Inexpensive or Luxury.

Who says looking good has to be expensive?

Are you a “Keep up with the Jones’s person”?, or maybe a bargain hunter? or somewhere in between?

Personally, I love a bargain but I also have some pieces in my closet that were expensive and that I am wearing season after season, it was worth paying that bit more for something special.

On our recent trip to the UK, I found a real bargain, too good to resist and easy on my pocket. I was browsing with friends of mine in Debenhams Department Store, not looking for anything in particular. However, you know what happens when you are not looking…….you find a bargain!

This lovely Navy Blue Lace Dress with bell sleeves. Reduced from £69 to £18!

It doesn’t look much on the hanger but it fits beautifully.

Very elegant and stylish. A dress for all occasions and one I will wear regularly, dress it up or keep it simple.

navy lace ddress

You can see here, the detail on the sleeves.


Dining out at our favourite Indian Restaurant in The Radisson Blue Hotel on Bath Rd in London.

Out trip this year included a visit to Essentepe Northern Cyprus, via John Lennon Airport in Liverpool, complete outside the airport with A Yellow Submarine

More to come from Northern Cyprus and what I found there among the harbour and bazaars in Kyrenia.

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An Outdoor Project – A Pergola or An Arbor?

After lots of planning, choosing materials, revising our plans over again, the groundwork was in place ready to build our outdoor space.

We chose materials from Home Depot, a few delays in supplying the materials. As I write this we are still waiting for 1 item.

The build took a total of just over 4 weeks, a couple of weather delays, material delays and 1 day delay for tree removal.

deckDeck Pergola

We chose a composite decking boards in Amorguard Brazilian Walnut. No more painting!

The Pergola or Arbor. I am not sure what the correct terminology is, see below for more information.

The wood treated posts support cross beams and a lattice top for extra shade. The structure measures 12ft x 16ft. The overall deck measurements 20ft x 27ft.

This would then accommodate a seating area, storage for cushions, patio dining furniture and Ornamental pieces.

The Grill will have a new home in due course.

We also made a fire pit area opposite the deck in the back garden. There are some spare Pavers, that we can re-purpose elsewhere. Some plants are still waiting for a home too.morning garden


To make the composite deck stand out we chose a white rail kit with black metal balusters.


Solar Powered Post Caps were added instead of basic caps.

There was just one set of steps instead of two sets.


Outdoor space

You can see the pattern on the furniture with the sun shining directly overhead on the lattice top.

Seating furniture and tables from Wayfair

dusk on the deck

The Deck at Dusk with the umbrella lights over the original dining table (still waiting delivery of another dining set – out of stock)

According to an article by The Spruce The words pergola and arbor are often used interchangeably to describe two similar outdoor structures. Both are built with posts that support an open roof of beams or lattice. And both usually support vines or climbing plants..

In residential applications, an arbor, or arbour, is considered a freestanding structure that serves as an entrance to a part of a yard or garden. It can also act as a small shelter for a bench or seating area.

Often built over a patio or deck as a shade structure, a pergola is also based on a similar post-and-beam construction as an arbor. When attached to a house, a pergola will extend from the exterior side or roof, creating a shaded or semi-shaded space that links the interior of the house to the landscape. In other words, some sort of roof for a patio, deck, or outdoor room.

Arbors include two or four posts with a simple slatted roof (often arched, but not always). The sides of an arbor can be open over covered with lattice or trellis work for a more enclosed effect and to help vines better attach.

So call it what you will.

This is our new outdoor space. A beautiful deck for entertaining.

Our Garden Oasis.

An Outdoor Project – A Pergola or An Arbor?

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The Next Outdoor Project. Part 1.

So what are we up to now at the Looker household.
You may well ask!
This time we needed help as this project was definitely out of our capabilities.
We moved from the indoors to the outdoors.
Our deck area we thought we could renovate, however, after having 3 contractors look at it, we already knew there were some issues. We didn’t realize that we had a safety problem.
• The deck boards were pretty much beyond repair. We had painted them 3 times to try and make them look presentable, but to no avail, the paint peeled away. The house was built in the 80’s and the boards were the original boards.
• Both sets of stairs were not ‘to code,’ indeed 1 set although attached to the top of the deck, were basically floating at the bottom.
• The deck was not attached to the house properly so was unsafe! An accident waiting to happen.
• And more……
This was going to be expensive.
The whole structure had to be taken down.



Bare boards with Gazebo and mosquito nets.


Our initial plan had to be revised. This gave us an opportunity to really think about what we wanted.

