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Homes Interiors

PLUS: Inside a seaside sanctuary, winterprooďŹ ng on a budget, creating a calming nursery and much more

Sh deali ady AW1 ngs as deep 8 goes ,d myst ark and eriou s

9 growing tips and tricks with plants

Peek inside Lady Portia’s ab fab pad

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Belfast Telegraph | 19 October 2018





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t seems the days aren’t the only thing getting darker! Everywhere you look the trends are for deeper, stronger, bolder shades of our favourite hues – from wall colours to flooring, furniture to accessories. Go for gold and team it with black or embrace the moody blues, greens, purples and burnt oranges that are the rage for AW18. If the thought of all those deep shades has you covered in gloom, fear not, as there’s plenty on offer in terms of bright, vibrant colours and glittering, shiny metallics too. As well as sussing out some of the key trends that are set to last long after this year, we’ve found some unique and beautiful homes to inspire you, including Wendy Torrens’ seafront home and Marcus Hunter–Neill‘s gorgeous Belfast apartment. We also look at trends throughout the home, tips for keeping warm during winter and what we should be doing in the garden... don’t forget to make space for nature!

COVER IMAGE: Wilbur Dining Table, £699, Wilbur 2 Drawer Sideboard, £699, Bryann Chair, £115, Harvey Norman



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LIFE’S A DRAG Lady Portia’s alter ego at home

MOOD MAKERS Things to make you go ‘ahh’ SCENTSATIONAL Home, sweet-smelling home GO LUXE Beautiful black meets gorgeous gold IN AT THE DEEP END How dark will you go?

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WENDY’S HOUSE Love of travel shows in seafront sanctuary THE LONG VIEW Trends worth adopting for your new kitchen BRIGHT NEW DAY Trish McNaughton loves her updated kitchen A MATTER OF TASTE Designs for dining HIBERNATE IN STYLE The Bedroom Edit

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RICH PICKINGS Bring autumn’s palette home BIG DREAMS ... for little ones HEAVENLY DOORS When your home actually is a castle SWITCHED ON Lights for ambience BATHROOM GLAM Bling it back GROWING TIPS 9 hacks for a green makeover SPACE ODYSSEY How a small corner was transformed into a bathroom CHILL! Get ready for winter TOPS FOR TOES Rugs to get your tootsies toasty DIG IN Autumn in the garden NATURE’S CALLING Make space for wildlife

PUBLISHED BY Belfast Telegraph, Clarendon House, Clarendon Dock, Belfast, BT1 3BH | ADVERTISING MANAGER: Jackie Reid, Belfast Telegraph, EDITOR: Fiona Rutherford, Realtime Editing & Design NI Ltd, | CONTRIBUTORS: Davina Gordon, Maureen Coleman, Maeve Richardson, Rebecca Petticrew DESIGN: Susan McClean, INM Design Studio, Belfast | PRINTING: INM, Newry

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Belfast Telegraph | 19 October 2018 Marcus restored the fireplace; the model of Lady Portia was made by an American artist

The perfect spot for watching the world go by

Life’sadrag...and Marcusislovingit! By Maureen Coleman


estled among a row of shops and businesses on the busy Holywood Road, behind an unassuming black door, is the home of Radio Ulster personality Marcus Hunter-Neill, aka well-known drag artist Lady Portia. With its eclectic interiors, old and new, gathered up from charity shops, family members and places he’s visited, the period-style apartment reflects his colourful, larger-thanlife personality and is his ‘happy haven’, where he wakes up every morning feeling grateful to have found his perfect home. An upstairs door leads onto a roof garden, which Marcus has extended and has decorated with dozens of potted plants to create his own peaceful sanctuary in an urban east Belfast environment. The roof garden is the hub of activity when he throws open his doors to host dinner parties for friends, something he enjoys doing regularly.

Doctor Who’s Tardis

“This place was such an incredible find,” he says. “To the passer-by in the street, you’d never know that there’s a beautiful, big apartment behind that front door. “It’s like the Tardis from Doctor Who. When you step inside, it’s so much bigger than you’d imagine. “Once inside, there are stairs leading up to the kitchen and beside it, the bathroom. I have a lovely big living room, looking out

His accommodating landlord has allowed Marcus free rein when it comes to decorating the apartment onto the street, where I can sit at the window and watch the world go by. “The apartment has three bedrooms, my own, a spare room for guests to stay over and a box room which I’ve converted into a dressing room for Lady Portia. It’s ideal for me because everything is in that one room, my clothes, make-up and a dressing table and mirror, where I can sit and get ready for any gigs I’m doing.”

Marcus Hunter-Neill enjoying life in the sun and (inset) transformed into cabaret performer Lady Portia

Apartment living

Marcus had been moving from his previous home and wasn’t looking for an apartment when an estate agent suggested he take a look at an old bridal shop above a hair salon that had been converted. Having never lived in an apartment before, he was hesitant to try it but once he walked through the door, he felt right at home and knew he had to live there.

“I got a really good vibe off it right away,” he says. “I just knew immediately it was the place for me. The landlord has been brilliant and let me decorate it my own way. Now that I’m here, I can’t see myself ever wanting to leave it.”

Colour and parties

Painted in strong shades of navy blue, mustard, bottle green and his favourite colour,

19 October 2018 | Belfast Telegraph

Homes & Interiors | 7

The rooftop garden where Marcus does much of his entertaining

EVERY DAY I WAKE UP I FEEL SO GRATEFUL TO BE LIVING HERE from charity shops or relatives, including a telephone table donated by his grandmother, evoking memories of his childhood days. Marcus not only loves his apartment, but the area he lives in – an advantage being that he has no other neighbours around at nighttime to complain about the music! “Everyone who works in the businesses in this row is really nice and friendly,” he says. “I have a pizza place next door, which is handy when I have friends round. And when I’m not entertaining, I can just close the door to the world, put my feet up and relax.”

Marcus’ grandmother gave him the telephone table and (left) a Lucille Ball poster looks great on a yellow wall yellow, Marcus’ home is cosy, bohemian and welcoming, with artwork on almost every wall. Brightly coloured footstools and throws add more character to the living room and there are plant holders at every sofa and chair where guests can place their glass of bubbly when they pop round for one of his dinner parties. The central point of the living room is an old fireplace which Marcus brought back to life himself and on top of it, sits a doll of Lady Portia, made by a New York-based artist who has also made dolls for singing legend Barbara Streisand. His apartment contains knick-knacks and furniture he has picked up


Being so comfortable and secure in his surroundings is something Marcus doesn’t take for granted, having lived in rented accommodation before. Five years ago, he was on benefits and living in a house which was ‘falling down’ around him. But after winning a place on a Government-backed BBC training scheme, he turned his life around and is happier now than he’s ever been. “Every day I wake up I feel so grateful to be living here,” he says. “I know what it’s like to be a landlord too and I’ve had tenants wreck the property, taking light fittings and ripping up floor boards, so I’m very respectful of my home. I don’t take anything for granted and if I had to live here for the rest of my life, I can honestly say I’d be very happy. “This is where I want to stay.”

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Belfast Telegraph | 19 October 2018 S PON S OR E D

yourstylewith AW18COLOUR The nights are drawing in and the fire’s lit but we’re all still looking forward to getting out in the cold for Halloween night. Then we have Christmas, bright lights and festivities, all set to a backdrop of rain, sleet and snow. All contradictions but that’s what makes Autumn Winter such an exciting time of year and no more so than in some of the hottest trends for interiors. So we’ve embraced the contradictions of Autumn and Winter and put together these equally exciting looks for this season.

The Saturated Look In today’s world we increasingly look at our surroundings through the lens of a camera, so this look interprets how colours become intensified, and sometimes surreal when manipulated by filters. Vivid colours do work in tandem to create expressionistic designs, particularly suited to smaller spaces or rooms with recesses and angles. Don’t be afraid to pair bright Signal Red or rich aqua tones with this season’s must have colour ‘Etruscan Orange’. When working with bright colours in larger areas use one colour all over, including the ceiling, to keep a sense of balance and harmony, then accessorise with accent colours and feature pieces of furniture. For more inspiration, news and trends joins us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

Moody and Intense Far from being gloomy, these dark blue, grey and berry hues are comforting and inviting. Applied in a minimalist style, they can be perfectly adaptable to any room. Try ‘Oxford Blue’ with ‘Nimbus’ for the lightning bolt effect on a feature wall, or try a cosy, graduated effect with ‘New Rose’ and ‘Violet Kiss’ from the Crown Colourmix Collection. Accessorise with tactile pottery, textured throws and dried flowers. These looks combine the dramatic and the soft, giving a sense of intense atmosphere and are easier to achieve than you think. Always apply the lighter colour first, then when it’s dry, block in the darker shade. For the ‘lightning bolt’, cover wide areas with a 9” roller, then switch to a small 4” roller and free style to the borders of where you want the basic shape, then tidy up the edges with a brush. For a graduated pattern, use masking tape to define sharp straight lines, or if you prefer a more blended look, use a dry paint brush to feather the edges where the two colours meet.

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Belfast Telegraph | 19 October 2018

Thinkstomake youfeelgood


hat makes you sigh with contentment? A walk on a sandy shoreline, with the sea breeze stinging your eyes? Snuggling under the duvet with a good book? Coming in after a day’s work to a warm welcome – and not just from the family or the dog? A few style adjustments can make a cold, bare interior much cosier and more uplifting. Turn a bare wall into a picture gallery, shift the random pieces of furniture into more flattering groupings and suddenly, each piece begins to shine. Would moving that chair with the black accents over to the bookcase with

its ornamental black boxes not make both of them look better? How about bringing the metallics closer together – that brass picture frame on a table by the brass standard lamp along with your favourite book? How about bringing in some cushions to pull together a few different colours and make them sing or making a feature of the old trolley in the kitchen by giving it a lick of paint and using it as a drinks trolley? Invest a little time in trying out different arrangements and you might find you don’t need any new accent pieces to inject personality into your home. However, if you are looking for a little extra oomph, there’s lots to entice out there this season....

Concrete bowler hat planter by Seletti, £47.50, www.

Macrame plant hanger, £4.99, HomeSense at TK Maxx

Style meets comfort in the Gaffer wing chair by Tetrad. It comes in a range of finishes, including velvets and linen mixes, £1,049, Albert Graham,

Harriot accent chair £699, Harvey Norman

Store your keepsakes or jewellery in this resilient, handmade, lined box with grosgrain ribbon pull (175 x 126 x 40 mm). Postcard Box in Dark Olive Seed Paper £19,

For a chunky take on the hostess trolley, Normann Copenhagen Block Side Table, £205,

The Dutchbone retro gin cabinet combines an iron frame with rustic wooden doors and is versatile enough to work in a hallway, living or dining room, £439, Dutchbone art nouveau flower tub chair in green, £489,

Be mesmerised by the Universe with this designer wallpaper from Mind The Gap. They come in sets of 3 rolls, each one measuring 0.52m x 3m, £150, The Humongous Grandfather Clock from Zuiver is a modern take on a classic, manufactured from resin with contrasting hands and pendulum. Available in white, black and grey, it’s manufactured from resin and is 38cm wide by 24cm deep by 97.5cm tall. It’s powered by 2 AA batteries, £479,

New Haven nest of two painted in Old Bone, £289, Harvey Norman

Who wouldn’t want a white grey furry basket? £16.99, HomeSense at TK Maxx

Emma Bridgewater Wallflower medium vase, £29.95, range of stockists

Brown leather chair with metal legs, £379.99, HomeSense at TK Maxx

The versatile Dutchbone Vintage Luggage side table can be used open or closed, £99,

19 October 2018 | Belfast Telegraph

Homes & Interiors | 11

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Art is vital for creating a mood and personalising your space. Galleries across Northern Ireland have a wonderful array of art and some, like The Yard in Holywood, stock prints for an even more affordable option. Artists like Adrian Margey (page 35) and Keith Drury capture the essence of a place so you never have to feel far from your favourite spot. Dream Series Causeway Coast by Keith Drury, £99, www.yardgallery. com and other outlets Dumbbell gold photo holder £7.50, Doughnut gold photo holder £7.50, www.

