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Surviving home disasters: Together Mutual and John Lewis giveaway

March 30th, 2016

Fresh cheery and bright bedroom interior design scheme

Sometimes it’s good that we can’t predict the future and don’t know what’s about to happen – and that’s certainly the case when a disaster is just around the corner.

Like any unexpected disasters, those that occur in our homes vary in severity, from a mild inconvenience to complete devastation. Some of the factors involved in disasters include water, fire, dodgy decorating jobs and electrical issues.

In the past, we had the unfortunate experience of a water-related home disaster. Having been away for a long weekend, we returned home to discover that water had poured down from the loft through the loft hatch and ceiling and flooded our bedroom. By the looks of it, and the horrible smell of damp, it had been soaked for a while.

The relatively new and carefully chosen carpet was super squelchy and the bed, with our super comfy mattress, was completely soaked. Wallpaper was peeling off the walls and part of the ceiling had caved in.

At that point we were obviously unsure of the cause, but the first port of call was to turn the water off at the mains to prevent any further flooding. Next up was to phone our insurance company for help and advice.

First thing the next morning an assessor arrived to see the damage. Although we knew it wasn’t great, part of us still thought things could be dried out and salvaged, but it was all condemned  as unusable and a skip was arranged.

Also important on his list were some dehumidifiers. Any home disaster involving water leaves a dreadful damp smell which seems to permeate everything. Plus, it makes the house feel cold.

When it came down to identifying the source of the problem, it turned out to all be due to a dodgy ballcock. One of those things that you’re unlikely to be aware of in advance, but what a mess it caused.

Bright and airy corner of bedroom with cushions and blinds

Over the next few weeks things were a hive of activity, with dehumidifiers on and workmen coming in to help replace and redecorate the room. There was an extra mishap with the plastering, when even more of the ceiling caved in on the slightly slap-dash plasterer (and, to be honest, the end result of the plastering wasn’t great).

That aside, everything else worked out fine and the furniture, bed, bedding and carpets were all replaced like-for-like.

It wasn’t a pleasant experience, but we were slightly relieved it hadn’t occurred when were at home and asleep in bed, as that would have been a very cold and wet shock to have water pouring down!

For us, it was only one room affected. It must be absolutely horrendous for people whose entire homes are flooded.

To give you peace of mind that you’re covered in the event of an unexpected home disaster, and have some money to spend on your home, Together Mutual are running this giveaway.

Win a year’s home insurance

Want to win a year’s free home insurance and £200 worth of John Lewis vouchers? Enter the Together Mutual Insurance competition below.

Or take advantage of their current special offer and save up to 40% on your home insurance.

Disclaimer: I teamed up with Together Mutual Insurance (@TogetherIns) to tell the story of my home disaster.

Buying a home: What families with children tend to look for

March 29th, 2016

An open plan kitchen diner is perfect for a family home.

If your family has grown and your current house is bulging at the seams, then maybe it is time to move to a new property. Ensuring that your home appeals to house buyers requires some preparation.

If you are trying to reach out to a specific market, in this case a family, there are things to consider to secure that sale. But what are families with children looking for when buying a home?

Lifestyle

We all get that instant feeling of warmth, cosiness and a sense of belonging when we visit a home that is right for us.

You may have experienced this before when buying a property or even when visiting a friend’s house. Now you need to make sure that your home gives the perception of a safe and comfortable family home that they can see themselves in.

There are a few old classic tricks that have been tried and tested that help with selling homes such as baking bread or filling your home with yellow flowers.

So if you are selling a certain lifestyle make sure your home feels that way. For great tips, read Fresh Design Blog, or have a look at a home lifestyle magazine such as House to Home, Elle Décor or House and Garden.

Blank canvas

Creating a blank canvas can involve clearing out all of your personal touches that could potentially be barriers to someone feeling that this could be their home.

No one who moves into your home wants to see bright colours or unusual décor that makes them uncomfortable in a room.

If you are trying to make it appear as an ideal family home, then leave photos of you and your family as this will show them the life that they could have if they buy your home.

