It’s easy to add art at home

Artwork has a means of adding that special something to any interior composition and injecting it with a degree of uniqueness, feeling, interest and meaning. It offers the home owner a way of incorporating a sense of who they are and what means something to them into their home, as well as surrounding themselves with items that resonate with their character and their souls.

Selecting art for your home can be an exhilarating journey that can last a lifetime. Keys to success pivot around finding out what kind of art you enjoy, understanding how it will fit into your home and décor, as well as knowing how to exhibit it to its fullest potential.
What kind of art?
Finding out what kind of art you like is the first step to take when selecting art for your home. This can be done by viewing as much art as you can before deciding on anything. To explore a wide variety of art, you can visit art exhibitions, art fairs, flea markets and art galleries; page through books and magazines; or research various art on the Internet, which offers the largest variety of artwork worldwide. By doing this, your understanding of what appeals to you will gradually start to evolve, and the more art you look at, the more acute and developed your understanding of your likes and dislikes will become.
However, it is important to understand that art is ever evolving and changing, and that your tastes and appreciation might change over time too. Also, many art enthusiasts note that the art of personal art selection doesn’t only lie in understanding technique and style, but also the ability to be in tune with yourself emotionally and pick items that make you feel something – that speak to you on a personal level.

Fitting into your home
If you are decorating your home from scratch, you will be sourcing furniture, soft furnishings and art at around the same time – making it relatively easy to stay within a particular colour or topical theme. If however, like most home owners, your home décor is something that has evolved over time – choosing art that will fit into your home is not always that easy.
It is rare to come upon a work of art that you feel really strongly about. So if you do, then you ought to buy it and then think about where you are going to put it. If the work of art really resonates with you, then you can always create a space specifically for that piece of art or adjust your home’s interiors slightly to fit in with the chosen piece, such as adjusting the lighting, wall colour or furniture layout of the room for example. If, on the other hand, you are looking for art to fill in a particular space or fit into a particular room, then there are a number of various things that need to be considered first. In other words, unlike the first case, the art won’t choose you, but you will choose the art.
When choosing art for a particular space, the most important criteria are size, colour and style. Here are a few tips on the afore-mentioned principles:
- Size: Essentially, it is all about proportion - art that is too large for a space will overwhelm, while pieces that are too small, will be lost. Traditionally, the bolder the piece, the more room it will need to breathe.
- Colour: When selecting art to match a particular color palette, it is essential to select one or two of the boldest colors featured throughout the room’s décor, and look for art that features shades of those colors in it. It isn’t necessary to source an exact match – merely picking up on one or two similar shades and tones will suffice and create a sense that the art work belongs in the room in question. Alternatively, selecting art with muted colours, black-and-white art or art that has been framed in neutral colours, will go in practically any environment.
- Style: Style is an important consideration - if your decor is filled with antiques, for example, you’ll want to frame your art in corresponding antique-style frames. If you have contemporary furniture in large rooms with high ceilings, you’ll want to hang large contemporary paintings.

Displaying art
The art featured in your home can add up to a sizeable investment, and as such, you will want to display it to its maximum effect. There are a number of ways to create an art-friendly room - the most important thing is lighting. Natural lighting is very important, however direct sunlight can ruin the piece, which makes artificial lighting crucial. If you shine light directly on to your artwork, you will undoubtedly highlight its details and beauty. You can either install special lighting, or alternatively, if your home has existing track lighting, you can make use of these light fittings to accentuate the art featured in your home.
Another important aspect to consider, is that much like art galleries, interior spaces that show art off to the best effect, are those that are not over cluttered or crowded. Try play down other elements within the room, such as window dressings, carpeting, wall coverings and even furniture – making the art the centre of attraction. Interiors with an over abundance of colours, textures and objects will undoubtedly take the focus away form the art featured in that room. – Antonella Dési

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Cleaning your brick paving

First impressions count and your driveway is the first thing people see when visiting your home, so it would be wise not to neglect it and keep it clean and well maintained at all times. The majority of South Africandriveways are paved and unless the paving is taken care of and well looked after, it will end up being ruined by weeds, moss and oil from cars.

How to remove moss
The rain we have all been experiencing in many areas in South Africa over the last few months has tended to make everything very damp. Driveways and areas that are not in direct sun will have started being covered in moss, especially the areas between the bricks. Some of us love this look and will not be bothered by it at all; however, many feel that an area that is overgrown with moss looks decrepit.
It is actually not that difficult to rid your driveway and other paved areas of moss. If the moss is especially bad under areas where there is a lot of overhead growth, such as trees and large shrubs, before cleaning the moss off the paving, try to thin out the shade-producing foliage. Once more direct sunlight can get through to your paving; the occurrence of moss will be greatly reduced.
Thick growths of moss or lichen must be removed first by scraping out the joints and then treating the area with moss killer. Most hardware stores will be able to supply you with this chemical. Once the moss killer is applied, it will take a few days to kill the moss and then it can be brushed away with a stiff broom. Obviously it is better to do this in dry weather.

