7 of the Hottest Homeware and Interior Design Trends of 2020

interior trends 2020

From gleaming metals and rich opulence, to unfussy, functional pieces, the dawn of a new decade has something for everyone, says Sam Wylie-Harris.

It may only be autumn, but interior designers are already predicting how we’re going to be dressing our homes in 2020.

So, how’s it looking? To find out, we’ve gone behind the scenes at Top Drawer, the UK’s leading design-led trade event, where Louise Healy-Adonis – trend forecaster and senior strategist at Flamingo – shares her insider insights for the coming seasons.

These items aren’t available to buy yet – but keep an eye out for designs inspired by these themes in stores and online throughout 2020.

From the finest fabrics to brilliant basics, here, Healy-Adonis reveals the key features of 2020’s hottest-tipped interior design and homeware trends, and how we can get the look…

interior trends 2020

1. Modern Relics

A contrast of delicate and strong shapes and details, with mixed textures. The idea of unearthed antiques interplays with modern materials to create future heirlooms.

“This trend sees classic shapes given a contemporary look through new digital techniques and traditional etched surfaces. Rich textures and luxe gleaming metals add sumptuous elements to rough and irregular black surfaces of unearthed pasts. Add finishing touches to the home to complement the trend such as cushions, glassware or vases,” suggests Healy-Adonis.

interior trends 2020

2. Introspection

This trend sees muted, multiple inputs from our surroundings, dialled down into introspective subdued colours and calm tonal blocking. This is not stark minimalism – think meditative and calming with multi textures.

“Soft winter pales and warm neutrals create meditative, clean palettes that are grounded in natural materials,” says Healy-Adonis. “Mixed textures and serene scenes are seen in calm tonal blocking. Colours to invest in include whites, softened teals and olives, dusky pinks and light grey.”

interior trends 2020

3. Grounded Rituals

This one’s all about a natural autumnal, earthy, tactile vibe that’s tied to nature and wellbeing. These everyday items are elevated through the craft of honest materials and the uniqueness of nature. Answering the need for quiet restorative rituals.

“This trend brings the grounding of nature into the home through raw materials and handmade pieces. One-of-a-kind products are formed in metal accents, woven textiles and tactile wood. This restrained detailing and pared-back palette will enhance the sanctuary of the home,” Healy-Adonis notes.

interior trends 2020

4. Soft Assembly

The retro modern feel combines reassuring nostalgia with playful rounded shapes and graphic prints. Imperfect outlines are key in mid-tone brights, anchored in rich navy and coffee tones.

“Irregular graphics and mid-tone brights will add the modern retro feel to the home. Look out for organic shapes with a sophisticated crafty feel. This will be seen through dining wear, throws and cushions, and decorative items,” explains Healy-Adonis.

interior trends 2020

5. Bio Flux

This trend speaks to the mix of organic and hyper-real, where natural looks sci-fi and bio-design is the future, today.

Healy-Adonis says: “This scientific and sterile trend sees a mix of organic shell-like dark tones and iridescence modernise ombre styles. The unique and free-form nature of the materials offer interesting overlays of organic colours.”

interior trends 2020

6. Sublime Opulence

Maximalism is muted with a restrained palette of deep blues and yellow golds. Plush velvets and textured metallics reference historical detailing and add a luxurious serenity.

“Tonal blues are still a key trend for 2020, moving into a more yellow tone, adding warmth, calmness yet opulence to the home,” explains Healy-Adonis. “Historical detailing stylised with modern twists including gold-edged art prints, this is a key trend which is staying around for another season.”

interior trends 2020

7. Industrial Organics

This trend speaks to the in-between space of man-made and organic, of the chunkiness of old machinery, but with the ease and simplicity needed for an uncomplicated life.

“With the focus on unfussy functional pieces, this trend includes asymmetric bold shapes contrasted with soft tones. Pale dusty pinks and mints, rust, ochre and blues are grounded by warm naturals and stark black,” suggests Healy-Adonis.

Eco-Friendly Decorating Ideas for a more Planet-Friendly Home

eco designer homes

Want your homeware and decor choices to be more sustainable? From reclaimed timber to recycled kitchen tops, Gabrielle Fagan checks out the options.

We’re all aware of the need to look after our environment – and where better to start than at home?

Luckily, more and more companies are embracing eco-friendly approaches and solutions, and designers are becoming ever-more inventive and innovative in their use of recycled materials to create desirable homeware – so you don’t have to sacrifice your style for your principles.

“Year-round, we consistently see people searching for inspiration on Pinterest to shop and live in ways more mindful of the environment,” says Enid Hwang, culture and community manager at Pinterest, who’ve seen a 108% increase in searches for sustainable lifestyle this year.

The site notes that September, when summer holidays are over, is the ‘back to life’ period – when, feeling renewed and refreshed, people look for ways to make small changes in their lives, such as recommitting to their environmental efforts.

“We’ve seen that reflected in searching for sustainable items for their homes, like recycled materials, eco paint and even bamboo bedding. Sustainable lifestyle choices are now a major theme for many Pinners,” notes Hwang.

Need some inspiration? From wallpaper and paint, to furniture and accessories – follow our guide to creating a home to match your values…

eco designer homes

Paint it green

Some house paints use casein – a protein derived from milk or beeswax as a binding agent – while others use ingredients that have been tested on animals.

Mindful of this, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex chose Auro, a non-toxic vegan paint which is also child-friendly, when they decorated baby Archie’s nursery. Auro Coloured Emulsion, from £48 for 2.5L; Wood Paint – Satin, from £16 for 375ml, AuroPaint.co.uk.

A lot of paints contain high levels of VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which emit solvents into the air that are associated with causing dizziness and headaches, and may affect those with allergies.

Crown’s Breatheasy Coloured Emulsion range is 99.9% solvent-free and certified under the asthma & allergy friendly Certification Program.

The Breatheasy range starts from £14 for 2.5L of emulsion and, a further plus, comes in containers made of 100% recycled plastic, which are fully recyclable once empty and clean.

eco designer homes

Paper and plant

The desire for wallpaper with good eco-credentials is growing, and Little Greene not only has great designs, but sources and uses paper from certificated sustainable forests.

“We manufacture our wallpapers in the UK and for every tree used four more are planted,” says Ruth Mottershead, Little Greene marketing director.

“Wallpapers are printed using non-toxic pigments and our high-quality wallpaper paste contains no solvent.”

Their London Papers V range, a collection of authentic heritage designs, starts from £73 a roll.

eco designer homes

Recipe for eco cooks

If you want to cook up a storm but reduce your carbon footprint, sustainable timber is a good choice for kitchen units, worktops and flooring.

Deforestation is a major environmental issue that’s contributing to global warming, so look for the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) ‘tick tree’ logo, which signifies it is certified timber that comes from well-managed forests and/or recycled materials.

Make sure worktops don’t let the side down. Wickes offers worktops made from recycled materials in its range of kitchens.

Details count and bamboo kitchen containers are an excellent alternative to plastic (they look lovely too). Bamboo is a highly renewable, fast-growing natural material with antibacterial, anti-fungal properties, and it’s biodegradable.

eco designer homes

Lie back and think of the planet

You’re setting the bar higher if you want a purely vegan lifestyle – but it’s perfectly possible according to Jo Peters, author of new book, Vegan Life: Cruelty-Free Food, Fashion, Beauty And Home (Summersdale, £12.99).

“Vegans prefer to avoid using materials that come from animals, which can make home furnishing seem like a challenge at first,” she acknowledges.

“But, as with stocking your fridge, once you’ve sussed out what to avoid – and found some reliable suppliers of alternatives – you’ll be able to make ethical choices in every room.”

In her handy guide, she highlights the main culprits to avoid in home furnishings: Leather (and suede), wool (and felt), silk, down, fur and cowhide. She also points out that “when choosing a new couch, remember that you’ll need to consider the padding materials as well as the cover.”

That said, it’s useful to remember that making use of pre-existing leather, wool, etc, items that are still in good condition, is generally more planet-friendly than throwing things away only to replace them with new plastic ones!

eco designer homes

Reclaim and rejoice in style

“As everybody becomes more eco-aware, the demand for sustainable furniture that is kinder to the planet is on the rise,” says Ben Adams, co-founder and master craftsman of Rust Collections, creators of sustainable rustic-luxe reclaimed pieces made from locally salvaged timber. They also use oak certified by the FSC.

“By using local recycled wood, we keep transportation miles down and give new purpose to a material that’s already had a life, and in doing so, the carbon footprint is kept very low,” explains Adams.

“Keeping the use of freshly-milled timber to a minimum also means putting less pressure on our natural timber resources, preserving more for future use.”

eco designer homes

Material concerns

“Over the last few seasons at Habitat, we’ve seen a definite increase in demand from shoppers who are obviously interested in purchasing designs made using recycled and sustainable base materials,” says Siobhan McMillan, head of buying for Habitat.

