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The Perfect Home Office

Creating the Perfect Office at Home

If you work from home it's important to have a space separate from the rest of the household in which to operate. Using the kitchen or dining room leaves you open to the awful possibility of vital paperwork being used for children's craft projects, or important phone calls being interrupted. If you have room, create a designated work area that is only for your use. This also helps to differentiate your work space from your leisure space, allowing you to achieve a better work-life balance.

A Room of Your Own

The ideal place for your home office is probably a spare room or study but if this is not possible then there are other options. An under-used garden shed can be converted into a handy workspace. Alternatively, there is a huge range of summer houses available, perfect for use as an office. Simply install weatherproof sockets for all your electrical equipment and you're set.

Essential Equipment

Working from home is almost certain to entail using a computer, either a laptop or a desktop computer. This will need to be situated on a desk or table for ease of use. You will also need a chair – make sure to choose an adjustable one for optimum comfort. A printer is another vital piece of equipment. In these days of mobile communication, you may not require an additional phone line but will need to make sure you have a decent broadband connection. Depending on the type of work you do, a shredder, fax machine and even a safe might also be worthwhile investments. Adequate storage is also crucial.

Decorative Touches

Some people find themselves inspired by lots of bright colours; others prefer neutral shades to create a calming, tranquil environment. Choose whatever works best for you and decorate accordingly. It is vital to make sure there is enough light to work by without straining your eyes. This is less of an issue if you are using a room in your house but if you are working from a shed or garage you may need to fit weatherproof sockets for additional lamps. A blind to keep the sunlight from bouncing off your screen is also useful. Add plenty of shelves or drawers so you can keep on top of all your paperwork. If space allows, a kettle and small fridge can be useful accessories. Finally, add photos, plants, candles or other personal items to really make the space your own.

Creating the perfect work space at home will not only improve your work-life balance, but may even inspire you to achieve greater things.

Garden Features and Solar Power

Add Flair to Your Garden with a Fabulous Water Feature

There is a whole array of features you can include in your garden to give it an individual touch. Flowers and shrubs add colour whilst patios and rockeries provide interesting texture. For something truly different, choose a water feature to add an exciting extra dimension to your outdoor space.

Landscaped Water Features
Water features range from fountains and ponds to streams and cascading waterfalls. Unless you are lucky enough to already have a natural water feature in your garden, you will need to create one. A pond is a popular option as it is relatively easy to landscape and can be any shape or size you choose. The most basic consist of a hole dug in the ground and lined with special plastic sheeting, usually with a stone border to mark the edge. Alternatively, you could choose to have a raised pond, where a brick structure is built from the ground up. Outdoor ponds will quickly become filled with algae so will need a pump to keep the water oxygenated. These may be solar-powered or electric and come complete with weatherproof switches. Once you have filled your pond, you can add plants such as water lilies, irises, bulrushes and kingcups to add colour and provide a habitat to attract wildlife. Many people also choose to keep fish such as koi carp, golden orfe or shubunkins. If you fancy something more ambitious, then a series of cascading pools would make a spectacular focal point in any landscape.

Architectural Pieces
If you are short of space or would prefer a smaller ornament, there are plenty of stand-alone water features that make a stunning addition to your garden. The sound of running water is an ambient noise that adds a tranquil and calming touch to your outside space. A stone fountain makes a bold statement, whether you choose a traditional tiered design or a more contemporary piece. Japanese-inspired feng shui gardens are extremely popular at the moment, using colourful gravel, a few attractive plants and spherical Zen-style water features. Statues, geometric shapes and even garden lights can all be incorporated into an eye-catching garden ornament. For something truly dramatic, what about a cascading water wall situated against a garden trellis? These pieces are very easy to install. Many are solar powered but others you simply plug in, using the specially-designed weatherproof switches.

Whether you choose a large pond or a small ornamental piece, a water feature makes a charming addition to your garden. From dramatic and flamboyant to tranquil and soothing, there is a design to suit every landscape.

Living Open Plan?

Is Open-Plan Living the Way Forward for You?

The last few years have seen a rise in the number of renovations to alter the layout of the home. It's estimated that one in five households have removed walls in order to create a more open-plan feel to their interior. Is it a style that would work for you?

How Will It Change Your Home?

