It’s been a hectic year for Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd, aka me. My version of the Twelve Days of Christmas would go something like ‘6 living rooms, 5 bathrooms, 4 bedrooms, 3 kitchens, 1 dressing room, 1 dining room, 1 hallway, a pub, a showroom, a shop and an office. Good job I wasn’t approached by a partridge in a pear tree as I’d have had to turn it down.
I’ve been so busy I haven’t even had time to properly photograph finished projects to show you lovely people. I know I know the before and afters are the best bit. We all love howling at how ugly the old carpet/wallpaper/sofa was don’t we. So I promise to pull my finger out in the New Year….*adds another item to list of New Years resolutions after stop eating so much and start running again*
So although the room I’m about to show you was still missing a sofa and a sideboard when I left on Wednesday, and the pictures and gallery wall will go up in January I’m going to show you some pics anyway ‘cos it’s Christmas, it’s fabulous and it’s the largest single room I’ve ever decorated – I’ve got friends in London with smaller flats. So without further ado I present to you – the Ginormous Living Room.
Now before you start pointing fingers NONE of this was furnished or decorated by the homeowners. They inherited the whole kit and caboodle from the previous owners and have been saving since they bought the property so they could change everything. The challenge though was what to do with such a big room.
The good news was that the homeowners knew the look they wanted, which I call ‘modern country’. And that doesn’t mean Taylor Swift, it’s more about mixing traditionally rustic features with modern elements. You’ll see what I mean if I show you the plans. It took two moodboards the room is so big….
The newly decorated Ginormous Living Room
Now before I show you anything, please excuse the amateur iPhone photography, the sun kept streaming through the windows (what’s all that about in Cumbria in bloody December), so I’ve had to edit the pics to get rid of the glare. Please also avert your eyes from the rubbish outside which we haven’t had time to shift. Sorry, I’ll stop apologising and just get on with it – ta da!
Totally different room right? Bye bye ugly fake beams, antique pine clad ceiling and wrought iron staircase (we don’t even need to mention the carpet do we…). Hello beautiful, and relaxing but elegant living room.
That chimney was just crying out for a stove wasn’t it?
So I’ve given the room two zones – and this is the grown up’s bit for a glass of wine after the little’un is in bed and when they have friends round.
The plan was to paint the lower half of that coffee table in Farrow & Ball Rectory Red, and we might still.
I think the new lighting is my favourite bit.
So this is where the second couch (leather BTW) will go when it arrives. They did promise before Christmas so they still have 24hrs but I’m not holding my breath….
…and this is where the sideboard now sits in the more child friendly zone, i.e. wipe clean sofa, washable covers on the armchair and a very fluffy rug for floor play time. Now that the sideboard has arrived I can work out how big the gallery wall we have planned needs to be. I love that snuggler chair and footstool from IKEA, it’s a perfect match for the Laura Ashley plaid sofa isn’t it?
And just when you thought the room couldn’t get any bigger it wraps around into the dining room (the kitchen is to the left). I wish now I’d taken a decent pic of the new staircase that fabulous joiner Kevin Robinson supplied and fitted, but you’ll see it when I do the final photographs.
So it brought a few challenges – that high ceiling being one for the plasterers, decorator and electrician, and getting the layout right. But what a transformation eh?. I’m chuffed to bits with the result, and I must confess have a little bit of house envy.
No thats not a typo *tuts* and I’m not inviting you to snoop round my house either. Tho if you happen to be in the area and you bring biscuits I’m fairly sure I’d let you in. No, Mi Abode is a Scandinavian interiors and homeware retailer in Uppermill, Saddleworth. Which is a little off the beaten track for us Cumbrians but luckily also has an online store. Phew…
So what makes Mi Abode worth talking about? Well for starters they sell a mixture of beautiful but very affordable vintage and contemporary Scandinavian design pieces. But more importantly Mia the owner is actually Scandinavian, and many of the items she sells are actually from Sweden. But what I really love is that some of them are made by her mum Helga. Yes Helga. From Sweden. Could this Scandinavian interiors shop be any more authentic?
So want to see what caught my eye when I happened to be in Uppermill for a very important breakfast meeting (by which I mean a catch up with my sister over heavily buttered fruit toast and coffee)?
The first thing I spotted was these felt baskets. Perfect for rolled up towels or loo rolls in the bathroom, or magazines or throws in the living room.
And then I fell in love with these little fellas.
Mamma Helga makes these Elf Christmas decorations in various shapes, sizes and shades. I bought the big guy, now known as Lars. He will probably spend Christmas on the living room hearth but he will spend the rest of the year in my Scandi styled summer house……which just might have been featured in Real Homes magazine this month *tosses hair over shoulder celebrity style*
Mia stocks the key pieces needed to get Hygge like the Danes, i.e. scented candles throws and cushions
….and its not all monochrome.
