How to create a Hygge inspired bathroom

Once autumn arrives, the nights become noticeably longer and temperatures significantly cooler. Here in the UK, the clocks go back in October plunging us all back into the early morning and early evening darkness which can frankly be a little depressing. Even more important, then, to cope with approaching stresses of the festive season by creating essential relaxation time for yourself and a great way to do this is to incorporate the principles of Hygge by creating a Hygge bathroom. 

What is Hygge?

In Meik Wiking’s book “The Little Book Of Hygge“, he defines Hygge thus.

“Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things.  It is about being with the people we love.  A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allow ourselves to let our guard down.

Hygge is about creating your safe space and what better place to do that than your bathroom? I know that whenever I am feeling stressed or anxious, I head straight for a bath or a long hot shower.  As a therapy, it runs a very close second to my other favourite taking a nap!

Hygge is a relative newcomer to the interior design scene and is showing no sign of declining in popularity. It is more than just a style trend; it’s an attitude which teaches us to appreciate a simpler lifestyle.

The principles have been fervently applied to interior design in every aspect of the home. Hygge is a Danish phrase loosely translated as ‘cosy’, so here are the top tips to create the perfect cosy bathroom.

Create your Hygge bathroom  

Use candles 

According to recent surveys, the Danes are the nation which burns the most candles. We Brits are trying to give them a run for their money with our enthusiastic adoption of their culture. Candles are paramount in creating a peaceful and welcoming atmosphere. The soft lighting instantly calms and relaxes you. These are highly useful to use around the entire home; however, there seems to be something so enticingly indulgent in the warm tones and comforting lighting for your bathroom. 

White furniture  

The Scandinavians are known for their love of minimalism, using white as a basic staple in their homes. White bathroom furniture provides the perfect base to create the Hygge environment. By using a simple white base for your bathroom, the furniture will not only be timeless but also produce a serene space. Make sure your bathroom is free from clutter by fitting plenty of storage units to hide away unsightly toiletries and cleaning products. White bathroom furniture also offers a great base to build layers with various materials and textures.  

Adjust your colour scheme

If white furniture isn’t your thing, try clean, contemporary furniture, for example, light and blond woods, complemented with soft and cosy colour palettes. Add a mirror or two to reflect back the light.

Lighting

Talking of lighting, your bathroom lights should be soft and warm rather than harsh and clinical.  Who wants to see their wrinkles first thing in the morning! Try installing a light with a dimmer switch.

Create warmth 

Longer nights generally mean the central heating comes on earlier and stays on later. Danish living centres itself around creating a cosy and warm atmosphere to bring the family together and this applies to the bathroom too.

To create the best minimalist effect as well as creating optimum heating, consider installing underfloor heating. This produces an even and ambient temperature which is kind to your bare feet. 

Your choice of heating will depend on the size of your bathroom, your style preferences and your budget but there are plenty of radiators styles to choose from, including straight ladder, curved and traditional radiators.
And there is nothing like a heated towel rail to help you wrap yourself up against the early morning chill.

Make it spa-like  

Ensure your bathroom is a place for rest and relaxation after a long six weeks of entertaining the children. Nothing beats a soak in a spacious bathtub filled with steaming hot water for the optimal spa-like hideaway.

Be sure you’ve got plenty of scented bubble bath so you can luxuriate whilst soothing aching muscles. Add texture to create the perfect opulent spa experience by including plush materials such as fluffy towels and soft bathrobes.  

Declutter

Declutter your room to declutter your mind they say and certainly it’s hard to take a relaxing bath when you are surrounded by cluttered windowsills drowning in half-used toiletries.

A vanity unit will help, or at least a sink with a cabinet underneath to conceal those skincare purchases you made to cheer yourself up.

Go natural with your toiletries

Talking about your toiletries, why not introduce some pure, organic, vegan-friendly soaps and body washes and swop out those products containing nasties that are bad for our skin.

You could even make your own bath products.  In Susanna Seton’s lovely book “Simple Pleasures Of The Home“, she recommends making a calming bath using essential oils:-

  • 4 drops bergamot essential oil
  • 4 drops lavender essential oil
  • 2 drops clary sage essential oil

Run a warm bath and drop the essential oils into the pouring water.  Relax in your bath for 10-15 minutes.

And environmental friendly with your household cleaners

You can make your own household cleaning products too and evict toxic products which are bad for the environment and our health – particularly important if you have children and pets.

You can find some simple household cleaner recipes in this post.

Add some greenery

If you have room, or perhaps a bathroom window which catches the sun, add a houseplant or two. Spider plants, orchids, Peace Lillies and even Aloe Vera will do well in the higher humidity.

Grab a great book

There’s nothing nicer than reading in the bath, as long as you don’t mind the pages getting a little damp and curled.  You could try the latest waterproof Amazon Kindle or just do what we did in school in the ‘old days’ – cover your books with sticky-backed plastic!

Failing that, how about a portable radio to listen to some classic music whilst you sip a chilled glass of wine or sparkling mineral water.

By applying the Danish lifestyle into your bathroom and creating a cosy retreat from the family, you won’t ever want to leave.

How To Make Your Space Your Own On A Budget

How can you make your space your own when you’re living in a rented flat, bedsit or student accommodation? Wherever you are, it’s only natural to want to make your house a home.

Everyone needs a cosy pad to escape to so that you can recharge your batteries and regather your energy. But how do you do that when money is tight and you’ve bills to pay?

At this time of year, in particular, making your space lovely and festive only adds to the enjoyment of the season.

So what to do?  And what do you do when you share your space with others?

Make your house a home on a budget

Here are some tips you might like to try.

