Friday, 23 March 2018

Our Place: Planning the dream

Its been a long time in coming, almost five years with a leaky roof, a window that doesn't shut in the bathroom and no real shower. But we have broken ground and we are finally remodelling!

It's actually quite tricky designing for your own home, especially when both of you have strong opinions/ passions and particularly when one of you thinks he is 'The Client' with the final say... eh em... not naming any names.

Usually, when I go to a clients home for the first time, I have the advantage of fresh eyes and impartial perspective. However when you've lived in a place for a while I find you adapt to it and become blinded to its inefficiencies. 

So its challenging but also the best fun, so much freedom to play with concepts you'd loved but never been able to see in reality. We are on a budget so I am working hard at sourcing reasonable finishes and furniture and will be looking at ways we can facelift items that we already own. All of which I plan to share as we go...

For today I'm sharing our proposed floor plans and some of the mood boards (above) we are using as a starting point for sourcing.

The ground floor wrap around extension:

New garage and workshop
New utility with external and garage access
Extended kitchen and dining area
New corridor from the entrance to the back garden
Small extension to the front living room

First floor extended area: 44.5 m2

First Floor Extension:

New open plan study area to the first floor landing
New box room
New master suite with walk in wardrobe and ensuite
New family bathroom

First floor extended area: 34.5m2

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Our Place: The Planning Application Process

We have planning! 

It took a little while to achieve but we have it!

I’ve been through the planning process many times and thought I knew exactly how to get what we wanted. However every day is a school day, and there were some do’s and don’ts we learned along the way if you're planning a scheme that’s a bit more unusual:

Do give yourselves some room to negotiate

If you're pushing the limits of what you think is acceptable there is no harm in preparing yourself with some pre-assessed compromises. 

To get our scheme through we agreed to:
  • Change the cladding from the somewhat risqué black zinc to timber cladding
  • Remove our projecting balcony
  • Reduce our overhangs

Do go and talk to your neighbours

Ours were pretty unhappy and it was uncomfortable, but I think the relationship is still intact and we’ve actually gotten to know one side better. The other side not so much!

Do talk to your planner or have your architect talk to your planner

Despite initial reservations, we were able to convince our planner that the modern approach we were taking, at the rear of the property, was a more honest representation of the sustainable timber frame construction method we wanted to use.

Don’t be afraid to chase your planner

I was very keen to keep a good relationship with our planner and resisted chasing her before she went on holiday and as a result, we ended up having two extensions of time on the planning decision. Mistake!

Offer to compromise before you get formal feedback- the jury is out

The last do/ don’t is a bit tricky as I can’t tell if our process was slowed down or if it’s ultimately what got us through so I’ll just tell the story.

After the comments from our neighbours (some of which were quite damning and not representative of the discussions we had), I called the planners and offered to compromise the scheme if they could give us some formal feedback. 

We waited a long time for the feedback due to holidays and difficulty seeing our neighbours and this resulted in our planning decision being delayed by about 6 weeks, but ultimately due to our being willing to compromise we achieved planning first time with just a few tweaks to the dwgs....

Approved planning scheme from the front

Approved planning scheme from the rear

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

[Your] Place; Bespoke Kitchens

I'm designing a full-scale renovation for my Mum's house; the works include a new staircase, four new bathrooms, external cladding and the creation of a master suite with balcony.

The focus of the scheme, as attested by the Pinterest board, is definitely the kitchen.

It's true the kitchen is the heart of the home and where everyone gravitates towards on almost any social occasion.

Today's aspirations for kitchen design reflect it's prominent place in our daily lives. Clients want to create a beautiful and functional area of the open plan living space with as much attention to detail and personal style as any bespoke piece of furniture deserves.

So lets make it personal...

In my quest to design the perfect kitchen I have discovered some spectacularly clever people who make bespoke fronts for standard units and bespoke kitchens and I couldn't wait to share...

Shaker Doors [Based in Oxford]
These guys make bespoke kitchen doors for standard units as well as external and internal doors

Superfront [Based in Stockholm]
A simply gorgeous range of fronts handles and side panels to turn the most popular Ikea cabinets into stunning bespoke pieces to your specification. I love literally everything.

Bespokea [Based in London]
A small company run by Ben Duncan with a great list of clients. Bespokea makes fronts for Ikea Cabinets at a very reasonable price.

Sustainable Kitchens [Based in Bristol]
A super friendly personable company, who make beautiful bespoke kitchens, with a sustainable ethos.

The opportunities are endless and you get a bespoke product created by craftsmen with a personal service.

Its an exciting way to support and make sure we keep our crafts skills and allows people to afford options that may have previously been unobtainable. An all round win.

I literally can not wait to do ours!

Sunday, 11 December 2016

[Your] Place: A winter update, That's not just for Christmas

It's officially winter here in Blighty; December is in full swing, festive lights are twinkling and the parties are in full swing.

