Holden Astra Sportwagon checks in

Holden Astra Sportwagon

VW Golf-rivalling Holden Astra Sportwagon hits showrooms next month

Tuscan Countryside Villa Wraps Minimalism in Warmth

Rachele Biancalani Studio in collaboration with technician Matteo Bonechi completed the design of First Love Villa, a family retreat in the Tuscan countryside, between Florence and Arezzo, Italy. The owners, a couple with a young son, wanted a home that was modern yet highly welcoming.

The designers achieved this by using warm colors and finishing materials throughout the villa. “The sophisticated taste for design objects has been met with the choice of furnishings and lighting fixtures of the highest quality brands such as Lake, Midj, Ernesto Meda, Flos, Kartell and Foscarini that find space in this minimal interior but with enveloping heat,” Biancalani said.

The open-space living environment includes four functional spaces: a reading corner with a comfortable armchair; a large dining table for six; a living room with modular slide sofa by Daniele Lago, TV area and fireplace; and finally the kitchen at a lower level that is reached by descending a couple of steps. Exposed wooden beams and walnut flooring make the social spaces feel inviting.

The bedroom is fully furnished with Lago furnishings; the custom headboard integrates strip lighting for a modern touch. The symmetry of the room is enriched by twin drawer units, which are not identical in form. A transparent bronze glass sliding door separates the walk-in closet area. Photography by Thomas Dell’Agnello and Rachele Biancalani Studio.

The post Tuscan Countryside Villa Wraps Minimalism in Warmth appeared first on Freshome.com.

5 Amazing Countries to Visit on a Student Budget

You’ve been studying hard this term, so a proper vacation is due. Preferably, the one including traveling outside of the US, with solid cultural immersion, rich sightseeing and… affordable costs of stay.

I do my essays well and now I’d like to rest well, too. But my budget is limited, where could I go for that kind of money? Chances are high you were in a situation like that many times. Funds are scarce, friends have already planned out their vacation but you couldn’t join because of being low on dough.

Say no more! With these 5 amazing holiday destination points fit for even the tightest pocket you’ll both have great time and stay within a restricted budget.


In the footsteps of Netflix’s critically acclaimed Narcos, Colombia is one of the most hyped and attractive countries to visit in South America. Here you have the Caribbean coast, Amazon jungle, Andean mountains, as well as a unique mix of Spanish, Caribbean and Indigenous cultures. Plus, Colombia is an astoundingly cheap country in terms of accommodation and cuisine. For only $30 a day you could have a hands down amazing pastime in this exotic country.


A little bit mainstream variant but still the one to consider. You won’t be traveling too far, still you’ll be exploring deathly desserts, fuggy jungles filled with rich wildlife, white-sand seashores and desolated lagoons. In addition, vibrant atmosphere of Mexico City won’t leave you indifferent, that’s for sure. In terms of finances, the country is even a cheaper option than Colombia – $25 a day will be sufficient enough to provide for the accommodation, food, drinks and entertainment.


Although the flight to India will be quite costly, the actual stay in the country will be relatively cheap – $20 a day on average. Today, India is a popular destination for students and young people, looking to explore a unique culture and exquisite nature. Lots of places to visit both in rural and urban areas, cheap prices for accommodation and foods, as well as unforgettable traveling experience are all included in the trip package. Booking a flight in advance to save some money would be a great idea.


Visiting Europe is usually associated with rather serious expenditures. However, there’re a couple of options you’ll find attractive. First and foremost, it’s necessary to mention Europe’s most heavily kept traveling secret – Albania. Located in Central Europe, it borders on Macedonia, Greece and Montenegro, offering amazing beaches on the coasts where Ionic Sea meets Adriatic, and picturesque villages high in the mountains, which seem like they’ve been frozen in time for centuries. Daily budget – $40.


In case mostly maritime pastime in Albania is a bit above your budget, opt-in for one of the most affordable vacations spent in Romania. It’s capital – Bucharest, is also known as “Eastern European Venice”. Daily budget titters around $30, which is as budget-friend as it only can be in Europe. Enjoy country’s distinctive culture, Bucharest’s architecture and lively night life. Have many of your US friends been to Romania? Be among the first to boast spending a vacation in a country no one even knows to actually exist!

The post 5 Amazing Countries to Visit on a Student Budget appeared first on YourAmazingPlaces.com.

We Asked Interior Designers: What Small Changes Make the Biggest Difference?

