Archive | July, 2014

Nice and pen tidy

31 Jul

desk tidy

We’re nearing the end of our loft conversion project (hallelujah!), which means I can stop thinking about things like plastering and electrics, and start the fun part – kitting out my new home office.

First on the list is storage – for everything from my stacks of magazines to the little things like pens and pencils. In a dream world, I’d get a Uten Silo wall organiser, designed by Vitra (above, pic courtesy of MarthaStewart.com), which is AMAZING, but as it costs £217 to £269 in red, black or white at Heals; or £227 at Nest (gulp!), sadly that’s just a pipe dream at the moment.

So, I’ve been looking for other options. Which brings me to pen pots. When I went to a the launch of a fab new homes website Joss & Main recently, they were encouraging journalists to decorate their own pen tidy using Sharpie pens on unglazed tealight holders. I think the idea was that we’d all create something very stylish, but as I had my two-year-old with me, I decided to let him lose on my one instead. The results are below. It’s not going to win any design prizes, but I love it, and it’s going to have pride of place on my new desk. It’s a great idea for anyone with kids – they could even make them as gifts for friends and grandparents:

Sam's DIY pen pot

Of course, you can store pens in anything, from tin cans to mugs, but if you don’t like the idea of making your own (and you either don’t have or hate kids, so the above idea doesn’t appeal!), there are surprisingly few stylish pen pots out there. Most are either really boring and functional, or naff.

However, you do have options. I’ve fallen in love with these fun – and incredibly bargainous – Hop 2 pen pots, just £2 each from Tesco Direct. I’m definitely going to get a couple for my new desk:

Hop 2 School Pencil Pot £2 each Tesco

This pencil sharpener-shaped pot by Suck UK (£15, below) is brilliant, too. And if you want your pen pot to be useful but unobtrusive, I like the simplicity of this Osco 5 Tube Acrylic Pen Pot, £6 by John Lewis:

Pencil Sharpener Desk Tidy £15 suck.uk.com

If you have any other ideas for pen-management, I’d love to hear about them!

 

Get the look: Sweet Shop Shades

28 Jul Pastels shoot - accent chair close up

Pastels shoot - main room shot with accent chair

One of this summer’s biggest trends, pastels are the perfect way to inject some light, life and colour into your home. But forget pale, wishy washy shades, this season’s pastels are brighter and punchier – think candy pinks, mint greens, sky blues and calming lilacs.

I was thrilled to style up a room for a feature in The Sunday Mirror’s Notebook magazine recently, showing readers how to get the pastel look. The brief? The sofa/armchair were to be from DFS, and everything else had to be affordable and from the high street.

The end results are above and below. To help you recreate the look, here’s my tips on being pale yet interesting…

  • Take a wow factor wall canvas or cushion as a starting point; then pick out colours from the print to use elsewhere in the scheme. The wall art I used is from Australian website Urban Road, who’ve recently started selling in the UK. Check them out for huge contemporary canvases at really decent prices:Pastels shoot - wall art close up
  • Contrast paler, chalky hues with splashes of bolder shades for a more contemporary feel:Pastels shoot - macaroonsPastels shoot - candlesticks close up
  • Pale pastel paint is a fresh alternative to white. Mix things up by pairing green and blue or pink and yellow on different walls.
  • Light natural wooden furniture in oak or ash will warm things up; then add a colour-popping metal side table or two:Pastels shoot - bowls close up
  • A grey sofa is a good investment. It will ground the room – stopping it from feeling too girly – and should work with almost any other scheme should you wish to redecorate in a couple of years’ time! I loved the retro-feel of the DFS Mira sofa and accent chair I used in the shoot.
  • Add retro accessories – an old skool radio (the one I used is a steal from Argos) or phone, or a vintage-style armchair will give your room personality:Pastels shoot - accent chair close up
  • Avoid colour overload by keeping curtains sheer; then add a white or neutral blind if you need more privacy.
  • Use flowers to accessorize all areas Go big and bold with pink or white blossom and catkin branches; or dainty and delicate with pastel freesias, peonies or tulips. The flowers you want not in season? Cheat with fakes from Bloom or John Lewis – these days they’re so well made you can hardly tell the difference unless you get up close.
  • Pale wood flooring will keep the scheme looking modern, while a pale candy-striped rug will help subtly define your seating area. The one I used is from an amazing website called CarpetVista – if you’re after a large rug on a small budget, they’re well worth checking out.