So it seemed very timely to have been encouraged by Jordan at Douglas Elliman’s Florida office to write a blog post that would inspire people to cosy up their homes for the oncoming season.

This post has been conjugating in my mind since we first decorated our lounge (you can see the original decor here) which has been designed with a neutral base to allow us to change it up seasonally. 

Many people decorate their homes exclusively for Christmas festivities, but I wanted to create a scheme with a big more longevity that celebrates the beauty of the winter season, lasts well beyond the month of December and could just as easily be implemented in warmer (than freezing) climates.

My first step is always a mood board, a collection of images, textures, materials and photographs that start to shape the feel of the scheme I want to create. Pintrest is such great platform for this. You can see the full board here [Your] Place: Winter Wonderland.

I wanted to create a relaxing colour scheme, inspired by the colours of winter. A palette which creates a feeling of cosy, refined opulence through the use of natural materials and variety in texture. 

I also wanted to bring some of the freshness of the outdoors inside, to create a connection bring in some of the evergreen life and beautiful muted blues and greens of Eucalyptus. 

So here are my easy updates...

1) Cushions & Textiles

One of the easiest updates, with the most impact, is to change the textiles.
When coming up with the original scheme for the lounge I kept the base monochrome and of colour limited to throw cushions and artwork for exactly this reason. 

I've kept our teal cushions but removed the mustard yellow and bright pink for the time being. I've introduced a more muted colour palette of pinks and greys, inspired by the mood board above, and introduced a wider range of texture to keep things interesting and feeling sumptuous. Choosing to mix up textures in a simple colourway really gives a lot of freedom to just pick up the things that appeal to you, without worrying about clashes or mismatches. 

2) Plants, flowers and greenery

There are many studies into the positive and uplifting effects that a connection with nature has on the human psyche. I used a lot of greenery in the scheme as a cost effective and sustainable way to resist the stuffiness that can come with winter. 

My home is full or succulents a year round, as they are easy to maintain (I've got previous as a plant killer), and come in a vast variety of shapes and colours. 

Introducing seasonal evergreens connects the existing succulent plants with the seasonal update and brings a fresh fragrance into the home. The use of similar evergreens in each space is a cost effective way to create a cohesive look throughout your home and a chance to get a bit creative. I used two bunches of Eucalyptus from our local flower market [£15] but you could just as easily go foraging in your garden. 

3) Accessories

I've introduced some marble accessories into the lounge area to build on the muted natural colour palette and texture. The coasters and tray were from Home Sense but I have found a similar tray and coasters from Olivia Bonas 

4) Lighting

Lighting is one of the most powerful tools to change the way a space feels. I'm a great believer in levels of lighting, table, floor lamps and candles are a permanent feature in our home. 

For the winter update I've used white, cream and grey candles in every room. I've also added a wooden garland with fairy lights in the lounge.

The antler candle holders on the mantle piece were from H&M last year but I found a similar Branch Candle Holder this year.

5) The Tree

Our tree is a mixture of metallics and white, every year I buy a new ornament (or two) this years additions was from our new John Lewis store, available here and from Olivia Bonas available here 

6) Table settings

Food and drink is a big focus of the festive period, and they say you eat with your eyes so the table setting deserves some good attention. 

Every year we lose at least a couple of glasses, due to my chaotic demeanour, so this year we recycled the odd ones and stocked up with cheap and (I think) stylishly cheerful glasses from Ikea, suitable for a range of cocktails. The tall tumblers are my particular favourite. The stopper bottles are to avoid that last minute 'who needs a drink?' as you're trying to get all the food to the table.

The washed linen table runner is from H&M which not only provides variety in texture but also protects the table from hot dishes. The paper napkins are also from Ikea and the napkin holder is from H&M

The total cost of the lounge update was around £155 and will (mostly) last well beyond Christmas. For me its about creating a home that you long to be in without breaking the bank.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

[Our] Place; For the Love of Dogs

Inspiration- Monochrome & Graphic prints-Osborne and Little’s best in Show Wallpaper [£55 per roll]

Best Find- Centre footstool in TKMaxx [£86]

 I love our lounge; Once a separate Lounge and Dining Room it was been knocked through into one big space when the kitchen was extended by the previous owners. 
This is great for floor area but it made it a little difficult to decide how to furnish it…as it is essentially a very long thin room with one source of natural light from the window at one end.
After much consideration we decided to give each end of the lounge distinct purpose and feel but with a cohesive undertone to the colour scheme so it still feels like a single space. We kept the furniture arrangement flexible so we can adapt when entertaining.

Most of the base finishes, for example the floor and the neutral wall colour have been kept the same- its amazing the difference a few highlight colours and patterns and some new furniture can make to how a space feels.

We’ve created the TV end and the Snug OR if we want to be more slightly more pretentious The Lounge and The Drawing Room.

