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How to spruce up a staircase and add value to your home

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how to spruce up a staircase and add value to your home

We hear a lot about creating spaces: the family snug, the open-plan kitchen, the home office, the gallery walls of a cloakroom.

But, when it comes to makeovers, the staircase often seems to be neglected.

However, the functional spine of the home is finally being used to make bold design statements in everything from traditional Victorian terraces to ambitious new-builds.

Upstairs, downstairs: A carpet runner by Sophie Cooney which adds a splash of fun to a home

Upstairs, downstairs: A carpet runner by Sophie Cooney which adds a splash of fun to a home

Upstairs, downstairs: A carpet runner by Sophie Cooney which adds a splash of fun to a home

In one way or another, the staircase has always played a substantial role. In films, characters make dramatic arrivals down sweeping structures and no TV costume drama is complete without a grand cantilever staircase, with portraits hanging above it.

What’s more, staircases are vital in revealing something about the house, its history, its inhabitants.

‘Staircases often are the first item of joinery that you encounter,’ says Rajeev Fernando, who runs Ebonisto, an online joinery shop.

‘And a well-considered staircase becomes a point of focus that enhances the character of the building as well as adding to its overall monetary value.

‘It’s a feature you would expect to last decades if not centuries, meaning it is a tangible legacy of the stair builder as well as the person who commissions the design.’

Whether you’re going for open treads with glass balustrades, steps painted in different shades or a white-rendered sculptural masterpiece, the staircase provides the perfect canvas on which to express personality.

Brilliant banisters

The banister is an easy place to start. To achieve the ultimate minimalist effect, removing and replacing it with a glass wall allows a de-cluttered and fuss-free staircase.

For a high-end look, EeStairs, a bespoke staircase company, uses laminated toughened glass in many of its designs, including a stainless steel and glass circular staircase created for a private home for £55,000, although more simple models start from £30,000.

But smaller, inexpensive items can also work well: imagine antique walking sticks taking the place of spindles, or even old Victorian iron railings, given a new lease of life with paint and care.

Paint adds drama

‘It has become incredibly popular to paint staircases in bolder colours,’ says Joa Studholme, colour curator at Farrow & Ball. ‘It creates instant drama in the hall and a grounding backbone through the centre of the house.’

Colour is an easy tool to effect change in something. A staircase might feature rainbow-coloured risers, or it might carry off a dramatic ebony shade, helping it to set the tone of a house.

Fun runner

For carpet purists, there is still some fun to be had if opting for something individual. Sophie Cooney is behind a collection of striking New Zealand wool carpet runners.

‘My designs are very different to the traditional runners in that they are not linear lines,’ says Cooney, who began her business after she started looking for a runner for her own home.

‘They are a blend of traditional and contemporary kilim-style motifs with plenty of colour.

‘I believe a runner can be the foundation of a beautiful entrance, and the entrance is the starting point to a beautiful home. For my own house, I wanted a runner that would bring life and soul to our hallway.

‘After struggling to find what I was after I decided to design a collection based on a more contemporary kilim style.’

For a bold, block colour runner, Roger Oates’ Hadley range comes in fruity mandarin, plum and bright pink, and costs £88.50/m.

Open treads

Open-tread staircases, which have gaps between each step, look stylish and allow light and air to flow through the stairs.

For safety reasons, the gap between each tread must be no more than 100 mm, known as the ‘baby’s head rule’.

Open treads look particularly chic with glass balustrades. Stairbox provides open-tread oak staircases from £880 and glass balustrades from £125.

What your home really needs is… bamboo lighting  

By Anne Ashworth 

A piece that evokes the sights and colours of a holiday destination is this summer’s unexpected design trend. 

A patterned Moroccan lantern conjures up an evening under the stars in the courtyard of a Marrakesh riad.

The bamboo light shade is a prime example of vacation decor. It makes you think of baskets of fruit in a Provencal market or wicker chairs on a Marbella villa terrace.

The Heal’s vacation vogue lampshade is the Urchin, £148.

The Heal’s vacation vogue lampshade is the Urchin, £148.

