I have the luxury of a spare room in our new home. I am thinking it is time I spent some time designing a room of my own. I was brought up as an only child really as my brothers were adults when I arrived on the scene. When we were offered the chance of sharing rooms at college, I chose to have my own. I value my own space.
Of course with a husband and 3 children, space of my own was not realistic for many years. In the earlier years, you have to be around to keep an eye on your children and to keep them safe. I did not even go away from home apart from with work without children until my son was 10 years old. Even then I felt guilty.
Now my children are teenagers and a tween, they don’t want to spend every waking moment with their Mum. My husband likes to watch quizzes, crime shows and so-called male comedy shows on the television. None of these are my thing so I am going to make use of our spare room.
When we viewed the house, I noticed the spare room and wondered what to do with it. In the time we have stayed here, it was a dumping ground for cases and boxes when we moved in, then it became an office for my husband but he now wants to work from upstairs. The spare room in now my oyster!
I want to use the spare room to try mindfulness. I need somewhere to contemplate and the room is perfect as it has a restful air and a beautiful view of the forest. I want to write, draw, read and listen to music in there.
I don’t always sleep well in our marital bedroom especially as my husband is often awake during the night and also because he snores. The spare room will be great for a nap when the mood takes me.
To make my spare room a perfect retreat, I will need some cushions and throws. I would like it to have a bit of a beach hut theme going on ideally with a retro style deckchair. I would also love a day bed or chaise longue if I can fit one in which I think I can. I happened to find the one pictured above over on Lionshome and think it would add a classic touch to a room of my own. I would also add an easel to tempt me to paint and be more creative.
I asked my best friend what she would do with a spare room and she joked that she would turn it into a private bar and invite the girls around. My brother said he would transform it into a music room with a grand piano. My children predictably said it would make a perfect gaming room. Ah video games! Now you know why I absolutely need a room of my own.
For budding gardeners, your garden is your pride and joy and possibly your favourite location in the home. A private slice of green-space away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. You might spend every evening outside in your garden, host weekend events or use it as a growing space to grow your own fruit, vegetables and herbs. So, making it look good and functional is going to be high on your priority list.
Are you looking to start your garden from scratch or possibly make it easier to maintain? We look at ways to turn your garden into your own private oasis.
Make it Private
Have you got a garden that’s overlooked or nosy neighbours that like to peer over the fence? Consider adding a privacy wall using a trellis, divider screens and plants. Established climber plants look great and help block out visibility to anyone trying to peek in. Alternatively, if you’ve got a metal trellis, consider attaching potted plants and you’ll have more option for plant colour.
Break Out the Big Leaves
Tall, leafy foliage is great for invoking a sense of paradise, combine with some smaller, colourful flowers and you’ve got a striking display. Hardy palm trees and broad-leaf ferns are great for bringing various shades of green to your display and can be used to provide shade.
Structure Your Life
Installing garden structures is a great way to section off certain areas. For instance, using decking or slabs for an outside dining area. Pergolas are fantastic versatile structures, grow plants up the supports and through the upper beams or cover with a removable shade for those intense sunny days. Consider a “chill-out area” using a bench or hammock surrounded by leafy plants for an exotic atmosphere.
Light It Up
Adding lights to the garden can offer an instant transformation, from helpful path markers to atmospheric fairy lights in your parasol or across your pergola. Soft, white lights give a warm feeling and are great for areas you want to feel relaxed and comfortable. While multicoloured lights are great for creating a sense of fun.
Make It Easy to Maintain
While there are those that enjoy spending days in the garden pulling up weeds, planting and maintaining that lush, green look. Many of us would like to enjoy the garden without the hassle. Consider replacing your natural sod with artificial grass, it’s cost-effective, saving money on seed, tools and water and very low maintenance. Once installed, artificial grass only requires occasional brushing to keep the grass pile looking tidy.
Should you have a paved patio and are concerned about the costs of having slabs replaced with natural turf, artificial grass can be easily installed on concrete and instantly revitalises the area.
Make a Splash
Water features have long been a popular addition for gardens, from garden ponds to stand-alone fountains. Not only are water features visually pleasing but the sound of running water has an instant calming effect. While garden ponds require some maintenance to keep inhabitants happy, a pond-less water feature is a perfect way to introduce a focal point that requires little upkeep.
Warm, Fuzzy Feelings
While British Summers can bring us some glorious days, once the sun has set and the residual heat starts to dissipate, it can start to feel quite chilly. By adding a fire-pit or patio heater, you can extend the time you spend in your garden and can be perfect for entertaining guests. It also makes a nice focal point to gather round. The added bonus of installing a fire-pit is, of course, roasted marshmallows under the stars – is there a better way to spend the evening?
Your garden is yours to design and decorate as much or as little as you like. Whether it’s low maintenance with artificial grass, a few plants and a nice break-out area or a full-on exotic jungle complete with water feature and outdoor dining area. Your only restriction is your imagination.
With the first warm rays of summer shine, BBQs across the country are wheeled out of their winter hibernation. But is your garden ready for this truly-British summer activity? If not, here’s your to-do list for the upcoming summer BBQing season.
Like a room in your home, the basics of the garden need to be brought back to life. Winter is harsh on the garden so don’t underestimate the effort needed to get the basics back in shape…
It’s the obvious place to start. Come the warmer days of April, you will find that your lawn suddenly springs back into life. Mow it but don’t cut it too short.
Once you’ve done this, give the surface of the lawn a good rake and stop compaction by using a garden fork, poking the earth at regular intervals to allow air into the soil beneath.
Use a good lawn feed to give it a helping hand to become the lush green outdoor carpet you want.
Colour in the garden is supplied by the plants, from the deep green leaves to pretty colourful blooms.
Start adding colour to your garden in late May, with bedding plants in pots to support the spring bulbs. Add shrubs later in the year so they get a chance to bed in before the harshness of winter.
The stain, varnish and paint of sheds and decking take real bashing over winter, as does the paintwork on any garden benches or wooden garden furniture you have. Sand it back, removing peeling or flaking paint and, using a good quality product, add colour and protection back to the garden shed, decking, handrails and so on.
The BBQ Area
Now you have the backdrop sorted, now is the time to add the detail and that means creating a seating and dining area that your BBQ guests will just love to linger.
The dining space
From informal, stand-up-and-eat BBQs to a more formal setting, creating a specific dining or eating space is ideal if you plan on eating outdoors regularly.
There are many of doing this;
A spacious wooden bench is ideal for extra or informal seating, perfect for enjoying a burger with all the trimmings in the sun
Garden dining sets are improving in design, style and quality but if you intend on dining al fresco on a regular basis, investing in a decent dining table and chairs are essential. But protect your investment by covering with a waterproof protective cover n winter or store in a shed or garage.
An outdoor sofa is also a great investment if you plan on entertaining regularly too but is also a great idea for you to relax and enjoy your garden too!
And don’t forget to accessorise with lights, cushions, throws and rugs too.
Now that the lawn is mowed, the shed painted, the plants blooming and your garden bench and dining table ready, you need to start thinking about your BBQ signature dish for the coming season.
From BBQing large chunks of meat to creating a more delicate dish for fish and seafood, there are all kinds of fantastic BBQ recipe ideas. And with May being BBQing month, it is no wonder that there are all kinds of fantastic ideas, including delicious marinades and homemade sauces.
Now that we have done all this, there remains just one thing to do: resurrect the BBQ.
They say home is where the heart is so I am going to share my dream home requirements with you. Obviously the main thing is to have a loving family within it but after that, what would make my home particularly special?
I have had plenty of time to consider this as I have moved so many times over the years. My Mum used to persuade my Dad to move a lot partly for practical reasons like caring for elderly relatives or me being closer to school. However, I think she was always looking for her dream home too.
So I had lived in several houses by the age of 18 when I moved away to university where I changed accommodation every year. Jobs have taken me to various parts of the UK sometimes lodging with others and then eventually getting my own places with partners or on my own. I have lived in just about every type of house you could envisage including those in cities, market towns and out in the countryside. So I am confident in revealing what my dream home looks like and in fact put this into place when choosing my current place.
I like lots of light in the home and actually feel I need it for my mental wellbeing. The darkest room in any home is always my least favourite. I have always fancied French windows but now I love aluminium bifold doors which really do bring the outside in.
I can see the advantages of living in cities, towns and the countryside. However, I think my dream home would be in the peaceful countryside but within walking distance of village amenities and a short drive to city highlights. Ideally, it won’t be too far from the sea either.
We are a loving family but we all like our own space and particularly now the children are older. My dream home includes rooms that we can all retreat to for quiet and to pursue out own interests. I also want those rooms to be at a reasonable distance from each other almost so we can all pretend we have our own bedsit when the mood takes us. I also want a spacious kitchen that is big enough to take a huge pine table where family memories can be created.
I do like gardens but hate gardening so my dream home would either be easy to maintain or have a gardener as part of the deal. I think the perfect deal is where you end up with a small garden overlooking great natural views like fields, forests or the sea.
I would pay a lot of money to have a bathroom of my own. It is one of those things you don’t even think about until you start living with other people and start to wonder what is so complicated about flushing the loo or wiping surfaces down after use. So my dream home would include a bathroom of my own with one of those lovely retro roll-top baths.
I am lucky to already have some aspects of my dream home already but a girl can dream and one day I will have a swimming pool in my basement too.
If you move to a new home or are in the middle of home improvements, it is too easy to cut corners and important ones at that. Although this can seem like a more affordable option, sometimes it is a big mistake. Do not go without carpet underlay. In fact I would go as far as to say that carpet underlay purchase and choices are as important as choosing the colour and material of your carpets themselves.
The purpose of carpet underlay
It gives you a more comfortable experience. We spend a lot of time in our homes especially with more of us working from home as well as bringing up our families there. Underlay provides a cushioning experience for your feet, back and legs as you walk around the home.
Underlay also keeps noise down to a reasonable level. From a financial point of view your carpet really will last longer with good underlay in place. It means your beautiful carpet is not bashed by harsh bare floors. Also it can help you save on heating bills as it provides some insulation in cold weather.
Types of underlay
There are basically three types of carpet underlay available: foam, felt and rubber from outlets such as the Carpet Underlay Shop
If you are on a mid-range budget foam underlay is a good choice. Felt underlay is not used as much these days but used to be a popular and cheap choice for householders.
Rubber underlay is the waffle looking one and gives superb springiness as you walk. It is hard-wearing but it’s also breathable thanks to its cellular construction. Rubber underlay is pricier but it’s also a quality choice.
Other flooring choices
You can also buy underlay for other types of flooring like vinyl and wood to obtain a springier and softer walking experience in your home along with the obvious insulation properties.
Your choice of underlay
Firstly, I reiterate do make sure you invest in underlay. I confess in my earlier years of being a grown-up householder of not having underlay at all. All this led to was damage to carpets which then had to be replaced sooner than they would have otherwise have needed.
Carpet and underlay wear out at pretty much the same rate so when you replace your carpet, my tip would be to replace your underlay too.
Think about the needs of your individual family. Benefits of more expensive underlay may be worth the extra cost to you. For example, you may have health issues so really do need that springier and softer walking experience. You may need to keep warmer than most if you have elderly relatives living with you. There will be the right underlay out there for you and once again, I urge you to make that investment as it will mean comfort and money saved in the long run.