Monday, 19 February 2018

How to Design a Luxury Bathroom and Kitchen on a Budget

Everyone wants a high-end look for their home, but most of us don’t have the budget to allow this. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can dupe those expensive tile looks to give you a sophisticated finish that won’t break the bank. 

Marble Effect 
A great way of adding some much needed luxury is with the addition of some marble effect tiles. Made from porcelain, marble effect tiles simply carry the look of marble for that gorgeous, expensive look. The best part about using a marble effect tile is that its made from the highly accessible porcelain. This means regular cleaning methods are all that is needed to maintain these tiles long term. 
marble effect bathroom

Patterned Tiles 
Hugely on trend right now, patterned tiles can help you to get a stylish and contemporary look in no time. Whether they be coloured or monochromatic, patterned tiles add dimension and class to a room. Their contemporary look in unparalleled and work beautifully when paired with plain tiles for a stark contrast. Whether they be used on walls or floors, patterned tiles can help any bathroom or kitchen to immediately look like as though it costs ten times as much as it really did. 
patterned tiles

Slate Effect 
All the rage right now, rustic homes are more popular than ever. Their dreamy combination of old and new gives them a stand out look that somehow captures modernity with a familiar, homely twist. A great way of starting this look is with slate effect tiles. Traditionally, slate tiles make excellent kitchen floor tiles, and the porcelain equivalent is not different. As with marble effect tiles, slate effect tiles are also made from porcelain. This makes them much easier to look after than a natural slate, so is something to consider if you’re torn between the two. 
Slate floor

 Mosaic Tiles 
 Mosaic tiles are perfect for creating a point of interest in a room. Whether it be a feature wall or a splashback, mosaic tiles catch the eye thanks to their beautiful shine. When working to a budget however, a whole mosaic wall could be just out of your price range. A way around this is to instead use mosaics on a smaller scale. Mosaic tiles make perfect borders around a room, splashbacks above cookers or sinks or even as a strip down one wall or in the shower area. This still adds that point of interest without sending your wallet running. Mosaic tiles aren’t sold as individual tiny pieces as some people presume. They are actually sold in sections with a mesh backing, which makes creating designs easy and not at all time consuming. And there you have it! Four tile ideas for creating expensive looks that don’t live up to their expected price tag. With modern advancements in manufacturing, porcelain effect tiles can hold their own against the real thing and give everyone the chance to work with a huge variety of aesthetics. 
Mosaic splashback in a kitchen

 *collaborative post

Friday, 9 February 2018

Muddy paws, puddles and waggy tails

We have always had dogs but since last year we have, for the first time brought puppies into the home. Boo is 6 months and then we added Pixie into the mix. So....three dogs, one very old and two young. The joy from them is of course immense, they cheer me up on gloomy days and my son loves their antics and has a lovely bond with them that draws him out of his shell. They complete the home.
Floppy eared puppy

However, three dogs does create mess and whilst I love them, keeping a house clean was at first a little challenging with the muddy paws, the puppy toilet training and that doggy smell (that often I don't notice), oh and the hair..... 

I have a few tips, from my general experience of how to enjoy a home with a waggy tail or tails and still be able to feel like the house is presentable. 

Firstly, I cannot be more happy with having wood flooring as it is extremely easy to keep looking clean and is infinitely better than a carpet in the downstairs rooms of my home. Any pup mess is cleared up and wiped with disinfectant, any hair is vacuumed and I have a seamless clean space from the front door to the kitchen that looks bright and airy. Whilst training the pups, of course there will be accidents as they are learning and well sometimes it can take a while. Muddy paws after walks are mostly dealt with using a small towel by the door and as part of handling training they are used to their paws being wiped and handled gently. The wooden floor is easily kept clean and I use a scented disinfectant - actually I have a cinnamon Zoflora addiction that makes the house smell of Christmas. I can't imaging having carpet and the smells that would be retained. The wooden floor is practical and durable and is a super choice if you have pets....and children. It keeps dust down and feels really hygenic. 
puppies playing

