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MADE LONDON RETURNS TO MARYLEBONE

The Design and Craft Fair, MADE LONDON, returns to One Marylebone 24-26 October to present the very best in contemporary craft and design. Showcasing over 120 READ MORE...
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SEA LIFE COMES TO TORONTO AT RIPLEY'S AQUARIUM

It's called Ripley's Aquarium of Canada (as opposed to Ripley's Aquarium of Toronto which would follow the format for their US locations), which is not helping the general READ MORE...
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LCM: BACKSTAGE AT ORLEBAR BROWN WITH TONI & GUY

I'm taking you backstage again! This time at Orlebar Brown's Covent Garden shop where the SS15 collection of tailored beach and resort wear was shown both in in the shop, and to the delight READ MORE...
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SHOWSTUDIO ILLUSTRATES THE MEN'S COLLECTIONS SS15

Each season Showstudio invites their favourite fashion illustrators to create their own unique view of the collections, then they present each series READ MORE...
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BOOK REVIEW: LAND/SEA VOL.1

I opened the cover of a new landscape photography periodical I had just received called Land/Sea and began browsing the photos and words as I walked into my kitchen READ MORE...
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LC:M BACKSTAGE AT MATTHEW MILLER WITH TONI & GUY

Yes, this is a men's fashion post. And it feels right. This season's London Collections: Men was my first ever thanks to an invitation from long-term London Fashion Week sponsor Toni & Guy READ MORE...
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STOCKHOLM: THE FERRY TO VASA MUSEUM

One day in Stockholm we took the ferry to the island of Djurgården to visit the Vasa Museum, one of Stockholm's most popular attractions. 'Vasa' refers to the Swedish warship READ MORE...
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August 27, 2014

Design and Craft: Made London Returns to One Marylebone

 

The Design and Craft Fair, MADE LONDON, returns to One Marylebone 24-26 October to present the very best in contemporary craft and design. Showcasing over 120 highly original makers and designers from the UK and Europe, the show offers visitors the opportunity to view and buy unique hand crafted pieces in a friendly, informal and beautiful atmosphere. Long established and well known makers mix with emerging makers to offer a selection of works that are truly varied and exciting.

At the fair you'll find a vast range of expertly crafted items including colourful glassware, soft knitted textiles, functional ceramics, beautiful jewellery, classic furniture as well as great fashion. A full list of exhibitors can be seen here.

One Marylebone is a stunning church conversion in central London near Regents Park. MADE LONDON will occupy all three floors, including the double height crypt and mezzanine.  Be sure to stop by the cafe in the crypt to relax with a drink and a treat!

For more information you can visit www.madelondon.org

August 26, 2014

How to Add International Design Influences to Your Space

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One of the greatest aspects of travelling is discovering other styles of interiors that reflect a life and culture different from our own, then trying to recreate them at home. Local designs tend to be influenced by the colours and materials present in the surrounding environment. Take India; the bright desert sun and the red earth are reflected in their colourful saris, the great rainforests of Indonesia provide the woods for their furniture, and the lushly decorated temples inspire the use of gold and luxurious silk.

Scandinavia is another region that represents one of the most distinct interiors aesthetics, rooted in simple, practical design that is emulated well beyond its borders. Light is a factor thanks to the long, dark winters, and vast, sustainable forests makes wood the natural choice of material for just about everything, often painted white for ceilings and floors to brighten interior spaces. Decorative items are placed to add colour and form, but used sparingly to keep the space clean and calm. Reindeer skins finish the room with texture and warmth.

A Scandinavian feel can be added to more traditional or eclectic interiors through wall murals in pale greys or blues to create a subtle nod to nature.

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In direct contrast to the Scandinavian coolness is the Arabic interior style. Strong patterns and vivid colours are mixed freely. Although dark wood furniture is popular, the blazing heat makes tiles a popular material for both floors and decoration. Moroccan tiles are the King of Tiles, and although the genuine  article is expensive, they are as gorgeous as they are timeless. Ornate mirrors and colourful Turkish lanterns abound. Persian rugs complete the picture. To create an Arabian room with a contemporary feel, you can paint the walls white and let the colours of the furnishings do the rest.

