Home Hints & Tips

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Unlikely hack makes ironing a thing of the past

<p>Wishing you could find a way to make ironing a thing of the past?</p> <p>Well, you’re in luck. This clever grandma has come up with a genius hack for crease-free clothing – and best of all, there is no iron in sight.</p> <p>The savvy nan called Babs, also known as brunchwithbabs on Instagram, shared the hack on her page and she’s gone viral.</p> <p>The US-based grandmother who calls herself the “internet mom/grandma you didn’t know you needed” shares all kinds of advice on her page gaining her quite the following.</p> <p>Captioning the video showing how to remove creases from clothes without an iron, Babs writes:</p> <p>“Babs Hack *tip: high heat, works great on cotton and another option is throwing in a damp rag which also works like a charm.”</p> <p>In the footage, Babs asks viewers, ”Do you like to iron on a beautiful sunny day? Me neither.</p> <p>”Try ice cubes instead.”</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/reel/Cdalnisloi4/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/reel/Cdalnisloi4/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Babs (@brunchwithbabs)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>“Four to five ice cubes right in,” she revealed, before adding that you should let the ice cubes do their magic for 10 to 15 minutes.</p> <p>At the end of the video, Babs can be seen removing the dresses and showing they are wrinkle-free.</p> <p>The video has been viewed more than 50,000 times and her fans are impressed. Let us know if you've tried this genius hack.</p>

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A simpler life begins at home – key tips from people who’ve done it

<p>Voluntary simplicity focuses on doing more with less. People who choose this way of life seek other riches, like personal fulfilment, free time, community and environmental benefits. They see limiting their consumption as a way to improve their quality of life and flourish. </p> <p>We wanted to learn about people who choose this path. What lessons do they have to share? In particular, how can housing be designed to support simplicity?</p> <p>We talked in depth to 14 householders and 25 housing industry professionals. As well as the householders, 11 of the professionals had made housing changes to simplify their own lives. Our conversations focused on life stories and beliefs, thoughts on voluntary simplicity, and ways to overcome the challenges they faced.</p> <p>Our <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02673037.2020.1720614">recently published research</a> shows it is possible, with a bit of work and planning, to live a simple and fulfilling life. We focused on housing, because housing choices are at the heart of such a life. Our social connections, incomes, transport needs and energy and water usage all link to where and how we live. </p> <p>Despite <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs%40.nsf/mediareleasesbyCatalogue/6496B4739650C270CA2581F3000E3B4D?OpenDocument">continuing increases</a>, house and land prices are lower in Tasmania than on mainland Australia, but so are incomes. Just as elsewhere, housing practices here can lock householders into complicated consumption practices with negative consequences for society and the environment. Needing to work more to pay off bigger mortgages is one aspect of this.</p> <h2>Compromises are inevitable</h2> <p>Some participants wanted housing that encompassed environmental best practice and closeness to nature. Some wanted to connect with like-minded people. Some wanted smaller or no mortgages.</p> <p>But “you can’t have it all”, we were told. Compromises are inherent in striving for voluntary simplicity in housing. </p> <p>For example, you might want an off-grid eco-haven, but that’s unlikely in the inner city. You might need public transport, but that could rule out retrofitting a bush block home. </p> <p>The ethically sourced building materials you select from interstate or overseas might involve supply chains using multiple transport modes and all the fossil fuel these use. Locally sourced materials might not meet your ethical standards. And are you happy to buy your solar panels using credit from a Big Four bank that invests in fossil fuels?</p> <p>So, know your deal-breakers and accept that you cannot be “a model of simplicity” in every way all the time. “Do what you can for the context you’re in.”</p> <p>A resounding piece of advice from the professionals was “smaller is better”.</p> <h2>Do your homework</h2> <p>To find palatable compromises you must do your homework. For example, many people wanted to save money or have meaningful experiences of creating house and home. </p> <p>That level of engagement takes a lot of work, which surprised several participants. It requires project-management skills and familiarity with regulations beforehand.</p> <p>You might need specialist professionals on board from the start. A building designer told us, "You’re doing something different from the norm, so your standard industry professional might not be experienced with the regulations for composting toilets, on-site greywater systems, or even smaller-than-average houses."</p> <p>Situations might change mid-project. Participants emphasised how important it is to be prepared for regulatory reforms, technological change and unexpected costs. Communication is crucial – with family, professionals and tradespeople, councils and suppliers.</p> <p>One owner-builder told us, "It’s like a little treasure hunt. Ask lots of questions but gather them all together because professionals charge per hour or part thereof. Find people who have experience with a similar build or project. We asked friends for basic info, then asked the experts once we had some background."</p> <p>Options and requirements might not be obvious. Finding professionals with similar values who have a talent for project administration, regulations and time management can be hugely helpful. Another building designer told us, "It’s becoming increasingly hard to build a home without professional help. If you don’t know the order in which to do things, and how one influences the other, it can become very stressful and costly and time-consuming."</p> <p>Confidence and patience are useful attributes. Another owner-builder said, "You’ll be talking with people who know their stuff (or think they do) and are used to working with other professionals. It’s hard to call someone about a product not knowing what you’re talking about, but do it anyway and don’t be scared. At the end of the day, we were responsible for every aspect of our place, so why not take control? It gets easier once you start doing it."</p> <h2>Be patient and know your limitations</h2> <p>Since everything seems to “take so much longer than planned”, remember you are there for the long haul. </p> <p>If you want to move faster, you often have to pay experts for the privilege. As one owner-builder said: “We could have gotten away without the loan if time weren’t a factor.”</p> <p>The more you do yourself as a non-expert the more you learn. But even if you are careful, you might make mistakes that cost time and money. So “be guided by your emotions and values but don’t let them get the best of you”.</p> <h2>The project of a lifetime</h2> <p>The voluntary simplicity housing journey also affects professionals. One building designer told us, "I hope to see myself as an interpreter of what people want. It might be the project of a lifetime for someone who has spent their life savings on it, so I feel a responsibility to provide some sort of pastoral care. For owner-builders, the house becomes a part of the family in some ways."</p> <p>That means being friendly, patient, communicative and paying attention to how clients experience the whole system from planning regulations to the philosophies of sustainability.</p> <p>In practice, simple living is a huge journey. But with thought, planning and hard work, it can be extremely satisfying and rewarding. </p> <p>Committing to voluntary simplicity in housing (or anything else) is never a complete response. But, as part of a suite of positive responses to contemporary challenges, from climate change to community cohesion, it’s worth working for as individuals and as professionals.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article was originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-simpler-life-begins-at-home-key-tips-from-people-whove-done-it-132081" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>

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Unlikely product that makes grout sparkle with no scrubbing