“In textiles, we’re working with suppliers to increase the amount of designs made from fabric that is recycled from the fashion industry. Fabric off-cuts that would have otherwise been thrown away are instead re-dyed and woven to create new rugs and cushions, and we’ve increased the amount of patterns available.”

In lighting, she notes, there’s a growing demand for designs made from sustainable, fast-growing rattan and bamboo, with three-out-of-five of Habitat’s current bestselling shades made from these natural base materials.

eco designer homes

9 Top Tips to Make the Most of a Small Kitchen

small kitchen tips

Small can be beautiful and - crucially in this case - functional too. By Luke Rix-Standing.

In the modern world of cramped shoe-box flats and sardine-tin apartment blocks, space is a rare and valuable commodity.

Wave goodbye to extended worktops, double-door refrigerators, and luxurious kitchen islands – particularly in urban areas, these are now myths from a bygone age for many of us.

When space is scarce, kitchens are often the first to feel the squeeze – there’s no headline floor-filler in this room, like a sofa or bed – but there’s no need to let that cramp your cooking.

Here’s how to keep livin’ it large, even with the most modest kitchen…

small kitchen tips

1. Purge the unnecessaries

Be totally honest with yourself – do you really need that candy floss maker, that ‘pizza oven’ that’s actually just a small oven taking up half the counter top, or that margarita maker you used once back in 2013?

“It’s the number one mistake people make,” says professional organiser, Vicky Silverthorn (youneedavicky.com). “Putting the contents of a four-bedroom house into a two-bedroom house, and keeping gadgets that come out only occasionally. The fondue set, the avocado slicer, the large dinner platters for people that don’t have dinner parties… Ask yourself what you’d prefer – the space, or the appliance you use once a year?”

2. Think vertically

Floor space is not the be all and end all, and for those blessed with high ceilings, it’s crucial to cash in. Add extra shelves above your cupboards, or use the tops of your cupboards as extra storage space.

Time and budget allowing, you could install a vertical, sliding drawer, which may single-handedly take the place of a pantry. Think of your kitchen like a maths question – you’re calculating the volume, not just the floor area.

small kitchen tips

3. Use your corners

Corners are notoriously difficult to utilise, but unless you’re living in a water tower, every room has at least three or four of them. Wraparound corner shelves are shoo-ins for storage-starved kitchens, while floor lights and tables can be slotted in with ease. In most rooms, corners are dead space; in a small kitchen, they’re an opportunity.

4. Store in adjacent rooms

If your home is relatively spacious, and it’s just your kitchen feeling the squeeze, you can always store non-perishables elsewhere. There’s just no need to clog your kitchen cupboards with piles of pasta and tinned beans, when they could live just as happily somewhere else in the house.

small kitchen tips

5. Keep it tidy

Kitchens are supposed to be functional, efficient spaces, tailored to minimise the inherent pressures of cooking – and to keep a clear head when things get steamy, you need a clear work surface.

“It’s about putting the items that you have in the correct spaces,” says Silverthorn, “and there is no one-size-fits-all. Look out for gimmicky plastic containers that only contain a few tins – not everything needs to live in a basket, despite what Instagram says. Get stackable storage containers, or containers that fit inside each other when they’re not being used.”

6. Clever colours

Just because your kitchen is small, doesn’t mean it has to look small. Consistent colouring helps a room feel fluid, while bright blocks of contrast colour can quickly become claustrophobic (although there are no hard and fast rules!), so consider keeping your scheme to a two-colour maximum.

Lighter colours invariably feel airier – whitewashed kitchens are increasingly common – while reflective surfaces like mirrors lend depth.

small kitchen tips

7. Tactical lighting

How large a room looks is as much about your perception as its actual size. Natural light bathes your kitchen in a vivid glow, imitating the wide open spaces of the great outdoors, while poorly-lit areas very quickly feel poky.

Artificial light is where the buck stops after-hours, and you want to mix up overhead sources with table lamps or wall lights. Accent lighting lends contrast between different parts of a room, which inevitably leaves your kitchen looking larger and more varied.

“I love lights that dim in a kitchen,” says Silverthorn. “It gives the bright, vibrant light for the morning and afternoon but can then turn cosy for when you’re winding down.”

8. Space-saving gizmos

Extravagant gadgetry generally takes up more space than it saves, but there are a few specific products that earn their place. Try a magnetic knife holder – a strip on the wall that holds knives and other metallic implements – or pick up a chopping board that sits atop your sink.

Anything that can be hung should be hung. Hooks on the undersides of shelves are a go-to for mugs, while large utensils can be well catered for with rails and racks.

small kitchen tips

9. Double up

Going back to gadgetry, even seemingly sensible tools can often be economised, and canny buyers can squeeze two tools into the space of one. “Employ multi-purpose kitchen utensils,” says Silverthorn, “you’re automatically saving space.

“I’ve been working with Brabantia (brabantia.com/uk),” she adds, “and their new Tasty+ range is full of them. There’s a spatula that’s also a fork, a skimmer that’s also a ladle, a spaghetti spoon that’s also got a measuring tool in it. You’re instantly halving the utensils in your kitchen.”

Which Houseplant Works Best Where – and How You Should Care for them.

houseplant care

Unsure which plants to place in the bathroom, lounge or bedroom? Houseplant expert Claire Bishop tells Hannah Stephenson her top tips.

houseplant care

As the seasons change, waving goodbye to summer doesn’t have to mean the end of enjoying gorgeous plants.

You can still keep your home feeling alive with houseplants, whatever your decor style. For those new to keeping plants indoors though, knowing what to have where can seem tricky.

Claire Bishop, houseplant buyer at Dobbies Garden Centres, offers the following tips on how houseplants can enhance a number of different styles and moods – from bright and bold, to soft, subtle and architecturally sculpted – and which ones work best where…

houseplant care

Au natural

Lush green plants paired with rugged terracotta containers bring the outdoors into your home. The popular Boston fern, with its arching green fronds, can develop into a perfect sphere of intricate greenery.

Alternatively, go for the sansevieria succulent, which adds attractive marbling to the mix. Commonly known as snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue, sansevieria are much more soothing to have around than either of their nicknames suggests.

houseplant care

Typically tropical

For a more vibrant look, seek out dazzling tropical plants such as the Calathea peacock plant. As the name suggests, this plant is all about display, with a feathered effect in different shades of green.

Since it originates in warmer climes, Calathea will be perfectly at home in the humid atmosphere of a bathroom or kitchen – where it’s likely to expand over time into a substantial, bushy addition.

houseplant care

Family fixture

For a bright, cheerful addition to any family room, turn to dependable, easy-to-grow favourites such as the spider plant. Thriving even in a brightly-lit lounge, the bold stripes of the variegated Chlorophytum will last all year round. Try a hanging basket to display it to best effect.

The peace lily is another go-to houseplant, being beautiful and almost indestructible – it actually thrives on under-watering. With its pure white flowers and deep green leaves, it’s a calming presence. It’s also one of the best plants for removing air pollution.

houseplant care

Shabby chic

Dispense with tradition and opt for ‘guests’ that will bring personality to your rooms. Coconut shells, coffee tins, brass cans – most houseplants aren’t fussy – they’ll thrive equally happily in unconventional containers.

Based on an ancient Japanese art, Kokedama (which directly translates as ‘moss balls’) are plants rooted in soil, wrapped in moss and bound in thread. Much more than just a houseplant, these are pieces of sculptural art, perfect on a windowsill or suspended from the ceiling.

houseplant care

3 key questions about houseplants

Here, Bishop answers some of the more commonly asked houseplants questions…

1. What common mistakes do people make when it comes to houseplants?

Overwatering. It’s surprising that most of the on-trend plants at the moment thrive upon neglect, as most of them require a bare minimum of care. Also, too much light and draughts can affect plants, so being placed directly on a windowsill where the window is often opened. They can quickly recover if you reposition them.

2. Which plants would you recommend for which room, and why?

Houseplants will work well in most rooms, as long as there is natural light.

In bedrooms… Aloe vera is often recommended, releasing oxygen while you are sleeping. They are one of the best plants for air purification.

In bathrooms… Orchids are popular. They are tropical, so they love the humidity and will be at their happiest on the bathroom windowsill.

Spider plants also work well in bathrooms. Thriving in the often-humid environment, they remove CO2 from the moist atmosphere. They like to be kept in rooms that are fairly well lit and watered once or twice a week, but not in direct sunlight.

3. What tips would you give for caring for houseplants?

Succulents and terrariums are pretty easy to care for and look fantastic in groups. They can instantly change the look and feel of a room, from industrial chic to jungle inspired bold botanicals.

All houseplants require a little clean to keep them looking their best – simply wipe the leaves with a damp cloth. This is not just to keep them looking good. Removing the dust ensures good health. Take off any foliage that is yellowing, and trim damaged leaves of larger plants with sharp scissors at the same time.

During the autumn and winter months, houseplants will look their best if you give them a shower as you water, as this will keep the leaves looking green and glossy. Keep an eye on light levels in the darker winter months – some plants may need a bit more.

houseplant care

From Crazy Paving to Patios: Gardening Trends Through the Decades

garden trends

As Southport Flower Show turns 90, garden designer and broadcaster Matthew Wilson looks at how tastes and trends have evolved. By Hannah Stephenson.

Who remembers when rock gardens were fashionable? Or perhaps at one point in your green-fingered life you attempted to paint your garden fence sky-blue, or adorn your patio with crazy paving?

These are just some of the trends remembered by award-winning garden designer and TV expert Matthew Wilson, a regular on BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time, who will be judging at Southport Flower Show later this month.

And this year mark’s the show’s 90th anniversary – so what better time to glance back at the go-to gardening looks we’ve seen come and go over the years?

Here, Wilson takes us down memory lane with a look at horticultural fads and fashions through the decades…

garden trends

1920s: The rock garden

In the 1920s, rock gardens were the height of fashion. You hardly see them these days, although there are still some designers who produce them.

garden trends

1930s: Art deco designs

As art deco architecture came into fashion, the style often extended into gardens. Exotic plants and evergreens were shown off in simple white-walled plots or within curved brick designs.

A great deal of creative effort was put into the paving, with highly stylised patios and paths.

garden trends

1940s: Grow your own

After the war, rationing continued for many years and the ‘grow your own’ movement was a necessity, rather than a fashion.

Ornamental gardens were dug up to make vegetable patches. Even football pitches were turned into allotments, and London’s Hyde Park had a huge allotment garden.

This trend continued into the 1970s, as seen on TV in The Good Life, and then fell out of fashion – but is very much back on the agenda for very different reasons right now, linked to the concern about the environment, food miles and agricultural additives. It’s come full circle.

garden trends

1950s: Rose gardens

There was a massive interest in rose breeding in the 1950s, with growers trying to produce new and exotic coloured colours. People tried to grow blue roses, which actually cannot exist in nature but have since been grown using genetic modification.

The Royal National Rose Society had more than 100,000 members by the 1970s. People still love roses, but few would have a rose garden that is solely roses and nothing else today.

It was also the start of the British love affair with the well-tended garden lawn, as new weed-killers, mowers and products came on the market, and the 1950s was the decade when the first garden centre opened in the UK.

garden trends

1960s: Mini conifers and heathers

In the late 1960s, there was a trend for mini-conifers and heathers in Britain’s gardens. They were popular because they were fairly low-maintenance and looked good all year round.

“Like many trends, they went completely out of fashion, but I think in the next few years we will start to see a renewed interest in conifers,” says Wilson.

garden trends

1970s: Crazy paving

Crazy paving was big in gardens in the 1970s. It was popular because it gave people a unique design in their garden, often in pink or yellow, and was also cheaper than conventional paving.

garden trends

1980s: Wildlife gardening

The 1980s saw a surge of interest in wildlife gardening, with households encouraging wildflowers to grow in their gardens as concerns grew about the environment.

Chris Baines’ 1985 book, How To Make A Wildlife Garden, shot to the bestseller lists – telling people how to make their gardens a haven for wildlife. The trend of gardening with nature, rather than fighting against it, has continued and is now arguably one of the most important aspects of modern gardening.

garden trends

1990s: The TV makeover

The 1990s was the decade when gardening became prime-time TV, with shows like Ground Force with Alan Titchmarsh and Charlie Dimmock encouraging householders to give their gardens a dramatic makeover.

Decking and other recreational features became popular, as more people made the barbecue and patio table and chairs the focus of their outdoor space.

garden trends

2000s: Naturalistic planting

The new century saw the popularity of ‘naturalistic’ planting start to grow, inspired by designers such as James van Sweden in the US and Piet Oudolf from the Netherlands.

In Essex, Beth Chatto had created the influential ‘Gravel Garden’, and flower shows began to feature planting schemes that had more in common with meadows than traditional flower beds.

garden trends

2010s: Green gardening

Gardeners became far more conscious of the environment. ‘No-dig’ gardening is a big part of what we do now, and is going to become even bigger. It is a less intensive way of cultivating the soil, that prevents damage to the soil flora and fauna that are so important to plant health.

There is a big concern these days about water use and the environment, and this is driving the way we garden. Coastal towns are always drier, so building zero-irrigation gardens – for instance, thinking about the right plants for the right place – is also big.

Southport Flower Show runs from Aug 15-18. For tickets and further information, see southportflowershow.co.uk.

Summer Bedroom Bliss: 10 Cool and Stylish Updates to Snap up Right Now

summer bedroom style

Has the heatwave inspired a bedroom refresh? Sam Wylie-Harris hits the shops.

Just like our summer wardrobes, how you dress the bedroom can make a world of difference to how you feel when the sun’s shining.

And with the current heatwave, this is even more relevant – a bedroom that’s too hot and steamy (read: stuffy and sweaty) won’t do your sleep patterns any favours, resulting in a serious case of morning grouch.

But preen the pillows, buff the bed, lighten the load with a summer duvet somewhere in the region of a 4.5 tog, scent surround (we love The White Company’s Blanc collection) and hey presto, the bedroom becomes a dreamy summer haven.

Especially if you style it up with crisp linens, clean lines and a wash of colour, or brights teamed with tropical themed decos. Style your summer bedroom just right, and you’ll wake up holiday-ready without the need for a getaway…

summer bedroom style

1. Savoy Bed Linen Collection, from £20-£140, The White Company

Keeping it fabulously soft and smooth with a 400-thread-count feelgood factor, loosely tuck yourself into this 100% Egyptian cotton percale bed linen and you’ll feel like you’re on an endless luxurious escape.

summer bedroom style

2. A by Amara Bohemian 300 Thread Count Duvet Cover – Super King, currently reduced to £25.50 from £85 (includes Oxford Pillowcase Pair), Amara

If you really want to hit the refresh button and feel free-spirited, playing with boho-chic blues in an eye-catching Moroccan tile print against a carved Moroccan style bedhead is an easy update. As Sam Hood, co-founder and creative director, Amara, points out: “To make your bedroom feel as bright as possible for the summer season, start with your bed. A fresh set of bed linen not only feels amazing to slide into but it can breathe new life into your bedroom style.”

Note: A strategically placed vintage style mirror will catch beams of light.

.

summer bedroom style

3. A by Amara 500 Thread Count Sateen Duvet Cover – White – Double, £80, and matching Pillowcase Pair, £40; Grid Crochet Cushions, £40 each; Multi Circle Print Cushion – Green/Pink, reduced to £40 from £50, crochet throw and accessories from a selection, Amara

White with a pop of colours feels bright and fresh, and craftwork is a really thing this summer, with woven wonders now far more than a basket or espadrille staple – think cushions, rugs, basket boxes and hanging planters.

summer bedroom style

4. MW By Matthew Williamson – Turquoise Bead Embellished Cushion, £26; Orange Velvet Patchwork Cushion, £35; Yellow Pineapple Embroidered Tassel Throw, £100, Butterfly Home by Matthew Williamson – Multicoloured Floral Embroidered Cushion, £40, Debenhams

The flip-side of calming neutrals, rich velvets embellished with sequins, handcrafted trims and tassels can be just as dreamy as beige and ivory – especially with an undertone of gold adding a touch of shimmer to tropical themes.

summer bedroom style

5. Exotic Palm Printed Bedding Set, from £17.50-£29.50, Marks & Spencer

Anything beginning with ‘palm’ usually emanates luxury, or exotic, far-flung destinations and a sun-lounger under the shade of a swaying tree.

Luckily, this leafy jungle palm print isn’t a summer sellout (yet). Within a shake of the sheet, you can almost feel the sand beneath your feet.

summer bedroom style

6. Yellow Full-Height Shutters, from £168 per m2, California Shutters (Bedding, stylist’s own)

“During summer, some bedrooms – particularly south-facing ones – become uncomfortably hot because of the light that streams through all day. Shutters can block this (at times harmful) sunlight, allowing the room to cool,” says Chrissie Harper, customer experience manager, California Shutters.

“In addition to the benefit of temperature control, shutters are also the ideal solution for balancing light and privacy in rooms, where comfort and wellbeing are a must.”

