5 Chester Restaurants You Should Definitely Try!

Our CB Homes office is based in the beautiful, rural heart of Cheshire. Tarporley, to be specific. Although our surroundings are green and peaceful, we’re just a stone’s throw away from the buzzing city centre of Chester! We’re massively grateful to be in such a great location and it got us thinking. Many of our housing developments are located in similar areas – fields on the doorstep and exciting cities not much further away. That’s the great thing about residing in Cheshire, Shropshire and the surrounding counties: you get the best of both worlds!

So, we started thinking about the best bits of living so close to a city like Chester. And the first thing we thought of was, well, the food! The walled city is bursting at the seams with great independent eateries; you’d never have to eat at a boring chain restaurant again. Here is our list of five Chester restaurants that you should definitely try:

Nine Elephants Thai Drink & Dine

Nine Elephants may be a newcomer but it’s burst onto the food and drink scene in a way that we’ve not seen for a while. There weren’t many Thai restaurants in Chester (just two) so Nine Elephants had a good chance. The eatery is based just outside the city walls on Northgate Street, so it’s in a prime location for people popping into town. There’s an incredibly extensive menu with everything from stir-fries and curries to street food and sizzling noodles.

Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan or have other dietary needs, the freshly-cooked food will be altered to your preference by the attentive staff. For lovers of Thai food and a great night out, we couldn’t recommend Nine Elephants more. Oh, and they do great cocktails, too!

Atina Kitchen

With almost 700 reviews on Trip Advisor, it’s safe to say that this tucked-away gem is a favourite amongst both locals and visitors to Chester. Atina Kitchen is located on Foregate Street opposite Primark, Wetherspoons and Revolution, so it’s in a pretty popular area of the city centre. However, you’d never know it was there! Stepping into Atina Kitchen is like stepping into a small slice of heaven.

The staff are great, the drinks selection is impressive and the menu is one of the tastiest we’ve ever tried. From breakfast and brunch to a lovely evening meal, the kitchen is open all day long so you can come and go whenever you please. They’ve got burgers, sandwiches, pasta dishes and breakfast specials (including plenty of avocado and halloumi) – you’ll be spoilt for choice.

La Fattoria

Image sourced from Chester 360

Another favourite amongst locals (see a pattern here?) is La Fattoria, delivering an authentic Italian restaurant experience. If you’re a fan of Italian cuisine then we recommend stopping here for lunch or dinner, where you will be greeted by the friendliest waiters and tastiest homemade food. Step into the cosy restaurant on Lower Bridge Street and you’ll see that the decor is extravagant but with a real Italian vibe. You’ll be made to feel right at home here.

From the creamy carbonara to the fresh Caprese salad, all your favourite foods from Italy are on this decadent menu. We’ve never seen so many pasta dishes in our life; there’s something for everyone from seafood linguine to ricotta cannelloni. Dining at La Fattoria is a real experience – you’ll know what we mean once you’ve tried it.

Gate of India

Travel to South Asia and become immersed in fantastic flavours and warm hospitality: Gate of India is one of Chester’s most-loved Indian restaurants. You’ll find this delightful tavern of tastes on City Road, just a short walk from Chester Station. So it’s located incredibly conveniently for those who’d like to indulge in a beer or two!

The best thing about Gate of India? It is extremely well-priced, you’ll get double the food for the same money you’d pay in a similar restaurant elsewhere. Whether you fancy a lamb pasanda or a king prawn balti, you’ll find exactly what you’re craving in this old-school curry house. And the entire time you’re enjoying your meal, you will be served with a smile. Guaranteed.

Porta Wine & Tapas Bar

Last but certainly not least, next up on our list of top Chester eateries is Porta Wine & Tapas Bar. This hidden gem is tucked away just underneath the Northgate Street city wall entrance, so you’re pretty close to everything else in town, too. Porta is perfect for those looking for something a little bit different. If you’re visiting Chester with your other half, this is a great place for a special treat.

The wine list is fantastic so you’ll be spoilt for choice when choosing your tipple for the evening. And as for the food, well, it’s simply stunning. If you’ve never tried tapas before this is definitely a great place to start. From the traditional tortilla and Jamon Iberico to delicious Portuguese custard tarts, you’ll be dying to come back for more.

Check out our current properties and plots for sale near Chester

How to Get Planning Permission for a Garden Plot

When it comes to self-build projects, we often dream big and think outside the box. However, the answer sometimes lies just on our back-door step. If you are lucky enough to have a large garden, you might consider using this space as your plot! Of course, we don’t all have sprawling lawns under our ownership. But it’s important to remember that there are garden plots everywhere around the UK and they can make excellent bases for your self-build project.

So, what is the deal with garden plots and building upon them?

