Judith’s Diary


Selling Your Home – Can You Afford To Buy Your Next Home?


When you are looking to upsize, every penny counts. You have probably been saving hard, investigated the costs of estate agents and solicitors and researched the best mortgage deal. What you may not have considered is maximising the selling price of your current home. Your home is the asset you are selling so it makes sense to get the best possible price. After all, an extra £5,000 or £10,000 could enable you to buy the dream house you’ve just found. One analogy I often use when talking to clients is that of selling your car. If we are selling the car, we usually wash it, vacuum the interior or even have it professionally valeted – why? We do it because we expect to get a little bit more on the trade in value. The same principal applies when selling your home only more so. What you are aiming to do is maximise the space, give each room a purpose and create the right “feel”.


We all value space no matter how large or small our homes are. When I’ve conducted house viewings I’ve very often heard comments such as “it feels cramped” “We couldn’t fit our furniture in here” or “I want something light and airy”. These are all indications that space is an important factor to house hunters. You need ensure rooms are presented to show the true space available i.e. not crammed full of furniture or cluttered.

Spacious room








It is very easy to assume that buyers can visualise what a room can be used for. For, example, if you are using a bedroom as an office or junk room then it may seem obvious that it functions as a bedroom and the room dimensions may be on the property’s listing (beware, not all buyers bother looking at the dimensions). The issue when buyers view is that they struggle to picture precisely what space the bed will take up and whether they can fit storage in. This is the reason why I always take a tape measure and why you often see Kirstie Allsopp lying on the floor flapping her arms up and down as if she is making Angel Wings. So if you selling it as a bedroom furnish it with a bed and bedroom furniture.  In reception spaces that are being used for more than one activity then try to minimise the number of functions and zone the areas so it is easy for buyers to see exactly what the space is being used for. This may sound like you are spoon feeding buyers but what you are doing is making it easier for them to imagine themselves living in your property.

junk room



How often do buyers talk about the “feel” of a property when they are viewing? A house might tick all the boxes but they don’t go for it because despite that it doesn’t grab them. There is a balance between head and heart and very often it’s the heart that wins. So when you are selling you want buyers to walk through the door and just know that it’s the one. It’s those little touches that will make the connection and that’s why presentation matters.

The right home






So a quick reminder – if you want to maximise your budget and be able to afford to take that next step up the ladder then your home needs to have a sense of space, every room (or area in a room) needs a purpose and the home needs to touch the buyers. If you are selling then I have a free E Book with my 10 Top Tips so visit my home page, click on the link and down load today. For any further information call 07745 876182 or e mail info@homestyle4u.com. I cover Wirral, Cheshire and the North West.


Selling Your Home – How Choosing The Right Agent Can Increase Your Selling Price

For Sale Board

So you’ve outgrown your current home, you’ve decided to sell, you’re excited, you’re nervous if you haven’t moved before, you’re bewildered by the number and variety of agents and friends and family all chip in with their well meant advice which has made you more confused. It’s a misconception that all you need to do to sell your house is stick it on one of the property portals. Choosing the right agent is vitally important if you want to climb to that next rung on the ladder. Here’s some advice

Your Target Market

When selling it’s essential that you understand who is likely to buy your house because in order to generate interest and offers you need to get the right people through the door. For example, if you are selling a two bedroomed terrace your buyers aren’t going to be a large family. It’s easy to imagine that your home could appeal to everyone but chances are it won’t, everyone’s needs and tastes are different. If you try to cast your net too widely you risk missing out on your best prospects. If you are selling your first home and selling a house is new to you, think about why you bought the property. What was it about the house that made you buy it – the access to bars and restaurants, the ease of the commute. Who is your property likely to appeal to.