Create a mood board

You can find inspiration from the interior magazines like Elle Decoration and the Sunday supplements.

Repaint

Be careful if you are renting though.  You might want to follow these tips to avoid upsetting your landlord!

Try some DIY projects

Here’s a way to make your own fabulous cosy headboard.

Display family photos

Create a photo wall or mix and match frames.  Visit your local printer to blow up your favourite prints to A3 or larger and frame them.

Update the curtains 

You could add a statement theme to jazz a room up or just replace with calming neutrals to dial the volume down.  If the light is a problem, it’s worth investing in black-out linings which will give you an extra hour of snooze time on light summer mornings and keep you warm in the winter.

Use seating in the bedroom

Create a cosy corner to read in by adding an armchair to your bedroom.

Upgrade your entertainment

If you have the room why not make your TV and movie-watching more enjoyable by creating your own home theater.  It doesn’t have to cost a fortune and may even save you money on family trips to the movies and all the overpriced popcorn!

Add texture with throws and cushions

You don’t have to spend a fortune.  You can make such a difference with soft furnishings such as throws and cushions. Buy the cushion pads and the covers separately or make your own covers if you can sew.

You can also add character to your bedroom with bedding in different textures, colours and fabrics.

make your house a home - pile of faux fur cushions and rugs

Hang String lights

These are pretty at any time of year.  Stuff strings of battery operated lights into glass vases to add a cosy glow to corners and mantle pieces or drape over the kitchen or your bed to add some atmosphere.

Create a nook

If you’ve no room in the bedroom to add a chair, create a cosy corner in your main room – perhaps with a mini table or bookshelf and a lamp to read by.

Add light and reflection with mirrors

A decorating basic – make your space big by using the power of reflection.  You could make a large mirror a feature of the room.

Add plants / flowers

Nothing spruces a room up like a beautiful floral display and you can find some reasonable bunches in stores like Aldi.  Add an extra note of interest by displaying them in quirky ways, for example, unusual china cups.

Light Candles

Very Hygge and there are so many types and fragrances to choose from at every price point. Candles are a really quick way to add cosiness.

Make your own artwork

If you are the arty type, why not create a wall dedicated to your own artwork.  I have seen some pretty convincing paintings simply done with acrylic paint.  Or if you are into photography, why not display your work – I love black and white photography.

Replace the toilet seat or taps

No explanation needed on this one and is there anything more irritating than a dripping tap?

Display your make up / perfume bottles

If you don’t have many ornaments, improvise.  Antique perfume bottles and some of the more unusual modern fragrance bottles make a lovely display.

Hat boxes in stacks also make a great display.

Use modular furniture that can be moved around

If you’re investing in furnishings, it makes sense to buy things you can move from room to room – and take with you when you move on.

No matter where you live, it’s easy to add your own personality to your space and create a home that is welcoming and great to come back to after a hard day’s work or studying.

What would be your top tip?

Kitchen Heating: Get Your Kitchen Cosy For Winter

The clocks will soon be going back, the nights are drawing in and temperatures have definitely dropped.  In fact, we’ve had the heating on since the beginning of September!

It’s at this time of year that the kitchen becomes the most important part of the home – particularly when it’s time to cook Christmas dinner!  We are thinking about renovating our kitchen but it’s a big project and there’s so much to think about.

If you’re already planning a kitchen, then you might well have spent a lot of time pondering the type of bespoke cabinetry or worktops you want.

You might be considering splashback materials like perspex from Simply Plastics as well as the appliances you and your family will need to keep things running smoothly.

You might have even started to think about lighting and wall colours but the one thing that can often make or break the usability of a kitchen – particularly during the winter months – is often not given nearly enough thought.

How to heat your kitchen

How you heat your kitchen, whether it’s radiators, a cast-iron range that runs the central heating, or underfloor heating, your choice will have a huge impact not just on how you use your kitchen when it’s complete but how you design the room from its inception.

Back to basics

The key to a heating system that works efficiently is a good boiler.

When you’re planning your kitchen design, it might be worth factoring in a new boiler rather than repairing it if yours is more than 15 years old as they’re not nearly as energy efficient as new models.

Be aware too, that older boilers may not be covered by boiler insurance schemes.  British Gas took one look at our ancient one and refused to cover it.

Updating an old system to an A-rated condensing boiler could reward you with a 90% increase in efficiency.

Also, replacing a boiler could free up room for more cupboards or worktops and you’ll benefit from instant hot water if you opt for a condensing combi-boiler.

Choosing the right type of kitchen heating

Radiators

For many years, central heating systems running a series of radiators have been the heating of choice. Usually already in place, updating them from dated 1970s flat-panel models to one of the many stunning styles on offer from specialists such as Bisque or Aestus can completely change the look of a room.

For contemporary schemes look at ladder-style vertical radiators in sleek white and steel finishes and for classic kitchens pick something a little more period in it’s look like Bisque’s Classic range, which echoes Edwardian shapes.

If you’re particularly eco-minded then aluminium models are a good option, as they heat up and cool down much faster than traditional radiators, which will save both time and energy.

One thing you should do if considering radiators is to ensure that you have just the right amount to heat the room. There are plenty of online calculators to help you do this – just pop in the room’s dimensions, the number of windows and the calculator will give you the BTUs or wattage required.

Underfloor heating

A great option if your kitchen is being designed from the floor up; underfloor heating gives comfortable radiant heat and can deliver great savings too.

Depending on what type of heating you opt for, it can be used under most types of flooring, including stone, tile, wood and vinyl.

It’s best to check your floor is a suitable match before you go ahead and invest, but a large kitchen with porcelain or ceramic tiles are almost always a perfect fit with underfloor heating.

