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Get a new-look kitchen without the price tag with these clever tweaks

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Few want to admit it, but the countdown to Christmas has begun. And after missing out last year, many of us are planning to welcome family and friends into our homes — and so come the inevitable thoughts of a kitchen revamp.

A new kitchen costs from £4,000, according to a survey by RatedPeople, but, of course, the options are endless, from bespoke, hand-crafted creations to High Street offerings. Or, with a few clever tweaks, you can create a new-look kitchen yourself, without the price tag.

‘The kitchen is the heart of the home,’ says Seb Bishop, chief executive of tableware store Summerill & Bishop.

Heart of the home: A new kitchen costs from £4,000, according to a survey by RatedPeople, but with a few clever tweaks, you can create a new-look, without the price tag

Heart of the home: A new kitchen costs from £4,000, according to a survey by RatedPeople, but with a few clever tweaks, you can create a new-look, without the price tag

‘It’s a place where you can sit with loved ones, mull over decisions, share your day and put the world to rights. There has never been a more appropriate time to embrace this.’

Doors to the future 

Changing the doors on your kitchen units gives a quick yet dramatic update. A ream of cool new companies has sprung up to offer new cupboard fronts designed to fit existing carcasses, from Norfolk-based Naked Kitchens to South London company Pluck and Wood & Wire, based in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire.

A cheaper option is a lick of paint. If you have wooden doors, sanding them down to repaint is relatively easy; for acrylic cabinets, try Rust-Oleum spray paint.

Moody lighting

Installing the right lighting is crucial to designing a successful scheme. It is helpful to build in different elements — spotlights, pendants and side lamps all enable you to vary the mood.

‘In the kitchen, where you might need a little more direct and focused lighting, inbuilt cabinet lights are a practical solution. 

They avoid overbearing glares, and you can still see what you’re doing,’ says George Miller, home designer at Neptune Fulham.

For a statement piece above a table or an island, Ochre has recently launched its Drifter pendant, made from recycled cricket bats (from £5,850, while Neptune has a range of table lamps, such as its Dalston design (£130).

Floor upgrade

Ripping up old vinyl is one of the first things people do when they embark on an upgrade, but then what? 

Sanding and varnishing floorboards is an inexpensive option if the boards are in good nick. If not, opt for a few coats of floor paint.

For cosiness, add a rug. ‘You can layer up by opting for multiple rugs in different finishes that overlap, for instance a woven rug paired with sheepskin,’ says Wil Law, home design stylist at John Lewis.

Choose one that’s easy to clean, such as the range from Weaver Green (made from recycled plastic bottles), for peace of mind (from £45).

Mind the tap

Changing the sink taps sounds like a small update, but it can be a room-altering decision. 

A new sink tap can change the look of your kitchen, without costing the earth

A new sink tap can change the look of your kitchen, without costing the earth

‘If your kitchen is clean and minimalist, go for a high-quality tap with a tarnished look in brass or brushed steel to add warmth and depth,’ advises Niki Brantmark, founder of the blog My Scandinavian Home. ‘Always go for the highest quality you can afford, as you use it all the time.’

For vintage taps, try waterandwood.co.uk, or Samuel Heath has a range from industrial to modern.

It’s not just the taps — upgrading all hardware from light switches to handles can make a big difference. Try Crofts & Assinder Bioko Cabinet Pull Handle (£18.30) or Ikea does a range of leather ones (£10 for two).

Set the table

Danish researchers found that eating at a table with a cloth on made people enjoy their food more.

‘From our 27 years of professionally laying the table, we know that this not only heightens the enjoyment of your meal, but also extends the time spent at the table,’ Bishop says.

Add circus fun with Summerill & Bishop Le Cirque Linen Tablecloth (£275) or try a washed linen tablecloth from H&M (£39.99). Layer up the scene with coordinated napkins, plates and glassware.

What your home needs is a… pleated lampshade 

Next stocks the Laura Ashley Helmsley range (pictured), ( £40 to £50, next.co.uk)

Next stocks the Laura Ashley Helmsley range (pictured), ( £40 to £50, next.co.uk)

Sometimes the emergence of a trend can be puzzling. Pleated lampshades are a case in point. They may be pretty, but they do require a lot of dusting.

A pleated lampshade (also known as shirred or gathered) is an easy way to soften the décor of a room at little expense — which is the reason why your home needs one.

Wilko has a pink velvet shade for £20, for example. 

At The Range, you can find a grey lamp and shade for £27.99. 

Next stocks the Laura Ashley Helmsley range in blush pink, cream, crimson red, dove grey, ochre, sage green and silver (£40 to £50).

John Lewis offers the Lymington lampshade in blush, grey or navy (£40 to £45).

But this is also a chance to bring some print into your interior. Shades bearing the Indonesian ikat pattern cost from £29 to £138 at Pooky.  

