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How to make your bedroom into a boudoir

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When decorating your home you should always make the bedroom the focal point of your plans. This is because the bedroom is (or at least should be) the focus of any home. Without a well decorated and comfortable bedroom it is impossible to get a good sleep and your work will suffer as a result. Here are some hints and tips on how to make your everyday bedroom into a sumptuous boudoir that would be fit for royalty.

  • Blackout blinds or curtains: Blackout blinds and curtains almost guarantee a good sleep. If you work on a night or work shifts you will need to be able to sleep during the day. This makes blackout blinds or curtains almost essential. As well as this, blackout blinds and curtains ooze luxury and finery. Make sure that if you opt for the curtain option that you get luxurious curtain ties. Never leave curtains hanging as this can make your room look untidy.
  • Buy the best mattress and bed possible: The bedroom may be the focus of the house but the bed is definitely the focus of the bedroom. The bed is possibly the most important piece of furniture that you will buy for your home. Due to this, it is important that you invest wisely. Although price doesn’t necessarily guarantee quality, you almost always get what you pay for with beds. However, if you’re someone with an eye for a bargain, then check out the Beds Warehouse.
  • Make the decorations unique and luxurious: Decorative touches will always make your home look more personal, but make sure that they make it look luxurious too. If you’re trying to make your bedroom into a boudoir then consider lavish mirrors and canvas prints. As well as this, however, make sure that you keep those homely touches and family photos. Your home needs to be unique and personal as well as being lavish and luxurious.

Once all of these changes (or any others that you see fit to make) are in place you can begin to relax in your home. By improving your sleep you can begin to relax more and enjoy the true comforts that are on offer. As I have already stated, the bedroom should be the focus of any home. Only once you have converted yours into a sumptuous boudoir should you begin to make further changes and additions.

Note: this is a guest post and consideration was received for its publication. photo: CC-licensed image by Daniela


Furniture For Your Dining Room

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Note: this is a guest post and consideration was received for its publication. photo: CC-licensed image by Joe Wolf

The idea of a dining room can seem a little old fashioned these days – we eat at our desks, in our bedrooms, or perhaps slumped in front of the TV. With so much competing for our attention – and cash - the idea of spending money on a dining table can seem rather quaint. Yet there’s something about the dining table that brings the family together in a way TVs and computers cannot – a refined setting for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Research suggests it can even improve social skills in children. Picture a proper Sunday roast with all the trimmings laid out on the table, while the whole family tucks in – or even something as simple as somewhere to do the crossword in the morning – and you’ll start to see the attraction of a top quality dining table.

Size is an obvious consideration. A medium-sized table with four chairs will suit the average-sized family for most of the year, but what about when Christmas rolls around and a dozen aunts, uncles, nephews and nieces descend? On the other hand, if space is tight, it can be a real struggle manoeuvring around a dining table that’s just too big. Perhaps the best solution is the neat compromise of an extender table, which features a hidden extension that can be kept out of sight for quieter days.

What sort of space is your dining area? If it’s shared with a kitchen or living room, you can use high-backed chairs with dark wood to create a clear and contrasting place for eating. Don’t forget to plan carefully to allow enough space around your table, including extra room if you’re purchasing an extending table.

It’s important to get a good feel for your furniture before you buy. Until recently, the only real way to buy dining room furniture was ordered through specialist retailers in retail parks or via high street department stores. But you can also buy online direct from a company like Top Furniture Ltd. You can view and order through a website, or visit the showroom to get a true feel of what you’re about to buy.

It goes without saying that it doesn’t hurt to spend a little extra if the result is better quality all-round. Budget dining furniture is usually cheap for a reason – you might find a poor finish, low quality material or even structural deficiencies.  Buy a cheap dining table and you might find yourself replacing it in a few years – whereas a high quality, premium grade table is an investment that will keep giving back for generations to come.


Make your bedroom more luxurious than any five star hotel room

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Note: this is a guest post and consideration was received for its publication. photo: CC-licensed image by Jeanne Michelle Smith

Let’s face it; we all want to live the life of luxury and that’s why we constantly dream of winning the lottery and escaping to a faraway island. In addition, whenever we plan holidays we always consider the luxury and relaxation elements of the trips. But, why do we have to get away to experience luxury? You can have luxury right in your own home and the cost implications aren’t huge. Here’s how you can make your home more luxurious than any five star hotel:

  • Save yourself time by installing a dishwasher: The best thing about a holiday is that somebody else does all the chores and this leaves you free to relax. By getting a dishwasher you can eliminate at least one banal task, giving you more time to relax and enjoy your time away from the office.
  • Upgrade your bed and mattress: One of the most notable things about a five star hotel is the comfort of the bed. It is almost impossible to have a bad sleep in a posh hotel and this is something that you can easily emulate in your own home by upgrading your bed and mattress. Four-poster beds really exemplify style and luxury and look great in any home (as long as you have the ceiling height). If this interests you, then visit Retford Pine to see what is on offer for what price.
  • Add candles and mood lighting to get the right vibe: Holidays and breaks are all about relaxation and nothing relaxes people more than scented candles. Used in the right place and at the right time, candles can improve both the smell and look of any home. They can not only add freshness but they can change the mood of any room too; particularly if you’re snuggled on the sofa watching a good film.

