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.

How You Can Cut Your Chore Hours in Half

Cute mother and her daughter ready to cleaning room

It kind of feels like for every hour of free time, at least forty five minutes are spent doing the chores and other bits and bobs around the house, doesn’t it? Well, we say enough is enough – it is time for you to put down that dish cloth and get away from the vacuum cleaner for a while!

No one wants to waste their life doing all the little odd jobs. They’re not much fun, no one really enjoys doing them, and they build up and build up until there’s no time left to do anything else. So let’s try and cut that time down to a reasonable amount, shall we?

Here are some tips so that you can spend a little less of your life scrubbing dishes and cleaning floors and the like.

Stop Doing Chores at the Weekend!

Okay, so we’re going all-out crazy with our first tip. We know – if you’re not using your weekends to do the chores, where are you going to find the time to get them all done?

We’ll spell it out for you: Do Fewer Chores. Lower your chore standards! Chores will always expand to fill your time – the more free time you find you have, the more chores you’ll manage to find which all “need” to be completed right away. Things don’t have to be entirely perfect; the house isn’t going to fall down just because you didn’t spend your weekend elbow-deep in pots and pans.

Also, there is an added advantage to avoiding housework on weekends: it forces you to find the time to do the necessities during the week. That doesn’t mean to have to conjure up any “extra” time – instead, you will find that you simply spend less time procrastinating, checking your phone and so on.

Be Less Creative in the Kitchen

Obviously, if you love cooking, we’re not going to tell you to cut it out. However, not every evening calls for a dish straight out of Masterchef! By making sure that you embrace simplicity in the kitchen every once in a while, you will find that you will spend less time slaving over the stove, and you will use fewer dishes, which in turn means that there are fewer to wash, dry, and put away!

And hey, if you’re eating simple dishes more often, that means you get to enjoy and appreciate simple flavours! Let the ingredients do the talking; you don’t need to go crazy all the time to get some seriously delicious food on your plate.

Do the Laundry Less Frequently

Now that might sound like an “in an ideal world…” sort of scenario, but really, there is an easy way to do the laundry less frequently: you simply create less of it to do.

Clearly we’re not telling you to go to work smelling stale. But there are loads of ways to ease up on your laundry-dirtying! Wear sandals when it’s warm and there are fewer socks to wash. Go longer between washes for things like jeans and pyjamas. Easy!

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.

Really Quick DIY Home Fixes to Get Involved in This Weekend

Selection of tools in the shape of a house

If you are looking for something to keep you occupied – but not ¬too occupied – this weekend, then you have most certainly found your way to the right blog post!

We have rounded up a few of our quickest and best tips to help you use up a little bit of your free time in the most productive of ways: fixing up your home.

These quick and easy projects will make you feel like you’ve been super productive all weekend, even though they’ll only take about 20 minutes each to complete!

Stop Door Hinges Squeaking

If you’ve got a door that is really getting on your nerves due to its hinges constantly squeaking, you’ll be pleased to know that the fix for your problem couldn’t be simpler.

Simply get a can of WD-40 and spray it directly onto the hinges. Then move the door back and forward a bit to make sure it gets properly worked in. Don’t have any WD-40? That’s fine – petroleum jelly will do the trick just as well, but you’ll have to rub it in yourself.

Stop Floors Squeaking

Maybe it’s your floors that are squeaking and not your doors? In that case, the fix is just as easy: all you need is a little talcum powder.

Sprinkle some of that talc over the problem area, then sweep so that the talcum powder falls into the cracks. Hey presto – quiet floor! Just make sure to clean thoroughly should you ever decide to put a new finish on that floor.

Smooth Peeling Wallpaper

Suffering from peeling wallpaper? No need to worry. You’ll need the following few items: a butter knife, some wallpaper paste, and a piece or two of scrap paper.

Grab the knife and use it to smear the wallpaper paste onto the bit of scrap paper. Next, rub that piece of paper up against the underside of the bit of wallpaper that’s peeling. Firmly press the wallpaper into the wall and, lastly, carefully slide the scrap paper out from underneath the wallpaper, smoothing as you go.

If there are any bubbles left afterwards, just get a very slightly damp cloth and smooth them out.

Clean Stained Bathtub

You will need a few oddly specific – but easily found around the home – items if you want to give your bathtub back its gleam and shine.

Mix some baking soda with some cream of tartar, in equal amounts, and add in lemon juice until it becomes a paste. Then you just need to rub the paste into the stained areas and sit back with a cup of coffee for half an hour or so while it gets to work.

After that, thoroughly rinse your bath with warm water, and the results should be plain to see. One bathtub, looking good as new!

The Latest and Greatest Trends in Home Improvement

DO IT! tools concept

Interested in upgrading the home? Specifically in making sure you do more than just keep up with the Joneses? Well you’ve come to the right place.

Here, we’ve listed some of the most cutting edge trends in home improvement, stuff that is just about to be massive and beloved by everyone. So if you want to be ahead of the curve… this is the stuff you should be looking into getting for yourself.

Solar Shutters

These shutters combine form with function. Obviously they look good, but these shutters do more than just stop the sun shining in your eyes or causing glare on the TV; they actually have photovoltaic panels on the back, allowing them to soak up the sun and put it to good use in your home.

The blinds plug directly into an outlet, meaning you can reap back all that lovely solar energy. Clearly, it’s not going to power your whole house, but with a generating amount of about 500 watts an hour, you can start running your TV and computer for free. Very nice!

Imitation Laminate Countertops

Don’t worry – these aren’t your mother’s imitations. These days you can expect to find really impressively authentic looking laminate countertops, ones you would swear were the real deal. And, unlike the real deal, they won’t completely destroy your bank balance.

Some of the very best laminates are the high-end granite and marble looks, but we have started to find some incredibly lifelike petrified wood styles coming to the market as well. Keep an eye out!

Garage Screen Doors

These are perfect for those among us who use their garage as more than just a place to put the car. Garage screen doors work in conjunction with your normal garage door, meaning there’s no pesky interference – you can still close your door as usual.

The best thing about them is that they have a smaller door in the centre of the screen, which means you can pop in and out with ease, without having to open up the whole thing.

Solar Water Heaters

These are guaranteed to grow and grow in popularity until one day, it’ll be rare to find a home without one. Why? Simply put: because they will save you a chunk of change from your energy bills.

It’s just your normal water heater, except it uses the energy of the sun. What’s not to love about that? And if you’re worried about the amount of solar power you’ll be able to draw in your area, they’ve got that covered as well, with electric and gas backup systems available.

Long-Life Roofing

Don’t be disposable, invest in something with some serious lasting power for once. And 50-year roofs have lasting power in spades. Newer materials such as polymer plastics and recycled tyres are being put to good use as roofing tiles.

The main advantages are that they are both cheaper and longer-lasting, giving you some incredible bang for your buck. And don’t worry about them looking tacky – they look just like traditional roof tiles.

Tips to Help You Improve Absolutely Any Room in Your Home

interior of living room in villa

If you are looking to do a little bit of home decorating in order to spruce up the place in which you live, you will already know about the frankly ridiculous wealth of choices and options that lie in wait. You will have a lot of decisions to make!

And with so much at stake – after all, you don’t want an awful looking living room – you really do want to make sure that you get it right first hand. Sometimes, you’ll want to scrap everything and start over from scratch, while at others, you might be more interested in just improving a room in a small way.

Whatever it is that you’re after, you should know that there are some principles that all professional home designers will always follow, and for good reason: they work. Here are some of those principles; you can use them as you want in order to improve any room of your choosing!

Pick Paint Penultimately

So it might make sense from an effort required sort of standpoint to paint the walls first – after all, this will allow you to have it all ready for the furniture. There is a certain amount of logic there.

However, we are going to recommend that you do the exact opposite. Don’t worry; we’ve not gone mad! Here is the reason why you should paint last: you will get to see what the room looks like with all your furniture inside it, and can therefore pick the paint colour to match.

There are hundreds upon hundreds of different shades to choose from, and many of these will jar with your furniture. You can only get a good match once your room is laid out as you want it, so why not wait to pick a properly complementary colour?

The Right Height

You would be surprised at just how much difference a piece of art can make to a room. And it can make an even bigger difference if you hang it at the right height!

Take a leaf from an art gallery’s book, and hang your paintings with the centre at eye level – the centre line should be roughly 5 feet from the floor. Even if you have tremendously high ceilings, keep the pictures at this level; it will look much better.

Hocus Pocus with Focus

Having a single focal point in your living room can really work a bit of magic. Your focal point will act as an anchor, drawing all eyes to it and lending its aesthetic powers to the rest of the room.

There are plenty of options here. Think of a major piece of artwork or a beautiful fireplace in the living room, but don’t feel confined: the choice is always yours. And you needn’t stick to the living room either – a fancy headboard can work wonders in the bedroom, or a centrepiece cooker in the kitchen. Think big!

