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Things are looking up

24 May

When we first moved into our house seven years ago, it was a chintz palace. Everything was bright yellow and blue; there were frills everywhere; and the shell-shaped bathroom sink was very special indeed. Slowly, we modernised, but on a shoestring budget, which meant the faux-beamed artexed kitchen ceiling had to stay. I painted the beams black, and replaced the cast-iron chandelier with a row of spots, but frankly, it was still hideous. And gloomy.

So, when we’d finally saved enough to give the kitchen a little facelift, the ceiling was the first thing to get sorted. We couldn’t afford to redo the layout, meaning there was no room for fancy light fittings, so we decided to go for low-fuss spots instead.

But how easy is it to get a whole new ceiling and put in new lights? Surprisingly easy, as it turns out. Here’s how…

First, our friendly builder, Neil, built a frame a few centimetres lower than the old sagging ceiling. New lengths of wiring were joined to the existing central light fitting; then plasterboard was then screwed into the frame to create a new, flat ceiling.

Neil then spread a thin layer of plaster over the board to make it smooth; painted the ceiling; then drilled holes for the spotlights:

Finally, an electrician fitted the spots. We wanted good quality fittings that would look unobtrusive, but which would make bulb-changing easy, so we went for these brilliant recessed White Gloss Twist & Lock Fire Rated Downlights, £5 each, from fitted with long-life LED bulbs (also from First Choice Lighting):

Extra safe (because of the fire rating), you simply twist out the bulbs when you need to change them. We wanted fittings flush with the ceiling, but if you’ve got more room to play with, they have a HUGE selection of modern lighting fittings – for all rooms in the house – that look a million dollars but don’t cost it.

And here’s the finished ceiling! The building work and electrician cost £350, and the light fittings themselves came to just £40 for eight. Honestly, it’s made SUCH a difference. Even my other half, who said he didn’t care about the old ceiling, loves the fact he can now see what he’s cooking. It’s like a light has been switched on (erm, because it has!).

What do you reckon? Have you completed a long wished-for yet simple project that has transformed your home? Let me know in the comments below or email me at – I’d love to see your photos!

Going green

8 Nov


A while ago I tested travel beauty products for a national newspaper. My favourite? The Green Balm, an ingenious – and very cute – calming balm from MOA (Magical Organic Apothecary).

It contains completely natural ingredients such as yarrow, tea tree oil, beeswax, plus coconut, sweet almond and soy bean oils, and smells DELICIOUS.  I now carry a little pot around with me as it has so many cunning uses, including (deep breath):
– helping heal cuts, grazes, blisters and burns
– treating insect bites
– soothing dry and itchy eczema, psoriasis and rashses
– soothing chapped lips and coldsores
– a sore throat gargle
– calming shaving rash and keeping newly-tattooed skin infection-free
– fighting athlete’s foot
– helping fade stretch marks
– nourishing dry hands, nails and cuticles
– removing eye makeup
– using as a hot-cloth cleansing balm


What’s more, despite looking and smelling uber posh, it’s a bargain. A lipbalm-sized 15ml pot for your handbag costs £4.99 or you can buy three for £11.50 in a sweet little tube; a larger 50ml jar costs £12.50; and a large 50ml jar plus bamboo face cloth costs £17.50, all from www.Moa.London


I know it’s supposedly FAR too early to think about Christmas yet, but it makes a fab, and unusual present. I’m getting my order in this week…!



Spot the difference!

3 Nov


I’m a cleaning product junkie. My under-sink cupboard is crammed with mysterious potions, and I love a good browse of the Lakeland catalogue. But if I had to choose just one product to beat them all, it would be the sexily-named Kilrock K2R Stain Remover Spray.

Seriously, it’s a miracle worker. No matter what you’ve spilt on your top/jeans/skirt, this handy little spray will remove it.

You simply spritz it all over the stain, where it quickly turns into a white powder. Leave it sitting there overnight (ideally for 24 hours), then brush off any excess powder (don’t worry if it looks like the stain is still there) and pop your garment into the washing machine as normal. I’ve used it on oil, fruit stains, makeup, curry, balsamic vinegar… you name it, it’ll vanish.

It’s saved so many of my clothes (not to mention my kids’ tops). It’s even removed seemingly-indelible stains that were over a year old.

As well as washable fabrics, it’s also designed to remove marks – particularly oily ones – from dry-clean-only fabrics, and non-washable upholstery. You spray it on, leave it to work, then firmly brush it all off.

It’s £4.80 for a can on (where it has some very impressive reviews), and I guarantee once you’ve tried it, you’ll be back to buy another!





The Friday Find: The pina things in life…

2 Sep


The ‘it’ fruit of the summer, the pineapple, isn’t going anywhere just yet. I’ve spotted chic black pineapple-shaped pots, sparkly cushions, and even metal pineapple bookends at the Autumn homeware preview shows.

But if you want a subtle way to try the trend, look no further than this brilliant gold pineapple necklace from HEMA (my new shopping crush).

Studded with tiny diamantes, and on a decent-length chain, it’ll make any ordinary t-shirt, jumper or sweatshirt look that little bit extra special, without going OTT. It looks expensive, but here’s the really great news – it’s just £4. I know, £4!

Quite frankly, I can’t think of a single reason not to buy one, or even a pear, sorry, pair…

Like this? I’ll be posting more fab finds on Instagram. I’m @Woodyjen and you can follow me HERE




The Friday Find: Cactus makes perfect

22 Jul

Cactus storage jars Howkapow

I’ve mentioned before (here) that I’m a huge cacti fan, so I’m glad to see they’re sticking around interiors-wise. And the latest cactus-shaped items to catch my eye are these quite frankly awesome glossy ceramic cactus pots, from

Designed and made in Amsterdam, and complete with hand-painted prickles(!), they’re ideal for storing jewellery, cookies, stationery… you name it, you can pop it inside.

The small (17cm tall) version is £12.95, the medium (19cm tall) version is £18.95 and the large (23cm tall) version is £24.95.

Available to buy now, if you want one, I’d look sharp if I were you, as they’re bound to be a succulent – sorry – success!

Medium Cactus Jar £18.95

The Friday Find: something fishy

20 May

I spot so many amazing things on my window shopping expeditions and in my day job is as a lifestyle journalist, that I’ve decided to start sharing them with you regularly. From great gifts to beautiful bits for your home, I’ll post up my finds on Fridays, so you can think about treating yourself at the weekend…

Small £18 and Large £33 retro fish vases The Contemporary Home

Today’s ‘Friday Find’ are these fun retro-style fish vases from The Contemporary Home ( Based on original ‘gurgling fish jugs’ from the late 1950s, they’re almost too pretty to put flowers in.

The large one is 30cm tall and 20cm wide and costs £33; and the small one is 24cm tall, 17cm wide and costs £18.

If you’re feeling really flush, you could ahem, splash out on a pair!

The Friday Find: Drop-down-gorgeous origami shades

13 May


Oh wow, how lovely are these lampshades? Combining two of my favourite things – origami and bright colours – they’d look amazing either on their own in a bedroom, or in a row along a hallway.

WildWood_Lifestyle_SS16_LampshadeOrange_1_HIBy stylish interiors brand Wild & Wolf, and made of hand-folded paper, you can choose from four retro hues: Alena (English mustard) £34.95, Zodiac (goldfish orange) £44.95, Caspian (Swedish green) or Nuvola (French blue) both £39.95.