There are two options, electric and wet systems. Electric flooring is easier to fit, being a network of wire elements on a mesh that is placed below the flooring or wet systems, which use water pipes below the floor.

An electric system is easier to lay and can be retrofitted fairly easily if you’re laying a new floor, just check with your builder first.

Wet systems require more work and are better suited to renovations such as new extensions or completely new builds.

kitchen heating - a gleaming kitchen with brown features and lighting

One of the biggest benefits of underfloor heating is that you don’t have to give over valuable wall space to radiators, meaning you can often include more cabinets for additional space and bespoke storage solutions.

It is also vital to have your kitchen design finalised before the pipes or mats are laid for the flooring, as it would be an absolute waste to heat built-in cupboards, or under appliances.

A floor plan from your expert designer will help any heating engineer advise not only the best pattern to lay the floor in but also where to place the controls on the walls.

Using a timed thermostat means that you can set the heating on to warm the room just enough so it’s a little easier to step into your kitchen on a frosty winter morning.

Cast-iron ranges

While an ‘always-on’ Aga is often the traditional choice in farmhouse designs, it will provide radiant heat to warm your kitchen on a winter’s morning but it can’t run a central heating system.

If you want your heat-store range to do that, then opt for models from Stanley or Rayburn, which can often run up to 20 radiators.

Go mobile

Finally, consider investing in an app-controlled heating system such as Hive or Nest so you can switch on your heating, using your phone, wherever and whenever you feel the need with great ease.

With some careful planning, you’ll find the most effective, and economical form of kitchen heating for your home.

*collaborative post




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Tips To Get Your Home Sparkling Now The Kids Are Back At School

I have to be quite honest and say that our domestic arrangements have gone slightly awry since the kids broke up from school in July but if, like me, you need to have a good old tidy up to get your home ready for autumn, read on because I have some great tips.

get your home ready for autumn - pink and yellow flowers in a vase

Bedtimes have become later and we’ve been surfacing later too.  And let’s not talk about the number of pizza boxes I’ve recycled.

If you’re anything like me (i.e. a parent, tired and subject to unprecedented levels of ‘grump’ and shouting), I doubt you’re in the mood to channel Martha Stewart (or even Kim Woodburn – clean that mess up luvvy pleeeease) so here are a few home cleaning hacks from my fellow bloggers to get your home ready for autumn.

No time for a full-on cleaning assault?  Try these.

get your home ready for autumn - little girl playing with a teddy

Tips to get your home ready for autumn

Baby wipes are not just for babies

Beth at Twinderelmo.co.uk recommends using baby wipes for everything.  For example, you can use them to:-

  • wipe the dust off houseplants
  • dust surfaces – particularly dusty cistern tops, dodgy taps and sinks
  • clean ick off your leather sofa, jacket or handbag
  • use them to [amazon_textlink asin=’B01DUISSCA’ text=’remove stains’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’mothedistr-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’1e2f959e-b1fc-11e8-8651-afea865130ac’] off loads of things – have little hands been drawing on the walls? Is there something indescribable on the carpet? Give a baby wipe a try.
  • remove greasy finger marks off light switches and windows

Soak while the pan is still hot

Victoria at Lyliarose.com suggests tackling the mound of dirty dishes in the sink a bit quicker – even if you have a dishwasher. As soon as you’ve finished with a pan/tray, leave it in hot soapy water to soak or even better, rinse out. This will save lots of scrubbing trying to get dried stuck on food.

If you’re really stuck a drop of biological washing liquid left to soak works a treat too – just make sure you clean the pan really thoroughly before reuse.

Swab down with liquid soap

Rachel at The Daisy Pages, a blog dedicated to simple living, recommends Dr Bronner’s Organic Liquid Soap. She suggests diluting it 5:1 for handwashing and cleaning. It cleans windows, mirrors, worktops, showers, cooker tops etc and smells lovely. There are no nasties and it has a million other uses too. Plus it saves having a multitude of bottles in your cupboards. A bottle lasts ages and there are different fragrances to choose from.

get your home ready for autumn - sparkling kitchen sink

Sprinkle the baking soda

Kate from How To Rock At Parenting (a blog about managing motherhood madness) says it’s amazing what a bit of baking soda can achieve. From cleaning tarnished silver to getting rid of caked-in dirt on dishes and polishing the grout between tiles, it’s her best friend!

Give up and hire a cleaner

If you work at home, as I do, it’s worth considering the money you are potentially losing when you’re cleaning, instead of creating great content, working on your newsletter or revamping your household budget so you can actually afford Christmas.

Many of us won’t hire a cleaner because we feel it’s indulgent and many of us who DO hire a cleaner still clean the house before the professionals turn up in case they are horrified by the mess (go figure!).

Not only this but finding a great cleaner is not always easy.  Personal recommendation is the tried and tested route but it can take ages to find the right person.

If you want to compare cleaning companies quickly, try a site such as Bidvine.com,  which allows you to quickly specify your house cleaning requirements. You tell them the size of your house, when you’re available, the level of cleaning you want and whether you have pets to allow Bidvine to match you with the right providers.  You leave your contact details and wait for bids from competing cleaning companies from which you choose the one that is right for you.

I don’t have a cleaner at present but I am rapidly coming around to the view that, whether you’re a working mum or are running a business from your home, it’s a valid investment – and not a luxury.

Would you hire a cleaner?  Have you any great home cleaning hacks to share? How do you get your home ready for autumn?




