Posts filed under: Inspiration

The inspiration starts here…with a visit to Grand Designs Live

Inspiration, News


Grand Designs Live, proudly sponsored by Anglian Home Improvements, returns to London’s ExCeL from 5 – 13 May 2018. Whether you’re planning a self-build, renovation or are adding the finishing touches, this unique event offers visitors a chance to discover the latest innovations, explore this year’s trends and preview unseen products.

Presented by Grand Designs guru Kevin McCloud, the show is the ultimate day out for any budding grand designer. From free expert advice, new product launches and over 500 specialist exhibitors in six project zones, there is something for every home project at this multi-award winning event.

Claim your FREE tickets!

We have teamed up with Grand Designs Live to offer you FREE weekday tickets and £10 weekend tickets to the event (saving up to £17)*

Simply visit, follow the link to book your tickets and enter the code CHECK2018 to claim!

*T&C’s: Valid on standard admission tickets only. Tickets must be booked in advance before midnight on 12 May 2018. Saving is based on door rate ticket prices. Free weekday tickets valid between 8 –11 May 2018 only. Subject to limited availability, tickets allocated on a first come-first served basis. £10 weekend tickets incur a £1.70 transaction fee.

Free tickets to The Southern Homebuilding & Renovating Show!

Inspiration, News

If you are planning an extension, halfway through updating your interior or dream of building a sustainable house from scratch, a visit to The Southern Homebuilding & Renovating Show from 1-2 July 2017, at Sandown Park, Surrey, will give you practical help to turn your ambitions into reality.

Across two full days, visitors can speak to over 220 exhibitors and access more than 500+ advice sessions, 20+ free masterclasses on essential topics which can tackle any problem, from implementing the latest intelligent security systems to funding a remodelling project.

Resident property specialists will be on hand to help people with all building and renovating queries and leading companies will be exhibiting their latest ranges of services and products from an array of industries including architecture; design; financial topics; kitchens; bathrooms; doors and windows; lighting; heating; ventilation; planning permission and much more. The show venue will become a useful platform for all consumers who are facing similar challenges throughout all stages of their projects, as they can soak up advice and guidance and take inspiration from successful case studies.


To claim a free pair of tickets usually worth £24 (price in advance), follow this link, insert your details and print your tickets to bring to the show.

Please note that tickets must be redeemed before the link expires on 3PM 30 June 2017. Additional T&Cs apply:

Revive Your Home With A Spot of Summer DIY by Craig Phillips

Advice, Inspiration

The completion of a long DIY project is a very satisfying feeling, days, weeks, even months of demanding work culminating in a lasting piece of furniture or a change to the home. Summer is the perfect time to put those long-standing plans into action and make your ideas a reality, even if it’s just a spot of painting!

If you’re fresh to DIY, don’t let the idea of an arduous project or lack of experience with the requisite tools hold you back. There are plenty of ways to spruce up your home or garden, without any prior experience. Here are just a few ways to change up your property this summer…

Make use of a bright day and get creative with your home

Yes, while most will see a bright, summer’s day and flock to beaches or parks for a leisurely day, a spot of clear dry weather can be the perfect moment for an opportune piece of DIY. If you fancy adding a fresh lick of paint to your walls, it’s a great time to shift furniture into gardens and will also allow rooms to fully air out. Perhaps if you’ve worked on a summer house or other outdoor unit, it can be fully utilised between your DIY breaks.

Bring plants indoors

And for those rainy days, it can be great to have a bit of life indoors, primarily with plants! They can brighten a room and freshen it up, both visually and literally by keeping air temperatures down and reducing airborne dust levels. There are plenty of innovative ways of showing off your new additions too, with hanging up a few lighter greens on rope shelving or even hanging them from a spray painted wooden or plastic dowel rod. Stylish and healthy!


Using old furniture, perhaps not fit for its original purpose anymore, is a brilliant way to do things both on the cheap and it’ll give you a unique piece too, that may even become the envy of your home. Trends involve using old doors, re-painting them and shaping them to become a new bed backboard, while wood plank crates can have metal legs attached to create rustic-looking shelving and side tables. Repurposing dilapidated pieces is a great way to express your creativity and improve your skills, too.

