Invigorating spring and summer colour schemes for your home

Invigorating spring and summer colour schemes for your home

It’s your home, and everyone loves the personal touch that decorating brings to your room. This summer, it’s all about the style statement, so don’t whimper out and opt for bland colours, take one of these striking colour palates and incorporate it into your home.

Black and White

It might seem like a simple and classic combination, however done right, the black and white palette adds real depth to a room, especially when utilised with a modern and contemporary twist. From incorporating the style into the wall decoration with a striped design, to adding furniture and decorations that complement the style perfectly, you have a whole heap of options when it comes to this colour palette. Here are some of our favourite room additions with this colour scheme.

Black and White Chevron Rug – Urban Outfitters, £69.

Chevron Lampshade In Black – Not On The High Street, £30

Bossenden Wall Clock – House Of Fraser, £40

Coastal Cool

With the sun baking down, and the mild breeze providing a refreshing cool as it calmly blows over the garden and into your home, you can be forgiven for allowing your mind to wander with daydreams of a beached coastline, with radiant heat beaming down and the cool ocean waves whipping at your toes as you stroll over the perfect white sands. It sounds idyllic, but for most of us, the majority of our summer will be spent at home, so now is the perfect time to implement those elements of coastal cool into your house. It gives your rooms a light, breezy feel and with cool vibrant colours, it provides plenty of energy. Colours to incorporate are vast, but mainly focus on aquatic blues and greens, sandy yellows and natural browns.

MissPrint Home Dashes Cushion – John Lewis, £28

Wooden Frame Tealight Holder – Laura Ashley, £22

The Ascot Rug – The Rug Seller, £75-£359

European Clean

In the summer, there’s not colour that emphasises the warmth quite like a clean crisp white. We see it time and time again in the world of sashion, expecially in the summer. Be it in a light and airy linen shirt for a man, or a striking dress or jeans on a woman, white is a colour that really comes into its own in the warmer months. Although it might not be the most practical of solutions, the colour will provide a refreshing and fresh feel. Use white as a neutral backdrop, and then accessorize with statement complimentary pieces in your favourite colors, or create a monochromatic design by enveloping the room in an all-white palette. Mix and match with tones from the coastal cool selection, to add a real touch of summer to your rooms.

Knitted Pouffe – Etsy, £65

Baby Betty Vases – Brissi, £24


This article was provided exclusively to First Home News by Kate Hobbs, who has a passion for home interiors and trends.

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A beginners guide to a clever garden design
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A beginners guide to a clever garden design

Summer is around the corner, however after a winter of abandonment, you might find that your garden looks more like a farmyard than a relaxing spot for you to enjoy the company of guests.  If you need to get your garden into shape this spring, here are some of our landscaping cheats.

How To Make A Garden Seem Bigger

If your garden is on the small side, then you may feel limited in what you can do; however with a few little tricks you can make your garden seem bigger than it actually is. Trimming and hedging those bushy borders or intrusive trees can really help to free up some much needed space, whilst retaining height and texture with foliage and trees can help you to keep your privacy from neighbours. Contrasting warm-coloured flowers in the middle of your garden with cool colours on the border can help to give your garden a real feeling of depth, while clever garden lighting and reflective ornaments can also play their part.

How To Create a Mediterranean Style Garden

Mediterranean gardens are often designed to evoke a real holiday-feel, where a warmer climate and sun-kissed colours are utilised. If you’re looking to incorporate a feel of Europe in your garden, features such as large seating areas and terracotta potted plants take precedent over grassy lawns, which are often hard to maintain in the heat of the Mediterranean sun. Paving stones and pebbles should be sprinkled around large plants pots, while ceramic tiles should be used to add a Moorish colour style. Walls should be whitewashed or painted in an earthy, sandy tone before vine-covered terraces are erected for a shaded dining spot. If space permits there should be different dining areas for a variety of outdoor living, with al fresco dining terraces complimented with simple benches and shaded spots.

How To Create a Cottage-Style Garden

Traditional cottage gardens are full of flowering plants and lush foliage which are planted in a purposefully informal style. Aiming to create a romantic and natural woodland feel, you can have free reign to plant all of your favourite flowers. There are no strict planting patterns or colours or scents to use, as texture, depth and variety are the king of the cottage style. Beautiful flowering archways and stepping stone pathways can lead to hidden garden areas, where a vintage hammock or tree swing are perfect for watching the birds fly overhead. Rustic water buckets and troughs are also great for an added character-feel and can often be found for a good price in an old junk yard or online.

How To Create a Chic and Sleek Garden Retreat

In contrast to a wild cottage garden, a sleek and chic retreat needs clean lines, formal plant designs and minimalist trees. Here, fussy borders are a thing of the past, as are fruit trees, unruly lawns and overgrown hedges. Lawns should be kept to a minimum and must be neat and weed-free at all times, while large flowerbeds should be replaced with sleek rockeries and simple water features. Patios and decking are often used to create a contemporary design, along with cool colours and sculpted trees.

How To Attract Wildlife

You don’t need to have masses of flowers and plants to attract birds and other wildlife into your garden. Even just a few carefully potted plants and hanging baskets can attract birds, insects and beetles into your garden with ease. Plants which offer nectar, pollen, seeds or sap should be prioritised first as these are important food sources for our feathered, furry and flying friends. Digging a pond or installing a bird bath or water feature can also help to create a welcoming habitat for the friends of the natural world.


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Real vs Fake: The Christmas tree debate
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Real vs Fake: The Christmas tree debate

It’s that time of year again when tradition faces up against practicality in a debate which gets replayed up and down the country every Christmas. Do you get a real tree this time or an artificial one? The truth is that both are worthy of being the focal point of your seasonal celebrations but to help you make that all-important decision, we’ve put a together a guide outlining the pros and cons of both set-ups so you can avoid any festive fall-out this year.

A Real Tree


The custom of having indoor trees arrived in the UK in the mid 1800’s and since then they have gone on to become a traditional staple of British homes during the Christmas season. For some, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without a real tree adorned with tinsel and lights and the process of getting one and then realising it might need some modifying to get it into the house has an air of nostalgia about it. This is matched by the fresh pine smell which intoxicates the room, and regardless of what some companies may tell you, this scent cannot be replaced by a festive air freshener or plug in.

For the eco-warriors amongst you, real trees are all natural and so disposing of them is easy and environmentally friendly. You also won’t have any problem having to store it, as you can just take it outside and let it bio-degrade naturally.


Real Christmas trees are an expensive investment, when compared to its artificial counterpart; especially as you’ll have to pay out year after year. The care and attention they need as well as the mess they leave behind can also be more hassle than it’s worth for some.

An Artificial Tree


The beauty of having an artificial tree is its convenience and practicality. There’s no need to stress about having to go out and choose a tree and try and force it through the front door, it’s just merely a case of getting it out of the box and assembling it. An artificial tree will also prove to be cheaper in the long term as it’s a one-time purchase and a relatively low cost one at that. They’re also easy to clean up afterwards and you’ll avoid that unenviable pain of standing on loose pine needles with bare feet.

An artificial tree also has the added benefit of always looking pristine and perfect. If you’re preoccupied with having an idealistic looking tree then an artificial one is the way to go as it will never go brown and will most likely fit your living room to size.


The flip side to all this practicality though is that artificial trees are not friendly to the environment as most of them tend to be made from PVC which is non-biodegradable and can release toxins over time. Perhaps its biggest flaw in this debate though is that it doesn’t hold the same memories of Christmas that the traditionalists yearn for.

Which one you choose is merely a matter of lifestyle and preference, but whether you go for tradition or convenience, it’s not the tree that matters but the people around it.


This guest article was provided exclusively to First Home News by Samanta Towns.

Images used under creative commons courtesy of Jean-Marc PAYET.

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Nine signs you’re in a house with kids

Nine signs you’re in a house with kids

So you’ve just moved into your new dream home and are finally getting your possessions and interiors just how you always imagined them. However, if you’re a proud parent, it’s highly likely that your home won’t be staying clean, neat and tidy for long. Here are the top nine signs that the kids run your home.