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Former US presidential candidate Bob Dole dies aged 98

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Bob Dole, the long-time Kansas senator who was the Republican nominee for president in 1996, has died from lung cancer. In a statement, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, founded by Dole’s wife, said: “It is with heavy hearts we announced that Senator Robert Joseph Dole died earlier this morning in his sleep. At his death at age 98 he had served the United States of America faithfully for 79 years.”

In late February, Dole announced that he had advanced lung cancer and would begin treatment. Visiting him, President Joe Biden called Dole his “close friend”.

On Sunday the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, like Biden a Democrat, ordered flags at the Capitol to be flown at half-staff.

Born in Russell, Kansas in 1923, Dole served in the US infantry in the second world war, suffering serious wounds in Italy and winning a medal for bravery.

His wounds cost him use of his right arm but he entered state politics and soon became a longtime Republican power-broker, representing Kansas in the US House of Representatives from 1961 to 1969 and in the Senate until 1996. He had spells as chairman of the Republican National Committee and as Senate minority and majority leader.

In 1976 he was the Republican nominee for vice-president to Gerald Ford, in an election the sitting president lost to Jimmy Carter. Two decades later, aged 73, Dole won the nod to take on Bill Clinton.

Against the backdrop of a booming economy, the Democrat won a second term with ease, by 379 – 159 in the electoral college and by nine points in the popular vote, the third-party candidate Ross Perot costing Dole support on the right.

Dole received both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest US civilian honours.

In the Trump years and after, Dole came widely to be seen as a figure from another time in Republican politics.

On Sunday, the political consultant Tara Setmeyer, a member of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, tweeted: “I cast my first ever vote for president for Bob Dole in 1996. A war hero with a sharp sense of humor ? another piece of a once respectable GOP gone.”

However, Dole remained a loyal Republican soldier, telling USA Today this summer that though Donald Trump “lost the election, and I regret that he did, but they did”, and though he himself was “sort of Trumped out”, he still considered himself “a Trumper”.

Dole called Biden “a great, kind, upstanding, decent person”, though he said he leaned too far left.

He also said: “I do believe [America has]lost something. I can’t get my hand on it, but we’re just not quite where we should be, as the greatest democracy in the world. And I don’t know how you correct it, but I keep hoping that there will be a change in my lifetime.”

On Sunday, Jaime Harrison, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, said: “Sending heartfelt condolences and prayers to the family of Senator Bob Dole. We honor his service and dedication to the nation. May he Rest In Peace.”

– Guardian

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Bournemouth is the most popular coastal town for buyers, says Rightmove

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The most popular seaside location for house hunters this year has been Bournemouth, new research has revealed.   

Rightmove identified the top ten most in-demand coastal areas in Britain, based on the highest number of buyer enquiries via its website.

The Dorset resort is the most popular, followed by Southampton, Hampshire and Brighton, East Sussex, with the South coast dominating the list. 

Rightmove has identified the top ten most in-demand coastal areas in Britain

Rightmove has identified the top ten most in-demand coastal areas in Britain

The top ten list also includes Blackpool, Lancashire – a coastal resort known for its amusement arcades and donkey rides – where prices have increased 8 per cent in the past year to £137,301.

It compares to the average house price in the top 10 locations, which rose 6 per cent this year. 

It is just ahead of the national average rise of 5 per cent, from £318,188, to £333,037. These figures are based on an average between January and November 2020 compared to January-November 2021. 

At the same time, Rightmove provided a list of coastal locations that have seen the biggest increases in house prices this year.

Padstow in Cornwall topped that list of coastal hotspots, with prices rising 20 per cent this year, from from £548,382, to £658,588.

The most popular seaside location for house hunters is Bournemouth (pictured), according to Rightmove

The most popular seaside location for house hunters is Bournemouth (pictured), according to Rightmove

AVERAGE ASKING PRICES IN COASTAL HOTSPOTS 2021
Rank Location Average asking price 2021 Average asking price 2020 Average asking price increase 2021 vs 2020
1 Padstow, Cornwall £658,588 £548,382 20%
2 Whitby, North Yorkshire £254,218 £217,620 17%
3 St. Ives, Cornwall £473,161 £411,484 15%
4 Porthcawl, South Glamorgan, Bridgend (County of) £307,051 £270,505 14%
5 Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire £173,612 £153,140 13%
6 Newquay, Cornwall £317,846 £281,204 13%
7 Filey, North Yorkshire £214,617 £189,914 13%
8 Pwllheli, Gwynedd £222,607 £197,213 13%
9 Brixham, Devon £299,127 £266,604 12%
10 Preston, Paignton, Devon £303,684 £272,029 12%
Source: Rightmove       

It was followed by Whitby, in North Yorkshire, which came second, with prices rising 17 per cent from £217,620, to £254,218. 

Cornwall’s St. Ives is in third place, with average values rising 15 per cent from £411,484 to £473,161.

A house with a good sea view and location will cost you, as it will probably be worth at least 40 per cent more than the equivalent inland, if not more.

