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Tips on making your home more attractive

November 16, 2012

Selling your home can often be a stressful and de-motivating task, especially with today’s fluctuating property prices.  December is often a quiet month for property sales, however, it is also the perfect time to make sure your home is in the best condition possible ready to attract potential buyers.

Take a look at our guide to help you discover ways to maximise the ‘wow’ factor of your home.

Create an impression straight away

Firstly, it’s important that your house looks presentable from the outside. No matter how appealing your house is on the inside, potential buyers can be instantly put off by an untidy exterior. Start by mowing the lawn and removing fallen leaves. It sounds simple but it’s often the smallest things that make the biggest difference. Also, make sure the walkway to your home is tidy and accessible. Repaving a driveway can be an expensive job, but if you have the time and money, it will help improve the exterior of your home significantly.

Take a look at your front door and outer windows as these are important features to potential buyers. For windows, make sure you wash them regularly and, if you have wooden frames, don’t be afraid to give them a lick of paint. If you are looking to make a real difference to your old windows, why not install new windows and save the buyer a job? Granted this may be an extra cost but if it makes a difference to the sale of a house, surely it’s worth it?

Give your home a good de-clutter

Once the buyer has stepped inside your property, you want to instantly impress them and make them feel at home. Put on a pot of fresh coffee as the smell will create a relaxed and cosy feeling. De-cluttering is a simple and cost efficient way of improving the attractiveness of your property. It instantly makes a house look bigger and enables the potential buyer to envisage their own furniture in the room.

Spruce up tired walls with a lick of paint

We’ve stressed the power of painting in previous blog posts but it really does make a difference if your walls are looking a bit lifeless and dull. Opt for neutral colours as they enable buyers to add their own stamp to the room. Painting doesn’t have to be boring either. Get everyone involved and make it a family activity. Then you’ll feel even better knowing that you’ve improved your home as a collected family effort. If you haven’t got time to re-paint, sugar soap is a great alternative to make walls look vibrant again. It only costs £3.00 so there’s no excuse for dull walls!

Re-vamp your Kitchen

As kitchens have been proven to be the most attractive selling point to buyers, it is important that your kitchen is the most appealing room in your home. Go for a neutral kitchen that utilises space and will appeal to everyone. If you have old cabinets, make sure you replace them to give your kitchen a modern look. If you don’t have enough money to refit your kitchen cabinets then just buy new cupboard doors and handles to create the illusion that the cabinets are brand new.

Create a cosy conservatory

If you’re fortunate enough to have a conservatory then you are at an advantage as most buyers will look for maximum living space. Therefore, make sure your conservatory is de-cluttered like the rest of your house to maximise space. It is also essential to make a conservatory look light and cosy so invest in some good quality lights and add a few creative touches like flowers and candles.

The importance of a relaxing bathroom

Lastly, but certainly not least, bathrooms are often key selling points for homes. Get rid of old-fashioned carpet since it has been proven to repel potential buyers. You want a bathroom to feel like a luxurious haven so, if you have small children, make sure their bath toys are well hidden and add some fresh scented candles. Give your toilet and shower/bath a good scrub and replace any taps, toilet seats if they look tired and unattractive.

When selling your home, it is important that you know what appeals to your target market. Therefore, make sure you follow our tips but tailor them to fit your ideal buyer. By doing this, no potential buyer will be able to resist your home. Let us know if you have any suggestions that we can add to our tips!

Upcycling: Ecological alternatives to ‘throw-away’ design

November 9, 2012

If you look at past generations, things were made to last. Today, there is a tendency to throw things away instead of making the most of the object’s potential.

 

For the environmentally conscious homeowner, upcycling is a great away to breathe life into old and worn-out furniture using a range of crafting skills and techniques.

 

With vintage seemingly being a key home interiors trend this winter, upcycling is a great way to get creative and make a design statement.

 

If you need inspiration to get you started, then a new series presented by Kirstie Allsopp, which started last night on Channel 4 called Kirstie’s Vintage Home, has some great ways to refresh your home using craft skills to revamp furniture and interiors.

 

 

 Kirstie Allsopp uses vintage style to transform unloved houses into beautiful homes

 

We’re also here to help. So if you’re looking to add something quirky to your home, take a look at some of our favourite fun upcycled furniture to give you some inspiration.

