Five cheap and cheerful ways to decorate and brighten up your home


THE Consumer Crew are here to solve your problems.

Mel Hunter will take on readers’ consumer issues, Jane Hamilton will give you the best advice for buying your dream home, and Judge Rinder will tackle your legal woes.

Jane Hamilton, property expert

Jane Hamilton has some decorating tips for the new year ahead

WANT a fresh look for 2021? Then decorate your home with yellow and grey.

This zingy combo of shades , Ultimate Gray and Illuminating Yellow, has been chosen as the 2021 Pantone Colour of the Year, only the second time a pairing has scooped the annual gong.

Grey and yellow has been voted as next year’s top combination

Amanda Pollard, of renovation and design platform, says: “The grounding tones of grey mixed with uplifting yellow are the ideal balanced colour combination for our homes after a year of uncertainty.”

But how easy is it to work such vibrant tones into your home? The site’s experts share their tips . . . 

Plump for cushions: Quick and cost effective, cushions are an easy way to add sunshine to your home. Try a cheerful shade of yellow on a grey sofa. Asda has a range starting at just £5.

Make a statement: Grey walls have been popular for a few years but update them with yellow accessories such as velvet curtains or a statement chair. Ikea’s £199 Wing chair in Skiftebo yellow will lift any home.

A combination of yellow and grey can liven up your home

Future-proof a nursery: Yellows and greys are a stylish colour option for nurseries. Introduce bold yellow patterns through soft furnishings, and blinds and bedding. It will help to create a room that works for babies, toddlers and beyond.

Create a restful bedroom: Calming grey is an ideal bedroom shade but warm up its neutral tone with plenty of textured cushions, throws and bedding in sunshine yellows and rich mustards.

Be mellow for yellow: Find the idea of lots of yellow daunting? Add just a little to build your design confidence. Layer on more when it gets sunnier.

Buy of the week

Almost half the homes for sale in Belfast are chain-free

LOOKING to secure a home without the hassle?

Belfast has been named the UK’s chain-free hotspot, with 44 per cent of homes in the city offered without a chain, according to house buyers Yes Homebuyers.

Snap up this luxury three-bedroom house for £229,950 at

Deal of the week

Buy a bargain diffuser at Dunelm

SCENT your home and add sparkle with this diamante bling reed diffuser.

It’s just £8 at

SAVE: £2 on similar styles elsewhere

Judge Rinder, legal expert

Judge Rinder helps readers with property advice

Q) MY son worked for a short time at a pub but never got the wages he was owed so made a small claim at court.

Since the defendant failed to respond to the claim, it was ruled in favour of my son and the instruction to pay £404 was made.

The claim was against the manager’s name trading as the pub rather than directly against the pub.

The manager has now parted ways with the pub and the claim remains unpaid.

Since the claim directly names the previous manager, is the claim against him directly or against the pub?

Who is responsible for payment? If the judgment is directly with the ex-manager, does it need to be changed to take the claim further.

If so, how is this done? Scott, Essex

Judge Rinder helps a reader’s son who worked in a pub and needs advice

A) This is a rather tricky situation, I’m afraid. In order to enforce this judgment, the right person (or business) should have been correctly identified as the defendant, which does not appear to have happened here.

The small claims court judgment should have been issued against the owners of the pub, not the manager, who was, by the sound of it, just an employee.

Your son has two options. The first is to email the pub’s owners including the court’s judgment and to argue that, as their manager was “trading as” the pub, they are clearly liable for the money owed.

Given the relatively small amount involved in this case, I would be surprised if this didn’t do the trick.

If the owners insist that your son has the judgment amended, this could possibly be done administratively by writing to the court with evidence of what has happened and asking for the judge to amend the original order.

Either way, I’m afraid this is all a legal hassle that should have been avoided.

Q) My ex and I bought a house and got a joint mortgage in 2004. We split in 2008.

He has been paying the mortgage himself ever since. I have asked him repeatedly if we can approach the bank to remove my name from the mortgage and he refuses to even acknowledge me.

What should I do? Laura, Lancaster

A) This situation cannot continue. If something were to happen to your ex-partner you would be liable for the mortgage repayments.

You must get in touch with the mortgage lender and explain things to them. There’s no reason why you cannot do this.

Your partner clearly has the option of buying you out of the house by simply taking over the mortgage.

Given that he has been making these payments for four years, it shouldn’t be hard (unless his financial situation has drastically changed) to prove to the bank that he can afford them.

If your ex-partner continues to refuse to engage with you, I would advise you to get some legal help ASAP (Citizens Advice is a good start).

You could, if ultimately necessary, get this fairly easily resolved by a court, but a reasonable and mindfully drafted letter to your ex-partner explaining that you want to avoid litigation is your best first step.

Mel Hunter, reader’s champion

Mel Hunter helps a reader with washing machine problems

Q) DUE to my health conditions, I had to stay inside during the pandemic and I need to do a lot of laundry.

I had bought a washing machine from the Currys PCWorld eBay site in April 2019, but it broke down in April this year.

An engineer came out and said he would be back four days later to fit a new motor.

A fortnight later, having heard nothing, I called Currys, who said it was too expensive to fix. I have heard nothing more from them.

My washing is costing me £20 a week and in lockdown I had to wash clothes in the bath. Tracey, Somerset

A) When your machine broke, it was within the 12 month warranty, so the machine should have been repaired, replaced or refunded.

I pointed this out to Currys PC World and urged them to also help with your laundry bills, sending them your receipts for cleaning which came to £480.

I managed to get a refund for both the machine and £300 for the washing, giving you more than £500 back.

A Currys PC World spokesperson said: “We are very sorry for Ms Nelson’s experience.

“We have apologised for the inconvenience and have fully refunded Ms Nelson for the cost of the product and have offered her an additional goodwill in the form of a discount for her next purchase on our eBay site.”

Mel Hunter stepped in to assist with a holiday refund

Q) I BOOKED a holiday to Perth, Australia, including a five-day stay in Dubai on the way back.

The booking was made with Hays Travel, which then booked the holiday with Gold Medal Travel. I paid in full to Hays.

Due to the pandemic, we had to leave Perth on March 23 for the UK, losing our Dubai stay.

I have contacted Hays multiple times for a refund.

It told me Gold Medal had the full payment of £2,547.

Gold Medal says it paid a third party in Dubai for the hotel and will not return money until it gets its refund.

I am being told to be patient – even though I have been waiting more than seven months. Please help. John, Folkestone

A) After a seven-month wait to get your money back, Hays Travel put it back in your account seven days after I got in touch.

The 14-day guidelines for paying customers back seem to have gone out of the window, with each party wanting to ensure it is not left out of pocket by issuing a refund before it gets its cash from the next supplier in the chain.

None of this was your fault and I am glad I was able to speed things along and get you the £700 you had paid for the Dubai leg of your trip back.

A spokesperson for Gold Medal said: “We’re pleased Mr Beales has received his refund, and regret that, like so many others, his claim was caught up in the unprecedented disruption to operations caused by the pandemic this year.”

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