Keep On Keeping On.

By Alison April 13, 2007 13 Comments 7 Min Read


There is a bookcase on the wall next to my toilet. In November I put a collection of Victorian Christmas books there and to my shame they have been there ever since. Everytime I go to the bathroom I read a little bit more about the origin of Christmas crackers, learn once again how to make Sandalwood pot pouuri and choose yet again not to make my Mum a ribbonwork handkerchief holder for her stocking. It is driving me nuts and yet six months later I’ve done nothing about it. I just keep going in and picking the books up and feeling irritated all over again by the entire matter.

Life mustn’t stand still. We know that. In matters of the heart we must brush ourselves down and try again. No matter how much it hurts. Circulation has to flow so we gotta keep on walking. Else we won’t be able to dance. Or do star jumps in the garden. We owe it to ourselves to give up jobs we hate, endure relative poverty and find our lifes work. We do. Shout Phooey! to anyone who tells you otherwise. There is no such thing as duty. No time to mourn yesterday. Life has to keep moving forwards and we achieve nothing by enduring the status quo. By sitting staring into space or treading water.

And so it is in our homes.  Inspiration doesn’t come from that which through utter boredom our minds eye chooses to ignore. In every aspect of our life we need to keep moving, re-arranging, seeing things anew and drawing from that, reason to keep on seeing things anew…

So today is the day we are going to make the kind of teeny tiny changes that will gently thrill us as we go about our business. Today is the day we are going make the smallest of shifts into another moment in the making of our homes. Today we are going to force ourselves to sense our world anew….

1. Find a blackboard and write yourself a daily maxim;  a  favorite quote or a  line from a poem that makes you smile.  Make a commitment to yourself to change it regularly.

2. Re-arrange your bookcase. The busyness of it has become commonplace in your minds eye. Find a way to hush it. Chuck some paperbacks in the recycling bin (You are never going to read them again) .Colour co-ordinate your hardbacks. Stack big books on their side and use them to prop scrumptious little treasures on, like a favorite postcard on a teeny easel.  An apparently abandoned  pretty little cup and saucer.  A tealight on a rose patterned plate…

3. Use the stacks and stacks of vintage linens I know we are all hoarding. Stretch scraps of vintage embroidery over canvas and prop them one leaning against the other on your mantlepiece. Cover a pinboard in a tablecloth. Peg a line of pretty hankies across your kitchen window. Use crocheted table runners to scoop back your curtains. Decide to have a fresh pillowcase daily. Just for the hell of it.  (It will be a teeny bliss you will come to adore).  Use your bestest teatowels till they are threadbare because that is what they are for- to bring pleasure to something dull…

4.  Move one item from every surface in the house. Now. Frame things. Casually lean a pretty empty frame over a favorite ornament. Create vignette of like objects. Add a natural element to every display in the house (A perfect fig, a shell, a bundle of ribbon tied twigs?). Remember to vary the heights of items in any given vignette.

5. There is  a surface in your house you see more than any other. Where is it? The mantlepiece? The sideboard the TV sits on? The windowsill above the kitchen sink? Your bedside table?  Wherever it is, decide now to completely re-invent it.  Remove every object on it. Polish it to a shine and then give it new life. Imagine you are setting up a still life for a painter. Add quirky, silly temporary touches… an orange, or a bowl of apples. A little bundle of handwritten letters and a pen. A branch of blossom from the garden. Put a mirror behind the display to double its deliciousness….

6.  Create an inspiration board. Display it somewhere you will see it regularly. Make it as pretty as possible. Criss-cross dotty ribbon with glitzy paste brooches holding it in place, and pile it with anything you adore: magazine tear outs, cards from friends, things that make you happy, scraps of fabric, vintage jewellery, old photographs, dried herbs, kids paintings….anything, anything at all. Then resolve to add something new every evening, so you are teaching yourself to find inspiration daily. Oh and lean a gilt frame over the whole caboodle for added vintage bling… 

7.  Wear a beautiful piece of jewellery while you empty the dishwasher. Prop a little junkshop picture behind the stove.

8.  Create a little altar to your soul wherever it is you find yourself blinking at your reflection most frequently. Steal the prettiest lamp in the house and put it next to your mirror. Put a pink tinged bulb in it and decide to see yourself through rose tinted glasses ever after. Stuff a picture of you at your most beautiful into the frame of the mirror. Fill pressed glass bonbon dishes with cotton wool buds, pads and erm, maybe a secret little stash of lemon bonbons? Add a row of tealights in moroccan tea glasses and voila, a beautiful cosy place to really see yourself. To contemplate your face without suffering the harsh cruelty of flourescent lighting and day glo bathroom mirrors. A place you won’t find yourself scrunching up your eyes in order to avoid the oh too harsh truth about  wrinkles, unexplained blotchiness and nose hair…

9 . Put something living in every room in the house. Oh I know I always say it, but really: if you do only one thing on this list, make it this one, because nothing makes you really see a room more than something that demands your attention for it’s very life force…

10. Change your brand of soap powder or fabric conditioner. Mix up a new blend of air freshening spray. Buy a bar of Pears soap and use it at the kitchen sink. Buy lilies and put them in your entrance hall. Douse yourself in lavender scented Johnsons baby powder. Grow basil from seed on your kitchen windowsill. Seek out an exotic type like cinnamon basil and thrill (and confuse!) your senses…

11.  Frame the prettiest, most beautifully illustrated set of carded vintage buttons and lean them on the lamp next to your bed.

