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House Market Comment During Covid-19 Lockdown

covid-new-heading-item-news-page

Insight from last week

A week on from Covid-19 lockdown, and we are starting to get used to living and working in a very different way with some success, a lot of challenges and the unexpected.

We temporarily closed our branches last Monday evening as part of the lockdown process going on throughout the U.K. Right up to that day the market was fairly busy with last minute viewings, during which we conducted the systems of safe distance, latex gloves etc. which we had introduces weeks prior to the lockdown.

In the last week there were many practical issues, such as the six house sales completions on the day the Government suggested house moves be deferred. All six went ahead, because it was just too late to stand down and three of the transactions were in fact to empty properties. On the lettings front, we had different challenges such as it being virtually impossible to get independent inventory inspectors to attend tenancy check in and check out. Many tenants are now opting to extend their existing leases.

House Move Timing

Only three existing house sales fell through, and in each case there was an elderly persons on either the vendor or purchaser side. In such circumstances it wasn’t surprising and bearing in mind the hundreds of house sales we handle at any given time, the loss of three was minimal in context.

In fact, in the vast majority of house sale cases both parties are simply proceeding to exchange and agreeing a late completion date, which in some cases is capable of being brought forward by the parties agreeing a 28 days notice. So, most existing sales are managing along these lines.

McCarthy Holden estate agents sold board

What about creating new house sales?

Creating new house sale is not so easy, with the ability to do in-person viewings now removed. What is happening instead is that buyers are continuing to show keen interest, and simply asking to be place on a viewing list for when the in-person viewings are capable of being undertaken again.

Inventive solutions by our vendors

The biggest surprise this week, was in the form of many clients asking if we could produce video content of their property if they sent us video clips and still photographs.

McCarthy Holden is well known for using video to showcase properties for sale, so our wonderful customers decide to put their spin on this endeavour and suggested a collaborative approach.

Vendors send us the video clips. and then with some editing help from johnjoe.co.uk a promotional video tour is created.

Check out this first creation below from one of our wonderful clients in Fleet, Hampshire who is selling this house which is guided at £750,000.

Now this first collaborative video is a little too long, but the home owner is such an engaging person and so at ease with talking to camera we have run with most of her content.

We are now issuing guidelines to our video focused vendors, which includes the specification of 1920 x 1080 size and MP4 output. The ideal duration for a full property video tour online is 4 minutes. This means the file size is suitable for quick streaming online and also, it is at the maximum time a potential buyer is likely to watch a video.

We also supply links to a some recent videos produced by johnjoe.co.uk which might help vendors plan for capturing some content at home.

Teaser short video – https://vimeo.com/392560182
Normal full length – https://vimeo.com/390207931
Normal full length (just agreed a sale last week 1,300 views of video) – https://vimeo.com/356168136

We look forward to many of these collaborative home grown marketing initiatives in the weeks ahead.

We will keep our customers in touch with market conditions and news through our newsletter, which is free to subscribe to.

We wish you a safe week ahead.

John Holden

Chairman and Managing Director – McCarthy Holden

House Market Comment and Covid-19

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After a week of extraordinary events, full of contrasts and extremes, this news item provides insight into the impact of Covid-19, at a time when house sellers, landlords, buyers and tenants alike are naturally concerned. Chairman and Managing Director John Holden, provides a shop floor snapshot of recent events and details about forward planning for the months ahead.

Today's Insight – Tomorrows Plans

These times are undoubtedly a time of extraordinary contrasts and extremes, where decisions made one day are buffeted by the events of a new day.

A time where yesterday’s commitments are questioned and where planning for the future is sometimes about considering a worse case scenario.

But the extraordinary thing about the last few days and weeks, is that whilst as a business leader I have to prepare for my worse case business planning, I wake up every morning to a still busy day ahead on all fronts creating property transactions on lettings and property sales.

This last week’s trading typifies the juxtaposition between planning for the worse, but still experience the best in terms of trading for now. In just the last few days we have seen properties exchange contracts, we have arranged new homes sales on properties from around £360,000 in Bagshot through to multiple deals in the £2m. to £5m. country house sector, conducted viewing in the £4m. to £5m. sector, watched many existing sales in progress to exchange of contracts, and we have seen many new lettings being agreed in preparation for a move in next week, and finally we had a diary full of property viewings for this Saturday. Extraordinary activity in the circumstances.

Do you have a country house for sale? We have a waiting list of buyers looking right now.

House sales and lettings McCarthy Holden Estate Agents
Activity across all property sectors remained high last week

Timing A Move

We think that some house buyers and sellers will simply elect to have a delayed completion when the moment of exchanging contracts arrives in the coming weeks, this way both parties secure and achieve their moving objectives but only delay the actual move in day.

Home Working

Things will undoubtedly slow down a little and very soon our staff will be working from home, where we can continue with new house sales, transaction chasing and management and valuations with the benefit of technology using Zoom for example. Phone call and emails will be diverted to our personnel working from home very soon.

Minimising Risk When Showing A House

We are aware that vendors and landlords are worried about even the smallest risk of virus transmission, so when we meet buyers or tenants to show them around a client’s property we will be giving them / asking them to wear latex gloves so that things like door knobs, stairs and kitchen equipment are not touched with bare hands.

Whilst we are, as always, delighted to see people, we ask them not to be offended that we won’t be shaking hands and will be keeping a safe distance. In some cases we may not be able to offer drinks or refreshments as we would normally, but instead we will offer you hand sanitiser and facilities to wash your hands during your time together.

Our public announcement about our operational approach to work was distributed to the public recently and is available at this link

Please do subscribe to our newsletter which will be distributed up to twice a week by email (subscription is free and you will find informative content about property, finance and general lifestyle features). There is a pop up sign up on our home page.

It seems that despite Covid-19, the will and sheer determination of people to lead as normal a life as possible is a winning formula for overcoming life’s extraordinary events.

We are available to help our customers and the local community, so do please contact you local branch by phone or email at any time. Business is operating as usual in every respect and we remain committed to the well-being of our staff and customers at this difficult time.

John Holden

Chairman and Managing Director – McCarthy Holden

McCarthy Holden and COVID-19

Covid response

Our response

As with most of the world at the moment, I think everyone at McCarthy Holden are still in shock at what our lives, both personal and business, have become in a very short space of time.

We are hopeful, we are determined, we are anxious, we are planning, we are cleaning, we are keeping busy and we are trying to proceed with everyone’s best interests in mind.

Our responsibility

McCarthy Holden has a responsibility and duty of care to our staff, our clients and our communities. 

This news page outlines some important information about how we will conduct ourselves when visiting a clients home, through to providing insight into how we will progress house sales and manage the hundreds of properties we manage for landlords. As information is coming through daily this will be updated as soon as possible.

Some of us at McCarthy Holden are those at greater risk so have already started working from home – you may notice a smaller number of people in the office, but this is to protect those that need it most. All the decisions that are being made and have been made are guided by Public Health England and we have closely aligned ourselves with the latest government advice and guidance.

With regards to our clients, their health and property, we are continuing as normal at the moment with viewings, negotiations and sales progression, and we are currently very busy. We do expect things will need to change so Skype valuations and viewings are being set up to allow everyone to continue to use our services as best possible. We are also looking at Live chat and Skype consultations with our negotiators or with our sales progressors so communication can be open at all times.

Our request

With anyone who is coming into contact with McCarthy Holden employees – viewers, valuations, office visits – we ask that if you are showing any of the symptoms or are residing with anyone who is self-isolating to please let us know so we can minimise risk.

Whilst we are, as always, delighted to see people, please don’t be offended that we won’t be shaking hands and will be keeping a safe distance. In some cases we may not be able to offer drinks or refreshments as we would normally, but instead we will offer you hand sanitiser and facilities to wash your hands during our time together.

We are also aware that vendors and landlords are worried about even the smallest risk of virus transmission, so when we meet buyers or tenants for viewings we will be providing latex gloves so that things like door knobs, stairs and kitchen equipment are not touched with bare hands. Alcohol wipes and hand sanitisers will be used both in homes and in offices regularly.

Our reply

We will beat this with the rest of the UK by following the governments advice. We will work with everyone to ensure minimum risk. We will help in our communities whenever and wherever possible.

Our future

In the coming weeks, we will be looking to minimise the risk to employees further. Initially this will be through reduced hours or shift rotas and ultimately may need to have all staff working from home in the coming weeks, possibly sooner depending on government directive. That does not mean we are not available to continue our work and we are set up with all communications and technology to continue doing what we do best.

Meanwhile, business is operating as usual and we remain committed to the well-being of our staff and customers at this difficult time. 

We wish everyone a safe time over the coming days,weeks or even months, take care of each other and we hope everyone will be back on track and feeling safe before too long.

