How to Add Wow! to Your Bedroom

Design Advise and Inspiration for your bedroom
Design Advise and Inspiration for your bedroom
Design advise and inspiration for your bedroom.

Does your bedroom resemble a walk-in wardrobe? Is the decor O.K. but the room looks ‘tired’ and dysfunctional? Does your bedroom look like this…..?

A disorganised bedroom requiring love and attention
A bedroom in much need of love and attention in all areas.

Your bedroom should be a refuge at the end of a busy day, somewhere peaceful with the feel good factor to help relax and induce sleep. It should also make you feel good in the morning, all are psychological factors in our subconsciousness and effect health and sleep.

The most important item is your bed, well, your mattress to be precise. You must ensure that it is giving you the correct lumbar support. Always try out the mattress before purchasing.

As your bed is probably the largest item of furniture in the room, it is the obvious focal point. Your eyes will naturally be drawn to the bed. Make it look inviting and gorgeous. A statement headboard can be just the thing you need to add the ‘Wow’ factor to your bedroom.

This is why here at Sarah Maidment Interiors, we are excited to launch our very own range of bespoke headboards. Our headboards are available in a range of sizes to suit either standard bed sizes, or made to measure. They can be wall or bed mounted if you have a divan bed.

 

Whether covered in a plain fabric with studs, or upholstered in a fabulous fabric to compliment your decor, our exclusive design will certainly ‘pack a punch’.

We custom make every order, so if you’re looking for a ‘designer’ headboard with extra height, a specific design or fabric of your choosing, then we will be more than happy to accommodate. The possibilities are endless! https://sminteriors.co.uk/Bespoke_Headboards_Bedheads.html

 

The cheapest way to achieve a boost  is with some new bedding. Some prefer plain and white bedding only; they choose to dress the bed by adding a throw or blanket and perhaps some cushions. I rarely add more than two cushions personally, otherwise they get thrown across the room by my husband. He finds the cushions irritating. You cannot please everyone!

If you are the sort of person who loves patterns and prints, just be careful to ensure that the colour and design compliment your existing colour scheme. If you’re planning to decorate the whole room, an eye-catching duvet cover can serve as a staring point for your new bedroom decor scheme.

 

Storage

There’s rarely enough storage for clothes in a bedroom, given the changeable climate of the U.K.

A large number of homes have free standing wardrobes, but built-in ones offer clever storage facilities and make better use of available space. Interior wardrobe lighting is important too, whether wired in LED sensor strip lights or self adhesive sensor lights. It does help find what your looking for! A ‘wash’ of lighting in the exterior creates ambience.

Built in wardrobes with external lighting
Built in wardrobes makes good use of all space. By ohinteriors.co.uk

Chests of Drawers provide great storage and can also double as a bedside cabinet if space allows – just ensure that the height of the chest of drawers is the correct height to your bed. This rule applies to bedside cabinets and tables too; you need to be able to easily access your morning tea, or water without spillage. These do not have to be matching. Add interest with different tables or drawers.

 

A vintage trunk, basket or ottoman at the foot of the bed is great for storing bedding and spare linens and frees up space in an airing cupboard. Ottoman beds are an ideal choice if space is tight for items not required on a frequent basis. A bedroom chair is useful, but all too often hidden under a pile of discarded clothes!

 

Lighting is crucial to get right. A bedroom requires several layers of light intended for different moods and uses. A good over head light is needed for cleaning ( and perhaps rummaging in your wardrobe if you don’t have internal lighting). A dimmer pendant light offers flexibility to add a softer light when required.

Bedroom lighting shown in layers.
Example of layered lighting in a bedroom. By lissyparker.com

Bedside tables and cabinet lamps add textural or patterned interest with the shade, which introduces another element into your rooms decor.  Ensure the base of the lampshade is at least shoulder height when sitting in bed to enable reading. A separate wall mounted reading light could be added too, such as an angle poise lamp which offers greater flexibility.

 

 

Good lighting on a dressing table to reflect light onto your face for make up application and hair drying is essential. This could be a dimmer light or nice lamp, whichever is your preference.

Flooring is a very personal choice.  Whether a fitted carpet, wooden floor boards or tiles;  rugs add both a luxury element and anchor the room.  One way to achieve this is by using small rugs placed each side of the bed, or one large rug placed centrally under the bed to add another decorative dimension and interest to your bedroom.

 

And so to bed….zzzzz

Want It Done By Christmas?

Bathroom Moodboard by designbykaty.com

On a recent site visit to a prospective client, who wanted a quote for their kitchen and bathroom installation, my husband who runs Random Task Plumbing asked what they were having and did they have any plans he could see. The client didn’t know what they wanted, other than for all the works to be completed by mid December, in time for Christmas. Bearing in mind that the client hadn’t yet exchanged contracts on the property and presently lived in another part of the country.

Firstly, a detailed quote is impossible to give if you only have a rough idea of what you want, or don’t know what you want at all. Also any tradesperson worth their salt, will have at least a 2 to 3 month lead time, especially leading up to Christmas. Whilst basic help and advice can be given to guide clients regarding types of showers suitable for their water systems and the feasibility  to move the loo to a different location (soil stacks are often forgotten by clients) and draw a scaled plan, most small tradespeople don’t have the time to offer a detailed design consultancy. The fixtures, fittings and finishings have to be chosen by you, the client. After all it’s your bathroom, kitchen etc. and it’s imperative that you love the finished results, it’s your home.

