How to Get Your Home Ready for 2017’s Big Colours

2017 House. Image with clipping path

Okay, so it seems as though autumn is well and truly here now – the nights are drawing in, eating away at those precious hours of daylight, and the days themselves are certainly getting rather chillier than they were even a couple of weeks ago.

But now is not the time to be looking back on the (admittedly very short) summer with sadness in our hearts. No, now is the time to look to the future. Not to Christmas – although that is certainly sooner around the corner than we’d like to admit – but to the new year, to 2017.

We always like to be prepared. And we just so happen to know the colours that will be big in 2017. We want you to be as prepared as we are, so let’s take a look, shall we?

The Colours

Many of the main colours that will be majorly popular next year are listed on the Behr website. Each year, they release 20 colours in a limited edition palette, each of which they believe is going to hit the big time. So if you want to find most of them in one place, that’s the site to visit.

If you look past the fluffy names, you will see that the majority of the colours are greys, silvers and light blues, with a sprinkling of traditionally “autumn” shades. As well as a pastel pink and a deep magenta, of course.

Once you have your colours and your room picked out, it’s time to pick out some complements.

Actually, it’s worth mentioning that in its own quick point – only do one room at a time. For starters, you don’t want to end up with too much work on your hands. Also, one at a time allows you to put all of your focus in one place, stopping you from accidentally having clashing colours throughout the home!

The Complements

If you really want to pull off your new colour scheme in style, then you simply have to get some décor items that will complement your fine palette. Take your palette with you when you’re on the hunt for new furnishings and decorations; this will let you pick the things that really go well with it.

And obviously, you shouldn’t be worrying about finding an exact match. We’re not expecting you to find a fridge in the shade of “Everything Is Rosy” or a light fitting in “Polished Aqua”. Shades that are a little lighter or darker, a little softer or brighter, or shades that simply pair well with your choices will be perfect.

The Work

Make sure the room is clean and clear and ready to be decorated, then it’s time to get to work. Paint your room in the colours of your choice then start bringing in your furniture and your matching bits and bobs.

Once your room is all decorated and refurnished, it’s time to put your feet up with a tea, a coffee, a wine or a beer, and spend a little time just enjoying your new surroundings. You’ve earned it!

Household Essentials for Your First Flat

Living room ideal for relax after hard work

Moving house is a stressful time at any point in your life, but if it’s your first time it can seem all the more daunting. There’s so much to remember, so much to buy, so many forms to fill out and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But don’t fret! We’ve put together this guide for all the essentials you need to get for your first flat.

Bins

An easy one to forget but an absolute essential! Make sure you have one for both the kitchen and the bathroom and a waste paper basket for the living room. Don’t forget the bin bags too!

A basic tool kit

Okay so your DIY skills might not be up to much, but you never know when a basic tool kit could come in useful. There’s no need to splash out on anything fancy, but a hammer, screw driver, a level, pliers, a measuring tape, duct tape and electrical tape will all come in very handy somewhere along the line.

Office supplies

We’re all familiar with that feeling of trying to find a pen and notebook when you’re trying to jot down important details on the phone, so make sure you have them on hand – you’re bound to need them a lot within the first few weeks! While you’re there, pick up some other office essentials too such as scissors, a stapler, hole punch, wall pins, a ruler, paper clips and a permanent marker.

Cloths and sponges

There’s no point spending a lot of money on cleaning cloths – they’re going to end up stained and discoloured pretty soon anyway. Stock up on a bundle of cheap ones that you don’t mind getting ruined. As for sponges, it’s a good idea to colour code to avoid cross-contamination. For example, use sponges of one colour to clean the bathroom, another colour for washing the dishes and another yet again for wiping down the kitchen counters.

Don’t forget the tea towels too!

Coasters

Hot mugs of tea can quickly discolour any wooden surfaces so coasters will come in very useful for protecting your expensive furniture.

