Christmas mantelpiece decorations

Christmas mantelpiece decorations

Whilst the living room Christmas tree offers opportunity to go overboard with baubles, tinsel and fairy lights, a living room mantelpiece is often reserved for a more tasteful selection of festive touches. If you’re looking for items that are more tasteful than tacky, browse our guide to furnishing your mantel with style this December.


Not a decoration solely utilised at Christmas, flowers are often seen as an addition to a home throughout the year. Selectively choose a bunch of white roses to add a feel of elegant Christmas to your room. The festive white colour decorates your room subtly and provides a classy style to the mantelpiece. Not as crass as some festive novelty flowers available at florists over the period, make this choice if you want to add an air of the Christmas season, without being overly brash.


Another option that is not glaringly over the top, yet  possesses a definite touch of Christmas is a well selected candle and stand, which imparts a gentle nudge to get into the Christmas spirit, without being overly loud. Some festive decorations incorporate fake candles and flames, which looks incredibly tacky, so invest wisely this December and add a touch of elegance to your mantelpiece. Select your holders astutely and they can be utilised as an accessory all the year round. Seasonal fragranced candles will also add a Christmas ambiance to both your living room, and your home.


Another slightly floral option, the garland is associated with Christmas whilst not being over the top when it comes to decoration. Whilst some can look cheap, tacky and nasty, the higher end of the market provides a stylish mantel decoration. Try to opt for a garland with a tasteful decoration style, as they last thing you want to be doing is hanging ghastly baubles all over your new decoration to spruce it up.

Tasteful decoration

Tread with caution when choosing completely Christmas targeted decorations, as some can look tasteless. To most people, making sure a room feels overly festive is number one priority through the month of December, so decorations such as this Villeroy & Boch ornament would take pride of place on a stylish mantel. It’s completely fairytale Christmas in its nature, but works well due to the tastefulness of the decoration. At 22cm in height, use this as a centrepiece on your mantel, and add smaller contributory accessories as you see fit.


Try this collection of sparkling reindeer if petite decorations are more to your taste. Another option that utilises light Christmas colours, these decorations don’t hog your space, but do enough to catch the eye of any house guests. Not garishly over the top, and cheap enough to keep your budget intact, these two reindeer can be mixed and matched with other decorations to sparkle up your living room.

Image used under creative commons courtesy of Justin Kern.

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Filling your empty walls without blowing all of your cash
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Filling your empty walls without blowing all of your cash

Empty walls can make your whole room feel undecorated. Adding art or impressive photography not only fills up those bare walls, but provides a feel of individuality and personal style to your room. Pick the right items and you’ll have your guests impressed with your style. Even on a budget, great wall-filling art, photography or mirrors are available, you just have to know where to look. Here are some useful tips:

  1. Photography
    Photographs are a great way of showcasing the worlds wonders from the comfort of your own home. From panoramic shots of places you’ve visited, cities you’d love to visit or just personal photographs that capture family memories, photography adds individual taste to a room. If world famous names such as Peter Lik are out of your price range, other options are available. Any holiday snaps taken with a good spec camera should be good enough to be blown up to a good size, with online stores offering glossy, matte and canvas printing options. With stylish framing and placing it in the right spot on the wall, you’re all set to show off your photography skills to guests at your house warming party.
  2. Screen print artwork
    Decorating your home with posters is no longer just for students. With screen print posters becoming more and more popular, you can show off your favourite films on your living room wall. Mondo, an online screen print poster company provides a platform for both budding and established graphic designers to sell their commissioned work. Classic and upcoming film posters are sold with an online ‘drop’ where a limited number of pieces are put on sale for roughly £30 each (with an additional fee for shipping from America to the UK), but you have to be quick to grab yourself one, as their ever growing fan base means you won’t stand a chance if you’re a couple of minutes late. Add a nice frame to fit in with your rooms’ decoration and you’ll be onto a real winner.
  3. Mirrors
    Not all wall fillers need to be pieces of art, a nice mirror can often be used to add a new depth to a room. Don’t settle for something cheap and nasty as you need to remember your living room is for entertaining when you have guests. A nice classy, reasonably sized mirror shouldn’t blow the bank and can easily be used to break up large chunks of empty wall space. While it might not be as eye-catching as a photo or piece of artwork, your new mirror is a subtle way to get subtly rid of the empty feel.

If filling your walls isn’t an issue, and you’d rather just fill your empty living room, take a peek over at our guide to filling your living room on a budget!

Photo Credit: anti-t-kom via Compfight cc

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Minimalist home: Our easy guide
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Minimalist home: Our easy guide

You’ve moved into your new home and now realise you have far too many belongings for your new rooms. You don’t want to fill up your house with rubbish, but you need to make sure your proudest possessions get the placement they deserve when you’re showing off your new place to friends. Keep your home minimalist using our easy guide.

