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

Conservatories, Orangeries and Garden Rooms

 

 

A few brief, tantalizing warm sunny days drew us out into our gardens and garden centres in droves, under the false impression that Spring had sprung. Now driven back indoors to view our gardens from the warmth of our homes to view and admire the flowering spring bulbs. If, like me you are a fair weather gardener, a garden room, conservatory or orangery are ideal places to enjoy your garden all year round, and will bring light and extra space to your existing home.

Decide on the purpose of your conservatory, orangery or garden room. Is it to create a kitchen, dining area, living space or even somewhere to indulge in hobbies such as painting or plant propagation. Make the room as big as you can afford. Ensure the design will compliment the existing style of your house, this includes the brickwork, cladding and paintwork. Which material you choose will come down to budget. Hardwood being the most expensive, softwood much cheaper, but will require higher maintenance with regular painting or staining, UVPC and Aluminium. These do not have to be white, UVPC and Aluminium are now available in a myriad of colour’s, which can be matched to your existing window colour. Why not choose a shade of green for the inside colour, thus blending with the garden. All conservatories orangeries and garden rooms can and should have double and sometimes triple glazed units.

Plot your required furniture placement on your plans.
Plot your required furniture placement on your plans.

Heating is a must, and underfloor heating laid beneath a well insulated floor is efficient under tiles. If opting for another form of flooring, check the manufacturers recommendations with under floor heating. Good ventilation with roof lights is recommended. These can be manual or automated and can even include rain censors. Depending on the aspect of  your glass extension, solar controlled glass, and temperature controlled technology in glass means that it will reflect the the heat when cold and let the heat out when hot. Roof blinds maybe necessary too to avoid too much glare and spoil plants. If you want plants on a window cill, use tiles, perhaps off cuts from your floor tiles for the surface other than wood in case of water spillage.

Lighting is a primary consideration in a glass room. Light reflecting the glass at night makes a stunning atmosphere, whether electrical or candle. Plot where you want your furniture to be placed and plan the lighting requirements around this. Plotting your furniture also helps decide where to place the door into garden, and traffic flow. If you plan to dine in it fit a decorative pendant light over the table. Specify this in planning, as structural changes maybe necessary. Plot wall sockets for table lamps. If it has a high pitched roof , light this space up with with cowled directional LED spot lights to add sparkle, minimizing glare and prevent cold expanses of darkness at night. A row of low voltage up/downlights bring out texture of a wall, can highlight wall art or mirrors and creates drama. Use a dimmer controlled switch.

Furnishings, really depends on your intended use of course, and should blend and compliment the joining rooms. Pick a colour from the adjacent room and use in the conservatory for example. Choose good quality fabrics which won’t fade too quickly in strong sunlight. Group several small potted plants together on a table, this has more impact than several individual plants dotted around. Or opt for one or two  over sized containers with large specimen’s. use framed botanical prints and add a mirror on the wall. Try not to look too contrived, a mix of styles looks more relaxed and informal.

There are many specialist conservatory, orangery and garden room companies, for all budgets, and will sometimes involve Building Control approval, so do check this out.

 

 

Light Bulb Moment

I have had always had an aversion to a single central pendant light as the only source of lighting in a room. This light creates a dull soulless room, illuminating a non flattering light not only to the room, but to it’s inhabitants. Lamps, whether table or standard, are my preference especially in a sitting room to add warmth and ambiance. The central light only being used when cleaning. My children have either inherited, or most likely have been drilled into the same aversion; To the point that my daughter actually removed the bulb from the central pendant light in a student house she once shared, forcing them to switch on the lamps instead, knowing that no-one would be bothered to replace the bulb. Drastic measures!

Lighting is one of the most important features when designing any room, and should be planned simultaneously and included in the drawings of the rooms intended use and layout. Lighting is intrinsic. It is no good wishing you had a plug socket for a table lamp once the room is completed.Lighting can make or break a completed room.

Lighting is basically divided into three categories – Ambient, Task (function) and Background, each serving a particular purpose. When these three elements are put together it is called ‘Layered’ lighting.

Ambient Lighting is created with lamps and wall lights. The illumination is soft, warm and relaxing.

Task lights which provide light for reading, or cooking – activities. Overhead ceiling or pendant lights, Spotlights

Background lighting is used as under cupboard lights in kitchens, under plinths, or perhaps to highlight a painting or wall texture.

Depending of the uses of the space there is a lighting solution available to suit. This is all very well if you are planning a major re-fit including electrical works, but what about the room you just want to paint and update on a budget? Make the most of the light you’ve got already. Anything to increase natural light into your home is beneficial to save on your bills. If you have small windows try replacing heavy curtains with a roman blind instead. If privacy is an issue consider wooden shutters with adjustable slats or a sheer fabric.

Change your bulbs. How many times have you bought a replacement light bulb and when you get home discover it is the wrong bulb, despite standing looking at the vast array on display, and end up with a drawer full of assorted bulbs which won’t fit anything in your home. If you need one, I’ve probably got one. It maybe you need a bulb of a higher or lower wattage, or a different shape, make or type. A large globe will give a better quality light than a standard bulb. Use a frosted or pearl bulb if you can as they provide a softer shadow free light. Use energy efficient bulbs where you can. This is basic advice, because if I went into all the different types of bulbs here you would certainly switch off! Sorry!

Replace lamp shades.The size, shape, material colour and lining are all key to shade’s look and use.The shade must not only complement the decor but just as importantly directs light in a way you intend.

Add ‘plug – ins’. A plug -in is a basically a light you plug into your socket – a lamp if you like. If plugged in the right area of a room it can add instant drama by high lighting a plant or art work or or light up dead corners or a room.

Then there is outside lighting to be considered too.

There is too much to say about lighting in just one blog, so  lighting will be included in future blogs on room by room designs.

Don’t Get Bogged Down

Before you even walk into a bathroom showroom, and walk out, what seems like hours later, laden with product brochures  feeling bogged down, and totally confused about the choices available to you, do your homework first.

1, Measure your rooms dimensions including ceiling height (so you know that the height of your chosen shower will actually fit). Measure the windows and doors.

2. Note where your existing plumbing pipes are, including the soil stack (for toilet waste). Pipes can often be re-routed if necessary, but best to check with a plumber. It would also help to know if you have high or low water pressure. Think how disappointed you would be having the ‘rain water’ deluge head fitted in your shower, to be greeted by a trickle of water.

3. Make a checklist of what you want. What do you want to do in your bathroom? Bath with a separate shower, or do you only have space for a shower bath? Do you want a statement or purely functional bath? Do you want to remove the bath and replace it with a large walk in shower? Do you have room for, or want twin basins?

4. Consider storage needs for bottles, make up, loo rolls and perhaps towels.A vanity unit with drawers fitted with separate compartments could be considered.

5. Lighting – A range of task lighting for applying make-up or shaving. Consider a wall hung vanity cabinet with a back lit mirror and a de-mister pad, with lights hung each side of the cabinet to avoid shadows from being cast onto your face. Recessed LED lights in ‘cubby holes’ ( built in recesses used for shampoo, conditioner and body wash products avoiding chrome fittings) and under units or shelves add ambiance whilst enjoying a relaxing soak.

6. Fittings – This can be a mine field.  What style do you want? Sleek and modern, classic, period. Do you want looks over functionality? Do you want mixer taps, bath fillers (bath fills with what looks like an overflow) plus diverter hand set, or standard ‘telephone’ taps. bath shower mixers or thermostatic shower mixers.Do you want chrome, gold, white or very decorative fittings? Do you have a preference towards a Caronite, steel, acrylic cast iron or other material for your bath? Cast iron is heavy, expensive and virtually everlasting. Caronite is durable, excellent wearing capabilities, mid range in price good quality and very popular. Steel is less expensive than Caronite, is hard wearing but can feel cold. Acrylic baths are cheap, light but are prone to movement. A Jacuzzi bath tends to be great to begin with, but tend to clog up with lime scale if fitted without a water softener.

7. Flooring – Do you want tiles, with underfloor heating, vinyl,or wood?

8. Heating – Do want a statement radiator, or heated towel rails? Do you want the heated towel rails to be dual fuel? (Duel fuel means having a separate electric switch fitted which can be used to warm and dry towels when the main heating is not switched on).

9. What do you want on your walls? Do you want it fully tiled, or only in wet areas? Do you want different tiles  in different areas? How do you want the tiles hung? Landscape, portrait or brick style?

10. Budget – What is your budget? You usually get what you pay for in terms of quality in the product.

Once you have narrowed down your wants, needs and desires, then go to a bathroom show room, knowing what it is you require from your bathroom.