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Interior Design – Dressing Your Home For Christmas

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So the Christmas decorations are going up and the shops are playing Christmas songs – so here are a few items that have caught my eye. But first a few musings. This year I have noticed a general move towards reining back on spending on Christmas generally. This has included a plea from money saving expert Martin Lewis on his Christmas Roadshow and also from teachers, even some shops seem to have toned down their traditionally extravagant displays. To me, the message is a mixture of reducing the pressure on the public to feel that they have to spend a lot on gifts perhaps even money they haven’t got, reducing waste (unwanted gifts) and the fact that Christmas shouldn’t be about material gifts but rather about spending time with friends and loved ones.

When decorating my own home, yes I like to be inspired by what I see in shops, magazines and online, but the most important thing is to make it personal. I love unpacking my box of decorations and unwrapping baubles and ornaments and remembering the occasion when I bought them or who gave them to me. I think buying a new bauble or other decoration each Christmas is a lovely tradition.

Try making something. For example, I am going to make my own door wreath re-using a straw ring recycled from a previous year and using natural greenery and adding a few baubles and fir cones.

Now on to my selection.

Image of luxurious peacock feather Christmas wreathI’ve noticed that turquoise and silver are very popular this year. This luxurious peacock feather wreath by Ella James at notonthehighstreet.com is stunning and fits well with the trend for rich jewel like colours. Remember that wreaths aren’t just for front doors and also work well indoors. For a more informal look position on a mantelpiece or shelf.

Peacock Feather baubleImage of turquoise snowflake christmas decorationContinuing the jewel colour theme, and my comment about adding to your collection,  I love these tree decorations from Liberty. Tree decorations also make a personal and inexpensive gift.- the ones shown are priced at £5.95.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image of two frosted reindeer decoration on a shelfMy attention was caught by these reindeer from Neptune. Perfect for a console table in the hall and fun but stylish.

 

 

 

 

 

Amidst all the hustle and bustle of the festive season it’s a good idea to take time out for yourself and curl up on the sofa or in a comfy chair with a good book and mug of tea. A cosy faux fur rug is perfect to snuggle up with. Alternatively, drape one across your bed. This one from Dunelm has a smooth textured reverse and comes in grey or natural colourways.

Fur throw

 

Remember ,, Christmas isn’t about perfection. Take the time to enjoy it!

If you would like help with styling your property please call 07745 876182 e mail info@homestyle4u.com or complete the enquiry form below. I cover Cheshire and the North West.

Interior Design – Is Black The New Chrome?

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One of the big trends I’ve noticed recently is for black bathroom fittings such as taps, radiators, shower heads and accessories. I’ll admit that when I first  saw these I was a little sceptical but this is a trend that has grown on me.

Changing any of the items mentioned above is a very easy way to update the appearance of a bathroom especially if you already have a white suite. Black taps look fresh, edgy and different, adding industrial cool to the simplest of bathrooms. They can also add a warmer feel than chrome to the space especially in larger bathrooms.

Black fittings won’t need polishing as frequently as chrome which of course shows up every splash and fingerprint. As with most things it’s worth investing in quality products with a durable electroplated finishes which won’t be so prone to scratches or fading. This design from Villeroy & Boch is elegant and set off by the black mount and black framed mirror. The mustard yellow touches avoid the scheme looking stark but any accent colour would look equally good.

 

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This square matte black basin mixer from Meir is an excellent starting point

 

 

 

For those who love the industrial feel then a black factory style shower frame mimics the style of Crittall windows and works perfectly in loft/ warehouse apartments or to add a modern touch to a period property. This image comes from a project by the Rebecca James Studio.

Fulham

Accessories such as soap dishes and tooth brush holders are a very cheap way of incorporating this look and I really like these accessories by Daniel Savage for Dunelm. Simple and stylish and the gold trim softens the look.

Daniel Savage

If you would like some help with incorporating this trend into your bathroom call me on 07745 876182 e mail at info@homestyle4u.com or complete the enquiry form below. I cover Cheshire and the North West and I’d love to hear from you.

 

Staging For Sale – The Importance of Letting Go

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My house has recently gone under offer so I’ve begun the process of going through everything in readiness for the packing. This has included reviewing a number of boxes that have been in my garage since I moved in five years ago. The boxes mainly contain books and china/ glassware.

It would be very easy to either just leave them ready to be moved or get rid of the contents on the basis that if they have been untouched for five years then the contents can’t be that important. However, although I do want to reduce the volume of belongings to be moved, I didn’t want to just get rid, so I have been ploughing through the contents. The books were quite straight forward – I was able to take a lot to charity shops whilst retaining a core of ones that I felt I genuinely want to re-read.

Reviewing the china and glassware was more difficult and I found it quite hard to decide about certain items. Given that I discovered that it was even longer than five years since I last looked through the contents of theses boxes (the newspaper the objects had been wrapped in was dated 2005 signifying the move before last) this was quite surprising. Why was this?

Basically, I feel that when we struggle with decluttering it’s less to do with the actual item but rather the story behind it. Everything we acquire has a story, whether it’s the reason we chose it, the occasion or the person who has given it to us if it was a gift. For example, with some of the pieces they had been given as 21st birthday presents, with others the person who had given it to me has sadly passed away. It can be hard to part with something in those circumstances, either because of the associations or we may simply feel that we ought to keep it. So what was the outcome of this process?

Certain items I will be passing to charity shops, some I will aim to sell on one of the online selling platforms and others I have re-wrapped and they will be coming with me. Yes memories are in our heads and our hearts but it is also nice to have some small physical reminder such as a mug that reminds you of the giver every time you drink from it. As with all things in the life there is a balance but don’t be afraid to let go – sometimes it is good to do so.

