5 Ways to Work Summer’s Sorbet Shades into your Scheme

These sugary shades are made for quick decor updates, says Sam Wylie-Harris.

Keen to give your home a summer refresh? An easy – and soul-soothing – route to bright and breezy decor updates are pretty pastels and sorbet shades.

Not only do they add a sweet touch to a space, but they channel good vibes and a carefree spirit that remind us of childhood – but in a chic, contemporary, grown-up way.

It’s easy to pass pastels off as cutesy but there’s a universal charm to these ice cream colours, which can be super sophisticated when used stylishly – and sometimes it only calls for a lick of paint to make the right first impression.

1. Paint your way to an ice cream palette

“Summer is infused in pastel and sorbet shades because they hold memories of sweet-scented flowers, the taste of ice cream, bird song, laughter and the lapping of waves on a sandy shore,” says Marianne Shillingford, creative director of Dulux. “They’re colours that gift a room with these attributes every day, even when its raining, so if you have space in which you need to feel happy and uplifted, try a lick of Peppermint Candy, Pistachio Creme, Berry Whip and Citrus Sorbet.”

For these summer shades (that look good enough to eat) and more inspiration, visit Dulux.co.uk to find your nearest store.

If you’re not sure where to start, Shillingford suggests using pastel shades in rooms where there’s enough light to enjoy them during the day, as they’re harder to appreciate at night under artificial light, and to team them with pure white on the woodwork.

Dulux Copper Blush Matt Emulsion; Tranquil Dawn Silk Emulsion and Citrus Zing (coming soon), £16 each for 2.5L, Wickes

“Adding a delicate colour to the ceiling is one of the best-kept secrets in decorating, and pastels add just enough colour to make a huge difference, but not too much that it overwhelms the space.

“Blues and greens will make a room appear bigger, whilst yellow and pinks will add a touch of warm sunshine and make a room appear more intimate. Try bringing the colour down onto the walls by about 20-30cm and see how amazing it looks too,” says Shillingford.

When it comes to mastering the mix, think fun and fresh, and just enough colour to add a hint without dominating everything you already have in the room.

The other great thing about ice cream shades is they’re versatile enough to be used in a sophisticated way. After all, who doesn’t adore a champagne sorbet?

“If you add a little grey to a pastel it becomes very swank indeed, so consider shades like Pink Parchment, Milled Flour, Borrowed Blue or Beach Grass. Once you’ve chosen your favourite, paint the walls, ceiling and woodwork in the same colour,” suggests Shillingford.

2. Step into the look with pastel rugs

“Colour blocking with pastels never goes out of fashion. Just the whole combination of pastel pink, mint green and baby blue works so well, especially teamed with grey and neutral tones,” says Daniel Prendergast, design director and founder at The Rug Seller. “A more ‘graphic’ style works well with the sugary tones to give the design an edge.

“There’s something very ‘fresh’ about pastel shades, especially mint green. Designers at Accessorize Home have teamed their signature style with pretty pastels within its range of rugs – combining powder pink, mint green and baby blue for a look that’s contemporary with a nod to bohemian style.”

Light Mellow Rug by Accessorize, from £125, The Rug Seller (therugseller.co.uk)

“Soft textures work so well in pastel colours too,” Prendergast adds. “Shaggy rugs and faux fur rugs look great in pink, mauve, blue and mint – they make you just want to snuggle into them!”

Anja Faux Fur Helsinki Rug in Teal Blue – 60x90cm, £29.99, The Rug Seller (therugseller.co.uk)

3. Brighten your outlook with sorbet shutters

When it comes to creating a calm and idyllic work space at home – after all, we all need a bit of extra inspiration right now – window dressings can make all the difference to your wellbeing and outlook.

“Sorbet-coloured shutters make a great alternative to a feature wall in a home office. Colours such as soft blue, orange and pink are ideal for boosting creativity and making an office a welcoming environment to work in,” says Chrissie Harper, customer experience manager at California Shutters. “Use a matching paint colour on the surrounding walls or add a statement wallpaper to make a real impact.”

Shutters from £168 per square metre, California Shutters (californiashutters.co.uk)

However, Harper says it’s important to carefully consider which colours to choose for your shutters as, unlike walls or decorative accessories, you’ll likely be keeping them in situ for a longer period of time. And if you have a clear vision of how you want your room to look, choosing a pastel shade could really lift your scheme.

