14 Easy Ways to Give your Bathroom a Summer Update

Bath-time bliss begins here, says Sam Wylie-Harris.

From something as simple as a stylish soap dish or toothbrush holder, to a fluffy bath towel and chic cabinet shelving, these brilliant buys will give your bathroom a quick summer fix.

Get ready for bath-time bliss with these best buys…

1. Hello Lovely 1 Bathroom Mats by Dip and Drip, £19, The Rug Seller

Sometimes the tiniest things make all the difference, and while we may dream of a king-size tub, this feel-good bath mat, with non-slip rubber backing, is a little reminder of how special we are.

2. Gold Bath Caddy with Stand, £35, Graham & Green

This bath caddy is worth its weight in gold when it comes to bath-time rituals, such as a long soak with a glass of wine and scented candle to help you wind down at the end of the day. With extendable arms, its suitable for all bath sizes.

3. Regular Espere in Opaline – Glass with Swan Wall Light Fitting in Antiqued Bronze (includes pendant, gallery and fitting), £88 (other items part of room set), Pooky

A bathroom mirror framed with ambient wall lights, like these gorgeous lights from Pooky, suggests a boutique hotel bathroom feel, and will add warmth if you’re short on natural lighting.

4. Octopus Tile Sticker, £16.95, Graham & Green

If your tiles need a little bit of a lift, this fun printed sticker doubles up as quirky decorative wall art – and it’s waterproof and easy to apply.

5. Tile Print Drawers, £75; Tile Print Wall Mirror, £45; Woven Toilet Roll Holder, £20 (other items from a selection), Next

With its trendy Moroccan-inspired print and neutral wood tones, this bathroom range is super versatile and practical, especially if you like a little order to your bath-time rituals.

6. J by Jasper Conran Yellow ‘Geo’ Cotton Towels, £11-£32 each, Debenhams

A splash of sunshine-yellow is always uplifting, especially if you coordinate these cotton towels with a bright shower curtain or bathroom blind.

7. Woven Toilet Roll Holder, £39.95, Graham & Green

Loo-roll holders come in all shapes and sizes but what we love best about this woven basket, with its wooden handle, is you’re never going to get caught short, with ample storage built in.

8. Swirled Brush Holder, £12, Swirled Soap Dispenser, £10 (blush pink towels from a selection), Next

When it comes to styling up the basin, we love this swirled brush holder and matching soap pump, with its glamorous gold-effect top and swirl-effect resin design. Much more chic than a plain mug and messy bar of soap.

9. Bathroom Lacquer Ladder Shelf, £295 (other items from a selection), The White Company

If you’re short on bathroom space but realise the importance of a good shelfie to show off all that gorgeous bath-time booty, this freestanding, four-step storage ladder in glossy white, with a resilient, water-resistant finish, can be topped with towels and products and even a trailing fern.

10. Johnson & White Aromas Bali 2 Wick Candle, £53, Johnson & White Aromas

Who wouldn’t want to float their cares away with the beguiling scent of lemongrass, eucalyptus, spiced ginger and lime to imbibe thoughts of spa treatments in far-away places? And the case can always be reused to hold a facecloth or sponge once it’s out of burn.

11. Cult Living Hairpin Low Metal Stool – Solid Elm Wood – Rustic, £45 (was £59) (other items part of room set), Cult Furniture

Keeping things casual, we love the idea of a wooden metal stool to keep those home-spa treatments within easy reach, or hold a towel for when you step out of the bath or shower. Try teaming it with rustic pieces salvaged from second-hand shops or industrial homeware collections, and succulents for a calm surround.

12. Wireworks Oak Bathroom Accessory Set, from £21-£78, Amara

This smart wooden set ticks all the right boxes, with its clean lines and Scandi vibes. Who says basics need to be boring?

13. Argos Home Nomad Tallboy, £120, Argos

Tall, dark and handsome, this tallboy will fit into the tightest corner – and we love the two peep-hole shelves to place a guest towel, diffuser or deco.

14. Flair Bath Mats 2438 08 in Blue by Esprit, £69 (other items from a selection or part of room set), The Rug Seller

For more summer bathroom inspiration, these turquoise bath mats inspire thoughts of beach holidays – and almost bring the crystal-clear sea into sight.

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

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

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

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

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

1. Paint your way to an ice cream palette

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Step into the look with pastel rugs

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

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

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

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

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

3. Brighten your outlook with sorbet shutters

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

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

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

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

4. Shine a light on the look with lampshades

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

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

5. Serve a subtle shade at the table

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

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

13 Ways to Style up his Space this Fathers Day

fathers day style

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

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

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

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

fathers day style

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

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

fathers day style

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

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

fathers day style

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

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

fathers day style

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

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

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

fathers day style

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

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

fathers day style

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

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

fathers day style

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

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

fathers day style

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

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

fathers day style

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

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

fathers day style

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

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

fathers day style

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

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

fathers day style

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

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

12 Ways to Feature Florals at Home

Floral home decor

Florals never go out of fashion and this season they're in full bloom. Gabrielle Fagan reveals her top petal power picks.

If you’ve been missing your outdoor floral fix, there are plenty of ways to ‘grow’ your own dazzling display of blooms at home.

You can take your pick from wallpapers, fabrics, crockery, and a host of other home accessories all with blooming beautiful floral designs, which are bursting forth this season.

No green fingers required – just pick from our bouquet of 12 fantastic floral fixes to take home this season…

Floral home decor

1. Go wild on walls

“We’re noticing a greater demand for floral murals,” says Rachel Kenny, studio manager for specialists in murals and wallpaper, Wallsauce.

“At this time when we’re restricted in travelling, it seems people are really missing visiting beautiful gardens, going to the famous flower shows, and are just longing to bring the beauty of nature and all its blooms into the home.”

And, she points out, a wonderful floral display is an eye-catching and soothing backdrop for those video meetings. Wallsauce’s Delicate Floral Meadow wallpaper, from £29 per square metre, features individual blooms on a pure white background.

Floral home decor

2. Make a floral statement

Just one chair is all it took! Make an impact with a single furniture piece upholstered in a bold floral print. Leave the space around your statement piece uncluttered, so you really allow it to star. For added impact, pick up on one colour in the design for a selection of accessories, such as a cushion, vase or rug, elsewhere in the room.

“Florals and botanical prints are such a popular choice for spring and summer and striking designs can really add a wow factor to a room,” says John Darling, founder of Darlings of Chelsea. “This chair suits any room, from a traditional conservatory to a contemporary living room, and is a classic which will never date.”

Floral home decor

3. Plant up a home office

In a home office or workspace, you need a design that will boost energy and creativity, while also giving you a lovely view.

