New home, new style!

New home, new style!

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  • New home registrations hit highest level for 10 years (NHBC)
  • A new build home is like a blank canvas” (Alexander James Interior Design)
  • Celebrate #NewHomesWeek by learning how to style your new home to perfection (Alexander James Interior Design)


Newly published NHBC figures show that the number of new homes registered in the first three months of 2017 have shot up by 17% when compared with the Q1 2016 figures.

In total, more than 42,000 new homes were registered between January and March 2017, making it the best quarter for new home building in a decade.

The figures have been released in advance of #NewHomesWeek, which runs from 15th -21st May to celebrate the benefits of buying a newly built residence. There are myriad advantages to doing so and the interior design potential is one of the most exciting.


A new build home is like a blank canvas – there’s so much scope when it comes to letting your style ideas have free reign. While that’s an incredibly exciting opportunity, it can also be a little overwhelming. It’s important to think through colour schemes for the house as a whole, rather than just individual rooms otherwise you can end up feeling a little like you’re living inside a rainbow, which is hardly relaxing!


Stacey Sibley, Creative Director, Alexander James Interior Design

The professional interior design team at Alexander James strongly recommends starting with a mood board, with sections for each room. That way, the home’s overall style can be considered at the same time as that of individual rooms.

Mood boards are a great way to bring shape to your vision. Bring together everything that has caught your eye, including wallpaper samples, images of pieces of furniture, fabric swatches, artwork examples, striking cosmetic bottles and more. You can then compare and contrast all of these items, considering what works best and shaping your vision for your new build home accordingly.

When it comes to colours, choosing a palette of neutral shades and complementary hues, along with a few bolder accent colours, is a great start. These can be applied throughout the home and will help to create a sense of harmony, with one room flowing beautifully into the next.


“Suiting a room’s style to its use is also key. Bedrooms should create a sense of serenity and calm, while family rooms should have a welcoming, relaxed feel. The way you dress your home will impact on how you feel while within the property, so create spaces that make you and your family feel safe, happy and comfortable.”


Stacey Sibley, Creative Director, Alexander James Interior Design

Bringing nature indoors is a great way to do just that. The natural world can do wonders for our inner sense of peace, so large leaf prints, vases spilling over with flowers and the presence of natural elements in everything from lamps to tables is a great way to bring serenity into the home. It’s also perfectly attuned to this summer’s hottest interior design trends.

Incorporating natural elements is also a great way to dress your home for the nose, as well as the eyes. The scent of freshly cut flowers can bring a room to life. Scented candles and reed diffusers are also a wonderful way to create rooms that feel harmonious and welcoming. This was demonstrated wonderfully at Lockeswood in Eversley, a new build property dressed beautifully by Alexander James Interior Design.

The final tip from the Alexander James team is to involve younger family members in the process of interior design when it comes to new build homes.


“Young people have delightfully creative minds and building a mood board for their new bedroom can be a great way to boost their excitement about their new home. That doesn’t mean covering an entire room with Thomas the Tank Engine wallpaper, however! Bear in mind that children’s tastes change as they grow, so opt for a base colour scheme and then overlay it with items that suit the particular child’s preferences. It’s much easier to change curtains, artwork and accessories rather than having to re wallpaper or paint. Engaging the child in the process can also have an added benefit – if they feel a true sense of ownership for their room, they might just keep it tidy!”


Stacey Sibley, Creative Director, Alexander James Interior Design



For more information, visit Alexander James Interior Design at, email or call 020 7887 7604.


Homes in bloom – RHS Chelsea Flower Show’s influence on this summer’s essential interior design trends

Homes in bloom – RHS Chelsea Flower Show’s influence on this summer’s essential interior design trends

United Kingdom
  • The plant world is the true winner at Chelsea each year (Clifford Stanley Landscape Contractors)
  • Nature is the big interior design trend this summer (Alexander James Interior Design)
  • Greenery is 2017’s colour of the year (Pantone)

The most exciting event of the gardening calendar, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, is set to take place on 23-27 May 2017. This year’s show is seeking to be “the best gardening event in the world,” according to RHS Director of Shows Nick Mattingley.

It’s a lofty goal, but one that is also realistic. The Chelsea Flower Show inspires millions every year and influences everything from bouquet trends to interior design.

