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.

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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.

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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

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!





Never judge a book by its cover

9 Oct


Spot anything unusual about the bookshelf above? No? Then read on…

Last week, I spent an entire evening hunting for my driver’s licence. I eventually found it down the back of a drawer. This isn’t unusual – in fact, I regularly spend hours looking for important things such as passports, credit cards, etc. Thing is, I don’t like putting vital documents in easy-to-find places, in case someone found them who shouldn’t.

So, I was thrilled to find a way to a) stop losing things; b) keep important stuff safe; and c) finally SORT MY LIFE OUT.

The answer? A secret book storage box, from new online gift and homes boutique, Flitty Bird (www.flittybird.co.uk). From the outside, it looks like, well, a book. But open it up and it’s a sturdy MDF box with magnetic closure, that stores all those vital bits and bobs while keeping them safe from prying eyes. Genius, eh?

book box shut

There are three designs to choose from, and they cost a really reasonable £12 each (or £30 for a set of three):


If you want to get one of your own, you might fancy a browse at the other stuff available on the site too. There are some lovely gifts and homewares, including this handy Bloomingville basket £19.99; Grumpy Bear china drawer knob £17 (expensive but SO cute); set of eight Omm design matchboxes £8.99; a clever QR code cushion £19.99; and these fun ‘Yours/Mine/Guests’ hooks, £7.99 each (bottom)…

bloomingville_basket_with_handle flittybird

bloomingville_hooks_3 flittybird


Raise your glasses

7 Oct


Why have boring clear wine glasses when you could have these lovely coloured vintage ones instead?

With a pleasingly chunky stem (so you’re less likely to snap them while washing up!) they come in a mix of dusky pastel shades – purple, teal, pink and grey.

A set of four costs £39.50 from Marks & Spencer (www.marksandspencer.com), and you can get matching vintage tumblers (for £35) too. Bottoms up!


Vintage Inspired Wine Glasses £39.50 for four Marks and Spencer

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 Etsy.com/uk; Teapot £21.95 Zazzle.co.uk

Below: Chevron lampshades £2.99 each The Range (www.therange.co.uk)…

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 (www.ltmuseumshop.co.uk)

Mind the Gap Tray £19.99 ltmuseumshop.co.uk


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

Eileen Rug £70.95 Joss & Main

Below: Sabichi Herringbone throws (in plum or grey) £15 each, Very.co.uk



A proper cuppa

30 Sep

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

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

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


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

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

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



25% off at Habitat? Yes please!

24 Sep


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

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

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


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



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


A sticky subject

19 Sep

Taxi Finished taxi on wall

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

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

Now for sticking it to the wall…

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

Taxi unrolled

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

Taxi placing on wall


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

Taxi taking off backing paper


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

Taxi smoothing onto wall


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

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

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

Down to the wire

17 Sep

Oliver Bonas wire furniture lifestyle shot

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

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


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

Orange Iron Storage Shelf £60 Oliver Bonas NEW SEASON


Sounds amazing

15 Sep

photo (54)

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

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

photo 2 (5)

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


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

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



Good as gold

11 Sep

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

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

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

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

original_gold-geometric-necklace £25



Bathroom on a budget

9 Sep

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 (www.bathroomheaven.com), who, it turns out, are happy to match almost any other quote.

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

Colorcheck: Elin

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


photo 4 (2)

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

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

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

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!


Bin somewhere nice?

3 Sep


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.



Life’s a beach

29 Aug

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

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

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

photo 2

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

photo 5

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

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

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




On reflection

27 Aug

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

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

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

ikea-ps--table-mirror £15


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

19 Aug

old door number

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

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

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

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

acrylic cut out number

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

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

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

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


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

round acrylic number


Make a date

7 Aug


kikkerland calendar box on its own

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

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

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

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

Kikkerland calendar box with hand

Sofabed so good

5 Aug


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

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

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

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


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


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

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





Nice and pen tidy

31 Jul

desk tidy

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

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

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

Sam's DIY pen pot

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

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

Hop 2 School Pencil Pot £2 each Tesco

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

Pencil Sharpener Desk Tidy £15 suck.uk.com

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


Get the look: Sweet Shop Shades

28 Jul

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


Above: Me, working my (ahem) magic!

Everything must go!

24 Jul

Sandcastle bowls on sale at Hunkydoryhome

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

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

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

night owl tea towel from hunkydoryhome

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

Race you to the checkout!

Great Scot!

22 Jul

photo 2 (3)

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

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

photo 1 (3)

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

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

Gillian Kyle coasters

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

Creamola mug gillian kyle

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

Fish and chips apron from Gillian Kyle

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

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


Anyone for tennis?

27 Jun

Dunlop Green Flash trainers (pair) £29.99 Shuperb.co.uk

Forget the football. With Wimbledon now in full swing, this week and next week it’s all about tennis.

To celebrate, I’m seriously considering treating myself to a pair of the greatest old skool tennis shoes every created, Dunlop Green Flash. I used to have an amazing pair of my mum’s, which had survived since the Sixties, but sadly I wore them to death. Hard to get hold of these days, you can still buy them from Shuperb.co.uk for a very reasonable £29.99, here.

More original than the flood of Nikes and Converse everyone else is wearing, they’re incredibly comfy and hardwearing; go well with skirts, shorts or jeans; and suit pretty much everyone.

Still feeling inspired? Why not put your pre/post-match Pimm’s in one of these cute strawberry glasses, just £3 for four from Asda; sit down on a traditional check blanket throw, £15 from Sainsbury’s; and dry yourself off after a dip in the pool with an official Wimbledon championships towel, £29 from the tournament shop, www.shop.wimbledon.com

Wimbledon kit

And if you’re lucky enough to get to the tournament yourself, avoid the queues at the over-priced Wimbledon restaurants and settle down on Henman Hill (or is it now called Murray Mound?!) with a picnic carried in a proper hamper. Most wicker hampers cost well over £50, but this little beauty is just £29.99 from Asda, and has plenty of room for a four-person feast:

4 person picnic hamper £29.99 George at Asda




Lolly good fun

26 Jun

Ice Lolly LIghts £21 berryred.co.uk

I’m a sucker for novelty lighting, and these mega cute ice lolly fairy lights, £21, from BerryRed.co.uk have got the competition licked!

They look almost good enough to eat and, puns aside, are perfect for summer parties, either indoors or out.

Ice Lolly LIghts £21 berryred.co.uk A

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

Football crazy

12 Jun


Table football game £12 Matalan

In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s some kind of big football competition starting today…

And as a result, it seems you can’t move for World Cup-themed stuff in the shops at the moment. However most of it is either pretty tacky or unlikely to have a place in your heart/home for much longer than the four weeks of the tournament.

I’m not a huge footie fan, but I do live with two boys (one big, one small) who are. So, in the spirit of fair play and all that, here’s my pick of the best football-inspired bounty out there.

Top: Table football game £12 Matalan

 Below: Football line lights £10 Next; Subbuteo bottle opener £11.95 Red5.co.uk (if you’re quick, you can get 10% off everything at Red5 by using discount code RED5WC14 at the online checkout before midnight tomorrow, 13th June)

football fairy lights and subbuteo bottle opener

Below: Football pitch rug £9 Asda

football pitch rug - £9 Asda

Below: Chawaii Brazil flip flops £19.99 Crocs (other nation designs available); Wooden supporters rattle £3 Matalan; Adidas Brazuca Top Size 5 Football £14.99 Argos

Chawaii Brazil Flip Flops £19.99 crocs.co.uk

Below: Finally, I love these cute kids t-shirts for ages 3-16 (£80£13) from Next. Surprisingly tasteful, choose from England, USA, Australia, Netherlands, Italy, Brazil or Spain. I want one of the blue Italy versions in adult size!



