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!

 

Which Decade Does Your Home Reflect?

Morris and Co New Collection

Did you move into your present home some years ago, decorating and furnishing it up to date fixtures, fittings with enthusiasm and sat back and enjoyed since? How many years ago?

Now, sit back, look at your home objectively – is it looking ‘tired’ a little worse for wear? Does it look slightly ‘dated’? Be honest. It’s easy to settle into a comfortable living way of life. You’ve modernised, decorated and furnished it all once, why do it again? Because it ages you, puts you right into a certain decade, which decade is your home from? So unless you are deliberately trying to recreate a certain era or decade in your home, visit http://www.geffrye-museum.org.uk/  it needs changing.

Alms House Interior Geffrye Museum
Alms House Interior Geffrye Museum

Inspiration and ideas from previous decades can successfully be incorporated into present interiors and are often used as research for paint, paper and fabric design companies. Morris and Co https://www.william-morris.co.uk/shop/new-collections/

Morris and Co New Collection
Inspiration from the past. Morris and Co

In the late 70’s and early 80’s the trend was for stripped pine. Antique pieces are still acceptable, (however, the Victorians would never have had their cheap pine furniture on show, and it would have been painted or stained to look like mahogany or hidden below stairs). The more modern pine pieces – I use this term loosely, turn an orange colour over time and not only look awful but are dated. Same is to be said of heavy dark furniture popular from the Victorians to the 1940’s.

Before and after painted pine funiture
Update your existing furniture with paint.Image sweetsmith.com

 

Before discarding the usually well made, real wood furniture for flat pack modern pieces, consider updating your existing furniture with paint – unless of course you have a budget for a better quality product. Furniture can be transformed with paint. Do check though before painting, that the item of furniture is not a valuable piece.

 

Kitchens are a huge investment and if yours is well planned and works well  few changes to update it maybe all that it requires.

Doors- Again these can be painted and swap the handles and knobs with new ones.

Work Tops – Replace with new to blend in with your new door fronts.

Splash Backs – Remove the tiles if they are from a decade you wish to move on from, and replace with specialist glass or a contemporary tile design.

Flooring – Perhaps lay new vinyl if the existing is worn, with an up to date design to compliment the other changes made. If floor tiles are dated, remove them and lay new. This is more expensive and more difficult if they are laid under the existing fitted cabinets. Never lay tiles over tiles, you’re asking for trouble with cracking and movement. If the tiles are acceptable, and you wish to keep them, choose cabinet and work top colours to compliment the floor. Using specialist floor paint is also an option, can work well if done properly. Hang a new blind, and add some fresh accessories and tea towels.

Walls- Unless you live in a beautiful Victorian house wall paper borders are a no, no. So are dado and picture rails stained a mahogany colour. This is another 80’s hangover.

Image example of dado rail in period home
Painted dado and picture rails in a period home Image Pinterest

Decoration – If you love your paintings, pictures and prints try re framing them. The difference in using a double mount and new frame will not only enhance the art work but also your room. Hang pictures in groups either by subject matter or in matching frames for an eye catching display. Do not hang them as in the 70’s in a triangular mode across the wall, or too high.

Flooring – No swirly carpets – sorry. People use this description when describing a house in need of an update ‘All swirly  carpets’ and people understand what the house is like, dated. Swirly carpets can also compete with the rest of the furnishings.

West Indian Front Room
Everything is competing with each other Image by Studio International.com

Have you got wood underneath  the existing carpet that is worth exposing, then lay a   large rug for warmth in colours to complement your other furnishings? If carpet is preferred a plain neutral carpet usually works best in the majority of standard size homes as it makes the rooms appear larger.

Lighting– It’s fine if you live in a period property or re- creating a particular decade style because you like it, otherwise try changing the shades and lamps to a more contemporary style. Florescent strips in the kitchen offer great light, but its unforgiving and provides little ambience. Try changing the strip to a budget friendly track system. The adjustability of the spots makes it easy to aim the light where its most needed.

Now get into a decade where you and your home belong be it traditional, classic or contemporary.

Bathrooms can be more tricky to update without major work. However, if the layout works well, update with new tiles and flooring. Ditch the carpet for a start! It’s a far better job if the old tiles are removed prior to laying new, especially when tiling down to a bath, basin and shower. However if you have a plaster board wall, this may come away with the old tiles in places, which will need to be repaired before tiling. This is not a quick update job. If storage is a problem, try replacing your pedestal basin with a vanity unit and basin, and add a mirrored cabinet above it. Hang a new blind and add new towels to compliment the room.

Now which decade does your home reflect?