The pups have their own beds, so they have a cosy space to snuggle in at any point during the day. Pixie has decided that a space under the table and by the radiator (clever girl) is the place to be. However, yes they do also choose to snooze on the furniture and I'm ok with this as they are my babies and that's just the way I've always been with dogs. But I have a selection of throws and blankets in a basket that I use that have a rotation of being washed, frequently at the moment. This keeps the actual sofa ok and I can easily freshen things up. This is so handy for when friends come over and I can swap a sofa throw quickly and other people aren't leaving covered in dog hair - except for when they jump all over guests of course :) 
Febreeze is also your friend! Baking soda is another good item to have, sprinkle it on any accidents on soft furnishings or carpet and it draws the wet and the smell out - another reason why I prefer the wooden flooring as it avoids this......I recommend stair gates to keep your furry friends downstairs. My pups only go upstairs supervised so I don't find surprises in the bedrooms!
Patterpoo puppy

For general doggy smells I have scented candles and wax tarts, a hoard of them. The litttle votives and wax melts are cheap and cheerful and they look pretty in a glass jar too. You can get pet smell neutralising candles too, Price's do a great one and I've seen them in the vets for sale too. Frequently airing the house helps too on nice sunny days - hopefully some of them to look forward to in spring. I try not to use air freshener sprays when the dogs are around as they make them sneeze. 

Finally, what better than a warm bubble bath for the dogs. It's a good thing to get the pups used to having a scrub and a nice experience for them and keeps coats smelling lovely and clean. I've been using a special pup shampoo and also trying to start grooming their hair, particularly Pixie who is rough coated and the shedder of the two. My elderly dog is not up for baths as much and she doesn't get herself muddy anymore so some pet wipes keep her fresh, although we do bathe her paws from time to time if she's got into a mess in the garden - usually due to her vision not being as good anymore. 

So.....if you visit me, I hope you find my home smelling fresh but you may have to sit on the floors....
Three sleeping dogs

*Collaborative post

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Thinking back to Christmas

Christmas collage

Late to capture the Christmas cheer
Well into the start of another busy year
Yule now just a dried up sprig of fir
Behind cupboards and lurking in corners behind a wreathless door
Memories contained in that gold glitter sprinkled
and the remnants of wrapping paper used as a bookmark crinkled

Toys not yet played and gifts not yet homed,
Waiting for chance to look at them I moaned
Cards of robins giving tidings from over in Yorkshire
Still not thanked them, really must oughta

But now the momentums been lost like the giftcard for Boots
Gone with the brazil nuts, salted peanuts, dried fruits
Ah no wait a minute we have bags of them left
Bought far too much, they'll do for this year instead

Still using up sprays and candles all cinammon and spiced
Can't quite switch to spring posy or cotton sheet nights
Spare fairylight bulbs in the Santa mug on the shelf
A lingering troupe of mantlepiece angels and where is that Elf?
Armchair book stacks of old wintry tales,
Pop-up Nutcracker and the folklore of wassails.

The evening clouds roll in soon after tea
Kindling pinecone lit fires, sat with dog outstretched on my knee
Longing for spring but then happy to wait for its start
Keeping the spirit of Christmas-not-quite-finished in my heart

Saturday, 23 December 2017

December light snowfall

light snow on rooftops
Curtains open. Snow overnight whilst we all dreamt of sledging, skidding and snowballing, big fat flurries falling on roofs, turning the parks, playing fields, gardens and verges into snowman playgrounds. Not to be. Mid Cheshire snow, so brief and so light, as if the salty earth in these parts stops the flakes from settling and instead allows a brief dusting to excite the townsfolk before quickly melting away.

