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Tiles, Laminate or Luxury Vinyl For Kitchen Flooring?

In need of a new kitchen floor, but unsure what material to opt for? There are lots of options, but a few important things to consider too. “Fitting out a kitchen is very exciting, but often you forget to think about the flooring, which is likely to be one of the largest surfaces in the room, so its selection deserves careful attention,” says Jordan Reuben, from Canadian reality series, The Property Brothers.

First and foremost, there’s your budget to consider, but keep in mind that it’s not necessarily just a question of how much the floor will initially cost to buy and fit – some types of flooring will require more specialist cleaning, for example, or may be prone to damage and wear and tear, meaning further costs down the line to replace or repair. Your choice will need to be a practical fit with your lifestyle too and, of course, you need to like it!

As Sian O’Neill, head of marketing at Topps Tiles (toppstiles.co.uk), notes: “As the hub of the home, kitchen design is of the utmost importance to homeowners, so it’s important to select flooring that is not only beautiful and hard-wearing but will stand the test of time.” Here’s a look at three key options…

1. Tiles

“Tiles are an excellent choice, as they are durable, design-led and able to stand up to the demanding conditions of kitchen spaces, with high traffic, potential spills and food mess,” says O’Neill. “Natural stone tiles provide a cosy and timeless look, especially for those living in an old country-style house. It’s worth keeping in mind that due to their porous surfaces, these types of tiles will need additional care before and after laying, to ensure they are sealed enough to last in humid areas, and to keep their finish in top condition. As long as you’re happy to maintain and look after them correctly, then the final result is luxurious and homely.” Reuben adds: “Stone flooring is available in a wide range of colours, sizes and textures, but you must ensure the stone is sealed to keep it in top condition. Remember, limestone is porous, so it will naturally suffer wear and tear. If you’re looking for a hard-wearing and totally hassle-free option, porcelain tiles are great. It can be made to replicate the look of wood or concrete. The tiles are often highly durable and fit well in a high-traffic environment.”

If you’re lusting over a gorgeous slate or marble floor – but your budget doesn’t stretch to the real thing, there are lots of lookalike tiles out there. “If natural stone isn’t the right fit for your home, there are plenty of additional options that offer the same aesthetic, but without the associated maintenance. Consider stone-effect tiles as these are waterproof, which means they’re easier to maintain and, thanks to modern technology, can now be made to look identical to the real thing,” says O’Neill. Wood-effect tiles can also offer a far cheaper alternative to real wood flooring (easier to lay and clean, too).

2. Laminate

Want the look of real wooden boards, but that’s not a realistic option budget-wise? There’s good reason why laminate flooring is a trend that’s stuck around. “Laminate wood floor is as popular as ever,” says Reuben. “It’s very modern and looks fantastic. As long as the product is factory sealed, those wine stains will just wipe away.” Josh Ashby, of UK Flooring Direct (ukflooringdirect.co.uk), adds: “Good quality laminates make a great floor for the kitchen, allowing for that authentic wood look without the drawbacks. Easy to install and maintain, homeowners can enjoy an affordable, stylish floor that will stand the test of time. More and more are now water resistant, adding to their appeal, and are suitable with underfloor heating.” Reuben notes that long laminate boards “can make any room feel bigger, whether it be dark or light flooring”, plus, “laminate is supplied in planks that are generally easy to fit, even for the novice!”

3. Luxury vinyl

“Modern vinyl is becoming increasingly popular as a cost-effective option to tiles and laminate. It comes in all different patterns, and good-quality vinyl can be very hard-wearing,” says Reuben. Sophie Hautekeete, of Quick-Step (quick-step.co.uk), agrees: “Luxury vinyl is undoubtedly the floor of the moment, offering that perfect blend of good looks, durability and ease of maintenance. Our vinyl planks have an embossed surface, which means the texture on the top surface matches the design, to create fantastic interpretations of the real floor it imitates.” A big part of the appeal is the scope of designs available. “Cushion, or sheet vinyl, has enjoyed a significant rise in popularity over the past five years, as modern methods of construction mean that wood and tile-effect designs look and feel like the real thing, with knots and grouts adding texture and interest,” says Stuart Reeves, Avenue Floors (avenuefloors.co.uk). “Design choice is almost unlimited, which means this type is often the go-to kitchen floor for those looking for performance, style and value.”

Garden Style Can Bloom Indoors and Out

You may not be ready to get out the sun-loungers until that weather’s more settled, but there’s no reason you can’t enjoy the pleasures of the outdoors, by turning your home into a nature-inspired oasis.

Blurring the boundary between inside and out and playing with botanical effects is a passion for Selina Lake, who reveals her secrets in her new book, Garden Style: Inspirational Styling For Your Outside Space.

“I hope I can inspire people to make the most of any outside space, and create everything from an outdoor living space to a garden room or a hideaway, and bring nature into decor indoors,” she says.

Here, Lake shares three looks from the book…

1. Create a cosy hideaway

“More popular than ever, garden rooms are a useful addition to any space,” says Lake. “They can be used as office spaces, crafting rooms, yoga studios, or places to enjoy a million other activities.

