A DIY Luxuriously Soft Coverlet For A Child’s Bed

I love to sew home decor items like curtains, pillowcases, cushions, and tablecloths.  But I keep it simple.  If a project is complicated enough to need a sewing pattern, it’s not for me.

So recently, when I heard that a six-year-old family member needed some new bedding, I saw an opportunity for a fun and simple sewing project.

Below I describe in detail how I did this project.  As my editor (husband) pointed out, it’s a bit long and drawn-out.  So, if you’d rather just see the final result, scroll down to “The Result” near the end of this post.

Choosing The Fabric And The Project Design

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First, I cleared the idea with the youngster’s mom.  Then I started the project the way I begin all my sewing projects:  By rushing off to the fabric store with only a half-baked idea of what I was going to do or how I was going to do it.

What I knew at that point was that I wanted to make a flannel bed cover of some sort with a coordinating pillowcase.  I wanted to use flannel because it’s warm and soft – and it’s usually on sale after the holidays. I also knew that, although I adore quilts, I did not have the patience, skill, or desire to actually make one. I wanted to make something like a quilt, only easier.  So I decided to make a coverlet.

At the fabric store, I carefully selected some adorable, coordinating fabrics that I loved.  Then I put them all back and chose fabrics that this particular six-year-old kid would like.

I came out of the fabric store with planets, kitties, and plaid.  The coverlet would be reversible with planets as the primary fabric on one side and kitties on the other.

I was in love with the white plaid fabic at the top of the stack, but there wasn’t much left in the store.  I bought what they did have and hoped I could somehow make it work.

Altogether, I bought about 12 yards of 42″ wide flannel and about 5 1/4 yards of this 45″ wide batting.  The flannel is cotton Snuggle Flannel from Joann Fabrics.  To me it seems softer than some other flannels.  And, as I learned later, it’s even softer after laundering.  But the patterns are printed on the fabric – not woven in.  So this is not high-end flannel.  And the patterns are not always printed squarely on the fabric. This meant I’d have to do a little tweaking to make the patterns line up and also keep things straight.

This tutorial for making a flannel blanket was a very helpful starting point, and I did end up using most of the tips there. But the tutorial is for making smaller throw blankets (about a 40″ width), and I was going to make a twin-sized coverlet that needed to measure about 70″ X 90″ when finished.

But really how difficult could it be?  We’ll get back to that question later.

Preparing The Flannel

I did a little research and watched videos on how to prepare flannel for sewing.  If you’re planning to work with flannel, I highly recommend doing this.

One important thing to note is that flannel shrinks – a lot.  So I washed all the fabric in warm water and machine dried it so that it would preshrink.  I put a towel in the dryer with the fabric to keep it from wrinkling because the next step is, of course, pressing the fabric.  Flannel should be carefully pressed as opposed to being ironed.

I had yards and yards of fabric, so I confess that I did not press every bit of it.  Placing a clean cotton cloth between the fabric and the iron, and misting with a bit of water first, I just carefully pressed out the main creases and folds.  I figured that would be enough since my final goal was a casual, soft look.

Flannel tends to fray.  It can also bunch up in the sewing machine.  I eased the tension on my machine a bit, and I used a slightly longer stitch length than I normally do.  It is also recommended to use a walking foot when sewing flannel.  I didn’t take this extra step, but I’m happy to say that, in this case at least, I didn’t have any trouble with the fabric bunching.

But before sewing, I squared my fabric by ripping it.  Predictably, the flannel frayed a bit when I did this, but I always prefer to square my fabric before working with it.

The Project Begins

Making a template on the living room floor

Since this was such a huge project, the easiest way I could think of for measuring out the fabric, planning the pattern, and piecing it together was to mark out the finished dimensions on the living room floor.

So, I cleared away and cleaned a large area on my living room floor.  I carefully measured a 70″ X 90″ rectangle and marked the corners and the middle of the rectangle with blue painter’s tape to create a template.  Then I re-measured to make sure I hadn’t messed up.  Since the tape had a one-inch thickness, the inside of the tape template would represent the finished dimensions of the coverlet.  The outside area, although just a bit too wide to represent the coverlet’s unfinished dimensions, would still serve as an approximate reference point.

The biggest challenge of working on the living room floor was convincing our cats that this whole setup wasn’t solely for their amusement.

Every time I turned my back for a split second, something like this was happening.

“The human seems upset. I’m not sure why.”

But the cats were ever so helpful in that they eliminated any doubt that I’d have to launder this project again once it was finished.

Cutting and Sewing The Fabric Pieces

I started with the cat fabric.  The fabric, before pre-shrinking, was only 44″ wide.  I needed a 71″ width.  So I sewed two pieces of the cat fabric together, making sure to line up the pattern.

Then I measured, cut, and sewed together two narrow pieces of the white plaid fabric (just enough for an accent border since I didn’t have much of that fabric) and sewed it across the top of the cat fabric.  I just tried my best to keep the fabric patterns matching and lined up, but it wasn’t perfect.

Then I placed this fabric piece, consisting of the four sewn-together panels, over the template on the floor and, using a large straight edge, I marked and cut the fabric to the 71″ width and the 91″ length that I needed.

Then I pressed all the seams open.

