The patio is a sun trap – or it should be – but is there something that is stopping you from enjoying this space? Take a look at six small changes you can make, starting and finishing the project on the same day!

Patio

#1 Spruce up the pavers

This patio edit can be applied to any patio material, to be honest, but especially concrete.

All that rain, wind, sleet, snow, ice and sun have left their mark on the patio. From puddles drying green to stains and other detritus becoming ingrained, the best patio edit can be to give it a good scrub.

From a hands and knees job – scrubbing brush, a bucket of warm water and detergent and plenty of elbow grease – to using a jet washer, lifting the grime off the patio surface will give it an instant facelift.

Better still, do it on a breezy day and it’ll be dry by tea time, perfect for a spot of al fresco dining.

#2 Spruce up the patio furniture

Garden furniture can suffer the same fate as the patio surface. At the mercy of the weather, it can soon look tired and jaded.

Giving it a brush and a clean is the first step but then giving it a new lease of life with new soft furnishings changes its looks completely.

Rattan garden furniture is tough and durable but welcomes a little ‘extra’ to enhance its already stylish looks. Add an extra cushion or two to seating, and a throw, perfect for wrapping up in on a cooler summer’s evening.

#3 Buy a rug

Outdoor rugs vary in size and price with some starting as low as £50 for the smaller sizes and rising to over £100.

Having said that, they are a worthwhile investment as they will last several seasons. Available in a range of patterns and colours, there is sure to be a stylish outdoor rug that takes your fancy.

Can ordinary households rugs be used? Some people do use ‘normal’ old household rugs but bear in mind that when it rains, it may take the water-soaked rug a long time to dry.

#4 Add lighting

With so many variations of lighting to choose from, you won’t know where to start.

Opt for solar lights and you won’t end up with a whopping electricity bill.

  • Single ‘light bulb’ for accents – you will no doubt have seen these but these individual lights have their own solar panel on the top that charges the smaller battery sealed inside. Mimicking the traditional lightbulb shape, there are many finishes, colours and styles from those daubed in thick glitter for extra sparkle and clear bulbs. Either way, they add pretty detailing on the patio.
  • LED ‘rope’ lights – many of the LED lights on the market are sealed and suitable for use in the garden but always check. These light strings or ropes will need to be plugged in so make sure you have a safe electrical point to do so. Some systems come complete with their own remote control too or use the app on your smartphone to change light sequence, colours and to turn on and off. Start from £25 upwards depending on the kit you opt for.
  • Solar lights – simple yet effective, use solar lights around the patio to add ambience and glamour. Expect to pay £6 upwards for quality lights that last longer than a few weeks.

#5 Edge the patio

Hard landscaping trends for the garden in 2018 use two or three different hard materials so bring your patio bang up to date by cutting a small recess or moat around the edges of the patio and filling with decorative stones.

The colour is your own choice but use smaller stones as the base and then use slightly larger pebbles in a slightly different colour for contrast.

#6 Add a sail sunshade

If the patio is in full sun without shade, sitting in the sun can see you roasted within minutes.

Adding shade can be easily done by using a garden parasol but why not add a more permanent structure – one that will last the summer but take down when the chillier autumn days come – with a shade sail?

Pricier than a parasol, you ‘plant’ the four poles and then attach the sail using small pieces of rope. Shorten and lengthen the connecting ropes to create a sail of different shape, perfect for keeping the sun off your patio. Available from high street and online retailers.

Which of these six ideas will you try?

 

A leading retailer, Rattan Direct are online suppliers of stylish rattan garden furniture, from sofas to dining sets, all perfect for the patio.

I think I first started becoming really anxious about chemicals in the home when I became a parent. I think one of the first words my children learned was “chemical” quickly followed by “dangerous” – they have never had any harm from chemicals so perhaps my caution had great results.

I was interested to watch a television news story around the effects of chemicals in the home and in the garden. It was quite a wake-up call to be honest. I had no idea even our kitchen cupboards can be emitting toxins.

