6 Alternative Christmas Trees For Small Spaces

alternative Christmas trees

Hannah Stephenson shares some dinky options for space-starved homes - or anyone who can't face the faff of a full-size tree.

Bit short of space? Can’t fit a big Christmas tree into your home, but still want something natural-looking to replace it?

Well, good news. There are wall hangings, houseplants and smaller potted trees that’ll do the job nicely and bring some festive sparkle into your home, even if you live in the smallest space with just a little walk-round room.

So, what are the options?

alternative Christmas trees

1. Nordic Rope Ladder Hanging Christmas Tree, £20, notonthehighstreet.com

A minimalist yet rustic alternative to the classic Christmas tree, this hanging tree is only 80cm tall and can be tucked up neatly against a wall. Add baubles of your choice and drape it with fairy lights to bring it to life. A great choice for those with very tight space to work with, anyone who can’t ‘cope’ with pine needles – or to decorate other areas of the home.

The wooden slats are rounded natural twigs from the bayur tree, making all of these unique.

alternative Christmas trees

2. Mini Letterbox Christmas Tree, from £32, BloomAndWild.com

A survey commissioned by Bloom & Wild found that people are downsizing their trees in a bid to cut down on costs and needle dropping – with 79% of those quizzed saying they’re opting for a smaller tree this year, while 65% of millennials will be buying a cheaper option, without sacrificing the ‘Instagram-worthy’ tradition of buying one completely.

Their mini letterbox trees, which are real and rooted, arrive with decorations, lights and a pop-up pot in a letterbox-fitting box, and can be planted in the garden after Christmas.

alternative Christmas trees

3. Mini Christmas Tree Trio, £25, Marks and Spencer

If you only have space to spare on your windowsill, this trio of frosted mini trees, in winter embossed tin containers, would make a classy edition. You’ll ideally need to place them in a cool position with some natural light and, while they’re fine kept indoors for a few weeks, after that you’ll need to move them outdoors if you want them to survive, and plant them either in a patio container or the garden. Once you’ve done that, they should continue to thrive (you’ll want to make sure the compost never totally dries out but don’t let the tree get waterlogged either, and adding some plant food to their water between late spring and early autumn is advised).

alternative Christmas trees

4. Houseplants (Luxury Basket £30), Wyevale Garden Centres

Who says it has to be a Christmas tree? There are other ways to bring some festive greenery into the home, including houseplants. If you have the space, consider gathering some houseplants together, with some white specimens, such as orchids and lilies, to create a ‘frosted’ look. You could also go for a red and green arrangement to give a room a traditional festive feel, and go as big or small as you like.

alternative Christmas trees

5. Plant Terrarium, £66.99, crocus.co.uk

Terrariums have become the must-have addition to living areas, and if you haven’t the space for a tree then you could consider planting a feast of festive plants in one of these glass enclosures instead, which should keep going beyond New Year.

Once you’ve had enough of them, you can easily change the style by swapping in new plants next year. This one’s produced from sheet glass and brass, with an antique bronze finish.

alternative Christmas trees

6. Pot-grown Tree, from £20, Wyevale Garden Centres

Eco-friendly gardeners may prefer a smaller version of the traditional Christmas tree. They can look superb – and this one is pot-grown, so can be planted in the garden afterwards.

Boxing Day due to be the next big property search event

boxing day go image

According to Rightmove there was a 200% spike in traffic between Boxing Day and 2nd January in 2018, suggesting an uplift in house buyer searches online on Boxing Day. This  is why McCarthy Holden are offering a special incentive to join the next big event in property.

Boxing Day Go Event

During November and December all a would-be house seller has to do is instruct McCarthy Holden to offer their property for sale from Boxing Day.

You can indulge in all of the traditional Boxing Day activities, happy in the knowledge that house buyers are tapping on mobile devices searching for the right property and, who knows, your house could be top of their list for viewing in the New Year.

Many of our clients have already asked to go live on the Boxing Day Go property launch, so if you are contemplating a house move in 2019 then go to our home page and click on valuation, for a free property appraisal and discover the benefits of being part of the no sale no fee and no obligation Boxing Day Go property event.

More Buyers and Tenants See Property Video Marketing

It is widely believed that video content in online marketing will increase the number of views of a product, or in this case a property, by up to 25%.