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In Chinese interior design, more is more. Furniture with wood carvings, gold accessories, red silk lanterns, and ornate table cloths all find their way into the Chinese room. 

The principles of fengshui govern what goes where in the room and water features with gold fish and wooden bird cages with a colourful resident are there to bring good fortune. Jade ornaments introduces a rich green colour into the gold, dark wood and red. Yellow was once a colour reserved for royalty only, but it has been making its way into ordinary homes. Laquerware is popular both for furniture as well as boxes and trinkets.

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Reproducing any of these styles for your own home is easier than you think. Use your creativity and start with a clear idea of how you would want it to look. Then take your time and make sure to search for items that will make your room look authentic. With just a few stand-out pieces, your new, world-design room will emerge. 

August 19, 2014

My Home Extension 'Before': Finishing and Rookie Mistakes

The-swelle-life_13There's a newly built room waiting for me back in England that isn't quite finished but now has honeycomb blinds that lock down, a floor, modular sofa, and dining table. And a huge TV mounted on the wall - a bit of an eyesore but I'm not going to pretend I don't watch TV! It's a great space of mostly windows, a raised glass ceiling, and there's even some garden to spare after a fairly substantial extension of the house off the kitchen. It was a scramble to get it painted and the flooring installed before heading back to Canada for the summer; I think I narrowly avoided an aneuryism. 

As for the paint, I wanted a clean, pale grey - to me that means a cool undertone that is as neutral as possible - that delivers depth and works in every kind of natural and artificial light. I didn't want 'colour' per se, opting for light and airy but didn't want to go with white which seems to be the default colour for so many orangeries and conservatories. Luckily I found my shade, but I got a surprise when painting. (It was a DIY job because a decorator would have had to have been booked about six months prior and the extension wasn't even conceived of then. I don't recommend it. Painting an entire room, especially one with so many windows and boxed electrics, is hard. I didn't need my lower back anyway.)

Back to the surprise. It became apparent once the primer was on and the first coat of that lovely grey was being applied, that the plasterer did a terrible job. Shameless, actually. I could live with a few imperfections but we're talking floor to ceiling moon craters. I guess I just hadn't looked closely at it, taking in the entire room and not scrutinising the walls. The construction is very sound - I watched it being built and it was pretty cool to see how it's done - but all it takes is one sloppy guy to ruin it all. (And I made him so much coffee! The cheek!) Luckily that part is fixable, though extremely frustrating to have to do so after the (very expensive) paint is on. (I'm downplaying this part a bit, the truth is I freaked.)

In contrast, the floor was a success story. Thank goodness. As you know from previous posts, I laboured over what type and style of flooring to go with, and at the time underfloor heating was to be installed first. It turns out that UFH can be a lot harder to source than you'd think (actually I hadn't a clue what's involved with that), especially on a time crunch, and after two false leads it was just easier to find another heating solution. (And save a ton of money in the process.) I chose laminate flooring in a 'white' wood grain from Homebase to keep with the light and airy feel, and was able to find a very good installer at the last minute - how rare is that? 

First, I went to the store to see the flooring I picked out online to be sure I liked it and also to compare it to others. It remained my number one choice and I bought a sample to take home. It looks funny, but I put it under the legs of our dining table hoping to get a sense of how it would work. Hey, you have to try! 

The-swelle-life-14 (1 of 1)(Little Coco thinks this room is hers.) The table is my first Magis piece, and the chair was just a spare I put there for some reason. I still haven't decided on the chairs but they definitely won't have metal legs. I also tried my Eames DRW with dark maple legs which adds a bit of warmth to what is going to be a cool, minimalist room, so I might buy three more of them to liven things up a bit. 

As the flooring was being installed I was hopeful, but nervous. I liked the floor, but would it work with the room? Would it feel right? Would I want to live with it for years? I told the installer it looked good so far and he began to tell me about a recent customer, then said, 'Maybe I shouldn't tell you.' I told him to go on. He continued, telling me she chose a similar looking floor and was also redoing her entire downstairs, and when it was done she said, "I hate it. It's a lovely floor and you did a good job, but I hate it." I groaned good naturedly but was secretly imploding at the thought of feeling that way with even this one room, never mind the kitchen and hallway as was the plan. But when it was finished I was really happy with it. It delivered the look and feel I wanted, complementing the walls and the platinum shade of the blinds. Hopefully the disappointed woman felt differently after a few days; I think changing a large space so drastically can be very disconcerting and a strong emotional reaction is normal; we're profoundly connected to our homes and I think we don't realise how much a change can throw us off until we're faced with it. 

