5 Top Tips For Being A Happier Renter

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Nobody dreams of renting a house forever - but if this is the situation you're in, you may as well make the most of it, says Abi Jackson.

Whether you’re a fully-fledged member of Generation Rent, or a family for whom the property ladder is still a step out of reach, renting can sometimes feel frustrating.

It’s your home – except, well, it’s not really, is it? Somebody else is the boss of it, which – while there are some pros to this – means there are plenty of less than ideal cons, too.

But, as somebody who’s been renting for two decades, I’ve learnt (often the hard way) that there are certain things you can do to help make living as a rent-paying tenant the best it can possibly be.

Here are my five top tips…

  1. Be on good terms with your landlord/letting agent

When you’re looking for a place to rent, remember you’re vetting the people you’ll be renting with/from, as much as the property itself. Mutual trust and respect, and an ability to communicate, will count towards a lot.

There might be times when things go wrong and need to be fixed, fast. A broken toilet/tap/boiler, for instance. The good thing is, where a plumbing disaster due to wear-and-tear or technical issues is concerned (or any similar scenario), your landlord will be picking up the bill. The sometimes not so good thing is, you’ll be relying on a third party to sort things out. Now, this doesn’t automatically mean you’ve got a headache on your hands, but it might be a bit of a nuisance – and you’ll be doing yourself a big favour if you get on good communication terms with your landlord/letting agent from day one, rather than waiting until something ‘goes wrong’ to make contact.

  1. Streamline, streamline, streamline

It’s often said that our European cousins are much better at the whole renting game than us, being far more likely to rent their ‘forever home’, while us UK renters might find ourselves moving a lot (I stopped counting at 13), and it sucks. The good thing though? You’ll get so sick of packing and unpacking and losing money to removal vans (and cramming all your worldly belongings into one small bedroom, if you’re sharing a house), you’ll reach a point where you just don’t care for ‘stuff’ any more. Marie Kondo ain’t got nothing on me: I saw the light after move number 11 and waved goodbye to clutter for good. Do yourself a favour and get strict about the ‘stuff’ you let into your life. The next move will be a lot easier and, without even really trying, you’ll be living a less consumerist lifestyle – and will have more money to spend on experiences (tick, tick, tick).

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  1. Give yourself reasons to get out of the house

Live in a shared house? No matter how great your housemates are, there will be times when you desperately wish you could afford your own place. Plus, self-comparison is part of the human condition, and if there are moments of mild (or severe) despair, when you’re wondering how you’ve not managed to bag that mortgage yet, while everyone around you is upgrading their kitchen – you’re not alone. Until that day comes for you, though, you need to make the best of the situation you’re in now – and embracing life outside your four walls can play a big part in this. Make dates with friends, join a club, go for walks, volunteer in your local community (no seriously, try it). Your life will be richer, your mental wellbeing will benefit, and you’ll find yourself seething about coming home to an already-occupied sofa a lot less.

  1. Make your bed king

You might not own the bed frame, or the walls around it – but that does not mean you don’t own the right to a decent night’s sleep. Good sleep is the foundation of so many thing (your health, your work performance, your overall zest for life and all the people in it) – so prioritise it and do your best to make it happen. Renting doesn’t have to mean putting up with a crap, wafer-thin mattress or not-quite-right bedding. If your landlord doesn’t feel the same way, save up and invest in the best mattress you can afford (it’ll be some of the best money you’ve ever spent), and a pillow you look forward to sinking your head into every night. Treat yourself to some fabulous bed linen too; as far as ‘home purchases’ go, you can pick up some great designs at reasonable prices, and you’ll get way more pleasure from it than a TV upgrade.

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  1. Find ways to get personal

One of the most frequently-cited phrases among us long-term renters: ‘I just want to be able to hang whatever pictures I want on the walls!’ There’s a general assumption that landlords don’t want tenants to make their house too much of a home (by banging nails into walls, that sort of thing). Have you actually asked your landlord about this though? There’s no harm in asking.

