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Winter: A time not just to Deck the Halls but also to Redesign your Garden

Winter: A time not just to Deck the Halls but also to Redesign your Garden

Always loved and enjoyed the world of design and decorating? You have reasons to celebrate then! With the upcoming holidays, it’s the season for home design and makeovers. And call it a holiday bonanza, or whatever, in this blog, we address not one, but two interesting house design topics for you. Keep reading…

By the by, in keeping with the jingly jolly spirit of the most wonderful time of the year, the Room Flip™ team has already put up its Christmas-special holiday makeover event — ‘Deck the Halls’. Have you checked it out? Well, I recommend that you do it for two reasons: 1. It can get you started with some very useful tips and ideas on how you can redecorate your personal spaces for Christmas, for real. 2. There are gorgeous gifts to be unboxed by the charming hearth as you sip your hot chocolate, for virtual.

Christmas Holiday Season Pass
A sneak-peek at the Holiday Season Pass to ‘Deck the Halls’ event in Room Flip!

Getting back to the idea of home design and makeovers, have you ever wondered why we like to decorate our homes? The answer is simple: “The best rooms have something to say about the people who live in them.” ~ David Hicks, English interior decorator, and designer noted for using bold colors, mixing antique and modern furnishings, and contemporary art for his famous clientele. 

Or if you like a more descriptive answer, here’s what author Susan Clayton says: “…for many people, their home is part of their self-definition, which is why we do things like decorate our houses and take care of our lawns. These large patches of vegetation serve little real purpose, but they are part of a public face people put on, displaying their home as an extension of themselves.”

🩳👠Just like clothes reveal a lot about our personalities, decorations reveal a lot about the lifestyle of people living in a home. Let’s take some examples from Room Flip™ itself.

The first episode of Season 1 opens to a newly-acquired penthouse suite in a plush Manhattan neighborhood that has to be renovated into a tastefully designed living room in minimalist interior design style for client Tabitha Russo — a philanthropist, who’s also known for her parties worldwide. In the next episode, you remodel a kids’ bedroom in the Hygge or comforting Nordic style for the Taylor family, who are attorneys.

Luxe Manhattan High Rise & Nordic Style Kids Room
Luxe Manhattan High Rise for client Tabitha Russo & Nordic Style Kids Room for the Taylor family. Each room speaks volumes about the clients’ personalities and aspirations.

The third episode gives you the opportunity to remodel Jennifer Browne’s cookhouse into a Modern French-style Country Kitchen. Jennifer was facing a tough time with her daughter’s school schedule, marriage, work, working out, and housekeeping and wanted to renovate her kitchen where she spends a lot of her time, when at home. And finally, Season 1 closes with a beautiful rooftop garden fashioned in the splendid Mediterranean design, overlooking Lake Sunapee for client Sofia Romana Adley an artist by profession, who wanted to gift it to George as their anniversary present. Why a garden? Well, because George is an author who needs a quiet and inspiring place to fuel his imagination!

Modern French Style Country Kitchen (left) & Mediterranean Style Rooftop (right).
Like clothes reveal a lot about our personalities, decorations reveal a lot about the lifestyle of people living in a home.
👜🎒 We decorate to personalize our spaces. Identity is an essential part of human existence, and the home is one of the few places that bear evidence of personality. When making decisions about our home decorations, we’re free to choose whichever color, design, and features we like. We’re also allowed to use these elements in any manner – based on our personal preferences, and tell whichever story we want them to tell the world.

For American fashion model Karlie Kloss, the places she’s traveled and the cultures she has experienced have been reflected in her home decor choices. For Dutch designer and art director Marcel Wanders, all his design choices reflect a marriage between past and present as he believes “Designers and people, in general, are too attracted by ‘new’, but nothing ages more quickly than ‘newness’.”

Eclectic Venetian Dining Room & Mid-Century Modern Master Ensuite
Decorating is about personalizing our spaces. Client and comedian Monifa Turner wanted her dining room to ignite that feeling of comfort and coziness. Renowned fashion designer Edna Scott wanted to redesign her bathroom as a place of retreat and solitude where she also pampers herself.
🧸Decorating our homes is also about comfort. When you personalize your spaces with decorations, you become more comfortable living and moving around in those spaces. With the luxury of choices available when decorating; we get to arrange spaces in such ways that will make it easy for us to move around and do other essential things. “Comfort starts from having peace of mind that your home is well-decorated; you don’t have to feel weird about receiving a visitor if your home is in good shape.” ~ Decoration Channel
She-Shed in Shabby-Chic Style
She Shed: women’s answer to the Man Cave! And this one oozes comfort, style and is so idyllic.

🪔🦃🎄Special Events. Ooh, I love those! Have you ever imagined a Christmas without decorations? There is nothing more magical than decorated trees, lights, presents, family, and friends to brighten up your life, along with delicious home-cooked food. Not just on Christmas, but any festivity. There, that’s another reason why we decorate our homes.

Every now and then, special events arise, and they require special celebrations with distinct decorations and specific themes. Birthday parties, weddings, housewarmings, and a lot of other joyous occasions need decorations to set the right mood.

Diwali Decor in Maharajah Lounge, in Rajasthan & a Flamingo-themed Pool Party on the Tropical Rooftop, in Bali

Festivals always give us fabulous opportunities to reorganize/redecorate our homes. On your left is the Maharajah Lounge, in Rajasthan that has been decked up for Diwali – the festival of lights. On your right is the Tropical Rooftop in Bali that’s been dressed up in a flamingo theme for a pool party at the client’s.

👰👼📦To Mark the Beginning of a New Journey. We also decorate when we’re about to begin a new adventure, or turn a new chapter in our lives. Like the birth of a child, or moving to a new city/country with a job change/promotion, or when a newly married couple aspires to design their ‘dream home’ to decorate their living space in celebration of the wedding and a new life together. The decorative efforts not only beautify our interiors, personalize our spaces, and make them comfortable, but are also ambient for the new journey we’re about to embark upon.

Moroccan Riad (Courtyard) groomed for a wedding event.
The Dreamy Moroccan Riad in Room Flip, all fancied up for a ‘destination wedding’ event.

💠To Impress! And of course, be hospitable. Like it or not, we humans are social beings who like to entertain and be entertained. So it’s a good idea to have a well-decorated home that feels welcoming to the visitors. And believe me, your excellent interior design choices WILL be commended in your social gatherings and among your social circles.

