Herbie goes bananas!

Firstly, let me recap. We bought a huge renovation project back in February, in a lovely village called Cranfield. It took an age to find the right house as our demanding list exasperated all the estate agents. We wanted:

  1. Somewhere we could renovate not wanting to spend a premium for someone elses work (and as Mr YVL is a carpenter this obviously made sense)
  2. Somewhere we could add value too
  3. Somewhere in a village
  4. Somewhere near good schools (there were only 3 upper schools in the whole county I wanted to live near)
  5. Somewhere with a large garden as we grow our veg and have chickens
  6. Somewhere with a double garage for our camper van
  7. Somewhere where I could work from home and keep a lot of my stock
  8. Somewhere detached
  9. Somewhere with 4 bedrooms
  10. Somewhere where we could live with 4 adults in the future as we want to be here for a long time.

Phew, you can see why it took a while to find it! But we did, and last February we moved in.

It’s a 1920s house which hasn’t seen work since the 60s. It is our Patterned Palace (check out the blog here) with an array of swirls and patterns. It even came with it’s own starburst clock, lights, and phones that were thankfully left for us!

So slowly we have started to renovate. First job was to stabilise the chimney breast which had been removed and not supported. Mr YVL did that quickly himself. He then mended the holes in the roof and insulated the loft. Good job!

Next we did our bedroom. We were not planning on doing this as we had decided to start the garden first. We needed to dig the veg beds, plant all the fruit plants we divided from our last home and most importantly, give the chickens their new home.

One day I was feeling down about waking up in all the mess so I started to strip the wallpaper. Mr YVL came home from work, saw the wallpaper half down, got a little excited and took over! 2 weeks later the room was done with the lovely FiFi wallpaper from Sanderson. It’s an old 50s print which was found in someones loft! Read all about it here.

Next up was the playroom. Giving up one of the reception rooms was an excellent idea. No more CBeebies for me in the adults lounge! There was a horrid old gas fire which we couldn’t remove as it was integral to the boiler, so we built a cover. This is now a huge shelf for the vintage Fisher Price toys!! This room isn’t as bare as it looks here…it is now full of toys and pictures!!!

Next was the lounge. A white and teal retro affair all based around a Mucha print. Read all about it here.

Now to the present. This Christmas, Santa brought Herbie a bedroom! Anyone that has followed this journey will know that his room was by far the worst. The previous owners had removed the chimney breast from the room and left it unsupported. They then added french doors to an upstairs room with no balcony. On top of this was a wooden lintel which had rotted. This meant that the wall had dropped slightly. To add to this they hadn’t bothered to install a radiator so the room was damp from condensation. It was smelly from this so they locked the door and forgot about it. I remember when we looked round the house it was the room I didn’t fancy going in to even look at!

So, all that has been repaired by Mr YVL of course (clever man). A window has been added and of course, heating!

When we were moving we asked Herbie (only 2 years old at the time) what he wanted his room to look like. He thought long and hard putting his finger to his mouth in a comic thinking type way! He then announced “I’ve had a good idea!”. “Go on” we said.

“I would like a camper van room”. So a camper van room he has!

It’s full of modern stuff of course (the only room so far!) but there are some lovely handmade touches. Our friend Kim made 3 canvas paintings for him.

Caroline from Dotty’s Heart (read all about her here) made him a picture for his door.

I had made a canvas of photos of our camper van, Florence!

There is even a great photo of us a few years back in a Herbie beetle!

His campers are all out on display including his 1970s Fisher Price one.

And of course, no room can get away without a 60s light, a retro mirror and a bin!

So, on Christmas Day Herbie got his room and yes, he went bananas!


Play Away!

Hot on the heels of our first room to be finished in our renovation project (as written about in our blog: Fabulous Fifi) we have this week completed our second room!

Our first result was calm and relaxing and…ours! The second is the playroom. We decided some time ago to give up the stand alone dining room….handing it over to our two small children, Herbie (3) and Kitty (1). With the thought of no kids TV in our lounge and no toys underfoot, we have been spurred on to get them to play away in their own little lounge.

So…..we filled it with my turquoise Formica topped  1950s furniture. It is lovely with black and gold swirls all over it…and more importantly it is wipeable! The table has screw on black splayed legs and is now their art table.

Yes, the paint is now banned from my Ercol elm dining table and I am now a lot calmer!

The sideboard is so cute with its cream and white paintwork and blue top. Again perfect for little ones….any marks can be simply re-touched with a bit of paint.

The modern TV stands on this..alongside the vintage toy version.

The old room had an unsightly 70s fireplace in front of the back boiler. We found out it cannot be replaced without changing the boiler…so we built a cover. You now can’t imaging its hiding such a monster…and has now doubled up as a mantlepiece with some of the favourite toys on. Now this house LOVES vintage Fisher Price..and here is just some of it.

The camper van is a firm favourite especially as we have a 1967 VW split screen. The top comes off and forms a boat. Then there’s the record player. I actually played with this when I was younger and is still going strong. As mentioned in our magazine article “Play the Vintage Way” for Vintage Life magazine we think they are fantastic toys especially as they don’t need batteries.

Gosh then there’s the cash register..again my favourite toy when I was younger (maybe a clue that i would spend 20 years in retail)…I used to charge my family to buy tinned food that of course was theres. I would then keep the money! Herbie seems to be repeating history.

The chatter phone and the cottage join them. We also have…are you ready: the farm, the zoo, the school, the Happy Apple, the Jack in the box, the radio, the activity centre, 2 chime balls..the list goes on!

