The ultimate guide to greener living

The ultimate guide to greener living

Not only does greener living directly impact the environment, when done correctly huge savings can be made to your annual household expenditure too. There are so many different ways you can incorporate greener living into your home, from having a water meter installed to discontinuing using plastic carrier bags. Here are a few pointers to get you on the road to greener living.

Daylight bulbs

Be energy efficient

The energy used to fuel our homes is not only one of the biggest household expenses – it’s one of our biggest contributions to climate change as individuals. Thankfully there are a few tricks to cut both, from simply turning down the thermostat by one degree to installing loft insulation which could knock up to £225 off your annual energy bill.

Turning off lights, taking appliances off standby and implementing timers will all help reduce monthly outgoings. Contact your energy provider and ask for a smart meter, which will allow you to check in near real time where your household is using the most energy and what it costs. It comes in particularly handy if you’re renting with friends and split the cost of your utility bills.

Dripping tap

Save water

With access to clean and safe drinking water literally on tap, it can be hard to identify with the need to actively try and save water. However, according to Water Wise the UK actually has less available water per person than most other European countries. Installing water efficient products will not only reduce outgoings, but you’ll be directly cutting down the energy used in treating and pumping waste – making a positive impact on the environment.

As toilet flushing, baths, showers and running taps are the biggest culprits in terms of water consumption, install a ‘hippo’ in the toilet cistern to save up to 3 litres of water with every flush. It’s also a good idea to fix dripping taps and fit showers and taps with aerated heads. Outdoors, a water butt is a welcome addition to any garden instead of a hose attached to the mains.

Cyclist on a racing bike

Leave the car at home

It can be so tempting to jump in the car and nip down to the local shops rather than brace the weather and endure a 10-minute walk. However, cutting down on unnecessary short journeys will not only greatly reduce your carbon footprint but will save you money on petrol and parking costs. What’s more, it’s a great way to sneak some exercise in to your daily routine.

When buying a new car, look for newer, more energy efficient models. While cutting your carbon emissions, they’ll also save you money on vehicle tax and petrol costs.

Basket of fresh vegetables

Grow your own

Whether you only have space for a few raised boxes or house your own vegetable patch at the bottom of the garden, growing your own food doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Hydroponic gardening is perfect for growing fruit and veg indoors with a quick turnaround. With practice, while you may still need to pick up supplies from the local supermarket, you’ll be one step closer to self-sufficiency.

What are your top tips for greener living?

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Effective and stylish ways to make your home a more private place to live

make your home a more private place to live

Do you want to make your home a more private place in which to live but don’t want it to resemble some kind of prison? Combining home privacy with style isn’t an impossible task. With some thought, you can transform your home into an eye-catching place in which to be, where only you and people you allow onto your property can enjoy. Below are some tips that will let you do this.

Metal wrought iron gates

Install the appropriate gates

When most people think about making their home more secure and private, they instantly think about installing some kind of gate such as sliding gates. This is particularly true if it’s easy to drive into your property or go around the back of your property.

Sliding gates and swing gates are the two main types of outdoor gates available. Sliding gates and swing gates can be opened and closed manually; or, if you have the budget and it’s practical to do so, you could install electronic gates, giving you more privacy when you leave and return home.

You have a wide selection of gates to choose from, which you can browse online at https://www.mistergatesdirect.com/sliding-gates.html. You can install large sliding gates at the entrance to your home, at the side of your home, or any other location where you want to restrict access.

Perimeter fence around a house

Add natural features around the perimeter of your property

Planting trees, shrubs or hedges around the perimeter of your home gives it a much more natural look and feel. However, doing this also allows you to create a secure border between your property and the outside world. Laurel, beech, hawthorn, blackthorn, and English yew are just some of the options available. They are difficult to see through and prevent intruders from walking onto your property.

White picket fences

Wooden fencing

Today’s home owners have a wide range of attractive and stylish fencing options from which to choose that are available in different heights and sizes to suit different homeowner’s needs and requirements. Fencing products are made from various types of sturdy, long-lasting wood, such as cedar and treated pine. Popular fence designs available include shadow box, dog eared, picket, privacy with lattice, privacy arched and picket scalloped designs.

turquoise-painted metal fence

Other fencing options

As demand has grown for fencing in modern homes, fencing manufacturers have looked to alternative materials to make stylish fencing products. Corrugated metal fencing and PVC fencing products have become just as popular as more traditional wooden fencing. These alternatives may be more expensive, but they are guaranteed to make it difficult for people to trespass and they will last a long time.

