Sewing tutorials that won’t get you all stitched up

July 23rd, 2014

Beginners home sewing guide

A positive attitude toward DIY is the hallmark of a good British home. Unfortunately, those tricky cushion covers and patchwork quilts are not always as easy to construct as we’d like. While a homemade pair of curtains or toy for your child might give you domestic goddess status, the reality of constructing it probably includes sharp needle pricks, dropped stitches and muddled instructions.

In order to help you get in the DIY spirit, we’ve found some DIY sewing tutorials that won’t leave your hands bleeding or your mind reeling.

Specialist Websites

Specialist websites such as and www.sewmamasew.comcan help you on your way to being a master of the needle and giving your home that loving DIY touch. If you’re lacking inspiration as to how you can incorporate your sewing masterpieces into your home, the McCarthy and Stone Pinterest page can show you how to make DIY chic in your very own space.


Muddling your way through Pinterest can be a daunting task. With ‘pins’ of food, clothing, decorations and general oddities, this DIY website can leave you wishing you had the talent of your Pinterest peers. However, in many cases you will actually be left with wonky initials sewn ‘off centre’ on an even more poorly sewn together cushion cover.

Thankfully we’ve found some easy peasy tutorials from the internet’s most creative website that will help you try your hand at DIY soft furnishings without drawing blood!


Sometimes you just need a more kinetic set of instructions. While Pinterest can offer you a wide range of picture-based tutorials, for those trickier stitches and patterns, video-formatted ‘how-to’ options might be just the answer.

YouTube is full of a wide range of video tutorials for nearly any form of sewing DIY. From perfect cross stitch to elegant lettering, the website can cater to nearly all of your decorative needs.

But for those of you just starting out, here is a beginners video that will help you learn some simple techniques and tricks to enable you to get started with your sewing adventures. If you wish to find more videos, remember you can simply search what you’re looking for in the search bar at the top and find the perfect video for you.

We hope now you can pick up your needle with confidence and start lifting your home towards DIY heaven. Just use these simple and easy tutorials that won’t leave you all stitched up. 

**Guest post**

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Industrial style furniture: Four distinctive ideas for your home

July 22nd, 2014

Fresh Design Blog's ideas for an industrial style home

If you love all things industrial, then there are plenty of ways you can incorporate this style into your home.

Here are four gorgeous pieces of furniture that we thing epitomise the industrial style. Use them in your home as feature pieces, or as part of a totally industrial decor scheme.

How to use the industrial style trend in your home

1. The Union Jack design industrial boatwood high dresser is really striking and full of character. It’s made from recycled boat wood and has three useful drawers, adorned with patriotic colours. It’s a lovely piece and great for adding different textures and design into your home interior. It’s priced at £600 from Occa-Home.

2. Metal textures are a key element of industrial style. We love the industrial inspired kitchen iron trolley. It’s got loads of storage space on the three bottom layers, plus a handy marble slab on the top that you can use for food preparation, or more storage. What’s more, the wheels make it ideal for moving around your kitchen or utility room. It started off life as costing £375, but has been reduced to £262.50 at Graham and Green.

3. Mixing painted metal and smoothed wood, the blue industrial stool is a solid and sturdy piece with a height adjustable seat. It’s reduced to £97.75 in the sale at Graham and Green.

4. A coffee table on wheels is a great idea too and makes furniture moving so much easier. This piece is designed by Danish company Nordal and is made from solid pine wood, with metal rivot cladded corners and industrial cart style iron wheels. It’s a solid, well made piece oozing with style and costs £525 from Idea Home Co.

Up, up and away: Balloon lights, home accessories and decor

July 21st, 2014

Balloon lights home accessories decor ideas from Fresh Design Blog

Bring the childhood magic of having a balloon into your home with these delightful balloon themed home accessories and decor.

From cushions and china, to hot air balloon coasters and wall stickers, there are some great ideas available for your home featuring balloon designs.

We love the balloon ceiling and wall lights in particular, as they’re very realistic – great for adult and children’s rooms alike. If your budget won’t quite run to that, then snap up a glass balloon to use as a decorative accessory instead, they are well priced at only £8 each.

Top row:

Balloon design cushion, £32 from Sew Sew

Memory balloon ceiling light, £154, from John Moncrieff

Middle row:

Glass balloon, £8 from Henry’s Future

Bristol hot air balloon coasters (set of four), £12.99 from Emmeline Simpson

Memory balloon wall light, £154 from John Moncrieff

Bottom row:

Hot air balloon stickers, £19.50 from Oakdene Designs

Girl with a hot air balloon bone china plates, £48 from Eleanor Stuart

Using the Tactile Textures trend in bathroom design

July 17th, 2014

If you’re looking to update your bathroom with a fresh, contemporary look, then a trend you might want to consider is the idea of incorporating tactile textures.

