Have you heard of Trouva? I’m obsessed.

Whether it’s in London or I’m on a staycation somewhere else in the UK, my favourite days comprise of good food and good local shopping. There’s nothing like stepping into a carefully curated independent shop where the talent doesn’t stop at the products stocked. Each indie shop tells a story and showcases the owner’s creative flair for visual merchandising. They’re inspiring to browse and the best way to discover new brands and design talent.

While there is a counter surge towards people buying local and supporting their high streets, big chains and high prices too often force out our indie shops. That’s where Trouva comes in. Trouva is a platform for wonderful independent boutiques that have a bricks-and-mortar presence. It gives owners the technology to reach more people and aspires to create a stronger community between people like me who love these boutiques and their owners.

Want to discover more? Here are five great reasons to love Trouva. I know, I’m aware that I’m starting to sound like a #ad, but it’s all me, I promise!

Inside Trouva boutique Cassius & Coco, Chiswick

Inside London Trouva boutique Cassius & Coco

1. The Feel-Good Factor

Trouva allows you to support talented designers and talented boutique owners. It helps you to find new favourites and watch them grow. You’ll also soon discover you have a long list of boutiques you’ll want to visit in person someday, too.

2. The Style

Regretting not buying those beautiful bowls you saw that time in Edinburgh? You’ll probably find them on Trouva. It’s a great way to buy something different and get your hands on hard-to-find homewares. The site helps you to fill your home with unique products and give more interesting gifts than those from the high street. It’s on-trend with an artisan twist – altogether more interesting! And it’s not just homewares, the platform is full of fashion and lifestyle accessories too.

3. The Quality

Trouva claim that they are particularly picky when it comes to choosing boutiques and their products and it shows. Everything fits together perfectly and mimics the boutique experience when you shop online. It’s user-friendly, a joy to browse and you know the items you choose will be of a high quality.

4. The Personal Touch

When you buy from Trouva, you’re buying from a physical store. There’s no one-size fits all for the packaging you receive inside your box – you might get a handwritten note, postcard or perfectly wrapped items in tissue paper. This is the community feel and it’s the definition of happy post.

5. The Clincher

You’re probably thinking, “it sounds pretty good, but how does this work logistically?” The best part is that you can buy from as many boutiques as you like during one purchase and the delivery fee is the same! It’s quite dangerous, actually…

With these reasons, you’d be mad not to give Trouva a whirl. Wondering where to start? Take a look at the full list of boutiques on Trouva or start following their blog, it’s pretty cool. If you have heard of it, have you got a favourite boutique? I’d love to check it out!

with love, b.xo

 

While London’s not short on green spaces, gardens are a luxury in the capital. Living in a garden-less one-bed, my window box just doesn’t suffice. This means that if I pay a visit to one of my favourite London plant shops, I can rarely bear to leave empty handed! In true #JungalowStyle, I’m on a mission to fill my home with greenery and satisfy my passion (addiction) for botanical-inspired interiors. Although a few have been sacrificed along the way, I’m slowly getting better at caring for my plant family and can identify the needy ones.

As the trend for cacti, succulents, ferns and pretty much anything else that looks mildly exotic, is going nowhere fast, I’d thought I’d share some of my favourite spots to buy houseplants in London. They’re also well worth a trip if you’re feeling a bit fed-up with the urban jungle.

Forest London

Best for: unusual plants

Buying Houseplants in London at Forest London in Deptford

Shelves of plant pots at Forest London in Deptford

I’d been waiting to tick Forest London off my botanical bucket list for a while. Their Instagram posts promise a haven of greenery with plants trailing from the ceiling, but, as a West Londoner, I was a little put off by the locations in East Dulwich or Deptford. I eventually made it to the Deptford shop and it was exactly what I’d hoped for. Packed with unusual plants and an incredible range of beautiful pots, Forest London is an affordable choice for houseplant fans. The team is friendly, knowledgeable and will also pot up your plant in your chosen pot, before carefully wrapping it. Although smaller than some of the other spots on this list, nearly every surface is covered in green. In other words, you’re spoilt for choice and will struggle to know what to choose (given the trek, buy as much as you can carry, I’d say).

How to get to Forest London in Deptford

Forest London is right outside/underneath Deptford station, in Deptford Yard Market, a development of shops and restaurants under the railway arches. It’s just one stop, or a six minute overground train journey, from London Bridge, making it the perfect location to visit before or after browsing Borough Market. I dare you to leave Forest London or even Borough Market empty handed – it’s nearly impossible!

