Archive of ‘Home’ category
Exchanging contracts on your first property is the first step on the journey to buying your “forever home”.
When moving day has come and gone, you can immediately start adding value to your home – ready for when the time comes to move further along the path, towards your dream house.
That’s how most homeowners wish they would’ve started out. And it’s how the smart first time buyer approaches their journey today.
Here are three home improvements you should be saving for, that will add instant value and enjoyment to your new house.
1. Made to measure blinds
Well designed, made-to-measure blinds will instantly improve the appearance of your home – from both the inside and out.
It’s simple – but it works.
See, blinds are an elegant alternative to curtains and offer a number of practical benefits too:
- Improved privacy – your private business remains just that.
- Sound-proofing – less sound escapes from well fitted venetian blinds so you are less likely to disturb the neighbours.
- Temperature control – blinds allow you to easily control the amount of light and heat that comes through your windows.
- Improved energy efficiency – made to measure blinds prevent heat escaping, or cold drafts coming through your windows.
Because new blinds help to prevent heat loss in the winter, they also help reduce your energy bills. The money saved will help towards the next home improvement – solar panels.
2. Solar panels
Solar panels are quite expensive to buy outright, but the government offers attractive rebates to people using them in the form of Feed-in tariffs (FITs). FITs pay you for the electricity you generate, helping to offset the cost of the panels.
The electricity that your solar panels generate is yours to use as you need. Any electricity that is unused can be sold back into the National Grid, resulting in a lower utility bill.
The units cost around £7000 to buy and install, but experts believe that using solar panels to generate your own electricity will help cut household bills by around £750 a year.
Some households even claim that solar panels generate up to three-quarters of their annual electricity needs.
These savings created can then be put towards the next home improvement – a conservatory.
3. A conservatory or extension
A conservatory is a useful, all-purpose room that will give you more space to enjoy your new home.
There are plenty of designs available, ensuring you will be able to find a conservatory that fits in with the architectural style of your house. You could also consider fitting wooden venetian blinds from Thomas Sanderson to complete the look, or a downstairs extension as your family grows.
It may take a lot longer to save up to buy a conservatory, but the investment will be well worth it in the long run.
The additional living space provided by a conservatory or extension also adds value to your property. By increasing the value of your house, you will have more equity to put towards your next move up the property ladder.
There are two reasons to save up for home improvements – to turn your house into a home, and to add value to the property.
These three suggestions should, over time, help you to create a house that you love, that you can sell for a profit when you are ready.
Got any questions or any more suggestions to add to the list? Drop your thoughts in a comment below.
Most people reach a point in their lives where they face a dilemma; move house, or create more space in their home for a growing family. Sometimes they are so happy in the area that they live, relocation is out of the question.
If you find yourself in that situation, there are several home improvements that will give you a little more elbow room. Here are my personal favourites.
A Two Story Extension
If you have the finances and mental strength to undergo a significant alteration to your home, a two-story extension might be the answer. It takes a long time to finish the extension. You will need the services of a reputable architect to get it underway. They will draw some detailed plans to your specifications and submit them to the planning office. When the planning committee convenes, they will study the plans to ensure that they meet with the local regulations. They may decide to contact your neighbours to see if they have any objection to the project before making a decision. Some blueprints are rejected in the early stages so the designer must make changes and re-submit them.
Only when you have planning permission can you proceed with the extension. The building inspector will visit the site at stages of the construction. He will inspect the work and make sure it complies with building regulations.
You feel as if your home has been invaded for three months or more before your alterations are complete. Expect to come to tears during the process; most people do. If the thought of such a project hasn’t made you run to the estate agents in Chadwell Heath in the search for a new home, nothing will. The extension is the most expensive, and intrusive, project.
The loft has a huge floor area suitable for several extra bedrooms. The engineers will tell you, but you often do not need planning permission for a loft conversion. It will cost much less than an extension to build, and take less time. That is why loft conversions are so desirable. If you live in and old property, the roof may not have to be altered, but in modern homes the trusses get in the way. Even if you must replace the roof, the potential space up there makes it worthwhile.
