Archive | October, 2013

Sew much fun!

29 Oct

White room flyer front

Looking for something unusual for my styling shoot the other week (see two posts ago), I decided I wanted handmade cushions. In theory, it’s incredibly easy if you make ones where the back tucks into itself like a pillowcase, rather than having to fit a zip.

But with a sewing machine still in it’s box and no idea how on earth to start, I turned to my local sewing cafe, The White Room SE4 (www.thewhiteroomse4.co.uk) for help. Popping up all over the country, sewing cafes are a place where you can hire sewing machines by the hour, take courses in everything from beginner’s basics and pattern cutting, to making skirts to winter capes… plus enjoy a cake and a cuppa at the same time. The White Room also sells gorgeous clothes too, designed by the lovely Nicky, a fashion designer who’s sold her range everywhere from ASOS to Top Shop and Warehouse over the years.

Anyhow, Nicky kindly ran up a couple of cushions and some blinds for me using the amazing Woodland fabric – covered in little squirrels, birds acorns and leaves – from Scion (www.scion.uk.com). The results were better than I could have expected – and completely unique!

Flat Shots

Handmade cushion in Scion Woodland fabric

I’m now determined to master sewing myself, and am planning to sign up for one of Nicky’s “How to use a sewing machine” beginners’ courses. For £30, over two hours, they’ll teach me all the basics, and hopefully give me a skill I’ll keep and use for life. In fact, I even took my craft-oholic friend Emma there as her pre-wedding present (I made a slightly wonky bag; she had a go at machine embroidery and took to it immediately, as you can see below).

Sewing at the White Room 2

Sewing at the White Room 7

So, if you’re in London and want to have a go yourself – or want to give a session to a friend as a gift – I thoroughly recommend it. Don’t live near the capital? Google ‘sewing cafe’ or ‘sewing workshop’ and see what comes up. I’ve found them everywhere, including Harrogate (www.needlepointsewingcafe.co.uk); Hinckley, Leicestershire (www.thesewingcafe.co.uk); Bristol (www.cordial-and-grace.co.uk); Durham (www.sewcafe.co.uk); Bath (www.themakeryonline.co.uk) and Glasgow (Make It – 07597 122 809).

Sew why not give it a try?!

Sewing at the White Room 4

Wool you still love me tomorrrow?

18 Oct

Bronte star cushion grey

For my recent styling challenge (see Wednesday’s post) I got to borrow lots of lovely home products to use as finishing touches.

The pieces that got by far and away the most ‘Ooohs’ and ‘Aaaahs’? The absolutely beautiful cushions and throws kindly lent to me by British company Bronte  by Moon, a Yorkshire wool mill that’s been going since 1837 (www.brontebydesign.co.uk).

Made from Pure New Wool, Mohair and Merino Lambswool, everything they make is soooooo soft and snuggly, it’s perfect for cold winter nights. There’s a HUGE range of styles and patterns available – not just a plethora of checks and tartans, but also stars, spots and stripes. Many of the throws are reversible, too.

Bronte mohair throws

Bronte check purple cushion

While they’re definitely not cheap (between £69.95 and £150 for a throw; and around £49.95 for a cushion); from the little button and tassel detailing on the cushions to the fancy ribbon labels on the throws, they look and feel a million dollars. It was with great sadness that I had to package them up and send them back after the shoot!

Bronte spot throws

Still, at least I know what to ask Father Christmas to bring me. Who knows, he might even fancy one of the Nordic snowflake designs for his own pad…!

PS: Like the look but on a budget? Bronte by Moon also make supersoft merino lambswool scarves, £25 each, in a rainbow of colours and patterns, like the one below. You could even sew one into a long cushion yourself…!

Bronte scarves

Sofa so good!

16 Oct

FrenchConnection2-4842_RT finished room low resOne of my absolute favourite colour combinations at the moment is mustard or ochre yellow with grey – it’s fresh and fun, yet stylish and suitable for all seasons. So, when the nice people at DFS set me a styling challenge last week, I knew exactly what look to try.

I’d been invited to work with the classy new range of sofas designed by French Connection for DFS (http://www.dfs.co.uk/french-connection/results), to celebrate the fact they’re available at 62 stores across the UK from this month. There are four designs to choose from, and the one I picked, ‘Flint’, is a beautiful soft, chic grey – the colour of the moment – with clean, modern lines and lovely squashy cushions.