The Heal’s vacation vogue lampshade is the Urchin, £148.

Your home needs a bamboo light shade because it will prolong the spirit of your holiday, or add a note of faraway if you are staying at home. 

The versions on offer include Ikea’s Sinnerlig (£40) and Dunelm’s Ohio (£35), which looks more Far East than American Mid-West. 

Maisons du Monde has a wide selection from £55.

The Heal’s vacation vogue lampshade is the Urchin (pictured, £148), made of strips of wood in the shape of a sea urchin shell. 

Splash out on this lampshade and you will feel as though you are walking on a beach, however far you are from the sea and sand.

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Empty plot of land overlooking Poole Harbour on sale for £3.5m

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empty plot of land overlooking poole harbour on sale for 3 5m

A wealthy buyer has purchased a 30ft strip of grass with a view of the exclusive resort of Sandbanks for an astonishing £3.5million. 

The empty plot of land with overgrown grass and uneven concrete runs down to the edge of Poole Harbour in Dorset.

It has one of the finest views of the Millionaire’s Row – where mansion homes sell for up to £10million. It also has a slipway for launching boats straight onto the water.

The new owner who paid the full asking price for the plot will have to obtain planning permission before they can build their own luxury pad. It is thought the build cost would be in excess of £1million.

The empty plot of land with overgrown grass and uneven concrete, pictured, sits behind two houses and has one of the finest views of the Millionaire's Row in Sandbanks, Dorset

The empty plot of land with overgrown grass and uneven concrete, pictured, sits behind two houses and has one of the finest views of the Millionaire’s Row in Sandbanks, Dorset

An aerial view of the empty plot of land, highlighted, which sold for £3.5m after the new owner paid the full asking price for the area which has a slipway for launching boats into the water

An aerial view of the empty plot of land, highlighted, which sold for £3.5m after the new owner paid the full asking price for the area which has a slipway for launching boats into the water

The mind-boggling figures are par for the course for the Sandbanks area, which is the fourth most expensive place in the world to buy property – behind London, Manhattan and Tokyo.

And although this half-an-acre plot is about a mile from the exclusive peninsula, seafront properties around the harbour remain in huge demand.

It is thought the ongoing uncertainty of Brexit and coronavirus is leading to people looking to buy holiday homes here than abroad.

London-based buyers are also now said to be casting their net further from the capital as the Covid-19 pandemic has shown they can work from home.

Tom Doyle, of Sandbanks estate agents Lloyds Property Group, which sold the plot, said: ‘To anybody outside the area it might seem madness to pay £3.5m for a vacant plot of land.

‘But people pay a premium for water frontage property and houses on that road sell for between £6-£7m. It does attract high net-worth individuals.

‘It is a very vibrant market at the moment. Why is that? A lot of people are thinking seriously about not having a second home abroad and focussing on securing something exciting in the UK.

‘Working and living away from London is also a factor. The mindset seems to be to go into the city one day a week and then work from home for the rest of it.’

An aerial view of Sandbanks with the plot of land towards the top left, in the distance. It comes as London-based buyers are now said to be casting their net further from the capital

An aerial view of Sandbanks with the plot of land towards the top left, in the distance. It comes as London-based buyers are now said to be casting their net further from the capital

He added: ‘The new owner is going to build a house there himself to live in.. He will not be putting it back up for sale when it is complete. He already lives locally but he wants a house on the water which is what this will be.’

The plot is on Dorset Lake Avenue and faces south west.

On its website, Lloyds Property Group states that it is ‘prime waterfront location’ on the ‘gateway to Sandbanks’.

Prices in the area have soared, with prospective buyers even able to get more for their money in the exclusive London neighbourhood of Mayfair. 

Sandbanks’ popularity is attributed to its seclusion, and every home in the community is within just a few minutes’ walk of the beach, with most of them enjoying stunning views over the harbour or out to the English Channel.

