Posted on Mar 24, 2013

Covert a Summerhouse into an Entertaining Space

It takes a lot of hard work to keep a home in good condition. For all of your family to live comfortably in your home it must be constantly clean and tidy. There are times however, that you wish you could just let go and have a party with your best friends or let your children play any games they want without the worry of your home being trashed. An easy resolution to this difficulty is to purchase a summer house as an additional garden building for your property.

Changing the use of your garden building

Although you may have installed your summerhouse to provide you with a relaxing area away from your home, it can double up as a play area for children or an entertaining space for adults.

The advantage of using a summerhouse as an entertaining space is that it can provide plenty of room for a number of people to enjoy themselves socially, yet is only a short walk into your house to access to your kitchen and other facilities.

Whether you already have a summerhouse or you are thinking about purchasing a new garden building, there are a number of additions that you can make to the summerhouse which will ensure that it can be used for a number of different activities.

When it needs to act as a children’s play area, a few beanbags and a lot of space provide a great environment, but if it’s to solely act as an adult entertainment centre, it might need to take a full-size snooker table and a bar.

Entertaining family and friends

When you organise a barbecue in your garden, you can’t rely on the weather to be great. This is where your summerhouse will prove to be extremely useful because your guests will be able to step inside from time to time or when the rain falls. For occasions such as this you should remove your favourite carpet and allow the great wooden floor to come into its own.

If you plan to hold barbecues out of the summer season, you will need to add heating and lighting to your summerhouse. Upgrading your windows to double glazing will provide some good insulation and some people have known to go to the extreme of providing under floor heating to make sure that the summerhouse can be used all across the winter.

The blinds or curtains that you choose for the windows will reflect the type of party that you expect inside. If your summerhouse is going to be used for multiple purposes, you’re going to have to find blinds or curtains that don’t match a 6-year-old’s bedroom or the nicest teahouse of a village green.

A bank of electricity sockets will help your garden building provide all of the power that is necessary for all occasions. Children will want to plug-in their games machines and even if they using portable models or tablet computers, these will always need charging after a short period of time.

For adults, a supply of electricity either from a solar panel or direct from your home will give you the opportunity of keeping food warm inside your summerhouse or access to hot coffee all the way through a Sunday afternoon party.

It takes a lot of thought to convert your summerhouse into an entertaining space for your children, your family and perhaps, your friends. Whichever decor and design you choose, you’re sure to have fun entertaining everyone.

Posted on Mar 10, 2013

Add an Extra Room to Your Home

At some time in the past, you have probably complained that there isn’t enough space in your house. You might think your living room is large enough, your dining room to small, your family room is over occupied, your kitchen doesn’t provide you with enough space and you really need a separate office somewhere else. There’s probably more than enough reasons in your mind to look at log cabins for sale so you can add a new room to your property, to provide you with all the extra space that you need a make your home more enjoyable.

Does it take a long time to have a log cabin installed?

To add a garden room from a selection of log cabins isn’t the most difficult process. You can look at entire ranges of log cabins for sale on manufacturer’s websites so you can see which styles will best suit you, your needs and your garden.

They offer an extremely positive way of adding space to your property, but the added value to your home will be seen because your home will be more user-friendly and if you decide to sell, the addition of a log cabin will add to your final valuation.

It is difficult to underestimate the joy from finding the extra versatility that your log cabin will provide for you.

What type of extra room do you require?

You could easily find and plan for your new purchase from the log cabins for sale lists. They make exceptionally good outdoor children’s play areas, by providing a tidy area to keep your children’s toys, rather than having them appear in every room in your house. By enticing your children outdoors, you will be encouraging them to take in activities out in the fresh air instead of spending all day behind a computer screen of one kind or another.

When your local gym membership fee is looking to high and the time and trouble that you take to have to visit your gym presents difficulties, you could always install a home gym in your log cabin, which will encourage you to exercise more often, but equally important, you can exercise for longer and whenever you want, rather than having to meet somebody else’s appointment schedule.