Samantha Holden

10 KITCHEN KIT UPGRADES THAT ARE STYLISH AND PRACTICAL

stylish but functional kitchen

These best buys score on functionality and aesthetics, says Sam Wylie-Harris.

They’re a hub of home life, so kitchens need to be as functional and practical as they are stylish.

Whether yours has an island with a worktop large enough to accommodate Saturday Kitchen, or there’s literally just enough space for a stool and makeshift breakfast bar, the right kit will ensure it ticks all the right boxes.

These smart kitchen kit buys will bring out your best table manners…

stylish but functional kitchen

1. Russell Hobbs K65 Anniversary Kettle in Stainless Steel, £59.99, Argos, or Copper Stainless Steel, £64.99, Currys

The shut-off kettle wasn’t a thing until 1955, when Russell Hobbs shaped the way we brewed our tea and coffee forever. Now, the original K-series is celebrating its 65th anniversary and coming to the boil with the K65 anniversary edition. Available now in a classic brushed stainless-steel design, the copper version will launch in March.

stylish but functional kitchen

2. Argos Home 3 Litre Cast Iron Shallow Casserole Dish, £45, Argos

The beauty of this cream casserole dish is not only is it a chic addition to your hob with its cast iron finish, but it can multi-task and turn out soups, casseroles, curries, pasta sauces and even scrambled eggs.

stylish but functional kitchen

3. Sage SJB615 Juicer, Blender and Bluicer, Stainless Steel, £299.95, John Lewis

A blow-the-budget blender means you can blend and juice those soft strawbs, bananas and peaches, and then get to work on crunchy apples and cranberries. And here’s the fun bit, with the extra wide chute, there’s no need to chop anything beforehand, and the bowl/blade system has the power to crush and chop ice, as well as froth those creamy smoothies.

stylish but functional kitchen

4. Joseph Joseph Duo 4-Piece Chopping Board Set with Stand, £34.99, Robert Dyas

Board-ering on brilliant, this slim, non-slip stand with four designated boards to slice and dice has the capacity to take the sharpest blade, and can be popped in the dishwasher once you’ve seasoned that stewing steak.

stylish but functional kitchen

5. Sainsbury’s Home Nordic Springs Tabletop kitchenware range: Ceramic Milk Jug, £3; Spot Reactive Glaze Dinner Plate, £4.25; Pestle & Mortar, £18.50; Cast Iron Casserole Dish, £35, selected Sainsbury’s stores

A one-stop shop for all your handy homewares, we love this Scandi-style kitchenware with its monochrome design, clean lines and muted timber tones.

stylish but functional kitchen

6. Vitra Rotary Tray, Ice Grey, £41, Heal’s

Sometimes the simplest design can be the smartest solution, especially when you consider this rotating tray can hold all your spices, olive oil and mini Kilner jars, or be stacked with espresso cups, coffee mugs, fresh fruit – and even dips and crudites, if you’re more hors d’oeuvre than herbal tea and honey.

7. George Foreman 25850 Smokeless BBQ Large Health Grill, £69.99, Argos

All the thrill of the grill without having to brave the great outdoors, or wait for the sun to put its hat on. Sizzling steaks and enticing smoky flavours with smokeless technology means no lasting whiff after the last BBQ skewer has been scoffed.

stylish but functional kitchen

8. Lavazza Desea Coffee Machine, £149 (was £199), Lavazza

The latest model in the Lavazza library of modish coffee machines, make like a barista with five pre-programmed milky modes and personalised coffee experience at the touch of a button. The Desea is also the quietest A Modo Mio system to date.

stylish but functional kitchen

9. John Lewis & Partners Shaker Oak Coat Rack, £35; John Lewis & Partners + Orla Kiely Bunch of Stems Oven Mitt, £16, Apron, £25, and Set of Tea Towels, £16, other items from a selection, John Lewis (available from late February)

This new range from Orla Kiely – including tea towels, oven mitt and apron – is an easy way to style up and update the kitchen, without having to get your hands dirty.

stylish but functional kitchen

10. Breville VTT943 New York Collection 4 Slice Toaster with Lift and Look, Matt Black Stainless Steel, £84.8, Amazon

With its sleek design and cool matt black finish, this is at the top of our super toaster list. With variable width and browning options to make the most of your loaf, it’s guaranteed to butter up your guests too.

10 MOTHER’S DAY GIFTS FOR HOME COMFORT QUEENS

home comforts mothers day presents

A gift she can enjoy at home is bound to be a hit. Gabrielle Fagan has Mother's Day shopping sorted.

