Interiors Insider: What's your interiors manifesto?

I love the idea of a manifesto for decorating your home – and was inspired by seeing one in an inspiringly unconventional new homes book called Things I Love (£25, Conran Octopus), by the super-successful Australian interiors stylist Megan Morton. Here are highlights from her brilliant list of house-y do's and don'ts…

Quintet quarter: A bedroom at the B&B

B&B and Beyond: Quintet, Shanghai

For an escape from the city's modern skyscrapers, find sanctuary in this charming 1930s house, says Lucinda Baring

Shopping: Smaller sizes and higher prices? What’s new!

A report from Which? published this week revealed that crafty manufacturers are shrinking packet sizes.

SITTING PRETTY: One of the highlights of the collection, this tan leather SO3 Seglora sofa is eminently desirable and the leather should age beautifully. £1,400

A rare Stockholm collection

Ikea launches its seldom seen Stockholm range next month. Trish Lorenz gets a sneak peak

Sigh of relief on the high street as trading levels climb to highest for three years

Trading on the high street bounced back strongly last month to its highest level for more than three years, giving retailers a much-needed fillip.

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Ampersand Travel, which specialises in trips to Asia, is launching tailormade trips in the UK, including an art tour of the capital and a week taking in romantic spots in Scotland (ampersandtravel.com).

Postcard from... New York

Back in the early 1930s, a wealthy New York businessman gave the Brooklyn museum what appeared to be a valuable gift: a cache of Renaissance paintings, works by Dutch masters and artifacts from China and elsewhere. And in the decades since, the bequest by Col Michael Friedsam must have been many a curator’s dream – until it became a nightmare.

A view of the convent of Mater Ecclesiae, the new residence of Pope Benedict XVI after his retirement, in Vatican City

Pope Benedict will get a pension worth €2,500-a-month

Pope Benedict XVI will receive a €2,500-a-month pension (£2,100) when he abdicates at the end of February and adopts the more modest title of Emeritus Bishop of Rome.

The Insider: Ingenious objects for your home

This job means I am a sponge for news of (often) brilliant products. Some are brilliant not just for their beauty, but also because they are so clever. I have some favourites: while not all are super-cheap, none is throwaway; some will even help the things you already have last longer…

Old and new: a Tower Wing suite

Room Service: Hotel Majestic, Kuala Lumpur

Colonial class with modern luxuries

NILS: Both men and women are pretty fond of sitting. But as you’re not able to fold this and it’s not made of lace, Ikea’s made it male

Ikea furniture: Are Billy, Sofia and friends really sexist?

It’s incredible what you can get at Ikea these days: those mugs with the too-small handles; fairy lights; beds; meatballs; a bit of casual sexism. If you were to have a flick through the Swedish flat-pack company’s substantial catalogue, paying attention to the names it gives its products, among the many Nordic place names it uses for things such as mirrors and bedside tables, it seems to have a distinctly gendered naming process.

Freshen up: the 1920s townhouse has a new lease of life

Room Service: Lastarria, Santiago de Chile

Colonial chic in a buzzy barrio

Interiors insider: Charlie Marshall of Loaf

Founder of Loaf Charlie Marshall shares top tips on what to look for when buying a bed and his favourite interior shops in London.

Five-Minute Memoir: William Nicholson recalls being driven over the edge by a white van

This is a tale of suffering, redemption and white vans. Late last year I needed to transport some furniture from our house in Sussex to my son's rooms in central London. I should have paid a man to do it for me, but foolishly confident in my driving ability, I decided to hire a van and drive it myself. It was a white Ford Transit 280 panel van, which if you've ever driven you'll know presents special challenges to the driver. It's long and wide and you can't see out of the back. You never really know how close you are to anything else on the road. Turning corners brings with it new surprises every time. Overtaking becomes an act of reckless abandon.

Baroness Warsi, Britain’s most senior Muslim minister

Baroness Warsi: Fewer than one in four people believe Islam is compatible with British way of life

Fewer than one in four people now believe that following Islam is compatible with a British way of life, Britain's most senior Muslim minister will warn today.

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 23 January 2015
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us