How much money is hiding in your shed?

Unless you’ve turned yours into a glamorous she shed or man cave, it’s likely the wooden hut at the end of your garden is a dumping ground. But have you ever stopped to think what  your shed contents are worth?

Shed specialist certainly has. Its latest survey reveals that the average British homeowner stores £2,234 worth of valuable furniture, tools and bikes in outbuildings. And the scary thing is, many of those homeowners haven’t even put a padlock on their sheds to secure the contents, let alone taken out insurance in case anything gets stolen.

Image credit: Lizzie Orme

‘Many of us use our sheds to store valuable items,’ says a spokesperson for ‘The good news is modern sheds are strong and can easily be secured with a simple lock but many people fail to ensure their valuables are safe. We want to remind the general public that is really is worth investing in a lock for your shed and also to check with your insurer that your shed contents are covered in your policy.

‘As this research reveals, there are literally thousands of pounds worth of goods stored away in our gardens, so making sure it’s all safe and secure is vital,’ they continue. ‘In some cases, we’ve seen households that don’t lock their shed at all, which seems crazy when you consider the worth of the equipment they hold. Even if you have a properly secured lock on your shed’s door, they can still be broken into, so make sure your insurance properly covers the valuables you store inside.’


So what exactly do we keep in our sheds? Here’s a typical list of contents:

2 x Adult bikes @£466
2 x Children’s bikes @£220
4 x Bike helmets @£54
3 x Spades @£39
2 x Rakes @£30
Cordless drill @£99
Circular saw @£60
Shears @£20
Tool box @£99
Garden furniture @£300
2 x Sun loungers @130
Lawnmower @£190
Electric hedge trimmers @£80
2 x Scooters £70
2 x Roller skates @£60
3 x Outdoor games @£94
Paddling pool @£30
Car roof box @£125
Bike rack @£68

Grand total £2,234

Talk about a shedload of cash!

Luckily, now is a great time for you to do your own shed audit. Tot up what you have, before putting everything under lock and key for winter. When you have your itinerary, call up your insurer to check everything is covered by your contents policy. You may find that any property in your home is insured, but that stuff in the shed isn’t. That could mean shelling out thousands to replace power tools or a top-of-the-range bike, should they get stolen.

So grab a padlock and get ready for a good old-fashioned clear out. You’ll feel all the better for it!


How much money is hiding in your shed?

Halloween craft ideas to make your home look frighteningly good

Are you looking for Halloween craft ideas to perk up your party? Be inspired by these spooktacular decorations that will be sure to scare your ghoulish guests.

DIY Doormat

Image credit: David Giles

Customise your doormat for Halloween.

Takes 2hrs

You will need:
Cricut Explore Air, £240, Hobbycraft
Cricut iron-on black vinyl, £12, Hobbycraft
Grey washable doormat, £2, Dunelm

1. Download the BOO! Mat project onto your Cricut machine and follow the instructions to print it onto black iron-on vinyl. Be sure to use the ‘mirror images’ box so the image is flipped.

2. Follow the application instructions to adhere the iron-on vinyl to the surface of the doormat and try to remove any air bubbles with the iron as you go for a smooth finish.

Glue gun webs


Image credit: David Giles

Try your hand at these decorative DIY spiderwebs.

Takes 30mins

You will need:
Small hot glue gun
Black glue gun sticks (7mm diametre), £4.18 for 10, Amazon
Grease-proof paper

1. Plug in the glue gun and insert a black glue stick. Leave to heat up. Working on a sheet of grease-proof paper, carefully draw a vertical line with the gun, then repeat to draw a line across it to make a cross. Add two more diagonal lines to make a star shape.

2. Use the glue gun to join up the lines in a spiderweb shape. Leave to cool slightly then peel the web off the paper and place on a flat surface to continue to dry.

Pompom Pumpkins & Tassel ghosts

Halloween craft ideas

Image credit: David Giles

Make these adorable characters from leftover yarn.

Takes 1hr

You will need:
Clover 65mm pom pom maker, £7 for two, Hobbycraft
6 x DMC tapestry wool in orange, 85p each, Cloud Craft
Dark green pipe cleaners, £1.10 per pack, Hobbycraft
Scissors & pencil
Clear fishing wire
Ruler & cardboard
White wool, £2.89 per ball, Minerva Crafts

1. To make the pumpkins, use the pom pom maker to make an orange pom pom. Cut a pipecleaner into three pieces and bend one end of a piece around the middle, then curl the other end around a pencil to bend into shape. Tie fishing wire around the end to hang.