If you have the bedrooms that you need but need more space for lounging about, a cheap and cheerful conservatory might solve your problem. Well, they are cheap in comparison to the other ideas. If it stays within the floor area limits it does not need planning permission. For much less than ten thousand pounds, this extra room could be yours within a couple of weeks.
Instead of building an extension, would you consider converting your garage into a habitable room? Many people do because it is such an easy project. You must make changes to the lighting and power in there and remove the garage door in favor of a patio door or window. Make the walls good with plaster and fit skirting boards. You could do it yourself if you have a flair for building and carpentry, in only a few weeks.
Those are my recommendations for those who need more space. Do you agree with me or do you have a few ideas of your own? Good luck with your home improvements!
City or town life isn’t to everyone’s taste. We are often forced to live close to where we work because of the high cost of the daily commute. Sometimes, however, an opportunity arises where we may get a chance to move to a home in the country with our family.
If you had a golden opportunity to get away and live in the countryside, would you take it? If you are undecided, read on. You will find here, some of the advantages of country life that you may not have considered before. I hope you will see that it is a wise move.
Visit an estate agents in Barkingside, and you will see that some country residences are going for a bargain price compared to a comparable home in the city. You will be able to get a house with acres of land for the same price as a small flat in London, for example. If your family has taken up all of the space in your existing home, think what the country has to offer.
How can living in a big town or city be good for you when traffic is polluting the air constantly. If you were to breath all of the gasses from the exhaust pipe of a car, you would be dead in less than a minute. So the emissions from thousands of cars that pass you in a day must affect your health. It is a fact that childhood asthma rates are rising, and pollution probably has much to do with it. Can you imagine the effect clean air will have on you every day of your life? The kids will probably be more active than before, and you may have fewer headaches.
The children will get much more exercise in the country too. There is a huge area to explore out there, and they will have great fun doing it. Instead of watching television they will be able to spend their days running and walking; a compelling argument.
You and your family will be closer to nature and see things you never knew existed. There are lots of animals living out there that you will never get to see in town. If you live near a river, you will probably see an otter some time, as well as an abundance of fish. Squirrels abound, and hedgehogs will visit your garden every night.
Many people who head to the wilds automatically become a little more self-sufficient. Growing your own food is easy when you have plenty of land. Your first crop could supply all of the vegetables you need for next year if you learn how to blanch and freeze them. Because there are no immediate neighbours, you could keep chickens without disturbing other people. Protect them well because there will be a fox about that will kill them all if it can. Many people keep one or two pigs. Those who choose not to name them can fill their freezer with pork after a year or so.
Are you convinced? I haven’t mentioned the dark sky or the peace and quiet out there. The downsides are too few to mention, so move when you can, and live a better life. I hope I can one day. Well, we can all dream.
Okay, so, the chances of anyone becoming the next Jimi Hendrix are slim to none, right? Even so, that doesn’t mean you can’t assist your child in becoming an axe wielding maniac of the musical kind. Not only does playing the guitar give kids something to keep them out of trouble, but it’s very good for their personal development and mental health too. While you might not realise it yet, music can have a significant impact on mood, and playing it yourself increased this impact tenfold. How do I know this? I’ve been playing the guitar for more than fifteen years now, and I still send myself into a meditative trance when I sit down with the instrument.
With all that in mind, I’m going to take a few moments out of my schedule this morning to explain how you should go about this endeavor. A lot of parents think that professional lessons are the way forward, but from my own experiences, I can tell you with all certainty that lessons are not the right way to go. If you want your son to become interested in the guitar, he needs to learn what he wants, when he wants. Tying him down to some kind of syllabus is never going to work.
Buy him a good guitar
I understand the reasons why some parents opt to get their son a cheap guitar at first, but that isn’t going to inspire him very much. For that reason, you should check out websites that list Rickenbacker, Fender, Gibson and Ibanez guitars for sale. While they might set you back a few hundred dollars, having a quality instrument is important if you want him to progress quickly and remain interested.
