The average bills will fall around 5% for water and waterwaste for customers across England and Wales.

The Water Services Regulation Authority Ofwat has finalised decisions that means the average bills for water and wastewater customers across England and Wales will fall by around 5%, before adjustments for inflation, between 2015 and 2020. This would see average bills fall by around £20 from £396 to £376.

Over the next five years, customers will benefit not only in lower water bills but also have improved levels of service. As companies are set to spend around £2000 for every household across England and Wales.

By 2020 customers will benefit from significant improvements in areas of service that really matter to them, such as by tackling leakage and promote water efficiency, there will be more than 370 million liters a day of water saved – enough water saved to serve all of the homes in Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds. With a reduction in the time lost to supply interruptions -down on average 32%. 4,700 fewer properties flooded by sewer water and cleaner water at more than 50 beaches.

With around 760,000 people benefit from some form of financial support from their water company this figure will more than double to around 1.8 million by 2020. Companies are putting in place measures, such as social tariffs, which are forecast to help an additional one million people over the next five years.

The announcement from Ofwat includes the decision to lower further the weighted average cost of capital (WACC), which is the minimum rate of return that lenders or investors require to support investment in the sector. Since its initial proposal of a WACC of 3.85%, Ofwat has updated its decision to reflect current market evidence on required returns, resulting in a WACC of 3.74%.

Jonson Cox, Chairman of Ofwat said:

“This is an important step in maintaining customers’ trust and confidence in the water sector. We set out to deliver a challenging but fair outcome. We are requiring companies to meet higher service standards and deliver on their promises to customers. We are bringing down bills so customers can expect value for money, while investors can earn a fair return. Companies will need to stretch themselves to deliver much more with the same level of funding as in previous years. We will achieve more resilient infrastructure and better service as a result.”

Cathryn Ross, Chief Executive of Ofwat said:

“With bills held down by five percent and service driven up over the next five years, customers will get more and pay less. Where companies stepped up to do the best they could for their customers we did not need to intervene. But where companies fell short we stepped in to make sure customers get a good deal. Now the hard work begins. Companies will only build trust and confidence with their customers if they deliver. Those who do can look forward to fair returns, while those that don’t will be hit in the pocket and face a tough five years ahead.”

These new charges will come into effect in April 2015. Companies have two months in which to accept Ofwat’s final determination or seek a referral to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Final determination: average bill changes (excluding inflation)

All figures are in 2014/15 prices. Figures may not add up due to rounding

Changes to average annual combined bill for water and sewerage companies

Ofwat’s final determination

Companies’
2013 December
request

2014-15

2019-20

5 year change

5 year change

National average bill (England and Wales)

£396

£376

-5%

-2%

Anglian

£431

£390

-10%

-8%

Dŵr Cymru

£440

£416

-5%

-4%

Northumbrian
(including Essex & Suffolk)

£388

£382

-1%

0%

Severn Trent

£333

£316

-5%

-4%

Southern

£437

£403

-8%

-2%

South West*

£545

£506

-7%

-4%

Thames**

£370

£353

-5%

3%

United Utilities

£410

£398

-3%

0%

Wessex

£485

£442

-9%

-4%

Yorkshire

£373

£361

-3%

-1%

 

Changes to average annual water bill for water only companies

Ofwat’s final determination

Companies’
2013 December
request

 

2014-15

2019-20

5 year change

5 year change

Affinity

£176

£163

-7%

-4%

Bristol

£202

£160

-21%

1%

Dee Valley

£152

£149

-2%

8%

Portsmouth

£97

£96

-1%

-1%

SembCorp Bournemouth

£153

£134

-12%

-6%

South East

£201

£194

-3%

3%

South Staffs
(including Cambridge)

£141

£135

-4%

2%

Sutton and East Surrey

£186

£180

-3%

-5%

* The average combined customer bill for South West does not reflect the £50 per customer Government contribution towards household bills. This addresses the significant investment needed in the infrastructure which was inherited by the company at privatisation to meet environmental and drinking water quality standards.

** Thames Water’s figures includes the costs for the preparatory works to build the Thames Tideway Tunnel – a 25km sewer to deal with the problem of too much sewage overflowing into the River Thames. However, it does not include costs for the construction of the tunnel. This is because the project will be financed and delivered by an independent infrastructure provider (IP). The IP is due to be appointed in 2015.

 

Student digs at up 19K A year- Chandeliers, cinema and 24/7 gym.

The brand new Eclipse building in Cardiff offers students an on-site nightclub, private cinema, dinner party function room complete with chandeliers, fitness suite, 24/7 concierge, games room, courtyard with ping-pong tables and, last but not least, dedicated study rooms.

That’s because only students live here. It is a prime example of the sort of luxury student accommodation springing up all over the country. The building’s management company, Collegiate AC, describes the property as a place where “lucky residents see their lives enhanced by a stylish, ultimate living experience”. That “enhancement” has a price tag, not all Cardiff students will be able to afford: up to £1,222 a month (£14,664 a year) to rent a one-bed flat.

The amount of luxury private accommodation on offer to students has grown rapidly in recent years, with the rents charged for purpose-built student accommodation increasing by 80% over the past 10 years, the latest research from the National Union of Students (NUS) shows. The union believes a twentyfold increase in the number of studio apartments available for students to rent privately lies at the heart of this trend, with the average weekly cost of this sort of accommodation hitting £193.76 in 2016, compared with £106.63 for a bedroom in a private house.

Yet some students are prepared to pay. Those who rent a “superior studio”, consisting of an en-suite bedroom with a study area and kitchen, at the London Liberty Plaza, pay at least £380 a week, 51 weeks of the year – more than £19,000 annually. The developers say every studio in the building, near the London School of Economics and King’s College London, was sold out a month before the start of the 2017-18 academic year.

It was the same in Manchester and Bristol, where Liberty charges £296 and £266 a week respectively for luxury studio flats. “Our superior rooms offer premium space and great views across the city with individual amenities, meaning no fridge-fighting, no arguments over cleaning, plus your own space to relax,” a spokesperson says.

Simon Thompson, director of the student accommodation portal AccommodationForStudents.com, thinks the demand for luxury student accommodation is being fuelled by peer pressure and students’ complacency about leaving university with a large debt. “Taking on a high level of debt is now part and parcel of going to university, and students are not frightened of carrying extra debt to get better quality accommodation,” he says. “They see other students living somewhere nicer … and they want to live there, too. They will also put pressure their parents to contribute.”

Lawrence Bowles, a researcher for Savills, says demand for luxury student accommodation also comes from parents. “It’s the parents who typically pay the rent. They want their children to live in a secure and supportive environment that is stress-free and optimised for student life. Particularly if they live overseas, they find it reassuring to send their child to live in a building run by a reputable management company, where there is a 24/7 concierge, high-speed internet … and space to work in their bedroom.”

Typically these companies invest more effort in maintaining and furnishing their student lets than do traditional landlords. In a 2014 NUS survey, more than three-quarters of students had experienced at least one problem with their property, with almost a quarter (24%) reporting slugs, mice or another infestation in their home.

Students who can afford to live in stress-free, luxury accommodation, which includes a quiet place to study, could enjoy an academic and psychological advantage over their peers, research suggests. In its annual report on student academic experiences, the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) found a link between students’ perceptions of their well-being and their ability to learn. Those scoring highly for life satisfaction and happiness were likely to feel they had learned more from their course.

Worrying about things like accommodation is a major stress and distraction for students, while our research has shown that good wellbeing leads to more exam success, a happier student experience and a perception that the university is better value for money,” says Dr. Diana Beech, HEPI director of policy and advocacy. She would like to see universities invest more in housing support services. “It would be nice to see dedicated support officers within universities who can help students with problem landlords, visit them in their homes, write letters of support and help students to find alternative accommodation within their means.”

Lack of such support can drive some students towards luxury accommodation, she says. “I would like to see more diversity in the housing market for students – going basically shouldn’t mean going substandard.”

Bowles agrees: “The way forward is for developers to build affordably priced accommodation with high-quality service levels but less focus on luxury amenities. That will also mean former student housing can be converted back into family homes for local families.”

Cardiff University spokesperson said: “We’re certainly aware of an increase in the provision of private accommodation for students in Cardiff – some marketed as luxury accommodation – but we’re not aware of this causing any significant issues for students.

Home buyers willing to spend an hour travelling into central London can save up to £480,858 on the cost of buying a home.

Property prices are about 60 percent lower than London in towns such as CrawleyWindsorRochesterPeterborough, and Oxford, with average house prices of around £316,000.In comparison, the average cost of a home in London travel Zones 1 and 2 has reached almost  £800,000, according to the report by Lloyds Bank.

Wellingborough in Northamptonshire emerges from the study as the least expensive commuter town with an average property price of around £197,000, followed by Kettering, also in Northamptonshire and Peterborough in Cambridgeshire, a close third.

Of course, property prices can’t be the only financial consideration when considering a move outside of London. The current annual rail pass for commuters traveling for 60-minutes costs an eye-watering £5,169 on average, but if the sums stack up, you could buy 93 years worth of travel with the average savings made on the property.

THE CHEAPEST COMMUTER TOWNS WITHIN AN HOUR’S COMMUTE OF LONDON

Town County Average house price (July 2017) Fastest train to central London
Wellingborough Northamptonshire £197,743 51 minutes
Kettering Northamptonshire £206,873 59 minutes
Peterborough Cambridgeshire £207,458 53 minutes
Swindon Wiltshire £234,466 59 minutes
Chatham Kent £234,652 54 minutes
Rugby Warwickshire £237,263 50 minutes
Northampton Northamptonshire £238,306 48 minutes
Luton Bedfordshire £250,593 24 minutes
Sittingbourne Kent £254,457 60 minutes
Basildon Essex £259,176 38 minutes

Source: Lloyds Bank, Land Registry, ONS

 

TOWNS WITHIN A 40-MINUTE COMMUTE OF LONDON

If an hour-long commute sounds too much, there can also big savings to be made on 40 and 20-minute journeys, the research from Lloyds Bank reveals. 

Homes in towns such as HatfieldBillericayOrpington and Reading cost just under £425,000 on average, which is almost half the cost of central London prices. An annual rail pass costs around £3,615 for a 40-minute commute. Even traveling just 20-minutes can save homebuyers almost £300,000, with rail passes from towns such as Ilford and Elstree costing £2,481 a year.

The distance between a potential new home and the office is a key factor for many house hunters, but Andrew Mason, mortgage product director at Lloyds Bank, believes commuting is an option worthy of serious consideration.

Not only do you get more house for your buck outside of central London, but commuters living in the 10 most affordable commuter towns are earning over £9,000 more per year on average than they would be in their place of residence.

“Commuting to London is a smart move for those wishing to benefit from the higher wages on offer while buying a cheaper and typically larger home,” he said.

THE TOWNS WHERE IT DOESN’T PAY TO COMMUTE

There are, however, a handful of commuter towns that command higher house prices than central London. Homes in Beaconsfield, for example, cost an average of £1,054,000, with Gerrards Cross (£903,000), Ascot (£824,000) and Weybridge (£822,000) also more expensive.

Commuting to other major UK cities is unlikely to be cost-effective.

Homes in the second biggest city of Birmingham cost £182,000 on average, yet the towns of DerbyCoventryBurton on Trent and Leamington Spa - all roughly 40 minutes away by train – command significantly higher average house prices of £225,000.

The situation is similar in the third largest city of Manchester, where the average house costs £175,000. Go house hunting in the nearby towns of MacclesfieldChorleyWarrington, however, and you can expect to find higher average house prices of £216,000.

 

3 THINGS ESTATE AGENTS DO IN YOUR INTEREST THAT YOU MAY NOT KNOW OF

There has always been speculation and negative talk on Estate Agents, but we’re here to turn that around as we work closely with the agents on our portal. We’ve now curated a list of 5 things Estate Agents do in your interest that you may not be aware of:

TIP #1: Area Research

Estate Agents make sure that they have an in-depth understanding and appreciation for the community they are serving, as this will better their chances in assisting you in either selling your property or buying one. Either way, them having a closer understanding of the area benefits you in general.

TIP #2: Market Research

Estate Agents strive to be on top of the property market as this will aid them in negotiating prices with Landlords or vendors as well as helping you to understand when is the best time to make an investment in regards to anything property related.

TIP #3: Support other local businesses

Agents are always getting involved in local community events or supporting other local businesses in the area via sponsorships, campaigns and etc. Doing this allows Agents to have a close tie with the community and also, in turn, become your tour guide into the community.

So these are just things that Agents do in your interest!

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Also if you have any tips that you could recommend to us, share them in the comments and we’ll be highlighting them in our upcoming articles on Estate Agents and their services.

 

WHAT BREXIT MEANS FOR THE PROPERTY MARKET

19 June was an important day for the history and future of the UK, as that is when the Brexit negotiations are to commence. One question that has been buzzing among the property sector and its followers is, ‘How will Brexit affect the housing prices and property market in the UK?’, and that is more than understandable.

So we’ve curated a short list of things that we are currently seeing and that we at Property Property Property believe we’ll be seeing soon, within the market:

Negotiations

As mentioned above, negotiations have taken place from Monday 19 June 2017 for the after-effects of the Brexit vote. These negotiations between the UK and EU will determine the state of the economy, which will also then determine the outcome of the housing market. However, we also believe there will be talk on trading, which may also affect the number of houses and flats springing from the ground in places such as London.

Market Fluctuation

As many people are wary about the value of their home or purchasing a property post-Brexit as they’re not too confident in what the market will hold, and neither are we as we are yet to see any significant difference in the market. However, reports have shown that the number of house purchases since the Brexit vote has dipped and we believe we’ll continue to see fluctuations in the market for the next few months until the economy has been stabilised.

Speculations

There has been some speculation within the property industry on what Brexit will actually mean and how it’ll affect us. However, a survey of forecasts was taken by the Investment Property Forum in the latter part of 2016, have shown that the capitals value in commercial real estate is predicted/expected to fall by 3.6 percent in 2017. On the country to that, rents have been predicted to remain high.

Nevertheless, these are all speculations and predictions based on the small changes that may have occurred the weeks leading to the Brexit vote and the weeks’ post-Brexit vote. What we are most concerned about is the future of our property market.

So at Property Property Property, we’ll like to know what your comments and thoughts are on Brexit and how it may change out property market.

7 THINGS YOU SHOULD LOOK OUT FOR IN YOUR RETIREMENT HOME

At Property Property Property we cater to everyone, including our dear pensioners. So this post is dedicated and the start of more to come, that are highlighted specifically to pensioners or those seeking retirement.

We have curated and listed below our top 7 tips on things you should look for in your retirement home:

TIP #1: Ramp or home modification

Now we’re not suggesting that this is a most for everyone, but as most people who are seeking retirement homes for the purpose of living there for the rest of lives, we advise that this is something you look out for. As it is a known fact that strength decreases with age, so looking into securing a property with a ramp and already installed home modifications is a bonus as it will save you time and money in the future when having to maybe install these functions.

TIP #2: Low ceilings

Ideally, when you look for properties, your mind isn’t too focused on the size or height of the ceiling. But as you gracefully age, I believe it is something you should look for in your retirement home. As you’ll still want to be able to have reach of the lighting on your celling and something that doesn’t have an overwhelming effect, such as a high ceiling.

TIP #3: Lower units

Following on from having lower ceilings, you may also consider having lower units. Such as a lower kitchen cabinet, lower bathroom system; anything that doesn’t stress you or is more easily accessible for yourself as you age.

TIP #4: Community park or recreation center

At this age, you are either more free to explore the world or you’re freer to explore your community. We suggest looking for local facilities that encourage pensioner activities or anything that will keep you busy and stress-free in your older years.

TIP #5: Location

Location is a very important factor to consider when seeking a retirement home as you still want to be accessible and reachable to family, friends, and anyone who you are in contact with. But at the same time, aim to look for a more peaceful and scenic neighborhood so that you can enjoy your retirement with less noise pollution.

TIP #6: Maintenance

This leads back to point 3, we just want to reinforce the point that it’s better to look for a property that will require less maintenance work in the long-run. As you wouldn’t want to spend your retirement having to make continuous modifications and alterations to your new home in order to suit your health. Why not jump this step and consider this now.

TIP #7: Transport

And finally transportation. We advise anyone and everyone looking for a new space to look for a location with good transportation links, as this will give you more freedom to travel as this will be something that is easily accessible for you to visit friends or family.

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Also if you have any tips that you could recommend to us, share them in the comments and we’ll be highlighting them in our upcoming articles in the ‘Retirement and Pensioners’ series.

 

 

5 COOL THINGS FOR YOUR CHILDREN TO ENJOY IN THEIR NEW HOME

Parents, do your children complain that your home isn’t cool enough or that little Johnny’s room isn’t as nice as little Maxwell’s is his class. Well, we’ve got some tips for you on how you can make your home look super-duper cool for your kids.

TIP #1: Chalkboard walls

You either find it fascinating or annoying and that is; chalkboards. As a kid, you may remember drawing all over the walls of the house, even though there was paper somewhere in the house. I definitely did.

To prevent that but also encourage your children’s creative abilities, invest in some chalkboard paint. Whether you want to paint a panel, a strip or be adventurous and paint a whole wall; go for it. Make sure you actually have some chalk though and a chalk eraser, to clean it up after.

TIP #2: DIY cinema system

Have you tried having an at home cinema day, where you’ve put in some animated DVD’s for the kids, but the issue is the screen isn’t big enough? But the layout is cool, just the screen causing problems. Well for that final touch we recommend that you consider buying some ‘Projection Screen’ (preferably 100” inch 16:9 and portable), have it pinned up or stuck to your wall and get you a projector next. Then project your films on a BIGGER screen! Get some popcorn too, while you’re at it.

TIP #3: Dedicated space

Whether it’s an entire playroom, a small corner, or a reading nook. We believe that your child needs a space where they can have some chill me-time. But decorate it and make it look a bit fancy for them.

TIP #4: Cool scenery wallpaper

Have you ever been to the jungle? I haven’t, but you could take your kids there. And I don’t mean a real jungle; I mean that you could customise your little one’s room with some scenic wallpaper ranging from an animated jungle, a little princess castle, a tropical island or whatever takes their fancy. These are a really good way to drastically change the appearance of the kid’s room.

TIP #5: Cool storage systems

As a youth, cleaning wasn’t one of my biggest hobbies and I’m sure it isn’t your children’s either. Unless times have changed drastically. But in order to slowly nurture your kids into the art of home maintenance and also teach them good household skills, create a cool storage system where cleaning actually looks exciting. Having some hanging storage bins are quite good, as your children could practice basketball and represent our country in the Olympics.

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Also if you have any tips that you could recommend to us, share them in the comments and we’ll be highlighting them in our upcoming articles in the ‘Family’ series.

 

Manchester Property Prices Rising

Manchester has seen property values in the city have risen by 6.92 percent in the last 12 months, with the average home now worth around £162,000. However, across the whole of the UK, house prices rose by 5.14 pc in the year to July seeing the average move up to £226,185. According to the report, the total value of all homes in the UK is £3 trillion, with two-thirds of the total in the capital.

According to a new study, Manchester’s property market is the third most valuable in the country. Hometrack research found that houses in the city are worth a total of £133bn, behind London and Birmingham, which with housing markets worth £1.99 trillion and £152bn respectively.

Estate agent Ged McPartlin, from Ascend Properties, says news of Manchester’s housing boom comes as no surprise.He said: “The north is certainly booming as the latest Hometrack report has revealed that Manchester is the best city for growth – experiencing a strong increase in house prices.This, along with the total value of homes being worth a huge £133bn creates a truly thriving property market which is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.From an agent’s point of view, these figures truly reflect what we’re seeing in the marketplace.Buyers understand that the market is moving fast, competition is rife and it’s generally fastest fingers first. The demand has continued to push prices up and the lack of stock has created marketplace urgency.There’s also been an increase in landlords snapping properties up in the city, particularly throughout June, July and August, as the new university year creates a rush of tenants desperate to secure a decent property before the term starts.It’s been a very busy summer and the growth reported today clearly reflects this.”

The study also showed that mortgage debt in Manchester came to a total of £32bn, while housing equity – the difference between the home’s market value and the outstanding balance of mortgage payments – came to £100bn.

Richard Donnell, research and insight director at Hometrack, said: “House prices continue to rise on the back of sustained price inflation in large regional cities as unemployment falls and mortgage rates remain low.”

 

HOW TO PERSONALISE YOUR RENTED SPACE

Making a rented space your home is a very tricky task especially as it isn’t your actual home, it’s someone else’s and your just renting it. But never fear Property Property Property is here with some tips and tricks on how you can convert your rented space from being just a rented space to your home.

