Three things I learnt at Blogtacular 2016

Hi All,

I know I haven’t been writing for a while now, but the upcoming secretgardenhome wedding has taken over all my spare time, so I only Instagram to keep my blogging spirit alive.

However, I somehow managed to finally attend a Blogtacular event last weekend, and no regrets there.

I had such an amazing time and left with tons of inspiration for the upcoming months. I’ve been thinking of changing this blog into something a bit more art and culture focused, and now I’ve got confidence to do it. Probably after the wedding this summer, but I’m determined to do it.

Three things I learnt last weekend are:

The Blogging community is still alive and kicking

I went for an alternative Blogtacular Photowalk North organised by lovely Carie and met so many like-minded ladies, who are not only passionate about craft, creative arts and colour like me, but who are also really nice people whose company I truly enjoyed.

Blogtacular photowalk north

It was a great way to meet new people before the conference the next day. Special thanks to Elena who hung out with me for most of the day. She’s a very talented illustrator, so please check her work here.

Also, I finally met one of the fellow bloggers Mary from The Happy Flat. I’ve been a fan for a long time, but never met her before, so thanks to Blogtacular we finally got to know each other. So exciting!

Blogtacular 2016

Embracing ‘wabi sabi’ will save your sanity

The keynote speaker was Lisa Congdon, an artist, illustrator and author. Her presentation resonated with me greatly, and I learnt that it’s never too late to embrace your creative side and that we are continuously evolving and learning.

Blogtacular Lisa Congdon courtesy of Mollie Makes

My favourite advice from her was about learning how to let go and live according to ‘wabi sabi’ – a Japanese way of living embracing imperfections and the temporary. Nothing lasts forever and we can find beauty and happiness in every object and moment regardless of its appearance.

Parla come mangi

Laura Jane Williams’s advice about writing was invaluable. My favourite was ‘parla come mangi’, in my favourite language Italian, which can be translated as ‘speak the way you eat’. Very true, don’t you think?

Blogtacular Laura Jane Williams courtesy of Molly makes

In order to be an authentic writer, you need to be genuine with yourself and your readers will be more likely to relate to your stories. She also said: ‘engage the reader in their own imagination’, and I love this quote. Not sure who said it in the first place, but it’s a good mantra for any aspiring writer.

Blogtacular 2016
Blogtacular 2016

Overall, Blogtacular was a fantastic experience, so thank you to all who made it happen, especially to a charismatic and full of energy Kat and her team.




Photo credit: secretgardenhome, Mollie Makes, Space for Butterflies and Design Curator.




Inspiring places: Home for Now

I’m so glad that April saw the launch of two interior books I was looking forward to.

Last week I reviewed the Bright Bazaar book, and this week I’m going to share my thoughts about Home for Now by Joanna Thornhill.

I’ve been following Joanna’s blog for over a year now, so I was very keen to get hold of her first book as I love her writing style and share the same experience of redecorating our first homes. Her passion for interior design is evident, and I find her tone of voice very personal and amusing.

Home for now review from secretgardenhome

Joanna wanted to inspire the whole generation of renters to transform, often dull and restricted dwellings, into beautifully designed homes, on a budget.

The author encourages both renters and budget conscious first time-buyers to use their imagination and flair to experiment with interiors and learn how to bypass the limitations, especially with regards to the rented accommodation.

She takes the readers through living rooms, kitchens and dining areas, bedrooms, bathrooms, home offices (I’m currently working on my study, so it’s a very useful chapter) and outdoor areas showing numerous examples of clever interior solutions and hints & tips.

My favourite, however, are how to sections where Joanna is motivating us to take up craft and upcycling by simplifying each step and making it less daunting.

The book is beautifully written and laid-out with the images being inspiring and bringing all the key points to life. I love the font used throughout as well.

I just wish I had this book when I was renting in London.

If you want to get your own copy, please click here.

Let me know what you think when you read it?





Inspiring places: Glasgow

Hello and welcome to Inspiring places column.

I’ve recently visited Glasgow for work. It was my third time in this Scottish city, and every time I go there, I fall in love with its landscape and architecture.


I didn’t have enough time to fully explore its beauty, but even a short stroll through the city centre was inspiring. There are plenty of stunning Victorian and neoclassic buildings, as well as the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh frequently associated with Art Nouveau.

