Wonderful wood: How to choose the perfect wooden accessory

November 24th, 2014

Photo by Franck Boston from Shutterstock

Whether you opt for sleek, mirror-polished surfaces or a rough-hewn rustic look, wooden accessories suit every style and decor. Wood is versatile and durable, and as it’s a natural material each wooden item you own will have a unique grain and pattern. We take a look at how to make an impact with wood.


Oak is a very hard and robust wood, used for everything from building work to decorative bowls – in fact, there are records of oak roof beams lasting for over a thousand years. It’s very hard wearing when used outside, as it contains high levels of tannic acid which act as a preservative, so unlike teak it doesn’t need treating. Good quality oak isn’t cheap, but if you’re planning to commission or buy a set of furniture to last a lifetime, it’s definitely a wood to consider.


Beech is a clean and hard wearing wood with a characteristic pale, bright appearance. It’s very strong, making it a good choice for flooring or worktops, and its pale colour makes it a popular choice for modern homes.


Birch is paler than beech and gives a light, almost Nordic feel to a room. Despite its light colour it’s extremely strong, and a popular choice for contemporary furniture. Its bark contains natural waxes making it waterproof, and birch bark is sometimes used as roof tiles in Scandinavian countries.


Lime is a pale yellowy colour, and is soft enough to allow it to be carved with precision. It also stains well, as the colour helps bring out the natural lustre of the wood, and it’s a popular choice for furniture.


Yew has beautiful, unusual colouring as the rich brown timber is dotted with little clusters of tiny knots and reddish accents. It’s very slow growing and therefore expensive, and is often used for decorative accessories such as bowls and platters.

Wood that’s good: Top five wooden accessories for your home

Add some distinctive wood pieces to your home, through furniture or accessories.

1. Oak stool, Burlanes Interiors

Burlanes oak stools

The uncluttered design of this simple wooden stool allows the natural beauty of the wood to shine through. Handcrafted in Canterbury, this stool is a perfect addition to your kitchen or bathroom. £198, available from Burlanes Interiors.

2. Torrington beech headboard, Natural Mat

Torrington beech headboard

This robust, stylish, strut-fitted head board is made from FSC beech timber, and is available in natural or stained beech. A version is also available in white American oak. Prices start at £250, available from Natural Mat.

3. Birch wood wreath, Red Lily

Birch wood wreath

This unusual wreath, £14.50, is made from layers of birch bark, and would make a great alternative decoration for Christmas. Supplied with white hanging ribbon. Available from Red Lily.

4. Kay Bojesen oak elephant, Rosendahl

Kay Bojesen oak elephant

We love how the natural grain on this elephant, £170, looks like textured skin and adds to his sweet, quizzical expression. Designed in 1953 by Kay Bojesen, these oak figures are now beautifully handmade by the Danish Rosendahl group. These toys will become family heirlooms, and this elephant would make an ideal christening gift. Available from The Scandinavian Shop.

5. Teardrop lamp, Hemmesphere

Teardrop beech lamp

For a quirky feel, try this teardrop-shaped lamp, £89.95, cleverly made from beech wood. It mimics the curved lines of the light bulb, and the wooden frame lends a soft glow to the room. Light shines through the outer sculpture of the lamp to project a waffle like effect into the room casting soft shadows. Remove the base to increase the intensity of the light shining into your room and use the base to prop up the body of the lamp to make an eye-catching floor lamp. Available from The Glow Company.

(Top image credit: Shutterstock)

Light my fire: 10 stylish fireside accessories

November 22nd, 2014

With the nights drawing in, it’s time to think about getting ready for the colder weather. Nothing beats cosying up by the fire in the dark evenings, whether your chosen heating method is gas, electric or good old-fashioned logs, so get winter-ready with our pick of the best stylish fireside accessories.

1. ANTXO leather log holder, Midipy Créations

This gorgeous log holder isn’t cheap, but it’s so stylish you’ll want to have it on show all year round. Made entirely of leather and double lined for extra strength, it also includes a felt shelf for newspapers and matches, and comes in a range of colours including camel, chocolate, orange and red. £374, available from Darwin’s Home.

