Gran designs: could building my mother an upstairs flat renovate our relationship? | Caroline Baum

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Friends thought we were mad and tried to dissuade us. Despite misgivings, we went ahead

When my elderly mother came to live with us, a granny flat was not an option. She needed more space than the typical one-room studio. Being frail and disabled, logic might have dictated that she take over the ground floor of our home and we build an upper floor extension for ourselves – the kind real estate agents promote as a “parents’ retreat”.

But, as a longtime top-floor apartment dweller used to expansive views, living downstairs did not appeal to her. She wanted her own self-contained area, with more privacy, away from our guest room and frequent visitors.

Related: My relationship with my mother has always been spiky. Now she's coming to live with me | Caroline Baum

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Floor paint and potted herbs: Five inexpensive ways to freshen up your home

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You don’t need to spend money on a statement sofa. Instead, think about your lighting and hunt down vintage pieces in markets and junk shops

It can be tempting – and expensive – to want to furnish a house in one go, but Alexandra Stedman, who runs the interiors and lifestyle site The Frugality, advises living in a space “for as long as possible. The best way of making a house a home is to build things up over time, with things that hold memories. It’s not about buying everything brand new, off the rack. It could be a picture you pick up at a car-boot sale and give a frame six months later, but then it fits that perfect spot on the wall that has been missing something.”

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Why we fell out of love with home improvement shows | Sam Wolfson

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The likes of Changing Rooms were a bulwark against consumer culture. With YouTube tutorials, we’ve lost that DIY radicalism

If I could go back in time and give the participants of 1990s home improvement shows one piece of advice, it would be this: never tell Carol Smillie about your hobbies. Give that woman the slightest inkling that you have a penchant for silent films and she’d turn your room into a monochromatic tribute to Charlie Chaplin. Mention you went on holiday once, and you’d find your house kitted out with deckchairs and beach balls.

The 1990s were a wonderful and bizarre period for factual television. Shows such as Changing Rooms, Ground Force and DIY SOS had, at their peak, millions of viewers. While many of the makeovers now seem horrifying and tasteless, the home improvement format showed how you could change your living space on a small budget – without needing to buy lots of new stuff.

YouTube videos are more useful than the makeover show: they offer specific advice needed to unclog your dishwasher

Related: Fix up, look sharp: how to mend more and buy less

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The best home makeovers – it's not all big windows and knocking through

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The Don’t Move, Improve! awards celebrate London’s most innovative architectural home renovations, from twisting walls to chequerboard floors

Archaeologists of the future, should they find themselves sifting through the rubble of early 21st-century London, will find a distinctive layer. It will contain taps and door handles of Nordic design and manufacture, long sections of structural steel and the remnants of sliding glass doors. There might be chairs designed by mid-20th-century Danes, if they haven’t rotted away: by Arne Jacobsen in the older part of the layer, by Hans Wegner in the later.

From this evidence the archaeologist will know that they are looking at a period that started around the dawn of the Blair era and continues until the present. It’s a long enough time – almost a generation – but one in which a remarkably consistent style of home improvement, a sort of metropolitan vernacular, has grown up. It is well represented in the shortlist for the Don’t Move, Improve! award for home makeovers, now in its 10th edition, and the subject of a forthcoming exhibition at the gallery space of New London Architecture. The winner will be announced on 11 February.

If modern...

#ProjectSpotlight: Anthracite Grey windows and doors

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Home improvement trends come and go, but if there’s one thing we can say is a sure bet, it’s that Anthracite Grey is here to stay. It might be a relatively new addition to the home improvement block, but it offers a little something that classic white, black and woodgrain features don’t necessarily have. It […]

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#AnglianAnswers: How do I keep my conservatory cool?

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It’s not often that we get such warm weather in the UK, but when we do, we want to take full advantage. That means sitting out in our conservatories and soaking up the sun when we can. But sometimes with the sun beating down without any mediation, things can get a little, shall we say, balmy. […]

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What makes a happy family?

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Thanks to blockbuster films, glossy magazines and social media stars, we can all be forgiven for comparing our own home set-up to the image of the perfect family every now and then. The reality is that the “perfect” family simply doesn’t exist, but a happy family sure does. We polled 1,000 British families to discover […]

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Fix up, look sharp: how to mend more and buy less

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It is surprisingly easy and satisfying to repair everyday textiles. Here’s how

An industrious weaver called Krysta Relyea recently wrote a post on Instagram saying she had just realised she owned enough pairs of jeans to get her through the rest of her life, provided she maintains her weight. “Of course, patches and new zippers will be a must,” she said. “Some just need a little altering.”

