Wednesday, 20 June 2018

4 ways to take a room from bland and boring to bold and beautiful

Because life's too short to be bland and boring! True story: I moved into the blandest of houses with magnolia walls which I first chatted about here. This particular shade of magnolia looked like it was once white but had aged over time. It just looked tired. Getting rid of the magnolia walls is still a work in progress. So far two rooms have been re-painted rejuvenated. How you ask? Well, read on to find out! Today I bring to you... my guide for how to take a room from drab to fab.

CONSIDER A WALL MURAL

If faced with a rather large and intimidating wall which you dread painting or wallpapering because quite frankly, it would take forever - how about a wall mural? Usually fitted as a few larger panels making it much quicker to fit than your typical rolls of wallpaper, and a lot quicker than spending days painting. You can hang prints and patterns like you would with a wallpaper, except murals allow you to go a bit bolder as you can essentially have large scale photography on your walls. So if you like galaxy print, marble, forests or sunsets, this may be a good option for you.

I'm considering a mural for the office (a tiny little box room which needs a bold wall to perk it up a bit!). Forests have a special place in my heart (I got engaged at a French chateau with the most incredible woodland) so a woodland mural would be fitting. I have been searching the web for the perfect forest mural and my favourites I have found so far have been from a site called Wallsauce. Don't believe me? I'll show you.


How inspired would you feel working with a view like that right in front of you??! Admittedly I do also really like this one also from their forest mural range. However a bookcase mural like the one below could work well in a study or home office too.


If like me you love all things marble, then you may like some of these incredible marble wall designs. I prefer the softer designs which have a white background and either black or grey veins of marble (I could really imagine them in my kitchen or in the entrance hall behind a mirrored console table!). And how amazing would this galaxy mural be in a bedroom?


GET THE PAINT BRUSHES OUT

If you've got the patience for it, one of the easiest ways to transform a room is with a lick of paint. One of my proudest before and afters so far has been transforming the magnolia lounge into a dark inky blue heaven. Always colour swatch paint samples and put them up on the wall for a week or so to see how they appear in different lights. As much as I love Stiffkey Blue and Hague Blue by Farrow & Ball, I learnt from my swatches that they wouldn't have suited that particular room. Instead I was drawn to Teal Tension by Dulux which could easily be one of those two F&B paints in low light.


As well as colour, you need to consider what kind of finish you are going for. Gloss gives a shinier look and allows light to bounce around the room, whereas matt does what it says on the tin (quite literally!). Farrow & Ball has a good reputation in that it's supposedly meant to be a creamier paint which only requires the one coat. However the Dulux paint I used is from their Once range which is the same concept, but at a fraction of the price - great for a decorating novice like myself!

The transformation from magnolia to bold and beautiful was amazing.


I love how it's a darker shade in the evenings, creating a cocoon effect. To be honest, you wouldn't even know these walls are teal until the sunlight hits it and transforms it into the loveliest shade of blue.


Next on the agenda: the magnolia walls in the bedroom

I found the perfect grey paint which is now up on the bedroom walls, but just requires the finishing touches i.e the skirting boards, windows etc. However recent nerve damage to my back and neck means the project is on temporary hiatus until I can get full movement back in my arms again!

RESEARCH STATEMENT WALLPAPERS

With a statement wallpaper there are two roads you can go down 1) wallpaper the whole room or 2) just paper a single wall. Only covering the one wall doesn't necessarily mean less impact. Why not paint the remaining walls a contrasting colour? Or alternatively pair a statement metallic wallpaper with muted colours on the other walls.

The latter being my latest project. I had been obsessing about admiring the below wallpaper for ages and then one day I went in-store - for something entirely different - and found a small amount of said paper in the clearance section (just enough to paper the main wall in my bedroom... it was fate!). The silver trees catch the light and help bounce light around the room and as luck may have it, the grey we managed to colour match to City Break by Crown. Now all I need is for my neck and back to clear up so I can get this up on the wall!


