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.

Declutter 101: Things to Get Rid of Now

Chaotic clutter around home

Whether you’re a hoarder who loves your house to be filled with reminders of the things you’ve collected over the years or a staunch minimalist who can’t stand clutter, we’re all guilty of holding on to things that we really should be letting go of. It’s time for a cull.

Whether it’s shoes stacked up under the stairs, old receipts littering your handbag or outdated documents taking up valuable cupboard space, going through each room and giving it a much-needed declutter can make your home feel brand new. Here we’ve put together a list of the things you need to throw out right now.

Old magazines

Fair enough if you still read them, but if your pile of mags is just gathering dust in a cupboard or under the coffee table it’s time to let them go. Donate to your local GP surgery or, if you really can’t bear to let them go, cut them up and create a scrapbook of your favourite recipes, fashion inspirations and DIY tips.

Broken pens

Unless it’s dried out or broken you can never find one when you need one, but when you don’t need one they’re everywhere. It’s just typical! It’s time to bin all the pens you have lurking around your house and replace them with a better quality pen that you really won’t want to lose.

Makeup

That mascara that’s so dry it flakes everywhere when you open the lid? The stubby remains of what once was your favourite lipstick? Blue sparkly eyeshadow that you’ve had since 1996? If any of these sound familiar, bin immediately. Not only is it useless, but using make-up past its sell-by date can lead to bad skin and infections.

Unwanted gifts

It might make you feel bad, but unwanted gifts are serving any good by taking up space in your home. Donate to charity shops, give to friends or even recycle them as birthday and Christmas presents. There’s no shame, just be careful you don’t end up giving it back to the original gifter…

Clothes you don’t wear

We’re all guilty of holding on to that one pair of jeans that hasn’t fit since we were eighteen in the hopes that one day we’ll squeeze back into them, but it’s time to accept the fact that they’ll probably never be worn again. Go through your wardrobe and get rid of anything that doesn’t fit or that you haven’t worn in the last twelve months.

Unused kitchen appliances

Remember back when you bought that toastie maker? You were so excited to try it out but then used it three times and relegated it to the depths of the kitchen cupboards. It’s unlikely that you’ll use it again so donate it to a better home. While you’re there you can probably ditch the ice cream maker and the waffle iron too…

Plastic bags

You never know when they might come in handy so you store them in the cupboard and suddenly you have thousands. Ditch them and replace with a cotton tote bag. Much better for the environment!

7 Genius DIY Hacks for Your Home

Handmade house in a wood background

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

Washi tape picture frames

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

Untangled cables

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

Dry erase boards

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

Wine crate coffee tables

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

Magnetic strips for hair clips

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

Shoe box dividers

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

Pegboards

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

8 Garden Essentials for Summer

Gardening tools and flowers

Whether you’re hosting a family BBQ, soaking up the rays on a Sunday afternoon or enjoying a glass of crisp, cold wine in the evening, nothing beats time spent in the garden over summer. Now that spring is just around the corner it’s time to get yours looking ready for the warmer months and your garden will be the envy of the neighbourhood with our eight essentials.

Copper Plant Markers

Copper is all the rage in the interiors world at the moment, but it doesn’t just have to extend to your living room. Keep your blooms neatly labelled and add a touch of sparkle to your flower beds. The grease pen that comes with the kits makes labelling and relabelling a breeze.

Wooden Garden Tools

You won’t get very far in the garden without some garden tools, but you don’t have to stick to the boring plastic green shades. Wood designs give your tools a chic feel and are an ideal gift for any gardening enthusiast.

Watering Can

A true symbol of Britain, the classic watering can is a must in any garden. Keep your seedlings well-nourished and do it in style with a beautiful galvanised steel design. Not does it look stylish, it’s also rust-resistant in case you forget to bring it in after use. Just don’t forget to empty it after watering.

Mason Jar Herb Garden

You don’t have to be green-fingered to add a touch of life to your garden. Perfect for those who aren’t budding gardeners or who simply don’t have the luxury of a huge garden, these will not only give your windowsill a little something extra, they’re great for adding into new summer recipes too.

Outdoor Planters

If you’re short on time, planting perennials and greenery in your garden is a great way of making it look stylish with minimal effort. Best of all, there are a huge variety of planters out there that you can choose from so you can find the perfect one to suit your style.

Weeders

Okay so they might not be the most exciting or stylish addition to the garden, but they’re a must to keep it tidy and free from weeds that can be detrimental to the health of the other plants in your garden. Great for getting rid of pesky dandelions and crabgrass, the long and slender ends can get deep into the ground and pull weeds up from the root.

A hat

There are lots of stylish hats out there so you can look good while you garden, but a hat is important for much more than aesthetics. The skin on your scalp is very sensitive and prone to sunburn, so if you’re planning on spending an afternoon in the garden make sure you’re covered up to prevent burn and keep the risk of skin cancer at bay.

A BBQ

We couldn’t write this list without including an old favourite – the classic barbeque set! And since you’ve worked so hard in the garden, it seems only fair that someone else mans the BBQ so you can out your feet up and enjoy a nice cold drink.

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.

