August 25th, 2016
Could your walls do with a completely new look? Why not take them to a new level with these fab designer wallpapers that are bursting with wow factor?
The withered flowers wallpaper is available in a classic black and white or colourful options. It’s produced by design company Studio Job in conjunction with creative wallpaper manufacturer NLXL. The result is their stunning Archives wallpaper collection.
They’re quite ‘busy’ designs, but will provide you with plenty to look at. It’s amazing how different the coloured version looks.
The Firefly Feathr wallpaper is created by Chinese artist Yuexin Du. The inspiration behind the design is her memories of summer nights in her childhood and particularly dark forests filled with the light from fireflies.
The mosaic design on the wallpaper is really effective and incorporates the idea of light and movement. We particularly love the blue design, which is very reminiscent of night-time colours. The refreshing mint shade is a bit more like early morning light in the forest to us, but still produces a lovely effect.
We’re already fans of Mr Perswall’s designs, but some of these designs have got us swooning! The expressions pieces are a cross between wallpaper and wall murals, as they’re produced in single panel format. What makes these special is that you can also have them created to your own bespoke size. So if you’ve got an odd shaped wall, you don’t have to worry about wasting wallpaper.
The Wilderness design, with its fiery copper and emerald green accents, says ‘autumn’ to us, but you may well see it in a completely different light. Either way, it’s stunning and a very different design from standard wallpapers.
The Wallpainting and Ageing with Beauty pieces both bring elements of texture and natural effects to your wall. Or for something different, you could opt for the Abstract design (admittedly, you could just throw paint at your wall to create a similar effect, but at least this has turned out nicely!).
August 23rd, 2016
Could you bring a taste of the Aztec style into your home?
It’s not that hard to do. In fact, Aztec-inspired look is one of the current trends and, in terms of home decor, it uses strong geometric patterns, texture and bright colours.
So who were the Aztecs?
The Aztecs were a nomadic tribe, who settled in north Mexico in the 13th century. They had a sophisticated and intricate social, political, religious and commercial culture, and for two hundred years, they practically ruled central Mexico.
In the 15th century, the civilisation was overthrown and dispersed by the Spanish but elements of their culture continued – in fact, the words ‘chocolate’, ‘avocado’ and ‘tomato’ are of Aztec origin. Who knew?!
Art was central to Aztec culture, and took inspiration from two main sources – nature, and religion.
Common themes are jaguars, ducks, snakes, deer, jaguars and dogs, as well as plants and trees. Gods were also often depicted (sometimes as animals), as well as warriors in all their finery. Shapes were sharp and geometric, and colour was bold and bright, often clashing primaries such as blue and red.
How to use the Aztec style in your home
Achieving an Aztec-inspired look is all about colour, pattern and texture.
Choose a natural, neutral look on walls and ceilings, using materials such as wood, stone, rough plaster and paint in warm shades of grey, off white and sand.
Then, add blocks of bold, bright colour using rugs, lamps, chairs and cushions.
With colours and patterns this strong, it’s best to keep a neutral background and work with just a few statement pieces, otherwise the finished effect may give you a headache!
Here are our picks:
1. Aztec armchair, Lime Lace
Aztec print armchair, Lime Lace
This stylish Aztec armchair has been upholstered in natural jute with a contemporary geometric deep blue Aztec design, handwoven using the traditional skills of artisans in Rajasthan. Finished with brass stud detailing, it has hand turned legs from made from sustainable mango wood. This chair is ideal for adding texture and pattern – add a couple of plain, bright cushions to finish the look. £995 from Lime Lace.
2. Matrix MAX 23 Cuzzo Sienna rug, Kelaty
Aztec design rug, Kelaty
Make a statement with this bold, eye catching woollen rug, hand tufted in India. The bright colour and strong, geometric shape are perfect for creating an Aztec feel. This rug will work perfectly against a neutral floor such as natural wood. Available in different sizes, prices start at £142 from Kelaty.
3. Set of three woven baskets, House Doctor
Set of three woven geometric baskets, House Doctor
Dip your toe into the Aztec trend with this set of three geometric black and natural woven baskets with black handles.In three different sizes, they’ll find a range of uses around the home from waste paper baskets to laundry or log baskets. £48 for the set, available from rigby & mac.
4. Geometric luxe black and ivory throw, The French Bedroom Company
Geometric black and ivory throw, The French Bedroom Company
This blanket is a modern take on an ancient idea. With a strong, monochrome, geometric pattern, it will make a statement without taking over the room. It’s heavy weight and would drape nicely over a bed or sofa. Made from 100% cotton, it’s also machine washable. £99 from The French Bedroom Company.
5. Pop vase, Kelly Hoppen
Bright Pop vase, Kelly Hoppen
This vase from interior designer Kelly Hoppen combines a simple shape with a graphic design and bright colours. Use it to lift a dark corner of the room, or add a pop of colour to a monochrome design. £25, available from Kelly Hoppen.
