Box Room Heroes

We currently live in a small terraced two bed house. We are gagging for more space, and dream of future homes with four or even a luxurious five (FIVE!) bedrooms. But in more realistic moments we agree that even just a modest upgrade to a three bedroom home would be amazing. I’m constantly watching the property market for reasonable priced (in Surrey – HAH!) suitable properties, and in doing so, have become increasingly familiar with the concept of the ‘box room’. Albeit a term no estate agents would EVER use, it’s a reality for most three bedroom properties that one of the three is significantly smaller and a quest begins for ways of making the most out of this small space. Whether utilised as a bedroom either for guests or a child, or as a study, dressing room or den, storage will be necessary – and challenging. Here’s one of my all-time favourite Box Room Heroes, and five ways to use it.

IKEA’s Trones £22 / pack of 2

Source: IKEA

This is becoming a bit of a classic in the small living community. Originally launched as shoe storage, it has since been put to many uses:

  1. Bedside table – put reading materials, charger cables, hand cream etc in the fold out compartment, wall mount a reading lamp, and there’s plenty of room for a glass of water and an alarm clock (or, let’s face it, your phone) on top of the unit.
    Source: Apartment Therapy

    Source: Apartment Therapy


  2. Filing cabinets – line a wall with 4 or 6 of these little friendly guys, and watch your paperwork pretty much organise itself.

    Source: HeartHandMade

    Source: HeartHandMade

  3. Dressing table – stack two of these and mount a mirror onto the wall above. Hair dryer and curling irons (once cool) fit neatly into one, while the other can house tall bottles of hairspray, body lotions etc. To store smaller product inside the unit, put them inside a toiletry bag and slip it in next to the bottles. Leave the top free for your makeup bag/case, favourite perfume and a dish for earrings, hair pins and other nicknacks.

    Source: Inredningsvis

    Source: Inredningsvis

  4. Children’s storage – a general rule to apply when choosing storage for a child’s room is that it should be easier (or at least as easy) to put things away than to get things out. This will make tidy-up time far quicker and a lot less painful. Line one wall with a single row of these units (next to each other) at a suitable height for your child, and fill them with books, games and puzzles, instruments, toy cars etc. Put nice large picture labels on the front to simplify tidy-up time further, and to make it easier for your child to find what they are looking for. Leave the top of the units for favourite toys, or the ones you find most appealing to the eye!

    Source: Pinterest

    Source: Pinterest

  5. Music storage – for those of you who end up using the box room either to house a teenager or as a den where music is made or consumed, these units are amazing. Stack three or four on one wall, and fill them with LP records, cables, headphones and other music paraphernalia. Easy to find what you are looking for, and easy to put away when done.

    Source: IKEA

    Source: IKEA

Keep an eye out for more Box Room Heroes post moving forward! This is one of my favourite topics, and I am forever on the lookout for new great storage ideas. AS and when I come across them, I will share them here with you. Until next time!

Crate Table

Seeing The Potential – Blog post series…

As much as I’m all about promoting falling in love (or maybe staying in love) with the home you are currently in, there are times when our circumstances force us to move house. We will soon be in that position ourselves (our 1 year old is still sleeping in our bedroom, and his toys are slowly taking over our entire house). Like the savvy girl I am, I’m very keen to make sure we make a good investment with our next house, and that we will have in it everything we want/need – without breaking the bank. Daunting. It’s at this stage I believe it’s really important to be able to see the potential in a property, see what could be and not just what is. This is the thinking behind my new blog post series called ‘Seeing The Potential’ where each week I will find a property currently on the market here in the UK, and give you ideas as to what that property could be. Move a few walls, add a couple of windows – you know what I’m getting at. I have to put a disclaimer here – I’m not an architect nor a surveyor, so my suggestions and thoughts would be subject to building regulation and structural assessment by professionals. I do however have a fair bit of experience when it comes to property remodelling (I have been in the interior design industry for years and have been involved in a few of those 🙂 ) , so any ideas I will be presenting to you won’t just be taken out of thin air. Keep your eyes peeled!



Re-launch: HomeAnnAway – turning To Do into Ta Da!

*deep breath*

I’m back! Hello! Hi!

