How to Care for Your Silverware

Whether you’re a collector or a user, care for your silver flatware is essential. No matter how beautiful they were when they started out, time will come when your precious silvers will dull and tarnish. This will especially be a problem if you don’t give them proper care or if you don’t use them as much as you should. Yes, you read that right. The more you use your silverware, the easier they will be to maintain, and the less often you will need to polish them. I sense a lot of perplexed faces on the other end of the screen but fret not, my darlings. There is no rocket science to taking care of your silverware, and, contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t take that much time either.

1. After each use, wash your silverware separate from cutlery and serving ware.

Use warm water and mild detergent or dish soap, to remove residues. The acids from food leftover on your flatware can corrode and tarnish them. Your safest bet will be hand washing but if you must use the dishwasher, place them at the top rack, and set it to the gentlest cycle like Crystal or China. This is to ensure that you don’t scratch or damage your silverware.

2. As soon as you’re done washing, dry them.

If there’s anything you should remember in elementary science, it’s that water corrodes anything and everything with enough time.

3. Polish your silverware.

As stated above, you don’t have to do this as often if you frequently use your silverware. With regular use, you only need to polish them once every few years. But if you’re an infrequent user, or collector, or are about to sell your silverware, here are a few tips on polishing them to brilliance and perfection:

  • After washing and drying, purchase quality silver polishing cream. Think gentle polishes from companies like Hagerty & Sons. Yes, it may be more expensive and may take more effort to rub the cream into the silver, but the constant rubbing for longer periods of time on silver actually brings out its brilliance.
  • There is a way to cut some time and effort from polishing your silver to perfection: Silver Cleaning Cloth. It’s specifically made to make your life easier and, furthermore, the material and production is tailor-made for silver. This way, you know you won’t damage your precious flatware.
  • No instant shines, please. Believe me when I say it’s worth it in the long run. The instant polishing creams are high in octane, which do produce faster results with minimal effort, however are highly acidic and abrasive. This means that each time you polish with these products, you strip off metal which decreases the value of your flatware. Even worse, if you don’t remove these instant shines properly, they leave unsightly translucent white film on your silver. Believe me, these are tough to remove.

4. Store your silverware in a dry place, away from the stove and fumes.

There are also tarnish preventive bags (should you choose to invest in them) which are advisable for those who live near the sea (as salt air has a corrosive effect on silver).

And that’s all there is to it! Wash-Dry-Polish-Store.

HamptonRenee

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HamptonRenee-Spoon

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Do you know any flatware care tips that I missed in this article?

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Let me know in the comments!

Summer Grilling Season: 5 Tips to Grill the Most Delicious Meals

With summer upon us, so is grilling season as backyards everywhere will be filled with the delicious smell of cooked meat and the noise of happy families having fun. From grilled burgers to steaks and everything in between, summer is known as grilling season! If you’re a grill novice or an expert, here are some useful grilling tips to help make your summer meals even more delicious than ever!

Summer Grilling

  1. Don’t put food on the grill too early

Many people make the mistake of putting their food on the grill way too early, especially if they use charcoal or wood fires. If you’re using these types of grills wait at least 30 minutes before you start to cook. Gas grills need a bit of time, too, even though they heat up faster.

 

  1. An uncovered grill

Don’t babysit your food on a grill. Most of the meats you’ll be grilling only need to be turned once, so you don’t have to be by the grill babysitting it and constantly adjusting the food. Don’t lift the lid all the time and do it once since you’ll lose that necessary smoke that will make your food more flavorful.

 

  1. Sauce early

If you love to add sauces to your meat, know that they tend to burn fast so you should only add it at the end of cooking it. Cook the meat until it’s practically don and then apply the sauce and cook it just enough to heat it and then serve.

 

  1. Use tongs

Don’t use a fork while grilling and instead opt for some tongs since forks tend to let out the juices in the meat.

 

  1. Use a meat thermometer

Don’t serve undercooked food and simply use a meat thermometer that will let you know when the meat is cooked all the way through. Just stick a remote probe in the meat and then set the alarm and don’t come back until it’s ready.