They come folded flat in a colour co-ordinated box, so would also make a great gift:


Get yours at before they sell out!


The Friday Find: Throws of passion

6 May

I spot so many amazing things on my window shopping expeditions and in my day job is as a lifestyle journalist, that I’ve decided to start sharing them with you regularly. From great gifts to beautiful bits for your home, I’ll post up my finds on Fridays, so you can think about treating yourself at the weekend…


Last week saw the sad news that the department store BHS ( is in administration and likely to vanish from our high streets forever. The homeware and lighting departments have some great stuff, and it’ll be a shame to see it go.

So, this week’s first ever Friday Find has to be from BHS. I popped in there at the weekend to check out the discount event currently taking place… and fell in love with this ‘Purple multi coloured woven throw’.

The original price was £30, but it’s now been reduced to £24, and the pix don’t really do it justice – the zingy colours and chunky knit wool make it look a zillion times more expensive:


It’s a decent 157cm x 152cm and would look great in any room in the house – or even outside to keep you snug while enjoying a cheeky evening drink or two in the garden.


Parrot fashion

23 Mar


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 (, and there are four designs to choose from.

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


WIN! Tickets to the Ideal Home show

2 Mar



The house next door to us is having a complete makeover, and as part of it, the owners have just installed full window shutters both in the living room and the bedroom. They look GORGEOUS and they’re making me deeply regret choosing curtains in my own bedroom. Bright and clean and the perfect blank canvas for loads of different colour combinations, shutters may not be super cheap, but when you consider the cost of made-to-measure curtains (not to mention the cost of dry cleaning them), they’re actually a sound investment. Not only do they look stylish, but they’re uber practical too, working as the modern (much nicer) equivalent of nets, keeping prying eyes out, but allowing the light to filter in.


As one of the big trends in interiors at the moment, shutters are set to feature centre-stage at this year’s Ideal Home Show, which runs from 18th March to 3rd April at Olympia in London. It’s all down to Thomas Sanderson – experts in shutters, window and conservatory blinds – who are the main sponsor of A Traditionally British Home, one of the full-size show homes at the event, styled by Linda Barker.

And to celebrate, they’re offering five lucky Treasure Hunter readers a pair of tickets each to visit the show. You’ll get to tour every room of the four-bed house to see the latest trends and colour-schemes, and get lots of inspiration from seeing Thomas Sanderson’s energy-saving shutters and clever automated window blinds in situ. Oh, and you’ll also have fun touring all the stalls and stands, watching demonstrations and doing a fair bit of shopping. My idea of heaven!

For your chance to win a pair of tickets, send me an email at with your name and postal address (to send the tickets to if you’re a winner); or tweet me @WoodyJen with your email address.
Winners will be drawn at random on 13th March, and the tickets will be sent out before the start of the show.
Good luck!
PS: To find out more about Thomas Sanderson’s beautiful window shutters, conservatory blinds and window blinds, visit; follow them on Twitter @tsblinds; or follow their Pinterest boards at
Thomas Sanderson - kitchen shutters


Hang it all!

25 Feb

Desk pegboard (pic courtesy

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

Above: Monochrome peg board by

Workspace pegboard (pic by

Above: Workspace pegboard by

Craft room pegboard (pic by

Above: Craft room pegboard by

Below: Yellow peg board by Block Design

Yellow pegboard £25 (mini) to £65 (large)



Thinking a-head

23 Nov

POSS OPENER PIC ceramic animal wall vases £35 Graham and Green (this is low res - high res is available if needed)

Vases are a great gift when you’re unsure what to get someone. After all, everyone needs them, and you can never have too many.

But if you’re giving someone a vase this Christmas, why not make it a bit special. Say, a vase in the shape of a polar bear or koala’s head?

These ceramic vases aren’t particularly cheap at £35 each (from Graham & Green), but they are AMAZING. Plus, you can almost guarantee the recipient won’t already have anything like one already.

Polar Bear Wall Vase  £27.99  (with roses)

Depending on the design, they’re 15-19cm high and 12-20cm wide, making them a fairly decent size. What’s more, they’re actually really versatile. Yes, you can use them for flowers or foliage; but they also work well for bulbs; or as a quirky pen or pencil holder; or somewhere to store your makeup brushes…

In fact the only problem with them that I can see is that you’ll have problems deciding which friendly little fella to go for!

Throwing in the towel

21 Apr

photo 2 (3)

I read a survey yesterday which claimed that one of the secrets to happiness is having clean sheets. I’d also like to add fluffy towels to that list.

Sadly though, unless you have bajillions of pounds to spend, most ordinary towels only keep that spa-style softness for an indecently short time, quickly turning cardboard-like after just a few rounds in the washing machine.

Which is why I was so excited to hear about Tesco’s new Hygro towels (bear with me here), which boldly promise to get softer and fluffier the MORE you use them. Apparently made using a special spinning technique that creates a hollow fibre; they trap and ‘pillow’ air during tumble drying to make them thicker and more absorbent after just three washing and drying cycles…photo 4

So, I tried them. In the name of scientific research, I took ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos (below) next to a ruler; firstly straight out of the packet, and then after three washes. Not being the world’s greatest photographer, the scale is a little out, but the difference on the ruler is clear to see. Still lovely and soft, the towels have indeed ‘grown’. Impressive eh?

photo 3 (2)

Not a fan of this lime shade? No problem! They come in 20 different colours including grey, hot pink, red, purple and blue; and cost between £1 for a washcloth and £9 for a bath sheet from and instore. At that price, why not give them a try and conduct your own experiment?

It’s in the bag

16 Apr

yellow leather zatchels satchel

It was my birthday the other week (21 again, lucky me!) and this year I got a pretty amazing present – a GORGEOUS handmade leather old school-style satchel – pictured above – by British brand Zatchels (

In fab-smelling bright yellow and 13in across, it’s big enough to fit all my work bits and bobs, and goes with almost everything. There’s only one downside – it’s so look-at-me stunning that people keep stopping me to ask where I got it!

Usually, satchels like this are mega expensive. I’ve wanted one for ages, but it’s only now there’s a whopping 50% off on the Zatchels website, that I could justify asking Mr Treasure Hunter for one. So, instead of a purse-scaring £86, a satchel like this will set you back a slightly more reasonable £43. Not bad eh?

They come in several sizes, a dazzling array of colours (including traditional brown and oxblood red as well as metallic hues), and you can choose extras such as back straps and hidden poppers under the buckles. And if satchels aren’t your bag (ahem), there are lovely leather saddlebags (for £30 instead of £60) and bucket bags (£23 instead of £45) too.

Go on, bag yourself a bargain today!


In for a pound at Christmas

1 Dec

POUNDLAND LIFESTYLE paper stars on chair two for £1

Check out these gorgeous supersized gold paper stars (above), which are perfect for hanging from windows, banisters or walls. You’d imagine they’d be fairly expensive….

…but nope, you can get two for just £1 at – whisper it – Poundland.

And how about this cool Scandi-style peg wreath for holding cards…

POUNDLAND CUT OUT Peg wreath card holder £1 Poundland

Yep, it’s just £1 too, at Poundland.

And this on-trend honeycomb tree, and set of red and white bells? That’s right, just one pound (and in the case of the bells, £1 for ten)!

tree and bells for blogProving you don’t have to spend a fortune on nice-looking Christmas decorations, Poundland have come up with some corking bits and bobs to make your house look lovely. I also like this tasteful felt ‘Merry Christmas’ banner:

And this jewel-coloured tinsel wreath, tabletop tree and glittertastic baubles:

jewel trio for blog

They also have some fab little metal tealight houses, in red and white, which would look amazing in a row on a mantlepiece; dainty felt snowflake bunting; and supersized paper stars in other colours:

red and white trio for blog

In fact, I reckon, you could probably kit out an entire room for around a tenner at Poundland, and no-one would ever guess where you got it all from. Race you to the checkout!

POUNDLAND LIFESTYLE Red and white decs

All the decs in the room above are from Poundland!

PS: It’s awards season in the blogging world again, and I’m very excited to be nominated in this years’ blogging Oscars, the UK Blog Awards – in both the ‘Lifestyle’ and the ‘Most Innovative’ categories. So, if you enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoy writing it, I’d be honoured if you’d click on the below links and vote for me. Voting takes literally seconds – you just enter your name and email address – and would make me incredibly happy!
To vote for me in the ‘Lifestyle’ category, click here:
To vote for me in the ‘Most Innovative Blog’ category, click here:
If you only feel like voting once, please vote in the Lifestyle category. Voting closes on 3rd December.
Thank you!






How to get a whole new bedroom for just £150!

26 Nov

photo 1 (3)

Argos is the store where you really can buy anything. It’s long had a reputation for practical items like kettles or washing up bowls – and at bargain prices – but it wasn’t necessarily the first place you’d think of going for great-looking interiors stuff.

Now, that’s changed. Thanks to a team of style-savvy buyers, the new in-house Heart of House range, and the addition of furniture and accessories from Habitat, you can pick up some fab homes bits that look way more expensive than their very reasonable price tags.

To prove this, Argos challenged me to revamp my main bedroom entirely with their products – and on a tight maximum budget of just £150. A boring blank canvas to start with…

photo (90)

…I wanted a fun, colourful scheme that would work with my existing charcoal grey world type map print from Bold & Noble (check it out here). So, to echo the global theme, I took a cheery grass green zebra cushion – just £12 – as a starting point, and based everything else around that.

Here’s the result:

photo (87)

It’s bright and cheery, fairly unisex (Mr Treasure Hunter hates florals!) and very easy to live with.

Want to recreate the look? Here’s my tips:

– Bring a monochrome scheme like this to life with just one or two punchy accent shades. I’ve gone for poppy red and my all-time favourite colour, grass green, which is big news for 2015, by the way!
– When mixing pattern, look for a common thread to tie everything together, whether that’s a shape or a shade. Here, the zebra stripes are echoed in the uneven lines on the duvet…

photo 2 (4)
– It’s a myth that you have to spend a fortune on bedlinen. This ‘Dashes’ set is just £11.99 for a double duvet cover and two pillowcases, and looks way more expensive once it’s dressed up with cushions and a throw. Check out Argos’ other bargain bedding designs here and cushions here.
– Reversible bedding is a great idea, as you can change up your look in seconds. This set is white-with-black stripes on one side, and black-with-white stripes on the other.
– Forget white sheets – add interest with brightly-coloured ones instead, along with matching pillowcases. Here, I’ve gone for bright red.
– Hate your carpet? Give it a whole new look with an inexpensive rug. The one I used has a flat weave, is a decent 120cm x 180cm, and costs just £40. Argos have loads of other colours and textures too – check them out here.
– Desk lamps make perfect bedside lamps as you can direct the light exactly where you need it. The switches are also often more accessible than on table lamps…
photo 2
– Look for quirky-shaped bowls to use as trinket dishes beside your bed for storing little bits and bobs like rings and lipbalm. The dish I used is actually meant for souffles or dips!

And here’s my shopping list:

Dashes double duvet set (double) £11.99. ColourMatch poppy red double fitted sheet £7.99 for a double. ColourMatch poppy red housewife pillowcases £2.50 for a pair. Habitat Zig zebra cushion s £12 each. Red cotton throw £17.99. ColourMatch desk lamps in poppy red £5.99 each. Green Habitat Orrell rug £40. Jones by Newgate Rise and Shine alarm clock £14.99. ColourMatch smoke grey cotton cushion£4.99. Denby cherry red flower ramekin dish £11.99.
TOTAL = £148.42.



PS: If you enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoy writing it, I’d be honoured if you’d click on the below links and vote for me in the UK Blog Awards. Voting takes literally seconds – you just enter your name and email address – and would make me incredibly happy!
To vote for me in the ‘Lifestyle’ category, click here:
To vote for me in the ‘Most Innovative Blog’ category, click here:
If you only feel like voting once, please vote in the Lifestyle category. Voting closes on 3rd December.
Thank you!

Topper the morning to you!

24 Nov


The best night’s sleep I ever had was in a hotel in San Francisco (the Hotel Diva). The bed was so comfy it felt like sinking into a cloud when you lay down. So, what was the secret … in-house hypnosis? Nap-inducing drugs in the air-con system? Nope. A mattress topper.

My bed at home feels anything but cloud-like. Although it’s fairly new and gets flipped/turned regularly, my uber expensive mattress from John Lewis already has more ups and downs than Taylor Swift’s love life.

So, rather than spend another small fortune on a new one, I’ve opted for the San Francisco solution and invested in a high tech Clusterfull mattress topper from The Fine Bedding Company (£85 double or £95 kingsize, view it here):

photo 2

The Rolls Royce of toppers, it looks like a thin duvet, with elastic straps at the corners to attach it to your mattress. It has lots of square internal pockets filled with ‘Smartfil’ fibres, which are apparently coated with a diamond-hard yet silky soft silicone, meaning they slide over  each other rather than getting squished together. The result? Supposedly super breathability (meaning you’re neither too hot nor too cold); snuggleability (!) and durability. The makers claim it’ll keep its soft, spongy plumpness for years.

photo 1


This all sounds impressive, but does it work? In short, YES. Easy to fit, I was expecting to feel some lumps and bumps from the mattress, but the topper filled them all. Now, it’s like sleeping on an entirely different bed. I used to find it hard to get back to sleep if I woke in the night, but now I drop back off again as soon as my head hits the pillow. My only regret is that I didn’t get a topper earlier!

Fancy giving your mattress a new lease of life? Here’s my topper tips…

– Think about synthetic vs natural fillings. While you can get luxurious-feeling toppers stuffed with feathers or down, a synthetic filling might be better if you suffer from allergies.
– Look for pockets. In some toppers, the filling is ‘loose’, meaning it can shift around inside. Over time, this can make for a very uneven surface to lie on. Pockets mean the filling is distributed evenly throughout the topper – and it can’t move.
– Prolong the life of your topper with a mattress protector. Many toppers – including mine, even though the filling is synthetic – aren’t washable, so putting a washable protector over the top makes sense. I got the Spundown Mattress Protector, from £30. Here’s how it looks on the bed:

photo 3


Right, after sharing all this, I think I need a little lie down. Sweet dreams!

PS: If you enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoy writing it, I’d be honoured if you’d click on the below links and vote for me in the UK Blog Awards. Voting takes literally seconds – you just enter your name and email address – and would make me incredibly happy!
To vote for me in the ‘Lifestyle’ category, click here:
To vote for me in the ‘Most Innovative Blog’ category, click here:
If you only feel like voting once, please vote in the Lifestyle category. Voting closes on 3rd December.
Thank you!

Grin and bear it

18 Nov

Mel Yates_G&G Autumn 14_10242

Why have an ordinary, boring side table when you can have a bear or a tiger?!

