‘Mirror, mirror on the wall’, is often quoted in jest. However, ‘never a truer word is spoken in jest’. So apart from using mirrors to check your spots (if a teenager), broccoli stuck between your teeth, shaving and make up application, which to be fair are necessary to daily life, let’s explore the possibilities.
A mixture of mirrors grouped together light a dark corner. Image Sarah Maidment Interiors
A Convex mirror adds an interesting dimension
A mirror window reflecting the outside increases the sense of space and light.
Use as a Focal Point. Hang one large or over sized statement mirror above a fireplace or behind a bed. (Please ensure its securely anchored to the wall capable to hold the weight). This will add impact to your room.
Bathroom Vanity Mirror
Large antiqued mirror tiles by drexlershowerdoor.com
Create a statement with this large Antiqued mirror. From antiquemirror.com
2. Use as a Display. Use a collection of mirrors with different frames and sizes and hang on one wall. This really does make a lovely display wall and a change from artwork.
A mixed mirror wall display
Unified Mirror wall display
Eclectic display of a collection of mirrors
Small Group of Mantle Mirrors
3. Group Together. If you have two, three or five ( general rule of thumb is ratios of odd numbers, but a matching pair does work too) of the same style mirror, even possibly different sizes: these can be hung above an item of furniture such as a chest of drawers or console table to ‘anchor’ them. With the addition of a table lamp to reflect the light, and some well chosen ornaments you will create a lovely vignette.
4. Light Reflection. This is a well known and loved interior design trick to add light to a poorly lit room from a window. Place the mirror on the opposite or adjacent wall to the window to reflect the light into the room.
A mirror placed opposite light source
Light Reflection from window by thewhitebook.com
Focal point using a large Antiqued over mantle mirror by erinswift.com
Eclectic display of a collection of mirrors
5. Image Reflection. To visually help create the illusion of space, hang a mirror to reflect an outside view back into the room (only if its a good view mind,) or from an opposite wall in the room. This will help highlight the rooms best features.
6. Frames. Consider choosing interesting frames in a variety of shapes and sizes. Or you could choose frames with all the same colour. All will add interest and individuality to your decor.
Eastern Influenced Decorative Mirror Frame
Rustic driftwood mirror with shelf and decorated fame from eBay.co.uk
Add texture and colour for a statement focal point mirror by greenboughcomapnay.com
7. Style. The frame will reflect ( sorry!) the style and look of the mirror, modern, antique, contemporary, traditional etc. So ensure that the style chosen will compliment your existing rooms decor.
8. Size Matters. Ensure you know where you want to hang the mirror, with approximate dimensions before purchasing. However, should you expectantly fall in love with a mirror whilst out, try thinking of at least one other place you could hang the mirror, to avoid a disappointing investment.
9. Mirrored Doors. Often used on wardrobe doors, useful space saving and full length uses. Great for small walk in wardrobes to create the illusion of space, and ‘visually creating a sense of space’. Personally, if at all possible I would avoid hanging these opposite my bed. I wouldn’t particularly like to see myself sitting in bed. I also understand that it’s bad Feng Shui.
A mirroreddoor reflects the outside view
Mirrored wardrobe doors reflect light and ‘space’.
Beautiful mirror doors by home improvement pin.com
10. Mirrored Frames. Art work, paintings and photographs can look very effective framed with mirrored glass. These could be used as an alternative to mirrors for display purposes.
Do you member a walk in cupboard in the corner of a kitchen with shelves for foods stuffs – the larder? Perhaps jars of conserves, a basket with fresh vegetables, meats and dairy produce and perhaps cakes too? In larger family homes there were large walk in pantries with stone or concrete counter tops, with shelves above. In some cases a sink too. These would be positioned adjacent to the main kitchen of course, for easy access in the usually north facing (coldest) aspect of the house. These were the mainstay of homes prior to refrigerators and freezers where fresh produce was kept to keep cool and lengthen their shelf life.
In an Edwardian house, I once lived in, we had a cellar, complete with a built-in ‘food safe’ which had a sliding door with fly mesh. This was so useful, especially at Christmas to store the turkey and ham. It was also a great place in which to hide ( outside of Christmas) which my children did when playing hide and seek. Except that it was too good – their friends gave up looking!
