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Christmas shopping in Chiswick – Support local independents in 2020


Retailers have had to think outside the box and change the way they sell items throughout 2020, there’s never been a more important time to support local businesses.

Here we highlight a few of the places you might want to stop by, arrange a click & collect or order online for delivery this December to purchase presents, festive food and decorations when Christmas shopping in Chiswick.

Wheelers

Local garden centre, Wheelers is nestled just next to Turnham Green tube station, and is a longstanding feature of Chiswick with several flower stands dotted along the High Road and of course the flower stand next to the station itself.

From November, they sell a wide selection of beautiful festive home decorations and Christmas trees both cut and potted. They also sell gorgeous festive arrangements.

If you’re looking to add an indoor plant to your collection, or purchase one as a gift this year, Wheeler’s recommends a Peace Lily, Snake Plant or Boston fern as all have excellent air purifying qualities.

Snapdragon

A truly independent toy store, Snap Dragon is a an exciting shop catering to children in Chiswick. The shelves are stacked from floor to ceiling with toys to suit all ages.

From Lego to Jellycat cuddly toys, board games, costumes, craft kits, puzzles and all the popular characters children go mad for – it’s the perfect place to shop for the younger people on your Christmas present list.

You can find Snap Dragon mid-way down Turnham Green Terrace at number 56.

Marmalade jewellery

Specialists in making truly unique items of jewellery and in particular magnificent engagement, wedding and eternity rings, Marmalade Jewellery brings sparkle and glamour to Turnham Green Terrace.

With certified gemmologists, jewellery valuers and even a GemLab on site, their team can give you their expert knowledge on finding the perfect gemstone to compliment you. As well as alongside the beautiful rings, is a gorgeous range of British-designer silver jewellery, cufflinks and gift items. Marmalade is the perfect place to stop when looking for a Christmas gift for someone special in your life.

Elias and Grandsons

For generations Elias and Grandsons has been making and repairing shoes and leather items from their shop on Chiswick Common Road, which is just off of Turnham Green Terrace, by the common, before the bus stop if you’re coming from Chiswick High Road.

Their tucked away premises are frequented by locals who rely on them for their excellent services and beautiful leather goods. From stocking fillers to larger gifts Elias and Sons is a ‘must visit’ when seeking Christmas gifts.

Wild Swans

Located at 14 Devonshire Road, Wild Swans sell Scandinavian fashion, beauty and homeware. With a constantly evolving selection of labels you can be sure to be purchasing something a little more special.

The collection includes both up and coming designers and more established ones, many of whom are exclusive to Wild Swans and not available in any other shops in the UK. As many of us move to make our homes emulate Scandi simplicity to instil calm, it’s highly likely you will be able to find a perfect gift here.

Borough Kitchen

Since Borough Kitchen opened their Chiswick store on the High Road they’ve been a firm favourite with locals known to sell only the very best kitchen products.

From pickling kits to egg coddlers, nutcrackers and spice infusers there’s an excellent selection of smaller items that will make the perfect stocking filler for any budding chef. There are also excellent larger gifts, all carefully curated, you can be sure you’ll only be purchasing the highest quality items that are designed for heavy use and set to last.

Mummy Wine Club

Not all local independent stores have a shop front –  Mummy Wine Club founded by long-time local Victoria Daskal, is a Chiswick-based wine company which offers a monthly wine subscription. Each month (or every other month if preferred) a selection of carefully chosen organic and sustainable wines sourced from small, quality producers is shipped to subscribers.

If you’re looking for something a little different, something special that gives the recipient not only delicious wine but tips on food matching and professional tasting notes, as well as monthly educational and entertaining virtual wine tastings then the Mummy Wine Club could be the perfect Christmas gift.

Postmark

Independent and award winning greeting card retailer Postmark has just four shops in south and west London, if you’re looking to wrap your Christmas gifts in something stand out or want to send cards that aren’t the standard styles found at the larger chain stores then Postmark is the perfect place to look.

They stock Christmas cards, wrap, bags and larger packs of cards together with a selection of diaries and smaller stationary gifts including Lamy pens. The Chiswick store has been open since 2014 but in case you don’t know where to find them, they’re at 53 Turnham Green Terrace.

Macken Brothers

If you live in Chiswick and enjoy eating good meat, it’s likely you’ve stood in the queue outside Macken’s on a Saturday at some point – their popularity is down to the incredibly high-quality meats on offer and of course the service with a smile. All the meat is produced from UK small farms with no additives or growth promoters, all naturally grass fed.

They also hand out excellent cooking tips if you need them!

Established in 1960 by brothers Jim and Peter Macken and now run by Jim's son Rodney, Macken Brothers Butchers is a long-standing feature of Turnham Green Terrace.

The last day for ordering a Christmas turkey for 2020 is Saturday 19th December, if you’d like a change this year Rodney recommends either a Judy Goodman Goose or a Packington Cockerel which comes in 3-6kg in weight!

Fudges

One of London’s oldest independent bicycle retailers, many in West London will only trust Fudges when making a purchase or for services and repairs.

Fudges have everything from the recreational kids and adults’ bikes to commuters and electric bikes. They sell well known brands such as Brompton and Raleigh along with lesser known brands, they’ll even help you source hard to find bicycles and parts.

Not limited to bikes Fudges also sell scooters, cargo bikes and child seats – a great place to shop local if you’re planning on buying a bike or scooter this Christmas.

Chiswick Pets

Year round Chiswick Pets is the local go to for natural and organic pet food, treat and toys. They also supply bedding, training aids and cleaning and other supplies for a wide range of animals.

If you’re planning on purchasing your pet a special Christmas treat or toy, Chiswick Pets can help – they’re located at 32-34 Devonshire Road

Zen Maitri

Health is well and truly at the forefront of minds, so a visit to Zen Maitri, Chiswick’s Natural Health Apothecary, could be ideal for gifting those you care about this Christmas.

They offer a range of natural products and delicious herbal teas if you’re looking for stocking fillers. For Christmas they’ve put together hampers such as the Immunity Care Collection, Sleep Better Gift Hamper and The Stay Healthy Hamper – to suit a variety of budgets. 

Zen Maitri can be found at 39 Turnham Green Terrace.

Supporting local independents in 2020

We’re hugely supporting of independent businesses that operate locally in Chiswick and hope that the community is able to find all they need within the W4 postcode.

To learn more about these wonderful businesses head over to Paul Cooney’s Instagram page - @paul.m.cooney - where we’ve interviewed a number of local stores in the run up to December.

You’ll find tips on all types of things from what flowers to add to a festive bouquet to what meat to try next for a Sunday roast.

Could the new plans for Hammersmith Bridge be the long-awaited solution?


A temporary bridge scheme was announced on the day organisers of the annual Boat Race declared they were moving the money-spinning event to Cambridgeshire

Closed for 18 months to cars and since August to pedestrians and cyclists, Hammersmith Bridge cuts a forlorn – if still majestic – figure in West London’s riverside.

The 133-year-old bridge is broken and dangerous. But it’s also a critical piece of transport infrastructure that’s plunged many lives north and (especially) south of the river into disarray. Specifically, it’s affected the commutes of more than 1,000 pupils who normally cross the bridge every day to attend schools in Hammersmith & Fulham.

And without serious repairs, it’s so unsafe that even the two boats of Oxford and Cambridge are forbidden to speed underneath it for a few seconds once a year. The Times has dubbed Hammersmith Bridge – ‘The Bridge of Shame’ – after the Boat Race announcement and the subsequent discussion of Britain’s crumbling infrastructure.

Without Government funding to Transport for London and Hammersmith & Fulham Council to aid the repairs – estimated to be an eye-watering £141 million – the bridge isn't estimated to be fully functional again for another three years.

New engineering scheme

H&F announced that it had found an inventive new engineering scheme thanks to Sir John Ritblat from developers Delancey, and world leading architects and engineers Foster + Partners.

Now, a temporary raised bridge scheme could make the repairs both faster and cheaper. And it would allow for cars, pedestrians and cyclists to cross while pieces of the historic cast iron bridge are shipped away to be repaired before being replaced.

What do you think? Email: autumn@hortonandgarton.co.uk and let us know.

Surprise

The announcement seemed to catch everyone by surprise. 

Under the proposal, a new raised truss structure would be built above the existing road deck featuring a lower level for pedestrians and cyclists and an upper level for cars and buses. This could all happen within a year of appointing a contractor – including boats passing underneath it.

I am optimistic that we now have a viable option within our grasp that is a win for all,” said H&F Council Leader, Stephen Cowan.

Two challenges

While Roger Ridsdill Smith, head of Structural Engineering at Foster + Partners, said: “We believe that our concept resolves the two challenges for Hammersmith Bridge economically and efficiently: delivering a temporary crossing quickly, whilst providing a safe support to access and refurbish the existing bridge. We appreciate the engagement and contribution from the technical experts in charge of the bridge and look forward to further studies to develop the scheme.”