Open-plan living usually means combining the kitchen, dining room, lounge and even study into one large living space. Bedroom and bathrooms remain separate, possibly on a different floor. This way of using the space is very sociable as the whole family can spend time together, even if everyone is enjoying different activities. When entertaining, it means that nobody is stuck alone in the kitchen – but bear in mind guests will see you cooking! Removing interior walls creates a light and airy space that is functional, convenient and well suited to today's hectic multi-faceted family life.

Technical Considerations

Any structural changes to your home will need to be overseen by a professional. You will need to ensure there are adequate RSJs (rolled steel joists) installed and that your home can actually support the weight of the upper floors, especially if it is an old building. You may need an electrician to install floor sockets to provide you with adequate power. If there are not enough windows to provide sufficient light to such a large room, you will need to add more. You will also need to consider the cost implications of heating one large living space, as opposed to smaller rooms that not only warm up more quickly, but can be closed off when not in use.

How to Use the Space

Use furniture to create individual zones in the room, such as a dining table and chairs or a right-angled sofa. Ideally, these pieces should be fairly large as too many small bits of furniture can look chaotic. Use floor sockets for lamps and televisions to avoid cables creating a dangerous trip hazard across the floor. You might want to keep one corner as a quieter space for kids to do homework in or for you to work in – open-plan living can be noisy, especially if you have a large family who all have different needs. Make sure you have plenty of storage to stow away clutter as otherwise mess can spread throughout the room.

Choose either a contemporary or traditional style and decorate with just two or three colours to give a cohesive feel. With open-plan living, you can create a family-friendly functional space.

By Gary Hunter



Built in Appliances

Get a Designer Finish with Built-In Kitchen Appliances

Remodelling a kitchen is a big job and one of the main factors to consider is the type of appliances you want. You may have some of these white goods already, so it might be a question of just choosing one or two to ensure your kitchen is fully functional. Alternatively, you may be starting entirely from scratch with a complete renovation. This gives you a wonderful blank canvas to work with and an opportunity to equip your kitchen with some state-of-the-art gadgetry. Installing built-in appliances will give your kitchen a truly professional finish.

Why Choose Built-In Appliances?

You would find it hard to manage without a fridge, washing machine and dishwasher but there is no denying they are not the most attractive home accessories. Built-in appliances (sometimes also referred to as built-under or integrated appliances) are concealed behind your cabinet doors, allowing you to retain a smooth run of cupboards uninterrupted by unsightly machinery. Not only does this look far neater, but it also makes the kitchen easier to clean. There is no risk of food or other kitchen mess falling into the awkward space at the side of your appliances. Rather than having a selection of mismatched appliances in different styles and colours, you can create a cohesive kitchen that makes the best possible use of the available space. And whether you choose a traditional wooden country-style kitchen or a glossy white contemporary one, use Crabtree grid switches for your appliances to provide isolation and control without the need for a multitude of separate switches which will spoil the sleek look of your kitchen.

Are There Any Downsides?

There are one or two issues to consider when you are installing this type of kitchen. The first of these is cost – specially designed cupboards to accommodate this type of appliance tend to be a little more expensive than typical cabinetry. There may be a few limitations on the type of appliance you can choose. Not all dishwashers, for example, are suitable for fitting in a built-in kitchen, so you may face a slightly limited selection. Some appliances may also be a little smaller than the standard size to ensure they can be neatly stowed away behind the cupboard doors. In addition, built-in appliances are trickier to install than standard ones. Rather than simply being able to plug them in, you may need an electrician to fit the necessary power sockets and Crabtree grid switches.

However, choosing built-in kitchen appliances will give your kitchen a neat and professional appearance that is chic and sophisticated.

by Gary Hunter

Safety first when fitting electrical and lighting in bathrooms

Safety First During a Bathroom Refit

Renovating a bathroom is a great way to add value to your house. Replacing a tired old-fashioned avocado suite with a contemporary white one will make your house more attractive to potential buyers. In addition, you can use bright accessories to bring a splash of colour to the room, making it easy to update your look. But when carrying out work in a bathroom, there are important electrical elements to consider. Water is an incredibly efficient carrier of electrical current and precautions must be taken. The proper power supplies must be fitted to avoid any potentially dangerous hazards.

