Our Favourite: Tea Towels

There are times when redecorating a house can involve spending lots of money on not very exciting things (eg. wooden shelving, new electricity points, tree surgery), so it’s sometimes satisfying to splash out on an inexpensive item with a stylish design to bring some character into your rooms.

Tea towels fit the bill perfectly, and here are some of our favourites:

(see more over on our Pinterest board)


1. Isak | Blossom bill tea towel blue  £10 (£4.95 p&p), 2. Donna Wilson | Use My Beard Tea Towel £12 (2.50 p&p), 3. John Lewis | Iittala Taika Tea Towel £10 (£3 p&p / collect in store), 4. Anthropologie | From the Outdoors Tea Towel £12 (in store/ £5 p&p), 5. Oak Room Shop | TOPIARY TEA TOWEL £12.95 (4.95p&p) 6. Lush Designs | Beetroot Tea Towel | £11 (incl. p&p), 7. ZARA HOME | Striped Tea Towel (Set of 2) 4.99 -sale price (shop pick up free), 8. Heal’s | 1810 Tea Towel in Peacock Flower by Malika Favre £10 (in store / £4.95p&p)

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Our Favourite: Kitchen Lighting

Today’s round up comes out of necessity as my kitchen light went on the blink recently, which has made cooking at night interesting / experimental as you can barely see what you’re making and had to rely on the palrty light from the cooker hood.

Under threat of replacement, it flickered back into action, but I don’t trust it to hold out (or be particularly safe), and to be honest I’m quite keen to get rid of the clunky silver spotlights.  As we have a small galley kitchen, with only one little window, I’ve been looking at glass and metal pendants to bring brightness to the small area, and also at billiard table pendants (with 2 to 3 lights in a row) for added wattage.

Here’s the shortlist I’m mulling over, and you can see the long-list on our kitchen lighting Pinterest board.


1. Copper pendant light £92 (free p&p) 2. Cloche light £98 / £110 (£8.50 p&p) 3. Unfold Pendant £119 (free delivery) 4. Industrial brass hanging lamp £94.80 (£13 p&p) 5. Fluted Glass Duo Pendant Light 7. Chrome pendant ceiling shade £74.95 (£7.50 p&p) 8. Nea Double Arm Pendant Light £199 (£5.95 p&p)

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Our Favourite: Trays

Rather like a good tea towel, a tray can be a purchase that lets you bring a bit of bold patterning, or bright splash of colour to a room, without going ‘all in’ by affixing it to your walls or shelling out for a statement piece of furniture.  Much as I love colourful decor, I’m a nervous Nellie when it comes to colour in my own home, so moveable items are ideal for dipping my toe in the waters of patterns and frivolity (plus they can be moved inside a cupboard if you really don’t get on with them…)

The most useful tray purchases for my house have been two small vintage trays from Etsy.

Small tray

My favourite is this one which is used for the salt, pepper and condiments that I use frequently in the kitchen.   Not only does it look pretty, is has  the added benefit of making an unruly collection of objects look tidy and smart.

Here are a few of our other favourites from around the web – see the full selection of picks on our Pinterest board.


1. Tropical Garden Tray £17.99 sale price (+£9.99 p&p / free delivery over £50)  2. Colour Reel Collection £24 (+£5 p&p)  3. Set of 2 Whale Trays by Paul Thomas | £36 (+£5.95 standard delivery) 4. BÄRBAR Tray, bird | £5.50 (collect in store) 5. Tingleby Serving Plate £45 (£4.95 p&p) 6. Cat Tray £19 small £29 standard (free shipping)  7. Colourful Spear Tray £49 (+£3.95 p&p) 8. Vintage Blue Tray £8 (+£5.20 p&p)


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My Orange Ercol

My orange ercol

(ignore the floral paper – we’ve yet to decorate this room)

We went shopping for a coffee table and came back with a new chair. That’s the way it goes sometimes. I’m not usually one for impulse buys, even if there is a jacket in the sale for a tenner I like to go away and think about it – perhaps spend the equivalent in coffee and cake and then go back to buy it.

Vintage furniture markets have a strange effect on me though, maybe it’s the added pressure of knowing that often there’s only one of them available and I don’t have the option to sleep on it or order it online later.  In this particular instance though I knew I had to have this chair, it was perfect for our dining room, somewhere comfy to sit and listen to records. It was also reasonably priced – a rarity at a vintage fair. I’ve featured the sellers from Your Vintage Life before, their site is well worth a visit.

