How to Add Charm to Your New Build Home

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Check out more rugs with beautiful designs


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

Check out this beginner’s guide to lighting in layers

Breathe life into the garden

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

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


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

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

Explore more open plan kitchen areas


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

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

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

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

How to Create the Feeling of Home in a New Area

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

Original article first published on Houzz

Laura Gaskill, Houzz Contributor

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

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



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

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



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

Discover tranquil bedroom ideas



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

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

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



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

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

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

Check out how to display flowers

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



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

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



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



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



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

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

Get more garden inspiration

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

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

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

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

Give Your Home a Refresh this Autumn

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

Original article first published on Houzz

Jo Simmons, Houzz Contributor

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


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



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



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



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

Welcome winter with new lighting products

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

Discover 9 ways to deal with clutter in your home



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



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



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

Discover more bathroom ideas

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



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

Introducing the Pickfords children’s carton

Pickfords has launched a new carton aimed at young children, featuring illustrations of a Pickfords move in progress, to them engage with the move process and understand what’s involved.

Designed to be educational and fun, the drawings are left blank for children to colour in, with space to practice writing their name at the top.

The cartons can also be used to pack toys and games, to encourage children to be involved in the move process.

To order your cartons before move day, simply speak to your move manager when you first enquire with Pickfords.

For a family friendly home move, contact Pickfords on 0800 019 8556, get an online estimate or request a call back.

Where should I live in 2017?

While people move home for many different reasons, the desire to relocate to (or within) any particular area is usually influenced by proximity to our places of work or study. We’ve looked at the most popular UK destinations of our customers last year, revealing 10 cities which provide fantastic opportunities in a wide range of professional fields. So if you’re looking to further your studies or career in 2017, you might just find the ideal location in our list below:


Home to one of the world’s top universities, students and employees of the prestigious institution make up a large portion of the Cambridge population, while many others make their living in one of the 1,000-plus high-technology companies occupying the city.

Newcastle upon Tyne

The commercial, educational and cultural focus for England’s North East, Newcastle has a £13 billion economy. The city has one of the largest shopping complexes in the UK, and is home to the British or regional headquarters of several large companies, including Greggs, Fenwick, Goldsmiths,  Sage Group, Go-Ahead Group and Virgin Money.


The city and county of Bristol attracts a wealth of talent from the creative media, electronics and aerospace industries, and a combined student population of circa 48,200 from two universities.


Scotland’s capital boasts the highest percentage of professionals in the UK, and is the largest UK financial centre after London. It is known as a centre of education, with four universities to its name, including the highly reputable University of Edinburgh.


The economy of York is largely based in the service industry, providing tens of thousands of jobs in public sector employment, health, education, finance, IT and, increasingly, tourism.


Famous for the Robin Hood legend, Nottingham is home to a number of company headquarters, including Boots UK Limited, Pedigree Petfoods, Experian,  Imperial Tobacco, Siemens, Speedo, Vision Express, Specsavers and BBC East Midlands.


With the most diverse economy in the UK, Leeds has seem the fastest growth rate of private sector jobs in the country, and is the largest legal and financial centre in the UK after London. It is also one of the largest centres of manufacturing, and is well known as an employer in the engineering, printing and publishing, food and drink, chemicals and medical technology sub-sectors.


The global city of Manchester has one of the largest economies in England. It is known for its prevalence in an array of industries, including digital and creative, financial, legal and business services, biotechnology, advanced manufacturing, environmental technology, tourism, media and real estate.


Scotland’s largest city is a manufacturing hub, including large operating in shipbuilding, engineering, construction, brewing and distilling, printing and publishing and software development. Their economy is on the rise thanks to growth in service sector industries such as communications, healthcare, highest education, retail and tourism.


It should come as no surprise that the UK’s capital, most populous city and one of the foremost global cities is our most popular destination. London is one of the world’s leading financial centres, is first in the world in software, multimedia development and design, and is a hub for the global economy.

