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Home & Interiors

A Guide to Antique Bureau Styles

There are many styles of writing desks, or bureaus, as they are also  known, which is hardly surprising when you consider that furniture was designed in all corners of the world. Some of these styles have stood the test of time and if you are thinking to add some character to your study with a period bureau, here’s a brief guide of what is available in the antique market.

  • Mazarin Bureau – An early version of the “knee hole desk” that has two recesses to accommodate the knees.
    antique desk

    Pic Credit: Unsplash

    These first emerged in the mid-17th century and have two or three tiered drawers on either side, with a single drawer above the knee space. Stylish support with either 4 or 8 turned legs that are strengthened by X or H shaped stretchers gives this piece a distinct look and this Louis XIV era item is usually superbly decorated with Boulle Marquetry. A classic writing desk that has no doubt inspired many European writers over the centuries.

  • The Butler’s Desk – A short, compact desk with a drop-down front and a noticeably square look, this piece is ideal for the writer that has many items. Behind the writing surface are many small drawers and slots and there are 3 or 4 drawers underneath the writing surface, this mid-19th century item was extremely popular in England for around a century and there are many variations – a few actually have a sliding door on the lower section that reveals numerous drawers. Of all the antique bureau styles, the Butler’s Desk is quite a common piece and would look great in the right environment.
  • Cheveret – A tiny and delicate looking desk typically used by ladies in the mid-18th century, popular in England and all parts of the British Isles. Who knows how many love letters were answered while sitting at this desk? The ideal item for the career woman with style, this petite desk serves well in a room with limited space.
  • Ship Captain’s Desk – Rugged and sturdy, as one would expect from a vessel-based writing desk, the ship captain’s desk is narrow and has a sloping writing surface, ideal for writing in the captain’s log during those long and stormy voyages around the world.
    writing desk

    Pic Credit: Unsplash

    Many clever little compartments and cubby holes can be found to accommodate the many objects a seafaring captain would use. Ideal for an attic study, this robust item was also used by military commanders in the field of battle. This style was prominent in America and Europe in the late 19th century. Earlier version were quite basic and they became more ornate over the period of 80 years and were to be found in many manor study rooms across England.

  • Front Fall Desk – Very practical, this solid piece of furniture originated in Spain during the 16th century and would usually have 6 deep drawers across the lower section. The drop section was fashioned to look like another layer of drawers when closed, giving it a balanced look. There are many versions and some are exquisitely adorned, making a perfect feature in the aristocratic office. This sturdy desk was the foundation of the emerging European middle class.

There are many other styles on the market, and if you are planning to acquire one for your study, browse a few online antique dealers and you are bound to see all of the above, plus a good few other styles that might just be what you’re looking for.

Note: This is a collaborative post
Home & Interiors

Where to Invest in Your Home This Winter

energy efficient

Pic Credit: Pixabay

The nights are drawing in, and winter is just around the corner. With it comes many pleasures, such as snuggling up by the fire to watch a film with your loved ones, taking brisk winter walks and calling in to the pub for some hot food afterwards, and the joys of the festive season. We’re used to inclement weather in the UK, and for the most part, it doesn’t bother us, we just get on with things as normal. However, if your house is letting in draughts and you can see your breath when you wake in the morning, your home isn’t going to be the cosy haven it needs to be to sustain you through the winter. Now is the time to act and make sure you don’t suffer from a cold home before the worst of the winter weather strikes.

Insulation and drafts

One of the most important aspects of keeping your home warm is making sure it’s well insulated. You could be pumping heat into your rooms all day, but if it’s escaping through your old windows and through cracks in the doors, you’ll still struggle to keep warm. If you don’t already have loft insulation, or what you have is getting on a bit, you should arrange for new insulation to be installed to stop warm air escaping through the roof. Windows and doors are the next most likely culprits when it comes to poor insulation. If your home has old windows or doors that don’t fit properly, and you haven’t got double glazed units, it’s worth looking at getting them replaced. If you have an older home, you needn’t worry about having to put UPVC frames in, because companies like Timber Windows Direct can make bespoke double-glazed wooden windows to fit any age or period home.

Heating and hot water

If you’re using gas or oil, how old is your boiler? Do you have it serviced regularly and have you taken out an insurance policy to cover you for emergency repairs if it goes wrong? Boilers are one of those things that tend to get ignored when they’re working but can cause havoc if they break down. If you don’t have a modern condensing boiler, chances are you’re spending more than you need to on oil or gas, as older boilers aren’t as energy efficient as newer models. Installing a new boiler isn’t cheap, but if you consider the cost savings you’re likely to make, plus the reassurance that you’re less likely to have problems with a new boiler, then installing a new one could be a wise move. Having a service schedule in place will ensure your boiler is professionally maintained, and your engineer will be able to advise you when you should consider replacing it. Insurance against breakdown will give you further peace of mind, and help avoid expensive repair bills.

