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!

Organise your home office as beautiful as your home

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A home office or work space can be a great multi-functional space for work, paperwork, kids’ homework, providing the space is arranged in a way that encourages clear thinking and efficiency! Home offices have a sneaky way of becoming quite cluttered — a place where you keep the door firmly closed. With the following organising tips, you can have a work space that looks every bit as beautiful as the rest of your home and becomes a place to get your mind flowing!

Free up wall space

Your desk doesn’t need to face a wall. Free up wall space by placing your desk against the window you get to enjoy the view and there’s an extra wall for shelves and box storage.

Bold and colourful filing

A robust filing system is essential. Filing cabinets come in all shapes, sizes and colours. Tight on space? Then consider miniature cabinets they are great for storing corporate stationery, receipts, arts and crafts. Larger, freestanding filing cabinets can be beautiful statement pieces, especially if they’re crafted from solid wood or coloured synthetics.

Unfolding/retractable desks

While many people prefer a separate work desk, an unfolding or retractable desk which is part of a larger cabinet/furniture piece can look fabulous. Adjacent cabinet drawers and storage make for a compact, convenient work space.

Go innovative

Bespoke ways to organise your space offer a surprising, functional and artistic look to your office. A wall stacked box system is an interesting way to store all your office paperwork. By fixing a central metal back plate to the wall, movable boxes with brackets can be stacked on top of each other. Overall, a wall stacked box system is a stunning-looking space saver.

Freestanding shelves

If you enjoy switching the look of your rooms, freestanding bookshelves or bookshelf ladders are ideal. Ladders in solid oak are particularly striking and, obviously, you don’t always have to stack high shelves with books — cascading plants and foliage bring a relaxing, outdoor feel to the inside.

Floating shelves

By fixing floating shelves above your desk, you create vital extra desk space while keeping all essential items within easy reach.

Utilise less obvious spaces

Sometimes less obvious spaces can provide extra but equally elegant storage. The back of a door is a great place to hang a curtain of pockets for housing lighter items. Under shelves can be fitted with magnetic strips to hold jars (of paperclips, pins and staples).

Magnetic and cork boards

In order to store those important reminders and items of inspiration, and to save desk space, opt for large magnetic or cork boards. Magnetic holders can also be attached to boards which can house all your pens, keys, receipts, etc.

There are some quick and easy ways to rejuvenate your home office. You never know, the way you organise might help you become more creative and clever in your work too!

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!

Should You Say Yes To The House?

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Deciding whether or not to buy a house can be a big decision, especially if it is your first property and you are just getting your foot on the ladder. It’s a huge financial decision and will also affect the whole of your family. After all, you want to buy a house that you can turn into a home easily, and one that you can settle into quickly. You might think that you have found the perfect house – but are you sure it is the right one for you?

Here are a few things you should think about that can help you decide whether you should say yes to a house.

Can You Afford It?

First of all, you need to think about your finances. You will probably need to get a mortgage to finance your home purchase. While it can be quite easy to get one of these specialist property loans, it’s still not a good idea to go for one that is going to be difficult for you to repay. So, it’s best to be sensible about your home choices. Don’t try to buy a home that is bigger than what you need as it could end up being a big drain on your bank balance!

Will There Be Many Renovations?

You also need to ask yourself how much work you are happy to carry out in the new home. If you buy a period property, then there is a good chance that you will need to do more than just decorating. You might have to use a heating and Trane AC repair service to get the home’s heating sorted. It could also be necessary to invest in a new kitchen and bathroom as well if the current ones are very dated. All of this work can add a lot of stress on top of your move, so you need to ask yourself whether it is worth it.

What’s The Area Like?

You should also think about what the immediate neighborhood around the house is like. Before you do commit to buying it, it’s worth checking online to see the average crime rating. Obviously, you don’t want to move your family to a location that is going to be unsafe! There also needs to be plenty of facilities and amenities within easy reach of the house, such as a school, shops, doctors surgery, and public transport links.

It’s A Good Investment

Do you think that the house will continue to rise in value once you come to sell it? It needs to be a good investment of your cash, otherwise you might end up losing some money. Thankfully, there are ways you can increase its value yourself, such as by adding en suites and extending the property where possible. So, when you do view a house, it’s worth thinking about the things you could do to increase its value a little.

Hopefully, this makes the decision of buying a home a little easier for you to think about!

