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Are Oak Tree Diseases and Deforestation Leading to the Downfall of our National Tree?

Posted by admin on July 27, 2018 at 11:00 am. Filed under: General

‘There is no oak left’, ‘Foreign blight threatens very future of the proud English oak’, and ‘Britain’s oak trees are under threat’ – these are just some of the headlines from the national papers that have caused British tree lovers, like us, to worry. But are oak tree diseases and deforestation really leading to the downfall of our national tree?

(AOD) is a major factor. AOD first appeared in Britain about 30 years ago and it is caused by at least three types of bacteria. It affects both of our native oaks – the English oak (Quercus robur) and the sessile oak (Quercus petraea) – as well as other non-native species of Quercus. Initially, this oak tree disease causes the leaves to turn a pale green or yellow. Then, over several years, the tree starts to die back starting with the fine twigs, then the branches, and, in the worst cases, the whole tree eventually dies.

Stem bleed, a symptom caused by Acute Oak Decline (AOD)

Credit : woodlandheritage

Another problem, says Mike Tustin, chartered forester at John Clegg and Co, is how we harvest oak in our timber industries. He points out that because our UK sources are dwindling “we are now using the oaks our ancestors planted” and as there have been “no oak coming up to replace it. There is no oak left in England”.

But this dire outlook conflicts with evidence from Simon Hodgson, chief executive of the Forest Enterprise England, Forestry Commission. He states that over the past eight years the Forestry Commission in England planted almost 1.7 million oak trees. Furthermore, the government launched plans in June to plant 11 million new trees, an initiative overseen by Sir William Worsley who has taken on the role as the rather grand sounding “tree champion”.

In a recent survey coordinated by the Woodland Trust, the Ancient Tree Forum, the Tree Register and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, 1,200 new specimens of medieval and Tudor oaks were recorded, increasing the total number of ancient oak trees in England to 3,400. This figure is made all the more impressive when you consider that in mainland Europe alone there are only 2,000 ancient oaks in total. So perhaps the situation with our ancient oaks is not as serious Mike Tustin makes out.

Britain's favourite tree, The Major Oak, is believed to be between 800–1000 years old

Credit : Wikipedia

The timber industry aside, AOD is a serious disease that if not controlled will cause devastation. The Action Oak Partnership is a new campaign that was launched at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. It aims to protect UK’s oak trees from pests, such as the oak jewel beetle, and diseases that threaten their security. Led by Defra’s biosecurity minister, Lord Gardiner, the campaign, which is looking for £15 million of investment, combines the efforts of charities, environmental organisations, and landowners to help protect the 170 million oaks in England.

Project Purpose, led by Reading University, is also aiding in tackling the problem of AOD. Using its world-renown expertise in microbiology, climate science, forestry, and social science, Reading hope to tackle oak tree diseases and other causes of AOD in order to stop another, potentially more environmentally distressing, Dutch elm type incident.

How would you feel if the English oak went the way of the elm? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter pages to start a debate.


Creating Islands for Small Kitchens

Posted by admin on July 25, 2018 at 12:22 pm. Filed under: General

If you long for a kitchen island but you think you do not have the space for one, think again. There are plenty of options when it comes to choosing islands for small kitchens – some are just clever planning whilst others are ingenious design techniques. To help you achieve the look you desire, we have compiled this list of things to consider when creating an island in your small kitchen.

Making a Decision

An island is a useful and multifunctional feature to have. They can provide extra worktop and space, a place to eat and are also often used to separate the kitchen area from the rest of your house in an open or broken plan design. You could argue that in a small kitchen these benefits are even more valuable. Limited space should not mean you are unable to have an island that takes advantage of all of them – it really depends on what you want from your kitchen island.

Are you looking for a larger worktop area? Do you need more storage? Would you like to create a seating area? These are the questions that you need to ask before you start planning.

More Surface Area

Creating more worktop space is potentially one of the biggest benefits of an island in a small kitchen. When planning your kitchen island, you should consider is how you will use the space. Additional space for preparing food will often be the primary reason but you could also install a sink or hob or even use it to present some of your kitchen items like a fruit bowl or cookbooks.