Ellie sofa £599, wall art from £55, cushions from £18, Harvey Norman

Wendy leather accent chair, £899, Harvey Norman

The Mood Maker

By name and by nature, The Mood Maker is a special trend. It’s all about creating an interior you’ll love to spend time in. You can easily create this trend with a few iconic pieces, such as lush velvet cocktail chairs, new moody lights, floral cushions and strong pieces of wall art. Sometimes too much is never enough! Bold colours, floral accents and vintage-like pieces are making their way front and centre. The pieces Harvey Norman’s stylists have used to bring the trend to life include everlast-

ing faux flowers, stunning mirrors and wall art. Any one of these would be eye-catching on its own but by bringing them together they’ve created a modern, indulging trend. The Harvey Norman buying team have travelled the world designing a new range of velvet, leather and fabric accent chairs for the Irish home. The trend is opulence at its peakand with the Harvey Norman cushion collection available from just €15ea, everyone can create this look.

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Belfast Telegraph | 19 October 2018



Pine Needle, Cedarwood Atlas & Lemon, Medium Candle (30cl) £12, Reed diffuser £20, TulipMoon TulipMoon has a fabulous range of handmade products using natural ingredients. These slow-burning candles are made with 100% soy wax and essential oils. Soy candles are non-toxic, and slow-burning... perfect for the colder and darker nights, while Pine Needle, Cedarwood Atlas & Lemon is another fabulous seasonal option. Made locally in Belfast, check out the full range online at or pick them up at craft fairs, including The Wonderful Winter Fair at St Anne’s Cathedral on November 3.

As the nights grow longer most of us have a tendency to embrace cosy nights in. Maeve Richardson picks some of the best scents to help you unwind and enjoy the peace and quiet before the madness of Christmas takes over.



Oud and Bergamot and English Oak and Redcurrant candle, £47, Jo Malone Jo Malone has done it again with this unique offering. Conjuring images of the forest at dawn and the juicy bite of redcurrant, this bewitching scent is perfect for crisp evenings. And with a burn time of 45 hours it will see you through the long dark nights.

Esta Aroma Diffuser, £57.50, Neal’s Yard Sophisticated and stylish, the sustainably-sourced bamboo is cut by hand to allow maturing flowering strands to flourish. Creating a fine mist, this diffuser is ideal to help combat drying central heating. Elemis Life Elixirs Five scents imbued with emotional essentials to promote physical and mental wellness and bring you back to yourself. Designed to restore inner balance, choose from Calm, Clarity, Fortitude, Embrace or Sleep.

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Pomegranate Noir Room Spray, £46, Jo Malone This sensual room spray contains ruby-rich juices of pomegranate, raspberry and plum, spiked with pink pepper and laced with Casablanca lily and spicy woods in an enticing scent that creates a memorable atmosphere.


Organic Aromatherapy Candle, Balancing, £29.95, Neal’s Yard Scented with relaxing bergamot, balancing geranium and grounding patchouli to subtly fragrance your home. These candles are handmade by a traditional candle-maker on a farm on the north coast of Cornwall using an organic blend of beeswax and botanical wax, infused with a blend of soothing oils.

Life Elixirs Clarity Candle, Elemis, £36 Designed to uplift, invigorate and focus, this refreshing scented candle awakens the senses when you need to focus and be creative. It includes notes of stimulating bitter orange and warming, aromatic cardamom and ginger. A perfect scent for anyone who works from home to help achieve a productive frame of mind.


Balancing diffuser, £39, Cowshed A blend of rose geranium, linden blossom and frankincense offers an instant mood lift – a nice one to smuggle into a moody teenager’s room!


Blood Orange diffuser, £34, Mor Uplifting ruby red Italian blood orange mingles with soft summer notes of jasmine, rose and lily of the valley to excite and enthral the senses, perfect if you’re not quite ready to let go of the memories of warm summer nights.


Soothing Aromatic Candle, £33, ESPA An aromatic blend of pure essential oils myrrh, frankincense, sandalwood and rose geranium to help you relax, soothe and unwind. This scent is a blissful accompaniment to a luxurious bubble bath!


Restorative Aromatic Reed Diffuser, £39, ESPA Sweet orange, lavender and palmarosa comforts, calms and rebalances the senses to create a tranquility that infuses every room.


Uplifting diffuser, £39, Cowshed This stylish room fragrance features wild-crafted mandarin, petitgrain and grapefruit essentials oils to leave you feeling invigorated and energised.


Life Elixirs Fortitude Candle, £36, Elemis Feel empowered with this woody scented candle which grounds, strengthens and harmonises. The candle contains delicate ylang ylang known for its uplifting effect, harmonising cedarwood and restoring geranium, to have you back in fighting form in no time.


Snow Gardenia candle, £28, Mor Classic and feminine, this floral fragrance allures and fascinates with notes of snow white gardenia and angelica, ambrosial juniper berries and amber.


Twilight body spray, £20, Lush


Bibliothèque candle, £54, Byredo With top notes of peach and plum and undercurrents of violet, peony and leather, this candle is designed to infuse any space with a romantic scent, conjuring images of a tranquil library with mounds of books just waiting to be read.


Uptown Funk body spray, £29, Lush Technically these are body sprays but I’m a massive fan of multi-purpose products and these beauts can also be used to freshen up soft furnishings! Available in a range of scents, my top picks are Uptown Funk body spray – an upbeat chorus of neroli, bergamot and Sicilian lemon – and fairytale-sweet fragrance Twilight, a harmonious blend of lavender and tonka that instills a sense of calm.

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Belfast Telegraph | 19 October 2018

Wilbur dining table £699, Wilbur 2 drawer sideboard £699, Bryann chair, £115, Harvey Norman

Oriental Black Chest, £149, Dunelm Savannah Stripe Black Cut Velvet Cushion, £18, Dunelm Faux greenery, from £3 – £13 each

Tulisa Flamingo Table Lamp, £65, Dunelm

SharpandChic 

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Miro Corner Sofa, £2,499, Harvey Norman

Infinite design, flawless, sharp and functional, Upper Chic is a core trend for AW18 from Harvey Norman. It easily fits into any home and blends beautifully with either neutrality or maximalist interiors. Taking major inspiration from Hollywood Regency Style, the trend is all geared up for glamour with lots of glitz and gold accents. Hollywood Regency dates back to the 1930s; the ‘Golden Age’, where producers wanted to emulate the scale of their stars on screen by designing equally opulent backdrops. With this heavy emphasis on glam it’s no surprise that gold takes centre stage. It’s a mix of bold statement pieces, luscious fabrics and delicate accents and is perfectly demonstrated with Harvey Norman’s new range of lighting, artificial flowers and textiles. Harvey Norman Head of Homewares, Yvonne Nugent says: “You can interpret this trend at home by using accents of gold alongside luxurious heros like our Miro Corner Sofa and the new Wilbur Dining range in a honeyed oak.”

Copper Vase, £35, Star by Julien MacDonald

Pleated Vase, £35, Next Cruz Table Vase, £119, Furniture Village

Beautiful Black Gorgeous I Gold Tahlee Palm Leaf Design Uplighter, £22, Dunelm

Lisbett Dining Chair, £199, Harvey Norman


f you ever needed a reason to redecorate, now’s the time. While we’re big fans of explosions of colour at Homes & Interiors, we also love the opulence and decadence of black and gold. If done right, adding gold to your decor will add a touch of luxe to your living space. Don’t go overboard though, there’s a fine line between classy and tacky. However, don’t be wary of using gold as a rug or even carpet, gold doesn’t need to be

relegated to being an accessory. Black is the perfect partner to gold. Again, you don’t want too much black; instead, add small blocks here and there. You can also balance out black by adding gorgeous tactile pieces and white. You can also nod to the black and gold trend by adding touches of leopard and zebra print. Think photo frames and cushions, you definitely don’t want either of these prints as a feature wall – or carpet. Here are our top picks to make your living space a class act.

19 October 2018 | Belfast Telegraph

Homes & Interiors | 15

Pax Tassel Pendant Ceiling Light, £120, Debenhams

Monkey Tealight Holder, £16, Dunelm

Ava Pillar Candle Holder, £12.50, M&S

Carraway Side Cabinet, £329, M&S

Gatsby Gold Wall Ladder, £115,

Black and Gold Speck Bowl Vase, £30, Debenhams

Antique Brass and Bronze Electric Flute, £75, Antique Brass and Bronze Electric Lamp, £75, Harvey Norman

Antique Wire Mesh Electric Pendant Gold, £125, Harvey Norman

Lantern, £30, Matthew Williamson @ Debenhams

Cushions, £19 each, Harvey Norman

Leopard Embroidered Cushion, £55, Laura Ashley

Spray Cushion, £60, A by Amara

Cult Living A2 size abstract art framed poster, black and gold, £25,

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Belfast Telegraph | 19 October 2018 S PON S OR E D Gibbs Armchair



Designed with comfort in mind, each luxury corner sofa in our range is available in an extensive variety of fabrics and colours. From classic country house designs to contemporary minimalist styles, every designer corner sofa is fully guaranteed for 15 years. All corner sofas are available in eight different ranges, alternatively, we can design bespoke corner sofas tailored to exact requirements and taste.


Sofas from £2,495.00 The pipe border detail around arms and back together with pulled button detailing of the Gibson sofa give it a unique and memorable appeal. Loose seat cushions with piping and two piped bolsters ensure supreme comfort. Gibson is the sleek and versatile piece for an indulgent seating experience.

Oscar Love Seat

Chairs from £895.00 Charming and luxurious, our glamorous new Oscar range includes a loveseat, chair and bar stool; all designed to make an impact. Chic curves and a deep buttoned back are the hallmarks of these pieces, with an optional swivel plinth and sumptuous layers of padding as standard.

Bespoke beauty


renda Living - The Sofa & Chair Company, specialises in luxury sofas and bespoke furniture for both retail and commercial application. All of our luxury furniture is handcrafted using kiln-dried hardwood timbers. Our top quality, solid beech wood frames are guaranteed for 15 years for lasting assurance. Dedicated to true craftsmanship, we pride ourselves on having only the finest manufacturing practices, authentic materials and a steadfast commitment to quality. We continually strive to offer an impeccable service and a memorable buying experience. All items in our extensive designer furniture collection are available for customisation in the fabric, timber and finish of your choice. We are able to accommodate any specific requirements

in size, finishing or detailing for all luxury furniture pieces. Your furniture will be handmade by our team and can be delivered to you in six weeks from receipt of all fabrics and deposit. We are pleased to offer complimentary parking and our dedicated account managers and interior experts will always be on-hand to discuss your unique projects. Our aim is to provide our clients with a luxury one-stop destination for all your interior requirements, which can be fully customised to your specific needs. Our unique room does not only demonstrate the ‘London look’ that we are so well know for, but also the diversity of our product ranges and exceptional craftsmanship. From our luxurious upholstery collections to our sophisticated homeware, our entire product range is on display for you to see first-hand.


The Gibbs armchair is a glamorous addition to our collection, featuring a beautifully curved back with sumptuous fluted detailing. With a fixed seat cushion and optional swivel plinth, this is a modern take on a design classic.


The Duchamp sofa combines the perfect mix of comfort and luxury. Ideal for modern living, it features pulled effect with seam detailing that will give any living room a lift in style. Its linear aesthetic and lavish seat cushions offer a truly tailored edge.



Sleek and versatile, this luxurious contemporary sofa sports deep buttoning to the back and sides as well as intricate piping detail. Winston’s strong geometric lines and elegantly turned legs form a distinctive design visually, while layers of foamwrapped feather and down padding ensure an indulgent seating experience.



