Do you marvel at the glossy pages of interior design magazines and wonder how people seem to have impeccable interior design style and taste?

Try as hard as you might, you look at your own living room, dining room, study and bedroom and find that somehow, they lack a ‘certain something’. Is this ‘certain something’ the best-kept secret in interior design, you may ask? What is it that stops your interior design style looking individual and yet cohesive?

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Take a look at some of these insider tips and enhance your interior design style (and better still, they come in under budget too!).

Work with what you’ve got

It becomes expensive if you are constantly chasing a certain look or style and in an effort to grab it, you are continually buying new furniture and replacing the soft furnishings. With this in mind, the following insider tips are principles that can be applied to the furniture and items you already have in a space.
At the mid-way point of summer holidays, I am sure that many parents are running out of things to do and children may start being more difficult to entertain. I'm not an iPad parent as such but I don't think there's any harm in giving children some screen time, as long as you know what they're using and it's one of many things that they might do in the day.

Ethan often asks to watch or play something in the mornings or when we get back from preschool. Not always, as more often than not he manages to sleep in until I wake him, but he has favourite shows on Netflix or films on DisneyLife like most kids and we also have a few apps too that he likes to play on.

We've just been introduced to the Toddler Fun Learning app, which was created by education experts and features not just a fun range of videos and games offering something to learn, but also has parenting features so you can limit the time your little one has to play.

I love a bargain as much as the next person, and you can always rely on Aldi for a great deal. Their fab Toddler and Baby Event is back and it starts in store TODAY - so a brilliant time to pick up a bargain.

I've been fortunate to work with Aldi a few times over the years as Ethan has grown up and quickly came to love their baby range, from Mamia nappies, wipes and toiletries, to the snacks that are great for toddlers. 

This time, with him being that little bit older, Ethan's been treated to some new bath toys. Bath toys do seem to need replacing every so often, no matter how well you look after them, and there's some really fun ones in the new event - including these foam alphabet and number shapes, which are great for us to squeeze in a little learning fun amongst the soaking and splashing.

With the weather yo-yo-ing between clouds and rain and spells of lovely sunshine, it's fair to say we've had a typical British summer so far and the time we get to spend outdoors may be a little less than we would like. I actually managed to have my first BBQ of the year last weekend, when the sun had it's hat on for a little while, and it was really nice to spend some time outdoors with family, enjoying the garden, the company and of course, the weather.

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It's a shame that our summers often leave us disappointed and I would love to spend more time outdoors in our own garden, but it's just been so damp and dreary. Add to this the fact that any period of rain causes grass (and weeds) to shoot up all over the place in next to no time, and our garden can quickly become unruly so it takes a lot of time and effort to get it back into order.

All of this makes me think that the best way to go is artificial grass. Realistic, easy to install and very easy to maintain, it can help create a luscious looking garden, all year round, come rain or shine. It's a great choice for families and for pets too as it's soft to play on and I really think it would make a big difference to our space - when we get the chance to use it, but also every day, when we look out the window to see a beautiful green lawn.

If summer has let you down and you'd like to give your garden a boost now and for the months and years ahead, then this competition could be for you...

Hubs and I have been together for over 13 years, married for almost seven, with a four year old about to go to school. Add to that the fact we like collecting things, used to own over 700 DVD's (still have many of them, just without the boxes) and I'm sentimental thing who finds it hard to throw things away, and we have accumulated A LOT of stuff.

When we overhauled our lounge last year, we had a skip for all the rubble and the old fireplace, so we took the opportunity to get rid of quite a few things while we were at it. I don't know how it happens, but you do just seem to gather so many things over the years. Like it quietly multiplies at night, while you are sleeping.

Even with paperless bills for the most part, we seem to have paperwork coming out of our ears and with the weather being like it is, the summer / winter clothes rotation doesn't always work so we have a spare room full of laundry to be sorted and spare bedding for when the weather gets cooler or warmer again. There's even a floor fan in there, just in case it may be needed again this year (if we're lucky!).

For a couple of years now, Ste and I take turns when it comes to Ethan's bedtime routine and he can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour and a half to fall asleep - which means that we don't really get all that much time to ourselves. When my day starts at 6am, and with us both working full time, there's a lot to pack into our days, and even more so when Ethan starts school in September, so we have to find small ways to fit in some 'me time'.

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Of course, like many families, we love a bit of a box set binge and often there will be hubs watching one thing and I'll be watching something else on the iPad, although there's a couple of things we are catching up on together at the moment.

At the end of a long day, a bit of telly is called for, right?

We are also guilty, like most people, of spending a lot of time online, be it watching YouTube video after YouTube video or, in my case, catching up with my social media feeds. And occasionally, Ste will pop online, play a scratchcard or other online game, and win a few pounds here and there.

Like most people, I like to save money wherever I can and I love reading about people's hints and tricks when it comes to pinching the pennies. Whether you're a coupon queen or love to compare the market, there's lots of ways to save some cash here and there if you're willing to look around and plan out your budget.

I'm all about budgeting, at least in theory (!), and have a spreadsheet set up detailing all our incomings and outgoings month-by-month, so I know where we stand, what we can save - and what we can play with.

Here are the top three ways in which I try to save money for the fun, or necessary, things in life, without really thinking about it...

Thomas Land at Drayton Manor is one of our favourite places to go for a fun family day out, as it's close to home (we're in Birmingham) and offers a lot of different experiences in one place, all year round.

