101 articles Articles posted in Home

Modernising an Older House

The house that my family and I currently live in was built in 19th century, which means it has a pretty oldy-worldy feel to it that we absolutely love. There are, however, certain aspects of the house that will definitely need modernising in the next few years, and I’ve been thinking about how that could be done without taking away the rural charm of the property. Here are a few ideas:

Hearth

One of my favourite things about this house is the wood burner we’ve got in the main living area. We use it more than the central heating in the winter and I love the fact that burning wood is a lot more environmentally friendly than using the heating. The hearth is quite old and battered now, so replacing it with a more modern glass hearth would make the whole room look more sleek and finished.

Floors

The house has a mixture of flooring, including carpet, laminate and lino and I’d love to replace them whole ground floor with wood flooring and sectional rugs to give the feeling of flow and cohesion to the rooms. I also love the fact that a whole rooms decor can be updated just by adding a new rug in a bright colour!

Kitchen Doors

Our kitchen doors are okay, a fairly nondescript light wood effect laminated set, but I’d love to replace the doors with something like a matte-grey effect door, which would give the whole room an overhaul. Replacing just cupboard doors is a great way to give a kitchen a makeover without needing to spend too much money.

Ceilings

This is a bit of a weird one, but some of the ceilings in our house are plastered with Artex in a swirly pattern and to me, Artexed ceilings are the quickest way to make a house look dated. I’d love to have the ceilings skimmed with plaster and made totally flat to really modernise the look of the place.

Radiators

Okay, so I know we said that we don’t use the heating much, but the radiators are still pretty prominent features of each room and they’re quite an old-fashioned style (and I don’t mean in that cool, retro radiator way). Replacing old radiators with a newer style can really change the look of a room and can also help with energy efficiency in your home, too.

Tips for Creating a Cosy Living Room

When I was a kid, I used to love being outside when it was starting to get dark; people would turn their lights on inside and it would make the world look really cosy. Sounds weird, but hey, I was a weird kid! Now that I’m a grown-up, I love settling down of an evening into a living room which feels warm and cosy, and I thought I’d share a few tips with you on how we give ours a super cosy feel:

Lighting

Lighting is probably the most important aspect of a cosy room. I hate sitting down to watch TV with glaring overhead lights on, so we tend to have lamps which we can use to create little pockets of light, rather than the whole room being bright. It helps the girls to get sleepy and we don’t get glare off of the telly if we’re trying to watch something.

Cushions

Although we were lucky enough to be gifted a new sofa, just before Christmas, we also like to have lots of scatter cushions around so that we can sit comfortably. Cushions are also a great way to change the look of the room without needing to spend a lot or make massive changes.

Blankets

As well as lots of cushions, we also tend to keep a stash of blankets in the lounge so that we can cover ourselves up if we start to feel chilly. The girls love getting cosy and dozing on the sofa rather than having a set bedtime, which is something we’ve done since Sausage was a baby, and it’s lovely to all spend time relaxing together.

Rug

Our living room is carpeted, but the floor underneath is concrete, so if you sit on the floor for any length of time, you start to feel the cold. We recently invested in a nice, thick rug and the difference it’s make to the cosiness of the room is huge! As well as keeping it warm, it feels lovely and soft underfoot and makes playing on the floor with Maureen the Pup much nicer!

Fragrance

This might sound weird, but I always think a room feels cosier if it smells nice. In the winter, I tend to use a cloth to rub essential oils (clove or cinnamon around Christmas!) on the top of the radiators. Once they warm up, the smell starts to radiate too and it makes the room smell incredible, without needing to burn anything or use plug-in diffusers.

Do you have any tips for making your home feel cosier?

5 Commonly Asked Questions about Karndean Flooring

Karndean FlooringIf you’re currently renovating or planning to renovate your house, there’s a good chance you’ll have considered Karndean as an option for your flooring. You’ll know how durable it is, how easy it is to fit and how cost-effective it is compared to other flooring products. But before you take the plunge there may be other wuestions you’d like to ask, so I thought I’d give you the answers to some of the most commonly asked things before buying Karndean flooring:

Is it easy to clean?

In a word; yes. Although it’s not advised to used steam cleaners on Karndean flooring, it simply needs to be swept regularly and cleaned using the fluid that Karndean makes to keep your floors clean, free from streaks and in tip-top condition.

Isn’t it going to feel much colder than with carpet?

Karndean is specifically designed to feel warm underfoot. Unlike laminate or other hard flooring options, Karndean doesn’t feel cold, even first thing in the morning, and and is also compatible with underfloor heating. There’s also nothing to say that you can’t use a rug, but people rarely do once they realise how warm Karndean is by itself!

Do I need to worry about scuffs and scratches?

Karndean is really hard-wearing and resistant to scuffs and scratches, however as with other wooden floors, it’s recommended to use footpads under heavy furniture and avoid walking across it in stiletto heels! Also, if you do notice minor scuffs, Karndean has a product called “Refresh” which can help to get it looking good as new again.

Where can I have Karndean flooring?

The answer to this is basically anywhere! Karndean can be used all over the house, even in bathrooms and conservatories. Karndean also have ranges which are perfect for using in office or corporate buildings!

What is Karndean made of?

Karndean is a vinyl flooring product made primarily from calcium carbonate (limestone), polyvinyl chloride and pigments. It is structured with five layers – two PVC backing layers, one high definition photographic layer, one clear PVC embossed wear layer and a top polyurethane (PU) protective coating.

Do you have any tips for people considering Karndean? Leave us a comment below.

Ceiling Mounted Blinds: What You Need to Know

Ceiling Mounted Blinds: What You Need to Know

Window treatments can generally be mounted in a variety of ways. Typically, blinds are mounted either inside the window area if it has any depth to it, or on the wall just above the window pane. In some cases, you might want to mount the blinds on the ceiling above the window.

Here’s some tips from selectblindscanada.ca that you need to know when mounting your blinds on the ceiling.

Brackets

Every type of window treatment will come with brackets, which are essentially sturdy metal pieces with a variety of holes in them. The distribution of these holes will allow the blinds to be secured from different angles around the window.

If you’re going to be mounting blinds from the ceiling, make sure the brackets are designed in such a way as to allow this. Fortunately, most blind and shade brackets are universal, meaning they can be used for a variety of mounts, including a ceiling mount.

Note that Roman shade brackets are a bit different but will usually have holes at the top for ceiling mounts.

Where would you need ceiling mounted blinds?

Ceiling mounts are uncommon for window treatments, but there are certain situations that will call for them. For example:

The window is too shallow and there’s no space on the wall

In this case, you wouldn’t be able to secure the blinds inside the window or just above it on the wall. Your only option would be a ceiling mount.

On a patio with no pillars on the sides

If you’ve got a covered patio and you need blinds for privacy and sunlight management, your options for mounts will be limited by the structure. In some cases, you’ll have to affix the blinds directly to the ceiling of the patio’s roof if there are no secure pillars around.

Covering large or multiple windows

If you need to cover a large window or several windows with one shade, a ceiling mount can be a better option. If it’s properly secured, it can be great-looking solution in this case.

How to secure ceiling mounted blinds

When installing ceiling mounted blinds, make sure you are mounting the blinds into rafter beams, studs or joists. If this isn’t possible, you can use drywall anchors to secure the mount, but check their specifications to make sure they can support the weight of the blinds.

If the ceiling is shared with an attic floor, you can always add extra support like a beam or joist in the attic to secure the blind mount.

If you secure the ceiling mount well, it should result in a sturdy installation. As we’ve said, this type of mount can actually work better for large windows.

Trust the experts

Mounting blinds in your home shouldn’t be a headache. Ceiling mounted blinds are a great solution if installed properly. If you’ve got unusual windows or outdoor areas that need different mounts than the conventional ones, do your research online to find the best solution.

Tips for Puppy Toilet Training

As you many know, if you follow me on social media, at the beginning of March we added a new member to the Mum’s the Word clan – Maureen the Pup. Having a puppy has been a real learning curve for us as Chuck was already 2 when he came to live with us and needed no toilet training, but we’re doing pretty well so far. Here are a few tips that we’ve picked up along the way:

Think about your floors!

Whether you like it or not, puppies WILL have accidents, of both the wee and poo variety, so if you haven’t got something convenient like Karndean flooring, you’re going to have to deal with mess. We got a rug from freecycle for our lounge, so that the majority of the carpet is covered and we don’t mind the odd puddle on a free rug, but we also dotted puppy pads around in the early days, as she often had her “accidents” in roughly the same place.

Take them out regularly

Just like when you’re potty training a toddler, getting them to go to the loo really regularly is the first step to cracking toilet training. Husband and I try to take Maureen out at least once every 30-60 minutes, and at the moment we take her out on a lead and try to get her to go in the same place every time, as this will teach her to go there once she goes independently.