“Working from home is becoming the new norm and a bold floral design for a window blind can perfectly disguise a poor view, as well as transforming an unremarkable corner into a personal space full of character,” enthuses Michael Ayerst, managing director at Surface View, who can recreate images on wall murals, canvasses, blinds and ceramic tiles.

“Florals have definitely made a big return to interiors,” he adds. “Our collection of historic botanical drawings, tropical palm paintings and colourful horticultural illustrations from across the centuries are proving particularly popular.”

Floral home decor

4. Spread a little sunshine

Think outside of the vase. A perfectly placed petal – or more – on a print or quirky accessory will refresh the look of a room and really show flower power is growing on you.

Floral home decor

5. Take to the floor

“If you’re looking to incorporate colourful statement flowers, one of the easiest and most affordable ways to do it is by featuring a bright, bold rug,” says Jemma Dayman, buyer at Carpetright.

“The variety of hues in a floral rug will allow for an eclectic selection of furniture and accessories to be used throughout the room, bringing further pops of colour and creating a cohesive and stylish scheme.”

Floral home decor

6. Play with flower power

Treat a sofa like a window-box – replacing tired old plants with new ones would give it an instant update, and new cushions in a pretty floral print could have the same effect.

“Times of uncertainty make us want to reconnect with nature, give us an appreciation of what matters, and mean we look to our surroundings to comfort us,” says Georgia Metcalfe, founder and creative director, The French Bedroom Company.

“Florals are great for bringing the outside in, whether it’s a floral fresco wallpaper design, patterned bed linen, or simple bunches of hand-picked wildflowers from a walk. Filling our rooms with floral spring tones has the effect of a visual revamp, which can’t help but lift our spirits.”

Floral home decor

7. Serve a floral feast

Interior designers know how effective ‘trompe l’oeil’ (realistic imagery which creates an optical 3D illusion) can be in rooms, and they use it to conjure stunning vistas or talking-point effects.

These are ideal used in one section of a wall, paired with a neutral background which fills the rest of the space, allowing the image to ‘pop’ without overpowering the room.

“Murals are great at adding drama and depth and can give the illusion of an impressive landscape, which is restful on the eye,” says Surface View’s Ayerst.

Floral home decor

8. Blooming table treats

There’s such a profusion of floral-inspired tableware around currently, whether you favour delicate ditsy patterns, punchier designs or something in-between.

“For those who enjoy experimenting with statement colour and bold motifs, Marimekko tableware is such a playful addition to a dining room,” says Emily Dunstan, home buyer, Heal’s.

“Vibrant flowers on the Elakoon Elama and Unikko crockery offer plenty of personality and you’ll impress guests with your distinctive, creative flair.”

Floral home decor

9. Fake it to make it

Faux blooms are such high quality now, they’re often indistinguishable from the real thing, and so it’s perhaps not surprising their popularity is soaring. They’ll never wilt or droop, provide instant cost-effective decoration and if you can’t manage to keep indoor plants alive, faux ones are a good option.

“Faux flowers can be used to inspire a romantic and atmospheric setting. Match pastels with deep berry and lavender shades and showcase fresh greenery in natural, organic vases,” advises Dunstan. “Bouquets such as hydrangeas and peonies, by Abigail Ahern, add a sense of boutique luxury, while bringing a gentle warmth and softness to a room.”

Floral home decor

10. Shine a light on petals

A lampshade which takes inspiration from faraway fields filled with profusions of wild blooms and charming country gardens, could be a small way to capture the spirit of sunny, flower-filled days.

Floral home decor

11. Blooms for the boudoir

“If you’re nervous about experimenting with colour, incorporating floral designs in the home is a subtle way to introduce it into settings,” says Bethan Harwood, home design stylist, John Lewis.

Clearly we’re all yearning for flowery details, especially in our bedrooms, as John Lewis has seen floral bed linen sales rise by 58% compared to last year.

“Focus your choice by first considering whether you want full-on florals or something less bold for curtains or bedding,” Harwood advises. “Floral wallpaper is more of a commitment but it will always add depth and character to a room and works well on one wall or as a feature on a ceiling, especially if the remaining walls are left plain.”

Top tip: generally, small, ditsy prints can make a large room feel too busy and distracting but they can really suit smaller spaces, such as a compact bathroom or dressing room, Harwood notes.

Floral home decor

12. Picture petals

One of the easiest ways to bring this trend home is with artwork. A floral print or poster can look dynamic hung on its own, or you could create a ‘living’ gallery of prints.

Pick a theme – botanical drawings, your favourite flower portrayed in different ways, or a collection of still life flower paintings – and link them by using the same colour and style of frame throughout.

6 Easy DIY Projects to Bring New Life into Your Home

From chalk paint effects, transforming tiles and display ideas, Sam Wylie-Harris suggests some quick and clever revamps.

Decorating projects are usually something many of us put off, or happily call in the professionals for.

But in these unprecedented times, lockdown has launched a determined army of DIY enthusiasts ready to tackle a plethora of decorative finishes, get a handle on cabinetry and transform tiles by grouting with gorgeous colours.

Indeed, being holed up at home has given a whole new meaning to rolling up our sleeves indoors and inspired many of us to explore our creative sides.

Bonus? There are lots of relatively quick and simple home-improvement projects that can instantly breathe new life into a space.

Here’s six ways to put the creative process into practice…

1. Transform with tiling

Sprucing up the kitchen with tiling takes skill but with a little bit of practice, there’s a look for everyone. Tiling just the splashback means you don’t have to go all the way up the wall, so you have impact without being spendy. And depending on the shape and size of the tiles, you only need to build them two or three rows up to get the look.

Natalia Ratajczak, interior designer for The Furniture Union, suggests tiling the splashback with subway tiles, adding a strong red grout colour and framing them with a thick black outline to add graphic detailing.

Tempting as it is, don’t tile over existing tiles. Ratajczak says it’s better to hack off any existing ones to ensure you get a level finish and that your adhesive is fully bonded, etc. If you want to go one step further, add shelving above to tie in finishes and display decorative items.

2. Colour co-ordinate ceilings and corridors

It may sound a bit matchy-matchy but coordinating a section of your ceiling with a piece of furniture, especially in a long, dark corridor, is a great option to create a boutique hotel-style vibe.

Using a strong colour on the ceiling (Furniture Union recommend matt emulsion finish) teamed with cabinetry in the same colour (a satin finish works well for woodwork, offering a mild sheen) can make a narrow space look utterly revitalised.

3. Update handles and knobs

Depending on your taste, handles are to a chest of drawers what the standing area is to your shower – both need to be functional and stylish – and as they say, it’s all in the detail.

An easy update, industrial-style knobs, statement or drop handles will instantly increase the pulling power of furniture throughout the home and kitchen units, without having to splash out on replacing whole items. And the good news is, many are simple screw and bolt types, so no drilling required.