Don’t Let Your Home Get You In A Pickle

Our home is many things to us, and a pickle can definitely be one of them. The more time you spend in your home, the problems it seems to present. But are there ways of avoiding this, or are some of the problems we have just unavoidable? Well, we’re sure that you can admit that it’s a bit of both. Sometimes something happens to our homes, or in our lives that affect our home, and we just think to ourselves, ‘why us!!’. But if so many things are unavoidable, how do you think you’re ever going to get to the point where your home isn’t getting you into a pickle anymore!? Well, there’s a few steps you can take to reduce the problems it does cause, as a lot of the time we will admit it’s down to human error! So, have a read on, have a relaxing festive break, and have a 2019 that is full of far less problems!

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The Issues We Cause

We definitely do cause a few issues in our homes, and some of them are due to the fact that life is just so busy and rushed sometimes, that we don’t make the best decisions. One thing you might not have to encounter, but you will curse if you do, is locking yourself out of the house. Simply losing your house key can leave you in such a predicament, especially if you need to desperately get into your home. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, then don’t think that it is a mistake you would never make! Companies such as SJO Locksmith are called out to so many people who have done something like this over the years! We also cause more issues by not maintaining our homes properly. For example, if you ceiling that has a large crack in it due to age, but you don’t do anything about it, it could only be a matter of time before that ceiling cracks completely, and then you really would have an issue on your hand!

Trying To Prevent Unavoidable Issues

If you’re going to encounter unavoidable issues in the home, you might as well know how you can try and prevent them. We think that one problem that can’t be avoided, is someone breaking into your home. If someone has picked your home to come into, perhaps to get the keys for the car on your drive, they will come in! To prevent it, never leave anything obvious on show. It’ll only draw people in. Then, try using something like a fake security camera to act as a deterrent. The safer your house, the happier you’re going to feel!

Loving The Home You’re In!

Finally, we think you just need to love the home you’re in. The more you love and care for your home, the less issues you’ll find you’ll have. If you always have new appliances, you keep the decor fresh, and you maintain the house, there aren’t many things that will ever go wrong. When something serious does go wrong, you’ll find you’re very unlucky!

5 Quick Tricks To Save Money On Heating This Year

Winter can do a number on your household budget. You can’t predict how cold the weather will get, and with that comes uncertainty about your energy budget. All you know is that it’s going to go up, and it’s an unpleasant surprise every year. You don’t have to be held hostage by the weather. There are ways to save money even when the mercury plummets without having to freeze in your own home. Check out these quick tips for saving money in the winter.

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#1 Buy a Low Flow Shower Head

Low flow shower heads use less water and as a result, use less hot water, sparing your hot water tank. One thing you can do is also insulate your water tank and reduce the temperature by a couple of degrees. This will also help reduce “standby loss,” where you heat water you don’t use for hours.

#2 Do Furnace Maintenance

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Every year, you should give your furnace a quick inspection and cleaning to prevent a breakdown caused by wear and tear. You may not know when to repair your furnace, but when it’s broken, it’s already too late. You can find furnace maintenance guides online that will help you through the process if you want to do it yourself, but you can also call in an expert if you suspect your furnace is having trouble.

If it’s a central air furnace that makes rumbling noises, if you feel cold air coming out of your vents when the heat should be on, or if the furnace runs in short cycles of no longer than three minutes, you should call a furnace technician. Check with your furnace company, too. If you rent your furnace, you may get access to 24/7 furnace repairs.

#3 Leave Open the Oven Door After Using

Winter also happens to have a lot of holidays that involve baking and roasting for long periods of time. If you don’t have to worry about dogs or small children, one way you can add to the heat in your home is leaving the oven door open after baking. It can spare your furnace some effort.

#4 Close Vents Not in Use

Do you have a guest room where no one is staying anytime soon? Close the vents in that room and save on heating. You can cut a couple hundred square feet off your heating footprint and save money, as that heat will simply go to other rooms instead.

#5 Insulate the Attic

Heat rises, so an improperly insulated attic can be a major cause of heat loss in your home. Insulate the attic by covering up the entry with plastic and weather stripping, or even old blankets if you have no other options.

Saving money isn’t hard if you know what to do and how to prepare for the lower temperatures, and remember, there are always small things you can do to help reduce the bills. Just remember, sometimes you need to pay upfront for savings down the road.

Like paying for attic insulation, certain appliances can cost money upfront, but they save you money down the road. Paying to add attic insulation isn’t an immediate saving. Another great example is to get a low energy water dispenser. Also, it’s important to note that Energy Star rated appliances also make a big difference!