Will it work? Time will tell, but it should at least dial down the vitriol on all sides. But just like the promise of the Covid vaccine on the horizon, this could be the shot in the arm that West London needs to get back to normal life and routines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preparing your home for sale – 5 top tips from a seasoned estate agency


If you’re thinking about selling your property and want to make sure you achieve the best possible sale price, there are a few key steps you can take to ensure your property is not only showcased online in the best light, but that it also views well in person.

In a world of click bait its incredibly important to think about how your property will show online – getting a potential buyer to not only click on your property, but to view the details and arrange a viewing in person is a lot to do with marketing.

Whilst a selling agent can ensure they use the very best local property photographer and a professional writer to create an appealing listing, there are a number of things an owner can do to really boost a property’s saleability.

Following these top tips on preparing your house for sale could not only encourage your home to sell quickly, but may also push the price upwards.

1. Start with the front door

When a buyer is viewing a property, they're taking everything in from the moment they turn onto your road.

Whilst you can’t control what the neighbours have done to the front of their house or whether the road sweepers collected the leaves prior to the appointment, you can make sure your property makes the very best first impression.

Not limited to the front door, have you trimmed the bush or painted the wall or fence? Are the path tiles in good condition? Is it worth investing in replacements or simply giving them a clean?

Cleaning the windows is often overlooked, but again every detail contributes to making the best first impression.

Stand on the other side of the road and really take your home in, what would you think if you were a buyer and what could you do to make it better – it’s usually not very costly and most things can be done without professional help.

2. Declutter

Removing clutter from your home,or simply having better storage solutions so the clutter isn’t visible, should be one of the top priorities for those who are preparing their house for sale. This is especially important since buyers are choosing to study a property’s images and virtual tours online in advance of arranging a viewing in person – clutter does not make for good online viewing.

Rooms that are too busy often appear smaller and it can be incredibly difficult for a potential buyer to imagine their furniture fitting into space that is crammed filled with belongings. Buyers will also want to look inside built-in storage, so try not to just stuff your belongings behind doors. It’s important to demonstrate that your home has adequate storage.

Selling a house when you have children presents unique challenges especially when there are lots of toys to contend with, so it’s worth putting as many (as is reasonable) away in the loft or in a cupboard.

The effort of tidying these away temporarily won’t go unnoticed and might well contribute to a quicker sale. Furthermore, when they’re brought back out again it’ll be like Christmas morning!

3. Maintenance

Once you’ve cleared your property of clutter, you’re likely to notice more scuffs, bumps and scrapes. Buyers can become very critical and are often put off by the idea of any DIY.

Simple home maintenance, giving the property a fresh lick of paint, tightening door handles, replacing bulbs and generally going over the property to check everything is in working order is a good idea. Buyers are taking more time to study a property online; scuff marks and damaged cupboard doors can make your property stand out for all the wrong reasons and perhaps put a potential buyer off viewing.

Don’t overlook the garden either! No matter what season, the garden is always important when preparing your home for sale. Cut back trees and bushes, tidy plants and mow the lawn. If its spring or summer bring out the garden furniture (be sure to give it a clean!) to set the scene and, if possible, plant some colourful flowers

4. Deep clean

After you’ve decluttered and tackled any maintenance issues, the cobwebs in the corner of the ceiling and the limescale that’s mounted on the shower head are going to stand out.

From the oven to the carpets, giving your property a deep clean is an important step when preparing your house for sale. Depending on how much time you have or whether you enjoy cleaning you can usually give the property a deep clean yourself, or alternatively pay a professional cleaning company.

The difference in not only how clean and shiny everything is, but how your home will smell fresh and clean upon entering will make a huge difference to potential buyers.

Some people love animals and are thrilled to find the home is perfectly suited to their dog or cat as demonstrated by the current inhabitants. However, be mindful though that not everyone loves animals and might even be allergic so it can be a good idea to send your dog to the groomer and to wash his or her bedding too in advance of viewings beginning.

5. Set the scene

Whilst decluttering is important, try not to be too extreme-there’s a fine balance. Whilst you want to remove all the unnecessary items, removing all traces of personality can make a home seem cold and uninviting, and ultimately not a place a potential buyer could imagine living in.

Soft furnishings, splashes of colour, art and photographs can all add to the welcoming feel of a property so try not to eradicate all signs of life.

There’s a reason professional home staging companies are often employed by developers to make their properties ultra-saleable. Buyers will be looking for a lifestyle as well as a home and setting the scene to enable them to imagine living in your property can hugely boost saleability. Add fresh flowers before viewings if possible and open all the curtains to fill your home with light. If the weather is good, open windows to let fresh air in.