Bathroom Moodboard by designbykaty.com
Detailed Bathroom Moodboard by Designsbykaty.com

So before calling a tradespersons to quote, take time over your plans, keep revisiting them and show them to other people. Think about how you will use the space and how you want it to make you feel. If this is difficult for you, then an Interior Design consultancy is invaluable. For as little as £95.00 a design consultancy could save you a lot of time and possibly money too. Good interior design is about planning, not just about carefully coordinated fabric and paint swatches. This consultancy maybe all you need to set you off to implement yourself. If you require more help tailored to your specific needs, these can be accommodated too, regardless of budget. Of course everyone has budget.

First floor plans of a four bedroom house
You don’t need such detailed drawings unless major renovations are planned.

Interior Designers use local trade, craftspeople and suppliers and only recommend those whose work and people they trust. When deciding, look at reviews, ask to see previous completed work. Personality compatibility also is valuable – can you work with them?

I understand that you want everything ‘done’ and perfect for Christmas, but be realistic with your time scales. Even when you’ve decided on your plans, fixtures, fittings etc. There are supplier lead times to consider too. The last thing you want is a half-finished job over the festive season, especially if planning to have guests.

assembled cupboard carcass's
Kitchen install in progress not what you want at Christmas
After - Kitchen with island and glass partition wall and door to hall.
After – Kitchen with glass partition and door to hall

Once you have detailed plans, you can then invite local tradespeople to quote and provide approximate dates of availability. They will all be able to quote ‘from the same song sheet’, which makes price comparisons clearer. However, remember that cheaper isn’t always better, you often get what you pay for. Allow for a lead time on quotes being received too.

Tiling in progress in shower en-suite shower area
A half finished guest en-suite – not what you want when having guests
Completed Guest En- Suite
Completed Guest En- Suite

Plan the work in stages – what can be implemented and finished by your self-imposed Christmas deadline? Is this in the correct order of your work schedule? If so, fine. If not, then it’s far more beneficial to be patient and schedule the works for early in the New Year, thus eleviating the extra stress of Christmas and giving your home the consideration it deserves.

There’s  always next Christmas!

 

The Art of French Dressing

French inspired fireplace and mantle vignette Chateau Lartigolle
French inspired fireplace and mantle vignette Chateau Lartigolle
French inspired fire place and mantle vignette at Chateau Lartigolle

French Country-style evokes memories of holidays in rural France and the lifestyle many hanker after, simpler and pared back. French linens on beds, sack cloth cushions, delicate lace panels, shutters and sturdy, functional wooden furniture. However, you need not be a slave to replicate every detail to reproduce this style. Add some modern paintings and lighting as successfully married together at La Souqueto  Chambres D’ Hotes  http://lasouqueto.com/

This style is in stark contrast to excesses of King Louis X1V and the ‘Versailles’ heavily gilded ornate furniture and lavish furnishings (with a lifestyle to match!). French Baroque with grand chandeliers, heavy drapes embellished with brocades hung at large windows and around beds in grand palaces.

Ornate French bedroom
Heavily adorned French bedroom

This of course is different to Parisian homes, where space is generally at a premium. Chic, pared down, with a considered use of available square footage. Think of the famous words of Coco Chanel ‘Less is more’ which is true for interiors as well as fashion.

Then, of course, there is the French Chateau, which can be a mix of ornate furniture, chandeliers, Toile de Jouy fabric and wallpaper, distressed painted wall treatments all add to the atmosphere, to simple lime washed walls.

Before investing in gallons of white paint as a starting point, what about colour? Homes in warmer climates use white to brighten their dark shuttered rooms, but can appear ‘cold’ in more northern homes. Think of the fields of sunflowers and lavender, Monet’s use of colour at his home in Girverny.

Perhaps there are elements from the traditional French interior styles you like and dislike. Try mixing the items you like together, oversized chandeliers with rustic wooden furniture. Simple Roman blinds made from French linen edged with a brocade, picking out colours within the room for a cohesive scheme. Do you want to create a romantic French feel to your bedroom (boudoir!) with lace, Toile in greys and blues or French country kitchen?

Chateau La Lartigolle http://www.lartigolle.com/ has beautifully and successfully transformed into a chic boutique country house hotel using a mixture of dark and ‘sludgy’ colours on their interior walls as well as wallpaper. They’ve mixed traditional French style with antique, modern and vintage pieces from 1930’s armchairs to 1950’s side tables, wall art from the 1960’s, including Jimmy Hendrix and modern contemporary pieces. The Chateau creates a surprising eclectic mix which is warm, comfortable and very easy to live with. Ideas to inspire and perhaps steal?

Dark red walls old leather armchair with interesting accessories makes a cosy corner
A cosy corner for a quiet read.
Blue Bedroom at Chateau Latigolle
The Blue Bedroom at Chateau Latigolle is calming and understated.
Mixed Vintage furniture in Chateau Latigolle
Mixed vintage pieces create a comfortable eclectic interior
White wall clock modern and contemporary art pop out against a dark grey wall
Mixed styles work well together
Modern art with pearlescent paint refllects light on a dark wall
Pearlescent paint reflects light in a dark corner.
A glass vignette on a table
A glass vignette
A mantle Piece styled with blue glass ornaments books and bust
A beautifully styled mantle piece
Hearth and fireplace style with Venician mirror bust blue glass and Chinese vases
A mixture of styles and arrangements makes a stunning focal point.
Jimmy Hendrix hangs on wall in Chateau Latigolle
Jimmy Hendrix hung on a sitting room wall at Chateau Latigolle
A glass window vignette at Chateau Latigolle
Window Vignette
Grand staircase dressed with chandelier and modern prints
A grand staircase with chandelier and modern prints

Preparing Your Home For Selling

For Sale/Sold Sign by Zazzle
For Sale/Sold Sign by Zazzle
How long will it take to sell your home?

