Calculate BTU or how to choose the right size radiator.

November 1, 2017

How do you calculate the correct size of radiator for each room?

Getting the right size radiator for your room will save money and also help you keep an even temperature in your home. The rule of thumb seems to be to install radiators that are just a bit more powerful than your calculation so that when you install the valves you can turn the heat down – under powered radiators only means you will have the valves open full but the room will never be warm enough.

Calculate BTU

The number you need to calculate is the BTU. British Thermal Unit.

This is a calculation of how much heat you need to heat 1 pound of water by 1 degree farenheight. There are a few explanations of this, just check out wikipedia to start, but really all you need to know is calculate the BTU number using a calculator like the one below and that’s the number you quote when you order your radiators.

Radiator Size Calculator

Grab your tape measure and start filling in the form for an easy calculation

Need new radiators? Visit BestHeating and browse their extensive range of radiators now.

Make a Parkinson’s Fidget Cushion by Juliet Bawden, My Guest Blogger from creativecolour.org

June 18, 2017
creative colour, Juliet Bawden, how to make a fidget cushion, Buildmumahouse, Alzheimers aids, Alzheimers, Autism communciation aid, sensory cushion, how to make a sensory cushion, what is a sensory cushion, Parkinsons aid, aging in place, caring for carers

“My aunt has Parkinson’s disease, a complex condition that affects different people in different ways. The symptoms most often associated with Parkinson’s affect movement. My aunt often needs to do something with her hands and so I decided to make a Fidget and sensory cushion for her. When my children were very young I designed an activity cushion complete with buttons, laces, Velcro for them, so this is a similar idea but for an elderly person.”

creative colour, Juliet Bawden, how to make a fidget cushion, Buildmumahouse, Alzheimers aids, Alzheimers, Autism communciation aid, sensory cushion, how to make a sensory cushion, what is a sensory cushion, Parkinsons aid, aging in place, caring for carers

Juliet Bawden Fidget Cushion – back

I’ve invited Juliet Bawden from https://creativecolour.org/ to write about her fidget and sensory cushion, and share step-by-step instructions how she made this brilliant gift for her aunt on my blog. This fidget cushion has proved to be a simple and well designed item for her aunt, and it would be good for anyone with Parkinsons. Juliet’s Fidget Cushion can also be personalised to make a sensory cushion for reducing anxiety and agitation for someone living with Alzheimers, it can be adapted to be an activity cushion, an aid to stimulate communication between family, carers and a person living with dementia, Alzheimers or even Autism.

When Juliet was developing and then making this Fidget Cushion I would look forward to catching up with her. I learnt so much about how she was addressing her aunt’s needs with the design and how Juliet worked to improved the cushion’s functionality. I was as delighted as she was when it was finished…it proved to be a big hit not only with her aunt but with her aunts’ friends too.

creative colour, Juliet Bawden, how to make a fidget cushion, Buildmumahouse, Alzheimers aids, Alzheimers, Autism communciation aid, sensory cushion, how to make a sensory cushion, what is a sensory cushion, Parkinsons aid, aging in place, caring for carers

Juliet Bawden Fidget Cushion – both sides are full of interest and stimulation.

 

 

Fidget Cushion by Juliet Bawden from creativecolour.org

“This is my prototype, and as I write it is about to be road tested by my aunt. I became so excited by all the materials that I gathered together that this cushion has a back and a front to it. This maybe overkill so I suggest you only make a front to the cushion so that there is a flat surface to lay on the recipient’s lap.

My aunt’s symptoms include memory loss, so I felt that as well as giving her something to do with her hands It was important to engage all the senses. Sounds, smell, touch, sounds all help to plug in to their memories.

I read a report by someone on the internet, who makes these cushions for different clients. Her wise advice is to use textured fabrics and embellishments to occupy restless hands plus a clear pocket to add a photo, memo or reminiscence item.

The cushion is made from recycled materials so hopefully the planet, the charity shops, my bank account and my aunt will all benefit – not forgetting me, who enjoyed making it.

I bought a cushion that did up at the front with buttons. I chose garments and haberdashery made from contrasting fabrics and materials. The instructions given below are to make the Fidget Cushion shown here, however yours will be different from mine depending on what materials you can find.

You will need

Cushion with a cushion pad

Stitch ripper

Scissors

Sewing machine

Pins

Needle

Threads

 

Some or all of the below :

Shirt with pockets and placket

Garments or old cushions with applique or other decorative details

Pieces of ribbons and lace

Shiny buttons

Zip

Long silky scarf

2 x Small square silky scarves

Small furry teddy or letter or number

Lavender bag

Bells

Materials – look out for a variety of textures and colours

Instructions

These instructions are specific to the cushion I made and yours will be different depending on the bits and pieces you find.

 

 

Everything is based on this embroidered cushion with a button opening.

  • Step 1 Cut two pockets from a shirt leaving a 1 cm seam allowance so you can sew the pockets into place. Cut down the side seams of the cushion so that the front is separate from the back and you don’t inadvertently sew through two layers at once. Sew the pockets into place on the front as in the photograph.
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Cut pockets and backing off shirt

  • Step 2 Remove a zip from a dress. Insert it between two pieces of contrast cloth to make a zipped pocket. Sew this on the back of the cushion.

    creative colour, Juliet Bawden, how to make a fidget cushion, Buildmumahouse, Alzheimers aids, Alzheimers, Autism communciation aid, sensory cushion, how to make a sensory cushion, what is a sensory cushion, Parkinsons aid, aging in place, caring for carers

    Remove the zip from a dress

  • Step 3 Remove flowers from a child’s dress and sew these onto the cushion front.

    creative colour, Juliet Bawden, how to make a fidget cushion, Buildmumahouse, Alzheimers aids, Alzheimers, Autism communciation aid, sensory cushion, how to make a sensory cushion, what is a sensory cushion, Parkinsons aid, aging in place, caring for carers

    Remove flowers from child’s dress

  • Step 4 Cut away flat flowers from a child’s dress sew these onto the cushion back.

    creative colour, Juliet Bawden, how to make a fidget cushion, Buildmumahouse, Alzheimers aids, Alzheimers, Autism communciation aid, sensory cushion, how to make a sensory cushion, what is a sensory cushion, Parkinsons aid, aging in place, caring for carers

    Cut away the flowers

  • Step 5 Adding a 1cm seam allowance, cut the placket from the front of the shirt and neaten. Cut 10 cm pieces of ribbon and fold in half, pin them onto the cushion front with the base of the placket on top. Sew the placket and ribbon loops onto the cushion front and popper on the other piece.

    creative colour, Juliet Bawden, how to make a fidget cushion, Buildmumahouse, Alzheimers aids, Alzheimers, Autism communciation aid, sensory cushion, how to make a sensory cushion, what is a sensory cushion, Parkinsons aid, aging in place, caring for carers

    Neaten edge of placket

  • Step 6 Applique hearts cut from a different cushion, onto your cushion.

    creative colour, Juliet Bawden, how to make a fidget cushion, Buildmumahouse, Alzheimers aids, Alzheimers, Autism communciation aid, sensory cushion, how to make a sensory cushion, what is a sensory cushion, Parkinsons aid, aging in place, caring for carers

    Applique hearts onto cushion cover

  • Step 7 Make a small lavender bag and sew that onto one of the pieces of ribbon and place it in a pocket. Attach other items, like the soft number 8 in our picture, by pieces of ribbon so that they can be taken out but not lost.

    creative colour, Juliet Bawden, how to make a fidget cushion, www.Buildmumahouse, Alzheimers aids, Alzheimers, Autism communciation aid, sensory cushion, how to make a sensory cushion, what is a sensory cushion, Parkinsons aid, aging in place, caring for care

    Sew a lavender bag onto the ribbon

  • Step 8 We attached 2 scarves in the side seams. So that they could be knotted together or tied in a bow.

    creative colour, Juliet Bawden, how to make a fidget cushion, Buildmumahouse, Alzheimers aids, Alzheimers, Autism communciation aid, sensory cushion, how to make a sensory cushion, what is a sensory cushion, Parkinsons aid, aging in place, caring for carers

    Attach two silken scarves

  • Step 9 Turn the cushion cover inside out and sew the side seams together catching the edges of the placket and the scarves in the seams. As the cushion has a flap turn it through this to the right side out.

creative colour, Juliet Bawden, how to make a fidget cushion, Buildmumahouse, Alzheimers aids, Alzheimers, Autism communciation aid, sensory cushion, how to make a sensory cushion, what is a sensory cushion, Parkinsons aid, aging in place, caring for carers

Since writing this. The fiddle or fidget cushion has been road tested by my aunt and many others in her care home and it is very popular.

 

creative colour, Juliet Bawden, how to make a fidget cushion, Buildmumahouse, Alzheimers aids, Alzheimers, Autism communciation aid, sensory cushion, how to make a sensory cushion, what is a sensory cushion, Parkinsons aid, aging in place, caring for carers

Juliet Bawden Fidget and Sensory Cushion

Juliet Bawden is a designer, maker, author and journalist has written over 70 craft books either exploring and making the things herself. 
Recently designing, making and writing for magazines including : Coast, Simply Sewing and Reloved as well as for the web site of both Cath Kidston and Laura Ashley. Juliet has run workshops at the Fashion and Textile Museum for Heals, King makers of Candy Crush and many others.
Juliet is also a colour consultant and explores and writes about colour and craft on her blog: Creative Colour a UK design, craft and interiors blog.

Some of the techniques and others can be found in Juliet’s latest book, read my review here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Electronic surveillance systems. Are you spying on your parents or just keeping an eye out for them?

June 12, 2017
Panasonic, iPhone apps, Canary, Jola Piesakowska, Buildmumahouse

A friend’s mum fell in her garden and couldn’t get up, she lay there for hours before anyone knew of her situation.

A workman cleaning a 95 year old’s gutters asked for a glass of water, followed my relative to the kitchen. His accomplice ran upstairs and ransacked the bedrooms.

A family friend collapsed in the shower and couldn’t call for help, her newly renovated home was flooded and ruined. She had to move out.

Very real and frightening stories for anyone who has a relative who wants to stay living independently, at home. And you have a full time job. And you don’t live with your parents.

How can we keep an eye out for someone without being there? How can elderly people keep their independence safe in the knowledge that if something happens their carers can be alerted? I have recently been thinking about this.

Do you remember those baby monitors that you could buy in Mothercare to listen to your baby asleep upstairs? Battery powered, with walkie talkie aerials (and just as crackly). In the 90’s they were the height of techno sophistication, showed off at family gatherings, placed pride of place on the dining table. We would all be suddenly shushed during the meal because sister-in-law thought she had heard a gurgle on the airwaves.

Playskool 1987 baby monitor

We’ve grown up, our kids have grown up and now we’re considering parent monitoring.

In the USA there are service providers of round the clock interactive telecaregiver monitoring

At its offices in Lafayette, Ind., telecaregiver Cady sits before two large computer screens. On one, you can see the Fitzgeralds in Savannah, eating their dinner as Cady chats with them.

There are also thumbnail video images of two-dozen other homes, which Cady will check in with over the course of her shift. If one client signals for help, that image pops up larger. Children of her clients can log into the same video Cady watches and monitor their parents themselves.

Telecaregiver can remind people to take their medication at a certain time. They can alert a relative if someone appears confused or in distress. They can help with the simple tasks of daily life, like the time a client was about to sit down to breakfast.

The telecaregiver zoomed in on the frying pan and said, ‘Maybe you ought to cook the sausage and the eggs a little longer. The eggs look kind of runny and the sausage is pink,’

Fast forward to the High Street of 2017.

I popped into Maplins last weekend and on display there’s so much more than baby monitoring. Just as we had easy-to-use baby monitors, the high street shops are offering home DIY video and sensor monitoring for your home and pets. The new generation home monitoring systems don’t rely on a specialized installer or a contract monitoring alarm system. This is plug and play. Easy to set up technology with audio and video capability is now available at a realistic price.

Home monitoring systems are being sold as a way of protecting your property, keeping an eye on the postman, capturing burglars, seeing what your pets get up to during the day. They are triggered by motion sensors and can even be used to turn on lights or even your heating.

There’s now a vast array of home monitoring systems, linking high definition indoor and outdoor cameras to you mobile phone, computer or tablet. With or without an app. Via wifi or dect. Wired or wireless. Day and night vision.

Video and audio monitoring is now standard, a siren can be activated remotely from your device and some allow a two way conversation between you remotely and the subject of the camera.

Huffington Post summed up how these diy home monitoring systems can be used as  parent monitors keeping tabs on an elderly parent …”

 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-t-miller/how-to-keep-tabs-on-an-el_b_8954044.html

…if your mom didn’t pick up her pillbox to get her medicine or didn’t open the refrigerator door to make breakfast like she usually does, or if she left the house at a peculiar time you would be notified and could check on her. You can also check up on her anytime you want online or through a mobile app…

Looking at the range on display on the High Street what caught my eye is the Panasonic Home Safety range of monitors. Right there in Streatham High Road was everything for carers to keep an eye on parents and allow them to stay living independently at home.

The Panasonic Home Monitoring Display in my High Street

Panasonic Home safety range, like many others on the market has a monitor for windows and doors that alerts you when they are opened or closed. You can use this to check on your parents’ daily routine without feeling that you are invading their privacy. Or you can monitor their house for burglars. All from your smartphone.

There are indoor or outdoor monitors that not only transmit video images and audio to you but this range will allow you to speak to the person in the room or at the outside door that you are monitoring. Panasonic videos suggest you use this feature to tell the postman to deliver your parcel to the neighbours when you are out. With an elderly parent you can install this feature to keep an eye on whose at the front door and what they are up to.

Watch your Pets from Work

There are motion detectors that switch on lights when activated, this doesn’t need selling hard as everyone can do with lights coming on automatically to light the stairs or the path to the bathroom at night.

But for me the key differentiator is the water monitor. This is such a great idea for passively keeping an eye on someone’s home where there is the potential of a flooding risk, perhaps someone with early onset dementia symptoms, or prone to forgetfulness when running a bath or sink or shower. Catching a bathroom flood can save damage to a home or could indicate a fall or someone who has been taken unwell in the shower room. It allows you to act in time.

 

Using home monitoring systems as a parent monitor will transform how we can remotely care for an elderly or unwell person. As the carer you could feel that you have set up a care plan that involves you, is relatively low cost and gives 24 hour coverage.

I haven’t actually tested this system, so I can’t comment on how effective any of this is. None of the home monitoring systems seem to have considered the needs of caregivers in their advertising so for now its all about being creative with making these home systems work for your needs.

HOWEVER,

The video cameras are always switched on and walking around your home you can be viewed remotely, without knowing, at any time night or day.

On-line discussion forums have heated debates about how much we should intrude on parents’ privacy. Certainly all of this should be done with your parents’ consent. I’ve read discussions about carer’s personal experiences about where cameras and motion detectors have been put up. The most popular and the locations that are the least contentious seem to be

  • Rogue callers: by the front door pointing to the opening with a clear view to check on callers
  • To check on falls: low level motion activated cameras in the living spaces, the bedroom or bathroom. Motion activated lighting: to turn lights on to prevent falls in low light- walk past a motion sensor and a light is switched on. Monitoring the garden, looking out of a window to check on falls outdoors in the garden as well as keeping an eye on security.
  • Flooding: Water monitors placed in the bathroom by the bath or shower.

 

5 Points to Consider

 

  1. You need to have wi-fi up and running. Some systems use wifi to relay the data you will have to consider putting your parent on a wi-fi plan if they don’t have one already. This may be a cost that you will need to cover.
  2. Always update to the latest firmware and change the password. “This is to announce that firmware has updated for improvement of the cybersecurity vulnerability. To provide the highest levels of security, we recommend you to upgrade the firmware for your products.”
  3. Respect your parent’s privacy and think and a discussion about where you will position cameras. Alternatively there are some very good systems that only rely on motion sensors and give you a feel for changes to a routine.
  4. Storage. Check out costs of storing the footage. Some systems use a cloud storage for the video and charge for the service, some systems have a memory card in the hub and there will be no extra costs.
  5. Plan and agree on network of people who can help when you need to raise the alarm.

 

But is this amount of monitoring, snooping on your parents, is this an invasion of their privacy? What do you think?

An amazing spa bathroom for any age

June 7, 2017
Jola Piesakowska Buildmumahouse bathroom sink ageproof bathroom

I was at a location house a few weeks ago, owned by interiors stylist Catherine Woram and architectural designer Michael Bains. I was captivated how beautiful the entire house was. Every room. But it was the bathrooms that did it for me – I need one of these! Each bathroom was full of beautiful, clever details all in perfect harmony. A perfect retreat from the stresses and strains of the world, your own private spa.

small moroccan bathroom

The flat whiteness of the walls and painted floor are fresh and uplifting. The huge over mantel mirror bounces light all around and by painting the ornate frame white it looks perfect over the basins. The sense of light in this room is perfect for anyone with weakened eyesight: details are crisp and defined.

Catherine Woram has used an shabby and ornate console table as a basin stand. Its fun and its chic. Complementing the shabby paintwork and wooden top is a rustic copper basin.. and a very modern chrome u bend. It looks fantastic and this basin stand is in fact ideal for anyone who needs to pull up a stool when using the sink. Wouldn’t it be perfect if an ornate basin stand like this was wheelchair friendly too!

The basin and tap styling is Moroccan French rustic chateau meets modern, sleek chrome. These levered taps are easy to use for anyone with reduced mobility, the narrow console table/basin stand also means that you wouldn’t need to stretch forward to reach them. This is exactly what Build Mum a House is all about. You shouldn’t need to compromise the look of your home for ease of use.

TAPS AND MIXER

White floor boards, pale flat greys shades, chandeliers, copper basins. I took some photos on my phone to try and capture the magic… and then as I turned to leave the room I noticed the bathroom door lock. Absolutely beautiful, inspired, on theme AND completely up my street.

