July 29th, 2014
One way of creating a streamlined look in your home is to have minimal clutter. But when your rooms are small or you’re short on space, this isn’t always easy to achieve. In order to ensure you have a place for everything, it helps to get creative with storage and think of ways in which you can get your clutter out of sight!
Living room storage ideas
(Image credit: House to Home)
Living room clutter typically involves teetering piles of DVDs, children’s toys, books, magazines or newspapers. It may not seem like your living room without these items being there, but tidying them up neatly can make all the difference.
If you’re short on space, opt for a coffee table with storage built into it. This could be in the form of drawers or shelves underneath. For the streamlined look, try and avoid a glass topped coffee table with shelves underneath it though, as any clutter will be instantly seen!
A stylish ottoman or pouffe with hidden storage space inside can be a great place for hiding away all your kid’s toys. It can also help you transform the space from play area in the day, to adult relaxation zone in the evening.
Bedroom storage ideas
Bedrooms can easily get overlooked when you’re thinking about storage – we often tend to focus first on the rooms downstairs that more people tend to see – but in reality they can be a great place to store unwanted clutter. The art is to think carefully about how you’re going to store things and try and hide as much as possible, yet still ensure it’s accessible.
Stuffing things under the bed only leads to chaos and untidiness, but Divan style beds, with drawers built into the base, are ideal for this purpose. The drawers are roomy and functional and, depending on the size of the bed you have, can offer multiple storage space. Often the drawers themselves are hidden when the bed is made, so no-one need know they’re there.
A blanket box is also useful in a bedroom, especially for storing spare bed linen, bulky winter jumpers or towels. It can double up as a useful seat and you can make it comfier by adding a few cushions.
Hall and entranceway storage
(Image credit: House to Home)
If your hall is narrow, or you’ve only got a small entranceway through your front door, this area can easily become congested. Piles of shoes, umbrellas and coats aren’t attractive and don’t make the best first impression to visitors, not least when you have to squeeze carefully past them.
To tidy up your hall, think about ways in which you could organise your clutter more effectively. Invest in a wall mounted coat rack to hang coats on and a shoe storage cupboard or small rack to organise your shoes. If you’ve got room, you could also consider a freestanding coat rack.
***This post is in association with Carpetright***
July 29th, 2014
We love iced drinks, and with a little creativity the ice can become a focal point rather than an afterthought. Here are a few ideas to try.
Grace clear drinks like gin and tonic or Pimms with these pretty floral ice cubes. You’ll need a range of edible flowers – borage works particularly well as the flowers are a very attractive blue, but thyme or basil flowers, marigold petals and shreds of mint and lemon balm leaves will work too. Wash the flowers and put them in a square or shaped ice cube tray. Freeze, turn out into a plastic bag and keep in the freezer until needed.
Iced coffee is delicious, but watery, diluted coffee is less so. Make some coffee ice cubes, and use them to chill your iced coffee so you get the temperature without the dilution. Make a quantity of fresh, strong, black coffee, leave it to cool then simply fill the ice cube tray and freeze.
Make the ice cubes into a component of the drink. Perfect for adding to gin and tonic, brandy sours or just mineral water or lemonade, these ice cubes taste as good as they look. With a sharp knife, cut strips of zest from a large, washed, organic lemon, trying not to take any of the pith. Repeat with two organic limes. Peel and finely chop a one inch piece of root ginger. Divide everything between the ice cube trays, top up with water and freeze.
Freeze fruit into ice cubes to serve with lemonade, soda or fruit punch. Fruits that work well are blueberries, strawberry chunks, diced melon, cubed pineapple, orange segments and apricots. Avoid anything too over-ripe or soft, such as raspberries, as they’ll disintegrate as they thaw.
Fruit juice such as apple, orange or pineapple, fruit squash or water with a few drops of mint or orange flavouring added are all perfect for adding to a fruit punch, and children can eat them as mini ice lollies as well.
