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The Friday Find: Look sharp!

27 May

IMG_0607

Why have a small, boring pencil sharpener when you can have one shaped like a robot?!

Pop your pencil into this friendly fella’s mouth, turn the handle on his back, and he’ll happily chomp away, storing the shavings in his tummy to be emptied later.

Not only does he do a great job, but he looks amazing too. And the best bit? He’s just £3 (yep, three quid!) from Tiger Stores (www.tiger-stores.co.uk), so I recommend you pop one in your basket… sharpish!

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Parrot fashion

23 Mar

ARC050_1

Sometimes it’s possible to take life – and work – too seriously. The tropical trend is going to be huge news this summer, so why use a boring biro when you can use a pen with a cheery carved parrot or cockatoo instead?

These bright little birdies are £3.50 each at Sass & Belle (Sassandbelle.co.uk), and there are four designs to choose from.

I’m going to tweet – sorry, treat – myself to the red parrot. How about you?

 

Hang it all!

25 Feb

Desk pegboard (pic courtesy TheTreasureHunterUK.com)

Back in May last year, I posted about lusting after a pegboard for my home office. A cross between a pinboard and a shop display board, pegboards are essentially flat bits of wood with holes in them, into which you push small pegs or clips to hold or hang stuff from.

Traditionally used to organise tools or products in shops, they’re now making their way into our homes and being used to tidy up stationery, craft supplies, jewellery and even kitchen bits…

You can make your own (and the talented Christine over at Sewyeah blog has an easy tutorial) but if you’re lazy/busy like me, you can buy one ready-made. Block Design (Block Design) have a good selection, in white, yellow, blue or printed with a world or UK map design, priced from £25 for a mini board to £60 for a large one.

I went the lazy route and bought a large white one, above, and I LOVE it! It makes me feel super-organised just by looking at it.

My top tip if you have a lot of stuff to hang is to make your own pegs. The boards come with a few, and you can buy extras, but they’re not cheap. I just got a long piece of dowel rod from B&Q for a couple of quid and chopped it into inch-long pieces with a hacksaw. You could paint the pegs if you liked, but I’ve left mine bare (as I say, I’m lazy!).

Feeling inspired? Here are some other ideas for using your pegboard:

Monochrome pegboard (pic by fabricpaperglue.com)

Above: Monochrome peg board by Fabricpaperglue.com

Workspace pegboard (pic by thedesignfiles.net)

Above: Workspace pegboard by Thedesignfiles.net

Craft room pegboard (pic by craft-o-maniac.com)

Above: Craft room pegboard by Craft-o-maniac.com

Below: Yellow peg board by Block Design

Yellow pegboard £25 (mini) to £65 (large) Blockdesign.co.uk

 

 

Create a cosy reading nook… on a budget

20 Oct

Dunelm happy cushion

In the corner of my office is a lonely sofabed. I’ve been meaning to do something with it for a while (other than pile papers and magazines on it):

Dunelm red before

Then Dunelm, as part of their #MyDunelmBag campaign, challenged me to show how you can makeover an area of your home for just £50, using only homewares available instore or online at Dunelm‘s webite.

Everything they sell is such a bargain, it wasn’t difficult. With £50 to spend, you can easily transform an unloved area like the above into a cosy reading nook. The ingredients? A ‘Happy’ cushion £9.99 (made of good quality fabric, with a hidden zip and sky-blue underside – a total steal!), supersoft Basketweave throw £17.49 (also available in red), cute owl table lamp £12.99, Folk floral barrel mug £2.49, Cosy Skandi side plate £1.99 and a 1L Kilner preserving jar (which I’ve used to store pens) £2.99. The only thing I added other than these was an old crate, which I used as a side/table/mini bookcase (although Dunelm also sell lovely white painted new crates like these from just £5.99 here).

And here’s the end result:

Dunelm red after2

It’s a friendly, welcoming space I actually want to spend time in. What’s more, the grand total came to just £47.94. Not bad, eh!

Feeling inspired? You can win a whopping £250 in Dunelm vouchers by taking photos of your recent Dunelm purchases and sharing them online with the #mydunelmbag hashtag on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram before the 28th October 2014.

Happy shopping/snapping!

 

 

 

 

Bin somewhere nice?

3 Sep

233137013

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.

 

 

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

Hang on a minute…

15 May

l.blue-pegboard-large

I’m about to start on a loft conversion (a topic I’m sure I’ll bore you all silly with over the coming few months!) and the most exciting thing about it? It means I’ll be finally moving out of the desk in my spare room into my VERY OWN OFFICE!

And a pegboard is the very first thing I plan to put up in there. For those not in the know, a peg board is a handy way of storing things – it consists of a sheet of board with lots of holes in it, that you hang on the wall, then pop hooks into the holes to hang things off. Traditionally used in places such as garages or hardware shops, pegboards have been slowly but surely popping up in the homes of trendy folk for a while now, to hold everything from stationery, craft supplies and photos to jewellery and kitchen tools.

Dark-blue-pegboard-small

My talented arty friend Christine from Sew Yeah has two amazing pegboards – and I’ve been planning to make my own for a while. The idea is simple, you just get a sheet of ready-made pegboard cut to size from a timber merchant; add some wooden batons on the back; paint it whatever colour you like; then hang it on the wall (see Christine’s post about making them here).

Simple! Well, it would be if I ever got round to doing it. Which I haven’t. So, I was delighted to see that lovely homeware brand Rose & Grey (www.roseandgrey.co.uk) are launching a range of , erm, off the peg pegboards at affordable prices that are ready to hang, hooks-and-all!

pegboard-light-blue

Available in a choice of dark blue, light blue (my fave) or white, they include fixtures and fittings and come in two sizes: Small, £30 (30cm x 43cm with eight large pegs and four small pegs) or Large, £40 (59cm x 40.6cm with ten large pegs and five small pegs). You can get your hands on one from the 26th May…

Who knew getting organised could look so chic?!

pegboard-white-styled-2

 

The future’s orange

1 Nov

Lifestyle shot from John Lewis

Pic courtesty of John Lewis (www.johnlewis.co.uk)

I recently wrote a trends piece for Closer magazine about Autumn’s hottest shades, as predicted by world colour experts, The Pantone Color Institute. There are some lovely ones – a deep Greek sea blue; a calming sage green; a spicy hot red… but my surprise favourite has to be ‘Koi’, a cheery bright orange.

Pantone colour predictions Autumn Winter 2013

It’s not a colour you’d automatically think of when buying things for your home, but while it can look too kitsch if splashed over an entire room; a few pops of orange in a plainer white or grey colour scheme can look really cool indeed.

To prove the point, I’ve found a whole host of lovely orange accessories that will add instant wow factor to any room, and that won’t break the bank price-wise. Which one is your favourite?!

