Monthly Archives: May 2016

Make Your Kitchen Homely And Practical With These Handy Tips

Kitchens are one of the most-used rooms in a home. We can spend hours in their cooking. And if you have your dining table in your kitchen, you will spend even more time in there! They are great places to socialise during parties and also become a hub of activity during dinner parties. So it is very important that your kitchen is both homely and practical. So how do you combine these two sides? Here are some helpful tips to getting it right.

White Kitchen Cabinet

Use Stylish Materials

It is very important that your kitchen is hygienic so that it is the perfect environment for preparing food. Because of the importance of a clean kitchen, it can be very easy to design a very sterile kitchen. This isn’t too great for its homeliness! One of the best ways to get the best of both worlds is to use stylish materials such as granite and marble. Granite Worktops are easy to clean and will also look very chic.

Add Personal Touches

If your kitchen is quite cold, you can add personal touches to it to help brighten it up and also add your personality to its decor. This can be very easy to do. One of the quickest personal touches is sticking your young children’s art onto your refrigerator door. You can also add some family photos and postcards. If you have any other trinkets from trips abroad or that are related to your hobbies, try to incorporate them into your decor.

Green and Orange Vegetables on Black Frying Pan

Incorporate Features Of The House

This only really applies if you live in a very old home. One exciting way to revamp your kitchen can be to strip out all the current appliances and fittings. Then you can expose all of the property’s original features. Strip away the ceiling to expose any original wooden beams. You can also strip off any plaster from the walls to expose the brickwork. This will look very stylish in old farm houses and cosy cottages.

Add Comfy Furniture

If you have enough space, add some comfy furniture to your kitchen. You shouldn’t just have a dining table and chairs as the only place to sit at. If you bring in some more armchairs, you can create a comfortable sitting area. By creating this seating area, you are giving yourself more reason to spend time in your kitchen and enjoy its surroundings. To really ramp up the comfort factor, bring in some coffee tables and foot stools as well. One of the benefits of relaxing in your kitchen means you won’t need to go far to make a cup of tea!

kitchen, stove, oven

Dim The Lights

Add dimmer lights so you can alter your lighting depending on what you are doing. If you are preparing a meal, turn them up bright so you can see exactly what you are doing. If you are hosting a dinner party, dim them to create an intimate ambiance.

So there you have it – a homely and practical kitchen that your whole family will love!


3 Things To Bear In Mind When Buying A Home

Water flows from the tap to sink

It is one of those rites of passage which most people go through at some point: buying a home. Buying a house can be an exciting time in your life – particularly when it is your first home. However, first home or fiftieth, there are some key things that you should always bear in mind. As well as being exciting, it is also a process which can be long and drawn out. In some cases, it might feel that it has gone on forever. In these circumstances, it is important to keep focused on the end-goal. At the end of the day, you will end up with a beautiful new home. And there are few greater feelings in the world than that. If you are currently in the middle of this process, then this post may be of some help. Here are the top things to consider when you are buying a new home.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

It is a tough and sometimes tedious process buying a house, so it is understandable if you seek out help. This is exactly why estate agents and the likes of Redbrick Property Services exist. At the end of the day, you can do plenty of research and put many hours into the project, but you can’t do it all alone. Even if you feel that you can, there will probably come something which you need help with. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. In fact, it is advisable to ask for help from the outset. There is no need to create more stress than necessary, after all. With a helping hand, you can then spend less time stressing and more time planning for your new property.

Remember Where The Value Is

When you are out and about looking at homes, one of the main things to think about its value. At the end of the day, value is subjective, so you might disagree with a valuation. It is a good idea to get as clued up as possible about what adds value to a house, and what removes it. That way, when you are looking at properties, you can make your own guesstimates. This takes some of the power away from the valuers and back to you. Remember that the kitchen is the one room that really matters when it comes to determining value, followed closely by the bathrooms. If there are any extensions, this is likely to add a significant amount to the property. Bear all these points in mind and you should feel more prepared.

Location Is Key

It is an old saying which has almost become cliche that location is the main ingredient in buying a house. However, like many cliches, it is actually true. When you are looking at properties, remember how important location is. There are a couple of sides to this. On the one hand, it is important on a personal level. Do you know the location well? If not, have you researched it? It is not very advisable to move into an area you know nothing about – regardless of the state of the property. The other side of it is that location has a huge effect on both likeability and value. Do yourself a favour and research the local area. Get to know it before you make any rash decisions one way or the other.

