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


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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

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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

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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

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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***

Four key bathroom furniture looks

November 6th, 2014

Gone are the days when bathroom furniture was only available in a limited number of styles, shapes and colours. Nowadays, there’s far more choice available, helping you to create a bathroom design that suits you. Here are four key bathroom styles that you can create in your home with the right bathroom furniture.

1. Earthy naturals

Earthy natural bathroom trend

If you’d love your bathroom to become a contemporary oasis of calm, whilst exuding an air of warmth, then perhaps opting for bathroom furniture in shades of earthy naturals might work for you?

Adding subtle shades of natural stone, slate and rock can add a contemporary touch to a bathroom. It’s a good option if you want to add a touch of colour and warmth to the room, but don’t want to go overboard on hue.

The Frontline Vitale range is designed to be sleek and slimline and has a lovely modern feel to it. The stylish furniture is available in earthy natural shades of natural stone and fossil grey, which help create an elegant look.

2. Contemporary sophistication

Contemporary sophistication bathroom decor trend

Recreate the feel of a sophisticated hotel style bathroom at home, using dark wood.

Deep, lush and moody, dark woods work wonderfully well in bathrooms. It’s lovely to incorporate wholly natural materials, but modern veneer finishes look equally impressive.

Used appropriately and combined with contrasting colours, dark wood won’t make a small room look even tinier. For example, pair bathroom furniture made of dark wood with natural stone tiling on the walls or floor. Try the Hudson Reed Horizon in mid sawn oak for a warm, mellow hue and modular functionality.

3. Pure simplicity

Pure simplicity fresh design bathroom decor scheme

For some, nothing beats the pure simplicity of white bathroom furniture. Clean white lines and glossy reflective surfaces help to make a small bathroom feel slightly more spacious.

White is a good colour to choose if you want to create the feel of a minimal spa at home too and, thanks to modern bathroom furniture effectively hiding all the pipework, you’ll end up with clean lines and an uncluttered feel. Options such as Tavistock Aspen fit the bill perfectly.

It’s a good choice too if you don’t have any set ideas about colour schemes, as keeping things simple gives you the option to add colour through décor at a later date. In the meantime, keep it all neutral or add hints of colour through bathroom accessories, such as fluffy bath sheets, hand towels and face cloths.

4. Bold colour

Fresh design top bathroom decor trends

Whilst the 80s favourite, avocado green, has sailed out of bathroom furniture fashion, adding pops of bold contemporary colour is a more modern alternative.

Choosing furniture featuring a bold colour helps take your decorating dilemmas out of the equation. You won’t have to worry about painting your walls as your furniture will provide the colour you crave.

To avoid the colour being overpowering, choose furniture such as Ultra Design Red that features a bold splash of colour on the front, coupled with a glossy white on the sides, providing a balanced look that’s easy on the eye.

***This post is in collaboration with Bella Bathrooms***

Animal antics: Fresh design gift ideas for children’s rooms

November 5th, 2014

Christmas gift ideas for children's rooms

Add a bit of cheer to a child’s room, with one of these animal inspired gifts! Some of them can be even be personalised to make them extra special.

1. We love this dino shelf – both practical and stylish. Personalised child’s dinosaur shelfie, £64 from By Numbers

2. Aren’t these rather quirky and fun? They’re made from wool, so no sharp bits to worry about. Upcycled wool animal wall plaques, £35 from Green Tulip Ethical Living

3. Give a younger child something to look at, with this cute mobile. Wooden woodland animals mobile, £17.50 from Posh Totty Designs Interiors

4. Help a child learn their animal ABC. Personalised animal alphabet print, £28 from Pepper Print Shop

A sparky event: Top ten picks for a Bonfire Night party

November 3rd, 2014

Make your Bonfire Night the talk of the town with these practical, stylish and useful picks.

1. Vacuum jug, Berry Red

Bright vacuum jug

This bright vacuum flask is glass-lined to keep your hot chocolate, mulled wine, spiced cider or coffee piping hot, ready for when you need to warm up. The screw-on lid means it won’t matter if it gets jostled or knocked over in the excitement.  Handwash only. Melamine outer with insulating glass lining. Available in a choice of colours, £15.95 from Berry Red.

