Five Easy Ways to Revamp Your Home

There comes a point when most people want their home to have a completely new look, but it is not always the case that there is a lot of time or money to spend on achieving this objective.  There are, however, a number of easy things that homeowners can do to give their home a new look without breaking the bank.


A new colour 

Those who have walls that are painted can give a room a new look in a matter of hours with the help of a pot of paint.  A room can be given a fresh, light look with a lighter shade or made to feel cosier with a warmer shade.  If this sounds like too big a job then opt for a feature wall – choose one wall to be a different colour than the rest and this will help it to stand out.

New furniture

Replacing furniture can be expensive but it is not necessarily the case that all of the furniture will need to be replaced.  One good quality piece of furniture can make all the difference.  Black sofas can really feature positively in a room, particularly if other furniture is kept neutral.  If the budget does not stretch to a room full of new furniture, revamp the existing items.  Give wooden furniture a coat of paint for a new look and make use of throws for old chairs.


A new look can also be achieved by changing some of the room’s main accessories.  These can be just a few that are part of a matching set, such as lampshades, curtains, throws and cushion covers, in order to give the style of the room some continuity.  If the budget only stretches to one standout piece then a rug is a good option.  A good quality rug will last for years and can be chosen in a contrast shade to the rest of the decor.

Dressing the windows

In many cases it is the windows that are left until last but it is possible just to change the way the windows are dressed.  Simple curtains can be replaced for blinds or even window shutters to give the room a very classic style.  Shutters have the advantage of being practical as well as stylish.

Choose a style

Giving any room a whole new look could mean deciding on a new style for the decor.  There are several popular looks around at the moment although personal preference should always come first.  It may be that the homeowner prefers a minimalist style for the home but this is not always the most practical for a family.  Alternatively there are vintage chic, country and designer chic styles that can be incorporated into almost any room.  The rooms can then be planned accordingly with the time and budget available.

With achieving a new look for a room it is important to balance what is wanted with what can be afforded.  Not everyone wants to spend hours on redecoration either, so small and easy changes such as these are perfect for making a difference and giving the home a whole new lease of life.

Perk Up Your Home with Tray Gardens

If you live in an urban high rise and long for the bliss of indulging in gardening then despair not, a tray garden in your home is the best way to perk up your living space.  No matter what your design style or space constraints, a tray, some sand, a few pebbles, rocks and coloured stones with some potted plants are all you need to set up your tray garden.

The advantages of a tray garden are many:

  • Your tray garden comes together in a matter of minutes
  • You can arrange and rearrange it as frequently as you like
  • You can celebrate seasonal plants and flowers in your living space
  • You are required to devote just a few minutes towards maintaining it
  • Just some spray watering is enough while the sand absorbs the overflow

In that way a tray garden is ideal for anyone who is short on space and time but would love that green patch or many green patches in their home.  What’s more the choice of how and where you present it is entirely up to you.

You could play around with trays and platters, an old tray or a new one – it’s your call.  Some African Violets in an old plastic tray or some Succulents or Cacti with pebbles on a metal tray or a wicker tray with a colourful spread of Pansies are all ways to add colour and life to your living room, corridors or bedrooms.

Another variation is creating a moss garden on a tray.  For this you will need  a shallow tray which you will cover with a thin layer of potting compost.  Look around the garden for some moss, dig up or cut out small pieces and arrange them on your tray. If you can find different types and colours of moss it will just make your tray garden more interesting.   Add some mossy stones, pieces of bark or shells and your tray garden is ready!

Your imagination is the only limitation to exploring the use of tray gardens in your home.  Here is an idea to create a tray garden your kids will enjoy:

Place little fairies sitting amongst brightly coloured flowers and rock plants if your little one loves fairies and dreamland.  If your kids have a flair for adventure then a dinosaur garden made of ferns and rock plants with little toys peeping through the undergrowth could get your kids interested and excited about the idea of having a tray garden.

A word of caution though. There is a difference between clutter and a good number of plants and other components you can use to create a tray garden.  Don’t go overboard, keep a fine balance, a minimalistic display has its own charm and you would do well to remember this as you decide to perk up your home with a tray garden.

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Easy Tips for a Hallway Fix

You’ve decorated your bedroom, your kitchen, and your living room, but what about your hallway? Hallways often get neglected in terms of design and are left looking bare and boring. However, there are several ways to make your hallway into a room of its own. Take a look at these easy tips for a hallway fix.

Lighten Up

Many times hallways don’t have windows so they don’t get a lot of natural light. If you’re lucky enough to have windows in your hall, don’t cover them up with heavy treatments. Opt for lightweight fabrics or even sheers. That way you’ll let the light shine through while still maintaining your privacy.

For those with windowless hallways, artificial lighting is the best thing you can do to improve the looks of your hallway. Sconces and ceiling lights are the best options for narrow hallways as they don’t take up floor space or hang too low. If you have the luxury of having a slightly larger hallway, you can afford to go full out fabulous and install a chandelier.

Keep in mind that your paint choices are important here too. Lighter colours will make the hall seem larger and less cramped while darker colours will give the hall drama and a sense of coziness. As always, mirrors give any room more light and can make a huge difference in a too-dark hallway.

Get Arty

Art is a great way to add some personality to the hallway. Consider an arrangement of smaller prints that span the wall for a casual feel. For a more formal hallway, try equally spaced identical frames that reach from one end of the hall to the other.

If you don’t have the budget to buy  a bunch of art for the hallway, try this inexpensive DIY project. Purchase at least 3 pre-primed canvases from your craft store. Apply an even coat of paint in your preferred colour. Once they dry, push all three together so the sides are touching. Using a wide paintbrush and paint of another colour, paint a design across all three canvases. You can hang them in intervals along the hall for personalized art.

Add Texture

You would add different textures to any other room of your home, so why not the hallway? Mixing different textures in a room creates a sense of depth that makes a room seem more put together. Try placing a rug or runner in the hall, or better yet – a runner on top of a rug. Mirrors, plants, and furniture can all add different textures to enhance your hallway.

Plan Carefully

Unlike other rooms, a hallway is more for getting you from one place to another, not for resting. This being said, you should be able to navigate your hallway with ease. Don’t put furniture directly outside of doorways or around tight corners. Bulky items should be avoided in the hall as well.

Convenience is Key

An entry way is the ideal place for a small bench to rest on while you put on shoes. It’s also a great place for a hutch or catch all for keys, hats, purses, etc. If you can’t find a piece small enough for your hallway, an easy DIY project you can do in a weekend is to craft twin hutches out of a side table. Cut the table in half and after sanding and painting, mount it to either side of the door. Easy DIY his and hers hutches.

Decorating a hallway doesn’t have to cost tons of money or a lot of time. A few simple fixes is all your hallway needs to become a room of its own.

This article was written by Erie Construction. Follow Erie Construction on Twitter for tips on home improvement.

Hot Furnishings in Cool Pastels

Pastels are making a comeback this season, so buying new home furnishings or decoration in these cool colours will add some hot style to your home and update the look of your favourite rooms.

The latest interior design trend is an explosion of ice-cream shades that look simply delicious whether they’re on walls, furniture or home accessories. This uplifting colour palette is perfect for the start of the new season and is very versatile as you can choose from a whole spectrum of colours from the palest of pastels to soft sorbet colours and bright fruity shades that are so juicy that you’ll want to squeeze them!

Rooms can look chic and sophisticated when you use these subtle hues to enhance the appearance of furnishings. Choose colours that suit your personal style or taste – if pastel pink is not your thing, why not try a dusky darker shade. Soft citrus colours will make a bolder statement if you want to go for design with more of an edge.

This colour trend isn’t just for walls and furniture. Add instant retro style to any room in the house by choosing fabrics and accessories in neopolitan shades of pale pinks, yellows and creams. Marks and Spencer sells a gorgeous 50s-inspired range called Country Pastels which adds a touch of retro charm to your home. Injecting this season’s cool gelato colours around the home will make your interiors look fabulous and this palette works very well in the living room or bedroom. Pastel bedlinen adds a fresh crisp touch to the bedroom and is a calm and spirit-lifting colour.

Cool pastel colours are ideal for smaller rooms in the house as they make interiors look bigger by creating the illusion of more space. Pastels are also great way of adding a crisp and clean look to the home for people who like to keep things clutter-free and simple.

Psychologically, the on-trend pastel palette is good for your wellbeing as well as making your home stylish. Think back to the last time you lay on soft green grass on a sunny day with a cloudless blue sky above you. Or try and remember when you watched the turquoise ocean from a sandy golden beach. How did that make you feel? Research has shown that cool light colours like blues and greens are more calming than darker strong colours like red and black. The most calming colors for interior design schemes are light blue, green, pink, yellow, lilac, lavender and – not surprisingly - white and beige.

So if you want to brighten up your home and your mood this Spring, choose cool pastels and gelato colours for new purchases and bring a little sunshine into your interiors.

Image courtesy of

Buyers Guide: Bodum

Over the last 60 years, Bodum has continued to be at the forefront of  innovative tabletop products and have now perfected a double wall thermo-glass design to keep coffee hot right until you pour the last cup. Their BEAN French Press is a new cafetière that combines classic design and modern materials to allow you to make great coffee safely and easily at home.

The borosilicate double wall glass of the BEAN French Press is encased in colourful silicone plastic which protects the glass and is heat resistant so won’t lose its shape. The handle stays cool to the touch and the lid has some clever handy features. Coffee is kept hot for longer thanks to the silicone gasket connecting the lid and the glass which increases the insulating effect of the double wall glass. A simple thumb lever operates a self-closing spout which allows you to pour coffee without drips and also seals off the lid to maintain the temperature of the contents. The innovative design of this Bodum cafetière also makes it completely spill-proof if ever knocked over on the table. As always, Bodum continue to wow the customer by including a handy 7g scoop to help measure out the perfect amount of ground coffee for each cup.

Bodum’s use of modern materials does not detract from the stylish design of the BEAN French Press so you can be proud to have this classic yet modern cafetière sitting on your table as you entertain guests or just relax over a cup of coffee. The BEAN is available in a range of colours but my personal favourite is the stylish and sophisticated red model. The cafetière was a pleasure to use and kept my coffee hot for much longer than I’ve been used to in the past. I particularly like the fact that the lid lock and lever mechanism means you can pour coffee safely and easily using only one hand.

The French Press, or cafetière, was invented in France during the late 19th century and has been a popular choice ever since with consumers due to the simplicity of the brewing process and the stylish design characterized by leading manufacturers such as Bodum. Cafetières are also more portable and easier to use compared to other coffee makers. It is said that using a cafetière captures more of the coffee’s flavour and essential oils as the coffee grounds remain in direct contact with the water and the filtering is done via a mesh filter.  Another advantage of cafetière coffee is that it can be brewed to any strength by adjusting the amount of ground coffee which is brewed. Bodum recommend that coffee is brewed for exactly four minutes.

If you are interested in the Bodum BEAN French Press and would like to buy one, please go to Amazon.

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Style with Catey Whitmore

In my opinion a person’s home and garden is a reflection of that person’s life, their personality, their past brought back, their longing to be noticed or maybe their hideout or sanctuary. My home is different, it’s pretty, quirky, original and small and my garden is much the same. I’m very impulsive about most things in life, my philosophy is all about YOLO, so if I see something I like, I buy it! I’m not talking huge investment pieces of antique furniture, I’m talking about the old battered pine cupboard, left to swell a bit in someone’s shed. It’s usually dumped at the back of a junk shop or lying on a blanket at a car-boot… £8 spent and I’m away, with said cupboard and a million ideas whizzing through my mind about how to make this piece of, once loved junk, look beautiful again.

That particular little gem that I found now looks amazing… I’ve sanded it, painted it, decoupaged the little draw and handles and varnished it… I hadn’t a clue what I was doing, but that is what made it so amazing, satisfying and well, like my own little creation. I believe that I have found self-therapy and I’m feeling proud. My garden is much the same, a little extension of my quirky home… I’ve got mis-matched pots, filled with topiary, (originally bought for less than £1 each), now worth over £40 each. It’s not really about the monetary value of my stuff or junk at all, it’s about how they make me feel once I’ve nurtured these things into a vision of beauty.

Whilst doing these little self-therapy things in my home and garden, I’m keeping fit (it’s blumin hard graft, hand sanding y’know), healthy (I usually get creative outdoors) and it makes me genuinely happy (I’m pretty sure that if the things I make gorgeous could thank me, they would reach out and give me a huge grateful hug!!). It’s really not difficult at all, doing things up, creating beauty, although, a warning here, it’s addictive! I should know, my little shed is now bursting at the seems with once-loved things.

Every time I pass my shed window, I see them there, all piled up and unstable, just longing to be loved again. In my articles, I plan to tell you what I’ve found, nurtured, seen in someone else’s home or whilst sat on a train… it’s amazing what you see out there, you just have to open your eyes, go back to your childhood and imagine its hidden beauty! Don’t be afraid to take pictures of what you see out there, see this as your appreciation, in the same way you would ‘Like’ something on a social networking site… it’s ok to do these things. Anyway, TTFN, I’m off to renovate an old fireplace!

Buying the Right Duvet for Summer

June has been colder than usual this year but as the weather hopefully warms up, it will be time to say goodbye to the heavier autumn/winter duvets we’ve been snuggling under and say hello to the light summer duvets that will keep us cool over the next few months. A question I am often asked is why bother with a summer weight duvet at all? Surely a duvet that can see you through the whole year is more cost effective?

While it is true that only owning one duvet will be lighter on your wallet in the short term, in the long term an autumn/winter weight duvet will be heavier on you and make you uncomfortable during the warmer months. If you share your bed with a partner, then a summer weight duvet is even more important. Couples generate a lot of body heat and a heavier duvet will store more of this heat than a summer duvet and you’ll wake up feeling like you’ve both spent the night sleeping in a sauna!

There are many different department stores and bedlinen specialists out there selling a wide range of duvets to suit all budgets. In my personal experience, I can highly recommend John Lewis as a supplier of quality bedding that is value for money. To review the different summer duvets on offer, I recently took a trip to the Grand Arcade in Cambridge to visit the city’s premier department store – John Lewis Cambridge. Here are my recommendations to help you choose the right duvet this summer.

Tog Rating

Tog rating is a measure of how well the duvet traps warm air. It is a measurement that was originally developed during the Korean War by the American Air Force for their flying suits. The higher the Tog number, the warmer the duvet. A good summer weight duvet is between 2.5 Tog and 4.5 Tog. If your home is well-insulated then you should go for a lighter Tog rating.

Synthetic Fillings

The polyester hollowfibre duvets are suitable for those who are allergic to feather and down or who will need to wash their duvet frequently. All John Lewis polyester duvets can be washed in a large capacity washing machine at 60ºC. This is the temperature which is hot enough to kill house dust mites that live in bedding and cause allergies. A good quality synthetic duvet can last up to 10 years.

Polyester duvets are heavier in weight compared to natural filled duvets and are not as breathable so if you do not have allergies it is better to go for a natural filling for better comfort. Saying this John Lewis has now launched a new range of premium synthetic duvets called Breathe which are made from Modal – a breathable material that actually draws moisture away from the body and helps regulate body temperature. John Lewis also sells a reassuringly low priced duvet with a filling made from recycled drinks bottles.

John Lewis Microfibre Light Duvet, 2.5 Tog – £30 to £75
John Lewis Microfibre Light Duvet, 4.5 Tog – £35 to £80
John Lewis Breathe Duvet, 4.5 Tog – £55 to £105

Natural Fillings

Duvets with natural fillings are softer and lighter than synthetic fillings. They will also last longer than a synthetic duvet as they are very hardwearing. The natural fillings and covers also make these duvets breathable and therefore give a better night’s sleep. Natural filled duvets need to be completely dried after washing so I recommend you get them professionally laundered by your local dry cleaner as thorough drying may difficult to achieve using a domestic tumble dryer.

The best quality goose down duvets last as long as 30 years. Lifespan is decreased each time the duvet is laundered so only do this as and when required. Avoid lying or sitting on top of your duvet as this crushes the filling and reduces the fluffiness and warmth of your duvet.

Duck feather and down duvets are great value as they are less expensive than goose down duvets. However, they are heavier than goose down and not as soft. Even so, they are still light and cool and a good choice if your budget can’t stretch to the higher quality goose down.

John Lewis Duck Feather and Down Duvets, 4.5 Tog – £30 to £45
John Lewis Duck Down Duvets, 2.5 Tog – £40 to £75

Goose down duvets are lighter and fluffier than duck down, but still offer the same level of warmth. John Lewis manufacture all their goose down duvets in Herbert Parkinson – their own factory in Lancashire. This means that they can ensure the highest levels of quality control. The Hungarian goose down duvets from John Lewis provide luxurious lightweight feel and are so comfortable that they feel like you’re wrapped up in a fluffy cloud.

John Lewis Goose Down Duvets, 4.5 Tog – £55 – £95
John Lewis Hungarian Goose Down Duvets, 2.5 Tog – £70 to £140
John Lewis Hungarian Goose Down Duvets, 4.5 Tog – £90 to £180

For ultimate luxury, John Lewis exclusively sells a premium goose down duvet made from the down of the Winter Snow Goose that lives in the Altai mountains in Russia. This remote glacial region helps produce large down clusters from the bird’s thickest winter coat which are used by John Lewis to create a fluffy duvet that is almost as light as air and is the best quality money can buy.

John Lewis Winter Snow Goose Down Duvet, 2.5 Tog – £180 to £380
John Lewis Winter Snow Goose Down Duvet, 4.5 Tog – £220 to £440

You can buy any of the above quality summer duvets by going to the John Lewis website or visiting your local John Lewis store.

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The Look For Less

Living in beautifully styled home that looks like it’s off the page of a magazine doesn’t have to cost a fortune! Take a look at these designers’ digs and the tips on how you can get the same look for your home for much less!

Liza Sherman’s Eclectic Bedroom

This celebrated antiques dealer from NYC knows what she likes and how she likes it. If you don’t get it, she can’t explain it. Her taste and style shines through in this sunny yellow bedroom that radiates warmth and shows off her cool eclectic style.

Get this look for less by starting with paint. Giving your room a fresh coat is an instant transformer. Sherman’s room uses the same color on the wood floors for added interest. Leaving the ceiling and molding white keeps the color from overwhelming. No need for expensive bedding here. Simple white pillow cases and inexpensive batik throws will recreate the look. For the art, stencil some portraits on thin plywood with spray paint and frame a few of your favorite tees. Eclectic style is all about mixing pieces from different eras and styles, so have fun with it!

Robert Couturier’s French-inspired Entry

Couturier’s work has been featured in Vogue, Vanity Fair and the New York Times. His designs can be seen worldwide and his stylistic instincts are legendary. This entry way was designed with a nod to French design. Rich texture and bold color combine to make this space subtle and glamorous.

Again, a fresh coat of paint does wonders for a space. White will also make a room seem larger, so if you’re living in a small flat this is a great option. The most unique part of this space is the antler chandeliers, but don’t need to purchase a $900.00 chandelier to get the look. You can get a good faux antler wall mount for under $200 online. Same effect, easier on the wallet. Another way to replicate the look of this room is to hang velvety curtains. The texture is luxurious but they’re really inexpensive. If you have time, reupholster some seat cushions in the velvet fabric in a different jewel tone color.

Stolman & Young’s Contemporary Palm Beach Living Room

These interior designers know how to work with bright colors without overwhelming a room. Shades of yellow and aqua mix perfectly to capture the airy atmosphere of Palm Beach. The colors keep it cool while the accessories bring everything down to earth.

Keep things looking lively in your home by recreating this look by Stolman & Young. Keep the color on the walls and in accessories. By leaving the big furniture neutral, the room looks soft and relaxing rather than too bright. Recovering throw pillows with bright fabric is an easy way to update your living room. Paint a few items to match. In this case the lamps on either side of the sofa match the pillows. Pull the whole room together by framing a painting (or poster) that complements the colors you’ve chosen for the accessories in the room.

Adam Lippes’s Chic Dining Room

Sportswear designer Adam Lippes’s dining room is chic and uncomplicated much like his philosophy on clothing design. No need to clutter up the place, streamlined is the way to go. Grey walls and a decorative floral design keeps this minimalist room looking soft and pretty.

Recreate the look of Lippes’s dining room on a dime with these tips. Clear out any clutter in the room, the key here to keep it simple. A coat of grey paint paired with a vinyl sticker makes the same impression as hand painted wallpaper for much less! Add an organic shaped chandelier to echo the wall. Rouge Living offers a beautiful flower chandelier for under $100.00. Mix and match chairs from other rooms of your house for added interest to your dining room table. Complete the look with short vases of fresh flowers.

Jason Wu’s Cheerful Studio

Fashionistas like Ivana Trump, January Jones and First Lady Michelle Obama have been dressed by designer Jason Wu. Here, in the entrance to his cheerful NYC studio he allows art to shine through with an all-white palette. Pops of color on a blank canvas give make this a refreshing, inspirational space.

Wu’s space is easy to replicate because in this case, less is more. Start with a blank canvas. Keep color to an absolute minimum, using mostly metallics and neutrals. Get the look by neatly hanging some of your most treasured wardrobe pieces as art and to add color to the room. Add a graphic throw pillow for a punch of color on an otherwise muted couch. A lovely bunch of hydrangeas keeps the room feeling extra fresh and softens the stark white walls.


This article was written by Erie Construction. Follow Erie Construction on Twitter for updates on home improvement.

Photo Credit: Elle Decor

Colour Shock – Go Big or Go Home!

Who said your walls have to be taupe, eggshell or tan? Neutrals are great, but a little colour won’t hurt. In fact, a lot of colour won’t hurt either! Colour is the easiest way to revamp your space. There are unlimited colours to choose from and not a single one is off-limits. There is a big bold world of colour out there just waiting for you, don’t be afraid of it! Check out these tips on working with bold colours for your home.

When you’re ready to leave your dreary world of beige behind, find colour inspiration in the things and places you love. Take a stroll through the museum and have a look at the famous paintings and their colour stories. Flip through a fashion magazine and see what colours you’re most drawn to. One of my favorite places to find colour inspiration is at the market; specifically the produce section. There are so many vibrant colours there that I often find myself bringing home veggies I don’t even like because the colour is so lovely. Don’t be afraid to use a non-traditional colour like tangerine, lime green, or even black. Bold colour isn’t just for kids’ rooms anymore. With the right accessories and secondary colours, you can make any colour look simply chic.

When you’ve been sufficiently inspired and have chosen your colour, run out and buy samples. Most paint brands offer small sample cans of their colours. Paint a small section of your wall and live with it for a week or so. If you’re not in love with it, you can try another colour. Also, keep in mind that if you decide to go with high gloss paint it will be less kind in disguising any painting mistakes or imperfections on the wall. Matte colour will do a better job masking flaws.

Painting the entire space with bold colour is going to make a big impact. They key is to keep the space balanced to prevent it from looking over-the-top. Keep your space looking sophisticated by using a tried and true colour story. It’s very simple to do, just consult the colour wheel.

Bold colour + Neutrals – If you’re not ready to abandon all of your beige, it’s ok. Bold + Beige (or neutrals) is an easy combination to work with. Using a soft backdrop for a bold colour makes your colour choice stand out.

Complementary Colours – When you’re looking at a colour wheel, complementary colours are directly opposite each other. For example, yellow is opposite violet and they are complementary. These colour combinations bring out the best in each other. It works best if one colour is slightly subdued to bring out the richness in the other.

Related Colours – Related colours are located right next to one another on the wheel. For example, green and yellow-green are related.

Monochromatic Colour – A monochromatic colour story uses different tones of the same hue. Subtle variations of a single colour are not difficult to find. The best way to determine the additional colours to use is to check the swatch from your wall paint. Each swatch card has several different tones of the same colour.

Take a look at these amazing colourful rooms for inspiration for your next room colour overhaul. And remember, bold is definitely beautiful.


This article was written by Erie Construction. Follow Erie Construction on Twitter.

Buyers Guide: First Class Cuppa

The Stamp Collection is the chic creation of Gift Republic, a multi award-winning gift company who produce mugs bearing designs using iconic Royal Mail stamps. This is the ideal gift if you’re looking for something quirky and unusual for a friend or loved one. They look so beautiful that it’ll be hard to resist treating yourself to one as well.

The stylish bone china mugs are hand finished in the UK. They don’t just look good but are also fully dishwasher and microwave safe. The range has the Royal seal of approval as it is officially licensed by Royal Mail Ltd and the British Postal Museum & Archive.

A popular design is the Sent With Love mug shown below. Designs are based on the familiar red first class stamp or the blue second class. There are also a range of multicoloured designs which will add style to every cuppa.

Other designs in the range are tailored for a First Class mum, dad, brother, sister or friend. There are also tongue-in-cheek designs called “I Rule” and “Queen of Everything”!

A Stamp Collection mug will add a bit of posh to every tea or coffee break. They are generously sized and made to a very high quality. The mugs look very tasteful on your desk or dining table. Who would have thought that stamp collecting could be so stylish?!

Gift Republic also sells a range of other stylish gifts on their website.

Images reproduced from Gift Republic

Buyers Guide: Loveliness at EMU

City Connect has the pleasure to announce that EMU, the new Cambridge-based home accessories company, has launched its online shop – – ready for the summer. Read their press release below.

A fresh approach
EMU is an exciting new Cambridge-based company, selling an enticing range of beautiful home accessories, stylish gifts and shabby chic furniture. The EMU message is pure and simple: they sell ‘lovely things’ at affordable prices. EMU sells these ‘lovely things’ at local markets in Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire; at two retail outlets: Swan Antiques, Interiors & Gardens, Hemel Hempstead and The Barn, Kneesworth; and now online at

Who are EMU?
EMU is a creative retail partnership between husband and wife team Kevin and Jenni – each bringing their design and innovation experience from their previous careers in the hospitality sector and publishing industry, respectively. Their passion for the “lovely things” in life (they love to drink tea from china cups, whilst dipping into a good book) has evolved from furnishing their own home – blending their favourite design styles with “upcycled loveliness” – into creating EMU, a true source of loveliness for all styles of home.

Make yourself at home
EMU aims to ‘fill your home with loveliness’ by offering an eclectic and visually interesting mix of home accessories, from the popular ‘shabby chic’ range, such as French-style photo frames, hearts and hooks, through to coastal, Indian and Moroccan-themed products, such as shaker-style wooden signs, Indian hanging elephants and coloured glass lanterns. With its core values rooted in interior design, EMU successfully pairs French-style hanging hearts with vintage fine bone china cake plates and colourful Indian footstools.

Form and function
EMU’s range of home and garden furniture strikes a harmonious balance between new and ‘upcycled’ pieces that complement old and new house styles alike. A rather special addition to EMU’s products is its ‘upcycled’ range: lovingly restored and refurbished key furniture items ranging from unique plant stands to kitchen tables and country farmhouse dressers. A Loire-style dressing table sits effortlessly alongside a Gustavian chic console bench and a beautiful rustic potting bench. EMU offers unique design statements to suit every style of home, from bedsit to mansion. EMU values every customer and goes out of its way to provide friendly and professional service – whether customers buy online, over the phone, at the market or from the EMU shops.

Fair’s fair
EMU’s commitment to the WFTO’s values is visible through its carefully selected range of Fair Trade products, handmade in India by workers’ co-operatives. The money made by the co-operatives goes towards developing clean water projects, building local education centres and providing family clothing for the poorest workers.

Here in the east
After the success of local fairs and events this summer at Newmarket, Grantchester and Cambridge Town & Country, EMU attracted a huge amount of local shoppers, who have gone on to enjoy buying unusual gifts, home accessories and furniture at local markets (Hitchin and Royston). More fairs are lined up in the autumn and winter, including the Gransden Agricultural Show and Knebworth’s Christmas fair.

Just a click away
EMU has now launched its fully functional online shop – – where customers can find the complete range of EMU furniture, including the ‘upcycled’ range, plus all EMU’s stunningly gorgeous gifts and home accessories. And the good news is: the delivery charge is low for small orders, making EMU the perfect way to fill your home with loveliness.

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Cambridge’s Eco Homes Open Their Doors

Cambridge Carbon Footprint are organising an Open Eco Homes event this month in Cambridge to inspire the public to make eco-friendly home improvements which can help save the planet and a bit of cash along the way. Open Eco Homes include a timber framed custom built house, a Victorian terrace house and even a narrowboat!

Fifteen homes in and around Cambridge will be opening their doors on Saturday 18th and Sunday 26th June to show what can be done with solar panels, sedum green roofs, wood-burning stoves, ground source heat pumps, wall insulation, in-home electricity generation, and many other measures fitting a wide range of budgets ranging from DIY to professional installations. The homes include old and new, big and small, and are warm and comfortable while economical in energy use.

Have you been thinking about low energy solutions or putting solar panels on your roof, for now or in the future? Eco Home owners are enthusiastic about the changes they have made and are happy to share their experiences, ideas, costings and excitement. You can find out what worked and what didn’t, and about the reality of giving your home an energy makeover.

You can see the homes here and choose which ones you’d like to visit. To book your guided tours call the Energy Saving Trust on 0800 512 012. Lines are open 9-7 Monday to Friday and 9-12 Saturday.

Liz Knox, the Open Eco Homes Project Manager, says, “There is a growing community of home owners with an infectious enthusiasm for making these changes, and helping others make them too. What’s great about it is that it brings people together.”

An exciting launch event has been planned to kick off the Open Eco Homes days. The launch event is called Eco Renovation ‘Question Time’ and comprises of a panel of local low energy homes experts; followed by wine & soft drinks, and a chance to browse stalls. The launch is free and starts at 7.30 pm on Friday 10th June at St Luke’s Centre, Victoria Road, Cambridge CB4 3DZ. Click here to see the Open Eco Homes leaflet for more information.

Visits to the Eco Homes will take place in guided tours of small groups at scheduled times, 10.30am, 12 noon, 2pm and 3.30pm on Saturday 18th and Sunday 26th June (Suggested donation is £3 per person per home). Accessibility: Private homes have different levels of accessibility so please ask for details when you call.

Open Eco Homes is organised by award-winning local charity Cambridge Carbon Footprint, in association with the Energy Saving Trust. It builds upon the success of last year’s initiative, with dozens of volunteers freely giving their time to make the event happen. Funding has been generously contributed by Cambridge City Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council and local businesses: Ridgeons, Midsummer Energy, Mole Architects and East Green Energy.

About Cambridge Carbon Footprint
CCF helps people work together creatively to make real reductions in their CO2 emissions. They have four main aims:
– Promote public engagement with the problem of climate change
– Help people make substantial reductions in carbon emissions
– Approach the issue from a psychological, social & cultural standpoint
– Move us collectively towards a lower-carbon society
For more information, check out their website.

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Buyers Guide: Top 5 Home Accessories

There is so much choice out there when it comes to accessorizing the home that deciding what items to go for can be a bit of an interior design headache. Debenhams has an excellent range of home accessories and I’ve chosen my top 5 must-have items that highlight the best of their selection. Whether you’re going for the vintage look or contemporary style, there’s something to suit any taste at Debenhams with many items now reduced in their Easter Extravaganza sale.

Retro Telephones
Add some retro style to your home with a classic telephone. This Wild & Wolf trim telephone takes you back to the 70s with its bold turquoise colour and funky design. Create a chic vintage look by coordinating it with other retro accessories or position it on its own as a bold statement piece.

Union Jack Cushions
With the Royal Wedding and St George’s Day both coming up this month, there is a visible patriotic influence appearing in home accessories. Union Jacks are on everything from teacups to plant pots. Cushions are a simple way to reflect this style trend in the home and they can be a talking point amongst your guests. This BDL by Ben de Lisi cushion has a trendy Union Jack design on the front with a bright red back and a contrasting yellow trim.

Lacquer Photo Frames
Bright colours aren’t just a trend for your wardrobe – update your decor with bold photo frames in glossy bright colours. Add accents of colour to a room using brightly coloured frames. The Butterfly by Matthew Williamson lacquer frames in bright blue are a personal favourite and is available in two sizes – 4” x 6” and 6” x 8”.

Artificial Flowers
Flowers help make a house a home – but using fresh flowers can be costly as they are usually past their best after a few days and often need replacing. A great alternative is to use quality artificial flowers to decorate the home which last for years and never need watering! Artificial flowers already arranged in a vase will add instant colour and warmth to a room. Top florist Jane Packer has designed a beautiful plastic floral collection for Debenhams. The prettiest and most unusual item from the collection is this blue hyacinth in square glass vase.

Decorative Table Lamps
Lighting has always been the ideal way to transform a room and table lamps are perfect to add atmosphere and decoration to the home. The best designs to go for are lamps that look just as decorative when they’re off as when they’re on – which is why I love these stunning rocha.john rocha cut out lamps. They are subtle as well as stylish and look like an attractive ornament when not lit. The lamps are available in small and large.

All these home accessories plus many more are available from the Debenhams website or visit your nearest store by using their Store Finder.

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Buyers Guide: Colourworks

It’s time to celebrate the first birthday of the Colourworks collection – a comprehensive range of cookware that combines functional materials with stylish design and bright colours perfect for this time of year. Designed by the award-winning kitchenware company – Kitchen Craft – and launched at the beginning of 2010, the collection is a versatile and cost-effective way of adding funky colourful style to any kitchen. Versatility comes from the option to mix, match and co-ordinate items from the Colourworks collection which are available in a selection of fun colours including this season’s on-trend colour – orange. Prices start from £6 making the range very cost-effective.

Different high quality materials such as silicone, nylon, stainless steel and melamine are used throughout the collection, giving choice and adding their own benefits to suit different cooking scenarios. Hygiene and flexibility come from the use of silicone which is totally safe to use on non-stick surfaces. Colourworks utensils are also stain resistant and heat resistant up to 260°C which makes them perfect for all cooking applications. The majority of utensils are dishwasher safe. What’s more, every item in the collection comes with a 5 year guarantee which demonstrates their durability and longevity.

Kitchen Craft is one of the UK’s largest kitchenware companies and has won numerous industry awards year on year. The company was first established in 1850 by Thomas Plant and is still a family-run business to this day, being owned and managed by members of the Plant family who are direct descendants of the founder. Kitchen Craft is an international business and their products can be found in leading department stores, cookshops and mail order companies in the UK and around the world.

Selected items from the Colourworks collection can be found in all good cookshops and department stores nationwide, including the BHS and Debenhams stores in Cambridge’s Grafton Centre. Below are some of my favourite items from the collection available at BHS.

Reversible Chopping Board
This chopping board is made from polyethylene which is non-toxic, non-stick and stain resistant. Because it is reversible, you can safely cut raw meat on one side and vegetables on the other thus avoiding cross contamination of food. The polyethylene is also gentle on knives which means that you can chop away with the confidence that your blades will stay sharper for longer.

Measuring Spoon Set
This five piece measuring spoon set includes measurements of 1/4tsp, 1/2tsp, 1tsp, 1/2tbs and 1tbs so they are ideal for use when following recipes that require exact measurements for perfect results every time.

Silicone Cupcake Cases
These silicone 7cm (3”) cupcake cases are sure to brighten any day of baking. Being silicone these cases are re-usable as well as being heat and stain resistant. They are available in a pack of twelve containing cases in each of the Colourworks colours to enable you to co-ordinate with other items in the range.

Melamine Colander
This colander is made from virtually unbreakable melamine and is perfect for draining pasta or vegetables. It features a stylish two tone design – white on the inside and coloured on the outside – and has a capacity of 2.5 Litres.

Ice Cream Scoop
This ice cream scoop has a wide angled ergonomically designed handle with soft touch panel which makes serving ice cream easy and comfortable every time.

‘Y’ Shaped Swivel Peeler
This swivel peeler has a fully rotating stainless steel blade on its ‘Y’ shaped head which is specially designed for fast and efficient peeling.

Can Opener
This can opener with wide angled, soft touch ergonomic handle which is comfortable to use and makes opening cans a quick and easy task.

Wing Corkscrew
This wing corkscrew with double soft touch handles and body is sure to brighten any kitchen or dining table. The double handles are comfortable to use and will make opening wine bottles quick and easy.

Silicone Tongs
These silicone tongs have stainless steel arms and are 30cm long. Available in a range of colours, they are guaranteed to brighten up any kitchen or barbeque. They can be used safely on non-stick surfaces and are heat resistant to 260°C as well as being stain resistant.

Flexible Silicone 28cm Splatter Guard
This long handled silicone splatter guard is heat resistant to 260°C and will protect you and your surfaces from spitting fat when frying. It is a really useful addition to the kitchen battery of tools and utensils.

To see more of the Colourworks collection, pay a visit to BHS Cambridge:
29 Grafton Centre
East Road
Tel: 0845 841 0154

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