Bathing beauties

29 May


Marks and Spencer sand resist cotton towel in pink £20

I know, I know, it’s chucking it down with rain outside, but in my opinion that’s all the more reason to start thinking about the holidays.

And having packed my suitcase with the same old trusty towels for years, I think it’s time I upgraded. There are some brilliant bright beach towels in the shops at the moment – Debenhams in particular has some really great designs – but I’ve decided I’m going hi-tech, with Marks and Spencer‘s new ‘sand-resist’ versions.

Yep, science bods at M&S have created a special weave on the back of the towels that stops sand sticking between the stitching loops. So, not only will you avoid getting annoying gritty bits stuck to your suncreamed thighs; but when you pack up at the end of a hard day’s lounging, you’ll leave the sand where it belongs – on the beach – rather than in your bag.

What’s more, they’ve managed all this without resorting to scratchy man-made fibres or an extortionate price-tag – the towels are 100% cotton, a generous 100x180cm, and cost a reasonable £20 each.

In a choice of two rather fetching Missoni-esque striped patterns, I reckon they’re the smart sunbather’s choice this year.

Blooming lovely!

21 May

Dunelm Mill floral cushions

This week, London plays host to the Chelsea Flower Show. My dad’s a botanist, and so I was lucky to visit the show several times as a kid. I always loved walking round the imaginative gardens packed with every plant under the sun, and tents full of amazing arrangements.

So I’m loving the current trend – in both fashion and homewares – for fabulous florals. Forget girly, ditzy prints, it’s all about beautiful, blowsy blooms in bright, bold hues.

Adding florals is a great, cheap way to inject a bit of fun into your home – a couple of colourful cushions like those from Dunelm Mill above (L-R: Meadow Breeze, Florale, Gigli, all a bargainous £9.99 each) will look stunning against white bedlinen or on a plain sofa. Use them to make a statement on their own, or jazz things up further by adding unpatterned accent cushions or throws in contrasting shades.

Next have got a great selection of florals this season (L-R: Bold Chrysanthemum rug, from £70; Raspberry felt flower cushion £14; Square felt flower cushion £14; Elegant Hydrangea rug, from £95)…

Next rugs and cushions with flowers


…Then there’s the folk floral trend, which works brilliantly in the kitchen (L-R: Carolyn Donnelly Eclectic Flower Teapot £17 Dunnes Stores; Floral storage tins £6.99 each, Mollie & Fred)…

Gypsy folk floral homewares…and I LOVE these Japanese print Esmie handbound A6 notebooks, £13 each, from Berry Red:

Esmie handbound A6 notebooks £13 Berryred.co.uk


You can get floral bedlinen too (below right: Meadow Breeze duvet set, from £11, Dunelm Mill); and even plastic outdoor picnicware (below centre and left: At Home With Ashley Thomas melamine plates and plastic hi-ball glasses, both £16 for four, Debenhams):

Delicate floral homewares

Plus there are all kinds of other fun bits and bobs to be found – I like this amazing-smelling Cherry Blossom Handcream (£6.50, Pierrot et Coco); these Rose fairy lights (£12, Cargo Homeshop) and crazy Floral Sunglasses (£1.99, Home Bargains, also available in other colours):

Girly florals

Finally, why not go the whole hog and dress in florals too? I’m particularly lusting after these fab basketball shoes – cheaper than Converse and just as wearable for summertime (L-R: Floral t-shirt £24, Next; George at Asda Statement flower necklace £12 coming soon at Asda.com; Canvas basketball shoes £20, Next: Dalton Sunflower Shift Dress £24.99, Daisy Street, also available in orange/green; Floral Mac £28, Next):

Floral fashion from Next DaisyStreet and George at Asda


Hang on a minute…

15 May


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.


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!


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?!



Not so big Mac

8 May

mini faux macbok on a book

Looking for a present for a friend the other day, I came across these diddy faux MacBook Air mirrors.

Faithful copies of real Mac laptops, they’re actually tiny, cute cosmetic mirrors in disguise – perfect for popping in your bag or pocket and posing with when you need to check your makeup/check you haven’t got spinach in your teeth(!)

mini faux macbook air

I reckon they’d make the perfect gift for the techie, writer or designer in your life who seems to have everything.

Get yours from Amazon.co.uk – search under “MacBook Air mirror”. Available in white or silver grey, they’ll set you back £5.55 – £9.95 depending on the seller you buy from.

little macbook and big macbook

What have we got ear?

7 Apr

Steiff easter bunny ear set

With Easter just a couple of weeks’ away (and trouser buttons across the country already quaking at the prospect of all that chocolate), I thought I’d share something with you that’s calorie-free, suitable for both big and little kids alike, and that’s very, very sweet.

Yep, when I saw this set of two Rabbit Ears – one for grown-ups and one for babies/toddlers – I couldn’t resist. It’s designed by mega posh teddy bear firm Steiff, and carries their trademark gold button and branded ribbon. Surprisingly, it costs just £12.50 (most of their stuff is waaaaaaaaaaaaaay more expensive), comes in a fancy box, and I reckon it’d make a fab Easter or pre-Easter pressie for anyone who has a little ‘un, or who – whisper it – doesn’t like chocolate.

Want a set of your own? Better visit http://www.steiff.com and hop to it before they run out!

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 http://www.thepromise.org.uk

To find out more about Red, visit http://www.redonline.co.uk

Having a ball

2 Apr

Hanging Cluster 1000

How much fun are these beach ball lights? Far more exciting than your usual paper-style lantern, these are made from strong PVC with an airtight LED lighting compartment. Created by the former Head of Store Design at Habitat, they come flatpacked so that you can blow them up with a vacuum cleaner to get that firm, bouncy look:

Beach ball lights kids bedroom

Aimed at cool kids’ rooms, they look equally quirky in a more adult setting. Pop one in your downstairs loo, or hang a row somewhere unexpected, like the kitchen:

Interior Shot Beach Balls HIGH 2.7mb


Available in pendant and floor/tabletop versions, they’re not exactly a bargain at £90 each, but they will look fantastic, get you lots of admiring comments, and remind you of summer all year long.

Get yours at beachballlights.com




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 (www.dunelm-mill.com). 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

Animal magic

27 Feb

Abode by Magpie tins

British brand Magpie (www.magpieline.com) make some lovely things – from their gift-worthy mugs with different letters of the alphabet on, through to their cushions and tableware with 1950s-inspired bird prints. So I was really excited to see their new range – Abode – featuring four little animals in their natural habitats.

Inspired by geometric patterns as well as African and Scandinavian design, they’re fun, quirky and totally covetable.

Top of my wishlist is the handy set of three tins, £16, above. They’d work equally well in a home office or bedroom as they would in the kitchen. Get them here.

