A Story of a Woodland Wedding

Woodland wedding bouquet with white flowers
Danielle’s bouquet which she made herself

Each and every single wedding is as special and individual as the couple. There’s no ‘package’ that is able to capture all that’s special and important to them both.

Bride with frog
You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find that special person

Last Summer, I had the honour and privilege of helping Danielle and Harry plan their wedding decor, right the from the initial ideas stage, through to the planning to implementation. They had their heart’s set on a woodland wedding.

Unfortunately the closest venue which hosts woodland weddings was booked up for the whole of Summer of 2019! So they searched further afield and discovered Umberslade Adventure Park in the Midlands. There was ample space for a Tipi of their choice, a dedicated area amongst the trees for their ceremony and a lodge, which was perfect for the welcome drinks. It was a relief to have found their perfect venue. The date was set!

Save the date stamp for a woodland wedding
Save the Date

As we walked around each area on a warm, sunny Autumn afternoon, ideas started flowing. They imagined the wedding day of their dreams it to be, plus an all-important Plan B in case of inclement weather. Hard to visualise on such a beautiful day! It was important to them that family and friends should be involved in some way. Whether it was by making something, helping set up (or taking down afterwards), to make it personal and close to their hearts. This is not a job for the faint-hearted! Planning and executing a wedding required people who you can rely on.

A top priority for Harry & Danielle was that their wedding should reflect their love of nature and have minimal impact on the environment. We used of up-cycled, re-purposed items and seasonal plants and flowers wherever possible.

Responsible foraging of Hazel was cut to make hoops, to be decorated with trailing Ivy and Gypsophila and hung behind the head and cake table. Lichen covered twigs which would be placed in recycled Fever Tree bottles with a Rose and Fern to decorate the tables in the Lodge area.  Moss covered bark was collected to cover plant bases secured with twine, to be used on the cake table and entry way decor.

Wicker toadstool, bark tied with twine, bottles with lights woodland wedding
Elements used for the woodland wedding Tipi entrance

It was decided to dress the trestle table in white, and Danielle ideally wanted fresh garlands to run centrally down each table. This is an amazing look but unfortunately we didn’t have a team of florists to make these beforehand. Plus, they would leave little room on the tables for wine bottles, glasses etc. I suggested a compromise of designing narrow wooden toughs made from old pallets, which were fully lined with waterproof material. The troughs were then filled with small potted plants of  trailing Variegated Ivy at each end featuring a central glass hurricane lamp with a white candle, surrounded by small ferns, miniature white Rose, white trailing Lobelia and Bacopa ( both grown from seed)  and topped with moss to hide the pots.

All living plants which would be used in gardens for the summer, and beyond in some cases. The troughs were centrally placed on each table with space in between for  essentials such as bottles and table numbers. It also meant that the troughs could be created beforehand and just placed on the tables. The wooden troughs can be re-used again and again afterwards, filled with seasonal flora and fauna. The head table flowers were arranged in hollow bark, punctuated by white candles in glass hurricane lamps. It was no mean feat transporting them all on the hottest day of the year!

Wooden table troughs filled with plants on wedding table.
Troughs made from old pallets filled with fresh plants and hurricane candles
Wooden troughs filled with fresh plants and hurricane candle for each wedding table
Troughs made from old pallets were filled with fresh plants and a candle in a a glass hurricane lamp
Personalised wine bottle labels on wedding table
Personalised wine bottle labels for each table
Tipi interior for a woodland wedding
The Tipi is set all ready for the wedding

For the Tipi entrance, we arranged Fruit crates with potted trailing Ivy, Ferns and a seletion of white annual flowers displayed on top. Willow toadstools with LED lights and candles were artfully added for extra effect.

Woodland wedding Tipi entrance being prepared
The Tipi main entrance being prepared
Tipi entrance decorated for a woodland wedding
The Tipi entrance lit for the woodland wedding
Tipi Entrance for a Woodland Wedding
An arrangement was placed on each of the Tipi entrance
Table Plan at the Tipi entrance of a woodland wedding
Table plan to the Tipi entrance.

Rustic arches were decorated following the theme with LED lights, trailing Ivy and white plants. One flower we was a type of Pentstemon aptly named ‘Wedding Day’, a beautiful perennial  that can be planted in Danielle and Harry’s garden as a reminder of their wedding. Walkways were lit with lanterns, and trees hung with LED lights to dazzling effect.

Rustic arch decorated with LED lights, trailing ivy and flowers at a woodland Tipi wedding
Rustic arches decorated with LED lights, trailing ivy and flowers
Rustic arch decorated for a Woodland wedding
Rustic Arch decorated with LED lights, trailing ivy and flowers
Main Entrance rustic arch with sign at a woodland wedding
Main entrance arch with ‘Let the Adventure Begin’ hand made sign, LED lights, trailing ivy and white flowers

The Outside Ceremony Area was approached through the wood following a winding path. We set out rustic benches each side of the aisle, with white potted Hydrangeas wrapped in hessian and tied with twine were placed at the ends of the benches leading to an arch. Marion and Rory, the Bride’s parents, designed, constructed and decorated the arch themselves – it was beautiful. Unfortunately, the wedding itself was too wet so a stressful, last minute decision meant we had to revert to Plan B for the ceremony and the wedding arch couldn’t be used as intended.

A mad dash was made by the groomsmen and guests to retrieve the Hydrangeas from the woods to form an aisle in the Tipi. Thank goodness for Plan B! The rain eventually stopped and the wedding arch made a wonderful addition in the photographs so all that effort was not lost.

White flowers and greenery woodland wedding arch
Woodland Wedding Arch designed and decorated by Danielle’s parents
White potted hydrangea aisle in a Tipi wedding
Plan B (rain) aisle formed with potted hydrangeas
Bride and Groom by woodland wedding arch
Danielle and Harry by their wedding arch

To make the exterior of the lodge area more intimate, and to screen the adventure park’s outdoor equipment, a screen was made using hessian cloth which was decorated with an oversized fern leaf stencil.

 

Page Boy with stencilled hessian at the woodland wedding
Adorable Page Boy by the stencilled hessian at the wedding

A pallet was sprayed green and the order of the day was hand painted by the Grooms brother Charlie. A basket of blankets was provided should guests get chilly, and Great Granny’s recipe for Date and Apple Chutney was made as an accompaniment for the cheese board. The personal touches really made it stand out.

Danielle is of German heritiage and a fluent German-speaker, and Harry works in sports media so it was a superb choice to have German and British sports personalities as table names, rather than traditional numbers. The wedding cake topper was made by brother-in-law Satinder,  who is a professional Prosthetic Artist. It featured Harry wearing an England football shirt and Danielle in a German football shirt. The cakes were made by both mothers, each tier being a different cake, Lemon Meringue, White Chocolate and Raspberry, Strawberry and Champagne and included a Black Forest Gateaux of course! These were served as dessert along with a cheese board.

Cake table for a Tipi and woodland wedding
Cake made by the Mums’ and bark covering plants of ivy and annuals

Danielle and Harry’s Wedding Day

Getting Ready – The Boys

 

The Girls

The Woodland Wedding

Bridesmaids, flower girl and page boy arrive at a woodland wedding
The arrival of the Brides Maids, Flower Girl and Page Boy
Bride and Father arriving at a wood land wedding
Danielle and her Father arrive
Woodland Wedding bridal party
The wedding party
Bride and groom in the woods
A Romantic Woodland Wedding
Bride and Groom in the woods
Happiness is…
Bride and groom in the woods
The very happy couple

It was quite a party!

Dancing went on late into the evening with music provided by a wedding band and D.J. Outside, guests were provided with a bar, street food wagon serving Bratwurst and chips and a ire pit and taxi photo booth provided plenty of entertainment and fun!

 

A huge thank you to all family and friends who helped and supported Danielle and Harry’s wedding, and made it so special in so many ways.

List of Suppliers 

A special thank you to Catherine Jones of Flowers by Catherine for sourcing the fresh flowers and helping in my hour of need. http://flowersbycatherine.com/

Wedding Styling, floristry, and execution Sarah Maidment Interiors https://www.sminteriors.co.uk/Services/WeddingStagingServices.html and with help from my friends.

Umberslade Adventure Enchanted Woodland Weddings https://umbersladeadventure.com/occasions/enchanting-woodland-weddings

Photographer Jamie Dodd https://www.jamiedoddphotography.co.uk/

Enchanting woodland
The beautiful enchanting woods

 

 

 

Inspired by Nature and William Morris

Inspired by Nature and William Morris
Interior inspirations from nature and the influence of William Morris. Bring a sense of history and well being into your home.