In 1970 I was 8. I got stuck in a Hayling Island beach car park toilet. As I had gone to leave, the catch on the big brass mechanism was so fiddly, the old penny dropped down inside the brass mechanism.  I was left behind in the locked cubicle. I wailed. Finally, a very kind lady heard me and put another penny in the lock. Released, I ungraciously ran out, humiliated, in tears, to join my sister who had already got back into our parents’ car!

That’s why I like a nice and easy privacy lock on a bathroom door.

It’s not about lack of mobility and everything with being a bit clumsy. I am not alone on this one. I know I’m not.

And do you know what this bathroom features as a door lock? It’s light and easy to use, large handle that is good for a weak grip and very pretty. The lock on the door is a Moroccan Aldrop and latch. No, I didn’t know they were called that either. This is a very nice decorated version of a metal sliding bolt, that you can see when you wander round the souks and admire the ancient Moorish buildings and their intricate front doors.

bathroom lock

Buildmumahouse is all about finding chic interiors that are perfect for age proof living, for aging at home, for anyone with mobility issues, young or old. This beautiful bathroom is perfect, it’s a visual feast and it addresses many practical issues. Proof that a beautiful interior can be ageproof.

If you would like to see more of my photos fof inspirational interiors then follow me and go to my Buildmumahouse Instagram account, click here  And for more well designed and easy to use bathroom locks go to my bathroom Pinterest boards at Buildmumahouse.

 

 

 

 

 

Craft books review: Fat Quarter Home & Fat Quarter Quick makes

May 31, 2017
fat quarter, home, fat quarter, quick makes buildmumahouse, jola piesakowska, downsizing, crafts, sewing, home, downsizing, decorating ideas, crafts, new home, recycling

If like me, you have helped your parent downsize, moved a child to their first home and have uncovered some beautiful fabrics that have been squirreled away over the years …you need these two books!

Fat Quarter Quick Makes and Fat Quarter Home are two books that are

part of a fantastic new series of stash-busting sewing books aimed at beginner to intermediate crafters.

Every project in Fat Quarter Quick Makes and Fat Quarter Home can be made from a fat quarter. What’s a fat quarter? I didn’t know either. It’s a short length of fabric that’s about a half a yard. There are two books in the series that I’m reviewing today and both are full of really good ideas. Across the two books there’s 50 good ideas.

In Fat Quarter Quick Makes there’s a really good range of decorative projects such as fabric flowers or an owl brooch.

Fat Quarter Home also has 25 projects, making great new things for your home such as cushion covers or giving those vintage Ercol 70’s chairs a spruce up. There are instructions how to re – cover a drop in chair as well as customise and freshen up bathroom towels. All of these projects are good for all 3 generations in my family.

The photography, interesting projects, the lovely styling and really easy to follow instructions have renewed my passion for sewing and making things. Love it!

Here are a few projects that got me fired up for each of my family’s generations:

Fat Quarter Home: Living Room

Fat Quarter, Home Amanda Russell, Juliet Bawden, living room, projects, buildmumahouse, Jola Piesakowska, cushions, downsizing, craft, crafting

Fat Quarter Home Amanda Russell & Juliet Bawden living room projects

 

Cushion Covers.

No zips, no hassle.

An instant refresh for downsizers, feature your treasured fabric from the 50s, 60s or 70s and make your new place look like home. I have, of course, found some 80s fabric. I think this cushion project is great for my garden cushions that are looking a bit faded this year. It’s also a really fast and easy project for young home makers who are happy to raid mum’s or babcia’s stash… or as the pattern is so economical, happy to buy some fabulous modern fabric, without breaking the bank.

 

Fat Quarter, Home Amanda Russell, Juliet Bawden, living room, projects, buildmumahouse, Jola Piesakowska, downsizing, craft, crafting

Fat Quarter Quick Makes Juliet Bawden & Amanda Russell Workroom projects: patterns weights project.

Fat Quarter Quick Makes: Workroom

So many of these projects are fantastic if you have a little one to sew for, this book has the cutest dress, bibs, shorts or flags and tent tidies for festival going teens.

But don’t despair if you don’t. I don’t. However, the workroom projects are right up my street, I’m an empty nester and now I have more space to establish my own space.

Pattern Weights

Now, why did I never have any of these? Up until now I have missed out on having something to hold down paper patterns while I’m pinning or cutting a pattern.  When I make these I’m going to use an assortment of fabrics so that they will look really cute and I can store them on display so they will decorate my workspace.

Other things I want to make that I think will cross all 3 generations of my family:

 Fat Quarter Quick Home: Bathroom

downsizing, storage, bathroom, craft, buildmumahouse, jola piesakowska, Fat Quarter Home Amanda Russell and Juliet Bawden, craft, sewing, home,

Fat Quarter Home Amanda Russell & Juliet Bawden

Storage Bucket

Love this, so happy to get the instructions and pattern to make storage buckets. This is a brilliant project for all 3 generations of my family. The key to downsizing is creating a space for everything. The key to moving into a small first home is having lots of cheap storage solutions and playing with your look. The key to claiming your workspace are work buckets for anything from usb cables to crafting odds and ends. Make some of these, use up your cherished old fabrics and make lovely things  for your home, buy some new fabric and colour co-ordinate your bathroom. Be happy you’ve got the keys right here.

These books are the keys to unlocking the Alladin’s Cave of your fabric stashes its written and styled by Amanda Russell and Juliet Bawden.

Juliet is the author of over 60 different craft books so she really knows what she’s talking about. If you would like get inspired to see how recycling and salvaging crafts can be exciting, follow this link Juliet Bawden Creative Colour or follow Juliet Bawden on Twitter ‪@julietbawden to get and keep up to date on the latest colour and pattern trends. When you mix these skills together you can feel confident to dig into your fabric stash, follow the projects in Fat Quarter Home or Fat Quarter Quick Makes and make your house your home.

Fat Quarter Home and Fat Quarter Quick Makes are coming soon, they will be priced at £12.99 each. Amanda Russell and Juliet Bawden are R&B Designs. You will find more information here https://randbdesigns.co.uk/books/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Focus on Katie Gibbs: Queen of Home Transformations

May 8, 2017
Katie Gibbs stylist, buildmumahouse, build mum a house, upcycle, kitchen, lifestyle, Next interiors, kitchen makeover, s

Katie Gibbs is a London based interior stylist, art director Next Directory stylist, and an interiors consultant with a wealth of experience in all aspects of interior design. I first worked with her on TV commercials over 18 years ago and I’m still a big fan of how she can bring a room set up to date with just the right on trend details, and how she can transform the space so that you want to step right in and sit down.

“After 25 years in the industry I still get a buzz and derive great personal satisfaction from working with different briefs, thinking up innovative and fresh ideas for my clients that meet both their and my criteria in producing the best possible creative pieces.”

When I worked at GMTV I was busy working behind the scenes when one day Katie popped up in front of the camera! Katie went on to enjoy a career as the GMTV interior style expert. She always succeeded in bringing tired homes up-to-date with clever, simple and very effective makeovers.

Today Katie Gibbs works as a stylist on commissions that include advertising campaigns, TV commercials, retail brochures and catalogues, editorial features and consultancy on residential and commercial interior projects.

Katie, how did you get into interior styling and how did you get started?

“Funnily enough it wasn’t a conventional route that got me into styling. I’d completed a 3 year course in Hotel and Catering after school but didn’t fancy working in the industry and it was my granny who know that I had a creative bent and suggested I shadow a stylist friend of hers. Rosin, the stylist, took me around the prop houses in west London sourcing crockery for her shoot for a food magazine she was working on. I loved her job and I wanted to do the same. There was no Google then, so I bought all the interior and food mags to find the relevant editors to contact. At that time I’m not sure that many people cold called but the home editor on Woman magazine seemed to admire my persistence and invited me on a shoot to help out. She saw my potential, linked me up with a young photographer and I did my first shoot. He had friends fresh out of college who also needed a stylist and I managed to pick up more work through them. Contacts led to more contacts and its been like that ever since!”

How would you describe your style?

“Graphic, not frilly, clean edges but with eclectic mixes. Now that could mean lots of different things to different people as visual cues are not quite as easy to explain by the fact that they are visual!”

Which trend are you most excited about working with this year?

“I’ve just finished working on The Next Directory producing some press shots and a video and I’m seeing a move at Next towards the brights and colour blocking. 80’s retro is getting a revival in fashion and its also happening in interiors too.”

Katie Gibbs, Next Directory, buildmumahouse, makeover, bedroom makeover, clour, airforce blue

Katie Gibbs, Next Directory styling

Which colour combinations are your favourite to work with?

“For a stylist seeing a combination of colours that gel is like listening to a favourite piece of music or eating the most delicious meal. These combos do it for me: Cadburys milk chocolate brown with plaster pink; Airforce blue with emerald green with claret and a touch of lime green”

Which room in the home do you enjoy styling the most and why?

“Probably the sitting room as its relatively easy to make changes that refresh the look. If you start with a plain stylish sofa in a neutral colour and the same goes for the furniture then you can change a wall colour, cushions and accessories and not only has the colour combo changed but you can go for a completely different style too.”

Which 3 objects do you believe have the ability to completely transform a room?

“Apart from walls and changing the colour I’d say: cushions in the sitting room (but change them all); Bedlinen in the bedroom; Kitchen fronts in the kitchen (a little more pricey than a set of cushions I know!)”

Katie Gibbs, Next Directory stylist, buildmumahouse, build mum a house,

Katie Gibbs, Next Directory stylist

What inspires you when styling an interior?

“Styling a home is different from a shoot where you have more freedom to change almost any aspect. However with both there is usually one or, in the case of a home, several items of furniture that have to stay. Its with these items that I like to imagine what my ideal room would look like with these at the centre. I then work back from that. Without wanting to sound “arty and airy fairy” it is a process that kind of grows organically.”

Buildmumahouse is a blog that focuses on creating your forever home. Do you have any tips how to keep you home fresh and on trend without a complete refurbishment?

“I’ve managed to do just that in my own home in East London. When we moved in I wanted neutrals throughout and sleek furniture with non fussy, minimalist accessories. The open plan sitting room had a wallpapered wall in off white damask, the rest were white with a charcoal painted wall ascending to the next floor. The furniture was modern, neutral and a few carefully placed accessories.

All change now and we are feasting on colour. The wallpapered wall is now airforce blue. I made navy blue velvet, drape on the floor curtains to replace the silver venetian blinds and bought and made a new set of cushion covers in gold, green and pink. TK Maxx was a wonderful source of weird and wonderful nick nacks like bell jars and candle sticks. I even painted a large rectangle of plywood pink and have it perched on the sideboard as an art piece with a weathered branch i found in the forest propped up against it.

With all design ideas, whether its for an individual room or for a room on a shoot, the most important process is to create the finished image in your head before you start otherwise you’ll not finish off with a cohesive look and you’ll be disappointed. Pinterest and Instagram is a fabulous source of inspiration and by creating a board of bits and pieces that you like you then get to realise the look that you’re aiming for.”

Katie’s Instagram is always full of interesting knick nacks, colour ideas and shots of upcoming trends, visit her Instagram and follow her at gibbs_katie for inspiration and ideas to transform your home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Make a Mood Board…the EASY Way.

April 25, 2017

The last few days I’ve been feeling full of optimism and excitement to start new projects.. and finish half abandoned ones. A mood board is the first step in any design project.

I’m going to take you through an easy way to make up a mood board using office WORD on a Mac or a PC, an every day piece of office software. If you can’t use Photoshop or Canva or Pic collage don’t worry, follow these easy steps.

Years ago, designers used to cut pictures out of magazines, take photos and cut out the prints and stick them on a piece of white or black board. For this mood board I will show you how to use your phone, Pinterest, Instagram, Google and WORD to put it all together. We’re making an easy mood board. No Photoshop No special software.

A mood board helps you can decide what feeling you are trying to capture in a room or an advert or a piece of branding and helps you share it / sell it to your client. Your mood board builds your design’s story and helps you take your client on that journey reaching a decision and on board with a plan.

I’ve worked in branding, tv design and commercials for over 20 years and I make up mood boards as the first thing I do – before I design anything. The mood board helps you decide on the mood to convey. My clients are looking for a way to express their product’s message and speak to the their audience. Whether you are designing a brand, creating an advert or designing a room’s interior, your thought processes are the same.

If you are making over a room your client might be a paying client, a friend, your family, your partner, your mum. In fact anyone who will use this room and moan about it if they don’t like it!

This guide will help you make up a mood board in WORD easily, you won’t be daunted making up a few versions to give you and your client options and help you get everyone on board.

Print out your boards A4 on your inkjet printer, talk through them and discuss, mooch over with a friend, client, your family or your partner and when you decide on the mood and  colourway take that board round the shops with you.

Remember a mood board when planning an interior is a starting point so that you can all agree this is the direction you want to take.. before you fall in love with that special lamp and you’re the only one who likes it.

Your mood boards will make decisions about how to achieve the feeling your are looking for in a room and actual final decision of what you are going to buy will come later.

Step 1. Decide on the Mood and Corresponding Colour

First question What mood do I want to aim for and in which room?

And the answer: A bright sunny happy family Kitchen.

Start to look around you for inspiration to capture the mood, go for a walk, take lots of pictures on your phone of colourful things that catch you eye.

Go home and look back on your pictures.  Think about what each color means to you and how you feel when you look at that picture. Pick out the best picture of the day and post it to Instagram write a few words about why you like it.

Inspiration, mood board, Buildmumahouse Instagram the day, #happy #Spring #fresh

Inspiration all around me – I posted this on Instagram as my shot of the day #happy #Spring #fresh

 

I picked out a picture of some delicate narcissus because they made me feel full of hope and positive for Spring. Looking back on my past posts I found a similar picture of primroses. Thinking about it the pale soft yellow and the white petals summed up a feeling of gentle happiness, fresh mornings and optimism.

#Spring # yellow #white #happy, Buildmumahouse instagram,

Yellow and White Narcissus #Spring # yellow #white #happy

This is what made me happy. Looking at my Instagram account I noticed that people responded well to these pictures and they both got lots of likes.

I decided that yellow would be my #happy colour. But what kind of yellow? Soft mustard, egg yellow? Taking photos I began to notice yellow everywhere I looked and I began curating my pictures choosing the best and Instagrammed those images.

Apart from my curated collection on Instagram I had taken loads of pictures not only of things in the street but also furniture, I began to notice yellow everywhere I looked: in cafes, kitchen shops the more I looked the more I found yellow things.

Buildmumahouse Instagram feed, #yellow, #happy, Jola Piesakowska, how to make a mood board

Buildmumahouse Instagram feed #yellow #happy

After a few days I could look back on my collection of pictures on Instagram and I could see how I just didn’t like some tones of yellow for my happy kitchen , some were too warm, they sucked lightness in, mustardy was too sophisticated and acidic yellow glowed too much.

Apart from my Instagram pictures, I had taken loads of snaps in shops, shop windows of yellow interiors items

#how to make a mood board #yellow # happy #inspiration

Use your phone as an inspiration note book. Take snaps taken in shops, in shop windows: these give you an idea of what’s available and what’s trending this season.

 

Step 3 Google and Pinterest it

Next step start looking everywhere else and start to focus on your shade of yellow. Make a Pinterest board and do a Pinterest search – “yellow” “kitchens” and pin as much as you can be really free with your pins. The benefit of Pinterest is that you preserve a link to the source of the picture and you can pin lots of pictures really quickly. The down side is that it needs curating to convey the mood that your mood board is going to tell.

Buildmumahouse, HAPPY, inspiration interiors, interiors,

Buildmumahouse HAPPY interiors

Do a Google search based on names of shops. I Googled Next as I know that they have a good selection of homewares, paints and décor. Within the Next website I then searched yellow.

 

Step 4 Create a Folder on your Computer and Use Screen Grab to Fill it up.

I have now decided on your colour scheme- yellow and white

It will be an accent colour to a white kitchen

This will create a happy, fresh, mood. Not overpowering and not too dark.

I made a folder on my computer and started to store screen grabs of my Google searches, of my favourite Pinterest images – kitchen décor items that matched my colour choice and that I really liked. And anything that told the mood story.

 

Step 5 Make a Mood Board in WORD

At this point I decided that I was looking to capture the mood of a happy bright fresh kitchen with a fun family feel. The mood board I was starting was going to tell a story to my client

You know what you thing works now you need to get your client to understand this idea and feel what you feel.

Open a new document.

File    Page Set Up     Landscape

Set the page up to be a landscape image

 

 

 

 

 

Start inserting images: File   Image    Insert.

Keep them small, Crop   Shrink

Start telling the story with your visual prompts:

  • Key words
  • Your inspiration images
  • Examples of items that can help set the scene – cushions, curtains etc etc
  • Keep to your colour pallet and keep to images that support the mood and the story.
  • Keep it simple and to 1 page
  • Compress all the images
  • Save
  • Save as a pdf to make it a smaller file
Made in Word a mood board #happy #yellow #and #white, buildmumahouse mood board, Jola Piesakowska mood board happy

Made in WORD a mood board #happy #yellow #and #white

A mood board is your way of exploring a particular mood and explaining it to other people, your client. It’s a way for telling the mood story and use it before you start to choose what furnishings and decor items you will use.

Use autosave so that you save as you go – images are big files until you compress them down. Make a selection of mood boards in different colours so that you can explore this with you client before you make any décor choices. But most importantly: Make it in WORD and it’s simple and straightforward.

Go over to Buildmumahouse Pinterest boards and look through the selection of HAPPY interiors inspiration. Take a look at Buildmumahouse Instagram for my yellow colour inspiration. Leave a comment if you have any questions.

 

 

Buildmumahouse Guide: How to make Roman blinds?

April 19, 2017

I’m taking you through a step-by-step guide to making Roman blinds with or without a kit. Roman blinds transform your windows, are surprisingly quick to make and use very little fabric compared to curtains so you can really splurge on the quality or the fabric design or work to a tight budget. They can be used on the own or with curtains for a decadent layered effect. Roman blinds can be lined or sheer, thermal or blackout. Either way they are energy efficient even with double glazing and give you instant privacy.