Starting with a blank room – apart from the grey sofa, plus a matching armchair and two tables – my challenge was to show that if you’ve got a good statement piece of furniture, it’s incredibly easy to turn a so-so space into a ‘Wow’ space with just a few accessories, and on a high street budget. The great thing about this colour scheme is that it’s very forgiving – any tone or shade of grey and yellow will work together, so you honestly can’t go wrong!

Here’s the room before…

FrenchConnection2-before low res

And here it is just two hours later, with me chilling out on the extremely comfy be-cushioned sofa…

FrenchConnection2-4845 Jenny chilling on sofa low res

I borrowed some amazing accessories for the shoot, including this lovely cast-iron Japanese teapot and cups from The Exotic Teapot (which come in a rainbow of other colours too and would make a great present for any tea fans)…

FrenchConnection2-4862 teapot low res

These fab ochre-yellow cushions from Next, and yellow/grey fabric from cool designers Scion (made into cushions and blinds for me by the lovely people at The White Room sewing cafe in London)…

FrenchConnection2-4858 cushion detail low res

And this supersoft star cushion from Bronte by Moon (more about this in Friday’s post) and unusual Orla Kiely Stem bowl from Unique & Unity…

FrenchConnection2-4849_RT armchair and bowl low res

You can read more about this scheme in the lifestyle section of http://www.BT.com later this week. For now though, I’d love to know what you think of the makeover, and what theme you reckon I should tackle next time – leave a comment below or email me at thetreasurehunteruk@gmail.com

Want to recreate the look yourself? No problem! Here’s all the prices and details you need:
French Connection ‘Flint’ 4-seater sofa £1098 and armchair, £749 (buy both and get a matching storage footstool worth £249!) both DFS (www.dfs.co.uk); Alang floor lamp, £45 Ikea (www.ikea.co.uk); Grey knitted pouffe, £30 Matalan (www.matalan.co.uk); Meribel shaggy rug, £34.99 Dunelm Mill (www.dunelm-mill.com). ON SOFA: old gold check throw, £79.95 Bronte by Moon (www.brontebydesign.co.uk); plain Harrison cushion, £12, grey and ochre boucle knit cushion, £16 and buttons cushion, £14, all Next (www.next.co.uk); patterned Woodland fabric, Scion (for stockists and prices, visit http://www.scion.uk.com) made into cushions and blinds by The White Room SE4 (www.thewhiteroomse4.co.uk); ON WALLS: Bee Kind print and Trees Around Britain print, both £43 each, Bold & Noble (www.boldandnoble.co.uk); Ribba picture frames, £16 each, Ikea; Extendable curtain pole kit, £7.99 Argos (www.argos.co.uk); Merete curtains £30 a pair, Ikea. ON COFFEE TABLE: Kew bamboo round tray, £16 The Orchard at Notonthehighstreet (www.notonthehighstreet.com); Tenshin teapot, £30, cups £7 and teapot stand, £8 all The Exotic Teapot (www.exoticteapot.co.uk); Orla Kiely Stem salad bowl, £25 Unique & Unity (www.uniqueandunity.co.uk). ON SIDE TABLE: Tony task lamp, £25 John Lewis (www.johnlewis.co.uk); vase £12 Marks & Spencer (www.marksandspencer.com). ON CHAIR: Scion lace cushion, £35, John Lewis; star cushion £49.95 and luxury mohair throw, £79.95 both Bronte by Moon.  Mongolian faux fur cushion (on the floor), £8 Matalan.

WIN spooktacular prizes!

14 Oct

Wilko Halloween paper chains bigCall me a wimp, but I’ve never been a fan of skulls, spiders and blood at Hallowe’en (erm, or the rest of the year, come to think of it) – I much prefer jolly fat pumpkins, friendly ghosts, stripy-stockinged witches, symmetrical bats and the like…

So, when it comes to choosing Hallowe’en decorations, I have to sift through a lot of gore to find stuff I fancy. This year, I’ve found just what I’m looking for at one of my favourite shops, Wilko (www.wilko.com for those of you without a store nearby).