Generally speaking, it’s much easier to get planning permission in built-up areas such as cities, towns and villages. You will find the details of this specifically in your council’s Local Plan – often referred to as an LP. In said LP, there are policies which usually allow new developments and construction as long as they follow specific criteria. When it comes to rural areas (including settlement edges and hamlets), LP policies can be stricter and not fond of new construction projects. However, gardens in and around smaller settlements can be approved for self-build if there is no five-year housing land supply owned by the council.

To be really clear on this, it’s worth checking out your council’s LP and policies to see what their position is.

What should you consider when applying for planning permission on a garden plot?

First things first, you need to remember that you will be pretty close to another house if you are building on someone else’s garden plot. The council are also likely to request that any new developments are in fitting with the existing property – focusing on design and development style. It is also worth considering that one-storey homes such as bungalows may work better on garden plots. Now, let’s get down to business. Here are the key points that you should be working towards when planning your garden plot self-build project:

Available space

Perhaps the most obvious factor but one that certainly shouldn’t be taken for granted. How much space is available for the new property? Does the garden plot offer adequate space without creating too much of a cramped environment? The council will take space very seriously. However, if your new building is well designed and well thought-out, space doesn’t have to be a barrier.

Town politics

In small towns and especially villages, the local politics can be quite an issue when it comes to influencing councils. Get friends and neighbours on your side from the start. You never know who is friends with council members and how local relationships can affect the outcome of your planning permission.

Entrance and parking

Will you have appropriate access to the property once it has been built? Take into consideration the impact of building a new drive and entrance route on the garden plot. Make sure you aren’t obstructing the existing property or any neighbours’ access and that the new entrance route is safe and easily accessible for all.

Block outlook and sunlight

You may think this is an obvious one but it can often be overlooked when dealing with the stresses of planning permission. Councils greatly frown upon any new development that might block the outlook or sunlit areas of an existing home. Of course, sunlight won’t be as much of an issue if your new property will be built to the north of the existing one. However, bear this in mind when drawing up your self-build plans.

Local area and style

As we briefly touched upon, it is highly recommended to keep your new designs within the parameters of any local styles there might be. You don’t have to build a carbon copy of the surrounding homes, but take their design and materials into consideration. Remember that style is subjective and you don’t want to upset the council or officer you are dealing with.

Tree removal and protected species

It’s important to remember that your garden plot development might have a negative impact on the surrounding ecology and nature. Will any trees need to be cut down to accommodate your self-build? Make sure you get a survey carried out to truly understand any significant trees and how your build will affect them. By the same token, if there are any protected species living in and around the garden plot, you should ensure an ecological survey is carried out. This will greatly help your planning application.

Sewage system

Whilst it’s not the most enticing subject, you really must consider the drainage system for the new property. Whatever solution you come up with, you should definitely include all options on your planning application show that you’ve really thought it through. This may mean opting for a private sewer system.

Neighbour privacy

With any new house, councils can be very strict about the distance between new properties. This is especially true if your new walls will contain windows that clash with the neighbour’s windows. Take the privacy of your neighbour into strong consideration when planning your self-build. It’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to such issues.

Looking to build on a garden plot?

If you are considering a self-build project on a garden plot or elsewhere, do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We can offer free, impartial advice on the best route to go down when it comes to your exciting new self-build journey!

Summer’s Interior Design Trends According to Pinterest

With summer well on its way, the interior design industry is bursting with fresh ideas and inspiration. When it comes to trends, magazines and trusty experts have traditionally paved the way in revealing what’s hot. However, we’re seeing a massive rise in the influence of digital platforms such as blogs, email newsletters and perhaps the most important source of all: Pinterest. Here at CB Homes, we’ve been loving Pinterest to creatively present both our own interiors and trends from other sources. It’s exciting to connect with like-minded people and companies who have one common interest: interior design. In today’s blog post, we thought we’d put our knowledge to the test and reveal the biggest trends you’ll be seeing this summer. Because as always, a change in season is always the best time to spruce up your home and furnishings.

What’s hot on Pinterest?

We’ve taken to our favourite creative platform to round up all the best inspiration, tips and tricks when it comes to decorating your home this summer. However, we’ve also had a little peek at some of the biggest fashion and design magazines too because, well, what better excuse? So here’s what you should be considering if you want to up your style game at home:

Fringing and detailing

Image credit: Livingroomideas.eu (left), Anthropologie (right)

You’ll notice a common theme within this blog post and this is a great place to start. Minimal, clean lines are out. Detailing and texture is in! Fringing and tassels are going to be absolutely everywhere this summer. Look out for cushions, throws and lampshades particularly. It’s also worth noting that these types of textures are more effective in a variety of colours so don’t be afraid to clash a little. Anthropologie, Monsoon and Oliver Bonas are great retailers to start with if you want to achieve that rich, detailed bohemian but classy aesthetic.

