Archive | January, 2014

Cabin fever

29 Jan

LIFESTYLE SHOT Cosy Contemporary NB PIX - ALSO AVAILABLE AS A 43MB TIFF

It’s cold, wet and frankly disgusting weather outside at the moment, so when it comes to decorating your living room, you need a cosy, comfy warm-feeling space you can curl up in and hibernate (but that will still look fresh and stylish in the summertime too).

This was the brief I stuck to when I created the above living room scheme which appeared in Notebook magazine (the very excellent supplement that comes with the Sunday Mirror) last  weekend.

It’s themed around the stunning Nasturtium fabric from designer Julia at Winter’s Moon (visit her website here)…

Made in Britain-Cameo-05_RT cushion close up

Purple, blue and bright orange might seem odd colours to throw together, but they work brilliantly well, adding zing and life to neutral walls and furniture. Using the lovely cushions and lampshade from Julia’s range as a starting point, I used other accessories to pick up the colour theme, including purple curtains, accent cushions and a radio; and orange flowers, accent cushions and a throw to transform the armchair:

Cosy Contemporary Made in Britain ARMCHAIRI also can’t resist a feature wall, so I faked a log cabin look with wood panel effect wallpaper. And as this look is all about bringing the outside in, I added some nods to nature with a fun foxy cushion, a basket of real logs, a stag’s head wall hanging, and a ‘nest’ print from one of my favourite design teams, Bold & Noble:

Cosy Contemporary Made in Britain CUSHIONS

Cosy Contemporary Made in Britain SIDEBOARD SCENE

I’m really pleased with the way it all turned out, and what’s more, everything used in the shoot, from the furniture, wallpaper and curtains to the log basket, rug and teapot on the table was made in the UK.

GET THE LOOK!

Want to recreate this look? Here’s where to buy everything you see in the room (plus, if you scroll down, I’ve got some suggestions for cheaper versions of some products for those of you on a tight budget!):

Cocktail 4-seater sofa, £1598, Cocktail accent chair, £898, and Cavendish furniture, from £149, all DFS (dfs.co.uk). Polycotton rib pencil pleat Curtains in cassis, from £50, Roberts Revival radio in ‘cassis’, £159.95 and Scion Mr Fox cushion £40, all John Lewis (johnlewis.co.uk). Windowpane check pure new wool throw in tangy orange, £40, woolblanketonline.comLarge square Nasturtium floral cushion, £56, Rectangular Nasturtium cushion, £48 and Bell bottom table lamp in orange with Nasturtium shade, £134, all Winter’s Moon (wintersmoon.co.uk). Large vase, Sophie Conran for Portmeirion, £41.60, Portmeirion (portmeirion.co.uk). Purple and orange ‘Soho’ cushions, £26 each, Heal’s (heals.co.uk). Handknitted teal throw, £160 and Oval basket shopper, £52 both Make The Most Of (makethemostof.co.uk). Sisal rug, £385.70 Crucial Trading (crucialtrading.co.uk). Heather teapot, £58 and mugs, £10.50 each, Denby (denby.co.uk). Circular slate cheeseboard (used as tray), £16, Grey and Echo (folksy.com/shops/greyandecho). Round slate coasters, £22 for four, Just Slate (justslate.co.uk). ‘Nest’ print, £43, Bold & Noble (boldandnoble.co.uk). Cardboard stag’s head, £15, Oh Bother Design (etsy.com/uk/shop/OhBotherDesign). Artichoke candle holders (used as bookends), £24 each and Cream serving dish with yellow rim, £18, all Velvet Dash (velvet-dash.com). Timber wallpaper in ‘limed’, £69.90 per wide roll, Andrew Martin (andrewmartin.co.uk)

BUDGET ALTERNATIVES:

cosy cabin get the look for cheaper

[Above, left to right, top to bottom] Tuscany sideboard £149 Very.co.uk. Spectrum DABFM Digital Radio £29.95 John Lewis (johnlewis.co.uk). Fox cushion £28, Howkapow.comThe Hamptons chunky knit throw  £18.39 Dunelm Mill (dunelm-mill.com). Chenille cushion £8 BHS (bhs.co.uk). Jute natural rug from £35 Next (next.co.uk). Retro ceramic lamp £14 Wilko (wilko.com). Oslo nest of two tables £49 Isme.comPurple teapot £6.48 kitchenhomeware.co.uk. You’ll also find great wood panel wallpaper for around £20 a roll at B&Q (diy.com) and Wallpaperdirect.co.uk.

