A Sense of Calm

Ensuite bedrooms have to work hard, which is a strange thing to say about a room that largely revolves around the unconscious state. But, think about it. Because they’re often used by two people, the space has to function for both of them as well as providing a quiet place to sleep and easy access to the bathroom. When you add a dressing room function as well, the space has to prove itself up to the job. And that means there’s a lot at stake for the client. They have an equal share in the restorative value of the room – so they both need to feel at ease in the space. The level of comfort has to be suitable for both of them and it needs to reflect their combined taste and lifestyle. There’s a lot to consider in a master bedroom.

master bedroom

The last master bedroom suite I worked on was not without its problems as a project – delays in deliveries, carpet cut to the wrong size and a work force who didn’t quite feel any time pressure. In a bid to be efficient, Rich and I used a second team – he was having surgery on his ankle – but this was a big learning experience for us, because they did not work the way we did. We had communication issues, builders losing their temper and yelling at other members of the team, threatening to pull off the job and asking for more money. It was more soap opera than refurb project and it was hard work. It really made me realise just how lucky I am to work with a good contractor, one who thinks things through and is good at problem solving. You would think that these would be qualities all building contractors would possess – I can tell you, they do not!

through to the bedroom

Eight months on, the pain has been forgotten and the bedroom suite has a sense of gentle luxury. It’s quiet, both in colour and in sound. It’s uncomplicated, the furniture all matches (so not my choice, but in this space, I have to agree) the simplicity of the decor is what gives it that sense of calm. The bathroom takes advantage of the sloping ceiling and has a much more dramatic feel because of its location. The dressing room is streamlined and accentuates the ceiling height with full height wardrobe doors.

dressing room

The pendant ceiling lights at two different levels add a more glamorous element and provide a layered lighting plan that works according to the time of day or task required.

pendant lighting

It was a collaborative process, this space and I feel really pleased with how much of the clients’ taste is present in the suite. I was the guiding hand – and at times I did insist on following a certain direction – but largely speaking I suggested a type of fitting and the clients then researched what they would like and we arrived at a choice according to price and availability.

ensuite bathroom

There are two things I would say about this type of process: it takes forever and this was a first project. The clients had never had any building work done before and didn’t really know ‘exactly’ what they wanted. So, the sourcing was slow – there is a lot of choice out there, we looked at maybe twenty wallpaper samples (I would normally give a choice of three) and at times we couldn’t dovetail the lead-times, so the clients didn’t move into the space for several months after the building work finished. But overall the project has built their confidence. It looks great and it works the way they want it to. And that really, is what you want at the end of project. After all if you plan on spending money on a bedroom ensuite, the result should be what you want – a space that works for both of you.

shower enclosure

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A Kitchen Gallery

Because the kitchen posts have covered such a long period of time, I thought I’d put all the pictures together in one place, so that the process of before and after is easier to see.

1 august 2015

1 august 2015

2 august 2015

2 august 2015

3 september

3 september

2 sample board september

4 sample board september

5 september

5 september

6 september

6 september

7 september

7 september

8 september

8 september

10 october 2015

9 october 2015

10 october

10 october

11 december 2015

11 december 2015

12 december

12 december

13 december

13 december

14 december

14 december

15 the inspiration

15 the inspiration

Nothing is more inviting than tantalising smells coming from the kitchen. In the short time I’ve had this space I’ve cooked for Christmas dinner and various dinner parties, had a drinks party and a birthday costume bash. It’s not that I wouldn’t have done these things if I hadn’t done the work to the kitchen, its that the space now copes with what I want to do in it. It’s more pleasurable to have guests and to simply be in it. I’m enjoying the process of preparing food so much more.

And that is the single biggest reason for deciding to upgrade your kitchen – if you want to prepare food, the time you take over it and the quality of ingredients will also be of importance. If you’re looking forward to sharing a meal with other people, your approach to mealtimes becomes one of social enjoyment and less of a chore. When food plays such a big part in our lives, our attitude toward it is the difference between health and unbalance. Having a space that allows food preparation to be done easily enables us to see food for what it is – our source of energy, vital to our wellbeing.

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A Place for Everything

Little did I realise when I last wrote that my kitchen would not actually be finished until Christmas – and it would be all my fault because I came down with the flu – TWICE! Yep, its been a strange winter. But I’m all better now and my kitchen is great. Oh and we got a puppy too – another reason I haven’t been sitting in front of the computer as regularly.

unpainted cabinetry

unpainted cabinetry

still missing the drawer frontals

still missing the drawer frontals

So much of this kitchen fitout has been done when I’ve been here as the second pair of hands – I even had a go at putting a couple of the units together – they’re still in one piece too! I didn’t even know how to use a drill before this project, so to say I’ve learnt some new skills doesn’t even come close to the reality. But what I would say if you are planning on doing the work yourself is do not let it overlap any other events like people coming to stay or major family milestones. It takes too much of your time and to turn your focus away from the project means things don’t happen the way you want them to – if you’re the project manager as well as the client as well as the builder’s labourer!

Because I do this all the time for clients, I totally thought I’d be on top of things and could schedule deliveries and painting of units to fit around other activities. But I hadn’t factored in what a short amount of time had been allowed for this job and when it’s your own home, it doesn’t work like that, you are the one that has to box everything up and then move the boxes every few days because the space is needed. You never escape from the work or the mess. I’d have Rich the builder arrive and give me instructions for how to tile/grout/fill and then I’d have a frantic few hours trying to do what he had asked at the same time as having to cook dinner for my family in a room that was only partly functional. It was beyond stressful and I think that’s why I ended up getting ill. I was living in a building site and working on it too. All these DIY programmes with members of the featured family getting ill or not speaking to each other, this is why. IT IS VERY TIRING because there’s no reprieve.

making good still to be done

making good still to be done

And let me just say I have had kitchens done before – but that was when my children were much younger and the kitchen came from a company that fitted the units as part of the price. It was a much bigger kitchen with a much bigger budget. This project has been an exercise in achieving the look I wanted without having the price tag beyond my pocket – and that meant some of the work would have to be done by me. I knew I would be painting and I really enjoyed learning to tile, it’s a very satisfying activity and the results are quickly revealed – you can see very early on how it will look when it’s complete. What I didn’t realise was that Rich would rip the kitchen out when I was on holiday and that only 4 weeks later my mum would arrive for an extended visit. My mum is very handy with a paintbrush, so she was put to work too – but that wasn’t what I wanted out of her visit and it was things like that that added to my stress.

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So when you start looking at scheduling some refurbishments for yourself, be very strict. Do not take on anything else at the same time. Do not think it’ll be done so much more quickly because you’re on site and DO NOT ever think you’ll make the decisions as you go along. Make sure everything is ordered in advance and chase the orders. AND DO NOT CHANGE YOUR MIND.

smoke blue - not quite right

smoke blue – not quite right

final paint choice

My biggest issue of the whole project? The wretched paint colour for the wall units. Seriously. I’m usually pretty good with colour, so this was a shock and very, very frustrating – not being able to get it right. I wanted a grey blue – I thought, quite pale. BUT most blue greys are too blue, oh it was so boring getting my hopes up and then finding that the most recent sample was also wrong. So I went all around the houses and came back to my inspiration and settled for a dark grey blue. Actually, I don’t know why I didn’t do that in the beginning – I have an ink blue wall in my front room and this balances that really well, if you’re sitting at the dining table you can see both, don’t quite know why I didn’t realise sooner!

relaxed utility style

relaxed utility style

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And the best bit? Pan drawers. Oh lovely pan drawers. I can put things away now and get at them easily – and there’s room for more in the drawers too. I had no space at all before and I got so bored with cleaning up because I couldn’t put things away. Now, I actually enjoy the washing up and get so much pleasure from having a clear work surface. What a saddo. But you know what? Without that feeling of satisfaction at the end of a project, there’s no point in doing it!

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