Right Agent, Right House

Having identified your target market you need to work out which agent is likely to be selling your type of property, if you are selling that two bedroomed terraced house in town the agent selling it is likely to be a high street agent not the one that sells the million pound country mansion. Do your research and visit local agents or look online to see what type of houses they are selling. When choosing an agent, people often drive round the local area to see which agents have the most boards as a measure of which agent is the most active. If you do this look at the type of locations where your type of house is situated. Don’t just look at For Sale boards, look for Sold slips on the boards, as an indication of which agents are actually selling.

Not All Agents Are The Same

Estate Agents have a bad press and sometimes this is justified but often it isn’t, having worked in the industry I know that a lot of hard work goes in to the selling process. If your budget is limited then it’s tempting to opt for the cheapest but bear in mind what you want is the best selling price, an agent may charge more but if they achieve a higher selling price then it’s worth paying the extra. Consider factors such as the quality of the listing, do the Particulars contain sufficient information, are the photos taken by a professional photographer, does the agent have a dedicated sales progressor. A third of house sales fall through before completion so having an agent who is proactive at seeing the sale through from offer to exchange and then completion is crucial. Presentation – is this something that the agent discusses with you or do they simply take things as they are? Presentation is a very important aspect of maximising your sale price. Why? Because most buyers do their searching online and if the images they see on your home’s listing aren’t appealing they may not even bother to click through. Plus you want your home to stand out from the competition.

Sold Sign

Do you want to know if your home would benefit from professional styling to look it’s best, or are you on the market but not sold, my Fact Finding session is the perfect way to find out. Call now on 07745 876182 or e mail me at info@homestyle4u.com. I cover the Wirral, Cheshire and the North West.

Selling Your Home – Tips from the Ideal Home Show

Ideal Home Show

On Sunday I had a fantastic time visiting the Ideal Home Show at London Olympia. The show is full of lots of different products and services – from those for renovating such as doors and windows, kitchens, bathrooms, flooring etc to accessories for those finishing touches. However, on this occasion I wasn’t thinking so much about the future property but ideas I could share with those who are selling and might benefit from a few tips.


KevinWhen selling one of the key steps that I advise clients to take is declutter because you always want to let buyers see the space available, plus clutter is a distraction when buyers are viewing. Having decluttered then you need appropriate storage. Storage needs to be functional of course but also attractive. One stand that caught my attention was that of Fineline Furniture a family run company located in Kilkenny, Ireland who specialise in making handcrafted furniture. What really caught my attention was the Box on a Box storage solution. I got talking to Kevin, one of the two brothers, who explained that the idea came about some six years ago and originated from them using boxes to stand on and then for standing the telly on. The system consists of nine boxes which can be configured in one hundred and forty different ways but the boxes can be purchased individually. The boxes are constructed from solid wood with dovetail joints. What I thought was so good was the sheer versatility of the system. Not only can the nine boxes be used for different storage options but they make great bedside cabinets, side tables and individual boxes can be mounted on the wall for display.  Even better, when you move you simply take the boxes with you and reassemble to suit your new home. Visit the Box on a Box page to learn more.

If you are selling a home with limited outside space such as a yard or area with a small area of grass then one problem you have is that you either have no greenery or the grass is looking unkempt. If you do have grass and it is in poor condition then you can remove the existing turf and re lay but if perhaps you aren’t living in the home and maintenance is an issue, or you don’t have a lawn,  then artificial grass is a practical option. The Artificial Lawn Company offer several versions.     

Artificial Grass


Another problem that often arises for those selling their home and trying to keep the home tidy is the jungle of cables for all the devices we own. One option is of course to tidy them away in a drawer but if you want a more stylish option, TouchDown Charging offers side tables and lamps which do away with cables and of course will move with you.

IMG_0482                       IMG_0481

One area where I did notice a lot of interest was log cabins and the centrepiece of the show was the Evolving Home, a seven unit modular house. The increase in changes in family living such as accommodating grown up children and elderly parents not to mention home working is a reason behind a lot of moves. It is always important when selling your home to ensure that each room is presented with a purpose in mind, precisely what that purpose should be will vary according to your target market and in certain circumstances, converting a garage or outbuilding could be a worthwhile investment.