Even if nails are out, there are lots of other ways you can personalise a space without permanently affecting the actual walls or structure. Get creative and remember that little touches can make a big difference. Everybody needs some home comforts, even if it’s just a throw from Matalan, a few coloured utensils in the kitchen that feel more like ‘you’, or a stack of books on the coffee table that light a spark every time your eye catches them. You may not be putting down permanent roots in this property, but right now, it’s home – so don’t underestimate the importance of making it feel that way.

If you want to find our more information about renting through McCarthy Holden, then call the lettings team on 01252 622550 or follow https://www.mccarthyholden.co.uk/letting/ 

How To Turn Up The Heat With The Tropical Homes Trend

interior design photo

For a different house interior design, birds, wildlife and foliage all star in the latest decor must-haves. Gabrielle Fagan reveals how to style them up.

Hot weather may make you yearn to escape to a tropical paradise but if that’s beyond the budget, you can easily create your own exotic sanctuary.

Combine vibrant shades and bold palm prints with a sprinkling of tropical touches – it’s one of the easiest ways turn up the style dial in your interior, and add a little sizzle to your space.

So, put away your passport and pick one of these sun-kissed looks…

Wing it with tropical birds

“Exotic birds – parrots, flamingos and toucans – are winging their way into our homes, as they’re the perfect way to introduce the colour we’re craving, to give rooms a punchy personality,” says Nadia McCowan Hill, style advisor for online interiors specialist, Wayfair. “Why not flirt with this feathered trend with bold bed linen, cushions, wall art or some eye-catching glassware?

“Alternatively, give an unloved space (such as your downstairs loo or the inside of a cupboard) a quirky makeover, with a striking splash of flamingo or parrot-decorated wallpaper, ” she suggests.

Walk on the wild side with animal prints

“Opting for safari-themed homeware is another sure-fire way to make your interiors grrrr-eat!” says McCowan Hill.

“As well as walking on the wild side with animal images and faux heads, add some bold contrast with bold zebra stripes for a pouffe or chair, and dress a floor with fur print rugs.”

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Pick a leafy pattern

“Lush leafy patterns are another easy way to bring this hot summer look home, because palms are evocative of far-away destinations,” notes McCowan Hill.

“For a fresh take on this summer favourite, choose a classic print with a tropical twist, and accessorise around it. That way, you can ramp up the effect to suit your taste. Metallic touches will add a hint of luxury, which will contrast well with a pared-back setting.”

If you really want to create a sultry atmosphere, wall specialists Pixers has a fab Art Illustration With Palm Tree Doodle mural, £301 (though prices start from £29), which would have real impact on a feature wall in a living area.

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By Gabrielle Fagan, Press Association

8 Reasons To Get Solar Panels On Your Home

house with solar panels

Could your property value be enhanced and the house become more saleable be with the benefit of solar panels and reduced energy bills? Putting property values top one side, in this article by Lisa Salmon (Press Association), she examines some good reasons to consider a solar panel installation.

Sunlight is free, so why not harness its energy through solar panels on your home?

Most people would love to save money on their domestic energy bills, and the summer is the ideal time to do it.

And that’s not just because you don’t need the heating on. It’s because all that sunlight is producing huge amounts of energy, which can be harnessed if you have solar panels on your home.

While a decade ago solar energy provided virtually no power, around 840,000 homes in the UK now have solar panels – also known as photovoltaics (PV) – and the renewable energy source regularly generates around a fifth of the country’s electricity for hours on summer days. The spell of hot, dry summer weather has helped break several solar power-generation records, and recently even very briefly eclipsed gas power stations, as the UK’s top source of electricity.

However, the solar energy boom may already have reached it’s peak, as solar panel installations have flatlined recently because financial incentives for householders to get them installed have been slashed dramatically, and will stop completely next year with no sign of a replacement scheme.

