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.

4 Ways to Prepare Your Home for the Winter

Loft Christmas room

Now that autumn is rolling in with force, the nights are getting ever longer and the temperatures are quickly dropping up and down the country, it is clear that winter is just around the corner. You need to make sure your home is prepared for the colder months.

This will help you to cut down on your expenses, particularly with your utility bills, so you really should at least try to make one or two adjustments. It will pay off in the long run!

Give Your Boiler a Tune-up

Although this will probably put you out of pocket to begin with, it’s never massively expensive, and it will definitely be preferable to having a boiler breakdown in the dead of winter when all the technicians have a massive backlog of heaters to repair.

Get in there while it’s not so busy and get your boiler looked at. The technician will give it a good going over, making sure it is clean and in good health, then tuning it up so you can get the maximum levels of efficiency and thus save a little money in running costs.

Check out Your Roof

Have a quick gander around your roof while it’s still light, checking for any tiles or shingles that are missing or damaged and might end up leaking ice cold water into your home as the snow settles and melts.

If you need some repairs, it will be more cost efficient in the long run to get a roofer out to do the work. Leaving it will only end up causing a much greater deal of damage. While you’re at it, make sure you clear out the gutters so that they don’t get blocked up.

Get Insulating

Insulation is your friend during those long, cold months. The main way to protect yourself from ice dams is by ensuring there is plenty of insulation up in the attic – if too much heat is escaping through the attic, it can melt the snow on the roof. If this then refreezes, you can be in big trouble, so make sure you’ve got enough insulation.

You can also help cut down your winter energy bills by caulking your windows and adding weather stripping to your doors; these will help to prevent heat getting out and draughts getting in.

Be Prepared for the Worst

Although it is fairly unlikely – at least, depending upon where you live – that you will experience any “real” winter emergency at home this year, it really will stand you in good stead to be prepared for any eventuality.

Familiarise yourself with the location of your pipes and learn how to shut off your water in case of a freeze or a leak, trim any dead branches from the trees so that they can’t do any damage if they freeze and fall, and make sure to stock up on salt or grit well ahead of schedule.

Transform Your Small Garden with These Great Ideas

Small garden.

You have a small garden, but you have some big dreams. We have news for you – you don’t have to up sticks and move to a bigger place. Instead, just take a look at our ideas below. We have put together some great ideas as to how you can transform you small, average garden into a truly amazing space. Read on for some serious inspiration!

Paper Lanterns for a Party

Honestly though, paper lanterns are the new craze. They are really hot at the minute, so it’s time you jumped on board! Sure, they are great indoors, but they’re so much cooler when you take them out into the great outdoors (aka your garden).

Take them out, hang them up in clusters over your dining or seating area or your patio, and hey presto – instant party time. Just uh… make sure it’s not going to rain.

Take Minimalism to the Max

Minimalism seems like it will always be popular, which is particularly good for us, as it’s one of the easiest things to do and get right and looking good! The main thing you need to do is to make sure everything looks clean and simple, with plenty of sharp angles. Two colours max – keep it looking simple.

Once that’s all sorted, it’s time to accessorise. Grab a couple of nice statues or centrepieces and put them in the right places… then you’re done! It’s an amazing look, and it’s totally scalable.

Trellis Island

If you have a small patio area and you’re really not sure how to work it, here’s something great you can do, and it doesn’t take a huge amount of effort – bonus!

In the centre, place an elegant bird bath or plinth, stone is good, and find a nice seat to nestle in at the back. Dot a few potted plants around the area to add some pretty little touches of interest, and top it all off with a beautiful trellis, just next to the seat. It will look beautiful.

Top Deck

If you want your little space to look real smart and sophisticated, there is nothing simpler than to put down a bit of wooden decking, surrounded by a nice little rock garden.

Get some nice steel furniture in the middle of the decking – somewhere you could imagine have breakfast on a summer’s day – and surround your little dining area with some pretty box hedges. Now look at that: you’ve got yourself a winner.

Put Your Walls Up

Got a brick wall out there in the garden? Good for you! Now let’s spruce it up a bit and make it a real talking piece.

