Quick Tricks to Save You Money around the Home

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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!

How to Fully Restore a Sagging Sofa

Postindustrial Loft Conception (panoramic)

Sometimes, you come across a piece of furniture that you really fall in love with. You end up with a piece that you simply love so much that you couldn’t possibly even imagine your living room without it, never mind having to get an adequate replacement.

Sadly, time will always degrade things in the end – entropy will always win. However, this does not mean that you should just give up; we can always fight back, even if just for a short while. So that’s exactly what we’re going to do!

Sure, our introduction was maybe a little overblown, but this is serious stuff we’re talking about here. If your most prized and beloved sofa is beginning to look its age and it’s starting to sag, there is something you can do. Read on to find out how to stage your daring rescue.

Step #1 – Wash and Dry

This is a nice and easy step, which makes it the perfect place to start off with. All you need to do is to take off the covers from all the cushions on your sofa, then pop those covers into the washing machine. Make sure you follow the washing instructions, otherwise you might be in for a nasty surprise.

If your sofa is upholstered in fabric coverings, take these off as well – if that’s possible, of course. These also need a good wash and a proper drying off.

Step #2 – Fill It Up

The next step is pretty simple as well – lucky for us! All you need to do is to get hold of some Poly-Fil (or non-brand alternative) and start filling up the spaces in those saggy old cushions.

It really is that easy! Simply open up the zips or buttons on the cushion covers and get stuffing, adding more and more until you have some nice, plump cushions once more. As soon as you think they’re about as good as new, you can give it a rest and zip ‘em back up again.

The same sort of principles apply to the seat cushions, as well. Open them up a bit and use some Poly-Fil. This time, however, we would recommend using the Quilt type: the variety of Poly-Fil that you put on in layers, rather than stuff. This will give you a much more suitable seat cushion type of feeling when you’re sitting down. You don’t want it feeling like pillows or duvets, after all.

Step #3 – Sit Down and Enjoy

No really, that is actually all there is to it. We told you it was simple, didn’t we?

Well, if you really need us to break it down: zip up all your various cushions, pop them back into place, plump up the throw cushions with a couple of bashes, then sink into your gloriously un-saggy sofa. Wonderful!

Quick Fixes for Small Problems around the Home

House MAde Out of Tools

We’ve all been there – there are a couple of smaller problems around the home that shouldn’t really take all that long to fix, but… for one reason or another, we just haven’t got around to actually fixing them.

They’re a pain in the neck, even if they’re not particularly difficult to complete. Putting something off is infinitely easier than actually doing it!

But, unfortunately, we have to do it sooner or later. So with that in mind, we thought we’d cover some of the quickest fixes around, so that – if you have a problem that needs sorting out – you can get round to fixing it tout de suite! Sorted.

Squeaky Door Hinges

Your door hinges are squeaking all the time – is there anything more annoying than that? Luckily for you, it’s a super simple fix: all you need to do is spray a bit of WD-40 on the hinge, working in the liquid by moving the door backwards and forwards for a minute.

If you don’t have any WD-40 to hand, you can always try rubbing some petroleum jelly onto the hinges.

If neither of these works, it’s time for a bit of elbow grease. Lift the hinge pins out a little bit, then lubricate them up with a little three in one oil. Make sure to use a paper towel or two to catch any errant drips!

Peeling Wallpaper

Again, super simple tip, this. Grab a pot of wallpaper paste and blob some of it onto a knife. Then you just smear it onto a bit of regular old writing paper, then rub that paper against the underside of the wallpaper that’s peeling.

Next, simply press the wallpaper firmly into the wall, and slide out the writing paper from beneath the wallpaper. Lastly, you just need to smooth out the paper – we’d suggest using a clean cloth to do this.

Dusty Chandeliers

Dusting your chandeliers – where do you start? It’s a good job we’re here, isn’t it? First of all, use your common sense: turn off the lights. After waiting for the fixture to fully cool down, pop on a pair of cotton gloves. Dab one with a little glass cleaner, but keep the other dry.

All you need to do now is to rub each fixture with the dampened glove first, drying them off afterwards with the dry one. Spotless!

One thing, though: if your chandeliers are crystal, you don’t want to use glass cleaner. Instead, substitute it for a solution made up of three parts distilled water to one part rubbing alcohol.

Slamming Doors

Yet another annoyance around the home, slamming doors can thankfully be fixed with a minimum of effort. All you need to do is to get hold of a handful of pieces of foam weather stripping, and affixing a few smaller bits around the doorstop.

If you’d rather use something that you’re more likely to find around the home, grab one of those wide elastic bands that you’ll often find wrapped around a bundle of letters. Wrap the band around one of the doorknobs then stretch it around to the other side, wrapping it around the other doorknob. This will act as a cushion, stopping any nasty slams.

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.

Top Dusting and Cleaning Tips and Tricks

Have a glance over our tried and true top tips for cleaning and dusting to get your home spick and span in time for spring. Or – if you’d rather have someone else do it for you – hire a cleaner to get the job done faster!

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  • Don’t dust any surfaces that are taller than your tallest friend. Dust ceilings, of course, but try not to put yourself out!
  • Banish pet hair by popping on a wet rubber glove and brushing it lightly over the hair. It’ll lift right off.
  • If you’re prone to getting distracted when cleaning, set a timer for 30 minutes so that you can get more done more quickly – then get back to more interesting stuff, like watching TV, or cooking, or going out – or getting to the pub.
  • Keep cleaning products in a shoe holder hung over the back of the laundry closet door – they’ll be super easy to see and use.
  • Shaving foam can work wonders for lifting red wine out of carpets and upholstery, especially if you haven’t got any actual carpet foam or stain remover.
  • Washing the tub is actually really easy if you just hop in and do it nekkid. Be careful with the harsh chemical cleansers, as obviously, you don’t want your bits to get chemically burnt, but you can get into all of the nooks and crannies much easier without worrying about getting your sleeves soggy.  When you’re done, run the shower, then take a shower yourself.
  • Get someone to help! You help them clean their house, they help you clean your house – ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom, everyone’s house gets cleaned a little bit quicker.
  • Instead of running up and downstairs all the day taking stuff back up with you, keep an empty basket at the foot of the stairs and toss toys or any miscellanous bits that need to go back up – then just take the basket up at the end of the day. Saves running yourself off your feet all day!
  • Only got time to clean one room before guests arrive? Make it the bathroom – it’s the only room they spend any time in on their own and it’s the only room they’ll likely notice any mess in.  The rest of the place? Just a quick tidy round and a shove of things into the cupboards will do.
  • Remove food odours from plastic containers by washing with warm water and baking soda – it’ll lift heavy odours right out.
  • Speed through chores in the best possible way – by putting on your favourite music and enlisting the help of your children. Or, your friends. Offer them their drink of choice as a reward or a cartoon instead!

Source: Real Simple

7 Steps to Creating a Sleep Sanctuary

Create a cool and calm sanctuary in your home by following these eight simple design tips – thing like the perfect height for your headboard and how to match your bedside tables. If you’re not particularly good at painting and decorating, get a decorator in to help, or if you need an extra helping hand – such as the services of a handyman – hire one by clicking here.

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  • If you want to buy a new headboard (and you should, they really make a room), it should be approximately 45-54 inches in height from the floor to the top of the headboard if your room is eight to ten feet tall, whether you’ve gone for an arched design or a regular flat design. Any taller and any artwork that you get will end up too high on the wall. Get something that’s upholstered for extra comfort.
  • Bedside tables look best when they sit just an inch or two lower than the bed, which is usually 24-27 inches tall. If you’re going for mismatched tables, they should still be the same height, and they should sit around 15 inches deep so you can fit lamps and bits and pieces on them.
  • Pop a bench at the end of the bed for valuable storage space and to pull the room together. If you’ve got little ones, it provides a really good spot for them to curl up on when they can’t sleep, too. It should be about 2/3 the width of the bed, and at least three feet away from the wall opposite the end of the bed.
  • Art above the bed, whether you choose bright modernist pieces or religious museum-worthy art, should fill around 2/3 of the space horizontallty and 2/3 of the space vertically.
  • If you’re trying to unify two different bedside tables, make sure you choose two matching lamps. For a style that’ll never date, opt for drum style shades, as they’re very clean and unfussy, which means that they won’t interfere with the rest of the decor and you can keep ’em even if you change the furniture.
  • When it’s cool out, keep a throw or bedspread laid out over the bottom of the bed – that way, you can just pull it up if it’s chilly overnight. When it’s warmer outside you can simply fold it up and toss it over the back of a chair.
  • If you want something comfy and cosy to sink your feet into when you step out of bed in the morning, opt for a cotton or plush rug instead of a sisal rug ‘cos it’ll be softer on your toes. There should be at least three feet of rug on all three sides of the bed, otherwise, it’ll just look a bit small and awkward.

