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/

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.”

How To Turn Up The Heat With The Tropical Homes Trend

interior design photo

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.”

interior design photo

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.

interior design photo

By Gabrielle Fagan, Press Association