But green campaigners desperately want solar power to keep its foothold in the energy market, and point out there are still many reasons to consider installing solar panels on homes.

property roof with solar panel

1 Solar panels can save you money

The Energy Saving Trust (EST), an independent consumer body which helps householders and businesses save energy, says the amount saved depends on several factors – where your home is, what direction your roof faces, how big a system you install, when you install it, and how much of the energy produced you’re able to use yourself. For a typical 4kW system in the south of England, you could make around £275 a year in feed-in tariff generation payments and export payments.

Use the EST’s online Solar Energy Calculator (energysavingtrust.org.uk) to assess what financial benefits you may get from installing a solar PV system.

You’ll also save on electricity bills, says the EST. The amount you save depends on how much energy you use in a day when your solar panels are generating energy. If you’re usually out all day, you’ll only save around £90 a year on your bills. However, if you tend to be at home, you could save around £220 a year. Including the benefits from tariffs, this would give you a total saving of around £365-£495, depending on your lifestyle.

Caitlin Bent, home energy expert for the EST, says: “Solar panels are most suited to people who are at home a lot during the day, who can really take advantage of using free electricity when the sun is shining.”

2 You get paid for energy you produce

As well as saving on electricity bills, you can make money in two other ways with solar panels. Firstly, through the feed-in tariff, you’re paid for every unit of energy you generate. The feed-in tariff will close to new applicants in April 2019, although payments will continue for 20 years from the date of installation for those who invest in solar panels before April.

Secondly, you can make money via the export tariff, through which you’re paid for any energy you don’t use but send back to the grid. However, because export isn’t metered for domestic properties, the government assumes you’ll export 50% of the energy you produce. This means regardless of how much you use, you’ll be paid for 50% of your generation.

3 You’re helping to save the planet

Solar electricity is green renewable energy, meaning it doesn’t release any harmful carbon dioxide or other pollutants. A typical home solar PV system could save around 1.2 to 1.7 tonnes of carbon per year. The EST says: “By generating clean, green electricity you reduce your home’s carbon emissions. Plus, any solar energy you don’t use will be fed into the grid, so it can be used by someone else.”

4 Costs have fallen

A typical 4kW solar PV system now costs around £5,500 – £6,800 on average, according to government figures. When the feed-in tariffs began in 2010, costs were as high as £12,000-£14,000.

5 You can store solar energy on batteries

Batteries can now be purchased by householders to enable them to consume rather than export their solar electricity, which makes more financial sense.

6 It’s possible to use solar tiles if you prefer

Solar tiles are designed to be used in place of ordinary roof tiles. However, a system of solar tiles will typically cost about twice as much as an equivalent panel system. Therefore, solar tile systems aren’t normally as cost-effective as panel systems, and are usually only considered where panels aren’t appropriate for aesthetic or planning reasons.

7 They’re low maintenance

Solar panels require relatively little maintenance, but you may need to wash the surface occasionally, and make sure trees don’t begin to overshadow them, to make sure they continue working at their most efficient. Debris is more likely to accumulate on ground-mounted panels, and roof panels that are tilted at 15 degrees or more will be cleaned by rainfall. Panels should last 25 years or more, but their inverter is likely to need replacing at some point sooner, at a cost of about £800.

8 They come with a guarantee

“The performance of solar panels will degrade slightly over time,” says Bent, “but most come with a guarantee of at least 25 years.”

If you are a house buyer looking for a home with solar panels, why not undertake a property search from our home page

Country House For Sale In Odiham Preview

Property For Sale In Odiham Hampshire

Our Odiham branch will be showcasing this country house next week, so here is a preview.

This is a substantial house of immense character in grounds of around 6.5 to 7 acres (not yet checked or measured), now available on the open market for the first time in over 40 years.

Originally designed by the renowned architect Herbert Pool for his own occupation in circa 1935 and extended in the 1950s, the generous proportions of this home extend to about 4,600 sq. ft. with the added benefit of the principal rooms enjoying a southerly aspect over the beautiful grounds to the rear.