This trend has been highlighted by luxury bathroom supplier, C.P. Hart. In essence, to achieve this trend think textured finishes on your walls or floor, incorporating patterned tiles, using natural wood and adding touches of tribal influences. The end result can evoke a modern rustic vibe.

A bathroom is an ideal room for this type of trend, as it’s a place to relax and unwind and let your senses be calmed or refreshed by the feel of warm or cool water. We naturally use towels to dry off in the bathroom and the feel of the soft fluffy texture of a towel can be inherently soothing and comforting. So in a similar way, this trend takes the idea of tactile textures one step further, applying them to other areas of the room and additional ways in which we can stimulate our senses.

We’ve been exploring the trend and the bathroom design opportunities through a Pinterest board, which has been a useful way of gathering together ideas and inspiration. You can get a good idea of how different textures can be used and mixed together and of how the end result might look. We came across these four images which we think help illustrate the different ways the modern rustic trend can be used:

Bathroom images by Sara Svenningrud

(All above bathroom images by photographer Sara Svenningrud, source KK Living)

If we were creating a bathroom with this trend, then wood would have to be included somewhere. Be it in a pure and natural state, such as wooden beams or a rough, textured countertop, or in products that show off the pure beauty of wood with its natural grain exposed.

Smooth painted or lacquered wooden finishes are stunning too and dark wood can create a sleek look in a contemporary bathroom. In fact, used in this manner, with a dreamy dark wall colour and contrasting lighter towels and accessories, it reminds us of a luxury spa bathroom.  Textured tiles are a brilliant addition, on the wall and/or floor, and those with a hint of pattern can look very effective.

Bathroom decor ideas from Fresh Design Blog

(Featured items: Giro furniture, single drawer unit; Sheridan dark grey Trenton towels; Loire ardois décor pattern tile; Tribal print coasters ; contemporary beauty wall mounted soap dish and holder and Mariel towels).

We love the fact that bathroom furniture doesn’t have to be pure white. Metallic style baths are gorgeous and add a very stylish and opulent feel into a bathroom. If you want to create your own metal texture, then the freestanding Greenwich Boat Bath can be painted in your choice of finish. The golden copper looks nice, but we’d opt for moody dark steel.

Greenwich boat bath from C P Hart

Not everyone likes or even wants to attempt DIY and if you want the best possible finish in a room you’ll be using every day, it’s a good idea to seek the advice and services of someone working in the trade.

For more inspiration and bathroom product ideas, take a look at C. P. Hart’s bathroom showrooms.

(Disclosure: This post is in association with C. P. Hart)


Sleep matters: Dormeo Memory Fresh mattress review

July 16th, 2014

Fresh Design Blog review the Dormeo Memory Fresh mattress

Are memory foam mattresses all they’re cracked up to be? Our intrepid reviewer, Jackie Cosh, put the Dormeo Memory Fresh mattress to the test.

I was not aware of memory foam until a friend recommended the pillows. I bought one, loved it, and went back the next week and bought another.

So as you can imagine when I was asked to review the Dormeo Memory Fresh mattress I jumped at the chance. I couldn’t be without my memory foam pillow, and was keen to see if I would feel the same about the mattress.

And I sure did. A week after the mattress arrived and I have to say absolutely love it. I wouldn’t be without it.

So what is memory foam?

Memory foam was first developed by NASA in 1966, to improve the safety of aircraft cushions. In the 1980s it was was released to the public domain and for many years it was mainly used in medical settings, for example for bedridden patients. Memory foam mattresses significantly decreased the problems patients had with pressure sores and gangrene, common problems for those required to spend a long time in bed.

Moving on to the twenty first century and in 2006 the third generation of memory foam was introduced, resulting in more and more people  using memory foam for every day use.

A cleaner and fresher mattress

How Dormeo mattresses are fresher and cleaner

I was interested to discover that the mattress contains silver fibres – one of the world’s oldest and best antibiotics with excellent anti-odour properties. The silver fibres are sewn directly in to the mattress cover, creating an efficient barrier against dust and particles – so a cleaner and more hygienic sleep. I think this means a lot to people nowadays as we are becoming increasingly aware of the existence of dust mites.

My old mattress was quite a number of years old. I didn’t think it was in bad condition until I lay on the new Dormeo Memory Fresh mattress. And it was heaven. I absolutely loved the way it held my whole body. I have been asked whether moving around in your sleep causes the mattress to have several imprints, but that is not a problem at all. You can move around all you want and you are not aware of any imprint as such; all you can feel is the sheer comfort.

