How do you know which contractor to use? Part 3 - Interior Designer

As part of the “Choose a Contractor Series” this edition looks at Interior Designers. Why would you choose one? How do you choose the right one? What should you expect to pay an interior designer? Read on to find out everything you need to know!

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How do you know which Contractor to choose - Part 2 Structural Engineer

Structural engineers need to understand and calculate the stability, strength and rigidity of buildings. Where an Architect would devise the best design possible for a space, the structural engineer will work out how to construct it from a technical point of view.

For this reason, it is very common to find architects and structural engineers working together closely. No point in an architect coming up with a hugely creative design if it is not structurally viable!

Architects tend to work alone for straight forward structures such as a block of flats or a simple extension to  house. However for more complex structures a structural engineer will be required to define what design elements are possible.

The structural design for a building must ensure that the building is able to stand up safely, able to function without excessive deflections or movements which may cause fatigue of structural elements, cracking or failure of fixtures, fittings or partitions, or discomfort for occupants. It must account for movements and forces due to temperature, creep, cracking and imposed loads.

For example, a client I am working with at the moment has designed a magnificent glass atrium for a residential build. The structural engineer was contracted to ascertain the beam work required to support the weight of a glass roof. His considerations included weather resistance to wind and snow, the length of the beam and support work required to ensure it did not have to withstand excessive pressures that would lead to deflections or movements. Obviously when working with large glass structures, safety and security are paramount!

It must also ensure that the design can be constructed within acceptable manufacturing tolerances of the materials. It must allow the architecture to work, and the building services to fit within the building and function (air conditioning, ventilation, smoke extract, electrics, lighting etc.). The structural design of a modern building can be extremely complex, and often requires a large team to complete.

FUN FACT!!

Leonardo Da Vinci is an artist well known for his painting "Mona Lisa". But did you know he was highly valued as an engineer in his lifetime? One of his original designs formed the basis of the design of a bridge in Norway,

 Vebjørn Sand Da Vinci Project Norway

Vebjørn Sand Da Vinci Project Norway

Coordinating a number of different contractors is time consuming and sometimes complex. Sometimes it can be difficult to understand which contractors to use for a given project. This series, aims to demystify this for you. If you feel you may benefit from project management services, I would be happy to discuss this with you! Feel free to connect with me through the contact form.

How do you know what contractor to choose? Part 1 - Architects

Choosing contractors is one of the most difficult aspects of building work. In this series I will be taking you through how to choose each contractor, this week: Architects!

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Decking - What do you need to know?

With summer around the corner, us brits love nothing more than to plan a BBQ in the sunshine! If you have a lawn or a garden at home, it is a great place to relax in the afternoons and take in some sun. The one issue I hear people repeat over and over? My garden is too embarrassing to invite people over! Look I get it, if you follow me on social media you will have seen my hashtag #plantkiller. So no one understands you more than me, I mean who has the time to maintain a well kept garden??

Outdoor Decking – An ideal solution

Creating outdoor decking and decorating it with some artificial outdoor plants can offer the perfect solution and a setting for you to enjoy the warmth of the summer. The positioning of an outdoor deck can serve as an ideal and beautiful bridge between the indoor and outdoor sections of the house. With a bifold going up in almost every house renovation I see, this is a vital consideration!

Outdoor decks can boost your outdoor living area

Apart from allowing you to enjoy the sun during the summer months, an outdoor deck also allows you to provide a significant boost to your outdoor living space. There are plenty of ideas along with loads of decorative items and furniture to utilize your indoor space efficiently. However, there are very few things that you can do in order to utilize your outdoor space. An outdoor deck allows you the liberty to make use of the available space to make your life more comfortable and cozy.

Enhancing the appearance of your house

A beautifully organised and decorated garden decking can go a long way in making your house look way more beautiful than usual. Just imagine an artificial plant wall behind you while you ease down on a cozy recliner chair. Ah gorgeous isn't it? Well, the simple backdrop of such a wall can make your house exuberate an appearance that is sure to draw plenty of compliments!

