Multifuel Stoves (or wood burners)

Last January in the post-Christmas sales, after much research,  we purchased a lovely wood burning stove for our living room. It seemed slightly crazy to make a post about a fireplace in the heat of summer when we finally had it installed, but now as the nights draw in and get cooler it now seems more appropriate… so here we go…

We ended up going for a Danish made Heta Inspire 40 stove from Fireplace Products. It is certainly not the cheapest stove on the market but we figured it would sit there for our lifetime in the house, and we’d be looking at it all year round as the chimney  breast is a focal point of the room, even if the stove will only actually be used in autumn and winter.  In the end we are super pleased with both the appearance, and the quality so would highly recommend!  (Installed photos in due course!)

There are lots of things to take into account when choosing a stove, but the reasons we opted for this particular one included:

  • First and foremost, as we are in London, the stove needed to be DEFRA approved (DEFRA approved stoves are cleared to burn specified fuels in smoke control areas, that are usually disallowed, such as wood).
  • We wanted a good efficient stove with adequate heat output to heat the room. As our chimney niche is quite small this limited the size of the fire, and so this is why this was important for us. (This stove is 80% efficient, with 6 KW of heat output, which is suitable for our roughly 3.5 m x 7m x 2.7m high room)
  • There were only a limited number of stoves that were narrow and shallow enough to fit properly as we didn’t want it projecting into the room too much (there are guidelines about how far away the sides of the stove can be from the chimney sides, even if they are non-combustible, so check this with the specific stove you are going for as it can vary).
  • We wanted a stove with a large window proportionally so we could see the flames
  • And last but certainly not least, we wanted one that was simple and cleaned lined without lots of fussy  brass or steel details.

You should check the regulations where you are before installing a wood burner stove, but a few more things that we had to take account of were:

  • You need to get your chimney swept prior to installation – save the receipt for your home insurance purposes!
  • In the UK, the building regulations have recently changed such that even if your brick chimney is clear and sound, you still need to have it lined. Apparently this helps with air flow anyway, but unfortunately adds a chunk to the cost. Blue Mantle Fireplaces lined our flue and undertook the installation and did a great job.
  • Depending on the installer and how your roof and chimney are configured, they may require the installation of a scaffold for Health & Safety reasons. (We were lucky and didn’t need it, but this can also add to the cost.)
  • You may need an air vent in the room if your output is high enough (for our stove we didn’t require additional ventilation)
  • The hearth will need to be of non-combustible material
  • DON’T FORGET YOUR SMOKE & CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTOR!  We recently installed another wired in Nest combined CO and smoke detector to the room when we had the master bedroom electrics re-wired as the living room was directly below so it was easy to do at this time.

Lots of further helpful regulations and guidelines can be found here.






Building Tour – Carlos Scarpa’s Castlevecchio

As part of my Monday travel photo series, I thought I’d include a few building tours. So for this week’s Monday diversion from my small scale refurbishments, here are some photos of Carlos Scarpa’s renovation to Castlevecchio in Verona.

His principle of contrasting new interventions with existing old walls was revolutionary at the time, and is what many contemporary architects working with historic buildings still use today (this one included!).  I love how his modern geometric insertions pass lightly over the existing building fabric without interruption and how every detail has been carefully designed and considered.


Sanded, Lye treated, and oiled Victorian Floorboards

As a slight change from my usual Monday destination photos (namely because I haven’t sorted any more of them out yet…), here is a snap shot of our beautifully sanded, lyed and oiled floors!

We need to undertake the first soap coat ourselves to increase the whiteness intensity a bit. So,  to that end, we have just ordered a litre of this Woca Natural Soap as recommended by the guy who did the job.  The soap does of course clean the floors too – it isn’t just for whitening (they offer a transparent version too if you don’t want the subtle whitening effect). Apparently over time the soap also slowly builds up an additional protective layer on the floors.

We have been told the soap is very easy to apply with a standard rope mop, and we should apply it roughly once a season depending on how white we want the floors (the whiteness slowly builds up over time).   We’ll see how that goes!