Our Top Ten Amazing Home Décor Tricks

For home interior decorating; I love my house

If you are looking for some simple but amazing tricks to make your home décor a little more stylish and a whole lot more unique, then you have come to the right place (or post).

Here are our favourite tricks, straight from the mouths of interior decorators. Why not give them a try and see what they can do to your home?

Add Custom Graphics to Your Furniture

Do you have light coloured furniture in the living room? Do you have a flair for the artistic? If you answered yes to both of these questions, you’ll love this trick.

All you need is a good permanent marker, a non-slip metal ruler, and a steady hand. Start off with some throw cushion covers first if you’re a bit worried about making mistakes.

Practise your patterns on some paper, and once you’ve found a design you’re happy with, you can go wild on the cushion covers. If you’re a little scared about going freehand, use that ruler to make some nice geometric patterns. Stripes and checks look great!

Open up Your Cabinets

If you have some free-standing cabinets in the home, you can easily glam them up. First of all, remove the doors from your cabinets, then get to painting the inside in some nice neutral shade.

Pin up a small piece of artwork at the back of the cabinet to use as a backdrop for your items. As for the items themselves, pick a theme and run with it – we like a nice, uncluttered collection of glassware, or a range of porcelain or similarly coloured earthenware.

Go for Space

Everyone knows that mirrors are a good way of making a room seem bigger. That much is common knowledge. But why not use this trick in a different way?

Hang a large, full length mirror on the wall. After you’ve done this, push a small table into the alcove until it is flush against the mirror. Lastly, go for broke with a focal piece – think a large bouquet of flowers or an impressive table lamp – this will add to the look.

Fake Some Built-In Cabinets

If you want to make it look like your room came with some fantastic built-in cabinets, there is a surprisingly easy way to do this.

All you need to do is to get the cabinets and tuck them into tight spaces like a corner or an alcove. Now all you have to do is to paint them so that they match the walls. Hey presto! – they look like they’ve always been there.

And there are a couple more things you can to if you want to make the illusion even more convincing. First off, get some trimboard from your local DIY store. You can add this to the cabinet doors so that they sync up perfectly with the architectural aesthetic of the walls.

Secondly, if you chose to go the dual cabinet route, consider doing something bold like mounting a desk to the wall between the two. This will make the whole thing cohesive, looking like a bit set-piece.

Great Ideas to Give Your Bedroom a Makeover

Bedroom in Contemporary Home

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

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

Create a Chic Boudoir

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

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

Go All Natural

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

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

Make a Focus Wall

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

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

Plump for Textures

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

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

Cold Month Colour – Plants to Give Your Garden a Splash of Colour in Winter

closeup photo of chaenomeles flowers

We are currently well into autumn months; we can see the leaves begin to fall from the trees. Soon, the winter months will be upon us, and most of the plants and flowers we have been able to admire during spring and summer are no longer with us.

But you needn’t worry – your garden doesn’t have to be a graveyard throughout the winter months. As long as you have a few wintering plants, you can make sure you’ll be accompanied by splashes of colour no matter what time of year it is.

Here’s a small selection of our favourite winter plants; take your pick and you can enjoy your garden all year round.

Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles)

Even if you are absolutely awful in the garden, killing nearly everything you touch, you’re sure to experience some success with the beautiful flowering quince. It’s almost indestructible, allowing it to survive in even the harshest of winters.

It’s a thorny shrub that can grow to 8 feet in width, which makes it the perfect candidate for use as natural fencing. Even better, it blossoms impressively in winter, giving your garden big swathes of red flowers.

Snowdrop (Galanthus elwesii)

One of the more famous winter flowers, the snowdrop even has the name to match. Snowdrops are among the first flowers to come into bloom in the dead of winter, adding a rather delicate touch to your frost-ridden garden.

They are, however, not the boldest of plants – make sure you plant them either under some taller shrubs or within the protection of a rock garden. Do this, and you’ll have a lovely little companion through those snowy months.

Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)

Another of the more appropriately named options, the winterberry adds a delightful touch of red to any winter garden. It is actually a deciduous relative of holly, meaning it loses its signature spiky leaves towards the end of autumn.

This doesn’t mean that it’s not still a looker, however – the lack of foliage simply means that the cherry-red berries are more prominently displayed. Make sure to get both male and female plants if you want those beautiful berries, though!

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis)

Witch hazel is a plant that just keeps on giving: it’s wonderfully fragrant throughout the warmer months, then bursts into bloom during the winter. This makes it the perfect addition, as it will be providing you with joy all through the year.

The flowers look a little like a child’s rendition of a sun – red and yellow with long “rays” stretching out from the head. They’re a beautiful thing to behold, but make sure you clear plenty of space in your garden, as the shrub can reach almost 15 feet in height, and nearly that in width.

Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger)

Plant the Christmas rose in springtime, and though you might have almost forgotten about it by winter, the long wait will definitely have been worth it.

A lovely thick stem supports an impressively large, white flower, which will keep you company right the way through winter and into the springtime. Give it a bit of shade and it will flourish.

How To Make Your Garden Wildlife-Friendly

Two rabbits bunny in the garden

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

Don’t Be A Neat Freak

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

Choose Pollinators

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

Build A Pond

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

Help The Birds

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

Wildlife Stacks And Insect Hotels

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

Hedgehog Love

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