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December 21st  

Find the perfect gift for a green-fingered friend this Christmas with our pick of the top ten gifts for gardeners.

1. Camellia Japonica, Trees Direct

Camellia Japonica from Trees Direct

This beautiful spring flowering camellia has dark glossy evergreen leaves and looks good all year round. Camellias are ideal for experienced and novice gardeners alike, as they’re fully hardy and can be grown almost anywhere, and these come in a choice of double red, pink or pure white. Prices range from £35 to 42.40 from Trees Direct.

2. Gardeners’gift crate, iHampers

Gardeners’ gift box from iHampers

Hedge your bets, and treat your favourite gardener to this lovely gift box containing speciality tea and biscuits to round off a hard day in the open air. There’s also a high quality gardening fork and trowel set, scented soap and exfoliating hand wash. Was £53.90 now £43.90, available from iHampers.

3. Gardeners’ tool box, Orla Kiely

Orla Kiely tool box

Designer Orla Kiely has introduced a range of garden accessories featuring her love of pattern and colour, and we like this sturdy tool box. Perfect for storing hand tools, plant labels, seed packets and even for keeping that cheeky packet of biscuits safe from the mice, it’s made from galvanised steel and printed with the classic Linear Stem print. £39, available from Quince Living.

4. Chrysanthemum secateurs, Burgon & Ball

Burgon & Ball secateurs

This pair of secateurs has comfort grip turquoise blue handles, and is presented in a gorgeous gift box featuring pretty chrysanthemum artwork from the RHS Lindley Library. The blades are made from heat treated high-carbon steel, and other features include an easy release blade lock and a notch for wire cutting. Made by Burgon & Ball, the secateurs are endorsed by The Royal Horticultural Society and cost £17.95 from Annabel James.

5. Set of three garden prints, Moore Designs

Set of three garden prints from Moore Designs

This set of three mounted garden prints feature vintage tools that evoke a bygone era. The original tools belonged to the grandfather of metalsmith Alex Moore, and Alex still uses them in his garden today. The rustic photographic prints have a white background and are simply mounted onto 19mm birch plywood. £60 for the set, available from Moore Designs.

6. Gardeners’ gift set, The Oak Room

Gardeners’ gift set from The Oak Room

An unusual gift for green-fingered friends, this set, £14.99, includes a 120m spool of Nutscene garden twine, a set of 10 packets for storing seeds, a Woodland Trust notebook to keep track of what you have planted in your garden, a British Birds pencil and a British Birds storage case with metal clasp. Available from The Oak Room.

7. Green fingers mug, Sophie Allport

‘Green Fingers’ mug from Sophie Allport

A pretty ‘Green Fingers’ fine bone china mug, which will appeal to any gardening enthusiast. It features illustrations of wellington boots, trowels, vegetables, watering cans and herbs and is available in two sizes - standard, with a capacity of 275ml, and large with a capacity of 425ml. Prices start at £9.50, available from Sophie Allport.

8. Typography enamel bird mug, Berry Red

Enamel birds mug from Berry Red

This enamel mug is virtually unbreakable, so ideal for brewing up outside. It features an illustrated bird design and background type taken from a bird watchers’ manual,a dn has a capacity of 400ml.  £8.50, available from Berry Red.

9. Silver plated herb markets, The Cutlery Commission

Silver plated herb markers, The Cutlery Commission

Here’s a quirky gift for the gardener who has everything – a set of four silver plated sawn-off’ forks made into herb markers, with the words ‘Parsley’, ‘Sage’, ‘Rosemary’ and ‘Thyme’ hand-stamped above the fork prongs. Hand-customised in the Cotswolds, the set costs £26 from The Cutlery Commission.

10. Lawn ranger watering can, The Contemporary Home

‘Lawn ranger’ watering can, The Contemporary Home

The slogan on this watering can will either make you laugh or groan, but it’ll certainly make an unforgettable gift! The khaki coloured metallic watering can emblazoned with a lawn ranger logo costs £18 and is available from The Contemporary Home.

 

December 16th  

Create a cosy home with tartan Christmas decorations

With its festive patterns and strong, bright colours, tartan’s a popular choice for traditional Christmas decorations.

Whether you’re going all out tartan-tastic, or just adding a hint, check out these decoration ideas!