Prices from £265.00 Light up your world with our extensive collection of glamorous lighting solutions, sourced from top suppliers and fashioned from the finest materials.

Prices from £235.00 These elegant tables pair a beautifully contemporary base with intricately detailed table tops. Available in three finishes, these pieces are the perfect combination of beauty and function.


Rugs from £650.00 A contemporary collection of elegant and luxurious rugs bringing you the best of sophisticated London living. 100% Viscose rugs, Hand tufted rugs.

18 | Homes & Interiors

Belfast Telegraph | 19 October 2018

Abigal Ahern for Debenhams

y Harve n a Norm ert l trend a

Rivage double duvet cover, £65, Harvey Norman

DarkRomance 

Fiesta feather cushion £18, Paradise cushion £25, Chiswick cushion £35, Tree of Life cushion £30, Meridian Raspberry cushion £25, Harvey Norman

This trend is turning the pared back look on its head. Dark Romance is all about bold colour and luxe fabrics combined with WOW floral prints. The Harvey Norman Head of Homewares, Yvonne Nugent says Dark Romance is one of this season’s biggest interior trends. “But don’t worry, it’s not about clutter and chaos, it’s about statement pieces. I’d recommend starting with a smaller room and over time you’ll gain more confidence to decorate your main living areas in this look too.“ Start with the cushion collection at Harvey Norman. Play with clashing colours in rich velvets that mix lush raspberry with teal. Mix emerald, sapphire, burnt orange and aubergine, whatever you like! It’s your space for you to get creative. Why not make a Dark Romance statement with a piece of art from Harvey Norman’s new art collection ‘Maximalist Masters’. After all, a piece of art should up emotions. So always remember anything you bring into your home you should love for yourself. Make the move from the greys and neutral bases and be bold.


deepend I

f you’re thinking of taking the on darker walls and the rising or setting plunge and ditching your neutrals sun playing on the surface can be breathfor a darker interior, try it out in a takingly beautiful. Designer Laurel Bern small space first to see if it makes advises going for colours that have some you feel warm and fuzzy... or in warmth in them for cold, north facing need of a hug! Since the first walls. “If the paint colour has any grey, item on the agenda for this trend is wall green, blue or lavender undertones, colour, it’s easy to feel your way towards those are going to be magnified.” She a shade you are happy with. Go for blues recommends yellows, golds, reds and and greys rather than dark purples spicey browns for these rooms. and black if you’re not certain you Make the space warm and invitPerfect for a want to go the whole hog. dark decor, rose ing by injecting colour, texture and The amount of natural light com- gold decanter, personality. ing into a space has a huge impact Mix your darks with bright £20, Next

Blenheim mirror 72 x 183cm, £425, Sunrays mirror, £210, Meridian mirror, 55 x 55cm, £150, Harvey Norman, www.

The leather straps with brass details give this beech framed Riva full length mirror from Dutchbone a masculine feel, £259, cuckooland. com

19 October 2018 | Belfast Telegraph

Homes & Interiors | 19 White furniture and the metallic chandelier pop against the dark surroundings. Dorma Burford duvet cover from £50, Burford continental pillowcase, £20, Burford pillowcase pair, £30, Burford cushion from £25, Burford bedspread from £160, silk cushion, £30, Victoria upholstered bedstead from £649, Juliette 5 drawer chest, £749, Dorma products available from range of stockists

Light on dark makes for a snug bedroom... Pajaro double duvet cover, £65, Harvey Norman,

colours that become the focal point of the room and have mirrors and metallics at the ready to gleam and glimmer, throwing light into every space. Statement chandeliers and floor and table lamps are a vital element of darker rooms and give that warmth and cosiness that people want. Designer Abigail Ahern is one of the leaders of the move towards darker, moodier interiors. She says in order to get that feeling of snugness she’s after, she paints out all the radiators, skirting boards, ceiling and floor so that everything is the same colour and is knocked back and then she goes to town with patterns and an abundant mix of smooth and tactile textures. She also plays about with scale – putting something large on top of something small to create a focal point and makes expert use of mirrors. Check out her videos on YouTube for handy tips.

Brushed champagne and green marble dome lamp, £90, Balanced gold mirror, £85, Harvey Norman, www.

Vibrant sunflowers and zinnias fade away to rich graphite on this soft merino wool throw, with a contrasting rich plum border and hemmed edge. Indian Sunflower Graphite Throw - 130 x 180 cm Indian Sunflower throw, £225,

The gold pattern and swan motif on a dark background makes for a luxurious wallcovering, The Swan, £150 for 3 rolls,

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Belfast Telegraph | 19 October 2018

Seafront sanctuary by Fiona Rutherford


h, home sweet home! The place where you feel centred and can relax and process the sights, sounds and experiences of your latest venture overseas... At least that’s how it has been for Portrush woman Wendy Torrens. While most of us view home as a sanctuary after a day’s work a few miles away, this adventurous woman loves to travel, and to bring mementoes home to her beautiful three storey Victorian house along Bangor seafront. “This has been home for 17 years although I haven’t always lived here,” she says. “For a lot of the time I’ve been travelling the world and working elsewhere.” Sport and fitness has been a passion and career for Wendy throughout her life, so travel has often involved skiing, sailing and walking, with stints running ski chalets, crewing on Tall-ships around Europe and hiking mountains all over the world. Having worked as a fitness professional and journalist, she quit work for the world of academia a few years ago and now has a PhD and a burning passion to help local communities become fitter and healthier.

Wendy’s love of France has influenced the outside of the house, with boxes of flowers and bistro table

The views over Ballyholme Bay


Always one for a project, she has transformed what was a rundown house into a shabby chic-style, welcoming home. “The house was derelict when I first saw it. The lady that had it had passed away.” She was undaunted by the state of the building as she had been looking for a house with a sea view over the previous seven years. “This house came on the market before and someone out-bid me, but it came up again quite quickly and I got it. I honestly couldn’t believe it. “We worked on it for almost a year. It was a huge job, a new extension was added to the back and it needed to be rewired, replumbed, new windows, bathrooms, kitchen – actually when you started one job you quickly realised everything needed done! It was renovated overtime, as I was working in Dublin and

This print of Dunluce Castle by James Kelly was a gift from the artist and is one of Wendy’s favourites

Wendy’s dad did the woodwork and McClintock’s of Coleraine made the stained glass window

had professionals come in and do bits, as and when I had the funds. While Wendy’s flair for home-making is obvious, she had her dad scratching his head with some of her ideas. “I asked him to make semi-circle doors for the bathroom. He thought I was crazy, but I love them.” The result certainly has the wow factor, as does the striking, deep arch stained glass window in the kitchen, with matching doors. “My dad did the woodwork and I got McClintock’s of Coleraine to do the stained-glass windows.

“I went through a phase with glass bricks too,” she laughs. Walls of glass brick are cleverly used to let light through to the kitchen from the hallway and to divide the main bathroom, without losing light. “I wanted port-holes in the hall to introduce more light but the planners said no, however, glass pane doors have helped.”

Original features

Wendy was sensitive to the original features and reused any materials she could. “We

used the bricks from the dividing wall in the kitchen to do the brickwork around the Aga and the fireplace in the dining room, also the wooden floors are the old, original boards which is amazing since it’s believed the house was built circa mid 1800s.” Also, it was decided to leave some of the original stonework exposed above the fireplace, as a way of connecting with the house’s past, while elsewhere in the kitchen, the walls are plastered in a rustic style. “A lot of people would say the plaster should be smooth for the Victorian era, but I liked the idea of an old French farmhouse and that’s the look I was going for.” She hopes one day to be able to live in France, one of her favourite places in the world, preferably at Île de Ré, an island off France’s west coast, or the resort of Biarritz, which features in a huge framed painting upstairs.

Antiques and collectibles

Wendy’s love of antiques often sees her at auctions and the house has many items of furniture which fit right in, such an antique dresser in the kitchen where she displays her beloved Arklow china, including a pretty set of teacups and saucers which one of her many friendly neighbours bought her. “My dearest friend is from Arklow, in Co Wicklow, and I love the china from there. Her mum worked in the pottery so it has a special place in my heart. I love their pale blue

19 October 2018 | Belfast Telegraph

Homes & Interiors | 21

The main bedroom is in the French rustic style

Wendy bought the hall curtains from Thailand

The hall curtains were bought in Thailand and Wendy’s father made the curved bathroom doors

collection and the willow pattern – they make any celebration feel extra special.” She’s also proud of her acquisition at auction of the Curragh men painting which she had long admired. It’s hung just inside the door of the sitting room which is upstairs. Unsurprisingly, the eye is automatically drawn to the windows which offer uninterrupted views of the beautiful Ballyholme Bay. The room is full of light, with rich curtains, deep

shabby chic couches and an open fire, for cosy nights in with her family. Everywhere you turn in this bright, serene house, there are mementoes of Wendy’s travels, “I love travelling and always bring something home, unfortunately it’s usually breakable or large, which can be difficult.” This is evident from a striking vase which she brought home from Turkey, to a statue of Venus from Rome, and a chandelier from

France. She also brought one of the units in the drawing room upstairs from England, having first seen it in Sumatra and says it took some doing to get it here. I look from the large photo of the Himalayas over the Aga to her questioningly, “That’s the Annapurna circuit in Nepal, I walked it a few years ago,” she says. Apart from the European trips, she’s had three long stints exploring the corners of the

world, which all started when she set off for a year as an AFS exchange student when she was 18 years old. “Then I went travelling again for a year in 1998 and again in 2004, after I got married. The trips are always amazing and have included all sorts of adventures, from walking over 800km across France and Spain following the Camino de Santiago, to climbing up to Machu Pichu in Peru.” The travel bug obviously hasn’t left her, although she’s busy looking after her family, “Someday I’ll paddle from the Atlantic to the Med on a stand-up paddleboard, to help raise awareness of mental ill health.”

22 | Homes & Interiors

Belfast Telegraph | 19 October 2018 Colour expert Maria Killam’s website www. is an excellent source of practical advice. She analyses this kitchen and demonstrates how it could be improved.

Lastingtrendsfor akitchentolove


f there is one room you don’t want to have to change every few years, it’s the kitchen. Installing a new one is about the most expensive home improvement you can make, next to building an extension, so avoid giving short-lived fads a major role when planning yours. Unlike fads, which come and go in a matter of months, trends tend to last for about a decade or more such as the white kitchen which remains popular. Its versatility means you can simply introduce warmth through wood or colour via the walls or accessories if you feel yours is beginning to look dated. If you’ve finally had enough of it, simply have the doors painted your new favourite colour.

Social life

It seems safe to say that the nation’s love of the ‘sociable’ kitchen is going to be around for a while with an enduring emphasis on keeping the kitchen at the heart of the home. Islands are as multi-purpose as it gets, doubling up as extra storage and worktop space as well as a place for the kids to do their homework or friends to chat while you’re getting on with the dinner. They can also

Not quite right...

Much better

hide a multitude of dirty dishes from dinner guests – one downside of the open plan kitchen. Some people are getting around that by adding funky open shelving to partially screen the kitchen, or a raised breakfast bar.

New and improved

Handle-less cabinets remain stylish and while some people swear by open shelving, some kitchen manufacturers are now including

sliding doors on units so that customers can have the best of both worlds. Slide them back to leave the shelves open when you’re working without risking banging your head on open doors, then simply slide shut for a neat finish – genius. The carousel corner units are also an excellent use of space and of course the pantry is another much-loved must have for kitchens now, doubling up as stylish storage space while also functioning

as additional workspace where you can keep everything required for breakfasts or coffee time. Say goodbye to the kitchen bin in the corner with large drawers creating plenty of room for a mix of bins so that you can do your recycling as you go along. Pull out shelves are also an excellent way of making the most of space but are also much more convenient to access than hauling everything out of cupboards.

19 October 2018 | Belfast Telegraph

Homes & Interiors | 23

Must have...

