Blinds for windows

A blind is one of the most versatile of furnishing accessories. It can range from a cheap cotton roller that saves spending a fortune on curtains, to a sophisticated and more expensive Venetian blind that will last for years and cut out a dreary view. Don’t imagine that blinds can be used only for windows. There are many different ways of using them around the home for other purposes, like hiding a washing corner or making a room divider. It is simple to make your own roller blinds and Roman shades, and there is also a huge selection to be found in the shops. These can be made to measure for your windows at very reasonable prices. Choose anything from a plain holland that comes in a wide colour range, to all kinds of laminated fabrics in patterns and plains. The alternatives are rattan blinds (which are cheap) in a pleasant wood colour, or Venetian blinds (more expensive) in a good colour range from white to bright reds, yellows and greens. Look for concertina blinds in thick paper if you are working on a tight furnishing budget. If you like adapting ideas, keep an eye on current trends in the pages of magazines, then use these ideas for blinds as a basis for making your own. The detail is the important point to watch it’s the final touches like braid and borders, or colour that will help you to make your own blinds with style. Here are some ideas for using blinds around the house.

In the living room

One of the most basic uses for blinds in a living room, or any room for that matter, is to protect fine furniture from the sun during the day time. Over a long period the sun fades dark and antique furniture, and many fabrics too. Just plain white hollands, or roller blinds in a pale shade that tones with the colour scheme, can be fitted at the windows as well as curtains. When it’s sunny, the blinds are pulled down to keep out the harsh rays, yet let in the light. In the evening the curtains are drawn as well. If you want to doll the blinds up a bit, use a band of the curtain material along the foot of the blind. If the windows are large, use fabric blinds instead of curtains. They will work out cheaper and give a much cleaner outline to the window. A lull-length blind in a bright modern colour can look stunning. Used at a small window instead of curtains. a blind will let in more light during the daytime, because it will not encroach on the window space when it is rolled up.

In a modern home you may find one or two large Venetian blinds make the ideal covering for a picture window overlooking a garden, particularly if the room catches the sun. The Venetian blinds can be kept rolled down in hot weather during the daytime, when they will let in light and air, yet keep out the heat. Use a large blind to disguise an untidy study corner or shelves holding drinks in an alcove. Rattan blinds are a wise choice for this form of disguise. You could use a whole wall of blinds to screen off a fitted shelving unit. This is a smart idea if you prefer the neater finish of blinds to the more casual look of shelves crammed with an assortment of objects.

In a multi-purpose room

Blinds are a boon in a multi-purpose room or a bedsitter. They can be used so easily to screen eyesores, and as room dividers. In a bedsitter, use a blind to hide the washing arrangements. You can do this by building light hardboard floor-to-ceiling ‘walls’ on either side of the basin. Fit a blind at the front and you have an instant mini-washroom. If you are short of storage space, fit shelves above the basin and use the sides of the basin screen for hanging up towels, dressing gown, toothbrushes etc. Either build in the basin with a cupboard underneath it, or fit more shelves under to hold towels or shoes. Also in a bedsitter, blinds can be used to hide the bed, which can be fitted away neatly in one corner of the room. Fix two rattan or bright cotton roller blinds to the ceiling, and during the daytime they can be pulled down to hide the bed. Often, in a bedsitter, you may find you have to use ‘make-do’ furniture until you can afford what you really want. So the whole room can be made visually smarter if you hide a row of varied cupboards, and storage furniture, behind large cotton roller blinds. Use a rattan or Venetian blind above a bar to emphasize the division between eating and sitting in a multi-purpose room. Also, use blinds instead of screens to help zone the different purposes of the room-for instance behind a sofa to enclose a seating corner or divide it from a walk-through area, or to screen the stairs in a large room with an open staircase, or to hide a children’s play corner.

In the bedroom

One of the most attractive ideas for a bedroom is to use a blind instead of a net curtain for privacy. A thick cotton lace makes a stylish fabric choice. A good way of making more of a bedroom window is to have a roller blind or Roman shade in a fabric that matches the bedspread, then frame the window with semi-sheer curtains, caught back in loops, during the daytime. These could be made from the bedspread fabric again. Another idea is to have curtains in a plain fabric bordered and looped back with the patterned fabric. Try making your own four-poster bed, and instead of curtains use blinds made of inexpensive ruched cotton. The blinds can be pulled down and kept firm in side tracks so the bed becomes almost like a cave. Blinds can also hide a dressing corner, an unattractive old wardrobe. or a shoe rack.

In children’s rooms

If light evenings or an early dawn keep the children awake, use a dark holland blind behind the curtains, and this will cut out the light. In fact a blind in any dark-coloured opaque fabric will do the trick. Remember that blinds will flap on a windy night if the children are asleep with their door open. One way of stopping this is to make a pelmet and side frames so that the blind is held inside this and cannot flap about. A box covering the sides and top of a window is simple to make and, for added interest, use a curved shape to give more effect. Paint the frame brightly or cover it with the same fabric as the blind. This is a particularly smart idea which could be adapted for any room in the house. For safety, cut off all long pulls on blinds and replace them with small rings, particularly in a room where the children are under six and like fiddling.

Using fabric

Be clever with the way you use fabric on blinds to make a more effective room scheme. Make wide scallops at the foot of a roller blind where you have used a bold curvy fabric this will help to emphasize the movement of the pattern. If you are using a row of fabric blinds as screens or at large windows, be sure that the fabric matches at the edges of each adjoining blind. This is particularly important with a geometric or regular pattern of any kind. A good match looks much more professional. Instead of cupboard doors, you can use roller blinds made from a fabric that. for instance, matches the wallpaper. This is a smart idea for a bedroom or a kitchen if the shelves are untidy.

Blinds for kitchens and bathrooms


In the metropolitan area of London alone there were 92,225 household break-ins in one year. Of these, a little less than half were ‘walk-ins’ representing an increase on the previous year. The remainder were forced entries which, surprisingly, showed a slight drop from the previous year. According to New Scotland Yard this does not mean that burglars are getting less bold, only that householders are increasingly careless and making the burglar’s job literally as simple as walking through a door. This is a worldwide phenomenon that the man in the street shakes his head over and thinks he can do little to avert. In the case of domestic burglaries this is simply not true. No matter where you live there are several precautions you can take to safeguard your property. These are often inexpensive and largely a matter of sheer common sense. Just remember that it can happen to you, and if you neglect to take every possible precaution then it is unfair to complain about the inefficiency of your local police. Burglary prevention is mainly in your hands.

Burglary is big business

A professional thief can burgle a flat in sixty seconds. He knows where you are likely to hide money, keys, chequebooks and so on. An ‘amateur’ will take longer and will probably make more mess. Organized gangs of burglars can strip a fair-sized house of all its furniture, including large items such as television sets and hi-fl equipment in a matter of an hour or less, and make away with the goods in a truck which is ready and waiting. Your. property then passes on to crooked dealers and-only too often completely out of your life. It is no use imagining that you can catch a burglar by creeping bravely around in the dark clutching a poker. The personal risks are too great, and, besides, most domestic burglaries take place in broad daylight mainly in the afternoons in fact. Too often an open window, or a kitchen door left ajar while you ‘pop out’ for a few minutes is an open invitation to crime. But a few minutes are all that’s needed to cause a great deal of personal distress. However rich you are you can never afford to lose what the thief will take. And no matter how poor you think you are, there will always be something he will consider worth taking.

Safe as houses

Before going to bed, the average householder goes through the ritual of locking his doors. This is usually the only precaution taken and, up to a limit, it is all well and good. But there are other things to consider. 28 % of thieves enter property from the front of the house, from the side, 62% from the rear of the premises and 3 % from the roof. Can the thief approach your house from the roof tops of adjoining property? Are your skylights and dormer windows fitted with adequate locks? Are all your windows fitted with locks (not just flimsy catches)? Do you ever leave a window open-no matter how small-for your cat’s convenience? Remember, it may be convenient for a ‘cat’-burglar, too. Very little is ‘impossible’ for a thief to get through if the opening is there. In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred only a small section of glass is broken, the thief inserts his hand and releases the catch, thus simply opening the window for entry. Dramatic window smashing is rare. Key’ operated window locks are the answer, because the thief would have to smash the glass, causing some danger to himself and making a tell-tale noise. Remember the greatest risks for a burglar are noise and delay. These locks are effective deterrents always supposing, of course, that you don’t leave the key in the lock !

