Is this the end of open-plan living?

Interior glazed sliding doors

Over the last two decades, the trend for open-plan living and wall-less dwellings rose faster than you could swing a sledgehammer; however, over the past few years, we’re seeing a complete reversal in interiors trends with home-owners opting for more traditional, segmented living spaces.

There are various reasons as to why this could be. The practicalities of an open-plan living space are not as obvious as you might think. Downsizing all the possessions and knick-knacks you acquire over the years is no mean feat, not to mention the daily struggle of keeping every surface clean and tidy if you have children or room-mates. In fact, families who have previously opted for open-plan living are reverting to traditional, divided rooms as a more practical way of living, according to Jane Green from the Telegraph. Individual rooms provide quiet sanctuaries for homework, reading and watching your preferred Netflix series, and people are suggesting they prefer to cook in the kitchen in peace, without having the constant interruptions from a television that can be seen and heard over the worktop.

circular dining table and turquoise-pained chairs

There is no doubt, it seems, that separate rooms provide areas of sanctuary and quiet which in turn, create cosier, more inviting spaces to spend time to undertake your preferred activity of relaxation. One might even argue that segmented rooms are actually driving families back together in a more traditional sense, since the kitchen and dining room are becoming device-free zones, promoting a healthy appetite for dinner conversation.

Dog on a lap on a sofaWith this in mind, we’re thinking about the more conventional ways you could furnish these individual living rooms without compromising on style. First things first, retrieve that box of ornaments from storage and choose a selection of objects that will look fantastic displayed in a bespoke alcove bookcase by The Bookcase Co. Think about quality curation, carefully selecting objects that work well together based on a specific colour palette, as opposed to quantity.

A slim and stylish desk for homework or working from home is essential. This mango wood version from Swoon is effortlessly chic and compact and will fit in alcoves, smaller rooms or even under the stairs.

Enormous three-seater and corner sofas might work well in gargantuan open-plan living areas; however, smaller spaces call for smaller sofas. Create cosy nooks for books with a two-seater sofa from Arlo & Jacob. The perfect size to snuggle up to someone, or stretch out and make the most of some quality alone time.

Dining table & chairs with a tall cactus in the backgroundA well-placed rug can instantly update your interior, bringing with it warmth, pattern and texture. They also help to create zones, if you do happen to have a room on the larger size and want to break it down further. You’ll find a vast selection of traditional and modern rugs from OKA, with the option of wool and cotton, amongst others.

To avoid areas becoming too dark and closed off, this slender floor lamp by Perch & Parrow is fashionable and functional; perfect to shed some light on those newly created cosy corners of your living room.

Updating your home style for the winter months

Winter exterior

A new season is upon us and with it comes the challenge of transforming the home. For a season with a reputation for being boring, winter is often viewed as a tricky month to bring into the home. The blues & greys usually associated with winter are cold and uninviting, but it is possible to emulate the warmth and cosiness and sparkle and glamour of winter. Here are two easy to do themes that are guaranteed to bring a touch of winter beauty and character into your home this Christmas without leaving you shivering.

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Winter wonderland

This winter theme is for those looking to inject a touch of class, sophistication and glamour into your home. It’s all about silver colours and sparkle, emulating the sparkle of the frost and the snow and capturing the sparkling beauty of the frosty winter months (not the cold, though!).

  1. The living room

Turn your living room into a winter wonderland by swapping your centre light for a beautiful chandelier. Get some gorgeous sparkly candle holders, light some scented candles and watch the light dance off the crystals. Silver scatter cushions with plenty of sparkles are great for creating a cosy, winter-themed sofa. Instead of bright lights this winter, use candles and lamps to create warmth.

  1. The bedroom

Snuggle into your very own winter wonderland. Swap drab boring furniture for beautiful mirrored furniture. There’s plenty of different styles to choose from – plain glass, or smoky coloured, depending on your style. Swap your bedspread for something glittering and beautiful. You don’t have to stick silvers and greys either; rich purples and royal reds also ooze winter sophistication. There are plenty of places to find bedspreads, including JD Williams.

Winter log cabin

Rustic log cabin

If you’d prefer a more home-made, cosy winter feel, the log-cabin theme is the one for you. It’s all about rustic colours, mismatched furniture, dim lights and rustic fashion.

  1. The living room

Swap heavy lights for lamps and candles to create a cosy, warm, rustic hue this winter. Snuggle up on a sofa that’s covered in comfy scatter cushions. There are plenty available this season in reds, greens and oranges – all with beautiful patchwork patterns or reindeer images. Nature themes are great for this time of year. The more handmade, the better. Drape a patchwork blanket over the sofa, ready to grab and snuggle underneath on those cold nights. Drape some multi-coloured lights across door frames and windowsills to capture the festivities of the season and add some much-needed colour and warmth to what would otherwise be a drab and cold winter.

