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Home & Interiors

Our sitting room makeover with DFS

Over the last number of years on the blog you will have seen references and posts about our renovation project. We are so very close to completion. The final piece of this mammoth undertaking was the sitting room. We decided that this would be the last room completed. Its the first room you meet when you come in the front door and what we really wanted was a calm, relaxing, clutter free place to chill out together as a family or to entertain family and friends when they called over.  We deliberately took our time on this as we wanted it to be perfect.

Generally my house is like any home to young kids full of toys, food stains. I had the kids well warned in advance that the new sitting room would be a food free zone!  There are plenty other places to eat in the house, the sitting room just wont be one of them.  Life in the Mamma Fairy is hectic, from full time work, to school work, to kids sports/ activities and day to day living therefore quality downtime is paramount, that’s time to chat, converse and enjoy each others company. I suppose in reality the sitting room is the heart of our home. If I was on Home of the Year I would be putting the red circle here as my favourite spot.

Here a little pic of the before, there wasn’t anything wrong with it as such but it didn’t invite or encourage that vibe that I wanted to create.  The wallpaper  had got to the stage I pretty much couldn’t look at it any longer, I was so sick on my second wee man that I spent days on end staring at that while on bed rest.  The mere sight of it brings back those emotions.

The Dada Fairy is in the construction business so he is mega fussy and incredible safety conscious about all work that goes on in the house and products we buy. Quality products are of paramount importance and he knows quality when he sees it 🙂

The products

A little drumroll please……………………and here is the finished product. I love love love it, its exactly the vibe I wanted to encapsulate, calming, welcoming, soft natural tones.

Panelling

The panelling was completed by Customised Creations by John O’Shea.  We paid for this ourselves, not sponsored or gifted in anyway, we are just extremely satisfied customers. The carpenters who were on site with us were professional, discrete, and so tidy in terms of cleaning up after their days work. The spent some very long days and nights here to get finished up in time for Christmas and we are very grateful for that.  Honestly, would have no hesitation in recommending them. We have had them back since to do built in wardrobes which I will also be sharing on the blog when completed.

Sofas

I’m not sure many purchases generate as much argument debate than the purchase of the sofas in a house.  I really thought I wanted leather, thinking about the kids and cleaning the inevitable spills etc, however a visit to DFS provide a wealth of valuable information.  You can get the fabric sofas coated with a stain proof prior to delivery to overcome this very obstacle.  We fell head over heals for the Zinc collection, fitted my brief perfectly, natural tones, relaxed yet stylish.

However one of the lesser known facts about DFS sofas are that have been awarded the BSI Kitemark indicating they reach the highest possible standards and are guaranteed for 15 years.  That to me shows a dept of confidence in their brand. 15 years of bottoms on seats, of kids jumping around and they are willing to stand over their product for 15 years?? To my mind that shows trust in the quality of their brand.

DFS has was the first and only UK and Ireland furniture retailer to be certified to the BSI Kitemark™ for upholstered furniture.  The BSI Kitemark is one of the most established and  recognized symbols of quality and safety throughout the world thus giving consumers an independently verified quality seal of approval.  Interestingly as a result DFS factories will now receive annual audits to ensure this consistent high standard is met.

 

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Home & Interiors

Keep your Home Warm with Stylish Heaters

keeping warm

Pic Credit: Pixabay

The last thing we want when we’re lounging around at home is to be cold, and although we can wrap up with a blanket or jumper, it’s just not the same as being wrapped up in the heat of the house.  Although we may have timed the heating to come on when we get in from work, and we’ve even popped the fire on, sometimes getting warm can be hard – especially given the harshness of the UK’s winter weather. But what about heaters?

Although you may have an image of big and bulky electric heaters that just spoil the room, you can get a wide selection of stylish heaters these days from places like Coopers of Stortford. Let us talk you through your modern-day portable heating options.

