11 stylish ways to use monochrome in your home

A black and white palette is always in the here and now, says Sam Wylie-Harris.

Like the little black dress of interiors, kitting out your home in monochrome will always be on trend.

There are a multitude of ways to work timeless black and white into your scheme – and maximize the beauty of minimalism with a dash of panache.

From attention grabbing to toned down pieces, here’s how to get the look…

1. Monochrome Eiffel Tower Art Print, from £3 (21 x 30cm, no frame or mount), Abstract House

For maximum impact, an oversized print is a scene-stealer. This image of the Eiffel Tower is available in a range of sizes, all the way up to a supersized 70 x 100cm – which costs £150 if you also go for the black frame, no mount option, to make a strong style statement.

2. Truffle Tablescapes Black Mother Of Pearl Charger Plates, Set of Two, £130, Notonthehighstreet

A beautiful combination, these charger plates with a black and white mother of pearl inlay can be styled against brass cutlery to bring some extra wow factor to the table. For the finishing touch, a white linen napkin feels luxe and rich before you’ve even polished up the glassware.

3. Cox & Cox Three Monochrome Dipped Vases, £40, Very

In keeping with the simple aesthetic of a single stem, it only takes a trio of late summer blooms or black silk roses to show off these ombre effect vases in white, grey and matte black.

4. Fritz Hansen Series 7 Dining Chairs – Monochrome, Coloured Ash, White, £383 each, Nest

Spendy but super stylish, these designer chairs are stackable, lightweight and available (alongside other options) in black and white to create a stark monochrome contrast. What’s more, they are a highly desirable collectable that will stand the test of time.

5. Johnson & White London 2 Wick Candle, £53, Johnson & White

Glamorous black candles embellished with gold details have the power to elevate the mood, especially when they’re scented with bergamot and lemon, topped with spicy pink pepper and juniper berries.

6. Idyll Home Face Lamp, £195, Notonthehighstreet

When you’re working a sharp black and white palette, something quirky always seems to pull a room together. Right on trend, this abstract face and line drawing lampshade with stoneware base will put everything in a new light.

7. De’Longhi Ballerina Kettle, £49.99, Toaster, £59.99, available in Opaline White and Furnace Black (pictured), De’Longhi

With its faceted form and gloss finish inspired by Venetian glasswork, these Ballerina kettles and toasters are modern, minimal and a majestic addition to any kitchen.

8. Aromatherapy Associates x The Laundress Wellness Addition: Support Breathe Dish Soap, £21.86, Support Breathe Surface Cleaner, £21.86, The Laundress

When it’s time to keep your monochrome scheme spic and span, what could be lovelier than these feelgood products? A new collaboration between the famous American laundry company and Aromatherapy Associates, the Wellness Addition releases soothing vapours and combines essential oils while you carry out household chores. Genius.

9. Belle Wallpaper Monochrome, £20 per roll, Ilovewallpaper

The best backdrop for your little black dress? A feature wall in this voguish wallpaper – and you can always lift the poster girl’s attractive profile with a striking palm, chic chaise longue and charcoal grey velvet cushions.

10. Paloma Home Monochrome Stripe Bed Set, from £85 (Double), Paloma Home

An extension of Paloma Faith’s taste for interiors at home, the star’s Paloma Home Collection features an array of statement prints – and this dramatic stripe bed set, combining a duvet cover with two matching pillow cases, would work like a dream alongside metallics or bleached surfaces to create an elegant bedroom.

11. Faux Fur Gold Stool, £159, Audenza

This glitzy stool is a real show stopper and, with its fabulous white faux fur seat, will fit perfectly into your glamorous monochrome room. Ta-da!

Household savings: 5 simple ways to become a smarter switcher

Some 16% of adults never review some of their key household expenses – and they could be missing out on significant sums, finds Vicky Shaw.

Around one in six (16%) adults across the UK never review some of their key household expenses.

This indicates that millions of people are potentially missing out on better deals on products and services such as their bank account, energy bills or broadband, according to the research from money app, Yolt.

Pauline van Brakel, chief product officer at Yolt, says: “Many consumers have had a challenging period financially as a result of the pandemic, and with Yolt’s own user data showing utilities bills are rising, and recent announcements such as the Ofgem energy price cap hike due later this year, it’s a good time for people to take stock of their regular outgoings to see if they could save by switching.

“Checking in on whether you are on the best deal available could save you hundreds of pounds a year.”