And while buttercup yellow seems perfect right now, this bright hue is not just a summer fling. Think of these as an investment piece that can be fashioned as saffron yellow come the autumn.

summer bedroom style

7. Oslo Blush Bed Linen – King Size Duvet, £185; Set of Two Pillowcases, £45, Graham & Green

Our rose love affair shows no sign of dwindling, whether it’s the sweep of rosy blush on our cheeks, an up-to-the-minute pink pout, or feeling girly in peony. So why not a wash of rose in cool linen for the bedroom, for a bed that feels as fresh as that next glass of Provencal pink?

summer bedroom style

8. Volieres Medium Bird Cage Pendant, £499, Graham & Green

And to crown the bed, we love this whimsy chandelier with decorative birds made from real feathers which have been ethically sourced. Handmade and a unique flight of fancy, each chandelier comes with its own assortment of birds and you can almost hear their tranquil birdsong.

summer bedroom style

9. Porto Ruffle Linen Cushions, £60 each, Graham & Green

Ruffles were among the top 10 fashion trends for 2019, and while we’re working the ruffle-trimmed, tiered dress look, why not use flouncy ruffles as a building block on the bed too? They add interest visually, plus when the heat is on, washed linen is the coolest option.

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summer bedroom style

10. Slumberdown Support Pillow – 2 Pack, £14, Argos

With the ‘secret to a good night’s sleep’ a hot topic on balmy nights, a support pillow could be just the ticket. With maximum support for the head and neck, these are designed to hold your head at just the right position to encourage your spine to be well aligned as you lie down, and help reduce everyday aches and pains.

Seek and Hide: 6 Storage Solutions to keep You and Your Rooms Cool and Calm this Summer

summer storage solutions

Don't want to just chuck away all that clutter? Gabrielle Fagan reveals simple ways to get it out of sight.

If you’re feeling hot and bothered this summer, it may not just be the weather.

Look around your home – if it’s overflowing with clutter, and every corner and surface seems to be a magnet for bits and bobs that should be sorted but never are (the school holidays could make it a whole lot worse), this is probably contributing to those raised stress levels.

The good news is, to tackle this oh-so common scenario, you don’t have to turn yourself into a dedicated disciple of ‘Queen of Clutter’ Marie Kondo and rid yourself of every possession you’ve ever owned.

Instead, it’s time to play ‘seek and hide’. This new decor game simply involves hunting down all the ‘stuff’ you want but don’t need to stare at (or stress over) all the time, and then using clever storage solutions to hold, hide, or disguise it.

Check out six smart seek-and-hide solutions, so you can enjoy a cool, relaxing season…

summer storage solutions

1. Step into calm

As a hallway’s the first port of call when you get home, having to squeeze your way past a chaotic collection of coats and tripping over shoes and kit every day certainly won’t make you feel zen.

Slim down that coat rack: Keep out only what’s suitable for the season and store away heavy winter coats and jackets. Check out Lakeland’s brilliant clothes storage solutions including a Vacuum Clothes & Duvet Storage Tote Bag (87L Jumbo), £16.99.

Keep shoes on a rack and label drawers on a storage chest (Polaroid pictures work well for younger children), so everyone knows exactly what goes where to encourage order rather than dumping.

2. Make a screen star

If you’ve ever felt panic at unexpected visitors suddenly arriving and seeing mess everywhere, a screen is the perfect fast cover-up solution.

These can be easily moved around to hide ‘clutter spots’, as they’re brilliant for masking a cluttered corner or untidy collection of clothes, and crucially can be folded away when not in use.

They can also work as flexible room dividers, allowing an open-plan space to be used for a multitude of purposes. Another bonus: They’re a great way to introduce texture, colour and pattern to a room and you can also use them for display, maybe as picture board for family photos.

summer storage solutions

3. Sit and store

Multi-tasking seats with hidden compartments can be just the solution to get clutter off the floor. They could be the perfect home for magazines, toys, or all that debris that seems to accumulate on the top of a coffee table. Simply lift the lid, sweep away and store! A coffee table which incorporates storage is another way of keeping its top clear and tidy.

Dress windows simply with blinds – less bulky than curtains – and choose a neutral shade or white to make a room feel more spacious and airy. Sweet Dreams Placid Roller Blind, from £21.96, English Blinds.

summer storage solutions

4. Sideboards of style

Designers are proving that while storage is necessary it certainly needn’t be dull, by creating pieces which are practical and also sleek and stylish. Sideboards can soak up a huge amount of possessions.

summer storage solutions

5. Sweet dreams storage

A calm, serene space for sleeping is essential, so that you relax and rest well. A headboard with storage is genius because it allows you to keep distracting clutter tucked out of sight, and can be a boon if you’re tight for space and haven’t got enough room for bedside tables.

Under-bed storage drawers can also be super-handy for stowing away bedding or out-of-season clothes that you don’t need to access for a while.

summer storage solutions

6. Magic makeover

Turn that rush to get ready into a pleasure by bringing order to make-up (sort it out first and discard anything more than a year old, which is probably past its use-by date) and jewellery.

7 Bright Design Tricks to Maximise Light in Your Home

brighten your home

From curtains to decluttering and mirrored furniture, Luke Rix-Standing reveals nifty ways to give any home that dreamy light and airy feel.

Ask any interior designer: Light is one of – if not the – most important consideration in the layout of a home.

Quite apart from being essential (cooking in the dark is not advised), light provides the framework for a home’s aesthetic, and the foundation for its – to use a technical term – ambience.

It doesn’t matter how well you’ve feng shui-ed your cellar – if it’s lit by a single, flickering bulb, it’s still going to feel like the set of a horror movie.

Here’s how to make your home the brightest and best it can be, from streaming sunbeams to energy-saving LEDs…

brighten your home

Make a proper plan

Most people know that when it comes to light sources, more is usually merrier. But the result is that homeowners load up expensive fixings without taking care of even the simplest practical alterations.

For immediate improvement, a short recce goes a long way: Look at the location of your windows, what they’re illuminating, and what you want them to illuminate. Take a note of where the sun comes from in each part of the day, and if any rooms seem particularly drab and gloomy.

With your stock-take complete, move furniture that might be blocking a window’s view, and clear out cluttered windowsills. If you have several electric lights covering a space usually bathed in sunshine, rejig your room rather than spending a fortune adding to it.

Consider moving obstacles outside your home too. If your climbing hydrangea has launched a hostile takeover against your windowpanes, it’s time to call in the garden shears.

brighten your home

90% light, 10% dark

Assuming that you do, in fact, have windows, your next key point should be colour. Pure white surfaces can feel a little cold, but off-white or light cream is a shoo-in for walls and ceilings when cultivating a brighter feel.

Soft hues absorb far less light than dark ones, and for the most radiant rooms you should look beyond the masonry. Consider pastel-coloured cupboards, pale wood furniture, or light-hued decorations. There’s nothing wrong with a black leather sofa, or some statement, patterned wallpaper, but they won’t necessarily help your rooms retain light.

Aesthetically, many designers opt to add in darker trimmings. Cushions, knick-knacks and other smaller furnishings look great in dark grey or navy, and provide contrast without significantly sacrificing light.

brighten your home

Lots of mirrors

If you’re looking to increase your intake of natural light, mirrors are perhaps the most literal way of doing so. They reflect light that would otherwise be absorbed into the wall, and hanging one opposite a window sends daylight bouncing round the room.

Wall-mounted mirrors are a go-to for grooming as much as for decor, and fashion-conscious bedrooms often boast something free-standing and full-length. Next level homeowners could employ mirrored furniture – mirrored tables, mirrored wardrobes, even a mirrored chest of drawers.

Large mirrors give the illusion of a much larger, lighter space, and if the room feels bright and breezy, so too will its reflection.

brighten your home

Window dressing

Your windows are your main allies in your fight for light, so you’d be wise to give them plenty of tender loving care.

Blinds are a good bet for a light-heavy home, leaving the window entirely exposed when open and creating lovely lines of light when down. They can’t produce blackouts, so are less advisable in the bedroom of a light sleeper.

Light linen or cotton curtains are similarly appropriate – and can be hung in layers to more closely control the flow of light. Heavier, thicker fabrics like velvets and brocades are generally more accustomed to blocking light, while wide-slat shutters are flexible and channel a Mediterranean feel.

brighten your home

The lighting of the lamps

Natural light tends to gobble up the headlines, but artificial light is where the buck stops.

Let’s divide it into three stylistic varieties. Ambient lighting diffuses evenly through a room, and is usually the starting point for a larger scheme. Think ceiling lights, perhaps integrated with lamps on floors or tables.

Naturally, ambient lighting isn’t strong on contrast, so try some accent lighting to help instil separation. Accent lighting is brighter and much more directional, ensuring centrepieces like dining room tables get the focus they deserve.

Make sure these lights are not so concentrated that they behave like spotlights. You don’t want to channel a the sort of aggressive glare normally reserved for police interrogation rooms.

Finally, consider task lighting – very strong light sources marshalled for specific purposes. Think downward-facing desk lamps that can illuminate a keyboard clear as day, or a row of bulbs as floodlights for a worktop. There’s no point illuminating the corridor with pixel-perfect high-def, if your closet is so dimly-lit all your darker clothes merge into one.

