Minimalist home: Our easy guide
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Minimalist home: Our easy guide

You’ve moved into your new home and now realise you have far too many belongings for your new rooms. You don’t want to fill up your house with rubbish, but you need to make sure your proudest possessions get the placement they deserve when you’re showing off your new place to friends. Keep your home minimalist using our easy guide.

Take it one room at a time
If you’ve unloaded all of your furniture, decorations and accessories into your house, and now realise you want to adopt a more minimalist feel, don’t try and rush the process. Clearing out a huge amount of possessions at once would be tough, and you might get carried away and regret it later. Take things one room at a time, and see if the minimalist feel within the room feels right to you before making any rash decisions.

Furniture is the key

Your furniture is the focal point of any room. In the living room, you have your sofa, in the dining room you have your dining table, your bedroom centres around your bed. Making sure that the key piece of furniture suits the room and is in the right spot is vital to creating a minimalist room. You don’t want a room to feel empty, you need it to feel as though it has been decorated sparingly in an effective style. Making sure that your key item of furniture is well placed and suited to the room is importing in ensuring your room doesn’t feel sparse.

Essential items

It might seem like a tough decision on what to keep and what to store away, but you’ll know if an item is truly essential to you and the feel of your room. When trying to generate a minimalist feel, your best option is to be overly minimal to begin with, and further down the line, if you feel extra decorative pieces are needed, add them as and when you feel is necessary.

Clear floors

Floor space is a crucial aspect of creating a minimalist feel. You need to make sure all flooring areas are free from clutter, as having uncluttered surfaces, but messy and untidy floor spaces just makes the room feel like you’ve failed to tidy up.

Walls

You don’t want to have a minimalist room with cluttered and untidy walls. Obviously, you need some decorations within your home as you don’t want it to feel overly empty and uninhabited, so a few pieces of artwork or wall features can add a style of class and  decoration. If you’re at a loose end as to how you’re best filling your empty wall space, check out our article on some ideas for wall fixtures. (link to other article)

If you’re interested in a minimalist decor in your home, or have experience of clearing out your rooms in a new home, make sure you let us know how it went on in the comments section. 

Images used under creative commons courtesy of iBSSR.

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Winter DIY

Winter DIY

With winter now closing in, we begin the cold months where we confine ourselves to the warmth of our home. Even through winter, you’ll be kept busy with DIY jobs to not only improve your home, but to also keep it safe.

 

Indoor jobs

  • The most important appliance within your home this winter is the boiler. It will keep you warm, provide hot water for showers and baths and help you recover when returning from the bitter coldness of outside. The last thing you want on a cold January morning is for your boiler to go kaput and leave you without heat. Make sure that you get your boiler checked professionally by a Gas Safe engineer before it starts to be used more frequently. A faulty boiler is not only inconvenient, but can also be very dangerous. Don’t let a lack of warmth ruin your Christmas.
  • Do a check of your windows and doors to make sure all seals are intact and performing effectively. Heating your home is costly enough, so the last thing you need is that warmth escaping through a loose door seal. If you check and find problems, it could be best to have a window or door replaced – it might be costly initially, but will save you money in the long run.
  • No one enjoys venturing up into a cold loft. In most cases, it is a room used solely for storage, and can be a bit of a mess. Before the true cold weather hits though, it is worth going up and checking that your loft insulation is performing as it should. Poor insulation can be a big expense in the long run, and with gas and electricity prices rising, the last thing you want is your boiler working overtime to make up for the lost heat caused by poor insulation.

 

Outdoor jobs

  • Having endured a relatively windy start to the month, and with many leaves now laying along pathways, it can become dangerous navigating the paths around your house when you leave for work each morning. Now, with early nights drawing in, you’ll be heading back home in the dark, meaning you can’t always see how clear the pathways are. Make sure that you clear all your pathways of leaves, moss and dirt. If you don’t, any wet weather or sub-zero temperatures could cause a real slip hazard. The last thing you want is to be losing your footing when heading back home, or upon leaving the house first thing on a morning. Head out and spend an hour clearing pavements to keep your house and garden safe.
  • Another problem caused by falling leaves can be them landing in your gutters and pipes. Once they’ve all fallen, your gutters are sure to be blocked up. To compound the problem, rainfall can cause water to back up and enter the house. The leaves could freeze causing a blockage problem in your gutter preventing water from filtering away from your home.
  • Check your roof for any loose tiles, or signs of weathering on your roof. You don’t want to take a chance and leave it for a prolonged period over winter, for the situation to worsen and jeopardise the warmth of your home. Whilst you’re inspecting the roof, it might be worthwhile to take a look at your chimney, to make sure you don’t have any issues with pointing. Winds can really pick up through the winter months, so it’s best to prevent any chimney issues, rather than have to cover the repair costs of parts and resulting damage.
  • Check your garden for trees which have become wild and unkempt over the summer. Overhanging branches in common walkways can pose a real problem when it comes to making your house accessible. Also, any branches coming into contact with the brickwork of your house can cause damage if winds pick up during a storm – it’s worth taking a day to cut back trees than having to cover the expense of repairing walls.