Today, the video revolution has well and truly arrived with 80% of internet users stating that they remember watching a video and its content for at least 30 days, and with 100 million internet users watching online video each and every day.

sold in 2018 using professional video, which was viewed 544 times

So it’s perhaps not surprising that in 2018 McCarthy Holden sold or let fine homes, against the backdrop of a challenging market especially in the £1.5m. to £4m. sector. Some of the fine homes we showcased are shown in this article.

With property searching more likely than not starting on a mobile phone, video content is a must have part of the property marketing mix.

Here at McCarthy Holden we make sure we film, promote and market a property to the broadest possible audience. From thirty second preview videos for use on our web site and social media, through to our big production four minute videos with professional presenters we ensure that our clients will get noticed with more clicks and engagement online.

sold in 2018 using professional video, which was viewed 522 times

Its a fact that people who have seen a video of a clients house, and then come for a viewing are far more likely to make an offer than people who have only seen standard information on Rightmove or Primelocation for example.

sold in Fleet, Hampshire using professional video, which was viewed 454 times

Every picture tells a story and we can now showcase more features about quality property than ever before. With the use of broadcast quality filming, professional presenters and editing with music etc., we produce informative property video tours designed to make our clients property stand out and be noticed above all others.

Creating professional video content is normally done by johnjoe.co.uk, and the photograph, video capture and editing take three tays to complete.

let in 2018 using professional video, which was viewed 935 times.

If you are selling or letting a property and would like the benefits of professional video marketing, then go to our home page and click on valuation for a free no obligation property appraisal.

Historic Mill House – Sale agreed November 2018

Let in the £7,000 to £10,000 p.c.m. sector, using preview video tour

A Room Without a View: How Windows Can Transform Your World

fake windows home

You can even add the sounds of birdsong. But always check the weather forecast, says Luke Rix-Standing.

In the modern home, we have – in many ways – embraced the idea of fakeness. Fake leather covers our sofas, our fireplaces are warmed by fake fires, our window sills decorated with fake pot plants.

Of course, there is a limit to what aspects of a home can be fictionalised. You can’t buy a fake fridge or washing machine, and you can’t fake a toilet for, well, obvious reasons.

But you can now fake a window, and it’s becoming increasingly popular to do so. Here’s why – and how you can try the trend, too.

fake windows home

Fake for purpose

Fake windows are examples of ‘biophilic design’ – products that tap into our innate affinity with the natural world, and imitate positive stimuli, like greenery and natural light.

As far back as the 1980s, studies suggested that well-lit rooms and large windows tend to increase the welfare of their occupants. While a 2014 study found that windowless rooms helped contribute to stress, anxiety and poor sleeping patterns.

Naturally, fake windows aren’t always a good fit (you won’t need one in a glass-glazed penthouse). But, in poky office interiors and dark, dismal basements, any window – even a fake one – can provide respite from the gloom.

Fake windows can brighten these rooms with tropical splendour, dazzling seascapes or any woodland of their choice. It’s not quite the same as the real thing, but they can do a surprisingly good job of echoing the more expansive feel of the great outdoors.

More complex fake windows are even considered a boon for late-stage dementia. The fake ‘exterior’ can often be changed at will, and this can help patients feel an affinity with the outside world, maintain their sleep cycles, and stay connected with the passage of time.

fake windows home

A window of opportunity

Unhampered by the need to show the actual outside, fake windows come in a near-infinite array of shapes, sizes and prices, from £10 posters to sophisticated LED displays worth thousands.

Companies such as Icon Wall Stickers sell ready-made ‘window posters’, depicting natural scenes with a visual depth that helps elongate a room. And even people that would lose a fight with a flat pack wardrobe can knock together something themselves. Just pick a picture of your preferred scenery and construct your very own made-to-order window frame out of wood or polystyrene.

If you’re a talented artist, paint yourself a personalised horizon, or – if you’re not – ask somebody else to do it for you. Score extra points by fashioning a set of shutters, and attaching them with hinges.

fake windows home

A multi-sensory experience

Some manufacturers have taken fake windows into the digital age, and a few well-placed LEDs can illuminate your window with a warmth akin to a sunlit glow.

Add a conventional pair of curtains, and enjoy the classic sunshine-through-the-window feel of a nice weekend lie-in, whatever time you’re getting up.

