Fresh Design interview: Andrea McLean talks interior design

August 13th, 2016

Home makeover with gorgeous solid wooden doors and windows

For the last few months we’ve been working with the Wood Window Alliance to highlight the benefit of having wooden windows, as opposed to uVPC. Today we’re catching up with Andrea McLean, an ambassador for the company, to hear how she got into interior design.

How did you get into interior design?

It started out as a need rather than a vocation; I could only afford to live in places that needed doing up and redecorating. I didn’t have much money so I had to do it myself. So in my first flat I bought an end of line carpet off-cut and underlay and laid it myself. I painted the whole place, re-tiled the bathroom (I cut myself to shreds!), made pelmets for above the windows, and got a friend to help me lay new patio.

What are you currently working on?

I’m revamping my bedroom. It’s been a girly pale pink for 4 years, and its time for a change! I’m looking into painting my windows and having duo-colour – different colour on the outside to the inside. It always looks so chic. 

Can you tell us a bit about your home?

I live in a medium sized home. I have kept things simple, lots of grey and white and natural colours. I like the look of New England style homes, with shabby chic, white washed colours and big beautiful wood windows to let in lots of light.

What’s your favourite feature about your home?

My American-style porch. It was the best money I’ve ever spent as it makes me happy every day. It’s a wide wooden veranda painted in pale grey with up-cycled wicker furniture. I love it. I’m a fan of natural products in the home and I will always incorporate wood over plastic. It looks so much more beautiful; you really can’t get better, which is why I’m working with the Wood Window Alliance.

Why do you think wood windows are special?

They finish it off like a pair of beautiful shoes complete a wonderful outfit.  They can last twice as long as plastic alternatives and they are just stunning. I love that you can repaint them to match your interior design as and when you please.

How do you like to dress your windows?

I have white wooden shutters in every window. Some of my windows I’ve left with just the shutters, and others I’ve put curtains on poles over the top to finish the look. There is so much you can do with them, they’re incredibly versatile.

What are your tips for maximising light in the home?

Use light colours where possible, especially in areas with little natural light like the hall. It will make the room instantly bigger and brighter.

What design trends do you think are most popular this year?

Right now, festival chic, with its bright pops of colour, embroidery and beading. I love all of those quirky designs.

Have you got any styling tips for making a small space look bigger?

Keep it simple and get de-cluttering! Mess instantly makes somewhere look claustrophobic. Clever use of mirrors also works.

What are your interior design no-no’s? 

The worst thing I’ve seen was a bathroom that the home owner had painted gloss black. Everything, the floor, walls and ceiling were badly painted, poorly applied gloss black. It also had these horrible plastic windows that looked so dirty. I was convinced it had spiders in every corner – my worst fear – I never went back in there again!

~ Andrea is an ambassador for the Wood Window Alliance, which is committed to enhancing homes with beautiful energy-saving windows that you can rely on. For more information, visit

Precision cutting with Edge of Belgravia Professional knife set

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.

Unusual black diamond geometric knife block

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.

Professional ceramic knives for the discerning chef - from Edge of Belgravia.

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.

Cook like a pro, with precision professional knives from Edge of Belgravia

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.

Vote for Fresh Design Blog as Best Design Inspiration Blog in the Amara Interior Blog Awards 2016 IBA

Glossy accents: Metallic home accessories

August 9th, 2016

Metallic home accessories are still very popular and widely available. If you still can’t get enough of metallics, here are some ways to add some shine, colour and interest into your home through the use of contemporary accessories with a metallic touch.

Gorgeous handmade textured floating copper shelf - display accessories in style at home.

Add a touch of opulent copper to your home, with a stunning hand finished floating copper shelf – £108 from Mr J Designs.

Wall art with a difference - metal words in script lettering to hang on your wall

Hang a metal coloured script word on your wall (choose from laugh, love, dream, sparkle, be happy and bon appétit)  – £9.95 from Letteroom.

Gorgeous and super colourful metallic coconut bowls - perfect for serving nibbles in

Serve food such as nibbles, olives or dips in a bright and colourful metallic coconut bowl – £12 each from Nom Living.

Update your cushions with a new metallic cushion cover - love this shine one

Bring new life to an old cushion, with a metallic shine cushion cover –  £19 from Bespoke Verse.

Stunning retro style rotary dial phone in a fab metallic copper finish

Make calls in style, with a retro 746 copper rotary phone – £79 from The Best Room

Unusual gift idea - metallic personalised favourite song sound wave print

Celebrate your favourite song, with a metallic sound wave print to hang on your wall – £30 from House of Yve.

Multi functional Ayia golden metal pot from Henry and Future

Display flowers, store pens or even makeup brushes, in a beaten golden metal pot - £15 from Henry & Future.

Stylish geometric design ceiling pendant light to add a contemporary touch to your home

Light up a room with a Nordic style geometric ceiling pendant light – £99.95 from Made With Love Designs Ltd.

Fresh Design Finds: Stylish shower curtains

August 2nd, 2016

Shower in style, with a fresh new shower curtain. Designs and prices to suit all budgets

So often shower curtains can be the element that lets a bathroom down – not least when they’re old, manky and mouldy.

