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Insight into Sophie Kingo's African-Scandinavian inspired clothing and accessories

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New home: Living room

We moved into our lovely little terraced house in December 2013. I was thinking about why we renovated the house in the order we have, despite the rooms we haven’t decorated being uninspiring, tired and impractical.

I suppose it’s because the loft (Dec 2013-Jan 2014) was a quick and easy fix and a nice room to start with; the bathroom (May 2014) was pretty grotty and, while needing an overhaul, wasn’t too expensive to get on with (and fitted in nicely with a trip to Cannes while the majority of the messy, toilet- and shower-less work was done); the nursery (Dec 2014-Jan 2015) needed to be refurbished in time for the lovely Finlay’s arrival; as did the kitchen/living/dining room (Jan 2015-Feb 2015); and finally the hall and landing needed a makeover after it took a battering during all the other works. The master bedroom and front room were the obvious candidates, unfortunately, for later refurbishment.

But at last we’ve got around to the front room.

Making do

Making do after moving in

Previous owners' version

Previous owners’ version

temporary heart of the home

Temporary heart of the home

When we moved in, the front room was a lovely mix of milk chocolate brown walls with gold stenciled Greek Fret motif border (annoyingly inconsistently stenciled), dark green carpet and imposing tiled post-war fireplace with gas fire. It’s had a few iterations in our time here. At first we just moved our stuff in and made do. Then, during the major building work at the back of the house, the front room became our kitchen/dining/living room and the room we spent most of our time in. After that, we ripped out the grotty carpet, which had got grottier over time thanks to the building work, and the mismatch shelves, and put down an old rug and put up Ikea Billy bookcases in the alcoves. That was how it was to stay for a year, until this February when it was time to get ripping things out again.

Our plan: a modern African-Scandinavian living room

First to go was the brown-painted fan-textured wallpaper with naff gold stenciled border. Following that, it was time for the fireplace to go – a tough and dirty job for the hubby and brother-in-law on the first Monday of the February half term holiday. Then it was onto papering. We couldn’t afford to get the room completely replastered despite the walls being lumpy and bumpy in places. So, we chose a really nice modern textured anaglypta wallpaper that would hide imperfections and add interest. My dad came down from East Yorkshire to teach Jeffrey the skill of hanging wallpaper (minus the chimney breast which wasn’t yet ready for the wallpaper), and then Jeffrey and our kind neighbour Omar dug out the old concrete hearth and laid a new one to take the slate tiles we are yet to lay. Removing the old fireplace had left a messy, unsightly opening which needed plaster boarding and skimming. As it was only a small section, Jeffrey decided to tackle it himself – learning another new DIY skill (by this point the new skills learnt were really stacking up – 1. removing a fireplace, 2. laying concrete, 3. wallpapering, 4. fixing plasterboard, 5. skimming).

Fireplace removed

Fireplace removed

Patching up with plasterboard

Patching up with plasterboard

Filling and skimming








The next job was the floor. The original wooden floorboards are in good nick, so we decided to sand them back and leave them exposed. Sections of the floorboards had been painted with a dark paint which has left them partly stained, but it all adds to the character. They are 114 years old, after all.





Eventually, it was onto painting. We knew we wanted to brighten up the room, but we didn’t want to leave the room completely white. So we decided on a lovely warm slate grey emulsion by Homebase for the chimney breast and alcoves, and pure brilliant white (why would we choose anything else?!) for the other three walls.


Hanging the blinds

Hanging the blinds


Fitting the shelves

After painting the walls, ceiling, skirting boards, architrave, door and sash windows (new DIY skill number 6), Jeffrey fitted new Venetian blinds (those plantation shutters we have been lusting after for months will have to wait) ahead of another visit from my dad to crack on with the floating shelves in the alcoves. By this point, it was the day before Good Friday. After about 5 weeks of picking away at the long list of DIY to get the room done, the finishing line was in sight. And Finlay was overseeing the installation of the shelves just two days before we were due to welcome family for a first birthday celebration.

At last we’d reached the time to dress the room. An oversize 1959 school map of Ghana bought for the bargain price of £20 for Jeffrey’s birthday, a woven wool rug from John Lewis, some cushions by John Lewis and Orla Kiely (and two homemade cushion covers – one made from Ghanaian Kente cloth, the other from cotton from John Lewis), a new floor lamp and pendant from Nordlux, and a great new Ikea mirror were the last finishing touches. While there are still a couple of things to do – two small pieces of skirting board, tacking and painting unsightly TV wires, the laying of the slate tiles for the hearth, a small log burning stove, tidying up a Ghanaian wooden stool, and some more art for the large white wall (we’re awaiting a couple more Ghanaian masks and some Bolga baskets and fans from Jeffrey’s mum’s next visit to Ghana) – it’s pretty much there. And a vast improvement on the previous living room. Safe to say we love it.

