28 Sep 2017

Why Windows Can Be A Focal Point


Windows were a wonderful invention. Light comes in, faces look out, and we choose to forget that time there was a tax on them and had them bricked up as a result. Yet windows can act as a focal point for any room, and can incorporate feng shui quite well in room setups. So what can do you with a window that makes it prettier, focused, and a whole lot more interesting to look at from across the room?

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Curtains Can Be Pretty and Practical

Curtains keep a room insulated, keep light out when it’s not wanted, and just help complete the look of a room more than anything else. Plenty of lining can be used to bulk up some old material if you need. 

Before buying some curtains, get a fabric or colour sample and hold it up to the light. You don’t want to be misled by colours that look natural in any other way except with daylight. You can get a huge range of made to measure curtains from any shop or site, and they’re usually perfect for your needs seeing as you designed them! Depending on your fabric, your curtains will need to be replaced every few years. You can even have a summer and winter pair if you fancy it. 

There’s Always Some Sun To Catch

Even when the rain is beating down against the panes, there’s some light for you to catch. Maximise on the sun’s rays and change your rooms around to make the window a focal point for this reason. 

If you have a darker room in your house or flat, then you’ll need to identify them first of all. Rooms like the bathroom or the hallway or more likely to have a lower source of natural light, so focus on these first. 

For a bathroom particularly, you can use mirrors to get a lovely reflective effect. Be careful not to overexpose your four walls though, as you don’t want to walk in in the middle of the night, turn the light on, and get hit straight in the eye with a direct beam!

The Sound of the Rain is Therapeutic 

Hearing the sound of rain beating down against the glass of windows, or even dripping off the panes can be quite relaxing to some. It’s a form of white noise that can help put us to sleep, or maybe wake us up. Either way, having a window to connect you to the outside world even when you’re stuck indoors can be a mind saver. 

Placing a plant in front of a window helps to further symbolise the element of nature. After all, sounds of nature are common albums you’ll find in the soothing section of record stores, or in the genre sections online. You won’t have to fork out for the rainy season however. 

Windows were designed to let light in and people look out, but there’s so many ways to customise then, with stickers or decals if you so fancy.  


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20 Sep 2017

7 Steps To A Pretty And Practical Kitchen


Having a pretty and practical kitchen can help to give your home the ‘wow’ factor. The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the home. Just think of the many ways you use it! Maybe you use it to cook, eat, entertain friends, and take care of work at home. That makes this room one of the most important and multitasking throughout the whole house. Having both a pretty and practical kitchen is essential to get the most out of it. Here are 7 steps you can take to create your own!

Figure Out How You Use Your Kitchen Most

Write a list of the ways you use your kitchen currently, or the way in which you’d like to use your kitchen. If you want to use it to entertain friends, but you just don’t have the space, is there a way you could add more space? Perhaps you could go open plan, or get rid of cabinets that don’t get a lot of use. When you figure out what’s important to you, you’ll be able to create the most beautiful kitchen that you love spending time in.

Come Up With Your Favorite Theme

Coming up with your favorite theme can be tough, especially with so many out there. However, there are all kinds of places you can go for inspiration. Pinterest is a great place to start, or you could just ask a reputable company like Cane Brothers Kitchen Company for advice on the space you have now. When you have a theme you know you won’t get bored of, you’ll love the look of your kitchen.

Look At Your Kitchen Like A Clean Slate

Try to look past what your kitchen looks like now and look at it like a blank canvas; a clean slate. Start all over again. How could it look if you were to gut it out and start all over again? You’d be surprised at what you can create when you look at it like this! 

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Make Sure Your Lighting Is On Point

Lighting in the kitchen is crucial. You need task lighting to prepare food, and you may even need it if you like to work in the kitchen. Make sure you have the right bulbs, and that they are placed in the right areas too. If they’re in the wrong place, they could start casting shadows that will hinder your cooking!

Add A Focal Point

Having a few focal points in the home is a great way to create interest and add personality. In the kitchen, it’s a good idea to do this with your backsplash. You can easily create a great display of pretty tiles without having to spend too much money or time.

 Make Sure You Have Plenty Of Space For Prepping Food

You're going to need lots of space for prepping food, so make sure you have that. This is the reason kitchen islands have become so popular!

Ensure You Are Using The Space Optimally

Are you really using your kitchen space optimally? Is there a better lay out, or something you could get rid of to create a better space? There are apps you can use online to help you.


Have fun creating a pretty and practical kitchen!

