My Dream Bathroom

Bloggers Competition Entry

Did I tell you that I was a victim of a DIY hit and run? Oh yes indeedy. In fact allow me to lead up my stairs, step down in to the bathroom and try, oh please try, to disguise your shock at the very state of my bathroom…

my nightmare bathroom

Here’s what happened: At the beginning of last year, a man who shall hereby remain nameless, took it in to his head to rip out my existing, perfectly acceptable bathroom while I was away for the weekend and to fit in it’s place a collection of rather dubious fittings he had gathered on Ebay. I came home to a bath fitted back to front so a person has to take a stride wider than is natural in order to step in to it,  a sink floating upon a wooden frame so laughable a person could cry and a loo so low I do believe it must have been originally intended for a nursery school.

Then as if that wasn’t bad enough, when I had finished having the screaming ab-dabs he took it into his mad head to confound this bathroom disaster by HALF-fitting some hideously huge white tiles, grouting them with something BROWN and then arranging them so that the tap for that bath is halfway up the wall and the flooring taken up and never to be replaced.

Darlings I had to banish him for good. If only I could have banished the darn bathroom with him. But oh no. Still it exists, ugly and half-finished. An un-co-ordinated  mess. Wooden floorboards with gaps so wide they waft one hundred year and fifty year old dust around the house. Taps fitted so disastrously they MOVE when I turn them. A shower sealed to the wall in an apparently dangerous fashion. And oh, woe is me, that bath. Somebody call the bathroom fairy! Nothing would give me greater pleasure than ripping the whole thing out and starting afresh…

Now this is a bathroom with huge potential. It is a good size with enough room to swing a few cats, dance a jig and show off a nice piece of free-standing furniture. There is plenty of light, in-built storage and HOPE. Yes indeed I do believe there is hope.

And where there is hope there is ALWAYS a dream.

But if a dream is to have legs, there also has to be a plan. So that is where we start: with a vision board on Pinterest, a cornucopia of images that best encapsulates that dream and sparks your imagination with ideas you may not have thought of otherwise. Cue, then, my Dream Bathroom Pinterest Board…

bathroom pinboard

My dream started with the Skyros Blue Floor and Wall tiles from because above all else, I see pattern on the floor of  my new bathroom, and nothing says vintage scrumptiousness to me more than a Greek inspired tiled floor reminiscent of the delft tiles to be found in many a European bathroom…


Though I did consider the Bellisa range of tiles, ultimately I settled on the Skyros range because blue and white is such a fresh, clean combination isn’t it? Combine these lovely floor tiles with a feature wall, clean white paintwork and the Skyros blanco tiles on the walls and I do believe you would have yourself one happy bunny…


Though, being a vintage kinda girl, I do believe I need more vintage vibe… how better then, than to include a free – standing bath in my scheme? I dithered over this decision: did I prefer the Phoenix Balmoral Traditional Bathroom Suite with it’s deliciously ostentatious chrome legs and Victorian style splash-backs on the toilet and sink? The Premier Ryther Double Ended Slipper Bath Suite with it’s fabulous double ended slipper bath? Or would I make the kind of choice all sensible housekeepers would make and choose the Old London Double Ended Slipper with Skirt Freestanding Bath, precisely because the bath hasn’t got a gap underneath and thus would not gather dust and spills in awkward places?

Oh that my sensible, practical head did not bully my romantic heart in such a fashion!

old london bath

In the same vein comes the shower question. In my heart I visualise a bathroom without a shower,  a nod to how things used to be. Me lounging up to my eyes in bubbles in my slipper bath. Candles flickering on every surface. No nasty shower curtain growing slowly mouldy or overhead shower dripping slowly down on to my head. But we all know that in a house with just one bathroom, a shower is essential if mornings aren’t going to be the cause of world war three!



Luckily there is a whole host of choices to be considered when it comes to choosing a shower. While I would in a blink of an eye choose a separate shower enclosure, I’m really not sure there is room and so The Old London Victorian Grand Rigid Riser Shower Kit it is. I mean really could it be any more perfect? That combined with an unobtrusive glass screen or hooped shower rail like the Old London Cicero Shower Curtain Ring would I think be just the thing…

Finally I would add the kind of pale and pretty puttery treats that would really bring my dream bathroom to life: floppy cabbage roses in a glass vase, one dream scented Peony and Blush Suede Jo Malone candle, a loofah with which to scrub my back, a wall full of vintage floral prints and a pile of thick, white fluffy towels…

Could there be any better place or lovelier space in which to wash a ridiculous man and his hatchet DIY job right out of my hair and send him on his way?