Make the most of storage space

The ProLine combisystem from Miele brings the smarts to your kitchen with integrated induction hob, gas and even extractor. The ProLine elements can be installed independently of an oven in a run of kitchen units and the space underneath be used for drawers or cupboards, depending on the model. The integrated extraction at the centre allows for completely new planning options.

Taste matters

As far as styling is concerned, anything goes, from marble finish luxury kitchens, to Shaker style, from industrial modern to rustic. Two tone cabinets are in vogue, whether you prefer white or grey on top with a darker colour beneath or two tones of the same colour. The choice of wall colour has a major impact and can set the tone, whether you want something cool and sophisticated or the total escapism of the girly unicorn finish, with pastel walls and the occasional spot of glitter. While herringbone and Moroccan style patterns are popular now, only opt for them if you love them anyway.

If you have open shelving, keep it looking stylish by using storage jars rather than having a jumble of packets on display

Ask the experts

Fun and funky dining in an open plan kitchen

If you are investing in a new kitchen, it is worth going to a reputable company where you are assured of value for money and lots of assistance with the design process. While it is exciting planning a new kitchen, it can be quite complicated trying to co-ordinate different colours and materials for the wall and floor tiles and worktop, especially if you are using quartz or marble. Beware of

ending up with a yellow-beige tone in the same kitchen as a clashing pink-beige tone. Canadian colour specialist Maria Killam says people can save themselves a lot of heartache with one simple hack: “Find a picture you love online and then just copy it. There’s no shame in it, truly. That’s it. Simple. Don’t let anyone talk you out of your inspiration kitchen.” See www.mariakillam. com for useful colour advice.

The huge wall art gives this design for a small apartment kitchen the wow factor

The original pantries were for keeping perishable foodstuffs cold in pre-fridge days. These days, they’re all about extra storage and workspace while adding a style statement to your kitchen, especially if you have one made and use the same worktop as in your kitchen. This one is by McGovern Kitchen Design in Co. Fermanagh.

Quooker have now improved on their boiling water tap with a new version that also dispenses cold filtered drinking water. Put your kettle out to pasture as a flower pot with these innovative units. Choose a separate boiling water tap with accompanying mixer tap, or a single tap for hot, cold and boiling water.

Integrated bins make sorting food, paper, plastic and glass waste a doddle. These units are from Häfele,

24 | Homes & Interiors

Belfast Telegraph | 19 October 2018

Kitchen refurb ticks recycling boxes

The new kitchen maximises the light and feels twice as big as the old one

Trish McNaughton’s kitchen was more shabby than chic. An environmentalist, she had set her heart on reusing her old units and her determination has paid off with a stylish and efficient redesign.

19 October 2018 | Belfast Telegraph

Homes & Interiors | 25

The breakfast bar and cupboard to the right are new additions


kitchen renovation is not for the faint-hearted. Consider that the average cost is between £10,000£25,000, with 10% spending over

£50,000. Over the years I have stuck to the DIY path and have achieved acceptable results with careful painting of cupboard doors and good use of new handles to make a kitchen brighter and better. But as the DIY willingness and the free time waned, handing over the reins to a professional seemed a better option. The first kitchen showroom I visited did

not share my reduce, re-use, recycle enthusiasm. No, cupboard carcasses could not be re-used they said – rip it out and do a complete re-fit, and that will be £11,000 thanks. Our kitchen, just over 10 years old, was shabby with splitting doors, little cupboard space, and a corner carousel cupboard that apparently cost a fortune but was hard to turn, even harder to clean and was where much food seemed to go to die. Worst of all, the room was dark, only getting the sun after 1pm, and the black floor, dark worktops and wooden cupboards did not help. Eventually we found a company, Beach-

The old kitchen’s dark finish wasn’t helped by the lack of natural light side Kitchens in Bangor, that would do refurbishments. The designer sorted out the pet hates, organised new worktops and doors (white gloss to catch as much light as possible) and a whole new shelving system on a previously unused wall. Add in a breakfast bar and suddenly we had what felt like a kitchen that was twice the size, with double the cupboard space. All existing cupboard carcasses re-used and a lot less off to landfill. A new cooker, hob and fridge were needed but the existing dishwasher stayed. The cost? £6,000.

26 | Homes & Interiors

Belfast Telegraph | 19 October 2018

Matters oftaste

Cara Dining Table, £599, Elise Dinning Chair, £99, Harvey Norman


hether you love to get the family together for dinner every day, or want to entertain friends in a sophisticated setting, it’s wise to invest in quality when it comes to choosing a suite. Dining furniture – especially the chairs – can take a lot of abuse so opt for something that will stand up to the sustained wear and tear of every day usage. The open plan kitchen and dining area means there’s an emphasis on getting a look that works with your kitchen but don’t worry about being too matchymatchy. For the table and room furniture, shapes tend to be quite streamlined, modern and simple while the materials and colours are used to create the aesthetic, whether you choose to go rustic with wood or painted wood, or cosmopolitan with glass and metals. Chairs can be chunky or refined or a mix of both. A bench is great for squeezing in extra people at the table and for the most flexible of dining suites, go for one of the very many different styles of extending tables. These come into their own if space is normally at a premium and are a much better option than trying to fit in dining furniture which is simply too big for your room in its every day state. A circular table is a good idea if space is at a premium. If you want to give your dining area a bit more definition, a large floor rug is a great solution – make sure the chairs all fit comfortably within it borders. For entertaining, make sure you have tableware, cutlery and glassware to match the occasion. Gold and rose gold are having a moment and are perfect for everything from vintage to luxe settings, however, silver remains timeless. Last but not least, is lighting. Chandeliers and pendulum lighting are classy and modern and great if you have dimmer switches. Avoid harsh overhead lighting when you’re entertaining, with table lamps and candles to finish with a flourish. We love Ian Snow’s range of Austin candlesticks in Dining fun, funky and Chair, £129, functional Harvey styles which Norman will save your table or tablecloth from wax spills.

Pink Glass Bead Candlestick, £9.99,

Mirrored round tray, gold edge, £19.99, Homesense at TK Maxx Bellevue 12 piece dinner set, £59, Belleek Living

16 Piece Manhattan Brushed Gold cutlery set, £49.50, Marks & Spencer Green and gold metal table lamp, £34.99, Homesense at TK Maxx

16 piece rose gold cutlery set, £25, George at Asda

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Homes & Interiors | 27

Napkin rings, set of 4, £34, Newbridge Silverware Metallic foil table cloth, £20, Next

Gold teapot, £12.99, Homesense at TK Maxx

Studio Blue 4 Piece Cereal Bowl Set, £45, Denby

Erne Gin and Tonic Pair, £14.95, Galway Living at Belleek Avery Sideboard, £899, Harvey Norman

Arthur Price – ‘Echo’ by Laurence Llewelyn Bowen 18/10 stainless steel 7 piece cultery place setting, £44.40, Debenhams

Gold Pineapple candlestick holder, £12.75,

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Belfast Telegraph | 19 October 2018

Mathea throw, £70, McKellar throw, 150 x 183cm, £50, Boden throw £40 ea, Harvey Norman

Hibernate in



t might not get as many visitors as the front room but despite being seen less often, the bedroom deserves no less consideration when it comes to choosing decor. It’s not all about looks; creating a calm and cosy haven can make the difference between a good night’s sleep and bad. That said, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be beautiful as well as functional.

Farrow & Ball Stiffkey Blue No.281 Rich, dark colours: Deep jewel tones

carried across both walls and soft furnishings makes a strong style statement and as we head into the darker winter nights there’s nothing nicer than cosying up in a luxurious gem of a bedroom. Go for deep navy, purple and emerald hues and experiment with variations of the shades, or mix the rich colours together for the ultimate luxe look.

Perfection is overrated: Move over


Delicate white goose feather lampshade from Primrose and Plum, £49,

Emerald velvet cushion with contrasting piping, £19.99, Zara home Casual cotton textured duvet set, £75, Harvey Norman

Velvet cushions, feather lampshades and cosy woollen or fur throws all make welcome additions to a bedroom in winter, bringing warmth and texture to a room. They can Dark blue velvet also be an easy and bedspread, cost effective way to £79.99, H&M update the look of a room. Accessories are the perfect solution for anyone keen to experiment with darker or bolder colours without the hassle or cost repainting would bring.


There will always be a place for the pareddown, calming tranquillity of Scandinavian style decor, Living Lounge especially in a Woven Grey bedroom. Let the Herringbone muted colours, Throw, £27, natural textures and minimalist decor ease you into a relaxed state ready for sleep.

100% pre-washed linen duvet cover in Carbon, £75, La Redoute

Wabi-Sabi style bedroom featuring the new season collection from House of Fraser

hyggae, wabi-sabi is the new trend in town. Hailing from the same country, but not to be confused with, the similar sounding Japanese condiment, this ancient philosophy focusses on celebrating the beauty of an imperfect world. It’s a licence to fill your surroundings with things you love so feel free to team mismatched duvet covers and pillowcases, embrace eclectic furniture and leave the iron in the cupboard – who needs perfectly ironed bedlinen? Include elements of nature, from houseplants to beautiful stones and natural materials like wood, linen and wool. A word of warning: you do need to be careful in your execution of wabi-sabi – your room should feature the things you love in all of their glorious imperfection, it’s not an excuse for hoarding or slovenliness.

Woven furniture: No longer confined

to sunrooms, garden patios or the ‘70s, rattan woven furniture is bang on trend, bringing a laid back, natural feel to a bedroom. From woven beds to armchairs to dressing tables, everything you could possibly need has been given the rattan treatment.

Reema kingsize bed, £549,

Nadia handwoven dressing table and stool, £206.50, Habitat

Rattan Armchair, £139,

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Belfast Telegraph | 19 October 2018

y Harve n Normaert l trend a

Barouge king low-end bed frame, £1949, Barouge 9 drawer dresser, £1579, Harvey Norman; walls Colourtrend ‘tea rose’

Naturallywild 

Roxburghe leaner mirror, £250, Sunningdale mirror, £200, Hampstead oak veneer mirror, £250, Harvey Norman

We love Harvey Norman’s Wild Rose theme, which gives an Irish twist to the luxe trend. It’s all about those pieces that make the deepest impression – think self-indulgent, rich and luxurious fabrics and colours. It allows you to bring the rustic feeling from the Irish landscape inside; ochre, rust and rich berry using velvets and wool. “What the Harvey Norman buyers love about this trend is that it’s made up of those ‘long term must haves’ that you bring from home to home like the statement gold leaner mirror or the Colourtrend range of furniture and bedding,” says Yvonne Nugent, Harvey Norman Head of Homewares. Harvey Norman are collaborating with Colourtrend so you can customise the finish of your furniture and add a personal touch that is unique to you. Each piece from the Colourtrend range is finished in Ireland to the highest standard, ensuring that your furnishings’ finish lasts for years.

Rich pickings

19 October 2018 | Belfast Telegraph

Homes & Interiors | 31

Palm tree motif velvet cushion, burnt orange, £20,

Luna Rug by Verpan at Chaplins Furniture,

Funnel pendant lamp, £390,

Draw inspiration from the season with its warm and spicy colours. From rusty browns through to reds, orange and yellows, it’s a rich, vibrant palette overhead and underfoot

Omari Bedding in Aubergine, double bed cover, £95, Bedeck of Belfast

Berry Sheepskin Rug, £59,

Turquoise & orange cushion, £20,

Luxury Tibetan Sheepskin cushion with suede reverse, 40 x 40cm burgundy, £92,

Oak lamp base orange. Park Life shade, £170.75,

Camel Stewart tartan cushion, £39.95,

32 | Homes & Interiors

Belfast Telegraph | 19 October 2018



Bigdreams for littleones

By Davina Gordon



ust like your little one’s future, the possibilities are endless for your baby’s nursery. For the first few years of their life, it should be a serene and calming place that also ignites their imagination. If you’re stuck for what colour to go for, lavender is a great option. It’s soft and works beautifully for a girl or a boy. For a nursery that pops, add a glitter ball to reflect light or even customise a cot mobile with one. Babies will be mesmerised by the light show it creates. It’s good to foster a positive relationship with animals early on – motifs of lions and elephants are wonderful options, but you



can add a little magic with fantasy creatures like unicorns. If you’re short of space, mirrored sliderobes will add light and hide unsightly clutter. Box shelving is a great way to fill a wall with storage and it also works as a display unit for pictures, ornaments and toys. Finally, add lots of texture with throws and cushions (essential for those early morning feeds and bedtime stories). A large, soft rug is a luxurious focal point for a nursery, just choose one that vacuums easily – long pile rugs are a magnet for dust and pet hair. Have fun and make your child’s nursery as personal as possible, you’ll both be spending lots of time in there.









