New Home In New Year 2019

cgi image of proposed new homes at Shapley Grange Hartley Wintney

Fine Homes At Shapley Grange

This prime site in Hartley Wintney, will be one of the finest developments on the outskirts of this sought after Hampshire village.

Prices are to be released in early 2019, and the estimated range will be around £500,000 to £1,100,000. There are only 7 homes being built at Shapley Grange and if you are in the market for a quality new home, then please do contact our Hartley Wintney branch and ask them to keep you posted about this site.

site plan of proposed new homes at Shapley Grange Hartley Wintney
Proposed site layout
cgi image of proposed new town houses at Shapley Grange Hartley Wintney
The proposed cottage style terrace houses at Shapley Grange
cgi image of proposed new homes at Shapley Grange Hartley Wintney
There will be 4 luxury home on this exclusive site

King William Court, Hartley Wintney

King William Court in now completed and the luxury homes are now occupied by new home owners, who will no doubt enjoy a first Christmas there as well as enjoy the seasons festivities in nearby Odiham and Hartley Wintney villages.

The early video marketing was a great success, with 731 people viewing the video content. 

Winchfield Lodge, near Hartley Wintney

Winchfield Lodge is an example of obsessive attention to detail, and Kirkby Homes have produced a period property refurbishment on a truly grand scale.

Winchfield Lodge Property
14 Winchfield Lodge

Winchfield View, near Hartley Wintney

With beautiful homes from around £500,0000 to £1,750,000, we haven’t been short of buyer interest and reservations on this site.

The developer is currently delayed with off site local authority infrastructure works for mains drainage from nearby roads around Phoenix Green. This means completion dates are behind schedule, but new buyer interest can look forward to 2019 as an ideal time to move to one of these fine homes.

For further details telephone our Hartley Wintney branch on 01252 842100

Need a cheap and easy home revamp? Here’s how to tile your own splashbacks.

Kitchens and bathrooms are the most important rooms in the house, and a little DIY can bring them bang up to date. Claire Spreadbury learns to tile...

diy tiling splashback

When it comes to DIY, some rooms are easier to tackle than others. Kitchens are best left to the experts, and bathrooms – aside from a bit of resealing – can often be the same.

One easy update that is pretty simple to do, however, is splashbacks. They sit behind the sink and are essential to stop water being sprayed everywhere when hands, fruit, vegetables and whatnot are washed. It is tiling, but it tends to be quite a small area, so should be achievable for most people.

revamp tiling tile splashbacks

“Adding a splashback is a great way to inject a touch of personality into your kitchen, by creating a focal point,” says Sian O’Neill, head of marketing at Topps Tiles. “It’s also a very cost-effective way of updating the appearance of a room and giving it a new look, just by making some small changes.”

What you will need

There are a few things to keep in mind when tiling your own splashbacks. Firstly, says O’Neill, ensure you have all the right equipment – including the correct adhesive, a notched trowel, safety goggles, spirit level, tile spacers and a cutter. Next, make sure you work out how many tiles you need by measuring the area and adding 10% for any cuts and wastage.

revamp tiling tile splashbacks

Choosing your tiles

“As splashbacks create a focal point, they lend themselves to more vibrant colours or patterns to make a real statement,” notes O’Neill. “They also provide the ideal canvas to be brave with statement shapes, so consider the lay pattern before you start.”

A herringbone style, for example, can add real interest to the area and create a unique look.

“Block colours can offer a classic and timeless look, while intricately patterned tiles create more of a contemporary finish,” she adds. “And when it comes to the type of tile, ceramic or porcelain tend to be more favourable than the likes of natural stone, as they are lower in maintenance – an important consideration given the fact your splashback needs to be water resistant and less susceptible to staining.”

revamp tiling tile splashbacks

Think about the grouting

Not many of us have spent much time deliberating grout, but there are different colours available and – despite the subtle differences – choosing the right grout can really enhance the overall effect. “It’s important not to overlook the colour of the grout chosen, as this can provide the all-important finishing touch. Darker grouts can offer lower maintenance compared to the traditional white, when used in areas with high activity or likely food splatters,” says O’Neill.

revamp tiling tile splashbacks

Preparing and tiling the wall

“When you have your tiles and all the necessary tiling equipment, prepare the wall to ensure it is smooth, clean, completely dry and free from any dust or debris,” says O’Neill. “Apply an even layer of adhesive to a tiling or notched trowel, and starting from the corner, spread the product over the area of two or three tiles at a time. Place the tiles firmly on the adhesive, using spacers to create an even layout.

“Allow your tiles to dry for 24 hours, and then fill the spaces between each tile, using grout and a grout float tool. Pushing the grout deep into the joints will prevent moisture from getting behind the tiles, which is particularly important in kitchen areas.

“Once finished, wipe down your tiles with a clean, damp sponge, working at a 45-degree angle down your surface.”

And that’s it! Leave everything to properly dry, then show off your handy work to all your friends and family.

revamp tiling tile splashsbacks

Before you start any work on your home, if you wished to discuss the potential value that you can add, contact your local office for a no obligation market appraisal.

https://www.mccarthyholden.co.uk/branches/

Ghoulish Halloween Gardens!

Getting in the Halloween spirit? Hannah Stephenson reveals some of the 'foul and creepy' specimens that could be lurking in your hedges and borders...

halloween garden design plants

Mischievous trick-or-treaters dressed as ghosts and ghouls may be on the prowl on your doorstep this Halloween – but step into your garden and you might find some spooky spikes, noxious nasties and creepy creepers lurking in your borders.

Some plants can sting, burn, cut or emit an acrid, foul-smelling odour. Others have sinister-sounding names or connections with witches or the devil, while there are some which are said to help ward off evil.

Get yourself into the mood for Halloween with this guide to horticultural horrors…

1. Eye-poppers

When you see the spooky white berries with a single black spot emerging from red stems, you can understand why this sinister-looking plant is nicknamed the Doll’s Eye (Actaea pachypoda). All parts of this herbaceous perennial are poisonous and when ingested can cause hallucinations.

halloween garden plants design

2. Strangling suspects

Also known as strangleweed, devil’s guts, witches shoelaces and devil’s ringlet, but better known as dodder (Cuscuta), this pernicious relative of bindweed twines itself round a host plant and inserts itself into the host’s vascular system – sucking out everything it needs to live and killing its plant victim in the process.

halloween garden plants design

3. Prickly subjects

Among the most prickly of plants is the hawthorn. As a thorny hedge, it will stab its thorns into your fingers, even when you’re wearing the toughest gloves, and mature plants will even pierce the soles of gardening shoes – although on the plus side, a hawthorn hedge can also deter even the most persistent burglar.

Other prickly candidates include creeping juniper, common holly, firethorn (pyracantha), juniper and purple berberis.

halloween garden plants design

4. Toxic terrors

Aconitum, also known as monkshood or wolfsbane, is among the most toxic of plants, with ingestion of even a small amount causing severe stomach upsets. But it also slows the heart rate, which can prove fatal.

