11 articles Tag space

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.

Creating Space Without Extending Your House

I’ve written many a blog post in the past about how to create space n your house, but when you live in a rental property, extending your property just isn’t an option. As much as I’d love a conservatory or big extension, it’s simply not on the cards and even for people who own their house, adding bits on it’s always possible because of planning permission, lack of space or just not enough funds. I thought I’d share a few ideas with you for creating a sense of space in a house without needing add an extra wing!

Smaller Furniture

Going out and replacing your furniture obviously isn’t always the most economical way to live, but taking a critical look at your furniture and deciding whether it really fits the space is a good place to start. Overstuffed couches are super comfy, but if they fill a room and make it feel claustrophobic, they might not be the best choice for you. Instead of taking a look at you own furniture you could also take a critical look at the way you’re using the space.

Roof Windows

Adding windows to a room is a really great way to give an illusion of space because it floods the space with light and draw the eye upwards to the sky, rather than into dark corners in a tight space. The brand Solstro has summed up the most important roofwindows benefits; which I couldn’t agree with more. Roofwindows are a great addition to a room if you’re able use them and will cost a fraction of what you’d pay for an extension.

Mirrors

It sounds like such a cliche, something that Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen would have said in an early 90’s episode of Changing Rooms, but mirrors really do give the illusion of space, purely because they reflect the space which already exists and makes it look twice as big. The dining room in our house is the smallest room, but we have a large mirror at one end and it really helps the space to feel less poky.

Lighter, Simpler

Dark colours and intricate patterns are the quickest way to make a space feel closed in and overwhelming. Scaling back your patterns to something smaller and simpler, as well as opting for lighter colours, will open a space up and make it feel less closed-in. That doesn’t mean that your room has to be boring; there are some beautiful wallpapers out there which are both patterned and light in colour which can make any space look elegant and well-finished.

Do you have small spaces in your house which you’ve managed to open up without extending? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear about it.

How Office Layouts Can Affect Your Productivity

When it comes to being productive, I definitely need some help; working for myself whilst caring for a toddler (and an 8 year old…and a 37 year old Husband…!) means that my actual work space is pretty ad-hoc. I use a laptop and tend to use it wherever I can so that Burrito Baby can watch TV or play with her toys, which means that my “office” has been everything from our lounge, the car or even outside on the garden bench whilst the kids are on the trampoline!

What I didn’t know (or maybe just didn’t occur to me, as it makes total sense) is that office layout can affect your productivity and how you arrange a meeting room can also affect how meetings go (see this infographic from jason.l with recommended layouts for meeting rooms). I don’t currently have meetings at home but I do have the occasional Skype or Hangout meeting and having a proper space to conduct these in would be really useful.

The irony is, we DO actually have an office space in our house, I just never use it! Husband has his PC set up in there and our wardrobes and clothes storage are also in there, so it’s a kind of office/dressing room, but everything in there is pretty neutral so it would be ideal for vlogging/Skype. Burrito Baby is starting nursery in September and this will give me the chance to start working at a proper desk and keeping everything I need on one place, rather than searching for my laptop charger every time I get a low battery notification!

I’m looking forward to seeing how this will affect my own productivity. It’s literally been years since I worked at a proper desk with a pen pot and a coaster for my coffee and I’m almost worried that the change from working on a sofa will be TOO different and will actually distract me! I’m so used to all of my work being done with Paw Patrol or Bob’s Burgers playing the the background that working in silence might be too weird – it might be time to invest in a radio!

Do you have a dedicated working space set up at home? Do you actually use it or do you find yourself working on a laptop wherever you can? Have you put a lot of time and effeort into nsuring you have the perfect working space? I’d love to hear from you and see links to posts about your own office so please do leave me a comment below.

So You Can’t Have A Conservatory…

Conservatory’s have always been desirable additions to make to a property. They add extra space, they connect the house to the garden, they are lovely to sit in in summer in the sunshine, or in winter listening to the rain and wind outside. They also let a lot of extra light into the rest of the home. The problem is, there are several reasons you might not be able to have a conservatory including:

  • The necessary means to actually have one built.
  • The ‘right to light’ law means your planning permission has been turned down.
  • The design of the conservatory may not be deemed acceptable to neighbours and may therefore be turned down.
  • You may be trying to build in a protected habitat, so you can’t build because the habitat is protected by law.
  • The building may count as an environmental issue and so, planning permission may be turned down.

