Vacuum Clothes Bags

I have a pretty good idea of what I want for our clothes storage (a pair of freestanding wardrobes, on raised feet so you can see the floor beneath, at about 1700mm high so that they don’t go to the ceiling), but alas, I haven’t yet been able to find anything that matches that description…  The wardrobes therefore still remain a big item on my ‘to do’ list for the master bedroom.

In the meantime however, as the room needed to be completely cleared for re-plastering, we dismantled and sold our IKEA wardrobes on Gumtree.  We are now, consequently, a little short on storage space.  All of our clothes are currently squished into the hall and guest room cupboards and a fairly dated wardrobe that the previous owners kindly left us, (which we kept it as it was easy to move around), waiting for their new home.

So, to improve our clothing storage arrangement until a suitable wardrobe solution presents itself, we’ve done what I have thought in the past was really only necessary for fashionistas with vast wardrobes:  We’ve separated our clothes into summer and winter seasons and stored our winter clothes.   To keep the bulk down, and the moths out, I bought two of these fantastic vacuum storage bags from Lakeland. They worked a treat, and it was actually a rather entertaining 30 seconds watching our clothes compact down to half their size.  (I know, we really are living on the wild side down here in Camberwell).


And on the other side…

… there may not be grass, but the wall is certainly greener!

Our master bedroom really is a bit of a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde at the moment. As we had to finish painting the window wall so the radiators could be installed, we carried on with it while I flip-flopped back and forth on what colour to do the rest.

Back in December I was hatched a plan for a dark green master bedroom colour scheme in this post.  Once May rolled around, I still felt the urge to experiment with a rich forest green in the room, (turns out it wasn’t a passing fad influenced by our Christmas tree), but I didn’t quite have the same confidence I had in the living room to paint all four walls. I am somewhat torn between a dark cosy room, and a light breezy airy one, and so have decided to split the difference and paint the wall behind the bed dark green, while keeping the window wall white (Realising of course that now the room will be neither, and instead some sort of potentially odd hybrid).

I know that ‘feature walls’ in a bold colour or wallpaper are perhaps somewhat dated now, but I’ve decided to go for it anyway – but with a slight twist. I’m going to paint one (not both) of the fireplace niches (not the projecting chimney breast as is typical) a dark green too.  Yes, I realise this is a very loose justification to ‘modernise’ the look – but I’m rolling with it.  Our bed has a very low head board – and so the colour on the back wall will give it something strong to sit against. The green will also provide a nice backdrop to our new pendant lights  – one of which sits in the niche I am painting green (sketch here).

So, having decided on the walls, it was down to the colour. I took advantage of Dulux’s fantastic and inexpensive sample pot system (£1 per sample) and ordered a handful of greens to test. Note: Pick up the paint chips from a hardware store first and search online for the name as the colours viewed on screen are NOTHING like what you get. (I learnt that by throwing a few other dark greens into my online basket that looked like they may be appropriate when in fact they were a Kermit the frog green instead!). I then ordered a few posh paint samples too for comparison.

From left to right, and top to bottom:

  1. Hunter Dunn – Paint and Paper Library
  2. Jasmine Leaf – Sanderson
  3. Laurel Leaf – Sanderson
  4. Woodland Fern – Dulux
  5. Highland Green – Dulux
  6. Heathland – Dulux
  7. Tuscan Glade 1 – Dulux
  8. Japanese Maze 1 – Dulux
  9. Buckingham Green – Dulux

Tune in after the weekend when Alex has painted the walls and I’ll tell you the winner!


Bedside Tables

Last week I ordered a pair of these lovely bedside tables for our master bedroom from a small British furniture maker in Sussex called Factory Twenty One. They do a nice range of small tables, and a few wooden home accessories. Their ‘mission’ : to make ‘affordable, easily shipped and eco-friendly house-hold products’. 

As they are a small company, they kindly accepted my request for a customised order to slightly modify the wood finish.  I asked them if they could make the drawer unit out of ash to match the legs rather than walnut. We don’t have any dark wood in the room, so it would have been slightly at odds with the bed (ash) and the floorboards (eventually white washed pine).

Like the radiators, they too are on a bit of a lead time (4-6 weeks), but I am hoping they will arrive before my next guests!

