3 Ways to make a Splash with Seaside Style this Summer

sumer style

Ride decor's most enduring wave and conjure a cool coastal sanctuary. Gabrielle Fagan channels her inner beachcomber to source beautiful beachy buys.

sumer style

The decor tide has come in, and brought with it one of our favourite ever looks – seaside style.

Evoking a serene landscape of sandy beaches and blue water in your home will transport you to a shoreside idyll in no time, no matter where you live.

“Coastal style’s a hugely popular theme that comes in year after year with the predictability of the tide,” says Susan White, design director, Hillarys.

“Small wonder, because living by the sea or hearing the splash of waves against rocks can instantly refresh body and soul,” she adds. “It continues to have an enduring influence on interiors, albeit with a different twist each season, which helps it to stay fresh.

sumer style

“You can go full-on with seagulls, anchors and statement motifs, or just bring an understated coastal feel to your home. You can simply surf the style, or plunge in with a full-on nautical approach.”

“Pick up on blues by all means but do incorporate natural materials, such as wood and stone. It’s all about reflecting the influence of nature and creating a setting that’s uncluttered, relaxing and somewhere you can escape stress,” says White.

“For a finishing touch, add decorative objects into the mix, such as a dried grasses, chunky throws for texture, and a collection of pebbles or a basket of shells.”

sumer style

Dive into deep blues

Shades reflecting blue skies and seas are a winning combination, and are on trend this year.

“Choosing the right colour palette is essential in nailing the modern coastal look,” says Becky Snowden, interior style advisor, Furniture Choice.

“It’s all about recreating the zen and relaxation of being by the sea, but while light blue and white are the usual go-to colours, experiment with darker hues like indigo and navy for a 2019 update,” she suggests. “If you prefer neutral white and cream, use that as a base and contrast with rich blue tones to create a calming, ocean-themed vibe.”

TIP: Pick up on deck chair stripes – a traditional choice for a coastal setting. Feature striped cushions in a living area, a rug in a dining room, a simple throw on the bed, or some nautical’ n nice accessories.

sumer style

Take in sea breezes

“When creating a coastal inspired room, it’s crucial to keep the overall mood light and airy,” says Vanessa Hurley-Perera, chief product officer, Sofa.com.

“Natural finishes like linen and cotton are a great choice for a coastal look, as these textures have a lovely breezy feel about them. Keep things simple by opting for light toned fabrics, and create interest by layering an accent chair or some scatter cushions in a subtle stripe.”

Her colour palette choice is blues muted with a soft grey undertone, complemented by whites and ash grey. “Stripped and varnished or painted floorboards are characteristic of a beach-side sanctuary, but soften the effect with scatter rugs,” she suggests.

TIP: Accessorise with beachcomber style elements and you’ll almost be able to smell the sea. Grasses, weathered woods, pebbles and shells add subtle colour and texture, says Hurley-Perera.

“Replicate seashore finds – a fragment of coral for a paperweight, glass bottle vases, netting for hanging plants. This unexpected highlights will bring your look to life,” says Hurley-Perera, who suggests scenting the air with an ocean-inspired fragrance.

sumer style

Talk to the sand

For a cool, coastal vibe, pick up on mellow, golden sand shades for a shoreline-inspired setting.

“Colours inspired by sandy, sun-drenched beaches are the newest way to interpret shoreside style,” says Sue Kim, senior colour designer, Valspar.

“These golden hues are the perfect neutrals to transform a home into a relaxing summer escape. As they’re on the warmer end of the colour spectrum their mellow glow will work well even when the sun’s gone down and the light is colder.

“Warm, pink sandy shades are a stylish alternative to creams or yellow,” she adds. “And accents of green, blue or aqua can be all that’s need for a shot of enlivening colour.”

TIP: Rich, deep gold shades will work well on a feature wall, whereas lighter sandy hues won’t overwhelm if used throughout on walls and ceilings. For a more contemporary take, experiment with an ombre effect by blending two colours on a wall. With a level and pencil, draw a line where you want the colours to fade into each other, then brush back and forth or use a sponge to blur the boundary.

sumer style

7 Decor Updates to Make your Home Sizzle with Style this Summer

summer style trends 2019

Want to transform your rooms into super sunny spots? Gabrielle Fagan reveals some mini decor projects and best buys.

summer style trends 2019

Your home’s interior can be as sunny as you like, no matter the weather – all it takes is a few simple, budget-friendly updates and best buys.

Indulge in the sweetness of the season with sugary shades and accessories; transform your outlook with exotic prints and a mural; change your view with blue-sky window shutters reminiscent of Mediterranean scenes; turn up the heat with tropical foliage (real, faux or palm print will do the job), and last but not least, create your very own ‘hot spot’ for essential chilling on sunny days.

Be inspired and put your own spin on the suggestions – and your space will brim with personalised style all summer long…

summer style trends 2019

1. Scoop up style with ice-cream shades

“We’re all naturally drawn to certain colours and tastes. Why not choose a paint colour that reminds you of your favourite flavour ice cream?” says Sue Kim, senior colour designer, Valspar. “If you’re really brave, go for them all, in a perfect palette of ice cream colours. Choose sugary shades like Strawberry Parfait, Blueberry Mash, Pineapple Crush, Pistachio Cookie and Peach Syrup.”

If you really want to transform your home landscape, splash out on an exotic beach scene mural. Wallsauce’s Acapulco Wall Mural, from £32 per square metre, could have you reaching for the sunglasses and swimsuit.

TIP: If a medley of sweet shades is just too rich for your taste, add one or two as ‘pops’ of colour set against an overall dominant neutral, such as Coconut Juice (Premium Blend v700 Walls & Ceilings, £28 for 2.5L), suggests Kim. Alternatively, choose one shade for a furniture up-cycle project, or for doors and skirting boards for a smart update (use Valspar’s Premium Blend v700 Wood & Metal).

summer style trends 2019

2. Sweet tooth decor

Follow that ‘sweet’ theme with fun stools from Andrew Martin, that look as though you’ve bagged a handful of pick ‘n’ mix. As a ‘healthier’ choice, add a couple of apple ornaments – a five-a-day decor delight.

summer style trends 2019

3. Create a ‘hot destination’ wall

“Bring instant sunshine to a room, no matter what the weather outside, with summer- themed prints,” suggests Omar Obaid, co-founder of art print specialists, Abstract House.

“Photos of dreamy beaches you’ve enjoyed can transport you back to happy times and conjure nostalgic memories, while images of those tropical destinations on your bucket list could inspire you with hopes for the future. Research has also shown that just looking at pleasing art can lift mood and reduce stress.”

TIP: The best way to unify a frame set for a gallery wall is to choose a quality wooden frame in a single colour, advises Obaid. Co-ordinate artwork by colour, tone and subject, but don’t be afraid to experiment with different layouts. A simple trick to help you visualise the artwork display is to lay all the frames on the floor, and swap the pictures around until you find the perfect fit or your favourite shape.

summer style trends 2019

4. Change your view

“If your home could use a seasonal pick-up, windows are a great place to start,” says Susan White, design director at Hillarys. “Whether the light in the room is natural, artificial, reflected, muted or diffused, it can have a major influence on our mood and feelings. Shutters are widely regarded as the ultimate window dressing both from a style and security point of view, allowing plenty of light and air to filter in, and they have a perfect summer feel.

“They can be a boon for allergy sufferers, because as long as they’re wiped down regularly they’re less likely than swathes of fabric to attract dust mites,” she adds. “Tier-on-tier styles, where the top half operates separately from the bottom, offers privacy while still allowing light to flood in from the top.”

TIP: Summer brings longer days and shorter nights, so fitting a blind with a dim-out or black-out fabric is a good solution for restful sleep, especially in children’s rooms. Many Hillarys fabric blinds, roller, pleated, vertical and Roman, have special sun-reflecting features (Blackout Roller Blind from £108).

summer style trends 2019

5. Turn it tropical

“We’re great fans of the sultry colonial aesthetic – tropical birds, hibiscus flowers, fresh palms and bright ferns are key elements in creating this look,” says Georgia Metcalfe, founder and creative director, The French Bedroom Company.

“This on-trend look combines perfectly with furniture of all styles from classic to contemporary, for a style that is reminiscent of holidays, summer, jungle-freshness and nature – all things that make our hearts sing!”

summer style trends 2019

6. Let it grow

“Fresh green foliage and plants are the ideal way to bring an outdoor, summery feel to a room, and living wall planters have to be one of our favourite finds in recent years,” enthuses Claire Bishop, from garden centre specialists, Dobbies.

