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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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform