77 articles Articles posted in Home

Common Garden Problems

I’ve blogged about our garden a few times in the past; it’s a really decent size with a large lawn and a patio area and it’s one of my favourite things about this house. There’s more than enough space for a massive trampoline, the girls’ paddling pool in the summer and various other slides/tents/swingball-type things, without ever feeling cluttered. However, although it might seem like a big blank space would be easy to manage, we still find various common garden issues which make it harder to maintain. We’re not afraid to get stuck in and get our hands dirty to sort things out ourselves, but sometimes you have to admit that you’re beyond your level of expertise and pass the job to someone who knows exactly what they’re doing. Here’s a few of the things we’ve struggled with:

Japanese Knotweed

Japanese knotweed is probably one of THE most common problems here in UK gardens and although it might seem tricky to deal with for the average gardener, there are companies out there who have the expertise to deal with japanese knotweed eradication with relative ease. Knotweed can look unsightly but if it’s left to go wild, it can even cause structural issues with your buildings, so asking the professionals to deal with it is a really good idea!


Last year, I thought I’d have a go at growing some tomatoes, strawberries and a few herbs. They were all doing really well, until a bunch of slugs came along and made a very quick meal of them! I don’t like using strong chemicals, but my mother in law swears by putting crushed eggshells around her seedlings as the slugs don’t like to crawl across them, and so will leave your plants alone.


Our next door neighbours seem to have a love affair with ivy – it grows over almost their whole property and they seem to be quite happy to let it do so. This was fine, until the burgeoning growth started to push one of our fences down. The trouble with ivy is that it’s seriously hardy and even harsh chemicals don’t always kill it off. Ivy needs to be attacked from the root and some people advocate using a mixture of boiling water, white vinegar and salt to kill it without using pesticides.


Living by a body of water, as we do, means that we have mosquitoes buzzing around for about 9 months of the year, and only the super cold weather kills them off. Lots of people use citronella but the sheer amount of them here would never be put off by a candle. We also don’t like spraying DEET on the kids because it’s such a harsh chemical and they’d need to be showered in it on a daily basis to have a decent effect here. We’ve invested in an electric fly killer, which sits in the hallways and also deals with other flying beasties, and it’s the first summer where we’ve had a moment’s peace!


Living in the countryside means that as well as the usual cats and foxes that everyone has to deal with, we also regularly encounter moles, voles, badgers, bats, egrets, herons and many more animals on a daily basis! We love them usually, but they do sometimes bring problems. Largely we let them go about their business, but it does get annoying keeping our lawn in good order only to wake up to a dozen molehills over the grass! We haven’t come up with a kind solution to this yet, so for now we’re just trying to live peacefully with them.

Get Your Dream Kitchen

Thinking about turning your current kitchen into your dream cooking space? Are you worried about the cost? Well worry no longer as we’re bringing you a definitive guide on revamping your tired kitchen without breaking the bank!

We’ll talk about all the cheap bits and bobs you can get as well as some ways to cut costs out entirely!

Create a feature wall

A feature wall used to be a pain to sort but nowadays it’s as easy as pie; you can add a kitchen splashback. If you are adding a splashback as your feature wall avoiding the expensive traditional glass and choosing a cheaper & more durable modern acrylic one can save you a lot of money. The reason a plastic splashback is cheaper is not down to skipping on the quality it is simply due to the process involved with making and distributing it compared to glass! to make it and then ship it! Simply plastics offers a wide range of colours, styles and offer a service of cutting it down to any shape or size. So adding that feature wall doesn’t have to be expensive!

Add open plan shelving

You can always give the impression you have a bigger kitchen by adding some open plan shelving, you are creating the illusion that your kitchen is, in fact, bigger than it appears. Not only does it just create the appearance of a lot more space in your kitchen, it also allows you to show case some key items that you love. This can be a fantastic opportunity for you to buy some new and fancy glasses or some beautiful pieces of crockery. Let your inner style shine and create shelves, which all your friends will be marvelled by.

