Tasteful heating solutions for the kitchen

flames in a kitchen range

Modern kitchens can often feel cold and draughty. As the kitchen is the heart of the home, it’s fundamental to make it a place where all the family will enjoy spending time. A number of heating solutions for individual styles are now available to create a warming and welcoming environment.

Whether you prefer traditional rustic stoves or the contemporary minimalism offered from underfloor heating, there are numerous possibilities for any kitchen. These six alternatives are hand-picked to exude optimal style whilst also producing a cosy atmosphere.

Kitchen with vertical wall radiator

Column radiators

Radiators are by far the most common means to heat the home. The great variety in column radiators allows you to choose a style to fit into any space in the house. This is particularly important in the kitchen.

Column radiators exude style and classic charm. Highly versatile as either a beautiful period feature for traditional décor or a more contemporary interpretation with tall vertical columns. The robust structure creates a characteristic focal feature for the home and is a great decorative alternative to the standard panel radiator.

Available in a variety of sizes and heights, the column radiator can act as a focal point for any room as they’re highly attractive in design. These elegant radiators are also designed to be as high-performing as they are attractive.

Kitchen with plinth heater

Plinth heaters

A plinth heater is a perfect option for home-owners seeking a minimal and uncluttered kitchen. Not only are these heaters economical on space, they also save your feet from a chilly floor. They fit into the base of a kitchen unit and produce instant heat once switched on. Plinth heaters are most effective when placed in areas where you often stand. These heaters are great for heating your floor and are a cheaper alternative to underfloor heating.

Underfloor heatingcredit

Underfloor heating

Underfloor heating is often considered a luxurious item that costs a great deal to power. However, through innovative developments it is now achievable to heat efficiently with a modern system. The general overall heat emission from the floor creates an even temperature making it a highly efficient alternative. As it warms the entire area from the ground up, underfloor heating eradicates that unpleasant experience of stepping onto a cold floor during winter. The almost invisible feature of heated floors makes it ideal for kitchens with limited space or for those wanting minimalist design.

There are two types of underfloor heating; wet system which uses pipes to circulate hot water from your central heating, and electric which uses heating mats placed onto the sub-floor.

Range cooker in a kitchen

Traditional cookers

Aga or Rayburn stoves are iconic features of the country kitchen but in recent years they’ve been slowly making their way into suburban households. This style of cooker is an investment piece for your home that creates a real design statement. Whether you want to bake meringues in the warming draw or cook some chips in the oven, a stove provides you with the means to do so.

Once lit, these stoves generally need to be kept on at all times during winter to prevent damage from constant temperature changes. Some people chose to have them off during the course of the summer so you would need a separate cooker during this time.

Multi-fuel stove

Stoves

Get toasty with a hearty fire from your wood burner or electric stove in your kitchen. These popular burners are a great way to efficiently heat your home and create a beautiful design feature for any room. Available in traditional wood burning or multi fuel stoves as well as electric, stoves have become an accessible accessory for any home.

You may assume that multi fuel stoves are only found in large houses in the country. However, modern developments such as clean burn technology mean these contemporary stoves are now easier than ever to use and maintain. The multi fuel stove offers a choice of fuels so you have the options of wood, coal and paper, giving you more control over your heat output.

Electric stoves provide a similar cosy atmosphere with an understated fireside ambiance ideal for those with kitchens that have limited space. A stove will definitely add the wow factor to your home.

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How well do you know your neighbours?

How well do you know your neighbours?

We’re working in partnership on this post with Rattan Direct to find out, “How well do you know your neighbours?“.

There are a few things that have helped us feel part of our local community.

Row of red brick terraced houses

Length of time lived in our home

We’ve lived at our current address for 15 years; most of our neighbours have been here even longer than that. If we have a quick think, we probably know the neighbours pretty well in the seven or eight houses in either direction along our street. We say hello and often stop and have a chat when we see each other. As we work from home, we’re generally pottering about which makes it more likely that we see people – we’re also available to take in post – and water plants or feed pets if people go away.

