How to make your home pet friendly

Many landlords have strict ‘no pets’ policies meaning renters are forced to live without a furry, loyal companion in their home. Once you become a homeowner, you may therefore be tempted to rush into buying a pet, but there are many factors you need to consider before you adopt a Pug or Labrador! The main one being ‘is my home pet friendly?’ Here’s what you need to do to make sure it is…

Fur babies

  • A good rule of thumb when pet-proofing your house is to use similar health and safety measures as those you’d use for a baby or toddler. From hiding electric cables behind appliances to not leaving lit candles out, do a risk assessment around your home and try to spot all potential hazards!
  • Putting child locks on your kitchen cupboards can prevent a variety of incidents! Many every day food items, such as grapes or chocolate, are highly toxic to dogs so it is essential you lock your cupboards to avoid tragedy.
  • If you hpugave a small or young pet, invest in a child’s stair gate to avoid any nasty falls as they learn how to navigate the steps. Alternatively, you can pop it on your kitchen door to keep out any hungry pups!

Decorate for your dogs

  • Cream carpets and expensive sofas may be your décor of choice, but with a pet (especially a dog!) it may prove less than practical. Good quality wooden flooring or tiles are much easier to clean, especially when house training, and doesn’t show up those pesky dog hairs!
  • When buying a new sofa, make sure you get one with removable covers so they are easy to clean. Choosing a natural colour is also great at hiding that summer fur shedding.

Glorious garden

  • Your garden should be your pet’s paradise. Be sure that it is completely safe by making it fully fenced, with no gaps and potential repair work needing to be done. This not only protects your pet from escaping, but also lowers the risk of your beloved friend being stolen.
  • Prevent a tragedy by making sure your garden is also completely poison-free. Avoid putting down slug pellets and look out for any hazardous plants that could make your pet ill, even cocoa chips in gardens are highly poisonous to dogs who mistake them for chocolate due to the smell.
  • Make sure that all ponds are covered; your dog may like a dip in the sea but for don’t expect your smaller animals to be good swimmers!cat

Safety first

Just as with children, make sure that you keep your house as safe as possible by closing windows and closing appliances such as your oven. Cats are notorious for finding cosy spots to sleep the day away in and can easily be missed while snoozing in the washing machine. The same is applied to open windows with many cats having serious or even fatal accidents by falling from a great height.

Do you have any helpful advice on how to keep your home pet friendly? Pop your tips in the comments below.

 

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Five ways to recreate vintage style in the home

Are you bored of minimal modernity and craving the class and sophistication of the ‘Mad Men’ era? Perhaps you dream about the rustic charms of turn of the century French country chic? Whatever style you choose, we have some helpful advice on how to achieve your perfect vintage home.

Embrace you erastairs

Select an era you want to emulate, from 1920’s art deco glamour to the homely yet kitsch vibe of a mid-century abode, choose your pieces wisely to achieve true authenticity. However, if done correctly, taking differe    nt inspiration from various eras can also work well for an unconventional yet effortlessly cool home. Pinterest  has some fabulous ideas to transform your home into a wonder of the past.

History in colour

Choosing the right colour scheme for your vintage home is just as important as the furniture, from the dark and striking colours of early 20th century America, to the bold statement prints of the 1960s, each provide a snapshot into that time period. Vintage paint companies such as Grand Illusions, and chalk paint powerhouse Annie Sloan provide a vast selection of high quality paints in a range of colours.

 Blooming Beautifulwallpaper

Don’t restrict the power of the flower to the garden; brighten up your lounge and bedroom with some floral patterned pieces for a groovy 70’s vibe. If you’re a dab hand at sewing, seek out fabric offcuts and vintage themed samples from your local haberdashery to rework old furnishings or make new pieces.

Recycle old treasures

Give antique finds a second lease of life by bringing them into your home. On a budget? By scouring thrift shops and car boot sales you could find a variety of incredible items from the past, without paying “vintage store” prices. Also, spending a little time on EBay can uncover a treasure trove of retro furniture and home accessories, perfect for any vintage home. DIY savvy? Distress an old piece of furniture or reupholster a plain chair to turn it into a wonderful one off piece – the possibilities are endless.

Be inspired by sideboardothers

The internet is a wonderful place to discover inspiration with fantastic interior design blogs, inspirational websites such as Houzz  and Pinterest. However, as well as this why don’t you look a little closer to home? Speak to your relatives who have lived through these fantastic decades and ask to see photos of their homes back in the day. You never know, you may get your very own interior designer to help out in the form of your Grandparent!

Image Credits: Deviant ArtWikimedia, Wikimedia

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

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

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

Close the curtains

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

Are you looking after yourself?

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

Any excuse not to cook…

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

Choose the right bed

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

Let your heat rise

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

 

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

Image Credit: WikimediaDeviant Art

 

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11 Tips for an Easy and Affordable New Home Makeover

You’ve got a new house, but it doesn’t quite feel like home yet. Give your new place the makeover it needs to make it feel like it’s truly yours.

We’ve put together a list of 11 things you can do to drastically change the appearance of your home, easily and affordable. By the time you’re done, the old owners won’t even recognize the place anymore.

 1. A FreshFarbroller Coat of Paint

Perhaps the most cost-effective way to dramatically change the appearance of any room, a fresh layer of paint is the first order of business for any new  home makeover.

 2. Install Interior Shutters

Swinging wood shutters add charm and privacy to your home. They’re also easy to install.

 3. Refinish Kitchen Cabinets

You don’t have to replace the cabinets to make your kitchen look brand new and you don’t need very many supplies for this project either. Some cleaner, sandpaper, paint brush, the finish of your choice, and a weekend of time is all you need.

4. Refinish Your Wood Door

Damp weather and bright sunshine damage the appearance of your front door over time. Rather than replacing it, you can refinish it with a few affordable supplies.

5. Power Wash Your Deck

If the previous owner failed to maintain their deck, chances are it has more blemishes than you can count. However, a power wash and thorough scrubbing can revive that old deck in no time.

6. Install Stair Bracketsdeck_washing

Decorative stair brackets added to the exposed side of your staircase adds architectural flair and elegance. They’re easy to install using adhesive and nails.

7. Add a Back Splash to Your Kitchen

Backs splashes are affordable, easy to install, and easy to clean. With so many options available you can find exactly what you want to complement your kitchen.

8. Update Kitchen and Bathroom Faucets

You can find stylish and functional faucets that are reasonably priced and easy to install. Small changes like this have a big impact on the appearance of a room.

9. Install Dimmers on Your Lights

Dimmed lights dramatically change the atmosphere of a room. Installing dimmers is easier than you think and doesn’t cost much either.

10. Replace Your Shower Head

You can install a new shower head for the purpose of saving money on your utility bill, increasing water pressure, or simply for aesthetic appeal. Most shower heads can be replaced in less than five minutes.

11. Replace Cabinet Knobs

Adding or replacing knobs on cabinets gives your new home a custom look that you can easily change whenever you want. Installation is a breeze and affordable knobs are easy to find.

 

Image Credits to: CaptainsavehomeWikipedia

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Invigorating spring and summer colour schemes for your home

Invigorating spring and summer colour schemes for your home

It’s your home, and everyone loves the personal touch that decorating brings to your room. This summer, it’s all about the style statement, so don’t whimper out and opt for bland colours, take one of these striking colour palates and incorporate it into your home.

Black and White

It might seem like a simple and classic combination, however done right, the black and white palette adds real depth to a room, especially when utilised with a modern and contemporary twist. From incorporating the style into the wall decoration with a striped design, to adding furniture and decorations that complement the style perfectly, you have a whole heap of options when it comes to this colour palette. Here are some of our favourite room additions with this colour scheme.

Black and White Chevron Rug – Urban Outfitters, £69.

Chevron Lampshade In Black – Not On The High Street, £30

Bossenden Wall Clock – House Of Fraser, £40

Coastal Cool

With the sun baking down, and the mild breeze providing a refreshing cool as it calmly blows over the garden and into your home, you can be forgiven for allowing your mind to wander with daydreams of a beached coastline, with radiant heat beaming down and the cool ocean waves whipping at your toes as you stroll over the perfect white sands. It sounds idyllic, but for most of us, the majority of our summer will be spent at home, so now is the perfect time to implement those elements of coastal cool into your house. It gives your rooms a light, breezy feel and with cool vibrant colours, it provides plenty of energy. Colours to incorporate are vast, but mainly focus on aquatic blues and greens, sandy yellows and natural browns.

MissPrint Home Dashes Cushion – John Lewis, £28

Wooden Frame Tealight Holder – Laura Ashley, £22

The Ascot Rug – The Rug Seller, £75-£359

European Clean

In the summer, there’s not colour that emphasises the warmth quite like a clean crisp white. We see it time and time again in the world of sashion, expecially in the summer. Be it in a light and airy linen shirt for a man, or a striking dress or jeans on a woman, white is a colour that really comes into its own in the warmer months. Although it might not be the most practical of solutions, the colour will provide a refreshing and fresh feel. Use white as a neutral backdrop, and then accessorize with statement complimentary pieces in your favourite colors, or create a monochromatic design by enveloping the room in an all-white palette. Mix and match with tones from the coastal cool selection, to add a real touch of summer to your rooms.

Knitted Pouffe – Etsy, £65

Baby Betty Vases – Brissi, £24

 

This article was provided exclusively to First Home News by Kate Hobbs, who has a passion for home interiors and trends.

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Adding a splash of colour for spring
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Adding a splash of colour for spring

Decorating, changing how a room looks and being able to put your personal stamp on it is one of the most enjoyable aspects of homeowning. But be warned, if you’re a first-timer because decorating it can be a potential nightmare if you don’t do your homework first. You risk either starting and then giving up half-way through, or doing a botch job. So if you’re thinking of finally taking on that magnolia coloured living room, here’s some advice.

Before you start

Don’t forget your tools and materials. Buying an initial stock of supplies can be pricey so shop around at places like B&Q, Homebase and Wickes. Remember you don’t necessarily need to buy top brand paint. You will need, at the very minimum:

  • Dust sheets (or you could use old bed sheets or curtains)
  • A roller and tray (or you could try a paint pad)
  • A selection of paintbrushes
  • Paint – emulsion for the walls, gloss or eggshell for woodwork
  • Masking tape to put round sockets and skirting boards

You may also need

  • Filler and a filling knife
  • Safety goggles
  • A shower cap or a head scarf
  • A radiator brush and roller
  • White spirit
  • A roller extension
  • Undercoat / primer
  • Sugar scrub
  • Paint stripper
  • Sandpaper

You might not envision it being a big job, however it’ll certainly take a chunk of hours out of your day. Painting takes longer than you think, so set aside a decent amount of time in which to do it. If you’re painting a large area, it may prove useful to break it down into sections.

Don’t skip the cleaning and dusting. The walls need to be clean before you start applying paint, so don’t forget to get the duster out. Next, wash them using either detergent or sugar soap. Rinse afterwards and wait until they’re dry before you start painting. You may also need to fill in holes and cracks.

Don’t leave your furniture unprotected. In fact, try to clear the room as much as you can. If anything can’t be moved, cover it with a sheet. You should also cover the floor. It’s surprising how far paint can travel.

Don’t wear your favourite clothes and don’t leave your hair uncovered. Getting paint out of your hair or off your favourite top is tricky, so cover up.

During

Don’t just slap some paint on a random part of the wall. Work systematically from the ceiling, to the walls and lastly the woodwork.

Don’t assume that one coat will do. Unless you’re using a product like Dulux Once, you will need at least two coats, and then it depends on what colour you’re painting with. Leave plenty of time for the paint to dry in-between coats. Don’t keep the windows and doors shut; the fumes and smell are quite pungent, so make sure you consider ventilation.

Afterwards

Don’t leave the paintbrushes and roller tray to dry solid. Clean them properly and store them in a safe place for next time. Admire the view.

Finally

Pat yourself on the back, sit yourself down and admire your work. Sometimes it feels like it takes longer to do the preparation than it does to do the actual painting, but it’s worth it in the end.

 

Photo Credit: khrawlings via Compfight cc

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Home touches for the ultimate spring feel
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Home touches for the ultimate spring feel

We might still be in February, but to the optimistic amongst us, Spring is just around the corner. With the warmer days  hopefully soon arriving on the horizon, despite cold temperatures, the sunshine is just beginning to peek through the clearing clouds. It’s never too early to shake off the misery of winter and implement spring into your home, so with that in mind, here are our top tips for getting an early start on your spring decor.

