My top lighting tips

Last month I went over to Paris for the design show Maison et Objet. I was invited by Hudson Valley Lighting Group, who you may not have heard of as they are a very large lighting company in America and just making their way over to Europe (and thank goodness, to be honest, as America has always had better lighting available than here in the UK in my opinion. They had a fab showroom at Maison where I could see their amazing lights in person and I came away with a long list of favourites and I still can’t get the thought of how beautiful these vintage brass wall lights would look in my alcoves! Hudson Valley Lighting Group have four collections of lights: Troy Lighting, Mitzi, Corbett Lighting and Hudson Valley Lighting. Each collection offers something different whether it be Corbett’s statement lights, Troy’s industrial vibe or the simplicity of Mitzi’s designs, which is also the most affordable collection. I featured some of the lights in my instagram stories and I ended up getting quite a few messages from people with lighting quandaries so I thought a blog post with some tips would be useful as lighting is without a doubt the most important thing to get right in a room. Hope these tips are helpful and enjoy taking a look at the beautiful lights from Hudson Valley.

1. Never ever use overhead lights in isolation

This is my number one rule and one that can never be broken!!! I really don’t think that there are ever any exceptions to this rule. A ceiling pendant or chandelier is very important (and can be very beautiful) but if used alone the overall lighting in the room will be uneven, gloomy and very unwelcoming. If all the light in a room is coming from above unpleasant shadows will be cast and pockets of the room will have no light at all. You can have the most beautifully furnished room in all the land but with only an overhead light it will be a very ugly place in which to spend time. A funny truth is that I got so sick and tired of arriving home in the evenings when Jules worked from home to all the over head lights on that I went to the extent of removing the bulbs altogether! Can you tell I feel quite strongly about this?!

The Mia lamp from the Mitzi collection.

2. Layer lighting

The solution to the above problem is to layer the lighting in each room. Try to build up a variety of light sources, which will create a lovely even light; where one light source casts shadows, another will illuminate them. Layered lighting will also make a room more flexible as you can choose which lights to use according to your mood or your activity. 

Layering a Silhouette pendant with wall sconces will help to create an even light. Photograph from Hella Design Studio.

3. Use floor and wall lamps if lacking table tops

Table lamps are a great way to add light around the edge of a room, where ceiling. pendants don’t reach. If you are lacking table tops for lamps – which aren’t in abundance in smaller rooms – use the floor and wall space with floor and wall lamps. Floor lamps take up much less space than a table with a lamp on it and they can fit into surprisingly small spaces or corners. Wall lamps, whether wired in or not, are brilliant for small spaces and can be very adaptable as they can double as task lighting if you choose one on an arm.

4. Choose a statement ceiling pendant

A well chosen ceiling pendant draws the eye up, which has the effect of opening up the space and making a room feel bigger. It can also be a lovely focal point for a room. Be aware of the height of the ceiling when choosing a ceiling light as you don’t ever want it to hang too low to the point that people have to dodge it! A mirror opposite a ceiling light is always a good idea as this will reflect the light and bounce it around the room.

A beautiful striking Roundout pendant draws the eye up and creates an amazing focal point for this bathroom that is mirrored by the centrally placed bath. Photographed by Rachel Cannon.

5. Think about what type of light you are trying achieve when selecting a shade

When you are choosing any type of light you have to have a clear idea of the type of light you want to create. This is particularly important where selecting light shades. It is most definitely not just about what looks best. Light coloured shades will allow light to travel out of them into the whole room, whereas dark coloured shades will filter the light out of the top and bottom of the light and create a moodier vibe. Glass light shades and exposed bulbs create a more even much brighter light depending on the type of bulb you choose. Rattan shades or cut paper ones will cast patterns on to your walls and ceiling. Think carefully what type of light you actually want rather than what light you like the look of most.

This gorgeous Balboa shade will cast amazing subtle patterns on the wall and ceiling so you need to think carefully about what type of light you want/need in a space when selecting shades.

6. Consider shadows

When choosing the position of lighting think about the shadows that will be cast. If you are choosing lights for the kitchen, for example, you don’t want pendants hanging over a kitchen counter that you are going to stand beneath and block all the light onto the very surface on which you are trying to illuminate. The same goes for lighting in the bathroom; if you have space put two wall lights either side of a bathroom mirror as these will light your face evenly rather than a light over the top of the mirror, which will cast shadows onto your face.