Keep these principles in mind when allotting wattage in your home, and where possible try before you buy. Road-test bulb brightness, or better yet employ a dimmer switch.

brighten your home

Wash your walls

No, not with soapy water – in this context washing your wall means to splash light across a surface, creating the illusion that the whole room is aglow.

Consider vertical light fixings, that send a warm light upwards and downwards, creating a sheet-like glow across a wall. It’s better to bathe an area with one effective light source than pepper it with unattractive fixings.

brighten your home

Structural changes

For those with the time, inclination and, most of all, the money, there are plenty of home improvements that can turn dingy dungeon to gleaming greenhouse. Some are obvious – more and bigger windows, glass patio doors and so on – but others are slightly less intuitive.

Skylights are an oft-neglected sub-genre of window – the light comes straight from source and can often spread across an entire floor space.

Thick-set, dark-coloured doors can keep natural light from reaching the heart of your home, so consider glass panelling even on doors that don’t open into the air. Next-level homeowners can go one better by embracing a more open-plan layout throughout their dwelling.

Though not traditionally a light-emitting surface, even the floor can play its part. Opting for polished, well-finished hardwood, ceramic or stone can keep light ricocheting off your interiors like an underfoot mirror.

9 Expert Tips to Transform Your Greenhouse from Messy Junkyard to Rustic Retreat

updating your glam greenhouse

Hannah Stephenson reveals how to banish the greenhouse clutter and create a horticultural haven instead. If you're tripping over compost bags, battling with broken pots and spent seed trays and can't find a tool in sight, your greenhouse may be in need of a serious makeover.

updating your glam greenhouse

Smart gardeners can create a space that’s not only useful for growing plants but acts as an extension of their home – a stylish, comfortable bolthole through the warmer months and beyond, with the help of a little furniture, cushions, wall art and some nifty tidying accessories.

Where to start with your makeover? Follow this greenhouse guide for inspiration, including tips from garden styling pros and Richard Baggaley, director of The Greenhouse People (greenhousepeople.co.uk)…

updating your glam greenhouse

1. Create a potting corner

To prevent clutter in your greenhouse, carefully plan your layout and segment the space into purposeful areas. Create a potting corner next to where you grow your fruit and vegetables to make planting more efficient and to save space.

This area needn’t be dull. Place seed packets in a brightly coloured tin to store them safely and add a pop of colour to your greenhouse. Rather than leaving tools in a chaotic heap, a row of hooks will keep everything off the floor and neatly stored.

updating your glam greenhouse

2. Be bold with plant choice

The greenhouse needn’t just be a space to nurture seedlings. Exotic and tender plants will thrive in the warm environment and brighten up the space.

Fill your greenhouse with a range of desert and succulent plants like cactus, agave and crassula. These easy-care plants flourish inside a greenhouse and are very on-trend.

If botany is more your style, orchids are among the most beautiful and exotic greenhouse plants. They require a high level of humidity though, so store your misting bottle nearby to keep your orchid healthy.

Tom Barry, managing director of Hartley Botanic (hartley-botanic.co.uk), adds: “Architectural tropical and subtropical species are still very popular with both homeowners and gardeners alike.

“These plants look dramatic and add height within a greenhouse which works well when combined with bench-level succulents and cacti. For colour, and to add an exotic look, orchids in pretty ‘sweet shop’ colours can be grown in individual pots.”

updating your glam greenhouse

3. Create a cosy nook

Acclaimed author and botanical stylist Selina Lake (Selinalake.co.uk), who styled for Alitex (Alitex.co.uk) at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, suggests you update tired items such as old chairs, metal furniture or plant pots by adding a pop of colour with paints. A simple bench can be turned into a sumptuous day bed with a mass of comfy cushions.

updating your glam greenhouse

4. Use insect designs

Entomology, or the study of insects, is the new botanical trend, adds Lake. Get the look by having a go at drawing bugs on greenhouse windows using a chalk pen.

Add prints and posters in frames or clipped to bare walls and use a wire washing line for another display.

updating your glam greenhouse

5. Go for a natural look

‘Upcycling’ is the word on everyone’s lips – and for a good reason. With items sourced from second-hand shops, or even junkyards, it’s easy to go boho on a budget. Simple changes like a lick of paint on wooden furniture or changing the handles on drawers can have a huge impact, says Baggaley.

In line with environmental issues, forgo plastic items for furniture and accessories made from natural materials such as metals, rattan and bamboo.

updating your glam greenhouse

6. Find space to sit

Baggaley advises: “Add comfort to your glass-walled structure with seating and soft furnishings. Textiles will instantly soften the space and make it feel inviting.

“Be aware that these will fade under the concentrated sunlight, so shop for items with a vintage-inspired design or are second hand to accomplish the shabby-chic look.”

updating your glam greenhouse

7. Make use of mirrors

Add mirrors inside your greenhouse to reflect light and the sight of your beautiful plants, Baggaley says. Careful placement will give the illusion of more space but do consider what it will be reflecting. Try to reflect the leafy interest in your greenhouse, rather than watering cans or plastic pots.

updating your glam greenhouse

8. Use your greenhouse as a gallery

To add further interiors-inspired touches to your greenhouse, wall art is a great option to make the space ooze personality and feel more like a home.

Get creative and create your own works of art to display. You could decorate a canvas with cuttings from garden magazines, known in the art world as ‘decoupage’, for garden inspiration as well as decoration.

updating your glam greenhouse

9. Create a herb haven

Drying herbs in a greenhouse is ideal as they dry quickly under the concentrated sunlight, add scent to the space, and look decorative.

Lavender, sage and thyme retain their fragrance when dried – just try to keep them out of direct sun. They dry quickly, so check periodically and package for storage as soon as they are crisp.

Tv’s Lorraine Kelly and George Clarke Reveal 2 Key Ways to Create Extra Space at Home

Lorraine Kelly transformed an unused conservatory, while George Clarke created a garden office. Gabrielle Fagan takes a look.

Who hasn’t felt at times that their home is shrinking? Growing kids, shifting towards working from home, or just having too much stuff can all make it seem like the walls are closing in.

Don’t despair though – there are ways to reclaim some much-needed space. TV’s Lorraine Kelly and architect and presenter George Clarke have done exactly that in their own homes.

Kelly has transformed a conservatory, while George has opted for a purpose-built home office at the end of his garden – both increasingly popular choices, as more and more people prefer to ‘improve rather than move’ to gain extra living space.

Take a look at their newly created retreats, which might just inspire some changes of your own…

Lorraine Kelly’s chic conservatory

“I’m so lucky to have a conservatory,” declares Kelly. She and her husband, cameraman Steve Smith, moved a year ago – downsizing from their Dundee mansion to a smaller house in Buckinghamshire – after their daughter Rosie, 23, left home.

Kelly, 59, wanted to create a comfortable area in her new home for ‘me time’, where she could gaze out on her garden and riverside view and be surrounded by her favourite possessions.

“I absolutely love Scandi interiors but I’m not too strict when it comes to sticking to one style,” she says.

“My personal style’s all about comfort; I’m not into minimalism. I personally love an eclectic home, I’m much more into interesting objects and having a lot of cushions and textiles. To me, home means somewhere you can just breathe out, cosy up and feel safe and happy.”

With help from online interiors brand, Wayfair, her conservatory – formerly an “underused area” which opens off from the kitchen – has been transformed.

“The conservatory’s so light and airy with gorgeous views, and now it’s a complete haven – a room full of light and happiness,” enthuses the presenter, clearly delighted to have somewhere to relax during time off from her busy career as host of her ITV morning show, Lorraine.

“It’s the perfect place to read the Sunday papers, have a cuppa, or just sit and have a chat with friends and family,” she adds.

Little details personalise the space. “I love the weathered penguin ornaments – it’s no secret they’re my favourite animal – and the pretty trays and faux plants scattered around,” says Kelly.

“We opted for a base palette of soft greys and neutrals to create a calming environment for Lorraine,” explains Nadia McCowan Hill, resident style advisor for Wayfair.

“This was off-set with inky blues, emerald green detailing and hints of glittering silver, reflecting the stunning river-side location and panoramic views.”

The results are a hit with Kelly, who enthuses: “My favourite items are the sofa, as it’s a beautiful colour and so stylish, and I adore the plump scatter cushions and cosy rugs. Angus, our pet dog, will just curl up at our feet and snooze – he just loves this room.”

Make the most of your conservatory

Here are McCowan Hill’s top tips for making a conservatory a year-round multi-functional space…

1. Work the space: “A conservatory can be so much more than just a sun room. Why not create a small home office in one corner? A simple corner desk won’t take up too much space, and sitting beside light flooded windows could make work a pleasure.”