Five star hotels really are luxurious but they are simply unaffordable on a regular basis. Upgrading your home gradually, however, is much more affordable and sustainable. So, use your money wisely and you can live in comparable luxury in no time! All of the above suggestions are great ideas but feel free to add your own and move at your own pace. Everybody sees luxury differently, so make sure that what you do is right for you and your family. You really can be enjoying your own luxurious home in no time- you’ll never have to go away again.


Make your garden beautiful as well as practical

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Note: this is a guest post and consideration was received for its publication. photo: CC-licensed image by Bruce Fingerhood

Many people who live in congested towns and cities crave a garden. So, if you’re lucky enough to have one then you have to make the most of it. Here are some great ideas on how you can make the most of your garden space.

  1. Plan the use of the space: Just as you would with any other room, make sure that you measure your garden. You can only begin to plan what you would like to do when you know the exact measurements. As soon as you have these you can begin to sketch and design what you would like your garden to look like. Be sure to be creative yet practical and do not bite off more than you can chew. If you feel as though your plans are a touch too elaborate then consult with landscapers.
  2. Consider a shed: If you’re short on space indoors then you really need to utilise your outdoor space. A shed or outhouse is perfect for this and you can place any large object in there as well as any tools.
  3. Make an area for the children: If you have a family then you need to make sure that your garden can be used by everybody. For this reason you should consider making at least part of your garden into a play area for your children where they can play sports or games. It is much safer for them to play here than out on the streets, or even in the living room around the ornaments!
  4. Have an area designed specifically for you: However, you probably spend most of your life thinking about your kids so it’s time that you thought about yourself for a change. A decking area similar to the ones offered by Milford is perfect for entertaining so you can have all of your friends and family around to enjoy the sunshine.

A garden really is a great space to have, so make sure that you make the most of it. There is no right or wrong way to utilise your garden space so use it in whatever way you see fit. You may think that none of the above ideas are right for you, and that is absolutely fine. These, however, are great starting points. So, get those creative juices flowing; you could be pleasantly surprised by the results.


Seasonal Maintenance Tasks Around The House

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Note: this is a guest post and consideration was received for its publication. photo: CC-licensed image by Charlie Vinz

Perhaps you’ve been in your home for many years and you’ve just realised you can no longer put off all those essential repairs you’ve tried to ignore since you moved in. Maybe you’ve just moved in and discovered your dream home is a little rough around the edges. Or maybe you’re looking to sell or let and there’s a few glaring problems that you can’t sell as “rustic” to potential buyers.

Whatever stage you’re at in the property ladder, it’s always good practice to keep your home in top condition from January to December – and to that end, there’s a host of easy but effective checks and preparations you can perform throughout the year that can help prevent a lot of unnecessary work later on. Alternatively, if you’re a DIY novice who’d prefer a professional appraisal and expert work – or if you just don’t have the time - you could choose to go with a home maintenance service such as The Handy People who will supply trained handymen to fix all kinds of problems around the house.

Spring

The varying weather can take its toll on a poorly maintained house. Spring is the time to check and repair any cracks in the walls or ceilings, perhaps caused by winter ice, which can let in rain during spring showers or summer thunderstorms.

Summer

Watch out for humidity, which can lead to damp and structural damage – consider using a dehumidifier to keep the air in cellars, garages and bathrooms dry. But the good weather makes summer a great opportunity to air out rooms, give carpets and rugs a good clean, and inspect the exterior of the house and garden for any small jobs that need doing.

Autumn

It’s time to check the heating – check your central heating is operating correctly, and be sure to bleed radiators so heat can circulate properly throughout the house before the cold sets in. Because the cold weather plays havoc with plumbing, take the time to check your pipes and taps to ensure the whole system works as it should.

Winter

When winter rolls around, be sure to wipe down cold windows where condensation forms – excessive water can quickly lead to damp on walls and rotting wood.

Using electric heaters and fireplaces can keep our homes cosy and warm in winter, but it sharply increases the risk of fires. Now’s the time to check the batteries in your smoke alarm and make sure you and your family know what to do if the worst happens – it could save your life.


