How to incorporate architectural lighting in your home!

Good lighting is an integral part of a successful build or renovation and is something that should be considered at the very early stages of a project. 

It’s never too early to think about your lighting plans. It is important that all the electrics are in place before your walls are plastered, and any lighting that is built into a floor need cabling before underfloor heating is laid.

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Splitting lighting into different circuits to set up lighting scenes such as continuous linear LED fittings to create striking effects up and down walls, across ceilings and around key architectural elements. Lights can also be fitted behind panelling or cabinets for a warm glow.

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Emphasise dropped ceilings or coffers (built-in recesses in a ceiling) with clever LED lighting. Lights fitted around the edge of a ceiling, creating a darkened centre, will help reduce the height of a room, while lights in the centre of a ceiling shining outwards will draw the eye, helping to add a sense of height and space.,

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Fitted in the ceiling or the floor, wall washers illuminate a vertical surface, providing ambient lighting with a soft, diffused glow.

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For all your design needs call us today for a chat and a free quotation.

Our favourite Planet and People Friendly Products!

Whether you’re renovating or building from scratch, nowadays there is an emphasis on ‘eco-construction’ and how we can reduce the impact our homes have on the environment.

From using environmentally friendly building materials to renewable energy and green technology within the home there are many alternative products out there which can make your home more ‘eco friendly’.

Here we take a look at the alternatives and their eco friendly properties.

Calcium silicate Bricks

Unless you’re able to use re-claimed bricks, use calcium silicate bricks which use of less energy and do not produce the same amount of air pollutants associated with firing clay. Calcium silicate bricks therefore are considered to render significantly less impact on the environment than clay bricks. Notable uses of the brick in London include Battersea Power Station and the RIBA building in Portland Place.

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Timber

Wherever possible the use of sustainable timber is the ‘go to’ option for any ‘eco home’. Using sustainable timber such as that which is FSC or PEFC certified stimulates the expansion of managed forests to absorb CO2. FSC certified forests support biodiversity and protect the rights of indigenous peoples. The UK is the biggest importer of FSC certified timber.
Using UK grown timber reduces embodied energy and contributes to the local culture and economy - Milling logs has a comparatively low environmental impact.
Timber is a very safe material to handle. It is non-toxic and does not break down into environmentally damaging materials.

Natural clay plasters

Non-toxic and made from sustainable raw materials, natural clay plasters have breath ability to prevent harmful mold and reduce allergies and asthma plus they are recyclable. (clay works)
Clay expands when wet, the wetter it becomes, the more it resists moisture. This makes it an ideal plaster to use in contact with wood or straw. Clay plaster also regulates temperature and air-moisture.

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Eco friendly insulation

Recycled newspaper, sheeps wool, hemp and plastics are alternatives to mineral based insulation materials and are safer to handle and reduce the homes carbon foot print.

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Hempcrete

Hempcrete is a building material that incorporates hemp into its mixture. Hempcrete is very versatile as it can be used for wall insulation, flooring, walls, roofing and more. It’s fire-proof, water-proof, and rot-proof as long as it’s above ground. Hempcrete is made from the shiv or inside stem of the hemp plant and is then mixed with a lime base binder to create the building material. This mixture creates a negative carbon footprint for those who are concerned with the carbon side of things. Hempcrete is much more versatile, easy to work with and pliable than concrete. In fact, earthquakes cannot crack these structures as they are 3 times more resistant than regular concrete.

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Timbercrete

Timbercrete’s thermal insulation properties out-perform many masonry products by up to 6 times. It’s made from timber waste products and actually traps the carbon that would otherwise end up as greenhouse gas. You save energy for heating and cooling, and each brick, paver and block takes a lot less energy to produce. Timbercrete has excellent sound absorption and acoustic qualities

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Ferrock

Compared to Portland cement (made from chalk and clay and resembling Portland stone in color), which is one of the leading types in use throughout the world today, Ferrock is actually five times stronger. It can withstand more compression before breaking and is far more flexible, meaning it could potentially resist the earth movements caused by seismic activity or industrial processes. One of the unique properties of Ferrock is that it becomes even stronger in salt water environments, making it ideal for marine-based construction projects. And rather than emitting large amounts of C02 as it dries, Ferrock actually absorbs and binds it! This results in a carbon-negative process that actually helps to trap greenhouse gases.

Solar panels


Energy bills have in the past years increased by at least 7% per annum. You can protect yourself from the rising utility bills by incorporating solar panels into your energy mix. This will reduce your electricity bills significantly. Plus through Feed-in Tariffs (FiT) you can get paybacks for the electricity you produce. The Feed-In Tariff is an initiative by the UK Government aimed at helping you to become more self-sufficient and sustainable in your use of energy, whilst earning some extra income. Plus if your system produces more energy than you need, through the generous tariff schemes, you can sell the surplus back to the grid.
Solar panels work all year round. Their full potential is released during the sunny months, but they also produce a considerable amount of electricity during the winter, as well as on cloudy days.
Solar panels need almost no maintenance. Once the panels are installed, you need to keep them clean and check whether any trees begin to overshadow the solar PV array.

Solar water heating systems use solar panels, called collectors, fitted to your roof. These collect heat from the sun and use it to heat up water which is stored in a hot water cylinder. A boiler or immersion heater can be used as a back up to heat the water further to reach the required temperature.

Double Glazing

Double and Large glazing reduces the need for lighting and reduces the cost of heating homes.Traditional windows, with a single pane of glass in them, have a U value in excess of 5. Double glazing used to score over 3, but, over the years, the manufacturing process has undergone a number of improvements and currently the Building Regulations insist that any window you install today should have a U value no worse than 1.6. Some countries like Sweden and Norway use triple glazed windows which have a U value of 1.8 (impressive). However the cost of installing triple glazing and each windows weight means it has an embodied energy* approximately 50% higher than double glazing.

*Embodied energy is the energy consumed by all of the processes associated with the production of a building, from the mining and processing of natural resources to manufacturing, transport and product delivery.

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Wool Carpets

Allegedly, flooring products account for around 40% of a building’s environmental impact and soft flooring will be changed between 6 and 12 times during the 60 years of a building’s life. Whatever the source of these figures, they are a useful prompt to consider the importance of specifying products such as carpeting with an eye to minimising environmental impact. Our thoughts on carpet…. don’t buy carpets but if you do want carpets then go for wool or buy a wool rug.  It is very durable and can last centuries. In some families wool rugs have been passed down from generation to generation making them  family heirlooms.   Other natural materials used to make carpets or rugs are sisal, jute and cotton.

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Pure Glue Eco Plywood

Pure Glue Eco Plywood combines the lightweight nature and decorative face of plywood with a non-toxic, formaldehyde-free glue for improved air quality.

Little Greene Paint Co.

This company produces waterbased paints that carry the industry's lowest eco-rating, with VOC content now virtually zero. This means you don't need to worry about solvent contributions to the atmosphere or any respiratory issues, or the smell; they are virtually odourless.

Oil based paints are traditionally favoured because of their renowned longevity and superb finish. Little Greene oil based paints have been reformulated using sustainable vegetable oils, without compromising on their unrivalled quality.

The paper used in their wallpapers comes from FSC or PEFC certificated sustainable forests; so for every tree used another four are planted. The pigments used to print them are completely non-toxic and the excellent wallpaper paste contains no solvent.

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Air Source Heat Pumps

Air Source Heat Pumps use refrigeration technology to provide heat from a condensing unit. The evaporator side of the heat pump absorbs energy from the air outside the house using it as a source of heat for a properties hot water cylinder, radiators or underfloor heating. If the right unit is installed in the property, an Air Source Heat Pump can provide all the hot water and heating a property requires for 365 days a year.

Grey Water/ Rain water Harvesting

Grey water recycling within domestic homes is the process of taking used water from showers, baths and hand wash basins, filtering it and storing the filtered water for re-use.

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Ground Source Heat Pumps

Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHP) utilise the heat energy stored in the ground to heat water that can be distributed to the heating system, domestic hot water system and appliances within a building. The GSHP works by passing heat from the ground through buried pipework that carries a brine mixture which converts the heat into higher temperatures for use within the home.

So if you want to make your home more eco-friendly or you would like a free quote on any home improvement project then contact us today!!

Oh and one last note… When sourcing materials take a good look at what constitutes the product or material. If you are unsure about the provenance or ingredient of some product, ask the manufacturer to state where it comes from and what it is made of. If the manufacturer is on top of their game, they will make available an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). If a declaration isn't on offer, at least check the health and safety sheet for any human toxin content.

Here are a list of ingredients to stay away from:

Alkylphenol
Alkylphenols are a component in phenolic resins, but they can also be found in adhesives, paints and coatings and high performance rubber products..

Asbestos
The history of the use of asbestos culminated in one of the greatest public health tragedies of modern times. Exposure to the former wonder mineral continues to be the cause of one of the most pernicious forms of cancer.

Bisphenol A
Bisphenol A is used as a hardener in making polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Common BPA products include water bottles, baby bottles, food storage containers, household electronics, plastic lenses and DVDs.

Cadmium
Most commonly used in the production of nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) rechargeable batteries and as a sacrificial corrosion-protection coating for iron and steel. Other uses include alloys, coatings (electroplating), solar cells, plastic stabilisers, and pigments.

Chlorinated Polyethylene (CPE)
CPE is a versatile material that when compounded with other materials, achieves different properties and products. It is widely used as a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), rubber and modifier for resins (PVC, PE and ABS)

Chlorobenzene
Chlorobenzene's most high-profile application was in the production of the pesticide DDT. Modern uses are as a solvent in the manufacture of adhesives, paints, paint removers, polishes, dyes, and drugs.

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
CR is used mainly in the rubber industry but is also important as a raw material for adhesives and has different latex applications such as moulded foam, rubber sheeting, sound insulation and gaskets.

Chloroprene
CR is used mainly in the rubber industry but is also important as a raw material for adhesives and has different latex applications such as moulded foam, rubber sheeting, sound insulation and gaskets.

Chlorosulfonated polyethylene (CSPE)
CSPE’s weatherability, UV stability and adhesion capability have made this material very popular as a commercial roofing material. Other applications include wire and cable sheathing and paint.Formaldehyde
Formaldehyde is used in a wide spectrum of products.  In construction, formaldehyde is still widely used as a binder in insulation products as well as commonly as an adhesive in wood panel products.

Halogenated flame retardants
Flame retardants (FR) are compounds that when added to manufactured materials, such as plastics and textiles, and surface finishes and coatings that inhibit, suppress, or delay the production of flames to prevent the spread of fire.

Hexavalent chromium (aka Chromium-6 )
It's corrosion resistance make it a first choice as an alloy or plating in the production of stainless steel. Hexavalent chromium is used to produce CCA (chromated copper arsenate) that is applied as a preservative in the treatment of structural timber.

Lead
Lead comes with a long history of use, but in recent times we have become aware of its potential to render harm to humans. However, it still plays a role in the construction industry, primarily in roofing applications.

Mercury
Though previously applied to a wide spectrum of products and processes, mercury's toxicity has become highly restrictive of general useage.

Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs)
PFCs are used to make stain, heat and water-resistant products including fire protection agents, floor polishes and paints. They are also used to manufacture non-stick coatings.

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
PCBs are synthetic organic chemicals that were manufactured for use in various industrial and commercial applications - including oil in electrical and hydraulic equipment, and plasticisers in paints, plastics and rubber products. Useage has become severley restricted in recent years.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
Such is the height of the PVC industry's econmic profile, that critiicism from GreenPeace and others has provoked the producers of PVC into a series of intense and acrimonius confrontations.

Polyvinylidene Chloride (PVDC)
Polyvinylidene Chloride is synthesised from ethylene dichloride. Introduced by DOW Chemicals in 1939, the PVDC monomer is used in the manufacture of barrier coatings, fibres and plastics.

Pthalates
Phthalates are esters of phthalic acid and are most commonly found in plastics, and primarily, in PVC as plasticisers to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability and longevity.

Short-Chain Chlorinated Paraffins (SCCPs) (aka Chlorinated alkanes)
SCCPs are found world-wide in the environment, wildlife and humans. They are bioaccumulative in wildlife and humans, are persistent and transported globally through the environment

 

Biophilia - our favourite new trend!

So we’ve been hearing more and more about this trend we we decided to do some research to find out what exactly it is!

Biophilia (meaning love of nature) focuses on our innate attraction to nature and natural processes. Experts say Biophilia improves the spaces that we live and work in plus it benefits to our health and well-being.

Incorporating direct or indirect elements of nature into our home/business environments have been proven to reduce stress, blood pressure levels and heart rates, whilst increasing productivity, creativity and self reported rates of well-being.

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Here are some simple but innovative ideas for your home to connect you with nature.

Fresh air

Our homes should allow us to have plenty of fresh air and daylight so open those windows to let fresh air in and so you can hear the rain and birds sing.

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Light and shadow

There is mounting evidence that we are healthier when our circadian rhythms are balanced and having access to good daylight helps with that. Intuitively we map the time of day through seeing shadows and sunlight move across a room and we instinctively gather in sunny warm spots. So think about spaces where you can sit in the sun or create cosy pockets.

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Blur the boundary between inside and outside

Outdoor rooms can be created in the smallest of spaces. Spending more time outside while feeling sheltered blurs the separation between inside and outside in your home.

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Bring the outside in

Bringing nature into your home can connect us to the place where we live. So bring  plants, small indoor green walls and simple water fountains, into your home..

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Natural shapes and forms

Not every home can bring in natural forms in the shape of the building, but patterns from nature can be used decoratively as motifs and be powerful in connecting us to the natural world.

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We love this trend - we hope you do to!

If you would like some interior design ideas or a free quotation then contact us today!

Top Trends for 2019!

Oh we are excited for what’s in store for 2019. So here are our top tips for what’s IN and OUT in 2019.

IN - LIVING CORAL.

Pantone announced its “colour of the year” for 2019 is Living Coral, a bright, cheerful peach. This 'animating and life-affirming shade of orange with a golden undertone' will bring a vibrant and happy tone to your home, guaranteed!

Pantone colour of the year ‘Living Coral’.

Pantone colour of the year ‘Living Coral’.

OUT - GENDERED ROOMS

Gone are the days of blue and pink rooms. It’s time to mix it up with gender neutral colours so as not to dampen creative potential and reinforce hidden biases.

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IN- SUSTAINABILITY

Society is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of environmentally responsible building and interior design. So the next time you buy a piece of furniture make sure it is sourced from a sustainable resource, so your home doesn’t have a negative environmental impact on our society.

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OUT - GREYS

Grey was the 2016's color of the year according to Pinterest, but since then, warmer tones have begun to enter the minimalistic homes, like natural hues.

IN- BIOPHILIA

Biophilia emphasises the relationship between humankind and nature, and the connections between the two. So try and bring the outside and nature into your home by incorporating natural, organic materials–such as wood floors, stone, and daylight and plant life.

Christmas decorations for the modern home!

If you're not a massive fan of traditional Christmas decorations, we've come up with some simple, modern ways to  give your house that yuletide feeling!

For that Scandinavian look pop some small ferns, eucalyptus branches or holly around your home in vases or along the dining table.

Try decorating your home with eucalyptus. We're year-round fans of eucalyptus. It's cheap, smells amazing, easy to display and lasts all the way through the festive season. Scatter it down the table on Christmas Day, hang from the mantlepiece or wrap around candles for a cool, clean look. 

Hang fairy lights and Scandinavian inspired wall hangings or place fairy lights in vases or jars to make your home sparkle this Christmas. The simpler the better but boy will it make an impact in your home.

Everyone loves a wreath but they can look a little dated. So why not hang alternative star wreaths or eucalyptus wreaths around your home for that minimalist Christmas feel. You can always ask your florist for suggestions or try making your own!

If you want to give your home that wow factor why not hang a modern wreath or branch over your dining table to make your Christmas meal more impressive. Hang decorations or fairy lights from the branch for that added sparkle which your guests will love!

Desinging a home bar!

The festive season is upon us and we love a good knees up so we wanted to give you some inspiration on how to design a home bar so you can entertain your guests in style this Christmas and New Year!

How often will you use it? 

For everyday entertaining, a large cupboard can be easily converted into a practical bar or a drinks trolley is a simple but very stylish solution. 

Wet or dry? 

You can create a ‘dry’ bar practically anywhere in your home but if you are a serious mixologist you'll need a 'wet' bar which incorporates a built-in sink and ice maker and ideally a dishwasher so that no one has to ferry glasses back and forth to the kitchen. Therefore plumbing and electrics will need to be considered in the design!

Choosing your materials  

Bars can be made out of any material, but to avoid damage to surfaces that will get wet repeatedly use stainless-steel, aluminium, glass or mirrored tops.

If you would like to entertain your guests this Christmas and New Years in style then check out our favourite home bars below and call us for a quote.

Our favourite Christmas Interiors!

Well Christmas day is nearly upon us and we cant contain our excitement! So we've put together our favourite Christmas interiors of this year (we hope you like them) and we wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Alternative Christmas tree ideas.

Real evergreens and artificial trees aren't the only Christmas tree options available. If you're short on space or if you're just looking for a unique tree this year then check out these alternatives!  

Our favourite kids rooms!

We just love a design that incorporates built -in storage and bespoke beds to maximise space as well as allowing the kids to climb and have fun! So check out our favourite kids bedroom designs and contact us for a quote today!

Our favourite freestanding baths!

Freestanding baths can work to create a stunning focal point for your bathroom while also adding a touch of elegance and personality.

They can often be costly though so, before you invest in a new stylish tub here are some things you should give some thought to.

 

Weight

This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, but bathtubs are heavy - especially freestanding ones - and they'll only get heavier once you add a tub so can your home handle the weight of a freestanding bathtub?

Before you purchase your dream freestanding tub (and we've got some lovely examples below) make sure your home can physically withstand the pressure of it all, unless you want to cause some seriously structural damage to your home.

 

Location

Where you position your tub can make all the difference between a stylish and relaxing bathroom, and one that looks horribly cramped. Obviously, if you have a larger bathroom this won't be as much as a problem, but if your bathroom is on the smaller side of things this will be something you'll have to put some thought into.

Consider placing your bathtub somewhere with enough space on either side to stack your toiletries (soaps, shampoos, conditioner, etc) and maybe even a laundry basket. This will make sure you've got enough 'wiggle room' to stop your bathroom from looking a little too squashed together.

For those with smaller bathrooms, opt for a slipper bath model as these tend to fit neatly into smaller rooms and help to give the illusion of space.

 

Style

Freestanding bathtubs act as a statement piece in any room, but what kind of statement you make all depends on the style you go for.

Decide whether you want your bathroom to have a contemporary or traditional look. If you're looking for something modern you might want to go with a tub with a trendy metallic finish or a bespoke paint job to match the room. For a traditional look, you can never go wrong with a classic slipper bath.

Here are some of our favourite freestanding tubs to get you started...

Kitchen renovation trends 2018!

For an up to date and stylish kitchen why not incorporate these trends into your kitchen. 

Clean and fresh benchtops

Get ready to see smaller, thinner benchtops with straight edges, creating a sleek and clean look in your cooking zones.  

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Deep Storage

Deep drawers make storage for cooking a breeze, allowing you to store large items like saucepans and appliances without cluttering bench space.

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Sinks and tapware

Taps with a motion sensor capabilities and tapware with moving hinges make cleaning more practical.

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Black Fixtures

Black is classic in the fact that it will always work with just about every style and color palette that you have going on.

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Built-in Sinks

This one might be one of our favorites, and we are calling it “built-in sinks”. Which basically translates as having your sink be the exact same material as your countertop creating a seamless transition between the two and keeping the whole area looking very clean visually. 

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Concrete

Concrete is making its way up from the floor to the countertops and we love the look. Concrete is a very affordable option but it isn’t just for counters, your walls can look just as chic in the material.

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Hidden Hoods

The more subtle “hidden” hood that these kitchens are showing off look super stylish.

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No Upper Cabinets

If you have the storage elsewhere and you don't need the upper cabinets then this trend will not only cut costs but create a much more open feeling kitchen.

 

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The best indoor trees!

When it comes to making design statements at home, large indoor plants is our favourite trend so far! Most of us know instinctively that being close to greenery makes us feel more at ease with our surroundings. We experience less stress when there are plants around us. Buildings are quieter and more relaxed but, at the same time, more stimulating and interesting. Indoor trees and plants can also

  1. Increase humidity 
  2. Reduce levels of certain pollutants, such as benzene and nitrogen dioxide 
  3. Reduce airborne dust levels 
  4. Keep air temperatures down 
  5. Reduce carbon dioxide levels

 Indoor trees can work beautifully so long as the tree receives the essentials: air, water, soil and sunlight. It’s also important to consider the tree’s growth habits, requirements and ongoing maintenance.Stay away from trees that produce messy fruits, or need to be constantly fertilized or pruned. Of course, you also want to be mindful of plants that have poisonous parts and opt for nontoxic ones if you have kids or pets.

So check out the different styles below and decide which one would complement your home.

Our favourite intergrated sinks!

The countertop is getting the modern treatment and the sinks are not being left behind. The favorite look for homeowners is a sleek continuous style from the countertop and down into the sink. The integrated sink with countertop has become another trend in kitchen countertops for 2018.

Integrated sinks are made from the same material as the countertop. So the two blend seamlessly between the countertop and the sink. What you have is a smooth flow from your working surface to your sink, resulting in a chic modern style. The lack of a break allows a smooth and proper wipe down of your work area. You do not have to worry about dirty water and food bits getting stuck in the space between the countertop and the sink. A quick wipe is enough to eliminate any marks and stains on the countertop. So check out our favourite built-in sinks and call us for a qoute!

How to design a kid friendly home!

Kids destroy homes! So how do have a stylish space that caters to the kids as well?

The kitchen

  • Have a butler’s pantry, if you have the space, or a ‘butler’s cupboard’. This way, all the gear from the morning routine (toaster, bread, kettle, etc) can be easily packed away, leaving your space free of clutter.
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  • Natural stone and marble benchtops are too easy to stain so instead, consider a composite stone such as caesarstone, as they are virtually indestructible or a matt-finish laminate has a fingerprint proof, scratch-resistant finish too which is perfect for the kiddies.
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  • Grout can become a grime magnet on a tiled splash back. For an easier wipe-up, opt for a single-slab splash back in the same material as your bench.
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  • If you’re building from new, you’ll want your kitchen layout to enable the little tykes to run through, as they like to do, without tripping you up. So go with a walk-around island bench or a double-entry layout. Keeping the foot traffic in your kitchen flowing is key to functionality.
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  • Kids love a handle, and the best way to keep their grubby little paws away from your cabinetry is by installing push-to-open drawers and cupboards. At least it will take them a little longer to figure out how to get into every corner of the kitchen.
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  • A mid-mount wall oven is the safest option when toddlers are underfoot. It will not only save your aching back, but also may save a burnt little hand or two by keeping the hot stuff out of reach.
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The living area

  • Tp keep all those toys packed away try an ottoman or a sofa with hidden storage inside, or a few cupboards in the entertainment unit for all things Peppa Pig.
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  • Kids will destroy fabric sofas if you don't have a good scotch guard protection on the fabric so make sure to get your new sofa protected when you buy it and make sure it has a warranty. Or go for leather! 
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  • Kids’ heads seem to be a magnet for sharp corners or a solid edge, so choose furniture that will ‘soften the blow’ like a round coffee table.
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  • Mount your heavy TV on the wall and you’ll never have to worry about your kids pulling your expensive TV off a shelf.
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The bathrooms

  • A wet zone containing a shower and bath in one area and installing a fixed glass panel to separate it from the toilet/basin area will look so much better and will cater to a busier household.
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  • Use large tiles to reduce the amount of dirt-attracting grout or use dark grout as this will hide much more dirt and grime than a lighter grout. You could even take it a step further by committing to an epoxy grout (as opposed to the regular cement-based version). This resin-based grout is much hardier and will look better for much longer.
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Now you know what would be best to keep our home stylish but practical for your family call us for a quote and we'll be happy to give you the perfect family home.

How to create a relaxing home!

When designing our homes, it’s easy to think about the essential spaces we need: kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms, living room and garden, but sometimes we can forget to factor in the room we need most: the room to relax. It can pay to incorporate or create extra spaces that invite us to escape from the stresses of work and family life.

Install a family-size day bed
Create a large day bed for a really inviting space to retreat. Because of the size, it’s a great spot for the kids to hang out, too, and encourages everything from sitting to flopping to sleeping to playing games. 

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Add a chaise longue
For a cheaper alternative to a bespoke day bed add a chaise longue. By adding a side table with a plant as well as a cosy throw rug, you are turning the area into a relaxation zone.

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Create a reading nook
All you need is a little alcove that gets some lovely light coming through, then add one comfortable chair!

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Create a TV-free zone
If you have the luxury of space, try creating a room without a TV (and no other electronics allowed) to encourage device-free unwinding. 

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Sleep under the stars
An outdoor daybed invites lazy afternoon snoozes and even late evening stargazing when the weather is warm enough. 

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Swing between the trees
This one requires no renovating and no expense other than the cost of a hammock or swing. 

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Indoor hammock
Who said hammocks were for outdoor use only? If you have the space, why not consider hanging one inside? 

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Create an outdoor living room
Long gone are the days of uncomfortable plastic and steel outdoor furniture. Invest in the best quality, most comfortable outdoor furniture you can afford to create a truly inviting space you are realistically likely to use. 

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Garden Trends 2018!

We've been eagerly looking at the upcoming garden trends of 2018 and here are our favourite trends we think everyone should try this spring/summer.

Create the ultimate outdoor dining area.

 Many people automatically design outdoor dining spaces right off the back of the house. But making an all-inclusive destination within the landscape immerses people in the ambience. It makes for a more luxurious experience and guests get to see more of your garden.

Surround the dining room with in-ground and container plants for a lush feeling.

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Turn your dining area into a sanctuary with special flooring, lighting and furniture and include entertainment spaces nearby, such as a fire pit or pool.

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Create a place of calm.

Mindfulness - the ancient Buddhist tradition of immersing yourself in the present moment. So focus on incorporating elements which stimulate the senses - like accents of calming blues and energising yellows or pots of  therapeutic lavender and a water feature to create a relaxing ambience.

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Create an area for Mental Wellness.

Using air purifying and calming plants can help to create relaxed environments and increase general well-being and happiness. Plants such as Bamboo palms, rubber plants and ferns are particularly effective at removing chemical contaminants from the air.

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Create an Imperfect garden.

‘Wabi-Sabi’ is the art of appreciating beauty in the ‘naturally imperfect world’ – so go for incompleteness, impermanence, and simplicity such as iron ornaments which will rust and change over time, or using stone water features which will encourage moss to grow.

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Grow Purple Fruits and Vegetables.

Purple fruits and vegetables are the latest craze, as they’re full of potent antioxidants which help defend our bodies against disease.

So why don't you grow your own purple tomatoes, carrots and even cauliflower, as well as more common purple foods such as aubergine, beetroot, blackcurrants and blackberries.

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If you want to revamp your garden into a oasis of calm and luxury then call us and we'd be happy to give you a free no obligation quote! 

Our favourite Brass Kitchens!

What was once considered, well, brassy is now something to covet and keep. Designers have been turning away from polished brass and are now embracing satin or brushed brass, which is more muted and warm.

Minimal maintenance

To keep a brass worktop clean all you need to is dish soap and a sponge or soft cloth. If you use any other cleaning agent it might stain helping the patina to develop faster.

Unique look

It doesn’t get more unique than brass, especially if you age it. The best part of having this as a worktop material is that it is a living surface and will change appearance quite drastically. This is a bonus if you’re adventurous and love that worn in look.

Patina

Much the same as copper, brass will also develop a patina over time. Some people love the aged look while others want it to look more polished.

Antimicrobial properties

Brass has natural antimicrobial properties! But be warned if you seal the worktop for a uniform look this will neutralise these properties. 

Not heat proof

Although some say it’s fine to put a hot pan down on a copper or brass surface we don’t recommend this. It will cause the metal to expand and warp.

Now you know the pro's and con's here are our favourite brass kitchens!! Enjoy!

Home trends to look out for!

We've been scouring the interior design mags and websites to bring you our favourite upcoming trends this year. Think natural, calm and relaxing! We love them!

New neutrals.

Pale and interesting colours like rose, lavender, mint,  lilac and palest peach will be the must have hues . Think muted down pastels with a hint of grey so they create warmth and delicacy to any home environment.

Jesmonite

It's time to get creative with colours and incorporate Jesmonite into your home whether you incorporate it into the kitchen work top or for a more subtle look as small vases or pots. Jesmonite is a fun alternative to concrete because ti is light and durable.

3D Wallpaper

Gone are the days of boring old wallpaper - now we have 3D wallpaper which will amaze your guests and create the most exciting statement walls to date!

Woven nature

A great trend that we will be using around the home are rattan and woven furniture and accessories. This look is all about texture and bringing nature into the home. Think woven wall coverings, woven rugs, rattan bed frames, chairs and light fittings.

Indoor trees

Now for our favourite trend of all - Indoor trees will be a big trend and the bigger the better! Choose a tree suited to your  homes conditions but ideally put the plant outdoors for a stint in summer so it lasts all winter!  but The trendiest plants to buy are- ferns, figs, olives and citrus. The tree will literally and meaphorically breathe new life into your home!!

What's the right cooker for you?

A good oven should last for years and be something you can rely on to produce great dishes every time! Whatever your budget and lifestyle, there's a huge choice available. It's also a big purchasing decision, so you'll want to make sure you get it right. Here's what you need to know when buying an oven.

Electric cookers

  • Cooking is quicker.

  • Colour is even, but usually paler and less glossy.

  • Pre-heating is usually unnecessary.

  • Good for batch baking (cooking on more than one shelf) because of the even heat distribution.

  • Cooking times/temperatures are always less than traditional ovens.

  • The food surface may be drier and less crisp.

 

Gas cookers

  • You'll find the top shelf is slightly hotter, lower shelf slightly cooler and the base cooler still.

  • Gas is a much moister form of heat than electric, particularly noticeable when baking.

  • The end result is food with a glossy appearance on the outside and a moist texture inside. 

Now you've decided if you want gas or electric what style of cooker best suits you?

 

Freestanding cookers

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Freestanding cookers offer great value for money and there's a wide range of styles available to suit most kitchen designs.

If you have an existing gap in your kitchen they're easy to slot in and, of course, you can easily take them with you if you move home.

Freestanding cookers come in three standard widths: 60cm, 55cm and 50cm. Most are about 80cm tall and 60-65cm deep, so they should sit flush with your work counters.

 

Built-in cooker

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A built-in cooker seamlessly blends into your kitchen for a modern and stylish look

If you want the flexibility of a range cooker but don’t have the space for one, or worry it’ll be out of step with your sleek new kitchen units, a built-in oven is the way to go.

Built-in ovens, as the name suggests, are installed into kitchen units or fixed to cupboard doors. A built-in oven is usually 60cm wide, which is the same as standard kitchen units.

You have the option to place it at eye level so it's easy to see how your dishes are cooking and the flexibility to put the hob where you like – according to where it works best for you.

 

RANGE OVENS

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These have either two side-by-side ovens or one extra-wide oven with an internal grill, plus a storage or warming compartment and a substantial hob.

You will not, however, get more cooking space than with a conventional oven - external dimensions are larger but the oven may be of normal size or even smaller.

Most have useful extras such as a wok burner, an extra burner for fish kettles, a griddle or barbecue plates and warming zones.

 

Heat storage ovens

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Heat storage or Aga-type cookers use stored heat. They take approximately six hours to heat up so once on you leave them on.

Heat inside the oven stays relatively constant, but there is a large variation in temperature between gradients, so you'll need to move dishes up and down to control how wuickly they cook.

Aga-type cookers look beautiful and help to create a warm heart to the home, but they can be expensive to run and require practice to use effectively.

They can use various types of fuel, including electricity, gas, oil, wood and solid fuel. Most, except all electric, require a flue and are very heavy to install.

 

Things to consider

•If you batch bake and cook traditional foods, opt for a multi-function oven.

• If you only cook traditional foods choose a static type; otherwise a electric fan oven is better for batch baking, quick cooking (reheating ready meals) and defrosting.

• Alternatively, look for a separate grill and main oven for versatility and convenience.

• Check for cool-touch oven doors, especially useful if you have young children. Even on a high temperature the oven door will remain warm only.

• Eye-level grills are the most convenient to use but don't look as streamlined. Otherwise, check that a grill below the hob is comfortable for you to use.

• To save money and energy choose a half-grill facility for small batches of grilling.

• Check the oven is at a comfortable height for loading.

• Choose side-opening or drop-down doors to suit your needs.

• Clearly marked and easy-to-use controls. Some are illuminated for easier use.

• On gas appliances look for safety and flame-failure devices.

• BSI approval or equivalent Continental standards.

• Storage drawer and plate-warming racks. Grill can double for plate warming.

• Reversible door hanging to fit in with your kitchen layout.

• Minute minders may be useful.

• An oven light and clear door-viewing panel.

• Automatic timers that will switch the oven on when you are out.

• Childproof controls.

Now that you have a clearer idea of what cooker will work best in your kitchen, let XI Projects design and create your perfect kitchen for you!! 

Under stair storage designs!

If you need more storage and you have would like to utilise the space underneath your stairs then check out our favourite under stairs storage designs. Once you've picked your favourite give us a call and we'll give you a quote.