Get new lighting

Updating your lighting to some quality lights can be one of the easier ways you can get your dream kitchen. Lighting is important and attributes to setting the mood, creating your own personal style and can help you bring attention to key features in your kitchen. If you want to update your lighting find a clever way to place them as this may lead to your kitchen appearing much bigger, and who doesn’t want more space! Or even just the illusion of more space.

Painting your space.

Adding a fresh lick of paint is a great and easy way you can improve your space and not have a hefty price tag. By painting your walls it gives a new, fresh and clean to reawaken your tired kitchen. This can extend to painting your cabinets as well. You can be bold with your colour choice or be as conservative as you like! The beauty of painting isn’t just because its low cost, but it can also be a fun and exciting DIY project for you.

Upgrade appliances

This may cost a bit more money than the rest of the list; it will massively improve your kitchen. Buying some new household gadgets may make your whole house seem newer as the design has modernised. Also, it may save you money as you are now able to buy energy-saving appliances and this may even save you money on those monthly bills.

Five Tips to Turn Clutter into Order (without too much hassle)

Clutter gets you down. It’s a slow creep, but eventually you realise you can’t do the things you want because there’s no space, too much mess, and it’ll take all the spare time you have just to make room for what you wanted to do.

When it reaches this stage, it’s time to wage war on clutter.

#1 – Get Organised

Everybody hangs on to things ‘just in case’. It can reach the stage when there’s nowhere in cupboards and wardrobes to keep the stuff you want because they’re full of things you no longer use.

Getting tough on those space stealers is the first step to mastering clutter instead of letting it master you. Take it slowly, doing just one room at a time. Start with the least cluttered room, because when you get a relatively easy success you’re more motivated to tackle something more challenging.

Go through all the cupboards and divide stuff into three piles:

• Keepers
• Trash
• Savers

The keepers you’ll have somewhere either to hand or on display. The trash items speak for themselves. Be ruthless and have a big black bin bag to hand so you’re less likely to change your mind. The savers are items you want to keep, such as sentimental value things or heirlooms you can’t part with. These you’ll pack away and store elsewhere.

Having sorted possessions in this way you’ll already feel like you’re reclaiming your space. Time to move on.

#2 – Find and Use Hidden Spaces

Hidden spaces include under the stairs, or even under the kitchen cabinets (that area that’s generally blocked off with kick boards). But hidden spaces can also be hiding in plain sight.

Look up, and see all that space on the wall. We tend to ignore high up spaces, but it’s valuable real estate for shelving to hold books, ornaments, collections or anything else you want on display. And the best thing is shelving works in every room, and is usually out of reach of little fingers.

#3 – Making More of Storage Furniture

Digital gadgets are part of everyday life, but they really contribute to clutter when they’re left lying on surfaces, especially in living rooms.

Storage furniture provides a solution in the form of coffee tables or end tables that have drawers and shelves built in. When you can scoop chargers, controllers, remotes, tablets and phones out of sight, surfaces are clean and tidy, but gadgets are still handy.

In bedrooms, make beds work harder. Choose divans or ottomans over frame beds and use the built in storage for toys in kids’ rooms or spare linens and duvets in the master bedroom.

#4 – Use Self Storage for Seasonal Items

We live according to the seasons, either consciously or unconsciously, doing different things depending on the weather and time of year.

Those activities generally involve different bits of kit, from lawn mowers and barbecues to sports equipment or seasonal clothing. Keeping them at home takes up space and adds to the feeling of clutter.

Self storage is an answer many people are discovering. The rooms come in all sizes and are quite inexpensive. The rental terms are short, so giving up a room or moving to a different size is quick and easy. Plus, most of us live within striking distance of a self storage facility.

Storing items not being used frees up a surprising amount of space, whether it’s more room in the garage to work on the car, or more space in the house to arrange things in everyday use.

#5 – Banish Dumping Grounds

Let’s face it, we all have them. Post and junk mail gets tossed on the side ‘for later’, keys get dropped on counters or hall tables, and shoes pile up just inside doorways. Making tiny changes in these areas can really help control or banish small dumping grounds:

• Install a key rack and use it.
• Invest in a letter rack where all incoming mail gets stacked until you have time to deal with it.
• Put a shoe rack by the door, or make it a household rule that shoes are placed in whatever area you designate for them.