4. Shine a light on the look with lampshades

Well-chosen lighting can really make a space – and a pop of pastel can be especially effective. Picking a sorbet lampshade will illuminate a scheme and add warmth even when it’s not switched on – think of it as the A-list lollipop of lighting.

Hadfield Floor Lamp with Lime Green shade, £495, Christopher Wray (christopherwray.com)

5. Serve a subtle shade at the table

It doesn’t take much to refresh tired garden furniture, like breathing new life into a dining set with a splash of paint. M&L Paints Alitex Collection offers 15 colours inspired by greenhouses. Suitable for exterior use, they can transform practically anything from urns to gnomes. We love their subtle Wood Sage 137, which perfectly complements sprays of wild flowers and bulbs.

Wood Sage 137 from the Alitex Collection, from £5 to £100 depending on size and finish, M&L Paints (alitex.co.uk).

13 Ways to Style up his Space this Fathers Day

fathers day style

Sam Wylie-Harris rounds up the best gifts for house-proud dads, coffee connoisseurs, aspiring chefs and music lovers.

In these extraordinary times, the old adage ‘a man’s home is his castle’ has never rung so true, with so many of us spending much more time indoors.

And it’s especially relevant for Father’s Day – with pubs and restaurants closed and most of us celebrating at home or via Zoom, it makes total sense to think about a present that blends style and function, will lift those four walls, or polish up his beloved garden or den.

Looking for father’s day inspiration? These groovy gifts are just a click away…

fathers day style

1. Dualit Coffee Machine in Grey, £179.99, Dualit.com

A class act for budding baristas and grand cru of coffee machines, this three-in-one setup will enable dad to rustle up a luxe latte, cappuccino, espresso and – come happy hour – even a martini espresso. Best of all, Dualit’s multi-brew system means it’s compatible with most coffee capsules and pods to leave him feeling full of beans.

fathers day style

2. Staub Cast Iron Frying Pan, £99.95, Zwilling.com

Expectations invariably run high when it comes to Sunday brunch, so why not encourage him to add some French flair to those expertly sourced ingredients? This matte black enamelled cast iron frying pan is suitable for all hobs and the beech wood handle will feel good to the touch.

fathers day style

3. Monkey Bottle Holder, £39.95, Graham & Green

Whether it’s an impressive label, cellar worthy vintage or weekday red, when it comes to pulling the cork, everyone will want to get their hands on this playful deco before the vino’s poured.

fathers day style

4. Set of 4 Nautical Pasta Bowls, £17.50, and Set of 4 Nautical Side Plates, £15, Marks & Spencer

Seafood linguine will taste that much better in these shellfish loving pasta bowls, especially when you sprinkle it with a handful of fresh parsley for a lovely contrast against the cherry tomatoes.

Top it by serving home-made garlic bread or tomato and mozzarella salad on the matching side plates and it’ll be the closest thing to dining alfresco with a seafront view.

fathers day style

5. Argos Home Skandi Chill Word LED Sign, £15, Argos

A cool addition to his rural escape or home working space, this LED bulb can make the switch from indoor to outdoor use.

fathers day style

6. Argos Home Moorlands Horse Table Lamp – Bronze, £35, Argos

He doesn’t need to be a betting fan or horse whisperer to appreciate this sculpture’s fine form – and who wouldn’t want this champion in their stable of stylish lighting?

fathers day style

7. Technics EAH-AZ70W Wireless Headphones, £239, Amazon

Could this set be his new best buddy? With cutting-edge acoustics, voice-activation (think Alexa and Siri), 18 hours of battery life and active noise cancellation, these wireless earbuds offer optimum performance. Also available in black.

fathers day style

9. Multicoloured Japanese Framed Wall Art £32 (was £40), Black Palm Tree Print Framed Wall Art, £28 (was £35), Debenhams

If his walls are looking a little lacklustre and he appreciates contemporary, clean lines, some eye-catching prints, like these, could work wonders.

fathers day style

10. Geo Black Glasses – Set of 2, £21.60 (was £24), Red Candy

These octagonal glasses have enough pulling power to stir his interest, especially if you encourage him to sit down and put his feet up, while someone else fixes the drinks.

