Top Tips For Clearing Blocked Drains

6 July 2016

There are few things that are as unpleasant as the experience of blocked drains. Whether it is the nuisance of slowly emptying sinks, unpleasant smells or worse, drains backing up and returning their contents to the kitchen or bathroom, blocked drains are horrible. So what can be done to try and avoid blocked drains and the unpleasantness it brings?

Watch for the signs

While preventing the drains in your home or business from becoming blocked is always the best option, recognising the signs of a problem before it escalates can be crucial. If you think there is a blocked drain, it is always best to get in touch with an expert who will have equipment including CCTV systems to check drains, find the problem and sort it.Common signs include water draining slowly from a sink or bath as well as toilets filling up too quickly as waste doesn’t flow away through the pipe. If any water-based appliance is used and water appears elsewhere at the same time, then drains may be blocked. The smells of blocked drains are unmissable and extremely unpleasant, where rotting debris isn’t moving down the system and causes smells. Sounds can also indicate a problem. Listen for gurgling noises at drains and plug holes as this is caused by air gets trapped in pipes by a blockage.

Preventing blocked drains in the bathroom

In the bathroom, one of the top causes of blocked drains is hair so preventing this from reaching the plughole is a good move. Clean the plug area regularly and even consider a cover to help catch debris before it enters the drains.Items falling into the toilet and even down the sink is another common cause (mobile phones being a top culprit!) so keep these items away from potential risk. If they aren’t close to the sink or toilet, there’s no chance they can fall into them.

The kitchen
Grease and fat from cooking is a top problem in kitchens, both at home and in catering businesses. Therefore, ensuring this is removed before washing pans and dishes can help stop this problem before it gets started. While these substances may be liquid when they go down, they cool and congeal, causing a blockage. If you have to wash fat down the drain, mix it with detergent first to stop it solidifying.Small scraps of food can also cause blockages so ensure you clear plates into the rubbish bin before doing the washing up. A few scraps may not seem much of a problem but they can accumulate and cause a blockage.

Outside

Problems with the drains sometimes comes from outside the house, not inside. In autumn, for example, debris from trees and shrubs can fall into drains, rot and cause a blockage. Use drain covers to ensure nothing can fall into the drains.Guttering and drain pipes are designed to carry water from the roof to the drains but can also take debris along for the ride. Therefore, regularly clearing these out is an important preventative step, especially during autumn and winter when there is more debris and usually more water flowing through the system.



The Benefits of Fire Doors, Beyond The Obvious!

4 July 2016

I think we can all agree that Firedoors are lifesavers. They are designed to prevent the spreading of fires throughout a building to allow an easy and safe exit.

Firedoors themselves are solid timber frames that contain an intumescent seal that is designed to expand at temperatures over 200 degrees, which ultimately seal the gaps between the doors.

This in itself is a huge reason to select a Fire Door if you happen to be door shopping! However, there are also many other reasons as to why Fire doors are desirable, not only from a practical standpoint, but also from an aesthetic standpoint also.

Fire doors have the primary function of protection for you in your home, place of work or where ever you may be. But the question arises, as to why buy them in the first place? Well… Oak is one of the finest timbers to use for internal doors. It visually looks more appealing, which gives it a prime finish and look.

Oak doors can add a sense of style and luxury to your interior décor, as they almost compliment all flooring types perfectly, adding to the feel to your home. Here are a few more reasons on why to buy Oak Fire Doors….

• Tough & Robust – Oak material is generally tougher and stronger than others – which make them ideal fire doors. These doors are made to a high standard, where the emphasis is on longevity.

• Long Lasting – Oak generally last longer than other materials and is also more resistant to wear and tear because of its robust nature. It will look just as good over the span of many years as from the day it was first installed.

• Better Insulating properties – Because of the robust nature of oak finishes, they generally keep a room better insulated, reducing the air that cold air that can come into a room.

• Noise Reduction – again, due to fire doors being stronger and tougher in nature, they generally keep noise levels down from the outside. Now don’t worry, you will still hear the doorbell! The oak can shield any unwanted noise that may arise.

So as can be seen, there are some excellent practical benefits of Internal Fire Doors. For any further information on Firedoors or any other particular style of doors, visit our website https://www.idealdoors.co.uk/




Guide to refrigerated wine cabinets

3 September 2015

Refrigerated wine cabinets are a viable alternative to wine racks; they allow you to store your wine collection in a cooled space. They provide the ideal conditions as a short- or long-term solution. You can serve wine at the right temperature. Many variants also offer a great way to showcase your collection. These cabinets are a terrific addition to any kitchen or wine room. An under-counter wine cabinet or fridge chills your wine collection appropriately. It provides the necessary (adjustable) cooling in a compact structure that is ideal for bars, kitchens and other spaces. Under-counter cabinets are available in two configurations: the single and 2/3 temperature sections. Choice of configuration depends on wine storage requirements. The same applies to positioning; the preferred spot should allow easy access. The appliances are suitably designed allowing them to fit snugly in the compact spaces without compromising holding capacity. The colour or style of under-counter wine cabinet should complement the décor of the room it occupies.


Create the ideal conditions
As a constantly developing drink, wine requires a favourable environment to thrive. It reacts either positively or negatively depending on its surroundings. For wine to mature properly, you should invest in a good cabinet. If the conditions are too warm, wine ages faster and too cold, deposits may start forming. To ensure that the cork remains moist, store bottles on one side; this helps block air from entering. Sparkling wines and screw cap bottles should always be stored upright. The volume of your collection influences the ideal carrying capacity of a refrigerated wine cabinet. The bigger the collection, the larger the cabinet required. Additionally, consider the type of wine bottles in your collection. The majority of units have the capacity to store Bordeaux-size bottles.

Champagne or Burgundy bottles are much wider and take more space, thus limiting the number of bottles you can store.


Storage temperature requirements
The storage temperature requirements of red and white wines vary considerably. The ideal storage temperatures for reds hover between 12 and 16 degrees Celsius whereas white wines should be stored at 10 to 12 degrees Celsius. Top-of-the-range wine cabinet models allow you to set independent temperatures within the unit. This makes it possible to dedicate the bottom shelf to the champagne bottles while the claret occupies the top shelf. With cheaper models, you will have to compromise since they provide a single temperature control setting. In this case, you should increase or lower the temperature before drinking. Another critical aspect in wine storage is humidity control. If the incabinet conditions are too dry, the corks will lose their moisture allowing air to enter. Excessively damp conditions lead to the formation of mould. High-end wine cabinets maintain the ideal humidity in addition to keeping unit well ventilated. Some advanced units come with charcoal filters to prevent contamination. Fan cooled refrigeration helps maintain idyllic conditions by ensuring that whenever the door is open, the cabinet recovers its interior temperature. It eliminates any in-cabinet odours in the process while ensuring that the wine remains untainted.



Hard Water Can Give Your Home and Health a Hard Time

20 August 2015

Hard water - water which contains a high mineral content, with high levels of calcium and magnesium carbonate - can produce negative effects - to your pipes, electrical appliances, clothes and even your health. This article will look at the various consequences of hard water, and ways in which it can be softened.

Pipes & Heating
Hard water's effects on your home's pipes is insidious because the symptoms can take a while to show - and by that time, quite a lot of work may be necessary to ensure your home's plumbing is back in full working order. So what can go wrong? Calcium deposits can reduce water pressure (through clogging) as well as coat heating elements in the water heater - making heating less effective. By the time these symptoms appears, they can be expensive to remedy.