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Letting go can be hard. If you need some help call 07745 876182 e mail info@homestyle4u.com or complete the enquiry form below. I cover Cheshire and the North West. I’d love to hear from you.

Staging For Sale – The Empty Property

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There are many reasons why a property may be empty when it is put on the market for sale – the owners may already moved, the owner may have died and the family have cleared the property, the property may have been renovated by an investor or it may be a new build.

A property being empty can have its advantages, for example, some buyers find it easier to visualise their belongings in the rooms, there is no clutter so the room sizes are obvious. However, in most cases, empty properties are more difficult to sell. Here are a few reasons why.

1. Most buyers start their search for a property online even if they follow that up by registering with local estate agents. Images of empty rooms tend not to be very interesting so properties may often be discounted without a click through. Your property needs to attract the attention of prospective purchasers so that they view.

2. When people view an empty property yes the space may be obvious but without furniture to ground it buyers can find it difficult to work out if their furniture will fit. Believe me this is important. Buyers do make decisions about buying a property based on whether a piece of furniture will fit even if the property is otherwise perfect for them. Yes we’ve probably all seen Kirstie Allsopp on Location, Location, Location lying on a bedroom floor waving her arms so as to demonstrate that a bed will fit and I’ve whipped out my tape measure on viewings but it isn’t ideal. If the room is furnished appropriately it is easy for buyers to see that their furniture will fit.

3. How often on property programmes or if you’ve been out viewing properties, have you talked about the “feel” of a property? When it comes to making a decision buyers often make that decision based on how the property feels, does it feel like home. It is very difficult to create an ambience in an empty property, they can feel soulless.

Empty Room

Staging an empty property for sale with furniture, accessories etc helps prospective buyers visualise themselves living in the property and creates a sense of anticipation.

Cosy Sitting Room

So if you are selling or planning to sell a property that is empty contact me to arrange a consultation. Call 07745 876182 e mail info@homestyle4u.com or complete the enquiry form below. I cover Cheshire and the North West.

Home Staging – Is Your House Dressed To Sell?

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This morning I attended a Networking Event – I love telling people about what I do and how I can help sell houses. Last evening I planned what I was going to wear. Now this might sound frivolous but I think it’s important for two reasons. Firstly, from a business perspective when I attend a Networking Event, have a 1-2-1 with someone or I go to meet a prospective client, I am presenting my business. I want to create the right impression, in this case to look smart and professional, because hopefully that will give the people I am speaking to the belief that they can trust me both personally and professionally. Secondly, if I feel good about what I am wearing then that gives me confidence when I am talking to people and that in turn helps me to convey my message better.

Now what has all this got to do with selling a house I hear you ask? Well a lot actually. If you are selling or thinking of selling, then first of all, I want you to take off your home owner hat and replace it with your business person hat because selling a house is a business transaction. Right, now I want you to physically or mentally walk round your house imagining that you are a prospective buyer who has come to view your property. Be objective. If you haven’t moved for a while in can help to cast your mind back to when you have been out viewing properties in the past – how did it feel, what sort of thoughts passed through your mind? What impression are you getting? I often suggest asking a friend or acquaintance to do this, either with you or on their own, making sure that they are ready to be brutally honest. Perhaps make notes as you go round of what you notice.

So, how did it go? For me, the most important things when selling are does the property look as if it has been well looked after. For example, has the property been kept in a good state of repair or can you see that things need doing? It might be just little things such as a dripping tap or a door that is coming off its hinges, but little things can add up to create an impression that the property is a bit run down and prospective purchasers may worry that more major issues may lurk. Is the pretty clean and tidy so that it looks as if the home owner/s are proud of their home or have the home owners not even bothered to wash up and make the beds?  You want prospective buyers to be able to imagine themselves living in your home.

The reason I mention putting on your business person hat or getting someone to walk round with us is that we get used to our homes and we all have our own lifestyle. This makes it difficult to see your home from a stranger’s perspective. This is where I come in. As a professional home stager I come to your property with an objective perspective, not to criticise, but rather to offer advice on how we can make your property appeal to the widest possible market with the objective of getting you the best possible price and in the shortest possible time. Call today on 07745 876182 e mail to info@homestyle4u.com or complete the enquiry form below. I cover Cheshire and the North West. I’d love to help.

Selling Your Home – Staging On a Budget Part 2

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In Part 1 of this blog I talked about my Top Four Tips for selling on a budget focusing on actions. In this second part I focus on where to go when shopping.

I think it is important to note that staging isn’t all about buying new, the starting point is always to look at what you already have. It may be that simply moving things around or putting different things together can create the right look. A professional home stager who comes in to your property with a fresh eye will be able to see the space and what is in it with a new perspective. Upcycling is also a very cost effective way of transforming an object. For example, painting kitchen units.

So if you do need some “new” furniture or accessories e.g. a bed for a spare room where should you go. This blog is aimed at those staging on a budget – it is worth bearing mind that the items you choose should reflect the nature and value of the property you are selling. Having said that it is perfectly possible to mix budget buys with expensive ones.

1. Friends & Family

If you need a particular item of furniture, maybe a bed, dining table or sofa, it is always a good idea to ask friends and family if they have a spare you can borrow. People often have pieces hiding in a garage. The item needs to be the right size and in keeping with your property although bedding and throws disguise a multitude of sins.

2. Charity Shops

Charity shops are fantastic source of both furniture and accessories. For larger items ask if the organisation will allow you to “hire” the item for a period in return for a donation. If necessary you spruce up with paint or if you find an attractive lamp base invest in a new shade to go with it. Even better you are helping the environment by reusing the item and you’re supporting a good cause at the same time.

