The Inside Edge
Have you ever noticed how a colour can make you feel something? Perhaps not; for many of us the hues in our homes go largely unnoticed unless we strongly object to them. But it’s worth paying attention to. Dr Julia Shugar warns that, ‘room colour, particularly in your home, can dramatically affect moods, feelings and emotions’.
For this reason, the shades we paint our walls hold a lot of selling power. Before you decide to update the exterior of your house using masonry paint (such as from Rawlinspaints.com) or are simply giving your bedroom a makeover, check out what colours do to you first… (just note that these interpretations are open to subjectivity, gender and cultural differences).
Green is restorative and calming. It reminds us of the abundance of shades found in nature, and is very good for creating a sense of balance and composure. Ever noticed how hospital waiting rooms are painted in various shades of green? They’re painted green because they help patients to relax at a time when they’re likely to be very anxious. Therefore, experts recommend using green paints and patterns in any room where you want to evoke the feeling of winding down, such as your living room, bedroom or bathroom.
Red is lively and stimulating, which is why it’s used in branding for products like Coca Cola and fast food chains like McDonald and KFC. Red can increase your appetite and encourages people to consume things more quickly, which is why you’ll find this colour in places where food is sold or consumed. Take a look next time you’re out for dinner: red is evident in many restaurants up and down the county! If you’re going to decorate using red, do so in moderation. Red is best in areas where interaction and energy are encouraged, such as the dining room and kitchen.
Blue has a reputation for being a serene, soothing colour, which is why it’s so often used in spas. However, it’s important to get the shade right: a blue which is too cool for the kind of light available can have a sterile, chilly effect when applied to a wall. Blue is also thought to be the least appetising of colours, as true ‘blue’ rarely occurs in nature (even blueberries and plums are shades of purple!). For this reason, some weight loss plans recommend eating from a blue plate. Blue is calming however, and can lower a person’s pulse rate and body temperature, so add it to your bathroom and bedroom.
The effect of coloured ceilings
The fifth wall in a room is often overlooked and simply painted white. This is normally a good idea as a lighter ceiling with darker wall makes ceilings appear higher and brighter than they actually are, boosting our moods with what we perceive to be extra light and space. However, painting the ceiling the same colour as the walls can create a rich and full atmosphere, which is a mood well-suited to bathrooms where the occupant feels relaxed due the sense of being enveloped.
See? A splash of paint can make a big difference.
Believe it or not, there are many simple things you can do at home that’ll not only save energy but will reduce your carbon footprint and protect the environment. Limiting your energy consumption will also lower your monthly bills and help you live a greener, more economical lifestyle, so check out the following tips and avoid unnecessary waste in your home.
1. Save water where possible
Running water is a privilege, but because of its availability on demand in many parts of the world it can be easy to take it for granted. The fact is it takes a lot of energy to get water flowing through your taps, so whether you’re doing the dishes, washing the car or watering trees (from the likes of ashridge nurseries), be mindful of how much water you’re actually using. Every drop saved will lower your energy bill, making this a great incentive to only put the dishwasher/washing machine on when needed, to run shallower baths and to not leave the tap running when brushing your teeth.
In fact, according to the Energy Saving Trust spending one minute less in the shower every day will save £10 off your energy bills each year, per person. With a water metre this will save a further £15 off annual water and sewerage bills, so if everyone in a four-person household did this you could save a whopping £100 a year.
2. Turn your electrical goods off standby
While you should always turn electrical goods off when they’re not in use it can be all too easy to put gadgets like DVD players, TVs and games consoles on standby. This, however, still uses a considerable amount of energy, so by turning gadgets off at the plug you could save yourself an impressive £30 a year. This might not sound like big money, but start adding the total cost of wasted energy up and you’ve got yourself a significant sum. What’s more, if someone gave you £30 in cash, there’s no way you would just throw it down the drain – but that’s effectively what you are doing if you leave items on standby mode.
3. Take control of your heating
It’s no secret that the UK is notoriously cold. Many families are forced to turn their heating on regularly throughout the year, but there are ways to save money and still keep your house toasty. Ensuring your home is well insulated is the first thing you should consider, as poor loft or wall insulation will mean warm air is allowed to easily seep through into a cooler environment. What’s more, you should also take other steps to draught proof your home such as sealing doors and windows, filling cracks in the floorboards and investing in adequate draught excluders.
It’s easier than you might think to make your home more economical, so give the above tips a go in a bid to save money and do your bit for the world around you.