You don’t just have to eat it to suffer the symptoms. The poison can be absorbed through the skin, via open wounds, and there have even been reports of people feeling unwell after smelling the flowers.

halloween garden plants design

5. Foul smelling specimens

Then there are the plants which literally smell like rotten corpses. The stinking iris, Iris foetidissima, for example, absolutely reeks. If you can stand the smell, or remain downwind from it, this bulb puts on a spectacular display in autumn and winter, when its gigantic seed pods burst open to reveal brilliant orange and sometimes red seeds.

halloween garden plants design

6. Acrid arums

The titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum), also known as the ‘corpse flower’ as it smells like decomposed bodies when in flower, is nevertheless beautiful, growing up to 3m tall, its gigantic crimson flower spanning 3m, and is a great magnet for pollinating insects.

This acrid arum prefers the rainforests of Sumatra as its natural habitat, although you can admire it in the exotic sections of botanical gardens such as the Eden Project in Cornwall and at Kew, where it’s currently flowering.

Others in the bad smells league include Eucomis bicolor, the pineapple lily, and the dead horse arum (Helicodiceros muscivorus), named for obvious reasons.

7. Ghostly apparitions

The ghost plant (Monotropa uniflora), an eerie white specimen found in shady woods is a rare sight.

It has no chlorophyll, the chemical that allows plants to absorb energy from the sun and typically gives plants their green colour. In fact, the ghost plant is a parasite which sucks on fungi connected to a host plant, which is usually a nearby tree. The fungi acts as the middleman for the nutrients provided by the tree.

halloween garden plants design

8. Bizarre bulbs

While many bulbs bring heady fragrance, including the sweetly-scented hyacinth, others have pretty horrible odours, including the imposing crown imperial (Fritillaria imperialis). But don’t let the smell put you off too much, because its impressive orange flowers make more of a statement than its whiffy pong.

halloween garden plants design

9. Poisonous potions

No Halloween would be complete without its share of witches, whose potions have been linked with some of our most common plants. Hemlock, for instance, is highly poisonous and closely linked with witchcraft. It doesn’t look significantly different from the hedge parsley or cow parsley which grows along roads, ditches, trails, or the edges of fields.

Its white flowerheads resemble those of parsnips, carrots or angelica, while the bright green leaves are deeply-cut, even feathery and delicate. Yet all plant parts are poisonous, with the seeds containing the highest concentration of poison, causing toxic reactions.

Deadly nightshade (Belladonna), another common plant often found in hedgerows, was one of the main ingredients in witches’ brews during the Middle Ages, while blackthorn is often referred to as a witch’s tree. As late as the 1940s, anyone seen to carry a blackthorn walking stick was suspected of being a witch.

halloween garden plants design

10. Warding off evil

Plants including rowan (Sorbus aucuparia), hazelnut (Corylus avellane) and elderberry (Sambucus nigra) were once thought to be ‘magical’ trees and shrubs, which could ward off witches and evil spirits.

Ancient Celts believed rowan berries gave good health, and that if you planted them near grave sites, they would help the dead sleep.

People would use branches as dowsing rods and make crosses of rowan twigs to protect themselves on Halloween, while in old Europe, householders would put elderberry branches above their doorways to protect their homes from malevolent spirits. Strands of hazelnuts, worn or kept in the home ,were said to bring good luck.

halloween garden plants design

Bargain buys for big impact

Show your space some decor TLC with this season's bargain buys. Gabrielle Fagan reveals her top finds.

supermarket chic small budget interior

Great style doesn’t have to be super-expensive. After all, it’s those fabulous finishing touches that really give a room personality and make it special.

There’s a brilliant array of affordable homeware available on the high street right now, and you could even load up your trolley with on-trend accessories while doing your supermarket shop. Asda’s George Home range and the Sainsbury’s Home collection are both rightly renowned for their fashionable, purse-friendly items.

Whether you want to transform a living room or just a corner, or beautify a bedroom – take your pick from these brilliant buys to help turn rooms into stylish sanctuaries…

supermarket chic small budget interior

Show a living space some love

A pale colour palette will make a room feel more spacious. and can still feel cosy if it’s grounded by dark flooring or carpet. Curate your collection of accessories and rotate them using only a few at a time. That pared-back approach will let the details sing.

George Home’s bang-up-to date range has all the ingredients for a luxe living space. Top picks include space-saving seating, such as their Glynn 2 Seater Sofa, £350, and Knitted Pouffe, £39. Check out the range’s divine details too: We love the Copper-Toned Glass Terrarium Lantern, £20, Pink and Grey Chunky Throw, £18, and Cushions, from £6 each.

DECOR TIP: A relaxed setting should never be cluttered. If you can’t fit in bulky storage, use baskets and boxes. Paint surrounding walls the same shade as fitted cupboards, so they recede and don’t dominate a room.

supermarket chic small budget interior

Create a chic corner

Deep blues not only make a room feel calm and peaceful but will also add depth and drama. Create your own intimate space by switching light cottons for velvet and faux fur, to conjure a cosseting, cocooning effect. Add a comfy chair (refurb an old one with a throw) and treat yourself to a new lamp, which has the power to transform a space – then sit back and snuggle.

DECOR TIP: This season’s all about natural materials and textures – wool, mohair and cashmere feel gorgeously snug and improve with age. And don’t forget to ‘green it up’ with house plants, real or faux.

supermarket chic small budget interior

Dream up a beautiful boudoir

Warm shades, such as terracotta, burnt orange and mustard yellows, mimic the richness of autumn landscapes and are the perfect, easy-on-the-eye palette for bedrooms.

Opt for a pale, neutral backdrop and floor, and darken the mood, for a sleep-inducing atmosphere, by wallpapering the wall behind the bed. Up the style stakes by layering the bed with throws, and accessorise with cushions in harmonising colours. For luscious lustre, add copper lights, vases or photo frames.

DECOR TIP: Adding pops of pattern will add interest to a scheme. Embrace a modern retro-feel with geometric designs, keep it classic with a chevron pattern in monochrome, or keep it simple with a touch of a stripe or spots.

Small Trees for Small Gardens

As gardens become smaller, trim trees can be just the ticket, says Hannah Stephenson. Small trees are in high demand, with suppliers increasing production in compact varieties - including crab apples, which bear beautiful spring flowers, and Vossii laburnums, with their upright forms and disease-resistant characteristics.

best trees for small garden

Trees provide structure, screening and shade, as well as colour which continues through the season, creating a sense of enclosure, their height drawing the eye up and out and helping link land with sky – and if you choose wisely, there’s no reason why having a dinky outdoor space should stop you introducing them.

Your tree needs to earn its space in a small garden, so look for one with year-round interest: A tree that blossoms for a week in spring but then looks ordinary for the rest of the year really won’t do.

In really tight spaces, you may be better off with a trimmed and trained plant, either in the ground or in a container, while carefully shaped topiary can also create an eye-catching focal point.