A pleated or Roman blind folds into soft accordion pleats when it is drawn up and hangs straight when down. Roman blinds give your window a simple classic elegance and also make the most of subtle fabric designs.

There are two ways of making a Roman blind: with or without a kit.

Without a kit the blind is held in an up position by securing the cord to a cleat. Using a kit the blind pulls up using a chain loop, which is good for heavy and wide blinds. A kit can also be safer with children as there is not a long cord hanging down when the blind is pulled up. With a kit the blind will sit in any position you pull it to and the metal headrail will only need cutting to size and adjusting.

Making a Roman Blind without a Kit.

This is the most diy and the cheapest option. Making your Roman blind the old fashioned way.

Materials for a Roman Blind without a kit:

  1. Wooden batten depth 25mm and width 50mm measured to the width of your window recess (A)
  2. Velcro tape 25mm wide the same length as the batten
  3. A staple gun
  4. 4 screw-in eyelet hooks or pulleys
  5. Cord. Calculate 3 x 4 times the drop of the blind, at least
  6. A cleat
  7. A breakaway cord connector
  8. One length of narrow a flat bottom bar: a batten about 0.5 x 1.27cm for the bottom of the blind or a flat aluminium or plastic bar 2.5cm wide from Merrick Day
  9. Narrow tape with pockets for rods – Roman blind tape
  10. Roman blind rods or dowelling to fit into Roman blind tape
  11. 12mm split brass or plastic rings for cording available from www.merrick-day.com
  12. Matching sewing thread
  13. Tailor’s chalk
  14. Sewing kit including big sharp scissors and long pins
  15. Steam iron and ironing board
  16. Sewing machine

Measuring up Roman Blinds

  1. Attach the wooden baton to the top of the window recess and measure up the inside of the window. Staple the furry half of the 25mm Velcro tape to the front face of the batten.
roman blind, how to make a roman blind, measure a roamn blind, buildmumahouse

Measure the inside of the window

2. Measure the inside of the window for the width and the drop.

Use this measurement for the lining, if you plan on using one.

 

 

 

 

 

Seam allowances

Add 2.5cm on each side of width for side hems. Add 1cm for top hem and 5cm at the bottom hem. Cut your fabric to size on the straight grain. Lay the lining on to the back of the curtain fabric covering the window area using this photo as a placement guide. Pin in place.

 

 

 

3. Cut your fabric looking out for pattern repeats, its nice to get a shape to be centred. Press the side seams in to place. The side seams are double so turn in on each side 0.5cm, press in place, then turn in 2.5cm. Press, pin in place then stitch. Now turn down the top edge and press.

Turn in side seams and top seams.

4. Press the side seams in to place. The side seams are double so turn in on each side 0.5cm, press in place then turn in 2cm. Press then stitch. Now turn down the top edge 1cm and press.

5. Sew the Velcro tape to the back of the blind, 0.5cm from the top edge covering the raw edge. Sew both edges of the Velcro tape. This is going to attach to the Velcro stapled onto the batten.

For lined blinds make sure the lining is flat and all edges are all covered into these seams and attached behind the Velcro.

Turn in side seams and top seams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Make the bottom hem, turn over 1cm and press, turn it up again to make a 4cm pocket to fit your dowelling or batten.

For lined blinds make sure that your lining is lying flat, tucked in neatly and covered by this seam.

roman blinds marking out folds

 

 

 

7. Work out the width of your pleats so that they are even across the blind, 10cm is an average width or divide by 6. Mark each pleat with tailors chalk. Sew Roman Blind tape across the back of each pleat, one by one. Insert the rod or dowelling in each tape pocket.

This tape has a guide for the split rings, push a split brass curtain between the tape and the guide. Line up the rings  to the top of the blind.

 

8. Trim the rods 2cm shorter than the width of the blind. Insert the rods and the bottom batten, slip stitch by hand the ends of these “pockets”.

9. On each rod pocket mark the centre point of the blind and slip a brass ring in place through the guide in the tape. Repeat 5cm in from each side edge of the blind on each pocket.

10. Line up three of the the screw-in eyelets or pulleys on the top batten with the rings attached to the blind.
Fix the fourth eyelet or pulley to the right of the blind on the window recess. Lower down attach a cleat and an acorn near the bottom of the cord.
11. Hang the blind: Attach firmly the Velcro strip on the top of the blind to the matching Velcro strip on the batten.

12. For the cording stage I found this drawing – it explains it all really well.

c) Michael A Hill www.idealhome.com

Starting at the bottom ring with a knot, thread the cord up vertically to match the corresponding eyelet on the batten and over to the eyelet on the side of the frame, down to the cleat. Repeat this with each row.

 

 

The cleat should be positioned as high as possible so its well out of the way of children. Consider attaching a breakaway cord connector at the end of the cords and for safety don’t knot all three cords together to form a loop.

If you buy a Roman Blind Kit choose one that is fully child safe and that the control chains are adjustable length, not a continuous loop. Breakaway string controls and Parts can be purchased from www.merrick-day.com

buildmumahouse, interiors, lifestyle, windows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Now?

It’s important that you do visit my Youtube channel to watch the safety film about Roman Blinds, especially if you have children or if kids visit your home.

Roman Blind supplies can be found at www.merrick-day.com

Roman Blind Kits can be bought at Merrick Day

murtra_deluxe_roman_kit_instructions

Or from Terry’s Fabric’s https://www.terrysfabrics.co.uk/

Terrys_Cassette-Roman-Blind-Kit_Fitting

So now you have been introduced to Roman blinds and how to make them, go over to Buildmumahouse Pinterest for lots of inspirational fabrics and looks. If you would like to consider other window decor ideas visit Buildmumahouse guides to making curtains or my blog post about automated roller blinds.

If you have any tips, questions and would like to share your Roman blind projects leave me a message on my comments board. Love to hear from you.

 

 

Buildmumahouse Guide: How to make curtains?

April 13, 2017
how to make curtains, sewing, craft, diy, curtains, buildmumahouse guide, jolapiesakowska, lifestyle

In 1981 my mum bought me a book, “Sewing” by Ann Ladbury, the Mary Berry of Sewing. This has been my bible of curtain making ever since and I am now sharing Ann’s brilliantly simple book with a few tips from me and my mum.

In my previous Buildmumahouse guide I explained how to measure up for curtains. Once you have all your measurements and you’ve got your fabric here’s how to make them up.

Making a curtain is simple, the only sewing skills that you need are cutting a straight line and sewing a straight line. Add to that using a steam iron: my top tip is press every seam as you go.

Now you’re ready, let’s go

What equipment do I need to make curtains?

IKEA BUILDMUMAHOUSE SEWING CURTAINS

IKEA sewing kit has most things you need to make curtains

  • Pair of long, sharp scissors for cutting fabric
  • Steam Iron
  • Long Pins
  • Tape measure or a metre long, wooden ruler
  • Loads of matching thread
  • Loads of basting thread in a contrasting colour
  • Seam unpicker
  • A big space to lay everything out

I prefer cutting and pinning out curtains on the floor, especially if you have fitted carpets (so the fabric doesn’t slip around) …but remove rugs before cutting the cloth! Otherwise find a big table to lay the curtains out.

Making Unlined Curtains

curtains, sewing , making curtains, how to make curtains, Ann Ladbury, BUILDMUMAHOUSE BUILD MUM A HOUSE, Jola Piesakowska

C)Mitchell Beazley 1976        MAKING UNLINED CURTAINS STEPS 1,2,3

  1. Measure your window following instructions here and cut your fabric to size. Fold in a double hem 1.25cm down each side, press into a crisp fold and baste or pin into place. Machine stitch the edges down but hand sew velvets and satins. Measure and double fold up the bottom hem. Press and pin in place, stitch by hand or machine.
  2. For a crisp look on soft fabrics, stiffen the top of the curtains with iron- on interfacing. Cut a strip 1,25cm narrower than your top hem and don’t overlap the side hems. Iron the strip 1.25cm in from the raw or cut edge. If  you are not gathering the curtain using heading tape, turn down the raw edge 1.25 cm over it and then turn down the top hem, press with the steam iron and pin or baste in place. If you are using heading tape for the gatehring then cut the interface the same depth as the top hem and iron in place it along fabric edge.
  3. Stitch the top hem by machine. If the heading of the curtain is not to be gathered so that you can show off the fabric design  sew hooks or rings to the top edge.

Choosing the right heading tape

c) Mitchell Beazley 1976 CHOOSING A CURTAIN HEADING

I can’t better Ann Ladbury’s instructions but my top tips are

Don’t knot the loose cords at the end of the curtain use a Ruflette Cord Tidy. If you take your curtains down to dry clean them, or wash them you will need to undo the cords and flatten out the curtains. Untying the knotted cords is a real pain.

how to make curtains, buildmumahouse, rufflette cord tidy, lifestyle , curtains, diy

Just remember to position the loose cords at the outside edge of each curtain.

Click here for a guide to width allowances for the different heading tapes and always double check with the sales person.

How to Make Lined Curtains

There are a lot of different weights for curtain lining, the heavy blackout lining is almost rubbery on one side and its also good with draughty windows. Because the blackout linings are bulky I always make them as a detachable lining, really handy when you take large curtains to the dry cleaners, see below. For a really simple explanation of how to make up a curtain just look through figures 1, 2, and 3. It’s all there…

sewing ann ladbury, sewing book, buildmumahouse, build mum a house, how to make curtains, lifstyle, forever home

c) Mitchel Beazley 1976   Anne Ladbury Sewing   HOW TO MAKE LINED CURTAINS

John Lewis in Kingston, London is the best department store for all things curtains an lots of valuable advice, Oxford Street used to be the best place for all your curtain and it’s still ok. Recently I have swopped my allegiance for Dunelm they have a really thorough haberdashery and their collection of fabrics is small but good value for money and a good selection of Orla Keiley. IKEA do a cheap range of fabrics in their Scandinavian styles and some simple haberdashery at hard to beat prices.

dunelm, buildmumahouse, how to make curtains, guide, lifestyle, diy

On my Pinterest page I have collected loads of fabric designs and curtains styles, click through to BuildMumahouse to look through and get inspired…

 

The Buildmumahouse Guide: How to Measure up Curtains

April 10, 2017
build mum a house guide, how to make curtains, diy, sew curtains, sewing, vintage, 70s sewing book

You’ve got some fabric that you love.

How do you make curtains?

In 1981 I had some 1950’s fabric and I wanted to my some cool curtains for my flat and my mum bought this book.  “Sewing by Ann Ladbury” It looked so 70’s even then. But among smock tops, big cuffs and patch pockets shaped like an apple, I found the clearest ever guide to making curtains, blinds, cushions and furniture covers. So I’m sharing my copy of Ann Ladbury’s book, I’ve scanned pictures from the book and with my own experience here’s the first step: Buildmumahouse easy guide to making your own curtains.

The Easy Guide to Measuring up Curtains

If possible install curtain rods and tracks first, it’s easier to measure up and get the length right once that’s are in place. Attach spring wires, rods for nets inside the window recess close to the top of the recess.

make a curtain, how to make a curtain, measure a curtain, buildmumahouse guide to making curtains

Curtain inside window measurements

Curtains and nets hanging inside the window recess? Measure width and length A and B.

For width multiply A measurement by 2.5 or 3 times for a fuller curtain.

For the curtain length, this is called the drop, measure B and add 20cm for hems, subtracting 2.5cm to clear the window cill

 

how to make curtains, how to measure curtains, buildmumahouse guide, build mum a house, buildmumahouseMeasuring up for a curtain outside the window recess:

Attach your curtain rod wider than the curtain. Calculate this so that when you pull back the curtains they will hang either side clear of the window, allowing more daylight into the room. At night a generous amount of fabric at the side stops light seeping in the sides of the closed curtain.The length of your track or curtain pole depends on the space that you have, the thickness of the curtain when its bunched together and the proportions of the window.

Measurement C is the width of the curtain rod, this will be multiplied this by fullness ratio or curtain gather.

For a curtain that finishes at the window cill measure D, add 20 cm for hems and then subtract 2.5cm so the curtain doesn’t drag on the window cill. If it’s a draughty window let the curtain hang slightly lower than the window cill.

Measurement E is for a long or curtain, enhancing the illusion of a long elegant window. Take the measurement from the track down to where you would like it to end. If its floor length add 20cm for hems and subtract 2.5cm to prevent dragging.

If you are choosing a wide curtain tape you might have a choice of 3 different positions or pockets for the curtain hooks. If you plan to use the hook pockets along the bottom row of the tape you will hide the curtain track, and remember to allow enough extra length to your curtain length or “drop”.

c) “Sewing Enjoy perfect dressmaking, creative home sewing anbd decorative needlework” By Ann Ladbury 1976

How do I calculate the width of my curtains?

The width is also known as the fullness ratio. The fullness ratio depends on the header style you’ve chosen, for example multiple by:

Panel Curtain x 1

Pencil Pleat Curtain x 2 to2.5

Double Pleat Curtain x 1.9 to 2.3

Tab Top Curtain x 1.2

Sheers x 2 to 3

How much fabric should I buy for curtains?

When you buy your fabric for curtains, the sales person will need the raw measurements. They will help you calculate the final length and width allowances. Things to add to your calculations:

  1. Extra length allowance for patterns to match up.
  2. How wide is the fabric? If each curtain is wider than one length of fabric you will be joining widths of fabric so bear in mind you might have to make a small allowance for those seams.
  3. Header tape style and the depth of the gather in the curtain.
  4. Position of the curtain hooks on your header tape hooks.
  5. Allowance on the edges if you plan more than one curtain panel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turn the lights on with a wide rocker…!

April 5, 2017

They were all the rage in the 1970’s and have proved to be spot on after your 70’s. I’m talking wide rockers, wide light switch rockers.

I installed MK Logic Plus wide rocker switches in my mum’s house and they have proved to be a delight for her to use. Easy on her arthritis…and as they are MK they have an light, smooth but positive switch action. Last year they went in at number 7  in  my Top 10 items in a forever home.

BUT I just didn’t realise how much of crush I had developed on my mum’s light switches over the last year…

…until my son moved into a 1970’s built flat.

I went all swoonie over his light switches. Super wide rockers, the type that you can switch on with the palm of your hand, almost as big as a polaroid picture. Needless to say I went home and by midnight had located them on Ebay.

 

Tenby Clipper switches as found on Ebay

Tenby Clipper wide rockers as seen on Ebay

They’re big, bright and easy to use and the rocker has a nice tactile texture on the surface….great when you’re trying to find the light switch in the dark.

Then the text arrived that changed all of that.

Sleek and Chic JUNG Switch Classic LS 990

jung, buildmumahouse, light switches

C) Jung Maanufaktur

My son did a bit of a dig around and found these: Jung wider rocker switches, sleek, tactile and in a massive range of colours.

Jung wide rocker

He’s using primary colours in his new flat and has chosen these Le Corbusier colour palette JUNG – totally unique.

The light switch is called the JUNG Switch Classic LS 990 and it comes in the 63 original Les Couleurs® Le Corbusier. I’m going to have to do a separate post on Corbusier colours so watch this space, but in the meantime what is so special about his colour system is that each of the 63 colours that JUNG Classic LS 990 switches come in can be combined with any other in Corbusier’s colour system.

JUNG Switch Classic LS 990 Corbusier Colours

This is so fantastic for anyone at any age – it opens up so many design possibilities and a lot of fun as Corbusier JUNG light switches also match the KEIM colour palette. KEIM paints are totally natural, water-borne, liquid silicate paints with an extremely durable, colourfast, sustainable protective finish environmentally friendly and formulated to ensure a longlife, colourfast, protective finish with low maintenance.

Keim colour palettes, colour, buildmumahouse, paint, corbusier

Keim colour palettes

Lightness coefficients: When colour provides safe navigation.

When it comes to accessibility, the colour concept should also take into account that some people may have restricted vision and perception of colour. By using high-contrast colours of different saturation and lightness levels may help to improve navigation and perception of space.

According to the DIN 32975 Standard for “designing of visual information in the public area for accessible use”, particular contrast values have to be taken into account. To calculate them and to select the desired colour combination, the lightness coefficients of the respective shades are required.

This means that you can pick a light switch colour that will give you a visual contrast between switch and background making navigation within the room easier: perfect for making your home ageproof or providing accessibility but fitting in with your personal style.

But what I love about these switches is that they feel like a quality product when you use them, the screws are obscured and you have a  functional object that looks sleek and chic. The finish is a matt because these switches have been handpainted using a special process. No need to compromise on your style just so that you can build your age proof home.

JUNG Switch Classic LS 990 in Orange Clair 32081, buildmumahouse, build mum a house, corbusier, light switch, big rocker

Find more Corbusier colours and JUNG switches on Buildmumahouse Pinterest. Installation of Jung switches is a bit baffling as there are visible no screws, visit my YouTube channel for instructions  https://youtu.be/QTf2ePYa4X0.

Look no wires! Qmotion Automated blinds.

April 2, 2017

I first saw the Qmotion blinds at Decorex and went WOW! I need. I want. I love them! If you’re into nets and curtains you won’t get it but if you like the streamlined look of a sheer blind in the day or a blackout blind at night, you’re going to get why these are great.

 

c) QMotion

 

I’m 5 foot nothing much and can’t reach the “acorn” on the sprung roller blinds behind the sink in the kitchen. I wobble around bedroom furniture to get to the strings on the side of the IKEA blind. I love the idea of an automated blind system to solve these problems for me.

Qmotion blinds break the mould in automated blinds and shades. These are motorised blinds that are controlled wirelessly and don’t need to be 240v hard wired in for their power.

The Qmotion System

They’re battery powered and designed to be quieter, smoother, more efficient and sleeker than any other automated blinds out there. The inventor Willis Mullet worked in the top end of the automated American garage door industry for years so he knows a thing about smooth mechanics…if it works for all of those little red Corvettes out there it works for me.

