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What is permaculture?

As concern grows over the damage to our environment and eco-systems caused by human activity, increasing numbers of people are seeking ways of reducing their impact. They are actively looking for sustainable methods of living that will help, rather than harm, the planet. But this can often seem a difficult task. depending on our circumstances and location. Some of us feel helpless to act, believing that many of the methods are beyond us, being perhaps too expensive or requiring too drastic a change of lifestyle or location. Some might appear too complex or technical, so we steer away from them, fearing that we might find them daunting or too difficult to understand. A good example of this is the term permaculture. It conjures different images in peoples' minds, sounding scientific and possibly even a little dull. But when you start to look into it, you'll find it pretty straightforward. And it's something that we can all do, whatever our circumstances.

What is permaculture?

permaculture

The original term was a combination of the words permanent and agriculture but this last word was later changed to culture as it embraced a better idea of what was involved. The use of the word 'agriculture' implied that it was all about growing crops. Permaculture is much more than this, though.

The basic idea behind permaculture is to devise innovative ways of working with nature, rather than against it. While this will clearly take in elements of agriculture, it endeavours to encompass many aspects of our lives, including engineering and design, sustainable architecture, and efficient management of water resources.

Bill Mollison, who is regarded as the 'Father of Permaculture', wrote down three of the main ethics on which the movement was founded:

  • Care of the Earth - this focuses on ensuring that life systems continue to grow, flourish, and multiply
  • Care of people - making sure that all people have access to the essential resources necessary for life
  • Return of surplus - anything left over must be used to help others or returned to the Earth. Nothing must be wasted.

Though these are the general rules, a more specific set of guidelines is given below.
To answer the question 'what is permaculture?' we need to understand that humans do not live in isolation, separate from nature and the eco-systems of our planet. Although some believe that we have tamed nature, stamping our ownership of the land in the form of urban and industrial landscapes, as well as vast areas of intensive agriculture, we have instead caused massive damage. Our actions, especially since the Industrial Revolution, have consistently moved us out of synchronisation with nature, the planet, and the seasons.

In the early 20th century, certain individuals began to explore this, looking for ways to halt this dangerous and damaging course. One of these people was Masanobu Fukuoka, a farmer and philosopher, who, from the 1930s to the late 1970s promoted Natural Farming. This endorsed traditional methods of farming but introduced further ideas that not only limited human impact but also minimised labour. In essence, he took the farming methods of indigenous people and developed them to include elements such as 'no-till farming'. Turning the soil, especially on sandy or sloping ground, can lead to erosion, whereas leaving it intact can help to retain organic matter, moisture, and nutrients.

During the 1960s permaculture experienced a surge of interest as environmentalism caught on. It remains popular today, seeming ever more urgent as dire warnings of climate catastrophe are given with alarming frequency.

The Twelve Principles of Permaculture


To give a better idea of what's involved, here are the guidelines for successful permaculture.

  • Observe and interact - spend time looking at the land and understanding it before acting. Engage with nature and create designs to suit the specifics of each location.
  • Catch and store energy - by thinking and planning ahead, we can make the most of resources while they're abundant, storing it for times when it is needed most.
  • Obtain a yield - try to ensure that whatever the process, it returns something in reward for the effort.
  • Apply self-regulation and accept feedback - the system to work well if it's to work at all. If a person acts inappropriately or incorrectly, then the process is flawed and the results will be unsatisfactory, pointless, or even damaging.
  • Use and value renewable resources and services - through the sensible and sensitive use of the abundance of nature, we can reduce our dependence on non-renewable resources and adapt our behaviour to lower our consumption.
  • Produce no waste - by using all the available resources we can ensure that nothing is wasted.
  • Designs from patterns to details - through careful observation of the patterns in nature, the seasons, and in society, we can form practical, sensible plans and designs. Details can then be added later.
  • Integrate rather than segregate - basically, this encourages 'sympathetic' relationships by setting the right thing in the right place, allowing them to interact positively and help each other to develop.
  • Use small and slow solutions - these are easier to manage and maintain than big solutions, and they can produce more sustainable results, using local resources wisely.
  • Use and value diversity - this applies just as much to human involvement as the botanical element. Biodiversity of species within an ecosystem is essential for its continued health and survival. Diversity within a human environment likewise reduces vulnerability and helps to develop a strong, healthy society. This point is central to anyone answering the question 'what is permaculture?'.
  • Use edges and value the marginal - this point draws attention to the interfaces between environments, often disregarded. But these can be the areas of most interest, diversity, and productivity.
  • Creatively use and respond to change - change is inevitable. But if we observe carefully and act at the right time we can have a positive influence.

