Monthly Archives: July 2012

Olympic Gold Meadows

It’s taken years of planning but this month the Olympic Park Meadows are growing gold! Planted by Nigel Dunnett and his team, these are annual meadows, filled with flowering plants which are sown, flower, set seed and die within the same year. The meadows have to be started afresh from seed each year and the ground was cleared and planted as early as 2010 so that they could trial them to see how they would grow, flower and the regime needed to look after them prior to the games year.

Known as the Olympic Gold Meadows they were designed to flower in time for the games and beyond in the colours of gold and yellow. I think that’s another job well done for team GB!

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Gardening on an Olympic Scale

Friday sees the opening of the 2012 Olympics Games and giant Olympic rings are springing up all over the UK. By far the most effective representation of the iconic Olympic symbol is the enormous rings mown into the grass at Richmond Park’s Nature Reserve in London.


 
The Royal Parks, who devised the five-ring spectacle to be visible on the Heathrow flight path ready to welcome athletes and visitors to the London 2012 Games, employed their six Shire horses to create the display. Two of the horses, who regularly cut the verges in Richmond Park, will be maintaining the rings during the Games and with regular trimming the 300 x 135 metre symbol is set to become even more defined over the summer.

Now is the perfect time to visit local woodland and parks to see the local flora, butterflies and moths which are enjoying the long awaited spell of summer weather.

If you have a garden, interior 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, Lincolnshire, Oakham, Uppingham 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 to create a beautiful bathroom

Bathrooms can be dream spaces or terrible nightmares. They are usually amongt the smallest rooms in the house but are used more than any other. You often have a lot to squeeze into a very small space and they must work perfectly day in and day out. There is nothing more off-putting to buyers or guests than a grotty bathroom. Here are a few things to think about before starting a bathroom project.

The great thing about contemporary bathroom design is that you can mix and match your favourite pieces from a variety of suppliers’ ranges. Simply make sure you opt for a white suite with whites to match within the manufacturing ranges you choose. There is so much with which you can personalize a bathroom from the range you choose to the style of taps, the surfaces you opt for, exotic woods to marbles and metals, and the tiles you use.

Things to think about before you start….

Mood and budget – It’s important that you think about the style you want before you begin.  Visit showrooms to see what style you like and how they look ‘in the flesh’. Decide on the mood you want to create – cool and contemporary, warm and cosy, slick and masculine, opulent, retro Victorian or 20’s Art Deco? – and the budget you want to allocate to this re-design.

Who will use the bathroom? Will the whole family use this space or is it a chill out room for adults only? Does it need co-coordinating with a bedroom as in an en suite bathroom? For the family bathroom a degree of practicality is required in the design – storage will be a must as will durability, safety and ease of cleaning.

Layout – make sure you have the room dimensions with lots of detail. Draw up a scale plan so you can plot the size of the room, position of doors and windows, height of windowsills and radiators, toilet and pipe-work as well as current position of the sink and shower or bath. This is important as to move soil pipes is an expensive business so if you are going to move them you need to factor this into the budget.

Lighting – Lighting is all important and needs to play a dual role. For a relaxed atmosphere use dimmers for general lighting. Task lighting is more direct, brighter and placed where activities take place – i.e. shaving or putting on make-up. Plan what goes where and chose your fixtures accordingly. UK requirements stipulate that light fittings within 600mm of a bath or shower must have an IP rating of 65 whilst other lights at more than 600mm away must have an IP rating of 45. Lights must be operated by a pull cord or an outside switch rather than a light switch inside the bathroom. This is important to note as it will affect your entrance and how you access lighting when in the bathroom.

Storage – If you want to maintain an uncluttered look then storage is essential. A bathroom is a very private area and there are some things that are best stored away. A cupboard behind the main mirror takes little room and is extremely useful. Under sink cabinets are now very popular and are best raised slightly off the floor to keep them damp free.  

Heating and ventilation – A cold bathroom is no fun at all. Check whether your existing heating up to scratch, or do you need additional warmth? A heated towel rail is cost effective to run and can help to top up the heat but if you keep towels on it all the time this will limit the amount of heat it puts into the room. You might want to consider installing under floor heating in small spaces. I always recommend it in wet rooms where you want the floor to dry as quickly after use. You can make a design statement with contemporary radiators – they give you that wow factor as well as being useful. If you are going to use a large mirror you may want to consider installing heated pads on the reverse. These are wired in with the light switch and prevent the mirror misting up after a shower, many off the shelf mirrors and mirror cabinets now come with integrated lighting too. Remember that it is a local authority regulation to have external ventilation and I think installing an extractor fan is a must.

