Interiors: Bright ideas in the home

House of Lovely Stuff, Essex LivingFrom renovated sofas to bright colours on your wall, Leigh-based House of Lovely Stuff’s Jo Bolter tells why it pays to be bold when it comes to interior design…

Q How did House of Lovely Stuff come about?

A I grew up in a house sewing, designing, drawing, cooking, making and creating. But like most families I had no idea that normal people did this as a job, so I left school and started working in a local bank. I met my husband who was a graphic designer and art director and we’ve always enjoyed a shared interest in photography, going to the cinema, gigs, galleries and decorating (the designing bit) our home.

House of Lovely Stuff, Essex LivingBut the catalyst came one day when our youngest daughter came in from school moaning about her homework. It was Eighties week and she had to design an Eighties outfit. I happily explained to her that when I was her age (in the Eighties) I spent hours and hours designing clothes and occasionally making them for fun. My husband said, “Really? You designed and made your own clothes? Why did you stop?”

The answer was sad but simple. The school system/syllabus doesn’t value creativity so when it came to choosing my options I could only choose one creative subject. I loved cooking and I loved textiles. I chose home economics and then as I concentrated on passing my exams.

A couple of weeks later my mum decided to buy a new sewing machine. She asked if I wanted her old one, it was a bit tired but could do a job. I made a cushion. It went okay. I made another one. I started to match fabrics together, playing about with angles, prints and textures. I was happiest experimenting and making. Friends started to take notice. Then I was asked if my cushions were for sale. Sure, I said. And before I knew it a few more friends and friends of friends were interested. Continue reading

Today I’m loving… The Dressmaker, in Leigh-on-Sea

Katy Pearson, Gary Pearson and Sonny Jim

My perfect post-pregnancy outfit

When one of your husband’s best friends is getting married just seven weeks after you’ve given birth, figuring out what to wear is something of a challenge.

It’s not like it’s worth buying something while you’re still pregnant because, let’s face it, you’ve got no idea what your post-baby figure is going to look like. And yes, you’ve got loads of nice frocks in your closet, but who wants the spectre of your pre-pregnancy size eight clothes looming that large that soon after a little person has vacated your being. Why put yourself in that I-can’t-get-it-over-my-bum-let-alone-zip-it-up hell any sooner than you need to? Which leaves you shopping for something new. With a newborn. And your baby belly still very much in evidence. Which is *not* the kind of thing shopping trip dreams are made of. Continue reading