Archive | September, 2014

A proper cuppa

30 Sep

photo 2 (7)If you love old-school Penguin book covers, then you’ll love these.

The Literary Gift Company (www.theliterarygiftcompany.com) has just launched new personalisable book cover mugs – you make up a title, and give them an ‘author’s’ name, and they’ll print you up a mug in one of three colours (green, blue or mustard) for £12.95. It’s such an ingenious idea, I can’t believe no-one has thought of it before.

The real beauty of it is that you don’t have to stick to existing book titles. You can choose anything you like. For mine, above, there wasn’t really any competition – I knew immediately what to order. But you could be as creative/funny/topical as you like, as in these examples:

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What’s more, each mug comes in a box with shredded book pages as protective packaging (below, left). Clever eh?

photo 1 (7)They’d make an amazing present for any book lover, particularly those people who are tricky to buy for, like dads and brothers.

Order yours here. Oh, and if you think of a really good title to use, drop me a line – I’ve got a feeling I’m going to be ordering a load more of ’em come Christmas time…

 

 

25% off at Habitat? Yes please!

24 Sep

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Visiting a stylish friend’s house the other week, I admired her brightly-coloured school-style dining chairs. “Habitat” she said proudly. And her oversized ceiling shades? “Habitat”. And her expensive-looking cushion? “Habitat!”

Habitat has been producing some lovely stuff recently, but if, like me, you have more of an Ikea-kind of budget, it can be just that little bit too expensive at times. So, I was very excited to get advance notice of a flash sale tomorrow, both online at www.Habitat.co.uk and instore (early birds can start shopping the sale prices from 7pm tonight online), where there will be 25% off EVERYTHING. There’s no need for a code – discounts will be deducted at the checkout.

Top of my shopping list is the Zig zebra cushion, which will be just £9 (normally £12); closely followed by the sunny Blossom side table, £37.50 (normally £50); and the stylish jade Mia jewellery box, £22.50 (normally £30):

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Other top tips include their fab geometric bedding (top), and their gorgeous vases and candlesticks in this season’s “it” shade, copper:

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So, what are you waiting for? Set your alarms, and I’ll race you to the checkout!

 

A sticky subject

19 Sep

Taxi Finished taxi on wall

Wall stickers or ‘decals’ are everywhere. I’ve seen them in magazines, in shops, on Pinterest, on friends’ walls… they can look brilliant, and transform a room very cheaply, but I’ve always suspected they might be fairly tricky to apply. So, when it came to putting one on my little boy’s room wall, I thought I’d share the experience with you…

My son is OBSESSED with taxis, so I bought a new London cab design from a seller called rs201111 on Ebay.co.uk. It’s worth checking out Ebay for wall stickers/decals as you may be able to save tens of pounds compared to places such as Notonthehighstreet.com and bouf.com (who both have lovely designs too). Mine cost just £6.99 for a huge 58cm x 38cm sticker personalised with my son’s name. Not bad eh?

Now for sticking it to the wall…

1) Start by unrolling your decal (I recommend only buying flat decals – more on this later). The actual vinyl sticker part is sandwiched between a layer of thick white backing paper, and a layer of thinner application paper (which looks a bit like greaseproof paper you’d use for cooking with). Your first job is to place the decal on a flat surface, face down, and rub over the backing paper with a credit card to ‘activate’ the decal and make it stick to the application paper.

Taxi unrolled

2) Place your decal where you want it on the wall, and stick it down with masking tape on the top edge only. I used a spirit level to make sure it was completely straight, as I’m a bit anal about these things. It’s a bit time-consuming, but worth it to get it just right:

Taxi placing on wall

 

3) Now’s the first tricky part. Lift the decal up, using the tape as a hinge to keep the design in place. Starting from a corner, slowly begin peeling away the thick backing paper. The actual decal should still be stuck to the greaseproof-like application paper. If at any point any of the design is still stuck to the backing paper, you need to stop, rub the application paper onto the decal again, and slowly continue. It’s little areas – in this case, the lettering and the grill – that are most likely to cause problems, but if you’re careful and patient, it does work:

Taxi taking off backing paper

 

4) And the second tricky part. Lower the now-sticky decal back down, using the credit card or your hand to press the application paper onto the wall, starting in the middle and working your way outwards towers the edge of the design. Pay attention to any air bubbles or creases, smoothing them outwards to get rid of them. Finally, gently peel off the application paper. Your decal should now be firmly stuck to the wall!

Taxi smoothing onto wall

 

My verdict? It was indeed fairly time-consuming, so not something to be attempted in a rush. Also, despite my very, very careful application, I was left with a few tiny creases – the result of the decal having been rolled in the post. So, if you’re buying a wall sticker, my top tip is to ask the seller to post it flat, even if that adds a little extra to the cost.

Having said that, the end result (see pic at the very top of this post) looks great, and my little boy LOVES it. He’s now asking for a red bus on the opposite wall (“…and a fire engine, and a digger, and a car!”) so I have a feeling I’m going to become a bit of an expert at applying stickers by the time all his walls are covered…

Have you got any good wall decal tips? If so, I’d love to hear them!

Down to the wire

17 Sep

Oliver Bonas wire furniture lifestyle shot

If you haven’t been into Oliver Bonas for a while (or checked out their website, http://www.oliverbonas.com), it’s definitely worth taking a peek. As well as reasonably-priced bright and funky jewellery, fun nick-nacky type gifts and a neat range of flirty dresses, they’ve been making huge strides with their homewares recently.

My favourite of their new offerings has to be these cool iron wirework shelving units, available in several sizes and an array of colours, including neon brights, go-with-anything white, and this season’s must-have shade, copper. They’d work as everything from bedside tables to home office storage, and are definitely more exciting than the usual wooden or MDF offerings found elsewhere.

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Costing £65 (for a two-hole version), £85 (three holes) or £165 (huge nine-hole version), they’ll be available from mid-September – ie: any day now. I’m coveting a small two-hole version in orange, below, for my new study – how about you?

Orange Iron Storage Shelf £60 Oliver Bonas NEW SEASON

 

Sounds amazing

15 Sep

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As regular readers will know, I’m a sucker for anything retro, so I’m more a little in love with the latest addition to my home office – this ViewQuest Retro DAB+ Radio.

In lovely mustard yellow leatherette, with chrome and cream details, it’s a radio, clock, alarm clock and iPod/iPhone dock all rolled into one…

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You can choose between a model with a traditional Apple dock, or one with a future-proof ‘lightning dock’ (for iPhone 5s). It runs off the mains or batteries, and is so simple to use even technophobes like me can have it up and running within minutes. What’s more, the sound quality is great – even if, ahem, you’re only listening to cheese, like yours truly. I was given it to review for a magazine feature, and I’m properly impressed – not surprisingly, it’s also been given five stars by What Hi-Fi in their Sound and Vision reviews.

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Don’t like yellow? It’s also available in a rainbow of other shades, including red, pink, cream, pale blue, teal, brown, black and gorgeous emerald green, as well as three limited edition Emma Bridgewater prints. Quite honestly, I’m having to fight my other half over which room it’s going to go in – it’d look just as lovely in a bedroom, living room or kitchen as it would in a study.

Tempted? Check out the full range at www.viewquest.co.uk and buy one here for £99. Considering a similar retrotastic Roberts design would cost you upwards of £160 or more (and that’s without an alarm or dock), it’s practically a bargain!

