Weave Some Magic at Home, with New-Wave Rattan, Raffia and Bamboo.

modern rattan decor

No longer confined to retro schemes and conservatories, nature's most versatile materials are making a stylish comebacks, says Gabrielle Fagan.

We’re all waking up to the magic of weave, with rattan – that blonde, slim, easy-on-the eye material – enjoying a starring role in homes right now.

Pinterest and Instagram are full of stunning examples of how rattan can lend a ‘wow’ factor in a way that solid wood simply can’t, and it’s totally in tune with our growing desire for natural products and organic designs in our living spaces.

modern rattan decor

Rattan was a huge hit in the Seventies, a trend that stuck for at least a decade, and has endured as a staple of the conservatory – but perish the thought that this is just a predictable reincarnation.

Designers have so transformed it, with punchy colour and imaginative chic new shapes, that pieces are good-looking enough to be focal points in all areas of the home.

Not only that – they’re seemingly so entranced by all things woven right now, they’ve also turned their creative attentions to raffia, bamboo, and even simple straw.

modern rattan decor

“Rattan really is the ‘super food’ of the homeware world,” declares Sophie Garnier, founder of Kalinko (kalinko.com), specialists in hand-woven rattan furniture and accessories made in Burma.

“Practically, the material is solid all the way through the vine, which makes it incredibly strong, and its flexibility means it can be woven into any shape. It also accepts paints and stains like wood, so can be made in a variety of colours and finishes.”

Not least, it’s a good choice, Garnier points out, if you want to burnish your eco-credentials. “It grows very quickly all year round and is harvested without harming the tree and also grows back very enthusiastically, so an A-star for sustainability,” she enthuses.

Lightweight yet sturdy, it can also look fresh and modern depending on the shape and finish you choose, notes Garnier.

Summing up its appeal, she says: “It brings the essence of the outdoors inside, which is very soothing and, while an obvious choice in the summer, will look great all year round in both classic and contemporary homes.”

What are you waiting for? Work the weave at home, with a variety of beautiful products…

modern rattan decor

Keep it light

Woven furniture won’t dominate a space, which makes it ideal for compact spaces and especially good for renters as it’s easily transportable, says Kate Butler, head of product design at Habitat.

“Fast-growing materials like rattan and bamboo are increasingly becoming key materials for us, and we’re incorporating these strong and lightweight materials into more modern designs that take advantage of their versatility,” she explains.

“They allow us to create more interesting 3D shapes, from fluid curves to angular forms, so we’re moving away from traditional rattan associations – which confined it to the conservatory – to more inspirational, contemporary ideas for the home that allow you to add more personality to a space.”

She highlights the Nadia bedframe (designed by Matthew Long), made from four individual rattan sections which clip together for easy assembly, and Habitat’s range of rattan light shades, which simply fit over a bulb.

modern rattan decor

Mix ‘n’ match

Double up for maximum effect – two chairs are better than one because they’ll look as though you’ve committed to a style, rather than bought a random piece.

If you want to make a statement, choose a rocker or a classic Peacock-style chair. The latter with its high back, which is also called a fan chair, originated in the Philippines and its striking style has featured in many iconic photographs over the years.

modern rattan decor

Scene-stealer seats

If you like a laid-back vibe, hanging chairs are ultra-fashionable currently, and Cox & Cox has an open weave Round Rattan Cocoon Chair, £650. It comes with a stand or a hook so it can be hung from the ceiling. Enhance the cosiness by draping with a Curly Sheepskin – Natural, £175.

modern rattan decor

Store & stun

We can never have enough storage – but there’s no reason it should be boring. Turn it into eye-candy with wicked weaves featuring soft, blushing shades, which can hold everything from household essentials to toys.

modern rattan decor

Divide & Rule

Unique pieces, like a folding screen, will conjure a tropical vibe in a living area. And you can ramp up the effect with other accessories, such a mirror, wall-mounted woven platters, occasional seating or a lamp.

modern rattan decor

This is why you Shouldn’t let Summer pass without Cooking Outside with the Kids

outdoor cooking with kids

There's just something about making dinner out of doors. So, marshmallows at the ready, says Ella Walker.

One thing is guaranteed to ruin the vibe of any summer party, and that’s a parent shrieking across a sun-scorched garden: ‘IT’S HOT – I TOLD YOU TO STAY AWAY FROM THE BARBECUE!’

Usually, there’d be a few expletives in there, a spilled beer, a freshly-bunned burger dropped in the dirt, as well as an overwhelming panic bound up in love and the understandable fear of third-degree burns.

outdoor cooking with kids

Fire and small children can be a stressful mix. But that doesn’t mean it can’t ever be done – and provide an afternoon of fun, bonding and ridiculously good food.

Dawn Isaac, author of 101 Things For Kids To Do Outside (Kyle Books, £14.99), notes that “it’s always more exciting having a sandwich outside”.

And you know what’s more exciting than a sandwich – especially outdoors? A burger. Or a hot dog. And if you speared that hot dog sausage on a twig (OK, a Lakeland skewer) and blackened it over a fire yourself, things are exponentially better. That’s as an adult – just imagine doing it aged eight. Talk about mind-blown.

Chuck in some marshmallows turned lichen-orange as they melt into a tooth-sticking goo, and you just know your kids may never go to bed again. Largely that’d be down to the sugar coursing through their tiny bodies, but also because cooking in the open air – and learning to prep your own food in the process – is quite simply intoxicating. As much so as it is watching the dancing belly of a fire flickering away.

outdoor cooking with kids

“Kids love getting stuck in in the kitchen, so getting them to help with cooking really encourages them, especially when it’s more of an adventure outdoors,” says Genevieve Taylor, grill extraordinaire and author of veggie barbecue book Charred (Quadrille, £16).

