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Thanks to its simplicity, organic elements and functionality, many people choose to design their homes in the Scandinavian style. This style can be incorporated in many different rooms and it makes every space look and feel comfortable, cozy, practical and organized. So, here’s how you can maintain a perfect Scandi design in your home.

scandinavian interior design

The living room

You should probably spend the most time on designing your living room, since it’s the true heart of every home. It should really be a space where you and your family feel most comfortable at, so you can follow your heart on this one, instead of relying on an interior design catalogue. However, there are some elements that you can keep in mind while designing your Scandi living room. The first is probably carpets. The trend of wall-to-wall carpets was never popular in Scandinavia. Instead, they all opt for light wooden floors that are much more practical and functional. Furniture in Scandi style is characterized by clean lines and simple forms, but is also comfortable and functional. If you’re scared your space will be too cold and impersonal, you can add some texture and warmth to your living room with wall cladding and different fabrics.

Scandinavian living room

The bedroom

Scandinavians love the so-called non-colors like white and light gray, and the same goes for the bedroom. While white definitely dominates, you can add some spark to the space with touches of pale blue, pastels or even black details. However, your main concern for the bedroom should be comfort. There’s nothing comfier than thick knit blankets and throws to keep you warm in the winter. Another thing that’s characteristic and not at all unusual for Scandi bedrooms (and living rooms) is a fireplace. It comes very handy when it’s cold outside, especially if you live in areas with harsh winters.

Scandinavian bedroom

The kitchen

Skandi kitchens are very airy and bright, concentrating on functionality and simplicity above anything else. If your kitchen doesn’t have ample storage space, you can incorporate open shelves that are quite common in Scandinavian design. They are practical and allow easy access to your kitchen necessities. Once again, white dominates and it looks amazing paired with wooden or black and white checkered floors. The black and white combo really makes the space look stylish and sophisticated, and that’s what Scandi design is all about.

Scandinavian kitchen

The bathroom

Just like kitchens, Scandi bathrooms are also quite airy, light and functional. While white reigns here as well, it’s usually accompanied by dark or metallic fixtures and lighting. These darker details provide a perfect visual contrast to the white walls and tiles. If you want your bathroom to reminisce of Scandinavian saunas, you mustn’t forget timber. Choose light-colored timber (you can go green with recycled wood) and use it for your vanity cabinets or storage space. Another thing characteristic for Scandi bathrooms is the presence of greenery. Any plant, big or small, can add color and life to a monochrome space, which is why many interior designers choose to incorporate greenery in the bathroom. When it comes to the famous Scandinavian functionality, your fixtures should always be in top shape. So, have an experienced plumber on speed dial who will fix all your leaks and drips before they render your bathroom useless.

Scandinavian bathroom

An outside room

Scandinavians usually have a strong connection with nature, so it’s not a surprise that every apartment and every home has a balcony or a deck. These spaces are often used for hosting parties and enjoying the fresh air and sun during summer. And since Scandinavians love a good BBQ, make sure to equip your outdoor space with a good grill and some comfy furniture for al fresco dining.

So, if you feel attracted to the sophistication, simplicity, functionality and piece Scandi design offers, don’t hesitate to incorporate it into your home during your next renovation.

At last! You decided to sell your house.  Don’t congratulate yourself yet and expect to move out right away.  The world of real estate is highly competitive and it is very unlikely that you seal the deal with a limited budget, time and exposure.  Preparing yourself and your house for effective home staging could potentially open the door to selling your house for a good deal with a good price – and fast.  Here are 10 tips to guide you:

Getting ready To Sell - 10 Home Staging Tips

1. Assess the marketable status of your house

Salesmanship is a skill that cannot be expected from regular homeowners.   For whichever out of the many reasons that finally made you want to sell your house, it is important to recall that special reason which made you want to live there in the first place.  You’ve lived in it.  You’ve had kids in it.  You’ve had friends over. You’ve dined, wined, slept and even cried in it.  Being too familiar with our homes makes us forget its value and take it for granted.  Take a good look at your house now and evaluate its marketable points.

