Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Going up

Extending upwards is popular solution to gaining more living space and, in the majority of cases, it is also less expensive than an extension or cellar conversion.  Furthermore, creating a new room in the loft is usually some two thirds cheaper than moving to a property with an additional room.
Clearly, though, there are a number of important factors to consider. Structural alterations such as a loft conversion will require building and planning approvals and there are certain regulations to which you must adhere including head height, window style, access and fire escape provision. Your first step, therefore, should be to discuss your outline proposals with your local planning and building control officers who will be able to advise on what may and may not be acceptable. There are statutory guidelines about, for example, dormer or velux windows, about staircase width, height and shape and about emergency exit access. You will also need to consider whether existing ceiling joists need to be strengthened, what type of heating you will install (and whether your existing boiler can cope), whether there are any water tanks to be relocated and, of course, the effects of a new staircase on the floorspace below.

Once you have established whether your ideas are feasible, you need to explore how best to maximise the potential of this new space. While you will need professional drawings to submit for your local council’s approval and an approved contractor to undertake the structural work, in terms of your lifestyle it is you who is the expert.  So, before committing to the conversion, ask yourself the following questions.  Who will use the new space, when, for what and for how long?  How will this affect rooms below the new attic room?  How practical is access for furniture and how much built in storage is required?  What is already stored in the loft – and where will it be stored after the conversion?  Is there a telephone socket and will an internet connection be needed?  How does adding a room influence the kerb appeal and value of the house, the insurance premiums, the fuel costs? And, of course, can you bring it all in within budget?  Only proceed with your plans once you are happy with all your answers. 

Friday, 14 January 2011

New Year Resolutions

About this point in January all those well meant New Year resolutions are often becoming a little frayed at the edges, if they haven't unravelled altogether.  So now is a perfect time to make some new resolutions to which you intend to adhere!  And for the enthusiastic home decorator I can think of few better than the following:

Resolution 1:  I shall not make impulsive decisions about a new room style but take time to plan. (See my next blog for interior design planning tips)

Resolution 2:  I shall resist impulsive buys (since these rarely turn out to be real bargains) and shop for unique eco chic pieces with green credentials.  See a beautiful range of eco accessories at http://www.thebordersdesignhouse.co.uk/

Resolution 3:  I shall set a realistic timetable and budget - and stick to them.  And I will ask for advice from a qualified interior designer if I need help at any stage of the project. For a very modest fee a qualified designer at The Borders Design House will be happy to help.

Resolution 4:  I shall approach the whole task with pleasure and confidence ... and if this seems a lot to ask, I'll sign up for one of The Borders Design House interiors modules.  A fun way to learn how to transform your interiors.

Happy New Resolutions!  

Monday, 6 December 2010

Christmas inspiration

Admiring this scene from my desk this evening I was reminded of the Victorians' love of gold and silver Christmas decorations.  Affluent homes would sport real silver tinsel and gold or hand blown glass baubles while more modest families made their own starched lace, feather and ribbon oddment decorations. 

Gold and silver look stunning against the colours and textures of natural materials and add a sophisticated touch of bling to the seasonal home.   Resist buying imported, non-recyclable decorations which harm both purse and planet and make your own.  They're so easy to create using twigs, cones and leaves touched with a hint of eco-friendly gold and silver paint.  Add a few lavish bows made from fabric scraps, old lace and ribbon oddments glammed up with pieces of sparkling jewellery.  
Carry the scheme through from the front door to table settings and gift wrappings for a unique, eco, chic look.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Dreaming of a white Christmas

With snow about a foot deep here, it's easy to dream of a white Christmas.  Whatever the weather once the Big Day comes around, however, why not create your own white Christmas interior?  All white festive schemes can look dreamily ethereal or hyper sophisticated, depending on the materials you choose.

Use lots of gauzy fabrics and soft silver accents for a soft, romantic scheme or combine stark whites spiked with deep purple and black for a super-cool look.  Combine natural textures and eco-friendly materials within the scheme to add a touch of country style... but keep the overall look pure for stylish designer pzazz.

Friday, 19 November 2010


Five weeks tomorrow till the Big Day!
Dressing your home for Christmas marks the start of the festive season.  And, although we're coming to the close of an economically and environmentally sobering year, that needn't mean scaling down festive celebrations.  Indeed, it's even more important to explore how to capture the Christmas spirit while making the least impact on both purse and planet.
Handmade, natural and vintage products are high fashion this season so cash in on the trend by creating your own decorations or supporting small craft producers.  Take a walk in the woods to collect pine cones, decorative twigs and evergreen stems.  Scour local sales and charity shops for vintage jewellery, pretty china and swatches of old fabrics.  Get baking to produce your own tree decorations and edible gifts.
Watch this space over the next few weeks to pick up some great ways to have a green Christmas - or pick up a copy of December's D & G Life magazine for the full text of these tips.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Designer looks with natural eco chic


     Making a huge impact in the designer shows this year is the natural eco look.

     Natural wood from sustainable sources hand crafted into clean and pleasing designs is at the heart of the look.  This doesn't mean pieces are brand new; pre-loved and recycled furniture is just as valued and, indeed, if your preference is for endangered timbers like teak, reclaimed pieces are now the only viable option.  Other natural materials have recently been recognised as better for health as well as environment.  Eco paints, non toxic pastes and papers and natural floorcoverings are available in a huge range of styles and shades.
      But the natural eco look is about more than environmentally sound decorating.  It is about reintroducing the colours and textures of the countryside and rediscovering our artisan roots.  It could well take as its motto William Morris' words, 'Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful'.
     Against a background of materials such as stone and wood colours can be muted (putty, sage, corn and rust) or vibrant (cerise, purple, lime and chartreuse) and patterns simple or intricate.  But, whatever the choice, the finished decor will be pleasingly organic with each element in harmony with the whole.  It will be a scheme easily changed with the seasons or mood but it will retain - and respect - the underlying bones of the design.


Monday, 1 November 2010

Home accessories and Christmas Gifts

First of all, we must thank everyone who has given us such positive feedback on our new online shop!  You all say how much you love the accessories ... and the fact that everything is a 'one-off' makes them absolutely perfect for Christmas gifts.

We really must thank all our craftspeople too for their hard work and the exquisite pieces they've produced for us.  They really do make our range unique, eco and chic.

We especially love the house portraits (see under Vintage and Ornamental) and think they'd make a really thoughtful present for family and friends.  But you'll have to hurry with your orders if you want them done in time for Christmas - our Borders-based artist is already busy!

Christmas is less than eight weeks away so keep an eye open for our festive tips on decorating and original gifts.  And if you're after advice, help, or just want to say Hi! we'd love to hear from you.