The GIBRALTAR Property Insight

in Features

Property Roundup

If life were predictable it would cease to be life, and be without flavor.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

In light of the last 12 months, I think that we could have all done with a little less flavour, for what a year it has been. One might have thought that Brexit was quite enough to have had to contend with, but low and behold and just to make things that little bit more flavoursome, we were gifted with Covid-19 too. Recent times have delivered what is without question one of the greatest socio-political hurdles in a generation.

Having said the above, and not for the first time in Gibraltar’s history, we find ourselves fortunate in so many respects; but of course, in so far as the property market goes, we have been truly fortuitous. The fact is that 2020 brought with it some good news in the shape of the “New Year’s Agreement” with Spain and the UK, delivering a degree of certainty for Gibraltar’s political and economic status, something which, since 2016 we have lacked.

Over the past decade we have provided regular appraisals on our thoughts and forecasts on the property market. Since 2017 we have highlighted our concerns with the high volume of speculative developments steered by a “studio” segment delivering hundreds of these units to the market. We have also expressed our bullishness in the market on “owner occupier” properties within the mid to high end tiers of the market and the demand for these properties. This demand has in part, been steered by an expectation of a positive outcome with regard to Brexit, as well as real growth in the market driven by applicants seeking larger homes, in their quest to base themselves in a safe, English speaking, regulated, low tax environment. We seem to be cementing this attractive proposition toward the “ultimate residency” further.

As to the impact of forming part of the Schengen group may have on the property sector in Gibraltar, clearly the prospect of free movement with Spain under a safe political arena not seen in over three hundred years is an attractive and positive proposition, not least with a continued and underpinned financial services relationship with the UK; the future seems bright and we welcome the agreement. We will as always review and comment on the impact of this agreement, it clearly promises to deliver a bright future for Gibraltar with a degree of political security and economic stability not seen before.

What the future now holds is yet unknown, but a great deal of what we may expect can be forecasted based on our market performance so far and over the years we have produced various market updates, sharing our views and thoughts on the market. The following update was composed during the last few weeks of 2020, and has been updated further over recent months.

There is little one can say to try and sum up the happenings of the past year, let alone that of the past 4 years. Just when we thought that there could be nothing worse than the antics of Brexit, we are given the joys of Covid-19.

Thankfully, we seem to be reaching the light on both fronts and I am not sure that the globe, in general, is quite ready for any more surprises, I think we have had our fair share of these.

For several years since 2016 and since the emergence of Brexit we have kept a watchful eye on the property market (as we do) and analysed, as best we can, the impact of Brexit talks and negotiations on our property values and the confidence in general terms for our economy.

Given the calamities we have witnessed globally, at a political level (and for the record I miss The Donald), and economic level (and we ain’t seen the beginning of this in Europe in light of Covid), not to mention the mess we find ourselves in from a socio-economic perspective, you would not be blamed for just battening down the hatches, possibly buying a fishing boat and calling it a day… but as a client of ours put it recently:

“where the world is in crisis, Gibraltar excels”…

A bullish comment, but so accurate when it comes to the experience, we have had over the past 4 years and ironically enough over the past 10 months since March 2020. There is no question (and regardless of my banter), that we are and have been so incredibly fortunate, but to a larger degree so well placed and structured to have (in the main) done so well – and I am of course primarily referring to the property sector.

Against all the odds, we have seen price increases and sales volumes take a sharp rise throughout 2020 and as mentioned on so many occasions in previous updates, it has been the owner occupier markets, largely two-, three- and four-bedroom properties in mid to high end developments showing some truly spectacular gains with some increases in excess of 10%. The higher end and fourth tier in the market generally with price ranges upwards of £1,500,000 has also re-emerged with strong activity in this sector and sales in areas such as The Sanctuary (circa £6m), Buena Vista Park (average of £2.2m), Admirals Place and other.

Interestingly we have also been party to the sale of a two-bedroom apartment at Ragged Staff Wharf at £815,000 and four bedrooms in Quay 29 / 31 at upwards of £1m and delivering rates per sqm reaching £7,000 and beyond.

Without insight into circumstances surrounding us and an understanding of the dynamics of Gibraltar, the numbers are non-sensical and you may choose to take the view that this estate agent is quite frankly taking you for a ride….:)

Our view of the why’s and the how’s is best described along the lines of something we wrote some time ago: 

Our views over the years maintain a trend: growth in owner occupier driven markets steered by a continuously growing gaming and finance centre, with stability and security adding further value.