Mother’s Day is the perfect occasion to make your mum feel special with a thoughtful gift – but while chocolates and flowers are a fail-safe traditional choice, how about surprising her with a home treat?

From accessories to make her rooms sparkle with style, or a pampering gift to indulge her homebody side, there are countless options to choose from to suit all budgets.

From decor divas and party queens, to home-comfort queens. – here’s our guide to irresistible gifts for every mum…

home comforts mothers day presents

1. Pick up on petal power

Real blooms soon wilt, but a faux plant and floral cushion will be a lasting memory of the day and bring joy for months to come.

Mum Slogan Floral Polka Dot Cushion, £7, George Home at Asda; Pink Artificial Hydrangeas In A Pot, £5.99, Homescapes

home comforts mothers day presents

2. Serve up a teatime treat

A relaxing cuppa is even more enjoyable when drunk from pretty china – and especially when it’s her own special set.

Pink Roses Mum Half Pint Mug Boxed, 19.95; Little Pink Rose 2 Mug Tea Set Boxed, £89.95, Emma Bridgewater

home comforts mothers day presents

3. Get the drinks in

Party queens will love a drinks trolley – a must-have for today’s stylish homes – and a set of cocktail bar accessories could be the perfect finishing touch.

Michelle Keegan Home Aruba Mirrored Drinks Trolley, £149, Very; 4 Piece Cocktail Mixing Set, £24.95 (was £29.95), FlowBarware.co.uk

home comforts mothers day presents

4. Bring her sunshine

Yellow accessories, together with her favourite chair, could help her create a special ‘sunny’ corner for relaxing – and isn’t that what every mum really wants?

Chill Here Printed cushion, £12.99, Beautify.co.uk; Opal Table Lamp, £14, JD Williams

home comforts mothers day presents

5. Let her grow

Spoil green-fingered mums with some designer tools and a special sign for her outdoor kingdom.

Mum’s Garden Wooden Sign, £6, The Contemporary Home; Sophie Conran Dibber, £14.95, and Sophie Conran Twist Cultivator, £16.95, both Annabel James

home comforts mothers day presents

6. Splash out

Treat her to a ‘me time’ session at home by gifting all the ingredients for a perfect pamper night – including her own rubber duck, for a long, luxurious soak in the bath.

Cocktail Candle – Sparkling Prosecco, £1, and Mother’s Day Rubber Duck, £1, both Poundland stores; 100% Cotton Polka Dot Towels, £5-£10 each, Matalan

home comforts mothers day presents

7. Bring on the glamour

For house proud mums, shimmering, metallic homeware is the perfect way to raise the style stakes in any space.

Tall Metallic Planter On Legs, £29, 50, and Santoro Brass Set Of Tables, £199, both Marks and Spencer

home comforts mothers day presents

8. Create a sultry sanctuary

Let her transform her bedroom into an exotic retreat, with some oh-so-fashionable jungle-design bed linen.

Green City Jungle Duvet Set, from £10, George Home at Asda

home comforts mothers day presents

9. Boost her wellbeing

If she struggles with sleep, give the gift of sweet dreams with a clever LED lamp. Equipped with various lights (it simulates sunrise and sunset) and sound settings, it claims to help support our natural sleep rhythm.

Beurer WL50 Wake Up To Daylight Table Lamp, £69.99, John Lewis

home comforts mothers day presents

10. Bring on the blues

Pantone’s named Classic Blue as 2020’s Colour of the Year, and blue accessories are a must for on-trend rooms.

Alaska Blue Tall Glass Vase, £25, Habitat; Tie Dye Blue Throw, £25, JD Williams

HOW TO MAKE YOUR GARDEN DOG-FRIENDLY

dog friendly garden

RHS Chelsea Flower Show designer and dog-lover Sam Ovens offers tips on ensuring your garden is a dog-friendly space. By Hannah Stephenson.

So often, pets are considered a bit of a nuisance among gardeners, who don’t really appreciate their lawn being dug up by pooches burying their bones, or bounding through their flowerbeds.

But award-winning Chelsea designer Sam Ovens, a dog owner himself, is adamant gardeners and their pets can share outdoor space in harmony.

He’s teamed up with the Animal Health Trust (aht.org.uk) to share top tips on how you too can create a dog-friendly garden for your pooch…

dog friendly garden

What plants may be beneficial to dogs and stimulate interest on all sides?

