Archives for category: Windows

I thought you might like to take a little tour of an ensuite bathroom I designed recently. It was rather a pleasure, as my client wanted something with a bit of sparkle, which of course is a fun premise from which to create.

The bathroom was being newly built as part of an extension, so we had no existing plumbing layout to conform to, however there turned out to be obvious places for all the different elements in the room, once we’d allocated the shower area.

Whenever you’re thinking about a bathroom design, try and go for the largest possible shower space. It’s no fun bumping your elbows on the screen at every turn, or having to undertake extreme manoeuvres simply to apply your shampoo. The position of the doorway to this room carved out a clear area behind it for the shower to run along a side wall. After looking at a few walk-in screen options, and considering the splash potential, we decided to section off the whole thing with a flat sliding screen door.

holly ensuite shower window

Expand your showering horizons — give yourself some room

Once we had sorted out a location, we decided to line the shower area with some rather glamorous bronze-toned tiles from Walls and Floors. I don’t think this warm shade is in stock at the moment, but they’re from the Metalico range by Envy (their silver tile also looks rather glitzy, and for the dramatic, there’s a glamorous black one).

holly ensuite shower kit tiles corner

Warm tones in the walk-in shower/ Metalico Copper Tile

There is a huge range of prices for shower kits on the market. You don’t need to pay a great deal for something that looks impressive however. Keep to some simple guidelines and you can get the wow factor for less. Firstly, hidden workings can look swish, but tend to cost you more. The kits which have the workings (usually a horizontal bar) which control the thermostat on display are the most cost effective. Hidden workings need to be hidden, so often necessitate the creation of a false wall to hide them behind. And if things do go wrong further down the line, there’s a whole lot more excavation to get at them. Whereas if you need to replace your bar controls…. just swap them in for a new model. I often recommend clients to go to some of the trade-priced online stores for best deals on these. Plumbworld have often proved to offer a good selection. The one I sourced here is from Victoria Plum.

holly ensuite shower kit and tiles

Singing in the rain shower: Aria round head riser shower kit from VictoriaPlum.com

One of the best way to dress your windows in a shower or bathroom is with a wood-effect blind. The material is a composite plastic created to look like a wood slat but with none of the inevitable warping or mould growth. These dark wood effect blinds from 247 blinds are inexpensive and can be rotated shut for total privacy, turned to allow the light to filter through, or even drawn up completely.

holly ensuite shower tiles

Ecowood Sumatra blinds from 247blinds.com

It’s always nice to fit in a little storage to a bathroom if you can. The space around a sink is obviously an ideal opportunity, and there are some lovely modular units out there in pretty much any colour or shade you could imagine to fit your look. We decided to go for a dark brown wood drawer unit, which looks neat against the white ceramic, and complements the copper-themed tiles. On the wall, a mirror can serve as the door to more shelf space, and this nifty cabinet also has a socket to plug in shaving equipment or toothbrushes. The lights running down each side are LED with a warm glow. Perfect for ambient lighting on those tough early mornings….

holly ensuite basin tiles and cupboard

Odessa Wenge floor standing sink unit from Victoria Plum, and a mirrored wall cabinet with LED lighting from Illuminated Mirrors

Of course, the simplest splashback for your basin would be a couple of extras from the shower, but we wanted to liven up the look of the room, and found these delightful mosaic groups at Walls and Floors. Featuring hints of copper, greys and some jaunty patterns, these characterful tiles come as a set of 30cm-square designs which are ridiculously easy to fit. Two here span the width of the 60cm-wide basin.

holly ensuite basin shower background

Moroccan Riad mosaic tiles in Copper by Envy

With the subtle glitz from the tiles, we kept the walls white and used a light grey-brown wood effect vinyl plank for the flooring. Whilst brown is the dominant colour here, the room seems cheerful and fresh. Just a little glitter can make all the difference.

Let me know — what colour schemes would you consider for a bathroom? Do you prefer cool blues or natural tones of stone or wood? Some striking colour like green or red, or maybe a haven of grey? Do you like to add a touch of glamour in your fittings, or keep things muted?

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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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m freshly inspired to narrow down my wallpaper favourites because I’m going to get some as a present for Christmas: thanks Mum and Dad! I’ve decided to plump for the chimney breast wall in the music room first, because that room really needs some care and attention. I haven’t shown you pictures yet because, frankly, it’s a bit of a dumping ground — piles of framed pictures and photos, a languishing ex-computer and redundant Christmas decorations are getting friendly with the remnants of a huge eBay sell-off we recently undertook. And there are five huge boxes full of CDs which Tim is gradually pensioning off to retirement websites like Music Magpie. The floorboards are a lot clearer than they were a few weeks ago, but I think we’ll wait a little before the big reveal. I promise I will take before and after pictures though, so that you can see the scope of the transformation.

