HOUSE & HOME
No place like Home
This year most of us will have spent a lot more time at home than usual, and as the winter months are slowly moving in our outside spaces will only be accessible to those brave enough to endure the cold and rain. If you are bored with the interior of your house or just fancy a change now is as good a time as ever to get a project on the go. Even the smallest change can make a big difference. Here we have a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing ready to transform your living space whatever your budget.
The simplest way to change the look and feel of a room is with paint and with plenty of options around you will be spoilt for choice with different colours and finishes. If you want to give the whole room a top to toe makeover remember to start with the ceiling. You run the risk of getting drips and splashes on your newly painted walls if you leave the ceiling till last. Preparation is key. I have heard many professionals say “no prep, no point”, so make sure you sand and scrape first.
Need advice on colours? Then talk to someone in the trade for some friendly advice. Norfolk-based Fenwick & Tilbrook have some handy tips and ideas on their website as well as some locally-inspired colours. Keep in mind that if you want to make a small space feel bigger a lighter colour will help to open up the room and a darker colour will give you a cosier feel.
It’s in the details
Another quick and relatively inexpensive way to change a room is with soft furnishings or statement pieces of art. Sculptures and paintings can run into millions if you want to buy a Picasso, but you can buy beautifully crafted items at a reasonable price if you shop around. Try looking in the eclectic little shops often found in town centres where you can pick up a bargain.
A pampas grass wreath is a different statement on the wall which really captures the essence of country living. Each wreath is handmade using around 23 soft fluffy pampas grasses, detailed with delicate nigella pods, dried natural phalaris and some silky pheasant tail feathers and are available from www.oultonbroadflowercompany.co.uk
Cushions and throws can give that old sofa a lift and give the tired old lounge a much needed blast of colour. Try pairing these with your newly painted walls to build a colour scheme. If you can stretch to matching curtains then this is a must as they can dramatically change the look and feel of a room.
The lighting in a room is extremely important, especially as the days are getting shorter. Dark nights and dingy rooms can be lifted by investing in good lighting. A selection of cleverly placed lamps can transform a room and also be that statement piece to bring that wow factor. When we think of lamps everyone immediately thinks of the bedroom or lounge. But try experimenting with a large floor lamp in a long hallway or dining room to create a softer, more intimate space. Sometimes the harshness of the overhead light can be overpowering. A reading lamp is a great way to make the lounge feel cosier whilst still being practical; who doesn’t love to curl up on the sofa on a winter evening with a good book?
A smarter home
If you are new to smart devices around your home it is always best to start small to avoid being overwhelmed with all of the new technology. A good place to start is to choose an Amazon Echo or Google Home. Once you have these installed you can add a few smart switches to lamps.
Hive offers plenty of smart devices which can really bring your home to life, and save you money. Installing a Hive Active Heating thermostat can add schedules to your central heating system which can make your home run much more efficiently. And what’s more is that at the moment you receive a free Amazon Echo Dot (3rd gen) with every Hive Active Heating purchase, which you can have installed by a British Gas engineer.
Once you have mastered voice control of your devices you can keep adding to your new smart home as more and more appliances and devices are becoming compatible. Your next step on your smart home journey is to learn about geofencing. A smart home geofence is an imaginary circle around your home location. The GPS on your phone can be used to trigger different actions when you cross this “fence”. For example in the colder months your entrance lights can be turned on and the heating is on ready for you to get home to a warm house. You’ll soon wonder what you used to do without it.
Although we are all heading inside as the weather gets colder we mustn’t forget about our outdoor spaces completely. Sitting in a warm house looking out at your garden is a tranquil way of relaxing. Having the perfect lawn requires a lot of work. Artificial grass can give you the look you are after and is low-maintenance, so you can forget about watering, feeding, weeding and mowing. Hard-wearing, durable and easy to clean – ideal if you have children or pets –simply water it lightly to remove any spillages or mess. It is ideal for smaller or more awkwardly-shaped outside spaces such as roof terraces, decking areas and balconies. If you are feeling adventurous you can lay it yourself on both hard surfaces (such as concrete or wooden decking) or directly onto soft surfaces (such as soil), or get a professional to install it for you. The cost of this depends on the area you wish to cover and prices range from £10 per m2 to over £40 per m2 depending on the style and quality you are after.
Blinds, curtains & shutters
You can complete the look of any room by dressing up the windows. Add shutters to complete that period look or go with a classic blind and curtain combo. Heavy lined curtains can help to insulate the windows helping your home become more energy efficient, whereas blackout blinds ensure your sunday morning lay in isn’t interrupted by a blast of daylight. Make sure you think about the functionality and end result you are after and then work backwards from there. There are plenty of local suppliers and makers who will be able to offer a bespoke option ready to fit even the most awkwardly-shaped windows.