The back of the house gets really hot during the day. Shade comes from a huge tree that overhands the deck, but its roots are creeping under the house and possibly may cause foundation issues. Although, the tree as beautiful -a Water Oak, it, throws down acorns that contains seeds all over the old deck that creates such a mess, so down it has to come.

Our neighbor also is transforming their garden and is taking down 2 old pine trees near ours, so we need to find shade from somewhere.
What were the options?
• A covered deck – too expensive
• A Gazebo with roof? Still expensive
• A Pergola?

The more we thought about the design, the more we kept changing our minds. My husband and I had put up a gazebo on the deck a couple of years ago 12’ x 10’ with a tarpaulin top, when the furniture was put in it seemed crowded, we needed more space to accommodate outdoor furniture and dining table and chairs too, so we decided to extend the deck by 8ft.
Next, we wanted to look at easy maintenance, no more painting deck board and rails, that meant looking at a composite material for the deck base, wooden rails with protective sleeves and wrought iron spindles.
We chose Home Depot Veranda Composite colour, initially we were going for dark grey, but just having the sidings replaced and choosing a taupe paint colour – the grey didn’t work therefore, we chose Brazilian Walnut, a warm rich brown.
One set of stairs but double the width leading onto a concrete area that could provide extra seating and our grill, plus possibly a hot/cold tub.

Several designs later we came up with a template. Of course as we expected we had easily doubled the price of our deck extension with a Pergola.

And so the project began.

clearing the deck

Deck demolished, the struts holding up the deck were rotten and required completely replacing. It was more apparent that whoever built the original deck did not adhere to any regulations at all. Like I said an accident waiting to happen.

Prep work

Progress so far Frame

Project deck

No turning back now.

Cant wait to see our new deck .

Tune in again for part 2 to see how it all turned out.

The Next Outdoor Project. Part 1.

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Going Grey Gracefully?

Have you ever thought about going grey, but were overwhelmed about how to do it and look good in the process?

Many women are going grey as a statement of independence and confidence. They are telling the world, “this is who I am, and I’m not afraid.” Many women who have gone grey say that they get more compliments from men, because their grey hair shows greater confidence.
it can be quite empowering to ditch the dye and go gray naturally.

Why do so many of us keep hitting the bottle?

For years I have been colouring my hair.  I seem to remember finding a grey hair in my teens, that’s when panic set it. Was I going prematurely grey?

Both my Grandmothers were grey at an early age, in fact my mother and Grandmother were white into their early sixties. Was there no hope for me? Did I inherit the grey/silver/white gene? I did what most of us do… hid in a bottle.

An original brunette but those dark shiny locks were long gone!

I had started with blonde highlights in my thirties and that was it, bit by bit my brunette locks were eradicated. The downward spiral had begun.

After, a trip to a well know hairstylists whom I had been gong to for quite sometime, I posed the question about going all out – grey. Oh the horror on the stylist’s face!

Then after having a cut, highlights and low lights and the bill of almost $250. I decided I had to do something about this. Gone were the days of colouring my hair myself, I seemed to be going for root touch ups on a monthly basis.

And then, I started networking…….what has this to do with Going Grey you may well ask?

I met at least 3 ladies whose hair was a variety of grey/white/silver shimmering shades, all natural, they looked so confident and gorgeous. I began to wander what my natural hair would look like.

I made a decision that by the time I turned 60 – (that was looming), I would embrace who I was and bite the bullet, no more bottle blonde.

I changed hairstylists, I managed to find a local hairstylist who actually listened to me.

I told her my plan and that I wanted as smooth a transition as possible. To her credit she looked at my hair, the verdict “You have amazing colours in your hair, it will be so beautiful.” To keep the transition smooth we decided a few highlights to blend in initially.

I have to say that the hair journey was smooth, better that I thought it would be. No coloured helmet (half grey-brown-blonde), no tide marks. It was obviously the right time for me.

A few months later.


Does this mean, new make-up and outfits (another post, another time)

I must say I was somewhat blown away by the result. A stylish cut and support from your hair dresser also helps.

My hair isn’t wiry, its soft and smooth with a colour combination of grey streaks and white/silver locks.



I have discovered myself, I am proud of who I am and I am embracing a confidence that I never had before.

Going Grey Expresses Your Individuality, so be bold, be adventurous, stand out from the crowd.

Society often attempts to dictate how we should look – but there also comes an age where you don’t give a flying toss what society thinks. Celebrities like Helen Mirren and Jamie Lee Curtis have happily embraced their lighter shade and look incredible. If its good enough for them, then what the hell!

Going Grey Gracefully?


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Home Improvements.

Home Improvements, Here we go again.

Before we can really get to grips with our back garden, we must sort out the outside of our home.