Even islands for small kitchens add additional worktop space

Credit : Pinterest

Additional Storage

Kitchen islands can offer plenty of storage space for anything – from plates, bowls, and cups to vegetables or dry goods, or, as shown here, wine. Commonly, you will find them with closed cupboards but islands for small kitchens often feature open shelving as an additional tool for creating more space. This gives you the opportunity to display some of your more beautiful kitchen items but if you want to hide clutter away, you could opt for some attractive baskets.

Islands for small kitchens can have plenty of storage space if used correctly

Credit : Better Homes

Space for seating

Even small kitchen islands can have space for seating as long as you choose the right products – we suggest having stools rather than normal chairs. The lack of a back means that stools can be pushed right under the island, keeping precious floor space as free as possible.

It is best to use stools with a small kitchen island, to save precious floor space

Credit : Pinterest

Do not forget to leave your thoughts in the comments below or share your pictures of your islands for small kitchens on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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The Benefits of an L-Shaped Kitchen – and the Drawbacks!

Posted by admin on July 20, 2018 at 2:41 pm. Filed under: General

Whilst U-shaped kitchens are by no means outdated, there is another layout starting to come to the forefront of kitchen design. L-shaped kitchens are nothing new but people are waking up to the many benefits of this unorthodox style. In certain situations, more traditional kitchen layouts might not be practical, making way instead for the more suitable L-plan. But what are the benefits over a U-shaped kitchen, and are there any drawbacks?

Storage Space

Organising a long row of cupboards and draws down the long side of your kitchen, unimpeded by appliances such as integrated dishwashers and fridges, gives you far more space for storage. L-shaped kitchens, by their very nature, only have one corner cupboard, which can tend to be the most awkward storage space in a kitchen. This is one of the advantages they have over galley or U-shaped kitchens.

Compatibility with Open Plan Living

Of all designs, an L-shaped layout works the best with an open plan kitchen. The increasing interest of open plan living, might, in part, also explain why this style of kitchen is becoming more popular. Utilising the right angle, you can fit your cupboards neatly into the corner of your room, not only maximising your kitchen space but also the rest of your living area.

Space for Multiple Cooks

This could be controversial, especially if you are the type of person who does not like others under your feet whilst cook. For those of you who that does not apply to, this benefit is aimed at you. L-shaped kitchens more often than not, give you more workspace and room for an additional sink, all of which are handy if you need help preparing a meal.

Kitchen Islands

Having cupboards down only two of the walls frees up more floor space which could be used to install a kitchen Island – and even more storage. Unless you have a large kitchen, this would be impractical for other layouts. You might also be surprise at how much bigger your kitchen might feel with a kitchen island instead of a row of cupboards.

Highly Ergonomic

L-shaped kitchens are very ergonomic for small spaces because they effectively utilise the working triangle – a concept that is used to determine the efficiency of a kitchen. The three points on the triangle are the sink, hob and refrigerator. In theory, nothing other than yourself should intersect the area of working triangle and, as two of the three points will be located on one worktop, this is almost impossible. What is more is that there is no through traffic in an L-shaped kitchen, further increasing the efficacy of this layout.

The Disadvantage of an L-shaped Kitchen

You might be thinking that this design is perfect and has no flaws. In most cases this is true but be mindful that every kitchen and cook is different. What works for one, might not work for another. For instance, if your kitchen is either very small or very large, the L-shaped design is probably not going to work.

Do you have, or are you considering, an L-shaped kitchen? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Which aspects do you love and which are you not so keen on? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.


Creating an Outdoor Kitchen

Posted by admin on July 17, 2018 at 10:30 am. Filed under: General

2018 has – so far – been a record-breaking British summer. With the arrival of sweltering temperatures, more and more people are investing in creating an outdoor kitchen to take full advantage of the glorious weather. This is more than just a BBQ area – a true outdoor kitchen will encompass everything including storage, ovens, sinks, and dining tables. If this is something that you are considering, have a read of this post for advice on creating an outdoor kitchen that is both well designed and practical.