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How to design the ultimate gaming room for your family

Having a dedicated gaming room within your house is certain to improve both communication and morale within your family. A gaming room is a great communal space in which people can enjoy games together.  It can also create a vibrant atmosphere where both adults and children can unwind after long days at work and school.

gaming room - father and son playing video games together

To see what can be achieved when careful planning and execution is implemented, check out these incredible gaming rooms on Pinterest.

The main issue is often finding a suitable room which has the required space for large-scale equipment and apparatus. It’s vitally important to find spaces which allow easy manoeuvrability at all times to ensure practical use of your games room.

This is when you need to be selective about the types of gaming equipment that would be most suitable to the space you have available. Equipment such as snooker tables and dart boards are the perfect way to maximise space since they can be placed concisely into the corner of rooms.

Innovations like Snooker Dining Tables provided by Hamilton Billiards encapsulate this perfectly since they can operate as both a gaming device and a place where people can enjoy food and beverages.

gaming room - set of snooker balls lined up

Another important aspect for any gaming room is having the correct lighting. Snooker and tabletop games will require an efficient stream of light to ensure participants are able to clearly see any equipment being used. The remaining spaces of the room should be kitted out with ambient lighting to clearly distinguish areas that don’t have equipment.

To ensure any lights are installed both safely and methodically, The Handy Squad have a team of highly skilled electricians ready to give a hand. They are experts at installing a wide variety of lighting styles, depending on the preference you have for your gaming room.

The correct furniture also needs to be selected in order to create the perfect space required for a gaming room. One solution would be to use folded chairs since they provide a sturdy structure for sitting as well as being able to be folded and stored away when not in use. For more inspiration, check out a selection of fun and practical chair designs on Houzz.

Finally, gaming rooms are likely to increase the noise levels within a household. It is important to ensure the necessary insulation and sound panels have been installed in order to alleviate intense noise and maintain the vibrant and family-friendly atmosphere the room has been designed for.

Once you have carefully thought out the logistics and cost of your desired gaming room, the next step will be to implement these ideas and start construction.

This article was written by Ad Lab founder David Newman. Ad Lab is an eCommerce Web Design agency located in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire.

Interior Style: Mix and Match to Make it Yours

If you are a fan of interior design magazines, especially the likes of Elle Decoration and Vogue living, you could be forgiven for thinking that only designer furniture and accessories can look good in your home.

These magazines are all about the lifestyle of the rich and famous and though the things they show are certainly beautiful, there’s no need to break the bank trying to achieve the same look in your family home.

Stylish living room - interior design on a budget

Image Credit: Pexels

Instead of remaining disappointed that you will never own a set of handcrafted wooden spoons that cost £95, look to the high street for inspiration and then make it yours. You don’t have to spend so much to create a home beautiful enough for the pages of a magazine; you just need a good eye for colours and textures.

The Supermarkets

For interior design enthusiasts, the supermarket is a great place to start.  You may not find designer wares here, but you will see all the latest styles and colours at affordable prices. Supermarkets are brilliant for things like kitchenware, crockery and glassware and bring out a new range every season so that you can change things up when you like.

Though you might think that all Tesco’s or Sainsbury’s carry the same stock, they actually tend to cater to the area they are in and stock accordingly. So, if you don’t have a large homeware department in your local, try travelling further afield to find a bigger store or a store in a slightly posher area.

The High Street

Big ticket items like sofas and furniture can all be found easily on the high street for a reasonable price. Shops like Next and Marks & Spencer have brilliant homeware departments that clearly follow the trends and offer furniture that is family-friendly as well. To personalise the furniture, you can choose from a range of fabrics and some shops are also selling handles and doorknobs that you can swap out to give your furniture more character.

If you can, try to time your purchases with the sales. To save a bit more, you should have a look online to see if there are any vouchers available to get you a discount on sites like Topcashback. Don’t discount display furniture either as this often comes with a good price reduction.

The Charity Shops

While buying everything new is fine, the character often comes from the things we inherit. You will surely pick up a range of knick-knacks over the years that you have inherited from family or bought on holiday, but charity shops are also really good for this kind of thing. And right now, they could really do with our support.  

Even on the most frugal budget, you can create a wonderful home interior that you will enjoy every day. The key to remember is that, like your wardrobe, your interior should be evolving, taking in elements of new fashions as they come in and gradually changing as you do.

Little Changes For Big Relaxation In The Home

Big relaxation – that’s a concept to conjure with, isn’t it? As busy parents, we are usually stressing ourselves out trying to keep on top of everything, from work to the daily chores, from cooking, cleaning to parenting. 

Sometimes it feels like our homes are more like offices than places to relax and the time we get to spend with our family is decreasing rapidly – through no fault of our own.

Big relaxation in an immaculate apartment

So, are there little changes you could make to your home to make it more tranquil and more like the safe haven you originally envisaged? A way of creating big relaxation with  tweaks that are easy to do and cost little?

The trick is not just to change your interior, but to also change your attitude to the home and taking charge of all the things that stress you out about it.

Make Space For Relaxation

If you want to relax more, the catch 22 is – you have to make space to do that.  There are often times in the day when you want to go away and ‘decompress’.  We might want a break from a nagging partner, a crying child, noise from builders or traffic.

If you haven’t got the room to create a ‘relaxation zone’, the best place to grab a few moments peace is the bathroom.

There is nothing quite like a relaxing bubble bath lit by candles and accompanied by a nice glass of something cool and sparkling.  You can create a more ‘spa like’ feel by investing in soft, plush towels, fragrant candles and bath oils. 

You could invest in some gleaming new accessories to add a touch of cost-effective luxury such as heated towel rails or even a new bathroom suite. 