1. 3D tartan Christmas tree decoration, Gisela Graham

3D tartan trees

A tartan tree decoration in traditional red and green. This would look great on a traditional tree themed with red velvet ribbon bows and gold bells. £3.50 for one, available from The Contemporary Home.

2. Tartan crackers, Tesco

Tesco tartan crackers

Family crackers from Tesco, in shiny tartan and gold foil with gold ribbon decorations. £4 for 12, available from selected stores. For more information, visit www.tesco.com.

3. Tartan bauble, Heatons

Heatons tartan bauble

This simple cloth bauble would make an impact used as part of a wreath, as a mantelpiece display or, of course, just hanging for the Christmas tree. Accessorise with plain red and green accessories to stop your display looking too fussy. £1.50/2 euros, available from Heatons.

4. Tartan stars, Poundland

Tartan stars from Poundland

This great value set of decorations includes three hanging tartan stars, made from wood, felt and cloth and topped with a button. £1 for the set, available from selected Poundland stores. For stockist information, visit the Poundland website.

5. Tartan Christmas bells, Gisela Graham

Tartan bells in round or traditional shapes

Available in round or traditional shapes, these Christmas bells would be ideal tied to the front door knocker to herald the arrival of seasonal guests. Alternatively, use as tree decorations. £4.50 each, available from The Contemporary Home.

Tartan facts

Finally, here are a few things you may not have known about Scotland’s favourite symbol, to wow your Christmas guests with!

  • 1. A true tartan is a woven material, usually woollen, which has stripes of different colours in different widths. The checked appearance is made by the ‘weft’ (widthways) thread when the cloth is woven.
  • 2. A form of tartan dates back to the Irish Celts who immigrated to Scotland in the fifth century BC. One of the earliest examples ever found dates back to the third century AD, when a small sample of checked cloth was found used as a stopper in a jar.
  • 3. The origin of the name ‘tartan’ isn’t clear, but it may derive from the Irish ‘tarsna’ meaning ‘crosswise’, the Scottish Gaelic ‘tarsuinn’ meaning ‘across’ or the French ‘tiretaine’ which was a type of wool/linen cloth.
  • 4. The first recorded mention of tartan as a kind of clan uniform was in the 1745 rebellion. Local communities would normally wear similar tartans, as this would be governed by the plants and dyes the local weaver had access to.
  • 5. After the rebellion, the government of the time made it a penal offence to wear tartan, although this didn’t apply to aristocrats, women or government soldiers. The Tartan Act had the opposite effect to that intended, though, and Highlanders began to go to great lengths to wear tartan in secret. The act was repealed in 1782.
  • 6. In 1842, Queen Victoria visited Scotland and heralded the start of the Victoria love affair with the country. Her interest sparked the popularity of tartan, and she had two patterns designed especially for her – the Balmoral tartan, and the Victoria tartan. Other famous people and organisations with their own tartan include Scrooge MacDuck, Donald Duck’s Scottish uncle, the Los Angeles Police Department, the FBI, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have one and the Royal Air Force. Dozens of regions have their own tartan, including numerous American states and Canadian provinces, as well as Brittany in France. Tartan is popular across the globe, and popular in any country that has a population with Scottish roots.
  • 7. Tartan has now become a multi-million pound industry, and is inextricably bound up with Scottish cultural identity.

(Top image credit: Shutterstock)

December 9th  

Christmas present gift ideas for cooks from Cosy Home blog

If someone you know loves nothing more than pottering around in the kitchen, they’ll love our pick of the top ten Christmas presents for the keen cook.

1. Regent retro toaster, Rowlett

 British made to industrial standards, and in continuous production since the 1960s, the Regent toaster has been given a modern facelift with new contemporary colours. This heavy duty retro style toaster, £190, has four wide slots, and dials for the required number of slices and the degree of toasting. A fun and practical present to strike a cheerful note in any kitchen. Available from Anahi.

2. Enamel prep set, Falcon

This six-piece classic enamel prep set contains one colander and five mixing bowls. The separate items are made to be stored together, freeing up your cupboard space. Enamelware is porcelain fused onto heavy-gauge steel, making it smooth, durable, dishwasher safe and rust-proof – a must for any busy cook. £55, available from Bear and Bear.