4. Get the wow factor with wallpaper

Budget allowing, think about making the switch from paint to paper – zooming in on a section of the space, rather than the whole room, makes much lighter work of the task and means you don’t have to worry about clearing everything out of the way.

“As with painting, adding wallpaper to one wall rather than the whole room is a great first-time project,” says Lorna MacPhee, furnishing accessories buyer for John Lewis.

“If this is your first attempt, choose a ditsy or abstract design that’s easier to pattern match, being more forgiving along the joins than a bold geometric design, while a paste-the-wall design is quicker and less messy than traditional paste-the-wallpapers, and you’ll need less in your tool kit.”

5. Change your outlook

When it comes to window dressing, we all need a creative outlook – but we don’t necessarily want the world looking in on us – and there’s more to net curtains than meets the eye. Whether you choose lace or voile, they can easily be draped over an existing curtain pole or laced with ribbon and hung on hooks.

An easy update, MacPhee suggests layering ready-made curtains over lightweight sheers. “The voiles give a softer light and privacy for those at-home yoga sessions and moments of calm,” she says. “Hang from net curtain wire or swap your pole for a tension wire.”

6. Customise with chalk paint

If you want to paint the town – sorry, home – red (or any other shade for that matter), chalk based paint offers a flat, matt finish and brilliant coverage with one or two coats.

Ideal for painting walls, furniture, indoors and outdoors, it’s especially suited to vintage pieces (think shabby-chic finish) or flea market finds that just need a bit of love and attention.

To point you in the right direction, we recommend Frenchchic paint or Annie Sloan who have a range of durable, weatherproof chalk paint that’s suitable for wood, laminate, metal and plastic. A top coat will seal, protect and keep the colour long-lasting, so this is especially good for garden furniture. And thanks to rigorous testing, it’s also certified safe enough (EN 71:3) to use on children’s toys – think an old train set that just needs a lick of paint to bring it back into service.

8 Top Tips to Make the Most of Your Lighting

top tips for lighting

If you're in need of a fresh fix, here's how to light up your world in lockdown, says Sam Wylie-Harris.

Lighting in the home is really important, especially right now, when so many of us are spending twice as much time inside.

While some of us will have switched on to the latest lighting trends, and illuminated, enhanced and created the perfect ambience to unwind at the end of the day, chances are most of us won’t have thought about how a flicker of light, or sun streaming in during lockdown can affect our outlook, and mood.

“There needs to be a contrast from getting up in the morning and work mode, to stopping work in the early evening and reinforcing the mindset that it’s the end of your working day,” says Ellie Coombs, lighting designer and managing director of Nulty Lighting, international design consultants.

“Task lighting for work at a desk is important, but the rest of the time, it’s about adjusting your lighting; the light level, the direction of light and the colour temperature for each different activity.”

Here are her top tips for lighting up your home – no electrician required…

top tips for lighting

1. Shed light on a dark corner

“Personally, I don’t mind a dark corner, it’s about having the contrast of light and dark areas in a room. If you have a dark corner and want to light it up, try a floor lamp, which will make the room feel more spacious. Lamps work well as you can move them around – they offer a more intimate light source and a better quality of light. Generally, if you go into a lighting designer’s house, they are almost entirely lit by lamps, rather than ceiling lights.”

top tips for lighting

2. Change the light to suit your mood

“You can completely change your perception of a space depending on how you light it. Lots of diffused light on all the walls and ceiling will make the space feel spacious and open. Whereas lower levels of light in pools from lamps, just where you need them, will make the space much more intimate and cosy. You may be spending all your time in just one space, but it doesn’t have to feel like the same space.”

top tips for lighting

3. Use smart lighting

“You can resolve the fact you don’t have any lighting control by purchasing a smart lighting kit. Add it to your home Wi-Fi, download an app and then connect smart lighting products to your phone. You can then set timers to wake you up and create lighting scenes and moods for your home, all from the touch of a button. No electrician needed.”

top tips for lighting

4. Only use the main kitchen lights when you cook

“A lot of us have open-plan living spaces, and we’re spending all our time in one space during the lockdown. If you have under-cupboard lighting in the kitchen, try using it in the evening, to add some soft, ambient light. Use the brighter, high-level lights only when you’re cooking.

“If you are thinking about re-doing your kitchen lighting in the future, think about positioning. It’s important to light the work surfaces and not create shadows, rather than having a grid of lighting across the entire space.”

top tips for lighting

5. Put your art in the spotlight

“While you’re at home, experiment with a movable task light to highlight a piece of art or favourite sculpture. Grab a table lamp on an extension lead and play with it – move it to different places to see what works. Then contract an electrician to install something permanent when lockdown is over.”

top tips for lighting

6. Know the new bulb jargon

“With all the new LED and other energy-saving light bulbs on offer, choosing the right one has never been so complicated. In brief, the rules are as follows:

“Always buy light bulbs from reputable manufacturers… they may be more expensive, but they will last longer, give you a better quality of light and avoid any safety concerns.

“The wattage is no longer a clear indicator of the amount of light a bulb will emit… you now need to look at the lumen output. (As a rough guide, 25W = 200-300lm/40W = 400-500lm/60W = 700-800lm/100W = 1300-1400lm.)

“Colour Temperature indicates how warm or cold a light source will be… the lower the number, the warmer the light.”

top tips for lighting

7. Make the most of sunlight

“The more we can use natural daylight at home, the less we use electricity, which of course, is better for the planet. Even if you can’t position your work-at-home desk near a window, try to have your lunch break outside or near a window.

“Think about where daylight comes from, at which time of the day, and learn its natural cycle. Maybe think about moving a comfy chair to a window that catches the sun at lunchtime. That way, you’re more likely to sit there and read a magazine, or have a sandwich or cup of tea.”

top tips for lighting

8. Think carefully about statement lighting

“Chandeliers and statement lighting are usually chosen because you love the way the piece looks. But make sure the scale fits the room and you can walk underneath it without hitting your head. Consider positioning it over a table that you’re not going to move.

“Before you purchase, switch it on and see what sort of light it gives out. Will it be useful? Or will it just be a feature of the room? Consider the rest of the lighting for the room and if you need anything additional to light the space.”

From Classy Candyfloss Pink to Pale Blush – How to Work Pink at Home

pink home

Surprisingly versatile and super-sophisticated, Sam Wylie-Harris explores the pulling power of pink.

Pink comes into its own in springtime – and we’re not just talking fragrant blooms and bridesmaids’ dresses.

From soft, dusty hues to the palest blush, pink is one of the most playful shades to bring into your home, and you don’t need to be in the first throes of love to embrace a pink palate.