6 7 18 19 8



1 Personalised Large Wooden Toy Crate, £36.99, 2 Baby Blue Keepsake Drawer Box, £19.99, 3 Bloomingville White Rocking Sheep, £105, Amara 4 Box of 30 Glow in the Dark Stars, £4.95, Rex London 5 Little Unicorn Night Light, £12.95, 6 Little Cloud Night Light, £12.95, 7 Shruti Throw, £39.99, Shruti Cushion, £24.99, Totem Gifts, Ballyhackamore 8 Tooth Fairy Envelope, £6.99, Totem Gifts, Ballyhackamore 9 Children’s Wooden Toy Drum in Grey, £19.95, 10 Ferm Living Mr Gradi Snake, £92, Amara 11 Nursery Fox Poster Print, £4.50, Mode Prints 12 Twilight Rainbow Playmat, £99, Too Many Pjs 13 Little Interiors Convertible Pink Cot, £549.95, Urban Avenue 14 Ice Cream Storage Bag, £10, Bobby Rabbit 15 Dinosaur Hot Water Bottle and PJ Case, £22, M&S 16 Luxury Faux Sheepskin Rug, £30, Next 17 Seaside Nursery Dress in White, £665, 18 Oeuf Classic Cot Bed in White & Birch, £820, 19 Baby Bird Mobile, £4.95, Rex London 20 Elvis the Elephant Coat Hanger, £3.95, Rex London

34 | Homes & Interiors

Belfast Telegraph | 19 October 2018


heavenlydoors... Hillsborough Castle, image © Northern Ireland Tourist Board


t’s a sad fact that it’s considered rude these days – although not unheard of – for ordinary mortals to go up to someone’s door and ask to see around their house, simply because it looks nice. Unfortunately, apart from flocking to showhouses, the best option for having a peek at other people’s homes is to take a paid tour of something stately. For those on the look out for somewhere new to visit, there are three very old but recently improved options that are certainly worth a day trip....


HILLSBOROUGH CASTLE The seat of the royal family when they’re in Northern Ireland, as well as the Secretary of State, the castle has been taken over by Historic Royal Palaces, the charity which maintains the Tower of London, Kensington Palace and other VIPs (very important properties) in England. Their expertise is leading to the steady £16m transformation of this stunning castle into a top visitor attraction with highly entertaining and informative guided tours. Among its toomany-to-mention attractions are the Throne Room with its Chairs of State, the staircase hall with its display of satirical cartoons and Lady Grey’s Study, where Tony Blair and George W Bush discussed the Iraq War and where Mo Mowlem entertained Hilary Clinton. It was Mo’s favourite place to relax. The Red Room is lined with the Bone Miniatures - portraits

Ballylough House of each of the royal spouses, bought by Prince Albert, which have never before been on public display. The gardens are stunning and are open daily, year round, with the walled garden, currently being restored, opening to the public in April. The castle is open from Wednesday – Sunday from October to March and daily during peak months of December and April to August, unless members of the royal family are in residence. See


BALLYLOUGH ESTATE Ballylough Estate and Ballylough House, on the Castlecatt Road outside Bushmills, boast an extraordinary history dating back to before Dunluce Castle. The house was originally built circa 1400 and then extended in the 1650s. It was sold to the Traill family in

Tea time at Ballylough House 1789 and generations later the current owners are David and June Traill who want to explore as much of its incredible history as possible. David’s colourful talks are already legendary and include details of the on-site Crannog (a small man made island build to protect the residents against wild bears and such creatures). It was here that a ‘piece of wood’ was found which has been identified as a cooking pot dating back to circa 3500BC. It’s to Ballylough that the gold from La Girona was first brought (alas it’s no longer there) and the McQuillans lived there between 1450 and the 1650s before marrying into the McDonnells and acquiring Dunluce Castle and the rest, as they say... The family have turned four bedrooms over to a unique bed and breakfast experience where visitors become a guest in their house - and what a house! Weather permitting a stay at Ballylough can include one of the

aforementioned informative tours and you’re only a hexagonal stone’s throw away from the Giant’s Causeway. See


MONTALTO ESTATE Montalto house, built around 1765, is private although available for private hire but the grounds of Montalto Estate are worth a visit, according to people who have been there since it opened to the public for the first time last month. The house itself overlooks a lake and is surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens. There are walking trails throughout the 400 acre grounds, a new forest playground and a lovely café and gift shop as well as the Carriage Rooms, a mill which was converted into a wedding venue a few years ago. The estate, on the outskirts of Ballynahinch, dates back to the 1600s and was the scene of the Battle of Ballynahinch during the 1798 uprising. See

Montalto Estate

Hillsborough Castle, image © Historic Royal Palaces

19 October 2018 | Belfast Telegraph

Homes & Interiors | 35 S PON S OR E D

Margey’ssolo exhibitionreturnsto CullodenHotel


rtist Adrian Margey is returning to the Culloden Estate & Spa with a major solo exhibition and sale of his work from Thursday – Sunday, November 1–4. Margey’s much anticipated annual Autumn exhibition draws visitors and collectors from across Northern Ireland, keen to view the artist’s latest body of work.

Mount Stewart Memories

Renowned for his innovative approach to capturing the familiar, this collection will not disappoint with more than 40 new pieces on show at the Culloden. North Down, Ards and Belfast have provided the main inspiration for this new body of work, but depictions of the North Antrim Coast, Connemara and Donegal also feature. Margey uses expressive brushwork together with palette knife

Artist Adrian Margey in his studio

and finger painting techniques to create his original pieces. “I always look forward to returning to the Culloden with my annual exhibition of work. I have continued to explore the local area this year and have created a new body of work that reflects it. I will be on hand to discuss the work throughout the exhibition and hope that visitors enjoy the show,” commented Margey. Opening times: Thursday, November 1, 6pm – 9pm; Friday and Saturday, November 2 – 3, 11am – 8pm; Sunday, November 4, 11am – 6pm. Admission is free. Visit or telephone the artist’s Portrush Studio on 078 4159 3762 for more information.

Mussenden Calls

19 October 2018 | Belfast Telegraph

Homes & Interiors | 37

Switchuptheambience BY MAEVE RICHARDSON


ighting is so much more than just light and darkness, it sets the foundation for any mood and is a key factor in

creating atmosphere. Here is a selection of lamps that will help you set the right tone – from the bedroom to the home office – while encapsulating the latest AW18 interior trends. This season there is a strong focus on


metallics, which is a great way to add a dash of luxe to any room – here are the best of the bunch in finishes ranging from brushed champagne to copper to nickel, even Goldilocks would be sure to find one that’s just right!



If you’re looking for something a little quirkier, check out these fabulous pieces. This spherical rose gold lamp hits multiple trends at once and is a real eye-catcher, it might be a little too bling for some but it definitely appeals to my inner magpie. The Oliver Bonas lamp is beautiful in its simplicity, and the Seletti Caractere lamp is a fantastic way to add your own stamp to a room.



3 6

7 5 8



If metallics aren’t your thing, soothing aqua shades are not just for summer, they are here to stay. These glass beauties are especially attractive and would work well with even the most neutral of colour schemes.



12 13 This matte black lamp and accompanying round mirror is a timeless classic that would make an impressive addition to any room, while this Milan-cut table lamp has a vintage feel that’s hard to resist.

1 Brushed Champagne and Green Marble Dome Lamp £90, Balanced Gold Mirror £85, both Harvey Norman 2 Helsinki Lamp, £119.00, oakfurnitureland 3 Lee Broom Crystal Bulb Table Lamp, £285, Nest 4 Occasional Table Lamp, £180, Nest 5 Shera Table Light £30, Lucky G9 Table Light £40, Shera Ceiling Light £90, Shera Wall Light £25 each, Harvey Norman 6 Shiny Nickel Task Floor Lamp £200, Shiny Nickel Task Table Lamp £100, Harvey Norman 7 Soho Home Elena Table Lamp £125, Soho House Retail 8 Soho Home Perry Table Lamp £225, Soho Home Retail 9 Green Base Table Lamp, £20, HomeSense 10 Glass Lamp, £39.99, HomeSense 11 Kyoto Lamp, £199.00, oakfurnitureland 12 Matte Black 2-Ball Table Light Lamp £140, Round Mirror in Gold, Silver and Copper £40. 13 Milan Cut Table Lamp, £55, Dunelm

16 14 Rose Gold Lamp, £39.99, HomeSense 15 Vico Table Lamp Pink £36, £36, Oliver Bonas 16 Seletti Caractere LED Lamp, £90, Amara

38 | Homes & Interiors

Belfast Telegraph | 19 October 2018 S PON S OR E D

Farley limestone perfect forluxury home


hen David Scott Tile, Bath and Stone Specialists were approached by a client in Mid Ulster who wanted a stone floor with character, the Farley limestone was the perfect fit. Managing director Gareth Scott explains: “The tones may be soft and muted, but the stone is as hard as nails – virtually indestructible, in fact. “The natural riven face of the stone is smoothed off, then ‘seasoned’ to give you the appearance of a time-worn, country-house floor. “It was the perfect choice of stone for this idyllic country retreat as the clients’ brief was a stone with true character. “When they saw the Farley limestone, they loved it so much they used it in small format herring-bone bricks for their entrance drive as well as in large format slabs for the patio and the deck around their swimming pool,” Gareth continued, adding: “It looks amazing used indoors with hand-painted kitchens too!”

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Belfast Telegraph | 19 October 2018

Glam Y


ou don’t need to do a full-on makeover to reclaim your bathroom. Why not turn it into a peaceful sanctuary rather than the place where laundry goes to die and add a touch of sparkle with these fabulous but functional accessories. Santiago Mirror Grey,

A touch of luxury that won’t blow the budget, with Maeve Richardson 

If you’re anything like me and struggle to keep even a hardy aloe vera plant alive (they are not as indestructible as people claim – I’ve laid waste to at least five of them) why not play it safe and add some year-round blossoms with this faux greenery from Harvey Norman.

£39, JDWilliamsHome


One of the simplist ways to update a room and make it appear more spacious is with a mirror – the Santiago mirror’s frameless bevelled shape with a smoked colour glass is an on-trend piece this season, and the coloured glass is what makes this piece truly unique, while still remaining classic! If you want to go bold and bright, why not check out this vivid ceramic Oliver Bonas number instead.

Mini Skull Perfume Bottle, £19.50, Audenza

Faux Greenery, from £3- £13 each, Harvey Norman


A bathmat is essential and there’s a massive range on the market but if you wanted to splurge on something really different check out this feminine little floral number – a fab addition that would work really well with neutral colour schemes.

Tricia Round Bath Mat, £140, Amara


Sometimes it’s the little touches that make all the difference, whether it’s a piece of art or candles that provide soothing lighting and relaxing aromas – these four little beauties are a great way to add a personal touch to your bathing area.


