Blog: June 2018

Upgrade Your Home Without Calling In The Builders
If you’re looking to upgrade your home, you might initially think this has to involve some construction projects, whether it's putting in a new bathroom or investing in something 'mega' such as a glass box ground floor extension. But if your budget's not huge and your home isn't in a particularly poor state of repair, rather it's just been a bit neglected, there's a lot you can do to make it nicer, more liveable and, of course, more saleable without calling in the builders. And not resorting to concrete is always the more eco friendly decision.
 
The good news is there are plenty of ways to improve your home without construction - and the first thing to do is look at your paintwork. Are walls grubby? is paint on doors and skirting boards peeling off or cracked? In which case...
 
Re-Paint Everything!
 
Paint, especially good quality brands that produce eco-friendly paints, are not particularly cheap these days, but fresh paint makes everything look smart and attractive again. And if you do the preparation well, ie sand, fill, do a mist coat on walls and apply primer and undercoat to wood, you can splash the cash on the best paint brand you can afford because you'll only need a couple of coats. If you have the budget, hire a professional decorator, but with patience and practice, most of us can do a pretty good repainting job ourselves.   
 
Install A Library
 
This may sound a bit of a posh or even pretentious thing to do if you live in a small house or flat, but it is one of the most effective changes you can make to a home environment. And library doesn't, of course, mean a vast wood paneled room with floor to ceiling shelving, rather it can just be a wall or part of a wall given over to books. Because let's face it, homes with no books feel a bit sparse and lacking, while shelves full of books and magazines give a air of sophistication and refinery, and a sense that the occupant is interested in the world. And it's always nice to have easy access to something to read.
 
So you could commission a carpenter to make some built-in shelving - their skill can be ideal if your looking to keep books under the stairs or in a hard to reach space. But there's lots of great freestanding, modular or lean-to shelving that's affordable and easy to find on the high street or online. And if you're lucky enough to have a tiny spare room that's not really big enough to act as a bedroom, why not designate it your library? And keep a futon roll to hand for visitors needing a bed for the night.
 
A Fun and Games Room
 
A games room is another way to accomplish more or less what you do with the library, in that with a simple re-design and a bit of money spent on décor and furnishings you can give you a whole new place to hang out. Of course, 'games room' can mean a lot of different things. If you want to go with a more vintage approach you can read up on home poker nights, and focus on creating an inviting, authentic card-playing environment. Or for versatility get some comfortable seating, buy a sideboard and fill it with games of all sorts. And of course if you’re more into modern gaming you’ll need to get into the tech side of things and figure out how to optimize your space for video gaming. Lots of people love playing games and it's a great way to be more sociable, so if you've got an underused area in your home, think about making it a gamer's corner!
 
First Impressions - smarten up your entrance
 
Upgrading the home doesn’t just mean making interior changes. You can also do a lot to the outside, such as repainting your front door and fitting new and modern brassware, and pressure washing front paving stones. And plants are key to a good first impression. so you could put containers full of plants by the front door if there's space. And if you've got a front garden, it'll definitely be improved by plants. Either plant them out if there's soil or put lots of easy care blooms such as geraniums in pots and place them strategically around the space.
 
There's plenty of expert advice regarding the best plants for an entrance, and, so long as you focus on what’s in seaso,n you can begin stocking the front of your house with appropriate plants in a way that looks artful, intentional and warm. And if you're not a fan of too much immaculateness, consider the slightly overgrown look for containers and window boxes - as long as it’s slightly, this approach can give your home a pleasantly lived-in vibe.
Tags:
Decoration, Garden, Lifestyle, Outside space, painting and decorating, Trades, De-cluttering
University degree or an apprenticeship to learn a skilled trade?

With the cost of a university education rising, more young people are asking themselves if it's still worth it.

Not every graduate gets a graduate level job and the advice from some graduates is think hard before you apply, because unless you're really interested in your subject or you're taking a degree course that is fairly certain to result in a good career - medicine, dentistry, engineering, computer science, nursing etc - then it could be that an apprenticeship would make more sense. 

Online retailer The Electrical Guys has been looking into the university v apprenticeship debate and it's produced an infographic that compares the cost of a university degree against the merits of training to become a skilled tradesman. Obviously when you sign up for an apprenticeship you start earning straight away. Buy over the long term what are the rates of pay you can expect to earn as, say, an electrician comparied to someone in the world of high finance, for example. 

If your son or daughter isn't academically motivated, nor do they want a job in an office, then learning a skilled trade could well be a better option for them than coming out of university with a £40,000 + debt to the Government..

Tags:
Bathroom, Culture, Gardening, Jobs, Trades