Terrazzo and geometric tiles

Image credit: Heju.fr (right)

Now, this may come as a shock to those of you who remember this speckled, colourful material from the 70s. Well, that’s when it really reached its popularity peak but terrazzo has been around for centuries. The classic Italian flooring pattern was first created to use up old marble but it’s now a huge style statement. We’re not talking the dingy 1970 office style but a refreshed, modernised version. And you don’t just have to use terrazzo on the floor – wall tiles and table tops are becoming increasingly popular.

Bold, dark hues over light shades

Last summer, it was all about pastels. However, things have taken a sharp turn this year. We’re rebelling in colour; it’s time for bold hues to shine. We’re seeing a lot of dark greens and blues covering feature walls in Pinterest’s most stylish homes. Alongside this, furniture and statement pieces are seen in vibrant yellows and reds. In the picture above, you’ll see a navy wall with a dusky pink bed cover. This is a great, safe way to experiment with bolder colours if you’re not ready to completely commit yet. Essentially, the Pinterest users and interior designers of the world want you to go bold this summer. And we’re all for it!

Tropical and botanical prints

Image credit: Happy Interior Blog (left), Barker and Stonehouse (right)

Now, we all know that houseplants have been hot on the style radar for some time now. Whether you’re into succulents or spider plants, this interior craze has really taken Pinterest by storm. We’re seeing more and more indoor greenery than ever and now the trend has seeped into every aspect of our home. It’s time to show your love for plants and flowers in more ways than one. This summer, you’ll see bedding, blankets, wallpaper and even artwork all designed with one thing in mind: plants. From exotic tropicals right through to classic botanicals, there’s no limit with how you can style up this trend.

For everyday inspiration?

We understand that Pinterest and style magazines can often offer a far-fetched version of what the average home actually looks like. But there’s nothing stopping you from achieving these looks in your own way! The above trends can be used as sparingly or as full-on as you like. Why not start to introduce subtle accessories and smaller pieces before fully committing? And if you’d like some more everyday inspiration that can be used as a starting point for your home, be sure to check out the Inspirations section on our website.

Spotlight On: Tilstock – Things to Do & See

Here at CB Homes, we place a pretty big emphasis on location when undertaking our housing development projects. Today, we’d like to take a closer look at one of these developments and its location in particular. The Pastures is a development located in the tranquil setting of Tilstock, just south of Whitchurch town. We have 11 bespoke, beautifully-crafted houses at The Pastures ranging from 2 to 4 bedrooms (see the end of this blog post for any remaining available plots). The North Shropshire village is perfect for those looking to settle into a quieter, slow-paced life – but that doesn’t mean there’s any shortage of things to do!

What’s going on in Tilstock?

As Tilstock is in such a rural setting, you can probably guess that nature and wildlife is one of its key attractions. There are plenty of walking and cycling routes to enjoy if you like to get out and about. The #GetOutside campaign by Ordnance Survey has a dedicated page to Tilstock on their website. Here, you can browse the village’s coordinates and recommended routes completed by OS Maps users. The routes and trails are detailed with length in km and difficulty (leisurely, moderate, energetic).

The Horseshoes Inn

If you move to Tilstock, you’ll soon become familiar with the Horseshoes Inn. This quaint family pub is located on Wem Road – less than a ten-minute walk from The Pastures. Horseshoes Inn is a welcoming pub serving real ales, it’s also dog-friendly and suitable for any walkers who might need a little refresher. Regular quiz nights are hosted here so if you like to test your general knowledge, keep your eye out!

Brown Moss Nature Reserve

Just a ten-minute drive from the village is Brown Moss Nature Reserve. This primaeval reserve is as flat as it comes with pools, mosses and peat. For budding geologists and nature-lovers alike, Brown Moss is a fantastic place to visit. There’s plenty of parking and a great walking route to take you around the entirety of the reserve. The BBC even covered Brown Moss in their Nature Features, so it must be worth a visit!

Skydive Tilstock

For the braver souls among us, Skydive Tilstock is a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience! Of course, it’s not going to be your average Saturday activity (unless you decide to take it up as a hobby!) but we think it’s perfect for anyone who visits you from out of town. There’s plenty of information about Skydive Tilstock on their website, where you can find out what’s on offer.

Alderford Lake

Maybe skydiving isn’t for everyone… but we think Alderford Lake might be. This beautiful site has something for all the family – from walking to wild water swimming! If you’re a bit of a water baby, there’s no end to the activities for you in the water. You’re welcome to bring your canoes or kayaks or simply have a swim. Of course, you can take in the sights with a wildlife walk and have a well-deserved refresher in the cafe. They serve all sorts using local ingredients – including afternoon tea! Check out the Alderford website here for more information and handy details.

Nearby market town of Whitchurch

If you fancy a little more buzz, the busy market town of Whitchurch is only a ten-minute drive away. Whilst village life is lovely and peaceful, sometimes we need a little more entertainment! There is an abundance of shops in Whitchurch, including all your favourite supermarkets for when you need to stock up. You could easily spend a whole day exploring the independent shops and foodie spots!