Take it one room at a time
If you’ve unloaded all of your furniture, decorations and accessories into your house, and now realise you want to adopt a more minimalist feel, don’t try and rush the process. Clearing out a huge amount of possessions at once would be tough, and you might get carried away and regret it later. Take things one room at a time, and see if the minimalist feel within the room feels right to you before making any rash decisions.

Furniture is the key

Your furniture is the focal point of any room. In the living room, you have your sofa, in the dining room you have your dining table, your bedroom centres around your bed. Making sure that the key piece of furniture suits the room and is in the right spot is vital to creating a minimalist room. You don’t want a room to feel empty, you need it to feel as though it has been decorated sparingly in an effective style. Making sure that your key item of furniture is well placed and suited to the room is importing in ensuring your room doesn’t feel sparse.

Essential items

It might seem like a tough decision on what to keep and what to store away, but you’ll know if an item is truly essential to you and the feel of your room. When trying to generate a minimalist feel, your best option is to be overly minimal to begin with, and further down the line, if you feel extra decorative pieces are needed, add them as and when you feel is necessary.

Clear floors

Floor space is a crucial aspect of creating a minimalist feel. You need to make sure all flooring areas are free from clutter, as having uncluttered surfaces, but messy and untidy floor spaces just makes the room feel like you’ve failed to tidy up.


You don’t want to have a minimalist room with cluttered and untidy walls. Obviously, you need some decorations within your home as you don’t want it to feel overly empty and uninhabited, so a few pieces of artwork or wall features can add a style of class and  decoration. If you’re at a loose end as to how you’re best filling your empty wall space, check out our article on some ideas for wall fixtures. (link to other article)

If you’re interested in a minimalist decor in your home, or have experience of clearing out your rooms in a new home, make sure you let us know how it went on in the comments section. 

Images used under creative commons courtesy of iBSSR.

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Hallway Touches
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Hallway Touches

When entering your house, the hallway is often the first area any visitors will see. You don’t need to spend a fortune on furniture, as a hall is often only used as a walk through, however your guests will immediately build up an idea of your taste based on the care and attention you’ve given to making that initial view of your house pleasant. With that in mind, we’ve provided a few touches you need to make your hallway a pleasant thoroughfare.

Feature wall

If your hallway seems like a monotonous walk, with too much empty wall space, why not get a feature wall to add a focal point to the area? Popular options for feature walls include utilising brick slips to give a natural building feel, to creating a montage of personal and meaningful photographs positioned together. If this all seems too much effort, the simple option is to give your feature wall a lick of paint in a different colour. It breaks up the room and looks great when done with the right colours.


We aren’t recommending anything expensive, because there’s no need for excessive and overpriced artwork to make your room look more homely. Having an eye-catching photo, or picture however, just helps to break up empty wall space. If you have a particularly long hallway, then using wall hanging art is a great tactic to add personal style to your room. Check out specialist artwork retailers online, or you can pick up cityscapes and large works of popular world destinations on your high street.

Don’t be bland

If you keep the whole room bland, it will act simply as a through route from one area of your house to the next. It might be easy to opt for neutral colours and floors, but it’s such a waste of a room. If you want to opt for neutral walls, then choose a carpet or flooring that will give some impact to the room. Make sure whatever flooring you lay is hard-wearing, as hallways are often high traffic areas.

Rug on wood

If your hallway flooring isn’t carpet, then  the area could benefit from a carefully selected rug to fill the room opening. Entering a home onto cold tiling, or wooden flooring can provide a somewhat empty feel to the room. Opt for a fashionable rug to add a personal style and provide a welcoming feel to visitors. Positioned correctly, your new addition will work well at breaking up floor space, if your hallway seems never ending in length.

Welcoming accessories

A nice vase, some flowers and a few well chosen accessories can quickly turn a house into a home. With a hallway, you aren’t going to be relaxing and spending your evenings in the room, so you don’t need to go overboard, but just to provide a welcoming feel to the room, a few well placed, easily picked up items can make a world of difference.  As it can be the first room you meet upon entering the house, why not provide storage options for footwear, coats and other pieces of outdoor wear? A nice wooden coat rack can be both practical and attractive.

Images used under creative commons courtesy of gaspi *yg.

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How to create the ultimate family bathroom
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How to create the ultimate family bathroom

Bathrooms aren’t the most stylish of rooms, and often don’t showcase the greatest of personal style when it comes to decoration. Everyone loves to accessorise when it comes to a living area, but for many, the bathroom is a place in which you only require the essentials. If you’ve got a young family, or are expecting your family to grow in the not too distant future, we have some top tips on how to  make your bathroom area more child friendly, to make those bath times an enjoyable experience, rather than a chore.


