Off the wall: How to choose and use wall coverings

June 7th, 2016

If you’re planning some home improvements, adding a coat of paint or some new wallpaper is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to give a room a facelift. These days, though, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to wall coverings. Here’s a guide to some of the options available.

Feature walls

Sepia bookcase wallpaper

Make a statement by using a feature wallpaper on one wall, such as this trompe d’oeil sepia bookcase print, produced in the UK by Mineheart.

Papering just one feature wall is much easier than tackling a whole room, and means you can change the character of the space quickly and easily. This paper is printed on to 300 gram fabric-backed textured paper and costs £70 for a 250cm by 50cm roll from IN-SPACES.

Texture effect wallpaper

Scrapwood wallpaper by Piet Hein Eek

If you like the look of stone or wood cladding, but don’t have the budget for the real thing, you can now buy printed wallpaper in almost any finish from planks and industrial concrete to stone, brick and rustic logs.

We like this Scrapwood design by Dutch designers Piet Hein Eek, featuring a photographic print of reclaimed wood cladding.  It has no pattern repeat so it’s very easy to apply. £199 for a 48.7cm x 9m roll from The Orchard.

Self-adhesive wall panels

‘Calm blue waters’ self-adhesive wall panel

If DIY isn’t your thing, you can use self-adhesive panels to achieve a simple yet dramatic effect, fast. We like this ‘calm blue waters’ view, available in two different lengths and various panel combinations.

If you make a mess of putting it up, you can even take it down and start again or move it to another wall. Prices start from £35 per panel, from IN-SPACES.


Using fabric on the walls can really transform a room, adding a touch of opulence. It’s not as robust as paint or paper, so is best used in rooms with a lower volume of traffic such as dining rooms.

If you choose a washable fabric, you should be able to remove any marks by sponging. Delicate fabrics such as silk will need to be mounted onto a lightweight wooden frame, screwed to the wall. More heavy duty fabrics like fun fur or even artificial grass can hung from a wooden batten and stapled or glued into place at the sides.

Wall stickers

Children’s butterfly and dragonfly wall stickers

Another easy way to add interest is to paint a wall a neutral colour then add wall stickers or decals, such as these pretty butterflies and dragonflies which look great used in kid’s rooms.

There’s a huge range of wall stickers available, from children’s fairytale castles to silhouettes of the Eiffel Tower, and many can be re-positioned and moved around if you want to change the effect. They couldn’t be easier to apply – just slap them on the wall! Prices for these butterflies start at £20 from Koko Kids.


Scrabble wall tiles

Tiles are normally used in kitchens and bathrooms, but also work well as a feature wall in other rooms. T

hey make a very hard wearing and durable wall covering, and can be a good choice for rooms with a lot of traffic such as hallways and boot rooms. To avoid a clinical look, use patterned, textured or brightly-coloured tiles, either interspersed with plain ones or on their own.

We like these Scrabble tiles, £4.95 each from Walls and Floors – they’d be ideal for spelling out ‘COATS’ above a hallway coat rack, for example.


Paint can be one of the most cost effective ways of changing the look of a room, and modern colours and finishes mean you’ll be spoilt for choice.

To choose a colour, try your sample pot in various different spots around the room to see it in different lights, and check at different times of day as well.


5 Top Tips for Finding Your Dream Home

June 2nd, 2016

The Orchards Barratt West Midlands new home development

Are you thinking of moving out of your current home or even buying your first one? Well, no doubt you’d like to snap up the house of your dreams… but do you know how to do it and where to start? Here’s five top tips to help you find ‘the one’.

1. Decide what your ‘dream home’ looks like

Is your dream home a country cottage nestled deep in the hills of the rolling countryside? Or is it a bright and airy modern pad in the heart of a bustling city?

Either way, you’re going to need to identify what it is that makes your chest ache when it comes to finding ‘the one’, as well as taking ‘logical’ steps toward securing it by writing down your list of priorities.

This will help you to narrow your focus and ensure that you’re only spending time and energy on the right kind of property.

2. Evaluate what spaces are most important to you

The second bit of soul-searching you’ll need to do is to question how you want to use a house.

If you’re a budding chef, it’s likely that a property is only going to have the potential to be your dream home if it has a generous kitchen area.

On the other hand, if you’re hoping to run a business on the side and need a work station in your home, a workshop or garage space is likely to be essential.

Decide on how you’d like to use the space within a property to help you see what’s important.

3.  Be clear on your budget

If you’ve lots and lots of money to spend, you might not be limited by a property’s price tag.

However, for most buyers, there is an upper limit. So, don’t be tempted to view a property that is well above your budget – you’ll only end up feeling resentful or frustrated that you can’t afford it, and the properties you can afford will begin to look a bit lack lustre!

