Features: March '11

Style File: Arts & Crafts

by Mica Kelly on March 27, 2011
Sanderson William Morris Thistle Wallpaper, £45, John Lewis

We explore the beautiful arts and crafts movement, which marked a return to handcrafted design in 19th century England.

The arts and crafts design movement originated in England around 1880, with its popular ideals later spreading across to Europe and America. Formed by English writers and designers, most notably being William Morris, the movement was formed in protest to industrialisation and the growing popularity of mass produced designs. The members set up their own companies to sell handcrafted, high quality goods and designs.

In terms of style the movement was inspired by a wide range of influences, from Gothic medieval to Japanese art and the Orient. Furniture would be of an exceptionally high finish, often made with natural woods and metals such as copper or pewter, and handcrafted with a focus on the quality rather than excessive decoration. Colour was an important part of the movement; rich tones and bright shades were incorporated through wallpapers, tiles and soft furnishings.


To create and arts and crafts feel in your home, you should opt for warm rich tones on the walls and in soft furnishings; deep reds and blues, mustard yellow and olive greens will all create a sophisticated finish when complemented by natural shades of cream and terracotta.

Wallpaper is key to this look and the most instantly recognizable option would be the William Morris patterns, which are still being manufactured today in original prints. This classic William Morris Wallpaper from John Lewis, features a classic print of deep purple thistles on a taupe coloured background. Cover all the walls with a boldly patterned wallpaper for a traditional arts and crafts finish, or just use the large scale prints to make a feature of one wall for a more contemporary take on the style.

Another great way of adding colour is through tiles, which were widely used at the time. Choose bright jewel tones in turquoise blues, greens and reds to brighten up the kitchen or bathroom. Stained glass was also popular due to its medieval origins but, if you don’t want to splash out on new windows, a tiffany style lamp would add a subtle touch of colour.

coffee table
Oak octagon coffee table, £127, Rocomara


For this look most pieces of furniture should be wooden to create a handcrafted feel. Custom made pieces are ideal, but it is possible to find options that give a similar unique look. This oak coffee table from Rocomara features cut out detail, which was popular at the time, and reflects Oriental influences. Although it is slightly more ornate than would have been usual at the time of the arts and crafts movement, the dark oak means that it would still sit comfortably within the style for an eye catching addition to the living room.

Chairs should have leather or woven seats, although vintage style fabric covered chairs work equally well. This floral club chair from Puji has been designed in classic shape with a subtle pattern that would work well in contrast to a bold wall print. The delicate cream colour also provides the perfect complement to rich coloured accessories.

screens and divider
Chinois Screen, £455, The French Bedroom Company


Choosing accessories for this style provides the opportunity to add hints of colour, and style touches influenced by Oriental trends. This stunning wool rug from OKA blends perfectly with the arts and crafts colour palette, and would look stunning set against stained wooden floors.

Screen dividers are a great way of splitting up space in open plan rooms to create a more intimate space, and there are many Oriental inspired options that would look great when creating an arts and crafts feel. This < a href= “http://furnish.co.uk/items/30583-chinois-screen”>chinois screen from The French Bedroom Company has a striking black lacquered finish with a gorgeous contrasting floral print.

Choose soft furnishings in natural materials like cotton and wool, and in rich colours or patterns inspired by William Morris. This leaf print cushion from Heal’s has a beautiful muted colour palette and the Sanderson print blends perfectly with the style; Sanderson are the company which bought all of the William Morris printing blocks when the company closed down.

The arts and crafts movement is a style that translates easily to contemporary interior design, as its blend of influences and the rich colour palette means there is something to cater to everyone’s tastes. The prints of William Morris are timeless, and look just as good in a fully wallpapered room as they do hung in a frame as a piece of art. The focus on quality pieces of furniture is as relevant today, in our highly mass produced culture, as it was hundreds of years ago and makes for a quirky and eclectic interior style.

The ethos of arts and crafts is best summed up in the words of William Morris himself, who believed you should “have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”. Essentially, this is a style that allows you the freedom to create a unique living space that is beautiful to you.

This week’s pick of the best interior-design blogs - Mar 23rd

by Alice Stride on March 21, 2011
Cool European style from Freshome.

The Blog Beautiful

We’ve got two fabulous US-based blogs for you this week, along with a little treasure from Romania. Enjoy the international vibe, and get ready to be inspired!


Freshome is dedicated to showcasing the latest trends in cutting-edge modern architecture, interior-design and furniture. The brain-child of the precocious Micle Mihai-Cristian, a 24 year-old Romanian living in Timisoara, Freshome has a chic, urban European aesthetic to it, and aims to inspire you to create the home you’ve always wanted. I love the fantastic ‘Best Of’ section, especially the ‘Most Popular Projects in February 2011’ post. It features amazing architectural projects from around the world - and whilst most of us can only dream of living in such incredible places, they are certainly awe-inducing. The ‘Ideas’ section is great, too: an eclectic mish-mash of tips for the home and interviews with innovative designers. For example, the work of eco-artist Tammy Roe, who takes scrap metal and fuses it into beautiful home accessories is feautured. It’s work like this that ensures that Freshome stands as out as the blog to go to for contemporary style-inspiration.