There are lots of current laws and legislations surrounding planning permission, and unfortunately it may be that the property you are in cannot be extended in that way.

So what now?

First and foremost you need to let go of the idea of a conservatory, because that simply isn’t the destiny of your home. It was most likely a big dream for you, because it isn’t cheap so you’re likely to have really wanted it to put plans in to make it happen, and that is really hard to digest. But, there are other options for you, that can give you many of the positive points of having a conservatory, without the extension itself.

Light, Light, Light

One of the biggest aspects of a conservatory is the light it brings in. You get to sit in a lovely light room, and the connecting room benefits from this addition of natural light as well. One easy way to get around this, is by investing in bifolding doors. Just think about it. Instead of a big, dark wall cutting you off from the garden, you might not have a conservatory but you will have a big beautiful set of doors that let light in and connect you to the garden. Timber orangeries could also be an option. 

A Lovely Outdoor Space

You may have nicely trimmed grass, some well kept flower beds and perhaps a table and chairs outside, but you don’t have an outdoor space that is essentially another room. A space you can relax in, do work in, entertain in, during all weathers. If you can’t get a conservatory, why not use that garden space to make a ‘garden room’? The key to this room being multifunctional is weather control. Whether it is decking or concrete you’re sitting or standing on, you should have adequate weather protection above you so if it rains, or if the sun is really hot, you have protection. Other ideas to make the perfect garden room are:

  • Adding heating gadgets like an outdoor heater so you can enjoy the space no matter what the weather
  • Adding seating you absolutely love, so you feel comfortable in that space
  • Adding lighting like outdoor fairy lights so the space can be used after dark
  • Adding gadgets like a pizza oven or chiminea (with adequate ventilation) so you can have fun cooking outside as well

Add A Sun Room

A sunroom is often mistaken for a conservatory, but it is not the same thing. A conservatory is often fully glazed, whereas a sunroom has a roof with tiles and offers more protection from the sun. Your sunroom should be OK under Permitted Development laws as long as it hits certain rules such as:

  • Not being bigger than 30 metres square
  • To be single story and no higher than 4 metres
  • To not extend out further than 6 metres on a semi-detached property, or 8 metres on a detached property
  • To be completely free of any porches, verandas or balconies
  • To stand lower than the existing roof of the property

You can check the criteria on the Government’s official planning permission website. This could be the perfect second option for you if you can’t have a conservatory because of planning permission.

See If You Can Get Round Planning Permission

Usually the only rules you can get around when it comes to planning permission relate to when neighbours disagree with your proposed plan. With the right to light law, you would probably need a specialist lawyer if you wanted to contest it as the rules around it are very blurry. If the neighbours are unhappy for any other reason, then you may well be able to adapt your plans to suit. If your heart is set on a conservatory, it may be worth the hassle of changing the plans to make the neighbours happy, and get planning permission.

Add A Summer House

A summer house is a building you have in your garden, but it is not attached to it. A summer house will usually fall under the ‘outbuildings’ category which means it should come under permitted developments. However there are limitations with wildlife conservation areas, listed buildings and other laws and legalities – so always check before you build. If you are able to have one, although not attached to the house, this could be the perfect way to have an additional leisure space on your land.

Hopefully you’re feeling a little more inspired to move forward with your plans to have the home you really want. Remember, whatever puts a stop to your current plans, can always be manoeuvred around or worked with to create new plans, or get your current ones going again, you just need to do your research, make compromises and be persistent.

 

Making the Most of Your Space at Home

spaceSometimes, it can feel like your house has got smaller, when in fact it’s a simple case of your growing family needing more room, but moving isn’t always an option, especially if you own your home and don’t want a bigger mortgage. There are, however, plenty of innovative ways that you can gain space in your current home just by making a few changes. Here, we take a look at some of the spaces you can reclaim in order to make the most of your space.

Extend Upwards

If you live in a house with a decent sized loft, this is probably the most obvious area to claim as living space. Many people have lofts which are big enough to accommodate a full bathroom as well as a couple of bedrooms, or even a big master suite, and this can add real value to your home so your investment will be protected. Opt for VELUX windows (more here) for a real sense of space and light. There are a huge amount of options with VELUX windows, and they’re super energy efficient, giving you space, light AND insulation against the cold. You also needn’t worry about noise, because VELUX is great at blocking out noise and even minimises the sound of rain or hail on the window!