2. To make the ghost tassels, cut a 10x12cm piece of cardboard. Cut a small piece of wool and place it along the length of cardboard. Wind the rest of the wool around the width of the carboard 25 times and tie the short piece tightly around one end. Snip the yarn at one end to release the tassel. Tie another length of wool round the neck of the tassel and knot to secure, then hang with fishing wire. Add googly eyes if you wish!

Bat pegs

Halloween craft ideas bat pegs

Image credit: David Giles

Transform wooden clothes pegs into playful decorations.

Takes 1hr

You will need:
Wooden pegs, £3.50 for 50, Sainsbury’s
Black crafters acrylic paint, £1.00, Hobbycraft
A4 black card, £1.80 for 10 sheets, Hobbycraft
Pencil & glue

1. Paint the pegs all over (try not to paint over the hinges if possible) with black paint and leave to dry. Draw a single bat wing onto a sheet of black card and cut out. Repeat to make more bat wings.

2. Carefully glue the painted pegs to the middle of two black card wings and leave to dry before hanging up as decorations.

Blood drip candles


Image credit: David Giles

Give pillar candles a spooky finish.

Takes 30mins

You will need:
Fenomen white candles, £4 for five, Ikea
Sinnlig red candle, £2.50, Ikea

1. Light the red candle and let it burn for a few minutes so a little pool of wax forms at the base of the wick. Working on a sheet of newspaper, carefully tip the red candle onto one of the white candles so the red wax drips onto it.

2. Repeat the process until the candle is covered with red drip marks all the way around. Take care not to touch the candle or wax whilst it is hot and do not allow children to try this project.

Will you be making any of these spooktacular Halloween craft ideas? Which on is your favourite?

Halloween craft ideas to make your home look frighteningly good

7 smart ways to store your shoes

No matter how much you pride yourself on having a tidy home, we bet that shoes are some of the objects you find trickiest to store. They’re bulky and awkwardly shaped, but that doesn’t stop us loving them, which is why we all end up with a mountain of footwear that we can never seem to control.

Whether they’re kept by the front door, under the bed or in the bottom of the wardrobe, shoes quickly revert into a cluttered and jumbled mess of odd shoes and tangled laces.

But not for much longer! Here are seven smart ways to store your footwear. Who ever said goody two-shoes was an insult?

Read more: Euphoric photos for people who love super savvy storage

1. Store shoes in boxes

Image credit: Tim Winter

Chances are you’ve already discarded the shoeboxes your shoes came in, so buy a selection of pretty patterned boxes to keep your shoes organised.

2. Lift shoes off the floor

Smart ways to store your shoes

Chucking shoes into the bottom of the wardrobe will not only make them difficult to find, it can also damage them. Instead, stack shoes neatly on a rack. The simplest and most sensible forms of shoe storage, racks come in different sizes depending on how much of a shoe-addict you are, and they can be kept out on display or hidden away in a cupboard or behind a door.

3. Hang shoes on a dado rail

Smart ways to store your shoes

Image credit: Jon Day

Go for a unique statement look by fixing three dado rails to a wall. Hang high heeled shoes off of the rails – just make sure they’re clean so they don’t mark your wall!

Read more:  7 clever ways to organise and store clothes

4. Create labelled boxes

Smart ways to store your shoes

Image credit: Paul Raeside

Stack shoes that you don’t wear that often out of the way in boxes. Make life easier by printing out a photo of your shoes and sticking it to the front of the shoebox so that you can clearly see which pair is in which box.

5. Stack shoes on the stairs

Smart ways to store your shoes

Yes, shoes slung on the stairs can look messy and disorganised, but neatly stacking one pair per stair can actually look really neat and stylish, especially if you have pretty shoes and a pretty patterned staircase.

6. Create an artistic display

Smart ways to store your shoes

It would be shame to hide your favourite heels out of sight. Instead, display them proudly and make a feature of them. Who needs ornaments when you have these beauties to admire?

Read more: Utility room storage ideas that are practical yet stylish

7. Display shoes on a storage ladder

Storage ladders are very a la mode. Hang your heels over the rungs et voila (unfortunately if you’re a trainer person this idea won’t work so well for you).

Which of these shoe storage ideas is your favourite?

7 smart ways to store your shoes

How to get rid of damp, condensation and mould

With damp a common problem in UK homes, we’ve identified the major causes and found out how to get rid of damp and condensation, and stop mould from building up

As the weather turns and winter sets in, you might be greeted by some unwelcome house visitors. No, not trick or treaters or door-to-door salespeople. We’re talking damp.

Damp doesn’t discriminate. It can occur in any home, from a studio flat to a sprawling mansion. Often caused by failing to keep up with house maintenance, it can prove a real headache. Clothes and furniture can be damaged and it can also trigger health problems like asthma. That’s why, if you do see signs of damp, it’s best to get to the bottom of the problem as soon as possible.

Clear the air: Keep your home healthy by cutting down on allergens

What causes damp?

Image credit: Polly Eltes

In is simplest form, damp is caused by condensation. As the temperature falls, condensation rises, creating moisture on windows each morning which will eventually cause mould and damp.

But that’s no the only cause of damp. Leaking pipes, wastes or overflows might be the culprits. Rising damp that comes up from the ground is commonly caused by having a damaged damp-proof course, or no damp-proof course at all. Or there could be water penetrating from outside because of a missing roof tile, leaking window frame or blocked gutter.

What kind of damp do I have?


Image credit: Dominic Blackmore

Luckily damp is easy to identify. Start by sourcing the cause. For example, a damp patch on the wall at the top of a chimney breast suggests a leak from the chimney stack, a wet patch at the top of a wall may indicate a leaking gutter and damp near windows might mean a damaged drip groove beneath the window sill.

Condensation, the most common form of damp, is often caused by poor heating and ventilation. It occurs when activities such as cooking raise the level of humidity in a building. This air condenses on cold surfaces, such as windows and walls.

Running water on windows is the most obvious signal of condensation and can lead to stained curtains, decaying window frames or moulding on paint and wallpaper.

Rising damp is water that enters a structure from the ground.  Symptoms include decayed skirting boards and floors, stained plaster, and peeling paint and wallpaper.

Penetrating damp is when water enters a building from outside and moves through the walls, often creating stains or mould growth at some distance from the leak. Caused are defects in guttering and pipes, faulty flashings, poor pointing and cracked rendering.

How to get rid of condensation

‘Just turning up the heating in the winter will not get rid of condensation,’ advises Chris Michael from dehumidifier supplier Meaco. ‘A damp property means damp air, and raising the heating thermostat will only heat up the wet air molecules, rather than raise the room temperature.’

That said, there are some quick and simple remedies for banishing damp.

1. Wipe down windows and sills every morning

How-to-get-rid-of-damp-3Image credit: Debi Treloar

Remove the condensation as soon as you see it as this will stop any mould from building up. Use kitchen towel, a squeegee or a window vac – we like Vileda’s Windowmatic, which costs around £20. It might help to occasionally wipe down walls and window frames with a fungicidal wash.

Buy now: Fungicidal spray 500ml, £3.50, Wilko

If you’re removing mould caused by condensation, the NHS recommends that you wipe it away with a cloth dipped in soapy water. When you’re done, use a dry cloth to remove any moisture, and throw both cloths away. It advises to ‘Be careful not to brush the mould, as this can release mould spores’.

2. Deal with steam from cooking


Image credit: Jamie Mason

Always cover pans and pots when cooking. This won’t just prevent steam escaping, but also saves energy. You could also close the kitchen door when cooking to stop steam escaping to other parts of the house.

Improving your heating and ventilation systems will do a long way to solving condensation issues. Install extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms to reduce moisture. You can pick up powerful cooker hoods for less than £200, so this can be an extremely cost-effective long-term solution.

3. Ventilate


Image credit: David Brittain

Ventilating your home can be as easy as opening a window for at least 15 minutes each morning. If you have windows that can be locked in a slightly open position, all the better.

‘Opening the window to bring in fresh air will work fine if you are heating the room up,’ explains Chris Michael. ‘Because by increasing the air temperature you will decrease the relative humidity of that air.

If you have bad condensation issues in a particular room, consider fitting air bricks. These are bricks with lots of tiny holes in them, and can be added to exterior walls, allowing air to pass under a suspended timber floor. Traditionally made from clay, they are now more commonly made of plastic. Plastic bricks allow for better airflow and are less easily broken. Long term, they will prevent damp and moisture from damaging the floorboards.

4. Insulate

Good insulation is just as important as decent ventilation, especially if you have cold spots on walls where condensation builds up. Cavity wall, loft and other specialist insulation can combat damp – though in rare cases it can also cause it, so always consult with an expert before you start your project. You should also consider replacing draughty old door and windows with double or triple glazing.

Read: Is your home prepared for cold weather?

5. Buy a dehumidifier 

Contents in a home left empty for long periods can easily be damaged if they absorb and hold excess moisture from the air. The same applies to properties that feel permanently damp, due to their location, (perhaps built against the side of a hill) or age.

This is where a dehumidifier comes in. It will reduce the level of humidity in the air, by sucking in air from the room at one end, removing the moisture, and then blowing it back out into the room again, adding warmth in the process.

If you’re looking for a reliable model, we like the multi award-winning Zambezi dehumidifier from Meaco. You can set it on a timer to run daily at specific times, and it’s clever enough to know if it’s on the wrong extraction setting. If it is, it will adjust itself to create the right conditions. It also works well in colder conditions, so you could use it in a garage or shed.

Buy now: DD8L Zambezi dehumidifier, £259.99, Meaco

How to get rid of penetrating damp


You may need to repair or replace your gutters. It might be your window sill dip grooves – designed to shed rainwater so it doesn’t run down the house wall – are blocked and need to be reformed.

Read: How to look after your gutters

How to get rid of rising damp

Serious damp problems may require that you consult a qualified surveyor. They will take a moisture reading at your home, identify the cause of the problem and advise you on the right course of action.

Find a professional in your area at The Property Care Association scheme.

It may be that the problem is easily remedied, but your surveyor could recommend installing a new damp-proof course, which can costs £1,000s. This involves injecting the walls with chemicals that will form a water-repellant barrier. This can be done from the outside of the building, or your specialist may need to strip the interior wall back to the brick to inject the course. They will them recover them with a specialist plaster.

How to get rid of damp, condensation and mould

Would you swap your bird house for a bat box?

We know you’ll probably have a few bat decorations flying about your house this Halloween but how do you fancy having the real thing to impress trick-or-treaters?

Bats play an essential part in any Halloween celebration, perhaps hanging up in your house as a decoration or piped onto a spooky biscuit. But once you tear off the October page from your calendar, we’re guessing most of you would not be keen on any dark winged creatures lurking in your corners for the rest of the year (other than the odd toy Batman figure, of course).

However, we feel the little fluffy mammals (not flying mice!) have a bit of an unfair reputation, often portrayed as scary, blood sucking, rabid creatures. But truth be told they will not try to launch for your throat, nest in your hair or even come anywhere near you. In fact most British bat species can be pretty darn cute!

Love nature in your garden? Bird boxes and wildlife houses – our pick of the best

Image credit: Radu Privantu / Flickr

And what’s more, they a protected species and very are important for our environment. The little winged creatures are necessary for the biodiversity of the planet as both pollinators and pest controllers. In other words, your garden will bloom with their presence and you can sit outside and enjoy it mosquito bite free!

Want to go eco? How to make compost and feed your garden for free

But alas, according to The Bat Conservation Trust (B.C.T.), there has been a rapid decline in bat populations due to loss of habitat thanks to us humans.  So it’s time for homeowners to help bats survive and thrive by creating new habitats in our gardens, giving them the perfect spot to roost.

If you fancy a bit of carpentry DIY you can make your own bat box. Find details on the Bat Conservation Trust website. Or you can buy small ready-made bat boxes that fit high on exterior walls, trees or garden sheds. Choose one that is built to B.C.T. specifications.

Here’s three that will look smart in your garden and that a homeless bat would love to move into…

The Posh Bat Box, from The Posh Shed Company is painted in a Sadolin Ebony and will look charming on the eves of a house. Put it as high as possible in sheltered sunny places, ideally 4m above the ground.

Buy now: The Bat Box is priced at £69 plus £6 p&p, The Posh Shed Company

This affordable rustic version will blend into your garden and has a cute grooved bat ladder making it easy for the new homeowners to climb in. We love the cool batman-style logo branded on the front.

Buy now:  Greenkey large bat box, £12.99, Amazon

The penthouse of all bat boxes for true bat fans and enthusiasts. This luxury version is designed for breeding. It actually heats up when connected to a domestic mains, making it the perfect honeymoon suite and maternity ward for bats.

Buy now: Wooden heated bat box, £576, NHBS

Create a comfortable place in your garden to watch bats: Pretty patio ideas for every garden space

Once installed, simply sit back, and enjoy your new bat buddies. You might even get a new baby bat pup or two. Trust us, watching them swoop, swirl and call (the sound bats make) around your garden on a summer’s evening once the birds are tucked up for the night is pretty cool and a spectacular site- just ask Dracula!

Would you swap your bird house for a bat box?

The Rotimatic promises authentic Indian flatbreads in minutes

Got a thing for Indian food, and £760 burning a samosa-sized hole in your pocket? Then you might want to spend it on the Rotimatic, the world’s first fully-automatic flatbread making robot.

