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Health check your home

From house of horrors to show home chic with our property maintenance tips and expert advice

According to home improvement marketplace,, 79% of us undertake home improvements to simply upgrade our living space and home life. So at first, you might be forgiven for thinking we’d all be champing at the bit when it comes to tackling those essential repairs. OK, we’ll admit that dealing with damp, patching up walls or unblocking dirty drains might not be quite so appealing as adding a new kitchen, but keeping on top of home maintenance tasks is vital, as the longer you leave a problem, the more damage it will cause to both your home and finances!

Treat your timber

If timber windows and doors have seen better days and it’s high time you brightened them up, start by sanding back any flaking paint, before filling gaps around frames using a flexible exterior sealant. Clean thoroughly, then prime and finish using a microporous paint, such as Little Greene’s Intelligent Exterior Eggshell, £30 per L.

Outside in

Peeling paint, cracked render, crumbling brickwork and overflowing gutters definitely won’t win awards for kerb appeal, but will spell disaster in the form of damp – so head outside and check things out. Remedying cracked or missing roof tiles and damaged flashings will prevent leaks and patchy ceilings inside, while inspecting guttering and pipes during a downpour should reveal the cause of damp internal walls. To prevent low-level damp, ensure damp courses are at least 15cm above ground level, and airbricks free of debris. You’ll find plenty of helpful step-by-step advice on DIY store websites, or turn to trades carrying the Trustmark or affliated to associations such as The Federation of Master Builders (

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About Homestyle

Is it just us, or is autumn an awkward time of year? Don’t get us wrong, it’s pretty as a peach, but we’re still sulking about the sorry excuse for a summer that snuck past, and while we’re (obviously) excited for the impending festivities of Christmas, we’re just not quite there yet. So this year, the HomeStyle team have resolved to embrace the autumn months and all they have to offer. We’ll be donning our best leaf-crunching boots and shopping for the fluffiest blankets to run home and curl up in. In fact, if you’re thinking of indulging in something similar, you’ll love the three cosy living room looks we’ve rustled up (p.66) – they’re suitably snug, and are sure to get you excited for cuddling up in the chilly months to come. If your home’s looking a little worse for wear and needs more than just cushions and candles to get it in shape, then our expert advice on page 60 should help solve some of your house horrors, and our ideas for utilising unusual spaces on page 72 will give otherwise untouched areas of your home a whole new purpose. Talking of horrors, we’re ripe and ready to get pumpkin carving, and have been perfecting our squash-chopping skills ready to whip up the delicious recipes from page 88 onwards. There’s bargain buys aplenty, and did we mention the truly beautiful real homes? You can thank us later...