William Morris founded the of the Arts and Crafts Movement in 1861 with friends Marshall, Faulkner and Co. An interior design business which championed well crafted furniture, textiles and wallpaper. He wanted to revive a sense of beauty in home life, to restore the dignity of art into ordinary households. He thought:

“. . . that every home, however modest, could benefit from such practical beginnings as choosing items that were beautiful and useful. The great difficulty was not starting with nothing, but by having too much. By the accumulation of useless things not only were beautiful things kept out, but the very sense of beauty perpetually dulled and ground away”.

He once lectured against “the acquisitiveness of fortunate classes” (which he called digesting machines). Perhaps we’ve come full circle; The human race has become a digesting machine, with our relentless quest for ‘stuff’- beautiful, useful or otherwise. The Arts and Crafts Movement wanted to move away from cheap mass produced items in factories.

Before the Industrial Revolution and machines, people worked with nature, the land and their hands, but then moved to cities and factories to work making cheap mass produced items, destined for landfill. There was little self worth, job satisfaction or pride in their work. Morris and Co clients were reassured that “good decoration, involving the luxury of taste rather than the luxury of costliness” and set up their own work spaces for traditional crafts and skills in weaving and dyeing and offered apprenticeships, and tried to ensure his employees were looked after by paying them a wage which merited their skills.

True craftsmanship, up-cycling, re-purposed, pre-loved, vintage, antique,  restored and responsibly sourced are slowly becoming mainstream, thank goodness. The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust funds the education of talented and aspiring craftspeople. They have published a book ‘A Celebration of British Craftsmanship’ which features portraits and and stories of some of the craftsmen and women from across the United Kingdom that the Trust has supported since 1990.  Many craftspeople are also self taught, either from library books or YouTube tutorials. Making the most of what we have already and including them into our homes. This requires careful editing, giving things space, thus avoiding a cluttered appearance. Sound familiar?

Stained glass fire screen by William Morris
Stained glass fire screen by William Morris

Avoid ‘stage’ sets or showrooms, mix items up a bit. Old and new, vintage, inherited pieces and those items that you love. Ensure you know where it will go, how it will fit into the designated space and how well it will sit with your existing furnishings.  Also make sure they are practical and fit for purpose. This is what will make your home, adding depth and character and preventing your home from feeling void of your personality. Pair an assortment of items from different periods and styles, which prevents your home looking too of the ‘period’. Good design and craftsmanship have an enduring quality and will stand test of time.

Inspired by nature, William Morris bought nature inside. He believed that “love of nature in all it’s forms must be the ruling spirit”. He also wanted houses to sit well in their plot and their exteriors to blend and compliment the garden. By surrounding ourselves with anything which engages our senses is a key to positive thinking, our mood and well being.

Standen House and garden in Autumn
Standen House and garden in Autumn

What can we learn from these lessons? As an advocate of restorations, be they homes, furniture or gardens, it is with love and care bestowed into these projects giving character, depth and above all soul. HRH Prince of Wales said when planning his garden at Highgrove, (but is a true statement for our homes too, our need to connect to, and endlessly inspired by nature). “We need to feed the soul, warm our heart and delight the eye”.

William Morris quote Art for the few
William Morris Quote

Ten Interior Design Tips Using Mirrors in Your Home

Ten interior design tips using mirrors in your home
How to enhance light, display and create the illusion of space

‘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.

 

 

  1. 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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

Lamps placed in front of large mirrors creates a vingnette
Lamps placed in front of mirrors look stunning at night.

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

Colour washed mirror glass
Stunning paint washed mirror from Anthropologie.com

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

Set of pictures framed with mirror frames
Mirrored Picture Frames

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!

 

Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House – The Great Interior Design Challenges

Buffering Symbol
Buffering – When will it end?

The image above via Google search is not of my new induction hob, but the infuriating buffering symbol we’re all familiar with.

