What Makes a Home?

We all have to have a roof over our heads don’t we? Most of us are lucky that we have, but is it a house or a home?

A house provides shelter for us and our family but a home provides much more. Walking towards your house/home after working all day, is it an attractive prospect or is it just somewhere to get out of the rain and sit down? The reason I ask is that so often you get the wrong advice usually from people who benefit out of it.

I have recently moved to Swansea where there are some lovely little terraced cottages – my wife and I have bought one – with stone walls, a slated roof (someone was given bad advice and put tiles on ours!), chimneys, timber sash and casement windows, flagstone path, good quality timber door, etc., etc. But I see whole rows which have been covered in beige cement roughcast, whole streets of them, all the same.

Hardly any chimneys remain in some streets with uPVC windows and doors, concrete paths, totally devoid of their original character. A terrace near to us was stripped of its old cement render and the stonework exposed. I had high hopes of it being repointed in lime mortar and shining but, no, beige cement roughcast accompanied the uPVC windows and removal of the chimney stack so we now have a faceless roughcast box in its place.

Why does this happen?

I suppose that it’s partly an effort to modernise but does that mean that the original fabric should be forgotten or hidden as if it’s something to be ashamed of?

Original/traditional features like timber windows or chimneys are in poor condition. MAINTENANCE SAVES MONEY. It seems that very few of you can be bothered decorating your windows or doors and would rather lose that part of your homes history and character by replacing these troublesome features with plastic, which, I must add, also need replaced after about 10 years. The wooden windows you just got rid of probably lasted for the previous 100 or more… So, would it have been worth decorating or repairing them? Everything can be repaired. Chimneys may no longer be used. IF they are repaired correctly there is no reason they will give you any problems for decades or longer and it helps prevent your home from becoming just a house.

You are asking the wrong question of the wrong person. I have mentioned this before but, if you ask a double glazing salesman if you need windows – guess the answer. If you ask a builder if you need building work done, he’ll no doubt find some like removing your chimney or covering your stonework up with beige cement roughcast from the apparently never-ending supply.

The lack of importance of traditional/original features in the community. What sets out an historic town centre from a modern one, how do peoples feelings change towards them? Do you enjoy trips to an historic town with different shops and building styles or prefer 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s flat-roofed or concrete slab-fronted buildings with no soul? You probably are mixed but aesthetically, the craftsmanship of the old must win out.

The local authority has some responsibility for this by allowing or not preventing these changes. And it’s not just the aesthetic and historic value, these features have an intrinsic value and usefulness. Chimneys, even if there isn’t a useable fireplace, can provide ventilation. This is vital for human health, reduces condensation and the risk of some chest complaints, improves air quality and the movement of air in the chimney will help keep it dry.

Sash and casement windows are known as being draughty but this again is good for you and your home, maybe no so good for your heating bills though. Maybe you should expect to be wearing a jumper indoors in the winter and not flip-flops and shorts like my son used to. Old windows can be draught-proofed and double glazed units can be fitted to the same frames however double-glazing salesmen are NEVER going to offer you that option.

If you have a limited budget, as most of us have, it is cheaper to refurbish, repair, mend, decorate, fix, etc., than it is to replace, short and long-term. There is as much value and a great deal more social history in your terraced cottage than there is in the Colosseum or Buckingham Palace so, how about taking some free advice and please consider the consequences of removing something that helps make your house into a home. Or even calling for some advice or to discuss a survey.

5 Ideas for Building a Killer Outdoor Kitchen

An outdoor kitchen is the ultimate dream for a lot of people who enjoy backyard entertaining. Imagine gathering your friends or family together for a summertime barbecue or a cozy winter cocktail party in the comfort of your own garden. Here are some great tips for designing your killer outdoor kitchen.

1. Design Ideas

Pinterest is a great resource to find design inspiration and to compile your plans. Simply go to pinterest.com, register an account, and type in “outdoor kitchen ideas”. There is a multitude of design options out there. Take a look at some of these tips!

  • Moern and Sleek

Concrete or rich colored woods are a great way to create a modern design aesthetic. Most classic or traditional kitchens use white-washed or light colored wood to create the look so go the opposite way for modern! Minimal furniture and features also help to create a modern feel. This also helps with maintenance and clean-up too. Check out these images for inspiration.

  • Classic or Country

White wood, blue accents, and exposed stone are a great way to give your outdoor kitchen rustic, classic appeal. Flowers and plants growing up the sides of walls or arbors are great for creating softness and a traditional appeal as well. Think of white-washed cabinets, pale-wood benches, and large rustic dining tables.

