Originally written and published by sellmyhome.co.uk.

The Apprentice is back with a bang as another 18 contestants aim to win the opportunity to go into business with Lord Sugar. With luxurious accommodation, the candidates are surely living in style, but where exactly is The Apprentice house this year? Here’s the lowdown on one of the hottest properties on TV.

exterior of the apprentice house 2015

The location

Situated on John Street, Holborn, North London, this six bedroom house is a 6500sq ft. Georgian property boasting original period features, such as cornicing and dado rails. With refurbished contemporary interiors, the 54ft garden is ideal for private relaxation and the five floors are equipped with everything a potentially successful businessman or women would require.

The price

Sold in 2011 for £5 million, it was previously listed for sale in October 2014. Currently valued at just under £8 million (£7.6 million to be exact), this exquisite home was previously listed for rent at a whopping £17000 per month. It’s worth half a million pounds more than last year, with its appearance on The Apprentice set to send its price tag rocketing even more.

The interior

interior hallway of the 2015 apprentice house

The lower ground floor is where the living room and kitchen resides. It opens out to the garden via a dashing spiral staircase and the roof houses a terrace, complete with dining area for residents to enjoy an al fresco dinner. Adorned with sophisticated stairs, unusually large hallways and tall ceilings, there is more than enough space for the 18 finalists. There’s even room for extra staff too.

The bright, airy and modern interiors are furnished with a pop of bright colours to give the space a homely and fun feel. The house is also equipped with state of the art technology, such as Sonos and Lutron sound and lighting systems.

The six en-suite bedrooms wouldn’t look out of place in a chic, boutique hotel, offering the perfect place to unwind after an evening in the boardroom.

The surroundings

The average value of a property on John Street is around £2.5 million, however, some of these are offices and small apartments. The surrounding areas boast exclusive streets, such as Doughty Street, where the average selling price of a property is around £2.3 million. Head over to nearby Bedford Square and you’ll find the average value soars to around £7.8 million.

Holborn, London, is an area featuring many beautiful Georgian properties, as well as being known for its legal quarters. Two legal Inns of Court (Lincolns Inn and Gray’s inn) both reside in this area, having been established in the 14th century. Furthermore, Charles Dickens resided in this area on Doughty Street, and the house is now home to the Dickens Museum.

John Street itself is familiar with many television appearances. Featuring in ITV drama Lucan, Mr Selfridge and the film Mission Impossible 5, residents are well acquainted with a film crew or two.

What’s nearby?

Lambs Conduit Street restaurants are only a few minutes away, if candidates don’t fancy whipping up a storm in the kitchen. The outstanding Mayfair establishments close by include Hibiscus, Italian restaurant Maddox Club and American restaurant Goodman. You’ll also discover Japanese cuisine at Sakura and Spanish delicacies at Dehesa.

In the heart of London, Mayfair is one of the most elite places to visit. As well as exclusive eateries, look out for The Royal Academy of Art, Handel House Museum, Acne Studio, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton, Browns and Vanessa Bruno amongst others.

For the ultimate pampering, Elemis Spa, Guinot Spa and The Spa at Browns Hotel are all delightful. For the best in entertainment, Claridges Bar, Mahiki, Trader Vic’s and Coburg Bar are well-known venues for candidates to head to for a great night out.

Previously on the Apprentice

The Apprentice is no stranger to elegant residences. Previous series of the show have seen a multitude of exquisite homes in London. In 2013, a £12 million property with 8 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms and 4 reception rooms was home to Lord Sugar’s lucky candidates. In 2012, an £11 million home on Porchester Terrace was the finalist’s residence. With 8 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms and 3 reception rooms, no expense was spared. In 2011, a £7 million home rented from classical singer Katherine Jenkins and then fiancé Gethin Jones on Christchurch Road, East Sheen, London was the chosen property. The detached house boasts 7 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms and 3 reception rooms for candidates to relax in.

Pictures via Zoopla.com

Want to sell your home quickly? We’ve got some good news for you – chances are, you don’t need to invest in costly and time-consuming renovation projects, or chop the price of your home in half. Often, all it takes to boost the saleability of your home are a few quick, simple, and more importantly – cheap fixes – like painting the walls, clearing away the clutter, and giving it a really, really good clean.

how to boost the saleability of your home

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  1. Replace cabinet doors and/or door handlers
  2. Replace cheap appliances e.g. toasters and kettles
  3. Add moldings to cabinet fronts
  4. Clean the inside (and outside) of the oven


  1. Replace taps
  2. Throw out any half used products
  3. Buy (and use) a shower caddy
  4. Store towels rolled up
  5. Replace the shower curtain