“They were incredibly popular at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show and the finished look is hugely Pinterest-worthy. A ‘vertical garden’ gives you a statement focal point – you could have a kitchen herb garden or a leafy living room jungle feature – and because they come in sets of three ‘pockets’, they can be tailored to suit your space.”

TIP: “These are quick and easy to fit and simple to use, even if you’re not very green-fingered, and as they’re vertical they take up little space,” promises Bishop. “Simply water the top row of the living wall and this will cascade down to water every pot.”

summer style trends 2019

7. Conjure a summer spot

Rearrange furniture for summer and position it to take advantage of any sunlight coming into a room, so you have your very own corner where you can stretch out and bask on hot days.

“We all like a special place at home where we can kick back, put our feet up and enjoy lazing on summer days,” says Charlie Marshall, founder of furniture company, Loaf.

“Colour choices play a big part in the atmosphere of a room. While light, pastel tones always work well, recently there’s been a big move towards zingier, bright statement shades – yellow, orange and pink – as people become more adventurous about decor. Demand for yellow upholstery is up 64% this year, and this colour’s brilliant way to give a room a visual lift and can’t fail to cheer a space on a dull day.”

TIP: Turn an awkward space – a corner or under a window – into a mini-retreat by building a simple wooden bench. Make it comfortable with foam seat cushions covered in your favourite fabric.

Father’s Day: 10 Great Gifts for the Green Fingered Types

fathers day gift garden

From new gloves and accessories to the latest high-tech tools, Hannah Stephenson rounds up her top picks for plant-loving dads.

Chelsea garden product of the year

Want to treat your dad to a gardening gift he’ll enjoy on Father’s Day and beyond? Whether it’s a plant, a patio pick-me-up or a shiny new power tool, here are 10 of the best…

fathers day gift garden

1. Tea Plant Fresh-T (£14.90, Lubera.co.uk)

Your tea-loving dad could make his own cuppa from scratch with a tea plant, Camellia sinensis, a shrub which should grow well in British gardens in either a large container or in the border. For best results, plant it in acid soil in semi-shade (use ericaceous compost if you’re putting it in a pot). It grows to around 1m in diameter and the leaves are great for green teas and fragrant tea infusions.

fathers day gift garden

2. EGO Powerload 38cm Loop Handled Line Trimmer (£279 inc battery and standard charger, Egopowerplus.co.uk)

Does your dad huff and puff when he has to replace the line on his grass trimmer? Well, this new tool from EGO can end all those frustrations of fiddly threading, looping and getting it wrong. This new gizmo, using Powerload technology, automatically winds your line trimmer. Just thread the line, press the button and the tool will do the rest. It’s got a lot of power – a 56V Arc Lithium battery gives the trimmer the oomph it needs to tackle the toughest jobs and there’s also a soft start function and constant speed control so your trimming remains consistent. Yes, it’s more expensive than other line trimmers but think of the hours of frustration you’ll be saving your dad.

fathers day gift garden

3. EasyHedgeCut 18-45 (£119.99, Bosch-garden.com)

This new cordless hedge trimmer from Bosch is great if your old man has small hedges and limited space. It’s powered by an 18-volt battery, so there’s no faffing with cables, it’s lightweight, and will cut around 160 square metres per battery charge. Each charge will last around 40 minutes and it takes 105 minutes to recharge. The battery is also interchangeable with many other Bosch DIY and garden tools.

fathers day gift garden

4. Garden Chair (From £570, Theposhshedcompany.co.uk)

A comfortable place to sit is an asset in every garden – and now your dad can have a personalised chair to relax in. Thanks to the treated wood and weatherproof design, it can be left out all year round, removing the hassle of storing it away. Available with the engravings ‘Head Gardener’, ‘The Boss’, ‘Dad’s Chair’ or ‘Grandad’s Chair’, the Posh Garden Chair adds a lovely personal touch to the garden. Additional words can be engraved for an extra cost.

fathers day gift garden

5. Master Gardener Gloves (£5.99, Townandco.com)

It’s not only Father’s Day coming up. If your dad wants to join in National Weed Your Garden Day on June 13, you could get him a new pair of gardening gloves just in time. The Master Gardener gloves will enable him to tackle weeding, pruning and a host of other tasks in comfort. They offer protection against thorns and other sharp objects and have excellent grip in wet and dry conditions.

fathers day gift garden

6. Father’s Day Gift Coffee Mug (£14, normadorothy.com)

Make him his morning coffee in his own personalised contemporary, botanical inspired enamel mug, which he can use when he’s outside too – whether taking a break from gardening or venturing further afield on a camping holiday or fishing trip. White with a black curled lip, you can choose your own personalisation and the reverse side can also have wording of your choosing on it.

fathers day gift garden

7. Super Slice Weeder (£29.99, Burgonandball.com and good garden centres nationwide)

Any dad who feels overfaced by the amount of weeding he has to do should welcome the new Super Slice, which has an extra wide head for rapid weeding. It tackles weeds on a range of surfaces, from contemporary garden aggregates to allotments, beds and borders. Hand-forged in Sheffield, the high carbon steel arrow-shaped head is 23.5cm wide, skims just below the surface and slices through weeds with minimum soil disturbance, cutting on the push and pull stroke.

fathers day gift garden

8. Folding Kneeler and Seat (£32.95, Harrodhorticultural.com)

Double up with a luxury kneeler and seat for your dad, which will also fold up flat so should be able to fit in his shed. The seat is sturdy and ideal for perching on at a comfortable height, while the padded foam kneeling pad will provide the support he needs when weeding or working at ground level. It has arm supports for help with getting up too.

fathers day gift garden

9. GoodHome Grill Set (£30, B&Q stores and Diy.com)

If your dad is a dab hand on the barbecue, make the job even easier and more enjoyable by treating him to a hot accessories kit, which includes everything he’ll need for forking, flipping, skewering and cleaning. All the accessories are uniquely designed and made from long-lasting stainless steel with soft grip handles. They come in a handy case for easy storage too.

fathers day gift garden

10. National Garden Scheme open garden visit (Prices vary, Ngs.org.uk)

Whether your dad is an allotment ace, a horticultural hero or simply a cake connoisseur, why not treat him to a garden visit over the Father’s Day weekend?

The National Garden Scheme, which raises money for nursing and health charities through admissions, tea and cakes, has 218 exceptional gardens opening on June 15 and 16. For details, visit ngs.org.uk/fathers-day-gardens/.

Play with the Power of Pink for Punchy Settings at Home

pink house living

Gabrielle Fagan catches up with the The Pink House's Emily Murray, to discover how to harness the prettiest colour of the rainbow.

Once cast aside as ‘girly’, the colour pink is fast shaping up to be the hottest shade for interiors.

Sugary pinks through to snazzy scarlets, pretty peaches and even funky neons are the winning shades on the palette this season.

“Don’t make the mistake of thinking that pink is just for girls. Not any more it isn’t,” declares Emily Murray, creator of award-winning blog, The Pink House, which celebrates the colour in all its hues in her own pink decorated home.

pink house living

It’s been such a success since she started it three years ago (she has more than 60,000 followers on Instagram) that her new book, Pink House Living: For People Cheating On Fashion With Furniture, was a natural follow-on. It’s a brilliant guide to seeing the world through ‘rose-tinted’ decor spectacles.

Stepping inside her home is proof of pink’s magic – she shows me around rooms which ooze personality, thanks to the magical touches of her “all-time favourite colour”.

pink house living

Pink painted walls, a pink kitchen island, neon pink signs, splashes of pink to highlight period features, as well as an array of punchy pink accessories, are just some of the ways in which the colour has a starring role in her schemes.

Yet with her skill and sense of style, she makes it sing – rather than dominate or shock – in her Edwardian semi, and this uber-cool interior leaves you wondering why you’ve never thought of using pink more.

pink house living

The mother-of-two is always hot on the trail of perfect pink homes, and her book features an array of brilliant pink settings from around the world, as well as her own rooms.

Even she’s surprised her own pink passion is so widely shared. “I’d underestimated the power of pink. It turns out it’s incredibly popular on every level and in every way. We love pink,” says Murray delightedly.

