Monthly Archives: December 2013

Samsung in $290m payout to Apple

22 November 2013 Last updated at 02:47 GMT iPhone in hand A California jury found that Samsung used Apple designs in 13 older products A Silicon Valley jury has ruled that Samsung must pay $290m (£180m) to Apple for copying iPhone and iPad features in its devices.

This verdict comes after a previous jury found Samsung owed Apple $1.05bn for copyright infringement.

However, US District Judge Lucy Koh ordered a retrial because she said that jury miscalculated the amount Samsung must pay.

Samsung is expected to appeal.

Apple said in a statement: “For Apple, this case has always been about more than patents and money. It has been about innovation and the hard work that goes into inventing products that people love.

“While it’s impossible to put a price tag on those values, we are grateful to the jury for showing Samsung that copying has a cost.”

The jury’s ruling covers 13 of the 26 Samsung devices that Apple had argued copied its technology. These are mostly older Samsung tablets and smartphones.

The $290m figure comes on top of the $550m Samsung owes Apple as a result of the initial verdict. In total, Apple has now been awarded close to $930m in the case.

Apple shares traded slightly higher on the news. Samsung closed down slightly earlier in the day.

Continue reading the main story ‘Beautiful and sexy’ Samsung had argued that Apple should not have ownership over technology like what Samsung said was the “basic rectangle” shape of smartphones.

“Apple doesn’t own beautiful and sexy,” Samsung lawyer William Price told the jury during the proceedings.

However, the jury in the courtroom – which is located just 15 minutes away from Apple’s headquarters in California – thought otherwise, awarding close to the $380m Apple sought. Samsung said it owed just $52m.

Samsung was found to have infringed Apple patents, including one that allows users to “pinch and zoom” on smartphone and tablet screens.

A separate trial to determine whether or not current Samsung devices violate Apple’s patents is scheduled for March 2014.

Apple has also asked Judge Koh to consider a sales ban against all of the older Samsung models that used Apple’s technology.

While Judge Koh has previously refused to issue such an injunction, a separate US Appeals Court asked her to reconsider this week.

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Cameron: Alarm bells should have rung over Co-op’s Flowers

LONDON Wed Nov 20, 2013 12:43pm GMT

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron speaks at the annual Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference in central London November 4, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Olivia Harris

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron speaks at the annual Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference in central London November 4, 2013 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Olivia Harris

LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Wednesday that investigators must find out how disgraced former banker Paul Flowers was allowed to hold his position as chairman of Britain’s Co-operative Bank.

Cameron said the bank had been “driven into the wall” by Flowers and questioned why alarm bells hadn’t rung earlier over his behaviour.

Flowers, a Methodist preacher with little banking experience, oversaw the bank’s near collapse and has been caught on film allegedly arranging to buy illegal drugs.

“Why was Reverend Flowers judged suitable to be chairman of a bank,” Cameron asked in parliament. “Why weren’t alarm bells rung earlier, particularly by those who knew?”

Chancellor George Osborne will be talking to regulators about the best form of inquiry into the affair in the coming days, he added.

Cameron also said the opposition Labour Party, of which Flowers was a member and a backer, had failed to alert the authorities to Flowers’ past.

“Why did they do nothing to bring to the attention of the authorities this man who’s broken a bank?” Cameron said.

“This bank, driven into the wall by this chairman, has been giving soft loans to the Labour Party … donations to the Labour party, trooped in and out of Downing Street under Labour, ill-advising the leader of the Labour party, and yet now we know all along they knew about his past,” Cameron said.

Flowers, a Methodist minister for 40 years who formerly chaired the drugs charity Lifeline, became chairman of the Co-op bank from 2010 until June this year.

This was a period when it racked up huge losses and faced a 1.5 billion pound ($2.42 billion) capital shortfall. The Co-op Group has since lost its majority stake in the bank to U.S. hedge funds that owned its debt.

(Reporting by Peter Griffiths and Freya Berry; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Stephen Addison)

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Stadium ‘not being used to the full’

19 November 2013 Last updated at 03:19 GMT Olympic Stadium West Ham games are due to be held at the Olympic Stadium from August 2016 The Olympic Stadium is not being used as well as it should be, according to a group of Lords who also questioned the legacy of London 2012.

The House of Lords Committee on Games Legacy said the £429m stadium was a “national asset that should be used to the full”.