During my extended break from blogging I have been working on plenty of shop windows, interiors and furniture (will blog about it all!) but most importantly – Mr Man and I have had a baby! 🙂 Well, he’s 13 months now, so not really a baby anymore, but still the cutest thing in a pair of soft-soled shoes! I’ve been lucky enough to have been able to stay at home with Peanut for a whole year to really soak in everything that motherhood entails. It’s been bliss (and very little sleep). But now it’s time to come back to reality. Peanut is with a (fantastic) childminder two whole days a week, and even though I feel as though I have lost a limb on those two days, it’s nice to get a chance to be creative again, to use my brain for other things than nappy changes and sleep schedules. The fact that Peanut LOVES his childminder makes it all the better. So, here I am, re-launching HomeAnnAway. The blog has expanded to also hold my interior and furniture business that previously went under Anna Ostman Designs. I have chosen to focus on small space living and bespoke solutions as that’s the niche I seemed to end up in no matter what previously, and frankly it’s what I most enjoy. Designing large spaces can be fun and satisfying, but it is in the small, awkward, seemingly unusable spaces the real challenge lies – and that’s the challenge that really makes me tick!

I’m so excited to be back! I’ll be sharing everything about on-going projects, ideas and bespoke solutions completely unique to HomeAnnAway. Here I am, ta daaaaaaaaa! Come, share my journey!


Ps. Logotype, website and business card all designed by the super talented Erik Östman over at His website alone makes me homesick for Sweden!

Sweden – ye old and ye free.

The title refers to the Swedish National anthem. Sometimes I miss my native Sweden so much it almost hurts.

Today is the Swedish National Day (Glad nationaldag alla svennar!) so I suppose it’s fairly appropriate that I’m missing it especially today. I was browsing a few Swedish blogs earlier, and paid Underbara Clara a visit (Underbar means wonderful, and Clara is her name). I was scrolling randomly through her archive and found this picture from a post many years ago.

SwedishWinterClara lives in Northern Sweden where they still get winters like this. Where I’m from, we used to get them when I was little, but the climate change has definitely changed that (pun totally intended). But this picture struck a chord in me. Having grown up with snow and ice, sledging and ice skating, with schools being shut because people just couldn’t get there, and serious tutor time talks about NOT throwing snowballs at each other’s heads… Well, you kind of end up missing it when it’s not there anymore. I miss the winters. Most of all, I miss Lucia (read about that here). Being little miss involved-in-everything when I was a child, I sang in three different choirs. And Lucia is a big deal for any choir. With the school choir we first performed in the school in the morning, and then visited the local nursing homes to perform there as well. Just after school, the swimming team (which I was also part of, of course) did a swimming Lucia performance with lit candles in the pool. The evening performance with the church choir was my favourite though. The entire church was lit up only by candles, and we sang all the songs a capella. It was magical. Magical. That’s exactly how I felt about Lucia and that time of the year. The days were short and the nights were so much darker. But Christmas was around the corner, and looking out my window in the evening the white snow made every tree branch shimmer in the street lights, or moonlight, whichever was the brightest. The air was cold, but smelled of promises of more snow (yes, snow has a scent) and, I suppose, hope. And excitement. Mum even used to light candles at breakfast. Magical.

Mr Man, Bean and myself have been to Sweden in the winter quite a few times now, but a couple of years back we were really lucky – it snowed about 40cm on our 3rd day there. I got to show them a little bit of my childhood magic, whether they felt it or not. I took this picture on our way home from sledging one evening. That’s the house where I grew up, and where my parents still live.

MaPasHouseWinterThe quality isn’t great, I admit, but it’s taken with an old iPhone and it was dark. I look at that picture and I can feel the cold on my face. I can feel how rosy my cheeks are after hours spent outdoors. I can smell the snow. And I can feel the magic. Crazy huh?

And then I look at Clara’s picture, and I get this weird sensation in my tummy. Is it longing? Am I home-sick? Is this expat actually admitting to missing her home country after 12 years in London? Maybe. May be. May well be. I think about what it would be like to live in a red, snow covered house like the one in Clara’s pic, and I try to picture myself, Mr Man and Bean there with me. How we’d have a wood burner in the kitchen, mis-matching chairs around the kitchen table, and a drying cabinet (torkskåp hallå!) to shove all our outdoor gear into as soon as we get in the door. And it almost works, in my head, I can almost see it. Could we? Would they be happy leaving their home and relatives behind? Would I be happy to come back to a country that, sure, I grew up in but, let’s face it, I have no idea how to lead an adult life in? I mean, whenever I go to Sweden, I can’t even make sense of the grocery store layouts, and I end up darting back and forth through the entire shop. But the quality of life… We could buy a four bedroomed house in Sweden for a fraction of what it would cost us here. But is it even an option? Most likely not. But the thought is appealing, so very appealing. Hmm…

It’s funny really. Today we had 25 degrees here and beautiful bright early summer sunshine, and tonight I am reminiscing about snow and my childhood winters. I guess no matter how far away you go, and no matter how long you stay, you can take the girl out of Sweden, but you can’t take Sweden out of the girl.


