Free Range Designs Blog

  • New Viking Chair for Forestry Commission

    Here are some photos of the carved viking chairs that have just been sent off to go live in a forest in Nottingham. Made from solid oak, these chairs are extremely chunky and hardwearing. They could be used as a school storytelling area or equally as handmade wooden wedding thrones. Here are more photos of the giant viking storytelling chairs 

    viking-chairs hand-carved-viking-chair carved-throne wedding thrones viking-storytelling-chair_12

  • New Compost Toilet Design

    We have been working with Ryan Frank - a fellow South African eco-furniture maker - on a new compost toilet design. Ryan Frank specialises in structures made of ply wood and together we are developing a new ply wood version of our popular composting toilets for sale.

    Here is an image of the first prototype of the new dry composting toilet. The toilet can be based on either the wheelie bin design or the twin chamber design.

    Let us know if you would be interested in having us build the first one for you at cost price.

    flat pack compost toilet
  • New Driftwood Beds for the Outdoors

    Here are some of the stunning driftwood beds we have just completed for a bijoux London B&B, who ordered four handmade wooden four poster beds at once, and gave us the unusual opportunity to photograph all four beds together.

    Destined for upmarket bedrooms, these bespoke beds also look very much at home in the great outdoors and make a surprisingly good outdoor feature.  We would love somebody to commission us to build one of these driftwood beds for their garden and have also been thinking of making a set of beds to take to festivals next year.

    With the long warm evenings  of mid-summer,  what could be better than a beautiful outdoor bed to relax and luxuriate in?

    outdoor-driftwood-beds outdoor-driftwood-beds_2 outdoor-driftwood-beds driftwood-beds_2 fairy-driftwood-bed

  • It's picnic time!

    Teddy Bears' Picnic

    Everybody loves to have a picnic and now that summer's here, with long light evenings, there are more opportunities than ever to share your favourite picnic treats with your friends.

    If you're less of a tartan-cloth-on-the-ground picnicer, and would rather sit on a proper seat at a table to eat, check out our latest picnic bench, commissioned by a customer in Anglesey.

    The picnic bench can also be made with a hole in the middle for a parasol, if summer really kicks in and you need some shade :-) 

    Picnic Bench Picnic Bench 2 Picnic Bench 3

  • Where does all our furniture go?

    From individuals, to businesses, schools and public institutions, Free Range Designs' furniture is sent off to a wide range of destinations all around the UK. Made with love and packaged with care, we say goodbye and rarely see an item again. This is why we love to get photos back from our customers of their furniture in use.

    Here are some pictures of our products in their new homes...

    Rustic Heart Garden Bench

    Rustic Heart Bench

    Sent to Melanie in Leicestershire, "Thank you for my beautiful bench. I shall have many a sunny hour sat on my stunning bench."

    Rustic Heart Garden Bench 2

    Constellations Bed

    In our field before delivery....

    Constellations Bed

    Sent to Valerie in Cambridgeshire, "Dear Paul and Suzanne, the bed is now safe in its new home and I am delighted with it!"

    Constellation Bed 1


    Slate Dining Room Table / Garden Table,

    Slate Dining Table

    Sent to See-Saw Film Studios in London, "Hi Suzanne. Attached is a photo of the table in its new home. It looks really lovely", Sam.Slate Garden Patio Dining Table

    Oak Storytelling Chair,

    Oak Storytelling Chair

    Sent to West Tytherley Primary School, Wiltshire, "We have now had the grand opening of our new '4 Seasons' learning garden and I have attached a couple of pictures of  our lovely new story chair being used on the day. We have added a circle of seating logs to the area and the children have enjoyed lots of stories and circle time sessions outdoors. Thanks again for this fantastic resource!"

    Oak Story Chair

  • Storytelling Chair Features in School Grand Opening

    West Tytherley Primary School in Wiltshire recently commissioned one of our Pixie Story Telling chairs in oak and have sent us these pictures of the chair in use with their pupils.


    "Dear Paul, We have now had the grand opening of our new '4 Seasons' learning garden and I have attached a couple of pictures of  our lovely new story chair being used on the day. We have added a circle of seating logs to the area and the children have enjoyed lots of stories and circle time sessions outdoors. Thanks again for this fantastic resource!"