Declutter

When it comes to moving out many of us like to start packing things into boxes before you’ve even found a buyer or sometimes we really should start packing away some of our clutter before putting the house on the market.

People do not want to move into a house that feels full and cluttered with your possessions as that makes them think it is too small and won’t work for them. So, have a good clear out of your possessions or put your precious items into storage to keep them safe until you have moved into your new home.

Fit for purpose

Making sure that the room’s use is clear to the potential buyer is very important to give them an idea of what it will be like to live there.

So if you are using a bedroom as a study then change it back to a bedroom, or, if your study is currently being used as a storage space then quickly restore it to its desired use.

By not showing the rooms as their intended use you could lose out on a sale or even worse, lose out on money if they don’t consider your storage room as another reception room.

Outdoor space

Your outdoor space could be a deal breaker – whether it is the curb appeal at the front of your house or the back garden for the kids to play in.

Make sure that everything is neat and tidy and that there is plenty of space.

(Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post)

Stylish and functional: Flair bluetooth speaker by KitSound

March 24th, 2016

Stylish, slimline and super functional - the Flair bluetooth speaker by KitSound. Full review on Fresh Design Blog.

These days we all have so much music stored digitally that it makes sense to have bluetooth speakers to hand. The speakers enable you to listen to your music whenever you want, but especially achieving a decent quality of sound.

One of the new designs of bluetooth speakers is Flair, by KitSound. Designed in a style reminiscent of a handbag, this square speaker is designed to both work like a dream and look good too. The front of the speaker features a lovely layer of tactile felt and, with different colours to choose from, you can ensure that the speaker fits in well with your interior design room scheme.

KitSound are an award-winning audio company,  who are renowned for products with great sound quality. As soon as you listen to music on the Flair, that becomes apparent – there’s no cheap, tinny sound with this speaker.

The product comes with good, clear instructions and it’s very easy to charge it up ready to use and then connect it via bluetooth to your mobile or tablet. If you don’t want to use bluetooth, or it’s not convenient to do so, then you’ve got the option of connecting it via a cable too.

What’s more, it’s lightweight and relatively slimline too. It’s got a full range of controls, which are semi-hidden from view as they’re on the top and back of the speaker. They’re very minimal, but work via a simple soft touch.

Love the contemporary look and style of this Flair design bluetooth music speaker by KitSound.

The handle makes it super portable and easy to move around and the style works in many areas of the home – in your kitchen, living room, bedside your bed, or on a desk for music as you work.

Love the sleek, modern design of the Flair bluetooth speaker by KitSound. Effortlessly connect it to your mobile.

It’s very different to other speakers on the market and we love the attention to detail on the front. As you can see, it works very well alongside other modern design pieces. The speaker can offer up to eight hours of battery play time. As it contains rechargeable batteries, you can easily re-charge it to restore the full power once again.

This Flair bluetooth speaker creates its own design statement. It also offers a great listen quality too. Perfect for teaming with your mobile for a fab listening experience.

The Flair speaker is available in a choice of four colours – grey, blue, red and green – and has an output of 10 watts. It’s available for £60 from KitSound.

For a speaker with personality, style and great sound quality, and one that may even tone with your interior design scheme, we’d definitely recommend taking a look at the Flair.

(Disclosure: We were sent a Flair speaker for review, but all views and opinions are our own)

Great Danes: add some Danish style to your home

March 23rd, 2016

How to style your home the Danish way

Today, Danish design is known for simple geometric shapes and clean, uncluttered lines and it’s a popular form of interior design style.

Here’s a brief  insight into the history and development of Danish design, and some great ideas for getting the Danish look in your home.

 

The emergence of popular Danish design

The heyday of Danish design was the 1950s and 1960s, when designers and architects such as Finn Juhl (sometimes called the father of Danish design), Hans Wegner, Arne Jacobsen and Verner Panton came to prominence with their new ideas.

Many of the leading Danish designers had trained as cabinet makers, and brought that sense of traditional quality to their new designs.

Inspired by Charles Eames, architect Arne Jacobsen designed the famous Ant chair in 1952, initially for the canteen at Novo Nordisk, an international Danish healthcare company.

