Category Archives: Do it Yourself

How to Make Austrian Blinds

Austrian Blinds are best described as a cross between blinds and curtains. This is so because they act like blinds but in terms of texture are closer to curtains. Austrian blinds have a number of cords that when pulled on will draw the bottom of the blinds up creating a scalloped look. It is this folded and unique look that differentiates them from other window treatments. Making these blinds is not an exceptionally difficult do-it-yourself task; however, the process is one that takes a lot of time and is best left until you have enough to complete the project.

Instructions

  1. To start, use a batten or Austrian blind track to take measurements. Hang it by the window, measure the distance from the top of it to the bottom of the window then add 20 inches. This addition is necessary so that the scalloping at the bottom of the fabric is present when closed. Batten is a thin strip of material, usually made from wood, steel or plastic but almost any solid material can be used. The width should be measured and doubled so that the blinds can be full. All materials will use these measurements.
  2. Frills are a popular feature of any classic design. Use strips of a ruffled fabric 4 inches wide to achieve each strip. These should be able to go around the bottom and sides of the blinds so make sure they are long. Use twice the length of the fabric and one time the width to arrive at a final number. You can determine the amount of strips needed by dividing the ruffle’s total length by its width. The shade material’s width should also be divided using the fabric’s width to determine how many panels are needed. Times the total length by the number panels needed and the figure received is the total length of fabric the job requires.
  3. Cut the ruffles then follow with the fabric and lining materials as is necessary. Stitch together your panels to form the total width of the blind, seams should be pressed open. Make one big ruffle but joining all the ruffles cut together.
  4. The seams for the body and ruffle can be a standard ¼ inch. Press ruffle seams flat with an iron. While pressing it down (with your palm), fold it under by another ½ inch, press with iron and sew.
  5. Place 2 rows of gathering threads at the top of ruffle and bring the size down around the sides and bottom of the blinds. Make sure the size is the right fit.
  6. With the main fabric stretched out on a flat surface and laying right-side up, pin ruffle onto fabric. Start 1 inch away from the top right hand corner and make sure main fabric’s right side is facing the ruffles’ raw side. Use the gathering stitches to make sure ruffles are even.
  7. Once the entire ruffle is pinned, use a machine to sew the areas between the gathering stitches and remove them (stitches) when done. Return material to the flat surface right side up, ruffles should be to the inside of the main fabric, wrong side up. At this point, place lining on top with the right side facing ruffle, the lining’s wrong side should be showing.
  8. Pin raw edges of ruffles, blind fabrics and lining together and stitch around bottoms and sides. Turn it right side out and use and iron to remove wrinkles.
  9. When hanging, double the length and add the width of the blind measurement to cut blind tapes from nylon cords. Attach the bottom right blind tape to the loop of the tape on the right-hand seam. Weave the cord through all the loops in the tape. Repeat the process with all the tapes. Use grip tape to fasten the blind to the batten. Screw-eyes should be fastened under the batten for blind tapes to be run, cord should be threaded left to right and gathered with an acorn. At the halfway point a cleat should be installed to the side of the window. (Reverse the instructions of blinds if it will be hung from the left side).

Emergency and First Aid

Increasing knowledge and advances in medicine constantly update first-aid techniques in the event of an emergency, but the emphasis remains on the prompt and proper care of the casualty by helping to alleviate pain and suffering. Whether first aid involves being able to deal with a suspected broken leg or stopping a nosebleed, it is vital to know the right steps to rake in order to prevent further complications and to reassure the casualty that they are in good hands.

Learning basic first-aid techniques is straightforward and is something that everyone should do. Knowing how to act in some emergency situations may well make the difference between life and death.

Animal Bites and Scratches

  1. All animals carry germs in their mouths and on their claws. When these penetrate the skin, the germs will be left in the muscle tissues and may cause infection if not cleaned thoroughly.
  2. Hold the wound under warm running water and wash the affected area with soap for at least 5 minutes to remove any saliva or dirt particles.
  3. Gently pat the area dry, and then wipe the wound with a mild antiseptic solution before covering it with a sticking plaster or sterile dressing.
  4. A serious wound should always he referred to hospital.

Broken Bones

  1. Always treat any doubtful cases of injured bones as if they were broken in order to prevent additional internal injuries. Do not attempt to move the casualty until the injured part is secured and supported, unless he is in danger
  2. If the broken limb is an arm, it may then be reasonable to take the casualty to hospital by car, otherwise call for an ambulance immediately.
  3. Do not give the casualty anything to eat or drink, as surgery may be required if bones are badly broken.