2. Iron log holder, Garden Trading

Cheaper and just as stylish is this simple iron log holder. With a minimalist design to show off the natural beauty of the logs, it’s made from wrought iron which will last for years and provide a focal point on your hearth. £60, available from Naken Interiors.

3. Wicker log basket, Ludlow Stoves

If you like a more traditional look, how about this round wicker log basket? It’s part of a range that also includes deep and cradle log baskets. It’s lined with a removable jute liner to stop bits of bark and dirt littering your carpet, and will look good against any decor. Prices start at £26, available from Ludlow Stoves.

4. Fire bucket, Vincent & Barn

If you fancy adding a little retro kitsch to your fireside, this bright red metal fire bucket is the way to do it. Great for storing smaller pieces of kindling, newspapers and matches, it costs £16 from Vincent & Barn.

5. Fire bucket, Dupere Design

For a slightly different twist on the fire bucket idea, this more expensive version comes complete with a lid to hide your fire-lighting paraphernalia from sight. £29, available from Dupere Designs.

6. Companion set, The Great Gift Company

This sleek, contemporary fireplace companion set comprises a long handled brush, shovel, poker and coal tongs, all made from highly polished nickel. Priced at £250, it’s decorative as well as useful and will look good on your hearth all year round. Available from The Great Gift Company.

7. Devil match strike, Jonathan Adler

This is the devil of a good idea. Made from porcelain bisque, this white devil holds your matches safely out of the way while the whole base of the figurine can be used to strike a light. Priced at £42, it’s available from Amara. Match holders/strikers in other designs are available available in the same range.

8. Angel fireplace matches, Pluto Produktur

This prettily packaged tube of extra long matches is by Swedish brand Pluto Produktur, who specialise in using tradional Swedish themes with a contemporary twist. These matches are practical as well as pretty, as they make lighting fires, barbecues and candles a doddle without risking burnt fingers. £4.99 per tube, available from The Scandinavian Shop.

9. TIRA fireplace set, Midipy Créations

This stylish leather case contains long matches, and there’s plenty of room for you to store fire-lighting newspapers as well. The luggage-tag-style ‘label’ is actually a striking surface, and the holder is made from calfskin that’s been hand cut, assembled and stitched in France. It costs £108 and is available in camel, red or chocolate from Darwin’s Home.

10. Botanicals log fire candle jar, Tesco’s

Of course, not all of us are lucky enough to have our own fireplaces so this candle from the Tesco’s Christmas range is the next best thing for those with a more modest amount of space. In a glass jar with a neat wooden lid, this candle will create an atmosphere of warmth and comfort without the mess. £8, available from Tesco.

Six ways to use contemporary open shelving units

November 20th, 2014

Fresh Design Blog features open shelving units

Open shelving – do you love it or loathe?

Open style shelving isn’t for everyone (it’s not ideal if you’re a clutter fiend, for example), but if you love the pared back, minimal look, there are some fantastic contemporary open shelf designs available. And there are some great ways in which you can use them in your home.

1. Go bold with colour and design to make a shelving statement, with the Zenith contemporary bookcase by Essencia Home – £360 from Go Modern

2. Adopt a woodland theme in your home, with the tree inspired branch bookcase in walnut – £199 from Dwell

3. Go retro, with the walnut Polygon open shelving unit by Luka Stepan – £299 from

4. Form a room partition, with a large Urbane Designs Hadlee asymmetric shelving unit - £342.39 from Wayfair

5. Get creative, with Sean Yoo and Casamania’s Opus Incertum shelf, which can have other matching sections added on top or by the side to make it bigger – £243 from Made In Design

6. Opt for relaxed laidback shelving, with the Escala ladder style shelf in white – £149 from Dwell

Design your ideal house with HomeByMe

November 18th, 2014

Free 3D interior design tool reviewed by Fresh Design Blog

Fancy creating your dream house? Become a designer and put your interior decorating ideas to the test, using the free HomeByMe design service.

HomeByMe is a free online 3D design tool that allows you to have a go at interior design and landscaping. You can create your dream home from scratch in 3D, plan out your ideal interiors and think about how you’d create the landscaping outside a property.

How to design your ideal home in 3D for free

Aside from being a fun tool to experiment with, HomeByMe provides many practical functions too. It can sometimes be hard to imagine how a room would look if it’s reconfigured or how your home could be if you had an extension.

There are obviously benefits of having plans properly drawn up by an architect if you’re seriously considering a house extension and having building work done. However, if you’re in the early stages of debating whether or not it could work for you, then using a 3D design tool like this can help you get a clearer picture of what you could do, without the huge expense of having professional plans drawn.

The tool allows you to upload existing plans that you have, create new ones from scratch or even use submitted project designs from other users. You can place and arrange all the internal and external walls, doors, windows, stairs and floors, then decorate your space in the colours and styles of your choice.

A catalogue of products allows you to pick out ideas that might work and see how they’d fit in the rooms you’ve created.

The 3D approach is great, as it allows you a bird’s eye view of how your plans look. Looking down on rooms from above and being able to twist or turn the plan gives a far better perspective than simply gazing at a flat diagram and having to imagine how it would look.

If you don’t have a particular project in mind, then why not be inspired by some of the other users of the tool and re-create houses from your favourite TV shows? For example, take a look at the creation of Sheldon and Leonard’s apartment from The Big Bang Theory:

Big Bang Theory TV Sheldon and Leonard's apartment design

Are you feeling inspired to have a go? There’s plenty of help and guidance available to get you started on the HomeByMe website, plus there are loads of useful tutorials and how to tips on the HomeByMe blog.

***This is a collaborative post***

A taste of vintage with Etsy’s Vintage & Main collective

November 18th, 2014

Fresh Design blog featured page on Etsy

Did you know Fresh Design has a presence on Etsy? We do indeed and on our Etsy page you can discover some great ideas for home decor and gifts through our curated collections.

We’ve got collections focusing on stunning wall art, gorgeous cushions, handmade Christmas decorations, quirky lighting and much more.

This week our page is being promoted by Vintage & Main,  a collective of over 60 Etsy vintage sellers who between them have over 16,000 vintage inspired items for sale.

As part of the promotion, they’ve arranged a special 10% discount code on products from 40 stores on Etsy.

The code is FRESHDESIGNBLOG10 and you can find out which shops are offering the discount by clicking through to Vintage & Main. The discount is availble for this week only, from 17th to 23rd November 2014, so get shopping!


A rainbow of colourful seating from The Funky Chair

November 15th, 2014

Add colour to your home through funky colour chairs

Pops of colour in your home can help enliven and lift your interior. Not only can you add colour through your use of wall finishes and decor, but also through your choice of furniture.

Whatever colour of the rainbow you fancy a chair or bar stool in, The Funky Chair has a range of chairs and stools to fit the bill.


Relax in style and comfort in your living room on a Montana red lounge chair. This comfortable chair is built with design, comfort and stability in mind and the uplifting shade of red could offer a vibrant colour pop in your home. What’s more, if you like a spot of swivelling, you can swivel 360 degrees in this little beauty!




Add a touch of zesty orange to your home with the Melody chair. This useful chair will serve many a purpose in your home. Use it in your kitchen to add a colour splash to a breakfast table, enjoy having it as a desk chair or have it on hand as an occasional seat to use when you need extra seating. The gentle curve of the chair back is comfortable to sit against and the orange shade has an invigorating feel to it.


Bring some sunshine into your home with chairs in a shade of yellow. This rather aptly named Sorrento bar stool (as its reminiscent of the sun in the Italian resort of the same name) is stylish and comfortable. Use it at a kitchen breakfast bar to add a bit of zing to your morning.


Bring the colours of nature into your home with the Faro chair in fresh green. The contemporary classic style of the chair is complemented by the faux leather green upholstery and open back. It’s comfortable to relax in and works well in a variety of seating situations.


The Lucid dining chair is available in a beautiful shade of sky blue, which is perfect for a modern dining room. The modern chair design is made from acrylic with a translucent finish, coupled with shiny chrome legs.



If indigo blue is the colour for you, then take a look at the Crescent bar stool. The perfect seat for a contemporary home, this stool is made from moulded plastic and shaped for comfort. The sleek design is finished off with a shiny chrome footrest, which contrasts nicely with the deep blue. The seat height is adjustable via a built in gas lift mechanism, meaning it can easily be altered as and when required.


