Archives for category: Lighting

It’s always exciting to see a design come to life. A few weeks ago I popped round to Holly’s kitchen to see how she was getting on now everything has been built and installed. You might remember our neat little pairing of Bodbyn grey and Brokhult wood-effect which I told you about in pick and mix — now they’re nestled together and established, and it’s time to show you the results.

As you might remember, we chose grey for the doors and drawer-fronts, and end-panel pieces in faux wood. The wood brings a warmth to the mix, and stops the grey from feeling too stark.

Standing sentry

Standing sentry

A tall cabinet is a great home for those extra items you don’t always allow space for: broom, mop, even the hoover. This one fits snug between a wall buttress and a door. Cheaper than getting a carpenter to build the cupboard from scratch, and with all the useful internal fittings that come with Ikea kitchen units.

The contrast of materials is best displayed in the wall of storage we created to surround the fridge. In expensive high-end (modern rather than traditional) kitchens you often get a block of cabinets encased in a framework of eye-catching wood.

Fridge cosy

Fridge cosy

You can recreate this effect with Ikea units by using either side panels and a top cornice, or for a more chunky wraparound, re-purpose a ready-made wooden worktop. Here in Holly’s kitchen there was a limited amount of space between the doorway and the window wall, so we chose to maximise the storage options and go for the slimmer panels.

The neutral shades of the cabinetry meant that we weren’t trapped with one colour scheme for the room. Holly opted for a slate-effect worktop, black cooker hood and a gleaming black splashback.

Bold in black

Bold in black: extractor fan from Ikea, now discontinued (but black hoods in other designs are still in stock); black glass splashback from Cheadle Glass; Duropal Welsh Slate worktop from Plasman

In contrast, the blinds are a perky deckchair stripe in mustards, greys and whites.

Shades of colour

Shades of colour: Ashanti Antique roller blind from 247 Blinds

The windowsill above the sink lends a cheerful aspect onto the garden — plants thrive on both sides of the glass.

Shades of colour

Showcase your shrubs – what kitchen windowsills are there for. Tap is called ‘Palazzo’ from Mayfair.

Most of the walls are painted white, but this feature wall in a bright teal brings a colourful jauntiness to the room.

Teal wall

Teal: on the warm and cheerful end of the blues spectrum

Of all the features in this room, perhaps my favourites are these marbled lights floating above the table:

Cool grey veins

Cool grey veins: BHS Nala pendant lights, heartbreakingly no longer available in store (but you might find them on eBay if you’re lucky)

A translucent and delicate pair when turned off, and warmly glowing when on:

Illumination transformation

Illumination transformation

Light up your life

Light up your life

This kitchen has come together in a vibrant way, full of personality and warmth. I love the way the cabinet pairing works — and that Holly didn’t need to spend a fortune to do it. It’s made me wonder what other excellent combinations you could create if you think just a little outside the box. It’s certainly worth exploring beyond the suggestions presented on the pages of a catalogue or in basic showroom designs in store, and see where these ideas take you. Who knows what bespoke discoveries you might dream up!

Advertisements

Would you like to see some of the sights from the Ideal Home Show Manchester? We went last month: all sorts of exhibitors congregate there, from one-product entrepreneurs with innovative new gadgets, to established retailers with glamorous room displays.

Going to design shows is great fun (not least for the generous freebies to be snaffled at the food stalls). I don’t think events like this exactly set interiors trends — furniture, colours, decor. To identify burgeoning creative ideas you really need to keep an eye online and all around you: Pinterest, Instagram and magazines; quirky blog pages and house tours. But exhibitions can show you what has passed the consumer test — a place to check out which products and designs are proven or emerging commercial successes in the interiors market.

So here are just a few of my favourite discoveries:

Lighting was still big, glitzy and sparkling.

Lighting was glitzy and sparkling. The statement pendant is certainly not going anywhere for a while.

The statement pendant is certainly not going anywhere for a while

Populate your sofa. The tidy way.

Don't have time for a pet? Got allergies? Now you can live the sofa dream with these endearing cushions. (They don't bring in unidentified small mammal body parts to your house, either).

Don’t have time for a pet? Got allergies? Now you too can live the cat lady dream with these endearing cushions. (They don’t bring in unidentified small mammal body parts to your house, either)

We loved the nautical rope lamp from Arrighi Bianchi.

Aye-aye cap'n. We loved the nautical rope lamp from Arrighi Bianchi

Aye-aye cap’n

On which note…

I love Macclesfield furniture store Arrighi Bianchi's picture. Like a dolls' house, only real

I love Macclesfield furniture store Arrighi Bianchi’s picture. Like a dolls’ house, only real

When your furniture is multi-purpose and cute.

On the lookout for flexible extra seating/tables? Goat Hide Stool from Rockett St George would fast become one of the family

On the lookout for flexible extra seating/tables? Goat Hide Stool from Rockett St George would fast become one of the family

We just can’t stay away from wallpaper.

We just can't stay away from wallpaper. This clever stuff from 1wall.com can be applied in A4-sized sheets in whichever layout you choose. Clever

The Creative Collage range from 1wall.com comes in A4-sized sheets to be applied in whichever layout you choose. Clever

Another 1wall.com Creative Collage design: empty frames. Would you keep them empty? Pin postcards inside them? Let your kids go wild with crayons?

Another 1wall.com Creative Collage design: empty frames. Would you keep them empty? Pin postcards inside them? Let your kids go wild with crayons?

Taking the safer path to relaxation.

There's something a little endearing about these flickery fake candles. Surely a breakthrough design for so many health and safety nightmares

There’s something a little endearing about these flickery fake candles. Surely a breakthrough design for so many public event health and safety liability reports

What do you think of my little list? Anything here you’d go for?

Our music room, as you may remember, was almost completely finished last year: the shelving went up, the rug went down, the boxes of CDs and books were emptied and rehoused.

Everything in its place

Everything in its place

Dark woods make it cosy

Dark woods make it cosy

There were however a couple of things which we put on hold until we could amass further inspiration/finance. One was wallpaper for the chimney breast wall, and the other was a statement pendant light.

Because Tim likes large drum-style shades, I bought him this lovely shade from Ikea:

Ikea's NYMÖ shade in wine red and copper

Ikea’s NYMÖ shade in wine red and copper

It’s large (59cm diameter) and a warming pinkish red which incidentally fits perfectly with our Kattrup rug:

Kattrup warms the boards

Kattrup warms the boards

We also invested in a longer cord to bring the pendant down a little. Lowering your lighting works really well in rooms where you would like to create a gentle atmosphere with light pools rather than a bright flood — which is, granted, functional but can be rather stark. The cord set from Ikea, Sekond, was only £4, and runs to 180cm if you need it. We set the base of our shade just a little higher than the tallest person we know, and despite our high ceilings the room feels instantly cosier when the light is on.

But perhaps the most exciting thing about this new light is this:

Pattern springs forth

Pattern springs forth

The perforated shade creates a fabulous retro pattern on all the walls — who needs wallpaper now?!

Magic lantern

Magic lantern

We have a warm glow from the central light — reflecting brightly against the copper inside — and the walls are also lit up with images.

Playing with shadows

Playing with shadows

With our shelving lighting aglow, the contrasts of light and dark are heightened.

Now our lighting is getting really interesting

Now our lighting is getting really interesting

As statement lighting goes, this really does fit the bill. We have created a touch of coppery glamour, some magic lantern inspiration, and instant cosiness at the cost of £35 for a shade.

So, are we done here? Well I still think that this room can take a standard lamp in the corner near the armchair, and possibly a simple desk lamp for focussed work. But we may park the wallpaper plans for a while.

Caspar is sad. He’s normally really happy all the time, and can find a cheerful positive slant on nearly any misfortune or drudgery. So it’s a bit of a shock when he gets sad, and also very hard to predict.

The last time he got sad (apart from when Manchester United lose against anyone) was when we had to do the inter-seasonal clothes transfer, and handed down his old winter coat to Malachy. I had pre-empted the potential emotional descent by buying Caspar a really nice, new, RED coat (team colours) which was extremely cosy.

But it wasn’t the Old Coat and Malachy was very victorious in his inheritance.

It took a lot of time and diplomacy to make it ok.

Then, the little glass bedside light in Caspar’s room got smashed. No-one quite knows how, but it left a nasty shard-like edge on display, which was just too tempting to fiddle with, and so I went on a search for a replacement — little knowing the distress that awaited.

Here is the lovely light which I got.

Lekaryd LED light in red. Part bedside light, part gaming icon

Lekaryd LED light in red. Part bedside light, part gaming icon, part small item storage

I had browsed the Ikea website with Caspar a few days before and we liked the look of this because it looks a bit like Pacman — you can open and shut its mouth by sliding the top up and down. In addition, the lower section has a little hollow which is perfect for keeping teeth in for the tooth fairy (and also toenails for the toenail fairy but that’s another story). Also, as you can see, it is RED. What’s not to like?

Well, apparently, a lot.

I had not learnt my lesson from New Coat-gate and blithely introduced New Lamp with a big ceremonial plug-in at bedtime. Caspar’s face was stony and glum. I pointed out the little tooth/toenail hollow. He turned his head away and stared soulfully at the remains of Old Lamp.

“What are you going to do with my old light, Mum?” he asked quietly.

“Oh, well, I suppose I could put the glass in the recycling if I’m careful, and the rest of it will just go in the bin.” My voice had taken on a brittle, sensible tone.

But Caspar didn’t want to say a proper “goodbye” to Old Lamp. He wanted it to rest in the cellar with all the less-loved toys and the cardboard boxes and the camping equipment. He felt that would be less final. I was concerned about that jagged edge lurking in the cellar for an unsuspecting child to discover.

So we compromised. We decided that the heart of a lamp is its bulb.

Now you can see the read me...

Now you can see the real me…

That the outer shell is simply armour, clothing which you can replace or discard.

Don't judge a lamp by its shade. Even if the shade is not fit for purpose and frankly dangerous

Don’t judge a lamp by its shade. Especially if the shade is not fit for purpose and frankly dangerous

The lamp still remains a lamp if you have the light bulb and socket.

I'm still a lamp

I’m still a lamp

And so it does remain, nestled safely in the lightbulb box down in the cellar, enjoying its retirement in peaceful darkness.

A tooth came out the other day. We celebrated by hiding it in the tooth/toenail section of the lamp, and the tooth fairy was remarkably (uncharacteristically) prompt with her visitation. Maybe a New Lamp isn’t all bad.

*With thanks to @MYSADCAT for the inspiration

A few years ago we moved to sunny Manchester from London. The complex factors involved meant that for a few (long) weeks we didn’t have a school place for Jonas, then six years old. So I home-schooled. Actually, I didn’t, because he was convinced that he already knew quite considerably more than me. So I tried schooling by stealth. We visited National Trust properties (history), played scrabble (literacy and maths) (relentlessly), and spent a good few hours in the park every day (outdoor games). The only ‘lesson’ which I was allowed to introduce into our home schedule was… weaving. Apparently, this was amazing fun and I just needed to buy some ribbons. Duly purchased, we set about creating all manner of different patterns threaded through paper. It wasn’t really at all skilful, but what with Manchester’s Cottonopolis heritage, and the stark lack of interest in any other craft activity…

When we do junk modelling, we like to let the materials speak for themselves.

When we do junk modelling, we like to let the materials speak for themselves.

I lost the green lollipop stick legs on the way home, but I think you can see that quite clearly this is meant to be me.

I lost the green lollipop stick legs on the way home, but I think you can see that quite clearly this is meant to be me.

…it meant we were at least ticking a few creative boxes.

Now we are quite considerably further advanced in school careers and all the boys have for some reason done weaving: clearly a basic life-skill — who knew? Generally the in-and-out ribbons slop out of position and buckle at one end, sometimes I just find lonely escapee strands curled on the floor. But every now and then we get an offering which is actually quite attractive. Not ‘maybe-they-have-a-future-in-this’ successful, but quite pretty nevertheless.

And when one arrived home tastefully mounted on some black cardboard, I had an idea. This would look fantastic displayed in a light box. What if I were to somehow able create an illuminated frame? It could hang in a dark area of the kitchen (a place where I wish we’d wired in some wall lighting) and bring some sparkle without us having to undergo expensive and messy wiring work.

Gloomy space

Gloomy space

As you may remember, most of my Pinterest craft moments are classified amongst the ‘fail’ or ‘humour’ categories, so I held off for a long time before deciding to experiment. However, in the end, my curiosity got the better of me, and I went ahead.