Images from annesage.com, hative, HousetoHome,Geffrye Museum,Little Greene Paint

 

 

 

 

 

Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House – As the Dust Settles

After - The completed front elevation of a 1930's house

As extensions begin to settle, and fresh plaster dries out, cracks annoyingly appear in your newly painted rooms and skirting boards will move slightly. One of the most time consuming things on a major renovation project is the snagging. How often have you gone round the house with a bowl of mixed filler, filling in accidental knocks (leave settlement cracks alone for at least six months – they will return or get bigger) odd scratches and holes, to find you’ve mixed up far too much filler. You dispose of the excess filler, only to discover more holes! These of course have to be sanded smooth and touched in with a little matching paint. We have an assortment of paint pots, brushes, filler and sandpaper stacked in one room specifically for this purpose. I will be very glad when these can be stored on shelves in the garage. It’s a good idea to keep the paint used in case of small minor repairs required at a later date.

Snagging goes hand in hand with what I term as ‘The Builders’ Clean’. This is a mega clean. Paint splashes on windows, doors and frames need to be removed with either a small amount of solvent (if UVPC frames) and scraped gently off glass with a razor blade to avoid scratching the glass. This is prior to actually cleaning the windows. The dust will continue to settle and reappear despite your best efforts for some time. However, it’s surprising what a huge improvement these small repairs and cleaning make to the finished house – it actually looks finished.

It wasn't as bad as Miss Havisham's house in Great Expectations
Too be honest, it wasn’t as bad a this!

Finally, we were ready to lay the carpets to the first floor bedrooms, landing and stairs. I chose a plain grey carpet for all these spaces, creating a cohesive look. Grey is a wonderful neutral colour which can be teamed successfully with many other colours, which enables individual character and style for each room. Once the carpets go down, you really feel that the house is almost finished. I was also very pleased to see the back of the dusty floorboards (despite the repeated vacuuming) and noisy stairs. The carpet came from a nationwide carpet shop, who use subcontract fitters. Although we had quite a large area requiring new gripper, underlay and carpet fitting, the rooms were void of furniture, so it made the job a lot easier and quicker. However, I was disappointed to discover that the fitters don’t dispose of the waste and cut offs. They simply bag it up for the customer to dispose of. I have a skip, but what about everyone else? Another trip to the tidy tip? It would be even worse if you had old carpets to remove prior to fitting the new.

The rooms looked much better having carpet, and would have looked amazing if the fitters had bothered to vacuum the carpets before rushing off. There was fluff everywhere, which was also floating around as ‘tumble weed’ downstairs. What happened to pride in your job, leaving looking as best you can? As I was vacuuming the carpet, I noticed in several places that the paint on the skirting board had been damaged by the carpet fitter’s tools. More snagging!

The Sonos System has been connected to the speakers – we have music! Needless to say that my husband and son have enjoyed ‘playing’ with the radio and music selections in different rooms. We have had to have boosters fitted in a few rooms though, due to the poor broad band service speeds available. BT are currently advertising fibre optic service on the television. Why are they advertising a service which is unavailable to so many people?

I have recently received a letter from the local council notifying me that I’m now liable for the Empty Home Council Tax Premium. The council explained that it is one of their priorities to increase the amount of available and affordable housing in the borough. Councillors have introduced this council tax premium for properties which have been unoccupied and unfurnished for two years or more to encourage empty homes back into use. They didn’t specify exactly how much more I had to pay, only that the increased charge would be 150% of full council tax for the property.

The house, when purchased was uninhabitable, and we received six months levy on council tax charges. During this time we had plans drawn up and submitted to the local council for planning permission (permission took twelve weeks) then we had to submit drawings to building control, which took another month, all before we could actually commence work, which took another six months before being habitable – just, (although not finished). Since the initial six month levy period, we have been paying the full council tax charges, despite being unable to move into the house, not until my present house has sold. I can understand and appreciate the councils intentions of encouraging occupancy of empty homes due to the housing shortage, but not all circumstances are the same. The extra council tax was certainly not in our budget or even contingency. Allow for it in your project!

image
Useful category for filing purposes

Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House – Wind in the Willows

Mole from Kenneth Graham's Wind in the Willows

 

 

The wind in our willow and the only mole was ‘Mole’s Breath’ by Farrow and Ball.

We were very upset one morning looking down the garden. The whole of the lawn was covered with a fallen tree, battered by the wind from a storm the previous night. The tree had been a magnificent weeping willow and we installed a light especially highlight it when dark, with plans for a shaded seating area below its boughs.  Now all that remains is a broken stump – two thirds of the original size, not quite the ambience I had envisaged.  The willow had been key to the garden design. I really miss that tree.

 

Luckily the tree had not fallen on either our or our neighbours shed, however, it had to be cleared and removed as soon as possible so as not to damage the lawn further. Another huge job which took several days.  The tree had to be cut into manageable pieces to move it – logs for the multi-fuel stove, smaller twigs, branches and leaves. This was done in the relentless pouring rain. We had toyed about making a willow fence which was a nice idea but we really don’t have the time, know how or inclination.

A willow fence looks lovely in a garden
Making a willow fence from our pile of debris was beyond my caperbilities!

We hired a shredder so the smaller pieces could then be used as a mulch on the borders to help keep the weeds down. Its been so mild this winter they were continuing to sprout, along with the lawn. But, instead of raking the mulch over the borders my husband placed small neat piles and I now have what looks like termite mounds (or mole hills for that matter) all over the borders.

 

I had applied one coat of deep grey paint to a wall in the study, behind the original brick fireplace some months ago, prior to the wooden floor being laid.  Unfortunately it had dried in patches of lighter and darker tones, despite the wall having been prepped with a mist coat of paint over the bare dried plaster. I thought it was just a dodgy tin of paint although bought from a reputable company. My husband said it was the way I had painted it? –  I purchased another tin of exactly the same paint, and this time my husband painted the same wall. This also dried in patches. He applied a second coat, but with the same results. Dark at the edges where applied ‘cut in’ with a brush and around sockets, light where applied with a roller, and lighter still showing the outline of the plasterers mesh.

 

I abandoned this make of paint and purchased Farrow and Ball’s Mole’s Breath – being a similar colour to my original choice. http://www.farrow-ball.com/mole’s-breath//farrow-ball/fcp-product/100276    One coat of paint was applied and dried perfectly. Having already experienced problems with patchy and colour differentials in the master bedroom, I felt the company should be told about the problems with their product. After several weeks of email exchanges containing pictures, receipts of proof of purchase and batch numbers I received a refund for the two faulty tins of paint and a £5.00 gift voucher for my trouble. This hardly covers the time and expense of repeated wall painting. I just hope that the paint product problems will be investigated by the company concerned and rectified.

 

Farrow and Ball – Mole’s Breath dried uniformly and a great finish.

The wood flooring has now been laid to the ground floor. What a difference it has made to the whole house. Not only covering up dusty concrete floors, but means we can now fix the architraves and skirting boards to the walls. These can now be prepped for painting and a final coat of paint applied to the ground floor walls.

 

Although mild for the season, the underfloor heating has been switched on low to gradually acclimatise the wooden floor. This will swell and contact, as will some of the doors, which may need some adjustment.

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

 

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.

Renovation of a 1930’s House – Planning the Design – Kitchen

Kitchen design mood board for Modern Contrystyle from pinterest
Kitchen design mood board for Modern Countrystyle. Image from Pinterest

The old adage “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” is true. Careful planning is the key to a successful and required outcome. However, another saying ” The best laid plans of mice and men” means that despite careful planning things can still go awry! This said, planning a home layout which incorporates your desired layout, accommodation and budget takes time and input.

Prior to our meeting with our architects who had sketched out a few different ideas for discussion, we sketched out a few layouts and ideas of our own, which if possible we would like to include in the design. One plan presented to us by the architect left very little of the original house – a few walls in fact, and the remainder  re-built. Not only were we not keen on the design layout, but if so much of the original house was demolished we may as well flatten the lot, build a new house and save ourselves 20% VAT in the process. Having bought a structurally sound house, we thought it unnecessary to take such drastic measures, we don’t think the existing house is that bad!

It is interesting the way in which different people have such different ideas on the use of space in design layouts. Some of which we had not thought of or considered, which is why you need an architect. Some of these ideas have been incorporated into a master drawing plan, ‘a fusion of ideas’ and not a mish-match as described by my husband. The main constraint in the design was the roof pitch. The extension design needs to work with the existing roof.

Having now decided on the layout, I needed to be sure that the proposed kitchen was going to be sufficient in terms of space and layout,it needs to be workable. It is no good re-siting walls etc. only to find that the space doesn’t work for the way you like to live and what you want from your kitchen.It is easier to move the door or window position now on paper, than when they have been built.

Armed with a scale ruler, sharp pencils and an eraser I plotted the available space. Kitchens have different zones in them, cooking, wet (sinks and dishwashers) food prep area, storage for groceries and china, fridges and freezers, plus ideally, somewhere to sit. How this is plotted also depends on individual work style preferences and the space available. The zones need to flow for ease of use and not too far apart to avoid unnecessary leg work. Regardless of your budget the key is in the planning of the design. Make yourself a checklist by asking yourself questions and answers.

How much you cook will dictate your needs.

What type of cooker? Range, wall mounted ovens and counter top hob or Aga? Will the hob be gas or electric? Consider the cooker hood extractor, how will it be vented?

Which fridges and freezers do you need to suit your cooking requirements? Do you want a free standing statement piece or fully integrated appliances?

Do you want a tap that provides instant boiling water to replace the kettle?

What is your preferred sink? under mounted, Belfast, single or double drainer?

Your choice of sink will dictate the choice of work top materials. Natural granite, silestone, a composite stone, wood or Laminate. You can’t have an under mounted sink with formica.

What style do you prefer? Modern gloss, contemporary, country?

Do you want splash backs? Will these be tiled,  glass or another material?

What is your flooring preferences? Tiled, wood, vinyl, or another material?

Once you are happy with your layout, if it’s an open plan kitchen, consider how the space integrates and one area to another especially the flooring. When you have decided what you want from your kitchen visit a kitchen showroom, and speak to kitchen planners, they may have ideas which you had not thought of or knew existed which can be included into your design. Prior planning helps you and the kitchen designer.

I would like to include an island with bar stools or chairs on one side or end, for breakfast and entertaining whilst cooking. The other side of the island will be used as a preparation zone with appliances below. Islands are a great way to maximize the available space. Consider ‘traffic flow’ too. People walking through to other rooms, does a door need to be moved to create better use of space, or a door need hanging the other way. Our kitchen will open out onto a garden room designed to be the dining room/ family area with glass doors opening directly onto the garden. Although the kitchen will not be huge, it will be very easy to work in and incorporate my key zones.

A galley plan layout
A galley plan layout

Lighting is a key element in design and very important in a kitchen. Task lighting so you can see what you are doing and lighting to create different moods and activities. The controls should be flexible, controllable and dimmerble. I will do a detailed lighting plan at a later date which will be for the whole house for the electricians to quote on and work from. LED’s work well under wall mounted cabinets as they won’t heat up the contents in the above cupboard.Consider hanging directional spot or inset lights in line with the edge of your counter top. Angle the light to bounce  off the wall to avoid casting a shadow. If you have more than 12″ or 30 cm of space above a wall cupboard install a warm white fluorescent, a linear low voltage or Linear LED to create a diffused light to bounce off the ceiling. A light at kick board height is dramatic when dark. Statement pendant lights, whether you want one or more over the island adds atmosphere and helps break up the solid line of cabinets.Layer the lighting for multifunctions in the room.

Plug sockets for appliances from the kettle, toaster, coffee machine and food processor. Have plug sockets put in your island too, and perhaps a drawer or cupboard for charging mobile appliances such as phones. Where these are sited depends on how you like to work in your kitchen.Plugs for dishwashers, electrics for the hob and oven need to be planned also.

Pull up sockets when required.
Pull up sockets when required.
Special Appliance Storage
Special Appliance Storage

Whether your budget  is a for a  flat pack or bespoke kitchen, the layout will be the same, the design is the key to it’s success. I haven’t decided on cabinets, sinks and specific appliances yet, although have a style in mind. At this stage I’m content with the design layout, the rest will follow more easily now.

Seaside Rendevous

Coastal or seaside, although is a key trend this season, is always popular, especially in bathrooms, it must be all the water!  Our love affair of glorious summer days spent by the coast. Blue skies and sea, sandy beaches, stripped check chairs and wind breaks (if you’re on the East coast). Fishing, hunting for crabs and collecting shells. Whether your idea of coastal is the pared down natural look, nautical, or  bright deck chair stripes reminding you of Brighton beach, there are products for you.

 

The coastal style can be introduced successfully into your home ( other than the bathroom) even if most of us aren’t lucky enough to live by the sea. The trick is not to be overly themed, keep it subtle.  Obvious accessories like wooden fish and  boats should be kept to a minimum.  Blue is the first colour which generally springs to mind, sometimes with a dash of red used as an accent colour, on furniture or fabric. Vibrant cobalt and inky indigo give a fresh feel.

Fabrics  Striped, plain  natural linens and clever designs for curtains, cushions and bedding.

Blue is not the only choice of colour. Try using the colour of coral, sea shells, or sand.

Team with grey striped fabric (to echo a cloudy sky).

Ticking fabric from Ian Mankin
Ticking fabric from Ian Mankin

Flooring – Any natural flooring looks great, whether painted in an off white or natural wood. Natural  seagrass carpets or a textured rug all add to the tactile elements required.

 

Accessories –  Cleverly displays of collections will add impact. Seascape paintings hung on the walls, fisherman’s lamps hung over the dining table. Glass hurricane lamps filled with pebbles to secure a candle, placed on a table. Seashells used as ornaments or displayed in a glass jar. Mismatched tableware add style, using the same colour theme. Lobster pots as ornaments. All major high street stores and supermarkets have a range of goods emanating the trend, to suit all budgets. I was impressed with Matalan’s range for a great selection at great prices. Team up with items found in different shops, to avoid looking contrived.

 

Furniture – Rough textured wood for furniture to echo driftwood. Reclaimed wooden furniture is perfect for adding a relaxed seaside vibe. Paint dining chairs different shades of blue, or cover with a stripped fabric.