I’m sure you recognise the design, it’s an Ercol chair complete with the original fabric, featured in the ad below (an advert it seems which is still effective, as I really want the matching stool now too!)

Ercol chair

Ercol are British furniture manufacturers established in 1920 and famed for their innovative, affordable and long-lasting designs.  Their bentwood frame and the arched wooden back has become something of a signature, and is a timeless classic that’s still going strong today (take a look at the originals section on the Ercol site). Good design stands the test of time and this piece certainly has. Now the real test – whether it can survive another 50 years in my company…


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A charming chai tea set

Chai tea glasses

I was innocently browsing in  Manchester’s Fig and Sparrow when this charming tea set caught my eye. Originally from Fairtrade company Nkuku the sets are handmade from recycled glass and then encased in a wire frame reminiscent of old milk trays.

They’re actually designed for sipping chai tea but I didn’t realise this until I was informed at the till. Instead I had them in mind as water glasses that would sit permanently on the dining room table. They’re pretty small though so no good if you’re really thirsty but I love the informal ‘help yourself if you want’ attitude they have. I’ve also found them an ideal size to accompany wine or coffee, so perfect for dinner parties.

I’ve since had my first cup of chai tea too – turns out it’s pretty nice. Now all you need is a teapot, take a look at some of our favourites...



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Our Favourite: Cake Stands

Warning: cake stands are frivolous and non-essential items of kitchenware.

In buying one you generally have to accept that (unless you’re an exceptionally keen baker) they won’t come out of the cupboard all that often. I would argue though, that the satisfaction you feel when you match a well turned out cake / tart with a stylish cake stand and present it to an audience is more than worth the investment.  Below are a selection of our favourites…

favourite cake stands

1. Amara | Ivalo Pastries/Cheese Dome & Ash Base £33 (£3.95 p&p), 2. IKEA | AKTAD Serving stand, red £14 (in store only), 3. Divertimenti | ASA Black Footed Cake Stand £32.95 (free delivery), 4. ZARA HOME | Bird Cake Tray £29.99 (delivery free to store or £9.99), 5. Toast | Cake Stand £42 (in store / £4.95p&p), 6. Habitat | BANQUET CLEAR Glass Glass footed cake plate £25 (in store / £4.95p&p), 7. John Lewis | Le Creuset Cake Stand £46 (free in store / £3 p&p), 8. David Mellor | Design Fine French Porcelain Cake Serving Stand £35 (£5.95 p&p)

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Our Favourite: Jugs

My first attempt at this post opened with the line ‘I have a huge weakness for jugs’, but I could imagine Ste sniggering as a typed that out. It is very true though: jugs are my kryptonite. Rustic, earthenware ones in particular I find difficult to resist, or beautifully crafted, simple ceramic pieces. There’s something about the jug that really exhibits the craft of the maker, and they can add colour or texture not just to your table, but also to your home if you put them on display

Of course Ste doesn’t feel quite the same way and has an unfortunate tendency to inject rationality into the purchasing process. ‘What are you going to use that one for?’, ‘err…milk?’ ‘Don’t we already have, like, three milk jugs’ ‘well this one’s a bit smaller, perhaps it would be the cream jug, plus one of those three jugs you mentioned is actually a custard jug’ ‘We never make custard’ ‘We might one day…’

In an ideal world all of these would adorn my kitchen shelves :

Round up of different images of jugs

1. The Oak Room | Handpainted Bohemian Sunshine Jug £8.99 (+£3.95 p&p)  2. Toast | Eve Milk Jug £18 (in store / £4.95 p&p)  3. Scandinavian Design Center | Amanda Milk Jug – White-aqua £16 (+£5 p&p)  4. Scandinavian Design Center | Höganäs jug 0,5 l – apple red £27 (+£5 p&p)  5. Rachel Barker Ceramics | Madras Small Jug £18.95 (+£1.33 p&p)  6. Rime | Jansen + Co My Milk Jug – Grey £16.50 (+£4.95 p&p)  7. Scandinavian Design Center | POP jug – turquoise-orange – Sagaform | £18 (+£5 p&p)  8. Michael Taylor Speckled Blue Glaze Medium Jug 50cl £25 (+£5.95 p&p)  9. Habitat | Marne Greys Stoneware Medium grey jug  £10 (+4.95 p&p/in store)

See many more of our favourite jugs and pitchers on our Pinterest board

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Our Favourite: Salt & Pepper Sets

Searching for a new salt and pepper set turned out to be more difficult that I anticipated. I had a few simple criteria:

1. They need to look good. Think about it; they’re one of the few kitchen gadgets that are usually out in view and used every day, so they’re always on show. In my case they also had to not look out of place with my rustic french dining table

2. They need to be grinders (or the pepper does at least)- this sadly rules out some very well designed sets, but culinary taste prevails.

