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Five top tips on how to update your living room

 

After years of enduring magnolia and off-white walls in your rented properties, you may find yourself overwhelmed with choice whilst deciding how to update your new living room.  It may seem like a daunting task, but we have compiled some simple yet effective tips that can help:

Discover new lighting
table lamp ikea

Different types of lighting can have a huge impact on the mood of the room.  Light that is too harsh and bright could make the room feel clinical and cold, whereas softer lighting will create a warm and inviting atmosphere perfect for cosy nights in.  A well lit room can be achieved easily by using lower watt bulbs, installing a dimmer, or strategically placing lamps to benefit the levels of light your room receives throughout the day.

You can find a wide range of affordable yet stylish lamps perfect for any modern living room in high street retailers such as Next, or John Lewis.

Paint in wonderful white

Choosing whitwhite walls e paint to redecorate with may not seem like a drastic change to your living room, but this classic look will never go out of style.   To  avoid a sterile feel to the room, make sure you use different textures in your room to give it a more homely feel, such as cushions or t  throws.

You could also choose a colour pallet to accent your room with, making future changes to the room more practical to deal with over the years.

 Writing on the wall

Personalising your living space has never been easier with a range of decorative wall quotes, words and letters to choose from.  Add words and  images to your wall using artistic vinyl graphics, or frame an inspirational or humorous quote to hang as a centre piece.  Online retailers such as Not  on the High Street or Etsy have some fabulous designs which can instantly transform your surroundings.

Change the dynamics

Change the dynamics of your room by moving around your furniture to create more space and making the most of the changing light conditions throughout the year.  You can also do this by changing the position of your radiator or removing a door to create more options whilst deciding where to place your furniture.

Go green plant

Add a splash of colour to your living room whilst also improving your mind and health, by introducing house plants and flowers.  This will create a fresh and natural feel to your room, instantly changing the atmosphere and bringing life to your home.

 

 

 

 

Image Credits: FlickrIkea

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How to De-Clutter Your Home in 4 Easy Steps

clutter1Now the weather is warming it’s time to start on the cleaning projects you’ve been putting off for months. But that doesn’t mean everything has to be as miserable as cleaning the gutters or chimney.

A simple way to clean and freshen your home is to get rid of the clutter. An organized home looks good and feels good to live in.

Here we’ve outlined how to de-clutter your home in four easy steps. This covers 99% of clutter that most people have.

1. Create a Plan

The first step is to walk through your home and make an assessment of each room. Where do you see the most clutter?

For most people, the clutter is confined in storage spaces such as bedroom closets and kitchen cabinets. Don’t forget to look under beds and behind couches where you might have been guilty of stashing a few things when you had guests and forgot.

Once you’ve identified your problem areas, start attacking them one room at a time. You can even separate this into several weekends if the problem is severe. However, it’s usually best to get it all over with at once.

 2. Give Away Old Clothes You No Longer Wear2202304362_8c42dd6d4d_m

We often end up hanging on to clothes we no longer wear for several years. An easy way to de-clutter your closets and drawers is to get rid of all those  old  clothes.

The benefits include:

  •  Donating clothes to those less fortunate
  •  Freeing up extra space
  •  Having an excuse to buy new clothes

If you’re getting rid of designer clothes that are still in good condition you can actually sell them and put that money towards your new wardrobe.

3. Organize the Kitchen and Pantry

We spend a lot of time in our kitchens and it’s easy for that space to get cluttered, especially throughout the holidays.

How many random containers are going unused in your kitchen? Now is the perfect time to go through your kitchen cabinets and get rid of all those old containers and dishes that do nothing but waste space.

This is also a great time to have a look around your fridge and pantry to locate any food items that need to be tossed. A clean kitchen is a happy kitchen!

4. Commit to Filling One Large Trash Bag With Junk

Some people have a hard time letting go of their stuff. Does that sound like you?

If so, try to commit to at least filling one large trash bag full of junk that you’re not using. If you can give that stuff away to charity that’s great, just get it out of your house.

If you can’t fill a large trash bag, good for you, your place must be well-organized! Or maybe you are hanging on to things you don’t really need. There’s a simple trick to figuring out whether something has sentimental value or you are hoarding. Before opening a drawer or cabinet, write out a list of everything in there. The things that don’t make the list usually aren’t important and can be tossed.

Spring cleaning shouldn’t feel like torture, but it should make a noticeable difference. Have you started yet, or are you still putting it off?

