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The Tidy Books UK Blog

  • From the violin workshop to the Homeland set

    Have you been watching ‘Homeland’? Whether you just drop in from time to time, or you’re a devoted fan, you may well have spotted a Tidy Books bookcase in Carrie’s New York apartment.

    Set designers for TV series like Homeland leave no detail to chance. So I was just a little bit gobsmacked to see one of my bookcases in Carrie Mathison’s daughter’s bedroom. How did the kid’s bookcase that I made in my violin workshop make its way to the set of an iconic show? I tracked down the team on the Homeland set to find out.

    In a surreal, but uplifting phone conversation with the Homeland production assistant, she told me how rigorously they pin down every detail on the film set.  She gave me a fascinating insight into the process of choosing each item for the show, including the bookcase, telling me; “You would not believe how many people it goes through before it gets agreed.”

    Franny’s bedroom, where much of the action takes place, has been painstakingly put together. The set production team begin with a brainstorm, and then the shopper researches and gathers potential items; think furniture, curtains, toys. The shopper takes hundreds of photographs to test how they will work on screen. Next, each product is scrutinised by the concept designer and the set designer until they have created exactly the right look to frame the story, right down to a vase on the windowsill or a picture on the wall. 

    I couldn’t help but be impressed; Carrie’s apartment in New York is seriously smart and Franny’s room, where Quinn and Saul talk to Franny and Carrie is a child’s dream; cute, stylish and cosy. And the bookcase fits perfectly!

    The conversation I had with the Homeland production assistant was a magical moment; the bookcase that I’d created for my daughter in my violin workshop in East London, because I couldn’t find a good kid’s bookcase, has travelled to the set of an iconic TV series which has fans all over the world. The production assistant was delighted that we’d got in touch - I think the magic resonated her too.

    It takes me back to how Tidy Books started, when I was watching my daughter Adele, then aged 3, getting frustrated with trying to find the book she wanted on a traditional book shelf. In that moment, I knew what sort of bookcase she needed. And when I couldn’t find what I needed in the shops, I set about making my own design in my violin workshop once Adele had been tucked in for the night.

    As the drama unfolds, key scenes take place in Franny’s room, with Quinn and Saul sitting on the bed to talk to Franny, and Carrie; there are plenty of opportunities to spot the Tidy Books bookcase! My favourite scene so far is where Quinn and Carrie are gathering items for Franny in her foster home, and Carrie picks out a book from the bookcase. I’ve got a little glimmer of hope that Franny’s love of books will be a comfort while she’s away from home.

    When I set up Tidy Books with a £500 investment; I couldn’t have envisaged that one real-life mother-daughter would be connected with a fictional mother-daughter in Homeland by my bookcase!

    So, next Sunday evening, if you tune into Homeland, it’s highly likely you’ll spot Franny’s Tidy Books bookcase. It’s been part of the action in most episodes so far, and as Carrie fights to bring her daughter home, it’s sure to feature again.

    You can see how the plot will unfold in this trailer. Will you be watching on Sunday?

  • Kid’s furniture that’s got style

    When I started Tidy Books 13 years ago, I remember a huge truck turned up outside my house in Walthamstow, East London, with a delivery of pallets. The truck was so big it blocked the whole street and it stayed there for hours while everything was unloaded. I was mortified, but thankfully my lovely neighbours were very understanding – and patient!

    The incident made me realise how lucky I was to live and work in such a great area, and as Tidy Books has grown into an international business I still feel incredibly fortunate to be here.

    I was reminded of this a while ago when I was launching a new colour range and needed somewhere local for a photo shoot. Through a friend of a friend I found just what I was looking for – a house that had an open-plan design with kitchen, living room and kids’ play area.

    The reason I Iaunched the new colours – soft white, pale grey and dark grey – was so that my children’s furniture, while still functional, would look stylish in any room. At the shoot, I was delighted to see how beautifully and seamlessly the colour range blended into the family’s living space (and they seemed to love it too).

    Open-plan living is an ongoing trend and I love the idea of families sharing their living space rather than children playing separately in their bedrooms. It feels like a nice way of being together yet still having a sense of autonomy and the space to do your own thing. It’s what Tidy Books is all about – encouraging children to become independent as they learn and grow.

    The products aren’t designed just for open-plan living, though. I ensure all my children’s furniture is robust without being bulky so it can fit into small rooms and tiny spaces. As a mum of two, I know how important it is for kids’ furniture to work in the home. And now, with the new colour range, Tidy Book’s furniture can come out of the closet – or, rather, the kids’ bedrooms – and be a stylish addition to any room in your house.

    *How do you organise the kid's stuff?

  • My apron love...

    It’s funny what you pick up from your childhood and bring into your adult life. Growing up, I remember my mother and grandmother always wearing an apron around the house – and now that’s exactly what I do.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some sort of 1950s-style housewife wafting around the house with a duster. I simply like hanging out in an apron, preferably a nice, big industrial-style one. My aprons have to have pockets, though. It means I can put my mobile phone and headphones in them so whatever I’m doing I can chat with my friends in France (trust me, these are long conversations so multi-tasking is essential!).

    As soon as I get home from work I head straight for the kitchen where my apron is hanging up on my ForgetMeNot family organiser. Actually, I have two organisers, side by side, because I find them so useful. There are letters and appointment cards stuck to the magnetic board, keys hung on the hooks plus pens, my glasses, the cat’s favourite toy and some kitchen bits on the shelf.

    Those organisers are the central hub of my house. Rather than having things scattered around all over the place, everything is in one area. Honestly, it saves so much time – not to mention stress – knowing exactly where I can find things. And, of course, my trusty apron is always there waiting for me.

    Sadly, my husband and two children haven’t adopted my love of wearing aprons yet. Still, if they ever do, I know just the place where they can hang theirs...

    P.S. Use promo code APRON25 at the checkout to get 25% off The Tidy Books ForgetMeNot in White.

  • International Book Giving Day

    I’ve just read an incredibly sad statistic. Almost one in eight children in the UK has never received a book as a present, according to the National Literacy Trust. It’s upsetting to know that, for whatever reason, so many kids could be missing out on such a wonderful gift.

    As a parent, I’ve always bought books as presents for my kids. Over the years, giving them books has given me a great deal of joy as I’ve watched them unwrap their gift and excitedly open their new book. I’ve loved seeing them with their head buried in the pages, soaking up the pictures and words as they’ve got lost in the story.

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all children could be given the gift of a book to encourage and nourish their love of reading? Well, one fantastic initiative is working to help make that happen. Held every year on 14th February, International Book Giving Day was set up with the aim of getting a book to as many children as possible.

    What’s great is that it’s really easy to get involved. You can donate kids’ books to a charity, children’s hospital, hospice or refuge. You could pop one round to your neighbours’ kids. Or you might want to leave a book somewhere a child might find it, like a dentist’s waiting room. You could even make the gift really special by wrapping it up and adding a note.

    I love this idea – but of course, you don’t have to contain your book-giving to Valentine’s Day! Here at Tidy Books, we’re passionate about getting books to kids all year round, which is why on the first Friday of each month you can donate your quality books to us. We then pass on the books to the charity Give a Book, who give them to school breakfast clubs. If you live in the area why not pop your kids’ books into us – we’re at 10 Hatherley Mews, Walthamstow, London E17 4QP.

    * Are you giving someone a book this Valentine’s? Why not drop me a line and tell me about it. I’m excited about every single child that gets to experience the magic of books.

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