Fancy living here?

We currently have one plot left at The Pastures development. The Drayton is a stunning four bedroom detached home with a double garage, fitted quality kitchen and open plan kitchen. For more information on this beautiful Tilstock home, visit its dedicated page on our website here.

The CB Homes’ Guide to Moving House: Our Handy Tips

So you’ve paid your deposit, the contracts have been exchanged and the keys are handed over. Now, it’s time to get moving. The whole process of moving house can be an arduous one but it’s also very exciting! If you plan ahead and get organised, you can greatly reduce any impending stress. Keep reading for our top tips and tricks for moving.

Ask around for materials you can use

You’re going to need boxes. And lots of them. When you’ve got your moving date, start asking around for the items you’ll need. Local supermarkets and shops are always throwing out spare cardboard so it’s worth investigating. You’ve got enough costs on your plate – never mind adding to them with boxes you’ll use once! Stock up on tape and marker pens, too. It’s handy to be organised; mark your boxes with either the room they’re designated to or what the contents are.

Be savvy with your time and ruthless with your ‘stuff’

Don’t leave it all until the last minute. Of course, this may seem obvious, but with so many things to do in the run-up to moving day, you’ll need to manage your time well. Start a few weeks in advance, slowly boxing up items you don’t use often along with decorative pieces and seasonal clothing. Your collection of books, DVDs, fancy cooking equipment and your holiday accessories are unlikely to be a necessity during this stressful period of time. Save yourself the hassle and box them up early on, making sure to declutter anything you don’t really want anymore. Remember, whatever you pack up, you’ll have to unpack. If it’s really not got any value or purpose in your life anymore, take it to the charity shop or throw it away!

Work your way around the home sensibly

Let’s be real. There’s no point in packing up your microwave, kettle and work clothes as soon as you’ve had your offer accepted. Start by boxing up things you don’t use very often, as we mentioned earlier. Our advice would be to tackle the garage or garden shed first. Then, you can move onto the spare bedroom, the study, the loft… the list goes on. If you really don’t have any rooms that can be completely cleared out until the last minute, try emptying them slowly by only keeping out necessities that you can’t live without. For example, you can’t pack your toothbrush and hairdryer first but you’re not likely to need the collection of perfume and nail varnishes in the cupboard.

Put together a ‘first-night’ essentials box

If you’ve not already thought of this, you can thank us later! With all the excitement of settling into your new home, it’s not uncommon to have a last-minute panic. “We’ve got no tea bags!” “Did someone get milk?” “I’ve packed my toothpaste somewhere and can’t find it!” We’ve all heard these types of complaints on the first night in a new house. But creating a designated ‘first-night’ box will solve all your problems. Here’s what we recommend putting in:

  • Disposable cutlery and plates
  • Everyone’s favourite mug
  • Tea-making stuff and milk
  • Phone chargers
  •  Bin bags
  •   Toilet roll
  • Pet food and bowl
  • Scissors/penknife for unpacking
  •  Change of clothes for everyone
  • Towels
  •   Mini toiletries including toothbrush and toothpaste!

Of course, these are just the basics. It’s up to you how much or little you pack for your first night in the new home… but one thing’s certain: no-one will judge you for eating chips surrounded by boxes. Happy new home!

4 Advantages of Buying a New-Build

When buying a new home, whether it’s for the first time or you’re a seasoned property-ladder climber, exciting times lie ahead. Where do you see yourself living? Are you extending the family? Or are you looking for somewhere to retire? Either way, there are many questions to be asked and answered. One of the most important questions is this: will you be buying a new-build home or a previously lived-in property? Of course, there are benefits and problems with both, as with anything in life. But today, we want to discuss some of the key advantages to buying a new-build.

Here at CB Homes, we specialise in self-builds (turn-key service included!) and brand new housing developments. So, we may be a little biased in our preference to new builds. However, we aren’t ‘bulk builders’; we take exquisite care in designing and building our bespoke developments and always put quality first. Of course, buying an older home can be rewarding but if you’re confused about which route to go down, we can offer our advice. So, let’s discuss some of the greatest advantages to buying new-build!

Why buy a newly built home? Here are some reasons

1.No chain

Perhaps one of the most annoying parts of moving home is the dreaded ‘chain’. This refers to the chain of homeowners who are waiting to either move into your old home or move out of your new home. And of course, there’s not always a guarantee of how long this chain might be or how long it will last. However, buying a new-build home from a reputable builder means no chain. Hurrah! That said, you should consider the build time if your chosen property has not yet been completed. But once it is ready for you to move in, you won’t be waiting around for other people and their lawyers.

2. A clean slate

If you take pride in your property’s appearance, a new home is much easier to customise to your own personal preferences and tastes. Although an older property can have character, it can sometimes be slightly tarnished by the existing owner’s taste. A new-build can often be designed with your preferences in mind too, such as the kitchen tiles and carpets. But even if you miss out on choosing your own detailing, new-builds are usually built to a neutral colour scheme with simple, modern fittings to appeal to a wider audience. So, you’ll be able to start making it your own without worrying about a tasteless wallpaper or questionable carpet!

3. Energy efficiency

It’s common knowledge that new builds tend to be much more energy efficient than older homes. Modern builds come with all the top features: double glazing, cavity walls and improved insulation to name a few. And of course, we all know what comes with better energy efficiency… reduced utility bills! Builders are held to much higher standards than they previously were, so it’s important to gain that impressive energy performance certificate and give new homeowners peace of mind.

4. Easier to maintain

Although snagging lists can sometimes put people off buying new-builds, they often forget the long-term implications of an older property. Your builder has a responsibility to ensure that your brand new property is up to scratch; these types of homes typically come with a 10-year warranty provided by the NHBC. Once any snags have been fixed, it’s likely that your new build will be much easier to maintain and less in need of repairs than an older property. Think of it as buying a brand new car… and compare that to buying a 10-year old car!

Why buy from CB Homes

So, we’ve outlined the general reasons to consider a newly built home. However, we think that compared to a lot of builders, we stand out from the rest. Here are our favourite reasons you should consider buying a new-build with us:

  • We’ve received awards from the Federation of Master Builders, the National House Building Council and the Local Authority Building Control.
  • We put our customers first – you’ll deal with the same small team from start to finish of your buying process.
  • Our dedicated Site Managers ensure that your move-in day is as smooth as possible and you can settle into your new home in the best possible way.
  • We have a dedicated Snagging Team and Aftersales Team who will continue to be there for you long after your move-in day!
  • The environment is important to us: we aim to retain, reclaim and recycle as much material as we can during our building processes.
  • Since 1981, we’ve been building award-winning homes – but we always avoid the ‘identical rabbit hutch’ look that new builds are often criticized for. Each of our developments is distinctly unique and charming.

Freehold vs. Leasehold: It’s Important to Know the Difference

You may think that when choosing to move to a new home there are just two things to worry about: will you buy or will you rent? However, this isn’t the case. When it comes to buying, there are two types of contract to be aware of: freehold and leasehold. Although this may be common knowledge to some of you, many people still aren’t aware of the real implications of each type of property ownership.

What is freehold?

Essentially, a freehold house is what you are likely to imagine when you buy your first home. It is entirely your property; you own the land and you are responsible for all maintenance. Aside from planning permission from the council for certain renovations and extensions, you are free to do as you wish with your freehold home. And aside from any mortgage you might have, you won’t pay any ground rent or services charges to an external party.

Once you’ve paid for the house, it’s yours for as long as you wish. Obviously, this is the ideal scenario for those looking to invest in property. And the majority of homes are freehold. However, this isn’t always the case.

Buying a flat

Bear in mind, buying a flat as freehold is virtually impossible. This is due to the shared features of a building of flats – roof, communal garden and so on. You are much more likely to be buying a flat as leasehold – or share of freehold – and you should be aware of the implications.

What is leasehold?

It is important to remember that leasehold is still different to renting in that you actually own the property. However, it’s easy to get confused. Leasehold isn’t the same as freehold as you only own the property for the length of an agreed lease period. The property is still owned by a freeholder, who has leased the property’s ownership out to you. Although many leases last for around 70 years or more, once the lease on your home runs out, the property belongs to the freeholder and not you.

It is not uncommon for popular bulk development builders to sell their houses as leasehold, with the option to buy the freehold. This option will often only be available for a limited amount of time to the owner at a “good price”. However, this “good price” is usually in the thousands and is essentially a hidden cost that can catch out well-intentioned buyers.

The problems with leasehold

Unfortunately, many people are not aware of the implications of leasehold and so are happy to miss out on buying freehold. They are then shocked later on to find that they are hit with ground rent. This is paid annually; the lease normally determines how much is paid and how often. It’s not just the ground rent that is a sneaky hidden cost – freeholders can charge their leaseholders for a variety of reasons from answering letters to allowing pets.

Interesting fact: many years ago, leaseholders were only charged a very small ground rent fee – as little as £1 – and a lot of freeholders wouldn’t even bother collecting it. However, at the start of this century, developers cottoned on to the potential profitability of a leasehold. They started inserting clauses into contracts whereby ground rent was set at a much higher rate, doubling every ten years. Although it may seem like you’ve bought a “virtual freehold” with a 999-year lease, you could soon find ground rent spiralling out of control.

Now, the real problem with leasehold lies here. It is usually required that there be a minimum of 50 years lease remaining at the end of a homeowner’s mortgage term. The leaseholder is then required to renew their lease if the property is unmortgaged or they wish to sell it on. If the lease remains under 70 years, the leaseholder will find great trouble in selling it.