Whitewashed garden wall

Boundary walls around your home

If you’re not green-fingered or you don’t have the time to prune and tend to a natural boundary of trees or hedging around your home, adding a wall may be a more practical option.

This may seem like a boring and dull option, but the materials and wall designs available now can make the walls around your home another attractive feature that also serve an important function. Bricks, stone, white-washed render and metal are just some of the materials you can use to build these structures around your home.

Green painted wooden shutters on a yellow house

Blinds, shutters and curtains

If your home is close to a road, street or neighbour’s property, or you have limited space outside your home, it’s not as easy to put features in place that will prevent people from looking inside your home. However, there are steps you can take to address this issue.

Firstly, you should consider installing blinds or shutters. These features will not only give you more privacy but will also helps regulate the temperature inside your home during hot and cold weather.

Night-time is when many burglars strike and when it’s often easier to see what’s happening inside a home. Adding a thicker set of curtains on each window in your home will ensure that nobody outside your property knows what’s going on within.

frosted sash window

Frosting and mirror films

A wide range of security technologies is now being used by window and door manufacturers to make homes safer. Frosting or adding mirror films to windows and doors are two ways this is happening. With these features, people inside a house can look out but people outside can’t see in.

Beware of the dog sign on a fence

Add deterrents

If you’ve had enough of people wanting to look inside your property or trying to trespass, there are more direct ways you can solve this problem. Getting a reliable guard dog and placing clearly visible signs outside your home should act as strong deterrents for anyone who’s thinking about entering your property or wants to get a closer look at your home.

Most homeowners want to be left in peace and don’t want any unwelcome intruders. However, to achieve this, homeowners must make changes to make this happen. Each of the points above can help you to achieve this outcome.

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4 new gardening trends to try in 2017

4 new gardening trends to try in 2017

Many recent studies indicate that time spent in and amongst nature plays an instrumental role in reducing stress and improving general health & well-being. Fortunately, due to modern advancements, it’s not necessary to go into the woods to spend time with nature. You can do so in the comfort of your own home, office or garden.

No longer are we limited by climate, rainfall, space, and soil conditions when it comes to growing plants. The advancement in modern techniques and technology enables virtually any available space to be transformed into a plant haven. Here are four new gardening trends to consider.

Vegetable seedlings

  1. Growing herbs & vegetables indoors

Indoor gardening techniques and equipment have improved in leaps and bounds over recent years. People are often choosing (or being forced) to live in smaller spaces without large gardens, whilst at the same time the demand for local and organic food has increased tremendously. Hence, many are opting to grow their own herbs, salads and other vegetables such as pak choi and chillies indoors. You can also grow your own herbal plants for infused teas, soaps or medicinal treatments. A windowsill is a perfect site for all this. You might also have a small balcony area that you can dedicate to these plants; or, failing that, grow plants under lights or use aquaponic systems.

Swallow greenhousecredit

  1. Greenhouses

If you do have some outdoor space, it doesn’t need to be large or expansive in order to grow your own food. You can have a Swallow greenhouse installed in your backyard or flat roof terrace. These greenhouses are specifically manufactured to help grow delicate plants that require specific conditions. They are constructed of timber that is heat-treated up to 215ºC, protecting the construction from rotting. Hence, you can be assured of the durability of Swallow greenhouses as they’re built to handle cold and damp weather conditions with ease. If you’re considering installing a Swallow greenhouse in your backyard or other potentially suitable space, pay a visit to the site greenhousestores.co.uk.

Cacti and succulent house plants

  1. Jungle and desert-inspired interiors

A trend that has been gaining momentum recently is grouped collections of house plants. If you browse magazines and interiors websites, you’ll see that many home-owners are using house plants to decorate their homes – arranged in wonderful assemblages of various sizes and shapes. Many have broad, glossy, architectural leaves and others cascade down from shelves and hanging planters. This gives quite a jungle-inspired feel and they’re currently all the rage.

The same can be said of cacti and other succulents. Again, they’re arranged in concentrated collections for maximum impact. Various pot colours & sizes – and using alternative containers such as up-cycled tins can add further interest. When decorating your home, consider these bold and intriguing house plants – for both the natural air purification benefits and to make a real interiors statement.

