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Archive for the ‘Stylish Steals’ Category

“Blink” Stylish Steals: Pimp my Ikea, the Bekvam step stool

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

If you follow us on Instagram, you will already have seen a few  of our initial steps in kicking off the big Blink Towers kitchen redesign and refit. Well, it’s all happening and I wanted to share with you our first complete project. I’ll kick off with a disclaimer statement that we have not been sponsored by any of the brands featured. We have chosen every single thing because of several reasons: 1) we love it 2) it fits in with our shoestring budget 3) it works really, really well.

You’ll see more of the full kitchen as we progress, which will include us making our own concrete worktop (argh!) but firstly lets focus on a smaller, less challenging, but still key element to the overall look. You may know that I absolutely love Pinterest (already inspiring our bright yellow front door!), and when I started researching the kind of overall look and detailing I wanted to incorporate into the kitchen project I found so many great ideas on this super site (you’ll find them all on various of our Pinterest boards if you’d like to see more). One of which was this super cool pink step stool, originally shared on Cecilies Lykke ‘Made’ blog. As it happens I do actually need a step stool in the new kitchen as I have made the most of all the wall space and some if the units are set pretty high.

the inspiration, found on Pinterest and originally from Cecilies Lykke blog, Ikea step stool upgraded, Bekvam, neon pink

the inspiration, found on Pinterest and originally from Cecilies Lykke ‘Made’ blog

When tootling around Ikea looking for kitchen inspiration I spotted the very same stool, called Bekvam, kicking off my first DIY spray painting adventure. I bought the unpainted birch version- although if you don’t fancy any DIY, there are some pre-painted versions too. Ikea do have their own range of paints called Behandla that they recommend you use on their products, but none gave me that neon pink hit that I was searching for.

Ikea's Bekvam step stool

Ikea’s Bekvam step stool

So I went back to Pinterest to see if I could find some good ideas on products and how best to use them. This is how I found this great instructional blog post from In My Own Style. Love those chairs! She recommended Valspar spray paint so I tracked some down at my local DIY superstore and got to work…

Sanding prep- a mask if you're being very sensible, thick gloves, a sanding block, fine grain sandpaper.

Sanding prep- a mask if you’re being very sensible, thick gloves, a sanding block, fine grain sandpaper.

Stage 1, although the step stool was plain wood I still gave it a quick sanding over just to be sure the surface was best prepared to take the paint well. I did this before constructing the stool for ease. Follow the grain of the wood to create a smooth surface. You just need to give it a quick but thorough going over.

Construction! Ikea, Bekvam step stool

Construction!

Step 2, put this little baby together. My biggest tip here is read the instructions from start to finish before you begin. That way you will avoid all of the stupid back to front mistakes that I made! When all the pieces are in place then give all the screws a final tighten. When you have your step stool all made you must remove all dust etc from the sanding process. Spray paint isn’t like normal paint in that it is a very fine layer, therefore all rough patches or splinters will still be seen and felt. The better the job you do at this stage in having a smooth, clean surface, the better your overall finish will be.

The Valspar primer basecoat

The Valspar primer basecoat

As this is going to be stepped on repeatedly I wanted to ensure I gave my paint job the best chance of survival possible, so I started with a few light coats the Valspar primer. Again, pop on your mask as this is pretty toxic, and spray only in a really well ventilated space. I set up my ‘spray booth’ outside, knocked together using some cardboard boxes that the kitchen units came in, plus newspaper around and about just to be double sure I was keeping things contained and tidy. Once the primer was dry I double checked that the surface was smooth and flat, sanding a little more in spots and ensuring all was super clean before getting the pink spray paint out.

Going neon pink in the spray booth, Ikea, Valspar, colourful DIY project

Going neon pink in the spray booth

Wow, the pink colour is as bright and bold as I had hoped! I built it up with lots of thin layers applied in opposite directions, constantly moving around the stool and ensuring every angle was covered. As this stage the paint is pretty easy to just wash away if you do get spray paint somewhere you don’t want it…

The final finish with Valspar's clear sealer

The final finish with Valspar’s clear sealer

After 24 hours of drying time I then applied the final protective coat that also gave my step stool a really great sheeny look. The clear coat seems to pretty much be a spray varnish. I gave the whole surface several thin layers but went back over the actual steps several more times to ensure these are as durable as possible. This thing makes me so happy! Not just because of it’s super sunny colour, but also at the satisfaction that I did it myself- and it was an absolute bargain!

