Decoration Ideas for the Festive Season

An appreciation of the hidden power of holiday habits.

Each Christmas is different, but each Christmas is the same. Every holiday, families haul out their boxes from storage and begin to decorate their homes for the festive season. Michael Buble streams from the speakers, the smell of hot cocoa fills the air, the soft flickering of festive candles warms households. 

These holiday habits happen every year. There’s comfort in these actions, there’s familiarity in the tradition, there’s connection in our collective joyous spirit. Once the trees are decorated, you’ve officially begun the rituals of Christmas – baking cookies, hanging stockings, painting new ornaments. Now the rest will fall into place. 

As most would agree, December is the most magical time of the year. Decorating for the holidays is a very personal and family oriented activity for most. Surrounding yourself with sentimental ornaments that have been passed down for generations as well as partaking in festive activities which have been a tradition for years is the norm during this period. We explore how to make your home feel festive whilst also being stylish.

Topsy Turvy Palette

Opting to fill your home with white ornaments is de rigueur at this time of the year. Whilst, it’s good to follow tradition, why not up the ante and opt for a darker palette? If done right darker hues can give a sense of nostalgia and warmth. Black trees have become more and more fashionable, opting for them can really make a statement in your home. However, if you’d rather play it safe, use gold tree ornaments and warm toned lighting whilst adding richer toned colours of dark greens and reds. 

Try on Some Tassel

To spread the cheer throughout your home, consider hanging on-theme tassels from your Christmas tree as well as adorning your doors, desk, or chest of drawers can be a finishing touch that is also budget-friendly. 

Add Some Sparkle 

It’s Christmas, so literally anything and everything can get away with having some extra sparkle. See ya later, singing Santas. Today’s Christmas decor is downright chic. Look for bright, shiny and glittery accents. 

Pretty Poinsettias

If you’re at a loss about how to add some Christmas cheer to your space, add a poinsettia or two! The use of Poinsettia as a Christmas decoration can be traced back to at least the sixteenth-century. The leaf pattern is similar to that of a star, making it ideal to incorporate the crimson plant into your Christmas celebration decorations. 

Make it merry

Holiday decor doesn’t have to break the bank. A great way to have a more budget and eco-friendly christmas is to use brown paper wrapping. Not only is it more cost effective it also looks tidier under the tree. You can make a lot of gorgeous pieces with craft supplies and a little elbow grease. This can also be a fun activity to do with your children. 

We suggest moderate the use of plastic and synthetic materials in order to avoid your home turning tacky as well as to keep your environmental burden to a minimum. An easy way to avoid this is to incorporate a mix of natural materials such as wooden or paper ornaments and decorations. 

Takeaway Tips

As mentioned previously, decorating your home for Christmas is a very personal tradition, one that can evoke nostalgia. However, it takes a certain kind of courage to break away from tradition and find new avenues to explore. 

If you are feeling stuck in your current home and have fantasies about decorating your dream home for the holiday season, speak to one us at GAP Homes to start the process of securing your dream home.

 8 Ways To Make Your Home Cosy this Winter

As cold weather draws near, it’s time to settle in and make your home a haven. Think plush accents, heavier fabrics, and seasonal patterns to add an extra layer of comfort and cosiness to living areas, bedrooms, kitchens, and more. Try the ideas we’ve listed below- from simple DIY changes to more expensive measures – to turn your home into a warm and welcoming space throughout the fall and winter.

Switch Up Your Soft Furnishings

Pile on the pillows! With the change of the seasons one simple and easy way to instantly make your home feel cosier is to switch up or add more soft furnishings such as pillows, blankets etc. to your home. Swap out pillow cases to a more wintery styled cover. Layer your bedding to include more winter tones with blankets, pillows and more.

Texture & Textiles

Texture is the surface quality of a material. Texture adds depth and helps add cosiness to a space. Mixing materials such as leather, ceramic and wood will help create appealing tactile experiences and sensations.

Hardwood and laminate flooring are great, but can get chilly under your feet in the cooler seasons, the same goes for tile. By placing layers between yourself and the floor, you will be guaranteed to feel instantly warmer. Rugs are a great way to do so and to make your home feel more cosy. Find a rug with inviting fabrics such as a chunky knit, velvet or faux fur.