But it remained “unconvinced” that present arrangements would deliver an “effective and robust” legacy.

The government said it remained committed to building on the Games.

While acknowledging that the Olympics and Paralympics were an “outstanding success” the report also calls on the government to appoint a minister to take overall responsibility for delivering legacy benefits.

The major examination of London’s legacy efforts by a cross-party committee of peers claims political impetus has been lost and there is a “lack of ownership” from the government over building on the opportunities the Games provided.

‘A farce’

The report’s authors say there are no white elephants among 2012 facilities but there is “little evidence” that a step-change in sport participation levels has materialised – a key pledge from London’s bid for the Games.

There is also criticism over the geographical spread of the economic benefits – with foreign investment as a result of London 2012 resulting in 15,000 jobs for the south-east, but just seven in the north-east.

And it said there may have been too many “closed minds” about potential options for how the Olympic Stadium could be used.

Continue reading the main story West Ham United home games from 2016Matches in the 2015 Rugby World Cup, being staged in England2017 World Athletics ChampionshipsLondon Diamond League athletics meetingsTwenty20 cricket matches2022 Commonwealth GamesRock concertsWest Ham United was chosen to be the anchor tenant of the 80,000 capacity venue, which is set to be turned into a 54,000-seater stadium in time for the 2016-17 season.

The east London club has been awarded a 99-year lease on the stadium in Stratford.

This summer, the venue staged a sell-out athletics meeting on the weekend of the first anniversary of the start the 2012 Olympics.

Pop concerts, 2015 Rugby World Cup matches, the 2017 World Athletics Championships, and future London Diamond League athletics meetings are all set to take place there after the reconstruction work.

Essex County Cricket Club has suggested it could play Twenty20 games at the stadium and earlier this year a bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games was mooted.

But last November the chairman of UK Athletics, Ed Warner, said he had expected the stadium to reopen in 2014 and branded the delay to 2015 or 2016 “a farce”.

Leyton Orient wanted to share the use of the stadium and the League One club had applied at the High Court to have a judicial review of the decision to award it to the Hammers but this was refused.

‘Squabble not helpful’

Lord Harris, chairman of the Lords committee, said the clubs were acting “like children squabbling over who goes down the slide first as far as the stadium is concerned”.

“We urge those concerned to think further on how the two most local football clubs might work together, including whether any difficulties can be ameliorated through wider community use of the stadium, which may include its occasional use by Leyton Orient FC if appropriate financial arrangement can be agreed,” he said.

Olympic stadium The park around the stadium is to be called the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

In its report, titled Keeping The Flame Alive, the committee said: “Our feeling is that the stadium is a national asset.

“There has been very substantial investment in the facilities. Given that this is a national asset and the focus should be on making the best use of it for the community, this squabble is not helpful.

“At the moment our concern is that there are too many closed minds about this.”

Lord Harris added: “At the moment I think all we have heard is people’s negotiating position rather than a serious attempt to reach a compromise.”

Leyton Orient welcomed the report. Chairman Barry Hearn said: “I agree with the House of Lords recommendation – ourselves, West Ham and the LLDC should sit down and work this out together once and for all.”

The club said it would seek a meeting with the LLDC to discuss “what part we can play in the future use of the Olympic Stadium”.

A spokesman for West Ham said the club was focused on “creating a stunning new home for the club and its supporters in 2016, alongside a long-term legacy for the community of east London”.

“What goes on with other interested parties is very much a matter for (Leyton Orient) and the LLDC, and not West Ham United,” he said.

‘Blueprint’ for future Games

The committee also said time frames and targets were confused and the political drive which helped to make the Games a success had now fallen by the wayside.

As well as suggesting the appointment of a legacy benefits minister, the peers also called for the Department for Transport to try to secure international train services at Stratford International station, in order to generate a return on the substantial investment made there.

A Department for Culture, Media and Sport spokesman said: “The government remains committed to building on the legacy created from hosting the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to benefit the entire country for generations to come.

“Our legacy has been hailed by the International Olympic Committee as a ‘blueprint’ for future Games and over the next 10 years we aim to use the inspiration of 2012 to deliver lasting change in sport, communities, the economy, east London and awareness and perceptions around disability.”