An aerial view of Poole Harbour and the plot of land, pictured far right. The area is the fourth most expensive place in the world to buy property - behind London, Manhattan and Tokyo

An aerial view of Poole Harbour and the plot of land, pictured far right. The area is the fourth most expensive place in the world to buy property – behind London, Manhattan and Tokyo

Houses were first built on Sandbanks in the late 19th century, but it was not until the 1960s when a property boom saw the peninsula – measuring less than half a square mile – become more and more built-up, turning into a Millionaires’ Row filled with luxury beachfront mansions.

The property market on the peninsula has shot through the roof in recent years, with many houses being demolished and replaced with cutting-edge new properties to meet demand.

In July 2009 a 14,990 sq ft (1,393-square-metre) empty plot of land on the peninsula was put up for sale for £13.5million – the equivalent of nearly £10,000 per square metre.

In May 2014, a bungalow bought for just £1,000 almost a century ago (around £40,000 in today’s money) and now a luxury holiday home was reported to be now worth £5million – a 500,000 percent increase in value.

Earlier in 2014 a tatty 1950s three-bedroom Sandbanks bungalow which would be worth just £200,000 in most other parts of the country went on sale for an eye-watering £2.25million.

In 2013, 15 homes were sold for a combined total of £80million as Sandbanks’ reputation has continued to grow. 

Millionaire’s Row: An exclusive stretch of real estate home to Harry Redknapp and Russian millionaire Maxim Demin that was once named the most expensive in the world

The Sandbanks peninsula in Dorset has become a millionaire’s playground in recent years, and continues to keep even the likes of Miami and Monte Carlo off the top of a list of ultimate waterfront destinations.

An 850ft stretch of road in one the UK’s most exclusive enclaves contains just 13 harbourside mansions that total a staggering £93million in value. 

The narrow plots measuring between 40ft and 60ft wide on Panorama Road previously made it the most expensive piece of coastline in the world in terms of price per square foot. 

Maxim Demin, the Russian millionaire owner of Premier League club AFC Bournemouth, lives in the luxurious area.

Former Tottenham manager and 2019 I’m a Celebrity winner Harry Redknapp also lives around the corner.

The 13 properties in Sandbanks which together are worth some £93m

The 13 properties in Sandbanks which together are worth some £93m

The mansions on the peninsula in Poole Harbour, Dorset, offer unrivalled views over the world’s second biggest natural harbour. 

There is almost total privacy at the front of the properties while back gardens run down to the water’s edge.

Such is the ‘super-prime level’ of the Sandbanks market, two ultra-modern properties with indoor swimming pools were once snapped up in quick succession for a combined £15.6m.

One, a sprawling state-of-the-art mansion, sold for more than £8m, while the other sold for £7.5m before the sales brochure had come out.

Adrian Dunford, of Sandbanks estate agents Tailor Made, said in 2018: ‘We now believe this part of Sandbanks is the most expensive stretch of coastline on the planet in terms of price-per-square foot. 

‘The multi-million pound mansions in Miami and Monte Carlo will be on much bigger plots of land than you get on Sandbanks.

‘The thing about Sandbanks is that it is a peninsula and so we are hemmed in. You can’t increase the number of properties and so supply and demand dictate the prices.

‘That row of properties is located in the most enviable part of Sandbanks. The houses have direct water access and also overlook the busiest part of the harbour.

‘The south westerly aspect allows for sensational views to Old Harry Rocks, Poole Harbour, Brownsea Island and the Purbeck Hills.

‘Sometimes with the bigger, headline-priced properties you need two summers to sell them.

‘So to have two at the very top end of the market go as quickly as they have says an awful lot about the state of the local market.

‘The properties were bought by London-based buyers and that maybe a reflection of what is happening with the Brexit.’

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The changing face of Sandbanks: How windswept wasteland cut off from the rest of the country became one of the world’s most sought-after addresses

Before the rich and famous moved in: Parkstone-on-Sea as it was then known, went from a deserted landscape to Britain's answer to Monte Carlo

Before the rich and famous moved in: Parkstone-on-Sea as it was then known, went from a deserted landscape to Britain’s answer to Monte Carlo

Just 100 years ago, before it became one of the world’s most exclusive and expensive addresses, the Sandbanks peninsula in Dorset was little more than a windswept wasteland, cut off from the rest of the country and unrecognisable from the glossy coastal resort that exists today.