Robin Gould – Prime Purchase 

Robin Gould, director of buying agency Prime Purchase, says: ‘Many people love the idea of living beside the sea, even more so since the pandemic struck and we have all been spending more time outside. 

‘However, a house with a good sea view and location will cost you, as it will probably be worth at least 40 per cent more than the equivalent inland, if not more. 

‘A frontline house is arguably worth 30 per cent more than one immediately behind it.

‘I recently bought a “frontline” house near Polzeath in north Cornwall for a client, which was right on the cliff top with stunning coastal and sea views.  

‘Although the house itself was very “vanilla”, most people would have forgiven it anything to have that ever-changing, interesting view.’

Also among the most popular coastal locations for homebuyers is Brighton (pictured)

Also among the most popular coastal locations for homebuyers is Brighton (pictured)

QUICKEST COASTAL MARKETS TO FIND A BUYER
Rank Location Average asking price 2021 Average time to find a buyer 2021 (days) Change in time to find a buyer 2021 vs 2020 (days)
1 Saltcoats, Ayrshire £111,419 19 -35
2 Troon, Ayrshire £178,666 22 -8
3 Westward Ho, Bideford, Devon £297,138 24 -46
4 Ayr, Ayrshire £161,301 25 -15
5 Kessingland, Lowestoft, Suffolk £219,538 25 -22
6 Littlehampton, West Sussex £364,180 26 -28
7 Goring-By-Sea, Worthing, West Sussex £396,078 26 -23
8 Marske-By-The-Sea, Redcar, Cleveland £181,882 28 -15
9 Canvey Island, Essex £308,261 28 -23
10 Weymouth, Dorset £283,585 29 -25
Source: Rightmove       

The red hot property market this year has translated into the time it takes to find a buyer hitting a record low number of days.

The average time find a buyer across the whole of 2021 is 44 days, 15 days quicker than the average in 2020.

Saltcoats in Ayrshire is this year’s quickest coastal location to find a buyer, at 19 days on average.

Troon in Ayrshire came second at 22 days, and Westward Ho, in Bideford, Devon was third at 24 days.

Calshot beach was included as Southampton, which features in the top ten most in-demand coastal areas in Britain

Calshot beach was included as Southampton, which features in the top ten most in-demand coastal areas in Britain

THE INCREASE IN COASTAL SEARCHES IN 2021
Rank Location Average asking price Increase in searches 2021 vs 2020
1 Morecambe, Lancashire £164,424 32%
2 Blackpool, Lancashire £137,301 21%
3 Great Yarmouth, Norfolk £194,066 15%
4 Swansea, Wales £180,603 15%
5 Saltburn-By-The-Sea, Cleveland £227,611 15%
6 Southampton, Hampshire £249,053 14%
7 Llandudno, Conwy (County of) £235,316 13%
8 Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire, South West Wales £319,587 12%
9 Southport, Merseyside £215,838 12%
10 Scarborough, North Yorkshire £191,879 12%
Source: Rightmove     

Meanwhile, Morecambe, Lancashire saw the biggest jump in coastal buyer searches compared to last year, up 32 per cent, followed by Blackpool, up 21 per cent, and Great Yarmouth, up 15 per cent.

Tim Bannister, of Rightmove, said: ‘After a year where coastal locations really captured the imagination of British buyers, it’s interesting to reflect on how the overall picture looks at the end of the year.

‘In terms of average asking price growth, homeowners in Cornwall and Devon are the real winners this year, with properties in some areas outpacing the national average, though this does mean that it is increasingly difficult for some locals to get onto the ladder.

‘The speed of this year’s market really is astounding, seen in the time to find a buyer in some areas, particularly in Scotland.

‘Overall, this has been the year that either through changed lifestyle priorities, or the ability to work remotely, living in coastal areas has become possible for more buyers, which is reflected in the data we’re seeing in this study.’

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UK to require all incoming international travellers to take Covid-19 test

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All international travellers arriving into the UK will be required to take a pre-departure Covid-19 test – while Nigeria is being added to the British government’s travel red list, British health secretary Sajid Javid has said.

Mr Javid said the government had decided to move after receiving new data about the spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant, which emerged in southern Africa.

“Since we have learned of this new variant our strategy has been to buy time. We have always said we will act swiftly should new data require it,” he told broadcasters on Saturday.

“Over recent days we have learned of a significant number of growing cases linked to travel with Nigeria.

“There are 27 cases already in England and that’s growing. Nigeria now is second only to South Africa in terms of linked cases to Omicron.”

Mr Javid said that the number of cases of Omicron in Britain had now risen to about 160.

Under the new rules, from 4am on Monday only British and Irish nationals travelling from Nigeria will be allowed into the UK and they must isolate in a government-managed quarantine hotel on arrival.

And from 4am on Tuesday, anyone travelling to the UK from countries not on the red list will be required to take a pre-departure Covid-19 test a maximum of 48 hours before leaving, regardless of their vaccination status. – PA/Reuters

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