Posts Tagged ‘Expert Tips’

Worldwide wonders

This spring we’re going global with tribal trends, colourful prints, homespun crafts and unique buys from around the world.

… It’s all about bringing a little piece of the big wide world into your own home.

We’ve been discovering bold colours and prints and are using them to full effect – these vibrant African fabrics are perfect for mixing and matching for extra punch.

The Navajo trend was hot on the catwalk for spring/summer, so we’re working that into our homes too – with quirky embroidery, hand-crafted beading and zigzag prints.

Why not bring a taste of your travels into your home with exotic finds, fabrics and interesting photos? This Indian temple is full of inspiration.

… And what’s not to love about these Moorish tiles? Blue and white is so fresh and inviting for spring.

Colourful lanterns and lamps are wonderful for adding atmosphere, don’t you think?

And how much more appealing does a minty Moroccan cuppa look in a decorative tea pot?

Come and discover our worldwide wonders… We even have some beautiful hand-woven baskets in store now that were crafted by women in rural areas of Western Uganda, supported by HomeSense, making them a perfect addition to our gathering of global goodies.


Simply Irresistible

Why not try a traditional Simnel cake recipe this easter? It’s sure to tempt tums and tickle taste buds.


225 g butter

225 g sugar

4 eggs

225 g plain flour

235 g sultanas

100 g currants

110 g glacé cherries, quartered

grated zest of 2 oranges

grated zest of 2 lemons

2 tsp ground cinnamon

450 g almond paste

2 tbsp apricot jam

1 egg beaten



1. Pre-heat oven to 150°C /gas 2.

2. Place the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, sultanas, currants, glace cherries, orange zest, lemon zest and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl and beat together until thoroughly blended

3. Place half the mixture in a buttered and lined 20cm deep round cake tin and level the surface.

4. Take one-third of the almond paste and roll it out into a circle the size of the tin. Place it on top of the cake mixture. Spoon the remaining cake mixture over and smooth the surface.

5. Bake the cake for about 2 hours 30 minutes until well risen and firm to the touch. Cover with foil after 1 hour if the top is browning too quickly. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

6. When the cake has cooled, brush the top with the warmed apricot jam and roll out half of the remaining almond paste to fit the top. Press firmly on the top and crimp the edges to decorate.

7. Mark a criss-cross pattern on the almond paste with a sharp knife. Form the remaining almond paste into 12 balls (to represent the 12 apostles). Arrange the balls around the outside.

8. Preheat the grill. Place the cake under the preheated grill to turn the almond paste golden.


  • Comments Off
  • Comments Off


Now the family and friends have all gone home, the post Christmas home looks like a bomb has dropped. The debris of opened piles of presents and extra bedding are scattered around like Christmas collateral damage. So here’s some inspiration for getting tidy with wacky, wonderful and good looking storage.


Men’s vintage style drawers inspired by old suitcases. Nice quirky touch.


Shelving doesn’t have to be ugly. Look at this delightfully tasteful storage.


Ah! Perfect for all that stationery, miscellaneous bedding, paperwork and other stuff that you don’t want to look at. Ingenious!


Somebody else has an ingenious mind too!


Get tidy. Could be a bit obsessive.


Fruit boxed shoes.


Make the most of ALL your space.


Oh to have a pantry. The most satisfying room to organise.


Glue cool things on the top of jars to make storage more fun. Easy.




We’ve got sleighfuls of gorgeous Christmas decs from cool minimal designs to Nordic wooden ornaments.  It’s like rummaging through the best stocking in Britain.  Have an eclectic Christmas from HomeSense.




  • Comments Off
  • Comments Off



…for less this Christmas. We’ve got a larder full of lovely gourmet food for you, your family and friends. Feast your eyes on these delicious festive recipes.







Our resident stylist Abigail is now going to be contributing regularly to our blog. Abigail styles, art directs and consults for a diverse range of editorial and commercial clients as well as designing residential interior schemes and creative workspaces.


Abigail has recently designed her first hand drawn wallpaper collection. We are very excited to have her on board. Find out more about her at



Flesh tones

After many years of grey being a classic fall back of the sophisticated but trend led interior, flesh tones have started to creep in. You can still use a pale grey as your base colour if you wish but make sure it is a warm grey rather than blue toned. Add hints of oyster and pale flesh pink that whilst still neutral create a slightly more gentle and cocooning atmosphere.



Flesh from Schiele



Loft conversions we love!