2. Flash Harry torch, The Oak Room

Flash Harry torch

A decent torch is always a necessity on Bonfire Night if you don’t want to accidentally set fire to anything! This black aluminium ‘Flash Harry’ travel torch will add a suitably lighthearted note to the evening. Requires two AA batteries (not included). £4.99, The Oak Room

3. Bubblegum beaker, Orla Kiely

Orla Kiely beaker

Glass or ceramic beakers, children, darkness and the garden aren’t a good mix, but plastic or paper cups can be garish. Compromise with this stylish and durable Orla Kiely Linear Stem Bubblegum beakers, made from melamine in Orla’s trademark linear stem design.  £5.50 each, available from  Berry Red.

4. Dorso stacking stool, James Uren

Stacking stools

James Uren’s three-legged stools are so handy for extra seating, you’ll wonder how managed without them before.  Perfect for a Bonfire Night party, they come as a set of two, and can be stacked on top of each other for easy storage. Just keep them under the dining table or in the cupboard until they’re needed. £69 for two from MADE.

5. Recycled check wool blankets, Ellie Ellie

Recycled chic from Ellie Ellie

These recycled wool blankets are ideal for throwing round your shoulders to keep warm, spreading over knees if you’re seated or even using as impromptu picnic rugs. At only £24 from Ellie Ellie, they won’t break the bank either.

6. Outdoor lights garland, Out There Interiors

Outdoor garland

If the British weather doesn’t oblige on the night with a clear, starry display, create your own ambient lighting in the garden with this ‘Hallianna’ outdoor garland lighting. The 14.2 metre garland contains ten LED lights in a weatherproof rubber support, and is available in pink and black. £113 from Out There Interiors.

7. Garden lanterns, Kamla

Kamla garden lanterns

These elegant garden lanterns are ideal for illuminating a gateway, path, food table or just providing a bit of atmosphere. The recycled glass lantern is contained in a lattice wire holder which has a vintage rust patina and can be spiked into the ground. The lanterns come as a set of two, priced at £13.50, available from Red Lily.

8. Stag’s head serving platter, The Contemporary Home

Stag’s head serving platter

Add a bit of panache to your outdoor soirée this year with this stylish serving platter and bowl. Ideal for serving wrapped baked potatoes, parkin, treacle toffee and other seasonal treats, there’s also a bowl and napkins available in the same range. £17, available from The Contemporary Home.

9. Blue Duralex glasses, Berry Red

Duralex glasses

These Duralex Picardie glasses would be perfect for serving cold drinks on the night, such as wine, beer or something soft. Hardwaring and durable, they have a 22cl capacity and measure 8 x 8.5cm. Sold boxed as a set of six for £17.50, available from Berry Red.

10. Black and white stripe paper napkins, Toot Sweet

Striped paper napkins

You won’t lose these stylish paper napkins in the dark! In strong black and white stripes with a scalloped edge, they’re available as a pack of 20  for £4.25, available from Quince Living.

Dwell Coffer industrial style shoe storage cupboard review

October 31st, 2014

How do you store your shoes when you arrive home?

All too often shoes can end up in an unruly pile in a hallway, creating an unsightly look just inside the door. Or if you do have a shoe rack, they’re often an open style design, so all the shoes are still on sight, even if they’re on a rack.

At Fresh Design HQ, the extent of our hall shoe storage is this (thanks to an inherited shoe rack that the previous owners left behind):

Fresh design old unexciting shoe rack storage

Reasonably lined up, yes, but not that attractive a sight. And the nature of the shoe rack means that it takes up a fair bit of room in a small area that could be better used.

We’ve thought for a while that it would be nice not to have all the shoes on view all the time, especially as some aren’t in frequent use and are just stuck there hanging around on the rack. So when Dwell got in contact with details of their storage options, we were intrigued to try a more modern shoe storage system.

The Coffer shoe cupboard offers a more discrete way of storing shoes so that they’re out of sight, yet still easily accessible when you need them.

Fresh Design blog review of Dwell modern shoe storage cupboard

The unit is made of steel and has an industrial style feel to it. In fact, on first impressions, it’s reminiscent of a narrow filing cabinet. The one we tried has four compartments (a smaller version with three is available too) and it arrived fully assembled, so no DIY was involved to put it together (phew).

