Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Importance of Equipping Your Kitchen for Fine Dining

In your home it is not in the lounge or dining room where the heart is, this will be in the kitchen. This is the most important space in the home, and this is because food is what brings people together. It is in this space that you will be cooking up all kinds of fantastic meals to share with your family, and you may even find that you do a fair bit of socializing in the kitchen too if you have the space. This means that your kitchen needs to look great, but also be fully kitted out so that you have everything you need to make a range of meals.

Your kitchenware acts like furniture to the kitchen as it adds character, and you will need to have all kinds of different items so that you can properly cook, and you will also need attractive plates, cutlery and more. If you fancy yourself as a bit of a chef then you will understand the importance of having all the right equipment in your kitchen, and this will allow you to try out new recipes and expand your menu. Even if you are not much of a cook it is still important that you have a fully equipped kitchen, as this will encourage you to learn more and not limit your progress.

What you Need in your Kitchen

For the cooking stage you will need chopping boards, kitchen knives, pots and pans, baking trays, cake tins and plenty more, and with all of this it is important that you invest in quality. Investing in quality allows for proper cooking and the materials will not deteriorate over time too, as with cooking you will be putting them under a lot of strain and exposing the materials to very high temperatures. Equally as important as the cooking materials are the dining materials, and this will include cutlery sets, plates and bowls, a range of glasses, mugs amongst a few other things. Again it is a good idea to buy quality items, and also stylish ones too as this can really add a lot to a meal if you have stylish plates and cutlery.

To buy everything you need to make your kitchen the heart of your home you will want to visit a specialist supplier of kitchen equipment, like Viners, as specialist suppliers carry the leading brands and the best quality items.

$25 Target Giftcard + GE reveal® light bulbs!

*** This giveaway is no longer accepting entries – scroll down to see who won!***

A few weeks ago I shared a post about GE's new reveal bulbs that offered crisp, white light, instead of the typical dingy, yellow light bulbs typically let off. 

Now, I figured that there would be a difference since I've seen several before and after shots, but man this was serious business.  I noticed a change immediately after I switched out my bulbs, but what really caught my eye were the photos that I took of the room with both types of bulbs.  The difference reveal bulbs make is tremendous!  I typically never take photos inside at night because of the yellow lighting, but now bring on the nighttime, indoor shots!  I am no longer ashamed that my house looks dingy and dark. 

Everyone should be able to experience your home with the proper lighting, so I am sharing a GE reveal® Coupon and giving you a chance to win a Target gift card + reveal light bulbs. See details below on how to enter:

Enter to win a $25 Target Giftcard + GE reveal® light bulbs!
A quick and easy way to makeover your home for the New Year is to switch your light bulbs to GE reveal® for clean beautiful light that will make the colors of any room pop. GE reveal® bulbs provide amazing clean full spectrum light that filters out the dull yellows of standard incandescent light bulbs.

Watch this fun and stylish video featuring four hip tastemakers discussing the importance of good lighting and how quick and easy it is to do a reveal® lighting makeover.

GE reveal light bulbs are now available at Target where all makeover needs can be purchased in one swoop and with great savings using Target's Cartwheel savings app. With the Cartwheel app, you can browse for savings ahead of shopping or while at Target, you can scan the barcode of any product to see if there is a Cartwheel saving.  Download the Target Cartwheel app on your IOS or Android.

Target Coupon + Cartwheel Info

Check out Target’s Cartwheel app for 25% off GE reveal® light bulbs. Just search “GE reveal” to find it. Offer expires 2/28.  (Download Cartwheel on your IOS or Android)

You can also print off the coupon below for amazing savings on GE Reveal bulbs at Target.

$2 off GE reveal at Target - Print the coupon at home and use at Target. Expires 2/8

You can also print and use the following coupon for even more savings:
$2 off GE reveal at Target -  Expires 2/8 We have a great opportunity for you to win this makeover experience. You can enter to win a $25 Target giftcard + GE reveal® light bulbs + a free download of the Herbert Bail Orchestra EP (first track featured in GE Lighting video). Just share this post on your social media and let us know which room you would like to makeover with GE reveal® light bulbs!

