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Kitchen hacks you can’t live without

If your kitchen is on the small side, or you just own a lot of stuff, these kitchen hacks can be a life saver. From reusing household items unconventionally, to simple storage techniques, here are some of our favourites:

TicTac Herb Storage
These durable plastic containers are a really useful and neat way of storing your herbs and spices and the small cap opening means you can control the amount of herbs/spices you distribute. The clear containers will enable you to see what’s inside, and if all your herbs and spices are in these it creates a neat, uniform drawer or container that will tessellate perfectly.

chopping board Over the Sink Chopping Board
An over the sink chopping board can temporarily expand your counter space, perfect for smaller kitchens making it easier to multi-task. You can find  these in retailers such as Ikea. Now you have no excuse not to have all the family over for lunch!

 Magazine Holders as Storage
Magazine holders are surprisingly versatile and can be used as great space-saving hacks. Store kitchen essentials such as tin foil, cling film and baking  parchment – the boxes fit perfectly in the holders which can be stored easily in your cupboards. You could also store your tins neatly, eliminating  another storage problem as the rack creates a new “wall” to store items against.

 Say Goodbye to Fridge Odours
Use kitchen staple baking soda to make pouches that you can put in your fridge to get rid of any lingering odours. You can make the pouches out of some cotton cloth, a coffee filter, or even use an old (clean!) sock. Just remember to tie it securely so you don’t have baking powder in your dinner!

Shoe Organisers in the Pantry
If you have a pantry, hanging shoe organisers on the back of the door becomes a great way to store your snacks. It effectively uses the limited space you may have and also is herbs frozeneasily accessible and quick to find what you’re looking for.

Freeze your wine
Do you often use wine in your cooking but find it hard to create space in your fridge? Pour some cooking wine into ice cube trays and pop them in the fridge. Use when you need them and save the good stuff for the fridge!

Quick and easy herbs
Another one for the freezer, pop some fresh herbs and olive oil in an ice tray and freeze them. You can take them out and put them in sauces and pastas when you need them, reducing the amount of waste from continuously buying fresh.

 

 

Image Credits: WikimediaFlickr

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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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Top tips for a house buying novice
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Top tips for a house buying novice

We all know the expense of buying your first home, and now more than ever it’s publicised just how much of a struggle it can be to take that first step on the house buying ladder. Whilst saving for a deposit and taking out a mortgage will be the main money worry you associate with the process, there are a number of other costs that you’ll be required to fork out for. If you’re unaware when it comes to some of the ‘hidden costs’, check out our guide below.

Mortgage arrangement and valuation fees

When arranging and applying for a mortgage, there are some additional fees that will be applied on top of your mortgage amount. Arrangement and valuation fees can vary in cost, in most cases being anything from £0 to £2,000. Whilst is can be added onto the overall amount of your mortgage, it will add to the overall amount you owe, whilst also potentially impacting on your interest payments.

Stamp Duty

Whilst Stamp duty has been altered of late, it will still be a major outgoing that you’ll need to budget for when house hunting. Put simply, stamp duty is a lump-sum payment that anyone buying a property or land costing more than a set amount is required to pay. The total amount that you’ll pay varies based on the value and type of property

Survey cost

Upon acceptance of your offer on any home, you’ll now need to have a survey carried out. Costing anything between £400 and £700, a survey can prove to be a costly expenditure, however they are crucial to find out about the condition of the building and, if there are problems, give you leverage for negotiating the buying price down or pulling out of the deal altogether.

Removal costs

Just because you’re moving into your very first home, doesn’t mean that you haven’t got a short lifetime of possessions that you’ll need to transport to your new place. Transporting items on your big day can prove to be a real headache, so if you want to keep fuss to a minimum, hiring a professional, quality removals provider can be one avenue open to you. Shop around, and pick a service well suited to your situational and budgetary needs.

Initial furnishing and decorating costs

Moving into your home should be a fun and exciting time, but one of the most enjoyable aspects of the move comes when you get to put your personal stamp on your new place. Decorating might not be the first thing you choose to do upon arriving, however over the coming months, you’ll need to get your house kitted out and to your liking, meaning you ought to begin budgeting for new furniture and accessories plenty in advance.

Home insurance

You might think that home insurance is something to look into once you’ve arrived at your new property, however it’s crucial that buyers always search out home insurance quotes prior to securing a property. It’s an important step to take early in the process, as it could potentially flag up issues with the property, such as a suspect neighbourhood, or the property being in an area at high risk of flooding. As is often the case when it comes to insurance, make sure that you shop around to make sure that you not only find the most relevant cover for your new property, but also the best price.

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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

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 11.29.09

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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