Top-of-the-range models come complete with moving backgrounds – each babbling brook or rustling tree closely choreographed to feel relaxing and real. Sky Inside UK offers plenty of options – as well as a range of skylights, in which slowly swirling clouds gradually give way to a hemisphere of stars.

Aside from its domestic clients, Sky Inside has been catering to hospitals, office blocks, and even prisons – labyrinthine structures in need of an injection of light and tranquillity. One success story involved a prison pharmacy – a dank and dimly-lit room which dealt regularly with inmates in distress.

Before installation, each inmate would be accompanied by two police officers; now one officer can escort multiple prisoners at once.

fake windows home

For the height of windowless luxury, keep an eye on Panasonic’s new prototype, the +Window, mid-development by its Future Life Factory. Product demos feature light settings that mimic six distinct weather patterns akin to the Hogwarts Great Hall, the sound of birds tweeting, and a fan calibrated to recreate the gentle caress of a summer breeze.

Just remember to check the weather forecast before you step outside. No amount of LEDs can protect you from the great British weather.

Fed Up With Smog? 5 Pollution-Resistant Plants to Help you Breathe

As the government pledges the funding of millions of trees in cities to ease pollution, an expert offers a guide to 5 smog-resistant plants.

pollution resistant plants

The government is proposing to fund the planting of millions of trees to boost housing prices in cities, to improve green spaces and help preserve the environment, gardeners can also do their bit by planting pollution-resistant plants.

David Mitchell, buying manager for horticulture at Wyevale Garden Centres, says: “Plants do have a hard time with pollution. Since the leaves need to ‘breathe’, anything that limits that exchange, such as airborne gasses or if the pores are blocked by dust and grime, will limit their potential.

“Fruit trees in particular can struggle and yields can be as low as half of what they would be in cleaner air.”

Here are five of his favourite pollution-tolerant plants and how to care for them…

pollution resistant plants

1. Pyrus calleryana ‘Chanticleer’

This ornamental pear is an exceptionally good tree for small urban gardens, with its upright, narrow shape and branches that are smothered with white blossom early in spring (April to May).

The leaves turn a vibrant red and purple in the autumn before falling and some years, the tree will produce small inedible brown fruits. It does best in moist but well drained soil (clay, sand or loam) and in full sun.

pollution resistant plants

2. Buddleia

Known as the butterfly bush, Buddleia produces clusters of deep scented flowers from midsummer into autumn. Rich in nectar, this fast-growing, hardy deciduous shrub attracts butterflies, bees and other insects, and thrives in any well-drained soil (chalk, loam or sand).

pollution resistant plants

3. Camellia

Producing rich, colourful flowers with ruffled petals and golden stamens in late winter into spring (February to April), which are offset by glossy evergreen leaves, the camellia proves that beautiful plants can also be tolerant to pollution.

Plant in light shade, in shelter, and in moist but well-drained, humus-rich, lime-free soil (loam) or in a container, in ericaceous (lime-free) compost.

pollution resistant plants

4. Buxus sempervirens

This classic British native evergreen is ideal for low hedging, boundaries or divisions in formal gardens in both modern and traditional settings.

It responds well to being trimmed and thrives in the shade, and most well-drained soils (chalk, loam or sand). It’s excellent for growing in containers, as topiary and for training as feature plants.

pollution resistant plants

5. Berberis

This easy-to-grow barberry has spiny shoots and simple leaves. Soft yellow or orange flowers appear in spring (April to May) and are followed by small berries in the autumn. This deciduous or evergreen shrub will succeed in a wide range of conditions. Plant in full sun or partial shade in well-drained humus-rich soil (chalk, loam or sand), although it will be tolerant of most soils as long as they are reasonably well-drained.

Destination Style – 3 Expert Takes on the Nomadic Lifestyle

Feeling adventurous? Gabrielle Fagan reveals three routes for channeling nomadic travel-inspired themes.

Interior design nomadic lifestyle

Some trends suit those who like to play it safe, but ‘Nomadic Modern’ certainly isn’t one of them. This is a decor direction for those who want to push the creative boundaries, are open to inspirations from all over the world, and love curating their exotic treasures into schemes which ooze personality.

Tempted? There are three key routes available if you want to journey to this style destination, and join the nomadic decor tribe.

If you’re an intrepid adventurer, show off your souvenirs in a colourful, quirky way with a dash of bohemian, or simply but subtly pick up on tribal patterns and layer them set against an earthy rich colour palette. Alternatively, the stay-at-home but stylish could opt for a sophisticated, uber-contemporary scheme that just hints at global glamour.