Having sold homes in West London for over a decade, we can competently advise sellers on what works and what doesn’t, what is needed to boost a property’s saleability, and what steps to take to achieve the best possible price in the current market.

Contact us for a no obligation discussion regarding your plans to sell your home.

Brackenbury Village Christmas Scarecrow competition


Last Thursday saw the first ever Brackenbury Village Community Quiz, organised by the Brackenbury Residents Association and hosted by our very own Autumn Carpenter. Usually, the annual quiz takes place in The Thatched House pub on Dalling Road, however due to COVID-19 restrictions the quiz moved online and households from across Hammersmith and beyond took part.

As long supporters of the Resident’s Association, Horton and Garton Director John Horton MNAEA MARLA provided the prizes this year- although sadly didn't do too well in the quiz himself! It came as no surprise to the Horton and Garton team that lettings negotiator (and reigning in-office quiz champion) Thomas Simlett won the first prize of a £100 voucher to spend on food and drink at The Thatched House as soon as its doors reopen again.

For the still impressive achievement of second place, Brackenbury resident Fiona Gaunt received a hand delivered bottle of Bollinger from Askew wines.

However, that’s not the end of the Christmas events around the Village as we are delighted to also be supporting the Brackenbury Residents Association's 'Christmas Scarecrow competition'.

To enter the competition, residents must create a Christmas themed scarecrow and place it in their front garden or window. The scarecrows can be big, small, funny or as silly you like as long as it's homemade and festive. All entrants must send a photograph into media@brackenburyresidents.co.uk to have their Scarecrow judged.

The first entrant into the competition created by Autumn Carpenter and her brother Ossian and found on Dalling Road

Once again, John Horton has kindly provided the prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place of gift vouchers for the wonderful Snapdragon toyshop on Turnham Green. The prizes are £75 for first place, £50 for second and £25 for 3rd.

Best of luck to all entrants and don't forget to upload your creations and tag both us @hortonandgarton, and @brackenbury_BRA on social media, along with the hashtag #BrackenburyScarecrow for a shoutout.

New map of trees in Ravenscourt Park picks 25 of the most magnificent


Horton and Garton supports the Friends of Ravenscourt Park to create its superb new tree trail

When did you last look at trees? I mean, really look at trees? Ravenscourt Park has some remarkable examples, including an unusual Indian Bean Tree, a Chinese Tree of Heaven and a rare female version of a tree whose heritage stretches back 250 million years.

Now, the park’s Friends group has created a tree trail to help identify and appreciate more of the magnificent specimens that fill our wonderful park. The new guide was sponsored and designed by Horton and Garton.

With more than 600 trees to choose from, the Friends of Ravenscourt Park have picked 25 notable examples, and it’s possible to join the tree trail from any of the park’s 10 entry points. 

Park is major draw to area

If you go in from the Memorial Gates on King Street, just up the road from the Horton and Garton office, you’ll spot a North American gem, a Red Oak – named after the colour of its leaves at this time of year. 

But if you enter the park from beside the Ladybird Nursery on Goldhawk Road, the first trees that you’ll spot on your right are ones linked to the coming festive season, Holly. Look out for the red berries that appear in the winter. 

John Horton, founder and director of Horton and Garton, said: "I’m lucky enough to walk through Ravenscourt Park almost every day, and always marvel at the trees, and how they change through the seasons, while still remaining fixed points in the landscape. It makes me appreciate what an asset this is for Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush. 

"As the market leading estate agent for the area, I’m always being told by families looking to move to Hammersmith that Ravenscourt Park is one of the big draws.  

"Which is why Horton and Garton is proud to support the Friends in celebrating the chestnuts, cedars, elms and planes with the Ravenscourt Park Tree Trail, featuring photographs of the trees, to help you identify them and learn about their origins and characteristics." 

Perfect time to visit

The park has never been more popular than during the pandemic, with everyone keen to get out and breathe some fresh air, and enjoy the boost to our wellbeing that comes from being surrounded by trees. 

So congratulations to the Friends for producing the tree guide, and to the Friends’ chair, Annabelle May, for her kind words when she said: "Horton and Garton have a well-deserved reputation for their community spirit as well as for their in-depth local knowledge, so we were delighted when they offered to sponsor the Friends’ new Tree Trail in Ravenscourt Park. It was a pleasure working with them."

