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Home & Interiors

How to Create the Ultimate Den in Your Home

Your kitchen is where you cook up lots of lovely meals to keep your family full and healthy, but it doesn’t need to be the heart of the home. Your living room can easily become the ultimate nest for the whole family, the place where you spend long winter nights together snuggled up and in absolute comfort. 

Many northern Europeans take the notion of cosiness seriously. You have to, when daylight hours are minimal and dark clouds often make the days feel dreary. 

If you aren’t yet completely satisfied with how cosy your home is, follow this guide to create the ultimate den and finish it just in time for the upcoming winter. 

Use Natural Materials 

two chairs

Pic Credit: Pixabay

We are connected to the natural world. Simply spending time out in a field or in the woods on a walk can do wonders for our health and mental wellbeing. In winter, of course, you won’t have the ability to just head out for a comfortable walk. In winter, you need to bring all those comforts into your home.

This can be done in two ways. The first is to use natural materials. Woods, natural textiles and earthy tones can all do wonders to make the place visually comfortable. 

The second way is to use houseplants to add that element of the outdoors throughout the year. House plants can really improve the comfort of a space, making them the perfect way to increase the cosiness of your den during winter (and summer alike). 

Upgrade the Fireplace 

Every great den needs a fireplace, but that fireplace also needs to work well with how you and your family live. You don’t need to have a woodburning fireplace when you can have a flueless fireplace, an electric fireplace or a gas fireplace from stonewoods.co.uk, one that has zero clean-up but all the creature comforts. 

Not only will the fire instantly improve the look of your den, but you can also go further and invest in antique features, like fireplace tiles or mantels, to truly make your living room otherworldly with comfort. No matter what kind of fireplace you want, ensure that the design is superb, and you will have invested in a timeless comfort that you will enjoy for the rest of your life in your home.  

Add Multiple Lounging Corners 

child sitting on a rug

Pic Credit: Pixabay

A big comfortable couch is a great feature piece in a living room. If you can, however, try to add multiple lounging corners in your den. This way, you can change the perspective of your living room and keep it interesting and engaging throughout the winter. A window seat, for example, a reading nook in the corner, and a living room set can give your family three ways to enjoy your den. 

Add Comfort 

Pillows, comfortable couches, blankets, rugs – they all do wonders for your comfort levels. Invest in high-quality versions to really improve the comfort of your living room throughout the winter and beyond. You could even add floor comfort, so that your kids can enjoy playing on the floor while you are on the couch. With comfortable décor, the options are limitless and changeable. 

Note: This is a collaborative post
Home & Interiors

How to Furnish Your Home with Upcycled Furniture

When it comes to furnishing our homes, many of us flock to the nearest furniture showroom and spend a small fortune on new pieces. Now, not only does this cost us far too much money – often more than we can afford – it means that second hand furniture becomes less popular and can end up being dumped into rubbish. 

However, Kwiksweep, want to share their  secrets on how you can furnish your home with upcycled furniture, all for a fraction of the price it would cost you to buy new furniture. 

Should You Upcycle Yourself or Buy Readymade? 

arm chair

Pic Credit: Pixabay

These days, a lot of people are upcycling furniture in their spare time. Which means, if you’re not keen on doing the work yourself, you can easily find pieces for sale online. Just look for pieces on the likes of Gumtree and other local selling sites. Just be prepared to pay more for ready upcycled pieces than you would for second hand furniture in need of some TLC. 

If you choose to upcycle yourself, you can furnish your home very cheaply. Plus, because you are painting or altering the furniture yourself, you can really upcycle it to match your décor and tastes, choosing exactly the colours and accessories that you like. 

Where Can You Find Furniture to Upcycle? 

Of course, in order to furnish your home, you’ll need some second hand furniture to upcycle – so where can you find good pieces? Well, there’s a number of options: 

  • Look on local selling sites for people selling furniture cheaply 
  • Try your local charity shops 
  • Auction houses often have sets of furniture for sale 
  • Look for local second hand furniture shops 
  • Ask friends and family if they have any old furniture they don’t want anymore 

How Do You Get Started with Upcycling? 

