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How to transform your spare room into a Christmas treat for guests

Voice Of EU



Make room at the inn: With Christmas fast approaching, here’s how to transform your spare room into a chic retreat for festive guests

After an isolated, stay-at-home Christmas last year, most of us are relishing the chance to host visitors over the festive period. 

But for a stay to remember, it means transforming spare rooms into a chic sanctuary of sleep.

‘Finally, our spare rooms can be used as they are meant to — for our guests, rather than as a home office or dumping ground,’ says Hannah Walters, co-founder of online interiors site Charlested. 

‘We’re going the extra mile to make our spare rooms feel welcoming this year.’

Comfort and joy: Add a throw to create a cosy look and make a spare room more welcoming

Comfort and joy: Add a throw to create a cosy look and make a spare room more welcoming

Sweet dreams

Make the bed the star attraction, says James Thurstan Waterworth, who designed the Wiltshire boutique hotel The Bradley Hare. 

‘When designing a bedroom, the focal point should be the bed, it is the place you will inevitably spend the largest portion of your time,’ he says.

The mattress matters. A study on sleep quality published in SAGE Journals found ‘mattress and pillows were really high up on the list of sleep satisfaction.’

Dr Rebecca Robbins, who co-authored the study and who is a sleep expert to upmarket bed maker Savoir, says: ‘People tend to overlook the mattress when designing a spare room, ultimately though, you want your guests to have a wonderful night’s sleep,’

Try Savoir Nº4 UK Mattress from £4,910 or topper from £2,905 (

A Welsh tapestry print patterned cushion by Gwenno Jones (£30)

A Welsh tapestry print patterned cushion by Gwenno Jones (£30)

Softly softly 

The cosy atmosphere can also come from soft furnishings.

‘A textured headboard brings a warm, welcome layer of softness and tactility to a bedroom,’ says Thurstan Waterworth.

Try Studio Trove’s Royére headboard (from £895) or the DIY blog Mano Mano has a tutorial for those wanting to try it at home.

Natural, super-soft throws spread at the bottom of the bed allow guests to cosy up. Try TOAST’s 100 per cent lambswool blanket (£95).

Add warmth with layers of textures using rugs, cushions and curtains.

‘Lots of cushions made from natural fibres — cottons and linens — will add gentle textures and a soothing quality so you feel like you’re being nurtured,’ says Lady Carole Bamford, co-founder of Daylesford.

The brand’s Quadrant cushion comes in a neutral check (£75) or choose a Welsh tapestry print pattern by maker Gwenno Jones (£30).

Richard Karegeya, one of the Savoy’s butlers dedicated to the Royal Suite recommends ‘blackout blinds to ensure the perfect environment for a restful sleep’. 

The online company have customisable blinds from £10.25.

Make sure guests can step out on to something warm. Try Pemberton Rug, a vintage-looking tonal pink rug with fringing which can be layered over floorboards or carpets (£165).

Fancy furniture

Don’t try to make all the furniture match. ‘I find pairing a modern bed with antique furnishings and accessories helps to build the homely environment needed for a guest room,’ says Thurstan Waterworth. 

You don’t need to fully furnish the room. If you don’t have space for a wardrobe, for example, a chair to place clothes on can double up. 

Try the Giulia Chair in a range of fabrics from (from £780).

Little luxuries

You can make guests feel cared for with thoughtful touches such as a lavender spray for the pillow or a cup of chamomile tea. 

Candles are also worth investing in. There’s a beautifully scented Christmas votive trio at Plum & Ashby.

Deborah Fiddy, founder of the nightwear brand Gingerlily, suggests laying out silk pyjamas on the pillow or a new silk robe hanging on the back of the door to make guests feel at home. 

What your home needs are… tea lights 

Warming: The White Company has ribbed glass gold holders, pictured, £6 (

Warming: The White Company has ribbed glass gold holders, pictured, £6 (

The tea light, a tiny candle in metal casing, evolved as part of the Japanese tea ceremony in the 9th century, keeping the teapots warm during these elaborate events.

In this country, the tea light is used to provide cheer at gatherings. A bag of 12 maxi tea lights costs £3.50 at Sainsbury’s, while for £9.99 you can buy a pack of eight of the battery-powered version from Lakeland — the safety-first choice.

Attractive holders are also inexpensive which is why your home needs some now: it is this column’s mission to enliven long winter evenings. 

Liberty’s has glass holders in 12 colours for £7.20 each while The White Company has ribbed glass gold holders for £6.

House-shaped tea light holders are a thing this season. At Asda, you can buy a set of three in cream, grey and yellow for £12 while, for the same price, Habitat supplies a larger house in green. 

Not On The High Street offers six styles of Amsterdam canal house at £17.50 each. 

The £50 pair of Vera Wang glass holders with silver bows from Wedgwood would be a gift for newly-weds.


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Irish chief-of-staff meets Russian ambassador to discuss defence issues

Voice Of EU



The Russian ambassador to Ireland Yury Filatov and the Chief of Defence Staff Lieut Gen Seán Clancy have met to discuss armed contacts between the two countries.

