January 23rd, 2015
With plenty of the winter still ahead of us, now’s the time you might be started to feel that the cold, drizzly, grey weather is starting to grate a bit. Now’s the time to retreat inside and create your own bright, colourful den to banish those winter blues, with our pick of the top ten colourful home accessories guaranteed to cheer you up.
1. Xian fresh rug in bright, Kelaty
A cheerful, stripy contemporary rug designed to lift your spirits and brighten a dark room. It’s available in a range of colourways, designs and sizes, and prices start at £89 from Kelaty.
2. Bright stripe room divider, Arthouse
Make an impact with this stripy room divider. Ideal for screening off clutter, splitting up a room into two uses or creating some privacy, this will be a real focal point. £75, available from Arthouse.
3. Yellow cups tea towel, Jangneus
This cheerful yellow tea towel will bring a ray of sunshine into your kitchen on the darkest day. Made from all natural materials in the UK, it costs £12 from Jangneus.
4. Single letter cushion, Karen Hilton Designs
Stake your claim to your place on the sofa or mark your favourite chair with one of these initial cushions in bight primary colours. Handmade by designer Karen Hilton, they’re available in 30cm x 30cm or 42cm x 42cm sizes. Prices start at £18, available from Swanky Maison.
5. Red enamel jug, Gisela Graham
Add an eye catching pop of colour with this bright red metal jug from Gisela Graham. AT £7, it’s an easy and inexpensive way to brighten a dark corner. Add a bouquet of winter evergreen leaves such as holly or laurel, or use it to display dried flowers. Available from The Contemporary Home.
6. Menu Propellor trivet, The Scandinavian Shop
This award-winning propeller trivet will add a touch of fun to your kitchen counter. Made from silicone, the trivet is heat resistant up to 230 degrees Celsius, folds for optimal storage and is available in a range of colours. £15, from The Scandinavian Shop.
7. Desert cushion, Polly Taylor
The Desert cushion is part of the Climate collection, a colourful range of cushions inspired by aerial views of landscapes from around the world. The cushion is 100% cotton twill, digitally printed in bright, contemporary shades. Comes complete with a polyester cushion pad. £38, available from Great British Designs.
8. Green block desk clock, Red Candy
This bright green table top clock tells the time using the cut out numbers on the face. Made from powder coated steel, it features a bright green face with a yellow minute hand. Behind the face is an orange hour hand that passes behind the cut out numbers, so the hour is filled with orange. Perfect for offices, bedrooms and kitchens, was £24, now £21.60 from Red Candy.
9. Cornell chair in robin’s egg blue, MADE
A playful take on a classic mid-century design, this retro-style chair is available in a range of bright modern colours. Made from sturdy plywood with a lacquer finish and a curved backrest for extra support. Was £109, now £89 from MADE.
10. Marimekko Pieni Unikko Red Cushion
This bold Pieni Unikko poppy design by Maya and Kristina Isola will remind you summer’s on its way – and it can’t arrive too soon! £37, available from Cloudberry Living.
January 21st, 2015
If you’re looking for a rug for your child’s room, have you considered one made of wool?
Some experts believe wool could be the perfect rug material to choose and today’s guest post, from The Rug Retailer, explores the many benefits of wool.
The Rug Retailer’s wool rugs are perfect for any child’s room but, you don’t just have to take our word for it. All you need to do is examine the vast number of benefits that wool, as a fibre brings to any room but, in the cases of children’s room, these benefits take on even more importance.
Here are some of the top reasons why wool rugs are perfect for kids’s rooms.
I. Resilience – wool is incredibly durable, resilient and robust which is why some of the oldest rugs in the world are made from wool. It is a material that regains its texture and shape quickly. Even after a few months covering the floor under a bed, when the bed is moved, the wool rug will eventually bounce back into shape.
II. Natural stain resistance and soiling ability – children are naturally less balanced and measured in the finer motor skills that an adult can be. In other words, where as an adult can walk along with a glass of liquid in hand, without looking at it, should a child do the same thing, the chances are it may slop out of the glass. With children playing in their rooms, you need a wool rug that you know will be able to withstand all kinds of punishment – and the ability to not let spills stain it is a perfect additional benefit too.
Fact – wool is able to resist stains due to the presence of lanolin in its fibres. It is a substance that can also be beneficial to skin and so children laying and sitting on wool rugs will also be protected.