 ✔️To Upgrade and Use the Extra Space. Often we get bored with the same look inside our homes. So when you can afford it, spend money to decorate your abodes. 

 It’s a common misconception that one needs to spend a lot on home decorations. “The truth is that you don’t have to spend more than you can afford. Decorating can be as simple as applying a new coat of paint or buying some curtains.” ~ Decoration Channel You’ll be surprised at how just a new coat of paint or new drapes freshen up your interiors!

 Space should never be wasted. If you have too much space in your house or some awkward spaces that you know not what to do, like dead corners or niches, just DECK THEM UP! Place a small table, add some flowers, bring in some greens, hang or stand a piece of art, insert a floor lamp, occupy the corner with a modular sofa – there’s no dearth of things that you cannot do and you’ll be shocked at the stunning transformation of those awkward spaces. 

 💰Last but not least, Decorating helps to Maintain or Increase the Resale Value! How the exterior and the interior spaces of a house look affects the cost of the property. It’s a no-brainer that nobody wants to cough up a lot of money for a property that has an ugly or uncomfortable landscape or looks bland on the inside. “Repainting a house alone can increase the value of a home by a considerable amount,” notes Decoration Channel

 You don’t have to wait until you decide to sell your house to decorate. Make sure you decorate from time to time to keep the house in good condition; this will help maintain or increase the value of the home as time goes by.

 Care to know why house decorating games have become so madly popular? Head our very first blog by Team Room Flip™ on Design your Dream House without Spending a Dime!

An Apparently Insane but Practical Tip for ANY Makeover Project

Whether you’re furnishing a new home, updating your kitchen, or just wanting some inspiration to refresh your rental, the first and foremost thing to do is to Determine Your Style. How do you do that?

💡  👒👖👗“Take a look at your closet,” — says San Francisco-based interior designer Grant K. Gibson. Ask yourself if you prefer tailored pieces or do you prefer looser and more comfortable items? Do you gravitate toward certain colors or patterns?

💡  👠👟Next, determine your style with  ‘keywords’ that define how you want a space to feel. Traditional, formal, elegant? Playful, humorous, inviting? Monochromatic, streamlined, modern?

💡  🏩💺Take note of design inspirations in every facet of life. Recall a hotel in which you’ve stayed or a restaurant in which you’ve dined that particularly struck your fancy. Perhaps it was a minimal interior from your trip to Japan or a clubby bar in New York furnished with worn leather chairs.

You’ll of course learn by doing. So get started…list down your preferred clothing, keywords, and inspirations.

And now to why winter is a good time to redesign your Garden? Well, as they say: “make hay while the sun shines”, I say: plan in winter so that you can enjoy your garden in summer.
A flourishing peachy rose garden

🏡Award-winning garden designer, Michael John McGarr of Warnes McGarr & Co, recommends planning and booking any garden design and landscaping work in winter. “Ensure you get to use your garden in the summer because if it’s being landscaped, you definitely won’t be able to use your outdoor space. It’s unlikely you’ll be sitting outside in the sun that much in late autumn and through into winter, so it’s the perfect time to begin a redesign.”

🌻 Also, it’s much easier for your garden team to work with a garden when it’s not in full growth mode in the summer. Plants and shrubs will be dying back for the winter, and weeds won’t be growing voraciously.

🐇🐦And as Olivia Heath — Executive Digital Editor, House Beautiful UK rightly points out “It’s hard to be a garden designer and not have a love for wildlife and its place in the garden. It’s much better to do a big garden project over the winter when there’s not as much wildlife out and about to disturb.”

Gardens attract wildlife
Aww, look at that beauty!

🎍And finally, “…it’ll protect your plants in the long-term.” ~ Olivia Heath as it’s much better to move and relocate plants and shrubs over the winter when they aren’t growing or flowering. 

Garden Decoration Tips

Now that NOW is the best time to redo your garden, here are some lush tips for your garden makeover project. 

Casual and Inviting: For starters, “A furnished garden shouldn’t look too perfect or contrived,” says Susie Beall, an interior designer. Succulents spilling out of a pillar-like planter at a path entrance, with an iron bell hanging from a nearby tree lend that natural look while at the same time keeping it casual and inviting. A garden is after all a place for recreation.

Some examples of how you can make your furnished garden look casual and inviting
A garden is a place for recreation. Small or big, your garden, even when “furnished” should look casual and inviting. Don’t be afraid to personalize it.

2. Dress Up Garden Entrances: “Even in a small landscape, a sequence of discrete spaces, connected by passageways and paths, adds a sense of mystery and expansiveness to an ordinary stroll.” says lifestyle author Susan Heeger. She adds that “Paths indicate the way; iron arches and gates—many from gardener’s-supply catalogs and covered with vines—mark transitions to different areas. Potted bougainvillea, citrus trees, and palms further accent entries, as do finials perched on pedestals.”

Trellis at a garden entrance
Don’t forget to deck up your garden entrances. Trellises and Gazebos add that character to an otherwise ordinary landscape!

3.  Craft a Cozy Dining Space: Set up a small table and chairs inside your garden for an Alice-In-Wonderland-style al fresco dining spot. Arrange a comfortable dining spot, complete with soft throws, decorative pillows, and lanterns. 

But beware: ⚠️i) the style of any tables and chairs you choose has a big impact on the look of your outdoor spaces;  they should feel cohesive with the other decorative objects and materials you use. ⚠️ii) Choose decor suited for the outdoors.

Landscape and Alfresco arrangement
Such neat garden landscaping along with cozy alfresco arrangements make for a great ambiance.

4.  Build a Fire Pit and Give Your Pavers Some Pattern: Construct a fire pit by arranging curved paving stones in a circle. clarifies that It’s tip-proof, even without mortar, and the entire undertaking takes just 20 minutes from start to finish.” 

Then, lead the way to the fire pit with stenciled stepping stones. Your trampled lawn will thank you.

Fire Pits
It’s actually not that difficult to build a firepit! So make sure to have one where you can relax with your loved ones in a cold winter or a pleasant summer evening.

5.  Build a Tree House, Fairy Garden & Bird Baths

Delight your kids — and create visual interest — with a treehouse that they’ll want to hide out in all summer long. For more details, check out our previous blog Treehouses: the Arboreal Hideaways that are in, and branching out!

Add a tiny fairy garden to your real garden to lend that magical feel to your backyard!