Another easy way to add a pop of colour is to pick up a new soap dispenser. There is an incredible range of styles available from pop art to art deco in a rainbow of shades and if you shop around it really dosn’t have to break the bank either. Here are our top three picks:

Blocco Acrylic Soap Dispenser Pink, £25, Amara

Textured Glass Soap Dispenser - Clear Gold, £11.50, Amara


This vanity jar is not only functional but adds a touch of Hollywood glamour, equally at home in the boudoir as the bathroom, and a great place to store cotton wool pads and other beauty essentials, helping to keep your bathroom organised and decluttered.

Serene Waves Print, £109.00, JDWilliamsHome

Vanity Jar, £12.99, HomeSense If money is no object and you want to really make a statement, this bathtub is the ultimate mix of contemporary furniture design combined with luxurious details and high-quality materials – as much a work of art as a piece of furniture that’s bound to leave an impression.


Dispenser Sapone Giallo, £12.35, Excelsa

This mini skull perfume bottle is a quirky way to funk up your dressing table or bathroom shelf. It is available in a choice of two gorgeous shades (pink or blue), and features a dramatic black bulb atomizer with a black tassel. The screw lid enables the bottle to be filled with any scent, and it comes in its own decorative box, making it a great option as a gift too.


Ceramic Square Wall Mirror, £49.50, Oliver Bonas

White Buddha, £19.99, HomeSense

Newton Bathtub, Price available on request, Brabbu Design Forces

White Ceramic Lantern, £1.99, HomeSense

Solar Small Mirror Lantern, £4, Penneys

42 | Homes & Interiors

Belfast Telegraph | 19 October 2018



ouseplants are the ultimate addition to all of this season’s interior décor trends. From soft unstructured ferns to spiky succulents, anything goes. And we shouldn’t just value them for their aesthetic appeal, they’re actually good for your health too. NASA scientists have spent decades researching the effect plants have on air quality and the results are conclusive: plants clean and filter the air as well as reducing the amount of bacteria and mould spores in their environment. So there’s the science, what are you waiting for? Give your home a green makeover.

monstera deliciosa

More is more


9tipsfora greenmakeover

THE BIGGER THE BETTER: Evoke ‘70s hippy chic and let a Monstera Delicosa, probably better known as a cheese plant, loose in your living room. This climbing evergreen is a member of the Arum family and is beloved not just for its large, perforated leaves – which some say look like swiss cheese, hence the name – but also because it’s fairly hardy and will survive a little under or overwatering. Other large additions could be an Areca Kentia palm, Kentia palm or a Yucca. palm

section in garden centres, taking cuttings from friends and growing things from seed – it may take patience but you’ll have a great sense of satisfaction when your tiny seedling becomes a giant.



MORE IS MORE: Now is not the time for discreet minimalism; create an indoor jungle by varying size, shape and texture. Mix it up when it comes to your planters too, go for a variety of colours, materials, shapes and sizes. Apply the same logic as you would to a family photograph: everyone in close, biggest in the back, smallest to the front.


BANG FOR YOUR BUCK: Plants can be expensive, especially the larger species. Save money by checking out the reduced

SUPER SUCCULENTS: The top of 2017’s plant must-haves was succulents of any shape or size and their desirability doesn’t seem to be waning. It’s a commonly held misconception that succulents thrive on benign neglect; they can actually be quite tricky to grow so choose your sunny spot carefully. Although available in a variety of hues, some of the brighter coloured plants need more sunlight than is available inside so a good tip is to go for anything which is naturally green, they tend to need less sunlight.



ADD A LITTLE COLOUR: You don’t have to stick with green, there’s a wealth of ways to introduce colour with plants. Variegated leaves are bang on-trend, with plants like Victorian favourite the Aspidistra seeing a new surge in popularity. Go for the less common Aspidistra elatior ‘Milky Way’ with its yellow speckled leaves or a Fatsia japonica ‘Variegata’ whose large cream mottled leaves will brighten up a shady corner. If you want true colour, look no further than the Aspidistra elatior pretty pink mottled Milky Way

19 October 2018 | Belfast Telegraph

Homes & Interiors | 43

Potty about...

Orla Kiely large hanging plant pot in oval spot flower apple print, £26, plus other stockists


INCREDIBLE EDIBLES: Many of us would struggle to think beyond herbs when it comes to edible plants you can grow indoors, but even in the depths of winter, a bright windowsill and central heating is all you need to grow lettuce and other soft greens like rocket and spinach. If you don’t have a sunny spot to germinate your seedlings, an artificial light set up will ensure you have a salad crop year-round (you can get good, cheap ones at most garden centres or online).

The Eden Suction Planter by Okidome attaches to windows, tiles and the fridge and incorporates a water reservoir system, £17.50,

Polka Dot Polka Dot Plant or the amethyst hued Purple Velvet Plant, whose striking furry purple leaves echo this season’s love for all things velvet when it comes to soft furnishings.


Purple velvet plant

COLD WATER SHOCK: Did you know that plants hate a cold shower almost as much as we do? The shock of cold water hitting their roots can slow growth and cause damage, so it’s best to use tepid water or cold tap water which has been left overnight to warm up to room temperature when watering.



HANG OUT: Trailing plants are achingly hip, especially when presented in that ‘70s favourite - a macramé hanger. Combine trends and choose a String of Pearls, a trailing succulent whose fleshy leaves resemble a pearl necklace, or add colour and length with the Tradescantia whose pink or purple striped leaves grow on long trailing stems.


DO YOUR HOMEWORK: Not all plants have the same light, water and temperature requirements. It’s worth doing your research to see what each specific plant needs as it can quickly become an expensive hobby. Whilst we don’t have to subscribe to the Feng Shui belief that dying plants bring bad energy into the home, I’m sure we can all agree that rotting plants do nothing for a room’s aesthetic.

Luxe drip plant pot, £30.95,

44 | Homes & Interiors

Belfast Telegraph | 19 October 2018

Our SPACE odyssey




or the many people living in two and three bed semis, there’s something surreal about other people talking about their utility room, second bathroom and en suites. Daily life means someone jigging about, holding on, while someone else commandeers the only toilet. As for anyone caught going in with an ipad or book and looking forward to a lengthy reign on the throne? Out of the question, unless the rest of the household is already tucked up in bed. You might assume there’s simply no space for that longed-for second loo but in fact, it’s amazing what you can achieve with the right help. The space under the stairs is often a possibility, but in some cases, there’s not enough headroom or the

The downstairs bathroom has improved the hallway and an unused door through to the living room now opens into a new cloakroom space is being used for a boiler house, accessed from outside. In our case, we had a small alcove behind the front door which had been pressed into use as an open

cloakroom. A large window beside it seemed to rule out there being enough space to build a toilet there as it left very little wall between the bottom of the stairs and the front door. We asked plumber Ian Stevenson to come and have a look and were encouraged when he didn’t rule it out at once. Joiner Noel McLarnon came and had a look and like Ian, wasn’t sure it would be a great success but didn’t think it was beyond doing either. It’s recommended that you have 30 inches clear in front of the toilet and we had 21. Our feeling was that it might not improve the look of the hall but it was worth pursuing, given that ours is a family of four and sometimes five during holiday seasons and we’ve had enough of sharing one bathroom.

Our only conundrum now was what to do with the coats? With my mum being of the stock that can’t come to visit without suggesting some major structural changes – ‘Why don’t you take away the front garden so you’ve more room to park’, ‘Why don’t you knock through from the kitchen to the living room’ – it wasn’t surprising that the solution came from that quarter. We had two doors into the living/dining rooms from the hall, only one of which was ever really used. “Why don’t you build a cloakroom in the dining room and access it from the hall,” suggests Ellie. Bingo. We had already decided to swim against the tide and do away with our open plan living/dining room. We picked up a set of glass doors for £20 on Gumtree and have created two rooms again. The addition of what is now called Nana Ellie’s cloakroom has given shape to one part of what had been a long, boring rectangle. The new cloakroom has shelving – finally a place to stash brollies, hats, scarves etc and we decided to go for a pole rather than hooks, which limit the amount of coats you can hang up. The cloakroom isn’t deep enough for hangers so a trip to Ikea’s kitchen department saw us home with an attractive chrome rail with 20 hooks. Finally, after more years than I care to recall, our home makes sense and everything has its place. Most importantly, because we used professionals to do the work, it looks great too.

Style statements Double Copper Pipe Wall Hook, £21, Lime Lace


Ian managed the project, organising the trades required, from an electrician to move the hall light bulb further away and add a light fixture for the new bathroom, to a glazier to replace the small window beside the front door with an opener. The heatwave was in full swing on the first day of work and there was much sympathy for the lad who came, armed with just a pickaxe and shovel, to dig the new manhole. While he was working outside, Noel was building the frame for the new bathroom and it was quickly apparent that any fears about it being far too cramped were unfounded. As the work progressed over the next few days, the attention to detail by a team of professionals was plain to see. They created a recess for the small sink Ian had bought, the toilet and dinky little radiator (ahem) were installed, pipes were concealed, the walls were skimmed, the door hung and all that was left for us to do was the painting. The end result far exceeds expectations. I had anticipated an ugly, but necessary addition to the ground floor but in fact, the new bathroom enhances the appearance of the hall, giving it shape.

Adalyn Round Mirror, £485 Sweetpea & Willow This round mirror is formed of delicate mercury glass and has a thick-edged gold iron frame. Like the copper pipe wall hook, it’s perfect for an industrial chic vibe.

19 October 2018 | Belfast Telegraph

Homes & Interiors | 45

Findyournewkitchenor bathroomatHomefit


ou’re assured of a quality kitchen or bathroom at the right price from Homefit. This family run business has been serving customers from far and wide since 1989 and now has branches at 4 Hannahstown Hill, Lanark Way and Kennedy Way, all in Belfast.

The latest addition, Homefit for Bathrooms, which opened at Kennedy Way two years ago, displays a full range of PVC wall panelling along with modern, stylish bathroom suites. Homefit provide kitchens and bathrooms to suit every taste and budget. Styles cover everything from contemporary to traditional.

The experienced in-house design team is on hand to guide clients through every step of the process. With a superb reputation and a wealth of experience the friendly team promises to make buying your dream kitchen or bathroom an enjoyable and exciting process from start to finish.

“Whether you are looking for great value or a designer kitchen then we are sure you will find our broad spectrum not only attractive on the eye but unbeatable value,” said a spokesman. Have a look around the website for ideas or go along and visit the kitchen showroom at Hannahstown Hill or the bathroom centres at all three locations for inspiration.

46 | Homes & Interiors

Hottips forhouseholders

Most of us know the basics for keeping a car on the road – how to check the oil level, tyre pressures and washer water, however, similar checks and maintenance on your home can save you money and prevent disaster striking. We asked plumbing and heating contractor Chris for his tips for householders.


he water system in a home is broken into two parts – heating, which is obviously all to do with your heating system and domestic water, which deals with the water that comes out of the taps and waste water. Chris says the most important advice he could give anyone, especially coming into winter, is to be aware of both and to ensure their heating system is in order. “Make sure your boiler is serviced and your heating system has been checked every year. “Plumbing never enters anybody’s head until something goes wrong. That means if you aren’t thinking about it, you are not maintaining it. “You should know how and where to turn things off, including your electrics. People need to know where to find the main stopcock, usually under the sink or in the hot press. You need to be able to turn it off if something goes wrong.” Anyone who has had their kitchen replaced should also check they can still access the stopcock. “Some kitchen fitters don’t mind about the stopcock so long as the kitchen units are all fitting together nicely.”

was £100, not cheap. The householder was smart enough to put a mark on the oil pump and when he checked later, he found the engineer had charged him £200 for doing nothing. The moral of it is know your heating system so that when someone comes in you will know if something has been done.”