CONSIDER AN EXPOSED BRICK WALL

If you like the New York loft feel, how about an exposed brick wall? One way of achieving this is by chipping away at the plaster already on the wall. But this can be time consuming and risky (after all, you don't know what state the wall is in underneath). Alternatively there are such things as brick tiles and brick slips which are thinner versions of brick to give the same sort of allusion, and brick effect wallpaper and murals to get a similar look for less. Some examples of brick murals here for example. These are a lot more authentic looking these days and look a lot less 2D, so are worth bearing in mind!

What are your favourite ways of transforming your home?

* Post written in collaboration with Wallsauce but as ever, all words and opinions are my own. 
Wallsauce have some amazing wall murals so do be sure to look them up!

Monday, 11 June 2018

Why you can't beat a good ol' cup of tea and some interesting new flavours of tea you really need to try!

Tea makes everything better. I'm not sure how, but it just does. You can have the busiest of days and you get back and that first sip of tea is like the first sip of water after being stuck out in the desert for a few days (or so I imagine). That first sip of tea you drink with a sense of urgency and the relief that washes over you is like a tonic to the soul.

Whilst I don't drink tea in the traditional and proper British sense (standard tea bag and milk), I do appreciate a herbal tea. I mostly drink green tea, although lately I've branched out into chamomile, turmeric and other teas. I have an Alice in Wonderland themed tea pot which I use for tea bags, or if I'm feeling a bit fancy, I use loose leaf tea and my glass teapot.


I drink a lot of green tea and I do find there is a smokier, greater depth of flavour when I use loose leaf tea instead of a tea bag. Loose leaf sounds like a faff, but in actual fact, it couldn't be any simpler.

STEPS TO THE PERFECT CUP OF LOOSE LEAF TEA
  1. Choose your sachet of tea
  2. Spoon the amount directed on the sachet into the filter
  3. Add water
  4. Leave for the recommended time
  5. Enjoy!
Adagio Teas very kindly sent me a selection of loose leaf teas to try which as you may have seen on my Instagram stories, came in a very generously sized box. I actually have a brand spanking new glass tea pot, glass mug and selection of teas to give away to one lucky reader - so if you want to be in with a chance of winning, read on!  But first... some insights on a few of the teas so you can see which takes your fancy should you be the lucky winner!

JASMINE PHOENIX PEARLS

The first tea I tried was the Jasmine Phoenix Pearls from their green tea range but had one of my favourites - jasmine -  incorporated. The Adagio Tea packets have a press seal which is a nice touch as it keeps everything nice and fresh until next time. Each sachet has directions for steeping and how much of the sachet to use. I found that this was generally 2 minutes or so for the green teas and a longer time like 8-10 minutes for some of the fruity tea varieties.


I opened up the sachet to find not traditional tea leaves, but these dried pellets. 
Which even a certain little lady was intrigued by.


My tea set came with paper filters but for larger 'pearls' like these, it was pretty safe to use just the main metal filter that came with the teapot. Once added, I filled with jasmine phoenix pearls (the sachet suggested I use 1 heaped teaspoon per cup and 2-3 mins steeping time).

The first thing that hit me was the smell. This was beautifully floral, and almost smoky at times. Due to the filter, this poured out without sediment and was a light amber sort of colour, like apple juice.


This didn't taste like green tea as you know it (the jasmine flavour was stronger and was what I could mainly taste), but it was instantly relaxing. This has been perfect coming home to after work. And I always bring this one out on a dark and murky day. Case in point of how dark and murky it's been lately.


I've been working through the rest of the teas and further recommendations include the following:

CALYPSO GREEN

Calypso Green was another one from the green tea range, but was green tea with a difference! This was pretty tropical smelling right from the get go and contained big pieces of dried fruit mixed in with the loose leaf green tea. This was fruity tasting (as you'd expect) but subtly done, so it wasn't too strong. It made a nice change to a bog standard green tea.


FRUIT MEDLEY

This one was very sweet smelling with a strong scent of cherries. If I had to pin it down, I'd say it smelt like gummy sweets and cherry chapstick (so quite an unusual smelling tea!) The mix however contained lots of fruit pieces and it was nice having these in there as opposed to being full of artificial flavourings.


This Fruit Medley tea from the herbal teas range poured out as a darker liquid, and luckily didn't taste like cherry chapstick! In fact I could taste more fruits than just cherry (a bonus). The tea itself wasn't too strong and I happily discovered it didn't taste as sweet as it smelt.