Search the terms with which she tagged that nugget – including #buynothingnew, #visiblemending and #makedoandmend – and a world of possibility opens up. Whereas visibly repaired clothes might once have been considered a sign of not being able to afford new ones, the mending movement celebrates the ingenuity our forebears deployed to make old things last. If your new year aim is to buck the national trend by not buying a suitcase-worth of new clothes – not to mention the new items to the value of £9,000 that the average household wastes or doesn’t use every year – mending skills may come in handy. Here are a few to get you started.

•Reversed Visible Hem• I realized, if I maintain my weight, I own enough of jeans, to last thru my lifetime. •Of corse, I like some better than others- - patches, and...

Household haze: how to reduce smoke in your home without an air purifier

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Air purifiers can be effective in fighting bushfire haze – the problem is many Australians cannot get their hands on one

On 1 January, Canberra experienced its worst air quality on record. Smoke from Australia’s devastating bushfires has now blown as far as Queenstown, New Zealand, forcing millions to become fluent in a new kind of jargon: AQI, PM2.5, HEPA and “hazardous”.

Since December, major retailers have reported selling out of air purifiers. Guardian Australia called JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys and Bing Lee in Canberra on 2 January: all three appliance stores confirmed they had run out of air purifiers across the region. Road closures and uncertainty around manufacturer delivery dates mean it can be difficult to predict when more will arrive.

Related: Australia is choking on smoke – so are air purifiers the answer?

Related: Will wearing a face mask protect me from bushfire smoke? – explainer

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Never too small: the aspiration and nauseation of micro-apartments

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A hit Australian YouTube show presents a vision of our housing future that’s both charming and off-putting

It’s hard to explain the exact appeal of Never Too Small. The YouTube series takes viewers on meditative tours of tiny homes from across the world. Yes the spaces are beautiful and the design innovative, but there’s a curdle in the architectural cream. The residences, which range from 22 to 40 square meters in size, are a curious mix of aspirational and off-putting. Part of you wants to live in these dreamy matchboxes, another wonders how anyone could.

Never Too Small began as a pet project for director and design fan Colin Chee, a way to engage with the architects he admired. It only took four episodes to realise he was on to something. With views growing daily, his employer – Melbourne-based production company NewMac – encouraged him to develop the series. Two years later the channel has drawn a huge following, boasting over 700,000 subscribers, with videos regularly bringing in millions of views.

A lot of people want to live in urban areas ... a way to make that work financially is to live in a much smaller space

Related: Are tiny houses and micro-apartments the future of...

The next asbestos? What you need to know about silica

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Silicosis, caused by dust particles from making stone benchtops, can kill. What’s being done?

TV programs and tightening credit are prompting more Australians to renovate their homes while evidence mounts that kitchen upgrades can have deadly consequences for tradesmen.

Silica from stone benchtops is responsible for serious and sometimes fatal health problems for the workers who cut and install these products.

Related: 'I feel robbed': stonemasons launch class action over silica dust exposure

One thing consumers could do is ensure they order natural stone

Related: Airport firefighters demand their blood be tested for toxic chemicals

“We may as well be making benchtops out of asbestos.”

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Get close to nature with Emma Martin

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Time to get closer to nature: Emma Martin shares her style secrets to help bring the outdoors in. Nature-inspired styling has been one of the biggest trends in interiors over recent seasons, and it looks as though it is here to stay.  According to Anglian Home Improvements, ‘biophilia’ is behind our desire to bring the […]

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Georgian home voted most popular by Brits!

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Georgian homes have been voted the most architecturally desirable property style in the UK, in a new poll we recently commissioned.  The elegant home style with symmetry and grandeur at the heart of its design favoured the best with Brits, followed by Victorian and Tudor homes. We commissioned the research to launch the Homes Across […]

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James Wong Teams Up With Anglian

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James Wong provides his top tips to help connect us to our outside world. Getting closer to nature has never been more important than it is today. From working longer hours to living so much of our lives online, we are all spending more time than ever indoors and away from the natural world. According to […]

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Women officially take up a staggering 65% of space in the house!