Style and Substance

Of course, the last thing you want is something hideous in your living, dining or bedroom. But today’s heaters are a long way from the historic ones you can remember. Now you’ll find them in sleek, slimline designs that resemble something of an Apple product, which sit wonderfully in the corner of your rooms just waiting to be switched on to give you that extra blast of heat.

Old School Charm

Of course, maybe your décor theme isn’t modern, which would make an Apple style sleekly designed product a bit of a no go. However, even if you’ve gone for an older style of décor in your home, you can still find a wonderful electric heater that’ll add a little bit of décor magic to your home, while also bringing that extra bit heat. You’ll discover this in stove style designs that look like old fashion fireplaces, but are on hand for that added warmth when needed.

Hidden Away

Perhaps you prefer a more minimalistic style in your home, in which case the sight of a portable heater, regardless of how sleek and slimline, is just going to stick out like a sore thumb. But that doesn’t mean you have to accept that little chill every now and then. Instead, you can opt for mini heaters that can be easily hidden away. But how you may ask, well that’s easy. These mini heaters can be plugged into the wall like an electronic air freshener, meaning it can be hidden away at all times, depending on where you’ve chosen to plug it in.

And there you have it, three quick and easy ways to add extra warmth to your rooms at all times, without affecting the look of your home.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post
Home & Interiors

Upgrading sash windows to keep the kids safe

Single glazed sash windows look beautiful, they are extremely elegant, and fit perfectly into a period property but they do come with a few drawbacks. These include being noisy, could, draughty, but most importantly if you have young children, extremely unsafe. In this article we will take a look at why single glazed sash windows are unsafe for children and what can be done to improve them to give you peace of mind.

Single glazed sash windows are unsafe and what to do about it

  • Thin glass is dangerous – One of the main reasons single glazed sash windows are unsafe is because of the slender glazing.
    red sash window

    Old Style Sash windows Pic Credit: Pixabay

    Originally sash windows were made with just 2.5-3mm single one glass. This was partially down to cost but just as much technology. Glass this thin breaks far too easily, if you have an original sash window with this thickness of glass it can literally be broken with a sturdy tap from any heavy object. This doesn’t have to be a hammer, something as soft as a tennis ball would be enough to break the pane easily. This normally occurs on Georgian sash windows more that are broken into several panes. The smaller panes gave rise to thinner glass which was viable. A large sheet of 2.5mm thick glass would break far too easily. For larger panes the thickness normally starts at 3mm which is still very vulnerable because of the surface area in total. If a child leant into a pane of 3mm glass firmly it would be a serious problem. So much so, it’s a legal requirement to have a minimum of 4mm glass installed into your sash.

 

  • What to do about thin glass in your sash windows – Luckily you have glazing have two obvious solutions. The first is safety laminate glass. This breaks in the same way as the windscreen on your car. So if an object strikes with enough force it will not break into many pieces, instead the sticky film in-between both panes of glass will hold everything together. Not only is this much safer because it eliminates the risk of your child cutting and seriously injuring themselves on the glazing, it also means that if they were playing a bit rough they wouldn’t be able to fall through the glass as it’s much safer.The other option is toughened glass. This process is exactly the same as the side and rear windows on your car. If struck hard enough, it will shatter into thousands of small pieces. This is a very good solution for your home, to date I haven’t seen an example of toughened glass break in a home and there are many sash windows companies installing this type of glazing that come with an excellent reputation.  To protect kids and adults alike any glazing below 800mm in height, be it sash windows or door need to be toughened or safety glass. This is a legal requirement.

 

  • Single glazed sash windows can open fullywhen a catch is undone a sash window can open fully. Normally the lower sash in most standard properties is at a height that would allow children or toddlers to climb out. This is a serious risk and it makes most parents screw sash windows shut or lock them and never open them. Since the meeting rail where the sash meet and the catch holds things closed is up high enough, that seems to be the average solution but doesn’t solve being able to safely use your window.