3. Online

I think these days most of us are familiar with online auction sites such as Ebay and recycling sites such as Freecycle. These are another good source of furniture and if you aren’t going to be taking the piece with you to your next property you can rehome the item in the same way.

4. Supermarkets/ Budget Stores

These are good for accessories. I’ve seen lovely stuff in places like Sainsburys and Asda. I also like Matalan, Dunelm Mill, The Range and of course Ikea. Again quality can vary so choose carefully. When selling I think new fresh fluffy towels in a bathroom and crisp bedding on a well dressed bed create the fresh inviting look buyers are looking for. Don’t neglect stylish lamps and the occasional statement ornament.

For further advice on how to style your home for sale on a budget call 07745 876182, e mail info@homestyle4u.com or complete the enquiry form below. I cover Cheshire and the North West

Interior Design – Farrow & Ball New Colours

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Paint and paper specialists Farrow & Ball have recently introduced nine new colours, something they only do every few years so I was very keen to take a look. For anyone who is familiar with the brand you will know that the names of the colours is a big part of the package – who can forget Elephants Breath for example.  I love reading the back stories to where the names come from. Here’s my take on the new offering.

 

 

This is a deep rich Baroque red named for the company’s original trading name of Preference Paints. I’ve been trying to be  bolder with colour lately and I love the warm tone of this shade which definitely makes a statement. It works well with grey and teal but also lighter shades such as lilacs and pinks. It would suit a contemporary kitchen but I would also use it in a snug to create that homely cosy feel perfect for colder nights.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jitney is a brown based sandy neutral. It is a calming light shade that suits all properties and rooms. The colour was inspired by the coast and days on the beach and its name derives from the bus that takes the city dwellers of New York from the city to the beaches of the Hamptons. As a lover of all things coastal this is definitely one I am going to try. I would pair it with a blue such as the other newcomer De Nimes and sage green or a darker brown. Perfect dressed with fabrics and wallpaper from the Sanderson Embleton Bay range. I can see this one becoming a “go to” neutral.

 

 

 

 

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Blue is a perennial favourite as evidenced by the fact that Dulux’s colour of the year 2017 was called Denim Drift. De Nimes was inspired by the everyday workwear made in the French city of Nimes so both colours are grounded in the practical. As mentioned above it fits well in a coastal scheme but would work equally with deeper reds and greys. I’ve long been a fan of duck egg but I do like this darker (and dare I say more grown up?) hue. I think it would make a great colour for an upcycled piece of furniture as well as on walls or floors.

 

 

 

 

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Green is proving a key trend in 2018 and looks set to continue beyond. It is even giving grey a run for it’s money. Green is popular because of its association with nature and the outdoors. Bancha is an update of Farrow & Ball’s archived Olive and is named after Japanese tea leaves. It’s a calming colour – stronger than sage which is an increasingly popular neutral and more natural than the emerald of the exotic “jungle” schemes that we have seen a lot of. I would combine Bancha with soft whites, earthy browns and ochre but it also looks good with dusty pinks and purples.

 

 

 

 

 

Paen Black is undoubtedly the most dramatic of the new colours and does require a certain amount of bravery but it is very stylish and complements both sleek contemporary and boho interiors. The inspiration for this colour is old leather hymn books and the word paen means a song of praise. Perfect for an Art Deco or modern monochrome scheme Paen Black is complemented by white and grey. For those who love colour jazz it up with emerald and fuchsia or I would pair with mustard, white and teal. It is commonly thought that in small spaces light colours are best but dark ones actually look great.

 

 

 

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Bang on the trend for exotics, this vibrant shocking pink is named for the powder thrown during the Holi festival of colours in India. As this background suggests, the colour is joyful and uplifting yet the slight touch of black pigment gives it warmth. It is ideal for family spaces because of its energy so think kitchens, playrooms or family rooms. If you like modern décor in character properties then it would make a statement in a living room. Dark grey and deep blue are obvious partners but to avoid overpowering a scheme keep floors and ceilings neutral with an off white or paler blue or grey. Add touches of orange in accessories for a colour clash.

 

 

 

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When it comes to white the choice can seem endless and I can remember agonising over tester pots. However, you can’t go wrong with white and I am a fan of Slipper Satin in particular for its warm feel. The name derives from the colour used in old school rooms. This soft new white is in the same group as Shaded White, Shadow White and Drop Cloth which are all designed to look white in areas of deep shade. It therefore makes a good choice for those who like white but don’t want a space to feel clinical. It is the ideal backdrop to a relaxed scheme and can be used anywhere. This is another that I will be adding to my shortlist.

 

 

 

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I think this is one of those names that is going to become a F&B classic alongside Elephants Breath and Mouse’s Back and a must try just for the name alone. The name was inspired by the colour often used in boudoirs named for the French “bouder” to sulk, and isn’t it true that after a bad day or a row we often retreat to the bedroom? This is a dusty rose rather than a “pink” pink so not overly feminine and would combine well with fellow newcomer Paen Black for a sophisticated look.

 

 

 

 

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Treron is a darker version of the classic Pigeon and the name derives from the species of bird of the same name. This is a dark grey green which is very much in tune with the mood for nature and natural materials. Picture it in a botanically inspired scheme with lighter neutrals and lots of wood or in a modern setting with shades such as London Stone and London Clay. It would suit a kitchen either on a bank of units or island. A definite alternative to grey itself.

 

 

 

 

So what is my overall take on the new colours? They are very much in keeping with the existing F & B palette and slot in well. I am certainly looking forward to using them and actually am finding it difficult to choose any favourites. I have referred above to upcycling furniture and this is a great way to experiment with colour. If you are frightened of colour, always remember paint is paint and can easily be changed!

