Monthly Archives: March 2013

Loft and Attic Room Ideas

No matter where you live in the world space is at a premium – so it makes sense to use every scrap of it in your home. We can no longer afford to leave our attics and lofts empty or to use them just for storage. The number of loft conversions are growing every year and when done properly they often become the favorite room in the house, whether changing them into a new master bedroom suite, a playroom for the kids or a second living room.

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What is it that makes loft rooms so appealing ? My theory is it’s partly due to the relatively high ceilings and quirky angles that you tend to get in loft conversions with odd beams sticking out and unexpected pools of light that immediately give them bags of character – all features that should be maximized in the design of the room.

It’s also down to the light level, the higher up a building you go the better the quality of the light and even if your loft conversion has limited light it may have the advantage of velux windows with views skyward.

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Insulation is one of the key problems with any loft conversion. They weren’t built as rooms, and even retrofitting insulation to current building regulations, they tend to be hotter in summer and cooler in winter than the rest of the house.

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When designing any room it’s important to consider maximizing the space and this needs to be carefully considered when designing for a loft room as it’s important to use all the eaves space to maximum advantage. Eaves are natural spaces for storage, creating built in cupboards approximately one metre high or shelving out the area for books is a good solution. One metre is about the height where space gets difficult to use efficiently with a sloping ceiling so storage is a natural use for it.

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If you’re creating a bathroom in your loft the eaves space is a great place to position a bath as you can easily get in and out without banging your head. Another solution is to leave the space clear to give a feeling of space, when lit cleverly this will also help to maximise the effect, shooting light up the sloping walls to bring a sense of drama to the room.

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However you decide to use your loft space it’s an investment worth making and with a little thought and consideration to the shape and angles, could be a stunning addition to your home. See the images below for great ideas of how to use your loft space.

About the author :

Linda Levene is the head designer at LLI Design.

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How to Decorate Your Home for Easter

Whether you celebrate Easter as a religious or a secular holiday, there is no doubt that there is a lot to be thankful for when it comes around. It means spring has sprung – or will soon. It means that life is beginning anew; there is rebirth, regrowth, and a new chance; the days are longer and a bit warmer. Decorating your home for Easter is a great way to bring a bit of the sun in and to honor the holiday. Here are some wonderful ideas to try:

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Easter Egg Tree (courtesy of MarthaStewart)

This great tree incorporates spring themes of new life with soft, pastel Easter colors.

To start, fill a galvanized steel bucket, flower pot or ice bucket with floral foam, marbles, or small stones. Insert pussy willow branches (if you can pick your own, great! If not, try a craft store or look for cherry blossom or forsythia branches). You can even paint the branches white. Arrange some grass in there as well for decoration.

Next, get your eggs ready. You will have to blow them out so the yolks and whites are safely out. This process of completely emptying the eggshells will allow you to keep them up over the holiday and for years after. If you’ve never done this, see instructions here.

Make sure the liquid doesn’t touch the egg shell – and then make some scrambled eggs. The next step is to decorate your eggs. You can do this in a number of different ways, and there are great commercial kits on the market at Easter time. After you dye your eggs, make sure to blow them out again. This is a great time to get the kids involved. They can use glitter, beads, and other items from the craft store to embellish their eggs.

Thread a ribbon onto a needle and slip it through the holes of the egg. Pull the ribbon through. Double-knot and tie onto the “tree” branches.

Note: Once you know how to make blown-eggs, you can use them to make centerpieces or topiaries, arrange them as decorations in Easter baskets for adults, and even make garlands to hang on light fixtures or the fireplace mantel. Just be careful when handling them, and keep them out of reach of little kids!

Chalkboard Flower Pots (from HGTV)

This makes a terrific decoration for your home – and it can be a nice gift for an Easter hostess, friend, or family member. Personally, I’ve used this idea to create fun hostess gifts where I wrote Happy Easter on the pot and then placed an Easter lily inside for a beautiful presentation. In addition, I’ve used the mini terracotta pots with chalkboard paint to do double duty as place cards on the Easter dinner table and then given them to guests as spring themed party favors to take home with them. I just put a little flowering African Violet in each pot. They looked great!

You’ll need:

  • Terracotta plant pots.
  • Primer.
  • Chalkboard spray paint.
  • Chalk.
  • Paper towels.
  • Spring bulbs or flowers.
  • Potting soil.

To make:

1. Prime your pots and let them dry.

2. Apply chalkboard paint to the pots. You will need two or three coats, but let each one dry before applying the next. Make sure to paint the rim and inside 1/3 of the pot, which will be visible. This will need to dry overnight.

3. When the pots are dry, you’ll need to “season” the surface. This prevents whatever you write from being “burned” onto the pot – which means you can use it over and over again as a mini-chalkboard! To do this, rub chalk over the pot, and then wipe it with a paper towel.

4. Fill with potting soil and bulbs or plants.

5. Write a message on the pot. If giving as a gift, write the name of the plant/bulbs and care information.

Egg Shell Planters

You can do this a few different ways; if your family eats a lot of eggs, you can repurpose those shells. Crack them as carefully as possible (in half is good). Clean them and let them dry. You can also blow out the eggs and use a pin or needle to gently break them. This is your plant “pot.”

Next, fill with a light mixture soil and spray it with a water and Miracle-Gro mixture so it is damp. Make a little indent in the soil with a toothpick and plant two seeds per shell; this is great for starting plants indoors before it’s gardening time. Cover with dirt using the toothpick. Spray just a little water on top. Write the name of the plant on the shell in permanent marker. Place the seeded shells in an egg crate or nestle them in a basket for display purposes around your home.

By Easter, you will have little seedlings stretching towards the light; this makes a great spring decoration or gift – and you can plant it a bit later. When you do, simply crush the egg shell up and plant it right with the seedling. Practical, green, and beautiful!

There are so many creative ways to decorate your home for Easter; just make sure to let the sun shine in and enjoy! where she is a regular blog contributor.

egg tree photo credit: hep via creative commons license cc

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What to include in the perfect Scottish garden

Scotland has an abundance of native plants and herbs and is recognised for its historical and horticultural significance. Scotland’s unique planting conditions mean that in addition to native plants, a variety of internationally renowned plants, including rare and collectable ones, flower perfectly throughout the year.

Scottish gardens are popularly known for having colourful beds of flowers that flourish year-round. These desirable conditions mean that deciding what to include in your Scottish garden can be easy – because there is so much choice, but it can also be very difficult – because there is so much choice! Here’s a few of our favourite plants and flowers, ideal for including in the perfect Scottish garden.

The Scotch Thistle, we couldn’t start with anything else really! This deceivingly delicate flower has come to be an iconic emblem which represents Scotland. Once regarded as a weed, this plant is now a popular addition to gardens all around the UK. The plant sprouts an elegant, purple flower during the summer months and requires full sun and acidic soil.

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Photo credit

In spring, you could look to include bluebells and colourful rhododendrons in your Scottish garden. Bluebells have a deliciously sweet fragrance and will brighten up any garden with their violet-blue flowers. Rhododendrons come in a variety of colours and can be planted in most areas of a garden.

During the summer months your planting options are endless. In particular, Scotland is an ideal location for yellow foliaged plants and shrubs because you rarely see leaf burn in the north. This means that shrubs like the Japanese maple are received very well in Scotland. Japanese maple is often admired for its gentle and calming foliage and looks attractive planted next to ponds and water features as the colours reflect beautifully off the water.

Your Scottish garden doesn’t have to fall short during the winter months either. White snowdrops and luscious winter berries will grow fluently throughout the colder months with minimal assistance. This honey-scented plant has stunning white bobbing flowers and looks perfectly at home amongst the snow and sleet. The snowdrop is so well adapted to Scotland’s harsh conditions that you just can’t fail. Winter berry bushes are the perfect feature in a Scottish winter garden as you can enjoy bursts of bright colour along with the option to harvest and eat the berries themselves – the perfect combination!

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Photo credit

Other plants that thrive in the Scottish gardening conditions include heather, Scottish flame flower and gorse. When designing a garden you should also consider your garden’s soil type and choose plants appropriate to this. You should also get a good understanding of what parts of the garden receive sunlight and shade as this will determine the type of plants you’ll be able to plant.

Nevertheless, Scotland’s unique gardening conditions mean that a Scottish garden can be whatever you want it to be, just don’t forget to enjoy the designing process!

Author Bio: This article has been written by Joel at Gardens Galore, a garden landscaping company based in Perth, Scotland.

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