Tag Archives: interiors

Discovering Seasonal Sparkle with HomeSense

A couple of weeks ago I had a jolly jaunt to Birmingham with some friends. We took in some of the festive sights, sipped hot mulled wine and generally enjoyed a bit of seasonal sparkle. The real reason for our visit to Birmingham was in the evening we were going to the HomeSense Christmas party for a bit of fizz, some lovely nibbles, a good old natter and to have a bit of a sneak preview of some of their gorgeous Christmas decorations.

The party was at The Lost & Found Cocktail Bar in Birmingham, a huge and beautifully designed bar, with a secret entrance to a private area hidden behind a bookcase. We arrived to find the party in full swing. The fizz was flowing, a large table filled with HomeSense Christmas products sparkled and glistened in an adjoining room. 

Discovering Seasonal Sparkle with HomeSense

I was delighted to see that the key Christmas colour on display was gold. I am firmly in the red and gold camp at Christmas. There were also lots of copper themed decorations on the table and stags (or reindeer) seemed to be prevalent. In fact I quite fell for this chap.

Discovering Seasonal Sparkle with HomeSense

As I looked around the table, a few things caught my eye including a glorious showstopper of a candelabra which I thought would cost over £100 was a little under £40. Everything seemed to be incredibly reasonably priced and so pretty. It made me want to throw all of my existing Christmas decorations away and start from scratch.

All of the products on display seemed to be really good value, with some things just a few pounds, and the most expensive thing around £50. I was very taken with the glittery table-runner (below), very eye-catching and a real statement piece for your festive table.

Discovering Seasonal Sparkle with HomeSense

I’ve never visited a HomeSense store before, but one has opened up fairly locally to me, so I will make sure I pop in and have a proper look at their Christmas baubles, wreaths, lighting and candles. All of their stock is heavily discounted, with up to 60% off their usual RRP.

We had a lovely evening at the HomeSense Christmas party. I think we all went home rosy-cheeked and full of festive inspiration. 

For more Christmas decorating ideas and information on where you can find your nearest HomeSense store, visit their website.

How we brightened up our home with a Litecraft Floor Lamp

It wasn’t until the clocks went back at the end of October that I really appreciated how dark my living room was, and that first night of early darkness was a bit of a shock to the system. Clearly we needed to make improvements to the lighting at home. Our old table lamp just wasn’t cutting it anymore, so we opted for a new floor lamp from Litecraft.

We wanted something stylish and contemporary without being too avant garde and challenging. I also wanted a light I could work under. Our old lamp had always been too dark to use to read by, or do any close work like sewing. I’ve known for a couple of years we needed something better, a light you can’t really see with isn’t really that helpful.

There were lots of different styles to choose from, but we thought this chrome tripod lamp with the mocha coloured shade would fit the bill. I think it strikes the right balance in my living room. It blends in well and looks at home, but it’s still an aesthetically pleasing lamp.

litecraft floor lamp

Ordering online was easy, the website was easy to search and navigate and my lamp arrived really well packed and wrapped in bubble-wrap. All we needed to do was screw the leg pieces together and put the lamp shade on. It took no more than a couple of minutes. 

The mocha shade really works well with the colours in my living room and importantly, you can see what you’re doing of an evening. The shade is well made, it’s not flimsy and it’s obviously made with good quality materials.

You switch the lamp on with a foot press switch, a chunky switch which lives on the floor. It is 151cm tall and the shade is 44cm in diameter. It’s a lovely, bright, clean and contemporary looking lamp and a fine addition to my home. I’m really pleased with it.

litecraft floor lamp

We’ve had the floor lamp in our living room for a little over a week now and the difference it’s made to us in the evenings is significant. We are no longer sat there with the “big light” on, the room feels much cosier, but it’s now much lighter, so much so I can now sit and read and sew if I want to. 

This beautiful floor lamp from Litecraft was £179, but I’ve noticed on the Litecraft website that it has been reduced to under £81 and delivery is free. I think £81 is a really good price for such a good quality light and lamp shade.

I’m as pleased as Punch and I know this will be a part of our living room for many years to come.

Note: We were sent this lamp for review purposes, all images an opinions are our own.

Review: Finding Dory Bedding from Character World

This summer, one of the big kids movie hits was Finding Dory. We’ve had a lot of chatter and excitement in our house about this forgetful fish since the film was released. Imagine his little face when I handed him some Finding Dory Bedding from Character World! 

Back when I was a child there was no such thing as character bedding. My bedding was plain and fairly unexciting. Now I really love character bedding and I really enjoying picking out new sets for my son. I always think that new bedding is a quick and fairly inexpensive way to give a bedroom a fresh look. 

This new Finding Dory Bedding really works well with my son’s bedroom. We painted it last year with a dark blue feature wall which we stuck glow in the dark stars on. The blue works with most things and this aquatic themed bedding is no exception.

Finding Dory Bedding

The Finding Dory Bedding is brightly coloured and good quality, the bedding feels soft, not stiff like some bedding can be when you first take it out of the packet and it is made from 100% polycotton. This bedding is also reversible so you are able to choose one of two designs to have as your bedding, which the small boy loves.

One side has got a picture of the Finding Dory characters and is mainly a blue colour. The other side of the cover is a white background with different coloured fish. I’d actually have the shoal of fish side as my bedding. It’s colourful and fun.

The pillowcase has “Making a Splash” written on it and it works with both sides of the bedding.

The boy couldn’t wait for us to make his bed up with the new bedding and got into bed as soon as he could so he could enjoy it. I was delighted with this accidental side-effect – an early night!

In addition to the Finding Dory Duvet Set, we were sent a Finding Dory Hooded Towel (which is perfect for round the swimming pool on holiday) and a lovely Finding Dory cushion to go on his bed with him.

Finding Dory Bedding

The Finding Dory bedding from Character World has been a big hit. I’ll be looking out for other character bedding from them, because the quality and colours are excellent and it washes really well. You can’t really go wrong.


Disclosure: We received the Finding Dory bedding for the purposes of writing this review, all opinions and images are our own. Contains Amazon affiliate links.

Is Your Home Office Giving You Headaches?

When you work for yourself, you can find that your work schedule frequently spills over into leisure time and before you know it, you’re sleeping less, feeling decidedly less relaxed and the more aligned work life balance that had been part of your original plan seems to have gone out of the window. Another potential hazard is headaches, which along with colds are reportedly the number one cause of absenteeism from work and when your work for yourself, sick days are a tricky topic to navigate. Headaches can be stress induced from overworking, brought on by lack of fresh air or may at least in part be due to an ill conceived desk set up, so how do you protect your health in your home office and is your home office giving you headaches?

Is Your Home Office Giving You Headaches?

Let there be light – in the right places
It’s very important to introduce natural light into a working space. Not only will this help you feel bright and more awake, it is also proven to aid a good sleep pattern and productivity. If your desk is nestled in the corner of another room away from a window, consider aiding flow of light with bifold doors. These from Vufold are available in both classic oak and more modern finishes to match your décor.

Whether you are positioned near a natural light source or need to rely on a desk or ceiling lamp, you’ll need to take steps to prevent glare on your computer screen, which can trigger headaches and migraines. Position it directly in front of you with the top at eye level and take time to set the brightness and contrast level to comfortable settings. Glare from light bulbs and windows can cause issues, so try and ensure they don’t shine directly on your screen. Along with careful positioning you may want to fit an anti-glare cover to your computer screen.

Find the right angle
It’s not just your computer screen that needs to be in just the right place, if you’re spending more than a few hours a time at your desk it’s recommended that you invest in an adjustable ergonomic chair. As well as supporting your lower back, you should be able to alter the height and position of your chair so that it comfortably supports you at the correct height to comfortably navigate your keyboard and mouse and type with your hands in line with your arms and wrists straight, this should stop nasty aches and pains developing. If you find that your feet are away from the floor when you’re at desk level, purchase a tilting foot support and resist the urge to cross your legs, it’s really not good for you!

Keep things fresh
Keeping a clean and tidy desk doesn’t just help you to find and do things quicker, it also minimises the amount of movement you need to make, which can help you avoid uncomfortable twisting and turning of your head and neck. Back pain is a common byproduct of working at desks and while regular massages can ease problems, it helps to take preventative measures too. Can you position items such as calendars and telephones within easy view and reach? You should also clean your keyboard and desk regularly – it’s estimated the average keyboard harbours over 7500 bacteria, which is not the kind of office party you want to be promoting.

Take a break
One of the best things you can do to protect your health and productivity is to take regular breaks. Try and step away from your screen for five to ten minutes every hour and think about getting some fresh air during your lunch break too. Staring and sitting for long periods can cause a host of problems with your back, legs and eyes. While it can feel like taking a break is slowing you down, spending a moment stretching or resting your eyes will keep you more comfortable, which could just help you finish that important project.

How is your home office set up? Do you wish you had more sunlight or a more comfortable desk or chair? Are you good at taking regular breaks or do you find yourself staring at your screen and typing for hours on end while you’re in the zone? Perhaps you’re planning a home office refurb to support your health goals?

If you have any tips for creating a healthy and comfortable work environment, please share them below.


All You Need to Know About the Broken Plan Decorating Trend

There was a time not so long ago when fresh from watching hundreds of Grand Design episodes showing Kevin McCloud and ambitious home builders loudly extolled the virtues of open plan living that such layouts were the very height of modern design. For many years now we’ve been in love with open plan living and the freedom it provides but now, now there’s a new kid on the block. The good news is you won’t need to shed your space in favour of separation. In fact, a few barriers can go a long way in the land of broken plan living, the newly emerged trend being championed in the media by publications such as The Guardian.

Why are we suddenly talking broken instead of open?

In the recent RIBA house of the year awards, the phrase broken plan was used by one of the judges, Mary Duggan, to describe a feature of many of the shortlisted properties. Many of the homes that were put in front of her for consideration have the common feature that they’re in essence open plan living spaces but with elements of interconnection built in. The expert explains in the Guardian: “Broken-plan living was a topic that came up during the tour.”

What’s driving the broken plan trend?

While we inevitably have programmes like Grand Designs and Location, Location, Location to thank for helping open plan living to take hold here in the UK, broken plan living is apparently being driven by our changing leisure habits and the technology behind them. Long gone are the days when kids retired to the computer room after a family dinner to consult Encarta for help with their homework. Now, thanks to on demand TV there’s no real need to be in separate rooms while partaking in different activities and even if the whole family wants to watch different things they can do so on different devices all in one place. That said, sometimes a little distance is preferable for this type of activity and according to Ms Duggan that’s what’s behind the broken plan trend – a desire for a little privacy when playing on our tablet computers or even working from home. Open spaces are still very much on trend but there’s a need for pockets of separation, what equates to old style snugs in very new style homes.

broken plan

Creating “pockets” of private space in open plan areas is known as broken plan living.

How can you embrace broken plan living?

If you have an open plan home you might already have made your own personal adaptations to your space, so that it contains separate areas that work for you. You might have an entertainment area that sits on the upper part of a split-level space or perhaps you have fashioned your own office space by sectioning off an area with floor to ceiling bi-fold doors like these classic designs made by Creative Doors Direct. As broken plan living is about making a space work for you, there’s no real need to start re-erecting walls, it’s all about making considered use of all that beautiful open space and finding your own little nook within it.  

Has your interest been piqued by this post? Do you really rather like the idea of creating a cosy spot where you can sit and read a book away from the action or do some online shopping without double screening in front of the TV? Get started on your own broken plan living arrangement now by using items already in your apartment such as bookshelves or other furniture to help you section off a more private area.

A change of circumstances, such as becoming a parent might also create a need for more broken plan living. Open spaces can be really freeing unless you’re chasing a toddler from one end to the other while picking up toys that are scattered from the kitchen area through to the wider living space, then distinct areas can definitely have their merits!

What do you think about broken plan living? Is it something you’re already on board with? Have you recently moved from open plan living into something a little more separate? If so, did you work on the existing space or up sticks? Share details of your projects below!

This is a sponsored post.


Nursery to boys bedroom – weekend makeover

In September the small boy began school, he’s growing up fast and we couldn’t be more proud of him. One thing that’s niggled us for a while had been his bedroom. When we moved into our house he was 10 months old and we didn’t have the time or money to do much with his room, other than paint it white and get new carpet laid. It was always on our to do list for the future, the list has been ignored for four years now, so it was time to do something about it.

This was his room before…

boys bedroom

With the help and advice of interior designer Joanna Thornhill and Hillary’s Blinds we identified that his room seriously lacked storage space and needed an injection of colour. 

His room was a mess, without any proper storage his toys were everywhere and there wasn’t much of a theme going on. The white walls made the room bright, but it felt stark and boring.

boys bedroom

Joanna gave us some short and mid-term advice which we took on board… 

1. You could add brighter tones in any accessories or wall art in tones of turquoise and green, using red in small doses as an accent. Industrial style is a big trend right now which your son might like, so perhaps you could bring in touches of this by adding a cage-style light or a grey textured rug, and updating furniture handles with vintage metal-style pulls.

2. Storage looks like it’s an issue – could you opt for a bigger bookcase and swap places with the chest of drawers? The tall mirror could maybe then move to the side of the wardrobes if the space becomes tight for it in its current spot. Invest in some storage baskets for the bottom shelves for toys, with space above for books.