We can all apply these to various aspects of our lives, whoever and wherever we are. And the sooner, the better, for the sake of our planet and for our own survival.


Who Created the Earthship Concept?

Earthships are passive solar houses based on a New Mexican architect's design principles to promote sustainability. During the energy crisis that occurred in the 1970s, the idea of developing these environmentally-friendly structures that do not depend on nonrenewable resources is developed. This particular housing option will be further discussed along with the places they can be legally built and the building codes you need to consider.

Who Created the Earthship Concept?

An architect named Michael Reynolds is the creator and founder of the Earthship Biotecture concept which eventually became an eco-construction company recognized globally today.

After graduating from the University of Cincinnati, Reynolds became concerned about the trash problems and the lack of affordable housing options. He then did experiments using several waste materials.

His designs constantly evolved over the next decades, incorporating passive solar energy, thermal mass, and natural ventilation to counteract the effects of climate change through architecture.

The Earthship Design Further Explained

Reynold's efforts resulted in the project known as the Earthship today. It is an autonomous, self-sufficient structure built with recycled and natural materials while considering energy conservation.

Designed to generate water, food, and electricity on its own, Earthships are based on six design principles, all of them taking advantage of earth's natural existing phenomena, which are the following:

  • Using thermal and solar heating and cooling
  • Building with natural and repurposed materials
  • Water harvesting
  • Solar and wind electricity generation
  • Self-sustained food production
  • Contained sewage treatment

Benefits of Earthship Homes

Living in an Earthship home boasts many benefits. For those who find it interesting, check these benefits out and you might be inspired to get one of your own.

Maintenance of Ideal Temperatures

One of the best things about living in this type of home is the sustenance of ideal, comfortable temperatures all year long. From blisteringly hot climates to freezing temperatures, Earthships can maintain a temperature of about 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

This is made possible by the absorption and storage of solar heat in thermal mass, the basis of Earthship's structure. The thermal mass works by serving as a heat sink, absorbing heat and insulating as needed. Additionally, the greenhouse windows at the structure allow the sun to heat the thermal mass during the day.

Reduction of Waste Materials Through Recycling

Most of the materials needed in constructing Earthships are recycled. The construction begins by using dirt-filled tires. With many tire dumps worldwide, a shortage is unlikely to happen.

The walls above these tires are then built using glass and plastic bottles set inside the concrete. In some developing nations, these materials can be obtained from the street which also helps in cleaning the neighborhood.

Financial Freedom

Since all your basic needs are provided by your home, expect little to no utility bills each month. You could live even without a job. This provides you financial freedom and lets you enjoy life more. If all of us could solely focus on improving our environment than trying to make a living, things might improve for the better.

Affordable Materials

On top of the money you save from the absence of utility bills, the materials required for building Earthships are also affordable. Building a basic Earthship model starts at $20,000 with more advanced models costing around $70,000 or more depending on your preferences. Considering these low costs, almost everyone can afford an Earthship of their own.

Water Conservation

Another amazing thing about its engineering is the water-recycling system. Using a harvesting system, rain can be collected to deliver enough water even during the dryest climates.

This works because the roof funnels rainwater and transfers it to the cistern, which pumps it into the shower and sink. Used water then goes into the greenhouse to water the plants.

Not That Different From Modern Homes

When some people hear the term 'sustainable', they think of something primitive, which is not the case. Even before the discovery of the Earthship design, the majority of housing solutions fit this description as well. Earthships offer all the benefits of modern homes while being sustainable at the same time.

Renewable Energy

By having solar panels lining your wind turbines and roof, you can accumulate electricity the natural way. This ensures that you never run out of power and eliminates the need to buy energy from electric companies.

Free Food Source

With an onsite greenhouse, you get to grow crops throughout the year. Regardless of the climate, you can sustain yourself with the crops that you grow within your home. For a source of meat or eggs, you can also construct a chicken coop or fish pond on your property

Where Can I Build an Earthship Legally?

The ideal place to build an Earthship on is somewhere where you can find water all year round, grow food, and raise livestock. It should also be away from fires caused by droughts but not so far due to the risk of snow loads.