August 18th, 2016
Did you know Matalan sells furniture? It’s online only at MatalanDirect.com, but they sell a good range of furniture that’s stylish, on trend and affordable.
We’d never experienced Matalan furniture before, but were sent a corner bookshelf in oak, from their bestselling Quinn range, to review. The style of the piece is inherently contemporary – it’s based on the popular ladder design – and it’s an attractive and functional piece of furniture that could effectively be used in a variety of different rooms.
The Quinn corner bookcase arrives in two boxes – one long, large one which contains three vertical pieces of wood, and one square one, which contains four shelves in graduated sizes.
You also get the super essential instructions, all the screws, dowels and fittings you need, plus a little Allen key to help you put the whole piece together. So there are no worries if you haven’t got a tool kit on hand, as you can assemble it without the need for any other tools.
Once unpacked, the wood seemed to be of a good, sturdy design and the oak finish a lovely warm colour.
Assembling the flat pack Quinn bookcase
Is it easy to put together? Well, it seemed to be…
The doweling rods were easy to insert into the shelves and the shelves initially seemed to fit well into the uprights. It could be put together by one person, but we found it useful to have two of us.
One shelf though seemed to be missing a screw hole, so couldn’t be as securely attached as it should be. When everything else was screwed together it looked finished, although we somehow ended up with a slight gap at one side at the very top.
As it wasn’t really the perfect, nicely aligned finish we’d hoped for, we took it apart and did it again. Sadly, that didn’t really rectify the problem. Whether it was something we’d done wrong, or perhaps that the upright piece of wood wasn’t quite cut to the right size at the top, we’re not sure.
Here’s an image showing the gap on the right hand side – it’s not a major issue, but something that could be annoying in the long term, knowing it’s there and not quite perfect.
The gap issue aside though, the finished bookshelf is a lovely contemporary design and definitely fits into the ladder style shelving trend.
It’s nice that it’s a corner design and can fit into a spare gap. It also felt reassuring that it was going in a corner, as it didn’t feel 100% sturdy when standing (it might be better, for example, if you screw it to a wall for super security).
Styling the Quinn corner bookcase
The bookcase would work well in a living room, dining room, study or even a small space in a hallway or on a landing.
In our case, it fitted perfectly in a corner of a bedroom, against the side of a similar coloured wooden wardrobe.
There are five shelves in total, each a different size. We used the bottom shelf for books, and the others to display vases and other decorative accessories.
Of course, there’s not a lot of scope for storage on the smallest, top shelf (just room for a small owl), but the lower shelves do provide ample space – in fact, more space than we’d anticipated.
The bottom shelf is a brilliant height and width for large hardback books. We could have easily filled all the shelves with books – as you can see, the other shelves are quite deep too and could easily accommodate more hardback or paperback books:
It’s a really elegant and functional piece of furniture. In terms of value, it’s pretty good too – the original price was affordable at £79, but it’s currently reduced to £59 in the sale, so an even better buy.
If it’s a style of furniture you like, there are other coordinating pieces in the Quinn range, and options in a white finish too. One nifty aspect is that other pieces can be joined together if you wish. There are spare screws provided and easy-to-spot connecting points on the Quinn bookcase.
It was good to see the value and options that Matalan furniture provides and it’s definitely something we’ll be exploring again in the future.
(Disclosure: We were sent the Quinn bookcase to review, but all views and opinions are our own).
August 16th, 2016
There’s nothing worse than a sofa that looks great in appearance, but is uncomfortable to sit on.
As it’s so often the key piece of furniture in a living room, design and style are of course a priority, but if you’re going to make the most out of it, it needs to be comfortable to use too.
Here are three top designer sofas from BoConcept that tick all the boxes in terms of style and design, yet won’t compromise on comfort.
The Monaco sofa
It’s not often that a sofa is said to be inspired by a stop sign, but the Monaco sofa has that claim to fame! That’s not all that makes it special, though.
Designed by Frans Schrofer, the sofa is an elegant and classic design that not only looks comfy, but is comfy. That’s because it’s designed with ergonomic backrests, to give you the perfect seating experience.
The stop sign inspiration is reflected in the hexagonal design of the armrest. In fact, geometrics seem to be a bit of a thing with this piece, as the seat cushions are sculpted in diamond shapes. The idea behind this is that they’ll help the sofa keep its shape. Clever, huh?
The Madison sofa
If you love the latest technology, then the Madison sofa is a must-see. It cleverly combines great style, with top technology to provide you with a fabulously comfortably seating experience.
The modular sofa system is available in a choice of designs, as well as in over 100 different fabrics and leathers. What helps set this sofa apart from others is its adjustability.
You can either opt for a manually adjustable headrest, so you can adapt it to the exact position you want. Or choose the techno version, with its electric seat and motion headrest. This is powered by either lithium batteries or cable and transforms the sofa at the touch of a button into a super comfy recliner.
Once you’ve sat on this one, you won’t want to get up!
The Mezzo sofa
If you love to lounge around on a sofa, then the Mezzo design could be the perfect option for you.