Play quality guitar music constantly
You son needs a burning desire inside of him for the guitar, and he’ll only get this when he fully appreciates what it can do. So, heading down to your local music shop or downloading some of the best albums from the internet is a good idea. You should look towards Eric Clapton, BB King, AC DC, Slade, Pink Floyd and any others you deem to be appropriate. Listen to them in the car on the way to school, provide him with a personal music player loaded with tracks for break times and start attending live music gigs together.
Help him start a band
No matter where your son goes to school, there will be at least one person with the skills needed to keep a beat on the drums, and so you should encourage your son to link up with him. Also, it can be difficult for kids to get gigs at music venues, so acting as their manager and helping them out with this is wise. Playing live is often what encourages musicians to continue with their trade. Each gig will provide him with a huge adrenaline rush he won’t ignore.
So long as you do all this, the chances of your son becoming a rock god will be vastly increased. Good luck with everything, and hopefully I’ll see him on the TV ripping licks like nobody’s business very soon!
Young children love camping, so make the most of it before they reach the teenage years. When they reach that age they lose all interest in the great outdoors and look, instead, to theme parks, amusement arcades, and anything else that costs a lot of money.
photo by studio ties
We find it hard to understand why they lose their enthusiasm for camping because we have forgotten how it feels to be that age. After all, being a teenager is all about looking fashionable and trying to attract a member of the opposite sex. Their best designer gear isn’t suited to muddy farmers fields or rugged countryside.
Younger children, on the other hand, can’t wait to get away from it all and rough it in the wilderness. They will help you prepare the caravan or motorhome and rush you on the day of departure. The journey is a fascinating one because they are very excited, and it isn’t long before you hear those dreaded words, “are we nearly there yet?”.
They are just a happy as you when you acquire your first touring vehicle from the Caravan & Camper Megastore because it opens up a summer of possibilities.
Try and remember what you enjoyed as a child and see if you can relate it to your kids today. Here are a few things they enjoy about camping.
- Adventure. They love to explore, so all of the new destinations you visit when touring offer them a different playground at every stop.
- Freedom. If you live in a busy town, you often cannot let your children play anywhere except in your garden. Imagine the delight they feel when they are allowed to roam, within reason, unaccompanied in the great outdoors.
- Sport. Many campsites are close to rivers; something your children may not experience very often, where they can spend the day fishing or paddling in the shallows; bliss. Never leave them alone near water.
- Fire. The campfire is one place where we allow our children to get close to the flames, and they are fascinated by them. Roasting marshmallows is a time-honoured tradition, so the kids eat lots of them.
- Nature. Camping puts them in the heart of the natural world where there is much to see. Whether they come across wild animals or those on a farm, kids enjoy seeing them.
- Family. Holidays of every variety are fantastic for bringing the family together for a week or two without the pressure of work. Camping is no different and young children are delighted to spend time doing exciting things with their parents.
- Seaside. There are many sites close to the sea, so they can step out of the tent or motorhome and be splashing about or building sandcastles in minutes. At night, they can hear the sound of the waves breaking and fog horns in the distance, reminding them of the adventures tomorrow has in store.
Well, I hope I have encouraged you to go camping while the kids are young. I am going to start packing now too. There is no time to waste. Happy trails!
A nursery is probably one of the most exciting rooms to decorate. You’re going to have a baby in the house soon, and decorating the nursery just makes it all seem that bit more ‘real’. Sometimes you can even make a nursery for a toddler, to help them learn and play in their own exciting space! The smallest room is usually best for nurseries; the spare room. In this post, you’ll get some helpful tips as well as some cool inspiration to get you started!
Photo Author: Flickr
Planning the Nursery
First of all, you need to plan what you’re going to do. You can’t just make it up as you go along! What’s already in the room you’re going to decorate for your child? Can you reuse them in the nursery, or will you need to move them to another room? You’ll need to consider how much space you have, and the budget you have too. You may need to consider home improvement loans if you have lots of renovations to make.
Selecting a Colour Scheme
What kind of colour scheme do you envision for your child? It doesn’t have to be blue for a boy and pink for a girl; you can think outside of the box and do whatever you like. Green and yellow are popular shades that work well for either sex. A light tone will give a lovely peaceful atmosphere, so whatever colours you choose try to keep them light. Research how colours change moods in order to select the best colours for your child.
Now you’ve decided on your colour scheme, you can either choose your paint or buy wallpaper. There are loads of different wallpaper designs that are ideal for nurseries and kids bedrooms, but you can use stencils and wall stickers to customise the walls yourself if you like! Kids love looking at stars, teddy bears, clouds, moons, and flowers. Why not paint a popular cartoon character to make the wall even more unique?
Now you can move on to furniture you’d like in your baby’s room. You’ll need a crib/bed, a nappy changer, small wardrobe, and perhaps a toy box. Shelves might be useful too. You may already have furniture you can use for this; simply brighten it up with a lick of paint if you need to!
Look for carpets, bed linen, cushions, and curtains at this point too. Always keep your colour scheme in mind for the best effect!
Shades and dimmers are your best bet for the nursery, as you don’t need anything too big or fussy. The baby needs a relaxing atmosphere in their nursery in order for them to get a good nights rest.
Now you can add the finishing touches to a room; teddies, frames, toys, and other things that can help to create a nicer atmosphere.
There are so many things you can try in order to make your baby’s nursery beautiful and unique:
- Make your own prints for the nursery using a wooden block, string, and paint. Simply tie the wooden block with the string and secure it in place with tape. Now you can brush paint onto the string, and practice stamping this onto paper. Once you’ve made a pattern you like, you can turn the block different ways to create something cool and intricate looking. By experimenting with different patterns, colours, and block shapes, you’ll come up with a work of art. A toddler could help with this project too!
- This project works for butterfly shapes, stars, and flowers. All you need is some acrylic paint, a blank canvas, watercolour paper, watercolour paint, butterfly shaped (or whatever shape you like) paper punch, and pop dots or another type of glue. Paint the canvas a colour of your choice, and then paint the paper with patches of different colours. Leave this to dry, and then stamp out the butterflies from the paper. If you bend these slightly in the middle before gluing, you can make them look 3D on the canvas!
- If the spare room doesn’t have much natural light, then you can always create the feeling of natural light by using a high resolution camera to take a picture of the beautiful blue sky. Blow the photo up, print it on shiny paper, and frame it!
- You can create a modern looking nursery without it looking too grown up. Try shades of pastel pink and grey, with triangle patterns on the wall. If you’re good at origami, why not create an origami rabbit head or two to back with card and hang on the wall as a cute looking ‘trophy’.
- A black and white room really lets gorgeous patterns pop and come alive!
- Go for a classic looking room with shades of cream/white and a few gold accents. Dark wood furniture will give this room a great look.
- Thick yellow and white horizontal stripes look amazing on a nursery wall, especially when paired with large stuffed animals and furry rug for interest.
- Instead of coming up with a simple colour scheme for the nursery, why not come up with a theme? An Alice in Wonderland nursery would look simply magical and could even spark an early interest in your child in books and stories. It doesn’t have to be crazy and colourful either; a neutral room with drawings of Alice and the White rabbit on the walls would work.
- Wall art can look amazing, so why not have your baby’s name on the wall just above their crib? You can use all kinds of things to create this yourself, including colourful tissue paper to make a cool floral affect. They may even be able to write their name before the other kids in their class due to seeing it regularly!
- Different shaped/coloured photo frames can look amazing when all arranged together on a wall. They can have any pictures you like in them too, from photos of loved ones to hand drawn pictures.
What do you think of these ideas for your baby’s nursery? Be sure to leave a comment!
With video games being so popular nowadays, it can seem like books and reading are a thing of the past, as they fail to compete with the thrills that come with modern-day gaming. In spite of this, there are still some books out there; that have the capacity to capture the imagination of your children, and leave them spellbound, forgetting that they ever had a gaming console in the first place. Of course, the only challenge that remains is finding these books. So what can be done, in order to find these remarkable reads?
Ask Other Parents
Often at times the best source available, other parents will be able to guide you in the right direction when it comes to finding awesome books. There is a chance that they too have faced the same dilemma you’re facing right now, in terms of finding a good book for their kids. If they’ve successfully dealt with this challenge, you can learn from them, and get the titles of the books that they discovered. Of course, keep in mind that each child is different, and so what entertained their kids might not entertain yours.