Then, using the planet fabric and the orange plaid fabric, I employed a similar method for what would be the reverse side of the coverlet:  I  joined panels of fabric together and then measured, marked and cut so that I had a 71″ X 91″ piece of fabric.  And then I pressed the seams.

Cutting And Basting The Batting

The batting had a 45″ width so, using a straight edge, I cut two 45″ panels to the 91″ length that I needed and placed them on the template side by side.

I overlapped them in the middle by about an inch and pinned it.  Then, since this would be too cumbersome to push through my sewing machine, I hand-basted the two pieces together where I had overlapped them to create the width I needed.  As you’ll see later, the hand basting was only the first step I would take in making sure that the batting wouldn’t shift inside the coverlet once it was finished.

Then I cut the batting to the 71″ width that I needed.

Pinning It All Together

I carefully placed the two 71″ X 91″ fabric panels, right (good) sides together, flat on the floor.  I made sure to eliminate all creases and wrinkles.  So, I had the two good sides on the inside facing one another.  I placed the batting on top of this, and then I pinned the edges of the three pieces together.

I’m making this sound easy, but this was the most difficult part of the project – pinning these three huge pieces together without anything getting creased.

So, this is a good time to get back to that question “How difficult could this project really be?” At this point, the project seemed doomed to failure.  I was starting to regret ever taking it on.

Sewing The Perimeter

Finally I was satisfied with the pinning and I took this giant project to my sewing machine.  Using about a half-inch seam allowance, I sewed around the perimeter of the coverlet, making sure to backstitch at potentially vulnerable places like seams and corners.  I left part of one side open and unsewn so that I could easily pull the fabric right-side-out later.

Here, the batting is on top and the two fabric pieces are underneath with their “good” sides facing one another. The perimeter of this project has been sewn closed except for the area on the left between the two pieces of blue tape.

Pulling It Right-Side-Out

Then I reached inside the unsewn area, between the two fabric pieces, and carefully reversed the coverlet – pulling the whole thing right-side-out.  Now the good sides were facing out and the batting was inside sandwiched between the two fabric pieces.

Reversing it was like a mini-reveal of how this project was going to turn out.  I held my breath and hoped for the best.  And it actually didn’t look too bad.

Pressing and Pinning

I pressed the perimeter of the coverlet to give the seam a neat look.  When I got to the unsewn area, I tucked the fabric inward and pressed it so that the unsewn area looked neat and finished like the sewn area.  Then I pinned it.

The Finish Stitch

I used a zigzag stitch around the entire perimeter (about a quarter inch from the edge) to seal the unsewn area and as another measure in securing the batting.

It also gave the piece a cute, finished look.

Securing The Batting

This coverlet was going to be for an active little kid, so I wanted to make sure the batting wouldn’t shift.  So I used another tip I found in this tutorial:  Adding hand-tied knots to secure the batting.  Once again placing the coverlet on the floor, I measured out and put a small hand-stitched knot at every share foot.  I used a strand of embroidery floss for this.  I made sure the needle went through the batting and picked up the fabric on the opposite side of the coverlet.

I quadruple tied each knot to make sure it would not unravel.

Once I was done, I could barely see my work in the overall look of the coverlet – which was a good thing.

The Pillowcase

I made a simple pillowcase using this method but with a few changes – mostly for the sake of preference – including making the pillowcase reversible.

Laundering Again

With my heart in my throat, I put the entire finished project through the laundry, this time on delicate because it’s recommended for the type of batting that I used.  I tumble dried it on low and then took it out immediately so that it wouldn’t wrinkle.

It came out luxuriously soft.  The only glitch was a little bunching at the hand stitches that I’d added at the end, but that is barely noticeable.

The Result

I’m very happy with the result.  It isn’t perfect, but I’ve convinced myself it doesn’t really need to be.  After all, it’s just kids’ bedding – not world peace.

 

 

It’s reversible and interchangeable for lots of fun options.

 

 

But does it actually fit a twin bed?  I tried it out on half of my king-sized bed and it fit well.  So I think it will be fine on a twin bed.

 

It’s so wonderfully soft that I’m gearing up to make a king-sized version for my own bed.  Just kidding!  I’m pretty sure it will be a while before I tackle such a huge project again.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

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5 Things That Make Moving House Easier

The following is a contributed post.  For more on my contributed posts, please see this page.

There are few things in life quite as exciting as moving house. After all, you get to make a brand new start somewhere new, and you can create a place for you and your family to live and thrive. The changes that come with a new home can be incredibly significant and positive for yourself and the people in your life, whether you’ve moved to a new city or just to a new property.

But there’s no doubt that moving can also come with all kinds of stress. There is often so much to do that it can be completely overwhelming. You might find yourself standing in your new place, surrounded by all of your unpacked belongings, and finding that your new house doesn’t really feel like home just yet.  Adopting a thoughtful, methodical approach to the process of moving and settling into your new home can make the transition so much easier.  And here are a few ways that you can do just that.

1.  Be Organized

People sometimes make the mistake of trying to play everything by ear when they move home. After all, how hard can it be? Well, it turns out that it can be pretty hard indeed, especially if you don’t have any sense of structure to the process. The truth is that if you’re not organized in the way that you move home, you’re going to find yourself getting buried under a dozen different tasks, none of which are properly finished. The best way to be organized is to keep lists so that you don’t lose track of all of the things that you have to do.

