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August 12th 2014
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WIN: LITTLE DESIGNERS BED LINEN COMPETITION

We’re giving you the chance to design a new range of kids bedlinen…

School’s out! With the summer holidays in full swing, we thought it was about time we introduced a fun competition to celebrate! We’re giving the little ones the chance to create a range of kids bedlinen for us that could be sold on the Laura Ashley website, plus a £250 voucher to spend on anything you like in store.

 

You don’t have to be a graphic designer or artist, just be creative! What would your children like to see on their covers? What do you think would make them smile? What’s never been done before? Work with your kids and get them to create their very own favourite bedlinen set…

 

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William Bedset

 

We’re looking for something different and creative but that ultimately fits in with the Laura Ashley brand. This is your chance to get creative with the kids during the holidays and really get your thinking cap on! Have you always wanted to try your hand at design? Do you think your kid is the next big designer in the making? Now’s the chance to show those skills!

 

We’re looking for two designs and will pick two winners – a range designed for ages 12 and under and another for ages 6 and under. Each should be designed by the children themselves – but of course can have a helping hand from mum or dad.

 

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Weymouth Flag Bedset

 

TO ENTER:

 

All you need to do is download this PDF kids bedlinen outline and incorporate your child’s design into it, whether it be hand drawn, painted, or sketched. However you like! Then scan it in or snap a picture of it and send it to Social.Media@Lauraashley.com. Please also sign the accompanied terms. Otherwise, you can send it to:

 

Laura Ashley

Social Media Department

Design Centre

27 Bagleys Lane

London

SW6 2QA

 

You will need to include your name, your child’s  name, and whether or not you are entering for the range 12 and under or 6 and under. You may also include any additional information about the design you deem appropriate.

 

We’re on the hunt for something fun and different – that children will love. Two winners will be chosen from a panel of expert judges and notified shortly after the closing date.

 

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Songbird Bedset 

 

Terms and Conditions apply.

 

 Good luck!

August 11th 2014
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MAKE & DO: CREATE A DISTRESSED WALLPAPER CABINET

Blogger Jodie gets creative with our wallpaper and paint to create a distressed cabinet…

We’re forever searching for creative ways to use our wallpaper, from creating a focus wall, to framing a piece, we love thinking of new fun ways to use the material. That being said, there’s nothing we like more than a good old fashioned up-cycle, so our thoughts turned to how to incorporate wallpaper in a new DIY project. With our creative hats on, we invited crafty blogger A Handmade Cottage to give us a step-by-step guide on how to create a distressed wallpapered cabinet…

 

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This weekend I took on a rather large up cycling project, with the help of the lovely Laura Ashley. I transformed my very dark corner cabinet into light one, using their pretty paints and wallpapers. My little victorian cottage can be rather dark at times, so transforming dark furniture is a great way brighten and create the illusion of space.

 

What you will need:

 

3 contrasting pieces of Laura Ashley wallpaper
Undercoat / primer in white
Laura Ashley Cotton White Paint
Clear Soft Wax
Fine Sandpaper
Masking Tape
PVA glue (in matt)
Paint Brush
Lint‑Free Cloth

 

Step 1:

 

Remove hinges and door knobs. (I know, it’s time consuming but it’s worth it.)

 

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Fun one - Ralphy and I

 

Step 2:

 

Sand the furniture lightly ‑ don’t strip it completely, just give it light sand to help the paint stick.

 

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Step 3:

 

Apply a coat of primer. Once the first coat is completely dry give any lumps and bumps a light sanding. If your furniture is dark you may need to apply another coat.

 

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Step 4:

 

Once the primer is dry, apply your first top coat. Give another light sanding in between to ensure a smooth finish. Then apply the second coat (and a third if necessary).

 

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Step 5:

 

Once the paint is completely dry it’s time to distress! You can use sandpaper alone or a blunt knife … there are tools designed especially for this but a knife works perfectly well.
Take hold of both ends and scrap along all the edge until you have the desired effect, then sand. I find the sandpaper alone works better on the smaller / detailed areas, while the knife / sandpaper work better on the edges.

 

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Step 6:

 

Once you’ve finished distressing give it a good dust off, and apply your wax with a soft lint free cloth. Rub it into the grain then once dry, give it a good buff.