Opening hours: 10am-6pm Monday to Saturday, 10am-4pm on Sundays

Address: 137, Deptford Market Yard, Deptford High St, SE8 3NU

Petersham Nurseries in Covent Garden

Best for: gifts, pots and accessories

Petersham Nurseries Covent Garden

I’ve already dedicated a post to Petersham Nurseries in Covent Garden as I loved it that much. The younger sibling to the original Petersham Nurseries in Richmond, their Convent Garden lifestyle store is the perfect pit-stop for plants in central London. Filled with a vast array of foliage, furniture and homewares, Petersham Nurseries is a great choice for gifts and treating yourself. The shop is immaculately laid out and offers plenty of pots, baskets and rustic garden-style accessories to complement your plant babies.

How to get to Petersham Nurseries in Covent Garden

Petersham Nurseries is in central London, a short walk from tube stations Covent Garden (Piccadilly Line) and Leicester Square (Northern Line and Piccadilly Line).

Opening hours: 10am-8pm Monday-Friday, 12pm-6pm on Sundays

Address: 27-31 King St, WC2E 8JB

Columbia Road Flower Market

Best for: getting the most plant for your pennies and enjoying a truly London experience

House plants at Columbia Road

Succulents at Columbia Road Flower Market

Next is one of East London’s most popular markets, Columbia Road. It’s blooming with flowers and plants come Sunday morning. If you don’t like tight spaces, be warned, it gets very, very busy. To me, this adds to the charm, but it can get quite intense if you visit during peak times (10.30am-1pm).

Aside from the immense choice – there’s everything at Columbia Road, the incredible prices will keep dragging you back (and out of bed) on a Sunday morning. Three bunches of tulips for £10? Yes, that’s right. A huge, sturdy succulent for £4 and a young cheese plant for £8? You’re not dreaming, you can find bargain houseplants in London. There are also permanent shops selling pots, lifestyle accessories and tea and coffee, so you’ve got the makings of a great Sunday morning. And if London’s drizzle is getting you down, the market’s colours will brighten your entire being (and your home). That’s my kind of self-care.

Tips for visiting Columbia Road

  • Take plenty of cash (if you’re weak like me, you’ll buy a lot and it’s fair walk back to the cash points along Bethnal Green Road)
  • Bring sturdy flat-bottomed bags. The traders will often give you a plastic carrier bag which means your beautiful plants will face a perilous journey home on the tube
  • Check out all the stalls to compare prices and quality before buying
  • Arrive around 9am and you’ll be able to browse the sea of cut flowers and plants more freely

How to get Columbia Road Flower Market

Take the tube to Bethnal Green (Central Line) or Old Street (Northern Line) and follow your phone’s map (and the many other visitors) to the market – roughly 10-15 minutes from Bethnal Green station. To those who don’t know the area well (myself included), Columbia Road seems to appear magically among residential buildings – follow the flowers and you’ll find it!

Address: Columbia Road, E2 7RG

Trading hours: around 8am-3pm on Sundays

Kew Gardens

Best for: escaping the city and getting inspired

Spiral Staircase at the Palm House at Kew Gardens

If you fancy a day trip without leaving London, Kew is a great way to spend a relaxing Saturday or Sunday. After wandering around the park, you can escape into one of the many glasshouses. The iconic Palm House is the ultimate #jungalow, complete with spiral staircases that look down on the canopy below. You’ll have plenty of opportunities for Insta snaps. And if you love cacti, don’t skip a visit to the impressive Princess of Wales Conservatory. After you’re feeling inspired, you’ll struggle to leave without a purchase from the Victoria Plaza shop. They’ve also got plenty of plant food to help you keep any needy plants going.

How to get to Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens tube station is on the District Line, or you can arrive by train to Kew Bridge. If you’re driving, there’s a large car park (paid). Though, it’s best to arrive early at the weekend for a space. You can also catch the 65 bus.

Address: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AE

Opening hours: 10am-5.45pm

Wheeler’s of Turnham Green

Best for: urban gardening

Nestled alongisde Turnham Green tube station is one of London’s urban garden centres, Wheeler’s of Turnham Green. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden or want to do some potting up, head to this W4 treasure trove of pots, plants and everything in between.

How to get to Wheeler’s of Turnham Green

The clue’s in the name. Exit Turnham Green tube station (District Line and Piccadilly Line) and you’ll find Wheeler’s on your right. You can also get the 94 bus. If you turn left and follow Turnham Green Terrace towards Chiswick High Road, you’ll find great independent boutiques and food shops. Cassius & Coco is a firm favourite and also stocks beautiful houseplants, like calatheas and ferns.