  • Could You Use A Composting Loo?

    There are many places where you could use a composting toilet – anywhere, in fact, that you might need to go!

    Since our stylish compost toilets don’t need mains water, electricity or drainage, they can be installed in almost any location you might think of, and offer an ideal, ecologically friendly option for sites of all kinds. We’ve already installed composting toilets in a diverse range of sites including festival grounds, holiday accommodation sites and even a Buddhist monastery.

    Composting toilets for allotments have proved very popular, making the sites more attractive and practical for all the community. When mains toilets are not an option, the idea of being caught short when you’re busy working on your vegetable patch or of having to traipse home when you need to go can discourage people from taking on an allotment. A composting toilet is easy to install, looks attractive and stylish, doesn’t create any unpleasant lingering smells, and helps to encourage families and older community residents to make use of the allotments, all the while creating safe, natural organic compost to fertilise the soil. Allotment associations are even frequently able to get funding for projects which improve their sites in this way.compost-toilet-allotment

    Other sites where nature is important prove popular as locations for composting toilets; nature reserves, game reserves, and any other kind of site where people may be encouraged to spend time in the wilds. Other aspects of their design can prove to be beneficial too; a composting toilet doesn’t flush (you simply add a handful of carbon-rich soak) so there’s no unnecessary noise to break into the tranquillity of the area or disturb local wildlife; they can be temporary or permanent solutions, and they are simply more attractive than a plastic blue portaloo.

    The fact is, wherever people go, there’s a good chance that they’ll need to go, and they don’t often want to do so behind a bush! If you’re managing any kind of site where mains toilets aren’t an option and you want something a little more attractive, ecologically sound and with low running costs, a composting toilet is an excellent solution. Contact us online or call us on 077 594 39658 to talk to us about how our designs can help you.

  • Going Green With Style

    One of the main attractions of our composting toilets is the fact that they are an environmentally friendly option. However, it’s not just the function that makes them an ecologically sound choice – we have put a lot of hard work into making sure that their construction is just as green.

    Whichever of our toilets you choose – whether it’s the basic portable composting toilet box or a larger, complete cabin version like the Timber Arc Composting Toilet – we strive to use recycled and sustainable materials wherever possible.

    The timber we use is sourced locally, from sustainable woodlands where more trees are planted for every one that’s felled. We frequently use larch, cedar and douglas fir, but we have access to a range of timber to suit different styles and requirements.

    The most important part of the composting toilet is the urine separator. Keeping the urine separate from the rest of the waste is the key to a good, smell-free composting toilet; it’s also usable as a fertiliser in its own right when diluted with water. We were unable to find an existing product that met our requirements, so we designed the separator we use ourselves, and it’s made from recycled plastic for maximum sustainability.

    The next most important part of the toilet is, of course, the collection device. You may be surprised to learn that most of our toilets collect the humanure in a standard wheelie bin – but it’s a perfect design as it’s leak proof, rodent proof, easy to move and empty, and – mass produced as it is – cheap. You can expect many years of service from your humble wheelie bin, and when you’re using it as a composting container that’s no different.

    For composting toilets with a lower usage level, you can replace the wheelie bin with a standard bucket – again, mass produced and cheap, but effective and with a long life expectancy.

    Because we’re generally supplying composting toilets to sites without electricity or running water, as standard, that’s all there is to it – recycled plastic, sustainable timber and an ordinary wheelie bin or bucket, combining to create something that’s practical, beautiful and fantastically friendly to the environment.

  • Lovely Loos for Lovely Landscapes

    We live in a beautiful country, and it’s fantastic to be able to get out and about to explore the stunning landscape of the British Isles. However, it’s also nice to know that there are facilities nearby in case you get caught short.

    For those managing beautiful countryside sites which attract tourists, this has always caused some issues. On the one hand, if you want to encourage tourism, but want to ensure that your visitors aren’t damaging the very ecology that has brought them to you by going in the wrong place, you will need to provide toilet facilities. On the other hand, you don’t want to damage that same ecology yourself by running in water and sewerage pipes to build an out-of-place block of toilets.