 

  • What you can do to remedy a sash window opening fullyThere are sash windows companies that sell security restrictors that are installed just four inches above the lower sash. This means that you can lift your sash four inches but never need to worry about the gap increasing. This makes security restrictors the ideal solution for sash windows and this upgrade isn’t all that costly either, normally in the range of £12-£18 per set. You’ll need an 8mm drill bit and a hexagonal key to install them.

 

In summary traditional sash windows are dangerous but with modern technology there’s no reason you can’t keep your windows as they do look very lovely in a period property.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post
Home & Interiors

How Safe Is Electric Underfloor Heating?

Heating the floor in a room is not a modern concept as the Romans had this technology two thousand years ago. However, it is a concept which is seeing a resurgence in popularity, especially in small rooms such as bathrooms. With one of the most popular systems to heat the floor being electric, it is a common question as to whether it is safe to have this in a room that gets wet such as a bathroom. The short answer is yes!

large airy sitting room

Pic Credit: Unsplash

How Does An Electric System Work?

An underfloor heating works by placing a series of wires on a mat creating a heating mat. These mats are then installed on the base floor level, and the floor goes on top. The systems vary in wattage between 100W and 200W, and the wattage your room will require will depend on a few different factors. It is essential to consider these factors as ignoring them could leave your room too hot or too cold.

What You Need To Consider

The first factor that you will need to consider is what the floor surface underneath that you will place the heating mats on top of is like? Ideally, the mats will be placed on top of a layer of insulation to help ensure the heat travels upwards. You will also need to consider how much insulation the room already has and if it is well insulated, you will require lower wattage mats. You will also need to look at the shape as well as the size of the room to work out how many mats you will need t heat the room. The last consideration is what the floor surface on top is going to be? If you are using brick, stone, or even a thick tile, you may require a higher wattage heating mat than if you used a wooden floor.

Installing The Heating System

The metal wires are all connected and sensors are also installed. The heating system is then connected to the mains supply and thermostat control unit. The sensors will help to regulate the temperature and stop the room from getting too hot. When you install a new system, it may take a bit of adjusting to get the temperature just how you want it, so do not be afraid to play with the settings.

Connected To Your Homes Circuit Breaker

As you will be using the mains supply to power your underfloor heating, it means that the system is also going to be protected by your circuit breaker. The heating maps will usually be covered in a thin layer of a concrete screed, and then the floor material you are using will be placed on top of this. With the electric cables being enclosed in a thin layer of the concrete screed, it gives them sufficient protection from water to ensure that the wires are kept dry. Electric underfloor heating is more popular than a water-based system, as they are much easier to install. You can get lots of excellent information on various websites on electric underfloor heating that gives you a detailed look at this type of heating system.

Note: This is a collaborative post
Home & Interiors

A Guide to Antique Bureau Styles

There are many styles of writing desks, or bureaus, as they are also  known, which is hardly surprising when you consider that furniture was designed in all corners of the world. Some of these styles have stood the test of time and if you are thinking to add some character to your study with a period bureau, here’s a brief guide of what is available in the antique market.

  • Mazarin Bureau – An early version of the “knee hole desk” that has two recesses to accommodate the knees.
    antique desk

    Pic Credit: Unsplash

    These first emerged in the mid-17th century and have two or three tiered drawers on either side, with a single drawer above the knee space. Stylish support with either 4 or 8 turned legs that are strengthened by X or H shaped stretchers gives this piece a distinct look and this Louis XIV era item is usually superbly decorated with Boulle Marquetry. A classic writing desk that has no doubt inspired many European writers over the centuries.