Taylor’s all about stretching yourself when it comes to barbecuing too – kebabs, plastic cheese squares and bangers are all very well, but what about cumin spiked falafel burgers, miso grilled aubergine, and sweet potato wedges with oregano? She notes in Charred that “pretty much any vegetable you can think of can be elevated by a little fire and smoke” – and getting kids involved with spicing up BBQ fare is a great place for you to all start.

“Mine have always loved sniffing the jars of spices and choosing what they fancied, which works a treat as they can both be quite fussy,” explains Taylor. “Getting kids used to spices early gets them used to the idea of food from all over the world and teaches them that spices don’t always need to equal heat.”

outdoor cooking with kids

Also, anything that tricks them into taking an interest in vegetables – regardless that it might mean torching them to smithereens over a campfire – must be positive. Think wrangling with butter drenched corn on the cob, or stealth-eating (shock horror) veg on skewers, because if you’ve threaded it yourself, you’re going to have to eat it, right? Even if there are mushrooms hiding amongst the chunks of pepper…

YouTube cook Ian Haste, author of The 7-Day Basket (Headline, £25), says: “My kids eat every single veg there is. If you’ve got them to cook it themselves, they’ve done it, and they’ll try and eat it, because they’re stubborn.”

Add the thrill of potentially-singed fingers, and a few atmospheric stars overheard, and your kids might just scoff everything you brought outdoors in the coolbag.

outdoor cooking with kids

“Fried cheese sandwiches are really popular and so easy to make on a BBQ – you can always leave out any bits they don’t fancy,” adds Taylor. “Getting kids to choose, or at least giving them an element of choice, is empowering and doesn’t mean they feel forced to eat everything.” And talking of cheese, watching anyone – no matter their age – try flame-seared halloumi for the first time is arguably a beautiful (if squeaky) experience.

Halloumi aside, there’s the whole getting into nature, learning new skills and ‘making memories together’ thing too – and memories attached to food have a different kind of vividness to them. Childhood picks them up like sticky burrs (like making flapjacks with your granny, eating jelly for the first time, building a fire in the garden and throwing bananas and chocolate wrapped in foil into the coals…).

outdoor cooking with kids

And of course, wild cooking together means the usual dedicated in-charge barbecue person won’t be all alone wreathed in smoke – you’ll have someone to chat to and share the very tough task of wielding the tongs with. Go forth, and make fire. Just have a bucket of water on standby…

Summer Bedroom Bliss: 10 Cool and Stylish Updates to Snap up Right Now

summer bedroom style

Has the heatwave inspired a bedroom refresh? Sam Wylie-Harris hits the shops.

Just like our summer wardrobes, how you dress the bedroom can make a world of difference to how you feel when the sun’s shining.

And with the current heatwave, this is even more relevant – a bedroom that’s too hot and steamy (read: stuffy and sweaty) won’t do your sleep patterns any favours, resulting in a serious case of morning grouch.

But preen the pillows, buff the bed, lighten the load with a summer duvet somewhere in the region of a 4.5 tog, scent surround (we love The White Company’s Blanc collection) and hey presto, the bedroom becomes a dreamy summer haven.

Especially if you style it up with crisp linens, clean lines and a wash of colour, or brights teamed with tropical themed decos. Style your summer bedroom just right, and you’ll wake up holiday-ready without the need for a getaway…

summer bedroom style

1. Savoy Bed Linen Collection, from £20-£140, The White Company

Keeping it fabulously soft and smooth with a 400-thread-count feelgood factor, loosely tuck yourself into this 100% Egyptian cotton percale bed linen and you’ll feel like you’re on an endless luxurious escape.

summer bedroom style

2. A by Amara Bohemian 300 Thread Count Duvet Cover – Super King, currently reduced to £25.50 from £85 (includes Oxford Pillowcase Pair), Amara

If you really want to hit the refresh button and feel free-spirited, playing with boho-chic blues in an eye-catching Moroccan tile print against a carved Moroccan style bedhead is an easy update. As Sam Hood, co-founder and creative director, Amara, points out: “To make your bedroom feel as bright as possible for the summer season, start with your bed. A fresh set of bed linen not only feels amazing to slide into but it can breathe new life into your bedroom style.”

Note: A strategically placed vintage style mirror will catch beams of light.

.

summer bedroom style

3. A by Amara 500 Thread Count Sateen Duvet Cover – White – Double, £80, and matching Pillowcase Pair, £40; Grid Crochet Cushions, £40 each; Multi Circle Print Cushion – Green/Pink, reduced to £40 from £50, crochet throw and accessories from a selection, Amara

White with a pop of colours feels bright and fresh, and craftwork is a really thing this summer, with woven wonders now far more than a basket or espadrille staple – think cushions, rugs, basket boxes and hanging planters.

summer bedroom style

4. MW By Matthew Williamson – Turquoise Bead Embellished Cushion, £26; Orange Velvet Patchwork Cushion, £35; Yellow Pineapple Embroidered Tassel Throw, £100, Butterfly Home by Matthew Williamson – Multicoloured Floral Embroidered Cushion, £40, Debenhams

The flip-side of calming neutrals, rich velvets embellished with sequins, handcrafted trims and tassels can be just as dreamy as beige and ivory – especially with an undertone of gold adding a touch of shimmer to tropical themes.

summer bedroom style

5. Exotic Palm Printed Bedding Set, from £17.50-£29.50, Marks & Spencer

Anything beginning with ‘palm’ usually emanates luxury, or exotic, far-flung destinations and a sun-lounger under the shade of a swaying tree.

Luckily, this leafy jungle palm print isn’t a summer sellout (yet). Within a shake of the sheet, you can almost feel the sand beneath your feet.

summer bedroom style

6. Yellow Full-Height Shutters, from £168 per m2, California Shutters (Bedding, stylist’s own)

“During summer, some bedrooms – particularly south-facing ones – become uncomfortably hot because of the light that streams through all day. Shutters can block this (at times harmful) sunlight, allowing the room to cool,” says Chrissie Harper, customer experience manager, California Shutters.