In fact, some chemicals may be banned in the near future as they can interfere with air pollution.

Domestic chemicals can have negative effects on our well-being and often we don’t realise that we are using products that contain them. One study revealed that regular household cleaning products, such as shampoo and oven cleaner, release harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and contribute up to half of VOCs found in the atmosphere. Now I have always taken care around oven cleaner but I had no idea I had to watch out for things like shampoo too.

Read on as we explore the effects that domestic chemicals can have and how to replace them with safer alternatives. Let’s protect ourselves and our families.

The fight against chemicals

Research studies are revealing the harmful effects that domestic chemicals can have in the home. Although some are on their way to be banned, there are others that remain on our supermarket shelves.  Knowledge is power so here are some examples of things to look out for:

  • Hand soap — some contain the chemical triclosan which has been found to affect thyroid hormones in animal studies and possibly contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant germs. It is also a resilient compound that is not destroyed on its way to the ocean and can therefore destroy bacteria and intervene with the food chain — alternative?
  • Researchers from the University of Iowa discovered that some kitchen cabinets emit PCBs ((polychlorinated biphenyl compounds), chemicals which are under investigation as causes of cancer. These compounds occur as sealants breakdown in kitchen furniture — alternative?
  • Pesticides — neonicotinoid pesticides put both honeybees and wild bees at risk. The UK government has said it will support a complete ban on the outdoor use of bee-harming chemicals.

Joost de Gouw, a scientist at the University of Colorado at Boulder and co-author of the study, said: “Many of the organic compounds in these products are reactive once in the atmosphere and can contribute to formation of two major air pollutants, ozone and fine particle. In that sense, they contribute to air pollution in a very similar manner as cars.

  • benzene (which is found in detergents and plastics)
  • formaldehyde (in varnishes and floor finishes)
  • xylene aerosol paint concentrates, automobile body polish and cleaners, nail varnish

The combination of some domestic chemicals can be harmful too. The mixture of bleach and rubbing alcohol for example can create toxic chloroform and make you unconscious. I narrowly escaped making a dangerous cleaning mix when dealing with  mildew in the bathroom – you really do have to be very careful.

What can you use instead?

NASA reported that pineapple plants can also improve air quality and help reduce snoring.

Peace Lily can reduce toxins such as benzene, ammonia, ethyl and acetone and prevent the toxins from spreading across rooms. Research found that this plant can improve air quality by as much as 60%!

Red-edged Dracaena rids the air of chemicals including xylene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde (found in varnishes and gasoline) which causes lack of concentration and increased anxiety.

Formaldehyde levels in homes can also be reduced by ensuring adequate ventilation, moderate temperatures, and reduced humidity levels through the use of air conditioners and dehumidifiers. I  invested in a dehumidifier recently.

Sources

https://www.mirror.co.uk/science/modern-kitchen-cupboards-emit-chemical-12384317

https://edition.cnn.com/2017/01/25/health/triclosan-household-items-partner/index.html

https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/bees-pesticides-eu-ban-europe-threat-pollination-food-shortage-agriculture-clothianidin-imidacloprid-a8232671.html

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/body/clean-bill-health-household-products-wont-make/

https://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/cambridge-news/dangerous-household-chemicals-clean-explosion-13873101

https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm205999.htm

 

This research was gathered by Compost Direct, retailers of garden bark mulch.

 

Mum Muddling Through

They say the kitchen is the heart of the home. Many families spend a significant part of their day in the kitchen. It is used for the preparation and the taking of meals. If you are have a large kitchen, your children might do their homework at the table and many a small business grew into a large one from dreams at the kitchen table.

Jazzing

So a kitchen is worth investing in but how do you jazz it up when funds are low? Let’s look at some budget ideas for jazzing up your special room.

Shop around

Don’t assume cheap kitchens mean you have to go without style. Do plenty of research  and don’t fall for the first thing you see. More affordable options will be available if you take the time to look.

Consider quick fixes

Do you really need to replace the whole kitchen? Could you perhaps just replace cabinet doors or even given them a fresh lick of paint? If funds are really tight, even some clever new handles can make you feel a bit better about your kitchen. Don’t forget accessories from places like Kitchen Warehouse as these can really add to your expression of self in the kitchen.

Charity shopping

You may not want to buy everything from a charity shop but there is always a good feeling when you purchase items that mean you get something new, someone has disposed of their “trash” and a charity benefits too. There are furniture stores run by big charities like the British Heart Foundation in most cities nowadays. On the other hand, you might like to check out bric-a-brac shelves for retro kitchenalia and quirky artwork to put on the walls.

Wonderful walls

I once had a friend who painted his kitchen blue on a whim and hated it. When he felt cheerier he changed it to terracotta which worked well. I have always fancied an orange kitchen. Make choices after due consideration and ensure all the family feel comfortable with them. You could paint the kitchen or invest in some wallpaper and one way to save would be to just have one feature wall in striking design.

Are you jazzing up your kitchen soon? I  would love to hear your plans.

 

 

 

Research from NASA and the American College has revealed the houseplants which are best suited to be placed in the bedroom. In this article, we detail some of these plants and the benefits they can bring to your home:

The real purpose of houseplants

Before we delve into the research from NASA and the American College, let’s first understand why you should consider improving your bedrooms — and indeed the rest of your home — with some houseplants.

In conversation with the Telegraph, gold-medal winner at the Chelsea RHS Show, Ian Drummond says that there’s a key purpose to having houseplants. He explains: “Many people now live in cities with no outside space. We all have this longing to have some green around us, and houseplants are the perfect solution.”

If you’re looking to create a better living space, houseplants can improve the atmosphere in your home at very little cost. Studies have shown that houseplants have been found to help with concentration, promote better sleep and reduce anxiety among people who live around them on a day-to-day basis too. The Plantsman, when reporting on a 2016 piece which was published in the RHS’s journal, underlined: “As placing indoor plants in rooms is one of the simplest changes that can be made to enhance the environment, it stands out as a practical and affordable support for health.”

The diverse range of plants for your home

But what plants are the best for your home? We take a look at research carried out by NASA and the American College to find out more:

The Exhilarating Chinese Evergreen

If you’re looking for a quick and simple solution, the Chinese Evergreen is one of the easiest plants to maintain. This is because the plant can grow even in areas of low light — no need to worry about placing it in a dark bedroom then.

The great thing about the Chinese Evergreen plant is that it can remove any toxins from the room.

If you do decide on buying a Chinese Evergreen plant, there are some pieces of information that you should know about. As well as keeping it away from bright sunlight (which can actually scorch its leaves), the plant should be watered regularly with cool water and fed with plant food once every three to four weeks.

The Attractive Aloe Vera

This is one of the most popular plants around the world and is commonly used for medicinal reasons. This is because the clear and cool gel of an Aloe Vera leaf can be applied to burns, cuts, rashes and areas of sunburn to provide instant relief and speed up the healing process.

NASA have commented saying that Aloe Vera plants are the best for purifying the air. This is because they release oxygen on a regular basis during the night, not to mention fighting against both benzene — an ingredient of detergents — and formaldehyde — found in varnishes — to ensure a room’s air remains pure.

What makes Aloe Vera a great plant for the home is that its advised that they’re kept inside, however they must be prone to an suitable amount of sunlight to survive. Furthermore, plant them in a spacious pot that contains soil which has been well drained beforehand.

The Extravagant Areca Palm

There’s a lot of names that are connected with the Areca Palm. This ranges from Chrysalidocarpus Lutescens, Dypsis Lutescens, the Bamboo Palm, the Golden Cane Palm and the Yellow Butterfly Palm.

It’s also known as one of the top 10 air purifiers. What’s more, the plant has been said to be great for those who often have colds or sinus problems due to it regularly releasing moisture into the air.

