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Turn on the style: Taps may be functional but they can transform a room

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When it comes to the humble water tap, we’ve never had so much choice. This essential, functional object is often overlooked.

But to do so is to miss a design trick, as an oversized spout, a striking colour or an unusual finish can lend a contemporary edge to a bathroom or kitchen with minimal effort.

‘It’s easy to get into a tap rut of chrome,’ says interior designer Rita Konig. ‘But I think taps are a great way to up your look. You can get away with paying less for your bath and basin if you invest in good taps.’

Splash out: Piccadilly slipper bath, £499, Freestanding mixer tap, £129.99, Bathroom Mountain

Splash out: Piccadilly slipper bath, £499, Freestanding mixer tap, £129.99, Bathroom Mountain

A small touch can make a big difference as anyone who has washed their hands under the swan taps at the Ritz in Paris will concur. The first decision to make when beginning your tap design journey is whether to go classic or contemporary.

A touch of class

Classic brassware undoubtedly adds a touch of class to a bathroom or kitchen and is still popular.

Pillar taps are for diehard traditionalists: the designs lend themselves to small basins so they can still be found in cloakrooms. 

The Burlington Claremont chrome 3 in basin taps CL1 have traditional crossheads (that’s the cross handle you twist) and are good quality and reasonable (£109.88, victorianplumbing.co.uk).

Purists can purchase original vintage taps from waterandwood.co.uk where a pair of large brass bath taps is about £245.

Classic designs can be cleverly incorporated in modern ways. The black ceramic handles on Catchpole & Rye’s polished brass wall mounted swan basin mixer with La Fontaine taphead feel luxurious and bling (£696); and the fabulous Lefroy Brooks Belle Air bath mixer in chrome are inspired by 1950s American automobiles.

The mixer crosshead taps, with ceramic finish and elegant telephone receiver-shaped showerhead, are still a design classic. 

Crosswater’s Belgravia crosshead bath shower mixer kit BL42DDC, in chrome or unlacquered brass are a safe option (from £430, victorianplumbing.co.uk).

The trend for brass and copper taps is running through to the kitchen where it can be mixed with dark granite or light quartz.

You can’t beat a swan neck for elegance; try the Fortuna Bronze tap from Wren Kitchens (£159, wrenkitchens.com) or the Butler & Rose Elizabeth twin lever traditional mono kitchen mixer in antique copper (£99.99, tapwarehouse.com).

Neptune’s Bamburgh chrome and enamel swan-necked kitchen tap is a smart choice for those not embracing the copper trend (£220, neptune.com).

Contemporary cool

Straying from the traditional shape and colour of taps is a great way to jazz things up.

‘Minimalist matte black taps are growing in popularity for those who are looking for a sleek modern feel,’ says Darren Watts, design director of Wren Kitchens.

A matt black tap paired with a stainless-steel sink will pack a punch (Perla Black tap £139, wrenkitchens.com).

The king of coloured taps is Danish brand Vola, which has an array of 27 shades. Team the pink 590V-25 deck mounted mixer and a fun bowl to brighten up a guest loo (£914.40, en.vola.com).

Pretty in pink: The Vola 590V tap and bowl from Denmark adds a very colourful twist

Pretty in pink: The Vola 590V tap and bowl from Denmark adds a very colourful twist

Wall-mounted taps are increasingly popular in kitchens and bathrooms as they free up space.

The two-handled Arezzo brass, wall-mounted 3TH bath tap looks fab on blush-pink tiles (£169, victorian plumbing.co.uk).

A high-end industrial design aesthetic can be achieved with a four-hole deck-mounted set such as Grohe’s Essence single-lever bath mixer in warm sunset (£1,332.92, grohe.co.uk).

A more feminine twist can be created with West One Bathroom’s brushed brass 5th Avenue industrial 3-hole wall-mounted basin mixer (£792, westonebathrooms.com).