“In addition to the benefit of temperature control, shutters are also the ideal solution for balancing light and privacy in rooms, where comfort and wellbeing are a must.”

And while buttercup yellow seems perfect right now, this bright hue is not just a summer fling. Think of these as an investment piece that can be fashioned as saffron yellow come the autumn.

summer bedroom style

7. Oslo Blush Bed Linen – King Size Duvet, £185; Set of Two Pillowcases, £45, Graham & Green

Our rose love affair shows no sign of dwindling, whether it’s the sweep of rosy blush on our cheeks, an up-to-the-minute pink pout, or feeling girly in peony. So why not a wash of rose in cool linen for the bedroom, for a bed that feels as fresh as that next glass of Provencal pink?

summer bedroom style

8. Volieres Medium Bird Cage Pendant, £499, Graham & Green

And to crown the bed, we love this whimsy chandelier with decorative birds made from real feathers which have been ethically sourced. Handmade and a unique flight of fancy, each chandelier comes with its own assortment of birds and you can almost hear their tranquil birdsong.

summer bedroom style

9. Porto Ruffle Linen Cushions, £60 each, Graham & Green

Ruffles were among the top 10 fashion trends for 2019, and while we’re working the ruffle-trimmed, tiered dress look, why not use flouncy ruffles as a building block on the bed too? They add interest visually, plus when the heat is on, washed linen is the coolest option.

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summer bedroom style

10. Slumberdown Support Pillow – 2 Pack, £14, Argos

With the ‘secret to a good night’s sleep’ a hot topic on balmy nights, a support pillow could be just the ticket. With maximum support for the head and neck, these are designed to hold your head at just the right position to encourage your spine to be well aligned as you lie down, and help reduce everyday aches and pains.

Want your Little Ones to Love Gardening? Here are the Tools to Give Them a Head Start

children gardening

Former Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins helps us select the kit to get your children interested in gardening.

Gardening can be child’s play if youngsters are given the right tools for the job.

Now, former Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins, head of organic horticulture at Garden Organic (gardenorganic.org.uk), the national charity for organic gardening, has helped us select some basic pieces of equipment to enable kids to plant and grow seeds, care for them and to encourage them to spend time in the garden.

children gardening

1. Tamper and sieve

“Children will love using a tamper to stamp on the soil to firm it and enjoy getting their hands dirty sieving the soil to produce a light crumbly mix,” he says.

These items will get them directly involved in preparing the soil and help improve seed sowing success and avoid any disappointments.

Good seeds to sow for little hands include sunflower, runner beans and sweet peas.

children gardening

2. Hand trowel

Serious young gardeners will be able to prepare beds for sowing, transplant seedlings and remove weeds with a good set of hand tools. Very young children will just enjoy a bit of digging and exploring the soil to look for worms and insects, which is always a cause for great excitement.

For younger children, colourful garden tools are widely available.

children gardening

3. Watering can

Playing with water – especially in hot summer weather – should encourage children into the garden, so a watering can is a must-have. Buy one with a rose to allow for gentle watering so they can get involved with regularly caring for their plants and make sure that the watering can is the right size and holds the right amount of water for the size of your child, so he or she can easily lift it.

Among the best is the Little Pals Children’s Watering Can Kit which includes a metal watering can, pink hand trowel and spotty gardening gloves (£15.90, Amazon www.amazon.co.uk)

children gardening

4. Compost bin

If you have a compost bin, you can help teach them the importance of recycling kitchen scraps and garden waste. Why not get one they can decorate too, making a lovely fun feature in the garden? They can then use the compost to help their plants to grow.

children gardening

5. Wildlife feeder

Just letting your child fill up your regular bird feeder should engage them, especially when they see birds feasting on the seeds and nuts they have given them.

There are plenty of kits on the market to make your own bird feeder or bird house, or alternatively you can recycle old bits and pieces from your home to give them a fun activity of creating a habitat for wildlife, which will help them feel more connected to the garden and make them aware of the many creatures which use your open space.

Alternatively, invest in a good one for your child such as the Yukon Feeder (£24.99, CJ Wildlife – birdfood.co.uk) which enables three different types of bird food to be placed into different slots, to attract a variety of birds.

children gardening

6. Gardening clothes

The oldest clothes are probably the most sensible ones for kids to wear when gardening but if they are going to get their hands dirty, it may be wise to invest in a pair of junior gardening gloves in their preferred colour.

A good bet could be the Vgo gardening and DIY gloves for four to five-year-olds (£14.98 for two pairs, Amazon)

And don’t forget, most importantly, to get your child to wear a hat on sunny days.

Seek and Hide: 6 Storage Solutions to keep You and Your Rooms Cool and Calm this Summer

summer storage solutions

Don't want to just chuck away all that clutter? Gabrielle Fagan reveals simple ways to get it out of sight.

If you’re feeling hot and bothered this summer, it may not just be the weather.

Look around your home – if it’s overflowing with clutter, and every corner and surface seems to be a magnet for bits and bobs that should be sorted but never are (the school holidays could make it a whole lot worse), this is probably contributing to those raised stress levels.

The good news is, to tackle this oh-so common scenario, you don’t have to turn yourself into a dedicated disciple of ‘Queen of Clutter’ Marie Kondo and rid yourself of every possession you’ve ever owned.

Instead, it’s time to play ‘seek and hide’. This new decor game simply involves hunting down all the ‘stuff’ you want but don’t need to stare at (or stress over) all the time, and then using clever storage solutions to hold, hide, or disguise it.

Check out six smart seek-and-hide solutions, so you can enjoy a cool, relaxing season…

summer storage solutions

1. Step into calm

As a hallway’s the first port of call when you get home, having to squeeze your way past a chaotic collection of coats and tripping over shoes and kit every day certainly won’t make you feel zen.