Having something like a moving checklist to work from that allows you to keep track of everything you’ve done and everything you have yet to do can make a surprisingly large difference to ensuring that the whole process is as simple and smooth as possible. Not only will you get things done quicker that way, but you can make sure that everything gets done in the right way.

2.  Practical Stuff First

As unexciting as it can be, it’s essential to get all of the practical elements of moving out of the way as quickly as possible so that you will have the time and mental energy to focus on the fun aspects of moving – like decorating.  So, before diving into the fun stuff, take care of things like clearing out any rubbish and boxes that become inevitable during a move, arranging things like internet, utilities, and insurance. Tackle any other boring things that you’d much rather not have to deal with but are incredibly important. Getting them out of the way allows you to get on with the fun of actually living in your new home.

3.  Share The Work

Moving into a new home can be a challenge at the best of times, but taking on everything by yourself is the easiest way to end up burning out and feeling frustrated. Make sure that you share the workload of unpacking and decorating with everyone in your household. Things like putting kids in charge of arranging and decorating their own room allows them to feel a real sense of ownership over it.

Likewise, being able to discuss elements of the home as a whole means that you can turn it into a place where everyone feels comfortable and happy. By making the moving process a family activity, you help to create happy memories that you can all cherish.

4.  Make If Safe

 

Feeling safe and secure in your new home can take some time. So it’s always a good idea to tackle the simple safety issues right away – like making sure that the locks are adequate and up to date.  And you may want to consider something like a home security system. Whether it’s motion-controlled lights, alarms, or a security camera, having a security system in place from day one can help to ease the anxiety of moving and help you and your family relax and enjoy your new environment. Taking some extra precautions is always worth it to ensure your family’s safety and peace of mind.

5.  Put Your Personal Stamp On It

It’s always a challenge to make a series of empty rooms feel like a real home.  So it’s a good idea to make sure that you’re putting your own personal stamp on your new home as quickly as possible. Luckily, doing this is pretty simple. Just filling it up with your own belongings is going to make it feel more personal pretty quickly. But you can also do things like painting the walls in colors that represent you and your family, hanging art that you love on the walls, and filling the place with happy memories of your life. These kinds of personal touches really are the things that turn any house into a real home.

Moving into a new place is always going to come with a lot of complicated emotions. After all, as exciting and wonderful as it can be, you’re still going to find yourself feeling a little displaced. You may even be missing the stability and familiarity of the place where you used to live. The best possible way to deal with these feelings is to make yourself feel as at home in your new house as possible. By really making it feel like home, it won’t be long before you can’t even imagine having lived anywhere else. Get yourself settled into your new home and it can become the place for you and your family to feel happy and comfortable for years to come.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

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An Easy DIY Eucalyptus Wreath

For a while now, I’ve been making wreath forms using clippings from the grapevine that grows along my fence.  I like to dress up these wreath forms with other garden clippings to make affordable, all-natural wreaths like this one and the second hop wreath in this post.

So last fall, as I was hard pruning the grapevine, I made a few wreath forms from the clippings.

They take hardly any time to make – and no special tools.  It is just as easy as it looks.  Starting with three vines and adding more as needed, I just cut them to the size I want and wrap, weave, and bend vines around one another, into a circle. Then I tuck and wedge the vine ends in until they are secure.

This works much better when the vines are still green and flexible.  The vines I was working with last fall were already partially brown and dried, which made things more difficult.  But I was still able to make it work.

 

I like my grapevine wreath forms to be thinner and airier than the ones you see at the craft stores.

I gave two away and kept one.

I used my wreath form to make the eucalyptus wreath, but first I used it to make . . .

The Hasty Holiday Wreath

We were going to be out of the state for most of December, and I wanted the house to look occupied while we were gone.  So I quickly put up a few holiday decorations before we left – including a wreath made using the wreath form, a few garden clippings, and a sprig of faux berries.

Hastily assembled, this wasn’t the most attractive wreath I’d ever made.  But we weren’t going to be around to look at it.  By the time I took the photo below, after our return, the wreath was dried out and looking especially haggard.

After I took it down, I pulled the greenery and the berries off and kept the wreath form.

The Eucalyptus Wreath

On a recent visit to Trader Joe’s, I noticed that they had fresh eucalyptus sprigs for $3.99 a bunch.  So I bought one bunch of seeded eucalyptus to use with the wreath form to make a post-holiday mid-winter wreath.

I simply cut the eucalyptus to the sizes I wanted and then, as with most other natural ingredients I put in these wreaths, I just wedged the eucalyptus stems between the grapevines to secure them.

A green eucalyptus stem is wedged into the grapevine wreath to secure it.

The eucalyptus stems were not quite as flexible to work with as some other greenery I have used, but it did work with a little trial and error.  When I was done, I gave the wreath a good shake to make sure everything was secure.

By wedging the stems into place, I didn’t have to use any wires.  So, the entire wreath can simply be tossed into the compost bin later.  Or I can easily remove the eucalyptus and just keep the wreath form.

