Make your garden fit for a jungle queen – create your own tropical paradise

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With our weather forecasts being so up and down lately – it can be difficult to hold onto that Summer feeling all Summer long! Many of us jump on an airplane in search of sunnier climates and our well-earned break away from it all. But have you ever thought about bringing the holiday to you?

If your garden space is looking a little lacklustre or you want to bring a little of the tropics into your own backyard, then read on for tips on how to create your very own tropical paradise.

What to plant

Your main objective is to recreate a tropical paradise that you can enjoy all year round. Even if the weather looks out of place! To do this, you’re going to need to plant the right flowers, grasses, shrubs and trees. You can make a start with palm trees from The Tree Center. To give your tropical garden a more authentic look, remember that density is key. In a traditional garden, we like to have space around our plants and shrubs; those rules don’t apply here!

Choose plants that will give a variation of heights and depths. That includes towering palms, and ground covering plants. Try to have a good variation of leaf shapes and colours too. Once you have decided on your garden design and what will go where, make sure everything is planted in Springtime so that their roots have chance to set in!

Maintenance

Having a tropical garden is going to take a lot of love and care. So, bare this in mind before you begin. During the winter months, bring in the plants that are sensitive to the lower temperatures and for those that are too large you’ll need to invest in some horticultural fleeces to protect them from the elements.

Lighting

Lighting is key when it comes to any garden setting. So, your tropical paradise should be no different. Tiki lights are the obvious choice! They’ll look great dotted around the garden or at places of interest like the BBQ or seating area. If flames aren’t your thing, then stick with solar powered lights instead. These twinkling away amongst the shrubbery will give your tropical garden a magical feel.

A soothing soundtrack

No tropical paradise would be complete without some kind of water feature, right? A cascading waterfall might be a little ambitious for your back yard, but a small pond fed with a miniature waterfall would not only look great but will provide the perfect background sound.

Residents

If you’re creating a pond or water feature, why not make it a habitat too? Koi fish would be the perfect addition to any tropical garden pond, they’ll give the place a little entertainment too!

A fire pit

The perfect place to sit, chat, relax and top up those drinks after an afternoon of BBQ with friends and family. Make sure you find a place that’s safe and spacious enough to accommodate your fire pit. Place a couple of benches around it and voila!

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Penthouse Fit for any Fashionista

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It isn’t very often that a penthouse apartment in the middle of Mayfair becomes available. Nor the apartment of a beloved global fashion designer. When both of these combine, then you know you have something special on your hands.

The former penthouse of Alexander McQueen, CBE and four time British designer of the year is currently on sale in London’s lavish Mayfair for a cool £6 million. Now I’m sure most of us could simply use the change we find down the back of the sofa to pay for this… but there are people who unfortunately aren’t so lucky. This doesn’t mean however that we can’t have the opportunity to enjoy the views and charms of this property.

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The penthouse is a duplex, set across two floors, with the top floor leading out onto a 700sq.ft rooftop terrace. If this hasn’t made you want it already I don’t know what will, especially when you consider the glorious summer weather we are enjoying! Inside through the French windows, there is a humongous dining room that joins onto the large terrace before leading down a spiral staircase onto the lower floor. An open fire and state of the art entertainment systems provide a great area for entertaining in the reception room while the bespoke kitchen with breakfast bar and wine cooler that will make you not want to cook for fear of making a mess. Wine doesn’t have to go in the food anyway!

The focus of the home is the corridor that has been turned into a catwalk that spreads the entire width of the apartment. Flanked by mirrors and portraits of McQueen himself the area has become a homage to the opulent style and flamboyant nature of the shows he curated during his lifetime. The ensuite bedrooms include vast walk in wardrobes with plenty of space to perfect an inspiring outfit before an evening in London’s top restaurants.

Located in Dunraven Street, very close to the Mayfair Estate Agents selling the property, it benefits from the calm oasis that certain areas of Mayfair can provide and is only a 3 minute walk from Hyde Park. With historic connections to the Royal Family and fashion royalty, this property is sure to turn heads on the market.