Electrical Appliances
The limescale build-up on heating elements rears its ugly head again when it comes to appliances like washing machines that rely on heat to wash. Limescale makes such heating less effective when its deposits build up on the heating elements. The limescale can also coat hoses and seals, causing them to rot.

Clothes
Hard water can embed mineral deposits into the fibres of your clothes, literally hardening the clothes - in turn causing secondary problems such as itchiness and can exacerbate skin conditions such as eczema.

Health
While hard water can have some negligible health benefits via its calcium and magnesium constituents, it can cause a number of skin problems - from irrtation to wrinkles, lines, rosacea, acne, enlarged pores and skin inflammation.

How can we soften our hard water?
You'll need to install a water softening machine into your home's plumbing. This device will help eliminate the calcium and magnesium deposits by "trading" them with sodium - a process known as ion exchange. The machine will use descaling salt as the source of sodium



The Benefits of Installing a New Bathroom

4 August 2015

Most people can tolerate their old, traditional bathrooms - they're familiar to the point that everything can be found in the dark. The old bathroom kind of becomes yet another room you no longer pay attention to. However, the moment you realise not just how good a newly designed bathroom can look, but how much money it can save you, a change of bathroom becomes a compelling project for many home owners.

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More Economical
With expert guidance - from the likes of a company such as Twyford who specialise in bathrooms designs - you will see your water bills reduced when you replace your old bathroom with a new economical one - less wasteful toilet flushes (via dual flush), and smart water saving taps and mixers that are also less wasteful of water. Finally, water saving baths have a lower volume capacity, but still offer the luxurious bathing experience. Even replacing small bathrooms can really make a difference to your water bills.

Cleaner
A rimless toilet means nowhere for germs to hide, and a toilet that's easy to clean. New bathrooms use modern bathroom products that are far easier to keep clean than older bathrooms - making it easy to retain their new look for many years after installation.

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Better Looking
Let's face it - a big reason we want a new bathroom is because they look so good. You look forward to using it, and dare I say - even cleaning it.

Adds Value to Your Home
Like any home improvement project, it should be seen as an investment, not simply a cost. Typically, a new bathroom will add value to your home in excess of the money you've paid for your bathroom. It also makes your home easier to sell.

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Considerations

Before undertaking the project of installing a new bathroom design, you must consider a number of things, including utilisation of space, ventilation and heating, water economy and electrics.

Utilisation of Space
A new bathroom gives you the chance to start from scratch. If your current bathroom has a bath that rarely gets used (and is merely a place to stand for a shower), maybe you could forgo a bath, and just install a shower cubicle instead - creating more space in the bathroom. The same goes for cabinets - empty cabinets mean you need LESS cabinets in the new design. And remember, space doesn't have to be filled - it can be nice to have some empty space so move around easily in your bathroom, and space saving bathrooms help you achieve that. Also, consider space saving toilets to create that extra bit of space.

Ventilation and Heating
Ventilation is a big one - get that wrong, and you could find mould growing in your bathroom before long. It's important to ensure effective ventilation is part of the new bathroom's design. Heating is a big consideration in winter. Towel radiators are a good addition to a newly designed bathroom.

Water Economy
We touched on this earlier as a benefit, but remember to emphasise this in the design stage. Work out how much water the household uses and the areas it could save the most in - and see if the new design can really help reduce water consumption for your home.

Electrics
Ensure you use a professional installer for your new bathroom who understands the latest IEE Wiring Regulations. The bathroom is an especially important consideration for safe electrics, with ample water splashed around the room.

More inspiration and ideas for your new bathroom can be found here:- http://www.twyfordbathrooms.com/planning-your-bathroom/



My Garden Has My Full Attention

1 June 2015

It's the 1st of June, and despite the rather chilly weather in the UK, it's actually the start of the meteorological summer today. I like to tend to my garden at this time of year - it's in full bloom and the lush colours of my plants and bushes really help keep me there - either with a trowel in my hand, or perhaps later on....a book, or even a glass of wine - relaxing in my chair.

I love watching the colours of my garden subtly change as the sun slowly sets and twilight turns imperceptibly into darkness. On the warmer nights, I like to remain outside after sunset - relying on the LED garden lights I purchased at g-light.co.uk (in my dotage, I've actually become accustomed to buying things online - it gives me even more time to potter around in the garden rather than in shopping aisles!). The lights on my decking come in handy when I'm moving from indoors to outdoors and vice versa. However, sometimes I might even keep the lights off to enjoy the night's sky if it's cloudless.

Even when I'm indoors, I'm often thinking about the next day's gardening jobs. I check the weather reports to anticipate the best times to be doing the biggest tasks.

It's not just the creativity I love about tending a garden, but the exercise too. I actually have a manual lawnmower - it's powered by nothing more than my own muscle power. It's so much more satisfying when the grass is cut.

Overall, I see my property as garden first, house second - well, during spring and summer at least! Come the autumn, and I feel a sense of loss as I bed the garden down for the winter. Then again, the winter gives me ample time to make plans for the following spring...!



A Look at Task Lighting, Background Lighting and Ambient Lighting

5 April 2015

There's more to lighting than merely illuminating a room. Lighting should serve a specific purpose - perhaps to add to ambience to a room, or just add some background level light, or a task-orientated light - perhaps a spotlight on a desk for reading. This article looks at these three reasons to add lighting to a room.

Task Lighting
Task lighting is arguably the most straight-forward. You set up your lighting based in a specific task - for example, reading from a desk, watching television, or working with a laptop. This type of lighting is practical, and should be setup so that the task that's being lit can be carried out optimally. It doesn't mean aesthetic considerations shouldn't be made (it's not an "either or" situation here between aesthetics and practicalities) - but the top priority is to light the task at hand in the best way possible.

Background Lighting
Background lighting is the type of lighting you're probably most familiar with - this light fills the entire room, and is typically fulfilled by a ceiling light. It's important to get the right intensity/wattage of bulb for this type of lighting. If a room is too bright or too dim, it can cause headaches / tiredness. Even better, get a dimmer switch so you can control the brightness to your exact liking.

Ambient Lighting
This is by far the most creative aspect to lighting a room. Here the goal is to achieve a mood, not necessarily fulfil a practical need for light. Ambient lighting demands creativity - try different coloured lights, different intensities, different directions of light with carefully placed lamps. This kind of lighting can really transform a room, turning it from something utilitarian and "cold" to a much warmer and colourful place. Moreover, you can create a different mood for each room - one perhaps for relaxation, or one for inspiration. By creating a mood to alter your own mood, we're moving into the realms of feng shui - the art of harmonizing the mood of the surroundings with the mood of the inhabitants (and vice versa).



On the Benefits that Alfalfa and Cotton Seeds Bring

15 August 2014

Alfalfa
You may not be aware of this, but the humble alfalfa plant is a cornerstone of agriculture. How so? It's used as a feed for beef cattle, horses, sheep, and goats. The alfalfa plant has a high protein content and so is a great addition to any farm animal's diet - greatly aiding in agricultural efficiency. Alfalfa is also a great fibre source too for rabbits and poultry. Having said that, alfalfa sprouts CAN be eaten by humans - normally in salads and sandwiches.

Alfalfa is normally harvested three or four times a year, but can be harvested up to twelve times a year in warmer, drier climates.