Often people feel intimidated by the idea of upcycling, however, in most cases you just need some sanding paper, a primer and your paint of choice. Add to this a little patience and in no time at all you’ll have brand-new looking furniture. 

arm chair

Pic Credit: Pixabay

If you’re feeling braver, look for upcycling groups on Facebook or YouTube, where you’ll find lots of inspiration as well as guides to new techniques – such as decoupage – to really give your furniture a professional finish. 

It’s also possible to turn old furniture into entirely new items for your home. For instance, many people are using old bedframes to make benches or converting cribs into a tepee. There are also hundreds of hacks for altering Ikea furniture into new things. 

When it comes to upcycled furniture, it might seem like more work than simply buying new. However, not only will it save you a lot of money, your home will also look far more unique compared to others who all buy the same types of furniture from similar shops. Indeed, your friends and family will be desperate to copy your style. 

Plus, instead of encouraging more new furniture to be created, you will be helping items destined to end up on landfills to be reused for many years to come.  

 

Note: This is a collaborative post
Home & Interiors

Home Improvements That The Entire Family Will Enjoy

When thinking about home improvements, the majority of people typically start to think about big projects indoors that need to be done and all the work that will have to happen. But what about a different thought process when it comes to improving residential homes? Home improvement projects in the outdoor space can be a great way to add awesome curb appeal as well as value for the future. One of the easiest ways to transform the outdoor space and tackle a major home improvement project is to put in artificial grass!

What are the benefits of adding artificial grass to your home? 

artificial grass

Pic Credit: Pixabay

There are actually so many benefits that can come from using artificial grass in your yard! Not only is it a great way to ensure that your yard is always going to look amazing and alive but it’s also a great way to ensure that your children will have green grass to run and play on as well. Using artificial grass in your yard means that your yard will look uniform, healthy, and inviting for the pitter-patter of little feet!

While laying it in your front yard can look great for the curb appeal, having it in your back yard and garden space can create quite the tranquil place as well.

Home Improvements That The Entire Family Will Enjoy

When it comes to improving the area and space of your home, don’t forget to turn your attention to the outdoor space. Spending money now on laying artificial grass is a dividend that will continue to pay for itself for many years down the road, take a look at sites selling clearance artificial grass for example.

Home improvements don’t have to be something that requires a ton of work and effort which is why you might find that laying new grass outside is going to be your best bet. And being able to wake up every morning and seeing that beautifully maintained yard is a great reminder of your choice to improve your yard and backyard space.

While the inside of your home is important to update, it’s also just as important to update the outside area of your home as well!

 

Note: This is a collaborative post
Home & Interiors

Best home improvements to add value to your home

If you’re considering moving house in the near future, you want to make your money back — and home improvements can help you achieve this. After all, data from the Office for National Statistics has predicted that those in the UK collectively spend almost £30 billion on home improvements annually. That works out at £43 million each week.

Installing a new kitchen

kitchen

Pic Credit Pixabay

One thing I can say from my own renovations and much research in this area is that if you are going to improve one room think about doing the kitchen. It was once thought of as just a functional room but now it really has become the showcase of the home. Especially since the trend of open plan living has really taken off. 

Look at both the price bracket of your entire home as well as the kitchen when it comes to any transformations. There’s not going to be very much value added to a house that’s valued at £170,000 if it’s fitted with a £25,000 kitchen.

If you find the right balance, installing a new kitchen can add an estimated 4.6% to the value of your property. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) echoes this statement, acknowledging that a new kitchen will make a property more appealing and can add up to four per cent to its overall value.

Installing a new bathroom

From a bespoke bathroom to an added en-suite, adding an bathroom or renovating the exisiting one can add value. Its a very oft use room in a house and certainly an important one to give consideration to.  

Although this can add so much to the value of your home, you don’t have to go over the top when it comes to design — I really think when it comes to bathrooms –  keep it simple. For me, I know I had a couple of key requirements, heated towel rail, rainfall shower and generous bath. My husband actually wanted to get rid of ours!! That was one battle I was not prepared to loose. 

