How to set up home with your partner

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Whether it’s throwing out the ‘man furniture’ or battling over paint colours, setting up a new pad with your partner is never easy. Huma Qureshi meets three couples who’ve taken the design plunge

It’s a well-played out scene. The happy couple enter Ikea/John Lewis/Habitat/Heals (delete as appropriate) hand-in-hand with that “we’re moving in together” look, only to explode a few hours later into a public display of vicious bickering over what colour the feature wall is meant to be or whether scatter cushions are really necessary.

Setting up home, whether it’s moving, redecorating or renovating a property from scratch, is stressful enough when there’s only one of you; add in your other half, complete with their own ideas of what your joint home should look like, and those stress levels risk going sky high.

“It’s very important to remember that you’re both after the same result: a beautiful home that meets your needs and inspires you,” says Heather Jenkinson, an interior designer based in London, who says she often steps in as the linchpin between arguing couples who have hired her creative expertise. “Once you divert the energy away from who’s winning or losing the argument, to how you can make it work together, then you have progress.”

Jenkinson says the key to couples keeping arguments at bay when it comes to decorating decisions is to make sure you both voice your opinions on what you would and wouldn’t like, and compromise, so you each get a chance to inject your individual styles in different parts of your home. Luckily my own experience of merging two styles into one home has been without complication (so far) – my fiancé trusts my judgement and we appear to share similar tastes that haven’t clashed (yet).

But while he’s expressed relief that he can confidently trust I won’t cover our home in Cath Kidston florals, which we both loathe, he has still vetoed a few of my product selections (coloured glasses from Toast and, bizarrely, a simple wire letter holder from Rockett St George). Similarly, there’s one or two things of his choice I’ve vetoed too – namely, a boring black coffee table which will be going on eBay soon.

But despite the coffee table debacle, we both have a say in what will go in our new home and nothing gets ordered without us agreeing on it first. So far, it seems to be working; battles on the style home front have been almost non- existent.

But for couples who just can’t stand each other’s design choices – what then?

Jenkinson says finding common ground in your dislikes is a winning way to stop arguing and lighten the mood (nothing brings a couple together like a collective session of taking the mick out of hideous things you’d both never buy). “Often, it’s your dislikes that will unite you,” she says. “Keep a sense of humour between you. A little bit of it goes a long way.”

Q: When is a Wood Burning Stove a Cooker and a Boiler?….

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A: When it is a Hillandale Sovrana.
The Hillandale Sovrana is a woodburning stove cooker with the option to come with an integrated boiler, sometimes referred to as the Therma Sovrana. This allows the stove to not only be environmentally friendly, and warm the room, but act as an effective cooker and heat a boiler that can heat hot water systems and radiators too, basically using the heat emitted by a stove as efficiently and effectively as possible.

The Hillandale Sovrana Cooker comes in a stylish black finish and has chrome fender and handle detailing, which creates quite a contemporary feature in your home/kitchen. The cooker has several controls to enable you to get the best from the stove; these controls include primary, secondary and damper controls. Now, these may sound complicated but they are quite straight forward and easily explained in the owner’s manuals but to briefly explain they controls allows you user to control air flow to the fire, around the fire and from the fire, this allows the fire within the stove to slowly, moderately or fiercely burn depending on the needs at the time. This may seem like sales spiel, but with this kind of control allows the user to get the most out of this kind of stove, if you were lucky enough to own a Hillandale Sovrana you would want to know how to keep the radiators warm throughout the night, have a supply of warm water in the morning and for me most importantly, be able to create a culinary delight for yourself or your  loved ones (flash fry some scallops or slow roast some pork etc)………hmm I’m slightly hungry now!!

All in all it’s a lovely looking stove cooker, and with the option to have an integrated boiler makes it more than just the average range cooker. Due to the size and nature of the Sovrana it won’t be a cooker for everyone, but everyone will surely appreciate the styling and functionality of such a stove.

Countertop Dishwasher : Small in Size but Big on Results.

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A Countertop Dishwasher has to be the supreme example of getting the most out of a small package. In a space as big as a microwave oven you can wash up to 4 place settings of dishes, effectively and efficiently. It is truly amazing that so many features found in normal sized dishwashers can be squeezed into such a compact kitchen appliance – but it is true. If you simply don’t need to wash large numbers of plates, bowls and pans all at once then a countertop dishwasher can be the perfect solution. Typically only 17 inches tall, they sit on a kitchen work surface, fitting nicely under an overhead cabinet. They can clean a whole load of dishes using about 2 gallons of water, far less than someone would use manually washing them.

If you’ve never seen or heard of countertop dishwashers then you may be skeptical that such tiny appliances can really work. Read on, and you will see that they not only work, but do a fantastic job. Just think of them as small, compact versions of the typical full-sized built-in dishwasher that you find in most kitchens today. Unbelieveably, almost every feature that you might wish to find in a normal dishwasher is also available in the countertop models. Plus you will see that they have quite a few unique benefits over the bigger dishwashers. Some can manage to handle plates up to 11 inches wide, so don’t be too quick to cross them off your list.

How Does it Work?

Functionally, there is no difference between a countertop and a full-sized dishwasher. They clean dishes by blasting them with a series of very hot water jets. This is combined with detergent designed specifically to dissolve the food and grease found on plates and bowls. Apart from size, the only real differences appear when you look at how the water gets in and out of a countertop dishwasher.

Instead of being permanently plumbed into the sink and drain underneath a kitchen work surface, a countertop dishwasher is usually placed on top of the counter. Then it is simply connected to the sink faucets through hoses that you attach before using it. Everything else depends upon the particular brand or model that you buy. Some have heaters that get the water super hot (140 – 160 F), others rely upon the temperature of the hot water that comes from the kitchen faucet. Some have food grinders, others rely more upon filters that you clean regularly. There really is a large number of features that you must understand before you buy a countertop dishwasher.

Instead of the features available, the decision to choose a countertop dishwasher is most likely to be based upon the other factors that are described below.

Is a Countertop Dishwasher a Good Idea?

The obvious reason for buying a countertop dishwasher is that you do not have the space for any other kind. Even the portable dishwashers or compact dishwashers still take up quite a lot of space in the kitchen. Cleaning dishes in a countertop appliance is very convenient and only takes a minute or two to connect up and be ready to wash. For the sake of a little space on your work surface, you can avoid having to dedicate one of your cabinets to becoming a dishwasher, or having to remodel your kitchen.

A perfect example of this situation is living in a rented apartment where you typically can’t just redesign your kitchen area even if you did want to. Another advantage here is that, when it is time to move you just grab the dishwasher and take it with you to the next apartment.

Another time when the extra small size is useful, is for those people who own a RV. Perhaps the epitome of the idea of portable dishwashng! Being lightweight also means that the countertop dishwasher can be stored somewhere in the RV and only brought out when needed.

Even if you do have space for a built-in dishwasher in your kitchen, you still have to think about how you will use a dishwasher. If there are just one or two people who rarely cook then you may just not need a full-sized version. If you are really only looking at a couple of breakfast bowls, 1 or 2 place settings and some coffee cups every day then a countertop dishwasher may be all the size that you need. This is important to understand and evaluate because a countertop dishwasher can save you money on both water costs and electricity. Over the years, these savings can be significant.

In fact, the cost savings alone are a good reason why some people have a countertop dishwasher in addition to their built-in model. Some households only have large numbers of dishes to clean at certain periods. For example, a working couple may only manage to cook big meals at the weekend. Others might only have larger meals occasionally. Most of the time they only need the small dishwasher.

There Must be a Downside

Yes, there are downsides that have to be considered before you buy a countertop dishwasher. The main one is price. Although very small, and usually less expensive, they do still cost a decent amount of money. If you are going to be spending money on a countertop dishwasher and a built-in model is only a little bit more money then maybe you should go for the larger model.

This is where you might really have to do some homework and figure out what the cost savings will be between the countertop dishwasher and the other versions. You will also have to honestly evaluate your real requirements about a dishwasher and how you will use it. This website will guide you how to do this but it is only you who can make the final decision. Look through the DishwasherGuru articles for advice.

It is worth noting that many full-sized dishwashers today have a feature that allows you to clean the dishes in only the top rack. This can give you the same water and energy savings that a countertop dishwasher can give you. So you could have the benefits of the smaller type of dishwasher, yet have the option of using the entire dishwasher when you want to.

The ‘biggest’ issue that you will probably have is the capacity of the dishwasher. Although, you would buy a countertop dishwasher specifically for small loads of dishes, you have to accept that you might have items that just won’t fit. This is okay if you are prepared for this. Make sure to check that all of the items you will clean regularly can be accomodated.

Buying a Countertop Dishwasher – More Things to Think About

This appliance is going to sit on top of your counter. This means that there won’t be anything to stop any noise it makes from bouncing around your kitchen. So find out at a store or by reading the sound ratings just how noisy it will be.

Manufacturers are aware that some consumers aren’t too thrilled about having a dishwasher sitting out in plain view on their work surface. Some design the appliance to resemble a microwave oven. Since they are a similar size this can be a very effective way to ‘hide’ it.

Remember that you are going to have to connect up the hoses and power cord every time you use it. For most people this is a minor irritation but worth keeping in mind.

Buying a Dishwasher Online

Consumers today have a huge benefit when it comes to buying a dishwasher, they can shop online. This can be a particular advantage when you are looking for a countertop dishwasher because not every store is going to stock any. Even if you do find a store that has one, the range of choices might be very limited. However, online you have ‘every’ store available to you.

The Igenix 4 place countertop dishwasher is the perfect addition for a compact kitchen fitting on your counter top and will hold a standard 4 place setting. The Dishwasher comes with 3 Place settings, Electronic controls, 5 Programmes, Program indicator, Quick wash, Natural drying, White baskets, Water softener, Salt and rinse aid indicator light, Anti leak protection and a cold water fill. The Igenix dishwasher also features an energy efficiency class ‘B’, a washing performance class ‘B’ and a drying performance class ‘C’. The dishwasher consists of a water consumption rate of 10.4 litres and an energy consumption rate of 0.61 kW/h per cycle. Igenix have also provided this counter top dishwasher with a 1 Year Guarantee and now available from House 2 Home Megastore

Save up to £300 with these home energy saving tips …

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Like most households across the UK, you’re probably starting notice the effect of recent energy price rises on your monthly budget. Industry figures have shown that wholesale gas prices have increased by more than 70% in 2008 alone.

On the plus side though, these staggering price hikes have created a highly competitive energy market with energy suppliers desperate to maintain existing customers and tempt new ones away from their competitors to maintain profits.

This buyers market together with the fact that much of our energy consumption is wasted, means that most UK homes can save up to £300 a year by simply comparing energy prices and making small changes to daily habits.

Are you paying too much for gas and electricity?

The difference between the cheapest and most expensive gas and electricity supplier can be as much as £100 per year.

If you’ve never changed your energy supplier or not compared prices recently, you could make huge savings with minimal effort by switching to a more competitive company.

Its simple to compare energy suppliers online and switching is easier than ever. But like any consumer purchase, you should follow a few guidelines before signing on the dotted line. Ask yourself these questions when comparing energy companies:

1.Are there any hidden charges?
2.Do the prices quoted include VAT?
3.Are you eligible for any special offers, incentives or discounts?
4.What is the supplier’s complaints record?

You don’t have to switch supplier to make savings. If you pay your energy bills by cheque you could save £50-£60 per year if you pay by direct debit instead. Switching to an online account can save you even more.

Small changes equal big energy savings

The biggest long-term savings come from changing your energy habits and being more energy efficient around the home.

As you start to see savings its a good idea to re-invest this money in energy saving products and appliances to reduce your energy consumption even further. The long-term savings will more than pay for the cost of purchasing and installing these measures.

Start using these no-cost energy saving tips energy saving ideas around your home and measure the reduction in your next few energy bills. The more you apply the more you’ll save.

Heating Tips

  • Set your heating to go off 30 minutes before you leave the house, and come on again 30 minutes before you expect to return.
  • Turn the room thermostat down by 1 degree. This can save you around £30 a year.
  • Make sure your radiators are not obstructed by curtains or furniture.
  • Draw your curtains at dusk to help keep the heat generated inside your rooms.
  • Insulate your loft space and consider cavity wall insulation too.

Electrical Appliances

  • Use energy efficient light bulbs which use less energy and last up to ten times longer than standard bulbs.
  • Turn off household appliances such as microwaves, TVs, videos, music systems, and computers when not in use, as they continue to use energy when they are left on standby.


  • Don’t leave the fridge door open and try to avoid putting hot or warm food straight into the fridge as this increases the energy required to keep the contents cold.
  • Defrost your fridge frequently and check the door seals. Avoid putting your fridge next to heat generating appliances such as an oven or boiler. If possible, keep the freezer in a cool room or garage.

Washing Machines, Tumble Dryers and Dishwashers

  • Use a low temperature setting and only wash full loads or use a half-load or economy programme.
  • In summer, dry your clothes outside rather than using a tumble dryer.
  • When drying your clothes indoors, use a clothes rail instead of a radiator as this stops the heat from reaching the rest of the room.
  • Modern dishwashers use less energy and water than washing up by hand.


  • Use a pan which is the same size as the cooker ring to prevent heat loss.
  • Use a lid on saucepans where possible, so the contents heat up faster and require less energy.
  • Consider using pressure cookers, steamers and microwaves which use less energy.

Hot Water

  • When using a kettle, only boil as much water as you need.
  • If you live in a hard water area, limescale can effect the efficiency of your kettle. Look out for a buildup of limescale in your kettle and treat with vinegar or descaling solutions.
  • Consider turning the thermostat on your hot water tank down to 60 degrees centigrade which is a comfortable temperature for most people and will save on your heating costs.
  • If you have a standard shower it will use around 40% of the water required for a bath.