Treating a Broken Leg

  1. Ensure that the casualty remains still, and support the leg and below the injury with your hands. Move the uninjured leg against it and place padding between the knees, ankles and hollows.
  2. Using a scarf, tie or cloth, tie the feet together in a figure-of-8 to secure them, and tie on the outer edge of the foot on the uninjured leg.
  3. Immobilize the joints by tying both knees and ankles together. Lie additional bandages and below the injured area.
  4. Should the bone protrude through the skin, cover the wound with a sterile dressing or clean pad, and apply pressure to control the bleeding. Use a bandage to secure the pad and immobilize the limb.

Treating a Broken Arm

  1. Sit the casualty in a chair and carefully place the injured arm across his chest in the position that is most comfortable. Ask him to support the arm or place a cushion underneath it to take the weight.
  2. Use a shawl or piece of sheeting (approximately 1sq in / 1yd in size) and fold it diagonally into a triangle. Slide this under the injured arm and strap the arm using a wide piece of fabric, then secure by tying the ends by the collarbone on the injured side.

Burns and Scalds

  1. Immediately douse the burned or scalded area in cold running water.
  2. Gently try to remove any jewellery or constricting clothing from near the burn before it starts to swell.
  3. Keep the affected part in cold water for at least 10 minutes, then place a clean dressing over the horn and gently bandage it.
  4. Any injury larger than 2.5cm / 1in will require treatment at the hospital.

Treating Burns

  1. Never break blisters.
  2. Never use a sticking plaster.
  3. Never apply butter, lotions or ointment to the affected area.

Choking

  1. Remove any food or false teeth from the mouth, but never attempt to locate the obstruction by putting your fingers down the casualty’s throat, as this can push the obstruction further in.
  2. If the casualty becomes unconscious this may relieve muscle spasm, so check to see whether he has begun to breathe. If not, turn him on his side and give 4 blows between the shoulder blades. Should this fail, place one hand the other just below the rib cage and perform abdominal thrusts. If the casualty still does not start to breathe, call immediately for an ambulance and give the kiss of life.
  3. If a choking casualty becomes unconscious, kneel astride him and, placing one hand the other, perform abdominal thrusts.

Dealing with a Choking Person

  1. Bend the casualty forward so that the head is lower than the chest, and encourage him to cough. If this does not dislodge the object, sharply slap him up to 5 times between the shoulder blades using the flat of your hand.
  2. If this fails, stand behind him and grip your hands together just below the rib cage. Pull sharply inwards and upwards from your elbows to deliver up to 5 abdominal thrusts.11 times of this action will cause the diaphragm to compress the chest and should force out the obstruction. If the blockage still remains, repeat the process of 5 hack slaps followed by 5 abdominal thrusts.
  3. If a child is choking, place him across your knees with the heel down. Holding him securely, slap smartly between the shoulder blades (using less force than that required for an adult) to dislodge the object. If the child continues to choke, sit-in on your knees and, using just one clenched hand, perform gentle abdominal thrusts to avoid causing injury.
  4. If a baby or toddler is choking, lay him along your forearm with the head down, using your hand to support the head. Use your fingers to slap the baby smartly between the shoulder blades, but remember to use less force than you would for an older child.
  5. If the baby fails to start breathing, turn him over on to his hack so that the head is tilted down. Using only 2 fingers, apply up to 4 abdominal thrusts just the navel by pressing quickly forwards towards the area of the chest.

Home Interior Decorating

The best way to get an objective view of your home’s interior condition is to imagine that it is up for sale and to view it in the role of a prospective purchaser. The aim of the exercise is not to give rise to a severe bout of depression on your part, but to determine what exists in the home and what could be done to change or improve it.

Start at the front door, and step into the hallway. Is it bright and well lit, or gloomy and unwelcoming? A lighter Colour scheme could make a narrow area appear more spacious, and better lighting would make it seem more inviting. Decorating the wall opposite the front door would make a long hall appear shorter, while changing the way the staircase is decorated could make it a less or more dominant feature.

Is the staircase well lit, for safety’s sake as well as for looks? Opening up the space beneath the stairs could get rid of what is typically an untidy glory hole (storage room), taking up space without saving any. Lastly, are the wall and floor coverings practical? The hall floor is bound to be well-trodden, and needs to be durable and easy to clean as well as looking attractive.

Choose an integrated decorating scheme for the hallway, stairs and landing -area. Bring down the apparent ceiling height using a dado (chair) rail or decorative border. The living room has to be light and airy during the day, yet cozy and comfortable in the evening. The fireplace and a central table provide the main focal points here.

Now move into the main living room. This is always the most difficult room in the house to decorate and furnish successfully because of its dual purpose. It is used both for daily life and to entertain visitors. It must be fresh and lively by day, yet cozy and peaceful in the evening. One of the chief keys to success is flexible lighting that can be altered to suit the room’s different uses, but the decorations and furnishings all have their part to play too.