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small design changes

Give your rooms a fresh look with these designers’ best tips. Image: Catherine Staples Interiors

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Sometimes interiors need change. Whether your style feels a little too outdated or your tastes have changed, making over the rooms in your home is a great way to give yourself a fresh start. However, for most of us, taking on the cost of a complete redesign is not always feasible, even if an update is sorely needed.

With that in mind, we called in the pros. We asked top interior designers to share their best tips on which small design changes make a big difference. Keep reading to learn how you can make a huge impact on your home without breaking the bank.

Bold accent wall

Go bold with your accent wall. Image: LMB Interiors

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1. Add an accent wall

“To drastically change the look and feel of a room without spending a lot of money, paint an accent wall,” advises Todd W. G. Corder, the founder of Deja vu Decor. “A pop of color will instantly draw the eye and is a great way to liven up a room with no more than the cost of a can of paint.”

Where accent walls are concerned, there are a few details to keep in mind. The first is placement. Technically, any wall can be used as an accent, but it really should highlight your focal point. In living rooms, this can mean placing the accenting color around a mantle or some built-in shelving. In bedrooms, by the headboard is best.

Aesthetics are the other consideration. A bright paint color certainly does the job, but it’s not the only option. Darker neutrals like black or chocolate brown serve the same purpose. Contrasting materials can also be used. Wallpaper is an excellent choice, as is a patterned tile or even wood paneling.

Vary texture

Use texture to add visual interest. Image: Thomas Towne Reavey Inc.

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2. Vary the texture of accessories

“Texturizing a room is a game changer. Accent pillows in varying fabrics and shades can add another layer of depth to a room. Another opportunity to add texture is through the materials that your accessories are made from. Consider using metals, woven baskets and blankets,” says Dawn Stafford, the owner of Gathering Souls, a concierge design service in Fairfax, VA.

Conceptually, texture can be a bit hard to pin down. The best way to think of it is by evaluating how an item looks like it feels. Take the picture above, for example. Consider how you’re easily able to tell that the surface of the coffee table feels rough, while the blanket on the couch is soft.

Successful interior design is all about layering these contrasts. When you’re sprucing up a room on a budget, take stock of the textures in the accessories you already own. Then, look for additional items that would serve as their opposite. If need be, consider moving your existing accessories to different rooms as a way of giving your home an update that’s free of charge.

layer lighting

Include various types of lighting. Image: Black and Milk

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3. Re-evaluate lighting

“You’ll need lighting in all the corners of the room; try to avoid just one ceiling light,” says Sarah Elsley, the voice behind Dream of Home. “Use wall lights and floor lights together, so the lighting isn’t concentrated to one place and spreads in an even glow around the room.”

There are four distinct types of lighting you can incorporate into a space. They are:

  • Natural: Any light that comes into your home from the outside via doors and windows.
  • Ambient: Light meant to illuminate the entire room, usually from an overhead source.
  • Accent: A light source that’s meant to highlight a particular feature of the room.
  • Task: Lighting used for a specific purpose, such as desk lamps or reading lights.

Ideally, a room involves a combination of these light sources. Take stock of the lighting you have in place and then look for which types are missing. Fill in the gaps where needed and you’ll be surprised how much of a difference you’ll see.

style your surfaces

Styled surfaces give your home a curated look. Image: Alvhem Mäkleri & Interiör

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4. Give surfaces deliberate style

“Coffee tables, side boards and bookshelves scream to be styled. It is amazing what you can pull together from the items in your own home. No need to go shopping for knickknacks; try shopping in your home first,” suggests Ana Cummings, the owner of ANA Interiors.

Pulling off this tip is all about having the arrangement look intentional. In all honesty, the items you put on these surfaces aren’t as important as how you display them. Do your best to lay out your items in groupings, stick to odd numbers and be sure to vary the pieces in terms of their direction, size and color. If need be, you can always look for some design inspiration to help you get started.

small design changes

Sometimes small changes make a big difference. Image: International Custom Designs

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No matter what your personal style is, at some point, you’re probably going to want to change things up. When that happens, there’s no need to wait until you’ve saved enough money to redo the whole room. Even the pros say small design changes can make all the difference. Keep their advice on hand for the next time you need to shake up your interiors. Their tips will help you make a huge impact at an affordable price.

Which design tip is your favorite? Do you have any other questions you’d like to ask the pros? Put your thoughts in the comments.

The post We Asked Interior Designers: What Small Changes Make the Biggest Difference? appeared first on Freshome.com.

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