Bedrooms and living areas

  1. Wash cushion covers
  2. Invest in new duvet covers
  3. Add decorative cushions to beds
  4. Sand and polish tired wooden furniture
  5. Cover worn sofas with throws


  1. Clean carpets
  2. Paint walls
  3. Create a sense of space by removing excess furniture
  4. Get rid of, or hide your clutter
  5. Do (and put away) the washing up
  6. Clean your curtains or blinds
  7. Install uplights to highlight your home’s best features (such as fireplaces)
  8. If you have an unused room, stage it – as an office, a kid’s playroom, etc.
  9. Buy new, brighter light bulbs
  10. Fill vases with fresh flowers
  11. Remove family photos
  12. Add artwork
  13. Replace light shades
  14. Hang mirrors (bigger is generally better)
  15. Clean, clean, then clean some more!


  1. Mow your lawn
  2. Plant flowers
  3. Get rid of cobwebs
  4. Pressure wash your patio and driveway
  5. Replace house numbers
  6. Add hanging pots
  7. Clean your windows
  8. Paint your front door

Before people visit

  1. Open blinds/curtains
  2. Open windows (unless you live on a noisy road!)
  3. Open internal doors to help light flow through the home
  4. Leave pets with a friend or neighbour
  5. Spray air freshener, light scented candles, or bake bread
  6. Tidy up
  7. Empty bins
  8. Close toilet seats
  9. Make the beds
  10. Light your fireplace (if you have one, and it’s not summer)
  11. Fluff the sofa cushions
  12. Arrange decorative cushions
  13. In winter, set your thermostat to a comfortable temperature (about 20 °C)

Many of us think of bugs as something to at best, avoid, and at worst, destroy. However as much of a nuisance as they can be, a world without those scary creepy crawlies might not be as pleasant as you think.

Many insects help to pollinate plants, and without them, those plants wouldn’t be able to reproduce. Without these vital pollinators, many important plants and vital food sources would perish. In fact, without bees, we would lose more than 90 species of plants that we rely on for food.

And it’s not just mankind that would be affected by plant sources lost by lack of pollination; many, many other species rely on plants pollinated by insects, while many species rely on the insects themselves as a food source. The disappearance of insects would have a catastrophic effect on our food chain and the life of every species on this planet would change dramatically.

We’ve taken a look at some of the UK’s most common bugs and why they’re so beneficial to life in on earth in the infographic below. Download a PDF version here.

importance of insects infographic

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For more information, please visit our resources:

Live Science



NIH Medline Plus

Wildlife Trusts



Buzz About Bees


About Education


One of the many difficulties faced by billionaires is the likelihood that someone might break into their luxury home – unfortunately, as fantastic as being rich might be, it does make you a target for crime. However many of the world’s richest know this and take steps to ensure their homes are as safe and secure as possible. What follows is a snapshot of the most secure properties in the world.

3 indian creek


The above stunning property lies in the heart of Miami’s Indian Creek – a bay side village which has acquired a reputation as a haunt for the absurdly wealthy.  The property is ideally placed for a marine enthusiast – it boasts a waterfront with ample room for all but the largest yacht. Not only does water surround the property, it runs through it as well, in a series of miniature canals, fountains and waterfalls – all flowing into the larger of the property’s two swimming pools.

The mansion was bought by a Russian billionaire in 2012 for $47 million dollars. The fee was a record for the county, which is no mean feat when you consider the neighbourhood’s roster of hedge-fund billionaires and CEOs.

At the rear of the lady’s changing room is a panic room whose power is supplied by its own, isolated generator – in case an intruder is resourceful enough to cut the power. Entrance is policed by a fingerprint-recognition system, while the room itself contains the control hub for an infra-red surveillance system with which the owner can view the entire grounds – even in the dead of night.

Nuclear Missile Silo

Nuclear Missile Silo

The next property on our list is priced at a relatively modest £750,000.  It is built in the scenic centre of Adirondack State Park, New York, and is accessible via its own private airstrip.  This home is more secure than most, owing largely to a previous existence as a missile silo.

Beneath the auspicious-looking wooden lodge lies the two-storey concrete cylinder which once constituted the control centre.  It now enjoys a new life as a living space, complete with a marble Jacuzzi, bedrooms and a kitchen.

The property’s most impressive feature, however, lies still further down.  Beyond a set of blast-doors, which collectively weigh the best part of a tonne, lies a fifty-foot tunnel.  It is through here that the silo itself can be accessed:  nine cylindrical storeys of concrete, stretching a total of 185 beneath the earth’s surface.  While most panic rooms may offer protection against burglars, this one will stand the owner in good stead in the event of nuclear war – provided they are sure to stock up on dried goods beforehand.

