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The trestle is back: Age-old tables add a charming touch to the home 

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Trestle tables have long been revered for their practical qualities. With legs that fold up and, traditionally, tops that can be removed and stored away, they have proved useful in conference hotels, wedding venues and such like.

But increasingly they are holding their own in homes as permanent and versatile pieces of furniture.

An alternative to conventional dining room tables, they offer value for money, too. And when it comes to comfort, they punch above their weight by not having fixed legs, which can be restrictive for those seated closest to the corners.

A modern take: The Farringdon reclaimed wood table set, £1,079. Trestle tables are narrower than traditional dining room tables

A modern take: The Farringdon reclaimed wood table set, £1,079. Trestle tables are narrower than traditional dining room tables

They are also narrower than traditional dining room tables, meaning you don’t have to stretch so far to reach the salt and pepper, and making conversation that much easier and more intimate.

‘Trestle tables are timeless, solid and suit almost any interior style,’ say Jenna Choate-James and Mariana Ugarte, the design duo behind Interior Fox. ‘They add rustic charm to a country home, while working equally as well to add character in a modern or industrial-style house.’

In 2021, with more people than ever working from home, it could just be that trestle tables are being discovered as ideal options for home offices.

In the Middle Ages, they comprised little more than loose boards over trestle legs, but by the 16th century they had become more sturdy. 

Now, they consist of two or three supports linked by a longitudinal cross-member over which a tabletop is placed.

Sharing lunch around a trestle table. The designs are are al reach the salt and pepper

Sharing lunch around a trestle table. When it comes to comfort, they punch above their weight by not having fixed legs, which can be restrictive for those seated closest to the corners

‘The architect Pugin – who worked on the Palace of Westminster – was responsible for a big revival of trestle tables by giving them extra supporting struts,’ says John Cornall, of John Cornall Antiques, near Warwick. 

‘And in America, they are often known as ‘harvest tables’ because they would have been taken into the fields at harvest time.’ 

Mr Cornall is a trestle table enthusiast, selling a range costing from £850.

There are scenes in The Godfather movies showing whole villages having dinner outside, seated on long trestle tables. Conviviality is their hallmark.

‘The large and long surface areas of trestle tables mean not only are they perfect for big gatherings, they are also practical enough for working from home and home schooling,’ says Deirdre McGettrick, founder and CEO of ufurnish.com.

Their lightweight design lends a sense of openness to a room, which is ideal for smaller spaces, and a fold-up one can easily be moved or stored.

‘Some of the more contemporary options provide storage space via flat shelving or drawers,’ says Nadia McCowan Hill, Wayfair’s style advisor. 

‘And trestle legs in cheerful hues add a splash of colour to a workspace.’

Paul Deckland, buying director at The Cotswold Company, adds: ‘They are brilliant for busy family homes due to their effortless, sturdy and timeless design and longer length.’

The Cotswold Company has a range of trestle tables, including its Ellwood Charcoal design with painted legs and washed oak tops (priced from £499). 

And Tikamoon is selling a trestle-legged table, which seats 12, made from recycled teak (£999). Its height can be adjusted and you can also remove the top.

‘Many people will remember trestle tables from their village halls,’ says Sharon Buchsbaum from Antiques Affair, based in Sheffield. ‘You could fold them up, but they were heavy. They’ve come a long way since then.’

More importantly, they’ve come a long way since their medieval heyday.

Bringing a combination of Tudor decadence, Puginist refinement and American harvests into the home is no bad thing.

What your home really needs is… a palm print 

Wayfair has an elegant set of three prints in black frames featuring palm trees and a pineapple (£73.99, wayfair.co.uk)

Wayfair has an elegant set of three prints in black frames featuring palm trees and a pineapple (£73.99, wayfair.co.uk)

Palm trees are a symbol of exoticism and escape to distant shores, which is why they were one of the favourite wallpaper motifs in wealthy 18th-century homes.

These associations are even stronger today, when we all want a little escape from the monotony of being stuck indoors. A palm print in the home is a reminder that lazy days on a beach will come again.

You could choose the hot-house glamour of the Palmeral wallpaper from House of Hackney (starting at £125 per roll, houseof hackney.com). 

But if other members of your household are unsure about such a profusion of vegetation, try three prints hung in a gallery wall arrangement.

Wayfair has an elegant set of three prints in black frames featuring palm trees and a pineapple (£73.99, wayfair.co.uk). While the designs at Iamfy are more Los Angeles than English manor house (unframed, from £13, iamfy.co).

At Dunelm (dunelm.com) a framed palm print costs just £8, a tiny price to keep your holiday dream alive.

Anne Ashworth

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Could equity release be used to help more younger homebuyers?

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Younger first-time buyers could be given more financial help from the Bank of Grandma and Grandad, through the use of improved equity release products, a new report suggests.

The document written by Tom McPhail, of consultancy The Lang Cat, claimed that younger buyers are missing out because older members of their family are unable to satisfactorily tap into their property wealth.

Mr McPhail said: ‘Releasing some of the equity in a property means older homeowners can choose when and how they share their wealth with younger generations.

‘An equity release by grandparents of say £20,000 now, could be transformational for a 20 something struggling to raise a deposit and get on the housing ladder but would make only a very modest dent to the value of the grandparent’s house.’

Releasing some of the equity in a property means older homeowners can choose when and how they share their wealth with younger generations, says new report

Releasing some of the equity in a property means older homeowners can choose when and how they share their wealth with younger generations, says new report

The report acknowledged that equity release has endured a poor reputation in the past after customers suffered ‘severe’ financial knocks.

The sector has been criticised for encouraging people to take on debt, particularly later on in life.

There has also been other concerns about equity release, such as customers falling into negative equity where the value of a property is less than the loan taken out against it when house prices fall.