In addition to deciding on the bedside tables,  I’m sure you will all be delighted to hear that we also decided on the laundry basket. After my extensive hunt to find a stylish laundry basket we ended up going for the bargain rope basket from Dunelm which actually feels of much higher quality than the price I am pleased to report! The only issue is that it didn’t come with a lid (despite a somewhat mis-leading image on the website) which would have been tidier.


Master Bedroom Radiators

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted anything, and for that I apologise…. I’ve been fortunate enough to be away for a few weekends back to back and so consequently, I haven’t had much time to report on the (still somewhat slow) progress in the master bedroom.

That said, a few things have moved forward which I will tell you about.  Firstly – our salvaged and restored Victorian radiators finally arrived after being on an 8 week lead time (apparently these two came all the way from Scotland!), and our plumber finally had a slot to install them two weeks ago… so here they are – installed at last!

So as not to delay the installation, we just got around to painting the window wall so that the area behind the radiators would be painted.  I have to confess that the other three walls of the room are still unfinished plaster in this photo!

We had a few issues along the way which made these radiators A LOT more challenging to source than the ones in our hallway which I will share for reference…

  1.   The salvage shop where we bought our hallway salvaged radiators,  and where I was naively expecting to find some for the master bedroom, didn’t have the size we needed.
  2. The windows in our master bedroom have lovely low sills, but that meant that we needed short radiators to fit neatly below them, which, I quickly learnt, are rather rare.
  3. Radiators come in standard heights, (18″ and 24″ at the short end of the scale) and sadly  24″ is just too tall, so our options were limited further.
  4. After undertaking the heating calculation, it also turned out that with two radiators, we only need a ‘2 column’ width radiator.   These too are also rare, especially when combined with the height requirement.
  5. There are plenty of shops on the internet making replica cast iron rads, but none fit the requirements, they were either too tall, or two deep.
  6. A lot of the replicas didn’t have the same Ideal Boiler Company detailing, which I was keen to match.

In the end, after much searching, I finally came across The Old Radiator Company who were able to source exactly what we were after… they were just on an 8 week lead time…




Curtains 101 – Positioning the curtain hooks

Cathy came in today to test-hang our curtains (very exciting – they look great!), and I learnt a bit more about curtains which I’ll share with you.

The backing tape at the top of the curtain which gives the depth of gather has a number of loops where the hooks can be positioned. The position of the hook dictates how far above or below the curtain rail the curtain is positioned – and it turns out this has quite a visual impact on how the curtains look. If the hook is at the very top you see all of the rail, whereas if it is at the bottom, the curtain is lifted closer to the ceiling, and the rail is completely hidden.  Cathy kindly tested a number of scenarios with me so we could see what looked best. In the excitement I annoyingly forgot to take photos of the difference in how it looked in our room, but my last post on Curtains 101 shows some of the differences.

The curtain rail installation manual recommendations suggested that the hook should be placed at the very top of the curtain so that it would smoothly slide over the passing hooks, so we tested that first, but I didn’t like what it looked like with the curtain rail fully visible. There was just too much going on with the cornice, a gap, the curtain rail, and the pencil pleat.  Then we tried with the hook farther down, and it actually made no difference to the curtain maneuverability – so we ended up opting for the very bottom hook. This way the curtain hid the rail and was as close to the ceiling as possible without touching it. The room suddenly looked SO much taller with the curtains flowing from ceiling to floor.

The curtains will now hang for 1-2 weeks before they are hemmed so that if the weight of them causes them to stretch out a bit, this can be accommodated. (Did I mention Cathy is a perfectionist?!)


The Hunt for a Stylish Laundry Basket

I’ve been keeping my eyes open for a simple, non-wicker, stylish laundry basket, so I thought I would share my list with you as it has been a little while since I’ve done a ‘Top Ten’ summary.  It seems wicker is the material of choice for laundry hampers, but I did discover other options out there. (My main issue with wicker is how it squeaks and creaks when you move it and it can look a little old fashioned!)

I’ve seen quite a few two compartment hampers with separate sections for ‘darks’ and ‘lights’. Although in principle that sounds efficient, we always end up with more ‘darks’ than ‘lights’ at the end of the week so they’d end up getting mixed anyway. I didn’t therefore factor that into my search requirements.

