Once it comes to traditional dress across the world, the Middle East is considered unique and colorful.
Once it comes to traditional dress across the world, the Middle East is considered unique and colorful.
Take a look at your kitchen appliances. Maybe you inherited them from the last person who lived in your house or apartment. Maybe they’re mismatched or decades old, or not even working. It’s time to treat yourself to some upgrades.
Even if you’re on a tight budget, you can find a suite of large appliances for less than $2,500 that will keep your kitchen running without emptying your savings account. Be prepared to sacrifice, though — certain features are unavailable on appliances in this price range. For example, French doors and bottom-freezer fridges, slide-in stoves and induction cooktops, and dishwashers with adjustable racks are all products that could set you back $1,000 each.
Here are refrigerators, ovens and dishwashers that work well and will keep your upgrade total less than $2,500.
You’ll save some money if you opt for a fridge that has the freezer on top rather than a side-by-side or French-door model.
This is a basic fridge that looks good, thanks to a fingerprint-resistant slate finish. It’s also reliable when it comes to keeping your food cold. And you can find this refrigerator for as low as $585, which makes it even more appealing for your kitchen upgrade.
This refrigerator has plenty of room for your favorite foods: With 24 cubic feet of total storage space, the LG LTCS24223S is as big as top freezers get, with even more room for groceries than some French-door models.
Freestanding stoves with the control panel on the back of the unit are the best value. You can put these models anywhere in your kitchen, which is great if you’re not planning a big renovation soon.
This electric range with a smooth cooktop has plenty of useful cooking modes and fast performance times, which makes this appliance a good value.
This gas range is consistent when it comes to cooking food well, whether you’re baking or broiling, or just boiling water. It’s also easy to use
Most people have guests stopping over for a few nights around the festive period. Whether you have an en-suite or a main bathroom, if you have been thinking of updating it for a while now, it is probably overdue an update before your guests arrive. Sometimes a good clean, a lick of paint and colour co-ordinated lotion and potion bottles can spruce up the whole room. Give it a go and see. However, if you have panels falling away from your bath, or the shower tray is broken, or your tiles are really, really dated, you know you need a new bathroom. Why not just get it done in time for Christmas?
A new bathroom with a fixed shower screen, a stone shower tray (which will not crack) and minimalistic, easy-clean sanitaryware will be almost heavenly to use around Christmas time; you can bathe the dog without worrying about scrubbing at mud stains for hours afterwards; the kids can splash as much water as they like without making your new Karndean floor slippery; and of course, at the end of a long day, you can have a relaxing soak in a lovely, new, clean bathroom.
You may be surprised to hear that around 75% of our customers during their kitchen design process will specifically mention Christmas as a reason for a certain feature, be it a bigger oven, more worktop space, or room for a large dining room table. It is only one day a year, but it is so important to us all that it is somewhere at the back of our minds when planning a kitchen, regardless of when exactly we are planning it.
If you’re starting to panic about oven space, worktop space, or room to sit everyone down for the biggest meal of the year, maybe it could be time to redesign your kitchen. We’re not saying you should plan your entire kitchen around Christmas, but it will definitely help if you redesign it with the big day in mind.
Which smart switch is best? What do smart switches do, and are they worth the money? We test five of the contenders: the Belkin WeMo Insight Switch, TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug, Elgato Eve Energy, Energenie Mi| Home Adapter Plus and the Efergy Ego. Also read our reviews of the best smart light bulbs
Also see: Best Gadget Deals
Just as smart thermostats are muscling in on old-school programmers, smart switches are having a good go at yesterday’s twiddly timer switches. Also see: Best robot vacuum cleaners
Basically it’s a switch that you plug into a power socket, and then plug another device’s plug into so you can control it via an app on your smartphone or tablet over Wi-Fi.
With the best smart switches you can set schedules, monitor energy usage and find out which devices are used most often and when. Armed with such data you can start saving on your home’s domestic electricity usage. Sounds interesting, but is it really useful?
