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Tips on Designing Your Home

April 18, 2021

Your home is your own space to relax in after a hard day of work, get ready for a brand new day in and go through life’s ups and downs in. With so much time being spent at home, decorating it to suit your own style and creating a space for you to unwind in can make all of the difference. 

Knowing where to start when it comes to designing your home can be challenging. Whether you’re looking to just give your walls a lick of paint or are searching ‘architects near me’ in an aim to transform your property completely, take your renovation one step at a time, going from room to room until you achieve the results you’ve been dreaming of. We’ve pulled together some of our favourite ideas to help you take it step by step, working towards turning your house into a home.

Put your own stamp on the place

When you first move into a property, it can struggle to feel like your own. There are no right or wrongs when it comes to interior design so take pride in having all of your prized possessions on display. From framed photos of your loved ones to textiles you have picked up on your travels, making a space your own will see you surrounded by your fondest memories for a trip down memory lane.

Pick a colour scheme to work with

To pull your pieces together and introduce some consistency to a room, decide on your favourite colour scheme before you get to work. Whether you head to your local hardware store to browse through paint magazines or head online to get some inspiration from others, see what colours will work for your home and choose decorative pieces to compliment this. If you’re unsure, using neutral shades for your walls and flooring will allow you to change up your decorations as and when you desire for full creative freedom.

Add a splash of colour throughout

Bright colours are a great way to inject some energy into the home and boost your mood throughout the day. We absolutely love yellows and pinks over the summer months, bringing in a cute new rug or even a simple vase of flowers to brighten up the space. During the colder, darker evenings, we love reds and deep blues to help give a cosy feel for those cold nights in. Look for new cushions, bedding or blankets to get your home winter ready for those lazy mornings.

Give your furniture a well needed refresh

The thought of a costly investment is enough to put many homeowners off of a home revamp, but that doesn’t have to be the case. A simple lick of paint can go a mile, transforming old pieces into a contemporary focal point of your room. Whether you’re looking to bring your old wardrobe unit up to date with a fresh new coat or want to try your hand at upholstering your run-down sofa with a vibrant new fabric, a little effort can go a long way.

Lifestyle

The Types Of Car Loans Explained

March 21, 2021

Purchasing a new car can often cost you thousands of pounds, making it not a feasible option for everyone. In an ideal world, you would save up and pay it off in one go, but another more achievable option is to use a car loan. They are a great way to spread the cost of a car over several months or years, resulting in a more affordable option for buying a new or used car. However, there are risks and costs involved with each one, so it is important to research and compare offers before securing a loan.

What Are The Different Types Of Car Loans?

There are several ways to finance your new car purchase and here are the main ones:

1. Personal Loan

A personal loan could provide you with enough money to buy the car outright. You will then pay the loan back over a set length of time, typically at a fixed interest rate. One advantage of a personal loan is that they tend to be unsecured, so you do not need to secure it against an asset, such as your house, as collateral. However, as there is no security for the lender, you may only be approved for a personal loan if you have a good credit score.

2. Hire Purchase

With a hire purchase agreement, you may need to put down a deposit to drive away with the car. You will then make monthly repayments that add up to the full value of the car and the interest, which means that at the end of the agreed term, you will own the car. The debt is secured against the car, so if you fail to make repayments, the company may take the car off you to recover the money that you still owe them. However, if you can make the repayments, this is a great, affordable option for owning a car.

3. Personal Contract Purchase

PCP loans are one of the newer forms of car loan, but they can be quite complex. With this type of finance, you will not buy the car outright. Instead, you will put down a deposit, then make monthly payments to cover interest and the cost of depreciation. At the end of the term, you have the option to pay a lump sum to buy the car outright, trade it in for a replacement PCP contract, or return it. This makes it a great option for people who like to change their cars regularly, but the interest rates can often be higher than other loans.

4. Leasing

If you opt for a car lease, you do not ever own the vehicle, but instead, make regular payments for using it. You will usually be charged based on the value of the car, how long you use it for, and an agreed mileage allowance. You may pay less each month than if you were paying off a car bought on credit, but there may be extra costs involved, such as excessive wear and tear fees.

5. 0% Purchase Credit Card

Using a 0% purchase credit card is an option that is becoming more accepted by car dealers. You will usually need to have a good credit score to get a high limit on a purchase credit card, but it will allow you to have greater flexibility and you can decide how much to pay off each month, as long as you meet the minimum repayment.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to car loans, so you should take the time to research all of the available options, and decide which is best for you and your financial situation.

Lifestyle

Are You on Track for Retirement? Benchmarks You Should be Hitting Each Decade

March 16, 2021

Unlike tracking your daily steps, your calorie intake or your latest jogging route, there doesn’t appear to be an app for tracking your retirement savings. 

So, how much should you be putting away for your twilight years to live comfortably? 

Survey data published by Wonga recently revealed that out of nearly 8,000 respondents, most people aspire to retire between the ages of 50 and 70, but only 50% of people between 25 and 44 have actually started saving for their retirement. If this sounds familiar, you might want to catch up with your retirement saving goals and try to hit these benchmarks.

Retirement Savings in Your 20s

In your early 20s, it is unlikely that you have started putting away any money for your retirement. You are probably in education or have an entry-level position with a low income, just figuring out how to budget accurately. This is okay.

But once you start working with disposable income in your later 20s, it is time to start putting money away for retirement. Don’t create a goal at this stage, but do open a dedicated savings account you can add to whenever you have managed to save a little. Your 30-year-old self will thank you.

Retirement Savings in Your 30s and 40s

Your 30s and 40s are where you put in the hard yards towards your retirement saving goal. An effective – but not the only – way to make retirement saving targets is to base your targets off your annual income. Experts believe that you should save around 15% of your pay during your 30s, which should equate to x1.5 your annual income over the decade. 

In your 40s, you might want to ramp this up a little and save more, aiming for around x2 your annual income over the decade. This should provide you with a solid foundation as you enter your 50s.

Retirement Savings in Your 50s

In your 50s, when you are likely to have paid off your mortgage, there should be more room to save. Workers are typically more dedicated to contributing as retirement comes into view. Experts suggest that you aim to have x5 to x9 your annual income by the time you reach 60. 

Your Benchmarks Should Be Personalised

Although experts can make rough perditions on how much you should save or aim to save each decade, these rules are flexible. 

How much you need to save will depend on how much money you earn, if you are single or married – and if your partner works as well. And of course, they depend on what plans you have for your retirement. Some people make money last longer in retirement than others. 

Moreover, these benchmarks are not stipulated to make you feel bad for not hitting them. They should serve as motivation and help you inch your way closer to financial security in later life. 

Lifestyle

Title: Creating the Perfect Home for You

March 8, 2021

Who hasn’t spent time thinking of the perfect home for themselves at some point in their lives? From its location to the number of rooms, size of the kitchen and outdoor space, so many elements make up the complete package. The good news is you don’t necessarily have to have an unlimited budget and choice of the world’s best properties to have the perfect home. No, you can easily start to create your dream setting from scratch in the home you currently occupy and without breaking the bank. Here are a few ways to get started with creating the perfect home for you.

It’s all about the details

Every house is a home they say, but until the finer details have been put in place and perfected, only then can you say it’s a perfect home. From small touches like door handles, light switches and pictures on the wall, there are many different things you can do to make your own really unique and personal. This can even extend to larger appliances and features that are throughout your home by upgrading them to fit your aesthetic. The humble radiator is an example of this, where you can elevate the heating in your home to match your décor. There are many great examples of quality radiators by Stelrad, from designer styles to colourful vertical radiators and column radiators. Sometimes overlooked when perfecting your home, radiators can help bring out even more of your character whilst ensuring your home is always at the perfect temperature.

Let there be light

It’s a fact that natural light will improve the mood of anyone, and your home deserves the same treatment. Having a home with plenty of windows and openings can ensure not only sufficient lighting, but also ensures fresh air is circulating at all times. Part of having the perfect home is feeling great living there, with wellness and wellbeing at the core of achieving this. As well as natural light, having other natural elements as part of your interior design is a great choice. Plants and flowers will bring the garden into the home, especially ideal if you don’t have any outdoor space to enjoy such as in an apartment. 

Comfort over style

It can be tempting to try and implement different interior design trends into one home, but it doesn’t always create the perfect environment. Rather than choosing options based on what is popular or trending online, or what is deemed to be stylish at this moment in time, it’s best to choose something that will last, and you won’t have to upgrade in a few years. Comfort is high on that list as above all you want to enjoy the space and not fill it with uncomfortable furniture just because it looks good. In the same way that the clothes you wear should promote comfort, your home should be the same. 

Remember, the perfect home is not the same for everyone and you’ll want to fill it with personality and items that are close to you. Pictures of family and friends help with this as well as creating room designs that are both practical and are full of your favourite things. That way, the perfect home can be achieved right where you are without too much effort or spend. 

Lifestyle

Elements To Look Out For When Choosing The Right Care Home For Your Loved One

February 16, 2021

With so many different care homes out there on the market, all providing a different level of care, it can be a challenge to find the right one for your loved one. With some designed for those with deteriorating conditions and others designed for the basic level of care such as washing and getting dressed, you must be aware of these differences when it comes to finding the right one for your loved one. To help you out, we have listed some of the key elements that you need to consider below.

Begin By Considering The Cost Of Care 

Finding a care home service can be a challenge, especially when your loved one has a specific set of needs; however, it is not an impossible task. By setting a budget and finding several care homes that fit within that budget and also provide the care you require then this is the perfect starting point to make sure that it works. 

Consider The Level of Care That They Need 

With some elderly residents just requiring respite care and others requiring the care of a nurse at every point in the day, it is important to make sure you are aware of the care that the resident needs and find a carte home that can cater to this. Whether it is a care home in Colchester with 24/7 care or a smaller care home for a 1-year respite period until another home is found, having a plan based on not only the care they need now but the care that they could need in the future is crucial.

Understand The Different Types Of Care Homes 

Though the name care home is easy enough to understand, it is important to note that there are several care homes out there that provide differing levels of care for those that need it. To help you understand the different types of care home, we have put together a breakdown below according to the Age UK website: 

A Care Home – This care home provides the basic level of care such as washing and dressing as well as day trips and group activities.

Nursing homes- These homes are designed for those with more serious illnesses as those caring for the residents are trained, qualified nurses. 

Dual-Registered Care Homes- This is a care home for those that need both the basic care as well as nursing care regularly. This is designed for those that have conditions that are likely to worsen over the course of 5 years as they will have qualified nurses on-site to help with this and ensure that they have the care that they need. 

Dementia Care Homes- These are specially designed care homes for those that have dementia and are equipped with the safety measure and security to make them feel comfortable and safe as their condition worsens. 

Regardless of whether you are looking for your loved one to move into a care home in the near future or you are planning in advance, there are several elements that you need to consider to make sure you are making the right decision at every stage.  

Lifestyle

How to enjoy the outside world while not being able to get outside

February 16, 2021

We all love to go exploring around the world, but those little things like time and money often get in the way. With that in mind, here are some of the ways you can explore the joys of the outside world while staying firmly indoors.

Watch sport for the scenery

Many people watch sport for the high adrenaline battles between the athletes who are pushing themselves to the very limits of what is humanly possible. Another great reason to watch sport is to get a glimpse of the beautiful surroundings they’re playing this sport in. Athletes are incredibly lucky as they are paid to travel to some of the most picturesque parts of the world to compete. A great example of this is the Tour De France. If you watch live cycling competitions, many of which you can now stream online on betting websites, you’ll be able to see stunning shots of them riding along some beautiful streets across this country. The wide helicopter shots of the pack going by shows you the stunning architecture and natural beauty of the country from an angle that very few people get to see. 

Explore on Google Maps

Many people simply use Google Maps to plan their journey once they leave the house. If you get lost or need to find your nearest store or restaurant when you’re in a new city, the mobile phone app is even a great way of helping you find your place in the city again. Even if you’re not planning on leaving the house, Google Maps and Google Earth are great ways to explore a city without having to step into it. Over the last few years, Google has spent a lot of time and money taking high-quality and highly detailed pictures of every part of every street in many countries around the world. That means you can virtually walk around some of the most sought-after travel destinations and be able to see everything you would while standing on the busy streets. You can even explore places like The Colosseum and The Palace of Versailles in a lot more detail than you would be in the flesh, as many destinations gave Google special access to places that are normally shut off to the public.  

Find a video online

Of course, it’s not just the sights that make us love the outdoors so much. It’s all of the senses working together. Nothing tops the smell of freshly cut grass or the salty sea for nature lovers. While you can’t replicate smells online, you can replicate a place’s sounds by finding a video of it on a website like YouTube. Many people have filmed long videos of just the people and the tourists of the city walking by during a normal day. While this might not be exciting, if you make yourself a coffee and imagine you’re in a street café in your favorite city, those familiar sounds will bring a smile to your face.

Travel

Explore the Top 10 Attractions in Amsterdam

December 14, 2020

Amsterdam is the capital city of the Netherlands and one of the most renowned tourist destinations in the world. Popularly referred to as the “Venice of the North” due to its lovely waterways, this Dutch city should be on any traveler’s must-visit list. While the city has gained a reputation for its red-light district and liberal approach on vices, Amsterdam has so much more to offer with its collection of museums, galleries, outdoor spaces, historical architecture, and other attractions. 

Amsterdam is an eclectic and diverse destination and there’s something in the city for everyone – whether you’re into art, history, nature, or even food! But with the abundance of things to do in Amsterdam, it can be quite a challenge to plan out your trip, especially if your time in the city is limited. There is an endless list of attractions in Amsterdam so we’ve whittled it down to a handful of spots you absolutely shouldn’t miss!

Tips for Exploring Amsterdam

To make the most out of your sightseeing experience in Amsterdam, here are some tips that you might find helpful:

  • Save money by buying an Amsterdam City Card, which gives you access to Amsterdam’s top attractions as well as public transport, bike rentals, and a free boat cruise. The City Card comes in 24-, 48-, 72-, 96- and 120-hour options and range from €65 to €130, which you can book here
  • Most attractions, particularly the museums and galleries, prohibit guests from carrying luggage inside the facilities. To avoid any hassle, find an Amsterdam luggage storage facility where you can stow away your items.  
  • Most attractions are located near each other, so visit as much as you can in a certain area.
  • Consider renting a bike to explore Amsterdam; the city is extremely bike-friendly!

Top 15 Must-See Attractions in Amsterdam

  1. Museumplein: If there’s one thing that Amsterdam is most well-known for, it’s got to be the stunning collection of museums found within the city. The Museumplein, also known as Museum Square, is Amsterdam’s cultural center and home to three of the best museums in the city – the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum, and the Rijksmuseum. Another notable attraction located in the area is the Concertgebouw.
  2. Vondelpark: The most popular green space in the city, Vondelpark is one of Amsterdam’s top attractions. At 45 hectares of space, the park is filled with lawns, paths, ponds, and playgrounds that make for fun outdoor activities. You can also find interesting additions within the park, such as an open-air theater and an outdoor art gallery. Make the most out of your visit to Vondelpark by starting your day early to enjoy every inch. 
  1. Jordaan: Arguably Amsterdam’s most famous neighborhood, Jordaan is beloved by locals and tourists alike. Apart from its central location, the area is home to a few of the city’s best spots, including the Anne Frank House and the Nine Little Streets shopping district. There is also an insane amount of cafés, restaurants, and pubs in the neighborhood. The Amsterdam tourism board’s official website provides a detailed guide to visiting Jordaan
  2. Dam Square: Just like any major city in the world, Amsterdam has a center point – the Dam Square. Considered the heart of the city, the iconic public square is a must-visit. You can find attractions such as the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, the National Memorial Statue, the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), and Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum within the area. Learn more about what you can do at Dam Square with this guide.
  3. De Pijp: Also known as the Latin Quarter, the De Pijp neighborhood is a multicultural area filled with impressive 19th-century architecture. Compared to Jordaan, De Pijp has a calmer and more authentic atmosphere. While here, you can visit tourist spots such as the Heineken Experience and the popular Albert Cuyp Market
  4. Rembrandt House Museum: Another impressive museum located in the city is the Rembrandt House Museum. The museum once served as the residence of the acclaimed Dutch painter for 19 years and houses some of Rembrandt’s best works. The museum also occasionally hosts temporary exhibits, as well as events such as workshops and educational programs for children.
  5. Red Light District: The neighborhood of De Wallen, which is the oldest neighborhood in the city, is more popularly known as Amsterdam’s Red Light District. Despite its reputation, the area is well worth visiting due to the different churches, squares, monuments, and other historical landmarks.
  1. Canal Belt: There’s a reason why Amsterdam was dubbed the “Venice of the North”; its canal system, known locally as de Grachtengordel, is at par with the prominent Italian city. The 17th century Canal Belt, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is made up of four main canals that surround the city – namely Keizersgracht, Herengracht, Singel, and Prinsengracht. For an unforgettable and up-close experience, check out some of the canal cruises for yourself.
  2. EYE Film Institute: Established in 1952, the EYE Film Institute offers the ultimate experience for film buffs and is dedicated to preserving and presenting local and international films. The permanent collection has over 37,000 movie titles and comprises thousands of photos, soundtracks, images, books, and more. The EYE also has a cultural program that involves film screenings, temporary exhibits, guided tours, workshops, and educational activities for children. Visit the EYE website to learn about special events, ticket prices, and more.
  3. Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam: There is no shortage of nature and green spaces in the heart of Amsterdam, including the renowned Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam. Established in 1638, it is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world and among the most prominent tourist spots in the city. Horticulture enthusiasts can see and observe some extremely rare species of plants and trees. Highlights of the garden visit include the ancient hexagonal building that’s been around since the 18th century, the Palm House, and the 1870s Orangery. Plan your visit to the botanical garden by visiting their official website.

Sources:

https://www.iamsterdam.com/en/see-and-do/things-to-do/top-20-things-to-do-in-amsterdam

https://travel.usnews.com/Amsterdam_Netherlands/Things_To_Do/

https://www.timeout.com/amsterdam/things-to-do/best-things-to-do-in-amsterdam

https://www.planetware.com/tourist-attractions-/amsterdam-nl-nh-amst.htm

https://thingstodoinamsterdam.com/amsterdam-attractions/

https://www.netherlands-tourism.com/things-amsterdam-ultimate-top-50/

Lifestyle

A Guide to Finding and Buying Your First Designer Bag

November 18, 2020

If you have been saving up to buy your first luxury handbag, the experience can be very intimidating. When you factor in all the high-end brands, fabrics, and styles, the number of options you have available can be both exciting and difficult. Most importantly, you will want to choose a designer bag that stands the test of time. So, here is a guide on how to find and buy your first designer bag.

Know Your Budget

Before you start the hunt for your dream designer bag, you must work out your budget first. With a plethora of options at your disposal, you need to be realistic with what you can and cannot afford. The last thing you should do is spend beyond your means, as while you may end up with the bag of your dreams, being saddled with debt is no fun. Creating a budget can help you track your income and outgoings, as well as help you manage your money better. 

Research Brands

Whether Chanel has caught your eye, or you’re more of a Louis Vuitton kind of girl, there are so many designer houses to pick from. If you’re struggling with where to begin, you should begin the process by picking designer brands that match your personality and style. For instance, if you are a classy and sophisticated woman, YSL may be perfect for you. Whereas Givenchy is more suited to edgy women. For the Gucci bag lovers, SSENSE have these Gucci bags that can elevate your look. The company is a Montreal-based fashion platform that sells products all over the world, including accessories, clothing, shoes, and Gucci bags that can be teamed together to create the ultimate look.

Choose the Right Size

When it comes to purchasing a designer bag, you should select one that can house all your essentials. Whether it’s your purse, makeup, phone, or money, you need to be practical with your purchase, otherwise, you will be stuck with a designer bag that isn’t functional. While bigger bags may cost more, they’re worth it if you’re the type of woman who likes to carry around anything and everything. 

Consider Versatility

Purchasing a designer bag that can be used for all kinds of occasions is important. If you’re off for a job interview, holding an important meeting, or attending a swanky dinner, having a designer bag that correlates well with all these events will help you get the most out of your purchase. The color of your designer bag is a key factor that you need to address. While your eyes may be drawn to bold and vibrant colors, opting for black, white, and beige will mean you can team your bag with all your outfits. 

Find the Best Place to Purchase

Before splurging on a designer bag, you need to find the right retailer who has what you want. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more fashionistas are shopping online for their designer bags. Make sure you shop on trusted and reliable websites, otherwise, you run the risk of being scammed.

A designer bag can be the perfect addition to complete your overall look. To make the decision process easier, make sure you take all the factors above into account. Once you’ve found your dream luxury bag, the item can be the perfect investment for both your purse and closet.