So, I bring you the shortlist.

One of my first loves was a cityscape.

Endless source of interest: Londinium by Graham and Brown £22/ roll

Endless source of interest: Londinium by Graham and Brown £22/ roll

I think this design sparks the imagination because you can never quite be sure what is behind all those buildings, and the busy jumble of city life is evoked so well. I’d never get bored working in front of this. But maybe I would get distracted.

Stepping up a price bracket is my favourite city view, made originally by Piero Fornasetti in the 1940s for the entrance hall in his own home in Milan.

Glorious and measured: Fornasetti's Meditteranea now supplied by Cole and Son £82/ roll

Glorious and measured: Fornasetti’s Meditteranea now supplied by Cole and Son £82/ roll

This stately roofscape features gold accents and beautiful stately ink drawings. The regular buildings and formal layout bring an entirely different sense to the wall. A visual representation of Classical music: order and form.

Since the room is a working space, we were taken by the trompe l’oeil papers featuring bookshelves: there is even a Penguin paperbacks version. But we have a wall of books already in the room, and I do think that they are striking enough, without pretending we actually have a whole new set elsewhere. I haven’t ruled out the possibility of including this sort of paper on a door somewhere: possibly the one to Caspar’s room, which we haven’t yet painted.

There are other images, though, such as faux wood, plants, trees and other matter. Here are a couple of my favourites:

Old Wood from the Ginger collection by Esta Home £195/roll

Old Wood from the Ginger collection by Esta Home £195/roll

Yes! I know! £195! Before you choke on your mince pies, I can console you with the news that in fact this is a photo mural wall covering which comes complete in a roll of four 2.79 metre drops. So the price is for the overall mural, not simply a roll of wallpaper. But still, I don’t pretend this is a cheap option.

Bamboo from the Bluff collection by Galerie £44.95/ roll

Bamboo from the Bluff collection by Galerie £44.95/ roll

A nice bold photographic representation of vertically stacked bamboo poles. I like this for its simplicity and modern Japanese feel. I’m not sure where I’d put it in our house though, unless I could find a spot in our ensuite shower room?

A little trend I have noticed of late is for displaying plates on a wall. These are often unashamedly kitsch and twee, but placed in a block or along a mantelpiece are strikingly modern. Little surprise then, to find you can skip the charity shop searches for suitably ironic plates, and simply deck the walls with illustrated platters instead.

Cargo from the Museum collection by Andrew Martin £69.90/ roll

Cargo from the Museum collection by Andrew Martin £69.90/ roll

Then, we come to the range with which I have become so smitten. Scion’s designs are vibrant and clever, their patterns are bold but not too confusing on the eye. I dearly love this for its simplicity and style:

Dragonfly in the Melinki collection by Scion £32/ roll

Dragonfly in the Melinki collection by Scion £32/ roll

These delicate insect sketches in rich indigo would make a fantastic statement on a big wall.

But Wabi Sabi is the collection which is inspiring me the most. This is their collection header illustration:

Wabi Sabi collection highlights

Wabi Sabi collection highlights

The brilliant white woodwork partners perfectly with the teal and mid-blue geometric patterns. Best of all was when I noticed that the horizontal-lined design in the centre (and right) seems reminiscent of the shadows between shutters. Apparently it’s a rectangular grid pattern created by an ancient Japanese dye-resist technique:

Shibori from the Wabi Sabi collection by Scion in sapphire blue

Shibori from the Wabi Sabi collection by Scion in sapphire blue £32/ roll

Part of the reason why I think this pattern will work so well in our music room is that we have white wooden shutters at the large window, and they are directly opposite the wall I’d like to decorate. So creating an abstract ‘reflection’ seems quirkily apt, yet in keeping with the clean lines of the rest of the room, and the expanses of white painted woodwork.

I’ll get work started in the New Year. How about you? Do you have any walls calling out for a bit of colour or character?

Caspar loves his room at the top of our house. It has a view of Beetham Tower (tallest building in Manchester where the Hilton Hotel is based) and also our local Subway (as in the sandwich shop). Two things very close to a 7-year-old’s heart. When we first bought the house, it wasn’t really a room, more of a loft space with dodgy dusty floorboards, moulding sagging walls and head-crunching beams. Not having quite grasped the concept of house renovation, Caspar seemed a little dubious about the deal he’d been handed, since his brothers clearly had more room-like allocations with mod cons like carpets and ceilings. Still, as he mournfully confided in me one day, the view was good.