Make your living room a place for all the family

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Note: this is a guest post and consideration was received for its publication. photo: CC-licensed image of a XXXXXXX by Chunky Salsa

It is important to remember that your house has to be practical and functional as well as stylish and luxurious. Above all else, your house should be a family home. There are a number of ways that you can make your home more family oriented, here are just a couple:

  • Ensure that there are family photos on display: Nobody wants to feel like an alien in their own home and achieving a sense of belonging is essential if you’re trying to create family cohesion. To make sure everyone feels at home in their own home, have family photos on display. You should be proud of your family, be sure to show them off with all the pride and prominence they deserve.
  • Don’t buy products based on style alone; make sure they have comfort value: Yes, stylish items can look beautiful but sometimes they are not practical. If you don’t buy practical items then it may discourage your family from using the room and teenagers in particular may skulk off into their own rooms rather than using the family room.
  • Create a room all the family will enjoy: Each room in your home should have something for everyone. For this reason, you cannot build the family room around the tastes of one particular family member. Remember that everyone has to feel comfortable. Yes, your room should be stylish, but it should not be off putting. Sofas and rugs are made for people to sit on- they’re not just art!
  • Centre the room around your television: Although people often do not want to admit it, most of us spend a lot of our family time in front of the television. Instead of shunning this, embrace it and make it family time. Try making your television into a home cinema so your family can sit and watch movies together. When doing this, make sure that you use your television to its full potential by adding a backlight to enhance the atmosphere. Try checking out Northern Robotic Systems for ideas.

Your family really are the most important thing in your life; and they always will be. For this reason it is important that your house is a home and is somewhere that everyone wants to be. Converting your living room into a de facto family room will help achieve this in an instant so try some of the above tips today! 


Why you should consider adding a pet to your family

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Note: this is a guest post and consideration was received for its publication. photo: CC-licensed image by Adam Yoblon

Home really is a place for all the family! No matter what the scale and size of your family, you should consider getting a pet, and here’s why:

  • Pets are loving companions: This may sound a little cliché, but a pet can be an incredibly good friend. When you get a pet they are the first person that you see on a morning and the last person you see on a night. Above all else, all a pet wants is love and attention so they will never be far away. If you’re looking for extra love and care in your life then a pet really is the answer- nobody can ignore a wagging tail a pet is almost guaranteed to make you glow.
  • They bring structure and routine to your life: If you are a workaholic then you may need to force yourself to have a break every once in a while. Pets are ideal if you want to add some extra structure in your life. In some ways, pets are similar to children and they crave structure in the exact same way. This set structure can feed into your own life and can be highly useful if you struggle with over-committing to work.
  • Some pets can be great for exercise and weight loss: If you buy a mobile animal such as a dog or a horse then they will need regular exercise. If you exercise with them by either riding them or walking them then you will be in great shape in no time. It is amazing how many calories you burn walking or riding and taking a pet with you makes the experience much more interesting and keeps you committed!  

 You should always consider what pet is right for you. Dogs and cats are still the number one pet choice in the UK but both of these take a lot of care and attention. If you’re not sure that you have the time for this then consider a pet that needs less in terms of maintenance. Fish require minimum care and attention and their tank can also make a lovely decorative feature. Consider getting a feature fish tank for your home as this can make your home look like a tropical paradise. If this sounds like an idea that you’d be interested in, then visit Fish-Fish-Fish.com for more ideas.


Building the Ultimate Garden Tool Kit

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Note: this is a guest post and consideration was received for its publication. photo: CC-licensed image by Cory Doctorow

In order to maintain a garden properly you will need the right set of tools. This post will guide you through a few garden must-haves.

The most important garden tool is undoubtedly the spade and investing in a decent one is a must. A tool known as a Mattock is used around the world but less so in the UK. It is like a spade but the blade is at a right angle to the handle. These are great for all the basic needs as well as clearing rough ground and are a great alternative to a traditional spade.

When looking for the right garden maintenance tools, the most expensive are not necessarily the best. Simply buying a high priced, ferocious looking mower will not lead to the best results. However if you team a good lawn mower with a good pair of border shears this can make all the difference. Long handled boarder sheers save bending and offer a greater level of accuracy while maintaining your lawn.

When looking for a mower you should match it to your requirements. A small lawn can be cut using either a 16 or 18 inch mower. If you have a larger lawn you should be looking at investing in a 20 to 22 inch petrol powered mower for the best results. For most lawns either petrol or electric powered will be fine but for larger lawns you should stick to petrol.

Hedge shears and secateurs are also a must have. A normal set of shears is fine but it’s worth investing in a pair that you can extend. In most cases this will eliminate the need for a ladder and help your reach those places that are just too high.   

It is also important to ensure you are using your tools as safely as possible. Whilst garden tools do not carry the obvious dangers associated with some other power tools, this does not mean they can’t cause some serious damage.

The best way to protect yourself is to ensure you have the right equipment. A pair of thick protective gloves is a must, at all times. Even the most innocent looking pair of secateurs can leave you with a nasty gash.

When using lawnmowers and strimmers obviously you’re going to need more than a pair of gloves.  Even when using these items at home it is still recommended that you wear some form of protection for the eyes and ears. The most common way of protecting the eyes is with a pull down face mask that allows you to work as normal without impairing your vision. Ear defenders are also a wise investment, especially if you’re spending a long period of time working with machinery. In the short term you may not notice the damage it could be doing to your ears, however over time you may start to notice the impact of being exposed to constant loud noises.

Whatever your passion is in terms of DIY it’s essential to ensure you have the right equipment for the job at hand. Swift Trading Industrial Tool Supplier offer a wide range of tools for both indoors and out which ensure you always get a professional finish that you can be proud of. So make the most of the weather and start building the ultimate gardening tool kit.