Fairy garden
Fairy gardens: tiny spaces, rather miniature gardens created and tended with love, and throught to lure fairies bringing and with them, good luck, to your home.

Finally, the Bird Baths, which in my opinion, are perhaps the best additions that your garden can have. While the chirpy feather friends hang out to take a dip or sip at your birdbaths, they will hunt for the insects and worms and seeds and flower parts they like to eat. In the process, they will help aerate the soil, help groom dead plant material, and help keep plants healthy as they devour pests. Yes, birds may eat some fruit, especially if you grow berries or cherries, although gardeners can certainly take steps to mitigate losses. But hey, isn’t delightful to hear them twittering as they debate on the year’s produce!

🔖Special tip: “A birdbath with a fish at its center, placed where paths converge, has the look of an Old World fountain.” ~ ThisOldHouse

6. Don’t underestimate the power of Twinkle Lights: You’ll be surprised how a couple of strands of twinkle lights turn your garden into THE spot in your house for outdoor summer hangouts.

Twinkle Lihts and Lanterns
Besides their decorative appeal, lights have functional usages, like guiding your path after dusk!
7. Lantern’s Lane: Well, I certainly don’t intend to bring to mind the creepy urban legend thriller that was released around Halloween, but hanging lanterns from the boughs of trees is most functional, and it adds an old-world vibe to your garden. In fact, many landscapes are most romantic after dark—by the glow of the moon or when well-placed electric lights spotlight trees and light up paths. 

8. Showcase your Plant Collection: Besides singling out your favorite specimens for pots and pedestals, group container plants where they can be appreciated at eye level. For example, if you have a thing for succulents, display them on a vintage pine table and a painted chest of drawers coated with a waterproofing sealer for wood. That way, you can study all their unusual shapes!

Showcase your Succulents
Who doesn’t adore the gorgeous succulents that come in all shapes, sizes, and colors!

9. Ooh! So CERAMIC! Use Pottery to Add Color: Imagine what a world of difference it would make in your garden to switch out earth-toned pots that blend in with the background with containers that visually pop in shades of blue, red, orange, or even purple. Colorful containers can be used in many ways to stand out and grab our attention in outdoor spaces — often where it’s more challenging to add color.

Potteries in eye-popping colors
Drop the plastics and “get real” with colorful potteries.

10. Mix Up some Old World Flavor with Fountains and Figurines: both of which can be easily scored at pottery yards.

Have you ever tried to track the source of trickling water in a garden? It is an all-but-irresistible lure to exploring a garden. Add fountains and birdbaths. Rusty lanterns, plant baskets, and watering cans, some picked up at flea markets, can round out the timeworn decor.

And to lend some historical context, strut up a few Garden Statues and Figurines although you gotta be careful with this one lest they look tacky. ⚠️Here’s a humorous pick on how to avoid tacky yard decor blunders!

Fountains and Figurines add that old world vibe
Timeworn decor pieces like Fountains and Figurines add that old-world vibe.

11. And the Sun Dial! Garden Sundials are unique time-telling pieces with roots in ancient societies. When placed at the correct angle, sundials use the sun to tell time while being beautiful and ageless decorative items. Place it amidst a bed of petunias, geraniums, and other colorful annuals and perennials.

12. As a last piece of advice, I’d like to quote Susan Heeger on the usage of Garden Ornaments who summarises it exquisitely: “Much more than an afterthought, garden ornaments can guide how you shape and use your outdoor space, and affect how it feels when you’re in it. A wrought-iron gate can mark the entrance to a world of green, a tree-hung lantern raises your perspective, a curved bench inspires a nap. Carefully placed, pretty yet practical, these elements offer subtle but effective clues: Turn here. Look up. Slow down. They also give a garden space a finished look in all four seasons. The trick is to not overdo it.”

There, you have it. Now there are some aspects of Garden Decoration that you can achieve yourself. But for things like paving, landscaping, installing certain fixtures and so on, you will need professional help unless of course, you are the expert. So go on, get those interior designing mags out that you’ve been collecting, and along with my tips, plan your garden escape. And don’t forget to share some clicks.

Happy Decorating, Ciao!

Treehouses: the Arboreal Hideaways that are in, and branching out!

Treehouses: the Arboreal Hideaways that are in, and branching out!

This Modern Treehouse Pavilion was designed in Queensland, Australia for client Mark Parker on the Room Flip interior design TV show game. Queensland offers many such spectacular arboreal getaways/hideouts.

Treehouse: “a place every kid, and adult kid dreams of staying.” That’s why we had one designed right here on the Room Flip game, in Queensland, Australia, for client Mark Parker who wanted to have a nature-inspired getaway for his children, away from the humdrum of city life.

As children haven’t we all dreamed of having our very own treehouse? Although only the lucky ones (like Mark Parker’s kids) had their dreams fulfilled. As we got older, this dream has waned for some, but many people haven’t given up on it. More and more adults have been rediscovering the joys of Arboreal Hideaways, which has given rise to a ‘novelty lodging market’. And throughout the years, living in a treehouse has become a popular choice for many homeowners. “Today, some of the most sought out hotels and Airbnb’s are treehouses.” – states Garden State Home Loans Inc. Another Washington Post article cites: “Airbnb lists treehouses as the “most wishlisted” type of rental in its May 2021 trends report.”

So treehouses are in – and branching out.

Whether for a solo escape, romantic getaway, or a trip with the whole family, these wooden treetop abodes thrust us into the heart of nature and offer a unique stay on another level – literally! No wonder then that from Africa to Ohio, and pretty much all across the globe, this ‘green getaway’ and alternative housing has found many ardent admirers.

Treetop Lodging in Bali, Indonesia

Ahh! Such magnificent views this treetop lodging in Bali, Indonesia offers.

Treehouse Tidbits

Now that we’ve established why we all love these arboreal abodes, let’s get down to some Treehouse tidbits.

Firstly, What is a Treehouse?
“A tree house, tree fort, or treeshed is a platform or building constructed around, next to, or among the trunk or branches of one or more mature trees while above ground level. Tree houses can be used for recreation, work space, habitation, a hangout space, and observation.” – Wikipedia

As hardcore treehouse enthusiasts would tell you: the tree must be an integral part of the structure, and it must have the ability to stay in the air. In some cases, minimal ground support may be necessary to ensure safety, but if the tree is removed and the structure is standing, it’s considered a playhouse.

