Clever home hacks

Whether you suffer with a cold and draughty house, or even a serious lack of storage, bloggers Sally Whittle and Laura Summers share their tips on how best to tackle your most common pesky home problems.

“I’ve just bought a small flat, which has very little storage space. What are your top tips on storage and tidying things away.”

Firstly, let’s talk about clearing things out. My advice would be to only keep what you really need. I recommend having a system – regularly go through everything you own and clear through the things that you no longer use.

As soon as you no longer wear certain clothes, pass them on to friends, take them to a charity shop or sell them on Ebay.

If you like holding on to things for the future, like dressing up clothes or furniture that would only fit properly in a bigger house, keep only the items in good condition.

Once you’ve cleared out what you don’t need, storage-wise, I find vacuum-packed bags great for storing clothes, as they take up less space.

Bulky items like wellies, walking shoes, umbrella, prams and sports equipment, if you can, keep it in the boot of your car. That said, only do it if you car is kept in a secure place. 

Cabin beds, where storage is underneath the bed, are great options for children and spare rooms. 

Tall shelves or chests of drawers (as opposed to wide ones) take up less floor space but still allow you to store lots of items.

Shelves over sofas and beds can, if filled nicely, act as artwork on the wall.

Why not order your books in colour order? Or simply arrange pretty crockery on them to save cupboard space for the less attractive things.

Shoes, which often take up floor space and a can be trip hazards, can be kept on racks or in boxes in cupboards or the wardrobe. 

For great storage-solving ideas, IKEA is a great place to visit.

You can read more by Laura Summers at

“I live in an old house and it's very draughty. Ahead of winter, I want to buy extra insulation and draught excluders – can you suggest the best products?”

I feel your pain! Period houses are perfect at Christmas (high ceilings and fireplaces really lend themselves to decorations) but old floorboards can be draughty, and original sash windows don’t always keep the heat in.

The first thing I do in winter is pull out the soft draught excluders to plug the gap between door and floorboards. On our kitchen doors, we use some clever excluders that slide under the door and stop draughts.

Heating an old house is expensive, so spending just a few pounds on heat enhancers that sit behind radiators and reflect heat back into the room is a no brainer! These can hugely reduce heating loss through walls and cut the cost of your heating.

You can reduce draughts from the floor by using caulk to plug gaps between boards and under skirting boards. Deck caulk is great for this, because it’s designed to expand and contract, and will last longer than decorator’s caulk. If your doors don’t reach the floor, consider also using brush draught excluders that you can nail to doors, and heavy curtains that can be pulled across exterior doors at night. Make sure curtains used on windows are lined too.

In terms of insulation, good cavity wall insulation and loft insulation are the obvious places to start, but draughts often come from the places you might not expect. In our house, it’s the chimney. After a cold winter, we invested in chimney hats and balloons to stop our fireplaces being draughty. These are devices that stop warm air escaping up an unused chimney, and prevent cold air finding its way down.

You can read more by Sally Whittle at

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