The gourmet gadget was dreamed up by husband and wife team Pranoti Nagarkar and Rishi Israni, who spent eight years and created 11 prototypes before settling on the final design. It goes on sale in the UK today, having already made a commotion – or should that be korm-otion (?!) – in the USA and Singapore.

To use, it, turn it on and add water and flour to the canisters at the top. Then select how thick and soft you’d like your roti to be, and how many you’d like to make. Press start and the machine will rustle up a roti dough. This is shaped, baked, puffed up and dispensed at the bottom of the machine, delicious and hot.

The Rotimatic can make one roti a minute, and can also whizz up popular flatbreads like tortillas, masala roti and puris. It’s even capable of producing pizza bases.

Rotimatic with spices

Pranoti says, ‘I try to eat healthy and stay fit. But I realised that following a healthy diet plan was always challenging and time consuming. I wanted to eat healthy home-cooked meals but I never had the time to prepare an entire meal from scratch. I wanted to solve this problem with the use of technology and that’s when the idea of Rotimatic was born.’

‘Our hope is to see a Rotimatic in every kitchen. We want it to be a part of people’s everyday life. Just like a washing machine or a refrigerator.’

Rotimatic front

Rishi and Pranoti reckon that having a Rotimatic at home can save close to an hour a day, and will be used five times a week by its most devoted users. And they’re already getting fan mail. ‘You always know exactly what your family is eating, because you get to choose the ingredients yourself and steer clear of unwanted preservatives,’ says one happy customer. ‘The kids don’t even have to wait for me to get home — they can start eating fresh rotis instead of junk food. It makes your life a lot more convenient!’

As you’d hope from a machine that costs close to £800, the Rotimatic has plenty of tricks up its sleeve. Its companion app is being developed so that you can use it to control the machine and download new recipes. And because the Rotimatic is connected to the Internet, if anything goes wrong, the company’s engineers can remotely diagnose and try to fix the problem.

To get your hands on a Rotimatic, you’ll need to join the waiting list – sign up at

We can’t deny it’s a big investment. But if you’re looking for rotis that taste like Mummy ke haath ka khana (mum-made food), it could be worth it.

The Rotimatic promises authentic Indian flatbreads in minutes

Decorate with orange and black this halloween

Black and orange may be a colour scheme associated with Halloween, but it’s not as terrifying as you might think

The combined force of orange and black may instantly conjure up dark images of Halloween, but this colour power couple have far more longevity than your annual carved pumpkin lantern.

Strike a balance between the two hues and you’re guaranteed a space that is terrific, rather than terrifying.

More reasons to celebrate Halloween? READ: 7 Halloween decorating ideas that won’t scare away the neighbours! 

Cobwebs most definitely not included.

1. Gently, gently…

Slices of warm orange – found in the cushions, rug and pouffes – breathe life into a cool monochrome scheme. The black elements come in the form of patterned wallpaper and fabrics, with fine lines and flourishes to keep things light and modern. See? Not scary in the slightest!

2. Dine on pumpkin

If you want a taste of black and orange, but are a little scared of accidentally creating something that resembles a haunted house, take a look at this dining room. A black table grounds a white vintage-style space, while butternut-squash-coloured seating offers a cheery punch of colour.

3. Clearly not a kitchen nightmare


Image credit: Bruce Hemming

Is it us, or does this kitchen look like it was inspired by the classic Le Creuset earthenware? You know the one we mean – glossy burnt orange with a matt-black handle? Whatever, we love it. That glowing orange worktop, sandwiched between a matt-black tiled wall and zebrano wood cabinetry, all finished with minimal stainless steel hardware… It’s breathtaking, in a very good way.

Find out why you should celebrate this day. READ: 7 Reasons why you should celebrate Halloween 2017

4. Burnish it, don’t banish it


Image credit: Damian Russell

The only scream you will hear in this living room is one of delight, as you take in this perfect scene. Black-stained wooden floorboards and a hefty cast iron fireplace perfectly balance a nephrite green base, meaning the orange tones of the bronze-coloured elements glow like embers in a coal fire. Pretty much poetic.

5. Teen spirit

Shock horror! Power struggles are a common feature of life with teenagers, but this bold retro-style bedroom should help restore the balance. Not only does it feature plenty of black (a favourite with young rebels) but the equally strong orange hues offer parents a secret power: it’s known for lifting moods and encouraging communication.

6. Fantastic Mr Fox


Image credit: Claire Lloyd Davies

Some people find foxes a menace, but here they are just plain cute. Skewed more to the orange end of the scale, black frames and detailing are used to punctuate this playful bedroom.