It’s always worth checking whether you could get a grant or contribution towards your home improvements because there are still incentives in place for some types of work. Most importantly, spending a cold, miserable winter won’t be good for you, your family, or your wallet, so invest in your home and keep yourself warm this winter.

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Home & Interiors

Using radiators as a feature…latest trend

A couple of years back if you said to somebody you were using the radiators as not only a incredibly useful piece of equipment but also a feature in your house, people would think you are crazy.  For a few years there was the trend of radiator covers which if im honest I never really got fully on board with.  However having all but completed our own renovation works which necessitated a complete overhaul of the plumbing system we decided to replace all the 1970s bulky rads.

After much deliberation and a little gentle persuasion from the Dada Fairy we went with black vertical radiators in the vertical “Nevo” design.  

vertical raditator

Pic Credit: https://www.traderadiators.com

Choosing vertical radiators

Who knew there was so much to consider when purchasing radiators from lots of different sizes, to BTU’s, to single or double panel not to mention the valves etc.  I learned so much when choosing ours, I think even the Dada Fairy was impressed.  We consulted in depth with our plumber to ensure we got the most for our budget in terms of heat output.  When they started to arrived to the house, ill admit I panicked a little…they were big and very dark. I suppose sub consciously we were used to the white horizontal radiators. I remember my mothers face when she saw them,no words necessary!!!

Once the walls were painted and the rooms completed the radiators got fitted and wow. The difference they make to the room is insane. They are quite literally the talking point for most people who visit.  The best advice I can give is to shop around, if like us you might be  lucky and find a great deal on vertical radiators. 

Do also consult your plumber and relevant tradesman as foolishly I was only concerned with the aesthetics of them. There is naturally so much more to consider.  Almost 2 years on do I still love them?…..absolutely!

I love that they  are such a striking feature, they are ultra modern and blend effortlessly into our new extension.  I  also love how efficient there are in terms of heat output and most of all I loved how budget friendly they were.

Note: This is a collaborative post however I retain full editorial control

 

Home & Interiors

Hall, stairs and landing – renovation tips

We are so close to completion, I can almost feel. The very last piece of what has been a very large and complicated jigsaw puzzle will hopefully fit into place very soon. The last room we have to tackle is not so much a room but one of the key elements of the home. Its the first point of entry, it the thoroughfare to all other rooms. Naturally it gets a huge amount of traffic and with a house of men, it can at times be filled with sports gear, work boots and the school bags.

hall and stairs

Pic Credit: Pixabay

One tip I have learned throughout this mammoth renovation was to leave this room until the very end, for the very reason I set out above and below. As the renovations progressed on the other rooms, the hall had tonnes of traffic from the various different trades lugging tools, wood and other materials up and down the stairs.  Inevitably walls got scuffed, skirting damaged and door architrave strained.  I am very glad I listened to the Dada Fairy!  Before we commenced the major renovation works he insisted we leave this space until all else is done.  Admittedly I reluctantly agreed.   I suppose I really didn’t appreciate the traffic this area would get and the rough and tumble that would come with the movement of so many bodies and materials around it.  But I am very glad I did listen!!

Top Tips

So with the above finally drawing to a conclusion. Its time for the hall and landing to get its makeover.  Aside from the above of leaving it to the very end, some other useful tips I have picked up along the way include:

  • Washable paint – you will thank me later. Honestly well worth the extra spend especially if like me you have little hands who prefer to use walls than the bannister
  • Give time and consideration to the type of skirting and architrave you want.  Just to show how clueless I am about this I thought there was only one standard type! However there are lots of different options, including different materials and sizes. You can even get custom built and designed skirting!
  • Take samples home, I cant stress the importance of this enough. Something can look brilliant in the large, bright and airy showroom but take it home and it can swamp a space.
  • While there are lots of “how to” you tube tutorial available. If you aren’t DIY minded consult an expert. Its isn’t the easiest of task when you factor in the stairs, corners etc.
  • Take your time… its the first point of entry for guests to you house so make this space count!!

 

Note: This is a collaborative post however I retain full editorial control
Home & Interiors

Features walls – im a little obsessed!

I know everybody is probably well and truly fed up of listening to my renovation tales. It has been a crazy but fulfilling couple of months. We are now inching ever closer to having the house completed exactly to the spec and design that we wanted. Yes it took a lot longer than I hoped, it also went over budget (that a whole other post!) and it probably did put some strain on marital relations!

One of the biggest bones of contention around here was under stairs toilet v under stairs storage.  I was firmly in the camp of storage, im thinking school bags, sports gear, endless pairs of shoes and runners. The Dada Fairy wanted the downstairs toilet. His thinking was handy for the kids save them running upstairs, handy too for visitors and their school pals. So after much debate I reluctantly agreed to the downstairs toilet.

bathroom sink

Pic Credit: Pixabay

The space is teeny! Add to that the fact it will actual be quite a visible room being in the hallway. I wanted to keep the base neutral but jazz it up. I have visited a local show house and they had a feature wall where the toilet and cistern sat and I really liked it.  It added depth to the small space and almost made a talking point of it.  So off I went researching feature walls. Who knew there was so much choice out there! We ended up going for stone split face tiles in grey keeping with our neutral tones around the house. The tiles are are actually suitable for indoor and outdoors.

I would strongly advise ordering samples and trying them out in your space. I originally thought I wanted the exposed red  brick look but having taken a couple of samples home it just did not work when compared to the cool neutral tones around the house. Its funny  how something can look fab in a show room or even show house however we you take it back to your own house it just doesn’t work. That’s a really long winded way of staying take some samples home!

The Dada Fairy did the work himself which was great as he is in the building trade. However for the non DIY among us there are lots of helpful guides an how to tutorials online. I’m hopeless at DIY thankfully the Dada Fairy doesn’t mind tackling it otherwise we would probably be still living in a building site.

The bathroom is almost done and ill hopefully have a big reveal shortly.  I haven’t told him yet that I think he was probably right to push for the downstairs toilet!!!

Note: This is a collaborative post however I retain full editorial control

 

 

 

Home & Interiors

Central heating, so many choices?!

oil heating

Pic Credit: Pixabay

With the time of year that in it naturally all our attention has turned to turning back on the heat. We have been lucky to date and its been pretty mild but I think the time has come to think about it again. For most of us this side of the world the cost of home heating can be quite a substantial bill this side of year.

When we moved into our house we had lots of decisions to make regarding our central heating system.  The previous owner had gas installed half way to the front driveway and an oil burner out the back. However the oil burner was as old as myself so we need a new central heating boiler. 

Who knew there was so many choices available for boilers and heating systems available.  It wasn’t a concern in our old house as we inherited the gas system and just went with what was there but this time around having to select the type of system and type of boiler meant lots more decisions to be made.

I think like anything when it comes to home renovation or new builds it is critical to shop around and talk to the relevant tradespeople.  Its also important to know and understand your own objectives and requirements and to discuss how they might fit in with your budget constraints.  I remember somebody once saying to me invest in the items like wiring, pluming, heating buying the best you can within your budget.  Consider the longer term and the potential saving particularly for the likes of heating systems  This is particularly relevant with advent of lots more eco friendly heating systems and them becoming so much more mainstream and affordable.

Has anybody an tips or comments on their current heating system? If so id love to hear them in the comments.

Note: This is a collaborative post  however I retain full editorial control.

 

 

Home & Interiors

Top Tips to Transform a Steel Building into Another Room

steel garden shed

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Let’s face it, we could really all use some extra space in our home, but extensions are expensive and not always the most affordable thing to do. If an extension is too large of a project for you to take on right now, then you may want to instead think about transforming a steel building into another room for your home. So, no matter whether you are looking to create a home office, looking for a space to relax in, or want to provide a games room for the kids, a steel building can achieve this with just a few extra upgrades.

Carry on reading to find out more about our top tips to transform a steel building into another room.  

Installing Electricity

When creating an extra room on your home, you will want it to be a space that you feel comfortable in which for most people, this will mean running electricity to it. Whether you want to simply put on a light to complete your work or need specific electronics to be working, the process of installing electricity is crucial. Other fun upgrades that an electrician can do for you in regards to your steel building is wiring up an intercom to the main house, installing a sound system or installing the wiring for network connections.

Installing New Flooring

Before your steel building becomes an extra room that you actually want to spend time in, you will need to install new flooring. We would recommend hard flooring here over a carpet, as you may find a carpet hard to keep clean with this room being outdoors. No one wants to be constantly cleaning mud and moisture that is being dragged in by family and friends from the main house to the steel building. Furthermore, we would also recommend that you get a good sizes rug and a welcome mat to try and combat the dirt.

Adding Insulation

If you want to make the most out of your shed and give it a room-like appearance, then you may want to add insulation to it. This will provide you with a number of benefits including climate control and it will also help to buffer sounds. Installing a dry wall can then really complete the look of your steel building. You can also get your insulation sorted when you purchase your steel building by requesting it as an add-on. This is something which Armstrong Steel provide which you’ll notice if you price up a building with them through the following link: http://armstrongsteel.com/. Their insulation is a heavy vinyl backed fibreglass that eliminates condensation and ultimately saves you money on energy costs.

Climate Control

Whether it be the weather being too hot where you live or too cold, climate control is something that you will need to ensure is in good working order with your steel building. A HVAC unit is a great idea here as it can be used to both cool and heat your space as you desire between the seasons.

Lighting

After making your steel building more habitable, you will then be able to add the finishing touches such as lighting that will make it feel more like an extra room on your home. You will also want to add things such as blinds to protect against UV rays and furniture to make the room useable.

Note: This is a collaborative post
Home & Interiors

Bespoke Furniture – is it worth it?

bespoke furniture green chair

Pic Credit: Pixabay

I have written numerous posts about our renovation projects and one of the final pieces of the renovation is the big decision of the furniture.  We went for plain floor and walls with the objective of jazzing it up as such with some cool furniture. I wanted the basics to be neutral and stand the test of time but I was happy to experiment with fun colours and materials for the furniture.

We have some really odd and probably small rooms therefore furniture straight off the shop floor either way too big or just didn’t suit the space. So we decided to take some more time, save some more funds and go down the bespoke route for the downstairs room. We are almost there and will look forward to a big reveal shortly with some pretty impressive progress pictures.  However some of the things I have learned throughout the process is:

  • Be very clear from the outset exactly what you want
  • Consider the functionality – exactly what you want the piece to do, consider dual uses to make the most of the space particularly if its small like ours.
  • Use your budget wisely to get the most out of it, for example  consider items like gas struts to close down furniture like counter tops etc when not in use. Makes a great space saver.
  • In a similar vein – agree up front the cost – prevents surprises
  • Be patient – this took me a little while! It does take a lot more time to make a bespoke piece when compared with buying off the shelf but the end result will be totally worth it.

Check back next month to see my pieces.  This has been a total labour of love and resulted in many disagreements (arguments!) but I can finally see it all starting to come together and I am mega excited.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post however I retain full editorial control
Home & Interiors

Top tips when choosing new windows

large window looking our over mountains

Pic Credit: Pixabay

We moved into our new house in 2014 with the decision that replacing the very old windows that came with the house was the first job we would tackle.  However….we simply couldn’t agree on what we wanted and shamefully only got the windows replaced in March of 2018.  I am not an expert not even close however I will share some tips on what worked for us in the end together with some key considerations having chatted and debated at length with a lot of window suppliers!

  1. It almost goes without staying – shop around and then shop around some more. We found some huge divergences in cost so using comparison sites for windows can be hugely beneficial especially when trying to compare like with like
  2. Drive around and look at similar type properties to see what works well and conversely what doesn’t for similar styles of houses. For example I love sash windows but they just wouldn’t suit the type of property we have.
  3. Agree key requirements before you start shopping, single, double glazing or even triple glazing- for us it was triple glazing for the back as our house at the rear backs onto a busy and noisy dual carriageway.
  4. Consider the energy efficiency of your windows as this could save you money on your heating in the longer term.
  5. There are lots of types of materials from wood, to aluminium to a alu-clad so decide which material you want within your budget constraints as there can be quite a difference.
  6. Consider options for child proofing – safety latches etc. This was critical for us with 2 busy boys!
  7. Ensure you supplier is reputable, look for references.
  8. Review whether the windows or workmanship comes with any guarantees or quality marks.

If anybody has any other helpful hints do add them in the comments section below.

Note: This is a collaborative post however I retain full editorial control
Home & Interiors

Top Tips for moving house

We have moved house 3 times over the last 10 years each a different stage, before kids, with one kid and when pregnant with our second. While im no expert I can certainly share from a practical point of view what worked for us thus making a stressful process a little easier on all involved.

  • Planning – I know this may sound like im stating the obvious but planning really is key from the outset, line up the trades, the dates, the help etc.
    House for sale sign

    Pic Credit: Pixabay

    The aim is that it will flow as seamlessly as possible.

  • Removal Company – Unless you have access to a van or lots of help you will like us most probably need to assistance of a Removal companies. The key here is to shop around, get personal recommendations if you can.  You want somebody who will pack and transport as quickly and as efficiently as is possible.
  • Charity/ Dump/ Sell –  You need to be a little ruthless when packing up. If you haven’t wore it or used it in years what are the chances you will now? Lots of options to either donate good quality clothing, dump or even use site like ebay or local deal site to sell goods.
  • Labels, labels, labels – I went a tad crazy with while labels and my sharpie, every box has labels, notes, instructions and priority rankings as I was never going to  have it all unpacked in a few hours! Slightly related also is a tip from my Dad to take a pic of the cabelling for TV’s etc as for the non techie like me, trying to piece that kind of thing back together wouldn’t be the easiest task.
  • Help! – Take all the help you can for either packing or unpacking or even making dinner until you get sorted. Particularly if moving any large furniture yourself

Ill be the first to admit moving is so stressful but hopefully with these simple tips it can make it a little easier.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post however I retain full editorial control