Spring is a popular time to market and hopefully sell properties, and once that decision has been made, you contact your local agent for a valuation. Agents valuations are based on similar properties to yours currently sold or for sale in the area.

Now, if you’ve lived in your home for many years maybe it  has become a little ‘tired’ or dated’, but would rather sell ‘as is’. Possibly at a lower selling price and taking longer to sell, rather than face doing any work, spending money, in the hope that a DIY enthusiast will see the potential and relish the challenge, some do, many people don’t see the potential or want to undertake the work.

You can ask your agent (if your home is tired or dated) for two valuations – ‘as is’ and ‘tidied up’. Depending on the individual agent, they may advise that it’s not worth spending any money or the effort, as the return will not out weigh the costs involved. Or they may be happy to advise on both scenarios. If the agent offers both marketing prices, you can work out your parameters of what you would be prepared or need to spend for the ‘added value’ and make an informed decision on whether you should implement the improvements or not.

Kitchens and bathrooms are two of the biggest influences on a sale. The view often being, don’t change it, as whoever moves in will rip it out and put in new. Possibly, either straight away, in time, or just don’t want the expense and hassle. Again, compare the ‘added’ value’ and costs, this will help you make your decision. Think about your target market: who is likely to want to buy your home? What will they be looking for?

Front path and door of Victorian house
Ensure the front of your home looks promising.

Whether or not you intend to carry out any updating, your home should still be prepared and ready to market for great photographs for the internet, brochures and actual viewings. Cleaning, especially bathrooms and kitchens, de clutter, windows should sparkle. De-personalise by packing away personal items (well you’re moving aren’t you?) so prospective purchasers can see how their belongings will fit in or not. Don’t be precious, be objective and try to see the house as a commodity rather than your home. If you find this difficult, ask friends ( however they may not be totally honest with you) Estate Agent or Home Staging Professional for their view and recommendations. Refresh garden containers with seasonal plants to brighten up dull corners of your outside space.

Case Study – Before and After of a ground floor flat which I completed last year for marketing and selling. The flat had become outdated and ‘tired’. This was the hardest job I think I’ve ever carried out, the flat had belonged to my dear mother.

The target market was an older individual or couple, perhaps downsizing or retiring, who would probably want to move straight in and not have any or very much to do.

Living Room

Working with a neutral palette to create a cohesive look in a small flat, all the rooms, including the paint work was painted the same colour. A new cream carpet was laid throughout. In the living room the 1960’s fire-place and surround was replaced with a smaller contemporary model. Although excess furniture and personal effects have been removed, we re-used some of the existing furniture and rearranged its layout.

Kitchen

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the ‘before’, of the kitchen, but the units were dark brown wood, beige work top and beige speckled tiles with an occasional fruit or vegetable tile – a 1980’s throwback. The units were in good condition and the design layout worked ergonomically, it was just that it looked dated.  Painting the cabinets an off white, replacing the work top and changing the tiled splash back to white metro in brick style made the kitchen much brighter, more contemporary and up to date.

Guest Bedroom

The guest bedroom was originally very cramped and cluttered. By removing the shelves, wash basin and tiled splash back and a single bed more space was created. Freshly decorated walls and cupboards which were fitted with new knobs, and a new fitted carpet laid. Again,  some of the original furniture and accessories were re used during the bedroom re-design.

Main Bedroom

Main Bedroom. The textured wall paper was removed, and the walls and woodwork were repaired and freshly painted in the same colour as the rest of the flat. The curtains and track were removed, leaving just the blind. The  furniture layout was rearranged, excess furniture was removed, and some items from other rooms were introduced. A new carpet was laid.

Shower Room

Small shower room
Shower Room

Although this work was done prior to the staging of the flat, it would have been necessary to include refurbishing the bathroom. The original pink bathroom suite was replaced with a large 1200 mm walk in shower, with room for a stool if required. The walls were tiled to full height on all walls. A vanity basin provides storage.  Extra storage ( not seen) was provided by a tall cabinet. The adjacent toilet has the same wall tiles and an extra high toilet was installed.

By investing time and money the property increased in marketing value by £35,000 and sold very quickly. But do your own sums, it’s all in the numbers!

Images by Sarah Maidment Interiors, Sign by Zazzle, Front door by rhsblog.co.uk Pots by http://www.etthem.se

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. But with property that goes out the window.

A well presented exterior entices the buyer to see more
A well present exterior says “I want to see more”

You’ve all heard about creating ‘kerb appeal’ to your home for selling purposes. In a tough, competitive market, how you present your property for sale can win or lose a prospective purchaser. A badly maintained exterior can deter prospective buyers and often reflects on the expectations of the interior.

Delightful frontage
I want to see more!