If you are thinking of selling or are already on the market but struggling to sell, book a fact finding session with me to discover how exactly I can help maximise the value of your home for sale. Call me on 07745 876182 or e mail info@homestyle4u.com. I cover the Wirral, Cheshire and the North West

Interior Design – A Whiter Shade of Pale



Did you know that Inuits have over 17 words for white which they use to describe the various qualities of snow and ice? White isn’t actually a colour, it’s a combination of all the colours of the spectrum. White is good at reflecting light and has the potential to make a space look bigger. However, in the wrong light or large spaces it can look very stark and clinical. How many of us have been on holiday to the Mediterranean and been inspired to redecorate when we return home only to find that it doesn’t have the same appeal? That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use white it means that you need to find the right one.

White is of course fabulous as a neutral backdrop and a crisp white makes the perfect setting for a collection of modern art for example, and combines with bright colours. It is also popular in coastal locations. If you are someone who wants to use white but wants a more cosy feel then there are a plethora of choices of “off whites” – in fact sometimes it feels that there is too much choice! To give just one example, the Little Greene Paint & Paper Company have no fewer than 28 shades that they classify as white. As with any paint you should test on different walls and in both natural and artificial light. I paint a large piece of card or paper which can be moved around and a larger area of the colour gives you a more accurate feel for how it will look on the walls.

Off whites work well with other neutrals such as grey or beige to create a calm relaxed feel. When considering your scheme remember to incorporate different textures to add interest, such as wooden flooring or furniture and different fabrics. I’ve chosen a few pieces to give you ideas.

 Santorini bedlinenThere is nothing better than crisp white bedlinen to provide comfort at the end of a long day and that chic boutique hotel style. The Santorini Collection from The White Company is made in a wonderfully smooth and luxurious 200-thread count, pure cotton percale, and features a stunning, hand-worked ladder stitch along the edges. Plain white bedlinen looks expensive but also provides the opportunity to ring the changes with cushions and throws.

This vintage Morrocan Handira or wedding blanket from Bohemia Design makes a stunning throw, bedspread or wall hanging. The beautiful brightly coloured rows of kilim textile, soft fringing and silver sequins add texture and interest to what is otherwise a plain background and the detail is exquisite.

Bohemia-Moroccan-Handira-No.137_640x.progressive       Bohemia-Moroccan-Handira-No.138 detail




A sheepskin rug adds a comforting touch wherever you use it. Ideal to step out onto in a bedroom with            wooden floors, positioned in front of the fire or draped over a chair or bench as a throw. Wool has a number    of qualities  including being warm in Winter yet cool in Summer, it’s fire resistant, durable and hypo                 allergenic. Make sure you choose one that is 100 % sheepskin such as this one from WoolRoom. Alternatively, kilim or rag rugs add contrast to plain white walls and can be found in a variety of colours and designs to suit either traditional or modern decor.



The GRIMSÅS pendant light from Ikea is a fun statement light which has a pretty daisy like design that gives decorative pattern on the ceiling when lit and would suit both a contemporary or period interior Ikea Grimsas

If you are selling your property then white is the ultimate neutral background that enables buyers to picture themselves living in your home. Use colour in accessories to make it stand out online.

Looking to create your dream white interior? Call me on 07745 876182  or email me at info@homestyle4u.com. I cover Wirral, Cheshire and the North West.

Selling Houses – Head or Heart?


I’m normally talking about what to do when selling your property but this time I’m going to flip the coin and look at things from the buying perspective. I’m actually looking for a property at the moment and thought it would be useful to pass on some insights, after all, if you are a seller it always pays to consider things from the buyer’s point of view.

When we view properties we often talk about the “feel” that a property gives us. A property may tick all or most of the boxes on our wish list but somehow doesn’t grab us or conversely may not be what we had on the list but we fall in love (that’s why I recommend keeping an open mind about viewing properties). The “feel” is something that I talk to sellers about because as a seller you want to create that feeling.