“You can adapt an existing building, such as a large shed, garage or greenhouse, or commission a new pod, cabin or summer house. Perhaps you’d like the garden room to reflect the garden and have a verdant, naturalistic ‘potting shed’ vibe, or you could opt for something strikingly modern that contrasts with the garden that surrounds it.

“If it’s a contemporary structure – like a glass conservatory – a great way to bring the outside in is by using green, the colour of nature, for walls and skirting boards. Green glass-bottle vases and faux plants can bring a quirky botanical feel to a sleek modern space.”

Top Tip: “If you have a surplus of blooms from your garden, cut them and arrange in galvanized metal buckets filled with water. Arrange by a doorway or at the bottom of a staircase. It creates a sense of walking through a flower garden.”

2. Bring the outside in

“Bringing flowers and foliage in from your garden to enhance your home decor is a simple detail that makes a big impact, whether you’re in need of a table centrepiece for a special occasion, a welcoming display for a hallway table, or something just to bring a smile to your face,” Lake enthuses.

“Joyful pops of vibrant colour from flowering spring bulbs are really uplifting,” says Lake. “When it comes to arranging flowers, I don’t have any rules as such. I like loose, natural-looking posies and am drawn to colour palettes that I find uplifting and will sit well with my interior.”

Top Tip: “I make black and white copies of vintage botanical prints and use brass bulldog clips to display them on a line. I also love empty seed packets, which can be grouped and used in a decorative way.”

3. Perfect the patio

“I wanted to create a simple Scandinavian look, so opted for a clean, pared-down palette of black, grey and white, teaming it with natural materials such as wood, rattan and wicker,” explains Lake.

“Lush green wisteria foliage and leafy hydrangea, lavender and tobacco plants in zinc containers and dark grey stone pots add scent and interest to my outdoor living room. I gave our tired wooden decking a face-lift with black wood stain, and like to dress the sofa and chairs with comfy cushions and throws, just as I do inside.” Top Tip: “Be ready for when the sun goes down – an outdoor rug will make a space feel cosier – and hang a cluster of string lights overhead and group candle lanterns on a coffee table.”

Garden Style: Inspirational Styling For Your Outside Space by Selina Lake, photography by Rachel Whiting, is published by Ryland Peters & Small, priced £19.99. Available to readers for special price of £14.99, inc P&P: Call Macmillan Direct on 01256 302 699 and quote ref NT5.

Alan Titchmarsh Explains How To Create A Plot For Pollinators

Alan Titchmarsh Explains How To Create A Plot For Pollinators

Alan Titchmarsh is calling on gardeners to make a metre for wildlife this summer, by providing a refuge for struggling butterflies, moths and other pollinators.

Launching Butterfly Conservation’s ‘Plots for Pollinators’ campaign, Titchmarsh, the charity’s vice president, says: “The future of our butterflies, moths and other pollinating insects is under threat, as the places where they live are disappearing. The cold start to spring may affect how some butterflies fare this year, as they could experience a delayed emergence, meaning they’ll have less time to feed and breed – but you can help by creating some ‘plots for pollinators’.

“There are so many different flowers that are great nectar sources, like catmint, cosmos or calendula,” he adds. “See if you can find just one square metre and you could attract lots of butterflies this spring and summer, like my favourite – the red admiral. It doesn’t have to be on the lawn either – you could create a vertical garden on a bit of unused wall or fence and this would make a huge difference for pollinators.”

The project encourages people to set aside one square-metre of their garden or outdoor space to plant a nectar-rich flowerbed, or a colourful container garden. Previously widespread species, such as the small tortoiseshell and garden tiger moth, have seen their numbers plummet in recent years.

Here, Titchmarsh offers some top tips on creating plots for pollinators…

1. Select your space

Measure out one square-metre of outdoor space and fill it with open-flowered, nectar-rich plants. Choose a sunny, sheltered position and group pots together on a patio, grow plants up a fence or wall, or commit an area of a flowerbed.

2. Keep watering

Water your plot regularly – ideally from a water butt, as this is more environmentally friendly. Frequent watering prevents plants from drying out during a spell of hot weather, especially when in containers, and helps flowers to produce more nectar. Remember to water the soil not the plant, as larger leaves can act as an umbrella which prevents water getting to the roots. Remove the rose from your watering can to get nearer the plant base if necessary.

3. Lay a mulch

Put a layer of mulch on the surface of the soil around the plants, to help prevent water evaporation and suppress weed growth.

4. Use peat-free compost

Always choose peat-free compost and cut down on your use of plastic. Use recyclable and recycled containers or be creative and turn tins and tubs into plant pots. Remember to drill drainage holes in the bottom to prevent water logging.

5. Dead-head blooms

Dead-heading after flowering keeps plants looking attractive and encourages more blooms.

6. Get neighbours involved

Inspire your neighbours to plant a plot for pollinators to create a flowery ‘super highway’ for the pollinating insects where you live.

7. Avoid chemicals

Avoid using harmful pesticides, by removing slugs and snails by hand instead. Night is the best time to catch these marauding molluscs in action. Once caught, release them at a safe distance from your plot.

The Plots for Pollinators project will run throughout spring and summer. To take part, visit butterfly-conservation.org/PlantPlots

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