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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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!

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.

Creating A Luxurious Bathroom

You do not need to spend a lot of money in order to create a luxurious feel in your bathroom. There are various ways that you can make your bathroom look expensive without splashing your cash. With that in mind, read on to discover some of the best ways to create a luxurious feel in your bathroom.

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Accessorise carefully

To create a lavish and opulent feel in any room, you need to accessorise with care. It is the finer details that matter when creating an expensive vibe. Luxury bathroom mirrors are a good place to start when looking for the perfect glamorous accessories. Not only can you get mirrors in some of the most stunning designs today, but a large bathroom mirror will lighten up a small bathroom making it appear bigger and much more luxurious.

Get rid of clutter

One of the most important things you need to do when attempting to create a luxurious bathroom is get rid of clutter. After all, there is nothing luxurious about having shampoo bottles and magazines spread across your bathroom. You should make sure that all of your products are neatly tucked away in your bathroom cabinet. If you cannot find a place for something, then it needs to be thrown into the bin or rehomed.

Bring the outdoors in

The most expensive bathrooms make sure to include the outdoors as a design element. There are a number of different ways that you can do this. Of course, the most obvious way of bringing the outdoors in is to invest in a house plant for your bathroom. Not only will this look beautiful, but it will be soothing and it will boost the air flow in the bathroom as well. You can also invest in artwork that depicts plants as well. This approach is not only elegant and luxurious but it will give your bathroom Feng Shui benefits too.

Add some little touches

You should add some small touches to your bathroom to create a comfortable and lavish vibe. For example, you could invest in a plush bathrobe and some comfortable slippers and hang them on the back of the bathroom door so that you can get snug and cosy as soon as you get out of the shower. Another little lavish accessory that will only cost you a few pounds is a bathtub tray, which is great for placing your book and a glass of wine on while you’re soaking in the tub.

Choose a simple colour palette

The final thing you need to do is make sure you select a simple colour palette. Neutral colour palettes work best in bathrooms because they have a relaxing and serene feel to them. They create that desired spa vibe that you are hoping to achieve. This does not mean that your bathroom has to be boring, though, as you can play around with different textures to create that five-star, high-end feel.

As you can see, it does not require a lot of energy or money in order to create a luxurious bathroom!

Turning Your Home Into an Eco-Friendly Haven

Thanks to advances in research and technology, recent years have seen us become much more aware of how our lifestyles are negatively affecting the planet and the environment around us. Our irresponsible habits are causing all sorts of destruction on a global scale, from damage to the ozone layer to melting ice caps, deforestation, and oceanic pollution… the list seems never-ending. But when you’re aware of problem, you can take active steps to rectify it. So, why not start with our very own homes? There are various ways that you can lend the planet a helping hand through home design and maintenance alone! So, here are a few ideas to get you started on the right foot!

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Switching to Renewable Energy

Most properties are heavily reliant on the use of fossil fuels for energy, working mostly through the use of gas. But we’re all well aware that this isn’t a sustainable source of fuel and is having extremely detrimental effects on our planet. So, it’s time to take action and make use of more renewable energies. Hours of research and experimentation has gone into bringing these concepts to life and making them accessible, so make the most of them! Electricity is perhaps the easiest and most accessible choice to go with. Make small changes, such as opting for electric oven over a gas oven. It may seem minor, but if everyone were to just do this, there would be a vast reduction in consumption of fossil fuels.

Ditching Plastic

We’re now well aware that plastic is perhaps environmental enemy number one. While it may be cheap to make (and thus cheap to buy), it is not biodegradable, and this means that when it is disposed of, it ends up in a landfill or the sea for the foreseeable future. Not only does this ruin the beauty of natural landscapes, but various forms of wildlife manage to swallow it, often resulting in serious illness or death for both the individual animal and the food chain at large. So, it’s time to stop buying plastic and to start incorporating more eco-friendly materials into our home design. Consider products such as natural wood plantation shutters, bamboo toothbrush holders, and beeswax wrap instead of plastic Tupperware. The changes are small, but they are extremely effective and easy to implement!

Try Out Natural Cleaning Products

Cleaning the house is such a day-to-day process that many of us never actually stop and question what ingredients or components go into the cleaning products that we use. When you do give this consideration, it’s not all too surprising that there are plenty of hazardous substances in household cleaning products. So, consider using more natural alternatives that won’t cause damage when they find their way back into our natural waterways. These products are also generally created through more sustainable manufacturing processes!

These are just a few small changes to consider making to how you design your home and how you maintain it. The changes may feel odd to start with, but you’ll quickly get into the swing of things!

Updates That Bring Your Old Home To The 21st Century

Old homes can be gorgeous. They can be storied, they can be detailed, they can bring features that a lot of us covet but simply don’t find in newer builds. They can also be entirely unsuited for modern living. Whether the home is thirty years old or a hundred years old, it’s not going to be built with all the convenience and comfort of a 21st century home. So, it’s time to take a look at how you bring that home into the present with you, without destroying what makes it work.

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Give it a wash

If it’s a home that hasn’t had an owner in a while or simply didn’t get all that much care from those who lived in it past, then the exterior is likely to look battered and old. But much of what seems ingrained on the surface might not be that difficult to get rid of, after all. A power washer can clear a lot of dirt, dust, grime, and even moss from the exterior of the home. Paint can help you gloss over much of it. For damage that’s a little tougher to get rid of, you may want to even consider some cladding for the walls.

Cover up those blemishes

There are other blemishes that are much harder to cover up, as well. In older homes, there may be rather large interruptions to the exterior aesthetic, such as huge air conditioning vents, utility closets and so on. When you can’t get rid of them or update them, you may instead think of crafting the environment to better hide them. Landscaping teams like USA Lawns Inc. can help you hedge off the problem areas or raise the ground to better cover them. Many older homes get these upgrades piecemeal over time without the owners thinking about it can disrupt the entire look of the home. Even when you’re forced to live with them, you don’t have to be forced to look at them too.

Patch it up

There’s a very good chance that the home is going to have more air leaks and gaps that the average home, as well. When it comes to winter, you’re going to feel it right down to your bones. Take a closer look at the source of any air leaks. You can caulk those that grow around the doors or the windows, but your best bet is to look up. Teams like Wildwood Roofing & Construction may be a necessary ally if your home’s roof hasn’t been updated in some time. Most older roofs may be out of date by the time you move in, which means tiles can crack, come apart, and fall out entirely more easily, exposing the interior of the home to the elements. Not only is that uncomfortable in the cold, but it also creates a serious risk of damp and mold spreading throughout the house.

Make it energy friendly

Once the outside is all patched up, you should think about patching the inside, too. There’s no denying that older homes are much less likely to have proper insulation. You may be able to get some state assistance for paying for the insulation that your home lacks, as well. There are other changes you can make to ensure that the home is easier to heat, easier to cool, and more energy efficient, too. Take a closer look at the water heater, too, and have someone come out to service it.

Focus on the key rooms

Let’s talk about the practicalities of living in an older home, now, too. How do you actually use the space? We have come a long way in bathroom and kitchen renovations, so those may be the first places to think of changing. A full remodel might be necessary. For the kitchen, updating the layout and using more of the vertical space can make it a lot more convenient to work from one end of the room to the other. In the bathroom, consider switching out the tub for a walk-in shower to open up a lot more space. You should take a closer look at whether the bathroom is leak-proof, too.

Work with the older features

If you intentionally bought an older home, there’s a good chance you did it because you love some of the more historical features that you would probably not find anywhere else. You don’t have to get rid of these features to make the room more modern, you might very well be able to work with them. For instance, even if it’s no longer functional, a fireplace can make a great focal point for any living room. Use the shelves to house some treasured ornaments, use the wall above as a place to feature a mirror or a piece of art. You can even use old, non-functional fireplace hearths as a place to hold a houseplant to brighten it up. Call a little more attention to the older features of the home that you love most.

But not all of them

That said, there are plenty of older features in the home that are an eyesore that you shouldn’t be concerned about covering up or replacing entirely. If there’s awkward ceiling trim, painting the whole ceiling one block color can make it blend in a little more easily. There is also the popcorn ceiling look that was ubiquitous for a couple decades that people almost unilaterally hate, now. Teams like Armstrong Ceilings can help you replace them or simply cover them up with much sleeker wooden paneling that is nowhere near as busy and may also fit in perfectly with the hardwood floors that many older homes contain.

Update without replacing

Some features might be beautiful, but they’re no longer practical to use, so many people think of replacing them anyway. The windows of the older home are often a victim of this. The truth is that it may not be entirely necessary to replace them. In fact, you can make a lot of improvements and updates to older windows that can bring them up-to-par with their modern equivalents. Window inserts can make them not more energy efficient and better at keeping the cold out. They are also a lot cheaper than brand new windows. There’s also the fact that older wood windows actually tend to be a lot stronger and more durable than new wood windows, so if you’re hoping to update but to keep that wooden aesthetic, you might actually be worsening the effectiveness of your windows.

Open it up

Space is a concern for a lot of new homeowners in older homes. Historic home design wasn’t quite as open and included a lot of awkward, smaller spaces that we no longer use quite as easily. If you feel like your rooms are undersized and not utilizing the actual floor space that the home has to offer, why not consider knocking in a wall and connecting two or more of the rooms? Of course, this takes a lot of consideration and you should get an expert out to help figure out if it’s even safe to do so. Load bearing walls, in particular, require some care so figure out which of them are the most structural important ones. Once you have that figured out, however, it can make the home much more convenient and friendly to larger families with lots of foot traffic.

Incorporate strange spaces

There are some awkward spaces that might not necessarily be suitable for opening up by knocking down a wall, too. Some older homes have little wood storage alcoves and several of them have space under the stairs that goes unused. You can open these up, too, but by incorporating bespoke storage furniture such as built-in shelves and cabinetry, instead. Have new storage spaces designed to the very specifications of the space you’re trying to fill up. It’s a lot more effective than trying to fit in store-bought options, instead.

Get more space out of it

Older homes may also have much larger spaces that weren’t previously incorporated as part of the home. Both attics and basements tend to be larger in old homes. If you want to increase living space, add a utility room, or simply improve the value of the house, then making better use of these may be the way to do it. Finishing an attic or a basement takes time and investment. Especially in the basement, where you have to consider extra factors such as damp and airflow. However, once converted, they can add a lot of versatility and value to the home, so consider making a project of it.

How much you change, adapt, or preserve the older faults and features of the home depends entirely on preference. If you don’t have a taste for the oddities of the past, you can dramatically change it all. But hopefully, the tips above show a few of the ways those who love those characteristics a way to keep them without having to live in the past, too.