When it comes to selling your home you might be considering other options besides enlisting the help of a traditional high street estate agent. If you’re looking to save money you can sell your house fast online and cut out the costly estate agent fees completely – which according to TV presenter and housing mogul Sarah Beeny, is the future.
Beeny set up her own online house selling service, Tepilo, and believes that “in a few years’ time, this will be normal.” So, if you’ve decided to cut the middle man out and take the plunge into the world of selling online here are a few tips to help make things easier:
Use the money you’ll save to update your home
With packages online costing around £500 and promising to sell your house, you could make a saving of thousands of pounds – estate agents will usually take a 1-3% cut of the final sale of your home – which could go towards updating your current home for it to appeal more to buyers. Taking some time to freshly paint tired looking walls, fix wobbly tiles and broken doors and even perhaps renovate the kitchen or bathroom with new cabinet doors or updated appliances, could see you receive the higher asking price on your house and even more cash in your pocket.
Be prepared: You will have to do most of the legwork
Depending which company you opt to sell with online, you could find yourself doing most of the legwork when it comes to setting prices, arranging viewings and negotiating with buyers. You’ll need to ensure you feel comfortable showing people around your home and what to say to impress them.
You must do your research
Since you’re essentially deciding on the price to list your property for, it’s a good idea to do your research. If you have a unique property such as a barn conversion or a property with an unusual feature – you’ll need to search around to see what similar properties have sold for and base your estimates on that. You don’t want to undervalue your home if what makes it unique also increases its value and can be used as a special selling point.
Consider arranging an open house instead of taking multiple viewings
Organise an open house for people to visit together and view in one day as you can see all your potential buyers at once, saving time and effort. It could also encourage buyers to place offers there and then, and encourage competition which could see a greater chance of you receiving a higher price for your home.
Barn or bungalow, cottage or cave, farmhouse or flat… an Englishman’s home is his castle. But what’s the state of affairs elsewhere? We’ve scoured the globe for the most enchanting abodes in existence, judging them not on their financial worth, but on their personality, presence, timelessness and ingenuity.
1. Pretty Beach House (Australia)
Dubbed “Australia’s most intimate and luxurious guesthouse”, the Pretty Beach is an idyllic getaway for you and your loved ones. With no TVs, time stands still. In fact, you’d be wise to check out some gift ideas for her before you go, taking something to read against the backdrop of ancient Bouddi National Park and infinity pools! We’re enticed by the laid-back personality of this home built of mud bricks and hand crafted timber posts.
2. Gary Chang’s Apartment (China)
Gary Chang’s apartment is only 105 square feet, making it the smallest home on our list. Using hydraulics, Gary’s design enables the walls to move to create 24 individual rooms and a great deal of storage. We think this home meets our definition of ‘greatness’ as it acts as an example of innovation at a time when Hong Kong’s population is struggling with an ongoing shortage of space.
3. Jacob’s Ladder, (England)
Jacob’s ladder just so happens to be Kevin McCloud’s favourite house in Britain – and with good reason. It has unparalleled personality, constructed from cedar, glass and steel, and is nestled modestly into surrounding woodland. Its creator, Architect Niall McLaughlin, explains its magical presence by stating that “…it sits in a gap in the trees and we felt like it was a window in the woods”. Sounds dreamy!
4. Bohumil Lhota’s Roundabout House (Czech Republic)
Bohumil Lhota’s home has been referred to a cross between “a Hobbit’s home and a building from Star Wars”. The dwelling moves up and down, and can rotate on its side to follow the sun. Granted, it’s not the most luxurious house on the planet – but it does have adequate living quarters and a swimming pool. By building it underground, Lhota’s home maintains a stable temperature all year round. So why has it made our list? Well, it blends design of the past and future, has tons of personality, and thoughtfully considers energy usage in a way that conventional homes rarely do.
5. Lake Wakatipu House (New Zealand)
This home is an absolute knock out. Set against majestic mountains, this house doesn’t just sit respectfully within its environment: it becomes it. The use of sharp lines, subdued colour and natural textures give this home a presence and timelessness that rivals even its highest snow-capped neighbours. It’s our favourite.
6. Tower Studio (Canada)
Tower Studio is a dark, twisting, three story home situated on a stretch of rocky coastline in Newfoundland. From the exterior, the thirty-two-foot structure is perplexing…. it appears to ‘buckle’, leaning forward and backwards as it reaches up towards the sky. Inside, however, is completely whitewashed, bright and minimal. So why’s it made it to the great list? As well as being ecologically sustainable, it prompts discussion: it’s quizzical, unique and impossible to ignore.
