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March 27th  
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Tired of traditional chocolate eggs? Looking for something a little lower calorie to give or receive? Our pick of the top ten spring chicken and egg Easter gifts for your home will inspire and delight, without being fattening!

1. Chicken tray, Yours Sustainably

Indian metal tray by Yours Sustainably

This round hand painted stainless steel tin tray with its cheerful, naif design and bright colours will cheer up a kitchen or dining room. Use it for serving drinks or food or simply displaying some of your favourite things. Matching tea light holder and jug also available. Made in India to fair-trade standards. £26.50 from Yours Sustainably.

2. Hen jug, Gisela Graham

Cute hen jug by Gisela Graham

Cheer up the Easter breakfast table with this cream ceramic hen jug. Ideal for milk, cream, sauces or as an unusual vase for wildflowers, it’s available in two different sizes. Price starts from £7 from The Contemporary Home.

3. Hen clock, Annabel James

Moving hen clock from Annabel James

This chicken clock has a tail that ticks on the second, perfect for timing eggs!  Made of foamalux board, it has nickel hands and comes complete with a battery. Made in England. £45.95, available from Annabel James.

4. Egg storage box, Clare Loves

 

Metal egg storage box from Clare Loves

An egg-cellent idea.  This metal egg box is wall mountable or can also be freestanding, and will keep a dozen eggs safe in its removable storage rack. The chick magnet on the outside is a useful holder for notes and messages. £75, available from Clare Loves.

5. Egg cosy, Charlotte Macey

Handmade egg cosy from Charlotte Macey

Handmade from lovely pale duck egg linen, with a spotty white linen lining. each hen egg cosy is individually embroidered and appliquéd on both sides. An egg cosy is ideal for keeping your boiled egg warm on Easter Sunday – but your soldiers will have to look after themselves! £12 from Charlotte Macey.

6. Bohemian egg cup set, The Oak Room

Set of three Bohemian ceramic egg cups

Brighten up your breakfast table with this set of three pretty eggcups, with a Bohemian design in three fresh, pretty colours. As each egg cup is different, there’ll be no more mixing the family’s eggs up if everyone likes them cooked differently. £8.99 for the set, from The Oak Room.

7. Egg holder rack, Anticline

French-style metal egg rack

This pretty metal hanging mug holder with its hen design will  add a touch of French country style to the kitchen. It holds a dozen large eggs and will hang from the wall with standard screws or can be freestanding. It’s one of a range of French country accessories from Anticline, a small company based in Perpignan which specialises in rustic, farmhouse style accessories. £29.50, available from Boutique Provencal.

8. Chicken cake tins, Sophie Allport

Set of three chicken design cake tins

A set of three cake tins in Sophie Allport’s popular chicken design, which features speckled Maran hens and white eggs. Perfect for keeping that Easter Simnel cake or spiced biscuits fresh over the weekend. £35 a set of three, available from Sophie Allport.

9. Chicken doorstop, Laura Ashley

Laura Ashley’s quirky chicken doorstop

This chunky, quirky chicken is practical too, holding your doors either open or closed depending on what the Easter weather decides to throw at us! To make it even more attractive, it’s currently reduced to £16.50 (was £22). Available from Laura Ashley.

10. Cornish hen double oven glove, Betty Boyns

Stylish and practical Cornish Hen oven gloves

A practical and stylish Easter gift, these double oven gloves are available in two colours and form part of the ‘Cornish Hens’ range. Designed and made in the UK, they cost £15 from Betty Boyns.

By Sara Walker

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March 20th  
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Your bedroom is the place where you go to relax and unwind, to catch up on sleep or spend a lazy Sunday morning in bed, so it’s only right that you have a comfortable bed. Whatever your bedroom needs and style, there’s a bed out there for you. Here’s a selection of bed ideas in six styles that you could use to create your very own cosy bedroom.

The shabby chic style bed

 Shabby chic style bed

(Image credit and product info)

For lovers of all things shabby chic, then you can’t beat a classic white coloured brass bed. The Victorian style bed oozes charm and, coupled with pink and white floral bedding, is a haven of vintage style. Plus, you’ve got the classic brass bedstead to enjoy, with brass finials and sturdy bedposts. What’s not to love about this appealing bed?