The finished neon pink painted Ikea Bekvam step stool

The finished neon pink painted Ikea Bekvam step stool

As the kitchen itself is still very much in progress, I can’t show you the step stool actually in situ, but here it is with some of the products it will soon be living alongside. Most of the kitchen will be black and white, like these Target Tiles patterned floor tiles, so the blue Plumen pendant lights (currently on sale!) and this stool really do add some much needed accents of colour. Watch out for more kitchen refurb news as the project continues.

For more of our diverse and inspired Stylish Steals, look here. For more lifestyle posts, look here.

 

“Blink” Stylish Steals: & Other Stories, Beauty

Monday, October 13th, 2014

It’s about time we treated you to another ‘Stylish Steals’ post, and this is one that we have spend many hours and few quid investigating thoroughly for you. Believe me, it’s been our pleasure! This is all about the fabulous beauty products from & Other Stories. I will kick things off by sharing a pic of my own stash with you, backing up this recommendation with the fact that in the short time since this brand landed, it has now pretty much taken over my make-up bag.

 & Other Stories, makeup, Marc Jacobs, makeup bag,

My personal stash of & Other Stories makeup

Not only are these products a fabulous price, they are also incredibly high quality. The colours are all highly pigmented meaning that a little goes a long way. The formulations are innovative and easy to apply, feel great on the skin and wear well. I had so many compliments when I started using their ‘Kick Pleat Red’ cheek and lip tint that several girlfriends immediately bought into the same product.

& Other Stories, makeup, Blink London

& Other Stories beauty department

& Other Stories, beauty, makeup lipstick, Blink London

& Other Stories beauty department

The array of colours, finishes and product types is very impressive and constantly being updated. The in-store staff encourage you to try, giving you expert advice which I personally found invaluable, especially when stepping into the new and slightly scary world of eyebrow powders. At these prices you can buy that new, slightly bonkers nail polish colour without thinking about it too much. It is both playful and brilliantly chic. The perfect combo deal for any make up brand we think.

We spotted some scented candles on our last visit into the Regent Street branch and I can’t wait to get a few of those home. Just to test them for you, obviously! For more beauty posts, take a look here. If you’re into reading about more Stylish Steals, then this is the place for you to click.

“Blink” Stylish Steals: ASOS Summer Sale Score!

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Who doesn’t love a bargain? ASOS is pretty much bargain central, whether it’s sale time or not and so is a regular haunt for me and the rest of the Blink London team. Whenever ASOS send one of their well placed marketing emails we are suckers every time. The last time we were totally distracted from the work in hand was when we got the email telling us that ASOS was on sale. Great news after their devastating warehouse fire. Well what more could we do than support them by placing an order or two?

This beauty just arrived, in perfect time to be tried on and then added to my pile of holiday packing. The pretty ‘Aztec Scarf Print Beach Dress’ was just what I needed to complete my holiday wardrobe and at £7.50 in the sale (down from an already reasonable £25) it’s even more gorgeous! I’ll be throwing it on over my bikini and then adding my  beaded belt to add a little more shape. Sorted.

ASOS Aztec Scarf Print Beach Dress

ASOS Aztec Scarf Print Beach Dress

ASOS Aztec Scarf Print Beach Dress

ASOS Aztec Scarf Print Beach DressSummer 

For more retail news, just have a look here.

“Blink” Stylish Steals: We’re hot for Ruby Red

Friday, March 7th, 2014

It’s about time we shared another of our discoveries with you, beyond the world of fashion but very much in our world day to day. Stylish Steals is the category where we slip you the intel on some amazing products that we’ve either discovered by chance or been introduced to. They cover all variety of things, but what they have in common is that these are all things that perform well above their cost. In other words, money well spent, bargains and well, stylish steals!

Ruby Red products

Ruby Red products

Ruby Red for sure falls into this category. A new addition to our bathroom shelf, and one that we will be stocking up on across the range. This is a London based skincare brand whose formulations are all based on traditional apothecary, enhanced beyond standard performance with genuine therapeutic skincare benefits. Supporting our opinion that this year old label is doing some very good work is the fact that they are already stocked in Fortnum & Mason as well as Planet Organic. You can also buy directly from their online shop.

