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2

Mediamix Supplement ● Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Homestyle

Give it the right

K

ERB appeal is that allimportant first impression, the factor that distinguishes your property from the rest of the street. No one wants to be confronted with rubbish-strewn bins, wild gardens and paintwork that has long since lost its lustre.

● The upkeep of the exterior of your home is crucial to increasing its kerb appeal

When you look at your house what do you see– wellmaintained gardens, gleaming windows and plenty of character? Or is it looking a little tired and in need of some care and attention? Whether you would like to overhaul your property's image, or revitalise great features, use the following top 10 tips to improve your kerb appeal. ● Go green Regularly mow the lawn if you have one, and keep any borders neat and tidy. Climbing plants in pots can spruce up large paved areas; just make sure they don't get too big, or start to damage brickwork and pointing. If space is scarce use pots, baskets or window boxes to inject personality and colour into the property. An abundance of flowers are available in the warmer months, and for low maintenance winter plants, why not try small evergreens? ● Reinvigorate paintwork Peeling or dirty paintwork signals a lack of maintenance to

visitors and potential buyers alike. Washing down door and window frames will rejuvenate the colour, and you may find out that you don't even need a new coat of paint. Peeling paintwork, however, should be removed and a new coat applied. ● Dote on your front door Make sure your front door is clean, polishing any brass work; door knobs, letter boxes, handles and locks, to leave a highly manicured finish. Use bold colours to highlight the door as a focal point for that memorability factor. ● Accessorise Display your house number or name, as this defines your property and gives it a visible identity. Just make sure to choose signs in keeping with the character of the property. Straighten up any crooked numerals or plaques that are already in place. Either have a working door bell or a quality knocker. Remember, quality does not need to mean expensive. Look online for good deals, and think about salvaging rather than splurging. ● Lights please! A light outside the property is both practical and pretty. Small lamps add a traditional touch, either wall-mounted or in a porch. If your house opens straight onto the street,

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● Hanging baskets add a lovely spring touch to your home

investigate if a little LED light can be installed to welcome people into the house. Utilise your garden, especially in the dark winter months. Shrubs and pot plants can conceal light apparatus so you get patches of light minus any unsightly plastic or wires. Just remember what kind of effect you want to create, and light accordingly. ● Brush up the brickwork Re-point brickwork to give a sharp, finished outline to the building and also stop water permeating the bricks and compromising the structure. Hide unsightly brickwork with render, or paint a neutral colour to tie in with the property features. ● Distinguish the drive A driveway can be a precious commodity, especially in urban city centres, so make the most of this asset. Re-pave uneven flagstones or bricks, filling in any gaps in the mortar. Weed the drive regularly to stop the accumulation of seedlings and moss to prevent hazards. ● Pick up your litter Keeping your grounds clean and litter-free is all part of owning your own home. Unfortunately, this sometimes means clearing up other people's litter that has been dumped or blown onto your property, and encouraging your


3

Mediamix Supplement ● Wednesday, April 21, 2010

look neighbours to clear up their act as well. Be non-confrontational and volunteer your services if they object. Make sure your bins are clean and out of sight, if possible. Fences, screens and foliage are great at disguising wheeliebins. ● Glorious guttering These often get overlooked, but ensuring the guttering is in good working order will stop water collecting against the brickwork of your house, which if left neglected could lead to damp problems. Check that there are no blockages or leaks and all the pipes have a solid coat of paint where appropriate. ● After a challenge? If you are after a more radical overhaul of your property, this will take time and money. However, this investment will not only leave you with something you are proud of, but could also add value to your property. Render, weather boarding and cladding can cover up unsightly features, especially on tired or dated houses. Replacing plastic window frames with wooden ones will instantly update the look and feel of your property. With these changes, make sure that your property complies with insulation regulations and always seek advice before making any changes to a listed or conservation area building.

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4

Mediamix Supplement ● Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Homestyle

Window dressing is most important W

INDOWS are the allimportant finishing touches and can really make or break the look of a house.