Al Corbi home

Al Corbi home

The property above is uniquely focused toward security, as it was designed by Al Corbi, head of SAFE (strategically armoured and fortified environments), a firm which specialises in home-security solutions.  It is situated in a gated area in Hollywood Hills, on top of a rooftop.

As one might expect, Mr Corbi’s vision is heavily geared toward security.  The property boasts not one, but two panic rooms; what’s more, two of the bedrooms come equipped with special doors through which the room can be effectively sealed off from the rest of the house.  For good measure, the house comes equipped with a helipad, allowing for a quick getaway.

Burglary is classed as a ‘property crime’, however the impact of burglary on victims tends to be far greater than other crimes of the same classification, such as shoplifting or vandalism.

Burglary invades the privacy and sanctity of the home, leaving many victims feeling vulnerable in the place they should feel safest. According to a study by psychiatrist Billie Corder: “The majority of victims say they will never have the same feeling of security and inviolability that they had in the past.”

Unfortunately, its classification as a property crime means those who commit burglary often receive light sentences, and the punishment fails to fit the crime.

Victim Support and ADT are currently campaigning to ensure victims get justice in court, as well as trying to improve the services and support available to victims of burglary. Find out more here, and here, and read more about the impact of burglary on victims, and how burglars are currently being sentenced, in the infographic below.

Protecting Your Home

The best way to prevent becoming a victim of burglary is to increase the security of your home, and make it less appealing to would-be burglars. We recommend:

  • Fitting – and using – an alarm
  • Installing motion detector lights
  • Keeping windows and doors locked
  • Getting a dog
  • Fitting indoor lights with timers
  • Installing deadlocks and anti-snap/bump locks – 25% of burglaries use lock snapping; find out more about why anti-snap locks are important here
  • Investing in double glazing and stronger doors (ideally look for ‘Secured by Design’ accreditation)
  • Hiding valuables out of sight of windows
  • Removing anything which makes your home less visible from the road
  • Avoiding using social media to talk about going out, or on holiday

At Stormclad, we recommend and install Solidor, one of the market leaders in secure, composite doors. To see just how secure a Solidor is, watch one sustain a two minute (unsuccessful) attack. Want to know more? Talk to us today.

impact of burglary on victims

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So you’ve decided you want to grow your own fruit and vegetables and you’re ready to start? Stormclad have created this easy to follow interactive guide to some of the best vegetables you can grow throughout the year. We’ve included information on the best times to sow and harvest as well some tips on how to give your vegetables the best start possible! Before you know it you’ll be growing, harvesting and eating your own fresh and tasty produce!

Click here to get started, or click the image below!


With the rise of healthy and organic eating, there has been an emphasis on consuming seasonal produce. Not only is it a great way to get the best quality fruit and vegetables on your plate, but its great motivation for growing your own. You’ll have control over the way that it’s grown, from seed to finished product, and access to fresh, great-tasting seasonal produce at your fingertips.

If you’re new to gardening you might want to start out by planting some of the fruits and vegetables that are the easiest to grow. Tomatoes and courgettes are great beginner plants. Once planted, they require little attention apart from watering and yield a rich harvest in the summer months; perfect for delicious Mediterranean cooking!

If you’re looking to grow a low maintenance herb, try mint! Incredibly easy to grow, mint grows all year round; indoors, outdoors, in pots or in the ground and can be harvested all year, too! One tip that you shouldn’t forget, though, is that if you decide to plant your mint in the ground, be sure to plant it in a bag to prevent it from spreading and taking over the garden!

The frosty winter months don’t allow for much in the way of gardening but if you take the right steps, vegetables such as aubergines can be sown now. They can be planted from January to May and, in the coldest months, will fare better in a greenhouse. In slightly warmer climates, they can be planted outside as long as they are covered with a cloche or fleece. This early planting will make the aubergines ready for harvest from July to September.

February to July allows for the sowing of delicious carrots. The most important thing to remember is to ensure that the soil you are planting in is free of stones. Stony soil will cause the root to hit the stones and split, resulting in multiple roots or “deformed” carrots. If the soil is stony, dig trenches and refill with fine, crumbly soil. Do this and in 4 months you’ll have delicious, perfectly formed carrots ready for harvesting!

But what about pests? There are many options available to tackle this but if you want a non-chemical and humane way to deter them, it can seem like a losing battle. When the weather starts to warm up as spring approaches, slugs and snails begin to make an appearance and will be soon attacking your young crops. Instead of pesticides like slug pellets, place crushed up eggshells around the plants. The sharp shells will prevent them from reaching the plant and allow your beautiful vegetables to grow healthily!

The Problem with Condensation

Condensation on windows, and the damage it does to paintwork, curtains, wall coverings and window fittings, are problems frequently encountered in all types of building.