<p>A TikToker has revealed an unlikely cleaning product typically used in the kitchen that is super effective at cleaning grout. In fact, you don’t even need to scrub it.</p> <p>Azure MacCannell, who goes by the handle @livecomposed on TikTok, discovered the Healthier Home brand degreaser worked on her tiled floor after an accidental spill.</p> <p>The video that shows how effective it was has gone viral with 3.5 million views.</p> <blockquote class="tiktok-embed" style="max-width: 605px; min-width: 325px;" cite="https://www.tiktok.com/@livecomposed/video/7034707513379458351" data-video-id="7034707513379458351"> <section><a title="@livecomposed" href="https://www.tiktok.com/@livecomposed" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@livecomposed</a> Effortless grout cleaning! <a title="cleantok" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/cleantok" target="_blank" rel="noopener">#cleantok</a> <a title="cleaningtiktok" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/cleaningtiktok" target="_blank" rel="noopener">#cleaningtiktok</a> <a title="cleaning" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/cleaning" target="_blank" rel="noopener">#cleaning</a> <a title="cleaninghacks" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/cleaninghacks" target="_blank" rel="noopener">#cleaninghacks</a> <a title="cleaningproducts" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/cleaningproducts" target="_blank" rel="noopener">#cleaningproducts</a> <a title="groutcleaning" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/groutcleaning" target="_blank" rel="noopener">#groutcleaning</a> <a title="hhambassador" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/hhambassador" target="_blank" rel="noopener">#hhambassador</a> <a title="♬ abcdefu - GAYLE" href="https://www.tiktok.com/music/abcdefu-6994724904944568322" target="_blank" rel="noopener">♬ abcdefu - GAYLE</a></section> </blockquote> <p>To use the degreaser as a cleaner Azure said she "poured it on. Let it sit one minute and just wiped it off."</p> <p>The cleaning guru used a mop to wipe off the product after applying it to the floor. This cleaning tip has been liked 156,000 times and sparked plenty of discussion.</p> <p>Some viewers revealed using degreaser as a grout cleaner is a well-known cleaning secret in the fast-food industry.</p> <p>"Fast food places add degreaser to their mops all the time. It works," one TikToker said.</p> <p>If you can't get your hands on the degreaser from Healthier Home, which doesn't appear to ship to Australia, other followers insist other degreasers will work just as well.</p> <p>Like with any cleaning advice you see on TikTok you might want to test your degreaser on a small spot first, in case it's not suitable for your floors. It’s also best practice to read the information on the bottle, in case its not safe for use on particular materials.</p>

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Top tips to find the perfect flooring

<p dir="ltr">From wood or floating floors to tiles or carpet, choosing flooring that is both functional and builds on the feel and liveability of your entire home can be a tricky task.</p> <p dir="ltr">For interior design enthusiast and Carpet Court Style Collaborator, Emily Osmond, the task of finding the perfect flooring is a familiar one that she says was one of the biggest decisions she had to make while building her first home .</p> <p dir="ltr">“Hard or soft, flooring is one fo the most important design selections you will make for your new build - it plays a huge role in creating mood, texture, colour and flow throughout the home,” she says.</p> <p dir="ltr">“When it came to designing the interior, we started from the ground and worked our way up, knowing that whatever material and colourway we decided to include on the floors would form the foundation of our entire interior style.”</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-cb0288f3-7fff-9ecc-1922-5fac5b1ab145"></span></p> <p dir="ltr">But you don’t just have to consider flooring if you’re starting from scratch. Whether you’re planning some major renovations or just want to update the flooring in key spaces, Emily says the best option will come down to three key factors: material, lifestyle, and the space’s functionality.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CckYQaEPYKu/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CckYQaEPYKu/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by EMILY OSMOND | Business Coach &amp; Speaker (@emilyosmond)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">“I wanted our bedrooms and retreat to feel cosy and like a place to unwind, so the softness of carpet was perfect for these spaces,” Emily says.</p> <p dir="ltr">“When it came to our entrance, knowing this would be a high traffic area meant that engineered timber was the best option. To emphasise how large and open the area is, we continued with this flooring seamlessly from the entrance to the kitchen, living and dining space, drawing the eye down the hallway.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Flooring, Emily stresses, acts as the basis for your entire home, and choosing an option that suits the space and that you’re happy with will save you the work of changing it later.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Paint can be easily updated, or cabinetry colours tweaked, but flooring is the base on which your whole home’s style is built upon and shouldn’t be overlooked,” she says.</p> <p dir="ltr">To help you pick the flooring that suits your needs, Emily has shared these three tips.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Budget</strong> - Building or renovating your home often sees you work within quite a tight budget, but flooring and carpet is a worthwhile item to invest in. Since it will be walked on every day, avoid skimping so you can pick high quality options.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Realise your vision</strong> - Making a mood board for her project helped Emily capture the overall aesthetic and feel of the home. Plus, having a physical version of your plan - whether as a mood board or model - can serve as a reference point you can come back to as you need.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Be confident</strong> - Though everyone’s taste differs, be confident in the decisions you make since only you known the vision you have for your home (and you will be the person living there every day).</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-7cf373e2-7fff-0da8-ef90-9dae0e3e95ef"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: @emilyosmond (Instagram)</em></p>

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5 reasons why you have noisy water pipes and what you can do to fix them

<p> </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Michael Jackson once famously sang “It’s close to midnight, something evil’s lurking in the dark”. While you and I might never have to encounter the ghouls and zombies that Michael did in the Thriller video, in the everyday family home, unwanted household noises at midnight could rightfully be considered just as evil. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Among the most unwanted in any family home are noisy water pipes. There are numerous reasons why the pipes in your home might be providing you with a cacophony of noisy clangs, clashes and clatters that are about as appreciated as a telemarketer’s call at dinner time. Here are five of the most common causes of noisy water pipes, and what you can do to fix them.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Water Hammering</strong></p> <p class="MsoNormal">One of the most common causes of <a href="https://www.mremergency.com.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">noisy water pipes</a> in the home is what we call ‘water hammering’. We all know that when we turn the tap on, water comes out. Behind the scenes though (or more accurately, behind the wall and in the pipes), the energy created by turning on the tap that enables the water to flow with sufficient force and speed stops suddenly when we turn the tap off. And something needs to happen with that energy.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">The hot and cold taps each have pipes attached that contain air chambers. The water rush grinds to a halt when you turn off the tap, and the water travels to a vertical pipe where it hits an air cushion that absorbs the force of that water. The absorption of that force minimises any rattling or hammering of the pipes. However, over time and sustained usage, the air chamber in the vertical pipes can diminish, which reduces the ability of the system to neutralise the force of the water, leading to water hammering and noisy water pipes. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">This can be fixed though, simply by turning on all taps and drainage systems throughout your home while the primary water valve is switched off. Give it some time, then refill them with water. Doing this will force air into the risers and stop the water hammering, ensuring your pipes don’t wake you up at some ungodly hour. </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>The ballcock assembly is worn out</strong></p> <p class="MsoNormal">If you flush your toilet and experience a heavy banging sound or noticeable rattle as the cistern finishes filling up, this will typically point to an issue with your ballcock assembly. The ballcock assembly is used to regulate the filling process of your toilet; when it wears out through repeated use, it will result in loud, unwanted noises. Fixing or replacing the ballcock assembly will fix this issue. </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Washers have worn out</strong></p> <p class="MsoNormal">If you’re hearing a squeaky or whistling sound coming from your water pipes, it is likely due to a washer in the tap or valve that has worn out with continued use over time. This happens. More often than not, in this instance you’ll find that the valves that are hooked up to the taps or the washing machine are the guilty party. Fixing this issue is relatively easy, especially if you’re only hearing the noise when you’re using a washer. All you need to do is close off the valve, check all the washers throughout your home, and replace any washers that have worn out or have cracked. Of course if the noise persists after you’ve inspected and replaced any washers, the issue may lie elsewhere. A call to a local emergency plumber may be necessary. Be sure to switch off the water while you wait for the plumber to arrive.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/06/plumbing-bend1.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Loose piping</strong></p> <p class="MsoNormal">If the water pipes in your home are perhaps looser than they should be, that can certainly result in unwanted noises. Loose pipes can have a tendency to sway with large volumes of water moving through them, causing them to rattle and repeatedly hit walls or objects behind the walls. This contact causes the banging sounds you might hear, which can potentially result in damage to the pipes.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Pinpointing the source of the problem is the all-important first step towards fixing loose pipes. You’ll likely need to get underneath the house with a powerful torch and have someone else in the house flush the loo or turn on a tap. Now you’ll need to be particularly attentive, with your powers of observation turned up to the max, while you try and determine exactly where the problem lies. Once you have located ‘ground zero’, you can secure the pipes to reduce movement and minimise noise. </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>The main shut off valve may be damaged</strong></p> <p class="MsoNormal">The plumbing system in your home will generally have either a primary shut off valve or a water pressure regulator. If either of these are faulty or have sustained damage, this can lead to your water pipes squealing like an unhappy toddler. And you’ll likely hear it all throughout the house. If you can confidently determine that the shut off valve is faulty, you can replace it, but be sure to close off the water mains supply first.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>You can also seek specialist assistance</strong></p> <p class="MsoNormal">If you don’t want to risk causing further damage to your water pipes, or you attempt a DIY job only to discover the unwanted noises are persisting, a call to an experienced, licensed plumber might just be your best course of action. They will have the expertise and know how to get your pipes fixed with minimal hassle so you can enjoy a peaceful home once again.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><em>This is a sponsored article produced in partnership with </em><a href="https://www.mremergency.com.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Mr Emergency</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p> </p>

