SELL YOUR NEW
HOME QUICKLY

FIND OUT HOW

SELL YOUR NEW HOME QUICKLY

FIND OUT HOW

Eau De Pooch: 12 Ways to Stop your Home Smelling of your Furry Friends

Love your dog but prefer a home that doesn't smell like kennel? Lisa Salmon seeks some simple steps for dealing with that poochy pong. You may feel your dog is just another member of the family - but chances are his distinct odour sets him apart from his human 'relatives'.

That poochy pong often permeates the whole house, although many owners aren’t aware of it because they get so used to it. Visitors, however, will usually be able to quickly sniff out the fact they’re entering a house where a dog lives.

Of course, considering how much joy they bring, dealing with muddy paw prints and hair on the furniture is part and parcel of living with a pet – but there are steps you can take to help minimise the stink factor.

Mandy Jones, director of rehoming services at the pet charity, Blue Cross (bluecross.org.uk), says: “Dogs like to be able to smell themselves in their home, so homes should always smell of them at least a bit. Over-cleaning and removing the smell completely could lead to a dog marking and urinating, which is obviously not desirable.”

Already have a beloved pooch, but keen to find out how to stop the whole house smelling like a kennel? These 12 tips could help…

how to stop your home smelling of dog

1. Wash the dog’s bed

Make sure the dog’s bed is odour-resistant, or at least washable. Usually, beds have a washable cover that you can slip off and put in the washing machine. The inside of the bed may not smell, but if it does you may be able to wash that too – if the washing instructions say you can, and if it’s not too big for the machine. “To minimise doggy smells, make sure they have their own bed and wash it regularly,” says Jones.

2. Wash everything else regularly

If you let the dog on the furniture, Jones suggests using throws that can be easily removed and washed. In addition, regularly wash the dog’s toys, blankets, etc. Also regularly wash your dog’s collar and lead – put them in a pillowcase first to stop the metal bits banging against the side of the washer drum. When washing doggy items, it can help to add a little apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar to the washing detergent – vinegar helps neutralise dog smells.

how to stop your home smelling of dog

3. Brush smells away

Groom your dog regularly, rather than bathing it, to keep its coat clean without washing out essential oils. Jones says bathing may cause skin problems and make matters worse.

4. Check ears and teeth

Smells don’t just come from a dog’s coat, they may also emanate from its ears or teeth, so check these areas regularly, and take your dog to the vet if you smell or spot something that could be a problem.

how to stop your home smelling of dog

5. Use an air purifier

Air purifiers can cut down on airborne odours, and good ones will not only filter particulate matter, but will also kill bacteria and fungi in the air.

6. Introduce nice smells

Although they won’t get rid of a doggy smell, (pet-friendly) air fresheners and scented candles will at least disguise it, as will simply opening windows and letting some fresh air in. “Keep rooms aired by opening windows often, and consider using incense, scented candles or pet-friendly air fresheners to keep rooms smelling pleasant,” suggests Jones. “But don’t spray the dog!”

how to stop your home smelling of dog

7. Clean the floors, carpets and upholstery

Mop hard floors with a pleasant-smelling cleaner, vacuum carpets well, and buy or hire a carpet cleaner and use it regularly to help get rid of deeply embedded dog dander, dirt and hair in both carpets and upholstery on sofas, etc. Always make sure the carpets are completely dry before allowing your dog back onto them.

8. Tackle super-smelly spots

If you’ve washed everything and there’s still a lingering smell, it could be where your dog’s soiled the floor in the past. You may have to identify the source through sniffing the floor close-up, but once you know exactly where the remaining smell is coming from, either buy an odour-repellent product, or make your own odour neutraliser by mixing two cups of white vinegar, four tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda and enough water to fill a spray bottle.

Test the solution on a hidden bit of carpet to make sure it doesn’t discolour it, and if it doesn’t, spray the mixture on the smelly area(s), let it soak in, and then blot it dry with a clean cloth.

how to stop your home smelling of dog

9. Banish with bicarb

Bicarbonate of soda can help to neutralise smells, so put an open container of it near the dog’s toys and/or bed. It can also help to sprinkle bicarb on carpets, leave it overnight and vacuum it up the next day.

10. Buy a new collar

Your dog’s collar may smell terrible, and while most collars can be washed, if it’s old, it might be best to just buy a new one.

how to stop your home smelling of dog

11. Wipe paws

Keep an absorbent door mat and towel by the door and always wipe your dog’s paws when he or she comes in the house from outside, thus preventing him/her bringing in anything smelly.

12. Dry wet dogs completely

If your dog’s been swimming or got wet, make sure you dry him completely to avoid that ‘wet dog smell’ from tainting your carpets and furniture. That means drying thoroughly with a towel, or even using a hair dryer on a cool setting if the dog lets you.

5 Fun Ways to get your Kids into the Garden this Spring

gardening with kids

Lee Connelly, aka the 'Skinny Jean Gardener', says encouraging green fingers is all about making it fun. As the weather warms up, it's time to don coats and wellies and fire up the imagination to encourage your kids to get into the garden, with fun projects to stimulate their interest.

Podcaster, former Blue Peter gardener and RHS social media host Lee Connelly, known as the ‘Skinny Jean Gardener’, is creating a children’s garden at this year’s Ideal Home Show (idealhomeshow.co.uk).

“A study by the National Trust has found that our children nowadays are spending half the amount of time outdoors as we used to when we were younger,” says Connelly. “Getting outside is all about creating memories as a family. Just getting out there, playing games and stimulating the imagination is what it’s all about.”

Fancy getting your youngsters outside for some green-fingered fun? Here, with help from his four-year-old daughter, Olive, Connelly offers five tips on how to encourage kids to get off their screens and into the great outdoors…

1. Give them their own space

Let them have their own patch in your vegetable bed or allotment. If you have limited space, use an old washing-up bowl, putting holes in the base for drainage and then creating a mini-allotment for them.

Good crops to plant include salad leaves and other fast-growing vegetables, so they can see the results quickly. “If you have an allotment, give them their own space to do what they want,” says Connelly. “It gives them a sense of responsibility. Just be there for guidance.”

gardening with kids

2. Encourage them to grow their own

“My daughter didn’t used to like eating vegetables much, until she started growing them,” says Connelly. “But start them off growing something they like eating, or they won’t care about it as much.

“Tomatoes, lettuce and peppers are a good bet. My daughter loves going to our allotment and picking the tomatoes and the strawberries and eating them while we’re down there. Pumpkins and runner beans are also good to sow.”

gardening with kids

3. Encourage wildlife

Children will be engaged when they see butterflies, beetles and other bugs. “We have a hedgehog home in our garden and we often see them in the evenings,” says Connelly. “Make your own hedgehog home – it’s cheap and easy and you can use things you have around the house. Use a plastic box that you can cut holes out of and put up against a fence line. Cover the box with natural materials such as wood. Everything needs to be accessible and easy.”

gardening with kids

4. Make wildflower seedballs

“If your kids like getting messy, this is a lot of fun,” he says. “You get clay, compost, water and wildflower seeds, mix them all together and you make these small wildflower seedballs.

“Dry them on the windowsill and then find a spare area of the garden, throw the seedballs on there and lots of wildflowers will pop up in the summer, attracting bees and butterflies.”

You can also make butterfly fizzy pop by mixing a sugary drink for them. Get a plastic bottle, put a water and sugar mix in the bottle and give it a shake to dilute it, then stuff a sponge into the neck of the bottle and hang it upside down in the garden with string. The sugary mixture will seep through the sponge, creating a magnet for butterflies.

gardening with kids

5. Make a runner bean teepee

Children love to make dens in the garden, but this one could have added interest. Create a wigwam out of bamboo, leaving a space for the entrance. You can then dig a trench around where it needs to be placed, ready to plant runner beans at the end of May or in June.

The beans will grow around the wigwam and provide shelter for the children, as well as some delicious beans. You can move it each year around the garden. Line the floor of the den with bark, gravel or matting for the kids to sit on.

Connelly’s children’s garden at the Ideal Home Show features ideas from schoolchildren, as well as his own designs. He will be hosting gardening workshops at the Ideal Home Show, open from March 22 until April 7 at Olympia London. For tickets, see idealhomeshow.co.uk.

James Martin On Time To Start Embracing British Food

James Martin Great British Adventure and food

Lauren Taylor meets the popular TV chef, after his epic road trip around the British Isles.

When it comes to TV chefs, there are only a few who’ve been chopping, frying and serving up dishes on our screens for more than 25 years – and James Martin, with his straight-talking, homely and down-to-earth manner, is one of them.

Cookery programmes have been a mainstay since Philip Harben showed BBC viewers how to make lobster vol-au-vents back in the 1940s, but even before Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson shot to fame in late-Nineties, Yorkshireman Martin was already a familiar face on telly, and has been ever since.

Following his popular foodie road-trips around France and America, he’s now back with a new show – James Martin’s Great British Adventure on ITV – plus a cookbook of the same name (his 23rd, he says).

James Martin Great British Adventure and food

Now, especially as the Brexit deadline looms at the end of March, is an important time to really embrace British food, says the chef, admitting this was one of the “fundamental reasons” for wanting to do the book and series in the first place.

“I’m a farmer, and this is an amazing country we live in. There are some amazing people producing some amazing food – whether they cook it, serve it, make it, or brew it,” Martin enthuses.

Like a love letter to Britain and its food, James Martin’s Great British Adventure takes viewers and home cooks on a journey the entire length and breadth of the land – from the Isle of Wight for feta and halloumi and Wales for the beef and lamb, to Northern Island for langoustines and Scotland for “the best fruit in the world”, along with many other gems in-between.

“It was one hell of a road trip,” Martin says. “I’ve always wanted to travel but I spent 10 years on Saturday Kitchen in the studio. I was doing home comforts that were all based here, but I wasn’t going anywhere. I wondered what it would be like, to venture out.”

He did venture out – and the result is a showcase of the best of the best; from cooking with Michelin star chefs and some of Martin’s personal food heroes – including Clare Smyth, Sat Bains and Michel Roux Snr (“I pulled my black book of chefs out”), to uncovering little known food producers and suppliers in rural locations.