And while the mega-rich now compete to build bigger and better harbour-front homes, snapping up plots whenever they become available, in 1880 the tiny enclave in Poole was only home to a solitary hotel on the southern tip of the peninsula, where guests could get away from the rest of civilisation.

Sandbanks, or Parkstone-on-Sea as it was known, has gone from a deserted landscape to Britain’s answer to Monte Carlo.

A proper roadway linking the peninsula to the mainland was only laid after the First World War at a time when many former servicemen returned from battle only to find themselves out of work.

The highway made Sandbanks more accessible and it naturally started to become popular among holidaymakers and daytrippers.

Larger houses started to be built on the previously unspoiled land, with a wealthy banker and father-of-eight, Dr Edward Andreae, becoming Sandbanks’ first property magnate by building eight homes on the peninsula – one for each of his children.

Descendents of the family still own one of the properties built by Dr Andreae, who was of German descent.

Another wealthy type who built and owned a principal residence was Lord Leonard Lyle MP, the chairman of sugar giant Tate and Lyle.

The sand dunes in the middle of the peninsula once stood at up to 100ft high but they were gradually flattened as bigger, permanent houses were built in the years between the two world wars.

However, the area’s progress was halted by the Second World War when it became a fortified military base and it took until the 1960s for development on the peninsula to really take off.

The remaining empty plots along the waterside were snapped up by buyers, and some of the older properties were demolished and built on.

Although Sandbanks was a very prosperous place, it remained relatively affordable to locals with flats selling for less than £100,000 in the 1980s.

But some canny marketing in the 1990s by local estate agents put Sandbanks on the world map and transformed it overnight from a picturesque coastal suburb to Poole to something of a millionaire’s row.

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Liz Truss urges US to lift trade tariffs on single malt spirits

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Ms Truss welcomed an announcement by US trade representative Robert Lighthizer (pictured together in June) that Washington would not go ahead with a threatened extension of the tariff regime that would have affected gin and blended whisky

Ms Truss welcomed an announcement by US trade representative Robert Lighthizer (pictured together in June) that Washington would not go ahead with a threatened extension of the tariff regime that would have affected gin and blended whisky

Liz Truss has urged the US to lift punitive tariffs on top-class British whisky after it eased duties on a swathe of products imposted in a trade war with the EU.

The international Trade Secretary welcomed an announcement by US trade representative Robert Lighthizer that Washington would not go ahead with a threatened extension of the tariff regime that would have affected gin and blended whisky.

And in a ‘modest’ easing of the tariffs, Mr Lighthizer said products such as shortbread would now be exempted as the two sides continue to seek a resolution to a dispute centred on planemaker Airbus.

But duties on top-quality single malt whiskies – which are made from a single batch of malted barley – remain in place at 25 per cent. 

Karen Betts, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, blasted UK ministers for being slow to act. 

Ms Truss – who met Mr Lighthizer last week in Washington – said she would now be urging the Americans to go further to end the economic damage the levies were causing to both sides.

‘I am pleased that the US has not applied these additional tariffs, and welcome the decision to lift tariffs on shortbread,’ she said in a statement.

‘However, the announcement does not address tariffs that already exist on goods like single malt Scotch whisky.

But duties on top-quality single malt whiskies - which are made from a single batch of malted barley - remain in place

But duties on top-quality single malt whiskies – which are made from a single batch of malted barley – remain in place

In a 'modest' easing of the tariffs, Mr Lighthizer said products such as shortbread would now be exempted as the two sides continue to seek a resolution to a dispute centred on planemaker Airbus

In a ‘modest’ easing of the tariffs, Mr Lighthizer said products such as shortbread would now be exempted as the two sides continue to seek a resolution to a dispute centred on planemaker Airbus

‘These tariffs damage industry and livelihoods on both sides of the Atlantic and are in nobody’s interests. I am therefore stepping up talks with the US to remove them as soon as possible.’