Try creating an outdoor kitchen that works with your house

Credit : idealhome


The first thing you need to think about is the proximity of your outdoor kitchen to your house. This will dictate which facilities to include. For example, if you are positioning it close to your house, you might not need to include storage space or a fridge, whereas those further away might benefit from the full works. Distance from your house is also important in terms of ventilation. The wind that travels over buildings can cause turbulence, causing smoke to be blown in all directions resulting in an uncomfortable dining experience. This is particularly important for wood-fired pizza ovens or something similar, as embers from the fire can reach up to 200°C. With wind direction in mind, consider the orientation of your cooking area so that your back is to the prevailing wind.

Add in a pizza oven when creating an outdoor kitchen

Credit : bhg


Now you know where you are going to position your outdoor kitchen, you can decide what you are going to put in it. Work out how often it will be used and for how many people. Frequently used kitchens that have to cater to many people will require larger or more grills, and the converse is true for less frequent use and smaller groups of people. The types of food you will cook also has an impact on the facilities. Will you include pizza or tandoori ovens? Perhaps you will install a more traditional BBQ grill. Either way, this will have an effect on the layout.

creating an outdoor kitchen with traditional cupboard doors

Credit : House Beautiful


Next comes the design. When creating an outdoor kitchen, you have to be mindful of functionality as well as the style. The materials you choose should complement your garden and surrounding area but be aware that the weather here in the UK is very unpredictable, so pick materials that are UV-stable and frost proof. Using the protection of a pergola roof is one method of reducing the environmental stress and fitting covers when you are less likely to use the kitchen will add further safeguards.

Designing an outdoor kitchen has fewer restrictions when compared to its indoor counterpart, however, the principles are the same. Outdoor kitchens by their very nature are social spaces so think about the layout in relation to guests as well as ergonomics – for example, the oven area could double up as a heater on colder nights.


If money is no object, creating an outdoor kitchen with the latest entertainment systems and culinary tech, such as weatherproof televisions, sound systems, and lighting, or smokers, rotisseries, and wine fridges might seem like a great idea. But consider what you actually need. Outdoor kitchens are a big investment but with careful planning they need not cost a fortune and are achievable on a smaller budget too.

Are you planning on creating an outdoor kitchen or do you already have one? We’d love to see your photos and hear your thoughts, so share them in the comments below or head over to Facebook and Twitter.


The Best Kitchen Plants that Clean the Air

Posted by admin on July 12, 2018 at 2:33 pm. Filed under: General

Houseplants have been having a resurgence in popularity over the past few years but until recently their use has been mainly for decoration. Keeping houseplants that clean the air is becoming increasingly popular, especially as there is a growing awareness of indoor airborne pollutants, such as benzene, TCE (trichloroethylene), formaldehyde, xylene, and ammonia. These pollutants can cause a range of health problems and can be circulated throughout your house, including your kitchen, via varnishes, detergents, tobacco smoke, and window cleaners or, in the case of vehicle exhaust fumes, through an open window. So, with that in mind, houseplants need not be restricted to the living room or bedroom. We have compiled this list of the best kitchen plants that clean the air for you to consider for your kitchen.

Peace Lily

The Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) is really effective at removing all five of the airborne pollutants mentioned above. It is a really useful houseplant to have because it is almost impossible to kill – great if you do not consider yourself particularly green-fingered. Peace Lilies are not big plants and do not take up too much space. Additionally, they require minimal light and are best for growing in darker rooms, making them ideal if you have a low light kitchen. Even if your kitchen is bright and airy, you could grow them in a shadier spot such as under a kitchen island. Keep them moist and feed every 6 to 12 weeks to make them flower every summer.


Chrysanthemums may seem a retro choice given their popularity through the 1970s, but they make great long-flowering kitchen plants. Like the Peace Lily, Chrysanthemums also clean the air of all five common kitchen pollutants. They are inexpensive too, costing far less than many the other plant in this list and can even be easily grown from seed. Chrysanthemums enjoy a well-lit situation so can be kept on your kitchen windowsill. Water them well and once they have finished flowering you could move them out of your kitchen and plant them in your garden.