How to get rid of weeds
Weeds thrive in wet conditions similar to those most of the country has been experiencing lately. If they have started growing between the bricks in your paving, physically pull out as many of the large weeds you can by hand. Once this has been done spray the area with weed killer. Do not spray the weed killer if you suspect a storm, as this could lead to the poison being washed into your flower beds or your lawn either side of the paving, which could be devastating. After spraying, leave the weeds for a few days and they will all die. Then a stiff broom can be used to brush the remaining dead weeds away.

Removing oil stains
Most oil stains on a driveway can be cleaned up in the same way – get a bucket and fill it with very hot water. Mix a healthy dose of dishwashing liquid or degreaser into the water, pour the liquid over the oil patches and leave it to soak for about 10 minutes. Using a stiff brush, give it a good scrub and then rinse off the soapy mess with the hosepipe. You might find that you are now leaving clean patches all over the driveway that almost look as bad as the oil stains. If this is the case, you will need to wash the entire driveway down. Dish washing liquid, a broom and hose can do the job; however, you can make the job a lot quicker and easier by hiring a power washer.
Your driveway will now be spotless. To make it easier to clean in the future it might be worth it to seal the entire driveway with a waterproof sealant. It is a little costly, but will save you a lot of hard work in the long run. One can also hire a professional company to come in, clean the pavers and then spray paint them so the entire driveway looks brand new. – Antonella Dési

This is what some readers thinks:
Thanks for the great information. I bought some of that weed killer for paving and sprayed a few of the weeds and am watching them dying which is great and the information in your article is just what I needed to finish it off. - Cheryl 
As I have a dog, I am nervous of poisons and find that cheap rough salt works as well. Sprinkle in onto the weeds and water lightly. They will die in days as with any poison and not harm other plants nearby nor your dogs or small kids. - Lawrence
I have found neat vinegar a good trick to killing off the weeds in a driveway, especially paper thorn.  Just make sure that it is a dry day with no rain imminent. I do not like the poison option.  Thanks for the tips! - Meryl Wood
I find that vinegar does a great job of killing weeds and moss. Just sprinkle over and they die within a day. - Jenny

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Top 10 garden trends

This year gardening trends are created from deeper social changes - people are trying to live more meaningful lives, re-evaluating values and priorities, breaking away from tradition while preferring a personalised approach. For gardeners and non-gardeners alike, taking care of the environment, the planet and each other, all “for the greater good”, is a current theme throughout their homes and gardens. With all these conscious movements in place, here is a list of what’s hot in gardening this year...
1. Eat what you grow
Growing your own veggies has become the “it” thing to do, where savvy gardeners are mingling their edibles with ornamentals. This approach to gardening is great for the environment and even better for the gardener. More and more people are growing their own fruit and vegetables due to the latest economic crisis which made this hobby popular, and in some instances, even necessary.
2. Grow a garden in a pot
This trend has become very popular as a large portion of homeowners are now living in flats or townhouses with no access to a personal garden. Residents have now developed the need to have some piece of nature around them, and have started growing planted tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, lettuce and many other edibles and herbs in containers and pots.

3. Chemical-free gardens  
The trend of environmental responsibility continues through to gardening as eco-conscious homeowners are finding ways to manage their gardens without the use of pesticides and herbicides. Many homeowners are reducing the size of their lawns and incorporating plants that are resistant to pests and disease. Gardeners are also taking care to use products that are more environmentally friendly.
4. Romantic flower comeback
Your grandmother’s favourites are back with an abundance, as gardens are now filled with roses, daisies and sweet peas - all making a romantic comeback. It’s now about the senses as flowers create a visual background with appealing aromas. No garden should be without them.

5. House plant interiors

Plants are enjoying renewed status as décor accessories. Not only are they attractive, but they improve the air quality in our homes by acting as filters that remove pollutants from the air and replace the air with oxygen. Orchids, ferns and palms are top choices when adding warmth and homeliness to any area.
6. Low maintenance gardens
No one wants to be a slave to the garden and gardeners are now opting for plants that give them more time to relax and spend with family and friends. Highly maintained lawns are being replaced with ground covers and easy to care for shrubs and perennials. Today gardening needs to be as easy as possible.