  • The Butler’s Desk – A short, compact desk with a drop-down front and a noticeably square look, this piece is ideal for the writer that has many items. Behind the writing surface are many small drawers and slots and there are 3 or 4 drawers underneath the writing surface, this mid-19th century item was extremely popular in England for around a century and there are many variations – a few actually have a sliding door on the lower section that reveals numerous drawers. Of all the antique bureau styles, the Butler’s Desk is quite a common piece and would look great in the right environment.
  • Cheveret – A tiny and delicate looking desk typically used by ladies in the mid-18th century, popular in England and all parts of the British Isles. Who knows how many love letters were answered while sitting at this desk? The ideal item for the career woman with style, this petite desk serves well in a room with limited space.
  • Ship Captain’s Desk – Rugged and sturdy, as one would expect from a vessel-based writing desk, the ship captain’s desk is narrow and has a sloping writing surface, ideal for writing in the captain’s log during those long and stormy voyages around the world.
    writing desk

    Pic Credit: Unsplash

    Many clever little compartments and cubby holes can be found to accommodate the many objects a seafaring captain would use. Ideal for an attic study, this robust item was also used by military commanders in the field of battle. This style was prominent in America and Europe in the late 19th century. Earlier version were quite basic and they became more ornate over the period of 80 years and were to be found in many manor study rooms across England.

  • Front Fall Desk – Very practical, this solid piece of furniture originated in Spain during the 16th century and would usually have 6 deep drawers across the lower section. The drop section was fashioned to look like another layer of drawers when closed, giving it a balanced look. There are many versions and some are exquisitely adorned, making a perfect feature in the aristocratic office. This sturdy desk was the foundation of the emerging European middle class.

There are many other styles on the market, and if you are planning to acquire one for your study, browse a few online antique dealers and you are bound to see all of the above, plus a good few other styles that might just be what you’re looking for.

Note: This is a collaborative post
Home & Interiors

Where to Invest in Your Home This Summer

With the summer in full swing I always find it is the ideal time to start preparing your home for the Winter months especially as this type of work often requires some more structural type work. I have set out below some tips which might be worth considering this Summer to ensure your home is operating efficiently.

Tech all the way 

I am a little obsessed with the movement towards smart living. We both work full time, have two young kids and love to travel so we can be gone from the house for long periods of time.  In an increasingly tech focused world the possibilities are almost limitless, control your heating, hot water, sockets even smoke detectors all remotely. Receive instantaneous updates about things happening in your home and perhaps you are the other side of the world. Its not just convenience though, its also improving energy efficiency with smart boilers and heating controls too. Certas Energy have produced a really useful infograhpic that goes through a huge range of the smart home possibilities that are currently available giving you the benefits and a indicative price. In terms of out own house, we have a Google home device, smart Plugs, smart Thermostat and smart security system which can all be controlled by our phones and even better from anywhere in the world if needs be. I remember last year in the depths of winter coming back from our epic trip to Lapland it was so cold, so wet and so dark. We landed at the airport, I popped the lights at home on, the heat and hot water on and it was just so lovely to come home to. Next on the list we are looking at installing the heating oil monitor and the smart doorbell.  If you haven’t yet tried any of these it it is well worth researching with lots of helpful hints in the graphic below.

 

Insulation and drafts

All the smart gadgets in the world wont be a home that has some critical structural issues more efficient therefore it is important to get that basics right too. One of the most important aspects of keeping your home warm is making sure it’s well insulated. You could be pumping heat into your rooms all day, but if it’s escaping through your old windows and through cracks in the doors, you’ll still struggle to keep warm. If you don’t already have loft insulation, or what you have is getting on a bit, you should arrange for new insulation to be installed to stop warm air escaping through the roof. Windows and doors are the next most likely culprits when it comes to poor insulation. If your home has old windows or doors that don’t fit properly, and you haven’t got double glazed units, it’s worth looking at getting them replaced. If you have an older home, you needn’t worry about having to put UPVC frames in, because companies like Timber Windows Direct can make bespoke double-glazed wooden windows to fit any age or period home.

