Blowing Away The Cobwebs And Grayson Perry’s House

Last weekend with a house full of dear friends from my old job we decided to explore the local area around Harwich, and despite a rather heavy night fueled with Prosecco and red wine we embarked on an 8 mile walk from Harwich to Wrabness, in the hope that the fresh sea air would blow away the cobwebs (that it did). We had heard great things about Wrabness and were very excited by the prospect that it was home to Grayson Perry’s illustrious house, so what better carrot to have dangled in front of us as we set about the challenge ahead.

We started off in Old Harwich…

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where we quickly stumbled across this lovely old book shop, at this rate this walk could take a while!

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Distraction over, the walk then takes you along the seafront along to Dovercourt Beach, a white sand, blue flag beach, with pretty beach huts lining the way – much of the time was spent picking out our favourite, a hard choice let me tell you.

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These two we my favourite after lots of thought…

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The course then takes a more wild route across marsh land reminiscent of the beautiful Norfolk broads.

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The Essex Way as it’s called, which was swapped around many a time along the route to the well known phrase “The Only Way Is Essex” then steers you up across farmland and fields, at this time of year awash with startling splashes of yellow from the crops of rape seed along with pretty dandelion clocks. Occasionally we were met by a friendly horse bounding over in the hope of a free snack.

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You are then met with the pretty village of Ramsey complete with pub The Castle, but after our rather heavy night it was unanimous a pub could not be stomached at this point in time and we must crack on with the promise of fish and chips at the end.

The path then creeps up from Ramsey until you find yourself in field land peering back over Ramsey windmill. Through fields of wild flowers, lined with hedgerows that promise great blackberry harvests in the Autumn you then meet Wrabness wood. A welcome contrast from the openness and head wind and we found ourselves in an enchanted enclave, filled with carpets of bluebells and snow drops.

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As you meander through the wood you suddenly become aware you are alongside the Stour Estuary, idyllic for all kinds of bird and nature watching.

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With sore feet and the start of rumbling tummies we were elated to catch a glimpse of the top of Grayson Perry’s house.

As we finished the last few steps along the estuary the path then takes a sharp left and leads you up the hill to Black Boy Lane and the location of Grayson Perry’s House.

Where you are met with this…..

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A House For Essex was designed by Grayson Perry (one of the UK’s leading contemporary artists, winning the Turner Prize in 2003) and FAT Architecture It is both an artwork in itself and the setting for a number of works by Grayson Perry exploring the special character and unique qualities of Essex. The building has been designed to evoke a tradition of wayside and pilgrimage chapels. It belongs to a history of follies, whilst also being deeply of its own time. The house itself doesn’t attempt to blend in with or copy local buildings in the village of Wrabness, instead it stands alone as a unique addition to the countryside. However it remains sympathetic to the site and the area’s sense of remoteness. For example, hand-made tiles relate tonally to the landscape while the building’s simple pitched roof forms echo simple agricultural buildings and farmhouses.

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According to Chelmsford born Perry the house is ‘inspired by follies, eccentric homes, shrines and fairy tales. More precisely, though, it’s inspired by a woman called Julie. Born in Canvey Island in 1953, she married refinery worker Dave in her youth and had two children by him before an affair ended their marriage. She subsequently wed Rob, who commissioned this ornate house in her memory after she was knocked down and killed by a curry delivery driver in Colchester.’ It really is quite extraordinary and finished off our beautiful walk nicely along with the promise of fish and chips after the train ride back to Harwich, it was unanimous there would be no round walking trip back!

Our Feathered Friend – Arthur

Yesterday was spent selling at Spitalfields Market, which is always a great day out, but yesterday was particularly special as I found our new addition to the home, a feathered friend. I have always wanted to own a piece of taxidermy and yesterday I  met Phil – Spitalfields Taxidermy who made it all possible. The Woodfashioner (my boyfriend Alf) is a little sceptical and not such a fan as I of this creative art form, but I have felt for a while I home was in need of just a small piece, so when I saw this fella yesterday I couldn’t resist, he was coming home with me.

We have named him Arthur, and here is our first piece of taxidermy and our latest vintage addition to our new home…..

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and here’s Arthur in situ, he’s definitely going to make me smile every morning….

