Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Weekend

Bright and Beautiful

by Gabrielle Fagan

When it comes to transforming homes for the summer, small tweaks can make a big difference. Gabrielle Fagan reveals some expert advice that will create a big impression.

Door Dazzle

A fresh lick of paint on your front door and windows won't just transform your home's exterior, but could increase its value by up to 25 per cent, according to a survey by Dulux Weathershield.

"Fixing up any peeling or cracking paint and cleaning windows creates instant 'kerb appeal', and sends a positive message that you're house-proud inside and out, crucial if you're trying to sell," advises Dulux Weathershield colour expert Louise Tod.

"We found people expect to pay 23 per cent more for a freshly-painted home and 47 per cent of prospective buyers named a front door in need of renovation as the most off-putting sign when viewing, and not far behind that, weathered window sills."

  • Dulux Weathershield Smooth Masonry Paint, from £14.29 for 2.5L; Dulux Weathershield Exterior Quick Dry Satin, £13.49 (

Make an Entrance

So often filled with clutter and overflow, it's easy for hallways to give a less-than-best impression.

"If you're looking to update the look of your home, the hallway is one area where simple changes can have a big impact. Avoid anything other than the essentials in this area, and ideally opt for furniture which doubles as storage, or a narrow console table," says Richard Burbidge, whose company specialises in stairways, stair parts and mouldings (

"If you're replacing the stairs - which can make a major impact with minimum disruption - select the most appropriate style for your property, and in a dark hallway consider glass panels and a slim balustrade to create the illusion of light."

  • Berkeley White Storage Bench with three drawers, £199.95 (available June;

Fresh Focus

Banish a dull view and boost privacy by screening glass with window film, which comes in a range of coloured, cut and printed patterns.

"The beauty of the range of patterns available means there's something suitable for every taste and every room. It prevents nosy neighbours peering in and blocks out unsightly views. Film is easy to apply, there are online demonstrations, and once applied it needs no specific aftercare and can be cleaned using simple household cleaning products," says Micky Calcott, managing director at The Window Film Company.

  • Frostbite Frosted Film with patterns, including flowers and foliage, starts from £30 (


"Injecting individual personality into a room is easily done by painting a piece of furniture in a fashionable neon shade, which instantly makes it a statement," says Homebase paint buyer Heather Taylor.

"There's a real trend for upcycling and giving pieces a new lease of life, and we've seen craft paint sales rise by 78 per cent."

  • Choose punchy shades like hot pink and lime green Rust-Oleum Spray Paint, £14.99 a can (
  • Up the impact by accessorising in the same shade. Shocking pink flamingos fly across the horizon on a Breaking Dawn Silk Cushion by Anna Jacobs, £75 (

Cupboard Update

Displays in glass-fronted dressers are always attractive, and will be even more striking if the cupboard's interior is wallpapered or painted.

"Paint the back of the cupboard in a rich, deep shade and then use ends of rolls of wallpaper to line shelves. Pretty floral papers will contrast well with plain china," says Melanie Adams, founder and buyer at Wallpaper Direct.

  • A floral trail of roses decorates Un Bisou Wallpaper by Eijffinger, £53.55 a roll, which comes in a variety of colourways (

Handle it Right

Decor details count, and new handles, light pulls, furnishing trims and edging are all affordable ways to transform a look.

"Fixtures and fittings really make or break an interior project, and attention to detail is key," says celebrity property expert Sarah Beeny, who's created a new handle collection with furniture fitting specialists, Hafele UK.

"I've really enjoyed creating a wide range for the collection, particularly the 'period' range, using brushed chrome, copper and stainless steel with timeless designs. One of my favourites is the Blake Card Frame Cup Handle, which is brilliant for helping organise a chest of drawers, as each one can hold a individual card detailing contents."

  • Blake Card Frame Cup Handle, £40 ( - available to buy through Amazon).
  • For a luxury touch, consider the Sensation collection of glass door handles, which look as though they've been filled with molten metal. Cabinet knobs from £150; doorknobs from £295 (

Roll up Roll up!

"Window coverings featuring bold graphic designs in bright colours deliver an instant style update for summer living spaces," says Mike Stephen, head of product development at Apollo Blinds. "The current trend is to mix lots of bright vibrant colours together, rather than having just one colour per room.

"We also have blackout blinds, which are especially useful for summer when dawn breaks early, and a range of blinds with ASC - advanced solar control - to maintain their colour and offer heat reflection when the sun's shining."

  • Made-to-measure blinds start from £66 (

Blue Boost

Blues are the nation's favourite mood-boosting hues, and even a couple of blue accessories could lift a room.

"Blue symbolises loyalty, trust and control. Those who choose blue are considered confident and dependable - no wonder it's most people's favourite colour," says Alwyn Human, colour specialist for fitted furniture company Betta Living.

"There are many variants, from pale baby blue to strong electric and royal blues. But overall, blue is a calming, serene colour that evokes a tranquil atmosphere and works best in bathrooms, studies and bedrooms. It's also great for small rooms. Use similar tones on the walls, mouldings and floor to merge the boundaries of the room, which creates the illusion of space."

  • Guarantee a sunny outlook in a dining area with chairs decorated in a sky design. Clouds Bentwood Chair, £175 ( Emma Bridgewater's Blue Skies Set of two Small Fluted Bowls, £24.95, would match the mood (
  • Vibrant blue and green humming birds decorate a stunning Sipping Nectar Lampshade by Anna Jacobs, £70 (

Flower Power

Bringing the outdoors in with floral designs will add colour and interest and evoke a sense of hazy, summer days.

"Before choosing a pattern for wallpaper or fabric, get a generous-sized sample so you can view it from different perspectives in a room," advises designer Nina Campbell. "Partner wallpaper with walls painted in a toning shade, which will complement a design and visually extend the effect, making a room feel bigger."

  • Murrayfield Chair, upholstered in Osborne & Little Butterfly Gardens fabric, £1,439 (


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