7. Water conservation
The trend to capture rainwater in rain barrels has gained momentum. Wasting potable water for irrigation purposes will be avoided as much as possible.  Homeowners are now attempting to contain rainwater on their properties by using downspouts to direct the rain water to feed gardens instead of running into storm water drains. There are many rain collection systems available from homemade to store-bought, and water conservation awareness has now become a prerequisite in some areas and neighbourhoods.
8. Garden art
Garden styling has come to the forefront in home décor because of its ability to give your garden a personal and unique feel – and let’s face it no two gardens are the same. A garden gives gardeners an opportunity to express themselves and their personalities, turning everyday gardens into pieces of art. Garden sculptures and Asian-inspired fountains are now an affordable and popular choice in garden art. Organic or geometric lines are being explored with more with colour - creating a fantastical, less formal garden.
9. The feel good garden

There is an ever increasing need for a safe haven at home, with more of us are turning to our gardens for the peace and tranquillity we expect to find in nature. Gardens are being transformed into spaces which can be used to unwind after work, relax and ‘recharge the batteries’ and most importantly reconnect with nature.
10. Creating a habitat

Awareness of the environment extends to our feathered and furry friends too. One way in which to increase enjoyment of the outdoors is through properly placed and maintained feeders and baths for animals with which we share the outdoors. A well-designed garden offers food, water, and protection for birds and other wildlife. Gardeners are now aware of creating a space for all to live in harmony, by adding more trees, shrubs and bird houses. Most bird houses can be either hung or mounted, and placing a few around your yard will give birds plenty of feeding options. – Maryann Lister
Article courtesy of: Property 24

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Colour your kitchen

There is a surplus of new and electrifying kitchen décor and design trends this year that are set to excite and tantalise. However, the most exciting trend for this high-traffic, heavy-use area is arguably the inclusion of colour in the kitchen. Colour is one of the easiest and most economical ways to heighten drama and interest in interior spaces – and the kitchen is no exception.

Contemporary coloured countertops and cabinetry
Jason Wells, Marketing Manager for PG Bison, South African panel product manufacturer and distributor, says that in line with this trend, PG Bison has recently added a brand new range of exciting new colours to its collection of High Pressure Laminate (HPL) products that are ideal for kitchen applications: “The aim of increasing the amount of colours is in line with PG Bison’s design-focused approach – and our new range of Fresh Colours will no doubt greatly enhance design options.”
He says that the aim is to assist kitchen manufacturers by providing them with high quality, long-lasting, durable products without compromising on design aesthetics: “Supplying an aesthetically attractive, yet practical and hard wearing surface is key to PG Bison’s success. Designers and homeowners are continuously looking for interesting colour, textural and patterned inspirations – something that is bang on trend, unique, but with a timeless appeal and comparatively easy on the pocket – and PG Bison’s range of Formica HPL and LifeSeal Worktops in the newly launched Fresh Colour options are the ideal solution.”
Colour trends for 2011 and 2012
Many of the kitchens of today are designed as an integral part of the living areas, which is especially evident in the ever popular open-plan home layouts. They are designed to be inviting spaces for nurturing the family and reconnecting with friends – as the hub of home life. As such, kitchens are receiving increasing attention and the interior décor trends that are redefining our living areas, are impacting on the kitchen too.

Nature-inspired palettes have been trendy for quite some time now, however there has always been a slant towards the earthier palettes, comprising various hues such as stone, wood tones, beige, ash and brown. Although these colours are still very much in vogue, there has been a shift to include other brighter colours to lift the tone of the interior, and create depth and interest. These new brights are also nature-inspired, and range from rich jewel and citrus tones, to the vivid colours of the ocean.
Says Wells: “PG Bison’s new Fresh colours were selected to reflect key trends in décor and design, from both a local and an international perspective. As such, one of the trend reports that was used in the colour selection process included the iiD Nemeth Trend Report – a world class report and forecast of what is coming with regards to fashion, design and interiors, and how it should be adapted to suit the African market. It offers a strong guideline of what will appeal here at home.”
According to research, the latest colour trends gravitate around the following inspirations:
- Oak woodgrainshave come to the fore, joined by “slow-grown” Pine and elegant Walnuts.
- Whiteremains an intensely popular colour choice.
- Our love affair with nature inspires the use of a wide selection of greens.
- Bluestill has a commanding presence, with dark blues and blue violets gaining ground.
- Fantasyand weathered looks accent the broader range of items and the distressed charm they offer remains a popular look.

