How To Save Money When Renovating Your Home


Changing things around your home is something that many people may decide to do at some point, whether this is when moving in or after a few years of being there. When myself and fiancée bought our house back in June 2018, we moved into the property and knew that there were a number of things that we either wanted to change or that needed replacing. We learnt a lot of things when renovating our house and turning it into the home it now is. This post contains some advice about how we saved money while going through the process.

Get A Range Of Quotes For Work

There will be some jobs that you can't always do yourself and you'll need a skilled tradesperson, such as an electrician or plumber. Asking friends and family for recommendations of who they have used before can be a really good way to find reliable and reasonably priced people. We found tradespeople this way and they did a great job without costing us the earth. If you aren't able to find someone through recommendations, be sure to get prices from a few different companies. Don't just get one get one quote and assume that's just how much it will cost. You can often get the same work done but you could be paying hundreds of pounds more for one company compared to another. Try to find reviews online by other customers to make sure they sound reputable and others are happy with the work that has been done to be sure they aren't cheap for the wrong reasons.

Do The Flooring Yourself

As the flooring in your house covers such a large area, you might be put off by the potential costs of redoing this. When we got into our house we knew that the carpet in the living room and all three bedrooms were in serious need of replacement so we started to price up the options. After purchasing laminate to replace the carpet in all four rooms, we looked at the cost of getting someone in to do it and felt we would be better spending that money elsewhere so chose to install it ourselves. Taking up the old carpet was fairly easy, all you should need is a Stanley knife to cut the carpet into strips so that you can easily take it out, a pair of pliers to pull out any staples used to secure the carpet underlay and a chisel or screwdriver to pull up any carpet grippers. After securing any loose floorboards, laying the laminate and cutting to size is a relatively simple process to follow and once you have laid a few rows you'll soon get into a routine.

Upgrading Your Kitchen On A Budget

You might think that redoing your kitchen is going to cost thousands and you'd have to get it completely gutted and redone, which is the same thought we had initially. As we didn't have this kind of money to get the kitchen refitted, we decided to look at other options and came up with a few areas to upgrade. We redecorated all of the kitchen units from a drab green to a dark grey which only cost £25 for a tub of cupboard paint from B&Q. This made such a difference and immediately changed the look of the whole room. We then removed the old worktops, bought new ones online, cut them to size ourselves and fitted them in place, along with a new kitchen sink, which wasn't as hard as it may sound. The old black tiles were removed and we re-tiled the wall around the worktops and the splashback area above the cooker with white subway tiles which made a great improvement. To finish off the kitchen, we added some white lino tiles that could be stuck on top of the older lino which really brightened the room up and made it feel bigger. This flooring may not stay forever but for £30 it gave a budget-friendly option to improve the overall appearance. You might not want to do all of the things I've described but each one could make a noticeable improvement to your kitchen.

Shop Around

There is often a lot of things you need to buy for your home and it can soon start to total up. Taking the time to look at a range of shops for items could end up saving you a lot of money. If you haven't been to IKEA then it's well worth a trip as they have pretty much everything you could think of at different price points. Homesense is another favourite home store due to their collection of unique products. The prices can vary greatly due to the type of products they stock, but you can also get some bargains, such as a dressing table stool that we picked up for only £23. Another option if you are in need of some furniture but are on a tight budget, you can often find a lot in charity shops. Even if this would be used for a few months, the prices will be much lower than a new item from a store. Discount retailers such as B&M have a surprising amount of home items including cushions, decorative pieces, large mirrors, bathroom bits plus even more.

Be Savvy When Buying Items

You might have decided where you want to purchase your home items but it's worth being clever with when you buy them. There are numerous sales throughout the year where you could get money off such as Christmas, Black Friday and end of season sales to name a few. Keep checking back and keep an eye out for these sales to save yourself some money. Websites such as Vouchercloud and Money Saving Expert can give you discounts to use, which can also be obtained if you sign up for company newsletters, so it's worth doing this before rushing into buying.

Upcycling Furniture

There are certain items of furniture that you may love but are a bit pricey. When you have been redoing your home you may end up having to make a choice between purchases due to budget constraints but there could be another option. When doing our house, we upcycled a few things that let us have the furniture we wanted without having to spend a lot of money. The wooden unit you can see in the photo above was created from a basic white Kallax unit from IKEA. We added wooden doors and top to it and then fitted door handles and feet. This completely transformed the look of the unit and cost a considerable amount less than if we had bought something similar. Other items we DIY'ed were two sets of metal and glass shelving units. We bought these from IKEA but they came in black metal. A couple of cans of gold spray paint later and these units looked amazing and significantly more expensive than they actually cost us.

There are a number of different options in this post that could help you save money when renovating your home. They won't all necessarily apply to your situation but could help with bringing down the costs when making improvements in your home. If you feel like any of the DIY related improvements seem a little daunting, then it's worth checking out the YouTube tutorials from Wickes and B&Q as they cover a range of tasks, and they came in very useful when we were learning how to do things.


What I'd Like To Achieve In 2019


The new year is a good opportunity to look ahead and set out some things to achieve. I've been using the time over Christmas to think through what I'd like to work on this year and give myself areas to focus on. I don't want to think of these as targets that I have to achieve, but more things to aim for throughout 2019.

Consistency With Posting

2018 was quite busy for me and I hadn't predicted that it would be that way at the beginning of last year. There have been a few events including buying a house and booking our wedding that has taken quite a bit of time up, which I wrote about in my life update post. Every time I wrote another blog post I felt really motivated to carry on. I've had a bunch of ideas ready to be turned into posts and would start to work through these but then other things took priority. One of the things I want to do this year is to get back into the habit of blogging and make sure I give myself the time to write. I'm not going to set myself a specific number of posts to write, but I want to publish on a much more regular basis.

Post On Instagram More

I've got quite a few photos sat ready and waiting on my camera roll that I can put on Instagram so need to stop forgetting and just get them posted. Like most people, I carry my phone with me everywhere and the iPhone camera can produce some amazing shots so I need to start making use of this and snapping shots when I'm out and about. I also like taking photos with my GoPro due to its unique image perspective so I'm planning to throw it in the car when I head out so that I can capture some different photos to use for insta.

Be More Active On Social

I seem to have odd days where I'll tweet and interact with people and aim to keep this up and then I tended to completely forget the next day. To be more active on Twitter it can be an easy win as engaging on this platform is easy to do and doesn't take much time, I just want to do this much more regularly than I have done in the past. When I first got into Pinterest I used to love creating boards and finding pins to add to them. I could sit for ages finding images I liked and expanding my boards. I want to get back to this as I find it enjoyable, and I also have a board on there specifically for pinning my blog posts to so it's another platform to promote my content on.

Try Out New Blog Posts

I've done a few different types of posts over the past few years and have been happy with what I've been producing. I'd like to start to expand what I write about including writing about more of the things that I'm already doing, whether this is reviewing a restaurant I've been to or writing advice posts on the things that I've experienced that would be useful to help others in a similar position.

To sum up, I'm ready to get back into the swing of things with all things related to my blog. My main focus is to get back into the habit of writing as part of my week, as I have post ideas ready and waiting to be written. By setting out what I'd like to achieve this year and writing it down, I feel it has made it clearer on what I need to work towards. Now to go and make it happen.


A Life Update


It's been a few months since I last posted on the blog as I've been really busy with other things so have struggled to put the time into blogging. Now things have settled down a little I thought it would be a good time to write a little update about what's been going on in the last 6 months. 

Since the start of the year, myself and Laura have been looking at buying a house together. For a while, we cycled round a number of different options, from new builds to older houses that ranged in size and location. Fast forward to the middle of June and we had received the keys to our very own first home. We bought a 3-bed semi detached house in Liverpool and are really happy with our choice. After having a proper look round the house, we came up with a list of things we wanted to do to get it how we'd like it. It started out with a bit of decorating and ended up turning into a renovation project which has kept us busy. The jobs ranged from upgrading the kitchen, fitting laminate flooring in four rooms, repainting the entire house plus DIYing a number of items of furniture. The house is pretty much there now and we're happy with what we have achieved since June, having done jobs that we never thought we'd be able to and learning plenty of new skills.