This is what he came up with: D cell batteries, mechanism, springs and counterbalances all located in the actual roller part of the blind. Not much fatter than an average roller blind. Quiet, smooth mechanism. Point a remote control or even your iphone at the blind and it smoothly and quietly rolls up and down.

Qmotion demo at Decorex

Qmotion is perfect for me and perfect for anyone who wants easy to use blinds and doesn’t want the hassle and cost of getting an electrician to wire the electrics and then a decorator to tidy up the walls. This is a huge plus for anyone with reduced mobility who doesn’t want the upheaval of a building project just to have some blinds that make their life a bit easier.

Once installed, the batteries powering the blind should last 5 years with average use. The roller has been designed so that once you need to change the batteries you don’t have to remove the roller from the bracket. And if you want to get your hands on the blind there is a manual over ride so you can tug at the blind and it smoothly snaps back to its previous position.

Qmotion automated blinds

Qmotion battery enclosure, the batteries and controls are all inside the roller behind a clip off cover.

So you don’t worry about the mechanism or the installation. You can spend all of your efforts on selecting fabric and colours to match your room, your taste and your lifestyle. On the website there are nearly 600 fabrics to choose from and you can order free swatches either from your supplier or from Qmotion directly.

Some of the fabric choices from Qmotion

My instagram is full of colours go to https://www.instagram.com/buildmumahouse/?hl=en and get inspired!

Go to Pinterest for lots of blinds and shades inspiration and links https://uk.pinterest.com/Buildmumahouse/buildmumahouse-blinds-and-shades/

buildmumahouse, build mum a house, qmotion shades, qmotion blinds, john lewis blinds, john lewis shades, roller blind, motorised roller blind, automatic roller blind, taupe interior

 

 

 

How we transformed our 1930’s fireplace in 2 days

March 31, 2017
buildmumahouse, build mum a house, jolapiesakowska, jola piesakowska stove, blog

It’s been an exciting week. It’s only taken two years of decision making… but we’ve done it. On Friday we had a modern multifuel stove installed into our original fireplace. It’s transformed our living room and looks fantastic.

Our fireplace still has the original 1930’s ceramic tiled surround and lovely Art Deco details, like the wavy lines decorating the mantle. We love the look and have even picked up a mantle clock with the same details. Since we have lived here we’ve have been using the ‘original’ ugly gas guzzling fire on high days and holidays or just for drying off the dogs after a walk in the rain We thought that a real fire would turn the fireplace into a cozy focal point for our living room.

STOVE SNOOZE BLOG SMALL

We started researching by talking to friends and family, digging around Pinterest and found that most people go for ripping out the old fire surround to make a large modern space for an amazing freestanding stove.

Continue Reading…

The Walk In Shower Solution That Helps You Keep your Independence in Style.

March 26, 2017
walk in shower, buildmumahouse, jola piesakowska, bathroom aging in placeaging in place,

Where can you find a non- slip, walk in shower that can be fitted quickly, in awkward spaces, without major disruption and LOOKS FANTASTIC? Have a look at the Fiora Elax shower trays that will surprise you as they aren’t actually a tray as we know it!

I recently discovered this Spanish shower room manufacturer – Fiora. I love their modern classic styling and high quality production and their company goal that sums up everything I look for in a bathroom product

“all our work must not lose sight of its main goal, which is that its use must improve the everyday life of people”

and I think that they follow through their belief that their range of bathroom products are designed to offer

“…multiple and diverse solutions.”

That’s exactly what I’m looking for in a walk in shower, good design, style, high quality and a product that is age proof and can be suitable for anyone with reduced mobility.

The Fiora Elax range looks fantastic, the styling is high end and very urban. It’s a shame that the catalogues emphasis glass walls and are focused only on the able bodied, there’s no reference to the installation of a shower seat or that they actually do cater for the needs of aging or arthritic joints.

It’s Not a Walk In Shower Tray – it’s a Mat!

I think that the Fiora Elax walk-in shower system is a solution worth considering for anyone looking for a shower tray that is non-slip, has a ‘give’ underfoot, warm to touch, and soft to stand on.

 

Bathroom, walk in shower, jola piesakowska, jolapiesakowska, walkin shower, walk in shower, bathroom trends, age in place, adapting a bathroom

copyright Fiora Elax

 

The shower tray is made of a flexible material that has a “give” making standing less tiring and it is warm to the touch – ideal for arthritic feet

 

 

 

 

bathroom makeover, walk in shower, aging in place, shower, adapting bathroom

Copyright Fiora Elax

 

 

The surface is rated at group 2 non-slip which means that it is a surface that is non-profiled (sleek) and has an even surface with a gritty texture.

 

Copyright Fiora Elax

 

 

 

and all of this is made possible because this tray arrives as a rolled up mat!

 

 

The shower tray mat comes in a range of tasteful colours which can be selected to contrast or blend in with the bathroom floor. Because this tray can be fitted level with the floor, which helps mobility issues, you can combine texture, warmth and a contrasting colour to help users with impaired vision.

 

The Perfect Solution for an En Suite Walk In Shower.

One of the problems about installing a walk in shower as an en suite without tearing the whole house apart, is that the shower needs to fit in with what space already exists. This is often a very big issue when you are installing a shower for someone who doesn’t want their home disrupted, and who isn’t feeling up to be part of a major building project.

This shower tray can fit practically anywhere. The material can be easily cut to size and shape using a knife. If you are planning to fit a shower seat you still need to look for a suitable wall to attach it to… but Fiora Elax shower tray mat can be cut and trimmed to size and shape that’s how it can fit most places.

bathroom renovation, age in place ensuite shower solution, jola Piesakowska, jolapiesakowska, buildmumahouse, build mum a house, Fiora Elax

Copyright Fiora Elax

Easy Access Shower Replacing a Bath?

It’s worth mentioning at this point that Fiora also make a range of matching and complimentary wall panels that take out some of the headache of ripping out the bath and installing a walk in shower.

Remove the old bath. Position the panels horizontally to cover the area where the untiled walls from behind the bath are exposed. Fit the shower drainage system and and lay the Fiora Elax mat to cover the footprint of the old bath.

Horizontal PANELS replacing a bath with an easy access shower

The Fiora Elax shower tray mat works like any other walk in shower tray, there are a range of stainless steel drainage grates and there are a lot of installation guides on their website. For more looks from Fiora have a look at my Instagram page buildmumahouse.

I would love to hear your comments, tips or your experiences of installing walk in showers, its such a popular thing to do these days and there are loads of people looking to share their experiences, do post them here on the Buildmumahouse blog.

 

 

 

My review of Vivienne Talsmat’s Rejuva Bar: The Snack Bar that’s raising the bar on nutrition

October 26, 2016
Rejuva burn Rejuva bars Vivienne Talsmat Rejuva Detox Rejuva WArrior

Have you actually read what’s in a ‘healthy’ snack bar? I have recently become a label reader and I’m flabbergasted when I read the small print of some of them. I’m looking for a vegan, no sugar, gluten free, Craving Blasting Bar to fill the snack gap and I don’t want to spoil all of the progress that I have recently made to getting my health and energy levels back.

rejuva-bar-rejuva-burn-at-work-vivienne-talsmat-jola-piesakowska-at-work slimming diet lose weight smoothie bar complate meal replacement

No panic! I’ve started keeping Rejuva Burn smoothie bars in my handbag Rejuva Smoothie on the go.

For the past two months I’ve been detoxing and fat burning with the help of Vivienne Talsmat and I’ve been using her Rejuva smoothies along with her eating plan. I’ve lost over 2 stone and loads of inches. I’m rejuvenated: hot flushes have calmed right down, my jangly nerves have subsided, my energy levels are up, I’ve got loads more vim and vigour. I feel at least ten years younger. I’m not just coping I’m thriving.

I don’t want to lose this feeling so I’ve become super diligent about eating the right thing at the right time of day….but sometimes I can’t fit a healthy meal in my day and I just need to unwrap a snack bar. If I don’t have a healthy snack that satisfies I’ll only get super hungry and eat a whole load of nonsense.

Before I tried Rejuva Bars, I used to rummage around supermarkets and health food shops to find a snack bar that tasted good and ticks all the boxes that suit my new healthy food regime. My plan is to have a snack bar in my handbag or in my car glove compartment on stand by for when I’m taking my mum out to the shops on a Saturday, out and about or when I’m working and can’t get away from my desk …or that petrol station kiosk moment.

I was over the moon when Vivienne Talsmat asked me to try her new Rejuva Bars. Knowing that Vivienne is a complete nutrition expert, is passionate about sourcing quality organic ingredients and cares about the taste factor in her smoothies range, I was keen to get my teeth into these bars.

Rejuva Bars Range

Rejuva Burn Bars

On the road test I focused on the Rejuva Burn bars. I’ve been using the Rejuva Burn smoothies for a couple of weeks with great fat burning  results.

At first look, love the packaging, clean and bright and simple. However, when I read the label – bit confusing… there doesn’t seem to be anything in it – just a load of fruit and Rejuva smoothie powder. Exactly…that’s the difference – Rejuva Bars are a new concept in healthy food as you go, Vivienne Talsmat has designed and formulated these to be as filling and as nutritious as her Rejuva Burn smoothies.

Same size as a snack bar but the Rejuva bar feels nice and heavy and when you take your first bite it’s a lot denser and creamier than a snack bar or the usual nutrition bar. These bars are delicious, not too sweet and a good mix of interesting flavours and textures in each bite. The Rejuva detox adds to the mix of textures so that I found myself spending time enjoying each mouthful, eating slowly and surprising myself that I didn’t just wolf it down. Vivienne explains the flavour combinations are more than just based on taste:

Apricot is low on calories and high on fiber content which improves your metabolic rate … it also maintains optimum fluid balance keeping you hydrated. This high soluble fibre content also stimulates gastric juices to break down fatty acids in food and makes the absorption of nutrients.

Reservatrol in mulberries is a naturally occurring antioxidant that has been shown to have anti-ageing properties as well as weight loss effects through its ability to improve physical endurance and provide increased energy levels.

and the benefit of adding her Rejuva Burn smoothie mix:

The inclusion of the Rejuva Burn powder provides the bars with a unique combination of green tea, baobab, Maca and alpha-lipoic acid which together have a powerful fat burning advantage. This is reinforced by the inclusion of bio-assimilable proteins that are scientifically proven to have fat-burning outcomes. A mix of proteins – brown rice, split pea, barley grass and hemp – also provide a complete amino acid profile.

My Verdict on Rejuva Burn Bars:

One bar does make me feel full, satisfied and with a feeling that I just ate something as clean and nutritious and as tasty as one of Vivienne’s smoothies! (I have heard that some people can’t manage a whole bar, not sure what that says about me…)

My favourite flavour? It’s got to be apricot… but I love apricots and I was delighted to find has got a good mix with the other fruits and tastes right. Yum.

I wasn’t sure about mulberries at first glance, more from ignorance really. However, Vivienne’s knack for interesting flavour combinations has made me a convert. Yes I love that one too.

Rejuva Sport Bars

rejuva-sport-warrior-vivienne-talsmat-buildmumahouse

Since I started on Vivienne Talsmat’s detox and fat burn regime I have so much more energy, combined with the novelty of my ‘activity tracker device’ I’m happily hitting my walking targets every day. Next week, I’m ready to start running for the first time, ever, and I plan to start exercising regularly again. I’ve been to the shops and bought some fancy patterned running pants, I have had a sneak taste of the cherry and vanilla Rejuva Sport bar, and it’s delicious. I’m all set to go!

If you would like to read more about the Rejuva System, click here.

In a couple of weeks I will report back on how I get on with running and fitting it into my life, work, family and caring commitments and how the Rejuva Sport bars fit into my new fitness and fat burning regime.

Pop over to Buildmumahouse Instagram and Twitter @Buildmumahouse1 and follow me!

 

Mobility issues and LIDL- #LIDLSURPRISES

September 19, 2016
wheelchair-checkout-and-trolley-lidl-suprises-buildmumahouse jola piesakowska

Is Lidl the only UK supermarket that has useful stuff for the elderly, disabled and anyone with reduced mobility? Are they tackling mobility issues head on?

Today, Sunday 18th September 2016, I would definitely say YES!

lidl-suprises-wheelchair-and-trolley-at-checkout-buildmumahouse

We’re all queuing up at Lidl checkout, today.

Doing my Sunday shop today, I came across a whole range of mobility aids that are really well priced and really useful. It is fantastic to find these products on the High Street and also to find a supermarket that addresses the needs of its customers. From items that help to open a jam jar, to low mobility exercise kit, these are basic items that are hard to track down and being sold at very pocket friendly price.

 

lidl-buildmumahouse-shower-stool

lidl-shower-stool-buildmumahouse

Right in the middle of the shop – no hiding of ‘disabled items’ in a corner, Lidl’s shower stool is proudly displayed.

This Shower Stool is not great for my mum’s needs – she really does need arm rests and back support, but for a basic Shower Stool, this is definitely Lidl addressing mobility issues – yes its true, #lidlsurprises. The shower seat height is adjustable, it has non-slip feet and would allow anyone who needs a bit of support the chance to enjoy their shower, and even give their feet a good scrub without fear of falling or slipping. When I was recovering from a broken leg, this stool would have been ideal.

Arm and Leg Trainer

The next item that caught my eye was the Lidl Arm and Leg trainer. This is such a good exercise item. From a seated position you can exercise your legs or arms and help yourself keep moving.

  • 2-in-1 effective training device for targeted strengthening of arm and leg muscles
  • Can be used whilst seated
  • Built-in computer with 7 functions and large,
  • easy-to-read LCD display – shows workout duration, speed, distance and calories burnt
  • Adjustable resistance for a range of strength levels
  • Size approx. (cm): W42 x H31 x D38
  • Max. 100kg

arm-and-leg-trainer-lidl-buildmumahouse

Kitchen Aids

My favourite items are the kitchen aids. A bargain at £2.49 and so useful.

lidl-surprise-pricing

#lidlsurprises: My Top Three Lidl Kitchen Aids

Grip Impaired Power Bottle Opener

lidl-bottle-opener-buildmumahouse-lidlsurprise

Didn’t know such a thing existed but this exactly what I need to open screw top bottles of fizzy water. The Power Bottle Opener is ideal if you have a  weakened grip, the extra turning power you get from this gadget makes a huge difference. Also a must for carers.

Grip Impaired Lid Opener

lidl-lid-opener-buildmumahouse lidlsurprises

Did you know a tool like this opens vacuum-sealed jars? For years I have followed the advice of a friend’s granny and I bash the edge of the jam jar lid on my worktop marble slab until I dent it so much the vacuum seal is broken. Well, no more! I now have the Lidl Lid Opener: #lidsurprises again!

The Nail Saver: Ring-Pull Can Opener

ring-can-opener-lidl-buildmumahouse-lidlssurprises

What can I say other than no more broken nails and no more bent tea spoon handles. Yes, I bought the Lidl Ring-Pull Can Opener. I also bought one for my mum so that she doesn’t do a Yuri Geller and bend all of her spoons either.

I Didn’t Buy These but I’m Sure Someone Will:

Lidl Key Turning Aid

key-turning-aid-lidl-buildmumahouse-lidlsurprises

I bought my mum one of these from an online supplier a couple of years ago. They are great for anyone with arthritis but my mum found them too cumbersome and refused to carry it in her handbag… so when I built her house, I bought a front door lock that has proved to be easy to unlock. But I’m sure someone will find that key turning aids are perfect for their needs.

jam-jar-opener-lidsurprises-buildmumahouse

If you are a regular Lidl shopper you will recognise what’s gone on here – the item has been taken out of the box and I couldn’t find any others still boxed up.

This is a jam jar opener, its a cumbersome, ugly thing but apparently it works.

#LidlSuprises?

I love the packaging design, well thought out, clear and also witty (see how 2 boxes next to each other can make up the image). Pricing is fantastic. Usefulness spot on. It’s great to see such a wide range of simple and effective mobility aids in a local supermarket and not just in a online disabled catalogue.

Massive thumbs up to Lidl, but I do wish these kitchen aids weren’t in blue and white.

Think outside the box! You’ve go the products right. Now give us some COLOUR, Lidl, we want our kitchens and homes to look lovely and personal.

5 Easy Steps to Make Your Garden Accessible and Enjoyable

September 18, 2016
Sunny garden living #london #tooting #balham #palm #interior #inspirationoftheday #Blissful #exterior #exteriordesign #textile #pattern #foliage #leag #green buildmumahouse Jola Piesakowska garden design

“I love my garden but I don’t have time for it.” “I miss my garden but I’m too old and too ill to go out there and do any gardening.”  At Buildmumahouse I’ve found that there are 5 easy steps that you can take to make your garden, patio or balcony more accessible.

It’s really important for anyone old, weakened by illness, depressed or less able …and their carers alike… to take a break, open up their horizons and enjoy all of the benefits of focusing on the wonder of nature. Doing a bit of gardening, helping plants thrive and picking the fruits of one’s patch is so good for all of us.

Plant bulbs in Autumn to cheer you up in Spring bulbs-buildmumahouse-jola-piesakowska

Plant bulbs in Autumn to cheer you up in Spring

These are 5 simple steps to make you garden more accessible and enjoyable…

Continue Reading…

Rejuva Detox miracle smoothies by Vivienne Talsmat My Review

September 9, 2016
Jola Piesakowska Buildmumahouse Rejuva Detox Vivienne Talsmat avocados

Two weeks ago I went on a detox. I’d been at the end of my tether for a while. I had become a menopause flushed, worn down, multi-tasking carer: a bad case of the blues, snappy, edgy, demotivated, exhausted and desperate for a good night’s sleep.

My mum kept hinting that I should watch the Superfoods programme on tv, she passed me the free ‘rejuvenation’ diet magazines from her Saturday paper. In response I lurched from snapping back at her, to nodding and grunting “mhm” absent-mindedly as my foggy mind raced through a jumbled list of things to do.

Finally, my mum put her foot down and told me to sort myself out.

I contacted Vivienne Talsmat.