Slim down that coat rack: Keep out only what’s suitable for the season and store away heavy winter coats and jackets. Check out Lakeland’s brilliant clothes storage solutions including a Vacuum Clothes & Duvet Storage Tote Bag (87L Jumbo), £16.99.

Keep shoes on a rack and label drawers on a storage chest (Polaroid pictures work well for younger children), so everyone knows exactly what goes where to encourage order rather than dumping.

2. Make a screen star

If you’ve ever felt panic at unexpected visitors suddenly arriving and seeing mess everywhere, a screen is the perfect fast cover-up solution.

These can be easily moved around to hide ‘clutter spots’, as they’re brilliant for masking a cluttered corner or untidy collection of clothes, and crucially can be folded away when not in use.

They can also work as flexible room dividers, allowing an open-plan space to be used for a multitude of purposes. Another bonus: They’re a great way to introduce texture, colour and pattern to a room and you can also use them for display, maybe as picture board for family photos.

summer storage solutions

3. Sit and store

Multi-tasking seats with hidden compartments can be just the solution to get clutter off the floor. They could be the perfect home for magazines, toys, or all that debris that seems to accumulate on the top of a coffee table. Simply lift the lid, sweep away and store! A coffee table which incorporates storage is another way of keeping its top clear and tidy.

Dress windows simply with blinds – less bulky than curtains – and choose a neutral shade or white to make a room feel more spacious and airy. Sweet Dreams Placid Roller Blind, from £21.96, English Blinds.

summer storage solutions

4. Sideboards of style

Designers are proving that while storage is necessary it certainly needn’t be dull, by creating pieces which are practical and also sleek and stylish. Sideboards can soak up a huge amount of possessions.

summer storage solutions

5. Sweet dreams storage

A calm, serene space for sleeping is essential, so that you relax and rest well. A headboard with storage is genius because it allows you to keep distracting clutter tucked out of sight, and can be a boon if you’re tight for space and haven’t got enough room for bedside tables.

Under-bed storage drawers can also be super-handy for stowing away bedding or out-of-season clothes that you don’t need to access for a while.

summer storage solutions

6. Magic makeover

Turn that rush to get ready into a pleasure by bringing order to make-up (sort it out first and discard anything more than a year old, which is probably past its use-by date) and jewellery.

7 Bright Design Tricks to Maximise Light in Your Home

brighten your home

From curtains to decluttering and mirrored furniture, Luke Rix-Standing reveals nifty ways to give any home that dreamy light and airy feel.

Ask any interior designer: Light is one of – if not the – most important consideration in the layout of a home.

Quite apart from being essential (cooking in the dark is not advised), light provides the framework for a home’s aesthetic, and the foundation for its – to use a technical term – ambience.

It doesn’t matter how well you’ve feng shui-ed your cellar – if it’s lit by a single, flickering bulb, it’s still going to feel like the set of a horror movie.

Here’s how to make your home the brightest and best it can be, from streaming sunbeams to energy-saving LEDs…

brighten your home

Make a proper plan

Most people know that when it comes to light sources, more is usually merrier. But the result is that homeowners load up expensive fixings without taking care of even the simplest practical alterations.

For immediate improvement, a short recce goes a long way: Look at the location of your windows, what they’re illuminating, and what you want them to illuminate. Take a note of where the sun comes from in each part of the day, and if any rooms seem particularly drab and gloomy.

With your stock-take complete, move furniture that might be blocking a window’s view, and clear out cluttered windowsills. If you have several electric lights covering a space usually bathed in sunshine, rejig your room rather than spending a fortune adding to it.

Consider moving obstacles outside your home too. If your climbing hydrangea has launched a hostile takeover against your windowpanes, it’s time to call in the garden shears.

brighten your home

90% light, 10% dark

Assuming that you do, in fact, have windows, your next key point should be colour. Pure white surfaces can feel a little cold, but off-white or light cream is a shoo-in for walls and ceilings when cultivating a brighter feel.

Soft hues absorb far less light than dark ones, and for the most radiant rooms you should look beyond the masonry. Consider pastel-coloured cupboards, pale wood furniture, or light-hued decorations. There’s nothing wrong with a black leather sofa, or some statement, patterned wallpaper, but they won’t necessarily help your rooms retain light.

Aesthetically, many designers opt to add in darker trimmings. Cushions, knick-knacks and other smaller furnishings look great in dark grey or navy, and provide contrast without significantly sacrificing light.

brighten your home

Lots of mirrors

If you’re looking to increase your intake of natural light, mirrors are perhaps the most literal way of doing so. They reflect light that would otherwise be absorbed into the wall, and hanging one opposite a window sends daylight bouncing round the room.

Wall-mounted mirrors are a go-to for grooming as much as for decor, and fashion-conscious bedrooms often boast something free-standing and full-length. Next level homeowners could employ mirrored furniture – mirrored tables, mirrored wardrobes, even a mirrored chest of drawers.

Large mirrors give the illusion of a much larger, lighter space, and if the room feels bright and breezy, so too will its reflection.

brighten your home

Window dressing

Your windows are your main allies in your fight for light, so you’d be wise to give them plenty of tender loving care.

Blinds are a good bet for a light-heavy home, leaving the window entirely exposed when open and creating lovely lines of light when down. They can’t produce blackouts, so are less advisable in the bedroom of a light sleeper.

Light linen or cotton curtains are similarly appropriate – and can be hung in layers to more closely control the flow of light. Heavier, thicker fabrics like velvets and brocades are generally more accustomed to blocking light, while wide-slat shutters are flexible and channel a Mediterranean feel.

brighten your home

The lighting of the lamps

Natural light tends to gobble up the headlines, but artificial light is where the buck stops.

