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Kitchen Cool: 13 Ways to Serve up a Feast of Style

Whether it’s a full-blown revamp or simple updates, Gabrielle Fagan stirs up some style solutions for the heart of the home.

Our kitchens are having to work harder than ever these days, as we’re spending more time in them – and we’re not just using them to cook up a storm.

That eating area now has to be able to perform as a family space, an entertaining zone, and maybe a home office for many of us too. So it needs to not only look the business, but to function well to facilitate our busy and multi-layered home lives.

Looking to give your kitchen an update? Follow our recipe for creating the perfect kitchen in your home, whatever your budget…

1. Island story

An island is still the most coveted design feature in a kitchen – and it’s easy to see why. It’s invaluable as a preparation area, and means you can flex your culinary skills without turning your back on the party.

“Kitchen islands and breakfast bars offer a versatile and adaptable space that can be used in so many ways,” says Joanne Emery, marketing manager at Burbidge.

“They can create zones in your area, giving the illusion of two separate functional rooms, whilst keeping the room clutter-free by providing additional storage. Consider incorporating open shelving for items you use frequently.”

2. Dark matters

Black is a design classic, whether for clothes or kitchen units, and paired with a metallic it’s a recipe for sophistication.

Choose handles, taps and kitchen accessories in brass, copper or bronze – the finishes which have taken over from last year’s polished chrome.

3. Cooking with colour

Our growing desire for colourful spaces is reflected in more vivid kitchen cabinetry and ‘colour pops’, which allow for a more playful, individual look.

If you’re worried you may tire of units or tiles in a vibrant shade, or they’ll look dated as fashions move on, simply shake up the space with colourful accessories instead.

Paintings, storage canisters, or worktop appliances in funky shades could be just the colour ‘pop’ you need, and they can be easily moved or updated in the future.

4. Double identity

There’s a real trend for kitchens to feel like extensions of living rooms now too. Our home-based lifestyle means we want spaces where it’s easy to cook for the family during the day, but have the ‘wow’ factor to transform into striking evening entertainment spaces at night, or just somewhere to relax and unwind.

Ensure your colour scheme in both areas – the kitchen and the lounge area – harmonises, which will make the space look bigger and blend together.

5. Savvy switch up

If a full-scale revamp is out of the question, don’t underestimate the power of replacing cabinet door fronts, which can transform your kitchen at a fraction of the cost of a refit.

If you’re into DIY, repainting kitchen units is fairly straightforward – but ensure you prepare the surface well beforehand, by lightly sanding, cleaning with white spirit, and applying two coats of paint. B&Q has a good range of cabinet paint, including the GoodHome Durable Delaware Matt Cabinet & Wardrobe Paint, £20 for 0.75L.

For a final flourish, invest in new handles and light switches to give the room an extra lift.

6. Ace the space

If you haven’t got acres of space to work with, you need to make the most of ever corner. A cook’s trolley, a hanging rack for utensils, and ceiling-height cupboards can all be a boon – and the plus point is everything will be within easy each.

7. Pendant power

Move over spotlights and track lighting – pendant lights currently rule in kitchens. One statement light, or a group of three, will brilliantly define a selected space, such as a kitchen island or dining area.

8. Make a splash

Swapping a tiled splashback for a striking mural will take a kitchen from functional to fabulous.

“Murals never fail in adding impact and are brilliant for adding drama and depth, giving an illusion of looking out onto a different scene, view or landscape. They can have a magical effect on a room,” says Michael Ayerst, managing director of Surface View, who recreate images on made-to-measure wall murals, canvasses, blinds and ceramic tiles.

Gilded Paper Wallpaper Mural by Richard Hamilton Smith GS, from the Trunk Archive at Surface View, from £40 per square metre, Surfaceview.co.uk.

9. Modern mix

“The enduring trend for kitchens is about mixing it up, whether that’s with contrasting materials such as wood and metallics, or textured and smooth finishes,” says Gary Griffin, UK sales manager UK at Rational (rational.de/en).

“Cabinets incorporating the grain and beauty of timber are one of the keynote features of 2020. It’s hardly surprising, as natural materials such as wood suit both contemporary and classic homes and this is a great way to ensure that, no matter what your design choice, your home has a warm, relaxed feel.”

