D.I.Y. Detective

This blog aims to help the DIY and decorating enthusiasts among us. It can be hard to find good information and websites that will help you with your projects, so I am trying to collect the good ones on one site.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Fabulous Rugs!

I just wanted to share a great site I have found for rugs. Are you always seeing pictures in magazines showing great rugs and wishing that you could find one just like it? Fraustrating isn't it, trawling through masses of websites from Google, trying to find one you like.

Well, look no more. Try Wovenground - http://www.wovenground.com/ . It has the biggest choice of rugs on the web, over 9,000 to choose from. And the prices are cheaper than the highstreet!

They even have a"design your own" section. I liked the links to TV programmes, illustrating the rugs used in various TV situations, check out "Big Brother". The Kids section is fun, with shaped rugs, Disney rugs and many other play rugs. You can choose by colour or material. Here are a few nice ones.

What a great site! I shall now be able to browse to my hearts content (the shaggy rugs look georgeous!)

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Sofas - which to choose?

Looking for a new sofa or suite? There are so many out there to choose from. How do you choose? Do you visit lots of shops and sit in them all, or do you order direct from a catalogue? It's personal choice of course. Trolling around the shops is very time consuming (and hugely irritating to reluctant spouses!), but buying without trying has it's risks. Personal recommendation is always good, plus sitting in your friends sofas (see how they wear!).

I am looking for some new sofas. I understand the trend is not for matching suites anymore, but two sofas plus an armchair or two in a different but complimentary fabric. Speaking personally, I don't care for leather sofas, preferring the feel and look of fabric ones, especially if they have washable covers.

I have recently visited an Ikea store, http://www.ikea.co.uk/ , and had a good sit on their sofas. I am inclining towards the Ektorp range at the moment, they were very comfortable and not too deep, which suits me as I only have medium size legs and really object to either having to lean back a long way or dangle my feet above the floor! There was a good choice of fabric covers and the price is very reasonable (as are all their products).

One of the most popular and largest sites for direct order is Sofa Sofa http://www.sofasofa.co.uk/ . You can order an extensive catalogue from their website The sofas are manufactured in South Wales by a family firm and give good guarantee's, for instance, if you are not happy with it or it won't fit through the door (!!) you can return it within 21 days and have a refund. If you can get to St Mellons near Cardiff you can have the best of both worlds. Thay have a large showroom here where you can indeed sit in all the sofas and order the one you like best. See their website for more information and a map.

I could go on for ever listing sofa websites, Sofa Workshop is popular, http://www.sofaworkshop.com/ , Next do some really nice ones, http://www.next.co.uk/ . I am not going to list the really expensive ones because I can't afford them! I shall probably choose mine from one on the list above, but I need to know it fits me! If anyone has a good recommendation please let me know!

Monday, 30 July 2007

Modern Style

Is modern more your style? Here are some great websites that will suit you.

Have a look at Dwell, a firm offering the modern look in every department. http://www.dwell.co.uk/ . They do have some retail stores and are opening new ones, but the online catalogue is comprehensive and good, and the prices are very reasonable. I particularly like the selection of coffee tables. I would like one of the glass ones!

Next is always a good place to look, of course. http://www.next.co.uk/shopping/homeware/ . I've just had a look at their site and they have a glass coffee table that I like even more, and it's cheaper! Hmm, might get that!

Another company that I like is Ilva, http://www.ilva.co.uk/ . They are a Danish firm and have all the wonderfull innovative designs of that country, and good value too. They have just won the Retail Week Awards 2007. How about this coffee table? Am I obsessed with coffee tables, or what!

I think I'd better stop looking for the moment, I think the Next one is my favourite! (For now)
P.S. I haven't forgotten about Ikea, more of them later.

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Country Style Homes

What style do you like? There are websites to suit everyone. Country style is perennially popular, you have to consider what sort of house you live in, of course. This style can suit humble cottages to country mansions, it’s all a matter of proportion.

The great classic website for this is, of course, Laura Ashleywww.lauraashley.com . Here you will find fabric, furniture, linens, lighting etc. to grace the grandest house or a seaside cottage. Their style has been meticulously created to cover all aspects of interior design.

Another great website is Cath Kidston’swww.cathkidston.co.uk . The offerings here are colourful, floral, and much loved by her admirers. Mix and match, don’t overdo it and you will love the results.

A fairly new website also offering the look is Country Creamwww.countrycream.co.uk . It has gorgeous fabrics, affordable home accessories, bedding and hand painted furniture sourced partly from sheltered workshops. A business with a heart.

A nice site offering the French country style is Lavender and Sagewww.lavenderandsage.co.uk . It has reproductions of old French furniture and many beautiful hand made creations. Browse and buy lighting, soft furnishings, kitchen accessories, enamel plaques and much more. Well worth a look.

The country look is a classic, will never look dated, and can be added to over the years.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Find a Bargain

Looking for a bargain? On a budget? Aren't we all! There are some good websites and blogs out there to help you stretch your money.

Homes and Bargains is one such site - http://www.homesandbargains.co.uk/ . Subtitled Luxury Living For Less, it offers a guide to finding quality goods at discounted prices. It has a Bargain Directory that lets you choose home bargains by category, or you can shop by area.
It also features a Shop of the Week, this week it is Flogit4u - http://www.flogit4u.com/ an auction site that will sell almost anything for you, saving you the time and hassle. There are some good bargains to be had, designer kitchens in particular.

