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Winter Wools To Summer Shades

Looking for inspiration for decorating your home during 2015?

If you are looking to spruce up your home this year it may help to know what the latest trends are so your home can look super stylish. We’ve asked Yorkshire-based designer Jeanette Holmes what she thinks the hottest trends will be and how they can help you get the most of your home in 2015.

“We’ll start and end the year with wool, tweeds and knits, bringing a very cosy feel to our homes through accessories, fabrics and cushions,” said Jeanette. “And, whilst we’ll want to lighten the look for spring and summer the emphasis still very much remains on making our houses homes that are practical and relaxing.”

Most of the major paint manufacturers are singing from the same hymn sheet and are predicting restful palettes for 2015 embracing diluted shades of blue, green, purple, mushroom and pink to give our homes a very restful hue.

“These colours lend themselves perfectly to simple and individual accessories that can bring real character and personality to our homes,” said Jeanette. ‘It’s all about choosing well and realising that this doesn’t have to cost the earth. And, for those who want a little more clout in their colours look out for the primary trend of red, blue and yellow that is set to gather pace during the year.”

Retro and Vintage products continue to be popular and up-cycling is a trend that I think we can all embrace. Perhaps that table isn’t as old as you first thought? Could you use it in a different room to greater effect? It’s all about working with what you have, buying appropriately and being individual.”

For further decoration inspiration please visit our Pinterest board.

For information on our developments please visit our website.

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Location, Location, Location - Ashwell

Our recent blog posts have highlighted some of the most desirable places to live in the UK and we continue the theme with a closer look at Ashwell, in the heart of rural Hertfordshire.

A picturesque village served by a rail link to London that takes just 45 minutes, Ashwell is also well situated for commuters using the A1 or M1. Both are located within a short drive of the village outskirts, as are the popular business centres of Cambridge and Stevenage. 

Ashwell has long been perfectly placed for workers and travellers alike, tracing its history back hundreds of years to when it formed a resting place for journeymen heading from the capital to northern England.

Early settlers were likely drawn to the village by its natural springs and subsequently made their mark, leaving behind the wealth of history and architecture that give Ashwell its unique character and charm. 

St Mary’s church and its iconic pinnacle is a shining example of Ashwell’s cultural past. It’s formed a focal point for the parish since opening its doors in the fourteenth century.

Ashwell Museum draws in visitors too. The sixteenth century town house contains many fascinating objects found within a mile of the village and in some cases dating back to the Stone Age. The collection of artefacts includes coins decorated with almost all the Roman Emperors and an ancient spinning wheel.

Residents looking to enjoy modern conveniences benefit from the pharmacy, Post Office, butcher and general store located on Ashwell’s High Street. Popular national retailers and supermarkets are within easy reach too. It’s less than a five-mile drive to the well-known names trading at Biggleswade, Letchworth and Royston.

Ashwell has its own primary school, complete with a heated swimming pool and dedicated music room. Pupils from the village primary often go on to be taught at the Knights Templar School in Baldock, which is listed among the UK’s top 10 per cent of secondary achievers. 

When taking a little time to enjoy leisure pursuits, there’s lots to see and do locally. Many nature reserves, rich in wildlife and flora are with a short drive of Ashwell. Perfect for an afternoon stroll or change of scenery. The village also retains its share of traditional pubs and is close to sporting facilities and evening entertainment venues.

For information on the Miller Homes development at Philosopher’s Gate, Ashwell, please click here, or find happy buyer testimonials and photographs on our Pinterest board.

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Creating A Better Place To Live

We’ve created this infographic on sustainable living and creating a better place to live. It provides you with some great advice about living sustainably. You’ll find out what changes you can make to lower your utility bill cost but you’ll also learn why it’s important to look after our resources, rather than wasting them.

In recent years there have been major changes in the way that new build homes are designed – to make them more efficient for both the environment and the customer – which is handy for everyone – especially those living in a new build home as they can save hundreds of pounds each year on their energy bills.

New build homes are more energy efficient than refurbished or old homes and are much kinder to the environment. They are more comfortable to live in because they are warmer and because they are specifically designed to be energy efficient, they also have more natural light.  Of course, they also have lower running costs too which is great for everyone. For example, a three bed detached new build house could cost up to 52 per cent less to run than an ‘upgraded’ Victorian home while a four bed detached new build house could cost 55 per cent less to run than an ‘upgraded’ Victorian home – that’s less money spent on running the house and more money which can be saved or spent elsewhere.  

Our new homes have ‘Smart Meter’ technology which enables people to have better control over their energy usage. Smart Meters send your energy usage to your energy supplier in addition to giving them information on the CO2 emissions from your home, thanks to this technology people can see and understand how much they are using – which enables them to manage their usage and bills better. If needed, Smart Meters also have audio technology which warns you when you exceed your energy usage – preventing you from spending unnecessarily and wasting energy.

Although new homes are now built with cavity walls, which could save you £140 a year in heating because they provide insulation, there are still many other ways that you can cut down utility bills by simply making a few changes around the home.

- If you turn your heating down by 1 degree you could save up to 10 per cent off your bills each year, and because it’s only one degree – you won’t even notice the difference.

Instead of leaving items on standby such as the kettle, the microwave and games consoles turn them off when they are not in use. It not only reduces the risk of a fire, but it could also save you £50-86 a year on bills. This is one of the biggest energy wasting habits that we have in the UK!

- Invest in a washing up bowl as you could save £30 a year in comparison to washing the dishes under a running tap.

- You can even save some money when doing your washing too, simply wash your clothes at 30 degrees and the amount of electricity that you use could reduce by 30 per cent.

Switch to direct debit and you could save yourself some money, in 2013 energy bills paid by direct debit were £111 cheaper than payments by standard credit. Companies often offer deals and discounts for new customers, so shop around and you could save even more. Choose paperless billing too as it’s cheaper.

New homes are great because they are insulated and more energy efficient, and as the demand for energy is increasing we need to preserve it as much as possible. The Environment Agency found that houses in the UK are responsible for 30 per cent of energy use in the UK, 27 per cent of carbon emissions and 24 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, so it’s important to ensure that we are doing all that we can to look after and now waste our energy resources.

*sources can be found on infographic

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A Warm Welcome

Giving a gift when someone moves into a new home is a tradition which is believed to span centuries and ranges in meaning from country to country. It was thought that the home would be warmed by the giving of coal to use to light the first fire. This was believed to guarantee your home would always be warm and welcoming.  

While the history of the housewarming gift has no definite point of origin, a popular story that has been recounted and is thought to be the origin comes from Russia - a villager named Boris, along with his wife Yelena, presented a gift of bread and a pinch of salt to certain dignitaries that were passing through their village. This tradition was welcomed and has continued with further products being added to the list of items within different cultures.

Another popular reference to this tradition comes from the well-known 1946 film, "It's A Wonderful Life," where the main characters played by Donna Reed and Jimmy Stewart welcome a family to their new home with three symbolic gifts and a brief, heartfelt speech.

Here is a list of the items considered traditional housewarming gifts.

- Bread – So your cupboards will always be full

- Salt – So life may always have flavour

- Sugar – So life will always have sweetness

- Broom – So your home will always be clean

- Coin – So you may dwell in good fortune

- Candle – So you may dwell in light and happiness.

- Wine – So joy and prosperity may reign forever

While you wouldn’t want to turn up to your friend or families new home with a loaf of sliced bread, these items can be put together and made into a helpful housewarming basket or hamper that has an added meaning behind it. Spruce up your items by putting them in some fancy jars and include the meanings inside to add an extra special touch to the gift.

Do you know of any other housewarming traditions or gifts? What’s your favourite from the above?

For information on our developments, please visit our website.

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Sustainable? Check! Eco-Friendly? Check

With all the media attention over the last few years about looking after our environment, it’s hard to find someone who isn’t trying to better their lifestyle with sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives.  A great place to start paving the way to A Better Place is right on your doorstep – at home!  

When it comes to decorating and furnishing your home there are various ways that you can input a sustainable spin into the process, including buying local or eco-friendly materials.  We’ve compiled a list of ways that can give you some inspiration and help you get started.

Eco-friendly Materials

With more and more of us suffering from allergies, finding eco-friendly and hypoallergenic alternatives is becoming increasingly popular.  Materials made in this way, such as paint and wallpaper, are now much more readily available and will not only spruce up your home but it also means that you’re doing less harm to the environment while protecting your family from any health-related issues.  There are various companies online that supply eco-friendly paint and wallpaper includingEarthborn which also has stock in various shops up and down the country.

Reuse and Recycle

Websites such as houzzgoodhousekeeping and lushome provide great inspiration for finding quirky and innovative ways to redecorate and have articles galore on ways to reuse and recycle. The first thing to ask yourself when it comes to recycling is ‘does this need to be thrown out?’ Many items that may look past their best could be given a new lease of life with a lick of paint or a new use altogether.  Old suitcases could be turned into beds for pets, cutlery can easily be bent and be made intointeresting coat hooks or an old set of drawers could be turned into shelves, the possibilities are endless.

Buy Local

A lot of us do not consider buying local as a ‘sustainable’ action, but by supporting your community you are invigorating the local economy and improving the society in which you live.

Built To Last

The key to buying items that are built to last is research. Get a feel for what products you need and have a search online. Use online reviews and see what previous buyers have said about the product, this could save you a lot of time in the long run.

For more information on how to upcycle, we have a previous blog entry with further ideas.

View our Pinterest board for inspiration.

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