7. Dressing-up box

Traditional orange and black dining room

Image credit: Homes & Gardens

Halloween is the perfect opportunity to raid your wardrobe, dressing-up box and storage containers, giving those long-lost treasures a new lease of life. This room is the decorating equivalent of said treasure chest: the textured orange-and-white Chinoiserie wall adds texture, and grounds the many layers of carefully chosen pieces. Meanwhile, high-gloss black found in the intricate furniture and artworks are pulled through the scheme and framed by the patterned rug and detailed units. Not a trick, this is a pure treat.

8. Ghostly glamour


Image credit: Matthew Williams

Period properties always have a sense of history attached to them. Use their original features to your advantage and create a dramatic living space. Colour and texture really stands out against the almost-black walls and dark woodwork – golden highlights lift seaweed green and aqua hues, amongst which a striking amber wingback chair makes its presence felt. Just add a ghost-ship-style chandelier, and you’re set.

Decorate with orange and black this halloween

7 reasons why you should celebrate Halloween

Will you celebrate Halloween this year? As Halloween fast approaches and witchy costumes and plastic pumpkin pots haunt the shops, we have collaborated a list championing this wonderful time of year. Whether it’s an excuse to binge, play mischievous tricks or simply curl up on a crisp evening, Halloween is an enchanting time of year – and here’s why…

1. You can get creative with your pumpkin

Image credit: Sainsbury’s Home

Slice off that top, dig out the pulp and get crafty with your carving. Don’t go for the usual horror face, but try creepy spiders and haunting landscapes. Experiment with different sizes and shapes – the uglier the better – and pile them high on your porch for a gorgeous magma glow.

More reasons to celebrate Halloween? READ: 7 Halloween decorating ideas that won’t scare away the neighbours! 

2. There’s an excuse to polish off that pumpkin


Image credit: Tony Briscoe

Autumn allows us to celebrate gluttony. With the harvest over and an abundance of pumpkins on the market, spice up your meal with the addition of this deliciously goopy lava. Pumpkin is a versatile ingredient, which can be added to pies, soups and mulled wine or simply roasted. Pumpkin pancakes anyone?

3. Collect your bonbon bounty

Celebrate halloween trick or treat bag

Image credit: Woman’s Weekly

From our trick-or-treating days, Halloween has acted as a daily pass for binging on sugar. With so many delicious treats on the market it’s impossible to say no at this time of year. Try making some home bakes for your sugar-craving guests, from spider shortbread to bloody jelly.

4. It’s a chance to get dressed up

Frankie_-Orange-Brick-and-Lord-Vampyre Legoland

Image credit: Mikael Buck/Legoland

Halloween brings an excuse to get innovative with your dress. Nothing is too extreme at this time of year so don’t be scared to get creative and think outside of the box toward tragic movie heroines or go gorey. Don’t stop at your own dress either: decorate the exterior and interior of your home.

Feeling crafty? READ: 5 easy non-carve pumpkin ideas for a hassle-free Halloween

5. It’s beginning to get chilly


Image credit: Jon Day

Whilst storming the streets on a candy quest may suit some, Halloween and this autumnal time of year also celebrates the chance to get cosy. Mornings are misty and evenings get eerie as the clocks change so curl up with your favourite horror movie or novel and light the fire.

6. We get to watch fireworks

Country Homes & Interiors

Image credit: Country Homes & Interiors

As Guy Fawkes Night approaches, fireworks and bonfires grow in popularity during late October. We love the distinct incense of charred wood and barbecued sausages – who said outdoor dining was just for the summer? Bonfires were traditionally lit at Halloween to attract bugs and bats to give the evening a spooky ambience.

7. It’s a great occasion for a party

Halloween table decorating ideas

After all that creativity, it definitely calls for a party! Serve pumpkin punch, sinful treats and showcase your fancy dress to your family and friends. Halloween is a festive occasion with no holds barred and no customs to follow so go crazy, we dare you…

As if you needed any more reasons to celebrate Halloween!

7 reasons why you should celebrate Halloween

Kirstie Allsopp thinks the decline of dining tables is ‘dangerous’

She warns that not spending time eating as a family could be harmful to family relationships and your children’s wellbeing

TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp was speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival when the subject turned to family mealtimes. Asked by an audience member about her thoughts on dining tables and their decline, Kirstie said: ‘I think it’s dangerous. Genuinely, I can’t overstress that,’ The Telegraph reports.

She warned that shunning meals at the dining table could be detrimental to wellbeing, especially for teenagers who are increasingly affected by mental health issues.