If you are thinking of redecorating and would like some advice, call 07745 876182, e mail info@homestyle4u.com or complete the enquiry form below. I cover Cheshire and the North West.

 

 

 

Interior Design – An Alternative Take On Clutter

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In a recent blog (Interior Design – Be Fearless) I touched on the subject of giving your space personality. By one of those coincidences that seem to appear when you are not looking for them, I came across an article the other day suggesting that clutter, or rather collecting, is making a comeback. This got me thinking, because there is a link between the concepts of personality and collecting. We have perhaps become conditioned to perceive “clutter” as bad and minimalism as good. There has been a massive growth in the idea of organising most notably from Japanese Organising Consultant Marie Kondo and the popularity of minimalism in interiors.

It seems to me that there are a number of strands emerging and these seemed to be interlinked. The first is a reaction against the throwaway culture. We are all becoming more aware of the environment (there was a huge reaction to the final episode of Sir David Attenborough’s The Blue Planet) and the consequences of constantly updating our wardrobes or interiors. There is an increasing desire to choose items that will last, whether clothes or furnishings.

Secondly, there is a trend towards only buying items that will truly give us pleasure – quality not quantity if you like. This is the philosophy of Marie Kondo and, I suppose, is a modern expression of William Morris’s well known mantra “have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”. This is a very simple philosophy that you can’t go wrong with.

William Morris

 

Thirdly, there has a resurgence in the appeal of crafting, upcycling and “grow your own”. This is perhaps a reaction against the stresses of modern life and the satisfaction to be gained from creating something yourself.

in my previous blog I referred to the ideal of the boutique hotel and how these have started to be perceived as somewhat sterile and lacking in personality. The idea of collecting or “clutter” is an expression of this desire to make our homes reflect our individual selves. I believe that for many of us it is important that our homes are cosy and homely. This is easily done and does not mean that a space feels cluttered, rather it is about including pieces such as cushions, throws and accessories that make a space feel welcoming.

If you are selling, you don’t want clutter because you want to show off the space but you do want viewers to be able to aspire to living in your home. A few carefully chosen accessories that have been collected over time will give the right impression.

So why not start searching for those objects that make your heart sing, that will give you pleasure when you look at them every day and at the same time know that you are also doing your bit to help the environment.

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If you would like help creating the right space for you or preparing your home for sale call now on 07745 876182, e mail at info@homestyle4u.com or complete the enquiry form below. We cover Cheshire and the North West.

Staging Your Home For Sale – Why Spend Money When you are Selling

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When I am talking to sellers about staging their home for sale, a common Question that I get asked is “If I am moving house why would I spend money on it, I’m not going to see any benefit?” Well it depends on how you define “benefit” doesn’t it? What they probably mean by “benefit” in this case is that they won’t get the opportunity to enjoy the change e.g. a new patio.

Everyone’s circumstances are different of course but, in general, when you sell your house you want one, or both, of the following.

  1. A quick sale
  2. The best possible price

You’ve probably heard the expression “you have to speculate to accumulate”. For example, if you are running a business, you need to buy stock, build a website, market your business etc , it takes investment. It’s the same when selling your house, you need to invest in your property. That could mean undertaking DIY, making changes to the layout or simply dressing the property so that it looks attractive in the photos when people are searching online and when they view. Those actions may not necessarily cost a lot but the impact can be crucial. I will always work within the customer’s budget whatever that is and seek to maximise what can be achieved within it so if your budget is limited don’t be put off.

Lounge before

The benefit you derive from this investment is that your property is more attractive to potential buyers and will sell more quickly and/ or because you have attracted more interest you are able to negotiate a higher selling price. Often the increase in selling price will outweigh the cost of what you have done. And while the sale is going through yes you will still get to enjoy those improvements.

Lounge 1

To find out how staging your home can benefit your sale call 07745 876182 e mail info@homestyle4u.com or complete the enquiry form below today. We cover Cheshire and the North West

 

 

Interior Design – Be Fearless

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I recently came across an interview with designer, stylist and author Shanna Salk on the topic of displaying our favourite items and was struck by this quote

it takes fearlessness. It’s about not worrying too much about the rules, or what you think you should do, or the value. Decorators talk about great rooms having something a little “off” in them. If you do something too smooth, the effect is too perfect, lacking in personality, like a hotel.

This final sentence really made me think. In particular, because we often come across the phase “boutique hotel” style or “hotel chic” as a style to emulate whereas the comment is quite negative . In general, when planning a design scheme, whether for a single room or an entire property, are we looking for perfection, a particular style or  a trend? Is it fair to say that when we strive for perfection the effect can be sterile? If you insist on everything matching then certainly the overall effect can seem contrived.

When planning a design we should always remember that ultimately we are creating a space for living in, somewhere where we are going to enjoy spending time and that reflects who we are. So I would certainly recommend not following trends or “looks” too slavishly, after all there may be certain elements of that trend or “look” that don’t appeal. Take those aspects that you like and combine with other elements. A classic example of this is combining antique and modern.

The key to making a mixture of styles work is to find a common link such as colours or the use of natural materials. It is the mixture that provides personality. I love travel and for me, one of the pleasures of a holiday is to bring back an item that reflects the local culture. In the past this has included a bright striped cushion cover from Morocco, a rug from Dubai, a wooden carving from Cape Verde and a glass vase from Jordan. Including such a piece in your scheme is what can give the “off” and personality. Besides every time you look at that item it brings back those happy memories of the place where you bought it.