Easy Ways to Make Your Home Look More Expensive

Everyone wants their home to look beautiful, and perhaps like it’s worth more than it is. Most of us won’t be able to afford a manor house anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean we can’t care for the property we’ve got. Even if you love your home, and you’re proud that you own it, you still might want to make some upgrades. You can make your home look more expensive, even if it isn’t. There are changes you can make to the inside and outside of your property to give it more of an air of class and luxury. It doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money to make a difference. You could use your savings to make a change now and then, or take out a home improvement loan.

Lighting, Light Fixtures, Ceilings Etc, Lights

New Fixtures

One of the quickest ways to improve the look of your home is to update outdated fixtures. Your lights are one of the things you can focus on. Old light fixtures can make a room look neglected, even if you have made an attempt to decorate everywhere else. If you have a lighting fixture that’s bringing everything down, it’s time to get rid of it. There are so many different lights you can have in your home. You can use anything from simple spotlight LEDs to extravagant chandelier-style lights. Change the fixtures in one room at a time if you want to spread the cost.

Make Use of Neutrals

If you look at expensive homes, you will see that many of them use lots of neutral colours. There are a few reasons for this, including that neutral shades aren’t going to fall out of fashion. If you go for some bolder colours, you could be bored with them, or they might look out of date in a couple of years. Neutral hues will stand the test of time and give you a good background for adding in accent colours. It’s a good idea to use them for walls and floors, at least, so that it’s easy to keep them in good condition.

Replace Your Doors

Is your front door a cheap-looking PVC monstrosity? What about your interior doors? You might not notice how much your home’s doors can make a difference to the property. They affect how it looks both inside and out. Getting new ones could give your home a complete overhaul. You can shop for new doors online, at places like George Hill timber merchants. Or if you want to see some doors in person, you could find a showroom where you can look at the up close. Think about the colour and the hardware on your new doors. Inside, you might want to use neutral colours. But perhaps you want something more colourful for your front door.

File:White kitchen with dark blue tiling.jpg

Use Tile in Key Areas

Tiles can make any area of your home look more sophisticated, and they don’t have to cost that much. Before you buy any tiles, you have to be familiar with what you can use where. Some tiles are only suitable for using on walls and aren’t durable enough for floors. You need to consider how much foot traffic you have going over floors you want to tile. You could also use tile to put a backsplash in your kitchen, which you can do yourself if you’re feeling brave enough.

Match Your Hardware

If you have mismatched accessories in your bathroom or kitchen, consider replacing them. You can choose a style or theme you like and match them up instead. For example, replace the taps and towel rail in your bathroom, so they complement each other. Don’t just concentrate on the permanent fittings, either. You can also get other accessories that match your hardware, from soap dishes to toothbrush holders.

Grow Your Garden

If you want to improve the outside of your home too, there’s no better place to start than the front garden. If you don’t have a garden at the front of your home, you might have a small path or other space. You can immediately make your property look like it’s more expensive by upgrading this area. You can’t go wrong with adding some plants, either in pots or planted in a space you have available. Of course, make sure that you keep everything well-maintained. Your garden will say that you make the effort to keep it looking beautiful. If you’re not much of a gardener, you can buy plants that don’t need much care.

It doesn’t take much to make your home look more expensive. A few affordable touches could give it a sophisticated appearance.

How To Plan A Dinner Party To Celebrate Your Engagement

Once you’ve announced your engagement, it’s time to celebrate. And what better way to do that than with a vibrant dinner party for the two families to enjoy together. This may be one of the first times your parents have met your partner’s parents. Perhaps you can invite siblings and their partners over too. A dinner party gives you all a chance to get to know each other better.

As well as a chance to pick up some helpful tips for planning the wedding, you may be entertaining your future family for the first time. Preparing your home for such an important meal can take time, so it might be best to start a day early. The dining room may be seating more people than usual, so dust off the spare chairs. If your table extends, now is the time to open it up. If there still isn’t quite enough space, consider adding a small table on the end. You can usually find good tablecloths in larger sizes to help make the tables look like one.

Dressing the table is really important if you want your meal to look elegant. Consider a vibrant colour for your table runner to add interest to the surface. You might choose attractive table mats as place settings. Consider using some along the runner if you’re bringing hot dishes to the table. Each place setting should have the correct cutlery set up. This may include your dessert spoons and starter forks.

If you prefer to seat people in a particular way, why not create some place setting cards? This will help people find their seat more easily, and you can then manage the seating arrangements. A candelabra or vase of flowers can help bring a sense of formality and occasion to the table. Finally, fold your cloth and linen napkins to help dress the table in a stylish way.

Choosing your wine and other beverages doesn’t need to be too tricky. Once you’ve decided on the menu, you can pick reds and whites accordingly. Usually, the label on the bottle will help you find the right drop to accompany each dish. Generally speaking, Chardonnay goes beautifully with chicken breasts. A Burgundy will accompany a beef dish such as Bourguignon very well. There are many more options in both red and white wines to suit all tastes.

Desserts at a dinner party should be elegant and indulgent. Tiramisus and cheesecakes are often good choices. A cheeseboard with crackers is often very popular after a meal. It can be served just before the coffees if you prefer. With a larger party, it could be a good idea to serve two platters or boards so there is one at each end of the table. Side salads could also be served this way.

Dressing for such an important event is lots of fun. You can pick your favourite evening outfit. Be sure to wear shoes too! If you’re hoping to deliver an elegant event, why not spoil yourself with an appointment at the hairdresser? A big family dinner party can be one of the best ways to celebrate the coming together of two families. Bon Appetite.

Why You Should Book A Trip To France Right Now

There’s no wonder why us Brits love heading to France. It’s super close – just over the Channel in fact – and is still a relatively cheap place to travel to. Even though it’s so popular, many of us still only travel to the main tourist hotspots, like Paris. However, there is so much more to France than its capital city. Interested to find out more about this fabulous country? Here are some reasons why you should book a trip to France right now.

Delicious Food

France is known as a country of foodies. So make sure you are travelling on an empty stomach and are ready to try lots of local delicacies! You will find tasty croissants and baguettes all across the country. But there are some regional specialities that you need to make room for as well. The city of Lyon is known for its simple dishes that use fresh, local ingredients. One of the best dishes to try in Lyon is Cochonaille, which is a meal made up of a selection of pork products. If you want to try French seafood, head to Marseille. The coastal town has a fabulous reputation for its fresh fish and seafood!

Amazing Culture

There are so many galleries and museums in France! Nice is famous for its Matisse Museum, which is dedicated to the memory of Henri Matisse. The exhibitions display many of the artist’s notable works and some of his personal items. While you are in Nice, don’t forget to visit its excellent contemporary art museum, the MAMAC. Each city and large town has a wealth of culture to discover; no matter where you end up, you’ll find some awesome galleries and museums!

Great Beaches

France is the perfect beach holiday destination. You’ll find lots of popular resorts on Cote d’Azur. This large coastal destination is part of the Mediterranean, so you can expect to have lots of good weather while you are there. It’s a great spot for families as kids can entertain themselves by playing on the beach and paddling in the sea. The surrounding countryside is also a favourite destination for hikers and cyclists, and will look fab in your holiday snaps!

Festivals and Events

The country has a packed calendar of annual events, many of which attract crowds of tourists. One of France’s most popular festivals is the Cannes Film Festival,which takes place every year in early summer. When the festival is on, many famous Hollywood actors and directors descend on the coastal town. Another popular festival, the Nice Carnival takes place in the middle of February. Thousands of dancers and performers take over the city with street parties and parades. Many locals and tourists join in with the festivities, usually in fancy dress.

This list should have given you plenty of reasons to book a trip to France. And not one of them mentions Paris! If you head away from the capital city, you’ll see so much more of this cultural country. And not going to Paris gives you an excuse to hit the beach!

Here’s How You Can Save For A House Deposit

house, appartement, corner

We all want to get our foot firmly on the property ladder. However, these days it isn’t quite so easy and most properties require a hefty deposit. But don’t be disheartened, saving up for one isn’t quite as impossible as you may think. Desperate to buy your first home? Here’s how you can save for a house deposit.

Invest Your Money

There is no point just keeping your cash in a current account. These types of accounts don’t get that much interest added onto them. So it is a better idea to invest your money in high-interest investments. Things like stocks and shares can help you increase your money quickly. However, they can be fairly risky at times. For a low-risk investment, place your savings in a high-interest bank account. As this will give you higher returns than a current account.

Downsize While Your Rent

If you are currently renting a house or apartment, consider looking for a smaller place. Do you really need a three-bedroom flat while there are just two of you? After all, you will be paying a lot of rent for that spare bedroom. That’s extra cash that could be put towards your deposit. If possible, it is a good idea to look at the market’s current best rental apartments to see if you can get somewhere smaller for a good price.

Help-To-Buy Schemes

The government has set up a couple of help-to-buy schemes over the past couple of years. The schemes are in place to help first-time buyers buy a new-build home. You will need a smaller deposit than if you were buying a home without one of the schemes. There are also a couple of schemes that help buyers get their first mortgage. Have a look online if you think you may be eligible for one of these schemes.