fathers day style

11. Gentleman’s Hardware Suitcase BBQ, £80, John Lewis

The ultimate showcase for the BBQ king, this portable pit is great for the garden and future camping trips. All that’s missing is the bag of coals and sizzling selection of meats, sauces and sides.

fathers day style

12. Retro Matchbox Seat Pads, £35 each, Graham & Green

While we may have to settle for armchair travelling and staycations this summer, these easy riders featuring dream destinations such as Las Vegas and Palm Springs will definitely be on his bucket list.

fathers day style

13. Loft Lois Set of 2 Garden Chairs in Teal, £119, Marks & Spencer

When it’s time to unwind in the slow days of summer, these designer-looking chairs channel a boutique hotel feel, with their stylish functionality and comfort. As well as being ideal for patios, they’ll look just as cool in a conservatory or man cave come autumn.

How to Dry Home-Grown Blooms

home grown dried flowers

Make everlasting mementoes and gifts by growing and drying your own flowers, with help from expert floral artist Bex Partridge.

Gardeners may be looking for new ways to make the most of their fruit and flowers this year – and dried flowers are once again catching on. Head-dresses, gift cards, wreaths and framed indoor displays can all be made using dried flowers you’ve grown yourself.

Floral artist Bex Partridge, author of a new book, Everlastings, explains: “Most of us have probably done this at some point and felt the joy of discovering a forgotten pressed bloom as it flutters from the pages of a book.

“While I usually press smaller flowers and leaves, I’ve recently enjoyed drying bigger branches and ferns. The results can be quite stunning and, when included in arrangements, add structural charm.”

home grown dried flowers

What are the best flowers for drying?

“As a general rule, the best plant material to dry tends to have slightly woodier stems that are less juicy in feel – think delphiniums rather than dandelions,” advises Partridge.

The best include Alchemilla mollis (lady’s mantle), astrantia, foxgloves, delphiniums, meadowsweet, honesty, globe thistles, sunflowers, nigella, hydrangea, allium, poppies, scabious and statice, although there are many more, she says.

“Start with perfect specimens, making sure the petal edges are nibble-free. It’s important to press them as soon as you pick them too, otherwise the petals will begin to droop and that will negatively affect the end results.”

Avoid big, blousy blooms

“Most flowers respond well to pressing, with the exception of big, blousy blooms that are too full of moisture or have too many layers to dry out properly, although individual petals can be separated and dried,” says Partridge.

“Daisies, nigella, bluebells and poppies will bring you stunning results. Think about the form of the flowers when pressing – you can press the heads alone or the whole stem and leaves for a striking display.”

home grown dried flowers

What about air drying?

This is the simplest way to dry flowers en masse. Begin by stripping all unwanted foliage from the stalks, leaving some of the top foliage surrounding the flower as it adds extra texture and gives a more natural appearance to arrangements.

Gathering a handful of stems together, wind a length of string or twine around them a number of times, securing it with a tight knot at the end, and leaving enough string to form a loop to hang them with. The stems themselves will shrink as they dry, so make sure you’ve tied the bunches tightly enough to keep them together, but not so tight the stems get crushed.

Ideally, bunch flowers of the same variety together for ease when you use them, or store them in boxes and try to ensure the flower heads aren’t sitting too close together to allow for good air circulation.

Air dry bigger blooms upright

Bigger headed blooms dry better facing upwards, as it results in a more open appearance and, if they have particularly heavy heads, ensures they don’t droop. Partridge uses a reclaimed riddle (flat sieve) for this.

“Stripping the stems of all foliage, I slot each stem individually through the small holes until the head of the flower rests on the mesh. I attach a hook in the centre of the riddle or an upside down wooden crate, and hang it in my drying cupboard.

“If you don’t have a riddle, you can use some fine metal mesh or chicken wire secured to a frame – or a cardboard box with holes punched through would do.”

home grown dried flowers

When air drying…

Always try to dry your materials in a dark place, as light bleaches colour out of flowers. The space you use should be normal room temperature and completely free of moisture in the air. Ideal spots are airing cupboards, cupboards under the stairs, or a dry, shady shed.

You can buy hooks and herb hangers to hang from the ceiling.

How long will it take?

Most things will have dried within three to five weeks, and can either be left hanging where they are or transferred to storage boxes lined with newspaper or tissue paper.