Ovens suggests: “For me, a dog-friendly garden can be beautiful – dogs love to explore and I think actually a plant-filled garden is great place to investigate and play.

“Care just needs to be taken to ensure the plant selection is robust and will bounce back when our doggy friends decide to take short cuts across the borders!

“Choose robust plants, as well as ornamental grasses like miscanthus and pennisetum, but in any case, beware of spikes and thorns, particularly at eye level,” he adds. “For something both dog and owner can enjoy, plant herbs like oregano, fennel and nepeta, all good, safe choices.”

dog friendly garden

Which design ideas could be incorporated into a dog-friendly space?

“Dogs will enjoy a shady spot for those hot summer days, and different textures, from paving and grass to cobbles and mulch. Also, a clear path around or through the garden space for the dog to run around, fresh water to keep dogs hydrated and cool, but with shallow sloping edges so they can easily get in and out, and herbs and other scented plants that smell great,” says Ovens.

dog friendly garden

Anything to avoid that’s likely to be trashed by a boisterous dog?

“Boisterous dogs can damage young and delicate plants, either by digging them up or running through them. It’s best to avoid small and delicate plants that are slow growing, as these will struggle to recover from the rough and tumble of dog play,” says Ovens. “Planting larger and more established plants than normal is also wise, as established plants are more resilient.”

dog friendly garden

Any features both dog and human can enjoy in unison?

“I think sensory elements are great, as they are stimulating for both man and dog,” he suggests. “A simple water feature set among planting can provide a natural sound that’s as calming for dogs as it is for us. It’s also a source of water for thirsty dogs, as well as an attractive thing to sit and watch.”

Other elements enjoyable to human and dog include scented plants, as well as natural sounds from ornamental grasses and bamboo, which create a calming environment.

dog friendly garden

What else should you avoid in a dog-friendly garden?

Heather Covey, head of internal medicine at the AHT small animal clinic, advises: “When planning a garden, remember that our dogs are great scavengers and can find a number of things to eat, many potentially dangerous to your dog.

“Certain plants, such as foxgloves and delphiniums, are toxic. Be careful with bulbs which can be dug up and eaten, as these can cause stomach upsets and in some cases severe irritation of the mouth and throat.

“Make sure your dog doesn’t eat snails and slugs, as these can cause lung worm (a serious condition in your dog) and instead of using slug pellets, use the old remedies for slug prevention, such as eggshells and copper tape.

dog friendly garden

Don’t forget about your compost heap, she adds.

“This can contain food scraps, such as avocados, grapes and onions which, although may be tempting to your pet, can be harmful.

“Your compost heap can also contain mould toxins, which if ingested can have worrying neurological or liver side-effects. If you want to compost at home, then a sealed bin is a good idea. Finally, if an owner is concerned about their animal’s health, they should always consult their vet.”

How to Make your Home Calmer and Less Cluttered in 7 Simple Steps

how to get a calmer home

With spring around the corner, it's the perfect time to treat your home to a detox. Gabrielle Fagan taps up the Topology design gurus for tips.

Spring is almost here – and the start of this new season often makes us yearn for clean, calm, refreshed spaces at home.

Amy Brandhorst and Athina Bluff, aka interior design duo Topology, have teamed up with Habitat to share expert tips on how to banish your home’s winter hangover and make it warm weather-ready and fabulous.

The stylish pair have taken a lot of inspiration from Feng shui. Although it might sound a tricky concept to get your head around, the traditional Chinese practice basically centres on the belief that the specific arrangement of shapes, furniture and objects can have an effect on the unseen energies around us, and combine to harmonise and balance a space.

Creating a positive home environment, it’s believed, benefits our mental and physical health too.

Curious? Follow Topology’s seven step home ‘detox’ plan to create a serene sanctuary that boosts your wellbeing, and where you can relax and look forward to sunnier days ahead…

how to get a calmer home

1. Study the space

As a beginner, it’s easiest to kick off your Feng shui mission in either your home office/desk area or your hall, say the two designers. “Placing your desk in the centre of a room or opposite/adjacent to a window, according to the laws of Feng shui, enhances creativity, energy and productivity,” they explain.

Apparently, it pays dividends if you blitz that hall as well. After all, if your first sight of home when you get in after a day at the office is a dumping ground for coats, shoes and sports kit, it won’t exactly lift your spirits! “Keeping it tidy, spacious and inviting is a great start for good Feng shui and positivity within the home,” enthuse the pair.