2. Grills

So many grilling options! There are 6 major types of grills to consider for your outdoor kitchen. Think about what you most enjoy cooking and what you can get the most use out of before choosing your grill.

  • Open Grills

This is the simplest set up of all grills. It consists of a metal or stone box with a heating element (wood, charcoal, gas) and a metal grate over the top of the box directly over the fire. Open grills are best for direct grilling over high heat and are best suited for quick cooking foods like kebabs, thin steaks and chops, and fish.

  • Covered Grills

Add a cover to the open grill and it allows you to add smoking and indirect grilling features to your outdoor grill. Covered grills are best for thicker steaks, rack-of-ribs, or whole chickens and ducks. You can also add different types of wood to your grill, close the lid, and let the meat slowly absorb the aroma of the wood.

  • Ceramic Grills

Ceramic grills are made of thick walls that allows heat to radiate off the side of the walls for even cooking. Ceramic grills are usually much deeper than typical grills and are generally used to cook bread (like flatbreads or India’s naan) directly on the side walls. The grill portion of ceramic grills are best suited for thin sliced meat, kebabs, fish, or veggies.

  • Rotisserie Grills

A rotisserie grill adds a rotating spit to the grill to allow for even cooking of thick slabs of meat or whole animals. Food is cooked slowly over several hours that results in crispy skins on the outside and tender, moist meat on the inside. Rotisserie grills are best suited for thick steaks, fatty meats, or whole animals like chickens, ducks, or even whole pigs (if your grill is big enough).

  • Smoker Grills

A smoker grill cooks meat on low heat for several hours over aromatic wood chips for flavorful and tender meat. The most common woods used for smokers include maple, hickory, mesquite, oak, and pecan. Smokers are best suited for tough cuts of meat that it slowly tenderizes while in the smoker. Meats like briskets and ribs are perfect for this.

  • Firepit Grills

A firepit grill allows your whole family to feel like you’re camping out right in your backyard! Firepit grills are just like campfires but with a metal grate positioned above the fire to cook food. The grates for the grills are height adjustable so that the food raised or lowered to be closer or farther from the fire. This makes firepit grills extremely versatile and can handle delicate foods like fish, veggies, and S’mores to thick cuts of beef and whole animals.

3. Appliances

Take a browse through these links for some ideas for your appliance purchases.

  • Pizza Ovens

Here is an affordable, moveable outdoor pizza oven.

  • Grilling Space

This is a comprehensive, versatile grill designed especially for outdoor use.

  • Beverage Center

This is a great option for those who really want to entertain! Store your drinks and drink accessories in a sleek design.

4. Furnishing Ideas

There are so many options to consider when it comes to furnishing. Will you go for a table and chair configuration, or a bench and stool set-up? Consider what kinds of gatherings you will use your kitchen for to help you decide which is best.

  • Color: try to think about what color scheme you will like and enjoy throughout the years. You don’t want to choose a bold, crazy color palette that you end up tiring of after one season. If you want a bold, bright touch, use interchangeable pillows, cushions, and throws. You can choose, bright appliances or flowers to add color too. That way, your base palette remains neutral while adding add splashes color that are easy to change out.
  • Fabric: Obviously, you need to choose a weather-resistant fabric for your outdoor furnishings, especially if there is a minimal overhead cover. Treated canvas and Olefin fiber are good choices for outdoor furniture.
  • Shade Sails and Covers: It is important to protect your appliances and furniture from the weather and potentially harsh elements. If you live in an extreme climate, consider the kind of protection you want to use for your outdoor kitchen. You can build awnings to shade the patio area or you can build a structure, like an arbor or pergola. Basically, this has a sturdy roof and side pillars. You can also install weather-resistant curtains to the side pillars that you can pull closed to act as walls if you’d like some privacy in your patio.
  • Finishing Touches: once the heavy appliances and furniture pieces are installed, take a step back and think of what else space needs. Here are some ideas for finishing touches:

– Ornaments

– Lamps

– Small side-tables

– Decorative trays and bowls

– Vases and good-quality fake flowers

– Water-resistant throws and blankets for winter months

5. Money-Saving DIY Options

You don’t need to rely on the expertise of others for every aspect of your outdoor kitchen needs. You can handle some of it yourself if you’re up to it!

  • Use recycled wood and old furniture/benches from second-hand stores or yard sales. Upcycle it yourself and get to work making your chairs, benches, or shade sails.
  • Go out and find weather-resistant fabrics from fabric stores or furniture sales. You can re-upholster your outdoor furniture to suit your own personal aesthetic.