You can download the tree trail here: http://www.friendsofravenscourtpark.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Ravenscourt-Park-Tree-Trail.pdf 

 

Second lockdown drives sudden movement in the rental market


With tenants looking to move pre-Christmas, now is the time to list your property

Our lettings team report a marked uptick in tenant registrations this month. Swift decisions on the very best properties in Hammersmith, Chiswick and Shepherd’s Bush are being taken as tenants are wanting to install themselves in their new homes before Christmas. In a bizarre twist, Tier 3 lockdown has positively contributed to willing and able tenants’ ability to view and snap up their next home. At the helm of the Horton and Garton lettings team for 13 years, Ashley Clements MARLA MNAEA says of the market shift, “I must admit that we were expecting a quiet month with the lockdown restrictions coming into force but we’ve been rushed off our feet which is fantastic. If you’re a landlord thinking of listing your property this side of 2020, now is the time!”

Thus far in November, our lettings team has agreed 8 lets with many more anticipated before December. Lettings Negotiator Dominika Sielawa notes, “With the rapid changes and lockdown in place, the rental market ramped up several gears! We do feel like our tenants have all the time they need to move now with the current guidelines in place and that is what we’re here for. Our rigorous protocols err on the side of caution and follow government regulations to the letter; we’re here to get you moving!”

"This is the team to go to! They get to know you and what you are looking for, ensure all your needs are met/find alternatives, and see you through to the end. In stressful times, Tom and the team really did bring a sense of comfort and normality to us. You will not regret using Horton and Garton, I can promise that."

                                                                          - Zeena, Hammersmith tenant

Call Ashley and his team on 020 8819 0511 or send us an email for a conversation about how you can make the most of the market movement. Our dedicated lettings professionals are at your service.

 

Interior trends 2021: Chiswick homes leading the way


Having spent more time at home in 2020 than ever before, many are choosing now to give their homes an update. These can be simply cosmetic, the reconfiguration of rooms or in some cases, people are choosing to extend their homes.

Whether you’re thinking of selling your home and looking for a way to add value, or are considering what changes to make, there are a number of interior trends that are seeing a resurgence and others that have been around for a while and are here to stay. 

Here we look at the interior trends for 2021 with a little help from interior stylist Olivia Prentis.

Home Offices

Record numbers are now working from home. Where to begin with people had created a make-shift workspace that would suffice for a few months, the outlook now looks as though home working will become a more permanent set up for many companies and as a result, individuals are seeking more permanent solutions.

Repurposing an existing space or carving out a dedicated area to service as their new home office, there’s now a real need for a place to focus, be creative, attend video conferences and get tasks completed.

What are your top tips for creating a workspace or home office?

As we are halfway through another lockdown and many of us have returned to working from home this subject feels very relevant. I am currently using a makeshift office in our dining room, as my husband is in the home study which is at the top of the house away from the chaos of daily life. But before I moved rooms, I made sure I had some important creature comforts starting my desk chair. 

There are many ways to create the 'perfect home office', but to begin with a good chair is one thing I would focus on, ensuring it is comfortable and supportive. I have always been a big fan of Charles Ray Eames Furniture and found these affordable and comfortable replicas from a company called Boss Living - with over 30 colours to choose from, there’s something to suit everyone! For the more eco-conscious out there that would prefer not to have plastic chairs, fibreglass options are available.

Another top tip would be to find a space which is in a clean, uncluttered and ideally in a quiet corner of your home. If you can, place an aspirational picture on the wall above your desk, or in the room where you are, so that you can have an escape from your screen. These don’t have to be by famous artists and can even just be a print of an inspirational quote. Local colour connoisseur, author and blogger Martha Roberts has created these gorgeous colour filled prints that are all guaranteed to bring some colour and brightness to your home. I also love the work of Carol from Max Made Me Do It, her collection is full of fun inspirational finds. Lastly, Paul Thurlby is a fantastic illustrator who’s sure to bring a smile to your office with his bold and bright eye catching designs.

Something else I advise is to position your desk near a window, the outside world is a wonderful distraction from work and natural daylight is essential for a clear and focused mind.  However, now that the days get dark before the working day ends (and let’s be honest some days it feels like the day is forever dark) it’s sensible to invest in good lighting which isn’t too bright or harsh, and suits the home environment, whilst equally keeping you alert on those very dreary winter days. Ikea have a brilliant new range of work lamps to suit a variety of home styles.

Nordic Interiors

Clutter free, simplistic spaces are said to boost positive thoughts and improve productivity – Nordic interior style epitomises this minimalism. Thanks to IKEA many items that fit this style can be secured at a reasonable price.

Scandinavian furniture is often defined by simple lines and functionality, such items together with a neutral colour palette can quickly transform a space. 

How can you create a clean, simplistic work space when you have clutter? 