Whilst neutral palettes remain popular, Griffin notes there’s been a move towards the ‘dark side’, with bolder choices of black or grey units – but unlike their shiny predecessors of the Nineties, these now come in an understated matt finish.

Rational’s Uno handle-less kitchen combines an oiled cracked oak veneer with sleek matt black units in a Monolack, a new lacquered laminate finish. Features include a pull-out coffee machine module and a Passe-Partout internal storage system (from £12,000).

10. Take to the floor

A feature wall, a stunning chandelier, and a ‘look at me’ choice of flooring in a punchy shade could be the perfect ingredients for a glamorous space.

11. Love a larder

While the concept of a larder harks back to an era before refrigeration, they’re now the ultimate chic feature in today’s kitchens, and provide plenty of space for all those jars and ingredients that can clutter up the fridge or worktops.

Want to know the rest of the kit on the dream kitchen list? A range cooker, instant hot water taps, remote-control extraction units, and integrated recycling units.

12. Worktop wizardry

The worktop is the workhorse of any kitchen, and so it needs to be tough, practical and good-looking. View this feature as a way of demonstrating your taste and bringing individuality to the kitchen design.

As it will have a big visual impact, don’t leave your worktop choice ’til last – instead start with the surfaces and match other key pieces, like the cabinets, to them.

Decor tip: Veined marble is in vogue, as it’s more interesting than a plain top but won’t dominate. If you’re after a contrasting look, choose white marble and pick up on the veining colour for the paint shade on the cabinetry.

13. Rose-tinted touches

Pink is having a moment in kitchens. This soft shade can bring warmth to a cool space and works particularly well in an open-plan area, where you don’t want a harsh contrast between the living and cooking area.

3 Easy Upcycling Ideas Everyone can do at Home

Expert upcycler Max McMurdo tells Sam Wylie-Harris why savvy crafters will love beautifying these binned items.

The upcycling message is practical, powerful and pretty clever.

“I really believe that waste can be beautifully upcycled,” says Max McMurdo, eco-designer and TV presenter. “Just because an item can no longer fulfil its original purpose, doesn’t mean it can’t work really well as something else.

“I started upcycling 18 years ago and people didn’t understand what I was doing, they thought I was a mad hippy!” Chatty and fun, McMurdo lives in a 40-foot upcycled shipping container, which he converted into a floating home – and admits it’s the most ambitious thing he’s ever upcycled.

“It’s fantastic and I love it. I had the bright idea that if I’m telling people what to do, I must do it on the biggest scale of all and upcycle a home. My lampshades are old jelly moulds and my table’s a washing machine drum.”

If you take a look on Pinterest, it seems a lot of people stick to one material (which they’re comfortable with) when upcycling. But for McMurdo, successful product design and upcycling is all about mixing materials, like wood and glass or metal and leather. “So with something like a wash drum table, I put a light bulb inside that streams out of the holes, with a piece of glass on top.”

Working with reclaimed materials takes creativity and a little bit of effort. But as McMurdo points out, just because you’re upcyling, doesn’t mean it should be any less beautiful in terms of design and aesthetic. “You’ll be amazed how many things you can reuse in a really cool way!”

McMurdo has partnered with Heinz for their ‘Handmade with Heinz’ campaign, which aims to inspire people to upcycle household items and waste – like used tins, for example.

Wondering where to start? Here’s how to get a foot on the crafting ladder…

1. Upcycle old pallets into cool garden furniture

You’ll need: Some used wood pallets, castor wheels (available in sets of four), selection of ready-made cushions.

Steps: Pick up some free wood pallets from a local shop, farm or industrial estate – don’t be afraid to ask! Screw castor wheels to each corner of the bottoms of the pallets to make them manoeuvrable (they come with holes and are easy to affix). Double stack the pallets for the right height. Sand the pallets down lightly to avoid splinters, then wax to seal and make them weather resistant. Add some cushions.

Top Tip: Amazon sells Cuprnol Garden Furniture Stain Exterior Wood Care, priced £15, to seal your pallets from bad weather and keep them looking nicer for longer.

2. Upcycle a wooden ladder into a cool shelf

You’ll need: An old wooden ladder, some knick-knacks and anything you want to hang on it.