The easiest way of making it look really fabulous is simply covering it in wisteria. It’s a quick growing vine, so it won’t take long until you have an amazing looking wall that will act as the centrepiece of your garden, really tying it all together.

Ideas to Help You Whip up a Fantastic New Living Room

moderne Wohnzimmer VisualisierungYour living room is looking a little… dated, isn’t it? The paint isn’t quite as bright and lustrous as it once was, and the room in general is just a bit tired and worn down. That’s what “living” will do to a room!

Well, here we are, and we are here to help. Here is part one of our massive horde of ideas which will help you to create a new and wonderful living space in which you can feel truly comfortable relaxing, spending time with the family, or unwinding in front of the television.

Here we go!

Pretty in Pink

If you happen to have a good mix of antiques in the home, or if your furniture is leaning more towards the rustic end of the spectrum, then you will want to paint your living room in a nice, warm shade.

A lilac shade will be just perfect for a country chic look – think antiqued wooden pieces and fabric furniture covers.

Pair Blues with Greens

We all know that we should be mixing up our patterns and textures if we are looking to create something truly special, but most of us tend to stick to just the one colour. If you really want to create some wow factor, however, you should spice it up even more: go for both blues and greens.

These two colours will bring out a marine sort of feeling in the living room; capitalise on this and add some seaside aesthetic, such as the occasional conch shell or even a nice fish tank!

Mix the Old with the New

Country modern is a fantastic fusion of two very distinct styles, that somehow manages to work as greater than the sum of its parts. Neutral colours work the best here – beiges and creams on the walls – alongside rough fabric covers on the sofa and chairs.

The way to mix the two together is simple: you want one focal piece from each of them. One particularly effective focal piece from the “country” half is a traditional fireplace, so if you’ve got it, flaunt it! Then think about a coffee table for the “modern” counterpart: burnished steel or glass does the trick. Experiment!

Mellow Yellow

If your living room is not fortunate enough to receive a great deal of sunlight, there are a few options you can choose from to help alleviate that situation. The first is to play around with mirrors: arguably the best way is to install a large feature mirror on the wall across from the main window.

A nicer – and “sunnier” – method is to paint the room in bright yellow shades. And so that you don’t go entirely overboard, think about pairing that with a deep red carpet, or with red-varnished wooden flooring.

Finding the Best Tradesmen for Home Improvements and Repairs

Plumber on the kitchen.

If you’re looking to schedule some routine maintenance for your house, carry out a repair or arrange a home improvement project, then you’re going to require the services of a skilled tradesman. But with so many niches and areas of specialisation out there, finding the most qualified practitioner for your situation isn’t always so easy.

In this post, we’re going to take a look at a few of the most common types of tradespeople in operation. We’ll offer a bit of insight into how you can go about selecting the best professional for a given trade:


When it comes to hiring an electrician, there are many different variables that need to be considered. To begin with, you want to hire a person who has the proper credentials. Verifying this means that you need to have at least a cursory understanding of local requirements in your area (e.g. in England and Wales, this would mean compliance with Part B building regulations). But you’ll also need a means of verifying a particular electrician’s certification claims. Registration with local trade bodies, accreditation and insurance should also be taken into account.

Interior designers

Hiring an interior designer is a major commitment, and it’s wise to spend plenty of time looking into your options before you commit to a particular service. First of all, you’ll only want to consider designers who have plenty of professional experience as well as certification through relevant local councils or qualification bodies. It’s also important that the interior designer you select has experience working with the type of property or design scheme that is of interest to you. Every designer has their own speciality, so it’s worth shopping around to find one whose talents are well-aligned with your needs.


Unless you’re currently in the process of building or renovating a house, then the likeliest time you’re going to find yourself in need of a plumbing service is when an emergency strikes. With that in mind, you’ll probably need a plumber that offers 24-hour service. You’ll also want to make sure that all of the right certifications and memberships are in place. For example, if you’re looking for Birmingham plumbers, then you’ll probably fare best with a service that belongs to the Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors Limited (APHC). And there are several other certifying bodies that can vouch for a plumber’s ability to work on a particular system or under certain circumstances.


A competent and qualified landscape contractor can help you transform your property through the use of specialised tools and expertise. But finding the right provider isn’t always that easy. To begin with, a run of the mill garden maintenance team may have the requisite skills to keep your garden looking beautiful, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re actually capable of providing landscaping services. For that reason, it’s important to note that there are three overarching aspects to landscaping – hardscaping, softscaping and maintenance. It’s rare for one landscaper to excel at all three. Knowing what specialisation you require will go a long way toward helping you choose the right landscaper.

Heating and Cooling Specialists

When it comes to hiring an HVAC specialist, you’ll want to start by doing some research. Educate yourself about the local licensing requirements, and then read up on your specific heating and cooling system. Specifically, make sure that you know its model and maintenance history. As far as finding the right specialist is concerned, don’t be afraid to ask for referrals or to look for reviews in an online directory. And at the risk of sounding repetitive, don’t settle for an underqualified service. Credentials and qualifications exist for a reason.


Proper licensure is important for any tradesman, but the stakes are particularly high when you are working with the built environment. It’s absolutely critical that the person constructing or working on your house or place of business has all the proper licenses and qualifications. Failing to ensure this could have disastrous consequences. You’ll also want to make sure that they have home indemnity insurance, which protects you in the case that something happens to them (anything form insolvency to death) which prevents them from finishing the job. As far as looking for referrals is concerned, it’s wise to follow up with past customers and to look, in particular, for unresolved disputes related to past projects. These should be taken as red flags.


Carpentry is a truly ancient trade, and today’s tradespeople continue to branch out and specialise. That’s why it’s important to know specifically what type of carpenter you require (e.g. rough carpenters, finish carpenters and repair carpenters). When you know a bit about each specialisation, it becomes easier to narrow down the search. You’ll also want to check and confirm that your carpenter is appropriately qualified, licensed and insured. Finally, availability is often an issue when hiring a carpenter. This is an in-demand trade, and finding a qualified professional with time to work on your project can be challenging.


Roofers are another of those tradespeople that you’re most likely to need when an emergency strikes. This makes it all the more important that you have a reliable service to call upon. If a storm strikes and your roof is suddenly in need of emergency repairs, it’s going to be difficult to spend much time shopping around for a qualified roofer with all the appropriate credentials, licenses and insurance. That’s why it’s a good idea to make note of these professionals ahead of time. When it comes to roofing jobs, references and word-of-mouth referrals go a long way.

Whether you’re in the market for plumbers or interior designers, you can be sure that finding the most qualified professionals is going to require a bit of research on your behalf. But by educating yourself about the job at hand, you’re much more likely to find the right tradesperson for the job.

How to Create a Minimalist Home

modern interior

One of the key trends in the world of interiors at the moment is the idea of minimalism – keeping hold of just what you need and is functional, avoiding clutter. This might not be to everyone’s taste, but those who swear by minimalism reap benefits such as less stress since their home is free of visual distraction, a home that’s much easier to clean without having to worry about sweeping and vacuuming round tricky pieces of furniture and also a more pleasing aesthetic.

If you’re looking to create a home free of clutter and distraction, we show you the basic tips for starting your minimalist lifestyle.

Remember it’s quality over quantity

This is the very essence of minimalism so instead of having a home jam-packed full of things you’ll choose just a few that you both really love and use frequently. For example it’s better to have one really nice table than lots of cabinets all over the place.

Start off slow

It can be really tough to minimise a whole house overnight so start off slow and tackle one room at a time. It’s always a good idea to start with a room you spend lots of time relaxing in such as a bedroom or living room, so you can start reaping the benefits of calmness straight away.

Clear floors

An easy place to start is with the floors, which should be completely clear (except for your furniture of course). It’s not a place to stack or store things so once you’re down to the bare essentials you can either throw everything else away, donate to a friend or charity shop or, for things that are really necessary, find a new storage place for it that’s out of sight.

Clear surfaces

Once you’re done with the floor it’s time to start tackling surfaces. One or two decorations is plenty to add the personal touch to your room (or basics such as the kettle, toaster and microwave in your kitchen) but everything else can be thrown away, donated or stored as above.

Get rid of unnecessary furniture

When it comes to minimalism the fwere pieces of furniture you have the better, so try and stick to just the very basics. Ask yourself if you’re able to live comfortably without it and if the answer is yes, you know what to do!

Keep walls simple

Lots of artwork or photo frames hanging on your walls can cause a big distraction, so keep it down to just one or two pieces. It’s still possible to make a statement when living minimally, just choose a bold print and use that as your centre focus.

Find a place for everything

There’s no point in the rest of your house sticking with the minimal aesthetic if you keep everything stored away in a jumbled heap in a cupboard. Find a place for everything – a places that’s both easy to remember and easy to reach. It’s always best to find places that are logical such as somewhere close to where you’d actually use the item, but it’s more important to just designate a spot and stick with 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.


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!


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.


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

Student Room Essentials – What You’ll Need for the Perfect Dorm!

Keep the space modern and bright

So you have a place at university, and all your hard work and studying has paid off. First things first – congratulations! Not everyone makes it to where they want to be, so you’ve done well to get here. You have a fantastic three (or four, or more) years to look forward to!

With this article, we’re assuming you’ll be living in halls for your first year. It’s the best way to meet new friends and start your uni life with a bang, jumping in right at the deep end. And let’s face it – it’s a little less of a hassle than organising your own place to stay!

But what do you need? Well, for starters, you should try to pack as little as possible. Rooms aren’t usually massive by any stretch of the imagination, and it’s likely that some things will be provided for you. Let’s delve into the essential brings.

Essentials for the Bedroom

First of all, we should probably talk about the bed. You’re going to be sleeping there rather a lot, so you want it to be nice, cosy and clean. Bring at least two sets of bed sheets, or three if you’re a bit lazy and don’t do laundry all that often. Get doubles as, even if yours is a single, you’ll probably get a double bed in second and third year. A mattress protector might help to put your mind at ease!

A doorstop can be surprisingly useful as well, especially during the first week or so. Sure, it sounds a bit odd, but there’s no better way of meeting all your new housemates.

That’s pretty much the bedroom sorted, though there are a few small bits you might want to consider investing in. Think about getting a handful of clothes hangers as you can never have too many, and maybe a convenient hamper or other storage solution.

Also, don’t forget to personalise your space. We’re talking posters, framed photographs, maybe even something a little more interesting like some fairy lights. Whatever says “you”!

Essentials for the Kitchen

The kitchen is the second most important thing to kit out, even if you’re in catered accommodation. A few plates and bowls will be plenty on the crockery side of things, plus a set of cutlery as you won’t want to share. Some of the other things, such as a kettle or a microwave if necessary, should be left until after you move in – you can always split the cost with your roomies.

Other bits and bobs you might want to grab include all those little utensils, like a spatula, a colander, a wooden spoon and a pair of kitchen scissors, as well as maybe a chopping board and some decent knives. Think about other small things like a cheese grater and a tea towel or two, plus pots and pans (assuming they’re not provided).

Take your favourite mug along with you as well!


There are loads of other things you should look into getting as well, but… well, they’re all a bit dull. Stationery, a planner, books… Boring! One more potential essential though – an extension cable for all those gadgets!

Summer Gardening Tips

English garden in summer

We all want to make the most of the Great British weather in the summer months and make sure our garden looks in tip-top condition for when we’re enjoying a glass of wine in the yard after work, dining alfresco or hosting a BBQ. From mowing the lawn to getting rid of pests, we’ve rounded up the best summer gardening tips to make sure your garden is always ready to impress.

Know when to water

We all know that watering our lawn and plants regularly is important when the weather heats up, but how often should you be giving your greenery a drink? Generally you should be watering the entire garden once or twice a week whilst hanging baskets can require watering up to two times a day. Hedges can be watered with a trickle hose and larger shrubs and trees should be left with a hosepipe at the base for around an hour.

Make sure you’re prepared for unexpected weather – it is Britain after all – and keep plants susceptible to frost covered up if a cold night is forecast.

Watch out for pests

You won’t be the only one enjoying your garden this summer – pests such as aphids and caterpillars will be out in force and can transmit viruses. Catch them early on and they can be dealt with by hand.