Other items in the range include these sets of two tea towels (£12 for a pair)…

Deer and mouse tea towels Abode by Magpie

…and the individual boxed mugs, which would make great gifts, £8.50 each…

Deer and woods mug Abode by Magpie

… plus a gorgeous boxed espresso set (a perfect wedding gift, £22.50)…

Abode by Magpie espresso set

…and set of four side plates, £20, which you could mix with white tableware:

Set of four side plates Abode by Magpie

PS: keep an eye out too for the fab placemats (£20 for four) and coasters (£10 for four) which are coming soon.

Well planner-ed

24 Feb

lollipop designs wall planner

Last month, the talented Christine at Sew Yeah blog wrote an entry about wall planners. You can read it here.

Well, I’ve finally gotten round to sorting out the pile of papers that is my desk, and to celebrate, I’ve invested in one of her suggestions, the 2014 Wall Year Planner, £14, from Lollipop Designs (www.lollipopdesigns.co.uk).

I love the funky typography, the constellation background and the muted pastel colours and think it looks very smart indeed at the side of my desk…

photo (18)

What’s more, I’m hopeful it’s going to keep me incredibly organised for the next 12 months (admittedly, this is asking a lot).

Fancy getting your life in order too? You can buy one of your own  here. And while you’re there, I’d recommend taking a gander at the cute origami notelets, sweet sticky labels and fun parcel tape too (pictured below). I dare you to leave the site empty handed!

self adhesive labels animals

Nesting instinct

21 Feb

Retro nest of tables Debenhams and Dunelm

Can you tell the difference between the two lovely nests of tables above? Nope, nor can I! The pictures are almost identical.

However… the one of the left – the Saturn nest of tables in American oak – costs £275 from Debenhams; and the one on the right – the Skandi oak lamp tables – costs £119.99 from Dunelm Mill. That’s a huge price difference.

I’ve always had a soft spot for retro or mid-century modern style furniture, so these little beauties are high up on my wishlist. I love the way they sit snugly together, and are just the right size for a cup of tea and a lamp/vase/whatever book you’re reading at the moment.

What’s more, if Debenhams and Dunelm sell out, it’s possible to buy a spookily similar-looking set – the Revival nest of tables – for £149 from John Lewis

John Lewis revival nest of tables £149

…and the Hygena Emmett nest of tables in oak veneer for £99.99 from Homebase

Hygena Emmett nest of tables oak veneer £99.99 Homebase

…or even get the same nest but in darker Walnut wood, £119.99 again, from our friends Dunelm Mill (below). Choices, choices!

Skandi walnut nest of tables £119.99 Dunelm Mill

From catwalk to couch…

19 Feb

Leica S

It’s my favourite time of year – when all the shops start stocking up with their new Spring/Summer ranges.

And this year, more than ever before, the high street has taken its cue from the catwalk when it comes to deciding what looks the best-dressed homes are going to wear.

For 2014, the biggest trends are… Punchy Pastels (think brighter, candy colours rather than paler hues); Monochrome (with a pop of yellow, red or neon to give a bit more oomph – see Marks and Spencer’s new range, above); Metallics (including bronze, which is huge this year – see House of Fraser’s new range, below); Modern Romance (dusky pinks and lace); Global fusion (a melting pot of tribal patterns and ethnic-inspired nick-nacks); and Playful Prints such as cats, parrots and even goldfish.

PRECIOUS METALS LIFESTYLE SHOT bedstead, side table and all accessories Biba at House of Fraser 1

To find out more, read my guest post on the subject at the fabulous Wear and Where blog here – or buy the March issue of Glamour magazine (UK edition) which is on sale right now until the end of the month. Here’s a sneak peek:

photo (19)

Wood you believe it?!

12 Feb

wooden posters from Graham and Green

How brilliant are these new wooden posters? Forget paper or canvas; these fun animal sketches are screen printed onto flat sheets of birch wood, ready to hang or prop up casually on a shelf.

At roughly 30x42cm in size, they look incredibly arty and worth far more than their very reasonable £22 (each) price tag. They’re available from chic homeware store Graham and Green (www.grahamandgreen.co.uk) and there are several designs to choose from, including the flamingo, bear, polar bear, tiger and deer, above; plus my favourite, this bow-tied panda…

panda wooden poster graham and green…and the fantastically-named ‘Party Rhino”…

party rhino wooden poster graham and green…as well as a penguin in a very natty pom pom scarf:

penguin wooden poster graham and greenI think printing onto wood like this is a tree-mendous idea, so I fully intend to, ahem, branch out from my usual paper posters and invest in one (some are already available; other designs will be up any moment now – you can put your name down online to be notified as to when they go on sale).

Money can’t buy me love… but it can buy these!

6 Feb

Tesco Valentines I Want to Hold Your Hand Cushion, £6.00

Love a bit of romance, but hate the huge waves of tacky, cheesy, chintzy Valentine’s products that flood the shops at this time of year?

Me too.

So, this year, I’ve tried to hunt down a selection of Valentine’s gift ideas that are fun, cheeky and even – heaven forbid – actually stylish. Enjoy!

Top: I wanna hold your hand cushion £6 (what a bargain!), Tesco Direct (click HERE)

Valentines mug and earrings

Above: Paul Thurlby for Wild and Wolf mugs £14.95 for the pair, Bloomsburystore.com; Pixel heart earring studs £4.50, PunkyPins.co.uk

Valentines tea towels and tote bag

Above: I love you more than chocolate tea towel £11, lilyandlime.co.uk; Lovely tote bag £12, Hunkydoryhome.co.uk; Me & You tea towel £5, Marks & Spencer (www.marksandspencer.com)

Valentines sweets and chocolates

Above: Love Letter chocolates £10 Marks & Spencer; Marshmallow hearts in a giant jar £16 John Lewis (www.johnlewis.com); Sweet hearts £2 Marks & Spencer; I love you lolly £2 John Lewis

Heart shaped hole punch £x Suck UK

Above: Heart hole punch £10 Suck.uk.com

Valentines little gifts

Above: Scrabble tile magnet set £4.50 ellieellie.co.uk; Missing puzzle piece keyring £10.99, thegreatgiftcompany.co.uk; Heart ring £6.99, accessoryo.com

Valentines tea mitt and roses

Above: Grow your own scented roses £4, John Lewis; Personalised tea tin £9.99, gettingpersonal.co.uk; Love and cake oven mitt £14, onebrowncow.co.uk

Cabin fever

29 Jan


It’s cold, wet and frankly disgusting weather outside at the moment, so when it comes to decorating your living room, you need a cosy, comfy warm-feeling space you can curl up in and hibernate (but that will still look fresh and stylish in the summertime too).

This was the brief I stuck to when I created the above living room scheme which appeared in Notebook magazine (the very excellent supplement that comes with the Sunday Mirror) last  weekend.

It’s themed around the stunning Nasturtium fabric from designer Julia at Winter’s Moon (visit her website here)…

Made in Britain-Cameo-05_RT cushion close up

Purple, blue and bright orange might seem odd colours to throw together, but they work brilliantly well, adding zing and life to neutral walls and furniture. Using the lovely cushions and lampshade from Julia’s range as a starting point, I used other accessories to pick up the colour theme, including purple curtains, accent cushions and a radio; and orange flowers, accent cushions and a throw to transform the armchair:

Cosy Contemporary Made in Britain ARMCHAIRI also can’t resist a feature wall, so I faked a log cabin look with wood panel effect wallpaper. And as this look is all about bringing the outside in, I added some nods to nature with a fun foxy cushion, a basket of real logs, a stag’s head wall hanging, and a ‘nest’ print from one of my favourite design teams, Bold & Noble:

Cosy Contemporary Made in Britain CUSHIONS

Cosy Contemporary Made in Britain SIDEBOARD SCENE

I’m really pleased with the way it all turned out, and what’s more, everything used in the shoot, from the furniture, wallpaper and curtains to the log basket, rug and teapot on the table was made in the UK.


Want to recreate this look? Here’s where to buy everything you see in the room (plus, if you scroll down, I’ve got some suggestions for cheaper versions of some products for those of you on a tight budget!):

Cocktail 4-seater sofa, £1598, Cocktail accent chair, £898, and Cavendish furniture, from £149, all DFS (dfs.co.uk). Polycotton rib pencil pleat Curtains in cassis, from £50, Roberts Revival radio in ‘cassis’, £159.95 and Scion Mr Fox cushion £40, all John Lewis (johnlewis.co.uk). Windowpane check pure new wool throw in tangy orange, £40, woolblanketonline.comLarge square Nasturtium floral cushion, £56, Rectangular Nasturtium cushion, £48 and Bell bottom table lamp in orange with Nasturtium shade, £134, all Winter’s Moon (wintersmoon.co.uk). Large vase, Sophie Conran for Portmeirion, £41.60, Portmeirion (portmeirion.co.uk). Purple and orange ‘Soho’ cushions, £26 each, Heal’s (heals.co.uk). Handknitted teal throw, £160 and Oval basket shopper, £52 both Make The Most Of (makethemostof.co.uk). Sisal rug, £385.70 Crucial Trading (crucialtrading.co.uk). Heather teapot, £58 and mugs, £10.50 each, Denby (denby.co.uk). Circular slate cheeseboard (used as tray), £16, Grey and Echo (folksy.com/shops/greyandecho). Round slate coasters, £22 for four, Just Slate (justslate.co.uk). ‘Nest’ print, £43, Bold & Noble (boldandnoble.co.uk). Cardboard stag’s head, £15, Oh Bother Design (etsy.com/uk/shop/OhBotherDesign). Artichoke candle holders (used as bookends), £24 each and Cream serving dish with yellow rim, £18, all Velvet Dash (velvet-dash.com). Timber wallpaper in ‘limed’, £69.90 per wide roll, Andrew Martin (andrewmartin.co.uk)


cosy cabin get the look for cheaper

[Above, left to right, top to bottom] Tuscany sideboard £149 Very.co.uk. Spectrum DABFM Digital Radio £29.95 John Lewis (johnlewis.co.uk). Fox cushion £28, Howkapow.comThe Hamptons chunky knit throw  £18.39 Dunelm Mill (dunelm-mill.com). Chenille cushion £8 BHS (bhs.co.uk). Jute natural rug from £35 Next (next.co.uk). Retro ceramic lamp £14 Wilko (wilko.com). Oslo nest of two tables £49 Isme.comPurple teapot £6.48 kitchenhomeware.co.uk. You’ll also find great wood panel wallpaper for around £20 a roll at B&Q (diy.com) and Wallpaperdirect.co.uk.

Guess Who’s doing the drying up?

27 Jan

Guess Who tea towel £7.95 prezzybox.com

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 Prezzybox.com, 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!


Who you gonna call? Dustbusters!

16 Jan

Dyson DC59 with pole upright

The problem with most vacuum cleaners is that they’re bulky, heavy… and if like me you store them under the stairs, they involve a lot of faffing about before you get anywhere near the dust you’re trying to bust.

And handheld ones aren’t much better. While they’re lighter, smaller and more portable than ones with cords; they have such a feeble amount of suction you often end up getting the bigger model out of the cupboard anyhow.

At least, that’s what I thought, until I was asked to test out ten of the newest vacuum cleaners for a newspaper recently (read about it here). One of the models I borrowed to test was the Dyson DC59 Animal – a handheld vac that claims to be as powerful as a Formula One racing car, with as much suction as a ‘normal’ other-brand vacuum cleaner:

Dyson DC59 walking with it

So, did it live up to expectations? Surprisingly, yes. In fashionable purple and silver, it looks like something from Star Trek, and lives in a charging/docking station you can fix to a wall in your kitchen, hall or understairs cupboard. When you want to start cleaning, you simply pick it up and go. It has several attachments, including a handy pole-like extension (pictured above, for cleaning while you walk and reaching cobwebs); a crevice tool for getting into nooks and crannies; and a brilliant brush that cleaned two flights of stairs in a matter of minutes (it honestly revolutionised my life!). It picked up an amazing amount of debris and emptied at the flick of a switch afterwards. I loved it so much I even found myself cleaning places like the car and behind the sofa, just because it was so satisfying!

Dyson DC59 on a sofa

In fact, I only have two complaints. Firstly, I needed to poke a pencil or chopstick into the bin section to get the last bits of dust and fluff out (not a big deal, but still…) and secondly, the price. It costs around £349 at places such as Curry’s and John Lewis. Ouch. Mind you, with good ordinary corded vacuum cleaners coming in at around £200 or upwards, maybe that’s not so bad after all. One for this year’s Christmas and birthday lists combined, perhaps?!

PS: I also tried out the Gtech Multi handheld vacuum cleaner, below:

Gtech multi with pole

It does a very similar job to the Dyson handheld and even has an exciting light on the front to help you see under the sofa/behind the TV etc. It hasn’t got a docking station (you just plug it into the mains to charge) and doesn’t have as much suction as the dirt-gobbling Dyson; however at £149, it’s a good, cheaper alternative for spot cleans and quick spruce-ups. You’d probably still need to use an ordinary vacuum for bigger areas or more thorough dust-busting session though (in fact, Gtech recommend you buy a Multi and one of their handy cordless AirRam ‘normal’ vacuum machines together – I know, they would, wouldn’t they?! – for £299. saving £79 on buying them separately). You can read more and/or buy one from Gtech direct here or from John Lewis here.

Gtech multi with AirRam

Steal Sherlock’s style

14 Jan

Sherlock Benedict Cumberbatch Martin Freeman

I’m so gutted BBC’s Sherlock (starring the utterly brilliant Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, above) has finished, I’ve decided to deck out my living room in tweed, wear my coat collar permanently turned up; and start drinking tea from dainty china cups in homage.

Not really. But I have compiled a selection of goodies you could buy to get a little of Sherlock’s style. Besides, tweed is very ‘now’, you know…

Below: Tea is Wisdom tea towel, £9 Hunkydoryhome.co.uk

Tea Is Liquid Wisdom Tea Towel £9 Hunkydoryhome.co.uk

Below (clockwise from top right): Hound of the Baskervilles mug, £8.95 Bloomsburystore.com; Earrings £19.50 The Literary Gift Company (get 10% off at www.theliterarygiftcompany.com until midnight on 31 Jan by using code JANUARY10 at the checkout); Hedgerow check throw £15 Sainsbury’s; Union Jack cushion, £13 Dunelm Mill; Cashmink navy blue scarf £20 John Lewis; Sherlock deerstalker hat, £39 www.christys-hats.com.

Copy Sherlock style

Initial thoughts

10 Jan

Marks and Spencer F cushion It’s been a while since I saw something and bought it immediately, but the moment I spotted these alphabet letter cushions from Marks & Spencer (www.marksandspencer.com), I loaded up my online shopping basket quicker than you could say (or should that be ‘spell’) OMG. They are, quite simply, AMAZING. Not only do they look stylish and fun, but they’re just £10 each. Yep, you read that right, just a tenner each. Which means you can treat yourself to one with your initial on without feeling guilty at all…

Marks and Spencer J cushion…or go crazy and spell out a whole world on your sofa without breaking the bank (well, not spending an absolute fortune, anyhow).