Convert Your Garage

Recent research showed that only 24% of people actually use their garages for storing their car, which means you could have a whole load of space which isn’t fulfilling its potential. If the garage is attached to your home, you could easily knock through and re-purpose the space, maybe giving you a huge kitchen/dining/living area, or even an extra bedroom. Even if your garage is detached and in the garden, it could still be refurbished into a delightful office space or granny annexe.

Under the Stairs

Many houses have a cupboard under the stairs but in actual fact, the WHOLE of a staircase is usually empty underneath and simply boxed away. There’s so much space under a staircase just asking to be utilised – lots of people strip away the boxing in altogether and use it as office space, with a desk underneath. It can also be turned into really innovative storage if you add drawers and cupboards along the full length of the staircase.

Conservatories

If you’re crying out for more space then a conservatory could be an excellent solution. Conservatories aren’t the draughty, cold spaces they used to be with modern glazing and insulation and they’re perfect for using as a playroom, dining room, second sitting room (great if you have bigger kids!) or any other space that you may require.

Summer Houses

If you have a decent amount of outdoor space then a wooden summer house could be the ideal solution to your space issues. One of my friends uses  summer house as a writing retreat and takes her laptop down there when she needs space and it provides the perfect place for her to work, distraction-free.

 

The Dulux Kids’ Bedroom Project

One thing that Husband and I are really adamant about is that kids should be allowed to have opinions and preferences, and should be given the time and space to express themselves exactly as they’d like to. A few weeks ago, Sausage made a passing comment about how cool it would be if she was allowed to have pink hair and after a little bit of discussion between Husband and I we told her that we had no major objections…and then this happened:

Pink Hair, Don't Care!

It’s a dip-dye which means that it’s easy enough to trim the bottom few inches of her hair off once she’s back to the daily grind, and it’s made her feel really special and grown-up, being allowed to have such wacky hair!

By the same token, we think that kids should have a say in their surroundings too. I’m not talking about letting them choose the wallpaper for the living room, but their own bedroms should be a place where they feel a bit of ownership, which is why I love the new project by Dulux, getting kids involved in the design on of their rooms. The Dulux Kids’ Bedroom Summer Holiday Workbook is a downloadable .pdf which allows kids to gather and record their colour preferences, inspirations and input into the design of their own rooms, so that Mum and Dad can create a space which the kids feel truly connected to.

Dulux Kids Workbook

Dulux have conducted a load of research which shows that kids really value being part of the decorating process:

An overwhelming majority of kids (92%) would spend more time playing in their room and doing their homework if they have a say in how it’s decorated.

Research commissioned by leading paint brand Dulux found a whopping number of children value being part of the decorating process, with the majority saying it was the second most important thing they had ever done – even more important to them than their first day at school or losing their first tooth.

The study of 2,000 families shows that children also found decorating with their parents a really positive experience, with 65 per cent saying they felt happy and 58 per cent excited at the prospect of helping mum and dad.

Additionally, parents commented that decorating together helped to increase their child’s sense of ownership, pride and opportunity for creative expression. Some parents said it even ensured rooms were tidier, because they wanted to show it off to their friends and family.

Surprisingly, however, whilst an indisputable 92 per cent of parents believe that decorating their child’s room is important, the study found that only a QUARTER of parents actually consulted their kids or involved them in the process.

Dulux offers a whole range of paints which are perfect for decorating a kids’ room – Dulux’s Endurance+ range is the perfect paint for a kid’s bedroom makeover – it’s 20 times stronger than normal emulsion, so when you’re tackling sticky fingers and mucky paws it’s a great solution, allowing you to wipe away the stain and not the paint underneath, meaning your walls stay as fresh as the day you painted them!

We’ll definitely be using the Dulux workbook when we get around to decorating the girls’ room and I can’t wait to see what crazy ideas they come up with. They’re sharing a room at the moment but have very distinct little personalities, so there’s a good chance we’ll end up with a room completely split down the middle, with one colour on one side and a completely different colour on the other! We’ll be sure to share the results with you when it happens.