These Cora wall sconces are perfectly placed either side of the bathroom mirror to illuminate a face directly and evenly rather than from above that would cast horrible shadows. Photographed by Sarah Dorsey.

7. Dimmer switches are your best friend

We were really lucky in our current house as we had the whole place rewired so we could put dimmer switches onto every light and we could also ensure that all the plugs that our lamps are plugged into can be turned on and off from the main switches on the wall. Dimmer switches are just so good as they allow you to completely change the mood of a room and make the space so much more flexible; one minute you need bright, bright lights for a task and the next you minute you want to relax on the sofa and all you have to do is dim the lights. This is particularly useful in an open plan living space.

Dimmer switches on all lights in your home will be worth while so you can make each space as flexible as possible. Dimming the work top lights in an ‘eat-in’ kitchen when you’ve finished cooking will make the dining experience so much nicer. I love this Metal No.1 pendant. Photographed by Lindsay Salazar.

8. Think of lights as pieces of furniture

This sounds quite quite obvious but often it is something overlooked that you should select lights as you would a piece of furniture: they need to tie in with the overall scheme of a room. Think about the colour, finish, style, size just as you would a new chair or soft furnishings. A light should add something extra to the scheme of a room not takeaway from it.

This Estee pendant highlights and pulls together all of the other brass elements in this room to make it feel beautifully curated. Photographed by Brit Arnesen.

Do let me know if you have any other lighting questions as it really can be difficult to get right. Also, let me know which Hudson Valley Lighting Group light you liked best!

Katy x

*This blog post is part of a paid collaboration with Hudson Valley Lighting Group.

Buying my first house – what I wish I had known

*This is a paid collaboration with Local Heroes

When I left university I moved straight into a rental flat with friends in Brixton where I lived for three very fun years. However, as flatmates moved on, I decided that I wanted to prioritise buying a property of my own; I was 25 at this point and a secondary school teacher. I had very few savings but one day I saw a poster on the tube advertising the shared ownership scheme as it was then and as I was a key worker I had a good chance of qualifying. I did lots of research and found a beautiful new build apartment block just down the road from Borough Market, which had a portion of shared ownership flats and to cut a long story short I bought a 35% share of a studio flat worth £195k with a very small deposit of about £3500. I asked my dad to come and look at the flat with me but as it was brand new we were thinking more about the location and whether the space was big enough rather than the ins and outs of whether the taps worked or how old the boiler was. I lived in that flat for three years and I LOVED it so much.

The first home that I owned. LOVED this studio flat in Borough so much. Not sure I’d go for a hot pink sofa these days though! I don’t really have any photos of the flat as it was pre-smart phones so this was from the sale brochure. I like that I can spot lots of things in this photo that are in our current house nearly fifteen years later.

Fast forward ten more years and I’ll be honest and say that buying our current house was incredibly stressful and that is why I am really pleased to be teaming up with Local Heroes today to share with you their First Time Home Buyer Guide. I had sold the studio flat and bought another new shared ownership flat that was a lot bigger and my partner Jules moved in a year after I bought it and we lived there for eight more years. When we sold it last year we finally had a deposit big enough to buy a house outright.

The second flat I bought was quite a bit bigger than my 35sqm studio and we lived here so happily for nearly ten years. It was Mimi’s arrival that pushed us to finding a new home. Photograph by Katharine Peachey.

I knew we were going to have to buy a house that needed work doing to it as that was what we could afford in the area we wanted to be in and that made the viewing and buying process COMPLETELY DIFFERENT to buying the two previous new build flats. There were so many things to consider, so many ways in which we could make mistakes and open ourselves up to what felt like a massive risk. The fact is buying a house is a really big deal and the whole way through the process it’s impossible to know who to listen to and who to trust: the estate agent would say anything to us to sell the house, the solicitor was appalling and gave so much bad advice (we eventually had to change our solicitor) and at the end of the day we had to rely on ourselves to do our own research and guide the purchase through.

Local Heroes, who match skilled and vetted local tradespeople to people who need jobs completed in their home, have compiled the ultimate first time buyers guide listing clearly with no jargon things to look out for, ask about or to test when buying a new home. I really, really wish I had been able to see this list before we bought our house as it would have given us so much peace of mind. In fact, my sister is currently buying a house very near us and I have been going on viewings with her and we used the list for the second viewing of the house she’s most interested in and it was brilliant – so many things neither of us had thought about!

When we first viewed our current house I will be honest and tell you we didn’t have much of an idea of what we should be looking out for or questions to ask.

These are some of the tips from the guide that I wish I had known before we bought our house and that have come in handy whilst house hunting with my sister:

  • Do a room inspection. Try to spend enough time in each room to see if there are any cold spots, especially rooms with two outside walls. It’s also worth asking about the insulation in loft rooms. If you need to insulate the roof or put in another radiator, make sure to budget for these.

We bought our house in the winter and the estate agent did the age old trick of blasting the heating before we arrived for the viewing (the house was vacant). I really wish we had spent more time in each room figuring out the cold spots because we definitely didn’t put in enough radiators downstairs or in the hallway, which has an external wall.

Our hallway is super cold in the winter and I wish we had more time figuring out the cold spots to help us figure out how many radiators we would need.
  • Take a look at the water tanks. Unless they have a combi boiler, there’ll be a hot water cylinder in a cupboard somewhere, and possibly a cold-water tank in the loft.

Err, I can’t quite emphasise enough how much I WISH we had thought to do before we bought our house! As it turned out there was a very full cold water tank in our loft that froze and split the tank during the very cold winter whilst the house was vacant. When the tank thawed, you guessed it, there was a very big leak! If only we’d known to look out for it we could have made sure that tank was empty.

  • Does the house have lead pipes? If it was built before the 1970s, the house you’re buying could have lead pipes. Check under the sink, they’re larger than copper pipes and dark in colour. You’ll probably want to replace any lead pipes with plastic or copper, especially the ones that supply drinking water.

This is something that would never have occurred to me and we actually found lead pipes under the sink in the house my sister is interested in, which was really helpful as it helped her budget for work that will need to be done.

  • Flush the toilet. Listen out for knocking noises from the pipes. There should be a good powerful flush, even with a tap running. Continuous filling is a common issue with toilets, wait an extra minute to make sure the refilling finishes properly.

I would never think of flushing the loo in a house I was viewing as I wouldn’t want anyone to think I had used it (lols!) but actually this makes so much sense. I remember in the studio flat I sold the pipes started making horrendous noises when I flushed the loo just before I sold it.

  • Check the plug and sockets aren’t damaged. Any blackening or scorch marks could be signs of over-heating. Check any cables and leads too, for melting on the plastic coating and signs of fraying. Don’t forget the light fitting hanging down from the ceiling.

This is a good tip that I used when viewing a house with my sister as I only really thought about turning on lights rather than checking the plug sockets themselves.

Take a look at the full First Time Home Buyer Guide for yourself as if you are in the process of buying a property at the moment it really will help the process from checking the plumbing, electrics and heating to the plastering and odd jobs that will need doing. These checks will either help you negotiate a price reduction on any offer you want to make or they will help inform your budget for work that you will need to do. And of course if you do need jobs done Local Heroes can match you to tradespeople, such as plumbers, who have been vetted and they are backed by British Gas. Happily for us our house purchase went through and our renovations were very successful so we now have a lovely house that we love but if you had told me that a year ago I would’t have believed you!

Our house sale went through in the end and our renovations were very successful so that we now have a house that we love.
Our hallway is a little less depressing now 😉

I really do hope this helps if you are in the potentially tortuous process of buying property. Would love to hear your experience if you think it may help others going through the process at the moment.

Katy x

A neutral bedroom with lots of natural textures

As I showed you this week I’m getting very close to finishing our bedroom. There are still a few finishing touches that I want: a lamp with any one of these lampshades (a birthday gift, I hope!) to go on the chest of drawers as this lamp really lives on the landing, a full length mirror to go on the left hand wall as you walk into the room, maybe some extra storage on that wall and I’d like to frame some family photographs for this room. Ultimately we want built-in wardrobes in the alcoves but that is way down on our list of priorities as we are now focusing our time and money on the outside of the house. Also, if we extend into the loft any time soon we would make that our bedroom and therefore wouldn’t necessarily need built in wardrobes in here. We shall see.