  1. Wenko Duo Felt Laundry Basket – £34.95  or the similar John Lewis Felt Double Laundry Basket for £70 – I really quite like these, but with our felt covered Hay chair and our wool felt new curtains, I feel I have got the ‘felt thing’ well and truly out of my system and must impose a ban any further felt in our house for the time being. Shared here for you if you haven’t gone felt mad!
  2. Rubbermaid Canvas Folding Laundry Basket – £12.99 – A nice option, from a well known brand. My concern is that it may look too cream coloured against my white walls.
  3. Norway Laundry Box – £57.99 – For a natural wooden look.
  4. Cox & Cox Hand woven Laundry Basket – £150 – An elegantly shaped basket, with handles to carry it downstairs.
  5. Habitat Woven Laundry Basket – £95 – Better price than the Cox & Cox version.
  6. M&S Canvas Laundry – £35 – Looks sturdy and to be of good value (John Lewis do an almost identical one).  I also really like this Casual Canvas Laundry bag for £15.60 – but we are looking for something that can stand on its own neatly in a corner.
  7. Dunelm – Rope Laundry bag – £16.50 – A slightly soft option, but the reviews do say it holds its shape. Simple and economical.
  8. House of Fraser – Gray & Willow Robe Laundry Bin – £24 – Inspired by the Dunelm Rope Laundry bin, I looked for others in this  material and found this one
  9. John Lewis Croft Collection Storage Bag with Handles – £35 – Another rope basket.
  10. Atipico Arigatoe Laundry Holder – £196 – At the very top end of the range,  this laundry basket is indeed very slick, however it feels a like a bit too much to pay for a laundry basket. Being plastic – would that perhaps be an issue with ventilation?



Curtains 101 – Bay Window Curtain Poles

When we started to arrange our new curtains, I had assumed that we could use our existing wood curtain rail and life would be simple (silly me!).  Cathy suggested that we would need to make sure it was super sturdy as the new wool, thermally lined curtains would be significantly heavier than what we had up previously. A bit of a jiggle revealed that they wouldn’t likely be up to the task without some additional support brackets.

But as we all know, nothing is ever simple! Its been a long journey to find a suitable curtain rail, but I will summarise what I learnt in a series of helpful bullet points to avoid this post turning into a (rather dull) novella…

  • So that a heavy curtain can go around the corner bend in a Bay window, you need what are called ‘passing brackets‘  (a bottom supported bracket) and ‘passing hooks‘ (‘C’ shaped hooks with a cut out that can slide over the bracket). So far so good – very clever.
  • You cannot, however, simply buy passing brackets and add them to your existing wood curtain rail (my initial ‘easy fix’ thought). Every passing bracket has a slightly different projection from the wall, and you need all brackets to be the same.
  • Unfortunately (according to John Lewis) they don’t make wood curtain rails with passing bracket systems as they just aren’t strong enough – they only make metal ones.
  • A custom made metal bay window curtain rail will set you back about £900. This is because they come out to measure and install, and also bend the metal corners to suit your bay window exactly.
  • A bay window kit on the other hand, costs about £100-£150 depending on what features you go for. The corners aren’t as nice (there are various styles as shown above), but given they are usually covered with a curtain, it’s probably not such a big deal.
  • You cannot mix and match passing brackets with passing hooks from a different manufacturer (or any component for that matter). The cut out in the hook, and the position of the ring on this hook which holds the curtain is designed to work precisely with that bracket design.
  • You must check the weight of your curtains to ensure the rod is strong enough as curtain rod systems are rated to take a certain weight. (The system I liked the look of best, just wasn’t strong enough unfortunately, so in the end the decision was made for me).  Luckily the company I bought the fabric from (Kvadrat) had the weight available as 840 g/lin.m. Cathy  had calculated that I needed 11.4 m, so it was easy to calculate
  • Don’t forget to add the weight of the lining!  Turns out that the thermal lining Cathy was using was about 800g/lin.m.  As the information was not available from the supplier or on line, we figured that out by first weighing the A5 sized sample of Kvadrat fabric on a kitchen scale.  We then weighed the same sized A5 rectangle of lining. Turns out they weighted the same number of grams, so the maths was easy.
  • Just because you order a thick 35mm diameter rod doesn’t automatically mean that the weight all 35mm rod curtain rails can take is the same. This is also related to the brackets.

After a lot of searching, we ended up going with the Swish Design Studio Bay Window kit from Poles & Blinds (available in brass, polished chrome, anthracite, and stainless steel). We opted for the anthracite so it would match our gunmetal grey radiators in the hallway near by.