Choosing The Best Floor Covering

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Note: this is a guest post and consideration was received for its publication. photo: CC-licensed image by Marcelle Guilbeau

Though every aspect of a room has its own unique effect on the room’s atmosphere and décor, the floor – and what you choose to cover it with – can turn a heavy and dark room into a light and airy space that transforms the feeling of your house, or make an area that was cold and uninviting into a cosy and welcoming addition. With the array of natural and manmade materials available on the market, it’s possible to achieve almost any effect, no matter your circumstances or budget.

Carpet

Traditionally used for living rooms and bedrooms, carpet is hard to beat for sheer softness – the luxurious sinking of feet into deep pile carpet is something you might want to add warmth and cosiness to rooms used for relaxation. While carpets can be difficult to measure and lay, you can always choose carpet tiles for an easier fit – simply lay down complete tiles in the centre of the room and work outwards, cutting the edge tiles to fit. Carpet tiles also have the advantage of being easy to replace if stained or damaged – just lift up the damaged tile and set down the replacement.

Tiling

Sleek and easy to clean, tiles are an obvious choice for kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas that attract more damp and dirt than most parts of the house. However, they can feel cold and uninviting and carry with them the risk of slippage, especially when wet – although non-slip finishes are available for added safety. Choose vinyl tiles for an economical and easy-to-lay covering – vinyl is available in a wide range of patterns to suit your preferences. If your budget is a little higher, it’s hard to beat ceramic tiles for sheer durability. Alternatively, for a Mediterranean feel, go for handsome terracotta tiles for a warm and welcoming feeling.

Wood

Ideal for halls and dining rooms, wood offers a uniquely traditional feel that’s ideal for a natural ambience, especially suited for homes in the country. Depending on your circumstances and expertise, you can nail it to the floor below, glue it down with a hardwearing adhesive, or choose specially interlocking boards that can be installed with less effort.

You can choose from solid wood flooring which, as its name suggests, is made from hewn timber from a single natural source, or more economical engineered wood flooring. Engineered wood flooring, available from suppliers like the Reclaimed Flooring Company, is constructed from layers of real wood for a high quality, temperature-resistant alternative that can be almost indistinguishable from solid wood.


Screwdrivers and Drills: Essential Tools For Every Toolbox

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Note: this is a guest post and consideration was received for its publication. photo: CC-licensed image by Lachlan Donald

It pays to be prepared. Even the best organised DIY fan knows the pain of planning out a long weekend of work to put up those shelves you always wanted, finally fix the squeaky door, and give the wall a fresh lick of paint – only to discover at 6pm on a Sunday evening that vital piece of equipment you thought you had is missing, and all the shops are closed. There’s no way around it – you just have to be better prepared next time and make sure you have absolutely everything you might need ready for use. But it’s easier than you might think to be prepared for almost any construction task – simply pick up a large screwdriver set and a versatile combi hammer drill, and you’ll be prepared for almost any job.

Screwdriver Set

Whether you’re assembling flatpack furniture or just opening the battery compartment on the remote control, having the right screwdriver for the job can mean the difference between a quick disassembly and the horror of a stripped screw that will never come out. Luckily, you don’t need to purchase and store a dozen different screwdrivers to get by – a simple screwdriver set, containing a handle and an array of bits, is all you need for the majority of jobs.

Though there can be a bewildering array of screw bits available, you only need a handful to cope with almost any home DIY task. Flathead screws are still common in older constructions, while Philips and pozidrives screws are almost ubiquitous for modern DIY work. If you work with electronics or computers, it can be handy to be prepared for star-shaped Torx screws too.

Combi Hammer Drill

As the name suggests, a combi hammer drill is a versatile piece of equipment that can handle almost any DIY drilling around the house. Use them with a drill bit for wood or metal and the high torque motor punches holes effortlessly for construction projects or affixing objects to walls. Switch down to a lower torque, and they function just as effectively for taking the effort out of driving screws with the press of a button – especially ideal for tight spaces where a manual screwdriver might be awkward to turn. Plus, with a hammer function, they provide the sheer force required to drill the toughest of materials like concrete or masonry – impossible with any other type of drill. You can pick between a corded or cordless drill depending on your preferences - Anglia Tool Centre offer a range of cordless drills for freedom from dangling wires when working.


Furniture and Decoration for a Cosy Bedroom

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Note: this is a guest post and consideration was received for its publication. photo: CC-licensed image by Forrest Norvell

For many people, the bedroom is the heart of the home – after all, it’s the first place we wake up to in the morning and our destination at the end of the night. It’s no wonder, then, that we take so much time getting our bedrooms just right – a well organised, relaxing and cosy bedroom is sure to deliver us a great night’s sleep and prepare us for our busy days, year after year.

First and foremost, there’s the centrepiece of your bedroom – the bed itself. A good bed will have a mattress and frame or base that complement each other, so make sure you consider both for firmness and comfort. Consider your build and height as well – and while you might prefer a double or even kingsize bed for the sheer size, don’t forget that you’ll need space to move around the bedroom as well! Finally, don’t be too concerned about paying extra for quality – after all, the average bed is slept on for a whopping 20,000 hours over its lifespan, so it certainly pays to get the right bed first time.

