a triple Gold medal winner at Chelsea Flower Show who has transferred her garden design skills to interiors and Jane brings her marketing background and expertise as an interiors photographer to the website.

I must admit I'm more than delighted to be able to show off some of their photos and beautiful interior set ups on the blog today and to share with you some of their stock.

Three Gates Gallery Sale
Three Gates Gallery Sale
Three Gates Gallery Sale
Three Gates Gallery stock
Three Gates Gallery stock
Three Gates Gallery stock
Three Gates Gallery
Three Gates Gallery

Fiona has a great eye for decor and what's impressed me most is her ability to find really original decorative uses for vintage pieces. From repurposing bowling balls as bookends to creating lamps out of call ducks.

Three Gates Gallery stock
Three Gates Gallery stock

It's also been rather handy to have a sister with contacts to source exciting and original pieces for our new home. Though we aren't ready to decorate yet, I've already snapped up some of their lovely colourful lobster floats as well as a beautiful Amish metal star which now hangs in my studio. It's amazing how a few statement items can really add interest to a home.

Three Gates Gallery Sale
Three Gates Gallery Sale

Three Gates Gallery have a website and also hold invitation only sales twice a year. If you'd like to  find out more about the sales, you can sign up to their mailing list here.

The exciting news is that Jane & Fiona have offered me one of their lovely repurposed pieces to give away. This clever reuse of an iconic mason jar makes a beautiful feature soap dispenser. Three Gates Gallery sell this soap dispenser for £30 but for your chance to win one all you need to do is enter via the Rafflecopter below.

Three Gates Gallery Sale

Prize is one vintage mason jar soap dispenser for one winner. Competition entry via Rafflecopter. UK postal addresses only. Competition ends on Sunday 13th July at midday. No cash alternative. Winners will be announced on this blog post within 48 hours of the competition closing.

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Capturing Colour : Purple

Scabiosa - The butterfly plant

Purple has not been a particularly easy colour this week. In fact it was very telling that when I searched for it on Flickr (as I have been doing every week for inspiration) the only thing that came up were images of flowers. Purple does seem to be very prevalent in nature at the moment. My parents have at least three different plants with purple blooms out in their garden, but sadly we were a little early for the open day at our local lavender farm (and a little early for lavender in full bloom generally) but I did manage to capture some colour...


And a couple of purple images from my archive...

Summer skirt

That Lavender Farm open day I was talking about and Theo taking an irrational dislike to it last year...

Theo in the lavender fields

Next week's colour is yellow, don't forget to pop over and visit the other bloggers taking part...

Hayley at Shutterflies
Kirsty at My Two Mums 
Lucy at Capture By Lucy

...and you can join in yourself on Instagram with #capturingcolour 

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Navy & Lime HST Baby Quilt


I've just finished my second half square triangle baby quilt of 2014. I'm finding that with quilts, I am increasingly drawn to simpler colour schemes and simpler patterns.

I used to buy quite varied prints and then I found I didn't use them as much as dots, checks and stripes. This quilt is a classic example of how pairing those kind of patterns can look so clean and modern.

I've also noticed my eye has improved a lot since I started my Graphic Design degree. Nothing I can exactly put my finger on, but I'm bolder with colour choices and happier with the results.


The chevron/stripe binding is everywhere at the moment and this is actually the first time I have done it. I love the result though, whether original or not!


I backed the quilt with minky again. It's expensive (I want to weep when I see American quilters talking about buying it for $8 a metre!) but it makes the quilt feel so snuggly and luxurious.

I sent it off to its new home on Monday, rather reluctantly I have to admit as this is one I would have happily hung on to.


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Monday, June 23, 2014

Living Arrows - 25/52

ISO 100, 50mm, f/3.5, 1/200

When I publish my Living Arrows portrait I often get comments from people asking about how to take better images. There is a lot of advice available about how to improve your composition and the lenses to buy, but one thing that remained a mystery to me until about three years ago was processing images.

The image above is a processed image. The image below is straight out of camera. The difference isn't massive, but the alterations I have made help make the image more striking. I shoot RAW which enables me to alter my saturation and exposure (and other things if I want) in a non-destructive way, so that was the first step with this photo. I then took it into Photoshop where I sharpened the eyes and duplicated layers to play with the light. This last step I made up as I went along. I don't know Photoshop inside out, even after many years use I am still learning, so I use the Living Arrows project as an excuse to experiment every week.

By showing you this what I'm really trying to say is don't be disheartened if the images you download off your camera are lacking an X factor, they often do. Processing is a vital (and sometimes time consuming) step, but I think it's worth it.

living arrows

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

3 weeks to go : The highs and lows of a house remodel

I thought it was a good time for a little recap on our building works. The builders have been here for nearly 4 months and are due to finish in about three weeks. If you think you heard me say that before, you are not wrong. Three weeks seems to be a continual promise which never gets shorter, but I think this time they might mean it.

This week the plumber and electrician will complete the second fix, finishing the bathrooms, putting the radiators on the wall and fixing the lights and house alarm. The plastering is complete and this week the glass panels will be going in on the stairs and the first of the cladding should be going up on the outside of the house. Next week the decorators are coming in to do the mist coat, the top coats will hopefully follow shortly after. We'd intended to it ourselves to begin with but we rapidly realised what a huge job it is.

The scaffolders still haven't returned to remove the rest of the scaffolding which they started taking down four weeks ago. So we still can't see the views from the windows on three sides of the house. Scaffolders it seems, are a law unto themselves.

So far we have managed to keep broadly in budget. We had an (expected but very overdue) extras bill from the builder which was more than we had anticipated (I panicked because I always do about these things) but we managed to make big savings on carpets and wooden flooring last week so that  helped swing things back in the right direction.

As far as the flooring goes, it took us about 2 minutes to decide on our carpets and about 2 months to decide on our wooden flooring. We went all round the houses considering the merits of everything from Amtico to ceramic tiles for the ground floor, before eventually (yesterday) buying the very first wood floor I had looked at six months ago. It is engineered oak, click system and brushed and oiled as opposed to lacquered. It's quite rustic looking as we wanted something that would work with the wear and tear of two dogs and a small child, rather than against it.

When we have finished, there will be very little in the pot left for furniture and interiors, but we are lucky to be inheriting my parents old (enormous) red leather corner sofa and we have found a source for cheap decor weight fabric for curtains, which will save us a ton. I'm hoping to go back to Ardingly next month to pick up a few other bits of furniture too. We have the essentials, the rest can be bought over time.

We have made a few mistakes along the way during this build, but things have run smoother than we dared hope. We have encountered spectacularly good and bad customer service (should I name and shame?) and we've developed a huge amount of respect for the builders (though they've driven us loopy at times) Undoubtedly we have made a good investment for the future, but beyond that we have created the kind of home we simply couldn't have bought. I can't wait to move back in...

PS - If you are joining late and wonder what the house used to look like, see this post.

Love Chic Living and Love Your Home

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