Look at the color scheme. How well does it blend in with the furnishings, the curtains and drapes, and the floor covering? Are there any interesting features such as a fireplace, an alcove, an archway into another room, even an ornate cornice (crown molding) around the ceiling? Some of these features might benefit from being highlighted with special lighting, for instance, while other less attractive ones would be better disguised.

Next, examine how the room works. Are ‘traffic routes’ congested? Are the seating arrangements flexible? Are there surfaces on which things can easily be put down? Does any storage or display provision look good and work well? Can everyone who is seated see the television? Does everyone want to? Assessing the room in this way reveals its successes and failures, and shows how to eliminate the latter.

Continue the guided tour with the dining room, or dining area. This is often the least used room in the house, so its design tends to be neglected. As it is generally used for just one purpose, eating and it needs to be decorated in a way that avoids visual indigestion. Warm, welcoming color schemes and flexible lighting work best in this location; strident patterns and harsh colors are to be avoided.

Now turn to the kitchen. Whatever type of room this is, the most important consideration is that it should be hygienic, for obvious reasons. Are the various surfaces in the room easy to keep clean, and to redecorate when necessary? Are there dust and grease traps? Is the lighting over the hob (burners) and counter tops adequate? Is the floor covering a practical choice? As the kitchen is often the hub of family life, it needs to be functional but adaptable, and also pleasant to be in so that the cook does not mind the time spent slaving over a hot stove.

Bathrooms have their own special requirements, mainly revolving around combining comfort with a degree of waterproofing, especially if there are young children in the family. Are the decorations and floor covering suitable? How well do they complement the bathroom suite? What about the space available within the room? Could congestion be relieved by moving things around, or by moving them out altogether? Having a shower instead of a bath, for example, could create kits of extra space. Could a second bathroom be created elsewhere in the house? Otherwise, putting washbasins in some of the bedrooms could take the pressure off the family bathroom during the morning rush hour.

Lastly, we come to the bedrooms. The bed is the focal point of the room, so the way it is dressed will be the main influence on the room’s appearance. The color scheme also has its part to play in making a bedroom look comfortable and relaxing. Remember that the room’s occupant will see it from two viewpoints on entering, and from the bed, so take this into account when making your assessment. What about the ceiling? In the one room where people actually spend some time staring at it, does it deserve something a little more adventurous than white paint? Is the floor covering warm to the touch of bare feet? In a child’s room, is it also capable of withstanding the occasional rough and tumble or a disaster with the finger paints? Lastly, is the lighting adequate for all requirements? Most bedrooms need a combination of subdued general lighting and brighter local task lighting for occupations such as reading in bed, putting on make-up or tackling school homework. Some changes here may make the room function much more satisfactorily.

Once your tour around the house is complete, you should have a clear picture of its condition and how well it works, and some ideas as to how it might be improved. All you will have viewed is as a whole, not just as a series of individual rooms. That is the first step towards creating an attractive, stylish and practical home.

Fixing Electric Fan

In every house stale, moist air must be removed and replaced with fresh air from outside. This happens not only in an obvious way when a window is opened or an extractor fan switched on, but all the time. For example, air passes up chimney flues, or finds a way out through the inevitable small gaps in the house structure.

Unless power ventilated, most modern houses have very little chance of such natural ventilation because improved standards of insulation and draught proofing have made them much more airtight than formerly.

Decide on the fan position, and then mark the outline of the ducting on the wall outside. Drill holes right through the wall to mark it on the inside as well.

The heating hills and keeps the house’s occupants warm and comfortable. The danger, however, is to prevent the occupants creating too much moisture for the air to hold. If this happens, condensation will be the inevitable result, and extra ventilation will then be needed.

This reduction in natural ventilation not only causes trouble within the house, it can also affect its structure. Two particular problem areas are roof spaces and under-floor voids. To prevent it, more ventilation must be provided via ridge and eaves-level vents in roofs, and air-bricks in walls.

  1. Decide on the fan position, and then mark the outline of the ducting on die wall outside. Drill holes right through the wall to mark it on the inside as well.
  2. Drill a series of closely spaced holes through the wall from inside, working within the guide holes drilled from outside. Repeat on the wall outside.
  3. Chop out the brickwork with a wide bolster (stone-cutter’s chisel) and club (spoiling) hammer, again working from inside and outside the house.
  4. Use ducting for a cooker (stove) hood with a short length of pipe, then use connectors as required connecting the hood to the outlet.
  5. Wall-mounted fans usually need a round hole. Cut it out, line it with a short length of sleeking and make good around it inside and outside using plaster.
  6. Fit the fan into the sleeking, ready for its electrical supply to be connected. Put a cover grille to the outside end of the fan ducting.

