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The Fabulous Fleece Company Blog

A Herdwick for the house that Scott built

You know how much we love to hear the stories behind your fabulous fleece purchases and this has to be one of our favourites. Lovely customer Laura Premack recently bought an Extra Large Herdwick Sheepskin from us as a housewarming gift for her good friend Scott who lives in America.

But it's not any ordinary house... it's a timber-framed house that Scott built himself on top of a little mountain in Lovell, Maine. Laura sent us some fantastic behind-the-scened pictures of her friend's house build in progress...

These first images are of a very snowy building site in the early days, and the felling of nearby trees to use for the house frame.

Below is the impressive timber frame that forms the core structure of the house, as it's being constructed.

As the interior fit out progresses inside, even more of the local timber is put to good use in creating the central staircase and the tree-like structures that support the first floor ceiling.

We also love this central brick fireplace that forms a focal point for the ground floor living space. Must need to generate some serious heat to keep warm when it's the middle of winter here!

Of course, no house-build-in-progress photo story is complete without revealing the finished result of all that hard work. And here it is..... what the finished house looks like from the outside!!

Wow - what an epic project and an amazing achievement! We truly hope our Herdwick rug has a long and happy life in Scott's incredible self-built house. Thanks for sharing his house-building journey with us, Laura.

​What is 'Japandi' style and how can you create it?

If you’ve not noticed, modern culture has developed rather an enthusiastic love for the portmanteau - where you blend together the meanings and sounds from two words to make a whole new word and concept. Smoke + fog = smog; motorway + hotel = motel; breakfast + lunch = brunch... you get the idea!

So it was only natural that this trend for fusing words would find its way into the trend-led world of interiors, where home decor is often combines more than one style.

Which brings us to the concept of ‘Japandi’ (Japanese + Scandi), an interior style that has been making big waves with designers and home decor lovers recently. It is also known as ‘Scandinese’ or ‘Japanordic’ (more variations of smushed together words!)

Whatever you choose to call it, this hybrid trend is an East meets West fusion that takes the best similarities and differences from both Scandi and Japanese interior design world to create an exciting minimal style of its very own.

How Japanese and Nordic styles complement each other

Though on different sides of the globe, there has long been an affinity between Japanese and Scandinavian design cultures. There have a shared love for minimalism and the simplicity of clean lines, plus they really respect the authentic beauty of natural materials and quality craftsmanship.

Both design styles also lean towards more practical, uncluttered spaces, enhanced by a just handful of well considered statement pieces and accessories, rather than too much decorative detail.

Combining stylistic differences

There are also some key differences, so the Japandi trend combines the best of both worlds to balance out the excesses of each style individually.

The philosophy of 'wabi-sabi' - of finding beauty in the imperfect - is central to Japan’s design culture. Whereas in Scandinavian the notion of hygge - creating an atmosphere of warmth and comfort - is very important.

Japanese interiors tend to exhibit more sleekness and elegance, while the rustic details of Nordic design add more variety and texture. Where the neutrality of Scandinavian interiors can verge on being too clinical, the richer colour palette of Japanese design can help give a room more warmth.

Scandinavian furniture is typically made up of light woods and has a relaxed simplicity, while Japanese pieces are more sleek and refined, featuring stained or painted woods and more curved shapes.

Scandinavian accent pieces focus on comfort, with lots on items like soft rugs, blankets and cushions to give a homely feel, whereas Japanese accents tend to be more utility based.

So Japandi rooms ideally include a mix of both, while keeping things simple and scaled back.

If you love the hybrid philosophy and look of Japandi style, we’ve rounded up some key ways to help you recreate it to your own home

HOW TO ADD SOME JAPANDI STYLE TO YOUR INTERIOR

1. Embrace simplicity

Japandi style is a masterclass in minimalism, so keep spaces as decluttered and airy as possibly for maximum tranquility.

Accessories and decorative items are not abundant in either Japanese or Scandi design philosophy - so think more quality than quantity and choose just a handful of well considered statement pieces to accessorise.