Get creative with wall art

Livening up your walls is a fantastic way to change your home up with very little effort. But rather than spending small fortunes on pieces of art, you’d be just as well to get creative, mounting an artsy shower curtain onto a wooden frame could do the trick. If you don’t have a spare shower curtain lying about, you could use wooden boxes and picture frames to create a shelfing/wall art hybrid, practical and good to look at.

Are you indulging in any big DIY improvement projects this summer season?



This blog was provided by Craig Phillips.

Get Your Home In-Law Ready This Christmas!

Advice, Inspiration

With those chilly mornings and evenings drawing in, it can mean only one thing – the countdown to Christmas is on!

While the festive season is a great time to get together with friends and family, it can also be a stressful time. With so much to think about in terms of planning and preparation, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed.


Add to this, guests staying at your home for a couple of days and you have the recipe for a potentially stressful situation!

The key, of course, to a successful festive break is to get organised in plenty of time. While I can’t help you decide what to get your Great Aunt Alice this year, I can share some of my top tips for getting your home guest-ready.

If you do have guests coming to visit, the most important thing to consider is where they will sleep. Ideally this will be a room of their own. Not only will this give them a space of their own to escape to for some quiet time but will also be the perfect place to store all their luggage and gifts.

If your spare room is looking a little neglected, don’t panic! There is still plenty of time to get it ship-shape and in-law ready!

Of course in an ideal world, getting your home ready for guests would require little more than a clean and tidy. However many of you may be faced with a much larger project.

Firstly, if your spare room is a dumping ground then spend an afternoon sorting it out and store what you can in the loft space. Invest in some basic storage solutions such as lidded plastic boxes to neatly store and stack everything else away.


Once the space is tidy, you can see what you are working with. Firstly check the walls – are they in good repair? If the walls are papered and seen better days, you will need to strip them.
From here, assess the quality of the plaster. While it may seem like a big job, giving the walls a light skim will leave them looking smooth and fresh and offer the perfect base for painting.

Re-plastering the walls will require the skills of a professional plasterer, visit to find a trusted and approved plasterer in your area.

Whether your walls need plastering or not, if the room has been left untouched for a while it will most likely require an update of the décor.
The easiest way to achieve this is with a coat of paint, while this is something a competent DIYer can do themselves. For those short on time or unwilling to tackle the project, a professional decorator can be called upon to paint walls, ceilings and woodwork to a high standard.

With the décor refreshed, you should next consider storage for the room. Not only will this make your guests stay more comfortable but it will be useful all-year round.
If your room is especially small or unusual in shape, consider inviting a joiner to design bespoke storage for the space.

With over 23,000 vetted tradespeople including plumbers, decorators and electricians, is the perfect place to start when it comes to getting your home ready in time for Christmas!


By Craig Phillips
Checkatrade Ambassador

The Ultimate Eco Drive Challenge – 2000 Miles Across Europe Using Limited Fuel!

Inspiration, News


This Friday (2nd September) two teams from will begin their 2000-mile trip across Europe in cars they purchased for £250. They are hoping to raise £2000 for the Sussex Community foundation, a charity that helps fund community groups tackling deprivation and disadvantage.


Starting at Whitebox HQ in Lancing, West Sussex the two teams will be driving across Europe as economically as possible, time penalties will be added for every refuel. Using their skills to keep the fuel stops to a minimum, they will cover approx. 500 miles per day. First car back to HQ is the winner.

“It’s fantastic that companies like Whitebox are willing to give their time to help support the local community”. Miranda Kemp, Sussex Community Foundation.

The eco run will take place betw een Friday 2nd until Monday 5th September. To ensure that no one misses out on the action the whole event is to be filmed by Punchy Pictures. For more information about the Sussex Community Foundation see their website or view the interview.  More information about the eco run is available via &

For further information, please contact [email protected]. 07818 414758.

Family weekend!

Inspiration, News

Where to start?  I recently spent a long weekend with family and part of it with friends, I have a huge family with 4 siblings 10 nieces and nephews along with an extended family of what feels like hundreds of Aunts, Uncles, cousins, second cousins, second cousins twice removed……….