As well as making the new house a home, it's been a busy time for planning things for the wedding. After Laura and I got engaged last December we've been going through ideas for what we'd like and potential locations and dates for the big day. Having been to a couple of big wedding shows recently, we've started to work through a number of venues to create a shortlist and are pleased to have finally booked our venue for 2020. I knew wedding planning would take time but definitely underestimated how long this would actually be. There's obviously plenty more things to sort but we now have the venue and photographers confirmed which is a big relief.

So that's what's been keeping me occupied over the past 6 months and is the reason it's been quiet on here. Going forward I'm intending to get back on top of blogging and I'm feeling motivated to start posting regularly and producing content again so there is more to come. 


Achieving The Grooming Style That's Right For You


Many of us have busy lives so our time is precious, which means we need to prioritise what's essential is our everyday routines. Male grooming has become an important part of the morning and having the correct items to do this with is key. When I was younger I didn't tend to care much about my appearance and couldn't really be bothered to do anything extra in the mornings when getting ready. Even trying to do something with my hair felt like too much effort so it just ended up with a quick pat dry after a shower and left to dry off. One of the main reasons for this is that I felt it would take far too long and I was much more bothered about having an extra bit of time in bed. In recent years I've realised that it doesn't take as long as I thought to achieve the look and style you want. I've started to have more interest in grooming and putting some care into my appearance. Now that I'm in a more formal job I feel that I want to look and feel smart. For me, it's not just about putting my shirt and tie on, it's about getting myself ready so that my overall appearance looks tip-top, particularly for those times when I have an important presentation or event.

Having a grooming routine might seem time-consuming, but if you have the right tools it can be a lot quicker than you think. Look at Rio Ferdinand in the video below, he has a big game of footy coming up, yet by using his Panasonic Grooming Trimmer, he still has the time to ensure he's looking his best before the match. For those of you who like to sport a well-groomed beard, or even if you haven't thought about growing a beard as you were put off by the upkeep, using one of Panasonic's products could make your life so much easier to get the look you want. Whatever hobbies or job you have, being able to look your best can really make you feel much more positively about yourself. Picking the correct device to use can make all the difference to ensure you achieve the style you want, with Panasonic having loads of grooming shavers to help you do just that. Check out the video below to see how Rio ensures he's looking sharp and will stand out with his own style.




*This is a sponsored post with Panasonic.

TV Shows I've Lost Interest In


When it comes to watching TV I'm much more into my series than just sticking something random on. I've watched numerous shows, whether this was on a weekly basis as the episodes were released or binge-watching a series on Netflix. Some of the shows I've watched have lost my interest for some reason or another which is a shame as I really enjoyed them to start with. 

The Walking Dead

Like many people, I was watching this religiously and was hooked from one week to the next. I feel that when it got to season 7 when two of the main characters are killed it started to go downhill from there. The rest of the season just seemed to be a bit slow and there were chances when it could have been really good and they just missed these opportunities. It revolved around getting revenge on a rival group and their leader yet every time there was a chance to take him out there was always some reason that it didn't happen and it just dragged on for far too long.

Ozark

This is one of the shows that I may go back to but it wasn't gripping me enough each episode. The story involves a financial planner money laundering for a drug cartel which leaves his family in danger, but you don't always feel this level of threat which is what was keeping me interested due to wondering what would happen next. I do think that this has potential and may turn out to be really good I just need to get back into it and be intrigued enough by it to start watching again.

Bates Motel

Getting the story from Psycho this had plenty of potential to be a great show. You always know there is something slightly off about the son and as it develops it evolves into even more strange behaviour. I did enjoy watching it as it escalated and you started to switch between who you were rooting for, yet after a while, I just felt like it was annoying me as it lost its way and that's when I stopped watching it. 

Prison Break

I've included this one on the list due to its recent revival years after it originally ended. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved the first four seasons of this which were first aired between 2005 and 2009. Eight years later in 2017, they released the fifth season to try and carry it on, yet I had no interest in watching this. I felt that they ended the fourth season really well and any attempt to carry it on would ruin it and could turn into one of those shows that starts to decline and becomes known for being dragged on for too long.

