Painting kitchen cupboards

One of the cheapest ways to transform a dated kitchen that has wooden cupboards is to paint them. Any style of wood can be sanded down and painted in an array of beautiful colours to give it a new modern look and a whole new lease of life. If the original cupboards are good quality, solid wood and well made, it is worth the effort, but you must take care to do it properly.

First, give the cupboards a good scrub down, getting rid of any greasy residue on the surfaces to be painted. Then get rid of any old varnish with sandpaper. This also scores the wood, which helps the paint bond to it. Choose your paint carefully as there are many different options available. Consider durability as well as colour – many paint manufacturers have a specific, hard-wearing ‘cupboard paint’ range. Also, a matt or eggshell finish is much more fashionable than gloss.

There are two essential things you should do in order to get a good, even finish. Firstly, apply the paint in several thin layers. This may require the paint to be thinned down, and it will certainly take longer, but it really is worth it to achieve that professional look. Secondly, always use a roller rather than a paintbrush, as this avoids telltale brush strokes. If you follow this advice, you will end up with a professional paint job and kitchen cupboards that look as if they cost thousands of pounds.


Blinds for Children’s Rooms

When you decorate your child’s bedroom you will have to make some important decisions, for example, what colours and fabrics you’ll be using. However, you’ll also have to think about practicality and the different options for dressing the window.

Simple Blinds

It is better to choose simply decorated blinds with bright bold colours, rather then with an over-complicated pattern or design. This is especially true if your wallpaper choice is busy.

Pleated Blinds

A popular choice for nurseries and children’s rooms is that of pleated blinds. These are good because they come in a variety of colours, add a soft look to the room, and the fabric reflects the sun’s heat and light. Additionally, they can come as blackout blinds, enabling your child to sleep easily at night.

Wipe-Clean Blinds

When you have young children you never know what marks will appear on the blinds. You should therefore choose blinds that can be easily cleaned. So if your child smears grubby fingerprints on the blind you can just wipe the marks away.
Roller Blinds

Roller blinds are easy to fit and use and they come in a range of colours. Additionally, they can be black out.

One important thing to note when fitting blinds into a child’s room is that they come with cords or chains, and this is considered to be a safety risk because there is a hazard of accidental strangling. There are two possible ways of solving this problem. The first is to fit roller blinds with spring mechanisms. This means that they can be operated without a cord. The second is to fit blinds with a motor so that they can either be battery operated or plugged into the mains. Again the need for a cord is eliminated.


Contemporary and Traditional Bathroom Toilets

Bathroom toilets can be designed with a contemporary feel or with a more traditional look in mind.  The angular lines of an Edwardian style bathroom suite can be echoed in a freestanding toilet.  A wall hung or back to wall toilet will probably have a more contemporary feel.  Close-coupled toilets have the cistern positioned close to the toilet bowl, though cisterns can also be low level, medium level or high level, typically with a chain attached.

A Burlington traditional toilet will probably benefit from a wooden seat and cover, though seats can be extremely up-to-date, made from tough moulded plastic or wood.  Some covers are modelled from transparent Perspex, and can be decorated with colourful designs, containing eye-catching fish or shells for example.  Contemporary toilet covers can even be fashioned to close automatically after use.  They are a perfect remedy for that age-old gender divide.  After all, will men ever learn to close the toilet lid?

Hygiene can also be employed in the design of your toilet, as some toilets come complete with an anti-bacterial toilet seat.


Bathroom Furniture Has Come a Long Way

There is no longer any excuse for anybody to have a cluttered bathroom.  The variety of bathroom furniture that is currently available is enormous and no matter what your requirements may be, there will be a piece of bathroom furniture that does the job and fits the space properly.

There was a time when the laundry basket dominated many bathrooms, and filthy garments were regularly strewn across the floor.  Today there is bathroom furniture available which features an integrated laundry basket, and some pieces even have separate compartments for light and dark clothes.

Sinks in modern bathrooms are regularly incorporated into vanity units which have drawers and feature a large amount of storage space, integrated lighting, and a marble surround. 

We no longer see exposed plumbing or pipe work in the modern bathroom, either.  Today, it is hidden behind the walls or contained in cleverly designed bathroom furniture.  Furniture that is water-resistant and wipes clean now fills our bathrooms, hiding our toiletries, pipes, and toilet rolls. 

How did we ever cope in the bathroom before?


Small Bathroom Design

A large bathroom can be turned into a wonderful place for relaxation and indulgence. Designer catalogues often depict spacious bathrooms with whirlpool baths, walk-in showers and large designer sinks so it is not surprising that many feel that without a large amount of space it is impossible to create a truly beautiful bathroom. These brochures are misleading as the average British bathroom often struggles to offer even three square metres of space and this only allows for a standard bath, small sink and toilet. However, with careful planning and wise choices the homeowner can still create a bathroom to be proud of.

When designing a small bathroom, planning is crucial to make the most use of the space. Time should be taken deciding how the bathroom suite and other items are to be fitted into the available space to ensure that the layout does not mean having to compromise on style.

One of the most important decisions is whether to install a bath or a shower. For relaxation a bath is a priority, but for those who prefer an invigorating shower dispensing with the bath in favour of a larger shower or a wet room may be more attractive. However, it is important to remember that whilst on the continent it is not uncommon to find bathrooms without a bath, in the UK many people still expect to see a bath in a bathroom and not having one could create problems if the homeowner intends to sell in the near future.


King Size Mattress: Luxury or Headache?

There’s little doubt that one does luxuriate in a larger bed, especially when there are two people, each with the space of a full twin bed. However, there may be disadvantages, particularly if space and help isn’t abundantly available.

The size of a king size mattress is not always standard; so when you do shop for one, check the size and the terminology used. Whereas one can rely on the size of standard twin beds being 99 x 190cms, double beds being 137cms x 190cms and Queen size 153cms x 203cms, king sizes can vary.

Furthermore, there are manufacturers who change their ‘standard’ size by a few inches; so, when buying bed linen—particularly fitted sheets—it’s important to know the exact size of your mattress, and not take it for granted that anything marked ‘king size’ will fit.

Practically, a king size bed takes up a lot of space in a bedroom. The luxury of the big bed may well be offset by the lack of space to move around in the room; especially if there’s a large bedroom suite as well.

Although one would seldom find king size bases in one piece, as in the style of bunk beds, the king size mattress is one unit and therefore very heavy and cumbersome to move around – or to turn. Normally the base would come as two twin bases, of the type used with divan beds. This makes them easier to move, and provides greater support strength, preventing eventual sagging in the middle.

If you’re thinking of buying king size, consider the practical pros and cons before committing to it.


Utilizing Designer Mirrors in Your Space

Designer mirrors are more than a functional piece of glass.  These mirrors create a unique ambiance and add character to almost any space.  The selection of a mirror needs to be made with care to ensure the overall look and design of the space delivers what you are setting out to create.  The good news is that there are some top designers out there offering beautiful mirrors that will fit any taste and design, including classic, modern and even futuristic styles.

Consider the shape and function of the mirror when making a selection.  You can choose from multi faceted and ornate mirrors for rooms that have a need for more glamour or art.  In these cases, the mirror can act as a piece of art on the wall.  Consider both wall mounted and free standing mirrors as well.  Both options can create a unique look in the space, while also adding substance to the room.  Another aspect to consider about the mirror is its frame.  For those who want to use a mirror as a decorative item, choose one framed in a material that works with the rest of the room.  On the other hand, a mirror without a true frame can help to open up the space and create more light, without taking away from other style elements in the room.

Choose designer mirrors around the look and function you want.  Focus on the contemporary look of today’s designer lines from companies such as Tonin, Antonello and Bontempi, for starters.


Making a Small Room Look Bigger

There are some easy, inexpensive and effective ways to fool the eye and make a small room appear more spacious. 

First and foremost, reduce the clutter.  Remove any objects or things you may have stacked up or cluttering the space.  Put up shelves if necessary, but ideally move these things out of sight. 

Paint the room with light, cool colours.  Darker, warmer colours can make a room feel cosy, but also smaller.  Light colours can make a room seem more open.  This doesn’t mean you have to stick with white.  Cool, light hues such as blues or greens are also effective. 

Light, whether it is artificial or natural, will open up a room and create a feeling of more space.  Remove any heavy curtains and replace them with either shades that let light in while providing privacy, or lighter drapes.  Recessed lights, track lighting and additional lamps can also provide more light. 

Don’t employ lots of patterns in your decorations or furniture.  Choose plain, simple upholstery for furniture and avoid the plaids, stripes, or prints that will only make your small room seem cluttered or claustrophobic. 

Regarding furniture, as surprising as it may seem, to increase the feeling of space in a small room choose a few large pieces of furniture rather than multiple pieces of small furniture.  Again, this helps reduce the feeling of clutter in a room. 

Employing these few simple tricks can help make that once small, claustrophobic room seem a bit more spacious and airy.


DIY Tips – Tiling corners

The real problem when it comes to tiling internal corners is that they are often not perfectly square.  This means that tiles have to be cut away slightly to allow for the geometric defects in walls.  A convenient way of doing this is to measure the gap at the bottom and the top and use this result to angle the cut for the tiles.

Another method is to place the tile you are about to cut on top of the last whole tile in a row, and hold a third whole tile on top of this with one of its edges pressed into the corner.  Then you can use the top tile’s opposite edge to draw the line of the necessary cut.

External corner tiling is also complicated by the fact that walls are typically not perfectly square.  The problem with external corner tiling, however, is a bit trickier than with internal corners.  This is because you need to hide the unglazed edges of the cut tiles.

The way to achieve this is to cover one wall with the tiles cut to fit in the normal way.  The cut tiles which then start the other wall are then placed so that they overlap those on the first one.  The exposed cut edge is then covered with tiling grout.  The finish can be made even neater if you begin the second wall with whole edging tiles.  However, the walls have to be perfectly vertical in order to do this, which is usually not the case.


Wall Tiling – Preparing the Wall

One of the more challenging DIY home decorating projects is tiling a kitchen or bathroom wall.  Many baulk at the idea, as it seems too big a task; however, with a little thought it is no different from any other job.

As with any project, preparation is important and tiling is no different.  It is therefore essential that the walls you intend tiling are properly prepared.  Ensure that they are clear of any excess plaster, bumps and lumps.  If there are any holes or cracks they must be filled with a suitable filler and if the surface is too uneven, it may have to be entirely re-plastered.  Tiles must not be fixed to bare brick, because they will probably fall off.  Even if they remain fixed, the tiles will often lift, giving a very uneven and ugly finish.

If you do have to re-plaster, do not attempt to tile the wall until the plaster has had time to dry fully.  This can take up to 14 days, possibly more, depending on how much moisture remains. 

Not all tile adhesives are suitable for all walls, so it is essential to take advice and read the manufacturer’s instructions.  You will often find that new plaster will need a primer or undercoat before tile adhesive is applied to it.

Tiling over Tiles

If the wall is already tiled, you might decide to fix the new ones over the top.  If you do, be sure you use proper ‘tile on tile’ adhesive.  Also, adding a new layer of tiles doubles the thickness, which can cause a problem with doorframes.  While this option can be tempting, as a short cut, not all walls are suitable.  An alternative is to paint the existing tiles or add decorative features.