ORANGE Fox sculpture £18 Littlewoods

Fox sculpture, £15, Littlewoods (www.Littlewoods.com); Fan lampshade, £36, http://www.Hunkydoryhome.co.uk; Linnell table lamp, £69 Marks & Spencer (www.marksandspencer.com)

ORANGE Cushion £18 Next

Shaggy cushion, £18, Next (www.next.co.uk); Essentials orange pyramid kettle, £25, BHS (www.bhs.co.uk); Bonjour! print £35, http://www.howkapow.com
orange selection one

Musca table lamp in ‘squirrel’, £19.98 B&Q (www.diy.com); Trimphone, £32, http://www.zincandco.com; Orla Kiely pots and jars, £20 – £23 each, http://www.Onebrowncow.co.uk; Jasper dining chair, £39, John Lewis (www.johnlewis.co.uk)

orange selection two

Digital radio, £49.95, John Lewis (www.johnlewis.co.uk); Mod tealight holder, £10.50, Habitat (www.habitat.co.uk); Linea Egyptian cotton towels, from £8, House of Fraser (http://www.houseoffraser.co.uk/Linea+Egyptian+cotton+towel+in+orange/EGYPTORANG,default,pd.html)

One day my prints will come

16 Aug

Visual Philosophy Russian cockerel print

There aren’t enough walls in my house for all the prints I’d love to own, but after discovering a little gem of an online store called Visual Philosophy, I might have to make some space sharpish.

Inspired by “…Mid-Century Modernists, Scandinavian design, typography and retro graphic design”, the Oxford-based designers have created a lovely range of colour-popping prints that are available in various sizes – they’ll even customise them with different shades or words if you ask them nicely. Perfect for present ideas, I’d say.

Everything’s priced individually, with discounts if you buy more than one, but as a guide, you can expect to pay around £16.95 per unframed A3 print, or £23.18 for a trio of A4 prints. The store runs through Etsy at

http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/visualphilosophy

My absolute favourites are Russian cockerel, above, and the kitchenalia prints (immediately below) – I can just see one of them sitting above my bread bin!

Visual Philosophy on Etsy set of three kitchen prints

Visual Philosophy on Etsy are we having fun yet print

Visual Philosophy on Etsy set of three bird prints

Visual Philosophy on Etsy children's print

Visual Philosophy mid century modern coffee print etsy

DON’T FORGET!
Like reading this blog as much as I like writing it? Then please vote for me in the Cosmo Blog Awards by clicking on the link below. I’m nominated in the ‘Best Interiors Blog’ section. Voting closes on 31st August. Thank you!
http://www.cosmopolitan.co.uk/blogs/cosmo-blog-awards-2013/cosmo-blog-awards-2013-shortlist-vote-here

Pop goes the easel

9 Aug

Call Me Pop Art Style Print £17 very.co.uk

Looking for something striking (yet cheap) to jazz up a white or monochrome room? I love these new Pop Art style canvas prints from http://www.Very.co.uk.

Ready to hang, the ‘Call Me’ print, above, is £17; while the ‘I wonder why’ print, below, is £22:

I_wonder_why_pop_art_print_£22

There’s even a matching ‘Carmen’ cushion, for £15:

Carmen_printed_cushion_£15

Want something you can frame yourself? This print by Clay Sinclair is just £5 from John Lewis (www.johnlewis.co.uk):

House by John Lewis, Clay Sinclair - Beautiful Glance Unframed Print £5 John LewisDON’T FORGET!
Like reading this blog as much as I like writing it? Then please vote for me in the Cosmo Blog Awards by clicking on the link below. I’m nominated in the ‘Best Interiors Blog’ section. Thank you!
http://www.cosmopolitan.co.uk/blogs/cosmo-blog-awards-2013/cosmo-blog-awards-2013-shortlist-vote-here

Nothing but the pouffe

15 Jul

POUF LIFESTYLE SHOT handknitted Urchin poufs £470-£795 www.hollys-house.com

POUF handknitted Urchin pouf £470 www.hollys-house.com

These handknitted Urchin pouffes are things of beauty. Soft, chic and woolly, they’re perfect for lounging in front of the telly, putting your feet up on, or rolling out when friends come to visit and you need an extra seat. But at £470 each (from http://www.hollys-house.com), they’re they sort of thing you could only dream of owning…

…until now. Several canny high street stores have recently launched their own, equally stylish versions.

First up is Next, who have small ochre yellow, powder blue or classic neutral cream ‘pods’ for £75 each:

Next small knitted blue pod pouffe lifestyle shot £75

Then there’s Dunelm Mill, whose grey pouffe is an extremely purse-friendly £49.99:

Dunelm Mill grey pouffe £49.99

And finally, Very.co.uk have the Sabichi knitted pouffe, in either neutral or black, for £59:

Very.co.uk Sabichi knitted pouffe £59

PS: Want a pouffe with a bit of oomph? I also love the Estaban pouffe, £109 from http://www.very.co.uk made of hundreds of multicoloured felt pom-poms. Okay, so it’s still a bit on the costly side, but it’s so lovely it’s like a work of art in its own right…

Estaban pouffe very.co.uk £109

Morph, Morph, Morph! How do you like it?

29 Apr

culturelabel morph and chas bookends £20

Apologies if you don’t recognise ’em, but these cheeky chappies, Morph and Chas, will only mean something if you grew up in the late Seventies or Eighties. Artist and presenter Tony Hart’s plasticine sidekicks on the cult TV series Take Hart and later, Hartbeat; they were created by Aardman Animations, long before Wallace and Gromit came along.

I think what I like about Morph is that he’s not been over-exposed, unlike some other characters from my childhood (The Magic Roundabout to name just one). He’s quite low-key, and that makes things like these bookends cool rather than childish – in my, erm, book, anyhow.

They cost £20 for the pair (fairly reasonable for decent bookends these days) from http://www.culturelabel.com

Time to buy a new clock

28 Mar

CLOCKS (FUTURISTIC) Lexon Around Clock £21.65 www.fredaldous.co.uk

The clocks go forward in the UK by an hour this weekend – midnight on Sunday 31st. Whilst this is a good thing in that it heralds the start of British Summer Time (not that you’d know it with the murky weather we’ve been having recently), it’s not so great in that everyone loses a precious hour in bed.

My solution? Celebrate the time change and cheer yourself up with a new clock. You don’t have to spend a fortune – the one I have my eye on, above, the futuristic-looking Lexon Around clock, is a reasonable £21.65 from http://www.fredaldous.co.uk

Want some other suggestions? How about the Normann Copenhagen Watch Me clock, £35 from Heal’s (www.heals.co.uk); the  Cuckoo canvas clock, £14.99, Dunelm Mill (www.dunelm-mill.com); the fabulously retro Jones Strike Mantle clock, £10 from Asda (direct.asda.com); the Nextime Disco clock, £29, http://www.redcandy.co.uk; or the Ice Cream Cone clock, £35, John Lewis (www.johnlewis.com), all below.