3. Egg collecting tin, Annabel James

Egg collecting tin

Egg collecting tinThis cheerful, sunshine yellow egg collecting tin would make an ideal gift for someone who keeps their own hens, but would also look great as a kitchen storage egg rack. With carry handle, holds 6 eggs. £8.95 from Annabel James.

4. Starter set, SteakStones

SteakStones starter set

SteakStones starter setSteakStones are a new idea, where food is cooked on hot stones. The dry heat of the stone sears in the natural moisture and flavours of your chosen meat or fish and with no oils or fats required it’s a fresh and healthy way to cook. This starter set makes a good introduction to hot stone cooking, ideal for serving a selection of scallops and king prawns with some chilli sauce and lemon mayonnaise. £50, available from SteakStones.

5. Beekeeper’s custard jug, Laura Lee Designs

Beekeepers' custard jug

The design of this pretty hand painted jug features colourful flowers swaying in the breeze with busy honey bees hard at work. On the back is a little tin bee smoker in the grass softly puffing into the summer sky. Made in a limited edition of 250, this jug would also make a pretty vase for wildflowers. £35 from Laura Lee Designs.

6. Cream Coco stove top chocolate pot, La Cafetiere

Coco stove top chocolate pot

Every hard working cook needs the chance to put their feet up, and this aluminium stove top pot is just the thing to help you get your strength back with some fresh hot chocolate. Add chocolate and milk to the pot and place it on the stove, then use the frother to create a rich and creamy treat. The pot features a non-stick inner coating and soft touch handle and comes with a protective silicon mat.£45, available from La Cafetiere.

7. Set of two storage tins, National Trust

National Trust Country Kitchen storage tins

Keep your cakes and biscuits lovely and fresh in this set of two nested cake tins, featuring the blue floral design from The National Trust Country Kitchen collection. Inspiration for the Country Kitchen range came from a beautiful wallpaper in the collection at Oxburgh Hall, a National Trust property in Norfolk. £16.99 for the set, available from Creative Tops.

8. Wicker storage unit, Melody Maison

Melody Maison wicker storage unit

Perfect for storing anything from vegetables to table linen, this drawer and wicker basket storage unit is made from wood with a grey washed painted finish and will create some useful extra space in the kitchen. The drawers are half width with an antique brass cupped handle on each. £99.95, available from Melody Maison.

9. Her Ladyship tankard mug, The Great Gift Company

Her Ladyship tankard mug

We all know someone who’d appreciate this fine china tankard mug with the words “Her Ladyship” on both sides of the mug in royal and striking cobalt blue – shades of Downton Abbey. The mug is dishwasher safe and holds 420ml. £15, available from The Great Gift Company.

10. Chilean laurel bowl, Richard Shock

Chilean laurel bowl by Richard Shock

This beautifully smooth handmade wooden bowl would be ideal for holding fruit, or as a serving bowl for snacks. Made from Chilean Laurel with beautiful burr patterns and simple, elegant curves to show off  the wood, it’s handmade by Richard Shock. Different sizes available; prices start at £35. Available from Made by Hand Online.

By Sara Walker

December 4th  

Finished festive door hanger decoration

Fancy getting a bit creative? Why not try your hand at making this festive Christmas decoration to hang on your door.

The decoration has been created by Tracy Rowbottom, a designer at Country Baskets, and is simple and easy to make.

Ingredients

You will need the following items, all of which can be purchased from Country Baskets:

* Two small candle rings

* Two large candle rings

* Rope

* Wire

* Ribbon

How to make your door hanger

Step 1. Take two small floral candle rings and wire them together, back to back:

How to make a festive Christmas door decoration

How to make a festive Christmas door decoration

Step 2. Tie a long piece of rope or cord to the top, to create a handle. Make a ribbon band around the centre and tie into a bow on the top to hide your mechanics:

How to make a festive Christmas door decoration

How to make a festive Christmas door decoration

Step 3.

Repeat the process using two large decorative candle rings. Next take one small floral candle ring and tie a rope hanger and bow on top:

Make your own Christmas decorations

Step 4.

Cut three pieces of ribbon, approximately 10cms, and secure one to the top of each Christmas decoration with the rope hanger:

Make your own Christmas door decorations

Step 5.