Cleaning the windows so they let in more light could also be a good move.

how to get a calmer home

2. Follow the three-colour rule

Sticking to a simple colour scheme can prevent your space from feeling chaotic or busy, they point out. Just doing that can, they explain, make spaces feel much more understated and tranquil but still full of depth and interest.

TOP TIP: Pick three main colours that naturally appeal to you, then build on that by choosing different shades or tones that work with the dominant colour of the three.

If you’re a decor diva and ultra fashionable blue appeals, this could be a great calming choice. As the Topology duo highlight, research has found that being in blue spaces can even lower our blood pressure.

Adding toning shades to your chosen blue colour – such as teal, navy or sky blue – could be the perfect colour palette for a gentle, harmonious scheme.

how to get a calmer home

3. Introduce more nature

Biophilia is a bit of a buzzword in the worlds of interiors and wellness right now – and in essence is a nod to upping the greenery in rooms with indoor plants, to harness our innate need to connect with nature. The Topology pair point out the powerful potential effect on our wellbeing of filling our homes with plants, as it’s thought we’re significantly happier when we’re surrounded by the natural world.

TOP TIP: An interior furnished with natural materials – earthenware, linen, marble-based lamps and objects, woollen cushions and blankets – will increase that feeling of being connected to the great outdoors.

how to get a calmer home

4. Lift items off the floor

Lifting furniture, clutter and everyday objects up and away from the floor can easily create a lighter, detoxified and more uplifting space, according to the pair.

“Seeing more floor space and light through and around objects in a room helps a space feel much more weightless and clutter-free,” they explain.

TOP TIP: Sofas or chairs with high legs make furniture appear less bulky and dominating. Open storage and wall shelves will complement the style and add to an airy, uncluttered effect.

how to get a calmer home

5. Use rounded shapes

Shape – not size – is everything! Spherical, round, or gently curving furniture and home accessories can not only create a sense of balance but is visually pleasing, say the designers.

There’s even science behind the theory, they point out, as research has found that receptors in the brain light up dramatically when people are around the presence of curved or round objects, rather than angular or jagged shapes.

TOP TIP: A round mirror above a bed is effective in a bedroom, which should be an oasis of calm, while other good choices are a round pouffe, spherical pendant lights, or a round coffee table.

how to get a calmer home

6. Designate a clutter drawer

No home can be completely free of clutter – so create a place specifically for tucking it away. Try the designers’ two-step plan for a clutter-busting solution.

First, home in on that clutter and gather it into one place (at some point, you can work out whether you can sort it, reduce it, or get rid of it altogether). Next, select one drawer to store unsightly or practical items that can’t be stored elsewhere in a home.

Unsightly electrical cables, newspapers, children’s toys or spare accessories could be the perfect candidates for that ‘tidy away’ compartment, they suggest.

how to get a calmer home

7. Create a multi-sensory home

Finally, finish with a flourish by making your home a multi-sensory space, urge the interior gurus. This simply means a space which appeals to all of our senses: touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste.

Apparently, if all those needs are catered for, explain the duo, it helps us feel relaxed and nurtured in our homes – what’s not to like?

TOP TIP: While in general, the scent of lavender and vanilla and soft fabrics such as cashmere make us feel comforted, it’s more important to focus on what makes you feel good as an individual.

Experiment with different colours, textures, fabrics and scents to help you find the perfect ingredients for your special sanctuary, suggest Brandhorst and Bluff. “After all,” they say, “our homes should be personal to each of us and adhere to our needs.”

As part of The Home Detox campaign, Habitat will host a series of interior design, houseplant and cookery workshops in its London stores throughout March 2020. For further info and tips, see habitat.co.uk/inspiration/small-space-living.

How to Brighten your Home for Spring with a Touch of Yellow

yellow decor for spring

Sam Wylie-Harris rounds up the sunniest yellow homeware and accessories to shop now.

The power colour of spring, nothing signals happiness and hope like bright, sunshine yellow.

As well as dazzling visually, yellow can lighten the mood, make everything look fresh and bright – and most importantly in the scheme of things, it’s very easy to place this pigment in the home and jazz up your space.

Whereas stylists and fashionistas often cite yellow as a difficult colour to wear and suggest it should only be worn sparingly, interior designers love to incorporate yellow in their design edits.

Best of all, yellow is surprisingly versatile and an easy shade to mix and match. You can use it as a colour block to break up a room, introduce pops of canary yellow, primrose or mustard to brighten up a dark corner, or for a sunlit twist, energise an open-plan space.