Boots on, crunch of crystalline paths to the town church with smatterings of snow on gate pillars and gathering in mini drifts along the original churchyard wall, God's Acre now belonging to Boreas. Pockets of snow in grassy tufts by gravestones, collecting in the words of the forgotten, 1845. A solitary flake eddies and lands on shouldered stone, I remember you, the cold remembers you well.
St Helen Witton church in the snow

Snow dusted graveyard

Along the path by the great east window, walked already by hardy shoppers in buttoned up coats and hopped by hardy birds in buttoned up feather jackets, carrying their bags and their worms. Wheels from pushchairs and brave slippy cyclists with chilled hands gripping handlebars, knuckled red and puffs of breath chugging along. Here the churchyard is littered with the decay of fallen headstones like the aftermath of a battle. Crosses lay wounded in icy snow and weary angels pray for no thaw.
We all want more snow.
Snowy path through the churchyard

Cross in the snow

East window Witton church NorthwichBack by the south porch, about to shrug shoulders, glance optimistically at the quilted sky one last time when the feather burst happened. Downy snowflakes large as goose quills falling heavily, the furious emptying of huge pillows. Eyelashes sparkling and obscured by Arctic drifts with every blink as I pretend I might be later snowshoeing it across the ledger stones, past the old wall and under the icicle hanging wrought iron gate back home whilst dodging snowballs hurled by excited children. 

Reality is such that the squall and dance of the flakes did obscure the church tower for a couple of minutes, a Gothic blur as gargoyles and grotesque heads caught flakes in grimacing toothy smiles and gurns accumulated white powder, lolling tongues tasted globs of snow and a poof of  last night's frost shot out of the spouts like winter cannons. The sun just a faint low hanging light as if it had suddenly been ambushed and bundled into a sack, gauzy, muffled......the snow falling onto the old sundial, covering that too for good measure, stating the day simply and clearly as winter time.
South porch Witton Northwich

Snow covered grave

Church path by the sundial

Church in a blizzard

Monday, 18 December 2017

Church and chapel conversions

I'm now in the second year of a post graduate diploma in parish church studies and I'm enjoying it so much, learning about the history of churches and their care and conservation. One topic which frequently comes up in the press is what to do about churches that lie redundant, no congregation entering to sing hymns, long gone church fetes and no candles flickering in the stained glass windows. I love the buildings and their architecture and I'm all for them being reused for different purposes and one that appeals to me is turning them into glorious places to live, I've seen a few on the market  and if a graveyard as a back garden doesn't faze you too much then what incredible spaces to live.

Second stories and galleries can be created for upstairs living, contemporary and functional with perhaps a metal spiral staircase, look for staircases online UK, which will add the living space required and breathe new life into the forgotten church. I would love nothing more than sleeping by walls where so many have passed, wondering what lives have experienced, so much history in your home.
church conversion
Image from Rightmove
With the height that affords a church, why not have an amazingly sophisticated outdoor space too, a terrace if planning will allow, outdoor metal staircases flanked by bay trees to an entertaining area. Many churches were built during the Victorian area in cities and large towns when most people attended church, modern times and these churches are being sold off. Renovations changing use of these magnificent buildings. Many churches in London have been converted and there are some excellent examples to draw on, blending 19th century architecture with contemporary living. Given the large space, often they are converted to unique apartments - vaulted ceiling bedrooms with light streaming in through rose and huge leaded windows.
Church renovation
Image Rightmove

Many non-conformist chapels, such as Methodist chapels are also perfect renovation opportunities and they are to be found on the market with bespoke interiors. Smaller than Anglican churches, often these chapels are a better option as a single house. Rectangular shaped for the manner of preaching that was done within them and now a large space for open plan living. Unique exteriors and grand entrances creating the wow factor, sympathetically fitted with fixtures and fittings making the most of the building's heritage.
Methodist chapel
Image from Rightmove

I once had a look around a converted chapel with Sunday school attached which was on the market, a Grade II listed building retaining many of the original features. Such a clever conversion that whilst being a modern home on the inside, you could still clearly feel that you were in a historic building. Back then I wasn't into churches and I admit that I thought it might be a little creepy - oh how things change!

Living in a church would certainly be different and a commitment to take on board, consider the dimensions for heating and lighting, also to what degree you may make alterations. Friends often send me the details of churches they've seen for sale so you never know, it would be quite fitting for my studies.
Converted church bedroom
Image source Rightmove

*Collaborative Post