The not-very-smart traditional power timer switch is pretty handy at switching things like lights, kettles and fish tanks on at set times or intervals. You can buy an analogue timer switch for under a fiver, or get a fancy digital one for a few pounds more.
The ‘smart’ switch is more capable, linking with a smartphone app for device control wherever you are with an internet connection (Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, etc). Say you stay out longer than you were expecting to (“Go on, just one more pint:”) and really want a light on inside your house to pretend you’re home. With a dumb-ish switch you’re stuffed. With a smart switch you’re only dumb if you let your phone battery run out.
Tap the app, select the smart switch you’re after, and turn on the light. Bingo.
Some experts think you could save on your energy bills by powering down your fridge freezer for a couple of hours a day. Read: Best smart home heating systems.
With a smart switch you could control the TV in your child’s room from the comfort of your armchair, although popping your head around the door and/or reading them a book would be better parenting. Read: How much screen time is safe for kids.
One of the more appealing functions of smart switches is energy use and cost monitoring. Not all switches offer this feature, but many do. Devices are often left on standby when not in use for large parts of the day, and standby use accounts for around up to 16 percent of the average electricity bill, reckons energy gadget maker Efergy. With a smart switch you can dramatically cut down on this wasted Standby time. Efergy’s own Ego smart socket, see review below, is especially clever at cutting back on Standby time.
And there’s enough on offer to save you time and effort, too, in the day. Fill your kettle or coffee maker in the morning, and turn it on via the app when you get out of bed so that it has boiled by the time you get to your kitchen. This might sound a very lazy use of technology, but it’s a daily time saver – if you remember to fill the kettle the night before!
The ability to turn devices on and off via Wi-Fi from afar, plus on various timed schedules, is useful. Seeing the energy usage and costs of various devices could help you save money, but this would be even more useful if such switches could monitor multiple devices on a power strip, and these do exist now.
Smart switches start at around £25, and rise to around £55, so they’re not yet so cheap you can buy one for every appliance. But for those you really want to control from afar, it can be worth the outlay.
TP-Link’s Wi-Fi Smart Plug is one of our top picks. For a start, it’s only £24.99 from Amazon and second, it connects via Wi-Fi directly to your router. So it doesn’t need a hub, nor does it need (as Elgato’s Eve Energy does) an Apple TV or iPad for remote control away from home.
There are iOS and Android apps, but the icing on the cake is that it also works with Amazon Alexa. That means – while at home – you can say, “Alexa turn on the xxx” and control your device hands-free.
Via the app you can create schedules as you can with Energenie’s switch, turning the plug on and off as many times as you like, with different schedules for each day if you like. Using your location, you can also choose sunrise and sunset as triggers.
There’s also a timer mode so you can turn the plug on or off after a preset time, which could be handy for a sleep timer or to turn off the TV once the kids have had enough screen time.
For £10 more, you can buy the HS110 which is the same except that it also monitors the energy the connected device consumes. You see at a glance how many kWh the appliance has used so far today and how long it has been on. Tap on each and you get more detail, such as current power usage, plus totals and daily averages for the past week and month. (It’s the same breakdown for runtime).
With a well-designed and good-looking app, no need for a hub and a decent price, the TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug is one of the best you can buy right now.
The Efergy Ego smart switch (which you can buy from Amazon for £29.99) can work like a regular timer, and also has the knack of switching devices on and off at random, which could be useful when you’re trying to give the impression that a home is occupied when it’s actually vacant for a long time.
Its smartphone or tablet app will show you the energy usage of a device or strip of devices, plus their estimated cost over a period of time. Isolate the worst culprits and you’ll soon be making sure they’re properly switched off when not required.
While it lacks WeMo’s handy Notifications feature, the Ego wins out with its ability to learn and turn off appliances automatically that have been on stand-by for too long
When the appliance, most probably your TV, is plugged into the Ego and is on standby you go to the Stand-by/Learn screen in the app. Press the learn button and the Ego stores that value. Then in the Standby feature you set an amount of time, so after ‘x’ minutes of the TV being on standby I want it to turn off at the mains.
There is a also a Group function for those who multiple Ego switches in their home. You can group them together and control them all from the Group/scene page. The best application for this is to have all appliances in one room in a group.
Like the WeMo, the Efergy Ego is reasonably inconspicuous but still a little too bulky to not get in the way of other sockets’ flick switches. It is taller than the WeMo.
No hub is needed, so the price is all you pay, and at £29.99 at the moment (usually £39.99) it’s great value.
You can buy the WeMo Insight Switch for £49.99 from Argos, so it certainly isn’t cheap. It’s part of a larger WeMo home-automation series of products, including Smart LED Bulbs and Light Switch, and WeMo Motion.
There’s a very visible green power-on indicator on top, and, weirdly, a Micro USB port that currently has no function. Setting up the switch is straightforward, if a little long-winded at first. It took us a couple of goes to get it to recognise our Wi-Fi. But at least it doesn’t require a separate hub connected to your router.
Plug the Switch into a power outlet in your home and then plug your chosen device into the Switch. Download the free WeMo App (iOS and Android), and pair it with the Switch and your Wi-Fi network.
Aside from turning things off without getting off your backside WeMo can inform you when, for instance, a laundry cycle is complete, which is actually rather handy. This is set up in the WeMo app’s clever Rules section. Or you could be alerted when your child has exceeded his or her allotted screen/TV time.
Via the app you set rules that trigger the power according to preset times, or to respond automatically to sunrise and sunset, or through motion detection via Belkin’s WeMo Motion detector (an extra £64).
Rules can be set for: Weekends; Weekdays; and, Individual days. And allow for: Turn on only; Turn off only; and, Turn on then off.
It isn’t the cheapest but the ability to create rules could make it the best option for you.
The Eve Energy is a smart switch which also monitors how much power the connected device uses over time. It’s an Apple HomeKit plug which means it works only with iOS devices. However, this also means you can control it with your voice using Siri and that it benefits from the full encryption that HomeKit offers.
Rather than use Wi-Fi, the switch uses Bluetooth. This makes setup easy (and also means you don’t need to have a hub connected to your router) but it does limit the range over which it can be controlled. It will work in most ‘normal’ UK homes, but if you want to control it when away from home, you’ll need an Apple TV (3rd gen or later) or a spare home-based iPad (newer than iPad 2) running iOS 8.1 or later.
You can turn the switch on and off via the Apple Home app in iOS 10 or use the Eve app. If you’re standing next to the switch, there’s a button on top for manual control, too.
Setting up timers is possible using the Scenes tab in the app, but creating a schedule is needlessly complicated compared to other apps, such as TP-Link’s. However, the Eve app is built to work with the whole Eve range – not just a smart switch – and you can make all the gadgets work together using Scenes. It’s powerful, but could be easier to use.
It’s fairly expensive at £44.95 from Apple, but if you already have an iPad or Apple TV for remote access and you like the idea of controlling it via Siri, it could be right for you .
Energenie’s Adapter Plus is the top-of-the-range switch which monitors and controls connected devices. It’s not too expensive at £34.99, but does require a £69.99 hub that connects to your router.
You can buy the Adapter Plus bundle, though, which includes two switches and the hub for £109.99. And there are other products in the range including two-gang wall sockets, smart TRVs, motion sensors and door / window sensors.
Pairing the switch with the hub is as simple as plugging it in and holding down the button for a few seconds. You can then add it as a new device in the Mi|Home app (Android / iOS).
In the app you can tap ON or OFF to manually control the switch (even when away from home) but you can also set up timers. You’re free to create as many as you like, for multiple power cycles each day and different times on different days.
There’s also a geofencing setting so you can turn it off (or on) when you leave the house and then do the opposite when you return. You can even set different distances to trigger the geofencing depending on whether you’re leaving or returning.
