Halloween tricks and treats

October 31, 2011

It’s the creepiest day of the year – but are you gazing at your £1.99 pumpkin and wondering how best to carve it? Throwing a party and stuck for decorating ideas? Looking for some inspirational images to get you in the mood? Head to Housetohome.co.uk for all the latest Halloween ideas…

From decorating a party table, to creating a trick or treat display, the team at Housetohome has got it covered. You’ll even find a step-by-step HOW TO CARVE A PUMPKIN video.  – Ellie

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I’m starting with the nicest image, because your eyes might start bleeding as you scroll down…

We touched upon a sensitive topic yesterday, so let’s investigate a little further. I couldn’t believe it when I spotted this ‘Mr Meerkat’ wallpaper (£165 per roll) from designer Kate Usher the other day. OK, so it’s more Kalahari than Compare the Meerkat, but still, those pesky creatures feature. Even sensible shops such as Dwell have realised that we Brits are obsessed with turning our homes in to tut-filled  Meerkat Manors – this orange high-gloss chap was spotted in the AW11 collection. Possibly a tongue-in-cheek ornament. But WOULD YOU? (Sadly, he’s no longer available…)

At the Tesco SS12 press preview, there they were. Tucked away discreetly by a clever stylist between a vase and a bowl of roses, but there nonetheless – a set of three ceramic meerkats in a rather tasteful shade of mink for £10:

What is the world coming to? Because it’s Friday, I’ve decided to end this disturbing post with a round up of the Top 10 Most Minging Meerkats (from the internet meerkat) for your viewing pleasure/pain.

1. Personalised meerkat cushions. This season’s must-have accessory? 2. Three meerkats is more minging than one. 3. A wind-up meerkat. So wrong. 4. A meerkat ‘rain scientist’. (I am not making this up.) 5. Christmas meerkats. ‘Spring-mounted so they can move in the breeze.’ 6. A meerkat mug. 7. A ‘polystone’ meerkat from B&Q. 8. Meerkats pumping water from a well. Like they do. 9. Meerkat Sylvanian family members. 10. A John Lewis meerkat.

Let’s never speak of this again. Let’s let this Meerkat Madness trend trundle along discreetly under the radar and ignore it from now on. Yeah? This post never happened. – Ellie

A Suzani tsunami is sweeping SS12 high street home collections. Just back from the Next press show where I spotted another little gem. Decided ’twas worthy to be added to our Crazy Cushion Quiz… SO, for extra (brownie) points: Which of these did I spot for £150 in Liberty yesterday, and which will be £16 come February time in Next?

I’m debating cutting up my Suzani quilt to turn it in to cushions – but can’t quite bring myself to do it! – Ellie

TESCO SS12: THE QUIZ

October 27, 2011

Checking out the new SS12 Tesco home collection recently (all available in-store as from Feb 2012), I politely ignored the small ceramic meerkats, who now seem to grace every home collection on the high street (WHO IS BUYING THESE THINGS?! OWN UP!) and focussed instead on the new stylish designer-style statement cushions. SO. Let’s have a little quiz to see if you can sort the supermarket stunners from the costly cushions. ROUND ONE: DING DING…

Which of these attractive accessories is cheap as chips at just £8 from Tesco’s Florence and Fred collection, and which is £57 from talented textile designer Clarissa Hulse? ROUND TWO:

Which of these Uzbek-style padded pretties is bargain-acious at just £10 from Tesco, and which is £66.50 from trend-setting designer Niki Jones? Hmmm, these are getting tricky…. ROUND THREE:

Which of these Ikat (eee-cat, eye-cat, yeah, you know…) cushions in autumnal hues is a Tesco £10 trolley-filler, and which is an expensive woven beauty worth £50? ROUND FOUR:

Which of these gorgeous green mid-century scatter cushions is £8 from Mr Tesco, and which is the real deal and £50 from a vintage shop? Answers are below in a comment! All cushions are on sale as from February 2012. And that is the end of this exciting and no-expense-spent quiz. Good night. – Ellie

The darker side of Disney

October 26, 2011

Mirror, mirror, on the wall: What’s the strangest Halloween-themed wallpaper of all…?

The mirror smiled and replied: “Once upon a time, shades-wearing ex-Biba designer Barbara Hulanicki was sitting in her castle when she had a wonderful idea. ‘I’ll create some creepy DISNEY VILLAINS flocked wallpaper for Graham and Brown, featuring dastardly baddies from the Walt Disney version of Sleeping Beauty such as Maleficent the witch and her evil feathered sidekick, Diablo,’ she cackled to herself.

‘But, Barbara, how can we give our children nightmares?’ asked the customers. ‘Look no further,’ she replied. ‘My new designs are gothic, dark, sinister and feature upside-down crows. What more do you people want?’

The customers were happy and rejoiced. The Disney Villains wallpapers were £85 per roll from Graham and Brown. And they all lived happily ever after.”

The End. – Ellie

Ahoy there, land-lubbers. Now, don’t get me wrong. The nautical look is usually a summer thing. Sailor stripes, hurricane lanterns, curious fish-shaped hanging decorations, drift wood furniture and she sells sea shells on the sea shore – you know the kind of thing. Here at Ideal Home, we embrace all things red, white and blue around July/August time in a gorgeous coastal issue, published at the height of summer when the UK seas are just about warm enough to swim in (not). But here’s proof that the designers at IKEA – those brave Swedes (fuelled by a diet of crayfish, meatballs and lingonberry jam) are not afraid to take a dip in the sea-faring trend as late as October, when the rest of us are shivering beside our radiators and reaching for our knitted knickers…

No pink sticks of rock or donkeys here, though. The new IKEA Benzy range of fabrics and accessories (which has just gone in-store this week) is elegant and antique-style – all faded linen hues decorated with charcoal-effect sketches of ships. It’s nautical, Jim, but not as we know it…

The new treasure map Benzy Land cushions (just £9.99 each for 50cm x 50cm size) feature vintage compass designs and whales’ tails – but you don’t have to turn your living room into a pirate ship; They work really well with IKEA’s other new Benzy additions – 1970s-style paisley and checked cushions (and fabrics) in rich, autumnal chocolate, navy and plum colours.

I foolishly cropped the ‘OCE’ off this linen-look cushion on my first attempt at re-sizing with unfortunate results.

As always, IKEA = strange gravy, confusing product names but BARGAIN price tags. The Benzy fabrics look expensive, but are just £6.99 per metre, so you can save your pieces of eight. – Ellie

HOT SHOP: NORDIC BLISS

October 10, 2011

Marianne Lamberth was born in Norway. Her mother is Danish. Her father’s Norwegian. She’s married to Andreas – a blond, blue-eyed Swedish chap. It’s fair to say that Marianne couldn’t get much more Scandinavian… Now, the good news for us: Marianne moved to the UK five years ago, and missed Scandinavian homeware so much, that she decided to start Nordic Bliss – her own mail order shop to bring some of the lesser-known Scandi brands to Britain. She and Andreas started work in June (he’s in charge of the business side, she’s the creative force behind the website, the blog and the brand), renting out an extra flat to store the stock in and carefully selecting their favourite Scandi designs.  Nordic Bliss will open this Friday, selling textiles from Swedish labels Shyness and Klippan, and beautiful home accessories from Danish companies such as Hübsch and Madam Stoltz. I’ve had a sneaky preview and it’s well worth a visit… You’ll find chunky knitted cushions and throws, antique-style glass accessories, folk-style buys and Scandi chic galore! It’s all VERY exciting. Nordic Bliss is the latest addition to a veritable smörgåsbord of Scandi shops we’re lucky enough to have in the UK; Gone are the days when I’d flick wistfully through the Bloomingville catalogue, wishing such wonders were within grasp. Now, we’ve got Ferm Living at Heal’s and Cloudberry Living, the House Doctor DK range at Bodie and Fou, the lovely Nordic Elements collection (UK agents for By Nord CopenhagenRoomMateNeon Living and Casalinga) – all just a click away. So so so Scandi-lous. – Ellie