Spring updates for your living room

Spring updates for your living room

With winter now behind us, April is the perfect time to give your living room a revamp. We’d all like to hope that, over the summer months, an abundance of sun will mean we spend every free minute basking out in the warm garden. In reality however, it’s fairly safe to say that we won’t be spending all our summer outdoors. Prepare for the coming months by revamping your living room, for when the weather turns grim and you have to move guests and visitors indoors. Here are our top tips for updating your living room to be a bright and breezy summer area.

Feature wall

In many cases, people decorate a room and leave it for numerous years just to avoid the hassle of redecorating. Whilst we aren’t advocating that you do a complete renovation after every passing season, it can make a pleasant change to the feel of your room if you implement, or simply repaint your feature wall. Having a feature wall within your room adds a greater depth to your space, and providing you chose the right colour, it means that you can change the tone of your room from season to season.

Change window coverings

Over the winter months, in an effort to keep out the cold, rain and howling winds, a thick heavy curtain is a great option for dressing your windows. However as the winter comes to an end and the weather picks up, it’s a great decorative idea to switch out your heavy duty curtain for something a little lighter.  In many households, blinds are a popular choice as they’re easy to use, provide the option of allowing in light even when closed, and can also be easy to work around when you have numerous open windows. If you have a curtain rail in place and want to alter the look of your windows over the summer, simply switch for something in a lighter material. It’s amazing how much of a role something as simple as a window decoration can play in the overall feel of your room, so making the most a light delicate window dressing can give your room an uplifting feel of summer.

Plants and flowers

Bring a feel of the summer indoors with some home-grown greenery. Nothing makes a room feel brighter than well chosen plants and flowers, and the injection of life to your room can really improve the overall feel and help you escape the feeling of winter. Don’t overdo it, as you don’t want your room to feel like an indoor greenhouse, however a selection of summer greenery can instantly help your living room.

Summer rug

If you want to add a splash of colour to your room, but don’t want to take any drastic permanent action, then adding something as simple as a spring summer style rug can help to drag your living room out of the winter and into the warmer months. Something like a floral rug can bring a real feel of spring into your room, and paired with another couple of light and bright accessories, it can have a real impact on the feel of your room.


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Top tips for your spring garden

Top tips for your spring garden

Winter finally looks to be at an end, and with weekends warming up and the sun finally showing itself, it’s time to head into the garden and begin to prepare your space for the spring and summer. Having a well kempt and blooming garden gives you a great area in which you can bask through the summer months, and although it might take a bit of work, it’s well worth it when you have a nice spot to relax, enjoy a drink and cook up a barbecue with friends. In order to prepare your garden, you’ll have to start early and ready the area, here are out top tips to get you started.

Plan your garden

If it’s your first year in a new home, and you aren’t accustomed to taking care of the appearance of outdoor spaces, there’s no need to panic. Similarly, you don’t want to jump straight in, as you’ll get the best results if you carefully make plans. One mistake many people make with their garden layout is failing to plan beforehand. It might not seem vital, but there are areas of your garden that will have more access to sunlight, making them ideal for your vegetable patch, or areas shaded from elements such as wind, meaning delicate flowers would ideally make this area their home. You don’t need to create a garden master plan, but just make sure that you have a logical layout sorted.

Be self sustaining

If you’re planning to invest time and effort into home growing your own vegetables, fruits and flowers, then you’ll be in need of large quantities of mineral rich compost. Make your garden greener by making the most of a compost bin. They can be picked up for a relatively cheap price and, using your own discarded fruit and veg peelings, you can begin the decomposing process in your own garden. Similarly, the abundance of plants and flowers in your summer garden will lead to you needing more water. Water buts are a simple solution that, when connected to your home drainage system, collect and store rainwater for general garden use. Invest in these two simple but effective ideas and make your garden more self sustaining this year.

Prepare your tools

Once you’ve made your plans and invested in flowers and plants, the hard work isn’t over. You’ll need to dedicate portions of  your free time to garden upkeep and maintenance, in order to keep your plants looking trim and blooming. If you’re a relative rookie when it comes to gardening, begin to build up a collection of necessary tools. Trowels, rakes, shovels, trimming tools, watering systems and lawn mowing equipment are all necessities – so if your equipment is somewhat lacking, now is the time to begin investing.

