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family home

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.

 

Why move house when you can adapt your space? 5 reasons to go prebuilt.

May 3, 2016

Why move when you can adapt? Young families are opening up their attics or digging out basements so that they can have more space without moving home. Now ‘older’ families with reduced mobility issues are looking at creating more downstairs ground level space so that they can stay in the same home where the kids grew up and the grandchildren like to visit.

I’ve been looking at home living modules as a solution to create single level living and wheelchair accessible home extensions. These are house extensions designed to your specifications and choice of décor, but with a huge difference – they are built, wired, decorated, plumbed and tested off site.  C3S is one such company, based in West Yorkshire, they build the entire extension as a module in their factory, using a team of highly qualified and experienced professionals. These guys won’t leave you with an extension that isn’t quite finished or a wetroom that leaks.

5 reasons to consider a prebuilt extension:

 

1. Disruption to your life is minimal:

the foundations are dug in your garden and then the entire unit is delivered by lorry and craned into position. In a matter of days it’s ready for use, fully connected and commissioned.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 11.57.37

Watch the delivery of this extension on You Tube!

 

2. Customise it.

A Mira shower is included in the standard specification but you can choose exactly what fittings you prefer. Have fun and get exactly what you want and need. Whether you go for the modern clean lines of the HEWI bathroom range,

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

or a touch of luxury with easy to use taps.

So many beautiful lever taps to choose from @cphartbathrooms #design #agespanning #house spoilt for choice @buildmumahouse

So many beautiful lever taps to choose from @cphartbathrooms

 

From the positioning of electrical sockets, to carpets and colour schemes, the choice is yours. If like me you’re a bit nervous about using colour in your new bedroom, Marianne Shillingford Creative Director of Dulux suggests downloading the free Dulux Visualiser App on to your smartphone or tablet to get inspired. With this super easy app, take a photo of one of your favourite things and sample the colour using your phone or tablet’s camera. The app uses virtual reality to show you how that colour would look on your walls. Click on this link, try the app – it’s a lot of fun!

3. They’ve done it before.

The C3S team includes a project manager to oversee the entire job, the team can draw up the plans, the quote and even sort out the planning permissions. Their units are Local Authority Building Control England and Wales (LABC) approved and if you go the website they have details and assessments

Our solution is fully compliant with current building regulations and is certified under the Local Authority Building control (LABC) approval scheme
Mark Willis – Health, Safety, Environment & Quality, C3S.

4. It won’t break the bank

If you have wondered how much these basement extensions are costing your neighbours, the price, according to Back to Basement   is £2,200-£3,000 per sq m if new basement has to be dug out Source: Real Homes

An en-suite bedroom  modular unit from C3S includes the standard fixtures and fittings: walk in shower, grab rails, tiling painting, Altro flooring, starts at £23,000. In my calculations that’s about £1,160 per square metre including module construction, fit out, electrics and plumbing but not including groundworks, delivery or installation.

Altro flooring

Altro Flooring can be fitted to curve up the walls -ideal in a wetroom

Running costs of these prebuilt units are affordable too, fully insulated and energy efficient C3S fit UPVC A rated doors and windows.

5. No Need to Move

AND FINALLY, The Best Reason: You stay in your own home with your friends, neighbours, your life and memories around you …. with a new found freedom and comfort.

For more bathroom and bedroom decoration inspiration read my blog posts about HEWI bathrooms and Marianne Shillingford’s Dulux Colour space-creating tips and colour trends.

Then pop over Buildmumahouse PInterest to look at some fantastic bathroom ideas that address mobility issues and are on trend.

 

 

 

 

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.