2. Style it up: Classic shapes for furniture in Kelly’s conservatory were given a modern twist with jute and linen upholstery, and pouffes double as footstools or extra seating and give the space an informal feel. Textiles – think throws and cushions – can add a layer of texture and warmth.

3. Grow your greens: “For a plant-filled haven, use window boxes to grow light-loving herbs, a tiered vertical garden unit or open shelving potting benches to store garden necessities. Choose natural wood and metal finishes to complement the greenery,” she says.

4. Hang it up: Since conservatories lack wall space for hanging art, she advises opting instead for a selection of hanging baskets hung at different heights across one wall of windows as an eye-catching display. “For a more ‘boho’ look, put up a hanging chair and conjure a reading/daydreaming zone,” she says.

George Clarke’s home office

When you’ve run out of space and can’t extend up, down or sideways, consider building outdoors, suggests George Clarke – best-known for his Channel Four shows, The Restoration Man and George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces.

“Garden rooms are on the rise because they’re an adaptable space that can be used as a retreat, a place to entertain, to work, to get creative or even to sleep,” he says.

“My open-plan house doesn’t lend itself to having an office space so, like a growing number of people, I built a studio at the bottom of the garden. It’s where I come to leave behind all the chaos and noise in the house, do some work, read and focus.”

He credits Tetbury Charcoal Wave Header Curtains (from £163 including measuring and fitting, Hillarys) with transforming the space. “They soften the look of the room, create a cosy feel, improve the acoustics, and I can draw them to stop glare from the sun on the computer,” he enthuses.

7 Decor Updates to Make your Home Sizzle with Style this Summer

summer style trends 2019

Want to transform your rooms into super sunny spots? Gabrielle Fagan reveals some mini decor projects and best buys.

summer style trends 2019

Your home’s interior can be as sunny as you like, no matter the weather – all it takes is a few simple, budget-friendly updates and best buys.

Indulge in the sweetness of the season with sugary shades and accessories; transform your outlook with exotic prints and a mural; change your view with blue-sky window shutters reminiscent of Mediterranean scenes; turn up the heat with tropical foliage (real, faux or palm print will do the job), and last but not least, create your very own ‘hot spot’ for essential chilling on sunny days.

Be inspired and put your own spin on the suggestions – and your space will brim with personalised style all summer long…

summer style trends 2019

1. Scoop up style with ice-cream shades

“We’re all naturally drawn to certain colours and tastes. Why not choose a paint colour that reminds you of your favourite flavour ice cream?” says Sue Kim, senior colour designer, Valspar. “If you’re really brave, go for them all, in a perfect palette of ice cream colours. Choose sugary shades like Strawberry Parfait, Blueberry Mash, Pineapple Crush, Pistachio Cookie and Peach Syrup.”

If you really want to transform your home landscape, splash out on an exotic beach scene mural. Wallsauce’s Acapulco Wall Mural, from £32 per square metre, could have you reaching for the sunglasses and swimsuit.

TIP: If a medley of sweet shades is just too rich for your taste, add one or two as ‘pops’ of colour set against an overall dominant neutral, such as Coconut Juice (Premium Blend v700 Walls & Ceilings, £28 for 2.5L), suggests Kim. Alternatively, choose one shade for a furniture up-cycle project, or for doors and skirting boards for a smart update (use Valspar’s Premium Blend v700 Wood & Metal).

summer style trends 2019

2. Sweet tooth decor

Follow that ‘sweet’ theme with fun stools from Andrew Martin, that look as though you’ve bagged a handful of pick ‘n’ mix. As a ‘healthier’ choice, add a couple of apple ornaments – a five-a-day decor delight.

summer style trends 2019

3. Create a ‘hot destination’ wall

“Bring instant sunshine to a room, no matter what the weather outside, with summer- themed prints,” suggests Omar Obaid, co-founder of art print specialists, Abstract House.

“Photos of dreamy beaches you’ve enjoyed can transport you back to happy times and conjure nostalgic memories, while images of those tropical destinations on your bucket list could inspire you with hopes for the future. Research has also shown that just looking at pleasing art can lift mood and reduce stress.”

TIP: The best way to unify a frame set for a gallery wall is to choose a quality wooden frame in a single colour, advises Obaid. Co-ordinate artwork by colour, tone and subject, but don’t be afraid to experiment with different layouts. A simple trick to help you visualise the artwork display is to lay all the frames on the floor, and swap the pictures around until you find the perfect fit or your favourite shape.

summer style trends 2019

4. Change your view

“If your home could use a seasonal pick-up, windows are a great place to start,” says Susan White, design director at Hillarys. “Whether the light in the room is natural, artificial, reflected, muted or diffused, it can have a major influence on our mood and feelings. Shutters are widely regarded as the ultimate window dressing both from a style and security point of view, allowing plenty of light and air to filter in, and they have a perfect summer feel.

“They can be a boon for allergy sufferers, because as long as they’re wiped down regularly they’re less likely than swathes of fabric to attract dust mites,” she adds. “Tier-on-tier styles, where the top half operates separately from the bottom, offers privacy while still allowing light to flood in from the top.”

TIP: Summer brings longer days and shorter nights, so fitting a blind with a dim-out or black-out fabric is a good solution for restful sleep, especially in children’s rooms. Many Hillarys fabric blinds, roller, pleated, vertical and Roman, have special sun-reflecting features (Blackout Roller Blind from £108).

summer style trends 2019

5. Turn it tropical

“We’re great fans of the sultry colonial aesthetic – tropical birds, hibiscus flowers, fresh palms and bright ferns are key elements in creating this look,” says Georgia Metcalfe, founder and creative director, The French Bedroom Company.

“This on-trend look combines perfectly with furniture of all styles from classic to contemporary, for a style that is reminiscent of holidays, summer, jungle-freshness and nature – all things that make our hearts sing!”

summer style trends 2019

6. Let it grow

“Fresh green foliage and plants are the ideal way to bring an outdoor, summery feel to a room, and living wall planters have to be one of our favourite finds in recent years,” enthuses Claire Bishop, from garden centre specialists, Dobbies.

“They were incredibly popular at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show and the finished look is hugely Pinterest-worthy. A ‘vertical garden’ gives you a statement focal point – you could have a kitchen herb garden or a leafy living room jungle feature – and because they come in sets of three ‘pockets’, they can be tailored to suit your space.”

TIP: “These are quick and easy to fit and simple to use, even if you’re not very green-fingered, and as they’re vertical they take up little space,” promises Bishop. “Simply water the top row of the living wall and this will cascade down to water every pot.”

summer style trends 2019

7. Conjure a summer spot

Rearrange furniture for summer and position it to take advantage of any sunlight coming into a room, so you have your very own corner where you can stretch out and bask on hot days.

“We all like a special place at home where we can kick back, put our feet up and enjoy lazing on summer days,” says Charlie Marshall, founder of furniture company, Loaf.

“Colour choices play a big part in the atmosphere of a room. While light, pastel tones always work well, recently there’s been a big move towards zingier, bright statement shades – yellow, orange and pink – as people become more adventurous about decor. Demand for yellow upholstery is up 64% this year, and this colour’s brilliant way to give a room a visual lift and can’t fail to cheer a space on a dull day.”

TIP: Turn an awkward space – a corner or under a window – into a mini-retreat by building a simple wooden bench. Make it comfortable with foam seat cushions covered in your favourite fabric.

Dream of Owning a Walk-in Wardrobe? Here’s How to Make it Happen

walk in wardrobe ideas

As far as home-improvements go, walk-in closets are certainly a luxury - but that doesn't mean you can't seriously consider it. By Luke Rix-Standing.

walk in wardrobe ideas

When considering a property, for most of us, walk-in closets are probably not at the forefront of our minds. Not that we don’t like the idea of them – but they’ve traditionally been seen as a luxury few can afford, more fit for a Great Gatsby adaption or the castle of a Bond villain.

Creating that walk-in wardrobe of dreams, however, might be a lot more doable than you think. It’s a great option for making use of a small space, whether it’s a neglected cubby or an unused ‘spare room’ that’s really not at all big enough for anything else.

We’ve pulled together few tips to get you started, from the flagrantly flat-pack to the outrageously opulent…

walk in wardrobe ideas

Start with a sartorial stocklist

If you’re considering a walk-in closet, make sure it’s for the right reasons. Generally speaking, this is about something you really want personally, rather than adding value. “When adding value to a property, every square-foot counts,” says Julian Prieto, CEO of property renovation and refurbishment specialists, EDGE2 Properties (myedge2.com). “And in the UK, real estate is about how many bedrooms and bathrooms you’ve got. This kind of project is usually for assets people want to live in for 10 or 20 years.”