III. Flame resistant – not many people are aware of the flame resistant nature of wool but this in itself makes them perfect additions to a child’s room. The fibre does not catch alight but tends to smoulder instead. Due to the lack of additional chemicals, as can be found in some synthetic mix rugs, this smouldering will not give off toxic smoke.
Fact – in order to thrive, a flame needs fuel, oxygen and heat to ignite the fire. Wool is not only naturally dense, but each fibre also contains too much water to be able to support all three of the fire triangle, hence it smoulders rather than catches alight.
IV. Durable – wool is one of the most durable natural fibres known and this is why wool rugs for children’s rooms will cost more than synthetic ones. However, you will get years and years of use from a wool rug; they will age and grow with your children, lasting until your small children are grown adults (and beyond!)
V. Elastic – wool has elastic qualities that lets it be mouldable and springy under foot. There are two different types of wool cells, known as the orthcortex and paracortex. These cells grow at different rates and are at opposite sides to each other on the fibre. As a result, wool has amazing elastic properties. In tests, wool fibres can be stretched by 35% but easily return to shape.
VI. Moisture resistant – as well as resisting stain, wool is also naturally water repellent. Quite naturally within the fibre, there is a barrier that prevents too much water soaking in but, when water does finally makes it way in to the fibre, it can absorb a third of its own weight in water and not feel wet. In clothing, this is known as a wicking property and it why wool is used in underwear for astronauts.
VII. Availability of patterns and designs – not everyone wants the same looking rug in their child’s room and so, if you think that wool rugs tend to be grey in colour and nature – or itchy to the skin – you will be wrong! Wool can be dyed and treated in all kinds of ways and constructed to create strong rugs. Wool rugs today come in an infinite number of shapes and sizes, as well as patterns and colours. Neither do they tend to fade too readily, unless placed in direct sunlight for long periods of time.
VIII. Functional and beautiful – any room deserves to be swathed in beauty and wool rugs do just that. For too long, functional has been a by-word for boring and yet, wool rugs for children’s room are anything but boring. They will provide hours of warmth under foot, as well as years of enjoyment and delight.
To check out the options available, and choose your rug, head over to The Rug Retailer.
January 17th, 2015
Have you made New Year’s Resolutions that relate to your house and home? If saving money on household bills and gaining more control over them is on your list, then here’s one brilliant way in which you could achieve both.
The Hive Active Heating System from British Gas offers a clever way to take control of your home heating and make it work more efficiently for you.
Hive utilises state of the art technology and simple to use products to allow you to control your hot water and heating so that you only use and pay for what you need. What’s more, thanks to a nifty smartphone app, you can control your heating and hot water wherever you are. In our opinion, this is one of the best aspects of it.
You don’t have to have any vastly expensive equipment installed and neither is it a lengthy, time-consuming or disruptive job to have done. Hive retails for a one-off fee of £199, which includes professional installation by a British Gas engineer and free downloadable apps.
It works with your existing heating system and is compatible with whichever company currently supplies your heating (you don’t need to be a British Gas customer, or have energy supplied by them to have Hive).
The system is apparently compatible with 99% of the gas boilers in the UK. Our boiler is in old age and in need of replacing soon, so we were encouraged that even our old one was suitable for working with Hive.
One other key requirement is that you have a broadband connection at home and space in your router to connect the Hive hub (but if you don’t, you can easily buy an extension port to create additional HDMI sockets).
Our Hive experience
The system consists of three main components – a wireless thermostat, a receiver and a hub:
This is what our controls looked like before:
And here they are after:
As you can see, it’s a compact and well designed system. The wireless thermostat can be installed anywhere, but it made sense to us to have it positioned where the old thermostat was to cover the mark made on the wall by the old controls. However, you don’t have to have it wall mounted if you don’t want to.
The little flap of paper sticking up at the back is a handy information leaflet (the design of this is great too, as it compactly slides down the back of the thermostat so you can keep it close by – no more losing of the instruction booklet!). The heating can still be controlled manually from the thermostat when needs be, but it seems easier by far to mainly use the app.
It took around 30 to 40 minutes for our old controls to be removed and the new system to be installed. This included the time spent explaining how everything worked and setting up the app for the first time.
The engineer was really helpful and didn’t leave until he was sure everything was clear and we’d tried out the app and the manual controls.
The Hive app
The iOS and Android apps are free, quick and easy to download. Plus, they’re easy to set up too. The engineer will guide you through the process of setting up for the first time and will advise on the initial password to use.
The app can be used across as many devices as you want – on mobile phones, tablets, on computer or online – giving you multiple methods of control. Plus, if it’s not convenient to use the app, you can also control it by SMS text message.
We’re pleased at how clear and easy to use the app is. When you log in, it shows you at a glance what the current temperature in your home is and what the outside temperature is.
A simple scheduling system allows you to plan out how you’d like your heating and hot water each day – when you’d like your heating and hot water to come on and go off. If you want to keep things simple, you can. The schedule can be swiftly set to be the same each day.
But if there are days when you’re off work, work from home or don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn, you can set your controls to meet your needs. Of course, you could do this on most old style boiler controls too, but it tended to be time-consuming and fiddly to alter.
With Hive on the other hand, it’s super quick. What’s more, if you change your mind about your settings or fancy turning the heat up, it’s very easy to do so. No need to move yourself away from the comfort of your sofa or snug bed…just whip out your phone and up the temperature.
Ways that Hive will come in useful
Prior to having Hive installed, we’ve had several occasions where we’ve been on holiday and turned off the heating completely. Then it’s turned cold and we’ve worried about our pipes freezing. Occasionally we’ve even had to ask a friend to go and turn our heating on for us.
With Hive, these worries will be a thing of the past. We can turn the heating off before we go away, but if the weather changes or we change our mind, we can simply control it ourselves from our mobile phone. Simples.
As a bonus, we can even set Hive to alert us when the temperature at home falls below a certain level. So even if home heating issues haven’t crossed our mind, we’ll be alerted and can prevent any problems.
The Fresh Design verdict on Hive
Although we’ve only been using it a short time, we’re really impressed with Hive.
It’s a well produced and designed system and perfect for working in harmony with smartphones and modern technology. We’ve become more aware of the exact temperature in our home and outside, and it’s definitely given us more control over our heating.
It’s very useful to be able to control our hot water too. We’ve already cut down on the frequency in which our hot water comes on and the boost function will be useful when we unexpectedly need extra hot water, for example when guests are staying and more people are having baths or showers.
In the long run, having Hive will hopefully help us to cut down on our heating bills. British Gas say it’s possible to save in the region of £150 a year by only heating your home when you need to, which would be a considerable and worthy saving.
Since having Hive installed and mentioning it to various people, we’ve come across others using it too and we’ve not heard a bad word said about it. In terms of technological product developments, British Gas seem to be onto a winner with Hive.
We’d definitely recommend Hive to anyone wants more control over their home heating, so visit Hive Home to find out more for yourself or purchase the system.
***Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Hive in association with Nuffnang. We were supplied with a Hive system to review, but all views and opinions are our own.***
January 15th, 2015
Solar powered water features are a great addition to any garden or yard. There is something very different and unique about these types of garden décor items and they are much more special than other traditional wired features. There are many advantages of solar powered water features and they include affordability, attractiveness and more.
Solar powered water features are powered by solar energy by way of the sun and there are so many different types and styles available; there really is something for everyone.
One of the advantages of solar powered water features is the fact that these fixtures add light to a garden, yard or patio area. Most solar powered water features include LED lights in them so they can be used not just during the day but also in the evening hours when the sun goes down.
Adding light outside your house is also useful as it may help increase the safety of your home. If your garden has a lot of light around, this can serve as a deterrent to criminals who might be looking to gain access to the property.
In addition to increasing the overall safety of your garden to prevent criminals from scoping out a residence, another one of the advantages of solar powered water features that have lights in them is that they can help light a walkway on a property in order to create a much more safe area. If there are porch steps or patio steps that might be a danger when it is dark outside, extra lighting that does not require wiring is a simple and easy option.
Solar powered water features also help create ambiance. One of these features in a garden is often enough, or if you have a large space, you might like to have several of them.
Either way these features create a very relaxing, zen-like atmosphere where you can can sit and relax. It is also a pleasant atmosphere to host a gathering of friends or family.
Solar powered water features are powered by the sun’s rays so there is no need to wire these units and power them with electricity. By using the sun’s rays to power a water feature this saves an incredible amount of money on monthly energy costs.
Not to mention that when utilising solar energy for any purpose, a person’s carbon footprint decreases greatly which helps preserve our planet.
There are so many different solar powered water features available and there is something for just about every different style preference. You can also easily match a water feature to the rest of your outdoor home décor or garden design.
