A Design Statement In Your Garden

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Looking to add that contemporary feel to your garden, office foyer or restaurant? Look no further than the Curly Swirly Stainless Steel Cascading Water Feature From Ambiente. This bold piece of modern art is crafted from 304 grade stainless steel, the very same type of steel that covers the pinnacle of New York City’s Chrysler Building.

The water feature consists of a contemporary curled design, optional plastic or stainless steel reservoir to choose from and a 10m mains cable which allows easy installation indoor or outdoor.

The unique smooth and unbroken lines of sculpture and the smooth water flow out of the tip of the curl create a very contemporary finish, while the self-contained nature of the unit allows it to be easily installed almost anywhere, indoors or out.

The Ambiente Curly Swirly Stainless Steel Cascading Water Feature is sure to add that added element of sophistication to almost any space, while breaking the mould from the traditional style of water features.

How To Choose Your Furniture

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Searching for rugged good looks, or delicate features? Whatever’s on your furniture’s facebook, make sure its credentials are up to scratch.

By Caroline Rodrigues

1 What’s My Style?

A quick scout around the high street, or an even quicker online search will soon flag up whether your taste is for the dark designer tones of wenge, the warmth of family-friendly warm oak or the glamour of pristine, touch-me-not white. If you’re starting afresh, matching furniture does set an instant style, but if it’s a case of adding to existing furniture, pick out pieces in similar colour tones and let the shape you already have dictate the terms.

Once the scene is set, all that’s needed is one supermodel accent piece. See-through glass and acrylic furniture and glitzy mirrored finishes are bang on trend, or try an embossed metal effect from Graham & Green for an ethnic twist. For a classic appeal, painted furniture, with its roots in Gustavian or French country style, stands up well when used as a one-off piece among natural wood finishes.

2 Will It Fit?

Size and proportion are crucial when choosing furniture – too big and the room will be swamped, too small and you won’t have enough storage. Check the fit before you buy, by taking measurements of the furniture, and making a newspaper template to spread out in your room. Consider modular designs or co-ordinated ranges which you can add to as your needs change, though bear in mind that wood will change colour as it ages, so buy a new piece later and it may not be a perfect match. Storage is always the big issue – opt for coffee tables with drawers, a TV stand with media storage beneath, or a whole wall of units with open shelves for display and cupboards to conceal your junk.

3 Flat Pack Or Ready-Assembled?

Flat-pack furniture will save you money and you can often take it away from the store the same day in your own car. Once you’ve got it home, the fun starts, as you struggle with the instructions and lose the screws that fit it all together. And if a part is missing you’ll need another trip to the store. That said, giving up an evening to put it together can save a fortune. Ready-assembled feature is hard-wearing, but can be pricey. You’ll have to pay for delivery, and you may not get your furniture for several weeks. If you have a narrow hallway or staircase, it can be difficult to get large items into your home.

4 Is Solid Wood Best?

There’s something so satisfying about solid wood furniture. Each piece has its own character thanks to variations in colour and grain, knots and burrs. It doesn’t mind a few knocks and scratches and you can even buy it with a distressed or aged finish. It can warp or twist, though, and the colour can change over the years, so try and buy furniture together or pieces may not match.

5 What Are The Other Options?

Furniture is often made from a combination of materials, such as solid wood and veneers, taking advantage of the properties of each. Although some veneered furniture can be expensive, often materials such as synthetic veneers, MDF and particle board are used to keep costs down.

Wood veneer is made from wafer thin slivers of real wood, bonded onto a board made from MDF, particle board, or a cheaper wood. It uses the minimum amount of expensive wood, so it’s a relatively ecologically-friendly option. Since slices are taken from the same log, you can match the pattern and grain across the furniture.

Veneered furniture is unlikely to warp, but it’s still affected by changes in temperature and humidity. It’s subject to colour change, too (see solid wood above). Synthetic veneers are made from paper or pvc foils that are printed and often embossed to look and feel like wood. They’re bonded onto chipboard or MDF. The advantage is that they’re cheaper than wood, and they have a uniform appearance without defects or variation in grain or colour. But if you damagethe surface, there’s no way back.

MDF, particleboard, chipboard and plywood are often used in construction as they are cheap and won’t warp, though be careful not to allow them to get wet. They’re often finished with a wood or foil veneer, though MDF can also be painted, stained or lacquered.