SAMURAI MATE

Another tea from the herbal teas range. This tea caught my attention right from the offset with its interesting ingredients like almonds, cinnamon bark and aniseed. I assumed this was called Samurai Mate because when you first smell it, you are like MATE because the smell is quite strong (heavily of almonds / marzipan). I don't like marzipan so I was initially a little nervous about this one.


Fortunately the almond taste wasn't strong once steeped and I was relived to discover it didn't taste like marzipan. I could really taste the cinnamon part of the mix (which was the part I wanted to taste) and it was a lovely warming drink for a cold and rainy day.

GENMAI CHA

My favourite! The greenest of the green teas when poured. The smell when you open the Genmai Cha sachet is INCREDIBLE. I couldn't pinpoint what the smell actually was, but it reminded me of some of my favourite ingredients to cook with like soy, miso and sesame. The sachet mix was really interesting looking too. Some of the pieces were rice like and there were also some larger white pieces which almost looked like popcorn. Case in point...


And you know what? It tasted exactly how it smelt and had a great depth of flavour. This one I could really imagine having with a meal - like my favourite sesame salmon dish. If you like green tea, then you need to give this one a try!

LEMON MERINGUE

It was incredible how much this green tea smelt like lemon meringue - it actually smelt like a dessert! Once brewed / steeped, the citrus flavour was subtle. I'd personally prefer for the lemon flavour to be a little stronger - but if you love lemon based desserts / meringue, then you'll like this lemon meringue tea!


PINA COLADA

With the Pina Colada tea from the Adagio herbal tea range, I was transported to the Caribbean. There were generous big pieces of fruit in the mix and initially it smelt very coconutty (is 'coconutty' even a word??!)


I couldn't smell the pineapple initially, but this flavour developed when the tea had had some time to steep. The longer I left the tea, the stronger the fruit flavour became. This tea gave me incredible wanderlust and rather than being stuck inside on a wet day, I felt like I was in sunny paradise.

CITRUS MINT GREEN

I didn't smell a whole lot of citrus in the Citrus Mint Green tea initially, but I did smell the mint (peppermint). The mix was quite straw-like in appearance which I assumed were the green tea leaves (but later I learnt this was lemon grass).


After 2-3 minutes of steeping, I could taste citrus in the tea which I was really happy about, however this was quite subtle and I would have liked a stronger lemon flavour. Mint is one of my least favourite types of herbal tea, but because this had the citrus element, it was ideal for me.

PEACH BELLINI

This peach bellini tea from Adagio's herbal tea range had a recommended 8-10 minutes steeping time and this was one of the best smelling teas I tried (besides the Genmai Cha of course!). The sachet contained apple pieces, strawberries, rose petals, mango pieces, pineapple pieces and apricots amongst other things.


This tea poured out fairly clear and reminded me of the peach sirop I used to buy from the supermarche when I used to live in France. Admittedly the Peach Belllini tea doesn't taste as strong as it smells, but that's ok, as I don't like anything too sweet in the evenings before I go to bed.


There are plenty more teas in the Adagio Tea range (see the full range here) which I'm still working my way through - but hopefully the above gives you a little taster of some interesting and alternative teas! My evening routine lately has consisted of coming home, changing into my new Cookie Monster PJs (because I'm quite partial to a cookie. Or five), binge watching Stranger Things (have you tried it yet? I'm addicted!) and finishing up the evening by sampling a new tea.


Not all of the teas are caffeinated (go check out their herbal tea range here), but fun fact: they are vegan and gluten free (any additional flavourings come from essential oils and the traditional teas use pure leaves).

I'll tell you what though: I have been really impressed by how lightweight the tea pot and mug are, as being glass, I imagined these would be heavier. The tea pot lid can get a little hot, so if you have a glass tea set, do take care when pouring your tea!


I try a new tea every evening and what I love most is the element of surprise you get when you open a new sachet. Rather than just a green pile of tea leaves, it's usually an assortment of bright colours and different shapes, sizes and textures. It's also intriguing to see what kind of colour it produces and of course, the aroma. I'm not usually a black tea drinker, but I'm looking forward to giving these amazing sounding teas a go! Does the chocolate tea actually taste like chocolate? Watch this space!