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Good as gold

11 Sep

original_18k-gold-animal-pendant-necklacesIt’s got to be at least, ooooh, a few weeks since I last featured something origami-like on this blog, so I figured you could handle another dose. This time, I’m in love with these cool 18k gold plated geometric animal necklaces from J&S Jewellery, £24 each, at Notonthehighstreet.com. Designed by sisters Jenny and Sophie, you can choose between an elephant, rabbit, fox, squirrel, owl or cat – and each comes boxed or bagged with your choice of gift card.

original_18k-gold-animal-pendant-necklaces (1) £24They’d make amazing presents, and what’s more, you can personalise your necklace with a chunky gold letter charm for just £2 extra:

original_18k-gold-animal-pendant-necklaces (3) add a letter for £2

Plus, if you like these, it’s worth checking out their other, equally lovely wares. My top picks are below, clockwise from top left: Geometric necklaces £25 each, Design your own necklace £19.50, Triple letter disc necklaces £16 each, and Colourful enamel shape necklaces £20 each. Which would you choose?

original_gold-geometric-necklace £25

 

 

Bathroom on a budget

9 Sep

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Showing my neighbours our new shower room the other day, one of them remarked, “Oooh, did you realise your handwash matched your bathroom cabinet?” as his girlfriend rolled her eyes heavenward. Erm, well, yes, that was kind of the point..!

Having just spent what seems like millions of pounds on a loft extension, we didn’t have a lot left to kit it out. So, when it came to doing the shower room, I was on a mission to save as much money as possible. The builders provided the basics (toilet, shower cubicle, sink and towel rail) but they were just that – basic. We managed to get much nicer designs – including a wall-hung sink which makes the space look bigger than one with a pedestal – for the same price as the cheap ones, from the very friendly staff at Bathroom Heaven (www.bathroomheaven.com), who, it turns out, are happy to match almost any other quote.

I knew I wanted grey metro tiles, but in such a small space, they couldn’t be too dark. Drawing a blank at all the usual places such as Topps Tiles, I eventually found the perfect mid grey ones at Tons of Tiles (www.tonsoftiles.co.uk). For an incredibly bargainous £14.50 per square metre, they come in all kinds of shades, and look amazing (in comparison, Topps’ ones start at £40.50 per sq m).

Colorcheck: Elin

As for accessories, I had a budget of £100 max. A good trick in a teensy room like this is to go for just one main pop of colour, to avoid overwhelming the space. My best buy was this metal Gunnern cabinet from Ikea, above. In a lovely teal blue, it has several adjustable shelves, and looks way more expensive than the staggeringly cheap £30 price tag. I found the perfect powder blue door hook to match for £3.50 from Theforestandco.com, below; a small white pedal bin for just £3 (!) at Wilko (www.wilko.com); and a little bamboo caddy for £6 in the sale at Sainsbury’s (John Lewis do something incredibly similar, here, for £20).

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Next, I took one of the cabinet shelves with me to John Lewis (johnlewis.com) to find the towel and bathmat (my husband thought I was a bit mad, but how else can you tell if you’ve got the right match?!). This lovely teal House Grid towel with steel grey trim was £8 and the ‘new steel’ grey bathmat was £10.

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Finally, as this is a guest bathrooom, I wanted to stock it with communal toiletries that not only did the job but looked nice too. Most aqua or teal-coloured bottles are for blokes, but the fab Method Waterfall handwash, £2.50 from Sainsbury’s is an exact match and does away with the need for a separate liquid soap pump; while these Aloe Vera ones from Marks & Spencer (marksandspencer.com), below, look suitably posh, yet cost just £3 each.

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My camera isn’t the greatest, but here’s the finished room, below. Not bad eh?!

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Like my neighbours, I can’t resist nosing around other people’s houses, so if you’ve redone your bathroom recently, send me some pix. I’d love to see ’em!

 

Bin somewhere nice?

3 Sep

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As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, there’s a distinct lack of good-looking wastepaper baskets on the market these days. For some reason, most of the bin designs out there are a bit, well, rubbish.

However, good old John Lewis (www.johnlewis.com) has addressed the problem. I’m after a bin for my office, and the new green wire one from their ‘House’ collection, £15 (above, left) is perfect. Okay, so the on-trend wire design may not be any good if you regularly throw away small things like paperclips, or anything that might spill, but it will look arty with crumpled up paper inside.

There’s a yellow version too, for £20 (it seems you have to pay £5 for the luxury of handles!).

Want one? You can get the green one here and the yellow one here.

 

 

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