Unlike a filing cabinet, rather than being drawers that pull out, the compartments pull down, allowing shoes to be lined up inside. There’s a bar to keep them in place, so when you push the drawer back up, they stay in place inside in a vertical position. Pull it back down to open it up and, voila, your shoes are ready to take out and put on.

Fresh design review of Dwell storage rack

Unfortunately you can’t open one compartment at a time – they’re on a mechanism that opens all of them at once. Due to this, the unit needs to be screwed to a wall in order to ensure it remains stable when all of the compartments are filled with shoes and opened.

The product doesn’t come with screws supplied (the type of screw you’ll need depends on the type of wall you’re attaching it to), although there are two holes on the back of the item that can be used to screw it to a wall.

In the interests of thorough research and testing (ahem…) we can confirm that if you don’t screw it to a wall, and open it whilst it’s full of shoes, it will topple over. Not a pleasant experience, so we’d advise the use of screws as essential if you want a fully functioning and safe piece of furniture.

As far as tidying up an area of clutter and providing a neat and compact way of storing shoes, it ticks all the boxes. The unit design is narrow and sleek, so doesn’t take up too much room. In a hallway where space is often at a premium, this is definitely a good thing. Compared to the sight of the old rack, we much prefer the streamlined, minimal and tidy view of the Coffer shoe cupboard.

The guidelines suggest the unit can store eight pairs of shoes – two per compartment. It’s not a lot, but if you’ve got lots of little people (or people with little feet!), then you can squeeze in more.

The unit looks good in a hallway, but if you need to place it in another room in your home, then the white colour is unoffensive and it may just look like you’ve got a filing cabinet in a room.

However, if the white look isn’t for you, never fear. As it’s made of metal, we imagine it would be very easy to customise if you wished.

For example, through painting the drawers on the inside or out, adding labels or numbers to determine which shoes go where, or by using small wall decals to create a patterned look. These industrial style storage units might give you some ideas:

Fresh design industrial style storage cabinets

(Multi-coloured unit previously sold by Pedlars, but now out of stock; five drawer metal cabinet from Bodie and Fou and numbered metal industrial style storage unit previously available from Rockett St George, but no longer in stock).

The three drawer small Coffer shoe cupboard is currently in stock at Dwell and available for £119; other modern shoe storage options are available too.

(Disclosure: Dwell supplied the product to review, but all views and opinions are our own).


This post is included in the #loveyourhome linky:
Love Chic Living and Love Your Home

Baking accessories: YolkFish egg separator by Peleg Design

October 30th, 2014

Great design kitchen baking innovations

You know that feeling when you come across a kitchen or baking accessory that you can’t believe you’ve lived without? Meet the YolkFish.

The YolkFish is a cleverly designed gadget that helps you separate egg yolks from the white in an instant. No mess, no flecks of yolk left behind in the whites and no more unwanted bits of shell in eggs.

Designed by the folks from Peleg Design, the YolkFish uses the power of suction to quickly and effectively suck up all the egg yolk, leaving the white behind. For those of you who are fond of making meringues, for example, you’ll know only too well how even the tiniest speck of yolk can ruin a meringue mixture.

It’s a great idea and an essential kitchen accessory for bakers. What’s more, at only £8.95 this is one kitchen gadget you won’t regret buying.

Here’s the YolkFish in action, so you can see for yourself how easy it is to use:

Focus on daybeds: The perfect guest bed solution

October 29th, 2014

Using a day bed in a spare room or lounge

With high house prices driving people to purchasing smaller, more affordable houses, lots of home owners are looking for ways to maximise space without losing use or quality. If you’re trying to organise your home so it performs as many functions as possible then a day bed might be one solution.

When organising your home, you might find that you’re stuck deciding what function each room should have. Lots of people don’t use dining rooms nowadays, and this might give you an extra room to play with. Common uses for extra rooms are second lounges and extra bedrooms.

Second lounges are often popular as they allow for more space to relax. Often families find that people want to do different things at the same time – having a second lounge allows for this. Younger people who may be more likely to have friends visiting regularly might also find that having a second lounge means there’s more room for the additional people in the house. Extra bedrooms are also popular as they allow for a private space for your guests to stay.

So which should you have? A second lounge or an extra bedroom? How about both?