Steps: Find an old wood ladder – the more paint spattered the better. If you don’t have one, ask neighbours and friends. Prop it securely against a wall and use as a quirky shelf. You can hang it with anything you like, including clip-on lights or fairy lights. This also works as a towel rack in bathrooms.

Top tip: This one works especially well for rental properties, as you don’t need to attach anything to walls.

3. Upcycle some old books into a knife block

You’ll need: 4-5 old books (buy these from a charity shop if you don’t have any at home), strong string.

Steps: Prop your old books upright, next to each other. Wind an old piece of strong string around the books a couple of times and tie it tightly. Pop your knives in it and place on your kitchen top.

Top tip: You can also create some great artwork with old books, by folding the pages into a certain pattern, or into words like ‘love’ and ‘home’.

For more information on the #handmadewithheinz campaign, check out Heinz UK and Max McMurdo on Instagram.

11 of the Best Chandeliers, Pendant Lights and Lamps to Light up your World

Sam Wylie-Harris switches natural light for artificial, and reveals the best in statement lighting.

In the height of summer, lighting doesn’t have much opportunity to play a starring role. It’s more about window dressing to control the brightness.

But come early autumn, with dappled sunlight streaming through and a low sun casting shadows in our living space, a flick of a switch has the power to transform our interiors.

In many ways, luxe lighting offers the tools to illuminate, highlight and shine a spotlight on the things that make a difference in our lives, while setting the stage for a little bit of theatre.

Currently, sculptural forms and statement pieces are very on-trend, but neutrals and polished chrome are not forgotten. Here’s how to plug into the latest schemes…

1. Ribbon LED Ceiling Light by Heal’s, £479, other items from a selection, Heal’s

“Sculptural lighting can be a quick and easy way to create a focal point within a room, and is increasingly being used for decorative purposes,” says Claire Anstey, lighting buyer at Heal’s, “to the point where they can offer the same effect as a piece of art.”

As the evenings grow darker and we spend more time indoors, Anstey says lighting can be a great way to create drama in a space. Take their Ribbon pendant collection, “with its looping curves mimicking the movement of ribbons sweeping through the air.

“Suspended from a slim wire, the piece appears to be floating through the room and offers a touch of refined luxury – perfect for large living areas or poised above a dining table,” says Anstey.

2. Saber LED Multi Arm Chandelier, Gold, £399, Heal’s

In more contemporary schemes, linear designs work particularly well and can still offer the same level of impact with a crisp, clean glow. New for this season at Heal’s is the Saber multi-arm chandelier – a modern interpretation of the classic chandelier design. “Integrated LEDs offer an energy-saving alternative to traditional bulbs, and eight adjustable arms offer the flexibility to focus light within different areas of the room,” says Anstey.

3. Fin Pendant Grouping of 7, Natural White, £1,249, other items part of room set, Original BTC

Depending on the height of your ceilings, pendant lighting lends itself to spectacular dining settings, especially with the trend for tablescaping and entertaining at home.

As Peter Bowles, founder of Original BTC puts it: “When it comes to scale, dramatically proportioned lights are the most obvious way to create impact. A generously sized pendant will create a talking point, whether lit or not.”

While scale is one way to make a statement, it’s not always feasible to fit a grandly proportioned pendant in lower ceilinged rooms, so it’s worth exploring alternative approaches. “Often referred to as jewellery for the home, the right light fittings can complete or transform your interior scheme.” says Bowles. “Just like jewellery, a flash of brass, copper or gold can lift your room, bringing a touch of opulence.”

4. Cranton Hexagonal Pendant, Natural White, £2,969, Original BTC

Another scene stealer, if you’re looking for a central lighting source, this Instaworthy investment piece can be hung from a ceiling rose to contrast with traditional plasterwork.

5. Walter Pendant Size 2, Anthracite Glass & Brass, £459 each, Original BTC

When it comes to multiple light fittings, Bowles says three is the magic number. “Over a kitchen island or dining table, a row of three pendants will always create a strong visual impact and do all the hard work for you.”

6. Kartell Limited Edition Space Lamp, £183, Amara

Sam Hood, creative director and head of buying at Amara, says there’s a general move towards the use of lighting as a statement piece in a room – and we love this fabulously futuristic new arrival from Kartell. Depending on your budget, a pair would look stunning styled either side of a black leather sofa.