A quality chest of drawers from a company like Indigo Furniture can perform double duty in your room, serving not only as a sturdy and handsome tidy for odd socks and items of clothing, but also providing a surface for decorations or ornaments, or perhaps providing the perfect spot for a music system or TV. Pick the size carefully – a tall chest of drawers will look great against a far wall, but can seem imposing and overpowering when placed next to windows and doors. Materials and finish are generally a matter of personal preference – while dark woods can provide a traditional feeling of cosiness that light wood can lack, too much dark wood can make your bedroom feel confined and gloomy. If you do go for dark wood, why not brighten things up with a floor-standing lamp placed nearby?

Finally, you might be used to having a TV set in your bedroom – but is it really necessary? Studies suggest a myriad of problems can be caused by having a TV in your bedroom, including simply staying up too late while watching TV or suffering from disrupted sleep cycles due to the presence of a bright light just as you’re getting ready to sleep. That goes for distractions like laptops and work too. Try and keep your bedroom exactly what it sounds – a room for going to bed – and you’ll find yourself sleeping a better night’s sleep and finding yourself more refreshed in the morning.


Make this the year that you improve your garden

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Note: this is a guest post and consideration was received for its publication. photo: CC-licensed image by Markles55

This year we have been blessed with gorgeous weather and forecasters predict that there is much more to come! Due to this, now is the time to make those garden improvements that you’ve been considering for so long. Here are some great ideas on how you can make your garden look as stylish and artistic as the inside of your home.

  1. Consider landscaping: If your garden has slopes or inclines then it will be very hard to maintain. As well as this, any unevenness can also affect functionality and style. For this reason, you should consider landscaping your home and garden as this will give you a greater range of options and alternatives.
  2. Plant a lush lawn: A lawn or grassed area can enhance any garden or outdoors area. Grass provides you with almost limitless options and looks simply stunning if it is well maintained. However, if you do not have the time to look after a lawn and want the same great look then consider artificial turf. This provides the same great look while also adding greater functionality. Try checking out Great Grass MCR Limited to see exactly what options are out there.
  3. Build feature flower beds: Consider using flowers to add style and substance to your garden. The main advantage of flowers is that they can make your garden look radiant at any time of year. For this reason, consider buying perennial flowers as these can make your garden sparkle all year round.
  4. Add paving: Paving can add functionality to your garden. As well as being easy to maintain, you can use paving to make your garden more accessible and family friendly. Paving can still look beautiful and good quality paving will last a lifetime, so it is well worth the investment.

There are literally thousands of ways that you can improve your garden and these barely scratch the surface. Don’t be afraid to plan and experiment as you can change your mind at any time. The most important things to consider, however, are space and time. There is no point committing to something that you either do not have the space for or the time free to keep up with. If you don’t have the space or time then your garden may look shabby and untidy and this will achieve the exact opposite of what you were trying to achieve.


Taking Care of Your Kitchen

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Note: this is a guest post and consideration was received for its publication. photo: CC-licensed image by Steve Bennett Builders

Culinary TV titans like Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsey have not only transformed the way we think about food - they’ve transformed the places we cook and prepare meals. When chefs let TV cameras into their home kitchens, they show a tantalising glimpse of a culinary world where surfaces are spotless, where the equipment is professional-grade, and where everything – from a top quality blender to a good old-fashioned heavy saucepan – has its place, precisely located for effortless access whenever the recipe calls for it. These days, a kitchen is more than just a place to cook – it can be the heart of a home and a chance to make a statement, a physical expression of style and décor that will wow visitors and make every meal a masterpiece.

But a good kitchen doesn’t look after itself – even the most stylish and sleek kitchens will soon fall into disrepair if not properly looked after.

First of all, if you’re planning on installing a new kitchen soon, make sure you pick the highest quality materials and finishes that your budget will stretch to. A supplier like Better Kitchens can install quality vinyl, timber or gloss doors that will better withstand stains and scratches on the surface finish. Even the small things – like choosing sturdy soft close drawers or hinges over lower quality alternatives – can give an extra layer of durability that will keep your kitchen looking great for years to come.

Next, make sure to look after the worktops. Even the best quality timber won’t retain its shine forever – it’s essential to seal the surfaces and ends with oil to not only retain the colour and grain, but also to keep it in good condition for food preparation. A good tip is to add a few drops of water to the surface – if it spreads out instead of forming neat droplets, it’s time to re-oil the surface.

Look in the cupboards for old or spoiled food. Damaged packaging can lead to crumbs – which leads to kitchen pests. Be sure to wipe down cupboard shelves at least once a month to prevent any unexpected visitors.

Most surfaces, from worktops to doors, can be best cleaned with a little soap and water, wiping with a soft cloth. Don’t give spills or stains time to sink in – clean them immediately to avoid permanent staining of your surfaces, and clean as you go to reduce arduous clean-up work straight after your meal. While chemical kitchen cleaning products can help enormously on stubborn stains, be extremely careful not to use powerful cleaners on sensitive surfaces as this can irreparably damage the finish.