My garden is too small!!

I hear you, London homes are tight on space. However you can customise your decking so it does not require oddles of space. You can simply make one according to the amount of space available, and use quality outdoor artificial trees or even real trees to make it look attractive and beautiful. You can also use all kinds of other decorations and outdoor furniture to develop the deck as per your needs and desires.

Is decking an affordable investment?

The maintenance of such decks is also low cost as most of the surface area is covered by wood or similar materials. You can reduce the cost further by using artificial landscaping around the deck. These faux plants and trees do not require any pruning or maintenance apart from a wash every now-and-then to keep them clean. This will make the installation and maintenance of your backyard deck even cheaper and affordable for you. Also, if possess the expertise and skill-sets to take care of the installation by yourself, you can reduce your expenses even further. You can easily get tree stumps for sale online or at a nearby store, and decorate the place yourself.

Important aspects to consider before installing an outdoor deck

There are a few critical aspects that you must consider before you proceed to install the outdoor deck. After all, it involves much more than simply fixing a few wooden planks in place and surrounding them with outdoor artificial plants. So, it is important to make these considerations before getting to the job as it will help you get the job done properly.

Some of these important considerations include:

·        Selection of the location: This is the first (and probably one of the most important) thing to do when installing an outdoor deck at your home. After all, your outdoor deck will become a hotspot in your house. Hence, it is important that you set aside a popular space in your house for the purpose. Moreover, it must also be accessed easily from the inside of your house, most importantly the living room or the family room. This will allow your whole family to use the deck to rest and relax without getting in the way of each other.

·        The size of the deck: You will need to consider the size of the deck you wish to install in your backyard. You might want to make it large in order to accommodate every member of your family at the same time. However, you might also have to consider the size of your backyard for this. If you do not have a particularly large backyard, a huge deck might completely cover your entire backyard.

At the same time, you do not want it to be so small as to lose its prominence in your backyard. It should just be of the perfect size to stand out against the backdrop of your house.

Alternative furniture ideas: Instead of the usual (and sometimes boring) furniture and decorations, try to use alternative and exciting decorations and furniture to spice up the appearance of the place. You could use a fake tree trunk simply for decoration or use it as a stool to sit on. The use of such ideas will make the place look creative and beautiful while not allowing the furniture and decorations to cramp up space.

There are plenty of ideas that you can use to create and decorate an outdoor deck for your use. The ideal thing to do would be to get professional help with the installation. However, if you possess DIY skills, you could well get the job done on your own. So, go ahead and install one in your backyard to bathe in the sun this summer.

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Beds for the future? Exciting News!

Are you a Landlord with one or more properties? Are you responsible for staging the property for potential buyers? Do you need to provide furnished properties? If you are looking to make eco-friendly decisions on your furniture, you need to read this!

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Lighting Brands to Look out for 2018/19

Lighting is one of the most exciting and fundamental aspects of interior design. Engineering and architectural techniques are continually evolving and the result is unique, creative and outstanding designs in lighting. There are so many lighting brands to watch out for that I would never be able to list them all. I have highlighted some of my favourites here, but as always would love to hear from you to see what has caught your eye recently!

Marc Wood Studio

Bohemian Crystal Glassware meets beautiful British craftsmanship to create timeless designs such as the Pleated Crystal collection shown below. I love the simplicity and elegance of the design. Pieces are created on a project basis, and I would love to see these used as a statement light within a cluster, or as low level lighting over intimate table settings in a restaurant environment. POA 

 image via Marc Wood Studio

image via Marc Wood Studio

Novalux

Producing high spec, designer LED lighting, the applications for Novalux products is endless. The below scheme has been created by adding strip LED lighting to channels within the ceiling. Visit the website, to find your nearest stockist of Novalux products.

