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Wednesday, July 16, 2014


How to Brighten Up Your House for the Summer Sun

shutters and garden

Summer is here and enjoying the sun should be your number one priority. Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy – especially when you have kids, work and general chores to contend with.

For those who find much of their day needs to be spent indoors, letting the light in and brightening up your house can allow you to enjoy the beautiful summer days. Here are a few tips on how to do it.

Not everyone can afford to entirely redesign their house in the summer, but an easy way of embracing the light and keeping your home airy and free is through flowers. A small bouquet in a tasteful vase can elevate a room from dark winter warmth to fresh summer light.

Throughout the winter months, it’s easy to hoard items we don’t really need. Avoiding stepping into the brutal cold air means your house can become a collection of old and dated cupboard fillers that you really could do without. Invite the summer in with a clean out of your cupboards, wardrobes and drawers and create an open free space to enjoy the summer. You’ll also be able to make room for a new summer wardrobe – and some tasty summer treats!

Blankets, rugs and thick curtains and the order of cold, brisk winters but a good dose of homey accessorising can help bring summer into your home and lighten the whole room.
Opt for light linen curtains and light coloured bedding will help your house look summery and reflect light.

special shapes shutters

Another great year-round solution to lightening your house is shutters. Purely Shutters offer a wide range of designs and colours that can help you create a versatile look that brings in the light during summer and keeps the cold out during winter. What more could you want?

Light, light, light
If your home struggles to receive sufficient natural light to brighten it up then why not fill the void with artificial light? Place lamps or spotlights in strategic places and use bright but energy-efficient bulbs to achieve the best impact.

If you have a chance to redecorate a little this summer, stick to light colours for your walls and furniture, bringing colour in through accessories. Whites and light greys help keep a room free and airy whilst blue and green accessories maintain character in the room.

So, there you have it. Enjoy the good weather with a bright and light room that can bring that summer smile inside … even when you can’t get outside!

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

5 reclaimed pallet wood coffee tables

grey pallet wood coffee table

Great furniture can be created from unlikely raw materials – in this case the recycled remains of wooden shipping pallets. Why not utilize the character and hidden charm of this wood to create something new and compelling, like a super-rustic coffee table (pictured above).  This table is the creation of woodworking craftsman, Matt Rivera. The stylishly stout table is constructed of reclaimed pallet wood and 4 X 4′s. Perfect for a beachy patio, deck or sun room – $250.

reclaimed wood coffee table

If your interior design taste trends more “Martha Stewart” white, shabby chic, or farmhouse rustic this table (above) – handmade by Yonder Years – may suit your style. All materials used in this table’s construction are recycled or reclaimed and all edges have been rounded and sanded for a touch-friendly, rustic finish. Each piece of pallet wood is hand-selected for its knots, character and color. $345

indoor outdoor pallet wood coffee table

(above) This table’s great weathered, distressed finish was created from an expertly applied combo of paint, stain, white wash and woodworking expertise. The coffee table, which can be finished for indoor or outdoor use, looks likes it’s spent many years on a secluded Maine beach. Made in Canada by Silviculture Designs $192.53

union jack pallet wood table

Jack Fouracre is the son of a great woodcutter and craftsman and spent his formative years surrounded by all manner of wood and carpentry projects. He now makes his own furniture creations, primarily from reclaimed and upcycled wood. His “Union Jack” coffee table (above) – created from reclaimed pallet wood – features an inlaid Union Jack design (more…)

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Monday, July 7, 2014

upcycled home decor – wine barrel lights

wine barrel ring and stave chandelier

These handmade lighting fixtures are created from the upcycled components of old wine barrels, aged and stained by years of storing some of California’s finest vino.
wine barrel ring light
Artist Michael Weiss and his band of California artisans create hundreds of products, pieces of furniture and home decor items from reclaimed grapevines, vintage wine barrels and other recycled and natural materials. Basic materials used in the making of these lighting fixtures: wine barrels, wine barrel rings, chain, wine barrel rings, wine barrel staves and a heavy dose of fine craftsmanship.

wine barrel stave light

You can find these lights (beginning at $80) and dozens of other handcrafted artisan items at the Wine Country Craftsman shop.

related: more eclectic home decor items featured on The Alternative Consumer

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Monday, June 30, 2014

out of the ashes comes light – reclaimed wood light sculpture

reclaimed wood lamp top

California based designer and artist, Paul Foeckler, creates illuminated sculptures that utilize light to reveal the elemental form and physical character of reclaimed wood. The piece, pictured above and below, is created from a piece of reclaimed Incense Cedar that was found in the remains and ashes of a forest fire a few years ago in the Angeles National Forest.

reclaimed wood lamp

Horizontal shafts of lights are revealed through suspended layers created out of what was once a solid chunk of cedar. An internal light reveals a center knot and the character, grain and texture of the original wood. The piece is mounted on a handmade and waxed natural steel base with felt bottom for a scratch-free surface and is connected via a 6 foot woven black cloth cord. This minimalist, natural sculpture is available for $400 from Split Grain

related: more eco-friendly home decorating ideas from The Alternative Consumer

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Top Tips to Make Your Conservatory More Eco-Friendly

Ahh, the British summertime … you can almost wear a t-shirt outdoors without freezing to death.

We’re joking, of course, but the capricious nature of Dear Old Blighty’s weather can make picketing the Met Office an agreeable idea. Admittedly, much of this unpredictability stems from climate change, with the Met Office’s chief scientist admitting the UK had recently seen its “most exceptional period of rainfall in 248 years”. Yep, it seems the weather is set to carry on spoiling our summer barbecues and putting paid to our t-shirt suntans unless attitudes towards energy efficiency in the home begin to change.

Sunlounge glass conservatory

Considering the often disagreeable climate then, it’s no surprise conservatories are the latest must have addition for the discerning homeowner, with over 200,000 new structures popping up each year. But before you rush out to Conservatories R Us clutching a sodden clump of £50 notes and a thirst for additional living space, the energy efficiency requirements must first be considered ….

sunlounge conservatory

Heating and Cooling
We all know the Earth revolves around the sun (don’t we?). As such, it should be fairly obvious that where your conservatory is placed will determine your heating and cooling needs.

This is important because of the amount of energy you’ll potentially use – and its effect on the environment. Interestingly, 28 per cent of the UK’s CO2 output comes from the energy we consume in our homes, but erecting a conservatory can actually SLASH your emissions. How? Because your conservatory offers protection from the cold during the winter months, playing its part in keeping the rest of the home warm and negating the need to fiddle with the thermostat.

Importantly, if your conservatory faces south, it’s going to get pretty warm in there. This isn’t all bad, though, as the heat from the conservatory will also warm up the interior of your property. For this to work effectively, the conservatory and the main part of your home must have doors separating them, and vents and blinds in place to stop it becoming unbearably hot.

Edwardian glass conservatory

Glass, Blinds and Vents
Of course, no conservatory is complete without glass – but, for the eco-friendly among us, any old glass simply won’t do. Instead, it’s important to opt for glass replete with a low U-Factor, as this type of glazing offers much higher levels of energy efficiency. Not only that, it will help keep your conservatory cool during particularly warm periods, which means your costly air conditioning unit can continue gathering dust in the garage.

As far as blinds go, you can choose from roller or vertical, with both options helping to reduce the amount of sunlight seeping in, allowing you to control the temperature of the room.

Finally, it’s vital your conservatory is kitted out with vents and louvers to let fresh air into the space, lest you choke on your own sense of self satisfaction at your eco-friendly ways …

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