Click Grow house planting kit

  1. Hi-tech gardening tools

There’s some great new technology on the market for the both the experienced and aspiring gardener.

There is a growing range of apps available for your smartphone or tablet. There are plant identifiers such as the RHS ‘Grow Your Own’ which tells you what fruit & veg you can grow; when to plant and harvest and what pests and diseases you may encounter. There are also a number of podcasts that you can download and watch to improve your gardening knowledge.

The Parrot Flower Power plant monitor is a little device that you stick into your plant’s pot (either indoors or out) and it monitors and analyses the growing conditions. It sends you alerts to your smartphone via an app to let you know if the plant needs more or less light, water, warmth or even if it needs to be re-potted!

If there are rooms in your house that get little natural sunlight, you may find it a challenge to grow plants successfully. This dilemma has now been solved. There are now planting kits that come with integrated LED lights to ensure that your plants get all the light they need.

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Sponsored: Dark and dramatic autumn table setting

Dark and dramatic autumn table setting with cutlery and plates from Wayfair | H is for Home

It’s the first of September in a couple of days – and that means the meteorological start of autumn. As the evenings draw in, our minds turn to cosy nights indoors, warm blankets, wood-burning stoves, candles and fairy lights. And, of course, equally important – good hearty food and perhaps a glass of red wine or two. It’s the perfect time to invite family or friends over for an evening feast – an opportunity to celebrate the harvest season and all of nature’s bounty.

Nothing will suit the occasion more than a dark and dramatic autumn table setting! A black or dark grey tablecloth is the ideal backdrop – decorated and accessorised with antique brass candlesticks, feathers, fossils, pine cones, leaves, berries and fruit. Whatever you feel adds to the interest and drama for a special meal.

We’ve recently received some lovely tableware from Wayfair that is perfect for creating just the right style and atmosphere.

Gold coloured cutlery set from Viners with black linen napkin | H is for Home

First, is this gorgeous burnished gold cutlery set by Viners. It’s titanium coated stainless steel and has a real feel of luxury and opulence. It’s just perfect for that celebratory meal – and we loved it combined with the other metallic tones that we incorporated into the table setting through candlesticks, ribbon and other trimmings. On a practical level, the coating creates exceptionally hard cutlery that is ten times more resistant to scratching than untreated stainless steel. It also helps prevent corrosion, rust and tarnishing.

Black & white Seltmann Weiden porcelain dinner plates with black linen napkin | H is for Home

The luxurious quality continues with the porcelain china dinner plates by Seltmann Weiden. There’s a crisp white central presentation area with an organic, flowing black border which frames the food like a picture. Again, absolutely perfect for creating the dramatic table setting. As with the cutlery, these don’t fail when it comes to practicality either – the plates have a scratch resistant surface, are dishwasher safe, oven safe and microwave safe.

Two lovely items that we’ll be able to enjoy year after year.

Dark and dramatic autumn table setting with cutlery and plates from Wayfair | H is for Home

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3 ways to add a rustic feel to any new home

3 Ways to add a rustic feel to any new home | H is for Home

Rustic home designs are very on trend – they have a relaxing quality and make you feel closer to nature. If you’re trying to create a rustic interior look, then think about natural materials like exposed stone walls, wood and wicker. Also incorporating earthy colour tones like browns, greens, creams, rusts and so on. If you’re looking for a rustic design but you’re a little unsure of where to start, then continue reading to discover tips for adding this feel to your home.

Rustic wooden desk

Add wood

If you have access to wooden pallets, there are many ways that they can be incorporated into rustic home décor. They’re inexpensive and yet have the perfect look and feel required. You can transform wood pallets into bed frames, tables or benches. Or perhaps use them to create a kitchen shelving or wine racks. They can be left rough hewn – or sanded, lime washed and stained whatever colour you like. If you’re looking for an even bigger project, you can attach large expanses of the wooden slats directly to the wall. The resulting clap-board effect will add texture and visual interest to a space.

Rustic wooden rafters and stone wall

Add stone to the interior or exterior

Stone is very adaptable and can be used for many purposes. It’s certainly got rustic appeal. It can be used both inside or outside – in the form of tiles or larger block pieces.