HOMES ED LOVES Polar bear side table £125 (cut out)

Perfect for holding up the bear – sorry, bare – necessities, such as a lamp, pile of mags, or just a cup of tea, these friendly fellas will look right at home next to a sofa or bed, and inject a huge dose of quirky fun into any room.

They’re a decent size (53cm tall and 33cm wide), and made of moulded resin.

Want to adopt ‘Tyson’ the tiger? He’s £125 from Graham & Green (here)…



…while ‘Benny’ the bear and ‘Petri’ the polar bear are both £125 each, from either Rockett St George (here or here) or Graham & Green (here or here):

PS: It’s awards season in the blogging world again, and I’m very excited to be nominated in this years’ blogging Oscars, the UK Blog Awards – in both the ‘Lifestyle’ and the ‘Most Innovative’ categories. So, if you enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoy writing it, I’d be honoured if you’d click on the below links and vote for me. Voting takes literally seconds – you just enter your name and email address – and would make me incredibly happy!
To vote for me in the ‘Lifestyle’ category, click here:
To vote for me in the ‘Most Innovative Blog’ category, click here:
If you only feel like voting once, please vote in the Lifestyle category. Voting closes on 3rd December.
Thank you!


Admit one (into your house)

11 Nov

Cinema ticket doormat

Doormats, let’s face it, are usually pretty boring. After all, there’s only so much you can do with a rectangle shape. This rubber one, however, is thinking a little bit outside the box- and I think it’s pretty awesome.

In the shape of a cinema ticket, it’s perfect for a film fan (or anyone bored of run-of-the-mill mats) and shows guests you’ve got a sense of humour before they’ve even crossed the threshold. Just don’t be surprised if they start demanding a giant vat of Coke and a tub of popcorn.

Get yours from The Gift Oasis for £22.99 here.

From Catwalk to Cushion (part 2)!

4 Nov

catwalk to cushion 1

FOLK Catwalk – Temperley London/Cushion – Matthew Williamson at Debenhams £28.
STRIPES Catwalk – Sass & Bide/Cushion – Ikea £4.

One of my favourite ever posts on this blog has to be ‘From Catwalk to Cushion’ (from September 2013 – read it here).

Earlier this month, I was asked to recreate it for Notebook (the magazine published with the Sunday Mirror) as part of their recent Homes Special. The idea was to find cushions that were inspired by the Autumn/Winter 2014 fashion runways.

Well, I LOVED researching this piece so much, I thought I’d share my catwalk/cushion comparisons with you. So here it is, ‘From Catwalk to Cushion’ Part 2. Enjoy!

Catwalk to cushion 2

GREY Catwalk – Christopher Kane/Cushion – H&M Home £14.99.
ROSES Catwalk – Giambattista Valli/Cushion – Wilko £7

Catwalk to cushion 3

METALLIC Catwalk – Antonio Beradi/Cushion – H&M Home £12.99
LEOPARD Catwalk – Sportmax/Cushion – Tesco Direct £16

Catwalk to cushion 4

COLOUR BLOCK Catwalk – Tsumori Chisato/Cushion – Ikea £7
FOXY Catwalk –  Dolce & Gabbana/Cushion – Dunelm £12.99

Catwalk to cushion 5

PURPLE Catwalk – Prada/Cushion – Wilko £8
INDIGO Catwalk – Temperley London/Cushion – Sainsbury’s £16

Catwalk to cushion 6

CHECK Catwalk – Tommy Hilfiger/Catwalk – Homebase £11.99
ZIGZAG Catwalk – Issa/Cushion – Zazzle £25.95

Catwalk to cushion 8

TWO TONE Catwalk – Emanuel Ungaro/Cushion – £15
BLUE Catwalk – Richard Nicoll/Cushion – Wilko £6.50

Catwalk to cushion 7

WOLF Catwalk – Antonio Marras/Cushion – Tesco Direct £8
FURRY Catwalk – Prada/Cushion – Dunelm £7.99

Catwalk to cushion 9

EMBROIDERED Catwalk – Temperley London/Cushion – Dwell £49
BUTTERFLIES Catwalk – Valentino/Cushion – Marks & Spencer £19.50

Bargain bedroom makeover

27 Oct

Wide shot bedroom (widest)

Kitting out a bedroom from scratch can be expensive – whether you’ve just bought your first place; have had an extension; are moving into new rented or student accommodation; or are simply giving a tired room a complete revamp. When you’ve got everything from bedding and cushions to accessories to think about, making somewhere look homely can mount up – fast.

The thing is, stylish, good quality yet cheap homewares aren’t always easy to find. Which is why I’m a huge fan of Tesco Direct‘s new homes ranges. The supermarket has really upped its game when it comes to interiors recently, and their collections for this Autumn/Winter are fantastic. There’s a contemporary country look with pale blue and natural wood; an Oriental collection with velvet, teal, hot pink and purple; an ‘Old Hollywood’ look with glamorous black, copper and gold; an update on the cosy cabin look with oranges and tartans; and my favourite, a monochrome Manhattan loft collection, with pops of red, black and navy.

So, when Tesco challenged me to make over the bedroom in my new loft on a budget, it wasn’t difficult. I set myself a budget of £350, with the aim of creating a bright, fun, friendly space where guests would instantly feel at home. This is the very boring room beforehand…

Bedroom before

And this (plus the pic at the top of this post) is the room after!

After shot

I decided to stick to Tesco’s recommended palette of black, white, red and blue, as it’s easy to add to – or change – as time goes on.

My top tips for a scheme like this:

–  Boost the impact of a patterned duvet set by pairing it with co-ordinating plain coloured pillowcases and sheets.
–  A chair is a big-ish investment, but will give your room a really ‘finished’ look (and provide somewhere for guests to sit/lay their clothes).
–  Storage boxes are a great way to keep clutter out of sight – choose patterned ones that go with the decor.
–  Combine a radio and alarm clock to take up less space on the bedside table.
–  Make your own artwork to save money – I bought two plain white frames, and got a local framer to make a mount with four apertures, which I filled with Pantone postcards.
–  Follow the geometric theme through elsewhere in the room, for example, in the pattern on the vase, and on the chair cushion.

Close up of bed cushion and artwork

And my top buys? The geometric duvet set (which Mr Treasure Hunter wasn’t at all convinced about beforehand, but now loves); the handy – and bargaintastic – bedside lamps, which look way more expensive than their £15 price tags; and the stylish grey fabric retro tub chair, which at £119 is far nicer and cheaper than anything similar I’ve seen elsewhere (it comes in other colours, and if you’ve got the space, there’s a matching sofa for £169 too!):

Close up side table

If you want to recreate the look, here’s my complete shopping list:

Geo triangle duvet cover and pillow set, double (also available in single and kingsize) £15. Twin pack housewife pillowcases in red royal (available in other colours) £3. Brooklyn desk lamps in white (also available in chrome) £15 each. Arai cushion in red (also available in blue) £10. ‘No place like home’ cushion £14. Retro fabric tub chair in charcoal £119 (also available in red or mocha – and there’s a matching sofa in each colourway too!). Lightweight knitted pouffe in red (also available in chocolateivory, lime or pink) £40. View Quest mini DAB+/FM radio in red (available in many colours) £59.95. White vase £10. Space dyed throw in grey £20. Black & white storage boxes from £3.50. Basic photo frames in white (11″ x 14″) £5.60 – all from Tesco.
TOTAL: £335.65

I also added a couple of items I already owned: Red Tvis rugs £4.50 each, Ikea. Travel Europe print by Robert Crampton £26.99 for 61cm x 81cm (prices start at £13.99 for a 20cm x 30cm print),, which was framed by a local framemaker. Pantone postcard box of 100 postcards £12.78 Amazon.