She also has some pretty funky artwork…..
and fab lighting, including these concrete pendants.
The shop is a veritable treat for the eyes, everywhere you look there’s something you want to prod and poke
And its not just pretty stuff, there are practical things too. Instead of stuffing your kitchen drawers with postcards that you don’t want to throw away, recipes you’ve cut out of magazines and vouchers you want to keep, what about putting them in these cool storage books?
Quick apology to subscribers who have received this post via email twice. I’m trying to fix a problem with images not downloading……
It’s around this time of year I start taking a bath. And no I don’t neglect my personal hygiene for the rest of the year, I just prefer to shower every day. Well most days anyway. If you worked from home you’d stay in your PJ’s now and again if you could wouldn’t you? But when the temperature drops and it starts getting dark at 4pm submersing myself in hot water is way more appealing than rotating in the shower trying to keep every part of me warm. And god I like my bath water hot. Thanks to my sister my skin can withstand temperatures that would have a firefighter wincing. We were forced to share a bath as children and she would keep add scalding water to try and make me get out. She should have known better, I’m as stubborn as **** so she was never going to win that battle. She should have tried my brothers party trick, which was to do a number two, that got us both out of there sharpish……Anyway, I’m also no spring chicken these days and a hot bath stops me from seizing up after a long walk with the dog.
I’ve had to think about what someone might need from their bathroom as they get older quite a bit recently as two of my customers have asked me to design new bathrooms for them with this in mind. The additional challenge is that they are sisters so both bathrooms have to be different but equally fabulous so one sister doesn’t feel I’ve done a better job for her sibling. No pressure eh…..So if you’re knocking on a bit like me or helping an elderly friend or relative with their new bathroom you might find some of these ideas useful
The ‘Mature’ Bathroom
1. No nooks and crannies
The bathroom can be one of the hardest rooms to clean because of those annoying gaps behind the toilet or the sink (or freestanding bath). Now imagine trying to clean it with dodgy knees and failing eyesight. This is when you need to start thinking about fitted furniture, back to wall toilets and top mounted sinks or vanity units to close those gaps. If your bathroom is an awkward shape get a fitter that can do a bit of joinery and buy extra panels to fill in any gaps so that your furniture runs walls to wall.
And you don’t need to compromise on style any more. The manufacturers of fitted bathroom furniture have definitely upped their game in the last few years, and there’s now a huge range of traditional and contemporary styles available. You don’t need to worry about post-Brexit price increases either as there are plenty of British manufacturers, like West Yorkshire-based Ellis who have apparently been in business since 1891 (they must have been furnishing outside loos then…)
2. Wall panels
I’m a tile fan and would put them in just about any room. They are just so diverse, you’ve got colours, textures, shapes, sizes, tiling patterns, and grout colours to work with. However, if you’re trying to minimise cleaning then wall panels, particularly in the shower, make way more sense. Until fairly recently I’d avoided them like the plague as I’d only ever seen sparkly ones which frankly reminded me of school changing rooms. However I’m about to use white metro tile effect panels in a project that starts next week so I’ll let you have the verdict on those shortly. I’m also about to recommend these Aqua Reflect acrylic shower panels to one of the sisters.
3. The rimless toilet
Sticking with the ‘easy to clean’ theme. Another way to minimise cleaning is a toilet that cleans itself, or most of itself anyway. The new rimless designs basically push water all around the bowl to just below seat level and apparently use less water so are also more efficient. If you’re a little OCD fanatical about a clean loo then you might enjoy this video. I make no apologies – t’s actually quite interesting, honest…
4. Concealed thermostatic vs electric showers
If a customer wants or needs an electric shower (because of their boiler type or water pressure) then I will happily provide them with a copy of the latest Which? report on electric showers but I will not pick one for them. Simply because electric showers are exceptionally temperamental and what works in one household apparently doesn’t always work the same in another. Check out Amazon reviews on the top electric showers and you’ll see what a minefield it is. It’s their reputation for unexpected temperature changes that means I definitely wouldn’t recommend one to someone elderly, imagine what the shock could do…. But if you have a combi boiler you can’t beat a thermostatic shower for reliability, and if you want easy to clean then go for either a single outlet on a riser so you can take the head off the riser to clean the walls and shower screens, or one with a fixed shower head and a second handheld outlet for cleaning.
