Taking time to talk with others face to face is good for the soul and the brain. Bouncing ideas off each other, sharing advice, we all need that in our lives and for me here, it opens up some interesting areas to talk about.
The beautiful world of bloggers can often be mis-understood, I don't believe that any of us are deliberately trying to pretend to have a perfect life, it's just that the very act of blogging can be a great way to focus on the positive. For some we just like to take and show photos of things we have created, or small meditations on the beauty of the simple things. The reasons for blogging are as varied and numbered as the stars.
This week I visited Tamsyn Morgans who was the winner of my first hashtag competition for Be Home Free. I cheekily asked if maybe I could deliver the prize in person so that I could photograph her house, and because Tamsyn is such a warm and generous person she agreed. So I packed the car and set the sat nav for Norwich. What was to greet me in a quiet little victorian street overlooking the city, was a dream.
Tamsyn is the force behind the blog 'The Villa On Mount Pleasant' - it is a virtual pastel world born out of the imagination of a stylist extraordinaire. For Tamsyn has the most amazing eye and feel for her interior decor, picking up only the right shades of pink, blush, teal, mint and turquoise and transforming everything with paint and elbow grease, she is an awesome talent.
But life hasn't always been a bed of roses for Tamsyn, as not so long ago her heart was broken and she became a single parent. We had the chance for a good old girly chat, swinging from the serious side of life to less important issues.
Like me, Tamsyn also took on a project home, just at the time of trauma in her life, she re-focused all her energy into making a damp and dirty, neglected and crumbling house into her vision. It takes quite an eye to see through dodgy decor when you are buying a place, but chances are, that if you've tried your hand at DIY before you can see the possibilities.
Not only did Tamsyn take on a project house but also started a new job, so found herself painting and scrubbing away at the floors and walls after she finished work in the evening. Painting furniture was nothing new, as Tamsyn had previously had a small business doing just that and her skills at mixing colour and applying the paint clearly shine through in this house.
There is so much to talk about I could make this a three part blog, so I hope the photos will do some of the talking for me.
The house is a terrace Victorian property with some lovely period features, like ceiling roses, fireplaces and wooden floors. The furniture and collections are mostly picked up at car boot fairs, and I think you will agree that this lady has got an eye for a buy. With the help of her Dad, the kitchen, although tiny, has been fitted out very cleverly. Instead of fitted modern units they found some free standing furniture and wall cupboards, open shelves and doors made from pallets. There are quite a few similarities to my home, I also like the kitchenalia on show, particularly if you have some lovely enamel ware and tins.
In the garden is a cute little summer house, with a wrought iron bed, lovely prints and furniture . Then, just when you think you have been wowed enough, you see the upstairs and the view from the double fronted bedroom.
Roses are definitely a theme, Tamsyn is drawn to finding these lovely old prints which look great framed and un-framed. Normally I don't like prints pinned directly onto the wall, but here it works so well, somehow this lady just has the knack. She has given me so many ideas. Someone should give her a book deal.
Sometimes when things get tough, amazingly you can find the strength to move yourself along, and I hope that some of what I write hear can speak to anyone going through a rough time. Please trust that it won't last forever.
Tamsyn packed her bags and moved from the posh side of town to a little run down place that needed gutting. Her two children were not particularly impressed and it's taken some time for them to see what their clever mum is capable of. I think it's a great role model for children to see a mum who works and, at the end of the day, pulls on her overalls and gets down on her knees to scrape the grime and paint off the surfaces, to reveal the beauty underneath.
The results are plain to see here, doing all the work herself, Tamsyn is proof that there is a new life waiting when it all goes awry, providing you put in the work.
I know what a labour of love it can be. Days spent painting woodwork turned into months for me, sitting on my own and developing hand cramps from holding the brush for so long. A person can go quite bonkers! Perhaps though, doing up a neglected house is a way to literally show how we are re-building our lives from scratch. For me that was true, both my parents died and I decided to leave London for a completely fresh start. This is pretty much the same for Tamsyn. The house has become a symbol of the new beginning, the space in which we now inhabit speaking of who we are now and who we want to become.
The craft work room is, like everything else; glorious! Lovely stacks of vintage fabrics, mood boards of paint colours, and little clippings for inspiration.
The pastel staircase half way down the hall is like the climb to a fairytale castle at the top. The bedroom has a bay window with a view and space for chairs, using old french garden furniture indoors is also something I've done too, complete with rust.
We chatted quite a bit about paint as you can imagine, and I was telling Tamsyn about how to mix the chalk paint by Annie Sloan. We had been given little tester pots in our conference goody bags, only Tamsyn had red which wasn't exactly her colour. I suggested that she gets a tin of old white and some other tester pots, so she can mix the red into a perfect pink shade. Her eye for the perfect shade is clearly displayed in this house and many of the artworks on the walls are also by this lady. Sticking to your guns and only accepting a certain colour palette is quite an achievement, so mixing your own colours becomes quite important for the finished result.
Hopefully she will have time to do more of this soon as Tamsyn has decided to become freelance as a stylist. Now that most of the house is done, she has found the confidence to leave full time employment and push herself once more into following her heart.
I'm completely convinced that Tamsyn is just the right sort of person to go it alone in work, she is lovely to be around, gracious in manner and fun to chat with, but freelance work isn't for everyone. You need to have good contacts, be very reliable and put in one hundred per cent. Myself and Tamsyn are both pretty good at self-motivation, you have to be when renovating a house! It's an essential in self-employment. Chatting about the future got me thinking about what it takes to be successful and get your life in balance, not always the same things.
Giving up a job that sucks the life out of you is probably a familiar scenario for many and not something to be done lightly. Use this time to learn and plan, if you manage to save some money and get all your connections in place, then the work you want to do will hopefully come your way. I got to thinking though, that 'people skills' should not be underestimated. Tamsyn has these in bucket loads and life experiences can teach you a lot on this front, so never imagine that someone's beautiful life has just happened over night.
Freelance work means that you are representing yourself, so you really need to know how to promote your own skills effectively. Face to face contact and an easy manner doesn't come naturally to a lot of younger people I've noticed, too much time spent on the web can leave them lacking in social graces. This can be quite a downfall if your job involves contact with other human beings, especially if they are the ones paying your wages, and it won't help you in stressful times. In some areas of business now it is considered acceptable to pop onto social media for promotion purposes, but this is a very tricky area. Picking up your phone and looking at it when others are in the room and need to be attended to, is not professional, full stop.
Freelance work can be a minefield if you don't have a good solid background of the basics. Those menial jobs after school, junior positions after college, they will pay dividends later.
I think that having a lot of followers on instagram or twitter may delude some people into thinking they are popular and it gives them a false sense of importance. But these followers don't pay the rent. Upset three people in person and you could find yourself a thousand pounds lighter in the wallet so be careful about becoming self-employed if you have any doubts about your own abilities to communicate or be polite.
So here I'm trying to keep it real. Doing up a house when life has hit you the hardest can be too much for some and cathartic for others. Leaving a PAYE job to go freelance is great if you can rely on yourself but not if you can't sell yourself in the right manner. However, if you can find the strength to make life changes you won't regret it. Ask for help when you need it, and talk to people, not just on the net but face to face.
As a man once said 'Be the architect of your own destiny.'
Tamsyn Morgans is a true inspiration in every respect, please show her some love by finding her on Instagram and Pinterest, she is the living proof that nice things happen to nice people, but only after they have put in the groundwork!
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