Fighting forced entry

Modern doors tend to be very flimsy, and it is no use whatsoever fitting an expensive, good quality lock to a feather-light door. The chances are that you will find yourself coming home to a smashed door and your lock lying intact on the floor! Hollow core doors which are packed with material no more sturdy than bits of egg-box will always give way under brute force, if the burglar is really determined. Panel doors should be between 45mm and 51mm thick. Even if you fit a good lock (such as a British Standard lock) to a door thinner than this then you may have weakened it and the lock could be torn off whole more easily. There are basically two types of lock-a mortise lock which, in the U.K., should at least comply with British Standard requirements, and a rim fitting lock which is fitted to the surface or rim of the door.

A mortise deadlock is the most likely to be burglar-proof. Manufactured to the strictest t specifications under British Standard rules, this type of lock has to be good. It must withstand attacks from skillfully wielded jemmies, be resistant to side pressures of 3,000 pounds and end pressures of 2,000 pounds and be able to thwart at least five minute’s attack from a steel saw. Each lock carrying the ‘kite’ mark will have undergone rigorous tests-and passed them. All you need to do is fit them correctly and even here you are helped because all these mortise deadlocks come with detailed instructions on how to fit them. Every outside door should be fitted with one. Remember though, that the strength of the lock depends on the strength of the door. While there is no need to armour plate your door, you could strengthen it by fitting strips of sheet steel or iron round its edges especially where the lock is going to go. It makes sense to lock internal doors in houses which have been split up into flats, but police often advise householders of the average ‘semi’ not to lock internal doors, only the main outer ones. The reasoning behind this is simply-if a thief goes to the trouble of breaking into your house in the first place he is not going to be frustrated by flimsier internal doors. He will simply smash them in, causing further unnecessary havoc. Unfortunately some insurance firms disagree with this viewpoint, so find out what your own insurance company feels about this.

All external doors should also be provided with bolts, preferably both at the top and bottom-the old fashioned padlocks are no longer considered effective against such skillful odds. A door-chain not only keeps a thief from the door but a potential attacker, too. Casual ‘callers’-especially on old people or people living alone-can turn out to be vicious thugs capable of inflicting grievous bodily harm, sometimes in order to make off with just loose change or a radio. Most dwellings in New York-a city notorious for its soaring crime rate and violence-have peepholes or ‘doorviewers’ fitted in their front doors. They are an excellent idea anywhere- you can lift a flap and see the caller, satisfying yourself that he is a bona fide repair man or whatever before attempting to let him in. And do not be afraid to ask anyone- even someone claiming to be a policeman- to prove his identity before allowing him in your home. You may have everything to lose through undue timidity on your part. These precautions may sound alarmist and frightening, but face facts, crimes are both alarming and frightening.

Man’s best friend?

It is surprising how many householders still rely on dogs to guard their homes. But the chances are that if your dog wags his tail at a visitor you let in through your front door, will also wag his tail at the unwelcome visitor who climbs through the window. Pets are not guard dogs and even ‘trained’ house dogs cannot be expected to act like police dogs. And, like people, they are liable to be silenced-sometimes only too effectively. Dogs are also unpredictable, so it would be foolish to rely on them alone.

Alarming burglars

A burglar alarm on full show,or a CCTV system, say, on the outside of a building, will nearly always deter the ‘amateur or casual thief. But if yours is the only alarm in the area it may well advertise the fact that you have something worth stealing. It could act as the go ahead or challenge to the professional burglar. Whether or not to put your alarm on display or hide it away will depend on how many other similar devices are in evidence in your neighbourhood, and as always, on your common sense. There are many types of burglar alarm system on the market, varying widely in price and efficiency. It is a business which, unfortunately, is easy game for the confidence tricksters. Some people are so keen on security that they are incredibly gullible. So check that the firm where you buy your alarm is reputable.

In Britain your local Crime Prevention Officer will know of the best firms. Burglar alarms can work in three stages: they detect through various devices such as pressure mats: they control or ‘decide’ whether to give a signal or not and then they finally give a signal. They range from the simple bell type most people are familiar with, to highly sophisticated ultra-sonic devices which can be expensive and may not be really practical for general domestic use. Most types miss out the middle or ‘decision’ stage because of the mechanical complexity involved. The main types of alarm are bell systems, which rely on neighbours or public spirited passers-by to report the alarm, the telephone system which will ring the emergency 999 automatically, one which will ring through to the security department of the firm which installed or sold it this is most common in the U.S.A.) and, in Britain, alarms which ring through directly to the local police station (this does not apply to the Metropolitan area). An alarm system may be purchased outright but with a maintenance agreement (this is essential or your alarm may go ‘on holiday’ without telling you), or you can buy part and rent part, or you can rent all of the equipment and, in Britain, claim a tax rebate on it.