Increasing incidences of condensation in today’s buildings is the direct result of changes in modern living conditions, which have led to warmer and more comfortable rooms.

Some of the triggers include:

  • Traditional open fires being replaced by sophisticated heating systems
  • Draughts from ill-fitting doors and window frames being blocked with draught excluders
  • Carpeted floors
  • Lower ceilings
  • Loft insulation

These modern aids to home comfort have created rooms which are warmer but which often have less ventilation and fewer air changes. The result is that the water vapour produced by normal living activities is no longer able to escape up the chimney or through door jambs, window joints and other outlets.

In certain circumstances, all these aids to comfort combine to create ideal conditions for the formation of condensation.

The problem is: – how to reduce condensation without sacrificing the benefit of increased comfort.

When double glazing is used in conjunction with heating and controlled ventilation it helps solve this problem – and its effectiveness will be even greater if the elementary precautions referred to in this post are adopted.

What Is Condensation?

Condensation is the water which results from the conversion of water vapour in the atmosphere.  The air which surrounds us in our homes always contains water vapour, which is usually invisible.    A typical example is the steam cloud from a kettle, which rapidly becomes invisible – it has in fact been absorbed into the atmosphere.

The warmer the air, the more water vapour it can hold – but there is a limit to the amount it can hold for a given temperature.  When that limit is reached, the air is said to be “saturated”.    When saturated air comes into contact with a surface which is at a lower temperature than itself, the air is chilled at the point of contact and shreds its surplus water vapour on that surface – initially in the form of a mist and, if excessive, eventually in the form of droplets of moisture.   An example of this is when a person breathes onto a mirror: condensation occurs because the exhaled air is saturated and its temperature is higher than that of the mirror (which is at room temperature).

Where Does Water Vapour Come From?

condensationBreathing: Two sleeping adults produce 1½ pints of moisture in 8 hours, which is absorbed as water vapour into the atmosphere.

Cooking:  Steam clouds can be seen near saucepans and kettles, and then seem to disappear.  The clouds have been absorbed into the atmosphere.

The cooker itself may be a source of water vapour; e.g. an average gas cooker could produce approximately 1/5th gallon of moisture per hour.

Washing up: The vapour clouds given off by the hot water are rapidly absorbed into the atmosphere.

Bathing, laundry, and wet outer clothing: These are often the major sources of water vapour in the home.

Heaters: A flueless gas heater can produce up to ⅔ pint of moisture per hour.  Paraffin heaters produce NINE PINTS of moisture for every EIGHT PINTS of fuel burned.

Indoor plants: A frequently unrecognized but nevertheless significant source of water vapour.

New Property: The bricks, timber concrete and other materials in an average 3‐bedroomed house absorb about 1500 gallons of water during construction.   Much of this is dissipated into the indoor atmosphere during the drying out period.

The three main factors governing condensation are: 

1. Water vapour content of the air

2. Inside room temperature

3. Outside temperature

The first two factors are normally controllable.

1. Water Vapour in the Air– this is produced by normal living activities such as washing, cooking, bathing, etc., and can be controlled by the use of extractor fans, cowlings, and ventilation at appropriate places.

2. Inside Room Temperature – this can be controlled by replacing single glazing with double glazing, thereby maintaining a higher surface temperature of the glass on the room side, and by increasing the air temperature to enable it to hold more water vapour without condensing.

3. Outside Temperature – this cannot be controlled, but it can be countered when it falls by increasing the indoor heating.

How Double Glazing Helps

Double glazing is an insulator, designed to reduce the loss of heat by conduction from the inside to the outside of a building.    Under average exposure double glazingconditions, and provided the room is heated, the room side surface temperature of the inner glass will be higher than would be the case with single glazing.    The likelihood of condensation occurring when warm moist air in the room comes into contact with the surface of the glass is thereby reduced.

It must be remembered, however, that double glazing is an insulator and not a source of heat; nor does it control the amount of water vapour in the air.    When rooms are inadequately heated and there is little heat to retain, double glazing cannot fulfil the purpose for which it was installed.

For example, one reason why condensation forms in, say a bedroom not normally occupied, is that many householders for reasons of economy do not heat such rooms.

Consequently the surface temperature of the inner glass gets very close to the outside temperature.    In addition, the windows in such rooms are generally kept closed, but water vapour, generated elsewhere in the house, will find its way in and then cannot escape.    Thus the two conditions necessary to produce condensation – a low glass surface temperature, and a high water vapour content in the atmosphere – are present.

The Location of Condensation on the Glass

When attempting to reduce the degree of condensation it is important to note on which surface of the glass it forms; its location indicates the cause, and so points to the solution.

