Saturday, 30 May 2020

6 Ways to Obliterate Your Energy Bills This Winter!

With temperatures well and truly starting to plummet around Australia, it’s time to start preparing our homes for the cooler weather. Veneta Blinds, Australia's best value window covering supplier, gives their advice on the best ways to improve energy efficiency and insulation in your home, as we turn up the heat this winter.

Take advantage of the winter sun
In Australia, we are blessed with beautiful sunny weather almost all year-round. On a winter’s day when the sun is shining, keep your blinds and curtains open during the day to allow that natural warmth from the sun to warm your home. Remember to cover up the windows once the sun sets with insulating blinds and curtains to trap the warmth inside.

Keep the heat in with Insulating Blinds
In winter, the main cause of heat loss in the home is through uncovered glass windows and doors, where the heat can leak outside, making it difficult for you to regulate temperatures and causing a reliance on heating and cooling, resulting in increased energy bills and a greater carbon footprint.

Opting for insulating blinds is an effective way to keep the home cool in summer and warm in winter. Veneta Blinds’ Honeycomb Blinds, also referred to as Cellular Blinds, offer superior insulating benefits with their unique cellular structure and can save up to 34 per cent on your energy bills. The honeycomb shaped cells create an air pocket, trapping air within its cell and creating a barrier between inside and out. Not only does this barrier work in winter, by trapping the warm air inside and preventing the cold air outside from leaking in, it also works the reverse in summer, preventing the hot air from entering your home and keeping the cool air inside.

Honeycomb Blinds also offer other great benefits to the home such as noise reduction. This is perfect for those households on a busy street, with noisy neighbours, energetic children or those with hard flooring. The Honeycomb Blind comes in lightfilter, blockout or sheer, depending on your need for light and privacy control, and all three come in a wide array of colours to suit any home d├ęcor style. The Honeycomb Blind is a versatile solution because there is a wide range of models available and an option to suit a wide number of window and door applications.

Seal up any cracks or gaps
Seal cracks and gaps around windows and doors and invest in door snakes or draft-proofing strips. This not only protects the cold air from getting in, but also helps to retain the heat inside and helps to only heat the area required.

Invest in a bathroom heat lamp
Hot water makes up a large chunk of our energy bills and in winter, it’s very tempting to spend an extra 10 or 20 minutes soaking up that precious hot water in the shower. Instead of having long hot showers during winter, turn on the heat lamp in the bathroom and keep hot showers down to 5 minutes or less. Utilising the heat lamp and having shorter showers will be a lot kinder to your wallet and reduce your carbon footprint. Another tip for year-round savings in the bathroom is to invest in a water efficient shower head.

Keep cosy with soft furnishings
Hard and bare flooring such as tiles and hardwood floors can make your house feel a lot colder in winter and increase the amount of heating that you need to stay warm.

As it’s not always possible to put in carpet, small things can make a big difference such as large rugs to cover up floorboards and tiles. Most importantly, before racing to switch on heating appliances, try traditional methods of keeping warm first such as putting on socks and an extra jumper, grab out a throw rug and fill up a hot water bottle or heat up a heat pack.

Make sure you’re with the right energy supplier
Lastly, remember to take the time to compare energy suppliers. By understanding your current energy bill and shopping around, you will be able to find a better deal and help you save a little extra this winter.

All of Veneta Blinds’ products are DIY and can be ordered online 24/7 via their website.

Till next time... be energy smart and save on your bills this winter!

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Styling Your Home and Home Office To Maximise Light and Productivity!

As both working and studying from home becomes the new norm, many of us are pivoting to adopt a refreshed approach to daily routines. Maintaining productivity is crucial for both adults and children in their work and schooling.

According to research, over two-thirds (68%) of Australian employers say their company now allows employees to work remotely, with some 54 per cent of Australians noting they had set up a custom home-office space to accommodate for working from home. Interior Design Expert and TV personality, Neale Whitaker, shares his top tips to creating a home office for the whole family, and the importance of natural light on health, wellness and performance.

What needs to be considered when choosing an appropriate study or office area?
As most of us are currently working from home, it stands to reason that a desk under the stairs or a corner of the kitchen bench no longer cuts it. According to Neale, whilst last year, home office spaces didn’t exactly “sell houses” in the way kitchens and bathrooms do, the drastic changes that have been encountered in the past months have certainly seen a shift in the value of such dedicated spaces. 

When it comes to setting up your home office, ideally, you’ll want to choose a spacious room with plenty of natural light (and a good view, in my personal opinion). This is shown to increase. concentration, decrease distractions and keep you focused for longer, however, do consider how you will manage this light. Window coverings are important for not only style purposes, but also in effectively blocking those glares to computer screens, managing temperatures and keeping you comfortable. You may need to factor in multiple desks or work spaces, so for those without the luxury of a spare room to completely re-do, pick an area that is flexible and away from the hub of the home.

What are some key styling tips to factor in?
The style of your property is very personal, and for most of us, we want to maintain some flow throughout the home. Whilst the eclectic look is trendy, simple and chic is the rule when it comes to creating a sophisticated office space. Less clutter also makes for less distraction. A bright room with lots of light creates a pleasant working environment, and a neutral white backdrop makes for a good starting point. It’s easy to then bring a bit of fun into the office with some colourful accessories and key pieces. 

As mentioned, with bright, airy spaces comes moving sunlight, so it is important to consider how you will manage this as the sun shifts throughout the day. Luxaflex® Pirouette® Shadings are the perfect choice, seamlessly blending sheers with blinds to create a soft light that allows for privacy without compromising on the warmth of the natural outdoor light. Classically simple, the delicate folds appear to float above the window, allowing light to filter through, or to be completely closed. Their shutter-like effect is very on-trend with today’s interiors. Plus, the brand is Australian made!

Are there any mistakes people make when designing their home office?
It is important to consider how the space will make you feel. It’s easy to open a catalogue and simply pick out a theme to replicate. But if your space doesn’t suit that theme, it can have an unproductive and unappealing effect. An area that isn’t inviting, is too cold or simply uncomfortable and will leave you seeking elsewhere to sit, defeating the purpose of the space altogether. You want to open up the space, not close it off. Again, maximising natural light is a must, as it is known to elevate mood and increase concentration. According to Neale, incorporating a covering like Luxaflex® LumiShade™ is a great option, combining the versatility of a vertical blind with the elegant appeal of a soft window furnishing, letting light in whilst balancing style, durability and practicality to suit any home. 

Also don’t forget comfortable seating. Placing a sofa or creating a window seat is a great idea as it allows you an alternative place to sit when taking calls or needing a change to your desk chair.

What would one consider as non-negotiables?
Adequate desk space and flexibility. According to Neale, there’s nothing worse than feeling confined or restricted in the home, so choose a desk that allows you the freedom to move comfortably. Don’t crowd the room – keep things simple and clean. 

Home automation has become increasingly common, and could be a great asset for the whole family. Through integrated gadgets like Google® Assistant, Apple HomeKit® and Amazon® Alexa®, you can simplify daily tasks through voice technology, from researching questions for homework or work-related activities, to catching up on the latest news, or controlling your window shades. Luxaflex® PowerView® Motorisation allows your shades to function through technology and are compatible with smart assistants. This means you can tell them to open or close on demand, or set more specific scenes, like ‘mid-morning glare’ to close half way, or ‘night time’ for privacy.

Setting aside a bright, calm, inviting space with muted daylight that allows for quiet focus and concentration is essential, especially in households where there are multiple family members, so ensure you style your home and home office to maximise light, efficiency and productivity. 

Till next time... reconfigure your home office and stay safe and stay home.

xox
Rani

For further information, visit www.luxaflex.com.au.

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Pots of Creative fun with Mum for Mother's Day!

With Mother’s Day tomorrow, you still have time to dash out to your local Bunnings Warehouse and grab a couple of terracotta pots and acrylic paints or interior paint sample pots to create a one of a kind gift Mum will love and cherish everyday.
This year I've partnered with Garden decor expert, Northcote Pottery and instagram channel @Growing_Mad, to create easy to make pot designs for under $10 using its 9cm Italian Terracotta Pots, which are currently, just $1.15 at Bunnings Warehouse nationally!

According to self confessed plant addict, Niall Hughes of @Growing_Mad, these pots require very little artistic talent and just a little time and patience while you wait for coats of paint to dry. It’s a lot of fun and a cost-effective way to make a really personal present.

I absolutely love the simple designs he's created. Inspired by him, I took out my paint brushes and some spray and chalk paint I had lying in the garage and Elie and I whipped these up in no time.  

Elie decided to paint hers a pretty cream with blush undertones. We used a stencil to write 'mum' on the pot. She then painted some watercolour flowers and leaves on card paper which I outlined and cut out. Next she stuck them on the pot using double sided sticky tape. 

Faux flowers
You can choose to fill it with faux flowers or plant a real one in it. Its a great way to explore your little one's artistic side using mixed media and a lovely bonding exercise! What more could a mum want?!

Below is a list of step by step instructions from @Growing_Mad to make your own painted pots:

Fruit Salad
Perfect for any kitchen, these pineapple and watermelon designs can be made in four easy stages. You just need pots, paints (red, green, yellow) and a permanent marker.

Step 1: Paint the rim of your pot green. Don’t worry about being too neat here, you may need a couple of coats.
Optional: use masking tape to cover the rim. The easiest way to do this is to tear off a strip and attach it to the pot at one end. Holding the other end taut, carefully roll the pot toward the other end.
Step 2: Paint one pot red for the watermelon and yellow for the pineapple
Step 3: Carefully remove the masking tape if you used it. Draw alternating rows of V-shapes on the yellow pot in permanent marker and tear shapes in random directions for the watermelon
Step 4: If you have a lighter green paint, put a little on the end of a brush and wipe off any excess, then add uneven stripes around the rim of the watermelon to create the look of the rind.
Ombre
Possibly the easiest pot to create in just three stages with only two paints, the ombre look just takes a soft touch.

Step 1: Paint your pot white. This will take a couple of coats, which need to fully dry.
Step 2: Choose your base colour and mix a slightly lighter shade, apply this at the base on long, shallow humped shapes
Step 3: Wipe your brush off and use sweeping motions to draw your coloured paint up the pot letting the brush dry out to the point of smudging. Don’t worry about being too neat here, it all adds to the effect.
Options: Use your original shade to create smaller humps at different points to create a range of hues

You can make a myriad of designs using paint - go geometric with some tape, paint little colourful rainbows, paint the top band and just the saucers for a more trendy look, or use a mix of paint and glitter to make a pretty little pot. The options are endless! And who doesn't like glitter?! 

Elie helped me tape up the pots with painter's tape. (They are slightly crooked, but who cares! It was a great bonding session.) I chose to go for Scandinavian tones to match my decor style. And I love the way they turned out. It's such a useful and thoughtful gift! 

These simple gift ideas are perfect for cheering up any spot around the house as part of Northcote Pottery’s Pots of Hope Campaign. During these uncertain times of isolation, the fun activity encourages people to take time out to create their own pots and display in front gardens and windowsills to brighten up the days of passers-by and post them online using #PotsofHope.

For more inspiration on how to create your own #PotsofHope for the mums in your life this Mother’s
Day visit www.northcotepottery.com.au and @northcotepottery on Instagram, as well as @Growing_Mad and @raniengineer.

Till next time.... wishing every mum, mums-to-be, grandmothers, god mothers and mother figures a very happy Mother's Day!


Thank you to Northcote Pottery for the gorgeous pots and Niall from @Growing_Mad for your inspiring designs!

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Staycation: Create The Ultimate Media Room

With many of us working from home in these strange times of social distancing and school holidays almost upon us, the creation of a media room could prove invaluable for your family.

The heart of the modern-day home, media rooms are more than just a TV room. With the rise of mini-series and streaming platforms, they not only provide the perfect environment for binge-watching your favourite movie or show, but also add value to your property through an additional living space for family members to enjoy.

When creating the ultimate media room in your home, here are a few key points to consider:

Choosing the Right Space
If you are repurposing a pre-existing room for your new media space, there are a number of key qualities you need to consider.

The shape and size of the room needs to meet the needs of your family. Will it provide ample space for the family to sit? How much natural light does the room let in, and do the windows have appropriate shades to block out the light? Does the room have enough electrical outlets to facilitate the needs of home entertainment systems? Is there an appropriate place to position your screen? All these factors will contribute to the effectiveness of your media room.

Minimise Noise
While an entertainment hub is the ultimate relaxation zone and on many home-owners’ wish-lists, modern sound systems have the potential to noise-pollute the entire house, reducing the effectiveness in the media room. Those who have the luxury of renovating or building their media room should first consider acoustic management of the space. Poor acoustics can amplify background noise and make the most advanced hi-fi equipment sound mediocre. It is important you research products that can aid in the management of acoustics. Gyprock Superchek plasterboard is the premium choice for noise control, allowing you to reduce noise transfer within your home as well as effectively resisting damage caused by soft and hard impact. Its reinforced core is designed to reduce the damage caused by rough play whilst delivering a 15 per cent reduction in perceived loudness through better sound absorption for a quieter, more comfortable home.

Lock Down the Light
Media room lighting is crucial for amplifying the multi-use space. Nothing ruins a good movie more than a glare across the screen, and you need the freedom to let the light in and brighten the room as easily as you darken it. With a multitude of uses intended, it is important to carefully consider things like ambient lighting, easy-use control systems and lighting design to ensure your media room remains practical. Luxaflex® Window Fashions introduced a new level in ultimate darkness that has changed the game in media rooms everywhere. Blocking out maximum natural light, the patented LightLock™ Side Channel System on Luxaflex® Duette® LightLock™ Shades are a stylish addition to the space.
Get Comfortable
Media rooms need to be comfortable, with enough space for all your family members and friends. Consider the amount of seating you will need and choose a comfortable, deep sofa that accommodates for this. Layer with plush elements, like throws, blankets and pillows. You may like to include extra seating, such as an arm chair, with a few nesting tables to create table space for those movie snacks. Home automation also adds to a sense of comfort, and can incorporate everything from your television to the sound system, dropdown media screens, lighting and even your window shades. Luxaflex® Duette® LightLock™ Shades come with Powerview® Motorisation, allowing for complete control and for the creation and scheduling of customised room ‘Scenes’. You could also pre-programme blinds and pair with additional smart technology to reflect different activities or times around the house, using voice technology to implement such scenes as "movie time" to make the entire experience more enjoyable.
Till next time... create the ultimate media room for the entire family to enjoy and have the perfect staycation!

Happy weekend!
xox
Rani


For more information about Gyprock, visit www.gyprock.com.au.

About LUXAFLEX® Window Fashions
Luxaflex® Window Fashions is a market-leading brand, offering the nation’s largest range of quality window coverings for inside and outside the home. The suite of products includes blinds, shutters, soft shades and awnings – all with a focus on innovation, durability and style. Luxaflex Window Fashions products have been sold and supported by the Hunter Douglas Group in Australia since 1954.
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