The best furniture materials for your home

Decorating the home can be an expensive task as furniture is so expensive, especially furniture that needs to last a long time. It can also be difficult to choose the right items of furniture for the home as there are so many questions to ask:

Is designer best?
Does it matter if it’s cheap furniture?
Will it last a long time in the home?
Is it good value for money?
Will it suit many items of furniture in the rest of the rooms?
A lot of thought goes into picking items of furniture as it is important to not only get fantastic value for money but the items need to look and feel homely in the room that needs furnishing.

So many retailers cater furniture items in many different materials and many people don’t realise the importance of certain materials as not only will they cost a bit extra but they will also withhold plenty of usage meaning they will withstand many years in the home.

The best places to take inspiration from are restaurants and hotels as a majority of these places spend a small fortune on ensuring strong, sturdy and stylish furniture. Hill Cross Furniture is one of the best contract furniture stores and they provide many tips and advice with furniture items which explains why their client profile is so impressive.

Some other tips to follow include the following:

Furniture items to invest in:

Always invest in an armchair to relax and read in even though these items can be expensive as these forms of upholstery can age beautifully over the years when taken care of.
Antique furniture is another great choice as 9/10 times the furniture is handmade which means it lasts for many years due to the hard and high quality graft that has gone into making each piece of furniture.
A good substantial mirror can be pricey but an excellent investment as it can be used in many rooms throughout the home and they add plenty of light which is great for the dark or small rooms.
Materials to stick to:

Choosing sofa or armchair materials in fabrics can be tempting as they look stylish and have a cheaper price tag, but leather is the best material to go for even though it does cost more. Leather is ideal for families and pets as it can easily be cleaned and doesn’t stain and another great factor is leather looks fantastic with age.
For other materials such as living room sets, hardwoods such as maple or oak are the strongest as they can stand up to a lot of weight and don’t crack very easily whereas particle woods do not last long at all as they chip and peel over time.
Finally when shopping for furniture make sure to look out for items that have been glued, screwed and doweled together as furniture that is stapled will not hold up well and will therefore fall apart very easily.

How to Choose the Perfect Lighting

When it comes to the interior design of any building one thing often left until last is the lighting. Whether you are redesigning the décor of your existing home, decorating a new home, or even redesigning the interior of your office or workplace lighting is vitally important. The use of light can transform any space, set the scene and create the perfect ambience so it must be chosen wisely.

The first thing to think about when it comes to choosing the perfect lighting is the room you are choosing it for and the purpose. Is it to create a soft ambience, say in a bedroom, or is to really refresh the space for example in an office?

If you are looking to create a relaxed setting then table lamps and floor lamps are a great idea. They can light up dark corners and bring a sense of warmth to any room, and are also ideal for reading by. In the kitchen spotlights are one of the most popular choices. Allowing an attractive aesthetic look as well as being hugely practical, spotlights will ensure that you have a creative space to prepare food and do other household work.

Being environmentally aware is also a big concern when choosing lighting for any room. Energy efficient bulbs are really a must have in today’s society and are now available in a good range of wattages, suitable for most settings.

The home office or workplace office needs a much more practical yet still stylish design than any other place. This is because the light not only ensures that you can see and work clearly on a multitude of tasks it also boosts mood and productivity levels. If your workspace is dark and dingy then creativity and productivity levels will be low; transform your office into a bright and light space and the change will be hugely noticeable.

By far the most practical, attractive and cost efficient lighting option for home offices and workspaces are LED lights. A brilliant replacement for more traditional fluorescent strip lighting, which is used in many work places today, LED light panels provide high performance and substantial savings on energy consumption, which of course is hugely beneficial especially in a large business or office.

Easy to install, LED light panels are designed to fit directly into the existing walls of your property, ideal for suspended ceilings they can also be surface mounted to walls. A great option for meeting rooms, corridors, or and domestic space this modern lighting option makes the best possible use of LED lighting technology. One of the most important advances within the industry since the invention of the light bulb, LED’s are becoming more and more popular and the technology is constantly progressing.

Contributed by Reuben Hayes from LED LightSense offering LED light solutions.

How Lighting Choice Makes A Difference To Your Home

Home Lighting can really set the mood of a room and give it some personality. There are various brands and designs that are available now and the type of style that you pick can really change a room. For example if you want something to give off a calm and relaxed mood to the room, spotlights with dimmer bulbs would help create this, to really glam up a room and make the fixture a show stopping piece a crystal chandelier is a must have. It all depends on the style of light fitting and here are a couple of ideas of what interior creations you could come up with thanks to light fittings:

Ceiling light

I used the red Diyas ceiling light from Castlegate Lights for the inspiration for the first design. The striking red colour fits perfectly into a kitchen space and is the key to bringing the secondary colour of red promptly into the room. You can make the most of this splash of colour by adding a number of accessories too such as the salt and pepper mills in the image.

Standing light

This stunning standing light matched together with the ceiling light are a great combination, and is a perfect choice for a living room where you require more light compared to somewhere such as a bedroom. The gold tint to the crystals works well with the cream, brown and blue colour scheme too. Adding the hint of blue through the cushions and other accessories leaves the accent colour open to change. For example during the winter you may want to change it to orange for a cosier feel and keep the blue during the summer to add a fresh feel.

The colour, shape and type of lighting you choose can heavily influence a room. Plus if you are unsure of what direction to go in or what colour you wish to opt for, start with the accessories and pick your favourite lighting design. These choice might just give you the inspiration and ideas you need to help picture and create your perfect room.

The Best Overnight Raised Coconut Waffles

It is waffle season in my kitchen again. Often in colder days, waffle season is strictly dictated only by my mood and my desire to have waffles. It is a season because my waffle maker lives on top of my fridge, and my fridge is in my hallway for my kitchen is TINY (lets write that big), and my only permanent kitchen counter kit is my mixer and my food processor. Everything else lives in the hall and comes in briefly when needed. (Yes, far from a perfect system, but it almost works, for now).

My waffle maker, like my toasted sandwich maker, only comes in occasionally. This is because when I start to make them I start a flurry of obsession where I will eat little else for a bit until I realise that this-must-stop and I retire them to their hiding place, away from my obsessive waffle desires.

I love to make yeasted overnight waffles where the batter is left to gurgle away overnight and loosened with eggs and bicarbonate of soda in the morning before hitting the waffle iron – slurp, hiss, flip – and shortly after my plate. The flavour of these waffles is the real draw, they are intensely satisfying (and not sweet, just waffly, right?), but also their airiness. They are so light and crisp.

I love coconut, and wanted to create a brilliant waffle that embraced that and would also be dairy free, and so I played around with the original Marion Cunningham recipe from her Breakfast Cookbook until I got a perfect coconut waffle. Crisp and light and gorgeous, and so very easy. It looks after itself.

I paired these with seasonal rhubarb – gorgeous, bright pink and cheerful. Poached until tender and still whole. I heated 75g sugar and 250ml water in a small pot. I reduced the heat and added the rhubarb for 5 minutes, then turned the heat off and allowed it to finish in the residual heat. You can use whatever fruit you like. Mango would be fabulous, with a squeeze of lime.

Note: these are dairy free and vegan. But joy-FULL! Enjoy.

More waffle recipes on Eat Like a Girl:
The original crisp and fluffy raised waffles

Raised Waffles with Beef Shin and Mushroom Ragu & Gremolata

Buckwheat Waffles with Rhubarb, Apple & Candied Hazelnuts

Spelt & Almond Waffles with Lemon Ricotta & Maple Syrup

Giving Your Bathroom A Modern Feel

The bathroom is one of the most important rooms in any home, allowing you to get ready for the day ahead or to relax and unwind from the stresses you have faced. With this in mind, it is essential that you have a modern and stylish bathroom in which you feel comfortable and relaxed.

If you are looking to completely replace your bathroom suite, one potential option is to purchase a complete bathroom package. These are put together by bathroom design experts, with quality and style in mind. From simplistic bath suites to the multiple bathing options provided by shower bath suites, there are many different types of bathroom suites available to add a touch of class to your home. While these suites are designed to the highest standards, all elements within a suite can usually be modified, allowing you to make changes to bring the overall style in line with your own personal preferences.

Refreshing the look of your bathroom suite
If you would like to upgrade your bathroom but a complete refurbishment is not required or you do not have the budget for this change, there are still plenty of ways you can make your bathroom feel more modern. A new shower enclosure is one of the best ways to bring a bathroom up to date, offering a refreshing and comfortable bathing experience. Modern showers provide complete control over the temperature and the power of the water, meaning you will never again have to worry about the water suddenly going cold, causing a shocking and uncomfortable end to your bathing.

As well as the shower itself, an enclosure is also an essential part of your bathroom. There are many different styles of shower enclosure, depending on your own personal preferences and the style of your bathroom. One of the most popular choices in modern bathroom design is a quadrant shower enclosure . These are ideal for smaller or ensuite bathrooms, ensuring that plenty of space is available for the rest of your bathroom, offering up a number of possibilities for further development.

The bathroom suite of the future
A shower enclosure is just one way you can move the style and design of your bathroom into the modern era. Your bathtub is another element which can give your suite a visually pleasing and attractive appearance, with freestanding baths offering a traditional style that can be customised to have a modern twist. The feet that are added to these bathtubs can ensure they match the overall theme of your bathroom, as well as fitting in with any colour scheme that you may have in mind for your modern and stylish bathroom.

To put the finishing touches to your bathroom, having pictures to the walls or adding new and vibrant colours are an ideal way to improve the overall feel of your space. This is a superb way to modernise your bathroom without having to make any further costly and time consuming additions.

Achieve Multiple Goals With Replacement Windows

With all the talk about energy efficiency and rising gas prices within the news you may be wondering how you and your family can make an impact and do something about it within your home. With up to 20% of heat loss being attributed to old, faulty windows a good place to start in any property is by investing in energy rated windows.

Replacement energy efficient windows can help to make a real impact on the amount of energy you use heating your home, this in turn will help to reduce your bills, giving you more money for the things you prefer to spend your disposable income on.

If you are unsure as to which windows will be most suitable for your home then the glazing industry has made it a little easier with the clear window ratings scheme giving the manufacturers an official scale in which to adhere to and then rate their products. All windows are now rated in terms of their energy efficiency just like household appliances such as fridges and freezers. This will help to give you a clearer idea of how much difference your new windows are likely to make to your home.

Most glazing installers and suppliers would sell a C rated window as standard but an A rated window using low e glass, is at the tipping point where windows move from costing you money to actually saving you money. Therefore if you can, always enquire about energy efficient windows for your home.

Taking the decision to install new windows now will prove to be a sound investment in the future regardless of whether you stay in the property or decide to sell. Any potential buyers who see that you have energy efficient windows installed will surely be more likely to make a bid, safe in the knowledge that they will have lower energy bills.

If you opt for triple glazing your energy savings will be even more substantial than the aforementioned double glazing and although it will be a more sizeable initial outlay, it will repay you even quicker.

Not only will new replacement windows lower your energy bills but you are also going to dramatically improve the look of your home. You will also be able to rely on your new double glazing to ensure your home is safe for many years into the future.

Home Improvements that enhance your home in more ways than one are often hard to come by but investing in replacement windows is a sure fire way to achieve a better home.

Cranberry, Orange, Maple & Bay Relish

Have you been worried about your blue cheese? Lonely there on your Christmas cheeseboard. Every other cheese has a partner, and blue cheese does love a date (literally, especially medjool ones). Manchego has membrillo, cheddar has apple, there will likely be grapes, lots of crackers, and this year you want something different for your blue.

I adore a brash blue cheese, as strong as you can. Hello English Stichelton! The original stilton recipe, still raw and untempered. I especially love a sweet soft and strong sheep’s blue, like French roquefort and Irish crozier blue. A good blue deserves a bold relish. Nothing ordinary, something bright, something tangy, something that can stand up to the intensity.

Cranberries have always intrigued me, but it is only this year, and this festive season particularly, that I have fully embraced them. What a brilliant little ingredient! Mouth puckeringly astringent, almost chalky on their own, almost medicinal, they soften with some heat and some fluid and release their flavour, and pop as they release (so use a high sided pan to protect from the spatter). They love an orange, juice and zest, and the aromatics of the humble bay are wonderful as a third ingredient. For sweetness I like to use maple syrup, a little savoury and very deep. You can use honey too, it will also work well.

I have made this twice already and I will make a third batch tomorrow. I have used it as a marinade, I have used it as a relish, and I know that it will make a magical toasted sandwich. It was brilliant with the melted blue cheese on toast, above. It isn’t overly sweet, more tangy, and will be great with turkey too.

Make lots! And let me know what you do with it. Enjoy.

Choosing The Right Doors For Your Home

When you’re decorating a new home or revamping your current abode, you may think that once you’ve chosen the flooring, wall colour and furniture the most important decisions are made. But before you sit down with a nice cup of tea, have you given any thought to the doors? While they are often perceived as serving a strictly functional purpose, the way internal doors look can have a dramatic impact on a room.

Open plan

Many contemporary homes opt for an open plan format. This makes the house feel more airy and can create a sense of space which is particularly useful if you regularly host gatherings or parties in your home. But what if you want to shut out noise from another room or keep a cold draft at bay? What if you just want a bit of privacy?

Stylish internal doors are a vital inclusion of homes, allowing you to adjust access to rooms without detracting from the overall style. Many believe hardwood doors are the only option but there is actually a wide selection of doors available in all shapes and sizes.

White interior doors

White is clean, minimal and contemporary – the perfect colour for a smart, modern home. The light colour can even create an illusion of space, making the room look bigger than it really is.

Hardwood internal doors

The use of wood to craft furniture spans across the ages and it’s easy to see why it remains popular. As the name suggests, hardwood is sturdy and incredibly durable but is also pleasing to the eye; creating a warm and natural glow. Check the extensive selection of Wickes or Magnet internal doors online, or to get an idea of designs before buying.

Pre-glazed internal doors

Lift a room by allowing additional light to pour in with pre-glazed internal doors. Bevelled glass in doors can make a house feel more open and spacious and drastically enhance the aesthetic qualities of your home.

Other considerations

Once you’ve chosen the perfect door for your room, you can start focusing on the more subtle design touches, such as home accessories. These should complement the existing style of your rooms whilst adding character and identity.

Keeping the foundations of interior design neutral and injecting colour and creative flair through accessories is a common trend. High-street retailers like Debenhams stock wide choices of accessories so you can redecorate on a budget. Match with salient design features like doors for a seamless style or add interest with quirky, eclectic options

Whatever your decision, the important thing to remember is your home design should be personal. Choosing the right doors and pairing them with accessories and other features is an easy way to create something beautiful and personal so it’s important that you consider all available options.

Improve Your Home by Hiring the Right Plumber

When you determine to hire a plumber, make certain you employ a qualified expert with the ideal encounter. Anybody along with some skill can begin offering plumbing system services, however that doesn’t imply the individual understands the best ways to locate leaks concealed in a wall surface, locate the problem along with a sewage system line or put in brand-new gas lines for your outdoor kitchen. Comply with these actions to work with the correct plumbing technician for each of your projects.

Plumbing professionals proudly market that they are certified. It’s on their autos, front doorway, calling card and sites. You may have questioned exactly what the big offer is with a little slip of paper stating that they are accredited. Contractors need to pass particular tests in order to obtain their license from the city or state. They have to show that they control the skills needed by their field, and they should have the license restored every few years. You will certainly have an assurance that the individual has the necessary expertise, and you will certainly also has the ability to obtain even more info on the service provider by looking at the efficiency past attached to the certificate.

Mishaps happen, as well as the professionals can run into major troubles. If there is a water leak that ruins your residence while the plumbing technician is working, that will spend for the damage? If you select the wrong plumbing professional, you can end up footing the expense. Nonetheless, you can easily shield your home by choosing a bound professional. They have the funds offered to cover any sort of damages, and the funds are regulated by the state so you can relax guaranteed that you will be recompensed.

If a plumbing professional is hurt while functioning on your sewage system line, your property owner’s insurance coverage can end up paying the expense if you don’t decide on an insured group. When a company purchases their very own insurance, they are approving duty for injuries their employees may sustain when they are in your residence. This safeguards you fiscally and aids keep your very own insurance coverage prices reduced.

This trade organization grants membership only to those experts that have actually shown that they have exceptional capabilities and experience. It’s one of the easiest means to ensure that you hired a knowledgeable individual who can take care of the task in a prompt manner. Along with having better experience, these proficient plumbers also stay present along with the most recent innovation to help them execute work much faster and offer you with first-rate outcomes.

The most trusted testimonials come from good friends and household who will be entirely sincere with you. Nevertheless, you might not know anyone that has actually employed a plumber recently. Seek testimonials and reviews on the firm by considering their website, going to the Better Business Bureau and doing a standard search online. It’s essential to keep in mind that also the very best plumbing professional could have one or both complaints that cause by straightforward misconceptions.

Locating a plumbing technician that holds his very own insurance, has acquired bonds and maintains a present license is the simple component. They proudly advertise this information, and you can request for insurance coverage policy numbers and permit info to make sure that everything is current and exact. See your city Master Plumbers Association for a list of members in your location. Finally, put in the time to look up a few reviews to guarantee that you hire a knowledgeable and knowledgeable plumbing professional.

Suckling Pig Mini Porchetta with Cranberry and Orange

I am a little obsessed with good crackling and crisp skin generally. One of the best things that I have ever eaten might surprise you. It was in Barbados, I had asked the staff at my hotel what their favourite thing to eat was and they had replied, oh you wouldn’t like it. I knew that I probably would and so I pressed on. They laughed and refused to divulge. They had done with guests before who returned horrified and full of moans. To my surprise and delight eventually they gave in and replied, barbecue pig tails. Say what?! I have never had a pig tail, save slippery in a soup in Antigua (the flavour was great, the texture a bit more challenging for me). I had never had pig tail off the barbecue.

BBQ Pig Tail in Barbados
I asked where I could find them and they told me where to get the best ones. A guy at the side of the road, and he is usually here or there. He is so busy there is usually a traffic jam, that is how you know he is cooking that day. I went immediately and was so disappointed to discover that this was his one day off.

Instead I headed to Oistins, a popular place for fried fish for locals and tourists alike. I was still keen to try pig tail, but there was no one cooking it. Fish, fish, fish, lots of lovely fish, but I wanted me a pig tail. Down a side alley I spied a young woman over with a very simple small grill. I couldn’t quite see what was on her grill but it didn’t look like fish. I crept down and asked her, and she said she was cooking pig tail.

Joy! I ordered one and took a bit. Heaven! Succulent meat enclosed in crisp skin, all doused in a very good barbecue sauce (which was a secret recipe of course). It cost just $2. I vowed to make it when I got home, but I never did. (I will, I promise, we all need some pig tail).

The Best Porchetta Sandwich in Rome
Another favourite bite is porchetta. Best porchetta made with great care. An Italian dish although there are versions elsewhere from other countries that love the pig as much as they (and we do). It originally hails from Aricci near Rome, but has spread throughout Italy now. It is glorious in a sandwich, my favourite so far from Panificio Bonci in Rome, who sources porchetta from Bernebei in Marino, half an hour from Rome (read all about Bernebei on Elizabeth Minchilli’s blog about her day trip there, swoon!) in a simple pizza bianca sandwich, light thin crisp bread with moist crisp aromatic porchetta enclosed within. The sandwich is cut to order with pizza scissors from an enormous section. I always bring some home, this sandwich is one of those eye rolling perfect bites.

Overnight Roast Wild Garlic Porchetta
I have made porchetta at home several times too, including this wild garlic slow roast overnight porchetta earlier this year. I often thought about mini ones, what might they be like. I was reminded of this when I had suckling pig belly in a restaurant recently. It is easy to source suckling pig, but I had no need for a whole one, I just wanted its lovely delicious tender tum. I sourced the suckling pig belly eventually at Fine Food Specialists, not too badly priced at £24.95 for 2kg although postage is a little steep (and I understand why), and probably better if you are ordering more.

This took a little while to get right, but once I did, I was rewarded with gorgeous little porchettas, like sausage rolls but instead of pastry heavenly crackling, and instead of sausage tender suckling pig belly sharpened by the sour cranberry sweetened a little with savoury maple, some rosemary and some orange. I put a fine layer of this mix on the pork belly flesh before rolling it and tightening it with string.