All posts by Phil

Lighten up with a garden room

Push the boundaries between outside and in with a garden room. From quirky covered terraces to traditional extensions, orangeries or panoramic conservatories, get yourself a space that allows you fire up your imagination and flex your creative muscles. Not only will it give you some extra space, but your perfect garden room will give you a welcome haven that allows you to kick back and relax in all seasons.

If you are blessed with green fingers, creating your perfect garden hideaway can be as simple as teaming your favourite pots and plants with rustic rattan or wooden furniture and some classic outdoor wall lighting.

Outdoor Wall Lights

 If you’re looking to achieve the botanical look without getting your hands dirty, then why not keep your garden room on message with a floral or printed wallpaper? Add a stylish table and chairs and depending on the purpose of your garden room, you’ve got yourself a charming and timeless area to dine or relax. Make a focal point with a single piece of furniture or lighting, but remember to keep things versatile as blinds will more than likely fade quickly in a room bathed in light. Choose furniture that works both indoors and out.

Table Lamps

 

If bright and bold is more your thing, why not recreate the holiday vibe with bold bean bag style seating, bright bench cushions or silk lamp shades. Spice up the party atmosphere with some bold bunting and you’ll smile every time you walk in!

Chrome Table Lamps

 Keeping your garden room cool in summer and warm in winter, is key to using it all year round. Depending on your garden room’s orientation, ventilation and blinds will be key to keeping a comfortable temperature in the summer months. Keep a tower fan or an electric storage heater tucked away in the corner to help out when you need it.

Five ways to get the Scandi look

Scandi LookIf you’ve been admiring the cool, calm and collected look, that is all things Scandinavian – then there is no better time than Spring to inject some clean, Nordic inspired lines into your living space.

There are some key design tips which we can take from this simple style. From plenty of light to pale wood, organic materials to muted tones, there are a multitude of ways you can make this look work in your home.

Let the light in

Scandi Look WindowsNot featuring much in in the way of curtains or window drapes, the Scandi look aims lets in as much light as possible. While some may bolt at the idea of losing a trusty pair of curtains, there are ways to maximise the amount of light that you let in through a window. Hanging them a few inches higher and wider than usual, will allow more of the fabric to sit against the wall, as opposed to the window. Using thinner fabric for blinds will stop you blocking the light from seeping through, and still allow you to keep your nosy neighbours out!

Mirrors are great for bouncing light around a room. Position mirrors strategically opposite windows, and use reflective flooring like a wood laminate or floorboards to achieve the same effect.

Candlelight can add a calming atmosphere both inside and out. Bare bulb lighting is also a popular Scandinavian trend. Use stark bulbs on a flex, or diffuse the light through neutral light shades.

Add wood

Wood LightingA huge characteristic of Scandinavian design is wood. Be it floors, walls or furniture, the use of natural materials allows you to bring the outside in. Rustic wooden tones ooze elegance and make a cozy and inviting living space. Add a characteristic bench or stool, or go the whole hog and panel the walls.

Scandi LightUse a (predominantly) white palette

Fresh, clean, modern – white is the way forward when it comes to achieving the calm and peaceful nature synonymous with this style. Whitewashed walls are common, and adding accents of black to create a monochrome palette is stereotypical of the Scandi style. You don’t have to limit yourself though. Throw in pastels to add charm and colour.

Declutter like never before!

Minimal is the only way to create a ‘clean’ look. If you loathe hiding your clutter, then you will naturally find this harder to achieve than some. Take note, accessories must be functional and unpretentious or heirlooms with a history.

Keep it natural

Alongside wood, don’t be afraid to throw wool, sheepskin, plants and branches into the mix. Varying natural textures adds a certain ‘organic’ homeliness to the look. A wood burner can only add to the charm.

12 things to do before buying a home

install-kitchenBuying a property is a huge investment, not only financially but also emotionally and time-wise. Whether you’re first-time buyers, experienced owners taking on a renovation project or downsizing after your family has flown the nest, here are some essential house-buying tips to consider before putting in that offer:

1. Visit the property at different times of the day and, if possible, in various types of weather. Take a compass (many smartphones have one) to find out which way the property faces and see where the light falls at different times. South-facing gardens and rooms will be light and sunny whilst those facing north tend to be dark and gloomy, so you might feel cold even on a warm day and certain plants won’t thrive.

2. Get a survey carried out. These vary from condition reports and homebuyer’s reports to a building survey, and the one you need depends on the age and condition of the property. Prices for each type vary depending on the surveyor you use, so get quotes rather than just going with the estate agent’s recommendation. Look out for ‘could not access’ notes in structural surveys and ask why a particular spot couldn’t be accessed – a problem might still be lurking!

bathroom3. Make your own thorough inspection of the house. Whilst a full survey will pick up the big things, you should also be making a list of small to medium-sized DIY projects. Look in cupboards to see what condition they are in and tap the walls; if they sound hollow, they are partition or plasterboard walls and more easily removed than solid walls. Turn on the taps to test to water pressure and even switch on the shower – if it’s dribbly you might want to factor in the cost of a new one!

4. Factor repairs and DIY jobs into your budget. Get at least three quotes for any building work before putting in an offer, asking for exact costings rather than estimates, as this could increase your bargaining power with the vendor. Make a list of the DIY tasks you can tackle yourself and visit a hardware store or look online to tot up the cost of materials, paint and tools.

5. Find out if the property is in a conservation area or, if it’s old, is a listed building. If so, there might be restrictions on the renovations you can carry out – even down to the sockets and switches you install – and you might have to say goodbye to that dream kitchen extension.

6. Kitchens sell houses, so make sure the new one works for you. Kitchen cabinets are easy to replace but the layout might be harder to change, depending on the size of the kitchen and the positioning of the plumbing and plug points.

window7. Inspect the condition of the windows and frames. Check for condensation between double glazing, rotten wooden frames and cracking paint. If the windows are small and the rooms gloomy, would you have the space and budget to install larger or French windows?

8. Look for signs of damp, including mould, flaking plaster and watermarks on walls or ceilings. If you suspect damp, invest in a homebuyer’s survey to find out how extensive it is and work out how much it would cost to put it right.

9. Check the condition of the wiring and the fusebox. If they have been well maintained, there’s a good chance the owners will have taken care of the rest of the house too. Make a note of how many sockets are in each room and the condition they are in, as you might need to replace them or fit more.

10. If you fall in love with a house it’s hard to be objective, so take a trusted friend along to the second viewing to point out potential pitfalls. But don’t take too many people as their differing opinions could confuse!

11. Don’t buy a house without looking around the garden, even if it’s pouring with rain! The garden might feel smaller and more overlooked by other properties once you’re standing in it than it appears to be from an upstairs window! It’s also an opportunity to check out any noise that, again, might not be heard from indoors but might put paid to relaxing on the patio!

home-maintenance12. Don’t forget to pop your head into the loft, especially if you’re not getting a comprehensive buildings survey. If you can’t access it on the first viewing, check ahead of a second visit that access will be made available – if it isn’t, ask questions. And once a sale has been made, get in writing an agreement that the attic will be totally cleared before the completion date; more than one new homeowner has found they have to dispose of other people’s belongings before they can store their own!