Put a few tablespoons of chocolate syrup into a pan, and add at least twice the quantity of water. Gently heat together until fully combined, then cool and freeze. This also works well with other syrups such as caramel or Amaretto, and these sweet flavoured ice cubes are great for adding to iced coffee.
Ideal for a child’s birthday party or a kitsch summery lunch party are coloured ice cubes. Add a few drops of food colouring – pink works well – then freeze as usual. You could also add a slice of strawberry or cube of cucumber for a three dimensional effect.
Top icy buys
1. Giant ice cube tray, Hunter Gatherer
Make a statement with this giant ice cube tray
This outsize tray makes large 2″/4cm blocks of ice, which melt more slowly than standard-sized cubes. Made from silicon so the blocks are easy to remove, the tray costs £12.75 from Hunter Gatherer.
2. Nuts and bolts ice cube tray, Whisk Hampers
Sure to raise a smile are these nuts and bolts ice cubes, ideal for the worker in your life to enjoy in that end-of-the-day drink. £5.95, available from Whisk Hampers.
3. Gin and titronic ice cube tray, Maiden
Of all the novelty ice cube trays we’ve seen, we love this ‘gin and titronic’ set. With four icebergs and four ocean liners, your ice cubes will be the talking point of the party. £8, available from Maiden.
4. Pea pod ice tray, Red 5
This neat little pea pod ice tray makes perfectly round ice ‘cubes’, ideal for use with our recipes. £9.95, available from Red 5.
**For more great icy ideas to help you keep cool this summer – including ice cream makers, ice cube makers and ice lolly moulds – check out our Ice Cool collection on eBay.
By Sara Walker
July 27th, 2014
Described as being a small speaker capable of producing a big sound, the Wow wireless speaker is designed to be used with any compatible bluetooth enabled device.
The design – especially of the yellow and pink ones, as you look at them side on – reminds us of Liquorice Allsorts. They’re made of silicon and can easily be charged up by USB. The speakers offer up to four hours play time at maximum volume and are great for using outside when you’re having a barbecue or party and want music on demand.
Even better news – they’re in the sale! They were priced at £55 each, but are now just £33 from Graham and Green. Wow indeed, that’s our summer music sorted.
July 26th, 2014
While we’re in the grip of a British heatwave, you might be looking for something a bit cooler than a cup of coffee mid-morning. Here are our top five favourite icy recipes to cool you down and pep you up.
1. Iced caramel latte
- 100ml of strong, fresh, good quality coffee
- 1 tablespoon caramel syrup
- 1 tablespoon white sugar, or to taste
- 200ml skimmed milk
- 10 ice cubes
- 2 tablespoons whipped cream (optional)
What to do:
Put the coffee, caramel syrup and sugar into a blender and pulse until the sugar is dissolved. Put the ice in a plastic bag, wrap the bag in a tea towel and put it on a chopping board. Hit the bundle with a rolling pin to break up the ice a bit, then add it to the blender. Add the milk, and pulse in short burst until the ice is as crushed as you’d like it. Pour into a tall glass, and top with cream if using.
2. Homemade lemonade
There’s nothing quite like the taste of real lemonade. Experiment with oranges and limes as well to make your own St Clements punch – oranges will require less sugar, and limes more.
- 6 large lemons, organic if possible
- About 150g granulated sugar.
What to do:
Wash the lemons thoroughly in warm water and dry them on kitchen towel. Using a potato peeler, scrape the zest from three lemons, taking care to take as little of the white pith as possible. Squeeze all the lemons, put the zest in a large, heatproof bowl and add the juice. Pour in 1.5 litres of boiling water and the sugar and leave to cool overnight.
3. Apple, beetroot and ginger superjuice
If you’re not a beetroot fan, don’t be put off! The beetroot gives this juice a subtle sweet taste and a very pretty purple colour, while the ginger adds a fresh, zingy kick. This juice should be drunk immediately it’s made, as if you try to store it the juice will separate and the flavour won’t be as good.