First impressions count. Here’s a few things to bear in mind;

  1. Make your home’s exterior appealing so viewers are eager to come through the door to see more.
  2. Ensure there is no peeling paint, and that UVPC is clean, as well as the windows. Clean and polish your front door, add a new door mat.
  3. Clear away all junk, broken pots etc. Push wheelie bins into an unobtrusive space, if possible.
  4. Tidy up borders, weed, cut back any over grown shrubs and trim hedges. Fill any gaps with inexpensive evergreen shrubs. Place a planter by the front door filled with seasonal plants.
  5. The same can be done with a rear garden, replacing or repairing any broken paving or fencing.
  6. Look at your garden as an outside room, an extension to your home. Place seating and a table to show how a garden can work for entertaining and enjoyment.
A place to sit and enjoy your outside space
A place to sit and enjoy your garden

Did you know that a well-presented garden can add up to 20% to your home’s value?

But a garden is not all about selling and adding value – a garden is for the enjoyment of the occupants.

Which garden to you think is the most amazing? Wales Online has recently run a property and garden awards competition in association with Waterstone Homes,  http://waterstonehomes.com/site/  The Welsh Garden of the Year  criteria was to be an outside space that’s unique, one we would admire and enjoy. The garden category was all about making something special from the outdoor space available, whatever its size.

Create a mood board for your exterior
A mood board for your garden and homes exterior by Thepapermulberry.blogspot.com

The NGS (National Garden Scheme) http://www.ngs.org.uk/gardens.aspx is an organisation which encourages people to open their gardens to the public, of which the proceeds from the entrance fee goes to charity. Some gardens also offer tea and cake – a bonus! It’s an opportunity to ask the owners about their gardens, and glean inspiration. Not everyone of course is brave enough to open their garden for public scrutiny, especially if a ‘Monty Don’ from Gardeners World type expert is among the visitors. Personally, I’m relieved when I spot ‘defects’ like couch grass or ground elder, it makes me feel better about my own gardening capabilities.

I spent one (yes, there was one) sunny June afternoon visiting open gardens in the small village where I live. The Old Rectory was the first stop; a flat lawn (for croquet perhaps?) was flanked one side with an old wall and a beautiful herbaceous border. Paths meandered into the kitchen garden with large greenhouse. Another path led to a large pond and tennis court. A Wisteria in full bloom, hung to the south facing Georgian façade of the house. There was a timeless, classic elegance to both the house and garden.

An herbaceous border blends with the house
An herbaceous border blends with the house image bygapphotos.com pinterest

Another garden was hidden behind a 1980’s home. My goodness me, I felt I was in a Chelsea Flower Show garden (and very relieved I hadn’t opened my own garden). It was beautifully designed in every conceivable way, from the layout to the planting schemes. The grass was a manicured, weedless perfection, and even the hostas were completely holeless! The winding path led to a wild flower meadow, awash with bees and butterflies, and continued to a super duper wooden gazebo.

A small cottage, whose garden was hidden behind a neatly clipped beech hedge was complete with climbing roses, clematis and small fish pond. A small gated access led to a raised vegetable plot and chicken coup. It was charming – the quintessential English cottage garden, who were serving cucumber sandwiches. Of course.

Raised veg beds and chicken coup
Raised beds and chicken coup image This Old House

In another garden there were bird tables, a fish pond – complete with fishing gnomes, with lots of places to sit and enjoy. It was a very ‘busy’ garden. I loved it, although not for me.

A delight was that each garden was an extension of the home it belonged to – a reflection of the style of the house, they went together. What I also observed, was how the gardens also reflected the personalities of the owners, much in the same way a pet or dress sense can.

But don’t just see gardening as an end goal or as a finished product to serve a purpose, it’s also about the journey. Last year the Chicago Tribune published an article on how a garden can teach you creativity, spirituality and more. You can read it here; http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/home/sc-fam-0414-creativity-gardening-20150407-story.html

It’s not only at Glastonbury that Jo Whiley, (presenter on BBC Radio 2 and Glastonbury) tackles mud in her wellies. Jo is as passionate about her garden as she is music. “Gardening is my sanity” Jo said in an article in an article in The Sunday Times http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/access-all-acres-with-jo-whiley-x3xl7lf9g

Hopefully this has encouraged you to dust off the trowel and unearth your creativity which has been lying deep beneath the soil. After all, gardens are a space to be enjoyed by you, your friends and family. A place of peace, reflection or ‘just to be’.

It feels apt to end with the final line from the film adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden;

“The garden is always open now. Open, and awake, and alive. If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden”.

Now open up your secret garden.

Design Tips by daviddomoney.com
Design tips to help you by Daviddomoney.com

 

Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House (18) House & Garden

Colour Palate Mood Board

 

Colour Palate Mood Board
Colour Palate Mood Board

The first floor has now been finished, apart from the wardrobes waiting to be fitted, and carpets laid. Laying the carpets will be the final job, as most of the ground floor is laid with concrete, which creates copious amounts of dust, which is walked everywhere.

The main building contractors have finished their work, and moved onto other jobs. It was very quiet at the house most days, unless the electrician, tilers or plumbers arrived to work on smaller outstanding jobs.

My mother, sadly passed away in August. Although expected, it  is a very sad and difficult time, with lots to do and sort out. Hence, work on the house has been intermittent.

The garden continued to grow, the lawn and lots of weeds in the beds. We managed to keep the grass down, but the weeds not. We should have laid black plastic over the borders when freshly dug with the digger weeks ago, to keep the weeds at bay. This would’ve saved hours of back breaking digging later. Someone told me their story when faced with an over grown garden, they decided to save on the digging and sprayed the whole area with weed killer. They didn’t realize that weed killer also kills plants and takes a long time for the ground to recover. They now have to dig out the existing earth and replace with new top soil.