The meeting took place on Friday at the Russian embassy in Orwell Road, Dublin.

It was announced in a tweet from the embassy on Friday evening: “On January 21 the Ambassador of #Russia to #Ireland Y.Filatov met with the Member of the Chief of Defence Staff of Ireland S.Clancy.

“Parties discussed the issues of Russia-Ireland relations and international agenda, as well as prospects of contacts between (the) armed forces of (the) two countries.”

In response the Department of Defence said the meeting was a “routine courtesy call”.

A spokeswoman added: “As the recently appointed Chief of Staff, it is normal for foreign ambassadors to pay routine courtesy calls. This is one of a series of meetings. Such meetings are a matter for the chief of staff, not the minister. There is no ongoing military cooperation with Russia and there is no intention to do so.”

A spokesman for the Minister for Defence Simon Coveney has not responded yet to the tweet.

Live fire exercise

Independent TD Cathal Berry said he believed the meeting has to do with a proposed naval exercise that the Russian navy intends to undertake in February.

The live firing exercise will happen 240km off the Irish coast outside Irish territorial waters, but within the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The Irish Aviation Authority has sent a notification to air traffic control in Ireland stating that the live firing exercises will take place between February 3rd and 8th and between 5am and 3pm on those days. The area in question is off the southwest coast.

The IAA states that “pursuant to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)annexs 11,15 and for safety of air traffic in the area you are kindly requested to issue international notam (a notice to airmen) to temporarily close above area for flights from surface to 11,000 metres”.

Dr Berry, a former army ranger, said the live firing exercise, while being legal, is a “warning to Ireland that we are military weak”.

He believed it was designed as an international provocation as it is close to flight paths and underwater submarine cables.

The Irish talks took place while negotiations ended between Russia and the United States in Geneva without agreement.

There are fears that Russia will invade Ukraine after Moscow massed tens of thousands of troops at the border, while the west has ramped up supplies of weapons to Kyiv.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov met for about 90 minutes in Geneva at what the American diplomat said was a “critical moment”. Expectations had been low going in, and there was no breakthrough.

Mr Blinken told Mr Lavrov the US would give Russia written responses to Moscow’s proposals next week, and suggested the two would likely meet again shortly after that – offering some hope that any invasion would be delayed for at least a few more days.

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British Land unveils London Exchange Square scheme (GB)

Voice Of EU



British Land reveals the opening of its new 1.5-acre Exchange Square located at Broadgate in the City of London. Designed by architects DSDHA, the park quadruples the amount of green space at Broadgate and creates a new outdoor space for workers and the wider community to enjoy in the capital. Exchange Square is now open to the public and includes 420m² of lawned areas, an exciting mix of planting and trees within its gardens, an amphitheatre with plenty of seating, and new retail and event space.


It aims to blend nature with the energy of London and promote the physical and emotional wellbeing of people who live and work in the local area. As spring approaches, the park will become a haven for workers looking to enjoy high-quality outdoor spaces when working from the office, and for the local community to enjoy a range of plants and biodiversity. The park’s range of planting is maintained by Exchange Square’s Head Gardener and is expected to be a popular choice for workers looking to make the most of premium outdoor space.


Health and wellbeing form a vital part of the €1.8bn (£1.5bn) investment in Broadgate to create an environment that brings people together to work, shop, drink and dine. Research commissioned by British Land shows that putting good design at the heart of urban development could lead to substantial improvement in peoples’ mental health, which would result in substantial economic rewards.


David Lockyer, Head of Campuses, British Land said: “As we start the New Year, Exchange Square aims to create an accessible, sustainable and better-quality place for workers and residents in the community in 2022 and beyond. Broadgate has undergone a significant transformation as a mixed-use destination that appeals to everyone. We hope that by creating a new outdoor area filled with green space, it allows visitors to find a tranquil place within a busy capital.”


Matthew Webster, Head of Environmental, British Land, said: “Exchange Square is a brilliant addition to London’s green spaces, and has a unique position within the City of London. Creating opportunities for people to encounter nature as part of their daily lives boosts wellbeing and productivity. This new, green space has been designed to enhance both physical and mental health in a variety of ways – through providing an area for tranquillity, opportunities for social interaction or through encouraging and making it easy for people to visit and move through the space.”


Deborah Saunt, Founding Director of DSDHA, said: “With Exchange Square, we are delighted to see the culmination of our Public Realm Framework for Broadgate, which has already enhanced and better connected the open spaces of Broadgate Circle, Broadgate Plaza and Finsbury Avenue Square. Our ambition for this new park was to create a landscape that nurtures both plants and people through retrofitting nature into the heart of the City, breaking down perceived barriers to the surrounding areas, and offering a space that provides opportunities for both recuperation and recreation.”

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Paint colour of 2022 is a deep purple called Very Peri

Voice Of EU



Purple may not have graced our homes much since the psychedelic era of the 1970s, but all is set to change this year.

That is, at least, if we decide to follow Pantone’s recommendation. The world’s leading colour trend forecaster has controversially selected Very Peri, a shade inspired by the deep violet blue of the periwinkle flower, as the colour of 2022.