Image credits to: FlickrRecapo

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How to Make the Most of Limited Outdoor Space

Having a small patio or balcony restricts your options for lounging, gardening, or any other activity that you might enjoy. What about those who only have a window ledge to work with? We’ve got solutions for everyone.

The first thsmall-balcony-decor-ideaing you want to do is decide on what you want to use the space for. Do you want a place to relax and read? Are you planning on growing  vegetables? Figure out what your primary goal for the space is and work around that.

When working with small spaces we have to start thinking vertically. We tend to look at floor space to determine what we can fit in a room. A tight  balcony or patio  won’t allow much. Instead, think creatively about how you can use the vertical space by stacking items or hanging them.

Next you want to consider versatility. If you’re using the space for your garden, you likely won’t be moving the plants around very often. However, if you  want to  add a couple of chairs, or even a small table — you can make your space more versatile by using furniture that folds or collapses easily.

It’s all about creativity. There are no rules to designing your outdoor space. Figure out what works for you. With that in mind, here are some ideas to get  you  headed in the right direction.

 The Cramped Patio

The best-case scenario here is that you at least have some patio space to take full advantage of. Even if it’s limited, you still have a ton of options to play with.

Patios allow you to create an outdoor dining area, lounge, garden, pet area, and much more. A table like this is great for dining on a small patio, because it seats four but doesn’t take up too much space. Coffee tables work well on patios because they are convenient for lounging with a cocktail and functional for casual dining.

The Petite Balcony

Balconies are restrictive to how you can use the space, but we can work around that. Most people use their balcony as a sitting area and/or a garden. This is where you really have to start thinking vertically.

A small table like this is perfect for balconies. The wall panel has shelf space for plants and allows you to hang lights or decorations. The table itself is big enough for two people to eat and the chairs fold up to be placed aside if the space is extremely narrow.

The Window Ledge

The best solution for a window ledge is a window box. You may not be able to step outside, but you can still have a little garden to tend to. In addition to their functionality, window boxes add a charming touch to your view and a pleasant aroma, depending on what you’re growing. Herbs such as chives,tarragon, parsley, rosemary, mint, sage, basil, thyme and oregano all grow well in window boxes.5848583730_dfe53757cb_o

 

Image credits to: Flickr.comElement of Style

 

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How to grow-your-own indoor herb garden
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How to grow-your-own indoor herb garden

Growing your own herbs is great fun. It can save you money, improve your cooking, and add an attractive farmhouse aesthetic  to your kitchen. And best of all you don’t even need a garden to do it in.

Although you can grow your herbs straight from the seed, it’s a lot easier to skip this stage and use a starter plant. Make sure you use a potting mix too, which will contain all the essential nutrients the herbs need. Both these things can be purchased from a local garden centre relatively inexpensively.

The best place to keep you herb garden is on a south-facing window sill, as herbs need a lot of sunlight to grow, as well as a bit of shelter. Think about the type of pots you use too, as this can make your herb garden stand out and add a little character to your house.

There’s a huge variety of different herbs you can grow at home. As a starting point, think about what food you regularly cook, and which herbs could compliment this. Here’s a few pointers;

  • Chives are typically used for garnish, salads, vegetable stocks, soups, creamy sauces and potato dishes
  • Mint goes well with lamb and light soups.
  • Oregano is very versatile, and one of the low maintenance herbs that requires little watering. It goes nicely with lamb, vegetables and pizza.
  • Rosemary pairs well with roasted chicken, fish, lamb, pork and potatoes
  • Thyme requires little watering, and compliments most meats, like chicken and game, and is great in stews
  • Parsley is a popular garnish and goes nicely with meats, salads, soups, and can also be used in most savoury dishes

Once you’ve decided which herbs to grow, the next challenge is keeping them all alive! Make sure you provide them with at least 8 hours of sunlight each day to help them develop, and also make sure you use a container with drainage holes, otherwise it will become waterlogged.

Fertilizer is also a good idea; if your plant looks unhealthy or out of colour then use a little bit of diluted fish fertilizer, the smell goes away quickly!  This can be brought from a local garden centre.

Finally, be patient. It takes a few weeks for the herbs to develop properly. Now you just need to learn how to cook!

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Decorating for the warmer months
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Decorating for the warmer months

Now is the perfect time to start your home renovations in time for summer. Whilst the weather might not be perfect for evening entertainment just yet, it’s close enough to begin implementing spring and summer additions into the rooms of your home. At this point in the year, no one wants to undertake a renovation that drags on for months, so here are our quick decorating tips perfect to carry out this spring.

Bold colours

When decorating, many opt to keep things very bland and neutral. Whilst this move can be a smart one, as as it’s a relatively safe option, utilising bold and striking colours is a great way to get a summer feel in the house. Garish and outlandish colours aren’t necessary, as you don’t want your decor to be a shock when people enter your home, however utilising everyday colours like blues and reds can be a great option; especially if the colours work together in a complimentary fashion. If you’re struggling for ideas of complimentary shades for walls, carpets or your everyday home items, check out  Joined + Jointed for inspiration. The website’s collection of celebrated designers and artisans brought together by a shared love of contemporary design makes for great viewing, and their customisation of everyday rooms could provide you with some much needed colour inspiration.

Statement furniture

Upgrading a piece of furniture to something new and lavish can add a whole new dimension to your room. Make a statement with a new item as it means the eye will naturally be drawn to your statement piece and will immediately impress arriving guests. When entertaining, the dining room will see a lot of action, so opting for something striking yet usable, like a plush dining table, is a sound investment to make.

Kitchen

Lighting shouldn’t be an issue through the longer summer days, however when the inevitable mid-afternoon cloud rolls in and the home dulls over, lighting will play a vital role. In the kitchen, when food steam and cooking smells will be lingering in the air, it’s illogical to have any lighting that requires a shade. For that reason, it’s worth making the upgrade to spotlights. Perfect for providing an even distribution of light, spotlights look good due to being installed flush with the ceiling and also add a modern element to any room. Opt for energy efficient bulbs to save on electricity and keep the light at a brightness to suit you.

Accessories

If you’re planning to entertain over the summer, the chances are that you and your guests will enjoy a drink over the course of the evening. Whilst it might not seem vital to accessorise your room with a coffee or side table, they can come in handy when entertaining. Something usable but eye-catching will also aid in breaking up the feel of your room, making it feel busier. In a conservatory, a wooden or glass topped coffee table can fit in perfectly, and is a real asset to the room when enjoying an evening with guests. Similarly, a side table which can be brought into action in a living room is ideal for snacks and drinks. Opt for something classy that fits in with the tone of your room.

 

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Show us your “Spring Clean SOS” and win a top-of-the-range Dyson
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Show us your “Spring Clean SOS” and win a top-of-the-range Dyson

Spring, people associate it with tree’s blooming, birds singing and… cleaning.

The Christmas decorations are gathering dust in the attic, the party celebrations ended months ago. There really are no more excuses to put off getting those Marigolds out.

Don’t worry though Keepmoat won’t let you do it alone.

We have a few great ways that can help you in your mammoth cleaning mission.

Firstly, show us your spring clean project. Snap a picture of your cluttered cupboards, unorganised office or messy toy room, upload it to our Facebook page and the best five will go to a public vote.

The nation’s favourite will then win a top-of-the-range Dyson.

Making your mountain of cleaning look more like a mole hill.

If you aren’t messy enough for our Facebook competition, don’t be too disheartened. We have another comp just for you.

We want to hear all about your top spring cleaning tips.

Just Tweet @KeepmoatHomes your best cleaning tricks, using the hashtag #springcleanSOS. Each week the best tips will receive a cool cleaning gadget.

So have fun and good luck!

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Clearing out your new home
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Clearing out your new home

Whether you’re on the verge of moving, or you’ve arrived at your new home to find your posessions won’t all fit in your new cupboards, the upheaval of relocating can be the perfect catylist for a good old clearout. Clutter accumulates over the years, and in the process of moving, you’re likely to stumble across a world of hidden treasures and ‘tat’, making it the perfect time to have a declutter.

1. Clothing

No matter how many new items of clothing we buy, it always seems to be the case that old clothes are stored away. Whilst they might come in handy once in a blue moon when you to paint, for the most part, they’re just taking up unnecessary space. Whilst it might seem rash to throw away old items immediately, it saves them from handing in the back of wardrobes unnoticed. If they aren’t going to be worn, now is the time to get rid, and use your home move as a chance to really build up your wardrobe using items you actually will wear.

2. Odd-jobs drawer

We’re all guilty of this, and all houses have them; whether it is brimming with a collection of jumbled keys for old lost padlocks, that old phone charger for a Nokia 3310, or an assortment of local takeaway menus. The majority of the items in the ‘junk’ draw can be thrown away, and although it is handy to have a place to store keys and pens and other small items, make sure that everything you keep in there is usable.

