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We're all going on a summer staycation; Gabrielle Fagan shows you how to create 'Costa del Home' from the comfort of your sofa.

Byline: Gabrielle Fagan

LEAVE the suitcases to gather dust and the passport in the drawer this year because the most fashionable holiday destination is... home sweet home The number of Britons holidaying abroad has shown the sharpest fall since the package holiday transformed mass tourism in the 1970s, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Instead we're choosing to 'staycation' and that's triggered a trend for transforming homes, backyards and patios into exotic sanctuaries where we can enjoy the summer.

Sales of palm trees and other tropical plants are booming as people replicate that 'get-away-from-it-all' landscape, even if we have to rely on paddling pools and sandpits for the 'sea and sand' element!

Dobbies, one of Britain's largest chains of garden centres, has sold nearly 70% more palm trees this year compared with last year.

"This is all about a bit of escapism for Brits who haven't managed to escape on holiday. We've put the sharp rise in palms and tropical plants down to the number of people who don't have the money for an exotic break this summer," says the company's plant buyer, Andy Smith.

"But they still want to have a piece of the Mediterranean or Caribbean in their back garden or on their patio.

"They're really craving what they would see if they looked out from their hotel balcony in the South of France or St Lucia."

So kit out your home and garden with our 'holiday' finds from beach-ball lights to fake lawns and, of course, those palms.

Then sit back, sip a cocktail and send travelling family and friends a 'glad we stayed here' card!

TROPICAL TRICKERY Even if you can't guarantee it will be sun-soaked, your garden could resemble a sultry oasis if you deck it out with plants reminiscent of your favourite hot-spot.

"Recent heatwaves have encouraged people to buy plants like bougainvillea and geraniums as well as palms such as cordyline and trachycarpus," says Smith.

Dobbies' palms range from an 18-inch plant, from pounds 6.99, to a mature eight-foot palm for pounds 300.

But if you're not green-fingered, you could just fake a perfect patch by using artificial grass.

Now so improved in quality and appearance, fake grass made its debut at this year's Chelsea Flower Show and fans include Amanda Holden and Channel 4's Location, Location, Location star, Phil Spencer.

"It looks great, and there's no mowing needed!," says Phil. "My sons can play endless games of football on it without leaving a mark, and there's only minimal maintenance required."

Carry on the pretence indoors with Mediterranean-style artificial plants from specialist company, Bloom. Lemon Tree, pounds 79; Agave Succulent, pounds 35.

STAYCATION SPEND: Get a real palm from B&Q. Trachycarpus Fortunei Windmill palm, pounds 19.98.

STAYCATION SPLURGE: Revel in a forever-green lawn from companies such as The Artificial Lawn Company. Its range of artificial grass starts from pounds 15.95 a square metre.

BYGONE SEASIDE STYLE Conjure memories of happy days out by the British seaside, with tiles depicting Cornish scenes.

Welbeck Tiles feature a range of locations such as Perranporth, Newquay and the Isles of Scilly and replicate vistas from seaside postcards dating from the 1880s to the 1950s.

"They remind people of childhood and family holidays and particularly suit kitchens and bathrooms," says design director, Brenda Bates. Tiles cost pounds 40 each, or from pounds 700 for a 125x90cm panel.

Turn a floor into a pebble scattered sea-shore with Mandarin Stone flooring, whose pebble ranges include the appropriately named, Atlantic Grey Pebble, Seashell, and Caribbean Candy Pebble. Flooring starts from around pounds 58 a square metre.

STAYCATION SPEND: Recreate a favourite holiday destination with a moodboard. Frame a montage of postcards, photos and memorabilia such as tickets and programmes, to get the look.

Or why not dip a toe in the past by displaying vintage sea-side postcards? These are available from 99p, from specialist company Alfapostcards.

STAYCATION SPLURGE: It may sound bizarre, but Yukka & Stamp offer retro cameras which double up as quirky plant holders for cacti.

They start from pounds 30.

SUNNY DELIGHTS It's a great time to revamp and furnish a patio at bargain prices as many stores are beginning to reduce ranges of garden furniture.