Viewing platform: Lotus undertakes distance survey of sandwich shop visitors

Viewing platform: Lotus undertakes distance survey of sandwich shop visitors

To his great surprise, we did in fact insulate, carpet and generally comply with building regulations so that by the time we moved in, he had managed to bag himself possibly the best room in the house. Tucked out of the way, with huge cupboards, interesting corners and the sweetest arched window, it is a place to hide, dream, play and potter. Perfect Caspar territory.

The footprint of the room is L-shaped, if you follow the line of ceiling which accommodates head height. Then on most sides the walls slope down, making potentially awkward eaves sections. Added to this the structural beams jut out at odd angles.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lofty ideas: how the top room started out

Lofty ambitions: how the top room started out

My first challenge was finding a place for the bed. Because of the funny arrangement of beams and ceiling slopes, I needed it to be tucked away and out of the main optimum head-height walkway area. Despite the fact it looks so small, the window wall is in fact perfectly wide enough for any single bed, with room to spare.

Cosy bed space. White Malm single bed from Ikea

Curtain fabric from Fancy Moon

While we’re here, I’ll just draw to your attention the curtain fabric, which ended up informing the paint choices. Caspar saw this one as I was trawling through websites for inspiration.

London Blue, Echino Nico, Etsuko Furuya, Kokka Fabric

London Blue, Echino Nico, Etsuko Furuya, Kokka Fabric

Fancy Moon has some spectacular fabrics from Japanese and American designers which I was particularly fond of, for their quirkiness and their cheerful innocence. I think so many of them are perfect for a child’s bedroom. Why not take a look at their website and see what you think?

In previous houses the kids had all shared one room, piled into bunks, so we did need to actually buy a bed for Caspar’s new-found free space. I wanted to ensure that it didn’t stand too high, as the window frame is quite low to the ground and it would have been sad to obscure the arch too much, especially since this is the only source of natural light into the room. After some extensive size searches on all the affordable options, I found, satisfyingly, that good old Ikea came in the lowest with its Malm series. Low bed, low price.

Yes, this bed is low. Ikea Malm fits the bill

Yes, this bed is low. Ikea Malm fits the bill

Having taken care of the sleep space, I assessed the rest of the nooks and crannies for their storage and access potential. The huge under-eaves space along from the entrance to the room seemed to be ideal for storage, and the fireplace wall looked good to put a desk for a study area. The beams on that wall were annoying me though: I was aware of the potential trip and bump hazards they presented, and yet we didn’t want to simply strip them out… just in case they were holding up some element of roof.

Then we came up with the idea of filling it in, and creating an actual partition. It’s only made of timber, but neatly sections off the two areas. We even added in a peep-hole (arched like the window) to add interest.

Caspar's reading spot: space to chill out and relax

Caspar’s reading spot: space to chill out and relax

Zoned out: partition wall provides different spaces with different functions

Zoned out: partition wall provides different spaces with different functions

Homework station: a place to study

Homework station: a niche to study

Owing to the aforementioned small window, the corridor section is gloomy even on a summer day. But we have put in LED spots to the ceiling, so that once the lights are on, it’s all bright. We chose a light-coloured carpet for the floor to reflect any rays, and I wanted to keep most of the walls white for the same reason. However to add some interest, I chose some chunks of wall and ceiling to paint bold colours. Using the curtains as a guide, we identified the RAL (colour code chart) numbers of a striking scarlet and a deep violet. Above the desk and reading areas is the slash of red ceiling, and then, a few metres facing, by the door, is a bold wall of purple.

Doorway to adventure in a purple patch

Doorway to adventure in a purple patch

The tiny door in the wall is not as exciting as it seems: simply an access point to another roof space, currently undeveloped. But the white woodwork strikes a great contrast and makes the room feel full of secret exploration potential.

I am going to save my bespoke storage system until next time, so that we can really focus on the detail.

Until then, what do you think of Caspar’s room? Would you tend to rip out unusual elements in your house, or make a feature of them?

As you’ll probably have noticed from my room designs, I like a bit of colour. Whilst the walls in our house are for the most part white, it’s good to brighten things up with some bold fabric, paint, tiles or other features. However I prefer my bedroom to be a tranquil place rather than a statement (we have nothing to prove here…), with a restful simplicity.

So it was that I plumped for a white scheme for the paintwork and wardrobes, and plain sanded floorboards. I discovered some beautiful curtain fabric from Prestigious which I was very pleased with, as it is elegantly quirky, and the pale blue background is so calming.