You’ll need (per person):
- 1 juicy eating apple, such as ripe Golden Delicious or Cox
- 1 cooked pre-packed beetroot with no added vinegar
- 1/2 piece of fresh ginger
- 100ml chilled apple juice
What to do:
Peel and core the apple and cut it into pieces. Roughly chop the beetroot, and peel and finely chop the ginger. Put everything in a blender, and pulse until smooth. Add the apple juice, pulse briefly to combine then drink immediately.
4. Chilled peppermint tea
If the mint in your herb garden is running riot over the summer, then this is the drink for you. Peppermint is a natural coolant, the fresh taste is reviving on a hot day. If you still have mint left over, cut the stalks, hang them up to dry, store in airtight containers and use them for hot tea during the winter.
- 3 stalks of peppermint leaves
- 250ml boiling water
- sugar or honey to taste
What to do:
- Rinse the leaves while they’re still attached to the stalk, then strip them. Crush them a bit between your hands to release the essential oils.
- Let the water cool slightly until it’s just off the boil.
- Put the leaves into a teapot or straight into a mug, and add the water. Let it steep for five to ten minutes (fresh leaves need to steep longer than dried, as the flavour is less concentrated.) Sweeten to taste.
- Strain, and allow to cool, the chill in the fridge until required.
- Serve over ice with an extra sprig of mint on the side.
5. Peach punch
This light, summery drink is ideal for a party.
You’ll need (to serve four):
- 100g sugar
- 410g tin of peaches in juice
- 100ml lemon juice
- 1 litre bottle ginger ale
- Sprigs of fresh mint
What to do:
Put the tinned peaches in a blender with a little water and pulse until smooth. Alternatively, pass them through a sieve. Add the sugar and lemon juice and mix until smooth. Put into a jug or pitcher and add the ginger ale, mint and ice cubes. Stir before pouring.
By Sara Walker
July 24th, 2014
Made.com is already well regarded for its good prices on furniture, but until 28 July, you could get even more of a better deal by purchasing products in their sale. There are lots of pieces that are perfect for a contemporary home, from coffee tables and shelving, to desks and chairs.
Here are some of our top picks:
1. Stroller desk in white or green, £339
2. Fonteyn chest of drawers, walnut and red, £449
3. Pair of Kitson stools in white, £89
4. Studio pendant light in satin steel, £59
5. Kubrik wing back chair in barley beige, £339
6. Doble char in tudor red, £169
7. Lichen large multicolour modular shelves, £409
July 23rd, 2014
A positive attitude toward DIY is the hallmark of a good British home. Unfortunately, those tricky cushion covers and patchwork quilts are not always as easy to construct as we’d like. While a homemade pair of curtains or toy for your child might give you domestic goddess status, the reality of constructing it probably includes sharp needle pricks, dropped stitches and muddled instructions.
In order to help you get in the DIY spirit, we’ve found some DIY sewing tutorials that won’t leave your hands bleeding or your mind reeling.
Specialist websites such as www.howtosew.com and www.sewmamasew.comcan help you on your way to being a master of the needle and giving your home that loving DIY touch. If you’re lacking inspiration as to how you can incorporate your sewing masterpieces into your home, the McCarthy and Stone Pinterest page can show you how to make DIY chic in your very own space.
Muddling your way through Pinterest can be a daunting task. With ‘pins’ of food, clothing, decorations and general oddities, this DIY website can leave you wishing you had the talent of your Pinterest peers. However, in many cases you will actually be left with wonky initials sewn ‘off centre’ on an even more poorly sewn together cushion cover.
Thankfully we’ve found some easy peasy tutorials from the internet’s most creative website that will help you try your hand at DIY soft furnishings without drawing blood!
Sometimes you just need a more kinetic set of instructions. While Pinterest can offer you a wide range of picture-based tutorials, for those trickier stitches and patterns, video-formatted ‘how-to’ options might be just the answer.