The statement headboard bed

King size upholstered headboard

(Image credit)

If you’ve already got your ideal king size mattress, but need a new headboard to bring it up-to-date, then buying a new headboard is a quick and inexpensive option for creating a new look bed. Whether you want wood, metal or  upholstered, a new headboard can help you create the statement look you’re after. It’s a great way to add you own style and impact to your bed, without costing a fortune.

The luxury TV bed

(Image credit and product info)

Are you a fan of watching TV in bed? Whether it’s snuggling down to watch a film together, watching the footy or catching up on your favourite soaps, a bed that can accommodate a TV provides all the comfort you need. What’s more, if you’ve got the space for it, a 6ft super king size TV bed, complete with a DVD tray and a screen of up to 32 inches is the ultimate in luxury.

The day bed

 

(Image credit and product info)

If you’re short on space, but need a spare bed, then a day bed is the ideal compromise. Use it as an elegant sofa during the day and when you’re on your own, then make it up into a 2.6ft guest bed when the need arises.

The storage bed

The ultimate in practical style, the storage bed is the perfect bed if you’re desperately in need of extra storage space. No more randomly shoving items and clutter under the bed, never to find them again. Now you’ve got a designated space to store things in an organised style, out of sight, but still easily obtainable.

The colourful bed

Create impact with a colourful bed

(Image credit and product info)

Forget adding colour to your bedroom through bedding. Why not pack a punch and add colour with your bed frame? A colourful fabric bed like this one is a real statement piece. Team it with crisp white cotton bedding for an elegant look.

For all your bed and headboard needs, check out www.bedsos.co.uk.

***This is a collaborative post***

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March 18th  
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How to use lighting to create a cosy home

A well lit room can make all the difference in your home, brightening up your living space, adding a glow to dark corners and providing functional and practical lighting. It can also help provide a sought after cosy factor – something we’re always striving for!

A floor lamp is a great option for adding both style and light. Throughout the winter, we’ve noticed a corner of our living room that hasn’t been that well lit. We’ve struggled with the light at night or on dark afternoons, so when Lighting Majestic offered us the chance to review one of their lamps, we jumped at the chance.

Cosy Home blog review of the Dynamo floor lamp

The Dynamo floor lamp is ideal for adding much needed light into dark corners. The tall floor lamp is nicely designed with a retro feel, reflecting the era of 1950s homeware. The one we tried is finished in antique chrome, although there are other finishes available (cream and antique copper, for example).

It arrived well packed and in a couple of pieces, so involved a small amount of DIY to put it together. Thankfully there were clear step-by-step instructions included, which involved lying the lamp down on the floor, putting the pieces together and ensuring the cable didn’t begun twisted. Compared to the confusing instructions sometimes found with other home products, it was a relatively straightforward process.

Once up and in position, it was time to turn the lamp on. As you can see, it really did help add light to a dark spot:

How to light up your home and make it cosy

The lamp has a long cable and the on/off switch is located on a round base halfway along the cable. It’s the kind of switch that you can flick on with your foot, if you wish. It takes a 60 watt bulb (not included, unless you order it as an extra) and provides a brilliant amount of light, which can be angled as you desire.

The design of the lamp, with its overhanging arch style approach, ensures that the light you need shines down brightly wherever it’s positioned. It not only looks good, but the construction feels strong and sturdy too. For the price – RRP £119.40 for the antique chrome, but currently £99.50 from Lighting Majestic – it seems incredibly good value for a floor lamp.

The lamp itself is made by DAR Lighting, a UK-based company with over 30 years experience of lighting manufacture. If you like the style of the Dynamo floor lamp, there are various other matching products you can buy from Lighting Majestic to complete the look, including pendant lights and table lamps.

Overall, we were really impressed with both the lamp and the service from Lighting Majestic. Their site is packed with lighting options for all areas of your home, so if you have a lighting need that needs solving, they could well have the perfect solution.

***Disclosure: We were supplied with a lamp for review purposes, but all views and opinions are our own***

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March 10th  
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This year, Mothers’ Day is Sunday 15th March, and it’s a great opportunity to show some appreciation. We’ve put together our top ten picks of bright, spring inspired home gifts to make this year an extra-special occasion.