Alfalfa has other benefits too - it's considered an "insectary" - that is, it's a place where insects colonise, which in turn aids other types of crops, like cotton. These insects help protect the secondary crop (such as cotton seeds) and thus the benefit of growing alfalfa is realised.

Pollinators such as honey bees are required to pollinate alfalfa, and they are often trucked in to ensure alfalfa can be pollinated in huge quantities they're harvested at.

Cotton Seeds
Cotton seeds are another excellent source of food for livestock. The cotton seeds have to be crushed in the mill after removing lint from the cotton plant. The remaining seeds provide a high-protein source for animal livestock, which - like the aforementioned alfalfa, help increase agricultural efficiency.

There are other uses cotton seeds can be used for:-








How to Affordably Say Goodbye to Inferior Interior

17 July 2014

Everyone wants to update their home, but not everyone can afford to make it as luxurious and fancy as they would like it to be. This is a sad realisation that people have to accept, especially given the growing cost of living in regards to mortgages,utilities, vehicles, gas, and etc.

Thankfully, there are some very easy ways that you can go about changing out your interior design without having to take out a second mortgage on your home.

To take advantage of these, you must be willing to think outside of the norm. Not in the sense of being super creative, but rather you need to find unique ways to obtain style ideas. This may seem like a no-brainer, but many look at other ideas merely for fun and not with an analytic mind-set.

How You Can Transform a Room on a Budget

First things first, you want to scavenge the Internet to find as many interior design pictures as you can. This will help you with figuring out which particular themes you like and which themes suit the size of your room. It will also give you an idea on what furniture works well with certain wall colours, decorations, and etc.

You can buy second hand home furniture if you want to get the most luxurious pieces you can afford. Buying used furniture is not always a bad thing. After all, the fancier the furniture the better taken care of it will be. So if you can afford a nice furniture chain store piece brand new, you should be able to afford a used luxurious furniture piece.

Buying home furniture is the first actual step that should be taken, unless you plan to invest in new flooring. Once the furniture is purchased, you can then think about how you can change the rest of the room to fit a certain theme. This is where referencing the images you found will come in handy.

Gathering Design Ideas

There are many ways you can go about gathering luxurious interior design ideas. You can look on Pinterest, Google images, and even watch checkout HGTV Dream Homes. Watching shows based on interior decorating and renovating can help too as you get a full view of the rooms. The only issue is that you will spend the better part of half an hour or an hour examining one design scheme.

When you look at these pictures, you may be discouraged. The homes are huge and architecturally magnificent. Your home isn't a multi-million dollar home like many of these. But not to worry, you just want to get a feel for the theme and setting that the room has when it's designed at this calibre. You can then try to work your own fluent theme with luxurious touches as you see fit.

The Accents Matter

From the colour of your walls to the look and power of your lighting fixtures, every small detail counts. They will make or break how the design of the room flows. If you want to make sure that the entire room is stunning when you are done decorating, definitely put some focus on the accent furniture, lighting, and decorations that you buy. Also keep in mind the general theme you are shooting for so nothing seems out of place.



Protecting Your Kitchen Worktop

10 July 2014

Despite their beautiful appearance, many peopleare put off having wooden worktops fitted in fear that they will require a great deal of maintenance and cause unwanted hassle. The truth is, whether youchoose oak, walnut or beech to fit out your kitchen, the majority of woods will require some degree of maintenance. However, with the right amount of love and care, wooden worktops can be extremely practical, durable and above all, give your kitchen a certain natural charm and warmth that only wood can create.

Try before you buy

It's always worth consulting a joiner before you buy worktops, as some woods will require more maintenance than others. For example, hardwoods like oak and teak are hardwearing, whereas beech will require a little extra care.

It is also worth considering what types of wood are more prone to damage. Certain iron-based metals for example, can react badly with woods that are high in tannins, such as oak and beech. However, as long as your wood is properly sealed, this shouldn't cause a problem. Reputable online kitchen suppliers such as Worktop Express can provide you with all the information you need to know about high quality, durable wooden worktops.

Finishes

A lot of the time, wooden worktops are supplied unfinished, meaning that you are free to choose the look of your worktop before it is installed. On brand new wood, it's a good idea to use wood protector prior to applying oil or wax. Painting your surfaces with several coats of oil or wax can effectively improve their resistance to scratches, marks and water stains.

Make sure that you are prepared to treat your worktops regularly, as typically you will need to re-coat your surfaces at least 3 times throughout the year. You will of course, need to apply the coating more frequently around areas that require more thorough protection,such as the outer edge of the sink.

Hard wax oil is perhaps the most robust and long-lasting protection for wooden surfaces and is ideal for families with busy kitchens. This type of wax is also the most convenient, as it generally only needs to be applied a couple of times a year.

General maintenance

Occasionally, excessive water on the worktops can cause the wood to discolor, but as long as you take care to dry them, you shouldn't have any problems. Most wooden worktops are surprisingly easy to clean and can be done using a damp cloth. However, you should avoid using bleach as this can damage the wood and instead opt for a mild kitchen spray if needed.

You can also sand and re-varnish wooden worktops if they become overly stained or worn down. For many, the process of nurturing kitchen worktops can be both therapeutic and rewarding, and as long as you don't mind putting in a bit of elbow grease every now and then, wooden worktops can retain their beauty for years.

Other considerations

You may also want to consider having grooves cutinto the wood to drain water around the sink and prevent any discolouration.Using chopping boards and mats to hold metal pans is also a useful way to prevent any damage to the surfaces.While laminate or granite may be a more practical choice for some, there's no denying that natural character of a wooden worktopis unbeatable. Wood generally grows more beautiful with age, and in some cases, marks and stains can give your kitchen surfaces a rustic, shabby-chic look.



The Ultimate Guide to Acclimatizing Wood Flooring

23 June 2014

When you walk into a room what is one of the first things that you notice? The flooring! It is one of the first thing that catches the eye of the person and tells a lot about the kind of environment and the taste of the person who's the owner of that house. We usually relate carpeting with protective and captious people, marble flooring with the content with life or anything goes kind of people.

But what about wooden flooring?

Wooden flooring gives this sense of class and elegance, which is the reason you see wooden flooring in any high end club or a very elegant study of a person. Wooden flooring is the finest kind of flooring one can have. Not only that, wooden flooring these days has become cheaper, more durable and a better alternative as compared to marble or carpet.

Unlike carpet which has to be kept absolutely clean and spotless because even a spilled glass of wine on a carpet flooring will end up giving you a very expensive dry cleaning bill. Wooden floors are easy to clean and do not stain since it is just wood. The polished and fancy finish of a wooden floor makes it a better choice over the marble flooring which does not have any character to itself. Wooden flooring can even be installed over concrete or marble which gives it an advantage over other type of flooring, since you can have the finish of a wooden flooring and sturdiness of others.

Scratches or stains over a wooden flooring can be easily removed by polishing it, which is not the case in a marble floor. If scratches appear on a marble floor it is very difficult to get rid of them. With the help of engineered wooden flooring it is possible to have the most expensive and exotic kind of wooden flooring for a fraction of the amount, this is because in this process the flooring is made with different kinds of wood put in each layer. Hence the wood which gives the strength to the flooring is put beneath and only a layer of the exotic wood is put on the top, giving the floor that perfect finish. Therefor you can have a better looking floor for a very low price. Many people worldwide are shifting toward wooden flooring since they realize the numerous advantages of wooden flooring over other kind of flooring and no drawback of it per say.