Their simple design means they’d suit almost any kind of decor, and they’d make an absolutely perfect present, particularly for a wedding (you could buy two, one with the bride’s initial and one with the groom’s).

Race you to the checkout!

Marks and Spencer initial letter cushions

Sounds fun

8 Jan

John Lewis spectrum radio purple

Just over a year ago, I featured the Spectrum DAB digital radio from John Lewis on this blog – it was dinky-sized, had a lovely rubbery exterior, and came in several eye-popping colours. But after it sold out that Christmas, they stopped selling it.

Well, now I’m pleased to report it’s back – and in a fabulous array of on-trend shades including orange (trust me, it’s going to be HUGE this year); a beautiful cobalt blue; and one of my favourite hues, bright purple. Chic yet fun and modern, it looks great out on display, and at just £29.95 it’s about £120 cheaper than a Roberts radio, the only other really stylish option available.

What’s more, it’s the same cute size as before (11cm x 15.5cm x 4.7cm); and runs on both mains and batteries, making it perfect for almost any room in the house. It’d make a great present for anyone who’s tricky to buy for; or just a cheeky little treat to cheer yourself up this gloomy January.

John lewis spectrum radio pink

Cut price chic

2 Jan

Bird shower curtain hooks £9.50 Oliver Bonas SALEHappy New Year!

If your pockets aren’t completely empty, now is a great time to pick up a final few sales bargains before all the new season stock hits the high street. While much of what’s left is, quite frankly, a load of tat, there are still some lovely things available at very reasonable prices. Here are my top three (well five) picks – better be quick!

TOP: I’m aware these are ridiculously frivolous, but how cute are these little perching bird shower curtain hooks? They’d add a certain je ne sais quoi to any bathroom. Now £9.50 (was £14) for a set of 12 from Oliver Bonas (www.oliverbonas.com)

Auckland Li chrome lamp £24.50 Habitat SALE

ABOVE: Habitat (www.habitat.co.uk) are one of the few stores to still have LOADS of great bargains still available, so I was stuck for what to choose. My must-buys are this yellow Oken table £28 (was £35); this uber stylish Aukland Li lamp £24.50 (was £35); and this brilliant Kilo side table £12.50 (was £25), available in jade, pink, meadow green, teal or light blue. Use it beside your bed, next to your sofa, as a telephone table or even outdoors. At this price, it’d be rude not to buy one!

flower garden embroidered cushion £9.95 Dotcomgiftshop SALEABOVE: Embroidered cushion £9.95 (was £39.95) www.Dotcomgiftshop.com. Beautifully-finished, it looks like it’s worth a fortune. Buy two and pop them side-by-side on a sofa or bed for instant folk chic. There’s a square one available for the same price, too. Lovely!

Gimme fiver!

21 Dec

Primark hats

Got a tiny budget but a big list of people still to buy for? It’ may be too late to order online, but if you’re hitting the streets to do your Christmas shopping, you’d be surprised how many lovely gifts you can get for under a fiver these days. Yep, just £5.

Don’t believe me? Here’s my list of last-minute, under-£5 shopping suggestions (all available on the high street)…

Above, top of post: Christmas tree and pudding hats, £3 each, Primark.

Stocking fillers group shot 1

Above: Washing Uh Uh Up brush £5 House of Fraser; Grow your own chilli kit £4.50 Oliver Bonas; Drumstick pencils £5 and rubber band ball £4 both John Lewis.

Stocking fillers group shot 2

Above: Superman socks £4 BHS; sequin earmuffs £4 and leopard print scarf £4 both Matalan; statement necklace £5 Primark.

stocking fillers group shot 4

Above: Shopping basket £4.99 and Darth Vader mints £4 both Sainsbury’s; ‘Kramig’ Panda toy £3 Ikea; Novelty glasses £5 Next (instore only); Skipping rope £1 Poundland.

Baylis and Harding Mini Trio £4 Boots

Above: Bayliss & Harding mini trio £4 and ‘Cute or What’ lip balm trio £5 both Boots; Sparkle nail polish £3 Next; Ginger Sparkle shower gel £4 The Body Shop (get 40% off everything instore until close of business on 24th Dec with code 19804).

Stocking fillers group shot 3 mugs

Above: Mugs £2 each Asda (what a bargain!).

stocking fillers group shot 5

Above: Studio Eye Create Compact £4 Superdrug; Baru chocolate hippos £2.50 (these are DELICIOUS!) John Lewis; Oven gloves £3 each, Tiger (to find your nearest, visit http://www.tigerstores.co.uk).

Good luck and happy shopping!

On your Marks, set the table, go! WIN £200 of Marks and Spencer vouchers

20 Dec


One of the MANY things I love about this time of year is laying the Christmas table. Growing up, I’d spend ages folding festive paper napkins into pretty shapes and throwing table confetti around like a crazy person.

So, I’m very excited to have been asked to help launch and co-judge a new nationwide bloggers’ competition with Marks & Spencer in which you can win £200 of M&S goodies (or one of two £50 runners-up prizes). All you need to do is write a blog entry explaining how you’d create a gorgeous table scheme for Christmas, New Year or any other special occasion, using M&S accessories.

To give you some inspiration, I’ve laid up my dream Christmas table with the help of the lovely people at M&S…

IMG_0992_ammended warm

Getting this look is EASY. The key is to stick to two main colours plus an accent shade (I’ve chosen red and white with splashes of green); and one or two themes or motifs throughout (I’ve gone for a Scandi feel with snowflakes). Making your table look pretty doesn’t have to cost much either – I’ve decorated a mini tree with ribbons and pine cones…


…used pine cones and rosemary sprigs in a glass cake stand as a centrepiece; and used rosemary and ribbon to jazz up some plain white napkins:


I’ve also cheated iwth a wrapping paper tablecloth. It goes well with the red and white, and after the meal I can just pop it in the recycling bin – no washing or ironing required! As for the chairs, I’ve simply tied on baubles with ribbon – simple but effective:


Want to recreate this look? Everything in these pictures, apart from the white plates and cutlery came from Marks and Spencer (okay, the pine cones came from a tree in my neighbour’s garden, but you get the idea!)

Fancy having a go yourself and winning a fab prize? Here’s everything you need to enter the competition…

Bloggers, would you like to win £200 to spend on brand new tableware at M&S?

If your answer is ‘Yes!’ and you have a flair for interior design, then why not enter our Magical Dining Room Competition! To be in with a chance of winning all you have to do is create a blog post that shows what your dream dining room would look like, and how you would add a little magical and sparkle for a special occasion.

If you are posting before Christmas then you may like to include some of M&S’ festive tableware in your post. If you are posting in the New Year then let us know what items you would pick for a special dinner party.

What you need to do:

  1. Hop on over to the home section at Marksandspencer.com to started
  2. Choose your favourite products from the M&S Homeware collection (e.g. a dining room table, chairs, crockery and festive tableware)
  3. Create a mood board to show us what your dream dining room would look like and post on your blog. (You can use a tool like Polyvore or Paint to create a mood board, or just cut and paste product pics into your post). Here’s what my original moodboard looked like: M&S Christmas table selection
  4. Name your post: My M&S Magical Dining Room.
  5. Make sure you include the product name and price for each item you choose.
  6. Add the link to your post in the comments section of one of the judges’ blog posts by the 26 January 2014

Here are some useful pages that you may like use to find inspiration and reference in your post:

Who’s judging?