“The Chelsea Flower Show is where high street fashion meets ‘haute couture’ in the natural world. Conscientious traditional horticulturalists battle it out with contemporary modernists to see who will bag the glory. Regardless of who takes home Gold, Silver or Bronze, the plant world is always the true winner at Chelsea each year. The clipped box edged borders, evergreen backdrops and roses growing up through aromatic lavender give a delicious and sumptuous effect that can’t help but inspire.”

Clifford Stanley, RHS Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medal Winner, Clifford Stanley Landscape Contractors

The inspirational blooms and scents of the Chelsea Show won’t only appear in people’s homes via their TV screens this year. Interior designer Stacey Sibley has worked alongside Clifford on a number of key projects for Alexander James Interior Design. While Clifford takes care of exterior elements, Stacey has identified the influences of nature as the big interiors trend this summer.

Finishes, colours and textures all hark back to nature, along with dramatic floral prints and, of course, huge vases of stunning blooms.

‘Greenery’ is Pantone’s colour of the year for 2017, resulting in plenty of green in the interior world. Designers are also poised and ready to absorb the most beautiful elements of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show into their creative vision as the spring turns into summer, with interior design reflecting the best that the RHS show has to offer.

“Even a home in the busiest of cities can offer an oasis of peace with the right interior. The reflection of nature in art, colour schemes and decorative touches can instantly change the whole mood of a room. This summer, nature-inspired prints, such as the close-up Dahlia petals featured at the Trowbridge Gallery, are a wonderful way to bring the outdoors indoors for maximum effect. And when it comes to colours and textures, think stone, wood and greenery in abundance.”

Stacey Sibley, Creative Director, Alexander James Interior Design

Those lacking the green fingers to compete at Chelsea – or even to keep a guzmania alive – need not despair. Stacey recommends faux plants and silk flowers for capturing the essence of nature without the risk of browning leaves and wilted blooms. John Lewis has an extremely well-priced collection at present, including some delightful metallic pots, which Alexander James’ Stacey Sibley has flagged as another of this summer’s top trends.

 “The natural world brings with it a sense of calm and sanctuary, and the Chelsea Flower Show is a wonderful reminder of that. As our daily lives seem ever busier, bringing nature into the home is a wonderful way to fight the stress of modern life and appreciate the beauty of the world around us.”

Stacey Sibley, Creative Director, Alexander James Interior Design

For more information, visit Alexander James Interior Design at, email or call 020 7887 7604.

The art of interior design – creating the picture-perfect home

The art of interior design – creating the picture-perfect home

United Kingdom
  • “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see” (Edgar Degas)
  • “Art plays a fundamental role in interior design – no scheme is complete without it” (Alexander James Interior Design)
  • Use art to echo a room’s theme and balance it perfectly with lighting for maximum impact (Alexander James)
  • Damien Hirst print featured in London’s Landmark Place show home (Alexander James)


Art lovers are in for a treat this year, with London’s Lisson Gallery celebrating its 50th birthday with a magnificent series of exhibitions and events. The National Gallery – the UK’s most visited gallery, with well over 6.2 million visitors in 2016, according to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions – is also offering something special, with Cagnacci’s Repentant Magdalene, the Michelangelo and Sebastiano exhibition and a Rubens and Rembrandt feature all running concurrently.


However, if we are to believe the words of Edgar Degas, then “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” It is a concept that is familiar to every successful interior designer – those with the powers to make others see an overall vision that is greater than the sum of its parts.


 “Art plays a fundamental role in interior design. Paintings, prints and sculptures are essential to completing a decorative scheme and have to be planned in as part of the overall look and feel of a property. These are not things to be left to chance and then picked out at the last minute.”


Stacey Sibley, Creative Director, Alexander James Interior Design


Having worked in interior design for 24 years, Alexander James’ Stacey Sibley is well versed in finding the right artwork to tie together all the elements of a room, from fabrics to colour palette to furniture.


Art can both echo the theme of the room and inspire it. This Beaconsfield family home, dressed by the Alexander James team, displays the concept beautifully, with artworks reflecting the colours, textures and themes of the rooms in which they feature.


For those looking for a uniquely artistic home, engaging the services of a local artist can be a wonderful way to obtain bespoke artwork. Furnishing the artist with a swatch of cushion fabric, key colour samples or a mood board can allow him or her to draw together all aspects of the design.


In the Beaconsfield home, for example, the open plan living room features beautiful, bespoke artwork designed to fade from bold to light and inspired by the accent cushions, which feature a bold oil painting inspired fabric designed by artist Jessica Zoob for Romo.