Wondering whether you could switch and save some money? Here are van Brakel’s tips on how to become a smarter switcher…

1. Check you have the information needed

Depending on the utility or service you are looking to switch, you may need information about your existing account, such as the name of the account holder or any security details or passwords or email addresses associated with the account.

When switching energy providers, you’ll need to check the type of contract or meter you have – for example, some suppliers may not be able to offer tariffs for pre-payment meters. Having all this information to hand will help to ensure the process goes smoothly.

2. Are there any exit fees to pay?

Check whether your existing provider charges exit fees for leaving a plan early – as unfortunately many do. Also find out when the contract ends, so you’ll be able to switch without paying a fee.

3. Are you in credit on your account?

If you pay bills by direct debit, your current energy supplier may actually owe you money. Before switching, always ask your supplier if you are in credit with them, to ensure that you are paid back anything you are owed.

4. Consider going ‘green’

In some cases, choosing to help the planet with certain providers can also help you save money. Many energy providers offer cheap rates for renewable electricity and gas deals.

5. Finally, do your research

Once you’re ready to switch, consider using price comparison websites as well as contacting providers directly. Once you’ve chosen, check who’s responsible for changing everything over. Often, new providers may do this for you, such as with the current account switch service (Cass), and it may be possible to leave the admin work to them.

House hunting this autumn? 8 questions to ask upfront when viewing properties

Asking some key questions when viewing properties could save you time and money, says Vicky Shaw.

The UK’s housing market is still going strong, as house hunters turn their attention to buying this autumn.

Bidding wars remain common, according to estate agent Hamptons, which says more than a third (38%) of homes sold in July had offers from three or more potential buyers.

If you’re a first-time buyer however, or you haven’t had much experience viewing properties before, knowing the right questions to ask upfront could help you save some time and possibly money.

It’s important to know exactly what you will be getting when you set your sights on a new home, and to avoid any unexpected costly surprises along the way.

To give home buyers a helping hand, the mortgage experts at have listed eight questions buyers could ask when viewing a property…

1. How long has the property been on the market?

If the property has been on the market for more than, say, four months, do not be afraid to ask the agent why they think it is not selling. There could be problems that other potential buyers may have spotted but you haven’t, so it is important that these are flagged from the get-go.

It could also be down to the property being overpriced, leading to it sitting on the market for a long time.

2. When do the sellers want to move out?

This is a really important question to ask when you are considering buying a property. If the sellers are caught in a chain, it could drag out your moving process – potentially for months. If however, they are not in a chain, this wait could go down.

3. Which way does the property face?

Having a gorgeous decking area in the garden is all well and good – until you find out there is hardly ever any sun on it. Ask the agent which way the property faces, to make sure you will be able to enjoy the maximum amount of sunlight.

4. Is the property listed?

As beautiful as listed properties tend to be, they can also be a nightmare when it comes to what changes you can make. If you come across a listed building that needs a bit of TLC, then perhaps give this one a swerve, if you are under time or cost constraints.

But if you have fallen in love with the property and the works needed are really urgent, you may want to try discussing this with the planning services department at your local council.

5. What are the neighbours like?

Moving into a property with noisy neighbours can be a living nightmare. So be upfront and ask outright what they are like. You could try to find out if the seller has ever made any complaints about their neighbours in the past.

6. What is the surrounding area like?

Asking questions such as, ‘What are the schools like?’ or, ‘Is this a safe area to be in?’, as well as, ‘How good are the transport links around here?’ can help you to determine whether this is the kind of area you see yourself living in for many years.

Even if you are not planning on having children any time soon, having a good school nearby can potentially increase the value of a property.

7. How much does it cost to run the property?

Finding out council tax bands, utility costs and the general running costs of the property will help you budget properly and let you know whether the home is financially viable for you. Bills and council tax can take a massive chunk of your pay cheque each month, so it is vital to have an idea of how much money you are likely to end up regularly paying.

8. Would the owners consider a lower offer?

Some buyers may consider offering a low-ball price in the first instance, particularly if the estate agent knows the buyers need to sell fast. However, the estate agent may give you the heads-up that the sellers are only accepting offers over a particular price.

If you are considering making a low offer, bear in mind that if you go very low, this may be deemed too cheeky and the seller may think you are not a serious buyer. This could lead to the seller disregarding you completely. So remember to be brave, but also be fair.

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