The modular sofa is available in a great range of sizes and designs, from compact to huge, and includes components such as resting units, lounging units and footstools. Whether you’ve only got a small space for a seat, or a large area to fill, you can create your perfect sofa shape and size.
The Mezzo boasts ‘intelligent’ back cushions that are fully adjustable, so you can get the comfort you desire, whether you’re lounging around, or sitting up watching TV. Plus, the armrests benefit from extra padding too.
August 15th, 2016
Why go for plain glasses, when you could have colour? Add a riot of colour and fun designs to your glassware collection, with these fab pieces by Scandinavian designers.
Even better, all these pieces are currently on special offer at Cloudberry Living, so you’ll be getting yourself a bargain too. What’s not to love?
1. Award-winning graphic designer, Hanna Werning, is the designer of these fun and colourful pink Fantasy glasses. The four different designs feature birds, flowers and leaves in an attractive Scandi style. A set of four is currently 10% off.
2. The Iittala Katehelmi bowl is part of a range that was originally designed in 1964. Ever popular today, this pink bowl, with its distinctive dewdrop design, holds 35cl and is ideal for use as a either a dessert bowl or decorative glass ornament. It’s currently on offer with 25% off.
3. If you’re getting the glasses, you might as well get the matching jug! The Sagaform Fantasy jug in pink has a rubbed lid and has 20% off.
4. The light blue Iittala Lempi glasses have sadly been discontinued, so you can snap up a pair before they’re gone for 25% off. The soft curved shape is easy on the eye and they’re stackable, so great if you’ve got limited storage space.
5. The Sagaform large Fantasy glasses in blue come as a set of four in mixed designs. They’re designed by Hanna Werning and are ideal for everyday glasses. They’re gift boxed and are currently 10% off.
6. The apple green of Iittala’s Maribowl is a beautiful fresh shade. At 120mm it’s a great size to use as an ice cream bowl. It’s on offer for 25% off.
7. Markus Johannson is the brains behind Sagaform’s purple Birdie Carafe. The design features a mix of shapes, including cones and spheres, and it’s a great piece to use to serve either wine or water at a dinner table. It’s available in amber or turquoise too and is currently reduced in price by 25%.
8. If dark lilac is your kind of colour, then Iittala’s Lempi glasses by Matti Klennel could well appeal. Available as a set of two, these glasses are equally good used to serve orange juice at breakfast as they are to enjoy your favourite tipple at night. Buy a pair and save 25% off.
9. The set of four Sagaform Club glasses are characterised by their bright and colourful stems. They’re designed by Matz Borgstrom and are made from mouthblown glass. Matching martini glasses are on offer too. 20% off.
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August 11th, 2016
If you’re serious about cooking and food preparation, or want to be, then professional knives will help you achieve your goals.
The Precision range of knives by Edge of Belgravia have got professional design, style and function down to a tee and their new set of knives help add to their collection to provide cutting implements for every need.
We featured the first set of Precision knives last year, along with the rather funky Black Diamond knife block that goes with them.
The new extension set is the perfect accompaniment to both these products, as it extends what you can do with the knives, yet still provides plenty of space in the block to store them.
The Professional Four Piece knife set allows you to fillet, bone, dice, slice, chop and mince to your heart’s content and there’s a good mix of knives for everyday use, and special tasks.
For discerning chefs, there’s an extra large knife for chopping and dicing. If it’s slicing you want to do, then there’s a special slicing knife included – it’s designed with unusual recesses on the blade, so you can very finely slice meat, fish or other foods – no more chunky slabs here!
The large bread knife is a great addition for everyday use and is a good example of a knife that’s essential to have in a kitchen. But for a more specialised task, the fourth item is a new knife designed especially for filleting and boning fish. Whether that’s something you’re already a dab hand at, or are curious to try, it’s a useful addition to your kitchen equipment.
The knives are all very well made and meet the usual discerning standard set by Edge of Belgravia. The handles are comfortable to hold – an aspect that’s essential in a knife, especially where sharp blades are concerned – and the all-over black finish looks sleek and contemporary. The blades themselves are made with coated stainless steel, then finished off with a non-stick blade coating to give them their unique look.
The knives are a good addition to any existing collection of Precision kitchen knives, but are equally useful as a standalone set. They come in a sturdy box which you can always use to store them in if you wish (for example, if you want to keep speciality or sharp knives away from tiny hands), but it’s good that there’s space available in the Black Diamond knife block, if you want to add to an existing set.
The Professional Four Piece Knife Set retails for £79.90 and is available to buy direct from Edge of Belgravia.
(Disclosure: We were sent the knives to review, but all views and opinions are our own)
If you’ve enjoyed this post, or any of our others, please vote for Fresh Design Blog in the 2016 Interior Blog Awards.
We’ve been nominated in the Best Design Inspiration category (along with loads of other fab blogs!) and would really appreciate your vote. Just click on the badge below to vote. Thank you.