If you’re moving towards a new opportunity in 2017, contact Pickfords for expert local, national and international packing and removals. Click here for a quote or find out more.

The benefits of using a BAR-certified moving company

When moving home, you want to be confident that your removal company can be trusted to meet your needs without any issues. Whether you’re about to undergo a small, local move or are shipping a large household overseas, assurance that your goods are in safe hands will be paramount.

For over 100 years, The British Association of Removers (BAR) has promoted excellence within the removals industry, awarding membership only to reputable, professional and safe British removal companies.

To be a member of BAR, a moving company must meet a range of stringent criteria and undergo regular inspections to check that their employees, processes, facilities and vehicles all meet the highest standards set out in the BAR Code of Practice.

Customers choosing to work with a BAR-certified moving company can rest assured that their move will be handled with the utmost care and attention. In the unlikely event that any issues arise, the BAR’s advice and conciliation service to help resolve the matter.

Choosing a BAR-certified removal company guarantees the best possible service, giving you peace of mind throughout your move.

To find out about moving home with a founding member of the BAR; contact Pickfords for expert local, national and international packing and removals. Click here for a quote or find out more.

How to create the perfect home office

With more and more of us working remotely, the home office is becoming an increasingly popular feature of modern properties. Whether you’re moving home or repurposing a room in your current property, there are several ways to make sure your home office is fit for business:

Choosing the right room
If you have one, the spare bedroom is an ideal place to set up your home office. Swapping out the double bed for a fold-out sofa or installing a pull-out desk can help maximise the space and keep the room multi-functional. Similar adjustments can be made to living or dining rooms to the same end, or if you’re feeling bold, an unused loft or even gardening shed can be converted for the ultimate out-of-the-way office space.

Planning your storage space
Combining existing space with newly-created storage will help create an efficient, easy-to-access filing system. Make use of any available drawers or book cases for paperwork and other essentials, and purchase some stackable plastic storage boxes for flexible filing. Under-bed boxes are ideal for multi-function rooms, while making use of different colours or labels is great for easy reference.

Considering window proximity
If possible, position your desk nearby and facing a window. This way you’ll reap the benefits of natural light, and be encouraged to look away from your screen on occasion. Optimal positioning should keep screens facing away from direct sunlight, which can be aided by thick, adjustable blinds if needed.

Lighting right
Even the most naturally bright rooms typically need extra lighting to read or study by. Good quality desk lamps are the go-to solution, though choosing the right overhead lighting can also help. Downward-facing light shades are a simple solution, while adjustable ceiling spotlights create optimum illumination while avoiding screen glare.

Picking colours carefully
For your office walls, choose a paint colour that reflects your needs and personality. If you crave a quiet, relaxed atmosphere to work, pick light pastels; blue is traditionally a very calming colour. For creative types, vibrant purples and yellows are ideal for getting the artistic juices flowing.

Found your dream home with the office space to match? Contact Pickfords for expert local, national and international packing and removals. Click here for a quote or find out more.

How to declutter your garage or shed

Remember when the garage was just for your car, and the shed just for your gardening tools? If you have junk piling up in these once-functional storage areas, follow these simple tips to reclaim your space:

Be ruthless

For every item you come across, try to remember when you last made use of it. If you haven’t used something in the last year, do you really need it? Rather than throwing everything away, you can resell, recycle or donate usable items to charity.

Use wall hooks

The trick to maximising space is to consider every area that can be used for storage, including the walls. Install some wall hooks for bikes, gardening and sports equipment, and even hanging baskets to keep those extra odds and ends. Peg boards are also a great way to store certain items, particularly smaller tools that you need close to hand.

Consider ceiling storage

The ceiling of your garage or shed can be ideal for some out-of-the-way storage space. Use ceiling hooks or overhead racks for items only needed occasionally.

Install some shelving

Clear your floor space with some heavy duty shelving units. Place items you’ll use most often at the front, at waist or eye level, and everything else can go behind, above or below.