3. His bed sits quite neatly into that alcove but when he moves up to a full-size single – why not look out for a daybed with hidden storage (or a spare trundle bed for sleepovers) underneath? This would fit the space well and allow his bedroom to double up as a living room all of his own. Opt for some plain bedding (denim, maybe?) then dress with fun cushions along the back.

4. Your curtains look great and seem ‘grown-up’ enough to take your little boy through to double digits at least – I’d use these as a starting point and let these influence the rest of the space. They are a greyish teal colour so perhaps you could use these to bring colour into the room, possibly opting for a lighter steel-blue on the bulk of the walls with a bolder teal making a feature somewhere (perhaps in the bed alcove?)

Using her advice we decided to paint a teal feature wall and decorate it with stars, we had a shade mixed for us at B&Q which was evocative of the night sky without it being too dark. I bought some luminous stars from my local toy shop, Giddy Goat Toys, decorated the feature wall with them and added the blue star light he’s always had. I wanted to keep things simple so we could change things up a bit as he grows. 

boys bedroom

We bought some extra storage from Ikea and put the bookcase on top of the chest of drawers to make a bit more space. We also gave him a little stool to use to climb up and choose his bedtime story.

boys bedroom

His bedroom looks and feels more like a boys bedroom now and less like a cluttered nursery. There are still a few more things we need to do, but we ran out of time over the weekend. We need to sort his lighting out, put a new blind up and eventually get him a full sized single bed. Not to mention sorting through his wardrobe and clearing out his old toys.

We didn’t blow the budget on it either, the paint and the stars came in at under £30 and the storage unit with boxes was about £100 from Ikea, we bought a few other things for his room too, like a new lampshade, a blind and the footstool, but I can safely say we got change out of £200.

But what did Spider-boy think of the transformation? I think he liked it!

boys bedroom

But my favourite bit is the starry-night wall which I’m actually very tempted to recreate in my bedroom too. I think we’ve managed to makeover his room in a way which will grow with him. The stars can easily be removed and replaced by something else if he wants, the storage has already made a massive difference to his room, and it looks fantastic too.

boys bedroom

The makeover was done in conjunction with Hillary’s Blinds, you can find out more about our makeover transformation, and see how the other bloggers involved transformed their homes on the Hillary’s Blinds website.

Holiday Inspiration for the Home from Culture Vulture Direct

The thing about going on holiday is that when you return home you tend to look at your house with fresh eyes. Sometimes you look and think “I love my little house”, sometimes you just think it needs a bit of a spruce up. I often return home with a head filled with visions of shimmering blue oceans, hot sands and inspired by the culture I’ve spent the last few weeks visiting.

In my case, though you may not feel it exotic, we’ve just had a glorious fortnight in Cornwall. The sun shone and we spent our days pottering around fishing villages, relaxing on the beach and eating al fresco. When I got home I wanted to recreate a little bit of the coastal vibe in my suburban home and bring a bit of the seaside sunshine back with me.

On my return home I checked out Culture Vulture Direct, a lovely little online shop full to the brim of beautiful things for your home and garden, inspired by and sourced from all over the world, including New England, Scandinavia, India, Greece and Morocco, amongst many others.

Culture Vulture Direct

Having returned from Cornwall, I wanted to fill my house full of the beautiful blues of the sea, they don’t have a Cornish section, but they have the next best thing, Greece. I was immediately drawn to the beautiful hydra jug, a gorgeous chunky water jug, with an interesting and practical design, perfectly blue and only £24.99, it really jumped out at me. It’s now in regular use at mealtimes, it’s possibly my favourite thing on my dining table!

Culture Vulture Direct

The unofficial symbol of Cornwall these days seems to be the mackerel, it’s everywhere. We already have some fishy themed things in our kitchen to remind us of our Cornish adventures, so we decided to add to our existing collection. I chose a useful fish trivet (£14.99) which will be great for everyday use, as well as for when I need to plonk a hot casserole dish on the table, as well as a shoal of (fridge) magnets (£12.99). The magnets are hand carved and painted in shades of blue, they look lovely on our fridge and they really fit in with our fishy theme.

Lastly I bought these beautiful shantou bowls (£22.99) from China, they come in sets of five and have been hand painted. I loved them on sight. We eat a lot of Thai and Chinese food so these will be used for our takeaway and fakeaway nights.

Culture Vulture Direct

Wherever you’ve been on your travels, or if you’ve been inspired elsewhere, then Culture Vulture Direct is a lovely, easy to use website with reasonably priced products for your home and garden. They also sell clothes, jewellery and accessories. I enjoyed shopping with them and I’ll be dipping in and out throughout the year, buying treats for me and presents for others.

Written in collaboration with Culture Vulture Direct.