One bunch of eucalyptus didn’t get me very far, but I still like the look of the wreath.

Eucalyptus wreath

I know this sparse style of wreath, using all-natural materials and no bow, isn’t for everyone.  But I enjoy its simple elegance.

Eucalyptus wreath

And I love the look of the seeded eucalyptus.

But how long will this wreath last?  I have read that seeded eucalyptus doesn’t last long.  It is in a cool and protected area on my porch, so that might give it some advantage.  I will update this post once I find out.

This little project was a nice counterbalance to a large but fun sewing project that I have been working on.  I hope to finish that project and share it with you soon.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

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6 Things To Consider Doing Before Selling Your Home

The following is a contributed post.  For more on my contributed posts, please see this page.

If you’re planning to sell your home, it is always wise to do a little critical thinking first.  That’s because certain things that might seem small may end up having a huge impact on how smoothly your home sale goes. 

Here are 6 things you should consider doing before selling your home: 

1.  Take the time to declutter and clean

Moving home is the perfect time to declutter. You’ll inevitably have to sort through all your belongings when packing – taking the time to declutter can reduce the amount of stuff you need to bring to your new home.

Decluttering could also make your home more appealing to buyers and possibly even increase its value. Buyers are likely to have a harder time visualizing themselves in your home if there is stuff everywhere. 

Similarly, many buyers will be turned off if they see a dirty sink or stains on the kitchen floor.  This is why it’s so important to declutter and clean before you’ve even put your home on the market. 

2.  Make simple repairs

Selling a home with a lot of damage can be challenging. Some repair jobs may be expensive so, if you’re looking to sell your home fast or you’re on a tight budget, you may not be able to make these repairs.

But, if you’re able, you should make minor repairs like replacing dead light bulbs, fixing broken hinges, or sealing up small cracks.  These small fixes can make your home look cared for, which could have an impact in making your home more appealing to buyers. 

3.  If you home is vacant, stage it

If you’ve already moved out of your home and moved out all your possessions, it could be worth looking into staging your home. This involves putting in objects as props so that buyers can more easily visualize themselves living in the property. Just as a cluttered home can negatively affect buyers’ perceptions, so can a vacant home. 

4.  Be realistic when pricing your home

Price your home too high and you could find that few buyers are willing to make offers. This most often happens when homeowners decide to sell privately. It’s worth looking at real estate websites to see what price other similar properties are selling for in your area.  This can give you a good idea of what your home is worth.  You could also consider inviting a few agents to offer an appraisal.

It’s also possible to under-price a home. While this could increase your chance of finding buyers, you could be cheating yourself out of money that you deserve. A lot of people sell too low and then regret it later  After all, a few thousand  dollars can go a long way. 

5.  Pick the right time to sell

You should make sure that it’s a good time to sell your home. Generally speaking, you should avoid selling your home in winter.  Fewer people take the time for house hunting during the holidays.   

6.  Understand the pros and cons of working with an agent

It may look like selling a home without an agent will save you money, but just keep in mind that this approach has the potential to be “penny wise and pound foolish.”  A good real estate agent knows how to generate interest in your home – and how to negotiate.  Also, many sellers underestimate the time it takes to market their property, schedule viewings, and understand and follow each step of the transaction once one is in place.   

Each property is unique, and you may have other steps you should take before selling your home.  But the above 6 steps should serve as a good starting point.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

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5 Simple Home Upgrades That Also Help The Planet

Many of us think that having an environmentally friendly home means sacrificing comfort and beauty and living in a state of austerity.  But it doesn’t have to mean that at all.  In fact, choosing the right upgrades can help you have a beautiful and healthy home – and do more to help the planet that we all share.

Of course, one of the most eco-friendly things we can do is to keep using the things we already have instead of buying something new.  But, when it does come time to replace an item, here are just a few eco-friendly home upgrades to consider.

This post contains affiliate links.  For more on my affiliate links, please see this page.

1.  Organic Cotton Bedding

Why it’s important

When we wash synthetic fabrics like polyester and acrylic, they release tiny plastic fibers that are too small for wastewater treatment plants to capture.  This is especially true of synthetic fleece fabrics and, unfortunately, so many blankets and throws are made of synthetic fleece.  The result:  Microplastics in the ocean and, subsequently, in the food we eat that comes from the ocean.

By choosing organic cotton bedding instead of synthetic fabrics, we can help reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean – and help reduce the overall demand for synthetic fabrics.

Why it’s an upgrade

In general, cotton fabrics breathe better than synthetic fabrics.  This helps the body maintain a stable temperature while sleeping. And, because organic cotton is made sustainably and contains no chemicals, it is usually an excellent choice for people with skin sensitivities or allergies.

Because cotton is breatheable, it is good all-season bedding.  It’s cool in summer and, by adding layers of organic cotton blankets, quilts, or comforters, it can be customized to our increasing needs for warmth as the seasons change.  Organic cotton bedding has become fairly affordable.

I tend to check the fabric content of every garment or home decor textile that I buy.  Even when organic cotton is not in my budget or not available, I still try to opt for products that are 100% cotton.  Recently I sent a friend this cute and affordable Turkish cotton throw blanket as a gift, and she loved it.

What about wool and down?

Wool and down have been around for centuries, and they certainly can be environmentally friendly alternatives to synthetic fabrics.  But, because both of these products are derived from animals, there is some controversy over whether they are ethically and sustainably sourced – and whether chemicals are used before or during processing.

Some companies do far better on these fronts than others, so it’s a good idea to do some research before purchasing a wool or down product.  (And of course, in the case of down, look for down bedding in a cotton shell as opposed to a synthetic shell.)

2.  Natural Or Organic Latex Bed Components

Why it’s important

I always thought that latex was man-made – until we purchased a natural latex mattress a few years ago.

Natural latex is made from the sap of the rubber tree – a sustainable resource.  Synthetic latex is made of petroleum-based compounds.  A variety of chemicals is added during the manufacture – which can cause synthetic latex bed components, like mattresses, mattress toppers, and pillows, to off-gas VOCs.  Not ideal for the place where most of us spend one-third of our day.

Why it’s an upgrade

In comparison, natural latex contains few, if any, chemicals, and organic latex contains no chemicals.  Natural latex bedding is becoming fairly easy to find.

3.  Beeswax Reusable Food Wraps

Why it’s important

The disposable cling wrap that we use on a daily basis to cover food containers lasts up to 1,000 years in the landfill once we toss it.  Or it ends up in the ocean where it contributes to the plastic pollution crisis.

Add to that the fact that it doesn’t always cooperate when we try to cover food with it, and it’s not attractive to look at.

But beeswax food wraps are reusable and attractive.

Why it’s an upgrade

Here again we have our old friend cotton.  This time the cotton is coated in beeswax to create an eco-friendly alternative to disposable cling wrap. Beeswax food wraps make food storage fun.  They come in lots of different sizes – and in attractive patterns.

I think this jungle-themed set is especially fun.

A while ago, my sister-in-law gave me one large beeswax food wrap, which I’ve since cut into two smaller (but still fairly large) sheets.  I have used them many times now over the course of about a year, and they are still in great shape. I hand wash them in cold water (so as not to melt the wax) and hang them to air dry on the clothesline in my laundry room.

They work well in covering oddly-shaped containers like this eight-cup batter bowl.

I just cover it with the beeswax wrap and fold the sides into place.  The warmth of my hands helps the wax to form a seal and stay in place.

These wraps look so cute on casserole dishes and they seal them so well.  Somehow they make me feel like far more of a domestic diva than I actually am.

4.  Reusable Grocery Bags That Fit In Your Purse

Why it’s important

Most of us know by now that we should carry reusable shopping bags instead of opting for the single-use plastic or paper bags that grocery stores provide.  But sometimes it’s easy to forget our reusable bags at home or leave them in our cars. That is why I love the ones that I can just keep in my purse.

Why it’s an upgrade

Another little gem that my sister-in-law gave me is this beautiful reusable grocery bag, which I’ve come to use for almost all my shopping – not just for groceries.  It has a large capacity, it is stronger and more comfortable to carry than a plastic or paper grocery bag, and it gets me compliments every time I use it.

Best of all, it folds down and fits in my purse (or bike bag).  Now I am never without a shopping bag.  This bag’s design is from the LOQI Nature1 Collection.

5.  Vintage Tableware

Why it’s important

Energy and resources go into the making, packaging, and transporting of every single new item that we buy.  And that has a huge impact on the planet. But purchasing a vintage item instead of a new item has little if any negative impact on the planet.  And it often saves money too.

Why it’s an upgrade

Rather than being mass-produced, many vintage items were made with quality craftsmanship and materials.  Even so, antique and vintage china and tableware had fallen out of favor in recent years.  But happily these treasures are trending again as part of the “granny chic” concept that mixes old and new pieces.  Martha Stewart recently did an article on how to pull this look together.

But, in my house, vintage tableware has always been on trend.

There is really no end to the things we can do to make our homes more sustainable and environmentally friendly while adding luxury at the same time.  Please feel free to leave a comment and let us know what your favorite ways are to create a sustainable home!

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
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Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

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10 Things To Think About When Designing A New Garden

It might seem strange to publish a post about garden design on the winter solstice, but actually winter is an excellent time for the most important stage of any new garden:  Planning.  So today I bring you this contriuted post with a few things to keep in mind when planning a new garden.

The following is a contributed post.  For more on my contributed posts, please see this page.

Your outdoor space is a part of your home that has a lot of potential. Spending time outdoors can bring you joy, especially if you love to garden or relax in the sun. Designing an outdoor space that you can get use out of will help you  make the most out of your home – and possibly even increase its value.

But, like most transformations, a garden makeover involves work – and making decisions.  This can sometimes slow down progres and add to the cost of the transformation.  So it’s important to nail down your plans so that you can get the best result and achieve your dream outdoor space.

Start planning your perfect garden design with these 10 top tips.

1. Think about what you want to use your garden for

If your backyard was a blank canvas, what would you use it for? Your garden can be whatever you want it to be, but you’ll need to think carefully about what you’d like to do with it. Some questions to consider include:

  • Do you want to be able to grow plants and flowers? 
  • Perhaps you’d like to grow some fruit and vegetables?
  • Do you want to build an outbuilding?
  • Would you like a pool?
  • Will you use your garden to entertain?
  • Do you want to enjoy an outdoor dining or leisure space?

There are many routes you can take, and incorporating multiple ideas may help you create the right space. You can also get some inspiration from gardens that you love, helping you bring your garden planning dreams to life.

2. What can you do with your existing space?

While you might not be in love with your existing yard, are there things you can do to improve it? Some minor upgrades, new fencing, fresh paint, and a thorough pressure washing could give your backyard a bit of a lift so that you don’t have to start from scratch.

Take a closer look at some of your garden’s features to see if they could be transformed into something wonderful.

3. Work out a budget

Labor, materials, and landscaping maintenance all come at a price. This is why it’s important to get multiple quotes from contractors to work out what your garden design is going to cost you.

If you’re met with a cost that’s too high, it doesn’t have to mean the end of your plans. You could scale back, renovate your garden in stages, or you could do it yourself. If you’re confident in your skills, or if you can get skilled friends or relatives to help you out, you could save a lot of money on labor costs so that all you need to worry about is the cost of the materials. 

4. Make sensible choices about your materials

You’ll be faced with a lot of choices about your garden. Should you go for a stone patio or decking? Should you build a tool shed or a play area for the kids?  Do you want fencing or a natural hedge? And even as you nail down these choices, you’ll be faced with even more choices, including size and style.

Creating a patio or decking area can give you a great space for entertaining and is a part of your backyard you can get a lot of use out of. Understanding the key differences between a deck and a patio can help you choose the best option for your design. You could even decide that you want both to feature in your garden somewhere.

5. Research where the sun moves around your space

When designing your garden, the position of the sun throughout the day can make a big difference to your plans. A gardener’s guide to sun exposure is a useful reference that can help you decide on the right plants to put in your garden, ensuring they get as much sun and shade as they need to thrive.

Sunlight is also important for being able to enjoy time in your garden. If your seating space is going to be covered or left in the shade for most of the day, you may not end up using it as much as you could if it were located in a different part of the garden.

6. Decide which plants you’d like to have

Sun exposure is just one of the factors to decide which plants to put in your garden. Remember that it’s about your personal taste and preference too. There are some popular garden plants to consider, but you might also want to look at some more unusual plants.

Be mindful of the amount of maintainance each plant needs and whether you will actually have the time to maintain it.  Different plants also have different water needs so, if you live in an area where water is at a premium, this is an important factor to keep in mind.  Also research whether the plants you like will grow well in your local planting zone.

Different plants have different price points, so don’t forget to factor these into your budget, especially if you want to buy some new trees. 

 

7. Find ways to make it more wildlife-friendly

Designing a new garden gives you a great opportunity to help the environment. An eco-friendly backyard can attract wildlife, including birds, bees, and other animals.  This brings so many benefits to your garden and to the planet. There are a lot of green upgrades you can make to your backyard that can make a big difference to the world around you.

8. Will you be able to maintain it?

There’s no point spending a lot of time creating an outdoor space if you haven’t got the time or willingness to maintain. Your backyard should be what you want it to be, but it should also fit in with your time and lifestyle. Maintaining a healthy lawn involves regular work, but other tasks such as tending the plants and keeping your patio clean can also take time and patience. 

There’s nothing wrong with choosing a garden with a design that’s easier to maintain. It can still look incredibly striking and beautiful, but it will be less work to keep it that way.

9. Plan out the work and create a schedule

Landscaping work can take a long time to complete. There are a lot of things that can affect the work too, including the weather and materials shortages. Creating a schedule for the work can help you keep control of the project and make sure all the essential work is done. Working with expert landscapers can help you here, as they will have a good grasp of how long different jobs take and can plan them in a way that makes the most sense.

10. Don’t forget the finishing touches

Once all of the main elements of your garden are complete, you can then have a little fun with the finishing touches. This is where you can choose things like your outdoor lighting, furniture, and other elements that add a personal touch to your space. With all of these things in place, you’ll be able to really make the most of your garden.

Planning a new garden isn’t something to be undertaken lightly. It can take a lot of work to figure out what you want and how to make your vision fit within the space you have. But, in spite of all of the hard work, the end result is sure to be worth it, with a beautiful outdoor space you can enjoy and call your own. 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

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7 Simple Steps To Giving Your House A Makeover

The following is a contributed post.  For more on my contributed posts, please see this page.

So you’ve decided it’s time for a change – your house is starting to look a bit tired, and you want to give it a makeover. But where do you start? 

Here are 7 simple steps to help get you on your way:

1. Assess what needs to be done

The first step is to take a good look at your home and assess what needs to be done.  Are the walls in need of a fresh coat of paint? Can I paint my metal roof? Is the furniture looking a bit dated? Do I need new curtains or carpets?

Taking stock of what needs to be done is the first step in planning your renovation project.

2. Set a budget

One of the most important things to do is set a budget. Unless you’re a millionaire, chances are you don’t have an unlimited amount of money to spend on your home makeover.  So it pays to figure out how much you can afford and then stick to that.

3. Plan your renovations

Once you know what needs fixing and how much money you can spend, the next step is to work out when and where these repairs will take place.  This is the time to do all the research you can about the projects you are planning.  Take a realistic, methodical approach.  Talk to the experts and learn if your plans are feasible – and the best approach to take.

Timing is also a consideration. For example, if the roof needs replacing but you’re planning some major landscaping as well, you may want to do those two projects at separate times so as not to disrupt the flow of construction.

4. Find the right tradespeople

Once you’ve worked out what needs to be done, it’s time to find good quality tradespeople who will do the work properly.  Whether you need a roofing company, landscapers, or painters and decorators, make sure that these are reputable companies with happy customers.

5. Pull together tools and supplies

Now that you know what needs doing and where your renovation budget lies, it’s time to start gathering tools and supplies. If you’re doing some of the work yourself, make sure you have all the necessary equipment to complete the job.  Some materials might need to be special ordered or they might be backordered at the hardware store, so it’s best to make sure that you have everything you need before you begin.

This is also the time to pull together any tools, supplies, or materials that your tradespeople might have asked you to have ready for them. 

6. Start renovations

Now it’s time for the fun part – actually digging into those renovations! Whether you’re tackling a small paint job or knocking down walls and building an extension, enjoy every minute of your house makeover. Take plenty of pictures as you go so that you can remember how it used to look.

7. Complete renovations

After a lot of hard work, your renovations should be complete, and you can enjoy a fresh new look in your home.  Sit back, relax and bask in the glory of a job well done. Take pictures of your renovated project so that you can remember this time for years to come.

What’s next?

One renovation project often leads to another. Once you get used to the new changes, it’s time to start thinking about what you might want to do next. Maybe it’s time to redecorate the bedroom or add an extension? Whatever renovation ideas you have in mind, follow these 7 simple steps and get started today!

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

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How To Be More Eco-Friendly At Home 

I love finding little ways to make our home more sustainable.  And what I’ve noticed is that being environmentally friendly also, in many cases, saves me money.  So today I’m very happy to share this contributed post with a few tips for creating a more eco-friendly home.

The following is a contributed post.  For more on my contributed posts, please see this page.

The concept of living a more sustainable, environmentally friendly life has gained momentum this past year. Ideally we should be doing as much as we can individually so that collectively we can really make a positive difference. So here are some ideas on how you can be more eco-friendly at home

Avoid Wasting Food

Since water and many other resources are needed to grow our food, food waste contributes to damaging the environment.  Plan your meals so that you can minimize the amount of food that you end up throwing away. Try to really think about how much you realistically need to buy, and cook so that you can actively reduce your food waste each week. 

Use Shampoo And Soap Bars

Your everyday toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner and shower gel can be bought in soap form. So instead of automatically reaching for shampoo and conditioner in plastic bottle form, try buying non plastic options in the form of soap bars.

 

They will last you a lot longer and are much kinder to the environment without all the plastic packaging.  And bonus points if you find palm oil free options!

Install Solar Panels on Your Roof

Solar panels are a great way to utilize our natural resources and power your home in a more environmentally friendly way. Finding the best solar installation company will help you to speak to qualified professionals and enable you to make a positive change to your home that can benefit the environment by being more eco-friendly.  

Swap Traditional Light Bulbs for Energy Saving Alternatives

It is really easy to make small changes at home such as installing energy saving light bulbs in your light fixtures and fittings. They work just as well as traditional light bulbs but are a lot kinder to the environment. Since they could also help you save money on your heating bills, what is not to like about them? 

Change Your Fashion Habits

Opting for more sustainable fashion trends is a small change that can make a big impact.  That is because many fabrics contain plastic microfibers that are released into seas and oceans when the garments are laundered.  But clothes that are made from eco-friendly fabrics don’t contain these plastics, making them much kinder to the environment. 

 

Overall you can certainly make small positive changes at home to consciously lead a more eco-friendly lifestyle that will benefit both you and the planet.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

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Our Master Bath Remodel Series
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8 Ways To Improve Your Home’s Curb Appeal

The following is a contributed post.  For more on my contributed posts, please see this page.

It’s no secret: curb appeal plays a major role in selling your house. Good curb appeal can increase interest and foot traffic, which directly helps you sell.

Curb appeal is a term used in real estate that relates to the look of your home’s exterior and surrounding garden. It is what makes people want to stop their car, walk up the path and knock on the door. Without it, you may not attract as many buyers or sell your home for the best possible price. That is why it is so important for a home to have good curb appeal. 

Here are eight ways to improve your home’s curb appeal:

1.  Paint It Bright – But Not Too Bright

Studies show that buyers like homes with warm colors such as reds and yellows — but not too bright. As for blues and greens, those should be used on the trim to give it character and contrast with the other colors on the house. 

2.  Upgrade Your Roof

A roof makeover is a great way to increase the value of your home. A clean, attractive roof implies that a home has been well maintained, and it increases a home’s curb appeal.

Inspect all the areas that are surrounding the roof for any possible defects. In addition, ensure that there are no missing or broken tiles or loose flashing between the roof and chimney. If you notice any problems, have them fixed immediately to avoid further damage. 

Determine if it’s necessary to replace old shingles with new ones by checking how much the old ones have weathered or how many shingles have been lost. This will help you determine whether or not your roof needs replacement and the kind of roofing material that you should use.

Add new gutters if they need to be repaired or replaced. If your home is more than two stories high, consider adding downspouts at each elevation where water can gather. This will not only ensure proper drainage but also improve the appearance of your home.  Check with a reputable contractor to find out how much it would cost to add them. 

3.  Decking

One of the most effective ways to increase your house’s curb appeal is to install a deck with state-of-the-art decking materials. This creates more space for you to entertain guests outdoors while increasing the usability of your yard.

 

4.  Touch Up The Paint

One of the easiest ways to increase your home’s curb appeal is by repainting its exterior walls. Of course, you can do this on your own but, if you are planning to change the color completely, it may be more convenient to hire a contractor.

A new coat of paint also gives an impression of good housekeeping and aids in hiding defects on the wall’s surface. Many things can cause damage to your home’s exterior walls, including rainwater seepage, pests, termites, and harsh weather conditions like wind and rain. Professionals should handle these kinds of issues before they get out of hand so that you can restore the walls to their original state. 

Water seepage is one of the most common problems in home construction and maintenance and can cause significant damage to your exterior walls. This type of damage happens when water enters cracks and crevices on the surface, leading to swelling and cracked wood. It can happen just from high humidity or even heavy rainfall, so your best option is prevention through proper sealing.

If there are loose tiles or chipped paint on your house’s exterior wall, give them a fresh coat. Even if it looks as though the wall is in good condition, defective paint or loose tiles can be a sign of more serious problems underneath.

If you have noticed any peeling paint on your house’s exterior walls, inspect for water damage and termite infestation. You can tell if your home has been damaged by pests because there will be tiny holes on the surface. In addition, termites eat away at wooden structures from the inside, leading to compromised structural integrity and sometimes even the collapse of roofs. 

5.  Add Flowers To Your Garden

Having a neat and attractive garden is most beneficial for your home’s appearance in the spring and summer, but it may be particularly useful in the autumn too. Consider planting some flowers along your walkway to create a friendly, welcoming environment.

Make sure to water them every day if it is hot out; otherwise, they could die very quickly. Also, consider adding some shrubs or bushes with brightly colored leaves around your house. When the weather turns colder, these will act as an accent color after most flowers have died off.

6.  Plant Some Trees On The Street Side Of Your House

Trees add shade and make it look more aesthetically pleasing; plus, they provide privacy from onlookers. If you don’t want massive trees, then try for saplings and plant flowers underneath them. It will really bring out the natural beauty in your home and make it look established. 

Just make sure not to completely block the view of your house from the street.  After all, to have curb appeal your house needs to be visible from the street.

7.  Paint Your Doors And Windows

If your door looks old and worn and has lost its luster, then you should definitely give it a fresh coat of paint. This small improvement can significantly improve your home’s curb appeal in just one day.

Paint is also a great way to cover up surface defects and cracks on your front door.

8.  Add Some Lighting

If you want to increase your home’s curb appeal, make sure your home’s exterior is lit up well at night. Consider installing outdoor lights on the front of the house, along pathways leading to the street, or in areas where movement can be observed from inside. 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
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Finding The Perfect Place To Live

The following is a contributed post.  For more on my contributed posts, please see this page.

Choosing where to live is always going to be one of life’s biggest decisions. Yet it’s a decision most people make multiple times throughout their lives. It’s rare to see one person stay in the same home their whole life, and many people move house multiple times before settling down for good. 

Whether this is your first move or your fifth, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you find the perfect place to live depending on where you are in life. Here are some considerations that’ll help you find the ideal living space:

Where should you live?

Where is the best location for you to currently live? The answer to this question largely depends on a couple of factors. For one, why are you currently moving? Do you need to move because you’ve got a job in a new city? If so, you might wish to live somewhere that’s close to work, thus reducing your daily commute and saving money every day on transport costs. 

You should also seek out the best and safest areas for you to live within a location. This helps you find somewhere to settle down that isn’t riddled with crime and other dangers.  If you enjoy walking and feeling part of a community, look for neighborhoods with a good walkability rating.  Of course, budget comes into play as well; you need to look at locations and consider where you can afford to live. All these considerations will help you narrow down your search to an area or two that’s perfect for your current situation. 

What type of home should you live in?

Next, you need to think about the type of home you’re going to live in. Do you want to live in a house? You get the benefit of extra freedom and privacy, and also more space than other housing options. If you are starting a family – or already have one – a house may be the best option to provide the space you need. 

 

Conversely, some people may benefit from living in an apartment complex instead. Perhaps you live alone and have a job that keeps you busy, so you’ll enjoy the amenities an apartment can provide – like a gym, concierge, etc. Retirees may prefer living in a condo as a way of finding more opportunities to socialize. It’s all about looking at your life and considering what type of home provides the most benefits. 

Should you rent or buy?

Finally, you have to consider whether renting or buying is the best option for you. If you plan on living somewhere for a long time, buying a house can be more beneficial. If you live a busy life that involves moving locations every year or two, renting seems like a smarter choice. There are pros and cons to both, so weigh up either option, look at your lifestyle, and you’ll come to the right conclusion. 

Overall, the perfect place for YOU to live can be entirely different from someone else’s perfect place. Focus on yourself and your life to whittle down the options and decide which place is best for you.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
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