Banana, Tahini and White Chocolate Muffin Recipe

banan muffin recipe

Muffins are great to whip up at the weekend - so you can make your way through them in the week.

banan muffin recipe

Elly McCausland says her recipe using banana, tahini, cardamom and white chocolate, results in a “highly addictive sweet-savoury combination” and is also an “excellent way to use up overripe bananas – the blacker the better”.

Banana, tahini and white chocolate muffin recipe

Ingredients

(Makes 12)

For the muffins:

200g plain flour

1tsp baking powder

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

Seeds from 8 cardamom pods, finely ground

1/4tsp sea salt flakes

100g white chocolate chips (or 1cm pieces of white chocolate)

3 large bananas, mashed

70g light brown soft sugar

1 egg

50g butter, melted and cooled

1tsp vanilla extract

60g tahini

For the tahini glaze:

2tbsp tahini

100g icing sugar

1tsp lemon juice

1tbsp sesame seeds (a mixture of black and white looks nice)

banan muffin recipe

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6. Line a 12-hole muffin tray with paper cases (or grease thoroughly with some extra butter if you don’t have paper cases).

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, then stir in the cardamom and salt. Stir in the white chocolate.

3. In a separate bowl, mash together the bananas, sugar, egg, melted butter, vanilla and tahini.

4. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry, being careful not to over-mix – this is the key to a light muffin. Divide between the 12 cases and bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes, until they spring back when pressed lightly with a finger.

5. Transfer the muffins in their cases to a wire rack to cool.

6. Make the glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, icing sugar, lemon juice and two tablespoons of water. When the muffins are cool, spoon the glaze over the top. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and leave for an hour or so for the glaze to set before eating (if you can wait!).

The Botanical Kitchen by Elly McCausland, photography by Polly Webster, is published by Bloomsbury Absolute, priced £26. Available now.

banan muffin recipe

7 Top Tips for Setting up a Home Office

setting up a home office

Suddenly joined the home worker crew? Here's how to get your new workspace set up, says Luke Rix-Standing.

Once the preserve of reclusive novelists, working from home has suddenly gone from occasional to near-universal.

Recent years had already seen a shift towards more remote and flexible working, to be fair – but the coronavirus pandemic has forced countless businesses to set up shop at home.

If you’re totally new to home working, chances are it’s a steep learning curve. Here’s how to stop grieving over the office coffee machine, and make your home workspace feel as productive and positive as possible…

setting up a home office

1. Banish the bedroom

It’s tempting to start working from the comfiest spot in the house – your bed! But this possibly isn’t the healthiest idea.

Conventional commuting marks a clear divide between work and home, and it’s important for both your lifestyle and sanity that the distinction in some way continues. Not everyone has a choice of course, but if it’s remotely possible, do not work where you sleep.

2. Let there be light

Natural light inherently increases your energy, positivity and creativity, and is an essential tool in the battle against cabin fever. Try to position your desk near a window, and experiment with your computer placement so that you aren’t dazzled by screen glare at certain times of day.

Once the natural light fades, keep your workspace illuminated with well-positioned lamps, that will keep the room feeling fresh whatever the time of day. Just imagine having to spend your office hours cooped up in a poky, dimly-lit basement. Horrible.

setting up a home office

3. The personal touch

If you’re used to an office and enjoy heading out to work, working from home can be an irritation – but it’s also a chance to assert creative control. Productivity permitting, you can listen to music, wear whatever uniform you please, and design a workspace that works just for you.

You could opt for the classic family photo on your desk, or (if you’re seeing enough of them at the moment!) a novelty calendar, colourful print, or attractive timepiece. Your desk likely claims the lion’s share of your day, so don’t worry about looting other rooms to make it feel right. All those things Karen the office manager said you weren’t allowed in the real office – now is their time to shine.

setting up a home office

4. Go for green

Whether it’s an open-plan office block or your own front room, workplace wellbeing still matters. It’s been proven time and again that even low-level exposure to greenery provides a mental boost, and you might really be missing your outdoor foliage fix right now.

From spiky little cacti to large-leafed philodendrons, there’s plenty of plants that can spruce up your desk. A trip to the local garden centre is probably off the table for a while but there are lots of options for buying online and having nature delivered direct to your door.

setting up a home office

5. Cut the clutter

Tempted to stock your new home desk to within an inch of its life? Colour-coded binders, a symmetrical splay of pencil pots, a year’s supply of post-its, paperclips and Pritt Sticks, and your favourite coffee mug precariously squeezed in by your keyboard…

Everything runs like clockwork – until you have to takes notes or a phone call, and you find you’re balancing your notepad on your knee. Keep clutter to a minimum and go for ‘less is more’ to keep it calm and functional.

setting up a home office

6. Invest in your chair

Your constant companion as you go about your day, an ergonomically sound chair is among the most important ingredients in any effective workspace – including when you’re at home.

Posture and comfort are important and hunching over your desk for hours on end is a fast-track to back and neck pain. Even for the most tight-fisted part of payroll, this is not the place to scrimp.

setting up a home office

7. Optimise your setup

However, even the best chair in the world won’t save your spine if your tech isn’t set up properly. Remember that the top of your computer screen should be roughly level with your eye-line. If your desk is too short, or your screen too small, use a box or stack of books to lift your machine to the right height, and use a separate keyboard for a laptop so you’re not gazing downwards all day.

Every home worker runs the risk of claustrophobia, so retaining a little floor space to pace or stretch could be godsend by the end of a long week. Finally, the one thing your office is useless without – connectivity. If there are any known WiFi blind spots in your home, avoid them like the plague.

How to Grow Flowers that are Ideal for Cutting

These are the best blooms for cutting so you can enjoy them outdoors and in, as florist Arthur Parkinson tells Hannah Stephenson.

If you love flowers both outside and in, now is a perfect time to start growing blooms in your garden that you can cut for DIY bouquets later on.

