Ask Antonia

PUBLISHED: 14:45 28 June 2011 | UPDATED: 19:37 20 February 2013

Ask Antonia

Ask Antonia

Essex Life interiors expert Antonia Edwards answers your questions

Im looking for some contemporary cutlery to give someone as a house-warming gift. Where can I find something a bit different?

You wouldnt normally think of your knife and fork as potentially decorative, but there are plenty of sets that are guaranteed to bring some drama and personality to the table.
A couple of stylish designs in the Pied a Terre range at House of Fraser include the luxurious black Persia Onyx 24-piece cutlery set for 130 (pictured) and the Peacock 24-piece set for 95, where each piece is etched with a unique peacock design. Visit House of Fraser at Lakeside, West Thurrock (0844 800 3737).
For something even more decadent, take a look at the Midas 24-piece gold-plated cutlery set by Seletti. For 155 from Heals ( its a guaranteed talking point at dinner parties.
Lastly, if youre after something classic with a modern twist, Id look at designs by William Welch at Studio William. The elegant Olive set is stainless steel with a mirror finish and has an asymmetric Larch design, influenced by traditional 17th century horn handle cutlery. Its available at John Lewis. Call 08456 049 049 to find out more.

Id like to set up an aquarium in our living room. Where can I find a free-standing tank thats modern and stylish?

Fish tanks arent a commonplace feature in most of the interiors we see in the glossy mags, but this may be set to change. A company called biOrb have brought out a stylish range of fish tanks that go one step further than your conventional rectangular designs. The range includes the BiOrb PURE, a slimline cylinder which comes in clear or blue tint, and the BiOrb LIFE which has high gloss curves (pictured above) and comes in three colours Chilli Red, Piano Black and Ice White. The tanks use special ceramic media which has a surface area equivalent to the size of a football pitch to provide biological filtration. All biOrb LIFE aquariums are also supplied with an LED light that automatically replicates a natural 24-hour light cycle. Check out for local stockists.
If youre looking for somewhere to purchase fish or fish keeping equipment, Id recommend Swallow Aquatics (Rayleigh 01268 781265 and Colchester 01206 242521) who can offer expert advice on maintaining your aquarium.

Ive several picnics and barbeques planned this summer. Can you provide some inspiration on fun, al fresco picnicware?

Strawberries and cream, crisp salads and sizzling sausages are high on the agenda in July. For practical and colourful picnicware, here are some affordable ideas for an al fresco feast.
If florals are you thing, Cath Kidston always brings out a winning range of charming picnicware, such as the Daisy melamine range of jugs, plates, bowls and tumblers. For a garden party feel, the gorgeous English Rose paper napkins (pictured) are the perfect accompaniment to cupcakes or cucumber sandwiches (visit
From colourful trays to carry your Pimms on to polka dot cutlery by Sabre, Simply Living (Colchester 01206 367333) has plenty of summer dining treats on offer. In particular Emma Bridgewaters Dancing Mice melamine range of picnicware would go down a storm with the children.
Last but not least, spice up your ice cold cocktails with some novelty ice cubes. Marks & Spencer are doing a silicone fish ice cube tray for just 3.50 that is worth looking out for at

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