Better be quick though if you want to buy one before Sunday – time’s a ticking!

CLOCKS (COLOUR POP)  Normann Copenhagen Watch Me Wall Clock £35 Heal's

CLOCKS (QUIRKY) Cuckoo canvas clock £14.99 Dunelm MillCLOCKS (RETRO) Jones Strike Mantle Clock £10 Asda

CLOCKS (METALLIC) Nextime Disco Clock £29 redcandy.co.uk

CLOCKS (QUIRKY) Ice Cream Cone Clock, £35 John Lewis

Tray chic

22 Feb

zinc memoboard 40x20cm £20 roseandgrey.co.uk

I’ve been looking for just the right kind of noticeboard for the wall of my home office for a while. It needs to be useful, yet look stylish too, as my office is really just a grand name for our spare room.

And I think I’ve found just the thing.

This Zinc Memo Board, £20, from Rose and Grey (www.roseandgrey.co.uk), looks like a chi-chi zinc tray – the kind you’d get drinks served on in a backstreet Parisian bar – and comes with a hanging rope loop and ten little magnets to hold all those important notes, cards and reciepts in check.

Don’t like the rectangular one? They’ve got round ones too, for the same, very reasonable price.

It had sold out completely, but the nice people at Rose and Grey tell me they’ve just received a new delivery – so they’re all stocked up and ready to go.

Send in the clouds

18 Feb

Cloud eraser and pencil set

I’ve recently started working from home*, and to get myself in the right frame of mind, I’m trying to make my office space (erm, a desk in the spare room!) as welcoming, fun and lovely as possible.

While searching for nice stationery – a favourite pastime of mine – I discovered a new mini trend: clouds. I love their jolly rounded shape, and the fact they’ll bring a bit of the outside in for those times when I’m chained to my computer.

So, here’s my pick of the best cloud-shaped accessories around at the moment. Maybe best to stick to just one or two in a room though – you don’t want things to get too over-cloud-ed, do you?!

TOP:
Cloud Pencil Eraser Set, £10, http://www.suck.uk.com – I LOVE this as it includes a rainbow too. The only problem is that the giant cloud-shaped eraser is too pretty to use!

BELOW:
Magnetic keyholder, £20, http://www.suck.uk.com – keys stick ‘magically’ to this handy keyholder, and look like rain. Genius! It’s stylish and unassuming even when not in use, and would go well in any room in the house.

Cloud magnetic key holder suck uk

Design Ideas Cloud Magnet Memo, £24.95 John Lewis, http://www.johnlewis.com
This clever write-on/wipe-off memo board is also magnetic and would look particularly lovely on a coloured wall.

cloud memo board john lewis

Luckies Sunnyside Egg Shaper, £7.95, http://www.luckies.co.uk or http://www.suck.uk.com
Place in your frying pan, then pop a yolk into the ‘sun’ section and the white into the ‘cloud’ – voila! (NB: want a quick way to separate egg whites and yolks? Crack an egg onto a plate, then gently lower the open neck of an empty water bottle over the yolk – it creates a vacuum and sucks it up! Then you can transfer it easily in the bottle to your pan).

Cloud sunnyside in pan

Cloud necklaces, from £6, http://www.Etsy.com and http://www.notonthehighstreet.com
Ok, so these won’t decorate your home, but they’re so sweet I thought I’d include them anyhow! Just seach for ‘cloud necklace’ on Etsy or Notonthehighstreet.com and there’s a huge range to choose from. Lovely! (on the left is an antique silver finish cloud by thewoodlandburrow on Etsy for £6.64/$10; on the right is Blue Raindrop Silver Cloud necklace by SUNnMOONcafe on Etsy, £21.58/$32.50)

silver cloud necklace thewoodlandburrow on etsy £6.64 or $10

*If you’re interested, you can check out my new ‘professional’ website here: http://www.jennywood.co.uk

Owl right now

21 Jan

Rigby & Mac Xmas felt owl wall clock £16.95

I was going to write about this fun little fella before Christmas, but then he sold out, and one of the promises I made when I first set up this blog was only ever to mention things you could actually buy.

Anyhow, I’ve just received an email saying he’s back in stock, so let me introduce you!

Called the Grey Felt Owl Wall Clock, from the lovely Rigby & Mac (www.rigbyandmac.com), he looks like a trendy uber expensive Scandi-style timepiece you’d get somewhere like Heal’s. But actually he’s a very reasonable £16.95.

I love his little winking eye, his soft felt-y body, and the little baby owl on his pendulum. I think he’d look very smart in a hallway, living room or kid’s bedroom.

What a hoot!

Bargains dot com

18 Jan

Dotcomgiftshop sale set of pantry design cake tins £4.95 was £12.95

I don’t know about you, but I’m always a bit disappointed in the post-Christmas sales. The discounts are fairly measly, there’s only the dregs left, and it’s all a bit of a letdown.

But not with the sale at http://www.dotcomgiftshop.com. Oh no. Now that’s what I call a sale!

Dotcomgiftshop is one of my all-time favourite websites. There really is something for everyone, from cool homewares and cute prints, to fun knick knacks and great gift ideas from their talented in-house design team.

While everything they sell is pretty affordable anyhow, their huge sale is absolutely bargainous, with up to 70% off.

I’ve picked out some of my favourite pieces below, but to see the full scale of the sale, you’d better visit the website quick. Happy bargain hunting!

(above) Set of three pantry design cake tins, £4.95 (was £12.95). A great gift for someone who loves baking or just eating cakes!

(below)
Midnight blue flower embroidered cushion, £9.95 (was £34.95). Gorgeous designer-look embroidery for under a tenner.

Dotcomgiftshop sale Midnight blue flower embroidered cushion £9.95 was £34.95

Vintage doily paperchain kit, £2.95 (was £6.95). Perfect for parties!

Dotcomgiftshop sale vintage doily paperchain kit £2.95 was £6.95

1950s advent calendar house, £6.95 (was £18.95). Buy now for next Christmas…

Dotcomgiftshop sale 50s advent calendar house £6.95 was £18.95

Set of four vintage leaf design knick knack tins, £4.95 (was £9.95). Organise your desk, sewing kit or man/woman drawer in style.

Dotcomgiftshop sale set of four vintage leaf nic nak tins £4.95 was £9.95

Party ribbons, £2.95 (was £6.95). Look great wrapped around plain brown paper.

Dotcomgiftshop sale set of ribbons party £2.95 was £6.95

Alphabet magnets, £2.95 (was £6.95). A lovely gift for big and little kids alike – plus it fits in a flat envelope!

Dotcomgiftshop sale Alphabet fridge magnets £2.95 was £6.95

Set of six pantry design spice tins, £3.95 (was £9.95). Too pretty to shut away in a cupboard.

Dotcomgiftshop sale set of six vintage pantry design spice tins £3.95 was £9.95

Coaster hunting

16 Jan

Alphabet coasters scrabble style theletteroom.com letter E

Whenever I want a fun, personal present to pop in with a birthday, Thank You or New Home card, I buy one of these sweet initial coasters.