A final word about hotels lacking personality. Yes this may be the case with the chains but less so with what we call the boutique hotel which, by definition, are smaller and tend to be pitched at the higher end of the market. If you are a fan of boutique hotel style simply add those quirky touches. If it isn’t something you have brought back from your travels then just include a piece that stands out from the rest of the scheme.

 

Image of a light hotel sitting room

For help creating your own personality filled space contact me on 07745 876182,  e mail me on info@hometyle4u.com or complete the enquiry form below. We cover Cheshire and the North West.

Home Staging For Sale – Selling In Hot Weather

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We all know that selling your home is an anxious process and selling in very hot weather of the sort we have been experiencing in recent weeks presents its own special challenges. So here are a few tips to help:-

  • Kerb Appeal

I am a firm believer in the importance of kerb appeal, if your property doesn’t look attractive from the outside potential buyers won’t want to view. In the hot weather the difficulty is maintaining the attractiveness of your outside space. We have been urged by the water companies to avoid using sprinklers and hoses so watering lawns is a dilemma. However, it is easy to recycle water from washing to water plants and hanging baskets. Water first thing and last thing to reduce evaporation and dead head flowers that are past their best. The latter not only means the plant will continue to look good but will also encourage news flowers. On a positive note, when there is no rain forecast it is easy to create an attractive seating/ dining area and not worry about leaving furniture and accessories out. No matter how big or small your outside space it’s rare that you can’t find room for a bistro set. Dress seating with cushions and throws and try a pot of herbs on the table.

Image of beautiful garden planter

  • Cool & Fresh

The temperature inside a property can make a difference to the success or otherwise of a viewing. If a property is too hot or too cold viewers won’t want to linger. This can mean that they don’t have time to properly consider a property and how it could work for them. In hot weather, if doors and windows have been closed the atmosphere for viewers can be quite stifling and uncomfortable. Leave windows open if only a small amount and try to ensure that there is a through draught. If your agent is conducting the viewing ask them to arrive a little early so that they can open windows ahead of the viewers arriving.     Image of an open window with vieiw on to a garden

  • Dress Appropriately

We dress according to the weather and so should our homes. One of my favourite activities is to change the accessories in my home with the change of seasons. Not only is this a change in itself but it creates a different feel in the room. In the cooler months we want to create an environment that is warm and cosy so I would use fur or woollen throws and cushions in fabrics such as velvet or chunky knits that I can snuggle up with. In hot weather I change these to lighter weight fabrics such as cotton and linen. Change colours as well – from darker to lighter. These changes will make a room feel more light and airy and quite simply, more appropriate for the weather. You can also change your curtains in the same way.

 

Dune

 

Adding a jug or vase of summer flowers is always a nice touch .

If you need help presenting your home for sale call now on 07745 876182  e mail info@homestyle4u or complete the enquiry form below. We cover Cheshire and the North West.

 

Interior Inspiration – Mexican Magic

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Image of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo

You can’t fail to have noticed the media coverage of the forthcoming exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in celebration of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. The exhibition entitled Frida Kahlo:Making Herself Up  is dedicated to the artist’s personal effects. Happily, the exhibition coincides with a revival of interest in handicrafts, lush tropical motifs and folk – inspired design in both fashion and interiors – think of TV shows such as The Great British Sewing Bee, Kirstie’s Handmade Home and, of course, The Great British Bake Off.  I think there is also a link with the whole movement towards recycling and upcycling.

On her death in 1954 Kahlo’s belongings were locked away in her former home in Mexico City called The Blue House which was built by the her father and decorated in the vivid colour by Kahlo and her partner when they moved in to the property.

                                                                                                            Image of a blue painted wall and garden

This is a design style that won’t suit everyone but I think it’s great fun and it’s easy to incorporate elements. The secret is perhaps to confine it to one room where you want to feel energised or introduce a few accessories to add a quirky element to a more neutral room. This way it isn’t so obvious that you are following a trend giving it more longevity plus you can you put things away for a while then bring them out again when you want a change.

Sources include online retailer Maison Numen, the Juanita Collection from Montes & Clark or the Hacienda Collection from Andrew Martin. Look for textiles, woven baskets and even Day of The Dead ritualistic symbolism of skulls. Here are just a few things that have caught my attention.

SUNBURST-WALL-MIRROR-Large-Maison Numen
SUNBURST WALL MIRROR-Maison Numen
OAXACA-FISH-PATTERNED-PALM-BASKET-1
OAXACA FISH PATTERNED PALM BASKET-Maison Numen
Juanita Blue & Pink napkins Montes & Clark
Juanita Blue & Pink napkins Montes & Clark
CHIAPAS-HUIPIL-PILLOW-COVER-M-1
CHIAPAS HUIPIL PILLOW COVER- Maison Numen
17722-truman-junior-in-parasol-natural-with-cushions-in-cruz-desert-and-footstool-in-ticky-ticky-desert-with-otomi-desert-wallpaper
Truman junior in parasol natural. Cushions in cruz desert. Footstool in ticky ticky desert with otomi desert wallpaper – Andrew Martin
17705-ric-rac-carnival-wallpaper-truman-in-white-linen-with-scatter-cushions-in-maya-cactus-maya-paraiso-cruz-cactus-cruz-paradise-palaz
ric-rac-carnival wallpaper. Sofa Truman white linen.. Scatter cushions in maya cactus maya paraiso cruz cactus cruz paradise palaz – Andrew Martin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blob shape lamp base with retro drum shaped shade
Blob shape lamp base with retro drum shaped shade – Montes & Clark

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this blog and feel inspired to introduce some of this into your décor. If you would like some advice on how to do this or advice on your interior décor generally please call 07745 876182  e mail info@homestyle4u.com or complete the enquiry form below. I would love to hear from you. I cover Cheshire and the North West.

