Essential Tips For Moving Home

Are you planning to move home? I personally have moved over a dozen times in my life, including property purchases and sales, to and from rentals, as a single, in a couple, and with Squiggle. Our last three moves have been since becoming a parent and that is not easy, that’s for sure! Moving can be stressful whether you have a family in tow or not, but there are ways to help ensure a smooth(er) move. Here are some tips, based on our experiences…

Essential Tips For Moving Home text with image of hand holding keys

House Hunting

There are so many tips for house hunting, I think this would need a post of its own! In very brief summary; consider the area, local facilities, what the neighbourhood and that particular road is like, the house itself (layout, type of build/ style, state of repair etc…), your actual neighbours and so on. Ask questions of the vendor to find out why they are selling too.

First Time Buyers

As first time buyers, we were a little over eager and rushed into it somewhat. We also totally underestimated the costs involved!

My advice would be to haggle and don’t be afraid to walk away. Take your time to think about what you really want from a home; what your priorities are and what you are prepared to compromise on. Take into account the cost of surveys, solicitor fees, stamp duty and actual moving day costs, as well as any other expenses, and make sure you have enough set aside for any unexpected eventualities too!

House with a for sale sign

Buying and Selling

We found buying and selling hugely stressful and had a horrendous experience. We made alot of rookie mistakes, but we were also quite unlucky, and I think we certainly should have chosen our solicitor more carefully too, to be honest. I won’t go into the finer details on this post (maybe one day!) but it’s not an experience I would like to repeat!

All of my above advice for first time buyers applies here too. Remember there will be greater expense, especially in solicitors fees, if you are buying and selling at the same time. Make sure you have a good solicitor and keep in regular communication with your chain.

If you need to pull out during the process for any reason, do not let other members of the chain pressure you into proceeding regardless, if your reasons for doing so can not be fully resolved. However, if the chain starts to crumble elsewhere down the line, see if there is any way of helping to resolve the issues as this is mutually beneficial. The bottom line is, moving home is a huge expense, so only go ahead if and when you are 100% sure.

Renting

We have rented many homes, some short term and some longer term. We rented when we were younger but we also rent our family home now too. These days we are very specific about what we are looking for but before we had a child to consider, we were somewhat more versatile!

If you are renting, you need to think about whether it is a long term let (worth asking about the landlord’s situation in our experience), is it furnished or unfurnished, and do they allow pets. If it is a shared house, you also need to consider who your housemates will be of course. If it is a family home and/ or long term let especially, you are also likely to want to take into account the tips mentioned for house hunting above too.

Practical Tips For The Actual Move

My top tip for the actual move is to enlist plenty of help! Depending on how much stuff you have, how busy you are, and how far you are moving, largely dictates how much help, and what type, you are likely to need.

Squiggle and Andy carrying items from van

Many people, including ourselves, pack up their own belongings to cut costs and save some money, rather than paying a full service removal company. We have often hired a van ourselves too, especially if we are only moving locally. However, I would recommend getting some friends or family to help, or alternatively hire a man with a van to assist. We did this before and it certainly relieved some of the stress!

For example Man and Van services – The man van operates in the London area and offers a cost effective solution to moving home or office. There is a choice of a smaller van if you have less stuff or a larger Luton van for a whole house move. As long as you can fit all your belongings and furniture into one load, or if it is just a very short journey (for example we once moved just a few streets away) then this often a more economical solution that a larger removal company and more practical than doing it entirely yourself.

Another tip is to be organised. Arrange to get the keys as early as you can in the day to allow yourself more moving time. With rentals you can allow yourself a small overlap, if finances and circumstances permit, to take the pressure off somewhat. Bare in mind when buying a house though, the keys are not usually released until the solicitor has received your money. So make sure they will be available and easily contactable on the day!

Do you have any top tips for moving? Tell me in comments!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Do You Know What Stuff Not To Flush? (A Really Useful Guide To Drains)

Do you know what should – and more to the point, shouldn’t – go down your drains? A whopping 93.9% of people declare that they are confident knowing what should and shouldn’t be poured down the drain or flushed down the toilet, leaving only 6.1% saying they are not too sure.

Infographic % of people knowing what should flush or pour down drains

But are they correct? UKDN have conducted some research to find out more about what people put down their drains – What The Flush? – and discovered that many people don’t quite have their facts straight after all.

Do You Know What Stuff Not To Flush? (A Really Useful Guide To Drains)

Down the Drain

When asked what items they pour down the sink, almost a quarter admitted to pouring cooking oil (24.7%) and coffee granules (24.7%) down the sink. Worse still, just under half the people surveyed – 43.5% of them – pour sauces down their drain. Other culprits included meat fat (22.3% of people) and actual food leftovers (18.4%). So it seems some people don’t have it quite right after all…

What do you pour down the sink infographic

Bathroom Habits

The research also looked into what goes on in the bathroom; which items people flush away or pour down their bathroom drains. Whilst I was less surprised to see that 18.6% confess that their hair goes down the plug hole, I was disappointed to find out that a small minority of people still flush away their sanitary wear (10.6% for tampons and 8.6% towels) and was even more shocked to discover that 5.5% of people flush away nappies, 3.7% cigarette butts and 4.7% also dispose of condoms this way too?! Wet wipes are a massive issue as well, so it was sad to see 14.1% of people are still yet to get the message about those.

What items do you flush or pour down bathroom drains? Infographic.

So what’s the issue?

There has been plenty of media attention about wet wipes lately, the main problem being that they are made of non biodegradeable plastic. Packaging is often misleading too, stating they are flushable, which causes a huge amount of concern for our environment. Some research suggests wet wipes account for as much as 93% of blockages in UK sewers and many campaigners would like to see a ban on them altogether.

But, of course, it is not just the wet wipes that are the issue here. Even the kitchen items which, whilst in theory might seem less of an issue as at least these are more organic matter, still block up drains. Oil can solidify, food lumps together, sauces congeal, and so on.

All of this combined is then the real major issue; because put together it creates a solid mass known as a fatberg. A fatberg is a congealed lump in a sewer system formed by the combination of non-biodegradable solid matter, such as wet wipes, with grease or cooking fat. They have become an increasing problem in recent years. The remains of a massive fatberg found in London sewers is even on display at The Museum of London to try to highlight the problem!

How would you feel if a fatberg was discovered in your street? Infographic

In addition to this issue, other single-use plastics, which never break down completely and cause huge issues for marine life, are also being sent off to pollute our environment. Along with the various other items, if they don’t turn into fatbergs and block our sewers on the way, still end up somewhere they shouldn’t be! All of which leads to damaging effects on our environment, water and wildlife. One way or another, it causes an issue.

Furthermore, when our drains get blocked at home, harsh chemicals are often then required to unclog them too, leading to yet further pollution. Clearly the best solution would be to just stop doing all this in the first place!

Plug hole

Top Tips

So here are my top tips to help keep drains unblocked and to develop more environmentally- friendly habits in your home…

• Avoid putting oil, fat, sauce, coffee and food waste down your kitchen drain by disposing of it correctly. For oil, fat and sauce either let it solidify then tip it into the trash, or pour it into a non- recyclable container and throw it away. Small amounts of solidified waste can be put in with food waste in some areas – check with your local council. Coffee granules and all food leftovers also go in your food waste bin.

• Keep hair out of your bathroom drains by brushing it thoroughly before you shower. Use a plug hole guard if you are prone to shedding and ensure you remove any trapped hair then discard it before it has a chance to disappear into your drain.

• If you use coconut oil (or any other type of natural oil) to wash your hair, try to rinse it off into a bowl so that it doesn’t wash down your drain. Failing that, run the hot tap for several minutes straight after rinsing, provided the tap comes out with very hot water. Or pour boiling water down the drain straight after use.

• Try to replace disposables with reusables if at all possible. If you do use single-use items, dispose of them correctly. This usually means in the bin, unless it can be recycled!

• Use home-made unblocker if needed. Try using baking soda and white vinegar to clear your drains. It will fizz up and create bubbles instantly; pour it down the drain as quickly as possible. Follow it up with boiling water later on.

• Contact UKDN drain unblocking service if you are experiencing issues with blocked drains. Sometimes a professional is needed!