PS: If you’ve made-over a room on a budget, drop me a line at – I’d love to see some pix!

bedroom with focus on chair



It’s about time

24 Oct

habitat clocks

If you live in the UK, you’ll be pleased to hear you get an extra hour in bed next Sunday when the clocks go back.

Personally – although I reckon you never need an excuse to go shopping – I also think it’s the perfect time (sorry) to buy a new clock.

This Autumn, the most stylish ones by far are from Habitat, above, who have a huge designer-look selection at not too eyewatering prices.

I also really love this very stylish black and copper Acctim wall clock from Tesco Direct, £30…

CITY Acctim copper wall clock £30 Sainsbury's (angle shot)…this friendly wooden owl clock from Next, a steal at £16…

THREE OF A KIND Owl wall clock £16 Next…this Kaleido Geometric clock £25 from Hunkydoryhome

SONY DSC…or this fun Milk Bottle clock £12 from Asda, which currently has pride of place in my kitchen:

THREE OF A KIND George Home bottle clock £12 Asda




Having a ball! (plus WIN beautiful Cable and Cotton ball lights)

22 Oct



A while ago, I interviewed the actress Emilia Fox about her interiors style. Turns out she’s a huge fan of fairy lights – stuffing them in glass jars, suspending them under her kitchen cupboards… In her view, fairy lights (or string lights as those in-the-know like to call ’em) are for life, not just for Christmas.

And she’s spot on. Get the right kind and they can in turn look cosy, stylish or just plain fun at any time of year. Which is why, after months of seeing them in all the coolest homes mags, I’m so excited to finally get my hands on some brilliant new ball lights from Cable and Cotton.

photo 2

These long strings of fat cotton balls are available in several different colour combos (or you can create your own using a handy online tool). They look incredibly arty when they’re not switched on; and absolutely stunning when the lights are working – sending twinkly coloured sparkles all over your walls.

new_mexican_offnew_mexican_off (1)

I went for the ‘Mexican’ colourway  – orange, lavender, purple, olive green, fuchsia pink, turquoise, Prussian blue and sandstone – a lovely mix of colours that seems to look good everywhere (above, far right). Which means another problem – where to hang them! Ideas include along or under a mantlepiece; along a bed headboard; circling a dressing table mirror; around a favourite picture; or even up the banisters. At the moment, they’re hanging from a curtain pole in my bedroom, and very lovely they look too.

photo 3

If you fancy a string of your own, they cost from £22.95 for 20 lights (up to £42.95 for 50) at the Cable & Cotton website here… or, you can enter my competition and get a string for free! Yep, thanks to the kind people at Cable & Cotton, one lucky Treasure Hunter reader will win a set of 20 lights in the colours of their choosing.

TO ENTER, simply leave a comment on this blog post below, stating where you’d hang your string if you were lucky enough to win; and/or if you prefer, tweet me your answer @WoodyJen instead. Closing date is 13th November.



Above: the limited edition sparkly gold and silver colourway for Christmas

Blurred lines

3 Oct

Betty Jackson, Tripod lamp with Geo shade £65 Debenhams

Why stick to the straight and narrow when  you can zig zag instead? One of the cheeriest homes trends of the moment, zig zags – or chevrons as designers prefer to call ’em – are everywhere right now.

While my other half, Mr Treasurehunter, says they make him feel like he’s had one too many beers, I personally love them, and am lusting after a black and white chevron rug for my home office.

If you really, really, really wanna zig zag-ah (sorry!), there’s a huge array of different colours, widths and products out there, and a couple of chevron cushions or a chevron shade will not only brighten up your room, but your day too. Here’s my pick of the best:

Top: Lamp £65 Betty Jackson Black at Debenhams; Chevron wall clock £31.05 Shannybebo at; Teapot £21.95

Below: Chevron lampshades £2.99 each The Range (…

Chevron lampshades from the range


Below: Picture frame £16 Oliver Bonas; Fabric storage trays £32 for set of three, Living by Christiane Lemieux at House of Fraser; Vase £15 BHS; Duvet set £14 for a double Wilko

Duvet Set Black £14 for double Wilko

Below: Chevron print mugs £5 for four George Home at Asda Direct

Chevon print mugs £5 for four George at AsdaBelow: Towels from £9 Betty Jackson Black at Debenhams



Black by Betty Jackson towels from £9 Debenhams

Below: Mind the Gap tray £19.99 and Between the Lines cushion £39.99 London Transport Museum Shop (

Mind the Gap Tray £19.99


Below: Eileen rug £70.95 Joss & Main; Zig zags cushion £21.95; Zig zag pouffe £150 Debenhams

Eileen Rug £70.95 Joss & Main

Below: Sabichi Herringbone throws (in plum or grey) £15 each,



Bathroom on a budget

9 Sep

photo 3 (2)

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 (, 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 ( 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, below; a small white pedal bin for just £3 (!) at Wilko (; and a little bamboo caddy for £6 in the sale at Sainsbury’s (John Lewis do something incredibly similar, here, for £20).


photo 4 (2)

Next, I took one of the cabinet shelves with me to John Lewis ( 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.

photo 1 (2)

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 (, below, look suitably posh, yet cost just £3 each.

photo (52)

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

photo (53)

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!


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’, 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 (, which is offering free postage at the moment; or you can also buy a selection of the toys from




Get the look: Sweet Shop Shades

28 Jul

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.


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; Tuscany ready assembled large bookcase £199 Rain canvas from £64.34 Nelson blue block clock £65 BluesuntreeWall print £19.50 for pack of four Marks & SpencerGreen scandiphone £41.95 bloomsburystore.comLavender patent pocket Filofax £28 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 throw in apple green £49 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 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


Above: Me, working my (ahem) magic!

Very Moorish

19 Jun

Modern Moroccan pic 1

Moroccan-inspired interiors have quietly been coming back into fashion for a while now. But whereas Morocco normally makes you think about brick reds, rich oranges and dark wood, the new ‘Modern Moroccan’ look is much brighter and punchier – hot pinks, lime green, royal blue and bright purple, punctuated with silver rather than the traditional gold, and set against fresh white walls.

It’s an incredibly easy look to pull off, and one I love. I’ve been looking for a good excuse to write about it for ages, so when Jen from the fab LoveChicLiving, Denise from The Swelle Life and Cunard cruises challenged bloggers to create a moodboard on Pinterest  inspired by one of their Mediterranean ports of call, I knew exactly which destination to pick: Agadir in Morocco.

Often overlooked in favour of more famous Marrakech, Agadir is stunningly beautiful, and absolutely embodies the Modern Moroccan look. It’s partly thanks to the lush green countryside of the Paradise Valley, and partly down to some stunning buildings in Agadir itself that while keeping traditional Moroccan details such as tiles and intricately shaped doorways, manage to be completely contemporary at the same time by staying light, bright and airy.

The beauty of this look is that you don’t need to go overboard – start with a hint of geometric pattern on tiles, cushions or a fretwork screen; add a brightly coloured comfy pouffe and a couple of pretty silver or wirework lanterns, and you’ll update your bedroom or living room instantly.