Add Some Fire to Your Life

6 June 2014

With energy bills constantly on the rise and people finding it harder to make ends meet, the home is often now more a thing of function rather than beauty. There are many things which make a house a home, those little quirky touches that make it individual and special. Just one well placed item can transform a room from standard to eye catching. Some simple examples include:
In most homes, people gravitate towards the lounge in winter and the garden in summer. It’s the idealistic theory of sitting next to a fireplace with the curtains shut, hot drink in hand listening to the rain on the window. Or, out in the garden at dusk, barbecue smoking away next to an outdoor heater, catching up with friends.

A fireplace has been centred in people’s homes for hundreds of years. You are drawn to the relaxing ambience from it. Although historically, they were used for more practical purposes, as technology has progressed so has the use of the fireplace. Older fireplaces produced toxic and irritant smoke, so manufacturers have had to come up with safer, more reliable and cost effective fireplaces to meet demand.

A fireplace is a focal point for any room, it makes a statement and really should be a thing of beauty. But in the same instance it also should not cost you the earth to run. A new option that is starting to filter into the UK marketplace is a Bio Ethanol Fireplace. These have been widely available around Europe and America for some time. Some people have gone as far as saying they are a much more efficient alternative than the conventional fireplace. You can’t blame them for coming to this conclusion when bioethanol has the same advantages as a traditional fireplace but cancels out a lot of the negatives.

Some advantages include:
The reviews have been very positive to date.

Bioethanol
Bioethanol is a quasi-renewable energy source that can be produced from agricultural feedstock. There are obviously pro’s and con’s to every fuel source but ethanol seems to be a clever solution in the current climate. Here are some ethanol facts.

Looks do matter
Although it is essential to get the cheapest deal you can with your energy source, it is also imperative that you are happy within your home. Why shouldn’t you be able to have beauty as well as function? Some of the bioethanol fireplaces for sale really are more like works of art. They would be the centrepiece of any room or garden they are put in with the added bonus of no smoke, so you won’t be poised to reset the fire alarm.

No longer the pits
Although it is lovely and atmospheric to have a log burner or gas fire in the garden, they would in reality need to be placed on a dirt area for safety, and a lot of smoke is produced from a log burner. An outdoor bioethanol fireplace is a much simpler solution if you only have a paved or gravelled garden area, meaning that even in more built up areas with small gardens, you can still get that cosy atmosphere without jeopardising yours or others safety. Vigilance has always been a must with garden fireplaces, as it only takes one stray ember to catch onto something and start burning to cause an issue. Biofuel is a flammable liquid so does not create embers, making it a lot safer to extinguish and less hassle when burning.

The ancient roman scholar Marcus Tullius Cicero once quoted, “There is nothing more delightful than one’s own fireplace.” Over 2000 years later this still holds true for a lot of people. It is somewhere that you can sit and reflect on your day, be it good or bad, or be with family or friends putting the world to rights. A fireplace will always make a home, as so much of our lives will be played out in front of them. They are the extra family member who is always there to brighten and warm your day.




Five Common Garden Lighting Mistakes

2 May 2014

At last, temperatures are starting to rise and there’s a definite feel of spring in the air. At this time of year, your thoughts might turn to your garden and any improvements you can make to ensure its shipshape for all those upcoming summer parties and barbeques.

One great way to give your outdoor space a facelift is to introduce some lights. However, before you splash your hard-earned cash on these items, it’s important to bear in mind some common mistakes made by home improvers.

Too much of a good thing
For example, when it comes to outdoor illuminations, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. People tend to get carried away with these projects and end up using far too many of the products. By leaving some areas of your garden in darkness, you can create much more attractive, subtle and artistic effects. Remember, the aim of your project isn’t to turn night into day in your outdoor area.

Highlighting the wrong features
Consumers also often fall into the trap of highlighting the wrong features. There’s no point in drawing attention to patches of overgrown greenery or dishevelled sheds, for example. When you are planning your outdoor lighting, take care to ensure that the very best bits of your garden are illuminated.

For instance, perhaps you’re particularly proud of your pond, or maybe you have a beautiful rockery to show off.

The runway effect

Unless you want light aircraft to land in your garden, avoid the ‘runway effect’. This refers to the somewhat strange tendency of many people to place lighting in strict linear formations. For a better result, aim for more natural, softer patterns.

Unsustainable running costs
Garden lights have improved dramatically over the years in terms of energy efficiency. However, it seems some consumers are unaware of this fact. All too often, people use high-energy products that are expensive to run. To ensure you don’t fall into this trap, it’s well worth looking out for more efficient products. Firms such as The Lighting Superstore offer a variety of these lights. You can even take your pick from various solar powered options, which cost nothing to operate.

With energy prices on the rise, this is certainly something to think about. Also, you can benefit from the added peace of mind that comes from knowing you’re limiting any harm to the environment.

Rushing the process
Another common error made by over-eager home improvers is to rush the process of choosing lights. When done well, these illuminations can enhance gardens for many years, so it’s well worth your while taking your time. If you speed through the project and try to get all your lights in one go without thinking through all of your options, you could end up feeling disappointed with the results.

To achieve the best effects, you can create a plan of your outdoor space to help you visualise various different effects.

And now relax…
Once you’ve completed your project, avoiding these potential pitfalls, you can stand back, relax and admire your efforts. Your friends and family are bound to be impressed by the new additions to your garden!




Orangeries: How Do They Differ From Conservatories?

8 April 2014

If you want your home to be a spacious place where you can be creative with your interior décor, there's no better way to do so than to include an orangery or conservatory onto your property. However, deciding which one of these you should choose can be a difficult decision, especially if you are not fully aware of the differences between them. Just looking at the two structures shows no particularly obvious dissimilarities, but they are actually separated by several important factors; namely their design, history, and intended usage.

You might be surprised to find out that orangeries, the less popular of the two, are actually the oldest. Orangeries became prevalent throughout Europe between the 17th and 19th centuries, having originally come to prominence when used in Italian Renaissance gardens, where adding a glass room extension to a house was commonplace among upper class citizens. However, this was by no means a solely Italian idea. On the contrary, the popularity of orangeries was an international development that owed much of their design work to Dutch architects. This influence can clearly be seen in the beamed or vaulted solid roofs that give orangeries their unique structure.

Seventeenth Century orangeries were originally intended for the purpose of storing citrus trees inside of growth tubs so they will avoid harsh European winter climates. The success that orangeries provided in cultivating fruit soon led many owners to use orangeries as a means of rearing other difficult to cultivate exotic plants. As a symbol of the rich and wealthy, orangeries soon became must-have commodities across the continent. Orangeries were the crown jewel of any modern home and proud owners would show their guests around their house leaving the orangery until last. As the years passed, the classic orangery design was altered further to improve the quality of growing plant life while incorporating ever more luxurious architecture.

Among the most famous orangeries in Europe is the 1617 Orangery known as the Musée de l'Orangerie, based at the Palace of the Louvre. The largest orangery of this era is based in Versaile, where renowned designer Jules Hardouin-Mansart developed a structure grand enough to store orange trees for Louis XIV. With a dimension of 155 metres by 42 metres it remains a French landmark to this day.

A range of different orangery designs appeared during the 1800s, with greater emphasis on luxurious window designs. The architect at the forefront of this change was Joseph Paxton, who having already established himself with a number of grand European structures such as London's Crystal Palace, soon developed the great conservatory of Chatsworth House which is essentially a huge combination of an orangery and a glass house. This was an early design of the structure that we now commonly refer to as a conservatory; therefore a considerable amount of conservatory design is owed to orangeries.

