Worst Interior Design Crimes

artexLet’s face it – we’re all nosy when it comes to other people’s houses and we love seeing how people have decorated and what sort of furniture they have. It’s part of the huge appeal of property improvement programmes or those moving houses programmes which always seem to be on Channel 4 in the evenings. We love nothing better than seeing other people’s DIY disasters and a hideously outdated house makes us feel better about our magnolia walls and rather 1980s wallpaper. A recent survey highlighted the worst DIY “crimes” of the last few decades. Own up, how many of these feature in your house?

Built In Bar

This is one style which should have been firmly left in the 1970s. During that decade many of us built wooden or fake leather bars into our homes, thinking they looked great. The style was more Del Boy than upmarket, and although most bar owners have come to their senses and ripped them out years ago, many houses up and down the UK still have bars lurking in the corner of the living room. If you’re one of them and are thinking of selling your house at any time in the near future, get rid of the bar quick smart.

Artex and Woodchip

When decorating is more about covering up uneven walls or dodgy efforts at wallpapering from previous owners, artex and woodchip covers a multitude of sins. Swirled artex plaster is a nightmare to remove as it needs to be thoroughly sanded down and then skimmed over the top with a new layer of plaster, and if you’re thinking about removing woodchip wallpaper you’ll need endless patience, lots of warm water, good quality wallpaper scrapers and lots of help. The mere thought of all the work puts people off houses which are artex-ed and woodchipped to the hilt.

Black Ash Furniture

Nowadays it’s all about good quality oak living and dining furniture, but back in the 1980s and 90s you would only be fashionable with black ash tables and chairs. This look has dated very quickly as tastes have changed and you’d struggle to shift black ash items even at the car boot sale. If you’ve still got some 80s black ash items that are of reasonable quality they can be painted to update the look, or simply bite the bullet and ditch them for some modern oak dining furniture instead.

Coloured Bathroom Suites

What were we thinking? Back in the 1970s and 1980s we flocked to the bathroom stores in our droves, demanding bathroom suites in lurid shades like avocado green, pink and brown. Tiles had to match of course, so there are still thousands of bathrooms up and down the UK resplendent in shades of sludgy green and brown. Updating a bathroom suite doesn’t have to be expensive, but you’ll need the skills of a plumber to do the job properly and professionally. And when you’re shopping for your new bathroom, don’t consider any colour other than basic, standard, classic white.

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Guest article by Morag Peers written for National Furniture UK, where you will find a great ranges of quality Oak dining furniture, and don’t worry, none of it’s in the black ash style!

Is Property Development Still Profitable?

building_a_house_on_woodend_lane_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1130664We’re a nation who loves our homes, and owning a property is far more important to people in the UK than in other countries in Europe. Our television screens are filled with shows about how to buy property cheaply, do it up and sell it again at a profit. Until the property crash of 2008, it seemed that every year property prices were going up by as much as 15% or 20% in a single year and making money buying and selling houses was easy. Many developers became millionaires, and many others had extensive buy-to-let portfolios of dozens of properties. However, times are hard and the property market has changed considerably.

Mortgaging

Banks have become very reluctant to lend to developers, and unless you’re in the fortunate position of being able to finance the purchase of a property with cash, getting a mortgage can be tricky. At the very least you will need a large deposit of 40% of the purchase price, along with whatever money you need to spend to bring the property up to scratch. As the average house price in the UK is around £250k, would be developers will need to have around £100k just to get started. This rules many property developers out of the market completely.

House Prices

The housing market is showing signs of recovery, but in many areas people are staying put in their homes and are just not selling up. This means that there are not as many properties on the sale to be bought and done up. However, on the flip side there are an increasing number of repossessed properties which can mean the opportunity to get flats or houses at below market value, if you can hold your nerve at the auction.

Doing the Work

A canny developer will take on a property which is dated, but structurally sound. If the roof is intact with no loose ties or leaks, replacing the roofline soffit boards and sealants will make the exterior appearance far better and the house more sellable. Similarly, ripping out an avocado green bathroom suite and replacing it with a cheap white one will not cost huge amounts but will increase the value considerably. The difference between making money and losing money is knowing how much work will cost when you look around a property, and have a mental shopping list for new bathroom suites, kitchen tiles, emulsion paint, roofline soffit products, timber and everything else you will need to work out how much potential profit there is in the job.

Selling

As anyone who has ever watched programmes like Homes Under the Hammer will know, the key to a profitable development is sticking to your budget and schedule for the project. Getting things finished quickly means you will get your money back more quickly too. Pitch your house at a realistic selling price, accept any good offer and then assess whether it is time to stop or whether to reinvest the money into another project.

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Morag Peers writes on a large range of subjects including home improvement and travel. Read more on Morag’s Google+ profile page.