For more info on Dulux and their ranges, you can tweet them on Twitter using their handle, @DuluxUK plus the hashtag #KidsBedroom

How to Get Extra Space at Home

Renting your home means that it can be quite tricky to find ways to gain extra space in your home. As much as we’d love to start adding extensions into our current property, I’m not sure that our landlady would be on board with that, so it means we would have to be a little more creative to find added space. Obviously, in an ideal world, we’d love to just create a loft extension with a roof-light window and some VELUX blinds to use as a master suite with a bedroom and grown-up bathroom, but alas, it’s not an option! Here are some other ideas of how to get space without moving or starting major renovations:

Summer House

Wooden summer houses are a great way to add space if you have room in your garden. They can be decorated and fitted out to look really quite swanky, and can even be fitted with electricity, which would allow you to add lightling and potentially even an office space if you work from home. Someone I know has created a whole home spa area in a large summer house with a hot tub and bar!

Raised Bed

It used to be only kids who slept in bunkbeds, but lots of the major furniture retailers also now sell double beds which are raised around 6ft off of the ground and accessible via ladder. Although this doesn’t technically add space, per se, it allows you to reclaim a few square meters which would usually be taken up by the bed. You could add a seating area underneath, or even a wardrobe!

Wasted Space

Under-Stair-Storage-For-Coats

Often, if you look around a home, you’ll see lots of areas which are actually wasted space. For instance, while many of us will have a cupboard under the stairs, there’s actually tons of space under the whole staircase, which a good carpenter can often turn into a really useful storage solution with pull-out drawers. Another place is under the bath – a sliding bath panel can give you a place to hide away all of the toiletries which don’t get used everyday, allowing you to really conceal your clutter.

Multifunctional furniture

Because space is at a premium here in the UK, people seem to be getting used to living in smaller properties, which requires you to be inventive about your belongings. This has given rise to a lot of clever companies making furniture which is multifunctional or can be folded away when not in use. Think about how much room you could save if your dining table folded up to the size of a suitcase?!

Go Outdoors!

Often, people don’t utilise their outdoor spaces to their fullest. Live in a flat but want a garden? How about some window boxes to grow your kitchen garden! There are so many clever solutions for outdoor spaces and you might find that bringing your garden/balcony/windowsill into your plan for living can really help you to feel like you aren’t completely boxed in.

extra space at home

Creating Our Own Spaces

In the past, our sleeping arrangements as a family have been somewhat…bohemian. In our last house, Sausage was nervous about sleeping in a new room and BB was still tiny and so shared our room anyway and we all ended up sleeping in the same room for six months. When we moved here, the circumstances under which we’d been forced to move meant that we were reluctant to make the house our own, in case we were asked to leave again, so once again we slept like a pack of wolves, all sharing a room.

A few months ago though, we decided that enough was enough and we needed a space of our own, as did the girls, so they moved into their own room and we took back our own space to make it a proper grown up bedroom. This has meant lots of lovely window-shopping for new bedroom furniture, including plenty of excuses to look at Julian Bowen collection from bedsos!

At the moment, Husband and my bedroom is looking a little bare; we’ve had some problems with damp and have been waiting until it was resolved to decorate, but this decidedly UN-summery weather really isn’t helping! The girls however have been able to put their own stamp on their room with some beautiful while bunk beds and some very handy cat wall stickers, which are totally removable but make the room look fabulous!

BB is absolutely in LOVE with her first ever big girls bedroom! She wants to spend ALL of her time in there, especially when she can rope her older sister in to play with her, and Sausage likes having a place to work at her desk and watch her Pokemon episodes!

Husband and I also enjoy having a space to ourselves. Often, we’ll spend the evening in there  once the girls are asleep (GET YOUR MIND OUT OF THE GUTTER!) watching TV, reading or using our various laptops/smartphones and other devices. It’s just nice to have somewhere to sit that isn’t the living room sometimes.

Another thing I really enjoy is shopping for bedding; I’m definitely in the camp of ‘love slipping into a freshly made bed’ and that feeling only intensifies when that bedding is brand new! Husband and I own a fair amount of bedding but some of it has seen better days (yes, I’m a horror for boil washing everything and making it fade!) so choosing new bedding which co-ordinates with our newly decorated room is something I’m really looking forward to. Yes, small pleasures, but pleasures none the less!

What’s your bedroom like? Is it a wolf cave or a grown-up only space? Do you love your room or do you feel it’s in need of a real overhaul? Leave me a comment below.