For ventilating rooms, what is needed is some controllable means of getting rid of excess moist air without wasting too much valuable heat. In habitually steamy rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms, an extractor fan is the best solution. It will extract the moist air quickly, and will also help to get rid of unwanted smells.

In other rooms, it is worth considering fitting small ‘trickle’ ventilators at the top of window frames and putting in extra airbricks, as these will often supply enough ventilation to allow the moist air to disperse before condensation becomes a problem.

Fitting Extra Air-bricks

  1. Air-bricks are available the same size as one, two or three bricks. To fit one, start by drilling a series of closely spaced holes through the wall.
  2. Use a club hammer and a bolster (stone-cutter’s chisel) to cut out the brickwork. With solid walls, drill holes right through and also work from inside.
  3. Fit a cavity litter if the wall is of cavity construction, and then carefully trowel a bed of fairly wet mortar on to the bottom of the opening.
  4. ‘Butter’ mortar on to the top of the air-brick and slide it into the opening. Push Mortar into the gaps at the sides and park it down weld
  5. Use drier mortar to point neatly all around the air-brick. Inside, make well the wall with plaster and cover the opening with a ventilator grille.
  6. As an alternative to a terracotta air-brick, fit a plastic type.  Interlock the sleeves to the hole as the two parts are pushed together.
  7. Slide the outer section into place, and point around it. Then slide the inner section in place from inside the house, and fit its cover grille

Safe Ventilation

Airbricks are available the same size as one, two or three bricks. To fit one, start by drilling a series of closely spaced holes through the wall.

Paperhanging Tools and Equipment

As for painting, there are 2 distinct groups of tools, equipment and materials to deal with wall coverings.

Stripping tools

The basic: technique for removing an old wall covering is to soften the paste used to stick it to the wall so that it can be scraped off and discarded. To strip porous materials such as ordinary printed paper and the hacking paper left behind after dry-stripping vinyl wall covering, use a bucket of water and a sponge or a garden spray gun to apply the water, dust sheets (drop cloths) to protect floor coverings, and abroad-bladed scraping knife to remove the softened paper.

To remove wall coverings with a water-resistant plastic or painted surface, it is necessary to pierce the surface film and so allow the water to penetrate. This can be done with a serrated wallpaper scraper or preferably a toothed roller or wheel, which is rolled backwards and forwards over the surface to create hundreds of little perforations. The water will take longer to penetrate this type of wall covering.

Stripping can be sped up dramatically on coated wall coverings(and also on paper-backed fabrics and texture paints) by using a steam stripper. This consists of a perforated steaming plate and a water reservoir heated by electricity or bottled gas. Steam penetrates the surface far more quickly than water does, enabling the covering to he stripped more quickly and effectively.

Paperhanging tools

‘There are 4 separate operations involved in hanging a new wall

covering: earring to length, pasting, hanging and trimming.

For cutting, the tools are a retractable steel tape measure, a pencil and a pair of scissors (or a sharp utility knife and a steel straight-edge).

For pasting the wall covering, there should be a bucket in which to mix the paste (unless using ready-mixed tub paste), plus a stirrer and a brush with which to apply the paste. A standard10 cm/4 in wide paintbrush is usually satisfactory, but special pasting brushes can be bought.

When choosing the paste, follow the instructions for the wall covering concerned. In particular, remember that a paste containing a fungicide should he used for washable and vinyl coverings, to prevent mold from growing in the paste as it slowly dries under the impervious covering.

A special overlap adhesive is needed for lap joints in internal and external corners when using washables or vinyls.

All that is needed when hanging a ready-pasted wall covering is a large plastic soaking trough in which you can immerse the rolled-up lengths of wall covering.

Before starting hanging, a plumb bob and line are needed to mark it true vertical line on the wall against which to hang the first length.

Most wall coverings are applied with a special soft-bristled paperhanging brush. These are generally between 19 cm/71/2 in and 25 cm/10 in wide, and have a slim handle. The soft bristles help to make the wall covering follow the contours of the wall surface beneath, and also eliminate undue hand contact with the lace of the covering, which might mark it.

A sponge can be used instead of a brush for hanging washables or vinyls, especially if they are ready-pasted, since here the sponge helps to mop water from the surface of the wall covering as well as smoothing it into place.

The final stage is trimming, and the best tool for this is a special pair of paperhangers’ scissors. These have blades up to 30 cm/12 in long for making long, straight curs.

For papering walls, a stepladder is needed which should be tall enough to enable the ceiling to he easily touched. For papering ceilings, set up a proper platform across the width of the room at a comfortable  height, using scaffold boards or staging on trestles or other low supports to ensure complete stability. Do not step trout chair to chair or set up similar dangerous makeshift arrangements.