In fact, you can choose from stainless steel, rattan, resin and much more as far as material options go for solar powered water features. The best part is that all of these materials are very strong and durable so there is no need to worry about it being outside in poor weather. A solar powered water feature should be able to withstand the weather year round without becoming damaged or broken.
If you are looking to purchase a solar powered water feature you can do some great shopping online. Outdoor Living UK is a great website that has a huge selection of water features. There is something for every style and preference, so why not consider adding a solar powered water feature to your garden or outside space this year?
***This is a guest post***
January 9th, 2015
Want to liven up the inside of your home during the darker winter months? These Fab Friday Bargains from Habitat are bursting with colour and perfect for providing a touch of winter cheer.
1. Albion oak bookcase, now £275 (was £350)
2. Blyth yellow storage side table, now £65 (was £95)
3. Array multi-coloured wooden wall clock, now £36 (was £45)
4. Hallam multi-coloured kingsize duvet cover set, now £24 (was £30)
5. Tavio lively geometric cushion, now £7.50 (was £25)
6. Sevilla teal blue cantilevered chair, now £75 (was £95)
7. Sushi cat patterned cushion, now £9.50 (was £12)
8. Aksel multi-coloured block porcelain mug, now £1.50 (was £6)
January 7th, 2015
Four designer discounted table lamps….four styles. Which one would you choose?
Lamp 1, for fans of geometric designs – Turquoise blue geometric wire design lamp by Ben de Lisi, now £40 (was £50)
Lamp 2, ideally suited for the modern home – Grey and shiny chrome oval cut out lamp by Betty Jackson.Black, now £52 (was £65)
Lamp 3, for lovers of all things quirky – grey pelican lamp by designer Abigail Ahern, now £68 (was £85)
Lamp 4, perfect for the young at heart – red wooden pencil lamp, now £36 (was £45)
January 6th, 2015
When your Christmas decorations and other festive accessories come down, it can make your home feel a little bare. Although getting things back to normal and tidying up the Christmas clutter is good, we’re still left with dark winter nights and mornings. If you’re mourning the loss of your sparkly Christmas lights, then here’s another way of adding a bit of cheer to a room, all year round.
The company Cable & Cotton specialise in handcrafted cotton lights. They’re similar to fairy lights, in that you get a gorgeous array of colourful lights that can add light and a cosy glow into a room. But these are a bit more special.
The lights are handmade in Thailand and each light on the string is contained within a colourful cotton ball. What’s even better is that you can customise your lights to feature the colours you’d like. So they can match your wallpaper, contrast with your sofa or tone with your cushions. Clever, huh?
If you don’t have any definite colour options in mind, or can’t decide what to choose, then they’ve also put together a number of tempting colour options to inspire you. These are some of their top selling colour combinations:
Cotton Candy – a sweet combination of lilac, lavender, dusty blue, pale grey, sky blue, raspberry red and soft pink.
Marshmallow - a soft and delicate blend of dusty rose, pale pink, ivory, pebble grey and pure white.
Rainbow Drops – a vibrant and colourful array of violet, turquoise, pure white, anais green and raspberry red.
Mojito – a zesty mix of anais green, turquoise, sky blue, oatmeal and pebble grey.
Sea Salt – a fresh mix of pale blue, white, pale grey and charcoal grey.
Cinnamon – the warming tones of dusty rose, prussian blue, royal purple, tan brown and olive green.
The lights are versatile and can be hung vertically, horizontally or draped along a windowsill or mantlepiece. They’ve very effective when lit up, but the colours are equally appealing when the power is off too.
A standard string of Cable & Cotton lights, featuring 20 glorious orbs of colour, starts at just £22.95, which is great value for money. Longer versions are available too – 35 lights cost £32.95 and 50 lights are available for £42.95.
Give them a try – we suspect they’ll become lights you definitely won’t want to take down!
January 5th, 2015
What design trends have you loved this past year? And which will you be continuing to adopt in 2015?
For the Fresh Design team it’s a massive thumbs up for the geometric interiors trend. No, we’re definitely not tired of it yet!
Our latest guest picks ideabook for Houzz.com celebrates our love of geometrics and rounds-up some gorgeous ideas to inspire you.
Check it out below:
January 3rd, 2015
It’s been a few weeks now since we started testing out the Samsung Motion Sync 2-in-1 vacuum cleaner, so we’re back to provide you with a more in-depth review of its performance and our experiences.