If you are looking to buy, when you view a property for the first time it tends to be all about that feel. When you stand outside looking at the property does it make you want to get inside – the so called kerb appeal. When you walk through the front door do you feel excited, does your instinct tell you this is “the one” and does that sensation continue as you walk round. You could say that the first viewing is all about the heart.









By contrast, second viewings are about the head. They should be an opportunity to assess the practicalities. It can be easy to be blown away by a property only to realise later that in reality it doesn’t work for you and/ or your family and it’s better to discover this before you have incurred the expense and upheaval of a purchase. I recommend taking someone with you who doesn’t have any emotional investment in the property, someone you trust and who you can rely on to offer impartial input. If there is any suggestion that there might be work to be done take the appropriate professional. On the second viewing you need to try to detach yourself and be objective. It helps to have a list of practicalities that you can consider as you go round, for example, is there sufficient storage, is there somewhere you can use as work space if you work from home, do you need a downstairs wc and if there isn’t one could one be fitted, which way does the garden face? Take a tape measure so that you can check if any particular items will fit. Look carefully inside and outside for any possible repairs that might need to be undertaken. Consider also the practicalities of the location. One thing I often find myself thinking when watching programmes such as Location, Location, Location or Escape to The Country and people talk about long commutes is “really?” If you are thinking that you would be prepared to commute say, an hour, remember to consider what that would mean day to day – what time what you have to get up, what time would you get home, would you have time to enjoy sports, would you see the children before they go to bed? Other external factors are the proximity of schools, shops, friends, family etc. So take your time to way up these different factors that way you won’t end up regretting your decision either way.









I hope that this has been helpful and, if you’re property shopping at the moment – good luck! Please contact me by phone on 07745 876182 or e mail me on info@homestyle4u.com I’ d love to hear from you.


Selling Your Home – Is Upsizing the New Downsizing?


As you might expect, I enjoy watching all the property programmes such as Escape to the Country, A Place in the Sun and Location, Location, Location. One thing I have noticed from these programmes is that many of the older participants are looking to purchase larger homes when you might imagine that they would be looking to downsize. Why is this?

Such buyers appear to fall in to two categories. The first is those looking for a property that can accommodate visiting family members. The second is those wanting extra rooms for themselves. I have been thinking a lot about this and what it means.

In the case of the first group I think it’s a lot to do with modern life. Previously, families used to live close to each other geographically, in the same village or town, perhaps even in the same street. They were in and out of each other’s houses all the time. As they lived close by they didn’t need to be able to accommodate them overnight. In current times, children and siblings can be scattered far and wide up and down the country even abroad, whether for work or lifestyle considerations. We all travel more so we are familiar with other locations in the UK and overseas. This geographic distance means that parents need to able to put people up whether it’s for family gatherings at Christmas or having the grandchildren to stay while mum and dad snatch some time away for themselves.

FAmily gathering

For the second group, it’s driven by people retiring earlier, semi retiring or simply reassessing the work/ life balance. Buyers have more time for themselves and they want to pursue their interests. Therefore, they need rooms for crafts, hobbies, music or maybe a workshop. Retirement or semi retirement means people are likely to spending more time together and this may mean they want separate space for themselves.

craft room

Finding this extra space can be difficult, especially if you are moving to a more expensive location. It may be necessary that some rooms will have to serve more than one function – hobby room most of the time but extra bedroom when family or friends come to stay. Alternatively, it may require additional furniture. If you are upsizing and need some help then please call 07745 876182 or e mail info@homestyle4u.com. I cover Cheshire and the North West.


Interior Design – Trends for 2019


So we are well in to the New Year – the decorations have been put away, the tree has been recycled and we have recovered from all the excesses. Now the dust has settled and life is back in the groove perhaps you have started to think about a bit of a revamp of your home, a room or even just a specific area. if so, here are just a few of the trends to think about


Colour is such an easy and cheap way to effect a transformation whether it’s using paint, wallpaper or accessories. We are seeing a move towards warmer neutrals as evidenced by the announcement by industry leader Pantone of Living Coral as its colour of the year for 2019. According to Pantone this is an animating and life affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energises and enlivens with a softer edge”. 