Six rooms down, one to go.

Pinterest mood board



2010 – the year of craft

A couple of weeks ago I was thinking of what I’ve made in the past year. No wonder I at times thought I was developing RSI in my right hand. I was knitting like crazy. Here’s what I’ve knitted/crocheted/sewn/beaded between December 2009 and January 2011 (a total of 13 months), complete with links to the relevant posts:

And, that’s about as much as I can recall right now. But I think that may do for 13 months of knitting, sewing, crocheting and beading – at the very least 100 individual items. If I remember anything else, or if you think I’ve missed something off, let me know. But I’m rather proud of that!

Here are a few pictures:


Busy day

Tired. Me. Now. And that’s it. I’ve made enough for today. I’m not making any more. That includes dinner.

It’s been a busy weekend. We joined Streetcar last weekend to earn ourselves a little bit of freedom by avoiding tubes and trains when we just want to head out of the smoke to some countryside. But yesterday we needed the car for lots of London driving: from Highbury at 8.30am to Edmonton Ikea, back to Highbury, down to Belair Park in Dulwich for L1’s 4th birthday party, then on to South Wimbledon for a barbecue at Ben and Karen’s and then home again in the early hours, via London Docklands. This gave me the opportunity to get behind the wheel, which I only get to do when I venture home to Hull every once in a while. I seriously miss driving since selling my car and moving down to the capital, so renting the beemer yesterday and driving for 1.5hours from SW to E to N London at 12.30am this morning was very welcome. And I’d like to say how well I did, for saying it was my first time driving in London, which, for those of you who don’t live here, is frankly 10 times tougher than anywhere else I’ve driven.

Anyway, I digress. So today, we got up a little later than usual, lazed around the flat whilst eating breakfast, then after washing our Ikea purchases and making myself decent I made a coconut and cherry loaf, which I found the recipe for here.

Yum. Next task – framing and hanging the photo which Simone gave us for taking part in her photography project Stands Alone.

We hung the picture in the hallway, which still needs some work to make it as nice as the rest of the flat, but has been nicely added to by the completion of…

…the bunting I started on last weekafter making my bird mobile. I cut some triangles out of scraps of my leftover African fabric I have used to make a number of dresses (check out my past blog posts to take a look) and some oyster card holders and today was the day to finish it. I had hoped I’d have got it done in time to decorate the garden a little for our local big lunch last Sunday, but sadly didn’t.

Still more to add to the hallway. Jeff’s supposed to be buying some vinyl frames to go along the wall above the video entry phone in the picture above, so then it’ll be there.

I then decided to make a couple of new cushion covers for the bedroom out of some of the now many types of West African fabric I have stored in the blue room.

And then, when it came to making up the bed with the new bedding set we bought yesterday at Ikea, I had to measure and sew to size our new pillow cases, which, for some reason beyond me, were far too large for our standard size pillows. And there were four of them.

And that’s it. There’s my making day. Somewhere thrown in there was making omelette, beans and fried bread (it’s the northerner in me apparently) for lunch. And now I’m spent. Cake – check. Lunch – check. Bunting – check. Cushions x 2 – check. Resized pillow cases x 4 – check. And now I’m being sent to the shop for a bottle of red wine. Hey ho. I deserve it. As does Jeff who spent the day reading and annotating To Kill a Mockingbird and is now rustling up a tasty Spag Bol. Ah. Domestic bliss.

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Some of what I’ve made recently

A couple of years ago my Mum bought me a couple of crochet hooks and a crocheting book to learn how to…crochet. I just couldn’t seem to get it for some reason and rather quickly gave up. So, at Christmas I decided enough was enough and took my book and hooks home to Hull with me to learn to crochet over the holiday. I made two pot holders with scallop edging as practice pieces. Needless to say one is better than the other. Then I decided that, having not seen any nice coasters around for our new flat, I would make my own. So I checked out how to crochet rounds and made those you can see below. Apologies for the dodgy photos.

I haven’t made that much since Christmas. And I still haven’t managed to get photos of the things I made for Christmas presents (see my D’oh post) yet unfortunately. But I have got a couple of (albeit super crap) photos of the bunting I made for L1 and L2, Jeffrey’s cute little nieces, for Christmas above.

Oh, and if you look here you can see the cushions I made from the batik cloth I bought from Obuasi market in Ghana in the summer. I will be making a trip to Brixton market this coming Saturday to buy some more batik and some kente to get brightening up the bedroom. Exciting times.