Invest in a carpet cleaner

Husband and I have a Bissell hand-held carpet cleaner, and honestly, it’s been an absolute godsend for cleaning up after Mo’s accidents. It can be filled with an odour-busting spot cleaner and can be used to vacuum liquid out of carpets, making it perfect for puppy puddles! I think life would have been much harder without it.

Reward

Most dogs are fairly food motivated, which means that giving them a treat as a reward after they successfully pee or poop outside will be more of an incentive for them to do all of their business outside. Do remember to adjust the amount of food you’re giving them if you’re treating regularly as you’ll end up with a very chubby puppy!

Watch for cues

After a while, you’ll start to notice your puppy’s behaviour or body language change when they need to go out, and acting on these cues is important to develop the communication between you and your dog. As soon as you see them acting like they need to go out, take them and make a big deal of praising them afterwards.

Be Patient

Toilet training a puppy can be frustrating at times – a puppy can do every single wee or poop outside and then randomly go on the rug, and although it can seem like an act of defiance or like they’re being naughty, this is rarely the case. Puppies get caught short, or sometimes we miss their cues. Be patient with them as getting cross will just make them fear you, which isn’t conducive to a good training environment.

Getting Your House Ready to Sell

Getting Your House Ready to SellIn our experience, there seems to be two types of house sellers – the first kind are the ones who want to do as little as possible to a house and generally just sell it in whatever condition it’s in. The second kind are the ones who want to really revamp a property and invest in making it look amazing before selling it, to maximise their profit. If you’re one of the second type, then we’ve got some great tips to help you to really make the most of your investment.

Floors

I don’t know about you, but one of the quickest ways to put me off of a property is to walk in and see ancient carpets, tatty laminate or something equally as unappealing on the floor. Updating your flooring can be the best way to revamp a whole house, and needn’t be a massive task with something like Quick-Step, which is really easy to fit and looks absolutely stunning.

Woodwork

It’s all well and good painting the walls and getting them looking fresh, but if your woodwork (skirting boards, dado rails, etc) are tatty and marked, the whole room is going to look worse for wear. Touch up your woodwork for a clean, polished finish. It’s estimated that buyers are willing to pay up to 25% more for a house which is freshly decorated, so a few quid on paint could see you making a much bigger profit.

Front Door

They say that most buyers make a decision about a house within ten seconds, which is why kerb appeal is hugely important. A tatty front door will ruin your kerb appeal straight away, so if you’ve got a uPVC door, make sure it’s clean and if it’s a wooden door, give it a fresh lick of paint to make it look good as new.

Gardens

In the same way as the front door, a front garden that looks like a rubbish dump will put off even the most hardcore renovators. Equally, a back garden which looks like Tarzan’s hangout is very likely to feel like too much work to many house buyers, so make sure the lawns are trimmed, pathways swept (or even jet washed), bushes are trimmed back and flower beds are free from weeds.

Bathrooms

Although it’s actually pretty cheap to buy a new three-piece bathroom suite these days, we aren’t suggesting you have a whole new bathroom fitted (unless you have an ancient, avocado-coloured bath and then we wholeheartedly recommend you do!) – however, there are things you can freshen up cheaply like the grouting of your tiles and the caulk around the bath, which will make your bathroom look good as almost new, with little effort or expense.

Making Our Home Work for Us with Karndean

Karndean OpusAlthough Husband and I rent our home, we’re lucky in the respect that our landlady is pretty easy-going about what we do to the place (providing we don’t tear down walls or paint the whole place black!). We’ve been thinking lately about what we could do to make the place work a bit better for us, and we think that starting with the floors would be a good idea (puppies and carpets are NOT a good mix!).

One of the options we considered was Karndean, as I’ve heard lots of people saying how much they love it, and to my surprise there are a whole load of varieties of Karndean to choose from. I thought I’d ask my friends who have it what they thought of Karndean flooring and how well it fits into their life. Here’s what a few of them said:

My friend Emily said “We had it at our old house and it was our selling point. It looked like real wood and was easy to sweep, and it was warmer under foot than other hard flooring”

Cat from Cat’s Yellow Days said “We have Karndean across nearly the whole ground floor. It looks great and cleans easily but the biggest selling point for me was that they had such a big range I could get exactly the shade I wanted.”

Tara from Sticky Fingers said “I had it throughout my new kitchen/living extension. Bloody love it. Easy to manage with the dog and muddy kids, warm underfoot looks fabulous. Had tiles before and it was cold and everything that came within sniffing distance of the floor broke!”