Whether you’re moving alone or with a family, moving to a new city like London can be both thrilling and daunting. So if you’ve got your new job lined up, it’s time to start house hunting.
Share or Go Solo
Of course, this is largely determined by whether you’re bringing your family along, but if you’re moving to London alone, you have the choice of whether you share with housemates, or you find somewhere to live alone. I’m sure you’ve heard that London prices can be extortionate, so if you’re going to London alone, then flat-sharing can be the most cost effective, and it will enable you to meet new people quickly and easily. You can find flatmates on various websites and forums online.
Alternatively, take a look at local estate agents that offer area guides and info to help you decide where to live.
Choosing Where to Live
It’s a good idea to live somewhere near where you’re working. It might sound okay spending an hour on the tube twice a day, but the reality will be far from different. Ideally, live within a tube line or a bus connection away from your work. Of course, if your partner is working the other side of town, this may not be an option for you, but try to compromise for a similar commute.
It’s important to do lots of research into the different areas, as they can be quite different from each other. London is really made up of many small towns that all merge into one, so there are different moods and amenities to each one.
Master the Transport System
London is huge, so knowing how to get about is an important part of living there. The underground network is probably the best way to get around, as it is affordable and quick. Buses can be slow, but cheap, and taxis are the most expensive, but they will get you from door to door. You can own a car, but many in London don’t as the city doesn’t offer great driving experiences. If you have a family however, this may be different as you’ll want to be able to transport your family safely.
For the first few months, try to avoid travelling on the tube. Instead walk or use a bus, so you can begin to understand whereabouts you are in relation to the rest of London, and so you can get to know your area.
After months of mulling over the idea of moving, you’ve finally made up your mind to take the plunge. Now it’s time to launch a search to discover your new home. But before you jump straight into making an offer on a house that catches your eye there are some things you should consider.
1) How close is everything?
You may have found your dream home but where in the world is it? Have you considered things like the distance to work, or to the shops? Maybe you are relying on public transport or are thinking about learning to drive? Think about the distances you may need to travel from home to work or to local doctors’ surgeries etc and plan ahead – whether that is preparing for a test or arranging for a season ticket – to enable a smooth transition to your new home.
2) How much will it cost?
It is important to know what types of mortgages are available and what type of mortgage you can get before you set your heart on a property. You’ll need to consider whether you want a repayment mortgage or an interest-only mortgage for example. Remember that a repayment mortgage, while it costs more each month, does actually pay off the original debt whereas an interest-only mortgage won’t chip away at the total debt. Next, you’ll need to consider whether you want a fixed or variable rate mortgage. The most important principle of a fixed rate is that you know exactly what your mortgage repayments will be for that time. To get a better idea of how much of a mortgage you could be offered try out a mortgage calculator to see how much those repayments will cost.
3) How will I meet new people?
We all have that moment of doubt when we think “how am I going to get involved in the local community and make new friends?” – especially when you are moving out of an area. There are lots of ways to get involved in local sports and hobby groups. Have a search on the internet or pick up a local paper to see what’s going on in the area. Don’t be afraid to put a little effort in to fit in.
4) How good are the local schools?
If you are moving home with a family then you will need to consider the quality of schools in that area. You will probably not still remain in the same catchment area for your children’s current schools so you’ll need to either be able to arrange transport for them or look for an alternative closer to your new home. When looking at potential schools always arrange a visit to the schools and try to take your children as well if possible so they can get a feel for a new school at the same time.
5) Is everything as it seems?
When viewing your potential new home, take time to check for any ‘hidden extras.’ Have a look at the walls – are there any signs of damp problems such as wet spots, signs of mould, peeling wallpaper or condensation on the windows? Check for ceiling cracks; is the plumbing, boiler and electricity all in working order? Fixing some of these issues could end up costing you a fortune. Save yourself time and money by spotting them before you make a decision.
Selling your house can sometimes be difficult. Lenders have placed far tighter financial restrictions on buyers, and the property market can often be uncertain. In order to ensure that you sell your home quickly there are certain things that you can do to make your property more attractive. Here are five ideas that can help.
1. Use storage facilities and de-clutter
Property experts all agree about the need to declutter your home before opening your doors to potential buyers. If you don’t want to throw all of your surplus possessions away, then it’s a good idea to look at some alternative options. For those living in the West Midlands, Sheldon self storage can act as a useful asset. You’ll be able to retain all your essential household possessions and consign anything that you’re not sure about, or not using at the present time, to this storage facility. Your house will then look cleaner and more appealing to any potential buyer.