Within this significant space there is a self-contained wing with a potential family room / staff quarters.

This property is set in beautiful park like grounds, brushing shoulders with lovely Hampshire countryside and less than a mile from the picturesque village of Odiham, rich in period charm with local shops and restaurants.

property photo rear elevation

The impressive oak front doors open lead to a fine reception hall, where the main stairs lead to the first floor. There is an elegant drawing room with wonderful views over the grounds to the rear, a morning room which opens onto the terrace, a substantial dining room, a garden room, and a kitchen/breakfast room with a converted gas-fired four door AGA and electric Neff oven and Neff ceramic hob. There is a seating alcove. Beyond the kitchen there is a secondary staircase to the first floor. A door leads to the former servant’s quarters with a sitting room, bedroom and bathroom.

The master bedroom with triple aspect windows is approached past a dressing room with an extensive range of wardrobes. There are six further bedrooms, one of which is currently fitted as a study.

property for sale hall photo

In location terms this is special, and benefits from ease of access to London, Heathrow and the M3 / M4 motorways, and of course towns such as Farnham, Reading, Guildford and Basingstoke. Odiham Common is nearby as well as some excellent walks into the adjoining countryside and along the Basingstoke Canal providing wonderful towpath walks.

Telephone 01256 704851 for more details or to a arrange a viewing.

Odiham High Street View
Photo by John Joe

Property for sale in Odiham preview

Property for sale in Hampshire.

If your leaving #London or any other city to escape to the country, then do take a look at this property preview of a character home set in rural Hampshire; due to the open market soon with an anticipated guide of £1.1m.

Located on the outskirts of Odiham Village and surrounded by open countryside, this is an attractive converted and extended former stables, which occupies a plot of approximately an acre.

The Stables was converted by the current owners 25 years ago, and the photos and video created by John Joe showcase this beautiful four bedroom detached family home which has an abundance of character throughout, including exposed beams and brickwork as well as wood burning stoves in both the main lounge and family room.

kitchen photo

Upon entering the property you are met by an entrance hall which provides access to the living room and family room, both of which are double aspect. At the back of the property is the spacious country fit open plan kitchen/dining/family room with double doors leading to an outside patio area and the generous grounds. There is also access to the downstairs cloakroom and separate utility/boot room with side access to the garden.

Upstairs there are four bedrooms, with the master bedroom benefitting from an en-suite bathroom, and a family bathroom. All bedrooms have built in wardrobes and there is additional storage on the landing with a linen cupboard and space in the eaves.

The property is accessed via a double five bar gate which takes you through to the gravel driveway providing parking for a number of vehicles. There is also a detached double garage which has the added benefit of an office space on the first floor.

garden view

The private garden is mainly laid to lawn with a number of mature shrubs and trees, as well as an area of orchard. There is a large stone patio area, ideal for alfresco dining, which is the perfect place to take in the adjacent countryside views. Additionally there is a summer house and a shed that is located next to the greenhouse and vegetable patch.

Odiham is ideally located for access to London via Hook mainline station along with M3 access via junction 5. There are a number of shops and restaurants, a thriving cricket club and tennis club with excellent schools also on offer. Nearby towns such as Farnham, Fleet, Basingstoke and Reading are a short drive away and provide further shopping and recreational facilities.

Contact our Odiham branch on 01256 704851

photo property for sale hampshire odiham

Top 5 Designer Tips For Giving Your Garden A Makeover This Spring

With longer days and better weather on the horizon, now’s the time to take a look at how your garden has fared over winter.

Garden designer and lecturer Hilary Thomas, who teaches garden and planting design online through Learning With Experts, explains:

“Gardens are great places to be creative, as even small additions such as painting the garden furniture, or the addition of colourful cushions, will have an instant and exciting effect.”

She offers five suggestions for giving your outdoor space a spring makeover.

1. Boost your boundaries 

During the cooler months, we spend a lot of time looking at our gardens from the windows of the house, so take a long hard look at your garden and decide whether you like the view.

Walls and fences are the same height in a tiny garden as a large one, so their importance increases as the size of the garden decreases. If all you can see are bare fences, spring is the time to do something about it.

Plant some structural evergreens at the back of the border so that as they mature, they will hide the boundary fence. Use plants like

Elaeagnus x ebbingei, Osmanthus x burkwoodii, Phillyrea latifolia, Pittosporum tenuifolium and Viburnum sinus. Plant some clematis between these shrubs, and they will mix and mingle, creating a soft boundary around the garden with summer colour and all-year interest.

If you look out at an unsightly concrete or brick wall, consider having it rendered and painted with an exciting new shade of masonry paint. Think carefully about the colour and select a few climbing plants with flowers and foliage that will complement the new wall.

2. Screen with green

If your sitting area is overlooked by the next-door neighbours, consider planting a row of trees along the boundary to block out their view.

Go for narrow, fastigiate trees such as Pyrus calleryana ‘Chanticleer’ a flowering pear with wonderful autumn colour, or Carpinus betulus ‘Frans Fontaine’ a narrow form of our native hornbeam.

3. Think about how you use the garden 

Consider the main use of the garden and if it is primarily a space to sit, relax and entertain friends, consider digging up the lawn and enlarging the sitting area. Keep the paving simple and mix slabs with gravel or stone chippings to keep costs down.

4. Revamp your garden furniture

If the garden furniture is looking a little tired and you don’t want to buy new, put it in the garage or shed to dry off before rubbing it down and applying a coat of paint.

Try to select a colour that will fit in with the colour of the planting around the sitting area. There are paints suitable for both wood and metal furniture. Add some colourful cushions and tableware too.

5. Perk up your patio with pots

Spice up your back and front garden with colourful, welcoming pots. Your front garden should offer a welcome to visitors, so try to have a selection of colourful pots near your front door.

Containers come in a variety of materials, but a group of terracotta or glazed pots will suit most situations. Make sure the pots you buy will be the right size once you get them home, because most people buy containers that are too small and out of scale with the house and patio.

You can grow almost anything in a container; small trees, shrubs, herbaceous plants, bulbs and seasonal bedding. Clipped evergreens such as Ilex crenata, Buxus sempervirens and Phillyrea latifolia add a touch of formality to a group of flowering plants.

In spring, narcissus and tulips will add seasonal excitement and colour to a container planted up with a winter flowering shrub or coloured winter stems. In summer, a mix of herbaceous plants and seasonal bedding can provide colour from June through to autumn.

For more information on the full range of courses visit www.learningwithexperts.com.

3 Gorgeous New Interiors Trends To Try In 2018

In this fast-moving world, anyone who reads magazines, browses Pinterest, Instagram and their favourite decor blogs, knows there’s a dazzling (and sometimes confusing) array of ideas out there to inspire our style.

To make it easy, we’ve identified three key new spring/summer trends – Artisan, Natural and Luxe – that you can shop on the high street.  So not only will these looks all add ‘va-va-room’ to your home, but they won’t break the bank, as these top finds show…

1. Get a weave on

Be inspired by creativity and craftsmanship sourced from around the world and take your home into a new decor destination with an ‘artisan’ theme. “I love those little variations that make artisan textiles and ceramics unique – that’s why this trend has such staying power,” predicts Jakki Pay, home design director at House of Fraser. We’ve sourced a patchwork of techniques, from mark-making to hand-stitching and tactile fringing. It’s our very own celebration of global craftsmanship, so expect natural materials, tribal prints and plenty of earthy, sun-dried colour.”

“When creating this interior style, don’t be afraid to be bold,” advises Claire Hornby, creative stylist, Barker & Stonehouse. “Opting to layer rugs in stripes and patchwork patterns across your living or bedroom space is a simple and guaranteed way to create interest from the ground up. This adventurous streak can make its way to your  sofa – select scatter cushions in contrasting fabrics, designs and hues, which can really work if you stick to complementary earthy colours. Celebrate wanderlust by  proudly displaying your collected art and accessories, to remind yourself there’s a whole brilliant world out there.”ID-JAN-3.jpg

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2. Take a leaf out of nature

Mirror the elegance of the natural world and its palette – the ‘natural’ trend is all about organic structures and tactile finishes.

“Way back in 1984, Dr Edward Wilson termed ‘biophilia’ as the ‘innate sense of belonging to the natural world’. Now, 34 years on, this sense of belonging will be entering our homes, with wallpapers, window blinds and other decor. This trend is also about nurturing the planet and sustainability,” says Alex Whitecroft, head of design at I want Wallpaper. “Some key looks will be living walls, plant/tree bark designs, vegetation and the creation of tech-free spaces, because this look is all about immersing oneself in nature. That means an abundance of greenery and vegetation, whether real or faux. It’s about promoting a sense of wellbeing through our obsession with the natural world.”

“People are asking more of their homes. Scandinavian-style simplicity is still strong, but it will be joined by a desire for understated opulence, with rich velvets, brass accents (replacing last year’s copper) and different stone finishes,” says Cornelia de Ruiter,  CEO and co-founder of Homewings.

“Marble, velvet and mid-century pieces are adding a touch of luxury and smaller accent pieces, like pouffes and ottomans in rich shades, are helping to add colour to homes.”

3. Layer on the luxe

Counterbalance the rapid advances of technology with luxury items and a subtle colour palette that projects elegant timelessness; a core essence of the ‘luxe’ trend.

“To some extent, all trends draw their influence from the past, and this look celebrates history and heritage. There’s a sense of ‘looking backwards to go forwards’, which translates as a fusion of retro and modern influences,” says Lorna McAleer from Style Studio. “Colours are classic and modest – for example, mix burgundy and warm brown colour ways with mellow neutrals. Team items with sleek, modern blinds to stop a scheme appearing stuffy.”

“To maintain the more minimalist and pared-back styling, try not to overload your look,” says Claire Hornby. “Opt for a base palette of neutral and natural tones to help elevate the opulence of metallic accents. Consider placing perfectly formed, geometric objects next to natural free-formed elements, such as wood or crystals, for a wonderfully eclectic effect.” Alternatively, make it tropical and lush with exotic detailing such as palm prints; Biba at House of Fraser has some great pieces.

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A Risk Of Killing Birds With Kindness

By Hannah Stephenson PA

We want to feed birds through winter, but we may be making some mistakes in our methods. The RSPB offers 3 tips on what not to do.

We all know we need to keep bird feeders and baths topped up over the winter months to ensure our winged friends weather the storm of winter.

But there are some things we shouldn’t be doing, which can risk a bird’s health, and in some cases lead to death. Here’s the RSPB’s advice on what not to do.

1. Don’t put out fat balls in netting

Fat balls may be a great energy source for birds, but not when they’re housed in nylon netting, which is often used for easy hanging but can end up trapping birds’ feet or beaks, leading to injury or even death. If you buy fat balls, remove them from any nets and put them in a safer, bespoke hanging feeder. or leave them loose on a bird table.

2. Don’t give them food poisoning

Foods to avoid which are dangerous for birds include cooking fat from the roast, or Christmas turkey mixed with meat juices during cooking to make a runny, greasy mixture. This sticks to feathers and stops them from being waterproof. It is often full of salt too, which is toxic to birds. Other foods to avoid are dessicated coconut, which may swell once inside a bird and cause death, cooked porridge oats or milk, which can damage a bird’s gut.

3. Don’t put out too much food

If food turns mouldy or stale on your bird table, you are probably putting out too much for the birds to eat in one day. Many moulds are harmless, but some can cause respiratory infections in birds, so it’s best to be cautious and avoid mouldy food entirely. Always remove any stale or mouldy food promptly, as it provides a breeding ground for parasites and bacteria. Keep bird tables, feeders and surrounding areas clean, washing them regularly (ideally, using a 5% disinfectant solution) and move feeding stations to a new area every month to prevent droppings accumulating underneath.

To find a property with a lovely garden for wildlife, why not start your property search here

Floorboards – Sand, Paint and Reveal The Beauty

You know what? Underneath that tired, possibly stained, dust mite-infested carpet, there’s very likely a wooden floor that could look a million times better – if you knew how to sand and paint it.

Luckily, I did just that recently, so here are my tips for doing it yourself…

1. Clear the room – Sanding a wooden floor can be dusty, especially if you have gaps between floorboards to fill. Take all your furniture out, cover shelves and mantels with plastic sheeting and take the curtains or blinds down. This will save you hours of time (and heartache) later, and it’s never a bad idea to stick the curtains into the dry cleaners when you’ve got them down.

2. Prepare the floor – Your wooden floor may have cuts in it from electrical or plumbing fitting, or from various repairs. You may even need to replace a board or two if they’re badly damaged. Fill any gaps you find with two-part wood filler. If your gaps are wider than 5mm, you may need to roll up some newspaper and press it into the gap to give you something to fill up against. Carefully lift any mouldings you find, which can sometimes sit between floorboards and a skirting board. If you lift these gently, you might be able to salvage them, otherwise most DIY stores have huge moulding selections you can replace them with. If you had carpets down, you’ll need to lift the gripper rods and any staples that held your underlay down. Also, if you’ve taken carpet up, you’ll need to get a different profile of threshold strip for any doorways into the room. If you’re going to paint the floor, fix down any loose, squeaky boards by screwing them down before you start filling. However, if you want to varnish your floor, use brad nails to secure your boards instead, as it’s a better look on wooden boards. It’s very important not to screw or nail down the middle of the end of your floorboard, as this is where the pipes and electrics will run if you have them. This is why floorboards are secured in the corners instead.

3. Get sanding – If your room is small, you have the time – and if your fingers could stand up to the grating they’d get – you could sand your floor by hand. But the best plan is to hire a drum floor sander from any building hire shop. They are a bit heavy, but you can have them delivered with plenty of sandpaper, and they’ll do the job very quickly and easily. Use 40 grit sandpaper to start, if you have old varnish or lots of ground-in debris, then use 120 grit to finish, so the surface ends up smooth. Work methodically up and down the room, making sure you don’t sand in one place for too long – the coarse sandpaper can really eat into the boards. Finish sanding the edges of the floor where the sander can’t quite reach by hand (or you could also borrow an edging sander), and then sweep and vacuum up the dust. And it’s a good idea to shake out your dust sheets now, so no dust falls on your floor while you’re painting.

4. Choose the right paint – You can paint, stain or varnish your sanded floor in a wide range of colours and finishes, but make sure you buy products that are specifically for floors – they are harder wearing and certainly worth the small extra cost per litre. You can use 3″ or 4″ brushes to paint with. If you use a roller, which is quicker, it will leave your floor with a stippled effect, which doesn’t look so good on a painted floor. With a brush, you can lay off your paint work for a smoother finish – this means painting in the direction of the grain of wood, and painting any drips back into the wood. If you are painting your floor, you’ll need to put at least two coats of undercoat down first. Make sure you use a compatible undercoat to the top coat you are using – they are often designed to work together. I used Farrow & Ball paint for my floor, so two coats of wood floor primer and undercoat, followed by two coats of Charleston Gray Modern Eggshell.

5. Don’t paint yourself into a corner – Most importantly, start on the far edge of the room and don’t paint yourself into a corner (this does happen, and is a right laugh when the apprentices do it!). If you intend to keep your doors on their hinges during the job, make sure you paint the floor behind them before you paint yourself out of the room. Also, open the windows so you don’t poison yourself with fumes. Pay attention to the drying times, so you can get multiple coats on efficiently, and paint the top coats in the same way. For stains and varnishes, apply in the same way, just don’t forget that ventilation – they can be really smelly.