He soon found that there was a demand for the new small, lightweight, stackable chair from owners of the new apartments that were springing up. With limited space and small kitchen areas, the Ant chairs (named for their shape, as the back of the chair resembled an ant with a raised head) were perfect for modern living and became a design classic.

The Ant was followed in 1958 by the Egg chair, designed for the Royal Hotel, in Copenhagen. Based on an oval,the Egg quickly became popular for its comfort as well as its looks.

The genre continues to flourish today, though, with many of the new generation of designers re-working the classic and retro designs into something edgier.

How to get the Danish look

The twin concepts of Danish design are ‘simplicity’ and ‘functionality’.

Furniture should have clean, uncluttered lines and is often raised off the floor on legs to give a feeling of space.

Walls and floors in the room should be light, for example white-painted walls and blond wood floors. Window dressings should be simple and let in as much light as possible.

Keep decorative accessories to a minimum to enhance the feeling of space.

1. Elba TV cabinet, Pash Living

Elba TV cabinet, Pash Living

This Elba TV cabinet, a mix of contemporary lines and colours with retro influence, is available in walnut or oak.

Inspired by Danish designers, this classic piece of furniture is sure to be the talking point of any room.

The combination of drawers and doors offers a variety of storage solutions, and there are no handles to the drawers giving this cabinet a sleek, minimalistic look and feel. Hand crafted by skilled craftsmen in the UK. £849, available from Pash Living.

2. Bell pendant light, Normann Copenhagen

Bell pendant light, Normann Copenhagen

From modern design company Normann Copenhagen comes this bell pendant light, £229.

It has an iconic bell shape, rounded and simple, with a matt finish.

It comes in four different sizes so can be use in a variety of ways, the smaller sizes can be used for hanging by beds or in rows above a kitchen surface. Available from Cloudberry Living.

3. Arne Jacobsen-inspired Egg chair, Pash Living

Arne Jacobsen-style reproduction Egg chair, Pash Living

Almost sixty years after its creation, the Egg chair continues to be a design classic. The design is still in production, and a modern Egg chair  by Arne Jacobsen’s retail partner Fritz Hansen costs around £4,500.

If you can track down a vintage Egg chair from the 1960s in good condition, it’s more likely to cost in the region of £8,000 – £10,000.

To add a little style to your home at a more affordable price, this reproduction Egg chair is based on Arne Jacobsen’s original design and is available in a range of finishes and a choice of colours. £399, available from Pash Living.

By Sara Walker

Spring celebrations: Easter home decorations

March 19th, 2016

Easter is whizzing closer at a rapid rate this year – blink, and it will be almost upon so.

Of course, as well as the bonus of a legitimate reason to eat chocolate, it’s a good excuse to bring a few seasonal spring decorations into your home. Here are some ideas!

Gorgeous blossom spray of twigs and flowers - perfect for creating a stylish Easter or spring home decoration

In an ideal world, we’d all have easy access to a few suitable blossom sprays or branches to make into a DIY Easter tree. In reality, we don’t – but here’s the next best solution. The Easter blossom spray is available in two sizes and is great for use at Easter or for other spring home decorating. Just pop them in a vase or bottle. Priced at £24 from Ella James, you’ll be able to use it time and time again.

Super cute ceramic brown and white bunny rabbit decorations - ideal for hanging on an Easter tree

These look good enough to eat but, no, they’re not made of chocolate!

Bunnies have got to feature somewhere in Easter decorations, and what better way than in the form of these hanging porcelain rabbits. A set of four includes two sitting and two standing rabbits in taupe and white. They’re £14.50 per set from Cox and Cox.

Great idea for an Easter table decoration. Use this set of eight hanging speckled eggs in a bowl instead. Quick, easy and cheap.

The hanging speckled eggs are a good buy at only £4.50 for eight from Cox and Cox. They’re lightweight and made from plastic, and are finished with a simple jute string. Hang them on a spring branch or Easter tree, or put together a quick, easy and cheap table display by simply popping them into a bowl.