The Vintage Look

top_pskzt_wgd7mSome fashions come and go, but alongside this there is always style. Items with style are unaffected by the passage of time. They retain their appeal no matter what the decade.

This is increasingly being acknowledged and nowadays the smarter folk are striving for style in every aspect of their lives. This is reflected by the growing demand for products that are referred to as ‘vintage’. The word was originally associated with wine – as is obvious when you see that ‘vin’ is part of it – but it is increasingly being used to refer to everything from clothes to furniture.
Vintage clothing
Vintage clothing incorporates a wide range of looks. In short, anything associated with a particular era can be considered ‘vingtage’. It doesn’t need to be a certain age – there are shops selling Nineties clothing in this way, although the Sixties and Seventies are generally more popular with customers.
They don’t have a monopoly on sales, however. Eighties clothing has been enjoying a resurgence in recent years and classic looks from even further back have their fans too. For some people, it is about having clothes of a certain cut and design; for others, it is about finding clothes which look worn and aged; or it could just be about having the right TV or film reference on a T-shirt. ‘Vintage’ means different things to different people, but it is always about looking good.
Vintage furniture
We have been through an era where furniture has become remarkably cheap, but there seems to be a little bit of a reaction to that. Affordable flat-pack furniture can be sleek and modern, but it doesn’t have much character about it and that is vintage furniture offers in abundance.
Whereas laminate furniture immediately shows its true value when damaged, traditional, handmade pieces improve with a bit of wear and tear. This is what people look for now to the extent that many pieces are artificially aged in order that they are more appealing to people. Done well, the scuffs and chips can add a little something, but more often than not, they look feeble and artificial. It is hard to accelerate time, even with the right tools.
Old furniture has unmistakeable class, but there is a way of producing new furniture which looks just as good – through the use of reclaimed materials. Reclaimed wood has aged naturally and to this can be added period accessories. A robust, oak door can be decorated with an antique door knob and knocker and the effect would be to instantly create a door with timeless style.

Melanie Dillon writes on behalf of www.priorsrec.co.uk

How To Combat Cold Laminate Flooring This Winter

ar132776275447592Laminate flooring has become very popular in the UK in recent years with huge growth thanks to companies such as Amtico and Karndean. The attraction is often the durability and cleanliness of laminate, especially for those parents with young children who will dread getting food on the carpet every time they feed their child. But not only for those reasons as laminate flooring is no longer just strips of wood, there are many different designs now that give a huge amount of choice, such as laminate that looks like tiles but which gives you the obvious savings cost and reduces time and mess when being put in. It also offers more durability than lino.
The downside of having laminate flooring in the UK is the cold winters. It sometimes doesn’t seem as appealing as carpet when it’s really cold. There are solutions, however.
Under Floor Heating
Under floor heating is a perfect solution and if you have it or have experienced it, it certainly takes away any issues of having cold feet in the winter. It’s perfect for laminate or tiled flooring in the bathroom, kitchen or throughout your house or apartment and can be set to a timer, just as with your normal heating. It is a real treat when you get out the shower. The issue, however, is the cost of installing it followed by the expense of running it through the winter as well. It will most likely increase those heating bills, which are increasing at a rate of knots anyway. But if you can afford it, then go for it.
Rugs
The other option is to lay rugs down. There are many different types and sizes of rugs for all requirements, such as hall runners for landings and hallways. Shaggy and sheepskin rugs are very popular during the winter because they are warm and cosy on your feet and so great for the bathroom or your bedroom. You can even get rugs that can be machine-washed, so if that kid’s plate does end up upside-down on your rug then it’s easily sorted. Rugs come at different prices depending on the quality. This doesn’t mean the thickness of the rug, as many people think. Thin rugs can be high quality as well.
Slippers
For a quick, temporary solution, you can always buy a pair of slippers to keep those feet nice and toasty warm. That way you can walk on any flooring.

Alan Simpson writes on behalf of Rugs Centre.

Change Your Living Room for the Better

Living-roomSometimes, you just want a change in your surroundings. Of course, you could always pack up and move to a new place, but most of us simply can’t afford that luxury. Instead, most of us will rearrange our furniture, or give the walls a fresh coat of paint. The most creative of us, however, can redecorate our homes to give it a completely different look and feel for very little money. There are lots of ways you can do this without breaking the bank, if you’re resourceful enough to make wise use of your cash and what you have laying around the house.

There are many easy steps and items you can utilize to change the look of your living room. Some of the easiest to change are:

  • Paints or Wallpapers
  • Furniture Covers and Throw Pillows
  • Curtains and Window Treatments
  • Wall and Table Decorations

These simple changes can go far towards your goal of updating your surroundings on a budget.

