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How To Add More Pieces With Personality

Your home should be the place where you get to be your full self, so why would you hide that fantastic personality? The days of clean lines, clear surfaces and colourless living are giving way to a new era of fun, bold colours and quirky touches.

We’ve been inspired by the Isaac-Matthews’ home, which is where we popped in to film a TV advert, and the tasteful way they’ve curated a grown-up looking home that’s cosy and family friendly with little hints of fun dotted about.

If it’s not your thing, we’re not going to tell you to add a flocked bulldog to your lounge. But if you’ve always wanted to dip your toe in to more character-rich decor or you’re already revelling in the personality-filled accessories out there, we’ve got a few recommendations for you.

Not everything needs to be ‘out there’ to make a difference to your decor. Something that looks distinctive against your normal home backdrop can make the whole room change – like our gorgeous Arkin chair. It’s got that retro, sort of old fashioned but somehow new look that people are head over heels for at the moment, and it comes in 3 colours to blend (or stand out) with your decor.

Occasional chairs are great for adding a new dynamic to your room, because not only do they add a new seating option (it’s on you to bagsy it first) but it can make you rethink the placement of your other furniture to accommodate it, which could lead to something new.

This probably isn’t going to be news to anyone, but we love a good cushion. The power of cushions is this: they’re small, affordable, and you can experiment with colour and pattern with very little commitment. They’re the best way to try out a trend or have a bit of fun, like our cute face cushions that combine uplifting summery colours with cheerful faces. There’s no way you and your guests won’t get a kick out of seeing this pair smiling back at you from the sofa.

Stylish lighting is another great way to inject interesting design into your home without disruption. By adding a new light, you’re adding a new accessory that will add to the overall look of your room when it’s off, and when it’s on it could literally change the whole look of the place. We love our Tanner table lamp because it has such a stunning, distinctive shape, and the smoked glass bulb take the edge off of the brightness for some cosiness without a lampshade. It’s a sleek and stylish piece that is sure to catch the eye of any visitors, and it comes from a family of matching lighting pieces so you can build up a coordinated look if you fancy it.Ornaments are also an easy way to push the boundaries of your decor, and our very cute gold-finished monkeys will add a fun flourish to any surface. At an adorable 10cm tall, we’re pretty confident that any home will be able to find room for them, and as they’re fashioned in the style of the three wise monkeys (see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil) you can have fun placing them in a comical scene. They’re a great example of how choosing a smaller accessory can give your home a cheeky little wink of fun.

…And we weren’t joking about the flocked bulldog. This good boy is made from a durable poly-resin which gives him some great detailing, and covered in a luxurious flocked texture in rich black so his coat shines like the almost-real dog he is. Pieces like our flocked bulldog work well as accent pieces to other items, so they look great on a side table beside a lamp, plants or other trinkets to vary the height, colour and texture of your accessories.

Intrigued? Excited? Unsure? Give it a go and see where the mood takes you. Our advice is to have fun with your decor and give yourself a smile every time you step into your room.

How To Zone An Open Plan Room

If you’ve seen our TV ads, you might remember seeing the beautifully presented ‘everything room’ in the Isaac-Matthews’ home. The family of four recently moved into their Kingston home, and really showed us how great a well-zoned open plan room can work.

With the increase in new builds and refurbishments, open plan rooms are on the rise. With fewer walls in the way, open plan spaces have a light, airy feel and creates one area that everyone can enjoy together even if they’re doing different things. Opening up your space really frees you up to make the area work for you, and ‘zoning’ will help you get the most from your room.

Open plan spaces need structure and purpose, otherwise it can look and feel like a free-for-all. The key to this is strategic use of a few key items.

A clear seating area

Whether it’s a modular sofa or a sofa and chairs combination, arrange your seating in a way that clearly defines that area, using an L or U formation. Add a coffee table or ottoman in the centre and a rug beneath, and no one is going to question the purpose of your lounge area.

The back of the sofa defines the end of the section, and can be a good place to pop a console table or similar storage piece, populated with items helpful for the adjoining section.

Defined dining

For many of us the dining table isn’t just a ‘dining’ table – it’s a homework, a laundry sorting, paint, glue and glitter table, that happens to get used for food a couple of times a day. It’s multiple uses make this piece of furniture an important part of your multipurpose room, so it deserves a generous piece of the pie.

You’ll need a table that’s big enough for your usual occupants (your family or regular amount of guests), and to give your table the best shot at fitting in, find a shape to mirror the shape of the room (usually rectangular but you never know), and is in scale with the size too. Too small and it’ll look lost, too big and it’ll overpower the other areas.

A table and chairs set will give the space it’s base, so all you need to do is allow enough room behind the chairs for people to sit down and get up from the table comfortably. A large rug can help reinforce the zone, and you can make sure the dining set looks harmonious with the rest of the room by selecting dining armchairs instead of traditional armless seating. The more casual looking armchair style will create a nice flow between your comfy sofa area and the more formal lines of the table and kitchen.

If a dining island isn’t your thing, try a dining bench against a wall for a cosy less floaty solution.
Open faced shelving

It’s a bit like adding a wall, but one you can see through and store stuff in. Using a bookcase or storage unit creates a visible barrier to block off a route or area, which might not be what you’re looking for if you’re chosen an open plan home, but opting for shelving that can be seen through can be a happy medium between clearly defined zones and having a clear view of everything. If full height is too much, a waist-high unit will still divide the space without being so dominant.

Embrace sideboards

Also a great option for shorter storage, a sideboard can sit nicely between living room area and dining area, or dining area and kitchen area, provide much needed storage space, and you can use the surface for decorative accessories that can be admired from any point in the room.

Consistency can be key. In a traditional home you could get away with a different colour scheme in every room, but if you’re bringing functions together into one space, having a consistent or inconsistent style is more noticeable. A strong colour palette can make the room come together and look cohesive, but you can still play around with accessories in different colours to make the different sections fit together and have their own thing going on. Just bear in mind that while your grandparent’s antique lamp might have been a centrepiece in your previous dining room, it might stand out for the wrong reasons if you’ve moved to a super modern open space.

From “Garden” To Table: Grow Your Own

For the ultimate in fresh produce and locally sourced ingredients, growing your own fruit and veg is the way to go! It’s a lot easier than you think, and depending on what you want to grow, you don’t even need a garden let alone an allotment. You can get your foot on the fruit and veg growing ladder with something compact and quick growing like herbs on your window sill, or use your window boxes for lettuces!

Starting small

Herbs don’t take up much room, and they’re handy to have on the kitchen window sill when you’re garnishing your meals, however, your micro garden will benefit more from being in direct sunlight for 8 hours or more. You can boost their light exposure with a fluorescent light overhead. They’re not very picky when it comes to planting conditions, so you might want to retrieve some containers from the recycling and give them a second life. Depending on the herbs you choose, they’ll take around 4-6 weeks to be fully formed, and then you can start harvesting their tasty leaves for a very local finishing touch to your meals.

Potted plants

Carrots, peas and beans are staples of cuisine, and can be grown in plant pots inside or outside. Carrots will need a bit of depth for them to grow, but because they all grow as individual plants you can get several over a wider surface. Beans and peas will grow upwards and need a stake to cling to, but their vertical growth make them space-economical.

Quick growing greens

Lettuce is a great all-rounder for salads, sandwiches and sides, and grows quick and easy in a fairly shallow container – you’ll only need about 4 inches of depth.

It’s in the bag

We couldn’t talk versatility and ease without mentioning the humblest of heroes – the potato. These guys will flourish in a simple grow-bag, so you can prop them up in a small space with ease, and far from being an okay stand-in for ‘proper’ ground space, growing potatoes in a bag, burlap sack or even a cardboard box is better for you when it’s time to harvest as you’ll know those ‘taters will be within a fixed area.

When growing indoors, in a greenhouse or in potted planters, your vegetation will be missing out the added nutrients and soil aeration that worms and insects can provide. You might need to boost your soil with plant feed to get that essential extra goodness in there. Don’t forget that you can use a thin layer of old coffee grounds on the top soil as a slow-release fertiliser for your plants as they contain nutritious nitrogen.