Interior design nomadic lifestyle

Be adventurous and take a style journey!

Just follow the experts’ simple guide to joining the global gang…

Let textiles tell a faraway story, says Wayfair stylist Nadia McCowan Hill

“If one word defines this trend, it’s textiles, textiles, textiles! From chunky Moroccan pouffes to scatter cushions in tribal prints, woven accessories are the surest way to bring to life the nomadic look,” enthuses Nadia McCowan Hill, resident style advisor at Wayfair.

“Don’t be afraid of vibrant hues or colour-clashing, as this trend is reserved for the bold. Bear in mind though, that the look should be eclectic and fresh, rather than rigidly devoted to a single style. Accents of metallics, such as a golden sunburst mirror or a bronze or copper lantern or tray, can add an essential touch of glamour and richness.”

Abundant greenery is an essential finishing touch, adds McCowan Hill, who suggests lavishing a home with luscious foliage, from elegant palms to trailing hanging plants.

TRIBAL TIP: This is a great opportunity to show off your most prized treasures. Dig out trinkets and reminders of long-forgotten trips and display on a striking decorative tray or coffee table.

Interior design nomadic lifestyle

Take it tribal, says designer Abigail Ahern

“I’m a big fan of nomadic style because it’s unconventional, artistic and relaxed,” declares designer Abigail Ahern, who has a new collection of curtains and cushions for windows and blinds specialists, Hillarys.

“All it takes are three simple steps to pull it off. First, mix in tribal patterns in small ways through curtains, blinds, cushions, accessories. These are the hallmark of this style and I tend to plump for subdued hues, like super-cool noirs, browns and olives.”

Secondly, she suggests, introduce an infusion of natural and raw materials, such as wood, rattan and hemp – think baskets, rugs, planters and foot stools. Finally, she adds: “Use vintage pieces as an interesting and unique mix, especially if you keep the palette restrained so that it unifies the scheme.”

If too many cushions cramp your seating or sleeping style, take a tip from Ahern’s home and display them hooked on a metal rail, rather like jewellery for the home.

TRIBAL TIP: Accessories are the equivalent of a five-minute facelift for decor and one of the easiest ways to turn rooms around, notes Ahern. “Cushions are a game-changer, especially on beds and sofas,” she says. “Even better if they’re embellished with fringing, as it shouts instant nomadic style.”

Interior design nomadic lifestyle

Get earthy says Kris Manalo, upholstery buyer at Heal’s

“This look allows people to truly explore, and have the freedom to create their own style,” says Kris Manalo, upholstery buyer at Heal’s. “The nomadic trend fuses influences from every corner of the globe, to capture a wonderful sense of warmth, comfort and style. Capture elements of it by layering earthy, terracotta tones against refined neutrals,” she suggests.

“Bring personality with bold tribal prints and rich, wooden finishes. Pair vintage pieces with contemporary updates for an added layer of interest, and for a distinctively personal touch, look for hand-crafted accessories, which will give an organic sense of individuality to a room.”

TRIBAL TIP: Style with luxury materials – buttery leathers, knubbly knitted throws and cashmere cushions are ideal – to create a cosy, intimate and sophisticated sanctuary.

Interior design nomadic lifestyle

Rental Boost £7,000 to £10,000 p.c.m.

Uplift in activity for high end rentals outside of London

High end rental property

During 2018 there has been a notable uplift in activity for high end rentals outside of London, especially from our perspective on the Berkshire / Hampshire borders.

Recent properties taken to the rental market in the £7,000 to £10,000 p.c.m. sector have seen rental offers from multiple tenants, so what’s driving this demand?

With residential house sales sub £2.0m. seemingly trading well as we approach the close of 2018, the over £2.0m. sector is still on the quiet side, with a number of high end house buyers deciding to pop into a property rental for the next year or so, using the stamp duty funds they would have allocated on a property purchase around £2.0m. or more, to pay for the property rental instead of going into the Government coffers by way of stamp duty (about £154,000 at £2.0m. and £274,000 at £3.0m.).

Take the property shown above, which is a typical example of a fine home that recently went to the rental market and discovered interest and offers from multiple potential tenants.