Let’s divide it into three stylistic varieties. Ambient lighting diffuses evenly through a room, and is usually the starting point for a larger scheme. Think ceiling lights, perhaps integrated with lamps on floors or tables.

Naturally, ambient lighting isn’t strong on contrast, so try some accent lighting to help instil separation. Accent lighting is brighter and much more directional, ensuring centrepieces like dining room tables get the focus they deserve.

Make sure these lights are not so concentrated that they behave like spotlights. You don’t want to channel a the sort of aggressive glare normally reserved for police interrogation rooms.

Finally, consider task lighting – very strong light sources marshalled for specific purposes. Think downward-facing desk lamps that can illuminate a keyboard clear as day, or a row of bulbs as floodlights for a worktop. There’s no point illuminating the corridor with pixel-perfect high-def, if your closet is so dimly-lit all your darker clothes merge into one.

Keep these principles in mind when allotting wattage in your home, and where possible try before you buy. Road-test bulb brightness, or better yet employ a dimmer switch.

brighten your home

Wash your walls

No, not with soapy water – in this context washing your wall means to splash light across a surface, creating the illusion that the whole room is aglow.

Consider vertical light fixings, that send a warm light upwards and downwards, creating a sheet-like glow across a wall. It’s better to bathe an area with one effective light source than pepper it with unattractive fixings.

brighten your home

Structural changes

For those with the time, inclination and, most of all, the money, there are plenty of home improvements that can turn dingy dungeon to gleaming greenhouse. Some are obvious – more and bigger windows, glass patio doors and so on – but others are slightly less intuitive.

Skylights are an oft-neglected sub-genre of window – the light comes straight from source and can often spread across an entire floor space.

Thick-set, dark-coloured doors can keep natural light from reaching the heart of your home, so consider glass panelling even on doors that don’t open into the air. Next-level homeowners can go one better by embracing a more open-plan layout throughout their dwelling.

Though not traditionally a light-emitting surface, even the floor can play its part. Opting for polished, well-finished hardwood, ceramic or stone can keep light ricocheting off your interiors like an underfoot mirror.

Summer in a Glass: 9 Super Thirst-Quenchers to Enjoy in the Great Outdoors

super summer drinks

Crown your movable feast with an eclectic mix of refreshing spritzers, canned cocktails and seasonal serves, says Sam Wylie-Harris. As summer heats up, there's a lovely casualness that shapes our drinking rituals. Just as we reach for our wicker baskets and holiday wardrobe, the fashion for fruity libations and breezy spritzers strikes just the right balance and radiates all the right vibes.

super summer drinks

At the drop of a hat, summer seasonal serves – such as strawberry scented beer, canned bubbles and low abv wines – feel as natural as switching our glassware for faux stemware, sage for mint, topping our hampers and cooler bags with a festival blanket and making sure there’s enough ice for the second round.

Whether you’re packing a picnic, heading to the seaside or entertaining al fresco at home, these top drops hit just the right spot…

super summer drinks

1. M&S Cocktail Cans: Aperitivo Spritzer, Peach Spritzer, Cherry Spritzer and Vermouth & Tonic (£2 each, 5.5% abv, 25cl, Marks & Spencer stores)

What’s not to love about these new canned cocktails in four fab flavours, channelling lots of fruity fun. The Aperitivo Spritzer has a core of fragrant orange bitters, the Peach Spritzer screams sweet, ripe peaches, Cherry is sweetly refreshing, while the Vermouth & Tonic boasts a tincture of herbs.

super summer drinks

2. CIROC Summer Watermelon Vodka (£32.40, 70cl, 31dover)

Nothing signals summer like this classic tropical fruit, especially in a flavoured vodka. Introducing CIROC Watermelon Spritz: CIROC 40ml Summer Watermelon Vodka, 20ml lemonade, 40ml soda, 10ml cranberry juice. Serve over ice in a tall glass and garnish with a lime wheel, fresh watermelon wheel and sprig of fresh mint.

super summer drinks

3. Lanson Brut NV Champagne Wimbledon 2019 Neoprene Jacket (£25, Tesco stores)

Champagne of the Championships, a whopping 25,000 bottles of Lanson were popped open at the famous two-week tennis tournament last year – and if you want to soak up the atmosphere but don’t have tickets, a stylish garden party and hamper full of grand slam treats makes a winning combination. The limited-edition racket-themed cooler jackets are specially designed to keep the bottle chilled for up to two hours and will cheer you through the summer season.

super summer drinks

4. Black Cow English Strawberries Vodka (£27.95, 70cl, The Whisky Exchange)

Another flavoured vodka newbie, this blush pink is infused with pressed strawberries to lend a sweet, fresh, strawberry note and makes a fun summery cocktail when it’s mixed with ginger ale. Meet Ginger Blossom: 35ml Black Cow Vodka & English Strawberries topped with ginger ale and garnished with English strawberries and a wedge of lime.

super summer drinks

5. Camden Town Brewery’s Strawberry Hells Forever Lager (£6 for 4 x 33cl cans, 4.6% abv, Sainsbury’s)

Still room for more strawbs in your punnet? How about a swift half of strawberry beer? Camden Town are kick-starting the first of their ‘Seasonal Hells’ with this summertime lager brewed with strawberries. Crisp with a faint hint of the summer fruits on the hoppy finish, it’s tart, tastes refreshingly good and should appeal to those looking for new taste experiences. Released every quarter, the one-off beers are inspired by the seasons.

super summer drinks

6. Graham’s Blend No 5 White Port (£21.25, 75cl, Master of Malt)

We’ve been dubbing a P&T the new G&T for a while now, and it only takes a mini heatwave to appreciate how remarkably refreshing a bone dry, white port and tonic is. A delicious aperitif that also bridges the gap between a white wine spritzer and vodka and tonic (at 19% abv), serve on the rocks, top with tonic (Double Dutch have recently launched their premium mixers in cans) and garnish with a slice of lemon and sprig of fresh mint. Serve with salted almonds, olives and petiscos (Portugal’s answer to tapas).

super summer drinks

7. Co-op Own-Label Low Alcohol Sauvignon Blanc, Garnacha Rose and Cabernet Tempranillo, Spain (£3 each, less than 0.5% abv, Co-op stores)

The trend for ‘low or no’ shows no sign of slowing, and these latest additions to Co-op’s low and no-alcohol range are perfect for sipping in the sunshine.