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19 Sep 2017

Giving Your Home That Natural Look


Neutral colours, wooden textures and plenty of green plants are the hallmarks of a nature-inspired home. Whether you’re just starting out with DIY interior design or if you’re thinking about shaking up the feel of your home with the help of a contractor, consider giving it the natural makeover with some of these fantastic tips.


Choose Your Colours
Colours play a huge component in natural-looking homes. The types of colour you want to use are whites, greens, and other natural colours such as beige and light browns. The beige and brown colours emulate the feeling of wood, and the white colours are neutral and can go with almost any decor arrangement. It’s a good idea to mix some darker browns or even blacks to contrast with the lighter colours. Most of these colours can be achieved through natural means. For instance, if you use natural wood in parts of your decor, then you’ll automatically get the browns. If you use lots of plants in your home such as Chinese Evergreen or Aloe Vera, then you’ll automatically get some beautiful shades of green to mix things up.
Mind Your Materials
It was mentioned briefly in the colour section, but materials can add a huge dimension to the natural feel of your home. Using high-quality timber, such as from the likes of George Hill Timber, to make your own furniture or bolster decorations is far better than using random scrap bits of wood. The texture, feel and colour of high-quality timber is fantastic and breathes some natural life into your home. If you want to be even more decorative, then taking tree stumps and converting them into end tables or even seats can add style as well, but this requires a lot of patience and work. Make sure you avoid carpets as much as possible too and replace them with wooden floors instead. If you don’t like the feel of wood, then perhaps laminate flooring would be the ideal replacement. It gives you the look and colour of wood but is far easier to maintain than hardwood flooring.
Design Your Details 
Lastly, let’s talk about the unique touches you can add to give your home a welcoming natural feel. The types of plants you use are important. Although you should try and make them green as often as possible, there are some exceptions. For instance, Lavender introduces a pleasant smell into a room and looks beautiful in a pot placed on a coffee table or on a kitchen counter. Be careful because these smells can be overpowering for some people, so try to keep them as subtle as possible. Another good detail to remember is the type of ornaments and decorations you put on your shelves. Things like books and toys will stand out and ruin an otherwise natural-feeling room. Instead, try to add small plant pots, bowls, jars and other small details that fit the rest of your decor. Keep all of the clashing elements in cupboards and boxes to keep them out of sight.
Hopefully, these tips have given you some insight into how you can introduce a natural feel into your home.



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12 Sep 2017

Stay In Touch With Your Roots Even When You're Abroad


Digital technology has transformed virtually every aspect of our lives. Few of us could have imagined twenty years ago (if you’re old enough to remember) what a difference it would make to the simple things in life, like staying in touch with people abroad. But the communication revolution has totally transformed our world, meaning that even when you go away for a year to the remotest parts of the planet, you can still stay in touch with your roots. 
It wasn’t always like this, of course. In the past, if you wanted to phone home - and phoning was usually the only method of communication - you had to find a payphone, load it up with plenty of credit, and enjoy perhaps a five-minute conversation with a loved one. Today, though, communicating while on vacation is either very cheap or totally free.


Here are some of the ways technology allows you to stay in touch while you’re abroad. 


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Blogging 

Blogging about one’s adventures while traveling was once a really niche activity. But thanks to Wordpress, Blogger and other tools, telling people about your travels is easier than ever. You can set up a blog for free and post text, pictures, and videos of your experiences for all to see. What’s more, it gives you the time and space you need to communicate effectively, without having to think up everything on the spot during a phone call. What’s more, it gives you a kind of permanent record of your experiences. 

Low Bandwidth Communication Apps 

Not only do blogs contain photos, but they also document your emotional experience and provide context. Skype, Zoom and other live video streaming apps are all well and good for keeping in touch if you travel to a developed country with 3G or better connectivity. But what if you’re on a gap year or a career break in the Amazon rainforest or the Mongolian steppes? How do you stay in contact then? 


Quite easily, actually. Today there are apps, like Viber, which work similarly to Skype but skip the video. In other words, you get all the same functionality as Skype, but your bandwidth requirements aren’t nearly as high. You can do things like voice calls, send texts and send images and the system works on practically every platform, including Android, Apple, and Blackberry.