 

Outdoor Grill

Here are some tips on how to grill the perfect steak:

 

  1. Fire up the grill

When you grill steaks, you want it to be as hot as possible, so fire up the grill for at least 30 minutes if you’re using coals.

 

  1. Prep the steak

Take the steak from the fridge and let it get to room temperature (about 30 minutes). Trim the fat and slash it vertically around the thin piece of fat around it. Add salt and ground pepper to both sides.

 

  1. Grilling the steak

Place the steak on the hottest part of the grate right above the coals and let it sear for about three minutes then flip and do the same to the other side. Make sure the lid is closed.

 

  1. Finish on the warm side of the grill

Once it’s done searing, move it to the warm side of the grate and close the lid to let it cook until it’s done. Don’t flip it during this stage of cooking.

Citrus Zester : Recipe

Do you want to add more flavor to your dishes? No problem since all you need is a citrus zester on hand. For those not familiar with the kitchen utensil, it’s a small grate that’s used in cooking to release small bursts of concentrated flavor from things like citrus rinds, nutmeg and cinnamon sticks. It’s more slender than a rasp grater and has smaller holes, allowing it to make hundreds of fine cuts on whatever item you want to get a burst of flavor from. Used for added flavoring, freshly-grated lemon or orange zest can easily transform an ordinary recipe into a savory dish.

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Many use them for lemons and limes, making them idea to get the flavor without adding the pith (the bitter white part of the skin of the lemon or lime). Citrus zesters feature five or six holes and are great for making lemons curls for things like espresso or even martinis. One medium-sized lemon is approximately one tablespoon of lemon zest, which is the same as two to three tablespoons of lemon juice. When using a lemon for both zest and juice, make sure that you grate the zest first before you squeeze out the juice.

Here’s a fast and easy trick to make it easier to zest: cover the zest side of the grater with some plastic wrap and then grate the citrus (lemon, lime or orange) over the plastic wrap, without grating the bitter white pith. The zest will stay on the plastic wrap and won’t stick in the holes of the zester. Then simply pull of the wrap and shake the zest into your recipe or a plate.

Here’s a delicious recipe that requires some lemon zest!

Lemon Sugar Cookies

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Ingredients:

  • 4 Sticks Butter, Softened (or 2 Cups of Butter)
  • 3 Cups Sugar
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 2 Tsp Lemon Extract
  • Zest from 4 Large Lemons
  • Juice from 2 Large Lemons
  • 4-1/2 Cups Flour
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 Cup Lemon Sugar (Mix 1 Cup of Sugar with Zest of 3 Lemons)

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degree and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Mix together butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy with a hand or stand mixer.
  3. Add in the lemon extract, juice and zest from the lemons and eggs one at a time. Mix until it’s smooth.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix baking powder, sea salt and flour.
  5. Combine all the wet ingredients to the dry and fold together. Mix until it’s all combined.
  6. Make balls of cooking dough using a 1 Tbs scoop. Roll the ball in the lemon sugar to coat and place on the cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Press lightly on the cookies with the back of the spoon to smash down.
  7. Bake for 12 minutes or until they start to get brown.
  8. Allow to cool for about 3 minutes before moving to cooling rack.

Easy Bake Oven

The Easy Bake Oven is a working toy oven that was first introduced in 1963 and has been reinvented several times over the years. The toy oven, which originally used an incandescent light bulb as the heating source, can be used to make cookies, cakes, brownies and more. Over 16 million ovens have been sold throughout the world.

Every little girl loves to bake and that’s the main reason the Easy Bake Oven has enjoyed such widespread and long-lasting popularity. Despite feminism and the move towards gender equality, little girls still love baby dolls, playing mommy and baking. The 1950s appeal of the toy still resonates with today’s youth, despite the indoctrination of young girls into the feminist movement before they even have a notion of what it means to be a feminist. The toy oven is truly a social marvel, uniting girls of all nationalities and upbringings in the pursuit of the perfect chocolate cake.

easy bake

Of course, if cake isn’t your thing, there’s other mix packets that are available. The mix packets don’t’ contain anything you probably don’t already have in your pantry, but they’re pre-measured and perfectly suited for the Easy Bake Oven. Convenience trumps cost in this case, though there is a growing collection of Pinterest boards devoted to DIY Easy Bake Oven mixes to save money. The Easy Bake Oven includes miniature pans for use when baking.

So how could a throwback toy like the Easy Bake Oven still remain popular today? The answer is simple – it’s fun! The goodies are small and take just minutes to bake. If you’re not using a homemade recipe, you can whip up a packet of cake or brownies or even cookies in just a few minutes flat. Girls can pick their own sweets to make and customize their Easy Bake experience.

Of course it’s not all buttercream and sprinkles in Easy Bake Oven land. There’s a small subset of people that think the toy should be banned because of the risk it presents. The internal heating element has been known to be a fire hazard when foreign objects are inserted onto the conveyor belt. Without the proper adult supervision, a fire could easily ensue. Even when used as directed, the hot pans exiting the toy have the potential to burn.

For many, owning and operating an Easy Bake Oven is a right of passage. Because of the nostalgia of the toy and the upgrades it has been given in recent years, the Easy Bake Oven shows no sign of leaving the American landscape. If you have a little girl, you owe it to her to introduce her to the world of Easy Bake ovens. Pick one up today at your local toy store or mass merchandiser and start baking up some memories.

Household Storage For Your Home

In the current economic climate it is becoming increasingly difficult to sell your property quickly whilst achieving the highest price possible.

Therefore homeowners are realising the need to make their property more appealing to a larger market, what appeals to you may not to prospective buyers. Recent television makeover programmes all refer to the negative effect of clutter in the home and its impact on a house sale. Staging your home is become an important factor in activating a property sale.

To help prospective buyers visualise your house as their home the use of household self storage units can provide a clean, safe and secure temporary home for your larger non-essential belongings to create the feeling of space in a balanced and harmonious home. With the flexibility of household storage items can be manoeuvred around the house sale / purchase process i.e. prior to selling self storage units can be used to declutter, after the sale other items can be added in conjunction with the removal. Once settled in your new home items can be taken out at your leisure. The size of your unit can be reduced at anytime during the process also reducing the costs.

Where just decluttering and using a self storage unit is the answer, some cases may require more aesthetical work such as decorating or full / part renovation. Once again household self storage rooms can house your belongings whilst the work is undertaken keeping them safe and clean out of harms way. Money spent wisely on redecorating, renovating and storage very often results in an increase in the market value of the property, which vastly out weighs the costs incurred. By achieving the optimum price for your well presented home, and maybe negotiating a reduced purchase price on a poorly presented house can maximise the benefit, making all your work and planning worth while and cost effective.

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household storage

 

 

 

Reference: 
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/2387629

4 Ways to Prepare Hot Dogs

Hot dogs are always a favorite and can be used at a variety of different occasions – birthdays, BBQs and so much more.

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And everyone has their own favorite way to make hot dogs. If you need some inspiration cooking one of your favorite meals, here are some different ways to prepare hot dogs:

  1. Grilling

This has to the No. 1 way to prepare hot dogs, especially if they’re the main dish at a birthday party or a summer BBQ. Nothing beats the delicious taste of a grilled hot dog on a grilled bun fresh from the grill! Hot dogs that have been grilled provide a succulent smoky taste that will delight all. And they’re super easy to make – just fire up your gas or charcoal grill (even a wood-fired grill will work) and lay the hot dogs out on their sides. Just keep turning them over until they’re fully cooked and serve for your guests.

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2. Boiling

When you can’t fire up the grill, you can easily opt to boil your hot dogs on top of the stove. Hot dogs done this way are still delicious and make for a quick meal when you don’t have a lot of time to cook. Just fill a pot with enough water to cover the hot dogs and then bring to a boil. If you like moister hot dogs, cook for about 4 minutes, but if you like crispier hot dogs, leave it for about 6 minutes.

3. Microwave

When you have zero time to boil or grill hot dogs, you can easily place them in the microwave. Just use a microwave-safe bowl, fill it with some water and cook on high for 2 to 3 minutes. Then just drain the water from and serve!

4. Oven-Roasting

If you love juicy, blackened hot dogs, you should try oven-roasting them for a great taste. It’s as close to a grilled hot dog as you can get without the need for a grill. Preheat the 400-degrees F and slice the hot dogs down the middle with a knife and place on a baking try.

Cook them in the oven for about 15 minutes and then enjoy!

 

Do-It-Yourself Dish Garden

Dish gardens are terraces of plants growing in a container, preferably shallow ones. A terrarium of some sort, dish gardens vary from country to country. The Japanese dish garden is called a bonsai (meaning planting in trays), while the Chinese call theirs penjing. The Vietnamese use the term hòn non b? (hahn nahn bo) to name their own version of a dish garden.

(Photo credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/393361348677321908/)
(Photo credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/393361348677321908/)

Setting up your own dish garden is as easy as 1, 2, and 3. All you need is time and the right materials. Construction is simple and fast, but choosing the plants, ornaments, and the perfect container that you’ll use may take a while.

 

Miniature Landscaping for Your Garden

Give your dish garden the feel of an actual garden through landscaping. Pick out ornaments and accents to decorate your garden with. Small ceramics and wooden figures are always a good choice. It’s best to establish set themes or sceneries so you can easily determine the kind of décor you need to buy. If organized themes don’t suit you, just grab anything you can get from your home. Let your imagination run wild and make things work!

 

Choosing Compatible Dish Gardening Plants

All plants included in your dish garden should be able to survive in a dry environment. Variation is also a key to producing a dish garden that captivates. Choose plants that vary in texture and size. Since your containers are more likely shallow, you need to consider that it has limited root space. The tendency would be that the plants will outgrow their niche rather rapidly. Study the speed of growth of your plants to prevent having to replace them too frequently. Other factors you should consider are if the plants you choose have the same water and light requirements.

 

Setting Up Your Dish Garden

Here are the materials you’ll need:

  • Container (decorative or not, most preferably shallow)
  • Plants (already watered)
  • Potting soil (a mix of organic and inorganic is usually best)
  • Gravel or Pebbles
  • Accents/Decorations

Before setting up, make sure your plants are watered. This will allow you to tease apart their roots without breaking their other delicate parts.

  1. Fill the bottom of the container with gravel/pebbles in order to provide drainage.
  2. Experiment with the arrangement of your plants (while still on their pots) until you achieve your desired look.
  3. Place large ornaments beforehand so that the soil can fill the gaps between the objects. This will create a natural look for your dish garden.
  4. Once satisfied with how your garden looks, take your plants from their pots and tease the roots apart. Spread the roots evenly and horizontally so they are in level with the soil. As you fill the spaces in between the plants with soil, water them lightly to reduce any pockets of air amid the roots.
  5. Arrange smaller ornaments in place to give more beauty to your dish garden.

 

Maintenance of Your Dish Garden

Though relatively low in maintenance, dish gardens still need some care.

Make sure your dish garden receives proper light. Ample light is sufficient; ample light, meaning not placing your dish garden directly under sunlight, nor placing it inside a dark room. Counters, window sills and coffee tables are good spots for a dish garden.

Watering your dish garden will be a bit tricky. Dish gardens are usually small and shallow so avoid drowning your plants in too much water. Frequently check if your dish garden’s soil is dry. Water your dish garden every time you find it dry. Do not allow the soil to become too soggy or too arid.

Your plants will grow after some time. Do a little bit of trimming or replanting to maintain the aesthetic of your dish garden. It is not advised to put fertilizer in your dish garden’s soil so your plants won’t grow too quickly.

Do you own your own dish garden? Share a few tips and tricks in the comment section below!

Washing Your Stainless Steel Flatware

Smart Dishwasher Tips For Keeping Your Stainless Steel Flatware Looking Chic and Shiny

Reference (Article Source) : Click Here

For something we depend on so regularly, there is surprisingly little information available about effectively using a dishwasher! A little knowledge can make all the difference between having gorgeous stainless steel flatware and spending hours scrubbing intricate flatware patterns over the sink.

How many times have you broken a nail trying to scratch off that little “bit-o-mystery” sticking to that supposedly clean bowl or stainless steel flatware? How often have you needed to drag out your scrub brush to get debris out of intricate flatware patterns? How often have you rushed to set the table for guests’ timely arrival, only to find dark spots on your stainless steel flatware or a bit of this morning’s eggs decorating your intricate flatware patterns?

Your dishwasher may be responsible, but it’s likely the way you are loading it!

Dishwashers are a great convenience. Intricate flatware patterns come out sparkling clean without effort and stainless steel flatware shines brighter than silver–but only if they are used correctly.

 

Monogrammed Flatware: Yay or Nay?

A monogram is a character that symbolizes someone or something. It’s usually comprised of one to three letters. Once an object has been monogrammed, it is considered to be sealed. It signifies that the item is owned by someone.

According to Raquel Laneri’s Is Monogramming Classy or Tacky? (Reference)Monograms have been around for a long time. In fact, the people from Ancient Greece used to inscribe the first few letters of their city’s or ruler’s name on the coins. “During the Middle Ages, merchants and artisans, as well as tradesman painters and publishers, used monograms –their own or their guild’s–to sign or brand their work,” the author wrote.

These monograms gained immense popularity during the Victorian era. Most of the bourgeoisie in this timeline liked to carve their initials on almost every type of item. This includes linens, shirts, lockets, and even carriages.

Continental and American

In the world of monogrammed flatware, there are two styles- the Continental and the American. With the Continental style, the symbol is placed at the back of the flatware’s handle. With the American style, the character is placed on the front side, but if it obstructs the ornament pattern, it will be placed at the back.

(image source: www.etsy.com)
(image source: www.etsy.com)

 

Some people love fancy monogrammed flatware but some simply don’t. Why do you think so? Here are the banes and boons of monogramming:

Hands-up, yes!

  • Personalized, all mine!

There are people who would go hunting for monogrammed flatware and wouldn’t mind staying up all night in the internet looking for utensils with their exact initials or for someone who would monogram their flatware with new ones. They simply love the personal touch monogramming brings to their ordinary silverware even if it cost much on the flipside. Most even buy sets. They are also used as wedding giveaways.

  • Vintage and Artsy!

Even though the initials in the tableware are different from theirs, some choose to buy monogrammed flatware because they are antique and artistic. For them, it gives a classic look to their home or collection. Some people even frame them or put them on display. A post from Silver Magpies noted the fascinating quality of old monograms. “The actual workmanship on an old monogram truly is a work of art. Hand lettering is worthy of admiration.  ”

Thumbs down, no!

  • Those aren’t even my initials!

For others, monogrammed flatware is a no-no. They just use traditional and normal utensils instead of flatware owned by someone they do not know. An eBay guide  recommends “that (one) should not buy a starting collection with a monogram that is not the first initial of your last name, no matter how good a deal you think might be on offer, as one is unlikely to ever be satisfied with the collection.”

  • Monogrammed may mean less value

Some cross-out tableware with inscriptions in their list because it lessens the value of silver. A guide on sterling silver says that monogramming will reduce the value of your sterling by 25-35%. Some people do not want their things to lessen in value that’s why they keep their utensils and other items free from these inscriptions.

The explanations above are just few of the reasons why someone could want to seek or stay away from monograms.

How about you? What are your thoughts on the matter? Are monogrammed pieces cool or not? Join the discussion in the comments!

 

Laura Ashley: The Woman behind the Quintessentially British Fashion and Home Furnishings Business

Laura Ashley is the woman behind Laura Ashley plc, a successful Welsh textile design company which is now being controlled by the Malaysia-based MUI Group. Founded with her husband, Bernard Ashley, Laura Ashley Holdings plc has grown to become an international retail chain of quintessential British products such as home furniture, decorations, curtains and blinds, and home accessories. They even expanded their scope to fashion clothing and accessories.

The company’s products all come with distinctly British designs, all Romantic English designs that are often introduced to the market as products with a 19th century rural feel and with natural fabrics.

(Image source: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/)
(Image source: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/)

Laura Ashley’s 1970s printed cotton dresses exhibited at the Fashion Museum, Bath in 2013

(Image source: en.wikipedia.org/)
(Image source: en.wikipedia.org/)

Early Life

Laura Ashley was born as Laura Mountney on September 7, 1925 to Welsh parents who lived in London. Her mother came back to Wales to give birth to her at her grandmother’s home where she was raised in a civil service family as a strict Baptist.

She attended Marshall’s School, Merthyr Tydfill until 1932 then transferred to Elmwood School in Croydon, a large town in South London, England. She was sent back to Wales when she was 13 and during that time, there were no schools open for her because of the many evacuees of World War II. She then attended Aberdare Secretarial School.

Laura was 16 and the year was 1942 when she left school and served in the Women’s Royal Naval Service. It was during this period that she met Bernard Ashley, an engineer, at a youth club in Wallington, a town in the London Borough of Sutton. After the war, Bernard was stationed at India and the two communicated through letters. They got married in 1949 while Laura continued working in the Service from 1945 – 1952. 

Starting the Business

Two children were born to Laura while working as a secretary and as she started undertaking development work for the Women’s Institute on Quilting. Here, she was able to revisit and practice the craft she learned from her grandmother. She soon began designing headscarves, napkins, table mats, and tea-towels. Bernard then printed these designs on a machine he had designed in their attic at their flat at 83 Cambridge Street, Pimlico. The couple started a complementary partnership.

By investing £10 for wood for the screen frame, dyes, and a few yards of linen, the couple was able to start printing Victorian style headscarves in 1953. The inspiration hit Laura after seeing a Women’s Institute display of traditional handicrafts at the Victoria & Albert Museum located in the Brompton district of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

The scarves sold in retail both through mail order and at high chains such as John Lewis, a chain of upmarket department stores operating throughout Great Britain. Due to this success, Bernard decided to print fabrics full-time while Laura continued to create the designs.

The company was originally named Bernard Ashley Fabrics in 1953 until Bernard decided to name it after her wife, Laura Ashley, since he reckoned that a female’s name is more suitable to the nature of their business.

The new company moved to Kent in 1955 and in 1958, the Ashleys faced their first major business struggle. The company was threatened to close down when the River Darent overflowed, submerging the equipment, dyes, and fabrics in three feet of water. However, despite this, the company thrived.  Their operations moved to Wales in 1961, the same time the couple’s third child was born.

This is where the first shop was opened in #35 Maengwyn Street, Machynlleth, Poswys where the family resided at the top floor of the shop for six years. Today, this shop still operates as an interior design store. After the establishment of their first shop, they moved to Carno, Powys.

Family Business

The couple has been blessed with four children who were all engaged in the business. The eldest son, David, designed the interiors of the shops while Jane, the oldest daughter became the company’s photographer. Their other daughter, Emma, and youngest son, Nick, were both part of the company’s fashion design team. Bernard held the post as company chairman while Laura focused on their products. The business grew and the family was soon able to afford a yacht, a private plane, the French Château de Remaisnil in Picardy, a townhouse in Brussels, and the Villa Contenta in Lyford Cay, New Providence, Bahamas. The last estate was later purchased by T. J. Maloney for $8.5 million.

 

 

Awards and Recognitions

The Laura Ashley association was presented with a small plaque in 1961. In 1975, Laura was offered an OBE, The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire often shortened informally to “Order of the British Empire”. It is the most junior and most populous order of chivalry in the British and Commonwealth honors systems.

Unfortunately, Laura turned down the recognition, upset that her husband has not been offered the same award. Bernard was knighted after Laura’s death on September 17, 1985 at age 60. She died due to brain hemorrhage, caused by falling down the stairs of her daughter’s home in the West Midlands.

On July 5, 1994, a memorial plaque to Laura Ashley was unveiled at the family’s former home at 83 Cambridge Street, Pimlico.

 

Laura Ashley Holdings plc

Laura Ashley Holdings plc has expanded their product offerings to furniture and upholstery. They offer coffee tables, side tables, dressing tables, console tables, foot stools, chest of drawers, sideboards, media units, bookcases, and desks. They also have beds and divans, dining tables and chairs, sofas, and armchairs on top of home accessories such as rugs, shades, bed linens, and cushions and pillowcases.

Expanding the business further, Laura Ashley Holdings plc added fashion ensembles to its roster of products. They offer tops, coats and jackets, dresses, knitwear, nightwear and loungewear, skirts, trousers, tunics, swimwear, and accessories such as jewelry, bags, and perfumes. Men’s fashion is also available as well as themed fashion collections.