● If you live in a conservation area or in a listed building, windows are very important to the character of the property

You could spend hours painting the walls or have smart new fascias and guttering put in, but if your windows are scruffy with cracked panes and flaking woodwork, they will let the rest of the house down. All too often, we see grandlooking Victorian and Edwardian properties featuring original wooden sash windows which are sadly rotting, or 1920s and 30s frames with more rust than metal. Even more offending on the eye are the 1960s or 1970s houses, with softwood windows mounted almost flush with the face of the wall, that get soaked whenever it rains. So to put the icing on the cake, you need to take a good look at your windows. As well as keeping up appearances, windows need to be functioning properly too, as they can really make your home draughty and noisy. It’s up to you and your budget as to how far you are prepared to go – whether updating your windows will involve new woodwork, a lick of paint for the frames or entirely new windows altogether. If you can’t afford to splash out on new windows, it might

be worth checking if your current ones can be repaired. In some cases you can get sash windows refurbished and sealed, which should last you many more years – and is a cheaper option than buying replacements. Or secondary glazing can help to reduce noise and draughts. If your windows really are beyond repair, there are many glazing companies on the market providing uPVC replacement windows which are cheap to install, easy to maintain and do a sterling job of keeping out the draughts. What’s more, they may last you more than 20 years. And as well as helping you save hundreds of pounds a year on your heating bill, they can reduce your carbon footprint and help the environment. But not everyone is a big fan of uPVC – especially if you have a period property, some people feel it is too modern and looks out of place. It’s always advisable to look at the windows in other houses in your neighbourhood. If most houses have their original windows it may be best to follow suit, or you could wipe thousands off the value of your home. If you live in a conservation area or in a listed building, windows are very important to the character of the property and any alterations to the building may ruin the whole

street scene. Replacing or altering windows will often require planning permission from your local authority’s planning department, or you may need to obtain Listed Building Consent. For more information visit the website www.liverpool.gov.uk. One solution is to find a specialist timber replacement window company. The good news is that, although at one time wooden replacement windows were not as efficient as uPVC, they have come a long way since then and now there are high-tech double glazing alternatives to be found in traditional frames which meet the same thermal insulation requirements as plastic alternatives. They can be a little more expensive but they do last for many years, and if you do live in a conservation area, you may be entitled to a grant to fit timber original style replacement windows, so it’s worth checking with your local council. Steel windows are gaining in popularity, and although they used to rust, they can now be coated with polyester. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you contact your local authority for Building Control approval, or use a company which is registered with the Fenestration SelfAssessment Scheme (FENSA) or a similar body, which can provide you with a certificate of compliance.

KEEP IT CLEAN! WINDOWS need to be cleaned regularly to remain in top condition, at least twice a year on the inside and outside. But it’s not just about showing the window a chamois leather – there is far more to cleaning windows than just that! ● Wash one side of a window with horizontal strokes and the other side with vertical strokes so you can see where there are any streaks on the window ● Use a sponge or squeegee on a long handle to prevent streaks on large windows and to reach difficult, high corners ● Eliminate tiny scratches on glass by polishing the affected areas with toothpaste ● Washing windows should be done on a cloudy day, because direct sunlight dries cleaning solutions before you can polish the glass properly ● Use a soft toothbrush or cotton swab to clean corners ● To give an extra shine to window glass, polish it with a well-washed cotton T-shirt or towel ● To achieve a diamond-bright shine, rub a clean blackboard eraser over a freshly washed and dried window ● Polish windows to a sparkling shine with crumpled

● Modern houses are installed with UPVC double glazed windows, which keep out the draughts and can reduce your carbon footprint newspaper. The paper also leaves a film that is resistant to dirt ● Wash windows from the top down, to prevent drips

● Remember that window cleaners pose a threat to woodwork. Don't let them drip on the windowsill, where they can harm the paint or varnish


5

Mediamix Supplement ● Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Homestyle

Brighten up your mood with the right lights I

T’S one of the most essential features for each room, yet it’s often completely overlooked when people are redecorating.

Picture: Laura Ashley

will help you get a good night’s sleep and create a relaxing feel. You will need a mix of both strong, functional lights for dressing or applying make-up and warm lamps for ambience. Bedside lamps are perfect for reading, but if you’re looking for a modern alternative why not try hanging low pendant lights on either side of your bed? This will create valuable space and also add a snug feel to your room. So whether you want a room that is cosy and relaxing or bright and spacious, with the right lighting you can create the perfect atmosphere.

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Getting the perfect lighting is a must, whether it’s for the kitchen, lounge, bedroom or study. You might not realise you've got bad lighting, but you'll recognise the symptoms: headaches and sore eyes, frustration in the kitchen at not being able to see what you're doing, and arguments in the bedroom over whose turn it is to get up to switch out the light. Good lighting will make your home feel spacious, clean and welcoming. The key is to create a flexible scheme that takes you right through the day and all the different uses of your room. At the flick of a switch you should be able to transform it from a bright, vibrant living space to the setting for a romantic dinner for two. With so many products on the market, you can choose

your fittings to blend in with your overall scheme, whether you go for the period look, such as Tiffanystyle lamps, or minimalist hi-tech chrome track. The lounge is the hub of activity in most homes, so flexibility with your lighting is important. Chandeliers and pendants can provide attractive central features but are not always enough to illuminate the whole room. Therefore a combination of other sources will be needed. Table lamps in the corners and along shelves emit light inwards and will help give the impression of space. Floor lamps light up even the gloomiest of corners and are also a great way to highlight your favourite pictures and ornaments. Floor uplighters are starting to appear in many homes and are great in hallways and on staircases. These work especially well if you have a gloomy narrow staircase – uplighters can brighten the space while guiding you along. Choosing the correct lighting for your bedroom

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6

Mediamix Supplement ● Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Homestyle

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Throughout the 2000’s laminate wood flooring took over our homes, replacing many years of service that the humble carpet had offered. But it’s making a comeback, bigger and bolder, not just your average shade of cream or beige, it’s back with patterns and floral styles that bring an elegance to your home. Think past your 80s shades of green, red and brown, where the carpet blended into the wallpaper and your whole home was covered. Now carpets have a more sophisticated edge with a swirl of pattern. Teamed with part neutral wall coverings yet bold statement accessories, they make the perfect flooring. Admittedly, patterned carpet is not ideal spreading throughout your entire home – it then becomes overpowering – but as with patterned wallpaper these days, add a little here and there and you’ve suddenly created a home with a touch of panache. Of course there are still many homes where laminate wood flooring and solid wood create a stunning entrance and are perfect for active families with children and pets, helping to keep mess to a minimum

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and yet still have that contemporary edge. But why not try matching these with a stylish rug? When wood flooring was booming, it came with an extra choice in modern rugs, available in more sizes and styles than before, as people combined the chic wood flooring and comfort of carpet rug. If it’s your kitchen or bathroom you need to find new flooring for, then there is plenty of choice here, too. New cushioned laminate flooring is ideal for your bathroom, giving a soft slight cushioned feel underfoot, while coming in a vast

selection of styles and colours, including the wooden floorboards look or tiled style. Although if it’s real tiles you’re after then you won’t be disappointed. Tiles are great in the kitchen area, easy to clean and are long lasting, which is ideal for any hub of the home. You can choose from ceramic, stone, marble, slate and many more – once again there’s a wide range of colours and styles to opt for, from a natural stone look to the glazed, shiny variety. So no matter what you choose when decorating your home, you’re sure to find the perfect flooring.

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7

Mediamix Supplement ● Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Homestyle

Live it large in the lounge B

RING out the hidden beauty of your living room by mixing your own sense of style with a strong feel for contemporary design.

● Go for an opulent look by mixing gold, green and blue accessories, like cushions and framed mirrors Picture: Dremel

By making the most of what you’ve got and strengthening in areas where your living room might not be up to scratch, you can revitalise this important space in your home. Your living room should reflect your home. If you have a cottage, your living room would most likely look quite different to one in a four-bedroom detached house, or from the main living area in a modern open-plan apartment. However, all living room plans should follow design principles that bring out its best features, making the space feel warm and welcoming. Decide on your colour scheme and stick to it. You can blend certain shades together well, light pastel colours for example for a