1. Flourish floral bunting, Gisela Graham

Flourish floral bunting from The Contemporary Home

This pretty, pastel, fabric bunting with its design of pink and white flowers would make a lovely gift in its own right, or you could invite your mother over for a traditional afternoon tea and use it to decorate the room for a bright, fresh feel. £12, available from The Contemporary Home.

2. Personalised Mothers’ Day card, Honey Tree Bespoke

Butterfly design card from Honey Tree

This bespoke card is top quality, and can be personalised with your own message. There are hundreds of designs to choose from, from traditional floral cards to more contemporary designs. Prices start at £3.90 from Honey Tree Bespoke.

3. Glass bottle vase, Live Laugh Love

Glass bottle with silver rose, Love Laugh Love

A pretty glass bottle decorated with a metal rose, ribbons and pearls, this is the perfect way to decorate a breakfast or tea tray. Alternatively, fill it with pink roses or wildflowers for a lovely present. Available from Live Laugh Love, priced at £3.95.

4. Pink and green mix beady heart, Karenza and Co

Pink and green beaded heart by Karenza and Co

A delicate bead heart featuring a selection of pretty beads interspersed with flower beads, this would make a lovely gift and would look pretty hanging on a door handle or in a window. £3.95 from Karenza and Co.

5. Grow your own sweet pea, Julie Dodsworth

Grow your own sweet pea, The Oak Room

This charming ceramic pot features a floral design by Julie Dodsworth and contains all you need to grow your own sweet pea, including peat free, soil association compost and  high quality seeds. Ideal for windowsills. £6.99, from The Oak Room.

6. Personalised tea cosy, Sarah Blair

Personalised tea cosy by Sarah Blair

While a tea cosy might not seem the most exciting present in the world, this one’s a bit different. It’s personalised with your own message picked out in freehand machine stitching, and as each one is handmade the fabric, ribbons and buttons will vary. £29.95 from Swanky Maison.

7. Personalised calendar, Getting Personal

Personalised calendar from Getting Personal

For a unique gift, the ‘Our Family’ calendar is made entirely to your specifications. Just type in the names of the family members and the design team at Getting Personal will spell them out in 13 unique images, one for every month plus a front cover. This would make a great gift for posting, if you can’t be together on Mothers’ Day. Prices start at £14.99.

8. Busy bee espresso cup and saucer, Sophie Allport

Bee espresso cup and saucer from Sophie Allport

This fine bone china espresso cup and saucer is decorated with a single bumble bee, and is ideal for that after-dinner coffee. It comes gift boxed and is part of a range of matching china. £12 from Sophie Allport.

9. Handmade Portuguese glass decanter, Atlantis

Portuguese glass decanters by Atlantis

These elegant diamond patterned decanters come in a range of different jewelled colours, and they’re part of a range that also includes water glasses and wine glasses. This would make a beautiful style statement in any dining room or kitchen. £65 from Jasmine Way.

10. Garden photo frame, Gisela Graham

Gisela Graham garden photo frame

This wooden photo frame decorated with wildlife images is ideal for any garden lover, and it’s current on sale at The Contemporary Home (was £11, now £5.50).

By Sara Walker

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March 5th  
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Cosy Home guide to making your own soft furnishings

If you’ve decided to tackle some projects around the house this year, you might be considering making your own curtains or cushions. Many sets of instructions or patterns, though, simply tell you to, ‘take the fabric of your choice’, so how do you know that to choose? Here’s the Cosy Home guide to what fabric to use where.

Before choosing any type of fabric, think about the wear and tear it’s going to get. Curtains in a formal dining room shouldn’t need cleaning very often, so it’s fine to use a non-washable, dry-clean-only fabric such as silk. For a children’s room, bathroom or kitchen, you might like to choose something tougher and more hardwearing.

Some fabrics aren’t suitable for projects like cushions that are going to see a lot of use, as they don’t wear well.

Joining several different types of fabric together for applique work or patchwork can look very effective, but remember that the final result probably won’t be machine washable.

Finally, modern fabrics such as artificial silk or satin will be cheaper and easier to care for than the real thing, but you will sacrifice a little visual appeal.