‘There’s a lot of research showing sitting down as a family, talking about things, and taking the time to do that together, is incredibly important.’

Talking tables: Kitchen tables: our pick of the best

Image credit: Simon Whitmore

Kirstie has seen her fair share of British homes over the years while working as a presenter on property television shows including Location, Location, Location.

She reflected upon why fewer and fewer homes now have dining tables: ‘One of the reasons it’s happening is that modern homes are smaller. They get smaller and smaller and smaller and it’s awful.’

‘You have a situation where you have all these homes with bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, but no tables. You don’t learn to share anything, you don’t learn to have a communal space, you never sit around the table together.’

Her comments follow a recent report that revealed that only half of Brits consider a dining room a necessity these days, with just under 50 per cent often eating meals in front of the TV. The same report also disclosed that a quarter of people only use their dining room on special occasions, and that it is commonly used as a storage room instead.

Read more: Is the dining room a thing of the past?

Earlier in the festival, Mary Berry disclosed that she has moved to a house without a dining room. Instead she has a dining table in the kitchen so that the cook is not isolated.

Open Plan Kitchen - Dining Room

Image credit: Ashley Morrison

Does your dining room need some TLC? Check out our dining room inspiration pages

Kirstie agreed that the rise in popularity of having a dining table in the kitchen is positive, as the cook can interact with the rest of the family. ‘That has been a brilliant thing,’ she says. ‘But if the dining room is replaced by something that isn’t a dining table, then that is a real loss.’

Kirstie Allsopp thinks the decline of dining tables is ‘dangerous’

Cosy bedroom ideas for a restful retreat

Treat your bedroom as a calm retreat from the busy nature of everyday life – a place to de-stress and unwind after a hectic day

Create a cocoon of cosiness with the help of our cosy bedroom ideas to inspire you to create a theme to your space that is stylish and chic. From layers of chunky knits in neutral shades to luxurious velvet beds in rich jewel tones, there are plenty of ways to create a snuggly sleep space. Then just don your comfiest PJs and hunker down…

Hunker down among chunky knits

Image credit: Simon Whitmore

Complement a neutral palette with pastel hues. Combine delicate prints and soft colours with natural materials to create a bedroom filled with cosy comforts. Choose thick fabric for a cohesive look that’ll keep out the cold, line heavyweight curtains in a thermal fabric that coordinates with your wallpaper. Stay in touch with the great outdoors in the cooler months by displaying seasonal posies in simple ceramic vases. Don’t forget the flooring. Add a super-soft flourish with a chunky woven rug and deep pile carpet to keep your toes toasty.

Get the look
Buy now: Similar wallpaper, Verity wallpaper, £62 per roll, Colefax & Fowler at John Lewis 
Buy now: Similar paint, Coastline silk emulsion, £10 for 2.5L, Wilko
Buy now: Similar fabric, Iris in Petal, £36 per m, Sanderson at House Decor Interiors
Buy now: Similar flooring, Ibsker rug, £195, Ikea

Create a rich scheme with jewel tones


Image credit: Dominic Blackmore

Make your bedroom a space of optimum indulgence. Your bedroom should be a place you can luxuriate in, so fill it with irresistible colours and textures. Pick furniture upholstered in tactile materials like velvet and silk for a sleeping area fit for a Maharaja. Choose colours inspired by precious stones like ruby, emerald, sapphire and topaz. A winged bed frame is a grand statement piece and will set the tone for a whole room. Layer it up with bold printed bedding and a cosy throw boasting a pompom trim – perfect for snuggling. Add more wow with vibrant accessories. Don’t be afraid to mix and match lamp shades and bases for an eclectic look and introduce some metallic accents for ultimate opulence.

Get the look
Buy now: Similar paint, Colours Chance silk emulsion, £9 for 2.5L, B&Q
Buy now: Similar fabric, Zaragoza in Cassis, £42 per m, Designers Guild at Jane Clayton & Company
Buy now: Similar flooring, Emerald Jewel shaggy rug, from £79, Dunelm

Use pretty shades and delicate prints


Image credit: David Brittain

Surround yourself with uplifting pastel tones. Soothe the senses with calming shades, layers of cosy quilts and a springy carpet underfoot. Serene and spring-like, pastels enliven a neutral palette and bring a fresh and tranquil feel to sleep space. Combine sugary pinks, mauves, cornflower blue and mint on a backdrop of dove grey for a sophisticated scheme. Pile up plush cushions and quilted throws to make your bed even more inviting at the end of a long day. Create a cosy ambience with a variety of light sources. Task lamps are ideal for bedtime reading, while tea light candles in pretty votives dotted around the room give a warming glow and set a romantic mood.