2. Photographs will help
Once you’ve got your house into tip-top condition, make sure that you take some good quality photographs of the property. Your estate agent will take their own snaps but this doesn’t mean that you can’t post your own pictures on any of the social media channels. Just ensure that they tempt the buyer into making an appointment with the estate agent to come and view your house.
3. Make your property stand out from the crowd
If your house looks well maintained, you stand a far better chance of selling it more quickly. An article in The Daily Mail suggests that decorating your house before you put it on the market will freshen up your living space and make it look more appealing to buyers. Don’t make the mistake of touching up a few areas with a spot of paint days before a viewing – the buyers might wonder if you’re trying to hide anything.
4. Tidy up the garden
The appearance of your house can be ruined by an unkempt garden and exterior. Even if you haven’t got green fingers yourself, see if you can hire someone to mow the lawn, clip the hedges and generally improve the appearance of your garden. Check that your garage doors are presentable and that your drive looks neat and tidy. A tatty exterior can also devalue your house, so if you want to sell your property quickly don’t neglect it.
5. Make the best of your house
Most people, when viewing a property, apparently make their decisions based on the appearance of the kitchens and the bathrooms. An article in The Daily Mirror suggests that you don’t have to replace all the units in your kitchen, but you can at least ensure that lime scale isn’t blocking the taps and remove any grease stains from the room. According to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, a good kitchen can add as much as 4% to the value of a home.
Every now and again your home needs some attention. Whether your tastes have changed, fashion has moved on or you want to breathe life into tired-looking decoration, the need for an interior design project is fairly common.
The trick to getting this right is to ask yourself the right questions… and then work out the answers to them.
What don’t you like now?
This is the important starting point for a home redesign. Get to the heart of why you’re changing and what you want to change. It’s fine just to fancy a change for change’s sake, but it won’t help if you don’t think what exactly you don’t like about your current design or theme. Also, think about any features you’d like to keep and incorporate into your new look.
What are the strengths of my property?
On that point, it’s important to consider what strengths your property has and work out how to enhance them. If your kitchen is your pride and joy, then you can replicate that look in other rooms. Alternatively, if you’ve got a great garden then make the most of the views of this and treat it as a focal point.
Consider the direction your rooms face in detail, this will have a big bearing on the time of day they get the most light, and you might need to address that in whatever theme you choose – for example, light airy decoration for living rooms that get no natural light in the afternoons.
What inspiration can I take from others?
Be nosy. Take an interest in the design deployed by others. Which elements do you like about your friends and families’ homes? Talk to them about their themes and get an insight into how they delivered their look. Then, of course, there is the sheer wealth of help that rests online. Pore over pages online to get inspired.
What can I do to visualise my changes?
It’s all well and good having ideas, but will they work? These six top tools highlighted by Interior Style Hunter will allow you to model some of your ideas so that you can find that out. The more you use these the more you’ll get an idea for what you can do with your space.
What are the latest interior design trends?
Embracing nature is set to be a big trend in 2016 – with strong use of greens, browns and wooden furniture to bring the great outdoors indoors. Why not spend some time exploring how you could update your home in the latest styles? Often one strong basic idea can be all you need to spark you into action.
What’s the secret to getting a strong theme?
Whatever you choose as your design theme, accessories are the absolute key to getting this right. Take time to look through the top quality items on the pages of How To Spend It to unearth fittings and additions that can really set off your design in style. This is the trick to turning a ‘redecoration’ into a ‘redesign’ and a bold, recognisable ‘theme’.
When you inherit a property, there are a great number of factors to consider. Whether you’ve inherited suddenly after a bereavement, or you’ve inheritance has been planned for a while, there’s sure to be a number of things associated with inheritance that you’ve never even considered before you actually inherited the property. Here we look at what you can do when you’ve inherited a property and whether you should sell it, live in it or rent it out.
Live in it, rent it out, or sell it?
The first consideration you’ll have to have when you inherit a property is to decide whether to live in it, rent it out or sell it. The most common action for those who inherit a property is to sell it, but this doesn’t mean that you have to.
Selling a property can often be the simplest answer if you’re unsure what to do. This is because it avoids any possible implications with letting it out or owning multiple homes. Plus, on top of all this, there’s the emotional stress of dealing with a property that used to belong to a loved one and the possibilities surrounding joint ownership, which can be a potential legal minefield.
