Voile & Net Curtain Measuring Up

After a bit of internet searching I found a few companies that sell custom sized sheer and voile curtains: Net Curtains Direct, and Sheer Designs and have ordered a few fabric samples prior to ordering the actual drapes.

While waiting for those to arrive, I went and ordered the Kvadrat Ready Made curtain ‘rod’ in white with oak end brackets, which you will remember from my post here.   Next up in my curtain learning exercise – figuring out where to mount the rod (so I can calculate out how long and how wide the curtains need to be)

I had originally thought I’d mount the rod just above the top of the window architrave, directly beside the frame on the existing wood pattresses from the original curtain rods (image on the left). But then I thought that maybe the windows would look taller and wider if I mounted the rod on the ceiling, and a little further from the edge of the window frame.

To test out my theory, I did a quick photo-shop mock up. Sure enough the ceiling, wider spaced mounting looks a lot better!  (Excuse the lurid red curtains – I used red so they’d be easy to see in front of the roman blinds!)

In addition to a gut instinct about where to hang the curtains, I of course did a bit of internet research into the matter to see what the professionals suggest. (I don’t tend to deal with curtains in my day to day job much so this is all quite a learning curve for me!)

Net Curtains Direct’s website offers really handy tips on how to measure up the size for your sheer, net or voile curtains, and therefore indirectly where to position the curtain rod.  Their guide helpfully suggests that in order for the curtains to stack neatly beside the window (rather than blocking the glass) you should allow 15cm on either side of the glazing for ‘stack back’.   They also recommend that for wispy sheer curtains, you allow 2.5x the window width for the fabric for sufficient gather. The website also has some really helpful images of what the different gathers look like if you want to go up to 3x or down to 1.5x.


Stair Re-build Progress

Here is an in progress shot of our staircase re-build.  I’m really please with how closely he has matched the existing tread and riser profile so far. The joints are carefully mitred, and everything is really neat.

Its amazing how much extra head room we have under the staircase too now that the stair has been moved forward one tread, and more simply constructed. All of the additional supports that were added to hold up the cracked risers have been removed, and its 190mm taller. Eventually when we do the side extension, this area will be turned into a WC, but for now it holds all of our paint, DIY tools and hoover!

The builder has in fact now installed the uprights and handrail, but the unfortunately spacing wasn’t right so I am waiting for him to come back to sort that out before the final photo shoot. I also need to arrange for a plasterer to come in and sort out the edge where the new stringer was installed (you can see the gap in the background).




Staircase Re-build Plan

In order to fit both a bathtub and a 2m sized third ‘bedroom’ in when we did our bathroom and study refurbishment project, we needed to relocate the access corridor from the top of the existing flat landing in the middle of the plan, to the side of the plan next to the party wall off of the stair winders.  (You can see the floor plan here as a reminder as its a bit difficult to explain!)

Our plan was that if my somewhat unconventional staircase configuration was uncomfortable or awkward, we’d re-build the staircase at a later date (when cash flow permitted).  As expected, if you are walking all the way up or down the stairs along the existing staircase route from the ground floor to the master bedroom, it is perfectly fine, you don’t notice, or aren’t bothered by the new hallway position to the study. If you walk directly from the ground floor up to the bathroom and study, that’s fine too. The problem with this configuration is that when in the middle of the night, you walk from the master bedroom to the bathroom,  its a little but awkward.  Instead of stepping down onto a winder, which isnt quite big enough, we tend to take a wide step over it (not exactly particularly safe).

As a temporary ‘safety’ fix we added some motion sensor battery operated lights on the steps so you can see where you are going when its dark. Well, the time had finally come to sort it out.

As you can see from the photos, our staircase treads are in very poor condition. Many of them are cracked, and seem to be filled in with a sort of cement based filler. Our original plan was to get them sanded and leave the wood exposed, but as they are so cracked they’d never look great as you’d be able to see the wood filler.   So, although I generally don’t like to remove historic fabric, we’ve decided to have the stairs re-built.

We are going to re-use the handrail and newel post, and rather than build something modern, we are going to keep the design simple and cost effective and match the existing nosing and tread details.

Re-building the stair gives us the opportunity to move it one step forward so we can have a larger landing at the top to avoid that awkward half winder. It also has the added benefit of improving the head height beneath. (Not important now, but eventually when we pop a downstairs loo under there, it will make a 200mm difference – very important if your other half is 6′-4″!)

So, after two quotes, and a bit of a lead time run in, we are having our staircase re-built tomorrow! Exciting times!


Guest Home Tour – Strawberry Hill House

I mentioned on Sunday that one of the newest additions to our garden was a strawberry plant from Strawberry Hill House, which we visited when my dad was in town. That reminded me that I never shared any images with you, so thought I’d do so today.

Strawberry Hill House was  built in the 18th century by Horace Walpole in a Georgian Gothic Revival style.  What is particularly interesting about this house is that although it appears to be quite a grand opulent castle, Horace did not have the same sort of wealth that others in this neighbourhood had, and so he had to cut a few corners. Interestingly, a lot of the tricks he played back in the 18th century, ring true today. When one can’t afford real stone tiles for instance, photo-real prints of stone on ceramic tiles often do the trick.

Personally, I’m of the opinion that if you can’t afford a particular expensive material, then don’t fake it – use something else… That said, Horace’s ideas were interesting and ones that some of us undertaking our own renovations might partially relate to.

So here are some of his ‘tricks’:

  1. Start with buying a small wood frame cottage, then render it white and add crenelations around the top so it looks like a stone castle
  2. Add a two storey bay window to add interest to the facade and rooms behind
  3. Salvage small panes of historic painted glass from France that are inexpensive as they aren’t ‘on trend’, and incorporate them into your windows. This will give the house an air of historic authenticity. (Middle left images)
  4. If when you start you can’t afford a grant hall and a dining room, create a multi-purpose space with secret cupboards so furniture can be hidden away.
  5. If you cant afford wide floorboards, pay for a few wide boards in the centre of the room where they are most visible, then use narrower, less expensive boards around the perimeter where they are typically obscured by chairs and tables.
  6. If you cant afford stone fireplace surrounds, have them carved in wood, then paint them stone colour.
  7. If you cant afford a stone carved entrance hall, paint it to look like one using perspective painting techniques. Then when you’ve saved up enough, really go for it in the new extension to make up for it with intricately detailed wood carved panelling (bottom right image)
  8. If when you’ve finally saved up enough to build a proper Grand Hall, make sure you build the shell first. Then, if you’ve gone over budget, you can always save money by making the ceiling decoration out of paper machier and painting it gold! (Top left and top right images)



News from the Garden…

After the results of our bumper tomato crop from last year, Alex proved to me that you can in fact grow tomatoes in the UK.  So, we decided to grow them again this year. Fed with the same Tomorite liquid fertiliser, the 2017 crop is growing well.  I seem to just about be able to grow mint, so that was also a return herb this year. The slight variation this time around is that I am constantly harvesting the long tall branches so it stays nice and bushy (bottom left right image).

New additions to our garden that we are testing out this season include:

  • Radishes (from seed), which we just planted last week and which are already poking their heads up above the soil (bottom image in the grey pot).
  • A succlent plant, which seem very happy in the shade despite the less than desert like conditions we get here in our garden.
  • A strawberry plant (bought as a souvenir from Strawberry Hill House – thanks Dad!). This little plant sent out a tentacle so we positioned another pot next door to ‘catch’ it, and it seems to have successfully taken root (bottom left image).  Not sure whether we can now snip them apart?