YouTube is full of a wide range of video tutorials for nearly any form of sewing DIY. From perfect cross stitch to elegant lettering, the website can cater to nearly all of your decorative needs.
But for those of you just starting out, here is a beginners video that will help you learn some simple techniques and tricks to enable you to get started with your sewing adventures. If you wish to find more videos, remember you can simply search what you’re looking for in the search bar at the top and find the perfect video for you.
We hope now you can pick up your needle with confidence and start lifting your home towards DIY heaven. Just use these simple and easy tutorials that won’t leave you all stitched up.
(Image credit: Shutterstock)
July 22nd, 2014
If you love all things industrial, then there are plenty of ways you can incorporate this style into your home.
Here are four gorgeous pieces of furniture that we thing epitomise the industrial style. Use them in your home as feature pieces, or as part of a totally industrial decor scheme.
1. The Union Jack design industrial boatwood high dresser is really striking and full of character. It’s made from recycled boat wood and has three useful drawers, adorned with patriotic colours. It’s a lovely piece and great for adding different textures and design into your home interior. It’s priced at £600 from Occa-Home.
2. Metal textures are a key element of industrial style. We love the industrial inspired kitchen iron trolley. It’s got loads of storage space on the three bottom layers, plus a handy marble slab on the top that you can use for food preparation, or more storage. What’s more, the wheels make it ideal for moving around your kitchen or utility room. It started off life as costing £375, but has been reduced to £262.50 at Graham and Green.
3. Mixing painted metal and smoothed wood, the blue industrial stool is a solid and sturdy piece with a height adjustable seat. It’s reduced to £97.75 in the sale at Graham and Green.
4. A coffee table on wheels is a great idea too and makes furniture moving so much easier. This piece is designed by Danish company Nordal and is made from solid pine wood, with metal rivot cladded corners and industrial cart style iron wheels. It’s a solid, well made piece oozing with style and costs £525 from Idea Home Co.
July 21st, 2014
Bring the childhood magic of having a balloon into your home with these delightful balloon themed home accessories and decor.
From cushions and china, to hot air balloon coasters and wall stickers, there are some great ideas available for your home featuring balloon designs.
We love the balloon ceiling and wall lights in particular, as they’re very realistic – great for adult and children’s rooms alike. If your budget won’t quite run to that, then snap up a glass balloon to use as a decorative accessory instead, they are well priced at only £8 each.
Balloon design cushion, £32 from Sew Sew
Memory balloon ceiling light, £154, from John Moncrieff
Glass balloon, £8 from Henry’s Future
Bristol hot air balloon coasters (set of four), £12.99 from Emmeline Simpson
Memory balloon wall light, £154 from John Moncrieff
Hot air balloon stickers, £19.50 from Oakdene Designs
Girl with a hot air balloon bone china plates, £48 from Eleanor Stuart
July 17th, 2014
If you’re looking to update your bathroom with a fresh, contemporary look, then a trend you might want to consider is the idea of incorporating tactile textures.
This trend has been highlighted by luxury bathroom supplier, C.P. Hart. In essence, to achieve this trend think textured finishes on your walls or floor, incorporating patterned tiles, using natural wood and adding touches of tribal influences. The end result can evoke a modern rustic vibe.
A bathroom is an ideal room for this type of trend, as it’s a place to relax and unwind and let your senses be calmed or refreshed by the feel of warm or cool water. We naturally use towels to dry off in the bathroom and the feel of the soft fluffy texture of a towel can be inherently soothing and comforting. So in a similar way, this trend takes the idea of tactile textures one step further, applying them to other areas of the room and additional ways in which we can stimulate our senses.
We’ve been exploring the trend and the bathroom design opportunities through a Pinterest board, which has been a useful way of gathering together ideas and inspiration. You can get a good idea of how different textures can be used and mixed together and of how the end result might look. We came across these four images which we think help illustrate the different ways the modern rustic trend can be used:
(All above bathroom images by photographer Sara Svenningrud, source KK Living)
If we were creating a bathroom with this trend, then wood would have to be included somewhere. Be it in a pure and natural state, such as wooden beams or a rough, textured countertop, or in products that show off the pure beauty of wood with its natural grain exposed.
