Saturday, 30 August 2014

How to decorate your guest room on a budget (using new furniture)

Anybody else really into Scandinavian interior decorating?

So I've kinda really gotten hooked on Scandinavian design. A few hours on the "Home Decor" boards on Pinterest will do that to anyone!

We recently opened up our apartment here in Strasbourg to paying guests who can reserve a room on Airbnb. The room itself was a blank canvas - recently painted white by the previous occupier (unlike most of the other rooms - who paints a bathroom floor to ceiling in concrete-grey?!?).

I'd spent some time (too much time) on Pinterest looking for inspiration, and the simplicity and bold colours of modern Nordic interiors caught my eye. Think: white, neutral base (furniture, walls) with bold colour features (throw pillows, colour-dipped furniture, statement objects). We were lucky (or unlucky, depending on how you look at it!) to start with nothing for the room - I mean, not a single piece of furniture to put in it. Since we have an IKEA close by with a fantastic shuttle bus service to get us from the tram stop to IKEA and back (a godsend to those without a car), we were able to stock up there and shop at the home of Scandinavian design! And, no, this isn't a promotional blog piece about IKEA ; )

Since we're on a tight budget at the moment, we needed to decorate as inexpensively as possible, yet still appeal to people looking to rent the room. We considered going "second-hand" and buying some things through the classifieds but by the time we sorted through the time-wasters (one ad we contacted was selling a bed with a mattress that was 10cm too short for the frame - which conveniently wasn't mentioned in the ad) and figuring out how to transport it, we concluded that buying everything new and on-the-cheap from IKEA was the way to go for us. And besides, I kind of get the heebeegeebees from used stuff anyway (second-hand mattresses in particular!). You think I'm weird - you should see my sister around library books! Grossed out is an understatement! (Hi Nadja, love you!)

Starting with the most important piece of the room - the bed - we took the most inexpensive frame on offer - FJELLSE - at €35, plus slats, we couldn't balk at that price for a brand new bed! We also picked up a stool to use as a bedside table (Scandinavians being all about simplicity and clean lines!) - which kept our final costs way down. A simple rug under €20 and a few bits and pieces to provide not only the basics, but some comfort too.

The only things we did have already which we added to the room was an oval shaped mirror and two picture frames that we put up on a picture shelf, along with a votive candle and a lucky bamboo in a small vase to add an organic touch. I'd seen many examples of framed guest room wifi passwords and printed up our own network and wifi codes so that they could connect right away (and not have to re-ask for it in case their device forgot the network or something). I always loved that idea and planned to use it for future house-guests and I finally had the chance to do it with our paying-guests. We also added a ladder-backed chair to hang fresh towels (also in our chosen colour scheme), a tissue box and a couple of water bottles in case they got thirsty.

We stayed with a simple colour scheme - white base with a bold electric blue throw blanket to brighten up the simple bed sheets, and some rainbow-striped throw cushions to add a slash of colour. We thought the room still looked a little too sterile behind the bed, so we painted a feature wall in a pale blue to add a bit of cosiness to the room. I think the effect is quite nice, if I may be so self-congratulaing! We still want to add a few finishing touches, like a couple of large picture frames on the walls (with photos of the local area) and some wall lamps and a shelf above the bed. A small wall-mounted TV would also be nice when we have a bit more funds.

I'm quite proud of it - seeing as we're on a tight budget, we got the look we wanted and have already received reservations. I guess some others out there like it too!

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Latest news...

A lot has happened since my last post. Things got a bit hectic at the start of the year, so we decided to take some time in Australia to visit my family. The Little Sausage finally got to see her grandparents and younger aunt and I got to cure that bout of homesickness that just wouldn't go away. A win-win in my books! So we spent about 4 months in Australia. It was nice to be home but also a little scary. Nothing had changed in the 8 years I'd been gone! Life went on but Canberra is still just as it was when I left the first time. Apart from leaving my family behind, I was glad to return to Europe.

So, where in the world are we now? For a long time now, we wanted to return to Strasbourg, as we had lived there briefly while I was pregnant with the Little Sausage. We moved away only due to necessity and whilst we enjoyed living in all the other cities since then, we knew that we wanted to return to Strasbourg to live one day. So here we are. Strasbourg: Capital of Alsace; home of choucroute, kougelhopf, and flamekueche; and super magical Christmas land. We have settled in to an AMAZING city-centre apartment, that we found out is from the 1500s! It has plenty of character (i.e. the walls are not straight and the floor slants downwards!) and it has the most amazing view of the cathedral. The only downsize is the noise at night. 1:30am seems to be a very popular time for bars to close and hence all those drunk/tipsy people walking home... we are trying to find a long-term solution to blocking out some of the noise. For now, I sleep with a pillow over my head.

We arrived here in Strasbourg at the beginning of summer and it's been a mixture of warm, sometimes hot, and mostly humid and rainy weather - not something I'm used to from summers back home! I am still adjusting to having so much rain in summer, as well as day-to-day temperature fluctuations. My French has plateaued and while I can get by easily ordering food, buying things, or most little everyday tasks - the big stuff still eludes me. I'm looking into joining a language exchange group just so I can move things forward because it's getting a bit old being given the pity look every time I try to say something out of my comfort zone.

I'm posting a daily regularly on Instagram (@kangaroo_sweet) so you can join me there to see that daily goings on...

Meanwhile, here are some highlights to bring you up to date!