Source: Teal Simple

How to: Clean Your Closet

Cleaning out your closet isn’t a particularly fun job, but it’s one of those jobs that just has to be done every now and then, to make space for all of your new clothes! But sometimes, starting the job is more difficult than actually doing it, so we’re here to tell you how to clean your closet!

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  • The very best way to get organized, in our book, is to make a ruddy good mess first. In the case of cleaning your closet, one of the simplest things to do is to take all of the clothes from your closet, and then dump them out on your bed. That way, you can’t go to sleep until it’s all done, can ya?
  • Same goes for your dresser drawers and bedside tables, too. Get em out. Get everything out. Now is not the time to worry about cleanliness. Start this job early in the day, as in, 8am. Not at 10pm, as you won’t be able to sleep, and if you like a tidy house, dragging everything out of your drawers and your wardrobe late at night only to make a massive mess is just going to stress you out, so why bother? Get started early, preferably on a Saturday or on a weekend or when you have a couple of days to spare.
  • What do you want to keep?  You’ll want to make three piles, obviously – keep, chuck, and donate. Chuck or donate stuff that’s either too big, too small or that you bought on a whim and have never, ever worn.
  • Before you put everything back away, invest in a few clever organizing essentials – things like plastic boxes for your shoes, hangers that you can hang multiple tops and blouses from, boxes under the bed for off season items that might not fit into your wardrobe and mini storage boxes that can store things like jewellery or makeup. That way, you’ve got stuff to put your stuff in, as it were, so that everything is fabulously organised by the time you’re done, instead of just being shoved back into drawers onto shelves.
  • Sort your clothes by type and arrange them on shelves so you know exactly where to find the specific item of clothing that you’re after right away. That way, you can put together outfits with ease – yay! If you’re feeling really, really fancy, or if you have loads of space in your closet, you could even arrange your stuff by colour.
  • When you’re using the closet once you’ve done the big clean up, make sure that you keep it clean and tidy – it might take a few seconds longer to fold things and to leave everything neat, but it’ll make life soo much easier when it comes to actually using it!

Source: Real Simple

6 Tricks to Make Doing the Washing a Breeze

The average family runs their washing machine around 400 times a year – which averages out at more than once a day. If you have little ones, you’ll know that it’s way more than that – sometimes four, five or even six times a day. If it feels like your washer is constantly running, and you want to cut down the load a little bit, use these six tips to make doing the washing a breeze.

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  • To save dragging around a heavy basket, or carrying around armfuls of laundry, just buy a basket on wheels! That way, you can wheel it from the bathroom or wherever the laundry is kept to the washing machine and bada-bing, bada-boom, you can do your washing without dropping any socks along the way.
  • A brilliant way to store lost socks when you’re looking for the other lost socks, is to use a free “lost sock” print that you can find online. We found one with the text “Clean. Single. Looking for a mate.” with applique detailing. Pop it into a frame, glue gun clothes pegs to the bottom of the frame, and when a lost sock appears from the machine, you can simply peg it up until its partner appears.
  • Use the same kind of dispensers you can use for water to hold your detergents – the kind with little taps. That way, you can dispense the perfect amount of detergent or conditioner into the ball that you pop into the drum. Just be sure to keep them on a high shelf if you have children, especially if you’re planning on keeping them on display.
  • Insert hooks and shelves into any nifty little spaces that you can find, however small or awkward. They might not seem as though they’d be particularly useful, but even if they can only handle a bag of pegs, a laundry bottle or some sponges, they could come in really, really handy.
  • Create a bookshelf/shelving unit-cum-ironing station. Sounds weird, but it’s a pretty handy way to store everything that you’re going to need to store, like your iron, ironing fluid, dryer sheets, conditioner, etc, etc, etc, and the top doubles as your ironing board! You won’t be able to buy one (we haven’t seen one anywhere) but if you have a handy husband then you can ask him to help you out, or get a builder to fashion one for you.
  • 3 laundry bags/boxes. Instead of having to sort out laundry when you’re in the laundry room, have 3 separate bags/boxes for coloured clothes, white clothes and delicates. Viola. No need for sorting. Just do your washes as and when.