M&S has asked me and Jen of Love Chic Living to judge the entries and Jen is also running the competition over on her blog, so you can choose whether you enter here or there.

Jen and I will choose one overall winner from all of the entries and two runners up. The main winner will be awarded a £200 gift voucher and the two runners up will each win £50 to spend at M&S. We will announce the winners on our blogs two weeks after the competition closes.

The competition closes on 26th January at 11.59pm


Quids in at Christmas

16 Dec

Poundland Christmas tree CD

I watched a TV programme the other day that said the average person will spend nearly £900 preparing for Christmas this year. Yikes. I don’t think I spend quite that much, but like most people, I know I could definitely do with tightening my financial belt in a little.

But while £900 is a bit excessive, is it possible to buy everything you need to prepare for Christmas for just £20? That’s the challenge the lovely people at Poundland set me – the idea being you don’t have to spend a fortune when it comes to all those little extras that seem to add up at this time of year.

So, with a £20 voucher in my over-excited hand (Thanks Poundland – who knew they did vouchers?!) I went on my very own trolley dash round my local store.

And do you know what? It’s actually quite hard to spend that much in Poundland – even for a bargain hunter like me. So I easily managed to get all my festive essentials and more…


Poundland Christmas decorations

I like Poundland’s tinsel – it’s £1 for a 2m strip and it’s not that weedy, thin stuff either. It’s thick, bushy and over-the-top sparkly! I also picked up these pretty mirrored tree decorations; some sparkly glitter snowflakes and some battery-powered star-shaped lights to pop in my fireplace.


Poundland Christmas wrapping kitPoundland’s wrapping paper is a decent thickness, unisex design and what’s more, there’s a staggering 10 metres of it on a roll. I also stocked up on ribbon – four reels plus 12 bows again all for just £1. For those hard-to-wrap or last-minute gifts, I got a pack of three gift bags printed with happy snowmen and Santas; and a really sturdy post box-shaped wine carrier.
Christmas is the perfect excuse to stuff your face, so I splashed out on a box of liqueur chocolates; a Toblerone; and a pack of six teacakes which I plan to stack on a glass cake stand as a table centrepiece.


Poundland Christmas kids stuff

Then, to keep my son and his little friends busy while I’m doing important things like scoffing mince pies – sorry, preparing the Christmas dinner – I got a huge pack of felt tip pens; a sweet little colour-your-own festive bag; and some old skool paper chains.
Slightly less excitingly, I looked for those mundane but necessary things like batteries and sticky tape. Buying these somewhere cheap like Poundland means you have more cash to spend on the fun stuff. So, I added a jumbo pack of batteries; a four-pack of tape; a good quality clip-top box (for all those leftovers); a pretty box of tissues and even a pack of four plain white cotton napkins (I’ve seen similar for £6 each on the high street!) to my basket.

Oh, and finally, as the soundtrack to Christmas, I picked up a cheesetastic  three-disc CD, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree (top), with loads of traditional festive tunes (sung by the original singers, rather than cover versions). It goes for nearly a tenner online, so that’s officially the best bargain of the lot.

My verdict? I was impressed by the quality of things such as the batteries and snap-top box; and pleasantly surprised by how nice the wrapping paper, paper chains and tinsel were. People tend to pooh-pooh bargain stores like Poundland, but if you look carefully, you can find some real gems. And if you’re buying essentials like sticky tape or tissues, it’d be silly to buy them for more.

Green-fingered gifts

9 Dec

Garden gifts bee house

Every year on this blog, I promise to help readers find Christmas presents for people who are tricky to buy for.

If you have a gift-giving conundrum, please drop me a line at thetreasurehunteruk@gmail.com with the details of who you’re thinking of, and anything interesting about them such as hobbies, likes/dislikes etc. I’ll then hunt out some present ideas and post them up here!

This December, the first request comes from Helen, who needs to buy presents for both her dad and her friend Claire. They both love gardening, but she doesn’t want to get them: “something boring, like a spade or packets of seeds”. She also doesn’t want to spend over £25 each.

Luckily, there’s a whole host of gorgeous gardening goodies in the shops this year, and I’ve come up with some suggestions for her.

Hopefully they’ll inspire you too!..

Top of page: Thoughtful gardener bee house £17.50 Berry Red (www.berryred.co.uk) 

Garden gifts ladybird cushion bee cushion

Above: Ladybird and Bee cushions £25 each, Karenza & Co (www.karenzaandco.com)

Garden gifts soap grow own allotment hand therapy

Above: Gnome soap-on-a-rope £8* The Great Gift Company (www.thegreatgiftcompany.co.uk); Indoor Allotment £19.55 Play.com (www.play.com); Gardener’s Hand Therapy hand cream £9 Crabtree & Evelyn (www.crabtree-evelyn.co.uk)

Garden gifts trowels orla kiely gloves garden bag garden calendar

Above, clockwise from top left: Orla Kiely gardening gloves £14.95 Urban Cuckoo (www.urbancuckoo.co.uk); Matthew Rice A Year in the Country calendar 2014 £12.99 Cotswold Trading (www.cotswoldtrading.com); Gisela Graham gardening bag £10.99 Mollie & Fred (www.mollieandfred.co.uk); Garden tool set £15 Tesco (www.tesco.com)

Garden gifts wheelbarrow grabbers

Above: Purple wheelbarrow £28 Asda (www.asda.com/direct) – okay so it’s a little over the budget but it’s a bargain for such a cool wheelbarrow!; Get Gardening Leaf Grabbers £3.50 Wilko (www.wilko.com)

Garden gifts boot brush doormat lunch mugsAbove, clockwise from top left: Owl boot brush £12 Wilko (www.wilko.com); Dig for Victory mug £7* The Great Gift Company (www.thegreatgiftcompany.com); I Garden Therefore I Am mug £6.99 Urban Cuckoo (www.urbancuckoo.co.uk); Best in Show coir doormat £19.99 Retreat Home (www.retreat-home.com); Grow Your Own Christmas Lunch £14.99 The Oak Room (www.oakroomshop.com)

*GET 10% OFF AT THE GREAT GIFT COMPANY http://www.thegreatgiftcompany.com from today until midnight on 13th December. Just enter code SUN10 at the online checkout.

A little bit of Glamour

7 Dec

Glamour magazine UK January issue

Do you have a small room or flat you want to spruce up? Got a little space but big ideas?

Then buy a copy of this month’s Glamour magazine (January issue – Rihanna on the cover). It’s got a really useful three-page feature full of tips about how to make the most of your home, no matter how tiny.

Of course, I’m a bit biased, as I wrote it (!), but still… it’s very handy, it’s just £2, and it’s on sale now!

My YouTube debut!

3 Dec

Styling the shoot for First Direct

Last week I posted about a styling challenge I did for online bank First Direct to inspire people buying their first ever home.

Well, they’ve just released a short video full of tips with some behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the three bloggers involved (including yours truly making my on-camera debut!).