Dragon Tree

There are many types of Dragon Tree (Dracaena) and each removes airborne toxins just as efficiently as the next. With several varieties to choose from of all of different sizes and colours, you can be sure to find one that is well suited to your kitchen. When young they are less than a meter high so can easily be grown in a pot on a kitchen table or island. As they mature you may have to move them to the floor – some species grow to just over two meters whereas others can reach four meters high! Unless you have incredibly high ceilings we recommend checking before you buy.

Mother-in-Laws Tongue

Removing four out of the five common airborne toxins, Mother-in-Laws Tongue, also known as the Snake Plant (Sansevieria), has easily made our list of best kitchen plants that clean the air. They are one of the best plants for injecting incredible architectural interest into a modern kitchen thanks to their strong, upright, variegated foliage. Mother-in-Laws Tongues are by far the hardest houseplant to kill as they prefer drier conditions and can last for incredibly long periods without watering. They are not fussy about light conditions either and although prefer a light kitchen, they do well in shadier spots too.

Ivy (Hedera)

You normally find Ivy (Hedera) growing up trees in woodlands but they also make great plants for kitchens. Ivy is naturally a climbing plant, but in kitchen situations it will hang over the edge of a pot, forming a weeping habit that will emphasise the quaint beauty of a traditional kitchen. Combined with solid oak worktops, cabinets or shelves, the dark leaves of Ivy not only look great but also remove four of the five airborne pollutants that can accumulate within your kitchen.

So now you know the secret benefits of houseplants, you can breathe easy knowing that your plants are cleaning your kitchen air. What are your thoughts on plants in the kitchen Let us know in the comments below or share your photos of your kitchen plants on Facebook and Twitter.


The Best Kitchen Tips on How to Sell Your House Quickly and For More Money

Posted by admin on July 9, 2018 at 4:21 pm. Filed under: General

When selling your house it can be difficult to know where to start, but we think that you should begin by making your kitchen as beautiful as you can. We have put together these kitchen tips on how to sell your house so that you can make the sale quicker and potentially get more money too.


The kitchen is the centrepiece of a home and many people look for one that is fresh, spacious, tasteful, welcoming, and well designed. But why bother remodelling your kitchen in the first place if you are just going to sell up and move on? There are two reasons – it can improve your chances of selling and can even increase your home’s value by up to 4%. If your home would benefit from a refresh and your budget allows for it, it is definitely worth investing in a new kitchen. Start by researching kitchen trends to find out what people are looking for, in particular trending colours and materials. In addition to deciding which worktops and kitchen cabinets to install, consider making the layout and design more user friendly. If you need inspiration, take a look at our kitchen gallery.


Kitchen remodelling might not be one of the most affordable ways to sell you house, especially if you have a limited budget. In this case you should consider updating smaller accessories such as handles and splashbacks – they can really transform a space. Repair wooden worktops and oil them to bring them back up to standard, and if all else fails, a new coat of paint can really freshen and uplift a kitchen.


This is one of the easiest and least expensive tips on how to sell your house. Hiring a professional cleaner for your kitchen is worthwhile and they are relatively inexpensive. Plus, it is a perfect way to free up some time that could be better spent focusing on other aspects of selling your house. If you have absolutely no budget for a professional cleaner cleaning is something that you quite easily could do yourself – but aim for a deep clean and not just a wipe down. Make sure your oven, hob, floors, worktops, cabinets, shelves, windows, and on display utensils are spotless.


You are almost ready to start accepting viewings but there is just one last push to help sell your house. Staging your kitchen to make it more appealing to potential buyers is a must, and if you are only able to do just of these kitchen tips on how to sell your house, this has to be it.

First things first, get rid of nasty odours. Clear out the bins well in advance and do not cook pongy foods like fish or curry the night before. Instead, bake some bread, brew some coffee, and introduce other appetising aromas.

You want your kitchen to look functional but too much stuff makes it look messy and gives the impression that you do not have a lot of worktop space. So, with that in mind, removing clutter is key. Keeping windows clear to let in maximum light is especially important if your kitchen is not very well lit because it brightens everything up and makes a kitchen feel bigger.