7. Humble One Table Light, White Marble, £129, Amara

Perhaps linked to increased environmental awareness, Hood says raw and natural looking colourways are also making an impact in decorative lighting. “Marble and wood patterns, seen in Humble’s new lighting range, add earthy accents to a room, particularly when placed next to indoor plants and other raw material features,” says Hood.

8. Brigantia Lighting Grey, £695 (£715 with bulb), other items from a selection, OKA

Elsewhere, basket style hanging lanterns have the power to please. “Lighting should be the star of the show in every space,” says Sue Jones, creative director for OKA. “If your ceiling height will allow it, dial up the drama with a hanging lamp that will act as a bold focal point. A style like the Brigantia is perfect to hang over a dining table as it will diffuse light and cast a soft glow.”

9. Perisphere Table Lamp – Natural, £175 (base only), Lamp & Black Drum Cotton Shade, £225, other items from a selection, OKA

Jones point out: “Remember lamps don’t have to be purely functional. A sculptural base like our new Perisphere table lamp will display just as much character when the lights are off, and can be paired with a patterned shade for an extra dash of colour.”

10. Grosvenor Floor Lamp, £115 (r), Grosvenor Table Lamp, £50 (m), Richmond Table Lamp, £90 (l), other items from a selection, Next

For a polished pool of light, this new Grosvenor collection from Next ticks all the right (light)boxes, with its chrome base complemented by a glamorous velvet shade with geometric design.

11. Jonathan Adler Constantine Table Lamp, £595, Jonathan Adler

This designer lamp is super stylish and chic. With its antiqued brass pyramid framework and lustrous piano black finish, it’s a fabulous edition to any side table.

How to Bring the Calming Principles of Feng Shui into your Home

It’s all about encouraging positive energy flow. Regardless of whether you’re back to school or not, this is a good time of year to stop, take stock and make some positive changes.

For Gen Z in particular, there’s been an increased focus on making bedrooms a calm and soothing space. Pinterest has found the age group (born between the mid-Nineties and early 2010s) is looking for serenity, with searches for ‘Zen bedroom ideas’ up five times on average, and ‘feng shui bedroom layout’ up two and a half times.

Thinking about how to bring this feeling of calmness into your home as a whole? The Chinese practice of feng shui could help. “Translated as ‘wind-water’ in English, feng shui practises the belief that by bringing positive energy into the home, good health, wealth and luck are set to follow,” explains Rebecca Snowden, interior style advisor at FurnitureChoice.co.uk.

Here are Snowden’s top tips for welcoming positive energy into your home…

Declutter

Many of us see September as a second new year, meaning it’s the ideal time to declutter. “A neat home works wonders for our mental clarity and overall health,” explains Snowden.

“In feng shui, each space is connected to each other and allows positive energy to flow throughout the house. Add a decorative mirror to the living room to make the space feel larger, and multiply the positive energy flow. Meanwhile, closets or drawers overloaded with old items block the chi (energy) so it’s best to discard any clutter.”

Balance yin and yang

Snowden recommends incorporating yin (feminine) and yang (masculine) elements into your decor. “Apply this concept by mixing different shapes together,” she says. “For example, contrast the sharp edges of wall hangings with the soft curves of a sofa or mirror in the living room. This will balance out the room and give it a more relaxing feel.”

Bring calm into your bedroom

It’s no surprise Gen Z are keen to feng shui their bedrooms: after all, getting a good night’s sleep is crucial to overall wellbeing, and the right environment can play a big part.

To boost feelings of calm and relaxation particularly in your bedroom, Snowden has two top tips: first, get rid of mirrors to help avoid an energy overload. And second, make the bed the central focus. “In feng shui, this symbolises a commanding position that allows you to take charge and handle life’s many challenges,” says Snowden. “The bed is best positioned diagonally away from your door as you will still be able to see it clearly, while not being in a direct line to it.

“Placing your bed against the wall will also give you a sense of security and ground you when you sleep. And for extra strength and stability, a bed with a headboard will represent this, with its solid support and build.”

If you have a home office, apply the same logic to your desk to bring the focus onto productivity.

Freshen up the place with plants

Snowden says plants can “bring positive energy” into a room, adding: “In feng shui, they are commonly associated as a life force and bring in growth, prosperity and luck. Common indoor plants said to attract these good elements include pothos, lucky bamboo and peace lily.”