Chinese jars on a duck-egg blue background/ Prestigious Ginger Jars Azure

Chinese jars against a duck-egg shade/ Prestigious Textiles Ginger Jars, Azure

In the early hours (I know, not my ideal wake-up time, either, but neither night shift schedules nor children are  respecters of opinion) when there is just the faintest dawn appearing outside, they almost seem to glow in the watery light.

Subtle glow

Subtle glow

The central light is one I found at Homebase, with delicate cut-outs to the shade and glass droplets suspended beneath: there were plenty in the same style to be found around Laura Ashley, Next and John Lewis as well.

Master illumination/ Homebase shade (no longer stocked online)

Master illumination/ Homebase shade (no longer stocked online)

It’s bright and glittery (useful for my apparent full-time laundry sorting role), throwing pretty reflections around the walls from the crystals dangling below.

We looked into a number of wardrobe options: there are plenty of firms out there who provide bespoke building in (hugely expensive) and high-end modular pieces (still expensive). We did drool at the beautiful Hülsta designs, wandered through the Sliderobes showroom enjoying the complimentary coffee, and pored over the Sharps website. But when it came down to it, this level of spend was just not possible on our budget. We got ideas, and then headed for Ikea and the Pax wardrobe system.

Many an article has been written about the pros and cons of Ikea kitchens, and I imagine the same points apply for their wardrobes too. You pay less, you work harder, but it is possible to create a product that has a similar feel and look to its more expensive cousins, with a lot of comparable features. We arranged for our builder to build the main structures, and attach them to the walls. Then we worked out our storage needs, and set about designing the internal sections with shelves, hanging rails and drawers from the Komplement range.

Since we have a bit of wood panelling under the window, we thought it would be most appropriate to use the white panelled wood doors.

Wood panels are a feature

Wood panels are a feature

They are not bright white, but their shade is a perfect fit with the creamy colour that all the woodwork in the house seems to have settled down into (a trait of oil-based paints, which yellow with age: I quite like it). It turns out that these doors were the cheapest, too, which was a very positive result.

Bank of simple wood doors

Bank of simple wood doors

My friend Anna sent me the little birds, which I love. They announce the domain of my wardrobe, while opposite Tim’s storage is plain and unadorned.

Felt it: little birds at home

Chirpy: little birds at home

We have a simple dark framed mirror by the shower room door…

Reflective

Reflective

…and a nice photo of some balancing stones above the bed headboard.

Rocks balanced on a beach/ Adrian Gray

Rocks balanced on a beach/ Adrian Gray

On eBay I found a bargain-priced second of this pretty bedside table:

Lacquered and proud/ John Lewis Shari Cabinet

Lacquered and proud/ John Lewis Shari Cabinet

which I thought would fit in perfectly, but actually the colours are not quite right, a bit too strong for the rest of the room. The top and sides are black, and whilst I assumed that continuing the Chinese theme would work, in fact this piece of furniture is not subtle enough to fit in. So, bedside tables are a work in progress, and I’ll update you when we’ve found the solution.

Go ahead and comment, or tweet me your thoughts to @stowedtweet

Go ahead and comment, or tweet me your thoughts to @stowedtweet

What do you prefer for a bedroom — peaceful shades, cosy warm colours, or dramatic darks? I’ll look forward to hearing your ideas!

One of my favourite rooms in our house is the utility room. Mainly this is because Malachy couldn’t say ‘utility’ when we first moved in, and earnestly talked about the ‘yoo-tiddly woom,’ which was just so unbearably cute that we all started doing it. At which point Malachy defiantly corrected his pronunciation and demanded that we all stop teasing. Apart from this it really is the essence of stowed, my business, with some satisfyingly effective storage solutions and quirky decorating that I wouldn’t maybe have tried in the other more traditional, social spaces in the house.

The space is limited (roughly 270cm square, with a partial dividing wall that was structural), and I had an awful lot of things that I wanted to cram in. I wrote a list.

1. Downstairs loo

2, Washing machine and tumble drier

3. Utility sink

4, Drying rack

5. Coat hooks

6. Storage of football boots, sunglasses, hats, scarves, gloves, umbrellas, shin pads, roller boots, footballs…. I really could go on and on, but basically the easy-access essential kit of any small boy on his way outside

7. Cleaning supplies

8. Hoover

9. Ironing board and iron

10. Mop, dustpan and brush, broom, hey, even a feather duster!

11. Cat bed

12. Cat food and water bowls

13. Cat food supplies

In fact, pre-move, conversations between Tim and I about where things would be situated in the new home usually went something like this: “Where are we going to put the &%*”%&*?” “Oh, in the utility room….” “Not in the cellar?” “No-one will be bothered to go down there.” “OK.” In addition, as I mentioned in an earlier post, we didn’t want to fill up the hallway with too much clutter.