We have an old enamel bath and a rather battered sink and although we would like to redecorate the whole room, are considering this as a quick fix.  When you’re weighing up a cost of a couple of hundred pounds against a few thousand pounds, you tend to ‘make do’ and spruce up what is already in place.

Of all the rooms to invest larger amounts of money when you are considering selling, it’s the kitchen that is probably the best starting point.

But, again, if you are planning to stay put for a few years, buying new doors for your kitchen units and, for example, investing in some new taps or replacing an out of date hob could give you a new look and make your kitchen a much less stressful place to be.

It’s also worth scheduling some time for DIY to finally fix those irritating things that drive you up the wall – the drawers that stick, the gungy filters in the overhead extractor fan, the dripping tap – I’m sure you can think of a few niggles of your own.

We recently had a big clear out and chucked out loads of plastic take-away containers (from bygone days before we had the kids) and baby plates and cups I had been keeping ‘just in case’.  The kids are 8 and 10!

Add Relaxing Colors

If you’ve got a home that is full of bold colours, such as red, violets, purples, dark browns and even black (surely not!), these have been shown to have a less than positive effect on our stress levels – not to mention the fact that darker colours will make a space look smaller.   

Instead, choose more relaxing hues and fresh colours, greens, blues, whites and neutrals.  These will be add the illusion of extra space.  Add clever lighting, mirrors and some indoor house-plants and you’ll find your space is much more ‘zen’.

Go for big relaxation with a good declutter - three potted plants on a window sill in white pots

Remove The Clutter

Whilst you are making these subtle upgrades to your space, you may find that this involves unearthing a whole heap of clutter.  To make room for, say, a bigger bed, lots of ‘stuff’ may have to go.  You may even need to hire a skip or a Hippo bag or take a trip to your local tip!

Once you have decluttered, you need to make it a regular habit and keep your spaces as clutter-free as possible.  Easier said than done when you have kids (or hoarding tendencies like I have). Just make sure you don’t throw away things that are really special to you.

As a family we schedule regular clear outs which involve at least a couple of trips to the local charity shops or donations to the local scouts’ jumble sales.

Because a messy house makes for a messy mind, by keeping on top of these things, you will feel the benefits more.

Remove Stressful Triggers

Sometimes the things around us can stress us out without us even realising it – they trigger a subconscious reaction which affects our mood.

For example, if you have unopened bills lurking in every drawer, pull them out and create a filing system for them – whether it’s in a lever arch folder or filing cabinet.  That way you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing your finances are being properly dealt with and you won’t get stung with any later payment fees or arrears either.

If you can remove things that are likely to stress you out, or put them somewhere you cannot see them, you won’t constantly be thinking about them.

In the meantime, if you feel areas of your home or your family’s general untidiness are contributing to your stress levels, you may find the strategies outlined in this article in Psychology Today  helpful.

There are loads of practical things you can do to manage your home but it will involve getting the family to pull together and contribute.  Perhaps we should hold regular ‘house meetings’ to discuss what needs to be done and how everyone can help – and that includes children.

There’s no reason why they cannot learn to put their toys away in a designated box or area and no reason why teens and tweens cannot do a regular list of chores in return for their pocket money, mobile phones or access to the home Wi-Fi!  It’s a great way of teaching children about finance.

As with any situation involving stress, little changes can mean a lot but you do need to take charge of your situation. 

Sprucing up your home decor can be done quickly and cheaply and you may find your stress levels reduce immediately.

Add a bit of luxury just for you for a change and you may find you and the rest of the family will reap the dividends.

Save Money On Expensive Furniture – Here’s How

Homeowners who take interior design seriously want the best furniture in every room in the house. There’s one problem, though: the price. Average, everyday items cost hundreds of pounds, and that’s before you start looking at the exotic stuff. Unless the budget is bottomless, affording furniture can be tricky. The key is to find low-priced, quality items that fit the style of the house perfectly. As difficult as it sounds, it is possible to save money on expensive furniture, as long as you shop around for the best deals on the Web and the high street.

Save money on expensive furniture to get the kitchen of your dreams

Here are four more tips to cut costs and save money on expensive furniture.

Second-hand

The idea of buying a used sofa won’t appeal for many reasons. Firstly, it might be dirty. Secondly, you don’t want another person’s knock-offs. And, thirdly, you want something new and sparkly that wows as soon as you enter the room. Of course, you also need something that doesn’t break the bank and second-hand furniture fits the bill. But, there are great pieces in charity shops or friends’ attics which are clean and cool. In fact, you can tell guests it’s a retro item which cost you a fortune and they wouldn’t disagree!

The Right Times

When is the right time to buy? Now is a fantastic moment because Christmas is over and the January sales are in full swing. Therefore, the price of furniture across the board should be 10% to 20% less than usual. Some companies such as DFS even have promotions which slash rates by up to 50%.  Or, try cheap modern furniture UK to bag a bargain.

Obviously, these sales mean you can purchase your favourite pieces without overspending, so get on the internet ASAP. January can be a bad time because money is tight but think of it as an investment. Just budget more now and cut back in February and March to compensate.

There are other ways to save money on expensive furniture than shopping at Ikea

Wikipedia

Delivery Costs

Shoppers never factor in the cost of delivery when they proceed to the checkout. For a general basket of goods, the price might increase by an extra £5 or £10. Furniture is different as the price might go up by tens of pounds and add a lot to the overall cost. The first step is not to assume the price is set and isn’t flexible. The second is to find a courier service that will deliver the items for less than the amount of delivery. Reviews of Shiply suggest it’s an excellent option because the couriers are already going in the direction. As a result, the price can be up to 75% less than usual. Other than that, you can arrange to pick up the item from the store.

Haggling

Negotiating over the cost isn’t a British thing to do. Another British trait is to pay the full price when it isn’t necessary. Remember that the seller needs the sale as much as you do, which is why haggling is essential. Hopefully, they will agree to cut the price, or they might throw in a warranty which will save you money in the future. At the worst, they will say no.

Can you think of any other ways to save money on expensive furniture?

Decor Ideas For The Family Home

The family home is one of the most important things in your life, providing you and your loved ones with shelter, warmth, assurance and a place to call your own. That is why so many people want to make sure their family home has personal touches that appeal to them. Making the most of your space is essential and there are loads of decor ideas for the family home that will make your loved ones feel relaxed and comfortable.

When looking at decor ideas for the family home, the needs of every member need to be considered - Small brown dog on a sofa

When you are looking to create a stylish relaxing home, your starting point should always be to thoroughly clean the property and then try to declutter it as much as you can. You can find some great ideas in this book. From there, you will find it easier to style your home in the way that is best for you and your family. And what better time to refresh your home than spring?

Durability is essential

When you are creating the ideal family home, you need to ensure you choose the right options with your family very much in mind. If you have a young family, you know that kids can be excitable and boisterous at times, which means your choice of furniture must be able to endure some tough treatment. That means furniture like sofas, and even tables and chairs should be robust enough to handle that without serious damage being caused.

Cosy living room with 2 sofas and cushions - decor ideas for the family home

Create a comfortable home

Families should be looking to enjoy quality time together and creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere is a big part of that process. Buying high-quality cushions that look and feel great will go a long way in developing a relaxing atmosphere in a family room.

Good quality carpets and rugs, with a friendly print, will also assist in creating a positive and friendly atmosphere at home.

Shutters allow you to enjoy the light you need

Allowing as much natural light into your home can be of benefit but it is important that you are in full control. There will be days when you want as much natural light as possible and there will be times when you want as little light as possible getting into a room.

A fashionable and functional way to achieve this is by fitting window shutters. California Shutters can be adjusted to fine tune the amount of natural light entering a room, allowing you complete control.

Linen neatly organised with storage baskets - decor ideas for the family home

Invest in storage

You can never have too much space at home and storage options are essential in making sure your family has enough room for activities and fun. Depending on your budget and taste, there is a range of decor options that help you to keep a tidy and organised room while still creating a strong style.

Every member of the family will have their own tastes and needs and when it comes to finding decor ideas for the family home, you need to think about your finances and how far your budget will stretch. However, with some careful research (for example on Pinterest or in interior designs or home magazines), you can create a functional family home that is visually appealing and comfortable to live in.

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Disclosure: “Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.”

Review: Will You Sleep Sounder With A SIMBA Hybrid Mattress?

Have you heard of the SIMBA Hybrid Mattress? Many years ago, mattresses weren’t very sophisticated.  In fact, the choice was basically soft, medium or hard depending on the needs of your back.

Lately, though, you may have noticed a shake-up in the number and types of mattress available – all of which claim that you will have the best night’s sleep ever.

As he’s getting quite tall, Ieuan’s bed frame was replaced a year or so ago. We choose a simple metal frame bed from John Lewis but let Ieuan choose his own mattress.

The staff waited patiently as Ieuan tested about 10 different mattresses several times.  I could have had a large coffee and a muffin plus a tour of the beauty department (never a chore) in the time it took him to settle (literally) on the one he wanted – a SIMBA mattress for his single bed.

SIMBA Mattress in its box

Would you believe there’s a double mattress in there?

We hadn’t heard of SIMBA before and assumed that it was a standard memory foam mattress.  We were intrigued when, on delivery, we found that the mattress appeared to be vacuum packed and watched it spring to life when it was cut out of its plastic.

We then had to leave it for 3-5 hours to ‘inflate’ before Ieuan could sleep on it. After we all tested it, we agreed that it was the most comfortable mattress in the house.

So, when I was recently offered the chance to review a SIMBA double mattress, it was a no-brainer and I couldn’t wait for it to arrive.

This time though, I wanted to learn a little more about what was about to turn up.

A SIMBA Hybrid Mattress is far from being just a block of memory foam. It has been specially designed to meet the needs of all body shapes and sizes. The company worked with The Sleep To Live Institute in its extensive and lengthy profiling of over 10 million people.

Although it is only 10 inches thick, the SIMBA Hybrid mattress has 5 unique layers which all have a role to play – the Simba 5Ss.

Simbatex Layer

First up is a soft comforting layer that provides support throughout the night. This layer has been developed by SIMBA and contains a synthetic latex layer that also gives a cool feel for the entire time that you lay on it.

Spring Powered Layer

Featuring 2,500 conical unique springs which adjust individually through your sleep and react to your movement, this layer ensures that you remain supported throughout the entire night.

The Shaped For You Layer

Constructed using high-quality Visco Memory Foam, this layer moulds to the shape of your body and reacts to changes in body temperature and weight so it can sense when you’re lying on it. It springs back into its original shape when you get up.

This memory foam layer also allows you to move naturally in your sleep whilst working to align your spine and promoting healthy posture to relieve tension and pressure.

Visco Memory Foam is hypoallergenic and anti-microbial so it scores well in the hygiene stakes. It is highly resistant to bacteria, mould, mildew, mites, and other odour causing germs, making it a great choice for those with sensitivities or allergies.

It is also effective at reducing motion transfer, which is invaluable for those who share a bed. If your partner is a restless sleeper, or if your partner gets in and out of bed and disturbs you during the night or in the morning, Visco Foam mattresses minimize this disturbance.

Visco Elastic Foam mattresses also tend to last longer and provide more pressure relief than the more traditional ‘sprung’ mattresses.

Seventh Heaven

This layer is a thick support base which is the foundation for the mattress and has 7 different load bearing zones to evenly distribute your weight across the mattress.

Sleep Surface

The entire mattress is encased in a breathable hypoallergenic cover, allowing for freshness to be retained and the temperature to be controlled to a consistent level for the whole of your sleep.

The SIMBA Hybrid Mattress can be used on any type of bed base – slatted platform, flat base, divan or adjustable base and comes with a 10-year guarantee.

SIMBA also offer a 100 day trial with a no questions asked pick-up and a refund.

You can order your SIMBA mattress directly from Simbasleep.com or from John Lewis, Bensons for Beds and Argos.

I was sent a SIMBA Hybrid Double Mattress and it arrived vacuum packed and sealed in a box which is much smaller than the mattress!  This means that you don’t have to wrestle with a mattress to get it upstairs – you simply carry the box.

The SIMBA Hybrid Mattress comes vacuum packed

The SIMBA Hybrid Mattress comes vacuum packed.

You then take it out of the box, free it from its plastic covering using the handy cutting tool that comes with it and then leave it for between 3-5 hours to expand into its original shape so that it is ready to use.

SIMBA mattress reinflating after removal from packaging

Your SIMBA needs 3-5 hours before you can sleep on it for the first time.

If you read the customer reviews, you will no doubt find mention of an initial smell but this is normal with memory foam products and it fades in a day or so.

The mattress comes with full instructions and a nice welcome pack in the box which includes the cutter mentioned above.

SIMBA Welcome Pack & Cutting Tool

The mattress comes with a welcome pack and a special cutting tool.

How Did I Sleep?

Readers know I have been having problems with my back for a while and am coping in the day with pilates and stretching so I had high hopes for my SIMBA.

If you are unused to sleeping on a memory foam mattress, you will find it a new experience. A perusal of the customer reviews on SIMBA’s website shows that whilst the majority took to it like a duck to water, some take just a little longer to get used to it – and I’d put myself in that category.

My previous mattress was a 1400 pocket spring mattress some 10 years old so well overdue for replacement. It had developed a couple of suspicious dips in places which we tried to get over by turning the mattress regularly.

Caitlin found the Simba Hybrid mattress really comfy

Initially, I found the SIMBA surprisingly firm but, comparing it with Ieuan’s which is now over a year old, it is easy to see that the mattress softens and moulds to the user over time – and so it is already with mine.

I find that I don’t tend to move about so much in my sleep and once of the surprising results of this was a reduction in nocturnal waking – and the resultant trips to the bathroom.

I also felt a little taller and straighter, although my lower back grumbled for a bit probably at being supported properly for the first time in years.

Now after 3 weeks I am already finding I am looking forward to being reunited with my SIMBA at the end of the day. The mattress is already a little softer and ‘fits’ me better.

I still have a moment of surprise when I sit on it and it doesn’t sink like my old one used to and more often than not these days I sleep through to at least 6 am – whereas I would regularly see 4 am and 5 am.

When you get into bed and lie down you can feel the mattress supporting your back and spine without sinking too far into it.

For us ladies of a certain age, heat regulation is also pretty important but I found that the SIMBA Hybrid Mattress’ thermoregulation technology works well and even with a duvet and a throw I don’t overheat and become uncomfortable.

Would I recommend one?  Yes, I would and, with SIMBA’s 100-day trial you have absolutely nothing to lose by giving one a try.

Forget A Bigger TV – A Bigger Bed Is What You Need!

Have you ever considered that you might sleep better in a bigger bed – more specifically all cosied up in the luxurious size of a super king size bed?

It’s safe to say that, as a nation, we are a pretty sleep deprived lot. In fact, among the most successful business people and thought leaders, the amount of sleep they get is fast becoming the performance factor that sorts out the managers from the CEOs.

size of a super king size bed - woman drinking coffee sitting on a bed in her pyjamas

Hearsay says that Microsoft’s Bill Gates makes sure he gets a full 7 hours sleep and actively prioritises it. Google has even installed white napping pods in its offices so that employees can take a 30-minute nap to refresh their mental faculties.

Even The Huffington Post’s Arianna Huffington has written a book about the importance of sleep entitled “The Sleep Revolution”.

All of which is great if you have good sleep hygiene and perhaps even more importantly a comfortable sleeping environment and a good bed.

Sharing a bed with someone is a bit like Russian roulette.  Will you get a kicker, a flailer, a duvet hogger or, worst of all, snorer?

This is without taking into account the undeniable fact that, whilst we are getting larger in both height and weight, the UK’s current housing shortage has led to the construction of housing of shoe-box proportions springing up close to motorway junctions and swathes of brownfield land.

In fact, British homes have halved in size over the last 90 years, meaning more people are buying shorter length or narrower than standard beds for smaller bedrooms.

On average, new houses in Britain are only 92% of the government’s recommended size, making them the smallest in Europe! Former Communities Secretary Eric Pickles described them as ‘rabbit hutch homes’, space is at such a premium. And as if to prove his point, children are forced to share a bedroom in a fifth of UK households.

A recent report by John Lewis revealed that in 2016 they have sold 53% more ‘small double beds’ compared to 2015. Small double beds are 15cm shorter than traditional double beds.

More of us would rather invest, it seems, in a huge new 4K HDTV than prioritise 8 hours of comfortable shut-eye.

All of which flies in the face of the fact that we actually need bigger beds for better sleep.

Online retailer Bed Guru understands that no two people share the same sleeping requirements and see it not just as a belief but an obligation to ensure that everybody gets a great night’s sleep!  They believe that it might be better to sacrifice some space so that we can increase the size of our bed.

The Husband and I have a super king size bed and whilst it fills the whole bedroom, more or less, there is just enough room for a couple of nightstands and a chair. This doesn’t bother us because of the joys of the extra bed space.

The size of a super king size bed is 6 ft x 6 ft 6″ (180 by 200 cm) as compared to the traditional double bed which is a meagre 4 ft 6″ x 6ft 3″ (135 x 190 cm) in comparison.

It made a huge difference to me when I was pregnant with Caitlin and Ieuan because there was room for me and my extensive range of maternity pillows! The size of a super king bed allows you to spread out in comfort without worrying about accidentally kicking your partner or elbowing them in the back whenever you turn around.

If your mattress is reaching the end of its life (and as we are advised that these need to be replaced every 8 years), now might be a good time to see if you can increase the size of your bed.

Benefits of super-sizing your bed

There are many reasons to consider whether the size of a super king size bed could be accommodated in your home.

Health Benefits

  • extra space for a taller or larger person
  • more space for those who toss and turn – hopefully, they won’t disturb their partner as much
  • room to stretch out in comfort or lie flat on your back – very useful if you are recovering from injury
  • a split mattress might help you to find a night spent with a snorer more bearable.

Family Benefits

  • a bigger social space for the whole family – kids can come in bed and snuggle
  • much more comfortable if you are pregnant
  • room to take in a poorly child or one who does not sleep well
  • extra room for that pooch who refuses point blank to sleep in his basket
  • you can read a broadsheet newspaper without elbowing your partner in the eye and there’s plenty of room for breakfast in bed!

Design Benefits

  • a super-kingsize bed can be a centrepiece in a room from a design point of view
  • more underbed storage – you might be able to trade in a wardrobe and store linen etc under the bed instead.

With a bit of thought and careful planning, you may find that a move from a double bed gives you a whole extra foot of space to yourself which may well improve your sleep and make sharing a bed with someone who tosses and turns more bearable.

And who knows, improving your sleep in a bigger bed may pay enormous dividends not only in your love life but in your career as well.

I won’t be going back to a double bed in a hurry. I definitely sleep better in a bigger bed!

*PR collaboration.  Post contains an affiliate link.

How To Know Whether You are Arranging Your Furniture All Wrong

Tired of having a room that isn’t practical? Have no idea where you’re going wrong with your design? The likelihood is if your room isn’t working for you, and your furniture looks out of place, you are arranging your furniture all wrong.

arranging your furniture - well ordered living room with tan three piece suite

Image credit: Pixabay

While there is no set-in-stone way to arrange your rooms, there are many ways to optimise the space to better suit your needs and make spending time in a room much more enjoyable.

A simple adjustment to your conservatory sofas, moving your dining room table to the opposite side of the room or inching your favourite pictures to the left or right, is often all that’s needed to transform your living space.

To help you identify where you’re going wrong with your room design, check out our list of some of the most important factors for optimising space and the best ways of arranging your furniture to create a room that works for you.

There are a few key things to keep in mind which will help you get the feng shui that your living space deserves.

Arranging your furniture to maximise your space

Find Your Focal Point

The focal point is the part of your room that you want attention to instantly drawn to, whether that’s the windows, TV, or fireplace. To create a room with the wow factor, build your design and arrange your furniture around the focal point. This ensures that whatever your chosen focal point may be, it is the first thing noticed when entering a room. This is also extremely practical in making sure that your room is better catered to its primary purpose.

Work with Your Wall Space

The walls of a room are often left forgotten when it comes to furniture placement. If you can’t move because a shelf is in the way or if a mirror reflects light into your eyes, no matter how the rest of your furniture’s placed, the room design isn’t going to work. Re-arrange your furniture to consider what’s hanging on the walls, whether that’s a wall-mounted TV or favourite family photos that you want to be seen.

Work with the Space You Have

Some of the biggest room problems occur begin when the size of the room isn’t accounted for when the furniture is being placed. Small rooms need careful furniture placement to ensure the room doesn’t look too cluttered. In contrast, large rooms need a good spread of furniture so the room doesn’t appear too empty. Avoiding the walls and placing furniture central to the room can make all the difference with the appeal of the space you’ve got play with.

Think of the Needs, Not the Wants

Everyone wants their rooms to look great, but when that comprises the purpose of the room, the room is unlikely to be used as often. The choice of furniture used can give a room a specific purpose, so working with the focal point in mind, make sure that the placement of your furniture reflects the purpose, be it to talk, eat, or relax. Catering to the needs rather than the wants ensures that the home will have a better flow, and things will be arranged in a way that is necessary for relaxing.

Make Sure You Can Move

Above many things, if you can’t move around your room, you’re not going to be able to enjoy it. Identify where the most common traffic flow areas are and make sure that furniture isn’t blocking the passage. A few extra inches between your dining room table and the wall could be all that’s needed to transform your room.

Start with Priority over Variety

When arranging your furniture, start with want you need, not what you want to include. Once the larger pieces of furniture are arranged, the more decorative items can be placed around them to optimise the space. As opposed to matching smaller items with bigger items, if you place the sofa to match a lamp for example, then you could easily find that both the focal point of a room and ease of movement, are quickly lost.

Rattan Direct have produced high-quality garden and conservatory furniture for many years, all designed to work with spaces both large and small, with different styles to fit every purpose. To learn more, check out the website.

Resources

Better Homes & Gardens – How To Arrange Furniture

The Spruce – 10 Rules For Arranging Furniture

Houzz – How To Get Your Furniture Arrangement Right