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Adding Personality To A Blank Canvas Home

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Getting your first home is a massive deal. And for a lot of us, practical considerations have to come before ideal features when getting on to the property ladder. More and more of us are getting our start in life in a new-build – and that brings many benefits, from less maintenance to strong financing deals. There’s only one consideration – and that’s that a lot of new build flats and houses can be a bit featureless. Built en masse and with designs shaped more by accountants and architects, most new built homes are lacking in the depth and personality enjoyed by older buildings. The good news is, there are plenty of ways that you can inject a little bit of life back into these blank canvas homes…

Know Your Style

First off, take the time to understand what your taste is when it comes to interiors. Don’t just rely on decorating magazines to tell you what the latest trends are, and dictate what you should want. Be proactive in seeking out your personal taste. Use an app like Polyvore to create interior mood boards, featuring pictures that inspire you, colours and textures you like, and images of furniture styles. You don’t have to rush into a decision – take your time to get to know the space and understand how you use it before committing to one scheme. Although you can style each room slightly differently, try to stick to tones within the same colour palette. This will tie the spaces together and give a sense of harmony to your home. And rather than impulse buying items for the home, always refer back to your mood board before making a purchase to create a cohesive look where everything sits together well.

Liven It Up

Even if your background colours are neutrals, you can liven up the scheme by layering in colour and pattern. Check out Graham and Brown for some beautiful, bold designs that manage to be both timeless and very contemporary at the same time. Adding just a little touch is really enough, and means that it doesn’t have to cost the earth. Patterned throws and rugs can also add extra dimension and texture, giving sparkle to a more minimal room.

Select a Statement Piece

Choosing a bold focal point for a room can really add impact. Whether it be a statement cluster light or some interesting furniture, the right choice can completely change a room. Check out Old Charm Furniture for some great pieces. The right chair placed in a corner, a beautiful lamp or just the right side table can do a lot to make your space less generic. You just need a handful of out of the ordinary items that do the heavy-lifting design wise.  

Add In Artwork

What you choose to hang on the walls can do a lot to steer your decorating scheme away from ‘vanilla’. A single large, bold print or a collection of framed images grouped together can be transformative. Link different pictures together with a shared colour scheme or thematic influence. In no time at all, you’ll have a beautiful space!

There’s No Such Thing As Perfect Hair…

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Contrary to what you might think when looking at style magazines, your favorite actors and celebrities, and pictures of supermodels on billboards, no one has perfect hair. We all have at least a couple of issues with our hair that we would love to sort out, and that goes for everyone from the Hollywood star to the stay-at-home mom with six kids. It’s how we deal with those problems that counts. Here are a few of the most common hair problems that more people have than you might think – and some suggestions on how to overcome them.

Dry hair

When you spend half your life trying to keep your hair looking clean and lustrous, it’s going to leave a mark. The reality is if you shampoo too often with the wrong type of products, you will strip your hair and scalp of its natural oils, resulting in dryness and dullness. The solution? Stop washing daily, and find a suitable shampoo with a pH number somewhere between 5 and 6. You only need to wash your hair three times a week, to allow your oil glands to stimulate themselves – and the occasional overnight moisturizer and hot oil treatment will help you defeat your dry hair problems.

Oily/greasy hair

People with oily and greasy hair have an overproducing oil gland, which pumps way too much sebum from the sebaceous glands. If you have dank and oily hair, it can be difficult to keep your hair looking clean and lustrous, so try some formulated shampoo that targets sebum production, and you will find things will settle down.

Thin hair

Some people have thin hair thanks to their genetics, while others might lose it during times of stress, hormonal changes, or illness. Either way, when you have thin or thinning hair, it can be incredibly difficult to try out different styles and looks. There are a few solutions. In the short-term, why not look around for some of the best hair extensions for people with thinning hair? Then it’s a case of using specialized hair loss shampoo that adds nutrition and cleans up to the residues that can often cause female hair loss. You should also avoid using heated hair products – including hot hair dryers – which can worsen your hair loss.

Frizzy hair

Frizzy hair can be a nightmare to control, style, and care for – but it’s far from impossible once you understand what products you need to use. Frizzy hair happens when your hair lacks moisture, and some people are born with it. Let’s be clear – frizzy hair isn’t always a problem – and can look incredible. But if you are looking for ways to tame your unruly frizzes, make sure you talk to your stylist about getting hair products specifically for your hair type. There are mild relaxing serums available, for instance, which will help flatten things out for a night out.