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5 etiquette tips for working with tradies

<p dir="ltr">Whether you’re about to start major renovations or just need a few niggly things fixed, it’s important to hire the right tradie for the job - and work with them to get the best result.</p> <p dir="ltr">To ensure the job goes smoothly and everyone walks away satisfied, here are five ground rules to follow when working with tradies.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>1. Prepare the space</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Clearing the space the tradies will be working in, including moving obstacles and breakable items, will make it all the more easier for them to get stuck into the task at hand.</p> <p dir="ltr">Other ways to help your tradies out include giving them space to park if possible, keeping your pets away from the area and out of harm’s way, and even offering a lunch space where they can set up.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>2. Check-In</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Though it will depend on the size of the job, checking in every couple of days to see how things are going can give you and the tradies the chance to ask any questions or clarify important information as you need to. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>3. Don’t hover</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">It’s good to check in, but there’s a fine line between that and hovering over their shoulder and getting in the way.</p> <p dir="ltr">It’s best to keep your conversations to the point and let them get on with their job.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>4. Communicate clearly</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">An important thing to establish from the beginning, clearly communicating your expectations, requirements, and wants can help you and your tradie establish a plan for how to approach the task at hand.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>5. Be reasonable</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">While we can try hard to prevent mishaps and miscommunication, sometimes things can go wrong for reasons that are out of yours and your tradies’ hands.</p> <p dir="ltr">In these cases, it’s important to stay calm, work with them and rely on tips one through four.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-b96e987b-7fff-e272-0e7c-a286987d40de"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

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11 home improvement projects you can do yourself instead of hiring a professional

<p><strong>There's no better time to DIY</strong></p> <p>There’s nothing quite as satisfying as a job well done – and these DIY projects will boost your handyman status. They are simple enough to do on your own without spending a lot of cash on tools and supplies. Fasten that tool belt and get started!</p> <p><strong>General painting</strong></p> <p>“Some DIY projects can be done by homeowners with a small investment in the right tools and a little patience. Painting is a great way to give your home a face lift, and it’s not difficult if you do some research and take your time,” says Newell Slade, general contractor. No one wants to paint a room twice, so paint like the pros and buy high quality rollers and paint and choose a paint that has a primer already in it to save time and money. “Painting can be fun and relaxing if you just let yourself take the time to do it right.”</p> <p><strong>Patch and prime</strong></p> <p>There’s plenty of thrifty painting tricks you can use, starting with prepping the wall for optimal coverage. You need a smooth surface for the walls to be blemish free. Even larger holes can easily be repaired with wall patch kits found at home improvement stores. The steps are quite simple and will give your new painted walls a beautiful, smooth finish. “Using a spackle knife, fill in each hole with lightweight putty and scrape the excess off the walls. Wait for the putty to dry and sand down the spot until it’s smooth. Then, prime and paint the repaired spots,” says J.B. Sassano, president of a home improvement franchise.</p> <p><strong>Peel-and-stick floor</strong></p> <p>Looking for an inexpensive home improvement that will make a big impact? It doesn’t get much easier than peel-and-stick flooring. “This specific tile is easier to work with and prevents adhesive from oozing through the cracks between the tiles. It can even be installed over concrete if the concrete is clean, smooth and dry,” says Monica Mangin, host of DIY series, The Weekender. If you’re feeling creative, it’s easy to create bold patterns or borders with different using a variety of patterns and colours.</p> <p><strong>Peel-and-stick panels</strong></p> <p>Panelled rooms are making a comeback. This time around, the trend is usually horizontal and installation doesn’t require a hammer and nails, even though the panels are made from wood. “Creating a wood accent wall offers a great way to add personality and texture to your space. You can customise your look by playing with thickness and pre-stained colours,” says Mangin. “Mixing and matching the colours and styles will provide an eye-catching piece that pop.”</p> <p><strong>Penny tile</strong></p> <p>A tired and worn splashback can be replaced in a day. “Penny tile is a really affordable option, especially when it comes in white, which is one of the more standard colours,” says Mangin. But you don’t necessarily have to buy more tiles to get the colours you want. Mangin says you can customise this DIY home improvement by using enamel paints to colour individual tiles and bake them in the oven to fully cure. “After the white sheets are up on the wall, decide which tiles you want to pop out and then just pop in your DIY coloured tile,” says Mangin. Plus, these tiles don’t require a tile cutter, just a utility knife to cut the mesh sheets to fit the area.</p> <p><strong>Fences</strong></p> <p>It’s been said that fences make good neighbours, but the price shock of hiring a pro seems worse than the dog next door who likes to do his business in your yard every morning. Whether you want privacy or need to replace a worn-out fence, it’s a project that Bryan Clayton, CEO of GreenPal says you can do if you remember to do two important things: get a survey done to identify the correct property lines, and mark for pipes if you have underground sprinklers. However, there are certain fences that are friendlier for a DIY home improvement. “Based on my experience the easier types of fencing to install are the black aluminium-based products made to look like wrought iron,” says Clayton. “However, for fencing styles such as chain link and solid vinyl panels, I would not recommend doing it yourself – there’s quite a bit of a learning curve associated with getting them just right.”</p> <p><strong>A lasting first impression</strong></p> <p>A faded, outdated, or squeaky door doesn’t make a good first impression and it may not provide much in the line of security or keeping out drafts. Luckily you can create a more welcoming entrance by replacing your old door with a new one. Exterior doors are available pre-hung in a weatherstripped frame so all you need are a few tools and basic carpentry tools to install it. Depending on your budget, you can choose from steel doors which require little maintenance, or fibreglass doors that require almost none. Going with steel or fibreglass can save you money over wood, and they won’t rot or warp; the more expensive ones look just like real wood.</p> <p><strong>Window screen</strong></p> <p>Using packing tape may be a quick remedy for a hole or tear in the screen, but it’s not a permanent fix. Small patch kits are sold at home improvement stores and a small hole can easily be repaired in just a few minutes with the patch and a hair dryer. Larger screen tears, like from your dog’s excitement over an online delivery, can be a DIY project too, as long as the frame is in good shape. The most popular replacement material for screens is fibreglass because of its flexibility. Since you’re replacing the screen anyway you may want to get the sun-shading fabric which blocks more sun and – bonus – is stronger than fibreglass and aluminium so it’s great for pets.</p> <p><strong>Light fixtures and plumbing fixtures</strong></p> <p>“As long as you familiarise yourself with the basics of proper safety procedures such as turning off electricity and water when working, these are DIY home improvements worth doing,” says Brian C. McHugh, owner of McHugh Construction. For lighting, the key is knowing how much space you have to house a new light fixture. For example, ceiling fans come in various blade sizes to suit the size of your room. If you’re replacing a bathroom tap, you’ll want to buy a tap that matches the existing holes in the sink. If you don’t feel confident in your DIY skills, though, it’s better to just do the choosing yourself and leave the installation to the professionals.</p> <p><strong>Caulk it up</strong></p> <p>Inspecting and repairing caulk is a project you should do yearly, according to Sassano. “Using caulk to seal cracks and gaps serves multiple purposes: It lowers heating and air conditioning bills by reducing air flow into and out of the home; it prevents moisture that can cause wood rot, mould, mildew and water damage, and it keeps insects and other pests out,” he says. The project will determine which type of caulk. For example, silicone is best for the bathtub and shower area. Start by removing the old caulk, cleaning the surface, and then apply new caulk. Caulk removal tools and solutions make the project even easier.</p> <p><strong>Landscaping</strong></p> <p>Creating a backyard oasis can be a great way to express your creativity. A raised garden bed, adding new paver stones, or creating a perennial flower garden involves more sweat equity than expertise. You can still get some help for the heavy lifting. “Ask your local landscape supply to deliver your materials instead of renting trucks or equipment,” says McHugh. “The tools for most jobs such as shovels, rakes and a wheelbarrow are things you probably already have in your garage.”</p> <p><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-44670a98-7fff-5184-42ee-20b15e18348f">Written by Lisa Marie Conklin. This article first appeared in <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/diy-projects/11-home-improvement-projects-you-can-do-yourself-instead-of-hiring-a-professional" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA87V" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here’s our best subscription offer.</a></span></em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