Once you find this ideal location, you also need to ensure that you can take advantage of the sun during the cold months to warm your thermal mass. Somewhere between 40 to 50-degree latitude seems to work best.

When it comes to legality, you can build an Earthship anywhere as long as you follow your local codes, restrictions, and covenants. As long as the structural engineering for your roof system can take the recommended load, you will be safe. Local building departments usually require you to meet requirements like this.

Earthship: Permits, Codes, and Regulations

Before you even start planning your Earthship project, you need to find out what you can and cannot do. Doing this will prevent unwanted issues in the future.

Some commercial and residential building codes are complex in some countries such as the United States and Canada, requiring you to do research first to ensure that your Earthship project will comply with the law.

While you have the option to get a lawyer instead to save you the trouble, you can also do things yourself if you have enough time and patience. Here are some questions to help you get started:

  • What type of zoning applies to my land?
  • What specific building restrictions are there for my type of zoning?
  • Is a building permit from my province or local municipality required?
  • How do construction inspections take place?
  • Am I allowed to use car tires for my foundation?
  • Do we need a temporary living space on the construction site?

Septic Tank

Usually, a permit is required to install or modify individual liquid waste systems. You can get a form for this purpose from your local state environment department office.

Zoning Approval

If your pending project is located in an area that requires zoning approval, you must first obtain zoning approval and a signature on the Application for State Building Permit before you can apply for a building permit. To assist you with this, you may contact the Construction Industries Division in your area.

How to Obtain a Building Permit

To get this form, you need to request an application for the State Building Permit Form. After obtaining the form, you shall fill it in with the information listed on it. The qualifying party for the contractor requesting the permit or the homeowner requesting the permit must then sign the application.

Codes and Laws

Building codes are usually developed by well-intentioned people in the construction industry. Their goal is to protect life, limb, property, and the environment.

If you plan to use alternative construction materials or methods, you might be able to use them as long as you can prove that your way is just as good or better than what the code prescribes.

It is good to remember that codes are generally updated every three years. This is why regularly checking them is highly advised, because you never know when they will change.

Moreover, the most recent printing of building codes might not apply to all construction projects, which is why it is essential to inquire about them just to be sure.

Check With Your Local Building Code Department

To learn the current codes being implemented and how they will affect your Earthship project, contacting some departments is needed. These include your local building inspection department, department of permits, and office of planning and zoning.

You can start talking to the local government body that has the most jurisdiction over the property you intend to build on. These officials can provide you the current building codes being implemented in your area.

Conclusion

Contrary to the belief of many, Earthships are not something primitive. These innovations are not that different compared to the modern housing options we have today. This housing option is perfect for those who want more freedom in life and desire to be able to sustain themselves on their own.

You can have Earthships built everywhere, as long as you follow your local codes, restrictions, and covenants. If you are unsure where to start inquiring about building regulations, you won't go wrong in reaching out to the most authoritative local government body near the property you intend to build on.



What is Low Impact Housing?

The majority of human habitation methods damage the environment to some extent. Low impact houses are developed to counteract and lessen these damages as much as possible.

Furthermore, it's also good to remember that retrofitting existing properties is much less damaging compared to demolishing and building from scratch. This article will discuss low impact housing further and its many benefits.

  • Building Materials

Building Materials

Most of the time, materials used for low impact housing are local or natural. They also usually don't require to be manufactured in factories and their transportation means almost have no adverse effect on the environment.

Some common materials for this type of housing include clay, timber, cob, lime, hemp, straw, and stone. Unlike those used for other housing types, the materials used for low impact housing are mostly eco-friendly.

Location Options

Low impact houses don't require great sizes of land to be built. Nowadays, productive land is very limited, utilizing the majority of it for a single property will be a waste. Most houses of this type are located close to town to minimize environmental impact.

Benefits of Low Impact Housing
Here are the benefits you get if you choose to get a low impact housing.
Water and Energy Efficiency

Low impact homes don't require huge amounts of energy to maintain their operations. This is made possible through the use of super-insulation, passive solar gain, low-impact appliances, and passive ventilation. Additionally, some low impact housing variations are designed to be passively heated by the sun, body heat, and electrical equipment.

When it comes to water conservation, several systems are implemented such as rainwater harvesting, water-saving devices, compost toilets, and greywater recycling. Once you opt for a low impact housing option, the energy and water preserving systems that come with it are usually more than enough.