Fixtures and fittings – When you are planning a bathroom it is unlikely that you will be choosing fixtures and fittings all from the same manufacturer. There are no fast and hard rules about this, but do keep to the same style to keep the overall look elegant and coherent.

Always buy the best fixtures you can afford. Cheap taps are a false economy; they will soon start to drip. Good quality fixtures and fittings always add that “wow” factor, they also feel good to the touch.

Bath or shower? A bath is great for relaxing in, but a shower is invigorating. Think about the design of your shower: do you want exposed i.e. surface mounted or concealed mixer valves in your shower? Concealed mixer valves lend themselves to slick and contemporary rooms, whilst exposed bathroom furniture can become part of the “look” especially if it is modern or if you want to enhance the period feel of the bathroom to be in keeping with architectural detailing.

Fixed shower heads or wall mounted? You can have both with a diverter valve – this allows you to switch the water between the two. I’d always recommend this otherwise a fixed head shower is impossible to clean! Washing small children or washing your hair is easier with hand held shower heads. Fixed shower heads can also be enhanced with luxurious body jets if you have good water pressure!

So before you buy anything check your water pressure – a plumber can do this for you. Pressure is measured in bars and most homes will have a water pressure of 1-1.5 bars whilst hotels are nearer 3-4 bars. You may want to fit a pump as some of the new fixtures and fittings may only work with a higher pressure. Many come from mainland Europe where water pressure is higher so you need to check that it can be adapted to the UK standards and pipe sizes. Huge shower heads look fun but require an immense flow of water to operate properly, so bear this in mind before committing.

Finally think about the textures within the room and ensure the space isn’t all the same – add texture with tile finishes, taps, counter tops and accessories. And most of all have fun – this will probably be the first room you use every day so you want it to leave you feeling awake and ready for the day.

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

Garden Jobs in July

July is usually a great month in the garden but to be honest whether it will be this year is anyone’s guess! You should begin to reap the rewards of your hard work in the vegetable plot so make sure you are cutting every day to keep new produce forming, remember to clip herbs too as this encourages them to keep growing – you are mimicking grazing animals in the wild remember.

Your herbaceous borders might have peaked at the end of June and then flopped with all this rain so look for any gaps and infill with pots of colourful later flowerers – salvias, cannas and dahlia’s will all extend the season with Michaelmas daisies (Aster) taking you right through to Autumn and beyond.

Vegetable gardens

Start to harvest garlic and shallots – hang to dry in a cool dry place for 2 weeks or more

Thin out direct sown seedlings including beetroot

Plant out winter cabbages, spinach, beetroot, kale, broccoli and leeks. Repeat sow lettuce, salads, French and runner beans, carrots and beetroot for crops later in the season. Now is the ideal time to plan your autumn sowings of salad crops and herbs to get ahead.

Prune trained apple and pear trees in the middle of the month. Remember you are reducing the spread and enabling the tree to put all its energy into producing fruit for next year.

Borders

Continue to deadhead in your borders to encourage repeat flowering

Prune wisteria taking long stems back to 6“ of the main stem

Cut back hardy geraniums to encourage fresh foliage and repeat flowering.  If you are going away for a couple of weeks then is the ideal time. Cut the foliage right down to the base, they will look terrible while you are away but will have put on new foliage and be about to flower by the time you return!

General

If slugs are a problem, get a couple of chickens! Bantams do hardly any damage to your garden and provide you with fresh eggs. They won’t lay all year round like a more robust breed such as Long Island Red but they will keep pests at bay.

Make sure you have a couple of nice places to sit and enjoy the garden – perhaps one seat positioned for sun (if only we had some) and one for shade – or should that be shelter! There’s nothing better than being able to enjoy all the work you’ve put in but if you don’t make it easy with a well positioned seat you may miss it and only ever go into the garden to toil.

If you have a garden, interior 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, Lincolnshire, Oakham, Uppingham 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.