Thank you then to Tile Mountain and The Big Bathroom Shop for letting my little fantasy run riot. A girls gotta do what a girls gotta do: and this girl needs a new bathroom… 

Follow Brocantehome’s board My Dream Bathroom on Pinterest.


From A Nightmare to a Dream

In Association with The Yorkshire Linen Co.

People, my bedroom is a mess. No, really: it is a mess. It feels noisy. Do you know what I mean? I walk in seeking serenity and instead I sense chaos. In fact have a close look at the moodboard below and you will see what I mean: chaos reigns at the moment because my naughty not so little now puppy ATE my best bedlinen, and a crazy, busy summer means that I am doing things I have never done before, including leaving the room first thing in the morning without making the bed (shoot me now!) and chucking my clothes on to my desk chair without even considering opening the wardrobe. I am a housekeeper behaving badly and frankly there is no denying it!

yorkshire linen

Step in The Yorkshire Linen Co, ready to save me from the kind of bedroom destined to send me nightmares. With a budget of £75.00 to transform my bedroom from said nightmare to a dream I have trawled the corridors of their website in search of peace and discovered that my heart yearns for crisp new bedlinen and the serenity of white cotton.

In terms of the bones of my bedroom, I have dark wood floors and furniture, a granny clock I simply adore and cream walls and wardrobes. The atmosphere is set by my twenty five year old collection of American naive portraits: the scary little girls I have had in each of my bedrooms since I was seventeen. Deep and serious portraits do a great job of setting the tone of the room but the sombre lovely little faces on each of the portraits are compromised by the noise in the rest of the room and I do believe that the answer lies giving them centre stage in the room without visual competition from busy bed-linen…

And so that became my focus when browsing around all the simple linens the Yorkshire Linen Co had to offer and this me Darlings is how I have chosen to bring serenity to my bedroom for the relatively tiny sum of £75.00…

First up, the simplest, duvet set I could find: The Minimalist White Duvet Set in King Size, because all though I have a standard double bed frame, the quickest way to make a bed feel utterly luxurious is to add a bigger, more generous duvet and cover…

minimalist-white_2 (1)

Next the Julia White bedspread, again in King Size so it drapes beautifully over the bed in luxurious fashion, alongside two matching white Julia pillowshams…


And finally two floral generic cushions… because I am a woman who likes to prop herself up in bed and cannot sleep if I haven’t got a cushion to cuddle…

Heaven right? As soon as I take delivery,  I will spend an afternoon prettying up my room, making up my bed the Brocante way and finally showing off the results right here…

Home Happiness is not one of those accidental privileges which fall in to our lap we know not how. It is a thing that can be explained, and sought, and cultivated; it springs from seeds which must be planted and watched over; it is susceptible of injuries which can be guarded against; it is liable to evils which like hot and poisonous blasts, wither all home happiness to the root. It is immensely important to know what elements are essential to home happiness, and what things tend to cherish, injure and destroy it.

Norman Macleod

Summer Holidays

Our "One Thing" Ritual

Finley’s school holidays started last Friday and to both my joy and horror, this year he has two whole months at home to enjoy the Summer. Two months!! I am going to be around the bend come September the ninth, so don’t say I didn’t warn you…


In our house, the pace of life almost grounds to a halt during the holidays. There is no hurrying Finn at the best of times, but in the Summer he deeply resents being shuffled out of the door until he has fulfilled his chosen quota of lying in bed, eating breakfast at a snail’s pace and watching a wrestling match or six. Combined with his outrage when the tasks I have to do are deemed “boring” and my utter, overwhelming fear of him being bored, because frankly there is nothing on this planet more irritating than a bored child and what you have is an equation for spontaneous combustion of the bored child and bonkers Mummy kind.

The fact is that despite the need to entertain Finley to some degree, life at home still has to go on. I still have to cook, and clean and walk the dog. I need to work so we can afford to live. And truthfully? There are only so many child-orientated activities this woman can take. Oh heckity-pie, I’m a bad mother aren’t I??