The red is fun and fruity with a brush of blackberry fruit, the rosy pink offers raspberry and strawberry flavours, and the white shows an exotic citrusy note. Perfect for sangria (without a fuzzy head the next day), hold the brandy and sugar and mix with soda water, orange juice and sliced fruit.

Note to self: Check out the crystal-look, oversized acrylic wine glasses and flutes (£4.49 each), tumblers (£3.99) and jug (£14.99) at Lakeland.

super summer drinks

8. The Uncommon White Bubbly, England (£4.99, 25cl, Waitrose stores)

A must for posh picnics, we love this quirky can with its quintessentially British design, formalwear and bowler hat. A lightly sparkling dry white made from bacchus grapes (similar in sorts to sauvignon blanc), it’s naturally low in sugar and offers fizz fanatics a crisper, dryer alternative to prosecco.

super summer drinks

9. Wine Chat Malbec, France (£18, 2.25L, Sainsbury’s)

From beach to bar, a brilliant BBQ, picnic or al fresco red – this box has two finger holes so it’s easy to carry and we love the cute label – this French malbec is brimming with bright blueberries and ripe raspberries, feels fragrant, fruity and juicy and finishes with soft tannins. Pairs perfectly with French bread, saucisson, cheese and dips.

3 Themes for Al Fresco Feasting: Love Island, Festival and Country Cool

al fresco dining

Little beats a lingering outdoor meal in summer. Gabrielle Fagan reveals three ways for setting the scene in style. There's something about eating outdoors. A generous helping of fresh air and (hopefully) sunshine can magically make even the simplest meal taste delicious.

al fresco dining

That’s all to the good, because summer’s no time to be slaving over a hot stove indoors – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a little time and trouble over the table.

By giving a setting a real sense of occasion, maybe opting for a theme, you’ll not only make it memorable but you could ramp up the fun – a few drinks could turn into a party and a supper into a celebration.

“Having lunch and supper parties outside is one of the real joys of summer,” enthuses interior designer, Joanna Wood. “I really like using unusual nature-inspired dishes in the shapes of leaves, and I like to work to a theme and pick a different one each year.”

This year she’s creating her own ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ al fresco setting, to give a patio area a theatrical touch. “A theme allows you to be creative and you can incorporate flowers, candles and maybe floating flower heads with tea lights for evening parties,” she says. “It’s all about a bit of imagination and planning that will result in something you can enjoy for the whole season.”

So turn the tables on dull dining and instead experiment with one of these three themes: Love Island style, a fun festival vibe, or a little slice of calm with country cool…

al fresco dining

Dine like a Love Islander

If you envy those fit reality TV show residents in their sun-drenched Mallorcan villa, create your own sizzling Mediterranean hotspot. It could be perfect for leisurely meals and chilling (romancing optional!).

Group potted palms, ferns and other tall foliage around simple seating. Low benches or boxes made comfy with foam rectangles wrapped in bright fabric will do nicely. Finally, inject another zip of sunshine colour with outdoor rugs and cushions. Then sit back and enjoy the banter!

Mix a decor cocktail and pick up on Love Island style with slogans and beach style accessories – pool blue and flamingo pink rules!

al fresco dining

Go full-on festival

Festival season’s arrived. No tickets – no problem! Simply give a table setting a boho, laid-back vibe, turn on the sound system, and have your own personal ‘feastival’ – without the mud, wellies or sagging tents.

This look i all about personality – pops of colour, mismatched china, and lots of freshly cut flowers and foliage. Don’t take it too seriously – there’s no room for formality here – just give it a bit of hippy-dippy character that makes it kick-off-your-shoes relaxing.

Feel free to pile on the paper lanterns and garlands – use solar lights for when the sun’s gone down – and add jewel-coloured glassware for a dash of glamour.

John Lewis is a brilliant destination for homeware that will ramp up al fresco style, including a brilliant range of tableware and furniture. Their Croft Collection Garden Dining Table Bench, £220, is ideal, while a Camden Garden Bistro Table and Chairs Set is currently reduced to £63 from £79. A Sol Pouffe – Multi, £120, makes a great finishing touch.

al fresco dining

Conjure country cool

The beauty of a rustic scene is its simplicity. All that’s needed are a wooden table and chairs, a linen runner and napkins, and plenty of lanterns and candles. Don’t forget to cater for chilly nights by putting a throw or a blanket on each chair.

“I live on a farm in the glorious West Country, so I really enjoy the chance to make the most of time outdoors with friends and family. And come the summer months, there is nothing I love more than a picnic or eating al fresco,” says Liz Earle, founder of Liz Earle Wellbeing magazine (lizearlewellbeing.com).

“Picnics and meals outdoors are a great way of enjoying the great outdoors and making the most of nature’s beauty, but they don’t just have to be daytime affairs. There’s nothing nicer than lingering over a meal on a sultry evening and pretty lighting will transform a setting.”

Battery operated tea lights, which will twinkle into the night, are a pretty and safe way to add enchantment, Earle says.

“Perch them atop jam jars or logs to give them a bit more height, or use them in hanging glass lanterns above a table to turn it into a focal point,” she suggests.