TOP TIP! If you are thinking about contemporary lighting schemes such as this, it is vital you create a lighting design prior to the first fix so that the wiring and electrical points can be arranged accordingly!
 image via Novalux

image via Novalux

Wever and Ducre

Wever and Ducre are a Belgian design company that specialise in what I call "Cozy LED lighting".  Their designs are centred around how you feel in a space, and is something I agree passionately with! No point in beautiful design if it doesn't make you feel amazing!

 image via Wever and Ducre

image via Wever and Ducre

Xal

Track lighting is seriously something to watch out for, it is coming back in a massive way and it's not just for industrial application! The versatility and flexibility of the Xal system really stood out to me, in that there are so many options to create so many different looks! It has residential applications but the use in retail environments such as the Victorinox Store below, means that the lighting design is easily adaptable as the layout is changed on a seasonal basis!

 victorinox Flagship store, germany image via XAL

victorinox Flagship store, germany image via XAL

Bert and Frank

I cannot say enough how important it is to follow your design values and personality to create schemes that will be timeless and you will love forever. Bert and Frank share this ethos in creating lighting designs that they say "will age with you". The British lighting brand create industrial inspired pieces with a modern twist, creating elegant and timeless lighting.

 Bert and Frank Triarc Chandelier £1,768, image via Bert and Frank

Bert and Frank Triarc Chandelier £1,768, image via Bert and Frank

J Adams & Co

Those of you that loved my recent blog on edison bulbs (read here!), will love the offerings London based J Adams & Co. Their boxed wall lights look traditional yet quirky and would fit well in an industrial or rustic scheme.

 image via J Adams & Co. Cedar Wall Light £639

image via J Adams & Co. Cedar Wall Light £639

Delightfull

Delighfull have been on my suppliers list for a while, as they have continuously brought out exceptional designs in lighting. I wanted to add this to the list due to their Coltrane pendant shown below. It is beautifully crafted and is the perfect statement light in contemporary hotel decor. Above all they are a company that are passionate about their products and love to push boundaries in design, creating beautifully unique designs.

 image via Delightfull £POA

image via Delightfull £POA

What did you think? Any designers you are itching to check out and use in your next project? I would love to know! 

Edison Bulbs - What is all the fuss about?

thomas edison lighting design.jpg

Ok people time for a little history lesson! So this guy here is Mr Thomas Edison. There are many theories as to whether or not he was the first to invent the lightbulb. Fact is he was a genius marketer and businessman and had access to a lot of money, from the likes of J.P.Morgan and the affluent Vanderbilt family. So first or not, he was the one that was able to invest in his inventions to come up with something we recognise in the modern world!

In 1880 he had managed to create a long lasting filament that most importantly was affordable to the mass market.

So why is the Edison Bulb so on trend now?!

Well in the 1960s, the powers that be decided to move away from the traditional light bulbs to a more eco friendly option. Traditional incandescent bulbs only converted 10% of the energy into light, the rest was given off as heat! The LEDs were born and took the world by storm, they were compact and long lasting and much more energy efficient!

Modern design however, has been able to merge the two together. The aesthetics of the traditional Edison bulb teamed with the efficiency of LED has now created a gorgeous era of lighting for the modern age! 

 Vintage LED Edison Bulb From  Industville.co.uk

Vintage LED Edison Bulb From Industville.co.uk

These Vintage smoke glass bulbs from Industville are so beautiful and perfect for creating a warm and rustic ambience. Note that you should select the correct lightbulb in accordance to how much light you need in the room. Some bulbs emit a very soft warm glow so would not be suitable for areas which are required to be well lit.

 Eichholtz Hanging bulb lights by  Oroa

Eichholtz Hanging bulb lights by Oroa

Industrial design is favoured in many commercial design projects due to the simplistic design and ease of cleaning. This is often overlooked but is vital to ensure compliance to health and safety standards. 

The end result is clean, simple and easy to maintain but warm and inviting at the same time. The perfect lighting solution in restaurant design!

I personally love Edison bulbs and their versatility, but mostly I love that they are a statement to modern design and how lighting has evolved. Would love to know what you think of them?

Are you still quite confused on what lighting you should choose for your home, sign up to my newsletter and receive a FREE download to help you design any space as a big thank you!