Under stairs WC Material Board

So, based on the concept of a ‘Coal Hole’… here is my inspiration material board for our under stair WC.

I’ve always felt that in small spaces you can afford to go bold with your colour choice and shouldn’t shy away from dark colours.  (Check out the cloakroom to my old flat on Camberwell Grove here and here which I painted dark grey) Painting a teeny tiny space white isn’t exactly fooling anyone – so go bold!

So here is the tentative product list:

  • Duravit Darling wall hung pan compact toilet with concealed Duo-frame Geberit Omega 120cm cistern (to match the one in our bathroom upstairs)
  • Black Duravit push flush button (same as upstairs, but in black)
  • Alape round sit on basin
  • Countertop in black laminate with a plywood edge (as I may have more plywood in my kitchen area so this would tie in, or maybe I’ll just have a plywood shelf treated so it’s water resistant to break up the black… not sure yet!)
  • Black wall mounted tap, pop-up waste and waste trap. These images are from Lusso Luxe, but there are quite a few other companies who do black taps these days.
  • Fire bucket for the bin from Garden Trading (or something like this that’s a bit smaller so it fits!)
  • Black rectangular Danse mosaic tiles in Carbone 03 from Domus for behind the toilet and basin splashback.
  • Canary artwork from Etsy store TinyKiwiPrints (or something like this to add a pop of colour)
  • Black bead board up to dado level to hide pipework and electrics and to provide a wipeable surface
  • Black painted brickwork of the party wall above dado level.  I may go for white here if its all a bit too much black… I’ll decide once its built and I can look at the space.
  • Poured concrete micro-top floor to match the rest of the extension (still debating on the flooring, but for now this is what I’m going with!)
  • This lighting pendant shown is the Glass bead light by Tom Dixon,  but I’ve just discovered that it doesn’t give out much light and is really only designed to add a bit of sparkle for decorative purposes. As the light will be higher than a 60cm zone around the basin, my understanding is that you don’t need an IP44 rated fitting.
  • I may also paint the inside of our door yellow like I did here in our front hallway  and here inside our charging station hall cupboard. (I know, I can’t help myself!)

Party wall foundations Complete

Well, here we are at last… with the foundations for our shared party wall now complete!

As I alluded to in a previous post, the builder accidentally cast the top of the foundation wall too high, so after looking for alternative solutions, and not finding any, he spent two days last week jack-hammering off the top 400mm. (That’s what the massive pile of rubble on the right hand side is!).

Construction starts this week on the wall, and in a week’s time we won’t be able to see our neighbours anymore for breakfast across the way!


Cedar Tree Care

You may remember that last spring we lifted the base of our large cedar tree to free up some space in the flower beds beneath it (tree 1 above), and to stop it overhanging our lawn so closely.  We also freed the slightly wonky cedar tree at the end of our garden (tree 5 above) from some overly enthusiastic vines.

This year we are planning some more significant tree works.

Tree 1 – The main largest Cedar tree is just too big now to prune ourselves, so we are getting the professionals in to take 5 feet off the top and have its sides trimmed. You can’t trim more than a third of the green growth off as otherwise the tree will die, so it will only get a light trimming but that should help it from dominating and over shadowing our garden too much.

Tree 2 – We are going to relocate this tree, if possible, to the location of tree 4.

Tree 3 – This little tree is totally bare on one side because the large cedar tree (1) was growing up next to it.  We don’t think its really contributing to the garden so we are going to have it removed so we can grow nice flowers of some sort in its place.

Tree 4 – This tree got somewhat damaged when the neighbours had their scaffolding up and has sort of split into three branches.

Tree 5 –  Our wonky cedar tree never really recovered from the vine and has a dead bald patch on one side. We have therefore decided to remove it. Not only is it right up against the boundary where the roots could possibly interfere with our neighbour’s building, but it isn’t a particularly attractive tree to be right on the main axis of the garden.


Nursery Planning

Things got pretty hectic in the last few weeks before our little one’s arrival and we didn’t quite get everything finished in time in the nursery. Consequently, I haven’t yet made any ‘full view’ posts about it. However, over the past few weeks we have managed to find an hour here and there to complete the finishing touches.

Before the big reveal though, here is a photo I took back in August last year when I was planning things out. It is a teeny tiny room so we wanted to make sure there was enough storage and that we would make best use of the space. To decide which IKEA storage units would fit best I made little cut outs of everything and moved the furniture blocks around a drawn up plan of the room – old school style!

This is the layout we settled on with a chest of drawers by the window made of three, three drawer units which will double as a changing area.


Happy New Year!

Every January, for the past three years, I have participated in the 30 day minimalist challenge. On day one of the de-cluttering challenge you throw out one item, on day two, two items and so on. It starts off fairly easily, but very quickly becomes quite difficult by around day 10. I find the challenge is a really great thing to do to keep things from getting out of control. I managed to get to day 20 in 2015, 2016, and 2017 so will have another go this year. Although it is difficult to find blocks of time in my day to do this, I’m going to have another go as it seems as though when you have a baby you accumulate things at an even more alarming pace!

I’ve chosen a fairly sparse and minimal photo that I took in Dungeness last year as inspiration to see where this year’s challenge will take me. I realise its a somewhat bleak image to start the new year with, but there is something peaceful in it, (after all the Christmas excess), just as there is something calming about a clutter-free tidy space.