My ottoman bed from Button & Sprung provides invaluable storage in this room. The beautiful linen colour works perfectly with this Natural Stone Washed linen from LinenMe. I also love the very subtle pink cotton bedlinen set from Bedfolk.

Anyhoo, I thought it would be nice to show you the room in its almost finished state as I know a few of you have been following along on Instagram with the change of wall colour drama so I’m pleased to say I feel really happy with how it looks and feels now. You can see how it used to look here and just a few words as to why I changed the wall colour as I get asked about it A LOT! I originally had this room painted Light Blue by Farrow & Ball, which is the colour I have used on all the woodwork in the other rooms (except the bathroom and hallway). I absolutely adore the colour in the others rooms but in our bedroom, which is small and north west facing, as winter approached it just made the room feel darker and more drab by the day and the furniture I had in here didn’t look right with the colour either. When the sun hit the room in the late afternoon the colour looked quite green, which was lovely, but didn’t make up for the rest of the day. Therefore, I made the decision to change the wall colour to School House White by Farrow & Ball, which is a great neutral; neither too cold nor too warm. It works perfectly with my linen bed (you can see more about my ottoman storage bed from Button & Sprung in this post), the old pine drawers and the new chair as well as allowing the fireplace to stand out.

I have actually changed the pendants in here to these bone china ones from Original BTC. I have these lights throughout the house because they emit such a beautiful soft and even light and I love the natural flex that works so well in here.

I hope to have a new lamp that will be a bit more of a statement on these drawers. I think something larger with a bit more colour and pattern will work well. I also want to reframe this portrait using a black frame to add a bit more contrast.

I spoke a lot on my Instagram about finding it difficult to choose bedside tables and I’m pretty happy with these oak ones from La Redoute (although quite wobbly legs and the price has gone up!). They are very practical with a drawers and the cane shelf and I like how simple they are.

As soon as I’d changed the wall colour everything just fell into place. I was able to commit to other decisions that I’d been struggling with such as curtains, bedside tables, bedlinen, a rug and art work. I have chosen to blend lots of neutrals with natural materials to create a very calm and soft vibe with lots of texture. There are a few dashes of muted pink and cinnamon in the cushions and art work and a bit of contrast with black accents like the curtain pole, fireplace and I’m going to reframe one of my pictures with a black frame as black really helps to ground the whole scheme.

I love the addition of my New Lark Tub chair that I wrote about yesterday. The framed piece of vintage wallpaper ties in perfectly with the colours in the room.

The frame above the bed is from an old painting that used to hang in my parents’ bedroom. It works perfectly in here to add a bit of ‘old’.

The different textures of the linen on the bed and the curtains combined with the jute rug, the plants, the cane on the bedside tables, the ceramic pendants and all the wood around the room add interest even though the colours are so muted. They stop the room feeling ‘flat’.

I can not tell you how much I love these cushions that I bought from By Molle. They are very expensive but worth every penny in this case as they totally brought the colour scheme in this room together. I chose the cinnamon and pink salt cushions.

I’m still debating as to whether I will paint the woodwork and door in Shadow White to replace the brilliant white.

This jute rug has been a great addition (even if it does look like a placemat!) as I love the texture and softness it brings to the room. I did find this much cheaper version but went for this one as it is so much thicker and so soft under foot so I hope it will last longer.

It sounds really silly but this room has been weighing heavy on my mind as I had this weird block of just not being able to ‘get it right’ and I’ve never really experienced that with a room before as I always have quite a clear vision of what I want. My advice if you’re experiencing the same issue is to not rush into buying anything until you are sure it’s right. I held off for a long time before committing to anything for this room and I’m so glad about it as otherwise I could have wasted so much money. I hope you like the way it looks now and I’ll be sure to keep you updated on any additions (Jules, if you’re reading this you’re going to buy me that lamp, yes?!).