Invest in sturdy storage boxes

Stackable plastic storage boxes are ideal to keep your belongings organised and somewhat protected against damp and cold. For optimum organisation, place different types of items in different coloured boxes, or label each box for easy reference.

Replace the garage door

Garage doors that open inward severely limit the amount of available storage. Invest in a roller door or any other type that retracts vertically to really open up the space.

Utilise professional storage

We all have belongings we only need once a year, but for the remaining eleven months just seem to cause unnecessary clutter. All those Christmas and Halloween decorations, camping equipment, snow shovels and garden furniture can all be stored in your local Self Store facility or storage warehouse. Leave your seasonal belongings with the professionals until you need them next.

Clearing your clutter ahead of a home move? Contact Pickfords for expert local, national and international packing and removals. Click here for a quote or find out more.





How to keep your home secure

Whether you’ve just moved in and want to keep your new property protected, are selling up and want to reassure potential buyers, or simply want to prepare for the unexpected, there are a number of ways you can improve the security of your home to protect against theft or break-in.

Replace the locks

It can be difficult to keep track of who holds keys to your property, and impossible if you’ve just moved in. It’s good practice to change your locks every few years, and for extra security, ensure all windows, garage doors and side gates have working locks.

Install an alarm system

Home improvement stores offer a wide range of simple yet effective alarm systems to deter unwanted visitors. Some modern systems allow you to set up home zones, ideal if you want to alarm the house at night but leave certain areas free for bathroom trips or pets roaming around. Wireless systems allow for the greatest flexibility, while some wired systems can be monitored by a security company.

Install a two-way intercom

Intercoms allow you to check who’s at the front door or gate before letting them in. Opt for one with a screen to see the caller as well as hear them.

Set up CCTV

A great visual deterrent, modern CCTV systems start recording when movement is detected around your home, and can include night-vision mode and remote access via your smartphone.

Rethink where your keys are stored

Many homeowners store their keys in the hallway or right by the front door. Unfortunately, thieves can spot these through letterboxes and smash the glass or feed a wire hook through the letterbox to retrieve they keys. Keep your keys well away from the front door to avoid such incidences.

Consider outdoor lighting

Sensor-driven lighting above your front and back doors can startle potential intruders and discourage them from trying to enter.

Secure the shed

It’s easy to forget, but the contents of your shed can be worth a lot of money. Protect your power tools, bikes and barbecues with a strong lock and alarm system, or better yet, a sturdy metal shed.

Invest in a safe

For optimum protection of your valuables, install a safe in your home. Floor or wall safes can be easily concealed so thieves won’t know where to look.

Looking to move home? Pickfords is the UK’s largest removal company, relocating our customers locally, nationally and internationally. Click here for a quote or find out more.


Moving with children: a family checklist

Parents know that trying to organise anything with your children can be a challenging experience. Moving home will probably be one of you kids’ biggest life changes in their early years, so it’s important to get organised and help smooth the transition for them.

While your professional removal company will carry out all the packing and heavy lifting for you, how can you prepare your children for the big move? Here are our top tips for moving and settling in with kids:

  • Pack a moving day rucksack with snacks and entertainment to keep them occupied throughout the move.
  • Allow your children to feel settled in by helping them set up their room first.
  • Let your children pick paint colours and new bedding for their room, to help them get excited about their personal space in your new home.
  • To minimise the anxiety of acclimatising to their new environment, try to keep to the same time schedule to help them adjust quickly, e.g. for meals and bedtime.
  • Help your kids to find new playmates in the area by introducing them to the neighbours and signing them up to after-school clubs.
  • If possible, pay visits to your childrens’ new school to help them get acclimatised to their new environment before term starts.
  • Get involved in parent clubs, either online or locally to your new home, to discover the best kids activities in your new neighbourhood.
  • And of course, don’t forget to childproof your new home!

Ready to move? Pickfords covers every postcode in the UK and move families overseas every day. Visit our Moving Advice Centre for more helpful hints and tips, request a call back or get a quote from our website.