Sometimes, changing just one little habit, or tackling one little area, can have a big impact on clutter.

What To Look For When Moving to a Rented Property

rented propertyI’ve mentioned before that Husband and I have lived in rented property for our whole adult lives and in fact, since we’ve been together we’ve actually lived in EIGHT different properties in 11 and a half years! We’ve seen a LOT of properties, ranging from flats to houses to bungalows, both old and new, when searching for properties to move to and I think it’s given us a pretty good level of expertise when it comes to weeding out the bad ones. Here’s a few of the things we look out for when viewing a property:


It’s a fact that lots of properties have a problem with damp and it can be really tricky to live with. Husband and I have moved out of a home we LOVED before because the damp was up to the dado rail in one room and the walls were totally black. The landlord was unwilling to deal with it, so we had no choice but to move. Signs of damp when you view a house are obviously the smell, which is usually the first thing to hit you. Bubbling wallpaper and black marks in corners or behind furniture are also a sure sign. Some landlords try to hide damp by painting over it but it will ALWAYS come back through and will not only look bad but can cause lung complaints and illness.


Before we moved into the house we’re in now, we moved to a house which boasted fitted appliance, so we sold all of our high-quality appliances and used the fitted ones. Within a matter of weeks, the cooker, dishwasher and washing machine ALL broke and we hadn’t realised that it was our responsibility to replace them. Check first whether the landlord is retaining ownership of any fitted appliances or you could end up with a lot of expense on your hands right after moving.


Okay, this is obviously a tough one because you probably aren’t an electrician and won’t be doing a detailed check, however, somethings are obvious. Husband and I once viewed a flat which has no plug sockets in the bedroom, so the owner had drilled the whole way through the wall, plugged a hopper into the loung and routed it through the wall to be used in the bedroom. I cannot even begin to imagine how much of a fire hazard that must have been!


Letting agents are really clever about when they will show a house which is in a potentially noisy spot. Our last house was on a bus route and after moving in we discovered that the “double glazing” was totally shot and didn’t keep out any sound at all, but we viewed the property early on a Saturday morning when no buses were due and traffic was at a minimum. If you’re concerned about noise, always try to book a viewing when the surrounding area is at it’s busiest.


Listen, I don’t mean to sound like a snob because quite frankly, I don’t give a hoot what anyone else does in their own home. However, if you’re the sort of person who values quiet and solitude above all else then moving in a house where you’re flanked by young families, sharers or students probably isn’t the best bet for you. Try to assess the neighbourhood because even if you fall in love with a house, the surrounding area just might not suit you.


A Good Landlord/Tenant Relationship

landlord locked outHusband and I have been together for 11 and a half years now and in that time, we’ve always lived in rented houses. We’ve no inclination to buy with the way the market is at the moment and we like the fact that if something major goes wrong, like a boiler needing to be replaced, the expense isn’t ours. We probably pay more in rent than we would on a mortgage but for us, it’s worth it. However, one thing we’ve realised is that having a good relationship with our landlord is really important.

We’ve lived in properties in the past where a letting agent has managed the property on behalf of the landlord and it usually means that it takes forever to get anything done because you’re always waiting for phonecalls to be answered or emails to be replied to, so we were happy to know when we moved into our current property that our landlady would be managing it herself, and it’s got us out of a bind in the past.

One evening, last summer, Husband, the kids and I did what we often do on a Saturday evening and went to my MIL’s for dinner. It was the evening of our village summer dance and most of the village was over there, having a boogie, but we couldn’t take the kids so we gave it a miss. Once we got home, we realised that we’d managed to forget our door key; it had been taken off of the fob earlier in the day so that it would fit into a running belt and not put back, so although we’d managed to deadlock the door, the main chubb key was missing.