Share to Enter:

  1. Must be U.S. resident
  2. Share this blog post on your social media and comment below
  3. Tell us which room you'd like to makeover
  4. Hashtag #GEreveal + #Targetgiftcard

This giveaway will close Friday, January 31, 2014. A winner will be chosen at random, using a random number generator.

Our lucky winner (as selected by Random.org) is… Tracy S.  Congrats!  Thanks to everyone that entered!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sold in Seconds: How to Make Your Home Sellable

With the British housing market showings showing signs of recovery, now might be a good time to sell your home if you’ve been putting it off during the economic crash. Although you might think that selling a house might be easy – whether through an estate agency, auction, or a house buyer such as Harry Rose – there are always more ways to maximize profit to help your home sell for a high price in a short amount of time. 

Shabby Chic Interior Style
Taking a brief look at the home section of Pinterest will tell you that one of the most popular trends in interior design is shabby chic.  One of the best things about the style is that it revolves around white painted walls, and giving your home a lick of white paint will give it a ‘like-new’ image, while also being inexpensive DIY task to complete, as white is the least costly of all paint colors.  Finish the look with distressed wood and plenty of soft, patterned furnishings like throws and rugs.

Maximizing Your Outdoor Space
Whether you have a small backyard or a sprawling garden, there’s no reason to leave your outdoor space in disarray, as a presentable garden with plenty of potential can often be one of the most attractive features to a new buyer. If you’re limited for space, look at space-saving measures such as hanging baskets filled with flowers and sweet-smelling herbs and potted plants which allow you to turn a patio into a mini garden. If you’ve got lots of space, make sure it’s well-kept by trimming the grass, edging your flower beds and weeding the soil.  These basic tasks might take only a weekend to complete but they’ll make a huge difference to the presentation of your outdoor space when a buyer comes along.

Price-Enhancing Measures
Adding value to your home takes more than simply making it presentable inside and out.  Real value comes from adding things that buyers want. If it’s a fitted kitchen, look at the kitchen sections of second-hand and classified add sites to find a good deal. Alternatively, stripping your floors of carpet and putting down an inexpensive wood flooring might be the best way to add value to your home.

Ultimately, if you’re looking to get the most for your home when you come to sell, you’ll need to put in a lot of time and effort.  If you can do this, however, you’ll be able to ensure your home reaches its selling potential.     

Friday, January 17, 2014

Rustic Inspiration for Your Home

Whether you live in a country cottage or a contemporary apartment, that longed-for rustic design is within reach. Rustic homes tend to be quite simple and timeless, taking inspiration from rural farmhouses of the past. A rustic atmosphere in your home will make it seem cosy and inviting, even on the coldest winter days. There is nothing stark of clinical about rustic designs, as they rely on natural materials and interesting, touchable textures. Don’t be afraid to allow the natural world to really be part of your home by adding bunches of flowers, branches in vases and bowls of beautiful shells or stones.

Stick with earthy tones to create the ultimate rustic feel for your home. Shades of green, tan, slate, brown, grey and amber are all recommended. If you want to add a lighter tone to a particular room, choose cream rather than white and a soft caramel rather than any acid or cold colors. Adding colour to a room doesn’t have to involve painting the walls. Try colourful lampshades, cushions or throws to introduce new tones.

Natural Materials
If you want to create a stylish and versatile rustic design in your home, the easiest way to do this is to choose natural materials. Welcome the outdoors into your property by utilizing salvaged wood and stone and making use of a variety of different textures. Remember that a rustic look can be achieved by the layering effects of fabrics, soft lighting, stripped timber and stone. Try throwing a patchwork quilt or a tartan blanket over a leather sofa to really combine textures.