Animal prints

This season has seen an abundance of animal skin patterns in the shops but this time round they are bright! This may sound alarming but cast images of Kat from East Enders from your head and think more of luxe textures and a sophisticated 70’s vibe with warm jewel colours.


  • Comments Off
  • Comments Off



Make the most of the sunshine this weekend and bring out the barbeque. Eating al fresco always tastes better. Don’t you think?

Our resident chef Paul has offered these delicious recipes for us. Mmmmm.

Paul’s BBQ Menu for 6 – 8 People

Home-Made Burgers with Dolcelatte

Marinated Chicken Skewers

Butterfly Leg of Lamb with Garlic & Rosemary

Potato & Egg Salad

Boozy Fruit Parcels with Crème Fraiche



Take 6 chicken breasts, chop and marinate them in:

2tbsp Clear Runny Honey, 2-3cm chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated, 2 heaped tbsp of Seville Orange Marmalade, 3 tsp Soy Sauce. 1 Garlic Clove, crushed.

Leave in the fridge over-night.

Make Potato & Egg Salad

Peel 2 large baking potatoes and cut into chunks.  Place in cold water and bring to the boil before simmering until softened.  Drain and allow to cool.

Bring 3 eggs to the boil and cook for 6-8 minutes depending on whether you’d like a soft centre or not.  Once cold, peel and roughly chop.  Mix the egg and potato with mayonnaise and salad cream until well coated, stir though a handful of chopped chives and season with salt and pepper. If you want a meaty variety you can add some chopped cooked smoked sausage to the mix.

The morning of the BBQ.

Prep the butterfly leg of lamb.  Half a leg should do you, ask your butcher to trim and butterfly  it for you.  Make several holes in the flesh and in to each hole pop a peeled clove of garlic and a sprig of rosemary.  Oil and season the whole joint, wrap and leave in the fridge.  Take it out of the fridge to get to room temperature about an hour before you’re going to cook it.  This will help speed up the cooking.

Make the Burgers:

Take 1kg of beef mince and season with salt and pepper.  Divide in to portions 125g to make eight burgers.  Using your thumb make a well in the middle of each burger and place a chunk of gorgonzola cheese in to each one.   Bring the mince back over the cheese to cover it and re-press to seal.  This also works with Cheddar if you prefer.  Lightly oil the surface of the burgers, cover and place them back in the fridge.  Bring them out about 20 mins before cooking.

Make your chicken skewers:

Put your chicken on to the skewers – 3-4 pieces each.

Make your Fruit Parcels

Rinse and drain a selection of berries. Using foil, make eight large squares and divide the fruit between them.  Bring the foil up to form a purse and then pour in some a 15ml of port or drambuie and a sprinkling of sugar.  Bring the foil together to seal tightly and place your parcels in the fridge.

Cooking your food

Light your BBQ and allow 30 minutes for it to get up to temperature before you put anything on it – if you’re using a gas BBQ obviously this won’t be necessary.

Try and keep in mind what takes the longest to cook.  The lamb will need a good 30-40 minutes depending on how you want it cooked.  It could take over an hour if you want it well done and it’s a thick piece of meat.  So the lamb should go on first, followed by the burgers.  The chicken skewers will take about 12 minutes to cook through, again it depends on the thickness of your cubes of meat.

Burgers can be held in warm oven for 10 minutes, covered in foil, until needed. The lamb will need to rest for 15-20 minutes before you carve it up.

The berry parcels will take 10-12 minutes over the heat.  Give them a little shake every now and then to make sure the sugar dissolves in the liquids.  To serve pop each parcel into a bowl open up and dollop with some crème fraiche.

My biggest tips are:

  1. Check and turn pieces regularly. Move things around the grill plate – it won’t be as hot near the edge, or up a level if you can change the height of the grill.
  2. If something sticks to the grill, don’t force it off, it will release itself when it’s cooked.
  3. Make sure everything is cooked properly before you serve, if you’re unsure then put it back on for a bit longer.






    Beach holiday prep

    So you’ve packed your beach bag, cooler, attention-grabbing towels and SPF suncream. Now all that’s left is to become beach-ready yourself! We asked Jill from Atalanta Fitness Training what top 5 quick things we should do before hitting the sunloungers…

    1. Start NOW! It’s no use waiting until just a month or so before your holiday – by then it will be too late! Your long term goal is your holiday, but set short and medium term goals – whether that be to lose weight or just to get fitter and more toned. That way you can track your progress and keep motivated.