We umed and ahhed about how the hell we could get into the house, checking windows, knocking on neighbours doors (it was well after 10pm by then and got no answers) until we remembered that our lovely landlady was at the village dance. We raced round the country lanes, managed to find her with a plastic beaker of white wine in her hand and threw ourselves at her mercy. Within minutes, she’d managed to recruit a friend of her family (who is a builder) to come and cut through the door frame to get to the lock and force it from the outside, and we were in the house in no time at all.

We realised at this point that not only were we lucky to have forgotten the key on an evening that she was around, but also that we REALLY needed to invest in some spare keys and a lockable box to hide somewhere, should we ever have such a disaster again! Possibly the most amazing part is that our landlady also refusd to accept any money towards the subsequent repair which had to be done to sort out the door frame again after our disaster! We were so grateful for her help and it made us realise exactly how lucky we were to have such a fab landlady!

Do you have a good relationship with your landlord? Have you ever had a disaster and needed their help? Do leave me a comment below telling me all about it!

Finding ‘Zen’ In The Home

Life is hectic enough. However, when you have kids and a partner to tend to as well as holding down a full time job, then you’ll know the true definition of hectic. Add personal struggles and issues on top of this and yep – you guessed it. That is the thing though, whoever we are – life doesn’t stand still for anyone and this is all relative. Even if we have things relatively easy and simple it can still seem pretty hectic! To each, their own.

With so much going on, we need to find the time to chill out. In fact, we could do with learning a bit from the Buddhists. You may have noticed the word ‘Zen’ in the title – that comes from a specific school of Buddhism. Zen is all about self-control, meditation, insight and finding ourselves – not just for our own sake, but for the benefit of others. For you, this could be for the family. Nowadays, Zen has become a synonym for ‘chill’ which itself would be a colloquial word.  Now, families are based in homes – these homes can be super hectic and add to the stresses of life, or they can become chilled zones that allow us to release our stress and get away from work life for a bit. They can also help relax our personal stresses and tensions. That won’t happen if zen is nowhere to be found in the home. We need the home to become a foundation for our escapes, because if we have no way to escape from outside life and the hectic activity of the working week it can lead to stress. Stress, in large doses will do a heck of a lot of damage to a body and a mind. Your home, with some work can become the perfect remedy to any stress caused by the outside world.


The very first thing we can do to make our homes a more chilled out place is to clean up. Messy environments lend to messy minds. We need to make sure our homes are not just clean, but also tidy and organized. This does involve a bit of work and some elbow grease, but the rewards are amazing. Stick to a regular routine and get your house clean with the help of the family. A clean home is important as it provides sanctuary for the mind – thus allowing you to chill out.

A home that we can chill in first needs to be a home we are actually comfortable in. This could mean a lot of things. Firstly, it does mean a clean home, so carry on cleaning, tidying and organizing. It also means a home that is physically comfortable. Do you like relaxing in your armchair, or is it giving you pain? Do you have comfortable furniture to relax in? If not – you might need to go out and get some. Comfort is the basis of home, if there is no comfort, then you cannot relax. Comfort is also emotional, if you don’t feel like yourself in the home, you’ve got a few problems that need to be fixed. Make the home more ‘you’. Install art that you love and make space in your home for your hobbies. Every home you live in should be yours and showcase the personality of you and your family. Adding ornaments souvenirs and memories around the home can help with this.

Then we return to zen – what is meditation if not an escape? This doesn’t mean that you need to sit down ‘Indian style’ and start humming, it means you need to escape. Find hobbies that take your brain places. Watch good films and absorbing documentaries.

Combine reading with comfort, these books are worth reading when you need an escape and reading is one of the best hobbies there is for your mind! If you’re into music, get a nice speaker setup and your favorite tunes loaded up. There are plenty of ways to escape life in the home, through books, films, music, and other hobbies. You just need your home to become a foundation for your escapes. How do you achieve that? By getting it clean, adding your own personality to the home and by ensuring that you and your family are comfortable in the home.


The home is the perfect place to escape from the world – and if you can add a bit of ‘zen’ to your surroundings through your actions or the design or contents of the home, you’ll be able to relax better than ever before.