I’ve been enjoying slathering on one of their hero products, the Reviving Body Cleanser. As this is all natural, with no chemical nasties, I wasn’t expecting much on the bubbles front so I started off with an extra big serving onto my sponge. The next thing I knew my bathroom had been transformed into a citrus scented version of an Ibiza foam party rave up!

I’ve been following this delicious shower gel with a thorough rub down using their Renewal Shea Skin Cream. It takes some warming up in your hands to make this rub-on-able, but the effort is so very worth it. I must admit to a fashion-based chaffing injury after wearing a ridiculously heavy necklace to London Fashion Week. I had even given my precious pot of Creme de la Mer a try at soothing my sore skin, to no avail. This Ruby Red product has me chaff-free in a matter of two days application. If you suffer from sensitive, dry skin or just enjoy an indulgently rich body cream, I can’t recommend this highly enough.

The only question is, which of their products to try next? Hmmm…

“Blink” Stylish Steals: Baby Lips

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Great timing to share this with you as these are the perfect prep for an excellent Valentine’s pout, as well as helping you with the post Valentine’s chapped lips if you manage to score lots of good snogging!

I must thank my lovely fashion protégé, Amy, who brought these gorgeous Maybelline Baby Lips lip balms to my attention as well as helping me capture the perfect shot of them.

Maybelline Baby Lips

Maybelline Baby Lips

At a couple of quid each (we picked ours up at Boots) these are a steal for sure. The formulation is smooth and super moisturizing, yet light. Each brilliantly bright colour tube has a different scent, and most with a slight hint of a tint. I love the graphic styling with it’s cool 80’s vibe, and I love their sweet smells that bring to mind those bonkers novelty scented rubbers (erasers to our American friends) that were all the rage in my school days. That’s a few quid well spent on a product that works, as well as a cheap ticket for a trip down memory lane.

For more stylish steals, just take a look here. If you’re into beauty, then have a look here.

“Blink” Stylish Steals: Nip+Fab = Brilliant Beauty Bargains!

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Here’s the third in our series of ‘Stylish Steals’. It’s the spot where we feature all of those amazing discoveries that punch well above their weight in price versus performance, impact and quality. In other words, smart shopping and a bargain too. It’s an eclectic mix of products, but all of them share the fact that they enhance our lives on a daily basis, and leave us feeling rather smugly clever while doing it!

We move on to beauty today. Not a day goes by without the new must have, you are not a true woman without this, you will be a wrinkled prune if you don’t buy it, ooh those bags dear, life enhancing wonder cream being foisted upon us. I know this because I am highly suggestible when it comes to skin care and beauty, never knowingly left behind when there’s a new innovation to be slathered all over. In addition to my suggestibility, I also have very sensitive skin so sometimes these new anti-aging solutions only make me look younger because they give me a rash that could be mistaken for teenage zits… Oh the joy.

With all of that in mind, it is with great pleasure that I share one of my recent skin care crushes with you. These products actually do what they say they’re going to do. These products are really well priced. These products work for me and my sensitive skin, without scrimping on the impact and benefits. These products are available from my retail guilty pleasure, Boots. I am talking about Nip+Fab, the accessible line from Rodial founder, Maria Hatzistefanis. And in particular I am talking about their brilliant glycolic line.

Nip+Fab

Nip+Fab

Lets start with a quick note about what glycolic acid can do for you. It’s a naturally derived, active ingredient that helps to shed those dead surface skin cells, revealing fresh, peachy and glowing skin underneath. The first Nip+Fab product that I added to my routine was the Glycolic Fix exfoliating pads. If you’re feeling a bit sallow, maybe you have a bit of a break out or just generally need a bit of help looking perkier, then a quick swipe with one of these pads with do the trick. The pack says to use them once or twice daily, but actually I only use them two or three times a week, just before bed so that they have the whole night to get stuck in renovating my chops.

After enjoying the benefits of the pads for a while, I noticed that they had a glycolic scrub. Yes, I could be accused of looking for a harder hit after being drawn in by the pleasure of using the pads… This scrub, when used in combination with my Olay Pro-X Cleansing System brush, is almost like administering a home version of microdermabrasion! This is serious stuff with the triple action benefits of glycolic acid, salicylic acid as well as the scrubby micro-beads. As a side note, it also smells deliciously of grapefruit. This stuff really works, delivering a polished, clear skinned face that is perfectly prepared to receive your favourite serum or moisturiser, which will then work better for you too.

