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Category Archives: Home Improvement

DIY Storage Ideas

The simplest and easiest way to save space is by keeping boxes or containers under other furniture. That space never gets used and what better way to keep toys, books and shoes tucked away. Put wheels on these containers for easier handling.

Artists, children, craftsmen and project makers always have stationery lying around. These handy home tools also tend to get lost in the depths of drawers or between stacks of paper. To solve this problem, all you need to do is put that stationery inside empty tins. Tins are the most versatile recyclable material and you could decorate them too. You can also keep cooking utensils in tins decorated with a kitchen theme.

Are you the type of person that has millions of shoes that just lie all over the place? You can easily fix this problem by stacking plastic piping together or use an old wine rack. By doing this you never have to worry about shoes falling out of your cupboards.

Showers don’t have a large area of space. So it would get annoying if you constantly have shampoo and soap bottles falling on you or around your feet. It is well known that showers have an incline to allow water into the drain. This will also make those bottles slide to the centre of the shower to exactly where you are standing. Cut a plastic 2 litre bottle halfway through and add a hook at the top of the bottle. Hook the plastic bottle to the shower handle and you will instantly have a shower gel holder.

We know that there are ladies out there that have an incredible, colourful collection of nail polish. Doesn’t it just get on your nerves when you have to dig through a bag and not find the colour that goes with your dress? Make use of a spice rack. Not only does this stick to a wall but it also gives you extra drawer space.

Create Outdoor Meditation Space

Distance doesn’t have to be in linear feet. In this context, it means separation. To find real relaxation, you should remove yourself from the sights, sounds, and smells, yes smells, that trigger your daily stress. The barking dog, the dishes that need to be put in the dishwasher, the bleeping smart phone. These are distractions that make up your daily life, but that intrude on your moments of meditation. One of the best ways to escape these is in your yard. A pergola or gazebo is a great place to find peace and distance. If winter won’t make these feasible, a cabana or pool house could give you the right amount of shelter and solitude. Whatever space you have or choose, the point is to create a space where your worries and cares of the day are just plain not allowed.

One really cool concept is from ancient Japan and China and it’s the garden bridge. The symbolism is that when you cross the bridge, you cross to a peaceful place. Install a garden bridge, even if you don’t have anything that needs bridging, to give your mind a barrier that changes your outlook once you walk over it. Another ancient concept is some sort of zig-zag pattern in the walkway that gets you to your meditation space. Evil spirits of folklore could only travel in straight lines, so they can’t follow you to your serenity. It may sound silly in our modern world, but you don’t have to believe in evil spirits to make the concept work for you. It’s no different than how an athlete warms up to get his muscles stretched before a match. You need that time to get ready to work and stretch your mind and soul.

Nothing is more peaceful than the sounds, sights and smells of nature. Your home may be comfortable and cozy, or elegant and impressive and a source of great pride. But it’s not nature. Your yard is probably natural, by definition. But if you pick a spot for a pergola or gazebo that doesn’t particularly have much lushness, invest in some flowers and plants. Not only do they provide soothing comfort, if you can plant some with your favorite aromas, they help you find the inner peace you are seeking. If your space is enclosed, like a cabana or pool house, make sure you’ve got windows to let in the outdoors. Or, bring in bonsai trees and other foliage.

But wait – you say you have a brown thumb, so how are you going to keep all this plant life alive? Well, studies show that a connection with nature brings peaceful thoughts and calms the mind. Do some research and find plants and flowers that even your skill level can tend to.

Sound can be enormously soothing or incredibly stressful. Car horns, sirens, construction noise. These sounds can grate your nerves and send you into a near anxiety attack. On the other hand, water is incredibly soothing and can wash away your stress and frustrations. Whether it’s waves sloshing on the sand or gentle rain or a fountain. Incorporate a real water feature into your meditation space. You don’t have to hire a landscape architect to build you an expensive mini-waterfall and babbling brook in your back yard. A simple table top fountain might be all it takes. They are not that expensive and run on either battery or wall power. Position it close to you so that it covers neighborhood cars or planes overhead.

The most peaceful meditation spaces are minimal. Clutter, to some people, in and of itself is a stressor. A comfortable chair or soft floor cushion, possibly a side table for a sound machine, incense burner or meditation bells is likely all you need. This is not where you’ll place your expensive outdoor dining set or pool bar. Create your meditation space away from those distractions. Even with your eyes closed, you’ll know they are there and it can disrupt your mindfulness.