Once you’ve harvested your homegrown produce, serve it up in style with beautiful dinnerware >

How To Make Reusable Face Pads 

Remove single-use cotton pads from your cleansing routine with our step by step crochet instructions and create your own fully washable face pads. Fair warning – this is a crochet how-to, so you’ll need a little know-how before you begin!

How to crochet make-up removal pads

    Terms we’ll be using:
    Magic Ring
    Ch – Chain stitch
    Dc – Double Crochet

Sl St – slip stitch

  1. Magic ring to start, Ch3 then Dc11 into the magic ring. Sl St to the top of the Ch3 to complete the round (12 stitches total)
  2. Ch3, dc into same stitch. 2 dc into each stitch around. Sl St to top of Ch3 to complete the round. (24 stitches total)
  3. Ch3, dc into same stitch, *dc into next stitch, 2dc into next stich* around. Sl St to top of Ch3 to complete the round. (36 stitches total)
  4. Cut the yarn about 10cm from your project then pull through the last loop on your hook. Sew in your ends and you’re ready to go! These can be used to remove make up in a more eco-friendly way as rather than throwing them out you can simply wash them with warm soapy water.

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How To Make Reusable Fruit & Veg Bags

If you’re looking for ways to reduce your plastic use, use our step by step crochet instructions to create some compact, reusable and washable produce bags. Fair warning – this is a crochet how-to, so you’ll need a little know-how before you begin!

    Terms we’ll be using:
    Magic Ring
    Ch – Chain stitch
    Dc – Double Crochet

Sl St – slip stitch

How to crochet a shopping bag

  1. Magic ring, ch3. Dc13 into ring. Sl st into ch3 to finish round (14 stitches total)
  2. Ch3, dc into same stitch, 2dc into each stich around. Sl st to top of ch3 to finish round. (28 stitches total)
  3. *Ch4, sk1, sc1* 13 times. Ch2, sk1, dc into first stitch of the round (14 loops)
  4. *ch4, sc in loop* 13 times. Ch2, dc into dc from last round (14 loops)
  5. *ch6, sc in loop* 13 times. Ch3, tr into dc from last round (14 loops) Repeat this round 11 more times.
  6. 2sc into same loop you just created then 5sc into each loop around. When you get back to your first loop 3sc to make a total of 5 in that loop. Sl st to first sc to finish round. (70sc)
  7. Ch4 (counts as dc, ch1) *ch1, sk1, dc 2* 23 times, ch1 and join to 3rd chain from the beginning of the round.
  8. Create a chain long enough to feed through the top of the bag or use some ribbon as a tie.

When it comes to cleaning, pop them in a bowl of warm soapy water and give them a gentle handwash before hanging them up to dry.

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Superfood Salad Recipe

Whether you’re trying to eat more healthily, get your five a day as efficiently as possible, or you’re just a big fan of fresh flavours, our superfood salad is the perfect dish. Salads can be on the blah side, but this one is big on flavour with a surprising combination of healthy ingredients. It’s also quick and easy to create, so it’s great when you’re short on time but still want to impress.

For the salad

  • Spinach (for a strong immune system)
  • Goats cheese (calcium, phosphorus and copper nutrients for healthy bones)
  • Half a medium pomegranate (antioxidant, rich in vitamin C, potassium and fibre)
  • Handful of pumpkin seeds (a great source of protein)
  • Beetroot (another antioxidant that is high in vitamin C and fibre)
  • 1 avocado (one of the “good fats” that help us absorb nutrients)
  • Blueberries (antioxidant high in vitamin C and fibre)

For the dressing

  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Honey
  • Sea salt
  • Black Pepper

Chop the spinach, baby tomatoes and cooked beetroot, add the seeds of half of a pomegranate, crumble the goats cheese on top, then add, a third of a punnet of blueberries. Toast a generous handful of toasted pumpkin seeds in a dry pan until they’re golden and they start to crackle, then sprinkle over the top.

