Making Your Kitchen Cosy This Winter

The clocks have gone back, the nights are drawing in and temperatures have definitely dropped. Yes, Winter is almost upon us. Brrrr.

If you’re are planning a new kitchen, then you might well have spent a lot of time pondering the type of bespoke cabinetry you want or worktops, splashback materials and the appliances you and your family will need to keep things running smoothly. You might have even started to think about lighting and wall colours but the one thing that can often make or break the usability of a kitchen – particularly during the winter months – is often not given nearly enough thought.

How you heat your kitchen, whether it’s radiators, a cast-iron range that runs the central heating, or underfloor heating, your choice will have a huge impact not just on how you use your kitchen when it’s complete but also how you design the room from its inception. Kitchens are often the hub of the family home, used for dining, chatting, standing around and drinking coffee, but none of this will happen if the room is cold when the oven is off.

BACK TO BASICS

The key to a heating system that works efficiently is a good boiler. When you’re planning your kitchen design, it might be worth factoring in a new boiler rather than repairing it if yours is more than 15 years old as they’re not nearly as energy efficient as new models. Updating an old system to an A-rated condensing boiler could reward you with a 90% increase in efficiency. Also, replacing a boiler could free up room for more cupboards or worktops and you’ll benefit from instant hot water if you opt for a condensing combi-boiler.

CHOOSING YOUR TYPE

  • Radiators

For many years, central heating systems running a series of radiators have been the heating of choice. But although most homes already have these in place, you can update them from dated 1970s flat panel models to one of the many stunning styles on offer from specialists such as Bisque or Aestus. This can totally update your room, or can tie in with your period features.  For modern kitchens look at ladder-style vertical radiators in sleek white and steel finishes and for classic kitchens pick something a little more period in it’s look like Bisque’s Classic range, which echoes Edwardian shapes.

If you’re particularly eco-minded then aluminium models are a good option, as they heat up and cool down much faster than traditional radiators, which will save both time and energy.

One thing you should do if considering radiators is ensure you have just the right amount to heat the room. There are aplenty of online calculators to help you do this – just pop in the room’s dimensions, the number of windows and the calculator will give you the BTUs or wattage required.  Also look at the size of your rad so it doesn’t swamp your room.

  • Underfloor heating

A great option if your kitchen is being designed from the floor up; underfloor heating gives comfortable radiant heat and can deliver great savings too.

Depending on what type of heating you opt for, it can be used under most types of flooring, including: stone, tile, wood and vinyl. It’s best to check your floor is a suitable match before you go ahead and invest, but a large kitchen with porcelain or ceramic tiles are almost always a perfect fit with underfloor heating.

There are two options, electric and wet systems. Electric flooring is easier to fit, being a network of wire elements on a mesh that is placed below the flooring or wet systems, which use water pipes below the floor. An electric system is easier to lay and can be retro-fitted fairly easily if you’re laying a new floor, just check with your builder first. Wet systems require more work and are better suited to renovations such as new extensions or completely new builds.

One of the biggest benefits of underfloor heating is that you don’t have to give over valuable wall space to radiators, meaning you can often include more cabinets for additional space and bespoke storage solutions. This is great news if you are struggling for space. It is also vital to have your kitchen design finalised before the pipes or matts are laid for the flooring, as it would be an absolute waste to heat built-in cupboards, or under appliances. A floor plan from your expert designer will help any heating engineer advise not only the best pattern to lay the floor in but also where to place the controls on the walls. Using a timed thermostat means that you can set the heating on to warm the room just enough so it’s a little easier to step into your kitchen on a frosty winter morning.

  • Cast-iron ranges

While an ‘always-on’ Aga is often the traditional choice in farmhouse designs and looks very attractive and rustic, it will provide a radiant heat to warm your kitchen on a winter’s morning but it can’t run a central heating system. If you want your heat-store range to do that, then opt for models from Stanley or Rayburn, which can often run up to 20 radiators.

  • Go mobile

Finally, consider investing in an app-controlled heating system such as Hive or Nest so you can switch on your heating, using your phone, wherever and whenever you feel the need with great ease.

Bath or Shower – which do you prefer?

It’s an age old question that can start arguments, divide families, and generally go unanswered. No. I’m not talking about whether tea is better than coffee (it isn’t, even though I love a brew), or whether X Factor can ever be better than Strictly (it can’t). I’m talking about whether a bath is better than a shower.

Shall we consider the evidence?

Showers are Great for Waking you Up

Is there anything better for getting you set up for the day than a shower? Those powerful jets of water are invigorating, exhilarating and refreshing. If you are definitely not a morning person, than a shower can be a great way of saying hello to the morning. However, if your shower is little more than a trickle due to low water pressure, you may need to install a shower pump. Stuart Turner shower pumps can address this problem, which occurs in a surprisingly high number of households, and will ensure that your shower is a refreshing experience.

Baths are so relaxing

In the same way that showers can wake you up, a bath is a perfect way of relaxing and shaking off the day. The fact that you can lie down in warm soapy bubbles, and that you can even buy things like bath pillows means that for many, a bath is the ultimate in relaxation. Add some soothing lavender oil, light some candles, maybe even grab a glass of wine or a book, and you can spend a lot more than 5 minutes unwinding and getting yourself ready for a good night’s sleep.

A shower is more hygienic

Many people argue that a shower is a far cleaner and more hygienic option due to the fact that the dirty water is instantly disappears down the plug hole. Many hate the idea of lying in bath water, arguing that, if you are really dirty, you are instantly dirtying the water and then lying in it – they may well have a point. There is also the fact that exfoliation  and body scrubs are far easier to use efficiently if you are taking a shower.

However…bath oils, salts and bubbles

But, it has to be said, that all the best pampering products, from bath oils, to all those seasonal  Lush bath bombs that everyone loves, can only really be used if you are taking a bath. Powerful jets of water from the power shower may be no comparison to a bath filled with bubbles and sparkle that is just calling for you to get in and enjoy.

A Shower is no mess

You have your shower, and then you switch it off and get out. No hassle, no mess. But consider the bath mentioned above, the one with the Lush bath bombs in it. Yes, glitter and petals look very pretty, but at the end of your bath, when the water has gone, you are left with a mess that you then need to clean, just when you are feeling all sleepy and relaxed.

A bath is better for aches, pains and the common cold

When you are not feeling well, a hot bath can make all the difference. Whether you have added eucalyptus to clear your nose, or arnica that will make aches and pains feel a little better, a bath can be therapeutic as well as relaxing those aching muscles.

So, where do you stand? Bath or shower?

How to transform your child’s room into a princess paradise

Every princess needs a palace, but sometimes they have to just settle for a bedroom. But if your child does have a princess complex, is obsessed with all things Disney, and will frankly wear any shade as long as it is pink, then you might just need to turn that staid bedroom into something resembling a princess paradise. This can be done with a few choice accessories, some savvy furniture ideas and a little bit of imagination.

 

The Bed

A white bedstead works well for a princess bedroom, especially if you are able to use your DIY skills to erect some sort of canopy above the bed that could be topped with a crown or tiara. If (like me as a child) you have two princesses who have to share a room, the good news is that many online companies have a great selection of children’s bunk beds that offer more than just practical design. With white frames, carved headboards and pretty shaped spindles, these beds show that bunk beds do not have to scrimp on the pretty!

A little DIY

The furniture you already have can be revitalised with a touch of paint and some clever stencils. Painting a wardrobe white, and then adding a magic mirror stencil could be a really lovely and special touch, whilst stencils can also be used to create a feature wall, or a princess style border. The great thing is that stencils can be really easy to apply, and they don’t break the bank either.

 

Colour Schemes

Pink is obviously the first colour that comes to mind when it comes to creating an environment fit for a princess, but it doesn’t have to be the only choice. The smash hit film ‘Frozen’ showed that not all princesses wear Pink, making a glamorous icy shade of blue a great choice for an slightly older princess. Belle style yellow can also make a wonderfully sunny run, great for princesses who already have minds of their own.

Accessories

This is where you can really enjoy yourself and let your inner interior designer take over. A  chandelier is the perfect shimmering form of light for a princess bedroom, and makes a perfect statement piece to add to any room. Soft and fluffy cushions, mixed with a few jewelled and sequined ones look lovely scattered on a bed. Anything that screams opulence works well, with velvet being another great fabric to tie in with your design. You can still pick up 1970s style velour bedroom chairs quite cheaply in antique and junk shops and these look great in a princess bedroom. The great news is that, once again, many of the accessories that will work well can be picked up quite cheaply in places like Primark and Wilkinsons. You could also add a few of the ubicquitous Unicorn accessories that seem to be everywhere this Autumn.

With a little bit of work, a small injection of cash and a whole lot of imagination, you can create a room that your princess will be proud to call a Kingdom.