Thursday, July 31, 2014

Guest post- Going Away This Summer? Don't Let Your Home Be A Paradise For Burglars!

There is nothing quite as exciting as setting off on your summer holidays, bidding farewell to your home for a couple of weeks and embracing the sunshine of somewhere exotic. However you and your family are not the only ones who are eagerly looking forward to you getting away for a while, as the summer holiday season is a prime time for criminals looking to exploit the empty properties that are left behind.

There could be nothing worse than returning from hard-earned rest and relaxation only to come home to find you have been burgled, saddling you with even more stress than you had to endure before you went away - but what can you do about it? Read on as the experts at Security Solutions Yes Ltd. take you through their top tips for keeping your home secure.

Get Help From Your Neighbours

Criminals who know what they are doing will look out for properties which appear to be currently unoccupied - signs like no cars being on the driveway or the curtains being closed all day or left open all night. By asking your neighbors for some help, you can give the impression of a lived in property for the duration of your holiday.

Ask if they can park their car on your driveway occasionally, and give them a spare key to your house so they can go in and open up the curtains/blinds during the day or close them at night.

Automatic Lights

Less of a problem at the height of summer when it is lighter for longer, but homes that are completely dark throughout the evening are a dead giveaway that a house is currently unoccupied. Moreover, simply leaving the hall light on all the time would not help either as this will appear obvious you are trying to make it look like you are there – when even potential criminals know you are not.

Instead, invest in timers for your lighting and set them to turn on and off at certain times.

Do Not Announce Your Holiday on Social Media

When you are looking forward to going away for the summer it can be tempting to announce it to all of your friends and family about just how excited you are. After all, you can trust your family and best friends, but what about that guy you went to school with 20 years ago and have not really spoken to since. Can you really trust every of your friends who follows you on Twitter?

To be on the safe side wait until you get home, by which time you can shout from the rooftops just how fantastic a time you had and how great you look with your new tan.

This guest blog was written by John Rooney on behalf of Security Solutions Yes Ltd, one of the UK's leading providers of domestic and commercial security services in Norfolk.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Construction Check List: What, Why and How!

It is time to remodel. How do you get started? Like anything else, with a to-do list, of course. 

Here are some basics to consider for the next redesign project, a generic list that may need adaptation depending on how large or small your own project may be.

Why Are We Doing This

A remodeling project is going to upend your home or your business. What used to be convenient will soon be blocked off by tarps and dust protection. Speaking of tarps and dust, don't forget to look for a good skip hire for your project debris disposal. Make sure there is a good reason for getting into this in the first place.

If the answer is yes, proceed to question two. However, keep your project goals in mind and evaluate every step based on that. No sense calling the design a success if it does not accomplish what you set out to do.

It is instinctual for some, but for others, not so much. Do not forget to estimate the value of your home after you are done. After all, some projects take value away from a home, while most add to it.

Can We Do This?

Down the block sits a concrete home with an extravagant silo-looking tower in the front and a bunker-looking two story home behind it. And it has sat there for years, not moving forward or backward - a roof, but no windows, huge concrete blocks in place, but no move whatsoever toward completion.

Someone, evidently, ran out of gas. The funding got the project off the ground and substantial progress was made, but someone forgot to cross all the Ts and dot all the Is.
I wish I had a dime for every remodeling project that only got partway done before it was abandoned.

Cost Overruns

In the trade, costs that go above and beyond the allocated budget are called overruns. That means – phew! – you did not invent the problem of running into unsuspected problems part way through a project that added on to costs. As such, you should have a contingency plan to deal with this.

For starters, put aside (or borrow) more than you need to to get the project done. There is likely a formula out there for cost overruns – something simple like putting together a budget and then adding 20 percent just in case it is needed. Banks will certainly understand that strategy and lenders do not want an unfinished project anymore than you do.


It is quite likely you will need to schedule a project exactly a year after you first thought you should. This is to make up for the point that construction firms know the opportune time to start a major project is in the spring. Because of that, you may find out that builders are already booked one season in advance. If you dream up renovations this year, you might have another year to wait. In so many words: Get in line.

That said, if a project is largely or completely indoors, try to negotiate off-season rates. Many construction workers take a month or two off deep in the off season and workers for the most part would far rather make a paycheck than collect unemployment.

Line Up Your Team; Ask Around

Architects frequently recommend construction firms they have worked with in the past. Construction firms frequently nominate architects. But this should not stop you from conducting a solid reference check on anyone you hire. You are spending hard earned dollars, after all.

People in small cities or rural areas with a local pool of talent have no guarantee a contractor is honest, but they have a better chance of it. After all, if a local firm can survive year after year in one community, it is likely they have dealt fairly with their customers.