The medium term outlook for top end rentals is positive, and for home owners selling in the £2.0m. to £5.0m. sector there could be good news post Brexit, because the level of hot buyers in rental property looking to exit and buy will be at a good level.

The news for house sellers is that you can and will sell successfully in today’s market, but don’t expect a fancy or inflated price.

Large house price gains are gone for a while, but like all markets when they rebound from a low they come back with a sharp and fast uptake. Savvy buyers know this and are taking care of business now. The hot houses sales market post Brexit could be the £2m. to £5m. sector. In the meantime home owners with such luxury property, in prime real estate areas such as Finchampstead in Berkshire, can take time out from selling and enjoy some extra dividends in the rental market.

If you would like to know more about the market for rental property in the £7,000 to £10,000 p.c.m. sector, do email Nicola Bremner nbremner@mccarthyholden.co.uk

Nicola Bremner Residential Lettings Director
Nicola Bremner M.A.R.L.A. - Director McCarthy Holden

Considering a village life for retirement? Look no further than Hartley Wintney

Voted ‘Best Place to Live’ for 5 consecutive years, Hartley Wintney is the jewel in the crown for village life, with an active community and easy connections for travelling.

For anyone looking for a place to retire, Hartley Wintney has to be worth further exploration..

duck pond in Hartley Wintney photo copyright John Joe Photography
Photo of Hartley Wintney duck pond - picture copyright John Joe Photography and Video Production

This oversized village features five greens, two delightful duck ponds, an attractive High Street lined with period buildings, mostly dating from the 18th and 19th centuries when Hartley Wintney grew as a coaching stop on the London Road (aka A30), plus a scattering of barns, cottages and farmhouses from the 17th century.

High Street in Hartley Wintney photo copyright John Joe Photography
Photo of Hartley Wintney high street - picture copyright John Joe Photography and Video Production

Over time, the High Street has developed into a highly browsable shopping destination with a selection of fashion and interiors boutiques, galleries and antique shops. The recent addition of William Dyers amazing delicatessen offering everything from luxury cuts to a frozen dinner party has completed the luxury treats.

From a more practical and useful side, the  Whitewater Health doctors surgery is tucked just off the High Street and the village also offers a dentist and opticians.

duck pond in Hartley Wintney photo copyright Alamy
Photo of Hartley Wintney cricket green - picture copyright John Joe Photography and Video Production

The community is incredibly active and offers something for everyone, from cinema nights and plays at the Victoria and Jubilee Hall to plant sales and crafting with the local Womens Institute to the highly regarded Hartley Wintney Golf Club tucked just off the end of the High Street. One of the main focus areas of the village is Hartley Wintney Cricket Club, with their pitch just behind the High Street and with the obligatory pub next door.

Culturally, Hartley Wintney offers unlikely musical experiences – ranging from the sublime to the ridiculously fun. The former is the highly regarded opera season at West Green House; an 18th century country house known worldwide for its gardens. The latter is Lowde Fest at Hazeley Bottom: 11 hours’ non-stop live, food market and funfair.

Hartley Wintney photo copyright John Joe Photography
Photo of Hartley Wintney - picture copyright John Joe Photography and Video Production

There are a number of purpose built retirement schemes, all within easy access to the High Street and amenities and at a range of price points and size to suit different needs. To find out more please call the Hartley Wintney office on 01252 842100 to find out more.

Phil Spencer shares 5 questions all buyers should ask when house hunting

As a survey reveals many buyers wish they'd known more about their property, TV's Phil Spencer shares his expert tips.

Phil Spencer home buyer questions

Buying a property can be a very lengthy process with lots of back and forth – but many buyers still end up wishing they’d found out just a few more crucial details before the deal was finalised.

California Shutters (californiashutters.co.uk) recently asked 1000 UK homeowners what they most wished they’d known about before purchasing their property: Competition for parking spaces came out tops (20%), followed by noisy neighbours (19%), high renovation costs (13%) and traffic noise (11%).

Oliver Robertson at California Shutters comments: “With all the challenges and decisions to be made when finding and choosing a new home, it’s easy to forget about the little things that will impact on your home life day to day. Whilst our survey shows most movers have a good awareness of problems like damp and pests prior to moving in to a new home, they can still be caught off guard by other things such as having to fight for parking spaces or deal with noise from next door or traffic from the road.”