They have shelves in the alcove for all their stacking boxes of yet more toys. The Fisher Price airport and garage stand proud on the first shelf. You can just see their 1970s Tupperware shape sorter in the picture!

We have chosen joint toys for this room..Kitty’s collection of dolls with their rocking crib, high chair and pram all dating from the 1950s will be in her room. Herbie’s ridiculous collection of Tonka trucks will be in his room. So we have Pegasus, the 1970s rocking horse left for them to share, along side wooden bricks and the metal toys.

These were very popular in the 1950s.. factories were given up for war manufacturing during the 40s which resulted in a huge boom in the 50s with metal becoming available again. Often toys replicated the toys of the parents…such as this Mettype typewriter.

We have a great Chad Valley spinning top and kaleidoscope too!

All their cafe/cooking toys (modern) are kept in my 1950s basket….I seem to have lost that one!

So, back to the interior design…those lucky 2 have a great pair of 60s stripe curtains and one of the best lights in the house! It has squares of bright blue glass all around, giving off a lovely glow when switched on. It was a real bargain too…it was free! Adam found it at a house restoration he was working on..it was in the garage about to be skipped. All the builders on site  laughed at his glee…..! We just need things for the wall…a clock, bookcase and pin board for all their drawings.

So children…do you like it? I guess that’s a yes then!

Play The Vintage Way!

To celebrate the launch of our new shop category: Your Vintage Playroom, we wanted to share with you our latest magazine article. Your Vintage Life writes for the fabulous publication with a similar name: Vintage Life Nostalgia magazine. “Play the Vintage way” is an inspiration piece to give ideas on how to create a vintage nursery or playroom.

Play the vintage way

Children today live in a battery operated world. In years gone by, they played with wood or metal toys passed down through the generations, lovingly worn from years of play. Families came together to play board games rather than games consoles. Toys begged you to use your imagination rather than rewarding you for simply pressing a button.

Why not create a vintage nursery or playroom with a sense of nostalgia and innocence. Follow these ideas to take you back in time and give hours of enjoyment watching your kids playing with your old favourites!


Metal toys were popular in the ’50s, often mirroring the grown up toys that our parents used such as typewriters and sewing machines. Before now, children were working more than playing therefore had fewer toys, often playing with just a few favourites. These would be hand crafted wooden toys such as dolls, trains and boats.

 In the ’40s, toy factories were given up to the war effort so in the ’50s there was a boom in production. Classic metal toys to fill your playroom are the spinning top, kaleidoscope and musical instruments such as tambourines.

Chad Valley made a great selection of these in primary colours with cute kids on. These can brighten up a toy shelf, adding touches of nostalgia as well providing great play.

In the late ’60s robust plastic toys made by Fisher Price became popular.

A favourite is the record player with lullaby records: turn the winder, move the stylus and listen to nursery rhymes. These are simple, mechanical and importantly, still working today. They also produced a telephone, radio and TV …still replicating the grown up toys just as a decade earlier. Remember the airport, the garage, the school house? It’s not just for older children either: the Happy Apple, chime ball and cot activity centre stimulate early senses and are perfect for a nursery.


We should all read a bedtime story to our little ones, but why not consider a vintage story book. In 1940 Ladybird published their first series for children, which included stories such as Bunnikins Picnic.

These were simple stories told in verse with colourful pictures. Children loved them for their simplicity, parents loved them for their educational value and low price. The Key Word Reading Scheme introduced in the ’60s helped children to recognise simple words quickly and still works today…how many of us remember Peter and Jane? Be careful though as some are not considered politically correct (A is for Armoured vehicle for example)and women may take offence at the role of “mother” which isn’t what it is today! Vintage fans will love the pictures from the ’50s editions with swing dresses, Kelly handbags and pretty tea cups.

These classic books, along with Beatrix Potter and A.A Milne, will remind you of being read to as a child and are still loved today. Collect them with the dust covers on for added nostalgia!


Every little girl loves a doll and the vintage ones are best.

 In the ’50s, hard plastic dolls made in England by Roddy, Pedigree and Rosebud were most desired. With their mohair wigs, jointed limbs and blinking eyes, they will really add that vintage look to a nursery. Dress them up in vintage rompers, sit them in a wooden high chair, wheel them around in an old pram, rock them in a wooden crib….all will add theatre to a little girl’s room. For boys, choose a stuffed horse on wheels to help with those first precious steps.

 The finishing touches

Vintage home furnishings soften any nursery with their pastel colours and home made feel, such as chunky knitted cot blankets and character curtains. Why not store toys in a blanket box? Perfect for a little girl with cute flowers, soft styling and roomy enough for all her things. Or make bunting our of their patterned, outgrown clothes?

Keep the room tidy by storing pens and chalks in vintage tins. Early sweet tins often came with children’s pictures on. Huntley and Palmer’s produced iced biscuit tins with Noddy and Muffin the Mule on, Sharp produced toffee tins with an animated Noah’s Ark on, even the early Quality Street tins would look great.

Adorn out of reach shelves with vintage ceramics. Characters such as Holly Hobby and Peter Rabbit on vases, bells and bowls will give a nursery a personal feel. These were traditional Christening presents which would always be out on display.

We have done all of this with our children’s rooms. The result? They value their toys, we save a fortune in batteries and it’s great to hear a lullaby rather than a robotic voice! Most of all, we get hours of pleasure reminiscing our own childhood while they ride their old rocking horse!