Devonshire Woman

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Serve Up The Perfect Dinner Party Decor

It’s safe to say that some of us have a natural love of hosting. Maybe you’re naturally a very mothering sort of person, or perhaps you just love socialising and providing good food and drink for your friends. Whatever it is, throwing dinner parties can be a great way for you to enjoy perfecting your hosting skills and to throw a fun bash for friends and family at the same time. You may choose to have a family affair complete with the kids in tow, or you may ship your little darlings off to their grandparent’s for the evening in favour of a more adult affair with your friends. Dinner parties usually involve a three course, home-cooked meal and lots of free-flowing wine – but if you really want to pull off a great night, you will also have to think about more than just the meal itself. The decor and the ambiance of the room you hold the party in can have a real impact on how the evening is received by your guests and what the overall ‘vibe’ is. Here are a few ways you can maximize dinner party chic no matter where you are holding your night.

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Set the lighting

Getting the lighting just right for your dinner party can be a bit of a tricky affair. Anything too bright lacks atmosphere and can make your guests feel a little uncomfortable, almost as though they are being put under a microscope. But lighting that is too dim can simply be impractical – after all, your guests presumably want to see the food they are putting in their mouths! Your best bet is to make use of your ceiling light dimmer if you have one. If you don’t, and the only setting for your main light is either ‘on’ or ‘off,’ you may need to bring some table lamps in from other rooms in your home. Sit them near the table, but not on it – you don’t want the glare to bother your guests or harm their eyesight. A few candles on the table always look great as well as being a practical light source – either opt for tealights or make like a traditional Italian restaurant, with candles stuck in empty wine bottles. Bonus points if the wax drips and dries down the sides! Fairy lights can also make the place look extra-fancy and show that you’ve gone that extra mile for your guests, so consider draping some around your dining room window or arranging them in a waterfall effect down the wall next to your table.

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Set the table

A beautifully set table is the hallmark of any quality dinner party. Simple throwing a pile of cutlery down for your guests to help themselves to just won’t cut it, unfortunately – you will need to get the table presented long before anyone knocks on your door. The first thing you need to think about is whether you are going to have a tablecloth or not. Honestly speaking, it’s probably advisable, as if you don’t have one you are putting your table at risk of burns, scratches, and spillages. Invest in a good quality one from a company  such as Richard Howarth, and you can be sure that it will last you for a good few years at least. You may also want to invest in some new cutlery specially chosen for dinner party occasions. Of course, there is nothing wrong with just using your regular, everyday family cutlery. But if you are anything like most families, it is probably mismatched, dated or simply a little worn. Having a second cutlery set specifically for dinner party guests means that you are not panicking five minutes before they are due to arrive, frantically trying to polish a watermark off a ten-year-old fork. You can either opt for a detailed, vintage-style cutlery set or go for something more modern with stainless steel and clean lines. As far as adding a little bit of sparkle to your table goes, you may want to think about table toppers. The decor isn’t a must for a dinner party table (and anything too big can simply get in the way of plates and glasses), but it can make the whole thing look a little prettier. Even something low-key like two baby cacti in pretty vases can add a touch of interest to an otherwise basic table, and the aforementioned candles never go amiss either!


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Embrace quirkiness

There are so many ways you can bring a touch of personality to your dinner party in relatively inexpensive ways. Make some place names for your table – this will make the event seem a little more formal and fancy for your guests, rather than them just coming over and flopping down in your home wherever they like. Get hold of a calligraphy pen and write their names in black on rustic cardboard signs for a cool and classy effect. Or, make everyone laugh by digging out some old pictures of your guests and using them as their place settings. If you feel like you need to add a bit of ‘oomph’ to your table, why not buy some colourful patterned napkins to serve alongside the cutlery? You can get hold of these from most high street shops with a home section, and even party shops tend to usually have a good range on offer. Other cute ways to make your dinner party special include hanging homemade bunting from your light fixtures and even incorporating a theme. For example, you could choose to have a prohibition party and encourage your guests to come dressed in their best 1920s attire. Think black and gold glitter, candles in empty alcohol bottles and Great Gatsby-inspired text on your place names. It is the little touches like this that will make your guests remember your dinner parties for years to come, and you can have a lot of fun with it all too!