Whereas we have been pleasantly surprised with the growth in a large part of the property sector, we also continue to remain cautious and to a large degree negative on the studio market sector.

We took a view to stay out of this segment several years ago due to the high volume of proposed developments exclusively aimed at this product. We struggled with the prices being pitched and the marriage to an identifiable end user. It appears that to date it is the only sector that in general terms has not enjoyed the growth in capital appreciation attained by much of the market.

We hope that with this recent write up we can give a small and educated snapshot of the market where we see the upsides, as well as the downsides. The market and the economy remain difficult to forecast, but if the year gone by (2020) and the time since the Brexit referendum is anything to go by, we have done swimmingly and held our own immensely well. 2021 will no doubt bring its challenges, but we hope that our ability to overcome this truly exceptional year will stand us in good stead to continue with our ever-growing economy and with it our property sector too.

As I write this, we have just closed a sale that has reached the £7,000/sqm mark, we

have achieved this level on more than several occasions now, we have indeed reached a new level that we believe is here to stay. As a great man once said – “it always seems impossible until it’s done”.


Trusted Novus Bank – We want to be the homeowners’ bank in Gibraltar

A central point of Trusted Novus Bank (TN Bank) strategy since we became TN Bank nearly one year ago, is to become the homeowners’ bank in Gibraltar.

Buying your home?

In TN Bank we offer a competitive, personalised
product, which can be tailored to suit our
clients’ personal needs. No one-size-fits-all when taking a mortgage with us! We have a range of mortgage products to suit our clients’ individual needs. We look into our clients’ circumstances and together with our clients we identify the best product for them. You will not find our rates on our website, but we guarantee you that we have competitive prices.

We don’t just help people buying their first home or a new home. If you already have a mortgage but are not convinced you have the best package, we invite you to come and speak to us, to see if we can give you a better offer.

Perhaps lockdown made you realise that you want more space? Another reason to contact us to see if we can help you.

Buying the other half of your
50/50 home?

Are you missing out on not owning 100% of your property? If for example you live in Beach View Terraces, Mons Calpe Mews or other co-ownership properties and are considering purchasing the remaining amount of your home, then give us a call to discuss your options.

But don’t delay, act now, as it will cost you more every year that goes by!

Home Improvements

Has lockdown left you realising that it’s time
for a new kitchen or bathroom? Why not give us a call to discuss the possibilities of increasing your mortgage, or releasing some equity from
your property so that you can make your desired changes to improve your home? Please note that this is subject to affordability.

Buy-to-Let mortgages for
residential properties

Gibraltar has experienced prolonged growth and stability in the residential property market.
Rental demand in Gibraltar has increased
making it an attractive place for investors, both local and international, to purchase property for rental.

This type of mortgage is only available on
residential properties where the main purpose of the property is to rent it out and generate rental income. Our mortgage planners will be happy to chat with you about possible opportunities.

Here in TN Bank we take all mortgage and lending
requests seriously and if you wish, we can
arrange a meeting with one of our Mortgage Planners within a few days. If you prefer talking to us over the phone or make enquiries by email, we can accommodate that too. No matter what, we will make it clear to you, as our client, what the mortgage journey entails and how much the mortgage will cost you.

A new bank and a new team

The bank has offered mortgages for many years, but it was not until August 2019 that the mortgage team was established. Since then the team has had a clear focus on becoming the homeowners’ bank in Gibraltar. After becoming TN Bank in April 2020, we have had a focus on improving our mortgage services, and we have really seen things picking up during the last two or three months. Not only has our marketing become
focused on mortgages but we continue to
increase our product offerings.

Who are we?

There are four colleagues in our mortgage team at Trusted Novus Bank, who are keen to help you with your mortgage: Gerard Fabre, Vanessa Caulfield, Giovanni Romero and Morten S. Jensen,
who between them have over 100 years of
banking experience.

Give us a call, come into the bank or complete the contact form on our website

Personalised mortgages at Trusted Novus Bank:  https://trustednovusbank.gi/products/mortgages

We look forward to showing you what mortgage packages we can offer you.

Thinking of Letting, Renting, Selling or Buying?


Think
G M International Homes Ltd.

Primarily we specialise in the handling of sales and rentals of properties in Gibraltar and Spain and offer a full management letting service to assist our purchasers wishing to rent out their properties.

