Is your home winter-ready?

Is your home winter-ready?

 

With the cold weather beginning to creep in, it’s time to ensure your home is winter-ready. According to the Met Office, 5.4 million British households experienced weather-related damage in the last five years, some of which having costs of up to £5,000. So buckle down the hatches, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Test the boiler

If your boiler is still relatively new, you won’t have anything to worry about but if it’s been knocking around for a while, now is the time to check it. Boilers commonly break down in winter and can cost up to £1,000 to replace. Shockingly, around two in three households have never had their boilers serviced.

Wind damage

Britain has been experiencing its fair share of storms recently, with Storm Brian recently wreaking havoc throughout the country. Now is the time to check the stability of trees in your garden and the tiles on the roof of your house. If you don’t, you could wake up one morning with a hole in your roof!

Freezing pipes

Numb fingers, numb toes and frozen pipes are all possibilities in winter. Not many of us realise how important it is to insulate outside pipes and safeguard them from freezing. Frozen pipes can crack and cause all sort of havoc in the form of flooding your home and leaving it without water.

Water damage

It is important to locate your stoptap in case of a water-related emergency. A stoptap can turn off the flow of water throughout your house in case of an imminent flood. They are usually located under the kitchen sink and sometimes in a cupboard, garage or cellar.

 

Have you got any top tips on how to winter-proof your home, let us know in the comments below.

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How to make your home spook-tacular for Halloween

How to make your home spook-tacular for Halloween

It’s time to make the most of this spooky month and, seeing as we’re halfway through October, what better time to look for some spine-tingling inspiration to get your home ready for All Hallows Eve.

So sit back, grab your broomstick and release your inner Addams Family ready for our top home accessory picks – if you dare!

 

Halloween Pumpkin Bauble Fairy Lights / £10.99 / TESCO Direct

 

Image credit: Tesco

Image credit: Tesco

These gloriously ghoulish pumpkins make a cosy addition to any Halloween home. Drape across the fireplace for a warm seasonal glow, or hang on your windows on the 31st to welcome Trick-or-Treaters.

Large Silver Terracotta Pumpkin / £5 / Wilko

 

Image credit: Wilko

Image credit: Wilko

 

Pumpkins. We like to think of them as the Christmas Tree of Halloween – who’s with us? If you are looking for a pumpkin that you can use every year then this silver-effect candle holder is the perfect addition to a spooky home.

Large Halloween Glass Skull with Cork / £5 / John Lewis

 

Image credit: John Lewis

 

Looking for a gothic alternative to the humble wine glass when hosting your fabulous Halloween party this year? Surprise your guests with these eccentric glass skulls, great for holding whatever delicious cocktail you are planning. If you find them too pretty to use as drinkware then they make fantastic table pieces.

 

Autumnal Wreath / £30 / John Lewis

 

Image credit: John Lewis

 

Who said wreaths can only be used at Christmas? We love this seasonal addition that could easily feature in the location of one of our favourite Disney films, ‘Halloween Town’ (no, we haven’t forgotten Hocus Pocus).

 

Autumn Garland / £12.25(+shipping) / Etsy

 

Image credit: Etsy

Image credit: Etsy

How glorious is this autumnal garland? Handmade with alternating ¾ inch mustard, cream, pumpkin, brown and moss balls – these will add a dash of colour to your fireplace or shelves. We are in love!

How do you like to decorate your home for Halloween? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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Five Houseplants that will see you through winter
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Five Houseplants that will see you through winter

  1. Poinsettia

The poinsettia is an absolute Christmas classic (yes we did just mention the festive season).

Its vibrant hue will brighten up any room in the house, especially when placed strategically on windowsills to offset those harsh winter whites. Easier to maintain than is often made out, poinsettias just need to be shielded from the cold on your way home from the shop, and kept warm but not too hot when inside.

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  1. The Christmas Cactus

When the November sleet gets you down, and the reality of winter is setting in, welcome the tropical Christmas cactus into your home. The Christmas cactus, or Schlumberga as it is also known, remains green for most of the year, but when Christmas comes around this plant gets in the seasonal spirit by sprouting purple, red, orange and white blooms. To ensure the Christmas cactus lives up to its name, make sure you provide the plant with twelve hours of darkness a night in the month leading up to the big day.

christmas-cactus-277691_1280

  1. Kalanchoe

Kalanchoes grow in small bell-shapes in a variety of colours. Walking through the door to a warm bouquet of reds and pinks will instantly brighten your mood on a cold day. A bonus is that Kalanchoes are low maintenance houseplants, taking autumnal mornings in their stride.

kalanchoe-1327161_1280

  1. Jerusalem Cherry

This bushy, evergreen shrub is the perfect addition to your houseplant collection. The Jerusalem cherry blooms small, long-lasting berries in the winter, ushering life and vitality into your home. These cheery, squat houseplants need to be kept in a humid setting and benefit from being watered twice a week. A word of warning: these poisonous fruits should be for decorative purposes only as ingesting them could lead to serious illness – not what you need during the party season!

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  1. Holly

It may not be the season to be jolly quite yet, but it is almost essential to welcome Holly into your home during the autumn/winter season. The plant’s waxy, pointed leaves and red berries bring seasonal joy wherever they rest, and can certainly be an eye-catching botanical centrepiece for your home. Hollies require thoroughly drained, acidic soil and proper exposure to sunlight to thrive indoors.

pexels-photo-235311

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The Blogger Edit – RVK Loves

The Blogger Edit – RVK Loves

If striking colour choices, vintage finds combined with contemporary pieces, and sociable open plan living is your favourite style of interior decor then ideas from our latest Inspiration Gallery blogger will be right up your street.

Award-winning interiors and lifestyle blogger, Rebecca Sterling (aka RVK Loves), has kindly invited us into her beautiful home, and we have to admit – we are pretty amazed by it!

Mixing her love of flowers, travel, styling and photography, you can find Rebecca over on her Instagram channel (@rvk_loves) as well as on her blog, Roses & Rosstops’.

Check out Rebecca’s interior vision over on our latest Inspiration Gallery here  – but be careful, it’ll make you want to decorate your entire house again!

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The Mustard Trend – Our Top Five Picks

The Mustard Trend – Our Top Five Picks

One of our favourite colours used throughout 2017 has been the stunning mustard trend that came straight off the Spring/Summer catwalk and straight into our homes.

From luxurious throws to striking mid-century style furniture, let’s take a peek at how you can incorporate this look into your seasonal décor with our top autumnal picks…

Mustard Throw / IKEA / £15

must 1

Image credit: IKEA

This cosy throw would look fantastic mixed with a navy colour palette. If you’re a Farrow and Ball fan then ‘Hague Blue’ is the paint choice to go for. Team with mustard accessories and vintage furniture for a bold, Scandinavian vibe.

Floor Lamp / MADE / £79

must 1

Image Credit: MADE

Lights…camera…ACTION! Combining industrial chic with sleek modern design, this statement lamp is the perfect on-trend design for those looking for a minimalist movie star home appearance.

Armchair / Maisons Du Monde / £145.50

must 1

Image Credit: Maisons Du Monde

Described as ‘cocoon-like and cosy’ this fabulously retro armchair is the perfect brightly coloured addition to your living room. We particularly like this matched with grey walls. Try Dulux ‘Tranquil Retreat’ for an affordable yet stylish hue.

Moroccan Tile Lampshade / Not On The High Street / £45

must 1

Image Credit: Not On The High Street

If mid-century modern isn’t your preference, take a look at this vibrant Moroccan lamp from Not on the High Street. A contemporary take on North African patterns, this lampshade would look stunning with teal, royal blue or soft pinks. Who said we need to say goodbye to summer so soon?

World Map / Etsy / £6.46

must 1

Image Credit: Etsy

Been on an amazing gap year? Or are you simply lusting over travelling the world one day? If you’re looking for a cool and modern style without waiting for delivery, this digital print is just a snip at £6.46. Where is your dream destination?

Are you embracing the mustard trend this season? Let us know what you have been loving in the comments below!

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Bringing autumn into your Home

Bringing autumn into your Home

There’s no denying that ‘winter is coming’, and while it may be hard to let go of the last whimsical days of summer, welcoming Autumn style into your home is an experience second to none. We’ve compiled our five favourite ways to do this without breaking the bank.

  1. Lighting

The first step to bringing an autumnal vibe to your home is to fill it with candles. As the days grow shorter, reach for a match instead of the light-switch and your house will soon be filled with a gentle glowing light that is quintessentially autumn. Pleasantly scented candles also have the added bonus of filling the house with all sorts of wonderful scents.

If you’re not one for the maintenance that comes with having to replace candles, lampshades with soft fabrics such as linen can create that gentle light that will dramatically change the feel of your home. The perfect atmosphere for blankets and ‘Bake-Off’!

lighting autumn

  1. Textures

A change in textures around your home can make a huge difference to the atmosphere, and actually have a very practical use. When buying a few, seasonal pieces, focus on picking up warm fabrics, such as a shag pile rug, or velvet cushions. Having a more inviting and cosy vibe to your home will not only bring out a different look, but will also make staying warm during the colder months a lot easier, with items such as a cable knit wool blankets, faux fur cushions or sheep skin rugs adding a texture that retains the precious warmth we all crave.

 

  1. Dishware and Serving Pieces

Copper seems to be that autumn trend that returns without fail every single year, and the easiest way to incorporate these beautiful tones into your home is often by swapping your lighter, summer dishware and serving pieces for this timeless, seasonal option. Kettles, bowls, mugs and even silverware can be changed into ‘copperware’. Thankfully this has been a huge trend in 2017 so you won’t struggle to find some fabulous pieces on the high street!

pumpkin

  1. Scents

As the seasons change, the scents that we use in our homes will change too. Switching from summery florals to deeper, warmer scents can completely revamp the ambience of your home. Amber, musk and cinnamon spices are just a few different options that scream autumn, and can be incorporated into almost every space in your home. Candles, diffusers, soaps and potpourri only just scratch the surface of the vast selections available. However, we do recommend that when choosing these scented products for your home, you try to stick with a single scent per room, or even for your entire house.

 

  1. Festive Accents

While putting up your Christmas tree during September might be a little early, this doesn’t mean you need to completely shy away from any festive touches to your home décor when autumn comes to visit. A neutral colour palate with pops of warm colour and themed items such as decorative pumpkins, or even a bowl of pine cones taps into that festive feel without you being branded as the one person in the neighbourhood who welcomes Christmas three months too early.

 

 

Are you looking forward to autumn? From pumpkin-spiced lattes to cosy nights in front of the fire – let us know what you are craving most this season!

 

 

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Dealing with home insurance as a first time buyer

 

You’ve secured the mortgage, paid the fees, and you have chosen your dream first home, but the work isn’t over once you move in. After the challenging experience of first time buying, insurance can often take a back seat. Here’s some helpful guidance on choosing home insurance and how it will protect your new investment.

What is home insurance?

Home insurance is often split into two parts – building and contents insurance. Put simply, building cover insures damage to your physical property (the bricks

house floodand mortar) from unfortunate and unforeseen events such as fire, flooding and weather damage. In places which have high risk of weather damage, such as flooding, your choice of insurance providers may be limited and premiums may be more expensive.

Contents insurance covers all of your belongings, from your laptop to your fridge, and protects them from potential theft, loss or damage.

Do I have to have it?

While you pay off your mortgage your home is technically still “borrowed” from your mortgage lender, therefore they will most probably require you to take out building insurance to protect their investment. However, you don’t need to use your mortgage lender to obtain your insurance. Shop around to compare coverage, there are plenty of price comparison sites such as Confused.com that can help guide you.

How much is my home worth?

It’s highly important to get the right type of cover for your home, so giving your insurance company truthful and accurate answers, when they ask you questions, is essential. Your insurance company will most likely ask you the rebuild cost of your home, which means how much it would cost in total to build your home from scratch again. Many people get a surveyor to help calculate this amount; however you can get an accurate estimate by using the Buildings Cost Information Service’s free online calculator.

Contents insurance is slightly easier; you just need to estimate the worth of all of your valuable property. Money Supermarket has a great online calculator to help you calculate the value of your property.

Do I need to update my insurance?

Planning on a fancy extension? Or dreaming of a spectacular loft conversion? You’ll need to have a chat with your insurer as any changes to your home may affect the rebuild cost. If you don’t change your policy to match any changes and you become underinsured, you may be left to pay the extra if anything was to happen to your home.

Are you a recent first time buyer and have any helpful advice on home insurance? Pop your tips in the comments below.

 

Image Credits: Wikimedia

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Understanding Stamp Duty

You hardly need reminding that it’s tough to to be a first time buyer. But one problem – and it just happens to be Britain’s oldest tax – has become easier.house

This is of course Stamp duty, originating in the 17th century and imposed to cover the cost of registering a change in ownership at a government office called the Land Registry.

This process requires a stamped certificate from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs – the tax man to you and me – but HMRC will provide this only when the duty is paid.

So how is it easier?

Well, stamp duty used to be charged on a ‘slab’ basis. So buying a home for £250,000 meant you paid the old charge of one per cent duty on the full price, making it £2,500.

But if you bought, say, a £260,000 home you would have been in the old three per cent category applied across the whole price – so the duty would become a whopping £7,800.

This slab system was considered unfair and a disincentive for buyers. Therefore stamp duty in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is today levied like income tax.

Up to £125,000 it’s zero, and over £125,000 to £250,000 it’s two per cent. Then from over £250,000 to £925,000 it is five per cent.

On that £260,000 home you therefore today pay no duty up to £125,000, then two per cent above £125,000 to £250,000, and then five per cent above £250,000 to £260,000.

It adds up to just £3,000 and in this example saves you £4,800.

There are a few exceptions to stamp duty – but don’t raise your hopes.

There’s no duty at all on zero-carbon homes (but these are rare) while some Right To Buy properties, where tenants purchase their council home, have reduced duty. In Scotland, stamp duty doesn’t exist but there is Land and Building Transaction Tax which is roughly similar and means that north of the border, our £260,000 home would cost £2,600 in LBTT.

Across the rest of Britain buyers of almost all homes sold for above £125,000 have no choice but to pay stamp duty within 30 days of moving in.

In reality, it happens quicker because it’s handled by your conveyancer – that’s the expert you will have instructed to handle legal elements of the purchase.

Sometimes a mortgage lender may offer to add the stamp duty to the loan for the house. It sounds tempting but try to resist: saving for stamp duty may be tough but it will cost less than adding it to a mortgage on which you repay not just the loan itself but interest as well.

One final thing – it’s always buyers who pay stamp duty. That’s not really unfair because as you move up the ladder and sell up, so someone will pay duty to buy from you.

 As the saying goes ‘What goes around, comes around.’

Image Credit: Geograph

graham norwood

Author Bio

This article was provided exclusively to First Home News by Graham Norwood, a successful journalist who specialises in writing about residential property. Read Graham’s blog at Property News Hound or follow him on Twitter.

 

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How to make your home pet friendly

Many landlords have strict ‘no pets’ policies meaning renters are forced to live without a furry, loyal companion in their home. Once you become a homeowner, you may therefore be tempted to rush into buying a pet, but there are many factors you need to consider before you adopt a Pug or Labrador! The main one being ‘is my home pet friendly?’ Here’s what you need to do to make sure it is…

Fur babies

  • A good rule of thumb when pet-proofing your house is to use similar health and safety measures as those you’d use for a baby or toddler. From hiding electric cables behind appliances to not leaving lit candles out, do a risk assessment around your home and try to spot all potential hazards!
  • Putting child locks on your kitchen cupboards can prevent a variety of incidents! Many every day food items, such as grapes or chocolate, are highly toxic to dogs so it is essential you lock your cupboards to avoid tragedy.
  • If you hpugave a small or young pet, invest in a child’s stair gate to avoid any nasty falls as they learn how to navigate the steps. Alternatively, you can pop it on your kitchen door to keep out any hungry pups!

Decorate for your dogs

  • Cream carpets and expensive sofas may be your décor of choice, but with a pet (especially a dog!) it may prove less than practical. Good quality wooden flooring or tiles are much easier to clean, especially when house training, and doesn’t show up those pesky dog hairs!
  • When buying a new sofa, make sure you get one with removable covers so they are easy to clean. Choosing a natural colour is also great at hiding that summer fur shedding.

Glorious garden

  • Your garden should be your pet’s paradise. Be sure that it is completely safe by making it fully fenced, with no gaps and potential repair work needing to be done. This not only protects your pet from escaping, but also lowers the risk of your beloved friend being stolen.
  • Prevent a tragedy by making sure your garden is also completely poison-free. Avoid putting down slug pellets and look out for any hazardous plants that could make your pet ill, even cocoa chips in gardens are highly poisonous to dogs who mistake them for chocolate due to the smell.
  • Make sure that all ponds are covered; your dog may like a dip in the sea but for don’t expect your smaller animals to be good swimmers!cat

Safety first

Just as with children, make sure that you keep your house as safe as possible by closing windows and closing appliances such as your oven. Cats are notorious for finding cosy spots to sleep the day away in and can easily be missed while snoozing in the washing machine. The same is applied to open windows with many cats having serious or even fatal accidents by falling from a great height.

Do you have any helpful advice on how to keep your home pet friendly? Pop your tips in the comments below.

 

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Five ways to recreate vintage style in the home

Are you bored of minimal modernity and craving the class and sophistication of the ‘Mad Men’ era? Perhaps you dream about the rustic charms of turn of the century French country chic? Whatever style you choose, we have some helpful advice on how to achieve your perfect vintage home.

Embrace you erastairs

Select an era you want to emulate, from 1920’s art deco glamour to the homely yet kitsch vibe of a mid-century abode, choose your pieces wisely to achieve true authenticity. However, if done correctly, taking differe    nt inspiration from various eras can also work well for an unconventional yet effortlessly cool home. Pinterest  has some fabulous ideas to transform your home into a wonder of the past.

History in colour

Choosing the right colour scheme for your vintage home is just as important as the furniture, from the dark and striking colours of early 20th century America, to the bold statement prints of the 1960s, each provide a snapshot into that time period. Vintage paint companies such as Grand Illusions, and chalk paint powerhouse Annie Sloan provide a vast selection of high quality paints in a range of colours.

 Blooming Beautifulwallpaper

Don’t restrict the power of the flower to the garden; brighten up your lounge and bedroom with some floral patterned pieces for a groovy 70’s vibe. If you’re a dab hand at sewing, seek out fabric offcuts and vintage themed samples from your local haberdashery to rework old furnishings or make new pieces.

Recycle old treasures

Give antique finds a second lease of life by bringing them into your home. On a budget? By scouring thrift shops and car boot sales you could find a variety of incredible items from the past, without paying “vintage store” prices. Also, spending a little time on EBay can uncover a treasure trove of retro furniture and home accessories, perfect for any vintage home. DIY savvy? Distress an old piece of furniture or reupholster a plain chair to turn it into a wonderful one off piece – the possibilities are endless.

Be inspired by sideboardothers

The internet is a wonderful place to discover inspiration with fantastic interior design blogs, inspirational websites such as Houzz  and Pinterest. However, as well as this why don’t you look a little closer to home? Speak to your relatives who have lived through these fantastic decades and ask to see photos of their homes back in the day. You never know, you may get your very own interior designer to help out in the form of your Grandparent!

Image Credits: Deviant ArtWikimedia, Wikimedia

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