It’s just over one month until the official start of British Summer Time. So get your spring cleaning hat on and get ready to give your home a whole new lease of life… we’ve got some room by room tips to help break down your epic spring clean…

Kitchens

Make the most of wall space

Some people make the mistake of thinking that everything needs to be hidden away for your kitchen to look clutter-free. Often, this just leads to chaotic cupboards where you can’t find anything. Add hanging space on kitchen walls for saucepans and install a magnetic knife block. You’ll have less stuff to riffle through in your cupboards and your kitchen utensils will be better organised.

Invest in a stylish spice rack

Is your spice cupboard packed with ancient bottles? Not even sure what you’ve got in there, lurking at the back? You’re not alone. First, have a massive clear out – throw away anything out of date. Then invest in a stylish spice rack. Online retailers like Etsy have literally hundreds to choose from, including clever space savers that go on the kitchen work surface, and wall mounted racks.

Reorder your cupboards

Everyone’s favourite tidying expert Marie Kondo has some excellent advice for making your kitchen clutter free and practical. Simply reorder your cupboards so every day items are easier to reach than things you only use occasionally. For example: that giant punch bowl that’s always in the way? Put it in a high cupboard, or move it out of the kitchen altogether. Mugs, everyday glasses and plates; move them to lower shelves or drawers. Simple.

Ditch duplicate items

Got three wooden spoons for no reason? Too many knives but never enough forks? We feel you. Start by getting rid of duplicate stuff. Donate it to your local charity shop, or use the app Olio to get your unwanted items collected for free by people who can use them. Then, buy inexpensive matching items that will make your drawers feel more co-ordinated and less cluttered.

Living rooms

Create categories

One of the best ways to deal with clutter the rooms you spend the most time in, is to categorise. Make your categories based on things you like most, not things you have a lot of. For example, your categories could be: books, plants, photographs. Or: movies, gadgets, magazines. Put the things that fit into the categories together first. Next, look at what you’ve got left over. Are these miscellaneous items things you really need? If so, can they be stored in a cupboard, or in storage elsewhere in your home? Stuff that isn’t something you like, or something you need: toss it!

Add trunks, boxes and baskets

So you’ve sorted out the things you like and the things you need from the stuff that’s just annoying clutter, but now what? Add some storage to your living room easily with stackable trunks. These can be picked up for a few pounds from vintage shops and car boots sales. Or, if that’s not your style, add wicker baskets, or simply boxes that can slide under tables.

Donate old books, CDs and DVDs

Running low on shelf space? Got dozens of old DVDs that have been gathering dust since you signed up for Netflix? Don’t be afraid to donate stuff to your local charity shop – you’ll be amazed how much you don’t miss things when getting rid of them makes your home feel cleaner and more spacious.

Make personal items into a feature

Got nick nacks around the room that have sentimental value? Ornaments and photographs that remind you of a certain holiday, or a special time in your life? Group these together and make them into a particular focal point in the room. Dedicate a space on a shelf to items from your travels, or momentoes from your wedding day, or whatever it might be. Collecting items together like this will make that part of your toom look like a considered style choice, even if the types of items themselves are very different.

Bathrooms

Ditch old and expired products

Spice cupboards and bathroom cabinets: the dumping ground of every home. First thing’s first: clear out all the empty bottles, all the old expired products, all the crazy lipsticks and nail polishes that you impulse bought before realising they don’t suit you.

Tidy those towels

Whether you live alone, with a partner or family, or with housemates, keeping towels tidy is a great way to make your whole bathroom look more organised. If more than one person uses your bathroom, why not try designated baskets or hangers for each person’s towel. If you live alone but store spare/guest towels in your bathroom, be sure to fold them and stack them neatly in size order. Or, for smaller storage spaces, roll your towels and place them on shelves or in baskets.

Add some greenery

Adding a plant to a decluttered surface will help motivate you to keep it neat and tidy. Aloe vera grows well in bathrooms (and you can use the leaves as a great moisturiser and after sun). Other good bathroom plants include bamboo and Boston ferns.

Divide his and hers

Living with a partner? Feel like they’re the one who always messes up your nicely ordered bathroom? Why not create boxes for each of your stuff, labeled with your names. That way you’ll both have responsibility for keeping your own toiletries tidy and there won’t be any more arguments about who left that empty shampoo bottle in the shower (hopefully).

Bedrooms

Try the wardrobe clearance trick

Want to have a clear out of your old clothes, but not sure where to start? Here’s a great technique to help you decide what to ditch. Over the next few months, make a habit of hanging clothes you have recently worn back into the cupboard with the hanger facing the other way. Do this every time you put back a jacket, or when you tidy away something you have recently worn and laundered. After a while, you’ll start to see which items of clothing you genuinely wear, and which ones just sit there gathering dust. After a length of time that you decide, take out everything that hasn’t been worn, and head down to the charity shop. Ta-da, decluttered cupboard.

Add under bed storage

A brilliant storage solution for smaller bedrooms is under bed storage. This can be as simple as inexpensive plastic boxes to house your shoes, or as fancy as a bespoke made bed with built in storage (like this one from Made). By adding under bed storage in your guest room, you can get rid of items that you want to keep hold of, but only use occasionally.

Organise jewelry using bowls

Shallow bowls and plates are an attractive way to keep your jewelry neat. You can buy trinket dishes from homewares shops and boutiques, like this one from Anthropologie or this one, available on Trouva. Or, if you’re a fan of upcycling and shabby chic, you can pick up vintage crystal plates at flea markets for a few pounds.

Create fun storage for kids

Getting kids to tidy up their bedrooms can feel like an impossible task. But there are lots of fun and creative storage solutions that make tidying up seem less boring. One idea is to turn a toy kitchen into a storage area (and combine tidying up with playtime). Stylish homewares company Stackers make these great kid’s laundry baskets too.. sharks like to eat socks, right?

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It’s half way through half term… entertaining your youngsters might be starting to feel like a challenge. But don’t worry! East London is packed with fun (and free!) things to do for all the family. Here are some ideas for great days out that won’t break the bank…

The Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green

Part of the V&A, the Museum of Childhood, a few minutes walk from Bethnal Green station, is difficult to miss. A huge red brick 19th Century building, you’ll recognise it instantly for it’s imposing structure and enormous arched windows.

The Museum is the largest collection of childhood artifacts in the world, from retro games that Mum and Dad will remember to Victorian tin toys and puppets, old games, and the largest collection of dolls in the UK.

As you’d expect, the Museum isn’t just about display cases, it’s very much set up with children in mind, with loads of interactive and hands on exhibits. They also run regular competitions for children.

On a sunny day, you can enjoy a picnic and let the kids run around in the Museum’s spacious and enclosed grounds.

Eastern Curve Garden, Dalston

Behind a small door just off Dalston Lane, a secret green oasis awaits.

Dalston Curve Garden, which was created in 2010, is a free community garden packed with wildlife friendly plants and trees, including butterfly bushes and raised beds for growing food.

There’s hot and cold drinks and cakes for sale, you can sit in the open air or stay cosy in one of the snug glass houses (where there are loads of creative materials and activities for kids).

They also host regular events and welcome volunteers for gardening.

Hackney and Stepney City Farms

Meet donkeys, sheep, pigs and chickens at the city farms in Hackney and Stepney. Both farms want to teach children and adults about how a working farm operates, where our food comes from, and encourage people to learn new skills from arts and crafts to growing vegetables.

Both farms are open all year round (excluding Bank Holidays) and host regular events and workshops.

Victoria Park, Hackney

Green Flag Award winning Victoria Park is a great place to spend a sunny day in East London. Hunt for frogs and newts in the ponds, feed ducks, stroll around the Victorian pagoda, see canal boats on Regent’s Canal, or set the kids free at the skate park. For smaller children, there are two large playgrounds with swings, climbing frames and slides.

On Sundays from 10 – 4 you can also enjoy tasty treats at the street food market. There are also two permanent cafes (both dog friendly) and fantastic pubs on every corner.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford

There’s loads to do at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, from cycling around the wild gardens and wetlands, to splashing in the computer-controlled fountains, tacking the outdoor climbing walls, and exploring wildlife with a free trail tour.

Refresh with a hot drink and a sandwich at the Timber Lodge or venture along the canal to Here East where you’ll find a water-side row of excellent restaurants and cafes serving up everything from burgers to Italian food and Sunday roasts.

The Ragged School Museum, Bow

Give your little ones a taste of history at the Ragged School Museum. This interactive museum is dedicated to teaching visitors about the history of the East End and giving an insight into what a Victorian school was really like. The original building once housed the largest free (or “ragged”) school in London, set up in 1867 by Thomas Barnardo.

Between 2:15 and 3:30 on the first Sunday of each month, you can experience a Victorian class, led by an actor in full costume (ticketed on a first come first served basis daily). They also run regular talks and free arts and crafts activities.

There are some great home decor trends on their way this year, from sleek minimalism to plush and opulent interiors. Read on to discover our forecast of the hottest upcoming interiors trends…

Velvet furnishings

They started to edge their way in during 2018 but never really caught on in a big way. But many interior designers are predicting that 2019 will be the year velvet furnishings really boom.

Function over form

Functional furniture is everywhere at the moment because simple, understated designs are so versatile. Simple side tables like this one will suit almost any room and are ideal for showing off your favourite books, photographs or ornaments.

Brass fixtures

Brass fixtures like these really draw the eye in any bathroom or kitchen. They work well in contemporary and period properties and can be styled in a simple, industrial, way or for a polished and sleek look.

Industrial style

Think big lighting, simple furniture, exposed concrete and beams. Industrial style will still be going strong through 2019.

1970’s chic

The 1970’s are well and truly making a come back. Expect cosy furs, complimentary clashing colours and some very retro prints on cushions and wallpapers.

Eclectic patterning

Sometimes less is more, but sometimes, well, more is more. Big bold prints and shabby chic furniture and tableware will be hot this year – so keep your eyes peeled at those flea markets and vintage fairs!

Burnt yellow

Last year we told you all about “milennial pink”. This year’s hottest colour will be burnt yellow. This warm autumnal shade works so well as a accent in an otherwise minimalist room – create a bright wall or invest in a piece of statement furniture.

Fancy another? Check out our blog for more home decor and lifestyle articles like this one.

We love amazing homewares. There’s nothing quite like having a home to call your own and being able to find fun, unusual and beautiful things to fill it with. In London, we’re so lucky to have so many talented independent makers who produce unique items: things you genuinely can’t find anywhere else. Here are a few of our favourites…

Hokolo

Hokolo, led by designer Jen Taylor, is all about bright and bold patterns and colours. Hokolo’s fun designs include stackable ceramic mugs, throw cushions and crockery as well as furniture and fabrics. And they sell gift cards, just saying.

20 Seventh Letter

April Christopher first got into print design while studying at Nottingham Trent University. Now based in London, her brand 20Seventh Letter is all about style and luxury. All materials are sourced in the UK and April’s unique prints are all made in London. Her homeware products range from cushions to wall paper, but she also makes little luxuries too including cute coin purses and make-up bags.

Olive Jennings

We love the simple functional Scandi-inspired designs of Olive Jennings. As well as durable furniture, such as this side table made from plywood and metal, she also works with concrete to make industrial styled beautiful small homewares including coasters and hanging planters.

London Cloth Company

The London Cloth Company is London’s first micro-mill. They make high quality materials created on restored shuttle looms from the 1870s. Most of their work is bespoke but they offer a small range of blankets and wool by the meter on their website. And if you’re on a bit of a budget (or just looking for a little house warming gift for somebody) they also sell mugs featuring prints of some of their classic wool blends.

The Botanical Boys


The Botanical Boys are Ben and Darren, who got into terrariums big time after moving into a garden flat in East London in 2009. They transformed the dilapidated garden of the flat into a thing of beauty – gaining attention from national newspapers along the way. Now, they create gardens on a mini-scale: terrariums, which mean anyone can enjoy plants in their house whether they have outside space or not. As well as selling complete terrariums on their website, they also run workshops so you can learn how to do it yourself.

The London Refinery

Lucy Heale uses all natural essential oils and soy wax to make luxurious candles inspired by moods. Scent blends including ‘Inspire’ and ‘Relax’ are available in different sizes. Based out of Ealing, everything at the London Refinery is hand made and they run candle making workshops around East London – you can even hire them for private events.

Whether you’re looking for a traditional pub or a secret cocktail club, Angel has more to offer than you might expect. Away from the hustle and bustle of nearby Shoreditch or the City, Angel has loads of great bars and restaurants, whatever your style…

Gallipoli

Gallipoli offers a Turkish and Mediterranean menu and has a cosy family-run mood, with hanging lanterns and mismatched framed prints all over the walls. They know how to bring the party too, offering belly dancing performances for birthdays, hen dos and other special occasions alongside a special party menu. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, their lunch offer isn’t to be missed if you work nearby. Turkish Tuesdays, anyone?