Aesthetically, the Areca Palm plant will add a touch of tropical climes to your bedroom thanks to its long and graceful feather-shaped fronds. When placing Areca Palm plants around your bedroom, look for an area that subjects the plant to bright but indirect light — you’ll know if it is being exposed to direct sunlight as the leaves will begin to turn a yellowish-green hue.

The Beautiful Boston Fern

If you love a ruffed plant with lots of character, the beautiful Boston Fern is your ideal choice — and its drooping fronds make for a perfect addition to any room.

It is also ranked in ninth place on NASA’s list of the best air-purifying plants. A key reason for this is that the plant is very adept at removing formaldehyde from rooms. When it comes to placing Boston Fern around your bedroom, take note that the plant is sensitive to chemicals. Smoke which come from coal fires and wood burners can also be toxic to the plant, which means that they should be placed away from any spaces susceptible to draughts.

Your Boston Fern will look better on a high surface — think shelves or the top of your wardrobe, as this will allow the plant to fall naturally down the side of the pot.

This article was researched by DM Design, a specialist designer of bedroom furniture in Glasgow.

Sources:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-5009063/The-plants-NASA-says-NEED-bedroom.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/how-to-grow/houseplants-every-home-better-multi-tasking-pollution-busters/

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/houseplants/aloe-vera/aloe-vera-plant-care.htm

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/houseplants/areca-palm/growing-areca-palm-indoors.htm

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/special-care-areca-indoor-palm-trees-43127.html

https://www.ourhouseplants.com/plants/boston-fern

https://www.flowercouncil.co.uk/campaign/october-2016-chinese-evergreen-is-houseplant-of-the-month

 

My Random Musings

If I had to come up with one absolute must-have in any home it would be light. Of course as we also like our homes to be stylish that includes investing  in interesting and effective lighting.

Light

I wanted to introduce you to the work of Lighting Designer Paula Arntzen from Studio Arntzen. She specialises in concept development, lighting and spatial design. Herr projects are dynamic right from the initial concept through to final production. Clients include individuals businesses, design labels and events.

Besides her lighting design interest Paula has a strong fascination for furniture design. Innovatively she mixes her craft skills with design, and a delicate use of technology, as communicative components of wonder.

I love how Paula pushes the boundaries of design based on stylistic research. Through experimentation with materials and techniques she creates experiences with their own distinctive theatrical identity.

 Light

I remember that both my mum and my uncle loved dramatic lighting. There was an infamous occasion back in the Eighties when my Uncle was feeling happy. He went out and bought a £400 lamp and then bored with it within a week and gave it to my very appreciative mum. That set her off and she would regularly go to design light shop to ring the changes on the lighting  front. She always had a real sense of style and was fashionably turned out even in old age and could make her home shine like a show home at the Ideal Home Exhibition. Sadly I did not inherit her skills unlike my brother who went on to a merchandising career with fashion brand Monsoon. Perhaps it skipped a generation a bit as my daughter is a brilliant artist with a real eye for shape and colour.

Light

Here are a few tips of what to consider before making your next lighting purchase.

Courage

Can you remember the last time you changed up your fashion style. Perhaps you tried a different brand or went into a shop that you thought was only for younger people. Did you wear a skirt where usually you live in leggings? Did a friend or family member encourage you to break out of a fashion rut. I bet it felt a bit scary but also liberating and exhilarating.

It’s the same with lighting choices. Be brave. Make a statement. Express who you are in your home. Think big literally and metaphorically.

Colour

Look at your current lighting? Are you still living like a student with bare light bulbs or cheap paper lampshades? Are your colour choices of the bland variety. It does not need to be that way so if  you have a favourite colour why not incorporate it into your lighting choices?

Placement

It is easy to just have lighting over our heads but perhaps a bit boring. I actually miss the old days of the standard lamp giving a more cosy and subtle atmosphere in the living room. Have you considered lighting at different levels in a room? Could you make a feature of an art work will clever lighting choices?

I guess what I am saying is light is lovely and makes us feel better. Injecting some personal taste and individuality in our lighting choices rather than going for same old, same old can also give us some joie de vivre.

 

 

 

 

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