A flat surf tee is needed to lay the paper on while it is being pasted. It is best to use a proper pasting table. This is a lightweight folding table covered in hardwood or plywood on a softwood Mime, and is usually about 1.8 m/6 ft long and just wider than a standard roll of wall covering. If you cannot buy, borrow or hire a pasting table, one can be improvised by cutting a standard sheet of plywood or chipboard (particleboard) down to the same width and supporting it on trestles or sawhorses.

Wood Storage

The garage is a favourite place to store all manner of things, including tools and materials for do-it-yourself, gardening and car maintenance. Unless these are kept under control, they will spill over until there is no room for the car. The solution is to build a shallow of full-height storage unit along either the side or the end wall of the garage, tailor-made to suit whatever will be stored there.

The design concept of the storage wall is quite simple, and is based around creating bays offering different storage facilities. One can have floor-to-ceiling shelves, another drawer system using plastic washing-up bowls (washbowls) sliding on wooden support strips. The next bay can offer full-height open storage for stepladders and scaffold boards, and another wider one provides space to store sheet materials neatly on edge beneath a wall-mounted rack for hanging up things such as a portable workbench or a set of car ramps. Simply select whatever types of bay are needed, and arrange them in any order.

The structure is based on ladder frames fixed to the wall to support shelves, drawers and whatever else is required. The frame is made mainly from 50 mm/2 in square sawn softwood, with 75 x 25 mm/3 x 1 in wood for the shelves and the slatted hanging rack. The hinged section drops down to allow sheets of plywood and the like to be placed on edge behind it, and is held shut with a simple hasp and staple at each side. The wall-mounted rack allows heavy items to be hung safely out of the way yet readily to hand on metal S-hooks.

  1. Start by securing the uprights to the garage wall to form the various bays. Check that each is vertical before fixing it in place.
  2. Set sole plates on something proof (here sheet vinyl flooring), and screw them down into wall plugs in holes drilled in the garage floor.
  3. Simply nail components together as required to form the frames making up each bay. Add horizontals to support shelves or plastic bowl drawers.
  4. To make up the drop-down flap for the sheet materials storage bay, hinge the two front uprights to their faceplates and add a cross rail
  5. To make up the wall rack, nail on the slats, using a loft-cut as a spacer. Make the shelves in the same way, nailing the slats to 50 x 25 mm/2 x1 in hearers.

Lawn Weed Control

The only place where weeds are acceptable is in a wildlife corner, although some people find daisies in the lawn a very attractive feature. Generally, however, weeds have to be controlled.
Any perennials that arise from small pieces of root left in the soil should be dug out, as should any suckers, and any seedlings should be hoed off.

It is inevitable that there will be some annual weeds appearing from time to time around plants, such as climbers, but, if these are removed before they set their seed, their numbers will gradually drop as the reserve of seed in the soil is used up.

There are two main weapons if you want to cut down on weeding: mulching, which uses no chemicals, and herbicides.

Killing weeds in beds and borders

Although there are herbicides that will kill some problem grasses growing among broad-leaved plants, generally you can’t use selective weed killers in beds and borders. Most herbicides will kill or damage whatever they come into contact with, but there are ways in which you can use herbicides around ornamental plants to minimize the amount of hand weeding necessary.

You may be able to treat areas in a shrub border with a watered-on weed-killer simply by shielding the cultivated plants. If deep-rooted perennials are not a problem you can use a contact weed killer that will act rather like a chemical hoe (a real hoe may be an easier alternative to mixing and applying a weed-killer if the area is small enough).

Deep-rooted perennial ‘problem’ weeds, such as bindweed, are best treated by painting on a trans-located weed-killer such as one based on glyphosate. Ordinary contact weed-killers may not kill all the roots, but this chemical is moved by the plant to all parts. Even so, you may have to treat really difficult weeds a number of times for long term eradication. Use a gel formulation to paint on where watering on the weed-killers may cause damage to adjacent ornamentals.

Mulching

Once the soil is clean, applying a mulch will do a great deal to help to keep weeds under control. It will not prevent perennial weeds that are already established from coming up but it will prevent any further germination from the seed in the soil. It will also reduce the amount of moisture lost to evaporation. A wide variety of materials can be used.
The main advantages of loose organic mulches are that they look attractive, can often be homemade (and are therefore inexpensive), and are gradually incorporated into the soil by the activity of worms, adding to the organic-matter content. It is important to top them up every year if they are to remain effective.

Inorganic mulches, such as black plastic and woven membranes, are less pleasing to the eye but provide a much more effective barrier against weeds. They are most useful in shrub beds that can be left undisturbed for some years, and are best used when the bed or border is newly planted. When using inorganic mulches, always prepare the ground as thoroughly as you would if not using a mulching sheet.
It is possible to use a combination of both types of mulch. Lay the artificial material, then cover it with an even layer of bark or gravel. This creates the best of both worlds, providing good protection against weeds and a pleasing appearance in the garden.