It’s these people Martin is most passionate about: “The lamb farmer working in -7C up in Scotland, getting up at 5am in the morning, isn’t doing it for a new Range Rover every year – he’s doing it because he’s the seventh generation of the family, and we need to keep supporting that. If nobody shouts about it and we just travel all over the world all the time, that’s not good.”

He’s almost overflowing with stories of fascinating people and underrated produce from his exploration of the British Isles. There’s the vinegar producer in the Orkneys who set up his business in his dad’s garage, a breed of acorn-fed hairy pig called Mangalitsa in the New Forest – and another, Middle White, farmed on the Wales-Gloucestershire border. “It’s the best pork you’ll ever taste, and used to be really famous in the Thirties but now we all want pigs to look like they’ve done 100-metre hurdles, with no fat on them, but that’s where the flavour is,” says Martin.

“There are 200 Middle White sows in the world and this guy has got 100 of them – they’re rarer than the king panda” – but only because we don’t buy their meat. “People are creatures of habit,” Martin adds.

Plus, we import a lot of meat from Europe. Whatever your stance, a departure from the EU will have some bearing on this, and the British food industry in general. “There are positive and negatives,” Martin says. “Fishermen hopefully should be better off because they’ll stop exporting Dover sole and langoustine. But the offset of that is that the floodgates [of import trade] will open to New Zealand and, if we don’t sort out this bloody mess, it will decimate the lamb industry overnight.

“Everyone knows about Welsh lamb, but people always want cheaper and cheaper food – New Zealand can produce masses of it and we can’t compete against them.”

James Martin Great British Adventure and food

But the uncertainty of Brexit isn’t the only reason it’s time to take a closer look at what’s made on our doorstep. British cuisine, with its modern multicultural power, is finally having its moment in the spotlight. “Thirty years ago, we were deemed as the poor cousin around the world in terms of food, but in France I met some of the greatest chefs in the world, and their attitude towards British food and British chefs is totally different. Now we’re on a level playing field, if not better – they see London as the gastronomic capital.”

Famed for recipes that don’t overcomplicate for the sake of it, long-standing Martin fans will be be pleased to know that his latest collection stays true to that approach. “I’m still off the ethos that you should never cook anything on TV that my mum can’t get north of Watford,” he says. “I think chefs can go too restauranty and you’ll start to lose people.” And although he takes some inspiration from British classics and age-old techniques, “it’s fundamentally about the place, about the ingredients, about now”, he adds.

It’s been a long time since Martin first did work experience, aged 14, in a London kitchen, at the Park Lane Hotel (“Getting my arse kicked”) – and longevity, in a world of Instagram foodies and YouTuber cooks, is not to be sniffed at. “This book is an accumulation of 35 years of work, of knowledge, built up over the years,” he says. “And that knowledge, you can’t buy it and you can’t Instagram it.”

He’s got no time for flash-in-the-pan trends either. “The health food bloody thing or vegan month, do we need a whole month for it? We spend 11 months eating what we want, then comes January… It’s baloney,” he says, laughing.

“Food is one of the pleasures of life, and most of us don’t enjoy most things and do a job we don’t like, so for Christ’s sake, just eat what you want.”

James Martin’s Great British Adventure continues every weekday on ITV. The accompanying book, James Martin’s Great British Adventure: A Celebration Of Great British Food With 80 Fabulous Recipes by James Martin is published by Quadrille, priced £25. Available now.

James Martin Great British Adventure and food

So, if you are inspired by this article and need a stunning kitchen to work in, why not take a look at this fine property with it’s stunning Evie Willow kitchen.

8 Tips for Successfully Managing your Money as a Couple

Finances can play a big part in relationships. Vicky Shaw finds out how to set good strategies in place and avoid money fall-outs. So, love has blossomed and you think you've found the perfect partner - but are you financially compatible? Understanding each other on money issues can go a long way to making or breaking a relationship.

managing money in a relationship

“Whether you’re married, living together or just getting to know one another, it’s crucial both parties understand each other’s finances and know how they view money management,” says Emma-Lou Montgomery, associate director at Fidelity International (fidelity.co.uk).

“Being open to discussing the long-term financial plans you may have, and vice versa, can save having a lot of issues further down the line.”

Here, Montgomery shares eight tips for making sure your finances flourish in your relationship…

2019 money financial predictions

1. Don’t be afraid if one of you is a saver and the other is a spender

In a balanced relationship, having one keen saver and one more comfortable spending (within reason) can be beneficial – if it’s clear who’s responsible for what financially in the relationship. The saver can encourage a healthy attitude towards financial saving goals – be it a first home, an adventure holiday, or just cash for a rainy day. On the other hand, the spender may take on monthly living costs and cover expenses like socialising with friends and family.

2. Don’t leave your partner in the dark

All too often, couples leave one of the parties completely in the dark over bigger commitments, like savings or retirement plans, leading to misunderstandings and tension.