I had a master plan for the border planting, lots of clipped bay and box trees, lavender, alliums and white hydrangers. This idea changed dramatically when I saw the price of plants and shrubs at local Nurseries and garden centres. Having two large borders measuring 3 m x  6.5 m in the rear and a front boarder to fill, and the cost of purchasing the more mature specimens to add impact, was not an option. I did consider more turf and less border, however, this was too much of a compromise to the design. This problem could have been eleviated had the garden clearance people not been so earnest, and cut back mature specimens instead of removing them!

I chanced upon end of season plant sales in local DIY and garden centres, some of which were half price or less, so spent several days filling my car with bargain perennial plants and shrubs. I selected plants which were complimentary or toning in colour, and offered different textures ( a mood board for the garden) and bought several of the same plants to group together, again to add impact. I also chose according to the aspect the plant preferred, shady, full sun etc. but did not buy a soil sample testing kit to find out if the soil was acidic or alkali as advised by a nurseryman. I guessed it was more acidic due to the Azelia and Rhododendron which had once been prolific in the garden, but alas now gone. The images below, I have used as inspiration, unfortunately this is not what my present garden looks like- but am working on it.

The terrace is now full of plants waiting to be planted, but was faced with two big borders to clear of weeds first. It was a daunting prospect. We covered one border with black plastic, which we hoped would begin to kill some of the weeds, whilst  we worked on the other bed. New top soil had been put down, but underneath lurked bricks, stones and various builders rubbish and deep rooted weeds. It was back breaking work, and could only be done in stages. Well rotted compost should have been added and then dug well in, prior to planting, and Gardener’s World would’ve  been disappointed in us, but they have a team of strong people to do this for them! As a compromise I put compost at the roots of the plants whilst planting and watered in. In such a large garden, the plants look a little lost, with large gaps in between them. This is to allow for growing space. I have to be patient. Gardens mature and evolve over time. The electrician has laid armoured cable to lights which will high-light some of the retained mature trees and focal points in one bed (achieved by a large pot with a tall shrub for impact). These lights have yet to be connected, but will add another dimension to the garden.

The front border had to be attacked with a pick axe (not by me I hasten to add) because it was so dry and compacted. This needless to say was also full of bricks, blocks and stones needing to be removed. A retaining border was made from sleepers and bolted together. Some daffodil bulbs have been put in between the newly planted shrubs and plants.

Tiles have now been laid of the floor on the entrance hall with an area left for a sunken foot mat. The cloakroom floor has also been tiled, which enables us to finish installing the basin and loo. The original cast iron cistern has been stripped and spray painted and placed in situ. I think it looks great.

Sourcing suitable engineered wooden flooring has been difficult. Samples, which looked fine on web sites, when arrive, are either too dark or too shiny, so they can resemble laminate. Other considerations are the depth of the top wood veneer, and of course price. Large DIY stores had disappointingly little choice, and in some cases were more expensive than smaller specialist suppliers. We’re still searching.

Engineered wood flooring samples
Engineered wood flooring samples

We are still trying to confirm a date with the multi- fuel  burner installers to return to complete the outside flue. Because they were so busy, they installed the internal flue and stove some months ago so we could continue with building the hearth and internal works. It was agreed to contact them to complete the job when less busy. Clearly, they’re still busy, and despite numerous texts and messages are too busy to reply.

The partitions and doors have arrived, and the carpenter has fitted them. Although needing staining , then glass fitting, they look great.

The wooden partitions in the workshop
The partitions in the workshop

 

Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House (15 ) Getting Plastered!

The garden path being laid down the garden
The path being laid down the garden

Each trade moves projects forward, but when the plasterers arrive with their skill ( along with the mess) covering the walls, suddenly rooms begin to take shape. Our plasterers have also rendered round the exterior windows, doors and block work. Once completed and dry, we were itching to stabilize and then paint the render, to tidy up the exterior a little after looking so sad for so long. This won’t be fully completed until the side boiler/ mud room, porch and garage have been finished.

Once the plaster was dry the walls were ready to be painted with a ‘mist’ coat, this being a watered down trade white emulsion. Applying this base coat to new plastered walls will save on the finished emulsion paint coat required due to the porousness of bare plaster. It also shows up imperfections in the plaster which can be filled and sanded if necessary, leaving a smooth even surface for the final coats of your chosen colour. Also, if having metal light sockets and switches, the base mist coat will prevent moisture transgressing and causing discolouration  after the second fix electrics. The house suddenly became lighter and brighter. The ceilings had two coats of their final colour  but just one coat on the walls as the skirting boards have yet to be fixed in some rooms. I would wait for the comments from the different trades as they viewed my chosen colours’ being applied, which is mainly a neutral palette of soft greys. “What colour  do you call that”? They would ask. “Corpse Dick” I would reply. Taken aback I explained and showed them my niece’s comedy sketch about Farrow and Ball   http://www.farrow-ball.com/colours/paint/fcp-category/list and interior designers. https://sinteriors.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=161087&action=edit

Other colours chosen to prevent the house from appearing too bland are similar to the popular choices from the 1930s’, which I found under the layers of wallpaper and can be bought from many paint companies.