Lay all your components out on the table, starting with the smallest on the bottom and finishing with the largest on top. When you are happy with your placements, tie a knot firmly on the top:

Make your own festive decorations

Step 6.

Tie a rope loop and make a bow to secure on the loop. To finish, tie the bow and rope loop to the top of the hanger and cut off any loose ends:

Christmas decoration diy guide

Step 7.

Vila, you should end up with a finished door hanging decoration that looks something like this:

Finished festive door hanger decoration

With thanks to Country Baskets for the step-by-step guide and images.

 

 

 

 

December 2nd  

The Nineties was the time for futons. They were cheap, they were good quality and they could be found in starter homes across the country.

A couple of decades on and they largely seem to have been forgotten, and their reputation has suffered, which is a terrible shame, as they were great in so many ways. If you want a bed that will last for years and which is comfortable, with proven health benefits, then you really should consider a Japanese bed. Fashions change and sometimes, in order to stay ahead of the game, it is good to make a choice that it is neither in or out of fashion. The Japanese bed is that choice.

Health Benefits

We mentioned health benefits. The Japanese are known for being a healthy nation so the fact that they have put a lot of thought into designing their beds will come as no surprise. Sleeping on a Japanese bed is known to improve blood circulation, prevent back and neck pain, reduces risk of scolosis and corrects posture. One study found that the traditional Japanese bed prevents hip fractures in the elderly.

What is a Japanese bed?

A Japanese bed is traditionally known as a shikibuton or shikifuton, and is made up of a:

-  Shiki futon – the mattres

- Kakebuton comforter – the bedding

- Soba gara makura buckwheat hull pillows – pillows

- Tri-fold mattress pad

- Tatami mat – for the floor

- Platform bed – the frame

Japan Gardens is a good website which sells these items as well as many other Japanese products. This tatame floor mat is £182.96.

 

As with many things, we in the UK have adapted things to be more western in style, but the new Western Japanese beds still have many of the benefits of the traditional beds, and as with many Japanese items, the simplicty is still there. Japanese beds are simple but good quality. They are made to last, and a few years down the line you really appreciate this.

There are a few good shops which stock Japanese beds.

The Futon Shop stocks futon beds such as this Nevada futon bed base. As you can see, the base is solid and made to last decades and it has the low height of a Japanese bed.

The Funky Futon Company goes one step further with this Shiki futon bed base.  The simple frame is easily assembled, so good for if you move house quite a bit.  And its low height means that it is perfect for that attic room.

The Futon Company can be found on many high streets and stocks many Japanese influenced piece so furniture.  It is good for many items, from this tatami mat for £55

to this platform bed, for £395.

The idea of a traditional Japanese bed may be too adventurous for many of us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t adapt the idea and enjoy it in our own way. Many of the benefits can still be found in the Western versions, so if you’re in the bed buying process, why not try a Japanese style bed?

Failing that, how about a wearable futon bed…..?!

November 29th  

“The holly and the ivy/When they are both full grown/Of all the trees that are in the wood/The holly wears the crown.”

Holly and ivy have been potent symbols of Christmas for hundreds of years, and just like in the Christmas carol they seem to go as a pair.

Originally used as symbols of pagan celebration, as the winter solstice festival slowly began to evolve into a Christian celebration holly and ivy were adopted as Christian symbols too.  In the Christian faith, holly symbolises the crown of thorns Jesus wore on the cross, and the red berries are the beads of blood on His brow.

Ivy needs a strong, sturdy support to grow healthily, which Christians see as symbolising the relationship between God and man.

Decorating your home with holly and ivy this Christmas is a great way to give a traditional, cosy feel – and collecting the raw ingredients can be turned into a family day out in the countryside.

Don’t forget to take a basket, some scissors and a pair of thick gloves for collecting holly, then try a few of our decorating ideas.

Holly and ivy table decorations

Holly table decoration

If you’re short of time or craft-making isn’t your thing, a few fresh holly leaves used as a table decoration can look very effective.

Ideally, use a plain dark green under cloth with a smaller white tablecloth on top. Pull off a few sturdy leaves, rinse them in cold water and lay them on kitchen paper until completely dry. Lay the leaves in groups of three with the ends of the stalks touching.

