How to Add Charm to Your New Build Home

Moving to a new build or planning a large extension on your home? Check out these ideas for adding character to your “blank canvas”

Original article first published on Houzz – Helen Winter, Houzz Contributor

A brand-new house or extension is like having a lovely blank canvas on which to put your own design stamp. However, an empty room can be daunting, and it might be difficult to know where to start. Follow this guide for clever tips on how to get the most from your newly built space.

Pick a palette from a painting
If you plan to start from scratch, with new furniture and accessories, you’ll need a jumping-off point for your colour scheme and room design. A large piece of art can be a great starting point to pull a scheme together.

This evocative seascape is reflected by the sofa cushions and ikat rug to stunning effect. Find something you absolutely love, whether it’s a print or an investment piece, and create a mood board based on the key colours. Make sure you keep the scale of the artwork appropriate either to the size of the room or the piece of furniture above which it will be displayed.


Lay art beneath your feet
A beautiful rug can be almost like a painting on your floor. Whether you buy one off the peg or go down the bespoke route, it’s straightforward to then furnish and accessorise the room using the same colour scheme.

Don’t forget to add small doses of accent colours to avoid the space becoming too bland. The shots of dark wood in this room offset the blue, grey and white scheme.

Check out more rugs with beautiful designs


Exploit space in your walls
It’s a good idea to think about storage at the planning stage of a building project; there are lots of built-in options your architect or builder can help you with. Here, the recessed shelving is a neat and attractive use of space, and looks even better with the integrated lighting.

Niches like this are popular in bathrooms, and can be fitted fairly easily into any non-load-bearing wall. It can be messy and inconvenient to retrofit them, so it’s much better to plan them in early on.

Get your bearings
In which direction does your home face? This will be a huge consideration for planning the inside and outside flow. The orientation of a room’s windows will affect how you arrange the layout and which paint colours will work best.

Where the sun falls late on a balmy summer’s evening should be a consideration with patio doors, but also take note of prevailing winds – you don’t want your home to become a wind tunnel every time you open the doors.


Scale it up
Play with the scale of your new space. With a vaulted roof light like this, the oversized pendants balance the space above the dining table and look stunning day and night.

If you’re working with an architect, you’ll most likely see a 3D visualisation of your project. Be bold and listen to professional advice, as you might be surprised by how you can change the look and feel of your room.


Love your light
Design your lighting as soon as you have a floor plan. Work out where you’d like your task, ambient and decorative lighting to go, and decide what types of fittings you’d like. Discuss this with an electrician, who can advise you on all the options.

This is a golden opportunity to avoid the messy jobs of chasing in and pulling up floorboards and carpets, which you’ll have to do if you fit wall lights and dimmer sockets down the line.

Check out this beginner’s guide to lighting in layers

Breathe life into the garden

To give a new garden a kickstart, make sure you allocate a reasonable budget for mature planting and shrubbery. This will give a foundation of coverage early on. A professional landscaper should be able to advise on which plants will work best for your garden’s location and soil, and which varieties will really play to your home’s architectural strengths.

Factor in wiring for lighting, a hot tub, pond or water feature, which could add value to your home. These can be planned during the early stages, while the soft landscaping will need to be done after all the builders and tradespeople have left.


Gently break up the space
If your new space is open-plan, you might want to consider ways to break it up. An architect or designer will be able to create interesting room divisions and even offer flexible space with moving walls and room dividers.

Here, an open-plan space has been zoned by a row of long, narrow boards. The effect is simple yet stunning.

Explore more open plan kitchen areas


Big up a beautiful ceiling
A new build or renovation is a great opportunity to create a stunning ceiling. Instead of the usual plain option, you could go for a dropped ceiling, where a panel hangs below the original area. Alternatively, a coffered design features recessed areas.

Other choices include stepped ceilings, or ones featuring decorative plasterwork. An ornate ceiling can work just as well in an ultra-modern home as in a traditional one.

Future-proof your home
Both lighting and home automation technology have made huge advances in recent years, and are only going to get bigger and more exciting. You’ll be able to connect every electrical device in your home to a network and remotely control it from a central computer or tablet.

Research the options available and perhaps start with your TV and audio equipment, or look into how the technology can make your home more secure.

How to Create the Feeling of Home in a New Area

A big move can be a daunting experience, so make it easier for yourself with these helpful ideas

Original article first published on Houzz

Laura Gaskill, Houzz Contributor

If you’ve ever made a big move, whether to a different county or a different country, you are probably familiar with that uprooted feeling that comes along with leaving everything known for something different and new. It can be exciting but also… terrifying. How do you build a life in a new place? When you’re wondering how to find the supermarket, navigate the tube and perhaps even learn a new language, having a warm, cosy, comfortable place where you can rest your head becomes even more important than usual. Making a home away from home is hard — get the ball rolling by trying out one or more of these ideas.

Set up a routine
When you arrive in a new place, whether it’s a different city or a different continent, a daily routine can help create a feeling of normalcy. Seek out a few spots in your local area – a café, bakery and newsagent, for instance – and visit them each day. Smile and say hello (or bonjour or ciao) to the shopkeeper, sip your coffee, eat breakfast and repeat. After a few days of this, you and the shopkeepers (and maybe a few other regulars) will get to recognise one another, making the greetings more familiar and perhaps warmer.



Shop and cook à la Julia Child
Channel Julia Child, who famously explored France, often solo, while her diplomat husband Paul Child was busy working. Although Julia must have stuck out in a sea of native Parisians, she fully embraced the experience by tapping into her passion for food — something people of all cultures understand. Give yourself a mission to explore the markets and local foods of whatever area you have moved to, whether that’s Paris or Edinburgh.

Learn more about where you are
It’s natural to feel out of sorts when you first arrive in a new place — but don’t let that discomfort turn to feeling judgmental or bitter about the differences between where you are now and where you used to live. Read books about the area and the culture. Sign up for a language course or join a conversation group. Cultivate an attitude of optimism and curiosity about your surroundings.



Create a sanctuary in your bedroom
Exploring a new city can be exhausting, especially if there are language differences involved. Give yourself the gift of an utterly safe and comforting place in which to land at the end of each day by making your bedroom the ultimate sanctuary. Soft lighting, lovely bedding, a scented candle, cosy slippers and perhaps a small radio or a phone dock so you can listen to your favourite music will help the space feel like home.

Discover tranquil bedroom ideas



Embrace the local coffee (or tea) break
From English teatime to the Swedish coffee-and-cake break known as fika, it seems nearly everywhere in the world has its own break-time tradition.

So wherever you are, do as the locals do. In Italy enjoy a shot of espresso taken in a single gulp while standing at the bar in the café, like the locals do on a quick break from work.

A small shift in the way you do things, even in your own home, such as taking afternoon tea rather than coffee, can be a gentle way to nudge yourself into a new culture.



Treat yourself to lots of fresh flowers and candles
A simple but highly effective way to make your new home feel cosy and welcoming is to go a little wild with candlelight and fresh flowers.

Cluster candles on trays, put one on your bedside table and line them up at the centre of your dining table.

Visit a flower stall or grocery store and treat yourself to fresh blooms once a week. When your mood needs bolstering, light all your candles, put on some lovely music and inhale the scent of the flowers gracing your space.

Check out how to display flowers

Connect online with people back home … but not too much
This is the digital age, after all – you might as well take advantage of it! Connect with friends and family through video calls and social media, if you like. But remember, connecting with long-distance loved ones should be a nice treat, not a substitute for getting out there and building a satisfying and interesting life in your new area.



Put personal treasures on display
Books, photos, artwork and other personal items become even more important when you’re in a new place.

Take an afternoon to display your things in your new place – hang up photos of friends and family, organise your bookshelves and put your favourite linen on the bed.



Reinvent your style … if you want to
You’re in a new place, and no one knows you yet. Why not take this as an opportunity to try out a new look? Edit your wardrobe, organise your wardrobe and go shopping. Besides, shopping is a great excuse to get out there and explore a new area.



Make a personal connection in the new place
Easier said than done, but well worth the effort. If you’re finding it hard to meet people, try seeking out a local group related to one of your passions or hobbies. Take a class, volunteer for a local charity or attend an event that sounds interesting. If you’ve moved to a new country, connect with the local expat community. If you’re a parent, seek out a play group to join. Once you’ve made one connection, it’s bound to lead to others.



Tend a garden
Planting something, even a potted garden on your balcony, makes a statement that this is a place you plan to stay in for a while.

If you love gardening but don’t have a garden of your own, see if there is a local community garden where you could get a small area to tend — it could also be a great way to connect with other like-minded people.

Get more garden inspiration

Collect moments of beauty
Of course, there are places we immediately think of as beautiful, but every place has its own charm. Grab your camera and head out on a daily walk, snapping pictures of the little things that catch your eye.

If you want to make it interesting, issue yourself a creative challenge – take photos of a single colour, or find the first letter of your name or a heart shape. The creative project will loosen you up, and you may end up with some frameworthy shots to boot!

Reignite your wanderlust
Plan a day trip to a region you’ve never explored. After the shock of being somewhere totally new, you may realise that the place you come back ‘home’ to feels exactly like that … home.

Make your home feel sweet, even if it is temporary
Those who move frequently, learn that home is where you make it. No matter how long you think you’ll be staying where you are, you might as well make it the best possible experience while it lasts.

Moving home at Christmas [12 top tips]

With presents to wrap, cards to write, decorations to hang and food to prepare, it’s easy to get a little tense during the festive season. But there’s no reason why your home move has to add to the pressure. Follow these 12 tips to ensure your Christmastime move goes without a hitch.

1. Book well in advance

As soon as you know your move date, book your removal company. Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year for moving, so book early to ensure you get the dates you want.

2. Choose a morning slot

The night draws in early at Christmastime. Book your move early in the morning to ensure as much daylight as possible throughout the move.

3. Prepare for darkness

If you’re moving long distance or carrying a large household, even an early start may mean your winter move ends in the dark. Pack some torches to help you find the unfamiliar light switches in your new home.

4. Tell friends and family

Make sure all your Christmas cards arrive at your new address by letting friends and family know you’ve moved.

5. Set up post redirection

Even after telling everyone your new address, forgetful friends might still send Christmas mail to your old property. To make sure you get all your seasonal post by signing up to the Royal Mail redirection service.

6. Contact your utility suppliers

With the high costs of gas, electric and water in the winter months, ensure you don’t end up paying the new residents’ bills after you move out. Contact your utility suppliers and let them know when you’ll be moving.

7. Pack a Christmas feast

Don’t forget that shops close earlier over Christmas, so stock up on some essentials before the move, ready for a festive feast after you’ve unpacked.

8. Keep  the kids occupied

Children hyped up on the excitement of Christmas will likely be obstacles to a safe, successful move. Set up a play room or ask a neighbour to babysit until the removal is complete.

9. Ask for help

Even if you opt for a full packing service with your removal company, asking friends and family for a little help with the initial clear-out will go a long way.

10. Keep pathways clear

Most of us pine for a white Christmas, but winter weather can prove disruptive on move day. You can help your removal team by gritting or shovelling any snow or ice clear of pathways and parking areas.

11. Wrap up warm

Moving your belongings in and out means your doors will be open most of the day. Protect yourself against the winter breeze by wearing plenty of warm layers.

12. Invest in seasonal storage

A Christmas move risks exposing Santa’s presents to prying children. Keep your gifts out of the way by placing them into storage for the duration of the move.

Planning a home move this festive season? Book now and Pickfords’ little elves will deliver your belongings in time for Christmas. Contact us for a quote or request a call from your local move team today.

Christmas gift guide for the new homeowner in your life [15 gift ideas]

Finding thoughtful, original presents for friends and family is an annual struggle for many of us. But if your loved ones are the proud owners of a new home this Christmas, chances are they’ll love one of these festive gifts:


Katomi Duo Sparrow Keyring, from Amazon


Kitchen Conversions Chopping Board, from Find Me A Gift


Personalised Rustic Glass Clock, from Prezzybox

pal467 scrabble lights lifestyle_1.jpg

Scrabble Lights, from Find Me A Gift


Wifi Password Chalkboard, from Amazon


Hand Drawn Bespoke House Sketch, from Notonthehighstreet


Personalised Decanter Set, from Etsy


Little Wren Bird Feeder, from Find Me A Gift


Rustic Wood Wine Rack, from Prezzybox


Entertainer’s Gift Box, from UncommonGoods

fiz167 polaroid magnetic frames_lifestyle_1800.jpg

Polaroid Magnetic Frames, from Find Me A Gift


Personalised ‘New Home’ Candle, from Notonthehighstreet



Breakfast Master, from Prezzybox


Gala Photo Display, from UncommonGoods


‘Home Sweet Home’ Gift Box, from Notonthehighstreet

Planning a home move this festive season? Book now and Pickfords’ little elves will deliver your belongings in time for Christmas. Contact us for a quote or request a call from your local move team today.

Give Your Home a Refresh this Autumn

Say goodbye to summer’s lethargy and have a sort-out at home. It’s time to channel that back-to-school-feeling for domestic good!

Original article first published on Houzz

Jo Simmons, Houzz Contributor

Even if your school and uni days are far behind you, there is something about September and October that always feels new and purposeful. The summer is over and the streets are full of young people bustling off to school each morning and adults settling back into a working routine. OK, so you no longer need to organise your pencil case and cover your textbooks with wallpaper, but you can still channel this new-term energy by whipping your home and yourself into shape, ready for autumn. A touch of targeted tidying, some clever organising and a few small lifestyle tweaks should help you start afresh.


Take care of yourself
Growing children need new shoes and clothes at the start of an academic year and while your feet may not have gone up a size over the summer, this could be a good time to book in for any key health appointments. Is it time for an eye check? Are you overdue at the dentist? Perhaps you just need a haircut! Channel the new-term feel by booking health reviews, check-ups or personal grooming sessions now.



Overhaul your diet
Don’t wait until New Year to start a new healthy-eating regime. After a summer of rosé and holiday food, now is a great time to rethink what you eat. Injecting some new, healthy dishes into your tried and trusted repertoire will perk up the shorter evenings and help to ensure everyone in the family is fighting fit and able to cope with school, work and the coming sniffle season.



Prepare the garden for autumn
Clean and store garden furniture safely for the winter. Leaving wooden chairs out in the rain can damage them and shorten their life, while chairs with any metal detailing can rust. Pack up your barbecue, too, and take down any summer bunting that might not survive the winter. Now is also a good time to hang bird feeders, as the weather grows colder and our feathered friends find their food supplies drying up.



Look at your lighting
Before the clocks change and we plunge into winter, take some time to think about your lighting. Over summer, we are able to overlook any deficiencies in our lighting, but come the shorter days these become more obvious. Use your new-term energy to tackle lighting now, before autumn fully arrives and you lose impetus. Dealing with domestic problems outside the season when they are most apparent is the smart thing to do, so using that logic, get any roof repairs, draft-exclusion work or insulation done now, ready for when it will be truly needed.

Welcome winter with new lighting products

Blitz a junk drawer
Every home has one, and it could be anywhere in your house (although the kitchen is the usual suspect for harbouring a junk drawer). This space supposedly holds kitchen utensils, stationery or underwear, but in fact it’s become a wilderness of junk, containing everything from elastic bands and takeaway menus to dead batteries and odd socks. Time to take action.

Discover 9 ways to deal with clutter in your home



Bring winter clothes out of storage
If you have stored winter clothes in boxes over the summer, think about getting them out of storage now. This gives you time to check over your jumpers, scarves and coats to see if any need dry cleaning before the cold weather arrives. You can then whizz through your wardrobe and store any seriously summery clothes away, too.



Service your bike
You might remember to service the car once a year, but how about your bike? Servicing it will ensure it’s safe to use and can prolong its life, so direct some new-term zeal towards your two wheels. If your children are cycling to school, perhaps after a summer of not using their bikes much, it’s a good idea to get their bikes serviced, too.



Ditch what’s out of date
Have a new-term tidy up, but give it a focus, too. Chuck out any expired medicines, lotions or bath products. There will be a use by date on medicines but apply common sense with less serious products. If you haven’t used that tube of foot exfoliator this summer, you probably never will. Bin it! Take the same approach with make-up. Old make-up can harbour bacteria and lead to eye infections, so check the labels for how long each item should be open and in use for, and ditch accordingly.

Discover more bathroom ideas

Go back to school yourself
Many adult education colleges are still enrolling for courses, so if you have always wanted to improve your Spanish or learn how to throw a pot, see if you can book onto a course now and go back to school this autumn. Failing that, set aside some time to enjoy learning at home. Create a list of books you have always intended to read, or go online for suggestions. The broadsheet Sunday supplements and review sections often have lists of the best new books – these could become your autumn reading list.



Purge the dodgy plastic
Bulky plastic containers are essential for food storage, but many of us are guilty of keeping too many. So have a plastic cull. Ditch any containers that are stained, smelly, distorted or without a lid. Pare down your collection of old takeaway curry containers, too. One or two might prove handy; a whole stack of them will not.