So here is how you go about making a light-box frame to preserve and display your child’s genius classroom achievements:

Do your shopping:-

Ikea Ribba picture frame

Ikea Ramsta string lights (battery operated) and appropriate sized batteries

Sheet A3 thick black paper (or whichever colour you prefer for the backing)

Glue gun and sticks (now you own these the Pinterest world is your veritable craft oyster)

Two of those useless novelty erasers you get in party bags or as part of football team membership packs (you need a couple that are the same depth and ideally also rubbish at actually rubbing out)

A very sharp knife (Stanley knife)

Masking tape

Gaffer tape

U-shaped small screws/ thick wire staples

Sturdy string/cord

Get creating:-

Place your Ribba frame carefully glass-side down on a soft firm surface (such as a blanket on a table top) so that it doesn’t scratch. Take it apart by unhooking the little clasps at the back.

What you get when you dissect a Ribba

What you get when you dissect a Ribba

You are going to remove the backing board (the brown one) but leave the (white) cardboard mount in position on the glass. Replace the little clasps again, this time only holding the glass and mount in place.

Pop your batteries into the string lights and check they work. Now take your backing board and at one of the bottom corners trace around the light battery box with a pencil. With a very sharp knife (on a chopping board or other handy surface) cut out this corner so that the battery box (and light switch) will be accessible once you’ve fixed the backing board back into the frame. Set the backing board aside and nestle the battery switch box into the bottom left-hand corner of the frame (so it’s hidden by the mount). Masking tape it into position, and then drape the string of lights loosely but evenly around the mount. When you have the lights equally positioned, masking-tape them into position. They should be hidden by the mount when viewed from the front, but obviously when they’re turned on will glow light onto your piece of genius art.

Back to the backing board: cover it carefully with your chosen backing paper. Neatly fold around the edges and attach at the back using the glue gun. Leave to dry, then turn over and attach the weaving masterpiece in position, again using the glue gun.

Using the sharp knife, cut the annoying novelty eraser into equal-sized blocks about the size of a pea.

The Disney Cars erasers are actually fit for purpose, so I didn't chop these up. Spoiler alert - the reindeer wasn't so lucky.

The Disney Cars erasers are actually fit for purpose, so I didn’t chop these up. Spoiler alert – the reindeer wasn’t so lucky.

These are going to be supports upon which you will be laying the backing board, to keep it level. Arrange them around the mount board — amongst the string lights — at regular intervals, especially in the corners. Now glue them in position.

Get ready with your prepped backing board, pop little dabs of glue onto the top of each eraser stump, and press the backing board section firmly down onto the glue. Because you’ve now wrapped it, the backing board should be fairly securely wedged into the frame, as well as being attached to the little rubber chunks. Secure it further with gaffer tape, especially at the top and bottom.

It’s highly unlikely that the feeble mounting hooks or wire that come with your Ikea Ribba frame are going to support your now altogether more weighty creation. Instead you can use some u-shaped nails (staples)…

When picture hooks don't work.

When picture hooks don’t work

…and some strong cord or string instead. Tap the staples into the frame and tie the string through and around them with some tight knots. You can then drive the staples even further in to secure it all further.

Now switch it on and see your work of art subtly illuminated! It turns out that mine had some glittery threads running through it and these reflect the lights, making the whole thing even more impressive.

Proud creation.

Proud moment

Making the most of a boring space - weaving illuminated

Making the most of a boring space – weaving illuminated

I have executed a stealth interiors move.

It looks like this:

Well hi. I bet you weren't expecting me.

Well hi. I bet you weren’t expecting me.

This little chap is now resident on the light pull in our downstairs loo. He was given to me by my friend (for some reason they didn’t need it in their house, possibly because her husband is allergic to cats) and I’ve been plotting my move ever since.

This is because, whilst we haven’t talked about it, I am almost 100% sure that cute cat light pulls are not top of Tim’s design plans for our home. Sleek, modern, clean lines — yes. Cat figurines as decor — not so much.

Oh but it’s only a light pull! And in the cloakroom — that tiny room where you have full permission to exercise daring eclecticism. I snipped off the old grubby white cord and plastic cone and quickly binned them.

Rejected

Rejected

There’s no doubt the tatty plastic had to go. It feels cheap and lightweight.

Now there’s some substance at the end of the light pull, and the solid feline holds sway over the room.

The boys like him very much, and even Tim was mutedly positive.

Win win. The cat stays.

Win win. Kitsch cat stays.

So if you’re planning some stealth improvement work of your own, in the words of a certain sportswear brand, just do it. It’s unlikely anyone will have the energy or antipathy to take action against it. You never know, some may even be converted….