A log cabin can provide a perfect peaceful retreat if you need to find somewhere to get away from it all. If you’d like to spend an hour by yourself sipping a glass of wine or your favourite brewed coffee while you read a selection of novels on your e-reader, log cabins can provide you with an air of tranquillity, close to your home, but far enough away to avoid the noise of everyday life.

As almost everybody has become dependent on computer systems these days and storing all of their data in the cloud, selecting from log cabins here will provide you with the unit that can be set away from your home in your beautiful garden where you can spend all the time you need for home or personal use on your favourite computer, without being disturbed.

After you have purchased one of the log cabins for sale, it is short journey from installation to using your new garden room. Whether you’re going to operate a home business from your log cabin or use it as a hobby room, you can expect the other members of your family will wish to make comparable use of your new garden space.

Posted on Jan 18, 2013

How To Remove A Broken Gravel Board

Gravel boards perform an extremely important role in keeping water and damp areas away from your wooden fence panels. Any wood that becomes damp will eventually rot which may cause the wooden fence panels to collapse and the border of security and privacy that you installed, to fail in its service for you.

Gravel boards are usually made of either concrete or treated wood. However, if the gravel board itself fails or cracks, it may not be performing its task correctly and you may need to exchange it for a new one and that’s time to contact your gravel board suppliers.

Kick boards

Originally, gravel boards were always made of wood and called kick boards in the early days. They received this name because when the gravel board needed replacing, you simply kicked the board out of the way.

However, if the gravel board has been installed correctly, it is not a simple matter of just taking it out of the way.

A wooden gravel board will be attached to your fence posts to provide an additional element of security. You will need to remove the attachment before the gravel board itself can be taken away.

Concrete gravel boards can be attached in a similar manner to the fence posts, but because of their wholesome weight, the usually sit in place and allow the wooden fence panels to sit on top of them. When you need to remove a concrete gravel board because it has cracked and is no longer strong enough or secure enough to hold the wooden fence panels above it, you will need to remove the fence panel first before you can get at the concrete gravel board.

For the people that choose to leave their concrete gravel boards loose under the wooden fence panels, you can remove them by simply pushing the gravel boards out from under the wooden fence panels because fence panels are attached to your fence posts by panel clips and although they sit directly onto your concrete gravel boards they won’t fall down and out of the way if you remove the gravel board.

The fence panel will probably have to be removed

You will find a task of removing a wooden or concrete gravel board much easier if you do first remove the fence panel from above it as this will give you easy access to the board. Over time the board may not move easily because soil and pressure from surrounding areas will also be holding the gravel board in place so it won’t be easy just to slide it out, or kick out a wooden version if it is firmly in place.

Your task will be so much easier if you are able to purchase the exact same size of model from your gravel board suppliers. If you are unable to purchase the same size model you might need to move away some of the soil that has built up since you first installed your wooden fencing so that the wooden or concrete gravel board sits in the right place so that when you reinstall the wooden fence panel, it can go exactly where it was before.

Galvanised metal clips will help keep the board in exactly the right place and will stop people from taking it out from the other side. If you’re going to be using concrete gravel boards, you can simply predrill holes with a masonry bit and complete the same task as you would with a wooden gravel board.

Posted on Nov 16, 2012

Period Properties and Insurance

Buildings and contents insurance is there to protect what for many is their most valuable asset – their home. This takes on added significance if your home is of a particularly high value – especially if it is a period property, for which a specialist home insurance policy may be required.

The buildings insurance aspect of a policy covers the structure, bricks and mortar and permanent fixtures and fittings of a home against threats such as storm damage, floods and fires – each policy has different levels of protection. The contents aspect of a policy meanwhile, protects the items you keep in your home such as furniture, appliances and curtains.

The importance of decorating and maintaining a period property correctly

One of the reasons some conventional home insurance providers do not offer cover for period homes is because of the expense involved in repairing any damage. Non-specialist workers using inappropriate materials could seriously affect the value of the property with authentic materials, specialist stonework and experienced craftsmen required. Similarly, period properties may also be listed or situated in a conservation area and this further complicates the process.

If you do live in a period home then you may want to recreate the look and feel of the period whilst still enjoying your 21st century comforts:

-              Edwardian homes (from 1901-1914)

The underlying theme of interior design of the Edwardian era was simplicity, light and air. Avoid bright white paint, instead use off-whites or pale creams. Woodwork in soft woods such as pine, should be grained or else painted. Hardwoods such as oak or mahogany should be varnished or polished. Door fittings are typically brass, with plain carpets and curtains.

-              Victorian homes (from 1837-1901)

If you want to be authentic, carpets should be heavily patterned in dark green, red or blue. Bathrooms should be functional rather than decorated with pictures, ornaments or accessories – the most decorative item should be the suite itself. Do not remove dado rails and remember that wallpaper was the single most important element in the decoration of a Victorian room.

-              Georgian homes (from 1714-1820)

There should be a sense of elegance, proportion and symmetry to any decorating scheme with burgundy, pea green and Wedgewood blue some of the most popular colours of the era. Traditionally the door furniture from the Georgian period was cast iron painted black, rather than the brass ‘Georgian-style’ fittings produced today, while floorboards, window sills, doors and skirtings were often painted. Only expensive hardwoods, such as oak and mahogany, were varnished.

-              Tudor homes (from 1485-1603)

Tudor homes should feel warm, comfortable and cosy with heavy fabrics and drapes. Authentic Tudor homes will have extensive wood panelling and all woodwork must be left unpainted. Door fittings, if not original, should be in the original style – usually cast iron painted black.

Why is buildings and contents insurance so important?

Clearly replacing authentic items in a period home if they were stolen or damaged would be an expensive task due to their value and rarity. Meanwhile rebuilding a home of this nature could be financially crippling without support. In fact, if your property is listed then failing to restore it to its original condition could even lead to prosecution.

Look for policies that cover specialist materials and administration costs – if your home has a Thatch roof, ensure that is specifically covered against fire as part of the policy. If your home contains unique (permanent) fixtures and fittings from the period then ensure they are covered under the terms of the buildings policy and that there is no limit on individual items. Meanwhile, antiques and works of art should be covered as part of the contents aspect of the policy but again it is important to check the individual item limits.

Check the sum insured on a buildings insurance policy too. Many specialist insurers allow you to protect the home up to 125 per cent of its rebuild cost in case you run into additional expenses. Watch out for penalties for under insurance too – contents should be covered up to market value with new for old replacements.

 

Posted on Oct 4, 2012

Top Tips to Improve a New Garden

When you’re looking at potential new homes, there’s nothing worse than falling in love with the interior and then feeling your heart sink as you’re shown through to the garden. For many it’s a deal-breaker, especially if you spend a lot of time outside, but it doesn’t have to be. An unloved garden could bring the price of the property down, and there are plenty of easy ways to improve it once you move in!

Start from scratch

If it feels like there’s no way of salvaging the garden, don’t despair! If in doubt, tear it all up and start again. It may sound drastic, but it will make you feel more positive about getting it re-designed your way, and allow you to see exactly how much space you have to work with. If there are plants you want to keep, weed or dig around them, or transfer them to a pot while you work out a plan.

Stained fencing

If the garden hasn’t been worked on in a while, there’s every chance that the wooden fences in place need re-staining. This is important for both practical and aesthetic reasons; while re-staining will obviously improve the colour and condition of the wood, it will also protect it from the wind and rain. A good-quality wood stainer acts as a chemical barrier, preventing the fence from falling apart.

Paving

Use an interesting outdoor paving pattern to create a pathway or focal point in your garden. It’s much more durable than wooden decking, and looks great as a patio area for garden furniture or border to a water feature. It’s easy to install and involves practically no management once it’s in place, making it ideal for a low-maintenance garden. Think about the kind of look you want your garden to have – English country, or kitchen? Choose paving that matches a theme, and make small additions around it, for a quick and easy designer look!

Add some decoration

An ornamental garden can look lovely, but a more wallet-friendly version can be created with just a few statement pieces. If it’s big enough, large stone urns and statuettes can create a dramatic centrepiece, while in small gardens the same effect can be achieved with wall hangings and stone faces. Paint the connecting wall of the house to brighten the garden, and add some garden lighting such as lanterns, solar torches, or the more old-fashioned tea candle jars.

