Last minute Christmas additions

Last minute Christmas additions

As the big day looms ever closer, and you begin to finalise your plans for Christmas Day, it’s time for First Home News to give our last minute rundown of the best accessories to add the perfect finishing touch to your home, table and day.

Personalised Table Runner – £30


Courtesy of Not On The High Street, this personalised table runner is the perfect centrepiece if you want to add an element of customisation to your Christmas table. Sure to be a talking point, and a way to make your decor truly unique, this is a must have if you want to avoid a bare looking dining table over the festive period.


Table Confetti – £2.99


Add a fun twist to your table while avoiding the tackiness of glittery confetti with these cheap and cheerful penguin and snowflake table decorations. Perfect if you’re hosting a party and looking to brighten up a buffet table, give these a scatter to add festive cheer to an otherwise drab table.


Table Place Cards – £2.75


The ideal addition for Christmas Day if you’re entertaining a large family and want to designate specific seats to diners, these tasteful yet simplistic name cards are a great and well priced addition to your table this Christmas, at just £2.75 for a packet of six from Paperchase..just make sure that you don’t spell a name wrong!


Bacon Curing Kit – £20


Want the perfect Christmas breakfast when you wake up on the 25th? How does a fresh home cured bacon sandwich sound? Ross & Ross, a small fine food company based in the Cotswolds  are currently offering you the chance to create your own home cured bacon in time for Christmas. I don’t know about you, but to us, that sounds like the perfect treat for Christmas morning, once all the presents are opened. Move quick with this one, it’s a popular favourite and will soon sell out!


Snowflake Coasters – £6


What’s Christmas dinner without a generous glass of wine? And if you’ve got the red flowing, you’ll need coasters. Add a festive touch to your table with these understated snowflake coasters from John Lewis. The perfect item if you’re wanting to mix functionality and festivity on your table this Christmas.

All images used sourced from product sale page. All headings link to product purchase web page.

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Real vs Fake: The Christmas tree debate
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Real vs Fake: The Christmas tree debate

It’s that time of year again when tradition faces up against practicality in a debate which gets replayed up and down the country every Christmas. Do you get a real tree this time or an artificial one? The truth is that both are worthy of being the focal point of your seasonal celebrations but to help you make that all-important decision, we’ve put a together a guide outlining the pros and cons of both set-ups so you can avoid any festive fall-out this year.

A Real Tree


The custom of having indoor trees arrived in the UK in the mid 1800’s and since then they have gone on to become a traditional staple of British homes during the Christmas season. For some, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without a real tree adorned with tinsel and lights and the process of getting one and then realising it might need some modifying to get it into the house has an air of nostalgia about it. This is matched by the fresh pine smell which intoxicates the room, and regardless of what some companies may tell you, this scent cannot be replaced by a festive air freshener or plug in.

For the eco-warriors amongst you, real trees are all natural and so disposing of them is easy and environmentally friendly. You also won’t have any problem having to store it, as you can just take it outside and let it bio-degrade naturally.


Real Christmas trees are an expensive investment, when compared to its artificial counterpart; especially as you’ll have to pay out year after year. The care and attention they need as well as the mess they leave behind can also be more hassle than it’s worth for some.

An Artificial Tree


The beauty of having an artificial tree is its convenience and practicality. There’s no need to stress about having to go out and choose a tree and try and force it through the front door, it’s just merely a case of getting it out of the box and assembling it. An artificial tree will also prove to be cheaper in the long term as it’s a one-time purchase and a relatively low cost one at that. They’re also easy to clean up afterwards and you’ll avoid that unenviable pain of standing on loose pine needles with bare feet.

An artificial tree also has the added benefit of always looking pristine and perfect. If you’re preoccupied with having an idealistic looking tree then an artificial one is the way to go as it will never go brown and will most likely fit your living room to size.


The flip side to all this practicality though is that artificial trees are not friendly to the environment as most of them tend to be made from PVC which is non-biodegradable and can release toxins over time. Perhaps its biggest flaw in this debate though is that it doesn’t hold the same memories of Christmas that the traditionalists yearn for.

Which one you choose is merely a matter of lifestyle and preference, but whether you go for tradition or convenience, it’s not the tree that matters but the people around it.


This guest article was provided exclusively to First Home News by Samanta Towns.

Images used under creative commons courtesy of Jean-Marc PAYET.

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Creating the perfect Christmas living room

Creating the perfect Christmas living room

Are you looking to create a warm abode this Christmas? Think mulled wine, mince pies, cosy throws and oh-so-comfy sofas. Take a look at how you can create the perfect Christmas living room over the festive period. It’ll be so toasty, you won’t want to leave!


Throws become your best buds over Christmas. Without a super soft throw you find yourself feeling cold and not in the slightest bit cosy; unless of course you’re snuggling up on the sofa with your other half! Imagine curling up on the sofa to watch your favourite Christmas film without a mug of something delicious and that essential chocolate orange…it just wouldn’t happen, would it? And it’s the same with a throw. These blankets of bliss are sure to promise you a warm winter and will no doubt ignite that festive spirit you’ve been excited about since the leaves started falling. Welcome a throw into your home this season and you’ll certainly start to feel that sense of excitement…just like when you see the ‘Coca-Cola’ advert on your screen after almost 11 months without it!

Scented Candles

Scented candles are the perfect way to create a festive ambience. There are a wide range of Christmas scents available from blends of cinnamon and cloves, to aromas of cranberry and orange. Decoratively place a scented candle on your coffee table or on your window sill and allow it to work its scintillating and aromatic magic whilst also creating a desirable candlelight ambience. Capture Christmas with a deliciously scented candle.


Decorate your home with Christmas bunting and you’ll no doubt instil that festive feel into your home. Depending on how adventurous you are, you could make the bunting yourself using Christmassy fabrics that feature prints that are adorable yet oh-so-cheesy. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?!

Christmas Trees

Finally, a Christmas tree. Christmas isn’t Christmas without a bauble-covered tree. Whether you decide to get yours from your local shop or make it a family affair by venturing down to the woods to choose your towering tree, it’s as much needed as brandy sauce is to Christmas pudding. Just please no tinsel; that certainly won’t allow you to achieve a favourable look for this jolly festivity. Whilst tinsel was once upon a time one of the only ways to adorn your tree, it’s now regarded as tacky tatter. Adorn your tree with sophisticated lights, baubles and cute handmade decorations.

One way of updating the focal point of your living room is to invest in a new sofa. If you’re not looking to splash out however, you can always accessorise your existing suite with a number of new accessories, Check out Couch, for an independent source of living room furniture.  Take a look at their range of beautifully-crafted furniture and sofa accessories and you’ll no doubt find pieces that’ll complete your home this winter.


This guest article was kindly provided by Jonathan Thomas.

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Finishing odd-jobs in time for Christmas
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Finishing odd-jobs in time for Christmas

To say it’s simply a few days of celebrations, the festive period can be an incredibly hectic period. Aside from wrapping presents and preparing food in time for the big day, you may have spotted areas of your home which require touching up or working on in preparation for the 25th With guests arriving for the celebrations, you need your home to be looking its best. As the calendar ticks over to December, there isn’t time for grand renovations, however you should have opportunity to add the finishing touches that will get your home ready for the festivities. To help you along your way, we’ve put a list together a list of the areas you may want consider touching up before Christmas

Getting rid of any clutter

If you are going to be hosting a house full of guests over Christmas, the last thing you want is to have them to  clambering over clutter. Before you contemplate decking the halls and throwing tinsel over the tree, take a look at ways in which you can declutter and create a tidy, welcoming environment for those coming to stay.

For best results, take it one room at a time and look at what is and isn’t necessary. Be practical; you may find there are plenty of items that can be discarded or removed temporarily from the room.

Make sure you have enough room to accommodate extra beds

Beyond getting rid of any clutter, if you are going to be having quite a few guests and you will be using inflatable beds, it makes sense to move things around to accommodate them while you have the time. Of course, also make sure you have a pump and that it works.

Finish off any odd-jobs

They’re the nagging jobs on your to-do list that you just never get around to doing. Whether it’s fixing the lock on the bathroom door, replacing light bulbs or hanging those mirrors that have been leaning up against the wall for the last few months, take a look at the odd-jobs you haven’t got around to doing and make the time to do them.

Change your door knobs

If you want to make some stylish changes in your home before Christmas, door knobs are an excellent place to start. Often overlooked, door knobs featuring ornate detail can transform existing doors without having to replace them. Consider Victorian door knobs which feature plenty of grandiose detail but are perfect for both contemporary and traditional interiors.

Giving your skirting boards and door frames a lick of paint

Freshen up a room by concentrating on the smaller details. Through every day wear and tear, skirting boards and door frames can become grubby, discoloured and in generally in need of some TLC. Give them the love they need and make your home look a little fresher with a lick of paint.

Clean the carpets

Hire a carpet cleaner for the weekend and really get deep into your floors. It’s amazing just how dirty carpets can get and we guarantee you’ll be amazed at the results once you have given them a deep clean with a specifically formulated carpet shampoo.

Make use of fold-up chairs

If you’re going to be having a lot of guests over for dinner, it’s wise to make use of folding chairs as these can be easily stored away when not in use and will save you from reanacting a scene from a comedy sketch where everyone is sitting on chairs of varying heights.

This guest article was exclusively written for First Home News by Dean Ronnie.

Photo credit: Jonas Nordlund via Flickr

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Winter colour schemes for your home

Winter colour schemes for your home

When the summer is over, and you think it’s time to get your home ready for the winter, colours play a large role. There is no better way of readying your rooms for the colder seasons than to implement a good, well suited colour scheme for the coming months, be it through incorporating new items and accessories into your rooms, or by having a re-decorate and painting your walls in a way which readies them for the season. If you’re looking for the best colours to implement into your home this winter, here are the top picks.


Implementing a bold colour will really make an impact in your room. Outside, it’s highly likely that the weather will be drab, having a dulling effect on much of your home. Counteract that by really going bold with your decoration. Purples and reds are great, as they help to add a splash of vibrancy to an area. Whilst it might be a bit much to  decorate an entire room in such a colour, implementing it on a feature wall, or through some new accessory additions could be a winner.


Around the home, blue is always a popular shade. If you’re wanting to keep it bold, then opting for a vibrant and striking shade will work well, and as blue is more of a staple home colour, it can be utilised more lavishly without fear of being overpowering. Whilst living areas often go for a more neutral colour, blue can again be utilised as a feature wall. If you don’t fancy making that statement in one of your key rooms, then start off by introducing it in a room of a more creative ilk. Blues often go well in the bathroom, and can definitely often be found in the kitchen.


If you fancy incorporating elements of the season into your room, now is the time to add shades of green to your home. Whilst you’re unlikely to want to bring brown indoors, shades of green are very well matched with the base colours of cream, beige and caramel you expect to see in most homes. Whether your preference is a more vibrant emerald, or something that brings an earthier tone, such as a pine green or teal, green works well, especially through autumn and leading up to the festive period.


If you just want to go back to basics, contrasting black and white is an intense but simple combination of colours that, when utilised correctly, can give off a truly elegant feel. Sometimes, it can be tough to get right, and incorporating an abundence of zebra-esque stripes might not be ideal for the feel of a room, but a good contrast, be it through gleaming white walls with black accessories, or a similar juxtaposition from floor to walls, can make for an inspired colour scheme. For some of the best black and white options, check out these tips from interior designers.


We’d love to hear your thoughts on autumn decorating! If you’ve given one of your rooms a referb, let us know what style you went for in the comments section below.


Photo credit: Free to use & share image from

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Affordable ways to freshen up your bathroom decor
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Affordable ways to freshen up your bathroom decor

When the average person decorates a home, the bathroom rarely gets much attention. Perhaps it’s relegated to room-of-necessity status, and therefore doesn’t warrant much on the design front. Even so, a few intentional flourishes – and not necessarily expensive ones – can work wonders for this room. Here are a few tips on how you can freshen up the bathroom without breaking the bank in the process:

1. Splash a bit of colour on the walls. Bathrooms are notoriously drab when it comes to colour and decoration. It seems most homeowners are content to whitewash the room and settle for the odd decoration in the windowsill or above the sink. Add a bold splash of colour to the mix, and you suddenly have a much livelier space that is considerably warmer and more inviting.

2. Add some artwork to the mix. There is certainly nothing wrong with hanging some artwork in the bathroom. When it comes to creativity, the bathroom often gets overlooked, but that only means that you can really transform the space by embracing your creative flair. This is a chance for you to express your personality. Don’t feel the need to limit yourself to pictures of flowers or country farm landscapes. For more, check out this list of tips on hanging art in the bathroom.

3. Incorporate tiles into the decor. Adding tiles to the countertop or even as a backsplash behind the sink is not going to set you back much – especially if you install them yourself. Well-placed tiles add colour to the space, which needs to tie into the overall colour motif already at work in the bathroom. If you do take a DIY approach to tiling a countertop, make sure that you run a bead of caulk between each tile to keep water from seeping in, fostering mildew and doing damage.

4. Re-glaze old, worn-out fixtures. If you have any vintage or worn-out metal fixtures in the bathroom, have a closer look to see if they could use a new finish. Purchasing new fixtures is downright expensive, but having them professionally re-glazed is going to cost significantly less. It’s a subtle but effective way to inject some new sparkle into a worn-out bathroom.

5. Repurpose vintage furniture. This is a wildly popular way to liven up the decor in any room of the house. In the bathroom, you have to be a bit more creative, as a lot of furniture wouldn’t really fit in this room. One clever approach is to take an old vanity, cut a hole in the top and fit your sink into it. Suddenly, you have a hand basin, a mirror and – depending on the vanity – some extra storage space down below.

6. Make a sink skirt. In many cases, the dirtiest place in the bathroom is underneath the sink. Rust and grime have a habit of building up here. Naturally, you want to keep your bathroom as clean as possible, but there are situations in which – no matter how much cleaning you do under the sink – it still looks a bit frightening. If this situation sounds familiar, tasteful sink skirt may be just the solution. You can fashion one out of a bed sheet without any sewing necessary. Here is a tutorial that shows you how.

7. Refresh your countertops with new accessories. Sometimes, breathing a fresh breath of life into the bathroom is as simple as reorganising the countertops. You may not even have to go shopping. Search the cupboards for attractive mugs, jars and bowls that you can use to arrange some of your toiletries. A ceramic saucer or small plate could even be used as a soap rest. Take this opportunity to remove unsightly items from the countertops as well. For example, a can of shaving cream is probably better off stored in the cabinets rather than displayed out for everyone to see.

8. Add a bouquet of fresh flowers. Fresh flowers can liven up any room – and the bathroom is certainly no exception. If the season is right, try slipping a few wildflowers from the garden into a small vase placed either on the countertop or on a stand by the bathtub. If you are looking for a longer-term option, purchase an orchid from a local garden supply shop and hang it on the wall. Orchids can survive for a long time with minimal care, so there’s no need to change it out.

9. Look for ways to tie everything together. Perhaps the most important decorating tip for any room of the house is to be intentional with your tie-ins. Purchase a bathmat that matches your shower curtains. Likewise, choose an accent colour to showcase ever so often – in the tiles of the backsplash, tied into a painting in the wall and featured again in a vase on the windowsill. Being intentional with colour tie-ins can subtly transform a previously drab room into something truly memorable.

Many thanks to Thomas Smith, a freelance writer for Total Bathroom Enterprises,  for contributing this exclusive article to First Home News

Image credit: athomenetwork, license Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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Autumn heating options

Autumn heating options

As we head into autumn and the summer sun begins to seem like a distant memory, here in the UK our attention turns to keeping warm, rather than trying to head out and enjoy the outdoors. If you’re looking to prepare your home and garden for the cooler autumn and impending winter, here are our favourite options for heating your home.

Wood Burner

Our top tip when it comes to heating the home with an element of style is to install a wooden log burner in your house. 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. Easy on the eye and carrying an element of back to basics style, a log burner can be a great visible addition to any communal room.


They’re the go-to option in every home, however that doesn’t mean that you have to sit back and accept bog-standard radiator options in your home. Whilst the standard central heating and radiator method is seen in every home, when you’re wanting to make a real design splash in a room, why not push the boat out with something a little more flamboyant that can make a statement. If you want to get creative, here are some simple yet eye catching options.

Bathroom Rack

In many homes, through the colder months radiators double up as a spot for drying clothes. As part of many modern bathrooms, heated towel radiators have become commonplace, meaning you can heat the area whilst also having a convenient method of drying towels. In addition, heated towel rails are specifically designed to retain heat within the vicinity of the operating fitting, meaning they’re not only great at keeping towels warm for once you get out of the shower, but are great at keeping the room warm when the shower and bath are in use.

Patio Heater

Whilst summer may now feel like a distant memory, heating garden areas through early autumn can make spending time outdoors enjoyable. Items such as chimineas can be utilised as more of a style piece, adding a touch of class to a chosen area. On mild summer weekends, providing a form of patio heating means your outdoor areas won’t be deemed out of bounds by winter just yet.

If you’re a new home owner readying your home for the autumn and colder winter, we’d love to hear your thoughts and top tips on keeping warm over the coming months.

Image credit: Free to use courtesy of Pixabay.

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It’s week two of First Home Views, and the chance to win an amazing interior design book

It’s week two of First Home Views, and the chance to win an amazing interior design book

It’s that time of the week again, as we want to hear your First Home Views. The easy to enter competition gives you the chance to win the fantastic new interior design book, BrightBazaar; the brainchild of world-renowned blogger, Will Taylor.

So it’s time for us to once again turn the spotlight onto you lot – our readers – giving you the chance to share your wealth of house and home advice on a variety of topics.

Barbecue season is currently in full swing, and many of us will be cooking up a selection of meats over the charcoal flames this over the coming days; so this week, all we want you to tell us is your favourite barbecue recipe.

To enter, just leave your top recipe in a comment below this article. We’ll be announcing the winner on Monday. Good luck!

Bright Bazaar has an RRP of £25, and is available from Amazon. The book explores specific colour palettes for every room in your home to give you the confidence, knowledge and inspiration to get your colour choices right first time. Packed with personality and heart, playful but informative, engaging but practical, Bright Bazaar is brimming with ideas that work.

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Room arrangement and design mistakes

Room arrangement and design mistakes

Style is a personal preference, and what looks incredible in the eyes of one person might have the opposite effect on someone else. Despite being an entirely subjective premise however, there are some mistakes when it comes to design that are relatively set in stone. The good news is some of them can easily be fixed if you have the knowledge and appropriate skills to put it right.

As a homeowner, you’ll find that renovations and home improvements are always a consideration at the back of your mind. Keeping your home clean is important, however, there will be times when, even after a thorough clean, you’re not overly impressed with the freshness of the space.

If you’re looking to carry out some home improvements, make sure you check out our top three mistakes that home owners make when redesigning an area of the home.


Too Much Clutter

When you move into a new house, it’s inevitable that you’ll attempt to transfer all your existing possessions into the new space, however too many decorations and leads to a cluttered and untidy look. When moving into a new home and doing your initial decorating, remember that the fewer items you have, the more spacious your house will look. If you manage to keep the clutter under control, you’ll make your place better looking, as it’ll have a more clean, crisp and smart look.

One way to fix the clutter problem is to consider which items you can deal without. Prior to moving, make sure you have a good sweep and discard any items you no longer need or want. Make sure you take a ruthless approach to clearing shop, as keeping something due to sentimental value is a real hoarding trait; the last thing you want to do it empty out old rubbish from the back of your wardrobes in the old place, and transfer it  straight to your new home.


Bad Furniture Arrangement

Sometimes a living room may look small because of how you have arranged the furniture in the room, as it’s easy to poorly utilise the space of a room, resulting in your space being confined.  Furniture plays an important role for the appearance of a room. If there are too many furnishings, the place will undoubtedly look cramped and cluttered. Similarly, it’s important to place your items in a way which creates a good flow; whilst it might not sound like much, making sure you get positions and angles right can be one major factor in creating a homely space.

If you don’t like the way your room feels, it’s easy to correct with a movement of furniture. It can often be an exercise in trial and error, as what works for someone else might not necessarily work for you.


Poor Lighting

It might sound simple, however lighting arrangements play a drastic role in the feel of your room. Again, angles play an important role, as does getting your spacing correct. If you have a statement piece of art, or decoration in a room, make it a focal point through the use of inventive lighting. Make sure you utilise any natural light sources available to you, as a dark and dingy room through the day won’t have a good feel and ambiance.  Sometimes you may simply need more lighting. It provides a more spacious feel and can often be a simple fix. Lamps are a great accessory and can help add another dimension to your rooms.


The article is written on behalf of TidyCleaning N1

Photo Credit: marcp_dmoz via Compfight cc

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Common rookie DIY mistakes and how to avoid them
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Common rookie DIY mistakes and how to avoid them

You watch one YouTube tutorial and it all seems to make sense; you can fix that busted pipe or you can build that bookcase no problem. The reality is however, you’ll probably end up flooding your home or less calamitously, with wonky shelves. Here are the 5 mistakes most commonly made by rookies and how you can avoid falling into their trap.

Failing to Get a Building Permit

Different cities and authorities have different levels of leniency when it comes to DIY projects and building regulations, but you should always get a building permit just to be on the safe side. If you’re building a sizeable structure or extending your home and fail to get a permit, the local authority can close your project at will.

How to Avoid this Rookie Mistake: Quite simply consult your local authority and seek building regulations approval.


Starting the Job without the Correct Supplies

Even when you have suddenly been struck with a bolt of inspiration and want to get to work immediately, it is important that you source all of the correct supplies before beginning the project. Having to make multiple trips to attain all of the supplies as and when you need them will only slow down the process and impinge upon the project. This is particularly pertinent in projects that change the structure of a building, such as the replacement of any doors. If you remove the doors and chuck them in a skip before finishing the replacement doors, you might have a big hole in the front of your home for an unforeseen amount of time.

How to Avoid this Rookie Mistake: Fill out a DIY Checklist.


Relaxed Atmosphere, Relaxed Attitude Towards Safety. There is a worrying attitude that safety equipment is just there to satisfy health and safety inspectors and foreman paranoia. However, safety equipment plays a very serious role in both large scale construction sites and small DIY projects alike. Whether it is goggles protecting your eyes from welding sparks or protective gloves, stopping you chopping fingers off; if you are working with sharp, heavy or dangerous tools and supplies, it is important to protect yourself and any people you have brought over to help you out.

How to Avoid this Rookie Mistake: Consider all of the possible dangers you may encounter on the site and seek the correct safety items. Manchester Safety Services stocks a large selection of safety equipment items for a wide range of construction and DIY jobs.


Wonky Shelving A job well done can quickly become undone if measurements are slightly off. Even a few degrees off centre and a bookshelf can be completely ruined with books, DVDs and picture frames sliding to one end of the new build. This can be both unsightly and impractical, especially when priceless Ming Vases are involved.

How to Avoid this Rookie Mistake: Don’t skimp on a spirit level. Invest in a spirit level from a trusted brand and learn how to use it properly.


Incorrect Paint Preparation Painting walls may seem like the simplest of all the DIY tasks, so much so that it often takes place as part of a painting party involving beer, buffets and a little bit of graft. However, there are a myriad of problems encountered by painters as they attempt to give a room a new lease of life and freshen things up. Many people seem to think the only consideration that needs to be taken into account when choosing paint is the colour. However, it is necessary to consider the surface of the painted area as some paints are ill fitted for use of certain surfaces. If you are stripping wallpaper, then painting, it is important to check the surface behind the paper before committing to a type of paint. Secondly, painting a wall is not a simple case of slathering on the paint. The surface needs to be prepared sufficiently so it is flat and receptive to the paint. This means painstakingly removing all wallpaper and filling in any gaps. And finally, it is vital that all areas around the painted surfaces are protected from the paint. This means that all floors and furnishings must be covered before work commences, lest paint splatter everywhere. Furthermore, pets and children must be kept away to safeguard against unwanted hand and paw prints. Sufficient drying time needs to be allowed before people can enter the room again to protect against unfortunate smudging accidents.

How to Avoid this Rookie Mistake: Research, prepare, be careful.


Are you a DIY god or do you struggle with the simplest of tasks? Let us know your top tips, or the story of your recent DIY attempts below!

Photo Credit: jef safi via Compfight cc

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