The monobloc tap, where everything is incorporated in one tap and all you do is lift and twist, is in demand. Orchard Derwent’s water basin mixer sends the water out in a waterfall (£31.99, victoriaplum.com).

Lusso Luxe’s silk matt white monobloc mixer tap looks striking when teamed with dark colours (£140, lussostone.com).

For those with deep pockets the latest kitchen trend is the boiling water tap, which provides instant hot water. 

Quooker’s Fusion Square is a square tap (from £1,350, quooker.co.uk). A cheaper option is the matt black swan-necked Vellamo Cappa 3-in-1 (£629, tap warehouse.com).

The quest for the perfect tap is not difficult; finding a compliant plumber however may be more of a challenge… 

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Tetchy Tánaiste stirs the Stormont pot

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Some of the most petulant reaction to the latest protocol row has come from Fine Gael, which may explain unwise comments on direct rule and a Border poll from Leo Varadkar.

Speaking at a Co-operation North event in Dublin on Tuesday night, the Tánaiste said direct rule was not a viable long-term alternative to devolution. If Stormont is not restored quickly other options must be considered, with the best forum to do so being the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (BIIGC) of the Belfast Agreement.

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Tiny one-room flat with BATH in the lounge and kitchen by the bed is up for rent at £1,000-a-month

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Tiny one-room flat with BATH in the lounge and kitchen just few feet away from the bed goes up for rent for £1,000-a-month in London

  • A cramped studio flat that is up for rent in south London is so small it has a bath located in the lounge
  • The property, that is in the ‘highly sought after’ Wimbledon area, has a bed only feet away from the kitchen
  • Renters will have to fork out over £1,000-a-month to live in the odd space, though bills are included

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A tiny studio flat has been mocked because it costs over £1,000-a-month to rent and the bath is located in the lounge.

While the bed is found only feet away from the kitchen area, with a giant telly on the wall.

The south London property is on the market to rent for an eye-watering amount considering its size.

The bath is right by the back door leading out to a small private area on a patio garden.

The listing states that it has been ‘designed to maximise the space available’ and adds that the bathroom has ‘been cleverly designed to be fully hidden from view’, but this appears just to be a shower curtain.

A compact studio flat in Wimbledon is charging more than £1,000 a month for the luxury of having a bath in the lounge (pictured)

A compact studio flat in Wimbledon is charging more than £1,000 a month for the luxury of having a bath in the lounge (pictured)

The property's bed is located just feet away from the 'Kitchenette area', which boasts a microwave and kettle

The property’s bed is located just feet away from the ‘Kitchenette area’, which boasts a microwave and kettle

The flat has a 'self contained pied-a-tierre' (pictured) with a small table and two chairs

The flat has a ‘self contained pied-a-tierre’ (pictured) with a small table and two chairs

The flat in upmarket Wimbledon Village will cost lodgers £1,150 per month – or £265 per week – to live in it.

Bills are included within the rental and there is a secure parking space available.

One home hunter fumed: ‘London cost of living is so disgusting that you pay £1,150 per month to rent a bath in a bed/kitchen as advertised on Rightmove today.

‘Living in a decent home is an essential and fundamental basic human right.

‘It shouldn’t be a privileged novelty.’

The letting agent said it would be ideal for someone to rent for the Wimbledon tennis tournament which starts next month.

The All England Tennis Club, where the grass championship is hosted, is just half a mile away.

A Twitter user bashed the listing, calling the price of the studio flat 'disgusting'

A Twitter user bashed the listing, calling the price of the studio flat ‘disgusting’

The listing says the flat is 'finished to an exceptional standard' and is available for short term rent

The listing says the flat is ‘finished to an exceptional standard’ and is available for short term rent

The toilet is found opposite to the bath and appears to have more than a curtain separating it from the lounge, unlike the bath

The toilet is found opposite to the bath and appears to have more than a curtain separating it from the lounge, unlike the bath

It is being let by CHK Mountford and advertised via Rightmove, the property listing reads: ‘Set on the ground floor of a wonderful detached private residence in the heart of Wimbledon Village is this self-contained pied a tierre.

