Things to look out for when renting a property

If you find yourself in a position where you are looking to rent a home for the first time then you probably have lots of questions. Working out what your budget is and then managing your expectations accordingly is a sharp learning curve but these days there are regulations in place so you shouldn’t be left high and dry (unlike me).

I first moved out when I was a fresh eighteen year old and my first experience was in student halls of residence. The less said about that the better to be honest, I couldn’t wait to leave after the first year and get myself in to a private rental. As a second year Uni student I shared a flat which was owned by a friend of a friend. I can’t be sure of the exact details of the relationship there but from what I remember the property was their first experience of renting. We paid the rent on time, had no issues with the property and I would have stayed on for another year and extended the tenancy. However after the first year the landlord decided that they wanted the property back and communicated this with my friend informally but didn’t actually give any notice and so I ended up having to leave and rush in to finding elsewhere quickly which wasn’t fun.

Lesson learnt, always have a contract with a formal notice period outlined for both parties and don’t make allowances for personal relationships. I preferred dealing with agencies and having more experienced landlords from this point forwards. I found myself renting a room in a shared house for a short time after this – a landlord approved by the university which on paper sounded great but in reality – not so great. My bedroom was decorated in the sickliest shade of purple. I would have covered the cost of painting it magnolia (even though I hate beige) but I wasn’t allowed. In my contract it was also stated that I couldn’t use Blu-tax to put up posters. Second note to self – ask about redecorating. Sometimes landlords add rules to contracts based on their past experiences with bad tenants too and so you can end up with contracts and rules which are far too restrictive.

I have moved around a lot since my Student days and loved the freedom of renting, being able to have a fixed term in one place and then the freedom to be able to move if needed – and I have always been footloose and fancy free as long as I’ve known that I have my family home in Birmingham to go back to when needed. I think all in all I’ve lived in over twenty properties – some better than others so here’s my too tips of things to consider when renting.

First of all planning your budget is always important. Yes the monthly rent might be affordable but check your council tax band online and then try to figure out your utility bills too. You can ask former tenants if you manage to meet them when viewing, or ask neighbours about their suppliers and monthly bills if their properties are similar – you might be able to find they’ll give you a referral discount or offer which benefits you both.

You can also use price comparison websites to give you a quote. Think about water rates, electricity, gas, broadband and tv packages. These costs add up and you usually have to fund all of these yourself as a renter (check the details of your contract). There may also be service charges and no doubt a tv licence and your contents insurance. Landlords should always have property insurance or their own and you can ask about the details of their insurance to make sure you know what’s expected in an emergency. Compare landlord insurance here to find out more. Never be afraid to ask questions to find out who’s accountable for what – lost keys can be a very expensive cost (again talking from experience).

So when you’ve crunched the numbers (making allowances for estimates) and figured out your realistic monthly budget it’s time to go and view some properties. Having learnt from experience theres ten things I always check when viewing a rental.

  • turn on all the taps and shower to check temperature and water pressure. I’ve always found that these problems are not a priority for a landlord but are really irritating to live with. Look at how quickly the water drains too. The last thing you want is to have to take hours aside to wash your hair and unplug a drain which smells like it has never ever been cleaned.
  • Ask to turn the heating on and see how quickly the place warms up – check every radiator to make sure they work. I lived in one shared house where the thermostat was locked in a box and we couldn’t adjust the heating ourselves – never again. It was always far too hot or cold.
  • Look at the white goods – the oven, washing machine and fridge/freezer. Clarify if these are included and make sure they’re working and in good order. I moved in to one place and the previous tenant had taken everything when the landlord just assumed it was going to be left behind. I eventually negotiated a discounted rent to cover the cost of having to buy all new things myself but this was a huge financial hit.
  • Look at the boiler – there’s usually a sticker with the last service / inspection date. Same for all the fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. These are basic legal requirements for landlords to fulfil and if these aren’t in order then it raises questions about integrity for me.
  • Check every light switch works – I had one landlord who tried to hold my deposit back for a faulty light at the end of a tenancy when it had never worked. I’ve taken bulbs from other sockets in properties I’m viewing just to test them all out.
  • Same goes for plug sockets – take your phone charger and test it in every single socket when viewing or doing a walkthrough. When you’re planning your furniture layout and do all your IKEA flat pack for your home office only to discover there’s one working socket in that space to run all your electricals it’s not great fun.
  • Try all the windows. Have a good look around for signs of moisture / damp. That’s a big no-no for me. Make sure they’re all safe and don’t open too wide, but open enough to allow fresh air in and not be claustrophobic. Make sure that they can be locked – especially if you have kids.
  • Same with the doors. Open and close every interior and exterior door to make sure they all are okay and then also check locks and make sure all keys are available. Ask about their key policy at this stage. The last thing you want is a landlord walking in without notice because they have a key.
  • Take photographs and videos of everything. The condition of walls and carpet. The meter readings. The upkeep of the garden etc.
  • Check the phoneline and make sure that you can get access to the internet you need. I’d be lost without decent WiFi in every room of my house and so moving in to an area with dodgy internet would be a dealbreaker for me.