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Postcard Apps

There’s nothing quite like receiving a physical postcard from somebody you love abroad. If you’re in a tourist hotspot, picking one up is usually pretty simple. But if you’re in the middle of nowhere, or well off the beaten track, it might be a bit more challenging. A postcard app, however, can solve this problem. Rather than having to go and find an actual postcard, postcard apps allow you to specify what message you want to send on the back of a card and then instruct somebody to send it out on your behalf. No more looking around for tourist shops - you can send a card straight from your phone. 

iMessage

Two apps, iMessage, and Facetime are great companions for owners of Apple and Android devices. They allow you to call whoever you want from your laptop or cell phone, giving you a chance to both see and hear your family, no matter where you might be. Facetime and iMessage are ideal for people who know they’re going to be away for the holiday season, allowing people to stay in touch for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Easter and other events in the calendar. 

Create A Call Schedule 

If you’re in a different time zone, it can be a challenge to stay in touch, especially when the difference is more than 9 hours. But organizing a schedule with loved ones and setting aside specific communication slots can really help. If you miss a slot or the call doesn’t connect straight away, send a message immediately saying that you’re trying again. 

Dropbox 

Communicating about your travels isn’t all about picking up the phone and having a conversation. It’s also about showing people what you’ve been doing and who you’ve met. Data services, like Dropbox, are perfect for this kind of thing. You could upload all sorts of things to the cloud to show people what you've been up to on your trip, including photos and music you’ve heard. You can also use Dropbox to keep family updated on your activities if it’s nighttime where they live. Dropbox gives users 2GB of data for free - plenty for photos and sound files. You can also get access to more space if you get a friend to sign up to the platform.


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11 Sep 2017

Adding Unique Touches To Your Home



Some say that your home is a projection of your personality, and it's easy to see why. We spend our lives changing, rearranging and updating parts of our home to make it suit us and our lifestyle. It can be as simple as repainting the walls, or as extreme as adding an extension. Either way, it is clear to see that everyone likes to add part of themselves into their homes and make it feel like an extension of ourselves. 

Will some forward thinking, you can transform, recycling and bring new elements to the home with little effort and time taken out of your day. From adding cushions and blankets, painting the walls and even buying new furniture...Every little change makes a difference to the overall vibe of your home. 

Family Photos

Family photos are the ultimate way to personalize your walls and make it feel like the ultimate home. You can add personal pictures to the home in several different ways: either hang up family portraits, make a colorful collage out of holiday photos or opt for a classic canvas on the wall. 

Art
Wall art is an amazing way to add color, vibrancy, and life to any nook and cranny in the home. If you are creative, you can even create your own images to hang up around the house. And art doesn't just mean pictures; you can find cute little signs and posters to adorn your walls and spruce up the place. 

Gadgets
The fun part of being a homeowner is the ability to play around with your electronics and add some quirky gadgets to each room. In the kitchen, you could have a garlic zoom, race car pizza slices and even a tap which runs boiling water from Tap Warehouse. You'll never need to wait for the kettle to boil again!

Repurpose Old Furniture
Pop onto GumTree and take a look at others in your local area. You will find antique, and vintage furniture for a fraction of the price and they might even deliver it to you. To spice up the living room, why not buy a small table and update the surface with some sticky-back plastic? You can immediately turn an old table into a statement piece. 

Driftwood Shelves

Shelving is great for practical reasons, but also for decoration. If you find that you have an ample wall space with nothing to fill it, you can make a couple of shelves to place up there and decorate them with candles, plants, and ornaments. Driftwood is full of character, and you can create unique, rustic shelving for a fraction of what it could cost. 

Accent Cushions
Cushions are a girl's real best friend. When in doubt, buy some fluffy cushions, and everything will immediately look brighter and more put together. Pairing a tartan throw with gray cushions would be a great way to decorate your sofa for winter.

Festive Touches

When it comes to sprucing up your home and adding unique touches, there is no better time than Christmas to play around with decorations. Adorning your home with festive wreaths, fairy lights, and a magnificent tree is a surefire way to make your home stand out. 

Use Books

Books are not only great for reading, but they also offer attractive decorations for the home. Authors and Publishers don't spend hours designing books so that you can just hide them away in a cupboard, put them on show and make a feature out of them! You can even get creative and arrange them in color order if you really want. 
  
Bring The Outdoors In

Your home is a sanctuary, where you escape from work, relax and spend time with your family. Outdoor space is the ultimate calmer, and can really make a huge difference to stress levels and your mood. Instead of leaving your garden on the outside, why not bring some of it in? House plants produce oxygen and have proved to clean the air and make you feel relaxed and at peace. Give some plants a home in your house, add some succulents to your shelves and grow your herbs in the kitchen. 

The Front Door

The front door is the first thing you and visitors see when they approach your home, so why shouldn't it reflect your personality just as much as the rest of the house? Find your favorite color and paint your door a quirky color. It not only adds character to your home, but it will also protect your door from damage. It's a win win! 