The report suggested that while the equity release sector has since begun to put ‘its house in order’, it is ‘still not perfect’ and some regulatory safeguards need to be strengthened.

It called for several issues to be looked at, including early redemption charges on equity release products.

It said that most providers apply a simple sliding scale of charges, for example 10 per cent in year on to 1 per cent in year 10.

However, it claimed that some providers apply an early redemption charge based on prevailing gilt rates at that time, putting customers at an ‘unfair disadvantage’.

This is because the fees are not transparent as there is no way a customer can know in advance whether they’d be liable for a charge and if so, how much. 

In the past, customers have also fallen foul of the small print on their equity release loans when it comes to early-redemption penalties – such as couples who must pay an exit fee unless both of them need to go into care.

The report also raised questions about interest rates on equity release products. It said providers should be consistent with their lending criteria and not move the goalposts after customers have taken out a loan, as this can make it harder for them to access a top-up loan in the future, potentially forcing them to remortgage. 

Equity release products could help people access their property wealth to help younger members of their family onto the property ladder

Equity release products could help people access their property wealth to help younger members of their family onto the property ladder

The report argued that equity release products could help people access their property wealth to help younger members of their family onto the property ladder.

Mr McPhail added: ‘Raising a deposit has become an increasingly significant barrier to getting on the housing ladder, with increasing numbers of first-time buyers having to rely on financial help from older generations.

‘Releasing some of the equity in a property allows older homeowners to choose when and how they share their wealth with the younger generation.

‘This more targeted approach gives them greater control to use their assets to the maximum benefit at the point of need.’

Raising a deposit is a barrier to getting on the housing ladder, with increasing numbers of first-time buyers having to rely on financial help from older generations, says the report's author Tom McPhail

Raising a deposit is a barrier to getting on the housing ladder, with increasing numbers of first-time buyers having to rely on financial help from older generations, says the report’s author Tom McPhail

Equity release: How it works and advice

To help readers considering equity release, This is Money has partnered with Age Partnership+, independent advisers who specialise in retirement mortgages and equity release. 

Age Partnership+ compares deals across the whole of the market and their advisers can help you work out whether equity release is right for you – or whether there are better options, such as downsizing. 

Age Partnership+ advisers can also see if those with existing equity release deals can save money by switching. 

You can compare equity release rates and work out how much you could potentially borrow with This is Money’s new calculator powered by broker Age Partnership+.* 

 * Partner link

Jonathan Harris, of mortgage broker Forensic Property Finance, said: ‘Equity release has historically been viewed as a ‘murky’, high-risk sector, fuelled by minimal regulation, poorly-qualified advisers, only a handful of lenders and extortionately high interest rates.

‘Fast forward to today and we see a dramatically transformed sector, benefiting from strict regulation, highly-qualified advisers, multiple lenders and access to very competitive interest rates. 

‘Not surprisingly, equity release is now a viable and growing market for older borrowers looking to utilise the gains seen on property prices to bolster lifestyles, as well as pass on wealth to children when they need it.

‘Those considering equity release should make sure they understand the implications and involve family in any decision-making. It is always important to seek advice from suitably-qualified advisers.’

It comes as a separate report by Legal & General suggested that one in every £90 spent by retired Britons is funded by equity release.

It said that equity release funded an estimated £3billion in retirement spending last year, although it didn’t mentioned the money going to younger generations towards buying a property.

Instead, the report’s survey of 2,000 homeowners found that those with equity release have most frequently used the product to finance home improvements, at 26 per cent.

It said equity release is also being used to support costs such as medical expenses at 17 per cent, maintaining living standards in retirement at 16 per cent, and paying off personal debt at 16 per cent, for example paying off interest-only mortgages. 

It suggested that equity release is likely to play an increasingly important role in financing care-related expenses, with 19 per cent of prospective homeowners citing it as a consideration.

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Allianz Real Estate buys prime office building in Rome (IT)

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Allianz Real Estate, advised by Dils, has acquired an office property in the centre of Rome. The transaction, worth circa €175m, is one of the most important to have been carried out on the real estate market in Rome in recent years.

 

The building, consisting of eleven storeys, comprising nine above-ground and two underground, has a gross lettable area of circa 22,000m² and has undergone a major refurbishment, offering the highest environmental sustainability and energy efficiency standards (LEED Gold Certification). The strategic location, between the CBD and Termini Station, is enjoying great success, especially among corporate occupiers. 

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NCC sells Valby office scheme (DK)

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NCC is selling Kontorværket 1 office project in Valby, Copenhagen to Industriens Pension. The building will become biotech company Genmab’s new headquarters and will meet high environmental standards for both the building and the area. The transaction will be conducted as a company divestment, based on an underlying property value of approximately €81.9m (SEK875m). Transfer of the project and payment of the purchase consideration is expected to result in a positive earnings effect in the NCC Property Development business area in the first quarter of 2023.

 

“We are now selling Kontorværket 1, the first phase of our development project in Valby in the central parts of Copenhagen. Here we have developed property with an optimal infrastructure and appealing architecture, and I am pleased that Industriens Pension is now taking over,” said Joachim Holmberg, Business Area Manager, NCC Property Development.

 

Kontorværket 1 encompasses 16,000m² of lettable area and also includes a basement featuring a parking garage next to the building, with space for 280 vehicles and facilities for parking bicycles.

 

“This is an attractive and future-proof office property, located in an area with very good infrastructure, a motorway, a nearby metro and S-train station. The 15-year lease with Genmab fits well with our strategy as a long-term owner, and we expect the property to contribute a stable return for our members for many years to come. We look forward to welcoming Genmab’s experts in biotechnology,” said Soren Tang Kristensen, Head of Real Estate Investments, Industriens Pension.

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