Gold and white metallic Easter egg decorations

Already got a metallic décor scheme? These gold and white Easter egg decorations would fit in perfectly. £3.50 from The Easter Home

Everyone needs a golden bunny for Easter! This cute glass one can be hung up on an Easter tree.

There’s also a rather cute gold glass Easter bunny available. £4 from The Easter Home.

This white tree decoration is perfect to use as an Easter tree. Bring it life with lots of colourful Easter decorations!

If you’re looking for an Easter tree to hang your decorations from, then John Lewis have this white one. It’s £15.

Love this elegant glass Easter egg decorations with speckled feathers inside.

John Lewis also have various decorations available, such as this elegant glass Easter egg decoration filled with feathers. £3.50.

Intricately designed handmade porcelain lace and daisy egg shaped hanging decorations.

There’s something special about hand crafted decorations. These gorgeous lace and daisy egg decorations are handmade from porcelain in Cumbria. The small sized eggs are £5.95 each from Amanda Mercer.

Display small Easter treats in style, with this gold bunny glass jar. Great for a table centrepiece, or even a gift.

Finally, why not fill up this large glass jar, with its gold bunny adorned lid, with mini Easter treats or decorations. It would work well as part of a table decoration. £19.50 from M&S.

How to Brighten Up Your Home on a Budget

March 18th, 2016

Spring is almost upon us – hurrah! And with warming weather and longer days you might fancy sprucing up your living space. But how do you do it when you don’t have tons of money to spare? Here’s how to brighten up your home on a budget…

Paint the walls white

Paint your walls white to brighten up a space and add light

White paint is cheap, forgiving and easy to apply, which makes it a great option for brightening up your home on a budget.

Consider the quality of light you have in your home, and pick your preferred ‘tone’ of white accordingly (grey skies and British weather can make some tones of white appear cold and clinical once they’re on the wall).

White walls will maximise the amount of light bounced around the room, brightening up your home in one simple swoop – here’s a great example.

Bring in new plants

Use plants to brighten up your home cheaply and easily

Liven up a limp corner of the room with lush, fresh greenery. Why not head over to Bakker Spalding Garden Co and check out the flower bulbs on offer?

Your favourite flowers will create a cheerful, colourful feature in your home and will literally breathe new life into rooms that need a little pick me up.

Green fingered decorators might prefer to plant bulbs in the garden first, picking the blossoms throughout spring and summer, but it’s just as easy to pick some indoor bulbs or houseplants suitable for growing on your windowsill.

Add a splash of colour to your upholstery

Brighten up a room on a budget by adding colourful cushions and soft furnishings

You might not feel so confident painting a wall zesty orange, or adding pop art to every inch of empty space, but it’s easy (and less commitment) to brighten up your home by changing the upholstery or soft furnishings.

Switch your fur and wool blankets for lighter alternatives: fun, eye catching prints will look great in your lounge, and neutral, plain materials will look fresh and ethereal in your bedroom.

While you’re at it, consider adding brightly coloured cushions and rugs to add a sense of joy de vivre – just be sure to pick a colour scheme you’re happy with to create a cohesive look.

Use reflective materials

Use metallics, such as gold, brass, copper or silver, in your home decor and accessories

You might not realise it until you really look, but choosing reflective materials can brighten up a space.

Opt for glass, brass, metal, copper, clear plastic, and anything you can polish - these surfaces will bounce light around and subtly brighten the space.

Be clever with your lighting

Clever lighting choices can add even more light into a room

If you want to brighten rooms within your home, a ceiling fixture with a glass shade will reflect and amplify light.

Install lights on the walls to enhance the feeling of space in the areas you want to illuminate (overhead lighting alone tends to leave areas of the room in darkness).

However, don’t forget to use light to ‘cosy up’ areas for night time: a low wattage bulb or lights with shades designed to absorb a little light will make an area feel warm and relaxing, which is particularly important for relaxation areas.

Place dimmer lights close to floor level or beside structural features to brighten up your home in a gentle, calming manner.

(Images courtesy of Pixabay)

 
 
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