Better Health Quality

Biological and chemical pollutants including bacteria, mold, fungi, viruses, and dust mites have greatly increased throughout the years. The major use of synthetic, non-hygroscopic, and non-breathable materials is the probable cause of this problem.

For the sake of our health, humidity levels ranging from 40-60% are highly advised. The utilization of hygroscopic materials that naturally release moisture fixes this issue. Fortunately, low impact housing makes use of these materials.

Eco-Friendliness

Property constructions contribute around 10% of energy consumption and carbon emissions in general. However, the activities of the people that live in them are responsible for about 50%, most of them related to heating.

A low impact housing reduces these damages through wise material preferences and innovative design and construction methods. While low impact houses help reduce environmental damage, most factors still depend on the lifestyle of their occupants.

The natural materials used in this type of housing tend to be hygroscopic in nature. This prevents moisture from being trapped in the property, which may cause unwanted rotting and decaying. Repairs for these natural materials are also easy, making the houses they comprise last for a very long time.

Reduced Costs

Since the materials used for low impact housing are either cheap or free, this is probably why you'll save a lot in choosing this housing type. The costs are even further reduced since the natural materials used removes the need for mechanical ventilation.

Minimal Maintenance

This housing type may require shingle replacements, fresh recoats of limewash, or repair jobs every once in a while, and that's it. Some housing options require full replacements which can be costly. As long as you do the required maintenance measures, you can expect your low impact housing to last for many years.

Conclusion

Since the construction of most housing types harms the environment to some extent, those who care about the environment may find choosing difficult. Fortunately, they can opt for low impact housing options to lessen the damages as much as possible.

You also get many benefits if you choose this housing option. This includes water and energy efficiency, better health quality, eco-friendliness, reduced costs, and minimal maintenance. If you are an eco-conscious individual that wants to save money at the same time, choosing low impact housing would surely be the right choice.


Cleaning With Vinegar and Dawn

Finding healthier, more efficient, and cheaper alternatives to cleaning your home are at the top of the list of priorities for almost everyone who strives to make their home healthier. Fortunately, effective and non-toxic cleaners have been present in your homes for centuries, for example, vinegar - one of the best cleaners in the house. It widely uses, efficient, and cheap.

The basic mixture is 1 cup (0.24 l) of water and ¼ distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle. You can use this mixture for most cleaning of bathrooms, kitchens, floors, windows, furniture in your living and working space. With vinegar and Dawn dishwashing liquid, you will solve more demanding cleaning challenges.

A mixture of vinegar and Dawn liquid dish soap for cleaning wooden floors and furniture

These cleaners can make your job easier, floors and furniture will look like new.

You can use any edible oil for floors, usually vegetable or olive. Mix it with vinegar, water, Dawn dishwashing liquid, and essential oils. You will get mixtures that nurture wooden surfaces in your home. The simplest recipe is to mix 2.5 cups of ordinary vegetable oil, 1.5 cups of vinegar, two tablespoons of Dawn dish soap, and a few drops of fragrant essential oils. Dissolve this liquid in water and clean the floors. Or mix 1 cup of oil, 1 l of water, half a cup of vinegar and half a cup of squeezed lemon juice.

You can also use apple cider vinegar. Never place any of the products offered directly on the floor or wooden furniture, as they may cause pale stains. Always dissolve the mixtures you have prepared in water.

Vinegar as the best natural cleanser for windows and other glass surfaces

A mixture of vinegar and water (1:10) perfectly cleans glass surfaces (windows, oven glass, shower glass). Add 10 drops of essential oil of your choice. Pour the mixture into a pump bottle, as this will make it easier to apply.

Clean the dust from the furniture with vinegar and Dawn

At the bottom of the bowl with the sprinkler put 1/5 vinegar, 30 drops of essential oil of tea tree, lavender and sage, Dawn dishwashing liquid, and fill it with water. To polish the furniture, you can mix two tablespoons of olive oil with a cup of vinegar and thus spray the furniture, and then wipe with a cloth. Although this is suitable for almost all surfaces, do not use it on old wood or marble that changes colour. For marble, use a little water with dishwashing liquid, and for old wood, olive and essential oils.

Vinegar is the most effective way to clean your bathroom

Leave cotton wool soaked in vinegar to stand on surfaces with limescale or spray the entire sink/tub with a 50:50 solution of water and vinegar. After half an hour, clean well. Another option is, for example, to sprinkle the tap with baking soda, sprinkle with vinegar, and clean. Shower handles are best cleaned if you soak them in vinegar for an hour.

Tiles

You can clean the ceramic tiles on which limescale has accumulated with a universal agent - vinegar, essential oil, water, and a small amount of Dawn dishwashing liquid.

Washing machine

Homemade recipe: baking soda and vinegar
If you think your laundry will smell stronger with more powder and fabric softener, you are wrong. The washing machine accumulates a sizeable amount of detergent, fabric softener, and dirt, so you must attempt to clean the machine from all impurities from time to time.

In order for your machine to be spotless and for your washed laundry to smell, use a very simple combination of home-made cleaning agents: baking soda and alcoholic vinegar.

And what is the procedure?

It is important to first clean the partitions into which you pour the laundry detergent and fabric softener because this is where most mould, fungi, and bacteria accumulate. Soak these partitions in baking soda and vinegar, then rub with a brush.

Then pour baking soda into the detergent dispenser, and pour the vinegar into the softener dispenser. Pour a little baking soda and vinegar into the drum of the machine.

Start the empty machine using the programme at the highest temperature (90 degrees). This way you will get rid of unpleasant odours and accumulated detergent with fabric softener, mould, and other impurities. Alcoholic vinegar is great for disinfection because it cleans the drum of the washing machine, the hose, and removes limescale.

If you want to get rid of fabric softener (for example, because of allergies), you can make a homemade fabric softener. You will need 950 ml of white alcohol vinegar, 900 g of baking soda, 1.9 l of distilled water, and 15 ml of lavender or eucalyptus essential oil. First, mix the vinegar and soda carefully, because it will foam, and then add water and oil. Four spoons of this softener are enough for one full machine, and it can stand in a closed container for up to four months.

Vinegar and Dawn perfectly clean your kitchen

Stove - for thorough cleaning of the stove top, sprinkle it with baking soda, sprinkle with vinegar and rub with a sponge.
Oven - if the oven is not very dirty, you will need a little Dawn dishwashing liquid and water. If extra cleaning needed, coat the inside of the oven with a mixture of baking soda and vinegar and leave it to act for a while, and then clean everything well. The grills from the stove need to soak for an hour in boiling water with vinegar and a little dish detergent. After that, the impurities will soften, and you will remove them more easily. And to keep the oven clean, wipe it with undiluted vinegar after each use.
Dishwasher - besides Dawn dish soap, you can use vinegar that corrodes limescale.

Refrigerator - mix water and vinegar in a ratio of 50:50, also add a few drops of lavender essential oil. Wipe all surfaces in the refrigerator with this solution.

Sink - limescale that accumulates in the sink can remove with heated vinegar, in which you must soak cotton wool and leave it to stand on the surface with limescale. For persistent deposits, this procedure should repeat, although in most cases this problem disappears after the first time.

Furniture fabrics - mix 1/4 cup of white vinegar, 3/4 cup of warm water, and 1/2 tablespoon of Dawn liquid soap in a spray bottle. Shake to combine the ingredients. Dampen the soiled surface. Then wipe in a circular motion with a soft cloth.

Leather furniture - pour 1/2 cup of vegetable oil and 1/4 cup of white vinegar into the spray bottle. Shake to combine the ingredients. Spray on the surface, clean with a soft cloth. Repeat as needed to remove dirt and prints from the furniture. After that, the surface will be clean and soft.

Homemade cleaner for leather furniture, synthetics and upholstery fabrics of only 3 ingredients

Vinegar and Dawn liquid soap are great tools for maintaining cleanliness and hygiene in your household.

Read what you should not clean with vinegar.

  • Pieces of granite and marble in the kitchen. Wash these parts of the kitchen with ordinary dishwashing liquid, because acid and vinegar can damage them.
  • Stone floor tiles. Just like the working parts in the kitchen, the stone floor can be damaged if you wash it with vinegar. Instead, wash floor a special washing powder for such surfaces or with a little dishwashing liquid dissolved in water.
  • Cleaning the iron. Do not clean the inside of the iron with vinegar. Clean the iron of limescale according to the manufacturer's recommendations.


We all want our homes to look beautiful, to be spaces we enjoy being in. After all, we spend a lot of time inside them! As much as we love our homes, they can sometimes begin to feel tired and outdated. By giving them a fresh makeover, we can bring them alive again. which can boost our mental (and even physical) wellbeing.

But if the glossy magazines and 'home makeover' programs are to be believed; this will be an expensive undertaking. And in truth, that is often the case. However, it does not have to be. There are ways of giving your home a fresh new feel, without breaking the bank. Best of all, anyone can achieve this. So, take a look at these ideas for DIY on a budget to make you fall in love with your home once again.

A change of scene

Starting with the basics, one of the easiest and cheapest ways to change a room is to rearrange it. Look at what furniture you have and try swapping them around. It might seem too simple, but do not knock it until you try! Move sofas to allow better flow through a room. Change the angles or set seating around a fireplace. Move furniture away from doors. It is a bit like feng shui - and if it makes you feel good, then it's working. It will change the feel of the room and does not cost anything. One idea that is 'in' now is mismatched furniture (look at upmarket bistros and suchlike). A mix of styles keeps it looking interesting and fun.

Consider adding some attractive storage, such as trunks or shelves. Keeping the clutter down vastly improves any space.

Use accessories

Never underestimate the power of accessories! By adding texture and color with fabrics you can lift the feel of a room in moments. You can buy reasonably priced cushions and throws that will instantly transform your sofas and armchairs. If you are feeling adventurous, you can turn old sweaters or blankets into interesting cushion covers. Houseplants count, too, and as well as adding color they help to improve air quality. Make it more interesting by planting them in old jugs or even teacups. Liven up tired vases by giving them a coat of spray paint - gold, for example, gives an opulent feel.


Replacing plain old light switches or door and cupboard handles with interesting alternatives can also make a lot of difference.

Artwork always adds a feel of sophistication and does not have to cost a lot. A reframed print or even a piece you have created yourself will instantly add color and fill up blank spaces.

You can find accessories for free, in nature! When you're out and about, pick up flowers, fallen branches, pinecones and suchlike - but do so responsibly.

Consider 'Pre-loved' items

Do not be afraid to use secondhand! You can get some real bargains out there, from classified ad listings, charity stores, re-use center’s or places like Reverse Garbage. They do not have to be perfect. In fact, their history adds to their appeal. With wooden furniture, you can always give them a lick of paint or sand them down to reveal the original wood grain depending on which wood type it is. Upcycling works well, too! It does not only have to be furniture; you can get ornaments, lamps, art, ceramics, glassware, clocks - you name it! Whatever you choose, you will have saved money, given the item a new home, and been more 'green' helping out the environment.

Creative use of paint

Nothing changes a room as much as a fresh coat of paint. But do not just slap on any old dull color and leave it at that. Mix it up a bit with two or three colors. If you have recesses or niches, stick some wallpaper (an odd roll in a DIY store 'bargain-bin' will do) in there or use a different color paint.

Instead of big blocks of color, add some texture and detail by using one of these techniques:

  • Rag Painting - as the name implies, you use a rag to create a pattern in the paint. You can do this by dabbing at the painted wall with a crumpled rag (or even a plastic bag), or by twisting the rag into a cylinder and rolling it down the wall. Using a different shade and/or a 'glaze' will produce a more interesting result.
  • Sponging - like rag painting, this method uses two paints. Apply the first color in a solid block, then use a sponge (with a glaze if preferred) to dab over the top.
  • Stencils - to keep costs down here you can make your own, from stiff cardboard. By repeating a pattern around the room, perhaps as a border, you can create the look of expensive wallpapers for a fraction of the cost.
  • Dragging - paint your wall, then add a glaze. With a long-bristled brush, make sweeping movements down or across the glaze to add texture. This often gives the appearance of silk!
  • Striping - Use tape to separate the wall into sections. Paint each one in contrasting colors or shades to give a bright, vibrant effect.

Paint does not have to be limited to walls! Floors can be enhanced by a coat of hardwearing paint, and some of the techniques above will add to the effect. And there are tricks you can use with paint to change the perception of size; painting a high ceiling a darker color will make it seem lower, as it appears to push the walls out. And the same works in reverse for low ceilings.

Kitchen counters can be given a new lease of life with special paints that look like granite. Even kitchen appliances can be improved with paints specially designed for them.

This is a general idea of what can be achieved, without costing you a small fortune. All it takes is a bit of imagination and effort, and your home will be a place to be proud of once again.




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