Smooth painted or lacquered wooden finishes are stunning too and dark wood can create a sleek look in a contemporary bathroom. In fact, used in this manner, with a dreamy dark wall colour and contrasting lighter towels and accessories, it reminds us of a luxury spa bathroom. Textured tiles are a brilliant addition, on the wall and/or floor, and those with a hint of pattern can look very effective.
(Featured items: Giro furniture, single drawer unit; Sheridan dark grey Trenton towels; Loire ardois décor pattern tile; Tribal print coasters ; contemporary beauty wall mounted soap dish and holder and Mariel towels).
We love the fact that bathroom furniture doesn’t have to be pure white. Metallic style baths are gorgeous and add a very stylish and opulent feel into a bathroom. If you want to create your own metal texture, then the freestanding Greenwich Boat Bath can be painted in your choice of finish. The golden copper looks nice, but we’d opt for moody dark steel.
Not everyone likes or even wants to attempt DIY and if you want the best possible finish in a room you’ll be using every day, it’s a good idea to seek the advice and services of someone working in the trade.
For more inspiration and bathroom product ideas, take a look at C. P. Hart’s bathroom showrooms.
(Disclosure: This post is in association with C. P. Hart)
July 16th, 2014
Are memory foam mattresses all they’re cracked up to be? Our intrepid reviewer, Jackie Cosh, put the Dormeo Memory Fresh mattress to the test.
I was not aware of memory foam until a friend recommended the pillows. I bought one, loved it, and went back the next week and bought another.
So as you can imagine when I was asked to review the Dormeo Memory Fresh mattress I jumped at the chance. I couldn’t be without my memory foam pillow, and was keen to see if I would feel the same about the mattress.
And I sure did. A week after the mattress arrived and I have to say absolutely love it. I wouldn’t be without it.
So what is memory foam?
Memory foam was first developed by NASA in 1966, to improve the safety of aircraft cushions. In the 1980s it was was released to the public domain and for many years it was mainly used in medical settings, for example for bedridden patients. Memory foam mattresses significantly decreased the problems patients had with pressure sores and gangrene, common problems for those required to spend a long time in bed.
Moving on to the twenty first century and in 2006 the third generation of memory foam was introduced, resulting in more and more people using memory foam for every day use.
A cleaner and fresher mattress
I was interested to discover that the mattress contains silver fibres – one of the world’s oldest and best antibiotics with excellent anti-odour properties. The silver fibres are sewn directly in to the mattress cover, creating an efficient barrier against dust and particles – so a cleaner and more hygienic sleep. I think this means a lot to people nowadays as we are becoming increasingly aware of the existence of dust mites.
My old mattress was quite a number of years old. I didn’t think it was in bad condition until I lay on the new Dormeo Memory Fresh mattress. And it was heaven. I absolutely loved the way it held my whole body. I have been asked whether moving around in your sleep causes the mattress to have several imprints, but that is not a problem at all. You can move around all you want and you are not aware of any imprint as such; all you can feel is the sheer comfort.
The mattress comes with a 15 year guarantee, is 15cm high, with a 2cm memory foam layer and a 12cm Ecocell layer. Ecocell is a unique, next generation foam, designed to be permanently elastic with a 3-dimensional cellular structure, providing efficient air circulation and support where you need it. It also features CleanEffect treatment to help banish bacteria and dust mites, and handles at each side – useful for turning over the mattress.
I really don’t have anything negative to say about the mattress at all and love the support that it provides. I was a fan of memory foam before I found out about the Dormeo Memory Fresh mattress and am an even bigger fan now.
Review by Jackie Cosh
(Disclosure: A mattress was supplied by Dormeo for the purposes of this review)