Get Your Cosy on with these Warming Winter Decorating Tips

warming aroma of winter vacation/ metal mug of mulled wine wrapped in a scarf on the background of the fireplace

Winter is no longer coming; winter is – unfortunately for all of us – well and truly here. Yes, it’s getting dark; yes, it’s getting cold; yes, it’s getting wet and horrible already. But there is not yet any need to panic, as it’s not all doom and gloom!

In fact, we’re here to bring a bit of light and warmth to you and your home. Here are a few ways you can make sure your home is all warm and snuggly, right the way through the chilly winter months.

Get Close, Cosy and Comfortable

When the temperatures outside start dropping, you need to huddle together to keep the warmth inside with you. Pull your various bits of furniture towards each other, nestling nice and close together in the centre of the living room.

If you have a fireplace, then you’re in an even better position. Rearrange everything so that it’s close, with every piece facing in towards the hearth. You can even create a little warmth nook by popping some big cushions in front of the fire.

Make Sure You’re Basked in Colour

What is a good way of getting over the winter blues? Investing in some summer yellows or autumn reds, of course! That’s right, we’re talking about adding bursts of happy and bright colour to your rooms.

You don’t have to repaint any of your walls – although this might help a bit – instead, get some bright and cheery cushion covers or throws to pop on the sofa, or a nice, warmly coloured rug to sit in the middle of the living room. Just get happy!

Maximise Your Light

With the days being shorter than usual, you should be doing everything you can to make the most of what few hours of daylight we actually get! And what better way of maximising natural light within the home than by adding a mirror or two?

A large mirror placed on a stretch of wall opposite a window can work wonders for the light levels of a room. And the mirror doesn’t have to be boring, either – why not combine it with the above tip by painting it in bold colours?

Bedroom Brilliance

There’s no worse room in which to be chilly than the bedroom. Waking up in the morning and feeling too cold to get out of bed? Not much fun in our books, so no thank you! So instead, give your bedroom a makeover to kill two birds with one stone – bird one: getting you nice and cosy; bird two: making your bedroom up to date with the latest design trends.

Get a big, chunky rug to keep your feet warm on a frosty morning, and pair it with layers of textured bed clothes and throws. We like a nice cashmere throw for an extra bit of luxury, with some super soft velvet pillows to take the decadence to the next level. Warm and stylish!

The Top Design Trends to Look out for in the New Year

2017 new year

If you like to stay ahead of the curve in terms of fashions, then you can’t really go wrong with knowing the hottest up and coming trends for home design, especially if you’re looking all the way forward to 2017.

If that sounds like a good thing for you to know, then you are most definitely in luck. We have communicated with the best of the best and feel we are in the perfect position to tell you all you need to know about 2017’s big hitters.

Let’s go take a look!

Earthy Pastels and Terracotta

If you’re looking for the latest and greatest in colour schemes, this is it: earthy pastel colours. Think organic and think springtime, like lavender and its ilk. You want to be looking out for muted colours, colours with a more feminine weight to them, colours that are above all clean.

Pair these with some nice terracotta shades, an earthy partner if there ever was one. It seems like the days of endless white and magnolia walls may be finally coming to an end, with lovely and warm terracotta looking to step up.

Not that you need to go all out just yet, though – even a simple throw would do the trick!

Mixing up the Metals

Now, brass and gold aren’t going anywhere, so there’s no need to panic just yet. In fact, brass and gold are just as strong and popular as ever – you don’t have to tear everything down, not for 2017 at least – but they are being joined by some more metals to really liven up the party.

Polished nickels and silvers are making a comeback in a big way, especially when used to accent a room or even a particularly rich piece of furniture. Unusually, there is a new finish arriving on the scene: white plaster. Plaster itself isn’t that durable, so expect to see a lot of resin finishes that are made to look like white plaster. It adds a nice organic touch to the metals.

Proof Those Fabrics

These days, it seems as though designers are finally cottoning on to the fact that furniture is actually made to be used. So for this reason, you should expect to be able to find all sorts of fantastic, designer label furniture in 2017, with the difference being that it will be made using stain resistant fabrics. Clearly, this is big news for anyone who wants their home to look the very best while still heading up a household of potentially mucky pups.