Mr Lighthizer, however, warned that the EU still had not done enough for the US to consider any further easing of the tariffs, which cover 7.5 billion dollars (£5.75 billion) worth of European and UK products.

‘The EU and member states have not taken the actions necessary to come into compliance with (World Trade Organisation) decisions,’ he said.

‘The United States, however, is committed to obtaining a long-term resolution to this dispute.

‘Accordingly, the United States will begin a new process with the EU in an effort to reach an agreement that will remedy the conduct that harmed the US aviation industry and workers and will ensure a level playing field for US companies.’

Ms Betts said the latest development was ‘deeply disappointing’, adding: ‘The tariff is inflicting huge damage on the Scotch Whisky sector, with exports to the US down 30 per cent since the tariff came into effect and the industry grappling with losses now totalling around £300 million. 

‘These losses relate only to tariffs – the impact of Covid-19 has been serious and has compounded what is now a very serious situation for Scotch Whisky, with some brands forced out of the market and jobs in the industry and our supply chain now at risk.

‘The UK government must accelerate negotiations to bring an end to tariffs between the UK and US before preparations for November’s Presidential election bring talks to a halt.

‘It has taken the UK government a full six months after the UK left the EU to start to tackle tariffs directly with the US government, which seems to us inexplicably slow.’

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People share funny comments they’ve overheard from neighbours

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people share funny comments theyve overheard from neighbours

People have revealed the very funny conversations they’ve overheard from their neighbour’s gardens.

Taking to Mumsnet, an anonymous person, believed to be from the UK, shared the relatively ‘mundane’ exchanges she has overheard from next door – including ‘bad-tempered work calls,’ and a sister who was adamant her youngest sibling was building a shelter ‘all wrong.’ 

She then went on to ask people for any amusing revelations they have heard since spending more time in their gardens amid the lockdown and UK heatwave.  

Taking to the comments section, one person penned: ‘We heard a young boy yell “I don’t want to die like this!” in an anguished voice. Turns out it was the neighbour’s son playing Fortnite with his bedroom window open…’ 

An anonymous woman, from the UK, has taken to Mumsnet to ask forum users to share the funny conversations they've overheard in their gardens. Pictured, stock image

An anonymous woman, from the UK, has taken to Mumsnet to ask forum users to share the funny conversations they’ve overheard in their gardens. Pictured, stock image

A second recalled: ‘Heard neighbour dad telling his 20 year old DC that it wasn’t a good idea to invite random guys back for the night. 

‘DC responded with “it wasn’t a random guy, we met on Tinder.”‘ I had to go inside at that point.’

And many of the comments proved that kids really do say the funniest things – with youngsters being the talking point of several of the responses.

One person told how fifteen years on, she still laughs when she remembers hearing her neighbour say: ‘Timothy don’t put the hosepipe down your sister’s nappy.’   

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Taking to the comments section, one person overheard a parent warning her child not to put the kitten in the oven (pictured)

Taking to the comments section, one person overheard a parent warning her child not to put the kitten in the oven (pictured)

Another told how her teenage neighbour was having a row with her mother when her mum erupted with: “I breastfed you and your brother for the same amount of time. There was no favouritism.”‘

Elsewhere, one person revealed how she had to endure her neighbour’s violin lessons in the garden amid the summer holidays. 

She recalled the parent saying: ‘That was lovely darling; would you like to play it in tune now?’ following an excruciatingly out of tune violin scale – and yes violin practice took place in the garden every day that summer. 

‘DH ended up tuning said violin in despair but it didn’t really improve matters much.’

Meanwhile, a further was amused by next door’s revelation when he was sawing something outside.

She explained: ‘Guy next door was sawing something and suddenly exclaimed ‘That’s why it’s called sawdust! Because it’s the dust from when you saw!’ He’s a teacher …

Other random overheard exchanges includes: ‘no you can’t put the pigs on the trampoline, it’s too hot’ and ‘No! Don’t put the kitten in the oven!’

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