The Insider: New term inspiration

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The Independent Online

However long you've been out of education, that new-term feeling can still kick in around now, at the start of the university year. Why not channel the fresh-start enthusiasm into your home – by learning something, or simply seeking out new inspirations…

Build your own This month at West Dean College, Sussex (, beginners can try furniture recycling, making a take-home Windsor chair and "simple furniture-making for novices".

Pallet refresher Rather learn at home? Check out product designer Nina Tolstrup's Here you can download illustrated instructions on how to make your own chair, lamp or stool – from pallets. The PDFs cost £10 each, though the stool details are free.

Sew sweet As the nights get longer, I have fantasies of cosy armchairs, open fires… and being able to sew. With its simple instructions, beautiful designs and infectious love for the process of stitching together fabrics that tell a story, Cassandra Ellis's Quilt Love (published 30 October) is fuelling them.

Inspired thinking Ellis also lists her favourite places for design inspiration; not just useful for quilting, but any interior design idea-gathering. She likes Tate Modern's Rothko room, William Morris's former home of Kelmscott Manor, and Vita Sackville-West's gardens at Sissinghurst Castle. Scour and to devise a personal ideas-boosting hit list.

Film studies Make autumnal staying in creative: watch DVDs full of exciting interiors. Google "" and "cinema style" to see the blog's illustrated hot homes filmography. My own recent loves include Take This Waltz (quirky, ordered clutter) and Moonrise Kingdom (amazing colours). Kate Burt

Find Kate's blog on affordable interiors at