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"Upstairs Downstairs" divide replaced by the House Manager

Long gone are the delineating "Upstairs Downstairs" roles in the typical UK private household. Think not so much "Downton Abbey" as managing the lives of the international and elite globe-trotting UK jet-set. House Managers are the new "below stairs" staff.  More integrated into day-to-day family life, the House Manager is responsible for looking after the every need of globe-trotting families.  Michelin star Chef's responsible for cooking up 5-star meals or beans on toast while the tutors are responsible for making sure 4-year-olds get the best academic start in life. Back in the 1911 census, 1.5 million people recorded working in domestic jobs in the UK.  Elite households back then were run by a small army of domestic staff, much like a sm...

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How to structure your household staff?

The smooth and successful running of your home will be in part due to the right staff but also having the right staff structure in place. The right staff structure gives every staff member clarity on what everyone's individual duties are so they're more effective and efficient. It also gives you a clear measure later on when you come up to staff reviews. Where to start? Make a list of all the areas in which you need help and concentrate on each area in turn.  Might be housekeeper, cook, driver, nanny or butler. Now get into the nitty gritty. Take the role of driver for example. Write up the job description in detail. What hours they will be required to work, what duties are expected of them, majority long or short journeys, will they be transporting family, bus...

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What does an Estate Manager do?

That should probably say what doesn't an Estate Manager do? Every Estate Manager's role is different; according to the estate he or she manages, the number of staff under their supervision, the scope and complexities of the estate itself and the demands of their employer. Responsible for the upkeep, day-to-day running and profitability of the estate, he/she will oversee maintenance, supervise staff, manage budgets and events. Mainly household based estate managers will also need to focus on land and outbuilding management. One thing every estate manager has in common though, is an extremely varied and interesting workload. One of the main aspects of the Estate Manager's role is the supervision of staff who in turn are responsible for different areas of the estate.&...

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How do you set a silver table service?

Whether you're designing an entire table display or simply the plate, creating an enticing table, that sets the mood and gives your guests the wow-factor requires a meticulous eye for detail and an understanding of how to set a table properly.  Here you'll learn how to set the table, different types of crockery, mapping out a basic table setting or a formal table arrangement.   What's Silver Service? It's a dining service where food is brought to the table, traditionally on silver platters, and served to individual's plates, rather than plated up in the kitchen and brought to your table. Servers use either two forks, or a fork and spoon in one hand, in a similar grip to chopsticks, to pick up a serving of food and transfer it fr...

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What makes a great butler?

We posted a great role for a formally trained butler on our Villa Recruit jobs board this morning.  A full-time position based half the year in West Palm Beach, the other half the Hamptons. BUTLER ROLE:  "Responsibilities include serving at formal dinners, managing the home, assisting in the planning of events, dinner parties and running errands. Knowledge of beverages desirable. Other responsibilities include calling in repairmen and overseeing their work, as well as dealing with contractors and landscapers. Occasionally housekeeping when necessary." Posting the various responsibilities of the role, made me think about what it takes to be a really great butler. As Google would have it "chief manservant of a house," the reality of being a butler in t...

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Norland Celebrates 128 years

This month we thought we'd throw the spotlight on those fabulous Norland nannies who graduate from Norland College. With their instantly recognisable uniform, we wanted to find out more about the history, heritage and values of Norland College.  Norland College was founded in 1892 by Emily Ward with children's early years education in mind. Influenced by the ideas of Friedrich Frobel - creator of the kindergarten concept - Emily recognised that every child has unique needs and capabilities and should have access to childcare that facilitates that. As the first educational establishment in the UK to offer any kind of childcare training, Norland was focused on the need for early years childcare to be more structured.  Totally centred around the child. Prior t...

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The Swanky Shankly Grand Party Hotel

Have you caught up with BBC One's Grand Party Hotel yet?  The real life docu-soap based on and in Liverpool's Shankly Hotel.  A little reminiscent of the BBC's series Hotel Babylon (2006-9), only with flamboyance, colour and a splash of Big Brother!  I can't decide whether it's decadent, exciting or kitsch in the extreme!  Love it or hate it this extraordinary hotel has cornered the "party-dream" market.  With 83 uniquely themed rooms and suites, from bridal, communal (sleeps 24!) to sporting themed in memory of Liverpool's football manager, Bill Shankly OBE.  Some boasting pink flamingos on the ceiling, some with lion's heads on the walls, even toilets fashioned into thrones, and don't forget your...

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Flower Arranging Made Easy

We can all appreciate the impact of a beautiful flower arrangement, but how do you achieve it with little or no training?  Here are some really simple tips for making an impact without the stress. Choose your colour palette – decide which colours you want to feature but remember classy, elegant displays are often achieved with the simplest of colour ways. So, stick to 1 or 2 colours, that's all you need to create a simple, elegant but impactful floral display.  For example: only buy white and green flowers.  TIP: Often the more colours you choose, the more hectic, crazy and distracting the effect.   Flower finds - If you can't get to your gorgeous local flower market (you'll probably have to get up super early but it's worth th...

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The Role of Household Management with COVID

  The role of the Household Manager has changed somewhat with the advent of coronavirus.  With lots of new responsibilities added to the original job description, the adage "Walking/Working Manager" really fits in these new times as private households reel from the limitations of the pandemic and fears of future lockdown and quarantine. Running the household from behind a desk is no longer enough! Employers will expect higher standards, tighter controls and crystal-clear procedures to reflect the demands of our times: Household Managers will need to: Get fully up to speed with industry best practise to keep private households safe for families and staff. Work out whether to guarantee safer home environments, a professional should be employed to train domest...

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10 Home Renovation Pointers

Don't just think fabulous, think functional. When you're planning a home renovation, an Interior Designer worth their salt should advise you on more than just the fabrics and furnishings, lighting and artwork.   For your home to run smoothly and efficiently, the less glamorous bits like storage, light sockets and linen cupboards might sound dull, but unless they're carefully planned and allocated in advance, could leave your beautifully crafted spaces looking unsightly and chaotic.  Don't just think fabulous, think functional.    1. Plan AheadTry to think to how you, your family and your staff will use your house, not just today but in the future. As the children grow, the way you use your home will change, so think about how the space accommodates everyone...

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