Here are five good examples to consider…

best trees for small garden

1. Amelanchier

Amelanchiers have featured heavily in garden shows in the past couple of years, as designers have displayed their value as choice trees for confined spaces.

Amelanchier lamarckii (10m x 12m), the snowy Mespilus, is often grown as a multi-stemmed showstopper but can also be trained as a light standard. Starry white flowers cover its branches in spring, at the same time as its bronze foliage is opening, while in autumn the small leaves often turn to fiery red and yellow.

They do best in acid soils, so plant them in ericaceous compost. These tall, slender shrubby trees make great subtle screening.

best trees for small garden

2. Flowering dogwood

Flowering dogwoods are long-season stalwarts, their star-shaped blooms appearing in late spring, followed by fantastic leaf colours of reds and oranges in autumn, and strawberry-like fruits which persist into winter.

Good varieties include Cornus kousa (7m x 5m), which bears spreading branches smothered in creamy white blossom in early summer and deep-pink bracts in late spring and orange leaves in autumn, and Cornus mas (5m x 5m), the Cornelian cherry, a small spreading variety which comes into its own in winter when clusters of yellow flowers smother the bare branches.

best trees for small garden

3. Laburnum x watereri ‘Vossii’

These elegant small trees, which produce long chains of brilliant yellow flowers in May and June, are perfect for training over an arch or pergola when branches are young and pliable.

Gardeners can remove the poisonous seedpods to help improve flowering next year. Just be aware that all parts of the plant are very poisonous, so this is not a child-friendly choice.

They’ll grow to around 8m x 8m and can tolerate poor and shallow soil. Laburnum can also be grown in large tubs, forced early into flower. Arguably the best for this is L. anagyroides var. alschingeri.

4. Crab apple (malus)

Flowering crab apples produce a double whammy of eye-catching blossoms in spring, followed by attractive fruits in autumn.

A good variety is ‘Evereste’ (8m x 8m, but slow-growing), which bears a puff of white and pink fragrant flowers in spring which are a magnet to bees, followed by orange-yellow fruits which can be made into jam.

The slow-growing Japanese crab, Malus Floribunda, is also less vigorous, its horizontal branches covered in crimson buds in the spring, which open to blush-pink and white scented blooms. The advantage of malus is that you can control their size and shape, like a fruiting apple.

best trees for small garden

5. Acer palmatum (Japanese maple)

These stunning stars of the show grow equally well in pots, if you only have a courtyard space and need to keep their size in check, or in the ground to create colour and add structure to a scene.

Mix a combination in different pots to create a range of stunning contrasting autumn colours, including Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’, which bears rich red-purple foliage from spring to autumn, Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’, whose leaves open orange-yellow in spring, and Acer palmatum var. dissectum, whose finely cut mid-green leaves turn golden in autumn.

Plant them in full sun and try to avoid really exposed areas, where their delicate foliage may be damaged by icy winds. If you’re planting them in a container, use compost consisting equal parts of John Innes No. 2 potting compost and a soil-less multipurpose, with plenty of drainage in the base.

best trees for small garden

Your garden adds value both your property and your lifestyle. To check you are maximising the financial potential with your garden, contact you local branch for an up to date valuation: https://www.mccarthyholden.co.uk/branches/

Spiced Honey Is The Dulux Colour Of The Year For 2019 – Here’s How To Use It

Whether spread across rooms or dipped into on borders and accents, Marianne Shillingford talks to Gabrielle Fagan about Dulux's sweet new hue.

delux spiced honey paint of the year

A sweet, new look is coming to our homes thanks to Dulux, who’ve revealed Spiced Honey as its Colour of the Year for 2019.

An earthy, caramel hue, according to the experts at the paint brand, it’s versatile enough to introduce into a wide range of home interiors – because it can be “calming and nourishing” or “stimulating and energising”, depending on the palettes and light surrounding it.

“Spiced Honey is a warm caramel with notes of amber, that perfectly reflects our new sense of optimism and resilience for 2019,” says Marianne Shillingford, Dulux’s UK creative director.

“While 2018 was seen as unsettled and unpredictable and saw us retreating and hiding behind our sofas, next year is one where we’re ready to ‘let in the light’,” she adds.

Here, Shillingford shares her guide to using the colour to create successful settings…

delux spiced honey paint of the year

What is Spiced Honey?

“Spiced Honey has a raw, natural quality that works like a warm neutral, which makes it so adaptable to pairing with different materials and styles of decoration,” she enthuses.

“It looks especially good when teamed with whites and off-whites in furniture and furnishings, which gives it a contemporary feel.”

What can it do for rooms?

“Its rich caramel tones visually turn up the thermostat a few degrees, and so it’s perfect for creating a relaxed, cosy atmosphere in places where we like to think, dream, love and act,” Shillingford notes. “Its the colour of warm woods, and while there’s something reassuringly familiar about it, which may pay a nod to Seventies retro, this is a new colour with a fresh, modern spin.

“Paired with off-whites and a dollop of deepest inky Cobalt Night, Spiced Honey offers a room a fresh contemporary bite, but introduce soft warm greys and muted pinks like Angora Blanket and Soft Stone, and you achieve a look that is as sweet and delicious as honey on hot buttered toast.”

DECOR TIP: For a sophisticated living area, use the shade as a backdrop and add touches of soft pink, intense burgundy and sophisticated deep blue. Polished woods, mid-century furniture, graphic rugs and textiles will emphasis will enhance this look.

 

delux spiced honey paint of the year

How can this shade be used in rooms?

“It’s a colour that’s happy to play the supporting role rather than being a full immersion shade on all the walls, but it could be a wrap-around colour in a small room where you want an intimate atmosphere.

“Otherwise, feature it in bands and blocks, as well as on interior woodwork or for painted furniture,” Shillingford adds. “Be guided by when you most use a room, as well as the light levels it enjoys. If it’s mostly used during the day and there’s little light, its bronze tones will be more pronounced and it will be more dominating.

“If, however, your room is north-facing with large windows and ample light, you could decorate a larger area. Light has such a lovely effect on this shade – which is in fact predominantly yellow in its make-up, so in full sunshine it has an invigorating, uplifting feel. As the light fades and it’s seen in lamplight, it takes on a gorgeous cocooning, soothing, almost textile finish. “

DECOR TIP: For an energising atmosphere, partner Spiced Honey with richly pigmented shades, including deep forest green, bold teal and intense terracotta red. With wooden furniture and botanical prints, the effect will be a cosy but lively space.

Where could you use it?

“I’m loving the idea of using this colour on a ceiling, possibly in my bedroom. It’s such a liberating way of decorating because the ceiling is the most uninterrupted space in a room,” says Shillingford. “Focusing the colour overhead allows you to be much more more creative with walls, so you can hang more art and other decoration. Interior designers are starting to call the ceiling the fifth wall!”

DECOR TIP: To create a serene space, pair the shade with romantic powder pinks and blues. Plain pale woods, simple hand-thrown vessels and pretty fabrics will add to the contemplative, centred feel.

delux spiced honey paint of the year

What other ways are there to feature the shade?