 

Screen printing retro furniture

 

These days, in our increasingly environmentally-aware society, many designers are looking to promote design that makes use of found objects, saving more waste from landfill and bringing new life to pre-loved furnishings, homewares and furniture.

 

Innovative young British designer Zoe Murphy takes ‘unloved’ furniture and makes it delectable and desirable by screen printing 1950s style imagery inspired by her home town of Margate onto retro furniture.

 

Her approach to upcycling is refreshing and transforms mid-century furniture into something with a modernist flair; breathing new life into old tables, chest of drawers and cushions. Here are some of the pieces from Zoe’s latest range of restored vintage furniture.

 

 

The Margate Collection; retro furniture restored and printed with drawings from Margate seaside. Dense patterns inspired by Formica cafés colour the front and linings with bespoke imagery. From £650.

 

 

Recycled silk cushions made mostly from un-picked wedding dresses that have been hand dyed and screen printed using environmentally friendly inks; 48 x 48cm including feather cushion pad. £75 each

 

Recycled bath time

 

Reestore are a Bedfordshire-based studio who take everyday waste objects and playfully upcycle them into beautiful accessories and functional pieces of furniture. The current range includes chairs made from shopping trolleys, roll top baths transformed into sofas and magnificent desks produced from aeroplane wings.

 

We particularly love Max, the Bath Tub Chaise, a contemporary twist on the sofa briefly featured in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. ‘Max’ is created from a vintage cast iron bath and upholstered in the fabric of your choice.

 

 Max the Bath Tub Chaise by Reestore

 

Door dining

 

Ruby Rhino create a range of bespoke tables created from old recycled doors. The old doors are treated and restored to make beautiful rustic table tops. The stylish wooden frames are handmade to measure and finished in a choice of colours. Each table is completely unique and makes a stunning centre piece to bring history into your home.

 

The tables are full of character with all the quirks of age. They will suit a range of chair styles, from traditional models to a mis-match selection of old and modern styles.

 

Samuel upcycled door dinning table by Ruby Rhino

 

Reawaken old furniture with colour

 

Achieving your dream home doesn’t mean buying everything new. Sometimes just a lick of paint will do to transform an old piece of furniture that doesn’t quite fit with your interior.

 

Inspired by colour charts, the upcycled collection by Revived Furniture brings preloved furniture back to life by injecting colour, pattern and a lot of passion.

 

Each piece is carefully restored, reworked and then painted by hand to update its look to create a range of furniture that is unique and not mass produced. The stripes and blocks of colour give each piece a very geometric, yet dramatic feel that is softened by the use of gentle pastels.

 

Here are some of the pieces from the collection, waiting to be re-homed and re-loved.

 

 

The ForestLake bedside cabinets (left) have been restored in different shades of rich, mossy greens inspired by the forest to bring rest and pleasure to your room. The cabinets consist of two drawers covered in complementary red floral fabric and are delicately patterned inside.

 

The Waterlily Blush dining chairs (right) have been restored in a deep shade of pink making them ideal for a breakfast or dining area that has an eastern influence. Each seat is padded and has been covered in a pink linen fabric making them comfortable and durable.

 

 

Painting and distressing for that vintage look

 

Upcycling is also a great way of saving money, so if your budget won’t stretch to one-off pieces and vintage or shabby chic are your thing, then taking the distressed approach is one of the best ways to completely transform an old piece of furniture.

 

Choose a neutral pale topcoat with an undercoat of your ‘accent’ colour to match your room. The colour goes on first as a primer, followed by the topcoat. Sand back the paint lightly, over the areas where there would naturally be the most wear, to create a subtle and convincing aged effect.

 

 Follow Kirstie’s distressed chair project

 

Why not recycle old material and reupholster your newly distressed chair to give it a new lease of life.

 

Have a go yourself and breathe new life into things in your home that you would may have just thrown away.

 

Catch next week’s episode, Channel 4, 8pm, Kirstie’s Vintage Home, or get the book that inspired the series.

 

What are this year’s winter trends? Advice from Non Rees

November 2, 2012

The dark and cold weather during the winter season often makes home interiors look gloomy. We’ve got the latest advice from our design consultant Non Rees about the stylish trends that will make your home feel cosier this winter.

Hi Non, what do you think are the key home interiors trends to look out for this winter?

A lot of home interior designs are celebrating the natural, earthly look, which give homes a rustic and warming ambiance.  Think of country or farm houses with antique items and a wood-burning stove or cosy fire in the living room. In retail outlets we are likely to see a variety of raw and exposed materials such as wooden interiors, textured materials and earthly colours.

The theme is all about creating classic British home comforts and setting the perfect scene for sitting in front of the fire with a cup of tea. Unique and one-off items always give a room a certain personality. Adding an eclectic lamp or ornament goes well with the rustic theme, as it fills space and makes the room more homely.

Wall decor is always a good option to enhance the atmosphere of the areas where you entertain guests such as the living room or kitchen. Charity shops occasionally have some vintage, interesting pieces but a lot of well-known retailers are selling home accessories that tie in with the rustic theme.

Antique Elm coffee table from Idyll Home

The winter season will also see a return of 1920s glamour, along with the rise of popular period dramas and films like Downton Abbey and The Great Gatsby. To achieve the ‘Great Gatsby’ glamour look, opt for plush cushions to add a classy touch to your sofas, or decorate with a throw made out of rich textures, such as velvet.

 The decadent theme works particularly well in dining rooms. Don’t hold back on dressing up your dinner table. Runners and candles in bold colours such as teal, gold and silver will add an opulent feel to the room. You can also add classy details by buying jewelled or decorative door knobs, or by adding a chandelier to give a warm, but delicate light to the room. Lamps dotted around the room will make the lighting less harsh and give a welcoming atmosphere to your home.

Silver Beaded Cushion, £25, John Lewis

Oriental designs are also popular for winter with many brands including Eastern influences in their designs.  If you prefer to go for more modern designs for your home, this trend is a brilliant way to use modern, minimal designs but still create a relaxing atmosphere.

Reds and yellows are good colours to use for a statement wall or an individual item of furniture to keep the colour scheme warm. Oriental floral patterns are key for this theme, so opt for curtains or rugs with elaborate designs or patterns on them. Remember not to overdo the patterns in your room, as this theme is all about minimal styles.

Mix different shades of grey, white or cream together to achieve the Eastern look. Furniture will contain a lot of straight lines and metallic touches. Ideas to incorporate this theme in a bedroom might include using silk or satin bed linen, as these materials look great in paler colours and work well with Eastern aesthetics. Bird or animal designs work well with the theme, and trinket boxes or ornaments of this kind are very much in fashion in bigger retailers at the moment.

Decorative bird ornament from John Lewis, £8

What home interiors trends will you be following this winter? Feel free to leave your comments!

Five things that can instantly repel house buyers

October 26, 2012

We are living through one of the toughest times in recent history when it comes to selling your home. Purse-strings are staying very tight, and increasing amounts of people are choosing to sit tight. Yet, with a few of our inexpensive and quick tips, we can help you avoid repelling house buyers and boost your chances of selling your home for the best possible asking price.

1) Poor exterior landscaping – The outside of your home is the first impression that a potential house buyer will see. So firstly, make sure the lawn is mowed and the edges are neatly finished with a strimmer. If you have a driveway, ensure that there are no weeds growing through the slabs and that it is clean, with no oil leaks etc. Also, a few brightly potted plants can increase the welcoming feel of your home.

 

Overgrown lawns make the home seem poorly kept.

2) Distinct odours – Some houses will have a distinct odour that will immediately put off potential buyers. This is a tough one to judge, as you will have lived in the home and typically may be unaware of such a smell. Therefore, asking friends and family and carefully examining their reactions will probably help you find the answer. Either way, this can easily be remedied by placing some fairly neutral air fresheners around the house and opening the windows in the build-up to any viewings.

A plug-in air freshener will combat any stale smells.

3) Dimly lit houses – Any home will seem unwelcoming and cold if rooms are dark. Make sure that all curtains and blinds are open and every light is on for all viewings. This gives the home a warmer feel and also adds size to a room.

4) Too much carpet! – Exposed natural wood floor boards can look very chic and stylish and are very popular. Check below carpets of living rooms and hallways, as often, the potential of many homes is hidden underneath an old, aged carpet that actually de-values the property.

Stylish exposed wood flooring can be covered by old carpets

5) Be overly critical – This is perhaps the most important point of all. You have to look at your home as if through somebody else’s eyes. Assume that the small crack on the wall behind the TV will be noticed by a potential buyer. Assume that the small marks on the carpet in the front bedroom will be judged. Assume every imperfection will be noted and try to amend it. With this attitude, you stand the best chance of achieving your desired asking price.