For energy monitoring, you can see current and average power use, plus daily and hourly totals. It will also tell you how much the connected device has cost to run each month for the last quarter.
Plus, Energenie has just launched a skill for Alexa, so you can control the plug using your voice – and an Amazon Echo.
The number of health conscious people in the UK is on the up and commercial gyms can be incredibly busy at peak times. With costly memberships and families trying to juggle the demands of modern life, more and more are creating their own workout space at home. As garden rooms can be installed within 15-20 days, don’t usually require planning permission and can be built to a bespoke design, they are becoming popular solutions for home gyms, and over the past two years, we have noticed a rise in the number being installed.
The key to creating a productive and practical space in your garden is to carefully consider the room’s features at the design stage. This includes:
When designing a gym, the first thing to consider is the equipment you are looking to install. Certain items, such as cross trainers and running machines, elevate the user and can be a real issue if you’re tall, as your head can touch the ceiling. The permitted development height of a garden room is 2.5m, however, there are no height restrictions or planning permission requirements if you simply build more than 2m from the property’s boundary. In most cases, it is beneficial to do so as higher ceilings ensure you don’t feel restricted when exercising.
As with many garden rooms, wall space is of a premium. Many customers love to have a lot of glass and it’s tempting to install wall-to-wall glass to let in as much natural light as possible, but the design and layout of the doors and windows is key to creating a functional workout space, and too many windows may limit where you can place equipment. You also need to consider privacy, especially if your garden is overlooked.
Equipment will also determine the type of flooring required. If you will be using free weights, it’s important that you select a specific rubber gym matting. Otherwise, a sturdy wood or laminate is great as they are easy to clean – especially important after an intense, sweat-inducing workout!
CHOOSING YOUR UTILITIES
Although it might not be the most exciting part of the design process, it’s really important to consider the final layout as this will determine the placement of sockets and the type of lighting and heating.
Many of the gyms we build have sockets in the floor to avoid untidy cable runs. Also, spotlights are very popular and I would always recommend considering LED lighting. Not only will this prevent your garden room from getting too hot, but it will also give you enormous savings on your energy bills. Plus, dimmers or even multiple circuits are a good option, so that certain parts of the room can be lit while others aren’t.
The other utility to consider is an entertainment system. For most, a TV and sound system are a must when working out. When designing your gym garden room, it is worth considering recessed speakers in the ceiling as this allows for more floor and wall space and will offer much better sound quality. A Bluetooth device will enable you to connect your phone or iPod so you’re able to play your favourite music through the speakers.
Also, there is the potential to incorporate plumbing if you fancy installing a bathroom or if you’re a personal trainer and are looking to use the space for clients, shower facilities could be a selling point.
THE EXTERNAL LOOK AND FEEL
A lot of the time, people focus on how they want their garden room to look on the inside and don’t consider how it will look from the outside. We encourage homeowners to really think about the external look and how this fits within their garden. The finished room is likely to be visible from the house and the last thing anyone wants to look at is a box that starkly contrasts with the rest of the garden!
Many of our customers love the idea of bi-folding doors, as they can open up directly into the garden and create the illusion of a huge space, which is great in the summer. However, it does limit the amount of wall space for gym equipment.
We also recommend landscaping and using planting to soften any straight lines in the design, this is especially good for blending the building into an established garden.
The winter months are some of the most exciting and yearned for; crisp country walks, cosy log fires and chunky blankets. But if you are lucky enough to have a conservatory, orangery or garden room, the winter season can pose a threat.
In order to be able to continue to use this room to appreciate the pink winter sunsets and robins on the lawn, you must be prepared to take several steps. Paul Matthews, managing director at Auburn Hill, explains exactly what you need to do:
1. GUTTERING AND DRAINAGE
The guttering and downspouts that many orangeries and conservatories possess are known to become blocked in both the autumn and winter months, as the leaves fall and the weather becomes unfavourable with lashings of wind and rain.
