I have some very exciting news! As from next week I can’t wait to share with you a brand new look for Home Shopping Spy. My wonderful art team and I (and our very patient, digital whizz-kids) have been creatively slaving away with lots of ideas, fonts, colours and backgrounds. The new design will be far easier to navigate, has a fresh feel and looks much more professional. There are going to be five new categories including Favourite Shops, Look What I Found and Latest Trends. The final touches are still being put in place but here’s a sneak peek screen grab for you. I really hope you like my new logo which I ended up drawing myself on an ipad using the Paper 53 app!

Stay tuned for the launch which goes live next week. – Alice

After a two week break I’m feeling quite rejuvenated, sunny and actually a little excited to be back at my desk at Ideal Home HQ. On my return our new September issue had just arrived and if you haven’t yet bagged yourself a copy, it is packed full of stylish storage solutions and ideas to help organise your life (it’s in the shops now, hint hint!). One quick flick through and I felt overcome with calm and order. A little something to share are these two home office shoots our stylish stylists did. The first is from our Cash Clever feature on how to create a work area for less than £215…

Chair, £39, Ikea + Picture frames, £65.96, Ikea + 5 magazine files, £45, The Holding Company + Lamp, £60, John Lewis + Two jars, £4, Sabichi = £213.96. Bargain!

You may have also spotted this fab industrial style home office from our ‘Class of 2012’ decorating feature. I love the metal school-style cabinet from The Old Cinema and the lovely Conran desk for Marks & Spencer and there’s a place for everything with wall mounted storage ideas galore! No excuse for a messy desk. – Alice 

It’s been a crazy day here at Ideal Home HQ as I tie things up before a two week holiday. I’ve had to set myself hourly deadlines, limit chat with colleagues and keep a steady supply of drinking water to hand. Before I go and enjoy sunnier climes on the Adriatic sea, I wanted to leave you with some very happy ceramics that I came across today from Pedlars.

I love these colour dipped plates! They’re so bright and sunny. They would look great hung on the wall or make meal times even more yummy! This is an exclusive collection for Pedlars designed by graphic designer, Gail Bryson and manufactured in Portugal where all the best ceramics seems to come from.

I think they’re pretty reasonably priced, starting from £19.95 for a set of four mugs. You will have to wait though as they’re not available from Pedlars until September. Right folks, I’m going to attempt to leave the office now. The air con is shutting down and making a right racket! I will be back blogging in two weeks, hopefully with a tan and a sunnier disposition after a good dose of vitamin D.  – Alice (notice how I’ve said ‘sunny’ 3 times in this post. I think I need some…)

It may be a grey and gloomy day but the new Autumn 2012 look book from Cox & Cox has arrived which is enough to lift anyone’s spirits (that, plus the fact that I’m off to sunny Croatia this week – yay!). Founders Fiona Cox and Lizzie Thornton-Allan have a great eye for practical and useful homewares. As a member of ‘generation rent’, I am often looking for ways to make my home more personal to me but I have to think carefully about what pieces to invest in as obviously I can’t rip out the kitchen, knock down walls or build fitted storage. So, it’s freestanding furniture all the way for me! Cox & Cox have some lovely offerings from their new collection that would do very nicely in a rented place. Here are 3 of my favourites…

French folding mirror, £75

The photography and styling is always so beautiful and gives me lots of ideas for displays around the house. I love this pretty mirror with folding shelf, it looks like a French flea market find. Perfect for the downstairs loo!

Vintage metal trolley, £145

This trolley on wheels would be great in my kitchen. Bread bin on top with wooden boards, filled Le Parfait jars on the middle shelf, vintage fruit crates on the bottom shelf for extra storage…

Wooden ladder shelf, £225

And finally, the ladder shelf. I’m looking for one for an alcove in my living room; a great substitute for fitted shelves and I love this natural unfinished wood that looks very coastal. If you’re also a Cox & Cox fan, keep an eye on their website later this month as there are tons of tempting buys. – Alice

Planning a camping trip in Wales this summer? You’d fit right in with this enamelware from Blodwen. I got a bit excited when I saw this! The classic navy and white has been given a wonderful Welsh twist, featuring the iconic ‘Caernarfon’ pattern that you normally see used in traditional tapestry blankets…

Blodwen has lots of lovely stuff. The founder, Denise Lewis, is passionate about supporting handmade Welsh craft. She designed this ‘Gwalia’ (Welsh for ‘homeland’) enamelware herself  and, although the enamel is sourced in Europe, the design and firing of the decals is all done in Wales.

1. Enamel jug, £35; 2. Mug set, £28 for 2; 3. bowl, £15.

Based in Cardigan Bay, you’ll also find woven baskets, wooden bowls, pottery, tapestry floor mats and homemade jam! Have a browse online at their delightful wares and the Gwalia is also available through Liberty. – Alice

For those wondering what Habitat have been up to of late, it’s been a bit of a year. After being bought out by the Home Retail Group (owners of Homebase and Argos) last year they have left us with only 3 London stores but thankfully, the UK website. From July this year, you will start to see an edited selection of the iconic homeware appear in over 200, slightly less iconic, Homebase stores across the country. Yes, it’s an unlikely pairing but as a result they’re launching a rather nice wallpaper and paint range that I previewed last week at their AW12 press show…

All designed in house at Habitat, there are 30 shades in the paint collection based on favourite colours taken from the Habitat design palette. The selection of neutrals and brights all have quirky names including ‘sprout’, ‘cumin’ and ‘dust’. The paint can be used on interior walls, metal and wood. The retro-graphic wallpapers are designed to compliment the paint range with 4 designs in 16 different colours. My favourite is the wood grain effect in mustard yellow…

The paint starts at £16 for 1.25 litres and £25 for a roll of wallpaper. If you live in London and can’t face a trip to Homebase they will also be available in the 3 London stores.

So, Habitat are busy and in addition to their paint and wallpaper the AW12 collections are pretty lovely too, with the comfiest sofa in the world and gorgeous tableware (post coming soon!) – Alice. 

I do love a good apron. As soon as I get home I like to don my H&M sackcloth number. I feel more productive in an apron – I can bake a cake, paint furniture, clean the house, indulge in a spot of gardening. If you too have a thing for aprons you might like Gillian Kyle‘s rather fetching designs that would put anyone, faced with housework, in a cheery mood. Hailing from sunny Glasgow she takes inspiration from iconic Scottish food packaging including Tunnock’s Teacakes and Caramel Wafers (yum!), Scotts Porridge Oats and Creamola Foam (a 1950s soft drink that used to come in the form of soluble crystals – had to Wikipedia that one)!

The aprons cost £17.95 each and you’ll also find tea towels, bags and mugs to match. All available on-line from Gillian Kyle’s website. Happy browsing. – Alice