Nor is it just private homes in which art plays an important role. Working closely with developers has emphasised to the Alexander James team how essential artworks are when dressing show homes. At Landmark Place in London, their interior designers embraced the use of art by purchasing a limited edition Damien Hirst print for the show home.


‘The Souls III’ is one of a 15-piece signed edition purchased by Alexander James Interior Design as part of their dressing of the stunning new show home. The print is currently on loan to Landmark Place’s developer, Barratt Homes, enabling art to be taken to the next level in show home design.


Whether it’s a Damien Hirst print or the work of a talented, up-and-coming local artist, placing art perfectly is almost as important a skill as choosing the right pieces, according to Alexander James’ Stacey Sibley. She recommends balancing art and furniture by aligning artwork with a sideboard or console table and bordering it with side lamps to highlight it. The right framing is also essential, as is balancing the frame with the lamps and other furniture around it.


Hanging artwork at the right level is also essential. The centre of the image should ideally be at eye level. However, for informal seating areas, hanging the artwork low will make the space feel more cosy and intimate. Hanging artwork in clusters can also work well.


 “Gallery walls are a great way to occupy vast and open wall spaces, especially stairwells which are usually quite bare. Grouping several frames in various sizes, styles and orientations gives a really creative look and allows you to add more whenever you like.


“You can also take inspiration from the environment around your home. If you live in a rural area, seek inspiration from the surrounding trees and greenery, with botanical prints or natural paintings. Likewise, if your home has an interesting history, this can inspire the artwork. If the house has been rejuvenated, perhaps use old architectural drawings to accessorise the scheme.”


Stacey Sibley, Creative Director, Alexander James Interior Design



For more information, visit Alexander James Interior Design at, email or call 020 7887 7604.

Sell your home faster this spring with these expert interior design tips!

Sell your home faster this spring with these expert interior design tips!

United Kingdom
  • Pay particular attention to neutralising colour schemes and brightening spaces
  • Remove all clutter – including pieces of furniture
  • Use soft furnishings and scents to stage your home like a show home

Spring is well known to be the best time of year to sell your home. In fact, research by US firm Zillow found that homes listed for sale between 1-15 May sell an average of 18.5 days faster than those listed outside of that time period, as well as achieving a 1% higher sale price.

For those planning to take advantage of the spring sales season, the experts at Alexander James Interior Design have shared their top 10 tips for selling your home faster through creative interior design.


“First impressions count when it comes to selling your home. Everything has to look, feel and even smell perfect in order to impress prospective buyers. It’s essential to give your home the best chance possible of attracting new owners and interior design can play a key part in that.”

Stacey Sibley, Creative Director, Alexander James Interior Design


Alexander James’ top 10 tips for selling your home this spring

1. Be your own critic

Start by casting a critical eye over your home yourself, picturing it through the eyes of a potential buyer. Try and think about the tastes and requirements of the type of person who might buy your home, whether it be a family of six or a couple without children. If it is a family home, you may gear your changes towards a family-friendly layout.

2. Repaint

A fresh coat of a neutral paint colour can work wonders. Use it where needed to cover up more controversial colours, which could put off potential buyers by restricting their vision for the property.

3. Flooring

If carpets look tired, tatty and threadbare, it’s a good idea to replace them, if your budget permits. At the very least, professional carpet cleaning can make a huge difference when it comes to brightening up a room.

4. Declutter

Make the most of every inch of drawer, cupboard and wardrobe space that you have by removing unnecessary clutter. This will open up the space and leave room for the imagination. If you have somewhere to store it, you can even remove two or three pieces of furniture from each room, to really show your home’s features and create a spacious feel. In the kitchen, clear away toasters and kettles to give a clean finish to the room.

5. De-personalise

You’ve likely spent years personalizing your home to perfection. Now it’s time to undo your hard work! Eliminate personal effects so that your home becomes a place where potential buyers are able to envision themselves living. In particular, replace photographs with more generic artwork.

6. Accessorise

Gently accessorise to make your property feel like a home. Use a soothing colour palette to allow one room to flow into the next, creating a cohesive feel. Adding fresh flowers injects colour and warmth to a room, while green plants can add a contemporary touch, creating a feature within a living space. High end magazines can be displayed on a coffee table for a homely effect.

7. Soft furnishings

Soft furnishings are important and the use of luxury brands can really make a difference. While the brands themselves are unlikely to be noticed by the potential buyer, the overall impact will be to add a quality effect. Any garish colours or worn cushions should be replaced, creating a home that the prospective new owners can feel a sense of pride in.

8. Light it up

Homes should have bright lighting to awaken the buyer’s senses. Good lighting can make your home feel more spacious and enhance its features. It may be worth investing in some brighter light bulbs (but not so bright that rooms appear clinical!) for maximum impact.

9. Add fresh scents

Use beautiful scented candles and diffusers throughout the home, but most importantly in the living area, master bedroom and master bathroom. Studies have found that complex scents can distract a buyers thought process, so we recommend simple, fresh scents such as orange, lemon, pine, basil, cedar, vanilla and cinnamon.

10. Stage your home

Cast your eye over your home once more and stage it like a show home for every single viewing. There shouldn’t be a dirty teacup or overflowing basket of washing in sight! Staging your house like a show home will allow potential buyers to feel that it is a property they would be proud to own.

For more information, visit Alexander James Interior Design at, email or call 020 7887 7604.

Getting to know the ‘Designer with the Dogs’ – Stacey Sibley of Alexander James Interior Design

Getting to know the ‘Designer with the Dogs’ – Stacey Sibley of Alexander James Interior Design

United Kingdom
  • Creativity and organisational skills both essential for interior design work
  • Contemporary use of metals, softened by rustic woods, makes for the perfect modern interior
  • Natural elements and eclectic, ‘lived in’ interiors set the trends for the coming years

Beautiful interior design doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, Creative Director Stacey Sibley has dedicated the last 17 years to Alexander James Interior Design, the award-winning company delivering the most stunning interiors to the UK’s show houses, private homes and rental apartments.

Having trained in graphic design and styling, Stacey began her career at an interior design company that specialised in show homes. Her passion for creating beautiful properties led her to Alexander James Interior Design in 2000.

What began as membership of a team of five has evolved into Stacey heading up a department of 22 designers, while the Alexander James group has expanded to employ more than 100 staff in total.

Much has changed as Stacey has grown and developed with the Alexander James team. She is now responsible for the creative side of the business, overseeing designers and managing creative direction, as well as undertaking design work for key clients and keeping up with the latest industry trends. Here she shares her highlights of the experience.

Why is your role essential to the process of delivering stunning interiors?

At Alexander James I oversee the creative teams and the smooth running of the design studio, ensuring we deliver the best possible result on every project, as well as undertaking design projects myself. My role blends both creativity and organisational skills, which don’t always go hand in hand! That combination of skills is essential to delivering stunning interiors, particularly when it comes to show houses, which have to be incredibly efficient and deliver smooth installations that run to deadline.

How would you describe your own style?

I have quite a varied taste, which has changed over the years. For my own home, I like a relaxed style with a mix of old and new. I’ve developed a homely feel that encourages me to unwind and that perfectly suits my family and my two gorgeous Westies, Alfie and Piglet. I’ve opted for soft colours, as I need a calm sanctuary with plenty of light.  I love styling and finding one-off pieces from vintage shops.

How has interior design changed since the start of your career?

Quite a lot! A good example is window treatments, which have changed massively – they’ve gone from Austrian blinds, chintz, big bows, swags and tails to clean lines, and crisp, functional finishes. The days of matching wallpaper and fabrics are also thankfully long gone!

In recent years, we’ve seen a shift away from chrome, which was everywhere five years ago. We’re also seeing the resurgence of gold, which is now being used in a contemporary way, along with copper, brass and rose gold. The mixture of using traditional, rustic woods with modern metals has been a big change in the past few years as well.

What has been your most challenging project?

Most recently, it was The Chapel at Mill Hill, North London. The vast, vaulted ceiling and huge open living space meant that it was a challenge to make it feel like a home rather than a chapel! It also threw up some interesting challenges in terms of getting the scale of furniture and artwork right. It was a fascinating project to work on, but it did have some very unique challenges. The different finishes – lots of marble and stone – also meant that we had to think carefully about the acoustics in order to produce a warm, homely feeling rather than a chamber full of echoes!

Which is your favourite room to design?

Each property is unique, so I don’t have a preferred room, as such. My favourite types of rooms are those that are an awkward shape. That might be a kitchen in one property and a guest bedroom in another. The challenge of overcoming the spatial complexity is very rewarding.

What are the top trends to look out for in the years ahead?

Things now going more into natural elements – bringing nature into the home. Olive green is big this year and we’re seeing muted pinks coming back as well. We’re also finding that clients are keen for quite an eclectic feel at the moment, which looks like a trend that will develop further over the years ahead. It’s about mixing the old with the new in order to achieve a more ‘lived in’ look.

In terms of particular objects, Tom Faulkner’s Odessa cabinet is just beautiful and very on trend – the geometric lines and inlaid bronze are simple yet stunning, and a great example of the future of designer cabinetry.

Is there anything that one should always avoid when it comes to interior design?

There are several things, but top of my list is making rooms feel dark and oppressive. Rooms should be light, bright and airy, not crammed with oversized furniture and so many dark colours that they make you want to leave the moment you walk into them!

What’s your secret quick win for those looking to transform their home on a budget?

Paint! Light, bright walls can completely transform a room. Just make sure they match the colour palette of the furnishings and artwork already in the room, it the walls are the only element being changed.

Finally, what are your top three interior design tips?

Firstly, look at the space and plan furniture scales correctly – don’t assume anything! Measure the room and check dimensions carefully, as well as thinking about the use of the space. Beauty has to combine with functionality and provision needs to be made for storage as well.

Next, let textures be your friend. Enjoy the variety available and be playful with them, layering contrasting fabrics and finishes in order to avoid too much of any one texture.

Lastly, think carefully about lighting. There’s such a huge variety of lighting options available and each can influence the overall feel of a room. Plan the lighting just as carefully as all the other elements to be sure it will work as part of the overall vision.

For more information, visit Alexander James Interior Design at, email or call 020 7887 7604.

Best in show: Alexander James’ 5 interior design tips to bring show house style to your home

Best in show: Alexander James’ 5 interior design tips to bring show house style to your home

United Kingdom

With spring sales in full swing in many shops, now is the perfect time to take a critical look at your home and make a few changes to bring it up to show house standard.

“Bringing glamour and style to your home doesn’t have to be about making big changes. There are a few simple tips and tricks that can make a big difference. Try to step back and take a fresh look at your rooms. Which features and objects stand out? How do they coordinate with the other items in the room? What feeling does the room give you? Once you take a long, hard look at your home, you’ll be able to identify which colours and objects dominate it – and to change them if necessary.”

Stacey Sibley, Creative Director, Alexander James Interior Design


The first top tip from the interior design experts at Alexander James is to declutter. Achieving show home style in your living room won’t happen if there are toys strewn all over the floor, clothes drying on radiators, or newspapers and wine glasses piled up on the coffee table.

Whether you tidy it away, or go one step further and get rid of some of the clutter by selling it or donating it to charity, it’s time to reduce the number of items that are visible – and then make those that are left count.

Thinking about your colour scheme is the next step. A base of complementary neutral tones, with a couple of brighter colours for contrast, will help to create a warm and cosy yet stylish environment.

For those who aren’t naturally good with colours, the Alexander James Interior Design team recommends using a colour wheel, as well as creating a mood board to start brining your ideas to life.

“It’s also really important to think about lighting. You don’t have to start a major renovation project to add in windows in order to brighten up a home – mirrors are ideal for making rooms brighter. Daylight plays a key role in our state of mind – in the simplest terms, if you flood your home with it, you’re likely to be happier.”

Stacey Sibley, Creative Director, Alexander James Interior Design


Mirrors have the added benefit of being able to make rooms feel more spacious, if positioned well. Lamps and candles can also be used to achieve show house style in your home, and a variety of lighting options means that a space can go from feeling bright and airy to comfortable and cosy as evening approaches.

The fourth tip from the Alexander James team is to compare and contrast fabrics and textures. If your sofa cushions are velvet, don’t opt for velvet cushions and velvet curtains – contrast the fabrics while maintaining a complementary flow of colour.

The same is true of other textures. Pair painted wooden chairs with a natural wood mirror frame or cluster of photo frames. Soften the sheen of metallic cabinet doors with jam jars or pitchers full of delicate, tumbling flowers.

“Flowers are the final key to giving your home a show house finish this spring. Not only do they look fabulous, but they also smell wonderful. Opt for locally grown, seasonal blooms to bolster your environmental credentials.”

Stacey Sibley, Creative Director, Alexander James Interior Design


For more information, visit Alexander James Interior Design at, email or call 020 7887 7604.

Essential Spring scents to transform your house into a home

Essential Spring scents to transform your house into a home

United Kingdom
  • Sea salt, peppermint, freesia & lemon verbena top the list of spring scents (Alexander James Interior Design)
  • Diffuse rosemary oil in the office to boost brain power (Northumbria University)
  • Boost your performance in the gym with the smell of peppermint (University of Mohaghegh Ardabili)

After the cold, grey winter months, spring brings with it a welcome assault on the senses. From the feeling of sun-warmed skin to the chirping of birds and the scent of freshly mown grass and blossoming bluebells, it’s a time for celebration that the winter is behind us once more.

“Spring is a wonderful time of year, and one to be enjoyed within the home as well as outside. The season is all about awakenings, and that can be reflected beautifully with scent. From vases piled with locally grown, freshly cut flowers to artfully styled diffuser reeds and statement candles, the olfactory delights of spring can bring a real sense of joy and renewal into the home.”

Stacey Sibley, Creative Director, Alexander James Interior Design

According to Alexander James Interior Design, this spring’s hottest scents are those which evoke warmth, freshness and calm. They’re suited to a range of uses, from individuals looking to awaken their senses within the home, to those seeking to make their property more desirable to buyers or renters.

2017 spring season quick wins for scent include Jo Malone’s wood sage and sea salt home candle, which brings to mind holidays by the ocean, and The White Company’s spa relax diffuser, which offers a relaxing hint of lavender to calm and peppermint to refresh, according to the Alexander James team.

Also high on the spring scents list is Daylesford Organic Farm’s freesia alba scented botanical candle, with an uplifting, refreshing floral scent that’s akin to a spring day encased in wax.

“Diptyque’s fabulous lemon verbena candles are also a must this spring. The zesty lemon scent awakens the senses and brings to mind the mingled scent of lemons ripening on the branch, alongside newly budding blossoms marking the start of the next year’s bounty.”

Stacey Sibley, Creative Director, Alexander James Interior Design

Studies have shown that different smells can evoke feelings of happiness, safety, calm and relaxation. Citrus scents are ideal for brightening moods and providing energy, so are particularly well suited to kitchens and living areas. Lavender and jasmine are known to create feelings of relaxation, so are perfect scents for bedrooms.

Meanwhile, peppermint stimulates the mind and body. It lifts the mood, enhances breathing and even increases athletic performance, according to sports science studies at the University of Mohaghegh Ardabili, so is the perfect scent for a home gym.

A study by Northumbria University has shown that the scent of lavender oil significantly decreases memory function, while diffused rosemary oil can markedly enhance it. Thus rosemary is the ideal scent for home offices and other areas of the home where mental functionality needs to be at its best!

Whatever your goal – whether a bright, energizing kitchen or a calm, sleep-inducing bedroom – scent can play a powerful role in ensuring that your home is the perfect environment.

“The right scents can transform a house into a home. No interior design project would be complete without serious attention to olfactory elements, so no home should be either!”

Stacey Sibley, Creative Director, Alexander James Interior Design

For more information, visit Alexander James Interior Design at, email or call 020 7887 7604.

Spring flower secrets from Alexander James Interior Design

Spring flower secrets from Alexander James Interior Design

United Kingdom
  • Tulips, hyacinths and long, elegant stems are spot on for spring
  • Large leaves and plentiful foliage are the latest essentials
  • Consider high-end silk blooms for lasting beauty

As March brings the first hints of spring sunshine, buds are swelling on branches all around. The turning of the seasons means that it’s time for the use of florals within the home – as well as without – to come into focus once more.

Florist Lisa Caulton is part of the team of outstanding interior designers at Alexander James Interior Design. With spring approaching, she shares her secrets on using flowers to maximum effect and the most inspiring 2017 floral trends.

How long have you worked for Alexander James Interiors?

I have been working for AJI for 4 years now, and absolutely love it. It is great working with such a great team and alongside such talented designers.

What is your background as a florist?

I have worked in floristry for the past 20 years, designing and creating displays for corporate events, hotels and designing weddings. I’ve also worked in local florists. Working with silk flowers has allowed me to be much more creative, with floral designs creating life-like displays in beautiful luxurious properties.

How does the process work in terms of creating floral arrangements for a project?

Our designers come to me with their mood boards and images of the property. Flowers are then selected based on interior style and colour scheme. For some projects I go and create the floral displays on site, especially if it is a big project. Flowers are used in every room, with the quantity of flowers depending on a client’s budget.

All flowers used are silk faux flowers, as real flowers would perish in our show home projects. The silk faux flowers we use are very high quality, so they are still very realistic and deliver the same great effect.

Flower arrangements are made to co-ordinate with the style of interior. We cover everything from rustic and country style to eclectic and contemporary.

What are your favourite flowers?

My favourite flowers are tulips, and my favourite plants are succulents, both of which are spring-like and currently on trend. I often go to flower shows to keep up with current trends and have attended shows in Paris and Holland. I often find inspiration for my work at these shows.

Do you incorporate your personal taste into your work?

No, it is important to always follow the current trends of flowers and plants in interiors. It is also important to think ahead to the next season due to our lead times. It is important to remain unbiased, using only the brief and mood boards to coordinate the flower arrangements for a project.

What has been your favourite project to date?

I really enjoy large projects, where I need to create arrangements to the scale of the property. Recent projects such as The Chapel at Mill Hill and Windlesham’s Woodrow mansion have been amazing to work on, as I have been able to create such large arrangements and stunning centrepieces.

What is your favourite interior design style?

My favourite interior style is eclectic, such as the style used in quirky London apartments.

What are the latest trends in floral design?

Trends often depend on interior style. For example, in a rustic property, stone pots, lavender baskets and flower jugs are perfect.

Current trends are very plant-orientated, with lots of foliage and big leaves. Trends often move with the seasons: spring projects will feature spring flowers such as hyacinths, tulips and the prettier, more elegant flowers.

For more information, visit Alexander James Interior Design at, email or call 020 7887 7604.

Town vs country – the investment dilemma

Town vs country – the investment dilemma

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  • Risk-averse investors drawn to city centre buy-to-let developments (Aspen Woolf)
  • Interior design giving landlords the edge (Alexander James Interior Design)
  • Strong returns tempting investors to newer asset classes in the countryside (Properties of the World)

There’s an age-old debate about whether city living trumps country living, or vice versa.

UN figures show that our world is gradually becoming more urban, with 54% of the global population currently residing in urban areas. The figure is projected to rise to 66% by 2050, emphasising the pull of the city on those seeking economic opportunities and a wealth of cultural and entertainment options.

Just as city and country living appeal differently to different folks, so too do the prospects of investing in such diverse locations.

“Investors looking for city centre properties tend to be those who are keen for long-term returns with lower risk. They’re seeking an established asset class – buy-to-let – which has been around long enough to be proven as a model that generates consistent yields. The solidity of the asset class is paramount, even over and above considerations like the tax relief reductions for landlords, which the government is phasing in from 2017 onwards.”

Oliver Ramsden, Founder and Director, Aspen Woolf


As well as buy-to-let investors looking for brand new developments, cities tend to attract those investors who want to take an active role in their property investment. Buying a house and refurbishing it can result in capital gains as well as healthy rental yields and many investors enjoy the buzz of managing their own properties. It can be a competitive occupation, and those at the forefront of the industry are continually seeking new ways to ensure that their properties stand out from the crowd. Engaging professional interior design consultants is the hottest new trend.

“We are working with a growing number of individuals who never imagined they would be employing interior designers to create a beautiful interior for their home. Interior design used to be the preserve of the very wealthy. Now, there’s a growing trend for people at every level of the property ladder to use expert services of this nature.”

Robert Walker, Managing Director, Alexander James Interior Design


Those investors who favour properties in the countryside tend to have a different focus than their city investor counterparts. They’re prepared to take on newer and more innovative asset classes in the pursuit of higher returns and lower taxes.

“Hotel investment can generate excellent yields, and buyers are free from the concerns of Stamp Duty Land Tax and the hit to income that void periods can cause. Strong returns and fewer taxes to worry about is an attractive combination. Many countryside investments also come with a personal usage element, meaning that investors essentially get two weeks of free holiday accommodation thrown into the deal each year.”

Jean Liggett, CEO, Properties of the World

The restrictions on tax relief for residential landlords has the potential to mark a step-change in investor preferences. From 2017 to 2018, only 75% of finance costs will be deductible from rental income. The figure will reduce annually, until it reaches 0% for the 2020 to 2021 financial year.