The money and your financial security belong to both of you, so make sure you both have at least a basic understanding of the state of your finances. It may feel daunting at first, but talking openly about your finances is so important, both when fostering new relationships or maturing in a long-term relationship or marriage.

managing money in a relationship

3. Be honest

Many people hide debts from their partner – often out of embarrassment. But honesty really is the best policy. If you’ve come to the point when securing a joint loan or mortgage makes sense, it’s crucial any unpaid debt or blips on credit scores come to light. A supportive partner will work with you to find a solution. If they’re not up to it, then better you know now rather than later.

4. Communicate when one of you earns more than the other

Pretending you earn more than you do when you first meet might seem like a good idea, but eventually the shortfall will become apparent. Communication here is key. Some couples have separate bank accounts, others keep a joint account for household expenses, some agree to split bills equally, some do it in proportion to their income, while others divide up the outgoings, with one person paying the mortgage/rent and another responsible for utility bills, for example.

managing money in a relationship

5. Don’t let ‘outside’ interests/expenses become a source of conflict

It may be that you have children from a previous relationship who need your financial support, or a hobby that requires a substantial financial outlay. If you aren’t open about the costs with your partner, these ‘outside’ expenses can become a source of conflict. Be up-front and honest, so you both can ensure you’re able to factor them in to your shared budgeting.

Often, keeping a separate pot of money or a separate account for these expenses is a good way to ensure they’re accounted for and covered. Separating them out also means they’re not a constant niggle to your partner. Setting up a direct debit to cover these costs is another way to make it easier.

6. Discuss the future now

For example, if you both want to travel the world later in life, factor that into your finances now to make sure that when you do travel, you can travel in style.

managing money in a relationship

7. Don’t be afraid to take control

While it’s good to plan together, make sure you also take responsibility for your own finances – whether it’s by opening a new savings account or contributing more into a pension.

8. Protect yourself and your partner

Nowadays, many people choose to live together for longer before getting married or without tying the knot at all. However, this can be an issue in terms of your finances. You could consider setting up an agreement to ensure that both parties are protected and assets are divided as you would wish.

Colour Pop: 11 Ways to be Inspired by Brights and Bolds

If you don't want to play it safe, aren't afraid to tread boldly, and have taken a shine to making a spring statement, then you're bang up to date with the current trend for blending deep, decadent shades with bolds and brights.

Designers love to keep us on our toes – and, as Donna Taylor, PPG colour expert and principal technical colour, says: “This year is all about embracing colour and inspiring people to use it in unique ways, whether that’s through pairing bolds with sophisticated neutrals, or being clever with palettes and design features to make the most of different spaces.”

To give you a head start on using colour with confidence, the colour stylists at Johnstone’s paint have launched three new palettes to inspire consumers to introduce bright and daring schemes – but for maximum impact, they cite the ‘feature wall’ as the biggest trend for 2019, with statement colours getting ever more popular.

Elsewhere, just as we’re finally heading towards the brighter seasons, shops are welcoming in joyful shades too.

For inspiration, check out these 11 bold buys…

2019 bright and bold

1. Johnstone’s 304028 2.5L Matt Emulsion Paint – Passion Pink, £14.99, Amazon

“The main intention of a feature wall in a room is to create a focal point and add interest to the space. To achieve this, the colour needs to be striking enough to draw the eye to it. Using bold colours will help to create impact or drama, using vibrant colours can give a sense of freshness to the space,” says Taylor.

“Bold feature walls should not be used in small spaces, as this will shrink the area further. It’s advised that pastel colours would work better on all walls and bold colours introduced as artwork, accessories and soft furnishings instead.”

2019 bright and bold

2. Coloured Shot Glasses – Set of Six, £22, Oliver Bonas

To keep it fresh and bring something new to the table – or drinks trolley – these colourful shot glasses can be used to serve cocktails alongside sweet desserts for a sense of fun.

2019 bright and bold

3. Motorised Capital Roller Blind Collection: Blinds, from £109, and Dream Motor, from £153 (operated by a DreamHub, £189), for information and stockists, visit apollo-blinds.co.uk.

With so much colour being showcased, you’ll want to keep the light flooding in. Along with being semi translucent, Apollo Blinds’ Camden range has an exceptionally wide colour palette (66 options), so there’s no excuse when it comes to hunting down your sock-it-to-me must-have shade.

2019 bright and bold

4. A by Amara Grid Crochet Cushion – Pink, £40, Amara

Who would have thought crochet could be cool again? The arts and craft movement is in full swing, and this bubble-gum pink cushion should inspire some creativity.

2019 bright and bold

5. Clarissa Hulse Angeliki Fabric – Sunset, £103 per metre, Cushions from £40, clarissahulse.com

Brooding blues and moody mauves work to spectacular effect when they collide with swathes of lustrous cotton/silk curtains with botanical designs, to mirror more exotic climes. To be even more inventive, mix brights with brights and don’t be afraid to clash colours.

2019 bright and bold

6. Broste Copenhagen Alrik Vase/Tealight Holder – Blue/Smoke Pine, £15, Amara

Having set the tone with your pot of paint, vibrant decos and flea-market finds, tealights in colourful candle-holders are an essential buy to show off those brush strokes and make inky walls look even more dramatic.