  1. The bedroom

Carry on the theme of mismatched and rustic style into the bedroom by investing in a patchwork quilt, knitted throw and heavy curtains to block out the cold air. The best colours for the bedroom to instil warmth this season are reds and oranges. Candles and lamps create a beautifully warm and inviting glow. Christmas decorations are usually reserved for downstairs, but a couple of carefully draped strings of fairy lights will set off any bedroom. Swap modern furniture for antique pine to really create the feeling of a log cabin.

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A fast guest bedroom makeover

Spare bedroomcredit

If you’re anything like most people, the chances are that your guest bedroom is used mostly as a junk room. It’s only when Aunt Ginny announces that she’s coming to spend the week that you realise just how ropey the room is and that it needs a makeover before your guest arrives. Should you find yourself in that situation don’t worry, because by using the tips below you’ll be able to quickly transform your spare room into a hotel grade bedroom for your long lost relative to enjoy.

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Clear the room

The first step is to clear the room. Strangely, this task will take the most time, so make sure that you put aside at least a day to get it done. Often, it’s better to do this task at least a week before you plan to start decorating to give yourself a bit of extra time should you need it.

Equip yourself with a roll of bin bags, boxes and a way to label each one. This will stop you from accidentally sending your good bedding sets to the tip because you picked up the wrong bin bag. Be ruthless, throw away what you don’t want, give away what you can and store what you still need in the garage, loft or basement.

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Clean the room

Next, give everything a good clean. Doing so will let you see whether you really do need to do any actual decorating.

Brushes and wall paint

Refresh the paintwork

If cleaning the room does reveal issues, take a minimalist approach to resolving the issues. For example, only touch up the marks rather than repainting the entire run of skirting or a whole wall.

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Use wall stickers instead of wallpaper

Should you decide that re-touching the paintwork is not going to be adequate, consider buying some wall stickers instead of repainting the entire room. They come in a huge range of designs, and don’t cost much. Best of all, they can be put up in under an hour. Provided you buy the right kind, you can easily peel them off once you’ve finished with them.

They’re not expensive, especially if you pick them up in the sales. Often, you can find discount vouchers for wall decals on coupon websites.

bedding with large wildflower print

Update the bedding

There’s no sense buying a brand new set of bedding for a single bed that only gets used once or twice a year. A better and less expensive approach is to buy a nice throw or bedspread instead. This will quickly give the bed a fresh new look.

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Add some rugs

If the floor looks shoddy, consider using some rugs rather than going to all of the expense and hassle of laying new flooring. They don’t cost much, and are usually the quickest and easiest option. Just be careful not to create a trip hazard.

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Put in a new light bulb

Sometimes, even after you have done all of this, the room can still appear to be a bit dark and dingy. Usually, you can resolve this by taking the light fixture down, giving it a thorough clean and putting in a brighter bulb. Also, try tying back the curtains so that more natural light can enter the room.

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Introducing a new puppy to your cats

Cat nuzzling puppy on grass

If you already have pets, and are considering getting a puppy, this article is for you. Below, we look at the potential issues and briefly explain how to get around them to ensure that your new dog settles in with your existing pets as quickly as possible.

Pug puppy

Get into your pets’ heads

Without a doubt, you’re going to have to help both parties to understand what’s going on and teach them to accommodate each other. At first, you’ll need to supervise every encounter. To do that, your understanding of cat and dog body language will enable you to see problems coming and step in before the claws come out and fur begins to fly.

Chances are you already understand your cat well, but it’s a good idea to brush up on canine body language before introducing one into your home. You need to understand both sides of the conversation. This page is a great place to learn most of what you need to know about dog & puppy body language.

Black & white terrier in a woman's arms

Use scent to make the introduction

If the breeder allows it, get a t-shirt and stroke the puppy you have chosen with it. Take this home and leave it somewhere your cats can find it. You should also wipe over areas of furniture your cats use with the t-shirt. Mixing the scent of your new puppy in with the other scents in your home will allow them to get used to it. When you bring your puppy home they’ll feel far less threatened by it presence.

Startled black & white cat

Re-train the cat

This bit can be tricky. If you own cats, you’ll know they are very much the boss; they tend to do what they want, when they want. Of course, this can continue even when you have a new pet. However, you need to be practical and think about breaking some habits that may lead to conflict. For example, if you feed your cats on the floor switch to feeding them on a surface that a puppy cannot reach. That way, you’re removing a potential flashpoint between your cats and the new dog. Puppies are curious and will be attracted by the smell of food. When your cat sees the puppy eating its food on the first day a fight is almost inevitable. Changing your cats’ eating habits for a week or two or more can stop this type of misunderstanding from occurring.

Spaniel puppy sitting with a boy & girl on a sofa

Take things slowly

On the day you get your puppy home, you’ll be able to introduce him or her to every member of the family. However, you may want to wait a while before showing the pup to your cat or cats. Let the puppy explore, but try to keep them apart for a couple of days. That way, your cat will smell the fact the pup is around and get used to the fact that the dog is there, but their life hasn’t changed. When they actually see the pup they’re more likely to respond calmly. Just make sure they’re not left alone until the dog has learnt that the cat isn’t a plaything and shouldn’t be chased.