Seek Permission from Landlord

First of all, make sure you have the permission of your Landlord. If you’re fortunate to have a flexible Landlord who doesn’t mind you suggesting and getting some paintwork and upscaling done on the space, then take advantage of that! However, if you’re Landlord is stricter and doesn’t allow permanent changes (even though painting isn’t permanent), still seek their permission for any changes you may be making to their property.

Now let’s begin….

1. Walls

A majority of the time we want to change and customise our walls, because of walls. So we recommend that your use removable wallpapers that reflect your personality in your rented space, as this will bring to life your character and make you feel homier. Also consider doing a faux wall DIY project, an amazing alternative.

2. Sticking stuff

If you’re into gallery walls or just having paintings/quotes stuck up on your wall for inspiration but your Landlord doesn’t want you nailing stuff on his walls, then we’ve got your back! Consider getting some double-sided tape, blu tack or specific customised adhesive tapes as this will ensure that you can get your gallery wall, without the expensive of drilled walls and an angry Landlord.

3. Flexible furniture

This is one of the most important things you can do! Get flexible furniture as you could easily move it around. If you’re tired of the way your space is set up, with flexible modular furniture you can just opt and switch up the structure and layout of your room at any time.

4. Decorate, Decorate, Decorate

Property Property Property advice you’re to Decorate Decorate Decorate! Adding textiles that interest you or changing the lighting accessories; anything that wouldn’t make permanent changes to your rented space but reflects your personality, you need it!

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Also if you have any tips that you could recommend to us, share them in the comments and we’ll be highlighting them in our upcoming articles in the ‘Home Improvement’ series.

 

7 WAYS TO CHEAPLY UPGRADE AND UPSCALE YOUR SPACE

Ever looked inside a home and lifestyle magazine and seen the exquisite homes and expensive looking decoration and wished that your home could look like that. Well, it can! And it isn’t too costly either.

We’ve curated and listed below our top 7 tips for upgrading and upscaling your space:

TIP #1: Clean or Conceal the clutter

First things first we’re the realist… clean the clutter. To achieve that expensive look, we recommend either cleaning/detoxing the unnecessary clutter or hide it with a good storage system that could easier be decorated with a nicely textured cloth or key ornaments.

TIP #2: Paint the floors, not just the walls

Try the unconventional method of painting the floor and not just the walls. Some of the most expensive looking spaces have the best floors. Try a monochrome pattern on the floor, ie. black and white vertical lines.

TIP #3: Organise & Conceal wires

More concealing! A lot of the times we have many little wires all over the floor, hanging on the wall and they’re basically everywhere. They don’t do your living space much justice, to be honest. So hide them! And not just a basic tape work; but branch into the various DIY projects the internet has to offer, such as hiding the wire in boxes or disguising them in the finishing on the wall.

TIP #4: Upgrade switch covers

I’m honestly trying to avoid using the word conceal again, so instead, I’ll use a disguise. Disguise those old light switches with fancy new covers. Or better yet, spray paint or just liquid paint them with the colour of your taste in a metallic finishing. That ought to do the trick!

TIP #5: Retouch & Upgrade hardware

To continue the topic of disguising, why not disguise the hardware around your home also. Switch those old looking door handles to crystal door knobs; they automatically add an element of elegance and luxury to any space. Also, the hardware at the corner of the doors, your kitchen counter, your bathroom floors spray paint those in a waterproof stainless steel gold/silver colour as they will also automatically upscale any space.

TIP #6: One Statement Piece

Most luxury homeowners have that one statement piece that they love to brag about, and why’s that? Well, it might be due to the fact that it actually is a statement piece. Now you don’t necessarily have to go completely out of pocket; but if you’ve got a liking for a certain style of artwork, why not get it blown up in your local photography shop to the largest size and have that one painting/artwork displayed in your living room. That will definitely make a statement.

TIP 7: Simplify your room styling

Now for our final tip. Simplify your room styling.

In order to get that expensive, yet simple living look, don’t do too much. You don’t need to have so many pretty ornaments or too many metallics in one room. Space it out across your living space and make every room a statement.

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Also if you have any tips that you could recommend to us, share them in the comments and we’ll be highlighting them in our upcoming articles in the Home Improvement series.