Watch it in all it’s glory on YouTube here…


or on the First Direct Facebook page here…




Dishes of the day

2 Dec

Flamingogifts rabbit jewellery dish

What’s this? A classy-looking, useful gift that almost any woman is guaranteed to like, but that costs under a tenner?!

Yep, I couldn’t believe it either when I stumbled across these really lovely dinky jewellery dishes from http://www.flamingogifts.co.uk. At around 10cm across, they’re the perfect size for stashing rings, earrings, pendants, trinkets or even a watch, either at bedtime or when you’re doing the washing up.

Flamingogifts squirrel jewellery dish

And with a rabbit, squirrel, deer and owl (sitting on a lotus flower by the looks of it) to choose from, there’s a cute animal or bird design to suit everyone. You can even get a dish with a golden bird/robin on top, for glamorous girls who like a bit of added glitz.

Flamingogifts gold robin jewellery dish

I’m planning to get them for several friends this Christmas, and I’ve put the sparky little rabbit on my wishlist. Want one of your own? If you, ahem, hop to it, there’s 20% off everything at Flamingo Gifts until midnight today, meaning the owl and deer are a bargainous £5.59 (instead of £6.99) each;  the rabbit and gold robin are £7.99 (instead of £9.99); and the squirrel is £6.39 instead of £7.99.

Happy shopping!

Do you remember the first time?

29 Nov

Main mood wall cropped

Buying your very own home for the first time is nerve-wracking but brilliant. Once you’ve got the keys, you can do whatever you like – knock down walls, put psychedelic wallpaper everywhere or paint the whole place pink if the whim takes you – without worrying about losing your deposit because you’ve put a picture up, or didn’t stick to a magnolia colour scheme.

The only problem is, with such a huge blank canvas to put your stamp on, where on earth do you start? Particularly if, like most first timers, you’ve sunk every penny  you own on the deposit.

That was the conundrum given to me and two other interiors bloggers (Caroline from Patchwork Harmony and Carol from Dear Designer) by uber friendly online bank First Direct.  They challenged us to create a 3D moodboard wall to inspire people buying their first ever house or flat. I had a whale of a time sourcing, buying and borrowing props in a rainbow of bright colours; and then spent a fun afternoon creating the wall in an East London warehouse, with the help of the super lovely First Direct team. You can see the results above and below…

Jenny Wood Gallery (2)

The idea behind my mood wall was show that decorating your first home should be fun – and shouldn’t cost a fortune. So, everything I used is available on the high street or online, and has an affordable price tag (it’s all listed below – be warned, it’s a looooong list!). I also wanted to show that you don’t have to play it safe. Even if you go for a background of plain or neutral walls, you can still inject some personality into your scheme with pops of bright colour or by experimenting with an eyecatching feature wallpaper.

Styling the shoot for First Direct

Want to see more? You can see the other bloggers’ efforts on the First Direct Facebook page, and view a video full of tips (including an interview with me – eek) here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuLYON3kasA. And if you’re thinking of investing in bricks and mortar for the first time, you’ll find loads of useful advice from First Direct here.

Good luck!

Where to buy everything…
Kaleidoscope wallpaper by Harlequin, £30 per roll, Wallpaper Direct (wallpaperdirect.com)
Clock, £10, TK Maxx (tkmaxx.com)
Owl cushion, £14.99 Dunelm Mill (dunelm-mill.com)
Purple, green, orange and yellow cushions, £6 each, Matalan (matalan.co.uk)
Grey pouffe, £47, Very (very.co.uk)
Micro loop bath mats (on floor), £8 each, Matalan (matalan.co.uk)
Large industrial wirework shelf, £49.95 Live Laugh Love (livelaughlove.co.uk)
Picture frame, £1, Poundland
Hello Sunshine postcard, 60p, Paperchase (paperchase.co.uk)
Origami crane light, £8 Cubic (cubicuk.com)
Owl candle, £3, Matalan (matalan.co.uk)
Teal canister £2, Tiger Stores (tigerstores.co.uk)
Pencil sharpener desk tidy, £15, Suck UK (suck.uk.com)
Sharpie markers from a selection, Amazon.co.uk
Solar Queen, £16.99 Play.com
Melamine bowls find similar at Nettle Green (nettlegreen.co.uk)
Mug from a selection, Achica (achica.com)
Chinese man pot junk shop find
Russian doll measuring cups, £6.24, Tesco Direct (tesco.com/direct)
Gibraltar highball glasses £2.50 each, HOUSE by John Lewis (johnlewis.co.uk)
Plastic boxes, from a selection at Paperchase (paperchase.co.uk)
Ceramic owl decoration, find similar, £5, from Red Berry Red at Notonthehighstreet.com
Tea towels, £3 for three, Wilkinson (wilko.com)
Star cookie cutters, £4 for pack of five, Sainsbury’s (sainsburys.co.uk)
Set of measuring spoons, £2, Tiger Stores (tigerstores.co.uk)
H.O.M.E perspex letters, £6 each, Oh Bother Design at Etsy (etsy.com/uk/shop/OhBotherDesign)
Large picture frame junk shop find, sprayed in Plastikote yellow gloss spray paint £6.99Amazon.co.uk
Bunting, £1 for 10m, Tiger Stores (tigerstores.co.uk)
Lanterns, £3 each, Tiger Stores (tigerstores.co.uk)
Trimphone telephone, £42, I Love Retro (iloveretro.co.uk)
Orla Kiely ‘Stem’ salad bowl, £25, Unique & Unity (uniqueandunity.co.uk)
Elephant watering can, £8.50 Ebay.co.uk
Silicone trivets, £2 each, Matalan (matalan.co.uk)
Soda siphon junk shop find
Queen Duck, £7.99, Just Ducks (justducks.co.uk)
Street sign, made to order, Oh Bother Design at Etsy (etsy.com/uk/shop/OhBotherDesign)
Bekvam step stool, £11, Ikea (ikea.co.uk), sprayed in Plastikote yellow gloss spray paint £6.99Amazon.co.uk
Morphy Richards toaster, £34.99, Dunelm Mill (dunelm-mill.com)
Happy Girl yellow Kokeshi doll, £20, The Japanese Shop (thejapaneseshop.co.uk)
Giant pegs, £3 each, Tiger Stores (tigerstores.co.uk)
Metal hut tealight holder, £2.50, Matalan (matalan.co.uk)
Plant and pot, from a selection at Homebase (homebase.co.uk)
Elephant creamer jug, £3.25, Rigby & Mac (rigbyandmac.com)
Books, from a selection at Amazon.co.uk
Sabichi zigzag throw, £12, Very (very.co.uk)
Tenshi Tetsubin cast iron teapot, £30, Exotic Teapot (exoticteapot.co.uk)
Musca table lamp, £19.98, B&Q (diy.com)

My headshot cropped

A-door-able advent calendars

27 Nov

Contact Marketing/ Press Office: 01202 596100

One my favourite things about Christmas is the expectation – for me, the run-up is almost as good as the big day itself.

For that reason, I’ve always loved advent calendars, and since I left home many moons ago, Mum and I have been making each other a personalised advent calendar, filled with little bits and bobs (dinky nail polishes, tiny decorations, chocolates, earrings, fun push pins, etc) we’ve secretly collected over the year.

I made the advent boxes we use (it took me HOURS…) but now they’re getting a bit tatty, and it’s time to replace them. The problem is, many fill-your-own advent calendars have really tiny drawers. You can barely squeeze a chocolate mini egg into them, let alone something a bit more substantial like a cute lipbalm or fun keyring.