You can dig out old seed packets or buy new ones from mail order suppliers such as Suttons.co.uk and mr-fothergills.co.uk, which have seen huge increases in sales.

Keen to get started? Here, gardener and florist Arthur Parkinson shares some top tips on growing the most colourful, eye-catching flowers, which will offer masses of interest whether you leave them outdoors or cut them for your home…

Dahlias

There’s still plenty of time to pot up dahlia tubers. They need to start off undercover and be kept frost-free, so plant them either in a greenhouse or on large windowsills.

For small numbers, plant the tubers up individually into two or three-litre pots using peat-free multipurpose compost. The tuber only needs to be a few inches below the surface of the pot’s compost.

If the compost is moist to the touch then you will not need to water the tubers until they send up their first few shoots, as this will be enough to stir them into growth. Overwatering growing dahlias can cause them to rot.

If you really want to go to town with dahlias, the quickest way to pot lots of them up is to crate plant them. Plastic crates can be lined with old, pierced compost bags and into each six tubers can be planted together.

Once they are large and growing well, you can take each plant from the crate like slices of cake and transplant them into large containers or out into the garden.

Hardy annuals

You can sow hardy annuals now, these include calendulas, cornflowers and borage. It is too early to sow most fast half hardy annuals such as cosmos, as it is better to sow these from mid-April.

If you are growing on a windowsill then keep your seedlings cool and put them outside on mild days to prevent them getting leggy, bringing them inside at night until they begin to grow their adult leaves.

Sweet peas

Pinch out sweet peas if you sowed them over the winter. Once they look strong with several pairs of leaves, pinch out the growing tip with your thumb and forefinger. This encourages the seedlings to grow sideshoots that will flower well.

If you haven’t sown sweet peas yet you still can sow them. Those that are seedlings now will be ready shortly to be planted out in their final positions. Dig in as much well-rotted manure that you can, as sweet peas are very hungry plants.

Staking

The mild winter is seeing the sap quickly rise in many trees. Now is the time, if you haven’t already, to secure a source of hazel and silver birch for pea sticks and poles if you can.

Birch is often found to have self-seeded itself along roads in urban places, so you may spot it on your one walk a day. However, you could also use the prunings from apple trees, or paint old bamboo canes a good deep green or even a Moroccan blue to add to a display of dahlias.

Alternatively, use mail order willow sticks that are dried and preserved, so that they can’t root but look very nice in the garden. Hessian pea and bean netting can be draped over canes for sweet peas too.

Mulch

Feed your borders and beds with a good two-inch mulch using homemade compost. This will feed the soil for the season ahead. Online suppliers are still delivering although garden centres are closed.

Dahlias, cosmos and sunflowers will grow well on soil that is enriched. Don’t dig it into your soil but spread it thickly and let the worms do the work for you.

12 Fun Ways to Set the Scene for Easter

enjoy easter at home

Gatherings may be off the cards but you can still have fun with the decos. Hop to it, says Sam Wylie-Harris.

Easter egg hunts may be confined to the living room and garden this year, and your family gathering might take place over Skype – but that doesn’t mean you can’t set the scene with some bright and cheery decos if you want to.

This could even be a fun DIY project with the kids (although grown-ups are allowed to get stuck in with the crafts too!). Raid your arts supplies box and get creative.

If you are hoping to buy something to set the scene for Easter, there are lots of options – although many stores are temporarily closed and operating online only and supermarket sweeps aren’t as easy as usual, so choose carefully.

But a sweet bunny or two, and some egg-sellent spring decos could help bring some extra fun and cheer to your Easter celebrations…

enjoy easter at home

1. Twig Easter Wreath With Gold Eggs, £17.50, The Contemporary Home

A gesture of goodwill, this stylish wreath will brighten up your front door. Alternatively, it can be placed over a mantelpiece and teamed with other gold decos, or hung on the wall.

enjoy easter at home

2. Sophie Conran for Portmeirion Colour Pop collection, from £6.83 (was £10.50) for a Sunshine Egg Cup & Spoon to £46.80 (was £72) for Set of 4 Coupe Plates, Portmeirion.co.uk

The prettiest pastels will not only sit beautifully with all your Easter Sunday treats, but these sorbet shades will look fab when the time eventually comes (hurrah!) for summer barbecues and picnics in the garden.

enjoy easter at home

3. Sainsbury’s Home Egg Cup & Toast Plate Set, £8, available from selected larger Sainsbury’s stores

Those Easter morning runny eggs and soldiers will look and taste even yummier served up on this cute set.

enjoy easter at home

4. Easter Table Centrepiece With Candle, £30 (Rabbit Plate sold separately), Ella James

This stylish centrepiece would look great placed on the dining table or coffee table. You could also build the twigs and feathers up with real chocolate eggs, and bookmark it with a couple of vases of spring flowers or jugs of fresh daffodils for the finishing touch.

enjoy easter at home

5. Sainsbury’s Home 4pk Paint Your Own Egg, £4, available from selected larger Sainsbury’s stores

When it comes to keeping the kids entertained, every little bit helps – and these sweet ‘paint your own’ eggs could keep them busy for at least an hour or so. You might want to pick up an extra pack for yourself!

enjoy easter at home

6. Licette Rabbit House Cushion, £20 (was £40), Beaumonde

With her cute red bow and the sweetest whiskers, this adorable bunny makes you want to reach out, stroke her and feed her some blades of grass. And best of all, she’s happy to flop on the sofa.

enjoy easter at home

7. John Lewis & Partners Easter Bunny Ear Napkin Rings – Set of 4, £12 (no longer available online but similar products still on sale), other items from a selection, John Lewis

Eye-catching spring lilac and blues collide beautifully in this Easter table setting from John Lewis. Some items have sold out online but there are other designs to explore. We love the dreamy feel, which is easy to recreate too – just don’t forget the hot-cross buns.