Made to look a bit like Scrabble tiles, there’s one for every letter of the alphabet, plus symbols such as @, & and a heart.

A single coaster would make a lovely little gift for someone to use on their bedside table or desk; or you could buy several and spell out a word.

I get mine from a little shop in Crystal Palace, London; but I see that http://www.theletteroom.com have started selling them too (search under ‘coaster’). They’re just £3.95 each. Bargain!

Alphabet coasters full range

Alphabet coasters cake

Chair and chair alike

7 Jan

Eames DSW chairs various colours

The chairs above are all swanky Vitra Eames DSW chairs – a modern update of a 1950s classic by designers Charles and Ray Eames. It comes in various lovely colours and costs £315-320 from places such as Heal’s, John Lewis and http://www.funkylittledarlings.co.uk

The green ‘Malmo’ chair, below, also comes in white, black or red. However, it’s currently just £49  from Asda Direct (directasda.com). Spot the difference? Neither will 99% of your visitors.

You can buy six of these – SIX – for the price of one of the designer versions. Amazing.

The green and red versions are usually £99, but have £50 off at the moment, so snap ’em up quick. They’d look equally great round a dining table; as a statement on their own in a bedroom or bathroom; in a spare corner in a hallway; or as a smarter-than-usual home office chair.

TENDER SHOOTS Green Malmo chair £59 Asda

 

These radios rock!

14 Dec

John Lewis Spectrum DAB radio £29.95 pink

I can’t decide what I like most about these new Spectrum DAB/FM radios from John Lewis. The fact they come in eight lovely colours (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, pink, white and black/grey); the fact they’ve got a lovely rubbery exterior; the fact they work with both batteries and from the mains; the fact they’re a cute 15cm x 8cm x 2.7cm; or the fact they’re only £29.95.

That’s right – they look designer, but cost just shy of £30. That’s a bargain in my book! And as they’re made by good old John Lewis, you know they’re going to be good quality (they even come with a two-year guarantee).

I reckon they’d make the perfect present for a brother, sister or friend. I’m going to ask Santa for a yellow one for my kitchen!

John Lewis Spectrum DAB radio £29.95 red

Luxe for less

2 Nov

Last week, I wrote a feature for the fabulous LOOK magazine on how to get designer-look homewares at high street prices. I found loads of great luxury copies (or ‘lookalikes’ or ‘tributes’ if you’re being kind!), including Asda’s amazing fox cushion, as featured on Monday’s blog post.

Anyhow, I came up so many great comparisons that they wouldn’t all fit in the mag. So, here, for your eyes only, are the ones that didn’t make it on the page. There are some spookily good lookalikes here… better snap up the cheap versions quick, before the lawyers are called in!

Above…
Left: Handknitted Urchin Pouffe, £470, http://www.hollys-house.com
Right: Scilla knitted floor cushions, £39.98 each, Colours at B&Q http://www.diy.com

Below…
Left: Deknudt Decora Silver Nugget Mirror, £825 , Heals http://www.heals.co.uk
Right: Home of Style Round Faceted Starburst Mirror, £49.99, Homebase http://www.homebase.co.uk

Left: Large Red Folding Vase, £75, The Conran Shop http://www.conranshop.co.uk
Right: LineaMix Red Vase, £30, House of Fraser http://www.houseoffraser.co.uk

Left: Bulb Table Lamp by Ingo Maurer, £655.20, http://www.ambientedirect.com
Right: Idea bulb shape table lamp, £19.98, B&Q http://www.diy.com

Left: EyeTest cushion, £25, John Lewis http://www.johnlewis.com
Right: Eye Test Card cushion, £12, Next http://www.next.co.uk

Left: White deer head, £99, Dwell http://www.dwell.co.uk
Right: Porcelain white deer head wall mount, £15, Matalan http://www.matalan.co.uk

Left: Vakash Cushion Cover, £120, OKA Direct http://www.okadirect.com
Right: Orange circles cushion, £20, Debenhams http://www.debenhams.com

Left: Film Lamp, £1,250, http://www.mufti.com
Right: Alfred Tripod Floor Lamp, £139, http://www.made.com

Left: The Small Baroque mirror, £900, Squint http://www.squintlimited.com
Right: Infini Baroque mirror in pink, £89.97, Tesco Direct http://www.tesco.com/direct

Time for a new clock

31 Oct

The clocks went back at the weekend (if you live in the UK, that is) and to celebrate, I’m thinking of treating my new kitchen to a new clock. The forerunner at the moment? This fun Newgate Milk Bottle Wall Clock, above, £35 from John Lewis (www.johnlewis.com).

Fancy doing the same? There are LOADS of cool clocks out there at the moment. Here’s my pick of the best – let me know which one you have the most, ahem, time for!

Lexon Around clock, £28, Heals (www.heals.co.uk):

Canvas Cuckoo clock, £14.99, Dunelm Mill (www.dunelm-mill.com):

Multi-coloured Photo Frame clock, £29.99, The Contemporary Home (www.tch.net):

Retro Aylesford wall clock, £19.50, M&S (www.marksandspencer.com):

Silver Star Wall Clock, £30, John Lewis (www.johnlewis.com):

Jones & Co Dover Wall Clock, £19.92, Tesco Direct (www.tesco.com/direct):

Mini [working!] metal alarm clocks, £4.99 each, The Contemporary Home (www.tch.net):

Sunburst Gold Wall Clock, £25,  M&S (www.marksandspencer.com): 

Block party

5 Oct

The great thing about Tetris – and the reason it’s still as popular today as it was when it became available on Nintendo Gameboys in 1989 (yep, I had to look that up on Wikipedia!) – is that anyone and everyone can play it. You don’t have to be a computer geek; you don’t have to speak any particular language; and you don’t have to master any complicated rules. Perfect!

That’s why so many people – including myself – grew up playing it. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons I didn’t do as well in my exams at school as predicted: instead of knuckling down to revise, I gave my knuckles a workout playing Tetris. For hours (sorry, Mum!). It was – and still is – brilliantly addictive.

Anyhow, I’m sure I’m not alone in saying the game has a special place in my heart. So, I just had to tell you about this genius Tetris lamp, £29.99 from Firebox.com.

It comes in seven parts, each shaped like a Tetris block. You plug in the bottom block, then stack the others on top any way you like – and as you stack them, each block lights up  like magic. Brilliant! There are loads of different combinations and it’s a guaranteed conversation starter.

One of the few people who don’t care much for Tetris? Buy it for someone who does – I guarantee they’ll be de-light-ed!

PS: If you’re really Tetris-mad, and good with knitting needles, a crochet hook or a sewing machine; how about making some fun Tetris cushions to go with your lamp, like these, below, from Etsy.com…!  (Guttingly, they’re no longer available to buy)

Stick ’em up!