As city centre buy-to-let developments become gradually less profitable for all those other than cash buyers, will former city investors head for the hills? Only time will tell.


On the market:

The perfect city investment: Set on the edge of the vibrant Liverpool city centre, the New Eldon Grove offers the perfect balance of past and present comprised of 45 apartments including 1,2 and 3 bedroom units. Carefully designed to preserve the heritage of the site while serving the needs of a new generation, from just £94,950, New Eldon Grove provides investors with an assured 2-year NET rental of 7%. Available through Aspen Woolf.

Escape to the country: In the Valleys of South Wales, lodges and land plots at Afan Valley Adventure Resort allow investors to be part of a thrilling new adventure experience. Lodges are priced from £149,000 and offer 8% NET returns for seven years, with two weeks’ personal usage. Land plots offer a mark-up of 10% per annum for three years, from just £25,000. Both available through Properties of the World.


For more information, please contact:

Aspen Woolf: +44 203 176 0060 or

Alexander James Interior Design: 020 7887 7604 or

Properties of the World: +44 (0)20 7624 5555 or

2017’s ultimate kitchen trends

2017’s ultimate kitchen trends

United Kingdom ,
  • Zoning being used to create cutting edge kitchens
  • Metallic finishes featuring strongly this year
  • Kitchen tech providing everything from hidden hobs to vanishing taps

The kitchen is the heart of the home. The epicentre of a family’s nourishment, a space for informal socialising with family members and close friends, and the place from which all manner of delicious scents and flavours emanate.

An outstanding kitchen should also be a feast for the eyes, as well as the other senses, explains John Harvey, Managing Director at Lida Cucina. He comments,

“We’re seeing some amazing innovations in terms of kitchen design and dressing at the moment. 2017 is going to be an exciting year from new tech to exciting materials, there has never been more choice when it comes to kitchen interior design.”

The kitchen designers at Lida Cucina are experts at creating kitchens that both serve a practical purpose and look superb. Based on their knowledge, MD John Harvey has put together his list of top kitchen interior design trends for creating the ultimate 2017 kitchen.

Lida Cucina’s 2017 ultimate kitchen interior design trends

  1. Zoning

“The concept of the traditional working triangle has gone,” comments John Harvey. “It’s all about zoning in 2017 – the ultimate kitchen this year will have a prep zone, a cooking zone, a wet zone and a refrigeration zone.”

The type and number of appliances in the kitchen has changed dramatically in recent years. Oven types now include single, combi, steam, sous-vide, microwave, and those complemented by warming drawers. The cooking zone needs to accommodate these and a wide range of other appliances.

The prep zone is also gadget-heavy, with everything from juicers to spiralizers needing to be accounted for, along with a prep sink. The main sink is obviously in the wet zone, along with the dishwasher.  Meanwhile the refrigeration zone is home to the fridge, freezer and wine chiller.

  1. Islands

Islands remain a hugely popular trend, and 2017 sees them combined with the zoning concept to create a kitchen that is at once practical and beautiful.

The ultimate kitchen this year has islands linked by bridge-style counters and a breakfast bar. A formal, built-in table connecting the islands is also on trend.

  1. Kitchen tech

Kitchen tech is certainly not limited to portable appliances. Hidden features and opening functions are allowing kitchens to appear incredibly sleek and stylish, with only a wave of the hand or the push of a button needed to make taps, sinks, hobs and more miraculously appear.

Under-worktop induction hobs will be a key trend in 2017, according to the Lida Cucina team, with just a small panel used to control an essentially invisible hob.

Boiler taps are also coming of age, with more manufacturers joining the marketplace and driving both innovations in design and reductions in price. Top brand ZIP’s latest tap, for example, now supplies not just boiling water, but also hot, cold, chilled and sparkling filtered water.

  1. Metallics

Kitchens are all about metallics when it comes to appearance in 2017. Warm metal finishes, achieved either through multi tonal lacquers or the use of actual metals, will be present for doors and cabinetry. For doors, a range of superb, ultra-thin metal doors is about to hit the market and will be an important trend this year.

“2017 kitchen design is all about sleek design that accommodates the latest advances in technology while also looking stunning,” concludes Lida Cucina’s John Harvey. “Taking a professional approach to designing or redesigning your kitchen can make it the true heart of your home, while also adding value to the property. It’s going to be a big year for kitchens!”

For more information, visit Lida Cucina at, email or call 0118 932 0828.