enjoy easter at home

8. Bunny Candle Holder Votives – Set of 3, £24, Beaumonde

The days are longer again now, but a sweet collection of tea lights always adds a special touch. These rabbit candle holders come with a a seasonal Easter message on the back.

enjoy easter at home

9. Easter Flower Fairies, £12, Ella James

If you fancy a winged fairy rather than a freshly hatched chick, this darling duo will feel right at home. Once Easter’s over they can live in the kids’ rooms.

enjoy easter at home

10. Country Folk Glass Easter Egg Decorations – Set of Three, £11.50, The Contemporary Home

Take a colourful ribbon and string these painted glass eggs on indoor palms, across the mantelpiece, or hang from a curtain rail. They’d also look lovely simply placed in a bowl as a centre piece.

enjoy easter at home

11. Argos Home Inflatable 153cm Tree, £45, Inflatable 154cm Totem Pole (other items from a selection), Argos

Lots of fun and a little bit kitsch, if you’re feeling young at heart these inflatable decos are worth hunting down.

enjoy easter at home

12. Easter Green Moss Bunny, £8, Paperchase

No lawn? No bother – this ‘moss’ bunny will feel just at home sitting on a window sill, basking in the sunshine. We think he’d look great on the bookshelf all year round, too.

McCarthy Holden and COVID-19

Covid response

Our response

As with most of the world at the moment, I think everyone at McCarthy Holden are still in shock at what our lives, both personal and business, have become in a very short space of time.

We are hopeful, we are determined, we are anxious, we are planning, we are cleaning, we are keeping busy and we are trying to proceed with everyone’s best interests in mind.

Our responsibility

McCarthy Holden has a responsibility and duty of care to our staff, our clients and our communities. 

This news page outlines some important information about how we will conduct ourselves when visiting a clients home, through to providing insight into how we will progress house sales and manage the hundreds of properties we manage for landlords. As information is coming through daily this will be updated as soon as possible.

Some of us at McCarthy Holden are those at greater risk so have already started working from home – you may notice a smaller number of people in the office, but this is to protect those that need it most. All the decisions that are being made and have been made are guided by Public Health England and we have closely aligned ourselves with the latest government advice and guidance.

With regards to our clients, their health and property, we are continuing as normal at the moment with viewings, negotiations and sales progression, and we are currently very busy. We do expect things will need to change so Skype valuations and viewings are being set up to allow everyone to continue to use our services as best possible. We are also looking at Live chat and Skype consultations with our negotiators or with our sales progressors so communication can be open at all times.

Our request

With anyone who is coming into contact with McCarthy Holden employees – viewers, valuations, office visits – we ask that if you are showing any of the symptoms or are residing with anyone who is self-isolating to please let us know so we can minimise risk.

Whilst we are, as always, delighted to see people, please don’t be offended that we won’t be shaking hands and will be keeping a safe distance. In some cases we may not be able to offer drinks or refreshments as we would normally, but instead we will offer you hand sanitiser and facilities to wash your hands during our time together.

We are also aware that vendors and landlords are worried about even the smallest risk of virus transmission, so when we meet buyers or tenants for viewings we will be providing latex gloves so that things like door knobs, stairs and kitchen equipment are not touched with bare hands. Alcohol wipes and hand sanitisers will be used both in homes and in offices regularly.

Our reply

We will beat this with the rest of the UK by following the governments advice. We will work with everyone to ensure minimum risk. We will help in our communities whenever and wherever possible.

Our future

In the coming weeks, we will be looking to minimise the risk to employees further. Initially this will be through reduced hours or shift rotas and ultimately may need to have all staff working from home in the coming weeks, possibly sooner depending on government directive. That does not mean we are not available to continue our work and we are set up with all communications and technology to continue doing what we do best.

Meanwhile, business is operating as usual and we remain committed to the well-being of our staff and customers at this difficult time. 

We wish everyone a safe time over the coming days,weeks or even months, take care of each other and we hope everyone will be back on track and feeling safe before too long.

Samantha Holden

10 MOTHER’S DAY GIFTS FOR HOME COMFORT QUEENS

home comforts mothers day presents

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

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

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

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

home comforts mothers day presents

1. Pick up on petal power

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

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

home comforts mothers day presents

2. Serve up a teatime treat

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

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

home comforts mothers day presents

3. Get the drinks in

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

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

home comforts mothers day presents

4. Bring her sunshine

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

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

home comforts mothers day presents

5. Let her grow

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

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

home comforts mothers day presents

6. Splash out

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

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

home comforts mothers day presents

7. Bring on the glamour

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

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

home comforts mothers day presents

8. Create a sultry sanctuary

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

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

home comforts mothers day presents

9. Boost her wellbeing

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

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

home comforts mothers day presents

10. Bring on the blues

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

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

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

how to get a calmer home

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

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

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

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

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

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

how to get a calmer home

1. Study the space

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

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

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

how to get a calmer home

2. Follow the three-colour rule

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

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

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

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

how to get a calmer home

3. Introduce more nature

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

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

how to get a calmer home

4. Lift items off the floor

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

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

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

how to get a calmer home

5. Use rounded shapes

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

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

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

how to get a calmer home

6. Designate a clutter drawer

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

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

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

how to get a calmer home

7. Create a multi-sensory home

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

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

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

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

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

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

yellow decor for spring

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

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

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

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

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

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

yellow decor for spring

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

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

yellow decor for spring

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

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

yellow decor for spring

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

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

yellow decor for spring

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

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

yellow decor for spring

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

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

yellow decor for spring

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

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

yellow decor for spring

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

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

yellow decor for spring

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

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

yellow decor for spring

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

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

yellow decor for spring

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

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

Renting your Home to Holidaymakers – Here’s what you Need to Know

rent your holidayhome

Lots of people now rent out their own properties to make extra cash while they're away. Lisa Salmon finds out more

Many of us would love to make a bit of extra cash – but could you be sitting on an easy money-making opportunity right now? We’re talking about your own home.

Renting out your home, or just a room, can earn you anything from about £15 a night to more than £4,000 a month, depending on its size, location and facilities, and whether you’re just renting out a room or the whole property – and you don’t have to be a second-home-owner to do it. A number of people now rent out their homes while they’re away on holiday themselves, or rent out a room to travellers while they’re still there.

rent your holidayhome

Your home doesn’t need to be in a typical tourist destination to be worth renting either: holiday rental companies like HomeAway.co.uk and Airbnb.co.uk point out that people may need somewhere to stay because of a family event nearby for example, or if they have business in a particular area and don’t want/can’t find a room in a hotel.

“Owning a property, whether a secondary home or the home you live in, is an opportunity to tap into an additional income channel,” says Karen Mullins, HomeAway regional director UK & Ireland. “Property owners are in an ideal position to make financial gains through short-term rentals. If you ensure you’re compliant with local laws and regulations, it’s a great opportunity to earn additional income to assist in paying off the mortgage, making home improvements, funding the children’s education or even funding your own holidays.”

Here, Mullins and Jeroen Merchiers, Airbnb’s Europe, Middle East and Africa regional director, answer some of the questions homeowners may have about offering some or all of their property as a holiday rental…

rent your holidayhome

1. Does location matter – what if you don’t live in a tourist destination?

Mullins says: “If you’re the legal owner of the property, you’re able to rent it out to holidaymakers – even if it’s outside of popular tourist destinations. Holiday rentals provide holidaymakers with the opportunity to experience destinations and neighbourhoods they want to visit no matter what the occasion, for instance a family visit or a family event.

“If you’re near local amenities, either walking distance or a short drive, make it clear on your property page. Whether that’s local shops, restaurants, pubs or attractions, this will be very attractive to families who want to stay within the area. There are also families who are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of reality and enjoy the peace and quiet of a secluded area.”

Merchiers adds: “Guests booking on Airbnb are discovering more than the traditional tourist areas, thanks to locals opening up their homes and unique spaces, allowing people to travel in previously undiscovered areas.”

rent your holidayhome

2. What facilities do you need to offer?

Hosts should check everyday appliances in the property – like the fridge, oven, microwave and kettle – are in good working order, clean and ready for use. Ensure there’s hot and cold running water, and provide basics like tea, coffee, sugar and store cupboard supplies, advises Mullins. She also suggests hosts should also consider leaving washing-up liquid, dishwasher tablets and toilet roll.

It’s also worth providing a welcome pack, including information like where to find extra towels, bedding and kitchen utensils, etc. “A welcome pack gives your home a personal touch,” says Mullins.

Impress guests further by including home comforts like TV subscriptions, and it won’t hurt to offer little extras like toys for kids, treats for pets, or a welcome gift for grown-ups like a bottle of wine. “You’ll make your guests’ stay extra-special and inspire them to leave a positive review,” Mullins points out.

“And make sure you have Wi-Fi – children, teenagers and parents will want to know they’re connected. And for parents, that could mean total sanity, relaxation and peace.”

In addition, Merchiers suggests hosts provide safety essentials such as a fire extinguisher, smoke alarm, first aid kit and a carbon-monoxide detector, as well as fundamental amenities. “These are the items guests tell us they consider important for a comfortable and safe stay,” he says.

rent your holidayhome

3. How much money can you make?

Airbnb and HomeAway hosts set their own prices. Airbnb charge 3% commission, plus guests pay a service fee of up to 13% on top of their booking total. HomeAway charge 5% if hosts choose their pay-per-booking option, plus a 3% payment processing fee.

To help decide what price to set, hosts can search for comparable listings in their area, or use tools such as HomeAway’s online calculator (homeaway.co.uk/lyp), or Airbnb’s online calculator (airbnb.co.uk/host/homes) to help determine the going rate.

HomeAway data shows average nightly rates for full holiday home rental in the UK, for example, range from around £84-£500, and nightly rates for a private room rented through Airbnb range from around £15-£30.

rent your holidayhome

4. What time period can you rent a room/house out for?

“Hosts manage their own calendar so they can host at times convenient to them,” explains Merchiers. “Some hosts list their space when they go on holiday, some when their children fly the nest, some ahead of major events in their area, and some for a little extra income.”

rent your holidayhome

5. How do you protect valuable possessions in your home?

There are several options for how to store your valuables if you’re renting your home while you’re away, says Mullins, such as a lockable pantry, bedroom or cupboard.

“If you don’t want to do that, store them with family members close by or trustworthy neighbours,” she suggests. “Renting your house or flat while you’re away also helps to make the property less of a target for burglars, because your home isn’t empty for days or even weeks.”

6. What safeguards are there?

Before you rent your property to holidaymakers, make sure it’s not in breach of your lease or mortgage agreement. Airbnb and HomeAway provide hosts with up to $1 million USD (approx £768,000) of property damage protection and third party insurance to cover stays reserved through them.

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

Angel Strawbridge decorate your home

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

Angel Strawbridge decorate your home

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

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

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

Angel Strawbridge decorate your home

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

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

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

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

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

Angel Strawbridge decorate your home

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

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

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

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

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

Angel Strawbridge decorate your home

What does the chateau mean to you?

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

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

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

How would you describe your style?

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

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

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

Angel Strawbridge decorate your home

Where do you get your inspiration?

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

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

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

What’s your colour palette?

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

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

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

Angel Strawbridge decorate your home

Do you and Dick agree on all the decor decisions?

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

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

Angel Strawbridge decorate your home

How do you feel about this time in your life?

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

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

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

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

Angel Strawbridge decorate your home

What’s your ambition for the future?

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

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

8 Ways to Create a Happier and Healthier Home

create a happier and healthier home

Healthy home, healthy life!

