Read my UK lifestyle and money blog

matched betting box

 RSS Feed

Category: Home & Garden

  1. I’m bored of wasting time and money at home

    Posted on

    I really am.  Ben and I purchased our first home together four and a half years ago with rose tinted glasses.  When viewing the house we thought a lick of paint and our own décor was all it might need.  How wrong we were.  Upon viewing it for the second time when the old owners had already moved out we realised the extent of the project we had undertaken.  Everything needed replacing from floors to walls, to ceiling, the bathroom, kitchen, some windows.  Yikes!   We are still parting with our hard earned cash every month doing up or fixing bits in the house.

    Now we have lived here for several years we’re also going back to the beginning if that makes sense.  We are starting to need to replace things we installed at the start.  For example the bathroom vinyl flooring we installed needs replacing already.  Some of the doors no longer close into the frames (note:  never buy the cheapest wooden doors!)

    We haven’t even finished our original list of things to do to our home, and we’re already having to start replacing the things we did do.

    Homes take a lot of time and, crucially, money in order to turn them into what they are. If only it was true that, once we got them to where we want them to be, they stayed that way. That, sadly, isn’t the case and every now and then we need to spend even more time and money revamping what we have already spent time and money on.

    It’s annoying, isn’t it?

    Very much so, and I can guarantee that I am not alone in pulling my hair out every time something needs doing around the house. As Bill Gates is quoted as saying:

    “I choose a lazy person to do a hard job, because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”

    If it’s good enough for Bill, then it’s certainly good enough for me. That means finding the easiest means possible to look after my home.

    The garden

    BenApril15 (62)

     

    Removing and filling in borders with grass seed when we moved in

    Easily the neediest part of the home, the garden constantly needs TLC in order to keep it in top form. Weeds that grow in between paving slabs, flowers that need constant nutrition and grass that simply won’t stop growing (or in our experience it sometimes just won’t even grow in some patches at all). The time we spend looking after our gardens really could be better spent elsewhere.

    So what is one to do? Well, in order to strike the best balance between having a pretty yet easily maintainable you have to come to something of a compromise. Flowers will always need looking after if you want them to remain elegant, however, there is a solution to the ever growing grass and weeds.

    Artificial grass may have started life looking somewhat cheap and tacky, but now it has developed into a genuine alternative to the real thing. That means absolutely no cutting and investing in lawn mowers.  Just install it, clean it every now and then and you’re done.  Now I just need to convince Ben.  I came up with three ways to save money in the garden, including a fake lawn, in my recent blog post here: 3 ways to save money and future proof your garden

    Whilst I haven’t managed to convince Ben to change the real grass just yet, we are trying our best to make our garden simpler and easy to maintain.  Unfortunately we do still need to spend time and money out there to lay decking and a patio, but I hope once these are in place along with some high raised flower beds/vegetable patches then it should all be very simple to look after.

    We took out huge borders that were the length of our 90 foot garden.  Though many would disagree with this, we simply don’t have the time or passion to maintain them.  They would just end up a weed bed!  This will save us time in the long run and now we just have grass up to the fences and more of a grassy area for the children to play on.

    The bathroom

    IMG_7532

     

    Our new lino floor looked great at first, but now it is worn and tired

    We really need a permanent solution for the floor in here.  We laid lino which was an easy and cheap solution, but it’s needed replacing for ages.  It’s not hardwearing enough in the one bathroom we share between four.  There’s a lot of use in that bathroom and I think we’d be wise to invest in tiles or hard floor to save ourselves money and time in the long run.

    For the shower we added a glass bath screen instead of a shower curtain.  I hate how shower curtains become mouldy over time and need replacing, so a glass screen will last us much longer and it also looks great too.

    For the walls that aren’t tiled we use bathroom paint which is a must in a bathroom.  It’s mildew and mould resistant meaning it lasts longer in damp areas.

    We saved money by Ben using left over kitchen worktop to create a shelf for a new countertop sink and he built a cupboard underneath.  DIY has certainly saved us a lot of money, but it has cost us a lot of time.

    Click here for how to improve your bathroom on a budget.

    Living room

    IMG_9818

    Laying our new floor.  We find hard floor much easier to maintain and clean.

    The living room is where you spend most of your time at home (other than sleeping in the bedroom) and, of course, becomes very messy very easily. Carpet stains, muddy footprints and general clutter are all pains in the-you-know-where that can be easily avoided if you are canny enough.

    I’ve written before of the many benefits of hard flooring and for us it’s the easiest floor solution in our living room.  We have a living-diner so half the room is for eating and with young children it can get particularly messy!  It’s much easier to mop up spills and pick up dropped food from a hard floor instead of constantly scrubbing a carpet.  Not having to constantly clean a carpet or think of replacing it, means we save money and our hard flooring should last for years to come.  It took us a few days to lay hard floor throughout our home and it did cost a small penny, but it was a worthwhile investment.  Hopefully it’s something that we won’t need to think about or replace for a very long time.

    We do have a large rug in our living room, but I try to have a strict no shoes policy on the rug, though the children sometimes forget, but this stops dirt and mud from getting on it whatsoever.  A large rug is also a much cheaper alternative to having actual carpet fitted and it’s easier to replace.

    As for clutter, that’s simple – anything that you don’t need or use, get rid of it. Be frugal with your possessions and don’t hold on to anything for too long. When you can bring yourself to do away with items that you no longer have a use for, you will soon reap the benefits of a clutter-free household.  I save time by cleaning as there is less to clean in our minimal living space.

    Read my blog posts here for how to achieve a minimalist look in your living room.

    Bedroom

    To save money and time in the bedroom we have limited furniture; a bed, a built-in wardrobe that my husband built, a set of drawers, a TV, a bedside table each and a lamp.  Oh, and two house plants.

    I know, I know, I have a TV in the bedroom.  The bedroom should be reserved only for sleep and relaxation, in theory. Televisions should have no place in the bedroom as they can hamper your quality of sleep, leaving you feeling tired in the morning and taking longer to feel awake.  Though I do agree with many points in this article, I also love snuggling up and watching a box series in the winter!  In the summer I’m all for watching TV in the living room, but it’s a luxury in the winter to snuggle in bed for TV when it’s so cold and dark outdoors.  If you can avoid it though, keep them out of the bedroom to see if your sleep improves.  It will also save money as that’s one less TV to buy.

    Anyway, having limited furniture in the bedroom means we can save time with less things to clean.  We also share a tripe sized wardrobe between us, which is limited compared to most people I know who have larger wardrobes just for themselves.  I have a capsule wardrobe of just 50 items for myself of regular clothes which saves time each day choosing what to wear.  It’s also easy to put clothes away as we have one set of drawers for underwear and gym wear, then one wardrobe for the rest.  Putting away laundry is quick and easy.

    Have a sneak peek at my bedroom here.

    The kitchen

    Benmay16 (263)

     

    Keeping the original cupbaords saved us money in the kicthen and they're high gloss, so quick to clean!

    We have a small kitchen so we have to be minimal in here.  We only have what we need and do a food shop each week.  This means we can keep on top of the groceries and out-of-date food, for example.  We rarely have OOD food as we buy what we need each week and use up what needs using first each day.

    We added hard floor to the kitchen that can be easily cleaned.  To save money we kept the kitchen cupboards when we replaced the kitchen as they were just fine.  They are high gloss and so easy to wipe spills and stains off, or mucky kids fingerprints!

    I spend most of my time in the kitchen cooking, cleaning or doing laundry and it frustrates me how much of my time is needed in there each day.  To save a bit of time we did buy a washer-dryer which saves me hanging all our washing over our house radiators each day.  Instead we can dry each wash load and put it away right away, saving a lot of time.  The clothes could take a couple of days to dry when hung around the house before.  Though it does use money to dry the clothes this way, we do have solar panels and we use a 100% renewable energy company for our gas and electric.

    I’ve shared tips to save money on your kitchen remodel here and eco-friendly ways to save money in the kitchen here.

    Our plan

    This year we did take a little step back from our home and went on a few family holidays.  I was so bored of putting all our earnings into the house and wanted to go on some adventures instead!  We do need to have some work done soon on our home, so we are back to thinking about home improvements.  For example, our bedroom window isn’t sealed properly so this needs sorting ASAP as it’s creating mould around the window almost daily which is wasting my time cleaning it constantly and it’s also a worry to our health.  Plus we’re wasting money as it’s not allowing our bedroom to retain heat properly.  As I said, wasting both time and money in the house is driving me bonkers!