Walk-in closets are generally purpose-built and vary enormously based on space, budget and need. There is no catalogue case study or IKEA starter-pack that can construct a walk-in closet over a weekend – you’re going to have to think carefully about what will best work for you. This will determine the design of the space.

“Rule number one is to understand your own wardrobe,” says Prieto. “You need to be able to plan your walk-in closet around what you have and what space you need to allocate.”

A working professional might prioritise clothes rails for hanging suits and shirts, for example, while an avid shoe collector may want a pull-out shoe rack, or perhaps an area of cubby holes for artful storage.

If you’re going to go to the trouble of building a walk-in wardrobe, it needs to perform perfectly, and empty space will likely ruin the aesthetic. Resist the temptation to go overboard on baskets, drawers and other accoutrements – the majority of wardrobes will need to maximise hanging space.

walk in wardrobe ideas

Consider how to make best use of the space

Now you know what your room needs to accommodate, it’s time to go about fitting it into the available space. This will be slightly different for everyone, but unless you’re a rich list regular or minor royal (“I’ve built closets at around 300-square metres,” says Prieto), we’re assuming it won’t be particularly big.

“There are some rules of thumb when it comes to small spaces,” says Prieto. “I would always suggest using just one wall and leaving the opposite side free – if there are two sides that are too close to each other, you won’t be able to see your own clothes. If that’s not an option, I suggest an L-shape, taking up one side and the front.”

Rather than using up floor area, the key is to maximise vertical space – large wooden units with compartments can help utilise every inch, stretching from floor to ceiling. Mirrors are the oldest trick in the book for doubling visual space, and putting one on the far wall allows you to preen and pose from any part of the room.

Unless you’re victim to a major moth problem, consider going door-less. “That’s why it’s called a walk-in closet,” says Prieto, “so you can walk in and see all your clothes at once. If you can afford it, you could put in glass sliding doors – they open sideways, so don’t get in the way when you access your garments.”

walk in wardrobe ideas

Don’t rush the planning

Walk-in closets may sound like the preserve of the rich and famous, but they can be as simple as shelving units lined against a wall. To do-it-yourself, the proof is in the planning – working out dimensions and carefully apportioning space.

“It can be quite fun,” says Prieto, “and shouldn’t take more than two weeks to put together. The planning should take longer – when you get into that room, you need to know exactly what you’re doing.”

If you go bespoke, you’re entering a brave new world of opportunity – and of cost. Prieto says a small, simple closet tends to start at around £2,000, while those at the pinnacle of high-end can check in at £65,000-£70,000. “We’re talking 300-square metres, bespoke furnishings, good carpets and a chandelier in the middle,” he says. “Everything done down to the last detail.”

walk in wardrobe ideas

The ‘ultimate luxury’

Of course, if you have a bank vault to rival that of Scrooge McDuck, then your options are almost limitless. “Hidden safes are common for high-end customers,” says Prieto. “Recently, I was asked to put a jewellery safe hidden in the space between wardrobes. It was supposed to open vertically with a key card – when she said she wanted it, I had to ask if she’d seen it somewhere because I didn’t know where to go for it. We had to get it from Switzerland and it took four months and £25,000 just to fit it. I thought it was bonkers!”

That sort of scenario might be totally unrelatable for most of us, but with a bit of planning and imagination, a walk-in closet could be an achievable goal.

“It’s the ultimate luxury – but you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg,” says Prieto. “Research what you need, take stock of what you have, and measure the space you’ll be fitting. That’s all you need to do.”

walk in wardrobe ideas

Hanging Basket Masterclass: Here’s how to Make the Best Flower Display in 8 Easy Steps

best hanging baskets

It's time to create a riot of colour with hanging baskets. Hannah Stephenson tries a masterclass to learn the secrets of success.


So often my hanging baskets end up looking lacklustre and forlorn, with gaps where filler plants should have gone, holes in my moss liners and a lack of regular watering.


However, expert Nathan Syrett, assistant plant manager at Squire’s Garden Centres, has been running hanging basket masterclasses at its Stanmore store for a number of years, and offers the following advice to hanging basket hopefuls (including me)…

best hanging baskets

1. Choose the right materials and plants

Go for the biggest basket you can, as this will hold more compost and require slightly less watering than smaller baskets. Metal-framed baskets are ideal, but you will have to line them.

Various water-retaining liners include coir and sphagnum moss, although you can even cut up an old woolly jumper to line a basket, which will soak up the water and keep in the compost.

If using moss (which you can buy at garden centres), use long strands of it laid laterally across the inside of the basket, working from the bottom, so the moss does not escape out of the holes.

Build the lining up in circles until it reaches the top of the basket, and lift it up to make sure you can’t see any gaps.

best hanging baskets

2. Make a reservoir

Cut a small circle of plastic from your compost bag to make a reservoir in the bottom of your liner, to hold just enough water to keep the compost moist, while still allowing free drainage at the sides.

best hanging baskets

3. Add your compost

Multipurpose compost, preferably the sort which has added plant food, is ideal, although you will still have to feed your basket plants during the summer, bearing in mind how many of the nutrients will be washed away when you’re constantly watering. When you reach the top of the basket, firm the compost down so there are no air holes.

best hanging baskets

4. Choose your plants

If you want your basket to be admired from all sides, choose one larger plant to put in the centre, such as an upright fuchsia or geranium, and select around five other plants to place around it.

These could range from trailing petunias and calibrachoa, to bacopa, lobelia, nemesia, diascia and helichrysum, although there are many other suitable plants available.

best hanging baskets

5. Position the tall and the small

Try positioning your chosen plants on top of the compost before planting, so you can decide which looks best where. Make sure your gaps are even when placing the outer plants.

Usually the tallest plant will go in the centre, surrounded by the lower trailers, which need to be planted closer to the edge, but if your basket is going to face in a particular direction, put the biggest plant at the back and the lower trailers in front of it.

To minimise any damage when planting, remove each plant from its pot and use the pot alone as the planting template, easing it down into the planting hole to make it the right size. Then your plant will slot right in.

Cover it with the compost you removed to make space for the hole. Repeat using the plant pot template until all your plants are in.

best hanging baskets

6. Hang it up

Hang up your basket on a wall bracket or other hook or frame (some hanging baskets are really heavy, so make sure your bracket is secured tightly and is strong enough to take the weight).

best hanging baskets

7. Be waterwise

Water your basket well using a watering can rose. That way, the water will seep into the compost to reach your plants, rather than running straight through it.

best hanging baskets

8. Keep it healthy

Keep your basket well watered. In the height of summer you’ll need to do it twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Feed your basket bedding plants regularly with either plant food or tomato food, following the instructions on the packet, and deadhead often to encourage further blooms.

Squire’s Garden Centres are holding Large Summer Basket Masterclasses on Friday, May 17. Tickets cost £25. For details visit squiresgardencentres.co.uk

8 Cracking Ways to Set the Scene for Easter

easter decorating

Planning some Easter entertaining? Gabrielle Fagan reveals simple decor displays and finishing touches to bring the occasion to life.

It’s time to get all your chicks in a row for Easter, with some truly egg-cellent decor!

A holiday gathering will be much more memorable with a cheerful springtime table setting, with plenty of seasonal touches to bring it to life – from pretty hanging eggs on a tree, to colourful wreaths and, of course, a sprinkling of cute, decorative creatures, be it bunnies or chicks.

Style it out and that setting’s sure to be Insta-worthy, promises Rebecca Stanton, a stylist and visual merchandiser at Dobbies.

“Easter decorating includes some of my favourite styling elements, including pretty pastels, blooming bouquets and fresh foliage,” she says. “A mix of candy-coloured decorations will bring a table to life, especially with the addition of miniature chicks and Easter bunnies to set the tone for the occasion.

“Nothing says springtime like a bunch of gorgeous tulips, helping bring a touch of the outside in,” Stanton adds. “Frankly, you can never have too many flowers!”

easter decorating

1. Branch out for that finishing touch

Time was, decorated trees were just for Christmas – but they’re rapidly becoming an essential ingredient for Easter decor too.

“Within the home, an Easter tree is an eye-catching statement piece which can be dressed up or down, depending on your style,” says Lisa Rutherford, stationery and seasonal events buyer at John Lewis.

“They’re becoming ever-more popular. A small collection of hanging eggs can look beautiful and under-stated. If a full-sized tree isn’t for you, consider a smaller table-top tree version, or just a simple collection of branches in a vase with a few ornaments for a mini display.”

easter decorating

2. Keep it cute

Hop to it and gather a collection of chicks and bunnies, which children will love but can also be all you need to pay a subtle nod to the season.

Hang several on a wire across a window frame or mirror (double the visual impact), or hang individually on cupboard handles or from a pendant light above the table.

easter decorating

3. Crack a top table display

“A meal, and the table setting, is at the centre of many Easter celebrations,” says Rutherford. “It’s worth investing in the ingredients for a scheme which you can use again. Consider following a colour scheme – yellow or zingy green are both top choices for a crisp, fresh look.