John Salt

A chilled cocktail bar open late, John Salt has the look and feel of a 90s loft apartment with events to match; play Mario Kart on Retro Gaming Night and inflict your guilty pleasure tunes on your mates on Bring Your Own Vinyl night, all while tucking into chicken wings, onion rings and juicy burgers (veggie and vegan options too). Their cocktail menu offers all the classics alongside some more unusual creations, such as Wasabi Kick and the Juicy ‘Dillemma’.

Ladybird

Opposite Islington Green on Upper Street, Ladybird is a speakeasy featuring four separate rooms and bookable bar booths for special occasions. You’ll find a long cocktail list, including sharing pitchers, sours and prosecco by the glass. Happy hour runs Sunday – Friday 5pm – 9pm, making the Ladybird a great choice for either a big party or a cocktail before dinner.

Oldroyd

Self-titled restaurant Oldroyd is the brainchild of former Polpo top-dog Tom Oldroyd. The daily changing menu draws its focus and inspiration from seasonal British ingredients given a European twist, with dishes such as beef tartare with smoked eel mayo, cuttlefish with squid ink bortolli beans and sides including grilled sweetcorn with lavender butter. Oldroyd is at 344 Upper Street.

Vivo

Looking for that summer sun trap to catch some rays with a glass of wine? Vivo’s the place for you. Beautiful Italian food in a casual setting, Vivo also has a deli counter. Catch up with friends for a cocktail, a light bite, lazy dinner or lunch on the go at this gem of Upper Street – find it at 57/58.

Prawn on the Lawn

Prawn on the Lawn is something of an institution in Islington. A fishmonger and seafood bar, for sea food lovers it shouldn’t be missed. The menu includes small hot and cold plates, to be enjoyed with a glass of something from the brilliantly paired wine list. For bigger groups (or bigger appetites) there’s also platters including crab and lobster and whole fish by the kg. The menu changes daily, dependent on the catch, so you know it’s seriously fresh.

Moving house or redecorating can be a stressful experience, especially when you don’t know what it will look like until it’s all done. These apps, however, can help make everything a lot easier – from colour testing paint to measuring the best sunlight spots, there’s an app for that. Here’s our pick of the best:

1. Houzz

Winner of the “Best App” award at the inaugural Google Play Awards, Houzz is a game changer in home design. Like a combination of lots of other apps doing similar things on the market, Houzz lets you get inspiration for your room design, browse products, and then try them out in your home simply by taking a photo of the room. It also has an advice section where you can get opinions and help from the Houzz community on your ideas.

2. Sun Seeker

The Sun Seeker app is great for photographers and architects alike – but also for those who like to have a lot of sunlight in their home. The ‘map view’ on the app will track the sun’s rays across a certain geographical point, like your home, so you can see which parts of the house will get the best light.

 

3. Dulux Visualiser App

This app’s colour picker technology matches colours from photos you take with their paints. You can then try out these colours on the walls of your home. They also offer suggested colour schemes to accompany your new paint choice, and deliver the paints or colour testers to your door.

4. Homestyler

Homestyler rebuilds your home as a 3D playground for you to experiment with – just with one snap of the room. You can test out real furniture as 3D models in the room, test out light fixtures, and see how furnishings and colour schemes will look in your space. You can also browse the Design Stream for inspiration, share your designs with your family and friends through Facebook and email, and comment and “heart” other peoples’ designs. For more inspiration you can also browse through portfolios of professional designers in your local area.

5. Art Beamer

ArtBeamer is also an augmented reality app that lets you preview how artwork will look on your wall. Artists using the app will give a specific code to their pieces, which you can find either from the website, or asking at the gallery/exhibition. Simply type the code into the app and you will be able to “beam” the artwork onto your wall.

6. LikeThat Décor

This app allows you to shop for furniture on the go, by taking inspiration from things you see around you. Snap a photo of a piece of furniture you like, and the app will show you thousands of similar and complementary products, with details on where to shop for them.

7. Photo Measures

Photo Measures is a great way to keep track of your home’s measurements, allowing you to note dimensions down on photos of your rooms, to remember the exact layout and size of all the different spaces in the house.