Check Out Bestseller Lists
Books on the bestseller lists are there for a reason. They’re often amazing books to read, and have the sales figures to back this up. By picking from the books on these lists, you’ll be able to increase your chances of success. However, keep in mind that though these books for children are entertaining, each of them caters to a certain demographic. Even if books about vampire romance are selling in huge amounts, there is a possibility that this is the last thing a ten year old boy wants to read about.
By using review websites, you’ll be able to get a better understanding of whether or not the book you’re going to purchase is any good. Many review websites will point out whether or not the book was entertaining, and if it kept them wanting to read more. Review websites should be taken with a pinch of salt, as there is no telling if the person who wrote the review enjoys the same kind of literature as your children. If you find a book with a bad review, but think it is a book that your children would love, it might help just to see what your kids think of it, and get it for them.
A New Favourite Hobby?
Reading can be something fun for your children, once you find the right book for them. Of course, finding the right book can be a quest that has many hurdles along the way, and can prove challenging to those who are doing things for the first time. Nevertheless, by keeping a close eye on the bestseller lists, and asking other parents, you’ll be sure to find an amazing book in record time. In fact, it could be the case that the book you find is so amazing, that you choose to read it before you give it to your kids!
Congratulations. If you are reading this, you are probably an expectant mother or father. Today I would like to offer some advice concerning the design of a new nursery for the little bundle of joy that is on his or her way. Don’t leave it until later to sort out, the next few months will fly by and the last thing you need in the later stages is to worry about decorating a room. If everything else is in place, it is easier to concentrate on the important things instead.
A nursery is unlike other bedrooms in the home. The decor is not an issue for the baby; it is more to give pleasant surroundings for the parents. The room must be a practical place to work as well as a relaxing place to rest. Here are five incredible design ideas for your nursery.
It is very important to decorate the nursery to a high standard because the chances are that there will be plenty of visitors dropping by who will go in and introduce themselves to the new addition to the family. The quality is compromised by attempting to decorate over bumpy walls. Remove all of the old wallpaper and if you are unable to make the walls perfectly smooth, hire a plasterer to skim them over with a topcoat to give a perfect blank canvas for you to work on. The job takes about a day for a small to medium sized room and the transformation of the walls makes it worthwhile.
It is best to keep the decor simple in a nursery. Don’t do anything there that will be a shock to the senses in the middle of the night. Have one feature wall with some attractive modern wallpaper as in the image and paint the remaining walls with emulsion paint that is applied with a roller for the best finish. A feature wall is a great place to introduce a wallpaper mural. There are hundreds of designs available online so finding one for suitable for a nursery will be easy.
In the middle of the night, a parent need to be warm and comfortable so there is no better product than carpet for the nursery. Ultra modern room make use of laminate in the magazines but for comfort and practicality it isn’t suitable here.
To go along with a modern theme, consider using blinds at the windows. They help to keep the room light and airy by opening up the space around the windows. The latest thing is panel blinds from Super Blinds Mart and other places online. They are similar to vertical blinds, but they have overlapping panels to keep the light out better. Of course, there are plenty of traditional alternatives such as venetian blinds, wooden shutters, pleated blinds, and roller blinds, that are all suitable for use in the nursery.
Remember when laying out the room that you will need to access both sides of the cot so do not place it against a wall if possible. A comfy chair is the second most important feature in the room where mom or dad will sit to feed the little monster in the middle of the night. There are storage units made especially for nurseries that comprise a cupboard and plenty of drawers for convenience. A proper wardrobe is not suitable until the little one has grown.
As you can see, the nursery needs to be tackled from a different angle to normal bedrooms. It is one of the most enjoyable projects to complete in the home, and one of the most exciting too.
Image by Mazzali
We are expected to provide more for our children today than at any time in the past. That is a good thing because, though it may put a strain on our finances, parents always strive to give their children things that they never had themselves. The range of furnishings and technology available to us is vast and often comes at a fair price, so we are spoiled for choice when thinking of fantastic ideas for creating a dream bedroom.