Make the dressing in jug using 60ml extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard for some heat, and a tablespoon of honey. Mix and season with rock salt and black pepper to taste, then drizzle over the salad.

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Kitchen Helpers That Are Kinder To The Planet

When we think of wellbeing in the kitchen, we tend to think about the quality of our diets, but this spring we’ve extended our reach to see what changes we can make to take better care of ourselves and our environment too. With just a few simple swaps, we’re hoping to effect some positive change to our personal and environmental wellbeing.

Swap single-use plastic containers for re-usable glass canisters and air-tight food storage. Properly stored ingredients and leftovers can reduce kitchen waste, and reusable containers are healthier for the planet too. Check your local shops to see if there’s a zero-waste store nearby, where you take your own containers to fill with kitchen basics.

Instead of buying lunch every day, make your own at home (maybe with some of those tasty leftovers from last night) and use beeswax wraps to keep them fresh. You can use them, wash them and reuse them lots of times which will reduce your needs for plastic.

Cut down on your plastic use when you’re going shopping by taking cotton shoppers with you, or you could try making your own fruit and veg bags. We crocheted ours from wool, so they are washable and easy to scrunch up small to fit in your pocket or bag.Swap your kitchen accessories to natural materials like wood, wicker, cane and rattan to give your cooking space a more natural influence that is ultimately biodegradable.

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Simple Storage Tricks For Kids’ Rooms

Little ones have a lot of stuff, so we’ve gathered out favourite ways to keep the colourful chaos in check.

Encouraging your child to take charge of their toys and tidy them away makes it clear that their room is their own space. You can involve them in the planning by asking what coloured storage they’d like, what goes where, and how they’d like to customise it so they are a part of the whole process.

  • Divide and conquer by grouping similar items together with colourful boxes, trays and clothes pegs. Categorising their types of play ensures that when they decide to draw, dress up or build a castle, all of the pieces come from the same place, and go back in the same place.
  • Create a dedicated art space for them to get creative. Invest in a small table and chairs an easel, maybe even paint a wall with blackboard paint like @eli_at_home has for her youngest to create a backdrop for their creative expressions, and have a gallery wall to hang their favourite pieces if the fridge is looking a bit busy.
  • Low level storage is perfect for kids to tidy their own stuff away, and it’s easy to paint or use removable wallpaper to update any furniture when they get a bit older.
  • Out of sight isn’t always out of mind, especially when you’re a little one, but under-bed storage can be a great option for hiding a good bulk of soft toys between teddy bear’s picnics.
  • Use hanging storage to make the most of the vertical space to add personality while also keeping the floor clear. While it’s space-efficient, hanging storage can be better suited to infrequently used toys as depending on the height of the storage they might need your help getting toys in and out safely.
  • Another vertical option is to add floating shelves for things they use less often, prized toys they’ve outgrown but won’t part with, or heirloom pieces. Floating shelves can make great display pieces as well as adding extra storage space.

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10 Steps To A Peaceful Bedroom 

Physical comfort and mental calm both increase your ability to sleep well – read on for 10 tips to create a serene bedroom.