summery feel, or silvers, blacks and greys for that ultramodern, sophisticated look. Shades of blue can deliver a cooling, very relaxed room that does not appear overlyfeminine. Warm oranges going into yellow and cream can bring a lighter glow to a room. Sumptuous purples and golds can make a room feel decadent and grandiose. It’s down to your personal taste to decide which colour scheme best suits your personality and this choice will inform what paint or wallpaper you choose for your living room walls, along with furniture upholstery, blinds, curtains, and other accessories around the room. Something as simple as lighting, for instance, can serve to emphasise or draw attention to a piece of furniture or an area of the room. Spotlights are perfect

for this. Shades controlling how the light is diffused about the room are important for controlling the mood of a room. You can even use lights as an accessory. Creatively draping fairy lights across a plant perhaps or maybe a sideboard can be enough to help set the room off. Also, think about natural light. When will most sunlight shine into the living room? How can you make best use of this available natural light? Will it be so strong that you will need the option of blinds to stop heat and dazzle? Of course good design practice for a living room should not be purely an aesthetic exercise. Functionality is very important too. After all it’s called a ‘living’ room for a reason, so make sure you take

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into account the use that needs to be made of this room. If it’s a family space then make room for the family to enjoy it with consideration paid to areas where you might watch television, relax and listen to music, or where the family can play games together. Probably the main piece of furniture in your living room will be your sofa. Like with the rest of the room, you need to consider the practicalities of its use alongside how it looks. It is important to choose one that is comfortable and hard wearing. It should also fit in with your room, in style and colour and size. Thinking about practical design for your living room is important as it will both make the place look attractive for you and help the potential buyer to more easily picture themselves and their family living in the house.


8

Mediamix Supplement ● Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Homestyle

Want the perfect be F

ED up with your bedroom looking more drab than fab? Then let this year's gorgeous new trends help create the master suite of your dreams.

● The bedroom is one of the most important rooms in the house

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One of the most important rooms in the house, the bedroom is where you relax, sleep and even indulge in a sneaky kiss and cuddle, so it's essential to set the right mood and think about how you like to unwind. Happily, the bedroom trends of 2010 are all about indulgence and can help you achieve a peaceful retreat – not to mention make a bold style statement. From elegant furniture to impressive beds, colourful accessories and patterned wallpapers, the designers have well and truly gone to town to treat us this year, so a quick trip to the shops is sure to fill you with plenty of inspiration to bring your bedroom bang up to date. Bold colour plays a big part in bedrooms for the year ahead, and can breathe new life into even the plainest of rooms. Bed linen, curtains and wallpaper are some of the easiest ways to introduce a touch of colour. Vintage floral prints and colourful walls create an instantly edgy, eclectic look

and this season's bird motifs, butterflies and trinket boxes offer a more subtle way of combining colour with romance to create a whimsical, fairy-tale feel. Of course, the bed itself is one of the main focal points of any bedroom, and in 2010 the emphasis is on drama. For a sense of grandeur, opulent mahogany sleigh beds and lavish Frenchinspired antique frames never fail to impress. While contemporary silver or sleek wooden-framed four poster beds offer a modern twist on an old favourite. Choosing to make a big impact with your bed also means you can get away with a more neutral backdrop, so if you prefer simple décor it could be the perfect trend for you. Long-lasting comfort should also be at the top of your list, and as it's estimated that we spend an average of 16 years in bed during our lifetime it's well worth investing in a good mattress to ensure that you catch up on your precious beauty sleep. Likewise, sophistication is another design favourite and, after a notable absence, elegant headboards are back with abundance. An easy way to give your boudoir that expensive boutique

hotel appeal, the shops are already filled with an A-list worthy selection of oversized beauties, and fusing together sumptuous extravagance, a sleek palette of colours and luxurious fabrics, they’re all but guaranteed to add instant glamour. As ever, eco-friendly trends are also continuing to make their mark in the home, and in bedrooms it's predicted that eco-friendly bedding will be high on the agenda. In particular, bamboo bedding is becoming increasingly popular, and as it claims to be softer than even the finest cotton, thanks to using 100% organic bamboo fibre with a special twill weave, there's no excuse not to go 'green'. The right lighting is another crucial element to creating the right ambience, and should be a careful consideration in any bedroom revamp. Chic chandeliers and contemporary chrome light fittings create a stunning central focal point, but remember to soften with a smattering of cleverly positioned bedside lamps to create a calming, warm glow. What's more, there is a huge range of bedroom furniture available in all

manner of Modern fitt and dressin great soluti bedroom ti for the fash safely store labels. Or perhap freedom of units that y around and when they’ If so, you'll mix of anti quirky shab suit every h Parisian-in drawers, ov wardrobes tables rema increasingl Alternativ got the bud re-decorate but still wa you can be working wi already got coloured w to create a complemen coordinated throws, as w down old fu date with a paint and s mismatche handles. Whatever bit of imagi create the b dreams.