If you are thinking of renovating your child’s bedroom, you will find some cool ideas here for things to include in it. Some may say that this is spoiling the child, but they are only young once. Give them what you would have loved to own at that age and let them make the most of being a kid. There is plenty of time for being grown up later.
Modern Is The Word
Stop thinking of a room that you would like to own because your ideas are probably dated. Think instead of the most modern rooms found in magazines and on the internet. It is difficult to replicate this contemporary look unless you know a few of the secrets most of the designers use. Here are some basic elements to modern decor.
- Walls. The walls of the room are best kept plain. If you wish to include wallpaper, then cover only one wall. There are some great vistas available with modern mural wallpaper. Imagine a cityscape, or an alien planet. The plain walls will be covered in posters over time, but that is their choice.
- Flooring. You will not that modern rooms use laminate or real wood flooring. It is hard wearing and easy to clean; perfect for a teenagers room. It is easy to install since the manufacturers invented the click system that has done away with the need for glue.
- Windows. Kids prefer to have modern window blinds rather than old fashioned curtains. Vertical, roller, or venetian blinds work well in bedrooms.
Since the room will probably be used for entertaining friends as well as sleeping, give them somewhere to sit. Modern sofa beds from Multiyork are perfect for this job. They are far removed from the sofa beds of old. Now they come in modern designs with removable covers as an option. They are simple to open up and use at night and allow better use of the space available in the day. Kids love these items.
If your child isn’t ‘connected’, they will be at a disadvantage socially. Yes, we all hate the way they spend all of their time staring at their phones rather than taking notice of people around them, but it is the way of the future, and we must embrace it. Many people take a stand and banish technology in favour of a better quality of life. Banning it rarely works, since these people are holding onto a past that no longer exists. The world is a different place now. Provide internet access in the bedroom with a PC or laptop computer. If these are connected to a television, the kids have a world of entertainment right at their fingertips.
With all of this in place, your child will be happy, and their friends will think you are the coolest parents around. It is likely to cost a lot of money, but it is worth it. I wonder what ‘things I never had’ they will provide for their children? The mind boggles.
Every parent will inevitably have to deal with their offspring’s request to learn to drive and their wishes to pass their driving tests. It is not a subject that some parents like to deal with, especially those that are overly protective of their children!
But as they approach 17, they will doubtless be thinking about the freedom having their own car will bring them, as well as the number of opportunities that will be open to them. For example, employers are far more likely to take on youngsters at their companies if they have full, clean driving licences.
If your son or daughter has decided that they want to start learning to drive, here are a few hints and tips to help make your journey (excuse the pun) a more bearable one!
Get your child to apply for a driving licence
The first thing that anyone needs to do being taught how to drive on public roads is to apply for a provisional licence. As long as your child is at least 15 ¾ years old, they will be able to apply.
However, the only caveat is that they can’t get behind the wheel of a car until their 17th birthday, so it’s probably easier just to wait until then before applying for a provisional licence.
Find an approved driving instructor
Assuming that your son or daughter is at least 17 years of age, it is now time to find them an approved driving instructor.
Just like how those learning to drive need to pass tests, approved driving instructors have to pass a rigorous set of tests in order for them to be qualified for teaching others how to drive.
Alternatively, you could teach them how to drive yourself, as long as you are over 21, hold a full driving licence for the vehicle they want to learn in, and both you and your offspring are insured to drive your car.
I would recommend getting a qualified approved driving instructor to teach your child how to drive, as they won’t pick up any of your bad habits nor are you likely to “fall out” with each other.
Take the theory test
Once your offspring has had some experience on the road and has done a lot of studying (for example, reading the Highway Code), it is time to put them forward for their theory test!
Their driving instructor will be the best judge of determining when your son or daughter is ready to take their theory test, but if the instructor tells you that they are now ready to be put forward, don’t hesitate to book theory test today!
Take the practical test
Assuming that your child has passed their theory test with flying colours and their instructor feels that they have enough experience on the road to tackle the practical test, it will then be time to put them forward in it!
If your son or daughter is comfortable driving their instructor’s car, they will normally be able to take their practical test in it rather than in someone else’s car.