6 What’s The Difference Between Lacquer And Wax Finishes?

If you have a busy household, choose a finish that can withstand a few knocks and scratches. A lacquered finish gives long-lasting protection against damage. It’s often used for veneered furniture and is the easy-care option, just needing a light dusting with a soft cloth. However, if damaged, you can’t repair the finish yourself. Wax and oil finishes, although less resistant to marking, have the advantage that you can re-wax them from time to time, filling in minor scratches, plus they allow the tactile effect of the grain of the wood to show through.

7 What About Eco Credentials?

Look out for the Forest Stewardship Council’s ‘FSC’ mark on furniture, meaning that the forest the wood came from meets sustainability requirements. The Real Wood Furniture Company sources its ash, oak, cherry and elm, all indigenous to the UK, from sustained and managed sources, while specialist company Lombok uses teak reclaimed from disused Indonesian houses. Or buy second-hand furniture, saving some great retro designs from a sad ending on a skip.

8 What Should I Ask?

Check whether your furniture will be supplied fully assembled and if so, make sure that it will fit through any narrow corridors or awkward doorways. Ask about guarantees, delivery times and charges. If you intend to buy more pieces at a later date, check whether the range is likely to be discontinued soon.

Keep it Cool with Igenix

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Igenix are well-known for their kitchen ‘white goods’ as they manufacture some of the highest quality electrical products available on the market today, and Igenix has recently expanded their product range to include more exciting and unique products too.

Igenix have produced kettles, irons, fridges and freezers for some time, and are respected for the product quality and longevity, so many customers and rival companies will be keen to view their new products. New products from Igenix include a Counter Top Dishwasher, designed for 4 place settings to be conveniently and effectively cleaned. A selection of wine and beer coolers have been released by Igenix as well, these come in varied sizes and allow various loading and display positions available to maximise each coolers space, whist looking stylish and creating a professional styled storage space for your chosen tipple.

although these are luxury items and by no means essentials, they are certainly desirable products for any home with their clean, crisp finishes and first class functionality. We look forward to seeing what else Igenix release in the near future.

Make Your Spare Room Work For You!

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Most guest rooms lie unused most of the time, I know mine is just used to store excess clothing at the moment! So why not turn yours into a multi-purpose space that’s still practical for having overnight visitors? It could even show potential buyers how versatile your home is…

Decide What You Need

Leaving a room unused – whether it’s a spare bedroom, a dining room or box room – is a real sin in these times of high property prices and just think you’re paying to heat that unused room aswell! Most of us have a room that’s little used – or not used well, ( I try and use my office, but its full of junk at the moment from where I tidied the spare room!) So why not transform the whole family’s life by rethinking it? Giving new life to that unused space that is just gathering dust upstairs or at the back of the house. The trickiest thing is to decide how to use it. It might be best as part office, part spare room, or part music and sitting room, or as my kids want, part games room, part bedroom! It doesn’t require a huge investment, just some careful thinking and planning and it’ll work wonders!

Do You Need A Home Office?

More and more of us are turning a little-used room into a home office, and rightly so. They’re popular with buyers, especially if the room is too tiny to be a useful bedroom. Chris Brown, Vice President of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) says, ‘Our research shows that a growing number of people are now working from home, so a home office will have a broad appeal.’

The Home Office Must Haves

You don’t need a big room to make a home office work – much depends on how much storage you need to hand. If you have little paperwork and reference documents, you’ll need little more than a desk space. Here’s what else to consider:

  • Get a phone line connected to the room to access the internet. (If you’ve not already got Wi-Fi connectivity!)
  • Home offices benefit from clean, subdued colours to create a professional atmosphere. Pale yellow stimulates quick thinking and white always looks smart in busy areas.
  • A desk and chair are obvious essentials, but include plenty of storage for files and bills. Hanging shelves, rather than a filing cabinet, will make more room for a sofa bed.
  • If you go for a regular desk, positioning it near the window will not only use up what is often dead space, it will also give you something to look at while giving your eyes a break from the screen. The Campania from House2Home Megastore, built to last using natural ash and strong dove-tail joints that provide a reliable and sturdy desk that really has a feel of quality as well as providing a large desk area, cupboard and drawer storage as well as a sliding keyboard tray.
All the room will need is a lick of paint, with most of the budget going on furniture, so the switch to home office could cost as little as £250.

