Monthly Archives: October 2011

Progress on our design, build and renovation project

Have you missed my updates, we weren’t here everyday over the half term break but thankfully our builders were so we are still making good progress. When I dropped into our neighbours on Friday evening they mentioned that the builders had been here at 8am every morning despite our absence which is a real joy.

We have a serious amount of block work up and a single course of some stone too which is looking good. It’s amazing how the dimensions keep changing as you build. To start with, the ground work looked enormous, then it shrank as we got the footings in and you could see the exact shape of the build. Then it grew again when the ground beams went in and now it seems to have shrunk again but I guess that is just because we are seeing the walls going up for the first time.

The block work walls

Today Lee has been concentrating on placing some lintels in to the utility so that should we need to move the ground beams in order to accommodate the new beam which the structural engineer is currently specifying we can.

The lintel in the utility

 It all seems like a lot of extra work for the underpinning of the garage which isn’t really taking much extra weight and which is on solid stone so isn’t going anywhere. But I guess it needs to be done.

Tomorrow they are looking forward to staring the stone work for the exterior walls. To be honest I’m looking forward to that too as it will then feel like we have a house being built!

If you have a building project, interior or garden and landscaping project which you need help with or ideas for then please give me a ring: Alison 01572 747318 or 07973843020.

I work on interior design and garden design projects in Stamford and Rutland as well as further afield. I will design a garden to complement the architecture of your home and choose the right landscaping materials to complement it. If you are frustrated with endless searching for the right fabric or wallpaper and paint colours and overwhelmed with the enormous choice, then allow me to make a handpicked selection for you. I will complement the style of your existing rooms and provide a few choice pieces which will bring the whole look together.

Inspiring you to garden

Sometimes we need some garden inspiration to make us think differently about our own gardens. Over the summer I visited the show gardens at the International Garden festival which is held in the beautiful grounds of the chateau of Chaumont in the Loire valley, France.

Views through one of the gardens to the Chateau

 
 The theme for 2011 is Gardens for the future and many gardens dealt with the need for biodiversity in our living landscape. There was a number of gardens raising the alarm about the number of species we are losing each year and the much about educating the public, not just on the need to grow more of our own and to generally garden more but of the need to think about energy use in the garden too.
 

Emphasising the fertilityof bulbs

Handle with care: takes the theme of plant loss

Creating our own energy for the water feature was a popular passtime

Conserving water was a key theme

As was the need to encourage wildlife

The take away garden envisaged a world where every citizen had a tree in a bag to look after

And materials were recycled to create structure within the garden

If you have a garden or landscaping project which you need help with or ideas for then please give me a ring: Alison 01572 747318 or 07973843020.

I work on interior design and garden design projects in Stamford and Rutland as well as further afield. I will design a garden to complement the architecture of your home and choose the right landscaping materials to complement it. If you are frustrated with endless searching for the right fabric or wallpaper and paint colours and overwhelmed with the enormous choice, then allow me to make a handpicked selection for you. I will complement the style of your existing rooms and provide a few choice pieces which will bring the whole look together.

How do I make my home sell?

Having a good interior layout and good interior design is key to ensuring that your house is at the top of any potential buyer’s mind. We are all aware of the rule of keeping to a neutral colour scheme and to tidy up – but if you go too neutral you are at risk of making it bland and forgettable, too colourful and you risk putting potential buyers off.

Ensure a neautral interior has enough interest so that it isn’t bland

The colours of your walls are the single most important factor when presenting your home to potential buyers. People are generally not good at visualising the potential of a room. Even a single wall painted a bizarre colour can be a stumbling block so for most houses neutral colours are safest. However don’t shy away from creating some interest and style – just avoid too much drama! Try using wall paper with large bold prints but keep it to one wall and use a complimentary paint colour to pull it all together.

Use wallpaper ona feature wall tocreate a striking image which prospective purchasers will remember (for all the right reasons).