Georgian meat or food safe with mesh doors.
Georgian example of a walk in pantry or larder cupboard
Above are images of a Georgian pantry meat or food safe and housekeepers pantry at Number 1 Royal Crescent Bath. http://no1royalcrescent.org.uk/
As sleek and modern kitchens were introduced, along with more affordable refrigeration and later the freezer, the larder in the corner of the kitchen became obsolete and was knocked out to make way for the state of the art kitchen.
There is however, a return to the larder and pantry idea, and being re-introduced in many new kitchen designs, due to popular demand. These range from large ‘larder cupboards’ either integrated or free-standing with bespoke shelves and drawers to enable easy access to foodstuffs all in one place, hidden behind bi-fold, fold away doors or a sliding tamber, instead of dotted around the kitchen in various cupboards. Breakfast or drinks ‘stations’ too have risen in popularity, whose designs are similar to that of a larder cupboard. A friend of mine had a tea and coffee larder cupboard installed on her landing, so guests could help themselves to an early morning cuppa and chat, freeing up her kitchen so she could prepare the breakfast.
Free standing larder cupboard by Martin Moore
Example of Tamber sliding door Breakfast Station
Lighted larder cabinet by DeVol
Sliding door to Butlers cupboard by Gallerie B
Fold Back doors
If you’re lucky enough to have the space, walk in pantries with bespoke fittings are popular too. These pantries can also include a sink and dishwasher to keep the kitchen clear whilst entertaining. Some pantries include wine chiller cabinets and fridges too. Although ‘white goods’ appliances generate heat, in which case it would be wise to install an air conditioning unit.
Walk in pantry design for a long narrow room from Houzz.com
A walk in Butlers Pantry by romairhomes.com
A walk in pantry by decorpad.com
Bespoke designed walk in pantry by Plan English
Pantry complete with drinks cooler, microwave and breakfast station by GallerieB
Remember you don’t want to have to walk the equivalent of 2 miles when preparing a meal, so think carefully how and what you cook and the frequency you need certain items to hand on a daily basis. This focus’ the design on the interior of the pantry to your requirements. If you don’t have an adjacent room to the kitchen suitable, but your kitchen is large, you could partition and area specifically for a walk in. Or build a wall of cupboards with everything hidden behind doors when not in use.
Consider your lighting and sockets positions if you want to keep your coffee machine and toaster in the cupboard, a breakfast station if you like. Narrow shelves for herbs and spices – easily retrievable whilst in the midst of cooking. If possible, a cold stone, or concrete counter top which is cold and easily cleaned. Do you want shelves for storage jars, and preserves, perhaps drawers for fresh produce or items not used very often including crockery and large platters? Tailor the design to suit your kitchen working and lifestyle.
Bespoke larder and pantry designs available from Plain English, DeVol, Neptune, Martin Moore to name but a few who have now introduced these designs.
I have now compiled ‘before and after’ pictures, with the occasional ‘during’ photo (remember it always gets worse before it gets better) which I hope you’ll enjoy and give you momentum to commence or finish your projects.
The renovation and restoration of a 1930’s house is finished! Are you ever finished in a home? Probably not.
Before – A sad, neglected house
After – The completed front elevation of a renovated 1930’s house
Before – Sad and neglected After – Restored and extended
Before- Originally a bedroom
After – The bedroom now converted to a family bathroom
Before- A tired and dated bedroom After – A family bathroom
Downstairs loo with original 1930’s cast iron cistern
After – The original cistern was restored and re-used
Before with original cistern After – Re-sited and restored cistern
Before – Landing with doors to loo, bathroom and airing cupboard
The internal walls were removed to form one room.
After – Now a guest bedroom
Originally a landing with airing cupboard, bathroom with separate loo. Now a guest bedroom, painted in ‘Setting Plaster’ Farrow and Ball http://www.farrow-ball.com/setting%20plaster/colours/farrow-ball/fcp-product/100231
Before – Rear Elevation and garden
After – rear garden showing first years border plant growth.