3 Oct

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Top Drawer, a trade show for people who own gift shops and homeware stores, where I met some brilliant designers including the lovely Adele from Nutmeg Wall Art (www.nutmegwallartstickers.co.uk) who makes removable wall stickers/decals.

I’d first stumbled upon her website when I was looking for a way to brighten up my son Sam’s nursery. I emailed her a picture of his room, which has very tasteful, but not very kid-friendly tree wallpaper on the walls. She came up with the idea of making brightly coloured parrot wall stickers to perch in and fly around the trees. Cute! She even superimposed the parrots on the picture I’d emailed her (above), so that I could see what the stickers would look like before I commited to buy them.

So, I thought I’d share her site with you. She sells ‘normal’ wall stickers like these:

But what is particularly fab – and what sets her apart from many of the other wall decal companies out there – is her bespoke service.

If you drop her a line at sales@nutmegwallart.co.uk, Adele will make you a personalised sticker for a very reasonable price. For example, a personalised London street sign sticker (immediately below – you can make up your own street name and postcode) is £30; a bespoke kitchen sticker (below, middle) is £26; and a personalised script sticker (below, bottom) is £19. But of course you don’t have to, erm, ‘stick’ to words and text – you can copy me and pick anything you like, as apparently Adele likes a challenge!

Where you bin?

24 Sep

The other day, regular reader and fellow blogger Chrissy (from SewYeah.co.uk) was telling me about her search for a good looking waste paper bin. All the ones she could find were a bit, well, rubbish. It may have just been a throwaway comment (boom boom!) but it got me thinking – actually, the two bins I have in my house are extremely shonky, ancient wicker affairs.

As a result, I launched my own search. And Chrissy is right. Most waste paper bins are of the boring or chintzy variety. However, there are a few non-trashy (as it were) bins out there.

My favourite is above – the strangely-named CEP Carat Desk Set Waste Bin, £15.33 from http://www.amazon.co.uk. It’s a pleasing shade of amethyst and would go nicely with my grey sofa. I’m also quite taken with the neon pink HAN Elegance Signal bin, £18.60, also from Amazon (directy below, also available in other colours). It’d look great against a grey, black or white backdrop.

Slightly more expensive but equally cool is the designer Essey bin, available in two sizes (large, £34.95 and mini, £24.95) from http://www.alltidiedup.co.uk (below). It looks like a crumpled paper cup, but is in fact made of plastic, and comes in red, white and black.

As for the best of the rest? Next (www.next.co.uk) have some fabulously OTT glittery bins – called ‘Sparkle’ bins – in either silver or plum, £28:

Then there’s the Beverly waste paper bin, £23, http://www.jasmineway.co.uk, which looks a bit like a fancy tissue box:

And the cheap and cheerful Bright heart waste paper bins, £5.95, http://www.amazon.co.uk:

I also quite like the kitsch-ness of the Retro Kelloggs bins £7.95, http://www.amazon.co.uk:

And these little fellas are worth a mention too. From left to right: Umbra Touch waste paper bin £21.60 http://www.redcandy.co.uk; round metal waste paper bin £4.12 Tesco; Omaha mesh waste paper bin £19.95 http://www.alltidiedup.co.uk; Sainsbury’s Basics white waste paper bin £2.50; and Brabantia Classic bin £20.36 http://www.amazon.co.uk.

Put a lid on it

24 Aug

Everyone needs some small Tupperware containers in their lives.

Since I was given a set of four cute nesting tubs with lids from Paperchase, I’ve used them constantly – for taking biscuits or snacks to work; holding loose change; taking face cream away in on holiday; storing herbs in the kitchen; and providing hours of entertainment for visiting children (who love stacking them inside each other then taking them apart again). In fact, they’re so useful I’ve bought another pack.

Aside from all this though, they just look cute!

Paperchase bring out new designs all the time, and they cost £7 for a set of four instore or at www.paperchase.co.uk.

My favourites at the mo? The fab London Underground map set “All Change” (above); the abstract creatures of “Cheeky Chops”; the passport stamp-inspired “Stamps” and for kids (both big and little) the lozenge-shaped “Sunshine Holiday” (all below).

PS: If you like these, you’ll also love the Bright Mini Food Boxes by Rice, just £6.25 for a pack of 12 from http://www.nettlegreen.co.uk – perfect for transporting snacks.

Just another brick in the wall

10 Aug

If you live with anyone else – whether that’s a partner, friend or even your mum, you’ll know how hard it can be to choose stuff for the home that you all agree on. My husband and I are like that about wallpapering our bedroom. We had it replastered over a year ago, and the wall behind our bed stays stubbornly blank, while a small tower of paper samples builds up on the chest of drawers next to it.

Then I had a breakthrough. I spotted the new Colours Woodland wallpaper from B&Q, above. Paste it up and it looks like your wall is clad in hip, weathered , Scandi-style timber. It’s a bold look – best suited to just one feature wall – but surprisingly, we both love it!

What’s more, this designer effect costs just £14 a roll! It’s an absolute bargain considering most fancy wallpapers cost at least £50 per roll these days.

And looking around, optical illusion papers like this are everywhere this Autumn/Winter. B&Q also have a cool “instant library” wallpaper (below, with red/black chair) depicting shelves of books (which would work well in a living room or study) for £19.98 per roll; Next sell wood panels too, as well as a brick effect (great for a kitchen or dining room) and bookshelves, all for 15 per roll (panels and bricks below);  while www.wallpaperdirect.co.uk have a plethora of designs (check out the new ‘Serendipity’ collection, bottom two pix), panels, multicoloured bookshelves and even a pebbledash print, all at £28-£34.95 per roll.

I think they’re wonderwall – sorry – wonderful. And for once, my other half agrees. Maybe yours will too?

Natural Habitat

6 Aug

I have to confess, I haven’t been in Habitat for a while. It’s always had nice stuff, it’s just that it’s fairly expensive stuff, and you guys know me – I’m all about the bargains.

So I was pleasantly surprised to see this fab nest of occasional tables from their new collection. Made of good quality steel and solid oak, the nest includes tables in mustard yellow, sky blue and the brilliantly-named Airforce blue, and are a very reasonable £70 for the set of three. The nest is also available in white or white/greys.

Alternatively, you can buy single Kilo occasional tables in green, white, red, blue, black, wine or orange for £25 each (below).

And while we’re on the subject, I spotted a couple of other little gems too. The retro-look Herbert spice jars (which could hold anything really, from earrings to keys to cotton buds) are £4 each (also below); while the versatile Macadam folding chairs – an original Habitat design from the Seventies – come in hot pink, white, blue, black or silver and cost just £10 each (bottom). Wow. That’s so cheap I think I need to sit down!

Word up!

1 Aug

Do I need to spell it out? I’ve just discovered www.theletteroom.com and I think it’s font-tastic!