Tips for Selling a Family Home

If you’re planning to sell your home, you might not want to spend a huge amount of money on the property before you sell it, but there are lots of little tweaks that you can make which won’t cost the earth but will increase your chances of finding a buyer. Today, I’m looking at five simple things that you can do which will make buyers see the potential of your home:


Many people want outdoor space but will stuggle to see the potential of a garden or green space which is wild and overgrown. Spend a weekend mowing lawns, weeding borders and generally tidying up as much as you can. A neat frint garden will increase the curb appeal of your home exponentially.

Front Door

Your front door is the gateway to your home and if it looks shabby, it can make the whole house look shabby too. If it’s a wooden door then sand it down and give it a new lick of paint in a frsh, vibrant colour (West London estate agents Featherstone Leigh suggest that red is one of the colours which appeals to buyers the most!) and if you have a UPVC door, make sure it’s spotlessly clean and free from cobwebs!


If your house suffers with poor lighting then it can immediately give a bad impression of the whole space. Most house buyers want light and airiness, so if you’re using bulbs which give off barely more than a candle’s worth of light, you might want to consider opting for a bulb with a brighter but warmer hue. Lamps are also nice, especially if you’re showing a house at night because they’ll give a cosy, homely feel.


If you’re a bit of a hoarder, you might like to live with a lot of STUFF around you, but most house buyers report being put-off of an otherwise perfect home because of the seller’s clutter. It can be really hard to see past random clutter and too many furnishings to imagine how a space would look with our own stuff in it, so pare back your clutter as much as you can – getting rid of stuff will make packin to move a lot easier, too!


Cleanliness is really important to most buyers. A house doesn’t have to look like a show home, but for most people the thought of moving into a house and having to clean of a layer of grime from the previous tenants is more than a little off-putting. If you’re going to spend money on anything, invest in paying a provate cleaning company to come and do a one-off deep clean of your property before you put it on the market. It will look better, smell better and undoubtedly be more appealing to the people you want to buy it.

My Dream Hobby Room

My Dream Hobby RoomI have to admit, I spend more time looking at Rightmove than is really necesary for someone who has no intention of moving. I’ve always loved looking at other people’s houses and can often be found binge-watching episodes of Grand Designs or Location, Location, Location just to get my interiors fix! I love dreaming about what I’d do if space and money were no object and at the moment, a hobby room is at the top of my list. Read on for an insight into what I’d have in my ultimate hobby room:

A Sewing Station

I absolutely love to sew and make clothes but I often lack the space to do it, so a dedicated space with a dressmakers dummy and lots of fabric storage would be a great way to enable me to get sewing. Valentino’s Displays has an amazing range of clothes rails, mannequins, hangers and storage bins and I reckon I could get everything I needed for my sewing area on their site.

A Reading Nook

I’ve always been able to read just about anywhere, probably from years of reading on buses and trains, but these days I do require a little bit of quiet to enable me to get lost in a book. A comfy armchair in the corner of the room with a little table for a lamp and my latte is definitely a bit part of my fantasy room.

A Writing Area

Writing is both a hobby and my profession and although I tend to work on a laptop literally on my lap, Burrito Baby is off to nursery in September which means I don’t have to only work in the room she’s in! A proper working area where my laptop could sit and I could use a decent ergonomic chair would not only be a novelty, but it would probably also be a lot better for my back!

A Proper Coffee Machine

These days, my vices are well and truly confined to the virtuous, never more so than now, given the fact that I even eat clean and don’t drink alcohol (well…hardly ever!). However, one thing that I absolutely refuse to give up is decent coffee! I tend to use my Waitrose card to get a free cup every day and I think I’d be considerably poorer if I didn’t get my coffee fix from there! Having a coffee machine in my hobby room with a proper milk steamer would be the ultimate indulgence for me.

A Yoga Corner

Since I started going to yoga classes at my gym a few months ago, I’ve found a really deep love of it. It’s one of my favourite hours of my whole week and I look forward to it every Saturday. I’d love to be able to do it more often but we really don’t have much space at home for yoga because our house is pretty cluttered. A dedicated space to find my zen and get my stretch on would be a dream!

What would you have in your dream hobby room?

