Thursday, 27 November 2014

When the house just seems too small!

It isn’t always easy to move to somewhere larger with house prices rising and mortgages still hard to get. The rental market is very strong as well and many people are finding themselves stuck somewhere that is just too cramped for their use. This is especially true for families where the children are getting older and are sharing a room unwillingly. The secret is to make little corners of the house the special place for just one person, so that boundaries are kept up and no one feels that they have no privacy.

Living rooms

Living rooms often suffer from the fact that the television is in there and so anyone trying to do something that takes concentration is having to compete with the noise. There are several ways to look at this and both involve headphones! It is possible to buy sets of headphones and a sender which plugs into the TV so that only people watching will hear. This also works if one person is deaf and needs the volume up. This can give a rather surreal effect, though, because the people watching will react and it can be just as disturbing. The person not watching TV could wear the earphones instead – there are various apps for white noise that block out extraneous sound without breaking concentration.

Use physical dividers

Using furniture is one way to divide up a bedroom or lounge diner. Putting different floor coverings down – for example take a look at these  large traditional rug in the sitting area, or maybe a less formal shaggy rug in the family room – will also demarcate what each bit of a room is to be used for. In children’s bedrooms, round rugs in the ‘communal’ area will clarify who had which bit as their private space. You can also use colour to show that you are in another’s territory – neutral rugs giving way to jazzy colours will soon show who owns what.

Courtesy will win the day

The problem with families is that they often forget that they have to be as polite to each other as to other people. ‘Please’ and ‘thank you’ are words you sadly don't hear very much inside the average home and that is a shame. Showing that you are grateful for things done for you by others is a way of making them feel valued, as is showing proper respect for another’s belongings and space.

Traditional Rugs and Runners

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Noisy neighbours and what to do (and what not to do!)

An Englishman’s home is his castle, or so the saying goes and most people find that they are much happier when they can be in their own home and shut the door for some privacy. But lots of people find that the noise made by neighbours ruins their enjoyment of their own space and increasing numbers are contacting their councils or even the police to make peace. In some extreme cases people have actually resorted to physical violence when a neighbourly dispute gets out of hand.

Simple measures first

Unfortunately, arguments between neighbours are given coverage on the media when they result in horrendous situations involving court cases and even bodily harm. Most are dealt with much more simply and perhaps the easiest thing is just to tap on the door and mention that the noise is not acceptable. Make a joke of it if you can and certainly don't go in all guns blazing. If you live below someone in a flat and they seem to have a herd of elephant up there, why not treat them to a thick modern rug for the lounge or a hall runner if that is the problem area. Choose a neutral rug so it will go with any decor and they should be suitably grateful. Don't make trouble in the first instance should be your watchword.

Don't try tit for tat

If friendly approaches haven’t worked or if you feel it has got worse after your first attempt, don't try and drown the noise with some of your own. This can be used against you if things escalate so it is best to just behave as normal and don't start DIY projects at three in the morning just to get even. Without making an undue fuss about it, visit other neighbours to see if they are affected. If a group of you makes an approach, it might have more impact. If you did try buying your heavy footed neighbour a shaggy rug to try and minimise the noise, don't ask for it back if it doesn’t work – that will only make things worse.

There may be a reason

Find out first whether there is a reason for the noise. There may be problems on the domestic front or perhaps a child who is going through a phase. Although this won't stop the noise, a little understanding makes it all a little easier to bear.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Charity shop chic

Upcycling and charity shop furnishing is all the rage these days but there isn’t really any need to make alterations or do funky things with paint and decoupage if you buy well to start with. There are some things that perhaps are not what you would want in your home without some serious cleaning and detoxing – second-hand shaggy rugs would probably fall into this category – but antique persian rugs along with any furniture with no upholstered parts are often fine after a wipe through with a damp cloth. If drawers or cupboards smell a little musty, it is easy to put that right with a bag of bicarbonate of soda in a corner, perhaps with a few lavender flowers added to perfume the space.

Things to watch for

Believe it or not, woodworm is not an automatic ‘no-no’. If there is no sign of new infestation then the chances are that the piece has been treated already and will be fine to bring into the house. New infestations of woodworm show ‘mealy’ deposits around the holes, which look a little damp and fresh. Even if you have active woodworm, it is easy to treat and as long as it isn’t disfiguring a piece you otherwise like, go for it. If you are buying for fun, you don't really need to worry too much about whether a piece has been stripped or over polished but if you think you have spotted a potential money-spinner, buy with care in these circumstances because with the patina of age gone, you may have said goodbye to the value too.

Buy what you like

Fashions in collectables come and go and it is never worth buying something because you think it is worth money. Apart from the dubious morals of buying something for pence in a charity shop and making money from it – the clue is in the word ‘charity’ after all – buying something you think is pretty hideous because you might make money down the line can come back and bite you. It is fair to say that not many people think Clarice Cliff pieces are ‘beautiful’ because the painting is a bit rough and ready at best and their value is dropping in the marketplace today, so tough luck on all those people who bought as an investment. You have been warned. On the other hand, a lovely mellow traditional rug made by the old knotting method will give much pleasure and they are holding their own, price wise.