Condensation on the room side surface of the inner glass means that the temperature of the glass surface is too low given the water vapour content of the atmosphere in the room.

Condensation within the cavity of a hermetically sealed unit denotes a failure of the seal.

In other forms of double glazing, condensation on the cavity surface of the outer glass generally (but not invariably) indicates excessive leakage of moist air from the room into the cavity.

Condensation can occur occasionally on the cavity surface of the inner glass when the sun is shining on the window.  This means that something in the air space itself, such as an unsealed wooden separator or desiccant, contains moisture.    It should be noted, however, that this source can also be responsible for condensation on the cavity surface of the outer glass.

How to Reduce Condensation

When formed on the room side surface of the inner glass:

(1) Provide natural ventilation through an opening section of the window, or through a proprietary ventilating unit, or through an air brick.

(2) Where there is no open fire, or where existing flues have been blocked off (and cannot be unblocked), ensure that wall vents are fitted and kept clear.

(3) Open at least one window in each room for some part of the day to permit a change of air.

(4) Ensure ventilation of all rooms where gas or oil heaters are used.

(5) Fix hoods over cookers and other equipment producing steam, and ventilate them to the outside air.

(6) Draught proof internal doors and keep them closed, to prevent transfer of air with a high water vapour content from the main moisture producing rooms – kitchens, bathrooms, and drying rooms.  (It should be borne in mind that water vapour does not remain in the room where it is first generated, but tends to migrate all over the house because (a) the water vapour pressure in the original room will be higher than elsewhere and so the moist air will be forced out into rooms with a lower pressure, and (b) convection currents will carry it through the house.

(7) Increase slightly the air temperature in the house.

(8) In cold weather, keep some form of heating on permanently in the house.

(9) Wherever practicable, fix radiators under windows to maintain the temperature of the inner glass at a reasonable level.

(10) Condensation can be caused by isolating the inner glass from the warm room air with heavy curtains when drawn.    To allow free passage of warm air to the glass, position curtains 15cm to 20 cm away from window, and ensure there are sufficient gaps at the top and bottom to permit continuous circulation.  (Holes should be drilled along the top of any box pelmet used).

When formed on the cavity side surface of the outer glass:

This cannot occur with correctly functioning sealed units.  For secondary sash systems proceed as follows:

(1) Make the seal of the secondary frame and the sealing of the secondary glass to this frame, as near airtight as possible.  Particular attention should be paid to all joints.

(2) Drill breather holes through the primary frame to connect the air cavity to the drier air outside.  Holes should have a diameter of 10mm.  If the frame is made of wood it is better to drill a hole large enough to accommodate a metal tube of 10mm internal diameter.    Two holes about 50cm apart should be sufficient for windows up to 1 m wide; more should be drilled for larger windows.   A simple filter, such as glass wool, should be inserted to exclude dirt and insects.

When formed in the cavity when the sun shines:

(1)    Remove the secondary pane.

(2)    Remove and discard any desiccant.

(3)     Drill holes to connect the cavity to the outside as described in paragraph (2) above.

(4)   Dry out the frame area.  Care must be taken not to apply concentrated heat close to the original glass.

(5)    Seal up any holes or cracks with compound or wood filler.

(6)    Seal completely all wooden surfaces in the cavity with a proprietary wood sealer.

(7)    Replace the secondary pane, taking care to make the seal and all joints as near airtight as possible.

condensation - wetSummary

Double glazing cannot cause condensation.  By acting as a heat barrier and providing an inner pane which is considerably warmer than the outer pane, condensation is reduced.

Modern buildings are designed to eliminate draughts and do not have the natural ventilation that some older houses have with their chimneys and ill‐fitting doors and windows.  Houses which have been completely sealed by the installation of cavity wall insulation, loft insulation, double glazing, and draught proofing throughout are likely to become moisture traps.  In such cases, condensation is a ventilation problem.  Provided the rooms are heated normally, the solution will probably be found by providing controlled ventilation.

In the case of older, “unsealed” buildings, the dominant factor is likely to be the indoor temperature, and additional heat, or the introduction of localized heat near the windows, will probably provide the answer.


  • Stop water vapour finding its way into the rest of the house, particularly during and after bathing.
  • After a bath or shower, close the door and open a window for a few minutes.  Position a radiator, or heated towel‐rail, under the window.


  • Check points under “Living Rooms”, particularly with respect to the position of curtains and the provision of vents.
  • If possible extend the central heating programme to compensate for the night‐time drop in external temperature and the increase in water vapour caused by the occupants’ breathing.
  • Bedroom windows should be opened during the day to allow at least one complete air change.