Technology v thieves

One of the newest burglar detecting devices is based on a principle whereby a passive infra-red mechanism is triggered off by body temperature. This could be placed in a door or window frame. The problem is-when is an intruder not an intruder and merely the master of the house? The most up-to-date devices include a shunt key and lock which will by-pass the system when bona fide occupants insert their own shunt key. Another alarm which is both effective and unobtrusive is called the ‘inertia switch’. It is basically very simple, being a ball-bearing balanced on three special spikes and wired up to the signal.

You can set this in a window frame and paint over it. Any massive vibration or unduly heavy knock on the window will dislodge the ball from the spikes and set off the alarm. It is nicely controlled so that hear”y winds will not affect it, and they come with shunt-out locks, too. One of the oldest methods of protecting property-the man-trap is now illegal. Bluffing, however, is not, and a sign reading ‘Danger High Voltage’, which could act as a deterrent.

An ounce of prevention
It is a good idea to make a comprehensive list of the serial numbers (and any distinguishing marks) of your valued possessions, such as television sets, cameras, bicycles and so on. People are continually taking the most absurd risks and then wonder why their property disappears. Everyone knows that they should stop their newspapers and milk being delivered when they go away doorsteps cluttered with congealing milk and newspapers are as good as a ‘Vacant’ notice. Everyone can see how stupid it is to leave notes on the front door telling expected friends what they will be back. Everyone knows what risks they are taking popping out for a few minutes leaving the door ajar, and how insane it is to leave even small amounts of cash on a table by a window.

Van insurance

Autonet Van insurance scam

builders vans london

I always assumed that insuring a van should be a straight forward affair. One of our vans used to be insured with Gladiator insurance and when the insurance expired, the new Quote for the van was higher than the previous year. So we decided to shop online for a cheaper van insurance company.

Autonet Insurance – provided the insurance quote for the van and we went along with it. Few weeks later, we get a call and an email from the rip off insurance company to tell us that our annual premium will go up by more £400.00.

We told them that we don’t agree with it and we want the insurance closed down. Basically we told them that by email and phone. Now they want all the monies because we cancelled the insurance, including the increased premium. So, we are going the complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service and we are ready to get a solicitor to take them to court.

I advise everyone to read the reviews for the Autonet Insurance online before dealing with them.

Ideas for dark rooms

Hall and stairs
You can increase the light cast over a dark hall and staircase by letting in a fan light or small window above the front door. You can create a feeling of light and depth by papering the ceiling in the hall with a bright, geometric paper. Add plenty of white, particularly on the woodwork, plus a mirror to reflect all the light things. Borrow light from the rooms leading off the hall and landing by fixing glass panels in doors, or by installing ‘windows’ in the walls. These can be disguised as shelving alcoves inside the rooms, and help to let more light on to the stairs.

White-painted banisters will look less heavy and dark than natural wood, and an open staircase with a light carpet will give a brighter, more spacious feeling. Don’t obscure the window on the landing, but help it by fixing hidden lights behind plants or ornaments strategically placed to highlight corners.

Living rooms
Large windows, combined with fresh looking curtains or blinds, warm lighting and a pleasant colour scheme all help to emphasize brightness in otherwise dark rooms. Be careful in your choice of furniture, however, as big heavy pieces like a mahogany desk or dark leather-covered sofa can be too over-powering if you want light. Don’t mix too many different colours together, as this looks messy; a plain colour will usually create a lighter feeling than a pattern, particularly where carpets are concerned. You can create a much brighter appearance simply by painting the floorboards white to reflect the ceiling, then adding shaggy mats, Spanish rugs or rush matting to make it more practical. Use plenty of table lamps with white shades to create the maximum amount of light, with spotlights in dark corners, and concealed lights in alcoves or behind curtains as back-ground lighting.

Dining rooms
The dining room is often the darkest room in the house, and if you tend to use it only in the evening, this does not matter too much, as then you can rely entirely on artificial lighting. If you have a young family, a dining room needs to be a light and airy place, and often a one-colour treatment is the most effective, with the walls, ceiling, floor and furniture painted in the same cheerful colour. At night the appearance of the room can be changed dramatically by the addition of a patterned tablecloth with matching blinds at the windows, and softer lighting. A low hanging light over the dining table will focus attention on it. If you think blinds are too harsh, hang fake curtains at each side of the window; these will frame the blind, but will not obscure the light by day.

Bedrooms should feel warm, so a pale colour is usually best avoided, even for a dark room. A lot of white in a north-facing bedroom is a particularly bad idea, and it is better to choose a sunnier colour. If you want the impression created by white, choose beige or oatmeal, which give a light feeling without looking cold. You can create an attractive effect by using a patterned wallpaper, preferably on a white background. Make up the curtains and bedspread in the same fabric, if possible to match the wallpaper, and pick out all the woodwork in white paint. The ceiling can be painted in one of the paler colours of the wallpaper, with a matching carpet. Carpets are expensive, though, and a cheaper way of brightening the floor is to paint the boards in a light colour to match fabric or wallpaper used elsewhere, whether it is yellow, sky blue or pink.

Design and Preparation for Refurbishments

Every room is a separate problem, and every family will have its own views on the most suitable treatment. Generally it is wise to spend plenty of time deciding on the colour and material before Refurbishing the property. When choosing a material for wall decoration, any shortcomings of the room should be borne in mind.

Avoid cheap material or tools; they often take up more time than better ones and can lead to poor results. Do not skimp on preparations. Tiling on an uneven wall will never look satisfactory, and a painted surface will ruthlessly reveal inadequate preparation and undercoating. Take into account the use and wear the surface will receive and select the material accordingly. It is very disappointing when a whole room is spoiled by one or two vulnerable areas which will not stand up to cleaning.

Mirrors & Interior Design

Without a looking glass a room is only half alive. From great sheets of glass that cover a whole wall to the tiny little Victorian nonsenses, framed in shells, that you sometimes come across in junk shops, they all have a part to play in adding a touch of glamour to a room. Mirrors are space-makers that are able to give the illusion of added dimension; decorators and reflectors of light; objects of light and beauty when properly used-but capable of appearing as ugly holes in the wall when their function is misunderstood or abused.
mirror bedroom interior design

Mirrors as space-makers
Mirrors create space through illusion, by deluding you into believing that where you know there is a wall there is space. Properly used, these slabs of mirror make you feel that you could walk straight through them into an unexplored dimension. To do this successfully the mirror has to be placed where, structurally, if there were no wall, you could walk on. It is no good putting one beside a window which looks out over the garden. The mirror will reflect the room and, since the eye is no fool, it will do a double-take when it sees garden and room in the same dimension. For a moment you will be surprised, then you will realise the deception. But, placed on an inner wall where you could expect more rooms beyond, a mirror will have a quite different effect.

mirror ensuite bathroom

These deceivers should be used so that there is a reason for their end and their beginning. For maximum impact, they should begin at the floor (not at the skirting, because the floor should appear to run right into them), reach up to the ceiling and to the end of the wall on both sides. If you do not want a mirror that wide, or if it does not reach from wall to wall, you must provide a reason for its not doing so.

One way is to set the mirror into panels that cover the rest of the wall. These panels can either be made of wood or be papered to match the rest of the room. Another way is to curtain the rest of the wall, hanging the curtains on rings suspended on brass poles fixed at ceiling height. Both of these effects make the mirror appear to be an integral part of the wall, not an alter thought added at random. A large framed mirror will also be infinitely more satisfactory than fixing a plain sheet of glass to the wall. The framed image is very much more telling than that which, for no apparent reason, suddenly stops with the edge of the glass. You are dealing with illusions, remember. Line the alcoves on both sides of a fireplace with mirrors, from floor to ceiling and wall to wall, then-providing that you arrange your possessions so as to give a satisfying reflection-you will feel that you can walk straight past the chimney breast into the space beyond.

Or, if your living room seems to come to an abrupt end in a hard-looking wall, try putting a slab of glass in the middle of the offending wall. Set it in panels, or curtain up to its edges, possibly adding a swag or two of the material over the top, rearrange the furniture until the reflection pleases you, and your blank wall will disappear. This is a good treatment for a dead-end wall at the end of a hall. But if you do feel like covering one whole wall of your living room with mirror glass and this can be most effective-it is really better that it should be the wall behind the sitting area rather than the one facing it. k can be very distracting to have to watch your own reflected antics for an entire evening.