One way to achieve this would be to have a sofa bed – sofa beds generally fold out to become a temporary bed for your guests. One problem with sofa beds, however, is that the ‘bed’ often isn’t anywhere near as comfy as a normal bed. If you have regular guests then providing them with a ‘proper’ bed would surely be much better… but you still want that lounge space.

Not to worry, there’s a perfect solution that’s both stylish and functional – day beds.

Somewhat glamorous in style, day beds have the air of a chaise longue. They are like a bench that is also a bed – with a proper mattress. This means that you can choose whatever style and comfort level you require (and you can replace it when it gets old!).

During the day you can furnish the bed with cushions for relaxing and socialising, but at night it’s just as useful as a normal bed, with all the comfort and support you would expect from one.

With additional options such as day beds with trundles (for more than one guest), they’re definitely worth considering if you’re in search of a practical way to put guests up, without compromising on style the rest of the time.

***This is a guest post***

Unique home products and gift ideas from UncommonGoods

October 28th, 2014

Christmas gift ideas from UncommonGoods

Have you come across UncommonGoods?

UncommonGoods are a US company based in Brooklyn, New York. They specialise in selling handcrafted gifts and uniquely designed products that are “created in harmony with the environment, without harm to animals or people.”

They stock a great range of products, including items for the home and garden, for dining and entertaining and gift ideas for men, women and kids. As their name suggests, you’ll find items here that you won’t necessarily see elsewhere, which is great when you’re looking for gift ideas. Most of the products are created in the USA and up to one third of their collection includes products using recycled or upcycled materials.

From our point of view, they’re a really good find as their website has ideas for the home that are unusual and unique. And at a time when we’re in particularly looking for Christmas gift ideas, it’s definitely useful to know about (click here for shopping inspiration).

Amongst the products that instantly caught our eye was the Cheese & Crackers Serving Board.

Fab design cheese and crackers board reviewed by Fresh Design Blog

This board is fantastic and a great idea. Who serves cheese without crackers? Not us, for sure! It’s one of those snacks that instantly feels wrong without the other.

The board reflects this idea with a large ampersand (& shape) carved into it. The lines of the & are deep and designed to be used to serve crackers from. As you fill it up with crackers of all shapes and sizes, the ampersand shapes becomes more apparent. Here’s ours in action:

Fresh Design blog serves cheese and crackers

The board is made in Vermont from North American maple, with a teak oil finish, and it’s a good large size. There’s plenty of room around the ampersand for you to pop on your choice of cheeses, chutney, grapes or apples. It’s a good excuse to put out plenty of biscuits and, next time, we’ll be making the most of it with a varied selection of crackers.

When you bring out this board of cheese and crackers at the end of a meal, we’re sure it will be a talking point. It’s a lovely home-related gift and, given the style, design and quality of the piece, it’s well priced at £36.48.

The Unzipped Glass Zipper Bag is another of our top picks from UncommonGoods.

Novelty contemporary zip glass bag bowl

It’s a bit of a novelty item, in that it’s a glass object cleverly designed to mimic an open zip lock plastic bag. But there are plenty of ways you can use it too, so it’s much more than just a piece of art.

We love the idea of having this as a contemporary sweet bowl – wouldn’t it look great on a desk? Or you could serve chocolates in at Christmas, or fill it with nuts or other nibbles.

How to use an unzipped glass zipper bag or bowl in your home

We think it looks good used on display in a living room too. Try filling it with some seasonal items, like pine cones, or  a collection of brightly coloured glass marbles.

At just £12.54, it’s an ideal gift for a hard to buy for recipient (dare we say it, like some men). Fill it with their favourite sweets or chocolates, and you could be onto a winner.

If you’re concerned about ordering from a company based in the US when you’re in the UK, then you’ve nothing to worry about. In our case, our order was placed on a Friday afternoon and the parcel arrived the following Wednesday morning. Pretty speedy, we think. We were impressed by the packaging inside and out too:

Parcel received by fresh design blog from Uncommon Goods

…..and loved the little unusual shaped cardboard pieces that were included inside the box:

Fresh Design packaging from UncommonGoods

Overall, UncommonGoods is a great find. They’ve got loads of unusual and uniquely designed products for the home and have given us plenty of ideas to put on our wish list. Plus, they’re a good source for women’s and men’s present ideas too – why not have a browse of what’s available.

(UK product prices correct at time of publishing).


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