You can use interlocking paving stones for a patio, path or retaining wall. Pavers are extremely durable and come in a variety of finishes – various shades of grey, brown, green, and cream – even yellows and orange. Stone can also be used to create an outdoor barbecues or fire pits. If you’re thinking about adding a kitchen island, consider using stone to make it. It can be built to the exact size and shape required, the stone adding a elemental simplicity to the overall look. Stone kitchen worktops can continue the flow of the material if desired. Or, if you’re looking to add a naturalistic touch to a bathroom, try creating a natural stone feature wall or splashback – or perhaps an archway to frame and accent the bathtub itself.

 

Rustic interior decorated in natural colours

Natural hues

You can give any room an unfussy, neutral feel by adding earthy tones. Use paint colours like walnut, mustard, and spring green in combination with creams and whites. However, if you don’t want to go as far as painting, simply add some furniture with natural coverings. For example, a wooden chair with brown, rust or Hessian coloured upholstery can add country charm. Accessorise with accent pillows on other furnishings to create a warm, homely feel. Shop at flea-markets and second-hand shops to find a few pieces that add the all important vintage touch to your interior. Rugs can also quickly add a rustic look without making any permanent changes to your home. Seagrass, coir and bamboo matting are also recommended options. The colour and texture are perfect for this look.

Whatever the vision is for your home use the above suggestions to get started on your rustic makeover.

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How to successfully sell your house for cash

How to successfully sell your house for cashcredit

You may, perhaps, have been faced with the situation where you’ve had to quickly sell your house for cash. Sometimes this is the best option for a given set of circumstances. If you’ve ever had to go through selling your house, you’ll be aware of how stressful it can be. There are a few basic principles to follow to make the most of the process of selling your property and keep anxiety to a minimum.

Here are some of the foolproof ways in which you can speed up the selling process and successfully sell your house.

Mayfair on a Monopoly board

Have a realistic valuation

One mistake that vendors often make is setting the asking price too high and then lowering it later when they’ve failed to attract prospective buyers. What people often don’t understand when selling their house is the fact that this can ultimately lead to a slower sale and sometimes at a much lower price than first expected. The first 30 days after you put your house on the market is the optimum time that you’ll see most interest and activity. If you’ve initially set the price too high, buyers would choose to stay away assuming that your property is out of their price range or not good value for money.

House with curb appeal

Improve your house’s curb appeal

You can improve your property’s curb appeal by adding a few touches here and there to make the exterior of your house more appealing to buyers. Mow the lawn and trim the hedge, put some potted plants on the doorstep, give the front door a wash or a lick of paint and make sure there’s no litter near your front gate. First impressions count and it’s especially important to bear this in mind when trying to sell your property. Prospective buyers are already beginning to form an opinion before they even enter a house. However, curb appeal is just the start.

Clutter-free living room

Clean and de-clutter

This one should be quite obvious but you’d be surprised how often it’s overlooked. The fewer things there are in an interior, the larger it will appear. Therefore, remove unnecessary things and any excess furniture. Store away things that you’ve added for that personal touch such as family snaps on the mantelpiece, knick-knacks on shelves and children’s artworks on the fridge door. Fold up the laundry and tidy away clothes & shoes into drawers and wardrobes. Make sure the bath and shower are spotless. Creating as blank a canvas as possible is important so that the buyers can envision themselves, their family and their possessions in the house.

If your property really needs help, hire a professional to do a deep clean of the house. If you have an appointment with a viewer, make sure any pets are kept out of the way – take the dog for a walk and make sure the hamster, guinea pig or rabbit is secure in its cage. And, if you do have pets, be aware of any odours that may be present to which you have become immune. The same goes for cooking smells; baking bread and freshly brewed coffee are said to be good for helping to sell your house – not so fry ups or kippers… ditto tobacco smoke. Counteract these by opening some windows, spraying air freshener or lighting a few scented candles or incense.

Property for sale signs

Ensure your listing is on all the property portals

Finally, when you’ve decided to sell your house, make sure that it is listed on all the major online property sale portals. Also ask your estate agent to showcase your house on their social media channels. This would increase the chances of your house being noticed and thereby getting sold. Most estate agents have Twitter accounts and Facebook business pages where they publicise their listings.

In addition to all of the above, get all the necessary repairs done before the house goes on to the market. Make sure that your house is as presentable as possible and doesn’t appear to buyers that too much work would be needed after the purchase. This will attract more buyers and your house should sell more quickly and for a better price.

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