I paid a short visit to The Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), which is certainly worth a look when you there. The statue of the Duke of Wellington with the traffic cone made me laugh. I was told it represents a typical Glaswegian attitude to authority:))

Glasgow gallery of modern art GoMA

Have you been to Glasgow before? What did you think? Would you consider going there?


Before & After: Living room

Dear All,

Hope you had a lovely Christmas in the company of your family and friends.

As promised, I’ve started working on Before & After posts to summarise our house transformation.

Let’s start with our living room. The next three pictures show you the extent of our makeover.

Living room before we moved inliving room before the work commencedsecretgardenghome living room after

The work included: new gas central heating installation, new sash window, stripping wallpaper, wall replacement (hardcore DIY), replastering, repainting, new wooden flooring…let me catch my breath…new open shelving (thank you George), new furniture…If you want to see more detail, click here.

secretgardenhome living room after makeover

In terms of the colour scheme we went for a mix of white, pebble beach and grey. The sofas came from Habitat and the coffee table and TV unit were made by Unto this last.

Inviting and cosy small living room

In terms of the lighting, the main light is called Kaigami, and the side copper lamps were purchased at John Lewis.

We are almost there with this room now. Just a couple of things to do: putting pictures on the walls (should be fun), getting a small rug (I’ll share my research with you soon), and perhaps a magazine rack.

What do you think? Do you like it? Is there anything we could have done better?

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!


Inspiring places: King’s Cross station

Hello hello,

What an awful weather we are having in London. Winter is coming!

Few weeks ago I wrote about Camden and Granary Square. If you happen to visit North London, make sure you won’t skip King’s Cross station and its surrounding bars and restaurants.

I would encourage you to pop in to Drink, Shop & Do, a quirky cafe bar where you can have a cake or a cocktail, or both; as well as learn something new e.g. how to do vintage hair& make up or how to swing.

drink shop& do

If it’s not your cup of tea, head for tapas to really cool bar and restaurant Camino (thank you Ros for introducing me to ‘The life and soul and tastes of Spain’).

Camino tapas Kings Cross

Tasty and reasonably priced tapas, and industrial decor with eye-catching wall art, even in the toilets, make it an inspiring place for after work drink and snack.

Camino tapas wall art

Have you ever been to any of these places? What did you think?


Inspiring places: Arthotel Lalala in Sopot

I had a great time in Poland. One of the best holidays I had in recent years.

We stayed in a super cool, eclectic, and just thoroughly quirky Arthotel Lalala. Every room has been designed by a different interior designer. To find out more, please check their website.

The entrance

Arthotel Lalala entrance

The bar area 

Arthotel Lalala bar area

The accommodation

arthotel lalala rooms

We stayed in room 77, and my friends shared room 100 (pictures provided by Kasha Giza).

The whole place had an amazing vibe, the food was delicious, and the staff super friendly and accommodating.

It’s not your standard 5 star experience, but if you are looking to stay somewhere different, this inspiring hotel will get your creative juices flowing.

Have you ever been to Sopot? Would you consider going to the Polish seaside?

Have a wonderful week.


Inspiring places: Clerkenwell Design Week

Hello Everyone,

We’ve got a sunny morning, and, I don’t know about you, but I’m straight away feeling full of energy despite running around like a headless chicken recently…

Those who follow my Instagram have noticed that I managed to visit the Clerkenwell Design Week over a week ago.

It’s a second time I dragged my friend Tomek (happily modeling for me haha) to an interior design show (check our previous adventures at East London Design Show).

Clerkenwell design week

Clerkenwell Design week took place in The Farmiloe Building absolutely beautiful industrial Victorian ex-warehouse located at the Smithfield end of St John Street. The exposed wrought-iron beams and brickwork, and large glass paneled offices make this landmark a perfect location for any interior design show.

There were many things that caught my eye, but I decided to focus on lighting and show you my favourites.

CDW favourite lights

1. Great use of metal Mambo Unlimited Ideas.

2. The industrial bulkhead lights were great. Check Holloways of Ludlow.

3. For colour Toby House

4. Tied-up pendant lamps from Vitamin living

5. Banksia lights from Luminosity. Origami and lights are on trend.

6. Do you remember my living room light? I was very pleased to see Kaigami at CDW.

7. Great Scandi design from Showroom Finland.

8. A bit scary, and not my style, but definitely eye-catching by Servomuto.

For more info about Clerkenwell Design Week, please check what Katie wrote on Confessions of a Design Geek (an offical blog partner of CDW).

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!