Not only will these tricks help you save on your energy bills, they will also make your home feel more comfortable all season long.

Bathroom Upgrades That Are Well Worth the Money

People often spend a lot of money upgrading the various rooms in their home. Whether it’s adding new kitchen appliances, putting new furniture into your living room or swapping out your bed for a more lavish one, there are plenty of big renovations that you can perform in order to make your home feel a lot nicer and more luxurious.

However, few people remember that their bathroom is one of the most-used rooms in their home and neglect to renovate it or spend a lot less money on the bathroom than other rooms in the home. So in this article, we’re going to be talking about a couple of bathroom upgrades that are well worth the investment in both time and money.

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More Storage Options

The bathroom might not be the first place we think of to add more storage, but you’d be surprised how useful an extra drawer or cupboard can be. Whether it’s replacing your current bathroom basin units with something that contains extra storage, or simply just adding a couple of shelves around the perimeter of the room, there are plenty of ways to add a bit of extra storage to your bathroom at a very low price.

This is a very easy project to undertake and can typically be done by yourself unless you’re doing a replacement of the bathroom basin. In this case, you may need to hire someone to help you such as a contractor, but a DIY-savvy neighbour or friend can also help because it’s not the most stressful or demanding of renovations.

Improving the Lighting

Lighting can be a huge factor when it comes to having a good bathroom. This is because many bathrooms typically use a single lighting fixture that is protected from steam and moisture, but it can result in rather dark and gloomy rooms. As a result, you may want to consider changing the lighting fixtures to add a bit more style while also letting in more light. This is especially important if the bathroom you’re renovating doesn’t have a large window to let light into the room, and it can add a lot of comfort if your bathroom feels a bit too dark.

Adding lights may require electrical knowledge, especially if you’re planning on adding extra lights to a room. As a result, you’ll want to hire a competent electrician to help you perform the work so that you don’t risk harming yourself while trying to install it. There are plenty of different lights that you can add to your bathroom but do keep in mind that if you have a small bathroom you should pick lights or fixtures that can withstand the moisture of a bathroom.

Separating the Shower

A lot of bathrooms will often have a mixed shower and bath. These are very common especially in smaller apartments that try to save space, but if you’re able to separate the two, then it can be a fantastic renovation to perform. First, you’ll need to make sure that your bathroom has enough space for a separate dedicated shower. This might be possible in most bathrooms, but for an ensuite this might be a challenging renovation due to the lack of space. However, it does a lot of style to your bathroom, makes it look a lot more luxurious and helps to make your bathroom functional by separating the two.

Of course, separating the shower from the bath isn’t something you can do over a weekend and will require a lot of money and contractors to help you. It’s going to be one of the more expensive renovations that you can perform, but it’s certainly well worth the money if you’re able to afford it and have the time to renovate your bathroom. While a simple bathtub and shower combination can save a lot of space, it’s just not as luxurious and enjoyable as having them separated.

Wet Room Upgrade

For a contemporary bathroom upgrade, consider a wet room. These are bathrooms that don’t care if you splash water everywhere because everything can be washed and cleaned easily, and there’s a drainage system where you can easily flush everything through that’s built into the floor. This means you don’t need to worry about stepping out of the shower and getting the carpets wet, it means your entire bathroom can prevent leakages and it also adds a lot of style and luxury to your bathroom.

However, you need to ensure that your bathroom is relatively large before considering a wetroom. This is because splashing from the shower or bath could create excess moisture that will make toilet rolls and hand towels wet if they’re too close, and this could create an unpleasant experience for you. In addition, a wet room upgrade isn’t cheap. You need to tile them from floor to ceiling and if you’re going for a completely sealed room with a drain, then your home needs to be able to suit the renovation.

New Tiles

Be it floor tiles that you want to replace or wall tiles that are far too dirty and stained to be presentable, new tiles can be a wonderful renovation that could uplift your bathroom and make it stand out. There are plenty of tile choices to pick from and it’s a relatively inexpensive renovation to make. You’ll have access to a fresh set of tiles that are clean, pristine and look fantastic. You can change up the styles if you want to and the new tiles will be much more hard-wearing and last you another couple of years.

Replacing tiles isn’t very difficult, but it can be time-consuming and we’d definitely recommend that you at least find someone to help you install the tiles or else it’ll take a long time. Removing tiles can also be quite messy and take a bit of your time, so it’s not a quick afternoon renovation and it may take a weekend or more to complete a full tile swap in your bathroom.