3. They can’t be stupidly expensive (who pays £100 for a single pepper mill?!)

Here are my top picks (with a couple of pretty shaker sets thrown for those of you that can cope with ready ground pepper):

Salt and pepper grinders

1. Etsy | Restoration Salt & Pepper Set £10 (£3p&p or collect in store) 2. Amazon | NORDIC Bottle Grinder Salt and Pepper Set, Small Blues £40 (incl. p&p) 4. Amazon | Cuisinart CPG130DU Electric Seasoning Set  £35 (free p&p)  5. Saltandpepper.com | T&G Black Walnut Salt Mill £34.99 (£2.95 p&p) 6. Etsy | Hornsea Heirloom Salt and Pepper Set £12 (£3.50 p&p) 7. Amazon | Trudeau Mini Duo Salt and Pepper Mill, Black £20 (£3.95 p&p) 8. Etsy | Vintage Blue and White Salt and Pepper Shakers £8 (+£2.60 p&p)

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Our Favourite: Teapots

I finally decided to replace my trusty white pound shop teapot the other week. It wasn’t a bad looking teapot; it could even get away with being pegged as a ‘minimalist’ design, but it failed on one of the fundamentals of teapot design – the pour. I replaced it with a For Life ‘Trunk’ teapot in grey, which both complements my new nail varnish, and manages the feat of pouring without dribbling tea all over the table.

The selection below were all on my shortlist. I’ve tried to select those with positive pouring reviews, but even if I can’t promise a non-dribbler, I can guarantee they’ll look rather splendid on your shelf…


1. Heals | Falcon enamel teapot £20 (+£4.95 P&P) 2. Heals | Marimekko hennika teapot blue £67 (+£4.95 P&P) 3. Whittards | Cast Iron Brown Teapot £30 (£3 p&p – free delivery over £35) 4. Habitat | Porcelain teapot £18 (+£4.95 P&P) 5. Scandinavian Design Center | Blossom teapot £32 (+£5.00 P+P), 6. Maxwell & Williams | Cafe Culture Teapot 400ML Verde £12.50 (£4.95 p&p) 7. House of Fraser | Denby Malmo Bloom teapot £48.30 (sale price) + £3.00 P+P 8. Teapigs | Acorn teapot £26 (+£3.50 P&P)

See more on our teapots Pinterest board.

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Our Favourite: Sideboards

Now sideboards are something that I used to associate with my parents house. They inherited a tall, imposing, turned mahogany sideboard with their Victorian house some 40 years ago. It has a ‘secret’ cubby hole which houses a dusty selection of liquor which only sees the light of day around Christmas, and the bottom cupboards are mainly inhabited by my mum’s sewing and linen collections.

It was only when we moved in to our house that I considered that sideboards might be owned by people under the age of 50. Moving from flat living to a semi detatched house; our little ikea table looked rather bereft as the only piece of furniture in our newly aquired dining room.

Having invested in a table befitting of the space, we then decided some storage / extra surface space might be useful and I set about scouring eBay for a sideboard that fit the space. I happened to find one that was refurbished and painted in the same paint colour as the table, and I loved the detail on the original handles.

I’d strongly recommend looking at eBay if you like the vintage look (and don’t have a lot of cash to spare), but here’s a round up of various styles; old and new.

round up of our favourite sideboards

1.  Not On The Highstreet | Distressed Victorian Painted Sideboard £445 (+£70 p&p) 2.  Etsy | Vintage Blue Sideboard  £40 (pick up only) 3. The Old Cinema | 1960’s Curved Sideboard £250 (van delivery service on request) 4.  Maison Du Monde | Newport 3-door grey wood buffet £349.90 (+£49 p&p)  5.  West Elm | Dumont Sideboard £599 (+£29 p&p to UK mainland)

See more on our Pinterest sideboards page

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