Although holly leaves will last well without water once picked, holly berries quickly shrivel and may also stain a white tablecloth, so it’s safer to use small red baubles with the leaves to give a berry effect.

Wipe ivy leaves with a damp cloth to make them shine,

Holly and ivy vase

For an easy centre piece or mantlepiece decoration, fill a green glass vase with different length pieces of holly.

Cut long strands of ivy, and carefully cut or pull off all the leaves except the eight or ten at the top. Put the bottom of the stalk in the vase, and let the rest of the ivy trail over the side of the vase.

If you like, you could also thread baubles onto florists’ wire and stick them in with the holly. Remember that the berries on fresh holly won’t last as long as the leaves and may drop onto the carpet or table.

Holly berries are poisonous, so if you have small children or pets it’s best to take the real berries off and replace them with false ones such as glass beads or baubles, which can be securely wired into place.

Green glass vases filled with holly and ivy make a simple festive statement

Above: Left – Sea Glasbruk green glass vase, £16, from The Scandinavian Shop. Right – Rosanna Opal green glass vase, £17 from Berry Red.

Holly garland

Simple holly garland

Holly and ivy are both ideal for creating your own Christmas garland.

For a real Victorian-inspired effect, use a length of thick rope. Bind short lengths of holly, ivy and fir to it with florists’ wire, then add in gilded fir cones, baubles and anything else you like.

For a lighter garland, suitable for weaving along a windowsill full of Christmas cards or decorating a festive table, use a length of parcel or real ribbon. Knot baubles to it at regular intervals. Bind holly leaves with wire in groups of three, and knot them into the ribbon.

How are you decorating your home for Christmas? Leave us a comment below!

 

November 26th  

Half an hour in the company of Elena Johnson will make your mouth start to water, and the pride and enthusiasm with which she talks of her authentic Italian pastries and biscuits is as beguiling as the products themselves.

Crostata tart

Elena came to the UK in 2001, intending to stay for a year. Originally from Turin in the Piedmont area of Northern Italy, she had a Masters in US studies and a scholarship for a PhD in American Literature and was looking forward to studying in the UK.  Life has a habit of taking unexpected turns, though, and she found a job and met her (British) husband before settling down in Kidsgrove, Staffordshire.

Elena’s family were wine producers, but her father, Franco, is a maître pâtissier (master pastry chef) in Turin, and Elena grew up in a heady atmosphere of handmade chocolates and hand-baked bread.

“My father’s speciality is very small, very delicate patisserie,” said Elena. “The most famous Italian pastry is baci di dama (ladies’ kisses), which are tiny hazelnut biscuits around the size of a coin, sandwiched with chocolate ganache. They’re often served in bars as an accompaniment to coffee, or you can eat them for breakfast. Unless you have been to Italy and had them there, you probably haven’t tasted the real thing before, to be authentic they should be made with just four ingredients.

Elena and her father

“When I set up my business, I wanted to make only traditional Italian pastries as it represents my culture, and I use my father’s precious recipes. He’s been working as a pâtissier for over 40 years, and he passed a few of his secrets down to me. He had a shop in Turin for 30 years, and it closed four years ago when he retired, but we still bake together whenever we can.

“I’ve always loved cooking, as that’s what Italians do. I grew up seeing my father preparing all this delicious food, so it was quite natural to pick up a love of food. When I first moved to the UK in 2001, it was quite difficult to find the right Italian ingredients to make my recipes, but it’s much easier now. Jamie Oliver made life much easier for people who like real Italian food! For years, the only thing people in the UK knew of Italian desserts was tiramisu, so I’m trying to introduce the specialities of my own region.

The Dolce Elena range

“I’ve been making my recipes on and off for three years, but in the last couple of months I’ve decided to launch the business seriously. I currently sell at three farmers’ markets in Cheshire – Northwich, Rode Hall and Wilmslow – and can take orders through my Facebook page.

Elena is currently concentrating on two main products, the baci di dama and crostata, a tart made from light, friable pastry flavoured with lemon zest and filled with raspberry, apricot or strawberry jam. Crostata is a traditional Italian breakfast food, but Elena recommends a slice in the evening served with a glass of bubbly, fruity white wine for a treat.  She’s also experimenting with adding lemon jelly sweets to her range, using the juice of the lemons whose zest goes into the crostata.

