Trendy kitchens and bathrooms – What can they do for you?

The quality of a bathroom/kitchen can increase or decrease the value of a property so it’s essential to keep them up-to-date. They should be a space for relaxation and, for many, unwind after a long day. A potential buyer could easily be put off by a dated bathroom or kitchen as they may see this as an area where they would need to invest extra money in when purchasing a property.

Installing a new bathroom or kitchen is a big commitment. Any design choices will need to be lived with for several years, so it’s important not to be too easily influenced by current trends that can come and go (i.e. 1970s style avocado green bathroom suite). This month’s blog post covers our top tips on how you can improve kitchens and bathrooms with simple, cost-effective changes.

Let’s begin with kitchens…

A pop of colour

Adding a statement pop of colour to your kitchen can help modernise tired paintwork. This adds a sense of personality and character to your kitchen and reflects who you are within your home. Adding a fresh coat of paint to walls is a relatively inexpensive way to transform your kitchen. If you enjoy more intense colours, focus on painting one statement wall and keep the rest of the walls neutral so that the colour does not overpower the room.

Matte black appliances

No matter what colour your kitchen, matte black is a perfect contrast colour for your appliances –  including ovens, kettles, dishwashers and fridges. This helps to add a technological and futuristic feeling for your kitchen and can blend in with most interior design schemes.

Headless ventilation

Headless ventilation is something that many kitchen designers are now implementing into modern homes. It saves drawing unnecessary attention to less attractive features, such as your cooker hoods. It also means you have a much airier and open spaced kitchen.

Clutter-free surfaces

This idea of minimalism is huge in all areas of the house and there is no exception for the kitchen! Take a leaf out of famous tidier, Marie Kondo, who preaches about storage and keeping only what you need. If you have an excessive amount of tabletop appliances then narrow it down – if things such as electrical appliances are old and not working as well as they used to, get rid of them too.

Tons of texture

This is a simple yet highly effective way to keep your kitchen visually pleasing. Having a variety of textures works to add dimension to the room and can include wooden counters, glass splash backs and tile flooring. 

Open-plan living

If you are someone who has watched the show ‘World’s Most Extraordinary Homes’, many modern homes have open-plan kitchens combined with living rooms so that families can enjoy spending more time together in one space. ‘Broken-plan’ layouts are becoming increasingly popular – by adding bookcases, screens or half-walls creates distinct areas within a kitchen for eating/socialising.

Darker floors

Adding darker floor tiles or wooden flooring can create a sleeker and chicer kitchen. Having chestnut or ebony wood floors, or grey/black tiles is the way forward. Marble flooring can add make an impactful statement, however, if marble tiles are out of budget, why not take a look at marble- effect tiles?

 

Next up is bathrooms…

Don’t be tempted to buy a coloured bathroom suite!

Bold coloured bathroom suites might be making a comeback but white bathrooms are truly timeless. If you want to add colour to white bathrooms, they are easily accessorised with towels and blinds that can provide a funky accent colour or can be complimented with patterned tiles and flooring. In contrast to kitchens, choose more angular styled white suites to add a contemporary twist.

Make a big statement in a small space

Bathrooms are often the smallest rooms in a house but that doesn’t mean you can’t be adventurous in your design choices. Using large print wallpaper can create a vibrant wall or utilising a statement mirror can be both practical and add some drama to the space.

 

Go natural

Cold, stone textures and materials have been popular in bathrooms for quite some time but now wood is on its way in. Darker-stained, rustic timber can be used to add a warmer touch to often cold, clinical bathroom designs. There are even wood effect tiles on the market to add a more natural feel without compromising on functionality.

A metallic touch

Forget shiny chrome – think industrial copper or glamorous gold. You may not want to commit to changing your taps to these bold new metallic trends, but you can accessorise your bathroom with gold or copper accents by installing an on-trend light fitting with coordinating metallic framed mirror or shelving unit.

Wet rooms

If you’re planning a complete bathroom renovation, a wet room may be a great option. They are becoming increasingly popular as they offer an easy to maintain bathroom and are a practical alternative to a walk-in shower, offering greater accessibility.

Industrial chic

Industrial chic is an emerging trend. With a more masculine feel, the industrial look consists of bold, straight lines, exposed pipework and black, chunky fixtures and fittings. Simplicity is key with this design and larger, more stylised shower screens hint at influences from Japanese minimalism.

Space saving bathrooms – always on trend

If your bathroom is particularly tiny, there are lots of space saving options available from vanity units with built in storage to slim basins, compact WCs and even tapered bathtubs, perfect for awkward spaces. The use of mirrored tiles can make a small space feel bigger, as can lighter colour palettes and choosing bright lighting. Neutral tiles, around 30-60cm, are ideal for bijou bathrooms, smaller tiles can make a small room look too busy.

 

 

 

 

 

What is a catchment area and why should you consider yours when buying a property?

Relocating to a new town is a big decision, and there are a few factors that you should consider before moving. One of these factors is the school catchment area, especially if you have children or are thinking about having children in the future.

A catchment area can be defined as the geographical area served by a school and it is important to do your research into the schools in the area that you are looking to move to. Both primary and secondary schools should be able to provide information on where their catchment areas are, so you can find out if you’re close enough to be considered for a place.

Milton Keynes is fortunately packed with Infant, Primary, Secondary and Independent schools, meaning that when you are looking for an area to move to, you will probably have a choice of schools to send your child/ren to. In Milton Keynes, we are also very lucky in that we have a various Special Education schools for children with complex needs along with SEN provisions in place at all Primary and Secondary schools.

In light of this, one area within Milton Keynes that is worth mentioning is Bletchley, as it has a large amount of schools within its borders, including Lord Grey Academy, Abbey’s Primary School, Barleyhurst Park Primary School, Romans Field School, MK Prep School, Chestnuts Primary School, St Thomas Aquinas School, Newton Leyes Primary School and Sir Herbert Leon School. Average housing prices in Bletchley are £265,483, which is below the average of £313,587 for a house in Milton Keynes as a whole.

You should also take into consideration a schools Ofsted rating, especially if you would be looking to sell you home later down the line. According to Net House Prices, the average price of a house with an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted school in its catchment area is £331,605. That’s 13.2% higher than the cost of a home near a school with an Ofsted grade of ‘good’. The figures show the average house price increases by a whopping £96,363 if you want to live in an area with an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating compared to one with an Ofsted ‘inadequate.’

As well as considering catchment areas, it is important to consider when in the academic year that you are moving to a new area, most schools will need you to be living at your new address before you apply for your child to attend the school, and although it is possible for your child to move schools midterm, it is recommended that this happens in a half term or, even better, over the summer holidays.

If you are considering relocating to Milton Keynes, click here for more information

Top tips for maintaining your garden this summer

Our gardens are now a true extension of our home and are becoming as important as any other room. Terraces and patios help add extra usable space for al fresco dining, socialising with friends and family or simply enjoying the evening sun with a glass of wine and a good book. With summer in full bloom, it’s time to get out there and enjoy your garden. Here are our top tips for maintaining your garden through the summer so you can make the most of your outdoor space.

Weeding – kill em off!

Weeding is one of those dreaded tasks but if you can keep on top of it, it can help make the task a lot easier. Try to weed kill little and often – look out for signs of new weeds growing and remove them before they grow bigger. Consider using mulching to supress weeds and make life a little easier…

After weeding, carefully sweep away debris and dirt ready for pressure washing. Pressure washers are a fast and effective way to bring back the colour to paving slabs and rejuvenate a dull-looking patio. If you don’t own a pressure washer, a garden broom and soapy water can do the job just as well.

Side note: It is important to choose child and pet-safe weed killers if appropriate.

There’s so mulch you can do!

Using mulch to dress borders and flower beds not only looks smart, but it also reduces weeding, helps retain moisture in the soil in the summer and protects plant roots during the winter. Biodegradable mulches such as wood chippings, compost and leaf-mould release nutrients into the soil as they break down and will need to be replaced as they rot. Non-biodegradable mulches including slate chippings, decorative pebbles and stones do not add anything to the nutrient content of the soil but are a good way of suppressing weeds and help to maintain moisture levels. Non-biodegradable mulches do not need to be replaced on a regular basis as with biodegradable options and can add a polished look to any garden.

Perfecting your patio and driveways

The warmer summer months provide the perfect opportunity to clean up tired-looking patios. Start by pulling up weeds that have surreptitiously grown between slabs and block paving. Be careful to remove the roots to prevent future regrowth. There are several different weed-killing options on the market, from fast-acting sprays to chemical free weed burners. However, the good old-fashioned method of pulling up weeds by hand is eco–friendly, effective and it’s free!

Side note: It is best to treat wooden decking in the spring or autumn to avoid the hot summer sun from drying out the treatment before it is fully absorbed into the wood.

It’s time to cut back

Keeping hedges neat and tidy is vital for a well-maintained garden, making the space look well-cared for and inviting. Cutback excess growth using shears or an electric hedge trimmer, being careful not to disturb nesting birds. Hedges can be pruned to look informal and natural or can be carefully trimmed to look more formal with crisp, sharp edges. Use a green bin to discard of larger, thicker hedge trimmings, smaller cuttings can be added to the compost heap, if you have one.

Side note: Conifer clippings release tannins which can harm other plants. Any excess clippings must be composted on their own for at least 3 months

The grass really can be greener

During the summer months, lawn mower blades should be set a little higher than during the rest of the year. Try to keep the height of your grass at around 5cm as this prevents the soil beneath becoming scorched thus stunting future growth. It’s easy to forget to water grass but aim for once a week if you can (your lawn will really thank you for it!). For an extra special touch, you could even add some stripes for that Wimbledon feel! Strawberries and cream anyone?

Keepin’ it cool

As important as it is to keep yourself cool in the summer, the same goes for your garden. By keeping your garden cool it helps to keep your soil fertilised, which allows garden insects such as worms and ladybirds to survive and your plants to grow.

A way to do this is to invest in an irrigation system. An irrigation system not only keep your garden cool, but it is time efficient and uses water more efficiency than a traditional hose. Water timers and mini sprinklers are also good alternatives to irrigation systems as they help to keep grass and plants hydrated.

The best time for watering your garden is in the early morning or later in the evening as this avoids evaporation and allows more of the water to be absorbed into the soil. When watering, it is best to dampen the soil, concentrating on the root point rather than the leaves, as this can result in leaf-mould diseases. It is best to water flower beds only once or twice a week but do ensure that you are watering sufficiently without waterlogging the soil. Installing a water butt is a great way to save money on your water bills and it’s much better for the environment, using a watering can instead of a hose is also a good way to keep costs down.

Even if you are renting a property, water systems are a good investment as it saves time in watering an entire garden manually and is good gardening practice for when you own a property.

Plants, plants, plants:

Plants are the aesthetics of your garden. It is important to choose plants dependent on different conditions, such as weather, season, soil condition etc. and consider this when buying plants because they have to be able to survive where and when you plant them. During summer, choose plants that require little moisture and little shade as they are often easier to maintain. Your local garden centre will be able to offer advice on what plants to buy. If you are not a homeowner, you can still invest wisely on plants. Hanging plant decorations and balcony plants are a great way to add greenery to smaller garden spaces and are more versatile if you choose to move to a new property. You can also plant this in your front garden to make your house look pretty!

The birds and the bees… and everything else:

If you are investing time and effort in maintaining your garden, it is also important to consider making your garden more wildlife friendly. Adding bird feeders to trees and bushes will help to entice the birds to your garden. Not only are they beautiful to watch, but they also help remove pests and other critters within your garden. You can also make your garden friendly for bees by planting wildflowers to attract them and help spread pollen. They also provide nectar which is important for food pollination as they offer a source of food for birds. Why not consider planting nectar-rich plants like salvia and lavender. Buying or making little homes such as bird houses and bee hotels help to allow birds and bees and to repopulate and allows for general shelter throughout the colder seasons.

Finally…

Enjoy your garden! After all the hard work, make sure you take the time to sit down and admire your beautifully maintained outdoor space this summer. Whether you are renting a property, or you own your home, you have the guidance right here to make sure your home is loved and cared for this summer.

Smart investments to keep your home a safe one.

Limestone Sales & Lettings Office Manager Paul Neale gives his top tips for looking after your home and keeping it safe.

Owning a house and making it a home is one of the greatest achievements in life. It is important that you know how to keep your home safe and there are smart investments you can make to help achieve this. Some of these investments may also make your home more appealing to potential buyers in the future.

Digital home monitoring

A remote home monitoring system is usually controlled by an app, in which you can place small cameras around your home to view both the inside and outside of your property via your phone and can be used for everyday use, such as watching your pets or checking the kids while you’re out. If motion is detected whilst you are away from home, you’ll be sent a notification to your phone so you can watch the activity in your home, sound an alarm or call the police. You can also place detectors on doors and windows which can detect when they are being broken into.

Smart doorbells

Smart doorbells help you to see who is at your front door before allowing visitors access to you home. These doorbells are particularly useful for pre-screening unwanted cold-callers or monitoring the whereabouts of parcels. Many of these smart doorbells you can connect to an app on your smart phone to view camera footage and will get a notification if you have a visitor at your door and for other things, such as when the post arrives.

Remote Garage door opener

This gives you the power to open your garage from wherever you are. Therefore, if you have a trusty friend popping over to check the house then you can grant them access to your home via the garage with a click of a button. On the other hand, if you were to have an intruder (most commonly homes are burgled through the garage) then you would receive a notification immediately.

Security gate

There are a variety of gates that you can use to protect your home, including Aluminum double swing gates, manual gates and wireless gates. These can be fitted near the front of your home or around it. You will also be able to use it every day to let visitors in and out of your property. With this system becoming more and more affordable, protecting your property through secure gates is becoming much more accessible. 

Access code home lock

Do you often lose your house keys? An access code home lock allows you to enter your property using a PIN code. This device rather than using keys. This means that the door is much more advanced and is a good preventative measure for house intruders as it removes the risk of traditional locks being snapped or forced open. This can also be used as a great safeguarding device for the elderly as relatives can access the home using a key code instead of having multiple sets of keys.

LED home lighting

When in doubt, trick ‘em out. By using remote LED lighting, you can schedule times for your lights to go on and off within your home while you’re away, to give the impression that someone is home. This is also a great tool to use day-to-day (e.g. If you want to monitor the lights on behalf of an elderly family member).

From smart doorbells to LED lights, all of these things will help you have a safe and secure home. However, not all security has to be smart. For official guidance, Thames Valley Police have their very own top tips regarding how to maintain your garden, windows, doors etc. to help prevent crime. You can find out more here: https://www.thamesvalley.police.uk/cp/crime-prevention/residential-burglary/

For more tips like these and to get the best price for your property, contact the team on 01908 234 111 or email us at info@limestonemk.co.uk

10 ways to make your property more appealing and increase value at the same time

Limestone Sales & Lettings Office Manager Paul Neale shares his top tips for selling your property.

1. Boost kerb appeal

My granny always said, “you can tell a lot about a woman’s housekeeping skills by her doorstep”. First impressions really do count, so give your front door a spruce up and clear away any garden items which draw the eye away from the home’s central features. Also, dispose any litter and rubbish in front of your house. It doesn’t matter that you didn’t put it there, if It’s in front of your home it’s making it look dirty – so get rid of it quickly!

2. Spice up the kitchen

A new kitchen can cost thousands of pounds but replacing worktops and taps may be worthwhile. The kitchen is a home’s focal point and is often a deal-breaker. Replacing even small items can turn an old kitchen into a contemporary space. Keep it clean too, limescale and grease are always off putting.

3. Period features

If you live in a Victorian home, for example, try to make sure that skirting boards, architraves and doors fit in with the era. If you have a little cash to spend, consider restoring or installing coving, picture rails or period fireplaces. It won’t cost the earth and buyers will often pay more for a home with period features, so if you have them and you like them DO NOT rip them out!

4. Get gardening

Yank out those weeds, hack back your hedges and get the lawn cut. Sorting out outdoors is a vital part of giving your house overall appeal. Little pots of evergreen heather, under a fiver, placed by the front door look welcoming. Caring for your garden shows that you care about the home and have maintained it well.

5. A fresh lick of paint

Transforming a home from drab to fab needn’t cost too much time or money, just the price of sandpaper, paint, brushes and rollers. Redecorating can make a property look brand new and present more of a blank canvas to buyers. But do keep an eye on the quality of finish. A dodgy paint job can be almost as off-putting as scuffed, discoloured walls. Also think carefully about colour schemes and remember that a neutral palette is often the safest option.

6. Keep it clean

Dust, cobwebs and grime all suggest a home isn’t cared for – so make sure the place is spotless. After all, what’s the point in having new paint­work, flooring and carefully placed furniture if it all looks a bit grubby? Remember to clean windows and sills too.

7. Sort out that bathroom

Nobody was ever won over by a mouldy bathroom and in our experience, we have found that a dirty bathroom is one of the biggest turn offs for buyers. So get your rubber gloves on, grab some thick bleach and start scrubbing those tiles, grouting and silicon. Also consider replacing out of date items like the soap dish, toothbrush holder and taps.

8. Declutter

Trash those chintzy trinkets and think minimal. Getting rid of excess clutter adds to the sense of space and never detracts from the look of a home. It also lets a potential buyer imagine their own belongings in place. Get some bin bags and start clearing out. Focus on the hall first because it’s the first thing potential buyers will see. Stinky trainers and muddy boots are a no go!

9. Dress to impress

Remind buyers they are in a home and not a showroom by keeping a few objects, pictures and neutral ornaments (vase, fruit bowl or a couple of cushions) visible.  New towels in the bathroom and a few candles will also help. Key pieces of furniture give pointers to what a room can be and help define the space. Dress the place sparingly but cleverly and this might just make the difference between getting the asking price or a much reduced offer.

10. Flooring

Mouldy carpets and badly fitted laminate are eyesores which can knock hundreds or thousands of pounds off an offer. If you keep an awful floor the buyer will tot up how much money it will cost to replace it, so do it yourself at a fraction of the price. A deep-clean may be all it needs – or if your floorboards are in a decent state strip them back and varnish them.

For more tips like these and to get the best price for your property, contact the team on 01908 234 111 or email us at info@limestonemk.co.uk