Friday, November 16, 2018

Holiday Tablescape with Brian Gluckstein by Lenox

It still felt like yesterday when I was contemplating on the style of my holiday table setting last year. And just like that, Halloween was already over and we are now in 2018 holiday homestretch. If you've been following my blog for a while, you'd know winter holidays and Christmas are my favourite to decorate, and I often started early just so I had extra time to enjoy and appreciate the fruits of my labour. 

Below is my 2018 holiday design board. The jumping off point was this Winston durable bone china place setting from Brian Gluckstein by Lenox. If you think "hygge" was only a phase of my design journey then you would be wrong. My pursuit for "hyppe" is growing ever stronger, so my holiday decorating is all about simplicity, warmth and nature. Wood beads, amber glass, greenery, linen, Kraft wrapping paper, and black and white dinnerware all contribute to this organic yet sophisticated look. 

So this was my Thanksgiving table setting based on the Brian Gluckstein by Lenox Winston dinnerware. I love the simplistic, clean and a touch of masculine design patterns and the basic black, white and platinum colour combination. And the fact that it's made of durable bone china but dishwasher-safe is just icing on the cake. This table setting is so versatile that once I replace fall branches with Christmas greenery, it will be all set for hosting festive feasts. 

Bonus for you is that you also get a sneak peek of my newly designed dining room. Be sure to come back in a few weeks to check out my 2018 Christmas decor - my plans are ambitious this year. 

Disclaimer: All the Brian Gluckstein by Lenox Winston dinnerware sets were generously gifted to me but all the opinions are my own. 

How To Depersonalize A Home

~ This is a featured post. ~

Although when we live in a home, it’s great to have our own personality stamped across it, there will be times when that is not appropriate anymore. When we move out, for example, whether the property is a rental or a home that we own, it is a good idea to depersonalize the space. Doing so will make it easier for the next people who live there to enjoy it, and it will mean that it is not left empty for long, and nor will it take a long time to sell.

The idea is to make the property as tempting to the next people as possible, as this keeps everyone happy and ensures the smooth transition from one home to the next. Therefore, here are some ways to depersonalize your home when you need to.

Don’t Get Emotional
No matter whether you loved or hated the home you are moving from, there will always be some emotions associated with leaving it. You will come across things as you are packing that you had forgotten about, but that stir up specific memories, some good, some bad. Or you will start to worry about whether you are doing the right thing, which will also make you feel emotional. Add to that how tired people can be when they are in the midst of moving house or renovating, and it all means that you can let your emotions get the better of you.

If it means stepping out of the property for a short walk around the block, or a longer break away then that is important to do. If it means drafting in help so that you can have someone to talk you through the difficult times, do that too. Do whatever is necessary to get the job done because it will need to be completed.

It is essential that, when depersonalizing a home either as a tenant, landlord, or owner, you ensure it has a deep down clean at the same time. For the new people moving in, having a clean home will help them to adjust more easily, and it means that they have one less job to do which, if they have just come from cleaning their last property, they really will be glad of.

The clean should certainly be a deep one. Move all the furniture so that you can get beneath it, and really scrub the floors. Hire a carpet cleaner to make sure that all the muck and grime is gone from the carpet too. If you are short on time, it might be worth hiring a professional cleaner to get the job done for you. They will be quicker and do a thorough, expert job, and it can save you a lot of time and effort too. If you rent a property, this cleaning might even be part of your free lease agreement, so it is a good idea to check this out.

If you are getting your home ready to sell, decluttering is even more important than if you are leaving a rented property, but in both cases, it is a job that needs to be done. By decluttering, you can remove as many personal items as possible. This is an excellent idea for when prospective buyers come to your home as they will more easily be able to imagine their own belongings in there, and won’t be distracted by photos of your family, or interesting ornaments and so on. They can focus on the house itself, which will enable them to get a much better sense of whether they want to live there or not.

You should declutter areas that can’t be seen at first glance as well as the rooms themselves. You may think that closets and cupboards can be left as they are, but any serious prospective buyer is sure to want to look inside so you need to ensure that they can see how much space they would be getting – and you need to ensure that nothing is going to topple out onto them as well!