In the great pantheon of wellness trends, the home is strangely neglected. There are diet crazes and fitness hacks aplenty – but outside the occasional tidying fad, the home is merely a vessel, a framework in which other lifestyle regimes take centre stage.

Given that we often spend more time at home than anywhere else, this might be a little unfair.

Wellness, like most things, begins at home, after all. Here’s how to make sure that’s a good thing…

create a happier and healthier home

1. House plants

You don’t need actual woodland for forest bathing, not when there are snake plants, peace lilies and aloe veras to turn your home into a mini-greenhouse. Study after study has shown that exposure to greenery reduces stress, helps lower blood pressure and stimulates the senses.

So shrub up to calm down – from a simple cactus on the window sill, to a miniature jungle of domestic palms and pines.

create a happier and healthier home

2. Maximise natural light

Like plants, natural light is inherently invigorating and reinforces the circadian rhythms that impact our mood and sleep cycles. Just think of the hefty price hike tagged to south-facing homes, the all-glass exteriors of modern office blocks – or the sinister, claustrophobic feel of a dimly-lit basement.

Aside from the obvious (open your curtains), make sure there’s no furniture blocking your windows’ line of sight, using off-white or cream colour schemes to cultivate a lighter feel, and putting up strategically placed mirrors to send light bouncing round the room.

create a happier and healthier home

3. Declutter

They say cleanliness is next to godliness, and, though we’re not suggesting a full-scale Kondo-esque purge, a clear environment can be an aid to a clear mind. Your home is supposed to be where you recharge, and if you’re never able to find things, pressured by a pile of unopened mail, or in fear of accidentally standing on your laptop, it may be a source of stress in itself.

Time to put your ‘floor-drobe’ back into the wardrobe, and we don’t mean by just shoving it all under the bed.

create a happier and healthier home

4. Address your sleep

Poor sleep pas been linked with everything from low mood and fatigue, to shortened life expectancy in the longer term, so creating a conducive sleep environment is an essential step for a healthy home.

Make sure summer nights aren’t cut short by leaky curtains (invest in blackout linings if required), use ear plugs to cut out street noise, and dust the area around your bed. If you always sleep better in hotels, there may be a problem with your bedding, and low-quality mattresses can cause stiffness and back pain as well as disturbed sleep. It’s easy to undervalue sleep but the more priority you give to time spent in slumber, the more productive and energised you’ll be during the day.

create a happier and healthier home

5. Invest in an air purifier

Once derided as noisy and unsightly, thanks mostly to a particularly pointed episode of Friends, demand for purifiers is now rising steadily year on year and modern models are sleek, stylish and near-silent.

Exhaust fumes, chimney smoke and particulate emissions are just another part of urban life, and purifiers are here to help.

create a happier and healthier home

6. Create a designated work space

Some 1.54 million Brits now work from home in their primary occupation (millions more do so intermittently), and it’s wise to resist the temptation to work at the kitchen table in your pyjamas.

It’s hard to maintain a work-life balance when they operate in the same space, so dedicate a work area that allows you to ‘go to work’ in the morning and leave at the end of the day. Posture is paramount, so invest in an ergonomic chair as a minimum. You might even consider the benefits of a standing desk.

create a happier and healthier home

7. Get a pet

You don’t need an ’emotional support animal’ to get emotional support from an animal, and this is another lifestyle choice with the weight of science behind it. Among a whole raft of benefits, pets have been shown to increase life expectancy, substantially slash stress, and even decrease physical pain.

We hope it goes without saying that you should only opt for an animal if you’re fully willing and able to shoulder the responsibility and costs of care.

create a happier and healthier home

8. Don’t worry, be happy

It’s easy to obsess over the ‘shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’ of your home, and end up neglecting what you actually want. Adding value to your home, tapping into fashionable aesthetics – it’s all well and good if it aligns with your tastes, but most homes must be residences first and investments second.

Home is where the heart is, and there’s no point crafting a masterpiece of modern minimalism if what you’d really like is a large, squashy sofa.

These are the Best Garden Shows and Festivals to Visit in 2020

2020 garden shows and festivals

Put a date in your diary to visit these inspiring and informative plant-filled shows and events

If you’re looking for inspiration, colour, or just a lovely day out, there are plenty of flower shows and other horticultural events to mark on your calendar this year.

Here’s a look at some of the best and brightest gardening shows and festivals on the line-up for 2020…

2020 garden shows and festivals

Daffodil delights

To mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Wordsworth, four main RHS gardens, Wisley, Rosemoor, Harlow Carr and Hyde Hall, have planted enough bulbs to make each spring garden a sight to behold.

Meanwhile, in Buckinghamshire, Cliveden is staging its daffodil spectacular The Gilded Gardens (Feb 29-May 1) for the second year.

Inspired by the 24-carat gilded golden gates on the Sounding chamber and the hundreds of thousands of daffodils across the estate, you’ll be able to see narcissi springing up throughout March and April and rolling displays of rarer, pot-grown varieties will be on show in the Ferneries. For details visit nationaltrust.org.uk.

2020 garden shows and festivals

Irish blooms

If you’re in Dublin, don’t miss Bloom (May 28-June 1), a show spanning 70 acres of Phoenix Park, with show gardens and other attractions based on other successful shows such as Chelsea and Hampton Court.

Launched in 2007 by Bord Bia (the Irish Food Board), Bloom has numerous highly creative gardens and plant displays which are used to inspire and excite the public about gardening and garden design.

The show gardens, created by some of Ireland’s top garden designers, are the heart and soul of the five-day festival which not only focuses on flowers but also on the best food Ireland has to offer. For details visit bloominthepark.com.

2020 garden shows and festivals

Scottish celebration

This year, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is celebrating its 350th birthday with a year of community celebrations. Don’t miss the exhibition Think Plastic (Jan 31-Apr 26), which brings together local artists and scientists to explore the possibilities of transferring sustainable, recyclable and environmentally-responsible plastics from the laboratory into craft and arts productions.

