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Interior Design Basics That Make All the Difference

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Interior design, much like any form of art, has experienced movements and changes throughout the years. It affects how your home is perceived and how you are perceived, subconsciously or not, by others. While many people are house-proud and have preferences on how their home should look, interior design is about transforming a place into somewhere that encourages the occupants of the room to feel a specific way, maybe even to influence their behavior. Uncomfortable rooms are either badly designed or intended for a brief, passing use only, whereas cozy, inviting spaces are for spending long periods of time. Whether you’re designing your own home from scratch, redecorating or hoping to improve your house before selling it on, careful interior design can have a surprising impact on unexpected aspects of your life and the opinions of potential buyers. Here are a few helpful pieces of information that outline the various basics of interior design. Once you have a grip of these, use them to make your home more appealing to yourself or to stand out on the property market.

One: Windows and Doors

Every home has windows and doors, but that doesn’t mean they have to be bland and invisible at first glance. You can turn anything in your home into a statement; the trick is just deciding which elements to downplay and which to bring to the fore. Windows and doors are important both practically and psychologically as they act as barriers and portals through which we either experience space or shut it out. Small windows or windows with heavy gratings are oppressive but also somehow cozy, reminiscent of old cottages or cabins. Large windows and doors open the space and create a feeling of opportunity and freedom but also a lack of privacy. If you cannot change your actual windows or doors but would still like to pay them some attention, there are various ways of designing around them which can make a vast difference. For example, doors with glass panels allow light from other rooms to be shared and add an almost open-plan effect to any space. Remove the door entirely for increased ease of movement and flow. Windows can be decorated in all kinds of creative ways that play with how you view the outside world from within. Plants on the windowsill are popular as well as elegant drapes or blinds to both shield you from unwanted sunlight and also add style to the room. If you’re looking for inspiration, here are some roman shades ideas that are great for creating a sleek, understated look.

Two: Textures

Depending on the room of the house, you should be considerate about which textures and materials to use. Solid, smooth surfaces are for practical uses such as in the more purposeful rooms like the kitchen and bathroom. Softer textures create more depth and therefore draw a person in to be comfortable and resting. Match the textures to the purpose of the room for a space that feels both practical and stylish. For example, carpet in the kitchen is normally regarded as a bad idea. Decide whether a space is more about comfort or utility and work from there. Do you want a bedroom with hard surfaces that encourage you to get up and be productive or a soft, comfortable space with plenty of opportunities for relaxation and leisure? This is where your lifestyle plays a huge part in the decisions of how you want a room to look. If your kitchen is decorated in raw wood and porous tiles you might be more likely to put off cooking and spend more time eating elsewhere, whereas polished concrete work surfaces and reflective metal cupboards bring to mind a more efficient, proactive kitchen scene for more avid chefs. Of course, if you have your heart set on a particular style, then these considerations become less significant, but be aware that textures have a subliminal effect on how you use a room.

Three: Layout and Movement

Subconsciously or subliminally, a building’s layout can hugely alter how you use the space. Walls divide space for privacy as well as hygiene, security and style reasons. For example, living with a large family in an open plan home doesn’t mean that the bedrooms are visible from the lounge but that the family has space to move without obstruction or delay. An open plan home for a single person or couple, however, may not even require walls to separate the bedroom as the context allows for fewer walls without the compromise of privacy. It all depends on who the home is for and how they will use it. For a more secretive, warm layout, many rooms hidden behind many doors makes a place feel secure. Often, however, it is financially or practically too difficult to drastically change the layout of walls within a building, but the layout of furniture within a room still affects movement and flow. Take a look at Feng Shui for a good basis upon which to guide your furniture arrangements. Regardless of the superstitious elements of the idea, Feng Shui is excellent at explaining the way a room’s layout can speak to your mind. You can even come up with your own set of guidelines that help you decide where to place your furniture. Do you hate being unable to see the door? Always angle chairs and your bed so that your back faces a wall. Do you love the sunlight while you are working? Position your desk or workspace by a window and out of the dark corners.

Four: Future-Proofing

If you are redecorating your own home or have decided to move and need to attract buyers and sell up, it is important to future-proof your home’s interior design against the inevitable yet unpredictable changes to contemporary trends and fashions. Trends are great for giving insight into new design ideas and even new designers whose work might one day become hugely influential, but they also threaten individuality within the home and can quickly become tired and overused. Instead of following interior design fashions, go your own way and come up with your own style. Almost any style can be considered effective and attractive as long as it is consistent within itself. Too many disparate looks colliding is far more unattractive than a unique style. That being said, there are ways of incorporating current trends into your home without condemning it to become dated and stale. Essentially, do not implement a change to your home design that will be difficult to reverse or remove based on a trend. If bare brick suddenly appeals to you, resist stripping the plaster from your walls without thinking about whether or not you would still appreciate it in a few years’ time. The dreaded avocado or peachy pink bathroom suite has become a laughable mark of an outdated home simply due to the changes in taste over time. It is common to look back upon past styles and find them amusing or ugly, but if you can appreciate them as a product of their time, you can use contemporary styles without fear of designing a future disaster. Maybe you enjoy the irony of retro fashion and want to design your home around it deliberately? The main point is to avoid spending money on something for your home that you will later regret.

Five: Size and Purpose

Many common interior design mistakes can be chalked up to mismanaging or misunderstanding the sizes and proportions of a room and the furniture inside it. Sofas and televisions that are too big for the room they’re in will make the room seem smaller and give it a cramped feel. Large rooms with sparse or small furniture make it feel empty and cold. Strike a balance and learn about how to fill a room without overcrowding it. If your kitchen is rather small, resist the urge to have an island or breakfast bar installed as this will take up valuable space. Similarly, if your bathroom is large, then you can be creative with the extra space and perhaps have a separate shower and bathtub. It doesn’t really matter if a room is big or small, just that it is designed and furnished proportionately.

Six: Turn it Upside Down

While all of the above points are a fine basis from which to start redecorating your home, the most important thing to remember is that, when it comes to interior design, rules are made to be broken. Only once you have a strong understanding of how a room is supposed to look and feel can you subvert expectations playfully and successfully. Create a contrast in textures to throw off the expected purpose of a room deliberately. Plan a unique layout that has never been tried before. Purposefully furnish a room in such a way that it is disproportionate and messes with your sense of perspective. Interior design is about making your home fulfill its potential. Once you understand the basics, you can go wild.

Trends

7 Ways to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

solar

With climate change forefront of many people’s thoughts, mindful citizens are constantly looking for ways in which they can help ease their carbon footprint and live more sustainably.

One of the many ways this can be done is by curbing energy consumption. Some people may think that an energy efficient house is too expensive to maintain but the reality is that living efficiently does not necessarily mean letting go of the comforts that you’ve become accustomed to, it just means some smart adjustments need to be made.

The largest consumption of household energy is from heating and cooling devices depending on the season. Making slight adjustments to your house can make a big difference in the amount of energy these devices consume.

1. Natural ventilation

Make use of natural breezes by creating airflow with strategically placed windows which will decrease the need to use air conditioners in summer. Invite the outside in, and open up windows while you’re home and let air flow through naturally.

2. Replace old windows and frames

Older windows may be charming and lend itself to a certain aesthetic but if they’re not maintained and rickety, they can be a source of energy loss. By replacing those aluminum frames with vinyl frames and double pane windows you will save a lot of money over time because they seal tighter. A tighter seal will prevent cold or hot air from escaping your home thus resulting in less energy consumption by the heating or cooling system.

3.  Landscaping

Planting trees will not only add curb appeal but it will also help cool your house down in summer and blocks the wind in winter. Trees will provide shade that prevents concrete surfaces from absorbing so much heat. You’ll get less heat coming off of the ground at night and the result is a cooler house that lessens the need for the use of a cooling system.

4. Incorporate Zoning

The smaller the space that needs to be heated or cooled, the less energy is used. Open plan spaces take longer to reach a set temperature, and use more energy than a smaller space that can be closed up. Making zones in the house that can be closed off while using an air conditioner will mean the air heats or cools faster. Make sure that doors and windows are closed and that there aren’t too many cavities where air can slip through.

5. Solar Panels

Solar energy panels may appear to be an expensive option at first glance. But the units are durable and won’t need to be replaced for a long time. You will also be saving more money on electricity bills over time making it a valuable investment.

Solar panels use natural light resources from the sun to create energy. Solar thermal collectors use energy from the sun to heat water in the water heating system. Ultimately, they’re an efficient, money saving option for any household.

6. Energy efficient lighting

Replace light fixtures in the home with energy saving lights. Switch out incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent light bulbs. This is because fluorescent light bulbs use less energy and last longer. You can also use modern dimmers which cut the energy supply on and off rapidly and decreases the amount of energy that reaches the lightbulb. This makes the bulb last longer and cuts down on the amount of energy the light would normally use.

7.  Be Mindful of Energy Usage

A large amount of energy usage can be cut down by just changing certain behaviors and being aware of how much energy we use. Only switch on lights in rooms that are occupied, and remember to switch them off when you leave. Unplug electronic devices that are not being used as they use energy even if they aren’t turned on.

When it is time to replace your appliance, buy ones that have an energy saving label on them. They have been certified to use less energy than older ones you may already have in your home. They may be expensive but you will see the difference when the energy bill comes.

An energy efficient house is not only good for the environment but it’s also easy on your pocket in the long run. You might take on some big expenses to begin with, but in the long run it saves you as well as the environment.

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Trends

10 Simple Ways To Save Water

bathroom

Whilst we’ve all been a little distracted by politics over the past 12 months, one thing that does seem to be on everyone’s lips is the environment-namely, how to protect it with eco-friendly practices.

Sir David Attenborough, the highly-respected naturalist, recently stated that “climate change is our greatest threat” and “could lead to the collapse of civilisation”. Such statements shouldn’t be taken lightly and, over the past 12 months, we have seen a real shift change in attitudes towards single-use plastic packaging.

Another area in which we can all do our bit is conserving water. It’s our most precious natural resource and is in scarce supply around the world. However, with water bills proving expensive for many UK families, you can also save plenty of cash by following some simple tips and tricks.

Limit your flushing

The average person in the UK flushes a toilet around 5 times every day, which, with a population in excess of 60 million, is a heck of a lot of water usage. In many countries, where water is deemed more precious, you’ll often hear the phrase “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.”. And, this is certainly a motto you can live by in your own home.

Fit a modern dual flush toilet

Back in the dim, distant past, some toilets had huge capacity flushes, up to 12 litres, which certainly weren’t efficient in their use of water. Thankfully, modern toilets now, mostly, come with a dual mechanism, which allows you to choose a shorter or longer flush, depending on what is required. When buying a new toilet, look out for WRAS (Water Regulations Advisory Scheme) approval, as this will ensure it is efficient.

Showering instead of bathing

Whilst many of us love a nice hot bath in which to relax and unwind, a shower is a far eco-friendlier option, using around 40% less water. Many of us already choose a shower over a bath, as part of our early morning routine, however, if you really love your bath, try limiting it to just once a week, as a little treat.

Turn off your taps

This is one of those simple home water-saving tips that is incredibly effective. Many of us, absent-mindedly, leave our tap running when brushing teeth, shaving or simply admiring ourselves in the mirror. By being mindful and turning off the tap, we could potentially save up to 350 litres per person per week.

Choose an efficient bath

Most modern baths are made from acrylic, and there’s a good reason for this. As well as costing less to make (keeping prices low), they are also incredibly strong, durable, scratch-resistant and, crucially, keep your bath water warmer for longer. This will help stop you from constantly topping it up with hot water.

Address drips and leaks immediately

With the busy lives we lead, sometimes it can prove difficult fixing those minor faults around the home. However, a dripping tap could be losing you money in the long run, wasting a potential 90 litres per week. A new tap really doesn’t cost a lot and can be fitted in next to no time. Look for quality taps which come with ceramic disc cartridges, as they are more
hardwearing than traditional washers.

Turn the pressure down

Whilst you may enjoy being blasted off your feet by your morning shower, a powerful torrent will use plenty of water. With recent innovations, you can now purchase mixer showers which come with a flow limiter, allowing you to still enjoy a great showering experience, yet using less water. If you are looking to buy an electric shower, look out for models which come
with an eco mode. It essentially does the same thing.

Limit the time in your shower

If you’re buying a new shower, why not consider a digital or smart shower. They may cost a bit more but are designed to use water more efficiently, saving you money in the long run. Many such showers feature a time duration, where the shower will stop after a set number of minutes. This is a great option, especially where your children tend to stay in the shower for what seems like hours!

Use a water butt

If you have a garden and enjoy a spot of gardening, a water butt is a great way to save on money. Collecting rain water, you can use it to fill up a water can, instead of using a hose.

Save in your workplace

Whilst the eco movement can begin at home, it should continue in your workplace too. Why not see how much your business can save on water bills

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Education

How To Reduce Costs By Cutting Power Usage In The Home

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Getting ahead financially is not just about increasing your income. Reducing costs and expenditure also plays a vital part and a good place to get started is reducing your electricity bill.

With our increased use of technology, in kitchen appliances and for our personal use, the average home is increasing their electricity consumption and it’s predicted to increase further, so assessing what and where the power is being used in the home is great place to start – to reduce costs.

Once you know your power usage switching to solar could be a great option to reduce your reliance on the national grid.

To kick start the process of making your home more energy efficient, the first step is to get in a qualified electrician to do a wiring and points health check, especially if you’ve got an older home. Like all things, there are ongoing improvements in electrical wiring and infrastructure and having the latest in your home reducing leaking power and save you money.

Average Electricity Usage

Take a look round your home with the following guide and you’ll be able to start calculating where your electricity is being used and how much you are actually using.

electricity usage

Of course the exact amount of electricity you use will depend on the number of electrical appliances you have and how much they are on.

The above guide will give you some average usage figures but it is a good idea to look at the power label on your appliance. This will confirm how much power your appliance draws. You’ll then be able to calculate how long you have it on and how much electric any specific appliance uses every year.

Electric Saving Tips

You can reduce your electricity usage with some very simple steps:

Turn Lights Off

The most obvious way to save money is not to use an appliance unless you need to. This means turning off lights and other equipment when you are not using it. You may be surprised at how much difference this makes.

Unplug Chargers

A charger that is plugged in but not charging will still draw electricity; this is simply a waste. When you’ve finished charging anything unplug the appliance and the charger. Think, computers, devices like tablets, mobile phones in the bedrooms.

Unplug Appliances

You’ve probably become accustomed to switching your television and other appliances off with a remote. Unfortunately this leaves them in a standby mode where they will still draw power.

Shut them off at the mains, or better still unplug them. This will make a difference to your annual consumption.

Energy Saving Bulbs

A standard light bulb uses 100 watts of power but an LED bulb will draw just 20 or 30 watts while giving you the same level of light. That is a big difference, especially when you multiply it by the number of bulbs in your home. Plus consider solar powered lighting.

Finally as mentioned earlier it is worth considering adding your own solar panels for all power usage. Every bit of electricity your home generates is a reduction in the cost of your energy bill; even if it’s not a reduction in your actual energy usage. Let’s face it with the rise of electric- everything from your garden appliances, and cars, reducing power usage drastically in the future is probably unrealistic but where we get the power from, now that is likely to be more in our control.

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Build

Sustainability: Good for Profits, Good for the Planet

green building

Chances are you have been hearing about green building practices, especially if you’re interested in building new or buying a new home or commercial building. Resource-efficient buildings that save power and have a low environmental impact are more than a trend and there are many ways to build smarter and greener, from wall gardens and green roofs to harnessing solar, water, and wind power.

Sustainable building reduces humankind’s harmful industrial footprint on the planet, which is important, but it also has become big business, proving itself to be profitable. If you want to increase your bottom line, think about the environment and invest in sustainable construction.

Today’s eco-friendly structures are green in more ways than one, and its thanks in part to technology like the use of robots to manage systems like power and water use.

Sustainable Building Movement

The sustainable building movement has been around for over 50 years, yet it really has only recently gained real traction as we struggle to reduce carbon emissions and provide a safer environment for all living matter.

Therefore, reducing pollution and environmental destruction; protecting those who use the buildings, both employees and customers; and using resources such as water and energy sources efficiently drives the movement forward.

Some sub-movements have grown out of this umbrella idea of sustainability, including healthy building, which focuses on the physical and mental well-being of employees. This fits in with the idea of gentler treatment of the planet and all living upon it.

Another category within green construction is natural building, which focuses on reclaiming used natural materials and using new materials that are renewable, recyclable, and minimally processed.

Sustainability for Resiliency

In the aftermath of multiple natural disasters ranging from hurricanes to floods to fires, green building practices are helping real estate developers weave resiliency into building plans. This is true for both structures and overall patterns of urban improvement.

As state and local governments increasingly strengthen regulations and building codes, architects and developers will work together to build cities that can better withstand extreme weather and recover quicker in the aftermath of natural disasters.

Adapting Through Sustainability

Green building certainly helps mitigate extreme elements of climate change by using natural resources and reducing waste and destruction.

The sustainable movement is not a wave of the future. It is here now as the clarion call to adapt is sounded.
Many factors about the corporate world are becoming more fluid, from where employees work to how building spaces are used. These also are powerful examples of direct adaptability in the face of necessity. Reusing and repurposing individual materials as well as spaces within buildings does help the planet, but it also makes good financial sense.

  • Purchases can be reduced, saving money
  • Natural light and energy lessen dependence on electrical grids
  • Fewer long commutes diminish the carbon footprint and help individuals save on fuel costs

Green building is offering up lots of new career opportunities.  It’s an exciting sector, and it’s where new graduates in engineering, construction, and architecture want to be. roof down. Today,  careers in real estate industries like residential development, and the front end occupations like sales, corporate body property management are also winners with the sustainability movement.

A Bright Green Future

While green building can help the planet and all those living on it by reducing the effects of climate change and preserving natural resources, this movement also has become big business, thus showing itself to be sustainable, as well. By improving the bottom line, green and sustainable building will put down firm roots and grow strong.

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Trends

Why a Green Roof? 4 Reasons We’re Seeing an Increase in Green Roof Buildings

green roofing

Heat islands, or the built-up areas in a city, have temperatures that are 1.8 degrees to 5.4 degrees warmer than surrounding rural areas. Temperatures can be as high as 22F higher in these areas.

Heat islands have led to the rise of the green roof, which has been able to reduce cooling costs, air pollution and even gas emissions.

Green roofs are a mitigating strategy to help offset heat islands, and there are several reasons we’re seeing cities incorporate them into their buildings:

1. Energy Cost Reductions

Hot summer months lead to higher cooling costs. Black, tar roofs don’t absorb heat like green roofs do. When green roofs are installed, heat isn’t attracted – it’s absorbed. Research shows that green roofs can reduce energy demands by as much as 75% in the summer.

Energy costs are also reduced in the winter.

2. A Longer Lifespan

Green roofs are able to last twice as long as their traditional roof counterparts. The main reason for the increase in longevity is that the roof protects against extreme heat. Because the roof absorbs the heat, it takes less damage and its lifespan is extended.

For buildings and cities, this can mean a dramatic reduction in future maintenance and replacement costs.

3. Stormwater Runoff

Stormwater runoff flows off faster on hard roofs than it does on green roofs. Non-porous rooftops are responsible for five times the runoff seen in woodland areas. Stormwater runoff, when increased, is responsible for:

  • Sewer overflows
  • Flash flooding

Green roofs will reduce and slow runoff, and this is because green roofs are able to retain 90% of precipitation. Even in the winter months when absorption rates are lower, a green roof will be able to absorb 40% of precipitation.

Stormwater is responsible for more than just flooding.

The ability to reduce stormwater runoff will also reduce pollution in cities.

4. Oxygen Production and the Removal of Air Particulates

Green roofs allow for higher oxygen levels, and the roof also acts as a filter. A green roof will be able to remove air particulates, reducing pollution in cities, too. When air conditioning demand is lowered, as we’ve seen with green roofs, this will also lead to lower levels of pollution.

High air conditioning demands increase air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

But a green roof is able to lower these air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The vegetation removes the greenhouse gases and pollutants through what is called dry deposition.

Green roofs provide an aesthetic benefit, and it also acts as a habitat for animal and plant species. The quality of life is also improved for residents in areas where green roofs are installed. Pollutants and emissions are lower, the air is cleaner and the heat island effect is reduced.

Noise pollution is also lowered thanks to the green roof’s ability to absorb and reduce sounds. The roof will act as a sound insulation layer on buildings, and in bustling cities, this can lead to a rise in overall resident happiness, too.

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Technology

Greener Buildings Made Possible With Robots

robot in building

If you’re a fan of Instagram, or you like to keep your finger on the pulse when it comes to news and technological advances, you may have stumbled across incredible images of living walls and green roofs.

Commercial gardens are commanding more and more attention, and a growing number of businesses and property owners are looking for ways to embrace this innovative trend and make urban spaces greener. One of the most interesting aspects of designing and managing greener buildings is the use of technology, most notably AI.

If you’re interested in urban horticulture, or you’re looking for inspirational ways to go green or to motivate and inspire your team, hopefully, you’ll find this article insightful.

How tech is changing our commercial spaces

Take a look around you when you’re next in the heart of a big city. How much greenery can you see? If the answer is a limited amount, be prepared for the aesthetic to look very different in years to come. Greener buildings are becoming increasingly common, and this is no surprise, as they offer a host of benefits for employers, business owners and the environment as a whole.

As a CEO, you may be inspired by pictures of shops, hotels or office blocks adorned with roof gardens or living walls, but alarm bells might ring. How do you go about managing such a project, and how can you ensure the best results without devoting a huge amount of time, energy, and money to the cause? In anticipation of these questions, innovative solutions and systems have already been identified and implemented.

Automation is an increasingly crucial element of urban space development and maintenance, and it plays an important role in growing a greener built environment. The goal for scientists, engineers, and architects is to conjure up effective, efficient ways of creating and managing greener buildings. One key aspect is to combine robots with plants and flowers, and in some areas, this relationship is already making a positive difference.

You can already see examples of automated technology and robotics in action, with sensors used to detect when plants need watering and robotic lights employed to encourage growth in a certain direction to maximize light exposure. Some buildings are also using smart scaffolding material, which features robots, to provide a structure on which plants can grow and wind. As the plants grow and become stronger and more robust, parts of the scaffolding network are gradually dismantled and removed.

The benefits of green buildings

Studies show that greenery offers a raft of benefits when placed inside commercial and professional spaces, and the advantages of embracing greener living don’t stop here. Research shows that plants used to adorn walls and roofs lower energy usage and regulate temperature in hot spots, while foliage is also proven to boost productivity, reduce air pollution and lower the risk of stress and anxiety. Greener spaces are also proven to be quieter and more tranquil.

Productivity is a key word for any business owner. As an employer, you want to get the best out of your team and encourage every member to do their job to the best of their ability. Research shows that healthier, happier workers are more productive. If you consider that a green building also offers cost benefits and aesthetic advantages, it seems crazy not to consider a greener future.

The strong connection between healthy buildings and employee productivity and wellbeing is affording managers the opportunity to factor in lower levels of employee absence when budgeting, and the green building movement is now a reliable point of reference for those working in property and real estate. Green buildings represent an increasingly attractive and lucrative investment, and with advances in technology, this is a trend that it is only going to become more prominent.

Commercial building owners have the possibility of sealing long-term lease deals from discerning companies through using technology to maintain greener spaces, and more and more businesses will actively seek out opportunities to jump on this bandwagon.

You often read about robots taking over customer service lines or taking on tasks around the home, but have you heard about the budding relationship between robots and plants? Green buildings featuring roof gardens and living walls are becoming increasingly commonplace, and technology plays an integral role in maximising growth and development.

Green buildings aren’t just aesthetically pleasing. They’re also incredibly beneficial for the environment, they contribute to significant cost savings as a result of decreased energy usage, and they are proven to increase productivity, reduce stress and anxiety, and add value.

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