The closer you get to echoing your indoor taste outside in your garden ‘room’, the more successful the result will be. Opt for accessories that would look just as good in a living room as on a terrace.

al fresco dining

New Homes Property For Sale Today In Hampshire

New Homes Property for sale McCarthy Holden estate agents Hampshire

Today wonderful high specification new homes from Sunningdale House Developments at their Winchfield View site in Hampshire are released to the market, with prices from £575,000 to £1.6m.

Winchfield View is a select development of stunning high specification new homes by Sunningdale House Developments, in a fine location with pleasing views situated about two miles from the village of Hartley Wintney in Hampshire.

A good number of properties have already been reserved by buyers, so as at today’s date the availability list is as follows.

Plot 5: Available Guide £575,000
Plot 6: Available Guide £575,000
Plot 7: Sale Agreed / Reserved Guide £895,000
Plot 8: Sale Agreed / Reserved Guide £695,000
Plot 9: Sale Agreed / Reserved Guide £1.25m.
Plot 10: Available Guide £1.6m.
Plot 11: Sale Agreed / Reserved Guide £695,000
Plot 12: Available Guide £1.250m.

Plot 10 Winchfield View (Guide £1.6m.)

New Homes Property for sale McCarthy Holden estate agents Hampshire

Plot 10 at Winchfield View represents the flagship house, in terms of scale and indulgent build quality.

This enormous 3,300 sq. ft. 5 bedroom house stands on a corner plot with an entirely detached double garage.

The distinctive twin bay windows and elegant twin pillared porch to the front elevation create instant character and immense kerb appeal.

Take a look at the video below showing plots 9, 10 and 12, and for a download pdf brochure just click here.

Plot 12 Winchfield View (Guide: £1.250m.)

Plot 12 at Winchfield View is just over 2,500 sq ft and provides distinctive architectural elevations and well planned substantial family accommodation.

Plot 12 is not yet ready for internal photography, but a look at the video created below for the show house at plot 11 might provide insight into the beautiful spaces that can be created.

New Homes Property for sale McCarthy Holden estate agents Hampshire
New Homes Property for sale McCarthy Holden estate agents Hampshire

Plot 11 show house video below for interest.

Plots 5 / 6 Winchfield View (Guide: £575,000)

New Homes Property for sale McCarthy Holden estate agents Hampshire

Plots 5 and 6 Winchfield View are truly distinctive semi-detached houses providing around 1,127 sq ft of excellent space.

These are 3 bedroom houses, featuring a luxury en-suite to the master bedroom and a high specification kitchen. Take a look at the download brochure and contact our Hartley Wintney branch on 01252 842100 for an early viewing.

For a download pdf brochure please click this link.

Open Plan Living – the Dominant Design Trend Rendering Walls Redundant

open plan living

Some say it's had its peak, but open plan designs are still staggeringly popular. Luke Rix-Standing ponders the appeal of blurring room boundaries.

There are exceptions to every rule, but we’d guess the phrase ‘open plan’ mostly conjures images of a modern, minimalist apartment in whitewashed monochrome, dotted with oddly-shaped furniture from the darkest corners of IKEA. Or, depending on your profession, a vast integrated office space filled with shoulder-high plastic partitioning.

In reality, ‘open plan’ can be a slightly trickier concept to pin down.

“In the simplest terms, it’s a connection between the living room, dining room and kitchen,” says Charles Bettes, managing director of London architecture firm gpad (gpadlondonltd.com), “linking together those three primary functions.”

In pictures and catalogues, you’ll sometimes see open plan bedrooms thrown into the mix, but Bettes says this is usually more aesthetic than practical.

open plan living

“They’re cool spaces and they look really great, but open plan bedrooms are rare,” he observes. “They don’t provide even that basic level of privacy.”

At the extreme end of the open plan scale lies the studio apartment – an NYC staple with just one main room plus a (probably tiny) bathroom. Rarely a stylistic choice, it’s often not a brilliant ambassador for the possibilities of open plan design though.

open plan living

Why would you choose open plan?

Open plan is not for everyone – the lack of privacy might start to grate when the in-laws come to stay, your son takes up weightlifting, or your daughter starts playing the drums. But there’s a reason it’s cantered to the cutting edge of interior design.

First and foremost, open plan arrangements almost always maximise natural light. One glass-panelled wall or set of glass doors can do the job of several rooms worth of windows if unhindered by walls or doors.

Secondly, it encourages social living. An open plan home doesn’t split people into separate spaces, and you can often at least see your loved ones, even if you’re all doing different things.

open plan living

Thirdly, though open plan is often associated with cavernous apartment buildings and sprawling office floors, town and city-dwellers are increasingly using open plan designs to maximise efficiency in smaller spaces.

“In the city, space is at such a premium that the houses and flats we’re designing are getting smaller all the time, and tiny pockets of space can feel quite claustrophobic,” says Bettes. “By opening those spaces up, the whole thing feels larger.”

On one level it’s common sense – if your kitchen and dining table are in the same space, that’s two rooms taken care of in one.

Finally – and you may think this doesn’t affect you but it probably does – open plan living is thoroughly in vogue. Open any magazine, glance at an appropriate billboard, and you’ll frequently see homes that are airy, fluid, high on light and low on masonry.

“A lot of it comes down to fashion,” says Bettes, “and I think a lot of people desire open plan because it gets talked about a lot.”

open plan living

How do you make open plan work?

Open plan design can look sleek, spacious and ultra-modern – or it can seem cluttered, invasive and incoherent. The key, says Bettes, is to strike the perfect balance between fluidity and separation.

“There doesn’t have to be one big rectangular space,” he says. “You could have large doors that fold back, or sliding doors that you can have open during the day or when you have people round. You can use glazed partitions – providing a visual link to other rooms – or curtains that you can pull across to create more intimate spaces.”