Making the Transition Between House Moves that Little Bit Easier

Say goodbye to a much-loved home and settle in quickly to a new place with these tips for a smooth physical and emotional move

Full article originally published on Houzz

Jo Simmons, Houzz Contributor

Moving house is so much more than simply relocating to a different place. When we leave behind a home, especially one we’ve lived in for a long time, we also leave behind all those years spent enjoying it. Children who were tiny when you moved in have grown into strapping teenagers under its roof. Friends have visited, meals have been shared and the small dramas of everyday life have been played out here, so it can be emotional to walk away.

Equally, settling into a new home that still carries traces of its previous owners can take time. So in the rush and chaos of moving, take time to celebrate the home you’re leaving behind and get set to enjoy the place you’re moving to with these tips for easing the transition.

How to Say Goodbye to Your Old Home

Take photos of it
Before everything is swept up into packing cases, take photos of your home. Document each room, so you can revisit it later. If you have children, snap them, too, enjoying the house as usual: drawing at the kitchen table, playing in the garden, chilling in front of the TV. You are aiming to capture an emotional record of your house, as well as images of its beautiful kitchen or big windows.

Moving to a smaller home? Discover how to downsize happily

Snap it messy!
Take pictures of your home on a typical day, when it’s not clean and tidy. This will provide a more meaningful snapshot of your house and how you used it.

You could arrange all these images in an album, with the address and the dates you lived there on the front. This serves as a lovely record of your time, but also a realistic account. If you have mixed feelings about moving on, honest images of all the good and bad elements of your last place may help you feel more positive about your new home.


Leave your mark
Why not leave a little something of yourself behind, before you move out? No, that does not mean a sink full of unwashed coffee mugs! Try something more subtle.

You could go for the classic time capsule, hidden in the loft. Or write a letter to the new owners, welcoming them to the house and explaining what you loved about it. You could even sign your name somewhere and date it, perhaps on the ceiling inside a cupboard or on the rafters in the loft.


Hold a goodbye party
Celebrate your home and the life it has given you with a goodbye party. It doesn’t matter if you’ve already started to pack – your guests can happily negotiate a few boxes. String up some lights, play some music and enjoy the house with the family and friends you’ve shared it with over the years.

Toast your home
Raise a glass to your home, perhaps during your goodbye party or simply with your family. Moving is stressful and busy, but it’s important to pause, look around and say, ‘Cheers!’

How to Settle into Your New Home

Clean up
When you arrive in a new home, nothing looks, feels or even smells the same way, which can feel very unsettling. So start by cleaning surfaces, floors and inside cupboards with some familiar, fresh-scented products to help make the place feel like yours.

Browse these ecofriendly cleaning tips


Get fresh
Fling open the windows on the first day, too, to air the rooms and freshen up the whole house. In the evening, light a few scented candles.


Grab a few goodies
Piles of packing boxes and empty rooms do not help a house feel like a home, so treat you and your new place to a few goodies that will make it feel special. Arrange some fresh flowers, simply bought at the garage on the way to the house or picked from the garden, or buy some quality hand soap or a few new towels. When you are facing days of unpacking chaos, these little touches can really cheer you up.


Don’t forget the pets!
Dogs and cats may also take a while to settle into a new home, so try to ease the transition for them, too. When you arrive at your new home, shut the cat in a single room for safety, with water, a litter tray and her bed.

You can let your cat out at the end of the day to explore, but confine her to a few rooms so she doesn’t feel overwhelmed. Cats should be kept in the house for a week or so to prevent them trying to return to your old home.

Discover more beautifully designed kitchens


Do right by your dog
Dogs should be introduced to the house by you. Keep them on a lead and take them around the key rooms, one at a time, allowing them to sniff and explore, but under your supervision. You wouldn’t expect guests to run all over the house, upstairs and down, the moment they arrived, so don’t let your dog.

Point out where his bed is and even keep upper floors out of bounds at first, so he doesn’t feel overwhelmed by his new territory.


Personalise the place
Paint a wall, hang up photos or order some new blinds. Even if the rest of the redecorating will take months, a few small tweaks can really help you start to stamp your personality on your new home.

Find lots of wonderful home products on Houzz

Host a house-warming
Sharing your new home with family and friends can help you to bond with it, so host a party – no gifts required. You might like to invite new neighbours, too, as a good chance to get to know them, or simply keep it small and intimate.