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Royal Mail advisers defend sale price

By Neil Maidment and Kylie MacLellan

LONDON Wed Nov 20, 2013 1:11pm GMT

Pedestrians walk past the British Postal Museum at Mount Pleasant sorting office in central London, October 19, 2013. REUTERS/Paul Hackett

Pedestrians walk past the British Postal Museum at Mount Pleasant sorting office in central London, October 19, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Paul Hackett

LONDON (Reuters) – Advisers on the British government’s privatisation of Royal Mail said the postal service could not have been sold at its current price, rejecting accusations that one of the biggest state sell-offs in years was done on the cheap.

On Wednesday banks including UBS and Goldman Sachs, which managed Royal Mail’s sale on the stock market, were summoned before a parliamentary committee to explain how they priced the near 500-year old company.

Royal Mail’s shares have rocketed by as much as 80 percent since Britain sold a 60 percent stake in October for 330 pence per share, sparking criticism from unions and opposition MPs. On Wednesday, the stock was trading at 539 pence.

The initial public offering (IPO) valued Royal Mail at 3.3 billion pounds ($5.3 billion).

Explaining to the Business Innovation and Skills committee why Royal Mail’s sale price now appeared cheap, Richard Cormack, co-head of equity capital markets at Goldman Sachs, said feedback from potential investors on what they would be prepared to pay and the large number of shares on offer were among factors that had determined the price.

“The average (trading) volume at the moment on a daily basis of these shares is about 1.3 million shares versus the 600 million shares that we placed at the time of the IPO. I don’t think that today’s price is indicative of where we could have placed 600 million shares,” he said.

UBS said at one point the lead banks had considered increasing the top end of the price range for the listing by 20 pence but said a looming threat of industrial action by Royal Mail staff and debt problems in the United States meant it decided not to.

Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan and Panmure Gordon, none of whom worked on the stock market listing, told the committee that in the months before the sale they had given the government equity valuations ranging from 3.7 billion to as much as 8.5 billion pounds.

However Citi’s Ben Story said it was “incompatible” to compare those higher valuations with the eventual lower price, due to the lack of detailed company information available to them at the time.

UBS said the differing valuations were also due to how each bank viewed risks linked to Royal Mail, such as the fact it had no proven track record of profit, was involved in litigation over sales tax, faced the threat of increased competition from rivals and the size of its pension fund.

($1 = 0.6210 British pounds)

(Editing by Erica Billingham)

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Rightmove says little sign of UK housing bubble

LONDON Mon Nov 18, 2013 12:14am GMT

A sign is seen outside some newly built apartments in Berkhampstead, southern England August 13, 2013. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

1 of 2. A sign is seen outside some newly built apartments in Berkhampstead, southern England August 13, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Eddie Keogh

LONDON (Reuters) – Fears that Britain’s housing stimulus schemes are inflating a price bubble look overblown according research by property website Rightmove, which cited evidence of strict lending criteria.

The government has introduced two schemes to help revive a property market that crashed in 2008 but, as an economic recovery takes hold, some worry the stimulus could overheat the market and pose a new threat to Britain’s financial stability.

Rightmove director Miles Shipside said efforts by the Financial Conduct Authority were working after it introduced new rules following a review of the mortgage market to stop a repeat of the previous decade’s housing bubble.

“Given the early evidence so far and with the effect of the mortgage market review then certainly fears of a housing bubble are being overplayed,” Shipside said.

Visitors to their website since the second phase of Help to Buy was launched in September had risen 30 percent compared to the same period in 2012, indicating a possible release of pent-up demand to move, Shipside said.

Last week, data from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ showed house prices hit an 11-year high in October, supported by the government schemes and a shortage of properties on the market.

Mortgage lender Halifax said earlier in November average house prices in the three months to October were 6.9 percent higher than a year earlier compared to a 6.2 percent rise the month before, the biggest annual increase since May 2010.

But, Shipside said mortgage lenders were applying tougher standards to all applicants, and that anecdotal evidence showed applications for the Help to Buy programmes were undergoing rigorous checks to ensure they could afford their loans.

“The feedback from agents seems to be that you have to be squeaky-clean,” he said. That meant having a good credit history and in some cases putting down a larger deposit than the minimum 5 percent required by the schemes.

Shipside said that Help to Buy was unlikely to add to rising prices in sought-after London because most Help to Buy candidates would struggle to afford property there. But he said it could eventually put upward pressure on surrounding areas unless supply of new homes was increased.