Prepare your space

Winter can be tough on your garden, so it’s likely that the cold months will have left your garden looking a little worse for wear. Before you begin to organise out your spring garden, you’ll need to have a thorough clean up. Clear away items such as tree debris, twigs and branches from your grass and soil, plant grass seed in any bare looking areas and turn over your soil to prevent it being compounded. Weeds may have run rife through your garden over the winter, so have a thorough check and remove any from your lawn and soil areas. Check fences and other items aren’t in need of repair, and touch up on any surfaces that are looking tired.

Photo Credit: CC image hosted on Wikipedia.

This article was kindly provided by gardening and outdoor home expert Chris Hay exclusively for First Home News. 

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Enjoy spring cooking in the sun

Enjoy spring cooking in the sun

As weather forecasters predict a drastic rise in temperatures over the coming week, it’s understandable that many of us will want to head into the garden to basque in the early summer heat. Whether you’re after something light to serve up to friends over the weekend, of just want something simple to cook and enjoy on your patio one evening after work, we’ve got some great, quick and tasty meals for you to enjoy.

Parmesan Spring Chicken

Serves: 4


  • 1 egg white
  • 5 tbsp finely grated parmesan
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 400g new potatoes, cut into small cubes
  • 140g frozen peas
  • a good handful of baby spinach leaves
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp olive oil


  1. Heat your grill to a medium temperature and line the grill pan with foil. Beat an egg white on a plate with a little salt and pepper.
  2. Tip the Parmesan onto another plate, then dip the chicken into the egg white, then the cheese.
  3. Grill the coated chicken for 10-12 minutes, turning until browned and crisp.
  4. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes for 10 minutes, adding the peas for the final 3 minutes, then drain.
  5. Toss the vegetables with the spinach leaves, vinegar, oil and seasoning to taste.
  6. Divide up into four plates, and then serve with the chicken.

Spring Salmon with Minty Vegetables

Serves: 4


  • 750g small new potatoes, thickly sliced
  • 750g frozen peas and beans
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • The zest and juice off of 1 lemon
  • small pack of mint  (leaves only)
  • 4 salmon fillets about 140g/5oz each


  1. Boil the potatoes in a large pan for 4 minutes. Tip in the peas and beans, bring back up to a boil, and then carry on cooking for another 3 minutes until the potatoes and beans are tender.
  2. Mix the olive oil, lemon zest and juice and mint in a blender to make a dressing
  3. Put the salmon in a microwave-proof dish, season, and then pour the dressing over. Cover with cling film, pierce and microwave on high heat for 4-5 minutes until cooked through. Drain the vegetables and mix with the hot dressing and cooking juices from the fish.
  4. Serve the fish on top of the vegetables.


Spring Fish Pie

Serves: 2


  • 250g bag washed leaf spinach
  • 450g small new potatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • 300g skinless, boneless white fish fillet, cut into large chunks
  • 100g half-fat crème fraîche
  • juice ½ lemon
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


  1. First, heat your oven to 220C and then tip the spinach into a colander in the sink and tip the potatoes into a saucepan.
  2. Bring a kettle full of water to the boil and pour enough over the potatoes to cover and slowly pour the rest over the spinach to wilt it. Bring the potatoes to the boil and cook for 8-10 minutes until tender, then drain and mash.
  3. Leave the spinach to cool, and then squeeze out excess water with your hands. Scatter the spinach over the bottom of an ovenproof dish, leaving two gaps for the eggs.
  4. Crack the eggs into the gaps, then season with salt and pepper. Distribute the fish over the spinach and eggs. Spread over the crème fraîche and drizzle with the lemon juice. Loosely spoon over the potatoes, drizzle over the olive oil, then bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is crispy and golden and the sauce is bubbling at the sides.
  5. Leave to stand for a few minutes, and then serve straight from the dish.


Photo Credit: Hagens_world via Compfight cc

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