How to Transform Your Pool into Maldives-Esque Waters
Luxury pool

Take a look around most of the properties featured on this site and one thing is pretty consistent; they're all luxurious. Such luxury is usually accompanied by expensive fittings and therefore, swimming pools are more often than not included in either the indoor or outdoor capacity.

Now, the title of this post might sound a little bizarre considering the fact that winter hasn't really started yet (or it doesn't seem to have, here in the UK). However, in an effort to make your pool the pride of the neighbourhood, you need to start the legwork now. It might only be January, but when you see that crystal, Maldives-esque water in your back garden by the start of summer — all of this preparation will have been well worth it.

Therefore, if you are lucky enough to boast a pool like the ones featured on this site, read on to get the most out of it. Gone are the days when it's made up of that Thames-like water, now’s the time to convert to something more continental…

The obvious one — remove any debris from the cover

Autumn has come and gone and that means one thing, leaves and all other sorts of debris are starting to accumulate on your cover. Rather than leave them to eventually find their way to the bottom of the pool, simply fish them out before they get the chance.

A lot of people also don't realise the harm that sitting water can do. Water that's been allowed to sit on the cover, stagnant for weeks, being polluted by all sorts of outside nasty’s is a recipe for a contaminated pool. Get rid of it, via a pump or other means, to again prevent it seeping in.

Leave the cover looking spotless

On the subject of suring up the cover and removing anything that shouldn't be there, you may as well give it a thorough clean in the process. Even though there might not be any obvious debris left on it, a dirty cover certainly doesn't bode well for the pool underneath and is the sure-fast way to again get water looking like the Thames.

Keep the water level steady

Unless it's been for a drunken dare, nobody in their right mind will have ventured into your pool for the last few months. This leads a lot of people to automatically assume that the water will be at the exact level as when you last dipped a toe in.

This couldn't be further from the truth. The differing temperatures usually prompt some sort of water loss and you need to check your skimmer to see just what level your pool is at. If it's too low, the pump might struggle to work efficiently and this will immediately hinder the quality of your water.

Circulate the water for the rest of the day

Once you've completed the above tasks, you're (almost) there. However, before you pull back over the covers for good, you still need to check the pump. Just like any piece of major electrical equipment, this is something that can quite easily fail when it has not been run for a significant amount of time. Therefore, get it started for the next twelve hours or so. Make sure it's working correctly, alongside any of the filters and hoses.

Check everything is in good working order

After the twelve hour cycle is complete, you're almost there. This is the time where everything should be in pristine condition and to double-check this, you need to monitor the chemical levels. Check the pH level, alkalinity as well as any other factors that the manufacturer has specified. If anything is untoward, add your swimming pool chlorine and other chemicals to balance things up.

Hopefully — that's your lot. While we wouldn't advocate jumping in just yet, your pool is at least ready to use as soon as the warmer months arrive. As well as being merely ready, it should also look a hell of a lot cleaner and enticing than the water that would have greeted you if you’d just slammed the covers off at the start of May.

16.1.14
Top 4 Wall Coverings For The Ultimate Contemporary Dwelling
Luxury tree house

If you've come across this blog you're most likely looking for inspiration for your next self-build or perhaps for alterations to your existing property. Alternatively, you might just be gasping at some of the exquisite designs that are featured - which all give the impression that they are put together by individuals who make more money in a month than you or I do in a lifetime.

While that last statement might unfortunately be true, you don't have to be featured in the Times Rich List to transform your home into a contemporary and expensive-looking dwelling. Building technology is progressing at a frantic pace and this means that a lot of these materials are completely affordable. Of course, if you're looking to put together an exterior comprised solely of granite or another precious stone, you might be out of luck. But for most people, this article might just highlight some of the best looking wall coverings that don't have to cost the earth.

Unlike several years ago, all of these options are completely safe from a structural point of view as well. There are now countless render and mortar waterproofing products that can completely seal a home, and make dampness a thing of the past at the same time. Therefore, without further ado, our post will now take a look at our favourite external wall coverings that can completely transform the outer appearance of your home.

Stone Cladding

If you’re looking to make the next contemporary sensation, constructing a house out of stone probably doesn’t seem like the most sensible way to do it. However, we’re not talking about the big blocks of stone you find propping up barns in the British countryside — but rather the slender cladding options that can now be considered.

Nowadays, it’s possible to acquire a cladded version of stone that arrives in countless varieties. Some will mimic that countryside option, but others are much ‘cleaner’ and will suit a modern dwelling down to the ground. Of course, the main hindrance with stone is usually the price yet with this being a manmade option, it means that costs are generally kept to a minimum.

Glass Cladding

There are countless glass buildings featured on this site and in some regards, one could argue that this is a material which is almost a prerequisite for the ‘contemporary’ description. This is unquestionably the most expensive level of external finish, although the effect it can have can be mesmerizing. Prices have dropped over the years and you can get away with lower quality glass, which may have less sound proofing characteristics than some of the premium versions available.

Timber Panels

Timber might sound like a budget material and in a lot of instances, it is. However, don’t be under the impression that this is something which is going to create a cheap, hut-like appearance. A house with wood panels can look stunning, particularly if it is combined with other materials such as glass. You only have to look at the Canadian House featured on the blog to show how timber can work so well as a covering. It also goes without saying that it’s one of those materials which can be customized the most, with so many different types of paints and varnishes now available for woods which are subject to the outside elements.

Metal Cladding

This final material is again one that is regularly shown in contemporary homes. If you were to drive down the M1, or any other major motorway for that matter, you’d see countless commercial buildings layered in these metal sheets. On some dated buildings, the effect is hardly inspiring. However, a lot of newer buildings are taking advantage on the latest metal profile technology and producing some purely blissful buildings — with this Morrisons depot at Bridgewater being a prime example of the wonders of building technology.

Suffice to say, the same methods can be applied to houses. Whereas metal used to be an incredibly expensive material to source, nowadays prices are tumbling and this means that a lot more homeowners are taking advantage of it. It’s again extremely versatile and if you are looking to create the next contemporary masterpiece, it should at least be put under consideration.

15.1.14
Why Is the Basement Becoming So Popular In 'Wonder Homes'?
Luxury house

Take a look around this site and you'll see countless homes that you and I could only dream to live in. As you may have guessed from the title of this post, they're what I call 'wonder homes'.

One thing that is becoming increasingly popular about these multi-million pound dwellings is their reliance on basements. Now, basements are certainly nothing new, but over the years they were forgotten about by a lot of people who couldn't be bothered dealing with the damp and other drawbacks that accompanied them.

Nowadays, they are popping up all over the place. Countless stories have donned the UK newspapers which show how many neighbours are in uproar about all of the disruption that is being caused through the development of a new basement in mega-rich areas. However, this article is not going to delve into the rights and wrongs of such a practice - we'll leave that up to the trusty Daily Mail readers.

Instead, this guest contribution is going to take a look at the reasons why basements are now back in fashion. Once they were the pain of all properties, then they were there to boost a home's value — but now they are even appealing to the filthy rich who already have ten bedrooms sprawling across their huge estate. Here, we’ll find out why this is the case.

They’re no longer a wet room

Ok, a wet room might have been in exaggeration — although there’s no doubt that basements used to be associated with major dampness. Up until a few years ago, there were no damp proofing systems that made these spaces permanently habitable. Fortunately, there are now countless solutions to rectify this issue with this range of sump pumps by Grundfos forming just one of them.

Subsequently, absolutely anything can be stashed down there. Whether it is extra quarters for those needy guests, or a swimming pool and gym to add even more luxury to a property — the size a basement can add can be phenomenal. In fact, looking at most of the properties that are featured on this site, it would be fair to say that basements can affect the overall size of such buildings considerably.

They’re no longer doomy and gloomy

Another area in which building technology has come to the rescue is in relation to the natural light. Again, we’ll refer to a lot of the homes showcased on this site and with most being of the modern variety, it’s not uncommon to see tubes point out of the roof. Contrary to popular belief, these aren’t a quirky design feature, but are instead usually a tubular skylight. They attract natural light, before spiralling it down to the property and to your chosen location where it is then splashed out in multiple directions.

This now means that basements have again shaken off the doomy and gloomy stereotype that used to be attached to them — clearly, a massive draw.

They don’t require planning permission

A lot of the modern homes featured on this site are most likely owned by some of the wealthiest individuals in the world — who simply love to build and build. Unfortunately, particularly in the UK, planning permission is often a hindrance. The government have made steps to make it easier to obtain, but nobody can doubt that it is still a stumbling block for anyone looking to increase the size of their home.

This is where basements can, and always have for that matter, come to the rescue. Most basements designs have no impact on the surrounding land above ground-level and this means that planning permission doesn’t even have to be applied for. Subsequently, a home can be potentially doubled in size, without the planners even knowing.

The privacy factor

Finally — we’ll conclude on that all important privacy factor. You and I might just be grateful to dip our toes in private swimming pools, but those that can afford one for themselves want as much privacy as possible. If they are of the A-list variety, a garden no longer suffices. Therefore, a basement can hide all of their actions from the outside world and through the use of the tubular lights that were previously touched upon, they can still take advantage of natural light and have the blanket of basement privacy above them.

15.1.14
The Wall House
Unusual Home
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Artificial Bonsai Trees
bONSAI
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