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Downsizing

Downsizing with Style – Book Review

March 20, 2016

Bettina Deda

I first ‘met’ Bettina Deda on Twitter. We share the same life experience of downsizing. The difference is I muddled through it ‘helping’ my mum and Bettina did hers in style. In fact she is the Downsizing with Style guru.

Bettina is a super organised Australian interior designer who has recently published her book Downsize with Style, available on Amazon and iBooks.

In Downsize with Style you will find a clear road map to downsizing without losing your sanity. There are 5 great tips that will get you focussed and to stay focussed, good organisational tips…much more of what you can find on her blog. In her book, Bettina tackles the emotional part of downsizing, the fear that hits you every time you think about doing it and then the wave of sadness which hits you out of the blue, every now and again. With Bettina’s help you can start to see this stage in your life as a positive experience:

Downsizing is often associated with negative feelings and emotions. I would like to encourage you to see it differently. Live with an attitude of gratitude, gratitude for the time you spent with your family and friends in your family home. Embrace the change while downsizing and be open to opportunities that come with it. Only when you step out of your comfort zone will you experience new things.

What makes this book worth the read is that when Bettina has tackled all of those real emotional issues, she uses her love of colour, art and design to help you start understanding your own personal style …and then she sets you on the path to start a new exciting chapter of your life.

You can buy the paperback at Amazon £17.54 or download the e-book to your Kindle for £11.99

or you can download it at iBooks £14.99

Read more about Bettina’s interior designs, downsizing projects and love of colour and Australian art, visit her blog at http://www.bdcolourdesign.net.au/blog/

 

 

 

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.


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Continue Reading…

Fitted Wardrobe Ikea Hack!

November 9, 2015

From the start the architect designed bedroom to have fitted wardrobes along one wall. So what did we do when it came to building them? We hacked an Ikea Pax. Continue Reading…