Scandinavian design likes soft textured items that add cosiness, while Japanese style favours utilitarian pieces, so try combining items across the two philosophies - sparingly of course.

Sheepskin rugs would be a great addition being so practical as well as very hygge! The unique individuality of each sheepskin - especially the mottled fleeces from the rare breeds - also ticks that wabi-sabi box of being beautifully imperfect!

2. Choose natural materials

Wood is a key material in Japandi style, as are other natural fibres such as bamboo, rattan, and paper so try to incorporate ample use of these. If you're feeling adventurous, add some bamboo wallpaper, otherwise perhaps choose a statement pieces of furniture made from rattan such as the cupboard pictured.

Mixing light and dark wood together is a good way to create a nice contrast, while also encompassing both design cultures.

Also try adding sheer fabrics that soften the daylight such as voiles and semi translucent paper screens. An origami style paper light shade, is also great accent piece to include.

House plants are another great addition to bring nature indoors - they can can also help soften the clean lines of minimalist look and add some natural vibrancy! A bonsai tree would be a good way to add both greenery and a Japanese feel.

3. Explore warm muted shades, but also contrast colours

When it comes to colour palettes, avoid painting walls anything too bright or clinical looking Instead use off-whites such as Farrow & Ball’s Wimborne White or Slipper Satin for your neutral paint shades. More warmth can some from the colour of materials in the room, such as natural fibre rugs and light coloured wood.

Accent colours in Japandi style include the soft Scandi tones of light greys, pale pinks, baby blues and pastel greens. However you can add some deeper richness by sparingly using darker accent colours such as charcoal grey, indigo, emerald green or even black.

4. Go low and space out

Japanese furniture tends to be low lying, to satisfy the traditional cultural need to feel and be closer to the earth so low pieces of furniture are a signature of the japandi style.

Try low benches, armchairs and coffee tables in living spaces, and futon style low beds in the sleeping rooms. To align with Scandi style, also ensure you leave plenty of open space around any major furniture pieces.

A style made to last

It may have the catchy name, but Japandi style doesn't deserve to be labelled a trend in many ways, as that implies that it's a short-term fad. In reality, Japandi has all the right ingredients to be a longer-term philosophy or design movement with its mix of classic furniture, natural materials and subtle colours.

It provides a great foundation look that can be adapted over time to suit needs, tastes and individuality. While other trends - and undoubtedly more portmanteau descriptions - will quickly come and go, we think Japandi / Scandinese / Japanordic is a classic style that can really stand the test of time.

For more pictures and inspiration to create Japans style, visit our Pinterest board.

Why sheepskins are great for babies and kids

Babies, toddlers and young children love to seek out comfort, whether it’s a hug from their parents or snuggling up to their favourite soft blanket. So the tactile and supportive nature of sheepskin makes it a very appealing material for little ones to use and enjoy as they grow.

Practicality is always a primary concern when considering any item for your child. So sheepskins’ practical qualities such as aiding temperature regulation, being dirt resistant, flame resistant and even reducing the risk of children developing allergies - are very useful too.

Then there’s the aesthetic appeal, making sheepskins are a great addition to a baby’s nursery, a child’s playroom or bedroom.

So below is a more in-depth guide of the various ways sheepskins are great for babies and children, with some visual inspiration of where to place and how to use the fleeces.

Sheepskin is hypoallergenic and can reduce allergy risk

German researchers found babies who were came into contact with animal skins like sheepskin, in their first three months of life were much less likely to develop asthma and allergies by the time they were 10 years old.

The theory is that the microbes found in animal skin could help protect against asthma and allergies by strengthening the immune system.

Sheepskin is also gentle on your baby’s skin - due to its lanolin content - and may help heal sensitive or inflamed skin or rashes.

Sheepskins are temperature regulating

The natural temperature regulating properties of wool helps your little one to stay at the right temperature. This quality is especially helpful for newborn babies - especially those who are premature or have low birth weight - as they cannot yet regulate their own temperature.

Sheepskin's breathability naturally assists in regulating heat and moisture, keeping your baby warm and snug when the weather’s cool and comfortably dry when it’s hot.

That’s why using a sheepskin to line a buggy or pushchair is such a good choice to keep baby comfortable when out and about in all weathers.

Sheepskins are dirt, water and flame resistant

Sheepskin is naturally anti-bacterial and has self cleaning powers by retaining a natural oil called lanolin, which that resists dirt and grease. Of wool’s three layers, the second has tiny overlapping scales that rub against each other to push off the dirt.

The third layer is a protective filmy skin that helps to resist water. The core of each wool fiber - which contains a protein called keratin - can absorb 30% of its weight in moisture vapour without the sheepskin getting or feeling damp.

Unlike synthetic fibres like polar fleece made from petrochemicals, sheepskin is also more breathable (so it gets less clammy and smelly) plus its naturally flame retardant and resistant to static electricity.

Once you do need to wash it, you easily can in the machine or by hand. Just be sure to follow our care tips here on how to keep it your fleece in tip-top condition.

Sheepskin is a naturally comforting material

A woolly fleece is very tactile and flexible, being so soft to touch and is also very supportive and cushioning. So it can create a snug and soothing cocoon-like environment to help your little one feel more safe, secure and relaxed.

Sheepskins are easily portable

With any comforting item that your baby or child is attached to, you’ll want to take it with you wherever possible to recreate a familiar environment. So it’s great that sheepskin rugs are so easy to transport between a cot and playroom, to use in your car, or to take away on holiday to provide reassuring comfort.

Inspiration for how to use sheepskins for babies and children

Now we've covered the various benefits of sheepskins for little ones, here are some lovely ideas for different places you can use fleeces...

Sheepskins are a soft surface for both rest and play, whatever the child’s age. The silky, malleable texture is great for babies and toddlers to explore and also rest upon - as a mat for when using their play gym, for example.

For older children who love sprawling on floors sheepskin rugs can provide a softer surface to relax upon, while playing or reading.

Image credit: https://www.decorpad.com/photo.htm?photoId=120004

Add natural tones to a nursery

Whether you opt for a more neutral coloured nursery, or something more gender specific, sheepskins come in a range of tones the light creams and greys that fit well with most decor schemes. The texture also adds softness which really suits the nursery environment.

Image credit: https://projectnursery.com/2014/04/stokke-sleepi-system

Give extra cushioning to a nursing chair

When parents need somewhere comfortable to sit and feed their baby - especially for those lengthy or frequent night feeds - a sheepskin is a great way to soften the surface of a nursing chair.

Image credit: Rock My Style - http://rockmystyle.co.uk/hectors-nursery/

Make a cosy reading nook

Along with some cushions and a selection of your child’s favourite story books nearby, a sheepskin rug is all you need to make a welcoming reading nook in a corner of their bedroom.

Image credit: https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/10-cozy-reading-nooks-for-kids-202534

Use as flooring for a teepee

If you are browsing Pinterest for kids bedroom decor ideas, you are sure to have come across plenty of inspiring images featuring a canvas teepee style play tent. Here, sheepskins on the floor inside make these little dens even more appealing as hideaways.

Image credit: http://www.thebooandtheboy.com/2014/10/teepees.html

Create a rocking sheep

Perhaps one of our favourite ways to introduce a sheepskin into a child's life is to make a fun play thing with it - a rocking sheep! A great alternative to a rocking horse, with the added tactile appeal that sheepskin can give.

We so love this idea and a few of our customers have actually done it - see Fab Fleece Fan Alice Sharple's pic below right. Isn't the final result fabulous?!!

Recommended sheepskins for children

If looking for advice on what specific sheepskin from our range to purchase for a baby or child, we would firstly recommend the white medical sheepskin. The fleece is shorn to the ideal length to be springy and supportive and is tanned using a eco-friendly, baby-safe method.

Due to their smaller size, our Lambskin Rugs are also great for little ones. Other possible options to consider would be our classic, bestselling fleeces such as Natural Cream Sheepskin Rug or the Individual Rare Breed Sheepskin.

Whatever one you choose and however its used, children are sure to get lots of comfort and enjoyment from a fleece over many years.

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