Another good offering is Where Are The Sales, an online diary of upcoming events and sales that will bag you a bargain. Excellent resource!

One of the site's contributors is Alison Cork, an interior design consultant. She also has her own blog - http://www.alisoncork.com/ called The Really Useful Blog, which is full of tips, information, problem solving and money saving advice. Check it out.
Of course, the biggest resource for bargain hunting must be EBay - http://www.ebay.co.uk/ . Here you can find almost anything, sometimes it doesn't look too hopeful, but the next time you check you might find the very item you have been looking everywhere for. There are traders on the site, but the best bargains often come from private sales, people passing on what they no longer want or bought in error. It can be quite addictive.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Get the Look and Find a Tradesman

O.K. There has been lots of serious stuff in the first few post, lets have a look at some fun sites. House to Home http://www.housetohome.co.uk/ is a great site, published online by the following magazines:

This will help you find the look you want, show you rooms to give you inspiration, see the latest products and know where to find them. Expert advice is available, a colour planner, room planner, project calculator, the list is endless. It's a fairly new site, but I was facinated by it, it will keep you coming back for another look or some more advice.

Problem Solved - http://www.problemsolved.co.uk/ is another site I like.
One of the biggest problems faced by homeowners in the U.K. is knowing where to find good tradespeople. Plumbers, builders, decorators and electricians can be found in any number of ways - phone books, online, classified ads - but finding the good guys is an entirely different matter. With this in mind, Problem Solved has been developed as an online directory of the best tradespeople in Britain - and now it is also the largest, with over 25,000 members. Sourced entirely by recommendation, Problem Solved members are also vetted for quality to provide the public with a permanent source of reliable tradespeople in their local area. And for anyone in need of information, hints and tips on the home, there is also a selection of "How to" guides and useful articles which are packed with handy advice. And you can even post individual questions to a panel of experts in the "Ask the Experts" section. There are also links to all the relevant trade bodies.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Home Help

Have you spent hours on the internet trying to find a good website that will give you the information you need when you are decorating or in the middle of a DIY project? Or spent a fortune on house magazines to get some good ideas? So have I!

Well, I am going to try to make things easier by collecting some of the good ones together on this blog. The information will be a personal choice, of course, so you may not agree with me, but they will all be sites that I like and would use. If you have any suggestions for additional sites please send them to me.

OK, lets begin.

Begin at the beginning

So, you want to do a loft conversion? Or build a double garage? Or put a fence around your property? What's the first thing you have to know? It's do you need planning permission? The Building Regulations will certainly need to be followed.

The Planning Portal is a good place to start. This is the UK government's online planning and building regulations resource. Use this site to learn about planning and building regulations, apply for planning permission and building regulations consent, find out about development near you, appeal against a decision and research government policy. Here is the website - http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/ .

You can use the tools and information on this site to find out about planning in your area and what development you can perform around your house.
The Portal's services also let you apply for planning permission electronically as well as submit and track an appeal online.

The Building Regulations must be followed too. There is some good information about these on the above site, including a downloadable booklet. www.communities.gov.uk/pub/117/BuildingRegulationsExplanatoryBookletPDF1191Kb_id1131117.pdf
If you want to see all the Regulations or just a section, you have two choices. You can either buy your own copy from this website: www.thenbs.com/buildingRegs or, much cheaper, go into your nearest local library that has a Reference section and ask to see them! Libraries can save you loads of money and give you lots of free information.
Another site worth checking out is http://www.communities.gov.uk/ , click on the Planning, Building and the Environment link at the side of the page. This will lead you to more information on planning, building regulations etc.
Make sure you dot every "i "and cross every "t" at this stage, as it can be very expensive to put a mistake right later. Consult with an architect if you need to and talk to your builder, if you are using one.

Using an architect

You may want to employ an architect if you are undertaking a large, or complicated job. They often come up with brilliant ideas that you would never of thought of, after all, that is their job to make the best use of your space. They will also, of course, provide the scale drawings to be submitted for planning permission. Indeed, if the job is large enough, its worth considering them as project managers. Make sure you cultivate a good relationship with them and things should proceed smoothly.

How do you find a good one? Well, good old fashioned word-of-mouth is often the best! Failing that check out this website: http://www.architecture.com/ . This is an official site run by RIBA. Here you can find a list of members, a directory of practices, search for members with appropriate skills and expertise, and get information on fees and standard contracts.
I know it can feel like an expense too far, but if I was undertaking a major project I wouldn't consider it without professional expertise.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Self Build A New Home

Are you ready to go the whole hog? Do you want to build a new home for yourself? A huge undertaking! Here are a few websites that will offer you help.

BuildStore is a very comprehensive site http://www.buildstore.co.uk/ .

It covers self build, renovations, conversions & major DIY projects.

This site offers information and advice on every aspect. In addition to the site you can visit the National Self Build and Renovation Centre at Swindon. Visit the website for more information.

Selfbuildit is another site on the same theme http://www.selfbuildit.co.uk/ .

The theme for the website is to help people to build their own houses. By mid 2001 Selfbuildit was getting a lot of visitors, so the website was turned into a commercial venture, with commissions being paid by the people that it links to. Never the less it has excellent information and links to many other useful sites.