A survey of 40,000 potential buyers on, Britain’s most visited property website, also showed three-quarters were unaware of the full benefits of the schemes.

Last week Prime Minister David Cameron said 2,000 homebuyers had obtained mortgages through Help to Buy schemes since the second phase, which provides a partial government guarantee, was launched. The first phase consists of equity loans and is limited in scope to new-build properties.

The Rightmove data showed a 2.4 percent dip in the average asking price for properties across the country in November compared to October. Although the series is not seasonally adjusted and typically dips before Christmas, this year’s 2.4 percent fall is less than the average 3 percent seen in the previous three years.

(Reporting by William James; editing by Keiron Henderson)

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Natuzzi’s retail network extends to Sydney

Natuzzi's retail network extends to Sydney

Natuzzi has opened a new and innovative shop in Sydney which brings the number of Natuzzi Italia Store in Australia to seven. Recently, new openings also took place in Vietnam, Brazil and in Africa, a confirmation of Natuzzi’s strategic role as a pathfinder for the Made in Italy in emerging countries.

The new shop – with an area of 700 sq m and no less than 27 room settings – stands out in the world stage as a true ‘store of the future’. It is equipped with a station devoted to 3D interior design – called Your Design By Natuzzi and Design studio – which allows customers to design and furnish their own homes using a touch screen. Thanks to very detailed photo-realistic images, the software enables customers to see how Natuzzi’s living sets fit into the consumers’ own environments.

The opening in Sydney follows the one in Keswick last July (in Adelaide), while more stores are already open in Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. Sydney is the most recent stage of the overall strategy of the Natuzzi Group to achieve better consolidation of its business in mature markets, to expand the retail network in countries with high rate of growth (such as China, Brazil, India, Russia) and to enter some of the previously unexplored areas of Africa and Asia, where the Group continues to play its role as a pioneer for the Made in Italy.

Pasquale Natuzzi, chairman and founder of the Natuzzi Group, stated: “I am extremely pleased to announce the opening of the new Natuzzi Italia Store in Sydney. On the one hand, it represents one more achievement on our way to strengthen our presence in Australia and on the other it
expresses at its best all the potential of our new concept store designed to create a unique shopping experience for our customers through innovative design and interior decoration services.”

The overall number of Natuzzi Italia stores around the world totals to 289, in addition to the 336 Natuzzi Italia Galleries, opened in partnership with major department stores worldwide.

Furniture News is a leading publication for the interiors sector featuring coverage of the latest contemporary furniture trends and the furnishings trade in the UK and overseas.

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UK minister sees ‘stronger’ G4S after review

A G4S security van is parked outside a bank in Loughborough, central England, August 28, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Darren Staples

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Swiss to vote on executive pay curbs

22 November 2013 Last updated at 00:04 GMT By Imogen Foulkes BBC News, Bern How many years would you have to work to earn $17.1m – one year’s salary for Novartis’ chief?

Swiss voters are going to the polls this weekend to decide on strict new laws to limit executive pay.

The measures, if approved, would limit the salaries of top managers to no more than 12 times the wage of the lowest-paid worker in the same company.

The 1:12 initiative is backed by Switzerland Young Socialists, who gathered the necessary 100,000 signatures to call a referendum.

It is the second time this year the Swiss have voted on top salaries: in March they voted overwhelmingly to curb big bonuses, and to ban golden handshakes and goodbyes.

Both votes reflect growing anger in Switzerland at revelations that some of the country’s chief executives are earning more than 200 times what their employees take home.

It emerged earlier this year that Swiss banking giant UBS had awarded $2.6m (£1.6m) in bonuses – the figure matched exactly the bank’s losses over 2012.

“In the last couple of years these managers were really earning a lot – too much,” says Corinne Fankhauser, of the Young Socialists.

“For example, the chief executive of Credit Suisse, he was earning at one point 820 times what his [lowest-paid] employees were earning. So it’s kind of crazy these wages. We want to stop this.”

Continue reading the main story

Source: Travail Suisse/Swiss Broadcasting Corporation

Lowest salary in firm (Swiss francs)

Executive’s salary as multiple of lowest

71,748 Swiss francs ($77,133; £50,732)

Continue reading the main storyAppearing greedy Continue reading the main story
It’s a free decision of the shareholders how much they want to pay the management and the employees”

End Quote Kurt Schaer Owner, BikeTec The Young Socialists have devised some clever campaign tactics: handing out free chocolate chip cookies on the streets, and telling passers by they can take as many as 12 if they want.