Bathroom Lighting

It is vital to use lights specifically designed for use in damp conditions when renovating a bathroom. Pendants or tracks of spotlights are not recommended as they are not fully resistant to the humid conditions produced by hot baths and showers. Instead, look for specially manufactured bathroom lights. These are supplied with an Ingress Protection, or IP number, showing the level of protection against moisture. In addition to checking that your lighting has a suitably high IP number, be aware that there are strict regulations regarding the positioning of lights in the bathroom. They are classified as being appropriate for zones 0, 1and 2, depending on the intended distance from the bath or shower. If the light is operated with a traditional wall switch, this is best located outside the bathroom to prevent moisture seeping into the socket or it being operated with wet hands. The safest option is a pull cord hanging outside the bathroom.

Other Electrical Appliances

With the advent of battery-operated shaving devices, it is no longer especially common to have a shaving socket in a domestic bathroom. But if you are installing one, ensure you follow the correct safety procedures and use appropriate wiring accessories. Plug sockets are not recommended for bathrooms – if one is to be fitted it must be at least three metres away from the bath or shower. Any heating appliances, such as a towel rail, must be fixed and permanently wired unless they are plugged into a socket that meets this safety standard. An extractor fan is a useful accessory, especially if there are no windows for ventilation. This too, should have a pull cord and ideally an external safety switch.

Any electrical shock received in the bathroom can be incredibly dangerous as wet skin will reduce the body's resistance and carry current more effectively. By using the correct wiring accessories and taking suitable precautions, you can ensure this room is a safe and relaxing space that will be appreciated by everyone.


Plan your new kitchen with care

Plan Your Kitchen Layout for Maximum Efficiency

When it comes to renovating a kitchen, careful planning is vital. Not only is this type of refit probably one of the biggest jobs you undertake in your home, but is also likely to represent a significant investment in the property. You need to consider a variety of elements, from the position of your major appliances to ensuring you have sufficient lighting, back boxes and sockets.

Where to Put Your Appliances
Deciding where to put your appliances is probably the most important consideration when planning your kitchen's layout. There may be some constraints – for example, the sink might need to be near an outside wall so it can drain properly. Other large appliances such as freezers might have to be positioned according to the available space.

However, it is sensible to think about how you will actually use the kitchen and plan accordingly. The so-called work triangle is a model designed for maximum efficiency. The stove, sink and fridge should all form a triangle, without any obstruction. They should be close enough so you can move easily between them but far enough apart to avoid any safety concerns. Once the location of these has been decided, you can add in other elements.

It is vital to ensure that you have sufficient work surfaces for preparing food. Install double sockets above the work top to make sure you have enough for a variety of small appliances such as kettles and toasters, as well as a few spare sockets for charging your phone or plugging in a food mixer. Insert the back boxes into a cavity in the wall for a neat finish without unsightly protruding plug sockets.

Smart Storage
Installing adequate storage will transform your kitchen, allowing all clutter to be tidied away. Not only does this prevent items gathering dust on your countertops, but is more hygienic. Cupboards and drawers are commonly included under the work surfaces, but you could also install a carousel or rotunda in a corner, making the most of an otherwise wasted space. And what about the area above your wall-mounted cupboards? Either choose cabinets that actually stretch right to the ceiling or use this space for additional storage. Add in a wine rack or some pull-out shelving to really maximise your kitchen's potential.

Set The Scene
Kitchen Downlights and under cabinet lighting create the best working environment while providing a great mood setting, especially if you have dimmable kitchen downlights so keep this in mind to get the best finish to your project.

Careful planning before you undertake such a major renovation is an extremely worthwhile use of you time. Not only will you avoid potentially costly mistakes, but you can also ensure your kitchen works perfectly and efficiently for you.

by Gary Hunter Google+ @garyhunter77

Add the Wow Factor in your rooms with Feature Walls

Add Interest with a Fabulous Feature Wall

To give a really individual touch to a room, what about including an eye-catching feature wall? This is a great way to include texture and colour to bring your décor to life. There is an array of fabulous options to create an appealing finish.

Contrasting Paint
The easiest way to include a feature wall is to use paint. If the room is not very large, a strong colour on all the walls can make it seem even smaller. Instead, paint most of the walls in a pale shade to enhance the feeling of spaciousness and choose one wall to cover with a different colour. Decorating a wall or chimney breast in this way creates a dramatic focal point for the room without you running the risk of painting an entire room in a bold red or green then later regretting it.

Opulent Wallpaper
Wallpaper is having a resurgence in popularity as people look for unusual ways to make their home more individual. If the wallpaper has a very elaborate pattern, using it on every wall can result in a look that is a little overwhelming. Instead, choose one wall to paper and contrast it with a plainer design on the others. There are some beautiful styles available to add a really luxurious touch. Large floral designs embellished with gold or silver paint are the perfect way to add an opulent note. Damask wallpaper looks incredibly sophisticated in a dining room. Or why not choose a bright blue or red Toile de Jouy for a truly dramatic effect? And with the latest selection of designer switches you can be sure that your power supply will not interfere with the stylish look of your paper. Instead of plain white plastic, choose switches and sockets in matching colours, with red, black or metallic finishes.

Bespoke Murals
For something utterly unique, an individually designed mural is hard to beat. These are particularly popular for children's rooms, where walls covered in fairies or dragons add an enchantingly magical touch. However, there's nothing to stop you using them in the rest of your house. A silhouette design of a forest would look very dramatic in a dining room, whilst an underwater scene complete with mermaids would be perfect in a bathroom. Using clear plastic or glass designer switches and sockets means that these are unobtrusive and don't detract from the overall appearance of the room.

Whether you choose paint, wallpaper, stencils or even a dazzling mural, adding a feature wall to a room makes a dramatic focal point that will make your home truly individual.

by Gary Hunter Google+ @garyhunter77

Energy Efficient Power Sockets

A New Dawn for Your Electrical Supply

The humble wall socket has altered very little over the last sixty years, but all that might be about to change. Innovations in electrical design mean that newer, smarter technology is on the horizon.

Energy Efficiency Made Easy

We all know that leaving electrical appliances plugged in when not in use is not ideal. Leaving your phone charger in the socket once you've finished is a waste of energy and it's all too easy to leave appliances such a TV or games console on stand-by rather than actually switching them off. However, a solution may be on the way. Energy-efficient sockets will be able to cut off power if they remain inactive for a certain period of time. Currently, these are in the form of a special adapter that plugs into a socket, but perhaps future devices will be wired directly into the home via hi-tech designer sockets.

The Rise of the Smart Socket

It might sound like the stuff of science-fiction movies but progress has already been made on the development of the so-called 'smart socket'. A prototype has been put together by Sony, making use of the very latest innovations in RFID technology to improve the efficiency of our energy use. RFID, or radio-frequency identification, is a wireless method of transferring data using radio-frequency electromagnetic fields. It's already in use in many industries – supermarkets use it to track food along the supply chain to maintain safety standards. Clothing stores use it to identify which products are selling well to help them optimise stock levels.

However, RFID has plenty of other applications. If RFID tags were employed to transfer data between your socket and your plug, they could be used to track the levels of energy used by different appliances. This in turn would allow consumption of power to be controlled more efficiently. Usage could be controlled by length of time or specific appliance, or you could even choose to have power 'refused' to certain devices, all implemented via your smart phone. It may sound incredible but much of the technology already exists. The homes of the future are certain to have electrical systems that differ widely from our current ones.

We may still be a long way from living in futuristic fully automated houses, but there are still plenty of advances that are well on the way to everyday use. From designer sockets that calculate power usage to smart sockets controlled by your phone, it won't be too long before these wild ideas become reality.

Summer House or Garden Cabin?

Create an Extra Room with a Clever Garden Cabin

Building an extension can be an expensive and time-consuming process, but if you need to create some extra space at home then there is another option. If you have room in your garden, then why not consider adding a wooden summerhouse? Far more than just a glorified shed, these modern cabins can be a great way to gain an extra room the whole family can enjoy.

A Range of Uses
Sales of summerhouses have soared in recent years, partly due to their incredible versatility. If you have children, a summerhouse makes an excellent playroom. Not only can bulky toys can be stored in the cabin but the kids can also enjoy messy and noisy play there, keeping your house a quieter, more relaxing place. A summerhouse also makes a lovely space for entertaining and enjoying the view of your garden. You can set up tables and chairs and use it as a sheltered bolthole if the weather gets in the way of your outdoor plans. You can even sleep in them. Add camp beds if you need extra space for overnight guests, or sleep in it yourself to enjoy all the fun of camping without having to pitch a tent.

They are also very popular with those who work from home as they make great small offices. Add in some power and weatherproof sockets and you're good to go. You can keep your office and home lives totally separate but have all the convenience of only having to commute as far as the end of the garden!

So Easy
There is a range of sizes and style to choose from, from log cabins to more modern octagonal summerhouses. Whichever you choose, they are simple to build yourself. However, most companies also offer an assembly service for those who are less keen on DIY. Summerhouse materials are usually supplied as natural wood so you can customise the finish yourself. Choose a brown wood stain for a traditional feel or go contemporary with a fresh blue or yellow. You can add a range of features to make your summer house even more versatile. By running an outside power cable to the summerhouse and installing weatherproof sockets, you can play music or use a computer, as well as having an extra power supply for your garden tools. Add lighting and a heater and you will be able to enjoy the benefits of your summerhouse whatever the weather.

So why not build a garden cabin and enjoy extra space to work, relax or entertain, all in the comfort of your garden?

Outdoor lighting to get in the mood.

Add Enchanting Outdoor Lighting for Evening Entertaining

With summer approaching, it's time to think about how to make the best use of your outdoor space. A garden, balcony or patio can provide a lovely area for dining, relaxing and socialising. If you want to enjoy balmy evenings outside then installing exterior lighting is a great idea. Not only will it add to the ambience, but it will enable you to make the most of the day even after the sun has gone down.

Simple Solutions
Simple and effective, candles are an easy option that can be arranged in clusters to create a delightful ambience. Citronella candles can help ward off insects, whilst using tea lights in an attractive coloured glass lantern looks stunning. However, if it is very windy or you are concerned about safety, there are other solutions. Solar-powered lights are great for gardens as they can charge all day ready for use as dusk falls. They are available in a huge range of styles, from discreet rock designs to smart lights mounted on an aluminium spike which are perfect for installing in a flower bed. Solar lights are particularly useful for marking areas such as paths that can be tricky to navigate at night. Another idea is to festoon fairy lights among trees or over a trellis to create a pretty effect. Just make you use proper outside lights with weatherproof switches suitable for exterior use – the Christmas-tree lights won't be any good in a traditional British rainy summer.

Stunning Effects
For something even more striking, consider some specially designed exterior lighting. Bollard & Lamp Post lights of different heights can look very dramatic when arranged in clusters for a contemporary effect. Wall lights range from ultra-modern to traditional antique-style lanterns and are surprisingly easy to install. Recessed blue or white LED lights set into your decking give a sophisticated feel to your outdoor space. Not only do they provide a lovely low-level ambient light, but they are also perfect for installing up the stairs for additional safety. If you want something really flamboyant, what about some colour-changing lights? From minimalist polycarbonate globes to elaborate miniature net lights, this type of lighting creates truly stunning effects. It can be particularly successful if used near a pond or water feature where the different colours are reflected across the water's surface.

There's a huge choice of lighting options that can really transform your outside space. Just make sure to always use lights specifically designed for outdoor use as they will have weatherproof switches and other vital safety features. Whatever you choose, you can have great fun creating a variety of effects.

Security Alert! Protect Your Home!

Security Alert!

Light nights equal less nights spent in your abode watching TV and more activity based or entertained evenings. Meaning your house is left empty for longer periods.

Some people believe the dark nights are when most burglaries happen, but thieves tend to like empty buildings where they are unlikely to be disturbed and can work faster moving around without noise hindering the speed they search for and locate valuables.

So we recommend the following advice throughout the summer months as well as some products:

  1. Do not leave valuables on display, in a world where IPads, netbooks, kindles and IPods are in every ones homes it is essential they are not left on display, high value items provide the biggest motivation for an opportunist thief to act.
  2. Do not leave keys in any doors or within reach of your letterbox, thieves are very clever at using your own keys to gain entry. Make sure keys are kept in a draw or safe place.
  3. Home alarm systems provide a major deterrent, once a burglar sees there is an active burglar alarm system they will 99/100 look for an easier target and bypass your home.  We have intruder alarm systems starting for a full kit at under £110 along with wireless alarm systems for easy installation. This is less than the excess on your insurance!
  4. CCTV cameras are the biggest nightmare an intruder can face, especially with todays technology where by you can watch your property at work from the screen of your smartphone. One major tip when installing a CCTV system, don’t leave the DVR in an unsecure area, otherwise thieves will destroy the evidence secure them in a hiding place.
  5. Keys under plant pots and bins….. Really? Please tell us you don’t do this? Where would be the first place you would look for a key? Exactly!
  6. Don’t want the expense of a security system, well we can supply dummy bell boxes and solar powered flashing CCTV dummy cameras.

On a serious note we recommend a house alarm kit and installation along with the cost of the alarm is buttons compared to the potential loss you face after burglary not just possessions but the emotional stress of knowing someone was in your property.

Modern Living - New York Style

Contemporary Minimalism – Making the Most of Spectacular Spaces

If you're looking for a living space with a difference, what about a converted church? A disused mill? Or even your very own castle? Unusual properties such as these don't come on to the market too often, but there's one type of conversion that is becoming increasingly easy to find. As we move away from factory-based industries, there is a wealth of warehouses standing idle, just waiting to be developed into desirable properties. Such unusual homes require a careful touch when it comes to decorating and are a prime example of less being infinitely more.

Open-Plan Living
An apartment in a converted warehouse or factory conjures up exotic images of sophisticated Manhattan-style loft living. The space may be a studio apartment, where you eat, sleep and relax all in the one room, or there may be one main living space with separate sleeping facilities. The key element is that the central room should be open-plan. You may choose to group furniture in islands according to function – perhaps with a dining table at one end and a seating area at the other. If the room is very large then floor sockets will allow you to have table lighting or other electricals in the middle of the room without scruffy cables running out of wall sockets and across the floor. Keep any big pieces such as shelving or dressers against the walls to avoid blocking the open feel of the room.

Contemporary Chic
The interior of this type of apartment often verges on the industrial, which is part of its unique charm. Bare brickwork and exposed piping are part and parcel of what makes the space so special. Keeping the décor simple and uncluttered allows these elements to take centre stage, so a sleek and minimalist look is eminently desirable. Leaving the brickwork unadorned can look very stylish but if it is very dark you might want to consider a coat of paint. White or cream are ideal as they reflect light and emphasise the spacious nature of the room. In addition, pale walls provide a perfect blank canvas for you to decorate. Modern art, musical instruments or even over-sized bookcases will look most striking. For a really dramatic touch, include some floor sockets and scatter unusual lamps throughout the flat. Keep furniture simple and sophisticated, incorporating glass and metal to enhance the contemporary feel. Simple shapes and a neutral palette will allow the building itself to shine.

Keeping the décor clean and uncluttered is the perfect way to allow a stunningly unique space to speak for itself.

Smoke Kills - protect your FAMILY

Smoke Alarms & Carbon Monoxide protection.

As what we hope will be a summer finally approaches we are giving out a stark warning, after an incident yesterday we feel it appropriate this blog is important and worth reading.

Smoke Alarms need checking, do it now as Later is normally too late! In the season where BBQ’s, late nights and garden parties are a regular occurrence however with this comes hidden dangers that are regularly overlooked. Cigarettes are the biggest cause of house fires as well as cooking under the influence of alcohol.

Carbon Monoxide is another huge killer, have you had your boiler serviced? Gas fire checked? If not do it now before it gets overlooked during the summer. We all think it will never happen in our lives, but it can if we don’t protect ourselves.

You can get a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector for under £20 so there aren’t any excuse’s for not giving yourself and your family the best opportunity of escaping potential disaster.

A few facts and figures for you:

Over 59,000 house fires per year

Over 500 house fire related deaths each year.

The majority start between 12am-6am while occupants are asleep.

Electrical appliance misuse is the most common cause especially cooking appliances.

Over 30% of smoke alarms are inoperable due to disconnected or flat batteries.

You only have minutes to escape a house fire, so a smoke alarm gives you advance warning and makes it 4 times more likely you will survive.

SMOKE is the biggest killer in a house fire!!! Its toxic, its dark and it spreads at speed. Get out fast!

If you need to purchase a smoke alarm we can supply an easy to install battery operated version for £5.99, surely this is a small price to pay to save your families lives.

Click here to see our full range of smoke detection devices.

Renovation more rewarding?

Renovation Projects – Revealing a Hidden Gem

Modern houses may have the edge when it comes to convenience and energy-efficiency but renovating an older property can be a truly amazing experience. Whether it's a neglected Victorian terrace or a 17th-century farmhouse on the verge of collapse, stripping a building back to the very basics can uncover some surprising features. Restoring these back to their former beauty will not only provide you with an interesting project, but can also produce some stunning results.

Strip It Bare
Once the rooms are clear and the wallpaper is off, you will be in a better position to assess the state of the property. Before removing any structural elements such as mantelpieces or knocking through walls, check that there are sufficient load-bearing supports in place. One of the most common features to find is original flooring. Beautiful tiles and intricate parquet were often covered with carpet, cork or lino in the 1960s and 1970s. If you are lucky enough to find either of these, replace any cracked tiles, clean and polish the floor and enjoy a stunningly spectacular floor at a bargain price. Many old houses had a fireplace in every bedroom, so check to see if you have any hidden behind a wall. You may choose to keep them as decorative features but many can be restored to be fully functional.

Safety First
You may be able to reuse a lot of materials for your renovation project but one area where it is vital to not take any chances is with your electricals. Rewiring an old property might seem a hassle but it is absolutely essential to ensure that all electrical work meets current safety standards. A current-detecting screwdriver is an invaluable tool. If you are updating a kitchen then Crabtree grid switches are perfect for all your appliances. Check all sockets and light fixtures, as well as the fuses, on any second-hand appliances you buy.

Salvaged Treasure
If some of the original features have been lost or damaged, don't despair. Salvage and reclamation yards are great places to pick up antique fireplaces, art deco mantelpieces or vintage lamps. Alternatively, look for reproduction furniture and fittings to create the right look. Choose quality mouldings and elaborate ceiling roses to finish the room – no one will guess they aren't the real thing.

Renovating an old property is a truly exciting undertaking. From creating the plans and salvaging fittings to installing Crabtree grid switches and unblocking fireplaces, you're embarking on a project that is sure to provide you with some unique and thrilling experiences.

Metallic Finishes - Modern & Contemporary

Modern Metallics – Dazzling Accessories for Stylish Interiors

You've probably spent a great deal of time and effort choosing the perfect colours and furnishings for your home, but there's one aspect of your interior that might not have been given quite the same amount of attention. Door handles, ceiling roses, light switches and other wiring accessories are among the smaller decorating details that are often a last-minute addition. And whilst plastic or wood are obvious choices for such functional elements, there are some stunning metallic options that can make a real impact.

Go for Gold

Brass or gold-coloured accessories can bring a luxurious, opulent feel to your décor. Perfect for teaming with rich reds, imperial purples or regal blues, gold accessories add a sumptuous touch. Instead of a plain pendant light, what about installing an elegant chandelier? Whether you choose a simple, minimalist design or a more elaborate confection, a metallic light makes a stunning focal point for your room. Many are also supplied with elaborately adorned ceiling roses which are much more attractive than boring white plastic. Add ornate gold handles to drawers, cupboards and doors. These work especially well on wooden furniture to create a warm, sophisticated ambience. If you'd prefer something a little less flamboyant, then choose metallic accessories with an antique gold finish. The slightly worn effect of the tarnishing is pleasingly charming, fitting perfectly with the current trends for shabby chic and vintage. You can even get plug sockets and other wiring accessories in a metallic finish. Choose brighter polished brass for a glittering look, or brushed gold for a softer, more understated effect.

All That Glitters

If gold isn't for you, then there are plenty of other options. Silver, chrome, aluminium and steel are the ideal metals to complement a more contemporary style. Neutral in tone, they are a great accompaniment to almost any shade. Choose highly polished metallics for a sleek and dramatic look or a matt, brushed surface for a subtler effect. Ornate silver accessories such as light fittings can look enchantingly pretty. For a contemporary, minimalist feel, choose simple angular shapes such as geometric handles. If you are concerned that metal sockets might look too industrial, many are available with rounded corners which soften their overall appearance. For something truly unique, look at metallic black or even copper fittings and make a real design statement.

Whether your style is sumptuous traditional or contemporary chic, metallic accessories can provide the perfect finishing touch to your home.

Company No. 08328804