2019 bright and bold

7. Lava Lamps, £77 each, grahamandgreen.co.uk

A Sixties icon, and great investment piece, lava lamps are trending once more (did they ever really go out of fashion?). For maximum effect, more is more, especially when you can play swirls of bright bubbles in perpetual motion against existing stony neutrals. These from Graham & Green are available in four ‘groovy’ colours.

2019 bright and bold

8. Miami Collection Navy Blue Classic Velvet Sofa, from £1,695, Neon Box Sign, from £95 (other decos from a selection), grahamandgreen.co.uk

Inspired by ‘stylish Palm Beach hideouts’, this three-seater sofa with left chaise and middle element makes a great building block if you want to fast-track to a funky resort lifestyle, coupled with some kitsch accessories. Come summer, go for a glam, boho chic vibe, with pom-pom cushions, textured light fittings and vintage seashell accessories.

2019 bright and bold

9. Sara Miller London Portmeirion Chelsea Collection Cake Plates – Set of 4, £42.50, portmeirion.co.uk

Pretty as a picture, we think these decorative birds in flight would look brilliant hanging on a statement wall. Check out Pinterest for inspiration as to how to group them together.

2019 bright and bold

10. Brighton Sofa – Plush Velvet Peony, from £875 (available from late-Feb), Darlings of Chelsea

For a sense of drama, a plush velvet sofa will bring richness to any room, especially when it’s styled against that all-important dark wall. And if you can’t bear to part with a restful palette, simple dark accessories in natural materials will complement that pop of colour.

2019 bright and bold

11. Make Your Own Neon Light, £15, Oliver Bonas

If you don’t want to hang a lot of pictures on the wall, but fancy putting your name (or a message) in lights, what’s not to love about playing around with three metres of flexi wire to make your own neon sign…

Property For Sale Early Preview

We’ve rushed to get this short video preview available to view today, which means our house buyers can have an exclusive preview before the property goes to the open market in the Spring / Summer.

  • Grounds of almost 4 acres (yet to be checked)
  • Vast Kitchen / Family room
  • Around 4,500 sq. ft. of space

Located in sought after Long Sutton in Hampshire, the estimated guide price is £2.0m. and further details are available from our Odiham branch – telephone 01256 704851

Luxury Contemporary Property For Sale Preview

This is a property preview of a truly stunning detached New England style home occupying a mature plot measuring approximately 0.6 of an acre, in the heart of wonderful countryside in the charming hamlet of Hazeley Lea, just three miles north of Hartley Wintney.

Take a look at the preview video above and be impressed with the breathtaking high specification space.

New to the market - Guide £2,150,000

The luxurious accommodation is arranged over three floors, providing around 4,500 sq. ft. of exquisite space, including a vast high specification kitchen/breakfast/family room by Evie Willow. In addition to the comprehensive range of fitted units and a central island with seating, wall to wall bi-folding doors open to the Southerly rear garden and bar/terrace area and swimming pool.

luxury kitchen by Evie Willow property for sale
luxury kitchen by Evie Willow property for sale
Luxury Evie Willow Kitchen / Family Room

Further ground floor accommodation includes a fine reception hall, triple aspect sitting room with log burner, home office, play room, utility room, cloakroom and a bedroom with en-suite bathroom / wet room shower

reception hall property for sale
A fine reception hall

There are six bedrooms in total, and the sweeping staircase leads to the first floor with the master bedroom and three further double bedrooms, all with fitted storage and en-suites. On entering the master bedroom suite there is a stunning bespoke Evie Willow dressing room, a superb en-suite bathroom / shower room and a vast bedroom space.

vast master bedroom property for sale
The vast master bedroom
en-suite dressing room to master bedroom by Evie Willow
The luxury Evie Willow en-suite dressing room to the master bedroom
en-suite to master bedroom property for sale
Luxury en-suite bathroom and shower room to master bedroom

The second floor features a further bedroom with en-suite bathroom and an additional room which could be used as a games/cinema room or bedroom.

Guest bedroom property for sale
Superb Guest bedroom suite
en-suite to guest bedroom property for sale
En-suite to above bedroom

The south facing rear garden is mainly laid to lawn and flanked by trees. Immediately to the rear of the property is a large patio area which leads to a heated outdoor swimming pool which is run by air source heat pumps. To the front is a gravel driveway with parking for several vehicles leading to a double carport with wood store and storage shed.

swimming pool property for sale
Heathed swimming pool

Further features include underfloor heating to the ground and first floor, Cat 5 cabling and a Sonos speaker system. There is active planning permission in place for further extension works to include an indoor swimming pool or space for gym/studio.

Located around thirty five miles from central London, the property is particularly well placed for the commuter, with both the M3 (j4a 6 miles) and M4 (j. 11 9 miles) motorways within easy reach providing easy access to the Thames Valley corridor and motorway networks.

Mainline stations at Winchfield (about 6 miles), Reading, Basingstoke, Hook and Fleet provide fast and regular rail services to London Paddington or Waterloo. Heathrow Airport is about 35 miles and Farnborough Airport is about 12 miles distant. All distances and times are approximate.

For further details telephone 01252 620640.

Check out how video can enhance a property sale or let.