Investments for your loft

If your home was built before 1975 or had a headroom of a maximum 2.3 metres — this will be perfect when it comes to converting. The Nationwide Building Society estimates that a loft conversion may be able to add up to 21 per cent onto the overall value of a home, while Nationwide indicates that adding a double bedroom to your property — to which the loft can be transformed into this suitable space — can add over 10 per cent to the property’s value.

With a lot of regulations in place, you must be familiar with the process of loft conversions to ensure that you’re meeting the requirements set out. In addition an additional consideration will be how much this work cost. We did this but unfortunately with limited headroom we converted ours into a games room for the kids. While not an additional bedroom, it is a very welcome space and the kids get a huge amount of play out of the space. 

Altering your garage

By adding a double bedroom to your home, you can add up to 10% to the value of your home according to Nationwide. If a loft conversion doesn’t work for your property, or you are looking for another room to convert, consider transforming a garage.

Garage conversions come with a lot of benefits, but losing a garage could be seen as a negative point and could drop the value of your home as garages offer good storage places if they aren’t, of course, suitable for a car or alternative you could offer a garage for rent to neighbours who are struggling to find space at their home.

Research carried out found that 90% of garages in Britain do not have a car in them — and this is a waste of space which could be used for something else. I know ours is and remains an jumble of old kids toys and equipment. Each year I vow to address this and tidy it out and make it maybe a study or a music room for the kids.  Maybe next year!!

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Constructing a conservatory

The house I grew up in had the most amazing light filled conservatory.  I have so many happy memories of sitting having tea and chats with my mother in ours. They were so lucky that their back garden had such a good sun trap making for glorious morning in it. Anecdotally I have read that adding a conservatory can add from 5-10% to the value  of your home.  I do know the cost of a conservatory can vary depending on whether you go for glass or uPVC. Doing it once and doing it right is the only way to go. We love ours and 30 years later so do my parents. I think its the light and the air space but there was no compromise for us when renovating. I know I had to have one, nostalgia or not!

 

Changing your garden

welcome sign

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Before deciding on whether to have a conservatory or not, you must consider how much space of your garden this is going to take up. This is because a property’s outdoor space can also add substantial value. 

When switching up your garden, make sure that it remains accessible and can still be enjoyed by your family. For this, consider fitting glass doors which open out into the garden and install high-quality outdoor lighting throughout the garden.

Decking is also an easy option when it comes to garden alterations and can even add up to 2% to the homes worth.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post
Home & Interiors

Living Spaces With a Twist: 4 Ways to Add a Touch of Artistic Flair Into Your Home Decor

armchair

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Room decor looks fine when a family is moving into the new house. But over time, rooms get to look worn, cluttered, and outdated. What can we do to make them look more stylish? How can we add a little artistic flair when the budget is limited? There are ways to make a room look updated with a small investment of money and time. Follow these 4 ways to add flair.

  1. Windows

Start with the windows. We can add or remove window treatments. We can update how the windows are dressed and that will improve the look of a room. Decorative Window Vinyl can be used on windows and on glass walls to add privacy while letting in light. These decorative films can add security and privacy to any home or office while allowing the window to function normally. And, when a person is ready for a change, the film is easily removed to be replaced by a different film pattern.

Office glass walls, entry windows, bedroom or bathroom windows, and windows into storage rooms can all be costed with window films. These films can control UV rays to avoid fading furniture and fabrics, they can add a level of security, and they can prevent a window from shattering. They come in multiple patterns, styles, and colors. Window films can also be used in conjunction with other window treatments.

Removing old shades or blinds and heavy drapery treatments can add light to a room. Use new blinds, shades, or vinyl films to control light and retain privacy. Use drapes to add drama where needed in a color contrasting the walls or blending with the walls. Consider hanging drapery panels at the ceiling. Play around with creative drapery rods for interest.

  1. Walls

The walls are the biggest opportunity to update a room on a small budget. Clean and repair the walls, then paint them a new color in soft neutral colors that make a good backdrop for the existing or new furniture. Don’t leave those newly painted walls blank. Take art or mirrors from other rooms in the home to hang on the walls for a new look. Or, purchase a few pieces of art or a new mirror. Add a bookcase or floor to ceiling shelves to act as a display for favorite books, photos, and accessories. Consider painting the bookcase or shelves to match the wall. Hang art in groups to add drama.