Indeed, this season’s candy crush isn’t all saccharine sweet, and neither does it delve into Barbie territory. Pink interiors can be super-sophisticated and subtle, and styled to bring beauty and radiance without having to go over the top. This is all about shifting our perceptions on how to ‘think pink.’

“The colour pink evokes sophistication and playfulness. This romantic shade can instantly bring a subtle sense of femininity into your home, through the use of accessories and homewares,” says Claire Hornby, head of creative at Barker and Stonehouse furniture designers.

“You’ll be surprised how easy it is to create a fresh and airy living space when using pink to style your space. What I love about this colour is that you don’t have to completely redecorate to be able to introduce this palette.”

pink home

Adding pink accents

“Whether you want to add bold pops of bright pink or duskier pinks for a neutral feel, it’s possible to transform your space with key furniture pieces and accessories,” says Hornby.

“Add a burst of colour and opt for a gorgeous armchair in a soft rose hue, or if you want to experiment further, a showstopping sofa with a mid-century design would look wonderful.

“To balance the look and to keep it light, complement your pink pieces with lots of white for a timeless and versatile look.

“Alternatively, if you’re looking to enhance an existing neutral palette, introduce dusty pink cushions and smaller accessories, such as tealight holders, throws or vases,” Hornby suggests.

pink home

Pink is ‘the new beige’

When it comes to creating a scheme, furniture and soft furnishings can be used as key building blocks too – and pink is practically a neutral now. In other words, it just works, and it’s perfectly OK to use it sparingly.

Suzy McMahon, buying director for Sofology furniture designers, says: “For many homes, particularly over the past few years, pink has become a neutral tone offering a contemporary twist on the traditional beige. Opting for a pink sofa or armchair is the perfect way to bring the shade into the home, creating a base that can be built upon.

“Layering blush and powder tones with shades of grey creates a fresh, modern look that isn’t overly romantic. ,” McMahon adds. “Keeping patterns minimal and not too feminine will create a space that all family members and guests can enjoy spending time in. Light woods and metallics work particularly well with softer, rose type hues.”

Alternatively, she suggests bolder, brighter shades can be used to reinvigorate spaces and as a statement focal point in the room.

“Pairing with monochrome or darker hues, such as teal, will ensure the pink pops. Be careful to not opt for too many clashing colours, as schemes using bolder shades should be playful yet considered. If you have your heart set on a deep pink sofa, try to pair it with neutral walls and floors to ensure the seating isn’t lost in your room,” McMahon adds.

She says texture is key with pink, and suggests thinking about the overall style you’re looking to create. For example, a blush velvet will create a very different feel and impact to a blush cotton. “Ask yourself: are you looking for something opulent or pared back, traditional or contemporary?”

pink home

Table dressing in pink

If you’re still feeling a bit shy about adding a permanent dose of pink, you can always set the scene with a pink tablecloth, which can quickly be cleared away – and a stylish solution to investing in something more serious and sophisticated. It’ll also work beautifully with rose wine season coming into full swing, as we drink pink for the foreseeable future.

pink home

Pimp up your pink

Of course, putting pink in the spotlight doesn’t mean having to create a whole canvas of rosy hues. And if you’re worried about a pop of pink having a short shelf life, you can always give the look a modern edge by layering, intensifying and styling with a shot of electric pink.

Think bubble-gum pink candles, a cloud of candy floss in one particular corner of a room and A-list trimmings – cushions and throws are a good starting point. A lampshade or curtain tie-back made out of flamenco pink feathers or electric-pink pom-poms are always top of our wish list.

pink home

Pick a pink paint

“Neutral and muted tones of pink are complex and add areas of interest, yet they’re easy to live with,” says Judy Smith, colour consultant for Crown Paints. “Pink looks particularly sophisticated and smart when used as a backdrop to contemporary natural materials and most modern furniture designs.

“Pink works really well with cool neutrals, such as brilliant whites and all tones of grey – from light to moody,” she adds. “The choice depends on what type of look you’d like to create – bold and dramatic, or cool and restful.

“If you want to create a warmer space, try pairing neutral pink with either earthy terracotta shades or a warm cherry.”

To create a dramatic scheme and make sure pink looks up to date and edgy, Smith suggests adding touches of black or charcoal, perhaps in fine outlines on the wall, woodwork or in furniture.

“It brings this soft tone more into focus and makes it look fresh and modern. The pink and charcoal colour combination is also incredibly versatile and can easily be adapted to suit all types of styles, from industrial chic to minimal Scandi or modern country,” Smith adds.

pink home

Laying down a pink path

“Flooring is the perfect place for pink, as it creates an on-trend base that can be built upon and transformed instantly with a few considered accessories,” says Jemma Dayman, buyer for carpets at Carpetright.

To create a calming and tranquil atmosphere, she suggests opting for carpet in a soft, blush shade, which can be warmed up with statement furnishings.

“If you’re keen on pink but aren’t sure you’d like a complete scheme, a contemporary rug is an affordable way to add a dash of colour without the commitment,” advises Dayman. “Allow yourself to have a little fun with your rug choice and opt for something you’ll love for years to come; it may stay in the same room but you might also find yourself moving it to another place as your tastes change.

“Rugs allow for personality to shine through, whether you’re opting for a whimsical novelty pattern or an art deco inspired geometric design.”

7 Tips for Turning Treasured Photos into Works of Art

photo art

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

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

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

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

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

photo art

1. Mix and match

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

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

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

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

photo art

2. Lean on me

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

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

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

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

photo art

3. Natural perspective

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

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

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

photo art

4. Seeing double

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

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

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

photo art

5. Stop and stair!

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

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

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

photo art

6. Look back in time

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

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

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

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

photo art

7. Window on the world

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

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

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

10 KITCHEN KIT UPGRADES THAT ARE STYLISH AND PRACTICAL

stylish but functional kitchen

These best buys score on functionality and aesthetics, says Sam Wylie-Harris.

They’re a hub of home life, so kitchens need to be as functional and practical as they are stylish.

Whether yours has an island with a worktop large enough to accommodate Saturday Kitchen, or there’s literally just enough space for a stool and makeshift breakfast bar, the right kit will ensure it ticks all the right boxes.

