Archive | August, 2014

Life’s a beach

29 Aug

quut_alto_gallery2If you’ve been on holiday with kids recently, you’ll know the range of beach toys available – from cheap’n’cheerful Brit seaside shops to beachside boutiques abroard –  is, well, pretty limited. You get buckets, spades, blow-up dolphins… and that’s about it. I don’t know why, but it’s an area there doesn’t seem to have been much innovation in for years. Until now.

A cool Belgian design company, Quut (pronounced ‘cute’, www.quutbeachtoys.com) has created a new range of six clever gizmos that also work well in sandpits, the bath and even in the snow. In sturdy plastic, bright colours, and with very reasonable price tags (from £6.99 to £14.99), they’re well thought-out and a lot of fun.

While writing a piece for a magazine recently, I got the chance – along with my very helpful assistant, Sam, two-and-a-half – to try out the Alto, a sandcastle-making toy inspired by professional sand builders, in the glamorous location of our local sandpit. In three sections, you fill each one with sand, before placing the next section on top…

photo 2

…and then carefully lifting the whole lot upwards, starting at the bottom, to leave a three-tier architectural masterpiece!

photo 5

You can use the sections on their own, or in pairs, to create different-sized sandcastles; or group them together into a huge sand city  (as we did, before a passing toddler crashed into the lot). Not only did we enjoy ourselves immensely, but we attracted lots of envious glances from the other parents in the sandpit, which made Sam very proud indeed.

Other toys in the range include (below, clockwise from top left) the Ballo, a new take on a bucket; the Cuppi, a scoop, sieve and catching game all-in-one, which also works well in the bath; the Scoppi, a cool spade with sieve attachment for serious digging; and the Ringo, a ring-toss game you can also use in the park or playground:

quut_ballo_pooringThe full range is available from Toyella (www.toyella.com/quut), which is offering free postage at the moment; or you can also buy a selection of the toys from Notonthehighstreet.com

 

 

 

On reflection

27 Aug

hanging-circular-mirror--30cm-£15 Matalan

Every season the high street gets better and better at bringing out reasonably-priced versions of designer homewares. I’ve been lusting after a mirror-on-a-rope for a while now, but they usually cost silly amounts of money. So, well done Matalan for creating this new little beauty (available here), above, which is a decent 30cm wide and costs just £15. Bargain eh?

I’m also loving this PS Table Mirror from Ikea, below (details here), which is perfect for a dressing table. As well as being a handy makeup mirror, it’s a jewellery stand too. Part of the store’s more exclusive PS designer range, it looks way more expensive than it’s £15 price tag.

ikea-ps--table-mirror £15

 

Come in! Your number’s up (plus get 20% off)

19 Aug

old door number

Anyone who’s ever watched TV programme The House Doctor (or anything presented by Phil and Kirstie, for that matter) will be familiar with the phrase ‘kerb appeal’.

I’m ashamed to say that until very recently, the front of my house had pretty much zero kerb appeal, as it was covered in ugly scaffolding, and the front garden was full of builder’s rubbish. Once that had gone, I realised  it needed some serious TLC.

And one of the easiest and quickest ways to give an entrance a facelift is by changing the house or door number. My house came with an old-fashioned (not to mention faded) oval plaque, above left. But, what should replace it?

The first thing I discovered is that stylish house numbers can cost an arm and a leg. But then I stumbled upon www.housenameplate.co.uk. It sells all kinds of house numbers and nameplates, in everything from natural-looking materials like slate and wood, to really modern acrylic and stainless steel:

acrylic cut out number

The great thing about the site is that you can ‘try before you buy’ thanks to their online tool that lets you see how your house number will look before you add it to your basket. And with a two-digit house number sign costing around £20-28 depending on the material you choose, it’s not bad value either, for something that’s going to stick around for years to come.

What’s more, the site also sells house name plaques, letterboxes and outside door furniture, so that you can smarten up the rest of your entranceway too.