Address: Cato’s Yard, Turnham Green Terrace, Chiswick, W4 1LR

Opening Hours: 9am-6pm

We might be living in the city, but there are plenty of places to stock up on greenery and enjoy some urban gardening at every budget. Have I missed a hidden gem? I’m always on the look out for new London plant shops to discover, so feel free to get in touch!

 

 

 

 

19 Greek Street is an event and pop-up space, or rather, a four-floor townhouse that’s had more makeovers than you’d dare believe was possible. A few months ago, I headed here for the IKEA House Party to celebrate the brand’s 30th birthday. Each floor was designed to reflect a decade of IKEA collections and interior styling. This time, I returned to visit home renovation site Houzz’s takeover and it was hard to believe it was the same space!

Design agency Run For The Hills were tasked with transforming the townhouse into a shoppable experience (all items were available on Houzz) that reflected 2018’s biggest trends and what users were looking for on the Houzz site. Oh, and they had just three days to install it all. I imagine it felt like a home makeover TV show when you’re up against the clock, except the outcome was a lot more chic, and lot less MDF. Thankfully.

2018’s Biggest Trends depicted by Houzz

The townhouse, wedged snuggly into position on a busy Soho street, is a true escape from city life below. Modeled as a family home, 19 Greek Street welcomed a kitchen-dining room, master bedroom and bathroom and child’s bedroom. Here are some of 2018’s anticipated interiors trends that were captured in the styling of each floor:

Warmer colours

The event was in collaboration with Dulux, so their chosen colour of the year for 2018 featured heavily. It’s a warm pinky colour called Heart Wood – it’s a more adult tone than the recently popular millennial pink. Overall, colours were richer and warmer than we’ve seen in recent years, but didn’t feel heavy.

Houzz of 2018 Living Room

2018 Bedroom Decor - Houzz of 2018

Modern artisan-boho style

Tassels, fringing and layers galore. I’m really enjoying this style and the use of woven textiles and modern crafts for blankets, baskets, rugs and cushions. Taking rugs from the floor to display on the walls instead, also looks like a trend to watch this year. The designers contrasted the boho-inspired materials with plush velvets.

Spa bathrooms

The space dedicated to the bathroom was large (well, enormous compared to what you can expect in your average London flat) and featured two basins, a freestanding tub and huge walk-in shower. This area had more of an industrial vibe – metals mixed with marble and dark woods. It builds on the trend of lavish spa bathrooms and a desire to break the mold of classic all-white tiling and walls.

Terrazzo Bathroom Decor - Houzz

Houzz Industrial Style Bathroom

Houzz of 2018 Bathroom

Plants aplenty

There were plenty of houseplants dotted around the townhouse – so don’t worry if you’ve fallen for succulents, terrariums and montseras, this trend looks like it’s staying (thank goodness.)

Terrazzo

Pinterest predicts terrazzo to be big in 2018 and I spotted a few accents around 19 Greek Street. Jesmonite (a mix of cement, plaster and water-based plastic resin) can also create a similar flecked look. It’s also said to be on the rise.

Creative bedrooms for kids

The child’s bedroom was creative, playful and imaginative, encouraging out-of-the-box design and decor. The feature wall was one of my highlights of the entire townhouse. Statement frames and relaxed gallery walls were also a fun feature of the pop-up, even if some of these prints are more grown-up. And how great is the geometric mirror?

 

I left the pop-up feeling inspired (and wishing I could paint my rented flat!) I’m looking forward to sharing more on the year’s biggest trends and how I incorporate them into my little slice of London. What trends are you most excited about this year?

with love, b.xo

So, you’ve found a beautiful glass terrarium and you’re itching to fill it with plants. You’ve googled ‘how to build a terrarium’, but the reams of info online has left you scratching your head. Where to start? Are all the steps necessary? Do I need special soil? How often should I water my terrarium? You’ve watched a few videos, but really, you’re just keen to get your new accessory on display and pronto. After successfully keeping my terrarium alive for a good few months now, I thought I’d share some terrarium tips for the impatient indoor gardener.

How to build a terrarium

How to Build a Terrarium the Easy Way

 

The Bare Essentials for Open Terrarium Building and Care:

  • an open glass receptacle
  • mini cacti and succulents
  • small stones or pebbles (extra if you want to cover the top for a ‘decorative’ look)
  • houseplant compost
  • tweezers or kitchen towel
  • a spray bottle/plant mister

 

  1. Choose your receptacle – a glass terrarium with an opening works well for cacti and succulents by encouraging air flow and reducing moisture.
  2. Choose your plants – a mix of succulents and cacti work well together because they need a similar level of water (limited!)
  3. Fill the base of your terrarium with a layer of small pebbles or stones. This is really important to create drainage and ensure the roots of the plants don’t sit in water.
  4. Add a layer of potting compost (many guides say cacti compost, but my house plant compost has worked just fine).
  5. Mentally envisage where each plant will fit in the terrarium – prickly cacti are hard to maneuver, especially in small spaces! Use kitchen towel or long tweezers to gently move the plants into position. Avoid placing any plants too close to the glass edges so they have space to grow.
  6. Fill in the gaps around the plants with more soil and push down lightly to pack the plants into place.
  7. Mist the terrarium lightly.
  8. Sprinkle some more decorative stones or pebbles on the top of the soil to finish the look.

Terrarium FAQs: Oliver Bonas terrarium with succulents and cacti

Terrarium Building FAQs

How often should you water your terrarium?

If your terrarium is made of cacti and succulents, mist it with a spray bottle every 10-14 days or so. But, only if the soil looks and feels dry. Cacti and succulents won’t survive if you drown them! They’re more likely to survive if you forget about them for a while, rather than over-doing the watering.

Does a terrarium need direct sunlight?

Terrariums should be placed in a sunny location but not in direct sunlight. They are essentially mini greenhouses – too much sun and you’ll cook your plants!

Do you have to use activated charcoal in a terrarium?

Not really. Activated charcoal is a useful drainage layer to pull out excess moisture from the soil. It ensures your plants’ roots aren’t sitting in water. Having said that, if you don’t have any to hand, a good drainage layer of pebbles or stones will be fine for cacti and succulents (as long as you aren’t over-watering!)

Where should I place my terrarium?

Avoid direct sunlight, but the location should be sunny. Avoid placing your terrarium near a radiator or underfloor heating, again, this can ‘cook’ the plants and dry them out very quickly.

Potting soil, cacti and succulent plants for terrariums

There’s a lot of information out there if you’re looking to create a closed terrarium which acts like its own ecosystem. For serial plant killers, the open variety using cacti and succulents (above)  is a much easier version to look after. Just remember, mist, don’t water!

How did your turn out?

with love, b.xo

 

Wall art transforms a house into a home. From modern prints to photos of your favourite humans and furry companions, the wall art you choose tells the story you want it to, whether that’s showing off your personality, making a statement or sharing memories. It’s a fun part of decorating, but going gallery-shopping to kit out your home with paintings and original prints comes with a hefty price tag. I’m sharing some affordable ways to fill up those blank walls, from where to source prints and posters online to more creative solutions.

Wallpaper as affordable art prints

Online sources for affordable prints and posters

  • Papio Press

Papio Press’ beautiful prints remind me of folklore stories – they feature animals, quotes and botanicals. Designed by a husband and wife duo, Papio Press is also a conscious choice for those who like to shop small. Nearly all of their products are printed in the UK by other small businesses. Plus, the paper they use is 100% recycled. Prices are very affordable and they stock a range of stationery to complement the prints.

  • Desenio

Desenio creates Scandi-inspired poster prints of botanicals, florals, landscapes and nearly everything in between. Colours are mostly muted or moody – ideal for sophisticated areas of the house. Even being based in Sweden, delivery times are pretty good and prices even better.

  • Rifle Paper Co.

Created by another husband and wife team, this time from the States, Rifle Paper Co. is now becoming increasingly popular for its colourful and cheerful stationery and prints in the UK. To inject colour and fun into a room, or to add to a feature wall, prints from Rifle Paper Co. are the perfect choice. I particularly love their maps and impressions of different cities around the world.

For UK stockists, try Papermash and Northlight Homestore.

  • Trouva

Trouva is a great place to discover new illustrators and support small businesses. You’ll also find Rifle Paper Co. and Papio Press in some of Trouva’s boutiques too. Prices do range, but there’s definitely something for everyone.

Other creative, affordable ways to fill your walls

  • Wallpaper Samples

Wallpaper samples make a good choice for substitute wall art because they’re very affordable, or even better, free! Plus, they’re generally quite thick and of good quality. Choose statement wallpaper or bold patterns for the most impact – botanical prints are always a good choice. Like wallpaper, high quality wrapping paper from Oliver Bonas, Katie Leamon and similar also makes for an affordable option, especially for larger frames.

  • Cards

Creating a feature wall? Postcards, greetings cards or even quote cards from somewhere like Kikki.K can all make great additions to a gallery wall space. You can often find miniature versions of your favourite paintings and prints too.

After writing this, I’m itching to update my prints. Renting makes covering your home in wall art slightly more challenging, but the non-wall damaging alternatives to nails are truly great. Whoever invented Command Strips deserves some sort of wall-related accolade. Have you got plans to create a gallery wall or update any blank spaces this year?

with love, b.xo