10 commandments to live by when saving for a house

10 commandments to live by when saving for a house

I thought I'd write a bit about mine and Neil's story saving for our place and the cuts we had to make (and still have to) to acquire a big enough deposit to buy in the Brighton/Hove area whilst keeping maintenance costs of the property in mind. 

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3 guaranteed beautiful ways to style your mantelpiece [ideal for renters]

A mantelpiece is usually the heart of the home. It's your one opportunity to wow people when they enter the room, so if you get it wrong, or don't bother with it at all, it's a mega missed chance. 

The beauty of having a mantelpiece or fireplace which I'll go into below, is the versatility you have. Nothing has to stay the same and you can change it with some simple foliage or flowers to reflect every time of year. Winter garlands for Christmas, twigs and orange leaved branches for autumn, or a vase of peonies in late Spring. 

Below I'm sharing 3 foolproof ways you can make your mantelpiece stun people, all ideas are renter friendly too... bonus!


I'd say if you've just moved in, or if you're new to decorating and aren't as brave as you'd like to be (nothing to be ashamed of, we all have to start somewhere!) this style is a fantastic place to start. 

Choose 1 piece of large artwork that will:

a) be a talking point when people enter the room
b) be something linked to your lifestyle, background or personality
c) tie in or set the colour scheme for the room

Make sure your art work is roughly 3/4s of the width of your mantelpiece so it will anchor the fireplace and won't look too small and pathetic.

If you're renting, use 3D Command strips for nail free hanging. 

If you're strapped for cash (large works of art can be bloody expensive!) try buying the right size canvas for the wall and choose your favourite print wallpaper to paste over it and create your own work of art.

Then, add depth to the look with candlesticks, vases or trinkets that will soften up the harsh edges of the frame. 


Haven wallpaper by Feathr
120 x 100 blank canvas
Roller + tray set for pasting
Wallpaper paste


For the more experimental decorator, and ideal for people that want a new look on their mantelpiece with a more eclectic vibe, lean various sized artwork in front of each other.  

Some styling tips, to avoid your mantel looking too cluttered:

  • Begin with 1 or 2 pieces of art that add vertical height as staple pieces
  • Avoid too much redundant white space by making sure the staple art you're choosing is large enough for the mantelpiece
  • Next add square or rectangular wide pieces of art that's roughly half the vertical height of your staple piece
  • Finally, go wild on smaller pieces (stick to odd numbers, 3 or 5) and maybe introduce a circular frame or object to soften the edges


Print from Unlimited, Brighton
Art by Martin O'Neill and Unlimited Brighton
Frames in various sizes from Ikea


If you're lucky enough to have a period chandelier in your living room, this look would complete the room. A gilt or wooden ornate mirror that's large enough to fit the mantelpiece end to end gives a traditional feel without having to think too much about styling. 

The mirrors reflective elements mean that if you're in a rented flat with limited space, it'll open it up and make the room feel bigger.

I'd add traditional props with this if it's too simple for your taste. Think classic clocks, candelabras and thick garlands representative of each season. 


Mahogany framed mantelpiece mirror from Oak furniture
Gold spray paint to give the mirror a gilt effect
Newgate mantelpiece clock from Amara
Any of these looks are great, but I think the biggest tip to point out is... don't go for art or objects too small! It will look and feel a bit pathetic. You want grand and statement!

That's it. Hope you enjoyed my styling tips. 

Next post: The easy cost effective way to bring an eclectic vibe to your living room  ››

Main styled images found on McGrath2, Houzz, Savoy Home Blog, and Overmantels

A peek at Farrow + Ball's new countryside wallpaper collection + the one I've chosen

Country inspired Farrow and Ball wallpaper for the living room ››

You've probably noticed if you're wandering through the Fifi McGee archives that one of my favourite ways to spend a weekend is on a country walk. Those walks often inspire colour choices I go for in my outfits (autumnal shades of oranges, reds and browns) and interior plans (mustard cushions, fur textures and wild flower arrangements.) Farrow & Ball, a company every period home owner should - and do - know about for their quality paint and wallpaper, recently launched a wallpaper collection back in September and I am head over heels for it. They too are inspired by their very surroundings.

A country walk ››

The prints in their new collection were born from countryside scenes, hazy grasses and endless hedgerows in Dorset, the home of Farrow & Ball, the very place they craft and manufacture each sheet of wallpaper one by one. 

Country inspired Farrow and Ball wallpaper for the living room ››

Neil grew up playing as a kiddy in those very Wimborne fields, so the inspiration for the prints feel very close to us. Above (left to right) is Blostma, Hornbeam, and Feather Grass available in various other colour stories.

We've been looking for a fresh new look in our living room that's a little less "the previous owner" and a little more us, since the day we moved in. I always loved the Eating Room Red Farrow & Ball paint inside our alcoves (as seen) but felt like the colour story didn't quite match the Farrow & Ball Bone seen on the skirting boards (which run all throughout our flat). 

Country inspired Farrow and Ball wallpaper for the living room ››
Country inspired Farrow and Ball wallpaper for the living room ››

In need of colours and textures in line with our personalities, Farrow & Ball's Hornbeam wallpaper seemed a really obvious choice for us with the connection between Dorset, and the inspiration we get from country walks.  I saw the Hornbeam BP 5004 colour variation, took one look at it and said, "that's it".  Something I've never ever done before. It's previously taken me days if not weeks of wallpaper samples to choose. 

Country inspired Farrow and Ball wallpaper for the living room ››

As you'll see from the photographs I'm sharing, I've incorporated our love for country walks in wellies, picnics and tartan blankets - a regular scene on our weekends. Choosing wallpaper prints that have a story behind it, and represents the places we love is really important to us. Bringing in prints, textures and looks that represent your personality, upbringing or memories is the only way you'll ever make a house a home. 

Now, I just can't wait to start putting it all up on the wall and show you the finished result. 

Country inspired Farrow and Ball wallpaper for the living room ››

A little back story behind this post...

Farrow & Ball challenged me and fellow interior bloggers to create a country style vignette of our favourite past time, with one of their new wallpapers as a beautiful backdrop. This was my take on it :)

All of our creations will be shared on the Farrow & Ball pinterest really soon, where Charlotte Cosby, Farrow & Ball's Head of Creative will judge the best. One blogger will be picked by Charlotte to visit the Farrow & Ball factory in Dorset and see the process of everything being made, as well as visit some places that inspired the collection. I'm keeping everything crossed so I can take you with me for the ride <3