To make rooms appear larger paint skirting boards and woodwork the same colour. If you have the luxury of large rooms, painting skirting and architraves darker and walls lighter will make them less cavernous and more homely.

Add colour accents with paintings and soft furnishings. Scatter cushions and throws are a good way of harmonising a scheme. Your soft furnishings should all be in the same colour palette with different textures to add depth. You can also try adding pattern, but sparingly, and always in the same hues. If in doubt, leave it out.

If you know the layout of a room is currently unworkable then change it – even if this means you can’t use it for the purpose you originally planned it. The next potential owner may have a different use for it anyway.

Cluttered spaces scream ‘too small’ to potential buyers. Your furniture should be in proportion to the room size. A large sofa in a small cottage will dominate the room making buyers feel hemmed in. If you can’t change it, then covering it with a light coloured textured fabric will go a long way to reducing its impact. If you need more seating use small side chairs which will give the room a sense of space and practicality.

In a small room using small pieces of furniture which won’t overwhelm

Cleaning may not be your everyday priority but dirty, tatty kitchens and bathrooms are a big turn-off. A day spent spring cleaning is time well spent. Remember you are selling a lifestyle and no one wants to buy into a home that feels unloved and uncared for.

Unfortunately everyone’s taste differs, but when it comes to selling your house put aside your personal preferences. Remember less is more and minimise the number of decorative objects on display.

Don’t overlook lighting either. As we come into winter it is even more important and a few well placed lamps and warm shades in light bulbs can go a long way to brightening a home. 

If you feel you need some expert advice then do get in touch. I undertake consultations in your  home or garden to discuss home décor, paint schemes, window treatments and whole room interior design or garden design projects. Tel: 01572 747318 or 07973843020.

 

Exciting times: our design, build and renovation project

It’s been a busy week both in the design business and on our design, build and renovation project here in Rutland. I’ve had furniture delivered for clients, taken two new client briefs and been working on site in a client garden. My merino wool thermals have had their first outing of the winter too – my goodness it was chilly if you were standing still on Thursday. It’s a good job we had lots to do in the garden and kept very warm.

Narcissus in a garden design for a Lincolnshire garden

The first batches of my bulbs have gone it to client gardens too – lots of Allium Purple Sensation, and Allium Christophii mixed with early flowering Narcissus Thalia, which as a fabulous scent, and Tulip Spring Green and Attila. The remainder of the  Narcissus will be naturalized within the front of the border for a great display next Spring.

Tulip attila in a garden design

             

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tulip Attila in a Rutland garden

                                                                                        Allium Purple Sensation in a                                                                                     design project in Lincolnshire

our design build and renovation project the stone has now arrived. Our road is rather tight for deliveries but Stamford Stone were great and off loaded effortlessly with a Moffett forklift which unbelievably weighs 3 1/2 tonnes! Not only could it negotiate the road easily but it’s front and back wheels turn independently so it can be facing straight ahead but crawl like a crab sideways – quite ingenious. I’m hopeful that the two boys next door managed to see it in operation from their kitchen window.

Using the Moffett forklift gear

I was rather pleased with the stone, we’re trying to complement the existing old stone on the original part of the house which dates to about 1820, and with the more modern (what I’d call walling stone) on the existing kitchen extension. We’re opted for cut on bed stone from Stamford Stone Company Ltd (www.stamfordstone.co.uk) which has some lovely honey tones but a little bit of blue/ grey too. It will blend quite well.

 

Stacks of our stone ready for laying

If you have a building project, interior project or garden and landscaping project which you need help with or ideas for then please give me a ring: Alison 01572 747318 or 07973843020.

I work on interior design and garden design projects in Stamford and Rutland as well as further afield. I will design a garden to complement the architecture of your home and choose the right landscaping materials to complement it. If you are frustrated with endless searching for the right fabric or wallpaper and paint colours and overwhelmed with the enormous choice, then allow me to make a handpicked selection for you. I will complement the style of your existing rooms and provide a few choice pieces which will bring the whole look together.