I know, it’s been so long since I last mentioned our poor old music room. It has been languishing in dusty chaos like the Dorian Gray of our house renovation. Way before we moved in, the inspired wall shelving (constructed from layered units from Ikea) was assembled and the plantation shutters were installed… and there we stopped. At the end of last year we hauled all the old boxes of CDs and books up from the cellar so that we “wouldn’t forget about them,” and then promptly forgot about them.

You might remember some dalliance with wallpaper which I had before Christmas. In the end (despite how much fun it was to consider all the options) we didn’t go ahead because we hadn’t really got a picture of the rest of the room yet. However somehow, in the meantime, we have, and it is all finally coming together.

A spurt of organisation this weekend has meant that I have built in some natty drawers and doors to the bottom rung of shelves. We were motivated by the news that Ikea had decided to phase out its storage system called Expedit. This cube-inspired shelving icon has had an illustrious life, as likely to be found nestled amongst the reclaimed furniture of hipster apartments and practically attired family homes: lauded for its boxy good looks and functional design. The cubby holes are the exact right shape to file away your old-school vinyl, display flowers, pack full of books or even put a colourful storage box to stow away those less sightly items.

Little boxes: homes for our stuff

Little boxes: homes for our stuff

So we heard this ‘end of line’ news with a small twinge of horror, having covered one entire wall of the music room with Expedit, in the manner of (but much cheaper to execute than) a full sweep of bespoke shelving. Despite the wonderful resource of a whole website of helpful Ikea hacks it took quite an involved session of planning to find the right combination of given units to arrange against our wall. We had meddled around with the 4×4; 5×5; 4×2; 5×1 and 2×2 configurations before plumping for four horizontal 5×1 units stacked two-high, topped with a couple of mammoth 5x5s.

Fitting it in: Expedit layout for our wall

Fitting it in: Expedit layout for our wall

A smattering of LED lighting in odd shelves makes a nice random effect, and a few bulbs point up to the ceiling above the unit, illuminating the plaster mouldings.

Light touches: Dioder LEDs bring splashes of emphasis

Light touches: Dioder LEDs bring splashes of emphasis

For environmental reasons Ikea have decided to introduce a less chunky replacement to Expedit, called Kallax. This will apparently be slimmer around the frame (thereby using less wood) but otherwise sport the same dimensions.

Check out my broad frame

Check out my broad frame

Ikea usher in a new eco-warrior

Ikea usher in a new eco-warrior

The associated boxes, drawers and doors sold in the same range will supposedly be interchangeable with, and still fit, both Expedit and Kallax units. Be that as it may, we didn’t want to get stuck with a wall full of shelving which we couldn’t accessorise, just in case there were slight variations. I sped out to buy up the stock we needed, and came back with boxes, doors and drawers.

Bank of doors and drawers form the lower layer

Bank of doors and drawers form the lower layer

In our house, the past few months have seen a flurry of (frankly previously inconceivable) CDs sales activity, that has resulted in a very reasonable remnant of a collection. In previous properties we have had to consider the vast CD population as part of the overall design: a great swathe of custom shelving and substantial square metre-age in storage taken up with the 80s pop bands, the rave mixes and dance compilations and Best Ofs. I think we now agree that the new streamlined stock is much easier to accommodate, after the cull/massacre/clear-out since Christmas (appropriate noun to be selected depending on your point of view).

The lower echelons

The lower echelons

We were hoping to house the survivors in the drawers, and they do fit, but sadly not so that you can actually read what they are. So they get a reprieve, and their very own line on display.

Eclectic: steamboat to the fore, house music aft

Eclectic: steamboat to the fore, house music aft

Mixed neighbourhood: Delft houses abut a wall of Now albums

Mixed neighbourhood: Delft houses abut a wall of Now albums

We also executed a quality control exercise with the fiction paperbacks, donating those we weren’t too fussed about and creating a happy rainbow of favourite novels with the ones which we kept. Colour grouping is a smart way to arrange books, as long as you are not too fussy about knowing where any one individual volume might be. In this form they seem to provide just as much of a decoration in the room as if we’d gone at it with a paintbrush, only with quite considerably less effort.

Across the spectrum: literature in colour

Across the spectrum: literature in colour

The reference titles are coralled by subject matter on the upper shelves; photo albums occupy the top flight. There is even a two-cubicle section in the gods where the LPs live. The 7″s are still lurking on the floor at the moment, awaiting their fate.