So we had high expectations and a little room to stash them all in.

First I had to house the immovables: the loo had its own space, with a door, and I’d already decided to pop the tumble drier on top of the washing machine, as it’s so space-efficient. I did look into some official stacking kit for them, but I still haven’t got around to it yet, and have to admit that at the moment they seem perfectly stable and unlikely to fall suddenly and dramatically on passers by. That said, please don’t you be irresponsible like this. You should definitely only stack washing machines with the proper attachments and not have them lurching over you after an energetic spin cycle.

Finally, a sink and as many storage units as I could cram in would fill the rest of the space.

We used the same sort of Ikea units as in the kitchen, Faktum units with the gloss white doors called Abstrakt. I also went for an incorporated stainless steel sink and drainage top which doubles as a work surface: superbly practical and Ikea-level cheap too.

Pile 'em high: squeezing in cupboards and machines along one wall

Pile ’em high: squeezing in cupboards and machines along one wall

Because it’s a small room and there’s not much by way of free wall space, I decided on a functional-feeling dark blue, grey and white scheme, and found these lovely tiles from Topps:

Patterned: Henley/Topps Tiles

Patterned: Henley/Topps Tiles

They provide a jaunty splashback for the sink area.

The flooring needed to be cheap and hardwearing too: buoyed up by the success of the metal-look flooring in our boys’ bathroom, I found another Carpetright vinyl sheet design which looks a bit like industrial mesh.

Metallic mesh: Carpetright vinyl flooring

Metallic mesh: vinyl flooring

I like metal-look patterns on vinyl flooring: it’s realistic and the repeating pattern suits the material. For the price of a vinyl sheet, pretty much the cheapest flooring solution you can get, there are some really interesting, stand-out designs to choose from.

For some emphasis, I had all the trim woodwork painted dark blue. It gives a nice framework to the little room, and seems neat and practical.

Navy frames

Navy frames

In the downstairs loo I found some dark blue and glittery tiles to complement the scheme.

Little loo space

Little loo space

I knew my lighting needed to be pretty strong as there were no windows in the room. I am not normally a fan of endless ceiling downlights, which I think can sometimes make a room soullessly bright and harsh, but in here we did need some illumination, so we have ceiling spots. But the single most successful light source has proven to be the door, where in a revelatory moment I realised that I had found a chance to have a window after all, and went for a fully glazed option. It’s incredibly bright in the room, and actually streams light right through to the hallway, so that you get a glimpse of the garden as soon as you come in the front door.

Keeping it bright: a glazed back door brings sunshine into the house

Keeping it bright: a glazed back door brings sunshine into the house

Having all doors glazed at the back of the house presented some new challenges with regard to cat access, but I’ll come to that next time, along with some of the storage and drying solutions that help the room live up to its name.

One of the reasons we bought our home was the potential we saw in the kitchen to extend it to a large family room, with plenty of space for cooking, eating and hanging out. It was, as we saw it, a case of adding a simple bricked box structure onto the back of the house, thereby doubling the existing kitchen size and featuring those bi-fold doors which can open up the back of your house like a giant can-opener. Our architect refined our ambitions and we pored over our resulting plans with great excitement.

We showed them to various friends and family members, and thrashed out a few of the design points. Perhaps one of the nicest and most ingenious additions came from our sister-in-law Ali, who suggested a long strip of window along the dining table side of the extension, ostensibly to break up the blankness of the new-build wall. Thank you to Ali! It is a characterful and fun element in the room, and gets so many compliments.

Pillar box window in a blank wall: not designed for tall cats

Pillar box window in a blank wall: not designed for tall cats

When I was considering it, I realised that the vista was not exactly interesting: a classic picture window normally frames a fantastic view or a feature in a garden, as you can see in this stunning example from Houzz:

I also thought about the clerestory concept, which is a window or strip of windows based high up in a room to let in light.

A view of the sky: designyourinteriors showcases the clerestory effect

A view of the sky: designyourinteriors showcases the clerestory effect

But our slimline window is not a clerestory window, because it is at eye level, and the prevailing view is of leaves on the evergreen trees outside. And that is part of the charm. The white plain walls have a rich slice of foliage daubed across them, whatever the weather or season.

Green screen: leafy aspect

Green screen: leafy aspect

A final small bonus to this clever window is that the kids’ trampoline is located on this side of the garden. Once bouncing begins, from my partial parental viewing gallery the occasional glimpse of a disembodied head reassures me that all is well.

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