Choosing Rustic Furniture
When choosing furniture, go for unusual antiques or simple wood designs, like those available from Shackletons. If you’re on a budget or don’t fancy purchasing an antique, why not ask your parents whether they have any gems hidden up in the attic? You can’t really overdo the use of wooden objects, so why not consider using logs as tables or seating? If you’re buying new furniture, go for pine in a mid to dark tone. Metal worked furniture is another attractive option, particularly when coupled with softer textures and subtle wall and floor colorings. A rustic design relies on your ability to keep all the elements in balance with one another and achieve a harmonious space.

Light it Up
For small rooms, try to light on all sides and include the ceiling, walls and flooring to make the space appear bigger. Lighting can make or break the design of a room, which is why show rooms in catalogues always look amazing even if you’re not particularly keen on the furniture in them. They have been professionally lit, and it makes a huge difference. For a rustic style think natural and plant motifs when choosing sconces, lamps and main fixtures. A warm glow is always preferable to harsh white light, so consider using darker lampshades in soft tans or caramels. Make sure every colour you choose compliments the overall ambience of your rustic home.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

3 Student-Proof Housing Ideas for Your Property-to-Let

Although students are technically responsible adults, they can sometimes be prone to making a bit of a mess at home.  If you’re a landlord looking to rent your property out to students, you might want to consider making adjustments to your furniture arrangement so that you have to replace less of it after the students move out when the tenancy is up.  Here are 3 of our favorite student-proofing suggestions.

Flat Pack
Arguably, the maintenance of the furniture in the flat comes low on the list of priorities of most students, so you shouldn’t really spend much money buying expensive items which you’d have in your own home.  For a start, this would force you to raise your monthly prices beyond the ability of most students, but it would also be a waste of good furniture, as it’s likely there’d be an accident at some point. Therefore, stick to easily-replicable flat-pack furniture which looks nice but doesn’t cost a fortune.

Lino and Laminate
Carpet is a good insulator, but it’s difficult to clean and it is very easy to ruin.  Cigarette burns, food stains and muddy shoes all make carpet very easy to spoil, and then you’ll have to spend a few days over the summer term ripping it out and replacing it.  Instead, use more hardy materials like lino in the kitchen and bathroom, and an inexpensive laminate flooring in the other rooms. If you do go down this route, you’ll probably have to purchase some inexpensive rugs to keep the heat in, but these won’t be very costly to replace and they add character.

LED Lights
Depending on how kind of a landlord you’re going to be, you may or may not provide light bulbs for your student tenants. On the one hand, students will flock to you if you do, but on the other, they’re expensive to replace. A good compromise might be to buy LED bulbs, which are costly up front, but they essentially last forever, so you should never have to replace them until they get smashed.  They’re also extremely energy-efficient, so running costs should be low, too.

If you’re looking to let your property to students, it’s wise to follow the housing ideas above.  Once you’ve put these measures in place, contact an online property search engine like DSS Move to get your property on the market.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Handy Hints for Buying a New Kitchen

The kitchen is often the most important room in the house, particularly in a family home. If you are unsatisfied with your kitchen or it’s very old and difficult to clean, some of the pleasure of food preparation can be lost and you won’t want to spend time there. A good quality kitchen that functions to a high specification is essential in a modern home, but many people are daunted by the size of the task and the disruption to their daily lives that the fitting of a new kitchen represents. Nevertheless, there are plenty of tips for making the process as hassle-free as possible.

Choosing the Company
Look for a company that gives you a free quote and a substantial guarantee. Better Kitchens offer a five year guarantee and provides a quote-beating service. Do your research on the company you’re considering buying from because no one wants to pay for shoddy, late work or overpriced components. Check out their previous work and detailed customer reviews. It’s always useful to know what criteria you’re looking for so get clued up on the technical terms! Throughout the project make sure you collaborate with the designer so they understand exactly what you’re after and the risk of disappointment is minimized. Make sure all items arrive in perfect condition before you allow them to be fitted.