Quick Fixes for Decorating

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Note: this is a guest post and consideration was received for its publication. photo: CC-licensed image by Cameron Parkins

Most of us have incredibly busy lifestyles, and the last thing we feel like doing after a week at work is doing odd jobs around the house at the weekend. It’s a fact of life that sometimes decorating needs to be done though, so for those wanting to spend as little time as possible updating their home’s décor, we have some top tips.

Kitchen

Rather than re-designing your whole kitchen, making simple changes to the design you already have is a quick and affordable way of updating the room. Painting your kitchen cabinets is perhaps the cheapest option and can instantly transform your kitchen; however, it might take a little more time than you’re willing to give up. Simply replacing the wooden panels on a few of the cabinet doors with glass is a good way to modernise the room and will give you a place to display your favourite tableware.

Dining Room

Replacing dining chairs with wooden benches creates a relaxed and sociable atmosphere around the table, encouraging your family to spend more time together. It also looks super stylish and will bring your dining room right up to date. If you’re handy, you could build some yourself quite easily, but many stores sell basic benches fairly cheaply. Whatever you decide, you can blend them in with the décor of the room by adding scatter cushions or you could even upholster some old sofa cushions to place on top. 

Bedroom

If your bedroom furniture is in desperate need of replacement but you don’t have time to shop around for matching pieces from different stores, don’t worry. You could look into purchasing a furniture set; they’re good value for money and can often be cheaper than buying individual items. You’ll find lots of online retailers like David Phillips selling furniture sets, so compare prices and styles before settling on your chosen one.

Living Room

Living room furniture is often expensive, but the good news is there are plenty of ways to update your décor whilst holding onto your sofa and coffee table. A simple lick of paint in an unexpected colour can add a new lease of life to the room with minimal effort, or just adding a pop of colour with accessories like lampshades, rugs and photo frames will help establish a fresh new theme. Something as simple as a few new covers for your scatter cushions is another simple yet effective idea that won’t take up any of your time.


Top Tips for Maintaining Your Swimming Pool

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Note: this is a guest post and consideration was received for its publication. photo: CC-licensed image of a backyard pool by Gail Frederick

It’s likely that investing in a pool for your back garden cost you a lot of money. It’s therefore crucial that you’re aware of the steps you need to take to maintain it in order to prolong its lifespan. Pool maintenance can cost a lot of money if you pay someone to do it for you, and whilst it’s a good idea to leave it to the professionals, here are some tips for keeping your pool in the best condition possible in between visits from the maintenance guy.

Debris

Clearing debris from the surface of your pool will keep it looking presentable, and the daily clearing of debris will ensure no floating bugs ever sink to the bottom where they’re more difficult to reach. A swimming pool brush with a long handle will ensure you can walk safely around the pool whilst reaching debris in the centre. Make sure you buy one according to the size of your pool; you don’t want to overreach and topple in!

Check the pH

Regularly checking the pH levels of your swimming pool will allow you to identify any problem before algae begins to attack. Algae can contain harmful bacteria such as E. coli, so it’s really important that you don’t give it the chance to grow in your pool. Your swimming pool’s pH levels should be between 7.6 and 7.8, as otherwise chlorine won’t work as efficiently at keeping algae growth at bay. 

Protect the tiles

The tiles surrounding your pool will need to be protected from chlorine spray, grime and lime scale or you’ll be left with sparkling water surrounded by dirty tiles. You can apply a protective coating like the ones from Barrier Components to any ceramic tiles or grouting around your pool area to ensure it looks as well maintained as the water itself. 

Maintain chlorine levels

Chlorine prevents organic matter from developing in your swimming pool, so it’s important to maintain your chlorine level and ensure it sits between 1 – 3 ppm. Chlorine needs to be added gradually to a pool and should never be dumped in bulk, so floating and automatic chlorine filters are the simplest way to make sure you’re doing it correctly. 

Cut back foliage

If you have any trees or large plants that hang above your pool, considering cutting them back to avoid too much debris falling into the water. It’ll save you time on clearing it all out and keep your pool cleaner for longer.


Four Ways to Make Your Bedroom Feel Cosier

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Note: this is a guest post and consideration was received for its publication. photo: CC-licensed image by Tracie Lee

As the colder months approach, you might want to consider making your bedroom feel a little cosier, so here are some ideas for switching things up to get ready for autumn and winter…

Invest in new carpets or rugs

There’s nothing worse than stepping onto cold, wooden flooring on an early winter’s morning. Investing in a plush, fluffy new carpet will feel luxurious underfoot and will help make the bedroom feel cosier as a whole. If you can’t afford to carpet the whole of your bedroom, then a few rugs should do the trick. Try to pick one made out of a soft, cosy material; the thicker and more plush it is, the better. 

Stock up on candles

There’s nothing cosier than candle light, so having a stash of your favourite scented candles ready for those cold winter evenings is a good idea. Lavender and other calming scents work well in the bedroom as they can help you wind down and relax before dropping off to sleep. Have a few burning around the room if you’re in bed reading, and if you’re lucky enough to have an open fire in the room, be sure to light it.