Garden furniture

If you’ve brought garden furniture from your old home, then working it into your new garden provides you with a starting point. Otherwise, it’s a great opportunity to think about what you’d like to have – table and chairs is nice, but is there room for a swing seat? A dedicated barbecue area is a nice touch, especially useful over summer, and can be made at home with red brick for an impressive and inexpensive centrepiece!

Posted on Oct 2, 2012

A Guide To Underfloor Heating

Introduction

There is obviously a huge choice of flooring materials available, depending on the look and feel you want to achieve in your home and the amount of traffic that each area experiences. High quality carpet may be an appropriate choice for high traffic areas, such as hallways, stairs or living rooms, while tiling – in stone, ceramic, etc. – is a fashionable and practical, option in areas where traffic is high and moisture resistant is required, such as kitchens or bathrooms. Vinyl or lineoleum flooring presents a resilient, easy to clean surface – that may, indeed, last up to 40 years, if properly looked after – but is economical to buy and easy to install. Real hardwood, or laminate, flooring, too, is readily available in a variety of woods, or wood effects and can add warmth – perceived and real, if installed in conjunction with underfloor heating – to a living room, or dining room, for example. Many wood products can simply be snapped together, avoiding nails, or glue, for easy installation.

Undefloor Heating Benefits & Considerations

Electric underfloor heating is becoming the most popular type, not least because it can be laid onto a wooden, or concrete subfloor without major disruption – that is, physically digging up the floor – and without raising the height by more than a few millimetres. This means that it can be installed during new build and renovation products. Furthermore, electric underfloor heating, nowadays, can be installed beneath almost any type of flooring, including wood, laminate, carpet and vinyl. Electric heating cables, or cables woven into thin heating mats, are typically available in output wattages of 100W/m2 and upwards and so can be installed beneath wooden or laminated flooring without risk of discolouration or damage to the floor surface.

Electric underfloor heating can allow the entire surface of a wooden, or laminated, floor to heat up quickly and provide a more natural temperature gradient in the room above than a traditional radiator system. Underfloor heating is also completely hidden from view, so you can do away with unsightly and intrusive, radiators, allowing you to arrange your furniture as you want to, rather than as dictated by the available wall space. The heat generated by underfloor heating systems is also drier and more hygienic, than that generated by traditional radiator systems; no convection currents, which can circulate dust, are set up and reduced moisture can prevent the growth of dust mites and other harmful organisms. Underfloor heating is also between 15% and 40% more economical to run than traditional heating systems and quiet in comparison, with no clunking or ticking of plumbing as it expands or contracts.

With regard to the installation of underfloor heating systems, many are designed such that they can be installed as a “do-it-yourself” project, or by a handyman of reasonable proficiency. Electric connections to in floor heating however, must be performed by a qualified electrician, in compliance with British Standards and Part P Building Regulations.

Posted on Sep 25, 2012

Tackling Common Household Catastrophes

Thinking about repairs and maintenance isn’t the most exciting thing in the world and many of us prefer to let things tick along without taking action on the basis that things might not go wrong in our homes, even if we know that there may be a potential problem out there. But, the fact is that taking good care of your home and garden is vital. This way you can prevent problems happening in the first place. And, the chances are, if you leave a small problem unfixed then it could end up costing you a lot more money in the long run.

Some household problems do come from nowhere but a surprising number come with some form of warning that action needs to be taken. So, your aim here should be to fix small problems to stop them getting worse. So, for example, a dripping tap may not seem like a big deal but you’ll be wasting water and your own money if it’s a hot tap. And, this could lead to something more serious: a flood for example, when a drip tuns into a torrent and the sink overflows. In cold weather, an uninsulated exterior pipe may freeze. Frozen pipes will often burst which could lead to flooding and electrical damage if the water finds its way indoors.