Having attracted an unwanted woodpecker, who obviously had eyes on drilling holes into our sidings, we thought we had better find a permanent deterrent. The sidings were the original ones from the 1980s when the house was built. We decided on Hardy Plank as a replacement. This is Fiber cement siding/cladding, it’s a building material used to cover the exterior of a building in both commercial and domestic applications. Fiber cement is a composite material made of sand, cement and cellulose fibers.

Out with the old, in with the new.

Sidings ripped


sidings getting theresidings nearly done

You can see the difference with bare boards prior to painting.

We chose Behr paint colour Grey Seas.


Of course one thing leads to another so the shutters around the front windows we changed from black to white to match the garage door. The front door we changed from Black to a Dark Green Sherwin Williams Resilience Country Squire.



So moving on to the next Project, which is …..replacing the deck.

We have a plan!

What projects are you undertaking right now?

Home Improvements. Here we go again!

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When Selling Your Home, What do you need to know?

When selling your home do you understand the needs of prospective buyers?

Who is likely to buy your house?


Is it going to appeal to an empty-nester, who want to downsize? or a first time buyer, a professional couple ready to set down roots, a young family relocating.

We don’t always know for certain who will buy your property, but it is very important that you appeal to the right market. This is a conversation to have with your Real Estate agent who will do the research buyer demographics – it is a science and can be complex, but, could make all the difference.

Once you can narrow it down somewhat you can also the define what potential buyers are looking for in their search. Why? So you can appeal to the right category of buyer.

Look at the comparables that your Realtor can provide you with. Visit open houses for ideas. Ask your Realtor to refer you to a Home Stager too.

Hiring a Home Stager can help you with creating a vision in your home for potential buyers using home staging techniques.

A Home Stager will focus on the good points in your home and enhance them while playing down the negative factors.


Statistics show that properly staged homes sell for as much as 17% above market value of a comparable unstaged property. A home valued at $250.000 would make an extra profit of around $42.000! That’s is huge.

It is a myth that Home Staging is expensive. A Home Stager can add value.

Hiring a Home Stager helps create that vision for the potential buyer.  Isn’t it worth finding out?

Home Staging

Did you know that home staging fees and associated expenses are also tax deductible?

When Selling Your Home, What do you need to know?





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Selling Your Home? Before the For Sale Sign Goes Up, Here Are Some “Must Do’s”

Those of us who have moved house know how stressful it can be.

Selling and buying another property simultaneously can push your stress levels literally through the roof.

You maybe be contemplating a house move for a variety of reasons.

  • Grown out of your present home
  • Downsizing
  • Divorce
  • Change of Job
  • Retirement
  • To be nearer family
  • Just want a change

Where do you start?

Home for sale Real estate sign in front of new house

I work best from lists, this is a simple way to start, just keep adding to the list starting with the priorities.

Crossing something off your list means its been dealt with or its no longer a problem, therefore, progress has been made.

Engaging a Realtor that you trust and who understands you and where you are at is vital to begin with, interview them, ask questions.
Do you work full or part-time as a real estate agent?
How many homes have you sold in my neighborhood in the past year or two?
What aspects of the transaction will you personally handle and which will be delegated to others?
Can you give me a written CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) of homes for sale in this area?
Are your fees negotiable?
What is your advertising and marketing plan for my house?
Do you provide Home Staging Services?

You must start thinking like a seller. CMA’s in your area will give you a good idea of the condition and price range of similar properties in your area. It may reveal that their are certain changes you will need to address in your property before that For Sale sign goes up.

Look objectively at your home, detach from it, that means de-personalize.
What are you required to do to make your home market ready?

Make a list of what it will cost to repair, paint, refresh, re-plant etc.
Go visit “Open Houses” for inspiration and ideas.
You may even consider undertaking a Home Inspection on your property. Laws, rules, codes and regulations change, address them before a buyer finds issues later when their Home Inspection is completed.
Do your due diligence.
Start work!

Exterior – First Impressions count!

  1. Sort out your yard/gardens – View from the curbside, what you see potential buyers will see.
  2. Cut  the grass and tidy the edges, cut down unruly shrubs, pull out the weeds, tidy the driveway.
  3. Pressure wash the outside of the house and garage, including windows and the back of the property.
  4. Repair and refresh outdoor paintwork including a coat of paint on the front door if it is looking dated.
  5. Repair guttering, a leaky roof, damp patches, cracked or damaged windows.
  6. Add a colorful planter to the front porch, if you have a larger area consider adding outdoor furniture (proportional to the size of the porch)
  7. Also consider smartening up a deck area – potential buyer are looking for outdoor spaces.

Giving house keys


Remember the golden rule “First Impressions count!

Follow my next post for tips on Selling Your Home – Must Do’s – Interiors

Selling Your Home? Before the For Sale Sign Goes Up, Here Are Some “Must Do’s”













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A Home Stagers Toolbox.

A Home Stagers Toolbox.
What Do I Have in My Tool Box?

Being a Home Stager I keep a basic toolbox in my car 24/7.

Why? Because you never know what you might come across or need when staging a home.

I just keep it very basic

Measuring Tape – The essential tool for all Stagers. Why? A Stager needs to know the size of every area or room to place the right furnishings, therefore, maintaining a sense of proportion.
A small hammer and picture hooks to hang or re-position wall art. You may require the owner to have some touch up paint also.
Furniture gliders, they make moving furniture so much easier and less strain on the mover too.
Scissors, screwdrivers, a leveler, a Stanley knife, sanding blocks, tape, plastic ties, disposable gloves, shoe guards and a magic eraser (to remove scuff marks) are also additional items I carry.

Other essentials are a notebook and pen/pencil to jot down measurements, suggestions, must haves or general notes.

tool box
For an initial Consultation I would generally need writing materials, a colour palette or colour wheel and an open mind.

Color palette guide for printing industry isolated
There are software packages out there too, but this can be costly and distracting.
You want to develop a relationship with the seller, one of trust while remaining objective and supportive.  Sometimes comprehensive computer based tools can be distracting and impersonal.
Maybe I am old fashioned?
There is a place for technology certainly, but don’t forget first impressions count so keep it simple.

All set to go?
A Home Stagers Toolbox.
What Do I Have in My Tool Box?
Habitat Muse – Home Staging and Décor “Let your home stand out from the crowd”

home staging


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Current Home Decor Colour Trends 2018

Interior Fashion – Home Décor
There is no doubt that the fashion world and the catwalk influence home décor and design, from colour, prints, patterns and textures. Each season there is something that translates from the clothes rails of London, Paris, New York and Milan into our homes. Even paint manufacturers research globally for inspiration to bring to the table new trends.
Paint Colours for 2018
The word for 2018 is POWER.
Black, Red & Blue
These are the colours of POWER adopted by the major paint manufacturers.
Glidden Onyx – Black Ink. We are taking back the power of privacy and intimacy. Black is also the colour of sophistication. Think little black dress or a sexy tuxedo. 2018 is Powerful, Badass and Confident.
Imagine an accent wall or even a ceiling , dramatic, making a statement, bold.
Benjamin Moore chose Caliente as their colour for 2018. Red is another POWER colour. Red affects us on a physical level, increasing our heart rate and appetite. It’s the colour of passion and love. Think accent walls, accessories, wall art.
Sherwin Williams chose Oceanside Blue as their colour of 2018.A deep rich blue/green, innovative and full of energy whilst healing and tranquil. Rich Jewel tones. Picture ocean scenes, velvet drapes, throws and glassware.
Colour is back in a big way.

Glidden-Paint-2018-Color-of-the-Year-is-Deep-Onyx-1Benjamin Moore colour 2018 red


Take back the power of colour!

What is your style?

Current Home Decor Colour Trends 2018





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Habitat Muse: Home Staging & Decor Staging your home to sell? Tips on how to Dress a Bedroom?

Home Staging Colour Consultation & Décor
When it comes time to sell your home, first impressions count.
Your goal is to sell your property quickly at the best possible price. The goal of the potential buyer is to visualize living in your property with their own belongings around them.
Home staging is all about making the best of the space you have by enhancing its good points.

1. Start at the highest point first, that maybe the attic or the bedrooms.

2. Be ruthless, those heavy drapes that you have had in years, need to be boxed up, windows should allow natural light into the bedroom so clean them. Add sheers instead of drapes.

3. Clean thoroughly and vacuum the carpet or wipe over hardwoods.

4. Remove personal objects from the walls and night stands.

5. Repainting is an option if it hasn’t been refreshed in a while.

6. Identify the focal point of a room, it is usually the bed, although a master bedroom may have 2 focal points such as a fireplace and a bed or even a picture window. The eye should be drawn to the focal point in the room.

7. The bedroom should be clean, fresh and inviting.

You don’t have to invest a lot of money on a new bed set. Use plain white sheets and tuck over a duvet or comforter. Add a throw and a couple of pillows. These lamps were Ikea and very inexpensive. Repurpose from another room. Remember less is more. Accessorize a dresser or drawers with a table runner, a vase with fresh flowers.

Guest BedroomMaster Bedprod_1741810112

Habitat Muse – Home Staging and Decor

How to stage a bedroom.

website coming soon

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