    The solution, then, is simple; you need a toilet that doesn’t need mains plumbing and sewerage to function properly. Since the 1960s, the portaloo has been the standard option, but it has issues; the chemicals used to treat the waste are not necessarily environmentally friendly, and since the cabins are generally made of bright blue plastic they’re not in keeping with the landscape either. They can also get very smelly if they’re not emptied frequently enough, which can be an issue in remote locations. If you’re promoting your landscape as a destination for sustainable eco-tourism, the portaloo is really not a sustainable choice.

    For managers who want to take a step further, and not only protect but also improve their landscape, compost toilets are an ideal solution. Instead of treating the waste with chemicals and taking it away, it can instead be collected for use as compost and fertiliser, which in turn can be used in promoting the growth of local flora. By using a natural, carbon-rich soak instead of chemicals, unpleasant smells are eliminated, and by creating a stylish timber exterior instead of the traditional plastic, we have created an option that is ideal for promoting sustainable tourism.


    In some locations, it’s even possible to install a composting toilet that never needs to be emptied; our Tree-bog compost toilets are designed to have the nutrients directed straight into osier, willow or existing mature trees which purify the waste as they grow.

    Here at Free Range Designs, we offer a range of composting toilets which will be perfectly at home and in keeping with natural landscapes, and we can create bespoke designs if you have particular requirements – simply contact us for more information.

  • The Magic of Storytelling: How Stories Can Help Children Grow

    Storytelling is an ancient art that has endured the test of time because it is so important in entertaining, educating and enhancing people’s lives. We know about myths, fables, fairytales and the stories of the Bible because these were passed from person to person, until people finally wrote them down. Humans tend to think, dream, plan and remember in terms of narrative. If information is displayed in a way that is structured and interactive, then the listener is likely to remember it and also form their own ideas and evaluations based upon the story.

    How Storytelling Can Help Children Making sense of life experiences – By telling stories to children they learn that experiences are interconnected, and that events happen in a series with actions and consequences. By listening to structured stories that have a beginning, development, struggle, and then consequence, children learn to understand the structure of real life experiences as well as stories.

    Focus and engage – The act of telling a story that is interesting really helps to capture children’s attention and imagination. Once they are sat in front of a storyteller it changes the atmosphere of the room into one of anticipation and excitement, but it is also relaxing for children to become lost in a story. When the story is told, children feel more confident in expressing ideas and opinions about what they’ve just heard, and this consequently improves their spoken communication.

    Development of imagination – Naturally, when children listen to stories it stimulates their imagination. They are able to create pathways of neurons which result in ideas. If a child is captivated by a story, then they will imagine the characters, settings and actions in their own minds.  Imagination is the basis of creative thinking, as well as other thought processes such as understanding symbols, creating solutions and meaningful ideas.

    Strengthened communication skills – Listening to a story exposes children to new vocabulary that they will be keen to discover the meaning of. It also stimulates their own ideas for writing stories, and they will understand the story structure when they come to write one. It encourages discussion skills, as children are questioned on their understanding once the story is finished, and they may be keen to re-tell the story themselves to family; so this will improve their memory and re-telling skills.

    How You Can Be A Great Storyteller Engaging and enthralling children through a story doesn’t just happen automatically. It is important as a storyteller to be engaging and to awaken children’s imaginations through performance. Remember to vary your voice pitch and tone depending on which characters are speaking. Make your body respond to the story by using facial expressions to depict emotion and gestures. The more charismatic you are as a storyteller, the more the audience will be absorbed into the story.

    Another important aspect of storytelling that will help to engage children is telling the story in a captivating space. If it is a beautiful day, then storytelling in the school garden or a local park works wonders, as children will be stimulated by the fresh air. You could also set up a designated space in the classroom that has comfortable furniture, and even inspiring wall coverings such as drawings.

    You could use a storytelling chair as the centrepiece of the story space, giving the teller a special place to sit which the children can focus on. The storytelling chairs from Free Range Designs are created from natural reclaimed wood and look enchanting with their intricate designs. Storytelling chairs give the storyteller a magical quality, and they also become the gateway between the real world and the fantasy world. As you tell the story in these chairs, you can really become a part of the tale, and children will be transfixed by the chair that transports you to different worlds.



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