13 ways to switch up your home style with striking stripes

These fine lines and broad strokes are grabbing our attention this season, says Sam Wylie-Harris.

There are stripes, and then there are stripes.

The kind that knock you for six with their snazzy colour combinations, some that look sharp, and fun pieces that bring a room to life with their circus stripes.

Either way, stripes make a statement, love the limelight, draw the eye in and, depending on how you use them, are a clever tool and timeless look.

Vertical stripes create an illusion of height, while horizontal stripes make everything look wider.

Wondering where to start? These appealing colourways are easy to live with and fit most schemes…

1. Oliver Bonas Azur Wiggle Stripe Platter, £49.50, rest of items from a selection, Oliver Bonas – available mid-March

Bold stripes have that knack of making everything look bang up to date, especially in chunky stoneware, teamed with colourful glassware, striped placemats and trendy squiggles.

2. The Small Stripy Terracotta Vase, £23, The Happy Blossoms

This playful vase with clashing colours looks groovy before you’ve even filled it with bright blooms.

3. Market Stripe Cerise Oil Cloth, £37, Bluebellgray

If you’re thinking warmer weather, braving the BBQ and tantalising tablescaping to accommodate all those marinades and weekend brunches, this oil cloth tablecloth can cope with any spills, and makes a sunny statement.

4. Kintaro Pitcher – Indigo, £40, OKA

Classic stripes fit country-kitchen style, as well as neutral décor and seaside views.

5. Dakarai Spice Roman Blind, from £37.75, Blinds-2-Go

A budget-friendly update that’s ‘pane’ free and easy to fit, stylish stripes with hints of warm spice work just as well with contrasting colours or complementary shades.

6. Candy Stripe Cheese Knives, £27.50, Oliver Bonas

Little touches like candy stripe cheese knives make a joyous addition to mealtimes, and this trio can be themed to a cheese and wine party.

7. Velvet Stripe Cushion, £20, Next

Dreamy in tangerine and blush pink, even if you’re not big on stripes, who wouldn’t be smitten with one of these on their sofa?

8. ‘Stripes’ White and Blue Wallpaper, £60 per roll, Paper Boy Wallpaper

When more is more, we love this graffiti spray stripe, which can be enhanced with corresponding cushions and other navy and white decorative pieces.

9. Kaikoo Cream & Black Stripe Woven Pouffe, £45,

Versatile and useful, this pouffe in smart black stripes doubles up as a spare seat, foot rest, and place to rest a tray or magazines.

10. Bonne Nuit Pastel French Art Print, from £41.95 (21 x 30cm), Framed and Mounted, Abstract House

Who says stripes can’t be soothing or make you sleepy?

11. Carnaby Stripe Towels in Blue, Neutral, Multi and Berry, from £11.20-£30.40, Christy

An easy way to jazz up a bathroom, this striped towel collection could be mistaken for Missoni without the designer price tag.

12. Green Striped Wooden Deck Chair with Head Cushion, £149.99, Gardenesque

Channelling some boho chic with its fringed hem and comfy head cushion, this mint green deck chair is destined to be a hit and would look just as lovely in a sun room or conservatory, as it would a manicured lawn. An added bonus, it folds down flat for that long-awaited jaunt to the seaside.

13. Water Resistant Garden Outdoor Bench Seat Pad – Pixel Stripes (available in 2-Seater or 3-Seater size), from £69.99, Water Resistant Garden Cushions, £29.99 each, Celina Digby

Another easy update, especially if your garden furniture’s looking a little tired or weathered. Water resistant and perfect for al fresco dining, this seat pad and matching cushions look divine placed near geraniums and hydrangeas.

Inheritance planning: How to pass down wealth to younger generations and save on the tax bill

Nearly nine in 10 parents plan leave money to children or grandchildren in their will – but less than half have actually written one. By Vicky Shaw.

Many parents and grandparents have ideas about how they would like to pass wealth down the generations. Yet around six in 10 (59%) do not currently have a will, according to new research by LV=.

While nearly nine in 10 parents (88%) plan to leave money to their children or grandchildren in their will, only 41% have actually written one, the pensions and retirement specialist found.