 

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Step 7:

 

The wallpaper is the tricky part. First measure the width and length you need to cover …

 

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Step 8:

 

Then ensuring your wallpaper edge is straight to begin with, measure your wallpaper and put a mark on each edge where it needs to be cut, then fold the edge, making sure it’s straight and cut to size.

 

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Step 9:

 

Once you’ve cut out all your pieces of wallpaper make sure they all fit into the space, and make any nessesary adjustments.
Put to one side and apply your first coat of PVA glue. Having another person on hand at this point will be helpful. My mum and I applied the glue together as it dried quickly. When you’re ready to lay the paper ‑ I suggest one person holds one end, while the other person lines up the other end with one edge, then gradually lay it down lightly. Once it’s in don’t press down…

 

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Step 10:

 

Take a clean, dry cloth or tea towel and smooth out the paper from the CENTRE outwards. Do one side, then the next. If you get creases or bubbles don’t panic, you won’t even notice them and many bubbles disappear overnight. Once the wallpaper is up, then brush on a thin, even layer of PVA glue on TOP of the wallpaper.

 

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Step 11:
Give the hinges one thick coat of top coat or two thin coats. Once dry, sand‑paper the paint off all of the edges, and gently bring out the detail. I also dabbed a little paint on the top of each screw, making sure I could still get the screwdriver in.

 

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Step 12:

 

Once completely dry screw all hinges back in place.

 

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Finally:

 

Stand back and admire your hard work! Adding fairy lights inside gives the whole cabinet a sparkle. These are micro LED lights in warm white. Tada!

 

Finished close up distress

 

Finished inside cupbaord

 

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Finished with fairy lights

 

We love this creative way to use wallpaper, especially with the finishing touch of LED lights! Can you think of any creative ways to use the material? Do let us know…

 

Browse the Laura Ashley range of Wallpaper and Cabinets.

August 8th 2014
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CREATE A WELCOMING GUEST ROOM WITH LITTLE WINTER

We invited blogger Katy of Little Winter to share with us what she thinks makes an inviting guest room…

Creating a cosy and inviting guest room can be a tricky task for any host, especially when every persons opinion on what makes a ‘home from home’ is different. The art of decorating this space requires keen attention to detail, and of course a good eye for interiors! With this in mind we invited lifestyle blogger and keen decorator, Katy of Little Winter, to create a welcoming space for guests in her new home.

 

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Dove Grey Paint | Pair of cream white hooks | Coco Jaquard Towels

 

 

Making the most of your house is sometimes easier said than done even when you upgrade from a two bed to a three bed, your stuff just never seems to quite fit in. Space is always an issue – well that’s what we’ve found recently! With one of our rooms fully converted into a wardrobe room (yes, it’s a dream come true!) we pondered over the spare room for quite some time debating whether an office would be ideal (nope, we don’t work at home), an indoor gym (nope, this would last five minutes) or the man room (this one went on for some time). Eventually we decided that it was best kept simple yet useful. A chilled room on a weekday evening and the guest room for two by weekend.

 

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Coco Jaquard Towels

 

We have a lot of guests over to stay – I love hosting for people (putting out fresh towels, offering some form of breakfast and just enjoying the company), so I felt that we couldn’t quite get rid of the spare bed just yet. Instead of  wishing we had a day bed, we attempted to create our own version only bigger, with cushions and throws for that extra cosy feel. We decided to paint the room in the Dove Grey emulsion, which gives a calm and warm ambience for anybody visiting (plus it really was time to step away from our beloved white paint!)

 

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Covent Garden Alarm Clock

 
At the moment, we seem to have a new love for clocks. Whether it be a tiny handheld clock or a huge centre piece we want them all and in every single room! This sweet little Laura Ashley alarm clock is the perfect size propped up next to the plant pot on the sideboard and is ideal for when we’ve found ourselves dozing off for forty winks… It’s a good job the alarm is fairly powerful!

 

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Coco Jaquard Towels | Pair of cream white hooks

 
I expressed my love for putting out fresh towels for guests, so we couldn’t be without these Laura Ashley Jaquard Towels which not only takes away the awkward “do you have a towel we can borrow?” question, but instantly makes them feel like they’re at home. Killing two birds with one stone we hung them on these cream hooks and made it a feature against the wall, plus it saves on space. It’s so Pinterest, I totally love it!