Phil Spencer home buyer questions

A similar survey of first-time buyers, by My Home Move Conveyancing, found that the level of work needed on the property was the most common thing buyers wished they’d been better informed about. How much this work would cost came out second.

“Aside from the cost of moving, making first-time buyers aware of the practical decisions they need to make when buying their first home will give them a better chance of being able to play the ‘property game’ long-term and benefit from being a homeowner,” says My Home Move Conveyancing CEO, Doug Crawford. “Our advice, and the advice of people that have already learnt these lessons, is to consider questions such as whether the property will increase in value, whether expensive DIY work is needed or whether your mortgage arrangement is going to work long-term.”

TV property guru Phil Spencer, who recently launched the advice site for buyers MoveIQ, agrees that as well as the ‘big’ questions, the ‘small’ things should not be overlooked. “Buying a home is always a mixture of heart and head. Your first impression as you walk through the door is crucial to your decision, but so too are many other less obvious factors,” says Spencer.

“It’s essential that you do your homework, or you risk being blinded by emotion during the purchase. Even worse, you could end up with expensive problems down the line. Asking the right questions before, during or after that first viewing can make the difference between identifying the perfect home and having an unwanted surprise after you’ve committed to buying.”

Phil Spencer home buyer questions

So what questions should you be asking? Here, Spencer, who certainly knows a thing or two about house-hunting, shares his top five…

1. How long has the property been on the market?

“This should be one of your first questions,” says Spencer. “The average time it takes to sell a home in the UK is two to three months, according to the Government. So, if the property has been on the market for considerably longer, it may have an issue that is stopping it selling, beyond just being priced too highly. But you’ll need to get your detective hat on to find out what it is.

“One red flag to look out for would be if the current owners have lived there for an unusually short period of time. There is usually a reason behind a seller trying to get shot of a property after a short period. You’ll need to push the agent or sellers for clues: Is there a nuisance neighbour, what are crime levels like in the area, how busy are the roads and how much does the property cost to run (utility bills, council tax etc)?”

2. Is the property in a conservation area?

“If you are drawn to the history and charm of older homes, bear in mind that your scope for making changes to such a property could be severely limited,” says Spencer. “Specific rules about what you can and cannot do to the property will vary from local authority to local authority. Some may prohibit you from making changes to metal railings, windows, trees and even the colour of the front door. So, if your heart is set on a house with history but you’ve got an eye on modernisation, make sure to ask about anything that might block your plans.”

Phil Spencer checklist

3. Is the property a freehold or a leasehold?

“There are pros and cons to both freehold and leasehold properties. As a leaseholder, you will have to pay annual fees to the owner of the freehold, from ground rent to maintenance charges. These can fluctuate over time, so make sure that when you’re budgeting you factor in the possibility that ground rent will increase or maintenance charges could spike if the building needs major repairs,” says Spencer.

“By contrast, if you buy a freehold property there’s no ground rent to worry about, but you will be responsible for everything, including the roof and the maintenance of the structure. It’s important to get a detailed survey that will flag up any issues that need urgent – or expensive – repair.

4. Are there any pending planning applications that might impact me?

“This is a quick bit research you could carry out before actually viewing your prospective home. Nearly all local authorities have a planning portal on their website that allows you to view any previous or pending planning applications. If, for example, you were considering buying a home close to agricultural land, it might be a good idea to check whether the friendly farmer next door has just submitted a planning application for a new pig-rearing facility!”

5. Has the seller made any changes to the property?

“If changes have been made recently – especially structural ones – you need to know so you can ask the seller for any relevant documents, receipts or guarantee certificates. Equally if the seller has spent money doing the place up, they will have raised the asking price accordingly – so you need to make a judgement on whether the premium is justified. One other question I always ask a seller which can prove revealing is, ‘If you were staying, what other improvements would you make?'”

 

Summer and Autumn Sold Rush For House Sales

sold board outside property

Will 2018 end well for house sales?

During the first six months of 2018 the level of house sales across the UK were running at a fairly poor level, but now the second half of 2018 is bouncing back with house sales on the up again.

Property sale agreed in Fleet by McCarthy Holden
A quick sale was recently agreed on this £1.85m. guided property in the Blue Triangle Fleet

When we say house sales are on the up, we are talking about house sale volumes not prices.

The market in residential sales remains very price sensitive, which is why discerning house buyers are seeing the current market conditions as an opportunity to move whilst prices remain static. The news for house sellers is that you can and will sell successfully in today’s market, but don’t expect a fancy or inflated price.