This list isn’t conclusive, I check lots of other things but hopefully these are things you haven’t come across before.

I’ve always dotted my i’s and crossed my t’s after one nightmare experience. I moved in to a studio apartment in London, above a retail premises which I thought was fabulous. It was tiny but I thought it was great value for money and was in an excellent location. All bills included. Things started to go wrong when I realised there was one electric meter for myself and my neighbour who had just moved in too. We had a power cut and the landlord didn’t seem to want to fix it in a rush so I was showering at work. Happened to speak to a random colleague about my situation who asked to come and see my studio.

It turns out that I had a rogue landlord who was on the watch list with the local council. He didn’t have planning permission to convert the apartment above the shop in to two studios and so EHO came out to basically force him to convert everything back to the way it was and I had to leave immediately. That wasn’t a fun time, I’d spent all my savings at the time on my deposit, rent in advance and then furnished it too. It was scary to find out how many different regulations he had ignored – my bedroom for example had no fire escape.

Despite all of these awful anecdotes I have had some wonderful experiences too. When things go wrong it’s always great to have a landlord you can rely on to fix things in a timely manner and not be scared to approach. I’ve had water leaks in two homes and those caused no end of trouble. My landlords on both occasions had everything covered with their insurance. I’ve called them in the middle of the night with a problem and had them send out a contractor within an hour to fix my boiler and then decide to replace the whole thing as their insurance covered it for them.

Luckily now a lot more regulations are in place compared to my student days such as deposit schemes and limits to how much rent in advance you have to pay. Ad long as you’re thorough and check that everything is in order, and you’re comfortable with signing a contract then there’s no reason for things to go quickly South, as long as a you’re a good tenant and don’t ruin walls with blu tac that is.

My favourite colour is rainbow

If you have been following us for a while you will know that when it comes to decorating the house, I am never ever going to be finished because I keep finding new colours I want to cover my walls in. I’d describe my style as eclectic (to say the least) and I love how something as simple as painting a wall makes such a dramatic change to a space.

There’s no space untouched – and this includes the garden. I’ve managed to paint six pallets in bright pink with exterior wood paint which provides a fabulous splash of colour and for good measure I also painted an old wooden fireplace bright yellow which is the perfect place to display all my funky coloured candles.

One of my favourite things to do is “colour match” with trade paint supplies. I find things around my home, or pictures which I love and then just have to have that exact shade in my home. I made sure to get the exact shade of purple paint used on the friends set for Monica’s apartment and I painted a door and the alcove under the stairs in this colour which created a funky little space with just the vibe I wanted. I still haven’t found the right flooring for the space but we’re half way there.

There’s literally no space of my home which hasn’t been given the chaos treatment but somehow it all comes together nicely – this little corner of my home is in the kitchen, with buttermilk coloured walls, a dusky pink on the wooden tongue and groove and then a sage green on one of the dining chairs – you’ll have to check out my Instagram page to see the colours of the other chairs – I used sample sized pots in four different colours, and when I get time and a sunny day I’ll be finishing those off with a coat of varnish.

In stark contrast the dark green colour I’ve used in my front room is an entirely different vibe. This room is one of those spaces which changes its use constantly, it’s been a play room and a craft room but I adopted it as a space to work from home last year and so it needed a more grown up feel. I painted one wall in this dark green colour, making a feature and also ensuring that the room still felt bright and spacious and I think it works well, especially as it’s now a place I can use some of my inherited pieces of furniture which are darker wood.

I’ve already got another two large tubs of paint for my next big project – We have moved around all the furniture upstairs, swapping spaces so that Arlo has the biggest room for all his toys as I don’t want to give up my front room and I’m going to be transforming my bright yellow bedroom in to a more tranquil and feminine space. I can’t wait to share the transformation with you.

Globalink- outdoor string lights competition

(Competition prize provided by Globalink)

I have been searching far and wide for the perfect lights for my garden. I’m loving the alfresco dining and long summer evenings which summer brings and I wanted to add a touch of magic to my outdoor space for the evenings but without making it look like I was setting up my Christmas decorations too early.

This set from Global Link (available on Amazon) is great value for money at £32.99 but you can grab 10% OFF  using the code: 2PLNE5JH  – end date: 31/12/2021.

The set arrived with my prime membership next day delivery and extremely well packaged with three spare bulbs too. I was expecting breakages as these are made from glass hence ordering a box which came with spares but the individual bulb packaging worked well – as soon as they arrived I set about hanging them up all along the garden.

The length is 11.7m which includes 3m lead to the mains powered plug and then all of the lights distributed along almost 9 metres. The low voltage output power makes them ideal for outdoor use and they’re IP65 waterproof. I’ve left my set up outdoors since the day I had them, there’s been plenty of rain typical of a British summer and they’ve remained just as fabulous as day one. The plug end itself has a little screw so you can undo the wire and thread it through to your shed/garage to plug in to the mains which is convenient.

The bulbs are a lovely size, not quite 4cm in diameter which makes them a great fit for even small spaces and they give off a glow rather than a bright light which gives off a warm ambient feel and makes the space feel really special, the bulbs don’t get too hot either which is important to me as I placed mine in and around my plants.

My favourite feature is the little clips on each bulb making it really easy to put these up around the garden and making them easily adjustable. It was quite literally a ten minute job to put them up. Being LED these will last a long time. 

To be in with a chance to win your own 11.7m set of Global Link outdoor lights (rrp £32.99) simply Click here or tap the picture below before midnight on 31st July to be in with a chance to win. I use rafflecopter to collate entries, you can enter daily to increase your chances of winning.

Terms and conditions apply – click here for more info.

Alfresco Dining in style

Summer has finally graced us with its presence and so naturally to make the most of the glorious weather it’s time to take the indoors out, and that includes the dining table and chairs for glorious dining.

Last week I hosted a ladies lunch with an array of barbecue foods including lamb skewers, corn on the cob, Padron peppers served with a fresh salad, and set up the table outdoors and added some little details to make it really special. A fresh bottle of my home made tomato ketchup was served alongside the meal. I used fresh flowers in a jam jar as a centre piece and then bought out my gold pineapple salt and pepper shakers, the napkin holder carboot find with lemon patterned napkins, my cutlery in an old tin and a jug of ice cold cordial with my fruit infused ice cubes.

Setting up an outdoor space is fairly simple, I have a drop leaf table on wheels which we pull outdoors and then drape with a tablecloth of choice and use little weights to stop it blowing away – I love colour so the brighter the better. My brand new dining chairs from Lakeland Furniture work really well with the retro look I was going for and created a welcoming and comfortable environment for my VIP guest (mom).

These chairs are available in all manner of colours and not being able to decide, I chose to order a set of four in clashing colours – red, yellow, orange and a slate colour. This replica style with its seventies vibe suits my eclectic taste but also seems to match a more modern aesthetic too. I’ve gone for plastic seats as they’re hard wearing and wipeable, which I need in my busy family home. The wooden beech coloured legs and black metal framing just adds to the vibe.

With my colourful chairs and my tablecloth it didn’t take much more to make the setting look and feel fabulous once we added the food, served in a selection of bowls which have been collected from all over the place and so once we had carried everything outdoors we could sit and enjoyed our meal outdoors in the sunshine for hours. When the sun was highest in the sky the chairs remained comfortable, the bucket seat style of the chairs is spacious and well rounded, so we simply topped up our drinks, sat back and enjoyed the delights of summer.

The chairs themselves arrived in two parts, the legs and seat packaged separately to protect them in transit and it’s a case of attaching them using four screws and an Allen key which takes five minutes to complete. They are lightweight and so easy to set up, move around and place where you need them, indoors or out. Be prepared to spot this colourful set in my pictures all summer long as I’m planning all sorts of celebrations in the sunshine

(Products in the blog provided for the purpose of review)

Yours is the Earth – making changes to reduce waste

Arlo is absolutely obsessed with all things relating to the natural world. He could name a dozen animals before he could recognise colours and he continually surprises us now with amazing nature facts. Just yesterday on our way to the Safari Park he told me that ants were one of the strongest animals – I had to use google to fact check and he was right. Leaf cutter ants can carry up to fifty times their own body weight and so they are indeed one of the strongest animals in the world.

It’s little surprise therefore that Arlo is showing an interest in the environment at such a young age. His nursery already covers topics such as recycling, and cutting down plastic waste to save the worlds oceans. He is very conscious about such matters and when we are out and about he often notices “trash” and tells me all about how naughty it is to see discarded coffee cups, he is very careful about using the right bins and we love that so many tourist attractions now offer recycling and waste bins to patrons. Every time he points something out like this it makes me second guess my own actions. I’m a creature of habit but making an effort to change.

I know that we can’t change all that’s wrong in the world as individuals, but with Arlo’s lead I’ve started paying attention to the little things we can do to reduce the amount of waste we generate which in turn goes to having a small impact on the environment around us. One of the first switches we made was to re-useable water bottles. We are always out and about, and switching to a water bottle which we top up from home has stopped us from buying countless drinks, it also saves us money and my top tip to parents is to freeze a half full bottle on its side overnight, top up with fresh water and you’ll have a lovely cool drink to quench your thirst.

We now have a recycling bin and a normal waste bin which are collected weekly and I like to try and challenge myself to make sure that there’s as little as possible in the household waste bin. Of course we already keep all of our cardboard and all sorts of bits and bobs to use in our craft projects, even making up toys for our parrot. I was however dismayed to notice just how much rubbish is generated from the packaging of products which we buy.

Sam loved his home made egg box foraging toy which we filled with nuts and treats for him to find.

We have made lots of changes to the way we buy food this last year, choosing loose fruit and veg which isn’t packed in plastic and also visiting a local zero waste initiative to buy dry foods such as pasta and use our own reusable containers to bring it home. It’s great to see brands committing to helping consumers by eliminating plastic waste from production and manufacturing which in turn has a greater impact on the world.

Brands such as Nereus are taking on the challenge and partnering with a fabulous organisation called Plastic Bank – a Canadian organisation who are experts in their field. They have officially prevented 1 billion bottles of ocean plastic, by concentrating on Recycling and coming up with innovative and enterprising solutions to repurpose plastic which in turn has a direct impact on the communities in which they work. Plastic Bank’s Social Plastic® ecosystems result in improved access to employment, education, services, and technology for developing communities across the globe.

Once we cut down our waste at home drastically through our food packaging, it was also apparent just how many other ways we could make changes. We have switched to using more environmentally focused brands. It’s a big part of our decision making when it comes to being consumers, our washing tablets now come as a monthly subscription in cardboard packaging and some of our cleaning products now have reusable bottles which are topped up with sachets rather than utilising the dreaded single use plastic. I find myself browsing the environmental policies of all brands I’m interested in.

I even turned our attention to our toothbrushes last year and we made a switch to bamboo brushes which eliminates needless waste as they have to be discarded every three months. These are such small changes but goodness knows how many plastic toothbrushes are in landfill right now. I’ve gone through at least a hundred in my lifetime, but we all have to start somewhere.

Next time you’re putting the bins out take a look and see if there’s anything you could change, not just for yourself but for those who will inherit the world we leave behind.

The kitchen in the house that chaos built

The kitchen has taken me a long time to get right. What I thought I wanted was in fact totally wrong for this space and the available light. Nine months after I first began testing paint samples on the wall I finally have a space I’m happy with. I couldn’t begin to tell you how many swatches I tried but for trade paint supplies there’s a huge variety available and a fab colour matching service too.

When the big flooring project was taking place last autumn I have to admit that even though I had a visualisation, I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to a finished stage and I couldn’t even bear to unbox my crockery collections and think about adding finishing touches. I’ve always loved retro chequerboard floors and so I wasn’t willing to compromise on this at all. When I found my tiles on sale for £4 a pack I bought them and all the materials turning my kitchen in to a building site for a couple of weeks

There was nothing wrong with the kitchen I had in the first place, I always think these rooms should be functional more than stylish but at the same time the kitchen is the hub of our home and especially this last year I have spent so much time at home baking to while away the hours and now I’m looking forward to hosting friends and family with my new found culinary skills. I started off last year thinking that I wanted to have the exact same kitchen as Monica from Friends. A warm and friendly space full of all sorts of random things.

I painted the cupboards blue with a matching cream accent and I loved it over the summer – but during winter this colour just made the space feel smaller. The blue paint seemed to absorb all of the colour. You can see I already began testing out samples on the little drawers as I hadn’t made my mind up. I did however love that the sage green matched my collection of Beryl Ware. Another dream was to have a wooden worktop but as I’m on a shoe string budget I opted for DC fix before committing to such a big change and I’m so pleased with the effect of the vinyl that I am currently saving up to replace the entire kitchen and get real wood to complete the look.

I finally settled on sage green for the cupboards and then used these adhesive stickers to give my kitchen tiles a makeover. I’ve done a complete U turn from my original plan but this works in the space. The food I cook most often has inspired this more Mediterranean vibe, and all of the bits I started unpacking just seem to match – my copper saucepans which I bought from a flea market and my collection of Le Creuset I’ve been hoarding for years. It’s been a light and airy space all through winter and now that the spring sunshine has begun to stream through it is such a bright space to be in.

The final piece of furniture to complete the kitchen was found in a skip of all places. A perfectly sized drop leaf table with barley twist legs. I’ve sanded down the top leaving the exposed natural wood and painted the legs to compliment the kitchen cupboards. The opposite end of my kitchen is “my happy place” – I’ve used all the different sample pots of colours on my chairs because I couldn’t make my mind up and some how it just works.

Like most kitchens in family homes – finishing touches are fresh flowers and children’s art work. It’s not perfect but it’s my new favourite place in the house that chaos built.

How to optimise your Home Storage

More people are renting storage containers now than ever before.  There’s a problem with letting go of things or downsize in living to find something affordable that has many people aching for more room.  Instead of building a shed on your property, or looking at St. Albert real estate, here are the top ways to optimize your home storage.

Take Care of Clutter

It would help if you always took when handling clutter to go through it and see what you need to keep and get rid of.  You can do this room by room or based on what areas are the most cluttered.  Go through each item, decide if it’s something you need to use within the next year or if it’s something that means a lot to you.  If neither is true, then the next decision is to donate, sell, or throw away the items you don’t want.

Be firm with yourself, and don’t keep things on the off chance that you might use them ten years from now, or just because it was a gift from someone despite you not liking it.  Instead, be honest and think about if you’d rather have it or the lack of clutter.

Organize Room By Room

Although it may be tempting to try and shove everything you don’t need into one storage area, this is a mistake that can leave you with more things than you need.  Instead, organize room by room and keep things stored in areas where they’d be of use.

For example, if you have a ton of extra blankets, instead of shoving them into a space in your home office, use a vacuum sealer to take excess air and store them in each bedroom.

This ensures that you always know where everything is, and also that once you fill that space, you’ll know you can’t buy more for it.  You can also use this method to be able to take organizing slowly and pace it out.

Consider Vertical Storage

Your storage doesn’t have to be closeted, under beds, or in your attic: eventually, you’ll run out of space, and you’ll also lose track of where you’ve put your belongings.  Instead of losing things, organize so that you can spot something when you need them.

If you need to store things for a craft room, consider setting up a pegboard and hanging your belongings so that you can spot them as you need them.  This plan can also work in spaces like your garage!  Hanging up bicycles and tools, setting items in places where you can reach them, and planning it out can even be aesthetically pleasing.  Although it’s no high-art, you can design your storage to look like the decor.

Every home is different, and you should consider what setup is best for your living situation.  If you find that you’re entirely out of space, it might be that you’ve outgrown your current home!  It’s not cheap to buy a new house, but it’s a sign you should start saving up for one.

Home is where the heart (and office) is.

The last twelve months has been a time of upheavals for everyone.

We’ve all had time to reassess our priorities and for many of us it’s not likely that we’ll be going “back to normal” once lockdown finally ends. Working from home made me really value my living space and I decided back last spring when I realised that the lockdown wasn’t going to last just a few weeks that I was going to renovate my entire home. Hence the “house that chaos built” project commenced in to being.

Pre lockdown I didn’t spend too much time at home at all. I was out working full time Monday to Friday, driving up and down the country commuting for business meant that I wouldn’t even be at home for breakfast and to see the sun come. I would end up socialising with friends in restaurants when I had time, and then the weekends were always dedicated to having adventures with Arlo.

Suddenly I began to reassess our space and decide to make some changes. One of the first things I did was to swap all of the bedrooms around. As fun as it seemed to be able to work from my sofa, it didn’t help with productivity and I found it hard to switch off in the evenings. Then I also made sure to turn my living spaces in to relaxing environments for both myself and Arlo to enjoy.

I wanted to make sure that as I was working from home that I allocated the space accordingly and so I turned the spare bedroom in to a home office for myself. This was important, I needed to have a specific space so that work didn’t encroach on my home life. A place for the laptop to remain and a space which I could shut the door on and forget about to enjoy some down time in the evenings.

For many the lines became blurred and the work life balance was out of kilter, people balancing childcare were squeezing in emails between meals and the bedtime routine and I felt permanently attached to my tech. I found myself checking work emails in bed and flicking through sales reports instead of watching a movie. When I realised that many companies were doing away with their offices permanently I knew I was doing the right thing by allocating a home office room. If anything, I needed to have a better background for when I used zoom.

I also wanted to change my kitchen and reception rooms – reconsidering my living space entirely. I was so used to a lifestyle full of social gatherings which revolved around meeting friends for meals in restaurants that transitioning to being at home all of the time was a major change. I decided to make the most of lockdown and plunged myself in to learning new recipes and spent a lot more time in the kitchen than what I was used to, and so of course this space ended up having a makeover as a priority. I found my love for DIY during lockdown and there’s not a single space in my home which hasn’t been changed in one way or another.

I was lucky enough to have the space I needed and so I’ve been choosing new paint colours and repurposing furniture. Some friends have used the last year to make some enormous changes to their homes. Adding an extra room through a loft or garage conversion has been the approach taken for some to increase the living space. For this type of major change theres obviously huge costs involved and so it’s useful to be able to use a remortgage calculator to help look at the figures and work out affordability to make these projects spring in to life.

Now we know that working from home isn’t going to disappear I’m glad I made changes to my home, and feel lucky enough to have had a spare bedroom. My home is a place I’m happy to spend most of my time in. I’m looking forward to entertaining friends from home and of summer evenings with barbecues and watching my son play in the garden as the sun sets. In fact the joy I have experienced from renovations has inspired and motivated me to look at a career changes for myself.

For many friends the need to have separate working/living environments and a more comfortable living space has been the driving force for a decision to relocate.

For so long the decisions about home location have been based upon the commute and distance to transport links. Now that working from home is a viable solution for the majority of the working week, friends have been able to look for larger family homes – happy with being further away from the office, commuting only for a couple of days a week in exchange for an extra bedroom, a larger garden and a larger space for dining and entertaining away from the main commuter belt suburbs. Being able to work from home has provided many people the opportunity to find larger family homes outside of the often over priced popular commuter areas.

To buy or not to buy is the main question.

With so much uncertainty the property market has been interesting and making huge decisions about relocating when the job market is also unstable has been a real challenge. Renting for many seems like a simpler option with less commitment when there’s so much upheaval. There’s so many things to factor in to choosing a home.

“When the chancellor announced the changes to stamp duty thresholds it spurred many people in to making life changing decisions.

Assessing affordability is the main concern for anyone planning to relocate and it’s difficult to know where to begin when it comes to making such important decisions especially now when you have to factor in unanticipated personal circumstances, especially if you’re a first time buyer and used to paying rent.

Home is most certainly where the heart is, but it’s also where the office is and where pretty much everything else is for the foreseeable future so it’s now more than ever important to make the right choices and It’s great to have a wealth of information accessible via online resources to help make important decisions.

The house that chaos built

This blog post contains sponsored links

If you follow my social media channels you may have noticed that I have been slowly renovating the house from top to bottom. There’s something happening in every room and I constantly change my mind when it comes to colours and so there’s always something new going on. I’m going to start writing about my home because I get asked a lot of questions about the various projects going on. I try and keep my inspirations organised with a multitude of Pinterest boards so you can check that out to see how my eclectic tastes evolve.

Right now my main challenge is getting the things I imagine working in my home organised on a very tight budget. I’m a huge fan of a bargain – from charity shop purchases and Facebook market place – not to mention skip diving….. yes I have jumped in a skip to rescue things more than once – including my fireplace mirror. Not only do I feel great about the money I’m saving but the phrase “one mans trash is another mans treasure” is most certainly true. Rescuing unloved items from ending up in landfill and making them in to something beautiful is my new favourite pastime. This mirror just needed a little bit of glue to stick it back together.

This has become even more of a challenge and passion to me now that lockdown has meant that we can’t go out for “non essentials” – I’ve never spent so much time at home. At first I felt frustrated and trapped inside four walls, but making improvements not only keeps me busy but also makes the space a lot more enjoyable to inhabit, and this is so important for my mental health. I already have a few huge renovation projects in mind for the spring – as soon as the warm weather comes along I can begin to paint outdoors, and when the flowers start to bloom that’s when I get my colour inspiration. My mirror originally had a lick of bright pink paint which delighted me, and you can still see this through the gold leaf in place now which was leftover from a Christmas craft and just had to be used up.

The latest space to get my teeth in to is the front room – it’s a lovely sized room and has always been a blank space, used as a craft/play room full of primary colours but now Arlo is getting older we have outgrown some of the more garish and space stealing toys – I want to make this room a cosy little snug. This is the room I’m going to retreat to when he has his friends come and visit now he’s about to start school – I can already imagine teenage boys taking over the main lounge with smelly feet and computer games so this space is going to be my grown up room.

We have also had quite a few bigger and more projects take place recently around the house Some of the windows and doors have been replaced for practical reasons. I’d love to have had traditional sash windows just like these but we had to stay in-keeping with the style of our home. Having double glazed windows throughout is important to me, as they help keep the heat in, which first of all reduces the energy bills which is a great long term investment and in turn also reduces your carbon footprint. We’ve had them all replaced over the last few years and I’m very pleased with our current energy bills. Check out the govt advice here

In the morning the light streams through the windows in my front room and it’s a sun trap. The cats have already claimed their spots on the sofa and slowly though out the day they relocate to make sure they remain in the patches of sun. During the evening I can close the curtains and listen to the radio whilst curling up with a book in this cosy corner.

We also recently had our doors upgraded. A glass panel at the front had been damaged and required replacing, and our back door was beyond repair too. A new entrance door to your home can really transform the look of your house, the new panel of glass beside my front door brings in natural light to the hallway which is another space on my list to begin decorating…. beginning with a bright purple wall under the stairs. These doors are also durable, energy efficient and virtually maintenance free – this makes me feel safe and secure in the evenings so that I can relax in peace and come up with more project ideas.

Right now I feel as though I’m going to move the grandfather clock in to my front room and change this under the stairs space entirely. Follow my home page on Instagram to see how things evolve. As always if you have any questions please get in touch,

Lavania