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Taking the bath out of bathrooms - does your house really need one?

<p dir="ltr">Though there’s something luxurious about being able to unwind in the bath with candles lit, soft music or even a glass of bubbles in hand, when it comes to the debate over keeping a shower or a bath, is the luxury actually worth it?</p> <p dir="ltr">The answer to this contentious debate will likely depend on a few different factors, such as your life stage, the size of your home and even if you plan on selling in the future.</p> <p dir="ltr">For Aucklander Cameron Nicholas, the $200,000 cost to include a large standalone bath in his bathroom was a must, having had to bathe two young children without one for the past four years.</p> <p dir="ltr">"It was a backbreaking nightmare, with me and my wife stooped over the shower trying to get them to stay still, one after the other, or squashing them like sardines into a tiny plastic tub," he told <em><a href="https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/homed/bathroom/98833034/does-your-bathroom-really-need-a-bath" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Stuff</a></em>. "My son used to say "I wish we had a big bath." </p> <p dir="ltr">After the renovation, Mr Nicholas was told by his local real estate agent the bath added at $100,000 to the home’s value - he also plans to never move into a home without one again.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>For some, it’s not a necessity</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Though young families benefit from having a bath, there are other circumstances where it isn’t a necessity or could actually deter potential buyers, according to Barfoot &amp; Thompson sales agent Kari-Lee Haldane.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I wouldn’t worry too much if there wasn’t a bath,” Ms Haldane told <em>Stuff</em>. “For smaller units that may attract a young couple or a more mature individual, a bath is not always a plus.”</p> <p dir="ltr">However, she recommends against removing a bath already installed if your home has more than three bedrooms, since it’s an appealing option for families.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>The best of both worlds can still be risky</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">If you are set on having a bath, there are plenty of options in terms of size, design, shape and style - and you can even combine it with a shower.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, interior designer Nicola Manning said running with a combined option could compromise both.</p> <p dir="ltr">“If you’re having a shower you have to step over the bath - this can be dangerous, especially for elderly,” she said. “You’ll have to use either a shower curtain or a glass screen which can often leak. And there’s limited choice available for shower bath options in shape and quality - most are acrylic.”</p> <p dir="ltr">If having a bath will hinder the functionality of your bathroom, you could opt for a quality shower instead.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Spend money on tiling, large glass panels, add a recess for products and twin shower heads,” Manning suggested.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>It all comes down to you</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Ultimately, deciding whether you want a bath or could live without one comes down to you.</p> <p dir="ltr">After considering your preferences, needs and any restrictions on space you might have, it’s also worth thinking about how often you’ll use it and how that affects its worth as an investment.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-05a86e22-7fff-7e0f-29f6-aa87af7561da"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

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If these things are in your freezer, toss them out

<p>Out of space in your freezer? Make room by ditching these items that are no longer any good to you.</p> <p><strong>Smelly ice cubes</strong></p> <p>There’s nothing refreshing about taking a big gulp of ice water and tasting the garlic you put in the freezer last week. Once ice cubes have taken on the scents around them, they’ll never get rid of them. Toss those and start fresh.</p> <p>If this is a problem you have found yourself facing, it might be time to invest in ice cube trays with lids – they can help preserve the ice cubes’ freshness and keep them odour-free.</p> <p><strong>Forgotten freezer meals</strong></p> <p>Look at you with your freezer full of healthy freezer meals! It’s great to plan ahead but don’t get overambitious with your meal prep.</p> <p>Prepared freezer meals should be eaten within three months. Try a first-in, first-out approach, and keep track of your freezer’s contents using labels.</p> <p><strong>Stale coffee beans</strong></p> <p>Storing ground coffee in the freezer can preserve freshness but be mindful of how long those beans have been sitting in there.</p> <p>Coffee beans absorb moisture, as well as the various tastes and smells around them, so make sure to use them within three months.</p> <p><strong>Freezer-burned veggies</strong></p> <p>How long has that bag of frozen mixed veggies been sitting in the back of your freezer? If it survived your last move, it’s time to toss it.</p> <p>Frozen veggies can be kept in the freezer for about three months – or shorter, if freezer burn has crept in.</p> <p><strong>Thawed meat</strong></p> <p>We love keeping a supply of chicken freezer meals on hand for busy weeknights. Once meat like chicken begins to thaw, though, it starts to grow bacteria.</p> <p>If your freezer isn’t functioning at the optimal freezer temperature, the meat inside can start to thaw without anyone the wiser, which can be unsafe.</p> <p><strong>Freezer-burned meat</strong></p> <p>Most commonly, though, it’s freezer burn you should fear. Given enough time, it will render your meat dry and tasteless.</p> <p>If you notice small ice crystals in the packaging, or can’t remember how long the meat has even been in the freezer, it’s time for it to go. Tightly sealing your meat before freezing it is a good way to ward off freezer burn.</p> <p><strong>Old deli meat</strong></p> <p>Deli meat is one of those items that is very convenient to have on hand, but which spoils quickly. The good news is that you can definitely freeze deli meat. Even with proper preparation, however, it can only last up to two months in the freezer.</p> <p>After that, even if it remains safe to eat, it won’t taste very good. Just as with other meats, deli meat should be tightly sealed and wrapped before it’s frozen.</p> <p><strong>Pastries with creamy filling</strong></p> <p>Once you’ve gone to the trouble of making a heavenly cheese danish from scratch, the last thing you want to do is throw away the leftovers.</p> <p>But pastries and other treats with cheese or creamy filling don’t keep well in the freezer; in fact, many of the foods that cannot be frozen are dairy products. Toss those cheese danishes after a month (or just eat them to avoid this problem altogether).</p> <p><strong>Unrecognisable leftovers</strong></p> <p>We love finding creative ways to repurpose leftovers; they just won’t last in the freezer forever. Most leftover dishes will keep for two to six months in the freezer.</p> <p>If they’ve been sitting for a while and you can’t remember what the food was in the first place, pitch it and start over.</p> <p><strong>Old ice cream</strong></p> <p>Most of us don’t have the problem of ice cream lasting too long in our homes but if you happen to have more self-control, you may find yourself in this predicament. If your tub of ice cream is older than three to four months, it’s time for it to go.</p> <p>So grab a bowl and a spoon before time is up! If you have a new large tub, try dividing it up and storing it in individual serving containers to help preserve that fresh flavour.</p> <p><strong>Freezer-burned bread</strong></p> <p>If you have more fresh bread than you know what to do with, and don’t want it to go stale before you have a chance to enjoy it, then popping it in the freezer is a great idea. But bread only lasts in the freezer for about six months. After that, freezer burn will likely have ravaged its good taste and texture.</p> <p>If you find a loaf in the back of the freezer that’s been there for who knows how long, then it needs to go. To keep it fresh as long as possible, make sure to wrap it tightly in a layer of plastic wrap, and then in a layer of foil or freezer paper. Pro tip: slice your bread before freezing, so you only ever have to remove what you need.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/home-tips/if-these-things-are-in-your-freezer-toss-them-out?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>.</em></p>