Wooden Cabins and Playhouses versus Treehouses

This cozy-looking wooden cabin (on the left) isn’t a treehouse although it’s surrounded by herbage. While the one on the right qualifies as a treehouse.

Treehouse Origins

“Tree house life has largely been a storied fantasy, its details woven into books (Peter Pan)” – Emilie Sennebogen in Ultimate Guide to Designer Tree Houses, numerous films and sitcoms like the ‘Treehouse of Horror’ (the Halloween episodes from The Simpsons). 

If you ask me, the most famous treehouses of all time existed only in the imagination at first, including the one that was home to author Johann David Wyss’ shipwrecked clan, the Swiss Family Robinson. Later, they’ve had a long and rich history in the real world too. Before we get into that, have you ever wondered where the wonderful idea for a house in a tree came from? 

From our very distant ancestors – the apes! Yeah, you read that right. The idea of ‘high-living, up in the boughs, is something that we humans adopted (eons ago) from the apes, who would make homes for themselves in the trees as protection from the elements, as well as predators. “Long before they were a thing of fun and pleasure, the tree house was a used permanent living accommodation, a home. They were built worldwide, wherever trees grow. They were used as shelters with a great view, practical for keeping families and their food safe from sneaking animals and floods.” – Milica Sterjova in Walls with Stories blog.

And so it goes…that the history of these magical abodes spans far, far back when they were used for survival: as a necessity and way of living in inhospitable terrains. And not as an ‘escape’ from the humdrum of city life, or children’s dens, or even the mind-blowing luxury accommodations of today!

Luxury treetop dwellings with all modern amenities

Modern-day treehouses can accommodate a host of amenities.

When and Where was the First Treehouse Built?
Although history has no evidence of when the first treetop abode was built because of its very ephemeral nature, treehouses can be traced back to ancient civilizations, more than 40000 years ago. Original treehouse dwellings comprised simple platforms suspended in a tree, or hidden up in the trees and thought to have been first created in areas such as the South Pacific and Southeast Asia, largely as a protective measure against flooding. “A smart pulley system was the only means of entrance to the platforms for both the inhabitants and their belongings in place of a ladder.” – The History of Treehouses blog. The inhabitants “came and went via thatched baskets that were raised and lowered down the tree trunk.” – Emilie Sennebogen

So When did the Treehouses for Survival take a turn for Treehouses for Pleasure?
In the Middle ages, Franciscan and Hindu monks used treehouses for living in and for meditation. Many centuries later, the world saw four distinctly fashionable periods for building treehouses: the Roman era, the Renaissance period, the late 18th-century Romantic period, and the early 21st century.

The first recorded evidence of treehouses used for recreation dates from the first century AD: the Roman era where “Pliny the Elder described one made for Caligula in a Plane tree at Velitrae. This was of the platform style, but others were enclosed in the trunks of trees.” – A Brief History of Treehouses blog, Blue Forest: the world’s leading treehouse company.

A neat little abode lodged into the trunk of a tree

Enclosed in the trunk of a tree, this looks more like a hobbit house than a treehouse, ain’t it?

The Renaissance period witnessed a staggering rise in the popularity of treehouses in Europe, especially in Italy due to Francesco Colonna’s immensely popular book Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (1499) that constructed romantic images of these abodes. Treehouses became a fashion statement in Florentine gardens, and even led to the creation of lavish treehouse restaurants, with records showing that the largest would seat up to 200 guests! The powerful and famous Italian banking family – the Medicis also incorporated them into their gardens: they built a treehouse in an oak tree, and it had its own spiral staircase and a fountain near it, further bringing the trend to the forefront.

Treehouses became a significant cultural feature in Tudor England. One of the oldest tree houses constructed in the 16th Century still exists in its original Tudor style, and is known for its most famous guest: Queen Victoria in 1832, while she was a young Princess! Queen Elizabeth, I also had her treehouse, mostly used for dinners. Legend has it that as a princess whilst she picnicked amongst the branches of a linden tree, at the time of her father’s death, causing her accession to the throne to be amongst the branches. And I cannot help but share this sardonic observation by a visitor as listed out by treehouse builder Cheeky Monkey:

“For the first time in the history of the world, a young girl climbed into a tree one day a Princess and after having what she described as her most thrilling experience she climbed down from the tree next day a Queen — God bless her.”

While in Britain, like most things, treehouses have a link to royalty, in France, inspired by the famous Robinson-Crusoe, chic Parisians leisured in “tree-top bars and restaurants built in chestnut trees and covered in rambling roses, in a town called Le Plessis-Robinson. Meals were hoisted up to diners in a basket pulley and often consisted of roast chicken and champagne.” An oenophile’s haven, “Le Plessis-Robinson provided Parisians with a place of escapism, fun and maybe a little too much wine.” notes treehouse builder – Cheeky Monkey.

And finally, “the late eighteenth century built upon the romantic feel and sense of luxurious extravagance, having come a long way from the simple platform as a home to something that only the wealthiest of people could afford.” – The History of Treehouses blog

Treehouses in modern-day

The early 21st century saw the greatest revival of treehouse trends worldwide. With a higher level of disposable income, and a greater desire to enjoy unique experiences, countries such as the United States, Australia, and many parts of Europe adopted this trend, and continue today to build grand structures amongst the branches for us to enjoy as weekend retreats, offices, or even as full-time residences. Another crucial contributor to the increasing popularity of treehouses is the green/sustainable living movement with people choosing to once again live in the trees and “worship the environment around them.” 

Treehouses are not just a luxury for the wealthy in the modern day. With materials readily available; it is a viable option to build your very own treehouse or to book a stay in one at an affordable price.

Now, are you considering building one for your kids or yourself and in an instant, be transformed into faraway lands, forts, and hideaways? Read on.

Tips on Building the ‘High Life’

🌳 First and foremost you have to have the right tree for a treehouse. Almost any mature deciduous (trees that lose their leaves in the winter) or coniferous tree is a good choice, as long as it’s healthy. The trees have to be able to support the loads and hence, need to have a solid and intact root structure, which these types of trees provide with their dense wood compositions.
⚠️ Watch out for trees with multiple dead branches, leaf discoloration, or liquid oozing from the bark: they’re NOT healthy. Alternatively, working with a professional tree specialist, an arborist, can help make these determinations easy.