Three girls out dog walking

We’re a neighbourhood of animal lovers

Almost half of our neighbours have one or more dogs. The ones that don’t, have a cat… or birds… or tortoises – but more of them later!

Taking a dog for a walk is a guaranteed way of getting to know people. We must know the names of all the dogs within a 3-mile radius of our house… and many of the owners’ names too. Dogs must be the second most popular topic of conversation after the weather!

Flooded streets in Morpethcredit

We’ve pulled together in the face of adversity

Nothing helps you get to know your neighbours better than a shared misfortune. That’s why you hear lots of older people referring to the war as almost a happy time. People pulled together and supported each other as their homes were being bombed or other sacrifices being made.

The homes & businesses on our street have flooded – or have almost – on a few occasions. We’ve helped each other trying to keep the water out that lapped at our front doors. We’ve borrowed, lent and shared brooms and mops and sandbags. We’ve worked together to attach flood barriers to doors as the river level steadily rose. We’ve talked to each other about insurance companies and local authority grants and recommended building companies and workmen. We’ve even had to return a tortoise we found marooned in our garden to neighbours who live a few doors away!

How well you know your neighbours? Take Rattan Direct’s survey to find out.

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Flooring trends for 2017

Flooring trends for 2017

As we’re 4 months into the year (scary, we know!) we’ve had enough time to analyse the trends of last year and see what will continue to flourish in 2017!

Now, people often overlook flooring and the effect that it can have on a room. Well, it’s time to put a stop to this! So rip up that old lino in the kitchen, pull up the carpet in the hallway and allow us to take you through the top flooring trends for the year.

Hell hath no fury like a woman (or man) making a change – at least we think that’s how it goes! In line with the feel-good factor, it’s time to make a statement in your home, get rid of the bland, be bold and own it – literally.

Open-plan room with dark floor

Leading the way with statements, let’s start with one of the flooring trends that really took off in 2016, dark coloured floors. This type of flooring really caught on last year and it works particularly well in line with another trend, contrasting white/grey furnishings. Although it’s commonly said that dark floors make a room appear smaller, the counter argument is that they help to create a lovely amount of warmth and comfort within a room and as mentioned above, are easy to pair with both modern and classic furnishings.

Distressed floorboards

We’ve also seen a huge rise in distressed, engineered wood flooring. This helps to create a real rustic look, aligned with the current shabby chic trend (that still seems to be going strong!), it gives you much more freedom to accessorise and add your own personal touch. Due to the way that it’s constructed, this flooring is incredibly durable and can handle heavy amounts of foot traffic, making it ideal if you have a busy home!

Room with parquet flooring

Keeping aligned with the classic vibe is another old favourite that still seems to be popular, our old friend; parquet. This type of flooring has a wonderfully rich history, originating from 16th century France and used throughout the Victorian era in Britain it has proven to stand the test of time. The flooring is usually installed at a 90-degree angle, which creates a zigzag effect and adds a real elegant feel to any room. It’s also worth mentioning that parquet has multiple shades and finishes available, which makes it a really versatile choice for your home.

Cream and purple kitchen with grey gloss floor

Keep an eye out for the ‘fad’ that is grey flooring which, may we add, is still going strong. A couple of years ago, grey was described as ‘cold’ and ‘dull’ but we know that currently grey is actually one of the most popular colours when it comes to interior design, and that’s set to continue. Pale and light grey floors ooze class and sophistication but they also enhance natural light, which helps to keep your room bright, airy and appear more spacious.

So there you have it, our thoughts on what’s in and what’s out for 2017. It shouldn’t prove too difficult to keep up with the times though! There are plenty of styles to choose from, but what matters most is that it suits your home and your lifestyle.

Guest post by Megan at Luxury Flooring & Furnishings

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How does wall cladding work and why should you have it?

Exterior wall cladding on an apartment building

If you want to improve the look of your home, and save on the amount of energy you use, investing in exterior wall cladding may be a good idea. In addition, cladding the outside walls of your home can offer them protection against the elements.