That’s right – you can actually have the best of both worlds! Seriously, even Jean-Louis Deniot are producing a velvet sofa that uses a polyester blend. You’d never be able to tell the difference, except for the fact that you won’t experience that annoying “crush” that velvet sometimes gets. Ladies and gentlemen, your prayers have been answered.

How to Prepare Your Home for the Christmas Festivities

Merry Christmas; Holidays background with Xmas tree decoration on red background

As enjoyable as Christmas is, the run-up to the festive season can really be a drag. It’s a bit of a hassle, having to tick off all the many (many) things that need to be done before the big day rolls around. And then Christmas Day is a stress, finding a place to put all that scrunched up wrapping paper all while having to rush around the kitchen prepping the dinner.

So let us help you with that. Unfortunately, we can’t come around and do all your wrapping for you, but we can give you some tips so that preparing for Christmas is a little bit less stressful than it usually is.

Step 1 – Clean

Okay, so this isn’t much fun, but it has to be done if you want your decos to truly shine and dazzle. Vacuum, dust and polish for as long as you can before you get sick of the chores.

Any potted plants that are outdoors, bring them in so they don’t die in the cold. Cover any patio furniture. Get the kids to help out, too – Santa isn’t going to be visiting any messy bedrooms, after all!

Step 2 – House Decorations

Now is the time to set up the general room decorations, now that everywhere is tidy and neat. Decide on what you’re doing before you make a proper start of things – are you stringing lights up around the perimeter of the room, or are you focusing on one side of the area?

Are you putting anything on the roof or in the garden? Make sure to plan out what you want and how you’re going to go about making it happen. Only after the rooms are done should you make a start on the main event.

Step 3 – The Tree

Whether you choose artificial or natural is entirely up to taste, but remember that real trees can be a hassle to clean up after! Put your tree in its desired location in the room and get to decorating it.

Lights should come first, as they can be difficult and fiddly to put on after the other decorations have gone on. Next comes the tinsel or garland, with baubles and other ornaments going on after. Save the best for last – make a bit of a ceremony out of putting the angel or star on the top of the tree.

Step 4 – Everything Else!

Now that your home is ready for the gauntlet, you can safely go about the rest of your Christmassy business. Make your lists and check them twice, buying all the various gifts to put smiles on faces, then obviously you have the chore of wrapping them… we don’t envy you there.

Maybe make some Christmas cookies, or even get the kids together to build a gingerbread house as a family. Then it’s time to prep the turkey, or the goose, or the nut roast; whatever it is that you’re eating for your dinner!

Here’s to a very Merry Christmas!

6 Things You Need to Do for Your Home Each Winter

Woman is sitting with cup of hot drink and book near the fireplace

In the words of the Stark house, winter is coming. We can feel it already – the nights are drawing in ever sooner, the weather is getting wetter and more miserable, and it’s definitely rather cooler than it was just a few short weeks ago.

Just as you need to ensure that your wardrobe and your immune system are ready for the winter months, it is equally important to make sure that your home is well prepared for this cold and grey time of the year.

To help keep you and your home both safe and warm, we have put together some wintery household tips for you. Make sure you do these every year and you’ll see the winter through in comfort.

1. Get a Winter Check-up

While autumn is still around, you should ensure to phone up your gas and electric providers and get them to send someone out for a winter check-up. Get your boiler tested for its efficiency and given a boost if possible, and if applicable get any air vents and air conditioner units cleaned up.

2. Have Your Chimney Swept

Obviously, this tip won’t be of much use to you if you’ve not got a chimney, but if you have – you’re in luck! If it’s been a while since you last had your chimney cleaned, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so get it done this year. This will ensure it’s properly drawing up the smoke. You don’t want it clogging up the living room.

3. Tend to Your Gardens

Got any dead or dying trees on your property or any branches hanging over your roof? Then you’ll want to sort them out. When the temperatures start to dip below freezing, they can start posing real problems.

4. Start an Emergency Kit

It might be worthwhile to put together a small emergency kit, just in case the power goes out while the temperatures are sub-zero. Of course this is only applicable for worst case scenarios, but as always it is better to be safe than sorry, especially when it’s chilly. Grab things like non-perishables, blankets, torches (with spare batteries), and some bottled water, and squirrel them away in a safe place.

5. Cover the Patio Furniture

There’s not really much to elaborate on here: your patio furniture has to be covered or put away, unless you want it to succumb to the cold and the wet.

6. Check Your Roof

Either check your roof yourself or hire a professional to do it for you if you’re uncomfortable with heights. Check for any loose or broken tiles or shingles – heat can escape through the gaps here. Also ensure that your gutters and downspouts are free of leaves and debris; wet leaves can become very heavy very quickly, and they pose a real risk of damage when the temperature drops. Because of the water, they expand upon freezing, so you can say goodbye to your pipes.

Top Five Ways to Save Time around the House

Cleaning.

You can never have too much time, especially when you have things like the chores to do. There is the cooking, the cleaning, the laundry, the washing up… the list goes on and on, unfortunately for all of us.

The minutes become hours and they slip away suddenly, so you have to try and claw as many back for yourself as you can. Here are some methods to help you save time around the home so you can spend more time on yourself.

#1 – Plan Meals

You can save yourself ages and ages, both in the supermarket and in the kitchen, by planning out your meals for the week ahead before you head out to do the shopping.

You can also save even more time by prepping that food in advance as well, by spending time at the weekend cooking up batches or chopping and freezing. This will save you precious time through the week as you’ll be making dinner in no time.

#2 – Divide and Conquer

Stay on top of the chores by splitting them up between yourself and your partner or housemate. Use a timetable or a calendar app on smartphones to help divide up the chores between you and allow you to see who is meant to do what and when.

Some apps will even send you reminders – a bit like an alarm clock – so that you’ll never forget what you have to do!

#3 – Stick to a Schedule

For some things, it can be worth setting aside a particular day of the week to do them. We would suggest that you try and stick as many chores as possible on a Saturday or a Sunday; that way you can get them out of the way for the week.

Do your laundry every two or three days, depending on how much washing you create, as this will help you to keep on top of it and stop larger build-ups. Try and do the washing up as you cook, as this will stop the dishes piling up into off-putting heaps!

#4 – Pay Bills with Direct Debit

If you’re not already doing this, what are you waiting for? Set up all of your bills so that you pay them automatically, preferably at the same time each month so that you know how much you have left over to play with.

This will save you plenty of time doing something incredibly simple but also rather pointless.

#5 – Cut Down on the Procrastination

This is easier said than done, sure, but it is worth giving a shot. Obviously, you want to spend some time each day messing about on your smartphone or browsing the internet on your laptop or something, but it is so easy to lose hours without realising it.

So why not set yourself a time limit each time? This way, you get to enjoy yourself without wasting too much time.

Budget-Friendly Tips to Help Add Value to Your Home

Relax Time In The Garden

When you’re thinking about selling your home and moving on to a new one, it is always worth considering ways of adding value to your property, so that you can get the highest asking price that you possibly can. Even if you’re not thinking of selling up it can be worthy of your time – after all, it’s always good to be sitting on a high value home!

Here are some ways in which you can help add that value to your property, no matter what your budget looks like.

Cheap: Get in Touch with a Professional

Although it will cost a little bit of money and you won’t get anything concrete from doing it, hiring a professional interior designer or even an estate agent to come and look around your home for an hour or two can really pay dividends in the long run.

Because they know exactly what they’re doing when it comes to increasing the value of a property, you can ask them for all manner of useful tips and advice while you have them there. They will be able to break down what your home can benefit from and how much it’s likely to cost you, even down to relatively small improvements like the placement of your furniture or the ideal shade of paint for a room.

Even Cheaper: Take a Look Around

Of course, not all of the improvements you can do need to be cosmetic. Simply take a look around your home, taking more care than usual to really look. You need to try and see your home with a fresh pair of eyes, a critical pair.

Are the taps in the bathroom a bit leaky? Does the living room need a fresh coat of paint? Maybe your roof has deteriorated a little bit. If you are concerned, you can again hire a professional – a property inspector will be able to see all the problems you’d otherwise miss.

Cheapish: Green Thumbs

Do a bit of landscaping; that always looks nice and adds a good deal of value to your property. However, you should not go too crazy with your spending, nor should you decide to be too exotic with your choices.

Go for things that look nice but are relatively inexpensive, and go for things that require the bare minimum of upkeep. A rock garden always looks impressive and needs next to no effort to keep it looking that way. When choosing plants, purchase those which are native to your region – these won’t be as difficult to keep looking green and healthy.