We also need to touch up the paintwork on the skirting as the sanding and lying of the floors damaged them a little bit. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to moving our furniture back in and re-instating some order to our house.




Bedroom Rug Sizes

Now that our floor sanding and finishing is underway, it is time for me to get back into the world of soft furnishings (where I am still slightly out of my depth!) and sort out the rug situation for our master bedroom.

I’ve been reading a bit about sizing, and found this article from Apartment Therapy helpful. In addition to giving some guidance on bedroom rugs, (it also offers suggestions for living rooms and dining areas – just FYI!).

In terms of the bedroom rug options suggested in the article, the economical option would be to get two bedside rugs on either side of the bed as shown in the image on the bottom left of the bobble rug from Loaf. This would have the added advantage of leaving most of our lovely new floors visible.

(Minimum rug size required for a UK King sized bed of 150cm W x 200cm L with this option  is 90cm wide x 150cm long to leave space for bedside tables to sit off the rug – ie. 3’x5′)

The more luxurious, perhaps less ‘bitty’ version would be to get a rug which extends enough on either side of the bed for us to step onto when getting out of bed, but which is also wide enough to extend past the end of our bed and our lovely new end of bed bench/drawer unit like the top left image from Molly’s beautiful blog Almost Makes Perfect., or the image in the middle from this article about how to style the end of your bed from Elle Decor. With this second option, although it appears to make the room seem largest, it conversely seems a shame to pay for a rug (and rugs are expensive!) which is mostly hidden beneath the bed!

(Minimum rug size required for a UK King sized bed with this option – 300cm long x 360cm wide – ie. 9’x12′ )

Another alternative option is a rug which just sits at the end of the bed as shown on the left in the beautiful bedroom shown in Sarah’s blog Stories. Maybe stepping onto a wood floor in winter isn’t so bad… especially if there is a nice pair of slippers immediately to hand!

(Minimum rug size required for a UK King sized bed with this option – Roughly 180cm long x 240 cm wide, depending on how much you want on the side of and under the bed, the two images show two different configurations  – ie. 6’x8′ which would be more like the red Persian carpet image)




Tomato Harvest 2017

As a break from our internal refurbishments, here are two photos of our sun ripened, home grown, hand picked Camberwell tomatoes.  (…Just trying to use as many of the cliche restaurant food adjectives as possible for a laugh!)

This weekend we got to reap the rewards of Alex’s hard work in the vegetable garden and enjoyed our first official tomato harvest of 2017.  We’ve had a few tomatoes ripen here already, but this is the first good bowlful, which I turned into a delicious Tomato and Rocket tart. (Recipe from the Sunday Times here).  There are still more tomatoes to ripen on the vine for a mid September harvest… So well done Alex – I think we may have done better than in 2016!


Building Tour – Carlos Scarpa’s Banca Popolare di Verona

Built in 1973, this bank building by Carlos Scarpa still looks fresh and contemporary today.  The structurally glazed corner windows and stepped interlocking motifs which became Scarpa’s signature details, give the building timeless appeal.

I particularly love the etched semi-circle in the stone panelling beside the entrance doors, which I hadn’t noticed or appreciated when I first visited the building back in 1999 after graduating from University.


Floor Sanding Progress

Here are a few photos of our newly sanded floors, plus one detailed photo to show you the remarkable before and after difference at the threshold to the guest room. (We couldn’t do the guest room at this time as there would have been no where to sleep or store our things – its bad enough that our living room is full!)  In the photo of the hallway you can just about see the damaged board that they replaced, but that will bed in over time. This week while we were at work in the day they completed the sanding in the master bedroom, the staircase, the hallway, and the study (including all the fiddly bits around the balustrade and stair nosings).

We are really pleased with the result and transformation so far and are excited to see the end result once they are lyed (white washed), and then oiled. The flooring contractor is doing a really careful and methodical job, and amazingly I can report that there is not a spot of dust in the house after he leaves at the end of every day.  The sanding machines they use must have good collection bags on them, and they also do a good hoover of the house.

Sometimes it really is worth paying to have the job done by professionals!