The Open Reach engineer arrived on a re-scheduled appointment and connected the land line and internet connection. I explained my dilemma of broadband speed availability to service my requirements. He carried out a speed test for me – 1.70Mb. (However this was near the server, and my house has a lot of steel in it which does not help either). He explained that our connection came from the exchange which was 3500 metres away from my house. This connection has no fibre optic. There is a junction box cabinet 2000 metres from my home which does have fibre optic, which ideally I should be connected to. Unfortunately B.T. have not put in enough lines in to the junction cabinet to service everyone, and until they do we have to settle for poor service. So whichever service provider you choose, the internet speed will not be any faster.  Gigaclear an internet provider was awarded a £10m contract last year. This is the first time a company other than BT has been awarded funds from the “superfast extension programme”, which is cash from central and local government, overseen by the government’s Broadband Delivery UK. It’s time for  BT not to have the monopoly.  The village isn’t particularly rural either, and know that some towns have the same problem. It’s not just for entertainment value either, many people are working from home and a good service is a necessity. Interestingly, on Right Move http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale.html or Zoopla   http://www.zoopla.co.uk/for-sale/  the internet speed availability is stated on the listed properties and I have heard of cases whereby potential buyers were put off a property purely by the broad band speed, as this is a necessity to them. However, the company Right Move and Zoopla use for their broadband speed information is not always correct, so do your own research, and don’t be put off by a properties speed as listed on these sites.

I’m all for up-cycling, re-cycling and re-purposing furniture and objects where possible, and enjoyed watching   The Great Interior Design Challenge    http://www.sophieanddaniel.com/          http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04nj4d5/episodes/guide    re-purpose items given as part of the challenge to incorporate in their rooms. I was given a collection of odd items of furniture from a friend’s garage – a wooden bed head, metal bed parts and a small table. I discussed various options with my carpenter Tom, and to ensure that I wasn’t dismantling furniture of any value to incorporate into the boot room – shelf, boot storage and coat hangers and hooks.

image
Bed head, and tables prior to re-purposing

A bracket for the shelf was made from the metal bed frame, a carved detailed piece of wood was used for the hooks to hang from. The table top and bed head have been re -designed for boot and shoe storage.

I bought a dressing table from my friend too, who was slowly clearing out her old family home. A mahogany veneer with a swivel mirror, glass top, original Bakelite knobs and carved detailing. There was a little damage in places caused by years of use. This type of furniture is currently out of vogue and therefore no one wants them. I needed a dressing table for the master bedroom, so painted the dressing table (including drawer interiors) with Annie Sloan ‘Paris Grey’ Chalk Paint.       http://www.anniesloan.com/annie-sloan-products/paints/chalk-paint.html   To enhance the carved detailing I applied a coat of dark wax diluted with a little white spirit, wiping away the excess. This also gave the dressing table the appearance of ‘antiqued’ or ‘aged’. The Bakelite knobs were put back on, and I now have a bespoke item of furniture. So glad this didn’t end up in landfill!

We found rolls of fabric in a cupboard, one of which was still wrapped the original paper, complete with sales label. Un- rolled, the fabric by Sanderson, who are celebrating 150 years this year.     https://www.sanderson-uk.com/shop/fabric/?act=ssocomplete    is still as good as new.  We still have the whole nine yards! The design is very 60’s/70’s and can’t presently find anywhere to reuse it. I’m open to offers!

 

We also discovered about two yards of 1970’s cotton dress fabric – cushion covers perhaps?

 

 

Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House – Don’t You Just Love Technology?

Sonas System image via Pinterest

 

Sonas System image via Pinterest
Sonos System

It was suggested, prior to the first fix electrics to install a Sonos music system.  After much thought and discussion about going over our original budget, we decided it would be a good idea. TV and internet ports were also installed in some bedrooms as well as the living areas, the idea being that family members could use the internet independently to stream films, games etc.  Our electrician laid all the cables and the builders left gaps in the ceiling ready for the speakers. The mass of wires leading back to a cupboard where the system will be controlled from. The installers of the Sonos System wanted the house to be virtually dust free before fitting.

Ceiling Speaker
An unobtrusive ceiling speaker

Sounds good, and so far so good, until we came to install a phone line and broadband. An internet search of post code speeds and providers showed lots of options and costs too, including BT Infinity, Sky Fibre Unlimited, EE and TalkTalk. BT Infinity showed the estimated speed at 22.8 – 38Mb. As a current BT customer I organised the contract and booked in an installation date. However, when reading through the info received BT had estimated the broadband speed at 1Mb – 4Mb. This is a huge difference, especially when streaming films, downloading computer games and music. I questioned BT about the speed, and they explained that half the village did indeed have fibre optic cable, but my house is in the half that doesn’t; and they had no plans in the foreseeable future to install the other half. So we have all the technology wired in, but inadequate broad band service to actually run it all at the same time.

