Archive for the ‘interior design’ Category

Buying a conservatory: 5 important issues to consider

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

'Buying a conservatory: 5 important issues to consider' blog post banner

Sun lounge

There’s nothing more infuriating than trying to keep up with the Joneses. You’ve converted your attic into an office, transformed your basement into a man cave and knocked down your double garage for reasons you can’t remember.

Then your smug neighbour waves at you from his new conservatory – he has a glass of wine in hand and a satisfied smile on his face – as you stand in your garden green-eyed and conservatory-less. Damn those Joneses!

Unlike man caves and offices that have long been abandoned, and financial ramifications written off, conservatories are actually extremely useful additions to the home.

But, before you rush out to the nearest conservatory superstore (that’s not really a thing) to wave your credit card at a hapless assistant, there are a few important things you must first consider.

gable front conservatory

Planning permission

According to the government, conservatories fall under the same planning regulations as any extension or addition to a house. This means that, provided certain limits and conditions are met, it won’t require an application for planning permission. To ensure you meet these conditions, though, you should familiarise yourself with the government’s handy Planning Portal guide.

Victorian style conservatory

Check with the neighbours

While it’s not essential you check with your neighbours before pressing ahead, it will do a lot for relations if you keep them in the loop regarding potential building work. It’s also a good time to make them green with envy as you unveil your plans for an all singing, all dancing conservatory that’ll make their own seem like a shoddily erected tent in comparison!

bespoke conservatory

Choose your style

It won’t surprise you to learn that conservatories come in all shapes and sizes. Older properties can opt for a Victorian or Edwardian style, while modern homes can take advantage of more contemporary, bespoke designs. Whatever you plump for, it’s important to make sure it fits with the existing look and feel of your home, lest it sticks out like a very expensive sore thumb.

bespoke Lorimer conservatory

Energy efficiency

We’re all conscious of how much energy we’re using these days. When it comes to buying and installing your conservatory then, this focus shouldn’t waver. As such, it’s important to make sure your new space will be properly insulated and the glass used on all levels has a low U-Value (the lower the better for energy efficiency).

conservatory from the garden


Where you position your conservatory will depend on a few factors. For most, options are limited to the back of the property. If this faces east, you’ll benefit from the early morning sun, with the heat warming your conservatory for the rest of the day. If it faces north, it can be extremely chilly during the winter, while a south facing space means it can be unbearably hot during the summer months.

By Paul Watson

2014 Bathroom Design Trends

Sunday, April 20th, 2014

'2014 Bathroom Design' blog post banner

white bathroom with Mira shower and Mediterranean blue feature wall

Is 2014 the year you’ll finally chip off those flower petal tiles, rip up the maroon carpet and tear out that hideous avocado suite? OK, so maybe your bathroom isn’t that bad, but if it’s time for an up-to-the-minute style revamp, then read on. With a strong focus on natural materials, soft and fluid edges and a touch of drama and the unpredictable, now’s the time to transform your bathroom into a strikingly beautiful and practical space.

living wall in a bathroom

image credit: Siol Studios

As Nature Intended

The interior design world is moving steadily towards the creation of greener, more eco indoor environments and bathrooms are no different. Exposed wood, slate and marble all feature heavily, with some designers going as far as dividing spaces with breath-taking living walls. Dark wood flooring or beams will bring rustic warmth that will stand the test of time.

Mira Coda Pro Diverter shower

Causing a Scene

Injecting a sense of drama can help liven up any wc. In 2014, we’ll see many spectacular shower experiences created with the growing use of gravity-defying floating vanities and dramatic lighting, as well as the increasing use of mixer showers. Theatrical and stunning fixtures such as those featured on some of the best mixer showers from Mira will give your bathroom an appeal usually only associated with garden fountains and waterfalls.

Mira shower room with blue feature wall

Keeping it Smooth

Moving away from harsh angular edges in favour of soft arcs and fluid shapes is set to make a noticeable appearance in 2014. Think curved and roll-top baths sitting on seamless flooring accompanied by frameless showers and walk-in wet rooms. This sense of softness will be compounded by the increasing use of pastels, pale blues and pinks, which bring an uplifting spirit without the use of bold, sharp colours.