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What adds value to your house? How to decide between renovating and selling

<p>The government’s <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/homebuilder">HomeBuilder</a> scheme allows <a href="https://www.corelogic.com.au/news/homebuilder-renovations-where-are-most-owner-occupied-dwellings-below-15-million">certain</a> home owners to apply for a tax-free grant of A$25,000 if they are spending between $150,000 and $750,000 renovating a home or building a new home. Eligibility criteria are strict.</p> <p>The scheme has boosted renovation talk in some circles (although, as CoreLogic has <a href="https://www.corelogic.com.au/news/vacuum-effect-and-its-implications-homebuilder-scheme">pointed</a> out, it may merely bring forward works that were already planned).</p> <p>Here are some questions to ask yourself when trying to decide between renovating and moving – and how to add value to your existing home.</p> <h2>What adds value to a house?</h2> <p>Property market observers <a href="https://www.domain.com.au/advice/how-to-make-your-home-stand-out-when-selling-932031/">advise</a> updating or renewing bathrooms or kitchens – even small fixes such as replacing a cracked or dated splashback, replacing a bath or adding skylights can go a long way.</p> <p>Think about easy repairs that create an invaluable good first impression – a fixed-up fence, a new carpet or resurfaced flooring or even good old decluttering.</p> <p>But remember you’ll only qualify for HomeBuilder if you plan to spend at least $150,000 on an owner-occupied home worth no more than A$1.5 million (CoreLogic has <a href="https://www.corelogic.com.au/news/homebuilder-renovations-where-are-most-owner-occupied-dwellings-below-15-million">listed</a> which suburbs have the most owner-occupied properties under A$1.5 million).</p> <h2>Factors to consider if you’re thinking of renovating</h2> <p>How long till you retire? How secure is your employment? Thinking carefully about your earning potential between now and retirement will help you understand how what you can borrow and afford. If you are planning to stay, you will get the benefit and enjoyment of the renovations. </p> <p>Do you need to stay close to school or work? If that’s a consideration, renovating may be worth more to you than buying further out.</p> <p>Look closely at what your property is worth (there are plenty of online calculators) and keep track of how much similar local properties with one extra bedroom or bathroom sell for. That will give you a sense of the value-add to your home equity that a renovation might represent. </p> <p>Be honest with yourself about the total cost of renovation. There are myriad expenses not always initially apparent. These may include:</p> <ul> <li>planning fees (the cost of getting a development assessed by council)</li> <li>the cost of architectural drawings</li> <li>consultants’ fees for environmental impact statements or arborists’ reports</li> <li>extra costs due to a heritage listing</li> <li>renting, if it’s not possible to live at home during renovation</li> <li>the cost of protecting underground public assets such as water or sewerage pipes</li> <li>extra costs caused by poor access or other limitations.</li> </ul> <p>Consider the possible long-term savings of retrofitting your home to be more energy-efficient. Proper insulation, secondary glazing, draught excluders and solar PV energy are expensive upfront but will save on long term running costs. It’s likely, as energy costs increase, homes that are at least partially off grid will be more attractive and valuable over time. </p> <p>And remember that for some, even with help from HomeBuilder, renovation won’t stack up economically.</p> <p>Some older people may eschew home renovation to put money aside to help children get a foot on the property ladder. </p> <p>Others may decide potentially expensive renovation is worth it to hold onto a family home to which children return as they get older. It might sound sentimental but the idea of Christmas in the family homestead is worth it, for some. </p> <h2>Tax considerations</h2> <p>Find out what tax breaks, if any, you might be eligible for if you renovate to divide the family home into a smaller space (if you’re keen to downsize, or enhance the accessibility of your home, for example) and adding a self-contained granny flat. </p> <p>However, if the granny flat is leased out, this section of the home would be considered income-producing. Your “main residence” is generally <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/General/Capital-gains-tax/Your-home-and-other-real-estate/Your-main-residence/">exempt</a> from capital gains tax when it comes time to sell, but you may not qualify entirely for this exemption if a section of the property is income-producing.</p> <p>You may also consider remodelling the family home into a duplex and, depending on council planning laws, convert the title into dual occupancy. However, these suggestions may complicate eligibility for the HomeBuilder grant (which seems to exclude property investors, although there’s no mention of partly converting the main place into a dual occupancy). </p> <p>The best option here is to seek advice from a tax specialist.</p> <h2>Factors to consider if you’re thinking of selling up and buying elsewhere</h2> <p>Use a <a href="https://www.realestate.com.au/home-loans/stamp-duty-calculator">stamp-duty calculator</a> and <a href="https://www.localagentfinder.com.au/selling-costs-calculator">cost-of-selling calculator</a> to get a rough idea of those costs.</p> <p>How important is proximity to work? Particularly if the coronavirus pandemic has opened your (or your employer’s) eyes to working remotely, would you consider a move to a more remote area where you can afford a bigger house?</p> <p>Chat with a range of real estate agents and get into the habit of reading market media coverage. Have a sense of what houses sell for that featured your desired attributes (such as more bedrooms or off-street parking). </p> <p>As a chartered building surveyor, I’d advise would-be downsizers to be cautious when buying a brand new high-rise apartment, due to risks of potentially costly defects that might become apparent over time. </p> <p>And remember, even if you do sell and buy a new place, very few are able to find the perfect home. You may decide to make renovations anyway.</p> <p>There are no easy answers. It comes down to your individual circumstances, your attitude to risk and ensuring you have a good grasp of the relative costs of each option. </p> <p>Talk to a financial adviser, tax accountant, real estate agents, builders, architects and others who have been through each process about what they’d do differently next time.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-adds-value-to-your-house-how-to-decide-between-renovating-and-selling-140627" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>

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What is laundry stripping?

<p>Ready for an oddly satisfying way to clean your laundry? Laundry stripping is a method of washing clothes, sheets, and towels that allows you to actually see all the dirt and grime that’s hanging out on your supposedly clean linens. It’s kind of gross; but also totally gratifying when you’re done, knowing your laundry is probably the cleanest it has ever been.</p> <p>Here’s everything you need to know about laundry stripping – and how to DIY.</p> <p><strong>What is laundry stripping?</strong></p> <p>Laundry stripping is essentially a soaking method meant to deep-clean your laundry. The soak is done in a borax solution that removes built-up residue from detergent, hard water, body oils and fabric softener.</p> <p>What makes it so satisfying (but also might leave you slightly horrified) is that often the soaking water turns brown or grey from all the gunk that is “stripped” away from your linens!</p> <p><strong>How to strip your laundry</strong></p> <p>What you'll need is:</p> <p>Borax</p> <p>Washing soda (sodium carbonate)</p> <p>Laundry detergent</p> <p>Bath (or large bucket)</p> <p><strong>Step 1: Make the soaking bath</strong></p> <p>First, you’ll need a vessel large enough to soak the linens you want to strip. We recommend using the bathtub, but you also could use a large bucket or bin. Fill the bathtub with hot water. Add one part borax, one part washing soda, and two parts laundry detergent. For a bathtub, we recommend 1/4 cup borax, 1/4 cup washing soda, and 1/2 cup detergent.</p> <p>Gently stir the water to dissolve the powders.</p> <p><strong>Step 2: Soak the linens</strong></p> <p>Add clean laundry to the water, completely submerging it. Let everything soak about four to five hours, or until the water is cool. Stir the water and swish the laundry around occasionally; the movement helps to remove the dirt and grime from the fabric.</p> <p><strong>Step 3: Rinse</strong></p> <p>Remove the laundry from the bath and drain the water. (Don’t forget to admire the gross murky brown colour!) Now run the laundry through the washing machine, using a rinse cycle without detergent. Dry the laundry as you normally would; then enjoy your crisp, super clean linens!</p> <p><strong>When you should (and should not!) use laundry stripping</strong></p> <p>Laundry stripping is great for sheets and towels because those items are used frequently and can easily collect a build-up of body oils and detergents. If your towels feel less absorbent than usual, and your sheets look a little dingy, it might be time to try your hand at laundry stripping.</p> <p>Be careful with colourful linens, because laundry stripping can cause dyes to run. You’ll also want to avoid delicate linens like lace or embroidered pieces. Also, clothing isn’t a great candidate for stripping.</p> <p>Remember, laundry stripping requires hot water; so keep that in mind and check care label tags before you get started.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/home-tips/what-is-laundry-stripping" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>.</em></p>