This tip can generally be applied to any bathroom, which are very rarely seen decorated in dark and gloomy shades. Especially with children, it is even more important to give a light and airy feel to the room. Kids love brightness and if you’re looking to make the room inviting enough to make bath-time an easy, regular occurrence and not a chore, make sure that you get the colours right. No-one would enjoy an hour in the bath surrounded by dark brown walls, never mind a child – make the room fun.

Kid it up

Juggling a grown-up room with making it appealing to kids is tough. You don’t want to decorate the room in a juvenile way, as then the room is a no-go should you have visitors around. You want to provide the sophisticated feel of the rest of your house, whilst also utilising elements that your kids will love. Don’t line the walls with Thomas the Tank Engine, as a year or so down the line, even your kids will be tired of it, and you’ll be forced to redecorate. Decorate the room like any other in your home, in an adult way, but make sure you add kid’s additions like accessories that are easily removable when the time is right. Bath toys are always a favourite, so stock up on rubber ducks and frogs for when bath time rolls around.

Keep is safe

Flooring is vital for safety in the bathroom. Modern day wet rooms are often decked out with floor tiles, which is the more convenient option, as a carpeted floor will eventually lead to a smell of dampness. The danger with tiling however, is that the floor can become extremely slippery when wet. With youngsters not being the most sure footed, make sure you have appropriate slip proof rugs in areas prone to moisture, such as near a shower. Also, slip proof mats near the sink will stop any potential accidents.


Adding a few small touches through nifty kids’ accessories can make your children feel right at home. If the sink is still a bit high, let them choose their own step stool to make the room more accessible to them. Little touches, like individual toothbrush holders are cheap, can be fitted where necessary and removed when the time is right. They don’t add too much of a juvenile feel to your nicely decorated new bathroom either, which is always a bonus.


Even though your children will need access to some of the cupboard contents in your bathroom, a lot of personal grooming tools will need to be kept well clear of wondering hands. If you have self standing drawers that are easy to access from low heights, fill them with soaps, toothbrushes and other items that aren’t dangerous. Make sure that razors, clippers, scissors waxes and any other items are well out of harm’s way though. Adding a fitted wall cupboard to your room plan will make sure it looks good in place, and is convenient for your storage needs.

Images used under creative commons courtesy of Rachel Carter.

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How to update your kitchen on a budget
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How to update your kitchen on a budget

We all dream about installing brand new kitchen fittings complete with state-of-the-art appliances, and designer fabrics; but the reality is that after purchasing your first home a total room revamp is often far too costly.  However First Home News has come to the rescue by providing you with our top tips to updating your kitchen on a budget.


You don’t have to fit a new range of cabinets to make the most of your kitchen. The easiest way to give your kitchen a new lease of life is to sand down wooden cabinets and paint them in a different colour. By doing this, you can totally transform the aura of a room. If the worktops are the main issue, you can replace only the worktops without a complete new range of cabinets. IKEA stocks some very stylish and pocket-friendly ideas on its website.


Update your accessories!  You may not think it, but simply by adding new tea towels, crockery and ornaments, the whole colour scheme of a room can be changed and look rejuvenated.  We love Cath Kidson inspired floral prints and bright colours, especially during the winter season to brighten up those dreary days.


If you’re in need of new appliances, hold out on paying over the odds for brand new state-of-the-art machines. Instead, wait until the seasonal sales begin, as some retailers knock hundreds of pounds of various styles. If you can’t wait that long, just log onto Kelkoo or Pricerunner to source the cheapest places to buy your appliances. Surprisingly, it’s always worth negotiating with suppliers – they’re experiencing the recession too!


Re-decorating on a small scale always works extremely well: replacing the curtains or blinds in the kitchen can provide you with a whole new style and colour scheme to work with throughout the room. You could even introduce a feature wall painted in a statement colour to tie in with new furnishings. Easier still, by re-arranging the layout of the kitchen, you can completely change the appearance and atmosphere of a room.

What do you think? Is updating your kitchen better than fitting a completely new one?

Images used under creative commons courtesy of hammocks & high tea.

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Four Great Ways to Utilise your Spare Room

It’s the typical dilemma with a spare room – it has the potential to be anything you want, from giving you more room for storage to a place for visitors to stay, but you still haven’t had chance to make the most of it. If you’re adamant you want to make the most of your space, but aren’t convinced what you transform the room into, check out these options.