Novices at meditation often give up early because meditation takes practice. Some never really master it. If you’re one of them, fret not. You don’t need to be an expert mediator to create a space to find peacefulness. A hammock, a porch swing or a rocking chair might be all you need a few minutes a day to create your meditation space. Or even a reading nook, deep in a corner of your yard that gets great morning sun, can become your oasis of solitude. The true key is to pick a place that separates you from your stressors and allows you to connect with nature and your inner peace.

Natural Slate Flooring

There are many companies currently importing flooring slate into the UK at the moment, far too many to list here and the main countries that they are exported from are India, Africa and China. Each continent has its own particular geology and colour/type varieties that have made their way to the UK and have become established as very fashionable and popular flooring materials – widely used in Kitchens, Hallways and Conservatories.

For flooring purposes, there are two basic types of slate – diamond sawn and chipped edge. The diamond sawn varieties are formats that are cut into varying sizes using water cooled diamond saws to produce tiles that have clean straight edges and are useful for more formal installations, the others are chipped edge formats which tend to be softer and have a very rustic hand trimmed edge to them – lending themselves to more rustic installations.

Slates also come in calibrated and uncalibrated thicknesses – if heights are an issue, calibrated varieties are the best to choose as they are more uniform in thickness and are less tricky to lay level and true – uncalibrated are exactly that and there can be as much as 10mm variance in the thickness of a single tile from one edge to another – these types are better left to installation by seasoned professionals as they can be very tricky to bed correctly.

As slates are essentially compressed mud, they are porous and as such they will need to be sealed during installation in order to make them a serviceable floor. Again, there are a raft of different sealers on the market either being solvent or water based and in most cases the slates will need an impregnator applied before finishing with two coats of sealer. Impregnators enhance the colours in the slates and form the essential primer coat that makes the tile ready for its final seal coats. Most final seals are water based and give the tiles a warm, eggshell lustre which lends itself perfectly to the type of material that it is.

Maintenance of a sealed slate floor is simple, a soft broom sweep over is usually enough and for those who want to wash their floors, just warm water in a mop and bucket or a specialist cleaner such as HG Superfloor or Pool Universale.

Upcycling Tricks

When searching the Internet, set yourself some rules. It is so easy to go on and on, clicking through this link and following that link. This is when time gets wasted. Below are the four rules I give myself:

Give yourself a time limit. This ensures you don’t waste time, it focuses your mind on the task and if you haven’t found anything to get your creative juices flowing by the time you reach your limit, then it quite possible that you need a break from it anyway.

When looking for ideas, keep it to two or three. You can always look again another day.

Avoid clicking through links. These are designed to take you away and lead onto the wrong path. Make a note of whatever it is that inspires you, then move on. You can go back to it later and see if you feel the same.

When you have your selection, close the browser.

It’s up to you whether or not you want to put boundaries on your searching. If you are a disciplined person you probably don’t need to. But if you are easily led and prone to procrastination like me, then setting some rules will help.

Magazines such as Reloved are a good source of inspiration. I have a good read through, marking any pages with pictures or information that might be useful or a project I would like to try. I then cut them out of the magazine and put them in a folder, building up my own library of ideas.

One question that concerns some people is that of copying. It is wrong to copy other peoples work for commercial gain. The simple answer is yes, so don’t do it. But, having said that, there is nothing wrong with being inspired by someone elses ideas.

When searching for ideas and you find something you would like go for it. Don’t be scarred. What usually happens is, when you take an idea and start to think about it, or try and recreate it, you put a bit of yourself into it. A technique or style unique to you, which ultimately evolves the original into something only you could have made.

House Decorating on Budget

Pillows
This is by far my favorite way to reinvent a space. A lot of people will say that decorating with pillows is not inexpensive, but those people just haven’t looked hard enough. Of course if you purchase throw pillows from Anthropoloie they are going to be expensive but I’m here to tell you that the $5 throw pillow from Walmart is just as comfortable. If you already have throw pillows lying around purchase pillow covers; I have found some great ones on Amazon ranging from $2-$10. Pillows are the perfect crossbreed of functionality and fashion.

Light up Jugs & Jars
This is a simple and adorable way to light up a space. You can find the necessary items, a string of lights and a clear jar or jug, nearly anywhere. My favorite place to find jugs and jars is the thrift store, this is where you will likely find one that is more unique. All you have to do to accomplish this fun look is to put a string of lights, floss or Christmas, in the jar then let it glow. This is a great and fun way to light up an area with little expense.

Hang Plates
This sounds obscure but if done well is so charming. To accomplish this all you have to do is find a smattering of plates-different sizes, patterns, even shapes and hang them on the wall. The only requirement is to make sure that each and every plate complement one another. You can hang these plates above a mantel, on a large empty wall or an entryway. If you search for plates that are unique but inexpensive, I’m talking thrift store here, this look will transform a room with little cost and effort.

Homemade Chalkboards

Here is what you will need:

– Framed glass picture (I found mine at Goodwill for about $3 a piece)
– Painters tape
– Latex gloves
– Sanding block
– Primer
– Pint of desired paint color (for frame)
– Chalkboard paint
– (2)1″ paintbrushes
– Small roller brush
– Paint tray
– Newspaper, tarp or cardboard (for easy clean-up)
– Chalk

Optional (If you wish to hang the chalkboard):

– Nails
– Hammer

Preparation:

Start by taking all of your supplies outside or to some open area. Lay down the protective material you selected for easy clean-up (I used a broken-down cardboard box).

Getting Started:

We will start by painting the frame first, then finish with the chalkboard paint. Begin by taping the glass that is immediately surrounding the frame. Next, sand the frame with the sanding block. Be sure to sand until the frame has a rough texture so that the new coat of paint will stay on. Next, prime the frame with the primer and a paintbrush (depending on the original color, you may need 2 coats). By using a paintbrush, you can ensure that you are getting inside any grooves of the frame. Priming keeps the original color of the frame from showing up underneath the new paint color. Let any coats of primer dry completely.

Painting:

We are going to paint right on top of the glass and on top of any picture that might be hiding underneath. Ensuring that the glass is still taped from the priming steps, we will begin painting the picture frame. Since we are using such a small amount of paint, it is not necessary to pour the paint into a tray. Dip your 1″ paintbrush into the pint of paint and dab away any excess paint on the rim of the container. Paint the frame using long strokes, and be sure that your paint is being applied in just one direction (do not go side to side when you paint the frame with upward and downward strokes). By using a paintbrush, you can be sure that any nooks and crannies are seeing an equal amount of paint as every other spot on the frame. You will probably need at least two coats (let the coats dry completely before continuing).

Applying chalkboard paint to the glass:

Once the frame has completely dried, remove the tape from the glass. Next, you will need to tape the edges of the frame nearest to the glass to ensure that you do not get chalkboard paint all over your newly-painted frame. Next, you will need your chalkboard paint. You can buy chalkboard paint in a spray can or in a paint tub (I do not have excellent spray-painting skills, so I bought a quart of chalkboard paint). Pour your chalkboard paint into a paint tray and get your paint roller. Begin by rolling the chalkboard paint on the glass in long strokes (be sure that the paint goes on in just one direction). Let the first coat dry completely before adding the second. I like a very dark chalkboard so I painted a total of three coats onto my glass, just make sure that the coats are even. Once the chalkboard paint is dry, remove the tape from the picture frame.

Making Patio Furniture

If you opt for a metal framed patio set, then you will need to source the same type of metal. This will help you with the structure and the soldering process. With metal you will have to solder the pieces together so that it can be sturdy. To begin the process you will need to measure the parts and cut them to size. Make sure that you measure twice to avoid any mishaps with the length of the parts. Place all the parts in the order that you will join them. Double check this. Once you are sure of each part’s positioning then begin with soldering it together. Once the parts are together and you have all your patio seats, you can paint it the colour you desire. The metal patio set will prove to be hard and cold to sit on. For this you can simply measure the seating and back areas so that an upholsterer can make the cushions for you.

The wood option is usually more popular because it doesn’t rust and it is a cheaper alternative to the metal. In most cases, people find unused pallets and use it to create their own furniture masterpieces. With pallet wood you don’t have to start from scratch. You could simply take one pallet as it is, add four small legs on each corner, sand it and paint it to create an outdoor coffee table. You may want to add a glass top for a smooth surface. For the seats you will need to take the pallet apart in order to piece the wood together to make it sturdy. You will need a saw, hammer, nails and glue to achieve this. Again, make sure that you measure the length of the wood so that your patio seats are all the same size and are symmetrical. If you are happy with the measurements, then glue and nail the wood pieces together. You can paint the wood or varnish it for a natural appearance. Measure the seating and back area. Send those measurements along with your choice of material to the furniture manufacturer who can make it for you. That part you don’t have to make yourself, because sewing the cushions can be a bit tricky if you haven’t done it before.

Paint Furniture

The first step is to sand the wood. This is just to allow a place for the paint and primer to hold on to. This can also take out any blemishes like watermarks, or other imperfections that make your furniture look unsightly. Sanding is still a good idea if your furniture already has a rough feel to it. It will just make a nice, even place for the paint to lie. Also, you don’t need to sand it too much, just enough to roughen it up and be careful not to over sand one area and under sand another. You want it to be even throughout without any hills and valleys in it.

After you have sanded it is time to apply the primer and prepare for the paint. First, apply primer in an even coat over the whole piece of furniture. Let it dry and then wipe it off with a tack cloth. This will make it so that there is no lint or fluff pieces on it.

While painting, use a nice roller to apply the paint in a few coats. Be sure that if you use a latex or oil based primer you use the same based paint. This will result in a better adhesion of the paint. Between each coat sand any imperfections and wipe with a tack cloth before you put on the next coat of paint. Make sure to paint evenly and with the same pressure so you don’t get any bubbles or running paint.

After you are done letting the paint dry you can either use your piece of furniture or apply a clear protective coat over the top. This will just protect your paint and the furniture better. If you do decide to put on a clear protective layer use a new roller and apply with light pressure so it applies in an even coat.

Irrigation Systems

Water and time conservation: The alternative to irrigation systems is a hose or watering cans. If you have used any, you know that it takes time, it’s tiring, and consumes a lot of water. When you invest in an irrigation system, it comes with timers that you can set to your liking. This means that you can go away for a weekend and the unit will work by itself. The unit also consumes only little water which sees you spending just a little of it.

Increase in home value: Simple things are the ones that enhance the value of a home. Of these things is the quality of your lawn. The greener it is, the higher the quality of the house. Due to this, if you are a home seller, you will sell the house at a higher price.

Preservation of soil structure and nutrients: When you water your plants with a watering can or garden hose, you allow a lot of water to seep into the soil. Due to this, nutrients leach out leaving the land with just a few nutrients. It’s also common for the soil to be compacted when you water the plants with a hose. Soil compaction affects the plants negatively. The plants may start withering or even develop root diseases. When you use an irrigation system, none of this happens which keeps your plants in top shape.

Prevents weeds and diseases: When you use irrigation systems such as specialized drip irrigation systems, you direct water to the rootball of each plant-you don’t sprinkle the entire garden. As a result of this, the surrounding weeds don’t geminate; thus you have less weeding to do.

Experts also report that when there is water at the roots, your plants don’t suffer from leaf diseases that result from standing droplets on the foliage. It’s also rare for the plants to have blight conditions as water doesn’t strike the leaves.

Growth improvement: Studies show that when you water the plants with small amounts of water over a long period, the plants tend to grow faster as you will be providing them with an ideal condition for growth. Due to this, you stand to enjoy greener and more luscious lawns and gardens.

Air Conditioning Repair

#Issue 1: My air conditioner does not cool well.

#Solution:

This is the most common issue that every AC owner faces. Here is the list of things you can do about it.

Make sure the thermostat is set to the right temperature.

Check for the circuit breaker. The issue could be as small as a tripped fuse.

Check if the outlet’s voltage meets your AC’s requirement.

Switch off the AC, remove the filter and get in cleaned. A clean filter allows easy air flow.

Clean the compressor and condenser unit with a damp cloth. Do not use a water faucet.

Make sure that the compressor is working. If it is working you will be able to hear the outdoor compressor and the fan will be turning. If not then it is the time to call your technician.

#Issue 2: Water drips and pools around the base of my AC

#Solution:

Water formed due to condensation and it usually exits the air handler through plastic pipe or a drain tube. Dripping may be caused by a leaky pipe that needs to be replaced o a blocked pipe that needs to be cleaned.

Sometimes condensation can occur when the pump that transfers the hot air into the condenser becomes non-functional. In this case, In this case, you would need the help of a AC technician.

#Issue 3: Huge chunks of ice forms in my AC

#Solution:

This can be caused due to a number of reasons.

Ice formation occurs if the indoor unit’s evaporator coil is frozen and cold liquid refrigerant starts flowing to the outside unit through the refrigerant line freezing up the whole unit. This can be resolved by turning the AC off and the fan on to melt the ice.

Pieces of ice can appear if the filter is not clean which in turn reduces airflow over the evaporator coil, causing it to freeze. Regular cleaning of the filter solves this issue.

Blocked or closed supply and return vents reduce the airflow to the evaporator coil thus causing ice formation. Make sure that these vents are not blocked by cloth or any piece of furniture.

Issues like refrigerant leaks, malfunctioning indoor blower and clogged evaporator coils should be repaired only by trained AC technicians or professionals.

#Issue 4: Weird noises come out of my AC

#Solution:

Certain types of noises can signal that something is wrong with your AC.

Rattling sounds are produced by fans that are loosely fixed. Tighten the screws, clean the blades and check for bent blades that may be striking the interior of the unit.

Screeching noises may be caused due to friction. Prevent the occurrence of this squeaky noise by oiling the air conditioner motor at the beginning of each summer.