Craig, will you make the final cut?

Craig, will you make the final cut?

Only a few empty spaces remain, and we’re nearly there with the sorting, only a few homeless items still to place, and for the first time in a while we can actually see most of the floor.

A small pile of work still to do

A small pile of work still to do

I have spent the winter months huddled at my computer whilst the files and scrapbooks have slumped in cosy privilege against the radiator. Now we can reach the shutters to let the sunlight in, and the space is starting to feel bright and ordered.

Piano corner: a semblance of order

Piano corner: a semblance of order

Shutters filter in the daylight

Shutters filter in the daylight

Next on the list are lamp shade, rug and that wall covering. I’ll bring you news on that soon, once we’ve fine tuned the shelves….

In the meantime, how do you store your stuff? Do you like acres of display, or do you prefer to shut it all away? In strict order or mix and match?

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the very fun-looking presents the boys have received in recent months was an origami kit, making cute animals out of nothing but small squares of paper (and, it turns out, deep reserves of patience). It sat in our craft pile for a while before Malachy found it one rainy afternoon and wanted to make his paper zoo.

It all seemed so easy.... / Wild and Wonderful Origami

It all seemed so easy…. / Wild and Wonderful Origami

It is possible that well-drilled craft-making children and their Pinterest-successful mothers can tackle these complex challenges with their eyes shut. After all, with paper that small, how hard can it be? Well, I can now tell you that it is in fact pretty hard, and requires a substantial amount of concentration and rule following, neither of which is particularly celebrated in our family, apart from on the football pitch, of course. The boys have all ‘had a go’ and then handed me the rather limp and wrinkly paper to ‘finish off.’ So we do have a slack-limbed sea otter and a wonky snake lurking in the green drawer of the sideboard (where craft goes to retire before being pensioned off, quietly and under cover of darkness, to the recycling bin) and the remaining kit is still full of potential design victories (ever optimistic) for next time there is a rainy afternoon.

No amount of Photoshop can hide the fact that this baby has never achieved the upright pose/Sea Otter: 'Easy'

No amount of Photoshop can hide the fact that this baby has never achieved the upright pose/Sea Otter: ‘Easy’

Which sorry background goes some way to explaining the admiration I have for this new Danish designer, and his amazing creations. Morten Droob has invented an origami lampshade called Dressed Up.

Shades of the dark arts/ Dressed Up origami lampshades from Droobski

Shades of the dark arts/ Dressed Up origami lampshades from Droobski

Folded paper lanterns and shades have long been popular, and at the moment you can see a lot of plain white wire-framed designs in the shops. Ikea alone have five:

Papery orbs from Ikea

Papery orbs and UFOs from Ikea

Additionally, the skirt-inspired shade is starting to make waves in some retail lines:

Neat little A-line from BHS, Ivory Pleated Bow; Lyrik from Ikea has petticoat charm; sweet little Etsy shop gem TutusafaribyApril; grass skirt from lights_linen on eBay

Neat little A-line from BHS, Ivory Pleated Bow; Lyrik from Ikea has petticoat charm; sweet little Etsy shop gem TutusafaribyApril; grass skirt from lights_linen on eBay

I love that Droobski manages to merge the two in this clever feat of paper engineering – there are no wire frames, simply origami wizardry. With their fulsome flamenco skirts and crisp pleats, Dressed Up shades come in a rainbow of colour options, all individually hand-folded at the artist’s work bench.

If you are looking for an inspiring piece of statement design for your room, this is such a perky and unique purchase. Check out the little vimeo clip on the Droobski website, on just how easy it is to attach and pop open your chosen shade.

As for me, I fold. In the manner of a poker game. And leave the proper folding to the experts.

I found one of my favourite tile designs last year while researching for a client’s kitchen splashback. Being something of a simple girl myself, we have a strip of coloured glass between the upper and lower cupboards in our kitchen to protect the walls. It’s supremely easy to keep, and doesn’t have any grout to get mucky, which as you will know from my previous posts is a bit of a bugbear. However…

If you are going to go the tiling route for your kitchen, and feel like a change from the pretty but neutral metro brick, how about this?