“We love it on front doors, on walls and on rugs. We love it on Instagram, in magazines and in fabric charts. We love it in barely-there blush, fuchsia and neon.”

pink house living

For those fearing a pink overload, she stresses that embracing the shade “doesn’t mean I like all my rooms dressed in floor-to-ceiling fuchsia… Even when I have free rein to decorate exactly as I chose, I exercise pink restraint.

“For me, the key to making the most of this joyous colour – for I fully believe that pink has an amazing power to make people happy – is using it in moderation.”

pink house living

In the living room, her dream was fabric walls, saturated colours, pattern clashes, loads of luxe and plenty of pink.

“My aim was to turn a north-facing space into a cosy place for cuddling up in the evenings, but with a rock and roll twist.”

She’s achieved it with a “pink ‘play’ neon sign – a copy of my own handwriting – made to order”, as well as a cocktail bar created from a corner cabinet upcycled in green and gold leaf. Hidden LED light strips give it the impression of glowing from within.

pink house living

For those who fancy taking the plunge, she advises: “If you want more colour at home (it doesn’t have to be pink) simply choose your favourite shade and go for it.

“Make a scrapbook or Pinterest board of settings with colourful decor which naturally attracts you. You don’t need to design the whole room at once – start with a piece of art or wallpaper and then slowly add further changes, so a room develops.”

“There are so many ways to use pink,” adds Murray. “You can accentuate a particular architectural feature, piece of furniture or art work, and sometimes simply use it to allow another gorgeous colour to shine.”

Pink House Living: For People Cheating On Fashion With Furniture by Emily Murray, photography by Susie Lowe, is published by Ryland Peters & Small, priced £19.99. Available now

pink house living

Innovative, Eco-Friendly and Smart: Check Out the Gardening Products of the Year

Chelsea garden product of the year

From eco-friendly home composters to super quick pizza ovens and inventive garden lighting, we look at 7 garden products of the year.

Want a composter with a difference? Or a light that doubles as a Bluetooth speaker? Or even a pot or seed tray made from bamboo?

These are just some of the finalists for the RHS Chelsea Product of the Year title which may take your fancy in the coming months, whether you’re looking for the practical, the sustainable or the high tech.

Here are 7 clever products which have impressed the RHS judges:

Chelsea garden product of the year

1. Obelisk Composter and Obelisk (£39 composter, £59 obelisk, wilstone.com)

This ingenious invention launching at RHS Chelsea Flower Show features a galvanised mild steel compost bin which you put directly on to your flower bed or in your vegetable patch, and an elegant obelisk which goes over it which you can use as a support for anything from climbing beans to sweet peas or clematis.

You scoop compostable waste directly into the drum and the resulting compost inside then feeds the growing plants directly into their roots without you having to lift or carry the compost anywhere.

Chelsea garden product of the year

2. Cuba LED lantern and combined Bluetooth speaker (£249, lightinnovation.com)

Shed a little light on your patio and enjoy music at the same time with this new lantern and combined Bluetooth speaker, which will be available from the end of May.

It’s highly portable and can be used indoors or out, recharging from 0 to 100% in six hours. The dimmable 7 watt LED light will work for up to eight hours on one charge and the lantern will connect to any Bluetooth-enabled device, from a phone to a tablet.

Chelsea garden product of the year

3. Swan Watering Can (£8, madewithhusk.com)

With an emphasis on sustainability, this swan-shaped indoor watering can (to be launched on May 20) is fully biodegradable and made from 75% waste bamboo powder collected directly from farms. Testing has shown that the product can last up to seven years, although this was based on a pot that had been left outside, so it’s likely that if kept indoors, it will last longer.

Chelsea garden product of the year

4. Hotbin mini (£150, hotbincomposting.com)

Following in the footsteps of the award-winning Hotbin which can transform your food and garden waste into rich compost within 30-90 days, its smaller sister, the Hotbin mini (launching at Chelsea) does the same thing but is easier to house in smaller gardens.

It reaches temperatures of 40-60C which allows the efficient composting of more types of waste, more quickly. All food and garden waste can be added in, including cooked food, small bones and perennial weeds.

It’s also sealed well enough, with a bio-filter in the lid, to stop odours that can attract rats and flies. Add a bulking agent such as wood chippings to aid the process.

Chelsea garden product of the year

5. ‘Grande’ Plant Belles (from £53, will be available to order from Chelsea plantbelles.co.uk)

To mark the company’s 10th year of trading, it is launching three new ‘grande’ plant belles, elegant but robust steel wire frames to support larger freestanding herbaceous plants, unruly shrub roses and other floppy heavy headed shrubs like Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’.

The new taller, wider and heavier plant belles are inspired by the Sissinghurst method of training shrub roses, offering needy plants support once grown through, but also give the gardener the chance to prune and train shrubby plants in creative ways, by looping and tying branches back to the structure.

Chelsea garden product of the year

6. Ooni Koda Gas-Powered Outdoor pizza oven (£244.99, uk.ooni.com)

If you love eating pizza in the open air and you don’t want to wait too long, you may invest in this smart, sleek pizza oven which you can assemble in seconds, place on your patio and have a pizza ready in 60 seconds.

Flip open the foldable legs, put the stone baking board into the oven, connect it to a gas tank and pre-heat the oven for 15 minutes. It reaches temperatures of up to 500C, which is why it can cook your pizza so quickly. It has a clean, streamlined silhouette paired with one-touch gas ignition for easy, convenient outdoor cooking.

Chelsea garden product of the year

7. Bamboo Pots and Seed Trays (£3.99-£6.99, www.haxnicks.co.uk)

Continuing the eco-friendly theme and the war on plastics, these bamboo pots and seed trays from Haxnicks are made from bamboo and rice, can be used indoors or outdoors and are reputed to last for five years or more. They’re also biodegradable and compostable, so give a feelgood factor to gardeners who really care about their environment.

13 Fab Floral Finds to Spruce up your Space for Summer

chelsea flowers inside your home

Channel some RHS Chelsea Flower Show magic with some blooming marvellous home accessories. Sam Wylie-Harris reveals her pick of the bunch.

Fashions and trends may come and go – but year in, year out, the world’s most famous horticultural event never fails to spark us all to have a spring fling and take inspiration from its fabulous flowery displays.

We’re talking about the RHS Chelsea Flower Show (May 21-25), of course. Whether or not you can make it to the gardening extravaganza in person, embracing blooms in home styling won’t be a challenge – and there’s a vivid landscape to pick from.

“We’re seeing more adventurous colour and fabric selections coming through when it comes to upholstery, and our love of florals continues to flourish,” says Vanessa Hurley-Perera, chief product officer, Sofa.com

“These bold choices are increasingly popular for accent pieces, such as armchairs, footstools and cushions,” she adds. “Long gone are the days of matching three-piece suites and itsy-bitsy prints – customers are plumping for larger designs and brilliantly bold tones.”

Check out our 13 favourite floral finds to shop now…

chelsea flowers inside your home

1. Snowdrop 2 Seat Sofa in Periwinkle Chelsea Bloom, £1640 (other items from a selection), Sofa.com

“For SS19 we’ve developed a new floral fabric, Chelsea Bloom, in Periwinkle (Blue) and Petunia (Pink), which features large blooming flowers against a dark background,” says Hurley-Perera. “The dramatic design appears to have almost been hand-painted onto your sofa, and works beautifully amongst our rich and vibrant colour scheme of super soft velvets.”

chelsea flowers inside your home

2. Millport Pair of Small Fabric Scatter Cushions, currently reduced to £55 from £75, Furniture Village

You can never have too many cushions, especially when pretty pink sprigs are planted among the greenery.

chelsea flowers inside your home

3. Feather Juju Wall Decoration, £85, OKA

Very swish, this feather deco in the shape of an exotic flower deserves a Best in Show. And if you really want to transform a wall, you could frame a mirror with a bloom on either side.

chelsea flowers inside your home

4. Gold Birdcage Tealight Holder, currently reduced to £39 from £79, Furniture Village

The joy of this whimsy deco is that you can dress it up to suit any scheme. If your space is a pop of colour, mix’n’match bright tealights. Otherwise, keep tealights white and tie a silk ribbon through the loop, or – even better – drape some faux greenery along one side of the cage.

chelsea flowers inside your home

5. Portmeirion Botanic Garden Plate (8 inch), from £15; Teapot (2pt), £66; Teacup and Saucer, £18.50, Portmeirion.co.uk

Throwing a garden party? When it comes to floral-inspired teas, sometimes you just can’t beat the classics. We’ve been foraging for the celebrated Botanic Garden range for 40 years; the collection offers endless possibilities with its iconic designs.