These smart kitchen kit buys will bring out your best table manners…

stylish but functional kitchen

1. Russell Hobbs K65 Anniversary Kettle in Stainless Steel, £59.99, Argos, or Copper Stainless Steel, £64.99, Currys

The shut-off kettle wasn’t a thing until 1955, when Russell Hobbs shaped the way we brewed our tea and coffee forever. Now, the original K-series is celebrating its 65th anniversary and coming to the boil with the K65 anniversary edition. Available now in a classic brushed stainless-steel design, the copper version will launch in March.

stylish but functional kitchen

2. Argos Home 3 Litre Cast Iron Shallow Casserole Dish, £45, Argos

The beauty of this cream casserole dish is not only is it a chic addition to your hob with its cast iron finish, but it can multi-task and turn out soups, casseroles, curries, pasta sauces and even scrambled eggs.

stylish but functional kitchen

3. Sage SJB615 Juicer, Blender and Bluicer, Stainless Steel, £299.95, John Lewis

A blow-the-budget blender means you can blend and juice those soft strawbs, bananas and peaches, and then get to work on crunchy apples and cranberries. And here’s the fun bit, with the extra wide chute, there’s no need to chop anything beforehand, and the bowl/blade system has the power to crush and chop ice, as well as froth those creamy smoothies.

stylish but functional kitchen

4. Joseph Joseph Duo 4-Piece Chopping Board Set with Stand, £34.99, Robert Dyas

Board-ering on brilliant, this slim, non-slip stand with four designated boards to slice and dice has the capacity to take the sharpest blade, and can be popped in the dishwasher once you’ve seasoned that stewing steak.

stylish but functional kitchen

5. Sainsbury’s Home Nordic Springs Tabletop kitchenware range: Ceramic Milk Jug, £3; Spot Reactive Glaze Dinner Plate, £4.25; Pestle & Mortar, £18.50; Cast Iron Casserole Dish, £35, selected Sainsbury’s stores

A one-stop shop for all your handy homewares, we love this Scandi-style kitchenware with its monochrome design, clean lines and muted timber tones.

stylish but functional kitchen

6. Vitra Rotary Tray, Ice Grey, £41, Heal’s

Sometimes the simplest design can be the smartest solution, especially when you consider this rotating tray can hold all your spices, olive oil and mini Kilner jars, or be stacked with espresso cups, coffee mugs, fresh fruit – and even dips and crudites, if you’re more hors d’oeuvre than herbal tea and honey.

7. George Foreman 25850 Smokeless BBQ Large Health Grill, £69.99, Argos

All the thrill of the grill without having to brave the great outdoors, or wait for the sun to put its hat on. Sizzling steaks and enticing smoky flavours with smokeless technology means no lasting whiff after the last BBQ skewer has been scoffed.

stylish but functional kitchen

8. Lavazza Desea Coffee Machine, £149 (was £199), Lavazza

The latest model in the Lavazza library of modish coffee machines, make like a barista with five pre-programmed milky modes and personalised coffee experience at the touch of a button. The Desea is also the quietest A Modo Mio system to date.

stylish but functional kitchen

9. John Lewis & Partners Shaker Oak Coat Rack, £35; John Lewis & Partners + Orla Kiely Bunch of Stems Oven Mitt, £16, Apron, £25, and Set of Tea Towels, £16, other items from a selection, John Lewis (available from late February)

This new range from Orla Kiely – including tea towels, oven mitt and apron – is an easy way to style up and update the kitchen, without having to get your hands dirty.

stylish but functional kitchen

10. Breville VTT943 New York Collection 4 Slice Toaster with Lift and Look, Matt Black Stainless Steel, £84.8, Amazon

With its sleek design and cool matt black finish, this is at the top of our super toaster list. With variable width and browning options to make the most of your loaf, it’s guaranteed to butter up your guests too.

10 MOTHER’S DAY GIFTS FOR HOME COMFORT QUEENS

home comforts mothers day presents

A gift she can enjoy at home is bound to be a hit. Gabrielle Fagan has Mother's Day shopping sorted.

Mother’s Day is the perfect occasion to make your mum feel special with a thoughtful gift – but while chocolates and flowers are a fail-safe traditional choice, how about surprising her with a home treat?

From accessories to make her rooms sparkle with style, or a pampering gift to indulge her homebody side, there are countless options to choose from to suit all budgets.

From decor divas and party queens, to home-comfort queens. – here’s our guide to irresistible gifts for every mum…

home comforts mothers day presents

1. Pick up on petal power

Real blooms soon wilt, but a faux plant and floral cushion will be a lasting memory of the day and bring joy for months to come.

Mum Slogan Floral Polka Dot Cushion, £7, George Home at Asda; Pink Artificial Hydrangeas In A Pot, £5.99, Homescapes

home comforts mothers day presents

2. Serve up a teatime treat

A relaxing cuppa is even more enjoyable when drunk from pretty china – and especially when it’s her own special set.

Pink Roses Mum Half Pint Mug Boxed, 19.95; Little Pink Rose 2 Mug Tea Set Boxed, £89.95, Emma Bridgewater

home comforts mothers day presents

3. Get the drinks in

Party queens will love a drinks trolley – a must-have for today’s stylish homes – and a set of cocktail bar accessories could be the perfect finishing touch.

Michelle Keegan Home Aruba Mirrored Drinks Trolley, £149, Very; 4 Piece Cocktail Mixing Set, £24.95 (was £29.95), FlowBarware.co.uk

home comforts mothers day presents

4. Bring her sunshine

Yellow accessories, together with her favourite chair, could help her create a special ‘sunny’ corner for relaxing – and isn’t that what every mum really wants?

Chill Here Printed cushion, £12.99, Beautify.co.uk; Opal Table Lamp, £14, JD Williams

home comforts mothers day presents

5. Let her grow

Spoil green-fingered mums with some designer tools and a special sign for her outdoor kingdom.

Mum’s Garden Wooden Sign, £6, The Contemporary Home; Sophie Conran Dibber, £14.95, and Sophie Conran Twist Cultivator, £16.95, both Annabel James

home comforts mothers day presents

6. Splash out

Treat her to a ‘me time’ session at home by gifting all the ingredients for a perfect pamper night – including her own rubber duck, for a long, luxurious soak in the bath.

Cocktail Candle – Sparkling Prosecco, £1, and Mother’s Day Rubber Duck, £1, both Poundland stores; 100% Cotton Polka Dot Towels, £5-£10 each, Matalan

home comforts mothers day presents

7. Bring on the glamour

For house proud mums, shimmering, metallic homeware is the perfect way to raise the style stakes in any space.

Tall Metallic Planter On Legs, £29, 50, and Santoro Brass Set Of Tables, £199, both Marks and Spencer

home comforts mothers day presents

8. Create a sultry sanctuary

Let her transform her bedroom into an exotic retreat, with some oh-so-fashionable jungle-design bed linen.

Green City Jungle Duvet Set, from £10, George Home at Asda

home comforts mothers day presents

9. Boost her wellbeing

If she struggles with sleep, give the gift of sweet dreams with a clever LED lamp. Equipped with various lights (it simulates sunrise and sunset) and sound settings, it claims to help support our natural sleep rhythm.