Entertain outdoors with a movie night - projectors can be hired from companies such as www.aliveandsound.co.uk, and you just need to hang a white sheet on a line for a screen, and grab a few DVDs.

STAYCATION SPEND: Shelter from the sun under a sleek metal gazebo, pounds 495 from John Lewis. It is made from powder-coated steel and a Textilene fabric, and has a unique pulley system and adjustable sides.

STAYCATION SPLURGE: Pools, indoor or outdoor, are the ultimate luxury for those who want to want to make a splash all year round.

"More and more people are choosing to invest in a pool instead of spending the money on holidays," says Estelle Michaels at Easy Pools, whose pools start from pounds 7,000.

SOUVENIR STYLE Be an armchair traveller and display world maps or a globe and resort posters, and treasures brought back from trips whether its beachcomber finds or Costa-del-Chic bric-a-brac.

Cloth-Ears nostalgia-inspired goodies include its 'Paper Planes' range echoing the iconic design of those long-gone air-mail letters. Teamug and coaster, pounds 8.99; plate or bowl, pounds 7.99 And its vintage metal 'I'm On Holiday Get It Yourself ' sign is surely an essential finishing touch for a staycation home. It's pounds 5.99.

STAYCATION SPEND: Decorative wooden letters, pounds 12 each from Not On The High Street, can be covered in any choice of map and could be used to spell out a name, perhaps of a favourite foreign city.

STAYCATION SPLURGE: Add a taverna-touch to a kitchen with stools, made from recycled catering tins once used for foods such as Greek olives. Each stool costs pounds 95 from Pedlars.

Right, Vintage metal, I''m On Holiday Get It Yourself'' sign, pounds 5.99, Cloth Ears stockists Alfapostcards.com: 01704 895 056/alfapostcards.com Artificial Lawn Company: 01474 364 320/artificiallawn.co.uk B&Q: 0845 850 017/diy.com Bloom: 0844 482 2332/bloom.uk.com Buythesea-Bymail: 01460 258 970/buythesea-bymail.co.uk Cloth-Ears: 01227 811 724/cloth-ears.co.uk DigetexHOME: 0161 873 8891/.digetexhome.com Dobbies: 0844 840 8404/dobbies.com Easy Pools: easypools.co.uk John Lewis: 0845 6049 049/johnlewis.com Mandarin Stone: mandarinstone.com Not On The High Street: 0844 745

4455/notonthehighstreet.com Pedlars: 01330 850 400/pedlars.co.uk Tobyhouse: 07795 528 082/tobyhouse.org.uk Welbeck Tiles: 01736 762000/welbeck,com Yukka & Stamp: yukka-and-stamp.com life's a beach TURN up the heat in the lounge, no matter what the weather outside, with a wall mural of an idyllic Maldives beach.

This balmy scene of blue sky, sea, white sand and a palm tree is pounds 145 from DigetexHome, which also has a collection of cushions, from pounds 29.99 each, featuring tourist attractions such as India's Taj Mahal.

STAYCATION SPEND: Save your pennies and get the sand-between-your toes feeling with a DIY patio beach.

All you need is a sprinkling of natural sand, the soothing sound of crashing waves, and a deckchair.

B&Q's Play sand is pounds 3.98 a bag, and coastal-themed interiors company, Buythesea has a CD, The Sea: Sounds of Nature, pounds 9.99, and a nautical-style blue-and-white striped deckchair, pounds 60.

STAYCATION SPLURGE: Bounce the light fantastic with a striped pendant light replicating that essential seaside toy, a Beachball. It is pounds 249, from Tobyhouse.

Peppermint Pebble stone mosaic flooring, pounds 58.73 per square metre, Mandarin Stone Beachball pendant lights, pounds 249 each, Tobyhouse

CAPTION(S):

Spring Lawn artificial grass, pounds 25.95 per square metre, The Artificial Lawn Company High Street and above, Maldives wallpaper mural, pounds 145, DigetexHome Piscinelle swimming pool, from pounds 9,500, Easy Pools
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 3, 2010
Words:1311
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