5. Comfort height toilets
So from hygiene to ageing. First off I suggest you go and sit on one of these comfort height toilets before you declare them the saviour of your dodgy knees. The seat is higher than a standard toilet so you don’t need to squat as low, which in theory sounds great. But if you’re a little vertically challenged like me your feet don’t touch the floor which quickly makes your legs and bum go numb, and you have to hop off when you’ve finished which will play havoc with your knees if they are a bit dodgy. Now without wanting to get into the finer details studies actually show that the natural squat position improves our ability to ‘eliminate’ for want of a better phrase. And it is thought that better ‘elimination’ can prevent ailments like bloating, straining, hemorrhoids and constipation. So who knows perhaps the next generation of toilets will be the opposite of comfort height and actually feature harnesses or handrails to help us squat lower?
6. Grip handles
One of the sisters wants to keep a bath in her bathroom as she has a separate shower room downstairs and has asked for grip handles. This typically means you’re limited to a standard single ended bath which is what I’m recommending, but this is largely because we’re also limited to a length of 1600mm.
But if you did want something a bit different I found this cool double ended bath with headrests and a grip handle. Who says you have to stop sharing the bath as you get older…
7. Vinyl floor
The other request I usually get when designing bathrooms for older people is vinyl flooring. Most of them would still prefer carpet, but they have realised how impractical it is in a bathroom, and although they are not ready for tiles (unless we’re fitting underfloor heating) they have accepted the idea of vinyl. Though typically they don’t like the wood or stone effects. Thankfully vinyl has also got a lot better in the last few years and I’ve recently discovered two brands with patterns even I would consider – imagine?
Harvey Maria has a great range of subtle patterns and colours. I’m thinking about this sage green pattern for one of the sisters to go with the Aqua Reflect wall panels.
There are of course other things you need to consider when designing a bathroom for someone older, such as good lighting and heating, but these things apply whatever your age. But if you are planning a new bathroom and like me you’re the wrong side of 40 maybe you’re not quite ready for bath grips and a comfort height toilet but easier cleaning has got to be appealing surely?
Ready for the final instalment of Eleven Beautiful Kitchens? Well I say final, as soon as we’ve fitted the things that didn’t arrive on time I’ll be getting the professional photographer in and you won’t be able to stop me showing you a bunch more pics – sorry.
If you missed parts one and two you can catch up here and here. So, three to go and I’ve saved the stunner until last. No, don’t scroll down to the bottom, be polite and at least skim through the others.
Eleven Beautiful Kitchens – The Final Instalment
9. The Budget But Beautiful Kitchen
Not everyone has a big budget for a new kitchen so we have both affordable and high end kitchens in the showroom. But a low budget doesn’t mean poor quality or plain which is demonstrated in this kitchen which has simple Bardolino grey oak floor cupboards and worktop, which gives a seamless finish, with white oak effect wall cupboards. I forgot to take a pic but the lower cupboard carcasses are also Bardolino grey oak which looks really neat. The sink and all the appliances are white, including the hood which will be changed next week when the traditional style chimney extractor which was supposed to be there arrives *frowns and takes a deep breath*. The walls are tiled with simple white metro tiles but with black grout to give it a contemporary look. The drawer handles, cupboard knobs and the tap are chrome and white ceramic. The overall look being a modern take on a traditional kitchen.
10. The Marilyn Monroe Kitchen
I’ve named this kitchen after the late screen goddess because like Marilyn it’s bold with great curves, and it’s real name is Milton which isn’t half as sexy. This is actually the same colour as my own kitchen at home and we included these colours in the showroom because its so striking and it’s been in a magazine you know *smiles and nods proudly*. The doors have been colour matched to Farrow & Ball Rectory Red and Clunch and look great with the black granite worktop between. The granite has a matt dimpled finish which I prefer to the polished sparkly granites you usually see in kitchens. Ever since we fitted this kitchen people have been doing a double take when they walk past the showroom and coming back for a proper look. We included this door style so that we could show off the great curved doors, and I picked the Moroccan style tiles to mirror those curves. There are supposed to be open oak shelves above the sink and more of those lovely tiles but we just ran out of time….
11. The BEAUTIFUL Kitchen
OK, so this is the kitchen that got the most votes at the weekend and I won’t lie it’s not cheap. If you’ve a reasonable sized kitchen expect to pay £20-25k for one of these, but it would last you a lifetime and give all your friends serious kitchen envy. It’s from the 1909 range by PWS and it is gorgeous. When I originally planned this kitchen it was going to be charcoal and light grey, but then I visited the PWS showroom in Durham and fell in love with Moleskin which is the colour on the floor cupboards and island – if you can’t see the colour in the pics imagine a really good malbec. It makes the veining in the marble effect silestone look purple too which was a pleasant surprise. This kitchen is packed with features; a huge larder with pull out storage, a curved apron front Belfast sink, a mantelpiece with built in cupboards, bookcases flanking the island, champagne and herb troughs in the island and a cloakroom feature. I was concerned that it might look a little stark with the light grey wall cupboards, white wall tiles and marbled worktop so I had the area around the stainless steel range tiled with black batik tiles from Topps which really stand out and look fabulous when you look between the two enormous pendant lights. There were supposed to be three pendants but one arrived broken, and on reflection I actually prefer it with two now. So take a look…..
