December 12th, 2014
Solve your Christmas present dilemmas with our pick of the top ten gifts.
1. Wooden family penguins, Bombus
These ‘mother and child’ wooden penguins can be personalised with your choice of names and words. The stylised birds are made from birch plywood and handpainted in your choice of colour, and cost £20 for the mother and one child. Extra baby penguins can be added as well. Available from Bombus.
2. Maul cushion, Amy Sia
Handmade in the UK, the Maul cushion features an abstract watercolour print in blue, grey and green to complement any modern interior. It measures 45cm by 45cm, has a natural coloured cotton linen blend back and comes complete with a duck feather pad. £70 from Amy Sia.
3. Bicycles mini notebook set, Cavellini and Co
A set of pretty mini notebooks with vintage images of bicycles on the covers, which would make a great stocking filler. The set consists of one ruled, one blank and one graph notebook with 96 pages in each, and costs £9.50 from Hampton Blue.
4. Mini bouquet vase, LSA International
This hand-made mini bouquet vase is just 9.5cm tall with a wide opening and is perfect for miniature, low displays of flowers. It’s made by LSA International, one of Europe’s leading brands of contemporary handmade glass and porcelain, and costs £9.50 from Annabel James.
5. Silver seed print, Josephine Gomersall Designs
A beautiful giclee print of an original mixed media artwork. The original artwork included silver wire stems, solid silver flattened seed heads and domed recycled tin seeds, along with pencil drawings of stylised plants with heart shaped leaves and red flower centres over-painted with opaque white paint on a coloured ground. The print is a high quality digitally produced image, limited edition and signed by the artist, and costs £49 from Made By Hand Online.
6. English Rose scented candle, Sophie Allport
This beautiful candle is made in England using high quality mineral wax to achieve a long, clean and even burn. Made from 100% refined mineral wax blended with a high quality fragrance, this hand made candle will burn for up to 40 hours while gently perfuming your room with the fresh, floral scent of roses. £20, available from Sophie Allport.
7. Lulu cocktail glass set, LSA International
An assorted set of of stemmed glasses to suit every type of cocktail, whether you favour a champagne bellini or a cosmopolitan. Handmade by LSA International, each glass holds 45cl and comes as a set in a branded gift box. Handwash only. £40, available from Berry Red.
8.Hummingbird picture, Outshine Art
Handmade to order, this hummingbird cut-out picture is available in different colourways and can be personalised with embossed letters. £55, available from Outshine Art.
9. Anna and Grace stationery set, Elle Jane Designs
This pretty set is tied together with a ivory satin ribbon and packaged in a brown kraft gift box, and includes an A5 notebook, A6 notebook, notelet set containing three different designs and greetings card with envelope. £15 for the set, available from Elle Jane Designs.
10. Woodland stag cushion, Blooming Briony
This unusual cushion is inspired by deer roaming the grounds of Hampton Court Palace on a cold, misty morning. It’s printed using state-of-the-art technology in shades of forest green and golden orange, and is and handmade in England. £55, available from Wealden Fairs.
December 10th, 2014
When it comes to special occasion dining, it’s good to go the extra mile and decorate in style – and Christmas is definitely a time to do just that.
Furniture Choice challenged us to decorate a dining table ready for Christmas, so here’s what we came up with….
As our Christmas tree decoration theme is red, gold and silver, this is reflected through the dining table decorations too.
We chose a gold tablecloth for the base of the table, with a festive red silk table runner to go down the middle.
We’ve laid the table with Denby white china plates, crackers ready to be pulled and LSA International glasses – perfect for enjoying a refreshing champagne cocktail.
Each table setting is accessorised with a white star shaped napkin. We could claim to have painstakingly sat and folded each one of these by hand, but in reality they were bought pre-folded! These are a great idea and it makes things a lot easier to just open the box and set them up and we think it makes the table look extra special.
In the middle of the table, we’ve used a tall gold Christmas tree candle as the centrepiece, accessorised with a pair of smaller gold bauble candles, one each side.
To finish the table decorations off, we’ve created two little arrangements using silver acorn style baubles. Each of them features five baubles and they’re really quick and easy to arrange.
We’re pleased with the end result – what do you think?
10 top styling tips for decorating a festive table
1. Pick a colour scheme for your table setting. Coordinate it with the rest of your Christmas décor colours, or go for something different.
2. Use Christmas decorations you already own, such as baubles, candles or tinsel to create your own festive table centrepiece. Try filling a glass bowl or vase with baubles.
3. Less is often more. If you want room to easily add serving dishes, don’t pile too many decorations in the middle of the table – they’ll be a hassle to move.
4. Use candles to create atmosphere, especially if you’re dining in the evening.
5. Create simple festive napkin rings from pretty ribbon. Tie them around crisp white linen napkins and add a Christmas gift tag with a name on to act as a place setting.
6. Choose crackers that match your table colour scheme for an integrated look.
7. Make use of greenery, such as holly or mistletoe, to create table decorations. For example, a simple wreath with a candle in the middle works well, or add pieces of mistletoe to place settings.
8. Use a table runner to provide contrast and add colour to your table setting.
9. Make your own festive floating candle handles from empty kilner jars. Tie ribbon around the outside of the jar, half fill it with water and pop a red tea light candle inside.
10. Light up your table with battery operated fairy lights. Weave them around tinsel or a decorative greenery and lay them down the middle of the table, or fill a large bowl with the lights so they’ll glow safely throughout your meal.
For more ideas, check out our Christmas Table Styling Ideas board on Pinterest.
(Disclosure: Furniture Choice are running a Christmas dining table decoration competition and this post is also our entry).
December 7th, 2014
Not a morning person? Help motivate yourself to get on and eat breakfast, by adding some fun to your table, with these imaginative breakfast sets. Perfect for the old and young alike and a quirky gift to give someone.
1. Turn breakfast into a playground, with the train breakfast set – £14.95 from The Letteroom
2. Let the knights out to do battle, with the Arthur egg cup and spoon – £7.95 from Luckies
3. Serve egg and toast in style, with an optimus prime egg cup and toast cutter – £14 from Little Ella James
4. Saddle up your horses and look after your castles, with an egg and soldier breakfast set – £24.95 from Takae Mizutani and Sons
December 5th, 2014
T’is the season for entertaining! But there’s nothing worse than discovering you don’t have the right glasses, serving dishes or platters to suit the occasion.
If you’re looking for the perfect ways to serve foods and drinks in style, then look no further than Occa-Home. The online interior design store specialises in selling luxury branded homewares and is full to the brim with inspiring products.
LSA International is just one of the many brands stocked by Occa-Home and you’re likely to be able to find suitably stylish glassware and tableware in their collection.
The LSA paddle cocktail set is a beautiful way of serving drinks to your guests. The six elegant cocktail glasses are served from a hand finished natural oak board, shaped like a paddle.
Indented rounds on the board ensure each glass stays in place and makes carrying the board less of a worry. Inspiration for the design of the board came from the Tirol region of Austria, where drinks are traditionally served on similar wooden trays.
For dips and crudites, sweet or savoury nibbles, or even for serving a selection of vegetables at a dinner party, the LSA serve square platter does the trick fantastically.
The chunky glass dish is split into four sections, with a round central area, so you each set of crudites or nibbles is neatly separated. This is a piece you’ll use again and again.
You could even incorporate a decoration into it too, to add a festive touch. The round centre of the square glass serve platter dish is the perfect size to hold a candle, for example, and you’ve still got plenty of room in the four surrounding sections to serve nibbles or chocolates. A tall candle in the centre would be ideal for creating impact in the middle of a table laden with food.
Nothing marks the end of a special meal better than tucking into some tasty cheese and biscuits. In terms of serving them in style, the LSA International lotta dip platter ticks all the boxes.
The deep wood board is made from ash and is accompanied by a white porcelain dish to hold your favourite chutney. It’s a well made and sturdy piece that looks like it’s made to last.
All of the items come very well packed and boxed, so they’re ideal for Christmas gifts too. For more tableware and serveware ideas from LSA International and other top brands, check out Occa-Home.
***This post is in association with Occa-Home***
December 5th, 2014
Do you decorate your door for Christmas? If so, one of the simplest options is to hang up a decorative wreath.