When you know you are going to be leaving a property, whether you are moving to a new rental or selling the property you own, it is a good idea to start the decluttering process. You need to move the items anyway, so why not start packing up the non-essentials as early as you can? You will probably find that some of it can be thrown in the trash, and more can be donated to Goodwill, which means you will have less to take with you when you do finally move.

When you live in a property you can, within reason, paint the walls whatever color you want. You may need to check your lease or ask your landlord, but generally, it is your choice since you are living there. However, when you move out, it is a good idea to put everything back how it was when you moved in, and neutralize the walls. This is a relatively quick and easy way to depersonalize a property so that, again, people can envisage their own colors on the wall or their own furniture in a room.

Neutral colors include various forms of cream or beige, for example. Or you might pick a white tone with a slight hint of pink or blue which is just enough to be interesting but not enough to put people off.

The important thing to take into account is that the job needs to be done to a high standard because poorly painted walls are almost as bad as walls that are brightly colored and haven’t been neutralized at all. If you are cutting corners, then you are making more work for the landlord or the new owners, and that means the process will be a lot slower. If need be, hire a home decorator of ask for help from friends and family, and the job will be done to a good standard all round

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A Magazine Feature and 2018 Christmas Design

Christmas is my favourite holiday to celebrate and decorate. It took me a whole second to say Yes when the chief editor at the Victorian Homes Magazine approached me to do a feature of my Christmas decor. The Winter 2018 issue came out around October 9. 

To re-cap, this was my 2017 Christmas tree, my favourite to-date. 

Below is my 2018 Christmas design board, which is still largely based on the "hygge", simplicity and back to basics theme. What do you think? 

How to Get Your Home Ready for Winter

~ This is featured post. ~

As winter is fast approaching, it’s up to every homeowner to organize their home ready for the colder months. This might mean getting someone to service the heating system, dealing with last-minute gardening or just putting things away neatly. When these items are taken care of, getting through winter becomes much easier. However, if you don’t get these jobs tended to, you’re looking at an expensive repair or quick fix until the spring comes around and it’s easier to resolve.

Here are a few tips for how to get your home winterized.

Furnace Repairs
The furnace keeps you warm in winter, but it might have barely been used in the last few months if you live in an area that has milder weather. It’s a good idea to get your furnace checked out each year before using it for a sustained period. When a furnace has a problem, it could completely shut-down at the worst possible time. A dangerous burner leak or carbon monoxide leak at a low level inside your home might provide deadly. Getting your furnace checked using this service provides peace of mind.

Usually, a technician will check the air filters, verify that the thermostat is making the correct readings and perform a check on the gas and carbon monoxide to ensure there’s no accidental leakage. Piping that runs to the furnace might get looked at as well, along with the fan and motor, which are integral to its operation too.

It’s well worth making the investment to maintain your furnace, not just for safety but also due to the cost of replacing one should it go wrong. Just like any appliance, a little TLC goes a long way to helping it enjoy a longer life and reduces the total ownership cost of the operational period too.

Be a Tree Inspector
Look around your property to see whether there are trees with branches overhanging. The branches might run over your driveway, the roof or be near the windows on the uppermost floor. Bear in mind that during winter, rain on the branches can accumulate, freeze, and turn to ice. This can add enough weight to the branch to cause it to dip or fall down completely. That branch that hangs near a house window with the aid of water, freezing temperatures and wind turns into the one that might come right through the window!
Set about trimming back the branches that are dangerously close to the property. Use a cautious outlook about how much they could move during a storm. If you’re planning to do the work yourself, use a ladder safely as many accidents lead to people falling off them. If you’re not so sure about the task, get a tree surgeon to trim them back. If it’s only one branch, it won’t cost the earth if they’re a local or operating within the state.

Window Treatments
Check all the windows to see whether there are heat loss problems with gaps in the moldings or trim around the window. Perhaps the window sill is cracked and it’s a direct line in through the wall? Move your hand around the edge to check for any breeze. If you find any, using a weatherproofing strip to seal it.

You can also use a plastic sheeting to seal off each window, one at a time. This will prevent the window from being opened during the winter. Ensure they are all closed and their locking mechanisms fully in place first. Usually, the plastic see-through window sheets have adhesive to go around the edges of the window and fixes in place using a hairdryer to create a strong seal. This creates a secure vacuum that helps to keep the warm air inside and the cold air outside.

Gutter Cleanup
The gutters can cause a major issue in most homes when water starts freezing on the ground. Gutters tend to get blocked up with fallen leaves, twigs, and other debris until rainwater runoff cannot flow along the planned path to the drainage point. This causes water to overflow the gutters with random gushes of water or free-flowing streams when it’s raining.

The water on the ground can quickly freeze if it becomes still for too long because there’s no planned drainage in the spot where it’s hitting the ground. The area will turn into a sheet of ice that’s incredibly dangerous to walk on. This can happen at the front, back or side of the home and cause problems getting in and out of the property.
Make a point of cleaning all the gutters out. Check whether the water can flow freely and that it’s following the right path and disappearing down the drain. Look for collected puddles of waters and push them into the drainage system.

Wrapping Heat Pipes
Considerable heat is lost from pipes that are bare. When they’re wrapped up using foam designed expressly for pipes and secured with duct tape, it will avoid heat being lost along the heating system. When the pipes manage the heat well, the thermostat can be dropped a few degrees to balance out the average temperature when it reaches the hot water tap or shower unit. This will save you money every winter time. Buying the right foam from a DIY store and fitting it yourself is a weekend job only.

It’s not that difficult to prepare your home for winter. There’s still plenty of things to do though. For instance, if you have a deck, then this must be prepared for winter in a special way depending on the type of decking materials that it’s made from. Gardens can certainly do with some general tidying up, putting away gardening tools that might get hidden beneath snow and only being re-discovered when stepping on them. The whole property is certainly worthy of a once over to see what you can spot that’s been affected by the passage of time. You can then determine what issues need resolving now vs items for next year’s to-do list.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Getting Your Roof Ready For Winter

~ This is a featured post. ~

With the crazy windstorms we've been getting in recent years, this post comes very timely for those concerned. 

With winter now just around the corner, it is important for every homeowner to think about their house and whether or not it is ready for the difficult conditions that this time of the year brings. The freezing cold, rain, harsh winds and potential snow and ice can cause all kinds of problems which can be tricky to fix and leave you in a difficult situation. There are a few areas that you will need to think about, but first, you must consider the roof as this is one area of your property which is constantly exposed to the elements. You certainly do not want any issues arising with this protective area. Below are three steps to make your roof ready for the upcoming season.

First, it is a wise idea to get up on the roof for a thorough inspection before the difficult conditions arrive. Look out for any missing or damaged shingles or if there is an exaggerated sag in the ridgeline. You can also caulk around areas like chimney stacks to keep it waterproof. If there any issues, you will certainly want to get these repaired before winter arrives as rain or snow could lead to a leaking roof which you certainly don’t want to have to deal with during the harsh winter months. Replacing shingles can be a straightforward task, but it is best for peace of mind to use a professional.

While you have the ladder out, it is also worth taking a look in your gutter as often leaves and other debris can create blockages. Removing this will ensure that rain can drain quickly and off the roof. Once you have cleaned out the gutter, use the garden hose to make sure that water flows through quickly. Additionally, make sure that the downpipes extensions are directed away from the foundation to stop any water damage from occurring. If you get a significant amount of debris in your gutter, look to trim back any nearby trees. In addition to keeping gutters clear, this can also stop damage to shingles if the branches are rubbing against them when it is windy.

Attic Insulation
You will also need to take a look at your attic insulation to make sure that it is evenly distributed and not blocking any roof vents, but you must be wary of asbestos when checking the insulation. This insulation will keep the warm air in and stop the cold air from getting in so that you can stay comfy and warm throughout the winter. While you are in the attic, keep your eyes peeled for leaks or stains which would indicate the roof is leaking.

Winter is fast approaching, and this can be a tricky time as a homeowner. There are a few preparations that you will need to make, but the first order of business should be ensuring that your roof is ready for the difficult conditions. Having a solid, prepared roof over your head will stop any damage from occurring which could lead to leaks as well as make sure that you stay warm and comfortable throughout the winter months.
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