Home entertaining: Flower design serving bowl

March 24th, 2014

Decorative serving bowls

It’s always useful to own some serving bowls, so you’ve got something at the ready when you’re entertaining. Of course, plain round bowls do the trick fine, but to serve nibbles in style, why not opt for something more decorative like this daisy flower design chip and dip bowl.

The white daisy petals are formed from five ceramic dishes and the look is completed with a yellow bowl that sits in the centre, acting as the centre of the flower head.

Home gift ideas

The ceramic bowl comes beautifully packaged in a yellow and white daisy shaped box, that you can store it in when not in use.

The daisy chip and dip bowl would be great to use at Easter, especially if you’re focusing on a spring theme, plus it would make a lovely gift. It’s available from Primrose and Plum.

Who’s a pretty Polly? Add a parrot to your wall

March 20th, 2014


Give a pet parrot a home

What a cheeky chappy this feathered friend looks like! If you’ve got a bare wall that needs to be livened up, why not add a wall hanging parrot?

This parrot won’t moult feathers or give you any cheek, it will simply hang on your wall and look a bit quirky. It’s made of ceramic, with a lively turquoise finish, and has a brilliant level of detail all over its body, head and feathers.

The parrot is available from Graham and Green for £20, which seems like a good price for an unusual piece.


Madras hand-blown glass tumblers

March 18th, 2014

Colourful hand blown glass tumblers

Add an explosion of uplifting colour to your glassware collection, with these gorgeous hand-blown glass tumblers.

The glasses are hand-blown in the south of France by glassmaker Julienne Daniaux, and available in the UK from The Conran Shop. We adore the glorious swirls of colour on each glass, which almost look like waves moving in the ocean.

The glass tumblers are available in two sizes and a choice of six lively colours – rose, blue, turquoise, violet, honey or orange. Create a set of one or two colours, or go all out and opt for a mix-and-match collection of multi-colour.

Find out more about Julienne Daniaux and buy the Madras tumblers at The Conran Shop.

Screen it off: Three useful room divider screens

March 16th, 2014

Screens and room dividers are one of those great inventions that can help hide clutter and create space in an instant.

If your home is open-plan, or you’re in a studio flat, and have to live with your living space melding into your kitchen, dining area or bedroom, then a screen can be useful item to have to divide the space. You can use it permanently to separate and define different areas, or use it occasionally on an ad hoc basis.

Screens are great for hiding messy corners and clutter, for example if you’ve not got enough storage space. Plus, with many lovely designs available, a screen can act as a decorative piece or form of artwork in its own right.

If you’re considering investing in a room divider screen, then here are three screens on the market.

Ikea Risor room divider

Wooden room divider screen

This large solid wood black and white room divider is a good buy at £80 and will have plenty of uses. It’s designed by Julia Treutiger for Ikea and can easily be folded down for storage when not in use.

Beach Hut canvas screen

Contemporary room screen

Be reminded of warmer days by the sea, and enjoy a pleasant view in your home, with this beach hut design screen. The photographic image is painted on canvas, and the screen can be folded up when not in use. It’s available from Furniture in Fashion.

Arthouse Lunar metal screen

Metal room divider screen

This Arthouse lunar metal screen isn’t the best option if it’s clutter you want to hide, due to its cutwork metal effect. But if you’re choosing a screen on the basis of elegance and design, or want to ensure that a screen doesn’t darken your room too much, then this is where it shines. The three panel metal screen is £150 from Wallpaper Direct.

Fresh Design idea: Rainmaker plant watering cloud

March 12th, 2014

Recycle plaster bottles into plant watering cans

Following on from the cork bottle stopper lights that we featured last week, here’s another nifty design idea we’ve spotted.

The rainmaker plant watering cloud transforms an ordinary empty plastic drinks bottle into a useful watering can.  It was created by Peleg Design and simply screws onto the top of the bottle, like a lid.

How to water houseplants

We’ve used similar bottle watering devices before, to drip feed plants in the garden (the watering device sits in the soil and slowly releases drips of water), but this idea is great for watering houseplants and potted plants. The design of the cloud means that you get a good sprinkling of water, like you would from a watering can, and for novelty factor, it looks like it’s raining!

At only £5.99 from Mocha, this is a brilliant buy – and loads more fun than simply buying a watering can.

Designed to succeed: A Fresh Design interview with Fiona Watkins, interior designer

March 10th, 2014

Over the last few years, Cheshire-based Fiona Watkins has seen her design business flourish from its low key, informal beginnings. Here she shares an insight into her design experiences, plus provides her top tips and tricks for adding contemporary style into period homes.

Image credit: Tigermoth Lighting

“I spent some time working in hotels, which gave me a sense of how design worked on a big scale,” she says. “Ever since then, I haven’t been afraid to use bold patterns and statement colours. Living in Holland was a fascinating glimpse into another culture, from a designer’s point of view. It’s helped to give me a different perspective on projects, to inject a little European style, and to understand what else is available.”

She describes her personal style as ‘bold and colourful’.

“I love colour – I think it’s something to do with living in Manchester now, where the skies are often grey for weeks on end. I’ll usually pick something special out for a room, whether it’s a dramatic wallpaper, a beautiful fabric, a bold rug, a piece of artwork or maybe something the client already owns, and build the design around it.”

The design process starts with a detailed talk with the perspective client to find out what they want to achieve.

“It’s really crucial to take your clients’ thoughts and ideas into account; my job is to advise, guide and suggest. I’ll give new clients a questionnaire to fill in, to encourage them to really think about how and when they use the space, although it’s the property itself that dictates what will work.”

Fiona’s current projects include a new cellar added to an existing house.

“As this cellar is being built partly under an existing property, we’ve faced all sorts of practical problems, not least how to link it to the house,” she laughs.

“As there’s little natural light, the staircase will be a modern glass atrium to maximise the light we have. We’re giving it a contemporary edge with flat stone walls, which will help marry up with the more traditional style in the cellar itself.

“Another work in progress is a Victorian house with a new kitchen extension constructed at the back. We’re opening up one side of the house to create a new sitting/dining/kitchen area, and that’s involved adding double doors from the beautiful original panelled hallway. We’ve gone for double doors that are part glazed, to give a feeling of light and space right through to the garden – it’s a real transformation.”

Tips and tricks for adding contemporary style 

If you’d like to give a period property a contemporary edge but need to keep the costs down, Fiona shares her tips for a low cost makeover.

  • Keep any period features where possible. You might be aiming for a contemporary style, but that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate the character of the room. Also, changing as little as possible will help keep your costs down – removing original features can also leave holes in walls or bring down showers of old plaster, leading to unforeseen re-plastering costs.
  • Paint everything the same colour! More specifically, paint the room with shades of the same colour. Companies such as Farrow and Ball and Little Greene have a great range of shades of one colour, such as beige, taupe, and cream, which help create a contemporary feel. If possible, I like to paint the floorboards as well. There’s a fine line between making a room feel boxy and cold and creating a feeling of space, so using varying shades of one colour helps keep a feeling of warmth. Painting the room one colour including dado rails and picture rails, removes lines and helps delineate the space, making the room feel more spacious.
  • Consider mixing surfaces textures – a wooden floor pairs well with the industrial look of steel, similarly the contrast of white gloss flooring and sleek dark kitchen units give a modern feel.
  • If you’re on a budget, you don’t have to buy all the latest modern furniture. Use older well loved pieces, but consider having them recovered or any damage attended to. A few well chosen items of furniture arranged in a modern way will give the space a contemporary look.
  • Painting the room in neutral colours means it’s a blank canvas. You can use really bold curtains, cushions and rugs, to add your personality and warmth and plain walls also provide a great backdrop to display pictures or a statement piece of artwork.
  • Lighting is really important, and you need to take into account the orientation of the room, the times of day you use it, what you use it for and the amount of natural light. Using lamps is an easy way to soften a room and make it feel cosier. Install dimmer switches so that you can tone down harsh overhead lighting and give a softer feel for evening. Mirrors are a great way of creating light in a dark room, and positioning a lamp in front of the mirror will reflect light back into the living space.
To find out more about Fiona and her work, please visit

Pooley 2 multi tube ceramic vase

March 6th, 2014

Contemporary multi ceramic vase

Why have a single bud vase when you could have eight?

This funky ceramic vase is a great design and a lovely alternative to a single vase. There are eight ceramic tube style vases built into the piece, offering room for up to eight flower stems or buds.

We love the random selection of multicoloured vases which, in their own right, look eye-catching. With spring blooms coming into flower, it’s the perfect time to bring some fresh flowers into your home.

The Pooley 2 eight tube ceramic vase is available from new shop on the block, White Mint, for £24.

Fresh Design idea: Cork bottle stopper light

March 4th, 2014

How to make a bottle light

Forget the old style empty Mateus wine bottles made into lamps (hands up who knows anyone who had one?)….here’s a novel idea for a quick and easy way of transforming glass bottles into  lamps.

There’s no major diy involved with this – all you need to do is buy these cork bottle stopper lights. Charge them up via a USB cable, pop them in your desired bottle and, voila, you have a light!

The lights will last for approximately 2.5 hours, then can simply be recharged again. You can use them with any bottle, from empty wine and spirit bottles, to decorative or coloured glass bottles.

If you’re having a party and want to create atmospheric lighting, these bottle stopper lights would be much safer to use than candles stuck in bottles. If you don’t want them to all run out at the same time, you could stagger turning them on, so the effect lasts longer into the evening.

They’d also be great for using at barbecues on summer evenings, or when having late night drinks outside. The options are endless.

A pack of three rechargeable cork wine bottle stopper lights costs £13 from Hunter Gatherer.


Unusual design Annie Get Your Coat stand

March 4th, 2014

Rifle design coat and hat stand

Nowhere to hang your coat and hat?

Invest in this Annie Get Your Coat stand and you’ll have something colourful on which to hang your outdoor kit. The name of the stand plays on the film Annie Get Your Gun, which makes sense when you look closely at the design.

The stand is made of laser cut steel, available in a variety of lively colours, and is available from Bouf.


Fab Friday Bargains: Furniture and home accessories

February 28th, 2014

Contemporary furniture and home accessories

It’s the last few days of the sale at Furniture Village (the sale ends on Sunday 2nd March), so this week’s Fab Friday Bargains are all from FV.

A lot of people know Furniture Village best for their range of sofas and chairs, but they actually sell a lot more than that. They have furniture for all rooms in your home, plus accessories to finish off your interior design and bring a new look room to life.

Here are some of our picks from their sale.

Top row: 

Round iron Rivet mirror

Large 1m wide Seaspray canvas wall art picture

Middle row:

Content by Conran Balance wooden occasional table

45cm square Flow scatter cushion

Tripod design floor lamp

Bottom row:

Uptown elliptical modern coffee table

Paris design screen room divider

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