Edge of Belgravia: Black Diamond knife block and Precision knives

November 16th, 2015

Unusual black diamond geometric knife block

Looking for a home gift for a design-conscious bachelor who enjoys cooking? The Edge of Belgravia’s Black Diamond knife block and knives could fit the bill.

This is a knife block like no other – it’s modern, funky, sleek and unusual. When it comes to knife blocks, you don’t normally expect them to be like a piece of art in their own right. But this one is.

Modern black diamond designer knife block set

As its name suggests, the design is based on the shape of a rough-cut diamond. The concept was created by London designer, Christian Bird, and it’s aimed at being a modern and daring knife block.

With a typical knife block, the knives slot in so that blades are hidden. But in the case of the Black Diamond block, the knives slot in and ‘float’, so that the blades are all still visible within the cut-out diamond shaped block.

Edge of Belgravia modern knife block gift idea

The Black Diamond has slots for storing 11 knives, but is sold as it is without any knives. It retails for £89.90 direct from Edge of Belgravia (RRP £99.90). The Precision collection of designer knives, also designed by Christian Bird, is perfect for using with it.

Edge of Belgravia Precision knives

Each of the knife blades have been created with precision in mind. They’re made of coated stainless steel, with a non-stick blade coating. The handles coordinate with the Black Diamond holder, with their gemstone-inspired facet shape.

The complete set of Precision chef knives consists of four pieces – a bread knife, chef’s knife, pairing knife and deba knife (the latter is inspired by traditional Japanese salmon knifes, but ideally suited for cutting fish, vegetables or fruit).

We were impressed by the quality of the cutting ability of the knives. The handles were comfortable to hold and the unique knife blades cut through items with ease, making food preparation a doddle.

The Precision knife set is available for £69.90, or the knives can be purchased individually. Products are can be purchased direct from Edge of Belgravia, or from retailers such as Amara or Selfridges.

The Fresh Design verdict

Overall, the Black Diamond is an unusual and distinctive knife block design and would definitely look at a home in a design conscious modern kitchen.

From a safety point of view, the design does make it impractical for use in a family kitchen, as a child could easily put their fingers through the open side of the block base and access the knife blades.

Likewise, it’s also important to be aware of the safety side of things if you’re moving the block around the kitchen, for example as you prepare food, as it would be easy for a finger to accidentally slip as you carried it.

That aside, if it’s a stylish piece that would take pride of place in a bachelor pad – either for regular use or simply for looks – then it certainly does fit the bill. The Precision knife set is the ideal accompaniment and there’s plenty of room in the block for additional knives, so you could add to your collection at a later date.

For more details about Edge of Belgravia, follow them on Twitter or check out their Instagram feed.

(Disclosure: We were sent these items to review, but all views and opinions are our own).

Questions to ask when purchasing products to remodel your bathroom

November 12th, 2015

Questions to ask when remodelling your bathroom

Remodelling your bathroom requires a great deal of time, thoughtful planning, and a budget that helps to control your spending. There are a myriad of questions that you should ask yourself and suppliers as you begin to make decisions about your new home improvement project.

To help you ensure you’re prepared to ask the right questions when the time arrives, this guest post offers a guide to some of the top questions to ask that will help you focus on what you want and balance that with what you can afford.

1. Is there a showroom available where you can view products that may be needed for your project? Keep in mind that for competitive pricing of a shower cabin, bathroom suite, or other fixtures needed, shopping at an online website may help you to find more affordable prices.

A good website will provide you with all of the information that you need about products and a helpful staff that can answer your queries straight away.

2. Will there be a delivery charge? If you’re shopping online, be sure to read all of the information contained in the Delivery Section so that you know how much to add to the cost of your products for shipping. This can impact the selection you make if you are remodelling on a budget.

3. How long will it take to get your items? The experts at suggest that you deal with a supplier that can provide you with a reliable delivery service.

Be sure to ask about insurance cover for your items that are being shipped, and how you to handle any problems with your shipment.

4. You should also ask about what method of payment is accepted by the supplier that you choose. Can you pay over the telephone? Will they accept a bank transfer? Can you use PayPal for items that you have chosen?

Knowing how you can pay can help you to choose the items that you want and pay for them stress-free without any hassles.

5. Does the supplier you like offer any promotions or discounts on their products? How often does their inventory go on sale? How will you get answers to your queries if you don’t understand a particular feature of a shower or whirlpool tub?

Asking questions before you purchase any item for your bathroom remodelling project can save you a great deal of time, stress, and money.

6. Will your supplier offer you a loyalty programme where you can collect points to use toward future purchases? This is an ideal way to get the items that you need now and use the points you gain for other projects that you want to do in your home. It will also be important to know how you can track your loyalty points and maintain a count of what you have available to use on your next purchase.

(Image courtesy of

Solid oak furniture for a modern industrial living room

November 11th, 2015


Modern industrial style living room

(Image via DigsDigs)

If you love the modern industrial style, there are plenty of ways to create this look in your home. Whilst metal furniture, such as cabinets and drawers, are often associated with the industrial look, wood can play a big part too.

It’s great to be able to source original industrial lighting and furniture and give it a new life in your home, but it’s not always possible to find the right pieces for your interior design. The right choice of new furniture can be just as effective in creating the look you want and one useful direction to explore is solid wood, such as oak.

Industrial style living room

(Image via DigsDigs)

If you look at industrial style living rooms, there’s normally some element of wood to be found. For example, in the form of open shelves, wooden coffee tables, a lamp table or console unit. Oak is a great choice to use, as the colour of the natural wood looks lovely and solid oak furniture is built to last.

In addition, oak furniture is strong, durable, functional and, perhaps best of all, there’s no nightmare flat pack self-assembly to have to tackle. If you order it online, it’s delivered to your door or brought into your home and all you have to do is find the right spot for it and put it to instant good use. Bliss compared to flat pack hell!

Matrix collection solid oak wood wide bookcaseMatrix collection solid oak wood coffee table

I really like the Matrix oak living room furniture collection from the Oak Furniture Company and think many of the pieces would work perfectly in an industrial style living room.

The Matrix Oak wide bookcase, with its numerous open shelves, looks perfect. It’s a good solid piece with plenty of storage options, but the open shelves help it feel more modern. It would look right at home in an industrial loft style living room, with bare brick walls behind (or brick effect wallpaper, for the discerning decorator).

To complete the room look, I’d team it with a worn leather sofa, the Matrix oak coffee table, a black and white bus blind style piece of art, a mix of black and white cushions and accessories such as metal effect lighting and candle holders.

Here’s an idea of how the pieces could work together:

Industrial style living room idea

1. Vintage leather two seater sofa – Old Boots Sofas

2. Delwara cotton cushion – Reason Home

3. British landmarks bus blind framed print – The Binary Box

4. Industrial copper pendant light – FactoryLux

5. Fine Décor distinctive red brick wallpaper – I Love Wallpaper

6. Matrix oak coffee table – Oak Furniture Company

7. Matrix oak wide bookcase – Oak Furniture Company

8. Vega lantern – Henry & Future

9. Use your wings cushion – Rocket St George

If you’d never considered incorporating oak furniture into an industrial style interior, then hopefully you’ll think again. It really is a versatile type of wood that works in a variety of different interior settings, from traditional to modern.

***This is a collaborative post***

Great or gluttonous? Alternative Advent Calendars for adults 2015

November 8th, 2015

Advent calendars for adults 2015

There used to be a time when advent calendars were traditional and all about Christmas – the Nativity and Christmas story. Plus, they were mostly aimed at children.

We’d count down the days to Christmas by opening a door of a pictorial calendar, getting excited to find a smiling angel, donkey or shepherd peering back out.

Over the years, though, Advent Calendars have got so much more commercialised. Chocolate treats became a familiar sight on opening the daily calendar door and all sorts of brands developed calendars with no resemblance to tradition.

Now the advent calendar world has gone one step further and there are  umpteen Advent Calendars filled with products and aimed at adults. Beauty products, candles, gin, tea, beer, cola, beard products, you name it, there’s  a calendar with it in (even remote control helicopter parts, would you believe?). And some of them come with a pretty hefty price tag.

It does beg the question, though….has it all got a bit gluttonous? Especially given that it’s the run up to a season that’s meant to be all about giving gifts to other people, not yourself.

Or should we be counting down the December days, and easing the stress of the hectic-run up to Christmas, by treating ourselves to a daily advent calendar gift?

If you’re intrigued by the alternative calendars available, here’s a rundown of some of the top calendars filled with home, garden, DIY, food and drink related products.

1. Wax Lyrical Colony Advent Calendar

Wax Lyrical Colony Christmas countdown advent calendar

Nestled behind the doors of this triangular Wax Lyrical Colony advent calendar are 24 best-selling scented tealight candles and a glass tealight candle holder. They’re all in festive scents, so you could be getting into the Christmas spirit throughout December. It’s £22 from House of Bath.

2. Gin Advent Calendar

Gin themed Christmas advent calendar

Tis the season to….drink gin? If this rings true for you, then let us present the Gin Advent Calendar. Produced by The Gin Foundry,  the calendar contains 24 different types of gin, from market leaders to rare artisan brands. You can order it from Firebox for £114.99.

If gin (or whisky or beer – see below) doesn’t float your boat, there’s also a rum, vodka or Naga chilli vodka advent calendar available. You certainly could be feeling very jolly by Christmas with these!

3. Yankee Candle Snow Globe Advent Calendar

Yankee Candle snow globe design Christmas advent calendar  2015

Yankee Candle have several designs of Advent Calendars available, but one of the new ones for 2015 is this snow globe. It contains 24 tea light candles and one sampler. Available from House of Fraser, for £24.99.

4. Yankee Candle Carousel Advent Calendar

Yankee Candle carousel design 2015 advent calendar

If the snow globe style calendar doesn’t appeal, then another option from Yankee Candle is the carouse Advent Calendarl. The calendar contains 20 tea lights and four votives in appropriately Christmas themed scents. It’s available from Amazon for £25.46.

5. Seed Advent Calendar

Seed advent calendar for gardeners

Here’s an advent calendar with gardeners or would-be gardeners in mind. Produced by Seedlings Cards, the seed advent calendar helps you count down to Christmas with packets of seeds. There are 24 packets of seeds and gardening wisdom. You have to do a little bit of DIY with this one – it comes with envelopes, pegs and red and white twine, so you can hang and peg the envelopes up. It’s £29.95.

6. Beer Advent Calendar

Best of British Beer advent calendar 2015

Maybe a beer a night is the secret to a successful Christmas? The Best of British Beer Advent Calendar comes in the form of a 3ft cardboard Christmas tree and contains 24 craft beers. It’s £99 from Amazon.

7. Whisky Advent Calendar

Drinks by the dram whiskey tasting Advent Calendar

Or perhaps a daily dram of whisky helps advent go smoother? The Drinks by the Dram Advent Calendar is filled with 24 3cl drinks, from top producers around the world. £149.95 from Amazon.

8. DIY tools Advent Calendar

Wera DIY tools Christmas advent calendar 2015

Are you a fan of DIY, or just getting into it? You could build up or add to your essential tool kit with the Wera tool themed Advent Calendar. The set contains 23 high quality tools, plus a textile bag to pop them all into. The rrp is £105, but it’s available for £49.95 from the UK Tool Centre.

9. Diptyque Advent Calendar

Luxury Diptyque candle and fragrance advent calendar from Selfridges

Luxury Parisian company, Diptyque have produced an advent calendar available exclusively at Selfridges. It contains a selection of luxurious candles, fragrances and creams. It’s a mere £250.

10. Fortnum’s Wooden Tea Advent Calendar

Wooden tea lovers advent calendar from Fortnum and Mason

For tea fans, you could be sipping on a selection of rare teas from India and Far East throughout December. The wooden tea filled calendar is £125 from Fortnum and Mason.

11. Arran Aromatics Cherish Advent Calendar

Arran Aromatics Cherish advent calendar with home and body treats

The Arran Aromatics Cherish advent calendar is filled with treats for your home and body. It’s available for £40 at John Lewis.

12. Busy Bee Candles Advent Calendar

Busy Bee Candles Christmas advent calendar

Love scenting your home with fragrance? The Busy Bee Candles Christmas Advent Calendar is filled with 24 different high strength wax melts, so your house could be very aromatic in the run-up to Christmas. The calendar is £19.99 from Busy Bee Candles.

13. Biscuit Advent Calendar

Alternative biscuit advent calendar by Honeywell Bakes

Munch your way to Christmas, with the biscuit advent calendar. Not just any old biscuits, of course – these are hand-decorated, seasonally themed biscuits. They come in a lovely keepsake tin and the final biscuit – the special Christmas one – can be personalised with the name of the recipient. Available from Honeywell Bakes, for £25.

14. Advent Calendar of Coffee

Countdown to Christmas with an advent calendar of coffee

Perhaps the perfect solution to go with the biscuit calendar is the advent calendar of coffee. This one is from Imperial Teas (who really do specialise in coffee too) and includes 25 freshly roasted coffees to take you through advent. Each packet provides three cups / one mug of coffee, plus they include two larger packets of seasonal favourites so you can share with a friend. If you need extra caffeine to get you through to Christmas, this could be the one for you. It’s £33.

15. Advent Calendar of Tea

Advent calendar of tea from PostTea

You can’t beat a good old British cup of tea a day and perhaps it could be the perfect antidote to staying sane until Christmas? This Advent Calendar of Tea is a tad more affordable than the Fortnum and Mason version and contains 24 sachets of luxurious loose leaf tea. Each sachet has enough for two cups of tea, so you can either hog them both yourself, or share them. The tea advent calendar is £39.50 from PostTea.

16. Liberty London Advent Calendar

Luxury Liberty London bath, body and beauty advent calendar

Liberty go in for advent calendars in style and the 2015 one is no exception. Strictly speaking it’s beauty-themed, but it does include a few home-related products, such as a luxury Diptyque Figuier candle, Byredo Parfums Eal D’Afrique hand cream and a liberty print soap (perfect for use in your bathroom or cloakroom, to wow visitors). Eleven of the products are full-sized, with the rest being deluxe samples. Overall they say there are £400 worth of products in total. The calendar itself costs £149 and it’s available exclusively at Liberty.

So, what do you think – are advent calendars for adults great or gluttonous? Will you be buying one this year? Share your views in the comments below.

Quirky wall shelves for distinctive storage

November 5th, 2015

Liven up your storage solutions with these quirky wall shelves!

Funky fire escape design wall shelf unit

The humble fire escape design has been transformed into a cool shelf unit. Designed to be wall mounted, it’s made from coated steel and provides plenty of space to display your favourite home accessories. Available from Lindsay Interiors.

Cute birdy wall shelf

Celebrate a love of birds, with this birdy shaped wall shelf. It’s made of metal and finished in a lovely shade of green. There are several shelves within the unit and it could be ideal to hang on the wall in a child’s room or nursery. Available from I Love Retro.

Quirky wooden multi tier shelf unit  from I Love Retro

This solid wood corner display shelf is hand made from Douglas Fir and provides an unusual multi-shelf arrangement. The tiered effect is really striking and it’s a great place to store your favourite things. It’s available from Lime Lace.

Moby Dick style whale design quirky wall shelf

How about a deep sea creature on your wall? This quirky whale design wall shelf has multiple shelves, which are attractively decorated. Great for livening up the wall in a child’s bedroom. Available from All Things Brighton Beautiful.

Make your own cinder toffee this November 5th

November 4th, 2015

Along with toffee apples, treacle toffee and parkin, cinder toffee is a traditional treat for Bonfire Night. It’s a great project to make with children, and the process of making it is an appealing mixture of science and magic. If you haven’t tasted it before, it’s best described as ‘the inside of a Crunchie bar’ – a beguiling mixture of chewy and crunchy. Here’s how to make your own!

What you’ll need

  • 160g Demerara sugar
  • 160g caster sugar (you can use all caster sugar, but adding the Demerara gives a more caramelised taste)
  • 60ml golden syrup or runny honey
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda

You’ll also need a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and ideally, a sugar thermometer. Don’t use too small a pan, as the mixture will treble in volume at the end and if you’ve used too small a pan will overflow onto the counters, monster-from-the-black-lagoon style.

Homemade cinder toffee should be chewy, crunchy, not too sweet and full of bubbles. Photo: Londonsista/Wikimedia Commons/public domain

How to make cinder toffee

Put all the sugar plus the water, butter and syrup into the pan, and heat them very gently until the sugar has completely dissolved. Don’t rush this stage, as burning sugar means you’ll have to bin the mixture and start again, and good luck getting it out of the pan!

Stir with a wooden spoon, and when you can no longer hear the sugar granules scraping against the bottom of the pan turn the heat up very slightly and bring the mixture to the boil.

Let it simmer for around 12 to 15 minutes until the temperature reaches 140 degrees on a sugar thermometer – it should also turn a nice rich golden brown colour.

If you do heat it to a hotter temperature it will still work but might be more brittle – take care not to burn it, as well. Adding water to the mixture stops the toffee becoming too hard and brittle.

If you don’t have a thermometer, you can do a good old-fashioned ‘drop test’ – once the mixture has turned golden brown, drop a little spoonful into a bowl of cold water.

Remove the hardened droplet and break it to check the texture – if it’s hard and crunchy the toffee is ready, if it’s still soft and sticky it needs more cooking.

Cinder toffee is what gives Cadbury’s Crunchie its distinctive honeycomb taste. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/public domain

Meanwhile, prepare the tin. You’ll need a 20cm square tin, and grease it very generously with butter (this is so the finished toffee turns out easily. Don’t base line it with greaseproof paper, or it will stick to the toffee! If you do want to line it, foil works better.)

When the mixture reaches the right temperature, take it off the heat and quickly tip in the bicarbonate and whisk it in thoroughly.

This is the exciting/magical bit, when the mixture will bubble up like a volcano, triggered by the heat of the sugar.

This is what puts all the bubbles into the toffee. If you’re making this recipe with young children, let them tip in the bicarbonate but do the stirring yourself in case any specks of hot sugar fly out.

Amongst treacle toffee, parkin and sparklers, cinder toffee is a traditional favourite. Photo: Pixabay

Pour it into the tin, smoothing it well out into the corners. Leave it to set for 10 minutes or so then score it into largish squares. Leave it to set completely, then turn it out and break it into pieces.

If you want to increase the Crunchie flavour, drizzle the squares with melted chocolate.

By Sara Walker


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