If you don’t know about Vivienne, then Google her

….NO! WAIT…not now!

Wait until you’ve read my review of her detox smoothies – detox miracles.

Jola Piesakowska Buildmumahouse Rejuva Detox Vivienne Talsmat avocados berwick street Continue Reading…

How to cure a slow draining shower plughole – fast.

August 27, 2016
buildmumahouse, jola piesakowska,shower, cphart, jee-o, slow draining shower

Shower drain slow? I installed a low-profile  shower for my mum and I didn’t have a clue what to do when it started to drain REALLY slowly. My sister’s on holiday so it fell to me to sort this one out.

This is how I did it. Bought the miracle solution my mum told me to buy and poured it down the side of the plughole to cure the slow draining (and now smelly) shower plughole

….It didn’t work.

Looked it up on YouTube: how do I cure a slow draining shower plughole?  How to unblock a shower trap… firstly, it’s called a shower trap and that’s what it does, trap hair and soap scum.

Next, unscrew the chrome top.

buildmumahouse shower trap plughole

Lift and reveal. What I saw next has been banned so I can only tell you one thing: that trap had done it’s job over the last year, and it wasn’t pretty.

buildmumahouse shower trap

This shower trap has been cleaned as the original photo have been “banned” LOL.

According to YouTube I had to now unscrew the plastic trap from the chrome dome top and clean up the mess. But the bloke in the demo had only a few stray hairs to contend with, plus today was a very hot day.

Buildmumahouse shower trap screw Buster bathroom unblocker

That’s the screw you are meant to undo to release the blockage, when you can get to it.

Don’t Panic! I knew how to clean this up. Or should I say, Buster knows. I had been working on the Buster advertising account since day one and knew that it dissolves hair, skin and scum. All I needed to do was bring on the Buster!

No idea why I hadn’t thought of leaving a bottle for my mum to use before now? 

Quick trip to Sainsbury’s.. A basin, rubber gloves, a bottle of Buster Bathroom Unblocker and I left the tangled shower trap to soak and the hair and soap residue to dissolve. Time to relax in the sunshine.  This afternoon the shower trap was given a good wash with lots of hot water and a brush – all clear – and no need to dismantle the shower trap.

buildmumahouse Jola Piesakowska buster bathroom unblocker chrome shower trap blocked sink slow draining shower

I told you it was easy!  By this evening, I’m happy to say that trap was screwed back in its place and the shower waste is flowing fast and freely. I’ve left a bottle of Buster Bathroom Unblocker with my mum and if she squirts a bit down the plughole whenever the shower is cleaned, then I don’t think we’ll be unscrewing that shower trap until next year.

I’ve heard some crazy ways of cleaning bathroom plugholes in my time – how do you clean yours?

 

Youth Boost – can it banish Hot Flush Frizz? Tresemme Hair Products Test

August 25, 2016

Shopping with my mum in Boots last week I was hunting down a shampoo/conditioner/setting lotion that would tame her flyaway hair.  On my hands and knees, bent double, on tip toes, I scanned every shelf while my mum stood leaning on her walking stick and trying not to laugh. Then Bingo! I came across a hair range that declared itself tailor made for the “first signs of aging hair” : Youth Boost by Tresemme. I love their normal conditioner so I bought some Youth Boost for myself, my mum bought some and I gave it a go… Here are the results according to me!

“Why use Youth Boost?”

“Now treat the first signs of aging hair, lack of body, dryness and dullness…This specialist solution system weightlessly …recharges your hair with youthful fullness (hair has more body – System use) softness and shine.”

Youth Boost Tresemme review Jola Piesakowska Buildmumahouse caring for carers beauty shampoo recommendations

In case you’re wondering why the tube is wonky – after one use I couldn’t get the shampoo tube to straighten up!

The Packaging

This is a product that I presume is targeting …40 plus? Looks like no-one has done their homework. Most of  my friends over 40 are getting arm extensions to read text and all of my friends over 50 wear glasses to read ANYTHING.

But we don’t wear them when we’re washing our hair.

That’s the first problem. The text on the bottles is too small. Sorry Youth Boost, this is pretty sloppy design: we would like the text larger so that when our hair and faces are wet, we can squint and make out SHAMPOO or CONDITIONER. Larger text and nicely designed, thank you.

Shampoo and Conditioner

Colour coding, nice idea: shampoo white, conditioner black  – or is it the other way round?

The plastic tube is nice and soft so easy to grip and the flip top lid had a precise open and close – and not too hard to open.

Fullness Emulsion Spray

The Fullness Emulsion Spray comes in a dinky bottle with a fancy nozzle. A nozzle that fell off in my shopping basket as I walked to the till and with which I battled when I  got home. I felt that the pump action button is too small – it’s ok for an index finger, but as you ‘age’ you would probably use your thumb to pump this up.  A bigger, shallower button would have been great.

The Youth Boost Products at Home

Shampoo Road Test

I have medium length hair and I had to use a lot of this shampoo to get everything covered, at least a third of a tube. It needs a lot of shampoo for a good wash, it rinses off nicely, but hair left tangled and straw like – with the texture that any girl who owned a Sindy would recognise.

Conditioner

Lovely, creamy, didn’t need to use much product and once on, helped me detangle my hair as I worked it through. I’ve already forgotten the smell but I just checked it again and its very ‘grown up’ like a salon smell.

Fullness Emulsion Spray

I know I have a lot of hair on my head but I bought this as its part of the ‘system’ that it claims to fullness, softness and shine. I colour my hair and it’s always been fine, it’s prone to dryness, fluffiness, it’s always been prone the morning bird’s nest at the back of my head and now that I am having hot flushes – FRIZZ. But it looks great, shiny and is soft with the right products and especially after a trip to my hairdressers, Andrew Jose.

At home, day to day, I always use an emulsion product before blowdrying so I tried the Youth Boost Fullness Emulsion Spray. I’ve already had my moan about the nozzle so here’s the verdict. Once dry and styled, yes my hair was fuller and bouncy that bit definitely works, but it feels so wrong. There is no softness, each hair feels like it has a lacquer, a product, on top of it, so it’s very dry in texture. After a day, that stuff seems to brush out and leaving my hair much softer. However, I had woken up with a dry bird’s nest at the back of my head and my hair was very tangly. This next comment and this is a biggie, it stopped my hair doing the Hot Flush Frizz. I don’t like the feel of the product residue on my hair but I can see myself using this on some work days for hair volume and protection from Hot Flush Frizz. Long term, I would be concerned about it drying out my hair and breakages.

The Buildmumahouse Carer Verdict

I chose this product for myself and paid for it, so I can be totally honest:

Packaging 2 / 10

Shampoo 0/10

Conditioner 9/10

Fullness Emulsion Spray 5/10

Banish Hot Flush Frizz 9/10

Tresemme Youth Boost review Buildmumahouse Jola Piesakowska beauty blogger caring for carers

The Buildmumahouse Mum 80+ Verdict

Packaging 6 / 10 my mum loves the flip top it was much better than screw tops for her athritic hands. Would prefer the labeling to be clearer.

Shampoo 9/10 Loved it

Conditioner 10/10 My mum is absolutely delighted her flyaway hair is smooth and soft and has become very manageable – it’s a hit!

 

 

I bought the Tresseme Youth Boost in Boots, there was a deal on which made it cheaper so worth trying out.

If any of you have tried Tresemme Youth Boost, let me know if it was good for you? Am I being too harsh?

Can you recommend anything that’s better at controlling Hot Flush Frizz?

Does this list of ingredients make sense to anyone? Maybe you understand what’s going on?

 

List of Ingredients for the Youth Boost Fullness Emulsion Spray
Aqua
Glycerin
Dimethiconol
VP/VA Copolymer
Tocopheryl Acetate
Linum Usitatissimum Seed Oil
Menthol
Benzophenone-4
Butylene Glycol
Cetrimonium Chloride
Citric Acid
Coceth-7
Cyclopentasiloxane
Disodium EDTA
Hydroxyethylcellulose
Isopropyl Alcohol
Laureth-23
Parfum
PEG/PPG-25/25 Dimethicone
PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil
PPG-1 -PEG-9 Lauryl Glycol Ether
Sodium Hydroxide
TEA-Dodecylbenzenesulfonate
TEA-Sulfate
DMDM Hydantoin
Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate
Laurtrimonium Chloride
Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone
Benzyl Alcohol
Benzyl Salicylate
Salicylate
Butylphenyl Methylpropional
Citronellol
Geraniol
Hexyl Cinnamal
Limonene
Linalool

 

 

 

 

 

The Buildmumahouse 10 step guide to your forever home.

August 16, 2016

I’ve found my forever home and I don’t intend to move. I love my home and I want to start making it the perfect nest for me. I don’t know what lies ahead for me health wise but I do want to grow old here. How can I make my home as ageproof and as beautiful as possible?

I’ve put together a top 10 step guide and suggestions based on my experiences as a carer and Buildmumahouse blogger – steps that anyone can make in order to future proof your forever home.

Step 1 – LED light bulbs

It’s an investment, they are expensive, but this takes minutes to implement and they have an immediate impact.

Over time you will find that as LED bulbs last a long time, 25,000 t0 50,000 hours, they will reduce the number of times in a year that you have to reach up, step on a ladder or chair and change the ceiling lights.

LEDs will reduce your lighting electricity bills, it’s estimated that this can be as much as a 90% saving.

Light up your life and make it easier to see. Support your eyesight by installing effective lighting and create the mood areas in your home that are favourite with interior designers. Install daylight / cool temperature lights in any food prep or craft areas and warm lights in cosy, relaxing areas. Light temperature can lift our mood – there are claims that daylight bulbs can be used to reduce the depressive symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The right LED can change your life

jola piesakowska buildmumahouse lighting led lights open plan living ageproof mood lighting

The living area lights are warmer and the kitchen lights are spots that are usually used in retail lighting- they are direction spotlights and the bulbs have a very wide but bright even light.

…And finally make sure areas such as steps and the stairs are well lit, read my blog post with more details here.

Step 2 – Install lever taps

Easy to use lever taps don’t have to make bathrooms and kitchens look like pre – op scrub room. There are so many fantastic, well designed lever taps on the market but do invest in taps with smooth, positive mechanisms.

When looking at lever taps for a sink or shower ask yourself: Do they look nice? Do they fit in with my styling? Can I can turn the water on using only the palm of a very soapy hand and with my eyes closed ? Will I have full control of the water flow and perhaps more importantly, temperature.

Jola Piesakowska bathroom taps lever CP Hart Arc taps

Classic styling lever taps, basin and matching shower controls

In the kitchen consider lever taps with a built in water filter, I did and now I don’t have to buy unwieldy bottles of filtered water in the supermarket every week.

Jola Piesakowska Buildmumahouse Brita water tap

Kitchen lever tap with built in lever taps for filtered water

Step 3 – Bathroom Wetroom

This is a biggie and it can have maximum impact on your life and maximum disruption when you are doing the building work.

Think shower, think sitting while showering, think grab rails, think wetroom. This is such a huge subject and a few blog posts in itself but here are the main points to ageproof a bathroom:

  • Get rid of any steps in the room, avoid trips.
  • Seriously consider installing a wet room, this will give you a bathroom with a level floor. For a really cool, modern take on it, think laterally about the shower design – read my review of Jee-O
  • Use non- slip flooring, have a look at the Forbo range, or seamed vinyl Altro safety flooring.

Altro flooring

  • Don’t need grab rails or a shower seat? Prepare the wall structures for that possibility by installing a 2x 2 wood frame in the appropriate areas of any stud walls.
  • If you don’t want to get rid of your bath right now but have the budget to remodel your bathroom, consider this trade tip: create a wetroom, get all the plumbing ready for a shower but install a bath in its place. It’s a ‘temporary’ arrangement and when you need to ditch the bath, the conversion will take days not weeks.

Step 4 – Bathroom Basin

Basin, lever taps and consider installing a basin with space to sit when you use it.

Jola Piesakowska Buildmumahouse bathroom sink ageproof bathroom

Spa style ageproof spa basin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take a look at the practical HEWI range, but also think pampering and perhaps even spa – either way do make sure the basin is well secured to the wall, in case you need to steady yourself.

HEWI basin with integrated grab rails and lots of surface area surrounding it

HEWI high end design design and disability focused.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 5 – Loo Pan

Look out for a toilet pan that is taller than average, to make lowering yourself easier. You don’t need to buy a ‘disabled’ loo pan just check the height of the ones that fit in with your design style.

If you have the space, select one that projects out from the wall as far as possible, this will make it easier to use with grab rails or transferring from a wheelchair.

Arthritic hands make it harder to use button flushes so do consider a cistern with a handle flush.

Step 6 – Door handles and locks

Review your door handles and door locks: a chunky door handle, well sprung, smooth in the hand and with good tonal variation from the door surface  is what you are looking for. This will help weakened or arthritic hands, and weakened eyesight.

Jola Piesakowska buildmumahouse door handle

Step 7 – Staircases

Improve the lighting on your stairs, think about low level lights that illuminate the steps or ceiling lights that illuminate the whole area.

Review the electrics – make sure that the lights can be switched on and off upstairs and downstairs and if you would like to make it mobility proof, consider adding a socket at the foot of the stairs.  So handy for the vacuum cleaning, but also makes the area ready to power a stairlift in the future. This is your forever home.

Buildmumahouse stairlist stannah stairlift jola piesakowska

Step 8 – Kitchen Cupboards

  • High visibility, easy to reach and it looks good that’s the mantra for kitchens – a base unit with deep drawers rather than a cupboard with doors improves acccess to cupboards. Look at how this can be applied to your choice of dishwashers and freezers.
  • Door handles – as with all doors, go for an easy to use, high contrast / visibility handle.
  • Waist height, side opening oven allows you to reach into the oven more easily and even better if there is a slide out shelf beneath it so you can pause and rest the hot and heavy casserole on it.
  • A high contrast worktop for good visibility, white is the best. I installed white sparkly in my mum’s house, looks great and does the job!
  • Lots of cold/white light shining down on the worktop, including under cupboard lights, everything illuminated.
jola piesakowska kitchen design

You can sit with your feet under the hob and you can option to make the height of this adjustable.

I reviewed Howden’s inclusive kitchens read through this… some of their ideas and features could work for you.

Step 9 – Electrics

Sourcing replacement light switches with wide rockers certainly is a budget installation and one that makes a difference for arthritic hands.

In this image you can see how I have clustered the wide rocker bedroom light switch with a central heating thermostat and the video door phone.

Control Centre!

Control Centre!

Step 10 – Easy Clean, Low Allergenic Flooring

Consider parquet, cork flooring, linoleum:

http://buildmumahouse.co.uk/2016/02/5-floorings-to-consider-for-people-living-with-allergies-or-asthma/

…with underfloor heating or rugs that have an anti- slip backing.

 

Wicanders cork flooring

c. Wicanders cork flooring

 

Step 10 a – Carers

Make a contingent for someone staying over, a spare bedroom or upgrade to a sofa bed.

Step 10 b – Let the Natural Light In

Read my blog post how double glass doors, use of mirrors, over sized windows and garden doors can lighten and brighten your home and increase its style.

 

All of these steps are covered individually in other posts on Buildmumahouse, have a look round for more detail. If you have any tips or hints on how you have adapted your home to make it ageproof and stylish WE ALL WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!!!

So please, share your comments below…

 

 

 

 

The right LED can change your life!

August 14, 2016
jola piesakowska pot luck restaurant cape town led lighting buildmumahouse Build Mum A House

Do you find that you can’t see as well at home in the evening? Do you need to ask for help to change light bulbs? Would you like to make savings on your electricity bills? Would you like create mood lighting in your home?

Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 23.11.03

LED bulbs may be the answer! I think that the right LED can change your life. There’s been a lot of change in light bulb technology and loads more choice in the shops since ordinary light bulbs started to be phased out. That’s why it can be tough getting a clear idea of what LED bulb to buy.

Long Life

For me LED bulbs were a no brainer. My mum can’t reach her ceiling light bulbs and the thought of her being stuck in the dark while I raced over to change a light bulb meant that I was delighted to buy bulbs that can have 25,000 even 50,000 hours of life. These new LED bulbs have a long life but always check the pack for life span – look at the amount of hours not days, after all you don’t know how many hours consitutes a day for some manufacturers! It seems that there isn’t an official standard for LED bulbs and reliability does vary between manufacturers

Energy Saving

Elderly people living on a budget could be tempted to skimp on how many lights they have on at home to make savings on the electricity bills. A combination of low light and poor eyesight means that tripping can become a real hazard. The good news is that LED bulbs use 90% less energy than a traditional light bulb (incadescent)… so you can make a saving on your bills as well as lighting your home well. Look out for bulbs that have gills on them – LED lights are cool to the touch and need to be kept cool. That’s exactly what those gills are doing: allowing the heat to dissipate.

Choosing the right bulb power can be confusing – I made up a chart that helps me decide which bulb to buy:

buildmumahouse jola piesakowska led lights lumens

This applies to UK power supplies

Next question… I’ve seen it on the pack. What on earth is Lumens? I found the chart below on a fact sheet produced by the Electrical Contractor’s Association website and it explains that lumens measures the amount of light radiated by the bulb. There is a further measurement and that is lux – but it’s not often a bit of information that is printed on a bulb box.

Build Mum A House Buildmumahouse

Quality of Light

When I was building my mum’s house she only had a few ‘must’ s and having a bright kitchen was vital for her. She was adamant that only a florescent tube would deliver enough light. However the plans had an open plan kitchen / living area. Florescent tubes are are white and bright and light up all the area around it, not so good if you want to create mood areas. LED lights have been fantastic, they give a directional light. I found that I was able to choose not only the angle of the beam but also the colour of light that is given off

  • daylight bulbs for the kitchen area
  • warm light for the sitting and relaxing area.
source: www.eca.co.uk

source: www.eca.co.uk

and finally there is the question of CRI I found this chart on the Philips website and it explains it quite simply that you should look for a CRI of 80-90:

Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 22.55.50

Yes, its confusing and you need to shop carefully… but these are expensive bulbs, they should last a long time and they can make a difference to your quality of light in your home.