The Power of Scent

Don’t underestimate the power of scent. If your home looks amazing but its smell isn’t up to par you’re doing a disservice to yourself as well as to your home.

Picking a seasonal scent will transform your space and ignite core memories associated with the scent you’ve picked. There are loads of different options to choose from other than the generic Yankee candle. One may opt for wax melts, incense sticks, DIY stovetop potpourri, or even fresh fragrant flowers or plants.

Double Up on Your Drapes

Swap out your sheer linen curtains and trade them out for velvet drapes or any heavy curtain with a thermal lining. Besides making a space look warm and cosy, they’ll insulate your home from cold air leaking in through the windows.

Saturate the palette

Don’t be afraid of colour! It might be tempting to stick to neutral colours when painting your home. Painting or using wallpaper provides dramatic results for little investment, the cost to do so in a room costs much less than that of other home upgrades and it’s an easy home improvement project. Create a focal point with a feature wall with a warm cosy colour or wallpaper design to draw the eye of yourself and guests, as an easy way of making your home feel more inviting.

Soft Lighting

Create a calm and inviting space by adding soft lighting to your home. This could be in the form of lamps, candles, fairy lights or LED strips. Adding a layer of lighting can help change the mood of the space and create a different feel to it.

Watch Sparks Fly

There’s nothing better than cosying up to a fireplace with hot cocoa and fuzzy socks. If your home doesn’t have a fireplace,  invest in a portable one for the same effect.

Winter Green

Create focal points around your home by using winter greenery to add some natural elements. One may also add greenery to the table centrepieces. This will bridge indoors with outdoors creating a seamless effect of your winter wonderland.

Takeaways

There are a number of ways to make your home feel cosy-er this winter, we just listed a few of them to get you started. If you need more assistance do not hesitate to contact us at GAP Homes.

8 Ideas To Decorate Your Home For Halloween

It’s hard to overdo Halloween, you could argue that the more decorations you have, the more protection from evil spirits, tricksters – on All Hallow’s eve.

Whether you’re into natural cornstalks and scarecrows, smiling goblins or ghoulish zombies, Halloween offers an opportunity to pull out all the decorating stops!

Some prefer to decorate for Christmas, others go all out for Halloween. If you sway on the spooky side these tips will help make your house extra fun and spooky!

Here are eight ways to decorate your home for halloween

1. Back to Basics

One of the most basic things you can do when decorating your home for Halloween is decorate your home with artificial spiders and cobwebs. Even if you don’t love the holiday it’s nice to make an effort and get on the bandwagon with adding these simple touches to your home.

2. Harrowing Haunted House

The door and windows are the eyes and mouth of your home’s Halloween soul, so you should make the most of them. Therefore, you should make the most of this and adorn them with decorations. Adding just a few ghoulish touches to your front door and windows will make your house look haunted. For example, propping up scraps of wood across the windows to create a boarded up effect or applying broken glass stickers to windows.

3. Light Up Your Home

Your lights will help set the eerie ambiance for your home, so you should make the most of the lights you have while keeping the house looking fairly dim, so that something spooky could pop up at any time. If it’s too bright in your home, you won’t have enough room for mystery. One example of having the perfect Halloween lights is adding flickering electric candles in the windows.

4. Create a Harvest Haven

Halloween would not be the same without pumpkins, so you should use your pumpkin decorations to your advantage. You don’t have to overdo it with the pumpkins, but thinking of clever ways to introduce more pumpkins into your decor will make your home boo-tiful.

5. Guts & Gore

Add a few specimen jars around your home. Take some big glass jars, fill them with water, and throw in a drop of green dye until water is a nice, gross green hue. Put the jars on display in your kitchen under some lights or in another part of your home where they can be prominently displayed.

6. Transform Your Terrace into a Graveyard

If you’re into the creepy-crawliest holiday of the year, then odds are you’re probably already putting together the outside Halloween decorations for your annual display.

7. Bake Something Spooky

Kick up the fear factor of your Halloween party dessert spread with mummy pops, Dracula dentures, bat truffles, and more. Whether you’re into spooky, silly, or a delicious mix of both, there’s a scare level—and dessert preference—for everyone.

8. Don’t be Afraid to DIY

Golojuch likes to make his own decorations with building supplies like foam and erosion cloth. But if you’re not ready to bring out the power tools, there are some easy things you can do to enhance your display, such as adding clothing or touches of paint to make a plastic skeleton look more authentic.

Takeaways

If we haven’t scared you off yet and you’ve managed to make to the end of this article, we’d like to let you know that we not only can provide way on how to decorate your home but our experts can also guide you on finding your next home. Take a look at our current developments here and if you’d like to contact us feel free to do so.

What Are The Hidden Costs Of Buying A Home

It’s widely known that purchasing a home is an investment. Possibly the biggest investment you’ll make in your life. Although, it’s no secret that buying your first home is expensive. However, what may be a secret to some is that the price of your home is not the only associated cost to think about when purchasing a property. Read on to uncover what other hidden costs you may not have thought about or considered as a first time buyer.  

Deposit

As a first time buyer, the usual cost of the deposit is at least 10% of the price of your property and you will be expected to pay this at the signing of the preliminary agreement. If you are a Maltese or EU national and are planning on financing the purchasing of your home via bank loan, the bank will most likely cover 90% leaving you to fork out the remaining 10%. If this isn’t your first rodeo and you’ve already purchased a property beforehand then you’d be expected to cover 25% if you’ve already secured a loan. 

Notary/Architect fees

The exact amount may vary depending who you’ve chosen to work with and the work required. You will be expected to pay these fees at the signing of the final deed/contract. The work of an architect usually involves carrying out site inspections, tracking down and checking permits and plans to ensure they match the approved plans of the permit.

Whilst hiring a Notary Public is an essential part of purchasing a property in Malta. Notaries have a range of responsibilities including answering questions such as who owns the land or related legal proceedings and carrying out searches on the property. They are also responsible for forwarding your stamp duty payment and register the sale with the Public Registry. 

Stamp duty

If you are a first time buyer you are expected to pay 5% of the total property value above EUR200,000 as stamp duty. You will be expected to pay these fees in this way; 1% at the signing of the promise of sale and the remaining 4% at the signing of the final sale deed. However, if the property costs below 200k then you are not expected to pay stamp duty. However, this scheme is going to expire come December 2022.

Bank fees

In relation to bank interest fees this is dependent on the chosen bank and the fees are settled prior to the final contract of sale. Factors relating to the interest rates charged include the type of bank you choose to finance your loan, your age, lifestyle, property value and an array of other variables which will have an impact on how you are expected to pay. In addition to this there are also bank booking and administration fees to factor in as well as their charges to process legal fees.

Condominium fees

Another often overlooked aspect when it comes to purchasing a home, more specifically an apartment, is condominium fees. Condominium fees are those related to the upkeep of your apartment building’s common areas. These fees vary depending on the chosen apartment building and whether or not they hire a professional contractor to oversee the cleaning, maintenance etc of the building. 

Although this can seem as if it’s an extra expense, nothing beats coming into a clean and tidy apartment complex. Another positive aspect is that if something needs mending such as a bulb it would be handled swiftly by the contractor. This would take the chore off your mental to-do list and would put your mind at ease that it will be handled accordingly.

Takeaways

We at GAP can simplify the process and offer expert guidance throughout every stage of the home purchase process. Take a look at our current developments on offer.

5 Ways To Get Your Home Ready for Autumn

As summer’s end is fast approaching, even though we don’t want it to, it’s best to be prepared for the upcoming season. After weeks of sunshine and throwing open the windows every morning it’s suddenly time to bring in the garden cushions and batten down the hatches.

A little preparation now can help to prevent extreme weather causing damage to your property, and may even result in your house being even cosier as the mercury starts to fall. We at GAP Homes have put together a list of five things to get in order before the season starts. 

Our 5 simple steps will help get your home in the best shape possible. 

1. Get Your Geezer Checked

The last thing you’d want when the cold weather arrives is for your geezer to stop working, leaving you without warm water. Whether it’s a full service or an inspection by a hired professional, it’s imperative that you get your geezer checked ahead of winter to stop any potential problems in their tracks.

2. Complete Pending Jobs Whilst the Sun is Shining 

This autumn will be harder than any other due to the cost of living crisis. Getting your home ready for winter could save you money in the long run. Harsh weather conditions in autumn and winter can cause small niggles to become bigger issues, so think about repairing damaged, broken or cracked items before the season starts.

3. Prepare Your Terrace

As sitting outside becomes less appealing, it can become easy to forget about your terrace and/or garden. Now’s the time to buy those waterproof covers that you’ve been putting off for the whole of the summer. Alternatively, it’s time to store away your furniture in order to protect it from the harsh winter season so it’s in good condition for the following summer. 

It’s also important to take stock of your plants and see if they need tending to, such as bushes that have overgrown over the summer and need to be trimmed. Whilst you’re outside, look for other potential issues which you may have overlooked.

4. Insulate Your Home

Look for holes or cracks in walls and around doors and windows, where the wind or water could come in during the winter. To find gaps around your windows and doors, first close them and then slowly move a lit stick of incense or a candle around the edges. If the smoke or flame flutters, you’ve got a gap and need to seal it. There’s nothing worse than a draughty home and dealing with them now will help save money in the long term and make you more comfortable in your home. 

5. Refresh Your Home

Deep clean, declutter and streamline your main living spaces. Accent your home with autumnal decor by adding cushions, throws and even maybe a new bedspread. Swap out your summer scents for cosier autumnal odours.

In a nutshell

Whilst there may seem like a lot that you need to do in the run up to autumn, in truth many of these tasks only take a few minutes to complete and some are even a nice way to enjoy the last of the summer weather outdoors. Autumn may seem like a long way off, however, in reality, it’s only just around the corner. Therefore, by staying on top of things and preparing your home and terrace for the season you can save money and make your life much easier.

From Renter to Home-Owner: Learnings From The Experience

Renting homes is definitely easier than owning them, but it won’t make you richer!

Let’s put the age old theory to bed that if you’re a renter you are essentially paying off someone else’s mortgage loan. We boil down the rent vs. own debate down to either you’re paying someone else’s mortgage or you’re not. If only personal finance was that easy. Except it isn’t that easy. Dealing with money never is. 

People make the choice to rent for a whole host of reasons. Same for people who choose to purchase a property. We note down some pointers when it comes to making the switch from renting to owning.

You Need Surplus Money At Hand

Even though you’ve made all of your calculations, you’ve checked and double checked, it might be a good idea to keep some money spare, as it might come into immediate use. Unforeseen or hidden costs can come out of nowhere.

Buying a Home Adds A Lot to the Headache!

Once you become a homeowner you lose the freedom of calling your landlord the moment an issue arises. If your sink is leaking it’s now your problem, you have to solve it. 

You have to hire a plumber, get him to fix it and pay him. All the problems that you never had to think about or deal with are your headache now. It makes you liable for every single thing that’s in your home. On the plus side this gives you more control as it allows you to deal with the workers directly rather than having to rely on your landlord to follow up with them. 

Owning a Home Makes You Rich

As a tenant you pay an amount as rent per month which you’ll never get back. As a homeowner you are still paying an amount per month but in EMI, however, you can always get this back if you choose to sell your home. Additionally, you also get the appreciated value that it has accumulated over the years.  

For example, you bought a house in 2021 for 300k and want to sell it in 2025. The value of the home in five years may increase easily by 30%, which means the net worth is 390k. Also, in those five years you’ve paid 60k as EMI (if 1k a month). Therefore, you gain 150k from selling your home. 

Hence, owning a home for five years will increase your savings by 150k whilst renting a house for that duration will fetch you nothing. 

Owning a Home Will Give You Freedom

As a tenant you aren’t allowed to change the colour of your walls, drill holes to hang artwork, you can’t have pets and many more things that your landlord put restrictions on. On a positive note, owning a home allows you to do all the above; paint, drill and own a pet. 

As with most big money decisions, the confluence of life factors dictate the choices you make. You’re spending money for the lifestyle you want and love. It comes down to having a vision for your life and making choices that best support bringing that vision to life and keeping it there. 

In a nutshell

As read above there are a number of pros and cons to becoming a homeowner however when it boils down to it there’s nothing more fulfilling than owning your own property. With that comes a new found responsibility which is always a challenge and a lesson. 

If you’re interested in buying your first home, do not hesitate to check out our current developments