Get the look
Buy now: Similar paint, Dix Blue, £43.50 for 2.5L, Farrow & Ball at B&Q
Buy now: Similar wallpaper, Kimono Duck Egg wallpaper, £40 per roll, Laura Ashley
Buy now: Similar fabric, Moorland Green, £15 per m, Studio G at Wallpaperdirect

Immerse yourself in bold hues


Image credit: Dominic Blackmore

Create a cosy environment rooted in nature. Statement prints marry with Scandic-Inspired furniture for a bold bedroom look you’ll love. As the colours of the land and sky, it’s no wonder greens and blues make a soothing partnership. Bring the look to life with pops of yellow and plenty of white. Change up your bedding for the season with a quilted duvet cover or cosy mattress topper. Use lighting to zone areas. For bedtime reading, a quirky table lamp is just right, while a retro drum shade enhances a desk area.

Get the look
Buy now: Similar paint, Infinity matt emulsion, £32 for 2.5L, Graham & Brown 
Buy now: Similar fabric, Blocks in Chalk, Lime, Indigo and Denim, £29 per m, Scion 
Buy now: Similar flooring, Dream Twist carpet in Wood Pigeon, £15 per sq m, John Lewis

Embrace Scandi simplicity


Image credit: David Brittain

Create a country nest, perfect for hibernating. Revel in the comforts of the country with furniture that boasts rustic simplicity and faux fur throws for curling up in. Layer splashes of pillar box red, cool blue and white against a backdrop of ages wooden beams for a harmonious combination that offers an informal, Nordic vibe. Ideal for a cosy loft space or guest room. Choose a bed with a space for storage underneath – perfect for tucking away slippers so they’re always within reach.

Get the look
Buy now: Similar paint, James absolute matt emulsion, £42 for 2.5L, Little Greene at John Lewis
Buy now: Similar flooring, Amtico Click New England oak flooring, £34.99 per sq m, Amtico 

Go for a quaint country look


Image credit: David Brittain

Pile up carved wooden bed frames with textiles in traditional Scandi colours.  Traditional prints like tartan and folky motifs in coordinating colours add a homely feel. Use them on curtains, quilts and pillows to create a cosy nest to while away the dark nights in. White panelling lend simple detailing to bedroom walls. Save money and time by cheating the look using a wood-effect wallpaper.

Get the look
Buy now: Similar fabric, Highland check in Cranberry, £36 per m, Laura Ashley
Buy now: Similar wallpaper, Arthouse white wood wallpaper, £6 per roll, Wilko 

Surround yourself with ornate motifs and luxe texture


Image credit: Dominic Blackmore

A hotel chic bedroom is the ultimate escapism. Retreat from reality into a grown-up scheme of warm neutrals and high-end touches. Fine textiles are at the heart of this smart scheme. Add a plush headboard and divan bed laden with pillows and throws in tactile fabrics like linen, cotton and satin. A buttoned footstool is a stylish touch to hold additional blankets ready for chilly nights. Lattice-panel art hung above the bed suggests that far-flung glamour of a Moroccan riad. Close your eyes and dream you’re tucked away from the bustle in a tranquil hideaway. Add drama to a rich and indulgent backdrop of biscuit, coffee and cream with sophisticated black trimmings and sturdy dark wood furniture.

Get the look
Buy now: Similar paint, Crown Breatheasy White Pepper matt emulsion, £14 for 2.5L, Homebase
Buy now: Similar flooring, Carisbrooke Supreme wool carpet, £36.99 per sq m, Carpetright

Create a cosseting scheme


Image caption: Adrian Briscoe

Mix sleek designs with deep blue for a bold look. Moody blues, soft white linen and oversized checks make a comforting combo. Opt for simple, design-led furniture with an Ercol influence – keep an eye out on sites like eBay and Gumtree for original pieces going for not very much. There’s nothing like clambering into soft, crinkly linen sheets at the end of the day. Pile on extra warmth with check and faux fur throws. Run translucent voiles behind black-out curtains to maintain privacy and let in light.

Get the look
Buy now: Similar paint, Dulux Sapphire Salute matt emulsion, £13.83 for 1.25L, B&Q
Buy now: Similar fabric, Anoushka plains in Sapphire, £53 per m, Harlequin at Jane Clayton

Will you be giving your bedroom a cosy update using these ideas?

Cosy bedroom ideas for a restful retreat