TOP TIPS to help you choose the right LED bulb

  • Check for lifespan for estimated in hours not years/days.
  • Look for a well built bulb case with gills on it to keep the bulb cool and last longer.
  • Check out the angle of the light bulb – LEDs are directional so pick a wide angle for a good spread and narrow angle for highlighting.
  • Daylight colour bulbs are good for hobby areas or food prep areas. Warm lights are great for a relaxing area and are closer to the look of traditional bulbs.
  • For hobby areas where accurate colour can help the definition of what you are working on, look for a bulb that has a CRI of 80 to 90

I’m looking at mood lighting on my Instagram account Buildmumahouse and would love to hear from you if you who have any experiences or advice to share of setting up mood and task areas in your home

Colour is better than Prozac: Jane Cumberbatch’s Pure Colour book REVIEW

August 6, 2016

Woo Hoo! I re Tweeted @designrandb competition Tweet and won Jane Cumberbatch’s Pure Colour book. Yippee! And just like the R&B Designs blog, this is book is packed with pure inspiration …I haven’t been able to put the book down all week. Thank you Juliet and Amanda!

As soon as I set eyes on this chunky book – the front cover in bright blue, with lime green lettering and the edges of the book dipped in shocking pink – I began to get excited about colour possibilities.

Jola Piesakowska Pure Colour buildmumahouse jane cumberbatch book

 

Jola Piesakowska Pure Colour buildmumahouse jane cumberbatch 003Jola Piesakowska Pure Colour buildmumahouse jane cumberbatch 007     Jane Cumberbatch, is a blogger, a designer, author and an interiors expert who has been called the Queen of Simple…but this book is a wonderful cacophony of photos, notes, ideas, information, tips and memories plus annotated swatches of paint, fabrics, wallpapers and textures. Just up my street.

 

“Pure Colour is my visual and personal notebook of ideas and inspiration showing you how to furnish your life with brilliant hues. The garden the sea and landscape are my colour charts, my paintboxes of creativity. From the green beans of the vegetable patch to the eau de Nil wash of a calm evening tide, I store these images in my head like snapshots of everyday ideas to furnish my home with freshness and simplicity. The first pink rosebud on a May morning is as perfect a shade for one of my wallpaper borders as it is a cue for my lipstick colour or the fabric for a long swirly summer skirt.” Jane

 

Interior decoration, cooking , recipes, styling, travel notes: this is the perfect English summer book. On miserable, wet days this week, I’ve snuggled down with a cup of tea and read fabulous reminiscences about sunny Mediterranean markets, and I’ve revelled in Jane’s evocative photos.

buildmumahouse jola piesakowska 008

 

As is usual in the English summer, today the weather has changed again and we woke up to a heatwave.  This sunny Saturday afternoon I’ve been stretched out on my sunlounger in the shade and  I have joined Jane on a journey to find cooling colour inspiration in food, places and things.

Clouds, cool patios, crisp white sheets:

Jola Piesakowska Pure Colour buildmumahouse jane cumberbatchChestnut puree recipes

The Saturday market in Olhao Portugal,

Scandi style

Variations of white

…and how to use limewash

 

as I turn page after page I am shown how to translate this and bring the Pure Colour look and feel into my home. It’s useful to see scraps of fabric or wallpaper samples that Jane has gathered and added comments and ideas and it does help anyone starting out to see how a professional builds up a mood board and a design notebook. For people like me who are inexperienced in using colours in my home, there are paint references so you know what to buy to get the look. I found the chapter on listing supplies and suppliers very useful. Finally, to make it all easier to get an overview of the looks featured, in the last section of the book Jane has used small images of the rooms that were featured and added notes on what paint was used and what paint finish.

Reading through the book again before reviewing it for this blog post, I was wondering what the shortcomings are and I think the only thing that’s missing for me are the aubergine and copper colours that I love – but I’ve learnt so much about Jane’s style and have been introduced to a design language that maximises the impact of pure colour and I really have learnt something new.

Yes, I’ve read the book and have decided that I agree with Jane Cumberbatch’s view that yellow is

“Brighter than Prozac”

As from today, all this week I am going to fill my Twitter @buildmumahouse1 and Instagram @buildmumahouse feeds with my own pure colour, and if you follow me I know that it’s going to cheer us all up! See you there!

 

 

 

 

 

Seeing clearly now: 5 steps to a brighter, lighter home with Catherine Woram

July 31, 2016
jola piesakowska buildmumahouse hallway balham home

What on earth is going on ? I always had pin sharp vision. As a cheeky child I’d giggle as I was the first one to tell my mum what number bus was coming down from Gipsy Corner. Well, that’s not me any more. It all started when my arms weren’t long enough to read the menu in restaurants and then it progressed to squinting at train destination boards.

A rather blunt optician told me a few years ago: of course you need glasses you’re over 40.

Well, I’m over 50 and now I need to find my glasses when I’m hunting for things around the house …and it’s worse in twilight.

I’ve read that as we age, muscles that control our pupil size and reaction to light lose some strength. This causes the pupil to become smaller and less responsive to changes in ambient lighting.

Because these changes continue, people in their 60s need three times more ambient light for comfortable reading than those in their 20s

Ok, so what can we do to make our homes brighter and lighter so that we make things easier for our eyesight. without compromising on style?

I spoke to Catherine Woram about this, it’s in one of her houses that I found the spa bathrooms that were perfect for any age. I love the way Catherine’s locations have a magical sparkling atmosphere, and seem to be about gently reflected light, ambient light and bouncing light.

I asked Catherine for tips on how we can bring light into our homes, beautifully – as we age our eye sight weakens ( and for some people its not age related) and bringing as much light into your home as possible brings clarity into your life while also lifting your spirits.

STEP 1: WHITE

My style has always been about white – for some reason I am obsessed with it and have painted things white for as long as I can remember!

jola piesakowska white bedroom hopton road

“Even when we lived in Australia for a year and furnished our flat from local junk shops I still painted everything white. My husband thought I had gone a step too far once when I saw the trees in Greece with white painted trunks and decided to do the same in our tiny London garden at the time!

I now run three location houses which take up a lot of time. Needless to say they are predominantly white and a mix of my favourite styles – decorative French and Moroccan styles. We have just found a house in Spain that we plan to transform with an awful lot of white paint plus Moroccan furniture in white/silver and gold”

STEP 2: ADD GREY

“White of course in its many shades as well as soft greys – but you have to be very careful with grey as it needs to have a slight warmth to it otherwise it can look like undercoat.

I love carvedjola piesakowska buildmumahouse grey white carved walls furniture of any kind – from pretty French pieces to heavier Moroccan designs – providing I paint them white!”

jola piesakowska buildmumahouse grey and white shades

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 3: OPEN UP TO NATURAL LIGHT

When you are in any of Catherine’s houses you realise that natural light is part of her vision.

“Light is always important and we have always thought carefully about light whether it is putting a roof light in the top landing in a small Victorian terraced house or a large kitchen extension.”

Many of the doors have glass panels, are double doors and very tall how does that open a house up to light? By the way, your double doors and wide doors are great for future proofing a home – entertaining friends and family, children running around, guests and maybe oneself with walking frames or wheelchairs.jola piesakowska buildmumahouse living room doors

“We have repeated the tall glazed French doors in three houses now – I had always wanted internal glazed doors similar to the ones you see in many old Parisian apartments.

We copied the design from a set of garden doors in a Victorian terrace and had a friend from the North East of England make them up in a taller design and opened up the walls to fit them. We repeated the design in the dressing room and bedrooms but used mirror rather than glass in these doors. They are, as you say, great for the home and also wheel-chair friendly as they can both be opened up.”

 

 

Skylight on the landing – HOW DID YOU DO THAT!!!! – it’s beautiful.

jola piesakowska buildmumahouse hopton loft light“The sky light was already there but featured an old Victorian window that we felt wasn’t very safe. I have kept the old window for another project and we replaced it with toughened glass below a large Velux window to light up the hall.

Our next project in the same vein is to open the ceiling at our Ross Road house and put a ready-made conservatory on the top and install a metal spiral staircase to provide access to the roof top as well as lots of light to the landing.”

 

 

 

STEP 4:  KITCHEN BRIGHT, CLEAN LINES

 The kitchen at Hopton Road is clean bright, white worktops but so classy and elegant – how do you get light of a modern kitchen and cross pollinate it with a classic look?

“We reused some of the old kitchen at Hopton and had new MDF door fronts made and mixed them with IKEA cabinets where we were missing cabinets. The long shelves avoid that cluttered look that many kitchens have with rows of wall cabinets. We used IKEA wall brackets for the shelves and painted everything in the same shade of white. The worktop is fake marble – real marble stains badly although more beautiful.”

jola_piesakowska_buildmumahouse_london_large

Catherine’s very modern kitchen in Balham opens up the house to unfiltered light

 

STEP 5: WHITE MATT SURFACES FOR A TRANQUIL,  CALM LIGHT

jola piesakowska buildmumahouse shower

“Glass shower enclosures with white tiles blend with the room while walls in a bathroom block light. I avoid any fitted pieces and tend to use freestanding baths/ antique tables set with basins and ornate silver taps sourced in Marrakesh. Where wall tiles are necessary (as I don’t like them) we use large matt white tiles so that they blend with the walls as much as possible.

Having said that I do love some of the new patterned tiles around and plan to use them…at some stage!”

 

If you would like to see more details of how Catherine has opened her houses up to the light, and to see more of the details that make her style so magical, follow me on Instagram @buildmumahouse or pop over to the Pinterest board on @buildmumahouse.

For more information and to read more about how we can all help ourselves and our families to lower the risks of vision loss follow this link to Bold Blind Beauty for some simple but effective guidelines.

 

It’s never too late to learn something new! Carter’s Steam Fair

July 17, 2016

Carter’s Steam Fair arrived on Tooting Bec Common. As soon as the vans and lorries turned up it was different – no jumble of mismatched caravans, lorries and cars, all of these were in the Carters’ livery colour; ox-blood brown. These vehicles were as shiny and nostalgic as a pair of 1940’s brogues.

Jola_Piesakowska_Carters_Steam_Fair

Hurry up and take the covers off!!

Of course I made it my business to walk the dogs twice a day, every day through the showground, I watched the fair being set up, the fair ready for a days’ fun and then sadly, packing up. Looking at the rides a mixture of memories and feelings of excitement flooded back from my own childhood, memories of taking my son to Carter’s in Brockwell Park and a nostalgia for a bygone age… but what gripped me was how pristine and inspiring all of the painted decorations and signs were.

I felt inspired by the use of bold colours and strong lines. Dynamic lettering and faux shadow and ornament that was clean and bright. Carter’s were only with us a few days and early on the Sunday morning I walked around with my husband. We spent time looking at the fair before the crowds arrived, the imposing steam engines, the vintage rides and stalls -some with paintings depicting British history and events, some with cheeky and fun signage but all with beautiful paintwork and lettering. We got talking to Joby Carter and learnt that he and his team spend the winter maintaining all of the rides and stalls and that he is the artist, the signwriter for the fair.

Well it’s never too late to learn something new and I’m tempted to sign up for Joby Carter’s signwriting course. I found information on the J Carter website about the 5 day course on You Tube and it’s clear from this that anyone can try this at any age and at the end of the week go home with not only your own sign but energised by Carter’s Steam Fair.

If you would like to see some of the pictures I took of the fair and to get inspired then look at my Instagram account, click here or my signwriting Pinterest board – the link is here.

5 tips to Upsize your Downsized home with Marianne Shillingford

July 13, 2016

Downsizing: you’re thinking of it, you’ve done it but how can you maximise your minimal space?

I spoke to Marianne Shillingford from Dulux about this – she has so much experience and love of colour and she explained to me that you can trick the eye and senses and make interiors feel more spacious and welcoming. I love colour but when it comes to decorating I’m so unadventurous- I keep reaching for the magnolia…everywhere! Marianne however, has some brilliant tips and insight to share with us, so here they are

                   5…4…3…2..1

Marianne Shillingford Creative Director of Dulux and Design Director of the Dulux Design Service

Marianne Shillingford Creative Director of Dulux and Design Director of the Dulux Design Service

Tip 1: Creating a guest room/ home office combo

Whilst it may seem difficult to catch the balance between creating a productive home office and cosy guest bedroom it is important to remember that both spaces should encourage serenity.


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Continue Reading…

How to make cooking easier and more enjoyable at any age – 5 design features that Howdens Inclusive kitchens deliver on

May 18, 2016

Howdens, the best kept secret in kitchens. If you’re not a builder with an account with them this is how it will stay. You won’t find out that this is a company with a fantastic attitude to delivering well thought out kitchen options across the full range of their designs and to suit your budget.

If your builder doesn’t have an account with them, you won’t find out that when they design a kitchen for you its well designed, delivered on time and if there are any problems they get sorted out straight away. You won’t know that when you, the client, go into Howdens they are really friendly and sort out your question quickly.

So… I’m unlocking the Big Secret for you – they make Inclusive kitchens. Really good ones. In all colours, finishes and prices. I couldn’t get my hands on these until I went to Naidex the UK’s largest disability, rehabilitation and homecare event … and these are the top 5 secrets that I’m sharing with you.

1. Accessible Wall Cupboards

This is my favourite secret, wall cupboards with shelves that come down to you. I took these pictures at Naidex, you can see that if you are in a wheelchair this makes your stuff easy to reach- but this is just as important for anyone who is elderly and can’t reach up to wall cupboards or in fact anyone who finds a step stool a bit precarious.

Standard pull-down shelf 2 wire base baskets with a smooth, adjustable operating piston mechanism. Compatible with 600mm wall cabinets.

Standard pull-down shelf 2 wire base baskets with a smooth, adjustable operating piston mechanism. Compatible with 600mm wall cabinets.

2. Adjustable base unit height.

There are two plinth heights with the Inclusive option, depending, on your needs you can have all of your kitchen lower or higher for easy access.

You can sit with your feet under the hob and you can option to make this adjustable.

You can sit at the hob and cook with ease.

 

The really fantastic features in the base units, though, is the sink and hob. With both of these you can sit down either on a stool or in a wheelchair, put your knees under the unit and get stuck in with the cooking (or peeling the spuds over the sink). Both have an option to be raised or lowered with the flick of a switch- which is good if your family has a range of needs and ages.

 

 

 

 

 

3. Easy to use appliances.

Howdens supply their own appliances range called Lamona, as well as AEG, Neff and Bosch. It’s the easy to reach ovens that really understand what people need. The side opening Lamona oven is ideal for easy access for anyone in a wheelchair, support or elderly. Read my review of electric ovens for more information. Match this oven with the Inclusive tower unit and you can install it at a lower height than usual, and add a telescopic shelf beneath the oven. This shelf is so useful for that hot or heavy dish coming out of the oven – ideal for safe use. Just wish the oven came without a clock. How many carers get the call to go over to reset the oven clock?

And the cooking extractor with a remote control. Simply Brilliant.

4. Door Handles

The kitchens on display at Naidex had integrated door handles. This really isn’t much good for anyone elderly, with a weakend grip or restricted movement in their hands. A ‘D’ handle is ideal, a comfortable shaped door handle for opening drawers and cupboards. Howdens do a good range of handles and the good thing is that the Integrated features can be added to any kitchen in their ranges. But do shop around – I found some lovely well designed, easy to use, well priced ones in Ikea.

5. Good range of bright worktops.

Elderly people or anyone with a poor eyesight will benefit from the definition that a light and bright kitchen worktop will give. I was delighted to see that Howdens have a lot of choice across all the price points and again they seem to have lots in stock with short delivery lead times.

So.. that’s the five big Howden secrets that will help you plan a kitchen for yourself or for an elderly parent, or for someone who wants to remain independent and continue to enjoy cooking and entertaining. You will also find a good list of tips and hints on the Which? website but have a look at my Pinterest boards for more inspiration for a kitchen that addresses mobility issues and is on trend.

 

 

 

 

 

Going Electric: Ovens

April 22, 2016

… it turns out after 60 years that its good bye to a gas oven that warms your calves after you lean down to open the door and hello to an electric oven with an easy reach grill.

After much debate about how an oven will fit into her new downsized life, my mum reckons she can put up with an electric oven; she will only use one occasionally, but most importantly, when the family visit, she can roast a chicken. So that’s how we came to the conclusion that she needed a full size oven, a half oven was a downsize too far.

Once we had established that we were going electric I had to consider what would fit in with my mum’s physical needs. And that’s how I came up with 3 things that I need to find in an oven to change her mind about cooking electric

  • install the oven at worktop height
  • an oven door opening side ways allowing full access to the oven
  • controls that are clear and easy to turn for her limited dexterity

Continue Reading…

Is this the most luxurious sleep ever?

April 5, 2016

Getting a good night’s sleep is pretty high up on my list of ‘must haves’, having a luxurious night’s sleep is a dream.

The usual gripes are that the bed is too soft, too hard to lumpy but there are lots of other factors, your other half is too hot, too cold, gets up at night, needs a higher/lower bed than you, tosses and turns until the early hours…. Along with the downsizing and age proof living decisions comes the thorny subject of the new bed – couples with different needs considering ‘investing’ in single beds…

I’ve taken a look at beds that can be for singles or doubles that offer a luxurious night’s rest and solve a lot of the demands that all of us have at night time – or at other times; taking a nap or watching tv or reading a good book. Beds that can be raised with no effort to lift and support your legs, to lift your head and shoulders, to sit you up, beds that can be raised up so that getting out of bed is easier, bed frames that has a light that gently shines to help your way at night. All without disturbing your other half. Or as a single bed that genuinely suits you.

I’m talking well sprung mattress plus a mechanised bed frame, and it doesn’t get classier than Treca Interiors. I had a look at their beds and I was  delighted that so many physical (and emotional needs) were addressed and with a serious eye on high quality finish, smooth mechanisms, beautiful design and luxury finishes.

Treca Interiors Platinum Supercad bed base

 

50 years ago,Treca Interiors Paris developed their first articulated bed base called the CAD: Couché, Assis, Détendu : sleep, sit, relax. Now their range includes the Supercad with a travelling base that lifts your head and also slides back to close the gap between the headboard, and also the Trecaflex M5 that has suspension slats and pocket springs for added comfort and support beneath the mattress.

The Supercad is the top of the Treca Interiors range, it has four silent motors that smoothly move five independent sleeping surfaces. Everything is made for comfort and reliability: a “travelling” system slides the the frame and enables you to remain near to the headboard when your head and upper body are raised in the reclining position.

All of this is controlled by a radio remote control rather than a control attached to the bed.  Using the control you can adjust the bed frame so that you can find your ideal position and if you get muddled up with all that, don’t worry your favourite three can be memorised in the control. I love that you could also programme it to control other electrical appliances such as your tv and even your bedroom lights – fewer remote controls on your bedside table to rummage through.

Motorised Bed Lift

Motorised Bed Lift

The Supercad has three useful extras that are also remote controlled. Firstly, there is a heating pad that can be placed on the mattress at your legs. As with everything that they do Treca produce these using high tech heating elements and finish it in luxurious fabrics.

Secondly, there are motorised bed legs that can be added to the adjustable bed frame and allow either mattress to be lifted and lowered using the remote control. This is a real help in the mornings to get out of bed, or lift the bed up to make getting into bed easier for you. I like this feature because it means that once you are in bed, your half can be lowered to match your other half’s.

And thirdly, there is the ingenious ‘why I didn’t I think of that’ feature: soft downlights on the edge of the bed that shine down to the floor, lighting up your path in the night as you walk past the bed – no need to put the bedroom lights on and you won’t disturb your partner’s night.

All of this plush upholstery and high quality engineering is topped off with a range of specialist mattresses designed to use with the Supercad bed and made from the finest materials, put together with traditional craftsmanship. Silk, Horsehair, Alpaca….

material beds

Put together by hand….

making the mattress

cross section

 

and just when you thought it couldn’t get any more luxurious, embroidered details and all finished with a customised topper…

TIP_OE_Handle_Paris-Istanbul

 

Treca Supercad combine high quality engineering and luxury hand crafted mattresses to provide supreme comfort. Their styling, attention to detail and flexibility make you realise that these beds are not only for the elderly or the infirm but are genuinely luxury age proof items for any age. Adjustable beds are ideal for resting, relaxing and sleeping well and for couples, genuinely accommodates both sets of needs. If you are planning to downsize, this could be your new bedroom splurge! Have a look at the video:

 

Built Mum a House 1 year on: 6 great things that make me go mmm!

March 28, 2016

If you’re looking for some tried and tested tips and about to embark on building your ‘forever’ home… or if you’re an empty nester renovating a house or apartment to make it future proof …or looking to build your mum a house read on…

It’s 1 year since my mum moved into her house, and looking back on the last 12 months here’s my top 6 features that she loves about it. It’s funny,  some of the things that I spent hours worrying over have worked a treat, but no-one notices them, and there are some features that have worked out to be brilliant and we keep chatting about them.

First, let me get off my chest the one thing that drives me nuts ( luckily no-one else minds about it) It’s the kitchen layout. Downstairs is open plan living and kitchen area. When the kitchen was designed I spent ages on the paper plans, in the shell of the half built house measuring up and at B&Q tweaking the layout. I tried to make sure that there was enough space for everything..until the kitchen fitter arrived. Stubborn and knowing better than me, he kept moving the 1000mm corner unit from where it was on the plan. On day 1 of the job I told him a couple of times to move it to its planned position, and again in the morning of day 2, after I had left he moved it back to where he wanted it to go. He finished the job so that the run of units projected 600mm into the living area. That’s a fair bit in a tiny house.

This was a part of the build when we were having major problems with the construction company and the build was way-over schedule. I should have stood over him ( there’s a lot of should have here ) and if I were to give anyone any advice its this: When they’re fitting in the kitchen units make sure you watch like a hawk until all the units are secured. And be bossy. No, be bloody minded to make sure you get the layout that has been designed.

The electrician was really cheesed off when he returned to do part two of the fit because the oven didn’t line up with the cabling but it was done and I had given in. grrr. Anyhow,

 let’s go to the things that we all LOVE…

1. The Stairs

I never thought I would say I would be proud of the stairs but I am!. When the house was being designed I realigned the staircase on the architect’s plan 180 degrees so that access to upstairs is from the living room and not the front door. This has proved to be more convenient when you are in the living room most of the day but more importantly I had them redrawn so that they are wider than an average staircase. A wide staircase does give a rather grand feeling of space and does make you feel less wobbly when you walk up them. But if you don’t use the  stairlift every day (which doesn’t need the extra space) there’s still loads of space on the stairs.

Staircase wide enough for good under stairs storage as well as fitted shelves.

The staircase wide enough for good under-stairs storage, as well as fitted shelves.

2. The Door Lock

I wrote a whole blog post about the from door lock, click here to read it. I stand by every word: the Banham latch and deadbolt are so easy to use and secure. Love them.

 

3. Cloakroom Storage

The cloakroom was another battleground during the build.

Cloakroom Storage

Cloakroom Storage

Just somehow this room had constant problems and ended up as the last room that was worked on. Finally, when the walls had been plastered and for the ‘nth’ time I had pointed out that we needed access to the cistern for maintenance; I collared a builder and he began to cut away at the plasterboard to allow a removable lid to the cistern. There are all sorts of structural things going on behind this wall and that’s how these funny shaped shelves was born…  Top tip: if you have a cavity behind a wall in a bathroom, build some shelves in there.

4. Lighting

In open plan living, establishing lighting zones really is important. For age proof living good lighting is paramount. I installed daylight bulbs in the two areas that need to be well illuminated – the kitchen and around the stairlift and switches. As a carer, my top tip here is to find long lasting bulbs, lets can last years, use a daylight temperature bulb in the kitchen area and in the living and relaxing area warmer light.

Looking back over this year we are all

The living area lights are warmer and the kitchen lights are spots that are usually used in retail lighting- they are direction spotlights and the bulbs have a very wide but bright even light

The living area lights are warmer and the kitchen lights are spots that are usually used in retail lighting- they are directional led spotlights and the bulbs give a very wide but bright even light.

delighted with the daylight bulbs because they have a second benefit: in a small house they give the feeling of brightness and do give you a feeling of cheerfulness. Supposedly, this light temperature helps with the symptoms of SAD and I think that if you are downsizing and worried about feeling gloomy this is a good trick to try. There’s a good explanation of what daylight bulbs are about and an explanation of long lasting bulb options at Lightbulbs Direct website

5.The Corner Shed and the Automatic door

Brilliant. Fits a mobility scooter, the mechanism for the sliding door, it even has enough space for a tumble dryer and garden stuff. But its a corner shed so it fits neatly in the corner of the patio garden leaving enough space for enjoying the patio.

Corner Shed / Garage

Corner Shed / Garage

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Command Centre

This photo sums up 2 successes and one not so brilliant thing:

This is my mum’s command centre! Light switch positioned at a comfortable height and with wide rocker switches, easy to use and looking really good.

Control Centre!

Control Centre!

Central Heating thermostat: full temperature and timing control and manual with easy to use controls. Digital push button controls are the norm but if you have reduced mobility and arthritis in your hands, digital buttons and fiddly dials don’t work. I found this thermostat/timer that controls a Worcester Bosch boiler and despite the plumber’s protestations it was worth digging my heels in and getting this unit on special order. Older people need to keep warm, and they need to adjust the temperature easily.

The large device that you can see is connected to the front door bell; inside the door bell is a very small cctv camera and it’s linked to two video units, one upstairs and one downstairs. It doesn’t unlock the front door but it does allow you to talk to your visitor and tell them to wait. If you have reduced mobility or are elderly this allows you to take your time going down the stairs to answer the door If you are downstairs when someone rings the bell it allows you to check who is calling. This particular model is a bit disappointing as the quality isn’t as good as it should be – the screen on one downstairs has played up and this one has crackly audio reception, but it gives everyone tremendous peace of mind.

If you have any tried and tested tips to share, I would love to hear from you, leave your comments below.Thanks!

 

 

 

 

Weekend Away: R&R and Inspiration in Lewes

March 9, 2016

 

the dogs starting out SMALL

A few weeks ago my husband booked an on-the-spur-of-the-moment weekend away. To make it simple, he planned a dog friendly trip that would distract, relax, provide inspiration for my blog and give us some ‘us’ time. We packed up the car and escaped London for Lewes in East Sussex.

I have found that being a carer for someone is rewarding and satisfying, it can be done out of loyalty, friendship, love or because it’s the only way. With the feeling of satisfaction and joy there are times when everything becomes stressful, tiring, frustrating and all that multi-skilling leaves your nerves jangling. I’m not special: 1 in 8 adults (around 6.5 million people) are carers, almost half of those juggle care and work.

This post is about caring for the carer, how 2 days in Lewes mooching about with my husband and two dogs changed me from from being an at-the-end-of-my-tether, stressed out wreck and got me back on track.

I’m sharing with you the visual inspiration of Lewes, my delight at new ideas and possibilities, appreciating people’s attention to small design details, people’s generosity, all these things that took me out of myself.

We stayed at the Blue Door Barns ‘where rustic meets rustic chic’. I would add, where chic meets warmth, thoughtful details, clever design and a fantastic breakfast . We stayed in the Sailors’ House a tiny gem of a barn that never felt small. The walls, and ceiling were painted in shades of soft, soothing grey. The tall ceiling gave a sense of space. The floorboards and details were shades of gentle blue and aqua. And everywhere details that were novel and delightful. Inside our barn we were in a very special world.

The bathroom was full of clever space saving ideas: a sliding bathroom door and the bathroom sink unit, a room that felt comforting and inviting, exotic oriental patterns on the floor tiles and the black slate tiles in the shower were exactly what Marianne Shillingford had talked about in my previous blog post.

In the dark, our heart beat slows and we begin to properly melt into a pre-sleep state. Small dark spaces in our homes become sanctuaries in which we can truly unwind.  Something it’s worth sacrificing a bit of light for – especially if you have a full on stressful life.

room

The Sailors’ House, Blue Door Barns

Lewes is in East Sussex, apparently it has more beautiful, independent shops than anywhere else, it has a castle, lots of dog friendly cafes and pubs, a steep high street and wiggly side streets dropping away to the river.  It has its own brewery, Harvey’s, a lovely pint (apparently) and a beer called The Kiss.. after all this town was the home of Rodin’s Kiss sculpture . The town is made up of some very, very old houses and buildings, some build in flint, some timber framed and some painted sugar almond colours. This seems to be a town that is comfortable and enjoys its history and arts, there are loads of artists, craft shops, print shops, antique shops, music shops, book shops and interiors and every style of homeware… everywhere.

BLUE and WHITE

My first stop was at Baltica at the top of the High Street. This shop is full of the most amazing range of Boleslawiec Polish pottery.  This is spongeware with the most vibrant blue and fun decorations, they are easy to mix and match across the patterns because the colour is so consistent and what makes them practically bomb proof is that they are made to go in the dishwasher, oven, microwave, aga and even the freezer. Easy life. We had two shopping trips to Baltica, we bought cornflower rice bowls and star covered spoons for presents. This shop was our first experience of Lewes friendliness, we chatted with Will Rogers who owns and runs the shop, he tells a good story and knows so much about the Boleslawiec potteries. A must.

boleslawiec shop

Some of my favourite designs of Boleslawiec, in the Baltica shop, Lewes High Street

BRITISH STYLE

Everything in Freight HHG  is beautiful, everything is beautifully made and most of it made in the UK. I love the black, copper, linen textiles and warm wood. The design of their products as well as the styling of the shop is inspirational, their branding continues to their packaging, their labelling is handritten- check out their website.

freight shop

FREIGHT shop Lewes High Street

LEWES VINTAGE STYLE

On Saturday morning as we headed out for a day of beach walking and then shopping, Bryony from Blue Door Barns gave us some biscuits that she had baked that morning. Packed in a heart shaped tupperware with a stripy paper napkin this summed up the Lewes Vintage Style. Thoughtful, generous, honest and fun. I love the Lewes Vintage Style, you can shop it in the Lewes High Street: there’s  Tom Paine printing press, a working metal press producing cards and prints. A tourist information centre with local crafts in the window. Wickle, the tiniest ‘mini department store‘ a relaxed, welcoming, dog friendly homeware shop with beautiful cards, children’s toys and clothes, a cafe, restaurant.

And Closet & Botts with its bicycle, pots, baskets and bunches of flowers and lavender parked up right outside. There is something for anyone in here: printed ephemera, glassware, clothes, characterful books. Its a magpie’s nest of vintage treasures, old and new.

 

vintage shops

LEWES ANTIQUES STYLE

There are so many antique shops, antique book shops and flea markets in Lewes that you can rummage in, we looked at the arcades and shops in Cliffe High Street and in the High Street as it was easy with the dogs. The Famous Lewes Flea Market in Market Street is in a converted Methodist Chapel. There is even an Auction House in town. Just look at some of these pictures and see for yourself!

antique shops Lewes

BEACH STYLE

Lewes is surrounded by the South Downs but it was the nearby beaches that we headed for on Saturday and then Sunday morning. This is the most wonderfully calming landscape. Wrapped up warm, the sea wind blowing out the cobwebs, dogs scampering across the pebbles, beach huts, cups of tea and coffee. This is the colour palette that underpins so much of the Lewes style and that’s what makes it calming and soothing.

beach colours

I returned to London, my head buzzing with new ideas, refreshed and optimistic.

If you are a carer there are a couple of good websites with a lot of supportive information such as Carers UK  www.carersuk.org/news-and-campaigns/alone/how-we-can-end-carer-isolation

or Age UK  www.ageuk.org.uk.

You can see more pictures and get inspiration from my trip to Lewes on Pinterest Build Mumahouse or go to my Instagram Buildmumahouse.

 

 

5 Floorings to Consider for People Living with Allergies or Asthma

February 15, 2016

There are 5.4 million people with asthma in the UK, which means asthma affects one in every 11 people and one in five households. If you’re renovating or planning the finishing touches to a new build like I did, you have an ideal opportunity to consider laying a healthy floor. I must admit I did have my mum nagging me about this and it seems that house dust on the floor and dust mites in carpets are considered to be the biggest triggers for allergy and asthma flare ups.

This is something that spans all ages – from babies to the elderly. The simple solution is to find a floor surface that can be dusted using no harmful chemicals, with minimal effort, so that you don’t mind doing it regularly and one that doesn’t give off any synthetic fumes such as VOCs.

…And that looks good too.

When you think of furnishing a home for someone who is elderly or for young families, the first thing that you imagine is wall to wall carpet. It seems logical: it’s cosy, there are no rugs to trip over and it can be vacuumed. But looking at the NHS website

Carpets are the largest reservoir of dust in the home. They contain hair and skin cells, food debris, dirt and insects. A home with floorboards is believed to have a tenth of the dust of one with wall-to-wall fitted carpets.

 

 

1.Hardwood Floors

Oak floors look fantastic and this was my choice. The flooring was laid on a plywood base which had been screwed down well, the solid wood engineered planks were quick to lay: sanded and sealed with a waterbased lacquer in a day.

Oak floor in living room

 

Chevron floor at Aubain Restaurant, Wimbledon Village

 

There is so much variety with hardwood floors and the current fashion for a chevron pattern is just fantastic, it’s modern, it’s vintage, it’s got character. Looks just as good with new planks as recycled ones and perfect styling for open plan living spaces.

When selecting wood flooring do look for sustainable woods and suppliers who source certified timber products and  production.

 

 

 

2. Cork Flooring

Cork floors do not absorb dust and are resistant to bacteria and fungus. They do not cause allergies nor pose a risk to asthma sufferers. Adhesives and finishing products used in the manufacturing of cork floors are formaldehyde-free and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) emissions are not detectable.

http://www.corkfloor.co.uk

Cork tiles are great for bathrooms and kitchens as they are a warm surface and if you buy them as sealed tiles they are easy to install. In a steamy bathroom they can be a slip hazard so don’t forget the bathmat. Cork contains a waxy substance called suberin, this repels water making the tiles resistant to mould – as well as repelling insects!

In a kitchen the water resistant lacquer and sealed edges mean it can easily be wiped down, without the need for underfloor heating to take away the cold.

Cork is an eco-friendly low-carbon flooring that is warm, comfortable to walk on, easy to install and maintain and has sound insulation properties. The inside of a piece of cork is made up of millions of tiny air filled chambers, this also provides some cushioning- in a kitchen it would give some support to elderly people who tire easily when they stand.

One of the best things about this material is how soft and yielding it feels beneath your feet.

wicanders-cork-700x456

http://www.siestacorktiles.co.uk/wicanders/

Protection tips:

  • Protectors should be installed under chair and table legs.
  • When using furniture with wheels, the floor must have additional protection using mats.
  • Heavy furniture should have felt pads or non-staining glides or casters.
  • Steel wool or abrasives must not be used on the floor.
  • A quality doormat at the entrance should be used to help protect the cork floor from outside grit and sand.
  • Adequate protection should be taken when moving appliances or large pieces of furniture around the floor.
  • Cork, as a natural product, may change colour when exposed to direct sunlight. Use blinds or curtains to minimize the effect.

3. Marmoleum

I think Marmoleum is fantastic, it’s a non- allergenic product made from natural raw materials and has a hard wearing top coating that protects the surface appearance for years. You can buy it in tiles or from a roll, it comes in fantastic range of modern and classic colours and will make any room look instantly stylish.

marmoleum grey

(c) www.forbo.com

4. Laminate

This stuff is so popular I don’t need to introduce it, it’s a great surface, hard wearing, easy to install and comes in so many fantastic looks. Do however, be careful read the labels and check the supplier’s website looking for information on VOC emissions or formaldehyde used in the planks, glue or underlay.