In terms of the different ranges, there are three to choose from:

Karndean Art Select

“Karndean Art Select is a range of vinyl flooring featuring exciting hardwood, stone and marble designs that will render a touch of elegance to any space. With an overall thickness of 3mm, and a wear layer of 0.70mm, the Karndean Art Select is super soft and warm under your feet. Completely washable and waterproof, the Art Select collection is perfectly suited for any room in your home.”

Karndean Van Gogh

“The Karndean Van Gogh range is manufactured from highly durable vinyl from the world’s number one producer of luxury vinyl flooring. Available in a variety of sizes and colours, the Van Gogh flooring range is available in a wide range of solid wood effects including walnut, oak and birch.”

Karndean Opus

“The Karndean Opus range of luxury vinyl tiles is a relatively new and a quite popular range of luxury vinyl tiles. It features wood finish as well as traditional stone tile finishes. With an overall thickness of 2.5mm that includes a 0.55 mm wear layer, the Karndean Opus range is available in an array of sizes.”

Do you have Karndean flooring in your home? I’d love to hear our opinion, so please leave me a comment below!

Do More Than Just Spring Cleaning!

It’s that time of year where the clocks have gone forward, the nights and mornings aren’t so depressingly dark and we’re FINALLY starting to feel like we;re throwing off the blanket of Winter and saying hello to Spring. For many of us, this is when we start to think about spring cleaning, having a good sort-out, getting the garden usable after all the bad weather and all those other things that help us to shake of memories of dreary days. However, I’ve been thinking about other, bigger things I can do to get the house and garden back to looking their best and I thought I’d share them with you:

Replace Curtains and Blinds

When we move in here, we didn’t have any coverings on any of the windows and I don’t know about you, but I hate that curtain-less, ‘living in a fish bowl’ feeling, so I went and bought cheap blinds to fill the gap. However, two and a half years on and the blinds are looking really tatty now, so I’m looking to upgrade to something a lot nicer. It will make the whole house look smarter and will hopefully help to keep the cold out if we choose thermal blinds. I’m a big fan of grey so will probably be opting for grey curtains or blinds.

Paint the Front Door

Our front door is wooden and painted gloss white, but it’s seen better days and is starting to look really tatty. As soon as we’re due to have a couple of nice days, I’ll be sanding the door, frame and doorstep and repainting the whole lot – I may even go for a colour instead of just stark white to give the house a bit of a brighter look.

Tidy the Garden

Thanks to months of snow and wet weather, our lawns and flower beds have been totally neglected and need a really god tidy up. We invested in a petrol mower so that we could still mow on damp days but it’s still been far too wet, but now that the sun has been out a little bit, we’re really hoping to be able to get out there and get it done. We get a lot of walkers going by our house and it must look such a mess!

Clean the Windows

I must admit, this is one that I probably leave far longer than I should, but because we’re surrounded by farmland we’re constantly getting dusty winds blown at us, so even if the windows have just been cleaned, they can look mucky again quite quickly. We’ve also got quite a lot of windows (I think I counted 15) so it’ll definitely be a case of getting someone in who’s got all the right tools and equipment to do it for us.

What jobs are you planning to do to get your house in order? Leave me a comment below.

Rubbish Clearance Waste Management Improved By Clearabee

Besides a rubbish clearance bin, most UK citizens have a “single stream” recycling container in which they put all their recyclables. This includes everything from plastic juice bottles to discarded toys. Paper, plastic, and glass are all mixed together. Other countries, such as the United States, use single stream curbside recycling too because citizens tend to be lazy so they prefer not having to separate out the different types of recyclables they bin and the government doesn’t force them to. However, this convenience comes at a huge cost.

Single stream recycling is usually picked up by the same bin men as pick up the rubbish clearance bins. They simply throw it on a different truck or a different part of the truck. However, it is a problem that much of the household rubbish ends up in the recycling bin and vice versa before they even pick it up. Further, the rubbish clearance will often contaminate the recycling to the point it cab not be processed as recycled items. For example, if oil or grease gets on cardboard recyclables, it cannot be recycled and will end up going to the landfill anyway. This is the same reason that greasy pizza boxes cannot be recycled, although people often mistakenly put them in the recycle bin.

The single stream recyclables are taken to a materials recovery facility where it must be sorted in various ways. In some case, people actually remove certain items as the recyclables come down a long conveyer belt. In other cases, optical sorters, infrared sorters, and magnetic sorters automatically sort the waste removal while humans watch over the process and spot errors. Although this works amazingly well, the process is not perfect.