Modestly Expensive: Update Your Bathroom or Kitchen

No two rooms command as much value in the home as the bathroom and the kitchen. If you can spare a few hundred quid and think you can only do one room, make sure it is one of these two.

Small updates to either the bathroom or the kitchen can bring in great returns. Update a tired vanity, replace your taps, or get a new microwave – even these will help!

Simple Tips to Help You Keep Your Home Organised and Free of Clutter

Chaotic clutter around home

Sometimes, keeping the home nice and organised can be a trickier task than you’d imagine. It is easier said than done! And if you happen to have kids or pets (or both!) running under your feet at all hours of the day, it can become almost impossible. Without realising it you can look up one day and find that your home is a cluttered and disorganised mess!

So with that in mind, we thought we would step up to the plate and offer our help to the masses. Here are some of our finest quick tips to help you get your home looking shipshape again.

Keep Your Cords in Control

One of the main things that can easily clutter up a living room is a tangled mass of cords, leads and plugs. And unfortunately, it seems like every other thing in the living room needs to be plugged in. It’s quite the quandary.

Luckily, there are a couple of solutions available. Our favourite is the humble cord caddy – you can stick one of these to the wall behind the television or to the TV stand and use it to neatly clamp down that mess of cords into a more manageable grouping. Next, grab a cable tie to ensure that they all stay together without getting tangled.

Coffee Table Collectors

If you have a coffee table already, but you have one without any storage capacity, then it’s time to get rid of it and go for an upgrade. Consider investing a little money into a coffee table with either magazine racks on each end or a storage shelf underneath it – this will be invaluable in helping clean up that clutter.

If you can’t rustle up the spare change for a new coffee table, why not grab a couple of cheap storage baskets and pop them underneath? Simple!

Bathroom Buddies

What is the main thing causing clutter in the bathroom? We are willing to bet that it’s endless pots, cans and tubs of beauty products and hair stuff. There are a couple of super simple ways you can control all of these bits and bobs.

The first is to make good use of your medicine cabinet, should you be lucky enough to have one. Don’t simply use it for medicines – how many of those can you possibly have? Surely not enough to fill an entire cupboard. Instead, organise all your various grooming supplies inside it.

Something else you can do is to buy a plastic tub or two for the bathroom. You can pop these under the sink and use them to store all of your hair products and so on and so forth. Also, as you do so, why not have a think about which ones you actually use on a regular basis? If there are any you feel you could easily do without, consider getting rid of them to free up some more space.

Quick Tips to Make Doing the Washing Super Simple

mother a housewife with a baby  fold clothes into the washing machine

When it comes to doing the laundry, the average household – which, by the way, has 2.3 people in the UK – will use the washing machine around 270 times a year. 270 times, every single year! Now, this is what’s known as “normal domestic use”, but if you boil it down to the raw figures, you’ll see that it means your average person will put a wash on roughly 115 times per annum.

Pop that figure into your common “2 parents, 2 children” family, and you get a whopping 460 washes each year! When you’re having to do the laundry that often – not that far off one and a half times a day – then you know that it can really start to feel like a chore.

What you need is something to make doing the washing a little bit easier. And luckily for you, that’s exactly what we have right here: some quick tips to do just that. Let’s make life easier, shall we?

Use Water Dispensers for Your Detergent

Although this might sound a little silly, this tip can actually end up being a serious saver of your precious time. If you have a spare water dispenser – the type with the tap you can turn on and off – this will make the perfect storage solution for your clothes detergent.

Using one of these – or two if you want another for your fabric softener – will allow you to dispense just the right amount of stuff with the greatest of ease, saving you a little bit of time with each wash.

Divide Your Washing into Three Baskets

Isn’t sorting your washing into darks and lights a pain in the neck? Well, why not skip that step entirely? Clearly, we are not talking about chucking them all in the wash together each time.

No, instead, we are talking about using three separate laundry baskets. If you have one basket for your dark clothes, another one for your lights or whites, and a third for your delicates (if you need it), you can save yourself a bunch of time each laundry day. No need to waste time sorting all your clothes!

Get a Basket on Wheels

If you’re already looking to invest in an extra laundry basket or two, why not go the whole hog and get some on wheels? If you add this extra layer of portability to your baskets, it will save you from having to carry a massive armload of washing across the house to the washing machine.

And the extra bonus of this is simple: there’s no chance you’ll walk back up the stairs later on in the day and find an errant sock or two lying around on the floor where you’ve dropped them. Simple solutions are always the best ones!

Creating Paintings out of Photographs – tips for overcoming common problems

brush to paint the picture. paint brushes

Many artists out there live by the notion that no matter how impressive a photograph is, it cannot tell the full story of a subject. However, there’s no denying their use for many reasons, one of course being the fact that they provide artists with a great reference point for their work.

After all, photographs allow us to be transformed into settings from across the globe right from where we’re sat, and enable artists to capture the essence of a subject from different perspectives and angles. Therefore creating paintings from photographs is a huge artistic trend, but it’s not without its pitfalls. Here are some tips for overcoming the most common issues artists face.

Physical limitations with photographs

Regardless of how good your camera is, it will not be as good as the human eye at truly capturing a scene, person or object. There are a lot of distortion issues that arise in photography, and things like colouring, shadows and depths of field can all be skewed when taking photos of something. Therefore it’s a good idea to take lots of pictures from different angles and perspectives with the best camera possible to get the best representation of your subject to work from.

Copyright and permission issues

However, if you’re not planning on taking the photos yourself or have found a photograph already that you’d like to recreate through painting, you may face a lot of issues regarding copyright and usage limitations. After contacting the photographer, and if you’ve had no luck in gaining rights to use the image, why not see if you can come to a slightly different, compromised agreement? You could request to use the photo for a fee, or just part of the photo, or perhaps not the full, high resolution version, for example.

Artistic limitations

When recreating a photograph through painting, some artists may feel slightly limited, due to having such a rigid, complete form to follow. These limitations can hinder creativity and can have a negative impact on the final result. To solve this, remember that you shouldn’t feel obligated to show exactly what is depicted in the shot. Instead, an artist should feel free and inspired to manipulate or leave behind a reference any way he or she chooses.

Using sketches and words to fill in the gaps

Photos can often leave us with some blanks in terms of how an environment made us feel, which can then make things tricky when trying to recreate that feeling with a paintbrush. This is where notes and simple sketches can come in as you go out and take photographs, as these can provide handy references for the things you felt and want to portray that the lens may have missed.

Interior Design Mistakes That Even the Pros Sometimes Make

Inneneinrichtung - Interior design

When you are giving your home a new lick of paint and lease of life, there are countless options for what you can do to make things look shiny and new again. No matter whether you have chosen to simply paint the walls or change the furniture in your living room, or you’re going a little more thorough and doing a whole-house upheaval, there are certain things you should stay away from.

Sometimes, even the professional interior designers fall into the following traps, so what hope do the rest of us have? Well, this is our hope right here. Here are some of those all too commonly made mistakes, listed nicely so that you know exactly how to avoid them.

Hanging Pictures at the Wrong Height

Even if you have the perfect picture in the perfect size in the perfect frame, you can still make a mistake when it comes to making your home look good. Your pictures will be completely wasted unless you hang them at the proper height.

And here is that height – you want the centre of the picture to be just below five feet from the floor. This will put the centre at roughly eye level, and will make your whole room come together.

Sticking Too Closely to the Top Trends

Naturally, you should keep an eye on the latest interior design trends. But it can be all too tempting to try and incorporate all of these trends in your home at the same time. And you certainly shouldn’t feel pressured to keep up with them all the time. Fashions change in the blink of an eye.

Just like with any other trend, certain things will fit certain people better than others. If neon colours are the next big thing but they’re not really your thing, consider just incorporating an accent wall or a centrepiece into your overall design.

Not Using Enough Light

Your room may be astonishingly beautiful, but it will all be for nought if your lighting isn’t right. So let there be light!

You shouldn’t use a single, strong source of light to brighten an entire room. You want to go soft, with a number of different sources at different heights. Think of combining the flattering lights of a chandelier with a floor lamp or a desk lamp for the optimum effect.

Pushing Furniture up against the Walls

Although it might not seem like such a big deal, you really shouldn’t push your furniture all the way into the walls of the room. If your sofas and chairs are flush with the walls, it creates an oddly awkward amount of empty space in the centre of the room, giving the place a strangely unwelcoming atmosphere.

Arrange your furniture inside the room instead. This will really warm up the vibe a bit and just make things seem that little bit cosier.