The mattress comes with a 15 year guarantee, is 15cm high, with a 2cm memory foam layer and a 12cm Ecocell layer. Ecocell is a unique, next generation foam, designed to be permanently elastic with a 3-dimensional cellular structure, providing efficient air circulation and support where you need it. It also features CleanEffect treatment to help banish bacteria and dust mites, and handles at each side – useful for turning over the mattress.

I really don’t have anything negative to say about the mattress at all and love the support that it provides. I was a fan of memory foam before I found out about the Dormeo Memory Fresh mattress and am an even bigger fan now.

Review by Jackie Cosh

(Disclosure: A mattress was supplied by Dormeo for the purposes of this review)

Fresh Design cuts: Home and garden sale buys at Joules

July 14th, 2014

Best buys from the Joules sale collated by Fresh Design Blog

It’s every shopper’s dream at the moment – sales in loads of our favourite shopping haunts!

Whether you’ve been saving up for items you’ve been coveting for months, treating yourself to something you’ve just spotted or perhaps even getting organised and buying with Christmas or other gifts in mind, there are some good savings to be had.

Next up on our Fresh Cuts series is Joules, who have a sale running across all their departments. This includes their lovely home and garden section.

It’s been tough picking out our favourite sale buys from here, as we’re tempted by loads of things, but he’s what caught our eye the most. We particularly love the red garden bench, great for adding a splash of colour into your garden furniture (and the bottle carrier would be the ideal accompaniment for carrying out bottles of wine to drink on your new garden bench!).

Fresh Design guide to the Joules home and garden sale

Top row, left to right:

Ditsy floral memo pad block, now £6.40 (was £8)

Cool cat cushion, now £22.50 (was £40)

Blue and white parasol duvet cover and pillowcase set, now £30 (was £37.50)


Middle row, left to right:

Red garden bench, now £72 (was £90)

Two draw storage box in a crème floral print, now £12 (was £15)

Two draw storage box in a crème floral print, now £12 (was £15)


Bottom row, left to right:

Set of three multi colour plant pots on a tray, now £16 (was £20)

Horse print pillowcase, now £10 (was £16)

Navy floral garden kneeler, now £16 (was £20)


Inspirational ‘believe in yourself’ cushions by Nicola Rowlands

July 11th, 2014

Believe in yourself message for your home

We’ve recently been focusing on products for the home with words and phrases, be it inspirational, motivational or entertaining, for our Signs of Life collection on eBay. So it seems appropriate to have chanced upon these cushions, which fit in with our theme.

The cushions are produced by Manchester-based designer Nicola Rowlands and bear the message, “She believed she could, so she did.”

The small oblong pillow cushions are printed with fresh colours on heavyweight cotton on the front, and backed with beige on the back. They’re available to buy for £15 each. If you know someone who could do with an extra boost of encouragement to believe in themselves and plans they’re making, then this is a great gift idea.


Towel-tastic: Fluffy bathroom towel sale bargains

July 10th, 2014

Toweltastic half price bathroom towels rounded up by Fresh Design

There’s nothing quite like getting out of the bath or shower and wrapping yourself in the comfort of a soft, fluffy towel. Although most bathroom towels start out life as being soft, after frequent use and turns through the washing machine, the softness you loved so much at the beginning can wane and fade.

With the sales in full flow, now’s the time to freshen up your bathroom and get that comforting feeling back by investing in some new towels at bargain prices.

Here’s our selection of towel-tastic buys!

1. Sheridan Mariel towels, from £11

2. Christy Evelyn deep sea towels, from £6

3. Christy Georgia navy spotty towels, from £6

4. Anorak kissing robins bathroom towels, from  £2.50

5. Scion Mr Fox towels, from £10.50

6. Matthew Williamson Butterfly Home range silver peacock print towels, from £8

Fresh design ideas: Decorating with metal wall art

July 8th, 2014

Wall art comes in all shapes, styles, designs and colours. For something a bit different, and to add a new texture or material into a room, why not think about using metal wall art? Here are some ideas to whet your appetite.

Fresh design contemporary metal wall art ideas

Jazz It Up Interiors stock a great selection of metal wall art and we can’t help but be drawn to this multi colour swirl metal wall art design. Consisting of layers of discs with a rippled effect, it’s a nice contemporary feature for a wall.

Fresh design metal wall art panel idea

If you love nature, then this set of three organic metal wall art panels would help add both texture and colours to your wall. The designs feature an array of metal stems adorned with colourful buds and leaves and remind us of different seasons – autumn, spring and winter. The set is available from Graham and Brown.

Fresh design wall art ideas metal wave design

Etsy is usually a good place to find some very creative and imaginative pieces of metal wall art, like this amazing wave design piece by Zen Art Studio. You can almost hear the roar of the sea when you look at it.  For more inspiring ideas from Etsy, have a look at our curated collection of metal wall art ideas.

Decorate your home with contemporary metal wall art sculpture

Another go-to place for metal wall art is Artisanti, who stock some amazing pieces by contemporary designers. We love the Tribeca range, which features pieces such as the Metropolitan skyline. The industrial style is ideally suited to this medium and each piece is handcrafted using welded metal and paint effects. The end result is a stunning piece of art.


Fresh Design decorating tips: How to paint like a pro

July 4th, 2014

Ever wished you could paint like a pro? Professional painter and decorator Teresa Tomlinson of Internal Affairs shares her tips for the perfect paint finish.

Now the warmer weather’s here, the evenings are lighter and windows can be opened safely, many of us are thinking about giving tired sitting rooms or bedrooms a fresh coat of paint.

A new look for summer

A professional painter and decorator for more than 20 years, Teresa Tomlinson knows all about how to achieve the perfect result. She’s been running her own business, Internal Affairs, from Helsby, Cheshire since March 2013, and her clients mostly come through recommendation and word of mouth.

Teresa Tomlinson at work

“I find my customers react really positively to employing a woman decorator,” she says. “Going into people’s homes, often when they’re not there, is an intimate, personal thing and other women in particular are more confident with me.”

In her long experience in the trade, Teresa’s come across some tricky situations. She once walked into a house when the owners were on holiday in France to find water pouring through ceiling. During building work, a radiator had been taken off the wall in the en suite and hadn’t been capped off properly, so as the temperature dropped the valve opened and flooded the house. Teresa spent her first day finding a plumber and cleaning up the mess before she could even pick up a brush.

On another occasion, she was using an electrical steamer to remove wallpaper when it was suddenly and inexplicably turned off at the switch, and she later found out the house was reputed to be haunted.

Preparation is key

“Mostly though, it’s plain sailing and I really enjoy the work,” she laughs.

Decorating tips

If you’re considering some DIY, here are Teresa’s top tips for a great finish

1. If your house is pre-1970s or older, look out for old paint that could contain lead, or even original 19th century wallpaper containing arsenic! If you’re not sure, always get expert advice.

2. Get kitted up properly. Wear old clothes and old trainers or shoes with a good grip, and have a face mask, goggles and overalls available if required.

Make sure you’ve got enough paint for the whole job

3. When updating a room, if you already have existing strong colour accents you can complement these or pick them out, for example a striking purple vase could be matched with neutral cream paintwork and a single red feature wall.

4. Your colour choice will depend a lot on how much natural light your room has. Teresa often uses darker colours in small, dark rooms to make them look cosy and intimate.

“Don’t fight what you’ve got,” she says. “Dark red or green in a small dark dining room can create a great impact, and painting a small dark space white can make it look boxy.”

5. Preparation is key. If you inherit an old house with old wallpaper, the chances are that when you strip the walls the plaster could come off as well. In these circumstances, it’s better to take expert advice to avoid expensive mistakes. Expect to spend a long time preparing walls and woodwork – take out any lumps and bumps, give any existing paintwork a light sand down and fill any imperfections.

“The secret to a good finish is all in the preparation,” says Teresa. “I might spend a week preparing and only two days painting, if that’s what that individual job needs.”

6.  Use a good quality paint, as it’s cheaper in the long run. Use a recommended undercoat, as well.

7.  Get a good quality brush. Use synthetic brushes for water-based paint, and natural bristles for oil paint, as the way that the brush dispenses the paint is different in each case. “If you were to put an oil-based product on a door using a synthetic brush, you’d get a wavy line,” says Teresa.

8. If you’re mixing a colour, make sure you mix sufficient at once to finish the whole job, or won’t be able to match it afterwards. Similarly, if you’re wallpapering, make sure you’ve got all the same batch number as they vary slightly. Don’t forget you’ll also need a pasting table, pasting brush, and some paste!

“A lot of paper manufacturers now advise you how to paste and what paste to use, and you must follow their guidelines or you’ll have no guarantee if something goes wrong,” says Teresa.

9. It’s worth spending some time making sure that you put dustsheets over the complete area, as it will save any accidents later on. Paint any exterior doors and windows first thing in the morning so they have a chance to dry before you close them.

To contact Teresa, visit

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