You’re looking to create three distinct spaces which are separate without being disconnected – retaining a sense of fluid flexibility without messily merging them into one. Consider the potential of waist or shoulder-high partitions, or doorway-like arches that clearly demarcate your space.

open plan living

Link rooms together with design aspects like colour and material. “Different colours can look nicely contemporary, but can also look quite stark,” says Bettes. “You can’t have one red room, one blue room.”

Sharing wall colour avoids any undesired clashes, while laying down universal flooring links rooms together with one foundational surface.

For most people, open plan is a choice – new builds, redevelopments, moving homes etc – but be aware that it may not be so simple if you live in, for example, a Victorian town house. You can start knocking down the walls, but, even with the right planning permissions, it gets very pricey, very fast.

open plan living

The new normal or a passing trend?

Some architects have argued that open plan living might have already peaked, and that in the coming years more conventional floor plans will once again prevail.

“Five years ago, everyone wanted to be open plan,” says Bettes, “but there’s just a feeling it might go back the other way.

“A key driver is iPads and other devices – traditionally families gather around TV screens, but now people are finding smaller pockets of space to watch things individually.”

Whether or not these predictions pan out, the open plan revolution has changed the new generation – at least in urban areas. A recent survey on home preferences by L&Q development The Gateway, found that only 14% of London’s millennials would consider a separate dining room a priority.

We may yet head back to separate rooms, but who’s to say they’ll be the same ones.

open plan living

Tv’s Lorraine Kelly and George Clarke Reveal 2 Key Ways to Create Extra Space at Home

Lorraine Kelly transformed an unused conservatory, while George Clarke created a garden office. Gabrielle Fagan takes a look.

Who hasn’t felt at times that their home is shrinking? Growing kids, shifting towards working from home, or just having too much stuff can all make it seem like the walls are closing in.

Don’t despair though – there are ways to reclaim some much-needed space. TV’s Lorraine Kelly and architect and presenter George Clarke have done exactly that in their own homes.

Kelly has transformed a conservatory, while George has opted for a purpose-built home office at the end of his garden – both increasingly popular choices, as more and more people prefer to ‘improve rather than move’ to gain extra living space.

Take a look at their newly created retreats, which might just inspire some changes of your own…

Lorraine Kelly’s chic conservatory

“I’m so lucky to have a conservatory,” declares Kelly. She and her husband, cameraman Steve Smith, moved a year ago – downsizing from their Dundee mansion to a smaller house in Buckinghamshire – after their daughter Rosie, 23, left home.

Kelly, 59, wanted to create a comfortable area in her new home for ‘me time’, where she could gaze out on her garden and riverside view and be surrounded by her favourite possessions.

“I absolutely love Scandi interiors but I’m not too strict when it comes to sticking to one style,” she says.

“My personal style’s all about comfort; I’m not into minimalism. I personally love an eclectic home, I’m much more into interesting objects and having a lot of cushions and textiles. To me, home means somewhere you can just breathe out, cosy up and feel safe and happy.”

With help from online interiors brand, Wayfair, her conservatory – formerly an “underused area” which opens off from the kitchen – has been transformed.

“The conservatory’s so light and airy with gorgeous views, and now it’s a complete haven – a room full of light and happiness,” enthuses the presenter, clearly delighted to have somewhere to relax during time off from her busy career as host of her ITV morning show, Lorraine.

“It’s the perfect place to read the Sunday papers, have a cuppa, or just sit and have a chat with friends and family,” she adds.

Little details personalise the space. “I love the weathered penguin ornaments – it’s no secret they’re my favourite animal – and the pretty trays and faux plants scattered around,” says Kelly.

“We opted for a base palette of soft greys and neutrals to create a calming environment for Lorraine,” explains Nadia McCowan Hill, resident style advisor for Wayfair.

“This was off-set with inky blues, emerald green detailing and hints of glittering silver, reflecting the stunning river-side location and panoramic views.”

The results are a hit with Kelly, who enthuses: “My favourite items are the sofa, as it’s a beautiful colour and so stylish, and I adore the plump scatter cushions and cosy rugs. Angus, our pet dog, will just curl up at our feet and snooze – he just loves this room.”

Make the most of your conservatory

Here are McCowan Hill’s top tips for making a conservatory a year-round multi-functional space…

1. Work the space: “A conservatory can be so much more than just a sun room. Why not create a small home office in one corner? A simple corner desk won’t take up too much space, and sitting beside light flooded windows could make work a pleasure.”

2. Style it up: Classic shapes for furniture in Kelly’s conservatory were given a modern twist with jute and linen upholstery, and pouffes double as footstools or extra seating and give the space an informal feel. Textiles – think throws and cushions – can add a layer of texture and warmth.

3. Grow your greens: “For a plant-filled haven, use window boxes to grow light-loving herbs, a tiered vertical garden unit or open shelving potting benches to store garden necessities. Choose natural wood and metal finishes to complement the greenery,” she says.

4. Hang it up: Since conservatories lack wall space for hanging art, she advises opting instead for a selection of hanging baskets hung at different heights across one wall of windows as an eye-catching display. “For a more ‘boho’ look, put up a hanging chair and conjure a reading/daydreaming zone,” she says.

George Clarke’s home office

When you’ve run out of space and can’t extend up, down or sideways, consider building outdoors, suggests George Clarke – best-known for his Channel Four shows, The Restoration Man and George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces.

“Garden rooms are on the rise because they’re an adaptable space that can be used as a retreat, a place to entertain, to work, to get creative or even to sleep,” he says.

“My open-plan house doesn’t lend itself to having an office space so, like a growing number of people, I built a studio at the bottom of the garden. It’s where I come to leave behind all the chaos and noise in the house, do some work, read and focus.”

He credits Tetbury Charcoal Wave Header Curtains (from £163 including measuring and fitting, Hillarys) with transforming the space. “They soften the look of the room, create a cosy feel, improve the acoustics, and I can draw them to stop glare from the sun on the computer,” he enthuses.

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