Guess Who’s doing the drying up?

27 Jan

Guess Who tea towel £7.95 prezzybox.com

If there’s something I love as much as cushions, it’s teatowels (I know, I don’t get out much!). So, when I saw this little beauty, printed with all the faces from fab retro board game Guess Who? for £7.95 at Prezzybox.com, I just couldn’t resist adding it to my collection.

Why? Maybe it’s because it was the only game I ever beat my little brother at (okay, so I admit I had to cheat…); or maybe it’s because the eight-year-old me used to want a natty green beret like ‘Maria’. Either way, it’s going to look fab in my kitchen.

Perhaps I should buy my brother one too, to rub his face in it – sorry – dishes with it?

Vote for me (before midnight…!)

26 Jan

vote now uk blog awards

Enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoy writing it? Then I’d be truly honoured if you’d vote for me in the UK Blog Awards 2014.

Voting closes at midnight tonight (Sunday 26th Jan) and takes about twenty seconds.

To cast your vote for The Treasure Hunter, simply click HERE

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

 

Who you gonna call? Dustbusters!

16 Jan

Dyson DC59 with pole upright

The problem with most vacuum cleaners is that they’re bulky, heavy… and if like me you store them under the stairs, they involve a lot of faffing about before you get anywhere near the dust you’re trying to bust.

And handheld ones aren’t much better. While they’re lighter, smaller and more portable than ones with cords; they have such a feeble amount of suction you often end up getting the bigger model out of the cupboard anyhow.

At least, that’s what I thought, until I was asked to test out ten of the newest vacuum cleaners for a newspaper recently (read about it here). One of the models I borrowed to test was the Dyson DC59 Animal – a handheld vac that claims to be as powerful as a Formula One racing car, with as much suction as a ‘normal’ other-brand vacuum cleaner:

Dyson DC59 walking with it

So, did it live up to expectations? Surprisingly, yes. In fashionable purple and silver, it looks like something from Star Trek, and lives in a charging/docking station you can fix to a wall in your kitchen, hall or understairs cupboard. When you want to start cleaning, you simply pick it up and go. It has several attachments, including a handy pole-like extension (pictured above, for cleaning while you walk and reaching cobwebs); a crevice tool for getting into nooks and crannies; and a brilliant brush that cleaned two flights of stairs in a matter of minutes (it honestly revolutionised my life!). It picked up an amazing amount of debris and emptied at the flick of a switch afterwards. I loved it so much I even found myself cleaning places like the car and behind the sofa, just because it was so satisfying!

Dyson DC59 on a sofa

In fact, I only have two complaints. Firstly, I needed to poke a pencil or chopstick into the bin section to get the last bits of dust and fluff out (not a big deal, but still…) and secondly, the price. It costs around £349 at places such as Curry’s and John Lewis. Ouch. Mind you, with good ordinary corded vacuum cleaners coming in at around £200 or upwards, maybe that’s not so bad after all. One for this year’s Christmas and birthday lists combined, perhaps?!

PS: I also tried out the Gtech Multi handheld vacuum cleaner, below:

Gtech multi with pole

It does a very similar job to the Dyson handheld and even has an exciting light on the front to help you see under the sofa/behind the TV etc. It hasn’t got a docking station (you just plug it into the mains to charge) and doesn’t have as much suction as the dirt-gobbling Dyson; however at £149, it’s a good, cheaper alternative for spot cleans and quick spruce-ups. You’d probably still need to use an ordinary vacuum for bigger areas or more thorough dust-busting session though (in fact, Gtech recommend you buy a Multi and one of their handy cordless AirRam ‘normal’ vacuum machines together – I know, they would, wouldn’t they?! – for £299. saving £79 on buying them separately). You can read more and/or buy one from Gtech direct here or from John Lewis here.

Gtech multi with AirRam

Steal Sherlock’s style

14 Jan

Sherlock Benedict Cumberbatch Martin Freeman

I’m so gutted BBC’s Sherlock (starring the utterly brilliant Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, above) has finished, I’ve decided to deck out my living room in tweed, wear my coat collar permanently turned up; and start drinking tea from dainty china cups in homage.