Modern Moroccan pic 2

To see what I mean, visit my Modern Moroccan moodboard, inspired by Agadir, HERE. You’ll find plenty of pix to inspire you, plus a selection of bargain homebuys to get the look for just pounds. In the meantime, here’s a taster of what’s available on the high street right now. Happy shopping!

Moroccan accessories


Above: Tea glasses £17.95 Handpicked Collection; Azami cushion £12.99 Dunelm Mill; Remix Circle Rug £229 WovenGround; Chrome Pendant £35 Littlewoods

From Russia with love

4 Apr

photo (24)

This month, I’ve been writing about something other than cushions…

The word ‘inspirational’ is used too often these days, but it really is the best way to describe my awesome friend Jo. The story of how, when she was just 25, she met and adopted her daughter Marina is amazing, and I’m honoured she’s let me put it in print.

You can read all about it on p.107-108 of the new issue of Red magazine (May edition, Keira Knightley on the cover) which goes on sale today. And if it inspires you enough to make a small donation to The Promise, the charity Jo works for which aims to improve the lives of disabled children in Russia, both she and I would be incredibly grateful. Thank you.

To find out more about The Promise, visit

To find out more about Red, visit

Let’s do lunch!

3 Mar

Dino collection lunch tray £3.49 Dunelm

I know it’s for kids, but how sweet is this Dino Lunch Tray?

In tasteful teal melamine with friendly dinosaurs and four compartments, not only does it look uber cute, but it’s the perfect solution for little dudes (or dudettes) who are a little bit, well, fussy about food. My toddler – nicknamed ‘tapas boy’ – loves it because it keeps all the different  items on his plate separate from each other; and I love it because it encourages him to eat everything up so that he can ‘find’ the dinosaurs hiding underneath his brocolli.

What’s more, it’s just £3.49 from Dunelm Mill ( And if you don’t fancy dinosaurs, you can get it with a jolly robot, fairy or butterfly design instead, here. Is it wrong of me to wish they made them in adult-size too?!

Butterflies lunch tray Dunelm

Guess Who’s doing the drying up?

27 Jan

Guess Who tea towel £7.95

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

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

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

Vote for me (before midnight…!)

26 Jan

vote now uk blog awards

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

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

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

Thank you, thank you, thank you!


Vote for me! (please)

8 Aug

Cosmo Blog-Awards-2013-logo

I’m very excited to announce that I’ve been shortlisted for UK Cosmopolitan magazine’s Blog Awards!

So, firstly, I want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who nominated me. You must have said some very nice things.

Obviously while it’s the taking part that counts, it would be AMAZING if I won an award, so I’m going to ask one more favour. If you enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoy writing it, I would be honoured if you’d spent a minute or so (that’s all it takes) to vote for me.

The online voting form is here:

It’s a long form, but you can just scroll through to get to my section, the ‘Best Interiors Blog sponsored by Next’. Then you just check the box next to ‘The Treasure Hunter’, click through to the end, and press ‘Submit’.

Voting closes on 30th August – I’ll let you know how I get on…


Dip, dip hooray!

2 Aug

Dipped long wooden spoons £3.50 Rose & Grey

Di[[ed wooden stool in petrol £75 Rose and Grey

Simple but effective, the dip-dye trend is big news in designer interiors right now. The lovely people at Rose & Grey ( have introduced a fab blue dipped stool, £75 to their range this Autumn, and sweet dipped wooden spoons, £3.50 each, and salad servers, £7.50 a pair.

The stool, sadly, is a bit out of my price range, but the wooden spoons are just about do-able. However, £3.50 is still quite a lot to shell out for something I’m only going to stir my soup with… so I thought it might be worth having a go at making my own.

The results were… not bad actually. Here’s a quick ‘how-to’ if you want to have a go yourself.

1. Take a wooden spoon (I bought a pack of five different wooden implements from Poundland for, yep, £1)

2. Tie some string around the neck of the spoon

3. Dip the end of the spoon in some paint  (I used some old tins of emulsion from my shed. Tilt the tin to get maximum handle coverage)

4. Use the string to hang the spoon up to dry outside (I hung mine from my washing line, like some weird art installation. You could hang it up inside but it drips quite a bit, so do it over newspaper)

And that’s it! I might try buying a stool from Ikea and dip-dyeing that next…

spoons with string

Nominate me!

24 May

Cosmo Blog-Awards-2013-logo-350

Time to ask a favour…

I LOVE writing this blog, and I hope you love reading it.

If so, I’d be eternally grateful if you’d consider nominating me for a Cosmopolitan Blogger’s Award. It takes under a minute, promise.

The two categories I’m eligible for are either ‘Interiors blog’ or ‘Lifestyle blog’, and the URL for my blog is (don’t forget the ‘uk’ bit in the address!)

You can fill in the nomination form here. You need to click through to the second page to get to the form – there’s a little ‘next page’ button on the bottom left:

Better be quick though – nominations close at midnight on 3rd June.

Thank you!

The Converse-ation

23 Nov

One of my favourite looks (hark at me, sounding all ‘fashion’) for weekends – well, evenings and sometimes work too – is jeans and trusty Converse trainers.

I like the traditional Chuck Taylor Allstars Ox Low Converse trainers, as they’re comfy and go with everything from jeans and shorts to summer dresses; and in my life I’ve worn them in pretty much every colour. I’m currently the proud owner of a purple pair and a bright green pair. I bought the green ones in a kids’ shoe shop, and am always getting asked where they came from.

They’re pretty much the perfect footwear. However, there’s one problem – they’re not exactly waterproof. In fact, they’re rubbish in the rain. I have firsthand experience of this, having worn them in torrential rain on a romantic weekend trip to Paris. I got soaked through to my socks and we spent a very unromantic hour or so trawling the shoe shops of the French capital for a cheap, rain-repelling replacement pair of shoes (note: nothing is cheap in Paris, particularly shoes).

So, I was properly excited when I spotted these little beauties in Office ( the other day. Not only are they a magnificent metallic silver, but they’re made of leather, so will keep my feet toasty and dry when it’s chucking it down outside.

Silver not your style? They come in gold, black, brown, navy and red too. They’re not exactly a bargain at £54.99 (that’s £15 more than the canvas versions) but if you put them on your Christmas list, as I plan to do, then someone else can, ahem, foot the bill!

The Rye stuff

17 Sep

The other week, I went on holiday to the South East coast of England. The beaches were sandy, the food was tasty (fish’n’chips and cream teas – mmmn!) and the weather was as hot and sunny as you’d get abroad.

But what surprised me most were the shops. Hastings in particular is brilliant for bargain hunting – George Street and the surrounding streets are dotted with little gift, bric-a-brac and vintage shops, plus quirky cafes in which to review your purchases. I particularly loved Little Treasures, which is rammed with affordable vintage clothes, shoes and hats – there was even someone doing Forties hair rolls and beehives for customers upstairs.

Nearby Rye is smaller, but Cinque Ports Street has a couple of cheaper antique shops which are great for rummaging in; plus chic vintage shop Hunter Jones and a fantastic 40s/50s/60s/70s emporium called New To You Retro, full of old skool homewares.

I took some photos on my travels (above and below) to give you an idea. Fancy a trip there yourself? Pack your purse!