- There is still a very strong presence of earthy, mud tones.
- Accents of citrus and plums offer a bright, exciting and fun element in many modern designs.
- Precious stones, mineral elements and concretegive depth to the contemporary trends.
Selecting your colours
When deciding on a colour scheme, it is important to choose a palette that will tie into the rest of your home’s décor. Different colours combine to create various ambiences – if you are feeling bold for example, you can choose a complimentary colour scheme with two high-contrast colours. If you would like your kitchen to be fun, vivacious and full of energy, strong colours such as yellow or blue are ideal. For a more refined outcome, monochromatic schemes are best, comprising various intensities of a single colour.
The addition of 37 brand new Fresh colours to the mix brings PG Bison’s total collection up to 107 options that designers and homeowners can choose from – ranging from a wide selection of solid colours, various woodgrains, stone textures, metallic finishes, as well as a graphic and print range for added aesthetic and textural interest.
Remember to add some texture
The tactile qualities of texture can really add to the visual impact of the colour and pattern of any product. Currently, PG Bison’s Formica HPL is available in the following finishes – Glaze, Gloss, Satin, Loglare and Woodtex. However, along with the introduction of new colours, PG Bison has also added three new surface finishes to its range, which are available in specific colours and include:
- Crystal– a deep-etched finish

- Fine Grain – a raised, natural texture
- Enhanced Gloss – Offering a high gloss finish with a higher scuff resistance for horizontal applications
Furthermore, for the first time, five new MelaWood colours will be available in a gloss finish. These are, however, only suitable for vertical applications, and include Black Gloss, Charcoal Gloss, Light Grey Gloss, Burgundy Gloss, White Gloss. This product will boast two gloss sides finishedwith a protective film on both sides, and ABS impact edging will also beavailable.
Choose something both practical and beautiful
Often, selecting the most aesthetically pleasing colour or design option has meant that in some cases you sacrifice on practicality and function. No more! With PG Bison’s new range of coloured Formic HPL and LifeSeal worktops, the sky is the limit when it comes to choosing the colour of your dreams.
Formica High Pressure Laminate (HPL): This product offers the most versatile of surfacing materials, providing an unbeatable low maintenance, durable and dependable surface that will continue to look good for many years. With its exceptional resistance to wear, scuff, impact, heat, moisture and stains, Formica HPL, in its upgraded format, has myriad vertical and horizontal applications, including worktops, doors and cabinetry. It provides an easily cleanable and hygienic surface, making it an excellent choice for kitchen surfaces.
LifeSeal worktops: Combining a substrate or core of quality BisonBord and a surface of Formica HPL, Formica LifeSeal Worktops merges the durability and strength of its two constituent components to create versatile work surfaces. Formica LifeSeal Worktops offer the same exceptional characteristics of Formica HPL, making them an excellent choice for work surfaces in places such as the kitchen, where hygiene is of utmost importance. During installation, all exposed edges, including the back-edge, joints and cut-outs for sinks and stove-tops need to be sealed with a suitable sealant, such as exterior-grade varnish, to protect from moisture ingress.
If you are tired of your kitchen – changing the room’s colour scheme can breathe new life into a tired kitchen composition. “Whatever kitchen colour scheme you decide on however, it is crucial that you abide by the most important rule of all – don’t merely follow the trends, but opt for a colour scheme that suits your own personal tastes and preferences,” concludes Wells.
Article courtesy of: Property 24

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Do you have a blank garden wall ?

Here's a great solution for a blank wall: espalier, the art of growing a plant along a flat surface. It may look costly and complicated, but it isn't. This project is something you can do in a weekend. Perhaps you haven't tried growing vines because they seem unpredictable. This method helps you control that. Choose the right one, and you'll get a lot of coverage for the money.

Decide on a style

First, select a pattern. The technique of espalier was originally used to produce a lot of fruit in a small space. Though you may not be growing fruit, you can still borrow from the method. Choose from one of the classic designs below, or create your own.

Fine vines

Select a vine that climbs by twining or by tendrils and has small to medium leaves. The scale of the vine should work with the pattern you select. Ivy is a tempting choice because of its beautiful foliage and fast growth (once established). However, it climbs by aerial roots that can attach to walls and turn into a maintenance nightmare if left unattended. If you do use ivy, choose one of the variegated selections, which tend to be slower growing. When selecting the right vine, speak to your local garden centre - they will be able to advise you on the growing habits of each variety.

Do it like a professional

When choosing a pattern, allow for a mature, maintained vine width of at least 15 to 20cm.

1. Decide on a pattern, and determine how many eye screws you will need. Measure the distance between proposed connection points to see how much coated cable or wire to buy.

2. Centre the pattern on the wall. Mark connection points with a grease pencil, and drill points with the appropriate bit. Insert eye screws directly into brick, stone, or wood. Apply clear silicone caulk made for outdoor use around the eye screws to keep moisture out.

3. Starting at the bottom, thread and secure cable through the first eye screw, and then thread it through the second eye screw. Pull tight, and loop it through again. Move to next eye screw, and repeat, finishing the pattern and tying off the cable.

4. Plant one vine below the centre of the pattern for candelabra and fan designs. For diamond patterns, plant a vine at the base of each bottom point. Twine the vines around the cable, and secure with twist ties.

Maintaining the look

Continue training the vines to grow around the coated cable until the pattern is complete - usually in one to two growing seasons. Once the vines have covered the cable, clip as needed to maintain the form.

Article courtesy

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