Beurer WL50 Wake Up To Daylight Table Lamp, £69.99, John Lewis

home comforts mothers day presents

10. Bring on the blues

Pantone’s named Classic Blue as 2020’s Colour of the Year, and blue accessories are a must for on-trend rooms.

Alaska Blue Tall Glass Vase, £25, Habitat; Tie Dye Blue Throw, £25, JD Williams

How to Make your Home Calmer and Less Cluttered in 7 Simple Steps

how to get a calmer home

With spring around the corner, it's the perfect time to treat your home to a detox. Gabrielle Fagan taps up the Topology design gurus for tips.

Spring is almost here – and the start of this new season often makes us yearn for clean, calm, refreshed spaces at home.

Amy Brandhorst and Athina Bluff, aka interior design duo Topology, have teamed up with Habitat to share expert tips on how to banish your home’s winter hangover and make it warm weather-ready and fabulous.

The stylish pair have taken a lot of inspiration from Feng shui. Although it might sound a tricky concept to get your head around, the traditional Chinese practice basically centres on the belief that the specific arrangement of shapes, furniture and objects can have an effect on the unseen energies around us, and combine to harmonise and balance a space.

Creating a positive home environment, it’s believed, benefits our mental and physical health too.

Curious? Follow Topology’s seven step home ‘detox’ plan to create a serene sanctuary that boosts your wellbeing, and where you can relax and look forward to sunnier days ahead…

how to get a calmer home

1. Study the space

As a beginner, it’s easiest to kick off your Feng shui mission in either your home office/desk area or your hall, say the two designers. “Placing your desk in the centre of a room or opposite/adjacent to a window, according to the laws of Feng shui, enhances creativity, energy and productivity,” they explain.

Apparently, it pays dividends if you blitz that hall as well. After all, if your first sight of home when you get in after a day at the office is a dumping ground for coats, shoes and sports kit, it won’t exactly lift your spirits! “Keeping it tidy, spacious and inviting is a great start for good Feng shui and positivity within the home,” enthuse the pair.

Cleaning the windows so they let in more light could also be a good move.

how to get a calmer home

2. Follow the three-colour rule

Sticking to a simple colour scheme can prevent your space from feeling chaotic or busy, they point out. Just doing that can, they explain, make spaces feel much more understated and tranquil but still full of depth and interest.

TOP TIP: Pick three main colours that naturally appeal to you, then build on that by choosing different shades or tones that work with the dominant colour of the three.

If you’re a decor diva and ultra fashionable blue appeals, this could be a great calming choice. As the Topology duo highlight, research has found that being in blue spaces can even lower our blood pressure.

Adding toning shades to your chosen blue colour – such as teal, navy or sky blue – could be the perfect colour palette for a gentle, harmonious scheme.

how to get a calmer home

3. Introduce more nature

Biophilia is a bit of a buzzword in the worlds of interiors and wellness right now – and in essence is a nod to upping the greenery in rooms with indoor plants, to harness our innate need to connect with nature. The Topology pair point out the powerful potential effect on our wellbeing of filling our homes with plants, as it’s thought we’re significantly happier when we’re surrounded by the natural world.

TOP TIP: An interior furnished with natural materials – earthenware, linen, marble-based lamps and objects, woollen cushions and blankets – will increase that feeling of being connected to the great outdoors.

how to get a calmer home

4. Lift items off the floor

Lifting furniture, clutter and everyday objects up and away from the floor can easily create a lighter, detoxified and more uplifting space, according to the pair.

“Seeing more floor space and light through and around objects in a room helps a space feel much more weightless and clutter-free,” they explain.

TOP TIP: Sofas or chairs with high legs make furniture appear less bulky and dominating. Open storage and wall shelves will complement the style and add to an airy, uncluttered effect.

how to get a calmer home

5. Use rounded shapes

Shape – not size – is everything! Spherical, round, or gently curving furniture and home accessories can not only create a sense of balance but is visually pleasing, say the designers.

There’s even science behind the theory, they point out, as research has found that receptors in the brain light up dramatically when people are around the presence of curved or round objects, rather than angular or jagged shapes.

TOP TIP: A round mirror above a bed is effective in a bedroom, which should be an oasis of calm, while other good choices are a round pouffe, spherical pendant lights, or a round coffee table.

how to get a calmer home

6. Designate a clutter drawer

No home can be completely free of clutter – so create a place specifically for tucking it away. Try the designers’ two-step plan for a clutter-busting solution.

First, home in on that clutter and gather it into one place (at some point, you can work out whether you can sort it, reduce it, or get rid of it altogether). Next, select one drawer to store unsightly or practical items that can’t be stored elsewhere in a home.

Unsightly electrical cables, newspapers, children’s toys or spare accessories could be the perfect candidates for that ‘tidy away’ compartment, they suggest.

how to get a calmer home

7. Create a multi-sensory home

Finally, finish with a flourish by making your home a multi-sensory space, urge the interior gurus. This simply means a space which appeals to all of our senses: touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste.

Apparently, if all those needs are catered for, explain the duo, it helps us feel relaxed and nurtured in our homes – what’s not to like?

TOP TIP: While in general, the scent of lavender and vanilla and soft fabrics such as cashmere make us feel comforted, it’s more important to focus on what makes you feel good as an individual.

Experiment with different colours, textures, fabrics and scents to help you find the perfect ingredients for your special sanctuary, suggest Brandhorst and Bluff. “After all,” they say, “our homes should be personal to each of us and adhere to our needs.”

As part of The Home Detox campaign, Habitat will host a series of interior design, houseplant and cookery workshops in its London stores throughout March 2020. For further info and tips, see habitat.co.uk/inspiration/small-space-living.

How to Brighten your Home for Spring with a Touch of Yellow

yellow decor for spring

Sam Wylie-Harris rounds up the sunniest yellow homeware and accessories to shop now.

The power colour of spring, nothing signals happiness and hope like bright, sunshine yellow.

As well as dazzling visually, yellow can lighten the mood, make everything look fresh and bright – and most importantly in the scheme of things, it’s very easy to place this pigment in the home and jazz up your space.

Whereas stylists and fashionistas often cite yellow as a difficult colour to wear and suggest it should only be worn sparingly, interior designers love to incorporate yellow in their design edits.

Best of all, yellow is surprisingly versatile and an easy shade to mix and match. You can use it as a colour block to break up a room, introduce pops of canary yellow, primrose or mustard to brighten up a dark corner, or for a sunlit twist, energise an open-plan space.