Let us know how you get on with your DIY experiences below. If you’re inexperienced, it just takes a bit of time to perfect your DIY handiwork.

Images used user creative commons courtesy of Chris Ring.

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Wooden log burners: Why you need one
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Wooden log burners: Why you need one

Over recent years, sales in log burning stoves have been roaring. Not only do they help to save you money in the long run, but they provide a true sense of character to any room in which you want one. Through the cold winter months, they provide unrivalled heat at a low cost, and add a homely feel to your living room. Although they aren’t cheap to install, the long term benefit is that, provided you use your living room as a family room on a night, you make big cuts into the amount of energy you use on heating. The homely feel of a family gathered around a roaring fire is one many would love to return to. What could be better on a cold winters weekend than a communal gathering area for the kids to play, you to watch TV and chat, and all stay warm.

Cost

Heating your house through the winter months can prove to be extremely costly. Even with heating on, you can still struggle to warm up whilst moving from room to room, and heating your whole house for the duration of winter will result in very large bills. If you have a room in your home that your family spends most of their spare time in, having a log burner installed makes a lot of sense. Although installation costs can be pricey, you’ll begin to see the savings almost immediately when you aren’t required to leave your heating on night after night.

Heat

Radiators are effective for providing the specific temperature of heat you need, however wooden log burners are no slouches when it comes to warming your home up. If you close doors to contain heat within your room, it doesn’t take long to get a drowsy feel or warmth flowing through your room. After a full evening of burning, you really will be sweltering if you don’t open doors to let some heat escape – they’re that effective.

Range

You might think that having a burner is fine for one room, but won’t have any effect on the rest of your house. Whilst a log burner will obviously struggle to replace your heating system throughout the rest of your house, it does succeed in providing enough warmth to spread into joining rooms. Leave a door open to cool down your living room and your dining room or hallway will feel markedly warmer.

Fuel

Wood is cheaper than central heating, it’s as simple as that. You might think that finding wooden logs is an unnecessary pain and one you can deal without, but once you get into sourcing your own wood, it becomes an addictive pastime – to the point where you’ll be offering to cut down unwanted trees in the garden of friends and family, as long as you get the reward of keeping the wood for your log store.

Installation

One problem with wood burners stems from the need of a chimney to release the emissions. Many new houses are now built without a chimney as fuel burning fires are not as common as in the past. Even despite this, not having a chimney doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t take advantage. Many fitting companies do everything they can to make an installation viable, with the most cost effective move for houses without a chimney being to install an insulated twin wall stainless steel chimney. Once you get the all clear that an installation is viable, you’re clear to pick your style.

Log burners are the in thing, they look good and can be chosen in a number of styles to fit your personal preference. From small and dainty styles to those that are large and dominant and provide a focal point to your room – there are options to fit all tastes. If you have a wood burner already, or are looking to make an investment, let us know your feelings below.

Images used under creative commons courtesy of olivia.may.

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Beginners guide: Growing your own fruit and vegetables
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Beginners guide: Growing your own fruit and vegetables

You’ve moved into your new place, everything is settled and you’re happy with your rooms and furniture. All you now need is to spruce up that garden to give you a better view out of the window on a morning. If you have plenty of garden space, why not use some soil space to grow your own food? There’s nothing more homely than the great taste of freshly grown produce.

Save cash

As a new homeowner, cash can be a bit tight. With a bit of forward planning, you can save yourself some money on your weekly shop through growing your favourite or most used vegetables. It’s completely up to you how much or how little you grow, start off with a few potted plants on your patio then work your way up to a mini allotment, it all helps.

Better taste

As handy as it is to nip to the supermarket and grab a bag of salad or some carrots, once you’ve tried the home grown alternative there’ll be no going back. The organic nature of your vegetable growth, the pride in your produce and the vast taste improvement that you get with home grown food allows you to realise just how bland store bought alternatives are.

Get creative

Who knew that there were so many different varieties of fruit and vegetables available? Yes, supermarkets offer a broad range of produce driven by what the consumer wants, but there are so many other options and variations available to the home grower. With the internet now making it simple to find seeds from the popular to the obscure, you really can broaden your horizons when it comes to food. Try some Cavolo Nero – a delicious Tuscan black kale, or the long podded Hurst Greenshaft sweet pea.

Time

Perhaps with all the other jobs that surround settling into your new home, spending time and effort on growing your garden is the last thing you need? Whilst we can’t deny that setting up your produce patch does take a certain level of effort, it also runs like a well oiled machine once you’ve put in the initial legwork, and it is a very rewarding process. Get your plants bedded in early on and you’ll be left to reap the rewards later on, with an ample supply of food that require nothing more than a watering in terms of upkeep.

If you fancy giving it a try, be sure to let us know how you progress and how successful you are. If we’ve missed out any top tips, make sure all you seasoned gardeners let us know in the comment section below. For any other gardening advice heading into winter, be sure to check out our article on winter preparation.

Images used under creative commons courtesy of Clint Gardner.

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Prepare your garden for the winter months
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Prepare your garden for the winter months

You worked hard all spring and summer getting your garden looking pristine, but with winter settling in complete with the short days and icy nights, it’s time to let go and prepare your garden for the months ahead.

Clear out

Obviously, your plants are no longer alive due to the lack of warmth and sunlight over the past few weeks. Even the most resilient of flowers will now be on their way out, and it’s time to clear out the garden for the dormant winter phase. Get out there this weekend and clear any remaining dead plants that you have lingering behind. It looks far tidier when cleared up than having straggled dead plants lying around for months. It also means that when spring rolls around once more, you’ll be all ready to plant your year’s growth.

Maintenance

Once growing season has come to an end and you’ve cleared your garden, it is the perfect chance to give your garden the once over and carry out any routine maintenance. Fences may be covered from view through the summer months, and you don’t want to trample your marigolds while patching up your fencing. So now that it’s all gone, why not spend a Sunday getting everything patched up, from your battered fence to the wall that is showing signs of age – make sure everything is looking trim, proper and ready for next spring.

Protect furniture

If you utilise wood in your garden and have plenty of it on show, it needs to be well protected when the cold nights draw in. Giving your perimeter fences a coat of creosote will make sure they stay looking as good as new until April. If you have a wooden pergola or furniture in your patio area, you’ll also need to treat that to stop it deteriorating over winter, and some may be best to be placed under cover to avoid the worst of the weather.

DIY

If you have any last minute DIY tasks to do that you just can’t leave to annoy you all winter, get out there and carry out your last DIY chores of the year. Make sure you choose a dry day if you need to do any cementing as otherwise you could run into problems whilst trying to relay those loose paving slabs.

Winter growth

If you keep putting off uprooting your late blooming vegetables, now is the time to do it. Even if you have some un-ripened tomatoes still hanging on, get them picked and you can make the most of your produce by making a tasty chutney. Should you be unwilling to give up yet on growing vegetables for the year, get your broad beans planted nice and early, as some varieties thrive on an October sewing.

If you need something to do around the house this weekend, and are struggling to come up with productive ways to spend your time, get your hat, gloves and scarves on and give your garden the attention it deserves. If we’ve missed off any tips and advice, let us know.

Images used under creative commons courtesy of Martin Taylor.

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Four Great Ways to Utilise your Spare Room

It’s the typical dilemma with a spare room – it has the potential to be anything you want, from giving you more room for storage to a place for visitors to stay, but you still haven’t had chance to make the most of it. If you’re adamant you want to make the most of your space, but aren’t convinced what you transform the room into, check out these options.

The home office3631119830_7be2edf6aa_m

If you’re business day doesn’t end at 5pm and you need a quiet haven to concentrate on evenings or weekends, then you need to transform that spare room into your home office. You don’t need the room to be huge to make an office workable, you just need to utilise what you have at your disposal. Head to IKEA for a flat pack desk, make sure you’re set up within wireless range of your internet, or sort out a phone line if not. Nowadays, you’ll probably be able to just use your mobile for calls, but if you need to have a landline, be sure to get that sorted too. In terms of decorating, you’re probably best to go with light and simple colours – anything too dark and your room will seem to shrink, and the last place you’ll be wanting to work is a claustrophobic little cupboard. Stay simple with the decor, and you shouldn’t have any problem keeping your concentration.

Spare bedroom

Definitely the safe option when it comes to spare room ideas, but having an extra room always comes in handy. Whether it be to prepare for a growing family in the future, or to put up friends and family when visiting, sticking a bed and wardrobe in there is definitely something to consider. If you have relatives from elsewhere in the country, or you’ve relocated to an area away from your family, having that spare room will help improve the chance of people visiting for longer periods, such as weekends. Check out Hammonds for bedroom furniture that innovatively saves space – on the off chance your room is on the small side.

Games room

If you’ve got no practical need for the room, take the fun option and embrace your inner teenager. A games room will might not be absolutely essential to running your home, but it gives you the perfect spot to let your hair down and kill a few hours. The size of your room will play a large factor in how you fill your room, with something like a snooker table or pool table maybe being too big, but you can always opt for table football or table tennis if you’d rather. Get yourself a Bose sound dock or put a TV on the wall, and you’ll be able to visit your games room for hours of entertainment. If you have kids, or are expecting to soon expand your family, why not give the games room a kids feel. For those rainy weekends at home, it’d be a godsend to have a place for them to enjoy, rather than them driving you up the wall.

Music room 

If you, or any family member enjoys a passion for playing instruments, then this option might be the one for you. Having a room specifically for musical enjoyment allows you a space to really work on you’re playing, be it a piano, the drums or a guitar. It’ll help out with the harmony of the house, as there should be no arguments about blasting out music in the same room as people trying to watch TV. Just make sure the room isn’t right next to your bedroom – the last thing you want is an early morning wake up call from your kid on his guitar.

Images used under creative commons courtesy of Mackenzie Kosut.

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