Deborah Bowness
New Ribbon
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Fur. The mere mention of the word makes many cringe. In western urban culture, it's a contentious topic that divides us into two groups: those who deem fur fashion READ MORE...
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Earlier this week, I was in the comments section of a blog I frequent, and someone had posted a photo of a shirtless, young guy with red hair sticking his tongue out cheekily READ MORE...
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The Sculptured House, also known as the Sleeper House since 1973 when it featured in Woody Allen's sci-fi comedy, Sleeper, is so cool it's painful. An elliptical curiosity in concrete and glass perched on Colorado's READ MORE...
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The BAFTA qualifying Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) has teamed up with London College of Fashion to establish a new fashion film strand at this year’s event, showcasing READ MORE...
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Knitwear designers studying in Italy are invited to enter the Knitting for Juliet competition launched by Fashion Ground Academy of Italian Design READ MORE...
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It was not possible to walk past Nicholas Rose's luminous, contoured lamp shades at 100% Design the other week, I felt like a moth drawn to a flame. READ MORE...
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The film series, #UnlockArt, produced by Tate and supported by Le Meridien, concluded with the release of the last of eight films, What's So Funny?, decided by an online poll READ MORE...
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July 09, 2014

Finding the right shower for your home


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.


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!


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

June 03, 2014

Stockholm: Gamla Stan, The Old Town

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I've just returned from my second trip to one my favourite cities, Sweden's capital, Stockholm, where our luck with the weather was, again, so fortuitous that I should probably be buying lottery tickets. Both times it was unseasonably warm -  hot even! - by a good 10 degrees. One day I couldn't find my sunglasses and didn't have a hat, and I started to get sunstroke when I had to queue in the sun for about 30 minutes. But I wasn't going to complain about glorious weather. (Yes, I'm sensitive.) 

Even when the sun isn't present, Stockholm is a city of yellow. It's especially prominent in the structures of Gamla Stad, the 'old town', along with saturated shades of orange. The painted buildings far outnumber the naked concrete ones. But elsewhere you're only ever around the corner from a burst of sunshine.  

So let's take a little tour through the streets of Gamla Stan, to be followed for the next several days by scenes taken from the water - the architecture is varied and just so cool and colourful, and we spied many sunbathers on rocks  - and other places around Stockholm, including Marimekko who are celebrating the 50th anniversary of their iconic flower print, Unikko. (They're a Finnish heritage brand but they certainly fit well with the joyful aesthetic of Sweden.)

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Um, 7-11 is way better looking than I remember it back in Canada...even inside it's styled like an internet cafe - are we still saying that? Is there a cooler name now? The branding of American institutions in Stockholm, such as McDonald's (there are not many others visible in the city), assumes a higher level of sophistication when communicating to its demographic. In that it doesn't seem to be parsing out a specific segment of the population to talk down to. I might be jumping to conclusions here, but you can see the tax dollars (or krona in this case) put to good use. People are well taken care of in terms of social programs, the streets are clean, there's a commitment to green spaces and work/life balance, gender equality is a reality and not a lofty notion, and you have to go out of your way to find food that's not good for you. And although it's a very expensive city, the salaries are commensurate with the cost of living. So it's just us tourists that feel the crunch! But it's worth it. It's a city of people who actually look happy. And healthy. I've mentioned their peachy glow before which I admit I am in awe of. Peachy glow! People here in the UK pay for that and then wind up looking orange. (Hint: it comes from within. You can't buy it.) 

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Pippi Longstocking was the trendsetter for this look: 

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Even a sophisticated city like Stockholm has its cheesy tourist shops, though they're thoughtfully condensed to one street. This t-shirt that survived the 70s was only trumped by the 'Rasta Baby' - a stoned baby in a pot leaf-emblemed hat smoking a joint. I'm not showing that, I don't want it on my blog! I didn't want it on my brain, either. 

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Walking out of Gamla Stan toward the water will take you through the Parliament buildings and the palace:

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Notice the Brutalist addition to the top of this wing of Parliament building (above). 

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The parliament building is quite a grand presence (above), while the palace across the water is less ornate, at least from this viewpoint. Love the yellow guard station though:

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We got to see the changing of the guard which was different from what you'd see at Buckingham palace in that the guards included women and they were all quite young. Two from the procession stepped up and peformed the ritual with the on-duty guard that involved a lot of (seemingly) angry shouting. Whatever they were saying, they meant it! When the new guard was in place we noticed that her bayonette was mighty sharp. I think I saw daggers as well. You don't really see bayonettes much these days, do you?

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The lion with its mighty paw on the globe symbolised the Swedish empire's reign as a great European power in the 17th and early 18th centuries. (And they didn't miss a detail in carving out that lion's undercarriage.) 

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This was an unusual sight - a classic American muscle car, in purple no less, cruising through Gamla Stan. It's kind of hard to see, but in proper muscle car style, the driver is watching the girls watch him. He likes what they see. 

More to the meantime you can see photos from my previous trip to Stockholm here (just scroll down a bit as this is the Scandinavia category and includes everything). 

May 21, 2014

Clerkenwell Design Week: Bark Goes LoMo


Bark became an instant favourite when I saw their Acorn range of furniture at last year's 100% Design show, and now I'm looking forward to seeing their latest spin on modern classics at Clerkenwell Design Week. (It began today but I'm only able to catch the last day on Thursday. Yes, it's a short 'week'.) 

The Cornwall based design duo, trained cabinet makers Jonathan Walter and Lakshmi who share a passion for modern design, are launching their new LoMo collection of seating and storage units, constructed from sycamore. I love that they've revived the two-seater; it's a stylish design from a by-gone era and an intimate arrangement that invites couples to sit close together. Upright, with good posture. How 1950s! Pass the heavy marble ashtray. 

Their version of the sideboard, the LoMo Storage System (below) combines organic cuves and pastel colours anchored in (I'm guessing) black walnut stands. They're very 'happy' pieces, aren't they? I'm a sideboard freak and I've never seen a design anything like the LoMo. As shown here, it falls somewhere between the low, wide sideboard and the tallboy, although the cabinets and bases are made to order in a range of sizes and configurations. 

Hopefully I"ll be able to navigate CDW with some efficiency and be able to see the LoMo collection in person. I'm already imagining the sideboard in our new orangery, and I'll take that little cabinet, too - isn't the dark grain running through the side gorgeous?


May 20, 2014

Making the Most of Your Space: Interior Solutions for the Small Apartment


If you're currently living in a small apartment then you have probably found things are a bit of a tight squeeze at times, especially if there is more than two of you residing there. 'Cosy' or 'easy to maintain' might be the way your estate agent described it to you, but let's face it, a lack of storage or generally not having enough space to live can be difficult. However there are things you can do to make the most of the room that you do have - it just takes a little bit of creative thinking.

Get that TV out of the way

If you have a flat screen TV, get it up on the wall and make use of the room that the media unit was taking up previously. If you're not particularly handy in terms of drilling holes or lining things up accurately, don't worry - there are plenty of companies around that can not only supply a TV bracket but install it as well.


Dekomount are one such example, and they have a huge range of TV wall brackets that cater for televisions of all sizes, right up to 90" sets.

Convert furniture into storage space

Storage is always an issue for the small flat owner/tenant - the secret is to find storage solutions in places that you wouldn't normally use. Convert the bottom of your sofa and chairs into drawers that you can keep all of those odds and ends in that are otherwise cluttering up the living room. Does your seating furniture have an open bottom? Invest in some space savers and make the most of the room!


Go Beneath the Floorboards

Why not take your quest to seek out storage space to the next (sub)level? Building storage space into your floorboards is an innovative way of working with what you've got, with flooring joists even providing natural dividers so you can categorise what you keep down there.

This might require a little bit of DIY ingenuity, but once it is completed you can free up a huge amount of space around the house. However, if you're not a ground floor flat it might be advisable to avoid sawing into your floor!

Implement the 'Magic Triangle' in your kitchen

If you're specifically short on space in the kitchen then the 'Magic Triangle' is a great way of making efficient use of the space. The aim of the Magic Triangle is to organise the space in such a way that preparing food is as easy as possible. It requires the sink, cooker and refrigerator to be within a couple of steps of each other which allows you to move between the three of them quickly. Just because your kitchen is small doesn't mean that it is efficient, but by arranging your three main appliances in such a way you can transform your small kitchen into a stylish and efficient space you're proud to call your own.

This guest blog was written by John Rooney in partnership with Dekomount, stockists of a wide range of high quality and durable TV wall brackets.

May 16, 2014

My Bathroom Makeover: The Reveal

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So this is it! After showing you the 'before' state of my bathroom, here's the reveal after a new coat of paint and accessories from Homebase, Home of Colour Paint. It's a very subtle change, but it has made a big difference to how I feel about the space, and my family likes it as well. This kind of makeover has proven to be a very cost-effective way to not only freshen up the look of our bathroom, but make it more efficient in how we use it. (And in the case of a new, concealed toilet brush in an elegant design, much neater and more dignified!)

Let's start with the walls. We painted over our saturated blue in a more 'airy' shade called Sky. Thanks to my preoccupation with finding the right colour in choosing the original paint, I forgot to check that it was formulated for bathrooms. It wasn't, so we had streaks all over the walls from condensation, and I did stress a bit whenever I took a shower, wondering how much worse it would be after. Now the colour stays put. As for the application, the paint covers well with two coats and has a nice matte finish which is what I wanted. At first I wasn't sure about going lighter, but the Sky makes the room look more refined and open, so I'm really pleased.  

Now for the decor. I mentioned that paring back can be as effective as adding or replacing objects, and with this makeover I did a bit of both. There was nothing wrong with the way the bathroom looked before, but four years on, my tastes have changed and I wanted a less fussy look and one that is more minimalist with neutral decor. A porcelain jug replaces the little tub with flowers (I love flowers but these tissue versions were looking a little tired), and our toothbrushes now rest in a clear tumbler instead of the blue ceramic one that had a chip in it. (And because the new tumbler is clear it forces you to clean it out on a daily basis which I don't mind doing - an opaque cup hides what's really going on in the bottom under your toothbrushes as water drips down and it's not pretty! This way is much more hygienic.) I've relocated the tall vase with paper flowers that sat in front of the handle to open the window and therefore had to be moved constantly, as well as the crystal dish of soaps which actually makes a pretty ice cream dish. (Yes, it has gone for a long run through the dishwasher.) Now a scented candle in black glass sits alone on the sill and leaves the shelf free (for us to leave our toiletries all spread out there but that's more about our tallboy being full than being messy. The next phase is clearing that thing out and being brutal about it!).  Also gone is the soap dish on the basin - you have to wash the soap residue off the soap constantly which is weird - and now we're using soap and lotion in pump dispensers which I admit I used to just put out when we had guests, but I guess we're good enough, too!

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Another change that has made a difference is the toilet roll holder. I didn't even show the old one in the photos because I couldn't bear it; it was from my shabby chic phase which I could not be more 'over'. You had to screw off one end of the holder to replace the roll and I actually paid my daughter 10p to do it! Actually I didn't mind but there was a member of the family who just couldn't get his head around it. Fair enough, it was a fuss. Now we have a much more efficient one in a contemporary design where the roll just slips on and off, and it holds three rolls which helps our storage issues immensely and means there are no surprises - you always know your supply. (And is it just me or is there something very comforting about always knowing you've got spares?) As for the toilet brush holder, I pulled that out to show you but it sits discreetly beside the toilet, though it looks good enough to be on display. Our old one was a blue ceramic 'bowl' that held the brush, and you really don't want to see any part of that brush, do you? This refined design reveals no secrets, and that's how it should be.

As for the bin, we used to have a style similar to our new pedal style, but it was all metal and it rusted which made it look dirty when it wasn't. So I switched to a 'bag' version that I liked the look of, but you really don't want your rubbish on display, and our puppy was constantly getting into it and indulging her appetite for toilet paper. This new pedal bin only has a bit of metal and conceals our rubbish, and it has put an end to finding a paper trail out to the hallway every day.


Finally, every space needs some texture and a bit of softness for balance, so I chose a bobbly white bath mat that not only functions well after a shower - it's high quality and very absorbent - but it looks great in the bathroom as well.

Overall, this little makeover project cost less than £100 and didn't take a lot of time to complete. It's a matter of knowing exactly what you want before you begin, focussing on the function of the essentials and what will make your space work best for you, and how you can improve the look and feel and be happier when you use it. Before I began, I couldn't wait another day to demolish it all and get going on the renovation. But now I'm happy to wait for the right time and am already enjoying it a lot more. It's incredible what a difference a few little changes can make to the quality of your daily life!

May 14, 2014

'Endless Stair' an innovation in modular timber design

Endless-Stair-11Endless Stair offered a unique viewpoint at Tate Modern

'Endless Stair' may look like a path to nowhere, but this structure of Escher-like interlocking staircases is taking modular timber construction to new heights. Made from American tulipwood cross-laminated timber (CLT), the design was reconfigured to feature at Interni Magazine’s ‘Feeding New Ideas for the City’ exhibition at the Università degli Studi in Milan.

Designed by de Rijke Marsh Morgan Architects (dRMM), engineered by Arup, and built by Imola Legno and Nüssli, Endless Stair offers the potential for reconfiguration and adaptation to different contexts. The Ca’ Granda building, one of main venues in the FuoriSalone event, was the most recent setting for Scale Infinite – the latest iteration in the life of Endless Stair. Originally designed for and facilitated in partnership with the London Design Festival, Endless Stair became their Landmark Project for 2013 and was installed in front of one of the UK's most popular cultural destinations, Tate Modern, during last September's Festival. (Nope, didn't see it while I was at the festival. I cringe at what I miss as much as delight in what I've seen.)

Scale-infinite_2Endless Stair became Scale Infinite (say that with an Italian accent) when reconfigured for the courtyard of the Ca’ Granda for the Milan design week  last month

Maintaining the initial influence of Escher, Scale Infinite is a further play on perspective. Six interlocking flights of steps have been joined together to create a visually arresting form offering a compositional contrast to the classical uniformity of the surrounding Renaissance building. dRMM again give importance to the element of ‘play’ within the structure, harnessing the possibilities of user interactivity through the integration of different levels, joints, and possible pathways. This game of perspective also gave users the chance to experience the elegant courtyard of the Ca’ Granda from a unique viewpoint. Scale Infinite served as a deliberate contrast in material, scale and composition to its harmonious new backdrop in Milan. It is an aesthetic provocation, adding a new dimension to the context in which it stands. 


Scale Infinite is not just an exciting wood sculpture, it is also part of a unique research project that is advancing the knowledge of timber construction and sustainability. This project is the first ever use of hardwood for cross-laminated timber (CLT), which is usually made from softwood. American tulipwood (Liriodendron tulipifera), whose name is derived from its distinctive tulip- shaped flowers, is an abundant and relatively inexpensive American hardwood. Crucially for this project, it is incredibly strong and stiff for its weight. Testing carried out in Italy last year during the production of the original Endless Stair structure, has shown that tulipwood is up to three times stronger in rolling shear than typical construction softwood, such as spruce.  

Working from first principles, through testing, research and analysis to design this prototype, the project team envisage Endless Stair will bring many lasting benefits. The ultimate aspiration is that this cross-laminated hardwood is eventually brought into mainstream building construction. Time will tell!  



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