The best time to buy or sell a property

October 19, 2012

With fluctuating house prices and one of the wettest summers on record, you can be forgiven for wanting to shut yourself away and avoid the need for moving house.

Whether it’s relocating for a new job, a new addition to the family or the desire for more space to relax and entertain in, most of us will contemplate having to move house some time in our lives.

For many of us, moving house is not a financial option at the moment, and of course there are many ways that you can make the most of the space you’ve already got. But, if you do decide that a move is on the cards, knowing the best time of the year to change your abode can help with planning and getting the most out of your investment.

 

 Are you in need of extra space?

If you want to be in a new property in time for Christmas, then you need to be seriously looking now. There are significant advantages at this time of year. From a buyers’ viewpoint homes that came onto the market with the expectation of a spring sale will, by now, have trimmed prices and could be more affordable, and from a sellers’ viewpoint there probably won’t be many new houses coming onto the market over the next couple of months. So if you’re a buyer then take a look at what’s available, today.

As we move closer to Christmas, December is traditionally a quiet month for buying, with many people instead focusing on the build up to the festive period. However, this time of year shouldn’t be excluded if you’re in the hunt for your perfect property.

While there may be fewer properties coming onto the market, it could be a great time to pick up a bargain as often at this time of the year people are in good moods and more inclined to be generous. Also with fewer buyers there’s less likely to be multiple offers or competition for the same properties. So if you’ve got some time off over Christmas it could be a great time to trawl the property pages and start the New Year in a new home.

 

 Remember the best time of year to buy a home is when you find one you love!

The best time of the year to sell a house is the spring

As with buying, the key times to sell your property are spring and autumn when traditional demand outstrips supply and, therefore, prices are usually at their most buoyant. The spring particularly will see those buyers and sellers that will have gone into property hibernation during the winter months coming out of the woodwork.

 

 Open your door to potential buyers

However, if the time is right for you to sell your home outside these peak periods then here are some tips towards a successful sale:

1. Choose a good estate agent
Remember, estate agents don’t get paid for homes that don’t sell, so make them work hard for you when either buying or selling. Ask friends and family for recommendations. Look for agents that are selling similar properties to yours and get three or four agents to visit and value your property.

2. Make sure the price is right
When selling your home you are going to want to achieve the best price for it, so it’s important that the asking price is appropriate for the style of property, size and location. There are lots of tools available online, such as Zoopla, where you can check the price properties in your area have sold for. That way you have the information you need when you call the estate agent out to value your property. If you want to move home, be prepared to be flexible on your own asking price and to do some serious negotiating work getting the seller of the home you hope to buy to act accordingly.

3. Get your house shipshape
It’s important to ready your property for a sellers market. Who do you think your house will appeal to the most? Having a target buyer in mind will allow you to make some inexpensive and cosmetic changes so they can see themselves in your property. De-cluttering and adding a lick of paint are just two great ways to help prospective buyers to fall in love with your property. And if it doesn’t sell straight away it’s a nicer space for you to live in.

So is now the right time to buy or sell a house?

The outlook for the housing market is mixed. Some industry experts expect things to pick up in 2013, while others believe it will remain subdued and stable next year. Given such uncertainty, the question of whether you should buy should be based on how long you plan to own the property, whether it personally suits you and most importantly whether you can afford it.

Good luck whether you’re a house hunter or house seller. If you’ve got any house buying / selling tips please share them with us.

Top 5 Gadgets for the Home

October 12, 2012

Looking to upgrade your pad this autumn? If you’re looking for something to make chores less time-consuming, or crave the latest culinary gadget, take a look at our top 5 home gadgets, picked to perfectly accommodate your hectic lifestyle.

1. Design icons for the kitchen

If you’re looking to add a little bit of creativity to your mornings and enjoy breakfast in style, then take a look at Panasonic’s design-led range of small kitchen appliances, including striking kettle, toaster and coffee maker – perfect for contemporary kitchen designs.

 

Give your kitchen a modern make over; available from all major retailers

The range incorporates on trend colour options to suit different style preferences and budgets in high gloss white or black. For more serious design connoisseurs, the choice of either a grey or violet glass finish provides a striking counterpoint to the seriously smooth and robust stainless steel finish.

2. Showcase your snaps this Christmas

With the digital age, most of us no longer take our films to be developed and display our photographs in albums, so many of our favourite snaps go unseen.

