Skip to content

A Sustainable Self-build Home, Perfect For A Retreat

Oakwood House is Ted Stevens and Catherine Moore's self-build home, located in Gloucestershire. The house is contemporary in design, clad in timber and set in a wooded area. It also rests within the green belt and is near both a nature reserve and an area managed by Woodland Trust.

The construction process revolved around a design purposed to fit with the woodland setting. Ted, who is also chairman of the National Self Build Association, stated it was 'a truly green and sustainable structure'. To help with the its implementation, architects Smith Roberts of Wootton-under-Edge were brought along, as Ted had acknowledged their 'long track record of designing modern buildings that related well to the landscape'. Construction entailed the use of locally sourced materials, which included the rough sawn oak needed for elevations. The house was structured upon single-skin heavyweight concrete blockwork, which underwent cladding of 100 millimetres of insulation. The walls and ground floor were also formed with high insulation levels. The roof was curved and coated with zinc.

What was the final product? A lovely house that becomes a warm and cosy dwelling on sunny days, even during mid-winter. The concrete structural floors retain the absorbed heat, and the walls do the same through solar energy collected from the extensive glazing. The windows are not only double-glazed but also, they're fitted with reflective films enabling them to trap in more warmth. A ground source heat pump serves as the main source of heating for the home. It's responsible for preheating the tap water to about 40 degrees Celsius. Also, the kitchen and bathrooms are linked to an immersion heater, which can further increase their temperature.

The surrounding environment makes the home even more serene. Ponds, patches of wild flower and woodland areas have been retained. The garden just outside the house also benefits from irrigation through the roof-trapped rainwater collected in a 10,000-litre tank, which is situated beneath a path near the bridge.

Ted and Catherine's home incorporates an upside-down layout, with the kitchen, dining room, main lounge and master bedroom on the top floor and an office space and two bedrooms located below. It can be assumed those bedrooms on the ground level are for guests. Wouldn't it be nice to add the extra convenience of a home elevator?

Air powered elevators are products of today's cutting-edge technology and machinery. Air pressure and just a small amount of electricity are required for every ascent, while gravity and air pressure handle descents. They're not only easier and safer to ride than taking the stairs. They're energy efficient and environment-friendly as well, not relying on pistons, cables or harmful substances to be assembled or serviced. In fact, servicing is required just every four or five years, in which only the main seal needs replacing. Imagine how hassle-free it would be riding one of them? It would make those frequent trips to and from the office, kitchen or bathroom far easier and smoother. You won't have to tire your feet out. That's why these lifts are highly recommended for houses, especially big, multi-level ones. They'll be the most useful decorations you could have at home.

What Are The Best Pool Heater Brands?

A swimming pool can be a wonderful thing to have, but it can also be a source of frustration. Even if you live in an area with warmer weather, you won't always be able to enjoy your pool year round.

However, all of that can change with a pool heater. A quality heater can make sure that your pool's water is a comfortable temperature even when it's cold outside.

Below, you'll find a few of the best pool heater brands. These heaters will help you keep your pool toasty during all months of the year:


Hayward is one of the most popular brands when it comes to pool heaters, and it's easy to see why. They offer a wide range of heaters, and their products come at a variety of price points.

A lot of Hayward heaters aim to give people a home spa experience. Anyone who wants to transform their backyard into an oasis will want to look at their products.

Hayward consistently receives excellent reviews from customers. Anyone looking for a pool heater should look at what they have to offer.


If you're interested in using solar heating for your pool, you should examine Intex products. Intex's solar pool heaters are best sellers. There are new people buying their heaters every day, and most of those people love what they get.

Intex provides extremely affordable heating solutions to families on a budget. They allow any family to keep their pool warm.


If you're looking for more advanced solar heating solutions, Smartpool products are your best bet. Although their products are more expensive then than some of their competitor's products are, their heaters really get the job done.

They offer heating solutions for both above ground pools and in ground pools, and all of their products are very well reviewed.


People who want an environmentally friendly pool heater will love Pentair's natural gas heaters. They're affordable, they're made with top quality materials, and they will help people to keep their energy costs low.

Although their heaters can be very expensive, they will last for decades or more. Sometimes, it's worth paying more for products with this level of quality.

No matter what kind of pool heater you're looking for, you should be able to find a product that meets your needs. The best brands of pool heaters offer useful features and great quality at an affordable price. You can find stacks of reviews at

Pool heaters can add between 4-16 extra swimming weeks on to your swimming roster. There is not much point having a swimming pool that you can only use for 2-4 weeks per year. Solar heating has the lowest environmental impact, but it only works if there is a good amount of sun. Solar is also the most expensive to buy upfront, but it has no running costs.

There are some solar products you can purchase that take the heat from your attic. You will need to buy a cooling fan, a specialized type for the system. This system is very expensive but the upshot is usually your attic is boiling in the summer, and you will get a fairly good heat transfer to your pool.

Gas is faster than electric heat pumps, but they cost more to run. But electric heaters can actually cost a lot more than gas if they are run continuously. Not many people are brave enough to run a gas heater continuously as the charges would be astronomical. A gas line left unmanaged can put you under!

Great Ideas For Window Coverings

Window coverings come in all shapes, sizes, colors and textures, and can really change the tone of the room that you use them in. In fact, if you feel like your home is in need of remodelling, but you can't afford to change things too much, simply changing up the window covering could be a high impact, low cost way to spruce up the rest of the room. Here are a few great ideas for window coverings, that could help you to get the new look you're aiming for.

Window coverings can include:

Drapes Shades Interior shutters Roman blinds Curtains Vertical blinds Plantation Shutters Voiles

Window Coverings the type of covering you will choose

The type of covering you choose will depend on the size of the room and its purpose. Voiles, for example, are lovely to look at, but not effective at blocking out light, so you probably wouldn't want them in a bedroom, since you wouldn't be able to sleep very well at night with the amount of light that they let in. Plantation shuttters, on the other hand, may be too imposing for bigger rooms. It's a balancing act, and something that you might want to play around with in a 3D home design program.

Here's a few ideas:

Clever Curtains

Curtains don't have to be plain colored, heavy, blocky things. You can get bright and airy curtains with cute patterns on them, curtains with lacy borders and upper valances, and curtains that tie back with cute bows to frame the windows quite nicely while they're open. The curtains you choose don't have to cover the window alone, either - they can be paired with a net or a voile behind them to produce a nice frame, and something that will continue to filter the light even when the main curtains are open.

Brilliant Blinds

Roman blinds, roller blinds, slatted blinds, the choice is yours - you can find blinds in a range of colours, patterns, thicknesses and textures to suit any room. From clean, understated blinds that look 'barely there', natural bamboo shades that create a soft and stylish look, or the almost clinical and serious look that you may have become accustomed to if you work in an office, you can find blinds that will make any statement that you wish. Measure them carefully though - if your blinds don't quite fit your window then you'll find that they seriously detract from the look of the room.

Super Window Coverings - Shutters

Shutters are a nice option for people who want something a little different - yes, you can use shutters as an interior window treatment! Plantation style shutters look great, and they can give your room a natural and rustic feeling. They don't have to cost a fortune either, and once they're fitted they are easy to clean and take minimal maintenance - they just wipe down, unlike other fabric based window treatments that might take a bit more cleaning as they gather dust.

Shutters are quite imposing, though, and will 'take over' the tone of the room, so you'll need to plan the rest of the decor around them to make sure that they don't become an unplanned focal point. Of course, if you have a lovely garden, then the window, and shutters, could be nice to look at!

As you can see, there are so many different kinds of window coverings and treatments to choose from. There's no need to stick to simple, straight curtains on a white plastic roller, as your parents may have had decades ago. These days, it's easy to express your sense of style, and enjoy amazing looking window coverings without breaking the bank.

Denver - Location, Location, Location

Denver is the capital of the state of Colorado in the United States. Located in the South Platte River Valley, Denver is also Colorados most populous city to date and the 21st most populous city in the United States (with a 2015 estimated population of 2,814,330). Nicknamed the Mile-High City because of its elevation that exactly one mile above sea level, this also makes it one of the highest major cities in the country.

With 78 official neighborhoods varying from skyscrapers to suburban houses to ancestral houses, Denver is considered one of the best cities to live in, not just for entrepreneurs, but for everyone. Some of the best neighborhoods in Denver are: The Highlands, Capitol Hill, Cheeseman, Five Points, Cherry Creek, Uptown, and Wash Park. While each neighborhood has its own history, culture, and type of housing, its not only these that people flock to Denver for. There is something for everyone in the big city. For one thing, its very close to Boulder, which is the college or hipster town in Colorado.

Because of where the city is located, Denver experiences four seasons and moderate precipitation each year, though it could also be subject to sudden weather changes. Its known to be sunny all the time (averaging at 300 days of sunshine a year) and it is rarely hit by tornados. If a homebuyer is looking to move to Denver, then he should consider the entire city when looking for a home and not just look at the great neighborhoods. There are many reasons that residents have stated why Denver is a great place to live.