2. Appraise the value of your house from your perspective

Go through your house from room to room, space to space and corner to corner. Reminisce on moments that the property became more than just a house to you (a prize for hard work, a neutral ground for your parent’s war, the territorial limit of your in-laws, a fortress that your boss could not penetrate or a melting pot for your friends). Bottom-line is you will not be able to sell something that you don’t find value in.  Evaluate each area as to usefulness and functionality.  This will also help you decide which stuff will go to the moving van and which will stay for the open house.  Now, it’s time to declutter and start the inventory.

3. Consumerism is always visually driven

Now is the time to air out those antiques, branded tea sets and expensive dinner wares. Set them up in places conducive for receiving guests and help you engage discussions. Buyers go by what they see but you can manipulate their vision through some optical strategies.  Put mirrors in tight corners to create an illusion of space.  Remove the things that may incite controversies in religion, race or politics. Instead, handpick conversation-starter photos and memorabilia that would make them want to live there as well.

Install artworks that will direct their attention to intricate details of the house (mosaic tiles, wood carvings, handpainted walls).  Lounging areas and places of rest are best adorned with fluffy pillows, soft and clean mattresses.  This will make your house seem cozy and warm.

4. Cleanliness should be prioritized and never compromised

Mildews, stains, dust bunnies and cobwebs instantly decreases market value on sight. Cleaning routines should be established and upkeep should be calculated at the outset (water supplies, water closets, household plumbing, electrical circuits, drainage, garbage disposal, pest control and similar issues).

5. You can control the overall atmosphere and ambiance

Each house exudes certain moods when you enter it for the first time. Naturally, buyers will be looking for any feeling of relaxation and comfort.  This is where proper ventilation and adequate lighting comes in.  Avoid heavy draping and redundant decorations that obstruct the view in order for the buyers to see the flexibility of the spaces therein.  Live plants help make your place fresh and airy.  The smell of freshly baked cookies, brewed coffee and light jazz background music will also certainly work wonders for you.

Getting ready To Sell - 10 Home Staging Tips

6. Allow the buyer to see his home in your house

A minimalist design, well-kept solid wood furniture elegant and classy, would be appropriate.  Total motif should be kept in neutral tones.  A splash of color should only be used to accentuate details in architecture.  Minimalism gives a touch of sophistication and sense of luxury, giving your buyer the idea that your house will improve his lifestyle.

7. You can stage your area and community

Your house’s market value does not actually depend on where it is actually located but how it is situated. Your community will help you stage your lawn, garden, fences, and outer walls.  Buyers will be looking at safety, health, social acceptance and convenience.  Think ahead of any seasonal occurrence that you have to prepare for based on location (overflow of streams, falling of leaves, height of snow, garbage collection, road closures, etc.).

8. The quality of your lifestyle can be staged

Any lifestyle is dependent on accessibility and community. Access to key places (work, school, hospital, police station, grocery stores, banks, etc.) and key services (internet, telephone, cable television, etc.) will always be considered.  The impression of the community (social status, personalities of neighbors, traffic, population, etc.) is also an influential factor.  You do not need to avail of all it, what is important is that your house has open and ready access for these considerations.

9. There are inexpensive ways to advertise and promote your home

With limited budget, you can always take advantage of your social media accounts and online circles.  It would help to learn from online promotional strategies of established realtors like karkanja. Set up visible posts at allowed public places.  Flaunt your house to attract prospective buyers by installing outdoor decorations and lightings on the nearest holiday or turning your garden lights on every night.

10. You should know how to address depreciation

Staging your home also requires staging yourself. Here are some questions to help you prepare:

  • Why would I choose your house over one that is newly built?
  • Why would I want something that somebody is willing to let go?