AND FINALLY... A GIVEAWAY!

Adagio Teas have very kindly offered one of my readers a glass tea pot, glass mug and selection of teas of your choosing. To enter, keep an eye out on my Twitter and my Instagram where I will be posting about the giveaway very shortly. Until then, start thinking about what teas you'd like if you won (you can view Adagio's full range of teas here).

Which tea do you most like the sound of? I'd love to know!

* Tea set and teas very kindly provided by Adagio Teas for review purposes, but as ever, all opinions are my own. I also have another set for one lucky reader (further details to follow!). 

What sets Adagio apart from the rest is that their hand-picked teas are sourced from origin, and they work directly with the farmers who produce them in their native countries. Coming straight from the source means that they are brimming with far more nutrients, they are full leaf (unlike the stuff you see in supermarket teabags!) with no added sugar and all-natural flavours.    

Sunday, 27 May 2018

12 summer holiday essentials perfect for your next holiday

I'm not going to lie, I have the biggest case of wanderlust right now. The last travel piece I wrote was on Gran Canaria here -and that combined with a Madeira Tourism event I attended last week has only intensified my desire to hop on a plane. But where should I go and write about next? (suggestions in the comments below please!)

One of the things I enjoy most about going abroad is planning my holiday wardrobe and how you can wear things you may not be able to back home. For instance, I wouldn't exactly go for lunch in London dressed in just a bikini. When I'm away, I'm a lot more care free about about how short my dress is, needing a bra, or how deep a plunge my swimsuit or dresses have. And you know what? It's liberating.

One of my go to places for stocking up on summer essentials is Forever 21. It's an affordable way of doing so (as you'll see from the prices I've quoted below) with some great fashion forward pieces. And just so you know, this feature is in no way sponsored by or in collaboration with Forever 21. I just wanted to share some of my favourite pieces I've seen on the site lately and also a discount code I found recently on Mail Online which offers 30% off any 5 items or more purchased from the site, rendering already affordable prices, even more affordable. Read on for the discount code and for my top summer picks

Foliage print maxi dress £35 £24.50
Satin floral maxi dress £52 £36.40
Seaform striped playsuit £15 £10.50

Whenever I travel to a warm destination, I always like to pack a few maxi dresses. They are great for the evenings when the temperatures start to drop and I love wearing something a bit dressier for dinner. I fell in love with this satin floral maxi dress with its plunge front, open back and high cut slit. Admittedly it's a little on the pricier side for Forever 21, however with the 30% discount code, this was more my sort of price. The foliage print maxi dress is a little more day time I feel, and something I could visualise wearing back home too. 

Another one of my summer holiday essentials is a playsuit. How beautiful is the blue off the shoulder playsuit? It comes in other colours too (red, and black & white), but I was drawn to the brilliantly named "seafoam" version (as pictured). And again with the stripes (obsessed much?!), I adore this red and white striped pool cover up. Perfect for coming out of the pool and heading to the bar for a much needed cold drink.

Red bustier swimsuit £26 £18.20
Grey striped cover up £35 £24.50
Red & white striped bikini £28 £19.60

Again with the red and white stripes (in fairness I wear my red and white striped breton top all the time!). In true Where's Wally / Where's Waldo style, no one would lose you on the beach in this red and white striped bikini. Further to the red and white pool cover-up (above), I was drawn to another striped cover up, but this time in the form of a longer grey and white one. Because grey. And whenever I travel I like to take a mixture of bikinis and all-in-one swimsuits with me so I'm ready for any occasion. I love the colour mint so this mint coloured swimsuit really spoke to me (plus mint looks incredible with a tan!). And how different is this structured red bustier swimsuit? It also comes in nude, but I personally love the red. It's a bit Baywatch, but with a difference.

Brown longline cardigan £22 £15.40
Planet graphic tee £10 £7
Red polka dot dress £18 £12.60
Red shirt dress £20 £14

I love the back of this red polka dot dress. It's a good day trip dress and something I'd happily wear back home post-holiday too. And the same goes for this red shirt dress. I adore a shirt dress (something that has been long imprinted in me since finding this berry shirt dress). And how amazing does the brown cover up look over a simple white tee and denim shorts? It adds a little something extra don't you think? And everyone who wants to visit every inch of this planet needs this cute "love your planet" tee in their lives. When I pack for a trip I always make sure I have some round neck tees and sensible shoes as I love going for hikes and long walks. Even if you don't use the 30% discount code, £10 for a t-shirt is not bad going!

What are your favourite items?

I ordered a few of the above as well as a pair of sunglasses (down from £4.40 to a mere £3.15!), but these sunglasses have now sold out and I can't link to them sadly. If you wish to make use of the discount code yourself, order 5 items or more from the Forever 21 site by 31st May and apply GSG5430 at checkout for 30% off (you're welcome!).

Friday, 18 May 2018

The no nonsense guide of how to have the perfect picnic


FREEZE YOUR DRINKS

On a really hot day, the freezer comes into its own. It doesn't matter whether your beverages are alcohol based or alcohol free, pop your drink of choice into the freezer pre-departure. It'll melt gradually en route to your picnic spot, whilst at the same time keeping the rest of your food chilled. I love a glass of rosé on a hot summer's day and I find that Mateus always really hits the spot.


This Portuguese wine is not sickly sweet (unlike some other rosés I've tried) and I find the taste very similar to that of a light red wine. The reason for this could be through the different way in which they make this particular rosé (they use similar techniques to those used in white wine making, but by prolonging contact between the must and skins, it acquires its distinct pink colour). I love how unique and instantly recognizable the bottle is when you spot it in the supermarket. Did you know that its unusual shape is inspired by the flasks used by soldiers in World War 1? So if you are more of a red wine drinker and aren't usually into rosé, Mateus could be the one for you!


MAKE IT WORK

We'd all love to have a picnic on a beautifully sunny day, but sadly the sun is a rather shy little scamp. If it rains or is cold outside, make it work. For the latter, pack soup and hot drinks into a thermos. If it rains and the ground is all soggy, sitting on the grass is not the one. Recent rainfall crushed my notion of a romantic picnic sitting on a picnic blanket on the grass. So instead we relocated the party to my dining table and chairs set (a wedding gift from my sisters). Not so much a picnic in the traditional sense... but still alfresco dining. It still counts, right?


DON'T BE FANCY

I could have easily filled this feature with affiliate links on the perfect picnic accessories. However I am not going to coax you into buying a £70 picnic basket because it's romantic and Instagram pretty. The reality is that as lovely as wicker baskets are, they just aren't practical.

Ok, let me elaborate. They are practical in the sense that they are a storage facility and can hold your crockery and nibbles rather than you having to resort to using plastic bags (I try to avoid these where possible). However have you ever tried going out out on a long walk, scoping out the perfect picnic spot with a wicker basket handle on your wrist?  It pinches. It leaves a rather fetching cross stitch pattern on your skin. It's fine to carry initially. You feel all whimsical like Red Riding Hood going into the woods to deliver whatever it was to her Grandma. But if you have a fair distance to go (which FYI is where the best picnic spots are), or if you are going to be walking around all day with said basket, don't do this to yourself. I can't justify spending all that money on something that would quite honestly be a bit of a faff to carry around.

If you are venturing further afield, how about a cool bag? Considerately cheaper, easier to carry, and usually insulated well for hot or cold foods (something wicker baskets are less good for). They may not be as aesthetically pleasing as the traditional picnic basket, but nowadays there are some lovely designs out there. My point being: don't feel the need to go out and buy ALL THE PRETTY THINGS for a picnic. Food is an inevitable cost (whether you buy it or make things yourself), but don't feel you have to splash out on a fancy blanket, basket and crockery for the 'gram. Screw Instagram.

CONSIDER YOUR MENU

Picnics are all about the finger food. Avoid gigantic things (oh er), crumbly things or messy things. Think bite-sized. If you're organised (i.e. not me), making as much of it as possible yourself will help save on costs. In hotter weather I gravitate towards nibbles and dips. Hummus is one of my favourite things. I picked up x3 varieties (standard hummus, red pepper and lemon & coriander) and served with sliced peppers, cucumber and carrot sticks. And since having a wine picnic without bread and cheese would be criminal, I also picked up some rosemary focaccia and mozzarella. I love Mediterranean flavours so paired the mozzarella with olives and also some cured meats like chorizo and prosciutto - the latter of which goes beautifully with a rosé like Mateus.