As a good marker for a product’s effectiveness, what could be better than receiving compliments? Well, I can tell you that I have received quite a few of them on my fresh faced appearance, and not only from people who wanted me to buy things from them or who need a favour from me. Result!

“Blink” Stylish Steals: Plumen lights up our life

Monday, October 21st, 2013

This is the second installment in our ‘Stylish Steals’ series of posts. Did you see the first one about the lovely Muji candles? Well, we now move on to a product that I first spotted in a River Island fitting room, looking rather stylish and innovative, and then saw again in Merci who actually sell this wonderful product. Nope, it’s not a hot Autumn fashion trend. In fact this post is about a wonderfully stylish light bulb!

Plumen light bulbs, in standard and baby sizes

Plumen light bulbs, in standard and baby sizes. Photograph by Andrew Penketh

This is no ordinary light bulb. This is the Design Museum’s ‘Design of the Year 2011’ award winning light bulb from Plumen. Aside from being visually incredibly pleasing, this bulb is also highly energy saving and lasts around 8 times longer than traditional bulbs. So its a win win for the aesthetic and the ecologist in your household. We bought a few for “Blink” Towers and they cast a really clean, bright light without that annoying warm up time of standard energy saving bulbs, so they come with our full stamp of approval too.

clustered Plumen bulbs

clustered Plumen bulbs. Photograph by Petr Krejci

Plumen light bulb

Plumen light bulb in 'Work Lamp Gold' by Design House Stockholm

Plumen light bulb

Plumen light bulb. Photograph by Ian Nolan

The Plumen bulb was created by London based company, Hulger in collaboration with industrial designer Samuel Wilkinson. Excitingly, the company is working on some new lines of bulbs to be launched in the coming months, as well as commissioning more lovely lampshades that perfectly compliment the genius light-bulbs.

For more lifestyle posts, have a look here. For more Stylish Steals, have a look here.

“Blink” Stylish Steals: Muji smells good

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

We have a new feature to share with you. We’re calling it ‘Stylish Steals’, and its a ‘Champagne taste, beer budget’ kinda thing. Every week we hope to share with you some insider knowledge about a product or line that is punching way above it’s financial weight. Well, who doesn’t love a bargain? I’m not talking about those knock offs that might pass as the real thing if you run past at speed or throw a heavy Instagram filter on them. These are things that we genuinely love and think deserve to be shared with the style conscious world at large.

Kicking off this new theme, we have these stunning scented candles from Muji. I absolutely adore good smellies, and love nothing more than to be gifted with a posh scented candle. However, when it comes to buying my own, I’m a bit more parsimonious on the budget. No-one is arguing that Dyptique, Jo Malone and Cire Trudon et al are incredible on both the scent and packaging front, but these do leave rather a hole in your outgoings, and considering you’re going to set light to them and quite literally see them go up in smoke, I am always on the look out for a better value option- WITHOUT scrimping on the ingredients and resulting whiff.

If you are of the same mind, then the simple, refined glass, brown paper boxed candles from Muji are the ones for you. This collection of subtle and sophisticated scents are made in the UK from a unique blend of natural plant waxes. The candles burn for around 40 hours, and actually, even when they aren’t lit they softly scent a room. They give off very little soot, down to the wax recipe and the quality of the scent components, which is not always the case with posher, more expensive candles.

In mid September, Muji are launching a new collection of scents for you to be tempted by…
Black Lily: An exotic blend of violets, jasmine, lily and vanilla, all refreshed with bergamot, vetiver and sandalwood.
Sandalwood: Bright and warm Sandalwood. A beautiful blend of mandarin and pink peppercorn with a touch of nutmeg.
Christmas: Branches of fresh pine and cedar together with the warmth of amber and balsam.
Orangery: Orange blossom blended with deeper rose and jasmine perfumes (my favourite of the new smells, by the way, just in case you were wondering!).

"Blink" Stylish Steals: Muji glass candles

"Blink" Stylish Steals: Muji glass candles

At £10.95 a shot, why not buy the full collection? Oh, and don’t forget, always trim your wick!

If you have a ‘Stylish Steals’ to recommend to us, then we’d love to hear from you.