Top 5 Tips for Refurbishing Your Home

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Whether you’ve just moved into your new house or you’ve lived there practically all your life, there comes a time when all houses need a new lick of paint, some new carpets, a new bathroom or a complete makeover. For most people, it’s a massive job and it’s difficult to know exactly where to start. Here are my top 5 tips for any homeowners who are taking the plunge and seeing how beautiful they can make their house.

 

  1. Make a list of things in the order they need to be done

It’s common sense to get the bigger jobs out of the way first and then concentrate on the smaller and more decorative things. Don’t start buying new carpets until you’ve painted the walls, and don’t paint the walls until all the plastering jobs have been done! Make a list, since this will help you along the way, especially if there are lots of different jobs and tasks which need to be done. You can sit down with other members of the household and combine your ideas and thoughts in order to make sure everything gets done as effectively as possible. Once you’ve listed all the things which need to be done, list them in the order which they need to be completed.

 

  1. Be careful who you hire

The term “cowboys” when referring to builders and other tradesmen hasn’t come out of nowhere – it’s evolved because of the poor and shabby workmanship which people have paid for on their houses. It’s incredibly important to hire somebody who you can trust to do the job properly. Never hire somebody just because you know them and you think they’re a nice person – people can have great personalities and yet they can’t do their job very effectively. The best way to decide who you’re going to hire is by going to houses where work has been done previously and having a look around. Most tradesmen will have a few references in the area which they can give you. Once you’ve got the contact details, get in touch with the homeowners, explain the situation and they’ll probably be more than happy to let you go and have a look at their home. If it’s an outside job, such as a conservatory or roofing task, you could have a drive to the house and view it from the outside without actually having to go inside.

Be careful when reading reviews from the individual’s website, since reviews on a managed website can be easily faked and might not be from real people who have used the services before. Go to websites which are not connected to the tradesman, such as directories and websites which allow people to advertise their services. These are much more likely to be true, although getting references and speaking directly to people is the best thing to do.

 

  1. Set a budget

One of the worst things you can do when refurbishing your home is to start getting into debt and having poorly managed finances. If you already have a mortgage and other bills which need to be paid on the house, getting more debt will just bring on stress and anxiety and won’t make the makeover of your home an enjoyable experience. When you’re making the list of things which need to be done, research the market rates for each job and find out an estimated amount which each job will cost. You can contact tradesmen and ask them to come to your house and give you a free quote for the work which you need doing. You can then keep track of the price each one gives you, and if you’re trying to decide between two workers, make the decision based on the price.

Another way to help with budgeting is to set a budget for each individual room of the house. For example, if you know the bathroom needs to be entirely taken out and replaced, give this a higher budget. The kitchen, on the other hand, might be in good condition and only need a new coat of paint on the walls, therefore, this room will be given a lower budget. You can always manage your finances effectively by downloading budgeting software and apps, and reading top 10 reviews on a variety of products is a brilliant way to find the perfect one.

 

  1. Do it your way

When people hear that you’re refurbishing your home, they’ll want to give you all their ideas about the house. However, remember that it’s your home and you can design and decorate it in the way that you want it to be done. You can appreciate their help and ideas, and you might be able to get some great tips from them, but don’t let them take over and make decisions for you. Remember that you’re the one who will be paying for the work to be done, so you shouldn’t feel pressured by other people into how you should be decorating the home.

Don’t rush when you decide how to decorate, especially when it comes to colour schemes and which colours are going to go in each room. Take samples of different colours of paints and different carpet patterns, and remember that there are loads of things to choose from, such as vinyl, wooden floors, thick carpets and rugs. Think about which colours which match in different rooms, and if there are other people living in the house, remember to ask their opinions too. If they sleep in one of the bedrooms, see if they have any preferences when it comes to colours, patterns and what type of furniture goes in the rooms.

 

  1. Shop around

Don’t walk into the first shop you see to buy your new fireplace, and don’t choose that patterned carpet just because you know the shop owner. Shop around – look online to see if you can get some good deals. A lot of carpet stores and DIY shops are hidden in warehouses that you never knew existed, and a quick Google search will reveal a variety of stores in your area where you’ll be able to purchase things.

The same applies to the tradesmen and workers that you hire – do your research and speak to as many different people as possible in order to get the best prices and the best value for money.

Have a look at the things that you can purchase yourself. For example, if you have a plumber coming to do some work on your bathroom, they will charge you extra for parts in order to make a profit. Taking the time to search these things yourself will enable you to find out what the current price is for the items, and if you want to purchase them yourself, you’re at liberty to do so.

Don’t miss out on vouchers and discount codes too. If you’re going to be spending quite a lot of money in one store, they may have a loyalty card or a discount voucher that they can give you for your spending. This will help your budget too, since you’ll be saving money on the budget and spending less than you anticipated!

Learning Ikebana

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Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and I cannot help but be reminded of beautiful flowers during this time. Not all of us are fond of flowers, but personally, seeing them in the garden, living room, and bedroom always gives me that calming effect. Not only are they nice to look at, but more importantly, they are an essential part of nature – feeding birds, insects, animals, and humans. Furthermore, they help in a plant’s reproduction by attracting outside pollinators and supply natural medicines. They have become such a deep-rooted part of our daily lives and a fundamental part of our landscape.

Admittedly, I know very little about flowers, much less arranging them. I know the names of the popular and common ones but I am quite ignorant when it comes to flower arrangement. I see florists preparing them and it looks easy but since I am no expert, it probably is not and takes a lot of skill. I am interested though in Ikebana or the Japanese art of formal flower arrangement, also known as kado or the “way of flowers”. I see pictures and notice how delicate and exquisite these arrangements look. It emphasizes form, balance, and harmony. Although it is a creative expression, there are rules determining its form and the meaning of each arrangement are seen through the color combinations, graceful lines, and natural shapes.

The book Japanese Ikebana For Every Season by Rie Imai and Yuji Ueno gives us more information about Ikebana and makes it more accessible to everyone. A lot of us may think that it is hard but this book makes it all look so uncomplicated. It presents 53 simple yet elegant flower arrangements that even someone who has not done any arranging can do anytime, anywhere. The flowers are arranged in simple containers to adorn your surroundings or to be given away as gifts for special occasions like Mother’s Day, birthdays, and wedding anniversaries.

This book presents and explains in detail some simple principles such as the idea of seeing old things with new eyes and also offers a few very easy methods of flower stabilization and how to support flowers and plants inside a vase or any container. Using any kind of flower, you can make beautiful Ikebana in just a short time. Choosing the flowers and the containers that you can see around you and showing how to turn them into special arrangements are carefully and thoroughly explained. Furthermore, the book presents many styles that make the reader use his creativity rather than imitate traditional and highly technical Ikebana design concepts. Probably the best thing about having this book is knowing that all these elegant Japanese flower arrangements do not have to cost so much.

A Worthwhile Read: Oriental Rugs: An Illustrated Lexicon of Motifs, Materials, and Origins

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I like browsing through the pages of Good Housekeeping because I get a lot of home decorating ideas and it keeps me abreast on what is happening in the world of interior design. If you do not want to spend too much money then instead of hiring an interior decorator just flip through the pages of magazines to get inspiration and in the process know the latest trends when it comes to what looks good in a home. But more than contemporary design, I have always been fascinated with old fashioned homes decorated with oriental rugs. Their beautiful and intricate designs and colors make a house, no matter how small or big it is, look so elegant.

A lot of people consider them as pieces of art. They are rugs that were made in the Orient or in Asia namely China, Vietnam, Nepal, Pakistan, Turkey, Cyprus, Iran, India, Egypt, and Morocco. They were brought to the West during the Crusades and are organized by origin such as Arabian rugs, Persian rugs, Central Asian rugs, Chinese rugs, Indian rugs etc. They can last for decades because of their high quality. Antique oriental rugs have been in demand for years. Some even display them as wall decors. Since there are so many different designs and sizes, finding one that will complement your home’s motif might be challenging. It is probably a good idea to start your home decor with the oriental rug first then pick the rest of the furnishing to suit the oriental rug.

If you want to know more about oriental rugs, then Peter F. Stone’s book Oriental Rugs: An Illustrated Lexicon of Motifs, Materials, and Origins is a great reference. It contains over 1,000 vivid drawings and pictures of different types, designs, and sizes of oriental rugs. The book gives ample information about rugs being a part of art history and how tribal weavings, particularly oriental rugs, make us more knowledgeable about some traditions that were not given much attention before. Examples of which are the weavings of southwest Persia, Baluchistan and Kurdistan.

This book likewise gives information about oriental rugs that have not been previously written. It provides straightforward and exact definitions for the rug and fabric terms used in each country where it is made. The book also touches on museum-quality rug traditions and the modern ways of manufacturing or producing them as well as on the rich hand-knotting and hand-weaving traditions of the Near East and Central Asia and some examples of Scandinavian and Native American weavings. This brief but comprehensive book is a must-have for beginners, serious collectors, scholars, and dealers. It is easy to read and any rug afficionado can read this to expand their knowledge of textiles.