“Think of this Spiced Honey as flavour for a room. There’s no need to overdose on it, just as you wouldn’t if it was a spice in cooking. It works equally well in small doses. Using it that way is the ideal starting point if you want to experiment and see if it’s to your taste,” suggests Shillingford.

“Paint a shelf, create a painted border around a door frame, or feature it as a low band of colour at dado height on a wall to ground a space. Alternatively, pick up on it with accessories.”

DECOR TIP: Be playful with Spiced Honey and enliven it with pops of vivid red and green among pale pinks, blues and crisp greys and whites. Partner with reclaimed, personalised furniture and bold graphic shapes for an on-trend eclectic look.

Kevin McCloud: 5 Of The Easiest Ways To Make Your Home More Eco-friendly

Kevin McCloud: 5 Of The Easiest Ways To Make Your Home More Eco-friendly

Kevin McCloud eco friendly property tips

By Abi Jackson, Press Association

Want to up ramp up those green efforts? Grand Designs’ Kevin McCloud tells Abi Jackson his top tips.

Trying to be a little more planet-friendly? Like most things in life, it starts at home – but knowing where to start or whether your efforts are worthwhile, can be tricky.

“It’s easy to think of being planet-friendly as something we can buy, which often just adds to the problems of environmental damage,” says Grand Designs presenter and home-style guru Kevin McCloud.

“There’s no doubt that, by contrast, the correct things we should be doing are: A) changing our behaviour, which is hard; B) consuming less, which is hard to get used to; C) sharing our resources more, which is often annoying, and D) thinking ecologically about our wider environment, which is very hard.

Having said that, there are some accessible ways of making our homes more environmentally responsible.”

Wondering what those are? Here, McCloud shares five “easy” ways to make our homes more eco-friendly…

Kevin McCloud eco friendly property tips
  1. Rely less on central heating

“Start with the simple things, like turning the thermostat down to 18 or19 degrees rather than 21, putting on an extra pullover instead, makinga hot water bottle at bedtime, and buying some slippers.”

  1. Go for straightforward insulation methods first

“We could all probably insulate our attics more, draught-proof our windows and doors, and maybe fit secondary or double glazing. Insulation may not seem sexy, but it’s much cheaper and delivers quicker cash and energy savings than solar panels or a heat-exchanging thermo-dynamic hybrid heat pump with go-faster stripes,” says McCloud. “Men, I’m afraid, tend to be seduced more by kit than reason. If you find yourself using the word ‘tech’, be wary – my bitter experience is that the more complicated you make your home, the more there is to go wrong.

“Make sure your home is fully insulated with good airtightness and simple ventilation systems. It’s called a fabric-first approach. Only then should you consider the bolt-on technology.”

Kevin McCloud eco friendly property tips grey decor parquet floor
  1. Check out new glazing technologies

“New glazing technologies fascinate me,” says McCloud, “because the windows in our homes are effectively holes through which heat pours. Metal coatings on glass and vacuum-extracted systems, like Pilkington’s Spacia, deliver excellent performance – I’m trialling them to see how they perform over time.”

  1. Be mindful of where things come from and how they’re made

“When I buy free-range tomatoes or FairTrade toothpaste at the supermarket, the product is usually accompanied by a little story and some pictures of the people that made it. Lovely. That makes me feel good and I’m comforted by the legitimacy of the endorsement of the Soil Association, or whichever. Knowing where your meat comes from, who grew it, and its full ‘chain of custody’ weirdly seems to improve the flavour too – so I’m a champion of authenticity and the true narrative of things, because it connects the people who make things to the people that consume them, and seems to damage the planet and all its species a little less along the way,” says McCloud – and he extends the same principles to items he buys for his home.

“Britain is still the largest importer of illegal (illegally felled that is) timber and timber products in Europe, which is shocking. I wrote my book, The Principles Of Home, to partly address all this; it’s shameful that when you or I buy a sofa, some curtain fabric, a pair of jeans or a dining table, there is virtually zero information about the welfare conditions in the factory where it’s from, the chemicals used in manufacture, or the damage wreaked on the environment in its making.

I’ve now started asking retailers for the full story of what they sell, and I suggest you do the same every time you buy something.”

  1. Tap up the experts

“If you’re designing a house from scratch, talk to an architect who’ll understand designing for orientation, passive solar gain, maximum winter sunlight, shading and minimum summer overheating. You can design in thermal mass with heavy concrete floors or earth walls, humidify and cool the airflow through the house with a buried air-duct or a pond outside a window, allow hot air to be purged through a skylight at the top of the house and allow for some cooling cross-ventilation. There. Easy. So speak to an architect.”

Kevin McCloud eco friendly property tips

Kevin McCloud will be appearing at Grand Designs Live at The NEC, Birmingham, from October 10-14, 2018. To claim your free pair of weekday tickets, visit granddesignslive.com and use code PRESSASSOC. Offer live from September 25 until October 5. T&Cs apply. For details, see granddesignslive.com/whats-on/1228-t-c-s

To discus the impact any of these or other improvements may have on your property value, please call your local office – details can be found here https://www.mccarthyholden.co.uk/branches/

3 Stylish Home Decor Trends For Autumn – And Maximalism Is Officially Back

Designers have revealed their new decor schemes for autumn and winter. Gabrielle Fagan selects her three favourites.

Autumn is the time of year when nature changes it’s colours, and thanks to the new home collections, it’s easy to ring the changes indoors too.

Choose from sumptuous florals, a cool Nordic theme that celebrates easy, stylish comfort, or full-fat maximalism, with its emphasis on luxury and individuality.

Be inspired – whether it’s a total revamp or just a refresh with a few new accessories – so that your rooms are fashionably kitted out for the seasons to come…

Make magic with moody blooms

property interior

“Escape the everyday and saturate your home with glorious jewel tones this autumn. There are so many ways to use them – in Oriental, deco, and bold floral prints – I love that it all feels a bit fantasy,” enthuses Lois Vincent, home designer at House of Fraser.

“You can up the glamour quota by mixing in a few gilded accessories; after all, who doesn’t need a flamingo candlestick in their life?”

DECOR TIP: Rich plum and berry shades are the perfect autumnal palette for a cosy feel. If you don’t want to go full-on floral, choose dusky pink and warm neutrals for a backdrop and then layer up with petal-rich accessories, from throws to bed linen.

property interior

Conjure calm chic spaces.

“Simple, minimal and layered – soft crafted neutrals and materials are set against stripped back rustic woods for this calm, tranquil look,” says Karen Thomas, head of design for Home at Marks & Spencer.

“This palette of ‘Calming Neutrals’ is inspired by the change in seasons, and evokes a restful and relaxing feel for the home. As we move into autumn, we celebrate the urge to nest and stay indoors.

“Layer soft knits and textures for a casual lived-in feel, and use clean lines and smooth surfaces of cool marble and craft glazes to accessorise your living space.”