Quick Tricks to Save You Money around the Home

icne bricolage

We could all use saving a little bit of cash here and there. And where better to do so than around the home? If you are looking to cut back on your expenses a tad, then you have been fortunate enough to stumble upon exactly the right article for your needs.

We’ve collated some of the best money-saving DIY tricks for your pleasure (and your wallet’s!). So what are you waiting for? It’s time to use a bit of elbow grease!

Install a Shower Timer

A shower timer is a little gadget that runs on batteries and will limit the time you and the rest of the family will spend in the shower. You’ll have to pay a little upfront (anywhere up to £100), but you can expect to save up to double that per year, depending on how strict you are.

You can usually set the timers to 5 or 10 minutes (or increments in between), allowing you to have as much time as you need, but no more. It’s good for your purse and it’s good for the environment. Bonus: less time wasted in the wet.

Get a Boiler Tune-up

Although this is not really something you can do yourself, it will save you a bit of cash and it is something that is done around the home, so we’re going to count it anyway.

All you need to do is to call your gas company and schedule a boiler tune-up each year. It will, of course, cost you a little money, but the annual savings will outweigh that cost somewhat, with the added bonus of putting a few extra years on your boiler’s lifespan.

Opt for a SmartStrip

What is a SmartStrip? It’s a great alternative to a standard extension lead, able to hold seven or eight different plugs, all while saving you a tidy sum. And how exactly does it do that, we hear you ask.

Well, it’s simple – it can tell when you’ve turned off whichever electronics are plugged into it, and automatically kills the power running to it, saving you money off your electricity bills. And if you have something you’d rather keep in standby, like a digital set top box, two of the outlets available can be set to “always on”. Lovely.

Install a Ceiling Fan

A bit of an odd sounding tip, we are willing to admit, but hear us out for a minute, as it could save up to £75 a year from your heating bills. We bet you’re more open to the idea now, no?

A ceiling fan will help you to reduce your energy bills in winter, simply by recirculating the warmer air (which rises to the ceiling) to the rest of the room. Keep your ceiling fan spinning at a slow speed and you can turn the thermostat down a couple degrees. Toasty!

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.

New Design Trends Coming to a Home Near You!

Cucina tavolo isola casa

If you are even the slightest bit like us, then you know that it is almost impossible to keep up with the latest trends in the home design sector. But it is so tempting to try and make sure your home is up to date with all the new happenings and styles!

A good home is always evolving, just like the modern trends. If you want to keep up with the changes and ensure your home style is at the top of its game, simply read the rest of this article. We’ll cover all of the different trends you’re likely to see increase in popularity over the next twelve months.

Bringing the Outdoors Indoors

These days, the line between what is classed as an “outdoor” fabric and what is regarded as an “indoor” one is becoming increasingly blurred. Many people are beginning to bring those outdoor fabrics into the home, and you will only see this trend getting more and more popular over the coming months.

Outdoor fabrics are particularly durable, which makes them the ideal choice for any rooms that have higher than average human traffic, such as the living room and the dining room.

Deepening the Drawers

Believe it or not, but it no longer has to be a choice between fashion and function in the kitchen – function is being regarded as being very much in fashion right now!

One way in which this is particularly obvious is when it comes to the kitchen drawers. If you are considering doing up your kitchen, let us give you some pointers: get rid of those bottom cabinets. Instead, install something much more user-friendly – deep kitchen drawers. Use inserts and dividers to help organise your bits and bobs, and even look into corner drawers: they’re incredibly versatile!

The Unusual Suspects

Once all of your usual appliances – your ovens, your fridges, your microwaves – are in place, it is time to start thinking a little bit outside the box. Appliances that fill a particular niche are all the rage at the minute, and they can add a little bit of luxury to your life.

The more unusual, the better. Well, so long as you’ll use it, that is! Steam ovens are particularly nice, as they cook things more thoroughly than a microwave, yet keep all the nutrients locked in. Or how about a warming drawer? These will keep your dishes warm while you finish off. Or even a kimchi fridge? Yes, that’s a real thing!

Multi-purpose Kitchen Islands

Usually, an island in the kitchen does just the one thing: provide you with a little extra space for storage and room for food prep. But if you really want your island to stand out, it’s time to put it to use in more ways than one.

We are thinking the following: breakfast bars, prep sinks, an eye-catching centrepiece, or some more of those deep drawers that we love. And that’s just a small selection of the versatility!