Archive for July, 2015

Ten Ways to Keep Your Home Safe Whilst You’re On Holiday

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

It’s the time of year where we jet off to far-away places and escape the worries of day-to-day life. The safety of your house should be the last thing on your mind as you relax by the pool, so made-to-measure blinds specialist Apollo Blinds has put together its top tips on how you can keep your home safe whilst you’re on holiday.

Holiday snap1) Don’t Broadcast

Be honest. Would you trust everyone on your social media feed with your most valuable possessions?

We all want to share our holiday snaps but if you want to protect your home when you’re abroad then keep the social media posts of you on the beach to a minimum.

Once you have published something on social media, it is in the public domain, meaning you no longer have control over who sees it. Try to resist checking into the airport or hotel with Facebook or flooding your news feed with excited status updates about when you are leaving the country. If you must share then keep it vague and don’t give away details of your travel dates, where you are going or how long you will be away.

And whilst you’re being careful in the virtual world, it’s also an idea to watch where and who you talk to about your trip in the real world. You never know who is listening so it’s better to be safe than sorry.


Green venetian2) Install Window Blinds

According to the Metropolitan Police, windows are one of the most common entry and exit routes for burglars, as well as being a showcase for your valuables. Fitting window blinds is a cheap and easy way to add an extra layer of defence to your home, especially if they are made of a noisy material like aluminium that could help to raise an alarm. Venetian blinds, made up of numerous wooden slats held together with cords or tapes, are also easy to become tangled in when trying to get through a window. Just the sight of a noisy venetian blind can be enough to put off an opportunistic burglar.

Motorised blinds3) Add A Motor

Mostly security is just common sense but there are gadgets available that can help to make your house looked lived in, giving the impression that somebody is home even when it is empty.  If you really want to ramp up the security, then add a motor to your blinds. Apollo Blind’s Somfy® automation systems allow motors to be controlled via a timer or light sensor meaning they can open and close dependent upon the time of day.

For more information about Apollo’s made-to-measure blinds and shutters visit www.apollo-blinds.co.uk or call 01924 413 048.

 

 

 

 

Burglar Alarm

4) Fit A Good Burglar Alarm

Protecting your home is all about making life harder for criminals; if they spy a potential obstacle it could be enough to make them move on to the next (easier) target.  A good burglar alarm is an investment in the safety of your home and family, even if it may seem like a lot of money initially.

There are different types of alarm to choose from including, bells only, speech diallers, wireless and non-wireless, so do your research before you commit to paying any money. Always buy from a reputable and use an installer that is affiliated to an inspectorate, such as National Security Inspectorate (NSI) or Security System and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB).  For more information on comparing burglar alarms see the Which? website.

5) And Use It

It’s surprising how many people have burglar alarms but don’t use them.  Did you know that some household insurers won’t pay out if you have a burglar alarm fitted that’s not been set?  They see this as failing to take reasonable steps to protect your property, so make sure you’re covered and set the alarm before you jet off!

6) Check, Check And Check Again

Sometimes it pays to be paranoid.  It sounds so simple but open or unlocked windows and doors are an invitation to burglars. Check and double check that you have shut all of your doors and windows before you leave the house.  If you are leaving in the middle of the night, do it the night before when you are less likely to miss something.   Studies have also shown that burglars are more likely to break into your house if the front gate is open, so don’t forget this vital detail.

7) You’ve Got Mail

There’s no better way to signify that a house is empty than a growing pile of unopened post behind the front door.  Cancel any regular deliveries and don’t order anything to come whilst you are away. Ask a friend or relative to call in and pick up your mail or use the Royal Mail’s Keepsafe service, which can hold on to letters and parcels for up to 66 days and deliver them when you return.

8) Neighbourhood Watch

Having somebody to watch your house whilst you are away can really help to protect your home. Ask a friend or neighbour to keep an eye on things or hire a professional house sitter.  Use a reputable company such as Homesitters, which guarantees its service because it directly employs and vets its 1,000 plus sitters.  If this is too costly, then try a matchmaking service like TrustedHousesitters.com.  It takes a little more leg work because the onus is on you to vet a potential sitter, however, many of them work for free in return for a break away.

9) Vary Your Routine

It may sound neurotic to think that somebody is watching you but it pays to try and vary the times you leave the house so that it’s less obvious when you’re not following your normal routine. Get up early and walk the dog rather than doing it when you come home. Perhaps drive some days and walk others or take an alternative route to work so that you leave at a different time.

10) Give Your Valuables A Holiday

Leaving everything on show is an open invitation to an opportunistic robber.  Hide your high-worth items around the house or better still ask somebody you trust to look after them whilst you are away.  We’re not talking bulky goods like televisions but smaller portable items that you can’t live without, such as jewellery or tablets. Finally, hide your car keys rather than hanging them on a hook behind the door.

Sources

Which? comparison site – http://www.which.co.uk/

Metropolitan Police – http://content.met.police.uk/Site/crimepreventionbumblebee

Royal Mail – http://www.royalmail.com/personal/receiving-mail/keepsafe

http://www.theguardian.com/money/2011/jul/15/find-housesitter-for-free

http://www.homesitters.co.uk/

http://www.TrustedHousesitters.com

IMAGE Sources

1) floridamasters.co.uk

2) Apollo Blinds

4) content.met.police.uk

6) safesoundfamily.com

 

Make decorating disasters a thing of the past with Design Space

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

We’ve all been there. When the promising idea of a freshly updated interior looks nothing like the finished reality.  And by the time we realise, it’s usually way too late, leaving homeowners up and down the country stuck with disappointing décor and uninspired colour schemes. But not anymore…

Design Space

Design Space is a free online tool that can unleash the creativity of would-be interior designers, whilst taking the uncertainty out of what type of blinds would look best in a room’s new colour scheme.

Apollo Blinds is the first window blind retailer in the UK to provide a ‘try before you buy’ visualisation tool, that allows you to:

– decide which window blinds and colour combinations work before making a purchase

– view venetian blinds, roller blinds, vertical blinds and pleated blinds in a range of colours and patterns

– visualise within a choice of room settings – from kitchens and modern bathrooms to traditional dining

Mike Stephen from Apollo Blinds said:  “It’s often difficult choose from the huge selection of window dressings available, this leads to many people playing it safe. Design Space gives you an accurate representation of how your ideas will look in real life.

“People now have the freedom to experiment with colour and pattern like never before – and I’d urge people to go wild, perhaps try clashing colours or test out darker or bolder hues; they might just find the winning combination that they’d never have dreamed of using without Design Space.”

Design space kitchen

Design Space is as easy as 1, 2, 3, 4

1)   Pick a room to decorate. Users can choose from a range of roomscapes to best match their interior at home.  Settings include living rooms, dining rooms, offices, children’s rooms, kitchens and conservatories in a choice of classic, traditional, modern, country and vibrant styles.

2)   Select a fabulous Apollo Blinds product to visualise.

3)   Experiment. Play around with different colours and designs for the product.  Change the colour of walls and accessories and even compare blinds by hanging a different design at each window (as shown in the children’s room below).

Children's Room

4)   Favourites can be stored by using the ‘add to favourites tab’.  These can then be requested as samples and downloaded as PDFs to take into store or to give to an Apollo Blinds design consultant.

Try out design space now.

10 Little Things I Do for Houseguests from The Kitchn

Monday, July 6th, 2015

We saw this post on The Kitchn and liked it so much we had to share it with you.

Depending on where you live and your proximity to a popular summer travel destination (the Grand Canyon? Disney World? New York City?) you may find yourself deep in houseguest season. I don’t live in a particularly touristy city, but I host houseguests frequently, and I think it’s part of the fun of having a house with room to share. In fact, in just a few weeks my husband’s brother and sister-in-law will be piling in with their three kids for a sleepover.

If you’re expecting a guest (or two, or five!), here are a few little ways I prep for them. All are small, and most help me as much as they help my guests!

In the Kitchen

First, let’s talk food, because what’s more important than feeding your guests?

1. Give your guests a meal game plan.

Houseguests come in all different flavors: there are the weekend family reunions, with every meal eaten together; there are the friends just using your place as a crash pad for a city visit; there are visits with little kids, and hence meal times are preset in granite; there are visits where your in-laws prefer to take you out to swanky restaurants every night. (Those are nice.)

I find it helpful and soothing to figure out what kind of meals a set of houseguests needs, and even to send an email ahead of time letting people know what to expect. It can be as simple as, “Hey, let’s plan on going out the first night you’re here, and I’ll handle dinner the other nights, plus some grab-and-go breakfasts. Lunches are on your own — we’ll give you lots of cafe recommendations for your days out!”

And of course, if you’re planning a big get-together with several families or groups, make a meal plan for who cooks when and let everyone sign up.

Just having a general set of expectations set in advance is helpful, and it helps me plan and shop.

Ask ahead about food allergies and preferences.

This is a fairly obvious to-do, but it’s worth mentioning! If you’re feeding several meals to guests, ask about allergies. And it’s also extra-hospitable, I think, to say something like, “Hey, we’ll have some breakfast things around — is there anything you really love to eat for breakfast?”

Delegate the coffee, depending on rising times.

Now let’s turn to the things that look and feel hospitable, but are really more for me than for the guests! If you have promised coffee to your guests (and I would argue that tea or coffee first thing in the morning is a non-negotiable aspect of hospitality) then set up your coffee and tea station in the kitchen and let your guests know how to get it going.

This allows for a variety of rising times and means that I (or, let’s be real here, my husband) won’t have to bolt out of bed first thing to make coffee for our virtuous early riser friend. Instead we say, “Here’s the French press and the kettle — you know how to use it!” Or, when we have a larger group, we haul out our monster drip coffee maker and set the timer for the earliest riser’s schedule.

Make a breakfast and some snacks ahead.

If I am handling breakfast, I always make something ahead — whether it’s just baked oatmeal, or some muffins (here are my favourites), or an egg casserole with sausage for those who want extra protein. Sometimes I pull out all the stops and make cinnamon rolls. Again, this keeps it simple in the morning. Sometimes I also make one special snack, like a dip and some crackers, to pull out during afternoon activities.

Set out breakfast bowls, spoons, and other accessories.

Last but not least, I always set out breakfast bowls, spoons, and mugs the night before, so if guests rise earlier than we do they don’t have to go digging through the cupboards.

In Other Parts of the Home

But the kitchen isn’t the only location of hospitality. Here are a few more things I do. None take a lot of time or money, but people always seem to appreciate them.

Your wifi password, prominently displayed.

The ultimate essential of modern hospitality? Internet access. We write our internet network name and password on old business cards of my husband’s and place them in the guest room. You could also tack one on the fridge for easy access.

Power strip under the bed.

Take a note from the thing hotels never seem to do, and give your guests easy access to power. Besides the total basics (clean sheets, a reading light by the bed), I find a power strip to be really helpful, especially in older homes like ours where the outlets are hard to find or not grounded. I always point out the power strip so people know there’s a spot to plug in all their devices.

Water by the bed.

I also place a carafe of water by the bed, with a glass or two. It’s a tiny touch, but one that always feels super grownup and classy — especially in the summertime when we’re always thirsty.

All the bathroom amenities.

If you have a spare bathroom for guests, as we do (our New York friends call this luxurious setup a Midwest hotel), then make sure it’s all prepped. Clean towels are a must, of course, but think what else people might need. I keep spare bottles of Trader Joe’s shampoo and conditioner in the shower, and face wipes and a hair dryer by the sink.

Flowers, anywhere you can.

The last little touch for guests — fresh flowers. They’re a luxury, but you don’t have to actually spend anything on them. I have a couple teeny bottles saved, and I like to put a sprig of herbs or flowers from the yard — any pretty weed will do — and set it by the guest room bed.

What else do you do for overnight houseguests? Is there anything that makes your life a little easier, especially when guests are staying for a few days or more?

Blog post shared from The Kitchn website.

(Image credits: Sophie Timothy; Kim Lucian; Brittany Purlee; Kim Lucian; Sabrina Friebis-Ruiz; Elissa Crowe)

#MyApolloView Winner Announced!

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

We’re truly excited to announce the winner of our 2015 #MyApolloView competition. Thanks to everyone who entered and who gave our judges an enjoyable and challenging job.

The judging panel have “oohed  and aahed” through over 400 entries. We’ve had stunning views from across the globe, far afield, close to home, land mark moments in life and captures of moments with friends and family – a big well done to you all.

Now, without further ado, come and see the winning entry by Lucy Pasifull @loobypas

#MyApolloView Winner

Lucy has won a fantastic prize worth more than £600 which includes a stay at Carden Park Hotel, Golf and Spa Resort near Chester and an Apollo Digi blind of their winning entry.

Congratulations Lucy!