2020 garden shows and festivals

Garden party and giant veg

The Malvern Shows (Spring Festival, May 7-10; Autumn Show, Sep 26-27) in Worcester should be on every gardener’s calendar. The RHS Malvern Spring Festival celebrates its 35th anniversary this year with a new feature, Music At Malvern, with two spectacular evenings of performances featuring the 54-piece English Symphony Orchestra led by Lesley Garrett, performing a special VE Day commemorative concert on May 8.

The following night, Radio 2’s Jo Whiley will be hosting the Gardeners’ Party as she plays music throughout the decades, chosen by the show’s special guests. This will be along with the show’s stellar lineup of experts, including Alan Titchmarsh, Carol Klein, Joe Swift, Jonathan Moseley and the new show ambassador, Chris Beardshaw.

In the autumn show, grow-your-own fans shouldn’t miss the ever-popular popular CANNA UK National Giant Vegetables Championship, top quality plant specialists in the Floral Marquee and a throwback to Forties and Fifties Britain in the Vintage Village. For details visit rhs.org.uk.

2020 garden shows and festivals

Northern show-stopper

The Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate (Jul 14-16), an iconic three-day event and one of the biggest agricultural shows in the English calendar, features spectacular nursery displays, including several RHS Gold medal-winning exhibitors from far and wide. This year the show will be welcoming back floral designer and celebrity florist Jonathan Moseley, who will be appearing daily on the Garden stage, creating some fantastic displays. For details visit greatyorkshireshow.co.uk.

Chelsea perfection

It’s considered the most elite gardening show on the calendar, and this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show is targeting the challenges of our changing climate. Gardens will highlight the future of cities in the face of climate emergency, while there will also be a slant on sustainable materials and growing methods adopted by the world’s leading garden designers and growers. Running from May 19-23, for details visit rhs.org.uk.

2020 garden shows and festivals

TV expert advice

BBC Gardeners’ World Live at Birmingham’s NEC (Jun 18-21) may be a more commercial show than some of its rivals, but it packs a punch with its top-notch TV gardening experts, including Monty Don and Alan Titchmarsh, who’ll be offering advice in the GW Live theatre during the show.

Visitors can admire a range of innovative show gardens and bag a bargain from the many plants and accessories outlets. Less for the specialist, more for the practical gardener, you can bag yourself some bargain plants and get advice on how to grow them too. For details visit bbcgardenersworldlive.com.

Flower power

If you want to see a riot of colour, book your ticket for the Wisley Flower Show at the RHS flagship garden (Sep 8-13), where you will see an array of spectacular blooms, feast your eyes on the National Dahlia Society Show and browse the offerings from more than 50 specialist nurseries selling a range of horticultural goodies.

Learn how to make gorgeous flower arrangements from the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies and enjoy talks and demonstrations in an Expert Zone. For details visit rhs.org.uk.

Orchid mania

Kew’s 25th annual Orchid Festival (Feb 8-Mar 8) will for the first time celebrate the incredible wildlife and vibrant culture of Indonesia – an archipelago of more than 17,504 islands, including Java, Borneo, Sulawesi, Papua and Bali. Indonesia’s landscape is as diverse as the flora and fauna that inhabit it, from tropical rainforests to spectacular volcanoes.

The festival features an immersive journey through the different zones of the glasshouse, where visitors will find spectacularly beautiful orchid displays which each represent an aspect of Indonesian wildlife and culture. For details visit kew.org.

2020 garden shows and festivals

Festival fever

The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Garden Festival (July 7-12) rebranded itself as a ‘Garden Festival’ in 2019 and remains high on the list of go-tos among gardeners for its royal setting, show gardens, floral marquees and trade stands, to buy everything from artisan goods to basic tools.

From contemporary to traditional, its show gardens will be awash with ideas on how to revitalise green spaces, while plants people, celebrities and foodies will be making guest appearances. For details visit rhs.org.uk.

Bulb bonanza

Brighten up your day with a visit to the RHS Flower Show Cardiff (Apr 17-19) to see thousands of beautiful spring bulbs. This year, the show is celebrating its 15th anniversary and to mark the occasion some 15 exhibitors that have had a presence at every show will be there.

The event will also tie in with the Visit Wales theme, the Year of Outdoors. Health and wellbeing will be much promoted at the show, displaying the benefits of of being outside and connecting with the natural world. For details visit rhs.org.uk.

10 On-Trend Ways to Transform your Home in 2020

on trend home 2020

Glamour, fun and feathers all feature in this year's hottest looks - but first and foremost, individual style rules.

If you want your interiors to look fashionable and Instagrammable, then you need to know what’s hot for the home this year.

There’s full-on colour, as well as more pared-back looks with natural materials (rattan’s ruling currently), alongside some key must-haves – love seats, dressing tables, and glamorous headboards. In other words, plenty of trends and stylish items to choose from.

But what’s emerging most strongly is that this decade, there’s no need to follow the crowd.

Trends should be followed selectively rather than religiously. A successful home is where your taste rules (we’re all becoming much more informed and confident about expressing it, thanks to inspiration-filled sites like Instagram and Pinterest).

We’ve chosen some best buys (including high-street bargains) and brilliant looks to help you create your own perfect, personally-tailored space….

on trend home 2020

1. Feel the love

We’re embracing curves and cushioning in seating, as we hanker after homes which cosset and comfort us, and the love seat has become a must-have.

“Love seats are the ultimate giant armchair for those who love to stretch out and get comfy, or if you’re feeling romantic you can snuggle up together,” says Claire Wilks, from the Sofa.com design team.

“They’re also a great space-saving size for those who are tight on room. Velvet, so practical now with protective finishes, are one of the most popular upholstery choices and they ramp up the luxe effect. “

on trend home 2020

2. Turn to table-scaping

Table-scaping is the new on-trend description for creatively decorating tables. So stand down your boring workaday china and go all out with fancy cutlery, table linen and snazzy plates. It’s all about dressing to impress. For inspiration, trying searching #tabledecor and #tablesetting on Instagram.

3. Rule with ribbing

Grooved, ribbed textures are riding high this year, and the effect can be seen in upholstery, wood, and glass. We love this stripe-effect, ribbed cabinet.

4. Explore wild style

If you’re over that hot, steamy jungle look – all palm prints and tropical colours – the latest, more pared-back desert look could be just for you.

Bold tribal prints, an earthy palette, natural materials and vibrant animal prints are combined in the new George Home collection, which is so well-priced you can afford to experiment. But beware: it could inspire some serious summer wanderlust…

on trend home 2020

6. Pamper and pose

Special stand-out pieces make a room. Think cocktail cabinets which add glamour as well as holding all those drinks and glasses. Dressing tables are now vying for attention too – there’s a brilliant array of slim, handsome examples suitable for compact rooms. And by clearing all that cosmetic clutter, you’ll be well on your way to a peaceful space.

7. Let your heart rule your head

“Just as fashion trends have shifted to celebrate individuality and personal style, so have interiors,” says Lucy St George, co-founder of uber cool interiors destination, Rockett St George.

“I’m always a fan of throwing away the rule book – taste is often overrated – and I believe if you love it and it makes you smile, then it deserves to be celebrated in your room.”

Take inspiration from trends and the world around you, she says, but always make your home a reflection of you and what you like. “Go to town with all your favourite things and curate displays around your home that express your individuality – so that ‘you do you’!”

on trend home 2020

8. Go green or go home

The colour – and its association with eco-friendly living – has been strong for a while and shows no sign of waning. A wall painted in a deep shade of green will ground a space, and other vibrant colours for furniture and accessories will ‘pop’.

John Lewis’ ‘Eclectics’ theme for spring/summer is a stylish blend of zingy colour and stand-out designs. Inject punchy shades with contemporary wall prints, jewel-colour lamps and cushions.

If you’re feeling flush, invest in an elegant Refine 3 Seater Sofa in a glowing Elegant Velvet Mustard, £1,299, and a Lounge Chair in a brilliant pink, blue and orange Ampana Print, £499, both John Lewis.

9. Go for gold

How to instantly add character to a room? A couple of stand-out pieces featuring that winning metallic shimmer should do the trick.

10. Bring Eastern drama to the boudoir

Staying home is the new going out, and JOMO (the ‘joy of missing out’) is a buzzword – which means spaces need spoiling with luxury touches and details.

“We’re predicting a rise in Eastern influences across interiors this year,” says Jane Rockett. “Inspired by increased global travel and our adventures around the world, trends are set to celebrate unique pieces collected or inspired by past travels, that bring back memories and create a unique and personal interior.”

The style-aware should look out for decadent dark wood, woven cane textures, oriental prints and structure furniture, adds Rockett.

10 Ways to use Classic Blue – Pantone’s 2020 Colour of the Year

classic blue colour of the year

Rich, deep and oh-so soothing, blues certainly won't be banished this season. Gabrielle Fagan shows how to add a splash of Classic Blue.

Big up the blues at home this year, if you want to be on trend. Pantone, the global authority on colour, has declared ‘Classic Blue’ its Colour of the Year for 2020, which it describes as a “timeless and enduring hue”, and “elegant in its simplicity”.

This bold but calming deep cobalt ushers in a fresh decade on the colour charts, and you’ll definitely be seeing it everywhere as designers and decor companies rush to get on board with blues.

It’s a complete contrast to last year’s choice – a peachy ‘Living Coral’ – but, in reaction to the turbulent times we’ve been living in, this year’s shade is apparently designed to bring “a sense of peace and tranquillity to the human spirit, offering refuge”.

Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of Pantone Color Institute, who says the shade is “suggestive of a sky at dusk”, explains: “We are living in a time that requires trust and faith.

“It is this kind of constancy and confidence that is expressed by Pantone 19-4052 Classic Blue, a solid and dependable blue hue we can always rely on.”

We’ve found 10 ways to give your home a beautiful blue injection, to take it from dull to dazzling in 2020 and beyond…

classic blue colour of the year

1. Splash out on a statement seat

“The popularity of blue is down to its versatility. Blues are easy to live with and simple to pair with other colours,” says Charlie Marshall, founder of furniture company, Loaf. “Plus they don’t really ever go out of style, unlike some bolder, fleeting of-the-moment shades.

“If you want to make a real statement, then a sofa or love seat in a blue fabric will add real wow-factor to a sitting room.”

If you’re baffled by blues and its many hues, Marshall advises checking out blue interiors on Pinterest and Instagram. “It will help inspire you and show you how the colour works,” he adds. “Experiment first, before you invest in a large item, by updating inexpensive, smaller accessories like cushions and throws, or introducing an artwork that features a blue palette.”

classic blue colour of the year

2. Take flight with blue

“Classic Blue is a strong, honest colour that gives you a feeling of being anchored when you look at it,” declares Anna Jacobs, one of many designers inspired by this year’s blue palette.

“There’s nothing frivolous about blue,” she adds. “This timeless colour will outlast through multiple trends. It also makes a fantastic base colour for many colour schemes, as it will support and enhance bright colours, while enlivening neutrals.”

classic blue colour of the year

3. Go grand with majestic blue

Bold decorative designs in rich dark blues will add a touch of grandeur that could turn your home into a little palace. “Although it may be considered a bold choice for walls, Classic Blue is surprisingly versatile,” points out Alex Whitecroft, head of design at I Want Wallpaper.

“It can be styled in many ways to achieve different looks. Deeper shades of blue can look regal, so add a splash of opulence to your living space with a quirky feature wall, such as one papered with a Rasch Portfolio Peacock Print.”