The NuTouch digital photo frame offers a beautiful, finger-friendly 7-inch display. The sleek, glossy black frame is complemented by an array of blue LED touch-sensitive controls, built-in stereo speakers and integrated MP3 player. The panel packs an 800 x 480 resolution, and furthermore, you’ll find 128MB of storage, a multi-card reader, internal battery, clock / calendar functions and USB connectivity.

Show off your favourite snaps with a photo frame that does a little more

3. Clean up effortlessly

Instead of the weekend becoming choc-a-block with household chores you simply can’t get done during the week, why don’t you really let the tech take over and offer a helping hand with the hovering.

Robotic vacuum cleaners are fully automatic and smart cleaners for all floor surfaces. Just pop it on the floor and leave it to do the job for you. It will scan the room, move around by itself and vacuum the floor until the entire room is finished. It will charge itself automatically and can go under beds and furniture.

LG’s HOM-BOT robotic vacuum offers a unique combination of dual cameras (upper and lower), ultrasonic and infrared sensors to allow it to find its way into every part of a room. It also boasts a super slim height of just over 3.5 inches.

Samsung’s NaviBot can clean your home without you having to lift a finger. On board cameras help it navigate around your home in the quickest way, picking up dirt and dust as it goes.

So now you don’t have to think about vacuuming, you can spend time doing other things.

4. Become a culinary genius

If you’re looking for a gadget to organise and enrich your time in the kitchen, then the QooQ splash-proof cooking tablet, available in the UK later this year, could be one for your Christmas wish list.

It has been exclusively designed for the kitchen, so no more printed recipes that fall foul of having ingredients or wine spilt on them while you’re preparing your culinary masterpiece. Instead you can access thousands of recipes and step by step video cooking tutorials via the tablets 10.1 inch screen.

 Cooking at your fingertips

The water-resistant design means it can be wiped clean with a cloth if you get water, oil or other food on the screen while looking up a recipe.

It also features a handful of apps including Facebook and YouTube, and an internet radio app. There’s also a web browser and connection for external storage so you can use it as a digital photo frame.

5. Reinvigorate the senses

If you like aromatherapy but don’t like the idea of leaving a candle burning while you drift off, then the Aroma Diffuser from Muji is a must. New for 2012 is the Extra Large Aroma Diffuser, which uses ultrasonic waves to quietly disperse a soft fragrance throughout the room.

Perfect for spacious living rooms, the Aroma Diffuser can continue to infuse a fragrance for up to 180 minutes. So whether you are looking for relaxation during reading, an ambient decoration before a dinner party or stimulation for the senses during work or study, the simple design will match any interior and help to naturally restore balance to a busy and hectic lifestyle.

Stimulate the senses

 

Make your home warmer, greener and more energy efficient

October 5, 2012

Cwtching up by the fire might not be a necessity anymore!

 

It’s that time of the year. The days are getting shorter. The winter is drawing closer as every day passes by. And we debate when we can start thinking about putting the heating on. Can we switch it on in October? Is that too early? Are we wasting money if we do?

 

Did you know that with some energy-efficient upgrades, you can reduce the amount of central heating you consume, helping to keep your home warmer and your bills down?

 

Figures from The Guardian show that over 80 per cent of households in Wales have failed to top up their insulation and are wasting money on ever-rising heating bills. It is believed that many are unaware of the financial incentives that the government can provide for those who choose to upgrade.

 

The UK government has just launched The Green Deal, due to come into effect at the end of this month. Through the deal, customers in England, Wales and Scotland will receive a loan to make energy efficient improvements to their home. The instalment repayments are then calculated so they should not exceed the savings made on an average bill.  Therefore, in theory, your energy bill should not increase, even with this loan attached.

 

Not only is there a huge potential to save money, but insulation is an incredibly green method of keeping your home warm and cosy. The reduction in the amount of energy used translates into a smaller personal carbon footprint and the knowledge that you’re helping Wales become greener and friendlier to the planet.

 

It also reduces the build-up of mould, airborne dust and pollen in the home, making it a more comfortable and stress-free place to live.

 

In the build-up to Christmas and with many of us financially stretched, I’m sure a lot of you are thinking ‘it’s just not the right time to invest in something so big’. But, with winter just around the corner and the fact that energy prices just cannot be predicted; can we all really afford to put this on the back burner?