  1. Floors

Pic Credit Pixabay

Update the flooring for a new, fresh look. If there is money in the budget, replace old, stained carpet with new carpet, wood flooring, or laminate wood flooring. Worn wood floors can often be sanded and refinished to look like new, if not, they can be painted or covered with wall to wall carpet or carpet squares. If you must keep the old flooring, purchase a few area rugs to hide the worst areas.

  1. Accessories

If the major pieces of furniture such as sofas and chairs are being re-used, make them look new again with fun pillows and throw in contrasting colors and designs. Then add accessories that reflect family interests. Mix art and fantasy with Roman statues, figurines, candle holders, and lamps. Put your creativity to work and create a place that is cozy and functional for the family. One last thing, though.  Keep accessories to a level that adds interest but does not make the room look cluttered.

 

Home & Interiors

Garden make over time

Pic Credit – Pixabay

I have written about our ongoing renovation project which is finally drawing to a close. The focus now is getting the outside space in good shape too. I love chilling in the garden, cup of coffee in one hand and newspaper or book in the other. I find there is something therapeutic about being outside. I have been pouring over garden trends to give an idea of whats hot for 2020.  Delighted to see growing your own veg is gaining in popularity, its something that really interests me. That and the move towards a more sustainable living can only be a good thing.

We are starting with pretty much a very blank canvas so things can only improve 🙂

Having built an extension we don’t have a huge amount of space left  therefore we need to be clever about what we do with the space we have.  Key for us both is a safe outside space for the kids to play too. I would love some new garden furniture, they want a playhouse or climbing frame! Given the space constraint one may have to give. I have totally fallen for the rattan furniture, I think there is something very elegant about it. They have totally fallen for a raised playhouse with a slide and climbing frame!

I have romantic notions of a garden in full bloom with an immaculate lawn! Actually truth be told what I would really love is a dock  right down to the lake at the front of our house. I know we are truly lucky to have such an amenity on our lands.  However my husband wants to pave it all to keep it low maintenance. I fear I may loose that battle. While I have no doubt we will have some planter beds my notions of dramatic  beds of colourful arrays of flowers will have to wait another while.

One thing we both agree on is lights for the garden, solar lights would be ideal as we have the early sun in the back of the house giving them plenty light for the evening.  I love sitting out at dusk with the lights on always makes me feel like im on holidays! If only!! Another item we both agree on is a bbq – while neither of us are at Michelin star quality we love to host and would love noting more the summer party out our newly renovated back garden.

The kids showed little interest (their own bedroom aside) in the interior renovations but they are very keen to get involved in the  planning and designing of the outside space. I think that is crucial for the success of any garden particularly on with as limited space as we have is to keep the needs of all of the users in mind and try to compromise.

Ill be sure to share some before and after pictures here when it is all done. When being the operative word!! Sorry Dada Fairy! If you have any inspiration do send it my way.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post

 

 

Home & Interiors

Top Tips for moving house

We have moved house 3 times over the last 10 years each a different stage, before kids, with one kid and when pregnant with our second. While im no expert I can certainly share from a practical point of view what worked for us thus making a stressful process a little easier on all involved. Moving can be especially hard on kids. I have actually written about this before so if its relevant to you have a read here.

  • Planning – I know this may sound like im stating the obvious but planning really is key from the outset, line up the trades, the dates, the help etc.
    House for sale sign

    Pic Credit: Pixabay

    The aim is that it will flow as seamlessly as possible. Having been through this before as much as we all hope it goes smoothly it does take a huge effort to try to achieve this so don’t get disheartened if things do slip a little.