In bigger cities, it gets trickier. My father had a house built once in the suburbs of a major city and visited the construction site one day to find a worker painting the iron pipes a copper color. By the time he made a phone call to an attorney, the company had relocated to another state.

Insurance and Bonds

Deal only with companies that can show proof of insurance and have a surety bond. Sites like make it easy for contractors to obtain the necessary insurance online. 

If you need to, have an attorney check this out for you. You can also make inquiries at the surety bond company or with state regulators to ask about the history and current compliance status of a company.

While contractors need general liability insurance, the surety bond guarantees the contractor will complete the job according to the specifications spelled out in the contract. If the company cuts too many corners, fails to finish a job on time, or orders materials without paying for them, the surety bond covers this. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Making your home an interior design dream!

This article is written by Paul Watson.

Do you ever wander into your home and feel like you have stumbled onto the set of The Wire? Have your interior design choices ever been compared to that of Pete Doherty’s? Do you think of that reddening bit of mold in your bathroom when somebody mentions “warm colors” to you?

It is easy to let your home become a pigsty, but if you want to feel happier and healthier you are going to need to make a few design changes. Let's go from room to room and give you some advice, shall we?


Your bathroom is the easiest to let go to pot. Mold can attach itself to your walls like molluscs to a damp rock, and that is not to mention lime scale and patches of damp.

Start off by adding aqua colors that are easy to wipe clean, then invest in a durable bath mat that would not be a nightmare to wash. For a touch of class and warmth, buy some candles to dot around the place, giving you the perfect opportunity to have a relaxing soak in the tub.

Living room

You will probably spend most of your time in your living room, whether you are plowing through your latest Breaking Bad box set, finishing up a good book or hanging out with some friends. No matter what its size, you ideally want your living room to be as cosy as possible.

Find a focal point in the form of a coffee table and let it be surrounded by comfy seating. And while you might want at least one seat to face the telly, try not to let it dominate your living room – you will only create an anti-social space.


In an ideal world, the bedroom is where you will head to sleep and nothing else. It is where relaxation truly sets in and you can drift off in the peace and quiet of a dreamless night.

For the ideal kip, invest in some blackout curtains to block out the sun, and find a “goldilocks” mattress that will be comfy enough to ease into but sturdy enough to avoid damaging your back.

However, the room should not just be as barren as a bed and some curtains. If you struggle to sleep, buy a sound system that can play relaxing music to lull you into a fulsome snooze. 


When you are creating your culinary masterpieces, it is important to have the right utensils at hand. Have your pans and whatnot near the oven, and be sure that your cooking utensils are sturdy and durable enough to take a battering when you are washing-up.

It is also vital to invest in surfaces that can withstand spills and burns from your cooking exploits. So, invest in linoleum or hardwood floors, granite or marble worktops and you will be set to Gordon Ramsay your nights away. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Guest post- The perfect lighting for entrances, hallways and stairs!

This post is provided by Temenouzhka Zaharieva. 

Have you thought about how important it is to have the best possible lighting at these areas of your home? Here are several reasons:

1. We often have to enter our home at night and good lighting is an obvious necessity for safety reasons.

2. We need good lighting especially if there is no natural light streaming in.

3. It is the first thing that visitors see. If you have beautiful lighting, you will create a great first impression and make your guests feel welcome.

But in addition to these obvious reasons, you have to think how best to plan the lighting for your entrances, hallways and stairs. It is also important to keep in mind that proper choice of lighting can save money on your bills as well. 

First, lights that come on automatically when someone else approaches can save energy and at the same time improve your home security. It will also make you feel safer as you unlock the front door. 

Second, halogen lighting for spotlights and hallway lights is cheap to run. And it is environmentally friendly and durable, too.

Another alternative are LEDs - green, energy efficient, emit more light per watt than incandescent light bulbs, and their efficiency is unaffected by shape and size. They are ultimately long-lasting, can decrease your energy consumption and can be very flexible.

From point of view of type of lighting, it is possible to have wall sconces, spotlights, a centerpiece ceiling lamp or a combination of all of these. Modern ceiling lights are a wonderful way to illuminate hallways without taking up too much space and at the same time add grandeur. For a long passageway a series of modern ceiling lights should be used.

Or you can add wall sconces – their low level lighting is alluring without being distracting. Spotlights can be placed strategically to illuminate shadowy places.

Display lighting is both stylish and practical when you need to spotlight a special piece of artwork, brighten a built-in cabinet, or accent a particular area and it adds to the whole lighting scheme of the space.

Another important thing to consider is how lighting is reflected by the surfaces in your hallway - hardwood or glossy flooring will require softer, warmer lighting that will not produce harsh reflections.