🌳 So what if you’ve got a tree! You have to be feasibly, legally allowed to construct your tree-dwelling. Every jurisdiction is different in terms of how they treat these structures, so do check with your local authorities.

🌳 OK, permission granted, now what? Come up with a Design! But hey, did you pay close attention to the shape of your tree? Because that will largely dictate the design, although there are many other architectural details to consider during the design process. For example, is the tree still growing? If yes, your treehouse design needs to accommodate the growth to keep the tree in good health.
⚠️ Avoid using too many nails, screws and bolts as they can create puncture wounds that can harm the tree and weaken its structure, especially if they’re placed close together. “It’s best to use a single, large bolt that fits snugly into a cleanly drilled pilot hole”, suggests Emilie Sennebogen.

Eyeball-shaped treehouse in Vancouver Island, Canada

This rather queer treehouse in Vancouver Island, Canada took the “I’ve got my eyes on you” expression quite literally!

🌳 Darn, I forgot to mention the Wind! Well, ‘Mr. Wind’ is also a huge consideration in treehouse design. A treetop dwelling acts like a “sail on a boat in strong winds, creating resistance that adds a considerable load to the tree’s roots. A tree will compensate for the weight of the treehouse over the first few years by adding thickness to its root structure.” Emilie Sennebogen Not just that, Wind also means that trees sway back and forth, so the support structure of the treehouse needs to allow for this to happen. So when coming up with a design, “keep in mind that a treehouse that’s lower in the tree will produce lower forces on its roots and stand less chance of being knocked over by gale force winds.” Emilie Sennebogen

🌳 OK, all things considered, now what about the look? I think people love treehouses because of the warmth of timber… when you walk into the treehouse you get this lovely woody smell. You can either go with reclaimed timber, which most professional treehouse builders use or employ the same kind of wood you would use to build a regular house. Exterior plywood is good for the floor and walls, but:
⚠️ Plywood doesn’t allow drainage or ventilation, so you must build a solid roof that’s pitched at least 30 degrees to allow rain to run off easily.

A not-so-extravagant rustic treetop dwelling

As with all things, looks matter! Though not a high-end treetop accommodation, it sure exudes a rustic charm and the warmth of timber.

🌳 Next, you can choose glass or plastic for the windows but each comes with a rider: glass is clearer and scratch-resistant, but it’s more prone to breaking. Plastic won’t shatter into pieces if hit by a branch, but it’s not as attractive.

 That’s that. Now, I’m not much of a writer, like Zara. But I tried. I hope you find the facts that I researched so laboriously, handy. So are you ready to escape to a treehouse for a bit of forest bathing: take in a bird’s-eye view of the landscape and relax as the tree rocks ever so gently in the breeze? Let me know in the comments!

Take in the bird's view from atop your tree abode and find yourself in nature

Escape to a treehouse for a bit of forest bathing: let the tree rock you ever so gently in the breeze.

Planning a Tea Party? Hold it like a Victorian with these ‘Tea Time’ Tips

Planning a Tea Party? Hold it like a Victorian with these ‘Tea Time’ Tips

Room Flip’s very own ‘An Afternoon Tea Party’ celebration in New Hampshire, U.S.A.

So what if Room Flip’s ‘An English Afternoon Tea Party’ in New Hampshire is over? We can always talk about Tea for “Tea is the elixir of life”, Tea is the answer to most of our problems!

“Polly put the kettle on
Polly put the kettle on…
We’ll all have tea
Sukey, take it off again
Sukey, take it off again…
They’ve all gone away”

Ahh, you must be wondering what’s with the quotes and nursery rhyme? Well, I still find myself singing it just as we did at school as our music teacher hammered down on her piano. And why not? Tea Parties are for ALL AGES! And they put a smile on our lips. Whether you’re a child or an adult, there’s something about tea parties that’s very endearing and nostalgic. Children spend hours hosting a tea party for their dolls and stuffed animals. It’s a time of imagination that kids love because they can act like adults. As adults, we like to indulge in such fond memories of a bygone era for tea parties provide the perfect excuse to gather friends together for an afternoon and share great food, stories, and a laugh or two. They’re also great for a children’s birthday, or even for Grandma’s special day! For the next baby shower or a book party. A tea party in anyone’s honor is a great way to show them how special they are to you.

Tea Party in Granma's honor

Tea Parties are for ALL ages and can be planned for various occasions.

And finally, it’s probably got to do with Alice in Wonderland! If you recall, the book first published in 1865, contains the most beloved tea party scene in literary history. So we’re here to tell you how to host the best Tea Party ever and hold one like a Victorian for, after all, it IS a Victorian invention and the most quintessential English custom. Let’s begin with where it all started…

Tea Party Scene from Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland holds the most beloved tea party scenes in literary history.

Tip #1: Treat your Guests to some History — the Advent of Tea Parties

Tea consumption in Europe had increased dramatically in the early 19th century, especially after Europeans learned the secrets of tea cultivation and began establishing their own plantations, instead of relying on China. And while the custom of drinking tea dates back to the third millennium BC in China and was popularized in England during the 1660s by King Charles II and his wife the Portuguese Infanta Catherine de Braganza, it was not until the mid 19th century that the concept of ‘afternoon tea’ first appeared.

“The modern European tea party began about 20 years before the publication of Alice in Wonderland, at which point it was still extremely fashionable. Although there are scattered references to fashionable ladies drinking a cup of tea mid-afternoon in the 17th century, most sources trace the tradition back to the 1840s and Anna Maria Russell, the Duchess of Bedford, a lifelong friend of Queen Victoria’s.” — Bess Lovejoy

It’s with Dutchess Anna that the idea of an afternoon tea-based snack fest caught on after she began inviting friends to meet her for a cuppa (as Brits now call it) and “a walk in the fields.” During the Duchess’s day, most British people ate two main meals: a huge breakfast served early, and an 8 PM dinner (there was a light, informal luncheon in between). The Duchess complained of getting a “sinkful feeling” during the long, snack-less gap in between, and started making a pot of tea and some light treats in her boudoir around 4 PM. And voila, the ‘Tea Party’ was born!

Other high society hostesses imitated Dutchess Anna’s party idea, creating intimate afternoon events that usually involved elegant rooms, fine china, hot tea, small sandwiches, and plenty of gossips. “The custom really caught on when Queen Victoria attended some of these gatherings, adding her royal imprimatur.” — Bess Lovejoy

The middle classes soon followed suit, discovering that tea parties were a relatively economical way to host a gathering. There were garden teas, tennis teas, croquet teas, and more.