Last, but certainly not least, how about a Tolix bar stool in a gorgeous shade of violet purple? Based on the classic design by Xavier Pauchard, the Tolix stool offers not just a comfortable seating option, but a stylish one too. It’s made from sturdy galvanised metal and is rust proof, so if you want to take it outside in the summer you can do so safely.

***This is a collaborative post***

Christmas gifts and decor ideas from Lime Lace

November 13th, 2014

Fresh Design Blog reviews Christmas gifts from Lime Lace eclectic interiors

Lime Lace recently got in touch to introduce their shop and products. To be honest, we’d not come across them before (how?), but are impressed with their range and the quality of items. As Christmas is heading ever nearer, here are some of our top picks for Christmas gifts and decor ideas.

1. These have a bit wow factor to them, don’t they? The glitter peacock baubles will add a bit of sparkle to your tree. They’re £3.95 each.

2. We love the look of the white glass fox decoration. At only £2.95, it’s a bit of a bargain. As well as being ideal to hang on a Christmas tree, we rather like the idea of adding one of these as a decoration and extra present on Christmas gifts.

3. The white owl candle is gorgeous. It’s bigger and a lot heavier than we expected and looks like it’s been carved out of wood. Priced at £8.95 it’s ideal as a Christmas gift or a treat for yourself. If you don’t burn it, you’ve got a quirky home accessory to enjoy and one that will be appropriate all year round.

4. Everyone loves indulging in their favourite tipple at Christmas, so what better way than pouring it out of this large apothecary style Festive Spirit etched bottle? It’s a great gift idea for a hard-to-buy for recipient. It’s £56.

5. Dark nights bring out our need for candles and the frosty glass reindeer jar is very endearing. Pop some on your windowsill with tea lights inside, or add them to Christmas gifts, it’s a nice festive design you’ll use year after year. They’re only £7.95 each.

6. The large grey pine cone candle is so realistic – like the owl, it’s a bit too nice to burn! It’s £24.95.

Fresh Design Finds: Penguin inspired homeware and Christmas gift ideas

November 11th, 2014

It’s the time of year when adverts become the talk of the office. But not just any old ads – Christmas adverts!

John Lewis launched their Christmas ad last week, featuring Sam and his best friend, Monty the Penguin. The heart warming ad tells a tale of friendship, love and gift giving. Not surprisingly, John Lewis also have a range of penguin themed gifts and Monty memorabilia available.

We’ve been on the hunt to see what other penguin inspired homeware is available from other shops and designers…..and look what we found!

Fresh design penguin inspired homeware Christmas gift ideas

1. Drink your favourite beverage from these fun Mr Penguin stacking coffee cups – £45 from Jimboart

2. Invest in a designer metallic penguin lamp by Abigail Ahern – £85 (currently on offer for £68) from Debenhams

3. Decorate your home with these gorgeous plywood penguins – £13.99 each from Lindsay Interiors

4. Spruce up the look of a plain cupboard or drawer with this lovable penguin knob – £22.50 from Monty’s Vintage Shop

5. Give someone a special gift, in the form of a personalised penguin love linen cushion (very Monty & Mabel -esque!) – £30 from Tillyanna

6. Hang this colourful Mr Penguin balloon print on your wall – £16.95 from Showler and Showler

7. Enjoy this gorgeous standing penguins mixed media artwork – £80 by Heather Armitages Art

8. Let these two penguin book ends help prop up your books – £32 (currently on offer for £25.60) from Debenhams

9. Have a baby penguin in your home, with this realistic looking baby penguin photographic print cushion – £15 from M&S

In case you’ve not seen it (where have you been?! or want to see it again, here’s the John Lewis Christmas 2014 ad featuring #Montythepenguin


Included in the #loveyourhome linky:
Love Chic Living and Love Your Home

Contemporary Christmas flowers from Appleyard London

November 10th, 2014

Appleyard mulled wine table arrangement reviewed by Fresh Design Blog

Christmas has come early to Fresh Design HQ, with the arrival of a gorgeous Christmas themed table centrepiece.

The seasonal table arrangement is designed and created by Appleyard London, a luxury online flower delivery company.

It’s part of their Christmas flowers range, which features some stunning floral bouquets and arrangements for the festive season.

The table arrangement is the perfect addition to a Christmas dining table, but it looks equally lovely placed on a hearth (just move it if you’re lighting a fire!). Or you could simply have it displayed on a windowsill or shelf during the Christmas season.