A profitable business

When leasehold properties are first completed on a site, builders can offer the freehold to their leaseholder for a price. Of course, the leaseholders don’t often take up this. The trick is, builders include the freehold ‘offer’ within the contract with a time limit attached. So buyers often don’t realise the importance or even understand the implications. Then, the developer will sell on any freeholds on their complete development to companies for a large sum of money. In the future, when homeowners wish to buy their freehold, these investment companies can offer them out at an even larger amount than they first bought them for. Hence, why this practice is such a profitable (and scandalous) business!

It’s important to be aware of the differences

As we can clearly see, freehold is a much preferable option. You will save yourself any hidden costs and legal implications if you stick to buying the freehold. Generally, there aren’t any advantages of buying leasehold over freehold. It may seem like a convenient option if your ‘dream home’ is a leasehold. However, we recommend holding off and shopping around for a freehold home that will ensure your peace of mind in the future. Here at CB Homes, we sell all of our homes as freehold.

Just last year, it was announced that the government were looking to ban new-build houses being sold as leasehold. However, we still haven’t seen any concrete changes to the law as of yet. This is good news for future buyers who may avoid falling into the trap of leasehold. But what about those who already own leasehold houses? According to The Guardian, nothing can be done until the government introduce laws which force developers “to pay compensation”. Until then, leasehold homeowners continue to be victims in the never-ending cycle of hidden charges and renewal costs.

Declutter Your Home and Get Ready for Selling

Is it time to declutter your home?

The warmer weather has got us all feeling even more motivated here at CB Homes. We can finally say hello to Spring! Perhaps you’re also feeling the urge to get things done, too. If you’re considering selling your home any time soon, we can’t stress how important it is to get organised early on. Packing up all your beloved items can soon turn into a marathon. To save time (and stress), we recommend decluttering your entire home before making the move. After all, the more ‘stuff’ you get rid of, the less you’ll have to pack when moving day comes around!

Alongside all of this, you will make your home a lot more appealing when you begin to have viewings. Although an agent can do their best to sell your house, visitors will still judge based on their own impressions when they step foot through the door. And let’s face it, clutter won’t sell!

Our top tips to help you declutter

As experts in the field of selling homes, we thought we’d have a nugget of wisdom or two to share. Getting your home ready to sell doesn’t have to be a daunting task, and with these easy tips, you’ll begin to see just how effective decluttering can be. The most important part? Start early! Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to have clear out so you don’t end up in a cardboard-box frenzy the night before a viewing.

The six-month rule

If it’s not been used in the past six months, chuck it out. The exception to this rule is, of course, seasonal items like Christmas decorations! Chances are, if you’ve not worn that dress in six months or you’ve not used that stereo, you’re probably not going to use it again.

Organise what you’re throwing out

Create three piles or boxes: ‘keep’, ‘throw’, ‘donate’. Anything in good condition that you don’t use anymore can be donated to your local charity shop. It’s a win-win! This should be applied to any time you declutter a room, not just when you move.

Tackle each room with a fresh mind

Make a list of the rooms or areas which need decluttering. Aim to do just one at a time (one a week, for example). This will ensure you don’t get too fatigued and that your brain is fresh each time you come to attempt to declutter. And every time you tackle a new room, look at it from a new perspective: how will potential buyers view this space? Then, improve on your findings.

Storage is your new best friend

Invest in handy storage solutions if you’ve got a lot of stuff you want to keep. We understand that you can’t bear to part with certain things. At least if they’re stored away correctly, your home will look a lot more appealing on photographs and to viewers.

Don’t forget about your furniture

Pull out your large furniture. You’d be surprised how much gets lost or ‘stored’ underneath beds and behind sofas. You may even find some hidden gems! Whilst you’re doing this, you might want to take the time to rearrange furniture to create a more welcoming feel to each room. A different layout might work better on photographs, too.

Time to spring clean!

So, you’ve got that decluttering stage out of the way? Now, you can focus entirely on getting those sparkling surfaces without worrying about sifting through junk! First things first, you should always work from the top down. That means, dust lighting fixtures, wall hangings and surfaces first. Then, follow up by dusting any lower down items and moving onto the floor.

You may think that potential buyers won’t notice the odd bit of dust. However, you’d be surprised how much a good clean can really impact the feeling of a home. Plus, once you’ve completed your deep clean, you’ll be much more prepared for moving day.

Quick tips for appealing to viewers

Although a clean and clutter-free house is key to bagging those essential viewings, there are a few other tips we have up our sleeve for you.