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Bunnings' big play to boost property market

<p dir="ltr">Bunnings has announced it will be expanding its services offered to trade customers in a move that will corner the market for small to medium builders.</p> <p dir="ltr">The DIY giant will be increasing the number of its frame and truss sites, which fabricate and supply timber materials to make house frames, as reported by <em><a href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/bunnings-to-expand-timber-truss-and-frame-plants-in-australia/ee8a59e1-7d30-46f4-a938-46ad2ed4e4e4" target="_blank" rel="noopener">9News</a></em>.</p> <p dir="ltr">With just three stores offering this service currently, the retailer said it will open more over the next 18 months.</p> <p dir="ltr">Ben McIntosh, Bunnings’ chief operating officer, said this expansion will help the company service commercial customers “end to end”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Bunnings has operated frame and truss plants in Australia for over 20 years, and it’s an area that we see a lot of opportunity,” Mr McIntosh said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We are excited to be expanding our participation in this market, improving our offer and working with even more customers to provide solutions for their projects, end to end.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The expansion plans form part of our wider commercial strategy as we continue to be a trusted partner to builders, from the moment they are planning to build, right through to the fit out.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The frame and truss centres pre-fabricate and supply roof and wall trusses, as well as wall frames. </p> <p dir="ltr">Trade customers, who must apply for a Bunnings Commercial PowerPass, can either attend the centres in-person or have the Bunnings team come to their work site or office and provide quoting, estimating and detailing.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-089058df-7fff-7638-eecb-c2ca62b31dfd"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Bunnings</em></p>

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Helpful tips to declutter

<p dir="ltr">A dream come true would be living in a house that doesn’t require cleaning or decluttering every so often.</p> <p dir="ltr">Unfortunately, that is only a dream and is probably a bit too unrealistic because of family, pets, kids and the usual rushing out of the house in the morning. </p> <p dir="ltr">But decluttering doesn’t have to be that hard, especially once you set your mind to it. </p> <p dir="ltr">Here are five of the best tips to help you get started on becoming a minimalist. </p> <ol> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation"><strong>Divide clothes into piles</strong></p> </li> </ol> <p dir="ltr">Have three piles for your clothes: keep, donate, throw away. </p> <p dir="ltr">Once you have sorted your clothes into their respected pile, you know what to do. </p> <ol start="2"> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation"><strong>Organise your books</strong></p> </li> </ol> <p dir="ltr">We all have books that we absolutely love even if we haven’t touched it in years. </p> <p dir="ltr">Now is the time to organise them similarly to your clothes but with only two piles: keep and donate.</p> <p dir="ltr">If you throw books away, you’re a monster!</p> <ol start="3"> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation"><strong>Clean out your fridge</strong></p> </li> </ol> <p dir="ltr">How long has that microwave meal been sitting in the back of the fridge? Immediately throw it away.</p> <p dir="ltr">Anything that you do not use or require should be taken out. </p> <ol start="4"> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation"><strong>Keep the counters clean</strong></p> </li> </ol> <p dir="ltr">Put simply, clean as you go. If you’re using a certain pot or pan to cook, once it’s washed put it back where it belongs. </p> <ol start="5"> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation"><strong>Throw away old magazine/newspapers</strong></p> </li> </ol> <p dir="ltr">Why are those old magazines and newspapers just laying around in the living room? </p> <p dir="ltr">If you don’t need them, throw them away. You could always find it online anyway. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

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5 things you should never cook in an air fryer

<p>You can air fry almost anything. And why wouldn’t you want to? There’s a reason these appliances have seemingly taken over everyone’s kitchens. Air fryers can imitate the results of deep-frying with some intense hot air and only a fraction of the oil. With this healthier alternative, crispy foods don’t have to be reserved for nights out and special occasions. But, there are foods that just shouldn’t be seen near an air fryer. Before cooking with your air fryer, see which foods won’t work – even though they may be tempting to throw in there.</p> <p><strong>Battered foods</strong></p> <p>Unless the food is pre-fried and frozen, you’ll want to avoid placing wet batter in the air fryer. Aside from the obvious mess it will create, wet batter won’t set the way it does when it’s submerged in oil, meaning the food won’t have that crunchy shell. If you’d like to add a little crispiness to your food, coat in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs.</p> <p><strong>Fresh greens</strong></p> <p>Leafy greens, like spinach, will cook unevenly and are very likely to burn due to the air fryer’s high-speed air. When choosing vegetables to cook in the air fryer, make sure they hold some weight, like broccoli or zucchini. Kale chips may also be successful if coated in enough oil to weigh them down. Ultimately, experts say that frozen veggies are the way to go when it comes to air fryers because they retain more moisture from the ice.</p> <p><strong>Whole roasts</strong></p> <p>The apparent issue with whole roasts is whether or not it will even fit properly into an air fryer basket, but even if it does fit, it’s best to just stick to the regular oven. The roast will not cook evenly, with the part closest to the heat source likely to burn by the time the part furthest away is safe to eat. The problem comes down to overcrowding. Since the hot air needs room to appropriately circulate, the most successful method would be to cook the roast in smaller pieces. If cooking a chicken, make sure the skin is facing up as air fryers heat from the top.</p> <p><strong>Cheese</strong></p> <p>Who wouldn’t love to instantly make some fried cheese to snack on? Since the air fryer isn’t truly ‘frying’ the food, placing cheese in it without some sort of coating will just melt the cheese into a puddle and create a mess you don’t want to clean up.</p> <p><strong>Raw grains</strong></p> <p>Grains such as rice and pasta can crisp nicely in an air fryer, but they have to be cooked on the stovetop first. Air fryers are intended to dry cooked food, so trying to cook something that needs to be immersed in water to cook properly won’t work. Even with an insert that allows you to place water inside the air fryer, the fan will never get hot enough to boil the water and successfully cook your grains.</p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/kitchen-tips/5-things-you-should-never-cook-in-an-air-fryer" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader’s Digest</a>.</em></p>

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6 things plumbers never do in their own homes