Special 40% off discount code for Appleyard flowers

The mulled wine arrangement features grandprix red roses, festive pine cones and seasonal berries, along with fresh luscious greenery, including spruce, parvifolia eucalyptus and hard ruscus. It’s made complete by the addition of a creamy white candle carefully positioned in the centre.

As the run-up to Christmas can be hectic and good intentions to make your own table decorations may fall by the wayside, a ready made piece like this can make life easier.

It arrives carefully packed in a sturdy box, so all you need to do is unpack it, pop it on your table and, voila, you’ve got a fresh centrepiece that looks like you’ve spent hours putting together! (We won’t tell, if you want to pass it off as your own creation…).

Fresh Design Blog's mulled wine table decoration from Appleyard London

It’s striking and colourful, with the red roses set off by the deep green leaves and the berries and pine cones giving it a decidedly seasonal feel. The creamy white candle contrasts against the other colours and helps draw the eye in to the arrangement. It’s the perfect start and finish to Christmas table decorating – you don’t need anything else.

The rest of Appleyard’s Christmas flower range looks equally appealing. They create some gorgeous contemporary floral bouquets to suit a variety of colour schemes. We particularly like the look of these:

Contemporary Christmas flowers featured on Fresh Design Blog

Gold Leaf (on the left) features avalanche roses, berries and gold eucalyptus; Velvet Rose (in the middle) is bursting with red and pink roses, lilies and berries, whilst the Spirit bouquet (on the right) contains white avalanche roses, chrysanthemum blooms, scented lilies and green hypericum berries. Aren’t they all lovely?

Special reader discount offer from Appleyard

If you’d like to treat yourself to some flowers, or order some as a Christmas gift, then we’ve got a special discount code you can use.

Appleyard are offering a generous 40% off their entire range (excluding items from their flowers by post collection). Simply quote the code “BLOG40” when you place an order.

(Disclosure: Appleyard London provided a floral arrangement to review, but all views and opinions are our own).

Beautiful ideas for bedrooms

November 7th, 2014

From wild and whacky design ideas to interiors that scream tranquillity, when transforming your bedroom, there are a number of styles to choose from.

Bedroom designs don’t have to mean a complete refurbishment

Colourful bedding ideas from Asda

(Image credit)

Sometimes all it takes is a little tweak here and there to bring your bedroom back to life.

From colourful cushions to vibrant throws and eclectic wall art, small individual items can have as much impact on a room as an entire decoration overhaul.

Planning a bedroom renovation

(Image credit)

Planning a bedroom renovation is both an exciting and daunting procedure. If you’ve decided on a drastic makeover, now may be a good time check your home insurance policy.

If you feel you need a more comprehensive cover, you may wish to talk to a number of insurance providers to get a quote, including the likes of More Than home insurance quotes.

Calm and collected

Crisp and calm bedroom decor

The bedroom should be a haven of relaxation – somewhere you can wind down after a hard day in the office. If you find bright colours and patterns too stimulating, then you benefit from going down the calm and collected route.

Opt for cool, calming colour schemes and relaxing patterns and inject colour through accessories instead.

Choose a timeless style

How to create a calming bedroom

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Unless you’re prepared to redecorate your room every year, it’s wise to choose a timeless style and colour scheme. Anything too bright or too on trend may quickly go out of fashion.

Although overly showy prints look impressive, you may become bored of them after a while. Choose something you’ll hopefully love for a long time, or a scheme that could easily be updated at a later stage with new accessories, such as bedding or cushions.

Choose a theme

Modern and contemporary bedroom decor design

(Image credit)

If the rest of your home is extremely modern, it’s often a good idea to follow suit with your bedroom. This will allow one room to flow to the next.

If you ever decide to sell your house, having décor that runs seamlessly throughout is likely to boost your home’s overall sale potential.

Take inspiration from your travels

Travel inspired bedroom decor

(Image credit)

If you’re stuck for ideas when it comes to redecorating your bedroom, take inspiration from your travels. You may have brought back a certain sculpture, piece of jewellery or seen a particular style you admired in a hotel you’ve stayed at.

Use your travels to create your own style interpretation in your bedroom.

***This is a guest post***

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