Avoid placing too many bunches on top of each other, to prevent crushing delicate buds and flower heads, then store them in a dark, dry space until you need them. Materials can last many years stored this way.

home grown dried flowers

What if you’re short of time?

“Possibly the easiest method is dry evaporation,” says Partridge. “The beauty of it is, you can enjoy the flowers while they dry, and if it doesn’t work as you’d hoped, you can just compost them.”

After stripping the flowers of any unwanted foliage, and definitely anything that sits below the waterline, put the flowers in a vase and add approximately two inches of water. Ensure the ends of the stalks sit in the water.

Then wait – it can take a few weeks for the flowers to dry completely. There is no need to top up the water. This method works particularly well with hydrangeas, which can be fickle when dried in other ways. Gypsophila, spray roses and mimosa respond well too.

If you’re using a flower press…

Cut off unwanted foliage and use flowers in their prime. If necessary, dry the petals and leaves with kitchen paper or a tea towel to ensure they’re totally dry before pressing them. Store in flat large envelopes or cardboard boxes, with the pressed flowers separated with tissue paper.

And if you don’t have a flower press…

A big book works just as well – as long as you don’t mind a few marks on the pages.

Everlastings by Bex Partridge is published by Hardie Grant, priced £14.99. Available now.

Preview Property For Sale Finchampstead


We are pleased to bring you a preview of this property in Wellingtonia Avenue, which is due to go to the open market soon at a guide price around £1,500,000.

Wellingtonia Avenue is a sought after area on the cusp of Crowthorne / Finchampstead in Berkshire.

Take A Video Tour of the Grounds and Setting

This character five bedroom house is set in beautiful grounds of around 1.5 acres and full details will be available soon. For now please take a look at the video tour of the grounds and outside of the property, and we will soon be able to access the property again to obtain interior photographs and video content.

This character home is in a prime location less than a mile from Wellington College.

You can always arrange to view early by telephoning 01252 842100.

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

Moving On During Covid-19

Moving On Photo Icon

The prospect of house sales in the short to medium terms is relatively easy to judge, because we are working with house buyers and sellers alike every day, so their motivations and the drivers of the market conditions are there for us to interpret. Much harder is the outlook beyond six months or a year.

We can therefore say with confidence that the initial period post lockdown is likely to show positive levels of house sales activity, which given the impact on society of Covid-19 is an outcome I would not have predicted about two months ago.

Will There Be A V Shaped Recovery?

People appear to have a determination to defeat the virus by following through with their ambitions and dreams, as if demonstrating their defiance of it in their actions. I have also seen other wider economy indicators, simply based on discussions I have had with business leaders based in Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire. From local builders who are seeing new commissions for house extensions, to web designers who can’t cope with the level of new work coming their way there are more and more business people saying their order books are filling up once more.

The irrepressible human spirit to fight back is not something to underestimate, so there might be a better initial recovery that first anticipated. Perhaps not a capital V shaped recovery, but at least a snappy lower case one. That doesn’t mean we are not in for a long haul in the broader economic sense, but I am nevertheless convinced that people will strive to make the best of their lives especially as Covid-19 has reminded us just how fragile and even fleeting life can be.

McCarthy Holden estate agents sold board

House Viewings Recommence

The Governments announcements today has given the green lights to allow house viewings to recommence, but these will occur with strict social distancing protocols.

House buyers will soon be able to view their houses of choice and some of the social distancing protocols will include, and once a viewer has confirmed that they have no symptoms or have had no contact with anyone with symptoms for the past 14 days the following protocols will apply.

• Only one viewer can be present at a time, no children will be allowed in a property (this is because avoiding the touching of surfaces is difficult with young children).
• The owner/tenant will leave property for the viewing.
• We will supply the viewer with disposable gloves and mask subject to our supply allowing for this.
• The viewers will be allowed to walk around and ask not to touch anything.
• In order to maintain social distancing, the agent will not be able to enter every room with the viewer.
• When the viewing is completed, the agent will lock up property and leave and dispose of gloves and use hand sanitiser.

The House Market / Buyer Attitudes

You might be surprised to hear of the level of buyers who have agreed a property purchase on houses they viewed pre-lockdown, especially on new homes. From around £400,000 to £3.5m. house sales have been agreed so I remain impressed with the resilience of house buyers, who continue to remain upbeat about their moving plans.