And finally – remember that the style and design of your lighting can determine the overall impact of your home. Sometimes a single great designer lighting can become the centerpiece in a space. If you have a lighting like this in your entrance hall, then you have succeeded in creating a great first impression we are all looking for.

Looking for ceiling lights? You will find more ceiling lighting fixtures on

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Guest post- Three resourceful ideas for renovating your home!

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle are the esteemed three R’s that homeowners are attempting to follow. “Home design is all over that trend, and has its own 3R’s— Recycle, Repurpose, Reclaim”, says interior design blogger Jennifer Noonan. Over the past few years, we have become accustomed to recycling our own items and we often see this as throwing the correct materials into the appropriate bins.

Have you thought about being on the receiving end of these recycled goods? Recycling and repurposing your own possessions as well as reclaiming materials is a fab way to remain environmentally friendly and have a big of fun with design.

Recycle Your Furniture

From beautiful bookcase to garden benches, wooden furniture is a timeless household item. However, not only does it become costly to decorate your house using wooden furniture, it is damaging our environment. If you are looking to renovate your home, why not have a look at using reclaimed wood? An eco-friendly method and perfect for the shabby chic trend.

Reclaimed wood is basically wood that has been salvaged from its previous use employment and reused, originating primarily from factories, old barns and industrial sites. Not our usual haunt for design accessories, but definitely places worth checking out to find unique pieces of wood. The charming imperfections found in reclaimed wood offer a unique quality whilst suggesting a historical element; perfect for those of us seeking a vintage style in our homes.

Recycling our furniture is not just about multiple trips to the local tip or the nearest warehouse for reclaimed wood; some treasures can be found in our own homes as well as others. If your furniture is a little run down, perhaps it is time for a lick of paint or a reupholstering rather than a shopping spree.

Reclaimed Stone

Using stone in your home, both interior and exterior, is picturesque and durable. However, it can also be extremely expensive and this can put most home owners off. A great alternative is to use reclaimed stone which is effective, unique and adds charm to your property. When you are buying new stone, you can spend endless amounts of time checking each individual tile for discrepancies. The great thing about reclaimed stone is that you do not worry about uniformity.

Resourcing reclaimed stone for yourself can be a tricky business, especially with regards to buying quality material and how much of it to purchase. It is always best to stick with professionals such as Cawarden who specialize in reclaimed York stone- you can view their range here. You can rest assured that not only will reclaimed stone look an authentic and unique addition to your home, the durability ensures a hardwearing stone that will stand the test of time.

Repurpose Your Glass

Trendy glass mason jars and bottles are spreading like wildfire throughout the high-street. They have a beautiful vintage appeal and they can store anything from fairy lights to baking ingredients. However, as they are flying off the shelves, our recycling bins are filled to the brim with glass bottles and jars from our everyday living.

You might be hesitant to stick an old mayonnaise jar or fizzy drink bottle on your shelves and call it art, but there are plenty of interesting a quirky ideas to repurpose your glass. Mason jars are attractive, suitable for storage and require minimal repurposing. Fill them with flowers or smaller personal items such as your sewing kit and let the beauty speak for itself.

This post was written by Brittany Reid in association with UK-based Cawarden Reclaim, who specialise in the reclamation and re-sale of reclaimed building materials.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Guest post- Top 5 Chic Living Room Trends for 2014!

This post is provided by Michael Butterfield.

Interior design can be varied, expensive and incredibly stressful. However, it can also be fun, creative and the amount you spend is completely up to you –the difficulty lies in finding a trend which can benefit each individual home without the need to constantly redecorate. 

We have compiled a list of five of the most popular living room trends taking 2014 by storm that are effective, innovative and long-lasting – as well as a few tips on saving money.

The Traveler's Lounge

Whether you are a seasoned traveler or not, a living space inspired by exotic destinations such as Morocco, India and Australia is a must have this year. Color blocking has been trending in both fashion and interior design for some time, but why not think a little bigger with regards to patterns and colors? 

Clashing cultures and contrasting colors have inspired Wilhelmina McCarroll to design the Digital Nomad color scheme for one of Dulux’s 2014 trends. Travel overseas in your home and celebrate a collision of color with Moroccan lanterns, tribal collectives from Australia and gorgeous Indian inspired fabrics.

Tip: Buy just a couple of brightly colored tester pots and paint a few patterned stencils onto your living room walls.

Back in Blue

If you are not a fan of the color clashing technique, find something more suited to you in blue. From luxury in navy to the fresh feel of turquoise, blue is most definitely in style this year. 

For most of us, navy appears to be a very daunting color for our living spaces, but implementing navy furnishings such as cushions or ornaments to a living room can add a sense of indulgence. Dark navy walls can be a dramatic backdrop for any color accessories.