The Snug
The Snug is free from the distractions of TV and allows us a more social side to our living space, its focal point is the fireplace. It also gives me a cosy place to read and blog in comfort away from constant infliction of Top Gear.

The existing fire place influenced the tone for the space; I love its ornate detail contrasting with its antiqued pewter finish.

We enhanced the focus on the fireplace with a large angled mirror mounted above it. The angled frame reflects light and external views into this, the darker end of the lounge.
Angled Mirror from Homebase and Candle Holders from H&M Home
We painted the chimney breast Dulux Perfectly Taupe to complement the pewter fireplace and either side we wallpapered the alcoves in a textured silver paper by Art House Vintage to enhance the feeling of symetry (in non symetrical shapes- one is a rectangular recess and one is an arch).
Original Artwork By Eturpart [My super talented sister]
White Ikea Besta unit creates a bar area with original Artwork of my favorite drink by my very talented sister.

The distinction between the Snug and the Lounge is defined by a painted charcoal line, on the inside of the wall opening between the spaces. The same treatment has been used on the inside of the arch between the lounge and kitchen diner to create a visual link and flow between the spaces.

The Lounge
The Osborne and Little; Best in Show wallpaper is the defining finish. It’s strong graphic print in monochrome tones which is absolutely perfect for making a statement without committing to a feature colour. 

The L-shaped sofa is designed to create a social setting allowing the three seater to be swung around to face the window for more than four guests.

Slate grey curtains reflect the dark painted lines inside the wall opening and frame the window.

The rug, which I searched high and low for but eventually found in B&Q, has the same strength of pattern and monochrome shades as the wallpaper, creating a pattern clash that doesn't directly compete with the wallpaper. [I will be doing a blog post on geometric rugs soon as requested by my good friend Rob]

The monochrome palette for the big ticket items provides the perfect base for an injection of colour, provided in this case from the rich and vibrant velvet cushions from H&M- which I raved about here

The cushion colours were selected to bring rich colours and metallics together in the canvas I created.
Cushions from H&M Home

 Finally accessories are, well... quite bling! Bold colours, sumptuous fabrics and metallic shine.

Artwork by me

Creating Visual Links

  • There are a few strong themes in this room, graphic patterns, metallics and bright feature colours- but they work together because I've matched fabric tones and textures, and kept the patterns monochrome.
  • The snug has more metallic finishes and the lounge has more pattern but my making sure there are consistant colour tones and materials it forms a quirky cohesive scheme. The canvas I created ties all of the themes together and was easy peasy to do.
  • Painted charcoal wall openings are echoed by the charcoal curtains framing the windows.
  • The charcoal colour and strong graphic prints which bright contrasting colours are continued in the kitchen. [Post to follow]
  • The lampshades in both rooms are consistent and we choose large fittings close to the ceiling to maximise the visual impact and effectiveness of the lighting- these are a firm favorite also used in A Place to Entertain for Victoria Hale
  • Cushions and sofa fabrics are velvet which provides the same depth of colour and sheen.

Doggy Wallpaper inspired by Milo- our dearly departed best bud

Friday, 19 September 2014

Inspiration from Travel: Californian Boutique Hotels

This time last year we were preparing for an amazing USA West Coast Road Trip from San Francisco to Las Vegas. 

I was extremely excited as we decided to splash out on the hotels which allowed hours of perusing beautiful hotel websites. Here are the best of where we stayed:

A world of quirky cool fun complete with a metallic dogs (and you know I love a dog), a giant Plinko* Wall, graffiti décor and huge chandeliers made from coloured reading glasses.
*For anyone not familiar (which includes me) Plinko seems to be like a penny arcade machine but with a basketball instead of a coin… fun though!

I loved this hotel, warm natural wood tones and leather contrasted with bright pops of colour. In the bedrooms urber cool bedside table lamps, luxurious bed head and amazing book shelf wall paper in the ensuite made it feel like we were staying in a cool city loft- which I suppose we were.

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 Monterey- Portola Hotel and Spa
Monterey is the only other place I would want to live, it is truly idyllic and we saw more amazing wildlife on our morning walk than you would see on an average trip to a British zoo.

Monterey may be the best place in the world or I may have been swayed by the WARM chocolate chip cookie presented to us on arrival.
It was a shame we only stayed here for one night and didn’t have time to explore the spa which is connected to the hotel via a large covered courtyard illuminated by fairy light decorated tress but we did partake in the Micro-brewery bar (with its fire pit tables) and I really enjoyed the décor of the rooms.

They were simple with gorgeous white sheets bold nautical prints and beautiful white wooden shutters with views to tree lined streets. The show stopper for me was the en-suite and when we redo our bathroom I will be stealing more than a few details from this design.




This hotel was pure cool, dark and luxurious.


We all know ensuites in hotels are wonderful but the three in the hotels I've shared about were examplary- everything was exactly where you wanted it before you even know that you needed it- and that is the best design compliment ever.

Watch this space for California Chic influeneces coming soon.