When it comes to clever storage solutions there are lots of ideas to chose from. These are my top tips:

  • If you are at a ‘temporary’ desk, with no drawers to store your essential office stationery, find a box to house all of those things so that it isn’t cluttering your work space. Some gorgeous examples which aren’t too ‘utilitarian and office like’ can be found. H&M home also has a lovely range including simple wooden boxes which would suit any interior style. There are also options such as this Wire Desk Organiser from local retailer Greige Lifestyle (but you might need to add some felt to the bottom to stop your pens falling through the squares);
  • Create some kind of at home ‘filing system’. You may already have one for your home life paperwork, in which case you will only need a smaller solution for you temporary ‘work’ filing, but either way The Dormy House and Habitat have some lovely at home filing systems. The first of which, from the Dormy House, I adapted to suit the rest of the carpentry we built in the office. I then painted it to match the other cupboards in the room and had a bespoke filing cabinet at a very reasonable price. For a more modern, Nordic look, Habitat has a great collection of shelves and cabinets in a variety of sizes and colours all of which would suit a contemporary, modern setting.

  • Ensure that any surrounding shelves are styled, organised and pleasing to the eye. This is a service I can offer, or there are some brilliant publications to help you style those shelves including, ‘Shelfie’ by Martha Roberts, and ‘Creative Display' by Geraldine James, both available at all high street retailers.
  • Go wireless where possible to ensure a clean lined look and try to keep your space clear and clutter free.

Winter Balcony or Garden

2020 has made outside space a top priority for home movers and ideally a space that can be enjoyed year-round. A winter balcony or area of the garden that can be used through the colder months serves as an extension of a property’s interior space.

Many images of winter gardens that offer inspiration include festoon lights or fairy lights, potted plants, cosy cushions and blankets and often a source of heat.

Those considering selling in the winter months who have outdoor space might want to consider making the space cold weather friendly to attract potential buyers and make their property stand out. 

Top 3 suggestions for creating a cosy winter garden setting

  1. Ensure it is a tidy and welcoming space. Make sure you’ve gathered up the Autumn leaves, deadheaded the tired looking plants, pulled out all the weeds and show that the garden is ready for ‘bed’ during those winter months.
  2. But, don’t forget, just because the plants are sleeping doesn’t mean the space needs to. Festoon lights are a brilliant addition to brightening up those small spaces, along with fairy lights in the trees, lanterns and lighting in the garden beds or on the walls.
  3. On the days you have viewings add some outdoor cushions to the garden furniture, and light the outdoor fire to create a sense of warmth.

Dried flowers

The indoor jungle has boomed and remains to be hugely popular, not everyone is especially green fingered and it might simply not be possible to maintain indoor plants. In a bid to add texture and some leafiness to their homes many have turned to Pampas grass and dried flowers. With the question – 'How do you dry flowers?' seeing a huge spike in search traffic online.

It’s incredibly easy to dry flowers – its recommended that you remove the leaves before arranging the flowers into a bouquet and tie them together. Then simply hang them upside down in a dry, ideally darkened area for around 3-4 weeks.

Although my skills as a florist are still a work in progress, I find that dried hydrangeas work well to form the basis of any dried flower arrangement. Eucalyptus leaves and pampas grass also add colour and interest to dried arrangements. I often look at Shida Preserved Flowers for some dried flower inspiration.

Sustainable furniture

Sustainable furniture is furniture that has been made out of recycled or reclaimed materials, it could even be a restored or up-cycled piece. Finding items to add to your home that have been created locally or are generally more environmentally friendly is something we should all be more conscious of. Sustainable furniture tends to last longer and wear better.

In 2021 it’s expected that even more individuals will choose to take a more conscientious approach to furnishing their homes.

Olivia's favourite places in West London to find furniture and art

This is a difficult one to answer as with the recent pandemic I haven’t been out shopping as much as normal so like many of us have resorted to going online to source furniture and home accessories. There are lots of online businesses focusing on the sustainable market and I can’t not mention Juliet Haines from who has a brilliant sustainable home furnishings business.

However I do still love to browse the shops for inspiration and my favourite haunts are: The Old Cinema for furniture, Decorexi for lighting, Frivoli for Art and Home Decor and for a wonderful day of finding treasures, I love the monthly Chiswick Car Boot Sale.

Home grown vegetables and fruit

With sustainability in front of mind, many have longed to be able to grow their own produce, taking steps to be more environmentally friendly.

Lockdown saw a spike in ‘grow your own’, those who’d previously wished to have the time to tend to a vegetable garden suddenly found themselves at home with the time and ability to do it.