Kitchen: Cooking with Colour

Many kitchens sport drab matching walls and a spaghetti stained backsplash. A spot of paint can change that. Choose a paint colour like bright orange, yellow or sky blue for one wall or area. A streak of highlight will renew your faith in spring veggies and freshly baked bread. Take your update to the next level by purchasing a coloured mixing bowl, bright spatula, blender or toaster matching the colour of your freshly painted wall. Guests will appreciate your thought to go the extra step in contrasting your stainless steel accessories with a few coloured ones. Your kitchen is going to pop and you can revel in your mastery after just an hour with the paintbrush.

Bathroom: Appropriate accessories

No matter what colour scheme your bathroom is, throwing away the plastic accessories and updating them with rustic things from around the house will make your room a much more inviting space. Update the toilet paper holder with a wicker basket you’ve been using for random bits and bobs. Grab unused containers and fill them with all your cotton essentials. Take an empty vase and fill with freshly cut flowers or some bright artificial ones to provide a real feel of spring. And the ultimate trick for the ladies, a cake stand is the perfect way to show off and keep your makeup organised for a fuss free morning.

Bedroom: Perfect pillows

Decorate with a few spring coloured throw pillows to get your home completely revamped for the summer days. You can recover the old pillows with your own fabric or buy an entire new set. The bed is the staple item in the bedroom, so find your favourite comforter to snuggle up. Really tired of your old room? Cover the headboard with a bright or striped fabric to give off a plush new bedroom aura.

Living Areas: Recover your drab lamps

The simple task of changing a lamp cover will shake off gloomy winter nights and help you to embrace spring. Choosing one piece to change in a room is a quick fix and you’ll see a noticeable difference. Go to your local homeware store to see what colours could brighten up your room. Don’t assume popping pink is your only choice, but a light yellow, bold colour or fun new print could do your home the favour it’s been seeking. Don’t want to buy an entire new lampshade? Choose from hundreds of fabric choices at the craft store. With scissors, adhesive, a trim piece and a bit of patience, you’ll have yourself a statement new decorative item.

Outdoors: Get in the Garden

Plants bring life to a home in every way. The freezing temperatures of January and February have now passed and it’s time to dig up the weeds and leftover foliage of the winter. Spring geraniums, begonias, and pansies are all great summer plants that will continually bloom throughout the warmer months. Don’t have the luxury of a front garden or a home in the countryside? Make room for a few potted plants inside your home on bookshelves and the mantel piece, as will add a feel of spring to your home, even on the rainy summer days.

Photo Credit: jinkazamah via Compfight cc

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Top ways to bring light into your home this winter
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Top ways to bring light into your home this winter

In the dark days of winter, making the most of the natural light in your home is a great way to not only save on your electricity bills but to also bring out the best in your furnishings and homeware. Here are some top tips on making your house a brighter home this winter…

 

Clutter-free windowsills

1

Crowded windowsills can block natural light so try to keep them as clear as possible. Also, keep an eye on any trees or hedges outside your window, as overgrown outdoor plants can stop any light from coming in.

 

Make the most of mirrors

mirror

Mirrors reflect light, so if you hang a mirror opposite a source of natural light, you are automatically doubling the amount of light coming into your room. You could also add mirrored accessories to your room such as wall hangings or photo frames to increase the effect.

 

Stick to light colours

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Like mirrors, lighter colours reflect light so stick to cream, white or cool-toned walls with large furnishings, such as a sofa of a similar shade. You can then accessorise with darker coloured cushions, shelving or rugs.

 

Consider a skylight

Daylighting_-_Skylight

They may be a costly home improvement, but skylights can make a great alternative to windows, especially in rooms that receive lots of natural light. They are also great for letting in warmth and can be beautiful to look out of on a starry night.

 

Install glass doors

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Interior or exterior doors with glass panelling are a great way to let natural light spread from room to room. They open up your house whilst still soundproofing the room at the same time.

 

Keep it clean!

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Last but not least, don’t neglect your duster! Mirrors and skylights may look the part but keeping your lightshades, bulbs and windows clean is always the first step in making the most of the light, whether natural or powered, in your home.

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Five ways to bring the colour of 2015 into your bathroom
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Five ways to bring the colour of 2015 into your bathroom

Every year the Pantone Colour Institute names a shade that they think ties into everything ongoing and upcoming. Drawing from emerging artists and the next big design trends, fashionable travel destinations and the global mood, they pick a single colour that represents it all. The colour of 2015 is Marsala, they’ve decided: a rich, complex red that recalls the fortified wine it was named after. “Marsala enriches our mind, body and soul, exuding confidence and stability,” says Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director at Pantone, and its full-bodied charisma has been quickly adopted by interior designers the world over. It’s a colour that naturally lends itself to master bedrooms and living rooms, thanks to its intensity, but don’t overlook your bathroom as a space to experiment with Marsala. It brings warmth into even the coolest, glassiest en suite, as these pictures show, and creates a bathroom you may never want to leave.

The statement bathtub

1 - Statement bathtubIf you find yourself falling in love with Marsala’s rich, indulgent earthiness, a bold bathtub makes a stylish investment. Here, it pulls together fixtures that might otherwise look mismatched: a minimalist, urban window wouldn’t always work next to a salvaged wooden cabinet and an elaborate chandelier. Note the co-ordinated towel, which ties the colour palette together without any danger of the Marsala becoming overwhelming. Navy or white would have been a much more predictable choice here, but it’s that shot of red that makes this whole room stand out.

Image: http://dailyfix.co.za/

All over colour

Marsala is not the kind of shade that you need to play it safe with. Drenching your bathroom in such an intense, highly pigmented colour is a fearless move that could rejuvenate the entire space – and you would need very little else to complete it. Here, again, a very pure shade of white brings out the richness of Marsala, but it’s the metallic accents that are most compelling. The texture of the frame breaks up the flat matte finish of the wall behind it, while the postcards inject a bit of humour into the display.

It goes against the grain of everything you’ve been told about light hues making a small space feel bigger, and dark shades making them seem smaller, but actually a rich tone can mask an undersized room by making it feel more luxurious. There are just two questions worth considering first: is there enough lighting, and can you realistically keep it clutter-free? Darker colours tend to absorb light, which you’ll need to counteract, and a medley of everyday soaps and toiletries will jar with such a strong design.

Feature wall

A single wall – or a portion of all four walls – makes an impact with a little less commitment, and can test a new colour before you invest in it completely. In this bathroom Marsala’s been used to add depth to wooden panelling, and emphasise the pattern underfoot. Again, brilliant white comes into play; its modernity brings out the Old World feel of burgundy’s more intense cousin. But what’s really interesting here is the way Marsala stretches across different elements of the room, from the tiled floor to the glossy wood, bringing out their complexities and drawing them together at the same time.

 

Accessories

2 - All over colourIf you already have a monochrome bathroom then Marsala, like most colours, is easy to add as a complimentary shade. Compliment a one of our favourite shower room installs, such as a stunning monochrome Aqualisa electric shower. The colours rich charisma makes fresh towels or curtains feel much more indulgent than a more typical choice like black or blue. But fresh (or faux) flowers require even less commitment and look effortlessly striking against the backdrop of a neutral bathroom. Here, flowers in a rich, berry-toned shade of Marsala add interest to slate grey tiles, brought out by a candle and vase in the same colour scheme. Simple but effective, and the easiest way of bringing Marsala into your home instantly.

Image: http://www.styleathome.com/

Complimentary colours

5 - Complimentary coloursWe’ve already seen how well Marsala works in a monochrome bathroom, but if you’re redesigning from scratch you may want to mix it into a palette of soft greys and muted blush tones for a calmer, more feminine feel. Add pearly or luminescent textures, like these shower tiles, to reflect light – a vital consideration when working with a rich colour like Marsala, which tends to absorb light – and keep furnishings luxurious but simple. Pantone have even put together a selection of colour pairings that work especially well with Marsala, and are worth browsing for inspiration. Shades that you may never have considered, like teal or lemon grass, prove that the possibilities are endless.

Image: http://www.aqualisa.co.uk/

Guest article provided for First Home News by Katie

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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

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.

Bunting

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.

Sofa
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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