3. Documents

Old bank statements, receipts and bills often carry an air of importance, meaning we feel they require storing on the off chance they’re needed for admin purposes. However, with online banking now commonplace, many of us don’t even need the hard copy statement delivering to us anymore. Whilst some documents are required for the purposes of tax for a number of years, it’s likely that most documentation can be shredded prior to your move. Don’t simply throw them in the bin, as documents containing bank details, or even your name and address need to be destroyed.

4. Spare bedding or towels

Living in a home, you’ll often replace items such as bedding and towels, however even though we buy in new items, it is often the case that we hoard to old ones rather than binning them. It’s likely that you have your best bedding in use most of the time, with a spare sat in a cupboard that is used from time to time. This is all you really need, and if you’ve got a third and fourth string set packed away on the off chance they’re needed then you need to have a clear out. Before the big move, ask yourself, when are you intending on using it? If you can’t envisage them being used in the next 6 months they ought to be left behind.

5. Outdated Technology

Whilst retro might be cool, and there are cases (like vinyl records) where an outdated technology enjoys somewhat of a renaissance, the chances of VHS videos, Gameboys and old PlayStation games becoming popular again are relatively slim. In many households, old electronics are thrown up into the loft and once out of sight, will probably remain up there until you move. With wires and chargers everywhere, your best bet it to throw them away, as the chances of their value increasing are relatively slim.

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The perfect location? Stunning homes around the world
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The perfect location? Stunning homes around the world

While choosing a location for a new home can be tricky, it’s usually the case that we look for similar traits in a location – plenty of local amenities, a good  community, a low crime rate; however what we might not expect is a settlement nestled in some of the most idyllic and distant areas of the world. From volcanic craters to an Italian fjord, here are some of the craziest towns and settements on the planet.

 

Aogashima, Philippine Sea

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Incredibly, this settlement in the middle of the Phililippine Sea is located in the middle of a volcanic crater. It might be enough to put you or me on edge, knowing that your home is situated on top of something that, in it’s prime was an explosive natural entity, however the volcano has been dormant since the 1700’s.

Monemvasia, Greece

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Hidden away from view on the reverse of a huge rock face in Laconia, Greece is the idyllic oceanside settlement of Monemvasia.

Following an earthquake in the Greek region almost 2000 years ago, the island was seperated from the Greek mainland, resulting in the only access point to the residence being via a small access walkway. Hidden from the sight of those on the coastline of Greece, residants of the island are able to enjoy breathtaking views of the Palaia Monemvasia bay.

Phugtal Monastery, India

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 13.20.15Hidden away in the mouth of a cave might not be a location you think is ideal for a settlement, however the small village perched on this cliff face in India has housed residents since the 1800’s.

Phugtal Monastery, which is, for the most part contructed using mud and timber can be found in t in the south-eastern Zanskar region in the Ladakh district of India.

Undredal, Norway 

Undredal_from_Sognefjord

 

We might have the beautiful views of the Lake District, but this water side dwelling in Norway gives a totally new meaning to the phrase ‘home by the water’.

Furore, Italy 

7502630774_e3bf7548c9_bRounding off our list is the quaint village of Furore, tucked away in a fjord located in south-western Italy – a settlement which is practically hidden from travellers. With cliff side walks, small yet vibrantly coloured homes and a beach and perfectly blue water located right on the doorstep, this looks like the perfect retreat.

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An easy breakdown of the home buying process
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An easy breakdown of the home buying process

The house buying process can be a complicated and hugely time consuming process. If you’re juggling it with your full time jobs and family commitments, it’s not hard to see why people begin to feel the stress. Whilst we can’t lighten the workload for you, we can give you a helping hand when it comes to understanding the whole process. If the strain of starting the home moving process is starting to feel like a burden, here is our simplification of the home buying process.

Get prepared

House buying is a big life decision, so it’s important that you don’t head into the process without doing a reasonable amount of research. Getting an understanding and background knowledge will be a big aid, and make the process of home buying much more straight forward. As with most things, having a greater understanding will allow you to make a more informed decision further down the line.

Find your mortgage

A crucial factor when buying a home is to ensure you get a mortgage that is well suited to your financial situation. Again, this will involve copious amounts of research and homework. If you’re unsure what types of mortgage are out there, it’s worth looking into, and getting the facts straight in your head before going out into the market.

Place your offer

Once you’ve got your mortgage lined up, viewed homes and are now ready to proceed, it’s time to put in an offer on what you want to be your new home. If you’re a first time buyer, you’ll have less constraints, as you won’t have an existing home up for sale slowing you down. Usually, you’ll put your offer in through your estate agent, as they will help your deal go through as smoothly as possible.

Source your solicitor

Now for the legal aspects, you’ll need to get yourself sorted with a solicitor, in order to handle the paperwork surrounding your impending move. It’s important that the finer details of your move are scrutinised ahead of signing your papers, so having a trusted solicitor on your side is an important addition.

Get it surveyed

Another crucial step is to ensure that you arrange for a survey of your new property to be carried out, to make sure that your new home has been thoroughly checked over and is valued at the price you’re paying. There are a number of different surveys and reports which can be carried out, from the cheaper condition report to the most comprehensive option of a structural survey.

Exchange contracts

Once your solicitor and surveyor are happy, it’s time to sign the contract and move ahead with the purchase. It’s at this point you’ll have to start the expenditure, as you’ll usually have to lay down 10% of the total price as a deposit. It’s important to know that once you put down the deposit, you’re committed to the sale, meaning that if circumstances change any you need to pull out of the deal, you’ll likely lose your deposit.

Finalise it

Upon completion, the property finally becomes yours. It’s time for you to get your keys and the deed to your first home. The completion of your purchase means you’ll now have bills to pay; the 90% of your home which you’re yet to pay for is transferred from your mortgage lender to your legal representative, and then on to the seller’s representative.

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Garden preparations for spring
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Garden preparations for spring

Summer is almost upon us (or at least it feels that way after the few weeks of nice weather we’ve just enjoyed) and although we can’t always guarantee undisturbed weekends of sunshine, it’s worth ensuring your garden is ready for those summer hot spells. Barbecues and a drinks make for the perfect weekend entertainment, especially when hosting guests. If you plan on playing the perfect garden part host over the coming weekends and for the rest of the summer, here are our top tips on making sure you’re all set.

Blast it clean

Over the winter, dirt, mould and grime become embedded into your pavements, patios and areas of decking. When the summer arrives however, you want your ourdoor areas to look spotless. Whilst giving the floor a good scrub might seem laborious, you can save a lot of time and effort with a pressure washer. Karcher offer a range of great options when it comes to pressure washing, so make sure you take a look and invest in something that can be used year after year. Blast away at the dirt and leave your surfaces looking as good as new, and ready to show off to your party guests.

Upgrade the grill

Summer and spending time in the garden just wouldn’t be the same without a good old barbecue of burgers, sausages chicken and whatever other meat you want to take on. If you’re planning a summer of outdoor dinner parties and hosting, you don’t want the embarrassment of bringing out the disposables to cook. A barbecue is an investment, and if chosen wisely, can be utilised for years. Whether you’re a fan of the genuine built structure charcoal article, or something portable and gas powered, make sure you have the tools to get the job done when cooking for a large number.

Set the right tone with furniture

Garden furniture differs greatly to indoor furniture, that goes without saying. More hard wearing and expected to survive the summer elements for months on end, durability is just as important as aesthetics with outdoor furniture. When it comes to patio tables, make an informed choice to ensure it fits in with the other aesthetics of your garden. Some gardens look more at home with a wooden table and chairs, whilst others enjoy the modern feel of something made from metal and glass.

Light it up

When the sun sets and the evening hits, it shouldn’t signify a definitive end to your time outdoors. As darkness drops, it might seem logical to shift the party indoors, however if you get your outdoor lighting right, you can light up your hosting area and keep the party going outside for as long as the warmth lingers. Along with the primary purpose of allowing you to see gathering areas and people, more decorative lighting, such as Candles and lights can draw the gaze to unexpected places and create a magical atmosphere in your garden. If you have an area of the garden you’re particularly proud of, such as a flowered bed or DIY pergola, lighting is a great way to drive attention to the spot. Another innovative use of decorative lighting is through using tiki torches around the perimeter of your garden, they’re exotic and whilst they don’t provide a huge amount of light, they do add a real ambiance to the area.

 

What are your favourite summer garden additions? If you have any particular favourites you wheel out when entertaining outdoors, we’d love to hear them. Drop a comment below with your tips and advice!

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