Living rooms

  • Allow the room’s warmth to reach the windows.    Position heaters under the windows, and use fittings which hold the curtains at least 15cm to 20cm away from the glass to allow free movement of warm air.
  • Open windows for at least a few minutes each day to permit air changes.
  • Where open fires are not provided, or existing flues are blocked off, see that wall vents are fitted and kept clear.  When a gas fire has been installed in an open fire aperture, the backplate should have vent holes below the fire, unless this is provided for in the fire design.
  • Where possible, avoid glazed or non‐absorbent wall coatings as these canmpromote condensation on walls.

Kitchens, Laundries

  • Close internal doors and keep a window open.    Alternatively, install extractor fans or cooker hoods, ventilated to the outside air.

The last few years have seen Britain enjoy some spectacular summers, so it’s easy to understand why so many homeowners are opting to invest in conservatories, or to de-clutter the conservatories that they already have and turn them into relaxing summer living rooms. Spending a warm summer evening relaxing in your conservatory and taking in a beautiful view of your garden is almost like going away on a mini holiday. The only downside to conservatories is that during the day they can get rather warm. The good news is that this is easy enough to fix, and you don’t have to spend a fortune to keep your conservatory cool and comfortable.

Here are a few simple changes that will keep your conservatory at a comfortable temperature under the summer sun. Many of these tips also apply to other rooms in the house. If you don’t have a dedicated conservatory, and don’t have the space to get one built, then you can use these tips to convert a living room or spare room that sees a lot of sunlight into a “garden room” or a “sun room” for people to relax in during the height of the summer:

Blinds and Window Films

Blinds work both ways – in the summer, they keep heat out, and in the winter they keep heat in. This makes blinds a great addition to any conservatory. Temperature management is not the only feature of blinds, either. They also do double duty blocking out the glare from the sun, and offering privacy when it is needed. Motorized blinds are incredibly convenient, but can be expensive. Pull-cord operated blinds look just as good, however, and are far more affordable. Choose brightly coloured blinds to make your conservatory look bigger and more welcoming, and to match the summery tone of the room.

Another good way to manage heat in your conservatory is to fit window films. These films work by filtering UV light, reducing glare and stopping too much heat from passing through the glass. The films reflect the energy from the sun away from the conservatory, ensuring that it stays at a pleasant temperature. Window films are fairly affordable, and can be added to an existing conservatory quite easily.

Window blinds

Air conditioning units

Dedicated air conditioning units are quite expensive to run, so they are usually installed only as a last resort. However, if you really like your conservatory and plan on spending a lot of time in it then air conditioning is a good investment, because many modern units can be used for heating as well as cooling.

One option that you may want to consider if you own your home and do not plan on moving in the near future is a solar-assisted air conditioning unit. These units are cheaper to run, and are ideal for keeping a conservatory at a steady temperature throughout the year.


A good fan is a must-have for any homeowner during the summer months. If you are getting a new conservatory built, be sure to add a large ceiling fan to the conservatory’s feature list. In addition to this, consider investing in a couple of standing fans; preferably motorized fans with variable speeds. If you don’t like the look of large, bladed fans, choose one of the new bladeless designs for extra style. Depending on the size of the conservatory, you may want more than one fan.

Ceiling fan

Good Ventilation

If you are getting a new conservatory built, ask the contractors to include some vents in the roof, and lots of windows that can be opened. Make sure that the roof vents have a secondary grille on the underside for added security, and that all of the windows are lockable. To maximise airflow, it is important to have vents at both the top and bottom of the conservatory. You will need to remember to close some of those vents when the weather starts getting colder, otherwise you will waste a lot of energy keeping the conservatory warm later in the year.

It’s better to think about ventilation before the conservatory is built, because adding extra ventilation afterwards may be expensive. If you did not build vents and windows into your design, consider getting an openable skylight added, or just keeping the door open while you are using the conservatory. Add a beaded curtain to the patio doors for privacy.


There are several simple accessories that can make your conservatory a more comfortable place to spend time. Keep some potted plants in the conservatory to help with moisture, and choose a light colour scheme so that the room does not feel oppressive. Consider decorating the conservatory with a free-standing fountain or water feature because the look and sound of the water will help you to relax and feel cooler.

When you are choosing furniture, opt for soft fabrics over leather, because leather tends to feel sweaty in warm weather, while cotton and other similar materials will make you feel cooler. Wooden furniture is also both cooling and visually appealing.

Another option is to keep a mini-fridge in the conservatory so that there are always cooling and refreshing drinks on hand.  This won’t actually make the conservatory itself any cooler, but it will keep you comfortable.