Curvy Chick(en-yellow lamp)

Bold colours seem to be finding their way in to most peoples homes, lives and hearts at the moment. For some time now, I have been developing an obsession. Nothing dangerous, nothing scary, but an obsession none the less. My obsession is the colour yellow. Now, I’ve done quite well in restraining myself so far, and only allowed this obsession of mine into our home in the form of two chicken yellow Tolix bar stools for our breakfast bar – but my scrap books are full of yellow wallpaper samples and magazine cuttings… There’s just something so happy about yellow, don’t you think? I’ve wanted to pick up the yellow in my bar stools elsewhere in the diningroom, and thought a chunky lamp would do the trick, but despite serious research (and I mean s-e-r-i-o-u-s) I’ve not been able to find one. And that only means one thing: I’d have to make one.

I picked up this lamp base at a carboot sale about 5 minutes walk from our house. We got there late and it was the hottest day of the summer. I’m amazed that there were still stalls there, and even more amazed we managed to make it around the market! The lamp was £2.50. For that price the lady also included the pink horrific shade with tassles. Jeez, thanks… I think?


Anyway, after a bit o’ magic – aka one can of spray primer…


…and one can of bright chicken yellow  spray paint later, the base of the lamp looked like this:


Check out the yellow on that thing!!! Waaaaah – to die for! Oh, be still my little heart…

As I had the shade on hand, I decided to see if I could strip it and recover it.


Underneath the stained, faded and smelly pink fabric, this beautiful frame was hiding.


I’m not sure I’ll keep it like this – I’m struggling to find lightbulbs weak enough to not need a shade – but for now, I quite like the industrial feel of this lamp. It’s like our very own happy, industrial chicken!

LampPost5Budget break-down:

Lamp (base + brothel style shade): £2.50

Spray paint + primer: £3.99 (special offer) and £4.99 – £8.98

Total: £11.48


Further dining room thoughts…

In my recent trawling on the internet (I may or may not have obsessively been trying to find white Wishbone chairs at bargain prices. Who needs sleep, anyway?), I’ve come across images of dining room sets that combine chairs and benches around the same table. I’ve always really liked benches – they say ‘family’ to me – but have felt trapped in the choice of either or. Either benches or chairs. And then people say benches are so uncomfortable to sit on for long. So I’ve been put off. But look at these examples:

ChairBench2See, if that table had been surrounded by chairs, it would have looked so much more cluttered, and would have limited the visual flow through the room. And even if you could squeeeeeeze 3 chairs in in place of one of those benches, you could easily fit 4-5 kids on a bench, as opposed to 3… 1-0 to benches.

ChairBench3Are words even necessary here? I mean look at this set up… If this had been our house, it would only look like this for about 10 seconds – 5 seconds from when I finish setting it up and getting the camera ready, 3 seconds while I snap a pic or two, and another 2 seconds to enjoy the view. But it would be 10 seconds of bliss, I tell you. Tulips should always look like that.

ChairBench4Again – four kids on this side vs. two adults on the opposite side. 2-0 to benches.

ChairBench5Ooooh, benches. Beeeeeeeencheeeeeees!

ChairBench6Our current dining chairs are very similar to these, in style. They are white, but have the same spindly chrome legs, and bent wood seat/back. It’s nice to see this type of chair paired with a bench – maybe I could simply just replace the chairs with a bench on one side of the table and leave the other side as is.

ChairBench1OMG – now we’re talking!! Note the layered rugs, people – we are bang on trend here! But instead of those Eames chairs with sheepskins, imagine they were Wishbone chairs. With sheepskins. I’m Swedish – sheepskins are more than welcome at my table!

WishboneSheepIt would have to be the inexpensive, washable fake ones from IKEA, but I’m fine with that. And then a couple of cushion and another sheepskin on the bench… Can you picture it? I think I can. I think I like. I think I want! 🙂

I’m home alone this weekend so I’m planning a few little projects and tweaks at home. Big and small, you know I’ll post all about it on here 🙂

Is this a crazy idea?

As in not ‘wild and crazy’ (although, that it probably is), but more ‘insane and should not be realised’ kind of crazy…

Let me start from the beginning. We have a radiator in our kitchen. When we installed our new cabinets about 4 years ago, we left the radiator in place, with the intention of moving it into the conservatory/dining room in the near future. Yeah, you’ve guessed it – the radiator is still in the kitchen. We even left a gap for it between the tall kitchen cabinets and the wall. Way before we started on the kitchen renovation, we removed all (two) internal doors on the ground floor of our house – our house is small and the doors seemed to be in the way more than anything else. Now, after a fairly cold winter with lots of cooking (= warm kitchen + cold conservatory) I’m really keen on getting this radiator moved. Yes, this will leave us with a gap, which is about 15cm wide, where the radiator is now. Originally the idea was to install a sliding door there, to keep the noise of the Bean’s American tween programs out (they may or may not make my skin crawl) when I’m cooking or otherwise hanging in the kitchen. We were thinking something like this:

SlidingDoorNice, right? But then I stumbled upon this over at Apartment Therapy (I mean, where else?), and just fell in love!