9

Mediamix Supplement ● Wednesday, April 21, 2010

edroom? Dream no more

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10

Mediamix Supplement ● Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Homestyle

Home is where the hearth is T

HE hearth is the heart of a home. A bright, warm place that draws the eye and attracts the family to it. Somewhere to gather around together and feel safe and secure.

If you want to create a warm and homely feel in your house, then your fireplace needs to look and feel right. But what will look right in your home? As people don’t change their fireplace anywhere near as often as they might change other aspects of their house, fashions don’t change as rapidly as with other areas of home style. That said, you need to ensure that you are going to be quite happy with the style and design of fireplace. After all, you don’t want to be thinking about ripping it out and starting again six months after you’ve fitted it. Start by looking at your current fireplace and fire. Do you think it looks like a centrepiece for the entire room, the main room of your house? Is it as stylish and interesting as other objects in the same room? Does it match

● Wood-burning stoves give a room a warm glow

the colour scheme, and does it give the right effect when lit? These are all things that must be considered when looking at installing a new fire and fireplace, and it pays to get a good idea of what you want to replace it with because there’s such choice out there. Your fire and fireplace should be both practical and aesthetically pleasing, heating the room when required and also making the place look warm and inviting. There’s something particularly pleasing about the way a ‘real’ fire looks and sounds. The lick and crackle of the flames offers undeniable pleasure, but often it is impractical to enjoy that in your own house. For this reason most modern fires emulate the look of a real fire, without the need to constantly add more logs, and also without the associated smoke. For this reason, Living Flame type fires are highly popular in both modern suburban houses and city apartments. That’s not to say you couldn’t opt for a real fire. If you have a suitable chimney and space for

the hearth, then it may provide the room centrepiece you’ve been looking for. One popular alternative trend is the option of a woodburning stove. If you want to create a rustic, cottage feel to your living room, a woodburning stove is a great option. Picking the right surround is much like choosing any item of furniture for your home. It needs to have the right feel and fit to make it integral to the room. As such, there are styles to suit all types of room design. More contemporary fireplaces often have a metallic finish such as bronze, brushed steel or chrome. More traditional black and brass finishes look great, too. You can even choose different fuel beds to offer the effect of glowing crystals, coals and logs. Perhaps finish off the fireplace with an attractive mantelpiece or surround to really establish the look you’ve gone for. That done, there’s nothing for it but to cosy up in front of your new fire and enjoy the glow.

Picture: Haddonstone

● There is a wide range of different fires and fireplaces, to suit every style and period of home Pictures: Haddonstone; www.jim-lawrence.co.uk (below left)


11

Mediamix Supplement ● Wednesday, April 21, 2010

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Mediamix Supplement ● Wednesday, April 21, 2010

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OPEN 9am - 5pm (Monday-Saturday)


13

Mediamix Supplement ● Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Homestyle

Cooking up some hot kitchen styles W

HETHER you are desperate for more space to store all those pots and pans, fancy injecting a dash more style into a dated kitchen, or you’re considering selling your home and want to make it more attractive to buyers – a kitchen refit is a wise home improvement to make.