So, this year, I’m on the hunt for the ultimate advent calendar – and I thought I’d share my findings with  you, above and below. There are LOADS of good ones to choose from, and I’ve included both fill-your-own and ready-filled versions, for those of you who either a) can’t be faffed buying pocket-sized treats, or b) have left it a bit late!

TOP: Advent houses, £20 for set of 24, Hobbycraft (www.hobbycraft.co.uk). They’re displayed on a white tree, £20 also from Hobbycraft, but you could just paint some twigs with white emulsion and stick ’em in a flowerpot to make your own display instead!

Contact Marketing/ Press Office: 01202 596100Stack of little buckets, £1 each, Hobbycraft (www.hobbycraft.co.uk)

cardboard storage house advent

Cardboard storage house (decorate it yourself), £35 http://www.notonthehighstreet.com or £34.95 http://www.theletteroom.com (I love the extra large drawers for the 23rd and 24th)

Advent house retro dotcomgiftshop50s Christmas house advent calendar, £18.95 http://www.dotcomgiftshop.com (almost identical to the one above, except it’s already decorated and almost half the price!)

black and white reusable advent calendar

Advent calendar storage drawers (choice of two colourways – black/white or lime/silver) £15 http://www.aplaceforeverything.co.uk

Buttonbag make your own advent calendar £16Buttonbag make your own personalised advent calendar kit £16 John Lewis (www.johnlewis.co.uk)

Ciate advent calendar

Ciate Mini Nail Lacquer Advent Calendar Gift Set, £42, John Lewis (www.johnlewis.co.uk). I would SO love to get one of these!

Lego star wars advent calendarLego Star Wars, £16.65 and Lego City, £13.32 advent calendars (with little Lego men and bits to open every day!), Sainsbury’s (www.sainsburys.co.uk)

Yankee Candle tealights advent calendar

Yankee Candle 24 Tealights advent calendar £22 http://www.Very.co.uk (with a different festive-scented tealight candle behind each door!)

Tesco chocolate advent calendar £10

3D Advent Calendar with Chocolate, £10, Tesco (www.tesco.com). You could save the boxes to use again next year!

The only time it’s good to be shelf-ish!

20 Nov

Kitchen rack 1

If, like me, you have a lot of lovely tins, quirky mugs, fun gadgets and kitsch knick knacks in your kitchen, it can be a shame to hide them away.

However, kitchen storage can be tricky, especially if you’re on a budget. You can fit one of your units with glass doors, but this often looks a bit twee; or you can pop things on shelves, which works fine, but doesn’t look particularly stylish.

This is why there has been a blank wall in my kitchen for over a year now…

blank kitchen wall before storage

Pictures didn’t look right (and got all steamed up); I already had a clock on another wall; and I didn’t want a full-on unit as it would have made the place feel too cluttered. I needed some kind of shelving unit that was both practical and that looked cool; where I could display my fun bits’n’bobs and also reach things when I needed them.

I found some great options online, but they all cost hundreds of pounds. Then, while doing a photoshoot recently, I came across interiors website http://www.livelaughlove.co.uk. They sell all kinds of unusual vintage and shabby-chic homes accessories – including doormats, picture frames, tins, jugs, hooks and metal signs – as well as some great, affordable storage options.

It was here I found the answer: the designer-look ‘Large Industrial Wirework Shelf’. It’s big enough to hold a decent amount of stuff; yet the see-thru nature of the wirework means it doesn’t take up too much space visually. It fixes to the wall with just two long screws (simple for even a DIY dunce like myself) and at a reasonable £49.95 it’s way cheaper than anything else similar I’ve seen.

The very kind people at Live Laugh Love gave me a shelf to keep after my shoot and now it has pride of place in my kitchen:

Kitchen rack 3

You wouldn’t just have to use a shelf like this in the kitchen though. It’d work well in a bathroom (see below); and if you wanted to make it blend into the wall even further, you could easily paint it with white radiator paint; or use a coloured spraypaint to make it stand out (try PlastiKote Twist’n’Spray, from DIY shops and Amazon.co.uk which sprays onto almost any surface).

BATHROOM Wirework shelf £49.95 Livelaughlove.co.uk

So, a huge thank you to the folks at http://www.livelaughlove.co.uk – I’m definitely adding the site to my list of great Christmas shopping destinations. And if you’re having a browse, here’s my pick of the other fab stuff they sell…

Live laugh love pigeon hole

Above: Rustic Wooden Six-Section Pigeon Holes, £29.95 (a great alternative to the wire shelves)

Live laugh love Merry Christmas grossgrain ribbon

Above: Fabric Ribbon, £2.95 for 3m; Antique Glass Filigree TeaLight Holders, £2.95 each

live laugh love knot doorstop

Above: Rope Knot Doorstop, £14.95 (a BARGAIN for something like this!); Vintage Glass Cake Stand, £9.95

Live laugh love general store storage

Above: General Store Jute Storage Bags, £3.95 – £8.95 depending on size; Days of the Week Decorated Pegs, £3.95

[Disclosure: I was given the wirework shelf  from http://www.livelaughlove.co.uk that appears in this review]

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)

Sew much fun!

29 Oct

White room flyer front

Looking for something unusual for my styling shoot the other week (see two posts ago), I decided I wanted handmade cushions. In theory, it’s incredibly easy if you make ones where the back tucks into itself like a pillowcase, rather than having to fit a zip.

But with a sewing machine still in it’s box and no idea how on earth to start, I turned to my local sewing cafe, The White Room SE4 (www.thewhiteroomse4.co.uk) for help. Popping up all over the country, sewing cafes are a place where you can hire sewing machines by the hour, take courses in everything from beginner’s basics and pattern cutting, to making skirts to winter capes… plus enjoy a cake and a cuppa at the same time. The White Room also sells gorgeous clothes too, designed by the lovely Nicky, a fashion designer who’s sold her range everywhere from ASOS to Top Shop and Warehouse over the years.

Anyhow, Nicky kindly ran up a couple of cushions and some blinds for me using the amazing Woodland fabric – covered in little squirrels, birds acorns and leaves – from Scion (www.scion.uk.com). The results were better than I could have expected – and completely unique!

Flat Shots

Handmade cushion in Scion Woodland fabric

I’m now determined to master sewing myself, and am planning to sign up for one of Nicky’s “How to use a sewing machine” beginners’ courses. For £30, over two hours, they’ll teach me all the basics, and hopefully give me a skill I’ll keep and use for life. In fact, I even took my craft-oholic friend Emma there as her pre-wedding present (I made a slightly wonky bag; she had a go at machine embroidery and took to it immediately, as you can see below).

Sewing at the White Room 2

Sewing at the White Room 7

So, if you’re in London and want to have a go yourself – or want to give a session to a friend as a gift – I thoroughly recommend it. Don’t live near the capital? Google ‘sewing cafe’ or ‘sewing workshop’ and see what comes up. I’ve found them everywhere, including Harrogate (www.needlepointsewingcafe.co.uk); Hinckley, Leicestershire (www.thesewingcafe.co.uk); Bristol (www.cordial-and-grace.co.uk); Durham (www.sewcafe.co.uk); Bath (www.themakeryonline.co.uk) and Glasgow (Make It – 07597 122 809).

Sew why not give it a try?!

Sewing at the White Room 4

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