  • Removal Company – Unless you have access to a van or lots of help you will like us most probably need to assistance of a domestic removals company. The key here is to shop around, get personal recommendations if you can.  You want somebody who will pack and transport as quickly and as efficiently as is possible and if needs be work with your timetable which can often move.
  • Charity/ Dump/ Sell –  You need to be a little ruthless when packing up. If you haven’t wore it or used it in years what are the chances you will now? Lots of options to either donate good quality clothing, dump or even use site like ebay or local deal site to sell goods. This can sometimes even be a nice way to earn a little bit of extra cash for the house move.
  • Labels, labels, labels – I went a tad crazy with white labels and my sharpie, every box had labels, notes, instructions and priority rankings as I was never going to  have it all unpacked in a few hours! Slightly related also is a tip from my Dad to take a pic of the cabelling for TV’s etc as for the non techie like me, trying to piece that kind of thing back together wouldn’t be the easiest task. However bad the packing up the unpacking can be twice as bad!! If you can pack up as efficiently as possible room by room it will make the unpacking that bit less stressful hopefully.
  • Help! – Take all the help you can for either packing or unpacking or even making dinner until you get sorted. Particularly if moving any large furniture yourself.  And crucially don’t stress to have it all done in a day, likely not possible so my advice is to take your time and do it right. It will work out far better in the long run.

Ill be the first to admit moving is so stressful but hopefully with these simple tips it can make it a little easier.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post however I retain full editorial control
Home & Interiors

ENERGY STAR APPLIANCES CAN SAVE YOU MONEY BY LOWERING YOUR ENERGY COSTS

Save on Your Energy Costs With Energy Star

One of the complaints I hear from some folks thinking about a new appliance is that Energy Star certified appliances are too expensive and don’t really save you a lot of money on your prepaid energy bill.

Well, the first part is true. Energy Star certified appliances are more expensive because they are more energy efficient. The part about them not saving you a lot of money is… well, wrong. The truth is they do save you money. However, consumers must face the hard part: educating themselves about the appliance they are looking to buy. Just because something has the Energy Star label on it doesn’t mean it will save you money if it doesn’t do the job you need it to do. Different consumers are going to use different appliances different ways. You need to keep you usage habits in mind when you go shopping.

The big energy loads that are going to make a difference when it comes to Energy Star compliance are refrigerators, air conditioners, furnaces, washing machines, and water heaters. Take for example water heaters. Water heating can account for 14%–25% of the energy used in your home. Generally speaking, consumers have three options (not counting solar) when it comes to water heaters: the standard tank, an energy star compliant tank, or an on-demand system. Water heater tank will heat the water but they have the hidden cost of stand-by energy use. In other words, they keep the water hot while its waiting to be used. The only way to save money on a tank is to make certain that the energy used to heat the water has as much thermal energy wrung out of it as possible.

The Department of Energy estimates that in 2018 most residential hot water in Texas is heated in a hot water tank heater that is 5-9 years old and does not have a heater blanket installed. A 50-gallon standard electric tank water heater costing about $200 rated at 0.86 to 0.95 efficiency can use $370 to $410 per year.. Electric heat pump water heaters can cost 3 to 8 times more but use half as much energy to provide the same amount of hot water (compare these two hot water energy guides for a standard and a heat pump from Lowes). Gas waters are also available with similar comparison results. One of the chief differences is that more efficient heat transfer means it is more difficult to vent cooled exhaust so heaters now have fans built into them.

Most tank heaters will last about 10 to 12 years depending on the water. Like it or not, the tank will eventually rust out and begin to leak. The best way to beat this is by using a whole-house tankless on-demand system. By heating water only when it’s needed, gas tankless water heaters cut water heating expenses by 30% to 60%, while also providing continuous hot water delivery. The drawback is they cost about on average 5 times more (about $1000; not including labor and additonal parts). Lifetime averages are 20 years. The point is that if you can cut your yearly bill in half, you are saving money. Let’s look at the costs this way:

If you go the tankless route, you can also eliminate the expense of replacement every ten years and save even more. Either way, you DO save money with Energy Star appliances and add value to your home.

Note: This is a collaborative post
Home & Interiors

Carpet Cleaning Dublin – Review

A couple of weeks back the very lovely people at Carpet Cleaning Dublin asked me if I would like to try out their service.  This was an offer I could never refuse! I see lots of people online embracing the cleaning craze thanks to Mrs Hinch and her army of so called Hinchers! Not me!! Don’t get me wrong I do keep the house clean and tidy but I don’t enjoy cleaning!

