Sweeten up your home décor with our six favourite foodie accessories

Sweeten up your home décor with our six favourite foodie accessories

Christmas time, the curse of a sweet tooth strikes again! Surely it’s not just us finding all the delicious treats that start appearing (usually in the form of a chocolate box…on our laps…in front of festive classics) irresistible? This Christmas, entertain the candy-theme in your home décor. Anyone else feeling hungry?

Cupcake Slippers – Asos – £15

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ASOS

These adorably scrumptious slippers are the perfect winter warmer and will keep your toes super toasty. We love the sweet pastels of this cupcake design – almost good enough to eat!

Blue Gummy Bear Light – Flamingo Gifts – £24.99

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Flamingo Gifts

 

One hundred times bigger than your usual gummy bear, this battery powered lamp is sure to make you smile with its squishy belly and variety of colours. On a one-hour automatic timer, these gummy bears make ideal night lights with their gentle glow.

Milk Bottle Candle – Joy – £7

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Joy

 

If a vintage vibe is more your style, this milk bottle candle will bring a unique touch to a rustic themed room. The sweet vanilla scent will have your home smelling like a delicious bakery – perfect for when guests come round this Christmas!

 

Ice Cream Neon Light – Asos – £70

 

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ASOS

Rocking the retro vibe once again, this ice cream shaped neon light is a fabulously kitsch accessory that will make an ideal gift for any ice cream lover. Think 1950’s diner, complete with black and white check floors, booth style seating and a Cadillac in the driveway (well, we can dream!).

Macaron Print – Etsy – £5.62

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Etsy

 

For fans of French patisserie, this print-at-home macaron design will be a beautiful addition to the kitchen or bedroom. Pair with a minimalistic or rustic-looking frame to bring a sweet touch to any room.

 

Pink Sprinkled Doughnut Cushion – Claires – £12

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Claires

 

Mmmmm doughnuts…

 

Release your inner Homer Simpson with this deliciously cool doughnut pillow. It may not be the most sophisticated taste but we love its fun and retro style. Perfect

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What can first time buyers expect to get for their money?

 

It’s no secret that getting on the first rung of the property ladder can be an extremely difficult task, with many first time buyers struggling to meet the high costs involved with purchasing their first home.

According to Rightmove first time buyers can now expect to pay an average of £169,414 to get their foot on the ladder – that’s an increase of 7.6 per cent on last year’s figures. A recent report by The Independenlondon flats 2t also revealed that unaffordable housing is forcing first time buyers out of the home towns they’ve grown up in and love.

So, what can first time buyers expect to get for their money?

London living

Reports claim that those hoping to buy in the notoriously expensive London need to be earning a whopping £77,000 a year to afford the capital’s average house price of £384,856. However, if the national average of £169,414 is more in your price range, you’re likely to be looking at a one bedroom flat in north London or The Isle of Dogs. The sizes may be “bijou” but many would argue that the lack of space is a small price to pay for the opportunity to live so close to the big city and all it has to offer.

A quiet lifeisle of wight
If you enjoy the open air, a slow pace of living and love the sea, perhaps a house across the Solent may be of interest?  You can buy a spacious three bed semi  in the more rural/coastal parts of the Isle of Wight, offering outside space and with a beach never more than 20 minutes away. You can expect to get a lot more for your money than if you buy around the nearby commuter belt of the south east.

 Go up north
Moving further up north to Cumbria, you could enjoy a three bedroom detached property in areas such as Wigton or Windermere. Prices generally are lower in the north with many areas such as Leeds in Yorkshire or the suburbs of Newcastle offering semi-detached or terraced properties with a garden for the average asking price. However, you may find that prices begin to rise the closer you get to the city centre – notably in the larger cities such as Leeds, where you could possibly purchase a two bedroom apartment for the same price as a house several miles down the road.

 How are you finding prices in your area? Do you plan on buying closer to home, or do you have to look elsewhere for something more affordable?

Image Credit: GeographGeograph

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Attaining a stylish garden

zen Gardens are an important part of any home; they’re a place to be at one with nature, to enjoy peace and tranquility in between neighbours mowing their  lawns, and relax whilst soaking up the sun (the little amount that we get). In true Brit-style, we’ll take any smidgeon of sunlight emerging from behind  the clouds as an excuse to crack open the beers and get the BBQ going, but this is almost impossible to predict. It’s therefore important that your garden  is ready for any impromptu summer barbecues, parties or outdoor get-together’s you may decide to host, and we think that one simple yet effective way  of doing this is to replicate the style of your home from the inside, out.

Imagine yourself in your living room minus all of its furnishings; you probably wouldn’t want to spend much time in there would you? Well the same  applies to your garden. Decorating your garden with plants is only the first step in creating a harmonious and stylish area, but furniture is an  increasingly vital element. There are a range of different furniture designs available to suit your desired garden style and theme. For example, Japanese Zen gardens have become very popular in recent years and are a modern favourite in garden design. Some others include Mediterranean, Tuscan, and Traditional English country for example. Allocating a theme to your garden will enable you to stay within a colour palette, chose materials complimentary of one another and above all, avoid mismatched items.

Choosing your Style

When looking for garden furniture, you made find than you’re overwhelmed by the vast number of different types and styles that are available.ratan furniture

For a more traditional and classic look, there are many different types of wooden furniture that are of high quality and well-made to look simple but effective. Rattan is also a great choice of furniture that is extremely charming. Rattan is made from superior quality resin and comes in two different types: Flat weave is a more cost-friendly and gives a more modern look whereas round weave is more traditional and perhaps a little more attractive and luxurious. Metal too has the potential to be attractive and luxurious and is conveniently simple to maintain. For a more modern appearance, darker coloured furniture such as black is more appropriate, or even sheer white – however white furniture, particularly fabric coated ones can be difficult to clean, but is nevertheless just as beautiful.

 

Picking up the Pieces

Garden furniture doesn’t have to be dull, however many flock towards the standard green or white plastic chair and table sets or the regular old wooden pieces. Not  that there is anything wrong with this, but your garden should be a place you actively want to return to due to its beauty and charm. Furthermore, many shy away  from the more interesting types of garden furniture as it is often found to be pricey or overindulgent. However, realistically you do not have to spend that much  money and stylish garden furniture can be picked up at a decent enough price.

You first need to establish what type of furniture you are looking for. Are you looking for an outside dining set, chairs, a coffee table, a bench, sofas or something  else? Are you buying according to a theme? You also need to think about who will be using the furniture and when.

Chairs and sofas are great for if you host an occasion or get together and even to also create an outside relaxation area. You may be more interested in purchasing  an outside dining table, allowing you and your family to enjoy the evening, or perhaps a coffee table for reading your book with a cup of tea or coffee. There are  many different arrangements to choose from, it’s simply about finding the right one to suit you.

 

About the author

Laura Morrissey

 

Laura Morrissey is a digital content editor and home improvement enthusiast at George F Knowles Furniture. She is a native of Liverpool with an interest in high quality craftsmanship & traditional luxury furnishings and passionately writing about them.

 

Image Credits: PixabayStatic FlickrOutdoorWickerFurniture.com

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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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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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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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The Pursuit of Happiness: Searching for the perfect first home.
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The Pursuit of Happiness: Searching for the perfect first home.

House hunting is a tough game. House after house, viewing after viewing and offer after offer – it can easily become a mind numbing cycle.

As a first time buyer, the pursuit of your perfect home can be daunting. There are tonnes of ‘how to’s’ and ‘top tip’s’ flooding the internet, but not to worry, we can lead you through the maze!

The first thing that needs to be said is try not to get too bogged down on looks. ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’, ‘looks are deceiving’, ‘beauty is only skin deep’, we’ve all heard the sayings, but it’s true. Houses can be hiding secrets behind those perfectly painted walls; mould, damp… the list goes on. Falling in love with a home too soon can be a bad idea too; not only could the estate agent get a whiff and make you pay for it, but you could be setting yourself on the path for heartbreak. Ultimately, they do say location is everything. It’s always worth really grilling the estate agent to make sure you’re in the safe zone.

Speaking about the safe zone, have you really researched the area fully? Are crime rates low? A great website for this is crime-statistics.co.uk, it only takes a few moments to pop in the postcode and find out exactly what the surrounding areas are like. Asking neighbours or visiting at a different time of day is always a good idea to get a true feel for the area. Have you thought about what’s nearby? Trekking a mile for a pint of milk isn’t exactly ideal. Go for a look around to get a feel for the area, you might just find the perfect reason to stay!

So what if it’s a bit of a ‘fixer-upper’? No problem, just make sure don’t get yourself in too deep. If you’re a dab hand at DIY and have some cash left in your budget, turning that house into a home yourself is a great idea. But if you’re no good at this, a new build could be right up your street! This is where buying a newly built property can be a good idea.

So whether this is your first buy or not, just enjoy the hunt. It’s about the pursuit of a happy home after all.

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Simple steps for decorating your bedroom on a budget

Simple steps for decorating your bedroom on a budget

Moving into your first home is an exciting time. Independence, freedom, the sense of accomplishment. It’s your own space to decorate and get exactly to your liking. Decorating your house for the first time can be daunting task and expensive, so you’ll want to take things one room at a time. To kick things off, we’ll begin with the bedroom and provide our top three tips to keeping within a budget.

Choosing a colour scheme

If, as is the case with many people, you think visually then you may want to start planning on a mood board. This process will help you organise your thoughts so you don’t get overwhelmed. You can physically create this on a cork board using magazine clippings etc. or you can join the modern world and achieve the same effect online for free. With social sites such as Pinterest and Instagram, you can build up a virtual mood board with infinite space and resources.

Colour is everything; you can empty your bank account to make your bedroom look right, but get the colours wrong and you may as well be burning that cash. Make it easy on yourself and use the 3,5,7 rule; this is just a general rule of thumb for placing accessories, artwork and furniture into groups of 3,5 or 7. You can follow this rule when choosing your colours. Begin by choosing your accent colour. Then based on your accent colour, pick two colours that coordinate with it, for example, a forest green accent colour is complemented by baby blue and off white. There are a number of websites you can turn to for colour matching such as Adobe’s Kuler. The benefit of using a colour wheel is that you know the colours are going to complement one another. By choosing colours at random you run the risk of them clashing and later in down the line, so when you begin buying items for your room they won’t work and you’ll have second thoughts.

Choosing a theme

Don’t let the term theme restrict you; a theme could be a style or particular feel you like and want to translate in your room. Your theme should reflect your personality because when it’s all finished you’re the one who should feel comfortable. Your theme doesn’t have to be something loud and garish, and could just be subtle in nature, such as keeping the room light and airy. Similar to having a colour scheme, having a theme will help you be selective with spending money. Visualise your room and keep asking yourself if things fit? Also keep in mind symmetry; you want your room to have balance to it. If you have a lamp on one side of your bed, opt for the same lamp on the other side as well.

The details

The final touches to your bedroom are the clever part, there are so many tricks to save money and it won’t affect the quality or style of your bedroom. The use of wall decals is an inexpensive way to give your room character. Adding cushions is possibly the cheapest way to round off you room, but don’t go too crazy. As a rule, pillows and cushions shouldn’t take up more than half of the bed. Mix it up with different sizes and shapes. If your sticking to the 3,5,7 rule try and employ a level of organisation in the way you display your items to keep it neat and tidy.

It’s all about what you want out of your bedroom, but make sure you don’t skimp on research and planning, as is important that you don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. It’s your room, your space and your choice so have fun with it, and when it’s all finished enjoy it.

This article was kindly provided exclusively to First Home News by Shelly Dawson. Shelly has worked in the home decorating industry for over ten years and loves to write helpful advice articles in her spare time. 

Image used under creative commons courtesy of jinkazamah.

 

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New homes: The houseboat of the future

New homes: The houseboat of the future

We all know now notoriously difficult it can prove to take that first step on the property ladder. But sometimes, amongst all the house shopping, it can be nice to have a bit of a dream, and imagine the situation if we were able to ‘splash out’ – literally in this case, on something luxurious.

WaterNest-100-by-ecoflolife-41-537x302

It might not sound like the dream to many, but this unique, state of the art, UK manufactured home gives you the scenery of a waterside property, without having to give up any of your favourite the solar-powered Water Nest 100, which has recently featured in the news isn’t your ordinary house boat.

WaterNest-100-by-ecoflolife-31-537x302

The solar-powered Water Nest can be placed on any lake or river and is completely powered by solar energy.

Developed in our very own nation by EcoFloLife in London, it has been designed by Italian architect Giancarlo Zema and is nothing like the houseboats we’ve come to expect before. Big enough in size to accommodate a small family, it boasts two bedrooms and a number of extremely plush other multi-purpose rooms, the likes of which you’d expect to see in a standard house. Rather than being a boat with added room for accommodation, this truly is a house that floats on water.

WaterNest-100-by-ecoflolife-21-537x302

With the largest model boasting 1,076 square feet of floor space plus additional balconies, for homeowners to relax on and take in the views from the waterside balconies. We’re sold.

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Money tips for beginners
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Money tips for beginners

If you’re taking the first steps in the home buying process, finance is one area in which you’ll be needing some guidance. When it comes to money management, we’re no experts – that’s what your bank or financial advisor is for; however what we are capable of doing is pointing you in the right direction – we know just how confusing it can be to get reliable facts and figures. As a first time home buyer, there’s probably no current aspect of your life as important as money. We know that the home buying process is a costly one, and even once you finally secure your dream place, you’re likely to still have jobs to do that will place you under further financial strain. If you’re struggling to wrap your head around finances and just want some tips on keeping your money safe, we’ve got you covered with some basic advice.

Online banking

In the modern day, we all live a hectic life. Gone are the days when you’d need to take a trip to your local branch to check your balance. Nowadays, for the most part, customers like to be able to control their finances at the touch of a button. Most banks now offer services online, however some are easier to navigate than others. Before you jump into your decision, check out the online banking services offered by banks, along with their smartphone apps – as that’s likely to be the quickest way you’ll have of keeping on top of finances.

If you prefer to conduct your banking over the counter at your local branch, then you need to make sure you have regular access. It’s all well and good selecting a bank and opening a current account online, but if you encounter problems and need to speak to someone face to face, you need to make sure you aren’t required to trek miles out of your way.

Check out your bank account features

If you’re just after a standard current account with no frills, then you’ve got hundreds of options to chose from; however many accounts offer at the very least, bonuses and perks to assist your financial situation. It could be something as simple as an interest free overdraft (which not all accounts have) to something more lucrative, like cash back on supermarket and petrol station purchases. If you’re coming off the back of a big house purchase, money won’t be flowing as freely as you’d hope, so an interest free overdraft, just to be utilised whilst money is tight could be a godsend. Shop around and view the overdrafts on offer at different banks and see which best suits your needs

Get the best deal

In an age where there are more different account options than ever before, many banks are now looking to lure you in with deals. Make sure you check out what offers0 you can get before opening an account. Things like cashback accounts now offer to pay you money back on purchases such as groceries and petrol, and other banks even offer you cash to switch to one of their accounts. Make sure you shop around, and take advantage of the deals on offer.

Graduate benefits

If you’re still a student, or are a recent graduate, then there are special accounts still available for you which offer things like overdrafts and freebies. The Young Persons Railcard has always been a popular sweetener for banks when it comes to luring in custom, and things like restaurant discount cards and gadget insurance are also available at banks, as a means of saving you money.

Compare your options

Once you’ve weighed up options and garnered what benefits and drawbacks all the different accounts have, head to a comparison site to compare your options for one last time.

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