As a seller, you’re looking at your house as a property. For any buyer, they will be looking at your house as a possible home.  Stage your home in such a way that you are offering an exclusive opportunity rather than a commodity.  The value of a thing increases when it is unlike any other.  Your house is unique from other houses because it is your home.  A recent shift in lifestyle merely reminded you that others also need to have a good home.  The value of a house will always depreciate but a home will always remain priceless.

Finding the leaking areas in a roof can be quite cumbersome. However, summoning Toronto experts can help a great deal in the search for leaking holes and to execute the patching process. Eventually, when the leaks in your roof become a serious problem, patching requires roofers who are accessible to the individuals of all standards of living. Failure to fix leakages in a roof can lead to bigger problems like rotted framing, sheathing, destroyed insulation, damaged skylights, and growth of molds. Hence, it is critical to patch any roof leak as soon as you notice it, before any further damages. Water stains extending across the ceilings or rundown walls are signs that a leaking roof is getting serious.

Fixing shingles

Fixing shingles is the first essential tip to consider, unless your roof is crafted from weatherproof membranes (typically flat roofs are made up of these). Finding broken shingles involves checking for the damaged areas in the roofing by running a hose along the roof sections. Additionally, fixing shingles includes looking for the damaged curled or missing shingles. After identifying all the damaged areas, the curled shingles are straightened out using the heat from home appliances like an electric hair dryer. The curled back shingles can also be repaired using asphalt roof cement. Damaged shingles will often need to be replaced by your local roofers, but in the end it is better to pay for a repair than to pay for the installation of an entirely new roof. Additionally, it’s going to be a massive inconvenience for your family if your entire roof needs to be replaced.

workers on the roof repairing

Rolled roofing

Rolled roofing is the second vital tip that should be considered. It involves attaching an asphalt roll to the roof with an adhesive called lap cement. Spreading and pressing down of cement under the loose roofing material adds an extra layer of protection for the vulnerable shingles. Galvanized roofing nails can also be driven through the roll roofing to ensure that it is stable.

Patching damaged shakes

Patching damaged shakes is another basic service that should be offered by your local roofers – Professional Roofers are extremely adept in this technique – especially in Toronto where this design is so common. Hammers and chisels split damaged shakes and then a hacksaw is used to cut off the ends of the nails that can’t be pried out. Alternatively, if the use of a hacksaw will harm the good shakes, it is critical to work on the nails while cutting them down. Replace the old shakes with new ones if they are beyond patching with a fine toothed saw. The new shake is then slid into place and hammered using galvanized roofing nails. Once the new shakes have been nailed in, you can seal them with a caulking compound.

worker on the roof

Besides these three strategies for patching a leaking roof, there are other minor repairs to consider. Making connections is one of them. It involves inspecting areas where the surfaces connect the chimney and the vent pipe. After inspection, the damaged parts of the surfaces connecting the roof are replaceable with new ones. For more information concerning patching of leaking roofs, visiting your local Toronto experts will help a great deal. Alternatively, roofing websites provides more roofing information that will guide a layman through the patching process.

 

 

One of the most important decisions in your home is choosing the right flooring. It’s the biggest choice of all, some floors fit in rooms and not in others, so it’s important that you choose exactly the right one for you. This blog is going to take you through some of the rooms in your house, and hopefully, help you to make a decision.

Living Room/Bedroom

Your lounge and your bedroom are the places where you’ll spend most of your time at home relaxing and kicking your feet back, so it’s important to make sure that you have ultimate comfort and a superb sense of style. Your living room is essentially your pièce de résistance, and a room that is used for relaxing, but also hosting dinner parties so it’s important you find the right middle ground. Your bedroom, however, is the ultimate relaxation zone, so it is important your flooring reflects that.

For your bedroom we’d recommend hardwood flooring, in particular, engineered. Warm colours add a lovely aesthetic to your room, and make it feel incredibly homely, especially as the winter months roll in! It can also have underfloor heating installed. Living room wise, we’d recommend parquet because it has a beautiful style, but is also incredibly practical. It’s a very traditional zig zag style flooring, so adds a really stylish addition to your house. It is also incredibly practical and durable.

Kitchen/Bathroom

One of the most difficult places to choose in your house is your kitchen and bathroom. Both rooms are exposed to moisture and water, so it’s important to ensure that whilst getting the style is important, it’s also imperative it’s practical.

Laminate flooring is our recommendation, it is sturdy and water resistant, and can still look stylish, it is also the most cost effective. Hardwood flooring has a tendency to expand in wet conditions, so it is best avoided in these rooms. They will also be areas of high traffic and heavy footfall, and laminate handles the pressure well.

Dining Room

The final main room in your house is the dining area. You’ll find with this room sometimes style is a little more important the practicality, so a classy and elegant design is what we would recommend to ensure you impress your parties and guests.

The two best options are hardwood and Luxury Vinyl Tiles (LVT). LVT is a practical alternative to hardwood and is an all-purpose solution. It has great durability features and would fit perfectly in your dining room. It comes in a number of different designs, and can easily cope with these stress of scraping chairs and any spillages with considerate ease!

Article was written by Ben Duke from Poshflooring.co.uk

Window coverings come in a wide variety but most important of them are Roman blinds, which are put in place to block the sun’s rays. Unlike other shades, they turn to build up evenly when open. With this type of blinds, users have the ability of controlling the height of the covered area when opening them using the cord mechanism. This type of blind can be made from materials such as wood and fabric as they are capable of meeting the needs of everyone. There is a wide variety of styles to consider when deciding on a choice of roman blinds to use in your home.
roman blinds

Types of Roman Blinds

#1. Flat Romans Blinds: These blinds are made out of a single piece of fabric hanging flat in front of the window when fully extended. They present your house with a clean and delightful look and they often extend horizontally 8-10 inches apart. This particular kind of blind always compliments your décor regardless of the kind of home you posses.

#2. Hobbled Roman Blinds: They are also called waterfall sheds due to the overlapping folds, it retains when extended. The particular nature of this type of blind makes it a good choice for the living rooms and bedrooms.

#3. Relaxed Romans: These types of blinds are mostly suited for windows below 54 inches, which gently bow down when raised by the homeowner.

#4. Balloon Romans: These are blinds are more ideal for traditional home settings.
roman blinds

Other Types of Roman Blinds, Which Users Could Look into Includes the Following,

  • Butterfly Romans
  • Pleated Roman Blinds
  • Austrian Roman Blinds
  • Faux Romans

Colors

Roman blinds are often available in a variety of colors and textures all aimed at meeting the needs of the user. So, whatever your needs maybe, it is with certainty, you will find best roman blinds that suit your home decor. Often, these colors are made to blend with the house furniture, which gives it a more refined and attractive look.

Are you Thinking of buying Roman blinds?

When you eventually make up your mind to acquire these blinds, take into consideration the following,

  • Consult a house decorator
  • Make sure you save enough money
  • Your needs and expectations should be clearly explained to the house decorator
  • You should seek referrals from friends and family members as regards to a house decorator choice
  • Research the internet on the wide variety of roman blinds available in the market

What are the Benefits of using Roman Blinds?

#1. Temperature control: These blinds unlike other blinds posses a lot of flexibility when it comes to temperature control, as they can easily be controlled to meet the room temperature needs of the homeowner.

#2. Customizable nature: They can be customized easily to meet the needs of the homeowner. As such, he or she is capable of giving the house a desired unique look whenever he or she deems it necessary.

#3. Ease of creation: These blinds can easily be created at home by anyone by simply going to the internet, researching the steps involved and then follow them to the later.

#4. Timeless appeal:  Roman blinds simply never go out of style, because they can fit any traditional or modern design. As long as the fabric is carefully chosen, they can last for a long period of time.

#5. Cost savings: These blinds are one of the most effective in terms of saving cost. This is because once installed in your home, they can last for a long period of time often requiring little or no maintenance cost at all unlike the other types of blinds, which might require constant washing and with time, eventually lose their bright appearances.
Thus, install roman blinds to get the timeless appeal.

Improving your backyard is one of the best ways to give your property a significant boost in resale value and at the same time, create your own personal oasis. While this is not necessarily an expensive project, it can definitely be a great addition to the overall appeal of your home and give it a much greater resale price. Still, it requires a lot of work, effort and maintenance and here are some tips on this topic

Lawn maintenance

Everyone wants a magnificent garden for themselves and they always seek for beautiful gardening ideas to spruce up their yards. However, the very basis for any good-looking yard is a well-maintained lawn. Unfortunately, a lot of people have no idea what exactly a well-maintained lawn entails. For starters, you need to get proper mowing gear and mow the lawn as often as necessary. This depends on the season, seeing how in summer you should do this at least three times a week, while in the autumn even once or twice per week may suffice. Aside from this, you also need to water the lawn on a regular basis and even feed it with some fertilizer if you deem necessary but keep it organic. All of this isn’t a lot of work, but it does require you to be diligent.
lawn maintenance

Construct a shed

In the introduction, we mentioned that you will have to purchase a lawn mower for your lawn, but you will also need a few more basic tools like a rake, a hoe and a hose. Still, in order to keep all of these tools in good shape, you need to have a place where you can safely store them, which is why it might be a good idea to construct a shed. Seeing how this means adding an additional structure to your property, such a project would also add to the resale value of your property. Furthermore, it should also add to the overall visual appeal of your backyard instead of simply serving its function.
garden shed

Take care of your plants

One of the most important things you need to know about the maintenance of your plants is that this process starts long before you actually start planting. The right selection of companion plants and knowing which plants don’t go together well can make your job a lot easier. For instance, while onions go with beets and carrots, they should never be planted alongside beans and peas. There are similar combinations for flowers as well, should you decide to make a flower-garden. Furthermore, by learning how to prepare a great homemade compost, you can make your garden a lot more lavish, while at the same time getting rid of most of your food leftovers.

Caring for your patio furniture

Finally, one of the most difficult issues in every yard is caring about the outdoor furniture. Sure, during the colder part of the year, it would be best to store all the fabrics and cushions inside while you can cover the rest of your outdoor furniture in order to protect it from the elements. So, say you have a beautiful bench with iron details, it needs special maintenance and a good protection from the rain and harsh sun
patio furniture

When it comes to washing the cushions, what you need is a mild soap solution which you will apply as gently as possible. Keep in mind, however, that there are some cushion types that are mildew-resistant, which can make your life significantly easier. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that they are 100 percent mildew-proof. One last thing, when it comes to the rest of your furniture, the maintenance mostly depends on the material, seeing how plastic, metal and wood all require different approaches.

As you can see, with these several simple tips, you can keep your backyard in top shape. Still, remember that there is always a price to be paid for beauty. This being said, if you want to add a pool or plant several shrubs, you will add more work to your weekly maintenance schedule. The best thing about this is the fact that most people find gardening to be quite relaxing and therefore observe it more as a hobby than an actual chore.

Having rodents in your home can be a traumatizing experience, as you lay awake at night listening to them scurrying between the walls or getting into your kitchen and contaminating your food. 

They leave droppings in your cupboards or on the floor, which can carry viruses and make humans very ill. Rodents aren’t the only pests that can ruin your summer in Toronto, especially as so many of them multiply in the warm weather. Cockroaches thrive in the heat, bed bugs are a year-round threat, carpenter and pavement ants reach their peak activity, fruit flies plague your kitchen, centipedes and millipedes abound, and, especially in the late summer, wasps and hornets become dangerously annoying. One thing to keep in mind is that DIY methods are often dangerous, and it’s much better to find professional pest removal in Toronto.

Rodents can be preventable, though. 

The Fantastic mice control specialists share with you pro tips to try if you’re worried about rats or mice creeping into your home.

wasps

Clean Regularly

Bear in mind that high hygiene at home can highly reduce the chances of any pest infestation. Pests such as rodents are attracted to your property foremost because it is a food temple. 

So, our advice is whatever methods you try, never neglect the cleanliness of your home. 

  • Make sure, crumbs, food leftovers (especially pet’s food) to be swept, carefully packed and put every meal away. 
  • Use a vacuum cleaner minimum twice per week. 
  • Wipe the worktops, kitchen tables and inside the cabinets. 

Basically, casual housekeeping sometimes might save you from the unwelcome vermins

Eliminate Food Sources 

As part of the above-mentioned tip, one of the most effective deterrents against pests of all kinds is eliminating their food source. This is impossible when you’re dealing with pests like bed bugs, which feed off of you, but putting away pet food overnight can restrict their options. 

Keep in mind that modern cat culture is far from pets being exterminators, unlike their feline predecessors. Cat food is only going to attract more rodents! 

If you live in a house and have bird feeders this most certainly will attract rodents as the grains will fall on the ground eventually. Even if this is a delightful and generous act, you have to get rid of the bird feeders or keep them as far as possible from the property. 

rat-in-home

Keep Garbage Bins Sealed 

So, you keep clean, keep the food well packed but this is not enough if your garbage is exposed and easily reachable. You know rodents love burrowing in the garbage for food. For that reason, keep all garbage bins closed, throw the containers regularly (every day, if possible). If you can put the bins outside during the night as rodents are nocturnal and will be “hunting” during this time of the day.

Eliminate Entry Points

After you ensure your home is as clean as possible, you have to block all entry points. This preventative measure is the most effective one as rodents have to have an entrance in the first place. Repair all holes, small or big cracks and seal them well.

Exclusion is an important part of Integrated Pest Management and helps reduce over-reliance on chemical methods.

Also, wide-open doors and windows can invite rodents, especially in the cold weather when they are heading to a warmer shelter. Always check your garage’s door, basement’s window and door or your conservatory’s door if closed. 

Buy Rat Traps 

Traps can be effective for eliminating rats or proving that you have them if you understand how they move around your home and you know they haven’t begun to multiply. 

Whereas mice tend to be curious about their environment, rats are cautious and avoid new things. Rat traps are effective in cases where a rodent infestation has not already arisen. 

When trying to catch one or two rats, a rat trap can ensure that the rodent has been completely eradicated from the property.

mouse

Rats usually stand close-by walls 

So, traps will be most effective if positioned around a wall and where it’s dull. For example, your closet, kitchen cabinets, behind the sofa or under your bed are the perfect locations where you can trap the rat. You may need to place unset rat traps in their path to convince them that the traps are safe before you set the real deal. 

Install Gutter Guards

Rodents are fantastic climbers. This means they can reach your roof through the gutters. Install gutter guards that will block access and keep them out. A bonus is that your gutter won’t be clogged with leaves. 

Call A Pest Control Company

Not all pest control companies are the same, and there are a few industry standards that only reputable pest control companies follow on a daily basis. 

For starters, any pest control company worth its salt will offer a free, no-obligation quote over the phone. Additionally, the best and most trustworthy pest control companies stand behind their service and generally offer a one-year warranty. Make sure to ask these questions before you decide to hire a pest control company. However, choosing a professional rodent control is the most effective way to prove your home. Experts know how the rodents act, where they possibly hide and can find the rodents’ nest. They are well equipped with high-quality traps, baits, and other approaches. The specialists are certified and are properly educated. The success of the experts is close to 100% due to the fact that they do it.

After you have decided to hire a pest control company, it’s important to note that the top companies only hire exterminators who are licensed must provide an official extermination card upon request. Make sure you ask the exterminator for identification before he begins work. 

One of the big concerns with pest control is the toxicity of the chemicals used. When a responsible pest control professional eliminates pests from residential areas, they use chemicals that are non-toxic and perfectly safe for children, pets, pregnant women and elderly people. Know who to call when you need a Toronto pest exterminator and get great, safe service.

To sum up

In conclusion, keep your eyes wide open. Always maintain a clean and disinfected properly. Regularly check for new entry points and close them as soon as possible. Pay attention to your doors, windows, and gutters. Buy rodent traps just in case but remember that professional pest control is always way more effective when dealing with the nasty vermins

These days you can spend a fortune renovating your home to make it greener and more energy efficient, however not everyone has the time or money to upgrade their home. Don’t be disheartened there is still lots that you can do to make your home more energy efficient without breaking the bank.

pink piggy bank

Creating good energy habits is the first step to making your home more energy efficient, simple steps like turning lights and electrical appliances off when you leave a room. If no one’s in there you’re wasting energy to entertain an empty room. Standby energy consumption can account for up to $120 on your annual energy bill. By simply turning everything off at the wall can save you over $100. Easy, right?

Operating your appliances efficiently is another important step. You can buy the most energy efficient appliance however if you don’t operate it efficiently and smartly it can be counterproductive. For dishwashers and washing machines ensure that you always operate these with full loads, washing your dishes and clothes in half loads is a waste of energy and water, unless the appliance you are using has a specific half load function. Operate the machines using the eco function.

dishwash machine full of dishes

Washing your clothes in cold water can save you up to $100 on your washing energy bills a year, you can increase this saving by drying your clothes using your solar dryer (the clothes line!), hang your clothes on the line or on a drying rack inside and you can almost double this saving.

Other simple steps you can take with your fridge and freezers is to ensure that the door seals are clean and free from grim, ensuring they close properly and don’t let air out. Make sure that your fridge freezer is full, empty space means that your fridge or freezer has to work harder to keep that area cool, fill up those spaces with Tupperware to help combat this issue.

Hot water accounts for a large part of your annual energy bill and while it might be tempting to stay in the shower to heat up on those cold mornings this is going to drive your hot water heating bills through the roof. Have a timer in the shower and get everyone in the house to actually stick to it.

girl taking a shower

Did you know that if you turn on the faucet when it’s in the hot position even if the water coming out the tap is not hot it’s still costing you on your energy bill? Always ensure you have the faucet on the cold position to ensure you are not drawing hot water unnecessarily.

We hope these tips will help you save energy and money on your next electricity bills!

Created by Julie Moore director of Save Energy Save Money

Our homes are our refuges. They’re providers of respite from external stress and chaos. Home is where we retreat after a long day, to sit back and watch our favorite series or cook a healthy dinner. In an age when we’re constantly plugged in, it’s crucial to have a physical space in which to breathe and mentally unwind.

Attaining peace of mind is difficult, though, when our would-be havens are actually anything but. This is also an era of accumulation, after all, where impulse buys are available at the tap of a button.

As a result, clutter has an unfortunate tendency to conquer our homes and transform our surroundings. Dwellings morph from sources of relief to causes of anxiety. It’s difficult to cook a nourishing meal when the fridge is crammed with wilting veggies. And you can’t exactly recline on the sofa when it’s covered with last week’s laundry.

Sounds familiar?

Maybe it’s a fear of letting go that’s preventing you from donating unworn items in your closet. Or perhaps you’ve accrued a morning blindness to a collection of chipped mugs in the cabinet. Either way, piles of stuff can quickly convert to clutter, preventing you from attaining total tranquility.
Not convinced that stack of tissues is standing between you and mental clarity?

Have a look at this intriguing infographic from full-service storage company MakeSpace (here’s their website). It details the hazards of over-accumulation, which range from safety threats to relationship stressors.

Australians love the great outdoors, but it’s all too easy to neglect our outdoor spaces when we think about rejuvenating the design of our home. We tell ourselves, it’s too big a job, no one sees the backyard anyway, and besides, it’s too expensive.

But an outdoor renovation can breathe new life into your home like nothing else, so we talked to Steve Jovcevski, property expert at financial comparison site Mozo.com.au, to get some top tips on refreshing your outdoor spaces – without sending you broke. Here’s what he had to say:

Assign the space a purpose

If you’re working to a budget, the first thing to do is sit down and think through what you want to achieve with your outdoor space. Will you be hosting big groups of people? Relaxing on your own? There’s no point spending a bundle on beautiful lawn furniture that you have to pack away every time family comes over because the kids want to play backyard cricket.

Choosing a centre piece for your outdoor area – say a classic BBQ – and then working out from that is a good way to create a cohesive, useful space. Decide what you want to use the space for, then make sure all your effort – and money – is going toward that purpose.

barbecue grill

Keep up with maintenance

Another easy thing that will give your outdoor areas an immediate boost is making sure you keep everything – from lawn, to garden beds, through to outdoor furniture or decks – well maintained. A nice neat lawn that’s mowed and watered regularly looks a thousand times better than one that’s been neglected, and old patio furniture can often be rejuvenated with a good scrub down and a bit of elbow grease.

Make an escape from the weather

One key way to make your outdoor space more useful and versatile is by putting up some kind of cover to keep it safe from the weather. This doesn’t have to be a full-blown pergola – a fabric sail can work just as well to keep the hot Aussie sun off and transform your backyard into an oasis.

It’s important to make sure your design elements all compliment each other and unify the space, and getting this major element right can help you with the design and tone of the rest of your outdoor entertaining area.

man mowing grass

Light up your life

When it comes to fairy lights, I find people either love them or hate them, but there’s a reason they’ve been a hot trend lately – if you often entertain at night, stringing fairy lights above an outdoor seating area is a quick, relatively cheap way to add a touch of magic to your backyard.

It’s a good idea to plan out where you’ll place the lights before you start, and as you do, keep in mind that the more lights you have, the more expensive it will be to buy and then run them. And remember – if you’re leaving them up permanently, make sure they’re not too exposed to the elements. Stringing them up under a pergola is a good way to keep lights dry.

Get creative with outdoor furniture

Outdoor furniture is one aspect of home design that I think you can really afford to get creative with. So instead of heading out to IKEA with a shopping list, think about DIY options, like repurposing old cinder blocks, tree stumps, or barrels as seating and tables.

The beauty of using these objects – aside from giving new life to what might have otherwise ended up as rubbish – is that you really get the chance to put your own style into it. It can be as rustic or luxurious, colourful or elegant, eclectic or streamlined as you want to make it.

old garden chairs

Opt for remnant stone

Hardscaping – putting in features like retaining walls, walkways and edging – can be one of the most expensive parts of sprucing up your outdoor areas. If you like the quaint, cottage-y look, one way to refresh your hardscaping while keeping a handle on your budget is to use stone leftovers that you can get cheap at building supply auctions.

This look isn’t for everyone though – so before you go ahead, make sure remnant stone will suit the overall look of the space. If the rest of your exterior design is ultra-sleek and modern, it’s going to look pretty out of place. A nice, modern alternative that might suit your look better is a green wall.

Look underfoot

The design of a great outdoor space often starts at the bottom. Choosing the right paving material can make a big difference to both the look of your space and your budget. Generally, crushed rock or gravel is a less expensive option than traditional pavers, and with the right styling, can look just as good – just don’t forget to lay weed mat first. Polished concrete is another good, low-cost and low-maintenance option that I personally favour.

If you prefer traditional pavers, think about interspersing them with grassy areas to cut back on the amount of expensive material you’ll need.

Steve is Mozo’s property investment and lending expert. With an extensive knowledge of home loan products and property trends, Steve is full of practical tips to help first homebuyers, refinancers or investors build and get the most out of their property portfolio.