Of course, it might be OK to consider homes above your budget in case the seller is prepared to negotiate on the asking price, but try not to get too swept away with properties that are well above your means.

4. Decide if you want to do any renovations

It’s OK if you want a house that’s completely ready to move into without having to so much as open a tin of paint, but bear in mind that the house of your dreams could be secured by taking on a ‘doer-upper’.

You’ll need the ability to see through the ‘ugly’ bits, and some cash to make the necessary changes, but it might be precisely the way to get the features you want without breaking the bank.

5. Stay one step ahead

Finally, when you’re ready to start house hunting, sign up to property websites and portals to receive notifications when your dream property is available.

For example, if a new build in a prime location is your kind of dream home, check out a website such as WhatHouse – it will ensure that you get alerts when new homes are being built, putting you at the front of the queue when your ideal property hits the market.

(Image credit: Barratt Homes ~ The Orchards development, West Midlands)

(Disclosure: This is a collaborative post)



Brunel furniture: industrial style meets mid-century design

June 1st, 2016

What do you get if you combine mid-century modern with industrial style? The adorable Brunel furniture from Heal's.

Ever wondered what you’d get if you combined mid-century modern with industrial style? Meet the Brunel range, a best-selling furniture collection from Heal’s.

Designed with a contemporary home in mind, the collection of bedroom and living room furniture is beautifully made and oozing in style.

American oak wood is successfully paired with powder coated steel to produce a range of modern pieces which are minimal in style but big on impact.

Sleek and modern, this is a great range of minimal furniture that's ideal for a contemporary home. The Brunel furniture is available from Heal's.

The designer behind the furniture is Rob Scarlett, a former Young Designer of the Year at the 2003 New Design Britain awards.

He established Scarlett Design in 2010 and has created the Brunel range for ‘design savvy city dwellers who are short on space and accessibility, but big on style.’

We think he’s certainly achieved that.

Modern Brunel shelving and table from Heal's. It's ideally styled for a contemporary home.

Whether you want to update your bedroom, or re-design your living space, there are plenty of options to create a stunning new interior.

Discover more about the Brunel furniture range at Heal’s.

Garden structure design ideas: RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016

May 26th, 2016

I’m a big fan of the annual RHS Chelsea Flower Show and, each year, the garden designs never fail to impress.

A lot of the gardens this year feature strong structural elements, using stone, wood or metal, that really make them stand out.

Whilst it might not be possible to create them down to a tee at home, there are definitely ideas to take away, be it structural shapes to try out, materials that work in a garden, planting ideas or simply colour palettes.

Here are a few favourite contemporary garden designs from this year’s show.

1. The Brewin Dolphin Garden – Forever Freefolk

The Brewin Dolphin Garden - Forever Freefolk. Designed by Rosy Hardy for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016

Designed by Rosy Hardy. Sponsored by: Brewin Dolphin.

 © RHS  RHS / Sarah Cuttle

2. The Morgan Stanley Garden for Great Ormond Street Hospital

The Morgan Stanley Garden for Great Ormond Street Hospital. Designed by Chris Beardshaw.  RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016

Designed by Chris Beardshaw. Sponsored by: Morgan Stanley.

 © RHS  RHS / Neil Hepworth

3. The St John’s Hospice – A Modern Apothecary

The St John’s Hospice – A Modern Apothecary. Designed by Jekka McVicar for RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016

Designed by Jekka McVicar. Sponsored by: St John’s Hospice.

 © RHS  RHS / Sarah Cuttle

4. The Telegraph Garden

The Telegraph Garden. Designed by Andy Sturgeon for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016.

Designed by Andy Sturgeon. Sponsored by: The Telegraph.

 © RHS  RHS / Neil Hepworth

5. The Winton Beauty of Mathematics Garden

The Winton Beauty of Mathematics Garden. Designed by Nick Bailey for RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016

Designed by Nick Bailey. Sponsored by: Winton.

 © RHS  RHS / Neil Hepworth

6. Papworth Trust – Together We Can

Papworth Trust – Together We Can garden. Designed by Peter Eustance for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016

Designed by Peter Eustance. Sponsored by: Papworth Trust.

 © RHS  RHS / Tim Sandall

7. Senri-Sentei – Garage Garden

Senri-Sentei – Garage Garden. Designed by Kazuyuki Ishihara for RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016

Designed by Kazuyuki Ishihara. Sponsored by: Henri-Sentei project.

 © RHS  RHS / Tim Sandall

8.  Viking Cruises Mekong Garden

Viking Cruises Mekong Garden. Designed by Sarah Eberle for RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016

Designed by Sarah Eberle. Sponsored by: Viking Cruises.

