By Roelf Nel

Fireplace Ideas

With June fast approaching it is time to bring out the winter woollies, warm blankets and firewood.  Eskom’s increasing costs of electricity, the fireplace not only reduces the utility bill, but it creates an ambiance of charm giving character to the room. The best part of winter is being snug by the fireplace sipping on your favourite red wine, and engaging in interesting conversation….

Should you have a Closed or Open Fireplaces?

The traditional open fireplace typically loses 90% of its heat through the chimney while a cast iron closed system fireplace is over 80% efficient in retaining its warmth.

The advantages of the closed system fireplace include:

  • The smell of smoke will not be in your home.
  • Most slow burners use very little wood and can keep burning on one or two pieces of wood per hour. You will save on wood purchase costs.
  • Most units only have to be cleaned once a week if used every day.
  • With your controls set correctly and after placing a number of logs into the unit late in the evening the stove will continue to give heat for up to 8 hours which means you will wake up to a warm home.
  • The cast iron fireplace offers a timeless look which will fit with both modern and classic interior designs.

The Ethanol Fireplace

  • The Ethanol Fireplace is not a primary source of heat. The traditional stove is sufficient to warm up your house, while the ethanol fireplace generates a low amount of heat.
  • The Ethanol Fireplace consumes air. You will need to air the room by opening up the windows.
  • You will not need a chimney for the Ethanol fireplace or any huge installations. They come in mobile versions, which is great if you want to move your fireplace around, or take it onto the patio.
  • The Ethanol fireplace does not emit any dangerous fumes when burning.
  • This easy to use fireplace option does not leave ash or soot behind. There is no need for finding wood to burn. You simply ignite the ethanol poured into the burner.

Whatever type of fireplace you may opt for, light the fire, grab your favourite drink and a book and nestle in for the night!  Get inspired with more ideas found on our Pinterest Board.


By Roelf Nel

Elements of a sunroom

The winter season is slowly creeping in with a few days that are cooler than the typical warm autumn days we enjoy. Sitting in the sun, but sheltered from the cold is appealing.  Having a sunroom to relax in is the perfect way to end a hard working week and enjoying your home.

Elements of a perfect sunroom

  • Ideally you want a space that allows four or more hours of sunlight to stream in.
  • The amount of light streaming into the room impacts on the room-temperature and the illumination. For warm summer days blinds or louvered shutters can be used to diffuse the light. On cold gloomy days, these shutters can prevent the heat from escaping. Another option is using bamboo blinds.
  • The temperature will change more rapidly in your sunroom than any other part of your home due to the larger windows areas. To compensate this, choose a tile, brick or stone floor. These paving materials serve as a heat-sink storing warmth from the sun to be slowly released after the sun has gone.
  • Installing a ceiling fan will help circulate the air on hot days and keep the space from overheating.
  • Sunrooms with a solid roof will minimize the amount of direct sunlight reaching the interior of the room. This is especially important to keep the room comfortable in summer.
  • Furnish your sunroom with sunbeds along the windows to have a place to laze around on cold winter weekends.
  • Blur the lines between indoors and outdoors by choosing natural wood tones and natural fibres when decorating your sunroom. Plants of all sizes add to the indoor outdoor feel.
  • The size of your sunroom will be determined by your purpose. If you want an office or a nook where your pets sleep, then this room can be small.  When looking for a space to entertain, then make this room bigger.
  • A common roofing option is the single slope roof. This is the most versatile option because it complements a wide range of architectural styles.


Will your sunroom be a reading nook or are you looking for a space to entertain your family and friends, but be shielded from the weather elements? Visit our Pinterest board and get inspired by the sunroom ideas we came across.

By Roelf Nel

Driveway Gates – the entrance to your castle

First impressions are important, and when it comes to the entrance of your castle, you want it to be unique. Your visitors will remember the house with the magnificent gate that served as a welcome but a deterrent to intruders. Wrought iron driveway gates can give your home that wow factor.