The site sells 3D letters in every size, colour, typeface and material imaginable (from wood and plastic to metal and even light-up neon); plus cute accessories decorated with initials, and personalised word-y prints.

The letters cost from just £3.75 each (for the bright wooden versions), meaning you can go minimalist with your favourite initial on a mantlepiece or shelf; or buy several and get creative on a bigger scale. How about a row of Zs above a bed; a colourful “Splash” in the bathroom; or even a whole alphabet of different fonts on a plain wall?

PS: I’ve written a piece for Look magazine this week all about using letters as wall art. And you can get 15% off at http://www.theletteroom.com too! Simply enter code LOOK at the online checkout between now and 7th August.

 

That’s neat, that’s neat, that’s neat, that’s neat, I really love these Tiger treats!

25 Jul

See these gorgeous bright steel stools, above? You’d think they were at least £20 each, wouldn’t you? Well, they’re A FIVER! I nearly bought one in each colour on the spot!

I’ve written about Tiger Stores on this blog before, but I popped into my local branch the other day and besides these stools, I saw so many fabulous things that I thought I’d update you…

For those who don’t know it, Tiger has come over from Denmark, and is like a Japanese-style version of the Ikea marketplace. They sell so many amazing bits and bobs for the home, and it’s all mega cheap – nothing is over £30. They add new stock regularly and while they don’t sell online (yet), they do have a useful website at http://www.tigerstores.co.uk which tells you what’s just arrived. There are now 17 stores in the UK and they’re opening more  almost monthly.

Here’s what I spied this week:

Ceramic canisters with spoon on the side, £5 each…

Tile coasters, £1 each…

Letter and number mugs, £1 each…

Multi-coloured coathooks, £4 each…

Flowerpot toilet brushes, £4 each…

Pretty notepads, £2 each…

Thanks for the memo boards

18 Jun

Shall I tell you a secret? I have a memory like a sieve. When I’m working, everyone thinks I’m incredibly organised, but the truth is that at home, I can barely remember my own name sometimes.

The only way I can stay on top of things is with endless lists, writing things on my hands, diaries (I have two paper ones and one on my phone) and memo boards.

Yep, memo boards are the forgetful girl’s best friend. And after years of using my fridge and some magnets as an organisation station (a great phrase!), I’ve decided to upgrade to a smarter, ‘proper’ board.

I’ve got my eye on two at the moment, both from www.shoponmydoorstep.com. First up is the ingenious Drip Magnetic Strip memo board with five tiny magnets, £12.95 (above). It looks like a swoosh of paint, comes in red,  purple or black, and is the perfect size – not so small you can’t fit anything on; but not so big you lose stuff on it.

Secondly, I’ve always liked the idea of a blackboard wall, but have never gotten round to faffing about with chalkboard paint. Now I’ve found the answer-  chalkboard wall stickers, from £5.45 for an A4 size (they go up to huge A0 size sheets for £29.45).

You can stick ’em up as they are, then write notes on them with chalk – or you can cut them into any shape you fancy. Job done!

PS: Like this blog? Nominate it for an award!
If you love my blog, I’d be honoured if you’d nominate it for the ‘Lifestyle Blog of the Year’ in the Cosmo Blog Awards 2012. To do so only takes a few seconds – just enter www.thetreasurehunteruk.com in the ‘Lifestyle Blog’ category on the following link:
http://www.cosmopolitan.co.uk/blogs/cosmo-blog-awards-2012/cosmo-blog-awards-2012_nominate
Nominations close at the end of June. Thank you!

At home on the branch

11 Jun

I first spotted these powder-coated stainless steel twiggy coat hooks over two years ago, in a homes magazine. They’d styled up three of them, in beige, olive and white, on a grass green wall – they looked lovely.

At the time, I was in the process of selling my flat, so I promised myself I’d get a couple for my new place… then I lost the magazine in the move!

I couldn’t find them for sale anywhere – until now. I’ve just stumbled upon them at www.shoponyourdoorstep.com, where they’re £23.45 each for the slim Twig Hanger – not bad for something that looks like a cool  piece of modern art as well as being darn useful, too.

Style them like the mag against any strong coloured wall, or keep things subtle with a white one on a white background,  and let the things you hang on it do the talking.

Whatever you decide, I guarantee it’ll look tree-mendous (sorry!).

What happens Next…

6 Jun

Take a look at the photo above. You’d think it was taken in a  chic French Brocante (bric-a-brac) shop. But in fact, this Aladdin’s Cave of goodies is a selection of Next’s new honewares ranges for this coming Autumn/Winter!

I was given a sneak preview of their new collections and was seriously impressed. Lots of stuff looks designer, and I particularly love the large zinc-edged wooden letters (above); the red miner’s lantern; the cotton reel candlesticks and designer-look light fitting made of four vintage-style lampshades (bottom). How about you?

Prices are still tbc, but as it’s Next, they’re likely to be more than reasonable. I can’t wait to start shopping!

Keep your eyes peeled for the new collections instore and at www.next.co.uk from the Autumn.

Measure for measure

30 May

When they were handing out good looks in the animal kingdom, snails weren’t at the front of the queue (they can’t move that fast, obviously…). However, they do make for really cute desk accessories – just check out these little fellas! You simply pull on their antennae (is that the right word?) and out pops a tape measure. Genius. They’re £7.99 from www.mocha.uk.com.

I also can’t resist these sweet little animal tape measures from Japan (just £2.99 from various sellers on EBay – search under ‘panda tape measure’ and they’ll all pop up). Choose from a frog, panda, piggy, bear or friendly-faced tiger. Perfect for popping in your pocket when you go to Ikea.

Finally, when is a tape measure not a tape measure? When it’s a Sellotape dispenser! Cunning designers Suck UK, who make some brilliant products, have created this tape dispenser disguised as an old school traditional measure (£5.99 from www.amazon.co.uk or £7.99  from www.mocha.uk.com). I reckon every well-dressed desk should have one.

By hook or by nook

25 May

Keys, mobiles, iPods, glasses/glasses cases, pens, lipbalm… you can never find things like these when you need them. Which is usually just as you’re trying to leave the house and are in a bit of a flap anyhow.

That’s why I’m thinking of investing in a HookNook – a genius new cubbyhole and coat/bag/scarf hook combined. It’s big enough to hold all those vital bits and bobs, yet discreet at the same time

Why not get one for each member of your household and put them in a line

The Hook Nook by Flip & Tumble is £11 (for the white version) at http://www.junkskull.com or £13.35 (for a green or brown version) at http://www.amazon.co.uk

PS: Like this blog? Nominate it for an award!
If you love my blog, I’d be honoured if you’d nominate it for the ‘Lifestyle Blog of the Year’ in the Cosmo Blog Awards 2012. To do so only takes a few seconds – just enter http://www.thetreasurehunteruk.com in the ‘Lifestyle Blog’ category on the following link:
http://www.cosmopolitan.co.uk/blogs/cosmo-blog-awards-2012/cosmo-blog-awards-2012_nominate
Nominations close at the end of June. Thank you!