What should you go for? A really good-looking house number should mirror the style of your house – from the type of windows to the colour of the front door. My house is a Victorian terrace, so while I wanted something modern, I didn’t want to go overboard. So, when the nice people at the Housenameplate company offered to make the number of my choice for this blog, I went for their acrylic design. You can choose from a variety of coloured backgrounds, but I went for dark grey – top, right – to mirror the slate chippings in my front garden, and the fact my door is soon to be painted purple. A number like this would cost £20, and if you want sliver-coloured fixings (to hide the screws), they’re an extra fiver on top.

The whole thing was very easy to fit – you just need to drill two holes in your outside wall with a drill, using the holes in the plaque as a guide – and that’s it. Looks so much better, doesn’t it?!

GET 20% OFF AT HOUSENAMEPLATE.CO.UK

To help you improve your kerb appeal, http://www.housenameplate.co.uk is offering Treasure Hunter readers 20% off any acrylic house number plate (available in a square, round or rectangular shape, and with a variety of coloured backgrounds and numerals) until 30th September 2014. Simply enter code TTH201401 at the online checkout. Happy shopping!

round acrylic number

 

Make a date

7 Aug

 

kikkerland calendar box on its own

Ever feel you’re so busy you don’t know what day it is? Well, with this super cool gizmo you’ll have no excuse.

Designed by trendsters Kikkerland, it looks like some kind of mid-century board game, but is in fact a handy calendar. Just place it on your shelf/desk/mantlepiece or hang it on a wall; then turn the coloured knobs to set the day, date and month.

What’s more, the front slides off to reveal a secret little box for things you want to keep safe, such as your keys, tickets or even your phone. I fell in love with it the minute I saw it, and have just invested in one for my new desk.

The Kikkerland Calendar Box costs £16.80 from Fred Aldous – they’ve just sold out (I must have bought the last one!) but they’re coming back in stock any day and there’s a form on their site that you can fill in to reserve yours. Alternatively, several Ebay sellers have new ones for sale too.

Kikkerland calendar box with hand

Sofabed so good

5 Aug

sofa-bed-twingle-redas-sofa-red

Who knew sofa beds could be so expensive, unattractive and uncomfortable? I need one for my new study, but I’m short on space and everything in the shops is either way over £400, or pretty darn ugly.

Yes, Ikea do some decent ones, but most are either really long, or pretty pedestrian looks-wise. What I wanted was one that didn’t take up much space, looked nice when in ‘sofa mode’ and didn’t cost the earth.

The answer? I went to The Futon Company (www.thefutoncompany.co.uk). I admit, I’ve always been a bit biased towards futons, assuming they were a bit hippy-ish, so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw their range. As well as double sofa beds and single sofa chairs, they do a really sweet single sofa bed called a Twingle, top.

Looking like a cute, almost Japanese mini sofa during the day, it’s just 150cm wide. You simply flip down one side to turn it into a daybed; or both sides to turn it into a single bed within seconds:

sofa-bed-twingle-fieldmouse-as-longchaise-lge

It comes in red, blue or ‘fieldmouse’ (beige to you and me). There’s an optional storage drawer that slots underneath, and you can even paint the wooden frame if you like:

colour-twingle-side-shot-green

At £279, it’s not mega cheap, but it is way less expensive than most other single sofabeds on the market; looks really unusual; and is a darn sight comfier as both a sofa and a bed than either the usual fold-out-foam models or metal-framed springy versions. I’ve bought one in cheery red, as it’ll look good against the white walls of my home office, piled with bright cushions.

The Futon Company don’t just sell chairs and sofas though. I was also really impressed by their range of good-looking but incredibly reasonable furniture and accessories. My faves? Below, clockwise from top left: the clever folding wardrobe, £49.95, which is great for a spare room; the designer-look coat hook, £14.95; and the stackable bamboo cube, £29.95:

bamboo-wardrobe-new-open-lge

 

 

 

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