The Ins And Outs Of Renovation: What You Really Need To Know

These days, more and more of us are brave enough to embark upon a renovation dream. If you can’t find your ideal home on the open market, taking on a remodelling project is a viable means of making your dreams a reality. With this kind of project, you can design a bespoke home, which ticks all your boxes and gives you the chance to put your individual stamp on every single aspect of the build. Whether you’re building from scratch or you’re doing up an old home that has fallen into disrepair, here’s what you really need to know.

Kilbarchan Scout Hall, Barn Green, Kilbarchan

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Calculating the cost

One of the most important aspects of tackling a renovation project is calculating the costs. Often, when you buy property, you know exactly what the total cost of your move will be. You add the fees to the purchase price, and you’re good to go. With a renovation project, it’s not as simple as buying new build or a home that is in pristine condition. You’ll need to factor in the price you’ve agreed to pay, agents fees and stamp duty, and the cost of the building work you wish to carry out. On top of this, you’ll need to incorporate additional extras, such as interior design costs. If you plan to take time off work to oversee the project or you need to rent somewhere while the work is being done, these costs should also be added to the mix. Make sure you have a firm grasp of the numbers before you make an offer or the sale goes through. The purchase price may seem attractive, but is the project affordable?

If you are thinking of remodelling a home, sit down and work out the total budget for your property search. This way, you can make sure you view properties that are affordable, and you’ll find it easier to adjust the sums for each proposition. Some may require more TLC than others.

If you’ve ever watched home makeover shows or you’re a fan of property programmes in general, you’ll be all too aware of the very real possibility of going way over budget or running into hurdles, which delay the project dramatically. Once you’ve got a figure in mind for the build, it’s always a good idea to have a contingency budget set aside. You never know when you may need to dip into that rainy day fund.

When you’re drawing up plans and throwing ideas around, don’t just go for the first building firm or architect you see. Get some quotes, and then consider your options when you’ve got everything laid out on the table in front of you. You may be surprised at the difference in prices. If you’re using materials in bulk, it’s worth shopping around and liaising with different suppliers. If you’re buying products such as Henkel bulk adhesives, with Kenyon Group being a primary distributor, for example, you could save by placing large orders. If you compare prices, and you can place bulk orders at one time, you’ll get preferential rates, and this will save you money on the total cost of the remodel. If you’re planning to take on aspects of the work yourself, you could also save time and money by looking into equipment hire.

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Meticulous planning

Planning is essential with any house move, but if you’re taking on a doer-upper, it’s particularly important to make sure you have every aspect of the build pinned down. Once you’ve done the maths, you can start working on plans with architects and builders, and work out what needs doing first, and how you can make your vision a reality. Planning consent may be an issue, so make sure you have approval from the relevant authorities before any changes are made to the structure of the building. Although you can plan in advance, it’s unwise to start building until the plans have been given the green light.

Take advantage of the information provided by a surveyor when drawing up plans for your new and improved home. When you have a survey done, this will flag up potential issues, and highlight jobs that need to be done as a priority, such as structural work to secure the foundations. Focus on these jobs before you start getting carried away with wallpaper prints or tiles for the kitchen floor. If you’re overseeing the project, you’ll need to ensure that you maintain contact with everyone that is working for you. Be organised, manage your time, and make sure everything is going to schedule. If you plan everything with meticulous detail, there’s a much lower risk of things going wrong.