Once you have got your conservatory set up the way you like it, you’ll find that it’s a great place to spend time in. During the summer, many people use their conservatory as a replacement living room; dining, playing and entertaining in it. With a few changes to the blinds, and a little extra heating, you can extend the use of the conservatory to the autumn too, giving you that extra bit of precious living space for much longer.


Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sansharma/and https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrjoro/

One home improvement issue that confuses a lot of people is that of insurance for conservatories. If you move in to a building that has a conservatory already attached to it, then any new policy that you take out will include the conservatory, however adding a conservatory to an existing policy is a little more confusing.

Getting an Existing Conservatory Insured

In most cases, existing conservatories are covered under standard home contents and buildings insurance, provided that the conservatory is a permanent structure that is properly constructed. Most insurance companies will treat such a structure as a part of the building itself, so the cost of your conservatory will be included in any building’s insurance. If the conservatory is secure (with proper locks and window glazing) then its existence should not affect any home contents claims related to burglary.   Most insurers will also cover car ports as well, assuming that they are properly constructed.

White Conservatory

Building a New Conservatory

If you are building a new conservatory, you must notify the insurance company before the builders start work. The cost of the conservatory will need to be added to your buildings policy, and this may mean that your premiums increase. Your home contents insurance policy will also need upgraded, in order to cover any additional items that you will be storing in the conservatory.

If you are not planning on spending a lot of money on decorating and furnishing the conservatory then your existing home contents policy may be adequate, however it is worth taking an inventory of all of the valuables in your home. All too often, new home owners take out modest home contents insurance when they move in to a new property, and then fail to upgrade it as they acquire new items. In the event of a flood, fire or burglary those home owners run the risk of discovering that only part of their property was covered.

What to Ask Your Insurance Company

Most buildings insurance policies do not cover damage to your property caused by building work, nor do they cover negligence on the behalf of your contractors, or the theft of any building materials that were going to be used in the construction of the conservatory. A good contractor will offer an insurance backed guarantee, and have their own Public Liability policy, so you should not need to worry about those possibilities. If you have any concerns, talk to the contractors and to your own insurance company for advice.


Keeping Your Premium Low

One of the main reasons that people are so confused about insurance policies for conservatories is that, just a few years ago, there was a lot of news coverage about insurers who were refusing to pay out for burglary related claims if the thief gained entry through a conservatory door or window. The reason for this was that the doors and windows were not secure, so the insurance companies were claiming negligence on the part of the home owner. This sort of thing should not be an issue today.

If you are getting a new conservatory built, then there are several things that you can do to keep the building secure, and also to prevent damage to your property. Things to consider include:

Construction – typically, conservatories are made from timber, PVC-U or aluminium. These are all fairly strong materials so you should not need to worry about a high quality conservatory built by an approved contractor. You can increase the security of the structure by asking for the windows to be installed with laminated safety glass on the inner pane.

Alarms – Extend your home’s burglar alarm to include the conservatory. If you have CCTV, try to have at least one camera covering the area around the conservatory. It is also a good idea to install a smoke alarm and a carbon monoxide detector – especially if you will be using free-standing heating to keep the conservatory warm in the spring and autumn.

Doors –  A lot of home owners choose to keep the existing external doors from the rear of the house when they install a conservatory. This is a good idea, because it offers an additional layer of security. If you decide to remove the current external door and replace it with a patio-style door, make sure that you use reinforced doors, and that the glass is secure. Toughened safety glass is actually surprisingly easy to break open with a sharp tool, without making a lot of noise. Laminated glass is much more expensive, but offers better security.

Windows – Make sure that all of the windows in the conservatory are lockable. If you do not plan on opening some of the windows, consider screwing them shut. If there is an automatic opening roof vent on top of the conservatory, screw a grille to the underside to prevent enterprising thieves from prising the vents open.

Maintenance – Your conservatory will need to be cleaned and maintained on a regular basis. Failure to look after the conservatory could cause mold and mildew to build up, or allow damp to take hold in your home. This sort of damage, if caused by lack of maintenance, may not be covered by your insurance policy.

Another thing to consider is the kind of items that you keep in the conservatory. Consider using blinds or net curtains to prevent passers by from looking inside the conservatory while it is not in use. Keep the amount of items in the conservatory to a minimum, and do not leave valuables such as laptop computers or portable gaming devices lying around in plain view in the conservatory.

Every insurance company has its own rules, so before you purchase a policy you should always read the terms and conditions. If you are planning on having building work done in your home, do not assume that your existing policy will cover the new work. If you fail to notify the insurance company that your property has been altered, then your policy could become invalid, and that is not something that you want to find out at the last minute, when you need to make a claim.