We have 2 arm chairs in our office/ play room and a cream (I know i know!!!) carpet in our sitting room so I thought it would be ideal to try out the service on these.

The company

A little about the company first.  Carpet Cleaning Dublin provide carpet and upholstery cleaning services around Dublin and surrounding areas. Their carpet cleaners are professionally trained for carpet, upholstery, leather cleaning and floor cleaning. They offer our cleaning services to all domestic or commercial customers, working with landlords, homeowners, tenants, estate agents etc In addition to carpets I was surprised to learn they also do rug cleaning, upholstery cleaning, mattress cleaning, stain removal and leather care. A huge plus too is their eco friendly credentials.  Unlike many services, they can provide 24 hour availability. Very handy particularly for commercial organisations I would think. They respond really quick and provide free quotes.

The Service

Two very polite team members arrived early that morning and straight away set to work.  They were ultra professional and efficient.  I was really impressed at the professionalism of the two team members who arrived to our house. A credit to the company no doubt about it.  It took a couple of hours to deep clean both and before leaving they advised that they couldn’t be used for 24 hours to let them dry out.

Overall

Hand on heart this was a fantastic result. I understand that not all stains may have come out but with two young kids, there was a mix of yogurts, calpol, milk  and all sorts which I wasn’t totally convinced could be removed. The before and after is opposite. It speaks for itself. Really fantastic job and and we are genuinely thrilled, so much so we plan on getting Carpet Cleaning Dublin back for our stairs and in time the kids mattresses.

 

I can genuinely recommend this service, professional, hard working and the result is even more than I had hoped. They can be contacted via the online form or the email and mobile on the site. Full marks from the Mamma Fairy house.

 

 

Home & Interiors, Mamma Musings

Top Tips for renovating your bathroom

You will have seen lots of our renovation ramblings on the blog over the last couple of years. Have finally (almost) come out the far side I though I share so tips on what worked and what didn’t! We ended up doing 2 bathroom projects. A total renovation and a new one. It’s funny a lot of people I have spoken too have said that one of the most neglected room in their homes was the bathroom which is ironic considering its such a frequently used room!

So here are my top ten tips for renovating your bathroom.  Hopefully this will be useful and do leave comments below if you have any others:

  1. Plan, plan, plan – by this I mean discuss your plans with the relevant trades well in advance and especially before you start buying anything. For example you may want to move a radiator or bath but this may not be possible logistically so talk to the plumber, the electrician etc well before you commence. Also worth considering here is the relevant regulations affecting your refit. Your plumber should be well versed on these and be able to assist and provide advice and guidance. One of the things I love to do is reseach, anybody that knows me knows how much research I like do to when I take on any project.  See fro examples resources like bath remodel Houston can really help.
  2. Features – bathroom tend to be one of the smallest rooms in the house so use what you have a feature. For example you could go for electric radiators which are not only functional but can serve a nice and also very useful feature.
  3.  Storage – if like me you have a strange habit of accumulating all sorts of lotions and potions consider your storage needs up front!
  4. Lighting – consider your lighting needs well before you start any tiling and don’t go over board! (im looking at you Dada Fairy!!)
  5. Showers head/ brassware – these parts particularly the shower head maybe used multiple times a day so buy the best you can afford. Have a look at quality places like Insignia Shower Outlet  Somebody once told me when renovating the bathroom buying the best your budget can stretch to is critical.  These rooms get a huge amount of use so do look for quality. Its so worth it.
  6. Layout – really consider the flow of the room at the outset particularly given the space may be small.
  7. Tiling – Shop around there can be huge variances in prices and quality so take time to visit plenty showrooms and even take them home to get a sense of how they will look in your own space.
  8. Colours – As tempting as it is to go for the latest fad or popular colour, id suggest keep the sanitary ware neutral and jazz it up with the coloured accessories as they can be changed far more easily and cheaply. At the moment im loving Moroccan styled bathrooms. Its the beautiful use of different textures that I have fallen for. Timeless and elegant.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post