Suit your shelf

14 May

Do you remember those wooden display shelves that grans used to have? They might have looked old-fashioned, but they were perfect for showing off nic nacs.

Now http://www.boonuk.co.uk have brought the idea into the 21st century with these cool Flaunt Shelves. Unlike similar models, which cost bajillions of pounds, they cost just £19.99 for a three-shelf unit, or £29.99 for six-shelf unit. They look equally great on either a white or a coloured feature wall and work in practically any room in the house.

The only problem you’ll have is deciding what to put on them!

Stamp for joy

20 Apr

Staplers and hole punches – two of the most useful yet boring items on your desk…

Until now, that is.

Every time you use this Stampler by Suck UK (above, £7.99 from http://www.find-me-a-gift.co.uk or £8.10 from http://www.amazon.co.uk), you’ll smile – and so will your documents. A stapler and ink stamp rolled into one, it not only fixes papers together, but prints a happy face in red ink on them (with the staple as the mouth). Totally pointless, but a lot of fun.

As for the hole punch below (£8.56, also by Suck UK from Amazon), it punches heart-shaped holes instead of round ones. A nice touch that only the ultra-observant colleagues will notice, but that’ll brighten your day all the same.

Show me the moneybox

6 Apr

It shouldn’t be surprising that in these financially trying times, it seems oversized moneyboxes are now in fashion big time.

Dwell’s new collection (www.dwell.co.uk and instore) includes this fantastically bling silver metallic balloon dog moneybox, above. At 26cm long, 10cm wide and 16cm high, it’ll make a great statement on a shelf (not to mention a handy bookend) and should fit tens of pound inside. Mind you, that’s what you have to shell out for it too, as it’s £29.95. I’m still tempted though!

It’s a similar story with the gorgeous giant Seventies-style  friendly elephants from www.husandhem.co.uk. Now, I know that no-one needs a money box that’s an enormous 20cm high x 28cm long x 23cm wide, and that the £36 price tag is more than I’d ever save in loose change inside it, but seriously, how CUTE are they?!

I dream of getting a green one for my baby son’s bedroom and pretending I bought it just for him (not that anyone who knows me would believe me!).

Still, I ought to be practical – the shop also sells much smaller 10cm versions, in white, pink, turquoise or orange for £8.95. Much more sensible.

Stock is apparently running low of both sizes, so you can only gaze longingly at them on the website, but if you call (01531 631 044)  or email the shop itself in Ledbury (info@husandhem.co.uk) they’ve told me they’ll try to order one for you. You’d be Dumbo not to! (sorry)

Oranges are not the only fruit (cherries and pears are cool too!)

30 Mar

I have a new crush – the website for Hus and Hem (House and Home), a shop selling unusual, gorgeous Scandinavian home goodies. Amongst my favourite items is their range of retro-style fruit-print kitchen accessories designed by Swedish graphic artist Lotta Kuhlhorn.

I particularly like the ‘Vegas’ coasters, £13.95 (inspired by slot machine fruits, I think!); the pear, orange and apple tea towels, £13.50; and the pear and apple birch veneer trays, £18.95.

And to complete the look? A fab original 1970s Danish  design apple tree money box, £8.95, which you can stand on a shelf or mount on the wall like art. Scrumptious!

Switch craft

26 Mar

One of the quickest ways to get a professional finish after you’ve decorated a room is to change the lightswitches. Replacing discoloured switch plates with  new chrome or fresh white plastic ones (B&Q have a wide selection) costs just a few pounds and instantly makes a room look classy, sparkly and fresh.

But if you’re looking for something a bit different, check out the quirky Mr Switch Plates from http://www.johncaswelldesign.co.uk. They turn your lightswitches into fun little faces and look way more expensive than their £10-a-pair pricetag.

No good at DIY? The people and animal face light switch stickers, £7.50 per pack, from http://www.coxandcox.co.uk (below) give much the same effect – just stick the little eyebrows, moustaches, lips, beards, whiskers etc onto your existing lightswitches to make friendly faces. Similar are the ‘Light Up Your Mood’ stickers, £6 per pack, from www.howkapow.com.

One hot desk

16 Mar

I had an email from a reader recently, asking whether I thought she should get a desk from Ikea.

Now, I LOVE Ikea stuff , and would normally have said yes, but one of my favourite pieces of furniture in my house is my Loft desk, £199, from John Lewis.

For just a few pounds more than an Ikea version, you get something made of solid oak and oak veneer, that looks like it was designed by Conran. With an extendable pull-out desk top, it’s perfect for a home office, and easily smart enough for the corner of a living room/bedroom where space is tight. It has five useful cubbyholes, plus a drawer, and discreet holes for computer cables.

It’s available in plain oak or White; or for £225, you can now get the “Reborn” version, which has gorgeous coloured lacquer inside the cubbyholes. Cute!

Welcome to the house of fun

2 Mar

I love Cox and Cox (www.coxandcox.co.uk). They sell a really good mix of beautiful vintage-style pieces, unusual homewares, decorations and quirky gifts.

They’ve just stocked up with loads of new products – some of which I’ll write about in the next few weeks – but for now, I had to show you this brilliant storage house, £35.

Made of heavy duty cardboard, it’s got 24 little drawers, which you can paint, stencil, stick stuff onto (as in the pic above), or cover with patterned paper (I’d decorate mine with different coloured origami papers) At 40cm high, 38 cm wide and 6cm deep, it’s handy for storing stationery, jewellery, sewing or craft stuff, household bits and bobs or even as an advent calendar later in the year.

Prefer to keep your nic nacs on display? I’m also coveting the new Dolls House Shelf, £49, (I know it’s not cheap, but check it out below – it’s gorgeous!). It has 23 little shelves, each backed with 70s-style paper and is 53cm high, 45cm wide and 5cm deep. The perfect size for both big and little girls!

All present and correct

27 Jan

My new obsession is an awesome online shopping site called http://www.presentandcorrect.com. It’s not just that they sell gorgeous stationery, cards, notelets, prints, stickers, stamps and other bits and bobs, but that they photograph and present them all so beautifully.

My top picks? The bright wooden ‘click’ pencils, £5.50 (above); the tag notebooks, £7.50 for three; the cunning tape measure calendar, £16 (each day is 1cm on the tape measure – genius!); the label notecards, £3.25; the old Czech matchbox labels, £6 for 25 and the pick’n’mix stamps, £3.95.

One day my prints will come

13 Jan

As I’ve discussed before, wall art is sooooooo expensive these days. So, I was chuffed to find that one of my favourite sites, http://www.dotcomgiftshop.com have come up with a new range of retro prints for just £14.95 each – and what’s more, they come framed!

My absolute favourite is the dog print, above – it’d work particularly well in a hallway, I reckon. The Village Show would look brilliant in my Dad’s kitchen, and the cycle one would make a great present for my brother-in-law. Let’s hope they don’t read this blog…!