A Brief History of Conservatories

The first conservatories were built in the 17th century and were used to preserve tender plants during the winter. The earliest conservatories were made of wooden panels, rather than glass, and simply offered basic protection from the elements.  Most early conservatories were used to protect delicate potted plants, but in Northern Europe more sophisticated conservatories were created to preserve orange trees. These conservatories, called Orangeries, were large brick or stone structures with tall vertical windows.  Orangeries kept the delicate orange plant warm and dry, and allowed Europeans to grow their own oranges, leading to the fruit becoming something of a status symbol in Europe.

One of the earliest significant mentions of the conservatory appears in the Elysium Britannicum,  which was written by John Evelyn, a contemporary of Samuel Pepys. He described the structure as having wreathed columns and Corinthian capitals.

The first conservatory to be built in Britain was one for the Oxford Botanic Garden. Shortly after this, another conservatory was built in the Physic Garden in Chelsea. In 1825, renowned architect John Nash designed four conservatories for Buckingham Palace. Sadly, those structures are no longer at the palace, but one of them, the Architectural Conservatory, has been moved to Kew and is the oldest glasshouse in Kew today.

Nash Conservatory at Kew Gardens


Styles of Conservatory

Architectural styles have changed a lot over the centuries. There are three styles of conservatory that remain popular today. They are the Edwardian inspired conservatory, Victorian style, and Georgian style. These conservatories would suit not just a period building from the same era, but also most modern homes.


Edwardian Conservatories

The Edwardian conservatory has a luxurious and lavish look. It features strong, bold lines and a relatively plain, gabled design. Edwardian conservatories are popular because the simple rectangular or square design maximizes the amount of available floor space, making it both visually appealing and incredibly practical.

The Edwardian era began in 1901 with the death of Queen Victoria and the succession of Edward to the throne. This era saw a massive change in architectural paradigms. Building an Edwardian conservatory is just like adding an additional room to your home, offering functional and aesthetic benefits as well as being a wise investment for the day when you come to sell your home. The Edwardian style is versatile and can blend with almost any other school of Architecture.

Edwardian style conservatory

Victorian Conservatories

Queen Victoria’s rule was a long one, but the period that is referred to when we talk about Victorian conservatories is the second half of her reign. The removal of the “glass tax” resulted in a dramatic shift in the design of conservatories, giving architects and homeowners more freedom to play with different designs. In 1856, steel production improved and steel became a popular building material. The construction of Crystal Palace catapulted conservatory designs into the public eye, and made them popular with the upper classes.

Crystal Palace Conservatory

Victorian conservatories are sharp, elegant and stylised. They usually have steep roofs, gothic designs, and feature lots of wrought iron as well as intricate detailing including lots of asymmetrical shapes. They are popular with owners of period homes, but if the right materials and detailing is chosen they can work well with almost any property.


Georgian Conservatories

Georgian conservatories are much simpler than Victorian conservatories. King George I ruled during the early part of the 18th century, and during his reign architecture evolved gradually, improving on established British techniques and also drawing on inspiration from Greek and Roman architecture, as historians from the period learned a lot about Greece and Rome during George’s reign.

Edwardian Style Conservatory

Georgian design is quite stark and simple. The red brick house is the most iconic Georgian design, and conservatories featured white stone trimmings and white-painted woodwork. Georgian buildings were large and gracious, and the grandeur of the period is clearly visible in the way that the conservatories are designed. The imposing nature of this design, however, means that it looks best when it is added to a building from the same school. Adding a Georgian conservatory to a more modern, less imposing building would probably look disjointed. Of course, there are exceptions, and a “Georgian inspired” design with softer lines or on a smaller scale could suit a modern property.


What does the future hold?

Architecture and design has come a long way since the 17th century. We can now shape and mould glass and other materials to create any design that we can possibly imagine. Conservatories are still in demand, however, because while we can build almost anything, we cannot control the weather!

One of the most interesting conservatory designs is the Eden Project. The Eden project could be described as the world’s largest artificial rainforest. It is, essentially, a giant conservatory that makes its own microclimate, including jungles and waterfalls.

Gardens by the bay conservatory in Singapore

Another fascinating conservatory project is the Gardens by The Bay in Singapore. This conservatory project is particularly interesting because it was built on 101 hectares of reclaimed land. It is made up of three different garden domes, each with its own design and ecosystem. The South Garden features tropical horticulture, the East Garden has a water theme, and the small central garden links those two and allows visitors to enjoy a scenic walk from the city centre to the east of Singapore.

Today, small conservatories are easy to build and affordable for most homeowners. A well-built conservatory that looks out over an appealing garden can add a lot of value to your home. If you want some additional living space and would like to invest in something that will provide long term value to you and your family, as well as make it easier to sell your home, then a conservatory is a great choice!


Photo Creditshttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nash_conservatory_7047r.jpg