Rutland design, build and renovation

 The concrete blocks on site seem to be breeding this week. I go back in to the office and the next time I look out the window we have another piled stacked up and waiting. They’re like a marching army ready to make progress as soon as the builder says go.

Our blocks stand to attention

They strand to attention and wait for the final pieces to be pout together and then we can start on the walls and those columns of blocks will soon be walls at window level. Which reminds me I must get the window catalogue back out and finalise just what we are having. What was putting me off making a decision was the window furniture – the latches and locks can be so ugly (or just utilitarian) and its small details like that which I like to get right to begin with, rather than have to replace later on. Talking of window furniture, did I mention the lovely door knobs I got from the Walcot reclamation sale, they are stunning.

After the block and beam floor went in last week we have made good progress, the only thing holding us up at the moment is the need to underpin the garage as it was only on a floating slab.

A moment to think!

The holes which will form the concrete pads for the supporting beam

The structural engineer has been and produced a set of new calculations so we know how to proceed but digging out for the concrete pads is hard going as the ground is so stony – but at least it means we know the garage isn’t going anywhere!

If you have a building project, interior or garden and landscaping project which you need help with or ideas for then please give me a ring: Alison 01572 747318 or 07973843020.

I work on interior design and garden design projects in Stamford and Rutland as well as further afield. I will design a garden to complement the architecture of your home and choose the right landscaping materials to complement it. If you are frustrated with endless searching for the right fabric or wallpaper and paint colours and overwhelmed with the enormous choice, then allow me to make a handpicked selection for you. I will complement the style of your existing rooms and provide a few choice pieces which will bring the whole look together.

Progress on our design, build and renovation project

It has been a beautiful day in Morcott – it’s one of those days when the sun hangs low in the sky but still has some warmth. It’s one of those days when you want to enjoy your morning coffee on a bench in the garden rather than at your desk. It’s one of those days when dong office admin is a chore as you’d rather be digging in the garden!

A beautiful light illuminating the garden

It was also the day when the block and beam floor went into our new design, build and renovation project. We were hoping that this would happen hast week but a hold up at the factory meant that the beams didn’t arrive until yesterday so today has been a day if heaving for the builders.

We finished the retaining walls earlier in the week and all the pipe work is in for the water feature which will be a focal point on the new terrace. I found a great priced pig trough from CWG in Stamford and this will act as my reservoir for the water feature and should age nicely over time. I now need to finalise the garden lighting – it’s all in my head and is driving me mad. Once I’ve got the lighting plan onto paper I can breath more easily and won’t have to keep mulling it over! I’m thinking of lighting the water feature form below and the steps which lead in to the garden and then am mulling over a series of up lighters and down lighters to bathe the stone walls in light – it should be lovely.

Digging out for the garden steps

Creating the wall which will hold the stainless steel water feature

And they say girls have too many shoes, how many wheel barrows does a man need!

Hooray, the block and beams have arrived

First beams go in

And before we know it they’re all in – don’t think the builders felt like that, they weigh a tonne

 I work on design only or design build and renovation projects. If you have a project in mind and need some help or advice then please get in  touch: Call Alison on 01572 747318 or 07973843020.

Creating a personal interior style

I’d like to introduce you to an amazing lady: Hester Cresswell, a specialist furniture painter, working in and around Lincolnshire.

Hester Cresswell at work in her Lincolnshire studio

I have known Hester for a few years and over that time her work has changed in line with fashion and interior styling. She has a great eye for the sort of piece of furniture which will look good painted and manages to pick up some amazing items which can transform a home. Some years ago she began teaching this to others too. Then in 2010 she built ‘The Studio’ at her home in Haconby near Bourne, Lincolnshire and this now houses both her painted pieces of furniture and accessories as well as lovely vintage finds, upholstered pieces and lamps.