COY-pantone-pms-limited-edition-color-of-the-year-2019-formula-guide-coated-uncoated-1 It’s  a warm, cheerful colour perfect for brightening a space and of course has the association with nature. It combines well with both deeper colours such as teal but also softer greens and white.







dulux-colour-futures-colour-of-the-year-2019-a-place-to-think-livingroom-inspiration-global-21_0Dulux’s Spiced Honey is a warm amber inspired by “the beauty and versatility of honey itself”  For those who want a change from taupe this makes a good alternative, a stronger shade but still neutral. For a dramatic scheme I would pair with Finest Burgundy or Cobalt Night or for a lighter scheme try Angora Blanket or Love Letter.



Pink is still big but I’ve noticed a move away from the blush pink that we’ve seen so much of to a deeper dusky pink that would combine with either of the above as well as grey or blue. This cushion and throw from John Lewis & Partners caught my eye.

Dusky Pink cushion


UpcycledSilk StitchedI think we have all become more aware of the environment and the concepts of upcycling and the use of environmentally friendly building materials and heating systems. Christmas saw a movement towards a less consumerist way of life with people spending less and more of a focus on people. In terms of our homes this means looking at items that are more hard wearing and made from recycled materials. Yorkshire company Stitched produces curtain fabric in eco friendly yarns such as flax and cotton twill. It also has a range of upcycled silk made from a mix of wool, flax and recycled silk.

Devonian company Weaver Green has textiles and furniture made from recycled plastic bottles (I love this Nomad Tarifa Ottoman ) whilst Earthborn produces eco friendly paint.





Totally Tropical

Palm-Leaves-Green-Wallpaper-112-2007The trend for jungle/ tropical inspired design looks set to continue. Think 1920’s and 30’s glamour combining palm leaf prints, jewel colours and metal furniture. Add a sense of drama with this palm leaf wallpaper from Cole and Son (which comes in other colourways) or Inject a bit of fun with a metallic pineapple shaped ornament like this from Hicks & Hicks golden-pineapple-decoration_8432-product




If you would like advice on how to introduce any of these trends into your home or any other design maters call 07745 876182 or e mail info@homestyle4u.com. I cover Cheshire and the North West.

Interior Design – The Home Edit


The New Year is a time when we traditionally make resolutions and these may involve the home whether it is a small activity such as redecorating a room or a major change such as moving house. In previous blogs I’ve talked about decluttering and a recent move away from minimalism but this blog is about the concept of “editing”.

I am currently in the process of moving house myself, and even though I’ve moved several times in the past the experience has been illuminating. I am not a naturally tidy person and I tend to go for the homely rather than minimalist look in my homes. However, I have to admit that I do seem to acquired a lot of “stuff” – some of it still unpacked from previous moves which has lingered in the garage! So I have unpacked all the boxes and evaluated everything. Some items have been quite easy to decide on others have been more difficult, either because of the circumstances in which I have acquired them or the identity of the giver. I am also one of those people who tends to hang on to things “just in case” which has forced me to be quite firm with myself. The result has been various items sold online (that could be the subject of another blog on its own), some donated to charity and others retained.