Due to all of these factors, selling can often be the easiest option. However, it doesn’t have to be the only option, and there are pitfalls too, such as immediately selling the home of a loved one and having to ‘let go’ so soon. Other options are available, so let’s look at the positives of living in the property and renting it out, too.
Living in it
If you’re only renting your current property, then moving into the inherited property could be a wise move, particularly if you’re the sole owner. In the long run, this could save you a large amount of money on rent, and could even make you feel closer to someone that you’ve lost.
Living in a property really is a great option if it can ease a financial burden. However, as previously mentioned, you need to be aware of the implications as well. Living in a property that was once owned by a loved one (particularly a close one) can mean that you suffer from a large amount of emotional stress and, if you’ve jointly inherited the house with someone you don’t live with (such as a brother or sister), you may not be able to inhabit it as they may wish to sell it. As a result, you’ll have to consider this option carefully.
Renting it out
Finally, if you’re not looking to sell as you think house prices may increase in a few years, then you should consider renting it out. If you find the right tenant, then the rental market can be a lucrative one, helping you pay off your own mortgage in the process, and maybe even turnover a small profit.
However, as with the other options, there are downsides to this. As part of renting out the property, you’ll be allowing someone to live in your loved one’s old home, so you’ll want to be sure they’ll take care of it. Additionally, becoming a landlord is also a huge responsibility, so make sure you know what it entails.
So there we have it, when you inherit a property you can sell it, rent it out or live in it. There are positives and negatives to each option, so be sure to pick what’s best for you.
Winter is well and truly upon us, and as the weather’s got colder, many of us have turned the heating on already – and probably won’t be turning the thermostat down until after February!
Although energy prices are falling, the average family still spends over £1000 a year on gas and electricity, which is no small sum.
Thankfully, there are a few ways to cut your energy costs without shivering all winter. If you want to keep warm without breaking the bank, here are five top tips.
Maximise your radiators
How many of us have our sofa up against the radiator in the living room? It might be keeping the back of your sofa toasty warm, but the heat won’t get much further than that. Moving furniture away from the radiators, even just a few inches, lets the heat circulate through the room and warm it properly, as well as saving on damage to your furniture.
To make your radiators work even harder, consider investing in radiator panels; reflective panels you put behind a radiator to reflect more heat into the room – these really do make a difference: using them on every radiator in your house can cut your heating bills by as much as 15%! And if you don’t fancy buying them, you can achieve a similar effect by lining the wall behind your radiators with tin-foil.
Stop losing heat
You may already use draught excluders to keep heat from escaping under doors, but what about your windows? Even with double glazing, thin curtains or blinds can let heat out. Consider replacing yours with a heavier option to keep the warmth in the room, or line them with a thermal lining – a cheap fleece material will do.
And curtains aren’t just for windows! Try placing them over external doors for extra draught exclusion, as well as a bit of interior design flair. However, don’t keep curtains or blinds drawn in the day, as sunlight will warm your rooms up naturally.
Don’t heat what you don’t need
If you have a spare bedroom or second bathroom that’s rarely used, turn radiators off in those rooms, and shut the doors to them so that heat from the rest of the house doesn’t escape into them either. It might be unpleasant if you have to nip in to find something, but it’ll be worth it for the savings!
Additionally, if you have radiators in the halls or corridors of your home, these can be turned down slightly – if not shut off altogether – as you’ll only ever be passing through them for a couple of minutes at a time.
Professional home insulation can be costly, but DIY loft insulation is relatively cheap and simple. Foam insulation is cheap, and three 8inch rolls should be enough to give most lofts a decent layer of insulation. Make sure you know what you’re doing before you start, and wear protective clothing and goggles to stay safe, though.
Another part of your house to insulate is the hot water tank and pipes. You can buy a jacket for the tank and foam tubes for the pipes, both of which are easy to fit, and will keep the heat inside the pipes – so it heats the water, not your airing cupboard.
It’s all about timing
It’s a basic tip, but putting the thermostat on a timer is a great way to make sure you’re only heating the house when it’s needed. Set the timer for 20 minutes before you wake up and 20 minutes before you get home from work, and you’ll feel toasty 24/7 without having to think about it.
Additionally, try to keep the heat setting at 18C – this is the temperature that most of us should feel warm in a jumper and jeans, and ensuring your heating doesn’t go above this temperature often will save you cash. If it seems too cold at first, try bringing the temperature down 1 degree every few days until you’re acclimatised.
Liberty is writing on behalf of Lifestyle Blinds.