Live amongst colour-they are there for a reason

Excerpt from “Downsize your home and regain your freedom’
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Use colours and let them into your life and home, it will cheer you up, stimulate the economy and distract you from every day niggles:)

Think ‘fashion’.

Think ‘season’.

“When we finish dressing ourselves, we dress our homes.”

Top designers, like Michael Kors, use a palate of three basic colours, one of which is often either black or white.

Its worth spending a few pounds on some coloured matching accessories and its worth changing them over twice a year in spring an autumn. It sounds fussy but trust me once you start it’s a welcome ritual.

Easy cheap immediate touches are;

Flat cotton toilet mats (thin ones like in European hotels are easier and cheaper to wash)

a rug somewhere

sheets/duvet set

towel set

bathroom toothbrush mug/glass/plastic

water glasses

table cloth

curtain /net

lampshade or two

coloured candles

throw blanket

plastic storage boxes to be left on show (retro ones with holes)

vases or pot plants

So choose your colour group.

This spring I used masses of lime green and bought every cheap item I come across that was a good quality, thick and rich colour.

Candles, plastic storage boxes, salad bowls/servers, picnic stuff etc in lime green. It goes so well with pinks, pale blues, yellows, oranges, and lemon.

If your base colour is white it’s a perfect mix and match but remember one of those colours have to dominate while the others hang as accents. They can’t all dominate.

This winter I will bring out all the reds, navy, dark green and anything else for the festive season. I can throw white and cream in as abase tone and a few gold or silver bits for sparkle. Go to Ralph Lauren and see what he does with the basics.

I have not thrown anything away from previous houses. Unless its broken, dirty or dangerous just give it another role e.g. towels to clean floors,,  old pillow cases use as under pillow case liners, old sheets can be dust covers for stored clothes.,,

Pick out the colours on the most important special focal item in the room, a painting, a lamp, a rug, a throw, or a vase.

Get down to Zara, Michael Kors, Prada, and Mui Mui and see what colours are in season and in what combinations.

The Italians lead in style, the USA follows hot on its tracks,  the English follow the USA (influential ‘buyers’ in home wares with MBA’s) and the French try to be different.

Change over the colours for the winter season so back in with reds, burgundies, greens, navy, browns , etc.

Change over for the summer season with limes, pinks, blues, and yellows.

Birds arrange twigs, and we arrange scatter cushions. It’s your nest and you can move stuff around to your hearts content and it’s the best cure for insomnia:)


To Light or not to Light.

Excerpt from “Downsize your home and regain your freedom’
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There is not much new these days to say about candles.

You either light them or you don’t.

The word candle originates from Middle English ‘candel’, from Latin ‘candela’ from before the 12th century and a quick glance at the unfathomable spendor of French Roccoco chandeliers, before the Revolution, shows us they reflect more than just light.

It also shows a preference for;

Looking good in soft lighting.

Hiding the room faults and marks on the carpets.

Saving on electricity or replacing odd lightbulbs long gone.

Trying to get romantic on some level.

Confusing your guest-they wont see much.

Adding a level of elegance to dinning.

Candles cannot make a smaller room look larger in size, but it can help hide what a box it really is. Cost has become a factor in lighting candles as, apart from Ikea small tea lights, they are getting pretty expensive.

If you can find a reasonably priced candelabra for the table, buy it and collect  all the tall coloured tapered candles on sale.

Popping a tea light into the top of a big expensive candle and not buying it down saves it last visually but there nothing of the aromatic smell or light.

Small candles laid out and spaced in lines give a pretty Four Seasons Hotel moment and best on patio’s, small gardens, walled spaces without much wind.

A very good expensive scented candle can perfume a room without even being lit which is especially good for bathrooms, halls, and bedrooms.

Turn big candles upside down and burn the other end if the wick has disappeared too deep inside to reach but pay special attention to where this thing will drip. Candle wax only comes off easily in the films.

T J Maxx has the best collection of well priced, boxed scented candles that make very good gift and cost the same as wine or chocolates. I give alot of candles  or insense sticks these days.

Expensive candles should only be lit with folks you really like:)) I have regretted wasting some great candles.

Madonnas trick of pouring hot wax onto a bare chested man does not work as either he has to be a masochist, or accuses you of assult, after all, it cant be ironed off.

Do not get drunk, cause a fire and burn the house down with a 50p candle.

The basics

Excerpt from “Downsize your home and regain your freedom’
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Lets face it, if your downsizing it might be for many reasons, a few of which might be;

Moving to a new city/country, money problems, divorce, job loss, death, taking the equity out of your present residence, kids all left home, too old for stairs, mortgage areas, gardens and upkeep, etc, etc.

Who knows, but what is vastly underestimated is the numbers of those of us who are ‘downsizing’. We are never mentioned. We are almost invisible. We are silent.

Its as if everyone is always moving up? They are not. Its not true. There’s a two way traffic. Those going up and the rest of us going down, downsizing, sometimes as quickly as possible, to avoid many circumstances.

We spend a lifetime working and dreaming for the best and biggest residence to show the world who we are or want to be,  but its not like that any more.

Films and dreams are not created in one beds, studios and bungalows, but living as a slave to your residence is a joke, so changes sometimes have to be made-downwards.

I lived in five homes, on two continents, in three countries, and in two states, simultaneously, and downsized before the SHTF.

Its not a punishment, a shame, or a failure to downsize, and this is a point I will keep returning to.

Its hard to move 5 kitchens into 1, its hard to move 5 wardrobes into 1 and its even harder to store 35 high ball cutlass Ralph Lauren glasses into a cupboard for 6, but it had to be done, so lets get on a do it.

Importantly, we also will ha to identify what makes it ‘a pleasure,’ and what makes it ‘a punishment,’ clearly from the beginning, or life is going to get confused and miserable

Plenty of personal philosophy is whats needed here, and a clear view on your future lifestyle, and goals.

Dishes you can’t make in small kitchens:)

Excerpt from “Downsize your home and regain your freedom’ Amazon and Kindle

Lobster thermirdor (go out for dinner)

Whole roast pig/lamb/goat/turkey (go on holiday)

Croissant (find french bakery)

Baked Alaska (it’s not even in restaurants these days)

Your own pastry ( buy  Waitrose ‘all butter’ ready made)

Stuffed goose (no room for fate geese)

Wedding cake (even a cup cake would be a challenge)

Bouillabaisse (buy in Selfridges)

Do not bring home live animals, do not set up a distillery, do not grow vegetables indoors and do not try to make a compost heap…they smell and annoy the neighbours.

Concentrate on what you can do-not what you can’t.

Do not see this a ‘limitation’ but more of a ‘freedom’.

I never made any of these dishes when iI had huge kitchens and now I can’t.

All the labour saving devices you buy, only end up owning you.

Years ago we had a freezer the size of a large coffin which we never thought we could fill. We did. But forgot what was in there and hardly ate the food at the bottom. It’s a symptom of bygone age when ‘more was more’ and ‘less’ was a misery. We sold the property, with the freezer, and I bet its still there..

Books you hang onto.

Excerpt from “Downsize your home and regain your freedom’
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Get rid of them. Cleanse.

Unless they are meaningful to you, educational, future reference material, large coffee table , valuable, with great photos,  get rid of them. Be kind and give them to a charity.

No one is.impressed by your ability to read. We all read these days, Its not the 17th century.

They collect dust, take up space and smell. Same with old magazines and papers. They all turn to dust and clog your lungs.

Buy a kindle

Do not collect news papers past a week old. Keep only expensive magazines,  and National Geographic mag are acceptable in the bathroom.

Give the others to the local launderette, dentist, doctors, hairdressers or leave them on the stairs. They won’t be there for long. Same with old CD, tapes,videos. Let someone find them and make their day.

Books can really bring out a stubborn side of a person. We think they represent ‘who we are’ .

They don’t…they represent what we ‘read once some time ago,’ which is only part of the story.

You don’t have space as your are ‘downsizing’ not trying to live in a library. Say good bye , thank you and pass the book on.

Repair, repair, repair!

Excerpt from “Downsizing your home with style and regain your freedom’
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If you lived in a hut you would have to slap new mud on the walls at least once a week, find, cut and throw leaves onto the roof, scrape up the gravel or chicken shit by the front door or squash a few snakes and bugs who were too close for comfort.

So whats new? You might be renting and you might be resentful but a few home repairs are going to be needed. Get moving to

The Pound Shop, the local cheap market, the local handy man store and buy the basics and store them in one of those nice clean bright plastic boxes our Chinese cousins are making for us.