I'll be coming back with a 'reveal' post after I return to England. It will take a little while to complete the room but you'll be able to see how it all works together with the modular sofa. 

In the meantime, benefit from my rookie mistakes and avoid them when building and finishing a room in your home:

  1. Check that the concrete foundation has set evenly. Walk on it. Look for slopes. If it doesn't feel consistent throughout the room request it be fixed. A floor consists of very thin underlay and the flooring itself is generally not especially thick so it will not compensate for obvious imbalances in the foundation. Your installer can't do anything about it so take care of it before the floor goes down, or be prepared to live with it. 
  2. Inspect the surface of the walls when the plasterer tells you he's finished. This will be the last thing that's done. Depending on the light, some flaws are discernable to the eye, while others only to the touch, so run your hand over the surfaces. I can attest to the fact that priming and painting does not smooth out even the slightest of imperfections; in fact it seems to amplify them. This room has spotlights in the boxing which essentially showcases every flaw that falls below them!
  3. Are the edges of the boxing sharp and even? Sometimes where two sections of boxing meets there's an overlap. I'm not clear on how easy or not this is to fix once it's done, and it's not really obvious unless you're looking for it. But if you're a perfectionist it will probably bother you after the fact so keep an eye out before painting. 
  4. Check that any crown moulding is secure and doesn't show any cracks. 
  5. If you're looking to wall mount a TV, have about three metres of HDMI cable ready BEFORE the drywall goes up. This way your cables are hidden. (Luckily this wasn't a mistake and may seem like a no-brainer, but easily forgotten amongst the chaos.) 

Be firm about anything you want fixed; there's no reason things shouldn't be perfect!

August 09, 2014

Toronto Sea Life: Ripley's Aquarium

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It's called Ripley's Aquarium of Canada (as opposed to Ripley's Aquarium of Toronto which would follow the format for their US locations), which is not helping the general notion down south that there's nothing in Canada but a few things. (Hey you're from Canada? Do you know Dave from Canada?) I guess they don't plan to open any other locations in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal.... 

Odd naming choices aside, Ripley's Aquarium - as in Ripley's Believe it or Not That's the Ticket Price (ok rant is really over now, my holiday from blogging has made me come back with some pent-up feistiness) is a pretty cool place. Located in the CN Tower complex, it's a very busy attraction, especially at the height of summer for tourists and locals alike, so plan for that if you go. What impressed me were some particularly beautiful displays, such as the stunning anemones whose tank was so pretty and serene in its colourful and varied arrangement it appeared to have been styled, as well as the jellyfish which pulsated and plunged to a succession of changing lights in bright hues which coloured their translucent bodies. And I saw some things I didn't know existed, such as a bright blue lobster (which unfortunately just would not photograph clearly for some reason), and one of the coolest things I've ever seen, a Sea Dragon, part of the Syngnathidae family which also includes seahorses.  They float as if in a state of suspended animation. I wonder what they're thinking. If anything. 

Here's a tour from the outside in starting with the CN Tower, the tallest free-standing structure in the western hemisphere at 553.33 metres (which I've never been up because I'm scared crapless of heights and that's never, ever going to change):

  

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(Get your scrolling finger warmed up, there's a ton of fishy photos and they get better as it goes along)

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Lion Fish

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Starfish

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Seahorses

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Sea Dragons (so cool)

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Anemones

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This picturesque tank marks the entrance of a sea tunnel which you are taken through on a conveyor (and probably will wander off it to get better pictures of the other side of the tank, but nobody is there to chastise you)

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Inside the Tunnel

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Sharks 

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Rays

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Jellyfish

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This is the kind of jellyfish (below) I see washed up on the beach where I live by the North Sea, in the hundreds. It's not often but it's a scene I've come across many times, both sad and beautiful. From what I've read, it seems high winds bring in the jellyfish from warmer waters and high tides deliver them to their final resting place.  The biggest I've seen is a little bigger than your head and I've seen them as small as a 10p coin. Poor little things. The seagulls get the little crabs early in the morning and leave their legs scattered all over, but they will not touch these guys. They're not good eatin' I guess, maybe poisonous. Though the aquarium tanks have the coloured lights, the four rings in the centre of these jellyfish's bodies are coloured exactly as they appear - almost a neon purple against a mostly opaque, white, firm gelatenous body when out of the water. These ones don't have tentacles, I've never seen any and even turned one over to investigate; their bodies are very streamlined, like jelly disks. 