Alternatively, for a contemporary vibe, he advises geometric prints with metallic detailing.

classic blue colour of the year

4. Think blue & take two

Splashing out on the home, particularly after Christmas, may not be on the agenda – but you can easily add a fashionable dash of blue by styling up with a couple of affordable accessories.

Give a sofa a smart, new look with a cosy throw, and invest in that most useful of occasional seats – a plush pouffe.

classic blue colour of the year

5. Dream in blue

Colour blocking is another chic way to introduce Classic Blue while creating visual interest, enthuses Rebecca Snowden, interiors style adviser, Furniture Choice.

“Painting a blue band on the lower half of a wall, and having the upper half ivory or white, is super effective” she says. “Take the colour up to less than half the height of the room and paint the larger proportion in ivory or white. This will make the wall appear higher and is ideal for making smaller, low-ceiling rooms look airy and more spacious.”

Blues are perfect for rocking a coastal vibe, she points out. To channel this look, Snowden suggests pairing the shade with light wood and natural materials like rattan or jute, and completing the effect with sea-inspired artwork.

classic blue colour of the year

6. Feast on blue

A deep blue tone brings a summer vibe to any room, which is calming, relaxing and ideal for an eating area.

Combine fresh white and blue with a pared-back contemporary interior, free of clutter, and let the colour sing in the space.

classic blue colour of the year

7. Transform a tabletop

A successful table setting is one which is a visual feast for the eyes, but doesn’t compete or clash with colourful food, allowing the meal to star.

Serve up delicious shades of cool blue in tableware and contrast with a pure white tablecloth, or for a more rustic feel, display on a richly grained wooden table.

classic blue colour of the year

8. Guarantee a blue skies outlook

Add drama and luxury to a room by dressing windows with new curtains in a deep blue shade, reminiscent of velvety blue skies.

“It’s amazing how blue can transform a home, and a sophisticated, deep, dark blue for curtains and Roman blinds will not only be dramatic and striking but will ramp up a feeling of cossetting comfort,” says Susan White, group marketing director for blinds and shutters specialists, Hillarys.

Their Onyx Magma curtain and Roman blind range, in a blue-toned marble effect print, starts from £276, Hillarys.

classic blue colour of the year

9. Make an open & shut case

“Brightly coloured shutters make for a fantastic alternative to a feature wall,” says Chrissie Harper, customer experience manager at California Shutters.

“Full height or solid shutters work particularly well painted in a bold shade, instantly creating a major statement. Classic Blue is striking but not anchored to a season, so the shade will make your home feel cosy during the colder months but bright and open when days are lighter and longer,” she adds.

The company has a colour-matching service, which gives you the option to match your shutters to your wall so you can achieve an impressive all-over look for a room.

classic blue colour of the year

10. Quick step into blues

Interior designers always plan the floor before the walls, because they know the impact it can have on a space. Carpet or flooring in a deep, rich hue could lead your scheme and make your wall colour choice easy, as it should merely complement the floor.

“Carefully considered flooring is the perfect way to introduce blue in a subtle yet stylish way,” says Anna Del-Molino, buyer at Carpetright.

“Using a deep shade of blue on floors, curtains and walls adds depth and interest to a space. To keep the shade from overwhelming your room, complement with pops of softer colours, such as dusky pink, grey, or rich oranges, and reflect the light with gleaming metallics.”

7 New Homes For Sale Hartley Wintney

Hartley-Wintney-Property-For-Sale-Shapley-Grange-header-image

Shapley Grange is an exclusive development of seven 3 and 4 bedroom homes, built to a high specification by Sunningdale House Deevelopments, on a small site in a prime location less than a mile from the village of Hartley Wintney.

Hartley Wintney high street is full of individual shops, a renowned cricket green, a golf club and a lovely village pond. The thriving town of Reading is about 14 miles away, Wokingham about 11 miles and Basingstoke 10 miles. .

Great Hartley Wintney Location

For the commuter, the closest railway station are Winchfield (1 mile) and Hook (2 miles), providing travel in approximately 50 minutes to London Waterloo.

Motorway access is via the M3 at nearby Hook (j5), and the M4 at Reading (j11). Central London is about 41 miles and Heathrow Airport 32 miles.

For those seeking a quality new home in a sought after location with excellent road and rail access, Shapley Grange is a must to view.

Location-Image-Hartley-Wintney-Property-For-Sale-McCarthy-Holden

Plots two and four, are substantial detached four bedroom houses providing just over 2,100 square feet of living space. Prices start from £980,000.

On the ground floor there is a reception hall, cloakroom, a living room, separate dining room, a study, a splendid kitchen dining family room, and a utility room.

There is also a double garage.

On the first floor there is a landing, a splendid master bedroom with en-suite dressing room and an en-suite bathroom and shower, bedroom two features an en-suite. There are four bedrooms in total plus a family bathroom and two en-suites

Plots one and three, are detached four bedroom houses providing almost 1,900 square feet of living space. Prices start from £880,000.

On the ground floor there is a fine reception hall, a cloakroom, living room, study, a vast kitchen dining family room, and a utility room.

On the first floor there is a landing, a generous master bedroom with an en-suite, and there are four bedrooms in total plus a family bathroom.

Plots five, six and seven, are character terrace houses providing just around 1,000 square feet of living space. Prices start from £470,000.

On the ground floor there is a reception hall, a cloakroom, living dining room, and a splendid kitchen breakfast room.

On the first floor there is a landing, a master bedroom with en-suite dressing room. There are three bedrooms in total plus a family bathroom and an en-suite.

To arrange a site visit and view these wonderful new homes, contact our Hartley Wintney branch on 01252 842100.

Next re-open days for McCarthy Holden after Christmas are Friday 27th and Saturday 28th (both 10-2)

 

×
Find a Property