Interior Design – The Tech dilemma

Blog Graphic

Our lives are dominated by technology – phones, tablets, pc’s and, of course the television. When it comes to our homes and what we do with the TV we generally adopt one of two approaches, we either embrace it and make it a feature or we try to hide it. In the case of the former, we make the TV the focal point of the room, rather as the fire used to be the focal point, either on a stand or unit or mounted on the wall. Often we make it the hub where the family gather together. This may be in a living room, a living space within an open plan kitchen/ diner or even within a designated media room.

The alternative is to try to hide or disguise the TV. Traditionally, we might have done this by enclosing it within a piece of furniture such as a stylish cabinet or perhaps a built in cupboard. Now there is an alternative. Samsung’s The Frame functions both as a TV and a piece of art. You can either choose from a body of artwork or use your own photos. The result is that when not being used as a TV you have a lovely piece of art or photo to enjoy which could be displayed on its own or as part of a gallery.

The Frame 1                                           The Frame

I love this idea and think it works wherever in the house you have your TV but particularly those areas where you might not want it on display all the time.

If you are looking for solutions to design problems call on 07745 876182, e mail on info@homestyle4u.com or complete the enquiry form below. We cover Cheshire and the North West.

Interior Design Inspiration – The Coast and Nature

Image of beautiful beach with rocks and sand in the foreground

A few years ago I made a first visit to Northumberland staying in the village of Embleton with its wide sweeping bay overlooked by the remains of Dunster Castle. I loved the location so much that I am due to pay a return visit next. I was therefore delighted to come across the Embleton Bay range of fabrics and wallpapers from heritage brand Sanderson and fell in love with it! The collection comprises three elements – patterned fabrics, woven and wallpapers and includes a mixture of coastal and countryside themes which could be used independently or in combination. The wallpaper collection contains a mixture of birdlife and wildlife, flora and fauna together with depictions of shorelines, boats, coastal cottages and large, expansive skies. The fabrics comprise a range of nine printed fabrics and two embroideries giving a variety of textures and with designs mirroring those of the wallpapers. The weaves are a collection of beautiful textures suitable for curtains and upholstery.

The appeal of the collection to me, apart from the memories, is its variety and versatility. There are a mixture of traditional and modern designs which work well together. The different fabrics give a mix of texture and the colour palette is subtle but not dull. It would be easy to incorporate some of the on trend jewel colours such as teal or purple to add drama. Here are just a few of my favourites from each section.

 

 

Alnwick logs
Alnwick logs

 

Alnwick logs makes a stunning feature wall and adds a modern touch

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sea Houses
Sea Houses

 

Sea Houses is a fun design illustrating cottages along a lane meandering down to the sea

 

 

Sea Houses 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Estuary Birds
Estuary Birds

 

 

  I love the detail of the Estuary Birds design which is available in both fabric and wallpaper. The grasses  are echoed in the embroidery of the gorgeous Belsay fabric.
Belsay
Belsay

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the weaves section I like the textures of the Dune and Misty Haze design

Misty Haze
Misty Haze

 

Dune
Dune

I can’t wait to use the collection, if you would like advice on how to use it in your home call now on 07990 713783, e mail on info@homestyle4u.com or complete the enquiry form below. We cover Cheshire and the  North West.

 

 

 

Interior Design – Sprucing Up Your Outside Space

Image of a coffee cup and saucer with note book and pen next to it

Finally there are signs that Spring has arrived – daffodils and other bulbs are adding colour to our gardens and verges, buds are appearing on the trees and occasionally the sun has put in an appearance! Most of us love our gardens and outside space is very important to us no matter how small it is. Spring is often a time when we plan garden projects, mine is ongoing. If you are selling your home you should not neglect your outside space as it can make a big difference to the saleability of your property.

So what  are the most important elements to consider? This obviously depends on the size of your outside space and the nature of your household – what suits a young single professional will not suit a family with young children. What follows is a number of elements each of which may, or may not, be appropriate for you. They are in no particular order of importance.

  • Plants/ Greenery

Image of beautiful garden planterEvery outside space needs plants and/ or greenery. In a large garden this is likely to comprise trees, shrubs and flowering plants in borders. For a courtyard garden it is likely to be some or of all of those but planted in tubs. Even a flat can benefit from window boxes or planters if you have a balcony.

 

 

 

  • Entertaining

TWicker hanging chair in framehis has to come a very close second to the first element if not top of the list. We all crave        somewhere outdoors to sit with a cup of coffee or glass of wine whether to soak up the sun    or just to have a few quiet moments to relax. Ideally the entertaining space will include a        table of some sort whether a small bistro set or a large dining table and chairs. If you can      manage a dining set plus some comfy seating as well even better. I’ve always hankered            after a hanging swing chair such as this example from gabrielashome.com

 

 

 

 

  • Grass

For families or dog owners, an area of  lawn for the children or dog to run around on is likely to be essential. Even a small area of grass helps us feel connected to nature, imagine the feeling of walking barefoot on grass. If you are someone who doesn’t have the time or inclination to mow the lawn, there are some great artificial alternatives which can also be practical for families. Artificial turf is also a good choice for courtyards and even balconies because it is low maintenance and practical for a small space but gives that sense of the outdoors if that is what you want.

Image of beautifully mown lawn

 

So spend sometime outside and make the most of your outside space. If you need some help with the interior or exterior of your home call us on 07745 876182 e mail us on info@homestyle4u.com or complete the enquiry form below. We cover Cheshire and the North West.

 

Selling Your Home – It’s All About the Lifestyle

Image of a coffee cup and saucer with note book and pen next to it

Are you thinking of selling and want to sell quickly or already on the market and not sold? So you are motivated and want to know what you need to do to get that sale?