A dressing room is a real luxury, but ideal for a box room or a room that can only be accessed through another bedroom. Whether it’s going to add value depends on the overall balance of your home – taking a three-bedroom house down to a two would be inadvisable. But if you have three good-sized bedrooms plus a box room, it could be a good choice.

The Dressing Room Must Haves

Assuming you have the space in your box room to do more than fit clothes storage, there are other factors you should consider to make the most of a dressing room. Start here:

  • As this is likely to be a small space, a chair bed is more practical than a sofa bed.
  • Layout is crucial if you want the room to have flexibility in the future. Leave one wall free of cupboards so that future owners can fit in a bed (even if it’s a single) if they need to.
  • Fitted cupboards will make the most of space and provide storage for everything from spare bed linen and clothes to makeup. Don’t forget to factor in extra storage for bedding in the hard to reach areas at the top and bottom.
  • Good lighting around a mirror is a bonus – and the bigger the mirror, the bigger the room will feel. Staying With House2Home I know they have an extensive range of mirrors just waiting to be launched, such as the Molise Oak Mirror shown right. Just perfect for modelling your outfit before a night out!
  • Colours should be clean and soothing – nothing too bright or patterned that would detract from the art of dressing.
But I’m not much one for dressing up, my clothing barely stretches from a suit at work to jeans and a t-shirt on weekends with very little in between, but i’m sure given half the chance my partner would jump at the chance of her own dressing room!

Change It For Good?

Changing the use of a spare room entirely – into an extra bathroom or utility – is a bold step as there is no option of using it for guests. Whether it will add value depends on the size of your house. According to the NAEA, a second bathroom is only worth the sacrifice in a house with more than four bedrooms.

There’s nothing like a day-glo scatter of plastic toys or lolling teenagers to ruin the muted chic of your sitting room, so why not give the kids their own den? ‘If you have the space available, this is a really popular option,’ says Chris Brown of the NAEA.

The Playroom Must Haves

* If your children are young, you’ll probably want them to be nearby – in most homes this means adjacent to the kitchen or living room, while upstairs rooms are better suited to older children.

* Incorporate lots of shelving. The highest shelves – too high for young kids to reach – are ideal for storing bed linen. For safety, attach any floor-standing shelves to the wall.

* Add a sofa bed and a curtain across the shelving to hide the chaos, and you’ll have a smart guest room.

* Use a pale blue or green to help keep the kids calm(ish), or if you want them to be stimulated, try a bright shade, such as red. Avoid cartoon character theming if you’ll be using it as a guest room.

Your Perfect Bedroom Awaits

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Bedrooms used to just be that…. A Room for a Bed, but today’s bedrooms are truly multi-functional rooms that need to be carefully planned so that they combine practicality with style as well as getting the best out of all available space. Sounds like a massive task? Not when you follow our simple guide!

Step 1: What Do You Need?

This might sound an obvious question, but start by considering what you’ll be using the room for. As well as sleeping and storing clothes and getting ready, most bedrooms today are used for reading, watching tv, or even doing the extra work you brought home! So you’ll need to allocate space for these. Everybody needs storage! So think about what’s to be stored, and the best way of doing it – for example, if you’ve got lots of suits or dresses, you’ll require wardrobes with plenty of hanging space, whereas drawers will suffice for t-shirt and jeans.

Consider The Layout

Where you place your furniture will very much be dictated by the size and shape of your bedroom, and the position of the windows, radiators and door. First decide where the bed will go, as this will 90% of the time be the biggest item and take up the most space. Before you think it, a double bed can’t be pushed up against a wall, its not a good look and is increidbly awkward if there are more than two people sharing it. As you need to be able to walk around it easily, ideally allow at least 75cm clearance either side, which gives enough space for bedside cabinets and walking space. If you’ve got your heart set on buying a new, larger bed – perhaps a 180cm super king size rather than a 140cm double – you could just about get away with a gap of just 45cm on each side.

Try not to butt the headboard up against a radiator, or have the bed facing a window as you’ll wake squinting into bright sunlight on summer mornings.

Draw A Floorplan

It’s a good idea to draw a scale floorplan of the room and furniture you’d like to include, and experiment with layouts. If the room’s empty, lay full size newspaper cut outs on the floor, or mark out the area with string to check that everything fits. Remember to allow at least 30cm in front of cabinets for drawers to open, and 60cm for wardrobe doors to open outwards.