Duck egg blue hexagonal tiles, now hard to get hold of but available from Overstock/ Victorian Hex Blue SomerTile

Duck egg blue hexagonal tiles, now hard to get hold of but available from Overstock/ Victorian Hex Blue SomerTile

Hexagonal mosaic tiles bring a quirky slant to a surface, and this delicate blue would be right at home with a grey themed industrial background or in a pretty cottage kitchen.

As luck (if your budget stretches, that is) would have it, Fired Earth‘s ranges of tiles have a few delectable examples in mosaic and larger form.

Geometric: hexagonal tiles create a monochrome arrow across this Fired Earth bathroom

Geometric: hexagonal mosaics create a monochrome arrow across this Fired Earth bathroom

Look at the way they have used a mid-grey grout in this design. It softens the abruptness of the black and defines the borders of the individual tiles.

Marrakech Hexagons from Fired Earth

Marrakech Hexagons from Fired Earth

This range of larger individual tiles has a more muted, natural colour range, and the edges are softer and less sharp.

At the moment the budget range offerings are expanding rapidly — Walls and Floors have some nice white or black mosaics: or chequerboard designs if you prefer.

Walls and Floors white in gloss or matt

Walls and Floors white in gloss or matt

In addition I have just spotted this gorgeous range, inspired by the colours of honey:

hexagon wandf honeycomb avo

Honeycomb by name, shape and colour/ Walls and Floors Aster and Avocado

Honeycomb by name, layout and colour/ Walls and Floors’ Avocado and Aster options

By no means budget, but nevertheless a characterful tile, is Topps Tiles‘ grey hexagonal, Mira.

Topps Mira Grey, nice for a feature, too pricey for a whole wall

Topps Mira Grey, nice for a feature, too pricey for a whole wall

The shift from four sides to more is a tiling theme I am very happy to recommend, but it doesn’t stop at tiles. Once I had developed my shape awareness, I started seeing hexagons in many settings. See the linked hexagon table in the foreground of this Porcelenosa room layout?

Porcelenosa catalogue shot features double-hex table

Porcelenosa catalogue shot features double-hex table

It seems that copper is not immune:

Hexagon beaten champagne bucket vase Eclectic from Tom Dixon

Hexagon beaten champagne bucket vase Eclectic from Tom Dixon

Or if we take a journey back into the world of wallpaper, how about this fabulous geometric design from Cole and Son:

Upcycle your wardrobe with Cole and Son's Geometric wallpaper

Upcycle your wardrobe with Cole and Son’s Geometric wallpaper

Many a pouf comes in a hexagonal shape, and fitted with a geometric fabric, we can fulfil this trend on two dimensions – or see this amazing heptagonal Missoni design take it just one side further:

Count them: seven sided footstool from Missoni

Count them: seven sided footstool from Missoni

There are lights – possibly my favourite being this simple wall lamp from Kundalini (based in Italy, but plenty of websites stock their products):

Kundalini's Hexagon wall light: try Interni.co.uk for UK purchases

Kundalini’s Hexagon wall light: try Interni.co.uk for UK purchases

Oh I really could go on and on! But I will leave you with this lovely piece by Jonathan Adler, US designer with an eye for distinctive colour and form:

Hexagon lacquered tray from Jonathan Adler

Hexagon lacquered tray from Jonathan Adler

Because a little bit of orange does make me smile.

How about you? Have you set aside the regular square for a more shapely option? I’ll keep you posted on multi-sided inspirations — let me know any which catch your eye.

It’s 8.45 on a school day morning. I turn the corner out of the kitchen wielding lunch boxes, clump up the three stairs into the hallway and holler the “Shoes ohnnnnnnn!!!” command up the stairs.

Nothing.

Three more steps up the main staircase (the smart orange line one). “SHOES TIME! It’s time to put on your shoes!” The cat rounds the corner from the kitchen and meows helpfully in response. She reaches the front door and starts sharpening her claws on the mat. There is no other sound.

I sprint up the first flight of stairs. Silence. Up another. Jonas’s room: empty. If I listen very hard I can just hear discussions, but muffled. More flights of stairs, check an empty Malachy’s room, and I am finally at the top. It is most definitely time to get shoes on by now. But no-one is in Caspar’s room, and the voices are still muted. This is when I open the cupboard doors….