Better Call Saul

This came from the hit show Breaking Bad, where Saul Goodman was the attorney for the big time drug dealer Walter White. Before Saul was this high-flyer, he was a small-time attorney for low-income clients and the show follows his progress and how he worked his way up. At first, I felt like this would be a great one to watch yet it just didn't seem to live up to my expectations. I felt it was just a bit too slow and didn't keep my interest, which may have partly been because I was so used to the excitement of Breaking Bad that this just couldn't compete.

Suits

Something that's a bit different to other shows I've watched is a legal drama about a college dropout who gets hired by a big-time corporate lawyer in an unconventional move. I was really into watching it for the first few seasons but then I became a little disinterested in the storyline. There are new seasons coming out and I have heard others still being into it so it may be one that I pick back up one day. 

American Horror Story

If you've ever seen this you'll know that it's a very weird and slightly disturbing show that explores the hauntings and goings-on in different places. Each series is concentrated on different characters and locations, from an insane asylum to a witch coven. Even though they were unsettling to watch, there was something that kept you going back for more. I think it just became a bit too odd and lost its way with the overall storyline so was no longer enjoyable.


Games I've Been Playing In The Last 6 Months


Wolfenstein: The Old Blood (PS4)

Based in 1946 when the Nazis are close to winning WW2, the character B. J. Blazkowicz is attempting to overturn their rule and heading deep into Bavaria. The first part involves Blazkowicz being up against a psychotic prison warden to retrieve the death camp coordinates, with the second part taking him to the city of Wulfburg where he finds an obsessed Nazi archaeologist attempting to release evil power. I found this game really interesting as the storyline gets you intrigued as to what happened in the past and see the balance between truth and fiction as to what they used to shape the storyline. Playing this game shows what could have happened in an alternate reality as part of the Nazi regime and you also get to use some pretty interesting weapons throughout the game. 

Assassins Creed: Black Flag (PS3)

I started playing this a while ago and have been dipping in and out of it for a few months. This whole game revolves around the lives of pirates with an infinite amount of pirate activities that you can get involved with. The game starts in 1715 when pirates threatened the powers in Europe and began to rule the land and sea. It moves into the times where you will captain your own ship and meet legendary pirates such as Blackbeard. The last part involves meeting some fearsome pirates as well as a ruthless pirate hunter. When I first began the game I was really enjoying it as it was something a little different to previous games in the series, partly due to its expansive world which made it the 'largest and most immersive game in the franchise'. There are so many different things to do and you can sail to numerous islands, although I did find myself getting a little bored sometimes as this became quite time-consuming and tedious. 

Sniper Elite 4 (PS4)

Although there have been previous games in this series, it's the first one I've played. It's set during World War Two and follows the elite sniper and covert agent Karl Fairburne. He's fighting with the Italian Resistance to try and free the country from Fascism and stop the threat that may prevent the Allied comeback. I'd never thought about sniper games previously as I always thought they would be a bit boring, however, this definitely wasn't the case with this game. There's a variety of missions and scenarios to play as you work through the storyline. I found myself striving to get the most perfect sniper kill to try and get the best score, although I found it fun to play around with the other weaponry to mix it up a little. 

Hitman: The Complete First Season (PS4)

This game sees you play the role of Agent 47 which takes you on assignments to take out a number of high profile and powerful people. You can choose who you want to take out, how you kill them and at which point. The missions will take place in different countries such as Japan and Paris. One of the things I love about this game is that it reacts to every move you make which means every time you play a mission, you can end up with a different outcome. It's so responsive and means you have to plan out your kills and be patient to achieve success. Having different weapons to use gives you the freedom to choose your method of assassination and it can get quite intense as you sneak around, disguise yourself and execute your targets.

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (PS4)

I first started playing the Uncharted games over a year ago and have played the remastered versions of the first three and then did number four. More recently I've been into The Lost Legacy which is currently the newest one in the series. The story follows Chloe Frazer who has appeared in previous games in the series, who takes on the help of a mercenary Nadine Ross. They head to India to try and recover an ancient artefact to prevent it getting into the wrong hands. I love the adventure that comes with the Uncharted games as there is so much exploring to do and this game takes you through some spectacular scenery and challenging missions.


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