Before – An overgrown garden Waiting to mature!
However carefully one plans either a renovation or restoration project, it rarely comes in on budget – it’s usually over budget. This is not just because of unforeseen problems like discovering structural problems once the work has commenced, it can due to adding a few extra plug sockets here and there (it all adds up) or choosing high specification kitchen, bathrooms and fittings. Usually it’s because we’ve under estimated the basic build/renovation costs – raw materials labour plus VAT. Comparing your projected budget spread sheet to the actual costs spreadsheet, helps analyse where you under budgeted or over spent.
Did we go over budget? Yes, we knew we’d go over budget when we decided to install the Sonas system. However, the original quote was less than the final invoice due to the time-lapse between the first fix and completion – the labour and equipment had increased in price. The quote was valid for 30 days only, lesson learned. The building material costs were higher too, despite having a breakdown of these costs from the supplier which our budget spreadsheet was based upon. Generally, the majority of people under-estimate their expenditure.
With the uncertainty of property the market, and the impact Brexit may have, many home owners are opting to improve their current home instead of moving. Having had nearly forty years experience in renovating properties, although home values may dip from time to time, they always go up, and on the whole a good investment.
If you think I can be of benefit to you and your project, whether big or small just contact me.
Buying a home is probably the biggest investment most of us will ever make, therefore as well as making it as comfortable as possible for ourselves whilst living in our home, we want to get the maximum return on our investment too. Location is a key element. You can change the property, but not the location. The more desirable the location, generally the higher the price you will have to pay.However the returns should pay dividends when you eventually sell. If you don’t have the necessary funds for the best location, you may decide to buy a house in a popular road, but at the ‘dodgy end’ of the same road, or in an area adjacent to the ‘prefferred’ area in the hope that the area will eventually become more desirable. This can work, but should be viewed as a longer term return on your capital investment. You may have to wait a long time.
Advice The thrill of owning your own home can carry you away on a DIY spree, or with builders quotes for major improvements. Do not be too hasty to knock down walls, live in the house or flat for a while, find out what works and doesn’t work for you and your lifestyle. Long term homes evolve gradually. For shorter term homes used as a step ladder in the property market, think about who your target market will be when you come to sell. Who will want to live in your property, what will they need and want. Then plan any updating and renovations on this basis. immaterial of your goals, do your sums first, do not over do or over develop as this can have a derogatory effect and end up costing you. Recently I have viewed properties which are in need of renovation. The asking price did not particularly make it a bargain to instantly grab. After planning and costing the work necessary to bring the property up to standard, I asked the selling agent what selling price could realistically be achieved. The agent suggested a vague figure. “Oh” I said. “By the time I had bought the property, spent X amount on it, not mentioning the blood, sweat and tears) the house will be worth maybe a little more, or even less than it had actually cost me”. The agent replied that I should look at it as a long term investment. Even so, you at least want to break even, better still make some money for all your efforts, otherwise you might as well go and buy something already completed and lovely, and save yourself all the grief and bother. The same can be said when over developing a property on very expensive and unnecessary improvements. Use the existing values of houses in the same vicinity as a guide for the ceiling price which could realistically be achieved, and don’t forget to take market fluctuations into account too.
Kitchen – Will add up 4-5 % value. A well planned and designed kitchen help sell a property. It will also give you pleasure whilst working in it. Don’t install a very expensive kitchen in a modest house, your gain will not cover the cost of the kitchen. Likewise a very cheap kitchen could de -value an up market home. Think about which style of kitchen is going to suit your target market. You may love bright orange, but will they?
Bathroom -Will add will add up 3% to the value. Keep it simple by adding a white suite, a shower screen (if over the bath) instead of a curtain. a chrome heated towel rail, nice taps and shower heads.
A shower over bath if space is limited
A compact, well planned bathroom
Conservatories or Orangeries – Will add up 7% to the value. Create extra square footage by adding a conservatory or orangery. Always build it as big as you can, but do not compromise your garden. Place furniture in it for it’s intended use i.e. dining or lounging area. Make the space flow from the existing house and not look like an added ‘bolt on’ afterthought.