Clearing them of debris and leaves is not going to be the highlight of your year, but it’s going to pay off long term. If guttering becomes blocked during the wet weather, gutters can leak, and this inherently leads to internal damp and mould growth – far from ideal at any time of the year!
By doing this, you also have the opportunity to identify any part of the guttering that is old, tired and a little worse for wear, or if it is damaged. If this is the case, the problems should be replaced or repaired immediately before the water can infiltrate the brickwork.
While dry days are ideal for this chore, frosty days also make it a little easier – just make sure you have someone with you to ensure accidents don’t occur while using a ladder.
2. TREES AND SHRUBBERY
As the temperatures plummet and the air gets damp – we would rather retreat indoors to practise hygge rather than continue cutting the lawn and preening trees and bushes. But it’s incredibly important that you make trimming your garden a priority if it’s home to the aforementioned flora.
As the wind is whipping around your garden, hearing next door’s gate being thrown around should be your biggest worry – not the branches from your Japanese cherry tree about to crack the glazing in your orangery.
Trees, hedges and bushes should be trimmed right back to prevent them causing damage to your orangery or conservatory. Branches that are dead or weak should be removed completely as these pose the biggest threat to your home extension.
Stylish and extremely practical, the hidden TV system solves various problems tied to unsightly wiring and cables, freeing up space and making the scenic impact of the screen less invasive in your home. Also available with Bluetooth audio system, the concealed TV compartment supports a maximum screen size of 42 ’’ but it can be customized for larger screens upon request. Also, the sideboard is also available in the version with a back-lit system.
The sophisticated clean look of steel
Modern interiors for Soho represented by three compartments with glass shelves and the possibility of adding small drawers. The doors are made of stainless steel with a Scotch-Brite finish (with a slight horizontal satin finish) and anti-fingerprint treatment. The impeccable color combination of the sideboard with steel doors and black lacquered wood TV unit, along with the game of volumes created makes for a piece of furniture with a strong personality that retains clean-cut silhouettes.
Decorating a whole house or even one’s own bedroom isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. From the sea of data on the internet, it is so hard to find out how you want the place you’ll live to look like. It’s your house and it should represent you. If only you had a team of architects to help you through!
This is exactly what these expert architects with 26 years of experience are doing. Knowing the home decor business like the back of their hand, these architects will leave a great legacy – loads and loads of data and information about the home décor business they’ve gathered over the years through a startup called ‘Renomania’. They claim that there is nothing you’ve wanted to know about building a house you wouldn’t find on Renomania. Co-founders Ritu Malhotra and Navneet are graduates from the School of Planning and Architecture who met their third Co-founder Rahul Lodha who is a graduate from IIT Kharagpur.
Interviewing Ritu, we found out that they say they are selling ideas and their idea can give you the house of your dreams.
We have been entrepreneurs for 26 years now with A.A Design Consultants. Renomania.com has been a dream project that we, as architects, wanted to come up with after understanding the pain points of the homeowners. We have been in this industry long enough to understand how difficult it is for people to explain what they exactly want in their house. We have seen people getting magazine and newspaper cut-outs and online picture-prints which were all from international homes from international websites. The results, thus, were never really the same considering the difference in culture, weather and tradition. That’s when we decided to build Renomania as a solution for anything related to Indian home decor. From inspirations and ideas to a community of home professionals and homeowners, the idea was to provide the users with all information on a single platform. Our clients would ask questions regarding finishes and costs and sourcing of products seen on foreign sites or a hotel they visited. Renomania is providing all the answers.”
We believe that home owners require inspiration, inspiration which comes from relevant content, variety of ideas and being part of a similar yet diverse community.
Most others in the Home space are in the Transaction space like selling furniture or in the Home service space that is to provide handymen. The content in these platforms is Transaction oriented.
Renomania is into the business of selling ideas. It is a community of homeowners and professionals where they can easily discover each other and interact. It is not a usual e-commerce website that sells furniture or a readymade look. It aims at attempting to maintain the fun and ease factor in home building and home décor experience. It is helping people ‘discover’ – the kind of house they’d like to live in and the professionals they would like to work with.