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Finally, before being dumped into the gift shop on the way out, we saw the area with the tanks that regulate the delicate balance needed to sustain the various species living in the aquarium. They've made the tanks look pretty cool:

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Goodbye aquarium:

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And CN Tower (which I never realised gives a light show at night)

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Photos © The Swelle Life

July 18, 2014

Transform Your Bathroom With These 3 Simple Ideas

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Your bathroom may not be the biggest or the most glamourous room in the house but it is one of the most important to keep up-to-date and fresh. Along with the kitchen, the master bathroom is the most valuable asset, and making sure that it looks good and works well can increase the selling price of your home. 

The bathroom is also a great place to unwind and clear your mind, especially if you're a bath person. So you want the décor and ambience to make it as inviting as it can be. In this guest post we take a look at some of the easiest and most cost effective ways to transform your bathroom to give it that enjoyable and relaxed feel.

Re-Paint Or Tile The Walls    

The simplest and most effective way to make your bathroom look fresh is to update the paint. A new coat, even if it is the same colour, can go a long way to making your bathroom look and feel brand new again. If you want to change the colour, keep it light to make it feel as open and airy as possible. 

Add Ceiling Cladding

Bathroom-ceiling-cladding-dbs-bathroomsOne of the most overlooked areas is the ceiling as it tends to be considered too expensive to change. However, specialist retailers, such as DBS Bathrooms,  are starting to supply new product such as ceiling cladding that can be designed to fit any area while making your bathroom stand out with style.

Ceiling cladding is perfect for the fluxuations in temperature in your bathroom, and unlike paint it won’t suffer from damp in a poorly ventilated area. The cladding is easy to install and with a variety of styles to choose from you can give your bathroom an instant lift. 

Select the Right Lighting

In the majority of bathrooms, the main lighting source will be overhead and usually attached to the ceiling. While this is often the most practical place for the lights, it is not necessarily the best place if you spend a lot of time using the mirror. By adding a lighting source around eye level next to your mirror you will be able to see what you are doing – perfect for applying make-up or shaving, especially if your space is lacking in natural light.

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While changing the electrics is better left to a professional, it is still possible to do all the ground work of mounting the light. It’s essential when working with electrics, or indeed any aspect of your bathroom, to have the right tools. Quality is important for effectivness, longevity and safety, so use a specialist retailer like The Big Tools Shop for equipment to help get you on your way to updating your bathroom. By using one or all of these simple and cost effective tips you can keep your bathroom looking fresh and up-to-date without breaking your budget. 

July 09, 2014

Finding the right shower for your home

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Our bathroom reno is still a while away, but it's good to start figuring out what you want well before your old one gets ripped out. I recently I visited a showroom and had some looks at options, particuarly showers because we're getting rid of our tub/shower combo, which as previously mentioned, really needs to go. I think there must have been around 75 showers in this place, but rather than be overwhelmed by choice, the perfect shower revealed itself - minimalist and very little hardware so it looks like floating glass panels and nothing else. Finding a shower that is right for your space - and you - depends on several factors. Think about which design, style, and features will give you the best shower possible. 

Coordinate your theme

What kind of feel and style are you looking to create in your bathroom? The small yet significant details such as the design of the tap, shower head and shower tray - or absence of the latter - will help follow through on your theme. 

Take time to figure out the perfect design to complement your theme and look at lots of pictures so you can visualise your ideas in your space. 

Maximise practicality

Determine which type of shower will work best for your situation. If you have children, a shower needs to be easy to get into, simple to use and safely set to the right temperature. A mixer shower will ensure no scolding or freezing for the kids.