‘The property has been immaculately refurbished to a very high standard and has been cleverly designed to maximise the space available.

‘To the front of the property is a small private patio.

‘The room is fully furnished and there is a small kitchenette area complete with sink, microwave and fridge.

‘There is a separate WC and a bath which has been cleverly designed to be fully hidden from view if required plus a generous storage cupboard/wardrobe.

‘One parking space is available and is set behind the properties private gates offering complete secure parking.

‘This property would be ideal for a working professional looking for a weekday base and who is looking for something which is centrally located and finished to a high standard.

‘All bills are included within the monthly rental.

‘Available on a short or long term basis, please note that for a short term rental the cost would be on a weekly basis.

‘And would be at a higher rental amount than for a long term tenancy – please contact the office directly for verification of the weekly rental.

‘The property is available for rental during Wimbledon Tennis event and is the perfect base for those wanting to be close to the site and have secure parking in addition.’

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Truss made ‘turnips in truck’ Brexit remark about Ireland, former diplomat says

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UK foreign secretary Liz Truss told a US audience three years ago that the impact of a no-deal Brexit on Ireland would only “affect a few farmers with turnips in the back of their trucks,” a former UK diplomat said.

Alexandra Hall Hall, a former Brexit counsellor at the UK embassy in the US, disclosed on Twitter on Tuesday night that Ms Truss made the remarks to a US audience three years ago.

The former career diplomat revealed in an article she wrote in a US academic journal last year that a UK government minister made the remarks but she did not identify the minister at the time.

Last night Ms Hall Hall retweeted a tweet by Ms Truss in which the foreign secretary said the UK government’s “first priority is to uphold the Belfast Agreement” – the 1998 deal that underpins the Northern Ireland peace process. Ms Truss shared a link to her House of Commons speech in which she set out plans to introduce legislation to override the Northern Ireland Brexit deal.

Retweeting the message, Ms Hall Hall said: “So pleased to see Liz Truss become a genuine expert on Irish matters. She was, after all, the minister who told a US audience three years ago that Brexit would not have any serious impact in Ireland . . . it would merely ‘affect a few farmers with turnips in the back of their trucks.’”

‘Under strain’

Ms Truss told the UK parliament that the protocol had put the Belfast Agreement “under strain” because of opposition by Unionist parties, citing this as a reason to plan to introduce new legislation in the coming weeks to scrap parts of the Northern Ireland Brexit deal.

Ms Hall Hall wrote in the Texas National Security Review journal last year that during her time as a diplomat in Washington, DC that Boris Johnson’s government damagingly played down the impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland’s peace process in statements intended for US audiences.

She resigned from her job in late 2019 because she said she was unwilling to “peddle half-truths on behalf of a government I do not trust,” she said in her resignation letter.

In her article last autumn, she described the “turnip” remarks – without naming Ms Truss at the time – as a “low point” of her time in Washington when the UK minister “openly and offensively” in front of a US audience dismissed the impact of a no-deal Brexit on Irish businesses.

Ms Truss, then the UK secretary of state for international trade, was visiting Washington at the time to meet the then US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross and the US trade representative Robert Lighthizer, both members of US president Donald Trump’s administration, and other politicians.

In the academic article, she said he had become “increasingly dismayed by the way in which our political leaders have tried to deliver Brexit, with reluctance to address honestly, even with our own citizens, the challenges and trade-offs which Brexit involves.”

She took issue in the article – entitled: “Should I stay or should I go? The dilemma of a conflicted civil service – with the UK government’s “use of misleading or disingenuous arguments about the implications of the various options” with Brexit.

Ms Hall joined the UK foreign office in 1986 and served in various roles around the world, including in Bangkok, New Delhi and Bogota before serving as British ambassador in Georgia.

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