So that’s all eleven beautiful kitchens. We also built two sales areas and a new reception area, but I’ll show you those when I have the pro’s pics.
This has been my biggest commercial project and I have thoroughly enjoyed it from start to (almost) finish. There have been times when I’ve wanted to kill someone. Others have also come close to killing me with my ‘diva designer demands’. My reaction to the wrong white hood in the budget kitchen not being my finest moment….But the comments from the owners, the suppliers, the team I’ve been working with and the customers has been worth it. Here are a few of my favourites:
It doesn’t feel like a kitchen showroom, it feels like a home”
“I wasn’t planning to change my kitchen for a while yet but your showroom has inspired me to start the process now and I’d like your help”
I was going to buy a new car in 2017 but after seeing your showroom I’ve decided to buy a new kitchen instead”
Now how’s that for positive feedback. Keep checking back for pics of the things that didn’t make the grand re-opening….and if you’ve got a mo let me know which was your favourite.
Ready for some more beautiful kitchens? If you missed yesterday, just pop back here to catch up and then come join us. In the meantime I’m going to apologise again for some of the pics, I’m an interior designer not a professional photographer. The pro will do it justice in a couple of weeks but I just couldn’t wait to show you these beautiful kitchens.
Eleven Beautiful Kitchens – Part II
5. The Man Kitchen
I named this one on Sunday after yet another fella in the showroom homed in and said it was the one for them because it was ‘manly’. There were female fans too but it was definitely a fave among the fellas, and not just because of the colour scheme, they also liked the pull out larders and the tambour unit with black glass door. If you’re not familiar with a tambour unit it’s basically a cupboard with internal plug sockets and a glass shutter door for people who don’t like having their kettle and toaster on display – apparently big with the fellas. Anyway my intent with the design was to show customers that you can have a natural wood kitchen without it looking old fashioned. The solid wood handleless doors look great against the black laminate worktop and wall panels. Even the sink is black. I particularly like how the grooves used to open the doors are lined to match the worktop.
I also wanted to show how you can lower the breakfast bar to dining chair level which makes it better for small children or vertically challenged people like me who don’t like to have their legs swinging. The Germans love to integrate everything and this kitchen has a very handy rail system below the wall cupboards with a range of fittings available including a knife block, utensil rack and shelves for storage pots or herbs.
The overall look feels a bit Japanese to me hence the faux bonsai trees. We also got a few enquiries about the shelf lights, which were a Homesense find so I’ll need to source something similar that we can offer customers. There should have been a square black ceiling mounted extractor but this was another late delivery….
6. The Corpse Green Kitchen
The colour of this kitchen is actually Copse Green but one of the fitters kept calling it Corpse Green, which might be accurate but doesn’t really sell it. When I was doing research for the showroom displays I came across a picture of a dark green kitchen on Houzz with a white worktop and black accessories which looked fab, and there’s nowt wrong with a little plagiarism in the pursuit of beautiful kitchens is there. This has some great pull out storage in the larder and in the corner unit. If you’re wondering why there is a pendant light hanging over dead space at the end of the counter check back in a couple of weeks and I’ll show you the raised breakfast bar that didn’t make it on time *scowls*, and the white glass splashback, also on its way…..
7. The Modern Cumbrian Kitchen
Steve is the CKC tiler and the split face tiles on this kitchen nearly ended our friendship. They aren’t practical in a kitchen, particularly not as a splashback, they’re not easy to fit and they’re not cheap. But god don’t they look lovely? This kitchen design is all about lines. The straight lines in the run of cupboards with high gloss handleless doors and the long in-line hob, the sharp lines of the wide rectangular extractor, and the horizontal lines in the impractical but beautiful split face tiles. The in-line hob is basically 4 cooking zones in a straight line. If you fit it at the back of your counter instead of centrally it gives you extra prep area in front of your hob and also means you don’t have pan handles hanging over your counter – a rather nice safety feature.
Cumbria is a very rural county with a lot of period properties and homeowners here often feel they need to have a traditional kitchen. So I also wanted to show that you can combine an uber modern glossy kitchen with more traditional elements like natural stone or stone effect features, in this case the wall tiles and the slate effect silestone worktop.
8. The Loft Apartment Kitchen
Now this is my favourite kitchen. I love rooms which feature raw materials in their decor, particularly loft or warehouse apartments with exposed brickwork, wood floors and steel girders. So in this kitchen I included wood, brick, metal and leather and it was hugely popular at the weekend because despite the steel features it looks so warm and inviting. People kept asking me if the walls were clad in actual bricks because the tiles which are from Topps look so realistic. The leather door handles were a little like marmite – you either loved them or hated them, but the point was to show people something they might not have seen before. Personally I love them, but then I also love marmite. We also wanted to show people that if you have a narrow galley kitchen you don’t need to have full depth floor cupboards on both sides, you can use wall cupboards on the floor one one side so that you can have storage and floor space.
So what do you think of these? Found a favourite yet? Three more to come and I’ve saved the best one until last…..
If you’re not already sat down then I suggest you take a seat PDQ because I’m about to show you some seriously beautiful kitchens. It’s been nine months since Cockermouth Kitchen Co was flooded (for the second time sadly…) but their new showroom is finally open and I couldn’t be prouder of what the team has achieved. As the designer I’ve been visualising this for months but it has still exceeded my expectations, and the owners. It flows, there’s space, light, colour, detail and personal touches…..but enough gushing, lets show you lovely people some beautiful kitchens, not all at once mind, it’s way too much to take in at one sitting.
Eleven Beautiful Kitchens – Part I
1. The Great British Kitchen
This kitchen was actually made in Germany by Schuller but the red, white and blue feels very patriotic hence the name. We had chefs cooking in here over the weekend as part of the Taste Cumbria food festival in Cockermouth and as the display is in the window it was all a bit Saturday Kitchen. It has a high gloss handleless design with a single run of dark blue cabinets behind a huge white island. Most of the appliances are wall mounted so they are easily accessed and cleaned and the ovens have slide and hide doors which I love. We did order a white ceramic hob for the island but we needed to fit a temporary black 13 amp one for the weekend cooking demo’s… *tuts like a diva*. The worktop is white silestone and includes a moulded silestone sink and a very fancy (i.e. expensive) white mixer tap with pull aerator and light which changes colour depending on the temperature of the water. Completely frivolous but very cool. Although I love the contrast between the indigo blue and white I thought the red accents would perk it up a bit. Please try and ignore the fact that our neighbours across the street are having a sale. At least their sign matches…
Not lots of pics I’m afraid as its really really hard to photograph such a glossy kitchen, so you’ll need to wait till the pro does his magic next month.
2. The Retro Kitchen
The owners were really not happy very sceptical when I told them I was putting a brown and yellow kitchen in their new showroom. To be honest this colour combo usually reminds me of the nylon and knitwear outfits me and my poor sister used to wear in the 70’s so I surprised myself with this design. This is also a Schuller kitchen and the two things I wanted to show in this display were the slab door with unusual moulded edges and the integrated door handles. I picked a brown worktop and sink to match the doors to keep the look simple – there’s enough going on with those yellow doors right? The worktop has a matt marbled finish and is from the Dekton silestone range by Cosentino, and the Cristadur top mounted sink is by Schock. I think its the Ochre Catania tiles from Topps that really finish it off though, oh and my faux lemons of course. Please ignore the chimney extractor, this was a last minute addition when we realised the proper one hadn’t been ordered….
3. The Shaker Meets Industrial Kitchen
This is the third out of five Schuller kitchens we are displaying and I wanted to show that shaker style doesn’t have to mean traditional so I added a polished steel effect silestone worktop, industrial tiling, reclaimed wood lights and vintage swivel stools. I love the huge wrap around breakfast bar and round cupboard at the end. It also features my two favourite appliances, a dual temperature wine fridge for lovers of red and white wine (is there anyone that doesn’t love both?), and a 90cm wide two drawer fridge which I have at home. I can’t show you a pic of the fridge in action as it didn’t arrive on time so the doors are just hiding a hole right now…
4. The Late Bloomer Kitchen
I call it this because nobody in the team was loving this plain mid-grey slab door kitchen when it got fitted. And they didn’t love the polished copper handles when they arrived, “cheap looking” being the phrase most used (how very dare they). But when we fitted those handles they started to take notice. Then we added the polished copper tap, geometric tiles and copper accessories and bam! suddenly they got it. This is now a kitchen with impact. It also has a sleek Corian worktop with moulded Corian sink which is rather lovely.
So that’s all you’re getting for now, more to follow this week. I’d love to know if you have a favourite so far?
I’m not ashamed to say I’m a teeny bit competitive……Ok so there might have been an incident at an office Christmas party many years ago when I just might have physically injured one or two colleagues in my enthusiasm to win a game of musical chairs. But what’s the point of playing a game other than to win? Which is why I’m particularly loving one of my current projects. My customer has a budget that most people would use to upgrade their kitchen, but we’re going to redecorate his whole house, including a new kitchen and bathroom. Now how’s that for a challenge?