Toys cover the floor

Your living room carpet is a lovely shade of red that you picket to match the walls…if only you could see it under the ocean of toys left lying around…









Photo credit: Free to use via Pixabay


You’re constantly recovering from stepping on Lego

That constant throbbing ache you’re experiencing in your foot, that’s from standing on Lego for the 20th time.









Photo credit:


Peppa Pig will dominate your DVD cabinet

Film nights in your home now turn into an expedition, as you dig your way through Peppa Pig DVD’s to find your film of choice.









Photo credit: Kenneth Lu via Flickr

Think you’re using the iPad? Think again…

You can forget about doing a bit of shopping on your iPad, that’s been reserved for Angry Birds for the foreseeable future.










Photo credit: Abeckstrom via Flickr.


Good luck changing the TV channel

Your default TV station is now Nickelodeon, and good luck finding the remote control, it’s likely to be buried between sofa cushions – enjoy!


Be careful not to break the step stool

The kids’ step stool will constantly trip you up in the toilet and bathroom. Watch your feet, as before you know it you’ll have a stubbed toe and the stool will be skidding across to the other side of the room.


Neat rolls of toilet paper?

Forget about it, that’s a thing of the past. If you’re after toilet paper, it’s likely to be strewn over the floor, or re-rolled in an untidy manner.










Photo credit: Gorillasushi via

Destroy walls and skirting boards

Decorating your home should leave a room in pristine condition for the foreseeable future, not yours though. Chipped skirting boards, drawings on the walls and scratch marks will be more familiar to you.

Grubby marks…

They’re everywhere. Whether it’s your white doors are plastered in food, or the leather sofa with smears of Sudocrem, you undoubtedly feel like you’ve always got a cloth at hand to quickly wipe down surfaces.









Image credit: St0rmz via Flickr

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Winter additions for your bedroom

Winter additions for your bedroom

The cold has arrived, and it’s time to start looking at the best bedroom additions to make for a warm and cosy bedroom environment this winter. Winter can be a magical and enchanting time of year, but with the cold weather and the night drawing in early, it can also be a little depressing. With the bare and icy landscape outdoors, make your home a place of cosiness and comfort. Creating a warm feel in the bedroom will inspire feelings of happiness and relaxation, so here are some simple additions that you can make to transform your bedroom into the perfect escape from the cold winter weather.


Not only does this make for a cosier and warmer setting, but by focussing on the colour of your bedroom, you can brighten your room and your mood. There is no denying that colour affects our mood, so with the all-white winter landscape combined with grey skies outdoors, bring in some sunny uplifting colours such as yellows, oranges.  If you don’t want a bold colour, consider autumnal and winter shades such as reds, blues and greens. Once you have the right colour scheme, it will be easier to choose and coordinate your winter additions accordingly.


With the lack of warmth and darkness of winter, now is the perfect time to add a romantic touch to your bedroom. Candles are a favoured choice by many wanting to inject some low light and fragrance into the air, so experiment with different colours and scents to create your perfect ambience. You can also play around with ways to house your candles, lanterns are a popular choice, but you can also try rustic candle holders, jars, bottles or even a glass pillar to add a personal touch to your bedroom.


If your bedroom lacks character, a trendy rug can instantly make your room appear fuller and cosier. Make this a personal choice, whether it be sheepskin, a slumber rug, traditional pattern, wool rug, or tuft; consider what will go with the rest of your interiors and think carefully about the colour; mink, cream, red or grey you can make this your centrepiece. Whether it be bold or natural remember that less is more, you don’t want your room to appear cramped, so chose the size accordingly to suit the size and shape of your room.

Extra pillows and blankets

When keeping a stash of extra blankets and pillows, pay attention to  the colour and texture. Thick and cosy blankets are irresistible in the colder months, what is better than curling up in front of a warm fire with a book? Especially in the bedroom, clutter your bed with textured cushions of differing colours and sizes. Also, add a seasonal knitted, fluffy, teddy or fleece throw to the end of the bed to make your bedroom seem even more inviting, and the overall ambience one of relaxation and comfort.


Brighten your room with an injection of light and transform a glum mood and a darkened room with fairy lights, lanterns or twinkle lights on the ceiling and furniture. Explore ways to creatively incorporate a star- like shine and a magical, enchanting ambience in your bedroom this winter. Avoid stark, harsh lighting and stick to warm yellow tones to emit a soothing low light and add radiance to your bedroom.