 “When my father retired he worked at Richardson’s the auctioneers and was always picking up a bargain and transforming it into something beautiful. I learnt a lot from him and for many years we had an antique stall together. I had never thought it would turn into a business but I decided to change career and the business was born,” Hester explained.

working with paint colours

 

Hester worked as a medical secretary at the doctors’ surgery in Bourne and some 14 or so years ago gave it all up to follow her dream of working with paint and colour. She still uses some of the drag affects she used to use on walls but much of the dragging and washes which were so popular then are now unpopular ad interior effects. When she first started painting furniture the ‘New England look’ was very popular with dark green, blue and terracotta being used most often. Then for a long time pure creams dominated our interiors. Now we see a lot of grey and blue coming to the fore with Swedish tones dominating our interiors.

“I love what I do and love the freedom of working from home,” Hester explained. Being able to work and yet walk the dog and enjoy the local countryside is something I never take for granted,” she says. Hunting for the next piece of furniture to paint is an endless task. “I’ll often be up and out of the house by 6am and a buying trip to the Newark antiques fair. It might be driving rain on the A1 but I still anticipate the bargain I’ll find and think it’s a real thrill,” Hester laughs.

beautiful colours come through this stained glass

“I have made so many friends through my courses and love being able to share my passion for colour and fabrics,” Hester says. Alongside her regular courses which teach the techniques for distressing and painting furniture and interior accessories in Gustavian and French antique finishes, Hester now runs a follow on course for people who have attended one of her courses and are moving onto larger projects. “People bring a piece of furniture which they have sourced, maybe a chest of drawers or a table and we work on this together. They then take home a finished piece,“ Hester  explains.

 To book on one of Hester’s courses ring her on: 017778 570952 or www.hestercresswell.co.uk.

Hester has a special Christmas opening on Thursday 17th November 6.00pm to 9.00pm, Friday 18th November 10.00am to 4.00pm and Saturday 19th November, 10.00am to 4.00pm.

Chapel Garden House, Chapel Street, Haconby, Bourne, Lincs, PE10 0UL

 If you need some help or advice with an interior or garden project, or have fallen in love with one of Hester’s painted pieces but don’t know how to fit it into your own interior, then give me a ring: Alison Tel: 01572 747318/08973843020.

Garden jobs in October

T’is the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, but what is there for gardeners to do this month? Here’s my latest update on what you should be getting up to in the garden in October

Enjoy the autumn skies

This is my favourite time of year. I know I should love summer with its heady mix of annuals and perennials making borders look like a Monet painting but for me, spring and autumn are my favorite times of the year. I love the moment the soil awakens in Spring and up pop all my autumn planted bulbs. I love the way new seeds uncoil from the ground pushing clods of earth aside. In autumn I love the mists, the glistening cobwebs, watching spiders spin their way from plant to plant and birds stealing the last seeds from spent seed heads.

A sculptural seed head at Wing sculpture garden in Rutland

 General gardening

While the soil is still warm and damp, lift and divide herbaceous perennials. Replenish the soil with well-rotted compost (and with plenty of coarse grit if the soil is heavy clay). Replant the strongest, outer pieces and water well. Also it is a good time to buy and plant new plants, and shrubs.

Pull out sweet peas and beans remembering to leave roots in the soil to add nitrogen. Sow sweetpeas now for early flowering next year. They benefit from the winter shelter of a cold greenhouse or frame. Sow 5in deep into long root trainer pots and cover with glass or polythene until seedlings break through surface. Keep in cool, light conditions to prevent weak growth and thin out as they grow pinching out the tips to create strong bushy plants

Move tender plants indoors or under glass.

Roses

Prune roses now to prevent wind damage over winter

Shorten any long lanky stems on shrub roses to reduce their vulnerability to the wind. Floribunda roses that have finished flowering for the year may also be given the same treatment. If not completed earlier, just after flowering time, rambler roses can have flowered stems removed and new stems tied into position.

Herbs

Place a cloche over a row of parsley, to keep up supplies over the winter. Tired plants may be encouraged up with a gentle application of nitrogenous fertiliser.