The Sports Teams Denver has seven professional sports teams. There are the Broncos for football, the Rookies for baseball, the Avalanches for hockey, the Nuggets for basketball, and the Rapids for soccer. They are also home to two lacrosse teams the Mammoth Boxes and the Outlaws. The city is home to many sports fans so there is always a game going on somewhere in the neighborhoods.

Good for Startups and Employment Denver hosts three major events that cater to startup companies which are the Denver Open Coffee, the Denver NewTech Meetup, and Denver Refresh. There are also smaller events and resources that could be found all over the city and many organizations are more than willing to help out budding entrepreneurs. There is also the Denver Office for Economic Development that hosts the JumpStart Biz Plan competition which helps startups by giving them initiatives that could go as high as $50,000.

Because of the growing startup and tech scene in the city and in nearby Boulder, there are good chances of landing a job. The federal and state governments are two of the largest public sector employers in Denver, and for private companies, there are Lockheed Martin and Comcast.

Education Denver citizens are known to be well educated, with over 38% of the population having a college degree. Its also ranked as 9th top city in terms of college education in the United States. Many of the residents of Denver graduated from the top three local universities Colorado University, Colorado State University, and Denver University.

Cost of Living The cost of living in Denver is around the national average, which means that it is around half the cost of living in San Francisco, one of the most expensive cities in the world (and one of the cities with the highest costs of living). They are also reputed to have the best breakfast burritos and are ranked fourth by CNN in breweries per capita. Outdoor activities are also very affordable, with REIs flagship store located in the city, and the city itself being so very near the Rock Mountains.

Arts and Entertainment Denver is home to many museums and theaters. The most notable places for any art or history buff are: The Denver Center for Performing Arts and the Paramount Theater. The Red Rocks Amphitheater is one of the most famous locations in Denver, and is just 20 minutes outside the city. Being used as a performance center for more than 100 years, the Red Rocks Amphitheater is made up of two giant stone monoliths. As for any person who wants to shop, dine, and drink, then Lower Downtown (called Lodo) is the best place to go. Its the go-to place to experience the Denver nightlife and there are also several condominiums where a homebuyer could settle down, work, and play.

Get Around Town Easily Even if a person does not have car, its not a big problem in Denver. A person getting to work could catch the bus, train, and even rent a bike because of the citys bike-sharing system!

There are many more reasons as to why Denver is one of the best locations to consider living in. Great neighborhoods aside, it manages to combine both urban and the environment, creating a thriving hub that everyone would be proud to live in.

The Best Of Both Worlds Artificial Turf And Allotments

When it comes to your garden, many people consider it an extension of the home; an outdoor room that you can utilise as and when necessary. The garden is a place for rest and relaxation, as much as any other in your home, except that you are truly at one with the natural world around you.

The world we live in is one that is designed for convenience at every turn, and some might say this can become a little overwhelming at times. Meals and drinks that are prepared for us in restaurants and coffee shops have been followed by ready-made meals in the supermarket. These days, prepared vegetables, grated cheese and even peeled oranges are the norm and the general public are rebelling.

Grow Your Own

Rebel against this world of convenience by growing your own vegetables and by-passing all the pesticides, wasteful packaging and more with just a few hours work with your new hobby. Growing your own vegetables doesnt have to spell the end of your garden tranquillity, however. In fact, by growing your vegetables on an allotment, your garden can still be the outdoor escape you need it to be, day in, day out.

There is no feeling quite like growing your own vegetables everything from potatoes, cabbages, carrots, tomatoes, green beans and even strawberries and chilies can be grown with a little care and attention on an allotment. If you have access to a greenhouse, your yield will be even more successful, too!

Getting hands on with growing veggies is so much more rewarding when you harvest your crops the feeling of cultivating and nurturing the food that ends up on your plate is a very satisfying feeling!

Retain Your Garden Charm

By choosing to grow vegetables and more on an allotment, you are allowing your home garden to retain the functionality you would expect from an outdoor space, as well as keeping your sanctuary exactly that!

Reduce the amount of labour required in your garden by investing in artificial turf. Not only will this free up the time you would usually spend watering and mowing your lawn to spend it on more important things, but the long term monetary savings are beneficial, too.

Ensure your garden stays a peaceful and calm environment by making use of flowers and plants, as well as breaking up the greenery. Tend to your borders and invest in raised planters to add depth and maturity to your garden with ease.

Give up a quiet corner of your garden to create compost to use on your allotment from your flowers, trees and even suitable household waste. Not only will this reduce the waste that you would usually bin, but you will also make savings in terms of fertiliser and feed for your crops.

Make the most of both worlds enjoying fresh, homegrown veggies and relaxing in your garden all year round in just a few simple steps it could change your life forever!