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Before & after: a mini makeover

It's amazing how different you can make a room feel with just a little rejigging. I've had the sideboard in the living room arranged like this for ages. But I've always felt that the print on the left, a piece I love by the artist Claire Scully, got slightly lost.

You'd be hard pushed to see that it depicts a giant squirrel climbing an urban tower block. The whole corner had also started feeling a bit cluttered as I filled the rest of the room with more stuff. But stuck for inspiration, it remained pretty much like this.

And then three new things came into the house. One bought by me, one bought by my boyfriend and one revamped from the house clearing I did after my dear gran died last year. But before I get into those, here's how the sideboard looks now. Much cleaner and a bit more grown up I think. What do you reckon?

So the largest of the new things is the print on the left. It's from the south London art gallery, Peckham Space, but via the design website CultureLabel – which, if you don't know, you should: incredible for presents, though dangerous for window shopping.

The print is called the Black Music Map of South London and I wrote about it on Below the River, the other website I edit (where you can also click to enlarge it and have a proper look). In short, it is a Tube-like map featuring everything from significant street corners to legendary record shops and the locations of often obscure RnB and dancehall nights. Many of which I've been to. So. I had to have it.

But, largely because it cost £85 that I didn't really have going spare, it's something I looked at for ages and didn't buy. I kept thinking about it, though, and telling people about it and eventually realised that I loved it enough for it not to be something I'd buy and then get sick of (and on the Shopping Justification List, that comes pretty high. Here's another one, in case you get shopping guilt too: if a close friend buys something they also can't justify/afford at the same time as you do, it cancels out the cost of your purchase. Honest).

The second new thing is the lamp. Well, new/old, as it was my gran's and I've just had it rewired as you can see. You might have read the post about all the things I brought back from her house a while back. (And I should take some photos of what's happened to all the other stuff too.) Looks a bit perkier now, doesn't it? I got the brilliant neon wire from Fabric Cable – initially though, being three-core (made up of a trio of strands) it was too thick to go through the holes in the arm. The electrician cunningly stripped it down to two where necessary and bingo.

Finally, this beautiful sculpture completes the new arrangement.

It was made by our very talented neighbour Emma Broughton (see the tour of her lovely home here). I took my boyfriend to her private view in the summer – to mark the end of her stint as a fellow at the prestigious City and Guilds London Art School – and we both fell in love with her strangely poignant series of pigeon sculptures. She depicts the birds as battered by urban life, as they are, and yet dignified and full of character. He bought one of them on the spot.

In fact, he bought Emma's time making us a new one as none of the ones in the show were available. And, below, you can see how this one took shape.

Emma currently has a piece of work in the Mall Galleries, where she's up for the dizzyingly impressive Threadneedle Prize for sculpture and painting. If happen to be nearby today, there's still time to vote for her work to win the People's Choice award. Meanwhile, I'm now looking at the rest of my living room and thinking that looks a bit tired too – I think my one-corner makeover is going to spread.

The Threadneedle Prize, Mall Galleries, 17 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5BD. Entry is free. Voting before 5pm, and the £10,000 prize winner is announced at a party between 6pm - 8pm. And you can see more of Emma's work at

Post by Kate

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