All interior designers love the big budget jobs, I mean who wouldn’t enjoy spending mega bucks. But (maybe perversely) I actually prefer the challenge of creating something beautiful on a budget. I think it’s because the customer really appreciates the value you’ve added by stretching their budget. And trust me it’s a hell of a lot harder to work with a small budget, which plays to my (highly) competitive nature.
The budget bathroom challenge
My customer has known for a while that his house has needed attention, but a combination of time, budget, overwhelming choices and the work involved has caused him to procrastinate. Then a few weeks ago he slipped in the shower and grabbed the shower curtain, which brought the rail crashing down. So he grabbed the wall, which brought a handful of tiles off. And it was at that point he decided enough was enough. And just to prove I’m not exaggerating for dramatic effect here’s a picture of the crime scene.
Most of my customers have no idea what it will cost to update their home, so one of the first things I do is give them an estimate of what I think they’ll need spend to achieve what they want. If that exceeds the figure they had in mind we tweak or scale back their plans. If it doesn’t, job’s a good ‘un and we crack on. I went through this process with my customer, we agreed a budget and how we would allocate this between rooms so we were good to go.
If you have a small bathroom and you’re not able to do any of the work yourself you can expect to spend at least £2-3k, and it can easily exceed that, especially if you want a walk in shower. The biggest element of this will be the labour cost, so the best way to manage this is to find a fitter that can do everything. which can be (to use one of Mr W’s delightful phrases) ‘as rare as rocking horse shit’. But once you start adding up quotes from a plumber, an electrician, a tiler and maybe a joiner or plasterer it starts getting pricey. Thankfully I work with a multi-skilled fitter – the fabulous Ben Butler.
There are a number of other ways you can manage costs:
1. Try and keep the existing bathroom layout
Or limit the distance you move fittings so your fitter doesn’t have to spend lots of time fitting new pipework and electrics.
2. Consider vinyl flooring instead of tiles
Particularly sheet vinyl as opposed to vinyl planks or tiles as it’s quicker to lay. It’s not all nasty sparkly sticky looking plastic these days either, there are some great wood or stone effects, and it’s hard wearing, anti-slip, hygienic, anti-allergenic, easy to clean and quiet underfoot. Check out the Tarkett Homestyle range, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
3. Limit tiling to where you need it or use waterproof wall panels
Was there a law passed in the 80’s that decreed that all bathrooms must be tiled floor to ceiling in pastel marble effect tiles with an ornate border tile, or is it just all the ones I’m now updating? If you want to save money just tile in the shower, and round the bath and sink. Or use waterproof wall panels like these brick effect sheets by MultiPanel which are just over £80 for a 2.4m x 1.2m sheet.
4. Keep your central ceiling light
If your bathroom is a few years old there’s a good chance it’s just got a flush or semi-flush light in the centre of the room, and maybe a light over your sink. Now when I’ve got more to spend I usually recommend ceiling spots, lighting over the sink and in some cases other feature lighting maybe in the shower, or around the bath, all on different circuits so they can be used separately. But if you’re on a tight budget just upgrade the ceiling light to something with multiple LED bulb’s so it’s bright enough and save the cost of additional fittings and your fitters time.
5. Shop around for bathroom fittings
Many suppliers offer bathroom packs which are cheaper than buying individual items, or packs of matching bath and sink taps. Or look on eBay as you can often find second hand fittings that are in perfectly good condition, or lovely vintage items that people don’t care for anymore. I’ve even sold my customers old bathroom fittings to other customers. One mans trash is another mans treasure and all that.
So I have done all of the above for my customer and we’ve agreed on a plan that comes in under £4k for a bathroom thats approx. 3m by 4m, needs plastering and will include a bath and walk in shower. Challenge accepted – challenge met. Work hopefully starts in October so watch this space for what I can confidently predict will be some spectacularly good before and afters.
Oh and back to that game of musical chairs, for the record, I did win.
If you’re a regular reader of my blog (thank you lovely people) you’ll know I do a lot of work with Cockermouth Kitchen Company (aka CKC) and have designed their new showroom which is due to open in September *jigs about excitedly*. Getting the layout right was probably the biggest challenge. The main showroom is a massive 175 square metres but we needed to accommodate kitchens, customer service desks, displays for door samples, worktops, taps, handles and brochures, oh and some space for actually walking around….We also needed to use some of the space for the back office which will straddle the main showroom and the rear showroom – another whopping 100 square metres currently earmarked for bathroom and bedroom displays. It doesn’t look much from the street but it’s like the Tardis inside and I’m about to turn it into a retail space to rival IKEA.
Spatial planning is so important in retail as you’re never short of product to display and suppliers are vying to get their goods on show, but the space needs to flow and feel bright, clear and uninterrupted. After much hair pulling (and not just mine) I got there and the new showroom will have 11 complete kitchens, 2 customer service desks and plenty of room for samples.