A deep and saturated turquoise can brighten up your living room and can be paired with white and pale woods for a more tranquil and elegant feel.

Lighter Colored Woods

Lighter colored woods such as oak and walnut are feeling fresh for 2014, says the Editor in Chief of Elle Décor. This can be utilized anywhere in your living room – whether it is in storage cabinets and bookcases or your flooring. A lighter wood can complement a paler color scheme beautifully as well as create great contrast to darker schemes. Whatever your color scheme, a lighter wood can add that natural touch to your living room’s décor.

If you are buying real wood products, it is always important to stick with a specialist who knows what they are talking about. For example, UK-based firm Fab Flooring, specialize in all things flooring and have their own range of real wood flooring. If you are worried about making the right decision, these specialist retailers will be able to advise you on which woods work well with a variety of interior design styles. They can also provide you with that all-important guidance on cleaning and caring for this natural product to ensure longevity.

Upcycling: Rediscover, Not Remodel

Changing the interior of your home can sometimes cost a small fortune, but have you thought of re-loving your own collections? We have all experienced the vintage craze and spent an inordinate amount of time in charity shops, battling for the cutest antique picture frame! However, our homes are filled with our own vintage items which could be spruced up or rearranged to create a whole new look. Trawl through your attic to find your own antiques and redesign with a lick of paint or a deep clean.

Tip: Repurpose your items, such as painting an old step-ladder and transforming it into a bookcase or shelves.

Mad on Metallics

Last year saw homeowners rushing to buy silver and gold shades to fill their homes. However, this year’s trend focuses a little more on warmer and more sophisticated shades such as brass, copper and bronze. 

"Warm metallics work particularly well with dark or neutral schemes where they can look quite Scandinavian, or combined with an industrial aesthetic to create a contrasting ‘rough luxe’ look," says design blogger Katie Treggiden. Warm metallic accessories can certainly add a touch of glamour to our home, whilst maintaining the soft glow of a natural living space.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

And the winner of the giveaway is ..........

Announcing the winner of the recent fun giveaway brought to you by

I used to pick two winners and here they are! The lucky winners who will be receiving the wall decals (up to $60 in value) are

Meena and

Sara Sullivan.

Congratulations, Meena and Sara! I will email you both of you soon. Thanks to everyone who have participated in this giveaway. Happy 4th of July weekend, my lovelies!

Guest post- The Kitchen Great Room: Designed to Bring Families Together Again!

The way we lead our daily lives is vastly different to our ancestors and our use of kitchens is a really good example of how things have changed. Go back a few centuries and you will note that kitchens were often constructed as far away from the family living quarters as possible and was just a functional place that served a purpose. Modern family living is now very much centered around the kitchen, so much so that it is estimated that a typical family today will spend nearly five times the hours in their kitchen than they will in their living room.

With people spending much more time in their kitchens than anywhere else in the house, this fact means that casual family living now demands the creation of a great room where everything we could want is all catered for within the hub of modern family life.

Serving the family well

When you sit down to design the blueprint for the perfect kitchen that serves all of your family’s needs, you will probably agree that your great room should be a place where cooking, homework, conversation, TV watching and socializing all have the opportunity to be carried out in this one area.

Many homeowners who used to have a separate dining room that was rarely used, reclaimed this wasted space by knocking through to create a larger open-plan kitchen that was more suitable for modern family living, so look at the space that you have available and work out how you can create as large a living space in your kitchen as possible.

Designing your space

The fundamental purpose behind your design plans is to create a great room that is easily adaptable and offers casually defined zones within the space. The room still has to function successfully as a kitchen where food preparation and cooking are easily carried out together with plenty of space being available for storage of food items and equipment as well as dishwashing and other related chores.

In addition to these requirements, look to create a room that offers informal dining, the ability to carry out studying or hobbies and also provides plenty of opportunity for relaxing and enjoying media entertainment too. Having some comfortable dining chairs and plenty of seating like a sofa to encourage family and friends to hang around after dinner, will also work well.

Working with what you have got

If you are unable to make your kitchen any larger by knocking through, you can still aim to transform the space that you have go to work with into a more comfortable and inviting living area that the family will enjoy being in for many hours.

If you can design your room to accommodate a couple of sofas as well as your dining table and chairs, this will introduce comfort into your living space as well as function and rather than discouraging the idea, introduce electronic media like a TV and a PC into your great room, as this help to create the perfect family atmosphere, with multiple activities going on in but with everyone together.

About the author: Luke Connor's career as an interior designer has always centered around family life. When not working with clients, he loves blogging about inspirations and beautiful, functional spaces for today's family homes.