There are lots of ready made wreath options to suit all styles and tastes. What’s more, if you don’t want to hang it on a door all the time, wreaths double up very well as table decorations. Use them in the centre of a dining table for a festive display. Add a chunky candle to the centre if you wish, and it will look like you’ve gone to loads of effort in sprucing up your table!
Here are eight of our favourite wreaths this year:
1. Add a bundle of colour to an interior door, with this colourful and fun felt ball wreath. £54 from The Original Pop Up Shop.
2. Opt for a neutral colour palette and a naturalistic approach, with a wreath made from pieces of birch tree. £45 from John Lewis.
3. Hang this stunning contemporary copper wreath on your door and enjoy the effect of copper glowing in the light. Available from Graham and Green, £49.95
4. Have a go at making your own quirky ruler star wreath, with this kit from the Little Baby Company. It’s only £9.95.
5. Opt for a modern rustic look, with a birch bark Christmas wreath. Buy it for £28 from Paper Posies
6. This red and white gingham tinsel wreath comes with 25 LED battery operated lights. It’s £29 from Ella James
7. For a modern and funky option, choose this wreath featuring embellished felt stars. Just £12 from John Lewis.
8. Go green, with a luxury pre-lit Christmas wreath. Currently on offer for £19.75 at M&S (normally £39.50).
December 4th, 2014
Are you a fan of real or fake? Christmas trees, that is!
Normally we tend to opt for an artificial tree, not least as it can be a hassle going out to buy a real Christmas tree.
Not only do you have to lug it to your car, then load it in (perhaps finding it doesn’t fit too well….), but you’ve also got the task of unloading it and squeezing it through your front door when you get home. And all that before you even start thinking about putting it up and decorating it.
That’s why the idea of having a fresh Christmas tree delivered right to your home was something that appealed to us.
Pines and Needles are a specialist Christmas tree company who do just that. They have nearly 20 years of experience and provide premium quality trees grown on their own sustainable plantations.
As members of the British Christmas Tree Growers’ Association they adhere to strict standards regarding sustainability. For example, for every tree that’s cut down, three more are replanted.
The Pines and Needles trees
Pines and Needles sell a range of popular Christmas trees:
* The Nordmann Fir – ideal for indoor use, as its needles aren’t too pointy and it’s relatively non-drop
* The Fraser Fir – these are grown in their pots to help them have a longer survival rate. You also gain the benefit of being able to keep them growing outside after Christmas.
* The Norway Spruce – a traditional Victorian style Christmas tree, which does drop its needles. This is good for outdoor use, or if you’re only having a tree up indoors for a short time.
The Pines and Needles service
If you live in London then you’ll gain the benefit of having your tree delivered directly from the Pines and Needles team. This involves a Santa hat and kilt clad delivery driver (reflecting the Scottish heritage of the company), who’ll carry your tree into your home and even set it up. If you’re short on time, you can even get help with decorating your tree.
Sadly if you’re not in London, you don’t get the hats and kilts (unless you have a good imagination…) as they use an external courier service, and they are not able to install your tree. You’ll be given a day for delivery, but not a specific time, but you will be kept in the loop with a text message confirmation that your tree is on its way.
The tree set up
The tree arrived nicely contained in secure netting and wrapped in festive red packaging. It also came with a self-watering stand – an important aspect to keep the tree fresh, watered and reduce the risk of the needles dropping.
The instructions on the stand recommended cutting off 1cm of trunk before putting it in the stand, to help the tree access the water better. It wasn’t what we were expecting to do and proved easier said than done (especially as we ended up having to do it on the kitchen floor), but as the trunk base was a tad wonky, we did persevere and do this.
Once chopped, it was time to get it into the stand. Again, there were instructions provided about how to secure the tree and it sounded easy, but in all honesty it didn’t seem to be for us.
You definitely needed at least two people – one to hold the tree in place and the other to screw and tighten the bolts in the base around the trunk. Two of ours seemed to tighten fine, but one kept coming loose, causing the tree to lurch. During the process of doing this, we did find some needles dropped, but with all the tree man-handling, it’s not entirely surprising.
For a (long) while, we perfected the art of having a leaning Christmas tree, fully suited to Pisa. But eventually we got it secured enough to step away from the tree without fear of it falling over. Hurrah!
It was time to get the netting off…..
And, wow, the tree fell into shape effortlessly (way less effort than trying to get an artificial tree branches to fall into a realistic shape). Phew, it was worth the battle with the stand!
Then it was the fun bit – the decorating!
This year we chose a colour scheme of red, gold and silver and used a selection of our favourite tree decorations. Christmas is definitely a time for family, so it only seems right to use decorations handed down from family members, as well as some of our favourites collected over the years and one or two new ones (who can resist a new bauble or two each year?!).
The Fresh Design verdict
The tree – We were really impressed with the quality and shape of the tree – it’s the perfect looking Christmas tree. The pine scent is gorgeous.
The stand – The stand sounded great, but in reality we found it tricky to manage and hard to get the tree fully secure. Maybe we just didn’t have the right knack?!
The service – Having a tree delivered directly to your door is great and definitely much easier than having to lug it home yourself, so full marks for this.
We think the delivery service in London, and especially having people to set the tree up for you, sounds excellent and it would certainly help solve the problems we had with getting the tree up straight and secure in the stand.
We also like the fact that when Christmas is over and done with, you can book Pines and Needles to come and collect the tree and recycle it for you – perfect!
Special Pines and Needles offer – and free gifts!
If you love the sound of Pines and Needles and are keen to try the service yourself, then we’ve got a special code you can use to get even better value for money!
Quote the code, “FRSH14” when you place an order and you’ll receive a free mini Christmas tree, holly and mistletoe – perfect for getting your home fully into the festive mode!
And if you solve the knack of how to get the tree to stand upright super quickly in the stand, please tell us your secret!
***Disclosure: Pines and Needles sent us the tree and stand for review, but all views and opinions are our own***
December 2nd, 2014
Here at Fresh Design it’s no secret that we’re big fans of wallpaper and wall décor ideas, so we were intrigued to discover the 1Wall collection of creative wall collages that can make creating unique decor even easier.
UK-based company 1Wall specialise in creating wall coverings and home décor. They’re well known for their wallpaper and wall murals, but are building up a collection of wall collages too. If you’ve ever felt put off from trying wallpapering by the idea of having to handle a large sheet of paper, then a collage could be a much better option, as the smaller pieces are easy to use
The collages are currently available in four designs – typography, city scene, life and maps – and each come as a set of 64 panels. Each individual panel measures 37.5 by 27.5cm and the set is priced at £59.99.
In the case of the typography collage, it includes not only numbers and letters, but also a selection of symbols too, such as speech marks, brackets, currencies, stars and full stops.
The panels have a bit of an industrial style vibe to them, but in terms of the colour palette and design they’re produced in an aged style, with a variety of font styles and backgrounds. Some of the backgrounds include old letters, newsprints, woven textures, wooden panels, metal and concrete.
The set comes with a packet of paste ready to be mixed up and you’re set to go!
Four ways to use a 1Wall creative collage
There are loads of ways in which you can use this creative collage pack in your home décor.
1. Create a giant random collage
Use all 64 pieces in the pack to create a random design on a wall, alcove or ceiling. Mix up the numbers, letters and symbols, layer them, forget straight lines and create a pattern of your choice.
2. Create a giant organised wall collage
If you prefer straight lines and a more standard approach, then use the 64 pieces to form an organised collage across your wall. Pick out favourite phrases, words or letters and intersperse them with symbols and numbers.
3. Create motivational wall signs
You don’t have to use all the panels in one project, you can split them up and use them in various different ways. We love the idea of using the panels to spell out motivational words, as it’s a great way of creating your own wall art. Here’s one we created:
4. Create a wordsearch
Fancy being even more creative? Why not create a wordsearch style feature on your wall. Pick a theme, such as names in your family, favourite places or kids toys and use the panels to create a grid on a wall. It would work well in a family space.
Other ways to use a 1Wall collage
Although the product is aimed at being suitable for walls and ceilings, we don’t see any reason why you couldn’t apply it to other surfaces too.
We love the idea of using a single panel on a door or cupboard door as a means of personalising it – think letters or numbers – or of using multiple panels to create a collage on a piece of furniture, such as a table or wardrobe.
If you’re not able to add décor to your walls, for example if you’re in a rental property, you could stick panels onto canvas blocks or mounts and create art to hang on your wall.
You’ll need to ensure you’ve got the right glue for the surface you’re applying panels too, but it could be a really fun way of creating your own décor and furniture throughout your home. After all, as it’s called a creative collage, you might as well unleash your creativity as much as you can!
The Fresh Design verdict
The 1Wall typography creative collage is a great idea! It’s quick and easy to use, gives you scope to be inventive and think outside the box and offers a truly hands-on-way of creating your own style of home décor.
Still need convincing? Take a look for yourself:
You can also find 1Wall on Twitter @1wall_wallpaper or follow them on Instagram @1wall_murals
Inspired to have a go yourself? 1Wall are offering a special 15% discount off all purchases made directly from their website until 31st January 2015. Just quote the code, “nuffnang15” when you place an order.
***This post is in association with Nuffnang and 1Wall***
December 1st, 2014
It’s the time of year when keeping warm and cosy at home becomes a key priority. There are plenty of ways to add extra warmth to your home, with one of the easiest being through using warm throws and other cosy home accessories.
Whilst we often regard colours such as rosy red, burgundy or burnt orange as shades that can provide a feeling of warmth in an interior, pure and simple neutrals can be just as warming too.
This gorgeous snuggly blanket is from the French Bedroom Company and is very aptly named the Cosi Cosi blanket. It’s made by Kare Design and has the look and feel of soft, luxurious mohair, but amazingly it’s actually acrylic.
The blanket offers a beautiful way of getting cosy at home. Use it as an extra layer on your bed on a chilly winter night, or enjoy snuggling up underneath it on the sofa.
Babies will love it too!
The creamy ivory white colour is the perfect accompaniment to a winter wonderland decor style. And the neutral shade should coordine perfectly, whatever your existing colour scheme.
Well chosen lighting and the use of candles can help add a warm and comforting feeling into your home too. On days when it gets dark so early, or never really seems to brighten up, having a table light or pendant lamp is a good way of adding some light into a room and creating a cosy glow.
The King Edison pendant lamp appeals to our quirky nature, with its Alice in Wonderland style miniature chandelier nestling inside the lamp bulb style pendant lamp.
Or if you love the animal trend, then why not let Pretty Polly take control of your home lighting needs?
Talking of animals, we also love this really unusual crochet horse head, which is designed to hang on a wall. The textured effect on the head is beautiful, very eye-catching.
If pure and simple ivory and white are the colours for you, then the French Bedroom Company has plenty of other interior ideas in this timeless colour palette.
***This post is in collaboration with The French Bedroom Company, but all views and opinions are our own***
December 1st, 2014
What does your perfect Christmas look like? Enter this competition run by Occa-Home and share your ideal Christmas in image form.
To enter, all you need to do is create a board on Pinterest called, “A Very Occa Christmas.” Pin the above image to your board, plus a minimum of five other pins from Occa-Home, along with other ideas you have regarding food, decor, atmosphere or style. The competition closes on 18th December 2014.
For more details, see - http://www.pinterest.com/occahome/a-very-occa-christmas-competition/
November 26th, 2014
Give the gift of scent this Christmas, with one of these scented home products. From candles and room sprays, to soap and scented decorations, each of our handpicked ideas is affordably priced at £10 or under.
1. Willow and orchid filled scented candle, £9.50 from M&S
2. Scented star anise hanging heart, £9.99 from Lindsay Interiors
3. Hardworking hands rescue kit, £10 from Joules (part of their 3 for 2 offer)
4. Standing soap, £8 from Budhi Budha
5. Set of 8 fresh fig tealights, £6 (normally £12) from Heal’s
6. Floral anniversary mixed soap set, £7.50 from M&S
7. Peony and sweetpea fragranced candle, £5 from Next
8. Glazed apple body and room spray, £7 from The Body Shop
9. Yankee Candle snowflake cookie small jar candle, £5.99 (usually £7.99) at Love Aroma
10. Scented cat lavender bag, £8.50 from FeltMeUpDesigns