Hoping to sell your home? 11 Value-slashing pitfalls to avoid

Ahead of the spring selling season, an industry expert outlines some common 'blunders' that could put off potential buyers. By Vicky Shaw.

With the spring house-selling season around the corner, many home owners eyeing a move in 2019 may already be sprucing up their properties to get them ready for market.

But while moving can be an exciting time, estate agents warn that it’s easy to make blunders while trying to sell, which could potentially knock value off your property – and some of these may be quite surprising.

Mark Bentley, president of NAEA (National Association of Estate Agents) Propertymark, cautions: “Sometimes the improvements and changes you have made might make the property less attractive to buyers. So before you start marketing your home, it’s worth taking stock and making any necessary alterations, to give you the best chance of securing your asking price.”

For those in two minds about making changes, he suggests: “You can ask friends or family for their honest opinions, or your estate agents can help advise on any small changes you may want to make before placing your home on the market.”

Of course, the extent to which something would add or take away value from a home can vary, depending on factors such as individual circumstances and local market conditions.

With that in mind, here are some of the key factors that NAEA Propertymark members have experienced as having a negative impact on a property’s value…

Phil Spencer home buyer questions

1. Over-personalisation

People’s homes suit their personalities. But if you like your decor big and bold, it may be worth toning it down a bit – unless you can find a buyer who has similar taste. Typically, modestly-decorated homes are most desirable, as home owners can easily see how they could make it their home.

2. Property condition

Tell-tale indications of damp, cracks on walls, a poor roof condition, an old boiler, and single-glazed windows can all impact on the value of a property – and interest from buyers.

extension-property-hampshire-diy-renovation

3. Bad presentation

Show off your home at its best. Everything should be clean, clutter tidied away, and any outstanding DIY jobs should be finished. If a home smells fresh and clean, it has a much greater chance of selling quickly.

4. Swimming pools

They may be great fun in the summer, but swimming pools in the UK can put some potential buyers off – although others may be wowed. As well as the issue of maintenance, pools take up space, and some buyers may see them as a hassle.

If a property has an outside swimming pool that is run down, owners might want to consider filling it in. But if it’s great condition, then selling the home in the summer could show the pool off at its best.

tips for selling your home

5. Not having the right paperwork

If you have had work carried out while living in the property, such as extensions or conversions, make sure you obtained appropriate planning permission and building regulations, and have access to these documents. If you haven’t got the right documents, you may have to pay for them retrospectively before agreeing a sale.

6. Darkened rooms

If you’ve planted lots of bushes and trees close to the windows, your home may appear gloomy to buyers. Frosted glass windows or netted curtains can also sometimes have the same effect.

property interior

7. Japanese knotweed

If you think you can see any in your garden, call a professional to excavate is as soon as possible.

8. Clutter

Clean each room from top to bottom, paying special attention to ‘high-impact’ rooms, such as the kitchen and bathroom. Things like too much furniture, children’s toys and unused gym equipment can make your property feel smaller.

tips for selling your home

9. Dated fixtures and fittings

Kitchens are often the focus for buyers, so it’s important they don’t look too outdated. Painting kitchens and replacing cupboard handles and old taps can be a cost-effective way of getting kitchens up-to-date.

10. Over-improving

As well as not doing enough, you can do too much. For example, putting fake grass in the garden may have benefited your sporty family but it may not appeal to buyers who love the smell of a freshly-cut lawn. Keep improvements simple.

11. Not being energy-efficient

A home’s energy performance has become increasingly important, so if your home needs an energy efficiency boost, consider steps to make it happen, such as installing double glazing.

sold board

To discover more about the local market and how your home could thrive with the assistance of McCarthy Holden, contact your local branch:
Estate Agents Fleet, Estate Agents Hartley Wintney, Estate Agents Odiham.

7 simple steps for creating a stylish – and productive work space at home

A work station that suits your taste and needs will surely help bolster motivation and focus. Time to show who's boss, says Gabrielle Fagan.

Working from home can be the ultimate dream ticket – no more commuting or having to dress formally, or worry about office politics – and even better, you get to escape all that dreary corporate decor.

“Cutting down on wasteful travelling time, enabling you to spend more time with the family, is just some of the many benefits to home-working, and it can be particularly beneficial from a health and wellbeing perspective,” enthuses Susan White, marketing director at blinds and curtains specialists, Hillarys.

If you’re set to join the millions who work from home, look on it as the perfect chance to tailor a space to suit your taste and needs.

We’ve done the homework for you and devised seven simple but stylish steps, so you can make light work of creating the perfect home office…

stylish working at home decor

1. Make it personal

At home, you’re the boss, and you can truly indulge your taste and have the freedom to express your personality in the decoration of your ‘office’.

In an open-plan space, zone an area with a stunning wall mural, or cork tile an expanse of wall so you can pin up inspiring photos or to-do lists.

Alternatively, paint a wall with black chalkboard paint, to transform it into a wipeable surface for scribbling ideas, plans, or simply expressing yourself. (Rust-Oleum Black Magnetic Matt Chalkboard Paint, £14 for 750ml, B&Q, is ideal for the job.)

