Larders and Pantries

Walk in pantry with shelves and storage jars
Walk in pantry with shelves and storage jars
A walk in pantry

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!

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.

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.

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.

A kitchen plan including walk in pantry design
A kitchen plan which includes a walk in pantry design

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.

 

 

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?

 

 

Utility and Boot Rooms

Interior decoration in our main living areas is always top of our priorities. However, have you ever wondered when walking around beautifully staged show homes where you will keep your vacuum cleaner? Indeed if the home does not have a utility room, where you will keep your ironing board, iron, the pile of ironing for that matter, and the plethora of cleaning materials – in the kitchen or under-stairs cupboard? Even the most modest of Victorian terraced homes had an out house or scullery with a sink and perhaps an old copper to heat the water for wash day. Laundry was not generally performed in the kitchen, this was kept for food preparation only. In today’s modern, modest homes the washing machine is located in the kitchen, which means losing valuable cupboard space. The same loss of space if you have a dryer, and associated cleaning materials and tools. If you have the space, then a utility room is a must.

The minimum space required along a wall is 190 cm, this would allow 60 cm width for the washing machine, 60 cm for the sink and draining board and 60 cm for a tall cupboard to house products and tools – even the vacuum cleaner. If you have a dryer this can be put on top of the washing machine. The minimum depth of space required is 1500.  60cm  being the average measurement of appliances and cupboards, plus room to open the appliance and cupboard doors. Layout examples below.

Utility rooms are best located near the kitchen, with it’s own access to the garden. This allows ease of access to the garden for the washing line, and somewhere to leave muddy footwear and hang everyday outerwear. If a separate room is not possible, and you have an integral garage, which does not house your car, but used for general storage, section a partition wall and place your utility area in the garage. Another option is to designate one wall in your kitchen (or elsewhere if space allows) as the laundry area (minus a sink) and hang sliding or bi-fold  doors across the whole lot, so it looks like a cupboard when not in use.

Plumbing requirements need to be planned, hot and cold supply to the sink, cold water to the washing machine and waste from both into a drain. If opting for a dryer too it will need venting through an outside wall. If this is not possible opt for a condensing dryer. Washer dryers are an option too, but these need to be vented.

White Goods -Appliances – Buy the best quality you can afford. Meille being the top of the range.  Consider whether you want integrated appliances, hidden behind doors. If so you need to purchase integrated appliances specifically designed for the purpose.

Cupboards and Storage – A tall cupboard with well designed interior space arranged so that items can be easily retrieved. Think about whether yo would prefer doors or drawers under the sink. A ‘Sheila Maid’ or rack above the sink for drying clothes is useful.

Flooring – Porcelain or ceramic floor tiles are durable, waterproof and are the best choice in utility rooms. If the room is directly off the kitchen, use the same floor tiles as the kitchen as this makes the space larger. Lay electric matting underfloor heating under the tiles instead of a radiator. This frees up valuable space and prevents the floor from being cold.

Rustic hard wearing tiled floor
A hard wearing rustic tiled floor

Lighting – If space, opt for a window as well as a door, if not have a door fitted with glass to let natural day light in. Energy efficient, good quality  daylight white or warm white fluorescent tubes provide the most economic, practical and shadow free task light. Under cupboard downlights, track spot or pendant lights are also an option.

Sinks  – Consider the use of the sink. If used for cleaning muddy football boots the  Butler sink is ideal. If only used for water to wash the floor a stainless steel or ceramic sink will be adequate. A high level mono tap is best in a utility room, so you can fill a bucket or whatever easily. Worktops – Your choice of work top will be lead by your choice of sink. However, laminate is fine, but will not stand up to hard wear and tear. A granite or stone composite is hard wearing and grooves can be cut for drainage, eliminating the need for a sink and drainer set up.

Decor – If the room is accessed directly from the kitchen, use the same wall paint or a tonal shade. If having a splash back behind the sink use the same tiles as in the kitchen if you have them. If not a plain white brick style tile will create a utilitarian feel.

A Home for Everything

Built in shelving display
Calming blue and attractive display of your possessions

If you’re having to self isolate, concerned about finances, working from home in an uncertain future it may help to focus on your home. After all, more time than ever is going to spent there. What can you do to improve your surroundings, with little cost, now you may have the time to do all those jobs you never got around to. To feel you have control over something in your life, clear out the clutter, clean, repair, making the most of what you already have, in readiness to move forward when life improves. It could be just the therapy you need.

Toilet roll storage idea
Clever idea for toilet roll storage, if you managed to get any!

 

Spring is a good time of the year to have a good clear out, sort out and clean. A ‘tidyish’ house is calming, easier to clean and helps the space appear larger. I say ‘tidyish’ because if you have a family you do not want to make everyone’s lives a misery by being anal about it, it’s a home too, but isn’t it a joy and surprise to find something (like scissors and sticky tape) where they are supposed to be, without wasting time and energy hunting for it, only to find it in some obscure place. Continue reading “A Home for Everything”

Hall, Stairs and Landings

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.

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.

Mirrors and lighting have been used to light and add interest to the stair well.
Mirrors and lighting have been used to light and add interest to the stair well.

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.

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.

New Uses for Old Stuff

I recently came across an unwanted telephone table. Remember the days when one had to conduct phone conversations in the hall because that was where the phone connection was? Ceasing talking when someone walked past, or whispering secret things to friends, boyfriends’ or girlfriends’ so as not to be overheard by any eavesdroppers. The days prior to mobile’s and text’s. So the telephone table is now an un-required item of furniture, and there it stood, a ‘White Elephant’ in this technological age. So I got to thinking about other uses for it. The unit provided some great storage with five drawers, and a space for stuff under the seat.

1. It still is great for a hall or boot room. All those drawers for hats, gloves and scarfs, shoe and boot storage and somewhere to sit to pull on and off those boots.

2. It would be great in a family bathroom, providing storage for towels, toiletries and all manner of items that generally clutter a bathroom. The storage below the bench seat is a great place to keep toilet rolls, shampoo and bath toys. The seat is great for sitting down whilst drying either yourself or young children.

3. In a child’s room it could be used a bedside table offering precious storage space for clothes, a seat for a child to sit and read or play. The space under the bench seat can be used for toys or shoes.

So, not only can a piece of furniture be up-cycled with some love and attention, but can be recycled for other purposes. To see all the examples go to Furniture listings.

Hide away all your bathroom clutter with great storage. Some where to sit too.
Hide away all your bathroom clutter with great storage. Some where to sit too.