Dear diary…

3 Jan

When I was a teenager, I kept a diary religiously, documenting all my embarrassing crushes, rows with parents, friendship dilemmas and important events such as what I bought in Tammy Girl, and what I ate for dinner.

Diaries like this are brilliant, if cringeworthy, to look back on, but as you get older, very few of us have enough time on our hands to keep that level of detail up.

Which is why I’m loving this new ‘One Line a Day’ Memory Book, £7.50 from http://www.amazon.co.uk. It does exactly what it says on the tin – you write just one line a day about your day/your thoughts and feelings (there’s room for up to five years of entries). I reckon even I can manage to do that, and it’ll be brilliant to look back on it next New Year’s Day.

Read all about it

5 Dec

You’d think buying a present for a bookworm would be easy. But actually, it’s a minefield – how do you know which books they they own/have read?

This year, I’ve found the answer – don’t buy them a book at all.

I’ve just bought someone the brilliant Personal Library Kit, £11.95 from http://www.culturevulturedirect.co.uk, which contains library cards, stick-in pockets and a professional-looking library stamp. It means that when they lend someone a book, they’re guaranteed to get it back (thus solving a big bookworm bugbear).

I paired it with a box set of postcards featuring book covers – I’ve featured the Ladybird Books set here before, but the Penguin covers set is also fantastic, £10.43 from http://www.amazon.co.uk.

Finally, another great idea is a book journal – a diary to record every book you’ve ever read. They range from address book-style tomes, which involve writing a book’s title and giving it a rating; through to fancy ones where you can enter your own book reviews.

My two faves are the Book Journal by K Two Products, £7.50, for the ladies (very stylish cover) and Books I’ve Read, £6.87 (nice and basic, perfect for blokes), both from Amazon.

The added bonus of this gift? Next year, when you’re trying to work out if they already own a book you want to get them, just take a peek at their journal!

Stop right now

18 Nov

Door stops are not the most glamorous of homewares, but if, like me, you’ve got an annoying door that won’t stay open, they suddenly become an essential.

Until recently, I had a boring grey wedge-shaped one. Then I spotted this from Oliver Bonas (www.oliverbonas.com) – a cunning doorstop in the shape of a paper aeroplane. Made of white plastic, it won’t scuff, and it looks way more expensive than the £12 price tag.

New in stores this month, I predict it will, ahem, fly off the shelves!

Top this!

14 Nov

Sitting on the sofa while balancing my laptop on my knee, I always end up feeling slightly uncomfortable, with toasted thighs. Not that that’s a bad thing in winter, but still, it’s not ideal. It also makes the laptop overheat.

So, at the weekend, I went to Ikea to buy a bookcase, and came out with a Brada laptop support (above) in a cheery red and white spotty design (I always  end up leaving Ikea with bits and bobs I had no intention of buying).

It’s a plastic crescent-shaped hard plastic shelf, with a fabric cushion underneath, filled with polystyrene beads. You pop it on your lap, and the cushion moulds to the shape of your legs, while your laptop sits on the shelf. Not only does it stop your computer and your thighs from overheating, but it’s comfy too. There’s even a little velcro pocket on the side for your mobile phone.

Honestly, it’s revolutionised my life!

If you think the spots are too girly, it’s available in ‘serious’ grey too. For just £9.99, it’s well worth popping in your big blue bag the next time you visit Ikea.

It’s Grrrrrrrreat!

19 Oct

The best shop I’ve ever been into in my life was a Japanese pound shop in Singapore. Chock full of craft stuff, homewares and beauty bits, all in gorgeous Japanese prints or with quirky slogans, and all costing the equivalent of £1 each, it was so bargainous that it was almost overwhelming (you can drool at the products, and see store locations around the world, at http://www.daiso-sangyo.co.jp/english/)

I assumed the experience was a one-off until yesterday, when I visited the new Tiger store in Lewisham shopping centre (of all places). A Danish concept, it’s like a cross between that Japanese pound shop, Muji, Ikea, H&M and Poundland. I spotted gorgeous craft stuff, picture frames, baking equipment, pretty napkins, homewares, bathroom accessories, unusual wrapping paper and stylish stationery – almost all costing just £1-£4.

Apparently there are 90 Tiger stores in 11 different European countries, with ten or so of them in the UK. The Lewisham branch is their newest. It’s worth making a special journey to one near you (visit http://www.tigerstores.co.uk), as I guarantee you’ll stock up with Christmas presents.

My top picks? Toadstool biscuit tins, £2 and £3 (see top); Babushka socks, £3; multicoloured  hooks, £1; drawer knobs, £4; wrapping paper, £1 a roll; and big packs of A4 patterned origami paper, £2.

Pleased to seat you

5 Oct

It’s impossible to go to Ikea and only come out having bought the thing you originally went in for. On a recent weekend trip there (never a good idea, I know, best to go in the evenings when the store is yours) for door handles, I came back with this lovely Nordmyra chair.

It’s a cross between Scandi style and the mid-century modern (a new take on the 1950s) designs that are everywhere at the moment.

Normally, something like this would cost you £80 upwards pretty much anywhere, but as it’s from Ikea, it cost just £29. It looks really stylish in the corner of my bedroom with a little red crochet cushion on the seat; but I bet a set of four (which would set you back £116 – a total bargain) would look amazing round a dining room table.

Paper, scissors, home!

19 Sep

One of my favourite ways to get inspiration for decorating a room is to visit http://www.wallpaperdirect.co.uk and look for their newest designs. They’ve got a really easy-to-use search facility that lets you hunt for specific colours or words (eg: trees, Scandi) or types of patterns (eg: floral, geometric). You can order samples too – the first two are free, and then they’re 60p each after that, including P&P. Rolls themselves cost £5 upwards.

But you don’t have to just use wallpaper for walls – I’ve used it to line drawers of an Ikea chest (paste it to the base of your drawers before you assemble them for the neatest finish, see below) and now I’m on the hunt for something to paper the inside of a boring hall cupboard with.

I adore all things Japanese, so I’ve fallen in love with this gorgeous new design, called Kokeshi, which comes in blue or red. Sadly though, it’s one of the most expensive on the site at £83 a roll (eek!), so I may have to lower my sights a little. Cute though, isn’t it?

Write on

12 Sep

The problem with ‘to do’ lists is that you always end up losing them (or is that just me?). Not any more. I’m tidying my study and investing in this fantastic new set of four wipe-clean Writeboards, £24.99 from http://www.tch.net, to keep myself organised.

Designed to look like lined, ruled and chequered exercise book pages, they work well in a group of four or hung in a line, and come with a handy black wipe-off marker.

They’re much classier than a pinboard, and are far more likely to remind you to do stuff than a scrappy ‘to do’ list on the back of an old till receipt floating around at the bottom of your handbag (or again, is that just me..?!)

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