Replace your bedding

Swapping your light summer duvet for a thicker one will ensure you’re always kept toasty on the colder winter nights. A throw or blanket and some scatter cushions in soft fabrics will also help to make the room feel cosier, as well as keeping it looking great.  If your mattress is feeling a little old and tired, then you should probably invest in a new one for winter. Muscles are more likely to stiffen up when your body’s cold, so you need a mattress that isn’t going to cause you any aches and pains. If you think you might need a new one, make sure you get the best deal available as mattresses can be expensive. Start by visiting local retailers and then look online on websites like And So to Bed to compare prices.

Decorate with family photos

There’s something cosy and homely about having photos of your nearest and dearest dotted around your room. Have prints made of your favourite photographs and go shopping for some decorative picture frames to house them in. You could hang them on the walls or have some standing on your bedside table. Alternatively, for a more personal touch, you could even create a collage.


space for a free-standing bath

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Note: this is a guest post and consideration was received for its publication. photo: CC-licensed image of a freestanding tub by Erica Nicol

I was never aware really, until I had my bathroom renovated (by some really good natural stone tillers) that free standing baths had become one of the most sought after choices for bathrooms on large new builds. Free standing baths are a feature unto themselves; an expensive and practical bathroom ornament that is elegant, bold and lavish enough to create an instant wow factor to anyone who visits. As you know, a freestanding bath is not directly fixed to the wall like most units. This is not to say it’s able to move however – they are plumbed in underneath and through the floor which is why they are so heavy and durable because: If they weren’t made of heavy solid composite – you’d catch it with your hip going past and rip out the plumbing – we wouldn’t want that now? However this said, it may have prevented just a little bruising from my unobservant self. 

Have you ever tried lifting a freestanding bath? Don’t! Simply put, if you’ve splashed out and spent the money – get the delivery guys to take this upstairs to the bathroom. They’ll argue that it’s not in their remit no doubt…and who can blame them? Lifting these are a pain! But worth the effort!

What Bathrooms Space is Needed?

It has to be said that free standing baths look their best in larger bathroom environments. They are the juggernaught of the bath tub world. You wouldn’t stick an Elephant in a Kennel now would you? Let’s face it, if you have a small bathroom and you simply can’t go without – I suggest knock through a wall or two, move house or just don’t bother. Small bathrooms have practical layouts for practical units for practical reasons. A free stander would literally be the next large Russian doll in the room and you’d be crying for space! Generally you’d want other free standing units to accompany this furniture too such as these free standing bathroom cabinets or sinks for example perhaps? Free standing bath units are absolute luxury because of their individual designs and way they cup yours (and whoever else’s – they’re great to share!) body. I reiterate, just make sure you have the space!


Planning on Decorating a Bathroom? Complement the Bold with the Bright!

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Note: this is a guest post and consideration was received for its publication. photo: CC-licensed image of a backyard pond by Summit Design Remodeling

Whilst both the style and colour are generally personal matters relating to the taste of the individual, like graphic designers know not to mix their warm and cold shades when producing packaging for print of product design – there are a few key take-aways that can assist as a guideline to getting the right look! 

If you’re looking for something extravagant you may wish to think again about installing bathroom furniture with overly exaggerated features or facets. The same goes for selecting exotic and unusual colours. The reasons being is that colours go out of fashion fast, and whilst it’s fab for a few months to have that crazy bright contrast – as time goes on these kind of creative design ideas can become a grate on your personal space. It’s not just this aspect that you need to be aware of though. Colours and designs go out of fashion based on the manufacturers consumer demand. That crazy design might be discontinued next year meaning that if anything goes wrong or gets damaged – replacement parts will be a rarity and extremely hard / expensive to get hold of. Whilst I’m a big fan of buying and installing bathroom and cloak room suites, often it can be just as practical to purchase individual units. It may seem boring and cliché, but depending on your circumstances, the fact is, standard white finishes on bathroom products are practical because they’re so easy to replace!

I want to talk about decorating wheels and charts for a moment, I feel that I can offer a bit of advice here. Whilst you may plan for LED strip lighting under the bathroom cabinets or inside the cloakroom I advise that you definitely consider the bare colour scheme under natural lighting conditions, and really take into account the areas and walls that natural light splashes it’s lumens across at particular times of day. You obviously don’t want the bathroom to appear too dank, dark, cold or claustrophobic – so if there’s not much outside light within a tightly enclosed space then I’d definitely suggest going with a pale warm colour scheme. An alternative to this would be to create the illusion of these bright conditions with the standard white bathroom fixtures (especially if it’s a suite). This allows you to add contrast to the rest of the room’s colour scheme allowing you to play more with bolder complementary colors.


Simple Summery Updates for Your Garden

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Note: this is a guest post and consideration was received for its publication. photo: CC-licensed image of a freestanding tub by Angela Sevin

Now that summer has finally rolled around, many of us are scrambling to get out into our gardens. When we get out there, however, we find that things aren’t quite as nice as we remember them. Luckily, updating your garden is simple, easy and quick to do, so can enjoy your garden to the fullest.