In for a penny, in for a pound

29 Aug

Every bargain hunter knows pound shops are a fantastic place to go for cheap stationery, gardening bits, kitchen stuff and cleaning kit. I often get bathroom essentials like toothpaste and shampoo there too, but I’d never really looked at the other beauty stuff.
Until Monday in Poundland, that is, when I found myself loading up my basket…

My haul included a cute Japanese wasbag; geisha and Russian doll nail file, tweezer and mirror sets (perfect for Christmas stockings); nail wraps; crackle nail polish; Hello Kitty plasters (more fun than plain ones); enough makeup sponges to last for five years; a Stila makeup compact; some zingy shampoo and conditioner; and a shower gel that looks spooking similar to one made by chic brand Philosophy. And how much did all  this cost? Just £1 per item. Brilliant.

So, next time you’re in the pound shop (or even better, the 99p shop), don’t just make a beeline for the cheap padded envelopes -although  you should definitely buy some of those too, having seen how much the Post Office charges for them – check out the beautiful bargains as well.

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, 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!).

Espresso yourself

8 Jun

Searching for a gift for a coffee lover the other day, I came across these sweet stackable espresso cups from John Lewis (

They’re good quality porcelain, come in a matching presentation/storage box and cost just £12. A perfect little present!

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

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 or £7.99  from I reckon every well-dressed desk should have one.

Welcome gnome

23 May

The other day, I went to Bromley (I know, I lead an exciting life!), and when I arrived at the station, I was nearly mown down by three and a half thousand schoolchildren waving Union Jacks. The reason? It turns out the Queen had been to visit.

Secretly, I was a wee bit gutted I’d missed her, as I’ve had a soft spot for Her Majesty ever since I wrote to her for a school project and she ‘replied’ on fancy embossed paper.

Anyhow, given all this, you’d think I’d  have snapped up all the Royal Diamond Jubilee memorabilia that’s around at the moment. But actually, I’ve been quite restrained. A lot of it is OTT on the Union Jack front and it all looks a bit same-y.

You see, I like my souvenirs to be classy, elegant, understated and unusual – like these Royal gnomes, above (well, one out of four isn’t bad…!). Yep, following the success of last year’s Royal Wedding gnomes, B&Q have created these jolly little people to rule over your flowerbeds. They’re £12.98 each or £20 a pair and unbelievably, they’re so popular they’re likely to be a sell-out. Bonkers.

On a slightly more serious note, I do love the stylish square Jubilee biscuit tins from M&S, below – they’re a great size and the biccies inside are top notch. Tins always age well, and they’ll look pretty on a shelf for years to come.

If you’ve got children, take them to one of B&Q’s special Jubilee craft workshops while you’re picking up your gnomes. Over 50 stores are running free kids’ classes  for 7-11 year olds on 2nd and 3rd May, where they’ll learn to make little wooden boats in honour of the Thames River pageant. Cute! Visit for details.

Milky Milky

18 May

There’s something really pleasing about old skool glass milk bottles. Part of the appeal, for those of us who grew up with a milk round, is pure nostalgia; and part of it is that they just look so chic. A row of bottles with a single bloom in each is a look that’s almost impossible to get wrong (and it’s cheap, too).

If you haven’t got any old bottles in your shed, try boot sales, junk shops and antique stores. Then again, you could just cheat…

One of my favourite online shops, sell cute traditional mini milk bottles (below), for £2.95 each, or a crate of six for £8.94. For something that really does look like a genuine antique, go for a vintage milk bottle from Pedlars (, £7.95. Or, you can opt for a Pintie jug (bottom), made from real bottles sourced from across the UK – they cost £16.99-19.99 from

Finally, I’m just a little bit in love with this quirky double-headed Milkii jug, £30, from (top of the page). It would look fantastic on any breakfast table.

Cute as a button

16 May

Since writing my recent post about chocolate button moulds, I’ve stumbled across bajillions of (well, ok, a few) other fab button-shaped items to share with you.

First up are these classy ceramic buttons, above, by the very lovely interiors stylist, Marie Nichols, who’s just opened a new online store,, selling these and other gorgeous bits and bobs. They come in four different designs and cost a reasonable £13.50-15.50 each. They work well as ornaments on their own; or a trio would look amazing mounted on a strong coloured wall. Oh, and if you like Marie’s style, check out her brilliant blog at

I’m also loving these fun little button-shaped pastel soaps from, £5.50 for a bumper pack of 23; and button-shaped Belle de Sucre sugar cubes from John Lewis, £7 per box (both below). They’re almost too cute to use.

Finally, for a few pence, you could try your hand at making some button-shaped biscuits (bottom). They’re easy to make but look super cool. You can find the recipe and instructions at

It uses American measures for the cookie mix, but your own shortbread or biscuit recipe would work just as well. Box some up as a gift, thread them with ribbon to use as Christmas/Easter decorations, or just arrange on a plate and watch your friends look seriously impressed (before wolfing the lot).

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 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!


10 May

Well done to the winners of my two recent competitions:

Betty Amazing wins the lovely teal ‘Secret Garden’ cafetiere from La Cafetiere.

Chrissy Shorrocks wins the set of four designer Method handwashes.

Watch out for more competitions and giveaways soon!

You’re booked!

30 Apr

There’s something incredibly pleasing about these bookplates by Mac and Ninny from

Each pack contains 12 “From the library of” stickers in a slightly Scandi/slightly retro design (I like the bees, cupcakes, and owl best) as well as a little library card to record who you’ve lent your books to. They cost £4.95 per pack and would make a lovely, easy-to-post pressie for any bookworms in your life.

And if you’re giving someone a book? The site also sells a sweet kit, £4, containing a bookplate for you to write a message on and stick inside the book, plus wrapping paper, a gift tag and sealing stickers, all in a fun ladybird design. Great for making your literary gift look extra special.

Darn it!

27 Apr

A moth/nail/small child/friend’s ciggie has made a hole in your favourite top – what do you do? You need a tin of Clothes Plasters!
Designed by artist Jennie Maizels (, they’re beautifully embroidered patches, which you can iron on over a hole to hide it; or just use to decorate your clothes with.

They come in either individual packs, or four cute themed tins – choose from ‘Rock’ (red lips, skull, guitar, flaming dice etc); ‘Blue’ (robot, dinosaur, pirate, etc); ‘Pink’ (babushka, cat, star, cupcake, etc); or my favourite, ‘Birds’ (hummingbird, bluetit, parrot, black swan, etc)

They’re £3.50 for a pair or £9.99 for a tin of ten, with different designs available from or or

WIN! Last chance to enter…

26 Apr

Tomorrow is the closing date for my competition to win a designer cafetiere. Fancy trying your luck? View the post from 10th April for how to enter.

You’ve also got until tomorrow to enter the draw to win a set of four fancy handwashes – simply email me at with your name, address and why you think you should win.

Good luck!

Stick your necklace out

18 Apr

When  it comes to jewellery, I love chunky, quirky, statement pieces. The only downside is they’re either really expensive, or from TopShop, in which case everyone else has them too. So, I was really excited to discover the brilliant designs at

This huge online store brings together products from 400  individual designers, museum shops and galleries, with a proportion of proceeds going to help fund the arts.

Now, I could big up some of the fab homewares and prints on offer, but what stands out most for me is the jewellery. Yes, you can spend a fortune on some pieces, but there’s also lots of choice under £30.

My favourites? The gold Carre chains £30, by Ridley & Dowse (above); the silhouette crocodile ring, £5.99, by The Saatchi Gallery (available in other colours and animals such as a rabbit, fox, cat, etc); Hand knitted Eagle necklace, £25, by A.Alicia (also in peach, sky blue and grey); Black Cube earrings, £10 by Welcome Home x Ocular; the Silver Plated Pewter Key necklaces, £13.50 by nonesuchthings; and the cute snail brooch, £10, by PebetaTeta (also available in a mirror finish). Perfect for pressies or as a treat for yourself.


I wanna hold your handwash

16 Apr
Last weekend, while staying at my parents’ house, I noticed a fancy handwash by their sink. It was a pretty turquioise colour, had a fab teardrop-shaped bottle, and smelt lovely. I expected it to be some expensive beauty brand, so I was pleasantly surprised to find it cost just £2.49.
Turns out it’s one of a range of gel handwashes from eco-friendly company Method. There are five fresh scents/colours available, including pink grapefruit, cucumber and lavender; and they all contain skin-kind natural cleansers. It makes a nice change from all the antibacterial skin-stripping handwashes that are around at the moment. Oh, and the bottles (which were created by top product designer Karim Rashid) are recyclable too. You can (ahem) get your hands on one  in Sainsburys, Tesco, Superdrug, John Lewis, Homebase, Waitrose or at And if you like them on Facebook ( apparently they’ve got some treats coming up in the near future.
WIN! Talking of treats, I have a set of all four Method fragrances to give away. Just email me at with your name and a line about why you deserve to win. Oh, and include the address I should send them to if you get lucky!
PS: And while we’re on the subject of handwashes, I’m also planning to buy a bottle of Helping Hand Wash by Trilogy, £13.50 for 300ml. It’s not a bargain, but that’s the point – 100% of the profits go to the Child’s i Foundation (, which is helping to stop child abandonment in Uganda.
Packaged in a pretty brown and teal glass pump-action bottle, it smells amazing, as it’s made with frankincense, rose geranium and lavender oils.
It’s available from or larger John Lewis, Boots or House of Fraser stores. As it’s sold out once already, and this is a new batch, if you want one you’d better get your grubby mitts on it quick!

Bucket list

13 Apr

At this time of year, garden experts say that a hanging basket is the quickest  way to inject some Spring colour into your garden or terrace.

In theory, they’re right, but unless you buy one ready-made, hanging baskets are actually a bit of a faff. You have to fanny around lining them; then there’s the dilemma of choosing which plants to put in them that’ll grow downwards and cover the ugly basket. Also (and maybe it’s just me), while they’re fine outside pubs and restaurants, DIY home efforts often just look a bit naff.

Now there’s another option. New at B&Q ( this month are these fab bright Blooma hanging buckets. Simply pop a single potted plant in them (African Violets, Primroses or Geraniums look fab, as do Gerberas and Ranunculus) and they’re ready to go. No lining, compost or flower arranging skills required. Available in lime, pink, blue or turquoise, they cost just  £4.98.

What a bloomin’ bargain!

A lot on your plate

11 Apr

Whether you buy just one for a very lucky child, or several for a grown up’s picnic, these brilliant, bright, kitsch 1950s/60s-inspired melamine plates by Swedish designer Ingela P Arrenius will go down a treat. There are nine designs and they’re £6.50 each at or £7.95 each at

Love her designs? You can also buy posters that complement the plates for £18.95 and an amazing set of six wooden matryoshka-style wooden nesting animals for £19.95, both at; plus gorgeous ready-to-hang canvases (below) £46 each at

WIN! A designer cafetiere

10 Apr

The bank holiday is over, so here’s something to cheer you up! Back on 21st March, I featured some gorgeous new designer La Cafetière coffee presses – well, now, thanks to the lovely people at La Cafetière, I have one of the classy Secret Garden models, worth £31.95 to give away!

With a teal metallic sleeve, decorated with laser cut birds and branches, it can make up to eight cups of coffee at a time, and comes in a matching gift box. It’d make a great wedding or birthday present for a coffee fan – if you can bear to part with it, that is!

The lucky winner will be chosen at random from all subscribers on Friday 27th April. So, to be in with a chance of winning this lovely prize, simply subscribe to this blog by clicking on the “Subscribe” box to the right, and then clicking again on the link in the confirmation email you’re sent.
If you’re already a subscriber (thank you!) you don’t have to do anything at all – you’ll automatically be entered in the draw.

PS: Can’t wait for the closing date? You can buy La Cafetiere presses, from £14, at or

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 ( 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 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 ( 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 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 (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

Wanna come back for coffee?

21 Mar

Cafetières are like computers (bear with me here). They traditionally only come in boring black or silver. But just as Apple broke the mould with their brightly-coloured iMac (I had a green one – I LOVED it), tea and coffee company La Cafetière have designed some gorgeous bright new coffee presses. Okay, I know that’s a bit of a tenuous link, but still, I don’t understand why such an essential bit of kitchen kit has escaped designers until now.

Anyhow, my favourite model is the new Secret Garden cafetière, designed by artist Alison Appleton, which has a teal stainless steel sleeve with laser cut birds and branches on it. It holds up to eight cups of coffee, comes in a classy matching box and would make a great present (particularly for a wedding) – if you can bear to part with it, that is.

It’s part of a bigger collection of similarly gorgeous metallic designs, below.

Fancy something a bit brighter (and a wee bit cheaper)? La Cafetière’s Rainbow range, from £14, includes  jolly tomato red and zingy apple green models; plus two new limited edition colours – tangerine orange (2012’s “it” shade according to the experts at Pantone) and for all you fans of purple kitchen accessories, a lovely candy lilac. Tasty!

They’re all available at Amazon ( and or call 01352 717 555 for other stockists.

Say it with flowers

14 Mar

Busy, bright blooms are huge news fashion-wise at the moment, but if full-on florals are a bit too bold for you, you can dip your toe in the trend (literally) with this gorgeous new range of sneakers from Clarks (instore and at

A collaboration with Liberty, the new ‘Jilli’ shoes are made with a beautiful retro floral print from the iconic London department store’s fabric archives.

Available in a navy or a cream colourway, there’s a pair of low-rise pumps, £39.99, and a cool pair of high top ‘sports shoes’, £44.99. They’d both look great with everything from jeans and leggings to minis, maxi skirts and dresses. And as they’re made by Clarks, you know they’ll be built to last.

With all sizes from 3-8 currently in stock, I’d, ahem, hot foot it to a shop now, as they’re bound to sell out!

Bedside Babushka

9 Mar

The perfect bedside water glass is tricky to find. Do you go for something squat and chunky so that you don’t knock it over when you’re flailing around in the dark? Or do you go for the largest glass you can find for those nights when you fall into bed plastered and wake up with a mouth drier than stale Weetabix?

Actually, my granny had it just right – she had a bedside carafe with an upside-down glass as the lid. It meant she could keep a decent amount of water on hand and just pour what she needed.

That’s why this Drinkup Carafe, £16.99 from, in the shape of a friendly Russian Babushka doll, is so brilliant. Made of glass, it looks great, is stable enough to withstand the odd knock, and the doll’s body holds enough liquid that you’ll never go dry-mouthed in the small hours ever again.

But if the Babushka is too girly for you, check out the French carafe and glasses, £19.99 (bottom), and the Dopper  bottle, £11.99 (below), both from

The carafe is modelled on an old French design (the glasses cunningly stack in the neck of the bottle); while if you unscrew the top bit of the Dopper, you can drink straight from the bottle; or if you unscrew it further down, the top turns into a drinking glass. It’s made of Eco-friendly plastic and you can even put it in the dishwasher.

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