To Move or to Improve, That Is the Question

Should you move home or improve your current abode? Should you relocate elsewhere or renovate where you are now? This is a huge decision that can impact your whole household, so it should not be taken lightly. There are a whole host of factors that should be taken into account if this a decision you have been thinking about or even faced with of late. A few of these factors can be found below to try and help you make the right decision.

First of all you have to think about the space your current home offers to you and your family. Children may spend the first years of their lives sleeping in the same room as their parents but there soon comes a time when they need their own. This means you have to have the rooms in your home to meet the demand, and to make rooms you need space. Now, your children could certainly cohabit in the same bedroom but there are proven dangers of having children of different ages do this. Because of this it may be prudent to relocate and seek a bigger home. And on the other end of the space spectrum you may also need to downsize too. If, for example, you are of an older generation and your mobility stops you from going upstairs then it may be time to downsize, no matter how hard that may be. It really is a case of considering how much house you realistically need before you invest any of your finances into either moving or improving. There are ways you can make the most out the space in your home, but if space really is an issue then moving is the best course of action.
Packed up and ready to move

But if space is not an issue and you are truly happy in your current abode then why waste your money on moving? Why not just plant your flag even deeper and renovate your current home? Renovating is the perfect way to scratch any itches you have to make a change and is a lot cheaper to do than to relocate. And there are even ways to renovate on a budget. Low costs do not have to result in a poor standard of renovation. But if you want to both relocate and renovate then there are ways you can have the best of both worlds. You could turn a building into a home by purchasing a place that needs a lot work doing on it. If this is your calling you should though be aware that you have to be very careful so as to ensure that you are protected in the venture. You should take a look into building survey quotes so you can have any prospective properties vetted professionally. Municipal reports don’t always dig up everything that is wrong with a home. By having any that you dedicate your finances to surveyed you might be able to have money knocked off the asking price. And that’s only ever a good thing, right?

Renovation needed

So, whether you want to move home or improve your home, it’s completely up to you. You have to feel for which scratch is the most itchy and then proceed to itch it!

Garden Furniture Fun for Summer

This September will be 2 years since we moved to our little place in the countryside and we’re hoping to finally get around to doing some of the bigger things that need to be done. Husband is waiting for the drier weather to paint our bedroom (we have a rather annoying damp problem that makes it impossible to do anything until the weather warms up a fair bit) and I’m hoping to get into the garden and make it a really nice space for us to enjoy this summer. We don’t currently have any garden furniture (a trampoline doesn’t count, right?!) and I’ve been looking at Alexander Francis to see what sort of thing we’d like. Here are some of my faves:

Tuscany Black Rattan Corner Sofa and Dining Table

garden furniture

I really like the idea of a multifunctional set like this one. It has comfortable seating and doubles up as a dining area, so we’d have the best of both worlds. There’s plenty of space for us to all enjoy a bit of alfresco dining, plus it would be the ideal place for Husband and I to lounge in the evening anf anjoy a glass of Pimms together. This is also spot-on in terms of current garden trends.

Sicilia Black Rattan Garden Dining Set

garden furniture 2

A slightly more formal dining set could also work well for us as we’d be able to enjoy dinner in the garden and there’s more than enough space for us and dinner guests. It would be a lovely place for the girls to sit and paint of craft in the summer, or even a nice place for Sausage to do homework or sit and read.

Milano Large Rattan Garden Corner Sofa and Chair

garden furniture 3

We’re lucky enough to have a really decent sized garden, so we don’t have to worry about space, which means that a set like this would also work well. It’s huge, which means we’d have plenty of places to sit, and the set would look absolutely stunning on our lawn. I can also imagine it being arranged very nicely around our huge paddling pool when we get it out in the summer!

Napoli Black Rattan Sun Loungers

garden furniture 4

I’m not much of a sun worshipper and certainly don’t actively sunbathe, but I do really like the idea of having somewhere to lay in the garden and read while the girls are playing outside. I’m a bit gun-shy after sitting on one of my MILs sun loungers last year and breaking it, but these look very sturdy and comfortable, so it’ll be less of a worry!!

What type of garden furniture do you prefer?