The Victorian Way of Life: Drinking Potfuls of Tea

A pot of tea and some light treats to get over that “sinkful feeling” resulting from the long, snack-less gap in between lunch and dinner came in vogue with Dutchess Anna of Bedford.

Tip #2: Know Which Type of Tea You’re Hosting: Afternoon Tea or High Tea?

Yes, it is DIFFERENT!

High Tea is not a fancy tea, as many people assume. Over time, the custom of taking a mid-afternoon tea break became standard across British society, although it diverged into two traditions: ‘Afternoon Tea’ for the affluent leisured classes (tea and light snacks like delectable scones, tea sandwiches, and cakes served in midafternoon) and ‘High Tea’ or ‘Meat Tea’ — think of it as a more substantive fare with meat, fish, and egg dishes, as well as loaves of bread and desserts that would be served when laborers arrived home after work, in the early evening.

Afternoon Tea is also known as ‘Low Tea’ as it was most often taken at a low table, like a coffee table in the sitting room before a warm fire. (This is not to say that you can’t serve afternoon teas at a dining table.) High Tea derives its name from its tendency to be served at a high table, like a dining table or high counter, at the end of the workday.

A selection of great Afternoon Teas

Tea: the second most popular drink after water!

Tip #3: The Tea

Whether you call it high tea, low tea, or afternoon tea, selecting a great tea is just one of the many aspects of the occasion. As is making a good pot of tea!

  • Try and get your hands on some loose leaf tea (English Breakfast & Earl Grey are a popular choice). It will give you the ‘real tea’ experience and will taste so much better compared to the regular teabags.
  • Try to select bold teas for rich or strongly flavored foods or more delicate teas for more subtle foods.
  • Consider including at least one caffeine-free tisane (“herbal tea”) or a decaf option, in case some guests are sensitive to caffeine.
  • Overall, remember to serve a range of teas to suit different tastes and include lemon slices, sugar, and cream to accompany the tea.

Here’s a list of the top teas for Afternoon Tea that pair very well with a range of foods found on afternoon tea menus.

Mint Tea and Cinamon Tea

Go for a melange of bold (like Assam/Darjeeling black teas) and delicate teas (Mint, Cinamon, Lavender).

Tip #4: Tea Party Snacks

The tea is accompanied by a variety of foods that are easy to prepare/order and manage while in a sitting room: thin sandwiches, such as cucumber or tomato, cake slices, buns or rolls, cookies, biscuits, and scones.

  • The cake was a favorite food of Queen Victoria’s and she reportedly ordered “16 chocolate sponges, 12 plain sponges, 16 fondant biscuits” along with other sweets for a tea party at Buckingham Palace.
What are Tea Parties without the Tea Cakes!
Tea Cakes and Tea Loaves: a must-have at all tea parties.
  • Cakes asides, Scones are the other most popular foods for tea party menus. They can be sweet or savory, and complex or plain. Here are some scone recipes for any style of tea party. Be sure to pair your scones with appropriate scones toppings or spreads, such as Devonshire cream, clotted cream, or lemon curd.
Scones - another fave Tea Party snack

Choose from a variety of sweet bites: Swiss Rolls, Macaroons & Marshmallows, Cup Cakes, Sorbets, and Scones.

  • Finger sandwiches (also known as “tea sandwiches”) are often served at full tea, a heavier style of afternoon tea menu. Classic afternoon tea finger sandwiches include egg salad, tea sandwiches, cucumber tea sandwiches, smoked salmon finger sandwiches, roast beef finger sandwiches, ham finger sandwiches, and chicken salad finger sandwiches. (These types of simple recipes tend to work especially well for kids’ tea parties.)
Tea party savory snacks

Quiche, Egg Salad, Ham Sandwiches, Nuts, Crackers and Cheese: all go well at afternoon tea parties.

  • In addition to finger sandwiches, some tea party menus include other savories, such as savory scones, soups, quiches, or lighter savory snacks, like seasoned nuts or cheese and crackers.
  • Besides sweet scones, other sweet delicacies are often served with full tea or light tea. Common types of sweets found on tea party menus include various types of sponge cakes, Madeleines, cupcakes (which are ideal for kids’ tea parties), and trifles. “Be careful not to have too much overlap in the types of sweets you serve. Ideally, your sweets menu will include a variety of flavors, such as seasonal fruit (or, in the cooler months, preserves), cream, vanilla or chocolate.” — Lindsey Goodwin
  • Other Beverages For kids’ tea party menus, consider serving iced tea, juice, or punch. For adult tea parties, you might consider offering champagne or a tea cocktail — there’s nothing like cozying up with a hot cup of tea when it’s cold outside and even better when the cup of hot tea is spiked with a little something extra.
Other Beverages: Iced Teas, Tea Cocktails & Fruit Punches

Tea Cocktails, Iced Teas & Fruit Punches: some other beverages that you could serve up at your afternoon tea parties.

Tip #5: Tea Party Decor

A tea party is a tasteful affair. No tea party would be complete without the right accessories, so make sure you’re equipped with a cake stand, your best crockery, and a lovely tablecloth with decorations to match. 

  • “Think about color and texture when you plan your tea party menu. Carefully selected colors can relate to a tea party theme, the current season or other concepts, or they can simply be another way to make your tea party menu enjoyable for your guests.” —
  • Having the right china is important! Fine bone china teaware will bring a hint of vintage elegance to your party. If you don’t have any, walk to a nearby thrift store and amass some for throwaway prices. I assure you that you won’t regret it.
Fine Bone China tea cups for that Vintage touch
Beautiful Bone China tea cups always add to that vintage and lavish feeling.
Crockeries done, what about the table? Don’t worry if the whole table setting is mismatched – just make sure you have matching trios, and choose real table linens and napkins over paper or plastic ones, and accent with laces, pearls, and pastels.

As a self-taught artist and cook, Suzanne Clark states: “Decorate your table with memories. Place an old scarf or a piece of lace purchased at a fabric store; scatter old pictures and postcards between fresh bouquets in small vases, canning jars, or wine glasses down the center of the table; add your favorite string of pearls, rhinestone broaches, and special event earrings to embellish your table. You will have fun talking about the memories that come to mind as you and your friends enjoy your one-of-a-kind centerpiece.”