Dress Up Your Couch

A good place to start with any remodeling project is your couch. The couch is perhaps one of the largest pieces of furniture in your house, and it gets a lot of attention. Such a large, conspicuous piece of furniture can be expensive to replace, but you can change the look of your couch without much effort. A good slipcover, for example, can make drastic changes to the look of your couch.

They come in a variety of colors and patterns, and can easily be made if you have more skill with needle and thread than money. Next up is an assortment of throw pillows. Pillows of various shapes and sizes can be utilized to give your couch a fun little twist, and again can easily be made or picked up cheaply at your favorite bargain house.

Fix Up Those Tables

Your coffee and end tables are another great place to add a little class without going overboard in the money department. There are various coverings you can employ here, or if you want to keep things simple, stripping, staining, or painting them can be a good way to go. Accenting them with vases and knick-knacks can likewise be done for little money, but if you’re looking to add a little class, picking up some crystal pieces or indoor fountains is a great, low cost solution. Books can be another great decorative item, and depending on the books you choose, can help convey a sense of class to your guests.

Hitting the Wall

Another way to completely change the look of your living room is to change out your tired old curtains for some new drapes. As with the couch covers, curtains and drapes come in a variety of colors, styles and patterns to fit any look you’re trying to achieve with very little investment. Blinds, likewise, can do much to change the look of your walls and windows without costing much, and they also come in a plethora of colors and styles.

Paint and wallpaper are another good way for enhancing the look of the room in a cost effective way. Textured paints and papers, bright or subdued color schemes, and creating accent walls will all help you achieve the desired look for minimal investment. While you’re fixing up your walls, don’t forget to get some pictures and mirrors to hang. Adding right picture or mirror will go a long way towards enhancing the look of your walls and will likely become an attractive focal point of the room if chosen correctly.

Of course, the wrong picture or mirror will destroy the look you’re trying to get, so careful consideration when choosing your wall decorations must be used. Wall sconces and shelves are another cheap item to consider and can help round out a room, bringing it from “almost there” to “just right” when used in combination with the right table, furniture, and table treatments.

Getting that new look you desire can is not as hard as you think, and with a little effort and some creative thinking, you can be in the room of your dreams in no time at all.

Polly Godwin is the owner of KineticFountains.com, a company specializing in indoor waterfalls, outdoor water fountains and more.

Choppy Progress in Housing

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Reports out this week showed the housing market taking two steps forward and one step back. New—and existing—home sales numbers dipped after strong showings in November. But for 2012 as a whole, both home prices and total sales rose significantly, confirming that a recovery’s taking place in the housing market. So despite the December blips, the general trend in housing is positive and this sector is now making modest but positive contributions to headline GDP growth. For the week ended January 25, 2013, the S&P 500 Index was up 1.1% to 1,503 (for a year-to-date total return—including price change plus dividends—of about 5.5%). The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up 11 basis points to 1.98% (for a year-to-date increase of 20 basis points). Read more  

10 Nasty Basement Flooding Disasters

By the RestorationSOS Educational Staff

Basement flooding can do serious damage to a home – not just from the destruction of property and possessions, but also because it can create the perfect environment for all kinds of nasty creatures – from mold and fungus to insects and other creepy-crawlies.

If your basement has ever flooded in the past, you can probably commiserate. Cleaning up is no joke, and it goes beyond simple water removal to often needing more extensive cleaning, disinfecting, and even renovation services.

If you were lucky, you only experienced minor damage and minimal cleanup work, unlike the victims of the following basement flooding and mold horror stories.

The Grossest Basement Flooding Stories You’ll Ever Hear (& See)

We’ve collected some of the worst horror stories and images from around the web caused by basement flooding, growth of mold, and more.

Swimming Pool’s Worth of Poo Water

Nothing like coming home to a swimming pool’s worth of water and poo in your basement, which is exactly what homeowners in Widefield, CO came home to after a sewer pipe in their neighborhood backed up. Even after water removal was complete, a nasty sludge of raw sewage and feces coated most surfaces. Homeowners couldn’t even turn on the air conditioning, because of the possibility of blood born pathogens and bacteria from the feces.

Resource: http://www.coloradoconnection.com/news/story.aspx?id=633813#.UKKs97u2ZMs

Unscheduled Party Entertainment

If there’s anything worse than an overflowing toilet, it’s an overflowing toilet that floods your basement during your kid’s birthday party…that you then have to clean up. We’ll let the victim tell the story herself – though we’ve taken the liberty of bleeping out the expletives:

“There were about 20 people at the house when my friend comes running up from the basement telling me my toilet was over flowing. I was mortified. I almost threw up right there. I went downstairs to survey the damage, that’s when I actually did throw up. I cleaned raw sewage all day. Took me about 8 hours, solo, to get everything clean again. I threw away 2 brand new shop vacs and everything I was wearing. I couldn’t take a shower, so I scrubbed myself stupid naked in my back yard at night with a garden hose. It was one of the worst days of my life. Somehow during the cleaning, I had gotten crap in my *bleeping* ear. It was in my hair. *BLEEP!* I need a shower now.”

Resource: http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=454180

A Dangerous Roommate

When an elderly woman fell ill and was hospitalized, her family wanted her home assessed, as it seemed that even if she recovered, she would no longer be able to live alone. They called a local contractor to assess the condition of the home.

The result? The woman’s attic was completely filled with mold, by a leak in her basement! For years, a chronic leak in her basement had caused moisture in the basement walls. Mold took root and began creeping up the walls of house, until it was able to take over even the attic! Doctors at the hospital discovered her illness was from years of breathing in the mold that had invaded her home without her knowledge – it took her 8 months to fully recover.

Resource: http://www.rainkingwaterproofing.com/mold-and-mildew.htm

Louisville Livin’

Apparently, it’s all the rage to have a lake in your basement in Kentucky. Throw in some leeches, some carp, and a few poisonous snakes, and you can technically have your own filthy, disgusting swamp!

Resource: http://uglyhousephotos.com/wordpress/?p=17547

Unwanted House Guests

These cute little fellas moved in after a basement in Long Island flooded and was never properly dried. They just love damp, dark places with piles of clutter all around. Though they look like something out of an alien invasion movie, the good news is they’re fairly harmless to you and your pets, even if they are terrifyingly disgusting.

Resource: http://www.whatsthatbug.com/2012/01/18/camel-crickets-infest-basement-in-new-york/

Are You Sure That’s Water?

Not much needs to be said on this image – except that the photographer claims that’s a pool of water in the basement of a building. Looks like a pool of something alright, just not water…we keep expecting the creature from the black lagoon to pop out and say “boo.”

Resource: http://www.flickr.com/photos/reallyboring/2708662836/

The Mold That Wouldn’t Let Go

While this may not be the grossest basement ever, the real horror lies in what the cleanup and water removal uncovered. After heavy rains flooded a basement in Minnesota with 2 inches of water, the homeowners did everything right. They removed the water with the help of family, friends, and a strong Shop Vac, had dehumidifiers and fans running to dry things up, and even hired an abatement company to ensure mold didn’t invade the home. Sounds like a happy ending right? Wrong. One of the owners began getting headaches after spending time in the basement. Closer inspection revealed mold growing up the drywall – to the point where you could literally poke a finger through the wall! Shoddy and corner-cutting renovations by earlier owners left overloaded circuit boxes, wall studs that didn’t reach the ceiling, and 2x1s where 2x4s should have been used, among other things.

In a way, the flooded basement was a blessing in disguise, leading the homeowners to discover serious issues with their basement that posed major health and safety risks. Lots of renovations and $45,000 later, the Rickgarns were finally mold-free.

Resource: http://www.marshallindependent.com/page/content.detail/id/527862/Out-with-the-mold–in-with-the-new.html?nav=5015

Dead Man’s Fingers Found In Basement

Ok, to be fair, they’re not the actual fingers off of a corpse, but a type of fungus/mushroom. Either way, having them in your basement is creepy and disgusting. Of course, a dirt-floor cellar with water seepage in a house built in the 1830s is bound to have some “unique” growths.

Resources: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kellypuffs/1662597763/

That Ain’t Mud Making The Water Brown

Not quite sure of the story behind this one – but we sincerely doubt the brown tint to the water comes from mud. We’re guessing a fragrant mix of raw sewage, feces, and dirt gives it that muddy water shade.

Resource: http://www.clevelandsportstorture.com/2012/10/oh-no-she-didnt-browns-first-lady-calls.html

What Beautiful Wallpap—OMG, That’s NOT WALLPAPER!

Ok, while technically this is someone’s first floor, it’s horrifying enough that it had to make the list. Besides, if the upstairs looks like this, we can only imagine how disgusting the basement is…after all, the water started down there!

Resource: http://manhattan-newyork.olx.com/bronx-brooklyn-staten-island-queens-jersey-city-flooded-basement-sewage-backup-cleanup-iid-90583417

What To Do If Your Basement Floods

Water removal is the most important step of cleaning up after a basement flood. If you’ve experienced a serious flood, you’ll need to determine (and repair) the cause of the flood, remove all water, and allow your basement to dry out. From there, it’s important to make sure no mold or fungus has taken root – and if it has, you’ll need to get it looked at ASAP.

If you have flood insurance, it may alleviate most of your cost, depending on your coverage and the reason for the basement flood. If you’re in an area with heavy rain or prone to frequent flooding, you also want to make sure you have sump pumps installed to help prevent flooding in the first place.