DECOR TIP: If you’re reworking your entire living space, keep to a palette of pale grey, wood and white for walls, floor and furniture. Declutter to create a pared-back base, and if you want to warm the scheme, add accents of yellow or green in accessories or plants.

Decorate to the max.

“We expect maximalism to be one of the breakthrough looks for autumn and winter, and we’re already seeing people investing in bold, bright pieces for their homes,” says Fionnuala Johnston, senior designer at John Lewis.

“Maximalism is not necessarily about overcrowding a space, but choosing to be bold by showcasing your own unique style in a creative way.

“Carefully considered mixing and matching of colours, prints and textures is key to achieving the look, and it’s the perfect opportunity to layer designs and blend references.

“A good example would be combining a contemporary drinks trolley with tropical, vintage wallpaper, for a refined glamour that celebrates old and new style.”

Designer Abigail Ahern has embraced the luxe look and made it her own, with her richly designed animal-inspired Edition homeware for Debenhams. Our favourites include the Lizard Cushion, £45; Table Light, £80; Bison Planter, £14; Highland Cow Wall Art, £35; Lantern, £24, and Honeycomb Sideboard £760 (range available from late September).

DECOR TIP: Floor-to-ceiling curtains and reflective surfaces, such as mirrored glass and metalllics, contribute to the luxe look and create an atmosphere of elegance. A successful home will reflect your personality and taste and contain pieces that make you smile – don’t be afraid to experiment.

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Alternatively, if the thought of redecorating is not appealing then why not start a property search for the idea home.

GIOVANNA FLETCHER: ‘How I Created a Nursery for Baby Number Three’

The author, blogger and wife of musician Tom Fletcher shows Gabrielle Fagan how she put together a ‘rocking’ nursery for their new son, Max Mario.

nursery, decoration, Giovanna-fletcher, interior design

“Welcome to the world, Max Mario Fletcher,” Giovanna Fletcher proudly declared on Twitter, celebrating the birth of her third baby this August.

Now, she’s delightedly showing off the beautiful nursery she’s created for him in the home she shares with musician husband, Tom – of McFly and McBusted fame – and their other sons: Buzz, four, and two-year-old Buddy.

The bestselling novelist and podcast guru worked with online interiors specialist, Wayfair.co.uk, to revamp a bedroom and transform it into an airy, gender-neutral, tranquil space ready for the family’s newest arrival.

nursery, decoration, Giovanna-fletcher, interior design, retro-prints

“I really wanted to freshen up the space, as it’s not been redesigned since it became Buzz’s room four years ago and it looked really tired and worn,” explains Giovanna, 33. “I wanted a clean space that felt homely and calming but full of sweet details and practical, affordable picks. It was important it was gender neutral as we didn’t find out the sex before he was born.”

“The jungle-themed wallpaper is stunning and adds so much to the space, while also being neutral. I really love a statement design,” Fletcher enthuses. “We have flamingos in the downstairs loo, an intricate story-based design in the boys’ room and then full on ‘flower power’ in my office.”

“The teepee tent (Hokku Designs Play Tent, £136.99, Wayfair) is gorgeous – such a unique but affordable touch,” she adds. “I can really imagine him lying in there and taking it all in.

nursery, decoration, Giovanna-fletcher, interior design, wigwam

“There are also so many textures to explore with the cushions, throws and rugs, and the muted pastel shades help make it all look so beautiful.”

“I’m also really happy with the wardrobe and changing unit. Babies come with a lot of stuff,” says the new mum. “Being the third child, this baby is inheriting a fair few clothes, so it’s good to have somewhere to put it all.”

The Fletchers have a busy lifestyle. Giovanna writes romantic fiction and blogs about life as a mum – plus there’s the Happy Mum, Happy Baby podcast she hosts; she documented her third pregnancy throughout, sharing details with her social media fans. As well as performing and touring with his bands, guitarist and singer-songwriter Tom also writes – children’s fiction – and this year saw the couple publish Eve Of Man, the first book in a trilogy they’re co-writing.

“We moved into our house 12 years ago, when we were only 21 years old, and kept it just as it was initially,” reveals Fletcher – Tom and Giovanna were childhood sweethearts after meeting aged 13 at the Sylvia Young Theatre School, and married in 2012.

“We bought a show house, which was great for us at the time as it was hassle-free and looked stunning,” she recalls. “But as time went on, we realised it didn’t really show off our personalities or interests.

nursery, decoration, Giovanna-fletcher, interior design, nursing chair

“About two years ago, we decided to make some upgrades – the house is now a collection of the things we love.” There’s a music room for Tom, 33, and one end of their spacious lounge converts into a cinema space.

“Having children also forced us to look at our home differently. Before we became parents, we did a first aid course which led us to an extensive ‘risk assessment’ in the house. It completely freaked us out, and made us view everything as a potential threat,” Fletcher adds, laughing.

“So glass went, any sharp corners were frowned upon, stair gates went in and locks were fitted on locks!”

nursery, decoration, Giovanna-fletcher, interior design, storage

She feels that since the redecoration, they’ve been able to have more fun with their space.

“Growing up, I can remember being told off about doing anything that might damage the carpet, sofas or breakables. Our boys still have to be careful, of course, but I’d say our style has become more family-friendly,” Fletcher reflects. “Children take over and there’s not a single room that doesn’t contain some sort of child-related item! But I like rooms to reflect some personality, while being inviting and cosy.

“Our home’s colourful, warm, inviting, cosy, inspiring and calming, depending on where you are in it. It’s also practical. I’m not one for useless faff.”

Print marketing, they say it’s all over

Discover the beauty and benefits of quality print

When it comes to print marketing, some say it’s all over but we challenge that view and back up our view with investment in print marketing and tangible evidence of results.

In this digital age it is very easy to dismiss the power of quality print marketing, and when it comes to the thousands of pounds we spend on producing the lifestyle and property magazine In The Country and Town the doubts sown by the digital age ring loudly in our corporate ears.

The summer edition of lifestyle and property magazine In The Country and Town is out now, thanks to greta print services from IC Printing and photography work from John Joe. Right now the magazine is being read by thousands of people, including house buyers, search agents and tenants from as far afield as London to Bejing.

This quality magazine is showcasing wonderful content from stunning properties, to celebrity chefs and motoring features, great interior design, market insight, politics and gardening. So, does it work?

At McCarthy Holden we distribute thousands of copies of each issue by Royal Mail and many more by our own direct distribution. Looking back on previous issues we can fine many examples of properties which were sold directly from this magazine, despite these properties already being on the open market on property portals such as Rightmove. So yes this old fashioned print marketing can work and in many cases outperformed the digital property portals such as Rightmove.

Take a look at some examples.

farm sold

The house above sold as a result of the successful buyer picking up a copy of the magazine in a railway carriage travelling from Waterloo to Fleet.

country house photo
Finchampstead Ridges, Berkshire

The country house above sold when Royal Mail delivered the magazine and the successful buyer, who wasn’t on Rightmove or registered with an agent to move, simply saw the advert and was inspired to move.