When we were young I relished time with my family, we had similar interests, sense of humour and in the 70’s no digital games just a garden hose, jacks (someone will explain if you don’t know this) a tennis ball in a pair of my Mum’s stockings so we could play ‘my mother say’s (again ask someone)

Now as adults we all have different interests, ego’s, we live in a digital age that we all feel we must check constantly, we have our own family that are of course the best at everything in our eyes and we are happy to shoot anyone down who may think differently. Our children don’t have the same bond with their second cousins because we have all moved to different areas of the country and even different continents, this leads to stilted conversation sometimes, in particular various parts of the family have opted out of ‘normal civilisation’ and although the conversations about living off the land, being ecological and not having a carbon footprint all sound commendable the reality is limited chat, no common interest and a slight body odour emanating. We all say ‘I love my family to death but’ do we really mean this? I had a good think after and came to the resolution that I would hunt down and do bad things to anyone who hurt my family and I do love them but, I don’t want to spend too much time with them, we all gave the cordial, ‘we mustn’t leave it so long next time’ ‘let’s make a date’ but in reality I don’t feel we mean it and secretly we are all slightly relieved when we can go back to our own castles and slate everyone in private.


The next day I spent with my girlfriends, I literally spent the whole day in hysterics, belly laughing, looking at something inappropriate and knowing that they will also have clocked it and with one look doubled up without having to say a word. Finishing each other’s sentences, never tiring of talking about our past escapades and still finding them hysterical, knowing that bring a bottle always means two, that if my house isn’t spot on tidy no one is going to talk about it later and on the whole having the most brilliant day.

This leads me to the old analogy, ‘you can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends’ True to a certain extent but, I am still fiercely proud of my slightly eccentric, eclectic, sometimes wholly inappropriate family and will keep in touch with them however, thankfully by good old Facebook where we can all hide behind our online persona, we can send the odd Happy Birthday or even just a smile.

Safe until the next family get together!

Creating the perfect man cave – by Rachel



“Man cave”
Noun Informal.
: a room or a space (as in a loft) designed according to the taste of the man of the house to be used as his personal area for hobbies and leisure activities

2 3

Step 1 – Choose your cave space

Not many of us have an actual cave to work with so explore your options. Have a spare bedroom or office space? How about an unused garage or loft space? Perhaps you could invest in a shed? Depending on what you want in your man cave, you may not need a huge space, somewhere snug with enough room to spin around with your arms outstretched may be sufficient! However, if your idea of a perfect man cave includes a full size pool table, a swinging hammock and a gym area you’re going to need a bit more space! Also consider that the more obscure, unused or ‘outdoorsy’ the space is, the more time and costs that will be involved in making it into an inhabitable space.


Step 2 – Consult your partner/housemates

If you find yourself wanting your own personal man cave then it’s likely you already live in a shared space. If so, you may want to consult the others living in the house! Be considerate… You may need to be prepared to compromise if you’re intending on making a man pad all of your own that no one else is permitted to enter without knowing the password, Morse code blinking sequence and the secret handshake.


Step 3 – Prepare the room

Once you’ve chosen your space, access its current condition.


  1. Insulation
  2. Sound-proofing
  3. Lighting/wiring
  4. Flooring
  5. Decorating

If you’ve chosen a shed or a loft space for your man cave consider insulating, sound-proofing and wiring the space. Any good man cave will be dry, warm, have adequate lighting (dare we suggest remote controlled?!) and will be sound-proofed enough so as not to disturb others. Know your limits, get professionals in to do work where necessary especially if you encounter wiring or asbestos. Click here if you need help finding professionals! Once it’s a inhabitable space, paint or wallpaper it to your desire. Choose a flooring type that suits the vibe you’re aiming for. Carpet is cozy and inviting but it’s not very spill-friendly. If you’re after something more low maintenance or easier to clean, try wooden floor boards/laminate or even lino.


Step 4 (The fun part) – Equip your man cave!

By far the most important part! What do you want in your man cave? What vibe are you going for?

Ultimate chill out zone? A sofa, beanbag or even a hammock will be essential.

Music studio or entertainment suite? Every man needs a safe haven to play Fifa or Call of Duty, right? Or a widescreen for movie nights.

How about a fully stocked bar? If you don’t drink, try a slushy machine. Who doesn’t love a slushy?

Pool tables, foosball tables or even a mini crazy golf course guarantee a good time. Whatever your heart desires, go for it!

MOST IMPORTANTLY a man cave is simply not a man cave without a plethora of ‘stuff’ and gadgets. Are these things practical? Maybe. Are you going to use all of them? Absolutely not. Does it matter? Nope!

We will follow shortly with our top 10 favourite bits to add to your “man cave”



It’s time to take a fence – and give it a facelift – by Craig Phillips.

Advice, Inspiration, News

This is a great time of the year to be getting outside and enjoying the garden, but what if your fences and garden shed are looking old and worn? You are not going to be able to settle and enjoy your time out there.

Truth is, you are going to be looking at your fences and thinking “If I don’t get them maintained and treated soon then it’s not going to be long before I’ll be having to replace them!!” The problem is, you’re also going to be asking yourself if you can afford to replace them. Fencing isn’t cheap and neither are sheds so what are the best ways to keep them in reasonable condition?

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There are some really quick, easy and inexpensive ways to maintain both your garden fences and your sheds. If we use these, we will not only be making them look great but most importantly we’ll be making them last longer. Also, let’s not forget that well-kept fences and a good-looking shed can play a key role in keeping or even adding value to your home!

If you are planning on doing any maintenance work yourself, here are some helpful tips that you can follow:

  • start off by scraping off any old debris and moss that will have developed over the years by using a hard brush or a wire brush. On real stubborn areas you can even use a jet spray to pressure wash off any unwanted bits
  • wait for the surfaces to dry fully and then you can start treating the timber
  • there are loads of great colours available now for these kind of surfaces; most of them are water-based and won’t harm your plants or animals, but please do double-check when you buy them
  • there are two ways you can apply the treatments – one is with a paint brush and roller but the other smarter and more professional way to getter a better finish in a quicker time would be to apply your treatment with a paint-spraying system
  • you may find that fence panels are a rougher sawn timber than the shed materials and will be a lot more porous and will require more paint. It’s okay to apply two or three coats if you want to treat them really well
  • when it comes to the smoother timber on your shed you would be better off doing to two or three very fine coats of treatments, leaving each coat to dry and with a very gentle sanding between coats using a soft wire wool; this will help the coats to bond better and reduce the chance of the solutions running

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Of course, if the task is a large one and you don’t have the time or tools to complete the work – or you simply don’t want to attempt to do the work yourself – you can always hire a professional. Reputable, fully-vetted tradesman capable of doing the work for you can be found via

Either way, please don’t put off treating your fences or your shed. When it comes to maintenance, the more often you do it the easier and cheaper it becomes. Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to wooden materials that are exposed all-year round to the elements that the British weather serves us!

Good luck and let’s hope you get the chance to get out there and enjoy your garden.

Surely, summer must be just around the corner!!
Guest blog by Checkatrade ambassador Craig Phillips

Why you must check a property’s condition before you buy!

Advice, Inspiration

When we are buying a home, part of the stress is because we are normally moving due to a major event in our lives. This might be for good reasons: an expanding family, new job or needing and being able to afford more space. However, it may well be due to tough reasons too, such as getting divorced, being in debt or the loss of a loved one.

As a result, when trying to buy a home during a major life event, good or bad, we often don’t necessarily concentrate on the important fact that when buying you aren’t buying a home initially, you are buying a building you plan to make your home.

The building you have fallen in love with may be in a fantastic location, it may have the perfect space or be the only one you can currently afford and it may look in good condition, but unfortunately very few of us are in a position to assess a property’s real condition. This is why it’s important to get the experts in to check a property ideally before you make an offer or as soon as an offer has been accepted and absolutely before exchanging.

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Buying a property to let
This is especially true if you intend to make money from letting property. To let a property legally these days requires adhering to 145 rules and regulations. Although not all of these are based on the condition of the property, many are.

29 of the rules and regulations you need to adhere to are based on the ‘Housing Health and Safety Rating System’. This is a nationwide requirement to make sure tenants are renting a property which is warm, free of mould and damp and without dangers such as tripping downstairs due to frayed carpets or falling because of poorly laid paving stones.

Other rules and regulations required include annual gas checks and, although a grey area legally, your duty is to ensure the electrics are “safe”.

From a landlord’s perspective, you can easily spend thousands if not tens of thousands of pounds making a property that someone has happily lived in for years achieve the letting standards required.

So if buying to let, make sure you have at least a condition survey from a Residential Property Surveyors Association ( or a Royal Institution Chartered Surveyor (RICS) as well as gas and electrical safety checks. In addition, also check the drains and make sure anything the survey has raised is investigated further, such as timber and damp issues or problems with the roof.

Only then will you truly know if it’s a good buy or a disaster which will constantly be eating into any excess income you earn from letting the property.

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Buying a property for you
If you are buying a property for you and your family, the temptation is to save as much on buying the property as you can so you can spend the money on more exciting things such as a new kitchen, bathroom or both. Or you may have ideas of making it into a beautiful interior designed masterpiece.

The problem comes though when things start to go wrong you didn’t know about. A leaky roof or guttering can soon damage your newly decorated property and end up costing you a fortune rather than using problems raised by a survey to reduce the amount you pay for the property in the first place.

And if you think about it, if gas and electrical checks are required for tenants safety, then surely it is worth making sure your family is safe too? The boiler fitted might look new, but if it wasn’t fitted by a Gas Safe Registered engineer and doesn’t have the right certificates, it could be dangerous and harmful to your family.

So whether you are buying for yourself or for a tenant, make sure you first check out the building you are buying before you purchase the property you want to make your home.

For expert help checking out your property visit Checkatrade

Kate Faulkner

Design on Property Ltd

Time for a New kitchen? Protect Your Investment! – Yves Way “The Kitchen Guy”

Advice, Inspiration, Members

Having a new kitchen is an expensive investment, so getting the design & layout right is huge. You can get plenty of free professional advice to help with this from kitchen show room designers or tradesmen quoting to renovate your kitchen. However, with all the experience and advice they can offer you, one thing they may not bring to the table is how to protect your new investment “long term”!

A new kitchen should serve you for around 20 years, but in that time trends and styles will change, a style which is sort after now may well look dated in 5 years time, and after all the money spent, do you really want to be stuck with a dated looking kitchen for a further 15 years?


Now I’m not trying to upsell you on “a neutral design”, I’m a big fan of kitchens with personality and I admire people with the gumption to make bold design choices, the point here is to protect your investment (your new kitchen) in the long term. When the time comes that your new kitchen starts to looks dated, wouldn’t it be great if on a very small budget and little to no professional help you could update and refresh the look of your kitchen! Well you can, all you have to do is be prepared for this within your original design! Add features and colours in easily changeable areas of the kitchen, if you commit to Plum coloured units or bright red tiles (not together of course) these are very permanent parts of the kitchen which would require professional help and be costly change. Use Neutral colours for the more permanent areas of the kitchen such as units, worktops and tiles and explore your adventurous side in the 5 areas I have laid out below. Each of the 5 areas below can be refreshed or updated by a competent DIYer, they’ll have a large impact on the design and can be changed on a very small budge.

Kitchen Walls

Use bold colour paints or designer wall paper to give your kitchen an impacting backdrop. You can easily change this down the line for very little cost so be as adventurous as you dare!



The right shelves can be a statement on there own, use them as a platform to dress up or down your kitchen with some charismatic items. whether its cookbooks, pots & pans, glass storage jars or plants, display whatever takes your fancy and simply change it as it loses its appeal!


Whether your opting for one accent colour or half the colours of the rainbow, accessories are the easiest way to achieve this, use tea towels, tea & coffee pots, vintage tins, spice racks even a bread bin to add personality to your kitchen.

Worktop Appliances & kitchen Tools

Worktop appliances such as Kettles & toasters and kitchen tools such as a knife block, utensils rack or pot & pans, these are all available in an array of shape and sizes along with the option of bright colours as well as the more traditional stainless steel and Copper. Use these to dress up neutral work surfaces or open shelves.


The last area is flooring, depending on which material you choose as flooring this may be one of the more expensive areas to change, although it can be worth it. No matter how large or small your kitchen floor area is, the colour will have a big effect on the overall design, so in pro rata changing it will have a big effect also.  Bear in mind it will be costlier to change a tiled floor compared to laminated or vinyl flooring and prepare yourself for this in your initial design.


To summarise, don’t enter your new kitchen project with the glum and negative out look that your new kitchen will at some point once again look dated, enjoy the design process and express yourselves, just be aware that the inevitable fact of styles changing will happen and be prepared! Don’t “play it safe” “play it long term”, have fun with your design, be strategic and yield the best return on your investment.

Enjoy your Kitchen

Yves Way