Here’s some of our favourite ways to work yellow into rooms right now…

yellow decor for spring

Glasshouse Mustard Wallpaper, £60 per roll, Graham & Brown (furniture and decos, stylist’s own)

One of the brightest ways to introduce yellow is to let it star in a feature wall central to your design scheme. The new Glasshouse collection at Graham & Brown illustrates a flourishing garden paradise with herons and egrets walking among honeysuckle and clematis, and emerald toned leaves softening the look. Think of this luxurious matt paper as a cheat’s sheet to a flight of fancy, without having to leave home.

yellow decor for spring

The Lover Sofa – 3 Seater in Barley, from £1,373, Willow & Hall

A statement sofa positioned just so always looks amazing, and you can play up the sunny accents by stacking it with cushions in a warm gold (we love anything tasselled, especially velvet for a luxe boho vibe). Otherwise, go for a striking black and white monochrome print to add depth and texture against the bold yellow backdrop and keep the lines clean.

yellow decor for spring

Emma Bridgewater Daffodils And Narcissus Set of 2 Half Pint Mugs, £39.95, Daisy Park

Bright and beautiful, you can build on this set of mood enhancing mugs by stacking them with other daffodil prints. You’ll have a host of golden daffs to add extra cheer to your morning coffee in no time.

yellow decor for spring

Artificial Floral In Window Box, £25, and Artificial Ditsy Floral In Vase, £22, Next

Bright as brass and zero maintenance, faux foliage doesn’t get more fabulous than this. Especially when you consider these trumpet blooms bring joy and cheer 24/7.

yellow decor for spring

Orla Kiely House for Harlequin Classic Stem Wallpaper, £67 per roll, Orla Kiely Juniper Stem Ceramic Table Lamp, £75, John Lewis & Partners

If you want to play with prints and match mellow yellow with yoke yellow, a clever concept is to choose your wall space (south-facing rooms love colour and will bounce the light around) and take a simple print such as Orla Kiely’s stem design, build on it with coordinating decos, and bring in brighter shades to maximise those beams of sunlight.

yellow decor for spring

Bold Monkey Princesses Have Feelings Too Armchair, £549, Cuckooland

Who wouldn’t want to sit pretty in this sumptuous winged back chair? Finished in a modern, oriental style print with a shimmer of gold, it’s a real hero piece and will work just as well in the living room, bedroom or study.

yellow decor for spring

Chroma Curtains – Mustard, from £95-£160, Clarissa Hulse (furniture and decos, stylist’s own)

Dressing windows with some sunny yellow curtains is an easy update if you want to make a room bright and airy. To see how the colour can be a game-changer, these ready-made drapes, paired with muted decos and touches of palm-green, don’t overpower but still offer visual impact. They’re 100% cotton, lined, and available in six sizes with a gathered 3-inch tape top for a sleek finish.

yellow decor for spring

House by John Lewis Hex Table Lamp – Mustard, £25, John Lewis & Partners

With yellow stealing the spotlight, this trendy bulb lamp ticks all the right boxes.

yellow decor for spring

Espinillo Bed Linen – Tumeric, from £15-£75, Clarissa Hulse

For a fresh approach that’s not overwhelming, we love this botanical bed linen, featuring fanned acacia leaves against an ombre of turmeric yellow and dove grey. You could even team it with other pieces in the collection, such as silk lampshades and cushions for a super-luxe feel.

yellow decor for spring

Lemon & Bergamot Home Fragrance Collection Candles and Diffusers, from £6-£16 each, Next

We can’t think of anything more uplifting than the zesty scent of lemons blended with bergamot. Next’s range of diffusers and cantles will scent your rooms and add some lovely pops of yellow.

10 Fragrant Gardening Gifts for Mother’s Day

mothers day gardening gifts

Choose a fragrant gift for your gardening mum, whether it's plants, flowers or botanicals. Hannah Stephenson sniffs out 10 ideas.

So many plants offer fantastic scents – the sweet headiness of lily-of-the-valley in spring, the strong perfume of roses, mock orange and lilies through summer.

From shrubs whose scent is carried in the wind and can be enjoyed out on the patio, to houseplants that fill a room with fragrance, along with scented balms, oils and candles aimed at gardeners, your mum can inhale the joy of her garden with a fragrant Mother’s Day gift.