A screw driver (philips and normal)

WD 40 -cheap beds and cheap doors always squeak and ruin your sleep


super strong drain cleaner liquid down every drain

gaffer tape

kitchen scissors

bug spray




spare light bulb

small remote batteries (the remote batteries ONLY DIE on the weekend after 5.00pm when its raining!!!)

nails (as you go)

packet fuses


If you buy them cheap it might cost about £10.00 the lot but will be ‘priceless’ on a day of need.

Don’t watch the place collapse around you.

I always tell and explain to my landlords and they think Im marvellous as I get us all involved and chipping in on the costs.


If the room is white/cream/pale grey etc don’t ask just paint it.

The reason is the following: when you lie in bed at night and look over the walls and ceiling noticing every past movement that room has had to endure ITS IRRITATING. If you didn’t make the marks its maddening an if you did make the marks its maddening.

Get rid of the marks and have clean, calm, quiet, inactive, harmonious, empty, smooth walls. You will sleep better.

It takes half a day. MOve the furniture into the middle. Scotch the doors and windows and put down some plastic. Whip open that virgin new paint with the wonderful aroma of chemicals, get the radio on, the clothes off and paint that room.

Use colour on one feature wall if the budget is tight. DO NOT use the darker colour at then ends of the rooms, around the windows as the brings the room in smaller.

If you are stylish and want a rich, darker, creamy shade you can break up that wall with a well planned gallery of pics or black/white large photos etc. More on that later.

Disinfect and wash showers, all walls, fix the groat and bleach everything including the bathroom light pull cord!

Spray 99% Anti bacterial spray on everything- including the air when you go out- for at least a month–mind the walls it drips down paint.

Clear all drains with Super Drain Cleaner every month. Rid yourself on what smells might come up, crud thats gathered or grease that formed so you start afresh.

Buy a new bathroom Lino floor from some offcuts outside a shop and cover the old cleaned one if replacing it is too complicated.

Buy a new loo brush and toilet seat. A new throne means a new rule. Sit in comfort and rule.

Plug holes in walls with polyfiller or paint or wash the doors with sugar soap. Put draught brush strips on the bottom of doors to block dust and stuff.

Fix and change all locks and get keys copied. WD 40 hinges and locks.

Buy a lampshade and side lamps as lighting is everything in a room and remove high overhead ugly light bulbs from ceilings.

Put down washable mats on wooden floors next to the beds, hallways, or kitchens. Put up mirrors or several small cheap ones in a line opposite windows to reflect light.

Kill rodents and bugs with all products needed like WW 111. Poor people tend to live alongside animals and have a much higher tolerant I notice where are rich folks simply do not. It might be religious, laziness or they just don’t know how to.

Buy a fire alarm, place in stair well etc, and the battery and test it frequently!

Double glaze windy broken wooden windows with plastic sheeting, selotape which will save on electricity. There are easy kits to buy to insulated glass windows.Block loose wooden window frames with supermarket clear plastic food bags to stop the droughts.

Replace or turn over mattresses. Buy a cheap Primark double/King duvet to put OVER the mattress and UNDER the sheets for padding as its washable and a lot cheaper than fitted mattress covers.

Buy or wash ALL pillows and use cheap Primark pillowcases as liners ‘e.g.’ double pillow cases.

Take down and return to landlord all old dirty curtains and buy new ready made Primark nets and curtains. Find the launderette for large items and wash everything every season.

Nail down or gaffer tape old stair carpet. its a difficult one as ‘no one’ owned the stair cleaning job. I bought a huge quantity of perfumed powered carpet deodoriser and threw it over everywhere like snow. If they weren’t going to clean the stairs it would certainly smell nice and they could now walk/tread all this in. I made my point.

Bleach or spray the communal bannisters and lift buttons.

Do not smoke inside and sell the cat or dog-they also smell:)

Every time the wind blows ‘the hut needs repair’ and its an ongoing war against nature. I think once a month should keep things in check.

Take photos of problems and email with dates and explanations. Keep a copy of all complaints letters

Make friends with the landlord as they are normally not so bad. I like my tenants and I knew what misery they could impose on my life via my property!! Give them a bit of sympathy and show you care so its not all about ‘us and them’ and if that doesn’t work…

I was wrong! So move.