  • So you’ve kept your ‘stuff’ to a minimum, it’s time to keep people to a minimum too! Don’t invite the whole family round for viewing day. The fewer people in the house, the easier a potential buyer will find it to envisage themselves living there. A quiet, peaceful setting will also allow them to really take in everything about the property and ask any questions they may have.
  • Increase the ‘kerb appeal’ of your home. Before viewers have even got to the front door, you want to create a good impression. Leave your car off the drive to give them room to park – if possible. Spruce up your front garden and give your front door a fresh lick of paint if needed.
  • Don’t forget about the back garden, either! If you’re lucky enough to have a decent outdoor space, you’ll want to make sure it can be another big selling point for your home. Pull up any weeds, mow the lawn, store away the kid’s toys. Keep it simple and presentable.
  • Make sure your home smells nice. Although this sounds menial, it’s actually really important. Bad smells can be a major put-off in any circumstance, especially when viewing a potential future home; open some windows to let in fresh air and maybe light a candle or two. An old trick that really works? Make some fresh coffee or warm bread in the oven – these homely smells will appeal to your visitors’ senses and create an inviting atmosphere.

Creating a Brief for Your Garden with GRDN

Creating a Brief for Your Garden


Following on from our previous article in collaboration with CB Homes, we would like to continue the theme of ‘structure’ in the garden. Below we will strip the issue of structure right back to what we assume as a starting point for all our design projects. This is called ‘setting a design brief’. As designers this is a critical process to ensure a clear vision for the space is set and that the requirements and ideas for the space are met.

Design principals and key elements

As garden designers we consult, advise and create ideas for your garden be it a small, large, irregular or complex space. There are some simple design principals which everyone can apply when looking at structuring or organising their garden to help form a brief. There are a series of key design fundamentals, which should be considered and this list can become exhaustive. And depending on the particular site the demands can vary significantly.

Below we have outlined a few key ideas to ensure you can start to make the most of your outdoor space. Hopefully, we can give you some new ideas and processes. These can be applied to your garden in order to create a successful and enjoyable space. The headings below are also key elements that we set out in our design briefs at the start of any project.


We often ask clients the following; what do you want to use your space for? Who will use the space? When will the space be used? When designing any garden or space it is important to clarify who will use the space and when. Domestically this might not vary too much but adults, children, pets, visitors or groups are just some examples of who might want to enjoy the space and furthermore enjoy a certain aspect of that space. The different users of a space will all demand different outputs from a garden and whilst it might be hard to cater for all, a balance of activity and functionality should be planned out to ensure successful creation of a garden or space.

A family garden GRDN designed in SW London that needed to function for different end users; adults, teenagers and young children.


It’s important when designing a garden, to look at what interventions you can incorporate into the space to give human scale. By this we mean elements, features or creating space which humans can relate to in terms of size, materiality and use. Landscape elements within a garden or space such as trees, pergolas, sculptures and boundary treatments all represent possible interventions. When implemented correctly and sensitively, these elements will provide the required refuge, prospect and short views. Even down to the finer details of exact paving typologies, paving unit size and furniture specification.

It is important there is a clear composition of landscape elements to ensure comfortable use of the space is achieved.

Contemporary trellis was used to create a boundary to the garden, whilst providing a backdrop to a seating area for prospect and refuge.


Context is another key component when designing any space. We often ask a client if they have an overall theme in mind for the garden, which will weave the space together? Have they considered specific planting typologies? Do they have a preference on hard materials?

It’s not easy to have all the answers immediately. But there are certain considerations which can start to create your personalised checklist for creating and shaping your desired garden. This helps give your garden an identity and character. However, it’s also a direction for the design process and then future implementation process.

Material choices, conceptual themes, light, bold, vibrant or soft colour palettes are often some key starting points of reference. We like to explore how vegetation can be used, is it architectural or passive planting? Evergreen and seasonal combinations? Mass and void throughout the space should be considered. The list could go on but defining and refining the landscape elements within your garden should be carefully planned. This is to make sure a high quality and functional space is built and brought to life.

The client brief was to create a naturalistic courtyard in a small London garden.

Bearing all the above points in mind, you can get a feel for just some of the key components. These should be put in place in order to create a successful garden and outdoor space. Writing these elements down in a design brief helps bring that much needed structure and framework to all garden spaces.

We often like to visit gardens and external spaces for inspiration or read about iconic landscapes. These help to influence some of the decisions above. We would advise this as a starting place for anyone. For us, a successful space is one that is interesting to be, which functions for its end users and is aesthetically pleasing and elegant.

Final words

Here at GRDN we always say: “It’s better to have a select few components doing well in a garden rather than too many components competing in the space”. So when it comes to writing your design brief, be concise and clear.

Please visit our website to see our latest work or get in contact with us if you’d like some advice. Furthermore please follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for our latest updates.

The Latest Must-Haves for Your Kitchen

Kitchen must-haves

Interior design trends are constantly changing throughout the year. It’s pretty much Springtime now. That means, we’ll be seeing a lot of pastel colours, geometric patterns and mixed metals across Pinterest and home magazines. And of course next season, there’ll be a whole host of different styles to stick your teeth into. However, if you want to ensure your home will stand the test of time it’s important to invest in good quality, practical appliances.