Heating and hot water

energy efficient

Pic Credit: Pixabay

If you’re using gas or oil, how old is your boiler? Do you have it serviced regularly and have you taken out an insurance policy to cover you for emergency repairs if it goes wrong? Boilers are one of those things that tend to get ignored when they’re working but can cause havoc if they break down. If you don’t have a modern condensing boiler, chances are you’re spending more than you need to on oil or gas, as older boilers aren’t as energy efficient as newer models. Installing a new boiler isn’t cheap, but if you consider the cost savings you’re likely to make, plus the reassurance that you’re less likely to have problems with a new boiler, then installing a new one could be a wise move. Having a service schedule in place will ensure your boiler is professionally maintained, and your engineer will be able to advise you when you should consider replacing it. Insurance against breakdown will give you further peace of mind, and help avoid expensive repair bills.

A combination of minor structural updates combined with smart living is bound to increase energy and overall efficiency in your home. I can attest to the benefits of taking time to do this.

Note: This is a collaborative post
Home & Interiors

Using radiators as a feature…latest trend

A couple of years back if you said to somebody you were using the radiators as not only a incredibly useful piece of equipment but also a feature in your house, people would think you are crazy.  For a few years there was the trend of radiator covers which if im honest I never really got fully on board with.  However having all but completed our own renovation works which necessitated a complete overhaul of the plumbing system we decided to replace all the 1970s bulky rads.

After much deliberation and a little gentle persuasion from the Dada Fairy we went with black vertical radiators in the vertical “Nevo” design.  

vertical raditator

Pic Credit: https://www.traderadiators.com

Choosing vertical radiators

Who knew there was so much to consider when purchasing radiators from lots of different sizes, to BTU’s, to single or double panel not to mention the valves etc.  I learned so much when choosing ours, I think even the Dada Fairy was impressed.  We consulted in depth with our plumber to ensure we got the most for our budget in terms of heat output.  When they started to arrived to the house, ill admit I panicked a little…they were big and very dark. I suppose sub consciously we were used to the white horizontal radiators. I remember my mothers face when she saw them,no words necessary!!!

Once the walls were painted and the rooms completed the radiators got fitted and wow. The difference they make to the room is insane. They are quite literally the talking point for most people who visit.  The best advice I can give is to shop around, if like us you might be  lucky and find a great deal on vertical radiators. 

Do also consult your plumber and relevant tradesman as foolishly I was only concerned with the aesthetics of them. There is naturally so much more to consider.  Almost 2 years on do I still love them?…..absolutely!

I love that they  are such a striking feature, they are ultra modern and blend effortlessly into our new extension.  I  also love how efficient there are in terms of heat output and most of all I loved how budget friendly they were.

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

 

Home & Interiors

Hall, stairs and landing – renovation tips

We are so close to completion, I can almost feel. The very last piece of what has been a very large and complicated jigsaw puzzle will hopefully fit into place very soon. The last room we have to tackle is not so much a room but one of the key elements of the home. Its the first point of entry, it the thoroughfare to all other rooms. Naturally it gets a huge amount of traffic and with a house of men, it can at times be filled with sports gear, work boots and the school bags.

hall and stairs

Pic Credit: Pixabay

One tip I have learned throughout this mammoth renovation was to leave this room until the very end, for the very reason I set out above and below. As the renovations progressed on the other rooms, the hall had tonnes of traffic from the various different trades lugging tools, wood and other materials up and down the stairs.  Inevitably walls got scuffed, skirting damaged and door architrave strained.  I am very glad I listened to the Dada Fairy!  Before we commenced the major renovation works he insisted we leave this space until all else is done.  Admittedly I reluctantly agreed.   I suppose I really didn’t appreciate the traffic this area would get and the rough and tumble that would come with the movement of so many bodies and materials around it.  But I am very glad I did listen!!