 

Mummy On-the-Go: Finding a Floor Rug That Isn’t Your Foe


When living in small rented bungalows, personalising the living space means working within the landlord’s boundaries. My husband and I are to some degree limited with how stylish we can actually make our place. Let’s get real – rental cabinetry, hardware, and middle-of-the-road carpet quality are not really our style. Switching these things would make a huge difference, if rental property rules weren’t so black and white. So when we wanted to make our girls’ bedroom theirs, I had to look for a minimal-effort, easily changed décor ingredient that still delivers a richly textured scheme. I decided to go with a floor rug.

Beside defining a space, throw rugs come in an assortment of colours and textures and are the easiest way to add warmth and style to a room. In a way, area rugs are like cocktails – they are the first foray into a menu and contribute to the overall atmosphere of a party. Knowing that the rug I choose will either make or break the room, I had to choose wisely. However I wasn’t sure whether I should focus on making a grand statement, or if design should take second place to durability. Between my kids eating and playing, and our spunky English Bull Terrier, I knew the rug would take a beating. I needed something tough and kid proof.

After few days of CSI-style online investigating and a Sherlock Holmes-esque intuition (the being-mother talent I’ve mastered over the years), I finally decided to go with a striped floor rug in an array of cool, pastel rainbow colours. It’s hand-loomed and hand-tufted out of 100% Japanese acrylic.


I did first consider natural fiber rugs as they are advertised as the safest and child friendly. I was leaning more towards cotton, mainly because it’s a natural product that is strong yet budget-friendly. Also, cotton area rugs are usually made in a flat wave, toys slide across easily and I thought cleaning would be a breeze. However, after researching, I learned that with time, cotton fibers get matted and tend to accumulate dander and dirt particles easily.

I then thought of wool, but learned these are quite hard to clean. Using a vacuum’s rotary brush is not recommended (fiber may fuzz) and neither is DIY deep-cleaning, because the majority of store bought cleaners are high in alkaline which can damage fibers. Also, since wool fibers absorb more water, they are harder to dry. Wool was therefore off the list as well.

I had to consider what was safest to go below my girls’ feet. Since they spend plenty of time in their room, I wanted something that would be able to withstand rough handling – Sausage’s painting and crafting mishaps and BB’s inevitable spills and potty accidents. After weighing all the options, I knew Japanese acrylic was the way to go.

Although made of man-made fibers, it’s lightweight and made in short pile so it doesn’t permanently trap every crumb. The rug feels and looks like wool, less the staggering price tag and risk of airborne allergies. It is warm, plush, soft and feels springy underfoot. The acrylic helps the rug breathe (absorb and release moisture), and has good resistance to oil and stains. The backing is made of cotton which not only ensures the durability of the rug, but also reduces odours. And best of all, it is actually very easy to clean.

I usually roll it up, put it out in the front yard and clean it with a mild dish detergent (never a laundry detergent) and water. This is the best combination to attack ink markers and chocolate stains. Because I power-wash the rug once or twice a year, every few weeks I deodorize it with baking soda. Between soft drink spills, BB’s potty training accidents and the rare occasions when Chuck drags his hind end on the floor, the funky odours are certain. The power of baking soda helps me avoid the unavoidable. I simply sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda on the rug, let it sit for few hours and vacuum. Oftentimes, I also shake it to remove dust, because let’s be realistic, vacuums do miss a lot of dirt (even with frequent vacuuming).

What I like more than the easy-to-clean feature is that the rug perfectly defines the girls’ Dulux’s Storybook bedroom design. It adds the just-right pop of colour. Plus there’s that added safety when BB is playing on the floor. It’s thick, sturdy and still, so BB’s feet do not get stuck on the corners and there’s no tripping. It also offers a decent cushioning to BB’s falls and bumps.

Simply put, the rug serves its purpose. Plus, I love the idea of girls having a soft, safe and clean area where they can indulge in reading and envelop in their favourite make-believe coffee shop game.

Making Space for a New Baby

Before Burrito Baby came along, Husband, Sausage and I were living in a little 2-bed bungalow. We knew that finding space for a new baby would be tricky but we wanted to wait a little while before moving, so we made do for just over a year, which meant finding space for a whole new human being in our tiny house and utilising every nook and cranny possible!

The infographic below has got some great tips on how to maximise your space when baby comes along and we thought we’d share it with you in case you’re ever in the same predicament as us!
The Best Ways to Make Room for a New Baby

Provided by Alligator Storage

Have you got any top tops for finding space? Share them with us below.