If you’ve not changed your shower curtain in ages, or are keen to brighten up your bathroom, then why not add a fresh new shower curtain?

There are lots of stylish shower curtains available from photographic prints that give you a view to look (perfect if you don’t even have a window in your bathroom), to adorable prints and quirky animal designs.

Here are our top shower curtain finds, featuring a mix of fab budget friendly high street buys and higher priced designer styles.

A. Boho style illustrative llama shower curtain – £30, online only at Urban Outfitters

B. Tvingen shower curtain – £6 from Ikea

C. Paris lamps fabric shower curtain – £65 from Ruby & B

D. Landscape photographic print shower curtain – £19.99 from H&M

E. Grey damask shower curtain – £8 fromGeorgeHome

F. Blanchetta floral shower curtain by Lulie Wallace – £78 from Anthropologie

G. Milly medallion shower curtain – £40 from Urban Outfitters, online only

H. Zebra anti-mould shower curtain by Wenko – £62.99 from Wayfair

I. Beach huts shower curtain – £9.99 from Dunelm

What’s your favourite?


Create your own home fragrance with Bolsius Aromatic Creations

July 27th, 2016

Create your own home fragrance with a Bolsius Aromatic Creations burner and wax melts

We’ve written about the power of fragrance in the home before, and how different scents can lift the mood. But have you ever wished you could create your own perfect home scent?

Bolsius Aromatic have come up with a nifty idea that can enable you to do just that. Their Creations wax melt burner set comes with a porcelain burner, plus a collection of nine wax flowers. The flowers have six petals each and are designed to be broken up and mixed together. All you need to do is pop a night light style candle underneath, and away you go.

How to create your own unique home fragrance

The burner comes with suggestions for scent combinations to get you started. For example, mixing a piece of green apple, exotic mango and sweet strawberry melts creates a fruity happy scent. Or a piece of sandalwood, velvet rose and French lavender creates an ideal mix for a balanced mood.

Of course, you don’t have to stick to these mixes and you can use as many, or as few, petals as you wish depending on how strong you’d like the fragrance to be and how long you’d like it to last.

The ceramic burner is nicely designed, with plenty of room to place a candle underneath and a good sized bowl on top to hold the wax melts. It’s a nice idea and good for using to get rid of lingering food smells in the kitchen, or help lift the atmosphere in a living room, bathroom or bedroom.

According to Bolsius Aromatic, if you use a combination of three Creations wax melts, your scent will last for between four and six hours. If you used between three and five pieces, it could last up to 10 hours.

A cream ceramic Bolsius Aromatic Creations oil burner set with nine wax melts in a range of scents is available to purchase from Amazon for £12.99.

Top ups of wax melts can be purchased on an individual basis online from Candle With Care, where they’re only 40p each, or cheaper if you buy more than eight.


How to Furnish the Perfect Rental Property

July 26th, 2016

How to furnish a rental property for tenants

If you’re a landlord, you’ll know that there’s a lot of work to be done when it comes to how you present and market your property. Part of this, of course, is whether or not you furnish it – and if you do, in what way.

This special guest post provides some ideas on how to furnish your rental property so that it’s the perfect combination of functional, attractive and a wise investment on your part.

First – take a look at your rental property and consider its location

Have you bought a residential flat on a site (such as the kind developed by the First Urban Group) within commuting distance of a major city? In that case, it’s quite likely that your potential tenants are going to be young professionals.

On the other hand, if your rental property is a home in a suburban area with links to schools, shops and amenities, it might appeal to families, couples and students.

You’ll need to know who you’re marketing it to, as the demographic will determine how you furnish a property.

For instance, a young professional is probably going to want functional, modern furniture that looks the part: leather look sofas, white walls and a flat screen television are must-haves.

On the other hand, families might expect to see a cosy living area, adequate storage for all their belongings and a well-equipped kitchen.

Second – don’t spend too much money

Tips and ideas for furnishing a rental property ready for tenants to move in

Most tenants will be respectful of your furniture, but there’s always the risk that something will get broken, damaged or stolen.

In fact, just general wear and tear is to be expected, so invest in items that are robust enough for renters but not so expensive that it’ll cost you too much when things need replacing.

Shops like IKEA offer good quality furniture without breaking the bank, and they’ll also be modern enough in design to make your rental look attractive to a wide range of people.

Third – don’t add anything of sentimental value

How to furnish a rental property

Similarly to the point above, be mindful of the fact that you’ll be losing control over the contents of your rental property once you let it to tenants.

So, if there’s anything of sentimental value to you, remove it from the property before you let anyone move in. It could get lost or damaged, and while you’ll have home and contents insurance, your precious belongings are going to be priceless and impossible to replace.

Fourth – be open to change

With more and more people renting in the long term, landlords are going to need to be flexible about tenants needing more control over furniture.

Many tenants will want to make the property feel like their home if they’re staying for a long time, so be open-minded about swapping some of your furniture for theirs.

If your tenants ask to move their own sofa in, for example, consider storing yours in cheap self-storage until you’re able to find another permanent home for it.

Just be sure to update your inventory whenever you move furniture in or out of the property, ensuring that tenants stay responsible for keeping items in good repair.

(All images courtesy of Pixabay) 

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