PullOutPantryLike I said, our house is small, and so our kitchen is small – we can always use more storage. I told Mr Man that this is what I’d like to do once the radiator comes out. He was less impressed, as he very much had his heart set on a sliding door. So I gave up on the idea. But then today I thought to myself – couldn’t the two be combined? I mean, look at that pull out slim larder in the picture above. Couldn’t the back piece of that be a door? And as long as the inside of the larder was made pretty and kept tidy (and hello, it’s my house we’re talking about here!), would it really be so bad it if was on display every time the door was pulled close? Is this crazy? Or am I a genius who has just had The Idea of Her Life Time? I need to sketch on this idea… I’m sure I could make it work…

Diningroom dreaming…

… on such a winter’s DAAAAAAAAAYYYY!!!

As you may have guessed already, I never got an opportunity to photograph our living room last week, bet there is hope for the weekend so stay tuned! Instead I’ve been dedicating a bit of brain-time to our dining room. The notion of focussing on one room until it’s finished is just not for me.

Our dining room is an on-going project (as is, I suppose, the rest of the house). The last time we visited the dining room, it looked like this:


Which is definitely a significant improvement to how it once was. But still, there is a lot more cosiness to be wished for in here. Personally, I blame that white panelled wall. It lends the entire room a kind of caravan feel, and somehow screams ‘temporary’ at me every time I look in that direction. I can’t explain it any better than that, but it bothers me. The reason those panels are there is simply because it was a less expensive solution when we built the conservatory, than brick would have been. And there is only about 30cm (if that) between that wall and the neighbours fence, so not a particularly nice view, sure enough not worth the extra cost of glass panels anyway. So, we ended up with PVC. Phwoar – not. Mr Man and I have discussed our options, and considering this room is exposed to a lot of light (glass roof, hello!) and in the summer also silly heat (glass roof, hello again!) we are a little bit limited to what we can do in here. We could board the panels out, to make a smooth wall and wallpaper it, but I worry that the wallpaper might fade and/or curl and peel. Then I saw this over at Kara Paslay’s blog, and I got twinkles in my eyes!


 Isn’t that little nook cute? Make me want to curl up in it with a good book when it’s raining outside… But that’s not what we are looking at. See the wall behind the bench seat? The plank wall? Here’s a bigger picture picture.


Gorgeous, right? May I also point out the exquisitely well chosen black and white stripey rug that is under the table in that last picture. Remind you of anything? Meant to be I’m telling you! Anyhow, the wall. I thought of potentially carrying on the wooden floors up and onto the wall, like in this very realistic and professional Photoshop mock-up I created to try and convince Mr Man:


But he wasn’t sure. So I looked around Tha Internet some more, and spotted this:


 Ooooooh – yum! More:


 It’s basically wood panelling, that has been rough and tumbled with. Close up:


This last picture is probably the tidiest of them all, and most likely the effect we will get if we bought planks of wood from Homebase or B&Q. I don’t mind the look at all, but I think Mr Man preferred the slightly more weathered look. So, we’re looking into how to achieve this . I’ll get back to you with our findings.

I am also considering replacing our dining chairs. When we bought the ones we have I was over the moon, but now… They feel a bit space-age-y. Cold. I want something warmer, maybe a bit more classic. Something like this:

wishbonewhite1Oooh, they are soooooo beautiful!!! But they are like £200 a pop, and I don’t know… I can’t really justify it. Not right now anyway. But if I win the lottery, you know these babies will be the first thing I’ll invest in! 🙂

Moroccan Summer

I’m going to leave you for the weekend with some bright colours of a window display I did for the charity shop late summer last year.

What I love the most about dressing the windows at the charity shop is that I never know what I’ll get to work with. I turn up and have to come up with something on the spot. One week last summer I turned up and somebody had donated a full set of gold cutlery. It was most likely not real gold, but either  way, it was sort of mesmerising. I had to use the set in my display.


I displayed the cutlery along any other gold coloured item I could find. Add the bright colours, and there is something Moroccan about it all!




I don’t know why these images appealed to me right now. Maybe it’s because the sun is actually shining while I’m writing this. Or maybe it’s because last night when I left work, it wasn’t dark outside. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because spring is in the air… 🙂

Next week I’ll have a few days at home. If I’m lucky enough to have a sunny day then, I’ll try and photograph the living room in it’s new sultry greige colour. It looks great at all times, but especially when it’s sunny!

Have a lovely weekend!