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Sorting your council tax ahead of moving house

Sorting your council tax ahead of moving house

When moving home, as we’ve mentioned previously, you’ll have a lot on your plate, particularly when it comes to informing your local authorities and utility suppliers. However what many people struggle to understand is the way in which you’ll need to organise your council tax when moving.

If you’re well prepared, and plan plenty in advance, then the process of paying your existing council tax requirements and closing the account associated with your old home is a reasonably simple process.

Getting in touch

If you’re moving locally and your new home is within the same local constituency, then it might be as simple as switching your old address for your new one. If your new home isn’t located within the same district, setting up your new account simply requires you to make a quick and easy call to your new council and make sure they’re well aware of your new address.


You can even notify them of your change of address online. All you need to do is search for your local authority’s website and find the change of address form in the section of the website that is focused on Residential matters. Obviously, it’s crucial to know that your old council will continue charging you until they’re notified that you’ve left the area. Avoid paying more council tax than you need to by informing them of your moving date ahead of time.


This is the reason you don’t want to leave this task until the last minute, as it can take several weeks for your old council tax account to be closed. It depends entirely on the processing queue at your local council, however it makes sense to ‘get your house in order’ ahead of your move. Avoid paying any bills you receive for at least four weeks following your account closure to make sure you don’t overpay. If you’ve overpaid your council tax account, your local council can transfer the credit to the account for your new home. Alternatively, your balance can be refunded and used to pay the council tax at your new property.

What information do I need to provide?

It’s important to make sure you have all relevant details when carrying out this process. You’ll need to provide detailed information on your account and living situation in order to close your council tax account. In order to close your existing council tax account, you may need to provide the following information.

What will my new council tax be?

Council tax is divided into eight bands, from the cheapest A band, to the most expensive homes, which fall into the H band. Similarly to stamp duty, it all relates to the size of your home, so it’s worth bearing in mind that, should you move from a smaller premises to a larger dwelling, your council tax bill will probably increase.

Photo credit: CC image via Gary & Anna Sattler

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Top considerations when moving to a new area

Top considerations when moving to a new area

Buying your first house is a big deal, and if you’re planning on relocating to a completely different neighbourhood, you’ll have a lot to think about. Here are five of the major issues you should consider before you commit to buying in a particular location.


1) Crime

If not right at the top of your checklist, crime rates should at least feature very high up on it. After all, you don’t want to end up living in fear and feeling vulnerable because of local miscreants. There are various ways in which you can find out about criminal activity. For example, you can visit websites such as or These resources will provide you with a general impression of crime rates and they can help you to compare different areas.

Often, it makes sense to work alongside the leading housing organisations when searching out a new area. It’s often the case that the national home organisations strive to provide homes in good, livable areas.  If you’re searching for a deterrent, or would rather have peace of mind within a property, then firms such as Big Brother Systems offer a range of CCTV solutions and should have versions that meet all of your requirements.


2) Transport

It’s also important to consider transport. For example, how well served is the area by buses and trains and how accessible are major roads and the motorway network? Meanwhile, if you will be commuting to and from work on a regular basis, check your route online to see how long the trip will take you.


3) Amenities

Local amenities are another important aspect when considering the area of your new home. If you don’t want to travel miles to reach good shops, bars, parks, medical facilities and so on, you’ll need to make sure you select an area that’s well served by these resources. A simple search on Google Maps should give you an idea, but it’s worth visiting the amenities yourself to see if they’re up to scratch.


4) Schools

Even if you don’t have kids or your children are past school age, it’s a good idea to research local education facilities. After all, properties that fall within the catchment areas of schools with good reputations tend to be in much higher demand, raising their value. If you ever want to sell your home in the future, this could be a big help.


5) Development projects

It’s worth researching any ongoing or planned development projects within neighbourhoods too. Depending on the nature of these schemes, they have the potential to significantly raise or lower property values in the surrounding area. You should be able to get this information from the relevant local council.


By examining these five issues before you commit to buying a property in a particular location, you can help ensure you will make the right choice, and you can avoid some potentially nasty surprises further down the line. Have you recently moved into your great new home? What areas were top of your list when it came to finding your perfect home area.