Wealthier or ‘mass affluent’ people (those with assets of £100,000 and £500,000 excluding property) are more likely to have their affairs in place to pass on an inheritance, according to the Wealth and Wellbeing Monitor – a quarterly survey of 4,000-plus UK adults.

When it comes to mass affluent parents, more than half (51%) already have a will in place, and a fifth (20%) have put money into an investment for their children or grandchildren, compared with one in eight (12%) of all parents across the survey. Nearly a fifth (17%) of wealthier parents had also spoken to a financial adviser about the best way to pass on wealth.

What happens if you don’t do the prep?

Failing to write a will or complete estate planning can potentially lead to unexpected inheritance tax (IHT) bills being levied on someone’s estate when they die. There’s normally no inheritance tax to pay if the value of someone’s estate is below the £325,000 threshold, or everything above the £325,000 threshold is left to their spouse, civil partner, a charity or a community amateur sports club.

Clive Bolton, managing director of protection, savings and retirement at LV= says: “Although people recognise the financial benefits of doing things like writing a will, it is striking that only a minority have taken action to do so. Estate planning can save a people a huge amount of tax and ensure your family receive a financial legacy you want them to have.”

Here are LV=’s tips for passing on wealth…

1. You could use allowances to give tax-free gifts

Someone can potentially give away a total of £3,000 worth of gifts each tax year without them being added to the value of their estate. This is known as their ‘annual exemption’. The £3,000 can go to one person or be split between several people.

It is also possible to carry any unused annual exemption forward to the next tax year – but only for one tax year. The current tax year will end soon. The tax year runs from April 6 to April 5 each year. If you die within seven years of giving a gift and there is inheritance tax to pay, the amount of tax due depends on when you gave it.

LV= also suggests that if someone has more income than they need to maintain their normal standard of living and they regularly gift the excess income to help support someone else financially, these gifts could fall under a ‘normal expenditure out of income’ inheritance tax exemption. LV= suggests seeking professional advice though if someone is looking to rely on this exemption, to ensure the gifted income qualifies.

2. Consider life insurance to cover the tax bill

If someone’s estate is likely to pay inheritance tax, LV= suggests they could consider taking out a whole of life insurance policy placed in trust that will cover the tax bill.

Alternatively, if someone is gifting assets which should eventually bring their estate below the inheritance tax threshold, there may be other insurance policies which are more appropriate.

3. Would a trust be appropriate?

If someone is not ready to make outright gifts, LV= says trusts may allow them to keep control over who will benefit and when. It adds that financial advice tends to be needed when using trusts.

4. Help to boost younger generations’ savings pots

Parents and grandparents can contribute to a child’s Junior Isa, which can be unlocked when they turn 18. If the child or grandchild is aged between 18-40 and trying to save up to get on the property ladder, helping them save into a Lifetime Isa (Lisa) can be beneficial. The UK Government will add a 25% bonus to deposits of up to £4,000 a year.

5. Consider starting a pension for children and grandchildren

Although most people won’t set up a pension until they reach working age, a pension can be started as soon as someone is born. In addition, contributions made by a parent or grandparent, which can be made directly to the plan as ‘third party contributions’, can be treated for tax relief purposes as if they were made by the beneficiary themselves.

Although pension contributions can be one of the more tax efficient ways to gift money to a child or grandchild, LV= cautions that the money is likely to be inaccessible until the child nears retirement.

What is home staging? 5 ways it can help you sell your house faster and for a better price

Home staging can increase a property’s value by 10% and sell it three times faster. Lisa Salmon finds out more.

Selling your home quickly and for a high price is what every house seller hopes for. But aside from tidying up and sticking a ‘for sale’ sign in your front garden, what can you do to get the best possible quick and lucrative sale?

If you’re prepared to invest a bit of money to sell quickly – for a high price – home staging could be the answer.

Home staging – which started in the US in the early Seventies – involves enhancing a property’s best features to attract buyers.

“As much as homeowners want to sell their homes fast and at the best price, most of the time, very little it done to achieve that goal,” says Paloma Harrington, founder of the Home Staging Association UK & Ireland (HSA; She says homebuyers now spend more time looking at photos, videos, and floorplans before arranging viewings, so presentation is more important than ever.

“Staged properties get more viewings, stay less time on the market, and have better chances of receiving higher offers,” she says. “Staging a property is no longer a method for simply increasing offer value – it’s become a necessity for maintaining and even exceeding pricing expectations.”

But while the idea of hiring someone to stage your property might sound like a nice idea, is it really worth it? Elaine Penhaul, founder of home staging company Lemon & Lime Interiors (, says the cost of professional staging varies from roughly 0.5%-1.5% of the property guide price, depending on its size, value and what needs to be done.

The HSA’s 2019 Home Staging report estimated home staging costs can range from around £500 to more than £5,000, but found staging can increase a home’s value by up to 10%. In addition, 85% of estate agents reported that a staged home sells up to three times faster than a non-staged property.

Penhaul says home staging disregards the tastes of the property owner, basing the design of rooms on what will attract the widest target audience. “Home staging makes a home more appealing to a higher number of potential buyers, thereby selling a property more swiftly and for more money,” she explains. “On average, the occupied properties I’ve worked on sold four times faster after staging, and mostly above the asking price, so it’s in everyone’s best interests to stage before selling.”

Here, Penhaul outlines five basic principles of home staging…

1. Declutter and depersonalise

Decluttering is one of the most important steps when staging a home, stresses Penhaul. “Buyers are often expected to see past clutter, but this can drastically slow down the selling process and decrease the property’s value,” she explains. “By presenting the house as untidy and apparently uncared for, potential buyers will quickly assume it’s not well-maintained, which will be reflected in any offers.”

She says potential buyers want to be able to imagine their own possessions in a house they might buy, which is why it’s important to ‘depersonalise’ it as much as possible. “While selling a home can be an emotional process, depersonalising it can help a seller to start the process of ‘letting go’,” she says. “Tidying away children’s toys, ornaments, family photographs and portraits, plus any other collectables that might not suit another buyer’s taste, is an important start to the moving process.”

2. Ensure space is used well

Many houses contain ‘redundant’ spaces, such as second sitting rooms, spare bedrooms or cellars, explains Penhaul. “If a space is too big, it can often overwhelm buyers, so you should look to fill the space with the right sized furniture,” she advises, pointing out that home stagers would do this through furniture rental.

Sometimes, these ‘redundant’ rooms have been used as a dump for clutter, or boxes ahead of a planned move, says Penhaul. “This prevents viewers from seeing these rooms as another asset to their new home. A bedroom without a bed will appear smaller than it is. A box room used for ironing won’t feel as though it could possibly be an appealing home office. Ensuring every room has a function targeted to the buyer market will create a faster sale with higher offers,” she promises.

Plus, with more buyers looking for a property they can work from, it’s important to stage and showcase a room’s multiple purposes, stresses Penhaul. “Highlight selling points, such as close-away desk units inside cupboards, and ensure spaces are efficiently lit to bring light to rooms which lack natural light – this can really transform a room’s appeal.”

3. Spruce up the exterior

Unappealing exteriors can lose a sale before the buyer’s even set foot through the door, warns Penhaul, so it’s worthwhile giving your home’s exterior a facelift. New windows and doors look great but will cost thousands, so she suggests: “Rather than spending a fortune on refitting new frames and doors, spray your existing ones with a lick of paint, to give them a new lease of life, and possibly add up to £10,000 to your house value.”

4. Consider art rental

You may not have thought of this one, but renting some classy art as you try to sell your home could really pay dividends, says Penhaul. “Art makes a home more human. Breathing life into a room, it is more than just an aesthetic – it’s about evoking an emotion in the potential buyer – that’s what sells.”

She explains that art can be the guiding framework of a room, helping build the overall layout for placing furniture, maximising space and creating a focal colour scheme, which sets the ambience and feeling of a space. “Introduce art as a tool to make your home more appealing, taking shapes, colour and themes to guide the rest of your space, ensuring the entire home feels more cohesive,” she says.

5. Add internal panelling

Modern and traditional panelling techniques are increasingly popular among current buyers, says Penhaul, pointing out that for less than £100, it’s possible to create a desirable feature wall that gives off an expensive look and feel to potential buyers. “Formerly associated with luxurious and historic buildings, panelling adds an immediate value to your space, as it creates depth and interest when looking at plain and square rooms,” she explains.

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