Gray hair

Finally, you can’t stop the passing of time. And while gray hair is something to be embraced – we like to call it silver – it can often be more brittle and unruly than younger, full-colored hair. Avoid using permanent dyes, as they tend to cause more problems than they are worth. Instead, stick to softer, semi or demi-permanent dyes.

Feeling Your Best: Budget Busting Ways To Do It

Let’s face it, we all want to look and feel our best, don’t we? However, some would think that to look our best we need to spend and invest in our appearance, but often this isn’t the case at all. There are ways that you can look your best without the need for a brand new wardrobe or spending copious amounts of money on the latest beauty trends. I wanted to share with you some of the budget busting ways you can do it.

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It’s not about the clothes but what is underneath

Sometimes when it comes to the clothes you wear, they can often not look as good as you imagine them when they are on the hanger, or on the model when they are being advertised. This scenario is true for many people, but the issue isn’t necessarily the clothing and more to do with what you are wearing underneath. Having the right underwear that is fitted correctly can really make the difference. While you may not want to spend a lot of money you can pick up some cheap bras online easily enough, just make sure you get your sizing right so that they fit your perfectly. Being held in all the right places means that clothing will fit your body shape better.

Makeup and hair can drastically change your appearance

Sometime sit isn’t just about the clothes that you wear and more about how you present yourself. You could be in a plain white t-shirt and ripped jeans but if your hair looks fabulous and your makeup is on point then you will look amazing. Take the time to work on things like your hair and makeup, it doesn’t take much investment but it can make all of the difference to your overall appearance.

Wearing the right colours for your skin tone

Could you be wearing the right colours for your skin tone? The truth is, whether we love a colour or not, if it doesn’t suit our skin tone then it can have the opposition effect that we are hoping to achieve. This is when researching the best colours that suit you can really enhance your features. Warmer or cooler tones suit different people, so a little research online could help you find the right ones for you.

Having a capsule wardrobe

Finally, too much choice in your wardrobe can cause you dramas and actually have you reaching for the same outfit instead of trying new combinations. This is when a capsule wardrobe can really help. It gives you limited choice for items that can easily be mixed and matched together. It can then give you the creativity to try and recreate different outfits. Whether you match bold colours with textures, or go with simple combinations a capsule wardrobe can help you rediscover your style, and it is much cheaper than buying into the latest trends every week.

I hope that these tips help you to feel your best even when you are on a budget.

Essential Considerations Homeowners Need to Keep in Mind

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Owning a home is a big step in your life, and one of the most important things you are ever likely to do. Being in a position to own your own property is something that really sets you up well for the future and allows you to look after your family moving forward. Not everyone is lucky enough to be in a position in life where they actually get to become a homeowner, and this why it’s so important.

If you are ever likely to get to that position, you need to make sure you think about what matters. All homeowners need to take measures to look after their home and ensure they preserve their asset for the future. There are plenty of essentials that homeowners need to think about, both for the present and for the future. If you are a homeowner, it’s likely you will have these things on your mind.

Are You Planning to Sell Any Time Soon?

Think about what the long-term future of your home is likely to be. Did you buy it with the intention of selling somewhere down the line? As an investment home, is it in a good position to sell, and what sort of time frame did you put on it? With this in mind, you also have to understand what the market is doing as well. If the housing market is bad, it may not be the right time to sell, and this is something to keep in mind when making your decision. Keep an eye on what the market is doing because this can have a huge impact on what happens to your home.

You Need to Meet Mortgage Payments Every Month

Every month you are going to need to pay a minimum amount toward your mortgage. This is something that needs to be done without fail every single month. Failure to meet mortgage payments will result in the house being repossessed, and your credit rating will be shot. You need to keep this in mind when you first consider buying a home, and you can use a home loan calculator to determine how much you will need to pay each month based on the amount of money you loan, and the repayment terms. Keeping a handle on this is so important because it will help you keep your home and ensure you don’t fall into financial difficulty.

Renovations are Key

Renovations play a massive role in the life of any homeowner. They are essential for the upkeep of the property, and can also go a long way toward making the home better as well. There are lots of different home renovations that might be necessary in order to improve the home. You should learn some basic DIY skills and help you make repairs and renovations in the home on a much simpler basis. These are sometimes a practical necessity, but other times they are simply a case of making the property more aesthetically pleasing.

Extending Could Add Value

The favorite buzzword for so many homeowners these days is – extension. If you can extend your home, you will be well-placed to enjoy the added space and value this brings with it. So, you need to think about the best way of enjoying a successful and stress-free extension. Consider what is involved in making an extension, and how you can go about adding more value to the property. A lot of people like to go conservatories or orangeries as a way of adding good value. But, if you have the option, a loft conversion is definitely a fantastic choice for extending the home in the best possible way.

You Need a Top Security System

Home security is regularly something all of us take for granted, and this is sometimes a bit of a problem. We just naturally assume that our homes are protected and looked after and that this will happen by default, but that’s not the case. Instead, we need to think about what we can do to make the home safer and more secure. This means perhaps looking at the locks you currently have, as well as things like double glazing as well. You also need to look at getting a top security system fitted for the home because this will ensure extra security and protection for you and your family moving forward.

Make Sure Your Home is Healthier

A healthy home is a happy home, and this is something homeowners need to keep in mind. See, the fact of the matter is that we can all do a lot more to make our homes healthier and protect the environment as a result. Turning your home into an eco-friendly haven is actually much more doable than you might think these days. That is why you need to make sure you look for as many ways as possible of going greener. Your home can become healthier with a few changes, such as a focus on recycling, and the addition of some plants. Every little helps when it comes time to look after the environment.

What Should You Do With That Spare Room?

Having a spare room in your property presents a wealth of opportunity for moving forward and improving both life and home at the same time. Now, there are a lot of things you might consider doing with your spare room these days, it’s entirely up to you. Among the best options might be to turn it into a home gym, make it your office, or even rent it out to a lodger. A spare room offers all kinds of opportunity, and this is something that counts for a lot when exploring your opportunities as a homeowner.

As you can see, these are just a few of the essential things that homeowners need to think about on a daily basis. There is a lot involved in running and maintaining a home, and there are a lot of things that can affect your home and your life. These are considerations that play a big role in the way the business works, and it’s important to be sure that you are caring for the property as much as possible.

5 Ways To Turn Your Kitchen Into A Social Space

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Not so long ago, the kitchen used to be a place where meals were prepared, and that was pretty much it. However, more recently it’s purposed has evolved into one that’s more social, and it’s become somewhere that families like to gather in the morning, have dinner in the evening, and entertain guests. Of course, there are still those that would rather skip breakfast and eat other meals in front of the TV, but these people are few and far between. If you want your kitchen to become more of a social space, then here are five things that you can do.

  1. Enhance The Natural Light

No one wants to spend time in a dark room. You feel claustrophobic and uncomfortable, and, of course, can’t see where anything is. Because of this, you need to make your kitchen feel as bright and light as you can. A great place to start is by opening your blinds and letting the sun shine through the windows. You should also consider incorporating lighter colours into the room, as these reflect light and make the room seem brighter.

  1. Add A Dining Area

Rather than have a separate room for your dining area, you should add one to your kitchen. This way, guests and other family members have somewhere to sit while you’re cooking or cleaning, so you can keep up a conversation with them, even when you’re doing something else. You may think that your kitchen is small, but you’d be surprised at just how many people you can accommodate if you plan the room right.

  1. Build Yourself A Bar

You may not have space in your kitchen for a dining table, but you may have room for a breakfast bar and some modern bar furniture. This way your family and guests still have somewhere to sit, so there’s no excuse not to chat to you while you’re hard at work. If you already have a kitchen island, this could easily serve as a breakfast bar, which means that you wouldn’t have to take up any extra space.

  1. Include A TV

Whether you like it or not, a television can really make or break a social space. After all, your kids aren’t going to want to sit in the kitchen with you, if their favourite cartoon is on in the living room. Because of this, you might want to consider including a TV in your kitchen, and maybe add a comfortable sofa too. This also benefits you, as it means that you don’t have to miss out on any good shows either.

  1. Go For An Open Plan

If you’re already considering adding a dining and lounge area to your kitchen, then why not go all out and create an open plan. Of course, it will require some planning and money, but removing the walls between the rooms downstairs can really open up the space. This will also mean that you don’t have to try to cram too much into one room. An open plan is great for families, as you can all do your own thing in your own areas, while still being able to chat with one another.

If you want to transform your kitchen into a social space, then the advice above should help you out.