This article was kindly contributed by Laura Cavanagh.

CC image sourced from

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15 simple gardening tricks for summer

15 simple gardening tricks for summer

You don’t need a green thumb to have a vibrant, plentiful garden. Rather, you just need to know a few simple tricks of the trade. Whether you’re planting a garden looking to be environmentally friendly, trying to save some money, or just want to enjoy the romantic notion of a quaint garden try these helpful gardening tricks.


1. Think Outside the Planter

Using planters are always an option, but they’re not the only way to get your seedlings started. For one, save those toilet paper rolls. You can fold up the bottom and then add some dirt along with seeds. Once they start to sprout, just plant them in the ground, because the toilet paper rolls are biodegradable.


The same goes for lemon rinds and egg shells. Both are great holders for the beginnings of a seedling, and both are used in compost, so you know they’ll work well in soil, too. Also, wheatgrass grows well in egg shells.


2. Recycle Your Gallon Jug

Rather than put your empty plastic milk jug in the garbage or recycling bin, turn it into a tool for your garden. You can either make it into a watering can by poking small holes into the plastic cap or turn it into three different kinds of shovels.


3. Make Grocery-Bought Herbs Last

Herbs and vegetables can be expensive, but not if you repropagate them. For herbs, take some cuttings, put them into water until they begin to grow some roots, and then replant.


4. Keep Plants Watered While You’re Away

No need to hire someone to water your plants when you’ve got paper towels and two glasses of water. Just put a glass of water at each end of the plants, roll the paper towel tightly, place it over the plants and put the ends of the towel in each water glass. The paper towel will soak up just enough water to keep your plants hydrated while you’re out of town.


5. Prepare Your Garden With Newspaper

In the fall, save the Sunday paper after you read it, because you can use it to get a part of your yard ready for a new garden patch. To start, mow the area where you plan to plant. You’ll then put a few layers down: start with the newspaper and then add either bark mulch or shredded leaves. Get the layers wet, and then wait. Once spring rolls around, you’ll have a new garden bed.


6. Use Epsom Salt

To encourage your plants to grow and keep those pesky bugs away, all you need is Epsom salt. That’s because it works both as a fertilizer (the magnesium sulfate encourages plants to grow) and a natural and safe pesticide (the salt doesn’t taste good to bugs).


7. Aspirin: Not Just For Headaches

Got a fungus problem in your garden? Then break out 650 milligrams of aspirin and put it in a quart of water. Spray it on the fungi – whether it’s black spots on your plant’s leaves or a powdery looking mildew – and pretty soon the nasty fungus will disappear.


8. Citrus Rinds: Pest Control

Save your orange peels if you want to keep away all kinds of pests. That’s because citrus rinds, when tossed with your garden mulch, have been known to keep bugs – as well as neighborhood dogs and cats – away from your garden.


9. Soak Seeds Before Planting

If you want your seeds to sprout and grow faster, soak them in water first. This works because moisture is one sign for a seed to start the germination process. To do this, simply put the seeds in a bowl of hot tap water for about 12-24 hours. After they’re done soaking, plant them as directed.


10. Use a Sponge in Your Planter

We’ve already established that moisture is key to good growing conditions. Since sponges are great at retaining moisture, it only makes sense to add a sponge to your potted plant to help your plant retain as much water as possible.


11. Save Space With Bathroom Caddies

If you don’t have room for a garden, you can still grow a couple of plants and herbs. All you need is to create space by making a hanging garden out of bathroom caddies.


12. Coffee: It’s Not Just For Waking Up in the Morning

For one, use your leftover coffee grounds to enrich your soil with 2 percent nitrogen; an added bonus is that the grounds help deter critters. That’s not all; use some of your coffee filters in your pots to prevent water leaks.


13. Fix the pH of Your Soil

The pH of your soil can either help or hurt the growth of your garden. So, after testing the pH of your soil, you may discover that your garden needs a bit of help. Use vinegar and sodium bicarbonate to alter the pH of your soil. Bonus: Vinegar can kill weeds, while baking soda can kill fungus.