13 Ways to Make the Most of a Small Bedroom

It's possible to live large despite sleeping small, says Luke Rix-Standing.

For many of us, house space is a fiercely contested commodity, and you need to squeeze the most out of every square inch.

But luckily there are plenty of clever tricks you can use to make this happen. Mirrors, multi-functional furniture and a recurring colour or pattern are all your friends.

Here’s how to make even the smallest bedroom feel larger – without having to sleep on the sofa…

1. Let there be light

It’s the oldest rule in the book: Bright, breezy spaces feel looser, larger and lighter, so put your bed on the opposite wall from your windows and keep them clear of clutter. Thick, heavy curtains will help you keep warm in winter, but they will also protrude physically and visually into your room, so dress your windows with unobtrusive blinds or rollers instead.

2. Under-bed storage is your friend

Every square inch counts when you’re space saving, and there should be no room for monsters beneath the bed once you’ve finished economising. Bags and boxes are good for long-term storage, but slide-out clothes drawers are especially expedient, as they lessen the need for that other great space-snatcher, a large wardrobe.

3. Make it a a virtue

One person’s cramped is another person’s cozy, and a few soft furnishings can turn a poky shoe-box into a snug den or bolthole. Think fuzzy blankets, chocolate box ornaments, warming lamps and lighting – anything you might associate with a comfy Scandinavian cabin on a cold winter’s day.

4. Mirror, mirror

Bedroom, entrance hall or downstairs loo – mirrors have long been number one on the list of domestic design tricks. They don’t add any physical space, of course, but they send light bouncing round the walls and can trick the eye into doubling a room’s depth.

For the best brightening effects, place your mirror opposite a window and for the greatest sense of space, consider the wall opposite the door.

5. Bed size matters

We know, it’s so tempting to snap up an XXL king size and spend every night splayed out like a starfish, but if floor space is precious, your bed is the obvious place to seek savings. If you’re 6’4” and married, fair play; if you’re 5’3” and single, perhaps consider downsizing.

6. Put your headboard to work

Select the right design and your headboard can double as shelves for storage; a tabletop for ornaments; a rail for hanging clothes – anything really besides a useless wooden plank.

7. Think vertically

Just as city centres maximise space by building upwards, so too can your bedroom. Think of a room in terms of volume, rather than surface area, and prioritise floor-to-ceiling units that can squeeze the most from every inch of your room. Add shelves atop wardrobes and cupboards, or just use them as storage space anyway.

If you are investing in mirrors, make them full-length, and design your room to draw the eye upwards. Consider vertically-striped wallpaper, a different-coloured ceiling, and high-hung pictures and decor.

8. Choose furniture strategically

Pick pieces that can serve multiple purposes, or at least do the job as efficiently as possible. Double up your desk and bedside table; pick a compact cabinet over an elaborate chest of drawers; investigate foldaway futons.

9. Curate your colour scheme

Lighter colours feel airier and more open, and there’s a reasons that whites, greys and varying shades of cream crop up again and again in the centrefolds of interior design magazines. From your paint job to flooring and furnishings, avoid darker colours that might lend a claustrophobic feel.

10. Establish a theme

It doesn’t take much for small spaces to feel disorganised, and giving your room a designed, curated feel brings a much-needed sense of order. It could be a colour or pattern – recurring on cushions, bed covers and wallpaper – or a simple motif.

11. Declutter

Minimalism is as fashionable as it is functional, and most bedrooms bear at least a few bulky burdens that would be better off down the charity shop. Do you really need that brick-sized Nokia with the first ever version of Snake, the box of expired medicines, or the tabletop popcorn maker you used once in 2015?

12. Marshal your corners

Corners are notoriously difficult to bring to heel, but unless you live in a lighthouse every room has at least three of them, and they can easily turn into dead space. Consider anything with a right angle – tables, light fixtures, or wraparound, triangular shelving.

13. Employ a feature wall

Every room benefits from a statement centrepiece, and in a shoe-box bedroom it can hardly be the four-poster bed. Physical focal points may struggle to squeeze in, so instead opt for a visual one – a well decorated wall with an artwork, a photo collage, or simply a bold pattern.