Here’s some of our favourite ways to work yellow into rooms right now…

yellow decor for spring

Glasshouse Mustard Wallpaper, £60 per roll, Graham & Brown (furniture and decos, stylist’s own)

One of the brightest ways to introduce yellow is to let it star in a feature wall central to your design scheme. The new Glasshouse collection at Graham & Brown illustrates a flourishing garden paradise with herons and egrets walking among honeysuckle and clematis, and emerald toned leaves softening the look. Think of this luxurious matt paper as a cheat’s sheet to a flight of fancy, without having to leave home.

yellow decor for spring

The Lover Sofa – 3 Seater in Barley, from £1,373, Willow & Hall

A statement sofa positioned just so always looks amazing, and you can play up the sunny accents by stacking it with cushions in a warm gold (we love anything tasselled, especially velvet for a luxe boho vibe). Otherwise, go for a striking black and white monochrome print to add depth and texture against the bold yellow backdrop and keep the lines clean.

yellow decor for spring

Emma Bridgewater Daffodils And Narcissus Set of 2 Half Pint Mugs, £39.95, Daisy Park

Bright and beautiful, you can build on this set of mood enhancing mugs by stacking them with other daffodil prints. You’ll have a host of golden daffs to add extra cheer to your morning coffee in no time.

yellow decor for spring

Artificial Floral In Window Box, £25, and Artificial Ditsy Floral In Vase, £22, Next

Bright as brass and zero maintenance, faux foliage doesn’t get more fabulous than this. Especially when you consider these trumpet blooms bring joy and cheer 24/7.

yellow decor for spring

Orla Kiely House for Harlequin Classic Stem Wallpaper, £67 per roll, Orla Kiely Juniper Stem Ceramic Table Lamp, £75, John Lewis & Partners

If you want to play with prints and match mellow yellow with yoke yellow, a clever concept is to choose your wall space (south-facing rooms love colour and will bounce the light around) and take a simple print such as Orla Kiely’s stem design, build on it with coordinating decos, and bring in brighter shades to maximise those beams of sunlight.

yellow decor for spring

Bold Monkey Princesses Have Feelings Too Armchair, £549, Cuckooland

Who wouldn’t want to sit pretty in this sumptuous winged back chair? Finished in a modern, oriental style print with a shimmer of gold, it’s a real hero piece and will work just as well in the living room, bedroom or study.

yellow decor for spring

Chroma Curtains – Mustard, from £95-£160, Clarissa Hulse (furniture and decos, stylist’s own)

Dressing windows with some sunny yellow curtains is an easy update if you want to make a room bright and airy. To see how the colour can be a game-changer, these ready-made drapes, paired with muted decos and touches of palm-green, don’t overpower but still offer visual impact. They’re 100% cotton, lined, and available in six sizes with a gathered 3-inch tape top for a sleek finish.

yellow decor for spring

House by John Lewis Hex Table Lamp – Mustard, £25, John Lewis & Partners

With yellow stealing the spotlight, this trendy bulb lamp ticks all the right boxes.

yellow decor for spring

Espinillo Bed Linen – Tumeric, from £15-£75, Clarissa Hulse

For a fresh approach that’s not overwhelming, we love this botanical bed linen, featuring fanned acacia leaves against an ombre of turmeric yellow and dove grey. You could even team it with other pieces in the collection, such as silk lampshades and cushions for a super-luxe feel.

yellow decor for spring

Lemon & Bergamot Home Fragrance Collection Candles and Diffusers, from £6-£16 each, Next

We can’t think of anything more uplifting than the zesty scent of lemons blended with bergamot. Next’s range of diffusers and cantles will scent your rooms and add some lovely pops of yellow.

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

Pearl Lowe Faded Glamour

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

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

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

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

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

Pearl Lowe Faded Glamour

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

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

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

Pearl Lowe Faded Glamour

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

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

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

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

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

Pearl Lowe Faded Glamour

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

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

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

Colourful Faded Glamour: Solange Azagury-Partridge

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

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

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

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

Pearl Lowe Faded Glamour

Jewels for the home

Chic Faded Glamour: Alice Temperley

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

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

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

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

Fashion a glamorous home

Bohemian Faded Glamour: Sera Hersham-Loftus

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

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

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

Go natural

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

Pearl Lowe Faded Glamour

Angel Strawbridge: ‘Your Home is a Place to have Fun, Explore and be creative’

Angel Strawbridge decorate your home

As she launches her Sainsbury's Home range, Gabrielle Fagan talks to Escape To The Chateau's Angel Strawbridge about style, dreams and finding joy.

Angel Strawbridge decorate your home

Meeting Angel Strawbridge – unmistakable with her bright red hair and trademark mega-watt smile – is like encountering a whirlwind of energy and enthusiasm.

She and her husband, Dick, have found fame as the eccentric and totally irresistible couple on Channel 4’s popular series, Escape To The Chateau.

Viewers have been enthralled by their challenging journey renovating and transforming the dilapidated 19th century Chateau-de- la-Motte-Husson in France into a stunning family home and wedding venue, where they live with their children, Arthur, six, and Dorothy, five.

Angel Strawbridge decorate your home

Their love for each other is as much a part of the show’s success as their love for the chateau. Dick, as cheery as he appears on screen, keeps a vigilant eye out for Angel’s pet dread – spiders – whenever they crop up.

“That’s so lovely but the only trouble is he often mistakes my false eye lashes for spiders and throws them away too,” says Angel, 41, giggling affectionately.

“But ours truly is a big, fat love story. It was love at first sight when Dick and I met. My heart literally was fluttering and pounding when I saw him. After our first date, we both knew we didn’t ever want to leave each other.

“Then we moved to France and I had another love-at-first-sight moment, when I saw a picture of the chateau online. I really trust my instinct and would have bought it without visiting, but Dick sensibly insisted we check it out first!”

That life-changing moment came in 2015, just after they’d traded in their two-bedroom flat in Essex to move to France – and has undoubtedly paid dividends. They paid just £280,000 for the 45-room property and endless grounds, but it’s now a hugely successful enterprise.

Angel Strawbridge decorate your home

They’re just about to embark on a nationwide UK tour (Feb 23-March 23) talking about their adventures – and Angel’s launched her own home accessories and fragrance range, The Chateau by Angel Strawbridge, for Sainsbury’s Home.

The pair seem perfectly matched in skills as well as outlook. A former Lieutenant Colonel in the British Army, engineer and chef Dick has a wealth of TV experience – appearing on Scrapheap Challenge, It’s Not Easy Being Green, and Celebrity MasterChef.

Angel is an entrepreneur, designer, author of The Vintage Tea Party book series, and a successful Dragons’ Den contestant.

“We’re both genuine grafters, who aren’t afraid of hard work,” says Angel. “Dick’s a brilliant troubleshooter and totally practical. His favourite expression is: ‘the harder you work, the luckier you get’.

“I have the view that if you just have the courage to give something a go, you can achieve anything you want, so we’re a good combination. We didn’t want to just dream about a fantastic life in France, we wanted to create it.”