BEAT THE CHEATS While most of us probably don’t expect to be au fait with our boilers, Chris says it is worthwhile getting acquainted with yours, so that you can be confident that work you’re being charged for is carried out. “I could be going to fix a central heating system and ask when was the last time it got serviced and they say ‘last year’ and when I look at it, it hasn’t been fixed – that isn’t as uncommon as you would think.” He recalled one case that made it to court a couple of years ago. “An old man’s boiler broke down and they got a boiler engineer out. This guy checked it and said look, you need a new oil pump – it

NOT ALL EQUAL Chris warns that all heating engineers are not equal and especially when it comes to installing gas. “The work should be done by registered plumbers but just because they are Gas Safe registered doesn’t make them a plumber. An electrician can go and do a gas course and get a qualification and start fitting gas.” The safeguards for householders come from the local council’s building control officers. “When you get gas in you get a certificate from the plumber and building control and the one from building control is to tell you that it’s installed properly.” Many householders throw out receipts


Belfast Telegraph | 19 October 2018 and a breakdown of work done on their homes. Chris says it’s a good idea to hold on to those so that the householder or someone else moving in knows who to go back to if there’s a problem.

OTHER CHECKS As well as having a professional in once a year to make sure your system is running efficiently, Chris advocates doing a few maintenance checks yourself. “Carbon monoxide is very dangerous – it is known as the silent killer. Get into the habit of checking CO alarms every month along with your smoke alarms. When your boiler is being serviced the engineer should check these as well.” For anyone getting a plumber out to advise them on these essentials, Chris recommends finding out whether their home has a low or high pressure system as that impacts on what action you need to take if you have a leak. “If you put a nail through a heating pipe, with a high pressure system you might get a bucket of water leaking out but with a low pressure or open vented system it would run and run and run, therefore you need to do something - it won’t stop until you fix it. If you know what you have got then you will not go too far wrong.” An annual gas service costs upwards of £80, but get a quote when booking. An oil service is normally a bit cheaper but whatever the cost, it is worth making a date with your plumber. FIGHTING FUEL POVERTY Chris is quick to promote the Affordable Warmth Scheme to householders on low income. “People think you can’t get something for nothing but you actually can with this. If your household income is under £20,000 pa you can get really important home improvements done. I tell all my elderly customers to get it.” While councils are now contacting people in areas where there is a concentration of fuel poverty, householders can apply to

Make sure you have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

19 October 2018 | Belfast Telegraph their local council themselves. They complete a survey and following assessment by the Housing Executive, are then told whether they are entitled to help and how much work they can get done. The scheme prioritises insulation, draught-proofing and ventilation first, then heating, then windows and finally, solid walls if they require insulation. “If they are successful they could get new windows, insulation, cavity wall insulation, heating, windows, there’s a lot of things there,” says Chris. “I had an elderly customer who was looking after his wife who had dementia and he got three new windows, a front door, new boiler and radiators, the loft insulated and new hot water cylinder and new tanks in the roofspace.” The grant limit in the Affordable Warmth Scheme is £7,500, or £10,000 if solid wall insulation is approved. “If the contractor is asking for more money, the householder can check with their case officer whether it’s justified,” Chris advises. There is also a boiler replacement scheme run by the Housing Executive. It’s open to owner occupiers whose household income is less than £40,000 with an inefficient boiler over 15 years old. The grant of up to £1,000 dependent on total gross annual income is available to help with replacing an inefficient boiler with a more energy efficient condensing oil or gas boiler; switching from oil to gas; or switching to a wood pellet boiler. For those earning less than £20,000 the grant is £700 to replace the boiler but will rise to £1,000 if controls are also being installed. For those earning over £20,000 but less than £40,000 the grant is £400 for the boiler but will rise to £500 if controls are installed. For further information call 0344 892 0900 or email:

TOP TIPS FOR HEATING YOUR HOME FOR LESS The Environment Protection Agency advises you can make your home more comfortable with the minimum amount of heat, by using the heating systems and the controls that you have, e.g., programmers, timers, thermostats, and radiator valves. Experiment with the following tips and mix and match to see what works for you. Switch the heating system on later in the morning and off earlier in the evening. The best way to find the right balance for your house is to experiment a little, first of all try turning on the central heating 30 minutes before you get up and off 1 hour earlier in the evening. Turn the heating in living areas down to 20°C. This could save you 10% off your heating bill. The temperature in hallways and bedrooms should be cooler – ideally 15-18°C. Use temperature cards (available from SEAI) in a number of rooms, to prevent overheating and familiarise yourself with what different temperatures feel like. Regular maintenance of your heating system can reduce fuel consumption e.g. maintain the boiler casing and burner, and check for corrosion and airlocks in the radiators. See energyefficiency/

Homes & Interiors | 47

Isyourhome readyfora coldsnap?


ecent stories about the prospect of a grim winter are just that, according to the Met Office. It predicts a mild end to October and more changeable weather in November but adds it’s impossible to forecast any further ahead with any accuracy, because of the UK’s position. We can be certain, however, that it’s going to be cold, wet and windy at least some of the time this winter. This is the perfect season for making sure the worst of the wintry weather stays where it belongs – outside. Indoors should be a balmy sanctuary where cosiness is king.

SO HOW DO YOU ACHIEVE THAT ON A BUDGET? First off, follow plumber Chris’s advice and make sure your gas or oil boiler has been serviced and is running efficiently. Next, there’s no point in having a fabulous heating system if half of the heat is escaping through your windows and walls while cold air is whistling in to replace it. Insulation is the best line of defence against heat loss with an estimated third (35%) of heat escaping through walls while a further 25% can be lost through the roof, 25% from windows and doors and 15% through the floor. If your roof currently has no insulation and you take action on that front, make sure you keep an eye on the water tank and pipes in the attic in a cold snap, as they will be more prone to freezing. Opening the loft hatch to allow warm air


winter warmer

to circulate can help there. If you aren’t in a position to have insulation installed, there are a few things you can do to help your home stay warmer. Deal with draughts by filling in gaps or holes, put draught excluders along the bottoms of doors and pull your curtains shut as soon as the sun goes down. This prevents heat loss and reduces draughts – the thicker the curtains the better. If you are in the market for new curtains, why not go for a style that’s thermal lined. In fact, layering on the fabrics, from thick floor rugs to throws not only makes a room look cosy, it raises the temperature. Even bookcases, pictures and mirrors act as an insulating layer for walls. In the bedroom, switch your light cotton or silk sheets for a warmer fabric like linen, jersey or flannel and add a few layers to the bed that can be easily cast off if you get too hot during the night. If you have an open chimney, you’re constantly swapping warm air for cool when the fire isn’t lit. Chimney balloons cost about £20, expand to fill the chimney breast and have a string attached so you don’t forget they are there when lighting a fire. An alternative is to use an old cushion – don’t forget to attach something to remind you it’s there. Should winter do its worst and submit us to a prolonged period of freezing, it’s a good idea to keep the heating on low, should be you away for a few days. Don’t ignore dripping taps - even a trickle can lead to a frozen pipe.

A thermal image shows where most heat is lost from in this home

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: The Energy Saving Trust website www. for tips on heating your home more efficiently Bryson Energy advice line on 0800 1422 865 for advice, home visits, and benefits entitlement assessments For information on the Boiler Replacement Scheme see, call the Housing Executive on 0344 892 0900 or email: Contact your local council for advice on the Affordable Warmth Scheme



adore being cosy. It’s one of life’s great pleasures, especially when the wind is howling and the rain is lashing against the windows. A wood burning stove has been on our wish list for a long time so this autumn we went for it. We reasoned that it would reduce our heating costs (in the long run), remove the hazard of an open fire for our little nipper Sonny, and it looks fantastic. The first step was getting a quote. After looking at different options that suited our budget, we opted for a Henley Druid 5kw Defra Multifuel Wood Burning Stove. We loved the look of it with its heavy cast iron door – we didn’t want a modern looking one. We had a traditional fireplace that we used in winter, but when it wasn’t being used, it was a bit of an eyesore plus the tiled hearth was long past its best. Following a home visit from the installer, we set a date. It was quite a bit of work as the wall around the fireplace had to be widened plus our chimney needed relined. The whole process took about a day and a half – it was a good excuse to get out of the house and enjoy some family time. It cost around £1,500 for the entire job and it was the cheapest quote we received. It is well worth it though as the beautiful black stove is the focal point when you walk into our living room and it will add value to our home if we sell up in the future. The advice is to use kiln–dried wood. We were also provided with a carbon monoxide alarm. The only negative was that there was a lot of dust – to be expected of course and nothing that couldn’t be fixed with a good vacuum. I’m actually looking forward to it getting cold, so we can enjoy the cosy glow from our lovely new wood burning stove. No doubt, our cat will enjoy it too.

48 | Homes & Interiors

Belfast Telegraph | 19 October 2018

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2 3




iled, wooden, cork and the many modern variations of linoleum look fantastic. They’re hard-wearing, easy to keep and long lasting. Unless you have underfloor heating, you need rugs to warm them up – especially at this time of year. It’s a good idea to lay rugs over areas of carpet

that get a punishing amount of use as well. Rugs aren’t just a practical solution for toasty tootsies, however. They’re a hard-working style essential. Don’t just have them on the floor – drape a sheepskin over your armchair for extra snugness and hang them on the wall for added impact – and warmth!


7 10







13 18

12 16 1 Helen Moore Luxury Faux Fur Floor Rug, Medium, Oyster, £140, Black By Design Ltd 2 Finlay Fox rug, £65, Bobby Rabbit 3 Springbok Hide Rug, £99, The French Bedroom Co 4 Gold Splatter Cowhide Rug, £425, AUDENZA 5 Must Graduated Blue Rug, £54.99, Sue Ryder 6 Bobble Rug In Burnt Yellow, £295, Loaf 7 Luxury Tibetan Sheepskin Rug – Caspian, £136, AUDENZA 8 Bloomingville – Brown Lambskin Rug, £125, Hurn & Hurn 9 Jute Round Rug, £165, AUDENZA 10 Halo Cowhide Circular Rug Tonal Grey PR02, £349, MADE.COM 11 LinIe Design Acacia Rug Pink, £312, Cloudberry Living 12 Esprit Chimera Multi Rug, £59, Modern Rugs 13 Pappelina Mono Rug Mustard, £70, Printer + Tailor 14 Recycled Cotton Rag Rug, £23.99, Ian Snow Ltd 15 Borg Rug, Sage Green, £479, Urban Avenue 16 Gold Zebra Cowhide Rug, £425, AUDENZA 17 Merkoya Luxury Viscose Rug, Pink, £299, MADE.COM 18 Ombre Stripe Auburn Rug, £79, Dunelm

50 | Homes & Interiors

Allium ‘Big Impact Mix’, from £4.99 for 8 bulbs,

Belfast Telegraph | 19 October 2018


Plant spring bulbs now and tulips in November for a stunning display


This was a strange year for the garden, with a late spring and then the blistering hot summer affecting many plants in different ways. Some, like lillies and ferns, used to our wetter summers, didn’t cope that well while the sun lovers had a wonderful time. While there’s no predicting what next summer will bring, it’s time to get on with the job of getting the garden ready for winter and spring. Bulb season

Spring bulbs are marvels for breaking through the hard winter ground and bringing vibrant swathes of colour to borders and planters. Get planting now to optimise their effect next year. Snowdrops look best in drifts against dark backdrops and beneath trees. For a natural look, plant crocuses, daffodils, bluebells and tulips in large groups. It’s ad-

Plants love natural rainwater, especially camellias. If you need to collect a lot, a container with a tap is handy, like this stylish 150l rattan wicker effect Polybutt Water Butt. Available in eight colours with a matching colour stand and downpipe connector, £79.95, Acers are perfect for adding a burst of vibrant colour to the winter garden. Buy them in containers from your local garden centre. Acer, from £10, Dundonald Nurseries

Phlox and arum lilies are among the perennials that benefit from being divided

visable to plant them as soon as you buy them but they’ll still be all right if they’ve been left in a cool, dry place until you’re ready. Discard any that appear to be soft, mouldy or rotting. This is also a good time to plant hardy summer flowering bulbs such as alliums, crocosmia and lillies.