14. Prevent Tools from Rusting

Tools are a key part of keeping your garden in tip-top shape. Keep your tools from rusting by storing them in builders’ sand.


15. Repel Mosquitoes Naturally

You’ve spent all this time and effort on creating a beautiful and fruitful garden. Now you should be able to enjoy it. To guarantee that, keep mosquitos away by finishing your garden with a few plants that naturally repel them, like citronella, lemon balm, marigolds and more.


Gardens may take work, but gardening can be fun with clever tricks like these. What’s your favorite gardening trick?


Image used under CC license sourced on Pixabay.

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Redirecting mail from your old home

Redirecting mail from your old home

Moving house can be a hectic time, but receiving your mail at a new address can be sorted easily. With a bit of forward thinking and a few early enquires, redirecting your mail to a new address can be one of the easiest tasks of your big move.

First Home

If you’re a first time buyer on the verge of making the move to your first home, ensuring your mail eventually gets delivered to your new address is important, however isn’t an urgent matter. If you are moving into your first home, it’s highly likely that your previous home will be somewhere with your family. The fact you have someone trustworthy still inhabiting your previous address means it isn’t a disaster if old post continues to be delivered to your old home, as it can be forwarded on manually or collected for times you visit. If this is the case, we’d still advise you contact relevant institutions and inform them of your address change, but you probably don’t need to set up an auto forward with the post office.

Set up a redirect

If you previously owned a home and, as part of your move, have now sold it on, then you’ll need to set up a redirect for your mail. For a permanent move, the Royal Mail offers a number of approaches. Be prepared, and ensure you make your application at least three weeks before your expected moving date -leave it any later and you may be post-less for your first few days at the new address. Next up, you need to complete your application, which can be done either online, by mail or at your local Post Office. The application is simple and can be downloaded from the Royal Mail.  Once you have the application sorted and sent, you’re all set. Any mail addressed for your old home will arrive at your old local office, and then be re-routed first class to your new address – meaning you won’t miss out on any exciting bills that you just couldn’t do without!

If you aren’t satisfied that all your mail is being sent to your new address at the end of your redirection agreement, just extend the process for as long as you need for up to two years, it’s that simple.  Starting at just £21 for the shortest term redirection, the service is not only easy to sort but reasonably priced too, giving you the ultimate peace of mind that you’re getting all your mail.


Image used under CC licence courtesy of EDDIE


Make sure you plan ahead

Forward planning is crucial with any home move, as you’ll need to get in touch with a number of services and institutions and inform them of your address change. Get in touch with the likes of your bank, the DVLA and your telephone/internet suppliers prior to your move and ensure all future correspondence from them heads to your new address. Getting sorted with these early means you’ll then have chance to set up the Royal Mail redirect mentioned above, for any lingering mail that heads to your old home.

With the madness that can surround moving house, this redirection process should give you one less thing to worry about. Remember that you need to get started early when planning to move house, otherwise your move will quickly become a horror show.

If you’ve recently made the transition into a new home and have any tips and advice for your fellow readers, we’d love to hear them. Make sure you leave a comment below!

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Share your first home ‘views’ and win an amazing interior design book

Share your first home ‘views’ and win an amazing interior design book

Today, we’re launching an exciting new competition on First Home News, giving you the chance to win the fantastic new interior design book, Bright Bazaar; the brainchild of world-renowned blogger, Will Taylor.

Running each Friday throughout August, we’ll be tuning the spotlight onto you lot, our readers, giving you the chance to share your wealth of house and home advice on a variety of topics. Each week, our favourite answer will win the book. Simple!

So to kick things off, and given the warm weather we’ve been having lately, we’d like to know: What’s your top tip to turning your garden, into a ‘garden room’? It could be a web of fairy lights, outdoor sofas or some choice greenery. Whatever it is, we want hear about it, so get creative.

To enter, just leave a comment below this blog post. We’ll be announcing the winner on Monday. Good luck!

Bright Bazaar has an RRP of £25, and is available from Amazon. The book explores specific colour palettes for every room in your home to give you the confidence, knowledge and inspiration to get your colour choices right first time. Packed with personality and heart, playful but informative, engaging but practical, Bright Bazaar is brimming with ideas that work.


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