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Be sure to check out Phil’s website and instagram page, so many wonderful things, I also fell in love with the peacock, so stunning! But for now Arthur is just fine.

FINGER LINKIN CHICKEN SALAD. A RECIPE IDEA ON A SHOE STRING BUDGET

With our new life in Harwich and my new vintage dealer “full time status,” life can be a little frugal at times. It’s a wonderful way of life but the belt buckles have to be tightened and we are having to get more creative with our recipe ideas to make food go further. This is great fun and very satisfying when you create something delicious yet on a shoe string budget.

This week my new recipe idea is ‘Finger Linkin Chicken Salad’ which I thought I would share with you. This is great as you can get two meals out of one, we managed to pick up a reduced chicken which we roasted on Sunday for lunch along with some roast potatoes and a green salad with lettuce picked from our garden so was a nice cheap, yet scrummy meal. We always have some chicken left over from a whole one as there is only two of us, so this is where ‘Finger Linkin Chicken Salad’ comes into its own.

Finger Linkin Chicken Salad:

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Serves 4:

Ingredients:

4-6 handfuls of roast chicken meat and the wings if you didn’t devour them first time round

3 cloves of garlic

salt

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons soy sauce

A tablespoon of tomato ketchup

A tablespoon of grain mustard or smooth is fine too

2 cm piece of ginger finely chopped

Back pepper to season

Drizzle of olive oil

For The Salad:

4 handfuls Rocket leaves or lettuce (either is fine)

1 orange

1 grapefruit

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

  2. Strip the cooked meat from the chicken.

  3. Peel the garlic and add to a pestle and mortar along with a generous pinch of salt. Grind down until almost a paste, tip into an oven proof bowl and stir in the honey, soy sauce, chilli sauce, ketchup, mustard and a drizzle of olive oil. Season with some black pepper, then add the chicken  meat. Toss gently then bake for 20 minutes, or until the meat is glistening.

  4. While it’s cooking away you can make the salad. Peel the oranges and grapefruit, then slice thinly. Toss into a salad bowl with the rocket or lettuce leaves.

  5. To serve, pile the hot chicken onto the salad and serve.

If you give it a try I hope you enjoy it. It’s perfect for a light summer dinner or if you want to make it a little more substantial it’s lovely served on top of rice all the juices soak into the rice, delicious!

Bon Appétit!

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CHINTZY FLORALS AND THE EARLY BIRD – THE WORLD OF THE LONDON ESCAPE ARTIST

After a few months of chintzy florals….,

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patterned carpets…..

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and the wall to wall stripping of wallpaper….

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we have finally moved into our new home. I had an idealistic dream that we would have mostly finished everything before moving in, but far from it. We are still living with bare plaster walls and un sanded floors, but it is a work in progress, a long term project, we are slowly but surely breaking through and with each end result comes a sense of satisfaction and reward (usually a glass of wine).

We’ve discovered some gems along the way including these beautiful fireplaces boarded up in both bedrooms…..

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We are so thankful they were left alone for us to uncover.

Also with the move has come the full time start of the markets and the world of a vintage dealer for me, an exciting concept but not always plain sailing. Anyone in the vintage and antique world will be familiar with the crack of dawn wake up calls, these of course go hand in hand with this surreal world, and are the epitome of the well known saying ‘The early bird catches the worm.’ I have always been an early riser much to The Woodfashioner’s horror in our early days of first meeting, but is something he has grown to well and truly sleep through (I occasionally manage to persuade him along to the odd car boot, he has a great eye, so is a strong side kick to have along). However the new alarm wake up call has been taken to a whole new dizzy height, one that even I am still slightly shuddering at, Mondays and Thursdays now bring a 3.30am wake up for a 4.10 am get away, OUCH!

The eve before my first Covent Garden, we were welcomed home on a cold February Sunday evening after a weekend away, to a very lifeless boiler. The electrician left to his own devices over the weekend, whilst rewiring the house had somehow (unbeknownst to him) cut off the power supply to our boiler leaving us with no heating and no hot water! Uncontactable until the following day we had no choice but to just crack on; but boiling a kettle at 3am the following morning to run myself a shallow bath, before driving into London to stand outside on a market stall all day, did get me wondering that I might have gone slightly mad, it was bleak! The next short encounter with a blizzard of snow when stepping outside ready for the drive into the city confirmed it, what had I done giving up a perfectly good job in a warm office?!