Tea Party decor of laces, pearls, flowers and all things bright & warm
Decorate your tea table with memories. They always act as great conversation starters.

Tip # 6: Choose your Tea Mojo

You can go as elaborate and extravagant or as simple as your time and budget allow although elegance has to be the hallmark either way.

  • “Depending on the occasion, your afternoon tea menu can be as sparse as tea and cream scones (a type of afternoon tea menu known as “cream tea”) or elaborate enough that it includes multiple types of teas, scones, finger sandwiches, and other treats.” —
  • If you’re hard-pressed for time, consider buying some items instead of preparing them yourself, and opt for dishes that can be prepared in advance, such as finger sandwiches that won’t get soggy or sweets that can be refrigerated until they are ready to be served.
  • If you’re on a budget, plan your menu carefully: opt for slightly less expensive options in your recipe selections, like raisin scones over cherry scones, and egg salad finger sandwiches over shrimp salad tea sandwiches. And psst, you could even replace the fine bone china with some fine porcelain or ceramic tea sets.
Porcelain & Ceramic Tea Set
Porcelain or Ceramic tea sets will do just fine in case you’re unable to get hold of fine Bone China teaware.

Tip #7: Tea Party Ideas

The old-fashioned tea party has become a favorite way to entertain friends or celebrate a special occasion. And since there’s nothing quite as pleasing as enjoying perfect tea time with your best buds, here are some handy ideas to get started on that tea party that you’ve been planning in your head many times over.

  • Time: Choose an appropriate time to host your tea party. The afternoon is still the most popular and traditional time of the day for tea parties, serving as an opportunity to enjoy some delicious snacks and lovingly-brewed tea before dinner.
  • Invitations: can be purchased or handmade. Choose from pretty floral stationery or parchment paper decorated with pearls/lace/rhinestones/pressed flowers. Invite guests to come in their “fancy dresses.” if you so wish. You may ask guests to wear decorated hats and bring a favorite teacup. You might even decide to have a contest and give a prize for the best hat or prettiest cup.
Tea party invitation card

Personalize your Tea Party invitation cards as you wish.

  • Location: Is it going to be outdoors or indoors?
  • a) If you are planning to host the party on your balcony or your living room, make sure to get the furniture arrangement right. To make sure that the tea party is enjoyable, create a conversation area by arranging the sofa/chairs in a way that they face each other. Make sure to keep a medium-height coffee table to add functionality to the arrangement.

    b) A garden tea party is perfect for a spring or summer celebration when the weather is splendid. In fact, the garden tea party theme is delicate and romantic, so make sure to have decorations in pastel colors and many, many flowers.

Garden Tea Party decor

Garden Tea Parties; there’s always such a charming and romantic ring to it.

  • Arrival Treats: Wow your guests, keep arrival treats for them. Having a nice drink to welcome your guests will not only provide a conversation point when they arrive, it instantly relaxes your guests, and lets them know they are in for an enjoyable afternoon.
  • Tea Party Games: Conversations are great, but you could make your tea party more fun with tea party games. And there’s no dearth of games that you could engage in: from Tea Party Bingo, Word Race, Tea Leave Pictionary to even Teapot Art.

If you’re organizing a tea party for children, Tea Bag Hunt; Musical Chairs; Tea Party Relay Races are quite the hit. For a full list of tea party games for adults and kids, go here.

Tea Party games for adults at a vintage tea party gathering
Who doesn’t like games? Pretty ladies enoying tea party games at a vintage tea party gathering.

While the afternoon tea party became a feature of great houses in the Victorian and Edwardian ages in the United Kingdom and the Gilded Age (1870sto about 1900) in the United States, almost every culture has its own ‘tea etiquettes’ — continental Europe (France, Germany), Russian, China, Japan, Middle East, you name it. But it’s the Victorian Age that made it fashionable and glamorous.

Chinese, Moroccan & Russian tea traditions
Chinese, Moroccan, Russian: every culture has its own Tea ritual.

So go on… plan the next Tea Party for your friends or children with these handy tips and tell us how it went. And to partake in more such exciting and ethnic affairs, head over to Room Flip™ and play upcoming events like the ‘Limoncello de Festa’, in Amalfi, Italy, or a ‘Flamingo-themed Pool Party’, for free!

Download now Google Play Store or App Store.

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Design your Dream House without Spending a Dime!

Design your Dream House without Spending a Dime!

What’s in Home Design Games?

Home Design games are a lot like decorating one’s home, and pretty much like any other games, you play on your mobile device or PC. They are stimulating, engaging games that let you escape into a different world/space in an instant, in this case, it allows you to live the life of an interior designer. So you do what interior designers do: design and decorate fixer-uppers.

You’re given a bare room to start, along with a few options for carpets, wall coverings, couches, lamps, and so forth, and it’s down to you and your imagination to design that room. You choose colors and furniture elements, restructure the available space, select ornamental pieces, and so on that you feel would go best with the overall ambiance while keeping in mind your clients’ needs and preferences (in some cases), or simply your aesthetics (if you’re designing your own home inside the game).

These FREE-to-download house decorating games  offer enjoyable gameplay and are ‘proudly laid back’ compared to other games as there’s no need for fast reaction skills, or puzzle solving, or the urgency to play or buy although items can be purchased with real money through in-app purchases ONLY IF you wish to speed up the completion of a room, or want to own THAT item on which you had your eyes on for some time but didn’t quite end up earning. Instead, these games are about design aesthetics, and you could be learning about different interior design styles and types of decorations; you can link up to lively artistic communities on social media to enhance your design skills and learn insights that you can apply in your actual life. Some games in this genre lure their players through a steady trickle of new content and rewards. One game also utilizes real-life brands: it allows players to shop directly through the app to create their vision for a room in-game before actually implementing it in real life. This means that players can not only apply what they’ve learned (in-game) about different interior design styles to their own homes in real life but also check how their spaces would look like before investing in it!

And the best part of these house design games: the unlimited budget and the freedom to delete errors or redefine anything by simply pressing a button and without spending a dime — unthinkable and undoable in real-life interior design makeovers.

