Advent calendar: DEC 2

December 2, 2010

Twinkle, twinkle, little star…summon all your strength. It’s time to pull on your snow boots, roll up your sleeves and tease open door number two on the virtual calendar. Voila:

OOH! It’s a beautiful rusty tin 30cm barn star with a very reasonable £12 price tag from mailorder company Live Laugh Love. American barn stars are all the rage at the moment. Perhaps it’s the Amish/Puritan trend that’s on the horizon for 2011? Or maybe it’s because Christmas is approaching and they’re timeless festive decorations that look beautiful all year round? I went to Sunbury Antiques Market on Tuesday (and took lots of photos of vintage tat as per, but sadly due to a lack of trains and a large quantity of SNOW, I have no access to PhotoShop at the moment so can’t share them yet…) and saw yummy mummies literally filling their car boots with barn stars galore – they were selling like hot cakes! One savvy French antiques dealer had obviously got hold of a job lot and was flogging green and white ‘vintage’ (although they were clearly made in China and more vintage-style than actual VINTAGE but hey) stars for £25 each. I nearly bought one. It was a close shave, but I resisted. – Ellie

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20 GORGEOUS gift ideas

November 29, 2010

Advent is nearly upon us. One very organised person recently announced to me that she has ‘finished’ her Christmas shopping. I haven’t started mine. So, let’s get organised.

I recently compiled the Ideal Home Gift Guide, and jolly good fun it was too. We used some beautiful robins wrapping paper from Allihopa (Notonthehighstreet) which you can admire above and buy here, and I got the task of scouring high street shops, supermarkets and online stores for the best gifts for our readers. It was a tough job, but somebody had to do it. If you were sensible enough to pick up a copy of our December issue, you’ll be able to enjoy pages and pages and PAGES of gorgeous gifts. But here’s a little taster – 20 top online buys! Sadly I can’t set up links from every image because I’ve made them into stupid collages in PhotoShop now and I am what is known in the trade as ‘technologically-challenged’, but each image is labelled and I’ve put the links below. Alas, ’tis the best I can do.

Bowls, Roost Living; Calendar, V&A Shop; Cushion, Peak Princess; Chocolate tongues (!), Betty’s; Bird bath, The Balcony Gardener; Tea cosy, Emily Bond.

Needle case, The Contemporary Home; Alphabet purse, Alphabetbags; Hottie, The Fine Cotton Co; Personalised Cornishware, TG Green.

Candles, Jamie Oliver; Glasses, Jasmine Way; Bricks, Silver Cross; Print, Rockett St George.

Glass pots, Dotcomgiftshop; Orla Kiely casserole, BlissHome; Blanket, Anorak; Little mice, Notonthehighstreet; Platter, W2 Products; Compagnie de Provence set, Lifestyle Bazaar. Well, that’s given me a few ideas at least. (Anybody reading this who knows me, that ORLA KIELY casserole pot is VERY nice, HINT HINT HINT…) – Ellie

I know, I know, we’re spoiling you today. It took a lot of persuasion, a few bribes here and there and perhaps a little bit of cheek, but we have it. Le scoop: Lisa Stickley‘s new bed linen designs for Heals (launching on 8th December). Regardez:

HURRAH for Lisa who, despite a punishing schedule churning out Debenhams designs, craft books and beautiful handbags, still manages to come up with such a fresh, pretty collection. I particularly love the trees design (which would look oh-so-cute in a kids’ room with the new Harlequin Boutique trees wallpaper but that’s by the by…) and also the orange set below, which is called Tangerine Hankie Flower:

As the youngsters round my way say, this is bare good, innit. – Ellie

Going green (with envy)

November 24, 2010

If I had a home office (which I don’t – unless you count a lap top on the dining table…) it could (in an alternative universe or a parallel dimension) look a little bit like THIS:

This is the new ‘Forest Falls’ green paint colour from Dulux‘s spring/summer 2011 palette, and it’s GORGEOUS! Especially with a bit of fuchsia pink in front of it. Mmmm.

The desk is painted in ‘Kiwi Burst’. Two greens should never be seen…except here. Delicious!

I love this idea of painting a ‘shelf’ and a ‘lamp’ on the wall – great if you’re short of space! The owl cushion in this shot is from Donna Wilson, and the Thomas Paul plates can be found at Supernice.

Here, ‘Spring Breeze’ yellow and ‘Forest Falls’ green create a colourful dining room.

The case of the chameleon cabinet. What a great trick to make colourful accessories and bright flowers really pop. Love it. – Ellie

Primark Home. Oh yeah.

November 23, 2010

Hear ye this here, good citizens of blog world: there aren’t many places where you can find a funky cushion for under a fiver. But. Le Primarche, AKA Primarni, AKA the-shop-where-you-can-buy-a-pair-of-French-Sole-style-ballet-pumps-for-four-quid-OK-they’re-plastic-but-who-care’s-they’re-FOUR-QUID has finally begun to up its game, homeware-wise. And about time too.

This ‘Parisian’ postcard cushion (which seems to have taken a rather round-the-globe route, but let’s not nit pick) is pretty darn cool. And it’s just £3.50. Yes, you heard correctly. THREE POUNDS AND FIFTY PENCE.

This handsome chap costs just £6. Which ain’t much when you consider there are similar cushions elsewhere for £129!

These knitted hot water bottle covers are just £4 each (cute for Christmas presents! Just hide the label…) while the ‘London’ and ‘Floral Woman’ cushions are £3.50 each. Pop to Primark now to fight your way through the crowds (literally) to nab these bargains – I don’t think they’ll be on the shelves for long. But if you miss out, just remember, there will always be a million of those famous ‘faux fur throws’ to choose from. Ah, yes. – Ellie

Angie Lewin: GIVEAWAY!

November 23, 2010

Talented artist Angie Lewin has collected 80 of her nature-inspired prints, together with collages, textile designs, drawings and paintings from her sketchbooks, to create a beautiful book: Plants and Places (£25, Amazon) out this month.

If only you could get your hands on a signed copy of this lovely new book. For free. What’s that you say? HomeShoppingSpy is giving away five signed copies of this gorgeous book to five lucky people who leave their name and email address below as a comment? We are? Well, that’s jolly good news.

Angie’s work is inspired by the clifftops and saltmarshes of the North Norfolk coast and the Scottish Highlands. She depicts these contrasting environments and their native flora in wood engraving, linocut, silkscreen, lithograph and collage – and this book shows you her processes in real detail.

So, just leave your name and email address below this post as a comment and on Tuesday 30th November, we’ll put all the names in a hat and pick out five at random to win one of these lovely signed books. (Click here if you like reading Terms and Conditions. – Ellie

Ella Doran for Habitat

November 22, 2010

If you’re a fan of Ella Doran‘s colourful photographic accessories, you’ll love her new range for Habitat. She’s photographed vintage china plates and decorated melamine picnicware, cake stands and cushions with the pretty pictures…

Ella’s also designed some cute children’s picnicware. Grrr…

If you like the look of this, it’s due in store at Habitat spring 2011. – Ellie