At the weekend I came across an article about a new book called An Edited Life by blogger Anna Newton. According to the article, the book applies to all areas of life but what I found most interesting was how it applies to the home and it seemed to very much resonate with my experience. The starting point is the idea that organising your physical space is the stepping stone to the other areas of your life. I’ve long subscribed to the idea that organising/ decluttering/ tidying, however you describe it helps reduce stress and makes it easier to get on with the other things you want or need to do.  What appeals to me about Newton’s concept is that it seems to be a happy medium between minimalism on the one hand and a space that is overly full on the other. According to Newton ” It’s not about stripping everything back. It’s about making small changes, tweaks in habits, editing of routines, decluttering of space, so you have more time to be productive and happy”  

I haven’t read the book yet although I intend to, but it seems that Newton’s approach to editing your belongings is similar to the William Morris quote ” have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful“. My interpretation of the quote is this – as you edit the contents of your home ask yourself do you love it? does it has a purpose – and perhaps “will I use it?”     Tip – if you haven’t used it in the last 12 months you probably aren’t going to. If you come across something that you love then get it out and find a place for it so that you can enjoy it. With my editing I adopted a compromise approach to things I hadn’t unpacked – some items I got rid of others I decide to keep either because yes I loved them or for purely sentimental reasons.

I have certainly appreciated having a tidy home, it does make you feel calmer, and going forward I intend to make some changes. One habit I have been trying to adopt is dealing with things as they happen instead of putting them on one side. For example, when an item of mail arrives open it and do whatever my be needed. If you can’t do that immediately schedule time in the diary to do it. Put things away when you have used them. Having streamlined the contents of my home somewhat I hope to keep on top of it in the future. I am also going to try to avoid replenishing the horde in the future, being a bit more ruthless at asking myself “do I really need it” although there is nothing wrong with the occasional treat.

William Morris

If you need help with selling your home, editing your home or planning a revamp of your home call 07745 876182 or e mail info@homestyle4u.com. I cover Cheshire and the North West

Home Staging – Selling At Christmas


Christmas is very nearly upon us and if your property is on the market for sale you might not be expecting any viewings. However, statistics from Rightmove show that millions of people search for their new home during the Christmas and New Year so it’s as well to be ready. Here are a few quick tips on how to present your property at Christmas.

1. Kerb Appeal – you want your property to appear welcoming but not like the local garden centre or DIY store. Resist the temptation to fill the garden with reindeer, snowmen, sleighs etc and instead opt for an attractive natural wreath for the front door. Planters with bay or holly trees either side of the entrance work well and a simple string of fairy lights along the fascia or twined round the bay/ holly trees adds a little sparkle.

2. Entrance Hall – If you have room, a console table with a matching pair of lamps or a lantern and a few decorations  create a welcoming feel. It’s best that these coordinate i.e. go for either a natural or more glamorous feel rather than a mix. A garland wound round a banister is another option.

3. Christmas Tree – make sure this is in proportion to the size of the room. Although viewers will expect a tree, remember that you don’t want to make the room feel small. Personally, I prefer a tree that contains a mix of decorations that I have been given or collected over a period, but if you are selling it’s nice to have a colour theme of two or three colours that fits in with the room’s colour scheme. If you like to follow trends, peacock blue is very popular this year. As with the exterior, when decorating your tree and the room generally, be restrained.

4. Finishing touches – greenery and scented candles are a good idea at this time of year. Greenery such as a poinsettia (I like cream or pale pink as an alternative to the standard red), cyclamen or an orchid are an easy way to introduce a sense of outdoors at a dreary time of year. Scented candles create a cosy feel – ask your agent to arrive a few minutes early so they can light them.

5. Practicalities – I know it’s difficult to accommodate viewings at Christmas as you may well have visitors and probably just want to relax but if can keep on top of the tidying, washing up and making beds that will make life easier if your agent calls.

Finally, if your agent has taken photos at a time when your decorations are up then you ask him or her to take further photos early in the New Year because nothing dates your listing more than images that are very time specific.


If you need help presenting your home for sale at Christmas, or any other time of year, call  07745 876182 e mail info@homestyle4u.com or complete the enquiry form below.   I cover Cheshire and the North West.

Interior Design – Dressing Your Home For Christmas


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?


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.





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.


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


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.


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


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?


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

Collage of images around estate agent's Sold board


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



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.







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.







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.






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.






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.






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.







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.

Image of plastic waste on beach                               Image of a collection of vases


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.




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.


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