Homemade furniture and accessories add a personalised touch to the home. Learn how to upcycle oak beams to make your dining room stylish!
The terms recycling, repurposing, reclaiming and upcycling are batted about in the DIY industry. These terms are used often and whilst they all have their own specific meaning, they ultimately come down to the same thing – the reusing of materials, and furniture to create something brand new.
Much loved oak beam furniture can become unloved and dowdy if it has been sat around gathering dust for a while. It’s time to breathe new life into the furniture by giving it a little TLC.
Shabby chic furniture can give a room a stunning, contemporary feel. Shabby chic is where furniture and furnishings are chosen for their old appearance and signs of wear and tear, or where new items are distressed to achieve the appearance of an old antique piece.
There are several ways you can upcycle oak furniture, such as distressing, reupholstering and painting.
Distressing oak furniture is a great way to add some character and style to the home. Distressing gives a weathered look to furniture to produce an appearance of age and wear. Use various tools to make natural marks and grooves in the wood and gently sand the surface. Paint the base colour and allow to dry. Sand the parts you would like to be weathered, and use a wire brush to put light scratches in the furniture. Lastly, add a top coat to seal it all off!
Upholstering furniture, such as wooden chairs, can give it a new lease of life. Simply add a new padded seat cover on the chair and a shabby chic paint finish – and voila!
There are many ways to upcycle furniture to help update a room without the added expenditure. Think of it as a little DIY project, something to tackle at the weekend that will feel rewarding once it’s complete!
Low maintenance and cost benefits make fake grass surfaces a winner
Artificial grass has come a long way in recent years as the techniques and technology involved in its manufacture become more advanced. More gardeners in Suffolk and other parts of the UK are appreciating the benefits of installing an artificial surface to replace traditional grass and enjoying a combination of year round use, durability, low maintenance and longer term cost savings.
Some artificial grass specialist suppliers are seeing increases of business as high as 50% since 2010. Some of the reasons why:
While a lawn will require mowing on a regular basis during the spring and summer, not to mention possible fertilising and other treating such as weed and moss removal, an artificial surface requires next to no maintenance.
At most fake grass requires the occasional sweep if leaves and other debris falls on it but otherwise, once its laid, an artificial surface makes no more demands on the gardener’s time.
Lower cost in the longer term
While an artificial surface will cost more to install than laying natural turf or seeding, over the longer term it should work out cheaper than the costs of maintaining grass.
It’s possible to install artificial grass oneself or to engage the help of professional installers if looking for artificial grass in Bury St Edmunds and surrounding parts of Suffolk.
The costs of a lawn mower and fuel or power to run it is one expense. There’s also the cost of fertilisers, weed killers and other treatments along with a possible increase in the gardener’s water bill if on a meter due to possible watering. The use of a sprinkler will see water use shoot up especially in dry conditions – they can use as much water in one hour as a family of four might use in a day.
Artificial surfaces can be used most of the year round while there are times when it’s best to keep off natural grass. Excessively wet grass can become damaged if subject to heavy footfall as can grass in the grip of even a light frost.
This can be a particular issue when letting pets out to get some air and exercise as they can easily damage grass when wet or frosty.
Cleaner home interior
A sometimes overlooked benefit of an artificial surface is a likely cleaner inside to the property as dirt and other debris isn’t trailed into the house by footwear from damp grass outside.
An artificial surface can also help people who suffer with allergies; natural grass can harbour pollens that may set off allergic reactions in sufferers.
Most artificial grass is made from recycled materials such as plastics, and a good installation can last around 25 years.
While grass is a wholly natural substance, there are environmental implications in tending it:
– large amounts water can be used in keeping it nourished; it’s a precious resource under increasing demand from an ever-increasing number of households
– fossil fuels such as petrol or electricity are used to power lawn mowers and over several years of grass cutting this mounts up. There’s also noise pollution from the use of the mower itself
There’s no doubt artificial grass has a lot to offer in terms of cost savings, environmental benefits and saving valuable time on maintenance. Even a basic activity such as mowing can easily swallow up one or two hours a week, and then you may not be able to use the carefully tended grass if conditions are either too wet or too dry.