Broad Band Speeds for your area can be found in the internet
Broad Band speeds for our post code found on the Internet

A neighbour came by just by chance with some information about a company who provide a better broadband speed of up to 40Mb. He had just set up an account and had the system installed, due to his frustration with BT. This sounded promising.

The system works via EE’s 4G mobile network. The company will install an external antenna which connects to a 4G modem and allows for both wired and WIFI access through EE. It is also possible to move your current landline number to an internet based phone system, removing the need for a BT landline. The cost of this phone system is £2.50 a month line rental and 1.2p per minute for calls. A typical cost for the installation is £799.00, plus system interface and configuration charges plus plugs, plus plus….. But then we may save on call charges etc.

Two contracts are offered, either a 30 day rolling contract offering 15GB for £20.00 or 25GB for £30.00 per month. Or 24 month contract at £28.00 a month for 25 GB or 50GB at £55.00. Checking our current average monthly data usage (currently unlimited) this was insufficient for our needs. The maximum for a consumer available is 50GB a month, but we can add more at £15.00 for 10GB. The company didn’t specify whether that was £15.00 for each additional 10GB on top, but guessing it is. This makes a huge difference to the cost. If your usage comes within 50GB, then it’s sounds like a great system in rural and not so rural areas. Anywhere in fact BT haven’t bothered to install sufficient fibre optic cable, despite the Government promises!

So where does that leave us? Well, with BT, as there appears to be little else we can do.  Unfortunately, BT failed to turn up at the appointed time and date. Neither did they call or text to say they weren’t coming. For a communications company their communication skills are shocking. So back to the buffering and waiting for things to down load. Don’t you just love technology?

Selecting tiles for kitchen
‘Mood Board’ of tiles and work top

The work top in the kitchen has been installed by a local stone supplier, who have a huge range and choice of materials and colours to choose from. They also template and fit the work tops. I was lucky enough to find an off cut of Silestone which was suitable, and therefore a little cheaper. Silestone is a composite stone, offering hardwearing capabilities, and is less expensive than granite. Again shop around as prices vary enormously between suppliers. I have chosen to tile the splash back rather than have an upstand, to make the space more cohesive. I didn’t want an upstand with a tiled or glass backing behind the hob, which would break up the run above the work top.

 

 

Renovation Restoration a 1930’s House – Come On Baby Light My Fire

image
Image from Bloglovin

 

Several months of trying to get the multi-fuel installers back to the house to complete the outside flue resulted in two ‘no shows’. They twice failed to turn up without contacting us; and once turned, up and then left after ten minutes explaining that they couldn’t do the job as our tower was not tall enough. I did wonder why they hadn’t bought their own tower or ladder with them to enable them to do the job.  I eventually managed to speak to them, and they explained that it would be best if we found someone else to finish the job. I had been dumped!

This posed two options, we either find another approved installer so we can get our HETAS certificate, which may be difficult because they hadn’t installed the first part of the multi-fuel stove, and may not want to certify someone else’s work.  Also they would be wary of us, as they would wonder why the installer had refused to return to finish the job. This I couldn’t explain. The other option would be to have the flue installed without a certificate and ask Building Control to come and inspect it and hopefully issue the certificate. However, if it failed the Building Control inspection which company would we return to rectify installation problems? We also had to get our flue returned from the original installers which was purchased by us months ago. Luckily, we found a great company who were prepared to complete the installation of the outside flue, (reclaimed from the original company) and issue a certificate. Interestingly they only needed a ladder to finish the job!

image
The outside flue, now completed

 

The utility and boot room floors have now been laid with tiles resembling wooden floor boards. These are very popular at the moment and the choice of colours, textures and meterage costs are numerous. We purchased our tiles from a local tile merchant Acorn Tiles. They take time in planning the layout prior to laying, but makes the actual laying a lot easier, especially if using fast set adhesive. I have used grey grout to blend with the tiles. Fired Earth  http://www.firedearth.com/tiles/range/newlyn/mode/grid  also have a selection, and are surprisingly close in price of Topps Tiles, which one would imagine being cheaper.