<p>Plumbing is something we often take for granted, but without it we wouldn’t have warm showers, toilets that flush or the means to pressure wash the driveway. Not only that, a working plumbing system is key to sanitation – in your home and your community.</p> <p>“It is a known motto in the plumbing community that the plumber protects the health of the nation,” says licensed plumber Aaron Mulder. “As soon as you don’t have working plumbing systems in a country, things start to deteriorate.”</p> <p>That’s why, Mulder says, homeowners need to pay attention to the plumbing in their homes. This involves things like fixing leaks in a timely manner, replacing broken parts before they completely fail and regularly checking water pressure.</p> <p>Perhaps even more importantly, it’s avoiding common behaviours that wreak havoc on a home’s plumbing system. What are those behaviours? We went straight to the plumbers themselves to find out.</p> <p>Here are six things professional plumbers would never do in their own homes.</p> <p><strong>Plumbers don’t flush baby wipes down the toilet</strong></p> <p>The box may say the wipes are flushable, but the truth is there are only two things that should be ever be flushed – toilet paper and human waste, says Mulder. Everything else, from feminine hygiene products to paper towels and beyond, will undoubtedly clog your pipes – if not right away, eventually.</p> <p>These items can also clog up the entire sewer system. Over time, this can create a big expensive mess at your city’s sewage treatment plant, not to mention a threat to public health. Instead, do what plumbers do and toss disposable baby wipes in the garbage bin.</p> <p><strong>Plumbers don’t use harsh chemicals in drains</strong></p> <p>If you routinely pour a store-bought drain cleaner down the sink to do away with clogs, stop immediately. These cleaners are not just ineffective, they are caustic, says plumber Terry O’Shea, who warns chemical drain cleaners can burn your pipes and your skin, if you touch them.</p> <p>And the claims that these cleaners dissolve hair? Nope.</p> <p>“It (might) burn away some of the hair and gunk … but at the end of the day it is not going to stop that buildup from reoccurring,” Mulder says. “It is just (pushing) down to where the chemical didn’t reach.”</p> <p>What should you do about clogs? Plumber-recommended enzymatic drain cleaners are usually safe, or you can try a drain auger (sometimes called a plumbing snake), O’Shea says. Don’t give in to the temptation to use a hanger for the job though, says Mulder. Anything rigid can damage the pipe and cause a whole slew of issues, like leaks, broken seals, bad smells and bug infestations (yuck!).</p> <p><strong>Plumbers don’t pour grease down the drain</strong></p> <p>You just cooked some bacon and need to get rid of the grease. You have a few options, but pouring it down the kitchen sink is not one of them, says Mulder.</p> <p>Initially, the grease will stick to the walls of your pipes and start clogging your drain. Eventually, some of that grease will make it to the sewer, where it mixes with all the other raw sewage (along with those baby wipes that shouldn’t be there). The result? A disgusting sewer-damaging blob called a fatberg. Last year, waste treatment officials in England discovered a fatberg that was more than 60 metres long.</p> <p>We know you don’t want to contribute to such a monstrosity. Instead, Mulder advises scraping congealed grease into the garbage bin, or pouring warm grease into a can or jar to throw away later. Some people even save grease for further use in the kitchen.</p> <p><strong>Plumbers don’t take the term “garbage disposal” literally</strong></p> <p>Despite the name, your sink’s garbage disposal is not meant to dispose of garbage, says Mulder. Small scraps of certain types of food (and the milk at the bottom of your cereal bowl) are OK. But eggshells, hunks of meat, and coffee grounds, among other things, should not go down your garbage disposal.</p> <p>“(These items) are overworking the unit, or overheating it,” Mulder says. If you do this continually, Mulder says, it will damage and ultimately ruin the garbage disposal.</p> <p>And that’s not the only thing. Since the disposal isn’t designed to break down the food, that leftover chicken will rot in your pipes. Before long, you’ll have an unpleasant odour and a dirty job to deal with. Save yourself the trouble and expense by composting or throwing away food scraps.</p> <p><strong>Plumbers don’t put off preventive maintenance</strong></p> <p>Like cars, plumbing systems need regular maintenance even when nothing is amiss. Plumbers know the importance of keeping up on said maintenance in their homes, so they can minimise the possibility of something major going wrong, like a leak, corrosion or a septic tank issue.</p> <p>Mulder says it is particularly important to do an annual pressure check to make sure your water pressure is in a safe range. To meet Australian Standards, the standard maximum is 45-55 PSI (pounds per square inch). The PSI requirements differ from country to country. You can buy a water pressure gauge at your local hardware store.</p> <p>Other preventive maintenance activities include checking for leaks and clogs, and making sure you don’t have any broken internal parts in your toilets, sinks or tubs/showers. He also recommends checking your supply lines – a.k.a. the hoses that allow water to travel from the main water line to individual fixtures – to make sure they are still in good shape. Many homeowners, he says, are surprised to find out supply lines are typically only rated for three to five years of use.</p> <p><strong>Plumbers don’t prolong the investigation of the problem</strong></p> <p>Nobody ever wants to scrap their weekend plans at the last minute to deal with a plumbing problem. But if you wake up one morning and find a pool of water under your washing machine, it’s wise to deal with it right away, says Mulder.</p> <p>“If you think you have a water leak … you definitely want to get it looked at before it becomes a bigger issue,” he says, adding that plumbing problems are not the type that correct themselves over time.</p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/diy-tips/6-things-plumbers-never-do-in-their-own-homes" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader’s Digest</a>.</em></p>

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Follow this cleaning schedule to keep your home spotless

<p>Whether you’re a neat freak or the type of person who only tidies up before major holidays (or fall somewhere in between), you can stay on track by following a cleaning schedule. Our cleaning checklist, which includes a timeline for the kitchen and the bathroom, tells you what to address and when, so nothing gets so dirty that it takes hours to clean or is left beyond repair.</p> <p>“If you put in even 20 minutes of effort a day, you’ll keep chaos at bay,” says Vera Peterson, president of housecleaning company Molly Maid.</p> <p><strong>Before you start cleaning</strong></p> <p>Step 1. Gather your cleaning supplies.</p> <p>Peterson recommends creating two to three cleaning caddies, each of which has been specially created for a specific area of the house (bathroom, kitchen, bedrooms, etc.) and includes everything you need to get straight to work.</p> <p>Step 2. Move clutter out of the way.</p> <p>Overall, the less stuff you have, the less stuff you must put away, dust, clean and maintain. Stack papers and books in neat piles, and group like items on a shelf or in a corner.</p> <p>Step 3. Group chores by task when monthly or deep cleaning.</p> <p>When you’re doing a whole-house monthly or deep cleaning, it can be faster to group similar chores, such as cleaning mirrors or vacuuming, than go room by room. With the tools already in hand, you’ll be able to finish them up in no time.</p> <p><strong>Daily cleaning schedule </strong></p> <p>Your daily cleaning schedule focuses on tasks you need to do frequently, like making your bed and washing the dishes. The good news is that these tasks are quick and make an immediate difference. Here are more tips for everyday cleaning:</p> <p>Instead of breaking out your stick vacuum daily, invest in a programmable robot vacuum and you won’t even have to think about cleaning your floors.</p> <p>Fingerprints on the taps and toothpaste spots in the sink are almost inevitable. Store sanitising wipes under the vanity to quickly clean them.</p> <p>When you’re finished washing the dinner dishes, sprinkle the kitchen sink with baking soda and scrub it with a slightly damp sponge.</p> <p>After each shower, squeegee the glass or tile walls to prevent watermarks and mildew.</p> <p><strong>Weekly cleaning schedule </strong></p> <p>The chores on the weekly cleaning schedule are a bit more time intensive than the daily ones. The payoff is that the additional attention to these areas now means they’ll be easier to clean than if you pushed the task off another few weeks. These are a few things to consider as you do your weekly cleaning:</p> <p>If you don’t use your microwave regularly, you can get away with cleaning it every other week.</p> <p>When mopping, start at the farthest corner of the room and move back toward the entrance. Rinse the mop after completing each 1.2m x 1.2m area to keep your water fresh.</p> <p>To clean mirrors, use a glass cleaner and microfibre cloth (or newspaper), wipe across the mirror in a broad “S” pattern, working from edge to edge, top to bottom.</p> <p>Don’t forget to dust doors, windowsills and light fixtures (turn them off first). When dusting, move a microfibre cloth from left to right and top to bottom for the best results. High-touch surfaces, such as door handles, light switches and television remotes, are gathering spots for dirt and bacteria. Spray or wipe the surface with a multipurpose cleaner, followed by a disinfectant. Allow it to sit for the recommended amount of time, according to the instructions, then rinse or wipe the surface to remove residue.</p> <p>While you have the vacuum out, do a quick pass over your curtains and any upholstered furniture.</p> <p>Dirty cleaning tools only spread grime. Remember to wash microfibre cloths, sanitise your sponges, and wipe the handle and base of your vacuum and clean its filter.</p> <p><strong>Monthly cleaning schedule</strong></p> <p>The monthly cleaning schedule addresses bigger tasks that require both more time and more equipment. Think of it as an investment in your appliances and your home, and you’ll recognise that it’s time and effort well spent. Here are some things to keep in mind:</p> <p>To clean the splashback, mix one cup baking soda, one cup hydrogen peroxide, and a degreasing dishwashing liquid. The combination breaks down the greasy buildup that is common in most kitchen areas, Peterson says.</p> <p>How you degrease the rangehood depends on if it’s removable or not. Soak a removable range hood in hot, soapy water. Otherwise, clean it in place with a soft, damp, soapy cloth.</p> <p>While you’re cleaning your fridge, toss any old or expired food and wipe down the shelves and drawers.</p> <p>It is possible to get even the grimiest bathroom grout lines clean with extra elbow grease and our secret cleaning concoction: Mix one cup of baking soda with one cup of hydrogen peroxide and scrub with a toothbrush.</p> <p>Mattresses need love too. To refresh yours, sprinkle it with baking soda, let it sit for 20 minutes, then vacuum.</p> <p>To clean skirting boards without bending, run a broom with a microfibre towel tied over its bristles along them. To dust ceiling fans, turn them off, then use an extendable duster to clean the blades and remove dust and any built-up grime.</p> <p>For streak-free windows, spray them with glass cleaner and wipe them with newspapers. Or for hard-to-reach spots, use a telescoping squeegee. Finish by whisking away debris from the window track with a crevice brush.</p> <p><strong>Deep cleaning schedule </strong></p> <p>Every three to six months, roll up your sleeves (and call in some help, if necessary) to knock out the deep cleaning house checklist. These tasks are bigger projects for sure, but they help keep your home looking its best. Keep these points in mind as you prepare to deep clean:</p> <p>You’ll be amazed at how many crumbs you have under your stove and cobwebs lurking behind your fridge. Pull each appliance out to sweep and clean behind them. Vacuum any refrigerator coils to improve its energy efficiency.</p> <p>After you empty your kitchen drawers, wipe them down and thoroughly wash any organisers.</p> <p>To clean window screens, remove them from the window, then loosen grime by lightly scrubbing them with a very soft bristle brush dipped in an all-purpose cleaner mixed with warm water. Rinse with an outdoor hose.</p> <p>Clean and organise your closet and dresser drawers.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared in <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/home-tips/follow-this-cleaning-schedule-to-keep-your-home-spotless" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>.</em></p>

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Get the kitchen you’ve always wanted!

<p dir="ltr">The kitchen is quite possibly everybody’s favourite place because that’s where all the delicious food is – obviously.</p> <p dir="ltr">And because we keep walking in and out every day, it’s also fairly easy to get tired of the same old same old. However, if you don’t have the kind of ready cash needed for a full-blown renovation, worry not – there are plenty of things you can do that will result in a splendid makeover to keep things feeling fresh and new. </p> <p dir="ltr">Start with these easy basics: </p> <ol> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation"><strong>Paint </strong></p> </li> </ol> <p dir="ltr">Almost everything in the kitchen can be painted and if you want to feel like it's a brand new room in the house, then why not? </p> <p dir="ltr">From cabinets, walls, trims, splashback and even floors – paint can be splashed wherever you like. </p> <ol start="2"> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation"><strong>Pantry makeover</strong></p> </li> </ol> <p dir="ltr">Instead of keeping your dry foods in their bags or boxes, just empty them into a clear container and label it. Not only would you have so much more room but imagine how organised your pantry would be.</p> <p dir="ltr">Baskets can also be used for fruits or veggies. Don’t forget to use racks and brackets on the back of the door to hold spices, paper towels, aprons, dustpans and brooms.</p> <ol start="3"> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation"><strong>Replace handles and fixtures</strong></p> </li> </ol> <p dir="ltr">If you’re feeling just that little bit more imaginative, why not replace the door knobs and drawer pulls with something else that could go with the fresh coat of paint? </p> <ol start="4"> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation"><strong>Update appliances</strong></p> </li> </ol> <p dir="ltr">Do you even remember the last time you bought new appliances? Grab your coat and head to the shops and buy that new toaster or kettle that you’ve been dying to get. </p> <ol start="5"> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation"><strong>Create a signature nook</strong></p> </li> </ol> <p dir="ltr">It seems that almost every kitchen has that weird corner/cupboard that just doesn’t really need to be there. </p> <p dir="ltr">However, that space can actually be used to put items away, or have your baked goods on display. The kitchen (world) is your oyster.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

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Easy ways to update your kitchen

<p dir="ltr">The kitchen is the heart of a home. Given how much time we spend there, each and every day, it needs to be functional and feel a little bit special.</p> <p dir="ltr">While a full kitchen renovation can be costly and time-consuming, there are lots of simple ways to update a tired kitchen that don’t require getting out a sledgehammer or taking out a second mortgage. We’re talking freshly painted cabinet doors, some new light fittings or door handles and hardworking storage.</p> <h3 dir="ltr">1. Paint everything</h3> <p dir="ltr">Paint can be such an amazing tool for changing the look and feel of a room. When it comes to kitchens, the cabinets, walls, trims, splashback, even floors can be painted — the trick is to select the right finish. Consider a high-wearing enamel paint for the trims, an easy-clean semi-gloss for the cabinet doors and a low-sheen paint for walls.</p> <p dir="ltr">Don’t forget to do your prep work, too. A light sand and scrub followed by a coat of primer will ensure an even finish and a longer lasting result.</p> <h3 dir="ltr">2. Makeover your pantry</h3> <p dir="ltr">Keep your pantry contents easily accessible using a range of storage options. Decant dry goods into clear, labelled containers and group like items together, such as grains, spices, condiments and so on. Baskets are good for loose items like potatoes and onions, while tubs will keep kids’ snacks in order. Use racks and brackets on the back of the door to hold spices, paper towel, aprons, dustpans and brooms.</p> <h3 dir="ltr">3. Replace handles and fixtures</h3> <p dir="ltr">This quick and easy trick will instantly refresh and elevate the look of your kitchen. Simply unscrew your existing kitchen doorknobs and drawer pulls and replace with something to suit your new aesthetic. Installing a new sink, tapware or statement pendant will require a little more skill, but the results will be equally effective.</p> <h3 dir="ltr">4. Update your appliances</h3> <p dir="ltr">If your kitchen is getting on in years, chances are your appliances aren’t functioning as well as they could. Upgrading to a newer model with multiple functions will be life-changing. The same goes for small appliances like toasters, kettles and mixers. </p> <h3 dir="ltr">5. Create a signature nook</h3> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-a0bee2e2-7fff-02ef-11de-2033b9f3e822"></span></p> <p dir="ltr">Many kitchens have a tricky corner that doesn’t really serve a purpose, so why not utilise this space for a specific need? For example, turning a corner of the benchtop into a dedicated display area for baked goods. Take this idea and tailor it to you.</p>

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