Birds need water too

We all look out for birds in the winter, but hot and dry weather can also make the ground hard meaning birds struggle to find food. Leaving some seeds out for them not only supplements their diet through the summer but helps them build up a reserve for the winter too. The dry summer months also make it more difficult for birds to access water, so also consider investing in a bird bath so they can have a drink and splash around.

Remove dead flowers

Getting rid of the flowers that are past their best not only improves the aesthetic of your garden, it supports new growth too. Without the wilted flowers the plant can then concentrate on the fresh flower instead. It also discourages pests and fungi – wilted flowers are a breeding ground for them! You’ll also find that certain summer shrubs such as larkspur can re-flower in the autumn if they are cut back once the summer flowering is over.

Plant winter seeds

By the time August rolls around the gardening season will be almost over, so don’t forget to plant seeds for your winter vegetables. In your vacant patches try sowing seeds for vegetables like lettuce, spinach, winter onions and radishes.

Cut your hedges

To maintain strong and healthy hedges that grow densely and evenly it’s important to cut them several times a year. Though this should be avoided during the bird mating season between March and July, after this time has passed you can start to cut them again.

Clean up the decking

During the rainy winter months, leaves and squashed berries can not only leave your patio and decking looking grubby, but they can be pose a slippery threat. It’s easy to clean them up – simply blast away the dirt and stains with a pressure washer – no chemicals required!

Advantages of installing quartz worktop in the kitchen

Quartz worktops are amongst the most popular kind of kitchen worktop used today, with several new homes being built with them. If you are planning to use quartz worktop in the kitchen, then you will realize how installing them can make the cooking space look absolutely stunning. But it is not only about its toughness and visual appearance too that can withstand the heat of the cooking space.

Kitchen quartz worktop is made of 93% quartz crystals and the leftover 7% comprises of resin and bonding agents, with extra materials added for decoration purpose. Kitchen quartz worktop Kitchen quartz worktop

There are some cases when it may be a pigment that stains the surface a particular color. This makes an attractive finish however, one that retains the obvious look of a natural material. Today, kitchen worktops are made of quartz with extra materials like mirrored flecks or small metal flecks.

The metallic flakes produce a gleaming effect that lights up beautifully and has a spectacular impact on the overall look of the cooking area. Adding mirror flecks in the manufacturing process will make finished worktop look reflective and catch light in innumerable ways that will make the ultimate result look simply astounding.

One of the advantages of manufacturing kitchen quartz worktop is the color and effect runs all the way through worktop just like the ones that are made with a veneer and can begin to chip, crack, peel away or tear thus, revealing a hideous and unclean surface beneath.

From versatility, durability and visual appearance factors, quartz worktops are the best option for anyone who wants to make their kitchen a great combination of functionality with style. Well, do you know the different alternatives that you should consider and how do you compare them?

Regarding solid worktops, quartz worktops are reasonably priced, with granite worktops leveraging the benefits of a solid surface at a higher cost. Stainless steel is another smart choice of professional chefs and cooks though stainless steel is mainly used in the kitchen. When combined together with a bold highlight color for tiles, stainless steel will simply look unbelievable.

Another alternative to quartz worktops is Corian that are the most popular used in the cooking area. Corian worktops offer various advantages, in particular to versatility, visual appearance and durability.

Corian is the most adaptable amongst all kinds of materials used for manufacturing kitchen worktops. It can be cut, moulded, glued and even vacuum formed, meaning that almost any design can be made with the help of it. Like other worktops such as quartz worktops, Corian worktops are not flat and can be made in three dimensions than only two.

When you are considering appearance and style, Corian are found in more colors and styles than other types of solid worktop. With almost 70 different designs and styles available and with several more added to the range almost every year, if you cannot find your choice in the Corian range, you will not be able to find it elsewhere.

Thus, which one should you opt for if you want to install solid worktops – quartz worktops or Corian worktops? Well, if rugged durability is what you are looking for, then kitchen quartz worktop is the perfect choice as it has the look of natural stone appearance and is extremely hard by nature.