The front door of your home is one of the first things visitors will notice in a property, so making a good impression is key. A new front door will improve the kerb appeal of any home. With a huge variety of doors on the market, materials are one of the most important considerations when browsing options, as different styles offer different benefits and finishes. Traditional options such as solid timber doors look aesthetically pleasing but do not provide the insulation and security that UPVC and composite doors provide. These traditional wooden doors can be customised with paint and varnish, but they can deteriorate in certain harsh weather conditions and require regular maintenance over time. UPVC doors are easily customisable and have a strong structure, and composite doors are equally as customisable and durable and have an authentic wooden finish which is low maintenance and requires no painting. UPVC and composite doors are also very durable and resistant to forced entry.
As the focal point of your home, choosing the colour of your door wisely is vital. You want to ensure that it complements the exterior of your property – so consider if you have newly painted the outside, or if you plan to do it in the near future when choosing a colour. Most UPVC and composite doors come in a range of colour options and are easily customisable if you have a particular colour in mind. Most reputable companies and professional external fitters can advise on the best way to achieve the look you want, so it’s always worth asking.
Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to everyone’s well being. Upgrading your mattress is a great way to enhance the comfort of your home and your own health at the same time. It is definitely worth seeking advice when getting a new mattress as this is such an important part of your home.
The firmness of your mattress will affect how well you sleep. The type of firmness you need will depend on your weight, height and sleeping position. Side sleepers or people who change positions during the night are best suited to a soft mattress. This is because the way you sleep already relieves pressure from your spine so you want your mattress to mould to your body’s natural position.
If you sleep on your back you may find you are best suited to a medium firm mattress which will give you extra lower-back support.
Front sleepers, people over 15 stone or sufferers of back pain will be best suited to a firmer mattress which will keep your back in a relatively comfortable and stable position without allowing you to sink into it as you sleep, which can cause lower-back pain.
Dining room – table & chairs
There are some fabulous dining sets available at the moment which won’t break your budget. Remember before you buy how many you would like to seat on a regular basis and the space you have to work with. Small spaces can be maximised with corner bench style seating which can comfortably seat a family of four. For a larger family or if you have plenty of space to play with in your dining area, look at solid or extendable units. Make sure you have enough chairs, even if you have to store them in another room until needed for the family gathering. There is nothing worse than having everyone seated while uncle Dave is pitched on a stool borrowed from the breakfast bar.
Sky’s the limit
Conservatory & windows
A great way to enhance your home is to add new windows. Upgrading to new energy efficient units can certainly reduce heating bills, especially when twinned with your fancy new Hive Active Heating thermostat. Another great addition is to add a conservatory. By adding an extra room to your home, you will increase its desirability to potential buyers and it is more affordable and less hassle than an extension. This new space can be made into a tranquil escape from the rest of a busy household.
Another great way of connecting to the outside is with the addition of slimline bifold or sliding doors so you can open up the house, truly bringing the outside in. These beautifully crafted walls of glass are not only aesthetically pleasing but are also practical allowing in light and opening up on warmer days.
Your kitchen is the heart of your home and is often overlooked in favour of other projects because of the disruption it can bring to your daily routine. However this short term pain will truly be a long term gain when you install your dream kitchen. The best advice is to speak to a professional early on before you fall in love with ideas which may not be best suited to the space you have to work with. A good tradesman will also be up to date on the latest technologies and materials which may make all the difference to the finished look.
Try making a mood board which will help your kitchen designer work towards a finished look which will suit you and your house. Collect cuttings from magazines or snippets from the internet; lifestyle magazines and Pinterest are great places to start.
Want that extra room and you don’t have the space to go out? Then why not go up? A loft conversion is a great way to maximise the space that you have and create a fun and exciting space at the same time. Move the master bedroom up a level and have a much larger space. Bring in light with VELUX roof windows and add blinds for shade. Think about where you would position the bed when planning this new room as it may be a romantic notion to lay in bed and gaze at the stars but you may find that you are blinded by the sun the next morning.
When converting a loft, you will need Building Regulations approval. A building control surveyor will inspect your conversion at various stages and will be responsible for issuing a completion certificate upon final inspection. If your home is semi-detached or terraced, then you will need to notify your neighbours of your planned work if it falls under the requirements of the Party Wall Act. When it comes to a loft conversion, you are most likely to be concerned with Parts L, K, B and P of the Building Regulations, so it is best to seek advice before you commission any work.