But a short time later, surrounded by an array of characters at a buzzing Covent Garden the doubts soon started to pass, and when setting up my stall in my own little world, free from the stresses of replying to endless emails and answering the incessant phone it was confirmed I wasn’t so mad after all.

Over the months the wake up calls have become slightly easier (they will never be easy), certainly helped by the warmer mornings, and with them come the excitement of what the day will bring. No market is ever the same, meeting wonderful wacky characters, customers with interesting, touching stories and nostalgic reminiscing are just a few highlights. Then of course coupled with this you feel like you have nailed the front row seats of a catwalk model show, witnessing the most creatively dressed individuals in outlandish, wonderfully eccentric clothes, all extensions of their unique, inspiring characters.

So for now certainly no regrets, we are managing to live our seaside dream with a combined taste of London a couple of times a week, but always with the eagerness to return home to the sea air after the thrill of a busy day. We will never be millionaires, but some may say we have a millionaire’s lifestyle on a shoestring. Life as a market trader does mean a frugal way of life but with it comes freedom, and although sometimes challenging, living less extravagantly can be rewarding and satisfying. More to follow on this with future blogs on our cheap, yet tasty recipe ideas, we both love cooking and with a little less money coming in, comes the need for creativity with ingredients, which is always great fun! Furnishing the house is also a thrill when you don’t have access to lots of funds, a challenge we are embracing and loving, this is one of my latest finds and little project …..

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and after…..

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More updates to come on our progress and challenges and delights and achievements in this new world, but for now an image from our evening walk……

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View my website here

TAKING THE PLUNGE – THE LONDON ESCAPE ARTIST

It’s been a long while since I wrote a blog post, apologies for my disappearance. It’s been an exciting few months, rather mad and hectic but all in a good way.  In the middle of last year my boyfriend (The Woodfashioner) and I came to the decision to leave London, not a decision taken lightly and one mixed with lots of apprehensions along the lines of…. ‘how will we survive without the bright lights and the hustle and bustle?’ ‘will life without our beloved London be too quiet and unsatisfying?’ But when faced with the prospect of being able to buy our own home (by the sea no less), an impossible scenario for us in London despite being on relatively good wages and having saved a fairly decent deposit (thanks to The Woodfashioner’s Mum putting up with us under her roof for the last two years), the apprehensions soon began to wane.

Lots of research went into possible areas, combined with lots of day trips, finally we came upon Harwich. An Essex town, known for its international port with the ferry to The Hook of Holland. It’s a town full of character with beautiful Historic Harwich one way and your classic English high street in Dovercourt the other, whilst being surrounded be sea, for us it seemed like it had it all on first glance. But despite this the worries were still there, mainly being that it would be too quiet after a London life, but it soon became apparent that maybe the slower pace of life with fresh sea air and friendly people might not be such a bad thing and actually one that we may possibly really relish. So just putting the worries down to the big changes that were on the horizon, we cracked on, and after a few months of looking and a few heartbreaks we finally found our dream home, ticking all the boxes. It was by no means ready to go, but we could see the potential and we wanted somewhere we could put our own stamp on, owned by a lovely man for over 50 years it had been truly loved and we know we are going to love it just as much.

A little glimpse at where to find Harwich…

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On the 23rd December we very excitingly got the nod, the house was finally ours, definitely goes down as the best Christmas present ever!

 

Our new road, new keys and some very excited faces…

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Our walk to our lovely local pub The Alma….

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Lovely splashes of colour in Old Harwich….

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This was it we were taking the plunge!

The life change also came with other big decisions, I had a full time job in London where I was Head of Locations at a location agency, finding locations for photographic and film shoots, where I had been for 6 years. Alongside this, as you know, I have been a vintage dealer working at markets at the weekends and trying to build an online presence, the dream has always been to do this full time, but the courage to do so is another thing. With this embarkment on a new life the courage came and finally I have taken the plunge, more about this is my next post on our new life by the sea. The Woodfashioner has been running his own business for the last few years but always based in London so another big decision for him, but one he has relished and now he is kitted out with his own new workshop, all to himself, unlike London where this was impossible due to the ludicrous rents.