TIP: If you fancy it, don’t be afraid to incorporate pattern and colour into your office scheme. Research has found that both can actually help keep you creative and stimulated at work. For a perfect balance, keep energetic colours in your periphery, while sticking to a more subdued look for the desk.

2. Pretty up with pink

If you’re after a softer scheme, reduce the risk of workplace stress by choosing a calming colour for a work area. Pink is reputedly a positive colour, inspiring warm, comforting feelings and imparting a sense that everything will be all right – and who doesn’t like the sound of that?

stylish working at home decor

3: Kill the clutter

Keeping a tidy office is crucial to staying on top of things. Organising and filing loose papers means you’ll spend less time searching for them – coping with clutter is a big time-waster.

Filing cabinets, desks with compartments, and accessible floating shelves for file boxes are a good investment. Don’t let a notice board be all to-do lists and bills though, or you won’t ever want to look at it.

TIP: Keep everyday essentials close to hand, so there’ll be less temptation to get up and wander. If you know you’ll need frequent caffeine top-ups, you could even keep a little coffee-maker or kettle near the desk, and a mini-fridge stocked with cold drinks.

4. Carve out a creative corner

“Not everyone has an entire room, or even an entire wall, to dedicate to an office. But that doesn’t mean you can’t carve out a space somewhere in your home, be it a landing, bedroom or corner of a living room, to let your creative juices flow,” says White.

“Whatever you use your home office for – computer work, home and life admin, or crafts and projects – an effective work area demands plenty of light. Equally, you don’t want glare on your screen, so choose your window dressings wisely.

“Shutters and Venetian blinds have adjustable louvres and slats, so you can control the amount of light and are also great for privacy and security,” adds White. “If you’re easily distracted, opt for a sheer roller blind. It’ll still let in plenty of light, but you can pull it down to block out distractions from the outside world when you need to focus.”

TIP: Set clear ground rules for your work space, such as asking family to knock before coming into your office, or respecting quiet time between certain hours. Make this easy, and visual, for young children by using a traffic light system (a green circle on the door means ‘come in’; yellow means ‘ask first’, and red means ‘do not disturb’).

stylish working at home decor

5. Dress the desk

One of the best things about working from home is not being in a stuffy, boring office. So why re-create that at home?

Instead, include pleasing decorative elements, such as a vase full of flowers and colourful storage pots, so you can enjoy the comforts of home all through the working hours.

TIP: Setting priorities is important in an office, and even more so when working from home, as doing so will help you stay on track and not get overwhelmed. Without a boss hovering or work-mates to bounce ideas off, it’s up to you to put your to-do list in order. Use technology to help, with mobile reminders and alerts.

6. Show who’s boss

A shade of dark green, paired with black furniture and office accessories, gives decor a strong visual impact and, crucially, creates a business-like look for an office. This is especially important if clients are going to visit and you want to convey a professional image.

TIP: Never skimp on expense when buying an office chair. After all, you may spend hours sitting on it, and it’s vital that it’s comfortable and fully adjustable so you avoid muscle strain and back pain.

stylish working at home decor

7. Black is back

Sleek, black furniture spells executive style, never dates, and you’ll win compliments for your chic taste.

TIP: A properly lit space is crucial to maintaining your mood, productivity and health. Bad lighting can strain eyes, especially if you’re staring at a bright screen in the dark. Layer light, so you can have clear overhead light if necessary, a decorative table lamp with a warm glow when you’re thinking rather than focusing, and always have an adjustable desk lamp so that paperwork is properly illuminated.

10 of the most popular flooring options – which should you use in your home?

The unsung heroes of every room, Luke Rix-Standing runs through the key pros and cons of some of the most popular flooring materials.

flooring options different ideas

They may not be the latest 3D-printed armchair or voice-activated speaker system, but your floors are, quite literally, the foundation of your home.

A classic blend of fashion and function, a floor must tie a room together while fulfilling a range of – very important – practical requirements too. While aesthetics are a key consideration, in general, flooring should be relatively unobtrusive. It’s the defensive midfielder of home decor: If you don’t notice it, it’s probably doing a good job.

Here’s a look at 10 of the most common options – what they’re good at, and what they’re not…

1. Wood

Summarising wood flooring is like summarising a clothing fabric – there’s a lot of different forms it could take. Oft-neglected softwood floors can work wonders in low-footfall areas, but as the name suggests, they can struggle with the rough and tumble of a busy family home. Most modern wood floors are hardwood – highly coveted surfaces that can also add serious value to a property.

Relatively pricey, prone to scratching and potentially sensitive to moisture, hardwood flooring is nevertheless popular in living areas for its elegant appearance and underfoot warmth. For a tougher, cheaper alternative, try laminate – fibreboard printed with a high-res image of a wooden finish, which these days can look practically as good as the real thing.

flooring options different ideas

2. Tile

For such a popular flooring choice, tile has a long list of drawbacks: It’s relatively difficult to repair if it cracks or gets damaged; the grouting easily accumulates dirt; sock wearers risk slipping; it gets extremely cold in wintertime – and it’s not even that cheap.