The new lemon jelly sweets

“My father used to make his own sweets, so that’s an area I’d really like to get into,” she explained. “They’re in test mode at the moment, as I need to establish the shelf life etc. I’m also making round lemon biscuits which are like shortbread, they’ve proving very popular. I’ve got a caramel and salt version in the pipeline, too, and maybe a rhubarb crostata as I like to use seasonal fruit.”

Elena’s recipes are all lovingly made by hand 

Elena currently finds all her ingredients in the UK, except the hazelnuts.

“My father brings those in from Turin!” she laughs. “I toast them and make them into a fine powder for the baci di dama. I’d really like to use Sicilian lemons as well, as they’re the best, but at the moment I’m trying to keep the prices down so that as many people as possible can enjoy the products.

“I saw my father working very hard throughout his life as a baker, he’d work at Christmas, Easter and Sundays, taking pleasure in helping others celebrate. He encouraged me and my brother to do something else, but he’s very happy that I’ve come back to baking, and that he’s taught me to love it as I do. We were baking together last week, and I kept thanking him for teaching me the magic – I realised how much it meant to him to be able to pass some of his knowledge on.”

Elena’s products are available to buy online from her website, www.dolceelena.co.uk, or via her Facebook page. Priced start at £4 for 100g of baci di dama, or £4.50 for a crostata, which serves six.

November 24th  

Create your own winter wonderland this Christmas with our pick of white, silver and glass festive decorations for your home. Enhance the effect with white candles to reflect spangles of light off glittering surfaces for a fairytale feel.

1. Snowy scene advent drawers, The Oak Room

Snowy scene advent drawers

This lovely, unusual advent decoration will become a firm family favourite. Add a little personal present or sweet to the silver drawers numbered 1 to 24 to make the run-up to Christmas even more special. The drawers can  also be wall hung. Available from The Oak Room, priced at £39.99.

2. Clear glass shred bauble, The Contemporary Home

Clear glass shred teardrop bauble

A stylish and elegant Christmas tree bauble, available in a ball or teardrop shape and delicately filled with fine white thread. Hang a collection of the two glass baubles from different lengths of white or silver ribbon from the ceiling in the corner of a room for an original and eye catching Christmas display. £4 each, available from The Contemporary Home.

3. Noble ‘winter wonderland’ tree, Swift

Artificial snowy Christmas tree

At 6ft tall, this artificial Noble tree is big enough to make a statement but it won’t make a mess. It disassembles into three pieces for easy storage and transport, and has a dusting of artificial snow on its branches for an authentically wintery feel. £119.95 complete with folding stand, available from Swift.

4. Large snowflake decorations, The Contemporary Home

Contemporary snowflake decoration

These super shiny silver three dimensional snowflake decorations reflect the twinkle of fairy lights or candles, creating a beautiful sparkly effect.
Available in three designs, ornate, pointed or traditional. £7 each, available from The Contemporary Home.

5. Large silver wall mountable stag head, Melody Maison

Silver resin stag’s head

This resin stag’s head has a silver spray finish, and would make a great focal point in a hallway or sitting room. If you’re short on space or prefer a quirky effect, use it as an alternative Christmas tree and festoon the antlers with fairylights, tinsel and baubles. £56.95, available from Melody Maison.

6. Tissue paper snowflake decorations, Ginger Ray

Tissue paper snowflake decorations

This set of two beautiful, delicate die cut white tissue snowflakes hanging decorations would look lovely in front of a window. Each one measures 12 inches. £3.99 for a pack of two, available from Ginger Ray.

7. Jewelled snowflake bauble, Gisela Graham

Jewelled snowflake bauble

Trim your Christmas tree with the finest of silver and white baubles for a wintery feel. This pretty jewelled glass bauble would also look equally good as part of a mantlepiece display. Alternatively, heap several into a glass or white ceramic bowl for a table centrepiece. £2.95 each, available from Enchanted Ivy.

8. White bell star decoration, Berry Red

White bell star decoration

This white bell star decoration made from clustered white sleigh bells would make an unusual alternative to a wreath for your front door, or you could use it to top the Christmas tree. £9.50, available from Berry Red.