Glass extension for a dining area
garden room/ Orangery used for a living area
Light floods into this glass extension used for a kitchen
Loft Conversions – Will add up to 12.5 % to the value Use a ‘dead’ space for living space and extra square footage. However be careful not to compromise the existing accommodation to fit in the stairs i.e. by encroaching on small bedrooms or landings. Employ a specialist company to plan and execute the work. Building Regulations will be required.
Converted Cellars and Basements Unless your home is worth £300 per square foot, which is the cost of doing a basement, you will not get a return on your investment, only add extra living space. Though expensive, this is a very popular choice of adding extra living space for kitchens or family rooms. A specialist basement conversion company should be hired to carry out the works.
Create extra living space in the basement
A kitchen created in a basement
Garages – Not many houses actually use the garage for their car. It is often used for storing stuff. Turn it into living space. The cost will be approximately £10,000. To calculate the added value simply multiply the square footage gained by the local price per square foot of property.
Less is more, it is better to do less very well with good quality fixtures, fittings and finish, than more done badly.
A large pendant light and a collection of prints adds impact and draws the gaze upwards.
The doors have been painted the same colour as the walls to avoid the ‘corridor’ look. Useful storage in the chest of drawers and colour added with a runner.
Hall, stairs and landings are often overlooked and viewed as busy thoroughfares, as a means to get from one room to another or out of the house. These areas are often small, cramped or resemble little more than corridors. The hall is the first impression visitors receive when entering the home and an organized, welcoming space sets the tone for the rest of the home.
Storage – before you even consider wall colour, remember the hall needs to provide instant, accessible organized storage for the items you discard as soon as you walk in through the front door, coats, shoes, keys and umbrellas. The space available will obviously dictate your options of course. If there is room, a built in cloaks cupboard is ideal with a shoe rack. This will hide all the clobber. Failing that, a simple coat hook for everyday wear and visitors coats will suffice. Do not overload the rack as this looks untidy and obstructs the thoroughfare. A shoe rack can be placed below the coat rack, which will contain shoes which have been kicked off and abandoned in the middle of the hall. A bench with storage will also provide somewhere to sit down to pull on boots and provide much needed storage for hats and gloves etc. An umbrella stand is useful, and there are some lovely tall pots available which will do the job. A table for keys and mail, however small is useful, or perhaps a slimline shelf if space is at a premium. You may have room for a chest of drawers or armoire providing extra storage for over spill from bedrooms or linen storage. Built in slim line shelves for books or baskets filled with items needed from time to time.
A place for everything.
By painting the wall, seat and shelf the same colour it creates an illusion of a large settle.
Clever use of under stairs space has been used in this hall.
Flooring – Hall floors need to be robust to cope with outdoor footwear. Whatever you choose make sure you have a good foot mat to take off the worst of dirt and grime. Hardwearing floor tiles are easy to clean in a pale neutral colour help the space feel bigger and if laying new, ask your tiler to drop the door mat into the tiles. This prevents the foot mat sliding around the hall. Carpet on stairs and landings is still a popular choice, avoiding the excess noise of feet clumping up and down the stairs. Choose a very hardwearing woven carpet preferably with a high wool content to cope with the heavy traffic, and in a colour to blend with the hall flooring. This gives an illusion of space and merges the spaces together for a cohesive look.
Lighting – This needs to be welcoming and not over powering. The lighting needs to be bright on the stairs for safety reasons, but not so bright it flattens any interesting shadows. Create atmosphere with table lamps, wall lights and add a large decorative pendant light.
Fabrics and Colour’s – Hall, stairs and landings need to link with other rooms harmoniously, so colour’s and patterns shouldn’t be too bold. To disguise the ‘corridor’ effect try painting the doors the same colour as the walls. Use a good quality, spongeable, durable paint which will withstand the wear and tear. Add colour and interest with a runner or rug and a blind or curtains.
Accessories – Well chosen accessories make the functional space feel lived in. Pictures or a framed photograph gallery displayed together, or a clock. Use mirrors to reflect the light and create a feeling of space. Mirrors are also good for the last minute face and hair check before going out of the front door. A vase of flowers or a plant too add finishing touches.