We are Gibraltar’s forward thinking estate agent, having formed long lasting relationships with our developers, friends and clients for over sixteen years.

We always strive to deliver. Our sales and after-sales team offer a professional, friendly honest and reliable service based on a culture of high standards and customer satisfaction. Teamwork is the key word. 

 Meet the team:  

Jeanine Goldwin –
Managing Director

Founder and Managing Director, Jeanine started the company back in 2005. Jeanine is involved in every aspect of the business together with the financial side of the company and liaises with most of our high net worth individuals who are looking to relocate to Gibraltar. She is always the hardest worker in the room and highly considered as the ‘super woman’. Her favourite phrase is “no problem”, always making every challenge possible!

Jeanine is 100 % dedicated to running G M International and is always switched on where work is concerned; she enjoys long walks, keep-fit classes, spending time with her children and travelling whenever possible, always ready for the next adventure.

Vanessa Palmero Haywood – Managing Director

Vanessa joined GM International fifteen years’ ago in 2006 and says “time flies when you’re having fun”. Vanessa mainly assists Pia Alvarez with the very challenging daily management issues but she is very hands on and deals with any sales or rental enquiries. Vanessa loves the advertising side of the business and is always aware of the importance of advertising. She also takes a personal interest in giving back to the community by means of sponsorship and is passionate about charity work. 

Vanessa is a people person, friendly and approachable, however she loves and needs her time alone, especially with her furry best-friends. She travels whenever she can, particularly to her second home in Morocco, and due to her regular visits has made several professional network connections there. 

Pia Alvarez
Property Management
Administrator

Pia is our Property Management Administrator. She plays an essential part in the company and ensures all properties are ready for the next tenant, monitoring and inspecting them and taking accountability for the condition of all our properties. She promotes our management services and creates bonds with property owners and tenants. Pia loves lazy days on the beach, sporting   challenges and she’s a true animal lover, a dedicated wife and mother and a loyal friend to many. 

Lucy Martinez – Office Manager
and Compliance officer  

Mother of two Lucy will always welcome you with her best smile despite her busy schedule. She is extremely efficient and proactive, sets personal high standards, challenges herself daily, and keeps us all on our toes updating our hourly schedules. She likes reading and gathering information which has led to her nickname “Google”, because there is not much that she doesn’t know. She also loves riding her horses and spending time in the countryside, appreciates the simple things in life and has a contagious laugh.

G M International Management is headed by Director Vanessa Palmero Haywood and run by Property Management Administrator Pia Alvarez, backed by the administrative and accounting staff together with the office manager Lucy Martinez. This section is responsible for the Management of an extensive portfolio of both Residential and Commercial properties in Gibraltar and Spain. We also provide rental management services to individuals and corporate clients in various situations due to travelling arrangements or personal conditions. 

Why You Should Choose
G M International Homes (Property Management
Services):

Property Management is all we do. It’s what we specialise in and focus on, therefore making your property and development our number one priority. We are very much a hands-on management company designed to deliver exceptional results. We appreciate our clients’ time is important and as your Property Managers we will do our utmost to assist the first time you call. 

Professional Managing Agents

Instructed by residents, developers and freeholders, G M International is a knowledgeable and experienced professional management company, proficient in the management of a wide range of schemes including modern mixed use apartment schemes, sustainable developments and almost everything in-between. G M International are the complete property management experts, successfully delivering specialist and award winning services to developments throughout Gibraltar and Spain.

Whatever the type of property, our managing agents here at G M International will ensure that it is managed to the highest possible standards at an economic cost, providing you with complete peace of mind. We hope that you will enjoy your visit to our web site and that you will find your route to the property of your dreams and consider trusting us with your business. 

www.gmihomes.com  


First time buyers guide

Buying a home can be a challenging time, especially for those looking to take their first step on the property ladder. From the exchange of contracts to the purchase of a property, this guide will arm you with the relevant knowledge to make the home buying process easier. 

Contracts

Firstly, you will have to sign a purchase agreement. This governs the relationship between you and the seller between exchange and completion. Secondly, you need to sign your Title Deeds. These consist of a Deed of Underlease and Trust Deed.

The Deed of Underlease deals with the terms of your use and occupation of the property after completion. The Underlease grants the purchaser absolute title to the property by virtue of a 150 year lease.

A Trust Deed deals with the terms and conditions whereby you as beneficial owner hold the property on trust for yourself and the Government as legal owners (in your respective shares).

Mortgage Facility

There are plenty of lending institutions which can offer you a mortgage facility in Gibraltar, the most popular being NatWest International Bank and Gibraltar International Bank. The lending institutions are willing to offer you a mortgage facility of 90-95% of the purchase price of the property. The Initial Interest rate offered varies from 2% to 4.49% depending on the value of the mortgage facility obtained followed by a Follow On Interest Rate of 5%. Once you have obtained an offer, the lending institution will contact us with instructions and we will provide them with the required documents.

Stamp Duty

Stamp Duty is the tax that the government charges when you purchase a property over £200,000. You pay different rates depending on the value of your property and the amount of your mortgage (if any).

There is no stamp duty to be paid when the property value does not exceed £200,000 or the property value is lower than £260,000 and you’re a first or second time buyer.

Thereafter it is:

2% on the first £250,000 and 5.5% on the balance, where the property value exceeds £200,000 but does not exceed £350,000 and 3% on the first £350,000 and 3.5% on the balance where the property value exceeds £350,000.

If the property is financed with a mortgage loan, the amount would be 0.13% where the amount borrowed does not exceed £200,000 and 0.20% for amounts in excess of £200,000.

Payment is due after completion. 

Title Deeds

The Title Deeds include the Deed of Underlease and the Deed of Mortgage. They both require registration. This includes a Land Registry registration fee which must be paid by you. The Title Deeds will be sent to the financial institution which has granted you a mortgage facility to purchase the property. They will keep them until your mortgage is paid.

Attias & Levy are able to assist and guide you through the process of purchasing a first time property in Gibraltar. 

Legal Fees:

Our Legal Fee is £250. £125 to be paid on Exchange of Contracts and £125 on Completion.

Contact: 

Dustin (Conveyancing Partner) 

Tel: +350 200 72150

Email: dj@attlev.gi / info@attlev.gi

Visti: www.attiaslevy.com


Is your home or apartment adequately insured?

At some point in our lives, most of us will need to arrange Home Insurance. It may be your very first home, your forever home, a buy-to-let investment, that long held dream of a holiday home in the sun, or as a tenant, looking to protect your personal belongings and potential damages to your Landlord’s property.

Having home insurance is not required by law but is highly recommended as it can help you replace your home and treasured possessions that may have been affected by a wide range of perils and may also protect you against claims from third parties, e.g. neighbours. As an example, a mid-floor apartment fire is likely to cause considerable damage to the neighbouring properties so you should ensure you have home insurance to cover this loss.

Most standard Home policies are very similar, protecting against standard risks such as Fire, Theft, Water damage, Public Liability, etc. Something worth reviewing is the levels of cover, extra cover as standard and optional add-ons that really give you assurance that your property is fully protected. For example, your apartment may have some communal cover with a management agency, but quite 

often these have high excesses and don’t cover items such as glazed balconies or any improvements you’ve made since it was built, so it’s worth checking to make sure you have adequate cover in place.

Ensure that both buildings and the contents sums insured are correct to avoid being underinsured and hence losing out in the event of a claim or over insured and hence paying too high a premium. When deciding on what figure to use for your building insurance, make sure you use the rebuild value and not the market value. This is a very common mistake to make and can make the premium a lot higher that it needs to be, if calculated wrong.

Also, if you rent your property on a short-term or long-term basis, you should extend the liability cover in case of injury to your tenants whilst on your property. As a Tenant, you’ll need Tenant’s Liability cover, in case you cause accidental damage to your Landlord’s property or your pet causes injury to someone outside the boundary of your property. (Please note that dangerous dogs are usually excluded).

Home Insurance is not only about protecting ourselves against major losses, but also about everyday life and the small accidents that challenge us from time to time. Hence make sure you have Accidental Damage cover so that if you trip over the cable of your new LED TV and smash the screen, or drop a saucepan and crack your ceramic hob, or perhaps a bottle of aftershave onto the bathroom sink, all is covered. 

Some insurers offer ‘All-Risks’ cover as an optional add-on on permanent home policies. This relates to worldwide cover away from the home, for loss and theft, for those small items of jewellery or valuables (wedding ring, everyday earrings, designer handbag etc), or your engagement ring. Also some give the option to cover your pedal cycles or golf clubs.

‘What about my contents, what amount should I insure for?’ It would surprise you how easily your contents value mounts up. Remember, in the event of a total loss, you would need to replace everything down to knives, forks and spoons, bed and bath linen, etc. The best way to get an idea is to imagine turning your home upside down and seeing what falls out. That is basically what you need to insure your contents for.

To ensure you are well protected call Ibex Insurance. You can visit our office at 68 Irish Town or call us on 200 44628 to discuss your insurance needs.

A heaven of calm

Calm is used to refer to a quiet, still, or peaceful atmosphere in a place and creating a haven of calm in our homes can have a powerful impact on how we feel, how productive we are, or how well we sleep.

The ancient Chinese art of Feng Shui can help you to achieve harmony and create a relaxing ambience and tranquil environment, but bear in mind that the first step to creating a good flow of energy is to declutter your home because no amount of Feng Shui will create calm in a cluttered area.

Decorating with Feng Shui means knowing how to choose the right colours and decorative elements and use them in the specific areas of your home to bring nourishing energy to your space and to the different areas of your life. However, remember that too much energy can make a room chaotic, whereas too little of it can make it bland and uninteresting. It’s all about maintaining a balance.

Ancient Feng Shui masters not only defined the eight major life areas that are important for your happiness and well-being; they also mapped the connection between these life areas and the energy of our homes. The energy map of the home is called the bagua, usually defined by the compass direction of the front door, and each of the eight areas are defined by five specific elements; wood, fire, earth, metal and water. 

Colour

Colour is an important tool that can create a simple and effective transformation to the energy in your home and the best thing about colour is that it is a quick and easy way to change the energy of a space. 

Bedrooms

We spend a lot of time in our bedrooms, and not only is it a place for rest and rejuvenation but it’s also somewhere that we can share beautiful moments with our loved ones. Think about painting the walls in warm skin tones such as cream, peach, tan, terracotta, coral or cocoa. Soft natural colours like light blues, greens and lavenders will lend the bedroom a quiet, tranquil vibe and invite healing energy.

Living Rooms

The living room is where we gather together to entertain and interact with friends and family. For a comfortable and soothing feel, use a palette of grey, light blue, pale yellow and blush. Blues and greens represent new beginnings and healing.

Water Features

Adding water features into your home is a good way to maintain a calm, serene atmosphere. The sound of flowing, trickling water is soothing and can help to release stress or tension and produces abundant negative ions, bringing more energy and vitality. Water, especially flowing water, is also related to wealth, abundance, and cash flow. Feng Shui principles specify the different areas where fountains should and should not be placed in the home. For instance, fountains should not be used in the marital bedroom because water can douse the fire that fuels marital passion.

Fountains can be placed inside or outside the front door but the direction the water flows is important in facilitating energy flow. When placed outside your front door, make sure the water in the fountain flows towards the door, not away from it, so that you bring the energy into your home, not push it away. When placing a fountain inside your front door, place it so the water is flowing in towards your house interior and not out towards the door, or you may push the energy back out of the front door.

Strangely, although we think of blue as the colour associated with water, it is actually allied with the colour black. Try adding black cushions, art, furniture, vases, or other accessories to add more water to your home.  

Greenery and Plants

Plants are a great way to ensure that your home is a haven of calm and there are several that are perfect to de-stress your home and provide you with a sanctuary of peace and tranquillity, just beware of creating a jungle that could overwhelm and avoid cacti, which Feng Shui experts say can have negative energy.

Orchids are beautiful to look at and certain species of orchids have been known to have very distinct pleasant relaxing fragrances, so this is definitely a plant to keep in the bedroom.  

The scented flowers of the Jasmine plant are said to alleviate stress and stimulate romance. In fact, in studies the plant has been shown to improve sleep quality, balance hormones and help with hot flushes and mood swings

Lavender is another plant that helps to lower anxiety and stress, improves sleep and, it is claimed, calms agitated babies. 

Have you heard of a new design trend called a ‘breathing room’? This is a stress free space that you can go to where you can eliminate clutter from your mind. It can be as small as a corner or part of a larger room, but it is somewhere that is a safe sanctuary where you can unplug and turn off devices to calm your mind.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter how you choose to calm your home or whether you use the principles of Feng Shui or not, once you walk into a beautiful, thoughtfully-planned space, you just relax.