Conservatories replaced orangeries in terms of popularity during the 20th century and soon became a popular addition to homes for people from all backgrounds. They are regarded as a valuable addition to a house due to their providing a living space enabling easy garden access. Conservatories have been developed to compliment a home through a shape and style not dissimilar from the style and shape of a house. In contrast, modern orangery designs retain their original appearance so that they appear as more of a house extension rather than a whole additional structure. This is evident from the brick construction of orangeries which is intended to make them subtly blend in with other common house materials.

This is the key difference between orangeries and conservatories, as the latter are supposed to look different from the rest of the home to instead resemble an outside room. This means that most conservatory designs have a definite outdoor aesthetic to them, which also makes them the better option for owners who want to maintain their use of protecting plant life from harsh climates. Orangeries are now arguably the more luxurious option because their lesser contemporary usage makes them appear more exclusive.

Orangeries and conservatories are still the most stylish and practical way to improve your home. For more information visit ahorangeries.co.uk.



Interior Design Courses: Job and Passion

1 March 2014

Becoming an interior designer (somebody who deals with the home furnishings) requires a lot of passion and dedication. It is also needed a knowledge and a competence which are not common, that must be put at the customers' service; the interior designer acquires them thanks to years of experience and attending training courses.

In order to be an interior designer it is also indispensable to be endowed with a natural and marked aesthetic sense which allows the creative and original professionist to associate interior glass doors with resistant parquet, wide and spacious windows with curtains that don't make them heavy, colours and original furniture which create all together environments with an impeccable taste, capable of satisfying
the client's requests.

So, personal inclinations that must be associated with an appropriate formation: for this aim, there are many courses ideated for the emergence of interior designers who are able to design and organise spaces in a rational but still harmonious way. At the end young interior designers are normally capable of
associating colours, molding settings giving each room an unmistakable aesthetic and cultural character.
Various in cost and duration, web helps good furniture lovers to realize their dream.

This five-stars profession, which got quite important during the last 20 year, is very esteemed: job opportunities certainly aren't missing; an interior designer can work in architecture ateliers, collaborate with furniture centers or companies that produce furniture, go about fittings for photography or cinematography studios, although the main job merge is always more frequently the one of freelance.

Provided with a web site and a public profile, the interior designer gets in contact with customer client rather easily: the professionist is asked to understand the essence of the house and its inhabitants needs. The most common request nowadays? To create the sensation of spacious and chic environments: the ideal is to separate rooms with interior glass doors and use wide windows which let seep a lot of natural light.



Getting Inspiration from Local Trades Shops

30 January 2014

It can be hard to know what to do with your home in terms of DIY. You can look through the glossy brochures, and the ideas laid out before you on glossy print all look fabulous. And yet, despite the aesthetic brilliance of the ideas laid out before you, you can't quite reconcile these ideas with the reality of your own home.

My advice is to get out of the house, and head down to your local trades shops and DIY centres. Talk to people. Get advice. Have a look at the materials - be it wallpaper, tiles, paint swatches, bathroom furniture, whatever. There's no substitute for actually seeing and touching the materials you may be using for your next DIY project.

Now, one thing I should have mentioned you should do before you leave your home. Bring photos of your home with you - even if they're just in your camera's memory, it's helpful to show these to the experts you'll be talking to. They can make suggestions based on the size of your rooms and the budget you're willing to spend.

A brochure shows you the ideals, but actually consulting with those who both sell DIY materials and carry out DIY jobs day in and day out, you can get some very useful advice on what to do next.

This article was brought to you by Tile Town Kitchen Tiles



Top 10 Wooden Worktop Tips

17 October 2013

1. Pick a style that suits you. Choose worktops to suit your kitchen and your personal tastes. Oak is and always will be a classic for wooden worktops. With its prominent grain pattern and warm feel, Oak is a must for traditional farmhouse style kitchens. For something bold yet beautiful, consider American Black Walnut. With its rich chocolate tones, American Black Walnut provides the perfect contrast to light units. Take a look at Maple for any kitchen where light is an issue. Pale and creamy but with a very pretty grain structure. Maple sands to a super smooth finish, readily reflecting every drop of light back from its surface.

2. Invest in quality. There are worktops to suit all budgets, from wide block style to full planked super stave, but it's worth remembering the old adage 'The quality remains long after the price is forgotten'. What seems cheap at the time may well be a false economy. If properly cared for, good quality wooden worktops will last a lifetime, and may even add value to your home should you come to sell.

3. Preparation is key. Wooden worktops require sealing before they can be used. The recommended treatment is worktop oil, such as Danish Oil or Finishing Oil. This creates a water resistant barrier on your worktops. If you are applying this yourself, it really is worth taking the time to do this thoroughly - it is the single best thing you can do for your worktops. Poor treatment now will only result in problems a few months down the line, do it well and the longevity of your worktops will be assured.4. A perfect fit. Before fitting wooden worktops ensure that any plastering which may have taken place is thoroughly dry and make sure the worktops have had plenty oil on all sides. When fixing the worktops to your kitchen units ensure a good number of fixing points, at least one on each corner. Use slotted expansion brackets to allow for small expansions and contractions with your wooden worktops.

5. Feed your worktops. As a guide, re-oil your worktops every six months or so. However, there is no 'correct' time period in which you must re-oil, just do it when your worktops are starting to lose their luster. A good test to tell if your worktops are losing their water resistant finish is when water stops 'beading' on the surface.

6. Treat your worktops with respect. Wooden worktops are pretty tough - a hot mug, for example, will do no damage at all, however, a little bit of care is needed when it comes to chopping and anything 'straight from the oven'. Hod rods are an option when dealing with hot pans. These are metal rods that sit in specially shaped grooves to act as a trivet. Hot rods can be easily lifted out of their grooves to allow for cleaning. The downside to hot rods is that their position is fixed. Another option is to use a wooden end grain chopping board. End grain is incredibly durable - it makes a great chopping surface that won't dull your knives. End grain also resists heat very well, so works great as a trivet for hot pans.

7. Gentle cleaning. A wooden worktop with an oiled finish is very easy to clean. Hot, soapy water is all that is needed. Wipe dry with a tea towel or cloth. Avoid any harsh abrasive cleaners or anything containing bleach.

8. Water water everywhere... A properly oiled surface on a wooden worktops will repel water just like a rain coat. Splashes and spills on an oiled wooden worktop are absolutely fine - just don't leave them there for hours on end. Under-mounted sinks are fine for wooden worktops. You can even have drainage grooves cut directly into your worktop - specially sloped to allow water to freely flow into the sink. A well oiled wooden worktop is water resistant but not waterproof - wipe up any pools of water as soon as you can to avoid any problems.

9. DIY repairs. Timber is a natural product and over time may be prone to slight movement. Small cracks may appear but these are nothing to worry about. They can be easily filled using hard wax fillers. Hard wax is available in many shades to suit different wooden worktops. The wax can be applied directly to the affected area by gently rubbing against the grain of the wood. You can also melt different shades of wax together to match the colour tone required, before applying. After this, gently rub the filled area back using either wire wool or sandpaper, or a combination of both, whichever suits best, and then re-oil the affected area.

10. Disaster recovery. If the worst happens and your wooden worktop become very badly scratched, dented or marked, they are very forgiving! One of the benefits of solid wooden worktops is they can be completely sanded down to bare wood removing any surface scratches and marks. Re-oil with a good quality worktop oil and your worktops will be good as new.

See more information and tips on Norfolk Oak Worktops.



Home and Garden Review: HireJungle.co.uk

17 August 2013

With the prolonged downturn in the economy (5 years and counting in the UK), people are still reluctant to spend on DIY related items - even though they have lots of plans for their home (dreaming up plans are free, fulfilling them, sadly not!).

But business wouldn't be business if it wasn't about answering a need. Hiring items - instead of buying them - is a much more viable option for cash-strapped home improvers. After all, how often do you need to use a pressure washer for your patio for example?

When someone asked me to review HireJungle.co.uk, it struck me when looking through their hire home and garden section, just how few items we use regularly. Most DIY jobs are one-offs anyway, so you might find that the specialist equipment you bought to carry out the job just gathers dust in your garage, never to be used again. Why not hire it?

So I looked through www.hirejungle.co.uk as if I was a regular home owner looking to improve my home. Not only did I find all kinds of equipment for hire, but also ads for tradesmen / handymen too, and private classifieds - all in one place.

As is often the case when browsing such sites - and being given so much information - you do get inspired.

However, it's not just for those looking for items - you can post your own classified ads too - making it a unique "hire" marketplace. It's free to post your ad, but you can pay if you want it featured (so more people see it).

Hire Jungle already boasts 1 million registered users, so there's enough activity on the site to help you find what you're looking for - be it a garden tool to hire, a plumber, or customers if you are offering a home and garden service.

In the end, such a site is as valuable as its userbase. An active and large userbase will make a site more useful. I could see by the depth and breadth of the content published on hirejungle.co.uk that it would certainly be a site I'd bookmark and return to on a regular basis.




How to Add Value to Your Property When the Housing Market is Flat

6 June 2013

Despite estate agents, the government and construction companies "talking up" the housing market, anyone who has tried to sell a home outside of London in the last 3 or 4 years knows the market is flat. House prices have either fallen or remained stagnant (depending on the area you live in). London house prices skew the averages and creates a false impression things aren't as bad as they really are. The Help to Buy scheme being launched by the government (for first time buyers) is a surefire sign things aren't going that well at the moment.

What if you want to sell your home to buy a bigger home? That's what the property ladder is all about isn't it? Yes it is. Young couples tend to buy a small home, then with an increase in their house price, trade it in for a bigger home a few years later with perhaps a very small mortgage to pay for any shortfall or even not have to take out any loan if they move to an area with lower house prices. However, sellers now realise they're not going to make a profit on their home in the current market, so how can you climb up the property ladder? You add value to your home. Home improvements are a great investment. For example, £20,000 of home improvements might yield a £30,000-£35,000 increase in your home's value. When it comes to such projects, don't skimp on materials. Use only the most durable, high quality materials you can find. Take flooring as an example - materials like solid oak flooring or engineered oak flooring will please any house surveyor.

Finally, advice to first time buyers: it may be wise to seek a property that is a little too big for your current needs. As counterintuitive as it might sound, it can save you trying to claw up the property ladder in such a flat housing market. It may mean compromising a lot more on where you want to live, however.



Making the Most Of Your Garden With Stairs Access

9 May 2013

When's the last time you stepped out in your garden? When we surveyed a number of people and asked this question, we got a lot of surprising answers. Overwhelmingly, we found out that the garden space is under-utilised. For many, it's a place you stare out to from inside of their home.

Our natural follow-up question to such people was rather obvious - so why don't you get out into your garden more? For sure, the weather was a rather expected answer. Inclement weather was the number one reason as to why people neglected to get out into the garden. But the second most popular answer was far more interesting: people felt that their garden was simply not very accessible. Access was only from one door that - in their minds - became an access point that just never got used. The less you used it, the less you saw it as an access point to the garden. Such side-doors (which is the least utilised door in a house) are seen more of a security weakness with the house rather than access to the garden. And so they remain locked for much of the year. Also, corrosion on the door locks (or hinges) can make such rarely-used doors difficult to open - another excuse to leave it permanently shut.

But what if you had DIRECT access to your garden from a staircase like this one here - allowing you access even from your upper floor? It would make your garden a natural extension of your house rather than the awkward-to-access area it may be right now. Of course, you'd want to find a space-saving staircase to minimise its footprint, and you would need to ensure it uses non-corrosive materials. But with such access to your garden, you could really make the most of your garden.



Choosing the Right Style of Home for Your Family

2 January 2013

While many of you looking to purchase a house to make it into a home, may already know what style you have in mind, there are so many different styles available in the market, that it makes sense to understand them before you take the final step of purchasing one. While shopping for a house, you need to narrow down your choices to only those styles that are most suitable for your family. There’s no point really in having fallen in love with a house style, that isn’t suitable to your needs.

The UK has a wide range of house styles, many of which are period styles. Some new formats have sprung up in modern times too. Here’s a breakdown of the types that we most commonly see in the UK:

Detached: These homes as the name suggest are unattached buildings, without any adjoining walls to any other building. They usually have their own garden and would probably have a garage too

Semi Detached: These houses share an adjoining wall with another property. They usually come with a small front and a larger rear garden. A father and son architectural partnership are credited with the design of the semi-detached sometime in the 19th century.

Terraced homes: Although terraced houses were hallmarks of Georgian architecture, by early Victorian period, they had taken the shape of individual homes that repeated the design, joined together in rows.
Georgian architecture is characterised by being much grander than Victorian, which is seen as being more practical. Terraced houses are separated from each other by two partially adjoining walls. So, an end terrace would be separated from just one other house through the adjoining wall.

Mews House: This style originated sometime in the 17thcentury when housing quarters were created out of old stables or carriage houses. They are usually located in wealthy districts and can be very expensive.

Apartments: Apartments or flats are self contained units, mostly located on one floor, though in some cases, they can be spread over two floors. Apartments can be purpose built or at times can be converted from a larger house. This style is quite popular with singletons and is commonly seen in city centre areas.

Bunglows: Bungalows became popular in the UK sometime just after the First World War, many being built in coastal areas. These houses are characterized by being single storey and can be detached as well as semi detached. They can be quite popular with the elderly population.

Period Properties:
A number of houses in the UK have been conserved beautifully over the years. These houses are named after the period in which they are built. They are namely :-
Studio Apartments: These are flats that are made of one room demarcated into a small living area, a sleeping area, a small kitchen and a bathroom. They are best suited for a single person as they are quite cramped.

So here’s an outline of the types of houses you have to your disposal in making the most important purchase of your life. This is not an exhaustive list of styles of course, but is a starting point for your research in understanding house types in the UK.

This blog article is presented by Doordeals, a UK based supplier of standard and customized internal doors.




How We Enjoy Our Spanish Garden

31 October 2012

We have a summer house in Spain and we've kitted it out with all the latest garden furniture. I love spending as much time as possible outdoors where we live (just outside Barcelona) - we live here in the spring and autumn seasons, away from the cooler climes of my native United Kingdom. In our Spanish property, we have rattan garden furniture - our garden can often resemble what some people have described as an "outdoor living room" with chairs, tables, even a TV and parasol to keep us shaded under the reliable Spanish sun.

Of course, this summer was particularly bad in the UK so we didn't spend much time in the garden when we were back in Blighty. However, the garden furniture stays in our conservatory so we can still enjoy the light evenings with a glass of wine and lots of lovely summer evening ambience there. We have considered staying in Spain through the summer but it just gets TOO hot there during that time. We prefer the cooler temperatures and longer evenings of the UK.

My advice to those with a fairly large garden is to keep it as natural as you can, and maximise the space for lawn and growths. I eschewed the idea of making a patio and instead had a larger lawn area. I bring out my garden furniture onto our lawn when the sun shines - I feel more a part of my garden that way. When the weather's inclement, the furniture returns to our conservatory.

On a good summer's day, I can practically spend the whole time out in the garden.

More useful garden tips and advice can be found on www.outdoorlivinguk.co.uk.



Why CO2 Is So Important When Growing Using Hydroponics

22 May 2012

t is widely accepted that plants and humans have a symbiotic relationship. Humans use oxygen and create CO2 (carbon dioxide) and plants use CO2 and emit oxygen in the atmosphere. It is frequently suggested that talking to your plant life helps them to grow and this could be attributable to the discharge of CO2 by us direct onto the leaves which boosts their intake of CO2 which in turn increases growth, by improving photosynthesis.

Now in the natural world CO2 is all about plants and they develop effectively, yet hydroponic growing is different because it does not entail the usage of soil, and alternatively uses water and nutrients to enable plant growth. Nonetheless this would entirely be fruitless if the CO2 level in the space was not at the correct level. Less CO2 means less growth for the plants and thus additional CO2 means extra growth.

The amount of CO2 existing in air is about 400-450 ppm (parts per million), and so if one increased the volume of CO2 where plants are grown hydroponically one should presume further growth in produce. However as with a lot of things in life it is not really as straightforward as that. Having too much CO2 can also be detrimental to plant growth. So that's where the gadgets come in. CO2 meters can be purchased from any hydroponic supplier and measure the level of CO2 in your grow room. You will find various ways of elevating the amount of CO2 in your hydroponic system but which you choose will depend on the dimensions of your shed or room.

The following is a basic summary of the most popular methods.

CO2 Control Unit - These are units that measure the amount of CO2 in the room and can be set to increase venting from the outside to increase the amount of CO2 up to the level you want. Monitors the level of CO2 and switches on vents as required hence increases automation of the system.Can be expensive depending on what system you decide to go for.

CO2 boosts - These are a range of substances that can be added to the system and generate CO2.Reasonably inexpensive. Best applied half an hour after the lights are switched on, or half an hour before they are turned off. Vents cannot be employed as they are going to get rid of the produced CO2. Which might be problematic if the temperature has risen. Might be difficult to regulate the levels of CO2 obtained depending on the amount added.

CO2 Canisters - A CO2 canister can be used to boost the amount of CO2 controllers can be used to release the gas when it gets to a lower amount. More appropriate for more substantial hydroponics units.Must be used during the light period and the fans should not be used otherwise the CO2 released will be removed from the room. Expensive and entails time and effort in acquiring the canisters and getting them refilled. Can be weighty but are easily bought in aluminium canisters to reduce this.

About the author
Sarah has and operates a store and online store selling all Hydroponics UK supplies. For additional info please visit Hydroponics Yorkshire



Vacuum Cleaner Bags: a Common Issue

17 May 2012

It's not always as simple as this of course, but more often than not, a problem will have a simple solution. I know, it would help if we could define simple really wouldn't it? Well, as sweeping a statement as the opening line of this article includes, there is a lot to be said for looking at a problem in depth as you may be pleasantly surprised to discover that what appeared to be a complete disaster at first glance is actually not that big a deal when you focus in on the individual issues.

Imagine if you will that you've fallen from your bike for the very first time as a kid. Sure, the landing wasn't too pleasant and you may have been left a little shaken by the whole incident but you're probably more concerned about your bike, no? Why did it stop working? As a child we tend to assume the worst and if you had never before experienced something as simple and as fixable as a chain coming off a bike, you'd no doubt assume that it was broken beyond repair and that you would need a replacement. Well, as adults, many of us still act in this fashion and it's nothing to be ashamed of, in fact it makes sense really as few of us will be overly familiar with the finer workings of a vacuum cleaner.

So, your vacuum cleaner just won't work. You've tried everything, seemingly, but it just doesn't pick up dirt any more. Surely the only answer is to pick up a replacement right? Perhaps, but before you do have you considered vacuum cleaner bags? Yes, we've all done it, but sometimes bags can be clean but still have damage from wear and tear so it simply will not do its job, rendering it pretty much useless. This can be hugely frustrating, but it really is a very solvable problem. Thanks to websites such as Ransom Spares, replacement Vacuum Cleaner bags can be picked up for very little, particularly when you consider how much a replacement cleaner would cost!

Of course, there is no shame in not understanding the finer aspects of your machine, but knowing that vacuum cleaner bags are a common problem, might just save you plenty pennies!

This article is bought to you by Ransom Spares, helping customers save thousands by fixing their own appliances.



Bring Spring Into Your Home With Some Flowers

12 May 2012

Well as I write this, the sun is shining down on me in the UK, and that's quite remarkable considering the washout we had in April (the wettest on record). The only thing I miss about my current home is that we don't have much of a garden to speak of. I do love the springtime - the colours, the light, the feeling of re-generation. So if I don't have a garden outside, I can bring into my home the best spring has to offer - lovely flowers!

I love decoarting my house with flowers - in fact, I have a regime of watering them all every morning - you could call me an indoor gardener of sorts! I buy a lot of my flowers at the local florist, but when I'm gift buying flowers, I tend to send flowers online to my friends and family, since it's just a lot more convenient.

With Mother's Day coming up, I have a few Mother's Day flowers 2012 ideas already for my dear old mum.

I think in my not so humble opinion, I'm a positive influence on my family and friends, since I've noticed my own love of flowers in the home has extended to my sister, and a good friend of mine - unprompted by me - has started decorating her house with flowers too.

Perhaps the greatest thing I love about flowers is that they mark seasons so well. I only use perennials through the lonely dark winter months, but in spring and summer, it's the short-lived seasonal flowers I love to have in my home.



On Giving My House a Complete Overhaul

21 April 2012

I inherited my house from my parents, and most of the furniture harks back to the 60s and 70s. It's a testiment to the craftsmanship back then in regards to how they've weathered they years. However, I must just state the obvious here - they just look so dated. When people visit me, I can sense they're feeling as if they're stepping back into the past somewhat. The trouble with me is I'm no DIY enthusiast or home-maker, but even I am feeling forced to sell the old things and bring in new sticks of furniture - a new bed, new lockers, new curtains, carpets, filing cabinets and storage cabinets (which I actually bought myself 15 or so years ago), and certainly new wallpaper.

But it doesn't just mean a change in furniture. That's actually the easier part of this makeover. I'm going to need to look at the downstairs plan. The kitchen is just too small, and I never use the dining room at all. I want to knock the wall down between the two and create a bigger kitchen. I do enjoy cooking but I need my space so a bigger kitchen will really help here.

I live on my own so I'll certainly need help with the kitchen makeover, and some help with shifting the furniture around. Still, I need to drag this house somehow into the 21st century.



How To Make Your Garden Into A Summer Haven

19 April 2012

After March's hot weather, people are looking forward to the summer and wondering what they can do to make sure they make the most of the sunshine. Many gardens across the UK will have suffered the wrath of a cold winter, leaving plants dead and paving stones damaged. People who have thought ahead will have planted their bulbs in the autumn and their flowers will now be blossoming. However, if you did not think ahead, you can always visit your local garden centre to buy some already potted plants. If your plants are sorted, it is time to start thinking about how you can make your garden a comfortable place to spend warm summer evenings.

Teak furniture is a good investment to make for any garden. Summer weather is unpredictable and if a rain shower suddenly appears, teak wood will not be damaged by the water. An essential piece of garden furniture is a teak bench, providing a place to sit and have a glass of wine. A bench does not take up much space so it is especially useful if you have a small garden as it can be pushed against the wall of the house or against a garage. Taking cushions from the sofa out onto the bench will provide extra comfort if you want to spend a long period of time sat outside.

If you have a lot of space in your garden and want to give it a more tropical feel, teak loungers are good to have. If you have a south facing garden that receives a lot of sun you will benefit from having loungers. It is easy to spend a Saturday afternoon sun bathing and drinking wine when you can properly relax in your own garden. A small garden table between two loungers means you can keep everything you need with you, from a bottle of sun tan cream to your favourite book.

If you want to fully furnish your garden, teak tables and chairs are available. People try to fit in as many barbeques as they can over the summer and teak dining furniture will provide you with a comfortable place so sit and eat.

Whether you have a small garden and are just looking for one or two small items of furniture such as benches and coffee tables, or if you have a huge garden and want to hold garden parties, teak furniture is ideal for everyone as it does not have to be moved inside during the winter and it provides a comfortable place to enjoy your summer.

This article was written by Ed at Home Life Direct.



Spring Home Improvements

5 April 2012

Sometimes the annual spring cleanjust is not enough. The season of transformation may inspire some homeowners to go one step further and make some real changes about the house – both internally and externally.

Painting
A new coat of paint is the easiest way to make an instantly noticeable change. Moving from a dark colour to a lighter shade allows more light to be reflected, brightening up the immediate area.

Exterior surfaces
If painting exterior surfaces, take into consideration the weather and your own safety. Hire a mobile tower or scaffolding rather than working from ladders. Clean exterior surfaces and make sure that they are relatively smooth and solid before painting. Seal surfaces with a masonry paint primer before applying the top coat. Wooden surfaces should be sanded down and pre-painted with a primer and undercoat. Once dry, add several top coats of gloss.

Interior surfaces
When painting interior surfaces, the key consideration is preventing paint from finding its way onto other objects. If possible, move everything from the room being painted or use dust sheets to cover everything. Use an infrared heater to help speed up the drying process.

New garden path
Changing the route through a garden alters your perspective of it. If your garden has a line of mud from where you have deviated from the pre-existing path, then it is probably time to install a new one.
The easiest and cheapest way to create a new path is by using mulch or gravel. These substances need a border to prevent them from spreading laterally. Plastic landscaping edging is the cheapest, but brick or stone are the most appealing visually.

Garage maintenance
The garage is an often overlooked part of a property. By giving it an annual inspection, any nascent problems can be prevented from becoming serious. Remove all contents and check for damp patches on the wall or roof, as these may indicate a leak.

Check metal surfaces for signs of rust. If any is found, sand it down and apply a water-based latex paint designed to prevent it from spreading. Get rid of any unnecessary junk from the garage and make sure that all essentials – tool box, jump start kit, spare tyres, car jack – are in working order.

Replacing doors
The wrong style of interior door can ruin an otherwise delightful room. Thankfully, replacing a door is a relatively simple project. The first thing to do is to make some practical considerations. Should the new door have a window in it to allow extra light? Does it need to be a fire door? How much insulation should it provide?

Style-wise, the choice is between panel doors, moulded doors and flush doors. When the old door has been removed, measure the width and height of the doorframe in a number of places – this will make fitting the new door far easier.




Stopping the British Weather Ruining Your Gatherings: How to Choose the Right Patio Heater

29 March 2012

With the weather hard to rely on especially during the Summer months, it's no wonder patio heaters remain so popular in the UK.

Choosing the right one, however, can be a minefield in itself.

According to Simply Patio Heaters.co.uk the key is narrowing down your requirements right from the start.

"Sometimes overlooked but think about the space you want heated. Also have you got a place for a full-size commercial heater?

A 16kw gas patio heater, for instance, has an 80cm," John Mitchell from the internet retailer advises."Those heaters would generate warmth for an area of around 9 metres in diameter."

John adds that a tabletop patio heater might be more suitable if you are only having small gatherings. A wall mounted heater might be better if you have pets or small children.

As well as the difference in size, potential customers also need to decide on whether to buy gas or electric. Electric heaters do not need gas cylinders but do need to plugged in. This means the heater has to be near a socket and there is a potential for wires to become a trip hazards.

Gas patio heaters can however be moved around but cylinders need changing. How frequently depends on use but a typical gas patio heater could use between 0.4 - 0.9kg of gas per hour

Safety
Patio heaters are very safe, according to John. They often come with sturdy safety features but it makes sense that you purchase one with an automatic shut-off in case they become overheated or are tipped over.

"That all said they are unlikely to tip over unless there are high winds and it would be sensible then to take inside. Some retailers will sell spares for the patio heater if it becomes damaged."

There is also another difference to look out for - whether you can regulate heat.

"It's certainly one to watch - some patio heater do not allow you to turn heat up or down. Some will only reach a certain output, typically 13KW but it makes sense to buy one which produces 16KW, which allows you to regulate heat. After all you can't turn up heat if it's already at maximum."

The key is to find a patio heater to suit your requirements. Consider how much space you want to heat and whether you want electric or gas. More information on patio heaters can be found at http://www.simplypatioheaters.co.uk




On Planning Compliant Log Cabins

17 March 2012

From late 2010, the local planning regulations in relation to our door structures were changed to include garden sheds, log cabins and summer houses.

This was mainly due to the fact that in the the UK we have seen a lot of out-buildings being converted to illegal living accommodation - basically bits of sheds and garages have been turned into bed sits! Apart from being unsightly, they look down-right dangerous. Who knows if the wiring has been installed correctly or that the plumbing and waste water is not being dumped into some one else's property ?

So to combat this blight on the landscape the local planning regulations were changed to try and make it simple to understand what you can and can not do with an outside structure such as a log cabin.

Although it all sounds rather complex, don't worry it is not. If you do a Google search for "planning portal" or "local planning regulations" or "planning compliant log cabins" - it will give you a number of good sites full of relevant information. But if you are in any doubt simple call your local planning office and they will always advise you on what to do.

As a general guide your new building must not exceed 2.5m in overall height and not be more the 30 square meters in total floor space.

With our own log cabins, we have made this whole process simple by manufacturing a selection of Interlocking Timber Buildings and Sectional Timber Buildings to save you the hassle of working out the total floor space. At uk-logcabins.co.uk, our team of experts have over 35 years of experience with timber buildings, and are always on hand via telephone on 0151 709 0969. We offer you free advise on any matter concerning sectional or interlocking timber buildings for home or commercial use.




Some Tips to Help You Relocate to Majorca

Majorca (also spelt as Mallorca) is a beautiful balearic island that is a popular tourist destination for many - meaning the property on the island is much sought-after. But why do people want to live in Majorca? A few reasons:- But before you look at ANY property for sale in Majorca, you should first of all take a holiday there, soak up the atmosphere, talk to expats, get a feel for the place. You might think that's obvious, but you wouldn't believe the number of people who buy property in a location they've never even been too! They get carried away by a sense of adventure and buy on a whim. You need to imagine yourself living there, and think to yourself if Majorca is for YOU. Only going there first of all will tell you that.

Two other points that will make relocation easier:-

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