It may seem like an odd choice when we’re still embracing muted tones and understated interiors. 

But Pantone’s annual colour choices wield huge influence with fabric and paint manufacturers and also among interior designers keen to deliver the latest looks.

Love it or loathe it: Pantone¿s colour of the year Very Peri is inspired by the deep violet blue of the periwinkle flower

Love it or loathe it: Pantone’s colour of the year Very Peri is inspired by the deep violet blue of the periwinkle flower

Pantone says Very Peri embodies ‘carefree confidence and a daring curiosity’. Such assertions are another reason why some interior designers will not be recommending Very Peri. 

One remarked: ‘None of my clients would want purple in their homes, especially in the corner that they’ve set aside for their desk.’

Others are more positive, praising its effectiveness in almost any space.

Andrew Dunning, of London Contemporary, says that it represents a further move away from the Elephant’s Breath, the mid-grey Farrow & Ball paint that held sway in interiors in the early years of this century.

As a champion of the deft use of patterned wallpapers and brighter colours, Dunning considers Very Peri to be warm rather than chilly, particularly if furnishing fabric companies produce a lush velvet in the shade.

‘People have been scared of colour, but I think Very Peri could work well in a ‘wow’ piece like an accent armchair upholstered in the shade,’ he says. ‘It’s also an option for a cloakroom, a smaller place in the home in which you can be more audacious.’

Beth Travers, of Bobo1325, a Manchester design business, also argues that we should lower our resistance to the colour purple. 

Its historic links with royalty endow the colour with ‘luxury, power and nobility’. Since Very Peri is a blue tone of purple, Travers believes it can be ‘relaxing and soothing’.

Paula Taylor, of Graham & Brown, the paint company whose range includes the purple-blue Tanzanite, also thinks going bold could bring decor dividends.

Sitting pretty: Tresor Stool in Very Peri, to order at

Sitting pretty: Tresor Stool in Very Peri, to order at

‘Our Tanzanite used in a hallway would make visitors feel reassured and joyful. In a living room, it would be crisp but comforting, especially when teamed with one of our soft-whites, such as Baked Cheesecake, for a more timeless effect.’

The warm reception to Very Peri — in some quarters at least — could indicate that the shade will become an important part of the rise of blues and greens, a movement that began this year.

Simone Suss, of Studio Suss, a London design business, says this is connected to the wish to bring nature into our homes.

Such is the growing demand to introduce more elements of the great outdoors in the interior that more housebuilders will be prioritising ‘biophilic’ elements in their developments next year.

‘I am always inspired by the natural world,’ says Suss. ‘ I think biophilic design will be key in 2022.’ 

The other shades vying for supremacy in 2022 include Dulux’s selection Bright Skies, an airy blue that aims to inspire hope. Dulux recommends several palettes to accompany Bright Skies such as Greenhouse.

This array of blues and greens encompasses Fresh Foliage and Calming Meadow.

Breakfast Room Green, a cheery tone ideal for kitchens, and Stone Blue, a light indigo, are among the five shades that Farrow & Ball is tipping as the colours of 2022. 

The company is also backing the elegant School House White, along with Incarnadine, a dramatic crimson, and Babouche, a sunny yellow.

F&B senses people are ready to step outside their comfort zone which could augur well for Very Peri. 

But, in the short term, this shade seems less likely to suddenly explode than to be seen in small touches, such as Dark Flowers, a £23.95 poster print featuring sultry purple blooms from Desenio and purple cushions, such as the £25 cotton velvet cushion from Cotswold Company.

Loaf’s Joelle £2,345 19th-century style bed is available with a purple headboard for those who aspire to a more formal, almost regal setting after the pared-down aesthetic of the past two decades. But experimenting with Very Peri does not necessarily mean a break with the past.

It can look smart with any shade of beige or grey. Going with purple requires confidence. It will be interesting to see what’s in store for Very Peri over the next 12 months.

Savings of the week! Draught excluders 

William Morris print excluders from Lancashire company ReddandGoud come in different sizes

William Morris print excluders from Lancashire company ReddandGoud come in different sizes

The draught excluder, a long sausage-shaped pillow placed at the foot of a door, is a low-tech, planet-friendly means of staying cosy indoors.

This utilitarian item seems to inspire creativity among designers meaning that you can have warmth, plus aesthetic appeal. 

Low-cost options include the Kaia from The Range in charcoal, reduced from £11.99 to £10.99 and the Plush Bear in mustard at £5.59, down from £6.99. 

Not On The High Street’s cheery blue and red plaid version, pictured left, is reduced from £22 to £11.

The Snap Croc from Dora, a mid-price option, is down from £32 to £9.60. 

It resembles a crocodile whose aggression focuses on warding off chills. Wayfair’s Emmett excluder, with its prints of bees and ladybirds, reduced from £28.99 to £26.99 would lift any decor.

If you want to splash out, William Morris print excluders from Lancashire company ReddandGoud come in different sizes. The widest (99cm) is £40.80, from £48.

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