“Planning your storage carefully won’t just make the room look neater – it will help you keep your clothes in good shape, too. So, ensure that the insides of your wardrobes and drawers are planned just as well as their outward design.”

Choose Your Clothes Storage

Choose between unfitted and fitted furniture – or a combination of both to hide away as much clothes clutter as possible.

Unfitted Furniture

Unfitted, or stand alone pieces are very flexible in that they’re easy to reposition and take with you when you move. But most wardrobes are under 2m tall, which means that you waste the space above them – and they’ll be dwarfed in rooms with high ceilings.

Fitted Furniture

Fitted, floor to ceiling furniture maximises space as it can be built into awkward corners or under sloping roofs where standard pieces won’t fit. It also hides imperfections in walls, and balances the proportions of an oddly-shaped room – for example, where alcoves are different depths. There are many specialist fitted furniture companies to cater for all budgets, and you’ll have the advantage of working with a designer who will be able to customise the design to suit your storage needs. A wall of built-in storage – combined with freestanding chests of drawers – suits most rooms, and creates a contemporary, streamlined look.

Planning The Storage Systems

Storage systems are either carcassed – with a back, sides and top, as well as doors, or have the interior fittings attached directly to the walls, which is both cheaper and better for tight spaces.

Zone the storage space so that you and your partner have your own sections. A mixture of hanging rails at different heights, shelves, and drawers suits most people, but you can also incorporate shoe racks, tie rails, and even space for your TV. Some top-end companies supply free-standing systems, which can be taken apart and rebuilt – a practical option if you move house often.

Space For A Dressing Room?

If you have a large bedroom, or an adjoining box room or redundant space, such as an old airing cupboard, consider getting it kitted out to create your own separate dressing room. As an alternative to using a fitted furniture company, get a joiner to build you a bespoke storage system. This will enable you to pick your own materials, and complement existing features in your home.

“Don’t Be Afraid To Seek A Little Bit Of Professional advice to help your room function perfectly. But don’t forget, it’s the small clever details that modern furniture boasts that maximise the storage opportunities.”

Clever Storage & Space Saving Ideas

Lack of space in many bedrooms means that furniture needs to work twice as hard to ensure that there’s space for everything and clutter’s kept under control.

Use Bedside Tables

Go for bedside tables with drawers or a cupboard rather than shelves underneath – not only more practical, but neater too.

Get A Bed With Drawers

A bed with integral pull-out drawers is a sensible solution, too. If you prefer a bedstead to a divan, store out of season clothes and bedding underneath in airtight bags, making sure they’re out of sight. Some beds now even completely lift up to reveal one large storage space underneath the mattress. Ideal for those bulkier items.

Hide Clutter In Boxes

Put scarves and belts into boxes which can sit inside the wardrobe, and fit a row of stylish hooks behind the bedroom door. This both maximises space that would normally go unused as well as hiding some of that annoying clutter!

Sliding Doors Save Space

Sliding doors are ideal for small rooms as they don’t require space in front to open out.

Get Mirrored Wardrobe Doors

Sleek mirrored wardrobe doors (preferably frameless) will make a room look bigger and brighter, but if you think they’re a bit over the top budget-wise, prop an oversized mirror against a wall for a similar effect. Failing that, hang a large mirror on free wall space.

Use Dead Space

A radiator shelf is handy for storing bits and pieces, and a high level shelf above the bed is perfect for books and other small items that would otherwise take over the bedside table.

Wall-Mount Whatever You Can

Adjustable, wall-mounted lamps will free up valuable space, too, but make sure they have independent controls so you dont have to follow the same sleep pattern!

Now you’re probably bored of planning, thinking through the logistics of things and just want your bedroom to be finished… But don’t worry, this is where things get fun. The finishing touches!

Get Your Window Treatments Right

Keep these simple but flexible to control the amount of light coming into the room. If you like to sleep in complete darkness, fit a blackout blind, underneath a Roman or Venetian blind, or framed by soft curtains, or have get a Roman blind lined with blackout fabric. If you don’t require a blackout blind, slatted shutters, Venetian or vertical blinds will enable you to adjust the amount of light coming in without sacrificing privacy.

Find The Perfect Flooring

As bedrooms floors aren’t subject to the wear and tear the rest of your home gets, you can afford to indulge yourself with a really thick, luxurious wool carpet. Wooden flooring works well, too. Strip, sand and varnish original boards, making sure any gaps are filled, or fit a new floor, then add a couple of rugs to soften the effect.

Finishing Touches

Include seating if possible – a stool, armchair, or chaise for a boudoir feel. A blanket box at the end of the bed will provide both storage and somewhere to sit, and, if you like to eat or work in bed, look out for console-type tables that slide right over it.

A dressing table helps to create a sumptuous feel, while putting thought into the lighting scheme will enable you to change the room’s mood at the flick of a switch. You’ll need an overhead lamp – chandeliers are very now – reading and background lights, and you may want interior lighting inside a large wardrobe. And don’t forget to include electrical sockets and a TV aerial in your plans.

What To Ask When Buying A Sofa?

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You and your sofa will be buddies for a long time, getting cosy and chilling out, but what’s going on under that neat buttoned-up cover? Here are ten questions to ask yourself before you make that crucial sofa choice.

By Caroline Rodrigues

1 What’s my style?

There’s a tempting array of sofas out there, but will you go for contemporary or stand your ground for traditional style?

Spot a contemporary sofa by its low back and small arms. It’s often low to the ground, on exposed metal or wooden legs. Though it won’t offer your back much support, it’s a seriously cool option.

A traditional sofa, on the other hand, resplendent with scroll arms, a buttoned back, decorative turned legs and polished brass castors, will give your living room a boost of style and elegance. It offers plenty of support and oozes comfort.

If you’re wavering between contemporary and trad, opt for an informal look with curved arms and scatter cushions, or go for a compact, boxy design.

Perfect for your penthouse, this modular sofa lets you play around with shapes, and you can choose from 14 colour and fabric combinations. Patchwork sofa, from £4,900, Ligne Roset.

If you love to play house, modular sofas are the perfect option. Made up of individual units that can be pushed together in various configurations, these sofas offer flexibility; you can mix and match pieces, create small groupings, form an L shape, or make a seriously long sofa to stretch out on.

In a small room, although you may not have a choice about positioning a sofa, choosing a compact design with neat arms can free up space. Opting for two small sofas can take up less room and look more stylish than the traditional three-piece suite or, for a tiny space, look out for modular units without arms.

Ligne Roset Patchwork sofa

2 Will it suit my room?

In a big room, you can afford to let a large sofa dominate, so choose one with a grand design, allow plenty of space around it instead of pushing it up against the wall, and don’t crowd it with other furniture.

3 What should I ask before buying?

How is the sofa made? The best quality frames are made from hardwood, and are dowelled, glued and screwed in place. Cheaper frames are in softwood and may be glued and stapled. In the smartest sofas, individual coil springs are hand tied into the base and back, while mid-price versions use zigzag or serpentine springs. The cheapest sofas use webbing instead of springs. Layers of padding form the shape of the sofa and add to the comfort level. Top notch sofas use wool, felt, hair or cotton wadding for padding, while the others make do with a heat resistant type of foam.

Can the sofa be made? Up to the size you need; can you choose cushion fillings or leg style? Can you buy an extra loose cover for it?

How long will you have to wait for the sofa? Ask about guarantees, delivery times and charges.

Ikea Ektorp sofa

4 Cushion options

Do you favour firm or squashy? You’ll sink back comfortably into expensive duck feather or feather and down filled cushions, but when you get up, they’ll need plumping. Cheaper foam is firm and supportive for your back and good for seat cushions, but will compact over the years. Combinations such as feather and polyester fibre, or fibre wrapped foam are mid-priced, and keep their shape better than feather cushions.

5 Fabric or leather?

Upholstery fabrics are designed to be tough, to put up with the hard wear a sofa gets. For this reason they often contain a mix of fibres, to give the required texture and strength. Velvets and chenilles have a luxurious look, textured fabrics are good for adding interest, or you could go for straightforward linen mixes or cotton. Watch out for big patterns, as you may tire of them quickly.

A sofa must also be made to meet stringent fire safety regulations, so if you intend to supply your own fabric, check the suitability with your sofa supplier first.

Leather comes in both super smooth versions and distressed, antiqued finishes. Semi aniline leather, which has been subjected to a process that removes most of the flaws, is a good choice for family life, as it has a hardwearing finish.

Go for a relaxed living style with this oversized sofa with plenty of cushions. It has a washable loose cover so spills are no problem. Bea large sofa in Dune Duck Egg, £499, Sofa Workshop.

Bea sofa, Sofa Workshop

6 Fixed or loose cover?

A fixed cover will hug the sofa like a well fitting jacket, for a smart, formal look. Since the cover isn’t removable, make sure it has been pre-treated with a stain resistant coating.

Loose covers have a more relaxed, lived-in look. Some are dry-clean only and others can be washed. Bear in mind that you should wash the entire cover and cushions at the same time, to ensure even fading. If you can afford to buy a second set of covers along with the sofa, you’ll extend the life of the sofa.

7 How about sofa beds?

Invaluable for putting up guests, sofa beds are also super heavy thanks to the bed frame concealed within the base, which also makes the sofa firmer to sit on.

You really don’t want to make this purchase online, as it’s far better to open and close the sofa in store to see how easily the bed pulls out. Try out the bed, too, by lying down on it and checking whether it rocks as you turn from one side to another. Make sure that the mattress does not ‘give’ too much under your weight. They’re thinner than a bed mattress and most are not designed for everyday use. You really do get what you pay for here, so splash out if you can.

Take the relevant measurements along to your retailer (if necessary, draw a small plan with measurements marked on).

Don’t despair though, as sofas made in two parts or with bolt-on arms can solve the problem.

Portia sofa by John Lewis

8 Will it fit in my house?

You’re all ready to place your order, but stop. Size really matters when you’re choosing a sofa. Not only is it the bulkiest piece of furniture in the room, but taking it through a narrow hallway, turning it through a doorway or getting it up an awkward staircase can be a nightmare.

How To Protect Your Garden

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Don’t let your garden become a target for thieves – follow the 4Homes guide to making it more secure.

By Andrea Dean

Garden Security. Garden By Modular Garden

It’s all too easy to focus on keeping our homes secure while neglecting garden buildings and items which stay outdoors. While few of us would dream of leaving a laptop or radio outside and unattended, many leave valuable items such as bicycles and lawnmowers in the garden for long periods of time, with no thought as to how vulnerable they are to thieves.

Recent findings from comparison website Gocompare.com make worrying reading – almost a quarter of British people have been the victim of garden crime, with bicycles the most commonly stolen item. And with the average garden containing £1,040 worth of outdoor furniture, tools, barbecues and children’s play equipment, it’s vital to ensure that the contents are adequately insured as well as properly protected. Check that your home insurance policy protects against garden theft, though cover can be limited, so you may need to extend it or even consider a specialist garden policy if the contents are particularly valuable.

Take Precautions

The most effective way of keeping thieves out of your garden is to make life as difficult as possible for them. Reduce the number of places they can hide by keeping hedges and shrubs low at the front of the house, and install security lighting in areas that are cast deep into shadow at night. Gravel is an excellent deterrent as it’s noisy when walked on, so will alert you to any intruders, and it goes without saying that ladders and tools should never be left lying around, as not only do they make rich pickings for opportunist thieves, but can be used to break into your home, garage or shed.

Garden Security

Lights And Alarms

As well as alerting you to the presence of unwelcome visitors, security lights and alarms are good deterrents, as thieves prefer to operate in darkness and silence. There are two types of outdoor security lights – those which come on automatically when it gets dark and stay on all night, and passive infra-red (PIR) or motion sensor lamps, which are activated by movement. The latter can be set off by an animal, passing car or gust of wind, which can be annoying – and expensive -if it happens a lot.

If your home already has a burglar alarm system, you may be able to extend this to your garage or shed, or it might be easier to install a stand-alone device, which can be mains or battery-operated, Choose between PIR detectors, activated by movement or body heat, and door contact systems, which sound when the door is opened unexpectedly. A closed circuit television camera overlooking the garden will provide additional security – domestic systems are quick to install and can be found at DIY stores for under £100.

Property Marking

It makes sense to visibly mark your property with your postcode as such items are harder for thieves to sell on, and easily identifiable as stolen. They can be etched or marked in ink, UV marker or with self-laminated stickers, which wrap around handles and bicycle frames. These are usually available from Crime Prevention officers, who should also be able to supply stickers advertising that property has been marked. Finally, write down any serial numbers, and take photos to aid with recovery and insurance claims if, despite your precautions, anything is stolen.

Garden Security

Check that fences or walls are in good condition so they can’t simply be kicked down, then add extra security measures to prevent athletic thieves from climbing over. Low fencing gives easy access, so go for panels which are at least 1.8 metres high, though you should ask your local planning office whether any height restrictions apply. Fix sections of trellis on top which will break if climbed on, or run thin horizontal wires along the top of fence posts, and grow plants along them. Alternatively, consider bordering the fence with prickly hedges or shrubs, such as climbing roses, hawthorn or holly, which will make an uncomfortable landing for anyone who falls on them.


Gates at the back and side of the house should be the same height as the fence or wall, and secured with at least two good quality padlocks and bolts. Make solid wooden gates more tricky to climb by adding insets so there’s isn’t an obvious foothold, and check that the hinges are secure so that the gate can’t be removed completely – either weld them shut or screw them in as tightly as possible.

Garden Security

Garden Sheds

Sheds may contain hundreds of pounds worth of tools and other equipment, but are often overlooked when considering home security arrangements. Ensure that yours is in good condition, and replace rotten sections of timber and window frames if necessary. If you’re buying a new one, position it so that it faces your house and isn’t too close to a wall or gate, offering easy access to thieves.

Fit key operated window locks on all windows that open, or if you never use them, screw them permanently shut. Add wire mesh or a grille on the insides of the frames, then hang an old curtain or piece of fabric so a casual observer can’t peep inside. Shed doors are often weak points, so secure with two closed shackle padlocks on strong hasps, one positioned a third of the way up the door, and the other one third of the way down, and reinforce the hinges with threaded coach bolts with backing plates or large backing washers which prevent the bolt being pulled through the wood.

Property inside the shed should be locked, so that anyone breaking in can’t just walk off with it. Store smaller items such as tools in a lockable metal box or cage, and chain bicycles, lawnmowers, ladders and furniture to a floor anchor fixed into the floor, or link everything together with a lockable chain or metal cable.


Although garages are usually built from bricks and mortar and so are stronger than the average shed, windows and doors are their weak points, so require sturdy locks. Secure up and over garage doors with locks fitted to the garage base or with mortice bolts fitted to each side, and double doors with heavy-duty hasp and staple, coach bolted through, together with a closed shackle padlock. Access doors, leading into the garage or directly into the house, need a five-lever mortice or deadlock, and mortice bolts top and bottom. As in a shed, you should lock small items inside a metal box or cage, and thread larger ones together with lockable cable, possibly anchored into the ground, a wall or post.

Garden Security

Lock Away Outdoor Furniture And Ornaments

Get into the habit of locking toys, tools and lightweight furniture in the shed, garage or other outbuildings at night, and only leave things outside which are too cumbersome or heavy to be moved easily. However, weighty items are still potential targets, so fix furniture and barbeques to the ground with anchoring devices, and use security brackets to prevent hanging baskets being whisked away. You may also need to anchor statues and expensive plants, and place stones or bricks in the bottom of large containers to increase their weight.

House2Home Megastore News!

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As you know, we AtHome aim to bring you the best information and reviews on products you find AtHome. We have just recieved the below email from House2Home Megastore with some interesting news:

In need of inspiration then simply browse the house 2 home megastore product ranges for stimulating room sets and innovative product ideas; Temper living room space with subtle room lighting, invigorate your bathroom with fresh fixtures, or create a social area in your garden for adults and children alike, with attention grabbing furniture.

Whether you wish to uniform or contrast the décor, or create something bespoke to your personnel taste and needs then house 2 home megastore are striving to meet your requirements with constant price evaluation and renewed product ranges and ideas.

For seasonal fashions and the most up to date product releases then visit our house 2 home megastore blogging site designed to inform of the latest breaking news and information on existing products and future releases, room design tips and articles of general interest. House 2 home megastore have a genuine interest in our products and services, we want our returning customers and first time visitors to feel that their custom is valued and respected, so we become valued and respected too.

“House 2 home megastore wish to showcase furniture and finishing touches to make your house a home. Supplying all that is required to structure your perfect room, using superlative design and creative know how.

Achieve desirable results from house 2 home megastores extensive high quality product ranges, delivered to your home by a conscientious team.

We are pleased to announce that the House2Home Megastore is set to go live this afternoon on 19th May 2011 at 3pm showcasing our wide range of products ranging from decorative towel radiators to garden furniture. We welcome you to come and visit our website for all your home furnishing needs.”

From what I’ve seen from the House2Home Megastore when it was in development it looks like a very well laid out site and does do some very interesting products. Will have to have a look at the finished thing when it goes live at 3pm this afternoon!

10 Ways To Warm Up Your Home

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Renovating your home? If you’re having work done, it’s worth investing in the various ways to make it more energy efficient, better insulated and, as a result, warmer. Here’s what to ask your builder and what to get done.

10 Ways To Make Your Home Warmer

1 Having A Loft Conversion?

If you’re having an extension or loft conversion ask your builder to check your loft insulation. Did you know that loft insulation could cost only £250 to install with a government subsidy and could save you up to £205 per year? That means it pays for itself in one to two years. As they’re already on site, installing it then instead of coming back will save you money on labour costs, too. If you have less than 270mm insulation, you need a top up.

2 Draught Proof Your Windows

This easy-to-install measure is cheap and could save around £30 per year. All you need is a tube of flexible filler or some draught-proofing strips from the DIY store. Look for draughts around windows and doors, light fittings and loft hatches.

10 ways to make your home warmer

3 Pull Up Your Floorboards

If your builder’s pulling up floorboards or re-laying floors, it would be a great time to install underfloor insulation. This sits underneath the floorboards and makes sure rooms stay warm in winter and are less draughty. It will cost around £90 for materials, and you could save around £50 a year depending on how many rooms it can be installed in.

4 Insulate Your Walls

If your builder’s fitting a new kitchen or bathroom in an older house, it would be a good time to request some internal wall insulation. Older properties can be hard to heat and adding internal wall insulation will add to your comfort and reduce your bills by around £500 per year. If you’re undertaking major renovations to the inside of your house, it is the perfect opportunity to install internal wall insulation and save yourself between £1,000 to £3,000 of the installation cost as you won’t have to pay twice for scaffolding and other associated costs.

5 How About The Hot Water Tank?

An insulating jacket for a hot water tank only costs a few pounds and pays for itself within months. If the jacket is less than 75mm thick, it will benefit from a new one and could save around £40 a year.

10 Ways To Make Your Home Warmer

5 How About The Hot Water Tank?

An insulating jacket for a hot water tank only costs a few pounds and pays for itself within months. If the jacket is less than 75mm thick, it will benefit from a new one and could save around £40 a year.

6 Exposed Pipework?

If you’re having some plumbing work done or the plumber’s working with exposed pipework, you could save money by having it lagged. Lagging hot water pipes or the cold water pipes next to them reduces wasteful heat loss and means you could save money off your water bill too. It will cost around £8 for the materials and could save you around £12 a year.

7 Having Lights Done?

Ask your builder to install dedicated energy-saving lightbulb fittings. Priced from just £2, energy efficient light bulbs last around 10 times longer and for each bulb you fit, you can save around £3 on your annual electricity bill. This saving could be up to £6 a year if you’re replacing a very bright bulb with an energy efficient one of the same brightness, or one used for more than a few hours a day. Energy-saving lights come in all shapes and sizes and even dimmable lights are available.

8 Install A Water Butt

Always wanted a water butt but not had the room in the car to bring it back from the DIY store? Why not ask you builder if they can collect and fit it for you?

9 Watch Your Water Efficiency

Ask your builder/plumber to install water efficient bathroom fittings, such as aerated shower heads and low flow taps.

10 Be Switched On To Energy Performance

Talk to your builder about whether the work they’re completing can improve the energy efficiency of your home. A higher rating on your energy performance certificate will mean lower bills and may even make your home easier to sell in the future.

Summer Meadows

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Summer Meadows have a beautiful wooden animal range that has been designed to house your pets, to keep them safe and secure, and remain usable for the pet owner all at the same time.

The Summer Meadows wooden range includes housing and hutches for critters, chickens, dogs, cats and rabbits. All of this range is designed with the animals and the owners in mind, making sure all the space is used to its best potential and providing safety from the elements and possible dangers too.

Cleaning of these hutches, houses and coops can be difficult so Summer Meadows have included as many sliding floors, trap doors and hatches to aid in this task and leave more time to enjoying your pets than cleaning up after them. Really worth having a look at if you get the chance.