“Whether you want something fun and functional, maybe a grass table runner and a line of tiny pots of faux daffodils, or a little more sophistication using pastels and muted florals, your table offers a space to be creative and playful. It doesn’t need to be over-elaborate to be successful.” John Lewis has a Talking Tables Grass Table Runner, £18, and Artificial Daffodils in Kraft Wrap, £4, which would be ideal.

easter decorating

4. Treat the table

Splurge on a few new pieces of Easter-inspired homeware to give a table setting a lift, or to decorate a mantel or shelf. They may be just the finishing touches you need.

If that’s beyond the budget, with all those chocolate treats to pay for, simply fill a clear glass bowl full of eggs (traditionally, real eggs are hard boiled and dyed with food colouring) and place in the centre of the table, or opt for a simple spring bouquet from the garden.

For a quick fix: Use a ribbon or twine to tie a hanging decoration to each napkin and personalise with a label displaying each guest’s name.

easter decorations

5. Hunt down style

Easter wouldn’t be the same without an egg hunt – after all, you don’t want to be responsible for making the Easter bunny redundant! Pop up a sign, scatter some artificial eggs, and have chocolate treats as prizes.

easter decorating

6. Bring in nature

Nature’s waking up after winter, with blossom and new growth galore – a beautiful feature of the season. Reflect that indoors too, with floral wreaths and garlands (faux ones are so good nowadays, it’s hard to distinguish them from the real thing). Hang on a door or wall, or use as a table focal point.

easter decorating

7. Create a stunning centrepiece

What you need:

4 birch branches; twine; seasonal flowers and foliage (such as eucalyptus, ivy, mimosa or forsythia); six decorated Easter eggs or Easter chocolates; two large cup hooks.

How to do it:

  • Lay the four birch branches on a large flat surface and loosely arrange them parallel to each other, with a gap of approximately 3-4cm between each.
  • Wind twine several times around an outer branch. Leave a length of 3-4cm of twine and then wind around the next branch and so on, until you get to the far side and the branches are all connected. Do this 20-30cm in from each end of the display.
  • Gather your chosen foliage and flowers together in two loose bunches and bind their stems. Lay each bunch on top of the birch branches with the bound stems overlapping in the middle. Tuck the bound ends into the opposite bunch to hide untidy ends.
  • Tie lengths of twine to your Easter eggs, ready for hanging. Hang your birch branches and foliage from the ceiling with cup hooks and twine, then tie on your Easter eggs in varying positions and at different heights. Tweak the arrangement of the foliage or add more, once the centrepiece is in place, to achieve the look you want.
easter decorating

8. Enter into the spirit of Easter

Don’t confine decoration to inside the house – wreaths hung on a front door, or a tub of spring flowers in a porch makes an attractive, welcoming touch, and will hint at more decor treats inside.

About to be a First Time Parent like Meghan and Harry? 5 tips for Baby-Proofing your Home

From stair gates to non-slip mats and locking the oven, there's lots you can do to make your home more baby-friendly.

baby proofing your home

One can only imagine the challenges involved in baby-proofing a royal residence. Fitting stairwells with the world’s widest baby gates; locking down toilet seats in 78 separate bathrooms – well, Buckingham Palace has 78, but the Duke and Duchess of Sussex won’t have quite that many to contend with, when they take their baby back to their new home in Windsor.

baby proofing your home

Still, whether you’re a royal or a regular Joe, baby-proofing your home for new arrivals can be a pretty big task. Your little prince or princess might spend all day, every day snoozing at first – but they’ll soon hit curious mode, wanting to clamber on, poke and explore everything possible.

“More than a million children are taken to hospital every year in the UK because of accidents in the home,” says Lorna Marsh, senior editor and parenting expert at BabyCentre. “Falls are the most common accidents, and you need to minimise hazards before your baby starts crawling.”

So where to start? Here are five tips for ensuring your home is a baby-friendly zone…

baby proofing your home

1. Prepare early

A couple of points to note up front: First of all, no amount of baby-proofing can substitute for watchful supervision, so don’t let gadgets lull you into a false sense of security. Many a baby gate has been scaled by an enterprising infant, and some youngsters make a habit of turning up in unexpected places.

Secondly, it’s never too early to start thinking about baby-proofing. Young children tend to grow alarmingly quickly and by the time they’re crawling, you want to be confident with your new safety features. Getting the job done is much simpler when you’re not knee-deep in nappies and battling sleepless nights, so it’s a good idea all round to prepare early.

Before you begin, it’s worth getting on your hands and knees to get a child’s eye view of your home. Are there any edges or corners that look threatening, or furniture that’s invitingly climbable? Silly though it may sound, this is a worthy way to identify potential trouble spots before your child starts to explore.

baby proofing your home

2. Consider how things look from toddler height

Start with the big stuff. Any furniture that can topple (bookcases, we’re looking at you), should be fastened to the wall securely with furniture straps or brackets, while tall, unstable lamps should ideally be removed. Attach cushioned corner protectors to desks and coffee tables to avoid painful bumps and bangs.

“A new arrival means you’ll see your home in a whole new light,” says Marsh. “Things that you took no notice of before suddenly become a potential danger.” Cupboards should be sorted into safe and not-safe, and the latter latched with baby locks.

There are some obvious things to keep out of reach – knives, medicines, cleaning products and so on – but even apparently innocuous items can represent a risk if not considered carefully. House plants, for example, can be poisonous if nibbled on, and even the harmless ones are often potted in earth or dirt that might look appetising to a curious bub.

Beware the chest of drawers – you may think it’s a safe place for your unsecured television to sit on, but adventurous children use drawers for climbing practice, and anything heavy on top can topple off, potentially ending in serious trauma.

baby proofing your home

3. Make stairs and windows safe

If there are stairs in your home, baby gates are essential – consider installing one at the top and bottom of the stairs. It only takes a second for a littl’un to scale a set of steps!

Window blind cords can be particularly dangerous for children and must never be overlooked. “Replace corded window blinds with cordless ones,” says Marsh, “and put stickers on glass doors to make them visible to your child. Fit window locks, and never open them wide enough for a crawling baby to get out.”

Electrical cables represent trip, choke and entanglement hazards for small children, so use cord holders to fasten them to the walls.

baby proofing your home

4. Check every room

Once you’ve dealt with the basics, give your whole house a systematic sweep. Different dwellings pose different dangers, and the only way to know that you’ve got everything is to take a proper stock-check yourself.

The bathroom is one of the most perilous places for a tot who’s just finding their feet. An infant can drown in just 5cm of water, so invest in a baby bath seat and never, ever leave a bathing baby unsupervised. Toilet seat locks are a must too, and you can prevent scalding by adding soft covers on bath taps and spouts. Wobbly babies and slippery surfaces don’t mix, so put down some non-slip mats in tiled areas.

The kitchen is also high on the danger-o-meter. Avoid place mats and tablecloths on dining tables (an inquisitive child will tug on them, and bring the table’s contents crashing down), and make sure your oven is always safely locked, with covers on anything likely to get hot to the touch.

Sitting rooms can be deceptively hazardous, especially those with fireplaces. “Fit smoke alarms and keep a fire extinguisher nearby if you have a fireplace,” says Marsh. “By law, you must have a fireguard, and keep matches and lighters out of your child’s reach.

“In the bedroom, make sure your baby’s cot or Moses basket is sleep-safe,” she adds. “And, if you have a cat, put a cat net over [the baby’s bed].”

baby proofing your home

5. Think about how you’re using your home too

Making alternations is vital – but think about how you’re doing things around the home too. Is there a more child and baby-safe way to adapt everyday tasks?

For example, cook on the wall-side hobs if you have them (they’re further from reach!), and keep kitchen appliances away from children where possible. “Keep mugs of hot drinks away from edges,” adds Marsh. “And when cooking, make sure that the handles of saucepans are turned away from the edge.”

Be sure to unplug appliances like irons (we should all be doing this anyway!), and remember that visitors to your home may not be holding their habits to the same standards.

Be careful what you throw away too, as some babies are relentless scavengers. “Old batteries, plastic bags and sharp objects should be discarded safely,” says Marsh. Toys like Lego are well-established choking hazards, and the same goes for items like marbles, coins and paperclips.

“Keep plastic bags, including nappy bags, well out of reach of your child,” she adds, “and make sure pens, scissors, letter openers, staplers and other sharp instruments are kept in locked drawers.”

Even when they’re clear of all apparent danger, crawling children are still wiping their mitts on the floor, so it’s important to keep a hygienic home too. If you don’t already, enforce a no-shoes policy inside the house, and clean regularly to keep your surfaces germ-free (you don’t need a gleaming show home, of course – we’re just talking about getting the important basics done).