Furthermore, 95% of the sales arranged we had in place at the start of lockdown, continue to remain in place with vendors and purchasers keeping focused on the opportunity to exchange and complete sometime soon.

Emerging Markets

The biggest emerging market is likely to be from people wanting to leave London and other large cities or towns, to find a new home in a rural or village setting, yet remain within reasonable distance of London etc. That is a positive for the home owners we act for on the Hampshire / Surrey / Berkshire borders, especially those who live in property worth between £1.5m. and 6m. in our area of operation

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


Re-Opening High Street Branches

We will gradually open our high street property showrooms, but this will be done cautiously and with strict social distancing protocols. Currently we are able to get houses to the market and conduct viewings without the need for our branches to be open, so we are planning the physical openings around the 1st June.

The biggest lesson during lockdown, was just how effectively we can operate with technology such as Zoom and Skype, so any gradual return to the high street branches will not interfere with our productivity uptake.

The Weeks Ahead

In the week ahead we will be giving special focus to our new homes selection of properties for sale, and also cater for the emerging market of house buyers leaving London for rural living.

So if you are thinking of selling a home in the rural or semi-rural areas of Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire, then contact us by email for a free no obligation property appraisal.

John Holden – Chairman

7 Tips for Turning Treasured Photos into Works of Art

photo art

Give walls a new lease of life with creative displays and DIY galleries. Gabrielle Fagan finds out how.

Let’s face it, staring at the same bland four walls every day when you’re holed up at home can really dampen the spirits. So why not wake them up a bit, by displaying some photos and art?

This could be the perfect way to showcase your favourite images (and create an impressive backdrop for all those Zoom and Houseparty sessions), plus it’ll help keep the space fresh and interesting during self-isolation.

You might not have a Picasso hidden away in the loft, or a stash of prints to hand. But you probably have got loads of brilliant photos stored on your laptop and phone that you could simply print off and frame, or have professionally transformed into works of art.

Wondering where to begin? Here, Clare Moreton, from bespoke photo wall art specialists CEWE Photoworld, shares seven top tips on how to use images to transform your home…

photo art

1. Mix and match

“Get creative by designing a gallery wall that’s eclectic, with a mix of styles, sizes and types of print that will transform any room into a bright, eye-catching space,” says Moreton. “Combine framed photos with typographic prints, currently so on-trend, and maybe art deco-style canvases.

“Avoid a bland and rigid approach,” she adds, “this should be free-flow to suit your taste, so use a mixture of colours and patterns.”

PICTURE THIS: There are no hard-and-fast rules on creating the perfect design. But to give the arrangement cohesion and focus, place your largest item in a central position first, and then add smaller items around it.

By all means, use a spirit level to make sure pictures are level, but in the end trust your eye: dado rails and ceilings, especially in older properties, are not always level.

photo art

2. Lean on me

“There’s no reason to think you need to hang all of your artwork in order for it to look great on display,” says Moreton.

“It may not be possible anyway, if you live in a rented property and there are restrictions on what you can do. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a gallery.

“Make the most of your fireplace, units and shelves by simply stacking and leaning your prints and framed photographs on them. It’s an arty and simple way to introduce colour and design to your home and you can simply refresh the look by introducing new pieces whenever you want.”

PICTURE THIS: Choose frames carefully and it will pay dividends visually. They don’t have to be pricey – you can paint old frames with spray paint or chalk paint to get the look you want.

photo art

3. Natural perspective

“If you’re craving the great outdoors in these difficult times, and who isn’t, create a corner in your room inspired by the natural world,” suggests Moreton.

“Vertical and horizontal panoramic canvases are a modern and versatile way to introduce colour and style into difficult-to-fill spaces. A mix of close-ups and views will add interest, but keep to a colour theme for the most striking display.”

PICTURE THIS: Don’t hang works of art too high on the wall – a common mistake. The ideal height of the centre of a picture (if there’s no furniture below it) is between about 155-160cm off the ground.’

photo art

4. Seeing double

“There is nothing more stylish and classic than a symmetrical gallery wall,” Moreton enthuses. “Interior decorators often double up – on everything from a pair of chairs or end tables to two floor lamps, on either side of a fireplace or bed. It essentially creates two matching halves and adds up to one visually appealing room.

“To really make your symmetrical gallery wall stand out, choose images that share a common colour theme. Monochrome or sepia always work well,” she suggests.

PICTURE THIS: Choose prints in identical sizes and in matching frames, hang symmetrically and keep an equal amount of space between each photo (around two inches) for a chic and modern take.

photo art

5. Stop and stair!

“Choosing a common theme across your displayed artwork can really help to bring the whole wall together,” Moreton points out.

“It’s also a great way to showcase your unique style and bring focus to something you’re passionate about. It can be anything from nautical paintings for a fresh seaside theme, or a display of photos of your pets alongside prints with your favourite inspirational quotes.”

PICTURE THIS: An arrangement of prints is an easy way to enliven a neglected corner, like a landing or along a stairway. Do bear in mind that if there’s a lot of traffic up and down stairs though, especially children, picture fixings should be secure. It may be necessary to anchor either side of the back of the frame.

photo art

6. Look back in time

“If you have old albums of family photos, this could be the perfect time to sort them out, get them copied and create a montage of your family ‘through the ages’,” says Moreton.

“These photos are special and will evoke a positive emotional response when you see them, putting a smile on your face and allowing you to reminisce over wonderful memories each day.”

PICTURE THIS: Curate images so that you follow a theme, which could be baby pictures from each generation grouped into one frame, or family groups in another.

Alternatively, follow one family member’s pictorial story in a set of single frames. If you’re really creative, insert sections of hand-written letters from family members appropriate to the era between the photos, to further evoke the time.

photo art

7. Window on the world

“It’s got to be armchair travel only for the moment. But displaying photos of your holidays and journeys, whether here or in faraway places, will remind you of happy times and is a truly personal way to decorate a wall,” says Moreton.

PICTURE THIS: Experiment with different styles, textures and tones to bring photos to life. If you’re grouping your own family shots consider placing a professionally shot image of the location you’ve visited at the centre of the arrangement or frame a map of the area to add interest.

CEWE Photoworld creates Classic canvas prints, from £12.99; Framed photo prints, from £19.99; Photo posters, from £2.49, and Aluminium prints, from £17.99. Visit cewe-photoworld.com.

7 Top Tips for Setting up a Home Office

setting up a home office

Suddenly joined the home worker crew? Here's how to get your new workspace set up, says Luke Rix-Standing.

Once the preserve of reclusive novelists, working from home has suddenly gone from occasional to near-universal.

Recent years had already seen a shift towards more remote and flexible working, to be fair – but the coronavirus pandemic has forced countless businesses to set up shop at home.

If you’re totally new to home working, chances are it’s a steep learning curve. Here’s how to stop grieving over the office coffee machine, and make your home workspace feel as productive and positive as possible…

setting up a home office

1. Banish the bedroom

It’s tempting to start working from the comfiest spot in the house – your bed! But this possibly isn’t the healthiest idea.

Conventional commuting marks a clear divide between work and home, and it’s important for both your lifestyle and sanity that the distinction in some way continues. Not everyone has a choice of course, but if it’s remotely possible, do not work where you sleep.

2. Let there be light

Natural light inherently increases your energy, positivity and creativity, and is an essential tool in the battle against cabin fever. Try to position your desk near a window, and experiment with your computer placement so that you aren’t dazzled by screen glare at certain times of day.

Once the natural light fades, keep your workspace illuminated with well-positioned lamps, that will keep the room feeling fresh whatever the time of day. Just imagine having to spend your office hours cooped up in a poky, dimly-lit basement. Horrible.

setting up a home office

3. The personal touch

If you’re used to an office and enjoy heading out to work, working from home can be an irritation – but it’s also a chance to assert creative control. Productivity permitting, you can listen to music, wear whatever uniform you please, and design a workspace that works just for you.

You could opt for the classic family photo on your desk, or (if you’re seeing enough of them at the moment!) a novelty calendar, colourful print, or attractive timepiece. Your desk likely claims the lion’s share of your day, so don’t worry about looting other rooms to make it feel right. All those things Karen the office manager said you weren’t allowed in the real office – now is their time to shine.

setting up a home office

4. Go for green

Whether it’s an open-plan office block or your own front room, workplace wellbeing still matters. It’s been proven time and again that even low-level exposure to greenery provides a mental boost, and you might really be missing your outdoor foliage fix right now.

From spiky little cacti to large-leafed philodendrons, there’s plenty of plants that can spruce up your desk. A trip to the local garden centre is probably off the table for a while but there are lots of options for buying online and having nature delivered direct to your door.

setting up a home office

5. Cut the clutter

Tempted to stock your new home desk to within an inch of its life? Colour-coded binders, a symmetrical splay of pencil pots, a year’s supply of post-its, paperclips and Pritt Sticks, and your favourite coffee mug precariously squeezed in by your keyboard…

Everything runs like clockwork – until you have to takes notes or a phone call, and you find you’re balancing your notepad on your knee. Keep clutter to a minimum and go for ‘less is more’ to keep it calm and functional.

setting up a home office

6. Invest in your chair

Your constant companion as you go about your day, an ergonomically sound chair is among the most important ingredients in any effective workspace – including when you’re at home.

Posture and comfort are important and hunching over your desk for hours on end is a fast-track to back and neck pain. Even for the most tight-fisted part of payroll, this is not the place to scrimp.

setting up a home office

7. Optimise your setup

However, even the best chair in the world won’t save your spine if your tech isn’t set up properly. Remember that the top of your computer screen should be roughly level with your eye-line. If your desk is too short, or your screen too small, use a box or stack of books to lift your machine to the right height, and use a separate keyboard for a laptop so you’re not gazing downwards all day.

Every home worker runs the risk of claustrophobia, so retaining a little floor space to pace or stretch could be godsend by the end of a long week. Finally, the one thing your office is useless without – connectivity. If there are any known WiFi blind spots in your home, avoid them like the plague.

House Market Comment During Covid-19 Lockdown


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


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.


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 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.

Character New Homes For Sale, In Hampshire

plot-one-castlebrook North Warnborough Property For Sale
Plots One to Four Castlebrook

7th March Open Day Viewing

Make a diary note to visit the Castlebrook creation by T A Fisher, who have made the centrepiece of their new development the converted Edwardian Jolly Miller village pub into four beautiful and very different new homes with all the passion and care that they are renowned for.

This is a beautiful building carefully bought back to life, and this news item is showcasing plot one, which is for sale freehold at a guide of £450,000.

We have used some photographs with digitally staged furniture, carpets etc., just to help you visualise how wonderful this beautiful property could be as a home.

Plot One Kitchen / Diner

The fine living room space then leads to a fantastic kitchen / diner dual aspect room, with a fully fitted kitchen space which includes a Bosch double oven, a Bosch induction hob, a Zanussi integrated dishwasher, and a Zanussi Integrated Fridge/freezer.

The Living room overlooks the part walled garden, which also features the T A Fisher garden shed as a nice benefit.

Plot One Cloakroom

On the first floor there is a lovely master bedroom, with a superb en-suite shower room. Bedroom two and the family bathroom are also on the first floor.

Plot One En-Suite To Master Bedroom


The location of Castlebrook is perfect for those who want to be on the doorstep of outdoor opportunities from a great selection of places to shop to a wide range of places to eat, drink and relax through to walks and cycling around the Basingstoke Canal and nearby King Johns Castle.

king john's castle Odiham Hampshire McCarthy Holden estate agents
Nearby King John's Castle - Aerial View By johnjoe.co.uk

For more details about the open day viewing event on 7th March, telephone 01256 704851

You can go to this link if you would like a download pdf brochure 

Romantic Meets Rock ‘n’ Roll: Steal Pearl Lowe’s Electric, Bohemian Style

Pearl Lowe Faded Glamour

It's all about 'faded glamour' for Pearl Lowe and her designer friends. Gabrielle Fagan finds out how to get the look.

Singer-turned-fashion designer Pearl Lowe is renowned for her quirky, individual style – so it’s probably no surprise that she defiantly dances to her own tune when it comes to her decor choices too.

Her home – a rambling 11-bedroom Georgian mansion in Somerset – showcases her trademark blend of grand, romantic chic and cool rock ‘n roll.

“Many people might regard my style as quite ‘eclectic’,” observes London-born Lowe. “That’s fine by me, because I don’t believe there should be any rules – unless you want your house to be a hotel,” the 49-year-old declares with a smile.

She sums up her interior style as “faded glamour” – and this is also the title of her new book, which celebrates her approach to decor and creating spaces she loves.

Pearl Lowe Faded Glamour

Faded Glamour gives us a glimpse into not only Lowe’s own home, but also the private spaces of her super-creative designer friends, including Solange Azagury-Partridge, Alice Temperley and Sera Hersham Loftus.

There are colourful living rooms, intimate bedrooms, and plush bathrooms which showcase the many different ways ‘faded glamour’ can be interpreted – from urban to rustic, and bohemian to vintage.

“I’d say it’s a gloriously decadent yet well-lived-in decorating style. I think of rooms that are elegant yet whimsical at the same time,” muses Lowe.

Pearl Lowe Faded Glamour

She shares her own home with her musician husband, Danny Goffey (of the Nineties band Supergrass), and their children Alfie, 23, Frankie 20, and Betty, 15. Her daughter, model Daisy, 31, is a regular visitor too.

Throughout the property, Lowe has managed to deftly mix precious pieces of antique furniture with contemporary colourful pieces from flea markets, which happily sit alongside 18th century mahogany wood and 1950s plastic retro.

Wear-and-tear and the patina of age aren’t hidden. Instead, they’re revered and deliberately embraced.

“To me, an object that was once the height of elegance but is now a bit battered has far more allure than something brand new,” says Lowe.

“What I enjoy is the mix, the alchemy you create when you play around with styles… where chintz sits alongside animal print and sultry velvets; rococo suddenly goes a little rock ‘n roll, and a freestanding 1970s Anglepoise lamp sets it all alight.”

Pearl Lowe Faded Glamour

As a designer, she draws inspiration from many quarters: art, film, photography, music, travel and – above all – her friends, especially Rachel Ashwell, the designer and writer who introduced us all to ‘shabby chic’ back in the Nineties.

Ashwell, says Lowe, “taught me how to create spaces that are not just decadent and stylish, but deliciously inviting and alluringly comfortable”.

Here, we take a sneak peek at some of the homes bringing ‘faded glamour’ to life…

Colourful Faded Glamour: Solange Azagury-Partridge

This interior literally “sets your spirit soaring”, enthuses Lowe. This is a home where sofas and chairs are covered in a giddy array of colourful fabrics and throws, and who’s style takes influences from the East.

It’s a harmony of surprising contrasts – a sofa in a Sanderson flowery chintz sits alongside one dressed in an Ikat print, while yellow velvet clashes with shocking pink toile de Jouy wallpaper, and mismatched Moroccan rugs form a rainbow patchwork across the floors.

Fabric used for walls adds to a sense of warmth as well as enriching the palette of shades, while the woodwork is painted baby pink.

“Solange’s bold use of colour is full of wit and wonder and brings a smile to your face,” says Lowe.

Pearl Lowe Faded Glamour

Jewels for the home

Chic Faded Glamour: Alice Temperley

Award-winning fashion designer Temperley, who dresses some of the most stylish women in the world – from the Duchess of Cambridge to Beyonce – playfully mixes old with new in her home, a Regency mansion.

Giant disco balls hang from original plaster roses on the ceiling, and black-and-white photographs and contemporary art line the walls of wood-panelled reception rooms.

A mix of intriguing finds from local flea markets – twinkling candelabras, vintage glassware, bespoke china and stacks of rare books – are just some of the treasures that embellish the space and enhance character and interest.

“What I love about this house is that despite the grandeur of the building itself – which in other hands could look austere and formal – Alice has, with her inherent romantic aesthetic, created a whimsical, enchanted world here,” Lower says admiringly.

Fashion a glamorous home

Bohemian Faded Glamour: Sera Hersham-Loftus

Fashion and interior designer Hersham-Loftus has banished walls from her London apartment, and transformed it into a giant living space simply divided into areas by beautiful panels of fabric.

Hand-made muslin curtains – appliqued with vintage lace and hand-dyed – hang over windows, and ceilings are painted black. She’s furnished with day-beds, antique furniture and a jungle of vast potted plants throughout, which conceal subtle lighting effects.

The designer’s style, says Lowe, is ever evolving, and “sumptuous, seductive, exotic, and highly unique”.

Go natural

Faded Glamour: Inspirational Interiors And Beautiful Homes, photography by Amy Neunsinger, is published by CICO Books, priced £19.99. Available now.

Pearl Lowe Faded Glamour
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