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Minute makeovers: There’s still time to refresh your home decor before Christmas

Voice Of EU



Makeovers in minutes: There’s still time to give your home a facelift before Christmas visitors arrive

  • December is no time to start a big renovation project
  • However, there are plenty of quick-fix solutions to spruce up your home
  • Here are seven top tips to give your space a quick new look 

December is no time to start big interiors projects. 

But if you are pining to give your home a facelift before visitors descend, we have the answers on some of the best quick-fix solutions.

Here are seven top tips for a new look, pronto.

Arty: A gallery wall can add interest to hallways, stairwells, living rooms, or bedrooms, fast

Arty: A gallery wall can add interest to hallways, stairwells, living rooms, or bedrooms, fast

Pile on the paint

With today’s improved technology, paint dries faster, so you won’t need to vacate a room for days on end. 

Designer Andrew Martin’s paint collection is touch-dry in just 20 minutes and can be recoated after an hour.

So whether you plan to paint a whole room or just a feature wall, you can start after breakfast and be done by the school run — if not before. 

The paint is 100 per cent water based and virtually odour free. When choosing colours, there are 114 shades inspired by travel and adventure. 

Among daring darks, there’s Mendoza Malbec and Japanese Kimono. If you’re inclined to go neutral, there’s Maasai Mist and Sussex Flint. From £31.

K.D. Loves has launched a collection of 'roompack' wicker hampers filled with matching pieces

K.D. Loves has launched a collection of ‘roompack’ wicker hampers filled with matching pieces

Ace accessories 

To brighten a drab room in a day, update your accessories. Instead of agonising over the right mix of colour and design, buy a ready-made bundle of accessories that complement one another.

K.D. Loves has created such a solution and launched a collection of ‘roompack’ wicker hampers filled with matching pieces. 

Its Salthouse roompack includes a fuchsia and orange marmalade lamp, fuchsia throw, two fuschia-striped cushions and two orange velvet cushions. Priced from £1,200.

Kitchen update

New door and drawer handles breathe new life into chests of drawers, sideboards, kitchen and bathroom cabinets.

Try the Adeline knotted handle in gold (£18, Anthropologie) or the Mother of Pearl brass handle. 

If you feel like splashing out, head to Buster + Punch for some slick designs such as the gunmetal pull bar (£42).

If you want to add colour and personality, try brightly painted ceramic knobs (from £8, Anthropologie).

Instant gallery

A gallery wall is a carefully curated display of photographs or prints arranged on a wall using photo frames. 

It’s the perfect way to add interest to hallways, stairwells, living rooms, or bedrooms, fast. Instead of spending hours spacing out each frame, buy a set.

At The White Company, each photo frame is numbered with a sticker that matches up to two printed templates to choose between. 

The guidelines mean you just need to align each frame (from £180).

If you’d prefer wall art to family photos, try the set of 12 Dera framed abstract prints at Oka (£395) or the Eva Watts Tropical Leaves framed prints (£140, John Lewis).

Speedy sofas

Need a new sofa fast? Plenty of brands offer ready-made sofas that you can have delivered within a few days.

At Sofa Workshop, its website promises that all in-stock sofas will be delivered within five to ten days of your order. 

And at Snug, all sofas are guaranteed to be delivered before Christmas. Crucially, they can be assembled in minutes and don’t require any tools.

Sumptuous bedding

With your bed as the focal point of a bedroom, it’s a good place to start for a fresh look.

Classic white sheets are always a crowd-pleaser. Try 600 thread count cotton bedding from Soak & Sleep (from £25).

Top with a luxurious quilt for a layer of indulgence. Oliver Bonas’s pink and green quilted velvet bedspread is a favourite (£125).

What your home needs is… fancy flutes 

Oka has a £60 set of four champagne flutes in sapphire blue

Oka has a £60 set of four champagne flutes in sapphire blue

Does champagne taste best drunk from a tall, narrow flute, or a broad-rimmed shallow coupe? 

It’s a bitterly divided issue which may never be satisfactorily agreed upon.

But, either way, your home needs some of these glasses to raise a toast to better times — be that a Pol Roger, award-winning Aldi or a prosecco.

If you want to splash out, Oka has a £60 set of four in sapphire blue while Waterford offers the Marquis Markham, a cut-glass style (£70 for four). 

The coupe’s design is claimed to have been inspired by the breasts of Marie Antoinette, but was, in fact, created more than a century before her birth.

Wolf & Badger has a £79 set of six, hand-engraved with a Victorian pattern.

Liberty has £27.50 set of two in smoked grey with a gold rim . If you fear breakages at a lively celebration, the Anyday set of four from John Lewis costs £15.


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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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