Craig and Rose available at B and Q, Crown, Dulux, Little Greene Paint, Fired Earth, and of course Farrow and Ball, to name a few. One of which was called ‘Fresh Plaster,’ from Craig and Rose, which of course caused amusement and comments from the plasterers. I have used this colour in a north – facing room as it’s a warm colour. Remember, ceilings do not have to be white. In some cases this can cause the wall colour to look different than you intended. The ceiling can be painted the same colour as the walls, giving the appearance of a higher ceiling. This also makes the cutting in (where the walls meet the ceiling) a lot easier. If you have a hall or landing with a lot of doors, which don’t have any architectural appeal, by painting the same colour as the walls the appearance is less like a corridor because the doors blend into the walls. This is a popular current trend, but ensure that an eggshell, or paint specifically for woodwork finish is used and available in the same colour as the emulsion  Not all paint manufacturers produce all finishes in all colours’.

My biggest painting challenge was the Master Bedroom with its high vaulted ceiling. I had to climb a ladder onto a tower to enable me to reach the ceiling with the roller. I then had to climb down and ask someone strong to move the tower along a little, only to climb up again and paint the next area of ceiling. Progress was slow, over several days, but who needs a gym with all that exercise? Being such a large room I needed gallons of paint and good natural day light as the electrics had not yet been connected. Once completed and the paint dry, some of the walls appeared to be patchy and slightly different colours. This was due to different batches of paint of the same colour, despite my order for all the paint made at the same time. The only way to rectify this was to repaint the wall with a final coat of the same batch number paint. I must say I was very relieved to escape this room and move onto the next!

A tower used to reach the ceiling
A tower used to reach the ceiling

Our neighbour came round one afternoon, concerned about the fence boandary  and his hedge, wishing to see how we had dealt with it, since laying our new garden path alongside the boundary. The ancient, now rusted wire fence and remains of the wooden posts – hidden for decades behind over grown shrubs and trees was still there, where it had always been. He wanted to ensure that we knew where his boundary was, up to the remains of wire fence, and that the hedge was his. The wooden fence, such as it was and what remained of it was rotten and leaning inwards towards our garden due to his overgrown hedge and would need to be cut back before a new fence could be erected ( by us). This was pointed out to him, but he didn’t cut it back, he said ” as it didn’t effect him”. So we cut out the problem branches and returned the debris as it belonged to him, and our skip was already full.

In the main sitting room the new fireplace wall was divided into three equal sections. The centre section being left as bare plaster ready for the bricks which would be laid behind the multi- fuel stove. The two side sections were painted in. This was a compromise to the completed brick wall. Great discussions on the final design of the fireplace ensued. The finished height of the hearth ( so logs could be stored underneath) and the size of the multi fuel stove. Due to the volume of the room we only required a stove with a 5 kW out put, to avoid cooking ourselves. However, we wondered if the size of the stove would look too small in the room. Pencil mark measurements were made on the plaster and we painted a ‘stove’ in situ to visualise the space. The original quote we received from a company we had used before was very high, not due to the stove itself, but for the building of the hearth with a granite top and flue installation. They were not forthcoming or helpful when I explained I just wanted the stove and flue installed. Our builders are very caperble of building the hearth design with bricks, and making the hearth from cast concrete. This was the finished look I wanted to achieve. The hearth was constructed in a wooden frame and strengthened with steel wire. Coloured concrete was poured into the frame and left to set. Once dried and set it was removed from the frame and lifted into place by four men and secured. It looks amazing and was achieved at a fraction of the cost of granite. We sourced the multi fuel stove and flu from another company and installed by approved fitters. The long established installers thought the hearth was solid York Stone and couldn’t believe it was cast concrete.

The company who made our steel lintels also make a small selection of iron work railings,  and made to measure the Juliete balcony for the Master Bedroom. I was glad once they had installed this, so I could open the French doors and let some fresh air in and finish off the rear elevation.

Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House (13) Unforeseen Challenges

Front elevation with tiled roof
Front elevation with tiled roof

However well thought out and planned, unforeseen problems can arise during the execution of the works. It wasn’t until we reached roof level, when we had found a carpenter, accepted his quote, booked him in and about to order the joists, that the builders noticed a discrepancy with the architects drawings, that didn’t make sense. They looked at the engineers drawings and calculations and although different to the architects, didn’t work either. The roof structure was quite complicated, breaking into the existing, building around the existing chimney stack and creating gully’s.During a site meeting the builder suggested removing the chimney stack. This would save time and money and make the roof construction easier. The original brick tied fireplace in the small sitting room would probably rarely be lit, if ever, be used as an open fire. We could also remove the chimney breast wall in the bedroom above making it bigger and a less awkward shape.

The chimney breast was removed from the bedroom, which solved twp problems at once.
The chimney breast was removed from the bedroom, which solved twp problems at once.

The builder and carpenter worked out the calculations accordingly. Interesting though, you pay architects and engineers a lot of money for their services, and the experienced builders and trades notice the errors and sort out the problems.

The master bedroom is having a vaulted ceiling, so two steel beams had to be hoisted and maneuvered by a crane over the house into place. It was exciting to watch. I have to say how clever builders and trades people are, they think ahead. Piles of raw materials stacked ready to be made into a home.

The rear external wall from the existing house into the extension (master bedroom)  has been knocked through. However, the floor levels are slightly different. This could not be foreseen as the floor in the exisitng bedroom slopes very slightly. It is not enough to form a step, it’s more of a ‘trip’. Ideas and suggestions have been discussed, from laying more chipboard flooring on the extension floor, to lifting the original bedroom floor which slightly at one end. A decision hasn’t been decided, but needs to be made soon.