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A nationwide study has revealed British couples are locked in a bitter battle over space in their homes – with females taking up a staggering 65 percent of the house with their clothes, ornaments, books and gadgets. The study, conducted by Anglian Home Improvements, revealed that the average British man has only three drawers at […]

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Bathstore collapse leaves householders inconvenienced

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Administrators’ move to terminate plumber contracts leaves consumers without fully functioning bathrooms

Households have been left without washing and toilet facilities after Bathstore’s collapse left a trail of unfinished installations.

Bathstore’s administrators, the accountants BDO, wrote to all the firm’s subcontracted plumbers on Wednesday night terminating them “with immediate effect”.

What's the problem?

Current bathroom situation. @bathstore delivery delayed by over a week and just found out that #bathstore have gone into administration! Come on #bathstore, get those deliveries out #onlybathroominthehouse #bathroomrefurbgonewrong #help

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Stylish Room Trends

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Find out the latest room trends from this year's Ideal Home Show! Learn how to recreate the latest looks in your own home.

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Bunnings flatpack homes fly off the shelves – but only in New Zealand

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Pre-fabricated two-bedroom homes cost A$65,000, and four bedrooms up to $107,000

For those wanting to get on the housing ladder a trip to Bunnings – and New Zealand – may be in order.

The DIY specialist has reported a brisk trade for its selection of flatpack homes which have been on sale across the Tasman.

Related: 'National obscenity': Australia's story of housing boom and homelessness

Related: Tiny home communities: housing solution or gentrified trailer parks?

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Famous Front Doors

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A front door can be so much more than just an entrance to the home, Check out these famous doors, how does your door compare?

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Should I get hardwood or softwood timber windows?

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At Anglian we know it’s important to find the perfect windows for your home, after all, each house is unique. That’s why we individually design and craft windows using high grade timber and precision craftmanship, so your windows complement your home beautifully.  Our timber products come in hardwood and softwood. You decide on the timber […]

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Pools, ponds and 40ft aquariums: planning disputes of the stars

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Ed Sheeran’s home improvement ideas have run aground. So how does his tale fit in with the four great categories of celebrity planning permission stories?

To Suffolk, where it seems that Ed Sheeran has been running up against objections to his various home improvements. Things the singer has been allowed to build in the vicinity of his house include a four-room treehouse, an indoor swimming pool, an orangery and a wildlife pond. He has also won planning permission for a football pitch, a private beach and an underground “man cave” – I use the Times’s vocabulary here – which will include a music room and cinema.

But what of things that Sheeran hasn’t been allowed to build? They include a 24-seat chapel. Furthermore, he has now been asked to remove a 5-metre-long sign attached to the outside of his in-garden pub, on the basis that the barn which houses it is a listed building.

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Home improvements customers need stamina to conquer Everest

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Many sign up with the household name believing costly work will go smoothly. It’s not always so

The thrill of Everest is adventuring into the unknown. Even the most doughty stamina and resolve can’t guarantee those who commit to the journey will reach their goal. Which is why Britain’s second-largest double-glazing company seems aptly named.

Everest was the second choice of Michael and Catrin Poole when its rival, Anglian, declared the arched doors and windows they required could not be manufactured in uPVC. The Everest salesman, in contrast, was apparently confident even though his computer resisted his attempts to produce a design.

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Can a radical sofa help you explore your emotions?

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A new sharing platform lets you rent high-end furniture for your home – but living the designer lifestyle dream isn’t easy

For many of us, homes just happen. They slide into place – a trip to Ikea here, a broken bedhead there – until you find yourself buried in a taste you don’t remember acquiring. Part of this is due to a combination of choice-less choices. Like the reluctance to imprint oneself on a room that you’re renting and might leave a month later or the strangle-rules of a distant landlord. And money – how many of us can afford either the cost of an exquisite piece of design, or the time spent searching for it? Interior design, surely, is for the 1%.

Henrietta Thompson, founder of a new “sharing platform”, would disagree. Harth is a rental service for art and furniture, a sort of design Airbnb – an Eames rocking chair costs around £20 a month, a pair of 17th-century marble busts, £2,700. A design writer, Thompson was frustrated with the industry’s attitude to customers; either they’re encouraged to play it safe with “investment pieces”, or buy cheap, “fun” furniture that falls apart – each year, 800,000 tonnes of furniture goes to landfill. So she started approaching...