Types of fabric

A selection of cotton fabrics and lace

* Brocade - the name ‘brocade’ refers more to the style and pattern of the fabric than to the material it’s made from. Brocoade fabric has a raised pattern that looks almost embroidered, and is generally very thick and stiff. The patterns are actually woven into the fabric. Traditionally it’s made from silk, but modern easy care versions are now available. This fabric is often used for formal curtains and upholstery and tends to be hard wearing. It may be hard to sew on a domestic sewing machine due to its thickness. It doesn’t normally wash well; most brocade is dry-clean only.

* Canvas – a sturdy, heavy duty fabric traditionally used for making sails. Modern canvas is normally made from cotton or linen. It’s great for creating a beach-hut or New England feel in a room – make cushion covers from coloured canvas and curtains with eyelet holes for a simple, uncluttered look. It’s washable, but has a tendency to shrink on first washing, and can be heavy to work with.

* Corduroy - a sturdy cotton fabric made of raised stripes and furrows. It’s normally used for clothing, but as it’s heavily textured it can be used for cushion covers or to add interest to soft furnishings. It’s not normally used for curtains as it’s too heavy. It’s available in different widths of stripes, and it’s very hard wearing, although the raised stripes may have a tendency to wear unevenly. Most corduroy is machine washable, but may shrink on first washing.

* Cotton – a natural and incredibly versatile fabric. Cotton has many guises, from the cotton towelling used for towels and dressing gowns to fine, delicate cotton used for shirts. Generally, it takes colour well, is soft, breathable and washable. A good choice for many household projects.

Denim can be a good choice for home furnishing projects.

* Denim -  a type of heavyweight cotton fabric mostly used for clothing. It’s available in different weights, and can make a quirky material for home furnishing projects such as cushions. It fades in direct sunlight, but is otherwise very hardwearing. Normally machine washable, but will shrink on first washing.

Faux fur will help create a range of effects from luxurious to funky

* Faux fur - made from synthetic fibres to resemble animal hair, this material is currently very popular for making cushion covers. Great for adding some interest to a plain sofa, and also ideal for making your own sofa throws. It’s available in a range of bright colours as well as naturalistic fur patterns. It normally washes very well and retains its size and shape, but it may be hard to work by domestic sewing machine due to the thickness.

* Felt - can be made of acrylic or wool fibres. It’s a thick, matted material often used for craftwork and soft toys. One of the main attractions is that it doesn’t fray, making it ideal for applique work. Wool felt doesn’t wash well as it shrinks badly.

* Linen – a natural fabric made from the fibres of the flax plant. It’s available in a range of weights, from heavy linen suitable for upholstery to the fine lawn used for handkerchiefs. The thicker varieties are hard wearing. It tends to shrink when first washed, and like other natural fabrics has a tendency to staining, but it can give a cool, crisp feel to a room.

Natural silk is beautiful, but can be delicate

* Silk -  a natural fabric produced from the cocoons of the silk worm, silk is smooth and luxurious. It’s expensive to buy, and normally dry-clean only. It also fades and eventually rots when continually exposed to strong sunlight. It’s slippery to work with and can be tricky to handle, but it produces beautiful results.

* Velveteen and velour - plush fabrics made in imitation of velvet. They can be made of cotton or a silk/cotton mix, but many modern varieties are made from polyester. This washes well and is fade resultant, and is less prone to becoming worn and shiny that a natural blend.

* Velvet - woven fabric with a dense pile, giving it a luxurious feel. It can be made of synthetic or modern fibres,  and gives an opulent feel to a room. A good choice for thick, insulating curtains for draughty rooms, or for cushion covers.

By Sara Walker

(Top image credit: Shutterstock)

 

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March 4th  
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High street homeware in spring brights

It’s beginning to look and feel decidedly spring-like. We’re loving the lighter mornings and evenings and the first hints of spring flowers appearing. With the outside world looking brighter, now’s a good time to inject some colour into the inside of your home too.

How about trying these bright and cheery homeware ideas from high street store M&Co to add cheer to your home without straining your credit card?

* We love the tropical colours and cheeky looks of the parakeet’s on this cushion – £16

* Add colour to your sofa, by draping this multi-colour check throw on it - £25

* Hang this pretty beaded heart decoration on a wall to add a splash of colourful this spring – £7

* Give your bedroom a seasonal uplift, with this brightly coloured butterfly print duvet set – from £29

 

 

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