Mira Agile Adept wet room

Every day is Spa Day

2014 will see normal bathrooms become luxury retreats from the rest of the house and the stresses of everyday life. Subtle touches like comfortable seating to dry yourself on and beautifully designed spaces with ultra high tech shower and bath technology will create a sense of relaxation that encourages the individual to take all the time in the world.

black & white monochrome bathroom

image credit: Aspirational Interiors

Monochrome not Monotonous

Introduced by fashion houses in 2012, monochrome is fast becoming a mainstream interior look. Simple variations of the same colour throughout a bathroom create a clinical and timeless look, and one that will also suit all budgets and can be adapted to a variety of tastes. Creative storage and the clever use of ledges will eliminate clutter, while natural wood can be introduced to add warmth to the sometimes cold feeling theme. Monochrome can also lend itself to infusions of colour with yellow and mustard, which are very in vogue this year.

With a range of inspiring trends, 2014 is the year to get your bathroom revamp up and running. No longer will you point disconcertedly up the stairs when visitor asks to use the facilities. On the contrary, guests will be shepherded directly from the doorstep for a tour of the most chic, striking and elegant room in your home – the bathroom!


Porcelain or Ceramic Tile?

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

'Porcelain or Ceramic Tile?' blog post banner

Floorcraft Catlin porcelain floor tiles in a bathroom

Tile is a popular, practical and elegant flooring choice that looks great in virtually any home. Because of its durability, it’s excellent for any room – perfect for busy families and areas of heavy foot traffic. Tile flooring is low maintenance, easy to clean, moisture resistant and flexible. There is also a wide range of beautiful glazes & finishes. Ceramic and porcelain are two of the most popular and common types of tile flooring. But what’s the difference between them?

dark Design Distinctions Pearson Mosaic tiled bathroom

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile is formed from red or white clay covered in a protective glaze and fired in a kiln. It’s available in a wide array of earthy tones, vibrant hues and distinctive patterns. It offers lots of creative options for traditional or contemporary interiors in areas where there is light to moderate footfall.

Design Distinctions copper ceramic tile flooring

Porcelain Tile

Porcelain is known for its beauty and incredible lustre. It is created under extreme temperature & pressure conditions which enhances the tiles durability. This manufacturing process means it’s denser, smoother and more impervious to moisture than ceramic, making it perfect for either indoor or outdoor settings. Carrying flooring through from interior to exterior – out to a patio, for instance, can be very effective visually – enhancing the sense of space & drawing the outdoors in. With a wide range of colours, textures and patterns, porcelain can add beauty & character to any room. Depending on your preference, porcelain is available in both a gloss and matte finish.

Dark American Olean Siena Springs porcelain floor tiles in a bathroom overlooking a lake & mountains

Perhaps one of the best things about tile flooring is the ability to lay it in a variety of distinctive patterns that immediately transforms a space. Eye-catching designs such as a classic black & white chequerboard effect or installing it on the diagonal are good examples. If you’re looking to add a touch of unique beauty to your home, consider tile flooring.


Upstairs Downstairs

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

'Upstairs Downstairs' blog post banner

white metal spiral staircase

Justin used to have the most gorgeous original Victorian cast iron spiral staircase that he often reminisces about. It was reclaimed from an old workshop and ran through all three floors of his little Brighton house.

stainless steel spiral staircase

There’s something quite magical about them – organic, sculptural & full of movement… and very tempting to climb.

white metal spiral staircase

Obviously, reclaimed antique staircases can be hard to come by & expensive too. Not to mention, you require a bit of luck when it comes to finding one that’s the correct size and of course the knowledge & skills to restore and fit them properly.

white metal and stainless steel spiral staircase

Going with a brand new staircase is often the most practical or only option available.

modern staircase with beech treads

You might not have ever considered shopping around for a staircase online – but Fontanot is well worth checking out.

modern glass staircase

They’re an Italian, family-run company, going since the 1940s,  with a UK-based branch in Rotherham – located just the other side of the M1 from Sheffield’s Meadowhall.