Why Does Print Work In This Case?

“Quality print in books and magazine are something we are all attracted to, because people appreciate good design and beauty and I’m not at all surprised by the fact that printed books are on the rise again against the digital versions. People like to hold a book or magazine.” says marketing director Samantha Holden.

‘In this case the carefully targetted Royal Mail delivery is a big factor in the success rate, getting us to buyers who haven’t yet thought about moving. We already have the digital buyers from the online property portals, but we want to find and motivate buyers who aren’t yet in the market place. In The Country and Town does this brilliantly” she concludes.

Quality magazine print marketing can outperform the digital world of Rigtmove or similar property portals, so for those who think print marketing is dead, a reassuring word to say that quality print magazine marketing is working well.

The Opportunity for house sellers to appear in this magazine, without obligation or cost unless we sell or let the property, is a big appeal.

The real story of this successful magazine is that it brings new buyers to the market, many of whom are not actively in the market looking around agents or property portals, hence the reason we tag the magazine name with ‘Creating the inspiration to move.’

One McCarthy Holden client took the time to write in and pen the following commendation about their experience of the In The Country and Town magazine.

‘A brief note of thanks for selling our lovely house in Odiham. The full page advert in your property magazine was excellent and certainly did the trick, outperforming internet giants such as Rightmove and Primelocation. Congratulations on producing such a professional and succinct magazine as “In the Country and Town”. The photography and video work was of exceptional quality, which has also provided a lasting memory of a property we were really fond of. We did appreciate very much your extensive experience coupled with your negotiating prowess, which held the deal together from the outset through to completion. All the very best for much deserved success in the future. Sue Easton- Jones – West Meon.

The property we sold for these clients at the time is shown below.

So in summary, if you are thinking of selling or renting a fine home then don’t just focus on digital marketing but in addition think about the role of quality print. Fortunately at McCarthy Holden we are leaders in digital and video marketing as well as professional print.

Cont act your nearest branch for a free no obligation valuation.

country house
Odiham, Hampshire
magazine photos

The A-Z of Home Renovation

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THE A-Z OF HOME RENOVATION

Thinking about embarking on a ‘project’? Claire Spreadbury reveals everything you need to know.

A new beginning: Starting a building project feels exciting. You’re creating a new section of your home, designed uniquely for you, which is pretty special.

Builders: The people who are going to take on your work need thoroughly researching. They’ll all have different work ethics, set-ups and costs. Ask around and find out if friends and family would recommend builders they used – it’s surprising how many won’t.

Contract: Once you’ve made a deal with a builder and the work’s secured, insist on a contract. This should tell you exactly what will be done when – week by week – and how much you need to pay at every stage. Remember to only pay that money when work’s completed as agreed.

Dirt: Strap in for a few months of filth. There will be dust everywhere. Some builders are better than others when it comes to protecting you from the dirt (for example, blocking off sections of the house so mess can be contained to work sites) and cleaning it up. Your grass is also likely to get filthy (and slightly ruined) if they store tools in the garden.

Extras: Beware – everything will have been priced up for you, but as the build progresses, there will be lots of additional opportunities for you to haemorrhage cash. The builders’ costs, for example, might include uber-cheap, ugly new radiators, but no doubt there’ll be an option to upgrade to much prettier ones, for a price of course.

Frayed nerves: Going through a build is incredibly stressful, and youmight well need to take on the role of project manager, which is almost impossible if you’re trying to work and sort out your family at the same time. Be prepared for difficult conversations with the builders too – if  you’re not happy with something, it won’t change unless you speak up.

Getting cash out: You might not want to do any dodgy dealing, but if you’re trying to haggle and the only way to make things more affordable is to supply a lump sum of cash, you might be tempted (though we couldn’t possibly recommend it). Getting large amounts of money out of the bank can be troublesome. You may have your account blocked and be treated like a total criminal, just to warn you.

Holidays: A holiday feels so good in the midst of a build, but be warned – there might be a little less activity going on when you’re not around. Builders often work on several jobs at the same time, so if someone else is around and shouting louder, people may get moved off your project onto theirs.

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Itemisation: When the builder gives you your contract, go through it with a fine-tooth comb to check if anything’s missing. If you’re ordering a new kitchen or bathroom, check the itemised list. You may have spent days in the shop talking through it all and working out what you want with the supplier, but that doesn’t mean they won’t incorrectly order something.

Jargon: There will be lots of things you won’t know the names of. When builders, plumbers or electricians litter their updates with words you don’t understand, ask what they mean.

Keys: Your builders are likely to need their own set of keys, so be prepared to get a set cut, and to trust them in your home. Otherwise you’ll need to remain in the house the whole time, and might just drive yourself insane.

Lost stuff: Anything you leave on site is likely to end up in a skip if it’s not needed, and things like light fittings or thermostats – that are fixed to a wall that are being knocked down or worked on – can easily get mislaid.

Mess: Strap yourself in for a messy few months. You’ll have stuff on top of stuff, on top of stuff. It’s a nightmare.

Never-ending: The builders might tell you eight weeks, you’ll estimate 12, but when they’re still at it during week 14, you might feel like you want to explode. Building work takes an awfully long time.

Open plan: This is the look so many of us are trying to achieve. Open plan living’s what modern life is all about, a real home hub where everyone can be together, perfect for families and entertaining. Just beware, there are fewer places to hide mess so think about storage, and if you have a TV in your open space, that’s going to take over, so you might need some screen rules.

Portaloo: They’re not pretty but if having a portaloo stops dusty builders traipsing up your stairs to use your bathroom, you want to have one installed. Check if it’s included as standard in your job price.

Queen-size tantrums and emotions: Nothing can really prepare you for the stress building work puts on your life. If you have other stressful elements to worry about too, prepare yourself for a tough few months. You’ll be snappy, ratty, emotional and generally quite unpleasant whenever you’re inside the house.

Real-life blur: Once you’re a good six weeks into a build, something happens to your brain. You’re no longer able to retain any additional information that isn’t written down, and have to take each and every day as it comes. Planning ahead can no longer happen.

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Skips: When you’re having building work done, a skip is one of the first arrivals. Don’t get too excited about using it to chuck out some big old bits of rubbish you’ve been hoarding for the last 17 years, though. Generally, builders might let you pop in the odd thing, but if you take advantage, they’ll charge you for the cost of the skip – which is hundreds. Prepare yourself for scavengers too; scrap metal dealers will come and rummage at all hours, and some have better manners than others. Same goes for neighbours looking for matching bricks and tiles, and complete randoms hoping for treasure.

Timings: We all know a builder’s schedule is unlikely to go completely to plan. Be prepared for timings to be, let’s say, flexible. It’s slow work – but worth the wait.

Under the ground: You might have to wave goodbye to bits of your garden or a beloved rose bush when it’s dig up to provide the soak away. The tunnels and pipes are often necessary for plumbing work, but rest assured, the garden will grow back (minus the rose bush).

Various people: Building firms use different people for different types of work, so you could see a lot of different faces over the course of the work. It’s a good idea to try and get to know them all though, as you’ll feel easier about being in the house with them.

Wall cracks: When you knock down walls and do extensions, you put the rest of the house under severe pressure. Supports will be put in place to ensure it’s safe but you will discover lots of brand new cracks, around windows, across corners and over ceilings. This can be alarming but it happens. Wait for the house to settle (usually at least six months is advised), then fill in the cracks and redecorate.

X-rated language: It’s not sweary builders you need to worry about, but your own language. Another side-effect of stress, it’s likely your swear count will rise dramatically. Stay calm by organising time away from the house, relaxing exercise classes like yoga or meditation, and mindfulness apps.

Yes please: Remember everything you say ‘yes’ to could cost you money. Some builders are more upfront about it than others. So if you’re asked if you’d like something a bit different, be sure to check whether it’s included in the price.

Zoo-like behaviour: Most reputable firms will use good staff, but there’s always the odd one – possibly the labourer doing all the horrible jobs – who might not be quite as tidy and polite as you might like. Be sure to give them mugs you’re happy to throw away for their cuppas, prepare for mud getting everywhere and cover up any areas – like stair carpets and hallway – with sticky, plastic coverings. You’ll really appreciate it come the end of the build.

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Before you start building works of a significant expense, why not speak to your local branch of McCarthy Holden who will be able to guide you in potential before and after values. For your local branch information:  

https://www.mccarthyholden.co.uk/branches/

How To Turn Up The Heat With The Tropical Homes Trend

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For a different house interior design, birds, wildlife and foliage all star in the latest decor must-haves. Gabrielle Fagan reveals how to style them up.

Hot weather may make you yearn to escape to a tropical paradise but if that’s beyond the budget, you can easily create your own exotic sanctuary.

Combine vibrant shades and bold palm prints with a sprinkling of tropical touches – it’s one of the easiest ways turn up the style dial in your interior, and add a little sizzle to your space.

So, put away your passport and pick one of these sun-kissed looks…

Wing it with tropical birds

“Exotic birds – parrots, flamingos and toucans – are winging their way into our homes, as they’re the perfect way to introduce the colour we’re craving, to give rooms a punchy personality,” says Nadia McCowan Hill, style advisor for online interiors specialist, Wayfair. “Why not flirt with this feathered trend with bold bed linen, cushions, wall art or some eye-catching glassware?

“Alternatively, give an unloved space (such as your downstairs loo or the inside of a cupboard) a quirky makeover, with a striking splash of flamingo or parrot-decorated wallpaper, ” she suggests.

Walk on the wild side with animal prints

“Opting for safari-themed homeware is another sure-fire way to make your interiors grrrr-eat!” says McCowan Hill.

“As well as walking on the wild side with animal images and faux heads, add some bold contrast with bold zebra stripes for a pouffe or chair, and dress a floor with fur print rugs.”

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Pick a leafy pattern

“Lush leafy patterns are another easy way to bring this hot summer look home, because palms are evocative of far-away destinations,” notes McCowan Hill.

“For a fresh take on this summer favourite, choose a classic print with a tropical twist, and accessorise around it. That way, you can ramp up the effect to suit your taste. Metallic touches will add a hint of luxury, which will contrast well with a pared-back setting.”

If you really want to create a sultry atmosphere, wall specialists Pixers has a fab Art Illustration With Palm Tree Doodle mural, £301 (though prices start from £29), which would have real impact on a feature wall in a living area.

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By Gabrielle Fagan, Press Association

At Home With L’homme: 3 decor themes for style-conscious chaps

ideal houses for sale for men

Man caves have come a very long way. Gabrielle Fagan reveals the trends to tap into now.

The days of men taking a backseat when it comes to decorating are long gone. In fact, they’re now well and truly in the driving seat when it comes to their own homes, and often still ensuring their taste is reflected in shared spaces.

They’re design-literate, and just as keen to show off their branded homeware as they are the designer contents of their wardrobes, and their desire for relaxing, practical spaces is in step with the whole trend for functional homes, where character and personality shine through.

So call it what you will – man cave, bachelor pad, or boy base – there’s no excuse for that men’s room not looking stylish any more, with an array of cool kit and furnishings now designed with men in mind. Here are three style personality types, and inspiration for getting the look…

houses for sale ideal for males

Mr Cool & Contemporary
Less is more for this man and he demands high design and quality for everything, from the contents of his wardrobe, to his car and his decor.

Measured and analytical, he’ll put endless research into sourcing furnishings and furniture that’s just right, and regard them as investments which will turn his home into a space worth bragging about.

“Masculine-inspired design is all about sleek, subtle sophistication,” says Sivan Metzer, furniture buyer, Heal’s. “To get the look, opt for a careful combination of clean lines and sturdy materials in a neutral colour scheme, for a masculine effect that’s as elegant as it is functional. Strengthen this streamlined aesthetic, created by simple, straight lines, by accentuating the rich pigmented tones of polished oak, with details like bright brass or copper finishes.”

She recommends deep grey for a room’s base colour, to conjure a “an easy-on-the-eye look that will maintain its appeal over time. Statement leather furnishings introduce moody characteristics with strong, masculine undertones into a space,” Metzer adds.

Boy zone
This guy wants his home to be on-trend but fun and functional, so that it’s an easy-to-maintain and airy space, where he can chill out and entertain. He’s a playful lively character, happy to have affordable humorous touches that can be easily changed as fashions change and will sit alongside his collection of boys’ toys and comic book heroes.

Unfussy, uncluttered – he knows good storage can hide a multitude of mess – he’ll love multi-functional furniture (a coffee table that converts to a dining table) so that he can make the best use of every inch of space.

“It’s all about shining a light on a man cave and letting the style in,” says Rebecca Snowden, interior style advisor, Furniture Choice. “Whether you live alone or are sharing your space, there are easy ways to add masculine touches to your home. Start by displaying your interests – a solid, well-made picture frame can do wonders for comic book prints, movie posters, a football team photo, and then group a collection for a personal wall display.

“Colour is another way to express yourself,” Snowden adds. “The colour-shy could opt for easy, interesting neutrals – grey, khaki and sage – which are great alternatives to black and white. For the bold, subtle pops of bright shades, such as navy blue, mustard, and even a flash of vibrant pink will add a fresh twist to your scheme.

“If you’re new to decorating, don’t worry about trends. Stripes, chevrons and other geometric prints never go out of style, and materials like leather and suede are classic choices.” A Newark Teal Fabric 2 Seater Sofa, currently reduced to £399.99 from £599.99, Furniture Choice, would inject a splash of colour into a room.

property for sale suited to men

Retro man
He’s part of the retro-revolution celebrating those iconic items from the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies, and displaying them in a funky, industrial setting. He’s laid-back like his style, and knows that the coolest homes should feel ‘collected’ as opposed to ‘decorated’.

Warm, weathered and raw elements like dark woods, coupled with renovated machinery and pieces crafted with care, make for a macho-look that oozes character and is constantly evolving. He’ll definitely opt for vinyl over downloads, and vintage over contemporary.

“Men have never been as savvy about design and interiors as they are today. The huge growth of Pinterest and Instagram has brought interior design to the masses and interiors inspiration is everywhere,” says David Harris, design director, Andrew Martin.

“Funky neon artwork, modern art wallpapers, architectural lighting ranges, and great furniture covered in rich velvet and leathers is all helping to attract a more masculine following. Men are now feeling more confident than ever about their interior ideas and want to show off their taste.”

Tiles, Laminate or Luxury Vinyl For Kitchen Flooring?

In need of a new kitchen floor, but unsure what material to opt for? There are lots of options, but a few important things to consider too. “Fitting out a kitchen is very exciting, but often you forget to think about the flooring, which is likely to be one of the largest surfaces in the room, so its selection deserves careful attention,” says Jordan Reuben, from Canadian reality series, The Property Brothers.

First and foremost, there’s your budget to consider, but keep in mind that it’s not necessarily just a question of how much the floor will initially cost to buy and fit – some types of flooring will require more specialist cleaning, for example, or may be prone to damage and wear and tear, meaning further costs down the line to replace or repair. Your choice will need to be a practical fit with your lifestyle too and, of course, you need to like it!

As Sian O’Neill, head of marketing at Topps Tiles (toppstiles.co.uk), notes: “As the hub of the home, kitchen design is of the utmost importance to homeowners, so it’s important to select flooring that is not only beautiful and hard-wearing but will stand the test of time.” Here’s a look at three key options…

1. Tiles

“Tiles are an excellent choice, as they are durable, design-led and able to stand up to the demanding conditions of kitchen spaces, with high traffic, potential spills and food mess,” says O’Neill. “Natural stone tiles provide a cosy and timeless look, especially for those living in an old country-style house. It’s worth keeping in mind that due to their porous surfaces, these types of tiles will need additional care before and after laying, to ensure they are sealed enough to last in humid areas, and to keep their finish in top condition. As long as you’re happy to maintain and look after them correctly, then the final result is luxurious and homely.” Reuben adds: “Stone flooring is available in a wide range of colours, sizes and textures, but you must ensure the stone is sealed to keep it in top condition. Remember, limestone is porous, so it will naturally suffer wear and tear. If you’re looking for a hard-wearing and totally hassle-free option, porcelain tiles are great. It can be made to replicate the look of wood or concrete. The tiles are often highly durable and fit well in a high-traffic environment.”

If you’re lusting over a gorgeous slate or marble floor – but your budget doesn’t stretch to the real thing, there are lots of lookalike tiles out there. “If natural stone isn’t the right fit for your home, there are plenty of additional options that offer the same aesthetic, but without the associated maintenance. Consider stone-effect tiles as these are waterproof, which means they’re easier to maintain and, thanks to modern technology, can now be made to look identical to the real thing,” says O’Neill. Wood-effect tiles can also offer a far cheaper alternative to real wood flooring (easier to lay and clean, too).

2. Laminate

Want the look of real wooden boards, but that’s not a realistic option budget-wise? There’s good reason why laminate flooring is a trend that’s stuck around. “Laminate wood floor is as popular as ever,” says Reuben. “It’s very modern and looks fantastic. As long as the product is factory sealed, those wine stains will just wipe away.” Josh Ashby, of UK Flooring Direct (ukflooringdirect.co.uk), adds: “Good quality laminates make a great floor for the kitchen, allowing for that authentic wood look without the drawbacks. Easy to install and maintain, homeowners can enjoy an affordable, stylish floor that will stand the test of time. More and more are now water resistant, adding to their appeal, and are suitable with underfloor heating.” Reuben notes that long laminate boards “can make any room feel bigger, whether it be dark or light flooring”, plus, “laminate is supplied in planks that are generally easy to fit, even for the novice!”

3. Luxury vinyl

“Modern vinyl is becoming increasingly popular as a cost-effective option to tiles and laminate. It comes in all different patterns, and good-quality vinyl can be very hard-wearing,” says Reuben. Sophie Hautekeete, of Quick-Step (quick-step.co.uk), agrees: “Luxury vinyl is undoubtedly the floor of the moment, offering that perfect blend of good looks, durability and ease of maintenance. Our vinyl planks have an embossed surface, which means the texture on the top surface matches the design, to create fantastic interpretations of the real floor it imitates.” A big part of the appeal is the scope of designs available. “Cushion, or sheet vinyl, has enjoyed a significant rise in popularity over the past five years, as modern methods of construction mean that wood and tile-effect designs look and feel like the real thing, with knots and grouts adding texture and interest,” says Stuart Reeves, Avenue Floors (avenuefloors.co.uk). “Design choice is almost unlimited, which means this type is often the go-to kitchen floor for those looking for performance, style and value.”

Tired Of Grey Skies? Here’s How To Give Your Rooms 6 Shots Of Sunshine

If you’re longing for sunny days but the weather’s not cooperating, you could change the climate indoors by embracing a sunshine colour palette.

Adding splashes of yellow to your decor with a lick of paint, a feature wall in a zingy paper or some vibrant accessories, will give it an instant lift.

Pick a shade you like, whether it’s canary, daffodil, buttery or a mellow golden hue, and then sit back and bask in the glow (no sun protection required).

1. Turn the tables on the weather

Yellow’s sunny properties make it ideal for a kitchen or dining room. Lift the spirits with a bright tablecloth or, if you’re up for some spring DIY, paint kitchen chairs in a bright yellow shade, or add a citrussy splash back.

2. Colour up with yellow

If you’re nervous of yellow (for some people, it can fall into the Marmite category) simply add pops of the colour in accessories, from tableware to lights.

3. Wake up a window

Guarantee a sunny outlook by dressing a window with bright yellow shutters, a blind or curtains. This colour is the ultimate mood booster – with a mellow undertone, it’s cheerful without being too in-your-face, or in its boldest form, it gives rooms confidence and  freshness.

4. Sit in the sunshine

No need to wait for summer blooms – take a shortcut with Joules’ Cambridge collection from DFS. Teamed together, yellow and neutral tones are in natural harmony. Calming greys or whites tone down the strength of yellow and, in return, the uplifting, sunny shade gives a scheme a personality and strength. Keep an eye out for DFS’s funky Tide sofa, in yellow velvet graffiti, too – available early June.

5. Warm up the walls 

If you’ve fallen in love with a yellow palette, create a feature wall with a patterned wallpaper. Alternatively, use the shade for paintwork – doors, windows and skirting – this is particularly effective when contrasted with a dark shade for walls, and will really make a scheme sing.

6. Brighten a bedroom

Turn up the heat in the boudoir with a shot of yellow for bedding, and if you’re yearning for tropical climes, conjure a far-flung sanctuary vibe with vividly patterned bedlinen. Add a few faux palms and some rattan furniture, and all you’ll be lacking are cooling sea breezes.