To recap, the VU7000 motion sync 2-in-1 vacuum cleaner is a modern, sleek and well designed cleaner that promises the following key factors:
- Powerful suction
- Extra power
- Dust and allergen filtration
- Top technology for an easy cleaning experience
- A detachable handheld vacuum (the 2-in-1 element)
As our previous post outlined, on first impressions, we were particularly interested in its design, upright shape, dust and allergen fighting ability and the technology it offered.
So how did we get on with further testing?
Fresh Design tests the Samsung VU7000 2-in-1 vacuum cleaner
Christmas proved to be quite a good time to test out a vacuum cleaner.
All the celebrations and food and drink, not forgetting the Christmas tree, created mess that needed to be cleaned up – think crumbs, spillages and pine needles, plus lots of people traipsing in and out. So it was ideal to have a cleaning machine at hand ready to tackle the debris.
We put the VU7000 vacuum cleaner through its paces, exploring how it coped with cleaning a variety of different surfaces and debris.
We gave the cleaner a good workout on carpeted floors as well as stairs.
On the carpet setting, the effectiveness of the cleaning function did seem to be a bit variable. Some dirt got picked up well, but other bits of debris seemed to be left behind (e.g. there were various bits of thread from Christmas decorations and gift tags that ended up on the floor and these weren’t picked up properly when they were on carpet).
This was a bit disappointing, but after some experimentation, we discovered that the picking up ability was better if we changed the setting and lowered the brush wheel. This is allegedly designed for hard floors, but did seem to work well on carpets too.
The hard floor setting of the vacuum is ideal for cleaning on tiled floors. The machine glides well on the surface and successfully picked up all the dust, dirt and debris.
The vacuum cleaner is great at coping with going around corners and getting into awkward spaces.
It’s designed to have a nifty swivel brush and this feature works exceptionally well. It moves with ease and effortlessly swivels around the corners that other vacuum cleaners fail to clean effectively.
The stairs we tried the vacuum on were carpeted and, as mentioned before, it didn’t seem to pick up all the dirt when it was set on the carpet setting.
The vacuum is heavier than machines we’ve used previously, so this did make a difference too. It’s okay for carting up one flight of stairs, but we wouldn’t want to have to keep lugging it up and down more. This might be a personal thing though.
What was useful though was the smaller detachable handheld cleaner – this was lighter and easier to use on a step-by-step cleaning basis.
On blinds, curtains and behind furniture
The smaller, detachable cleaner has its own built in motor and is a great piece of equipment in its own right. In fact, it proved ideal for cleaning dust off blinds and curtains – areas that hadn’t been cleaned for a while.
It was also useful for getting in behind pieces of furniture, like cupboards and chairs, where you can’t normally get a vacuum. The nozzle is suitably slimline to squeeze around the back of furniture and along skirting boards to clean off the dust. The fact that there were no lengthy cables attached was an extra bonus.
Fresh Design verdict on the Samsung VU7000 vacuum cleaner
Overall, we’re fairly pleased with our experience of trying out Samsung’s VU7000 motion sync 2-in-1 vacuum cleaner.
The best bit by far is the mini handheld vacuum cleaner – what a fabulous design and great idea. It’s incredibly useful to have it built into the main machine, whilst also being completely detachable, and we can see this being used time and time again.
It worked well on hard floors and tiles, but was a little bit hit and miss with carpets.
We liked the fact that it had a long cable and plenty of room to be able to wind this around the back when not in use and the fact that it’s bagless, which makes emptying the dust out easy to do. Although seeing the dust collecting inside can be a bit of a shock (how much dust?! Where does it keep coming from?) it can actually be quite motivating to see that the work you’re doing is fruitful.
It’s also a good model in terms of height – no more getting an achey back when vacuuming.
It is heavier than vacuum’s we’ve been used to and this doesn’t make it so easy for carrying up and down flights of stairs. If you’re living in a multi-storey house, then it’s definitely worth trying it out in store before you buy to see if the weight of it works for you.
After only a few weeks use, it’s hard to tell if it makes a major difference in terms of allergies, but we’ll be interested to explore this further.
To find out more about the VU7000 and see it in action, take a look at this:
Disclosure: We were sent a VU7000 to review, but all views and opinions are our own.
This post is featured in the #loveyourhome linky: