Friday, 28 August 2015

Living Room Redesign

With the day that Eli starts school looming ever closer, I have been taking a look around our home and considering that many of the things which are currently present, taking up space, will no longer be required (pass the box of tissues please...)

Without a doubt we have moved away from ‘baby, toddler and preschool’ and that means the possibility of a lounge which isn’t overflowing with baskets and boxes of brightly coloured toys which annoyingly switch on and scare the living daylights out of you every time you cross the room is a real tangible possibility.

It doesn’t take much prompting for me to decide to redesign a room but this has given me the push I need to start thinking about how we could reclaim some of our living room space and make it more suitable for us, and less for the kids.  They have plenty of space to store their toys in their room and whilst I am not suggesting a complete toy ban, it would be nice to be able to put a decorative candle or two out instead of the dismantled pieces of the latest Lego model.

I absolutely adore the current colour scheme of greys and yellows which seem to be around.  I think if you’ve read my blog before you will no doubt know that grey is my absolute favourite colour but I’ve never yet really managed to incorporate it into any of the rooms in our house.  So this might be a fun challenge.

 Leivars /Homify

These knitted pouffes look fantastic, I’d love something similar to this.

That said, I think there are some key elements you need to bear in mind when designing a living room space and I will try to keep these in mind over the coming months:-

Prestigious Textiles / Homify

Choose your colour scheme carefully
Colours can have such a huge impact on your mood, especially in a room where you are likely to spend a large percentage of your time.  Colours can lift a mood, or bring it down; they can energise or relax and so on.  Choose a soft colours such as blue and white can make your living room a calm, cool space which is ideal for unwinding after a hard day at work.

Alba Najera / Homify

Give your room a focal point
...and one that isn’t the television!  Although many of us parents like to unwind in front of the television of an evening, a great living space should be about so much more than that.  A detailed fireplace, an attractive mirror or some great artwork can all be great focal points for a room as well as being a good talking point for guests as well.

Arrange furniture to be inviting
Similar to the point above, although we can often spend evening sprawled out in front of the television, this isn’t the only purpose for a living room so make sure you don’t have all your chairs angled towards your big screen and away from each other.  Living rooms are natural gathering places for people, so make them work to invite people to sit and engage with one another.

Home Staging Factory / Homify

Get the lighting right
Poor lighting can have such an impact on the way a room is presented, whether it’s too harsh or too soft.  Many a beautifully decorated room has been ruined by a failure to invest in decent lighting.  The majority of people will want to create a relaxed and ambient environment so aim for lighting with layers; lamps and wall lights all have their part to play.

Have you got any top tips on how to create the ideal living space?

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Managing Your Money Over Summer

I don't know about anybody else but I am feeling pretty poor right now.  Days out, new uniform, kids eating me out of house and home...whereas I would usually spend very little month to month on 'extras' this summer has possibly been the worst. 

Perhaps it is because we now have to pay for Eli to get into the majority of attractions whereas last year we didn't, or perhaps the kids have just needed to get 'out' more but whatever the reason, I have certainly realised that we will need to be more prepared next year to survive the summer holidays financially.

So here are my top tips for things I have learned about how to manage money over the summer, and things I will definitely be putting into practice this time next year.  And probably over half terms and the Easter break as well!

1. Plan, plan and then plan some more
I fell foul of this in a major way this summer and just didn't plan ahead.  Last year I had a colour-coded spreadsheet with ideas for free days out, paid days out and other fantastic ways to keep us all occupied.  I didn't stick to it but having the plan in place meant less last minute decisions which often prove to be the most costly.  Knowing in advance the things you might want to do, how much they are going to cost and whether you can afford them or not is always going to be more beneficial for your overall finances then doing things on the fly.  It could even be useful to sit down some months in advance and give your finances the once-over i.e. checking your credit score, where you are at with ongoing bills etc. 

2. Have a budget
We are huge fans of budgets and have one for each month, often several months in advance.  We can be quite cavalier with our spending if we don't take the time to watch and justify where our money has gone and having a budget is a great way to do this.  It's also useful to see how much spare money you have going in and out and what you can afford to put towards big events like holidays and Christmas and so on.

3. Start saving
Whilst I wouldn't say start saving now for next summer, I do think it's never too early, especially if your finances are tight and big expenses need to be carefully factored in.  Again with checking credit scores and working out budgets, you can see exactly how much money you could potentially save towards the things you want to do.  Click here to check your credit score now if this is something which would be of interest to you.

4. Keep your eyes open for bargains
A bit like shopping for Christmas (there's that C word again!), there's nothing wrong with grabbing bargains when you see them.  I noticed an increase in the number of emails from voucher and money saving websites in the run up to the holidays offering discounts on local days out and experiences.  In fact I bought one today!  A bit late to the party but still...perhaps keep your eyes open for discounts and vouchers as the holidays get closer.

5. Don't feel the pressure
I asked Meg and Eli today what the best part of their holiday had been so far...aside from their actual holiday in France they both said spending time with other words, something which was completely free!  I think as parents we can feel the pressure to spend lots of money on fun days out for our children when actually, they aren't necessarily the things which stick in our children's minds.  Next year I will definitely be working on a 'once a week' in only once a week will I pay to do something whether that is soft play or a trip to a local farm.  Whilst they are great and do often wear the kids out, so do plenty of free attractions and it's worth making a note of what is happening in your area and taking advantage.

What are your money saving tips?

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post.