The Plants

Colour - Annual plants inject a pop of colour and elegance to your garden. Choose your favourite colours to liven up the evergreen, the borders or dotted around in plant pots.  You could have begonias, petunias, geraniums, snapdragons as well as a whole host of other plants to brighten up your garden.

Climbers – Climbing plants offer a more immersive feel to your garden; with plants on the walls or fencing it makes for a lusher, cosier experience. Morning Glories grow quickly and easily so you’ll have a plant-covered wall in no time.

Layers – Layering plants so that they are in height order gives your garden depth and adds interest. Think about how the different plants will work together.

Cacti – You might even be brave enough to add a few cacti to your garden. Keep them in pots so you can bring them in when it gets cold again, but they make interesting centrepieces for the patio table, for instance.

 Bringing the Inside Out

Lighting – If you’re lacking ambient light in your garden for those warm summer nights, then candles are the best option. Contained in pretty tea light holders, a candle will make your garden feel relaxed.

Art/Mirrors – The addition of art and mirrors will add a bohemian atmosphere to your garden. A mirror will also make your garden look a lot bigger, but it will only really look like it’s supposed to be there if it is big and ornate. A garden sculpture creates a focal point so if you don’t have time to update your whole garden then it is a great way of detracting attention away from certain areas.

Garden Furniture – A new set of dining table and chairs, or something comfortable to lie on makes a whole world of difference to your overall garden and your enjoyment of it.

Soft Furnishings – The British weather and soft furnishings don’t often go together, but all it takes is a watertight box to store them in and you can keep rugs, floor cushions and blankets in the shed or garage. The addition of soft furnishings to any garden makes it more habitable and inviting.

The Basics  

Borders – If you simply want to neaten up your garden, then adding border edging will help stop weeds getting in with your flowers. It will also make your garden look a lot smarter.

Mulch – Mulch is a bit of wonder product when it comes to gardening. It helps block sunlight to the ground below so that weeds can’t grow, helps retain water and gives your garden a professional look.

Fencing – The fencing of your garden makes a huge impact on the way it looks. Well maintained fencing looks fresh and neat, but old or rotting fencing can make the entire garden look neglected. You can buy fencing direct or you could even make your own. Make sure that your replacement fence complements the rest of your garden’s style.


Making the Most of Your Summer Garden

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Note: this is a guest post and consideration was received for its publication. photo: CC-licensed image of a backyard garden by Carl Wycoff

Keeping on top of your garden is no easy feat. With summer finally upon us, it’s now a definite venue to amp up your hosting skills and move the socialising into the great outdoors. With the bushes and shrubbery to be pruned, floral accents at their most colourful and weeds to be kept on top of, there is a seemingly endless list of garden chores to check off.

With the plants and flowers taking up your time, there are a few simple ways to get the most out of your outdoor space this summer; minimal effort, but maximum impact.

Choose low maintenance flowers

Most flowers will only bloom for a couple of seasons, so pick ones that will be ready for summer and plant a couple of months early to prepare. Your garden will be spotted with colour and will only require watering and very occasional pruning to keep them in shape.

Utilise your space

The garden isn’t only for your plants and flowers. Shackletons has a great range of garden accessories and storage solutions to keep it stylish. Use subtle boxes and hampers to hide away garden equipment and unused perishable accessories like rusting metal and sofa cushions.

Bring in the entertainment factor

Dinner parties don’t need to be relegated to the house. Weather permitting; bring them outdoors where they can last long into the evening under the stars. The Shackletons range makes dinner maintenance easy and post meal relaxation appealing with comfy cushioned chairs and sofas. You just need to add the food & drink for the perfect excuse to get outdoors.

See the light

Install subtle lighting around your entertainment area. An easy method is to plant solar lights in the surrounding garden areas for low maintenance power and soft lighting into the night. Not only will this create a great atmosphere, but it’s an easy way to encourage guests to stay outside once the sun begins to set.

Merge the barbecue with indoor cooking

Long summer evenings are the perfect opportunity to make use of the barbecue, but that doesn’t mean your in house oven needs to go unused. Prioritise meats and vegetables on the barbecue to give a chargrilled taste. For cooked salads, side dishes and added extras, use your indoor appliances to make room on the barbecue. Browse easy barbecue to table serving options on Shackletons to make your hosting duty a breeze.

Weather proof

Once the party clean up is over, invest in some garden furniture covers for any unpredicted weather changes. They needn’t be too expensive or a design feature. Focus on function and get weather proof covers to prevent them blowing off and safe guard them from water and dew where appropriate.

Simple tips with optional extras to give your garden a little more personality and make it your own, just add the guests. The list is pretty much endless on how to improve the space you have. No matter what the size there are plenty of entertainment opportunities, natural colour to be added and a high or low maintenance approach depending on your garden personality. Make the most of the summer - long nights and warmer weather means you have just doubled your hosting space and there is the potential to make it amazing.