 

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Ridged Glass Lidded Jar

 
We wanted to make the most of our space and not just as a guest room, so by putting our own stamp on the room made such a difference. Whenever I’m after an hours peace or some pampering time, I grab a cuppa, turn on some music and paint my nails. This jar is the perfect storage solution for keeping things tidy and organised, and  of course any of our guests are welcome to borrow some varnish.. if they like that kinda thing!

 

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Silver Grey Velvet Cushion

 
Our cushion collection for the room is slowly growing, and this velvet cushion certainly makes up for what we’re lacking. There’s been many afternoons where I’ve laid my head and read a book whilst enjoying a few too many biscuits. Personally I think cushions are what makes a bed so inviting, and if there’s one thing that I like to hear, it’s that my guests have had a good nights sleep.

 

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And of course, no room in our house could be complete without a handfull of carnations in a milk bottle placed nicely on the shelf. To me, that’s what makes a room inviting and cosy the most.

 

 

A big thanks to Katy for her words of advice! What do you think makes a good spare room? What makes you feel at home when you’re a guest? We’d love to know…

August 7th 2014
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PART 1, TIPS FROM THE EXPERT: INTERIOR DESIGNER GEORGINA

Interior designer Georgina shares her decor solutions for all your interior conundrums…

When it comes to decorating your new home or refreshing your current abode, there are many tricky interior decisions to be made. With a list of questions as long as our arm, we pencilled in a date with our resident interior designer Georgina to quiz her on the many decor conundrums we all stumble across…

 

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What colour shall I paint the walls?

 

Don’t be afraid of colour. There are so many options out there, so it can be quite intimidating and tricky to choose the right shade. If you get it spot on, it will really define the space and will bring life and mood to a room. Remember that paint colours are made up of lots of different pigments and tones, so it is essential to try tester pots first and experience the colour at different times of the day. Choosing the right colour just comes down to deciding the mood that you would like to create in the room. Consider all the elements in the room, so that the colour isn’t competing with anything else.

 

Different woods

How can I mix different wood tones?

 

This is such a common question, as many of my clients have sentimentally valuable pieces of furniture which are just too precious to not include. If you have many pieces that are mahogany or rosewood tones, it can be hard to know whether you can introduce lighter woods into the scheme. There is no real rule here, but I would certainly advise that you balance the woods through the room and make sure they are not all grouped together. I would advise that the main pieces are in one wood colour, and then you can introduce individual pieces in contrasting tones. I personally love mixing old with new and think it can be very effective in design. It helps bring personality and history to the room too.

 

Lighter space

How can you make a small room look bigger?

 

 

Don’t cram the room with lots of small furniture, it is much more effective to use fewer larger pieces. This also rings true for the walls also, use fewer, larger paintings to create an optical illusion of space. Make use of the height in the room with the following tips:

 

- Continue the paint colour above the picture rail to enhance the height of the room, this will instantly make it feel bigger.

 

- Utilise the height of the room with clever storage solutions that go right up to the ceiling.

 

Lighting is one of the most important factors in a scheme. Consider all the different levels of lighting in the room from the ceiling lights/pendants, uplighters and occasional lamps. Placing tall lamps in the corner of a room will widen the space and make it feel bigger.

 

Wall art

How do you arrange a picture wall?
It depends on the style of the room. Is it a sophisticated space or a more eclectic look? A linear arrangement of matching frames looks great in a formal, refined room. To create an eclectic look, a selection of sizes, colours and designs of frames can look just as effective. Start with central frame which is going to stand out and then build outwards. In order to make this work it is important to create balance. Make sure you distribute colour, size and thickness of frame evenly, and as a general rule, work with odd numbers.

 

For more interior solutions stay tuned for part two of Georgina’s tips next week!

 

For more details on the Laura Ashley Design Service click here.

August 5th 2014
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GET CREATIVE: 3 COFFEE TABLES, 3 STYLES

We invited our visual manager for home to style up three coffee tables in three different ways…

A coffee table is the focus of any room, so getting the styling right is a must. Long gone are the days where it was just a place to reach for your remote or cup of tea, the coffee table has now become a key piece of furniture in a room. We personally love changing it up every so often, so much so that we invited Alex, our visual manager for home, to style up three different coffee tables in three very different ways…

 

 

Table 1

Provencale Coffee Table Oak Top | Beth Photo Frame | Silver Plated Photo Frame | Darcy Spot China Cup and Saucer | Darcey Spot China Mug

 

The first coffee table we used was Provencale. This shabby chic style works well with pops of colour and pretty accessories. We love how Alex has added these decorative roses and can’t you just imagine how lovely a spread of afternoon tea and cake would look?