Weeds in lawns are best controlled by a selective hormone weed-killer, ideally applied in mid- or late spring. These are usually applied as a liquid, using a dribble bar attached to a watering-can. To ensure even application you should mark out lines with string, spacing them the width of the dribble bar apart.

Always mix and apply the weed-killer as recommended by the manufacturer. There are a number of different plant hormones used in those products, some killing certain weeds better than others, so always check that it is recommended for the weeds you most want to control. If your lawn also needs feeding, you can save time by using a combined weed and feed. The most efficient way to apply these — which are likely to be granular rather than liquid— is with a fertilizer spreader. Check with your local nursery, if unsure.
If you have just a few troublesome weeds in a small area, it is a waste of time and money treating the whole lawn. For this job, a spot weeder that you dab or wipe onto the offending weed will work well.

Mulching with grass cuttings

Grass cuttings are readily available in most gardens. They are not the most attractive form of mulch but can be used effectively at the back of borders, where they are not easily seen. Do not heap them on thicker than 5 cm/2 in or they may heat up too much as they decompose, harming the plant. Do not use cuttings from lawns that have recently been treated with a lawn herbicide which might harm the plant

WEEDING BY HAND

  1. The advantage of hand-weeding is that you can thoroughly check which weeds are present and can take more rigorous action if perennials are spotted. At the same time, it also enables you to spot any seedlings produced by plants that you may want to transplant or pot up.
  2. Hoeing is quicker than hand weeding and allows you to get round more frequently. It is very effective against annual weeds but chopping the top off a perennial does not kill it and it will soon re-emerge. Do not dig too deeply with the hoe or you may disturb the plant’s roots.

USING A LOOSE MULCH

First, prepare the ground thoroughly, digging it over and working in plenty of organic material such as rotted manure or garden compost if the soil is impoverished. Dig up deep-rooted perennial weeds, otherwise they could grow through.

Then water the ground thoroughly. Do not apply a mulch to dry ground. Finally, spread the mulch, such as the hark mulch shown here, thickly over the ground.

INSTALLING A SHEET MULCH

  1. Make a slit around the edge of the bed with a spade, and push the sheet into this. For a vegetable plot you can use special plastic pegs, but these are too conspicuous for an ornamental position.
  2. Make cross-shaped planting slits in the sheet with a knife or scissors. If planting a shrub you will probably have to make slits large enough to take a spade for planting. This won’t matter as the sheet can be folded back into place.
  3. Small plants can be planted with a trowel, but for shrubs you will need to use a spade. Provided the ground has been well prepared before the sheet was laid, it should be easy to dig out the planting hole.
  4. Although most of the sheer mulch will be hidden as the plants grow, it will be very conspicuous initially. A layer of a decorative mulch such as chipped-bark or gravel will make it much more acceptable.

Laying a Foam Backed Carpet

Laying a traditional woven carpet can be a difficult task for the amateur to undertake, because the carpet must be correctly tensioned across the room by using gripper strips and a carpet stretcher if it is to wear well. Because of the cost of such carpet, it may be considered best to leave the job to professionals. However, there is no reason why you should not get some practice by laying less-expensive foam-backed carpet in, for example, a spare bedroom. It is possible to disguise any slight inaccuracies that creep into the cutting and fitting process more easily here than when using smooth sheet floor coverings such as vinyl, so a job such as this would be an excellent introduction to the general technique of laying roll floor coverings.

Start by putting down a paper or cloth underlay on the floor, taping the joins and stapling down the underlay so that it cannot creep as you lay down the carpet. Unroll the carpet right across the room, with the excess lapping up the walls. Using a sharp utility knife, roughly trim the excess all around the room, leaving approximately 5 cm/2 in for final trimming. Carefully make small cuts at any external corners such as around a chimney breast (fireplace projection), and let the tongues fall back into the alcoves, then trim off the waste carpet nearly across the face of the chimney breast.

Next, press the carpet into internal corners and mark the corner point with a finger. Make cuts to remove the triangle of carpet from the internal angle. Finally, trim the perimeter by drawing a knife along the angle between the skirtings (baseboards) and wall, and secure the edges with double-sided adhesive rape. Fit a threshold (saddle) strip across the door opening to give a neat finish.

  1. Before laying a foam-backed carpet, put down a paper or cloth underlay to keep the foam from sticking to the floor. Tape any joins and staple the underlay in place.
  2. Stick double-sided adhesive tape all around the perimeter of the room, leaving the top backing paper on the tape. Unroll the carpet and position it so that it laps up the room walls.
  3. Butt the edge of the carpet up against the longest straight wall in the room. Peel the backing paper off the tape end. Bed the edge into place.
  4. Work the carpet across the floor to the opposite wall to ensure that it is lying flat. Trim this edge against the skirting (baseboard) and then tape it down as before.
  5. Make cuts at internal and external corners in order to bed the carpet on to the tape. Trim excess carpet by drawing a knife along the angle, taking care not to trim away too much.
  6. Use adhesive seaming tape to join pieces of carpet together where necessary in particularly large rooms. Applied pressure from a wallpaper seam roller will ensure a good, lasting bond.

