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design

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.”

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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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Is Age a Dirty Word in the Bathroom? A coffee and chat with the man from HEWI.

April 19, 2016

In Waterloo, behind a busy building site, under the arches, is an Aladdin’s cave: CP Hart’s magical showroom. CP Hart is the purveyor of the most fantastic, cutting edge, elegant, high end, exclusive bathrooms. Each featured bathroom is styled and lit to exquisite perfection, you can’t help but take delight in the style, the quality and the design details. It’s the stuff of dreams, not just aspiration. CP Hart have dedicated their showrooms to allow you to delight in design… there’s even a luxurious meeting area for designers, clients and architects to meet and spin their multimillion pound dreams.

Then come the two dirty words:    AGE.     DISABLED.

Thoughts of blue and white plastic bring my luxury bathroom dreams back down to earth with a bump.

Until… I walked past the freestanding baths, glistening in the spotlights- one wrapped in copper, one in pony skin …and the myriad of heavily chromed bath taps. I’ve turned the corner and walked into a modern bathroom set up: restrained, clean lines, beautiful surfaces, quality chrome and clever design details. HEWI. Bathrooms fit for the disabled.

I’ve been intrigued by HEWI ever since I spotted them a couple of years ago at CP Hart. Who on earth is this bathroom manufacturer that no-one has heard of but features in all the best hotels and retirement homes in the world?

Last week at CP Hart’s showrooms, I met with Stephen Maley HEWI’s UK Sales Director  to find out  bit more about the thinking behind the brand. Stephen is a qualified occupational therapist who used to work with prosthetics and their design and he is typical of the HEWI ethos.

The HEWI Ethos

They are a family firm who really want to understand what people need and what they want. A German family firm established by Henry Wilke in 1900s and today employ 600 people worldwide. What started in 1969 as a company making architect designed and loved nylon coated steel core lever handles, in bright colours- green, blue, red has become a company offering accessibility bathrooms for the trade, hotels, care villages and retirement apartments. HEWI products are engineered to last, using high grade materials and finishes combined with thoughtful and considerd design developed with input from occupational therapists, users and designers.

Manufacturing

The colourful nylon door handles that were the height of fashion in the 1980s had a lot more to them than I realised. High quality materials and vibrant dyes meant that these funky items were often seen in public buildings and high traffic areas and standing up to the use.

door handles

What I didn’t realise is that these were clever designs – the door handles were easy to use for weakened grip, the smooth warm finish perfect for rheumatoid arthritis affected hands and when added to a white door had 30 point light reflective values. They could be seen in low light and environments such as in smoke filled rooms.

 

Design …‘my disabled dream bathroom’

He lost his leg but not his style, I found this You Tube video of Grenadier Guard Scott

‘its exactly what I need everything seems to be so much easier’

To design for disability you have to understand the physical  as well as the emotional needs.

In this video Ed Warner Motion Founder sums up the use of good design

if you get the environment right for people you can improve both their cognitive and their physical health

Education

Most of the customers are architects and specifiers. These are usually youthful, energetic, enthusiastic design professionals. Quite far away from a young person facing life with an amputated limb, a stroke victim facing disability, a grandparent with reducing mobility. HEWI take it upon themselves to take part in disability awareness training for retailers, RIBA CPD core learning programmes with groups of architects or specifiers. I was fascinated to hear that HEWI have an ageing suit. At their talks one of the group is invited to step into the world of increased body weight and limited mobility and weekend grip, macular degeneration glasses or even pebbles in your shoes so that you get the idea that standing even for a short time is excruciating for some people.

Future Proof

This bit’s easy: brick walls or marine ply affixed to 2 x 2 frame, just imagine, one day you may want to bolt everything to the wall. There is no point having a wet room when you can’t hold on to anything.

Disabled and Reduced Mobility

My favourite item is the washbasin.

sink

 

Sleek and fun… the flannel rack doubles up as a grab and hand rails – sneaky! Loads of flat space around the sink for all your bits and pieces and plenty of space underneath for your knees when you sit down or pull in to the sink in your wheelchair

The shower has so many clever features too a strong grab bar disguised as a shower rail. A tip up shower seat that hooks on a rail an dcomes as a small hard seat or a padded one suitable for anyone with inflamed joints or nerves.

The HEWI shower with and without the shower seat

The HEWI shower with and without the shower seat

The grab rails are shaped so that you can comfortably pull yourself forward as well as pushing up

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I Not only are the grab rails built with a steel core but the third one down looks like chrome but has a nylon layer so that its always warm to touch- a real boon for arthritis sufferers whose hands are sensitised to the cold.

Colour and Fun

There’s a rhyme that its used by therapists that blue is for loo and a theory that blue is the last colour in the spectrum that people can distinguish. Is that why so many nasty disabled bathroom accessories are white and blue? If its contrast that we’re looking for, HEWI explore black and you can see that in the photo above,  its used with pleasing forms and looks really stylish, modern and sleek.

Colour is also used for zoning in public spaces and this year HEWI have introduced 16 co – ordinating colours in the nylon coated range, about time that accessibility products can be modern and fun.

orange colour conceept

Dementia

Red is action. Sterling University DNRC. the HEWI dementia range uses colour therapy and colour triggers for people with dementia. Using red for action they circle the bowl of the wash basin.

dementia bathroom

The dementia bathroom range has been designed to remind people of why they are there- action.

There’s an interview with architect Dr.Birgit Dietz who worked with HEWI researching this range and the use of red.

On the one hand this facilitates the dementia sufferer’s perception of the washbasin within the room and on other the other hand it helps them to understand how to use it. This promotes functional independence in the bathroom. The markings are red. Qualitative studies show that the colour read is most easily perceived by dementia sufferers. Red is also the most easily registered colour for people with age-related impaired vision or inoperable eye diseases, for example, macular degeneration. The dementia washbasin is therefore also suitable for people whose vision decreases with age.

Add to this a choice of non-reflective surfaces. As you lose perspective, the reflection of your outstretched hand can be confusing and make it harder to grab a rail or reach for the handle to flush the loo.

HEWI sales advisors are trained to explain to specifiers to think about the end users. Mirrors – open the door to the bathroom basin and get spooked by your own reflection in  the mirror. Anyone who gets up to use the bathroom in the night can image the fright that you could get from that.

 

Cross Generation- now you see it now you don’t

Designed to be rock solid when in place but with the use of superbly engineered spring loaded clips the grab bars are designed to be removed when not needed. This is a feature that works brilliantly in retirement apartments where the architect designs a future proofing bathroom but would work really well in a domestic situation – if you have anyone elderly or disabled staying over regularly. Remove the grab rail and chrome plates cover the mechanism leaving everything looking sleek modern and rail free.

PUTTING THE HANDLE ON

 

 

 

Plan Ahead

Don’t buy in haste. If you rush into buying accessibility products for the bathroom it takes time to get it right and its worth making a bathroom that you can enjoy because it serves your needs and its the sanctuary you want it to be. Have a look at my wet room suggestions as well, click this link and don’t forget to think about colour schemes as suggested by my post with Marianne Shillingford here.