The roofers have arrived and we now have a roof! We were lucky with the weather whilst the work was in progress. The roof tiles we salvaged from the garage have been re- used at the front, which seamlessly matches the existing. Reclaimed tiles have been used elsewhere to blend in too. Whilst the roofers were tiling the roof, the rear garden was leveled , a crushed concrete base at the bottom of the garden for a patio area and path was laid half way down the garden.  Indian Sandstone slabs have been laid on top of the crushed concrete. This has been done now as the rear garden is accessible with a digger, prior to the small side mud and plant room being built at the side of the house. Raised vegetable beds constructed from wooden sleepers have been laid and filled with top soil.  Turf has been laid from the bottom of the garden, three quarters of the way to the house. No point in doing any more until the rear work on the house has been completed – it would get ruined. I always think that the transformation of a garden when the turf has been laid is like laying a new carpet in a freshly finished room, it completes it.

We are not in the ‘dry’ yet though, due to the windows. This has been quite a marathon. Architects drawings and sizes were sent to different companies for quotes. Some companies could supply the windows but the roof lanterns and sloping glass would have to be sourced from a different company. Some companies were helpful asking questions we hadn’t considered about ‘openings’ to meet building fire regulations and handle choices. Some companies just returned a quote without asking these important points or offering ideas, a little indifferent. The quotes varied too by several thousand pounds. However, the cost of our preferred  aluminium windows is prohibitively expensive.  One company came to measure the finished apertures, and then asked me which window cills I wanted, tile creasing’s or oak, (£106.00 per metre plus vat for oak). We assumed, as no one had mentioned it before that the cills would be aluminium. This was an extra cost on top of the window quote, and to be honest why have maintenance free windows with wooden cills which require maintenance? Tiles would be more durable, but the materials and labour costs still have to be added to the overall budget for the windows. Spending such a large proportion of the budget on the windows is not an option. The bi-fold doors, roof lantern and sloping roof will be aluminium for strength, but the windows will be UVPC. All windows and doors will be a dark grey RAL ( a universal colour chart chart in the industry) 7016. The window style will be as near as possible to the original Crittal window style to keep the character of the house. We have instructed a local family run company who manufacture and install the windows themselves. This way we have more flexibility in the required design.

The huge steel beam supporting the bi-fold doors and roof glass has been a sticking point. There are no details on the architects drawings showing how this should be finished to take the doors and glass. The architect, when asked for details explained that he had’t been asked for them, and would happily supply them for an extra fee! I have asked our structural engineer instead to provide the details. The builders can then do the necessary works for the window company to measure the apertures and make. As stated before, window companies will only start making the windows when the aperture is finished. This causes problems removing existing windows where the aperture is changing with security and the elements. Whilst the scaffolding is up and before the lower roof is built the soffits and fascias have been put on and the rendering applied. What a difference covering the block work makes. It is beginning to look like one house, at the back at least. Of course the biggest transformation will be when the windows go in.

Planning Ahead – Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House

Present front elevation of the house. This is about to change.
Present front elevation of the house. This is about to change.

We have now received planning approval for our extension. This is great news, but has not been without changes to the original plans. The Planning office objected to the position of the boundary wall in relation to our neigbours, and wanted it bought in by at least a metre. Our plans had been based on the existing boundary, where the garage now stands which has stood in this position since it was built in the 1930’s. This was no longer acceptable. Our architects amended the plans by moving the side elevation in by one metre, but elongated the rear dimensions, so as not to compromise on the design. This was accepted by the planners. Sometimes compromises have to be made. We are now just waiting for our architects to complete the Building Regulation drawings.

We received a letter from our neigbour, from whose boundary we had to build away from, expressing their concerns, and asking about the Party Wall Agreement. I have replied, stating that an Agreement will be drawn up, and that every effort will be made to avoid too much disruption to her whilst the work is being carried out. Good communication is essential concerning all parties to try and avoid conflicts.

Now we have actual scaled drawings, we have been able to plan the kitchen and bathroom layouts, as well as the electrical schematics to be put on the working drawings. Our landscaping plans have been roughly sketched out but not drawn to scale as yet. These drawings need to be done now to allow for the exterior lighting and power points to to be laid in the right positions at the right time during the work and not to be treated as an after thought, retro fitting can be expensive. Also positions of outside taps etc. need to be thought about and planned. These drawings will then be sent to contractors for quotes.

In the meantime the bathroom and kitchen have been stripped out ready for internal wall removal in the existing layout. Unfortunately one of the original basins I wanted to re use was cracked, so had to be skipped. All other salvageable items are now stored safely off site. We had hoped that these internal alterations would have been done by now to push the project on, but builders would prefer to carry out all the work in one go. Our scheduled start date on site is the first working day in the new year, so lots to plan now.

Whilst away on holiday lots of ideas have been gathered from the hotel we stayed in. Inspiration and ideas can be gleaned from everywhere to either copy or adapt to your needs accordingly. The hotel had been architecturally  designed to blend in with it’s location. The dining rooms, bedrooms, bars and lounge areas have been decorated in a French Colonial style, which suited the buildings, setting  and the islands history which was on a beach in Mauritius. There were lots of ideas, not only for the restoration of our 1930’s house, but also for other projects.