Of course, no-one does, because no-one wants to appear quite so greedy. The same attitude, the young socialists argue, should apply to executive pay.

But while the multi-million-dollar salaries paid out at the big banks are hitting the headlines, they are not the full picture.

The real backbone of Switzerland’s economy are the hundreds of small and medium-sized enterprises across the country. The scheme would also affect them, and among their managers opinions are mixed.

Quality ‘the priority’

Thomas Gerber is owner and chief executive of Amarena AG, a kitchen and furniture company. The business is small, but it has clients on four continents.

Mr Gerber has eight staff members and earns just 1.3 times what his employees do. He has no desire for more.

“I think it’s very bad for Switzerland’s image, for us as manufacturers, if we’re only ever in the headlines because of these exorbitant salaries for managers,” he explains.

“Switzerland is not just a lot of big companies, we are a society. I think we have to return to quality products… They are the important part of our business, not huge salaries.”

Campaign poster for 1:12 The Young Socialists have been campaigning for restraints on top bosses’ pay ‘Stupid rulings’

But not everyone shares Mr Gerber’s point of view. Many owners and managers fear the proposed restrictions risk punishing all of Switzerland’s enterprises because of the high-profile mistakes of a few.

In line with company policy, Kurt Schaer, owner and director of BikeTec AG, which makes electrically powered bicycles, earns about five times what his staff earn, and he, too, says he does not want more.

“Of course I’m against too high salaries,” he insists. “It’s not good for the image. But basically we don’t want to have influence from the government into the companies. It’s a free decision of the shareholders how much they want to pay the management and the employees.”

And, Mr Schaer warns, passing 1:12 would cost his company time and money proving to government auditors that BikeTec is obeying pay restrictions it already adheres to.

“We would have to hire more people in our accounting department,” he says.

“I’d like to spend money to create new products, to create new markets… not spend money just to follow some stupid rulings.”

1:12 campaign Opinion polls suggest the vote will be a close one Salaries ‘driven downwards’

The Swiss government, too, is not keen on 1:12, pointing out that Switzerland has a relatively successful tradition of social partnership between business leaders and workers.

“Our way of agreeing salaries has led to lots of good jobs and very low unemployment,” claims Economy Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann.

“I call it the Swiss recipe for success. I don’t want to put this valuable system at risk.

“[If the vote is passed] the lowest wages would not really rise, it’s far more likely all salaries would be driven downwards.”

Some business leaders have also argued that limiting salaries in such an extreme way would mean Switzerland’s leading enterprises would not be able to attract the top people if they could not pay top salaries.

But this argument has not been aired too widely, simply because over the last few months polls have shown that the very mention of high salaries irritates Swiss voters.

What has had more resonance has been the argument that foreign businesses might decide against setting up in Switzerland because of salary restrictions – something which opponents argue would lead to an increase in unemployment, and a decrease in tax revenue.

But ultimately neither the government nor business leaders will have the final say. Instead, in the long tradition of Swiss direct democracy, the voters will decide.

The opinion polls have been close, although the latest indicates that voters may believe 1:12 is a step too far.

But the fact that Switzerland is holding a nationwide referendum at all, just months after clamping down on bonuses, is a message to those high-earning bosses in the really big companies that excessive salaries – like 12 cookies – looks just plain greedy.

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Interiors: bring the holiday feeling home

It’s time for the great escape – to the coast, to the continent, or perhaps just to the most inviting corners of your own home. For those of us staying put this month, a bit of interior sprucing can satisfy the urge for escapism and will prolong the relaxed mood that the amazing weather has brought.

But resist the temptation to load up on seaside-themed quick fixes, say the experts. If you go too far with ticking stripes, anchor motifs and driftwood, you end up in pastiche territory – it’s the opposite of that laid-back, warm-breeze atmosphere we’re after, and will soon look as lacklustre as tinsel in February.

“You know you’ve really nailed an interior when people walk in and want to flop down on a chair,” says Abigail Ahern, an interior designer and author of Decorating with Style. “If you’re too literal, it has the opposite effect – it feels artificial, and people don’t relax. It’s possible to create that holiday atmosphere in a more sophisticated way.”

Lisa Hecht, the interiors buyer at Achica, the members-only lifestyle luxury shop, agrees, and advises concentrating on the foundations. “The key to this look is moderation,” she says. “Think of looking out over a sea harbour. For a light and breezy space, natural hues such as blue, grey, white, turquoise and silver are a good base, while for smaller details you can use darker, bolder shades of those hues.”

Design experts at the website also recommend a restful palette that brings to mind a remote holiday cottage: their Dulux Light and Space paint range (from £24.98 for 2.5 litres) is full of muted colours, from soft corals to serene blues, that make a room feel brighter and more spacious by reflecting light. “Keep it simple, and interject your chosen colours with white to keep the ambience light,” says Nicky Pysden at DecorateNow. For an instant thrifty ‘lift’ she suggests painting tired wicker furniture in a crisp white. Habitat’s linen-cream, woven rattan-seated Jak chair (£60;, inspired by Van Gogh’s chair painting, has similar appeal.

The Dulux Light and Space paint range reflects light, creating a serene ambience (from

Of course, white all over is instantly refreshing. Take Loaf’s Bobbin bed (£695, – it looks like an old brass one, but is solid-wood finished in calm off-white heritage paint, buffed with wax – and dress it with cool linens (Cologne and Cotton’s jacquard stripe Capri and white seersucker styles are five-star hotel quality, and on sale;

Then introduce one or two vibrant accessories. For deep ocean tones, go for Habitat’s two-toned cotton Leni throw, below (£35, or John Lewis of Hungerford’s painted artisan stool in coastal blue (£210, If you prefer a smarter, nautical feel, there are deep cobalts and inky, French navy blues about: the handwoven indigo Paris pendant lightshade, £65, from Habitat (as before) or a vibrant tie-dyed rug from the Savine range by Designers Guild (

“Blue in nearly all its tones has such an uplifting quality,” says the colour guru Tricia Guild, founder and director of Designers Guild, whose new book, Colour Deconstructed, will be published in September. “My favourite at the moment is cobalt. Its dynamic strength and joyous optimism are infectious. Using it with white creates a feeling that is crisp and timeless; it says summer without being twee.”

Abigail Ahern’s approach to the holiday mood is to emphasise the unexpected, using rich colours. “Even at the coast I don’t use pastels,” she says. “I use dark colours on the walls, because they look amazing when there’s more light; summery accessories like woven baskets and reed grass matting, which look beautiful against dark colours; and maybe a vase in yellow or aqua, which, along with flowers, will instantly lift a room.”

The factor that really makes this look work, the “game changer”, is texture. “The more texture you add to a room, the more friction you create, the more compelling it is,” she says. “Do this with soft textiles and natural weathered surfaces, a bit of metal and shine, some rough some smooth.”

You could also turn one corner into a restful retreat, she says, referring to the interior above, making a feature of ‘downtime’ furniture – a daybed, window seat or rocking chair. Imitate the weathered panelling with Piet Hein Eek’s Scrapwood wallpaper (£199,

‘Scrapwood’ wallpaper, by Piet Hein Eek, £199 from

A dreamy book, Homes from Home by Vinny Lee, also coming out soon, provides escapist inspiration for small spaces. Devoted to decorating the places that can be enjoyed “without the responsibilities or obligations of a full-time home”, from beach huts to woodland cabins, it encourages a romantic, fuss-free style that could equally be introduced in your living room.

A tasteful way to introduce a bit of shells-and-seaweed spirit to your scheme is to use Abigail Ahern’s principle of “decorative clustering”. “Displays on walls and surfaces make your home seem more lived-in and loved; anything that tells a story engages people,” she says. “It’s a good way to use vintage postcards, mementos or photos; group them together, along with found items, in a spontaneous way, never in rows.” If you haven’t had the chance to collect pebbles for your displays, Sainsbury’s has wire-netted glass bottles that have a hint of the harbour (£14, – or choose just one graphic, unfussy boat ornament (the boat model from Liberty, £145;, then give all other coastal references a wide berth.

‘Decorating with Style’ by Abigail Ahern (Quadrille, £16.99) is £14.99 + £1.35 p&p. Call 0844 71 1514 or see

‘Homes from Home: Inventive Small Spaces, From Chic Shacks to Cabins and Caravans’ by Vinny Lee (Jacqui Small, £30) is £26 + £1.35 p&p from Telegraph Books. Call 0844 71 1514 or see

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