Downloadable from the app store, these house flip games come in a few variations or story formats. While the primary aim in all these design games online is to let you create an attractive aesthetic inside a virtual home, some of them also offer a vibrant narrative or storyline as a reason to renovate. So you could be returning home to your parents only to realize the dire state their mansion is in and set about remodeling it; or you as the character in the story go through a difficult time — in particular, catching your useless, slick boyfriend cheating on you — and simultaneously inheriting a sprawling estate of your great aunt that you’ll get to keep only if you get the place cleaned up within a month. Interesting, right? And as you play through, you unearth new chapters while living out the protagonist’s life: you meet other characters — perhaps a new romance or the return of the ‘ex’, and you stay fully immersed in the ever-evolving narrative as you breathe a fresh lease of life to tired properties on these fixer-upper games.

Additionally, some of these room makeover games embrace the home decoration side of things but also introduce simple gaming elements, like matching puzzle tiles or Match-3 games, along with leaderboards events or design challenges that not only provides variety to your interior design aspirations and skills but also the scope to earn in-game coins and gems to buy new decor pieces, and the likes.

What’s in Room Flip™?

So if you love transforming run-down places into extraordinary spaces and you love fashion, ‘Room Flip™: Design Dream Home Makeover, Flip House’ launched in November 2020, is just the game for you.

“When we researched, we found out that players were looking for a true blue fixer-upper game where you get to flip rooms and customize your avatar at the same time. Upon realizing the gap, we put together a team of interior designers who love their craft and set about creating spaces that have never been transformed before…we plan to bring extraordinary rooms and events to life and keep our core audiences engaged for years to come. Room Flip™ is a game where players can socialize, inspire each other and find the best design experiences in the genre.” ~ Nukebox Studios CEO, Amit Hardi

Illustrating the quote above Room Flip™ not only lets you put on your interior designer’s hat, but you get to do that while being on a TV Show! So it offers you a unique gameplay experience where YOU play out the main character as THE Interior Designer hired for the interior design TV-Show game that Room Flip™ is, and accompany a quirky TV crew around the world to take on clients and give their spaces a makeover that they are longing for. Along with this crew, you caper through riveting stories of clients and behind-the-scenes drama — like a former school bully who happens to be your current boss and who almost sabotages your upcoming promotion! But, that’s not all. Because you’ll be on a TV Show, it requires a dazzling onscreen presence. For this purpose, Room Flip™ lets you customize your avatars in a plethora of stunning outfits & accessories, tailor-made for every occasion, including episode-exclusive attires. What’s more? You have a gazillion fun matching puzzles to crack that aids you with in-game currencies that in turn help you to acquire all the decor accessories to transform your clients’ challenging fixer-uppers into coveted dream homes!

Room Flip™ has already had a few exciting design events since its launch like the ‘Christmas in the Alps’ as part of a Holiday Makeover project or the recently concluded ‘Magical Wedding Makeover in Morocco’ alongside a recurring game event like the amazing ‘Cat Race’ where you race your adorable cats in hot air balloons. And its calendar looks full with an ‘English Afternoon Tea Party’; a ‘Limoncello Fiesta’ in the Amalfi Coast, and so many more!

Moreover, the sheer variety in interior design styles in Room Flip™ is mind-blowing! Here, no two rooms are alike: You kickstart the very first episode in Season 1 upgrading a living room overlooking the Manhattan skyline in a ‘minimalist’ manner; next, you transform a kids room in the comforting ‘hygge’ style so typical of Scandic designs; then refurbish a kitchen in the modern French-style country kitchen mode; and conclude the season with a Mediterranean-style Rooftop with a pebbled garden, fountains et al. There are also some niche rooms and spaces to revamp, like the Retro-style Music room or the Neo-Gothic Bedroom; and even a Retro-style American Diner. Amidst all this, you’ll experience a medley of culture, lifestyle, and luxury as you zip around the world from Baltimore to Botswana, or Tuscany, Dubai, Zermatt, Ibiza, Down Under; you name it.

Why are House Design games Popular?

Ever wondered why we like to decorate our homes? Well, “The best rooms have something to say about the people who live in them.” ~ David Hicks. There, that’s your answer.

Just like clothes reveal a lot about our personalities, decorations reveal a lot about the lifestyle of people living in a home. Just as fashion is optional, so is decorating. And yet most of us choose to decorate both the interior and exterior spaces of our homes. Because just as dressing well increases our performance by boosting our confidence and heightens others’ impressions of us, a well-kept home does the same, and more. Here are 8 main reasons listed by Decoration Channel that make us want to decorate our homes.

That aside, it can be exciting to redesign a space so a person can call it their own. But while most of us would like to decorate our homes, oftentimes in reality, the work is more than the reward, and sometimes items are way too costly. Enter: home decor games.

Luckily for us who live in the flourishing world of mobile apps and mobile games, we get to fulfill our penchant through virtual means with a plethora of room decoration games available at our fingertips and easily downloadable for free from the online stores. These interior designing home design games allow aspiring interior designers (also gamers) to let out their creative sides, without depleting their energy and design their dream houses without spending a dime. No wonder then that home design games online have gained so much popularity.

Benefits of home design games

For starters, “you don’t have to wipe smudges from walls, pick up your husband’s socks or wipe down surfaces with disinfectant. It’s a sparkling clean, sun-drenched world” where despite limits on international travel, “you effortlessly hop between Sydney, Tokyo, Brussels, and Key West and the only stresses involve deciding between Taylor Burke Home and Apt2B.” ~ Leslie Katz

In an era where Marie Kondo is inspiring millions to tidy up and organize their homes, house design game apps make it easier than ever to see such results pronto. “A tidy home is a tidy mind and being able to escape instantly to a pristine virtual room is relaxing.” ~ Lewis Leong More so now. With many people struggling to make ends meet, and with the recent pandemic, room decoration games and fashion designer games online offer an opportunity to dream: they provide a form of wish fulfillment that’s free or inexpensive, and a laid-back form of escapism: one that’s unlikely to lose popularity any time soon.

These games also work to inspire those who can’t afford to redesign their real-life homes. Players can still achieve their materialistic and aspirational goals, albeit virtually. With no expectations, players are encouraged to explore and experiment.

Therefore, room makeover games are also educational. Players get to amplify their design skills and learn how to put together a room without having to spend real money to find out. They can understand how colors, patterns, and lighting work to enhance a given space. They pick up nifty design tips on how throw-rugs, a handful of assorted cushions, or rattan ottomans can lend a chic and bohemian touch all at the same time.

So are you ready to deck out that dream home without spending a dime? Head over to the Google Play Store or App Store and download Room Flip™ for free!

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