Angel Strawbridge decorate your home

What does the chateau mean to you?

“We’ve given this our all but it’s been a real bonding experience too. It’s definitely our forever home. The work transforming it has felt relentless at times but so enjoyable.

“We’re both so proud of it – when we first moved here in the middle of winter there was no running water, heating or electricity, bats in the bedrooms and the only sanitation was the moat surrounding the property. You had to love the place, otherwise you’d have given up.

“For me, it’s a brilliant combination – a truly beautiful home, where we can raise our kids and run our weddings business. I’m a total wedding junkie and would carry on doing them even if I ever became a millionaire.”

How would you describe your style?

“Eclectic, whimsical and always vintage, because that’s the underpinning of everything I do. I’ve been a fan from five-years old and spent my pocket money collecting Fifties’ trinkets and tea sets from car-boot sales and second-hand shops, then moved onto clothes as a teenager.

“My mega collection of tea sets and British and royalist memorabilia is brilliant for curated displays. I can never resist a little bit of fantasy, like one wall decorated with 3D butterflies, and the kids’ playroom with its vintage helter-skelter.

“I’m always using foliage from our garden to bring nature into the rooms. In my book, you can create anything you want in your home – it’s a place to have fun, explore and be creative.”

Angel Strawbridge decorate your home

Where do you get your inspiration?

“I have a very open mind, partly because I’m dyslexic – I didn’t learn to read until I was 11. In a way, it was brilliant because I never had my brain swamped by academics, which allowed my creative side to flourish. I was always good at business though, I’m a qualified accountant, and the two skills are a great blend.

“Often, something inspires me when Dick and I go ‘thrifting’ – one of our favourites outings – when we browse French second-hand markets and antique shops for everything from linens, china and glasses through to taxidermy.

“The children love it too. Dorothy’s inherited my passion for tea sets. She’ll squeal with excitement and say, ‘Mum, you will love this!’, if she spots something.”

What’s your colour palette?

“When I was living in London, it was very much red, white and blue and a little bit of Victorian darkness. But now the house reflects a brighter kind of French Provincial style, with loads of ochre, dusty pink, lavender, and greens.

“I’ve used the same soft colour palette for my new Escape To The Chateau fragrance range for Sainsbury’s, and the scents are inspired by the plants and flowers that surround the house.

“I rely a lot on my sixth sense, my intuition, and I’ll just shut my eyes and think, ‘Will this look or that colour look right?’, and make my decision based on that. It usually works.”

Angel Strawbridge decorate your home

Do you and Dick agree on all the decor decisions?

“Dick pretty well allows me a free rein. We never fall out but we have passionate discussions – if you’re madly in love like we are, those are just fluff around the outside. We’re not arguing about values – just the little details.

“He has one rule that we’re not allowed to redo decorating while we’re still finishing the chateau. But I’m naughty and can’t resist adding new details and changes here and there while Dick’s away! It’s a bit of a joke between us.”

Angel Strawbridge decorate your home

How do you feel about this time in your life?

“I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. There’s never enough hours in the day – I often get up at 2am so I can get a head-start on work before the kids rampage into our room. This year, we both want to focus on a bit of ‘me’ time – the nearest I get is half an hour soaking in a bath!

“But it’s wonderful being together as a family – my parents live in a converted outhouse next door and are a great support. Although people may recognise us from the TV when we go back to London, in France we’re just ‘the people who do weddings and live in the chateau’.

“It’s wonderful watching the kids grow up here and they’re involved with everything we do, helping with the cooking and chores.

“You can have a really tough day but when they get home from school, we spend time with them, no computers or phones on, and it’s like a natural medicine. Any problems melt away.”

Angel Strawbridge decorate your home

What’s your ambition for the future?

“We are literally in this whirlwind of amazing-ness and it’s been such a journey, with ups and downs and huge highs. We’re always just trying to be better at doing what we do, and be a great example for the kids.

“But really we don’t look too far ahead, because what we’re really good at is enjoying every moment and never taking anything for granted.”

Valentine’s Day Decor: set the Scene at Home with these Heartfelt Touches

valentines day home decor

Planning a romantic night in this Valentine's Day? Gabrielle Fagan reveals her top picks for February 14.

valentines day home decor

Love can, of course, be shown with just a look, a touch or a few words… but woe betide if you don’t pull out all the stops on Valentine’s Day!

Face it, even the most unromantic soul will appreciate a small gesture that marks the event and shows you care – and if you’re courting, wooing or planning to propose, setting the scene is key.

So show your home some love with flirty, fun or down-right romantic touches that could reveal your feelings, celebrate what you share, or simply make rooms more ‘love-ly! Here’s our top picks…

Pick an ever-lasting bouquet

A bouquet of roses is a classic Valentine’s gift but those blooms soon wilt. Instead, spoil a wall with a rose-print wallpaper – digital techniques are now so good, they look freshly picked – which will transform a bedroom into a feminine, sensual boudoir.

Flirt with fun details

Keep it subtle and follow a soft pink theme – rather than full-on red – and use just a few pretty accessories to show you care. They’ll be perfect for that Insta-moment too!

valentines day home decor

Serve up sweet somethings

Avoid PDAs (Public Displays of Affection) by creating the perfect setting for that romantic meal at home. Follow a hearts and roses theme, with a red table runner, heart scatter, and napkin tied with ribbon adorned with a single rose.

Make a loving statement

Inject colour and passion into a room, with saucy accessories that could signal your intentions.

valentines day home decor

Romance the room

The colour red is traditionally associated with feelings of love, passion and desire, and a dramatic red roses backdrop will leave a partner in no doubt about your feelings.

A garland or a balloon (follow the ‘less is more’ rule here for best effect) could be just enough to set a heart fluttering.

Shine a loving light

If all those hearts and flowers make you cringe, make a witty, playful statement with funky, quirky accessories instead. Neon’s bang on trend, and a Neon Heart Light or ‘Hello Gorgeous’ Neon Palm Print (£36.95, unframed) from Audenza, could be just the thing to float your rebellious decor boat.

valentines day home decor

Look out for love

Turn away from the predictable and keep it subtle with monochrome. A window blind design that celebrates hearts could ensure a romantic outlook throughout the year.

Spell out your desire

If long declarations of love aren’t your style, keep it short and sweet with a few accessories that tell all.

Toast your love

Special occasions require a toast. Do it in style, with beautiful glasses that could become treasured mementos.

valentines day home decor

Let it glow

Candlelight’s not the only ingredient for an intimate setting. A string of heart-shaped lights, hung in a hallway or arranged on a mantel, could be a surprising but effective touch.

Tempt with a treat

Little gestures mean so much. Breakfast in bed will be extra special if it’s served on a tray with Valentine-themed tableware.

valentines day home decor
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