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10 Sep 2017

The Dos And Don’ts of Decluttering


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Is your clutter getting out of control? Have you been considering a clear-out? Many people will attempt to take on their hoarding habit only to give up midway or make a half-hearted attempt at it. In order to make a real impact, you need to take an organised approach to reorganising your home. Here are a few of the important do’s and don’ts that will spur you on to efficiently declutter your home.

Don’t buy a bigger wardrobe

Buying extra storage solutions isn’t the way to effectively tackle clutter. It simply allows you more space to hide your hoard of items. In fact, buying a bigger wardrobe may only spur you to buy more clothes to fill up the newly acquired space. Focus on getting rid of stuff, rather than creating new space to put it. You’d be better off reducing your storage space (for example, opting for a clothes rail rather than a wardrobe as available from kmart.com.au could force you to own less clothes).

Do try and sell and donate things


You don’t want to chuck everything in a skip. If you can make money by selling something, you should do it. It’s worth checking books and old heirlooms that could be worth something. You may be able to donate other items. If something is broken, you may then want to consider throwing it away, although there may be options for recycling it.

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Do try the closet hanger method

You may have heard of the closet hanger method. It involves rearranging all the clothes hangers so that they’re facing towards you. Every time you wear a piece of clothing, put it back in the cupboard with the hanger facing the other way. After a few months, you’ll have a clear idea of the clothes that you don’t wear – these should be the ones you get rid of.

Don’t buy new things when decluttering

The aim of decluttering is to own less stuff, so don’t replace what you’re getting rid of with new items. Wait until you’ve completely cleared out of your house and then think about buying new possessions. The moment you replace something you already have, get rid of that pre-existing item – this will prevent clutter from building up again.

Don’t give yourself time to back on your decisions

You may have put a load of clothes to one side for the charity shop or you may have items bagged up in the loft. Don’t hang on to these too long, otherwise you may be tempted to rethink your decisions, reclaiming items that you were originally going to throw away. Use a service such as samedayrubbishremoval.com.au to get your clutter swiftly removed. If you’re selling items, give yourself a day after decluttering to target the shops and put things online.

Do have a helping hand 


There’s no shame in getting a friend or family member to help. Offer them dinner or even payment to help. If anything, they will be able to take a brutal approach to decluttering, convincing you to get rid of those items that you think you want to keep but really don’t. 


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5 Sep 2017

Edible Forest Festival Returns To Charnwood



A feast of food and drink events showcasing local produce in iconic settings, taking place from 15-17 September 2017




The popular Edible Forest Festival will return to Charnwood Forest from 15-17 September 2017 to celebrate the area’s local food and drink offering. Edible Forest 2017 will present a series of unique food-related events including ‘Tea in the Tower’ and ‘The Secret Gourmet’, in some of the Charnwood Forest’s most iconic settings.


Events taking place during the Edible Forest Festival 2017 include the return of the popular Tea in the Tower – a traditional, delicious tea, full of the finest local produce and served in the unique setting of the Old John Tower in the heart of Bradgate Park. All tickets for the Tea in the Tower events sold out in less than 24 hours last year, so early booking is advised.


In a rare opportunity to experience two of Leicestershire’s top chefs cooking together, people can enjoy an exclusive gourmet banquet celebrating Charnwood forest-inspired produce with leading chefs, Paul Leary and John Duffin at a surprising heritage venue, deep in Charnwood Forest. There will also be Cocktails and Canapes, Sausages and Cider, and a unique family experience organised by Muddy Boots, specialists in wild learning and outdoor play.


For more details on the Edible Forest Festival and to book tickets for the various events, visit www.edibleforest.co.uk.


The Edible Forest is developed and promoted by Leicestershire Promotions, with support from Charnwood Borough Council, The National Forest and Everards. 

Chris Traill, Strategic Director for Neighbourhoods and Community Wellbeing at Charnwood Borough Council, said: “We’re proud to support the Edible Forest Festival. The Festival represents a niche platform to promote the rich variety of local food and drink producers in the Charnwood Forest. These businesses are gaining a strong reputation for high quality produce so this is a terrific opportunity to showcase their delicious food and drink in unusual and imaginative surroundings that will entice existing and new audiences.”

Martin Peters, Chief Executive of Leicestershire Promotions, added: 


“Following on from last year’s successful inaugural festival, we’re delighted to bring the Edible Forest back to Charnwood. The Charnwood Forest is a beautiful setting and the quality and diversity of the local produce from the area means that we can offer a series of unique events to suit every palate.”



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