Here are some of the most perfumed offerings to buy now…

mothers day gardening gifts

1. Scented Crab Apple Blossom Tree Gift, £35, notonthehighstreet.com

Planting a tree can make a gift last a lifetime, and this fragrant crab apple from The Gluttonous Gardener offers the most spectacular display of aromatic blossom, beginning with clusters of fragrant white flowers that open from pink buds in spring.

They’re followed by crops of golden fruits in early autumn, which remain bright and beautiful on the bare branches into winter, when birds will flock to the garden to feast on them.

mothers day gardening gifts

2. RHS Flowers for Fragrance seed collection, £4.99, Mr Fothergill’s (mr-fothergills.co.uk)

This collection of seeds, which will produce flowers to give you a mixture of delicate fragrance and rich aromas, is part of a new range from Mr Fothergill’s Seeds in partnership with the RHS. The packet contains chamomile, mignonette, nicotiana, lupin, monarda and stock, which can all be sown in spring.

mothers day gardening gifts

3. Aromatherapy Gift Set – Pelargonium and grapefruit, £28, Denys & Fielding (denysandfielding.co.uk)

If your mum likes natural products made using essential oils, this plant-based gift set may be one for her. It comprises a floral, fresh bath oil, with a slant on reducing stress and enhancing mood, while grapefruit is great for combating fatigue and lifting spirits. It comes with a matching aromatherapy votive candle with a 20+ hour burn time, a choice of candle container and a biodegradable bath mitt.

mothers day gardening gifts

4. Stephanotis gift crate, £24.39 (from £27.99), crocus.co.uk

A bridal bouquet favourite, this climber has deliciously scented flowers, and can be trained onto a support. The jasmine-like perfume of the summer flowers will fill a room, and as it matures, it develops vigorous climbing stems, and glossy evergreen leaves. You can put it outside when the weather warms up too.

mothers day gardening gifts

5. Moorland Myrtle and Rose scented candle, £29, notonthehighstreet.com

With elements of gorse, heather and myrtle, this candle – hand poured into a scientific beaker no less – has a bold floral scent with earthy undertones.

mothers day gardening gifts

6. Lasting rose bushes

There are a number of new roses worth earmarking, including Rosa ‘Silas Marner’ (from £22 for bare-rooted, David Austin Roses, davidaustinroses.co.uk). An unfussy rose, it’s a soft mid-pink, with relaxed medium-sized cupped blooms, ruffled petals and a rich medium-strong Old Rose fragrance with accents of fruity lemon, green banana and apricot. Plu it’s shade tolerant.

If a namesake is more your mum’s bag, there’s Rosa ‘Mum in a Million’ (£11.95 for bare root, Peter Beales Roses, classicroses.co.uk). This hybrid tea, with large soft pink, highly fragrant blooms, flowers repeatedly from May until first frosts, and is ideal for beds, borders or a large patio pot.

mothers day gardening gifts

7. Limited edition English lavender collection, £50, 30ml, jomalone.co.uk and Jo Malone London boutiques

This new collection from Jo Malone combines lavender with a trio of different additions to create three different scents – coriander (aromatic), silver birch (cool woodiness) and wisteria (soft florals). The collection also includes Lavender & Musk pillow mist and diffuser.

mothers day gardening gifts

8. Daphne ‘Eternal Fragrance’, from £10.99, Thompson & Morgan, thompson-morgan.com

If your mum likes a shrub that offers year-round interest and fantastic spring scent, ideally in a patio pot or border, treat her to this fragrant semi-evergreen daphne. It bears non-stop white blooms, which turn from pink in bud, from April to October. It has neat, compact growth, so is best appreciated in a patio pot or near a pathway, where everyone can enjoy its rich scent.

mothers day gardening gifts

9. X oncidopsis ‘Nelly Isler’ scented orchid, £16, root-houseplants.com

The X oncidopsis ‘Nelly Isler’ is a crimson red orchid with a mood-enhancing, sweet and lightly citrus fragrance to brighten up Mother’s Day. Its exotic-looking flowers provide a long-lasting display and could bloom a few times a year – if they’re happy. They usually flower between autumn and winter and are most suited to a north or north-east facing window.

Easy to keep, position in bright filtered light, water weekly and feed fortnightly (diluting fertiliser to half the recommended strength). Misting is also advised.

mothers day gardening gifts

10. Baylis & Harding Royale Garden Fragranced Luxury Soap Bath Petals Mother’s Day Gift Set, £10

What better way to relax after a hard day in the garden than with this beautifully packaged box of delicate soap petals? They dissolve in warm water and smell of rose, poppy and vanilla.

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