Ethan, like many boys and girls, has loved Thomas the Tank Engine since a young age and having the chance to see the characters comes to life never fails to put a big smile on his face. At the weekend, we were invited along for a family day out - our first visit since we went to the Magical Christmas event last December (tickets are on sale already for this year) - and although it was busy because of the summer holidays, we still had a great time.

Here's our favourite things to do:

For most of my professional career, I have worked in an office. Both smaller spaces and open plan layouts, with lots going on around me. It's certainly a change from when I'm working at home at my desk!

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I'm very particular about my desk environment and in offices I've worked with in the past, I've found it difficult to get comfortable. I do suffer with back pain, related to how many hours I have spent at a desk over the past 12 years (thankfully less so these days) and I know that having the right desk set-up is an important part of health and safety in the workplace. Having your computer at eye level, feet on the floor, legs and arms at a 90 degree angle... all of this helps you to maintain a good posture and just make your time at your desk much more comfortable.

What does a mum look like? I'm one of those people who was and still is determined to look like and dress like I want, as it shouldn't matter what you wear whether you're a mum or not. I think a lot of new mums fear the idea of looking 'mumsy' and I'd say that we all want to hold onto the 'old' us, even if our clutch bags get replaced with changing bags.

I don't think my style has changed since becoming a mum but at weekends and when running around after Ethan, I do have a preferred, go-to look that's easy to put together and comfy too. You could call it my muniform - mum uniform - and with some help from JD Williams, I have an outfit to share with you that fits my personality and my lifestyle as a mum of one too.

Take a pair of skinny jeans / jeggings, add a bold tee, throw on a biker or bomber jacket and then finish with some Converse or pumps (I hung up my heels, for the most part, a long time ago - I'd rather be comfortable!).

I found some great new season pieces at JD Williams, from women's tops to maxi dresses, but decided to update my mumiform with three new pieces that tap into a few of the latest trends... (oooh get me, trying to be all trendy!):

I'm really excited to share with you the full review of our grey and yellow themed lounge, which we transformed in terms of decor and layout last year, and have just updated with some new finishing touches and two feature walls - with a little help from Posterlounge.

If you saw my mini makeover part one post last week, you'll have seen that we turned one big wall into a feature wall using eight alternative movie poster prints from the Harry Potter franchise that I picked out from the range online at Posterlounge. I love everything to do with the wizarding world of Harry Potter and these posters are so fun and really make an impact.

But I didn't just stop at one wall. Oh no!

So, the summer holidays have begun and so too have the days our, special events and great offers to be had. This is the last summer break for us before Ethan starts school and whilst we are still at work, with some holiday time, we are packing lots into our weekends and have a summer wishlist / bucket list of things we want to do - and one of them was to visit the new Octo-Glow event at National Sea Life Centre Birmingham.

Ethan is a HUGE fan of the Octonauts and still talks about when he first met them at the Sea Life Centre a couple of years' ago. He also LOVES going to visit the penguins, sharks, Dori and Nemo fish (as he calls them) and the sea turtle too and last weekend was no different.

In our house, we love nothing more than dimming the lights, getting the popcorn ready and putting on our favourite film on our own version of the big screen. Hubs and I met at Blockbuster when we were working there as students, and we clicked (sorry!) over our love of film, years later having a movie twist to our wedding theme and amassing over 700 DVD's (most of which we just have digitally now!).

It was inevitable that Ethan too would grow up to love films, particularly Disney, and he's pretty partial to popcorn too.

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Whilst going out is great, home is where it's at for us and we like transforming our lounge into our own cinema, popcorn, snacks and all, and of course, cuddles on the sofa.

And it seems we're not alone. Many other Brits, and Brummies, are happiest when doing just this.
The Gruffalo is perhaps the most read and most loved book in Ethan's library, and a firm bedtime reading favourite since he was little, which is why I am excited to announce a new link up between Organix and Chessington World of Adventures Resort with this special competition.

We recently went to Chessington World of Adventures Resort for Ethan's fourth birthday, specifically as they have the new Gruffalo River Ride Adventure, and when we started our weaning journey, Organix was a range that I always had in the cupboard - and still sometimes do as their organic baby / toddler snacks are really handy to have and Ethan loves them.

Organix Goodies has partnered with Chessington World of Adventures Resort and its new Gruffalo River Ride Adventure to offer little explorers (and us mums and dads too) the chance to GO FREE!
So, I may love the Harry Potter books, films and world and I may have the Deathly Hallows symbol tattooed on my arm, and we may have called one of our new rabbits Gryffin, but I'm not a complete fanatic - I just love the magical wizarding world, like I'm sure many of you do too.

That being said, with the updates we have just added to our yellow and grey themed lounge following the big makeover last year, you might not believe me...

It all started with a lovely email from the friendly people at Posterlounge - a great online site that specialises in (you guessed it) posters, and canvas prints, in a choice of sizes to suit the space you have, on a whole host of themes from art and film to music and motivational quotes.

They asked if there was anything I might like to review and that's where I quickly became obsessed... I discovered really quirky versions of the film posters for Harry Potter, where the essence of the film is captured through a number of icons. The minimalist design was clever and eye-catching, and I've always liked alternative art like this as it's fun and playful. Of course, I couldn't just choose one of the film posters from the franchise, so I quickly added all eight to my basket and thought I'd work out where to put them later (possibly going up the side of the stairs). A trip to Ikea for frames would be needed!
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