No matter the size of your garden or balcony, or even in the instance you’re planning on growing vegetables, fruit or herbs indoors – there’s likely something you can grow fairly easily. Fruit and vegetables are often easier to have success with than plants!

What plants are the easiest to grow with limited space?

I would be lying if I said I was a great fruit and vegetable gardener! My green fingers are led by a lot of trial and error, but I can say we successfully grew some sunflowers during lockdown and have always had great results from bulbs over the years plantings lots of tulips and daffodils in the autumn and reaping the benefits in the spring. I know from friends though that courgettes, tomatoes and carrots are apparently easy to grow, no matter what size space you have as all can be done in small pots or large flowerbeds.

If you do want to be brave though and buy a houseplant or two I can tell you (from experience) that spider plants and ferns are rapid growers which need very little TLC and simply need some water when they look a little parched and can add a lot of life to a bare and empty space. House plants can really add to a room.

If you'd like to see some of Olivia's work and find out more about this West London company, view her portfolio at Post Prentis Design.

 

What is conveyancing? A guide for buyers and sellers


Conveyancing is the process of transferring ownership of a property – in this blog we break down the steps of conveyancing and the considerations to be made by both sellers and buyers

Put simply, conveyancing is the process of transferring ownership of a property. Anyone who has bought or sold a property in the past will know that the process can have hiccups and some stages can take longer than anticipated.

Working together with solicitors, mortgage brokers, the seller and the buyer, a selling agent is there to ensure the process is as smooth and stress free as possible for all parties involved.

The two stages that are worked towards are exchange of contracts and completion of the sale. There is a fair amount of work to be carried out before these stages can be reached.

What are the steps in conveyancing?

The process of buying a property should be straight forward but it can be a winding path that causes both buyers and sellers confusion, there are several key steps in conveyancing that will always take place:

1. Instruction to begin – Upon agreeing an offer both buyer and seller notify their solicitors. The selling agent will send both solicitors a Memorandum of Sale with the full details of all parties.

2. Draft contract sent to buyers’ side – The seller’s solicitor will complete a draft contract and send it to the buyer’s solicitor. The draft contract will include property forms completed by the seller, official copies (electronic deeds) and duplicates of relevant documents for the property.

3. Buyer’s solicitor applies for searches and investigates title – this is usually the longest part of the process – the buyer’s solicitor will review the paperwork sent by the sellers solicitor and raise enquiries they have over the paperwork or questions from the buyer in order to obtain all the necessary information to buy the property. The seller’s solicitor will often revert with their client, and also provide additional information or paperwork. The selling agent can be of use at this stage as a line of communication between both sides on matters that do not require legal attention. Often queries can be raised from the results of a survey. The buyer’s solicitor also applies for searches with the local authority and other organisations relevant to the purchase (See below for more on searches).

4. Report on Title – Once the buyer’s solicitor has received the searches back and received satisfactory replies to enquiries, they can compile a report for the buyer. The final statement is usually sent along with the report breaking down the amount of money due on exchange and completion.

5. Signing papers and transfer of funds – To have arrived at this stage both buyer and seller will be happy to progress with the sale based on the work carried out by their solicitors. The contracts are signed, and the buyer will place their solicitor ‘in funds’ with the deposit monies in order to progress to exchange. By this stage completion dates will have been agreed. Before exchange takes place, a lender will require a buyer to obtain buildings insurance.

6. Exchange contracts – The completion date is set, and the transaction becomes legally binding at the point of exchange. The buyer’s solicitor will send the deposit money to the seller’s solicitor. There are a few things to note at this stage:
a. The seller can no longer accept another offer, the buyer cannot be gazumped after exchange.
b. If a buyer chooses not to complete the purchase after exchange and will lose the deposit.
c. Should the seller choose not to complete after exchange they can be sued.

7. Completion – Also known as ‘move in day’, completion takes place when the seller’s solicitor confirms that they have received all the money due to purchase the property.

After completion a buyer’s solicitor will pay Stamp Duty Land Tax on the buyer’s behalf, send a copy of the title deeds to the buyers mortgage lender (if they’re using a mortgage), they will send legal documents to the Land Registry so the deeds can be transferred officially and will notify the freeholder if the property is leasehold.

What are 'searches' when buying a house?

The buyer’s solicitor will conduct several different types of searches during the process of conveyancing in order to accurately prepare their report on the title.

Local Authority Searches will include information relating to planning decisions in the area or proposals for new roads or railways. Another part of the search reports on whether the property is within a conservation area, subject to tree protection orders, a listed building or in a smoke control zone.