 

Alex says … “The first coffee table (Provencale) brings together the best of french style, with gentle curves and a delicate female touch. Cherry dots and pink motifs help to bring a soft touch and transform the room into a charming and elegant place. Roses were used as special finishing touch!”

 

Table 2

Dorset Soft Truffle Coffee Table | Set of Three Bud Vases | Cermanic Leaf Ornament

 

Our second coffee table, Dorset in soft truffle, would work best in a country home with plenty of wooden furniture pieces. Alex has used autumnal inspired accessories to create a cosy atmosphere, ideal for when the colder nights start to creep in.

 

Alex says… “The second coffee table (Dorset) was inspired by an urban cottage due to its shape, so I used rustic pieces to give it an edge. A different use for these bud vases, I added a fragrance diffuser with a warm scent to create a cosy atmosphere. The pops of bright colour and the check pattern also help to warm the ambience, making it feel like a cosy place to relax on a winters night.”

 

 

 

Table 3

Brompton Coffee Table | Storage Box | Decorative Mirror Tray | Hurricane Lamp Holder

 

A very simplistic look, this Brompton coffee table would look great in a smart modern household for those who like the minimalist style. We love the addition of the storage box to keep everything neatly hidden away and uncluttered (and you won’t misplace the remote!)

 

Alex says… “The final coffee table (Brompton) was inspired by classic lines, with highlights of glass, silver and mirror. These mirrors can be used to reflect the candles’ light, keeping the style bold and  elegant. This style is all about simplicity = less is more.”

 

Thanks to Alex for styling up these coffee tables for us. Tell us, what style is your favourite? Do you use your coffee table as a source of creative inspiration?

 

July 30th 2014
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DESIGNED FOR YOU: FURNITURE FOR ANY HOME STYLE

Create the perfect home to suit your style…

Choosing a theme for your home can be a daunting task, with so many different styles out there it can be difficult to know where to begin. Don’t fear! We are here to help. If you’re searching for a home style, try picking out key elements from your house that you already love and going from there. Every design style includes distinguishable elements and starts from the very basics; the furniture. Join us as we take you through how to theme your home from scratch…

 

English Eccentric

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Kendal fixed cover 2-seater / Lynden Footsool / Southwold Chair / Balmoral Chestnut 3 Drawer Desk / Nest of 3 Tables

 

Love bold statement pieces with  hints of quintessentially English touches? Take inspiration from our new Country Elegance collection. A classic decorating story using one of our best selling archival prints re-coloured in a cranberry for a very British country house look. We recommend going for classic furniture pieces: try this Southwold upholstered chair and the Kendal fixed 2-seater, two very classic pieces of furniture ideal for building a house theme from. Add accents of dark chestnut for a smart finishing look, this Balmoral 3 drawer desk is both stylish and handy !

 

 

Shabby Chic

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Bramley Dining Chairs | Round Table | 2 Drawer Dresser | Rocking Chair

 

An increasingly popular style, the shabby chic style uses elements of distressed furniture to give that vintage feel to a home. Our Bramley furniture is great for achieving this look. This collection has a distressed painted finish with solid wood tops, reminiscent of an old country house. Get the distressed vintage look without having to scour antique shops! With the finishing touches, keep the colour fresh with creams and off white and add elements of warm lighting,

 

Sophisticated Classic

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Gloucester 2 Seater | Venezia Side Tables | Lovell Mirror

 

For those of you who love the opulent look; grey, silver, and metallic pieces work well together and look expensive. This style is all about appearing grand; so go big with furniture. Invest in sleek and smart pieces that co-ordinate well with your room colours. Our best selling Gloucester sofas add some charm to any home and a striking mirror makes a great statement piece!

 

Casual Cosy

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Padstow 2 Seater in Edwin Natural | Dorset Truffle Tables | Dorset Coffee Table

 

For a cosy atmosphere, stick to a warm palette of neutrals throughout the home. These coffee tables are a mix between vintage and modern and are a great compliment to a cosy fireplace and wooden interior! These Padstow slouchy sofas are the ultimate in relaxation which is a must have for a comfy home style. For the finishing touches try warm lighting through the use of candles and table lamps.