In this article, we’re going to look at these areas in more detail. We’re also going to explain the different types of wall cladding that exist and how they work.

How does wall cladding work?

Exterior stained clad wall with yellow door

Put simply, wall cladding is the art of covering the exterior walls of a property with a certain material. There are three main wall cladding materials and they all have positives and negatives; let’s take a look at them.

Vinyl wall cladding

Vinyl-clad front elevation of a housecredit

Over the years, vinyl wall cladding has been the most popular choice. You can choose from a selection of vinyl cladding suppliers. This type of cladding was originally introduced as an alternative to aluminium siding; it was cheaper and more effective. Today, vinyl cladding is still an affordable option. However, it does have a tendency to warp and fade over time. It is also easier to damage than some other types of cladding.

Timber wall cladding

Weathered exterior wood cladding on an apartnemt building

The main attraction of timber wall cladding is it’s appearance. It often blends well with the overall appearance of a property. If you decide to invest in this type of cladding it’s worth noting that it requires similar amounts of maintenance to other timber areas of your property.

UPVC wall cladding

Exterior UPVC cladding on an apartment buildingcredit

It’s worth stating from the outset that this type of wall cladding tends to be more expensive than the others we have mentioned. This extra expense does bring benefits, such as high levels of durability, appearance that does not fade and improved levels of insulation. There is also little maintenance required; you just need to clean the cladding with a damp cloth.

Now you have a better idea of what wall cladding is, let’s take a look at its benefits.

Why cladding the walls of your property is a good idea

House with exterior brick and wood cladding

One major reason why people have cladding fitted to the exterior walls of their property is that it improves the appearance. It’s not just about the look when it comes to cladding though. There are several other advantages.

  • Protection against adverse weather conditions such as hail, snow or extreme heat
  • Insulation against external noise
  • Insulation that keeps warm air in during cold weather and cool air in when the weather is hot. This helps to reduce energy use and resulting costs

As you can see, there are several significant benefits to be had if you decide to invest in wall cladding. Make sure that you do your research and seek expert assistance when it comes to having the work completed. No matter which type of cladding material you use your property will benefit, so you need to make the choice based on your requirements when it comes to cost, on-going maintenance and durability.

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Home decoration: How to use framed art the right way

Framed art above a desk

Purchasing and hanging framed art in your home so that it makes a good design statement is as much an art form as it is an expression of the things you love. You may choose framed pieces in similar colour schemes or maybe one or two pieces in an accent colour to add interest or to brighten up a dull room. In this article, we’re going to give you a few tips for hanging your purchased pieces.

1. UV and heat protection

Framed art on a radiator

UV light will eventually fade your artwork so try and hang it on walls that don’t get much direct sunlight. Heat and humidity can also cause damage to your framed pieces over time so avoid hanging in humid environments such as bathrooms or even the kitchen. Alternatively, if you do want some pictures in these rooms swap them with other pieces on a regular basis so they’re not exposed to the heat and humidity for extended periods.

2. Effectively group your art work

two rows of framed black & white artworks

Grouping smaller pieces together can be a very effective home décor design feature. Before you hang your pictures, lay them out on the floor in the way you’d like to hang them on the wall. Try to maintain some kind of symmetry by creating a rectangular or square display and space your frames about 3 to 4 inches apart.

Once you’ve laid your artwork out on the floor and you’re happy with the display, cut out paper templates of each frame and tape these to the wall so that you’ll get an exact idea of how the finished collection will look. Mark the picture hook locations with a pencil and then you’re ready to hang your art.

3. Make sure the pieces are consistent with your home décor

Framed oil painting above fireplace

You want the selected pieces of framed art to reflect your own personal style and also add character and charm to your home.

Before purchasing any piece of artwork, look around your home to evaluate what kind of pictures would best suit your décor. Consider your dominating colour scheme and your available wall space. You want your art pieces to compliment your décor, not dominate it. You can find a huge collection of interesting and eclectic framed artwork from places like Fine Art America which are sure to suit your particular decorating style.