Next major headache challenge was designing the kitchen displays. Now I could have filled it with the top sellers but then it would basically be a white and grey showroom, not exactly gonna to draw the crowds in… But if you go the other way, i.e. multi-coloured mayhem, customers won’t trust you to deliver their dream kitchen. So there has to be balance. Give the displays in the window a little WOW to get them to look up from their smartphones and into the window, then once you’ve lured them inside show them something they’ll like but tempt them with a few other ideas. And it’s all about the complete picture. I go in some showrooms and their kitchens are so badly dressed its criminal. You know what I’m talking about, no lights or tiles, just the obligatory bottle of olive oil next to the hob, a jar of dried pasta and a set of cheap tea, coffee and sugar canisters. Inspiring? No.
This is the image that made me buy my own kitchen from CKC. It’s from the 1909 range that they offer and I just thought, if they can deliver this then I’m in.
Of course my own kitchen looks very little like this as I then got my interior design head on and started racking up a huge bill incorporating features I’ve always wanted. Click the pic to read more on this.
The average kitchen costs £15k so its a big investment, and why most peoples kitchens are at least 10 years old. But the great thing about kitchens is that you can design a very simple kitchen that won’t date, and then style it with tiles, lighting, seating or accessories that are more easily changed when the time comes for a new look. Coming up with all that for the 11 new kitchens was a lot of fun.
“So what’s it all going to look like” I hear you shout (in my dreams..) All in good time my friends, all in good time. But here’s a sneak preview of some of the things you can expect to see on opening day.
So that’s enough teasers for now. It’s been a fabulous project. I’ve wanted to kill a few people along the way for omitting to tell me I can’t have certain items when I’ve designed the whole bloody kitchen round said items (you know who you are….). And not having the same floor space as IKEA I couldn’t have everything I wanted. And I keep seeing new things I want which is very frustrating. I saw this idea the other day, a splashblack and breakfast bar made from a quartz that has translucent patches that allow the light from LED’s behind and below to filter through. Bloody genius. *scowls furiously for not being clever enough to have thought of this, and no room in the showroom for it now*
So the countdown to opening day has started. Keep checking back for updates.
The life of an interior designer is sometimes a little schizophrenic. Right now I’m flitting between period elegance, simple scandinavian, cool contemporary and boutique chic. Different customers, (or that would be one crazy looking house), different styles and different briefs. But the common denominator is the simple mirror. It doesn’t matter what your style or budget I’m always going to throw in a mirror or two. And I’m not just talking about the obvious places, i.e. over the fireplace or above the bathroom sink. I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to decorating with mirrors. I’ve also got a list of places where you should not hang a mirror. Interested?
Decorating with mirrors
Art is very personal and it might take years to find something you like enough to hang on your walls that you can afford. It might sound dramatic but you may never find anything you like. Retailers like Next know that, which is why they produce shelf loads of bland canvases in the same colours as that seasons soft furnishings to save you even looking for artwork. But instead of settling for a bland canvas or a stock poster from IKEA why not hang a mirror.
If you can’t find or afford a huge feature mirror like this gorgeous sunburst one then use a set. This lovely set of three is £159 from Furniture in Fashion but you don’t need to spend a fortune. You can pick up great mirrors in places like Argos or Wilko for under £20. Like cushions, they don’t need to be the same size or style, just stick with the same colour palette and hang them in rows or clusters.
Or create a feature using frameless mirror tiles. Homebase and IKEA sell packs of 30cm square mirror tiles for under a tenner. If you do have a few quid more to spend Notonthehighstreet.com have packs of 20cm hexagonal tiles for (gulp) £185.00. Very on trend tho.
I like to mix mirrors in with pictures (and sometime other random oddities) to expand and add more interest to the arrangement.
And if you can’t find any pictures or family photos you like but still want a gallery wall then just use mirrors.
This is also a great way of breaking up a wall if you want to paint it a really bold colour but don’t have the balls are worried it might be too much.
Mirrors are obviously great for bouncing light around a room but if you hang them facing a window or side on they will also reflect the view. So it doesn’t matter if you were last to the dining table or you have to sit with your back to the window to watch the telly you can still see the view.
Mirrors either side of the bed increase the glam factor of even the most glamorous bed, and will reflect the light from your bedside lights – double whammy.
And just when you thought they’d done enough, mirrors can also create the illusion of space, elongating a room or adding height.
God I love this room….the reflection of that pitched roof creates amazing symmetry and you get twice as much chandelier.
So where should you not put mirrors?
On the back of the bathroom door if your toilet faces the door. Enough said.
On your wardrobe doors if you’ll be able to see your reflection when you open your eyes in the morning.
Above the bath, unless its high enough that you can only see your head and shoulders.