12.   Rip your most favorite page out of your scrapbook or illustrated discovery journal (trust me it ain’t sacreligious!) and put it on the fridge. Remind yourself of your dreams and goals daily so they don’t get lost in the humdrum of another day…

13.  Start  planning a decorating project.  Focus all your decorative ambition on it even if it  making it a reality is light years away.  Keep an eye out for treasures  for it.  Choose  an item you adore to inspire your scheme and carry a little book of ideas around in your bag. Sit in the room concerned and think about every aspect of its use. If you can dream it you can make it happen. One day…

14. Move the painting above your bed into the kitchen.  Throw a snuggly fuzzy cardigan (too yummy to hide in a wardrobe) over the arm of your hall chair.   Root through your larder and fill glass jars with dried whatever, then fasten vintage paper scraps to the outside of each with a velvet ribbon flourish. (Who says you can’t have a bit of fripperie on your kitchen shelves?)

15. Stir cardamon pods into warm milk, pour it into your favorite mug, then sit cosy in your living room and really try to see it.  Whats working?  What isn’t?  What’s looking tired? Should this or that be put away for the season and brought out again after a decorative vacation? Would anybody notice/mind if you moved that chair into the spare bedroom?

16. Press flowers between the pages of old books. Appreciate their beauty in a different way. After all there is something kind of wonderful about finding the love token that is a  faded flower in a forgotten book

17. Banish ugly recycling boxes from the house and use a collection of old straw shopping baskets instead. You don’t have to endure council issued ugliness.

18. Have a row of scented geraniums in a window with no view. Scrumptiously retro country. Circa 1979.

19. Add just one new cushion cover to the collection on your sofa  and make the entire room seem scrumptiously fresh.

20. Add a touch of yellow into every room, for the tiniest touch of spring. Even if its only an old lemon rose postcard. Replace your yellow tchoikes with damson bits of this and that in the Autumn…

Keep on, Keeping on!


  1. sandi says:

    Thankyou Alison.
    I have just treated myself to apeek at the website after researching how to shoosh rats away from my garden & feeling decidedly not scrumptious.
    I now feel inspired to create loveliness in the DIY chaos that is currently my home.
    As for "keep on keeping on", well, back at you, girl!
    PS I'm having trouble posting so you'll either get this about six times or not at all!

  2. HeatherJean says:

    Oh, how I needed to read this this morning. Bless your heart!

  3. Rhi says:

    Thaks Alison for that – I was completely overwhelmed by all the jobs I have left undone for too long, aswell as the washing machine dying this morning! You've provided me with inspiration for lots of lovely things.

  4. Mari-Nanci says:

    "We owe it to ourselves to give up jobs we hate, endure relative poverty and find our lifes work. We do."
    My favorite author Joseph Campbell said it another way. He said; "Follow your bliss."
    Hello. I just came over here, from Amy at 'Petticoat Lane'. {} And happy I did.

  5. Kim says:

    Yippee! Puttery treats!

  6. Rupert Heath says:

    Hi, I came across your website just before christmas, and I've been thinking about it ever since. I am a literary agent representing a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction.
    Have you thought about doing a book, based on some of the aspects of the website? I think this would be of tremendous interest to publishers, and if the idea appeals I'd be very glad if you'd get in touch with me.
    I am putting this message in a few places, since I didn't know where best to reach you.
    Best wishes

  7. June says:

    What a lovely posting, Alison! Thank you for the reminder to love and live my life to the fullest.

  8. La Chouette says:

    I agree with Rupert.

  9. Gena says:

    OH Alison! Brocante Home at its absolute best! I feel inspired to tackle the hum drum, you make it all sound so…..well,Scrumptious!

  10. Amy says:

    Those are some great ideas Alison – definitely food for though 🙂

  11. Andrea S. says:

    Oh Dear Alison,
    thank you for the ideas. How do you come up with them all?? I will be doing some of these little things this weekend for sure!
    xo andrea

  12. Petah Hatcher says:

    I follow the sentiments of the other posters, just what I needed at the moment. And please get in touch with Rupert as I think that book would be a best seller! A fresh pillow case every night would be pure heaven, but my husband complains about fresh pjs every night, so don't know how he would cope!

  13. I starting working on #12 – ripping beautiful pages out of my ginormous stash of magazines and adding them to a journal! New purpose for all those magazines I saved just because of one or two pictures that I adore… And, yes please talk to Rubert about the book! Blessings…

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