CUTTING CARPET TILES

Carpet tiles are among the simplest floor coverings to lay, because they are highly tolerant of any slight inaccuracy in cutting to fit. The cheapest types are usually plain in colour and have a very short pile or a corded appearance, while more expensive tiles may have a longer pile and are available in patterns as well as plain colours. Most are designed to be loose-laid, with just the edges and door thresholds (saddles) secured with hands of adhesive or double-sided tape. This makes it easy to lift individual tiles for cleaning or to even out wear.

Most carpet tiles are marked on the back with an arrow to indicate the pile direction. Align these for a plain effect, or lay them at right-angles to create a chequer board effect. When you are satisfied with the layout, lift the perimeter tiles and put down double-sided tape all around the twin. Peel the backing paper off the top of the tape and press the tiles into place. Finish off the doorway with a Threshold (saddle) strip.

  1. Measure the size of the cut tile required and mark the back accordingly. Cut the tile from the back on a cutting board, using a sharp utility knife and a metal straightedge.
  2. After cutting cleanly through the backing, separate the 2 halves and trim away any frayed pile with scissors. Lay the cut tile in place.

Choosing Your Own Flower Arrangements

When choosing your own flower arrangements it is important to remember that the displays selected should adequately match the look and feel of each room. The best way to do so is to take into consideration the function of each. Since the functions differ so too should the displays vary to ensure that those chosen are appropriate. Another factor that can help to determine appropriate arrangements is the season. Summer will treat some flowers differently and while some may thrive in winter, they may not be the best choice at other points in the year.

Where do I Put Flower Arrangements?

The dining room is one of the rooms that are often popular since family dinners and gatherings are often kept here. Dinner invitations play a big role in most families’ social lives which means that having company at the dinner table is a frequent thing. Be sure to choose an arrangement that flows with the theme of the room since this is more than likely going to be noticed. If multiply arrangements are being used, be sure to have complimenting arrangements. You can use flowers that are related or similar but vary in hues.

A centre piece on the table can give any dining room a makeover without much being changed. Be sure to match arrangements to present décor or find one that contrasts but doesn’t conflict so that it can not only catch the attention of visitors but also brighten the room instead of blending in. Be sure to check each angle to ensure that the desired effect is captured no matter how it is turned. A centre piece that is truly successful is one that impresses no matter what angle it is being viewed from. Thinning or flaws are bound to be obvious.

Living rooms with fireplaces give the perfect opportunity to create a floral arrangement using seasonal plants. Textures and hues of flowers chosen should match the seasons; summer time calls for shades of greens and blues while winter best suits yellow, red and orange.

Dried-flower arrangements are ideal for the bathroom. For example, dry-flower arrangements may require shallow glass bowls with grooved patterns (color depending on the color of dried petals). A tinted one would be perfect for an arrangement that uses a scented candle as the focal point since the candle when lit may reflect on the glass and give it a ‘glow in the dark’ effect.

The kitchen windows can be decorated with pots of your favorite herbs since they can serve culinary as well as beautification purposes. Use herbs that can handle the heat and be mindful to keep them fresh. Hanging arrangements made of foliage plants, grass and grains can also be used.

Regardless of the room, the right container for your flowers will enhance the beauty of your arrangements. Painting old pots and pans can help to achieve looks from other eras, so too can ceramics and glass containers whether clear, colored, plain or patterned. Length, width and type of flowers will help determine suitable containers as well as season and themes.

How to Make a Stencil

Materials

A variety of materials can he used for stencilling, from special stencilling paints and sticks to acrylics and latex. Each has its own properties and will create different effects.

Acrylic stencil paint: acrylic stencil paint is quick-drying, reducing the possibility of the paint running and seeping behind the stencil. Acrylic stencil paints are available in a wide range of colours, and can be mixed for more subtle shades.

Acrylic varnish: this is useful for sealing finished projects.

Emulsion (latex) paint: ordinary household vinyl emulsion can also be used for stencilling. It is best to avoid the cheaper varieties, as these contain a lot of water and will seep through the stencil.

Fabric paint: this is used in the same way as acrylic stencil paint, and comes in an equally wide range of colours. Set with an iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions, it will withstand washing and everyday use. As with ordinary stencil paint, do not overload the brush with colour, as it will seep into the fabric. Always back the fabric you are stencilling with scrap paper or newspaper to prevent the paint from marking the work surface.