Counters are Key
Countertops represent the biggest single expanse of color in your kitchen and provide the basis for the rest of the kitchen’s palette. The material you go with should be durable and easy to clean. Granite, stainless steel, natural wood and zinc are all popular choices. If your counters are dark, choose a lighter backsplash. Stick with one countertop material for consistency. If you’re not sure about how different colored counter will look, there are some great kitchen design ideas that can give you a feel for it.

Cabinets Count
Cabinets are especially important as they reoccur across the kitchen and often end up being, at eye-level, the first thing you see. Light colors keep the space open and bright. If you want your kitchen to last, go for quality cabinets with 18/19 mm width and solid backs. Some professionals will advise against using hardboard for cupboards and drawers as this material warps over time.  If you have a small kitchen, it’s worth considering space-saving corner units and ditching oversized fright-freezers for something smaller and more compact. Never underestimate the power of lighting, fixtures, hardware, ornaments and barstools to tie the room together.  

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

3 Up-Cycling Projects to You Help Sell Your Home

Although the UK housing market is slowly climbing to its feet, getting the best price for your property is another thing altogether, so by using a few good up-cycled items, you can help to really make your home stand out.  Up-cycling is a popular way of turning old or disused items into desirable products that are at the centre of your home - here are 3 of our favourite up-cycling projects.

Mason Jar Soap Dispensers
Mason jars can be used in a variety of ways all around the home, but one of our favorite ways to make them into something practical and stylish is to turn them into soap dispensers.  All you need to do is drill a hole in the centre of the jar’s lid, fill the jar with soap and then screw the lid back on and fit a pump from an old soap dispenser into it, trimming the bottom of the pump to fit the size of the Mason jar.

Oar Curtain Rod
You might not have a spare boat oar just lying around at home, but if you go to a second-hand store or look at the local adds online you’re likely to find one in reasonably good shape.  Take your oar and hang it above your window – make sure the oar’s long enough to cover the entire window with curtain.  Next, sew curtain rings onto your curtains and then place them through the oar – and you’re done.

Ruler-Topped Table
Do you have any of those old rulers lying around from your school days?  If you do, you could put them to good use by measuring them up to fit the top of an old side-table and using a strong wood glue to stick them to the top of it, creating a piece of statement furniture you’re bound to get a lot of use out of.  One of the best things about this item is that it up-cycles two things rather than one – you can use the oldest of old tables because you’re just going to cover the top of it regardless.

So there you have it, 3 up-cycling projects that are sure to give your home more character and help you to sell.  When the time’s right and you’ve made your home as sellable as possible, get a quote from a company like Quick Move Conveyancing, as they’ll be able to give you a true estimate of what your home’s worth.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

2 Ways You Can Recycle Your Green Waste And Soil

Everybody should be doing their part for the environment. And for most of us, the best thing we can do is recycle, recycle and recycle some more. Some companies have started recycling soil to save it from being dumped in tips, and you can do the same in your garden too. There are 2 ways you can recycle your green waste and soil in your garden: composing and mulching. In what follows, we’ll explain what each is about.

Most of the green waste from your garden, and organic matter from your kitchen can be mixed in with your soil (in the form of compost) to provide a more fertile base for your plants and trees to grow. Compost helps your garden grow stronger and healthier, and helps the soil stay in place – especially helpful in torrential down pours. Indeed, garden soil in Melbourne can easily be washed away during a heavy storm, and you’ll want to prevent this from ever happening to your garden. So make sure you compost and help your garden retain its beauty.

Using your green waste and soil in your mulch can work wonders for your garden. Sufficient mulching helps your garden retain more water (thus helping it become more sustainable and more drought resistant) and improves its overall health and vitality. Make sure you use at least 3-4 inches of mulch on your garden beds and around your plants and trees. Fallen leaves and twigs are especially useful in a mulch; however, grass clippings are not. They can smother the soil, and block the passage of oxygen into the deeper soil. Same goes for weeds. These pesky plant critters can be a real nightmare for any garden.

Most of the organic material that comes out of your kitchen, or that can be found in your yard can be recycled and put to good use in your garden. Use them in your compost and mulch and create the ideal backyard escape for you and your family.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Three Ways to Avoid a Home-Building Disaster

If you’ve got the right 'can-do' attitude, the knowledge and the funds, building your own home can be a challenging yet rewarding way to find your perfect home.  This doesn't mean that it will be easy, but by taking the correct steps, you can avoid a home-building disaster with the end-result being a beautiful home fit for you and your family.

 Calculate a Realistic Budget
Building a home is certain to put a strain on your finances, but with some careful planning and budgeting you'll be able to find the appropriate funding to make your time easier.  There are two main sources of funding you'll need to search for: first, a construction loan to help you buy any materials and building equipment, and second, a mortgage.  Your construction loan must accommodate for all your building costs, so don't forget to account for everything- from digging out your plot using a JCB (available online from places like Scott-JCB), to the costs of basic brick and mortar. Having these essentials covered makes your budget accurate, so you don’t make the mistake of thinking you have more money than you actually do.

Build a Team of the Best People
A sure-fire way to fail on your mission to build a house is to believe that you can do everything alone.  In reality, nobody builds an entire home by themselves, and you’ll need the support of a large team of experts who can advise and help when things get too technical.   As best practice, you should try to create a team of people who you know and trust, as they’ll be more motivated to work alongside you, particularly when deadlines need to be met and hours get longer. 

Establish a Detailed Action Plan
Your budget and your plan go hand-in-hand, and while you’re constructing a realistic budget you should be coming up with a detailed action plan of every step of the house-build process.  One of the areas you could fail in is sourcing all of your materials for the fairest prices, so having a rich depository of traders and suppliers who pursue business in your local area will give you a leg-up in a process which is a real challenge to begin with.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Things to Consider When Choosing a Home Builder

Choosing the right builder for your dream home is a tough decision. There are so many building companies out there to choose from, and they all claim to be the best. If you want to have a smooth and satisfying working relationship with a home builder, who can construct your home up to the minutest details, make sure you consider the following.

Do they have a proven track record?
Whatever construction company you choose, they should have a proven track record in the home building industry. A high quality builder will have scores of satisfied clients and a great reputation. Ask around for some feedback on your shortlisted home builders and try to verify customer references too. You will know whether a home building company is good if most of the feedback is positive. There are several ways on how you can check the reputation of the builder to ensure that you get the best value for your hard-earned money. So spend some time asking around and doing some gentle probing. It will be worth it in the long run. If you’re looking for a home builder in Canberra, Today’s Homes have a proven track record.

It’s vital that the home builder you choose to build your home is a competent professional. Not only should they be able to construct the design you have drawn up, but they should also be knowledgeable enough to suggest what’s best for your home construction, and answer all your questions. A high quality building company should also provide some input when it comes to the design, and construction phases of the process, and provide key advice about what kinds of materials to use in the construction of your new home. You can usually judge how competent they are through their past work. Also, make sure the home builder you contract with is licensed. Although you may gain to save a few bucks with an unlicensed builder, you may encounter problems down the line.

Another important consideration to make when choosing a home builder is their professionalism. You want to hire a company that handles every facet of the home building process with care and professionalism: from accurate project scheduling, budget allocation, materials to be used for the construction of your home, the actual day-to-day operations, insurance of subcontractors, and safety standards. Everything should be done with professionalism, and always in a way that’s most beneficial to the client. Quality should be stamped on every area of the builder’s work. You can learn whether you’re dealing with a professional home builder by asking the builder relevant questions, checking up on previous works, and references.

Spending the time necessary to find the best home builder for the task of building your home is absolutely essential. Not only will it ensure that you get the most bang for your buck, but it also means that you’ll be getting a high quality home at the end of the construction process. Take note of the above when choosing your home builder, and hopefully you’ll pick a building superstar that will bring your dream home to life with the minimum of fuss and frustration.