If you have ever sold property you are probably familiar with the word “feel” or “feeling” either in a positive way or perhaps more commonly as a reason for someone not putting in an offer. So what does this mean?

Obviously, people buy property for different reasons but here we are talking about the typical buyer who is simply looking for a property to live in themselves. For someone to want to buy a property they need to be able to picture themselves living in it with their furniture and living the life they want to lead. For example, they may be a family so they want open plan living where they can all be together, they may want to entertain so they want a big kitchen/ diner or they may want to spend time gardening.

It is commonly thought that it doesn’t really matter what your property looks like because it will be empty when they move in and everyone wants to put their own stamp on a property so it isn’t worth decorating. Whilst that may true for some people it isn’t true for a lot of buyers. Potential purchasers need help to be able to see themselves living in a property. What does this mean for you the seller? Here are a few tips.

  • Clear away clutter – not only will the space feel bigger, buyers will find it easier to picture their furniture in that space.
  • Undertake any necessary repairs – most people don’t want to do work and if they see things that need doing, even minor repairs, they will worry that there may be more serious problems because the impression they have is that the property hasn’t been looked after.
  • Avoid decor that is too individualistic – viewers are likely to struggle to see past what is there. The aim is a property that has personality but is not too personal.
  • Give each room a clearly defined purpose – buyers can be confused if a room appears to have a multitude of functions. In an open plan space, ensure that the space is clearly “zoned” to show the different areas. This includes not leaving rooms empty. The classic example is a bedroom that is used for storage. It may be clear that you can fit a bed in it but still put a bed in it so that buyers understand that it is a bedroom and it also give a sense of what space there is for other items of furniture.
  • Think about those lifestyle aspects referred to above and highlight them. So, for instance, if you are showcasing the family space have a living area, dining area, play area etc and dress the property appropriately.

What you are aiming for is for viewers to walk in to your property and immediately be able to picture themselves at home there.

If you need help creating the right “feel” in your property call 07745 876182 or e mail on info@homestyle4u.com or complete the enquiry form below. We cover Cheshire and the North West. 

Estate Agent's Sold sign

Interior Design – Happy Easter!

Coffe-Cup-and-notebook

 

Next weekend is Easter weekend and a time when we typically think about warmer weather, getting out in the garden and maybe even a barbeque although, given the weather so far this year, snow might be more likely! The shops are full of Easter eggs and gifts featuring fluffy chicks and bunnies. The Easter weekend gives us a four day mini break and is often a time for DIY and gardening plus meeting up with friends and family.

So here are just a few ideas for introducing a touch of Easter.

Home Decor

There iImage of wall painted in yellow with duck egg blues nothing like a touch of yellow to brighten up your home. Painting a feature wall in this envigorating colour will bring a smile to your face whatever the weather. Be as bold or subtle as you feel.  Carys (148) from Little Greene is bright and works well with grey. It is shown combined with Airforce Blue (260)

 

Another emblem of Spring are the flowers. The Makros pendant light fitting from Ikea definitely makes a statement  whether in a living room, over a dining table or in a bedroom.                        Image of dandelion head light fitting

Gifts

Cloth paperweight in the shape of a hare Homewares company Sophie Allport has a number of countryside inspired collections.  The hare design features lots of hares racing over a neutral stone coloured background and includes a wide range of gift ideas and homewares. This desk buddy will control your paperwork but equally could work as a fun ornament and makes a non-calorfic alternative to an Easter Egg!

 

Entertaining

We are accustomed to dressing our table for Christmas but in recent years there has been a trend towards marking other festivals including Easter or Halloween for example. If you are having friends or family over for lunch on Easter Sunday then why not make a feature of your table. Although shown as a mantlepiece decoration, this wreath from John Lewis would make an attractive centrepiece and the chicken shaped felt table mats from Laura Ashley are a quirky alternative to more traditional table mats. The mats are part of a range of table wares including more traditional tablemats and coasters and paper napkins.

download (1)                    Chicken shaped place mats       Coaster with chicken design

Whatever your plans this Easter enjoy the break. For advice on all aspects of interior design and staging your home for sale call us on 07745 876182  e mail to info@homestyle4u.com or complete the enquiry form below. We cover Cheshire and the North West.

Ha0py Easter sign

 

Interior Design – Focus on The Bedroom

Coffe-Cup-and-notebook

 

Good news for all bed lovers – March is National Bed Month – time for a lie in before learning about the importance of a good night’s sleep! Organised by The Sleep Council, the month aims to remind us all of why a sound sleep is good for our health.

Forget the old saying that if “You snooze, you lose.”  It’s thought that a good sleep has amazing properties that make you healthier and happier, and can even add years to your life!

So what type of bedroom do you like and how do you use your bedroom? Are you someone who simply regards the bedroom as a place to sleep or is it a retreat?

Do you Sleek modern looking bedroom in shades of taupego for the modern, minimalist look that is completely free of clutter and distractions such as the television and of course from which all gadgets are banned. We are familiar now with research suggesting that using digital devices close to bedtime and the blue light that such devices emit can be harmful to a good night’s sleep. Such a space allows us to calm our minds before we sleep so that we wake refreshed. Features include sleek shapes and minimal furniture with simple lines.

 

Or do yCosy rustic bedroom in warm colours throws and cushionsou regard our bedroom as your retreat where you can escape the family and be cocooned? This is a space to snuggle up and relax. It is likely to comprise warm colours, a chair for curling up with a book, table lamps for that soft lighting and lots of throws and cushions in different textures (and dare we say the odd furry animal or two!). It may include a television for watching those boxed sets.  The bed is likely to feature a wooden, or maybe iron, bed frame.