Renomania is an online platform that helps homeowners discover a million new ways to make their homes more beautiful.
Since, we have a strong experience of 26 years in this field, we understood the problems that homeowners were facing, and we knew that someone had to work towards it. We built the largest catalogue of beautiful Indian homes, helping homeowners get ideas and inspiration for designing everything from a room or a corner to an entire house. Renomania also helps homeowners convert their inspired vision into reality, by connecting them with an ever-growing community of millions of other homeowners, interior designers, architects, contractors and product providers across the country. Whether you’re looking to renovate a room or a corner or an entire home, Renomania is everything you need to create a beautiful home. With over 1,00,000 high-resolution inspiring photos of home interiors that you can browse, save and share, we wanted the consumers to find everything related to their home at one place. We also have a 3000-member strong verified active professional community, from architects and contractors to designers and more, who help make your dream home a reality. Consumers can findout the source of the products tagged in the photos and above all, get hundreds of tips and recommendations to make their home remodelling a pain-free process.
The digital world is booming by the hour and everyone is perpetually connected to social media. This change has automatically resulted in the boom of the online home décor market as well. People go online for everything nowadays, whether it is to buy a product or to get ideas. We notice an increase in adoption of online purchasing by a younger audience. Statistically, Home interior is a $20 Billion market currently and the growth options are immense.
We are targeting to reach the half a million unique visitors on the website by end July orend August this year. Simultaneously, we are looking to grow our catalogue to beyond 100,000 pictures within this period. We have launched our mobile app for iOS and Android users and are awaiting a new feature that will allow users to discuss their home design ideas and dilemmas with one another.
Firstly, most professionals in the industry have not documented their work and are offline. It took a lot of research and work to track all the architects in the country, reach out to them and explain how Renomania would actually prove to be beneficial for them. We hired photographers who documented the homes for these professionals across geographies. To get access of thousands of designers and create a library of curated high definition pictures of real Indian homes was a big challenge. But, this challenge has actually turned into an opportunity as we are building up this asset at great speed and of course our content is not copied and is our copyright.
Before you place an order for a business or home security system, it is important to first do an audit of your current security situation and then proceed to compare that with the security you would like to have in place. This is because your security system is supposed to bridge the gap between the current security situation and the security situation you would like to have.
Aside from a few special considerations that will be unique to different homes and businesses, there are a number of general factors that will help you assess your security needs. Considering these general security factors will ensure that your decision to order a particular security system is well informed and of value to you and your interests.
The first and most obvious consideration is the level of insecurity in your neighbourhood. If you live or operate a business in an area that is prone to certain types of crime, you need to install a system that effectively deals with that particular crime and others that are similar to it. Information on the crimes that frequently occur in the area can be found with the police or reputable security companies in the area. An important point to note is that you should not go overboard in your choice of security system. If you live in a relatively safe area, installing an excessively elaborate security system may actually have negative consequences as it could attract criminals who will be interested in finding out what you have in your premises that demands such high level security.
Another important factor that will determine your choice of business and home security system is your schedule. If you operate a 24 hour business your security system will be different from that installed in a business that only operates during the day.
Security systems for those who work nights or travel frequently will also be different from those required by households that work a normal day job. Your schedule and neighbourhood are the main considerations that will inform your choice of a security system.
The layout of your house or business premises is another important factor that must be considered. Here you will be looking at the number of rooms that you have, the security situation of the surroundings and neighbouring buildings, access points into your premises and other similar aspects. If you have more rooms and several access points your security system will be more complicated as compared to someone else who has few rooms and a single access point.
With this information, you are now ready to start shopping for a business or home security system that will adequately serve your security needs. Most security companies will conduct their own security audits of your premises so as to determine the best solutions for you. However, having conducted your won audit will ensure that your decision is backed by comprehensive information and a thorough understanding of your security situation.