    Whilst doing up our home we have been trying to create a minimal and sensible space that is easy to clean and makes life more enjoyable.  We don’t want a complicated garden or home that takes a lot of maintaining and needs more and more money thrown at it to keep it looking good.  I also don’t want a home that takes hours on end to clean every day, so the more minimal and easier to clean (like hard floors) the better. 

    Anyway, rambling over, I hope that we come to the end of everything soon and get to spend more time and money on adventures as a family instead of in and on the house!

    And I know we are not technically wasting money as we are improving the home... but I wanted a new home or refurbished one in the first place with no work to do, but that's another story...!

    I’m bored of wasting time and money at home

  2. 3 ways to save money and future proof your garden

    Posted on

    Gardens are a lot of hard work.  We bought a house with a 90 foot garden and it’s a lot to manage.  We’ve changed it considerably, but there is still so much to do to make it look remotely pleasant.  We thought a large garden was a great idea for the kids, which it is, but we didn’t think about the ongoing maintenance of such a large space or the costs.  The lawn regularly needs cutting and grass seeds sprinkling.  We have around 30 fence panels that need treating and painting and many even need replacing.  The patio constantly needs cleaning as the slabs are cheap, light in colour and dirt very easily, so we really need to replace them when we can.  There’s also so much weeding!  I’d much rather a low maintenance garden and have some tips on how to achieve this below.

    Luckily there are lots of ways to save money in the garden in the long run and also to future proof it.  This is a particularly good idea for the older generations who may not be able to maintain a garden in the future, or just for us busy folk who don’t have the time to spend maintaining a garden on top of a busy work schedule and hectic lifestyle.

    Here are a few ideas of how you can save money and future proof your garden.  Some may require an upfront cost, but then will require little or no maintenance in the long run.

    3 ways to save money and future proof your garden

    Image

    Artificial grass

    Back when I was younger the only place I saw pretend grass was the Astroturf at school!  But times have changed and there is artificial grass available that looks ever so real.  It requires no mowing, little maintenance and always looks great.  There’s no need to worry about installing it yourself either as there are plenty of professional artificial grass installers available all over the country who can give you a quote and answer any questions you may have about this booming business.  You’ll save money in the long run as you’ll no longer need to cut the grass which requires a lawnmower and the use of fuel or maintain it which could involve buying grass seed every year.

    Metal fences

    Don’t be put off by the word metal!  It’s now possible to buy garden fences made from metal that look like wooden versions, but require zero maintenance!  They can be purchased in all sorts of colours and can even have trellis at the top.  They never need treating or painting so whilst there is the upfront cost of buying the fences and installing them, there’s no more costs after this.

    Composite decking

    Decking is one thing on our never-ending list of things to do in the garden.  We have a roofed veranda that Ben built and we need a visually pleasing floor to complete the outdoor seating area and not the horrid slabs I mentioned in the introduction.  Wood decking can be high maintenance requiring regular treating and staining as well as it’s unfortunate ability to rot, but there is an alternative solution called composite decking.  This decking is also environmentally friendly as it’s made from recycled hard wood and recycled plastic, it also requires little to no chemicals to treat it once installed.  Because of the plastic content it is highly durable and requires low maintenance.  It needs a clean occasionally, but does not need painting or staining.  A bonus is it will not rot either.

    If you’re looking for a super low maintenance garden then these three tips will have you well on your way!

     

    More fab money articles

    5 tried and tested ways to make money as a UK stay at home mum

    Get 100% renewable energy with Bulb and save lots of money (over £250)

    Easily make money from home by testing websites

    Mustard car insurance comparison promises to beat your cheapest online quote

    Win the whole cost of your online shop with cashback site Boom25

    How to make your workout more eco-friendly and cost-effective

    3 ways to save money and future proof your garden

  3. Is it time for you to grow your own vegetable garden?

    Posted on

    Everyone needs fruit and vegetables, since we were little we’ve been told it’s an important part of well-balanced diet. However, it seems more and more people are becoming interested in growing them - as well as eating them. Here in England, allotments are increasing in popularity. Do you fancy testing out your green thumb and getting more involved in the garden? There are plenty of reasons why you should consider beginning to grow your own fruits and vegetables.

     Is it time for you to grow your own vegetable garden

    Image

    Saving money

    The weekly shop never does wonders for the weekly budget. We all know that feeding a family quickly adds up. So why don’t you save yourself a few pennies here and there? After all, they will quickly add up, too. By growing your own fruit and veg in the garden, you can cut costs on all future supermarket visits. Plus, if you have excess leftover, you could get always bake crumbles or pies and sell a few to sweet-toothed neighbours.

    Sustainable

    You may be thinking that as it’s getting colder outside, that you won’t be able to start this garden project until spring starts. Don’t you worry, you can get started as soon as you want to. Thanks to Premier Polytunnels your fruit and vegetables will be protected no matter the weather. Come wind, rain, or shine, a polytunnel is a must if you fancy growing your fruit and veg. Particularly for us Brits in this versatile weather our gardens always get.

    Organic

    There’s something so satisfying about growing your own food. It’s not just the work and watching it grow - it’s more than that. You’ve been there from start to finish so you know exactly what’s gone into it. These days supermarket foods are filled with preservatives and chemicals. You can never be sure exactly where your food has come from. Whereas if you start growing your own, you can tuck in, knowing full well it’s 100% natural as it’s come from your very own garden. Or allotment if you’re stepping further afield from the house. Still very much locally-sourced.  Just make sure you buy organic seeds and compost to ensure it’s 100% organic.

    Kid friendly

    By growing your own fruit and veg in the garden, it’s a great way to get the kids involved outdoors. You can teach them the responsibility of growing and looking after food. Plus, of course, it’s a fun way to teach them about the importance of eating healthily and getting their fruits and vegetables. They’re much more likely to taste something they’ve grown themselves. 

     

    Related blog posts

    Easy grow your own vegetables for children through the seasons

    Growing your own: a goal for the New Year? Tips to get you started

     Is it time for you to grow your own vegetable garden_

     

    Collaboration

  4. Refresh your entire bedroom with a duvet cover #YorkshireLinensBedroomChallenge

    Posted on

    One of the best decisions we made in our house was to paint it all white.  I wasn’t sure at first and I wanted to pick a more cream or magnolia colour for the walls, but Ben preferred white.  I was opting for a more off white colour to bring warmth into the home as I thought white could be quite cold, but I’m glad we ended up choosing white.  White walls make our entire home like a blank canvas, allowing us to switch décor patterns and colours with ease.  One of the rooms that this works really well in is our bedroom.  With white walls and minimal furniture, we can easily switch up the feel of the room through a single item such as a duvet cover.  By changing just the duvet cover we can totally transform the room.  In this blog post I will explore how to easily refresh your bedroom by simply switching your duvet cover.

    Refresh your entire bedroom with a duvet cover #YorkshireLinensBedroomChall

     

    Images with thanks to www.yorkshirelinen.com

    Of course, even if you have coloured or patterned walls then you can also switch a duvet cover to make over the bedroom, but you may be limited to certain colours and patterns that blend with your existing décor.  This is why I am no so in love with white walls and minimalism as we have no boundaries.  We are free to choose any colour or pattern duvet cover we desire.  There are no limitations.  Our duvet cover becomes the feature of our bedroom and sets the theme.  It’s an effective way to totally refresh our bedroom without having to spend a small fortune on redecorating or buying several new accessories at once.  There are numerous affordable duvet covers to choose from here at Yorkshire Linen store that won’t break the bank and can turn your room into a tropical paradise, cosy winter snug or an artistic endeavour; whatever takes your fancy.

    Refresh your entire bedroom with a duvet cover #YorkshireLinensBedroomChall

    You really can switch up a duvet cover to take you wherever your mood wishes to go.  Feeling low key?  Keep it plain Jane.  Choose a bright colour to uplift your senses or a pastel colour to calm.  Feeling festive?  Choose snowflakes, reindeers, patchworks or red.  Feeling one with nature?  Choose tropical leaf prints, botanicals or even cactuses. 

    Refresh your entire bedroom with a duvet cover #YorkshireLinensBedroomChall

    With duvet covers the possibilities really are endless and you’ll be able to find a print, colour or pattern to showcase your personality or set a certain ambiance.  In our bedroom we have a king size bed which really takes up most of the room, so the duvet cover is the first thing the eye is drawn to.  In the children’s bedrooms, they too have white walls, so a colourful and fun duvet cover really pops out creating a more entertaining environment for them to enjoy.

    Refresh your entire bedroom with a duvet cover #YorkshireLinensBedroomChall

    Sometimes we overcomplicate things and believe we need to make a lot of changes or buy expensive décor to transform a space, but in reality it could be as simple as changing one key piece of a room such as a duvet cover.  Hopefully this post has inspired you to take a look at your bedroom toady and to reimagine it with a brand spanking new cover!

     

    Related blog posts

    5 tips to get a better night’s sleep naturally 

    Here's how I would create my ultimate cosy bedroom

    How my bedroom décor describes my personality

     Refresh your entire bedroom with a duvet cover #YorkshireLinensBedroomChall

    Collaboration

  5. 5 ways to get your home autumn ready

    Posted on

    Autumn seems to be settling in quicker than ever this year.  We had a beautifully hot summer which started early in the spring.  My mum is certain the seasons are changing and everything is shifting a little earlier through the year.  Though the middle of the days are still warm, the mornings are really nippy.  I’ve already got layers on each morning with a hoody or knit to fend off the chill.  As I look out into my garden it’s still very much alive with green, but on the school run this morning we crunched through fallen leaves of a tree that is almost bare and Bella collected conkers from the ground!  You can’t get more autumn than that!

    I feel like autumn is fast settling in and the cold weather will be here before we know it.  Here are five ways to get your home autumn ready:

    5 ways to get your home autumn ready

    Photo by Daiga Ellaby

    Pumpkin spice

    Check out the candle sections of your local stores and find new autumn scents such as pumpkin spice.  Spicy scents, blackberry scents and earthy scents are all perfect for the change in season and will give a warm and inviting atmosphere to your home.  Search Etsy for natural soy based candles that will make your home smell amazing, support an individual or small business and won’t fill your home with toxic fumes.

    Fluffy towels in the bathroom

    Even in a room with large white bathroom tiles that might feel more bright and summery, you can still create a cosy autumn ready space.  Hang a few fluffy burnt orange and red hand towels to bring warmth into the room along with a matching bathmat.  A reed diffuser with pumpkin spice scents and your bathroom is easily transformed for fall.  Choose organic cotton towels for extra softness and less damage to the environment.

    Throws galore

    Bring out the fleecy soft throws and place them in easy to grab locations or drape them over the end of the sofa.  Add them to beds and outdoor sofas so you can get snuggly wherever you are.  For a more eco-friendly choice, search ‘recycled throws’ and you’ll find plenty of well-known stores selling these using recycled fabrics such as at H&M or Not on the High Street.

    Autumn flowers

    There are plenty of flowers that bloom in the autumn, so pop to your local garden centre for advice.  To create a real sense of the season I’d choose orange, yellow and red colours.  Add a vase to your dining table and a free standing pot or hanging basket to the front door.  How about creating a beautiful autumn wreath like these for your front door?  A great tip is to sign up for a seasonal flower subscription to receive fresh flowers directly to your door, some are even letterbox friendly, each month or even more regularly.

    Fires at the ready

    Now is the time to call in the chimney sweep if you’ve not had your log burner swept since last autumn and to place a basket of chopped wood at the ready.  Check your radiators are working to ensure you are all set up and good to go when the chilly evenings really begin.  If buying wood then choose FSC approved sources to ensure the wood is responsibly sourced and replaced.

    Hopefully these tips will inspire you to create an autumn ready home that’s super cosy, smells delicious and will keep you toasty as the season sets in.

     

    Related blog posts

    3 Ways To Welcome Autumn Into Your Home

    Warming Autumn Flavours: The Tea Makers Review

    Tips to make sure your family cars tyres are safe this autumn

    Easy ways to keep fit this autumn

     5 ways to get your home autumn ready

    Collaboration