 

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Inspired by our love of travel and staycations, the boutique hotel look has become a popular trend. The key to this look is elegance and sophistication. Work in a wow headboard, keep the background neutral but jazz up with an accent colour such as mustard, teal or fuchsia pink, make the most of a bedside table making sure it has at least one drawer to hide the clutter and add a stylish bedside lamp. An ottoman or  chaise at the foot of the bed is a key feature of this look.  If you have the space fall for a four poster, Perhaps the most important aspect of the boutique hotel look is beautiful quality bedlinen, buy the best you can.

 

Sweet Dreams logo

If you need any help creating the perfect bedroom call us on 07745 876182, e mail us on info@homestyle4u.com or complete the contact form below. We cover Cheshire and the North West.

 

 

 

 

Selling Your Home – Are Your Viewers Being Honest?

Coffe-Cup-and-notebook

 

Selling your home can be frustrating. The feedback from viewings can be positive but people aren’t offering – why? It’s funny, as a nation we are very polite and don’t like to offend other people. For example, have you ever done the following?

a) Told the hairdresser you are delighted with the new hairstyle only to go straight home and wash it

b) When the waiter asks if you’ve enjoyed your meal reply “yes it was delicious thank you” only to walk out vowing never to return because the food was awful.

c) Receiving a present that isn’t really something you would choose only to tell the giver that it’s just what you wanted.

We have all kept our true thoughts to ourselves at some point because we did not want to upset or offend the person concerned. This is equally true when we view houses especially if the seller is doing the viewing themselves rather than the agent. There are two aspects to this. If the seller shows the viewer round the viewer is likely to make positive comments (which may be perfectly genuine) because they understand that most people are proud of their home and they don’t want to appear to be critical of the home owner or their taste. If there are negative aspects the viewer won’t mention them. When the agent calls the seller to ask how it went the seller will say the viewing went really well and the viewers seemed to like it. The agent rings the viewer only for the viewer to say it wasn’t for them. The viewer may be honest with the agent or even then they may offer some neutral reason for not proceeding such as location, proximity to schools etc.

The other other aspect is that when the seller does the viewing they will be in the back ground and this may inhibit the viewer from discussing possible changes they might make which would then mean the property would work for them. When the agent conducts the viewing the viewer (if a couple or a singleton viewing with a friend/ family member) feel the freedom to talk about changes without fear of upsetting the vendor. A good agent will understand what the viewer is looking for and will be able to help them visualise how the property could work for them. The agent will hopefully get constructive feedback that will help the seller.

Yes a seller may have all the background knowledge but if a viewer has questions the answers can be obtained. What you want is for your viewer to feel comfortable and free to have a discussion and express their true opinion.

If you want to be prepared to sell your home or find out if the presentation is holding back a sale call us in for some advice. Call us on 07745 876182 e mail us at info@homestyle4u.com  or complete the enquiry form below. We cover Cheshire and the North West.

 

Spring Into Spring

Coffe-Cup-and-notebook

 

Friday was Chinese New Year when we welcomed the year of the Dog. One of the traditions associated with the festival is the cleaning of the home. The grounds, the walls, and every corner of the house need to be cleaned. In Chinese, “Dust” is a homophone for the word “old” (Chen), thus cleaning means to drive the bad luck or the old things away from the house to get ready for a new start.

Springtime is traditionally a time when we all have a thorough clean – having been shut in and hunkered down against the weather over the Winter it’s finally time to open the windows and doors and let in some fresh air. Here are our top tips.

  • Clutter

Image of Packing Boxes ready For Moving House

 

The starting point for any cleaning session is decluttering. Not only is this practical because it makes it easier to clean but it also has a psychological impact. Coming into a cluttered space is very draining. Clutter represents something else and reminds you of something you haven’t done, for example, the ironing, dealing with paperwork or even simply that you haven’t put the ironing away. It therefore installs a feeling of failure in you – a reminder of something you haven’t done. It is easy to feel overwhelmed so tackle it in short stretches, perhaps one drawer at a time, just the bills or set the timer on your phone. Make it fun by putting on some upbeat music and reward yourself with a little treat at the end.

  • Be Prepared 

Image of basin filled with cleaning productsThere is nothing more annoying than planning to do your cleaning only to find that you have run out of a product or tool. So a few days before you planned session check that you have everything you need. This might include some new storage containers to use as part of your declutter.

  • Don’t Forget….

Image of a daisy against a blue sky with caption Time For A  Spring CleanThe Spring Clean is the time to tackle those tasks that you wouldn’t necessarily tackle in your normal cleaning routine. In this we would include :-

Lighting fittings – it’s amazing what difference can be made to the effectiveness of your lighting by simply wiping lighting fittings and light bulbs and dusting or wiping shades.

Windows – again cleaning windows inside and out makes a big difference to the amount of light coming in to a room.

Cleaning cupboards – this is a great opportunity to have a clear whether it is out of date food items or unused kitchen gadgets

Carpets, Rugs and Curtains – If carpets are grubby consider hiring a carpet cleaning machine for a day or even a professional carpet cleaning company. Take rugs outside and give them a good beating (and yourself a great workout at the same time!). Take down curtains and shake outdoors or vacuum and have them dry cleaned/ wash as appropriate. It is the perfect time to swap heavy curtains for lighter ones.

Skirtings – an often neglected area. Dust and wipe clean.

It is a good idea to involve the family in the Spring Clean – young children love helping and older children can be responsible for tidying and cleaning their own rooms. So are you ready?

If you need help give us a call on 07745 876182 e mail on info@homestyle4u.com or complete the Enquiry Form below. We cover Cheshire and the North West. 

Homestyle 4U