Katy x

Source list:

Fireplace – eBay

Round mirror 50cm – Royal Design

Ottoman storage bed – Button & Sprung (gifted)

Cushions – By Molle

Natural stone washed bed linen – LinenMe (gifted)

Rose cotton bed linen – Bedfolk (gifted)

Jute rug – Modern Rugs

Chair – DFS (as part of a paid collaboration)

Bedside tables – Laredoute

Curtains and pole – IKEA

Chest of drawers – eBay

Hector pendant lights – Original BTC (gifted)

Paint – School House White Farrow & Ball

Creating a tranquil bedroom

*This is paid collaboration with DFS

Someone left a comment on my recent house tour for the US site Apartment Therapy saying that my house wasn’t dramatic or bold or avant-garde enough. They wanted to see darker colours, brighter colours and more statement pieces. But the thing is, that’s just not me and I definitely won’t apologise for that. And you know what makes the best design? Not following trends or what other people think looks good or what you’ve seen in a magazine but what makes you feel happy. I would dread coming home to a house filled with dark colours and pattern and loads of stuff even though I can totally appreciate how all of those things can be absolutely beautiful in someone else’s house. And that is why my bedroom is the calmest, most neutral and most clutter free room in the house – I need peaceful and tranquil decor in order to feel those things myself.

A beautiful new bedroom chair from DFS to make my room somewhere I can relax as well as sleep.

Last month I was lucky enough to be invited up to Derbyshire to visit the DFS‘ Bridge Mills design studio in Long Eaton and celebrate their 50th anniversary as well as having a go at upholstering my own chair. I have decided to move the clothes rail in my bedroom (a temporary clothes storage measure until we can afford built in cupboards) into our spare room as it looks ugly (I do not have a beautifully curated selection of clothes!) and it makes the room look cluttered and unfinished. Therefore, we have a bare alcove and the perfect place to put a new chair, which will make the whole room feel even more tranquil. And I have to say I am so pleased with the result and how well my beautiful New Lark Tub chair turned out. I mean, look at those crisp pleats! Ok, I may have got some – or a lot – of help from one of the wonderful upholsterers who has worked at DFS for thirty odd years (thank you, Russ!) but still, I’m going to claim some of the glory.

I worked with one of DFS’ upholsterers to make the chair. Many of the employees in the DFS British factories have worked there for decades.

Look at those crisp pleats! I only needed a little help with this 😉

The Cream Brushed Plain fabric works perfectly with my School House White walls and all the different neutrals combine perfectly to give this room such a relaxed feel.

And that is the thing about DFS, it truly is a British company from the roots up and employs families who have worked there for decades. They have a huge amount to celebrate in their 50th year including being the market leader by a country mile (fun fact – 1 in 4 of us have a DFS sofa in our homes!), maintaining three upholstery factories and two woodmills across the UK, providing a large amount of work to the communities in those areas as well as investing in the future generations with upholstery apprenticeships every year. Until my visit, I had no idea that every DFS sofa is hand-made to order, many here in the UK; the only part of the process that has been mechanised is the pattern cutting. It was amazing on the day to watch the seamstresses and upholsters at work and to give it a go myself. It was great to meet the DFS design team  And not only do they do all the making but DFS has a team and chat to them about the design process and the amazing variety of sofas that they create, based on trends and fabrics they source from all over the world and at international design shows. We even got a sneak peek at some future designs including my favourite, the Joules Patterdale, which is brand new and can be bought online and in store now!

The design team at DFS who we spent the day with identify new trends at international design shows. They than design new sofas based on these trends and offer a huge variety of styles and fabrics. 1 in 4 of all homes across the UK have a DFS sofa!

The New Lark Tub chair is perfect for a bedroom as it is compact and low so it doesn’t dominate the space and it’s perfect for putting on shoes and socks (or for drinking tea in the morning).

My New Lark Tub chair is absolutely perfect for my bedroom as it’s very comfortable but small enough for this room as well as being low enough to put socks and shoes on easily. I chose the Cream Brushed Plain fabric that is so incredibly soft and it works perfectly with my School House White walls. As I said, I’m not interested in anything dramatic or contrasting in this room as all these neutrals (I’ll show you more of the bedroom tomorrow in another blog post) make me feel so calm and relaxed and they work together so well. When the late afternoon sun hits this room and comes in through the linen curtains I can not tell you how lovely it is especially now I have somewhere so nice to sit. I didn’t replace a chair in here, so I don’t have one to get rid of, but if you do, another amazing thing I learnt about DFS is that they have established a sofa recycling partnership with The British Heart Foundation. They offer DFS customers the option to have their old sofa removed and if suitable, to be sold in one of BHF’s Furniture and Electrical stores up and down the UK, with the proceeds going to BHF. The scheme began in 2012 and has raised £20m so far. Can you believe that? So many more companies need to start establishing schemes like this one.

I love the overall effect of having moved the clothes rail out of here and now having a chair, which softens the whole space.

The New Lark Tub chair is a lovely shape and the back wraps round you and the seat is so bouncy and soft.

I’m thrilled with my new bedroom chair and how much more tranquil it has made the room feel. I also had a really wonderful time with the DFS team learning a bit about upholstery and a huge amount about the proud history of this British company. I really hope that they continue to support so many families across Derbyshire for fifty more years to come at least and continue to make such brilliant quality (and such comfy) sofas. I hope you like this new corner of my bedroom even though it’s not very avant-garde – ha!

Katy x

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Decorating tips for Airbnb properties

*This is a paid collaboration with GuestReady*

Two weekends ago I went and stayed in an Airbnb with my two sisters, one of whom lives in Manchester so we chose a place half way between there and London. We were four adults and two children and we managed to book a three bedroom cottage. We had such a lovely weekend catching up with my cute nephew and spending time together and although the cottage was fine it definitely didn’t add to our experience and we won’t be going back there. The decor made it feel unnecessarily drab and dark, there were random bits of furniture and piles of clutter and the linen was very far from fresh and crisp. To be fair it was a family home BUT they charged us £300 for one night! We would have returned in the future and paid that fee had they made just a few easy changes and did a proper clean (it was ‘sticky’ – if you know, you know). As it turns out we didn’t leave a great review and they won’t be getting £300 from us again.

Anyway, it got me thinking about trying to make our house pay for itself using Airbnb or HomeAway or the like when we go away (something we did do a few times in our old flat really successfully) but what puts me off is the hassle of preparing for guests as well as doing handovers etc. That’s where GuestReady comes in. GuestReady is a property management service who will look after everything from photographing the property, screening potential guests, greeting guests and doing key exchanges, professional house keeping to being on call throughout a guest’s stay to perform basic maintenance tasks. All of these things will help get excellent reviews, which keep guests coming back and help reach the optimum price for a property.

A London home managed by GuestReady who provide a full property management service for short or medium term lets. The services they provide include photographing and optimising your listing, communicate with and screen potential guests, meet guests on arrival, house keeping including providing linen and on call maintenance. This removes any hassle or stress from letting out your home on Airbnb or the equivalent.

Of course, a home (or perhaps it is a second home to rent out on a short or medium let basis) needs to be appealing to guests to optimise how much one can make from it. So what can one do or what changes can one make to charge as much as possible? Here are a few tips that I think will help…

Add personality without it feeling too personal

Guests don’t want a home to feel sterile and soulless otherwise they’d book into a basic hotel. You shouldn’t feel the need to strip the house of character as guests want to feel at home. Art work on the walls, statement ornaments or wall hangings, books and plants all go to make the place feel relaxed, welcoming and lived in. However, try not to make it feel too personal as the hundredth picture of the couple’s wedding in the cottage we stayed in at the weekend was overkill and kind of made us feel like we were trespassing, if you know what I mean. Think about where you live and try to add local touches like a piece by a local artist or books about the local history. Small touches like that will give the place character and interest. A quick note about plants: do not rely on guests to water them – you may be better off with some of the amazing faux plants that you can buy these days.

Lots of personal touches in this Paris apartment managed by GuestReady make it feel homely and interesting to explore. A framed map on the wall is a great example of adding local touches that tie the space to the location and make it feel authentic instead of a soulless hotel room.
A great example of statement pieces of art adding personality to a minimalist room.

Let the light in

A light bright property is not only going to photograph better – something that GuestReady can do for you and good photos on sites like Airbnb and HomeAway makes ALL the difference – but it will also make your guest’s stay so much more enjoyable. It’s very easy over time to clog up rooms with too much furniture or to place furniture too near windows so that the light is blocked out. Try to clear as much space in front of windows as possible and ensure all window coverings are pulled right back so that they don’t block out any light. If your home is generally quite dark and doesn’t get great light because of its position think about your lighting. Each room should have multiple light sources including the ceiling and walls as well as table and floor lamps. I can not emphasise enough how much lighting affects the ambiance of a home and whether or not people feel comfortable in a space.

All furniture here has been moved away from the windows and the curtains pushed right back so that as much light as possible can flood this London apartment.

Buy vintage

A great way of making a space feel relaxed and lived in, as well as adding style, is to combine old with new by adding vintage and antique pieces. Layering vintage textures and colours through furniture, textiles or ornaments will look great but it is also a very cost effective way of improving your home if you need to do so before you list it. Vintage pieces can be so much cheaper than new so rummage around local markets, antique shops or online for some great bargains.

Clever vintage touches like an old ladder, picture frame, the cupboard for jars, barstools as well as the side table beyond all give this modern space real depth of character and make it feel unique.

Relaxation zones

This may just sound like weird jargon but the fact is that the way you use a full time home is very different to the way you use a holiday home. In our daily lives our focus isn’t always on ‘relaxing’ but more about doing and getting through our daily routines and chores. When you invite guests into your home they will want to be able to relaxed in each room so you may need to move things about a bit or add certain pieces of furniture that enable them to feel as comfortable as possible – something that may not be a priority on a daily basis for you. For example, adding a couple of chairs with a small table to the bedroom, if possible, as when you stay away from home you generally have more time to spend relaxing in the bedroom or the need to spend extra time in there as you may be with friends or family and need somewhere to escape to. Another example is adding a chair in the bathroom so that guests can enjoy the extra time they may have or a reading nook in the living room. This was a trick that the cottage we stayed in really missed as they had a huge bathroom and there was nowhere to sit, which was such a shame. Try to put yourselves in the minds of guests and what they may want out of your home.

An apartment managed by GuestReady in Porto. An added chair allows guests to relax in this room beyond being in bed (they could definitely add another chair and small table here so guests can enjoy coffee in the morning).

Don’t be afraid to use colour and pattern

Yes, neutral homes will appeal to a wider audience but if you have the confidence to use colour and pattern effectively go for it! A stand out wallpaper, paint colour or a mix of textiles can help to make your listing more memorable than others – don’t forget that GuestReady will help you make your listing as effective as possible, including brilliant copy writing, but a stand out decor will also help a lot.

A great way of injecting some colour and pattern that will make your listing stand out is in the bathroom or cloakroom. This wallpaper looks amazing in one of GuestReady’s Lisbon homes.
A clever way of adding some personality to an otherwise plain bathroom is one wall of paper that is also reflected in the bathroom cabinet mirror.

Think sofas

Washable sofa covers make life so much easier. You can keep your sofas looking fresh and you don’t have to panic that a spill will ruin your beautiful velvet fitted cover! Also, sofas are a great way to maximise beds as sofa beds or daybeds can be used to house extra guests, which means more money. Daybeds are a great way of adding extra seating to a room and look really lovely and welcoming as you can pile them with cushions and interesting textiles.

This Paris apartment has a sofa bed in the living room, which will maximise the earning potential of the property as the more guests you can accommodate, the more you can charge.

Use rugs

If you have hard floors adding rugs can make the space feel so much cosier and more like home. They also serve to bring a sense of cohesion to a room. Don’t forget underlay to stop rugs slipping and if you expect children and pets as guests I suggest jute rugs as they are brilliantly hard wearing and don’t show up dirt in the same way as wool rugs. Make sure the rug is as big as you can make it – this will always make a room feel bigger and pull furniture together if they will all sitting on the rug.

This Lisbon apartment managed by GuestReady gets it so right with their use of a huge rug to pull this big room together and create a perfect seating area.

I think we need to sort out the exterior of our house before we can list it but when we do I would be so much happier passing over the management to GuestReady as life is so busy and I just can’t imagine how we would squeeze it in otherwise. I think I would also feel much happier and more confident about inviting guests in knowing that they had been screened properly (I remember we narrowly swerved a bride to be that planned to use our roof garden for a hen party booking into our flat!) and that issues during a stay could be resolved by the GuestReady team. When we had or flat on Airbnb a few years ago the phone calls about how to turn on the hob or where the local supermarket was was such a pain when we were on holiday ourselves so turning that all over to someone else would be amazing. Also, not having to rush in myself and clean the whole place before another set of guests arrived would not be something I’d miss!

What do you think? Have you ever listed your home or perhaps you have a holiday home you let out? I’d love to know what your experiences are and what tips you may have to make homes guest ready.

Katy x