red, white and green metal spiral staircases

They have a huge selection of modern staircases in a wide range of materials – round or square spirals, space savers, modular systems & made-to-measure options.

wooden spiral staircase

They’re robustly constructed from materials such as stainless steel, aluminium, zinc and toughened glass with solid, FSC-certified wood including beech and ash for the treads.

beech and stainless steel spiral staircase

There are a few brightly coloured options too.

red spiral staircase treads

And choices for treads, spindles & handrails.

modern glass stairway

They provide the perfect solution to tricky spaces – and lend themselves well to accommodating a small office, library or reading space in the stair well at the bottom.

under stairs lidded storage box

Fontanot sells a range of shelves & storage systems to make use of this often overlooked space.

under stairs lidded storage box

under stairs coat hooks under stair coat hooks

As well as interior staircases, there’s a selection of attractive, industrial outdoor versions available too.

outdoor industrial metal spiral staircase

We’ve considered an outdoor spiral staircase ourselves. Our home backs on to the canal and we really like the idea of French windows in our bedroom opening out onto a balcony where we can look out on the birds & barges on the water – with a metal spiral leading down from the balcony to the garden below.

modern spiral staircase with beech treads

They look great for starters – and then the thought of breakfast on the balcony, followed by winding down the spiral to have a little potter around the garden is very appealing indeed!


Keep your kitchen stylish yet functional

Monday, January 14th, 2013

modern kitchen with small, square butcher's trolley

Whether you’re building a new kitchen or looking to update and old one, settling on a design can be a challenge for many homeowners. As a potential space for entertaining, you want your kitchen to be stylish and comfortable, but you also want it to be functional when creating meals for your family. Don’t sacrifice style for functionality or vice versa. Create your dream kitchen by following these insider tips:

1) Cover your walls in cabinets

retro kitchen storage designed by Wayne Hemingway and available at John Lewis

Your kitchen’s number one most important feature is its cabinets – no appliance or piece of kitchen equipment can compete with them. That’s because in order to keep your kitchen looking organised and stylish, you need a place to store all of the pots, pans, utensils, gadgets and dry goods you’ve accumulated to keep your kitchen running smoothly and your family fed. As well as being practical, cabinets are a good way to hide your refrigerator, freezer, tumbler dryer, and other appliances so that they blend more seamlessly with your kitchen’s overall design. What’s trending in 2013 is to mix cabinet colours – a cream or grey shade for the upper cabinetry and darker woods for the lower cabinetry.

2) Add an island

modern kitchen with large, oval kitchen island

A kitchen island provides you with two very important features: more counter-top and cabinet space. Unlike other counter-top areas, an island provides you with uninterrupted space where you can do your mixing, chopping, beating, grating, etc. when preparing a meal. You can design the cabinetry portion of the island to suit your individual needs, adding a sink, overhead lighting or trash compost if it will be your main prep area, or bar stools and chairs if the island will function more as a table and informal space for socialising. Keep in mind that turned legs can give your island the look of furniture, and a bold colour choice can help punch up the kitchen’s overall design. If you’re short on funds or space, a wheel-based butcher’s trolley provides a similar function to an island for a lot less money, and can give your kitchen a nice contemporary feel.

3) Get creative with the storage

butcher's trolley on castors with wicker basket storage, drawers, under shelf and horizontal metal bar for hanging utensils or tea towel

Not everything needs to be hidden away in cupboards and drawers in order for your kitchen to look stylish and uncluttered. If you’ve got an exposed wall above your stove or sink, consider adding some hung storage to give your kitchen a more homey and inviting ambience. Instead of buying a pot to store your kitchen utensils, add a rack above your stove where you can hang your spoons, mixers, and spatulas upside down to free up some counter space and provide you with easy access to them while you cook. Likewise, pots and pans can be hung above your kitchen island to help save space, and the family wine rack can be incorporated right into the design of your new kitchen island. Rather than keeping your kitchen items shut behind dark panels, you may choose instead to add a glass window to some of your cabinetry to give your kitchen a more open feel. These creative storage ideas look especially great on a contemporary or country kitchen.

[guest post]