I hope this advice is helpful. Have you discovered any useful drainage tips? Let me know in comments!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Brighten Up Walls With Some Wallsauce!

Do you rooms look a little dull? Are you trying to find a fun way to brighten up your walls? Or even trying to find new ways to improve your wellbeing? Whether you are designing the ideal child’s bedroom, creating a tranquil bedroom environment, decorating your cosy home office space, or perhaps even making a sensory therapy room – Wallsauce wallpaper murals might well be your perfect solution!

Brighten up walls with Wallsauce

Their beautiful murals will help you to create the perfect environment, whatever look you are trying to achieve. There are over a million designs to choose from; including fine art, fun kids murals, funky patterns and stunning scenes. You can also upload your own photography too!

I spent ages browsing their website just for fun, mentally redesigning every room in our home! There are so many amazing images to choose from. Here are some of my favourites…

Landscape Theme

The collection of landscape theme wallpapers are just so stunning, I literally couldn’t find a single one I wouldn’t love on my wall! Check out the waterfalls, they are particularly gorgeous. The Iceland photos grabbed my attention especially; they are literally the images I have in my head when I am practising visualisation and meditating. Simply beautiful. Here are just a few of the landscape choices available…

Yosemite landscape wallpaper by Wallsauce

Sunset jetty beach wall mural by Wallsauce

River sunset wallpaper by Wallsauce

Beach Scenes

I have written before how important I feel being around water is for our mental health; a concept known as Blue Mind. Therefore I adore the beach scenes and I think they would be fantastic for bringing an air of relaxation to any room in the home. I can imagine sitting in our lounge feeling like we are actually sat on the beach!

Windswept beach mural by Wallsauce

Tropical beach wall mural by Wallsauce

Forest and Tree Wallpaper Murals

Of course I definitely couldn’t go without mentioning this theme! I love the idea of bringing the sights of our natural environment into our home, and these tree images are so serene. They would be lovely in an office space, or in the bedroom – it would feel like camping every night! This birch tree scene is my absolute favourite…

Birch forest sunlight wallpaper

Kids Murals

There are loads of kids murals to choose from. No matter what your child’s interests, no doubt you can pick out the perfect decor for their room. I spotted a fab flamingo design that my flamingo-mad friend’s daughter would love for example! The fairytale scenes are fabulous for catching a young child’s imagination. Or maybe choose a map of the world for some educational value. Squiggle would have loved this arctic ocean scene when she was little…

Arctic puzzle kids wallpaper mural

Fairytale mural in a nursery

World map wallpaper mural

Sensory Room Ideas

If you are creating a sensory room in your home, some of these wallpaper murals would be brilliant for it. Obviously it would depend on the child and what you are trying to achieve – for example, whether it is a low visual chillout area to avoid overstimulation, or a highly stimulating, high sensory input for a sensory seeker – but there are some super funky designs and some nice calm ones too. I love this blue wallpaper if you are looking for something that is simple but not entirely plain…

Blue wallpaper

Whatever look you are going for, in any room, these Wallsauce wallpaper murals will jazz up the space and make designing your home much easier – and way more fun!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post. However, I have expressed my honest opinions about these designs! 

The Hidden Costs Of Moving You Should Keep In Mind

Moving homes can be an extremely exciting time in your life. It signifies that the next chapter is on its way, and often this might mean an upgrade in your living situation. If not an upgrade in the physical size of your home or the quality of the area you live in, it might be upgrading your social situation, such as living with your beloved while about to start a family. Moving is an extremely wonderful time for most people, but it does require that we keep aware of all factors we must pay attention to.

Of course, one of the first considerations people think of when moving are the costs involved. This is not surprising; moving home can be very expensive. However, so can the hidden costs, or rather, the costs that seem to spring up the moment you decide to buy. These amounts can build up quickly, so it’s critical to plan for them in advance. Here some of the costs you need to keep in mind when moving home…

The Hidden Costs Of Moving You Should Keep In Mind title house image

Stamp Duty

Stamp duty is not particularly a hidden cost, but it can be one that you might not keep in mind. If your home is worth a certain value, the mere act of moving paperwork and taking care of the application process will warrant its own tax. This means you need to calculate this in advance, and you can do so online. This will likely need to be accommodated for, and can obviously be added onto the final house valuation as one of those pre-emptive costs you understand and accept before making an offer. Good property agents will help you make this decision, but so will your own careful calculation. If you plan in advance, there’s no reason why this should limit the kind of property you can afford and search for from the beginning.

Moving Insurance

Moving your belongings from one area to another can be fraught with dangers to your property. Of course, for the most part removal companies are careful and willing to accommodate any and all requests that mean something to you. However, it’s also important to understand that you might need to pay a decent amount ensuring your goods are insured for the entire trip. For short distances, this might not be that much to consider. If moving long distance or even internationally, the cost of transmitting your goods will be much higher, and your insurance might even run into the thousands. It’s important to also factor this into the price of your home, as it’s likely when buying you’ll need to move by a certain date. Contacting your local removals company with the capacity to go long distance is important, because they can likely quote you an amount you can refer to in the future when it comes to budgeting your move.

Notary Public Services

If you are moving internationally, you might well need Notary Public Services to help with authorising legal documents or opening a new bank account, such as the services offered by Prosperity Law. This is another cost to be factored in, but one that could be essential to ensure a smooth move – either as a non UK citizen entering the country, or as a UK citizen opening a bank account abroad, for example.

Damage Collateral

This might not seem like a consideration, but often transporting goods ourselves, especially long distance, can lead to us damaging our own goods. When we damage our own goods we are responsible for them, and mostly no amount of insurance will help us with that. The removals company might mvoe your goods in pristine condition, but t’s always best to consider your own failings in this regard. This is because moving is quite a complex process. You need to not only manuevre your belongings but pack them, transport them and unpack them. It’s not uncommon for a person to drop, damage or incorrectly store items and thus lose out on their value. For example, storing a box in a garage susceptible to moisture might run your sofa cushion covers that you had paid a premium for.

This is not something that is guaranteed or that can even be assigned a set value from the outset, but it can be important to keep in mind. At the very least, having a working extra budget assigned for personal damages can help soften the blow if these things do occur.

Energy Tariff Costs

Of course, setting up your energy tariffs for your home will likely incur a set up charge, particularly if you’re hoping to switch providers. This can potentially take a few days to be provided in the first place also, so it’s important to keep in mind any extra considerations you might have in the first few days of moving. For example, it might be that no gas requires you to focus on takeout food or eating at restaurants – a fine and indulgent method of cheering yourself into your new home.

Some energy tariffs require payment in advance, while others might simply require a call out charge and a setup potential. This can be essentially important to consider when moving in, because you cannot evade this cost by any means at all.

Additional Setup Costs

There are many other costs that might come in apart from your usual energy tariffs. These might be your internet installations, your cable television provisions, and maybe even a payment to your local housing authority for a service rendered. For example, if living in a gated community you might be expected to contribute to the servicing of the front security station keeping your home safe. It could even be that your home has hidden damage in need of repair, such as a broken window or a damaged garage door. Again, allowing your working budget to work with you rather than against you in these circumstances can help you to no end.

In Summary

Before long you will find yourself set up and comfortable in your own home, but that might require some extra financial investment that you might not be realizing when excited to move in. Be sure to keep a large working budget to help you skirt around any issues, and to identify and calculate the costs that might be the most important for you to resolve.

With theses simple tips, you are sure to move into your new place without hassle or worry.

Do you have any moving cost tips to help plan finances and manage money? Tell me in comments!

* This is a collaborative post.

Shower Or Bath? The Big Bathroom Debate!

Which do you prefer? Shower or bath? Or does it depend on your mood? And/ or maybe the amount of time you have?

Shower Or Bath? The Big Bathroom Debate! title on faded water background image

Personally I love showers! They are quick, easy and refreshing. I don’t have enough time for a long soak in the bath. But to be perfectly honest, even pre Squiggle when I did have far more spare time, I still rarely picked baths; I would almost always opt for the shower instead. I think I just get bored too easily! I would rather spend whatever precious few moments I manage to grab relaxing and pampering myself in other ways.

So therefore, in my opinion, showers are ideal; they use less water, save time and just seem more convenient. Plus I love the smell of the fresh water as it pours down from the shower head and I enjoy the feel of the ‘waterfall’ on my skin. It is both relaxing and refreshing at the same time. I even meditate in there sometimes, it is the perfect place for visualisation!

Here are my reasons why I think showers are better:

• Saves time

• Costs less money

• More environmentally friendly/ less water usage

• Convenient

• I can’t hear the chaos going on in the rest of the house with the shower on!

• I am marginally less likely to be disturbed in the short amount of time it takes to shower!!!

• Sensory experience

Shower image

On the other hand, Squiggle’s dad prefers baths. He sees a shower as a necessity to be clean, smell good (or less bad – his words!) and often to wake himself up, whereas a bath is more of a luxury; somewhere to relax and shut off from the world. His top tip is to add bath salts or magnesium flakes.

He also wrote this tongue in cheek (I think anyway?!) list on why he thinks baths are better:

• Bath salts

• Bath bombs

• Bath paints (I’ll leave this open for debate as to whether he actually means for himself or for kids!)

• Face packs

• Bubbles

• Snacks and drinks

• Reading, music, tv

• Selfies

• Talking to people; either through the door, in the room or on the phone

• Seeing how long you can hold your breath under water

A bubbly bath

Hmmm, some of those can be done in the shower too though! And some are better out of the bath in my opinion! (Wet ipad anyone?)

Anyway, moving on…

As for Squiggle? Well, she prefers showers but she does also like to sit down too! So as I mentioned before, walk-in showers with seating would be perfect for her! But as we don’t have one of those at home, she simply uses our over-bath shower and just sits under the running water in an empty bath! Does anyone else do this? Or just her?!

Walk in shower with seating

Since the results are somewhat therefore tied within our small family of 3, I took to twitter to solve the debate! So which is more popular; bath or shower? The results are in! Drum roll please…

Showers are the clear winner with a whopping 88% of votes, in what was quite possibly the most pointless family debate we have ever had! But still fun… and dare I admit, actually quite interesting!

What do you prefer – baths or showers? Tell me in comments!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

My Dream Bathroom

Have you ever been wandering around somewhere like the Ideal Home Exhibition, or visited someone else’s home even, and started thinking about what your ideal bathroom would be like? Well, that’s me right now! This is how I would describe my dream bathroom…

A photo of a spacious bright bathroom with walk in shower. Title My Dream Bathroom written above.

A Decent Size

Ok, it doesn’t need to be huge. But I would like it to have a space to sit and to actually be able to move around, as well as some bathroom storage. One of our previous homes had the tiniest bathroom you have ever seen. I honestly didn’t think that I would mind too much – until we actually moved in and I realised how annoying it really was!

Storage

I mentioned this already. But storage is a must! Our current bathroom lacks any shelves or cabinets, which means that the windowsill and bath end up looking cluttered, plus our medicines are therefore in a kitchen cupboard downstairs instead. I hate not being organised! However, I will even go as far as to specify that what I really mean is practical storage – not the kind where you bang your head getting out of the bath or trip over it everytime you walk in… been there and done that way too many times!

Walk-in Shower

I love walk-in showers. When we went to Vegas several years back, our suite had the biggest walk- in shower ever; it was amazing! Honestly, I could have spent all day in there. Squiggle loved it too; she took her bath toys in and pretty much treated it much like her own personal splash park! She prefers showers, as do I, but she also really likes to sit down under the water as well – so a seat in the shower would be ideal for her.

A photo of a walk- in shower

Privacy

My dream bathroom would have privacy. In particular, it would have a working lock. I get that the child safe locks on family bathrooms are really good for some scenarios. But do you know how easy those things are to just bust straight open without even realising the door was ever actually locked?! Ask Squiggle, she will tell you… since she has enough experience of doing that to me! And no one banging on the door either. Ok, I know…too far fetched… but I did say this was a dream bathroom!

Underfloor Heating

I would love for my bathroom to have underfloor heating. It is relatively cheap to heat and it feels so cosy! Enough said.

Eco- Friendly

Last but not least, my dream bathroom would be eco- friendly! So in addition to the underfloor heating, I would like there to be plenty of natural light and energy efficient lighting for when it is needed. But also, the biggest environmental consideration with bathrooms, is of course water usage. So anything that helps conserve water would be a must for my dream bathroom to be truly complete!

What would your dream bathroom look like? Tell me in comments!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Easy Ways to Cut the Amount of Energy You Use Each Month

Whether you want to do it for the good of the planet or the good of your bank balance, taking steps to spend less on energy is definitely worthwhile. It’s also a lot easier to do than many people think. We’re all guilty of wasting energy and using more than we need to. That’s just the way it is, but that doesn’t mean your habits can’t change. It’s more than possible to make changes to how you consume energy, and we’re about to prove that right now…

Easy Ways to Cut the Amount of Energy You Use Each Month title with image of house made of leaves

Go LED

LED light bulbs are so much more energy efficient than the vast majority of other bulbs out there. If you’re still using old halogen bulbs, that’s something that’s really got to change. They use a lot of energy, and all of that’s being wasted when you could so easily switch to LEDs without any drawbacks of negatives involved at all. Every light in your home should be an LED.

Shut Your Doors and Close Your Curtains

Heating is a major way in which people waste energy in the home. If you only focus on heating the rooms that you’re using, you will save so much money and energy during the winter months. And you can do that even better by closing the curtains to stop heat escaping and also shutting doors so that the heat doesn’t escape into the rest of your home.

When Dealing With Frozen Foods, Use the Microwave Less

This is a very simple but effective trick. When you have frozen foods that you need to defrost before you can cook, simply remember to take them out of the freezer and sit them out on the countertop about 8 to 12 hours before you plan on using that food for preparation. It’s so much more energy efficient than defrosting in the microwave because it doesn’t use any energy at all.

Install More Energy Efficient Windows

Your windows will have a big impact on how much energy you use on heating your home. By improving the quality of your windows, you will be able to get away with spending less on energy each and every month. Find a company that can offer you replacement double glazing as soon as possible and start reaping the rewards of these changes. They’ll pay for themselves in no time.

A photo of windows

Wash in Colder Water

Washing your clothes is obviously another necessity, and that’s why many people think that there is no way for them to save energy in this area. That’s simply not true though. By washing your clothes in colder water, you will achieve the same results in most instances, and you will use a lot less energy.

Everyone can use less energy each and every month if they’re willing to put in the work to make it happen. You don’t need to spend money on energy that really isn’t needed. As the tips and ideas here prove, there are alternatives to energy inefficiency. Why not start making these changes right away?

*This is a collaborative post.

Freshen Up Your Home For Spring – The Easy Way 

Could that be a hint of spring in the breeze? After a winter that’s felt like it would never end, we’re all keenly awaiting the lighter evenings, less glacial temperatures and perky blooms emerging brought on by Spring. It’s no wonder that we often think of freshening up our homes at the same time. So what’s the best way to transform your home into a light, breezy haven for the season of fresh starts?

Freshen Up Your Home For Spring- The Easy Way title with picture of a tidy well designed living room

Rearrange Your Layout

As we emerge from our cosy hibernation lairs, it’s a great time to revisit the layout of each room and check that the set up and furniture are still fit for purpose. Think about the ideal purpose of your home. Do you need to create an area to study or for a home office out of that wasted corner? Would you like to make your home more welcoming for guests by adding corner sofas and modular seating? Make sure that your home is supporting the kind of life and activities you do now.

 

Bring in some Green

Adding a fresh burst of greenery with some potted plants or a terrarium. Bringing some of the outdoors in helps to add breeziness and a feeling of freshness, while sculptural pots and planters add a splash of colour and style.

Swap To Lighter Fabrics

If you’ve been dressing your home in faux fur rugs, knitted throws and velvet curtains for winter, being the feeling of spring in by swapping to airier textures such as linen or alpaca. Adding a jolt of patterned with a new area rug or some fresh blinds will also liven up a neutral decor.

Repaint Sills, Skirtings and Doors

Freshening up the paintwork details in your home is quite simple but can really lift a space and make it feel new. A simple, hardwearing white gloss along mouldings and baseboards will make your wall colour look fresh and your house well cared for. If you fancy a new approach, painting the outer edge of interior doors in an eye catching shade like bright orange or deep blue can add a lot of dimension to a decorating scheme.

Sort Your Storage

If the light of spring has made you look around and see piles of clutter, it’s a great time to streamline and make a pile to donate or recycle. For what’s left, look into some new storage options. Could you add built in shelves to a disused alcove or maybe get some bright fabric storage boxes to tidy away DVDs and magazines? Getting more organised always makes you feel refreshed and ready for the season ahead.

Light The Way

If you don’t have tonnes of budget, a relatively small way to make a big impact is by replacing your light fittings. Tired old pendant lights can be replaced with modern options featuring accents of copper or cream enamel. Light fittings are usually quite easy to change around and have the power to transform a space, especially if you opt for statement pieces that have a real impact.

*This is collaborative post.

Staging Your Home for Agent Photoshoots: Ten Simple Tips

In case you decided to sell your home and move on, you want to get your house sold as soon as possible. The first step of getting people through the door is making sure that the photos created by your agent or their photographer show the best features of the property. Leave the technical details to the experts, but make sure you stage your home in a way that the photos help you sell it.

Get the Lighting Right

For a good photo, you will need to have enough natural light. Look at the weather forecast, and schedule your appointment for a day when the sun is likely to shine. Make sure that the photographer turns up when you get the sun shining through the front windows, as this way your home will appear to be lighter and larger on the pictures. You might also want to check with the photographer whether or not they need some lights on or off, to make the most out of your pictures. Get Gorgeous Ready Made Curtains | Montgomery designs to control the light in every room and create a matching style before the photos are taken. The more natural light you can use, the better your home will look on the brochure.

Declutter

If you have an office in the corner of the living room, it is time to hide the computer and the files. Make sure that your potential buyers or tenants can see plenty of empty space on the photo and put their imagination into work, thinking about arranging their own furniture. If you have old unsightly items in the house, it might be time to pay a visit to the local recycling centre or the charity shop. Don’t display old personal mugs in the kitchen either, and consider removing your kids’ paintings from the fridge temporarily too. Create a sterile and fresh look for the brochure, without your footsteps being visible on the images.

Get Rid of Personal Items

You don’t want your letters, certificates, diploma, or anything else displayed on the walls that gives out too much about you. People generally make judgments about the homeowner, and you don’t want people to know your true identity, unless they are signing the agreement. Keep your own and your children’s information safe. Not all people who will turn up on viewings or look at photos are potential buyers. Some of them are simply other homeowners looking for ideas or comparing your home to theirs. Stay out of the pictures as much as you can.

Absolutely No Pet Beds

Most buyers and potential tenants are discouraged by seeing a dog bed or a cat tree in the middle of the picture. Even if they are animal lovers, displaying these items can look unprofessional for them. If someone has pet hair allergies, they will simply not turn up, even if you clean your home thoroughly before viewings. Try to make all the reminders of current residents disappear before the pictures are taken, including the four-legged family members.

Tidy Up Your Kitchen

Stock image. Uncluttered spotless kitchen.

You will need to make your kitchen look organized and new. If you have to, move some of your small electricals into the garage or the garden shed to make your kitchen look bigger, do so. If you display your utensils and cups on the counter, and have a knife stand, you can move it somewhere else while the photos are being taken. Don’t move your larger appliances, such as your fridge, microwave, kettle, and toaster, but make sure that you are not giving the images the impression that the cupboards are not large enough to hold everything.

Clean and Empty Your Bathroom

Make your tiles in the kitchen and bathroom shiny, and remove any mats, blinds, and personal items. Your potential buyers or tenants would like to see the house in the state they will move in, and the fewer items you have on display the bigger your rooms will look. Get rid of the towels and the bathrobes, along with the cosmetic products, toothpaste, and toothbrush, so you can show the bathroom as an empty canvas. Pay attention to the grouts, as they can go grey or black in the bathroom, and if this shows in the pictures, your potential buyers will assume you have a mould problem and will not consider booking a viewing.

Take Furniture Away

In case you have too much furniture, your rooms will look smaller than they really are. Anything that looks out of place should be stored in the garage, or even in a self storage facility until the viewings are over, and you can get moving. Anything that is too old or looks tired can be removed. Even if you got an armchair from your grandmother and you don’t want to part from it, you can still relocate it temporarily. Look through the colour scheme of each room and search for items that don’t look right. Keep the design simple, and don’t distract your potential buyers or tenants by too many details, as this will make it harder for them to think clearly about their plans and future interior design.

Add Plants

Plants make your house look homely, and they are portable, so people looking at your property’s brochure will not think that they are going to take their space away. Adding a bit of greenery makes the pictures seem brighter and friendlier. Have a flower bouquet displayed in the window and decorate your mantelpiece with small green plants, such as cactuses. Anything that is small and has a decorative value can be a positive addition to the picture, and anything that looks out of place, too big, or old should go. As a general rule, try to have one plant in each room; either by the window, the sideboard, or the table.

Move Your Lamps

You might want to move your temporary lights and lamps when you have your picture taken for a better lighting solution. You need to consult with your agent or photographer about the optimum locations. You might be asked to move the bedside lights away, so the room looks larger. Bedroom sizes matter for potential buyers, so you have to do anything you can to make the space appear larger. You will also have to potentially change the direction of your spotlights in the kitchen and the landing, depending on where your photographer is taking the pictures from.

Make the Beds

Stock image. Tidy bedroom with made bed.

There is nothing more disappointing for potential buyers than a messy bed. You will need to make your bedroom look as if it was a hotel room designed to impress visitors. Get rid of hair, cat hair, and don’t leave any clothes out. Open the curtains and make them look symmetrical, allow natural light to enter. Leave some soft furnishing in the room, to make it look comfortable and cosy.

In Summary…

The secret to staging your home for the sales or rental brochure is to know and understand your target market. Talk to your agent or research the market to make sure you are not focusing on the wrong audience. Remove unnecessary clutter from the house, as less is more. Add some greenery and light, and do the spring cleaning. Take your personality out of the house, and allow your potential buyers to imagine their own designs in your space. Focus on soft furnishing, and make your home look bigger by removing furniture. Make sure that you don’t leave any sign of pets in the house when your photographer turns up.

* This is a collaborative post.

Are You In Your Dream Home?

This is a bit of a tough one to answer. Some people feel as though they’re in their dream home, but the area isn’t right, or the decor and layout just doesn’t feel right. Others feel they’re in their dream home, but there is just something better out there. It is so hard to settle on something when everyday there’s a new modern looking house on the market. Or a house that seems to be a better price in a better area than yours. So the answer to this question is no, you’re probably not in your dream home just yet. But you can find it! Here’s a few tips below…

Are You In Your Dream Home?

Knowing What You Want

Knowing what you actually want is the first step in making sure you find your dream home. If you’re already in a home, you should know what you like and what you don’t like about it. It might be the fact you need another bedroom and bathroom. It might be the fact you want a garden that has more sun in the day, or even just a bigger garden. It could be the location that is putting you off your current home. But what you’re starting to understand is that there’s always something that you wish could be better. That is when you start to realise you are in fact not in your dream home.

Shopping Around

Then you need to think about actually shopping around for what you want. It is easy enough for people to say, ‘I wish this was different’, or ‘I’d rather live there’, but if you don’t actually go out and look for the property of your dreams, then you will never find it! All you have to do is go on the various property search engines and see what’s on the market. Selling to buy a different property and get a new mortgage generally isn’t too difficult either, assuming your circumstances haven’t changed and your budget is realistic.

You may also find that there are houses now on the market for cheaper than you bought at, depending on when you purchased your property and the economic climate at the time. Housing prices fluctuate all the time, so if you buy and sell at the right time you could see yourself making a lot of money.

Moving

This is the final stage into getting yourself into your dream home. You’ll most likely have gone through this before, so you’ll know the ins and outs of what is involved. The first thing you’ll need to sort is how to move your stuff from A to B. People such as the mybekins Movers will be able to sort the logistics side of things. All you’ll need to do is sort out what to keep and what to throw away. The last thing you want to be doing is clogging up your new home with junk you no longer need, so it’s the perfect time to declutter!

So after reading this you should be a bit more clued up on how to make sure you’re in your dream home. Owning a home is an expensive game, so you might as well make sure it is perfect for you!

*This is a contributed post.