The Woodfashioner contemplating our new life ahead….

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It’s not been without its challenges which we are still discovering but so far we couldn’t be happier, life is relaxed, people have time for you, we get to see the sea everyday and I get my fix of London a couple of times a week with Spitalfields and Covent Garden Market. More to follow on the trials and tribulations of a London escape artist but for now a glimpse of Old Harwich…

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Our New Website

Happy Friday everyone! Sorry I have been a bit quiet for a while, we have been busy beavering away on our new website, which is finally finished and has now gone live, which is very exciting!

So things will now change slightly, all my new blog posts will now be on our new website instead, so I just wanted to make you all aware of this as it’s been so lovely having you all following our blog so I really hope you will be happy to look out for our new posts on our new website instead.

Here is the link to our new website TheNostalgiaExchange.com and glimpse at what the blog page now looks like ….really hope you like it…

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Happy weekend everyone!

A New Logo And A Collaboration

Over the last few months we have been working with our lovely friend and designer Siobhan Watt on a new logo for The Nostalgia Exchange, and very excitingly it’s finally finished. Such a talented lady, we love what she has come up with. I thought I’d share it with you all…..hope you like it.

Our logo

Also very excitingly last month we were asked to do a bit of a collaboration with the newly launched Bibelot Magazine.

Bibelot – [Bi-be-loh] is defined as the following:

1. An attractive or curious trinket

2. A small object of curiosity, beauty or rarity

3. A miniature book, especially one that is finely crafted.

As described on their website ‘Bibelot, “The Little Book of Creative Curiosities”, will be a quarterly craft, design and lifestyle magazine celebrating the hand-made, the ethical and the unique.’

‘Bibelot is about more than craft projects; it represents  an imaginative and sustainable way of life.’

The project has begun its life as a blog with the idea being it is an online hub bringing artistic and innovative individuals together. It’s somewhere you can visit, sharing ideas, learning and sparking inspiration. It’s very worth checking out and keeping a close eye on, it’s a melting pot of ideas – here’s a little peak at what the page looks like….

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It’s inspiring to be involved in such a lovely new project and we love the idea of a sustainable way of life – our post on their blog is about a way of life in ‘A Curious World.’ We will be working with them more over the coming months, so we will keep you posted.

A Spanish Christmas And A Colourful Start To The New Year

We spent Christmas, now last year already, oh how time flies, in the South of Spain in a charming little town called La Herradura in the Andalucia region of Spain. As part of the Costa Tropical it certainly did what it promised, offering up a week of sunshine and warmth, a welcome escape from the grey dreariness that we left behind at home.

A belated Feliz Navidad to you all from Espana

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Inspired by Rick Stein’s Spanish Christmas and our Mediterranean climate we broke away from the traditional Christmas lunch, and went for a slow cooked lamb, marinated over night in fresh herbs picked from our villa’s garden, we popped it in the oven late morning to cook slowly for hours whilst we went off for a swim in the sea and for a drink in the local cafe on the beach. It was indeed quite idyllic and I did have a few pinch marks on my arm as I tried to wake myself up from the dream. Here’s some of the fresh local produce we chopped up ready to roast slowly to accompany the lamb….

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But of course none of this happened before a Christmas breakfast, and of course outside none the less along with Bucks Fizz, but not your normal Bucks Fizz, this Christmas it came with freshly squeezed orange juice from oranges we harvested from the fruit trees in the garden, we even threw in a bit of freshly squeezed grapefruit to tang things up a bit..

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Fresh fruit was aplenty and you could even stop in the middle of town and pick yourself a refreshing orange or even a prickly pear, being wary of the pesky spikes though became the name of the game…

Fruit gallore

No Mediterranean trip is complete without a plethora of colour from the gorgeous Bougainvillea that grows in abundance and never fails to capture attention as it adorns white washed walls.

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White washed walls, rooftop views and doorways to venture filled one of our days when we visited the once Moors inhabited town Frigiliana. A beautiful town built on a steep hillside North of Nerja, the Mudejar district of the small town is made up of steep cobbled alleyways, winding past white washed houses resplendent with flowers, its name Mudejar is used to describe the architectural style used by Arab craftsmen working in Christian territory.

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Rooftop views

Doorways

No road trip is complete without a roadside view stop or a Mirador as it’s known in Spain….

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Followed by a competitive game of Petanque on the beach, loosing team to buy the winning team a round of drinks, sadly I was on the loosing team, but it was not a walk over by any means I hasten to add…

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Of course none of our trips would be complete without a visit to a local flea market, the excitement came on the Sunday after Christmas with an early rise and road trip up to Granada, where the challenge began to find the illustrious Granada Flea Market. After an hour or so of navigating the beautiful Granada streets and a pit stop for a toastada, with our broken Spanish we managed to finally locate the highly anticipated flea market, which we  actually found is a fair way out of Granada itself if any of you do choose to hunt it down. It is in Mercadillo in the Western part of town, near the cemetery. It was worth the perseverance, our finds will follow, so do read on for these.

After filling our boots with bargains we ventured into the city to explore. Not as sunny as we had become accustomed to in The Costa Tropical and certainly a good 10 degrees cooler, we found ourselves in more familiar territory for this time of year  wrapped back up in our English togs, certainly enjoying the beautiful scenery and atmosphere Granada offers, but all secretly dreaming and looking forward to the blue sky and sunshine that would greet us later on back in our beloved La Herradura.

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We made sure we caught the sunset back in La Herradura on return from our exciting day out …

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So moving on to some of our finds which will make their first experience at North London Vintage Market’s first country affair out in Hatfield House in Hertfordshire on 25th January, be sure to come and see us here..hope you can make it.

Tins Gallore And  Colour For The New Year

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Tins

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Time For Tea

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We are always such a fan of strong colours, tins and enamel ware and it is definitely this year’s new look according to

Homes and Antiques Magazine this month ….

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Here’s to a colourful New Year and a happy one to everyone!

 

 

3 Ways To Bring Nature Inside In These Cold Dreary Months

In these cold dreary days sometimes it’s hard to pluck up the courage to venture outside and soak up some nature, so why not bring some of the outside in. Leading up to Christmas especially makes for a welcome use of natural foliage in the home, whether branches, berries, dried flowers and thistles, this is the time of year to bring nature indoors.

1. A glass bottle wielding dry flowers or some fresh green foliage is a great way to bring nature inside.

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2. During these cold months branches are a lovely way to bring the outside in, either left bare or adorned with some decorations they can be a welcome addition to the home.

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3.  We always love a splash of colour, some red berries in a glass jar on a table are a joyous way to bring colour and nature into the home, or moulded round into a reef and hung up, also just as effective.

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Click here for more ideas to bring nature in

Industrial, Inventive, Floating…3 Shelving Styles, Be Stylish Yet Organised

If you live in London like me, unless money is no object you may have come across the little problem of space, and lack of it being the problem! But this is not something that bothers the stylish Londoners, they have learnt to be savvy with their lot, making the most of the space they have in their homes, it may be small but it can of course be stylish. At the moment I am in the process of desperately saving to buy a home, maybe a little way off yet but it hasn’t stopped me thinking of and saving up ideas for when I finally get the little space I will call home.

This week clever shelving ideas have caught my eye…

Shelving…. a chance to show off your your treasured, worldly belongings, keeping organised but in an inspiring stylish fashion and not taking up any floor space, genius!

Industrial Style…

Engage with your urban side, I love this re use of old scaffolding to work as the main shelving structure and reclaimed planks of wood and an old shopping basket also makes for an inventive shelving unit.

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An Inventive Style …

Re using old wooden boxes and crates is a wonderful way to create stylish shelving, with an interesting variation in sizes and textures, creating a unique focal point to any room, whilst bringing in a sense of nostalgia. I love the old wooden lemonade drink crates you can sometimes still lay your hands on.

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Floating Style…

I love a floating shelf creating a beautiful room feature, carefully styled with interesting curiosities and paintings. Paintng the wall behind in blackboard paint is also a great way to create a creative space able to change with your mood and whims. Cleverly choosing woods in different sizes and textures can also create an interesing focal point.

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Blackboard paint

Being organised doesn’t need to be boring, even if you do only have a small space, in fact the smaller the space the more creative you need to be.