Budget Your Money

Sitting down at the beginning of each month to plan your money can help you make significant savings. Take a look at your regular incoming and outgoing money, and use these figures to see how much you have leftover each month. Each month, put a large part of this leftover money into a bank account to save for your deposit. If you are strict with yourself, you will be very surprised at how much you can save!

Save Your Money Wisely

You need to place your money in bank accounts that have a high-interest rate. This way, you will get a higher return on your money than if you had just left it in your standard current account. Visit your bank and ask them about the various accounts they have, and what their benefits are. It is also worth asking about ISAs as these often have much higher interest rates than all other bank accounts. Plus, you can save your money in an ISA tax-free.

Don’t be put off from saving for a deposit. It will take a long time and will require you to be disciplined with your money, but it will certainly be worth it in the end!

Outside Home Improvements Which Add Value!

One of the top things homeowners should consider when they make improvements to their home is how they can add value to the property. Making outside improvements can often add more value than you think. Here are some top things you should do to ensure your property sells for more.

Build a garage

A lot of buyers are looking for a garage to keep their vehicle in when they are looking for a new property. Not only is it good for keeping the vehicle safe so it doesn’t get stolen, but it also protects it when the weather is terrible. People also use it for storing old belongings or outdoor equipment. Therefore, you should look into building a garage if you have the space so that you can increase your property value. Talk to local companies who will be able to build one for you.

File:Maple Street South 111 garage, Bloomington West Side HD.jpg

Extend your driveway

If you want to add value to your property, you should consider extending your driveway so that more vehicles can fit on there. Houses with large driveways sell for a lot more than ones which don’t have any space for parking. There are many companies out there who specialise in driveways and patios and will be able to complete the task at hand quickly and safely. And by having a larger driveway, the property value will increase and you can reduce the cost of your car insurance by parking on there.

Tidy your front lawn

As we have talked previously, you should ensure that your front lawn is looking tidy if you want to increase the value of your home. Why not plant some flowers which will help it to look more attractive to potential buyers. Make sure you regularly mow it to keep it looking great. If you don’t have time, you might need to hire a gardener to do it for you.

Install a home security system

Another way to increase your property value is to buy a home security system to go on the outside of your property. It’s great as it will alert you if someone is trying to break into your home, and if you aren’t there, the neighbors will be informed something is going on. Therefore, it will deter thieves which makes it more attractive to potential buyers. As this article talks about, you are more likely to receive a higher offer as it creates a real sense of security with potential buyers meaning your house value will increase.

Sort your back garden

You should make sure you sort out your back garden as well when you are doing outdoor home improvements. As this feature explains, your back garden being landscaped well can add up to 28% on your home value. Make sure you tend to the lawn to make it look more attractive. You could get a gardener to come and take care of it if you don’t have the time.


Doing the following not only helps you increase the value but makes you happy to live there.


Buying A House? Don’t Forget The Survey

red, building, industry

There is a lot to arrange when you’re trying to buy a property. You will have to view a number of different properties to find the one that could be your dream home, and you will also have to sort out your finances.

However, there is one important part of buying a house that quite a few people forget. And that is getting a survey. Survey are there to help you make a decision when it comes to choosing a property. They will bring up any problems with the property’s structure. And also let you know if any major repairs will need doing on the building work in the near future. They are a great way of preventing any surprises cropping up once you move in!

If you are considering buying an old property, then a survey is especially worthwhile, particularly if the roof is thatched. They aren’t as necessary on new builds or modern homes, but it is still worth one having one done. Especially if the building has been empty for a long period of time before you move in.

There are four main types of surveys. Most buyers usually only get one carried out on a property, but you can choose to do more if you want to know as much as possible about the house.

A Condition Report

This survey will tell you about the overall condition of the house, without getting too bogged down in the particulars. It is a very basic survey that can give reassurance to those who aren’t too clued up on property. The results will be presented in a colour-coded way. Green means everything is ok with the house. An orange result raises some cause for concern. If the result is red, then some serious repairs will need to be made as soon as possible.

A Home Buyers Report

Slightly more detailed than the condition report, this survey will tell you about any major problems. And also about the home’s valuation. However, the report isn’t intrusive, and the surveyors won’t go into a lot of detail while inspecting the property. But it still provides a lot more information than the basic condition report.

A Building Survey

Possibly the most expensive survey to get, building surveys are certainly worth the investment. The surveys are extensive and will provide you with a very detailed report at the end to help you consider whether the property is worth buying. These surveys are worthwhile if you are looking at a very old property or are considering doing a lot of building work once you have moved in.