7 Things you Need to Know When Considering a Loft Conversion

Loft conversions can add more space and value but there's a lot to think about first. Sam Wylie-Harris seeks some expert advice.

It’s safe to say our homes have seen a lot of action over the past few months. So much so that some of us may be thinking about going up in the world – with a loft conversion, to create extra living space without having to move.

Savvy as it may sound, large construction jobs come at a price and there’s lots to consider. To help, we turned to trades site myjobquote.co.uk for insight into some of the key things to think about if you’re considering a loft conversion…

1. Hiring an architect

When planning a loft conversion, it’s best to hire an architect to design and draw up the plans. This means the loft conversion will certainly be safe, and there’s a clear plan for contractors to follow to save any confusion, time and money. Architect fees need to be considered and added to any budget for a loft conversion.

2. Planning permission and building regulations

Most loft conversions don’t need planning permission, however it’s always recommended you double-check. An architect or builder will have more of an idea whether you need to apply for planning permission, but it’s also good to research yourself. For a terraced house, you won’t need planning permission for adding 40m3 of space, and for semi-detached and detached houses, it’s 50m3 of space. You can find out more at the planning portal (planningportal.co.uk).

Even if your loft conversion doesn’t need planning permission, it will still need to adhere to building regulations and guidelines. Both contractors and architects should ensure all work being carried out follows building regulations. Not following regulations can lead to fines and even knocking down conversions that aren’t up to scratch.

3. Type of loft conversion

There are a number of different kinds of loft conversion, and it’s always good to have an idea of what type you can have in your property and what outcome you want. This will also give you an idea of what budget you’ll need too.

For example, if you’re looking for a cheaper loft conversion, a roof light loft conversion is the most affordable option, whereas a mansard loft conversion is the most expensive type. The type of loft conversion you have can also be dictated by what type and size of space you have available.

Roof light loft conversion: This is the most affordable option, as no construction is carried out on the roof, but windows are added to let in light. They don’t provide as much space as other conversions because the roof is left where it is, so if you want more space, other loft conversions may be ideal.

Dormer loft conversion: A dormer conversion increases the amount of head space in your loft, so you’ll have more space to play around with than a roof light conversion. Extra space is added by extending from the roof, and a dormer window is then added.

Hip-to-gable loft conversion: A hip-to-gable loft conversion changes the shape of a property’s roof entirely. This will give a lot of extra room to a home, but usually can only be built on semi-detached and detached houses as a sloping roof is changed to a vertical roof.

Mansard loft conversion: This type of loft conversion will give a property the most space, as the roof is completely altered (most of the time to become a flat roof) and new walls are added too.

4. Budget

Having a clear budget to stick to helps you decide what loft conversion you can afford, and what finishes and furnishing you can afford too. There are a lot of options out there to choose from, from door handles to windows, and having a budget can help you make decisions and ensure you’re not left out of pocket.

The size of your loft conversion can have a massive impact on your budget. Smaller loft conversions can cost around £15,000, whereas a larger loft conversion can cost up to £40,000 – so you definitely need to consider what size loft conversion you need and what you can afford.

5. Staircase

Think about where you can put a staircase and how much space is available for it. This is an important part of the build as you need the loft conversion to link with the rest of the house, so the property’s layout flows naturally and the conversion doesn’t create a disjointed space. There’s a range of staircases available, even for the smallest spaces, but having a plan is a must.

6. Head space needed

The space between the ceiling and floor in your loft will give you an idea on whether your loft can be converted comfortably. The minimum height for a loft conversion is about 2.2 metres, so if your loft is smaller than this, you may not be able to convert it, or you may need extra construction work to create enough head space.

7. Increased house value

Building a loft conversion could increase your home’s value by up to 22%, according to a survey conducted by Nationwide Building Society, so it’s often well worth the time, effort and money. It’s generally the best value-for-money option to add value to your home, rather than extensions and garage conversions. However, if your main aim is to increase your property’s value, make sure you do your research first on houses in your area, as there always a ceiling price on properties and you don’t want to overspend.

There are more advantages to building a loft conversion than disadvantages, as long as you do your research, keep within your budget and work with trusted contractors; there will be no unwanted surprises. It’s always recommended that you thoroughly research any significant decisions before beginning any building work.

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.

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