    2. Find an exercise programme that fits in with your lifestyle – that way you are more likely to adhere to it. Find something that challenges you, but within sensible limits. Do cardiovascular exercise such as walking, running, cycling, swimming, plus weights to improve muscle tone.

    3. If you don’t like the gym or the studio, get outside! Getting fit and fabulous does not have to cost anything – you can walk, jog or run all the price of a pair of training shoes.

    4.  It is very important to have the right nutrition if you want a great looking body. And it is not necessarily all about calories. It is about getting a balanced diet of all the essential food groups – carbohydrates (yes! Carbs!!!), protein and good fats, vitamins, minerals and fluids. Always, ALWAYS, have a healthy breakfast! And when exercising, be sure to keep hydrated. Most personal trainers will be able to help you with nutrition.

    5. And finally: Sleep! Make sure you are getting 7-8 hours per night. You will look better, have more energy, your body will have had time to heal itself from any exercise taken, and you may be less likely to binge.

    Have a happy holiday!

    • Comments Off
    • Comments Off

    Sleep well

    Now that the nights are lighter and warmer, not only is it time to change to a lighter weight duvet and bring some freshness into the bedroom space, it’s also a time to make sure your sleep patterns are not affected by the seasonal change. Follow our tips for getting a great night’s sleep:

    1) Make sure your bed is inviting. Wash bed linen regularly – there’s nothing nicer than settling down in crisp sheets that smell fresh and lovely. Look for sheets made with a high thread count for a super luxurious feel. And consider investing in a new duvet set – there are lots of lovely pastels, florals and stripes around that have a happy, calming effect.

    2) Keep a sleep schedule. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time’s everyday so your body clock gets into the habit.

    3) Create a calm environment. Switch off any electronic appliances and close your windows if you can, to reduce noise levels. Make sure your curtains block out the morning light so you don’t wake up prematurely.

    4) Turn your mattress. This can help improve your sleeping position as well as prolong the life of the mattress as it distributes weight more evenly across the springs.

    5) Include pre-sleep preparation in your schedule. Take half an hour to relax, either with a wram (not too hot) bath, a soothing drink (try chamomile tea) or a good (but not too riveting) book.

    6) Try to do some exercise every day to ensure your body feels the need to sleep and recover itself

    7) Invest in some lightly scented candles, pillow spritzers and essential oil rollers to promote relaxation.

    Stylist on the spot!

    We’ve had lots of great feedback about our beautiful Spring photography, so I decided to do a Q&A with the shoot stylist Abigail to share with you…

    HomeSense: What attracted you to a career in interiors styling?

    Abigail: I studied fine art and have always painted pictures, and made drawings and objects so creating compositions for photographs just seemed to be an extension of that.

    HomeSense: How did you get into styling?

    Abigail: I was working in an art gallery when I decided I wanted to be a stylist. I wrote to loads of interiors magazines and did work experience for many of them and then assisted various stylists until I was ready to style my own shoots.

    HomeSense: What’s been your best styling job to date, and what’s been the worse?

    Abigail: I don’t really have a best or worst job. I love going to beautiful locations and working with inspiring people who design amazing things. But ultimately the most satisfying job is when you get the best shots, and some of my favourite shots have been taken when working in really awful conditions. We often work quite ridiculous hours and I have very unpleasant memories of shooting on a painfully cold English beach in December in the dark with no shelter and sea soaked feet but the pictures from this shoot are some of my favourite images that I have styled.

    HomeSense: Who do you admire most in the world and why?

    Abigail: From a design point of view, Piet Hein Eek. Beautiful designs with integrity.

    HomeSense: Describe your own home style

    Abigail: My own style is quite simple. Lots of texture, raw materials – wood and stone. I see so many new products in my work that I am generally attracted to vintage furniture and handmade pieces that have a bit more character and are unique.

    HomeSense: What’s your ultimate styling tip?

    Abigail: Interiors products should last; they shouldn’t be changed every season. Buy good quality, environmentally friendly products that you will love for a long time.

    HomeSense: Why do you like HomeSense?

    Abigail: It has really unusual, fantastically odd things that you couldn’t find anywhere else, alongside classic essentials. Where else could you put a big stone lion in your trolley then add a Le Creuset casserole pot and a glass owl! 

    HomeSense: Do you have a favourite HomeSense find?

    Abigail: I have a very small wooden stool with Gustavian style legs that is upholstered in rough faux fur, it’s an unusual combo but it works.

    Here are some lovely examples of Abigail’s work for HomeSense…