The  flooring in the main areas impressed me. It had been laid with a charcoal coloured polished concrete, and marked with lines to imitate over sized stone slabs or tiles. This choice of flooring is ideal for ‘hardworking areas’ in a home and relatively easy to achieve if laying a new solid screed floor. With under floor heating laid beneath the finished concrete layer to prevent it feeling cold in the winter. Concrete is an adaptable medium which can be coloured and patterned to imitate tiles and wood. The same concrete and finish can be laid on a terrace or patio thereby continuing the flow from the inside to out. If you have a large outside space, you could  add interest by creating zones for eating by putting a different pattern in the concrete or mixing with decking or slabs. There is a decking material made from bamboo and resin which is available in different colours’, and is a sustainable product which lasts longer and is fairly maintenance free, which is worth looking at if considering a decked area. I have found conflicting information regarding the costs per square meter of concrete floors. Some sites state that it is cheaper than tiling others say it’s more expensive, so shop around to find the best deals. For more information go to  http://www.madaboutthehouse.com/should-i-have-polished-concrete-floors/   So it is difficult to compare with the cost of laying porcelain tiles, which is the cost of the tiles plus labour of between £30 to £40 per square meter. Another material which is eco friendly can be found from http://www.concreateflooring.co.uk

Our hotel room had a small courtyard partially covered with a wooden pergoda with a glass roof and greenery. Something similar to this I feel needs to be erected at the rear of our 1930’s house from our dining room. This elevation faces due south and needs shade on hot summer days. It would also provide a structure for lighting for outside dining. A glass roof of course would be unsuitable due to the ‘greenhouse effect’. A solid roof would make the interior too dark. Greenery such as a wisteria or grape vine look lovely, but can take years to mature. Some pergolas have canvas covers which can be operated manually or automatically when cover is required. This option provides the flexibility needed for the English summer, especially if the canvas cover is water proof! http://www.shadefxcanopies.com/blog/

Some images are from Pinterest.

Ideas and Advice on Interior Design – All Done in the Best Possible Taste!

Ralph Lauren Home
Ralph Lauren Home

We all do it,  pour over beautiful photographs of interiors in magazines or watch the home improvement programmes on T.V. longing to recreate the same in our own homes. You perhaps feel inspired even, but then you look around your own interiors with dismay, the mis-matched furniture bought or given over the years, the cheap blind at the window having seen better days, the decor looking tired or dated. Our meagre budget prevents throwing everything out and starting again from scratch. View this as a positive thing, homes evolve and tell stories about our lives and reflect personalities.

There is no such thing as good or bad taste,  it’s your taste, and I believe in adapting and recycling your present home. If you don’t know where to start or what your taste and style is, an Interior Designer’s job there is to help you. A professional does not have their own style to dictate to you, their first job is to help you discover your own style and interpret it into your own home.

Below, I have some listed points which I hope will help you.

1. Choose an item you already own and love and such as a rug,  a painting or  an item of furniture  to use as a starting point.

2. Don’t rush the process. Put your own mood board together consisting of those drooled over magazine photograph’s, swatch’s of fabrics and floor samples you like. This helps you focus on your taste, style and how you can interpret the look you want with what you already own.

Grey Bureau with wallpaper and fabric swatches - Mood Board
Grey Bureau with wallpaper and fabric swatches – Mood Board

3. Up-cycle old furniture by all means, paint is the great transformer. My husband often asks me that if he stands still long enough will I paint him too. Well I might!  But don’t apply paint to a beautiful antique piece and replace the original handles with cheap new ones. An antique can add interest to the room. If you really dislike it, then sell it and use the proceeds towards something else for the room.

A painted Gustavian finished cupboard from Pinterest
A painted Gustavian finished cupboard from Pinterest

4. Edit your room by removing items and pare down your displays for more impact. Less is more, when applied correctly.

5. Start with a base colour. Take the ‘little black dress’ for example. You can dress it up or down, layer it, add different colours and accessories according to the seasons. use this as a guide for your rooms, the same rules apply.

6. Don’t be afraid of colour. If you like colour then use it. Opting for safe neutrals will not necessarily bring you joy. Paint one wall as a focal point, adding cushions and throws to add punches of colour.  Colour can lift your spirits.

7. Badly hung wallpaper or badly painted rooms compromise the finished effect, so take time and care over this.

8. Poor lighting is detrimental to the feel of a room. Lighting is an intrinsic part of the room. Use dimmer switches and table lamps for flexible lighting schemes.

9. If new lampshades are not an option, cover your existing shades with wallpaper or fabric remnants.

10. Change the bedcover in your bedroom, it’s the biggest feature and can alone can make a huge difference.

Changing your bedding can instantly change the style and mood of your bedroom.
Changing your bedding can instantly change the style and mood of your bedroom.

11. Don’t just go with the pack. If you want fitted carpet instead of wooden flooring – go with it.

12. Try re-arranging your furniture. Either measure the room first and plot on paper to make sure it will fit, or use masking tape on the floor. This avoids unnecessarily moving heavy furniture.

13. Add a vase of flowers or plants.

14. Display a collection you own on a wall or shelves.

Successful interiors make you feel relaxed, ‘at home’. No one wants to live in a museum, show home or bland box. So whether it’s  Ralph Lauren, Conran, or Cath Kidston inspired, it is your home and it should reflect the way you like to live and be as individual as you are.

In the famous words of William Morris

William Morris Quote
William Morris Quote

All picture’s other than my own are from Pinterest.