These days, we use our kitchens from everything from cooking to entertaining and even as family living room areas, so its easy to see why this is one home improvement that is always going to be well worth investing in. Indeed, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, kitchen improvements can add up to 4% to the value of a property but it’s essential that work is done to a high standard. Perhaps more importantly, make sure it will meet all of your needs – it’s no good opting for an uber- fashionable high gloss kitchen, for example, if you’ve got young children who are going to leave mucky fingerprints all over the shiny cupboard doors. Likewise, if you’re selling your home, the work needs to be done to a tight budget so that you get a good return on your investment. To have all the ingredients for a stylish kitchen, before you start any work, it’s important to set a budget, taking into account the cost of materials, appliances and tradesmen. It’s advisable to set a bit of cash aside in case of contingencies and make your tradesmen and kitchen suppliers aware of what your budget and time-expectations are right from the start. In order to get a good idea of what’s available, you should spend some time browsing interior design magazines and visiting as many specialist homes and kitchen retailers as you can, to make yourself familiar with the latest styles and features. After all, the last time you got a kitchen fitted may have been 20 years ago, and the choice of fixtures, fittings, gadgets, appliances and handy

● Add a splash of vibrant colour to liven up your cooking space Picture: B & Q

● If you have the space the only limit to your kitchen design is your imagination Picture: Taskers. storage features is now much more diverse. From open-plan breakfast kitchens which incorporate family living areas, to fitted kitchens with hidden larder cupboards, soft-close draws, wok-burners for those who like to cook Chinese food, built-in wine coolers for vino lovers and integrated LCD TVs for those who like to watch TV whilst they cook; the choice of features in modern kitchen designs is never-ending. So, whether you’re obsessed with every pot, pan and plate having a place; a gadget fan or an aspiring Jamie Oliver keen to cook with new state-of-theart appliances, you’re sure to be able to find a way to personalise the heart of your home. Once you have a fair idea of which design features you would like, next you need to decide on a style. Kitchen trends change year on year, with high gloss units, open-plan layouts and painted units all proving popular in recent years. Other kitchen trends include quartz work-surfaces – which are ideal for those who want a high-end look without a hefty granite price tag; kitchen taps with pull-out hand-sprays, sleek, black-satin finish white goods and innovative storage solutions, such as larder units and bi-fold cupboards. When it comes to colour,

there’s a whole spectrum of options to consider, from white Shaker-style kitchens for those keen to create a cosy, country feel; to rich shades of aubergine, plum and red for those looking for something bold and contemporary. Whichever style you choose, it’s essential to do your research and shop around to get the best deal. Don’t be afraid to haggle either as you may be able to negotiate a discount, free fitting or even get appliances included in the deal. When it comes to finding reputable tradesmen, ask your kitchen supplier if they can suggest any contractors that they work with regularly. Alternatively see if friends and family can offer any personal recommendations and always seek quotes from a couple of tradesmen so that you can be sure you’ve got a fair price for the work required. Alternatively, if you feel a full kitchen refit is not necessary and your kitchen units are still in good condition, consider replacing existing cupboard doors and worktops with new ones as this can dramatically refresh the look of a tired kitchen for a fraction of a cost of a full refit. However you plan to update the hub of your home, with a little imagination and a dollop of the latest trends your kitchen will be sizzling in the style stakes in next to no time.

THE PERFECT ACCESSORIES DON’T forget that it’s the finishing touches which bring any design scheme together. So, for a kitchen that oozes designer style, accessorise with quirky kitchen noticeboards, colour coordinated storage tins, vintage- inspired biscuit tins, funky utensils and cult cook books.

● Glamour, vibrancy and even a little retro-chic can bring your kitchen to life Pictures: Stylish Life, www.strawberryfool.com & Next

● Wood adds warmth to any kitchen Picture: Rapid

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Brown Edge Close, £335,000 Detached family house 2 rec rooms, conservatory 4 beds, en-suite, DG GCH, dble garage. Insp reqd

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14

Mediamix Supplement ● Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Homestyle

Spring into your dream garden I

F your patio's been taken over by the kids' trampoline or you can't remember the last time you didn't have to wade ankle-deep through weeds, it could be time to give your garden a new identity.

● Add that individual touch with a personalised square planter Picture: GettingPersonal.co.uk

MAKE THE NEIGHBOURS GREEN WITH ENVY WITH SOME STYLISH GARDEN ESSENTIALS

Luckily, spring is here and, with the dream of lazy summer afternoons just around the corner, it's the perfect time to put those green fingers to work. One of the busiest seasons in a gardener's calendar, spring is all about laying the right foundations for the year ahead. And, whether you've got your heart set on transforming your boring back garden into a floral haven filled with English roses, manicured lawns and quaint rockeries, or want to revamp your yard into an exotic Tuscan-style terrace, complemented by shimmering lanterns, palm trees and terracotta pots overspilling with colourful dahlias, the only limit is your imagination. Start by thinking about how you'd like to use your garden and drawing up a rough plan of how you'd like it to look – as well as considering how much time you want to spend maintaining it. But, before rushing out to start work, remember that the key to any successful garden is preparation.

● Add colour and style with bright lanterns and quirky blackboard plant markers Pictures: Matalan & Dotcomgiftshop

● Fire up the barbie on a sunny day

● ... and relax in a stylish deck chair Picture: The

Picture: Argos

Contemporary Home

Quality

Style

Check your tool kit to make sure that you've got everything you need and, in the garden, prune back dead plants, mow the lawn, hoe weeds, give soil that extra boost with a spot of general-purpose fertiliser and repair any bare spots on your lawn. Once this has been done, it's time to get started on sowing the seeds of your future success. And among the many springtime tasks that need doing, remember to include laying summer flowering bulbs, planting hardy annuals and preparing hanging baskets. Flowers are one of the best ways to create a vivacious garden and April is a great time to plant summer beauties like lilies, marigolds and cosmos. It’s also worth taking a trip to your local garden centre or nursery. Brimming with countless varieties of colourful bulbs, seeds and plants, it’s the perfect place to get expert advice and inspiration, as well as pick up any new plants and pots you may need. Remember to keep an eye out for any signs of poor health, including ragged edges, discolouration and pots with densely packed roots. Or perhaps you've been inspired to go all 'Good Life' and create your own veggie patch? A world away from its old flat cap image, allotments and organic kitchengardens have exploded in popularity during the last few years and keen veggie growers will have plenty to keep them busy in spring. Peas, broad beans, courgettes, carrots, cauliflowers and potatoes are all ready to be planted in the coming months and it won't be long until you have a bumper crop of food for lunches later in the year. However, we're not all destined to give Alan Titchmarsh a run for his money and if you're more poison fingered than green fingered, why not up-date your garden with some stylish new accessories? A quick and easy solution for the time-poor, it's amazing the difference a selection of colour coordinated pots, pretty hanging baskets and modern patio furniture can make in such a short time. Hiring a landscape gardener could also be a great investment for the gardeningchallenged.

Imagination

● A summer house can make a striking addition to any garden Picture: B&Q

● Extend your outdoor living space (below) Picture: Rapid

● Get those green fingers to work this spring. Picture: B&Q

Able to turn your vision into a reality, a really good landscape gardener can transform even the most ordinary garden into a feature to be proud of, as well as offering practical solutions to use your garden more effectively. From a contemporary Orientalgarden with shaped topiary bushes, a tranquil water feature and an elegant pergola, to a secluded entertaining area complete with luxurious sun-loungers, a stylish barbecue area and raised decking with patio furniture and a hot tub ready to entertain family and friends – the right landscape gardener can help maximise your garden's hidden potential and add structure to even the most unruly outdoor space. A state-of the art sun room or conservatory is another excellent way to provide a striking addition to your home and garden, with modern, brick-built conservatories one of the most popular styles for newer homes; elegant Victorian and Edwardian-esque frames perfect for

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period properties and exclusive sun rooms kitted out with bi-folding doors and skylights ideal for creating a sense of space and bringing the outside in. Choosing a conservatory or sun room is not a decision to be taken lightly however and it's important to consider the best place to position the addition; what size should it be; will it be a summer room or do you want to use it all year around; what style would complement your house, as well as checking if you'll need planning permission. And how about a summer house? An easy way to give your family that much needed-extra space, today’s summer house is much more than a glorified shed and, whether it's a quintessentially British pavilion, garden gazebo or a log cabin office, it could be just what your garden needs. So, for a blooming marvellous garden, it’s time to roll up your sleeves, dust off those gardening gloves and put your green fingers to work.

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15

Mediamix Supplement ● Wednesday, April 21, 2010

SSPRING PRING G ARDENING GARDENING So, as the days get lighter, temperatures begin to rise and the first buds of spring tentatively emerge from the ground, now is the perfect time to prepare your garden for summer with the help of our experts.

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Home Style - Spring 2010  

16-page homestyle supplement

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