The right gadgets in each room will give your home a contemporary and welcoming feel, regardless of season or trend! Today, we want to look at the kitchen in particular. What are the latest ‘must-haves’ for the kitchen? How can you add extra functionality to your cooking hub without compromising on style?

Another collaboration with CB Homes…

We’ve teamed up Panorama Kitchens. They are the wonderful company who supply kitchens to our showhomes and any self-builders who choose to go down that particular route.

Based in Liverpool, Panorama really know their stuff when it comes to the design, practicality and domestic pleasure of a kitchen. That’s why when we asked them what they think the latest need-to-haves are, we really trusted their opinion!

Without further ado, let’s get right into it. Here are ten of the most sought-after kitchen appliances and features at the moment:

Latest must-haves in the kitchen

1. Slide and hide ovens by Neff

Slide and hide ovens, as seen on the Great British Bake Off, are exclusive and unique to Neff. According to the German appliances manufacturer, slide and hide will allow you to get ‘closer to your cooking’, ensuring that ‘nothing gets in the way’. But what exactly is a slide and hide oven? Well, it features an ergonomically designed revolution handle which allows you to maintain a comfortable grip when accessing the oven. The oven door slides underneath the cavity when it’s fully open, meaning you’ll save on space. Not only does it let you easily access the meal you’re cooking, but also makes a great focal point in your kitchen – and a great talking point at parties!

2. Steam ovens

There’s no such thing as your basic oven being enough anymore! There are lots of additional features you can find with contemporary ovens – including the slide and hide we mentioned above and some more concepts that we’ll discuss later.

In particular, steam ovens are really handy for those interested in healthier cooking. These contraptions feature a reservoir that must be filled with water for the oven to work properly. Then, heat from the oven turns the water into steam. Food cooked in steam retains moisture better than food cooked in a convection oven – we’re saying goodbye to dry turkey or chicken. Steamed food also tends to retain more vitamins and minerals than food that is boiled. Perfect for vegetable lovers!

3. Ovens with meat probe

Next up in the fancy ovens list, how about a built-in meat probe? The temperature probe lets you cook roasts and poultry to the exact internal temperature you want, taking the guesswork out of determining whether a piece of meat is done or not! And no more scrambling around in draws for a handheld probe… You can use the temperature probe with the oven set to Bake, Convection Bake, or Convection Roast. When you use the probe, the internal temperature is shown on the display when it reaches 100°F.

4. Pullouts

If you’ve got plenty of cupboard space but not sure how to arrange all your pots, pans and foodstuffs? This feature is probably for you. For an easy storage solution, it’s worth investing in pullouts. LeMans were pioneers in inventing corner units that utilise a lot of space for pots and pans storage. Their units offer a great solution with easy access as the pull out swings right across the front of the cupboard door.

5. Flex Induction hob

There’ll be no more messing around at the hob, trying to figure out the best place to place your pans. With FlexInduction, the cooking area can be tailored to your needs, enabling you to cook multiple dishes at once. Essentially, there is no set cooking zone, the hob adapts to your cookware and allows your dishes to be ‘evenly heated’. You can also move your pots and pans around, your hob will remember the individual temperatures of each dish. Using a FlexInduction hob may seem like a luxury to some but we think it’ll be a staple in kitchens of the future!

6. Hot water tap (Quooker)

The world’s first boiling water tap – say hello to Quooker. It speaks for itself – a tap that instantly dispenses boiling water. Quooker is constructed from a worktop tap and a tank underneath. Choose from either an individual boiling water tap which comes with a standard mixer tip or opt for the Quooker Flex or Fusion which combine all three – boiling, hot and cold water.

7. Quartz worktops

Taking over the granite trend, quartz has many more benefits as a worktop material. It is just as strong as granite but is actually more flexible. This means it is much easier to work with during installation. As well as this, quartz is a non-porous material which means it doesn’t require sealing and it’s pretty low maintenance. You won’t have to worry about spillages or damaging it.

8. Curves

A curved cupboard may not be a tech-savvy appliance or necessary function for a kitchen (although it can help you to save room), but it’s certainly a stylish addition. We absolutely love the look of curved kitchen cupboards and think they tie together any perfectly styled kitchen.

9. Self-cleaning ovens

Oh, what’s that? Another gimmick oven? No, this one is actually really useful and could benefit a lot of people especially the elderly or disabled who might struggle to achieve regular cleaning tasks. A self-cleaning oven is an oven which uses high temperatures (around 500 degrees C or 900 degrees F) to burn off leftovers from baking. And it does all of this without using any chemical agents.

10. Wine coolers

Was that the sound of every adult sighing at the thought of a lovely wine cooler? We have to admit, we may have saved the best till last. Although they aren’t the most groundbreaking or pioneering in kitchen appliances, they’re definitely becoming more common in contemporary homes. And they could be the perfect addition to your house as the weather starts to warm up!