I will give you an update with how I am getting on every 5-10 days or so.  So… who is going to join me?!


Dealing with Damp

We have had an ongoing issue with  damp in our study near the roof level around the chimney which has been a low level annoyance for about a year and a half now. In investigating the potential cause, we discovered that our shared rear chimney was in a pretty sorry state in terms of one particular area of lead flashing around the base which was missed in an earlier inspection back in June 2016, the brick pointing, the bricks themselves (some of which were split), and some areas of the parapet capping (which you can see here).  While rectifying these issues, we ended up rebuilding the whole chimney and reducing it in height (as many had already done on our street) to minimise future risk of collapse (they were all built just a bit too high!).

As a belt and braces approach, we also added chimney caps to all pots (our neighbours kindly agreed to let us put temporary caps on theirs as they aren’t using their rear fireplaces at the moment), and also added in a pair of cast iron air bricks in our 2 flues to allow for some air movement (which I bought from ebay here as they have lots of fancy Victorian patterns!), so if any moisture got in, it could dry out. We couldn’t obviously put air bricks in our two neighbour’s flues as then our house would fill up with smoke if they every used their fireplaces – but as their flues are still open internally – there would still be the opportunity for air movement in all 4 flues.

Well… unfortunately, despite roughly 11 coats of paint being applied over the course of a year and a half, including the initial base coat and 3 top coats to provide sufficient coverage over the existing masonry,  two different brands of stainblock paint, and more top coats in between, we still seem to have some discolouration at high level. It doesn’t look like mould luckily… but we are stumped!

We’ve recently had a desk top and shelf built in as part of the nursery/study/ guest room swap around (pics later once we eventually get around to painting them!), and the carpenter who helped us out recommended this Zinsser BullsEye 1-2-3-Primer. Apparently in the building industry it is the go-to solution – so we are giving this one last chance.  If this fails, then we’ll call the builder back who did the chimney re-build to see if perhaps a bit of flashing has fallen loose… ooof.

I’m not suggesting this stain block will solve all your damp issues – its always best to find the source of the problem (not always so easy as moisture can track for quite a distance before manifesting) – but apparently this is the best stuff for dealing with the aftermath of staining that keeps grinning through.




Nursery – Material Board

As most of you know, Alex and I are expecting a new little family member to join us in about 2 weeks time.  So, with that in mind, we needed to make a few adjustments to our current room arrangement. We’ve been told by our good friends Claire and Sam (whose beautiful home in Manchester you may remember here) that when you have a baby you should psychologically prepare for your room plan and sleeping locations to all change… but for now, this is what we are doing:

  •  The guest room will remain as a spare bedroom (for the time being) so that our family can come and visit, and so that when Alex goes back to work he has somewhere where he might be able to get a full night’s sleep.
  • We will add a small desk in guest room in the niche beside the fireplace to serve as our ‘study corner’ and a place for our computer.
  • Our study will be turned into the nursery

The above material board is our aspiration and plan for the nursery:

  • Leander Cot – Sold to us second hand by some friends of friends. This white washed birch plywood cot is a classic ‘architect’s’ choice, and can adapt and extend into a junior bed to suit the child up to the age of 5.  More details here. You can buy them second hand on ebay for half the price, and then get a new mattress.
  • White-washed floorboards – Already done as you can see in progress here and finished here.
  • Black and white rug – As we don’t  know whether we are having a girl or a boy, (and also because I’m an architect, so the nursery was never going to be pink or blue anyway), we thought we’d keep the rug we only just bought this year for the study and go for a gender neutral ‘Black, White and Whitewashed Wood‘ theme.
  • IKEA Nordli drawer units – As children’s rooms need to change frequently to accommodate their changing needs over time (bigger beds, desks etc.) we didn’t want to spend a fortune on storage that may not be suitable later. The Nordli range is great as you can group units in many different configurations. So with two new £20 tops and plinths, a 3 unit chest of drawers can be broken apart into 2 smaller units. Plus I didn’t really like their children’s STUVA equivalent range, which is a lot less adaptable.  Our space saving IKEA hack is that we intend to use the top of this low chest of drawers as a changing table!
  • IKEA Mosslander picture ledge – Used as book shelves for outward facing books. I can’t take credit for this super cute IKEA hack (its all over Pinterest and the internet), but I really love the idea of these bargain £4.95 picture shelves being used as book shelves.
  • Hanging clothes rod – Most of the baby clothes will go into the Nordli drawer units, but some are just too cute to hide away. I thought I could also hang other bits and pieces from a rod too, which I intend to hang from our exposed rafters.
  • Swan Mobile – White and elegant… I couldn’t resist buying one of these inexpensive paper mobiles from Trouva for £13.95.
  • Black with white crosses fabric – I love this fabric from Robert Kauffman (£6.31/lm), which you can buy here on Etsy. I’m thinking it would be perfect for black out blinds.
  • White Eames rocking chair –  A design classic, and one of those ubiquitous luxury nursery items.  Certainly an ‘aspiration’, rather than a necessity!
  • Penguin Print – The Etsy store TinyKiwi sells inexpensive prints of all sorts of animals in this minimal geometric style. I can’t decide!
  • Picture frames – IKEA sells both the HOVSTA and the BREDARYD picture frame ranges in light toned wood for low prices.