9. Frosted mistletoe wreath, Gisela Graham

Frosted mistletoe wreath

Carry on the festive frosty theme with this mistletoe wreath, £25 by Gisela Graham.  Hang it on the front door to welcome guests or over a fireplace to give the room a seasonal feel. Available from The Contemporary Home.

10. White star trio tealight holder

White star tealight trio

These three whitewashed metal stars illuminated from beneath by tealights on a wooden base are perfect for illuminating your Christmas meal or present-opening session. £29.50, available from Red Lilly.

 

November 21st  

If you have a classically designed home, it can sometimes feel as if it is a bit old fashioned and you may want to bring it up to date. There are ways that this can be achieved by giving some of the design features in your home a modern twist.

As well as making your living space appear more modern, it can also help to give your home a luxurious feel too. Of course, if you are having a home custom built, then these features can be added to your property right from the beginning.

Let there be light

Homes with a classic design can sometimes feel a little dark because some of the spaces can be quite narrow.

If you allow more natural light to enter the property then it can instantly look a lot brighter and more modern. There are a number of ways that you can let more light into your abode.

These range from more expensive options such as having larger windows fitted, to simpler solutions such as taking down any dark curtains that may be obstructing the existing windows. Once more light can get into the property, it will also make it look larger.

There are many styles of windows that resemble those that would have been traditionally found in a classic property that can be fitted in your home.

Starting from scratch

If you are having your home custom built and prefer a classic style, then there are some modern elements that you can include to make your life easier.

For example, you may want your home to have a traditional fireplace, but the inclusion of an electric fire instead of a real one is probably going to be more practical. However, there is no reason why this fire cannot be housed in the fireplace that you have always wanted.

If there are modern features that you want in a property that is mainly classical in style, the design team from the building company will be able to advise you about which features would work the best in this type of property and may be able to make suggestions that you have not considered yourself.

Traditionally modern

Kitchens and bathrooms are two rooms where classically designed homes can become very modern. If your home is custom built then you will be able to choose the kitchen and bathroom suite that you want for the property before they are installed.

Bathrooms can still include features that you would find in a classic home such as a standalone bathtub, but these could be installed alongside a more up to date feature such as a modern shower unit.

In the kitchen, appliances such as ovens can have a traditional appearance, but as these are modern appliances, they will be energy efficient. This not only helps the environment, but can also save you money on your fuel bills.

There are a number of things that you can do to add a modern twist to your classic property, and these can range from altering the structure of the property, to making small changes to the decoration.

If you are having a custom home built then it is easier to incorporate some of these modern features into a classically designed property. Inspiration on how you can make your home look more modern can be found on the Oswald Homes website, where there are many examples of wonderful custom built homes for you to view.

***This is a guest post***

November 14th  

Kitchenalia vintage kitchen review by Cosy Home Blog

At Cosy Home, we’re big fans of vintage kitchenware, so love Vinny Lee’s new book, Kitchenalia.

It’s dedicated to ideas for ‘furnishing and equipping your kitchen with flea market finds and period pieces,’ and is packed with inspiration.

Vinny Lee, author and interiors editor of The Times Magazine, shares her ideas about how to creatively use vintage kitchenware, reclaimed furniture and upcycled accessories to create a vintage or retro style kitchen.

Vintage and retro style doesn’t have to be solely relegated to older homes. In fact, there’s an interesting section showing how three designers transform a modern fitted kitchen in different ways, which helps illustrate how easy it is to create the style you want in whatever kitchen you have.

Vintage kitchen ideas from Kitchenalia reviewed by Cosy Home Blog

There are some great ideas for creating displays of thrifty finds, hand-me-down family kitchenware and treasured china and the book is packed with photos to wow and inspire you. We love the ideas for repurposing items and giving them a new lease of life with a new role. The ideas for storage, in particular, are great.

Vintage thrifty kitchen finds displayed

Kitchenalia is published in hardback by Jacqui Small and the RRP is £30. Follow @JacquiSmallPub on Twitter for more book news.

Special discount reader offer

Readers of Cosy Home can take advantage of a special discount offer and save £5 on a copy.

To order Kitchenalia at the discounted price of £25.00 including p&p* (RRP: £30.00), phone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG221.

(*UKONLY – Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas).

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