4. Mount your framed art at the correct height

trio of framed artworks hung at different heights

To maintain the symmetry of your room and its furniture, ensure that you hang your artwork at the correct height. In standard 8-foot ceiling rooms, the middle of your picture should be about 5 feet off the wall. If your room has higher ceilings, you can hang your artwork a little higher.

If you’re hanging a picture above a sofa, it’s a good idea to leave a space of approximately 6 to 8 inches between the bottom of the frame and the top of the sofa. If hanging above a tabletop, you should leave a space of about 10 to 12 inches but this can be adjusted to account for lamps or other display pieces on the table.

Conclusion

Art on the floor propped against a wall

To make the most of your framed art pieces it’s important that you choose and hang them correctly. Choose pieces that not only match your personal style but your home décor as well. Consider the light, heat and humidity of each room before choosing pieces that you want to hang.

Group smaller pieces of art in a nice symmetrical shape by using paper templates to first consider their positioning and ensure that you hang your favourite art pieces at the correct height so that it’s pleasing to the eye.

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Perfectly English oven-baked recipes for St. George’s Day

Perfectly English oven-baked recipes for St. George's Day

In England, we seem to love sticking things in the oven. The Americans grill, the French sauté and the Germans brew, while here in England we won’t touch it if it hasn’t got that oven-gilded glow. As St. George’s Day is on a Sunday this year, we figured there was no better time to do a little baking in the true English spirit, but we think well try to change things up a bit. The oven will still play a central role – don’t worry, but let’s see if we can’t come up with a few creative ideas to make St. George proud. Here’s our run down of some favourite recipes for St. George’s Day.

Oxtail stew

Jamie Oliver's oxtail stew

This recipe comes straight from Jamie Oliver and is sure to please any crowd. From the look of it, it seems like a typical English stew, but delve a little deeper and you’ll see that it’s anything but. The fantastically chic ingredient oxtail is tender and delicious, and the addition of dark fruits and spices makes this one a true adventure.

Ploughman’s scones

Ploughman's scones

Ploughman’s + scones = English overload. It’s also delicious! You might have trouble deciding whether these sweet and salty morsels are best for breakfast, lunch, dinner or tea, but we say why not munch on them all day long? Fresh fruit and fluffy, cheesy scones will remind you why it’s so great to be English.

English muffin pizzas

English muffin pizzas

We owe it to the English muffin to top it with everything humanly possible, and just when we thought that that had already been done, in walked the English muffin pizza. All you need is to toast a few English muffins, top them with tomato sauce, cheese and your favourite ingredients, and stick them in the oven. They’re a perfect idea for a movie night or a St. George’s Day party with friends. If you’re worried about your oven being occupied by pizza-making fiends all day, you can always order the sides on one of the UK’s many food delivery apps such as the Hungry House app. Don’t worry, we won’t tell!

Caramel and whiskey bread pudding

Caramel and whiskey bread pudding

This traditional dish is known for having origins in the poorest of houses in the country, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t do a bit to turn it into something fit for a king. This bread and butter pudding uses thickly cut bread, Irish whiskey, raisins and salted caramel to make every bit moist and exploding with flavour.

Manchester tart

Home-made Manchester tart

An incredible, decadent dessert or accompaniment for tea, the Manchester tart makes the top of the list for English tarts. This reimagined recipe was crafted by the renowned English chef Marcus Wareing and includes caramelised bananas, jam and thick cream. Making it isn’t so hard; it’s the waiting an hour while it cools in the fridge that’s the difficult bit!

Bonus: Dragonfire gin & tonic

Dragonfire gin & tonic

One last bonus to pay homage to St. George’s famous nemesis, the Dragonfire gin tonic is a colourful and creative take on the classic cocktail. It’s easy enough to make, just make a classic gin and tonic, add a spritz of mango juice and garnish with a thick wedge of dragon fruit.

What’s your favourite English dish?

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