chelsea flowers inside your home

6. Yankee Candle Salt Mist Rose, £23.99, The Yankee Candle Company

Yankee Candle are celebrating their 50th anniversary with 16 limited-edition fragrances. We love Salt Mist Rose, which first came to light in the Nineties, and is characterised by ‘the beautiful scent of delicate roses by the sea’.

chelsea flowers inside your home

7. Set of Six Peony Glasses, £69, Graham & Green

Versatile and very pretty, these coloured tumblers are etched with blooms and will be the toast of Happy Hour.

chelsea flowers inside your home

8. Bentwood and Rattan Flower Chairs and Table, £850 for the set, Raj Tent Club

Ideally, this terrific trio is best suited to a conservatory, but would look just as striking in a sunny corner or bedroom setting. Especially with a trendy succulent resting on the table.

chelsea flowers inside your home

9. Morrisons Flourish Jug, £14, Morrisons

This gorgeous jug imbibes a meadow of wild flowers.

chelsea flowers inside your home

10. Pack of Twenty Boho Floral Napkins, £3.95, Graham and Green

A favourite with party planners, you don’t need to be a flower child to prize these quirky napkins.

chelsea flowers inside your home

11. Flower Market Everyday Bowl, £59, Amara

With a lovely vintage feel, you can almost sense the exotic fragrance resonating from this beautiful bunch.

12. Morrisons Flourish Duvet Cover & Pillowcases Sulphur Meadow Bouquet, from £16; Ditsy Bedspread, £27; Bumblebee Cushion, £8, Morrisons

This new Flourish range brings the countryside one step closer to home with its blousy florals, ditsy prints and sweet wildlife illustrations which feel like a breath of fresh air.

chelsea flowers inside your home

13. Face Imprint Plant Pots and Vases, available in White, Green and Taupe, £10.95-£17.95 each, Graham and Green

As if these quirky plant pots aren’t eye-catching enough, they could give your favourite house plant a new lease of life.

Dream of Owning a Walk-in Wardrobe? Here’s How to Make it Happen

walk in wardrobe ideas

As far as home-improvements go, walk-in closets are certainly a luxury - but that doesn't mean you can't seriously consider it. By Luke Rix-Standing.

walk in wardrobe ideas

When considering a property, for most of us, walk-in closets are probably not at the forefront of our minds. Not that we don’t like the idea of them – but they’ve traditionally been seen as a luxury few can afford, more fit for a Great Gatsby adaption or the castle of a Bond villain.

Creating that walk-in wardrobe of dreams, however, might be a lot more doable than you think. It’s a great option for making use of a small space, whether it’s a neglected cubby or an unused ‘spare room’ that’s really not at all big enough for anything else.

We’ve pulled together few tips to get you started, from the flagrantly flat-pack to the outrageously opulent…

walk in wardrobe ideas

Start with a sartorial stocklist

If you’re considering a walk-in closet, make sure it’s for the right reasons. Generally speaking, this is about something you really want personally, rather than adding value. “When adding value to a property, every square-foot counts,” says Julian Prieto, CEO of property renovation and refurbishment specialists, EDGE2 Properties (myedge2.com). “And in the UK, real estate is about how many bedrooms and bathrooms you’ve got. This kind of project is usually for assets people want to live in for 10 or 20 years.”

Walk-in closets are generally purpose-built and vary enormously based on space, budget and need. There is no catalogue case study or IKEA starter-pack that can construct a walk-in closet over a weekend – you’re going to have to think carefully about what will best work for you. This will determine the design of the space.

“Rule number one is to understand your own wardrobe,” says Prieto. “You need to be able to plan your walk-in closet around what you have and what space you need to allocate.”

A working professional might prioritise clothes rails for hanging suits and shirts, for example, while an avid shoe collector may want a pull-out shoe rack, or perhaps an area of cubby holes for artful storage.

If you’re going to go to the trouble of building a walk-in wardrobe, it needs to perform perfectly, and empty space will likely ruin the aesthetic. Resist the temptation to go overboard on baskets, drawers and other accoutrements – the majority of wardrobes will need to maximise hanging space.

walk in wardrobe ideas

Consider how to make best use of the space

Now you know what your room needs to accommodate, it’s time to go about fitting it into the available space. This will be slightly different for everyone, but unless you’re a rich list regular or minor royal (“I’ve built closets at around 300-square metres,” says Prieto), we’re assuming it won’t be particularly big.

“There are some rules of thumb when it comes to small spaces,” says Prieto. “I would always suggest using just one wall and leaving the opposite side free – if there are two sides that are too close to each other, you won’t be able to see your own clothes. If that’s not an option, I suggest an L-shape, taking up one side and the front.”

Rather than using up floor area, the key is to maximise vertical space – large wooden units with compartments can help utilise every inch, stretching from floor to ceiling. Mirrors are the oldest trick in the book for doubling visual space, and putting one on the far wall allows you to preen and pose from any part of the room.

Unless you’re victim to a major moth problem, consider going door-less. “That’s why it’s called a walk-in closet,” says Prieto, “so you can walk in and see all your clothes at once. If you can afford it, you could put in glass sliding doors – they open sideways, so don’t get in the way when you access your garments.”

walk in wardrobe ideas

Don’t rush the planning

Walk-in closets may sound like the preserve of the rich and famous, but they can be as simple as shelving units lined against a wall. To do-it-yourself, the proof is in the planning – working out dimensions and carefully apportioning space.

“It can be quite fun,” says Prieto, “and shouldn’t take more than two weeks to put together. The planning should take longer – when you get into that room, you need to know exactly what you’re doing.”

If you go bespoke, you’re entering a brave new world of opportunity – and of cost. Prieto says a small, simple closet tends to start at around £2,000, while those at the pinnacle of high-end can check in at £65,000-£70,000. “We’re talking 300-square metres, bespoke furnishings, good carpets and a chandelier in the middle,” he says. “Everything done down to the last detail.”

walk in wardrobe ideas

The ‘ultimate luxury’

Of course, if you have a bank vault to rival that of Scrooge McDuck, then your options are almost limitless. “Hidden safes are common for high-end customers,” says Prieto. “Recently, I was asked to put a jewellery safe hidden in the space between wardrobes. It was supposed to open vertically with a key card – when she said she wanted it, I had to ask if she’d seen it somewhere because I didn’t know where to go for it. We had to get it from Switzerland and it took four months and £25,000 just to fit it. I thought it was bonkers!”

That sort of scenario might be totally unrelatable for most of us, but with a bit of planning and imagination, a walk-in closet could be an achievable goal.

“It’s the ultimate luxury – but you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg,” says Prieto. “Research what you need, take stock of what you have, and measure the space you’ll be fitting. That’s all you need to do.”

walk in wardrobe ideas

8 Cracking Ways to Set the Scene for Easter

easter decorating

Planning some Easter entertaining? Gabrielle Fagan reveals simple decor displays and finishing touches to bring the occasion to life.

It’s time to get all your chicks in a row for Easter, with some truly egg-cellent decor!

A holiday gathering will be much more memorable with a cheerful springtime table setting, with plenty of seasonal touches to bring it to life – from pretty hanging eggs on a tree, to colourful wreaths and, of course, a sprinkling of cute, decorative creatures, be it bunnies or chicks.

Style it out and that setting’s sure to be Insta-worthy, promises Rebecca Stanton, a stylist and visual merchandiser at Dobbies.

“Easter decorating includes some of my favourite styling elements, including pretty pastels, blooming bouquets and fresh foliage,” she says. “A mix of candy-coloured decorations will bring a table to life, especially with the addition of miniature chicks and Easter bunnies to set the tone for the occasion.

“Nothing says springtime like a bunch of gorgeous tulips, helping bring a touch of the outside in,” Stanton adds. “Frankly, you can never have too many flowers!”

easter decorating

1. Branch out for that finishing touch

Time was, decorated trees were just for Christmas – but they’re rapidly becoming an essential ingredient for Easter decor too.

“Within the home, an Easter tree is an eye-catching statement piece which can be dressed up or down, depending on your style,” says Lisa Rutherford, stationery and seasonal events buyer at John Lewis.

“They’re becoming ever-more popular. A small collection of hanging eggs can look beautiful and under-stated. If a full-sized tree isn’t for you, consider a smaller table-top tree version, or just a simple collection of branches in a vase with a few ornaments for a mini display.”

easter decorating

2. Keep it cute

Hop to it and gather a collection of chicks and bunnies, which children will love but can also be all you need to pay a subtle nod to the season.

Hang several on a wire across a window frame or mirror (double the visual impact), or hang individually on cupboard handles or from a pendant light above the table.

easter decorating

3. Crack a top table display

“A meal, and the table setting, is at the centre of many Easter celebrations,” says Rutherford. “It’s worth investing in the ingredients for a scheme which you can use again. Consider following a colour scheme – yellow or zingy green are both top choices for a crisp, fresh look.

“Whether you want something fun and functional, maybe a grass table runner and a line of tiny pots of faux daffodils, or a little more sophistication using pastels and muted florals, your table offers a space to be creative and playful. It doesn’t need to be over-elaborate to be successful.” John Lewis has a Talking Tables Grass Table Runner, £18, and Artificial Daffodils in Kraft Wrap, £4, which would be ideal.

easter decorating

4. Treat the table

Splurge on a few new pieces of Easter-inspired homeware to give a table setting a lift, or to decorate a mantel or shelf. They may be just the finishing touches you need.

If that’s beyond the budget, with all those chocolate treats to pay for, simply fill a clear glass bowl full of eggs (traditionally, real eggs are hard boiled and dyed with food colouring) and place in the centre of the table, or opt for a simple spring bouquet from the garden.

For a quick fix: Use a ribbon or twine to tie a hanging decoration to each napkin and personalise with a label displaying each guest’s name.

easter decorations

5. Hunt down style

Easter wouldn’t be the same without an egg hunt – after all, you don’t want to be responsible for making the Easter bunny redundant! Pop up a sign, scatter some artificial eggs, and have chocolate treats as prizes.

easter decorating

6. Bring in nature

Nature’s waking up after winter, with blossom and new growth galore – a beautiful feature of the season. Reflect that indoors too, with floral wreaths and garlands (faux ones are so good nowadays, it’s hard to distinguish them from the real thing). Hang on a door or wall, or use as a table focal point.

easter decorating

7. Create a stunning centrepiece

What you need:

4 birch branches; twine; seasonal flowers and foliage (such as eucalyptus, ivy, mimosa or forsythia); six decorated Easter eggs or Easter chocolates; two large cup hooks.

How to do it:

  • Lay the four birch branches on a large flat surface and loosely arrange them parallel to each other, with a gap of approximately 3-4cm between each.
  • Wind twine several times around an outer branch. Leave a length of 3-4cm of twine and then wind around the next branch and so on, until you get to the far side and the branches are all connected. Do this 20-30cm in from each end of the display.
  • Gather your chosen foliage and flowers together in two loose bunches and bind their stems. Lay each bunch on top of the birch branches with the bound stems overlapping in the middle. Tuck the bound ends into the opposite bunch to hide untidy ends.
  • Tie lengths of twine to your Easter eggs, ready for hanging. Hang your birch branches and foliage from the ceiling with cup hooks and twine, then tie on your Easter eggs in varying positions and at different heights. Tweak the arrangement of the foliage or add more, once the centrepiece is in place, to achieve the look you want.
easter decorating

8. Enter into the spirit of Easter

Don’t confine decoration to inside the house – wreaths hung on a front door, or a tub of spring flowers in a porch makes an attractive, welcoming touch, and will hint at more decor treats inside.

Make a Splash for Wildlife: Here’s how to Create your own Mini-Pond

As charities focus this year's Wild About Gardens challenge on ponds, this step-by-step guide will help you build your own pocket-sized pool.

create mini pond

Fancy a pond but don’t have much space? Now’s your chance to make waves with a mini-pond – which will not only look pretty, but will also attract beneficial insects and other wildlife to your plot.

Gardeners across the UK are being urged to encourage wildlife with water, as ponds form this year’s Wild About Gardens challenge, from The Wildlife Trusts and the RHS.

The UK has lost ponds, rivers and streams at a rapid rate, and only a small amount of our natural ponds and wetlands remain, the charities warn.

Helen Bostock, senior horticultural advisor at the RHS, observes: “Even cheap container ponds made from upcycled materials will quickly be colonised by a whole host of creatures, and help form a living chain of aquatic habitats across the neighbourhood.”

Here’s how to build a mini-pond yourself…

create mini pond

1. Choose your spot

Your mini-pond will need some sunlight, but not full sunlight all day. Make sure it’s in shade for some of the time. Light shade is fine and will reduce water loss. If you are thinking of placing it under a tree, a few fallen leaves aren’t a worry. However, heavy shade under a tree, together with lots of leaves blowing in, isn’t a good spot for a container pond.

A patio is ideal as it’s where you are likely to spend time watching all the wildlife come and go. But remember to add a wildlife ramp inside and out, and ideally cluster with other pots so amphibians such as frogs have a little cover while coming and going.

The best way to create shade is with another plant or two (they can be in pots), perhaps a Japanese maple or some tall grasses.

2. What type of container is best?

Be creative – is there anything you could upcycle, such as a washing-up bowl, wheelbarrow basin, sawn-off plastic dustbin, half barrel, rubber trug, large plant pot or sink?

You can easily recycle an old sink or bowl, but make sure it’s watertight. If you are using a garden container that has drainage holes in the bottom, use a piece of pond liner to cover the holes.

Unglazed terracotta containers may lose water through the sides very slowly, though quicker on hotter days. It depends on the quality of the terracotta. There will be a degree of water loss through evaporation, whatever the container.

Your pond will need a wide ‘neck’ so wildlife can get in and out. Other than that, the shape really doesn’t matter. Sink your pond or add a ramp for creatures to access.

create mini pond

3. Choose the right plants

Water forget-me-not and flowering rush are pretty. Other suitable specimens include waterlily (Nymphaea ‘Pygmaea Helvola’), Lesser spearwort (Ranunculus flammula) and Starwort (Callitriche stagnalis).

Avoid anything that is too invasive or vigorous. Water soldier and sweet flag are unsuitable for small ponds.

4. Place your plants in baskets

Place aquatic plants in baskets lifted up to the correct level of the water by standing them on bricks, stones or other pots. Aquatic baskets are ideal as they allow plenty of water flow around the roots, although normal planting pots can work too.

Use aquatic compost, which can be bought from specialist aquatic nurseries. This is heavy (so plants won’t float away) but low in nutrients (so the water won’t turn green with algae).

create mini pond

5. Fill your mini-pond with rainwater

Install a water butt to collect rainwater with which to fill your pond, and continue to use this water to top up if levels drop. Check on levels a couple of times a week in hot weather and top up as needed.

But don’t panic – even if the levels drop to half way, most creatures will survive. If desperate, just use tap water, but this contains nutrients so it’s not a good idea to regularly top up with this.

You won’t need a pump in a mini-pond to stop the water stagnating. It may go a little green at first or before the plants fill out, but it will settle down.

6. Tackle weed problems

If you get blanket weed, remove it by hand or use a barley straw extract available from pond specialist companies. Water in a wildlife pond will usually settle into a balance without needing a lot of treatments.

For more information, download the Big or Small, Ponds for All booklet – a step-by-step guide to creating the perfect pond at Wild About Gardens (wildaboutgardens.org.uk).

create mini pond

Tempted to Renovate your Home? TV’s Kunle Barker shares 4 Top Tips for getting started.

The Renovate Don't Relocate regular imparts some insider wisdom for tackling a big project.

Current weather patterns might be trying to trick us into thinking otherwise, but it is now officially spring – so what better time to cultivate your own little bit of domestic rebirth?

With house prices constantly rising, home renovation is an increasingly common option for those seeking a significant change, without the immense expense or hassle of moving. Of course, a big project like renovating can add serious value to your property too, or simply provide the extra space or refresh you’ve been dreaming of.

how to start renovation Kunle Barker

But renovating is no flat-pack wardrobe, and for the vast majority it’s not a DIY affair – so where do you start?

Step forward Kunle Barker, presenter of ITV’s Love Your Home And Garden’ with Alan Titchmarsh, expert on Renovate Don’t Relocate with Sarah Beeny, and host of Grand Designs Live with Kevin McCloud.

Renovations are a big task – but Barker has handled a fair few, all under the rigorous glare of TV cameras. Here are his top tips for getting started…

how to start renovation Kunle Barker

1. Assemble your team carefully

“Always hire the most skilled person for the job. That means choosing an accredited architect who will not only be able to help you imagine your ‘grand design’, but deliver it on time and to budget, without compromising on quality.

“Choose a good, reliable and stable builder with a track record you can trust. Your architect will be able to recommend someone (ideally someone they have already worked with) who will deliver good value for money.

“Ensure your builder provides you with an itemised quotation, and your architect with a schedule of work and full specifications (for materials and fittings). This will allow you to make a thorough assessment your pricing.

“Even with recommendations from your architect, make sure you contact your selected builder’s referees directly, and try to visit a live site they are working on. Don’t be afraid to ask their referees lots of questions about the project delivery!”

how to start renovation Kunle Barker

2. Set up clear boundaries for the project

“It’s imperative that you get the right contract established for the project. Your architect will be able to help you with this. It will cost extra but it’s absolutely essential for establishing terms such as payment clauses.

“Should you employ a project manager? Yes, ideally an independent project manager from a construction consultancy – it will end up saving you money in the long run and will help the programme to run to schedule.

“Set your parameters for success (this could be defined by quality of work, budget and timescale) and communicate these to everyone in the project team. Your architect, builder, project manager and suppliers all need to understand what you are working towards.”

2019 money financial predictions

3. Supervise – and keep an eye out for ways to cost-cut

“Price check, negotiate and place bulk orders with suppliers where possible. For smaller items and sundries (screws, fixings, brackets, etc), shop around and split them from bulk orders if necessary, in order to get the best price.

“Control your budget carefully by linking it to your programme, having weekly meetings with your project manager, and always adding contingency as backup.

“Design hacks, such as better storage solutions (instead of an extension), lowering windows (instead of widening), changing materials and updating your kitchen can deliver amazing results at much lower cost.”

how to start renovation Kunle Barker

4. Don’t underestimate the final touches

“Final touches – like adding mirrors, flashes of colour, statement furniture and fabrics – can have transformative effects on your space. Don’t be afraid to play around with what you like and try to work creatively with what you have. Statement pieces mean you don’t need to get rid of your existing things to radically change the feel of a room.

“And don’t forget the garden. They are often the most neglected parts of properties and offer the opportunity to provide a natural extension of your home – add colour and decoration with planting and accessories.

“Lighting is fundamental to the feel of a space – never underestimate the value of getting this right. The key is flexibility – you want to be able to light the room in several different ways – and lamps are a great way to deliver this and create atmosphere.”

how to start renovation Kunle Barker

Kevin McCloud and Kunle Barker will be appearing at Grand Designs Live at London’s ExCeL from May 4-12. For more information and tickets, visit granddesignslive.com.

Contemporary Connections Exhibition In London this March

Art Noble Exhibition March 2019

CONTEMPORARY CONNECTIONS
Curated by ArtNoble
Tuesday 19 – Saturday 30 March 2019

Following on from 2018’s debut exhibition in November, ArtNoble is proud to present Contemporary Connections, a group exhibition displaying works by seven contemporary European artists.

In a world constantly heading towards self-absorption, Contemporary Connections aims to initiate a dialogue among artists, artwork, audience and collectors, creating enduring connections that are fundamental to our happiness, existence and wellbeing. Whilst not being tied down to a specific thematic or style, Contemporary Connections will display a distinct selection of works, ranging from ceramics, to photographs and paintings, including the feature image above by Yaprak Akinci – Keep your barrels safe.

Art Noble Exhibition March 2019
Alberto Selvestrel - Senza Titolo

These works have been chosen to stimulate interactions between the works and artists, with the aim that these interactions will propagate also to the collectors and visitors.
To enhance this theme of connectivity, talks, workshops and presentations by the artists will be held at the gallery to complement the exhibition. Details of these will be announced on our website.

Art Noble Exhibition March 2019
Gaila Adair - Piccadilly Hill
Art Noble Exhibition March 2019
Pierantonio Maria Micciarelli - Verso il Tibet

ArtNoble’s exhibition ‘Contemporary Connections’ opened on 19th March and will be on show until Saturday 30th March at Willesden Gallery (95 High Road, London, NW10 2SF).

On weekdays we will be open from 9am until 8pm whilst at weekends we will be open from 10am until 5pm.

Come by, say hi and enjoy the beautiful works on display by our artists.

You can find a selection of photos from the exhibition and follow this link to access the online catalogue.

ArtNoble is a distinctive exhibition platform dedicated to the promotion of unique contemporary talents. Founded by Matthew Noble in the summer of 2018, ArtNoble aims to provide an alternative to the standard art gallery model by sourcing talented and upcoming artists irrelevant of their background and medium and curating site-specific exhibitions, with the ultimate vision of connecting the artists and their works to an ever-growing number of collectors.

Artists

Gaila Adair
Yaprak Akinci
Cinzia Castellano
Alberto Fusco
David Gee
Pierantonio Maria Micciarelli
Alberto Selvestrel

Art Noble Exhibition March 2019
Alberto Fusco - Aura
Art Noble Exhibition March 2019
David Gee -Reptilian Bow

More about ArtNoble

ArtNoble is a distinctive exhibition platform dedicated to the promotion of unique contemporary talents. Founded by Matthew Noble in the summer of 2018, ArtNoble aims to provide an alternative to the standard art gallery model by constantly sourcing talented and upcoming artists, irrelevant of their background and medium, and curating site-specific exhibitions.

ArtNoble’s mission is to overcome the barriers and exclusivity typically associated with today’s art world, with the ultimate vision of connecting artists and their works to an ever-growing number of collectors, art enthusiasts and interior designers.

Operating in this way allows ArtNoble to make contemporary art accessible to everyone, creating mass engagement with several different artworks, increasing the perspective with which art is perceived, engaged with, and ultimately, acquired.

Currently operating in London and Milan, ArtNoble represents several contemporary artists. Further to artist representation, ArtNoble also works closely with a number of interior designers, procuring art for their client’s homes, along with acting as an advisor to a number of private collections.

Web site artnoble.co.uk

Art Noble Exhibition March 2019

How to Transform a Garden Shed in a few Steps – and 7 ways to use the Spruced up Space.

There's much more to sheds than cobwebs, unused bikes and rusting toolkits. The possibilities are endless.

shed renovation

Do you have an old shed (or even a relatively new one) quietly rotting away at the bottom of your garden? It may be housing a few rusting tools or a long-neglected lawn-mower, but is it really paying its way?

Sheds like this can go one of two ways. They can drift towards degradation, becoming grotty grime-holes that kids run past after dark, ruining the aesthetic of even the most lovingly crafted garden. Or, you can take things in hand and turn it into a designer den.

We know which option we like the sound of. Tempted to work some transformation magic and take your shed from drab to fab? These simple steps should help get you started, along with seven suggestions for how to use it…

shed renovation

Start with the basics

First things first – you need your shed to be structurally sound, and even relatively recent models often aren’t. Replace any rotting boards, use wood filler to seal gaps in the walls or ceiling, and mend any really large cracks that can’t be papered over.

Next get the place clean – and we’re not talking about a 30 seconds of abject sweeping, we mean properly clean. You don’t want to be painting over any spider’s webs or lichen and you certainly don’t want to conceal any rot, so a once-over with a fungicidal wash might be a worthwhile move too.

shed renovation

Perfect your paintwork

Now for the colour: Apply a layer of oil-based primer, and once it dries you’re ready for your first layer of paint (always check products are suitable, and ask a specialist shop for advice if unsure). Paint pumps are much faster than brushes and power sprayers are faster still, but a simple roller will still be perfectly effective.

Remember to put down a tarpaulin to protect nearby areas (grass doesn’t like paint much more than flooring), and cover hinges, handles and window frames with masking tape to stave off unwanted splash. Let it dry, repeat, and let dry again. Depending on your materials, a decent two-coat paint job should last up to five years.

Just like that, your shed has shifted from haunted shack to handsome beach hut.

shed renovation

Keep it cosy

Damp is the number one enemy of a shed-turned-living space, and its number one entry point is from the ground, so it may be time to surface your floor. We recommend vinyl sheeting – it’s relatively cheap, insulating, easy to clean and fares well with heavy footfall. It can even do a creditable imitation of the hardwood floors so many homeowners crave. Most importantly, it’s waterproof, and seasoned DIY-ers can install it by hand in a single sheet.

Unless your shed is for seasonal use only, you may need to insulate more than just your floor. Mineral wool; wood fibre; insulation board – you’ve got plenty of options, but it’s advisable to get in a professional for a job like this.

shed renovation

Fixtures and fixings

Your shed is now fundamentally functional, but if you are really going to make the most of your new-found space, you’ll probably want lights and a heater. Battery operated appliances do work well, but in the long run it may be more convenient to wire up a power supply. Of course, suitability and safety are paramount for anything like this – so call in the professionals before making elaborate plans, and make sure any electrical jobs are done by a qualified electrician.

Otherwise, experiment at your leisure: Deck out the front area as a makeshift patio, hang some fairy lights for extra cosiness. You could even look into adding solar panels to the roof to boost sustainability.

shed renovation

How to use it?

Your shed is your oyster – and pearls are in the making. When it comes to exactly what to do with your newly-spruced up shed, the options are almost endless, and though luxuries like a Jacuzzi might require a little extra elbow grease (and cash!), you can conquer some quite nifty designs with minimal extra effort. Check out these seven ideas for inspiration…

1. The home office

In the age of the internet, laptop and smartphones, more and more people are working from home – and it’s hugely helpful to have somewhere specific to work, that’s away from your TV/bed/toddler. You’ll probably want to add Wi-Fi – and be sure that heater is working in winter – but many a good book has been written and small business begun from the ‘office at the bottom of the garden’.

2. The ‘pub’ shed

This one’s a lot easier than you’d think. Pick up a flat-pack table-top to serve as a bar, throw in a few stools, a dustbin and a cooler (an ice box would do) and technically you’re done. From there, the devil is in the decor: Pin up some posters, chuck a few beer mats on the counter, line the back wall with empty bottles, erect a shelf for your spirits and another for your pint glasses. Before you know it, your mates will be round your backyard every night complaining that you don’t have Sky Sports.

3. The play shed

Playroom or play-house, a little home of their own can keep the kids happy for hours. A cardboard box cooker (or commercially made plastic one) with dishes and utensils, a little table and chairs and they’re set. You might like to help them make curtains for the window or decorate the walls. Maybe even throw in a couple of sleeping bags and let them camp out for the night.

shed renovation

4. The hobby house

Teenage son wants to play the drums? Partner sick of your model train set covering the sitting room floor? Sheds are the perfect place for housing hobbies the rest of family doesn’t share. They may not contain a whole rock band of course, but it’s certainly be better than having them in the kitchen.

5. The art studio

Sheds are particularly good at keeping mess away from your actual home, and allowing the creative process to go on unhindered at any time of day or night. Paint splashes, oozes of glue and a soft layer of wood shavings are much more acceptable in the shed than in the dining room, while paints or tools can be positioned permanently on the walls in perfectly easy reach.

6. The man cave

We’re not sure why this a male thing particularly (women, quite fairly, might like some peace and quiet sometimes too), but the man-cave-shed is certainly a thing. A comfortable old sofa (if it can fit through the door; cushions and beanbags if it can’t), a telly, games console and sound system are all simple plug-ins for the well-wired garden room, and roomier models might squeeze in a pool table as well.

7. The teen den

Rather than escaping to the shed yourself, why not hang onto the house and banish the kids instead? Much the same provision as the man-cave should keep them happy – if perhaps with a different set of tunes. The teens get a bit of privacy while you get a quieter life, while still knowing where they are. Win win.

shed renovation

Eau De Pooch: 12 Ways to Stop your Home Smelling of your Furry Friends

Love your dog but prefer a home that doesn't smell like kennel? Lisa Salmon seeks some simple steps for dealing with that poochy pong. You may feel your dog is just another member of the family - but chances are his distinct odour sets him apart from his human 'relatives'.

That poochy pong often permeates the whole house, although many owners aren’t aware of it because they get so used to it. Visitors, however, will usually be able to quickly sniff out the fact they’re entering a house where a dog lives.

Of course, considering how much joy they bring, dealing with muddy paw prints and hair on the furniture is part and parcel of living with a pet – but there are steps you can take to help minimise the stink factor.

Mandy Jones, director of rehoming services at the pet charity, Blue Cross (bluecross.org.uk), says: “Dogs like to be able to smell themselves in their home, so homes should always smell of them at least a bit. Over-cleaning and removing the smell completely could lead to a dog marking and urinating, which is obviously not desirable.”

Already have a beloved pooch, but keen to find out how to stop the whole house smelling like a kennel? These 12 tips could help…

how to stop your home smelling of dog

1. Wash the dog’s bed

Make sure the dog’s bed is odour-resistant, or at least washable. Usually, beds have a washable cover that you can slip off and put in the washing machine. The inside of the bed may not smell, but if it does you may be able to wash that too – if the washing instructions say you can, and if it’s not too big for the machine. “To minimise doggy smells, make sure they have their own bed and wash it regularly,” says Jones.

2. Wash everything else regularly

If you let the dog on the furniture, Jones suggests using throws that can be easily removed and washed. In addition, regularly wash the dog’s toys, blankets, etc. Also regularly wash your dog’s collar and lead – put them in a pillowcase first to stop the metal bits banging against the side of the washer drum. When washing doggy items, it can help to add a little apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar to the washing detergent – vinegar helps neutralise dog smells.

how to stop your home smelling of dog

3. Brush smells away

Groom your dog regularly, rather than bathing it, to keep its coat clean without washing out essential oils. Jones says bathing may cause skin problems and make matters worse.

4. Check ears and teeth

Smells don’t just come from a dog’s coat, they may also emanate from its ears or teeth, so check these areas regularly, and take your dog to the vet if you smell or spot something that could be a problem.

how to stop your home smelling of dog

5. Use an air purifier

Air purifiers can cut down on airborne odours, and good ones will not only filter particulate matter, but will also kill bacteria and fungi in the air.

6. Introduce nice smells

Although they won’t get rid of a doggy smell, (pet-friendly) air fresheners and scented candles will at least disguise it, as will simply opening windows and letting some fresh air in. “Keep rooms aired by opening windows often, and consider using incense, scented candles or pet-friendly air fresheners to keep rooms smelling pleasant,” suggests Jones. “But don’t spray the dog!”

how to stop your home smelling of dog

7. Clean the floors, carpets and upholstery

Mop hard floors with a pleasant-smelling cleaner, vacuum carpets well, and buy or hire a carpet cleaner and use it regularly to help get rid of deeply embedded dog dander, dirt and hair in both carpets and upholstery on sofas, etc. Always make sure the carpets are completely dry before allowing your dog back onto them.

8. Tackle super-smelly spots

If you’ve washed everything and there’s still a lingering smell, it could be where your dog’s soiled the floor in the past. You may have to identify the source through sniffing the floor close-up, but once you know exactly where the remaining smell is coming from, either buy an odour-repellent product, or make your own odour neutraliser by mixing two cups of white vinegar, four tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda and enough water to fill a spray bottle.

Test the solution on a hidden bit of carpet to make sure it doesn’t discolour it, and if it doesn’t, spray the mixture on the smelly area(s), let it soak in, and then blot it dry with a clean cloth.

how to stop your home smelling of dog

9. Banish with bicarb

Bicarbonate of soda can help to neutralise smells, so put an open container of it near the dog’s toys and/or bed. It can also help to sprinkle bicarb on carpets, leave it overnight and vacuum it up the next day.

10. Buy a new collar

Your dog’s collar may smell terrible, and while most collars can be washed, if it’s old, it might be best to just buy a new one.

how to stop your home smelling of dog

11. Wipe paws

Keep an absorbent door mat and towel by the door and always wipe your dog’s paws when he or she comes in the house from outside, thus preventing him/her bringing in anything smelly.

12. Dry wet dogs completely

If your dog’s been swimming or got wet, make sure you dry him completely to avoid that ‘wet dog smell’ from tainting your carpets and furniture. That means drying thoroughly with a towel, or even using a hair dryer on a cool setting if the dog lets you.

5 Fun Ways to get your Kids into the Garden this Spring

gardening with kids

Lee Connelly, aka the 'Skinny Jean Gardener', says encouraging green fingers is all about making it fun. As the weather warms up, it's time to don coats and wellies and fire up the imagination to encourage your kids to get into the garden, with fun projects to stimulate their interest.

Podcaster, former Blue Peter gardener and RHS social media host Lee Connelly, known as the ‘Skinny Jean Gardener’, is creating a children’s garden at this year’s Ideal Home Show (idealhomeshow.co.uk).

“A study by the National Trust has found that our children nowadays are spending half the amount of time outdoors as we used to when we were younger,” says Connelly. “Getting outside is all about creating memories as a family. Just getting out there, playing games and stimulating the imagination is what it’s all about.”

Fancy getting your youngsters outside for some green-fingered fun? Here, with help from his four-year-old daughter, Olive, Connelly offers five tips on how to encourage kids to get off their screens and into the great outdoors…

1. Give them their own space

Let them have their own patch in your vegetable bed or allotment. If you have limited space, use an old washing-up bowl, putting holes in the base for drainage and then creating a mini-allotment for them.

Good crops to plant include salad leaves and other fast-growing vegetables, so they can see the results quickly. “If you have an allotment, give them their own space to do what they want,” says Connelly. “It gives them a sense of responsibility. Just be there for guidance.”

gardening with kids

2. Encourage them to grow their own

“My daughter didn’t used to like eating vegetables much, until she started growing them,” says Connelly. “But start them off growing something they like eating, or they won’t care about it as much.

“Tomatoes, lettuce and peppers are a good bet. My daughter loves going to our allotment and picking the tomatoes and the strawberries and eating them while we’re down there. Pumpkins and runner beans are also good to sow.”

gardening with kids

3. Encourage wildlife

Children will be engaged when they see butterflies, beetles and other bugs. “We have a hedgehog home in our garden and we often see them in the evenings,” says Connelly. “Make your own hedgehog home – it’s cheap and easy and you can use things you have around the house. Use a plastic box that you can cut holes out of and put up against a fence line. Cover the box with natural materials such as wood. Everything needs to be accessible and easy.”

gardening with kids

4. Make wildflower seedballs

“If your kids like getting messy, this is a lot of fun,” he says. “You get clay, compost, water and wildflower seeds, mix them all together and you make these small wildflower seedballs.

“Dry them on the windowsill and then find a spare area of the garden, throw the seedballs on there and lots of wildflowers will pop up in the summer, attracting bees and butterflies.”

You can also make butterfly fizzy pop by mixing a sugary drink for them. Get a plastic bottle, put a water and sugar mix in the bottle and give it a shake to dilute it, then stuff a sponge into the neck of the bottle and hang it upside down in the garden with string. The sugary mixture will seep through the sponge, creating a magnet for butterflies.

gardening with kids

5. Make a runner bean teepee

Children love to make dens in the garden, but this one could have added interest. Create a wigwam out of bamboo, leaving a space for the entrance. You can then dig a trench around where it needs to be placed, ready to plant runner beans at the end of May or in June.

The beans will grow around the wigwam and provide shelter for the children, as well as some delicious beans. You can move it each year around the garden. Line the floor of the den with bark, gravel or matting for the kids to sit on.

Connelly’s children’s garden at the Ideal Home Show features ideas from schoolchildren, as well as his own designs. He will be hosting gardening workshops at the Ideal Home Show, open from March 22 until April 7 at Olympia London. For tickets, see idealhomeshow.co.uk.

James Martin On Time To Start Embracing British Food

James Martin Great British Adventure and food

Lauren Taylor meets the popular TV chef, after his epic road trip around the British Isles.

When it comes to TV chefs, there are only a few who’ve been chopping, frying and serving up dishes on our screens for more than 25 years – and James Martin, with his straight-talking, homely and down-to-earth manner, is one of them.

Cookery programmes have been a mainstay since Philip Harben showed BBC viewers how to make lobster vol-au-vents back in the 1940s, but even before Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson shot to fame in late-Nineties, Yorkshireman Martin was already a familiar face on telly, and has been ever since.

Following his popular foodie road-trips around France and America, he’s now back with a new show – James Martin’s Great British Adventure on ITV – plus a cookbook of the same name (his 23rd, he says).

James Martin Great British Adventure and food

Now, especially as the Brexit deadline looms at the end of March, is an important time to really embrace British food, says the chef, admitting this was one of the “fundamental reasons” for wanting to do the book and series in the first place.

“I’m a farmer, and this is an amazing country we live in. There are some amazing people producing some amazing food – whether they cook it, serve it, make it, or brew it,” Martin enthuses.

Like a love letter to Britain and its food, James Martin’s Great British Adventure takes viewers and home cooks on a journey the entire length and breadth of the land – from the Isle of Wight for feta and halloumi and Wales for the beef and lamb, to Northern Island for langoustines and Scotland for “the best fruit in the world”, along with many other gems in-between.

“It was one hell of a road trip,” Martin says. “I’ve always wanted to travel but I spent 10 years on Saturday Kitchen in the studio. I was doing home comforts that were all based here, but I wasn’t going anywhere. I wondered what it would be like, to venture out.”

He did venture out – and the result is a showcase of the best of the best; from cooking with Michelin star chefs and some of Martin’s personal food heroes – including Clare Smyth, Sat Bains and Michel Roux Snr (“I pulled my black book of chefs out”), to uncovering little known food producers and suppliers in rural locations.

It’s these people Martin is most passionate about: “The lamb farmer working in -7C up in Scotland, getting up at 5am in the morning, isn’t doing it for a new Range Rover every year – he’s doing it because he’s the seventh generation of the family, and we need to keep supporting that. If nobody shouts about it and we just travel all over the world all the time, that’s not good.”

He’s almost overflowing with stories of fascinating people and underrated produce from his exploration of the British Isles. There’s the vinegar producer in the Orkneys who set up his business in his dad’s garage, a breed of acorn-fed hairy pig called Mangalitsa in the New Forest – and another, Middle White, farmed on the Wales-Gloucestershire border. “It’s the best pork you’ll ever taste, and used to be really famous in the Thirties but now we all want pigs to look like they’ve done 100-metre hurdles, with no fat on them, but that’s where the flavour is,” says Martin.

“There are 200 Middle White sows in the world and this guy has got 100 of them – they’re rarer than the king panda” – but only because we don’t buy their meat. “People are creatures of habit,” Martin adds.

Plus, we import a lot of meat from Europe. Whatever your stance, a departure from the EU will have some bearing on this, and the British food industry in general. “There are positive and negatives,” Martin says. “Fishermen hopefully should be better off because they’ll stop exporting Dover sole and langoustine. But the offset of that is that the floodgates [of import trade] will open to New Zealand and, if we don’t sort out this bloody mess, it will decimate the lamb industry overnight.

“Everyone knows about Welsh lamb, but people always want cheaper and cheaper food – New Zealand can produce masses of it and we can’t compete against them.”

James Martin Great British Adventure and food

But the uncertainty of Brexit isn’t the only reason it’s time to take a closer look at what’s made on our doorstep. British cuisine, with its modern multicultural power, is finally having its moment in the spotlight. “Thirty years ago, we were deemed as the poor cousin around the world in terms of food, but in France I met some of the greatest chefs in the world, and their attitude towards British food and British chefs is totally different. Now we’re on a level playing field, if not better – they see London as the gastronomic capital.”

Famed for recipes that don’t overcomplicate for the sake of it, long-standing Martin fans will be be pleased to know that his latest collection stays true to that approach. “I’m still off the ethos that you should never cook anything on TV that my mum can’t get north of Watford,” he says. “I think chefs can go too restauranty and you’ll start to lose people.” And although he takes some inspiration from British classics and age-old techniques, “it’s fundamentally about the place, about the ingredients, about now”, he adds.

It’s been a long time since Martin first did work experience, aged 14, in a London kitchen, at the Park Lane Hotel (“Getting my arse kicked”) – and longevity, in a world of Instagram foodies and YouTuber cooks, is not to be sniffed at. “This book is an accumulation of 35 years of work, of knowledge, built up over the years,” he says. “And that knowledge, you can’t buy it and you can’t Instagram it.”

He’s got no time for flash-in-the-pan trends either. “The health food bloody thing or vegan month, do we need a whole month for it? We spend 11 months eating what we want, then comes January… It’s baloney,” he says, laughing.

“Food is one of the pleasures of life, and most of us don’t enjoy most things and do a job we don’t like, so for Christ’s sake, just eat what you want.”

James Martin’s Great British Adventure continues every weekday on ITV. The accompanying book, James Martin’s Great British Adventure: A Celebration Of Great British Food With 80 Fabulous Recipes by James Martin is published by Quadrille, priced £25. Available now.

James Martin Great British Adventure and food

So, if you are inspired by this article and need a stunning kitchen to work in, why not take a look at this fine property with it’s stunning Evie Willow kitchen.