 © RHS  RHS / Tim Sandall

9.  The Garden Bed – a partnership with Asda

The Garden Bed, a partnership with Asda. Designed by Stephen Welch and Alison Doxey. RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016

Designed by Stephen Welch and Alison Doxey.

 © RHS  RHS / Tim Sandall

10. The World Vision Garden

The World Vision Garden. Designed by John Warland.

Designed by John Warland. Sponsored by: World Vision.

 © RHS  RHS / Sarah Cuttle

11. The Sir Simon Milton Foundation Urban Connections Garden

The Sir Simon Milton Foundation Urban Connections Garden. Designed by Lee Bestall. RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016

Designed by Lee Bestall. Sponsored by: Victoria Business Improvement District.

 © RHS  RHS / Sarah Cuttle

12. God’s Own County – A Garden for Yorkshire

God’s Own County – A Garden for Yorkshire. Designed by Matthew Wilson for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016

Designed by Matthew Wilson. Sponsored by: Welcome to Yorkshire.

 © RHS  RHS / Neil Hepworth

What garden ideas are you inspired by?

For more inspiring garden ideas, check out our board on Pinterest:

Fresh Design finds: Contented cat cookie jar

May 24th, 2016

Oh my, this is purr-fect! A gorgeously created large cat design cookie jar.

Can’t get enough of cats? Or wish you had one, but can’t have one in your current home? Why not offer a home to this gorgeous large feline jar instead!

The contented cat is made from stoneware and is designed to be a cookie jar. It’s a good size and will look elegant displayed on your kitchen worktop.

The cat lives up to its name of looking contented. His eyes look open and alert and there’s a definite smile going on! Although it’s designed as a biscuit jar, you could easily use it for other storage purposes, or just as a decorative accessory.

You’ll find the contented cat jar available at Anthropologie.

How to Choose Wooden Flooring for Your Home

May 23rd, 2016

Love the way that engineered oak flooring can create a wow factor floor! It looks gorgeous in a modern home and this oak floor has lovely colouring.

Are you giving your home a makeover? Knocking down walls, creating new rooms and selecting paint colours is a tall order, and it doesn’t end there. Once you’ve sorted out everything at eye level, you’ll need to turn to the job sitting right under your nose… the flooring!

If wooden flooring is what you’re after, here’s how to choose the right type for your home.

Real wood flooring

Real wood flooring is precisely what the name suggests – boards of single pieces of wood that are typically around 20mm thick. Sometimes called ‘solid wood’ flooring, this option is great for those wanting to add a desirable ‘selling point’ to their homes as real wood flooring is a fashionable trend right now.

Real wood flooring is typically laid in a tongue and groove style and looks fabulous in areas that get lots of traffic, such as hallways and living areas.

However, there are some problems with it. Firstly, it swells in damp conditions and shrinks in dry ones, so it won’t stay the same over its lifetime.

It is also quite tricky to install so will probably require an expert fitter, and is often the most expensive option for homeowners.

Laminate flooring

Oiled oak laminate flooring helps add character and charm into a room. It looks and feels warm and cosy.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is laminate flooring. This type of flooring is a piece of compressed MDF, designed to look realistic by overlaying it with an image of wood (or any other material you’d like to emulate, such as concrete, marble or tile).

Laminate wooden flooring is often laid across entire properties in kitchens, bathrooms and living rooms because it’s an easy surface to clean, is fairly hardwearing and is easy to install.

While this type of wooden flooring is cheap (with prices ranging from around £5 to £50 a square metre), it doesn’t feel like the real thing.

It can wear out over time and can’t be repaired once damaged, and isn’t always a great option if you want to add value to your home.

Engineered wood flooring

Engineered oak wood flooring can create a dramatic effect in a kitchen.

Engineered wood flooring is a number of layers of wood (normally three or four) that have been glued together to create a plank that is around 14mm thick.

A real-wood veneer is then placed on top to enable homeowners to sand it back and restore it to its prime if it becomes damaged.

For many homeowners, engineered wooden flooring is perfect as it’s solid, isn’t quite as prone to changes caused by temperature or humidity in the same way that solid wood flooring is (which means it can be used with underfloor heating systems) and can also be nicer to walk on than laminate flooring.

So, while it’s not cheap (£20 to £200 per square metre) it might be worth the investment if you want to lay it in areas of your home that get a lot of traffic or are on display to guests.

If you’re interested in this type of flooring for your home, why not check out engineered wood flooring from Ken’s Yard?

(Disclosure: This is a guest post)

All rights reserved 2009-2016. All content copyright © FreshDesignBlog.
Blog Widget by LinkWithin Google