Gold leaf and gold size: these can be used to great effect. The actual design is stencilled with gold size. The size is then left to become tacky, and the gold leaf is rubbed over the design.

Metallic creams: these are available in many different metallic finishes, from gold to copper, bronze and silver. Apply as highlights on a painted base, or use for the entire design. Creams can be applied with cloths or your fingertip.

Oil-based stencil sticks and creams: the sticks can be used in the same way as a wax crayon, while the creams can be applied with a brush or your fingertip. With either one, there is no danger of overloading the colour, and they won’t run. The disadvantage is their long drying time (overnight in some cases); also, the colours can become muddy when mixed. Sticks and creams are also available for fabrics.

Equipment

Stencilling does not require a great deal of special equipment; many of the items used are commonly found in most households. A few tools, however, will make the job easier.

Brushes: it is worth investing in a set of good stencil brushes. The ends of the brushes should be flat and the bristles firm, to let you control the application of paint. A medium-size brush (4 cm/11/2 in diameter) is a useful, all-purpose size, but you may want to buy one size smaller and one size larger as well. You will need a selection of household paintbrushes for applying large areas of background colour, and small artist’s paintbrushes for adding fine details.

Craft knife: use for cutting out stencils from cardboard.

Cutting mat: this provides a firm surface to cut into and will help prevent the craft knife from slipping.

Masking tape: as the stencil may need to be repositioned, it is advisable to hold it in place with masking tape, which can be removed fairly easily from most surfaces.

Paint-mixing container: this may be necessary for mixing paints and washes.

Pencils: keep a selection of soft and hard artist’s pencils to transfer the stencil design on to cardboard. Use an ordinary pencil to mark on your object the positions of the stencils before applying.

Stencil card (cardboard): the materialised to make the stencil is a matter of preference. Speciality stencil card is available waxed from specialist art stores, which means that it will last longer, but ordinary cardboard or heavy paper can also be used. It is worth purchasing a sheet of clear acetate if you wish to keep your stencil design, to re-use time and again.

Tape measure and rulers: some patterns may require accuracy. Measuring and planning the positions of your stencils before you begin will aid the result.

Tracing paper: use to trace and transfer your stencil design on to stencil card

Stencilling is not difficult to master, and you can create some wonderful 3-dimensional designs but it is worth practising first to get used to handling

TRANSFERING TEMPLATES

1. To transfer a template on to a piece of stencil card (cardboard), place some tracing paper over the design, and draw over it with a hard pencil.

2. Turn over the tracing paper and, on the back of the design; rub over the lines you have drawn with a soft pencil. Turn the tracing paper back to the right side and place on top of a sheet of stencil card. Draw over the original lines with a hard pencil.

PAINTING TECHNIQUES

1. Block stencilling: Use for filling in large areas in a single, solid colour. As in all stencilling, remember not to apply the paint too heavily – less is more. Always blot the paint on to a piece of cardboard before you begin.

2. Block stencilling with second colours tippled: When applying two colours, always apply the lighter shade first, then the darker. Do not cover the entire surface with the first colour; leave a gap for the second shade, then blend later. Use a separate, clean brush for each colour.

3. Dry-brushing, rotating from edge: Using big circular strokes, work from the outside of the whole stencil, moving inward. This should leave you with more paint on the outside, as there will be lesson your brush as you move inward.

4. Two-colour blocking: When you apply the first colour, do not fully block out the petals; instead, outline them with the first colour and leave the centres bare. Use the second colour to fill. Take care not to apply your paint too heavily.

5 Stippling: This method uses more paint and less pressure than rotating or flicking. Taking a reasonable amount of paint on the bristles of your brush, simply place it down lightly. This gives a rougher look. Do not go over it too many times, as this spoils the effect.

6 Dry-brush stippling: This is similar to stippling, except that it is essential to dab most of the paint off the bristles before you start. This gives a softer effect.

7. Rotating and shading: Using a very dry brush with a tiny amount of paint, place your brush on one side of the stencil and rotate the brush in circles. Repeat, using a slightly darker colour on the edges for soft shading.

8. Flicking: For the flicking effect on the leaves, use slightly more paint on the brush. Working from the centre, flick the paint outward once or twice. Be careful not to overdo.

9. Flicking upwards: Using a reasonable amount of paint (not too wet or too dry) on your brush, flick upwards only. This creates a line at the top of the petals and leaves.

10. Dry-brushing and rotating: Apply a tiny amount of paint by rotating the bristles from the centre and from the outside tips, to give more paint in these areas. Work along the line, using less pressure than on the centre and the tips. This gives a soft shade in between.

11. Brushing up and down: Using slightly more paint on your brush than you would for rotating, brush up and down only, taking care to keep your lines vertical