Cleaning supplies

At the very minimum you’ll want to be stocking up on dusting cloths, furniture polish, an all-purpose cleaner, bleach and glass-cleaner as well as a mop, broom and dust pan. Make sure you’ve also got a stash of laundry detergent and fabric softener under the sink too!

A welcome mat

You might have stocked up on cleaning products, but you don’t want to be using them too often! A welcome mat allows visitors to wipe their feet before they enter your flat so you won’t spend every spare minute mopping up mud stains.

Cushions and throws

These note only make your flat look more homely, but are great for snuggling under in winter to avoid high energy bills.

Towels and washcloths

As a rule you’ll need one for each person living in the flat as well as spares for guests and laundry days.

Lightbulbs

Check which style and wattage you need and be sure to stock up – you’ll be grateful of it when one of them blows.

7 Genius DIY Hacks for Your Home

Handmade house in a wood background

DIY is one of those things that you either love or you hate, and if you’re not a fan sprucing up your home can be a nightmare. Luckily we’ve rounded up these genius DIY hacks that transform your home and make you look like a decorating pro.

Washi tape picture frames

Washi tape is having a bit of a thing at the moment and as well as looking great, it can come in very handy if you’re renowned for hanging up wonky picture frames. Plus you’ll get the benefit of a unique and colourful frame with minimum cost and effort.

Untangled cables

You can spend hours painting and arranging furniture, but it’s not going to make much of a difference if you have power cords and wires cluttering up your floor space. It’s really easy to get them organised though – simply screw a binder clip to a desk and you can keep wires away from small children and curious pets.

Dry erase boards

Keep on top of all your household tasks and create some stylish artwork with a DIY memo board. Frame a scrap of fabric or wallpaper and use a dry erase marker to jot down appointment reminders, errands you still need to run and shopping lists. Then simply hang in the kitchen and you’re good to go!

Wine crate coffee tables

Coffee tables don’t come cheap, so why not transform an old wine crate into the centrepiece for your living room. Just a lick of paint and some varnish and it’s good to go! Simple, chic and you can get it on the rustic trend at a fraction of the cost!

Magnetic strips for hair clips

Anyone with long hair will know that bobby pins and hair clips seem to disappear into thin air no matter how hard you try to keep them stored away. A great solution for this is to install magnetic strips in your medicine cupboard to keep all of your hair clips in one place. Genius!

Shoe box dividers

We’re all guilty of throwing things into the drawers and forgetting about them until it’s a cluttered mess and you can’t find anything you need. But you don’t need to fork out on expensive drawer dividers from homeware stores to solve the problem – all you need to do it yourself is a pair of scissors and some shoe boxes. Simply cut the boxes in half by length or width and trim to the size needed for your space and then pop into the drawer. It couldn’t be easier!

Pegboards

Turn your house into Pinterest chic and keep your space free of clutter with pegboards. You can pick these up super cheap in DIY shops and then use them to keep necklaces, belts, sunglasses, scarves, bags and more neatly displayed. It’s a great way to show off your sartorial selection and you could even hang up a mirror next to everything so you can make sure you look great before you step out of the door.

Kitchen Appliances That Will Transform Your Life

modern gourmet kitchen interior

Your kitchen says a lot about you, but you don’t need to have the latest fancy gadgets to whip up a culinary storm at home. There are lots of appliances out there that will take the hassle out of eating well and make your life easier. We’ve rounded up some of the essentials.

Water Purifier

We could all benefit from drinking more H2O and a water purifier makes it even easier to glug down those recommended eight glasses a day. A water purifier removes impurities and other nasties from your drink which not only makes it safer to consume, but gives it a clearer, better taste too. Different water purifiers operate using different processes and come in all shapes and sizes so be sure to shop around and make sure you don’t buy one that’s too big. It’s always a good idea to look out for companies and brands that offer service and guarantees after purchase too.

Coffee Maker

Give yourself the kick you need in the morning or brew up a palate for guests at dinner party with a coffee maker. When looking for the best one to buy, easy cleaning features are a must! Also look out for added extras such as manual water control, a steam wand and water filter. If your budget stretches to it you can also buy coffee makers that will grind coffee beans for you too.

Soda Maker

You can’t beat a glass of ice cold soda on a hot summer’s day, but the ones you find in shops are often full of sugars, sodium and additives – not ideal if you’re trying to make healthy eating a priority. So you can’t really go wrong with a soda maker. These applicances don’t use electric and can churn out up to sixty litres of the fizzy stuff using refillable carbon dioxide canisters. And with nowhere near the amount of nasties that you find in the big name brands.

Hand-Held Blender

There’s nothing worse than coming home after a long day at work and having to cook something, so soup is a great option. You can batch cook it and freeze so it will be ready to eat in just a few minutes. Get yourself a hand-blender and you can mix up a healthy and delicious soup in minutes – no more of the tinned stuff! Of course, a hand-blender also comes in very useful if you’re a keen baker too.

Slow Cookers

The ultimate appliance for anyone short on time or money, a slow cooker really is indispensable. Perfect for creating budget meals you can just throw your meat, vegetables and stock inside it and leave it to bubble away while you’re at work or out at the weekend and when you come back your kitchen will be filled with the scent of a hearty stew, curry or casserole that will be ready in minutes. The key to finding the best is to look for slow cookers with removable inserts.

DIY Tips for Beginners

Frau beim Heimwerken, Werkzeug

Just by having a few tips on your side, DIY can be made a whole lot easier, and more enjoyable to boot. DIY is there to save you a bit of money, but it can be pretty costly on your time. Luckily for you, we’re here to save you a bit of time with your DIY.

It’s the best of both – so what have you got to lose? Here are our tips!

Stop Wood from Splitting

When you’re hammering nails into thin wood, you risk the wood splitting. Use this age-old carpenter’s trick to prevent that happening: drive the head of the nail into the wood perpendicular to the grain. Simple!

Keep Your Brushes in Good Nick

The best way to keep your paintbrushes in good condition is also one of the easiest: hang them from a clothes hanger after you’ve cleaned them. Keep them going for longer!

Avoid Splinters

Drilling a hole into wood? You’re always going to encounter a bit of splintering on the bottom. How to avoid this is nice and easy – all you need to do is pop a bit of spare wood underneath it, and secure it all together with clamps.

Stop Paint Drying on the Tin Edges

If paint dries on the edges of the tin, it can make it hard to get the lid back on properly, which could in turn cause the paint inside to start drying?

How do you stop this? Simply fold a bit of foil around the edges.

Drill Holes into Glazed Tiles

You don’t want to risk your drill slipping as you’re making holes in glazed tiles. All you need to do to avoid this is popping some masking tape onto the tile. Make a cross with two short strips, with the centre on the hole. Then get to work!

Catch Dust While Drilling

When you start drilling into a wall, it can create a whole heap of dust. If you want to avoid that, all you do is get a Post It note and fold it in half. Stick it to the wall beneath where you’re drilling, and all the dust you create will fall neatly onto the “shelf” you’ve made below it.

Put up a Level Shelf

Putting up a shelf is an easy job. Making sure it’s perfectly level, however, is less simple.

Here’s an easy way to make sure your shelf is 100% level. First, fix one support to the wall. Next, place the shelf on top of the support, and a spirit level on top of the shelf. Move the shelf slowly upwards, until you can see it’s perfectly level, then pencil a line below the shelf. Hey presto – that’s where to affix the second support!

Magnetise a Screwdriver

A magnetised screwdriver is a surprisingly useful thing, especially if you need to put some screws into awkward to reach places. You can easily magnetise your screwdriver at home, simply by getting a magnet and running the magnet over your screwdriver repeatedly, always in the same direction.

Need to stop it from being magnetised? Just put the same pole on the screwdriver and run the magnet in the opposite direction.

Great Ideas to Give Your Bedroom a Makeover

Bedroom in Contemporary Home

Your bedroom is your own private haven, the little place you can truly call your own, the room you go to when you need to get away from it all. Because we spend so much time in bed – sleeping, reading, lazing around, and so on and so forth – we probably spend more time in the bedroom than in any other part of home.

For these reasons, it is important that you have a bedroom you love, a bedroom in which you truly feel comfortable and at ease. Your bedroom might be looking a bit tired, or maybe you just fancy a change. Whatever your reasons, here are our best ideas to spruce your private hideaway up a bit.

Create a Chic Boudoir

If you really want a place to unwind and relax in, then you’ll want to opt for a more muted colour scheme. Choose some neutral tones – some nice, calming blues, for example – and have a play around with different fabrics, such as wools and satins. You want relaxing, but you don’t want to skimp on the chic.

Don’t make things too gloomy, however; try adding some bold, floral motifs to lighten things up a bit. Think about a flowery patterned wallpaper, or a bedspread covered with pretty flowers. Add to the nature feeling by incorporating wood into the design: wooden floorboards, wood panelling on the walls, exposed timber ceiling beams… however you can manage it, you should give it a shot. It will complement the neutral blues beautifully.

Go All Natural

Following on from the above point, natural materials can really help to create a lovely, homely feeling bedroom. If you want things to feel cosy, then natural is the way forward. As a nice bonus, it looks incredible too!

Try and aim for a “log cabin” type of bedroom, if you have the time and the money. Wood panels on your walls will go a long way towards this, especially when combined with lightly stained wooden floorboards. Add a woollen rug to complete the look (and keep your feet warm!).

Make a Focus Wall

For a traditional look with a twist, why not paint one of your walls in a bold colour, a colour that’s different from the rest of the walls? You’ll want to choose the wall to which your bed is pushed – where the headboard is.

We particularly like the stronger colours, like a rich plum or a deep burgundy. Pair it with a floral bedspread in pastel pinks and then you can start accessorising – think fairy lights – to tie the room together.

Plump for Textures

For sheer luxury and indulgence, choose the finest fabrics and textures you can find. We’re talking about the good stuff here: a velvety rug to caress your feet, delicate but elegant toile paper to brighten up your walls, silken sheets to glide over your body.

As for a colour scheme, you want to play up to the elegance and the luxury – consider rich creams and sumptuous golds. Wonderful.

How to Make Your Own Christmas Decorations

Decoratating christmas gift

Christmas is here – the sleigh bells are ringing, the halls are decked with holly, the gifts are under the tree and the figgy pudding is in the oven. It’s the season of goodwill and all that, and a time for all the family to come together and spend some quality time with each other.

You’re getting everyone together, so it’s only natural to want to put a lot of effort into your presentation and your cooking. One way of ensuring that everything looks fantastic (and one of a kind) is by making your own Christmas decorations.

Don’t worry; it’s not as difficult as it might sound! Here are our favourites – get involved and create something wonderful this Christmas.

Paper Tree Decorations

There are plenty of beautiful tree decorations that you can make with just a few simple supplies. Grab some A4 paper, a scalpel and a cutting mat, a pair of scissors, some wool and a stick of glue and you’ll be good to go. Here are some of our favourite paper decorations.

The Snowflake

Cut out 12 5mm strips across the width of the page. Grab two, stick them together to make a cross, then glue further strips to each end, resulting in three verticals and three horizontals.

Take a horizontal and its closest vertical and glue the points together. Do this with all of them, and then repeat these steps until you have two “halves”.

Glue them together, front to front, at a 45-degree angle, matching the straights with the loops. Feed each strip through its corresponding loop and stick it to its point. Thread the finished article onto some wool and hey presto – one beautiful decoration.

The Heart

This one is even easier than the snowflake. If you want two large heart decorations, you only need the one piece of A4. Fold the half (A5 size) in half itself, then draw half a heart from the fold with a pencil. Next, cut along the line.

Repeat this process with a smaller heart within the larger one, cutting out a smaller, heart-shaped hole in the centre. Unfold the piece, smooth out the crease, then get a hole punch and make a small hole towards the top of the heart. All that’s left to do is thread in a string of wool! Simple, but lovely.

Doily Decorations

You can create delicate and angelic decorations with just a doily, some beads and a few strips of white ribbon. Cut the doily in two, then roll it onto a cone, taping it together at the back for some structure.

Create a head by threading small, metallic beads onto a short stretch of wire and shaping it into a ring. Insert the ends into the peak of the cone, taping them together inside. Then you can start on the wings!

All you need to do here is create two loops with your ribbon (we like the white, semi-sheer variety) and tape this to the back of the doily. One lovely angel, made in minutes.

What Is Upcycling? Some Hints and Tips

upcycling

Upcycling has become rather trendier and more popular over the last few years. What has caused this surge in upcyclers is up for debate – perhaps, after the economic crash, the fact that it is more wallet friendly attracted people to the idea; or maybe it’s the “hipster”-esque chic and ideals of the act. Whatever it is, we’re all for it! It’s fun, it’s cost-effective, and it’s good for the environment.

But what actually is upcycling? Simply put, it’s the process of transforming old or otherwise useless things into something useful, beautiful, or even both. It’s recycling “upward” – improving something instead of simply reusing it – hence the name.

Whether you are an upcycling veteran or a complete newbie to the world, there are a few things you should keep in mind, if you want your projects to go smoothly and with the greatest of ease. Here are our hints and tips; take them in, then go out and upcycle to your heart’s content!

Tip #1 – Make Sure You’re All Kitted Out

Before you start any kind of upcycling project, first make sure that you have absolutely everything you need, as well as some things you don’t think are entirely necessary, but that might come in handy.

Keep those stress levels at bay by being well prepared for any eventuality. You don’t want to have to run to B&Q mid-project because you don’t have any useable paintbrushes!

Tip #2 – Remember That Mistakes Can Happen

Mistakes can (and when it comes to DIY, often will) happen. Don’t let this stress you out too much, and definitely don’t expect everything to turn out perfectly like you imagined without much effort.

Don’t panic if you make a mistake. Remember, it’s not the end of the world. More often than not, a mistake will be fixable, so don’t chuck out your “failed” work just yet!

Tip #3 – Get a Guinea Pig (or Two or Three!)

No, we’re not recommending you get a furry friend (although they’re so cute!) – instead, ensure you always have a piece that you’re happy to lose.

If you’ve got an idea for an ambitious project, don’t set to work straightaway on an already beloved piece of furniture. Shop around at car boot sales and junk shops, and you should be able to find something similar in size or shape. Use this as a test run, making all the mistakes on the piece you’re less attached to.

Tip #4 – Don’t Be Afraid to Mix Things Up

Many of the best results from upcycling projects have come from people who weren’t afraid to experiment a bit, using a wide variety of different fabrics, patterns and colours.

Once you’ve got a bit of experience under your belt, make sure you try out a whole load of new things. Try an unusual texture, or simply go crazy with the colours.

Tip #5 – Have Fun!

Related to the above tip, you won’t get anything truly special unless you’re willing to have a bit of fun with your designs. Don’t upcycle for the sake of it – have fun and enjoy it!

It’s really that simple – don’t get too stressed out if things don’t end up as planned, don’t get worried about potential mess, just have fun.

How to Winter-Proof Your Home

snowflake at wood background

Autumn has well and truly set in – the nights are creeping in earlier and earlier with every day that goes by, and coats are becoming more and more an everyday necessity. Sadly, it seems as though the summer isn’t coming back for a quick encore, even though it only lasted for about a week or so.

However, we can’t wallow for ever. At some point, we have to accept that winter is coming, and we have to be prepared. Winter-proofing your home is a great place to start, as it will keep you and your loved ones toasty and warm whilst also saving you a bit of money in the long run. What’s not to love?

Here are our tips. It’s all you need to make a good start on protecting your home throughout those chilly winter months!

Protect Your Patio

Winter is cold and wet – any aluminium patio furniture is at risk of rusting. Bring in the furniture if you can, but if not, you should at least cover it with some tarp. This should help keep it pristine.

While you’re at it, if you have a garden hose lying around outside, drain it and keep it somewhere warm until the spring. If you don’t, the water will freeze inside it, ultimately causing holes to appear.

Use a Thermostat

If you don’t have a programmable thermostat already, we’d recommend investing in one. They’re not overly expensive, and the investment will pay for itself over time.

Fiddle about with the settings to find something that works for you, but we’d recommend turning it down by 5 degrees or so while you’re at work, and making sure the warmer temperature kicks in about an hour before you’re due to get home.

Remember as well, if you go away for a while in winter, your pipes are at risk of bursting if they get too cold. A programmable thermostat will help you avoid that pitfall.

Replace Your Doors and Windows

This step is a bit more expensive in the short-term, but as a longer-term investment it will definitely pay off. A full-glass storm door will do the job when it comes to preventing drafts, but these can be costly.

When it comes to windows, get them double-glazed if you haven’t already. Triple-glazing is also an option, but the gains aren’t quite as noticeable. You can also look into low-E treated glass – these save energy too, but with the added benefit of cutting UV rays.

Insulation Is Key

Insulation is sort of the be all and end all of money-saving home improvements. Not only does it trap heat and keep out the cold, but it also helps to cut down on outside noise and reduces drafts. It’s definitely worth looking into.

Get it installed in the roof or attic, as well as in the basement if you have one. Foam insulation is by far the best option, though it is of course slightly more expensive than fiberglass. Get an expert round if you’re not sure whether you’re insulated already.

How To Make Your Garden Wildlife-Friendly

Two rabbits bunny in the garden

With all of the environmental issues faced by the UK’s wildlife, it’s nice if British gardeners can give the birds, bugs, and small animals a helping hand. Not only will it fill you with a sense of well-being, to have done something positive for biodiversity, but your garden will really come to life with all manner of beasts.

Don’t Be A Neat Freak

Messy gardens, full of organic material, benefits wildlife. Let things grow a little out of hand. Let dead leaves lie around your garden. Keeping your lawn pristine will discourage wildlife from setting up home or using your undergrowth to build their nests for the winter.

Choose Pollinators

Come spring and summer, bees will start to come out of hiding. Pollinating flowers and wildflowers will not only make your garden look lovely, but it will provide all-important nectar for the bees. If you want to get in there early, crocuses and singlehead snowdrops can be planted in the autumn, ready for spring.

Build A Pond

A little water really invites in wildlife, even if it’s an open bucket. Making your own pond really doesn’t have to be difficult at all. It can be as simple as digging a shallow hole in the ground, covering it with tarp, and holding the tarp in place with heavy rocks. Before you know it, nature will have taken over.

Help The Birds

Nesting boxes can be easily installed in any garden, providing a safe haven for birds. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t see immediate results; it can take a few years sometimes for birds to cotton on. Otherwise, bird feeders are a great way to help your feathery friends during the cold winter months. Bird baths are also great too, as long as they don’t freeze over!

Wildlife Stacks And Insect Hotels

Insect hotels are growing in popularity. When it comes to these installations, it’s often better to go big or go home. You can create your own wildlife stack at home, to ensure that your garden is populated with plenty of creepy crawlies. You can achieve this with old bricks or wooden pallets easily.

Hedgehog Love

Hedgehogs are declining in the UK. You can encourage the hedgehogs that are left into your garden by letting your grass grow, or building your own hedgehog box. When food becomes scarce, you can even put out food for this spikey lot. Although it’s traditional to put out milk and bread, this is exactly what you should avoid giving to hedgehogs, as it’s bad for them. They’ll eat pretty much anything else, however. Dog or cat food is a good bet, but they will happily snap up bits of cake, biscuits, pastry, or cooked vegetables. Hedgehogs eat quite a wide variety of substances, and they are great garden companions, as they snuffle up the slugs and snails in your flowerbeds and vegetable patches – they really help around the garden, so welcome them in! It always feels quite special to see them wandering around the lawn too!