An Asbestos Survey

Asbestos Surveys are especially important in old buildings that may contain asbestos. This poisonous material was once used widely in construction until it was found to be harmful to humans. This survey will look at your property to see if there is any asbestos in it. If so, you can then organise for it to be replaced with a safer material.

Thanks to these surveys, you can feel much more confident about the next property you purchase!

Useful Tips & Tricks For A More Organized Home

Are you a hoarder? Do you have lots of lovely stuff but just not enough room for it all? Don’t worry; you’re not alone – to some extent we all love to hoard. Be it furniture or clothing, we all have items that we’ve had for years and just can’t seem to bear to part with. The problem is that if you fill your home with items that you no longer need (or want), it’s impossible to create a tidy and organised space. If you want a beautiful home to be proud of you have to get organised – it might seem impossible but it’s not.

Focus on one room at a time

Going through your whole house at one time choosing what to keep and get rid of is extremely stressful and overwhelming. Instead, start with one room at a time and work through the items in there. You’ll find that by working on one area at a time that it will be less overwhelming and easier to manage. You can choose to do one room a day or get your entire house done in a weekend; it’s up to you.

Be ruthless

It’s never easy parting with belongings, but if you want a lovely home that’s neat and well organised, you have to be ruthless. Any items that you no longer need or use get rid of. There’s no point keeping things just in case you need them – be ruthless and get rid of anything you no longer need. Just think, the items that you get rid of might be able to help someone else. You see, there’s a silver lining to everything, even getting rid of your old junk.

Consider using self-storage

If you have items that you want but have no use for at the moment, then consider using self-storage. While it’s important to get rid of junk that you don’t need, valuable items that you just don’t need right now are worth keeping. Instead of chucking them out, use a company like Fox Moving and Storage to keep these items safe. They won’t be cluttering up your home anymore and will be safely stored away, giving you the best of both worlds. Just make sure that before you start using self-storage that you can afford the monthly fees.

Be smart about storage space

As someone who likes to hoard, it’s essential that your home has plenty of clever storage space. If you lack storage, get creative to add more to your home. If your home has plenty of storage space, you’ll find that keeping it organised is much easier. If you don’t have space to store all your bits and bobs, your home is never going to look good. So it’s crucial that you’re smart about storage space and do all that you can to ensure you have plenty of options. From wardrobes to attic storage, there’s lots that you can do.

Once you’ve taken these tips on board, you’ll find it much easier to keep your home organised. Be ruthless and get rid of any junk, store what needs storing, and most importantly, be smart about storage space.

How To Update Your Bathroom Without Replacing It

Our bathrooms are one of the rooms that get frequently used in our home. The same can be said for the kitchen. So it is no surprise that both those rooms are the ones that can add value to your house. Especially if you are considering selling it anytime soon. However, as expected, both those rooms can cost quite a lot to replace. Out of the two, the bathroom is the one that can be made to look different without the need of replacing your existing bathroom suite. If it isn’t bad then why not consider these tips to update your bathroom.

Think about the accessories

One sure fire way to make the bathroom feel different is to add some new accessories. This can be even better if you stick with a colour scheme or theme. A great theme for a bathroom is nautical and there are some fabulous ideas on websites like Pinterest to inspire you. If you want to stick with a colour instead then this could work with the towels, toothbrush holder and cup. You could even add some vases or flowers to brighten the room up.

Add a new towel rail to make the room feel different

A great way to make your bathroom look updated is to add key features. One way of doing that is to consider a wall mounted heated towel rail. They can look very sleek and modern and give your whole bathroom a new look. There are a lot of different choices out there. So it’s worth checking out websites like to see what is available.

Consider a feature wall

If you have a wall that is painted then why not make something of it. You could paint it a different colour to match your new colour scheme. Or if you are happy with the colour then why not add some photographs in frames or something different like mirrors or framed prints. A feature wall can be what draws the eye into the bathroom. It can give the roll a whole different feel.

Look at the little details in your bathroom

Sometimes it’s just looking at the little details that can make a big difference to how your bathroom looks. It’s noticing things like mold developing in the bathtub seal or shower. It’s making sure everywhere has been cleaned. This room gets used so often, and although you may regularly clean these things need a little more work. There are some great DIY remedies online to help solve some of these issues.

Make big changes elsewhere in the room

If replacing the bathroom suite isn’t an option then consider changing some of the other big features instead. Things like flooring or a new sink unit. Even wall mounted shelves or mirrors can make the bathroom feel totally different. It means spending some money, but not as much as it would be to have the whole room remodelled.

I hope this has inspired you to update your bathroom.