Source: Real Simple

Clever DIY Projects for Every Room

Little bit bored this weekend? Or want to change the way your kitchen look? Adding more storage? Whatever your needs, whether you want to change the look of your room, add more storage solutions or are just in need of a bit of a project, these clever DIY projects are just the ticket – and there’s one for every room, too.

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  • Kitchen cupboards: paint the inside of the kitchen cupboard with chalkboard paint, frame using some leftover edging strips from your skirting board or panelling, then use to write your shopping list, or to hang measuring cups and spoons as in the handy little guide above. It looks lovely, too.
  • Living room: If you’re anything like us, you have tons of photos and cool images lying around that just need to be framed, do it! Frame them in either matching frames or an array of mix-y match-y vintage or modernist frames, arrange them on the floor in whatever pattern looks best, then put them up on the wall in a gallery style.
  • Bedroom: You can make your bedroom look fresh and funky by adding new pillows – and you don’t need to fork out a fortune for new fabric, either. Use some that you already have, or stitch a few dishcloths together! You don’t need fancy sewing skills, either, just turn the fabrics opposite to the way that they’ll be displayed when the cushion is finished, and then it doesn’t really matter if you have a wobbly edge on the fabric. Practice a little bit first, if you can, but remember – sometimes the homemade look is better!
  • Painted floors: It’s as simple as that, really. Paint. The. Floor. Sand it, clean it, dust it.  Prepare it for painting. Paint it. Varnish it. Apply the desired finish. Viola! Your floors look totally different, and it took you a day or two? Just be sure to move all furniture out the way, then make sure that the floor is completely dry before moving the furniture back into the room so that you don’t get any scuff marks.
  • Patterned shelves: a brilliant way to brighten up your bookshelves is by adding some pretty stencilling to the back panel of the shelf. It adds interest, and gives you a great excuse to de-clutter, so that you can see the lovely pattern that you added! The best part of all is that you can download and print the stencils onto cardboard at home, then stipple the paint onto the shelves so that there are no drips, no mess and no fuss.

Source: Real Simple

How to Increase the Value of Your Home: Part 2

In part two of our series about home renovations you should be doing – whether you’re trying to increase the value of your home because you’re moving, or because you want some extra equity in the house for a future move, we mention the few major renovations you can make without forking out a ton of money that’ll not only improve the value of your home but that could even boost your bank balance in the short term, too.

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  • Go green: The government’s Green Deal scheme means that if your home isn’t particularly well insulated, or if you pay over the odds for your electricity for any reason other than “because you’re greedy” and keep your appliances switched on all day every day – for example, if your roof is leaky or your home isn’t draught proofed or you could do with wall insulation. The scheme enables you to take advantage of finance through your energy bills to pay for the cost of the refurbishments and calculates what you could save – for example, £2000, and then allocates £2000 of finance to pay for the refurb which you pay back through your energy bills. The finance is attached to the house, too, rather than the person. These renovations could take your home from an energy rating of a C to an A, for example, which could potentially increase the value by up to £15,000 – and so most people would be happy to pay for the finance for the Green Deal if it means that the house is worth more money!
  • Plus, you’d be amazed at how much difference a little bit of insulation can make to how warm your house feels – plus, it doesn’t cost a lot of money either, even if you don’t go through the Green Deal. Pop into your local builder’s merchants and pick some up – pop it into your attic, your cellars if you have one, and seal up any gaps you can find around doors and windows with sand and cement. Any permanent methods – that aren’t just draught excluders behind the doors – will work a treat.
  • Techy homes stand out from the rest because they’re literally sticking their neck out above the rest. In the next ten to twenty years, new homes will be built with tech right from the ground up – and if you add it into your house right now, you could potentially add a lot – a lot – of value. Do it right, though. Make sure that the tech can be upgraded down the road and that it can be reached relatively easily, either through one “control room” or “control pad” somewhere in the house, and that the wiring can be changed if necessary.

Source: Real Simple