Just one of many 'dream home' snapshots from Remodelista.


The exquisite Remodelista is dubbed as ‘The Sourcebook for the Considered Home’ - undoubtedly the perfect description. The blog’s sleek, neutral colour-palette reflects its aim to feature the best in streamlined interiors, with an emphasis on “classic and liveable over trendy and transient”. Remodelista focuses on quality, investment and thoughtful design instead of faddy trends and mass-marketed goods. However, despite their firm stance on quality, there is no snobbery here: Redmodelista believe that “a mix of high and low - and of vintage and new - animates a space”. The style-savvy women behind Remodelista are all friends, which explains the blog’s very personal feel; you can even peek into the homes of the team to see what makes them tick. They’ve also got a ‘Design Files’ section, making a visit to Remodelista a truly involving experience. Through the ‘Design Files’, you can save your picks from Remodelista’s stunning collection of products and inspiring ideas posts, ensuring that you’re well-informed when remodelling your own home. Redmodelista is classy, chic and grown-up, yet still remains accessible to all. It should be the first port of call for classic and simple tastes: an online muse for beautiful interior-design inspiration.

Quirky but sleek: Chic Tip's design ethos.


ChicTip is one of the best daily design blogs around: “your ticket to stylish living.” It’s an online Aladdin’s cave, heaving with interior-design treasures and teeming with excellent design tips; and, the huge wealth of resources and content on the blog means there’s something for everyone, no matter what your budget, style , or interior-design project might be. The excellent ‘Inspiration Albums’ do exactly as they say - inspire. Divided into separate rooms (kitchen, bathroom, living-room, dining-room ), each album features alluring snapshots of extraordinary interiors, all of which seem to have the common trait of being beautiful and eclectic, yet highly functional, too. Michelle and Keren, the design-duo behind ChicTip, are keen to emphasise that the blog is a community for “like-minded people”, a place to share ideas and tips and generally have a good old discussion with others who are passionate about design. The blog also looks beyond the home for inspiration; there’s features on shops, hotels, and restaurant designs, as well as artists and trends-in-the-making. If you’re planning on having a peek at ChicTip, I recommend you clear your diary. You will undoubtedly be on the computer for a long, long time.

Style Focus - Shaker

by Mica Kelly on March 20, 2011
Traditional Shaker Living Room - Art Institute of Chicago

A unique interior style full of beautifully handcrafted wooden pieces and a refreshingly neutral colour palette.

The Shakers were a religious sect who were founded in eighteenth century Britain and emigrated to America after being persecuted for their beliefs. A group with roots in Christianity, they were most known for their focus on the importance of gender equality and their communal way of living. Despite having very few members remaining in the modern world, the Shakers have left a great cultural legacy which continues to be reflected in contemporary interior design.

In terms of home furnishings the Shakers believed that every item of furniture should serve a purpose or have a function, and disregarded the need for unnecessary decorations within their homes. However, all furniture was carefully designed and built to perfection as it was believed that the quality of their handiwork was a testament to God.


The Shaker style is characterised by a very limited colour palette, as any paints or dyes used at the time were made with natural plant dyes and clays. Walls should be kept neutral with off-white or cream paints in a matt finish, or leave walls completely bare like the plain plastered walls that were favoured at the time. If you’re a fan of colour, and can’t live with a completely neutral palette, then choose soft furnishings in primary colours; reds, warm yellows and dark blues in natural fabrics will help to add a cosy touch to your home.


This ladder back chair from Pavillion Broadway is a classic example of a Shaker style chair, with a beautifully crafted wooden back and woven seat. The ladder back chair was an extremely popular style and is perfect for creating a rural feel in a kitchen or dining room. The dining table itself should be equally simple, with a trestle table being the traditional choice. This rustic oak table from Lover’s Lounge is a gorgeous dining table that provides enough room for the whole family to sit down together.

In the bedroom, choose a well crafted wooden bed frame that will look timeless. Cherrywood and maple were two of the most popular woods at the time, but most kinds will work equally well within this style. This meridian bed frame from Heal’s comes in walnut or cherry, and has been exceptionally crafted to give an elegant yet clean finish.


Within a Shaker inspired interior it is important to have plenty of storage space in order to create a room which is uncluttered and open plan. Traditionally, peg rails would be hung around the room to provide a place to hang mirrors, tools, clothes and even chairs! This four peg shaker rail from Heal’s is available in light or dark oak, and is a great replica of a traditional Shaker peg rail. Of course we aren’t suggesting you hang your chairs on it, but it would be great in the hallway as a place to hang your coats and hats.