Winter colour

For colour throughout the winter, fill spaces in your borders and make up containers with pansies, cyclamen, wallflowers and violas and winter heathers. Give them some height and depth by adding in foliage such as ornamental grass, winter hardy ferns and heuchera and they’ll look much more stylish with some trailing ivy tumbling over the sides. Line the containers with bubble wrap, hessian or other insulation to stop the compost from freezing in the depths of winter, keep them off the ground if possible and make sure the water can drain freely away as frozen roots are lethal for plants. Should a cold snap arrive, group the containers close together in a sheltered spot and cover them with horticultural fleece. There’s no need to feed containers over winter but do give them as much light as possible and don’t let them dry out.

Plant up a winter container. This one, from contains 1 x Carex ‘Frosted Curls’, 1 x Euonymus ‘Emerald Gaeity’, 2 x heather, 2 x pot cyclamen (red and white), 3 x cineria, 2 x viola, 1 x pansy New arrivals

Autumn is a good season for shifting plants into new positions as well as introducing new shrubs, trees and hedging to the garden. Be careful about where you plant trees, particularly on clay soil as the roots can cause problems with subsidence if they are too close to your home. Prepare the ground now to plant hedging in November.

Plant protection

Tidy up straggly plants, not only for appearance but also to shield them from windrock. Climbing roses and shrubs that are pruned

19 October 2018 | Belfast Telegraph

Homes & Interiors | 51 dium, Eryngium (sea holly), Euphorbia, Gentiana (gentian) Geranium, Helianthus, Hemerocallis (daylily), Hosta, Iris, Lychnis, Lysichiton, Lysimachia, ornamental grasses, Primula (primrose) Ranunculus (buttercup), Salvia, Sedum, Verbena, Zantedeschia (arum lily). Collect seeds from perennial flowers that have seed-pods and either sow rightaway or store them dry until spring.

Let it rain Plums are ripe for picking now hard in spring such as Buddleja davidii, Cornus alba, and Lavatera should be cut back by half, according to the RHS. It’s also a good time for tying in climbers and checking or putting in stakes for young trees and standard roses.

Divide and conquer

Lift, divide and re-plant perennial flowers that have grown too large to keep them healthy and add more flowers to your garden for nothing. Clumps of herbaceous perennials which flower early and in which the centre is dying, can benefit from being lifted and divided in the autumn. Some, such as heleniums and phlox, heucheras and primulas, tend to thrive on this treatment. Hostas and herbaceous peonies are also suitable for dividing. Water the new divisions in well. The RHS lists the following among the many perennials that should be divided every two or three years although only summer flowering varieties should be divided now: Agapanthus, Anemone, Aster, Bergenia (elephant’s ears), Convallaria (lily-of-the-valley) Crocosmia, Dierama, Delphinium, Epime-

Spring flowering shrubs like camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons love ericaceous or acid soil and hate the early morning sun. Collect rainwater and keep them well watered, to help their buds develop.

Lawn care

Lawn maintenance continues in the autumn and while last weekend’s sunshine meant plenty of people were out cutting their grass, this is also the time to start tidying up the lawn for winter, raking up leaves and dealing with moss which is growing now, with sulphate of iron.

Deadheading hydrangeas

Keep on feeding and deadheading flowers and you’ll be rewarded until the first frosts arrive. While it’s advised to leave the dead blooms on mophead hydrangeas to protect next year’s buds and remove them in spring, in the case of the hardier lacecap hydrangeas, it’s better to cut them back after flowering to the second pair of leaves below the head in order to prevent seed developing, which saps energy from the plant.

Hardy annuals

For an earlier display and sometimes bigger

GREAT BUY: We love this Lime Grow Trug® by BVG Group Ltd. It’s portable and perfect for renters and is accessible for all with no need for bending or kneeling. Tuscan Planter including £20 of lucky dip vegetable seed, £14.99, and better flowers, you can sow some hardy annuals directly into the soil in autumn – protect them with horticultural fleece or a cloche if you’re expecting a hard frost. Favourites such as self seeding poppies or the pot marigold (calendula officinalis) can be grown cheaply this way. Even sweet pea (lathyrus odoratus) can be sown now, although it’s best to use a pot. You can also plant bright spring favourites such as wallflowers, sweet william and forget me nots now.

Vegetable plot

The vegetable garden needs to be tidied up and old crops removed. Potatoes, carrots and swede turnips can be stored in suitable conditions – a cool shed with an earthen or

concrete floor, or an outdoor pit, is ideal but take precautions against rodents. Plant fruit trees and bushes which are available now in garden centres. It is now time to plant up winter vegetables, like garlic, onions, winter kale, spinach, turnips and spring broccoli.

Greenhouse care

Remove old plants and tidy up all greenhouse debris and weeds to leave it neat and clean. Water plants sparingly – don’t stand them in saucers of water. Check for pests and remove dust from the leaves. Don’t feed houseplants until growth begins next year.

Information from a range of sources, including and

52 | Homes & Interiors


utumn is an ideal time for planning changes to the garden, whether that’s major landscaping jobs like building a patio or decking, screening off different areas or creating new borders or a vegetable patch. It’s also a time for tidying everything

Belfast Telegraph | 19 October 2018

Makingspacefornature away for the winter, but environmentalists like Ulster Wildlife are appealing to gardeners to not be too enthusiastic when it comes to clearing up debris. Even a small patch of the garden, hidden from view, can be used to help preserve some tiny but very important creatures.

Ulster Wildlife has compiled a series of Make Space for Nature guides and encourages gardeners to download them from “With our wildlife habitats increasingly under threat, every garden is a potential nature reserve,” says the charity. “They will

give you inspiration and practical advice on many ways to make your garden wildlife-friendly. Not only that, but the action you take to make your garden a local home for wildlife also helps to connect habitats together from our neighbourhoods to our nature reserves.”

Simplestepsmake abigdifference The idea of creating ‘habitat’ for wildlife in your garden is something to bear in mind as you go about your autumn tasks, as gardening expert Barbara Pilcher explains


pread major work such as pruning trees over several seasons so as not to have too radical a change, trim hedges outside the nesting period. Leave seed-heads until spring growth begins; they are wonderfully ornamental through winter, while insects and birds will thank you for habitat and food supply. While collecting seeds to save, leave some seed-heads untouched for foraging creatures, with generous heaps of leaves and woody prunings. When planting, choose berrying

shrubs: purple elder bears a great crop that birds enjoy, along with rowan, ivy, holly and crab apples. Winter months are ideal for choosing plants to enhance garden boundaries: hedge plants, wall shrubs, climbers. Nothing looks as unfulfilled as a bare fence. Clothed with honeysuckle, roses, clematis, you lose that hemmed-in feeling, while robins, blackbirds and song-thrushes will appreciate the deep cover. There is also plenty of scope in a garden fence to put-up nest- boxes for coal-tits, wrens and robins. Others prefer nests higher than two metres. If we have a cold winter, take heart. Many crops need a cold snap to flourish the follow-

Fieldfares are a member of the thrush family. Photo by Christine Cassidy, In Touch With The Wild Photography ing season – garlic, strawberries, apples and the like. And many seeds need a cold period to break dormancy so that they germinate in spring. In return we derive huge satisfaction from this personal hands-on interaction with nature that is gardening, keeping our feet on the ground, reminding us of our place as guardians of wildlife. A check-list for you: trees and shrubs and

climbers, grass short and long, water, nectar and pollen plants, undisturbed areas, compost heaps, peat-free compost, leaf heaps, log piles, feeders, nest-boxes. If you can tick these, your garden is fun, and you’re doing your bit for nature. Barbara Pilcher is a member of Ulster Widlife and a regular contributor on BBC Radio Ulster Gardener’s Corner Team

H Barbara Pilcher, Ulster Wildlife


Offcuts of logs or branches are an ideal habitat for minibeasts, field mice, shrews or hibernating hedgehogs. Leave herbaceous and hollow-stemmed plants unpruned until early spring. These can provide homes for overwintering insects. Hang up more bird feeders; keeping them cleaned and well-stocked with high-energy food is important as small birds depend on extra food to survive and stay warm. Plant more trees: trees and shrubs provide essential cover for wildlife and nesting for birds, and those providing nuts or fruit are even better. Native hawthorn, blackthorn, crab, rowan and hazel satisfy this need, along with plum, apple and cherry.

edgehogs are in serious trouble but, by making a few small and simple changes in your garden, you can make a big difference to this welcome visitor. Andy Crory, Nature Reserves Manager for Ulster Wildlife, explains. Everyone loves a hedgehog; they look cute, they can roll into a prickly ball and they snuffle around our gardens munching caterpillars, slugs and snails that devour our prized plants. Seeing one is a magical experience, but like many, I haven’t come across one in almost fifteen years, except for road fatalities, and worse still, my children are beginning to think they’re fictional! Sadly, hedgehogs are in trouble and are in a worse state of decline than tigers are worldwide. The main drivers are thought to be a loss of green space in towns and gardens, intensification of farming, reduced insect prey from chemical use and isolation by fences and roads. But before we all retreat to the garden shed in depression, there’s so much we can do to help these wonderful creatures. Hedgehogs will be getting ready to hibernate soon and need to feed intensively, weighing at least 600gms if they’re going to survive the winter. If you’re lucky to have one visit your garden, you could provide tinned dog or cat food and fresh water. If you see one out during the day, it’s in trouble and will need help – contact an animal rescuer. Hedgehogs travel about one mile every

Hedgehog photo by T Marshall


evening in search of food, mates and nesting sites and need to roam freely between gardens. Cut a small hedgehog hole at the bottom of your garden fence to help them get in and out. You could also give your hog a cosy place to sleep through the winter by building a hedgehog house. If you want hedgehogs in your garden, you need creepy crawlies in abundance which can be attracted by planting a variety of different plants and ensuring a diverse range of different habitats, from ponds and hedges to bug hotels and compost heaps.

One of the simplest things to do is to pile up some logs and leaves and leave some patches of long grass – perfect for nesting and for attracting hedgehog prey. Remember though to check for hidden hedgehogs before lighting bonfires, strimming and mowing the lawn. You also need to ditch the slug pellets which will kill hogs if eaten, and avoid the use of pesticides. All so easy to do, yet will make a huge difference to these welcome garden visitors. For more ideas, download our free ‘Get creative for hedgehogs booklet.

54 | Homes & Interiors

Belfast Telegraph | 19 October 2018 S PON S OR E D

Stephen Grant founded Grant in 1978. Since then, the company has won OFTEC awards for excellence as well as Plumbing & Heating awards for innovative products and outstanding achievements

Grantachievesdouble recognitionfromWhich?experts


orthern Ireland’s award-winning manufacturer of home heating technologies, Grant has been awarded a coveted Which? Best Buy for its low NOx and Blueflame Vortex condensing oil boilers including the Vortex Pro Utility, Vortex Pro Combi and VortexBlue External/Outdoor ranges. Grant is the only oil boiler manufacturer to achieve such an accomplishment over two consecutive years. This endorsement places Grant on a footing equivalent to some of the world’s best known home appliance brands in the UK and Ireland. Furthermore, Grant has the only Blue Flame

oil fired boilers to be awarded a Which? Best Buy and is the first of its kind to receive this accolade. Grant Founder, Stephen Grant commented: “Attaining this level of recognition from Which? is a significant accomplishment for us that not only demonstrates the excellent standard that our products champion, but also the great service and attention to detail provided by the Grant team, from initial product research and development, right through to customer service. “As part of such a competitive market, being the only oil boiler manufacturer to receive a


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Which? Best Buy accolade for two successive years is what truly sets us apart and bolsters our position at the forefront of the home heating industry in both the UK and Ireland,” said Stephen. Grant has been providing homes throughout Northern Ireland with innovative heating technologies for over 40 years and has an extensive product portfolio including the popular range of Vortex condensing oil boilers and the VortexAir Hybrid and Aerona3 air source heat pump range which provides a more environmentally-friendly home heating solution that can help to reduce a household’s

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