Large house price gains are gone for a while, but like all markets when they rebound from a low they come back with a sharp and fast uptake. Savvy buyers know this so are active in the market now.

Property sold in Odiham by McCarthy Holden
This cottage in Odiham was snapped up and exchanged when guided £850,000

A turning point this Summer and Autumn

Summer and Autumn trading results on house sales are showing high levels of properties going through to exchange of contracts and new sales being agreed quickly if the price and marketing combination is right.

Take this property below, which had offers within ten days of going to the market with professional video marketing and an eye catching price.

House sales exchanges have been increasing with examples across the price ranges, with the exception of the still soft £2.5 plus market which will no doubt catch up in due course.

There have been encouraging sales just under £2.0m. such as the example below.

Property sold in Finchampstead by McCarthy Holden
Sold (exchanged) just under £2.0m. in Finchampstead, Berkshire

Tragedy comedy or soft landing

We are of course reminded of the phrase All’s well that ends well, which is a title from a play by William Shakespeare, thought not to be neatly classified as tragedy or comedy. Lets hope for the residential house market its neither and 2018 ends well for house sales.

If you are looking ahead to a house sale in 2019, why not ask for a free no obligation valuation for McCarthy Holden.

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

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

diy tiling splashback

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

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

revamp tiling tile splashbacks

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

What you will need

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

revamp tiling tile splashbacks

Choosing your tiles

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

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

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

revamp tiling tile splashbacks

Think about the grouting

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

revamp tiling tile splashbacks

Preparing and tiling the wall

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

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

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

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

revamp tiling tile splashsbacks

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

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

Ghoulish Halloween Gardens!

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

halloween garden design plants

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

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

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

1. Eye-poppers

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

halloween garden plants design

2. Strangling suspects

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

halloween garden plants design

3. Prickly subjects

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

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

halloween garden plants design

4. Toxic terrors

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

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

halloween garden plants design

5. Foul smelling specimens

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

halloween garden plants design

6. Acrid arums

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

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

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

7. Ghostly apparitions

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

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

halloween garden plants design

8. Bizarre bulbs

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

halloween garden plants design

9. Poisonous potions

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

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

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

halloween garden plants design

10. Warding off evil

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

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

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

halloween garden plants design

Bargain buys for big impact

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

supermarket chic small budget interior

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

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

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

supermarket chic small budget interior

Show a living space some love

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

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

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

supermarket chic small budget interior

Create a chic corner

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

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

supermarket chic small budget interior

Dream up a beautiful boudoir

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

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

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

Small Trees for Small Gardens

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

best trees for small garden

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

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

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

Here are five good examples to consider…

best trees for small garden

1. Amelanchier

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

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

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

best trees for small garden

2. Flowering dogwood

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

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

best trees for small garden

3. Laburnum x watereri ‘Vossii’

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

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

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

4. Crab apple (malus)

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

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

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

best trees for small garden

5. Acer palmatum (Japanese maple)

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

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

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

best trees for small garden

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

Property Preview and First Look At This Hampshire Home

Mattingley, Hampshire

We are pleased to provide this video and photographic preview of a wonderful property, which is about to be placed on the open market at an estimated guide of £1.550m.

Located in the delightful hamlet of Mattingley on the outskirts of Hartley Wintney, this is a significant property which provides around 3,700 sq. ft. of luxurious space.

Take a look at the video above and enjoy a tour of the property and local area, we think you will be impressed.

Early viewings before going to the open market will be possible, so if you are tempted to view please contact our Hartley Wintney branch on 01252 842100.

There will be many photographs and insights available soon, but in the meantime here are a few images courtesy of johnjoe.co.uk

And if you are selling or letting a luxury home, discover the benefits of professional video marketing.

property for sale in Mattingley Hampshire
Approached over a long tree fringed track - in a prime location
reception hall of property for sale in Mattingley Hampshire
The stunning reception hall is impressive
luxury Kitchen of property for sale in Mattingley Hampshire
The vast kitchen breakfast room with garden or family room beyond is a fine feature
living room of property for sale in Mattingley Hampshire
The elegant living room
Master bedroom of property for sale in Mattingley Hampshire
The Master Bedroom
luxury en suite of property for sale in Mattingley Hampshire
Exquisite luxury en-suite to the master bedroom