Artificial grass, on the other hand, once laid is ready for use pretty much all the time and requires next to no care.
Creating extra parking space using special surfaces on your grass
Car parking can be a particular problem for some; although the number of cars in many households is ever-increasing, generally newer house building features smaller gardens and surrounding land areas and a reduction in the number of garages being built. There’s also the issue of where to park if work is being done where owners might usually leave their cars – for example, if parking on the street and roadworks are in progress.
Parking on your lawn is an option, but usually a less than satisfactory one as grass can soon become damaged from tyres; a problem exacerbated after rainfall and during frosty conditions. Help is at hand though.
Grass reinforcement solutions
Specialist surfaces are available designed to protect grass when heavy loads such as cars are placed on it. A Witham based company offer various options with their Suregreen grass reinforcement range of mesh and matting.
Available in various types depending on what levels of ‘traffic’ the grass is likely to experience ranging from occasional and heavier pedestrian use up to the parking and manoeuvring of cars and other vehicles.
As its name suggests, it’s an interwoven mesh made of plastic and is designed to reinforce the grass as it grows. The roots and sward of the grass intertwine with the mesh to create a stronger, reinforced surface. This, coupled with its ability to spread the weight of vehicles, helps preserve the grass.
The mesh is available in various specifications and grades; some versions are capable of bearing loads of over 7 tons and vary in design depending on how quick drainage is on the specific area of grass. Some mesh types are more suitable for sandy based grass with quicker drainage whereas others are designed for clay type surfaces where drainage is much slower.
The mesh is available in various sized rolls and is easily laid and fixed in place usually using U pins at specific intervals. For example, if laying a 2 by 20 metre roll of mesh then something like 200 pins would be required.
Ground protection mats
Made from HDPE (High Density Polyethylene), these mats – typically just over 12mm thick – are simply put in place on the grass to provide a sturdy, non-slip surface. They protect the grass by spreading the weight of the vehicle and preventing its tyres from pressing into the surface and eventually causing ruts.
However, many mats are necessary to provide the required area of parking and grass protection can be laid and interlocked with simple connectors to give a single, solid surface. They’re a more durable solution than fibreglass or plywood, and can offer good levels of grip on more uneven grass surfaces and – due to their composition – can handle expansion and contraction as weather conditions and temperatures change.
Light and portable
Each mat weighs about 40 kg so they’re convenient to move around being only the weight of two suitcases filled to most airlines’ luggage allowances.
Due to their portability, these mats make for an ideal temporary surface. For example, if you need some ad hoc extra parking for an event at your home such as a party, or to provide parking while work is going on in the street where you normally park such as pipe laying or similar, then ground protection mats offer a flexible solution.
Saving your lawn
As the above illustrates, there are ways of creating extra parking and hard standing for cars and vehicles without ruining your lawn.
When the clouds clear after what felt like the longest, dreariest winter ever, our thoughts immediately turn to enjoying the great outdoors. We start planning days out, camping holidays and weekends at the coast. And even if we can’t spare some time away to embark on our holidays and outings, chances are we’ll at least plan a sunny afternoon BBQ or invite our friends and family around for a picnic lunch in the garden.
Spending time outside can do us the world of good. The sun is a source of Vitamin D, which is wonderful for the immune system and great for the heart. Being outside in the fresh air is a natural mood booster and helps you to keep active.
Summertime is a time for entertaining people in the garden, relaxing with a BBQ sizzling in the background or even just taking the afternoon out to read a book in the sun.
If you’re looking for luxury garden dining furniture to help entertain your guests on or a sofa set to relax on in the evenings, we think our Brighton Corner Set ticks all the boxes. This corner set is perfect for enjoying the long sunny days and warm summer evenings on.
The Brighton Set is a luxurious seating arrangement with plenty of space for up to eight adults. The relaxed seating set is ideal for those who enjoy entertaining family and friends in the garden and are looking for suitable seats for people to relax in.
The corner set is constructed using Aluminium frames and a 5mm core weave. This combination of materials will give you a sturdy and resilient frame work, and ensure that your set will give you years of maintenance free service. It’s also really easy to keep the cushions soft and clean, just mix a mild detergent together and sponge them down. To keep the framework clean, we recommend using warm soapy water to clean the frame and then hosing it down clean.
The set comes fully built, with the exception of the table legs, so the seating area can be set up and used within a few minutes of unpacking. The table comes with a parasol hole so that the set can be in shade with ease.
Learning to use devil sticks is both challenging and interesting, providing excitement for beginners and experienced jugglers alike.
Juggling as a performance art form has been around for thousands of years. It’s difficult to trace its exact origin, but the first evidence of juggling was discovered in an ancient Egyptian tomb which dates back to around 2,000 BC. References to juggling have also been found in artefacts from Ancient China, Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire, indicating that the art form has enjoyed long-lived and widespread popularity.
The word ‘juggle’ comes from ‘jogelen’ – a Middle English word which means to perform or entertain. And juggling has certainly kept people entertained throughout the ages. This popularity has continued to the present day, and juggling acts can frequently be seen in circuses and street performances. Juggling has also evolved over the years with new variations coming to the fore, such as the use of diablos or fire-juggling.
One juggling variation that has gained popularity in recent years is the use of devil sticks. Although not strictly counted as juggling, ‘devilsticking’ is commonplace in many juggling clubs and is an interesting and challenging skill to learn, both for those who are new to juggling and more experienced jugglers who are looking to expand their repertoire.
Originating in China, the basic idea behind devil sticks is to keep a large tapered stick in the air by hitting it alternately with two smaller handsticks. Once the basic elements are mastered, practitioners can move on to more complex patterns and tricks, often using multiple sticks at once.
To start out in devil sticks, you first need the right equipment. Devil sticks can be purchased from most providers of juggling supplies, and are available in a range of colours and materials, so it’s easy to find something that suits your needs.
If you’re brand new to the sport, you might want to start out by using flower sticks. These have weighted ends which provide a slower spin, making them easier to use and enabling you to hone your technique before graduating to devil sticks.
The best way to learn the art of devil sticks is to join a juggling or circus skills club. However, if that isn’t for you, there are plenty of online tutorials available which, with a little patience, will help you to master the basics from the comfort of your home.
Learning the tricks
As your confidence builds and your skills improve, you can move beyond the basics, and start building up a repertoire of different moves. There are a number of different skills you can master to add flair and interest to your devil sticks routine. These can vary from fairly simple but still impressive-looking tricks, such as full spins, under leg, and behind the back, through to more complex routines including helicopters, propellers, and double leg rollovers. You can also use clever body moves and balances to help make your tricks look even more impressive.
Showcasing your skills
Once you’re confident in your abilities, it’s time to show off your devil stick skills to an audience and for this you need the right devil sticks. When starting out, cheap yet durable sticks are usually your best option, but as you progress you will probably find that good quality pro devil sticks will serve you better.
When it comes to performance, don’t underestimate the importance of appearance. Even a fairly basic routine can be given a little extra pizzazz with the right sticks – fluorescent or glitter sticks, for example can really help your performance to stand out for the right reasons.
For those whose devil stick skills are more advanced, or who are feeling especially brave, there is also the opportunity to use fire devil sticks which, as the name suggests, can be set on fire to add excitement and drama to your routine.
With so many variations available, devil sticks is a really interesting new skill that never gets dull, and is great for improving balance and hand-eye coordination. So what are you waiting for? Grab some sticks and get practicing – your future audience awaits.
Cleaning Product Market Growth of 5% Forecast Over Next 4 Years
Rise in population, better education regarding sanitation and pricing awareness has led to a forecast of 5% growth in the industrial cleaning product industry.
The cleaning product market is expanding rapidly on a global scale. A market research report conducted by analysts at Technavio forecasts that there will be a growth of 5% in the industrial cleaning product market between now and 2021.
This increase can be partly attributed to the rise in worldwide population figures, particularly in regions such as Asia Pacific. This area is the largest market in terms of both domestic washing and industry cleaning products, which is helped by the expanding populations of China and India. These emerging countries are closely followed in the industry by accumulative sales in North America and Europe.
Health And Hygiene
Particularly in developing countries, there has been a rapid rise in education about the importance of proper hygiene in the prevention of infectious diseases. Therefore, the increasing usage of cleaning products to concentrate on personal hygiene, communal hygiene and food sanitation has contributed towards the growth of the cleaning products market overall.
Consumers are applying this knowledge and are paying additional attention to the safe storage of food, the sterilisation of meal preparation areas, and the thorough cleaning of bathrooms as well as other household surfaces. Buyers from all regions are also controlling the disposal of their rubbish and recycling materials with extra care. Even a small increase in the usage of cleaning products per family, can cause an explosion of growth in the cleaning product industry when looked at on a global scale.
Many people have busy, fast-paced lives. Consumers don’t have time to use sub-standard cleaning agents to scrub away at surfaces, when there are products available that can get the job done in half the time. Individuals and companies alike are choosing higher quality brands that are more efficient. Continued steady economic growth in some areas means that more is being spent in the industrial cleaning market, and this is predicted to rise over the next four years.
However, in developing countries, price is a determining factor over the efficacy of the product, as consumers have less money to spend. This doesn’t mean that there is no money to be made from this industry in these regions. However, cleaning product manufacturers will need to price their brand lines accordingly to gain a market share in these poorer nations.
There are strict government regulations in many countries that can prevent the growth of the market from reaching its full potential. However, significant increases in research and development before bringing a product to market, are certain to see some incredibly innovative and advanced merchandise being introduced into the industry. This, coupled with the mounting interest in cleaning and hygiene tips, particularly within the healthcare sectors, mean that this industry is one to watch over the next few years.
The food and drink market is more competitive than ever. The design of the label could have a greater impact than you think on boosting sales.
According to the UK Department for International Trade, there are approximately 10,000 new food and drink products introduced in the UK every year. As the market becomes ever more saturated, it becomes increasingly difficult to get noticed and steal a march on the competitors.
Attractive packaging has always been an important part of the marketing mix that gets plenty of attention from designers and marketing gurus, as they work day and night to outdo the competition. Yet you might be surprised at just how important the clarity and design of your food label is when it comes to influencing buyer behaviour.
Research in France
Grenoble Ecole de Management is one of the top business schools and research institutes in Europe. Research conducted at the institute under the leadership of Associate Professor Caroline Werle suggests that labels that are uncluttered and easy to read win hands down over useful information and gimmicks in terms of increasing consumer purchases.
Professor Werle carried out two in-depth studies that assessed the buying preferences of 584 participants. She asked them to consider a wide range of products, which she had previously mapped according to two parameters: Whether they were healthy or unhealthy, and whether the labels were easy or difficult to read.
The results showed a marked consumer preference in favour of products with easy-to-read labels – in fact, this was the main deciding factor on whether the participants would buy a product or not, and was certainly of far greater influence than whether it was healthy or unhealthy.
Simple label equals simple purchase
There are a number of possible explanations for this interesting result, the most probable being that a clear food label that is easily read makes for a straightforward, uncomplicated purchase decision. This in turn gives purchasers a positive overall reaction, and the subconscious idea that they will enjoy the product.
Implications for the food labelling industry
These results have certainly raised some eyebrows among designers and marketers involved in food and drink labelling. If the “less is more” approach really has such a big impact on buying decisions, we could soon be seeing a whole new generation of minimalist label designs.
However, it is not just the sales and marketing teams that are interested in these results. Regulators and health watchdogs will be quick to notice other implications that could also have an impact on the industry.
Specifically, the evidence suggests that a clear, easily read label is more likely to make consumers think they will enjoy a product, even if it is unhealthy. It is no great leap of logic to conclude that a healthier alternative with a more detailed, and therefore less clear, label, will actually turn potential buyers away by providing more information as to its benefits.
If this is the case, then regulations that standardise all food labelling could be closer to reality than we think – however, there can be little doubt that a great deal more lengthy and detailed research must be carried out before such a step receives serious consideration.
Garden makeover ideas based on requirements, commitment to garden care and limitations of the space such as too much shade or being overlooked. Choosing help wisely.
Transforming an outdoor space to suit individual tastes and requirements
Creating a garden to suit specific requirements and complement the look and feel of a property is a highly popular home improvement. In the wake of various garden and home makeover television programmes, magazine articles, and the growth of specialist landscape gardening specialists, more people are becoming inspired to make better use of their garden.
From simple and inexpensive alterations to major overhauls, there’s much scope regardless of garden size.
The decline of the ‘flat grass’ garden
The time honoured garden, often the type laid down in new build homes, is the bog standard lawn with maybe a little hard standing somewhere near the back wall of the house and a few borders around the perimeter of the garden.
Many find this somewhat limiting; for one thing, a lawn is out of action for large parts of the year when heavy rain and frost strikes, and it can be a rather uninspiring look compared to what’s possible with some imagination and design expertise.
Deciding on a change
Choosing from a wealth of options for a garden makeover can be narrowed down when deciding what is wanted from a garden and how much time will be devoted to its upkeep.
Is creating a genuine outdoor space to spend time in desired? If so, hard surfaces such as decking, patios and paths may be worth considering along with types of garden furniture.
Is low maintenance required due to lack of time (or even interest in spending time tending to the garden?). If so, ‘low maintenance’ plants and shrubs should be considered – and this makes an even stronger case for removing all or part of a lawn that requires mowing, seeding, watering and fertilizing, from time to time.
Are there any limitations? For example, is the garden in the shade much of the time, thus precluding certain types of plant from flourishing or preventing grass from getting enough sunlight? Is the garden overlooked? Is so, is it practical to improve privacy with taller plants, young trees or building a wall?
This will obviously determine how far a makeover can be taken. It’s important to direct funds where they’ll make the most difference. For example, if planning some hard standing or paving, then top quality stone is important. Once down it will be there for years, and compromising on quality is a false economy.
Finding an experienced, specialist supplier of popular stone types such as limestone paving, as opposed to the off-the-shelf route via DIY stores is key.
Levels and pathways
A popular and effective way to transform a garden is through the use of different levels and the use of paths to make more use of what may have been just a large lawn. A good garden designer can soon show you what alternatives are possible and, along with making for a space more adaptable and enjoyable to spend time in, make your garden look more interesting. This can be achieved by perhaps the use of curves in pathways, maybe a water feature if you’re prepared to maintain it, and careful positioning of certain plant types so the colours complement each other and the space in general when they bloom.
Carefully placed lighting can make a difference and make your garden usable in the evening during the warmer months. A wide choice of lights to accentuate water features, outdoor sculptures and certain plants or small trees is available, and a good designer can suggest where might be a good place to position them.
Choosing help wisely
There are a number of garden designers and landscape gardeners around, but choosing a suitable one needs careful attention. Recommendations from friends and people you trust is an ideal starting point, but if that’s not possible then online research and checking their websites – they’ll often have a web presence with photos of their work is the ideal way forward.
The Perfect Wedding Venue Might Not Cost as Much as You Think
Choosing the right venue is one of the most important wedding preparations. By hiring in what you need, you can have everything just as you want it.
Every wedding planner will tell you that choosing the venue can be among the most difficult and sometimes frustrating decisions that you have to make. With such a wide range of choices, depending on preference, budget, availability and the number of guests, some couples can feel completely overwhelmed before they even start.
After the information overload, most couples come up with a “wish list” of what they want from the venue, and then find that the choice has reduced from hundreds to zero. Nowhere seems to tick all the boxes, or anywhere that does so is far too expensive.
However, there is an alternative. Once you have found the perfect location, you can then add the extras that you need. There are specialist suppliers from whom you can source the right caterers, DJs and even hire a bar in Kent and the home counties.
Reviewing the venues
There are hundreds of wedding venues throughout the county, from Leeds Castle, in its 500 acres of grounds, to small secluded barns and outdoor venues dotted around the Kent countryside. You will start out with an approximate idea of the sort of venue you want, along with an idea of budget and the number of guests, but even this will bring you a short list that is far from being short!
Now is the time to open a spreadsheet and collate some key information. The following list is not exhaustive, but these are the points you are likely to want to consider and compare:
Website / contact
Type (e.g. barn, hotel, etc.)
Price – this will be approximate at this stage
Facilities on site
Accessibility (for example, what is the parking like, is it near public transport)
Restrictions (e.g. relating to children, end time, etc.)
Narrowing it down
Reading through the information you have gathered above will allow you to start narrowing down the options. Some might be immediately discarded for practical reasons, for example if the price, size or availability does not meet your requirements, and others will fall off the list for the simple reason that you do not like them.
This is more important than anything. If it does not feel right, rule it out. As mentioned above, most things can be tailored by bringing in external suppliers, but one thing you cannot change is the overall “feel” of the location, so it must be right.
The final decision
Once you have narrowed down your selection to a manageable size, you can start visiting some of the sites. This is where the fun really begins, and you will feel like you are getting somewhere. While practical considerations such as price and facilities are important, do not lose sight of the main consideration – is this the place where you and your partner really want to celebrate your wedding?
This is also the time to meet up with other suppliers, such as entertainers, caterers, mobile bar suppliers, DJs, etc. and to bring it all together for the wedding day of your dreams.
In the face of uncertainty, we’re finding enjoyment in traditional pastimes and hobbies like sewing again.
A few years ago, making your own clothes and home accessories was nowhere near as popular as it is now. With the rise of shows such as The Great British Sewing Bee, craft TV channels and sewing publications, there’s so much out there for amateur sewists to engage with and be inspired by. The world is now changing rapidly, and more and more of us are finding enjoyment in hobbies like sewing. Is it a way of escaping the uncertainty of the world around us, or a nod back to that great British tradition of making do and mending? Whatever the reason, we just can’t get enough of it!
Sewing boosts your mood
Gaining a skill can renew your optimism and confidence. For those who are feeling a little unsure of what the future holds politically, picking up sewing is a no brainer. On the other hand, the new opportunities that could lie ahead of us post-Brexit are making many people feel excited about the future. Whatever your views on what’s going on in the world, gaining a skill is a really good way of channelling all your passion into something productive.
How to start
Getting started is easy. There are so many different tools and resources out there to help you out. Whether you like to watch tutorials on YouTube or prefer to practice with the use of books and patterns, you’ll have so much to learn from and enjoy. Social media is full of sewists too – so you can get inspired and make friends. It’s worth investing a good machine too. Bernina sewing machines are some of the most popular ones on the market, and it’s not hard to see why. A brand with a long history, their machines are reliable, easy to use and really help you to unleash your creativity.
Easy on your wallet
As we all tighten our belts, we become more conscious of what things cost. Thankfully, sewing is a pretty cost effective hobby. Once you’ve bought a machine, you’ll find that the cost of fabric and other materials is much less than you’d pay for something from a shop. Yes, it may take more time to make a dress than it does to buy one, but you’ll have something that costs less, suits you more and really stands out.
Building your skills
Why not try a few small projects and then go from from there? Customising your clothes is a great way to get started, as you can be as ambitious as you like. Things like cushion covers and pincushions are really easy little projects that will equip you with vital skills too. Just have a look online and see what catches your eye. Whether you’re making something for your home or for you to wear, the only way you’ll get better is with practice.
Make 2017 the year you start sewing
Right now, it looks as if our national obsession with sewing is showing no signs of abating. Along with baking and other crafts, this traditional hobby is a great way to not only indulge your creative side, but gain a valuable skill too. So if you’ve been wondering whether you should give it a go, just do it! You certainly won’t regret it.