Bespoke board games hideaway

Bespoke board games hideaway

Despite the fact that I put an awful lot of thought into Caspar’s cupboard, I had no idea it would prove quite so popular. For this is in fact a small boy equivalent of a clandestine poker den, minus the whisky and high stakes, although come to think of it, Monopoly is normally the game of choice. Like the world at the back of the wardrobe, Caspar’s cupboard takes you out of the general run of things. You can’t hear the “Shoes on!” shout, the lighting is dim, the shelves around you are full of enticing toys and Lego.

Eaves with potential: what I had to work with

Eaves with potential: what I had to work with

As I mentioned last time, I had harboured plans to make use of the eaves spaces for storage in the attic bedroom. I had heard friends tell of amazing designs by loft conversion firms and well-known wardrobe makers. I started by chatting with a carpenter I knew about commissioning something that incorporated all the storage needs for the room into that one area. I listed the elements I wanted in there: drawers or shelves for clothes, hanging space, book shelves, significant amounts of toy storage. I also wanted to use as much of the area as possible, despite the fact that the back wall followed the line of the sloping roof, and there were structural beams straddling the front that shouldn’t be removed. However reading up about costs for these sorts of designs, and then getting the jaw-dropping bespoke quote, I realised very quickly that this work commanded a luxury budget that certainly wouldn’t fit in with our modest plans.   So I decided to design it myself, using as basic methods as I could, and see what was possible. The joiner on our team of builders was Si, who just promised me, “You design it, I’ll build it.” Bearing in mind his time was my money, I went back to my wish list and tried to pare it all back to its simplest form.

For clothes storage I really wanted a chest of drawers, but drawers are, as you can imagine, a complex and time-consuming thing to make from scratch. I realised that it would be perfectly possible to insert an existing chest of drawers into a space and build around them. Finding them was my first task: made so much easier by the Ikea website, which lists the dimensions of all its furniture. From the comfort of my desk, I found the largest chest of drawers to fit the space between beams on the left (also Malm, satisfyingly, so matching the bed). This then left another strut to fit around, which I felt could delineate the hanging wardrobe space. Then, the remaining, largest gap could be for the toy storage cupboard.

Malm drawers, wardrobe door, toy cupboard. Partitioning out the storage

Malm drawers, wardrobe door, toy cupboard. Partitioning out the storage

The cupboard doors were going to be fitted with handles for opening, but then we noticed that the Malm chest of drawers had a sloping diagonal finger grip at the top instead. We designed the doors in the same way, and it keeps the storage wall flush and neat.

Hanging rail wardrobe for shirts and smarts

Hanging rail wardrobe for shirts and smarts

Since the space went back so far into the eaves, I also made use of the area behind the chest of drawers to made a bookcase accessed from next to the bed. I modelled the design on some shelves we already had: with varying depths and heights for each shelf. They look very sweet, nestled into the wall, and fit all the different sized books that a child tends to have, as well.

Staggered bookshelves in roof space

Staggered bookshelves in roof space

The toy storage cupboard takes up most of the rest of the depth of the eaves. I think I ended up sectioning off about 80 sq cm of floor space right around the back, which couldn’t realistically be accessed from any point. But the rest of it is completely functional.

For the shelving inside the toy cupboard, I measured various storage boxes which we keep our toys in, as well as running a quick survey of the dimensions of Ikea’s line of containers. There seemed to be a general link at around 30 cm: some were this length, others longer but still at a 30 cm depth. So I decided 35 cm would be a useful depth for the shelves.

Simple but thought-out shelves will be long-term useful

Simple but thought-out shelves will be long-term useful

Then I checked on the heights of various boxes, and designed the height of the shelves accordingly. It was a bit painstaking, but worth it, as the shelves are now perfectly set up for pretty much anything we want to put on them. We use them for chunky items of clothing, as well. Of course, as Caspar grows older, there will doubtless be many changes of use. But I think the design can take it. I asked for the corners all to be rounded, so that crawling into the cupboard wouldn’t cause unnecessary injury. It’s all made of painted MDF, a far cry from the tulip wood and walnut we could have commissioned, but actually affordable, and fit for purpose, even smart in its own way.

Multi-function storage

Multi-function storage (and it won’t have your eye out)

We fixed in a wardrobe lighting set, so that you can see what you’re doing. It clearly provides exactly the right ambience for a few undercover games meetings. Sadly these are sometimes interrupted by a Real World representative on a raiding party (shouting “Shoes on!”), but the school day is not that long, and normal service can be resumed by 4 pm. In any case, as everyone knows, a game of Monopoly was never finished in a day.

%d bloggers like this: