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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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LANVIN-TOM FORD JAPANESE HORROR-INSPIRED FASH FILM

Here's a little horror-inspired fashion viewing for your Monday morning! Directed by Trevor Undi and styled by Takafumi Kawasaki, the film follows model Jun 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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MISS KIKI SALON CHANNELS ASIA WITH INUI

Miss Kiki Salon is a collective that creates wearable art inspired by the beauty the find in their every day lives. Their latest designs form the Inui capsule collection READ MORE...
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May 20, 2014

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

Small-flat-storageSmall-flat-storageSmall-flat-storage

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.

Small-flat-storage
Get that TV out of the way

Small-flat-storage
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.

Tv-Bracket
 

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!

Under-Floor-storage

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

Homebase-After-bathroom_full (1 of 1)

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!

Homebase-After-bathroom_2 (1 of 1)

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.

Homebase-After-bathroom-mat-toilet-roll

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_1

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!  

Scale-infinite_3

May 10, 2014

Usway Burn at Sunset wins The Sill Photography Competition

Sill-Martin Ellis-first place with Usway BurnGateshead's Martin Ellis placed first with his Northumberland landscape, Usway Burn

Well, I am constantly telling southerners just how breathtaking Northumberland really is, and now I can simply point them to the entries in this competition as these pictures certainly say more about the northern county's stunning natural beauty than I ever could.

The winners of a popular photography competition launched in a joint initiative between The Sill (a partnership between Northumberland National Park Authority and YHA (England and Wales) and award-winning wildlife photographer and film maker Cain Scrimgeour, have been announced.

Nearly one hundred entries were submitted to the competition with the overall winner announced as Martin Ellis with his entry, Usway Burn. The Gateshead photographer will now be able to pick up tips from Cain with his prize of a one-to-one photography workshop with the competition's founder. 

Martin, 52, said: “I am really pleased that my photograph has been picked as the winner out of all the many wonderful images submitted. I do love this part of Northumberland, it never fails to put a smile on my face even when it's raining or blowing a gale, as it so often does.

A range of images were submitted featuring everything from the lush landscapes in Kielder to a roe deer in a frost-covered field, leaving the panel of eight judges with the challenge of picking their top three entries.

The runners up were Philip Whittaker and Anita Nicholson. To view a selection of entries to the competition and the winning images, visit the Sill's website

Sill-Philip Whittaker - runner up with Mysterious Tree at Black CartsRunner up Philip Whittaker with Mysterious Tree at Black Carts

In a bid to encourage people to explore the stunning Northumberland countryside all year round, the beauty of the National Park and its surrounding areas were captured in a series of emotive images at the hands of aspiring photographers from across the region. The competition is closely tied to the aims of The Sill, Northumberland’s planned £11.2m National Landscape Discovery Centre, which hopes to become a centre for exploration and discovery for the whole of Northumberland National Park and landscapes beyond.

Established photographer Cain, 23, from Whitley Bay, called on people to venture out into the breath-taking Northumberland scenery, from the stunning Cheviots, North Pennines and Northumberland Coast, to the rugged landscape of Hadrian’s Wall country, to capture pictures that really encapsulate the beauty of the winter months.“The winning photographers have really taken on board the essence of the competition brief and have immersed themselves in the rare beauty that Northumberland has to offer.

Sill-Anita Nicholson - runner up with Little Tree on Hadrian’s WallRunner up Anita Nicholson's Little Tree on Hadrian's Wall

Now, photographers are being asked to submit their spring-inspired images for the next phase of the competition, which is open to all ages and experience levels. Photographs are welcomed to capture the essence of Northumberland National Park and other special Northumbrian landscapes in relation to one of three themes; environments (including lakes and rivers, crags, hills, iron age hillforts and traditional buildings etc), flora and fauna (all forms of wildlife from cattle to forests) and activities (including everything from people working on the land, children’s bike rides to rock climbing and astrology).

The best entries will be uploaded to The Sill’s social media profiles so anyone interested in seeing contributions from budding photographers of the North East should search ‘The Sill’ on Facebook and follow the project on Twitter @thesillproject.

For more information about The Sill and the upcoming events, visit www.thesill.org.uk , find The Sill on Facebook or follow The Sill on Twitter @thesillproject

April 28, 2014

Family-friendly ways to personalise your space

Custom-wall-artI admit that in the past, as a single girl living on her own, I may have once or twice browsed an aisle for 'art' in that huge homewares store where you can eat some meatballs. There's nothing wrong with that, but when one friend after another comes to your house for the first time, points at your wall and exclaims, 'I've got that, too!' you might want to consider something a little different. You can have personal photographs englarged using an online service for a decor that's more unique and personal. 

Custom prints are another idea, and they're especially great for kids' bedrooms. Encourage them to create some original artwork for their walls - the prospect will probably be exciting for them. For younger children, you can scan in their drawings to your computer, resize them down and arrange multiple designs on one large poster. It’s a great way to showcase lots of their work in one place, without all the dog-eared edges and blue-tack marks on the walls. Older children might want to make their designs straight on the computer. There are plenty of apps available for budding artists and these designs can be uploaded straight into online templates.

Are your children bored of their colouring books? Spoonful have some great free printables available for you to create your own. When you’ve exhausted their range, why not get creative and design your own templates for them to colour in? You can have the the finished designs printed and once they’re coloured in, you could frame them for bedroom artwork. You can also consider printing your child's designs on stickers to personalise school notebooks and pencil cases, and they also make great party favours. 

Pinterest is a fun way to find inspiration for child-friendly crafts. Check out boards like this and start creating your own boards. Homemade occasion cards are a popular craft for children; however, if you have them printed you can get a more professional finish and preserve your child's art, and this also allows you to produce a quantity to give to all your family and friends. 

If you're considering having a go at creating your own artwork for your home, Instantprint are offering a 15% discount when you use the code: HELLO-H749P’. Instantprint is an online printing company offering low cost printing solutions for both businesses and home users. 

April 25, 2014

My Bathroom Makeover: The 'Before'

Alas, the time has come to deal with our bathroom. Our small, yet adequate, space is a room that fell into the 'liveable for now, needs a total reno later' category when we moved into our house four-and-a-half years ago. The entire suite was brand new, but it was done on the cheap, and boy are there some major issues lurking behind the minor ones. The top half of the biggest wall actually fell off and crumbled to the floor when it was being painted (I don't even  know where to begin with that) and the glass partition on the shower/bath doesn't really seal properly so sometimes it rains in the kitchen (I seem to be the only one who makes that happen but I have a good excuse - I clean the shower when I'm in it so at least there's good reason the glass gets shifted around a bit). One of the minor but no less grating issues is that sink tap, or should I say taps - I know I've whinged about this before, but why are they still making dual faucet sinks?! Mixer taps are so inexpensive these days, so I'm convinced the reason they are not being used exclusively is because there are people out there who love to alternate between freezing and scalding their hands and face every day! 

Before-bathroom_2 (1 of 1)

So, a total renovation will happen hopefully later this year. But for now we can do something that makes the wait a bit nicer, and that's a makeover. A superficial treatment can go a long way to making a space feel fresher and take the focus off the bigger concerns, and it doesn't need to be expensive. Sometimes it's a matter of removing, as well as replacing and adding. In my case, I'm shifting from a slightly fussy approach to decor to a more minimalist one, and I don't think I'll ever go back. And that doesn't mean stark; it's more about paring back the unnecessary things and making choices that deliver impact. 

Before I get to the 'styling', one of the most effective ways to freshen up a space is a new coat of paint, so that's where we started. I didn't opt for a dramatic change, going from an ocean blue to a paler blue from Homebase, called Sky. It's a barely there blue at first, but once it's on all of the walls it gives a light and airy feel with enough saturation to keep my lust for blues satiated. And it's a great neutral, it will work with any other colour. I've chosen to play up the lightness of the blue and go with white and chrome accessories. This works especially well for opening up a small space, and I think a refined, uncluttered decor is ideal this is where we start our day. 

Watch for the big reveal!

April 16, 2014

My Bathroom Reno: Ideas for Glass Showers

Bathroom-with-sliding-glass-shower-doorsI love the idea of a feature wall in the bathroom, providing a striking backdrop to your glass shower. The dark grey adds depth, though I'm trying to figure out if going dark will have the opposite effect in a shallow space like our L-shaped bathroom. 

I've just completed a bathroom makeover (see the before post here) to make it a bit nicer to live with until we do a complete renovation later this year. But it's never too early to start doing your research on the fixtures, especially when it's your one and only bathroom, as is the case with ours. I'm focussing on showers first. At the moment we have a tub/shower and as I've previously alluded to, it's awful! The glass partition doesn't seal too well and the case of the tub has a groove that's open and traps water which turns rusty. Albeit done on the cheap, the bathroom was brand new when we moved in, so we thought we'd get some use out of it first. I think we've done our time with all of it. 

We've decided to get rid of the tub altogether in favour of a shower only and I'm pretty sure there will be no regrets. I've found there is a whole world of shower options available after starting my research at bathroomdeal.co.uk, right down to types of hinges or whether you want a flipper panel (it's always the little details I labour over). However, our space is small - though luckily not super tiny or awkward - and the size and layout of the bathroom tends to dictate the options that are realistic. Ours is an L-shape and so a rectangular walk-in (above) would suit the space best, though I do love the streamlined look of a wet room (below) which is essentially a shower without a tray; I'm just not sure our space is big enough to keep some errant kick-splashes from making it feel like a public swimming pool changeroom (ew). However, one great benefit of the wet room is that you can build your own, choosing the panel configuration you want, and then where you install them is up to you. 

I like the flow of this wet room shower where an end panel creates an entrance that is separate from the main shower area:

Cabriolet_walkin-shower

So, the type of shower is the first decision. Then there's the showerhead, tiles, storage, shower valves...it's a good thing I've started early, there's still the rest of the bathroom to consider!

Care for your Artwork with LED Lights

Rijksmuseum

Whether you are a serious collector - don't we wish! - or just a fan of pretty paintings, your beloved works of art could benefit from being lit by LED lighting. You'd be following the lead of many of the world’s most famous museums who have chosen to replace their lighting with LED technology for the benefit of their precious canvases.

Hanging a work of art on the wall of your home tends to mark the beginning of a long-term plan. Your art may appreciate in value over time and more personally, makes it feel like a home. So it would be something of a loss if a painting suffered damage over the years.

Energy inefficient lighting options such as halogen bulbs can have significant negative effects upon paint and canvases due to the heat they emit. Because only a small percentage of the energy used by halogen bulbs is actually turned into light, excessive energy is turned into heat and carbon emission. This heat over time can cause significant damage to the fibres, particularly when the light is shone directly on the painting. 

Swapping halogen bulbs for LED alternatives can help alleviate these problems. LED bulbs are designed to be energy efficient so they do not cost as much to light and do not cause as much damage to the environment. This also brings with it a number of useful beneftis such as a reduction of heat emitted from the surface of the bulb. This cooler light means that you can light your masterpiece without the fear that the heat may be eating away at the details.

Astute Lighting Ltd Director, Mr Adam, explains: “The LED bulb is intelligently designed to ensure that all of the energy used is turned to high-quality, clear light.”

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands, home to more than 1 million art and historical items including works by masters such as Rembrandt, Vermeer and Steen, recently converted to LED lighting. This was partially due to the reduced risk of damage but also for the aesthetic benefits. Head of Exhibitions, Tim Zeedijk, explains: "We chose LED lighting as it allows the art to be viewed in the best light possible, bringing out all the colours and details that the artist intended us to see."

The project allowed the museum to use new technologies to pay perfect tribute to the old masters, and you can do the same with your own pieces of art.

March 26, 2014

DIY a Fab New Chair at Ministry of Upholstery

Ministry-of-Upholstery-Workshop

I have spent more than a few moments giving the side-eye to an armchair we have. It has good bones but there's a part on one of the arms where the fabric is kind of slouchy and it bothers me to no end. Apparently staring at it with a menacing glare doesn't fix it, so it needs to be reupholstered. If I lived closer to Manchester I'd be loading up that chair and heading over to the Ministry of Upholstery to get it back into shape. Yes, there is actually a place where you can learn to do your own upholstery, in fact it's dedicated to teaching even complete novices how to make a perfect piece of furniture. If you live in or near the area and you're interested in seeing what it's all about, they're having an open day on Sunday 6th April 11.00-3.00 at Ministry of Upholstery, 122 Water Street, Manchester, M4 2JJ.

It’s free to attend and they will be offering the opportunity to meet the team, find out about their courses, check out their facilities, watch demonstrations of various upholstery and furniture renovation techniques, and you can talk to and watch existing students at work. 

Ministry of Upholstery is led by upholsterer Anthony Devine. Anthony has been passionate about interiors since an early age and has worked in the furniture and upholstery industry for the past seventeen years. Beginning his career as an apprentice, he then went on to produce and install hand-made furniture for Rocco Forte, The QE2, Forte Hotels, Harvey Nichols and Crowne Plaza Hotels. Anthony’s passion and experience has been the catalyst for opening up his workshop to those looking to gain practical, hands-on experience while learning about the craftsmanship of upholstery in a workshop environment.

What a cool skill to have, don't you think?  

March 25, 2014

My Kitchen Remodel: First Look at Floors

Pennine_orangerie
This orangerie is very similar to what we're doing, including the open entrance from the kitchen. You can see how installing the same flooring throughout creates a flow from one room to the other. This is helpful in maximising how open your space feels and is especially effective in smaller homes.

I've written quite a bit about different types of flooring, but this time I'm looking at a particular type for our kitchen. And the rest of our house. I think. The extension we're about to begin building, which will be an orangerie (like you see above), will be off the kitchen, so we'd like to start there and continue the flooring all the way through to the upstairs, if that makes sense once we think about it a bit further. (Always give major decisions time so you're sure of your direction, it will save a few heart palpitations during the installation.) So the flooring is going to be another significant investment, and therefore we have to make the right choice. At the moment, we have a real mish-mash of things under our feet. Charcoal grey ceramic tile takes you from the front entrance and hall into the kitchen, and off the hall is a living room with maple hardwood. Up the stairs and into the bedrooms is the horrible grey carpet I've previously alluded to that was put in by the sellers, and although brand new when we moved in,  is so thin that it looked a decade old after a week, and I'm not exaggerating. (Never mind the sloppy staples that stick out and assault unsuspecting heels!) We would have replaced the carpet if time and money weren't lacking when we took possession, though we did manage to get the maple into the living room which made a huge difference. 

So, I've mentioned we're looking at a particular type of flooring. Judging by how many dings the maple has accumulated in just a few years (mostly from me dropping the remote, I have to admit), and considering the cost of solid wood for an entire house which winds up being way out of our budget, we're looking at laminate. There are some very high quality options that sound and feel similar to hardwood, and look it as well. I've read quite a bit about what owners of laminate floors have to say, and although there is a great divide over whether it's suitable for bathrooms (we'll probably stick with tile), it seems sound for kitchens. If it's sealed properly, any spills shouldn't be a problem as they sit on top of the sealant. Hardwood can be repaired more easily than laminate, but let's face it - we would never get around to that unless we dropped a bowling ball on it or something. (We don't have one of those so it will be fine!) 

Now for choosing the colour. This part is tough because it sets the tone for your home and creates an immediate impression as soon as you walk through the door, and there are so many great looks. For years I've dreamed about having a house full of white plank. There are some gorgeous white laminate flooring options that look and feel like the real thing, and the effect is so light and airy and lends well to living by the sea. Ours is not a typical 'beach house' by any means, but maybe it could feel like a bit like one? 

Modern-Rustic_kitchenWhite gloss flooring lightens the look of this rustic kitchen and keeps the visual focus on the stone walls and exposed beam ceiling

If not the look of white plank, there are all kinds of other ways to go in terms of colour, texture of the grain, wide or narrow, or some other kind of floor altogether, though for our house I'm pretty sold on the look of wood. Dark woods are gorgeous, but in a climate that taunts us with what seems to be an eternal gloom at times, I think light will win out, whether it be white, blonde or maybe even contrasting tones.

The thing to remember when choosing flooring for your home, is that although it can go a long way to setting a stylistic tone in a space, it doesn't have to dictate what you do with the rest of the room. This is good news. A rustic decor, for example, doesn't need a matching floor, and in fact can be far more gorgeous when offset by minimalist foundations. And it works both ways; a floor in rich tones with a natural grain will do wonders for warming up a more austere decor and make it feel more welcoming.  This approach helps you create your own distinct style which can also make it more fluid in terms of changing things up every so often; you're not tied into a full-on look that you might grow tired of before you feel you've gotten your money's worth. 

Blond-wood-to-white

As a side note, for comparison on the issue of whether to have continuous flooring throughout adjacent spaces, I found a home which appears to have a pine living room leading into a kitchen of white plank (above). While the width of the pine plank works visually with the slightly narrower white boards, and the soft tones are complementary, it still feels a bit abrupt, as if it disrupts an otherwise harmonious space. But it's personal preference, isn't it? And of course this approach may make perfect sense in the context of the rest of the house which we can't see.

For our new space and kitchen, I don't think this kind of visual separation is how I want to go. But it does require more consideration; who knows what options will present themselves once we really get into the kitchen planning! Watch this space....

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