 

Super Smart

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Range of Garrat Furniture in Honey

 

Make your home look super smart with our range of Garrat furniture in dark chestnut and honey. This wooden furniture  makes your home look sophisticated and matches almost any colour combination. It has been beautifully crafted from solid birch, and with a whole range on offer, you’re guaranteed to find at least one piece to help smarten up your home!

 

There you have it! Furniture to suit your home, whatever the style. We’d love to know what style of home you prefer, do you like a cosy, comfy house or prefer something a little more eccentric? What type of furniture do you like best? Let us know in the comments. If none of these styles work for you, why not check out our design service!

July 23rd 2014
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KIDS CORNER: CHALKBOARD CHALLENGE PT. 2

Part 2: Bloggers Michelle and Lucy get creative with our chalkboard paint…

School’s out for the summer! Hasn’t it come around fast? Now that it’s here our thoughts turn to how to keep the little ones entertained during the holidays, and what better way to have fun with them than by getting creative? Yesterday, we saw how bloggers and busy mums Kathryn and Kelle used our chalkboard paint with their kids by creating a doodle door and a surface scribble. Today, we hand over to Michelle from Eden Found and Lucy from Capture By Lucy to show us how they would use theirs…

 

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Chalkboard Paint

 

Building Blocks

 

Crafty lifestyle mummy blogger Michelle is no stranger to getting creative, often posting about her DIY constructions and thrifty finds over on Eden Found. It was no surprise then that she came up with this inspirational way to use our chalkboard paint. Let us introduce you to chalky building blocks…

 

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Michelle tells us…

 

“Every mother dreads those two little words, ‘I’m bored’ and when faced with that nugget of information you have two choices. You can choose to throw money at the problem or you can get creative. I chose to get creative and make some chalkboard building blocks.

We were given these wooden blocks when my children were small. Although they used to get played with quite often, recently my girls had fallen out of love with them, so I thought I would give them a little revamp using some Laura Ashley chalkboard paint.

 

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Painting the blocks couldn’t have been simpler. For a nice even finish I gave each block a couple coats of paint and left them to dry for a couple hours between each layer of paint. I didn’t wear gloves, so my hands were covered in paint, but as the paint washes off really easily that wasn’t a problem.

My girls loved the results. They made their own little town, complete with houses, a shopping centre, a zoo and a train station! For the price of a tin of paint, my children were well and truly entertained!

 

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At the end of the day the blocks were wiped clean and put away, ready for the next adventure. Who knows what they’ll make next?”

 

Vegetable Patch

 

Photographer, blogger and mum of two boys, Lucy is the creative force behind Capture by Lucy. Packed full of amazing photography and imaginative ideas, Capture by Lucy is your one stop for creative inspiration. For our chalkboard challenge, her two boys used our chalkboard paint to create their own unique vegetable patch…

 

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Lucy tells us…

 

“The boys are getting so excited about moving to our new house and giddy about growing our own vegetables in the vegetable patch through the gate from the “secret garden”. I love that they have already commandeered this affectionate name for the part of the garden that meanders behind the tool shed.

It’s a magical childhood memory in the making, that made us fall in love with the house the moment we viewed it…

 

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The boys understand where vegetables come from, they appreciate you need to eat healthy food to keep you big and strong and I know come rain or shine, we will be donning our wellingtons and heading to our little garden allotment to see what we can eat for dinner that week. To keep their excitement alive whilst we painfully wait for the contracts to complete in September,  thought of an easy craft idea that requires imagination and fun using the new Laura Ashley Chalk Paint. A play tray!

 

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We painted a plastic tomato plant tray with a layer of chalk paint and left it to dry. The paint is easy to apply, “not too drippy” in Sammy’s words and gives an even coverage of a rich black colour and smooth texture. We then added chalk drawn trees for the knitted apples, leaves to add to the lettuce ‘ready to pick’ and labelled our pickings with some spoon garden tags made from wooden spoons painted with a layer of chalk paint! An easy and simple idea for little ones to join in with.

 

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We love that we can just wipe it clean and start all over again, with brown chalk mud! That was Ollie’s favourite bit. As soon as we move in we are going to add our labels to all the lovely real fruits and vegetables just waiting for my mini gardeners to tend to and enjoy. You could also turn your play tray into an easy DIY car or train track too!”

 

Thanks to Kathryn, Kelle, Michelle and Lucy for taking part in our chalky challenge! Incase you missed it here’s the first instalment. Which do you find the most inspiring? We’d love to know how you would use our chalkboard paint, tell us your ideas…

July 22nd 2014
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KID’S CORNER: CHALKBOARD CHALLENGE

Part 1: We enlist four busy mums to share with us their inspiring ideas using our chalkboard paint…

It’s official – school’s out for summer! Keeping little ones entertained during the holidays however can be tricky business, so with this in mind we wanted to create a fun and exciting activity that will provide endless hours of imaginative play-time, without being too stressful for us adults. Introducing our chalky challenge, we set four busy mums the task to get creative with our new chalkboard paint, to get the little ones on board and show how they would use it!

 

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Chalkboard Paint 

 

Coming up with a number of inspiring ideas, from transforming everyday objects to making over a kids corner in their home, we were so impressed with their creative thinking we simply couldn’t wait to show you their adventurous play-time ideas…

 

Doodle Door 

 

Freelance writer Kathryn lives in her hometown of Harrogate, in Yorkshire with her husband and three children, where she pens her daily lifestyle blog Kat got the cream. Looking for a new way to update her son Charlie’s room, Kathryn reveals unique idea for the chalky challenge…

 

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Kathryn tells us…

 

‘We’re currently in the process of making over my 8 year old son’s room and I’ve been looking for a few ways to personalise it for him (as well as make it fun). Charlie loves drawing and doodling so I thought we’d create a chalkboard area on the back of his bedroom door, which he can regularly update himself. It’s really quick and easy to do, plus it blends in quite nicely with the rest of his room, which features monochrome as well as bright orange and blue. He loved the finished result!’

 

Tabletop Scribble 

 

Mother of two Kelle is a stylist and full-time blogger on her online corner Dinky and Dandy. Dedicated to sharing all things cool for little ones, both her children Hattie and Fraser got stuck into decorating her chalky table top…

 

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Kelle tells us… 

 

‘I’ve wanted to paint a chalkboard wall for the kids for ages now but because our house is now up for sale I decided to use our paint to turn an old table into a fun chalkboard instead. The kids love their new table and so far we’ve turned it into a train track, a farm, a zoo and a busy town so it’s perfect for imaginative play. I love how it’s so much easier to put away and clean than the mess painting creates and when the sun shines we can take it out in the garden. The chalkboard paint went on really easy, it took two coats to cover the table and I love the finished result. It didn’t use much of the tin either so when we buy a new house I’ll be using it to paint that chalkboard wall!’

 

Now how is that for a dose of daily interior inspiration? Transforming a kid’s corner with a lick of paint with endless fun involved? We’re in! Stay tuned for the next installment of our chalky challenge tomorrow on the blog…

 

Browse the Laura Ashley kid’s furniture and accessories here.

July 21st 2014
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THE GREAT BRITISH BEE COUNT

Do your part for nature and rehome our British bees with this fantastic new campaign…

This summer we are calling on your support to help us embark on The Great British Bee Count! An essential part of the food chain, the decline of the bee population has become an increasingly worrying factor. Whether you’re looking to spend more time in the garden or a keen nature lover, by taking a closer look at the bees buzzing around our gardens and parks, it really could help save this important species from dying out.

 

Sharing with us her top tips on how to encourage bee’s back into your garden, Melanie Kramers from environment charity Friends of the Earth explains all…

 

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As you’ve probably heard our British bees are in trouble and in desperate need of rehoming. In recent years, the numbers of bees in the UK have been declining at an alarming rate, with over twenty species of bees already extinct. With a  high percentage of our countryside meadows disappearing over the last 60 years, the loss of their vital habitats have left the bees homeless and feeling hungry. An essential part of the food chain, everyday we eat fruit and vegetables that have been pollinated by these buzzing creatures. As they move from flower to flower collecting nectar, they are an important factor in the pollinating process in helping distribute pollen far and wide.

 

Do you like strawberry jam on your buttered toast or a delicious Sunday treat of apple crumble? These are all pollinated by bees, along with 75% of food crops worldwide!

 

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Eventually our parks, gardens and countryside will become a barren place without bees to keep them blooming – so how can you help? The good news is that there are lots of ways you can be part of the generation that saves our bees.

 

- Got a smartphone? Download our free app The Great British Bee Count and log any bees you spot between now and the end of August. You don’t need to be any expert to take part, the easy-to-use app will help you tell the difference between bee species such as leafcutter bees and buff-tailed bumblebees. All the data then be logged to help scientists build a nationwide picture of bee health, where they are thriving and where they are in danger. Don’t worry if you don’t have the app, you can fill in all your bee-hunting business on our website here.

 

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- Green fingered?  Try growing bee-friendly plants from lavender to honeysuckle in your window-box or garden to encourage new buzzing visitors – just make sure to avoid using pesticides which can harm bees’ health. To find out which plants are most loved, create your own bee cafe with this handy list of what to grow here.

 

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Wooden Bee House / Aviary Garden Tool Set (both available in store)

 

-  Create a cosy nest with our wooden bee house, providing a valuable shelter or a nesting site for solitary wild bees that, unlike honey bees, don’t live in hives. The Mason species enjoy nesting in warm and sheltered environment, with plenty of room to rest in the thick wooden holes; make sure to position their new abode in a south facing spot with the bee house pointing downwards to avoid the rain.

 

-  If you’ve already done this – think bigger! Hundreds of people have already planted ‘Bee Worlds’ in their communities – larger wildflower areas that help provide hungry bees with food and shelter. Across the UK, we’ve lost 97% of our wildflower meadows in the past 60 years, so restoring this vital bee habitat can really help.

 

Hope you enjoy saving bees while having fun this summer – let us know how you get on!

July 17th 2014
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DRESSING YOUR WINDOWS IN STYLE

Your window style questions answered by resident Laura Ashley interior expert Kerry…

Whether you’re in the throws of sprucing up your living space or designing the decor of your new home, there are so many important decisions to be made. One that’s often overlooked is deciding how to style your windows, whether you opt for curtains or blinds, they can both dramatically enhance the look and feel of your room. With the practical reasons of privacy and keeping the heat inside, a well dressed window can also pull together the visual aesthetic of your interior – adding an attractive focal point. From functional blinds in the bathroom to sweeping styles in the bedroom, our resident interior designer Kerry is on hand to cover the basics of simple window dressing style…

 

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Rockpool Natural Roman Blinds

 

- How can I make blinds and curtains work together?

 

This is a question that is asked of me on a regular basis, where clients want the practically of a blind but the visually pleasing appeal of curtains. My top advice for having both curtains and blinds together is to have them at the same height on the outside of the recess. If your curtains are 15cm above the window then make sure to take your blind up the same height, it looks far better to have them in line with each other over the window.

 

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Awning Stripe Dove Grey Curtain Fabric

 

- How can I maintain privacy in my living room windows without it preventing the light?

 

Sheer roller blinds are the perfect tool for maintaining privacy, without being too heavy. They offer a much more contemporary look rather than sheer curtains. If this idea sounds a little minimalistic, place a roman blind over the recess to bring colour and print to dress the window area. The sheer roller blind will ensure privacy during the day, but the roman blind can be pulled down come evening to lock in warmth and block out the light.

 

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Swansbrook Amethyst Curtain Fabric

 

- Whats the best way to frame a window seat?

 

A window seat can be framed with either curtains or blinds, it simply depends on the style of window. If you have curtains and blinds inside the recess, this may not work if you plan to have scatter cushions at the back of the window seat. Whereas curtains, on the outside of the recess, framing the window with co-ordinating scatter cushions in different colours and textures will look and work well.

 

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Summer Palace Cranberry Curtains

 

- How can I dress a bay window?

 

I find the best way to dress a bay window is to have floor length curtains on the outside of the recess, which will frame the overall window. If you were to have separate curtains for each window, it would make the bay look crowded and squashed inside, so to open up the window make sure you have the curtains on the outside. Additionally, you could add roman or wooden slat venetian blinds in the bay on each window, if you prefer a more modern look.

 

- Is there a particular blind I can use for the bathroom?

 

Bathroom blinds can be any type, you just need to think about the type of fabric that is being used. Use a fabric that will withstand damp conditions without shrinking. Bathroom windows can usually be above the sink, so silk isn’t often a practical option as it would mark with water splashes. The Laura Ashley range at Thomas Sanderson offer a beautiful selection of shutters in a variety of colour ranges suitable for bathrooms.

 

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Thomas Sanderson Blinds / Bead Trim Roman Blinds

 

For more information on what type of blind will suit your home, why not check out our Blind Buying Guide?

 

Browse the Laura Ashley range of Made-To-Order Blinds and Curtains.