My top pick for this year is their awesome terracotta pumpkin lantern, above, £5. He’s just the right side of evil, and means you don’t have to faff about with spoons and squelchy innards – just pop in a tealight and he’s ready to greet trick or treaters.

I also like the fun paper chains, above (£1 for a pack of small ones or £2 for jumbo ones); the cute wreath, £4 and treat bucket, 50p…

Wilko Halloween wreath £4

… also the stylish Raven tealight bags, £3; and string lights, £4 for ten…

Wilko Halloween tea light bags (flattened)

… and the black glitter Happy Hallowe’en sign, £2.50 for the door; and the sweet little cookie cutters, £2.50 for three.

Wilko Halloween Sign Happy Halloween Glitter Black - £2.50

What’s more, the very kind people at Wilko have given me a box of these goodies, pictured below, to give away to one lucky Treasure Hunter reader! All you have to do is answer the question below, and email me (with the address to send your prize if you win*) at thetreasurehunteruk@gmail.com by Wednesday 23rd October. The winner will be picked at random and receive their goodies in time for Hallowe’en**.

Question:
Fill in the blank in this name of a children’s cartoon character:
“xxxxxxxxx the friendly ghost”

a) Swayze
b) Caspar
c) Buster

Wilko Halloween competition prizes

TRICK OR TREAT! One reader will win all this

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of competitions, CONGRATULATIONS to Laura Brockway, the winner of my competition to win eight knobs from Trinca-Ferro (www.trinca-ferro.com); and Conny Tam, the runner-up, who receives two knobs of her choosing.

*UK readers only I’m afraid. **As long as Royal Mail deliver it on time!

To dry for

11 Oct

Marks and Spencer new 2013 Autumn Winter tea towels

If there’s one thing you can’t ever have enough of in your house (apart from cushions, of course…), it’s tea towels. They’re a such a quick, inexpensive way to update your kitchen, and what’s more, if your other half keeps using them to dry oily roasting pans like mine does (grr), you’ll find you need new ones on a regular basis.

M&S tea towel bohemian doll £4

You can spend a fortune on posh drying-up clothes (as my mum calls them), but I’ve found a cheap, fab new source for mine – good old M&S http://www.marksandspencer.com. Not only do they have some brilliantly bright and cheerful designs, above, but they’re just £4 each; or £9.50 for a co-ordinating set of three.

Don’t mind splashing out for something more quirky? Visit the puntastically-named webshop http://www.todryfor.com for a selection of fun, clever designer tea towels – like the selection below, £7.50 to £12 each – that make a thoughtful, envelope-friendly gift.

Cable cars tea towel £8.50 todryfor

Don’t judge a book by its charger

9 Oct

pride and prejudice booksi phone charger

Phone chargers – not the sexiest of items, are they? Mine hides away beside my dressing table, almost apologetically, looking functional rather than fabulous.

Which is why these ‘booksi’ chargers from Rich Neeley Designs on Etsy (http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/RichNeeleyDesigns) are such a clever idea. Fashioned from real new leather or cloth bound versions of classic novels (or one-off vintage books), a charging dock is built into the pages, so that when you plug in your smartphone, it looks like it’s sitting casually on top of your bedtime reading material.

peter pan booksi 2

There are loads of designs to choose from – I particularly like Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland  – and at around £20-£35ish each, they’re just about affordable. Available for iPhones and iPads, they’ll even custom-make you a booksi with the volume of your choosing. Genius!

bleak house booksi phone charger

the hobbit booksi

Get your colouring pencils out!

7 Oct

482144-Pop-Kitchen_0005_lowres

I love a good competition – and this one is particularly brilliant. Brabantia, makers of upmarket pedal bins and kitchen accessories, have launched a contest to create a new design for their tea/coffee/sugar canisters.
The prize is a VIP trip for two to the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan (a swanky design show); but even more excitingly, you get to see your design adorning everything from biscuit tins to bread bins all over the world.
To enter, simply follow the instructions at http://www.brabantia.com/design. For inspiration, Brabantia ran a competition to design a pedal bin a while ago – the winning patterns are above and below.
Art and design not your forte? You can still have fun browsing the entries and voting for your favourites at the same address.

482120-Kitchen-Collage-MOOD_lowres

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