Not really. But I have compiled a selection of goodies you could buy to get a little of Sherlock’s style. Besides, tweed is very ‘now’, you know…

Below: Tea is Wisdom tea towel, £9 Hunkydoryhome.co.uk

Tea Is Liquid Wisdom Tea Towel £9 Hunkydoryhome.co.uk

Below (clockwise from top right): Hound of the Baskervilles mug, £8.95 Bloomsburystore.com; Earrings £19.50 The Literary Gift Company (get 10% off at www.theliterarygiftcompany.com until midnight on 31 Jan by using code JANUARY10 at the checkout); Hedgerow check throw £15 Sainsbury’s; Union Jack cushion, £13 Dunelm Mill; Cashmink navy blue scarf £20 John Lewis; Sherlock deerstalker hat, £39 www.christys-hats.com.

Copy Sherlock style

Initial thoughts

10 Jan

Marks and Spencer F cushion It’s been a while since I saw something and bought it immediately, but the moment I spotted these alphabet letter cushions from Marks & Spencer (www.marksandspencer.com), I loaded up my online shopping basket quicker than you could say (or should that be ‘spell’) OMG. They are, quite simply, AMAZING. Not only do they look stylish and fun, but they’re just £10 each. Yep, you read that right, just a tenner each. Which means you can treat yourself to one with your initial on without feeling guilty at all…

Marks and Spencer J cushion…or go crazy and spell out a whole world on your sofa without breaking the bank (well, not spending an absolute fortune, anyhow).

Their simple design means they’d suit almost any kind of decor, and they’d make an absolutely perfect present, particularly for a wedding (you could buy two, one with the bride’s initial and one with the groom’s).

Race you to the checkout!

Marks and Spencer initial letter cushions

Sounds fun

8 Jan

John Lewis spectrum radio purple

Just over a year ago, I featured the Spectrum DAB digital radio from John Lewis on this blog – it was dinky-sized, had a lovely rubbery exterior, and came in several eye-popping colours. But after it sold out that Christmas, they stopped selling it.

Well, now I’m pleased to report it’s back – and in a fabulous array of on-trend shades including orange (trust me, it’s going to be HUGE this year); a beautiful cobalt blue; and one of my favourite hues, bright purple. Chic yet fun and modern, it looks great out on display, and at just £29.95 it’s about £120 cheaper than a Roberts radio, the only other really stylish option available.

What’s more, it’s the same cute size as before (11cm x 15.5cm x 4.7cm); and runs on both mains and batteries, making it perfect for almost any room in the house. It’d make a great present for anyone who’s tricky to buy for; or just a cheeky little treat to cheer yourself up this gloomy January.

John lewis spectrum radio pink

Cut price chic

2 Jan

Bird shower curtain hooks £9.50 Oliver Bonas SALEHappy New Year!

If your pockets aren’t completely empty, now is a great time to pick up a final few sales bargains before all the new season stock hits the high street. While much of what’s left is, quite frankly, a load of tat, there are still some lovely things available at very reasonable prices. Here are my top three (well five) picks – better be quick!

TOP: I’m aware these are ridiculously frivolous, but how cute are these little perching bird shower curtain hooks? They’d add a certain je ne sais quoi to any bathroom. Now £9.50 (was £14) for a set of 12 from Oliver Bonas (www.oliverbonas.com)

Auckland Li chrome lamp £24.50 Habitat SALE

ABOVE: Habitat (www.habitat.co.uk) are one of the few stores to still have LOADS of great bargains still available, so I was stuck for what to choose. My must-buys are this yellow Oken table £28 (was £35); this uber stylish Aukland Li lamp £24.50 (was £35); and this brilliant Kilo side table £12.50 (was £25), available in jade, pink, meadow green, teal or light blue. Use it beside your bed, next to your sofa, as a telephone table or even outdoors. At this price, it’d be rude not to buy one!

flower garden embroidered cushion £9.95 Dotcomgiftshop SALEABOVE: Embroidered cushion £9.95 (was £39.95) www.Dotcomgiftshop.com. Beautifully-finished, it looks like it’s worth a fortune. Buy two and pop them side-by-side on a sofa or bed for instant folk chic. There’s a square one available for the same price, too. Lovely!

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