AND HERE’S WHERE TO BUY EVERYTHING…

Mira 3-seater sofa £999 DFSMira accent chair £669 DFSBen de Lisi set of two metal tables £95 DebenhamsWire table £75 Oliver BonasCotton stripe rug from £70.84 Carpetvista.comTuscany sideboard £159 Very.co.uk; Tuscany ready assembled large bookcase £199 Very.co.ukSpring Rain canvas from £64.34 UrbanRoad.com.auGeorge Nelson blue block clock £65 BluesuntreeWall print £19.50 for pack of four Marks & SpencerGreen scandiphone £41.95 bloomsburystore.comLavender patent pocket Filofax £28 Filofax.co.ukBamboo gloss lacquer bowls £5 (small) £12 (large) Oliver BonasBush Retro DAB Radio £69.99 ArgosAqua wire fruit bowl £15 DebenhamsSuperliving candlesticks from £17 each Northlighthomestore.comMaxi tealight holder £2 TescoBeehive throw in rose £49 Welshblankets.co.ukHerringbone throw in apple green £49 Welshblankets.co.ukBlue Brakig cushion £10 IkeaHeron cushion £20 Magpieline.comDiamond cushion £8 TescoBalloon cushion £8 TescoQuilted Diamond  Persimmon cushion £35 Nitin GoyalGraduate Collection Geo Pastels cushion £40 letitreign.co.ukDulcie frame £14 Oliver BonasSoy Wax scented candle no.3 £9.95 Dotcomgiftshop.comCockatoo on perch £16.95 Rigby & MacMeow storage tins £12 for three Magpieline.comLavender Knitted Pod £70 NextArtificial blossom and catkins £15 each Bloom.uk.com

Main_Set_Styling_RT

Above: Me, working my (ahem) magic!

Everything must go!

24 Jul

Sandcastle bowls on sale at Hunkydoryhome

It’s no secret that I can’t resist a bargain, so this time of year, when the summer sales kick in, is prime shopping time. Only thing is, many so-called sales aren’t actually that great. Shops knock a few quid off here and there, and that’s it.

So, I was very excited to see one of my favourite websites, Hunkydoryhome.co.uk, have gone a little bit crazy with their sale. It’s not a huge sale, granted, but there are some lovely things at rock bottom prices, and it’s well worth a look, particularly if you’re one of those people who likes to stock up on Christmas pressies early.

My top picks? The beautiful ceramic sandcastle-shaped bowls, above, ideal for anything from food to pens, now £7.50 each (was £19.95); the on-trend green parquet cushion, now £11.25 (was £28); the cute Night Owl tea towel, now £3.74 (was £10) and the stylish retro Skandi Amanda sugar bowl – perfect for storing earrings or nicknacks if you’re not a sugar fan – now £5.25 (was £14.50).

night owl tea towel from hunkydoryhome

If you’re quick, you could even grab some goodies designed by Gillian Kyle (see previous post) – for example, a set of  four Tunnock’s Teacakes coasters is now just £4.13 (was £12.75).

Race you to the checkout!

Great Scot!

22 Jul

photo 2 (3)

If there’s one thing I love almost as much as cakes and biscuits, it’s homewares with cakes and biscuits on.

So, I’ve been seriously lusting after pretty much everything by Scottish designer Gillian Kyle (www.gilliankyle.co.uk). Taking her inspiration from the brilliant packaging of sweet treats such as Tunnock’s Teacakes, Caramel Wafers, Caramel Logs, Wham bars and Scottish fudge; as well as favourites such as fish’n’chips, oatcakes and retro Creamola foam crystals, her quirky, fun and colourful range includes everything from mugs and tote bags to coasters, aprons and ovenmitts (check them out at the bottom of this post). And, while it’s all reasonably priced, it’s also great quality – handprinted and made in the UK.

photo 1 (3)

However, it’s her red and white rectangular Caramel Wafer and round teacakes cushions, £36.50 each, that are my absolute faves. Gillian has very kindly given me one of her wafer designs for my new home office, above, and it really is a thing of beauty. In tactile, unbleached organic cotton, it’s filled with duck feathers (none of your synthetic nonsense here) and squishes just the right amount when you sit against it. At 32cm x 54cm, it’s a perfect size for an armchair or sofa, or would look cool teamed with a red throw on a plain white bedspread. I LOVE it.

The only problem is, I’m now tempted to get the matching coasters (£12.75 for four) to go with it!

Gillian Kyle coasters

Gillian’s stuff makes great gifts that you won’t find all over the high street. What’s more, if you know any Scots or Brits abroad, the teatowels and coasters are light, flat and easy-to-post without costing an arm and leg in shipping costs. To buy her designs, visit http://www.gilliankyle.com

Creamola mug gillian kyle

Above: Creamola mug £11.50, Delicious ices tea towel £5.70, Tunnock’s Teacakes round cushion £36.50

Fish and chips apron from Gillian Kyle

Above: Fish and Chips apron £19.95, Oatcakes tea towel £9.50, Victorian Lemonade tote bag £16

PS: Gillian is one of six finalists in the Glasgow’s Favourite Business awards, hosted by the city’s Evening Times (more info here). To vote for her, email businessawards@eveningtimes.co.uk stating ‘Gillian Kyle to win!’

 

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