Some of the most serious household problems come with plumbing problems, clogged up drains, frozen/leaking pipes, boiler breakdowns and blocked toilets. So, for example, if you have an outside drain or guttering that gets clogged up with leaves then clear it out. If you leave it and the water cannot drain away then it may seep into the wall and cause a damp problem. Again, this will cost vastly more to repair than the few minutes it would have taken to clear the leaves away in the first place.

Avoiding these problems really is simply a case of keeping an eye out for potential problems and changes in most cases. So, make sure to check your drains, guttering, taps and pipes regularly and keep an eye on other systems in and around your home. Also make sure that you have your boiler serviced regularly.

In some cases, however, something will go wrong without warning and you’ll have a major catastrophe on your hands. The key thing here is not to panic and to act as quickly as you can to sort the problem out. If your problem is water based then turn the system off at the mains. If it relates to other utilities such as gas and electricity then follow the emergency instructions from your provider. Ensure that everyone in the home knows how to switch off the relevant supply.

Conclusion

If you do have some kind of household catastrophe then you will probably need the help of a professional handyman. The best way to find the right help here is to use people who are professionally qualified, fully insured and registered with any relevant trade bodies or associations. Or, talk to your friends and neighbours and ask for recommendations of good tradespeople that they have used in the past. In any event, try not to let a problem turn into a catastrophe into the first place. This could leave you out of pocket and inconvenienced as not all insurance policies will cover all eventualities — particularly if you were at fault in the first place. Another good tip here is to make sure that you compare house insurance policies before you take one out to make sure you get the right kind of emergency cover.

Posted on Sep 15, 2012

Kitchen Design

Kitchen brochures always contain breath-taking images of dream spaces with acres of uncluttered worktop and pristine draining boards. But how will those magnificent units look in your own kitchen?

Most of us don’t have the luxury of these vast rooms, and even those of us that do can rarely aspire to a kitchen where the only suggestion of human habitation is a freshly-opened bottle of Chianti. The kitchen is a practical, working area in which we have to work at practical things.

So, especially in the smaller kitchen, space management becomes of paramount importance. Fortunately, today’s kitchen units have usually been designed with this in mind, so your new fit-out will almost certainly be more space-efficient than the old. But there’s still a lot you can do on your own account to get the most out of your workspace.

Think Tall
Your first area for consideration should be the space above your work surfaces. Can you win extra storage by adding cupboards or shelves here? Remember that these cupboards should generally not be as deep as your work surfaces or you’ll be constantly bumping your head as you work. But you can break this rule in corners, where you’re less likely to be leaning forward.

Think Deep
Even in a small kitchen it’s often possible to win extra storage space by choosing deeper units. This reduces your floor space by an inch or two, but surprisingly it actually makes little or no difference to the appearance or usability of the room. By stealing a tiny amount from your floor area you can gain a surprising amount of extra cupboard space.

Use the Corners
Older kitchen units often waste the space in corners. Either that or you have a cavernous cupboard, the back of which you can barely reach, let alone use. If you have one of these it’s almost certainly filled with unused pans and old sandwich toasters. Unused space is wasted space. Think about a carousel unit – most can take the weight of saucepans and frying pans, and even those right at the back are within reach.

The Look of the Thing
So are those brochure photographs always beyond your reach? Not if you plan well and choose carefully. Extra storage space means clearer work surfaces, which will make your kitchen look bigger. It’s your work surfaces that contribute most to the aesthetic appeal of the new design, so keep them clear and think about adding a splash of luxury. Granite worktops cost far less than you might imagine, and there’s a deep quality to the real thing that can never be attained by laminates. If you do go for a laminate surface, make sure you choose a quality product that won’t scratch, stain or burn. And pay attention to edges and corners: well-made surfaces will be bonded and finished so that they won’t chip or peel over time.

If you’ve included above-worktop cupboards, think about including concealed lighting on their undersides. Light at this level, as well as making the kitchen nicer to work in, also makes it look bigger, and it enhances the look of those surfaces.

Always remember that your kitchen is a work area. Not only should you take the time to lay it out correctly, but you should choose units and surfaces that will cope with years of service and still look superb.

Posted on Jul 27, 2012

A Safe Home is a Happy Home

We all want to live as happily as possible but sometimes nagging doubts and worries can take away our peace of mind. Most of the time this is completely unnecessary and all we need to do is face up to our fears if we want to get over them. This is never truer than in the case of the safety of your family.

Sleep Well

Once the idea of burglars or intruders enters your head it is something which it is extremely difficult to forget about. It is impossible to know exactly how many people all over the planet toss and turn during the night worrying about such things, but it is sure to a huge number. What would help you sleep better? In many cases the simple addition of a good quality burglar alarm and some sturdy new locks could do the trick. It is now easier than ever to get hold of modern alarms, as internet sites such as the ADT one offer them at good prices now.

Leave the House without Worrying

Being in your home worrying about the security is one thing but leaving it empty is something else entirely. If you don’t have the well protected home you want then even short spells away from it can be extremely worrying. Thankfully, modern technology can come to your rescue.

For example, you can now set up a powerful CCTV system which acts as a visual deterrent to criminals when you are away from home. More than that, they also give you the opportunity to monitor your home remotely no matter where you are. If you ally this technology to old fashioned tricks such as timer switches and asking the neighbour to keep an eye out you can spend your time away from home with fewer worries on your mind.

Keep the Family Safe

Apart from these ideas to keep intruders out, you can’t forget to think about the potential dangers which are present inside every property. Exposed cables, rickety handrails and unstable pieces of furniture are all common causes of accidents. By going around the property and seeing what needs to be repaired or upgraded you can easily cut out a lot of the possible dangers for your family. This is a job which you only need to do every now and then, but if you do it right then you will feel a lot better about the level of security you can offer to your family.

About the Author:

Michael McGee is a crime prevention specialist who has many years of experience working on home security industry and regularly writes for ADT UK.

Posted on Jun 22, 2012

Bathroom Decorating Ideas

If your bathroom is starting to look a little out of date, you may dream of a remodeling project. However, remodeling a bathroom takes quite a bit of time and even more money. If you don’t have the budget to get you through a complete remodel, but you feel as if you have to do something to update the room, there are plenty of cheap and easy things you can do to make your bathroom look more like new. Here are five ideas you can use to freshen your bathroom up with a little color, a few new accessories and even a bit more organization.

1.            New storage

If you have toiletry items cluttering your counters, your bathroom might look small, old and tired because of the clutter. In order to reorganize the bathroom and get rid of the clutter, you should go through the room drawer by drawer and take everything out. Whatever you do not use, or find that you don’t really need, throw it away or find a new home for it. By doing this, you may find that you then have extra space in your drawers and on shelves for the items you normally have out on the counter. If not, try adding a shelf above the toilet or in another location to clean up the overall look of the bathroom.

2.            Towel bars and hooks

If you need more space in your bathroom, but you simply don’t have much room, towel bars and hooks can work wonders. Put a towel bar next to your sink so you can hang your hand towel instead of laying it down somewhere. Put a hook next to the shower for your robe or your towel. Hooks are good because they take up a small amount of room and can really streamline the look of your bathroom.

3.            Add furniture

In larger bathrooms, you can really do quite a bit to the room by adding a new piece of furniture. The piece doesn’t have to be large. It can be a simple armoire for storage or even a small chair where you can sit to put on your socks in the morning. Any piece of furniture can help soften a space by adding a little style. If you have a small bathroom, consider adding something like an ornate jewelry box to the countertop near the sink. A feature like that can add some color and warmth to the room.

4.            Paint

Nothing can change the way a room looks faster than a new coat of paint. You can brighten up the bathroom by painting it the same color as before, or you can completely change its appearance by choosing a new shade. Make sure whatever color you pick will fit in with the existing counters and floors; otherwise, you will feel you need to change those as well and you may not have the budget to follow through with that project.

5.            Hardware

If you don’t have a lot of time or money, you might want to think about just changing the hardware on your drawers and doors in the bathroom. When you buy new door handles, you might be surprised by how much they can change the overall look of the room. The handles will look new and shiny and they can really create a new style for the room.

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