STAY COOL

Pretty sure I've already touched on this with my cool bag comment above and also point 1.... but do keep any perishable goods as cool as possible and protected from the heat. Particularly things like meat, fish or dairy which can turn pretty quickly. Eat these sorts of things as soon as possible once you've reached your destination. But until you get there, wrap them well and nestle in a cool bag between ice packs and pre-frozen drinks for good longevity.

ANTI BACTERIAL GEL

Need I say more? Napkins are great for any spillages, but there is nothing worse than wiping your hands and still feeling a bit sticky and urgh afterwards. Which is something anti bac can help with. It cleans, it protects against germs, and it usually smells pretty damn nice too. I had a watermelon one once, so I could eat watermelon and then clean up my sticky mitts after (which for the record still smelt like watermelon, but hey, watermelon is pretty nice as smells go). Picnic or no picnic, I always carry anti bac around with me.


OOTD

For the perfect picnic outfit, opt for something suitably summery and avoid anything too clingy (there is nothing worse than getting too hot, overeating and feeling like a stuffed sausage!). I like something off the shoulder where possible so I can sun myself and attempt to get some colour. And I usually do get some colour. Just not the colour I hoped for (lobster pink still counts as a colour, right?!)

USE PROTECTION

... with that, skincare is so important if your picnic is during the hotter months. I'm guilty of being out in the main heat of day (be careful between 12-3pm kids!) and not taking proper care of my skin. Recently I've been using Altruist Dermatologist Sunscreen which is exclusively available on Amazon as a cream or a spray. I tend to use bottles more than sprays as I tend to get a bit spray happy and then the floor sees more of it than my skin, but I digress...


Altruist is running a #howmuchisenough awareness campaign to encourage people to use suncream more and help reduce skin cancer, which I really wanted to get behind. Alarmingly research from Cancer Research UK paints a horrifying picture of how skin cancer has doubled since the early 1990s and further studies have shown how people are applying less than half the sunscreen advised (or sometimes none at all!), meaning that skin cancer is on the way to becoming one of the prevalent forms of cancer.

Sunscreen can be expensive and I have been guilty in the past of using it sparingly or at times, not at all. Altruist's founders wanted to produce effective UV protection for the lowest possible price so that everyone can afford to apply the correct amount of sun protection and be safe. The Altruist formula  contains micronized titanium dioxide (which offers UVA protection that goes beyond the EU standard) and Tinosorb A2B (apparently the most advanced sun protection ingredient of the moment, offering more protection than the usual UV spectrum). What I found interesting was that reportedly sunscreens sell for close to £10 -£15 per 200ml which results in people applying less and having a ‘make it last’ mentality.

I wanted to share Altruist's guide to the suggested amount of sunscreen to use. I was shocked by the amount needed for the body as it sounded little, but the emphasis here is that with quality sunscreen brands like Altruist, you don't always need as much.


Know this: I have sensitive skin which reacts to EVERYTHING. The real appeal of Altruist for me was that their products are developed for sensitive skin and are hypoallergenic and perfume and paraben free. I would describe application as like that of a moisturizer. It glides on super smoothly, absorbs quickly and is non-sticky. It's also water resistant which is another big fat tick as this means this is something I can take on holiday with me and use in the pool.


* Mateus rosé gift set and Altruist sun screen very kindly provided for review purposes, but as ever, all opinions are my own

Mateus are at The Big Feastival in the Cotswolds this summer and I can see why - it's the epitome of the perfect summer drink! Taking place between 24th - 26th August, there will be three days of Mateus Rosé Accoustic Picnics where the wine will be accompanied by Mediterranean food delights and feel good summer music. Fun fact: Mateus Rosé was a favourite of Jimi Hendrix so it's only fitting that Mateus should be at a music festival!

And do look Altruist up on Amazon here. As well spreading awareness to try and help prevent further diagnosis of skin cancer, proceeds from each bottle sold are donated to the charity Under the Same Sun who work to protect children in Africa suffering from Albinism. So as well protecting yourself, you could be helping to protect others which I thought was a really lovely idea!

Whether you picnic or not, remember to take care of yourselves this summer!


Friday, 11 May 2018

The prettiest rose gold headphones I ever did see! // Sudio VASA review

Headphones are an integral part of my life. I can't imagine the morning commute without them. And working in a small and quiet office in the city, I need some form of background noise to keep me sane. However headphones and I haven't always seen eye to eye.

Being a loyal iPhone user for years, I have mostly only ever known the standard iPhone headphones you get. And oh boy. The iPhone cable didn't just tangle, but it got itself into how-is-that-even-possible knots that even the smallest and nimblest of fingers couldn't untie. And I lost count of the number of times my iPhone cable split and the wires were exposed.

After several trips to the Apple store combined with pure and utter sadness of how much they were costing to replace each time (ugh Apple), I threw in the towel. Instead I invested in a cheap and cheerful pair from Amazon which kept me ticking along. I was naively complacent - relieved and impressed that the cable of my new set hadn't split. But I didn't think anything of the sound quality until recently when I tried a pair of Sudio headphones for the first time. And what a difference.


A little about Sudio

With my newsfeed full of hygge this and lagom that,  IKEA hauls and pictures of meatballs and mash, admittedly I've only ever been to exposed to Sweden in a home lifestyle and interiors sense. Until now that is. Enter Sudio. Sudio are a Swedish lifestyle brand that creates designer look earphones with an emphasis on superior sound quality and experience. The name Sudio came about after one of the company's founders saw Phil Collins out and about in New York having issues with his headphones. Unable to offer a better alternative to Phil at the time, he said “trust me I know the feeling". He later named the brand as a nod to Phil Collins and specifically, his track Sussudio.


Packaging and delivery

My order was shipped at the end of one week and I received it promptly and early the following week - gotta love express delivery! I found the packaging very slick and nicely done. The box hinge with magnets gives it an open and close 'book' feel and means it snaps shut in the most satisfying of ways. Inside there are two boxes. One containing the manual and guarantee, the other containing the main event.


Contents:

- Vasa earphones with 4 pairs of extra sleeves
- Owner’s Manual & Quality Assurance Card
- Genuine Leather Carrying Case
- Metal Clip

The extra ear buds are really handy because no two pairs of ears are the same and Sudio have catered to this well. I found that the ones already on the headphones by default fit me pretty well. But it's nice having the back up pairs in case I find another size more comfortable in the future.

I have never had a headphone clip before, but it could come in useful given that the Sudio VASA have a long and generous cable.

The case was a nice touch since headphones I have had before were always getting tangled. I like the fact that the pouch is pocket sized and not too big - it means that your headphones can fit in snuggly without being loose enough to unravel which is great.


Specs

Housing: Composite, Aluminum
Finish: High polished metal parts
Model: In-ear
Weight: 23 grams
Microphone: Built-in mic
Type: 10,2 mm Dynamic Speaker
Sensitivity: 113 dB SPL @ 1 kHz
Impedance: 32 Ohm @ 1kHz
Frequency Response: 18 Hz - 23 kHz

Look and feel

At first touch, there is a nice matt feel to the cable. It's a different sort of cable to ones I've had before and a generous length. My default Apple iPhone headphones (5S model) had a thin rounded wire which snapped easily and I found myself having to replace constantly. The Sudio VASA cable is a little thicker / wider but rather than being a rounded cable, the cable is flat (almost like flat udon noodles!). Sudio list this on their website as an anti tangle cord and I have to say, I haven't had any problems to date.


Fun fact: I have always struggled with finding ear buds to fit into my awkwardly shaped ears. If I had a pound / dollar / euro for every time an ear bud fell out on my way to the station, I would be all kinds of rich. These were the first pair of headphones I have had that have managed to stay put in my - not exactly tiny - ears.

The rose gold detailing is beautiful and doesn't look cheap (always one of my fears of products with a copper or rose gold finish!). Even when I catch the side of the control panel, the rose gold side doesn't seem to finger print heavily which is nice. As I did wonder if I'd forever be buffing finger prints off. Not the case!

I opted for white as I love the clean aesthetic of rose gold paired with white (also my phone is white and I like having everything matching!)  Sudio also offer other colours including black, pink and blue which you can see for yourselves here. The black and blue look particularly striking against the rose gold.


Functionality

Sudio offer headphones that are compatible with iOS or Android (specify which you need when ordering!). Being an iPhone user, I have been testing the iOS headphones. There are three buttons on a smart rose gold panel which matches the rose gold of the ear buds. These buttons consist of volume up, volume down and the middle button is pause. Fast double tap of the middle button is skip. If I received any calls whilst I was listening to music, the middle button would enable me to pick up the call and also hang up afterwards. I also found that when I was plugged into my phone and using Youtube or whatever, if I caught the middle button of the remote, it would call up Siri.

One thing I was pleasantly surprised by was the good sound blocking, meaning that I could easily ignore any noise from my outside environment.


Sound quality

I read plenty of reviews for Sudio headphones which said sound was "good" but when it comes to headphones, I want to know more than just "good". I want to know about the sound quality and how they measure up against other headphones. Whilst I am by no means a sound expert, I ran the headphones through an audio test website to check things like dynamic range, spectral flatness and so on. Here's how the Sudio VASA performed....

  • Bass extension test - this was a measure of how low the headphones could go and how they dealt with bass. Typically for a good set of headphones this would be in the 20Hz sort of range. The Sudio VASA performed well and seemed to meet this.
  • Treble extension test - in contrast this was a measure of pitch and how high the sound could carry. Note that 20kHz is the very highest that the human ear can hear (on the condition of good hearing!). When I performed this test the Sudio VASA were coming back at the 16-17kHz sort of range, which may be down to my ears, but either way was a strong result and not too far away from the 20kHz benchmark.
  • Spectral flatness - with this I was measuring how the volume coped with a frequency sweep test. Despite the test sound sweeping up and down, the volume stayed consistent which is a sign of good flatness.
  • Dynamic range - this was a measure of the sound isolation that the headphones provide. In an ideal world, you would always hear the quiet signal despite your surroundings. You would always hear something - however quiet - not silence. And this was the case.
  • Wiring test - I tested isolated sound from the left ear bud and then from the right ear bud and both were emitting sound from the correct side(s). I also tested to see if when the sound played from both that the sound was nice and central (it should almost feel like it's between your eyes) and it was.
  • Binaural test - At my last job I had exposure to binaural audio (and how this is recorded) which is very clever tech indeed. This is a method of recording sound that uses two microphones in order to create a 3-D stereo sound sensation which makes the listener feel like they are in the same room as the instruments / band / etc. It's very realistic and for advertising with serious topic matter, it can be haunting. The binaural excerpt I tested with was someone knocking on the door. The first sound was emitted from the right ear bud and sounded like someone was trying to break down my door. Then sound came from my left and sounded like someone was pounding at the window. The Sudio VASA excelled at this test with almost cinematic type sound. It was so realistic, my heart was pounding!
  • Other findings - One thing I was amazed by was how many more layers I could hear in my favourite songs. I'd hear instruments and details I hadn't heard before. Music for me has always been about the experience, but now 'experience' takes on a whole new meaning!


Summary

With aesthetically pleasing headphones I always wonder if you are paying for style over substance. But having tested my first ever pair of Sudio headphones, I can confirm that this is not the case! The audio held its own in the audio testing that I performed. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with my old Amazon headphones until I started using these. The sound quality is fantastic and I love hearing many new layers to my favourite songs than I hadn't heard before.


Sudio discount code

The lovely people at Sudio are offering my readers 15% off any purchase on the Sudio website and have created an Alice in Wonderland orientated discount code (how awesome is that?!). Apply promo code curiouserandcuriouser15 at checkout for a 15% discount. As well as the headphones I am using (the VASA which comes in an array of colours here), Sudio also have other models such as wireless headphones like the REGENT or VASA BLA if you are anti cables / leads. Sudio ship worldwide and you can find a full list of their headphones here

#Sudio #SudioMoments

* Headphones very kindly provided by Sudio but as ever, all opinions are my own