Prepare for next Spring

Plant bulbs now to give you an impressive display next spring. If you want a natural look, throw handfuls of bulbs directly onto the lawn or soil and plant them where they fall. In borders opt for large clumps of bulbs – you’ll get a much better display. I always plant tulip bulbs in groups of 5 or more.

Think about planting a new ornamental tree – I have my eye on a Liquid amber to add interest next Autumn and to provide fabulous scent when I crush it’s leaves.

If you have a garden project in mind and need some garden design advice or help with planting then please get in touch. I work on garden design projects across Lincolnshire, Rutland and Northampton. Tel: 01572 747318 or 07973843020.

Building a curved garden wall

I was nearly blown away when walking the dog across the fields this afternoon. I feel very sorry for the roofers in the village who are re-roofing with Collyweston slate. It’s a beautiful material but I wouldn’t want to be up on the roof today.

The footings for our curved garden wall are in

Local stone slating traditions evolved from the slater’s response to the particular geology and climatic conditions of an area – it is highly regionalized  and local practice varies. Collyweston dates from the Jurassic period and is highly absorbent – I’ve seen roofs quite literally soak up the rain so that there is hardly any run off even when it is pouring down. Our new roof is clay tiles, which makes it much easier to source but we’re a long way from needing to do that!

The builders have been working on our garden wall this week.

The block work for our garden wall goes up

They are putting in the block work which will retain the bank and form the circle of lawn under our walnut tree. There was a bit of discussion about whether the circle could be scaled by eye but after a telephone conversation (I wasn’t on site) they realized I had already marked the centre of the circle and could form the radius quite easily.

The block works on the curved wall grows steadily

They have improvised a tool for marking the circumference of the circle with a string line, a 6ft level and a can of marker paint. It’s worked brilliantly and the circle they are building in block work looks lovely.

I have been finalizing the water feature and assessing the overall drop of the water to get the stream right. The higher we set the water feature in the wall the more the water will merge so that it is not an even sheet of water coming out of the cascade but a tapering stream. Ideally I want it to be as flat as possible which means having a larger pump than is completely necessary and being able to turn down the flow.

The curved wall leads in to the off-set wall for the water feature

I may just pop back out and re-measure before I recalculate (again!)

If you have a building project, interior or garden and landscaping project which you need help with or ideas for then please give me a ring: Alison 01572 747318 or 07973843020.

I work on interior design and garden design projects in Stamford and Rutland as well as further afield. I will design a garden to complement the architecture of your home and choose the right landscaping materials to complement it. If you are frustrated with endless searching for the right fabric or wallpaper and paint colours and overwhelmed with the enormous choice, then allow me to make a handpicked selection for you. I will complement the style of your existing rooms and provide a few choice pieces which will bring the whole look together.

Design, build and renovation in Rutland

What perfect day it has been today and yet so busy.  I knew what lay ahead so decided to walk the dog first thing. It was a lovely fresh morning as I crossed the fields and the sun was just peeping through the clouds.

Willow thinks a building site is a great place to relax

A sky lark serenaded me on my way and a group of finches hopped and skipped across the sky. Willow was on her best behaviour and after rousing a few sleepy pheasants from the long grass was quite content.

I got home and the builders were already on site. The block work for the block and beam floor is now all in place and this should be here by the end of the week.

The blocks stand ready for our retaining walls

We spent a bit of time setting out the steps which will lead into the garden from the back of the new terrace and then once the boys had a string line in they seemed to motor away with the block work retaining wall to the garden.

Peter and I went to look at another of Steve’s builds, this time in Empingham, where a lovely couple showed us around. It has really cemented our thoughts on what stone to use: we’re looking at Clipsham stone as it has a slightly browner tone and also contains some of the blues which the old part of the cottage has in it. Next we need to choose windows and then all the large building material decisions will have been made.

After my busy morning I dashed up to Grantham to finalise the signage on the cars with Viking Signs – we’ll have to keep them spotless now they have my name on their rears!

If you have a building project, interior or garden and landscaping project which you need help with or ideas for then please give me a ring: Alison 01572 747318 or 07973843020.