The back splash has also been tiled with ‘subway’ or ‘metro’ tiles laid in brick style and grey grout used in between.

The wooden and glass partitions were fixed in place without the safety glass, and have been stained along with the wooden beading for fixing the glass for ease of application. The glass was then fixed in place, fixing holes filled and a light sanding all over. The partitions then had another coat of stain applied. Despite not being metal ‘Crittal’ style as originally planned, we got a great result at a fraction of the cost.

After much research we finally chose the engineered wood flooring. It’s a light oak veneer with a matt lacquered finish. The company, Posh Flooring  https://www.poshflooring.co.uk/engineered-wood-flooring/oak  were very helpful, efficient and offered advice on the underlay and installation. Delivery was two to three days and the wood had to be laid flat for at least a week prior to laying to acclimatise. Due to the amount needed, we ordered half what was  required and sufficient for two rooms for ease of laying and space. A vapour barrier is laid down first on the floor and then the wood laid on top. Some flooring systems are clicked together and others are glued. It is important to leave a 10mm gap around the edges of the room to allow for expansion. The wood will expand and contract, and if you don’t leave a gap the floor will buckle and in some cases need relaying. This gap will be hidden by skirting boards, or if a retro fit by wooden beading.

 

 

 

 

 

Secret Garden

 

Sanuk Shop Front
Sanuk Shop Front

Sanuk (pronounced sanook) means in Thai language, to achieve satisfaction, pleasure and enjoyment from whatever you do. Apparently it is a mindset and rule for the Thai people in whatever they do it has to be ‘Sanuk’. Sanuk is where, on a glorious hot and sunny midsummer afternoon I sat in a delightful garden and ‘took tea’ as they say. (whoever ‘they’ might be) with two girlfriends.

We sat beneath an old grapevine in the shade on old rustic wooden furniture. The table was covered in oil cloth patterned with flowers. We were served individual pots of tea for our varying tastes, Earl Grey, Rooibos and English Breakfast. The bone china cups and saucers were a mismatch of vintage designs. We had chosen our homemade cakes of gluten free carrot and chocolate. As we sat and chatted over our tea and cakes we could feel ourselves relaxing. A sense of calm if you like.

After tea we wondered along the rows of many unusual plants for sale in the nursery garden called ‘Little Heath Nursery’.  One friend chose a delicate white alpine that she wanted to plant in a tea cup with a saucer. My friend explained that she had been invited to a 25th wedding anniversary party and the theme was silver and white. The cup and saucer she had purchased was white with silver 25th Anniversary on the side. I think this is a lovely present, as so much thought had gone into it.

 

At the end of each row of plants were old wooden tables each with a group display of different coloured plants. Some  being flowers and some with interesting foliage. Grouped together were reds, blues, white and purples, cleverly put together for colour and texture. Mood boards for your garden. It was inspirational and looked amazing.

 

On one side of the garden is a long wooden barn. One visitor described the barn as reminding her of ‘The Gingerbread House’ tucked in the woods. At one end of the barn there is a room for teas, coffee, cake and light lunches. This room is furnished with an eclectic mix of tables and chairs covered in patterned ‘oil cloths’ and on a table to one side sits the various cakes under glass domes. There are Indian textiles decorating the walls they have the aroma of a souk for some reason.

The centre of the barn houses a shop filled with Indian, Thai furniture and accessories. There are antiqued cupboards in turquoise, carved wooden wall decorations and an Indian four poster bed complete with a heavily embroidered bedspread and cushions. A good place to hunt for unusual items for your home. At the other end of the barn there is another small shop called Deja Vu which sells Antique and vintage lighting ( pendants and lamps)  and mirrors of various sizes. ( This shop only opens on Friday, Saturday and Sunday).  Definitely worth a look.

A separate barn sells a few salvaged and restored fireplaces and bags of logs. The whole place is void of commercialism, that is obviously a business and livelihood for the owners.

Sanuk is quiet and tranquil.  It is open all year round, however it is especially lovely during the warmer months to enjoy the garden. Sanuk is hidden behind trees in a small lane in a village called Potten End just outside Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire. ‘Sanuk’ was an easy mindset to achieve whilst there. I only hope I can achieve the same when carrying out more arduous tasks on a day to day basis.

A delightful garden and barns  -Sanuk
A delightful garden and barns -Sanuk

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.