If you want more detailed advice about introducing a puppy to your existing pets, a good breeder like Douglas Hall Kennels will be able to help. They understand the importance of settling a puppy into their new home and recognise that it’s not always easy to do so. As a result, they have the expertise to offer advice that’s tailored to your specific family circumstances.

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Working out the layout of your bathroom

Vintage-decorated bathroomcredit

If you’re planning to revamp your bathroom, it’s a good opportunity for you to consider reconfiguring the space. Doing so could help you to make more of the room, save you money and add value to your home.

Here’s a guide to help you to choose the right layout:

Compact bathroom with marble-clad walls

Functionality

Your primary consideration should always be functionality. There’s no point in spending a fortune on a new bathroom suite, only to discover that your shower cabinet is so small that you end up banging into the taps while showering and being blasted with water that’s too hot or too cold. Therefore, thinking about the practicality of each item of the suite is a vital step in the design process.

Compact bathroom with corner shower cubicle

Fill the space

You need to make the most of the often limited space you have. That could mean fitting things like your shower into the corner of your room. You’ll want to avoid expanses of space being left unused.

For example, a 7-inch gap between your bath and bathroom cabinet is just wasted space. Potentially, a better option would be to choose a cupboard that fits flush with the end of the bath. That way, those 7 inches becomes usable space. You can find a fantastic selection of bathroom cabinets on www.betterbathrooms.com. The fact they sell such a wide range in so many different sizes means none of your precious space needs to be wasted.

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The right size suite

It’s especially important to buy the right size suite for your home. As well as making sure that everything is big enough or small enough for family members to use. If everyone in the family is tall, you’ll want to avoid compact suites which will be too impractical and uncomfortable to use.

Compact loft bathroom

Make your bathroom appear bigger

If you have a small bathroom, chances are you’ll want it to look as big as possible. You can do this by using a few clever decorating tips. For example, adding a large mirror to the far wall to draw the eye, as well as one above the sink, or using light colours instead of dark tones to finish the walls and floor give the impression of space.

Panelled bathroom with roll-top bathroomcredit

Factor in the extra cost of your new layout

If you’re planning to move key elements such as your bath, shower, toilet or sink, it’s important to factor in the additional cost of moving the pipe work. It’s usually wise to employ a plumber to carry out this work. They’ll give you a quote and confirm that the bathroom suite you’re planning to fit will work with the layout of your pipework. There’s no point in buying a new bathroom suite because you like its shape or design, if you’re going to have to spend too much money to have the soil pipe moved.

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Where to find layout ideas

If you need more information, this page is just what you need. There you will find several bathroom layout plans that you can use to help get your bathroom redesign started.

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Why opt for laminate flooring?

Bedroom with herringbone parquet laminate floor

It really doesn’t matter what type of project you’re working on, your choice of flooring is important. Choosing the wrong floor can ruin the overall look of a room.

The fact that the floor takes up so much space in a room means it’s neigh impossible for people to ignore or not notice. Therefore, if your flooring is shoddy, or doesn’t fit in with the overall style of a property, it will look terrible.

Fortunately, these days contractors and home-owners have plenty of choice. One of the best options is laminate flooring.

Whatever project you’re working on, this type of floor is ideal. Whether you want a stone, marble, wood or tile-effect floor you can find composite flooring with that finish and look.

Whatever colour, texture or finish you want, you can have it. These days, it’s even possible to buy black laminate flooring.

Some companies will even make you a custom floor. These can be quite expensive, but easy to order, and they can even be made at relatively short notice.

All you need to do is to take a very high-resolution photo of the surface you’re trying to recreate and send it off to the flooring firm. They then take that image, blow it up to the right size, and print it onto a composite wood surface. A transparent, hard finish is then applied to protect the image and make it hard-wearing. All you then have to do is lay it in exactly the same way you would any other laminate floor.

Black walnut laminated flooring in a dining room

Laminated flooring is durable

Modern production techniques and materials mean that you can now buy laminate flooring that’s highly durable. This is why laminate flooring can be used in any area of a home, and is suitable for use in commercial settings.

Naturally, you need to do your research and buy the right flooring for the environment in which you are laying it. In most countries, a grading system is used to help you to choose the right materials for the job. If you want to learn more about the different grades of laminate flooring, click here.

Laminate flooring in a kitchen

It can be laid over virtually any sub-floor

This type of flooring material is one of the most versatile available. It can be laid over most sub-floors. You can also lay it over underfloor heating.

However, the sub-floor does have to be perfectly flat to achieve a good result. Modern self-levelling compounds make it easy to create the necessary surface. These products only take a few minutes to lay, although they do take a few hours to cure and dry.

Patterned laminate flooring

It’s easy to install

One of the best things about this flooring material is that it’s extremely easy to put down. It isn’t necessary to hire a skilled carpenter. You can, with a little pre-planning, do it yourself. This, and the fact that the cost of the materials is so low in the first place, means that this is one of the most economical floor options currently available. Therefore, our advice is to look seriously at using laminate flooring for your next building or DIY project.

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