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Realistic expectations

When you see images of stunning homes in interior magazines and footage of people enjoying life in their dream homes, it can make renovation seem like an incredibly appealing prospect. In many ways, taking on work and remodelling a home is a great way of making your dream home a reality. But don’t be under the illusion that it will be an easy ride. In many cases, the people featured in magazines and TV shows have overcome several hurdles and obstacles to get where they are now. If you’re seriously considering a major home renovation, it’s beneficial to have realistic expectations from the outset. You’re going to have to wait to enjoy the results of your blood, sweat, and tears, and there may be highs and lows along the way. You may sail through without any issues, and arrive at the final destination on budget and on time, but it’s rare for there to be no hitches or glitches.

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Renovating a house to create the home of your dreams may seem like an alluring prospect. If you get it right, you can emerge the other side with a stunning tailor-made home, which may have worked out a lot cheaper than buying a home in perfect condition. There’s a lot to be said for remodelling and taking on a project, but there are pitfalls you should be wary of. It’s very easy to go over budget and to run way over time. Manage the project carefully, and never underestimate the importance of planning every detail. This will help you to avoid unexpected delays and costs, and it will also ensure that you have realistic expectations.

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Don’t Let Your Home Drown In The Flood

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We work hard to get our homes perfect, and when something goes wrong, it hits hard. The sad fact is, there’s a lot that can go wrong. Some things, like fire and theft, you can take steps to prevent. Other things, you’re powerless to control. Sadly, floods fall into this category. None of us want to hear the telltale sound of water dripping in our houses. Though it may not be a reality you want to face, protect yourself by having an emergency plan in place. That way, you can ensure a flood doesn’t leave you out of action.

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DIAGNOSIS

The first thing to do if you find a flood is to diagnose the problem. Without taking this step, you won’t be able to move forward. Though your first instinct may be to panic, it’s important you don’t give in. The faster you act, the less damage the flood will do. It may be that a burst pipe is your problem. If a pipe bursts in the floor, you may not notice until the flood builds. Then, WHOOSH, it unleashes into your home. Look at where the water is coming from to decide. If a burst pipe is the problem, find your nearest emergency plumbers. Do this as soon as possible, or else the flood will get worse. Or, it may be that a problem outside has caused the flood. Extreme rainfall can cause rivers to split their banks. If you can’t find a cause in your home, take a look outside. Contact your neighbour and ask if they’ve had any problems. You better hope nature isn’t to blame, though, because that’s a difficult issue to fix! 

LESSEN THE DAMAGE

Once you’ve taken any possible action, it’s time to do all you can to reduce the damage. This won’t be an easy task. Depending on the severity of the flood, get your wellies on and get stuck in. At this stage, there’s not much you can do to protect your home. Instead, focus on saving your belongings. Rescue as much as you can. Even things that are already damaged may be salvageable. Think, too, about things above ground. At this stage, you won’t know how bad the flood is going to get. It’s worth emptying the space of everything possible. Once the room is empty, take steps to confine the problem. Close the door to stop the water entering the rest of your home.

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GET THE BUCKETS

After that, the best thing you can do is get the buckets. This is especially important if a burst pipe is to blame. While you wait for a repair, the water will continue to drip. Prevent any further damage to your home by making sure that water goes in the buckets! It may be that you need a few more than one, so it’s worth having a stock in the attic. You never know when you might need them. If you don’t have buckets on hand, large bowls should do the job, too!

How To Love Your Living Room

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One of the easiest things that you can do when redesigning a room is to get carried away with it all. Ideas may never materialise as they come and go out of your head quicker than you can say ‘snap’, and if you don’t stay on track with what you want, you could end up with a mismatch of your personality splashed haphazardly around a room. Especially when redesigning your living room, there’s something that takes time, dedication and planning if you want to execute it perfectly. There’s a lot to take into consideration…

Sofas

There are certain types of furniture which will last a lot longer than their counterparts. For example, a leather sofa will outdo a fabric one by years; they’re easier to clean and manage and won’t be as easy to split with regular use. You could keep it classic by investing in a Chesterfield sofa; these are truly the pieces of lounge furniture which will never go out of style, and are instantly recognisable. Choosing furniture that you know that won’t lose its appeal and retain some sort of price tag if you ever want to sell it is definitely the way forward when making your decision; going for ones which are neutral in colour and work with any colour scheme is also a great option. You don’t have to invest in a sofa that has a quirky pattern on it to get the look that you desire; simply add a few brightly-coloured and patterned cushions to it to really make it your own.

Coffee Tables

Again, like the sofas, investing in quality will serve you better in the long run than going for something purely based on aesthetics. Taking into consideration the type of material that a piece of furniture is made from will do you well. For example, if you were going for a coffee table made out of glass or laminate-style wood, it probably would not last you as long as one that is made out of solid oak. The great thing about investing in a good, hard wood is that if you are bored of the colour of it later on, it can easily be painted and then sanded down back to its original state if you have made a mistake. It takes a bit of time to do, but the results are more than worth it.

Decorations

Decorating your living room is a thrill; it is a direct reflection of your personality which you wish for your friends, family and guests to be able to see. There are some really cool ways to get this across, as well; you could frame your favourite original movie posters, put up photos of those whom you hold nearest and dearest, accessorize with bunting or pompoms and throw in a few houseplants for good measure. There is no end of ways to truly decorate a lounge, and there is definitely no wrong way to do it. Let your imagination and creativity show and ensure that it’s something that you will enjoy living with.

Classic Looks: How To Make Your Home Last The Test Of Time

Sometimes it can be hard to stop yourself jumping on top of whatever trends you can possibly reach, in an attempt to make your home look up to date and fashionable. But if your house is covered in brand new rose gold items, then chances are it might just start to look a little out of date once our favourite metallic trend isn’t really in fashion any more. Here are some tips about how to make your home last the test of time…

Choose A Neutral Palette

First of all, make sure that you go for a neutral palette. Off white or grey walls are the new magnolia, and plain floorboards and white skirting boards will always look good. Larger items like couches should also be in neutral colours, unless you want to make a splash and turn it into a focal point of the room with a more boldly patterned fabric. If you choose neutral colours, it’ll be a whole lot easier to completely change the look of the room with accessories like paintings, different rugs and blankets, and pillows in different fabrics – it’s a good base to work from.

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Go For Quality Pieces

Spending a little more money may feel painful but in the long run it will be absolutely worth it. For instance, splashing out on a vintage Chesterfield sofa might hurt your wallet a little but in the long term, you’ll be delighted you did it – it’ll stand up to any mauling from your pets and kids, you’ll be able to wipe any spillages off the leather, and it’ll look more and more chic the more battered it gets. Going for quality means that you’re also going for furniture with longer life spans – it’s always worth it.

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Plain And Chic Is The Way To Go

As a general rule, patterns age much worse than more plain items, particularly if you don’t want to spend too much money. Ikea may be a bit of a cliche (and a bit of a pain if you don’t enjoy putting things together!) but there’s a reason furniture from there is so popular: its plainness means that it lasts the test of time and it never goes out of style.

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Choose Sustainable Materials

It’s always better to go for materials like wood, metal and glass over plastic. Not only will they last for longer, but they’ll also look considerably better as they age – much better to have a wood counter with slightly unvarnished edges instead of cracked plastic, right? In addition, if you want to get rid of those pieces of furniture it’s a lot easier as they can be recycled if they aren’t in good enough condition to be resold or donated.

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Go Vintage

Finally, vintage items will absolutely always be in, whether it’s art deco, designs from the sixties or even vintage items of slightly dubious origin that you’ve bought from your local thrift store. There’s nothing quite as interesting as furniture with a history – and you get to continue that history within your family.

Things To Ditch In The Move

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When you’re moving house, it is an ideal time to ditch what you don’t like and start again. It could be that you have been holding on to gifted furniture that you know doesn’t go with anything and that you don’t connect to; it’s more of a perseverance with it that has seen you keep it for so long. There are certain things which are so big and hefty to move when you’re swapping homes that it makes sense to either leave it in the house or have somebody come and pick it up for charity if you really don’t like it. It’s your one chance to have a completely fresh start.

Lounge furniture

The living room is one of two things: either the first room to be set up, to make way for the inevitable guests coming to check out your new pad, or the last room to get any attention because you’re too busy getting sleeping, eating and washing spaces sorted as a priority. If you know that your sofa has seen its best days and they have been and gone and are well in the past, have a look around to see what you like and get it ordered to your new home. There are always people willing to take on old furniture, so what you’ll be leaving behind will find its new home soon enough.

Bedroom furniture

Looking around for new bedroom furniture can be a challenge, especially if you have matched it all previously. However hard it may seem to do, once it clicks and you know what the general theme is that you’re looking for, you’ll be on a roll. Make sure that you change your mattress with every move; generally speaking, if you’re not moving that often or it’s the first and last move in absolutely ages, your mattress should be replaced anyway. They have a lifespan of around 8 years, and keeping them longer than this can cause problems for your sleep pattern and, more importantly, your muscles and bones.

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Colour of the walls

There’s no excuse to paint that’s better than doing it because you’re moving into a new home. If you are renting, make sure that you have had permission from the landlord to do so. If you’ve bought them home then happy days – go wild with your colour choice. If you have had colours on the walls that have worked for your in your previous home, you could use them again but deviate a little; use a different hue for a yellow in the kitchen, or try and variation on a purple for the dining room (i.e. lavender instead of eggplant). If you absolutely hated the scheme that you’ve just moved from, it’s time to go wild and get your preferences firmly dried upon your walls.

Kitchen appliances

There are some white goods that you just need to leave behind and gift with the house – either because they’re nearing breaking point or are so old that to get them out and transport them would render them unusable. It can be expensive to kit yourself out with new gear like fridges and dishwashers, but if you know that they’ll last for years to come then go for it.

Let There Be Light!

There are a lot of things that you can do in order to make your home feel alive. We all want to be able to spend our time somewhere pleasant, and that goes doubly for your home given just how much of your life you spend there. Your home is more than just the place where you eat and sleep. It’s the place where you should feel safe, where you make memories, where you escape from the world and spend time with your loved ones. Luckily, being able to create a home that feels this way isn’t nearly as hard as you might expect. In fact, there’s one incredibly simple thing that can mean the difference between a home that feels small, cramped and unpleasant, and one that’s a pleasure to be in. That thing is, of course, light. Light is one of the most important aspects of any home and yet it’s also something that seems to get ignored all too often. A lot of this is down to the fact it’s very easy to take the light in your home for granted. But if used correctly, lighting can make a home seem bigger, brighter and more welcoming. Here are a few ways that lighting can change your home for the better.

Create a sense of space

Do you ever walk into someone’s home and it just feels sort of cramped. As though you aren’t really sure how much you’re able to move around for fear of bumping into things? If you look again, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll find that there’s a lot more space than you initially thought. The real issue is that the light in the room simply doesn’t show that off properly. Likewise, even the smallest room can be made to feel more spacious by being well lit. Natural light is the best thing for this and mirrors are wonderful for reflecting that light around the room.

Set a mood

Not every single room should be lit in the same way. After all, you do different things in each room so they should all have their own unique feeling and mood. Your bedroom should use a lot of soft, warm lights in order to create the most relaxing atmosphere possible. Whereas your kitchen is going to need much brighter lights. Things like GU10 LED Spotlights are fantastic for kitchens and bathrooms since they give off a great deal of light without using up huge amounts of power.

Get cosy

Sometimes, of course, too much light can be a bad thing. If you’re trying to relax in your living room, then that’s not going to be very easy if you’re constantly being bombarded by bright lights. This is where things like lamps come in so useful. Not only do they add to the decor of a room wonderfully, but a selection of lamps also allows you to directly control exactly how much light there is in a room at any given time. If you just want to relax and listen to some music then you can leave a couple of lamps on to create a pleasant atmosphere, but if you’re throwing a party then you’re going to want them all on to bring out as much life and mood as possible!