Design trends to Refresh and Reinvigorate your home

Spring is a time of optimism, of rebirth and renewal and after long months of having to stay at home and look at the walls that enclose us, some of us may feel that we need to make a change to our bland and underwhelming interiors, remove drab and sombre tones and add some fresh, vibrant and exciting colour to our interiors.  

Unsurprisingly, there is a move away from minimalism to creating comforting and nurturing surroundings, embracing a more elegant, maximalist style; think layers, textures and mixing old with new but using sustainable materials, upcycling and recycling as much as possible. 

Omnis magnatem. Ut exped es ad quiae voluptat For 2021 Pantone has chosen not one but two colours of the year, pairing the neutral Ultimate Grey together with a sunny yellow called Illuminating which they say is: “A marriage of colour conveying a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting.” Grey has been the trendy neutral for several years now and to bring it up-to-date try using the yellow to give a pop of dynamic colour with cushions, throws and accessories. In contrast, Dulux announced Brave Ground as their colour of the year featuring warm earthy tones that they say “creates a feeling of stability, growth and potential; and provides a firm foundation for change and creativity in your home.” Warm neutrals take us back to nature and they work brilliantly with bursts of colour and can be a comforting, calm and timeless trend.  

Working from home has had a huge impact and has meant that we have had to repurpose existing rooms and come up with creative solutions to accommodate different zones where we can eat, sleep, work and play. Home offices, often just the dining room table or a desk set up in an available corner, need to be flexible spaces with multi-purpose furniture and clever storage solutions that can offer a sense of calm. Use curtains or shelving systems to act as room dividers and create zoned working areas. 

The rise of virtual meetings has led many of us to rethink our setting and background, and if you don’t want to follow the trend often seen in television interviews of someone sitting in front of a bookshelf, then you can craft a more aesthetically pleasing one just by installing some good lighting, interesting artwork or some strategically placed greenery. If a bookshelf is your only option, show off your books in style by arranging them by colour to create a visually pleasing backdrop. 

Another big trend has come from our desire to travel to distant lands, a wanderlust which we haven’t been able to fulfil because of lockdown restrictions. This will be echoed in interior design influences taken from exotic locations such as Moroccan inspired settings or tropical themed designs.  

Bringing the outside in is something else that features across the board of interior design. Green is everywhere at the moment and it could be said that this colour is the new grey. Synonymous with nature, different tones of green can evoke lush forests, verdant countryside or tranquil meadows. Use paler tones in a bedroom to soothe your mind, body and soul or the darker, jewel tones of emerald green paired with another colour that might surprise you – pink – now seen as another interiors neutral. 

Wallpaper is back with a bang. Not just for feature walls, but wrapped around the entire circumference of a room. If you want to make a statement consider using panoramic, scenic or painterly murals which have come a long way since the 1970s and Hilda Ogden’s beloved landscape “muriel” (her name for the mural on her living room wall). To complement the décor, graphic prints and rich coloured fabrics featuring exuberant floral prints in vivid colour combinations can be used for curtains and upholstery. For a sophisticated touch add highlights with cotton linens, raw silks, or wools and heavy weaves in neutral tones. 

Textured walls continue to be a big theme that has carried over from 2020, upgraded from the Anaglypta or woodchip wallpaper and thick swirly Artex that we remember from previous eras that were used to cover up uneven walls, now wallpaper can be found in different textured effects including printed cork, beaded papers or 3D designs that cry out to be touched.   Geometric wallpaper was another trend that started last year and it’s one that is here to stay. The bold, clean lines of repeating patterns combined with a touch of metallic is an easy way to add an air of sophistication to any room.   

The bedroom has become a sanctuary where we can take ourselves away from the anxieties of life outside our homes, somewhere we can find mental and physical relaxation, so it makes sense that we want it to be cosy and comforting as well as beautiful and stylish. Big upholstered headboards with taller, curved silhouettes have become the go-to choice to make a real statement and create a focal point. If you want a boutique hotel refined chic experience, combining luxurious materials in subtle shades will give you the opulence you crave. For an atmosphere of intimacy, so often found in boutique hotel bedrooms, paint or paper the walls in dark colours and brighten the room with mirrors and chandeliers. Consider hanging an extravagant floral mural behind the bed and then keep the accessories quite simple, with plain bedding in a colour that matches the backdrop and add accents in contrasting shades.