Potential buyers are likely to look inside your cupboards, so get rid of any unnecessary items and organise them neatly to give the impression of added storage space. The same goes for open shelving. A few well-placed objects are more effective at selling than a laden shelf.

Make the sink area shine. Ensure that there are no dripping taps and that they are clean of limescale. Do not leave old sponges, dishcloths, or brushes lying about, instead arrange them neatly or if possible, put them away. Displaying a collection of fancy soaps, washing-up liquid, and hand moisturisers is a handy tip to make your kitchen subconsciously appear more expensive.

Although clutter is bad, accessorising your kitchen with a few well-placed items makes all the difference. An attractive casserole dish on the hob, a well-presented cookbook in a stand on a kitchen island, or a pestle and mortar on a worktop can make a kitchen fell welcoming but keep in mind that you can overdo it. If you do not have space, fresh flowers and fruit or well-displayed cookbooks will do the trick just fine.

Are you selling your home soon? Will you use any of our kitchen tips on how to sell your house? Perhaps you have some tips of your own, if so please share them in our comments section and do not forget to share your thoughts on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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Kitchen History and Design: Regency to Edwardian

Posted by admin on July 5, 2018 at 3:28 pm. Filed under: General

To some, learning about kitchen history might seem daunting, dull or pointless, but in fact it can be a very useful design tool. For example, you might want to be sympathetic to the age of your property by designing a kitchen based on the period that it was built. Or, you might just love a specific decade and want to incorporate it into your home. Kitchens have changed dramatically over the years and are almost unrecognisable compared to how they once looked. Factors such as attitudes to food and cooking, socio-economic changes, design, and, of course, advances in technology have all shaped the way our kitchens have evolved. In this blog post, we will look at the design features from Regency, Victorian, and Edwardian eras and show you how you can replicate them in your own kitchen.

Regency kitchens

The Regency period brought about a lot of social, political, and economic change as well as advances in architecture – some of which were brought into the homes of the public. With their grand facades, Regency houses are instantly recognisable and inside this grandeur continues. However, in Regency times cooking was seen as a job for the servants, and as a result, kitchens were located in the basement, as far away from the main house as possible. Nowadays, the kitchens in regency houses are much more central and just as majestic as the other rooms in the house.

If you live in a Regency house, there are many features that you can introduce into your kitchen to make it feel more faithful to the period. Granite worktops are great for adding authenticity, however, they can be expensive. Instead, Granite Effect Worktops are a much more economical choice and give just as good an effect as the real thing. Belfast sinks together with bridge taps are a Regency match made in heaven, whilst adding twister drop handles or smooth cup handles to your drawers will give you elegant details that align perfectly with Regency kitchen history.

Victorian style kitchens

By the Victorian era, kitchens were still really only for the middle and upper classes. The appearance of a new culinary development – the three-course meal – indicated a significant change in attitudes towards food and meal times, and although the kitchen was still being located away from the main part of the house, grander, less utilitarian styles were starting to emerge.

In many ways, a Victorian style kitchen is similar to a Regency style and again we see belfast sinks helping to achieve the look. Large wooden tables hint at traditionalism but you could replace this with a kitchen island. Twisted pilasters were a feature that was quite common in a Victorian kitchen and the use of freestanding units to display your items, especially if those items are made from copper, is also a useful way to inject that Victorian feel.

Edwardian kitchens

The Edwardian period was a significant point in kitchen history. The use of gas and electricity was becoming more common and domestic boilers, ovens, and refrigerators were the brand-new technology of the era. Likewise, clean water was now almost universally available so sinks became a much more important feature than ever before. Sanitation was fast becoming of paramount importance and the kitchen reflected this by introducing surgical white glazed wall tiles and glass-fronted cabinets instead of open shelving.

If your house was built between 1890 and 1914, you might want to consider these design tips to create an Edwardian style kitchen. First of all, avoid copper materials as this was considered obsolete. Instead, use enamelled iron or something similar like these Edison D handles or Edison knobs. You should avoid open shelving and instead, install glazed doors. On the whole, kitchens were white because it was seen to be more hygienic, but bolder colours were often used on floors and furniture.

Do you have any kitchen history design tips to share with us? Why not comment below or share your thoughts and photos on our Facebook and Twitter pages.


10 of the Best Small Open Plan Kitchen Ideas.

Posted by admin on July 3, 2018 at 10:54 am. Filed under: General

Creating an open plan kitchen can take a lot of effort, especially if it involves any wall removal. You may not think it is an option if you have less space, but there are plenty of small open plan kitchen ideas included in this blog that show a more compact design can work just as well. If you have a small house this is a fantastic way to make your home feel much bigger, airier, and lighter. Of all of the open plan kitchen ideas that we found for smaller spaces, these were the best.

Dark and Light

Small open plan kitchen with dark colours

Credit : 4 Better Home

The wood in this small open plan kitchen might not be the darkest, but using dark colours, contrasted with paler shades is an effective way to make a room feel welcoming and open. The use of black floor tiles in the kitchen area effectively separates the kitchen from the living and dining areas without closing off any space.


Small open plan kitchen with curves

Credit : Ideal Home

Curves are a useful design tool in small open plan kitchens. Due to the nature of a small kitchen, you are more likely to walk into corners. These curves look fantastic and make the room appear more fluid – they could also be ideal if you have small children.


A traditional small open plan kitchens

Credit : 4 Better Home

This small open plan kitchen shows open plan designs can work equally as well in properties with period features. The wood around the bay window combined with the cornice gives this space a traditional feel. The white used throughout the room ensures it fresh and open, whilst the reflective upstand creates the illusion of additional space.

A Splash of Colour

Small open plan kitchen by Vjacheslav Zhugin and Olga Ursulenko

Credit : Home Designing

This small open planned kitchen has been designed by Vjacheslav Zhugin and Olga Ursulenko. The light colours and use of natural light make this 25 square meter apartment seem much larger than it actually is. The modest use of vibrant colours in an overall muted colour palette show that a neutral look need not be lacking in personality.

Layout and Orientation

Well laid out Small open plan kitchen

Credit : 4 Better Home

The layout of this small open plan kitchen has clearly been well thought out. By placing the kitchen cabinets along the narrowest edge of the room, the living space has been optimised. The subtle use of flooring materials and an area rug effectively divides up the space, further maximising the open plan design.

Contemporary Wooden Cabinets

Small open plan kitchen with wood cabinets

Credit : Home Designing

This small open plan kitchen also uses a light colour palette and the handle-less cabinet design ensures the profile of this kitchen is sleek and streamlined. The restrained use of colour means that your eyes are not overloaded, making for a space that is comfortable and easy to relax in.

Statement Furniture

Even small open plan kitchens can include large sofas

Credit : 4 Better Home

A small open plan kitchen does not mean you cannot or should not include a large piece of furniture. When done in the right way it can become a focal point rather than an eyesore and really pull the finer details of the rest of the room together, as in this case.


Ultra-modern small open plan kitchen.

Credit : Home Designing

Sharp lines and absolutely no colour apart from black, white, and grey make this small open plan kitchen ultra-modern. Whilst the style may not for everyone, the use of extra thin table legs and surfaces combined with the handle-less cabinets ensures all the furniture in this design takes up as little space as possible – making the room larger by maximising the free space.

Corner Kitchen

Islands in a small open plan kitchen

Credit : 4 Better Home

Using a kitchen island in a small open plan kitchen is a great way to divide up a space. Instead of running the kitchen cabinets along the back wall, the kitchen is confined to a corner, making room for a small yet stylish dining table.

Bright Colours

Bright colours are used to liven up a white small open plan kitchen

Credit : Ideal Home

Although there is quite a lot of brightly coloured furniture in this small open plan kitchen, the predominant colour is white. Even when colour is used, it has been restricted to blue, green, and purple, with an occasional splash of orange, which makes it a fun and funky kitchen without overpowering your senses.

If you have or are planning to create a small open plan kitchen, do any of these ideas inspire you? Which one is your favourite and white one do you hate? Comment below with your thoughts or share your opinions and pictures on Facebook and Twitter.

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