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Shelley

Shelley

Wednesday, 28 October 2015 01:23

Cantaport

Cantaport delivers a new and unique generation of carports, patio solutions, awnings and shading systems produced using state-of-the-art technology. Certified to the highest Australian standards, Cantaport offers an affordable alternative for carports, patios and shading systems.

Cantaport is unbeaten when it comes to providing stylish, resilient, compact, weatherproof and enduring solutions. Cantaport DIY models available pre-cut and pre-drilled.

 

Wednesday, 28 October 2015 01:20

Beer Kool

TRANSFORM YOUR SUMMER

All fridges feature:

  • 0 to 10 C range
  • Strong adjustable shelving
  • Digital temperature, control & read out
  • Fan-forced cooling
  • Double glazed self-closing lockable doors
  • Internal Blue LED Lighting

 

One, two and three door models available in a range of finishes including black and stainless steel

 

Wednesday, 28 October 2015 01:16

Barbaco WA

Braais are your connection to a better barbecue and tastier dinners, it is an all occasion cooking and entertaining experience. Real fire inspired BBQ’s are making people re-think what’s for dinner all across Australia.

Braais are totally unique as they also serve as a natural fireplace, creating an ambience no other BBQ or cooktop can offer you. Why not create a perfect mood for family and guests.

Built in or Freestanding Braais give you all the freedom in one fire solution. The hearth of the fireplace and fire grilling experience is wherever you decide to place it. These units are perfect to spruce up your alfresco or turn your backyard into a foodie destination.

 

Wednesday, 28 October 2015 01:13

Awnings WA

With its unique appearance, the markilux planet is an ideal design feature for your favourite spot in the garden, for a hotel, pub or restaurant.

The highly innovative markilux planet system enthrals the customer in two different version: fixed, as the “markilux planet fix” and optionally as the “markilux planet flex”. In the same way a planet rotates on its axis through the day, so the planet rotates by up to 335o to follow the course of the sun through the sky. The Easy Go lever mechanism ensures effortless rotational adjustment.

 

Tuesday, 20 October 2015 01:18

Private Paradise

Your outdoor area is the perfect place to relax, but it can be hard to do so if you’re being watched by nosy neighbours. Here, Alexandra Brocklehurst explores the different landscaping options available to help you create a private retreat in your own back garden.

As larger houses continue to occupy smaller lots, private outdoor living areas are at a premium, especially if your neighbours have a second-storey or deck overlooking your outdoor space. Whether you’re playing with your kids, entertaining guests or simply sunbathing during warmer months, creating an oasis away from prying eyes is important.

For David Jesse, managing director of The Landscaping Company, landscaping your outdoor area for privacy is all about finding balance “between aesthetics and [the] practical function of the garden required by the clients’ family, pets and lifestyle.”

With more than 40 years of experience in the landscaping and design industry, Jesse offers a variety of ways clients can landscape their garden to suit their aesthetic sensibilities and lifestyle needs.

OPTIONS ABOUND

From perimeter plantings to hardscaping, including fences, walls, fountains, and timber and metal screens, there is an abundance of options available in both softscape and hardscape designs to suit your outdoor area.

For Jesse, when planning your landscaping, “some considerations are available space, size of plants, natural plant dimensions, time required and ability to prune the plants to size, and the ongoing maintenance.”

While you want your outdoor area to look good and impress guests, Jesse emphasises that “the garden should also be durable and an appreciated asset to the family as the garden matures.” This means choosing plants that aren’t high-maintenance and opting for hard structures that will be durable through rain and shine.

PLANTING FOR PRIVACY

If you’d prefer to use horticulture over hardscaping to screen your outdoor area, property-line plantings are a perfect year-round screening option and typically don’t have the same height restrictions that a solid fence or wall might. To get great coverage quickly, opt for a fast-growing columnar evergreen such as Italian cypress or arborvitae, or even a sheared privet hedge for a more traditional look that is perfect for separating adjoining yards. If you’re looking for height when planting, junipers are both tall and fast-growing, and provide a lush feel to your outdoor area. Alternatively, you could choose bamboo, which is also fast-growing and ideal for a modern or tropical garden.

LAYER UP

In larger yards, there is more opportunity to plant a mix of deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs alongside other hardscaping features. This layered effect creates a natural look, especially if plants are grouped with their heights staggered – for example, taller evergreens planted in the background while shorter shrubs and flowering plants are used in the foreground. This strategy will not only keep your garden protected from outside viewing, but will also provide the area with texture, depth and a mixed colour palette to make it feel fresh and welcoming.

Deciduous shade trees are also a great option to obscure your neighbours’ view of your garden, while providing shade through the summer. In winter, the tree’s bare branches will allow the sun to stream into your home to create a warm, light-filled space.

When using a mixture of plants to layer your horticultural design, keep in mind that you will  still want a space that is easily maintained and won’t make your garden feel small or overcrowded.

FIND A FOCUS

When it comes to the overall design of your outdoor space, Jesse explains, “focal points are the elements that tie the landscape together and direct the flow of the garden.” No matter the size or shape of the area, “correct positioning can help [to create] a visual barrier, but [can] also take the visual focus of the surrounding properties out of the equation.”

This means, whether your neighbours’ home has a brightly-coloured façade or a large secondstorey deck, you can still draw the eye to your own yard with a few simple design strategies. For example, a timber screen offers a rustic aesthetic to complement your home’s design, while a metal screen in silver or brass will create a modern, industrial look. Canopies and gazebos will also provide privacy and shading to your back garden, and can be easily moved or packed away in cooler months when they’re not required.

If you’re worried about creating a space that is so private you start to feel a little claustrophobic, Jesse reassures, “clever planning of the built structure, i.e. timber screens, shade structure and plant climbing frames,” will ensure you don’t block out the sunlight or make the space feel overly small.

POOLS AND PLAYGROUNDS

If you have a newly-installed pool or playground area that requires a visual buffer, a simple fence will provide year-round screening while not taking up as much space as plants would.

While a board fence might seem a little boring, the various styles and stains available can complement the architecture of your home, making it aesthetically-pleasing rather than an eye-sore.

Are you working with a larger garden? If you have the space, flowering plants or evergreen shrubs placed in front of the pool’s fence will help soften the solid look and feel. For a stone wall, break up the solidity by keeping it at a lower height, and mounting a lattice or picket-fence on top – it will also act as a climbing frame for vines to thrive.

SOUND INVESTMENT

While you might not be able to see your neighbours, you could still be close enough to hear their conversations, or be disturbed by the sound of a buzzing air-conditioning unit. Incorporating a fountain to your outdoor area may help mask any unwanted sounds and create a major focal point within your back garden. Keep in mind that flowing water sounds louder the further it falls, so a large fountain might become just as loud and disruptive as the noise you’re trying to hide! In a small space, install a smaller structure to allow for outside conversation with friends and family.

A BALANCING ACT

With so many options to consider when designing for privacy, Jesse encourages homeowners to find balance within their outdoor space.

“The balance of textures, colours and spaces are critical to a successful landscape,” he says. If your budget will allow, mixing soft and hard landscaping features will create an outdoor oasis to enjoy year-round. No matter the size of your wallet or back garden, Jesse emphasises that “the planning of the garden – from the ground works and hard structure to planting and maintenance – is the most important.”

 

Tuesday, 20 October 2015 01:15

Pool Party

When it comes to toys and accessories, the pool is no longer just a kids’ domain – it’s time for adults to take the plunge and reclaim the waters! Hannah Pronesti introduces the latest pool gizmos and gadgets to keep the grown-ups satisfied.

There are certain things in life that have the power to bring out the child in all of us, and a pool is one of them. Most Australians have fond memories of summer days spent swimming with friends, which has created a lasting association between pools and simple, more carefree times. Many a mature adult turns into a belly-whacking big kid at the first sight of water on a hot day.

For those with children, it’s likely that your pool is filled with all kinds of pool toys – among other things! With an endless range of fun accessories on the market, adults needn’t resort to pool noodles and rubber ducks to enjoy a day in the sun.

Here, we discuss the varying pool accessories and toys that will be sure to make a splash in the pool year-round.

INFLATABLES

Inflatables are one of the most common pool accessories, and over the years, different designs have gained popularity.

Everyone loves the feeling of floating the day away, so it’s likely that at least once in your life you’ve been aboard an inflatable pool lilo or boat. Inflatable toys are still at the top of the pool toy food-chain, but recently, a new breed of inflatables has invaded the water.

Giant inflatable swans have become in-vogue and in recent times, these larger-than-life birds have been regulars on the fashion circuit, appearing in many photoshoots and advertisements. The term ‘swanning about’ has never been more relevant.

If swans aren’t your thing, you can adopt a more flamboyant pool pet in the form of an inflatable flamingo. No matter which member of the avian family you choose, investing in one of these fashionable friends will leave you Instagram- ready in no time.

Summer only sticks around for three months a year, and if you own a pool, you’ll want to utilise it as much as possible. Don’t let chores and tasks keep you inside – instead, why not mix business with pleasure and set-up camp on an inflatable aqua couch?

These spacious floating couches are big enough to kick-back on, allowing swimmers to read a book, study or simply relax. With enough space for two or more people, you can lounge with your loved ones all day long.

ELECTRONICS

For safety reasons, electronics and water don’t mix, but there are a range of battery-operated, waterproof and water-safe electronic pool toys and accessories that can make your days relaxing by the pool more enjoyable and safe.

A chilled summer playlist is the perfect accompaniment to a day spent cooling-off in the pool, but an iPod dock sitting on the edge of the water spells trouble.

Luckily, the introduction of waterproof floating speaker pods allows swimmers to listen to their favourite tunes while floating in the pool. You’ll never have to get out of the water to change a song again!

Floating speakers are perfect for relaxed days swimming alone, as well as more lively pool parties and events. Guests will love the novelty of a floating sound system and these nifty little pods allow you to create a party atmosphere that rivals the very best of DJs.

If the idea of floating speakers doesn’t get your motor running, perhaps motorised bumper boats will. With a steering wheel and comfortable inflatable seat, these water vehicles are the pool toy equivalent of a jet-ski. Drivers can scoot through the water at four kilometres an hour and although they may not satisfy the speed demon within, you can crash into your friends without any casualties.

WATER SPORTS

For the competitive pool owner, there are plenty of sports-related toys and accessories that will get your blood pumping. Basketball hoops and volleyball nets will never go out of style; however, other sports are now dipping their proverbial toes in the water and venturing into the realm of poolside activities.

A floating golf green is one way to take your stroke to a whole new level. Complete with floating golf balls, a tee box and a premium golf flag and pin, you’ll be sure to improve your swing in no time. The best way to play is to have a friend in the pool collecting the balls that miss the mark – you may not be the best on the green, but at least you can be the best in the pool.

Golf isn’t the only sport to jump on the floating bandwagon. Table tennis is also available in floating form and you’ll soon discover the pool is the perfect place to play ping-pong. Never again will you need to go crawling under furniture to find stray balls, they’ll be floating atop the water, ready for your next serve.

If golf or table tennis isn’t your thing but you still want to stay fit and healthy, there are a number of fitness sets that can be for specific use in the pool. Foam weights and barbells are a good start, and for the more ambitious fitness fanatic, in-water exercise bikes are also available for purchase. When used in conjunction with a pool, this equipment is great for building tone and strength as the water itself provides a natural resistance.

FOOD AND DRINK

Treading water all day is hungry work, so it’s no wonder that swimming and snacking goes hand- in-hand. Humans are creatures of convenience and if there’s a way to make even the simplest task slightly easier, we will find it. This is more than likely how remote-controlled snack and drink floats came into existence.

If one drink isn’t enough, have no fear, a floating esky can save the day. There are varying designs of this ingenious invention to choose from. Some options allow swimmers to combine the esky and float so it can be purchased together, however, if you can’t part with your own beloved esky, a float that supports the weight of your esky can be purchased separately.

Times have certainly changed when it comes to playing in the pool, so next summer you can tell the kids to play with their own toys. With a pool full of high-tech accessories, the kids can keep their noodles, leaving the adults to make their own fun.

 

Tuesday, 20 October 2015 01:10

Let's Go Outside

If you have children, creating an outdoor space that is safe, fun and engaging is a must. From the classic swing set and sandpit to more contemporary alternatives, Lara Bailey explores the ways to create a child-friendly backyard without sacrificing on style.

Many of us fondly recall afternoons spent in the backyard during childhood running through the sprinkler, bouncing on the trampoline and digging in the mud. If your children – like many of the current generation – are more interested in playing on a computer than playing in the backyard, cultivating an atmosphere that will entice them into the great outdoors can be a challenge.

With some creative thought and careful planning, however, you can develop a range of fixed and non-permanent elements in your backyard that will appeal to your youngsters now and in the future.

GREAT CLASSIC HITS

Some things are synonymous with childhood fun in the backyard. Regardless of generational changes, most children will find it hard to tear themselves away from a trampoline, for example, or their very own cubby house.

A cubby or tree house (if you’re really committed!) is ideal, because it will offer your children privacy within the safety of your own property. Whether they use it for drawing, having a tea party, playing games or quiet contemplation, offering your kids a room of their own will ensure they’re keen to head outdoors at every opportunity.

Other traditional go-to options for kid-friendly backyards can promote movement and help keep children fit. With bundles of energy to expend and endless imagination to entertain, simple things can keep children on the go without feeling like a chore. A trampoline is an ideal way to encourage activity, and the spring-free models with retaining nets are far superior to the rusty ones of questionable safety many of us played on in the 1980s and 90s.

Young children in particular will also enjoy a sandpit – it will remind them of the beach and their favourite attraction from playschool or kinder. We also can’t forget the humble slide – you can purchase relatively affordable, safe slides that are compact enough not to absorb all of your space, but can keep your kids occupied for hours at a time.

“If you spend your weekends in the pool or cooking in your outdoor kitchen, your kids will naturally be inclined to head outside, so you might as well capitalise on this and get creative.”

A swing set or tyre swing will be as enjoyable for today’s children as for generations past. Swings are always a huge hit in the playground, and having one they can access whenever they want will keep even the fussiest children happy. A tyre swing can be hung from a strong tree branch, and can be easily removed when your children grow older and the novelty wears off.

Older children will appreciate things like a basketball hoop. For kids entering a stage where sport is a priority, the chance to play at home will be greatly appreciated. Compact and simple to install, a basketball ring is an affordable way to encourage exercise and time in the backyard.

SIGN OF THE TIMES

The trend towards regarding the backyard as an extension of the house can be as beneficial for children as it is for adults. If you spend your weekends in the pool or cooking in your outdoor kitchen, your kids will naturally be inclined to head outside, so you might as well capitalise on this and get creative.

If you have a pool and/or spa, chances are your kids are in the backyard right now. Pool safety is paramount – your fencing must be up to scratch at all times and the kids should never be able to use the pool unsupervised – but as long as the area is safe for children, hours spent splashing and swimming can form some of their greatest childhood memories. Any moveable items, such as chairs, near the pool should be heavy enough that children cannot lift them and use them to climb over the pool fence.

Pool toys like noodles and inflatables will provide entertainment, are affordable and can be retired once your kids get older. Store them in an outdoor toy box to make the backyard feel like an extension of your child’s bedroom or playroom.

If you have an alfresco area and/or outdoor kitchen, your children will be inclined to use them. Children will love having a place to gather to enjoy barbecues and will most likely invite their friends over to join in the fun. Again, safety is paramount, so ensure any utensils or cooking equipment is kept well away from little ones.

To make a space that is versatile enough to be used by young and teenaged children, unite elements that will appeal to different age groups. This way, your space won’t become stale or disused once your kids get a little older.

Having adequate and appealing seating is an important consideration – kinder-aged kids might not mind sitting on the grass, but good luck getting your teenage daughter to use the backyard if this is the only option!

Seating can be appropriate for children without appearing childish. Hanging chairs are a novelty for all ages, so incorporating one for every member of the family is a good idea. Similarly, having a hammock strung between trees in the backyard will be as appealing to your kids as it is to you.

“Unite elements that will appeal to different age groups. This way, your space won’t become stale or disused once your kids get a little older.”

Purchasing items like furniture upholstery, outdoor cushions and Acapulco chairs in bright colours will catch the eye of youngsters, but not look out of place – if you’re going crazy with bold and bright colours, the outdoor space is the place to do it.

Another feature you can include is a small bridge between parts of your yard. Even if it’s purely for show, it can be an attractive focal point and make your children feel like they are adventuring around their own home. It’s a simple way to promote the use of their imaginations in the outdoors.

ALL GROWN UP

As enthused as you may be about creating a nurturing, safe and enticing outdoor space for your children, they will eventually grow out of the things that once kept them enthralled for hours. To ensure your outdoor space ages well enough to negate the need to start all over again, it pays to incorporate flexible or semi-permanent elements into the design.

First of all, kid-friendly backyards must have plenty of grassed space. Your children need room to run around, play games and kick a football. To use this grassed space in an unobtrusive, semi- permanent way, you could consider making a mini-golf course in your backyard. If your children are very young, they don’t need a big space, and trying to improve their score (and that of their siblings) can provide endless hours of fun. Then, after your children have outgrown the course, you can simply reintegrate the dedicated patch of grass back into the lawn.

To engage your children in something educational and healthy, and give them a sense of pride and responsibility, look at creating a vegetable garden. You can help the children set up the garden, and they will no doubt enjoy the opportunity to help choose which vegetables to grow and tend to the garden regularly. A benefit of a vegetable garden is that your kids can literally reap what they sow; eventually serving up the vegetables at the dinner table.

By allowing them to assist in the choice of vegetables, maintain the patch and eventually harvest their work, your kids can feel like they’ve created something important – plus anything that gets them to eat their veggies is always good!

FUN FOR NOW

There are some novel, inexpensive DIY projects you can find online that can be executed fairly easily, even if you’re not the creative type. Things like outdoor Twister – where you spray paint through round moulds directly onto the grass – can be a source of amusement through the school holidays, and can simply wash away or be mowed out at a later date.

If you have a fairly isolated property or know the people next door are at work during the day (a little neighbourly consideration goes a long way), you can create a ‘music fence’ for your littlies.

Dig into the kitchen cabinets and pull out some no-longer used items. By attaching old pots and pans to a wooden board, hanging it over the fence and giving your children some old spatulas or wooden spoons to use, your kids can make ‘music’ and let out their energy at the same time. It might make quite the racket, but it will keep them busy and is also a great way for you to keep track of where they are! Because a music fence won’t cost anything and will probably be a little worse for wear once the kids are done with it, you can either pass it on to someone else, or put it out to pasture.

A more subdued, quiet method for entertaining young children outside is to either purchase a blackboard or paint a surface with blackboard paint. By locating a blackboard outside, you won’t have to worry about chalk dust going all over the carpet. Again, this is an easily removed feature that you can retire when your kids move on to bigger things.

Other relatively simple DIY projects include making a slip ‘n slide (a bit of tarp and water and your kids are set for summer), and even see-saws and games of quoits. None of these are permanent fixtures, and can be passed on to younger relatives in the future.

Something you can incorporate into a kid- friendly backyard that is more permanent but still adaptable, is pavers. By applying them in an interesting pattern, it can create a feature as well as providing a place for your kids to play hopscotch or dream-up their own games by jumping paver to paver. If you use a stylish product, there’s no reason why it can’t just be used as a path after your children have dispensed with the imaginary fun.

Depending on the pattern of your pavers, your children could even use them to play chess. This won’t be relevant to very small children, but can be used as they enter their high school- aged years and have moved on from kinder and primary school fun.

A water feature, too, either as part of your pool or as a standalone piece, will provide amusement. Functioning as a source of joy for your children, a birdbath for the fauna and a centrepiece in its own right, a water feature will outlive its use long after the children stop making it an integral part of their outdoor games.

To cater for kids of all ages – and adults too – accommodating a projector outdoors is a fantastic idea. With plenty of comfortable seating and the perfect spot to take in a film on a warm afternoon, a projector in the backyard will appeal to the kinder-aged kids wanting to watch the latest Disney film, to your teenagers gathering with friends on weekends, and of course will be a big hit at your own dinner parties. It’s also a great way to bring your children together and spend some time as a family outdoors as well.

SEE HOW THEY GROW

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to create a backyard that is safe, functional and engaging for children. Striking the right balance will ensure your kids enjoy being outdoors, which is great for their wellbeing, imagination and fitness.

“Other relatively simple DIY projects include making a slip ‘n slide (a bit of tarp and water and your kids are set for summer), and even see- saws and games of quoits.”

Being outside means you can be a little lax with rules about tidiness, so it’s a great idea to encourage your littlies to leave the house in favour of the yard. Investing in features that will entertain your children as well as enhance your home is a clever approach, and by incorporating affordable semi-permanent features, many of which you can make yourself, you can encourage your kids to spend time outside at every stage of their childhood.

Enjoy creating and using the space you make with your children, and if all else fails, remember: running through the sprinkler on a hot day is as fun at 60 as it is at six.

 

Tuesday, 20 October 2015 01:08

Hot To Trot

You don’t need a time machine to experience an authentic wooden hot tub. Alex Radwill from Ukko Saunas and Hot Tubs has seen a rise in the demand for traditional hot tubs, and here he speaks to Grace Dobell about why going back to basics with wooden hot tubs is becoming more popular in Australia.

The origins of hot tubs date back to the ancient Romans and have since had a long and steamy history. From the first Japanese onsens that eventually went on to inspire modern-day hot tubs, to the cleansing Turkish hamams, people have been reaping the benefits of hydrotherapy for years.

“Hot tubs have been used all over Europe for centuries. They [first] spread around Europe, and now, we actually integrate the original hot tub into modern technology, [using] new equipment for heating and filtration,” Radwill says.

Modernised versions of hot tubs began to appear in the 1940s mainly in California, and were made out of used oak barrels, wine tanks and olive vats. The Jacuzzi brothers revolutionised hot tubs in 1956, creating a portable hydrotherapy pump version.

Nowadays, hot tubs come in all shapes and sizes, with wooden versions able to fit up to ten people.

HIGH-RISE LIVING

A far cry from the hot tub craze of the ‘70s, these days wooden hot tubs are being installed as a luxury item in high-rise apartments, where flat-packed designs can be easily transported and installed.

“It is a growing trend – for the last three years we’ve seen an increase in hot tubs,” Radwill says.

“In fact, high-rise properties in cities like Sydney are becoming smaller, and because of the delivery service, this is the only choice [clients] look at.”

The growing trend in people investing in hot tubs is due to their sustainable nature, longevity and attractive design.

“I believe it is a personal preference. Most people who try hot tubs, [especially] the timber ones, never want to go back to plastic,” Radwill explains.

ECO DESIGN

Timber hot tubs are ecologically-friendly, long- lasting and tend to fit better with the natural environment of the backyard. Using sustainable materials such as replanted Western Red Cedar from Canada further decreases the eco-footprint of a hot tub’s design.

“[Timber] is a natural product which lasts longer than any plastic on the market,” Radwill says.

“Now, a plastic lifespan is about 15 years ... spruce timber is about 20 years and cedar is up to 50 years.

“And the other benefit ... is it blends more with the natural environment ... with the cedar tub you have the smell and the aroma coming out [of the timber] as well,” Radwill describes.

REST & RELAXATION

The therapeutic benefits of hot tub use have been touted for years, such as their ability to soothe sore muscles and bones.

“Hot tubs and hot water aids the body, [and] helps [people] to relax,” Radwill says.

There is a long list of benefits associated with regular hot tub use, from helping to reduce chronic stress and relieving the symptoms of circulatory disorders, to alleviating muscle pains and improving sleep quality.

For many though, a hot tub is purely a pursuit of pleasure that is to be used for social gatherings. The opportunities for social events and hot tub parties abound with your own personal crowd-pleaser.

“People are different, some people use [hot tubs] for social means, for parties and things like that, but some prefer it for their own personal time, like for meditation. Realistically, it’s more of a personal preference,” Radwill explains.

“Everybody has their own [private] moments, but then they have friends over [for] social engagements ... once you have a tub you can do both. You can invite friends over ... [as well as] use it in your own time.”

TECHNO-TUBS

With new developments in hot tub technology such as in-built Wi-Fi stereo systems available at an additional cost, hot tubs are becoming more advanced.

“There is another development to Wi-Fi technology [used in hot tubs]. We have developed a high-definition stereo system that can be integrated into the tub [so] people can listen to music wirelessly via their mobile device,” Radwill says.

“There is a special membrane that attaches to the wall [containing the device], and that’s why even with water you still have high-definition quality audio.”

The opportunities for customisation are endless, with new technologies popping-up every year. Ukko Saunas and Hot Tubs recently introduced a feature that allows users to control and set the temperature of the water remotely.

“There has been a new development where people are able to control their tub from anywhere in the world. With a remote controller, [similar to] a mobile app, users are able to set up all the settings before they get home.

“For example, with a holiday house, visitors don’t want to spend an hour [waiting], so they switch on the heating and when they want to use it, it’s ready.

“It’s a brand new development and from now on it’s an optional feature [for installation],” Radwill says.

With everyday stressors being a major problem in our society, taking some time to soak in your own hot tub has multiple health and social benefits. So, for the ultimate in relaxation, jump into a hot tub and enjoy.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015 01:06

Some Like It Hot

A heater is essential for getting the most enjoyment out of your pool, and there are several options available to suit your particular design. Kate Milton finds out how to turn up the heat year-round.

Adding a heating system to your pool makes it more enjoyable to use, as it means you can use it throughout the year. Pool heating can also increase the resale value of your home, as well as lending itself to the enjoyment you get from spending hours swimming in your pool.

There are four main types of pool heaters: solar energy, gas, electric and heat pumps. Here, we look at each to help you decide on the best heating option for your specific needs.

SOLAR POWER

Solar power continues to grow in popularity as it has become cheaper to install, while also being the most environmentally-friendly of all the heating options. Solar power is also arguably the most cost-effective way to heat your pool, as solar energy is free.

A solar heater works by pumping water through a collector, where it is heated by direct transfer, then pumped back into the pool. To ensure it is powerful enough for your pool, your solar system should have enough panels to cover approximately 80 per cent of the pool’s size.

It’s important that your solar heater has a heat sensitive control, rather than one that is time- based, as this will ensure it only uses the system when the sun is out. Otherwise, water that runs through the system in cooler weather conditions will rapidly decrease the pool’s temperature, making it harder for owners to reheat the water, which costs time and money.

Solar heaters do take time to heat a pool, so they may not be ideal for spas that need to be heated quickly and to a higher temperature than pools. For this reason, it’s best to have a separate heater for the spa if you choose solar heating for your pool.

GAS HEATING

Gas pool heaters are possibly one of the most popular options available, and this is for several reasons.

Gas heating is one of the quickest ways to heat your pool, making it perfectly suited to pool owners who don’t swim every day and who need to heat the water on short notice. It’s also the best option for spa owners and those who want to use their pool year-round.

Gas heating can also be fairly inexpensive. With both natural gas and LPG (liquid petroleum gas) readily available in Australia, the cost of using gas is affordable – and of course, the lower the pool temperature, the less your costs will be.

It is important to remember that spas must adhere to a temperature limit of 42 degrees Celsius to ensure the pool doesn’t overheat. To combat this, all gas heaters have a thermostatic control that allows owners to set the water to a desired temperature. Some gas heating systems are simple and basic, while others are digital and detailed, so what you choose depends on your needs and the precision you want.

ELECTRIC HEATERS

Electric heaters use a heated element to warm water as it is pumped through the system and then back into the pool – similar to how a kettle works. Electric heaters do not heat pools asquickly as gas heaters, but are a good option for maintaining heat over a period of time.

Electric heaters are inexpensive to install and relatively small in size, so are best used for small pools and spas. This style of heater is usually more expensive than gas to run and may not be the most energy-efficient option on the market, but similar to gas heaters, electric heaters can be used throughout the entire year.

HEAT PUMPS

The second most environmentally-friendly option following solar heaters are heat pumps. This type of heating takes heat from the air then transfers this heat to the water running through the system.

While the heat required for warming water comes primarily from the atmosphere – for which there is no cost – the heater itself runs on electricity. Heat pumps are extremely energy-efficient, using minimal power for maximum output, so are consequently cost-effective to run. If you set your heater to run during off-peak supply times, you’ll reduce your running costs further.

While heat pumps rely on the atmosphere to create warmth, this makes it hard to utilise
year-round. Homeowners who choose heat pumps should check with their local supplier to ensure the location of the pool is suited to pump heating.

Excessive chlorine or salt in pool water can also be damaging to heat pumps, so you must ensure the pool’s chemical levels are precise before running water through the system.

TIPS FOR OPTIMAL HEATING

Depending on how you use your pool, the Swimming Pool and Spa Association (SPASA) recommends varying heating temperatures for particular activities. For example, for recreational use and exercise, your pool should be heated between 24–28 degrees

Celsius, 28–35 degrees Celsius for therapeutic purposes and 34–38 degrees Celsius for spas.

It’s always best to use a thermal cover to trap heat in your pool overnight and to reduce excessive use of your heater. A cover also prevents evaporation and heat escaping the water as the weather cools down. Simply investing in a pool or spa cover can reduce your heating costs by up to 50 per cent.

For best heating results, make sure that the cover fits the pool snugly by having it installed by a professional. If you are planning to use your pool regularly, an automatic roller will make pulling the cover on and taking it off much easier.

Where you live will affect your heating needs, as will the position of your pool. Building your pool in an area that is shaded and unexposed to wind will help maintain the water’s temperature.

Remember to keep your pool at a lower temperature in order to save energy and money. A cooler pool temperature also helps to reduce cleaning and chemical maintenance, as the cooler the water, the less algae that grows.

Finally, plan ahead: if you know you won’t be using your pool for a few days, turn the heater off. This will not only assist the environment, but the cost of your power bills, too.

Investing in a heater is a necessity, as you’ll be sure to get more enjoyment out of your pool while simultaneously adding value to your home. Assess how often you use your pool and what you use it for to help you choose the right option for you. In doing so, all that will be left to do is turn it on, jump in and enjoy the heat!

 

Tuesday, 20 October 2015 00:56

Hooked On A Feeling

Choosing a pool interior that looks good is a high priority, but what about one that feels good too? Kate Milton investigates different pool interior textures and how they affect your experience when swimming.

During a holiday when I was a kid, my family and I stayed at a hotel that had an amazing pool. It was large and luxurious with a beach-entry and enticing blue water. It was never busy, so I thought I’d hit the jackpot.

To my disappointment, I soon discovered that the rough interior of the pool – presumably selected to stop people from slipping – hurt my feet so badly that I could no longer swim in the water.

In hindsight, while the reason for the lack of swimmers in that particular pool is now apparent, it was a shame that this magnificent pool didn’t get the use it deserved, simply because of its interior.

It may not seem like an important factor in the design and construction phase, but a pool’s interior plays a crucial role in how much enjoyment you’ll get from swimming.

FINDING BALANCE

How your pool looks is a big decision, and choosing a finish that will create your desired aesthetic – such as colour and design – is vital. The durability of the finish also needs to be taken into account, and pool owners need to consider how it stands-up against pool chemicals, how often it needs to be replaced and how susceptible it is to sun damage.

An equally important element of a pool’s interior is its texture. If you are simply diving-in and swimming laps, it’s unlikely that you’ll have excessive contact with the pool’s interior.

However, if you plan to use your pool for relaxation, sports or splashing around with the family, your skin will come into contact with the pool’s surface quite often.

If you are unhappy with your choice of interior, changing it can be expensive or, in some circumstances, not possible. If this is the case, you may stop using your pool altogether, inevitably proving your investment to be a waste of money and space.

A pool’s interior texture is heavily reliant on personal preference, as some prefer a little bit of coarseness and grip, while other swimmers choose a smooth finish underfoot. Whatever the case, here we look at the texture of the most popular pool interior options to inform your choice.

CONCRETE

Concrete pools are among the most popular of pool styles, as they tend to be the most versatile. However, many people have memories of swimming in their concrete family pool and reaching the end of summer with sore feet.

There are many concrete finish options to tackle this issue, including plaster, polished aggregate, pebbles and tiles – concrete on its own is also an option.

Simply put, concrete pools can be rough, and over time, the surface may wear down and become progressively coarse. This may be why many people cover the concrete base with something more texturally pleasing.

PLASTER

Plaster is another coating option that has been available for a long time, but still remains popular with pool owners and builders. Often mixed with aggregates to change the cement’s properties, plaster is one of the smoother textural options available.

Plaster is much like traditional concrete, but its point of difference lies within its composition. This blend of cement and aggregates works to change the colour, durability, and hardness of the overall finish.

Aggregate options can include marble, quartz, glass beads and granite. They can also be exposed or polished, however, if you are after a silky-smooth feel underfoot, polished finishes may be the best choice for you.

PEBBLES

Pebble finishes have come a long way over the years, and are now flexible in design to provide the aesthetic you prefer. There is a range of different pebble sizes available, and the smaller they get, the smoother the texture they provide.

Larger-sized pebbles have a slightly rough feel to provide a slip-resistant surface for swimmers. This can be great for pools with steps or a beach entrance; pebbles are also ideal for families with children, or for those who tend to be accident-prone.

Pebbles come in a variety of colours and are extremely durable, making them a good choice in terms of aesthetics and maintenance.

TILES

Tiles are arguably the most classic choice of interior. Smooth by nature, tiles come in ceramic, porcelain, stone or glass options – out of these, glass tends to be the smoothest, while stone is slightly rough in texture.

If you are concerned about this particular finish becoming slippery, tiles can be covered with a non-slip coating. This coating will create certain coarseness to the tile, but only just enough to create grip.

In terms of style, tiles are great for creating mosaics, patterns and specific looks to suit your design theme. They are also one of the most durable finishes on the market.

VINYL LINERS

Vinyl interiors are cost-effective and lowmaintenance thanks to the product’s resistance to algae growth, which results in reduced pool chemical use.

Vinyl pools are within their own structural category, as they do not act as a cover for a concrete pool, but rather are built with the intention of using the vinyl lining. This ultimately ensures that the pool’s finish will be soft and smooth.

However, pool steps and seats are not often covered by vinyl liners, as they can be tricky to completely cover. As a result, pool owners must take into consideration that these specific areas will likely have a different texture to the rest of the pool.

FIBREGLASS

Fibreglass pools are nonporous and contain a gel coating, making them already smooth to the touch. Fibreglass pools tend to be pre-made in a factory, with the pool’s shell being created using a specifically-designed mould.

Fibreglass pools can be chosen in a range of colours, are exceptionally resistant to structural damage and quick to install. Combined with its smooth feel, fibreglass can be the preferred choice for homeowners with a simple and stable outdoor space.

When designing or renovating your pool, make its interior one of your first considerations. Pool owners shouldn’t feel restricted to one finish, as it is possible to use different materials in different areas of the pool. For example, slip-resistant finishes are great on steps and entrances, while smoother options should be used on more recreational areas. What may seem like a minor aesthetic decision could prove to have a very big impact on how you use your pool in the long-run.

 

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