Susan Collins, the director of the Container Recycling Institute, a charity group based in the United States, reports that twenty-five to forty percent of the single stream recyclables actually get taken to the landfill. This is due to contamination and other issues in the sorting process and due to what happens in the recycle bin at home before it even gets taken to the materials recovery facility. As she puts it, “You can’t unscramble an egg.” In other words, once certain materials get mixed, you can un-mix them to sort them for recycling different types of materials. For example, if glass breaks into bits during transport, and contaminates paper recyclables in the same bin, these items may not be able to be sorted well enough for the paper and glass to both be recycled in the way they need, so they both may end up in the landfill.

Private on demand rubbish clearance companies, like Clearabee, in the UK seem to be the best equipped to deal with the problems associated with sorting (pre-sorting) and contamination. Further, they seem to reduce this problem just be how their process works and where they take the rubbish clearance they pick up. Luckily for ecofriendly oriented UK citizens, Clearabee has quickly grown to be the largest private rubbish clearance service in the entire UK, outcompeting the next largest similar service by a long shot.

The Clearabee teams are trained to pre-sort and then group together similar materials from different households and businesses. They then use technology to determine the nearest places that will accept each type of material for reuse or recycling, instead of taking these items to the landfill. They also put a preference on reusing materials over recycling them as reusing items is even more ecofriendly than recycling items.

Some customers of Clearabee are willing to help out and do a certain amount of pre-sorting before Clearabee picks up their rubbish clearance, although the Clearabee service does not require this. For example, one household doing some spring cleaning, may separate out the clothes, toys, glass bottles, and household items. This can help Clearabee get these different items to places where they can be reused or upcycled.

Over their eight years of being in business, with Daniel Long at the helm, Clearabee has strived to improve their reuse and recycle rate. Right out of the gate, given their mission, motivation, and business plan, they reused and recycled more items than any of the waste removal services hired by the local councils. Today, they have improved upon their original percentages and they now reuse or recycle about ninety percent of everything they clear! This percentage is on par with some other European countries like Finland, Sweden, and Germany who are considered the best recyclers in the world. They are approaching closed loop recycling and Clearabee isn’t that far off this mark either.

Clearabee has become a leader in sustainability on a world stage. Many UK citizens seem to use their service in part because of how ecofriendly their services are compared to any other service in the UK. Doing business with a socially responsible and environmentally friendly business is becoming increasingly important in one’s decision making process on which business to chose over another. Clearabee’s practices make that an easy choice for all the people they serve in England, Scotland, and Wales.

THE PURGE (AKA, Don’t Stand Still or Mum Will Throw You in the Bin)

Before Christmas, we were lucky enough to be given a brand new sofa, and in preparation for this, I cleared every stick of furniture out of our living room and cleaned the carpet the day before it was delivered. As it turned out, I quite like having a lounge which isn’t stacked high with toys and other clutter, so much of what we moved has sat in the dining room since the beginning of December, making the room look like a huge version of Monica’s secret closet.

THE PURGE

Last week, I decided that enough was enough; we couldn’t live with one room that looked like one of those storage units, but the rest of the house was by no means ready to receive all of the stuff from my Room of Shame.

And so began…THE PURGE!

I started with the airing cupboard, taking out all of the duvet sets and sheets, and storing them in under-bed boxes, giving us a huge empty cupboard to use for other things. Then I moved on to the girls room, where I managed to clear out SIX black bags of clothes and two massive IKEA bags full of toys for charity, as well as four bags of rubbish, which gave us a whole bunch of empty storage in which to put all of the new things they got for Christmas. Next, I moved on to that dead space at the bottom of the wardrobes that I tend to fill up with things like old pairs of curtains and blankets which don’t really have another home, and managed to fill up two more bin bags of stuff for the charity shop.

My next job is to tackle The Room of Shame, but now that the rest of the house is so much clearer and we have plenty of space to tidy INTO, it doesn’t feel nearly as daunting – I don’t feel the need to start Googling ‘storage near me‘ anymore so that I can just move half of our belongings elsewhere!

The nice thing I’ve noticed is that the decluttering has had a really positive knock-on effect for my mental state, and our lives as a family. I’m taking more interest in other housework because the house looks nice and I want to KEEP it looking nice, and Sausage has a clear desk to do her homework on, rather than perching up at the coffee table each evening. BB has also taken an interest in helping me (in exchange for pocket money, of course!) to put washing away and do other little jobs, which is a habit I’m more than happy for her to get into. I think I’ll make The Purge a six-monthly thing so that we stay on top of it and don’t feel like we’re perpetually drowning in old clothes and toys!

Do you have a purge every now and again, or are you a bit of a hoarder? Do leave me a comment below.