A growing trend in interior design has been the use of ecological materials such as reclaimed wood and stone mixed with textural details in wicker and rattan. Add these to your home with furniture made from cane, or baskets and planters made of rattan and soften with velvet and linen materials.  Talking of velvet, this luxurious material is back in fashion and no longer considered old-fashioned and boring and is set to become one of the most sought-after trends in 2021. Mixing not matching is the way to go with your furniture, but try and bind the scheme together through material, colour, style or pattern to make it a cohesive space. If the idea of mixing furniture seems a little too much, bear in mind that you don’t have to mismatch every piece of furniture in order to create an interesting interior.  

There is no doubt that our homes need more warmth, comfort, and cosiness now more than ever before. Rather than the straight lines that dominated furniture over the last decade we will be embracing curves and rounded silhouettes. Add drama to your living room with a seductive curved sofa with rounded arms and soft edges, oversized ergonomic chairs and tables with shapely legs. 

Don’t panic when you hear that Granny Chic, aka “grandmillennial,” is hotly tipped as a rising design trend for this year. This style is meant to evoke comfort, nostalgia and tradition and combines vintage style with contemporary elements.  To ensure it’s not twee, balance is crucial, so add some quirky and slightly kitschy patterns with floral wallpaper, delicate china or whimsical items that evoke memories of granny’s home, but don’t go overboard. Layer some new staple modern pieces such as a reclaimed wooden dining table with old chairs, hang mirrors with ornate frames and use bold colours. 

One of the small benefits of lockdown has been the appreciation that we have gained for our home environment, realising that it is a place of safety that can nurture and make us more productive, and there is no doubt that comfort, wellness and sustainability will be a priority for the foreseeable future. Although interior design trends keep going in and out of style, maybe we all need to indulge a little bit more in Hygge, the Danish concept of taking pleasure in everyday things and creating a cosy atmosphere in the home. So dim the lights, get out the scented candles, cuddle up under blankets and soft cushions (made from natural materials, of course) and enjoy.   



Moving House …. Or staying put.

We all like to make the house we live in our home or perhaps you’re trying to sell and you want to make it stand out from the rest. To achieve this you might decide to re-decorate, have new floors and maybe even a new kitchen and these big standout improvements will certainly help. However, there’s something a lot more subtle you can do which may not be so in your face but it will make a noticeable difference.

Take a look at your switches and sockets, have you got that one socket that doesn’t quite work right or a light switch the you need to use in a certain way for it to work or may be the light on the cooker switch doesn’t work.

Replacing these accessories with new ones can be fairly inexpensive, especially if you opt for white ones. If there’s a little more in your budget you could go for a decorative metal finish and there is a huge range available that will match in with the look and feel of your home.

Also consider introducing some sockets with integrated USB charging points or adding a dimmer to some lighting – just make sure your lights are dimmable.

Suddenly everything works properly and you’ve wiped out all those marks left behind from years of fingers poking at switches.

You might even decide to introduce some “smart” sockets or control modules behind light switches.

Now when it comes to smart home equipment don’t assume it’s only for large villas and houses or that everything throughout your house has to be a smart thing.

Here are a couple of examples where ClickSmart+ came in useful:

A customer’s child often needed the loo during the night and he would turn lights on, and leave them on, disturbing the rest of the household. A movement sensor in the hallway and a couple of lighting controllers means as soon as the little boy leaves his room the lights in the hall and bathroom would come on automatically at 5% brightness, stay on for 15 minutes then turn off.

A smart socket fitted to a customer’s mother’s house where the kettle was plugged in will send the customer a notification if the socket is not used between certain times of the day. That message prompts her to call and make sure her mother’s OK or if she just didn’t fancy her afternoon tea !

Another customer had smart sockets in the children’s rooms – one at a dressing table which will automatically switch off after being on for 10 minutes meaning the daughter’s hair straighteners are never left on. The socket in the boys room will switch off at a certain time of night meaning no late night gaming.

So smart home isn’t all about lazy home it can be used to solve problems, increase safety, decrease consumption and much more. You can add Click Smart+ to almost any home without any mess or disturbing your finishes.


First time buyers

The joy and excitement an individual experiences when buying their first home is something that we never forget.  The heady combination of nerves and elation stays with us always.

For many, buying your first property is a hugely significant moment. It is a momentous stride into a particular stage of our lives – a crossover from fully fledged adult into a property owner, a keeper of our own castle and that aspect of our adult life brings a whole new level of responsibility and aspiration.

Your first home is realistically chosen by what we can afford. We need to meet the mortgage without hopefully, sacrificing every other pleasure – big or small – in our lives. If every single penny is earns to pay the mortgage, our longed for home can soon feel like a millstone around our necks. We can end a viewing it as a burden rather than a home we have longed for.

Although finances primarily dictate what kind of property we can purchase, it is clearly not the only deciding factor. A solo buyer may opt for a smaller, more manageable flat or apartment. Naturally if you have children, a bigger home is preferable and outside space will be very desirable.  Equally, the green fingered amongst might place having a garden as a priority, possibly even above the size of the property.

Location for first time buyers is incredibly important, not simply for practical and logistical reasons but because you will look back at your first home with nostalgia and warmth that you may not attach to subsequent properties. Is living near family essential to you? Is creating a home close to your work or transport links a priority? Perhaps schools or elderly parents need to be factored in? Often, the decision on location will be a combination of several factors but clearly, with all major decisions, certain priorities will take precedence.

Once preferred location has been decided, the search can start in earnest. Looking online has changed the way we approach house hunting. We can now view the property, have a virtual walk through the rooms and take a look at the road, neighbouring properties and overall view. This can afford us the opportunity to get an initial feel for rooms, layout of property and where in the road it is situated.  What it can’t provide is the extremely important vibe you experience from actually standing in the property. The logistics and location are undeniable important but how we physically and emotionally react to a house is pivotal to whether we can envisage ourselves actually living there. No matter how tick-box perfect somewhere is, if you can’t imagine creating a life there, it clearly is not the home for you. Visiting at least a couple of times can prove very beneficial. Perhaps at different times of the day, a weekday and at the weekend. This will create a more realistic picture of the neighbourhood, level of noise and the general feel of the area. Your opinion about a house and how it can work for you as an individual, couple, or family is unquestionably important but your surrounding living area also has a role to play. It is part of a bigger landscape as to why you want to live there.

How we create our interiors, our living spaces differs depending on what we consider important and which elements work for how we live.  The colour palette we chose is incredibly important. It is widely acknowledged that certain colours inspire different moods and feelings. Blue is associated with serenity and calm, yellow symbolises energy and joy.  Personal favourites can influence what we feel comfortable surrounding ourselves with. There could be a nostalgic nod to our childhood or a colour that evokes comfort, inspiration – perhaps a touch of retro glamour.

Of course how we furnish our homes is incredibly important. For first time buyers, there is an extra level of relevance to how and what we choose.  We are not bringing items from a previous home – we are reflecting ourselves and our own personal choices for the very first time. 

The array of interior options is dazzling, from online retailers to more traditional store choices, furniture, mirrors, lighting, all these contribute to creating an ambiance. Every home has its own rhythm, a unique reflection on the person or family that lives there. 

Gordon Fraser is a Wellness Entrepreneur & Life Coach and believes ‘the sense of pride that comes with ownership, especially your first and the feelings of independence and achievement. This is the space where you’ll create so many of your life experiences; friends and family, neighbours, lovers, plumbers and delivery drivers may cross your threshold but most importantly – there will be no landlords and the rules you abide by will be the ones you set for yourself!

You can help reduce the anxiety of buying your first property by being clear on what you want, observing your budget, your “must haves” and what you will compromise on, too. Being organised is so important.

How many have had that “gut feeling” – one step over the threshold (and without even caring what the bathroom looks like), exclaimed – “this is the one!” because you fell in love with the fireplace?

We’ve been there. I’ve let my emotions and fantasies overrun my pragmatism and have been seduced by a bay window and a lilac wall – as I all to eagerly ignored the six-flights-of-stairs, the green and yellow bedroom and the lack of central heating!

Be careful, Décor is such a tease. In a way we’re buying other people’s lifestyles, we see their tastes and their values, their art and technology. If you’re potential home doesn’t meet your “must haves” it’s irrelevant what the colour of the walls are or the brand of fridge.

The walls can always be painted another colour, but the electric substation is unlikely to move. Stay focussed – why do you think it’s been on the market so long?

Before you start looking seriously, ideally have your deposit in the bank and your mortgage pre-arranged so you’re ready to go. Being seen as a proceedable buyer is attractive to the seller and will support your journey and help reduce the stress’.

Gordon Fraser, Wellbeing
Entrepreneur & Life Coach:

Website:  gordonfraser.cos


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