Top Tips

So with the above finally drawing to a conclusion. Its time for the hall and landing to get its makeover.  Aside from the above of leaving it to the very end, some other useful tips I have picked up along the way include:

  • Washable paint – you will thank me later. Honestly well worth the extra spend especially if like me you have little hands who prefer to use walls than the bannister
  • Give time and consideration to the type of skirting and architrave you want.  Just to show how clueless I am about this I thought there was only one standard type! However there are lots of different options, including different materials and sizes. You can even get custom built and designed skirting!
  • Take samples home, I cant stress the importance of this enough. Something can look brilliant in the large, bright and airy showroom but take it home and it can swamp a space.
  • While there are lots of “how to” you tube tutorial available. If you aren’t DIY minded consult an expert. Its isn’t the easiest of task when you factor in the stairs, corners etc.
  • Take your time… its the first point of entry for guests to you house so make this space count!!

 

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

Features walls – im a little obsessed!

I know everybody is probably well and truly fed up of listening to my renovation tales. It has been a crazy but fulfilling couple of months. We are now inching ever closer to having the house completed exactly to the spec and design that we wanted. Yes it took a lot longer than I hoped, it also went over budget (that a whole other post!) and it probably did put some strain on marital relations!

One of the biggest bones of contention around here was under stairs toilet v under stairs storage.  I was firmly in the camp of storage, im thinking school bags, sports gear, endless pairs of shoes and runners. The Dada Fairy wanted the downstairs toilet. His thinking was handy for the kids save them running upstairs, handy too for visitors and their school pals. So after much debate I reluctantly agreed to the downstairs toilet.

bathroom sink

Pic Credit: Pixabay

The space is teeny! Add to that the fact it will actual be quite a visible room being in the hallway. I wanted to keep the base neutral but jazz it up. I have visited a local show house and they had a feature wall where the toilet and cistern sat and I really liked it.  It added depth to the small space and almost made a talking point of it.  So off I went researching feature walls. Who knew there was so much choice out there! We ended up going for stone split face tiles in grey keeping with our neutral tones around the house. The tiles are are actually suitable for indoor and outdoors.

I would strongly advise ordering samples and trying them out in your space. I originally thought I wanted the exposed red  brick look but having taken a couple of samples home it just did not work when compared to the cool neutral tones around the house. Its funny  how something can look fab in a show room or even show house however we you take it back to your own house it just doesn’t work. That’s a really long winded way of staying take some samples home!

The Dada Fairy did the work himself which was great as he is in the building trade. However for the non DIY among us there are lots of helpful guides an how to tutorials online. I’m hopeless at DIY thankfully the Dada Fairy doesn’t mind tackling it otherwise we would probably be still living in a building site.

The bathroom is almost done and ill hopefully have a big reveal shortly.  I haven’t told him yet that I think he was probably right to push for the downstairs toilet!!!

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

 

 

 

Home & Interiors

Central heating, so many choices?!

oil heating

Pic Credit: Pixabay

With the time of year that in it naturally all our attention has turned to turning back on the heat. We have been lucky to date and its been pretty mild but I think the time has come to think about it again. For most of us this side of the world the cost of home heating can be quite a substantial bill this side of year.

When we moved into our house we had lots of decisions to make regarding our central heating system.  The previous owner had gas installed half way to the front driveway and an oil burner out the back. However the oil burner was as old as myself so we need a new central heating boiler. 

Who knew there was so many choices available for boilers and heating systems available.  It wasn’t a concern in our old house as we inherited the gas system and just went with what was there but this time around having to select the type of system and type of boiler meant lots more decisions to be made.

I think like anything when it comes to home renovation or new builds it is critical to shop around and talk to the relevant tradespeople.  Its also important to know and understand your own objectives and requirements and to discuss how they might fit in with your budget constraints.  I remember somebody once saying to me invest in the items like wiring, pluming, heating buying the best you can within your budget.  Consider the longer term and the potential saving particularly for the likes of heating systems  This is particularly relevant with advent of lots more eco friendly heating systems and them becoming so much more mainstream and affordable.

Has anybody an tips or comments on their current heating system? If so id love to hear them in the comments.

Note: This is a collaborative post  however I retain full editorial control.