But a tough, durable surface makes tile pet-friendly, and most flooring shops offer a near-infinite array of colours and patterns – from Victorian florals to abstract collage – so in terms of aesthetic appeal and style, the possibilities really are endless and tiles can look truly striking. The bathroom surface of choice for generations of homeowners, being easy to clean, tiling also brushes up nicely in the kitchen and pantry.

3. Carpet

A go-to for rooms with soft furnishings, carpet can be both chic and cosy has refreshingly clear pros and cons. The good: It’s warm, insulating, generally cheaper than wood or tile, and can be fashioned into almost any design. The bad: Stains easily, struggles with moisture, traps dust and pet hair, and needs to be replaced when worn down. And while we’re at it, the ‘ugly’: The infamously tasteless carpets at Las Vegas casinos.

Do – bedroom and sitting room. Don’t – bathroom and kitchen.

flooring options different ideas

4. Cork

Cork floors aren’t as common a sight as they perhaps once were – but, honestly, we’re not sure why. Soft to the touch, naturally insulating against sound and temperature, relatively cheap and eco-friendly, the reddish-brown patterns tally particularly well with hardwood furniture. The drawbacks? Fades in direct sunlight, prone to water damage, and may distort under table legs and other pressure points.

5. Vinyl

The IKEA wardrobe of home flooring, this low-cost option is all the rage among practical homeowners with middling budgets. Approachable prices partner with a performance level that reliably returns more than you paid for.

Vinyl looks pretty good (there are lots more design options available now), insulates well, repels water and soaks up high footfall nicely – but it can be prone to fading in sunlight and is easily dented by sharp objects. Vinyl lacks the elegance of hardwood and the comfort of cork or carpet, but it’s a functional surface that will serve you well with some tender loving care.

flooring options different ideas

6. Concrete

Strange though it may seem, this staple of the multi-storey car park is also a creditable option for your front room or kitchen floor. Virtually indestructible, concrete adds a modern, almost post-industrial vibe to the home, and partners well with underfloor heating. But the sturdiness comes at the expense of comfort – it’s really hard – and even well-finished surfaces can look a little bleak. At least you’ll have plenty of excuses to go rug shopping.

7. Rubber

A little left turn, we’ll admit – but this unconventional pick is sure to raise eyebrows, if just from the slight bounce it elicits when stepped on. A highly durable choice, with superb sound insulation.

However, rubber can also be more on the expensive side, and difficult to clean. It’s commonly used for it’s shock-absorbing qualities – think spaces with a high risk of heavy objects being dropped, such as gyms. Rubber is a horse for a course: Perfect for a music room or home gym, and possibly a bold choice for style junkies elsewhere in the house.

flooring options different ideas

8. Stone

Given that most of the world’s rocks have looked after themselves just fine for centuries, it should come as no surprise that a stone floor is supremely hard-wearing and low-maintenance. Literally hewn from the ground, stone tiles are eco-friendly and ideal for high footfall areas like hallways.

On the flip-side, imperfections may result in a surface that’s uneven – literally and stylistically – while a high-ish price tag puts off some buyers. Stone tiles can also be foot-freezingly cold in winter, and for God’s sake don’t drop any plates.

9. Marble

If your domestic vision involves grand banisters, neo-classical columns and high-end toga parties, then marble is a go-to (we jest – it’s an all-round stunning material). But there are cons too… It can chip, costs the earth, and can be dangerously slippy under slippers or socks. Long a linchpin of luxury, a marble floor could well add serious value to a home, but comes with severe cold feet syndrome, and weeks of bruising every time you bump your knee.

10. Bamboo

A relative newcomer to the flooring scene, bamboo has found a growing niche with eco-conscious householders looking to go au naturel. The world’s fastest growing plant (technically a species of oversized grass), bamboo is attractively textured, goes well with modern interiors, and is highly sustainable. Bamboo can be fairly expensive though and will need a little more TLC than some of the hardier materials. Lots of appeal, but be sure to do your research before you buy.

flooring options different ideas

House Buyers Ignore Brexit in January

house buyers ignore brexit image

With the first month of 2019 trading behind us, it appears that despite the chaos in the Palace of Westminster around Brexit, house buyers are simply getting on with making decisions around matters of day to day life, which are the drivers for a house move.

All of the McCarthy Holden branches experienced an uptake of buyer interest in January and the McCarthy Holden web site enquiry hits were up on the January 2018.

Whilst it is too early to comment on the market direction for 2019, it nevertheless appears that house buying decisions are mostly made by very localised factors such as schooling, access to work and general employment levels and family situations ranging from the three D’s (death, divorce and debt) through to the three N’s (new job, new baby, new beginnings).

high levels of house sales image

Amongst the Estate Agents in Fleet, our own branch had a particularly productive January with, witnessed by events such as £3.4m. worth of residential property sales exchanging contracts in just one 24 hour period.

As we said in our 2018 / 2019 market review, who knows, there might well be some pleasing outcomes to report at the end of 2019.

So, if you are considering a move this year, now is a great time to get ahead of the competition by calling one of our property experts for a free, no obligation, advice on how is best to market your home.

×
Find a Property
M
Country & Equestrian