And so between us, Finley and I have come up with the “one thing” deal. I have agreed to allow him to enjoy as much slow tea supping and WWE networking as he wishes, if he allows me to get on with writing and housewifing without regaling me non-stop with all the gory details of one wrestler trying to dis-member another. This then will be the pattern of our mornings. Then in the afternoons we will do our “one thing”: taking turns to choose the activity or task we want (him) or need (me) to do.

These activities aren’t necessarily mind-blowingly exciting: yesterday my “one thing” was a doctor’s appointment, and today Finley’s chosen activity is hanging out in Starbucks for an hour or two because this is a child with a rather irrational love for coffee shops. On Monday Finley’s thing was heading into Southport to spend some of his money on an X-box game, and tomorrow we have both got the pleasure of minding Clarry for the day so all bets are off while we entertain a two-year old!

In the coming weeks, our “one things” include visiting the Botanic gardens, play-dates at friends, going to the scooter park, shopping for a dress for a coming wedding, visiting a local manor house, dragging Alfie through a huuuuge muddy forest, making meatballs (Finn’s signature recipe!), going to a few car-boot sales, visiting the Science Museum, a few hospital appointments, watching various films at the cinema (if I can get him there: Finn is petrified of the cinema) and getting fish and chips on one of the Mondays in which a lovely, local chippy offers gluten-free fare…

None of these are big things. Certainly not costly things (thank heavens). But they are written down in our copy of the Housekeepers Summer Holiday Planner (click to download: it’s free!), and while not written in stone, they give us some framework to the weeks that stretch ahead, and put Finn’s mind at rest that his Mum won’t forever have her head stuck in her computer and mine at rest because I can be sure that there will be both opportunity to work without distraction and an answer to the question every child asks without fail on each and every day of the Summer holidays.

Roll on the good times…

Vintage Housekeeping. Again.

If you are eagle-eyed, I do believe that you may have spotted that the BrocanteHome logo has gone back to “Vintage Housekeeping” instead of the “Vintage Well-Being” tagline I had here in the first six months of this year. You see, I, Alison Joanne May, am a woman in the habit of constantly re-inventing my own perfectly good wheel. And I am also a woman perfectly willing to admit when the shoes don’t fit my proverbial feet.


Heck yes, People: I get things wrong. In fact sometimes I get things so spectacularly, shockingly wrong, it is all I can do not do inflict a little corporal punishment upon myself. While changing the tagline on your website might not be up there with selling your babies’ kidneys, in the whole scheme of my world, it is pretty high up on the list because it meant I lost both purpose and focus and a person needs focus and purpose if a person is to keep on turning up at her desk everyday with some understanding of what she is supposed to be doing!

When I first made the change it seemed like the most excellent of all excellent ideas. I described Vintage Well-Being thus…

What is Vintage Wellbeing? – It is not diets and botox, it is eating three wholesome meals a day and seeking out the best foodstuffs you can afford. It is not chemical peels, Paleo or aerobics, it is gentle stretches while you wait for kettle to boil and face-masks conjured up from store-cupboard basics.

It is a walk in the woods with a pram or a dog. Holding hands on the beach. Creating a bedroom that feels like a sanctuary. Spending entire evenings in the bathroom. It is routine and ritual. Journalling instead of gossiping. Asking for help when you need it (and accepting it even when you don’t).

It is organic housekeeping, candlelight and self-help books. It is sea-salt baths and early bedtimes. It is holidays at home. Blogging, seasonal scrubs and board games at the kitchen table. It is fresh bed-linen, fresh flowers and fresh ideas.

It is about visualising a healthy future, creating a home that reflects the very essence of who you are, and living a sustainable lifestyle that ensures the future of both our bodies and our creative minds.

It is all this and it is so much more.

This then is the Brocante way of life…   

And it is Housekeepers. It really is. But BrocanteHome was always about creating a home that feeds our spirit. About having a home that acts as a springboard for self-improvement and creativity. About creating a sanctuary inspired by the routines and rituals of yesteryear. And while “well-being” encompasses all that and more, I suspect it rather fails to capture the essence of what Brocantehome has always been about in the eleven years it has been on-line.

And so my lovelies, Vintage Housekeeping it is. Welcome home…x