Another benefit of a mixer shower is that the flow remains consistently strong regardless of the water pressure. This is particularly helpful if you want to minimise water usage without compromise when many family members are taking showering in the morning.

If you have a second bathroom, you may want to look at vibrant colour schemes to make the dreaded 'getting ready' routine more fun for both adults and kids.

Click here if you want to find out more about mixer showers and how the feature could be perfect for your home.

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Glass shower panels help strike a balance in this small bathroom. Source 

Use space efficiently

You should also consider how effectively your bathroom space is being used. If you don’t have children, have a small bathroom, or simply don’t use the tub that much, it might be worth redesigning your space for a shower alone, as we're doing. It frees up space and if you go with a minimalst design will instantly make your bathroom appear lighter and more open. (And I'm hearing that more and more homeowners are opting for this, so selling your home with no tub may not be a problem and shouldn't hinder you doing what's right for you.)

However, if you are still a fan of a relaxing bath, you should find a shower that complements the style of the tub and doesn’t let the water spray out onto the floor. A shower screen will work better than a curtain, and while those bi-fold style panels are meant to keep water from leaking out, be sure you buy something well made or you could be accumulating damage beneath the floor. 

Choose your experience

Finally, it’s important to think about the sensation you want to experience when you shower. Do you want a feeling of total immersion? If so, look for an oversized showerhead or model featuring multiple streams. If you prefer a deep and massaging clean, you may want to invest in a power shower.

Take your time to browse all of your options, and you may even find one or two you'd never considered. The shower is where we begin our day so the time invested will be worth it!

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June 30, 2014

3 Types Of Custom Furniture that Make the Most of Your Space

Modular-bookcase-for-living-room-furnitureModular storage offers ways to use your space more efficiently without compromise; good design can make it look better than ever

Homes are getting smaller. A survey by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) revealed that the average size of a three-bedroom home in the UK is now just 88 sqm – almost half that of homes built in the 1920s & 30s. So while our new-build homes are nicer, more efficient and designed with modern life in mind, we’ve got to get creative with the space we have.

In the RIBA survey, 65% of owners of fully occupied homes said their available space limited furniture choices and layout. However, this can be used an an opportunity to customise your furniture and make the most of the rooms and create a home you love, rather than feel like you’re settling. This guest post runs through three simple and affordable solutions for the home to help transform it into something with a unique yet fantastically functional, interior design.

1. Self-Adjusting ‘Anti-Wobble’ Tables

There’s a new type of technology which utilises hydraulics and automatic locking. FLAT is a company specialising in adapting this technology to eliminate the scourge of wobble tables on uneven surfaces. Whether it’s on grass, paving or sloping surfaces, it can ensure that the table top is always level.

How It Maximises Your Space:

Anti-wobble tables help you make the most of any areas, inside or outside, which you’ve otherwise considered ‘off limits’ for dining or any table top activities. According to Garden Organic, the average UK garden size in 2006 was 90 sqm – and the RIBA survey found that this has changed negligibly since then. Online store Eclipse Furniture are one of the UK’s leading approved distributors of the product which allow you to dine al-fresco, regardless of home much space you have and what surfaces you can use.

 2. Bespoke ‘Angled’ Sofas & Soft Furnishings

Rather than trying to shoehorn that bookcase into a tiny corner, or having to put your new sofa at a weird angle because of a protruding chimney breast, bespoke furniture, while typically more of an investment than ‘off the shelf’ products, is an excellent way to ensure no space is wasted. What was once awkward might now be your favourite feature in the room. 

How It Maximises Your Space:

A good manufacturer can create a design that works with the awkward angles, etc. that present challenges. TailorMade is a Windsor-based company offering bespoke sofas with personalised service - and they will also source fabrics if you have something particular in mind. It's worth a consultation with a reputable company to find out what options you may have - you might be surprised! 

3. Modular Storage & Furniture

Modular design is an increasingly popular option for furnishings and accessories, typically offering several possible combinations and often a more unique presentation. One such system is Opencase which incorporates wooden wall panels with rods at regular intervals. You can then add any number of included components such as shelves, rods, cupboards, racks, boxes and baskets – to create the storage system that works best for your space.  

How It Maximises Your Space:

Modular designs let you 'chop and change' parts which gives you the flexibility to build and modify the unit as your needs change. Depending on design, they can work well in tight or awkward spaces, and when no longer needed there can be recreated to be useful in other rooms. 

This guest post was written by UK blogger Tom McShane, working with renowned custom furniture suppliers Tailor Made Sofas and Eclipse Furniture. The firms work with domestic and commercial customers to provide unique products for specific properties.

June 27, 2014

My Kitchen Remodel and Extension Decorating: Second Look at Floors

Light-oak-plank-floor-white-roomCan't decide between a warm blond plank and a cool white one? Put one on the floor and the other on the ceiling! Photo source

Ok, it's crunch time. The extension, which opens up from the kitchen and therefore will share flooring, is built and it's beautiful - and it's empty! Well, except for a modular sofa still in boxes to protect it - it wasn't supposed to arrive until the end of July after the floors and painting were completed - and a new Magis table that I had to put out because I just wanted to be able to look at it. 

So we have to get moving on finishing the extension so we can use it. There is one major consideration in choosing the flooring: it has to work with underfloor heating which is how we're going to heat the extension. We know people who chose this way over radiators and are glad they did, so let's hope it's the right decision for us. (As a Canadian who is used to huge basement furnaces and floor vents, the rads bother me because they limit your options for placement of furniture and are a bit of a beast if you're trying to create a minimalist decor.)  There are actually very few types of flooring that are all-out bad ideas for underfloor heating, typically the kinds you're not likely to consider anyway, while the rest offer varying degrees of success. Ceramic, limestone and slate tiles are excellent thermal conductors, while vinyl flooring offers very good transfer of heat, and engineered wood is preferable to solid as heating is dependent on width and thickness, as some examples. 

Medium-plank-floor-white-kitchen-open-conceptThis multi-toned floor is probably as warm as you can get while staying on the lighter side of things. Photo source

So do I want a plank or tile? (The next groundbreaking innovation in home design concepts will be to somehow cast an image in your existing kitchen, like a hologram, so we don't have to rely on our wonderful yet wildly inaccurate imaginations.) I love the look of plank, and sometimes tile appeals depending, and I'm drawn toward continuous flooring which usually means poured resin or concrete. But that just feels bigger than me and my god, concrete in the UK? On the coast where it's damp most of the year? Anyway, I'm pretty sure that anything that needs to be poured will not do well with heating coils unless there's some way around drowning them. I think the clear winner is plank. 

As for colour, I'm pretty much decided on light. And then the question is will it have cold or warm undertones, such as what's known as Nordic or Arctic white which can cast a hint of blue, or a light oak with just a touch of brown. What I know I don't want is that chalky, painted, shabby chic look with no tonal variation; for solid colour I'd rather do tile and not cover up the natural gorgeousness of wood grain. And nothing overly lacquered. The extension is going to be cool, with a light, saturated grey on the walls and blinds in a 'Platinum' shade that is just so pure and clean, especially when compared to other greys I was shown which had beige or pink undertones and were not what I think of grey, more a taupe or mushroom which is really another colour altogether in my book. So a cool floor like a whitewash oak would seem the obvious choice, but is that too much coolness? Can you mix warm and cool? Of course! In fact in this case, because it's a space you live in, you need a balance to keep a room from becoming either too stark or too warm, the latter of which tends to not feel very modern. But of course there are other factors to consider, such as natural light - our extension is almost all windows which will warm it up significantly- as well as the colours of your furniture - we have a light grey modular sofa and white dining table - and how you accessorise the room which can be all it takes to set the balance.

Included here are some images I found which show cool rooms - walls, fixtures, furnitures - with both cool and warm, light coloured floors. They all look so great I'm not sure it helps me decide one way or another! (Hence the title of this post being 'second look at floors', not 'final'. But at least I'm closer than I was last time.) 

Scandi_Style_ MacDonald Wright Architects 05-light-wide-plank-floorThe overall effect of these gorgeous, wide planks is more on the cool side, though they do offer just a hint of warmth that can be played up with medium wood chairs, as seen here. Photo source 

White-nordic-plank-floorThis Nordic floor sets a very cool tone in this mostly white room despite the warmth of the table and chairs. This look is more about contrast and playing up the clean whites. 

June 11, 2014

Tips for Adding Value to Your Home

Contemporary-kitchen-breakfast-barInvesting in your kitchen design not only makes daily life much more enjoyable, it will increase the value of your home and make it easier to sell 

Housing prices are rising in the UK, and one thing you can do if you're looking to sell is invest in upgrading your home. (I always say do it well before you're serious about selling so you can benefit, too!) It will add value and help your listing become more competitive in the market. There are a few essential rooms in every house that can be redesigned or reworked to make the overall property appear unique and more appealing to potential buyers. Here we look at how ways you can improve specific rooms to enhance the value of your home:

  • Kitchen: The kitchen is one of the most utilised rooms in the house. It's the heart of the home and tends to be a magnet for guests at parties. Upgrading this room alone can add significant value to your property; recent research reveals that a kitchen renovation can add 4-7% to the value of a home. Buyers tend to be attracted to kitchens that have adequate cabinet and counter space, a well-functioning layout for appliances, and lots of natural light to make the room feel airy and spacious. Granite countertops are popular as they add high-end style to the overall look. Breakfast bars are also a sought-after feature in the kitchen, and if you think you don't have the space, you'd be surprised to find how easily even tiny kitchens can accommodate one with a little clever design. 
  • Bathroom: Ideally, your home will have a sufficient number of bathrooms/half-baths. If not, look into whether the space can accommodate one more ie. under the stairs. A new, well-fitted bathroom with impressive features such as a soaker tub, wet room, contempoary sink/vanity and storage for towels and toiletries will help make your home a standout amongst potential buyers. A touch of luxury can be added via extras such as heated flooring systems, steam showers, electric showers and whirlpool tubs. If you’re focussed on quality, you will find some of the best electric showers by Mira. Incorporating recessed ceiling lights, illuminated mirrors and wood shelving are great ways to complete the look and make an impression. 
  • Conservatory: A sunny extension in the form of a conservatory or orangery that overlooks the garden is another great way to add value to your property. It is one of the most attractive features for luring potential buyers as it increases the square footage of your home and connects the space between your indoor space and the outdoors. Recessed ceiling lights, built-in speakers and hidden HDMI cables for wall-mounted TVs (these are all features we have in ours) are inexpensive or even free upgrades that will make the room even more desirable.

It's also essential to style your home so the rooms appear as spacious and clean as possible to potential buyers. Get rid of any clutter, anything superfluous and knick-knacky, and do your best to present a neutral palette. Clashing patterns and dark colours tend to really bring the feel of a space down and it's always better to err on the side of dull rather than present as 'busy'!

June 04, 2014

Blogger Competition: Win £1000 in John Lewis Vouchers from Cunard

Mediterranean-living-roomA few well-chosen pieces of furniture and accessories in warm textures and ocean colours is all is takes make your home Mediterranean

Home decor bloggers: this is your chance to win £1000 in John Lewis vouchers doing what you love! Cunard is offering savvy and stylish bloggers the chance to bring of touch of the Med into your own home. The Mediterranean is one of the most sought-after cruise destinations for its richness of culture and history, beautiful oceans and landscapes, and saturated, vibrant colours. Who wouldn't want to live with a bit of that?

To enter, choose one of Cunard's Mediterranean destinations  - it could be Athens, Lisbon, Monte Carlo, Naples, there are dozens! - and then use its inspiration to create a mood board on Pinterest showing how you would bring Mediterranean style into your home, and blog about it. Then be sure to let us know you blogged by commenting  on this blog post or this one with a link to your post. Check out the competition here

The competition closes 20th June at 11:59 pm. 

In addition to first prize of £1000 in John Lewis vouchers, up for grabs is £500 in vouchers for second place, and third place gets £250 worth!

I've done a little daydreaming myself and created a board to get things going:

Follow The Swelle Life's board Cunard Mediterranean Blogger Competition on Pinterest.

Myself and Jen at lovechicliving will be judging all of the entries at both blogs, together.

We look forward to seeing your original, beautiful and inspirational mood boards and blog posts. Have fun interpreting the Mediterranean with your unique sense of style - it might you win £1000 to make it a reality!

You can read the full Terms and Conditions on the wearecunard here

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