Wardrobes and chest of drawers should sit together on one wall, and be of a similar style. This oak chest of drawers from Alexander and Pearl makes a bold statement with its military style brass handles, whilst remaining uncomplicated in design. This full hanging wardrobe from Puji would pair perfectly with the drawers; the dark wood adding heaps of rustic character to the piece.


Candles provide the perfect finishing touch to this minimalist style, by acting as subtle decoration. Plain candles would make a stunning centrepiece in these walnut candlesticks which have been elegantly crafted for a high end finish.

For a more contemporary take on the Shaker style, add some colour with soft furnishings. This check table cloth from The Contemporary Home will add a homely touch to a wooden dining table, with the grey colour ensuring that the bold gingham print remains neutral. This gorgeous cotton throw from Occa Home will provides warmth and style to a sofa or bed. The deep red colour is in keeping with the Shaker colour palette, and even the heart motif provides a subtle nod to the trend; a common image within Shaker design is a hand within a heart.

The Shakers had many great ideas when it came to home design; the focus on open plan communal living is an idea which transfers easily to contemporary homes where space is often expected to be multifunctional. Although the overall look is somewhat minimal, the importance of good quality pieces of furniture means that the look is timeless and can be updated with the addition of cushions and blankets for those that like a less neutral palette.

Jonathan Charles Ladder Back Side Chair, £351, Pavilion Broadway
candle holder
Pair of Walnut Candlesticks, £152.95, Pavilion Broadway

Style Focus: Art Deco

by Alice Stride on March 15, 2011
Patchwork Cowhide Runners, £101.50, from Graham and Green.

Deck out your home with art deco style

Art Deco has been influencing interiors since its birth at the turn of the 20th century. Even if you don’t realise it, your home has probably got smatterings of art-deco style – those bright, block-colour cushions you’ve got on the sofa? How about your chrome kitchen surfaces, the black and white chequered linoleum in the bathroom, or that reproduction of an of the old, ‘Golden Era’ Hollywood poster hanging on a wall? They’re all throwbacks to the eclectic art deco era. In fact, the offbeat, quirky look that we love to claim as quintessentially British really has its roots in Paris (but we won’t tell if you don’t). Despite being around for a century now, art deco remains as vibrant and contemporary as it did when at its peak in the 1920’s and 1930’s (its reign of glory ended following the outbreak of World War Two). However, despite Hitler halting art deco in its tracks, the glamorous, modern and functional ethos endured, and it’s still a huge influence upon interior-design, architecture, fashion and jewellery today. Here at Furnish, we’ve gathered a few ideas here for you to bring a dash of dazzling art deco style into your home.

Art deco was largely inspired by art nouveau, a movement that explored the imitation of nature. Art deco took on this aspect of art nouveau, but moved it into more modern realms (a bit like wearing a flowery dress with leather biker boots). Flowing, pastel colours and shapes were out and, bolder materials and colours were in, providing a beautifully paradoxical style-statement. The Delft Flying Ducks from Lifestyle Bazaar epitomise this idea; the birds are made from ceramic with smooth, clean lines, and the contrast between their traditional shape, bright colour and gloss finish, is delightful. The stunning Brink and Campman Butterfly Rug from Heal’s is fabulous for the same reason. The contrast between the old-fashioned depiction of natural images and its usage of bold, beautiful colours gives it an authentic art deco edge.

For neutral, nature-centric art deco chic, check out Barneby Gates Wild Meadow Wallpaper, £75, from Rockett St George.

Art deco tends to be associated with very bright colours. Whilst bright colours were undoubtedly a huge feature of art deco style, neutral colours weren’t cast aside altogether. Bold colours, like silver, black, chrome, yellow and red were reserved for the hallway, to make a strong visual statement when people walked through the door, whereas more muted shades of creams, oysters and greens were used in living-room and bedrooms. This added to the quirky, mish-mash aesthetic that art deco was all about. The gloriously kitsch Dotty Wallpaper from 95% Danish would certainly give guests something to talk about when they came in to your home; plus, the charming, retro-style trees tie in with the art deco’s preoccupation with nature. For a more natural wallpaper to suit an art-deco living-room or bedroom, check out the beautiful Barneby Gates Wild Meadow Wallpaper from Rockett St George. This wallpaper would look brilliant as a backdrop to Orla Kiely’s funky and fantastic range, which has clear art deco influences; the lovely Stem Print Doormat has a real ‘back-to-nature’ feel – but the graphic pattern and vibrant colours offset this natural vibe in a perfectly art deco way. The fabulous Lusk Sofa could be straight out of 1920’s Paris: the curved yet sharp shape, the theatrical contrast between the shiny, stained wood legs and the roaring orange colour is eclectic style perfection. Fritz Hansen’s Egg Chair from Utility is fantastically art deco too, with its bold lines and vibrant red colour. It would add a touch of edgy art deco style to any home, and is a true contemporary classic. You can get it in brown leather, too, for a more muted but no less stylish piece.

Geometric, angular shapes were also a huge feature of art deco, thanks to the influence of cubism: painters like Picasso were experimenting with shape and proportion and created a whole new visual aesthetic, which became a popular feature of interior-design. The amazing Large Multi-Faceted Wall Mirror from Graham and Green has a real cubist feel to it, and is a fantastic statement piece, too; I’d prop it on a table in a room that needed a little more light (the multi-faceted angles of the mirror enhances its ability to make the room feel more airy and light). If you’re feeling outrageous and want to plaster your walls with a cubist effect, check out the extraordinary Monroe Special Surface Print Wallpaper from 95% Danish.

The amazing Large Multi-Faceted Wall Mirror, £475, from Graham and Green.

If you’re after something art deco-esque for the floor, check out the Patchwork Cowhide Runners, also from Graham and Green and available in zebra-print or snake-print. They’d make an excellent focal-point for any floor that wanted some art deco decoration: the funky pattern makes for a visually-arresting effect. Furthermore, animal-print was a huge aspect of art-deco. By the 1930s, travel (particularly African safaris) became very popular, meaning that foreign artefacts like animal skins, ivory and tortoiseshell began appearing in the home. I love the Julianne Tortoiseshell Lamp from Decolight; it’s very glamorous, but would look great in an understated room, too. Decolight’s Opera Tortoiseshell Lamp is also fabulous, especially if you want something with a more unusual and less classic shape. The wonderfully kitsch Leopard Print Footstool from London Cows (also available in giraffe print) is pure art deco: theatrical, angular, and oozing Hollywood glamour.

The silver screen of Hollywood had a huge impact on art deco; people wanted to emulate a little bit of the tremendous glamour being portrayed in film, and this is still a hugely popular trend today. I love the stunning Hollywood Mirrored Dressing Table from Alexander and Pearl. Again, it’s a modern art deco piece: angular, mirrored and something I could imagine in Greta Garbo or Jean Harlow’s dressing-room – all that’s missing is a perfume bottle and a powder compact. The incredible Tiger Deco Chair, again from Alexander and Pearl, is pure art deco chic, too. Shiny, silver-flecked material was a huge part of the theatrical element of the movement – and, combining it with tiger-print makes it a true art deco dream.

Art deco has been in our homes for many years, and it’s no wonder why. Stylish, beautiful, functional and oh-so-cool, I expect to see it inhabiting our interiors for a long time to come.

Our pick of the best interior design blogs

by Alice Stride on March 14, 2011
A vibrant snapshot of Bowie's eye for prints and patterns.

Be inspired by the creative brains behind these brilliant blogs

Print and Pattern

The cult, achingly cool pattern blog ‘Print and Pattern’ was created in 2006 by a UK-based designer who goes by the rather alluring alias ‘Bowie Style’. Celebrating surface design and pattern in all its forms, the blog’s objective is to highlight the fabulous, quirky designs found on the UK high-street and within designers’ portfolios. Bowie features the designs of all sorts of lovely stuff: fabrics, wallpaper, greetings cards, gift wrap, stationery, wall art. The site has had over 10 million hits – a testament to Bowie’s fantastic eye for for alluring surface design – and is popular with, buyers, trend forecasters, and anyone who gets a thrill from a surface with a gorgeous pattern. ‘Print and Pattern’ should be the first port of call for anyone seeking some exciting ‘pattern inspiration’ for their home. There’s even an excellent ‘Jobs Board’, listing art, illustration and design jobs for any creative-types out there.

A gorgeous example of Kate's excellent stylist's eye.

The Fabric of My Life

‘The Fabric of My Life’ is, simply put, gorgeous; a mecca of stunning interior-design images and ideas, sweet, thoughtful musings and links to loads of cool websites and pictures. Interior-stylist Kate Baxter, the lovely lady behind the magic, says that her blog is “an inspiration blog, a place where I can collate all my design ideas, passions, thoughts and musings into one big magpie’s nest.” And, luckily for us, she shares it with the world. All of the posts have brilliant ideas within them; my favourite is ‘I Always Judge a Book by Its Cover’,teeming with tips on how to turn your books into decorative items. Browsing this blog feels like shopping in a lovely market – there’s so much to see, but you’re happy to have a relaxed wander around. If you’re seeking some style inspiration for your home, get straight onto this site and revel in Kate’s excellent eye for all things beautiful and fantastic design ideas.

Team Work: Sofa So Good and Hair Cushions by Amelie Labarthe and Elisabeth Buecher of Puff & Flock in collaboration with Ercol.

Puff and Flock

The wonderful textile-centric blog,Puff and Flock, is quite the extraordinary group venture. Puff and Flock is an established collective of designers, united by their ambition to challenge common perceptions about textiles. The group formed in 2008 after meeting at Central Saint Martins, all graduates of the MA Textile Futures course. They debuted their eclectic spirit (to much acclaim) at Interiors Birmingham in January 2009, thanks to the support of Designersblock. Since then, they have gone on to entertain audiences at exhibitions in New York, London, Milan and Birmingham with a variety of ambitious textile installations. Blending craft with industry, and narrative with technology, each designer has her own unique take on textiles, meaning that the blog is a certified melting-pot for different types of inspiration and insights. The blog was a winner of the MyDeco and The London Design Festival Blog Awards 2010 and has contributors based in London, LA and Copenhagan, covering everything from exhibitions and fashion to new materials and science. It’s certainly got a worldly feel to it, with ideas and observations flooding in from all over the place. In fact, so successful is the blog that the Puff and Flock team have launched a gorgeous online shop,www.puffandflockshop.com, showcasing designers from Japan and Taiwan alongside homegrown talent from England and Europe. Most of the work is handmade, totally individual and unique – just like the fabulous blog itself.

Buyer's guide to Blinds

by Mica Kelly on March 08, 2011
‘Birds on a Wire’ roller blind, £64.99, BODIE and FOU

We've put together a handy guide fulll of the best blinds for your home

Blinds provide a great modern alternative to curtains, and look just as great in the kitchen or bathroom as they do in the living room; making a bold feature of an otherwise dull window. We’ve put together a selection of gorgeous blinds in styles to suite every home, in this handy buyer’s guide.

Roller Blinds

Roller blinds are one of the most popular window dressing options, are often the most economical choice. The blinds are made of a stiffened fabric that rolls up completely when open, allowing plenty of light into a room during the day. This stylish bird print roller blind from BODIE and FOU has a quirky design that would look great in a bathroom or kitchen. For a more classic look, this woodland roller blind from John Lewis, has a delicate leaf print that would suit a more neutral home.

Venetian blinds – wood

Venetian blinds add a contemporary finish to windows, and look great in an office or the rest of the home. Made from horizontal wooden slats, they provide a huge amount of light control. Most hardware shops and department stores offer a great selection; for a wide variety to choose from, in various colours and sizes, John Lewis is a great place to start. They offer wooden venetian blinds in a range of different colour finishes and widths, with prices starting from £35.

Botanica Readymade White Blackout Roller Blind Range, £32-£42, Heal’s

Venetian blinds – plastic

Plastic venetian blinds are great in kitchens and bathrooms due to their wipe clean surface. They are easy to find on the high street, with the majority of venetian blinds being made from either plastic, wood or aluminium. Companies like Keeleys Blinds are also a good option, as they offer a wide range of colours and materials in bespoke sizes; you can even request free samples so you can check the style in your room before you purchase.

Roman blinds

Roman blinds are made from soft fabric that hang flat when fully extended, but gather into pleats when raised for a beautifully luxurious way to frame your window. These gerbera print blinds from John Lewis are a lovely classic cream colour, with a bold floral print that would look great in a living room or bedroom.

Black out blinds

Blackout blinds are made from densely woven fabric, and are perfect for completely blocking out unwanted sunlight; a great idea for your bedroom, or for a child’s room in the summer months. This <a href=” http://furnish.co.uk/items/24873-botanica-readymade-white-blackout-roller-blind-range”>blackout roller blind from Heal’s has a stunning floral print that would look great in any room. Heal’s also offer a wide selection in plainer fabrics, for example this linen blackout blind which would be ideal for putting underneath curtains, if you want to limit the amount of light entering your home but prefer the look of drapes.

Georgia blind, £200, Elle Doran

Picture blinds

Picture blinds are a fantastic way of making a real feature of your windows, and make a funky alternative to wall art. This gorgeous Georgia blind from Elle Doran has a stunning print of a red peony flower, and would be perfect for brightening up a kitchen. Picture blinds are a great idea in small rooms when there is little wall space for hanging pictures or other images. This gorgeous forest print blind ,also from Elle Doran, would make an eye catching feature in any room; the serene image of the forest clearing creating a feeling of calm and space.

Before purchasing it is important to take accurate measurements of your window recess to make sure that your blinds will be able to fully extend, and that there is room for the operating mechanism that allows you to close and open your blinds. It is also important to measure outside of the window recess to decide how far you want the fabric of the blinds to extend on either side.

Blinds are certainly a great alternative to curtains, and with a wide selection of stylish and practical blinds to choose from in this guide you’re sure to find the perfect pair for making a bold statement in your home.

Quick Shop: Sofas

by Alice Stride on March 07, 2011
A small selection of our fantastic range of sofas

Our amazing range of the best and trendiest sofas makes choosing one stress-free

The perfect sofa is an integral piece of furniture in the home. It’s somewhere you’re likely to spend a lot of time: drinking, watching films, gossiping on the phone or just having a good old-fashioned nap. So, it’s important that your sofa is just right. To help you choose, we’ve cherry-picked a selection of our favourites to take the hassle out of sofa shopping (it also obliterates the need for a trip to the dreaded D.F.S). From traditional black leather to lush velvet to bright and futuristic, we’ve got a sofa to suit all tastes.

CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Mistral Sofa, £1,425 – £1,950, from Heals. Orange Harlem Three Seater Sofa, £1150, from Oliver Bonas. John Lewis Swan Small Sofa, £1,999, from John Lewis. Black Velvet Two Seater, £895, from Rose and Grey. Fritz Hansen Swan Sofa, £5,018, from Utility. Groovy Black and White Striped Two Seater Sofa, £625, from Sweetpea and Willow. Armstrong Sofa, £1,900, from Lockwood Design. Black Leather Sofa, £995 – £1,595, from Heals. Provencal Linen Sofa, £825, from The French Bedroom Company.

Easy Updates

by Alice Stride on March 06, 2011
The delicious Chunky Slub Throw, £60, from Lombok.

Want to inject some life into your home without spending a fortune? Check out our brilliant guide to updating your interior without breaking the bank.

While you might be a little strapped for cash, it doesn’t have to mean you can’t give your home an update. With a little creativity and time, you can give your home a new look whilst still watching the purse strings. Have a look at our guide to see what you can do!

Painting a Piece of Furniture

We’ve all got a favourite piece of furniture. It’s been in the home for years – perhaps passed down from the older generation – and it’s been loved, enjoyed and, quite frankly, worn-out. But, parting with such treasured items, no matter how shabby, seems a bit heartless. Instead, why not infuse with a new lease of life with a little splash of paint? Plasti-Kote has a fantastic range of decorative spray paints that are easy to use and come in an amazing range of colours. Check out the fantastic Super Spray, available in three beautiful finishes – matt, gloss, and satin. Plasti-Kote paints can be used on most surfaces too, so it’s incredibly versatile, too; I treated myself to a can of Cameo Pink Satin to give a wooden chair I got from a flea-market a girlish makeover. The website also features a charming ‘Ideas Library’ for handy tips on rejuvenating tired furniture.

International Paints also stock a paint specifically developed for this type of mini interior-design project: the fantastic Furniture and Cupboard Paint. It comes in a range of beautiful muted colours with delicious names like ‘Mystical Mushroom’, ‘Lovely Olive’ and ‘Antique Cream’: the perfect paint for updating a home with a neutral colour-palette.

Adding Cushions and Throws

If you don’t want to part with your trusty old sofa or bed but feel that it’s looking a bit old-fashioned, you need some new cushions or throws (or both if you’re feeling particularly flush). A beautiful throw can cover a wealth of sins – wine spills, coffee stains, children’s hand-prints – for a fraction of the cost of replacing your furniture. But, beware: you might become so attached to your new throw that using the sofa/bed is banned. I adore the Missoni Home Erode Throw by Occa Home; the fusion of rustic Italian chic with bright stripes makes it a sure-fired contemporary classic. The Chunky Slub Throw from Lombok is perfect for something simpler but equally stylish (and its name is excellent, too). For something a bit cheaper, check out the excellent-value Cara Throws from John Lewis. In funky purple or classic navy, this lovely throw is wonderfully cosy – and an absolute bargain to boot.

We’ve got an incredible range of cushions to suit all styles and cater to all tastes, too. For all pattern-lovers out there, have a peep at this delightful selection: the sweet Embroidered Bird Cushion from Coco Boat, the stunning Emperor Red Square Cushion from Sweetpea and Willow, and the beautiful Niki Jones Samakand Suzani Crimson Rectangular Cushion from Heal’s. If you’re after a stylish but simple cushion to update your home, the sumptuous Velvet Cushion from Lockwood Designs in soft green might be just the ticket. The Silk Velvet Cushions from Primrose and Plum have a similar feel, and a beautiful oil-in-a-puddle style shimmer to them, too. For something a little more quirky (but still simple), check out the sweet Button Cushion from Rose and Grey.

Add interest to an old sofa with the sweet Embroidered Bird Cushion, £89.95, from Cocoboat.

Using Wall-Stickers

Wall-stickers are having something of a renaissance at the moment, and it’s no wonder. They’re a superb and cheap way to add a quirky touch or focal point to a wall, without the laborious task of re-painting, and they usually come with a humorous edge, too. The fabulous Fashion Wall Sticker from 95% Danish has a great ‘cameo’ feel to it, and despite the fact that fashion changes faster than I can type, it’s a wall-sticker that will remain stylish for years to come. If you’re a true fashionista, this sticker is the one for you.

I love the wonderful Donkey Wall Sticker from Rockett St George – perfect for kids’ rooms. For designs that are a little more classic, check out the Branches Wall Sticker and Falling Leaves Wall Sticker, again by Rockett St George. I also adore the simply lovely Love Birds Wall Sticker from 95% Danish. I find looking at it makes me feel peaceful; it may have the same effect on your home.

Covering a Canvas with Fabric

Covering a canvas with a fabric is a great way to add a totally original touch to your home. You can buy a cheap artist’s canvas from http://www.artistsblankcanvas.co.uk, and use any leftover fabric you may have lurking in a cupboard. Or, why not chop up an old dress or pair of curtains to use, for an eco-friendly splash of style? The brilliant website E-How offers a simple step-by-step guide on how to cover a canvas; they’ve also got a guide to re-covering headboards with fabric to give your bed a fresh look. When you’ve finished your handiwork, you’ve got a wonderful piece of homemade art to display anywhere you like; plus, craft-projects are indisputably good for the soul.

If you don’t have any fabric to hand, check out Ikea’s range; it’s very purse-friendly and there’s a wealth of choice. Now, roll up your sleeves, put some inspiring music on and get creative!

pendant light
A selection of John Lewis's amazing lighting range; the gorgeous Abi Pendant Shade, £110, is centre.

Adding a Rug

This might sound like a ridiculously simple idea, but a new rug can transform the character of a room that’s getting a little staid – especially if it’s a rug that’s quirky and directional, like Rockett St George’s brilliant 62p Stamp Rug. It’s a great way to add a little humour to your surroundings with very minimal effort.

The incredible Dahlia Rug from Caroline McGrath is a real statement piece, and will look fantastic on wooden floorboards. It’s available in Blue/Grey, Orange/Corn and Red/Pink, so you can pick a colour to suit your home. It’s got an amazing futuristic edge to it, thanks to the illusion of it being three-dimensional; however, it reminds me of compass patterns I used to draw as a child, creating a strange but extremely stylish paradox between nostalgiac notions and contemporary styling.

If you like your rugs classic, check out the Designers Guild range from Heal’s; the gorgeous wine-coloured Bernadini Damson and the rustic Amagansett Stripe rugs are perfect for simple contemporary chic.

Changing your Curtains

Changing your curtains is a great way to update a room, particularly as the seasons change. Try light fabrics for spring and summer, and for autumn and winter opt for a cosier feel with velvets and damasks. If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you could even make your own.

The elegant yet quirky Peacock Paisley Curtains from OKA are a fantastic little investment; the colour is neutral enough to work well within most colour-schemes, and the pattern is simple enough to look great in any room. For a beautiful vintage feel, have a peep at the wonderful Vintage Inspired Lace Curtains from Rockett St George. Available in Lipstick (Hot Pink), Candy (Pale Pink), Blue, Aubergine, Pure White or Ivory, there’s a colour for everybody; they can also double up as stunning table-runners. Vintage and retro-styling is super trendy, so add a splash to your home for a modern nod to the past.

Changing your Lampshades

Less tricky than changing your curtains, but no less effective an update to your home, changing your lampshades is a simple way to achieve a new look. We’ve got a fantastic range available to make choosing one that little bit simpler.

I love the ’60’s vibe of the funky Leaf Lampshades from Primrose and Plum: modern shape meets with retro pattern and produces a beautiful result. For a truly stand-out lampshade, look no further than the glorious Abi Pendant Shade from John Lewis. It’s an exquisite piece; the way the shells cascade is simply gorgeous, and it’ll add a beautiful feminine touch to any room. For a lampshade that’s equally striking but more unusual, look no further than the extraordinary Twisted Rattan Pendant Shade from Coco Male. It’s an exotic fusion of earthy material and contemporary styling, creating a piece that is truly unique. Or, check out the incredibly directional Innermost Kapow White Pendant Shade from Heal’s. It’s an innovative piece that’s made from a mass of tubular mesh, but despite its modern material, it somehow works in any scheme.

So, there you have it: easy ideas for you to update your home without impoverishing yourself. Enjoy!

Quick shop: Coffee tables

by Mica Kelly on March 02, 2011
side table
Add the perfect finishing touch to your living room with these stylish tables

We've put together a great range of coffee tables, from the ultra modern to the super traditional

Adding a coffee table to your living area can be the perfect finishing touch; making a stylish statement whilst providing the perfect place to rest your cup of tea! These stunning coffee tables are sure to suit any home, whether you prefer contemporary glass pieces or the timeless nature of a mahogany table.

Clockwise from left: Lady Estelle Coffee Table from Sweetpea and Willow, £995. Albany Round Coffee Table from Tom Faulkner, £999. Eichholtz Oakwood Military Coffee Table Square from Occa Home, £1,450. PALONIA Coffee table from Habitat, £350. Mahogany Folding Coffee Table- Mahogany from Pavilion Broadway, £1,471. Embossed silver coffee table from Lover’s lounge, £275. Knoll Platner Large Coffee Table from Utility, £1,152. Oak coffee table from Rocomara, £726. Deco Mirrored Venetian Round Coffee Table from Alexander and Pearl, £395.

Trend Watch: Nudes

by Alice Stride on March 01, 2011
Picture from www.vogue.co.uk.

Nudes are big news on the catwalks, so we show you how to translate them into your home.

The 2011 trend for soft, sweet nudes and fleshtones provides a feminine, elegant alternative to bold and brash brights. As spring approaches, and with the film Black Swan dominating popular culture, romantic ballerina-esque colours are firmly in vogue. Nudes and fleshtones are a palette of calm: neutral, girlish and very soothing. We show you how to take this beautiful trend and bring it to life in your home.

The nude trend is undoubtedly uber-feminine, but that’s not to say that there can’t be a masculine element, too. Take, for example, the brilliant Montpelier Armchair from Brissi; it’s fit for the king of the castle with its strong lines and earthy wooden frame. Or, why not consider the edgy Manhattan Sofa from the Manhattan 3 range by OKA. The feminine, almost bridal colour contrasts with the masculine, dark wooden frame and piping for a sofa that’s a striking balance of masculinity and femininity. Even the manliest of men will be happy to recline on this gorgeous piece. The Wellness Folding Screen from Metal Design Furniture has the same sort of feel, and is a lovely and practical piece too. You could use it to hide the mess in your bedroom, or to separate a large space into two smaller ones. It’s versatile, beautiful, and contemporary.

The Elk Stag Head Door Knocker provides a quirky take on the nude trend.

If you’d rather have a scattering of the trend within your home instead of larger pieces of furniture, look no further. Furnish has a fantastic range of home accessories in beautiful nude tones so you can sprinkle your surroundings with a touch of femininity. The beauty of the nude trend is its universal feel, no matter what your decorative taste or style may be. Even a room painted in neon-pink or lime-green would look fantastic with some sweet nude accents to offset its brightness. The Henley Cashmere Throw in ivory from The Fine Cotton Company epitomises all that is wonderful about nudes; it’s soft, comforting and will provide a much needed touch of tranquillity in the chaotic modern world. You can chuck it on your bed or sofa for some serene snuggling. The baby-pink Jacqueline Cushion from Coco Male is like a gentle kiss in cushion form, as is the gloriously girly Linen Heart Appliqué Cushion, again from The Fine Cotton Company. Some may think that, with its heart detail and pastel colouring, it borders on being too saccharine – but, to all naysayers, I would remind them that a spoonful of sugar helps the metaphorical medicine go down. We all need some sweetness in our lives – and these cushions help provide it.

If you want sweetness and light, look no further than the beautifully kitsch Pink Blush Chandelier from Sweetpea and Willow. It’s the colour of rosy cheeks flushed from the the wind and strawberry bonbons, and has a real feeling of childhood nostalgia about it – a must for those romantic at heart. If the pink is slightly too Barbie-esque for you, have a peep at the stunning off-white Fame White Chandelier from Alexander and Pearl, available in two sizes. I love the contemporary lampshade over the traditional decorative chandelier; it’s a wonderful fusion of modern and vintage for an eclectic take on the nude trend. The Large Oval Crackle Finish Mirror, also from Sweetpea and Willow, is another classic-meets-contemporary piece: vintage French styling with an edgy nude cream and gold finish. Their Cream French Cheval Mirror is also exquisite, for the same reasons. I’d love to see this mirror in a beautiful boudoir, scattered with make-up and perfume bottles (for some reason, the romantic nuances of nude tones seem to fire up the imagination).

Mix classic and contemporary with the stunning Fame White Chandelier.

If you want something in a nude tone that is especially quirky, check out the extraordinary Elk Stag Head Knocker from Rockett St George. This type of door-knocker is timeless, but this little beauty still feels very contemporary. I love its quizzical, almost comic feel. It makes a fantastic statement and focal point, and ensures that all guests will be very sure that it’s your door they’re knocking at when they pop in for tea and cake.

For a bite-size touch of nude tones in your home, why not treat yourself to some beautiful candles and candleholders? I adore the unapologetically feminine Lotus Tea Light Holders from Graham and Green, perfect for scattering around when you’re having a girly night in with a glass of wine and a good book. Rose and Grey’s Facet Tealights provide an extremely subtle take on the trend, as the clear glass is simply tinted with hints of purple and grey. The Luxury Ivory Candle from Occa Home is also lovely, and the perfect nude accessory for those who don’t wish to commit too much to the trend. Imagine it standing next to the charming pink-blushed Rustic Photo Frame from Primrose and Plum; what a lovely little pair they’d make.

So, when life is getting tough, introduce some soothing nude tones into your home. They’re classic, trendy and simply beautiful. What more could you want?