There are additional reports such as Environmental searches that might highlight flooding risks and Water Authority Searches which show the location of public sewers. These are not included within the standard local authority searches but can be necessary for certain purchases and some lenders will request these additional searches as standard – a buyer will incur additional costs for these.

Searches enable a buyer to make a well-informed purchasing decision and, in some cases, result in further surveys or investigations being carried out by specialists.

Though a seller is not involved in the responses provided in searches, it might be that they have useful documents or information relevant to the results from when they purchased the property that can be useful to the buyer and their solicitor.

Is it better to use a solicitor or conveyancer?

This is a question often asked by buyers and sellers and the answer usually comes down to personal preference.

It’s useful to highlight the difference between the two: A solicitor is fully trained in legal services but will specialise in conveyancing and though usually more costly than a conveyancer they’re often able to handle more complex situations. A licensed conveyancer is trained in only in conveyancing and cannot deal with more complex legal issues. A solicitor is usually preferred for properties of higher value.

Buying a property in Chiswick will often mean a buyer will encounter conservation areas or plans for development and it can be useful to have a solicitor on side to ensure everything is researched and reported fully.

There’s also merit in finding a solicitor who has knowledge of Chiswick or at least the London property market so they are able to competently work through leases and many other legalities commonly found in the capital.

Though we’re always happy to recommend a solicitor to our clients and potential buyers, as with mortgage brokers it is always wise to speak with a few professionals in advance of proceeding to a sale to ensure you trust the person you’ll be paying to oversee your sale or purchase.

If you would like to find out more, speak to a member of our Chiswick sales team at chiswick@hortonandgarton.co.uk, or our Hammersmith and Shepherd's Bush sales team at sales@hortonandgarton.co.uk.

Battle of the bins begins in Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush


Many homeowners in W6 and W12 recently woke up to the sight of new wheelie bins and food waste containers outside their front gates. But will the scheme delight or disappoint?

Kerbs across Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush look a bit different now that new food waste containers and wheelie bins have been delivered to some homes.

Large green wheelie bins – for rubbish – and large grey ones – for recycling – were delivered recently. With light grey food waste containers also being delivered separately.

The new service from H&F Council is being rolled out across a limited local area to test the new system, before being potentially expanded across the whole borough depending on resident feedback.

Are you getting new bins? See where the new service is being rolled out.

The pros? The wheelie bins mean that rubbish can be stored safely the pesky foxes. This should spell an end to neighbours waking up to find rubbish strewn across their road. And separating food waste from rubbish means that it’s much better for the environment.

The cons? Well, the rubbish and recycling bins are big and plastic and not so stylish. And with kerb appeal important to many local residents, they may not tickle everyone’s fancy!

So far, responses have varied. From some residents objecting to the huge plastic bins filling their small front gardens, to other residents applauding the council for finally launching a food waste service like neighbouring boroughs.

Social media has been awash with comments from local residents, including Charlie Baker who said: “OMG! Ginormous wheelie bins just delivered. H&F must be joking. The recycling bin is HUGE! Big ugly things ruin front gardens and views from front rooms. Are we supposed to push these monsters out into the street on collection day?”

To which Caroline Macmillan replied: “They are VAST. And UGLY.” And later Diana Rae agreed: “I have four enormous ones in my front garden because we are two flats. As you say, ruins the view from my sitting room.”

There was also support for the scheme. Acton resident John Naulis comforted locals by saying: “I felt exactly the same when Ealing Council introduced these to Acton a few years ago but I have got used to them now. I've grown a bush to hide them from the street. Good points include no more rubbish bags for the foxes to rip open. All the recycling is in a single bin, no need to sort it.

And Matthew Croxford defended the scheme, saying: “It helps recycling/separation of all our rubbish and reduces landfill. Sure, the big bins are definitely ugly but so is London's waste problem. We throw an awful lot of stuff away.” While a hopeful Steph Marinkovic added: “Fingers crossed H&F can roll them out everywhere. Sad to have missed out.”

There is no change to collections days for the homes in the trial area. You can check your current bin collection day here.

If you’ve been using your own bins to store rubbish, H&F say they can collect these from you, to help keep your property clear. Just email: cleaner.greener@lbhf.gov.uk

H&F Council told Horton and Garton:We’re here to listen to concerns and help residents make the most of this great new service. So, if you think you’ve received the wrong number of bins for your property, are concerned about the size, or have any other bin-related queries, please get in touch.”

Want more details? Visit H&F’s food waste and wheeled bins webpage.