Driveway gates and fences will enhance the beauty, privacy and security of your home. A driveway gate extends your home security to the boundaries of your property, and in a time where people are increasingly worried about their security adding an iron gate at the driveway entrance has become popular. Having a secure fence and gate can be a great comfort, particularly if your house lies in an area of heavy traffic. In addition to the security benefits, adding a gate also contains animals, clearly marks property lines and makes a huge aesthetic improvement to your home.

When you choose an iron driveway gate for your home you can be confident in the knowledge that they are known for their strength and endurance. This makes them less likely to break or bend. With today’s power coating options, wrought iron gates can become just as rust resistant as aluminum. Iron gates can be matched with existing fences, pedestrian gates and access control systems.

It can be very frustrating to finish a long commute only to have to get out of the car, open a gate, drive through it, get out of the car again and close the gate. With this in mind another trendy feature for your iron driveway gates is to install an automatic gate opener. Electric gates provide indispensable convenience, allowing a gate to be opened without ever having to leave your car and therefore eliminating all those cumbersome steps.

When purchasing electric gates you need to consider a few options. The most obvious is deciding whether you want your driveway gate to open by sliding or swinging outwards. Swing gates are more aesthetically pleasing but you must take into account the opening radius depending on the length of the gate. Sliding gates will eliminate this issue as they retract rather than swing out.

You will also need to consider how much power is required to open and close your driveway gate. The amount of power is dependent on the size of your gate, how it opens and how many times it will need to be opened each day.

Finally, how will your gate be accessed, and by how many users? Electric gates are operated by a controller which sends a signal to the opening mechanism.

There are several options for your controller:

  • Wireless
  • Wired keypads
  • Keypads with intercoms
  • Key card operated controllers
  • Controllers operated by remotes or telephones

Each of these features will affect the price and your final decision should be based on your budget and personal preference. Once you have taken all these points into consideration you can narrow down your options and choose the best Driveway Gates for your specific needs.

For some inspiration, visit our Pinterest Board.


By Roelf Nel

Pathway designs ideas

Pathways have many different functions. Your pathway can create a whimsical feel drawing attention to a secret garden or it can create a grand entrance to your home. Enhance the mood and atmosphere of your garden by connecting your entertainment areas with a stylish pathway.

A well-designed walkway will have an impact on the overall look and feel of your property. If the purpose of your pathway is to direct traffic, you may want a path that is wide enough for accommodate two people walking side by side. For a path leading up to your door, make it generously wide.

Your pathways should complement your house and landscape design. Having a gently curved path is more pleasing to the eye than just a straight line with sharp curves.

When choosing the material, consider the purpose of your pathway. A whimsical pathway using loose gravel is ideal for a path in your garden, but not for your entrance way. Apart from being difficult to rake, the loose stones can cause damage to your entrance hall.

Brick pathways offer a huge variety of sizes, shapes and colours you can select. These pathways are durable and versatile. They are weather and slip resistant, which is an important factor to consider in designing your pathway. The drawback is the growth of weeds.

Natural stone creates a beautiful natural look and feel. You may be limited in your choice of shape and colour. If you are wanting to create a feel that your pathway is part of the landscape, natural stone is the right choice. Apart from being a more expensive option, weeds can grow between the stones and over time create an uneven surface.

A more flexible option is stamped concrete giving the look of natural stone, and does not leave room for weeds to grow between stones. You can create very natural looking or more formal looking designs by simply using different patterns.

Flagstone has a natural look and is a good option to choose for a walkway because of its non-slip surface. To avoid slips and accidents it is important the flagstones are evenly installed.

When it comes to building a pathway, you can do it yourself and throw a few slabs down and reward yourself with a tall cold one for a job well done. Or you can create a masterpiece that will last for years to come. Involving a landscaper would be a suitable solution to prevent land shifts destroying your pathway to tranquillity.

Get inspired by our Pinterest Board, we have found some great samples of pathways that will get your creative juices flowing.

Fireplace Ideas
Elements of a sunroom
Driveway Gates – the entrance to your castle
Pathway designs ideas