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If you’re business day doesn’t end at 5pm and you need a quiet haven to concentrate on evenings or weekends, then you need to transform that spare room into your home office. You don’t need the room to be huge to make an office workable, you just need to utilise what you have at your disposal. Head to IKEA for a flat pack desk, make sure you’re set up within wireless range of your internet, or sort out a phone line if not. Nowadays, you’ll probably be able to just use your mobile for calls, but if you need to have a landline, be sure to get that sorted too. In terms of decorating, you’re probably best to go with light and simple colours – anything too dark and your room will seem to shrink, and the last place you’ll be wanting to work is a claustrophobic little cupboard. Stay simple with the decor, and you shouldn’t have any problem keeping your concentration.

Spare bedroom

Definitely the safe option when it comes to spare room ideas, but having an extra room always comes in handy. Whether it be to prepare for a growing family in the future, or to put up friends and family when visiting, sticking a bed and wardrobe in there is definitely something to consider. If you have relatives from elsewhere in the country, or you’ve relocated to an area away from your family, having that spare room will help improve the chance of people visiting for longer periods, such as weekends. Check out Hammonds for bedroom furniture that innovatively saves space – on the off chance your room is on the small side.

Games room

If you’ve got no practical need for the room, take the fun option and embrace your inner teenager. A games room will might not be absolutely essential to running your home, but it gives you the perfect spot to let your hair down and kill a few hours. The size of your room will play a large factor in how you fill your room, with something like a snooker table or pool table maybe being too big, but you can always opt for table football or table tennis if you’d rather. Get yourself a Bose sound dock or put a TV on the wall, and you’ll be able to visit your games room for hours of entertainment. If you have kids, or are expecting to soon expand your family, why not give the games room a kids feel. For those rainy weekends at home, it’d be a godsend to have a place for them to enjoy, rather than them driving you up the wall.

Music room 

If you, or any family member enjoys a passion for playing instruments, then this option might be the one for you. Having a room specifically for musical enjoyment allows you a space to really work on you’re playing, be it a piano, the drums or a guitar. It’ll help out with the harmony of the house, as there should be no arguments about blasting out music in the same room as people trying to watch TV. Just make sure the room isn’t right next to your bedroom – the last thing you want is an early morning wake up call from your kid on his guitar.

Images used under creative commons courtesy of Mackenzie Kosut.

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To Wallpaper or Not to Wallpaper?
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To Wallpaper or Not to Wallpaper?

The colour or pattern of the walls in your home may not seem like a huge decision, but each tone and style adds a whole new feel to a room. From a dark, enclosed room to a light, airy and spacious one, how you decorate your walls is all down to personal preference. Obviously the final decision on how you want a room to look is down to your own style, but to guide you along, we’re offering the ultimate guide to wallpaper versus paint.

To Wallpaper…

Wallpaper is extremely durable, which can be an important asset in your new home. The last thing you want to be doing after six months is having to retouch paint up after delivery men chip and scuff it. Durability is vital if you have kids, as we all know the battering your walls will be taking from toys in high traffic areas, so if you need it be sure to opt for a paper you can clean, so you can get rid of any dirt or marks. Choose your ideal wallpaper from a huge range of high street home improvement stores like Laura Ashley and The Range.

Generally speaking, wallpaper can be more expensive than a quick paint job. Obviously, as with all things prices can differ greatly depending on quality and type, but on average you’ll have to pay that little bit more to deck out your room in a good wallpaper. Even with the most sturdy and durable of choices, damage can still be done to paper which leaves you with the hassle of redecorating. It simply isn’t as easy as whipping out your paint brush and covering over the marks. Removing wallpaper can be a chore too when you decide the time is right to redecorate, and you’ll need to spend a number of hours scraping the walls clean. If you’re hoping to leave your walls for a few years without needing maintenance, wallpaper may not be for you, as from time to time, moisture can begin to weaken the wallpaper adhesive and leave corners curling up and looking untidy.

To Paint…


Painting is generally the easier option. All you need is to get you started is a tin of Dulux from your local B&Q or Wickes. Obviously, if the walls had previously been papered, you have a real chore of a task removing it all, and may even need to get the walls skimmed before you begin – but in general, painted walls are easier to maintain. Any scuff marks and dirt can be wiped off, but even if they’re stubborn it shouldn’t be anything a quick lick of paint can’t handle. Repainting to change your style can be done more frequently, and should only take you at most, a day to do.


We might have said earlier that quick touches up are a pro of painting, however the real issues begin when you need to do it so often that you run out of paint. When this happens, it can be a real effort to match colours, and becomes expensive if you need to buy new paint that blends in perfectly with your wall colour. If this is the case, you may be better off repainting completely than just touching up again.

Do you see yourself as an interior design guru? Leave us some of your tips and advice below.

Images used under creative commons courtesy of Jen B.

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