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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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.

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  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.

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  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.

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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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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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How to throw a successful first dinner party

After years of being the grateful guest, now is the time to stick the oven on, call up your friends, and brush up on your Nigella as you host your first dinner party.  But before you rustle up some home cooked delights and pick out the perfect outfit, check out our handy advice on how to make your first dinner party a raving success.

dinner decorSet the scene

We all love a theme night, but when hosting a dinner party we have to question whether taking inspiration from your past student nights out is the right decision to make.  For a more sophisticated approach, incorporate a colour scheme to your table or dress code.  You can find fantastic name cards, table runners and more from leading brands such as Not on the High Street.  Hosting on a budget?  Experiment with candles to achieve an elegant ambience.  This is a great chance to express your personality and the food you are serving so choose your ideas with care.

Cheers!

Your guests will most probably be thirsty when they arrive, so ensure that you provide a welcome drink, giving your friends a choice between soft and alcoholic.  Ensure that you don’t end up doing a champagne toast in your favourite tea mug by buying buying the correct glasswear before the night.

Food for thought

To avoid the heart ache of discovering your friends new found vegetarianism just minutes before you present your delicious beef casserole, plan ahead and make sure your menu adheres to any dietary requirements your guests may have.  Once your menu is planned, research potential soft or alcoholic drinks that will compliment your food, wowing your friends with your new found sommelier skills.

Serve in style

These days you’re more likely to be served your dinner on a wooden board and your chips in a shopping trolley rather than proudly presented on a beautiful dinner sdinner partyet.  Impress your guests with your best tablewear and invest in some new plates, crockery and cutlery.    Cooking meat, fish or shellfish?  Ensure your guests aren’t struggling with their lobster and steak by buying the right type of cutlery for their food.

Let me entertain you

You don’t need to spend a fortune on grand entertainment, after all it should be the food and company that is the main focal point of the evening.  However, if you would like to inject a bit of fun in between courses why not host a quick fire quiz round, pop on some music for an impromptu boogie.  Pinterest  has thousands of party game suggestions that can be enjoyed for any type of night.

 

Have you got any top tips for a fantastic dinner party?  Let us know in the comments below!

 

Image Credits: Pixabay,  Flickr

 

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Bathroom hacks you can’t live without

towelsBathrooms can be a nightmare – from a lack or storage leading to stray toiletries and towels to endless cleaning difficulties. To ease the pain, here are some handy hacks sure to transform your bathroom into your favourite room of the house.

Get yourself organised
Unless you are extremely lucky, most bathrooms are limited in size. This can make storage solutions a big issue, leading to some very frustrating clutter. Here are some quirky but helpful ways to make the most of the space you have.

  • Wine rack towel holder – do you have a wine rack that you never seen to fill? By screwing it to your wall and rolling your towels instead of folding, you can create a stylish towel rack.
  • Hang your towels here – there are a whole host of towel rack alternatives out there (if you don’t have a wine rack knocking about). Give your bathroom some personality by painting old cabinet doors or coat hooks to match your colour scheme. Attach hooks on to a shabby chic headboard for a Parisian feel, even attach hooks on to a surf board for a fun beach vibe – the possibilities are endless.
  • Let them eat cake – do you own an attractive cake stand but haven’t got round to baking those cupcakes yet? Place it in the bathroom as a great storage solution for your small bottles of lotions and soaps.
  • Never lose those pins – are you always trying to recreate the perfect up do but keep losing your hair grips? Stick your pints to a self-adhesive magnetic strip which can nestle comfortably underneath your bathroom mirror. Potential hours of searching solved in an instant!

Amplify your sound
Do you like to relax in the bath with your favourite tunes, or are you into a bit of shower karaoke in the morning? Amplify the sound in your bathroom by placing your music device or phone in your sink – just make sure you turn the taps off first!

Save on ironing time
If ironing is at the bottom of your favourite chores list then this hack will save you time and stress.   By closing your doors and windows and having a hot shower, the steam in the room will help de-wrinkle your clothes.

Keep it cleacleaning tapn
Struggling to keep your bathroom clean and finding that commercial products just don’t cut it? Try out some of these more traditional methods that even Kim and Aggie would approve of:

  • A mix of vinegar and baking soda will do wonders for your toilet without resorting to using bleach. Just had a party and have leftover cola? The acidity in the drink works wonders in dealing with lime scale.
  • Sprinkle some salt on a grapefruit and use it to scrub your bathroom free of soap scum. Not only will it end up smelling delicious, you are once again avoiding using any dangerous chemicals.
  • Struggling to clean your shower head? All you need to do is pop some vinegar and water into a plastic bag and submerge the shower head in it for 30 minutes, securing with an elastic band. Rinse afterwards with hot water for sparkling results.

Do you have any more helpful hacks for the bathroom?   Let us know in the comments below!

Image Credits: FlickrPixabay

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Five unusual ways to bring colour to your kitchen

For families who spend a lot of time together in their kitchen, it is important to take the time to create a space that perfectly matches the household’s personality and way of living. If you are looking to add some much-needed energy and life into the room, including vibrant and vivid colours can be a great way to go about creating a lively space that the whole family enjoys.

Take a look at these five inventive ways to add splashes of colour into your kitchen:

  1. Colour pop appliancesretro kitchen

Make large kitchen appliances the focal point by opting for bright items that add cheery pops of colour to the room. Many fridges and cookers are now available in a wide range of shades, and when paired with stainless steel or neutral tones, can help you to create a cheerful and energetic atmosphere.

 

  1. Bright and unusual splashbacks

Splashbacks are often only thought about in terms of practicality. However, why not steer clear of the status quo and look for bright glass tiles, decorative steel sheets or even patterned tile decals and inject a hit of colour into your kitchen?

 

  1. Display your kitchenalia with open shelving

This idea can seem a little terrifying, after all how will you be able to hide your clutter? In order to do so stylishly, pick a few choice areas to place open shelving and select your most colourful crockery, dishes, bottles and glasses to display so that you can bring a slice of the rainbow to your cooking space.

 

  1. Statement countertops

If you are looking for a way to add a feature colour to your kitchen, why not opt for a bright countertop? For a contemporary look, select a statement shade such as pink, yellow or orange and pair with wooden cabinets.

 

Alternatively, if you want to add a touch of luxury, choose a granite countertop in a striking deep tone. What makes granite special is the intricate patterns that can be found within the stone. Sat against bright white walls or cabinets, it can help you to make a beautifully bold and colourful statement.

chalk board walls

  1. Creative chalkboard walls

For those wanting to bring a little fun into their kitchen, why not paint a wall with chalkboard paint? Not only is it perfect for writing reminders and shopping lists, but it can be a great opportunity to let your creative juices flow. If you have a young family, the children will love being able to create chalk masterpieces and any big kids will have just as much fun drawing their own doodles!

For some, incorporating bright colours into your kitchen design can seem daunting. If you’re feeling nervous, think small to begin with and pick out a few bold accessories to add to your space. Once you start to see the energy that these brighter shades can bring, there is no doubt that you will want to add even more flashes of colour into the hardest working room in the home.

 

 

 

AUTHOR BIO: Ashleigh Harman writes for Britannia Living. Famous for their collection of iconic range cookers, customers can use the Britannia Colourange tool to create statement range cookers in any shade, providing people with the opportunity to create kitchens that are truly unique.

 

Image Credits: FlickrFlickr

 

 

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Five mistakes First Home Buyers make and how to avoid them

The day you buy your first home will most probably be one of the biggest (and most expensive!) achievements in your life, and is usually finalised after years of careful planning and saving.  However, after enduring rental prices and magnolia walls for most of your adult life, it’s easy to feel the urge to rush into certain decisions.  We have found out five top mistakes that first time buyers make – with some helpful tips on how to avoid them!

Overspending

Don’t get your heart set on yohouseur dream property before you know exactly how much you can afford.  There are several online calculators from websites like Money Supermarket and BBC Homes that can help give you financial guidance.  Also question your current financial situation – can you easily afford your rent each month?  Would any potential changes in your new mortgage greatly impact your bank account?

Relying on just the cosmetics

Does the property you have just viewed look too good to be true?  Ensure that it actually is your dream home by taking a second look around.  Avoid cost inducing issues, such as damp, water or electrical issues that can be hidden around the house by getting a survey completed by a qualified surveyor.  Also, check around your neighbourhood and don’t be afraid to ask people questions.  After all you don’t want to buy an attractive house in an area that you may eventually hate!

Taking advice from your estate agent

You may find that your estate agent will try to give you mortgage advice, however you may discover that they don’t provide you with the full range of choices.  Also, you may be charged.  Websites such as Money Saving Expert have extremely helpful mortgage comparison tables which can give you all the information that you need.

Pay twice!

If you are currently renting, don’t forget that you usually have to serve at least a months’ notice before you can leave the property.  Make sure you time things right and don’t lose money by having to pay for both rent and mortgage during the transition stages.

Underestimating the costs

Saving up the deposit may seem like the most daunting task when buying your first home, but remember to also save for the extra costs associated with buying.  Have you considered stamp duty, solicitors’ fee’s, removal costs, storage costs, estate agents fee’s and so on?  Create a spreadsheet of everything you have to pay for so you can avoid any nasty surprises!

Are you currently facing difficulties in the house buying process?  Or are you already in your dream home and made a few rookie errors along the way?

Image Credits: Wikimedia

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Handy advice on how to keep your home cool in the summer

If you are living in the UK you no doubt have been affected by the July heatwave, where on July 1st, Brits experienced the hottest day on record – with temperatures peaking at a scorching 36.7C!

Such high temperatures can no doubt cause discomfort at home, so we have compiled some handy advice on how to keep you and your house cool in the summer.

Close the curtains

When the sun is shining it maybe tempting to throw open your doors and curtains.  However, windows can account for up to 30% of unwanted heat, and can turn your home into a rather large green house.  Closing your blinds and curtains can help significantly lower the temperature – a trick that you may notice when visiting warmer climates abroad!

Are you looking after yourself?

It may seem like an obvious tip, but ensure that you stay cool by looking after your body.  For example; take regular showers, drink plenty of water, and wear loose clothing when you can.  Also, freezing wet flannels bbqcan make fantastic cheaper alternatives to ice packs – once frozen, press onto your pressure points (i.e. wrists) and feel your body gradually cool down.

Any excuse not to cook…

Make the most of the hot weather by turning off your oven and enjoying evening BBQs instead.  Having your oven turned on will heat up your entire house, especially if used during the day.  So what better excuses to dust off the grill and bring the family round for an al fresco dinner?

Choose the right bed

Choosing the right mattress can save you a lot of sleepless nights once the temperatures start soaring.  Although priced slightly more expensively, buying from a good company such as Sealy, who use Geltex to help regulate temperatures and keep you cool at night, can stop you from waking up in a pool of sweat.

Let your heat rise

It is a common fact that heat rises.  If you have a loft, open the hatch to it and let the heat rise through, so that it can circulate throughout the roof and in return, cool down the entire house.

 

Do you have any more handy tips on how to stay cool?

Image Credit: WikimediaDeviant Art

 

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