Facing the shower, again unless its at head height. Never have a long mirror facing the shower. I bet not even Heidi Klum wants to see herself showering.
Above the bed. It’s not the 70’s and you’re not a porn star.
So the answer is basically anywhere you might catch your reflection when you’re naked and/or not looking your best. Mirrors should be used to decorate and illuminate not kill our self esteem.
That’s quite a title isn’t it? But a grand bathroom like the one I’m about to show you deserves a grand title, and oh lordy what a transformation. Shall we jump right in with a few fabulous before pics?
The homeowner has a lovely Victorian townhouse and wanted a mixture of new and traditional in the new bathroom. I actually quite liked the existing sink and toilet and the taps, and they wouldn’t have been out of place in a new bathroom with some traditional features but the homeowner was adamant, she wanted a completely new bathroom, and who am I to argue…. (Cue rubbing of hands with glee at prospect of picking new stuff…)
I love a monochrome bathroom but they can look a little stark, and as I’d just turned the homeowner on to the idea of colour after painting her bedroom pink (see the pink bedroom project) I needed to inject a little colour into the bathroom. I plumped for bottle green after spotting some green glass bottles in a local homeware shop, which got me thinking about peacock feathers, and before you could say wowzers I had a plan with wow factor.
The focal point in the new bathroom is without a shadow of a doubt the free standing double ended slipper bath. Now if you’re going to have a fabulous bath like this one it needs to stand out. When I told the homeowner I wanted to panel half the wall behind and paint it all black she was a little shocked but thankfully decided to trust me. So what do you think – was I right?
The panelling is from an eBay seller who can make whatever style or size you want. It’s made of water resistant MDF so fine for a bathroom and only cost £110 including delivery.
The bath was a real bargain too, only £400 from Bathandshower.com. Look how glam it looks lit from below. Just the right amount of light for those late night bathroom visits, or more importantly soaking in the bath with a glass of wine….We used outdoor deck lights so it wouldn’t matter if water sloshed over the edge of the bath. The guys at my local electrical wholesalers told me I could submerge them or stand on them and they’d still work. If you’re wondering what the lights are above the bath its just the reflection from a row of glass tealight holders sitting on a shelf I got the fitter to fit on top of the panelling. You gotta have candlelight when you take a bath.
Those fabulous Victorian style floor tiles were also a bargain at around £20 a square metre. They’re called Harrow Grafito and I bought them from Roccia (formerly Tile Mart) in Preston. If you’re up that way its worth popping into their enormous showroom for a nosy. (If you see Ben say hi from me).
I decided early on in the process, before I’d even picked a colour scheme, that this bathroom was going to have an antique marble topped washstand. A modern vanity unit just wasn’t going to cut it. And I found a beauty in one of my regular haunts, Old Mill Antiques in Manchester.
I intentionally picked an oval sink and mirror to match the shape of the bath and the sink looks beautiful sat on top of that grey marble. The cut glass accessories are also a great fit. They’re from Homesense (aka land of amazing finds). Oh and see that black leather cube bottom left? It’s an ottoman doubling as a laundry bin, or somewhere to sit your book when you’re climbing into the bath. Assuming of course you have time to read in the bath….It does three jobs and was only £10 (from Dunelm) – now that’s what I call a bargain.
If I could only give you one bathroom tip (which would make for a very short blog), it would be to always install the biggest shower you can and get your fitter to build a false wall so that you can have alcoves for shampoo bottles. I hate cramped shower cubicles, and I want to cry when I see those horrible metal baskets stuck to the walls, or worse still shampoo bottles sitting in the shower tray…..
The homeowner was worried the shower enclosure was going to be too big but again she trusted me and was glad she did. I have to give the fitter Ben Butler credit for the light in the alcove as it was his idea – nice touch eh?
I also wanted to mention the paintwork as I guess it’s not every day you see black woodwork. But it’s a great way to frame light coloured walls. I love the black door. The wall colour is called Sleeping Inn by Valspar which is white with a touch of grey. The black paint colour is Downing Street by Valspar, very topical at the moment…..
As Charles Eames said, “The details are not the details. They make the design”. Which is why I hunted for the right toilet roll holder until I found this one on eBay. It might seem trivial to some but like the washstand a modern one would have looked out of place.
I bought both the vintage frameless mirrors on eBay for a total of £60. It amazes me that these mirrors can be picked up so cheaply as I think they’re beautiful. The peacock artwork is also from an eBay seller. I bought 4 for £22.50 and framed them in black frames from Wilko.
I always like to add personal touches to my designs that the customer will appreciate. In this case it’s these lights I made using battery operated fairly lights from IKEA and cut glass decanters from a charity shop. The homeowner loved them.
So what do you think of my Boutique-Victorian mashup, is this a bathroom with wow factor?