5. Wool and Natural Carpet

The floorboard option is not always the best for an elderly person’s home and we installed carpet on the stairs, it does minimise slips and trips. Rugs by the sofa or bedside do make standing up easier. Firstly, buy anti slip matting for rugs and don’t lay rugs them in hallways where tripping can be a real hazard.

Look out for 100% wool carpets without finishes on them and a natural backing such as jute, Green Label Plus is the mark of the carpet industry voluntary testing for low chemical emissions. Check the underlay too and go of the most natural option you can find.

 

Cleaning

The great thing about wood, cork, bamboo or laminate floors is that a damp microfibre mop on a hard surface floor really does the trick…and let’s face it it’s a lot easier than getting the vacuum cleaner out. But for a deep down clean or for rugs and carpets you do need to use a vacuum cleaner.  Look out for vacuums with a HEPA filter or a double dust bag filter. A HEPA – High Efficiency Particulate Air Filter is a pad that helps reduce the amount of dust particles that escape out of the back air vent, look out for the energy labels and it will help you find one that is suitable.

 

http://www.vax.co.uk/vacuum-cleaners/upright-vacuum-cleaners/air3-max-vacuum-cleaner-1-1-1-1-1-2

There is so much choice that you can create a home that’s adapted to you and your needs and don’t you have to compromise on style.

For more information and advice about living with asthma click this link to the NHS website, or Google Asthma UK or the British Lung Foundation.

Marianne Shillingford’s 5 Tips to Upsize Your Downsized Home

January 31, 2016

Downsizing: you’re thinking of it, you’ve done it but how can you maximise your minimal space?

I spoke to Marianne Shillingford from Dulux about this – she has so much experience and love of colour and she explained to me that you can trick the eye and senses and make interiors feel more spacious and welcoming. I love colour but when it comes to decorating I’m so unadventurous- I keep reaching for the magnolia…everywhere! Marianne however, has some brilliant tips and insight to share with us, so here they are

                   5…4…3…2..1

Marianne Shillingford Creative Director of Dulux and Design Director of the Dulux Design Service

Marianne Shillingford Creative Director of Dulux and Design Director of the Dulux Design Service

Tip 1: Creating a guest room/ home office combo

Whilst it may seem difficult to catch the balance between creating a productive home office and cosy guest bedroom it is important to remember that both spaces should encourage serenity.


web-UltWhite_07_0533_v2-RT

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The Easy Way to Unlock your Front Door from the Inside

January 23, 2016

I had a lot of fun choosing the front door. Hours of late night pinning on Pinterest https://uk.pinterest.com/Buildmumahouse/buildmumahouse-front-door/  ..digging around looking at doors – I decided to keep it modern, solid, simple panels and oak. It was this Pinterest board that set the look of the rest of the house; the internal doors, oak parquet floor and the oak kitchen.

But when it came to the door locks, well…it began to look like I was looking for the impossible- a latch and a deadlock that could be opened and also locked easily from the inside.

I needed the locks, a latch and a mortice deadlock, to be:

  • A latch that is easy to open from the inside for a weak grip and arthritic hands
  • A deadlock that locks from the inside WITHOUT a key and with a large, smooth action lever
  • Key turning that has a smooth, positive action, easy for a weak grip
  • Secure and solid
  • Chrome (it looked modern and bright  on Pinterest boards)

I began to investigate around and what I read began to make me sad. There were references to people who found opening the latch difficult and so they didn’t go out much. Stories of people not locking their front door properly, leaving it open but on the chain so that they could answer the door easily. I read stories of how some people were helped by innovative ways of extending the latch. These guys at remap who design and custom-make equipment to help with accessibility issues, made a door latch extension with a screwdriver:

A lady with arthritis that restricts hand movement asked if we could help her get out of her house. The problem was that she found it difficult to operate the small latch on the front door. Remap engineers looked at the problem and provided a simple solution: they made the latch bigger by grafting on a screwdriver handle! The client now gets out more.

(c) http://www.remap-southbucks.org.uk

(c) http://www.remap-southbucks.org.uk

and then there are websites with all sorts of innovations, such as the

The Doornuts Door Knob Turners are great for arthritis, MS, Carpal Tunnel, recovery from stroke or surgery, weak hands, or fingers. As an arthritis product, the door knob turner allows the doorknob to be turned without the use of the hand. Door opener fits any size doorknob and installs in 1 second, no tools needed. Openers and enlargers make a door easy for anyone to open.

I was determined to find a latch and deadlock that solved the problem and looked smart. I just didn’t want to install something that needed me to start going all Blue Peter.

Back to Google and Pinterest and a lot of latches with tiny handles and loads of deadlocks that need to be locked internally with a key. I did find a few Yale latches that I though might be ok but the deadlock became my bugbear, I started to fret about lost keys, getting locked in and that keys can be difficult to turn in a hurry.

And then I found the easy way to unlock a front door from the inside (by the way I had also ruled out a keypad lock) : the Banham Rim Deadbolt and their Thumbturn deadlock.

The latch handle is large and easy to grip it can be pulled forward with a flattened hand. I was delighted with the deadlock mechanism, it’s designed so that an internal lever that is easy to turn and its not fiddly, flips to lock the deadbolt.

…and all in chrome finish – perfect!

The next few steps weren’t as easy as they should be, firstly I couldn’t find a supplier so I rang the London office. On the phone I found it difficult  to get a quote, get a booking and for Banham to get the address right. But, I persevered and because I had done my research I got the locks that I wanted. The  Banham engineer who did the installation was brilliant. He positioned the locks so that they would be easy to reach, not too high, not too low.  That bit was EASY and I’m very pleased with the result. There is an added bonus, Banham can set the locks up so that both can be unlocked by the one key. Have you seen the size of the mobility, arthritis aid key holders?

This Banham set was the only set of locks that I found that address accessibility issues, that are secure and look good. I’m just wondering if any of you have found an easy lock solution too? I would love to hear from you, email me at buildmumahouse@gmail.com and share your finds.

 

 

 

 

 

Best Tip Ever: make chicken noodle soup, now!

January 18, 2016

Yes, it’s true, Polish chicken noodle soup IS Polish penicillin. Make it because it’s warming, it’s comforting, it awakens the appetite, it’s good for young fussy eaters, it’s good for anyone who is unwell and it’s delicious when you are feeling happy or like me today with a case of the Sunday Blues. We call it Rosół- that’s pronounced ro-soow.

This recipe is my version of chicken noodle soup that I make for my family or friends; my mum makes her version, my dad made his, my grandmas made theirs and my son makes his own. My dad’s golden rule was that it has to be eaten a soon as its ready and can’t be reheated. My mum’s rule was that she cooked it (with loads of sweet carrots) before  I arrived with her grandson  so that she could give it to him for his mid morning meal… after I had finally left them alone.

This recipe is my version that is perfect for taking over to a friend or relative who needs…some chicken noodle soup. Its full of vitamins, micro nutrients from the vegetables and the chicken bones and chicken liver but it just tastes light and savoury and sweet. It’s umami on a spoon. I can only get all the right ingredients for myself from the Polish Shop in Streatham. But as almost every High Street in the UK has a Polski Sklep, I will point you in the right direction so that you can get the right stuff too!

Ok here goes:

In the veg area of the Polski Sklep find a bundle of vegetables called WLOSZCZYZNA (V-WOZH-CHEEZNA)

chicken soup veg

At the meat counter let them know you are buying chicken and ingredients for RO-SOOW and you will get exactly the right ingredients. Half a large chicken: these used to be called boilers in England, chicken gizzards and chicken liver, if they have chicken necks, just take those too!

Rosol ingredients

Wloszczyzna veg bundle, chicken gizzards, onion, chicken livers, chopped carrot, peppercorns and pack of egg vermicelli noddles

for roll

Flat leaf parsley and diced carrot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe

Ingredients:

Half a large chicken (bones included and don’t remove any fat)

1 small washed wloszczyzna bundle

1 large Spanish sweet onion or 2 large shallots, peeled and whole

150 grams chicken livers, washed

150 grams chicken gizzards, washed

2 Large handfuls of egg vermicelli noodles

1-2 carrots finely diced

Half teaspoon of peppercorns

Salt to taste

OR Optional: half a Knorr stock cube

Equipment:

For the soup – Large pasta saucepan with lid or a large saucepan and a slotted spoon

For the noodles – Small saucepan and a sieve

Vegetables and herbs – Sharp knife and chopping board

For taking to a friend or family:

4 small bowls

A large glass jug, or an earthenware bowl

Clingfilm

For serving at home:

Soup bowls

OK Let’s Do it:

In a large saucepan of cold water boil up the half chicken, gizzards and liver. I use my pasta saucepan for rosol as this makes it easy to lift out all of the meat and veg out of the cooked soup at the end. Take this to a rolling boil and skim off the brown foam until it all looks clear. Add the onion or shallots, peppercorns, whole carrots, parsnip and chunk of celeriac.

Use a stock pot or a spaghetti saucepan

Simmer for half an hour.

Add most of the bunch of flat leaf parsley, including the stalks. Carry on simmering for another 30-40 minutes

Add a small bundle of flat leaf parsley

Add a small bundle of flat leaf parsley

 

rosol Polish Chicken soup

Carry on simmering with the lid on

In the meantime, add 2 handfuls of egg vermicelli noddles to a small saucepan half full with boiling water. Boil for  2-4 minutes, strain and immediately cool down by running cold water over them. Drain and then set aside in a small dish.

Strain, cool down and then drain the egg noddles

Strain, cool down and then drain the egg noddles

 

Check the flavour of the soup and add salt to taste, sometimes I add half a Knorr chicken stock cube but that is optional. If you don’t have Knorr, don’t bother.

Chop the flat leaf parsley leaves and put into a small bowl.

By now the chicken soup should look clear and golden, smell and taste good. The meat should be falling off the bones and all vegetables very soft but not falling apart.

Remove all the ingredients, if you are using a pasta pan just lift the strainer out and let it drain, otherwise lift out the meat and vegetables carefully with a slotted spoon and put to one side.

Keep the remaining broth on a low heat, add the diced raw carrot and allow to cook. When the carcass has cooled,  pick off the meat and place into a small serving bowl. When cooked, strain the chopped carrot and add to a bowl. If you like extra vegetables, dice one of the cooked carrots and a parsnip for serving as well.

 

Ready for packing up...

Ready for packing up…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arrange the cold ingredients: noodles, diced carrots, chicken meat pieces, raw but chopped flat leaf parsley in separate bowls and cover with cling film or lids.

Pour the cold chicken soup into a jug and cover with a lid or cling film and you’re ready to go…

Serving:

Heat the soup to almost boiling. In soup plates or bowls spoon some noodles, chicken meat and carrots. Pour the hot soup over, sprinkle with flat leaf parsley

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

YUM!

 

 

When people are in pain or unwell the thing that makes all the difference is human kindness.

 

 

 

 

The Outdoor Shower That’s Very Welcome Indoors

December 6, 2015
buildmumahouse, jola piesakowska,shower, cphart, jee-o, slow draining shower

I recently had the opportunity to see a number of new showers that have been launched at CP Hart showrooms in Waterloo, London. I’ll let you know just what I think of these new models over the next few weeks.

However, I can’t wait to talk about Jee-O 365 showers. They are a range of outdoor showers and basin tap controls that are beautifully sleek, robust and highly engineered in stainless steel, but have clever and refined design with controls that are easy to use by anyone.

According to Jee-O, this range has been installed in amazing locations such as the Maldives and Los Angeles but I think they could be just fantastic in a UK indoor wetroom. They are made up of one freestanding unit and a minimalist wall mount, so they look sleek and modern. Personally, I love the urban styling and think they would save space in any size room. The controls are actually part of the unit and are beautifully designed. I had a go with them and they are very easy to use and easy to grip by anyone young, old or with soap or sand in their eyes!

buildmumahouse Jola Piesakowska wet rooms showers bathroom taps mobilityblog cphart JEE-O showers moerman

Lammert Moerman at CPHart                                                                                                          www.buildmumahouse.co.uk

Jee-O seem to be bringing a fresh approach to outdoor showering and bathrooms in general. The driving force behind the company is Lammert Moerman a product designer and, rather unexpectedly, former Dutch BMX champion. And if it seems a stretch from hurtling round on a souped-up Chopper to manufacturing bathroom installations, the secret is in the engineering: cycles require the sleekest design combined with the greatest performance – Moerman simply couldn’t see why the same principles shouldn’t to be applied to bathrooms.

buildmum a house buildmumahouse Jola Piesakowska easy to use age proff taps and showers mobility design easy access wey room bathroom cp hart

www.buildmumahouse.co.uk

My favourite shower in the range is Jee-O Original Freestanding Shower Mixer. I know it’s been designed and specified for use outdoors, by the hot tub or pool, but not many of us have those and I’d love to see one of these freestanding showers in my indoor wetroom. I like that it’s just one unit and it’s attached to the ground, leaving the walls clutter free. But most of all, it’s the design of the controls that appeal to me: easy, clever and witty. An inbuilt stainless steel chunky ring replaces fiddly taps and with a very user-friendly positive and smooth action controls temperature and water flow.

And in a brand-focused piece of design, Moerman explains that elements of the shower and controls have been inspired by the company’s logo:

“The “J” stands for the iconic shape of the shower … that looks just like an upside down “J”. The “O” stands for the characteristic ring or button that regulates the shower gradually from closed to open, from cold to hot.”


Clever stuff, and I can’t see Triton pulling that off!

Another version of this model worth mentioning is the Jee-O Original Freestanding Shower Mixer And Handshower where a hand shower has been integrated. I was really pleased to see this option, as it would be perfect for children or anyone in your family who needs the flexibility to sit and shower.

In this range there is also a matching basin mono mixer, a chunky spout with a ring control built in – again easy to grip with soapy weak hands – full control of the water flow and perhaps more importantly, temperature.

The second highlight for me is the Jee-O Soho Progressive Freestanding Shower Mixer Hammercoated Black Matt shower. Moerman explains that the inspiration was from urban cool Soho of the New York district rather than London’s Bohemian quarter. Like the rest of the range, this model is cast in stainless steel but this one has a hammer-coated black matt finish that gives it a tough, Batman meets jet-fighter look. I love the styling – it’s bold and thorough, with Jee-O detailing around the lever control. Not only does the showerhead take its inspiration from industrial pipework but, surprisingly, it also has a very good shower pattern. It may look like it belongs in the Batcave, but it’s nice to know that Bruce Wayne will have a nice shower in the morning.

buidmumahouse Jola Piesakowska wet room shower controls bathroom JEE-O CP Hart

www.buildmumahouse.co.uk

For me, the design of the controls isn’t as innovative as Jee-O Original but I love that the controls are lever handles with a progressive smooth action and that they are coated by a rubber skin – reduced mobility friendly and always warm to the touch, which is great for anyone with arthritis. I love the urban cool look and think this one would be stunning with Gotham City Metro tile work.

I’m so pleased to have discovered this range – this blog isn’t a month old and already my quest for stylish, future-proof home fittings is bearing fruit!

 

 

 

 

Authors for Grenfell Tower: An Online Auction Raising money for the British Red Cross to go to residents affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.

June 24, 2017
POSTCARD FROM THE PAST, PASTPOSTCARD, PAST POSTCARD, BUILDMUMAHOUSE, AUCTION GRENFELL TOWER, AUTHORS FOR GRENFELL TOWER

I want to tell you about this online auction raising money for the British Red Cross London Fire Relief Fund, for residents affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.

AUTHORS FOR GRENFELL TOWER, PASTPOSTCARD, PAST POSTCARD, BUILDMUMAHOUSE, POSTCARD FROM THE PAST,

Around 1:00 a.m. on 14 June 2017, a fire in this residential tower block in west London spread to engulf the entire building. Despite the heroic efforts of the fire service, all 120 flats in the building have been destroyed. The death toll stands at 58 and is expected to rise. Survivors have lost their homes, lost everything, and gone through unimaginable trauma.

Winning auction bids will be paid directly to the British Red Cross’s relief fund for Grenfell Tower residents and neighbours:

“The charity has been asked by Kensington and Chelsea council to help co-ordinate fundraising in an appeal to support the residents and neighbours of the Grenfell Tower.

Money will be given to people affected by the fire, including those who have lost everything, to buy the things they need to give themselves and their families as much normality as they can get at this extraordinarily difficult time. 

By donating to the London Fire Relief Fund people will be able to help those who have been injured, bereaved, left destitute or traumatised by this tragedy.”

There are many brilliant lots that have donated by authors for this auction, some of them from world famous authors or photographers such as Rankin, others such as the Twitter famous first time author Tom Jackson whose Twitter account @PastPostcard is my favourite account and whose first book was issued just a few weeks ago. Everyone who has donated wants to help and I want to help raise the profile of the auction, so I thought this was a good place to start:

ITEM: Signed copy of Postcard From The Past by Tom Jackson, plus 5 random blank vintage postcards

DETAILS: The winner will receive a copy of the recently-published Postcard From The Past book, personally signed and dedicated by Tom Jackson. Also included in the package will be 5 blank randomly chosen vintage postcards from Tom’s collection. 

BIO: Tom Jackson started posting old postcards on Twitter as Postcard From The Past in 2016. The book, which gathers the best of those cards and messages plus many never seen on Twitter, was described by Joanna Cannon as “A beautiful collection of tiny windows into the story of other people’s lives.” and by Danny Wallace as “Hilarious, haunting, silly, poetic and profound.”. Twitter: @pastpostcard

WHO CAN BID: Worldwide.

This book is only one of many lots, please go have a look at the auction site and support by bidding or by spreading the word.

Read more: Grenfell Tower Fire – how you can help

If you need help after the Grenfell Tower fire or are concerned about a loved one, please call the casualty bureau on 0800 0961 233 or 0207 158 0197.

If you are a resident displaced by the fire, call 020 7361 3008.

If you are distressed by the situation and need someone to talk to, call the Red Cross support line to talk to a trained volunteer on 0800 458 9472.

Read more: Grenfell Tower Fire – how you can help