  1. Colour choices
    Using a calming blend of neutral colours can provide your mind with visual cue that it’s time to unwind. If you’re worried about it lacking in the looks department, you can still have a bit of colour in the mix with accent shades on cushions and throws. Having said that, if neutral colours don’t tick your box at all, choosing a décor style that you find comforting can have the same effect.
  2. No mess, no stress
    A neat room is always going to be a nicer place to be, so staying on top of the tidying will help to reduce your pre-sleep stress. Have a good clear out and invest in some stylish storage for everything that makes the cut, and you should find it easier to maintain a calm and clutter-free space.
  3. Comforting textures
    We spend so much time in bed it’s really worth investing in your bedding. From finding the right mattress and pillow types to keep your body properly supported, to choosing fabrics and fillings that feel just right for your needs, each element of your bed has an impact on your comfort. If you have a regular sleep position, this can be a good indicator of the kind of pillow you need – soft for front sleepers, medium for back sleepers, and firm for side sleepers. The same goes for mattress types, as the aim is to keep your head, neck and spine aligned and reduce pressure points.
  4. Natural materials
    Bedding looks are a matter of personal taste, but it’s proven that natural materials like cotton, silk and bamboo offer superior breathability and therefore more sleep comfort. These materials are better at ‘wicking away’ moisture from the skin to help regulate your temperature, which should mean you’re less likely to wake up from overheating.
  5. Calming scents
    Your nose is a powerhouse of sensory processing, and you can use this to your advantage when it comes to night-time calm. Lavender is the classic calming scent, but there are other options out there. Scented candles are great as part of a peaceful bedroom (just make sure you don’t drift off while they’re lit), but we love a reed diffuser as they take care of themselves while delivering a slow release of soothing scent. Pop one on the window sill or your dressing table and keep your bedroom door closed during the day to contain the calm, then once you step inside you’ll get a gorgeous waft of relaxing aromatherapy right before bedtime.
  6. Digital detox
    We all love our tech, but making your bedroom a phone, tablet and laptop-free zone can improve your wellbeing and quality of sleep. The combination of notifications and blue light emitted from our beloved screens can keep your mind alert when it should be winding down, so if you struggle to stop scrolling, employing a ban on gadgets an hour before bed will give you the space to shut off.
  7. Get paper-back in the habit
    If going to bed without your phone leaves you bored, try a good old fashioned book for size instead. Light reading can lead to a much smoother transition into sleep.
  8. Light levels
    So as we’ve mentioned, light can have a big impact on relaxation levels, so we recommend using some low level lighting in the evenings to help your wind down. Treat your bedside table to a lovely table lamp that will light just enough of your room to keep it cosy while not being too startling on the eyes. To help you have a peaceful night throughout, we also recommend investing in a pair of blackout curtains, which block all external lights from disturbing you.
  9. Friendly foliage
    Plants are still riding high in home trends, and we’ve yet to find a room that they can’t make better. From the comforting green leaves to the fact they make our air a little bit nicer, we love a plant!
  10. Keep your bedroom for bedroom stuff
    Your bedroom should be your sanctuary of peace and calm, so it’s best to keep anything else outside if possible. Maintain a strict sleep and relaxation-only space will help reinforce that feeling of serenity.

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Goodbye Bathroom, Hello Spa-throom

A good soak in a hot bath has been a staple of our self-care rituals for a long time. It’s the best way to melt away a stressful day or give yourself pampering experience at home, and while your current set up is probably fine we think you deserve better. We’ve got some great ideas to turn your everyday bathroom into a stylish spa-throom, and they’re nice and easy too, so you can start enjoying your personal pamper paradise immediately.

Colour yourself calm

Choosing calming colours is a good place to start, but you don’t need a full repaint. Add towels and accessories in muted tones to soften the tone, or go full spa mode with crisp white.Invest in fluffiness

Spas always have amazingly thick and fluffy towels, so go ahead and treat yourself to a towel upgrade. Getting out of the tub feeling all shiny and new only to dry off with a rough old bit of towelling will ruin the spa-throom illusion, so invest in some premium plushness.

Show or stow?

Swap your plastic bottles and clinical storage for alternatives in natural materials and finishes, like rattan baskets and wooden cupboards. Keeping your spa-throom clean and tidy will make it much more relaxing, but you still need somewhere to stash your cotton buds and lotions, so choosing a tidying option that’s easier on the eye ticks both boxes.Bath rack ’em up

Perfect for calming candles, your favourite face mask and a glass of cucumber water, a bath rack or side table will keep your pamper essentials in easy reach.

You better be-leaf it

Greenery is good for your air quality and are said to have a soothing effect on the eyes and the mind. Lots of plants will happily live in a moist bathroom environment while needing very little care, which makes them perfect housemates. Low lighting and high humidity isn’t suited to all of our leafy friends, but spider plants, aspidistra, peace lilies and ferns should do fine. Faux-plants will also give your room a burst of brightness without the risk of over or under watering, if you’re not so hot on plant care.

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