5 Interior Design Images That I Love

I’m a huge fan of visually imagery, words sometimes get confused when speaking to a client, so a strong visually image really helps showcase your idea with them and what you want, and envisage, the end goal to look like. So following on from that I’ve just pulled together a quick article (sorry for the lack of posts recently, work and family life have taken over somewhat) all about some great images I love. I hope you all like it.

Via Adelto

Take a look at a nice video collage of luxury homes here

2018 Guide to Groundworks and Foundations

What is the first thing you should think about when building a house?

Personally, with any project I take on I always reach for the phone and call my trusted groundworks friend, DT Groundwork Contractor, immediately after finalising the design. Why? you may ask. Well, the foundations of the house are the most important and I need to know if what I’m designing will be sufficiently supported. This process will almost always begin with groundworks and I wanted to share some advice to bear in mind before breaking ground on any project.

Starting off on the right foot

To begin with, you should know that having the right foundations is not only important to you but also to the local planning authority so they can assess that you have built it on the approved plans. Even when they have only been presented with a drawing with no dimensions they will scale the plan to determine whether proximity to boundaries and the levels of the plan have been met correctly. This is to reduce any issues of overlooking or overshading neighbouring buildings.

It is important to check the settings from the very start, so taking the time to sit with a contractor and get them spot on is worth the time. The best way to do this is drive pegs into where the corners of the building and rooms are and draw a line between them with chalk spray. The foundation trenches can then be dug so you have a good idea of where the building will sit and allow planning enforcement officers to accurately take measurements of where the property will lay,

Types of Foundation

Trench fill foundation

This type of foundation is preferred by self-builders and used by most large-scale operators in the groundworks businesses. Trench fill avoids the need to lay bricks below ground level. Concrete is poured to within 150mm of the surface ground level, which saves time and trouble. Additionally, the sides of the trench play just as important role in supporting the load as the basin of the trench. For this reason, trench fill foundation should only be used on stable ground where the trench sides are firm and fully capable of bearing loads. Clay and chalk soils are the ideal ground materials for trench fill foundations.

Strip foundations

Strip foundations are usually wider and use much less concrete than conventional foundations by being thinner. This being down to the fact that they are usually only 300mm thick. Although, the exact dimension will be determined by the masonry courses of the walls up to the damp-proof course. If you are building on a sloping site, the foundations will need to be stepped to keep them level. These steps should overlap at least the width of the trench when concreted and that will mean shuttering them across. Strip foundations are often necessary when softer surrounding materials are available, such as softer soils and sand, since they are able to spread the load of the building over a greater area.

Five Tips to Create a Stunning Kitchen

Are you bored with your kitchen? Fear not! I have some tips for you that you can action immediately, as well as future renovation ideas, for a better kitchen experience that makes you fall in love with cooking all over again.

Optimise Your Kitchen’s Flow

I used to find myself running rampant around my kitchen when cooking anything from a simple snack to a family meal. My pots, pans, cutlery and various food products were all over the place, hastily shoved in a cupboard because I lazily put stuff away, so I could do something I enjoyed. However, I realised one day that this was creating much more work than it was saving. The precious minutes I saved by rushing were lost during the week when it came to using things.

This is when I decided to devise an organisational routine that took a little longer to pack away but saved me a lot of time while preparing meals. By placing items that are used at the same time in adjacent cupboards, like bowls and cereal, I managed to optimise the flow of my kitchen. This led to less mess and frustration while making food and increased my enjoyment of cooking tenfold.

Light Effectively

When renovating their kitchen, people often forget about lighting and I for one am guilty of that too. It’s one of the small details that goes unnoticed most of the time and it’s something we take for granted. However, lighting influences your kitchen overall look and feel with striking designs, dimmer switches that set the mood for your evening and even help with cooking.

My wife is in love with Rose Gold, from her iPhone to her jewellery, so the perfect thing to accent our kitchen was lights with a Rose Gold enclosure. It looks like copper to me, but her face lights up (sorry for the pun) every time she sees them. I also added spotlights along the underneath of the cabinets to provide the perfect lighting for food preparation, as well as providing mood lighting for romantic evenings.

Mix Materials

We’ve all seen the kitchen ads where they try to sell you an oak kitchen, cladded with wood from top to bottom like it would be unthinkable to add a touch of anything else. This is, of course, not true at all and you shouldn’t be discouraged from combining and contrasting materials. They can help create an interesting and rich layered feel where everything has its place, and nothing feels out of the ordinary. A feeling that can only be found in a bespoke kitchen.

From rustic woods to metals, leather and even ropes, you can add just about any material to your kitchen, although some require you being subtler. Rope and leather should be restrained to smaller details like baskets and hanging straps, while metal and wood can be used for cabinets and seating and fabric can be used for details like rugs and curtains.

Outside the Box Accessories

People love to categorise everything, but this becomes limiting rather than being helpful. We get trapped with the mentality that you can only decorate your rooms with items from their section of the store. Once we venture outside of this bubble, we can find inspiration in the form of beautiful lamps, statues vases and even foliage.

Simple additions can add interest through varying heights rather than flat counter-tops, often providing function as well as being unexpected. This element of surprise can also help you make your kitchen much more personal and transform the whole feeling of the room. Potted plants can soften the hard textures of your counter-top, as well as providing you with herbs for your cooking. The presence of herbs adds a welcoming scent to the room, while adding natural beauty.

Take Inspiration from the Unexpected

We tend to theme our rooms based on colour palettes rather than an abstract idea. I guess it’s more tangible to fit colours together than create something inspired by things we’ve seen or experienced. This could anything from something from a home on holiday, films, tv shows or time periods. Believe it or not, I once visited someone who had a yacht themed kitchen and while it was a shock, the idea was executed perfectly.

Personally, I adore the style of French homes and this love affair started a when I was a child visiting Normandy with my family. The French people are more relaxed and have a keen appetite for exquisite cooking and fine wine, a quality I like to think I share. To achieve this, I went with Belgian cupboards and a grisaille palette with Pike’s Peak Grey walls that offer subtle contract to the bright colours elsewhere in my house.

Hopefully you’ve found some inspiration in this article and you’re on your way to creating your very own stunning kitchen. Please feel free to send me pictures of your creations, I love to see all the amazing things people come up with in their home.

Important Facts About Asbestos

I often get people coming to me asking about asbestos since it still a very real worry and 1950’s properties are becoming a trend for people to purchase and renovate. I spoke to my good friend Paul Crane at PAC Asbestos Surveys Manchester about the dangers of Asbestos and why you should be worried. Here is what I came away with.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos was used as a building material extensively in Great Britain through the 1950’s and ceased being used in the late 1990’s.

Why is Asbestos Dangerous?

Although I have seen a major effort has been made to eradicate asbestos among homes and workplaces across the UK, there are still millions of building that contain asbestos. This is due to how heavily it was used for over four decades in British construction, affecting any building built before 2000. It kills an average of around 5,000 workers each year, a greater number those killed in car accidents.

As I understand it, Asbestos fibres are released into the air when materials that contain it are disturbed or damaged. When inhaled these fibres can cause serious diseases for anyone who is exposed. These diseases can lay dormant for many years and when the symptoms become present it is too late to treat. This is why it is important to protect yourself now.

From some research I have seen that Asbestos can cause the following fatal and serious diseases (from the HSE website).

Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a cancer which affects the lining of the lungs (pleura) and the lining surrounding the lower digestive tract (peritoneum). It is almost exclusively related to asbestos exposure and by the time it is diagnosed, it is almost always fatal.

Asbestos-related lung cancer

Asbestos-related lung cancer is the same as (looks the same as) lung cancer caused by smoking and other causes. It is estimated that there is around one lung cancer for every mesothelioma death.

Asbestosis

Asbestosis is a serious scarring condition of the lung that normally occurs after heavy exposure to asbestos over many years. This condition can cause progressive shortness of breath, and in severe cases can be fatal.

Pleural thickening

Pleural thickening is generally a problem that happens after heavy asbestos exposure. The lining of the lung (pleura) thickens and swells. If this gets worse, the lung itself can be squeezed, and can cause shortness of breath and discomfort in the chest.

Where can you find Asbestos?

I know all too well that Asbestos can be found in any building, from industrial to residential, that was built or refurbished before the year 2000. It was a common material used in the building trade that you may come across in your home or workplace. The below diagrams show where it is most commonly found (from the HSE website).

Inside

1. Sprayed coatings on ceilings, walls, beams and columns

2. Asbestos cement water tank

3. Loose fill insulation

4. Lagging on boilers and pipes

5. AIB ceiling tiles

6. Toilet seat and cistern

7. AIB partition walls

8. AIB panels in fire doors

9. Asbestos rope seals, gaskets and paper

10. Vinyl floor tiles

11. AIB around boilers

12. Textiles eg fire blankets

13. Textured decorating coatings on walls and ceilings eg artex

Outside

14. Asbestos cement roof

15. Asbestos cement panels

16. Asbestos cement gutters and downpipes

17. Soffits – AIB or asbestos cement

18. Asbestos cement flue

AIB = Asbestos Insulating Board

Inside

A. Asbestos cement Water tank

B. Pipe lagging

C. Loose fill insulation

D. Textured decorative coating eg artex

E. AIB ceiling tiles

F. AIB bath panel

G. Toilet seat and cistern

H. AIB behind fuse box

I. AIB airing cupboard and/or sprayed insulation coating boiler

J. AIB partition wall

K. AIB interior window panel

L. AIB around boiler

M. Vinyl floor tiles

N. AIB behind fire

Outside

O. Gutters and Asbestos cement downpipes

P. Soffits – AIB or asbestos cement

Q. AIB exterior window panel

R. Asbestos cement roof

S. Asbestos cement panels

T. Roofing felt

AIB = Asbestos Insulating Board

Am I at Risk?

Most of us won’t be at risk but any workers who are involved in refurbishment, maintenance and other similar trades, could be at risk of exposure to asbestos during their work. The following list is not exhaustive (from the HSE website).

  • Heating and ventilation engineers
  • Demolition workers
  • Carpenters and joiners
  • Plumbers
  • Roofing contractors
  • Painters and decorators
  • Plasterers
  • Construction workers
  • Fire and burglar alarm installers
  • Shop fitters
  • Gas fitters
  • Computer and data installers
  • General maintenance staff eg caretakers
  • Telecommunications engineers
  • Architects, building surveyors, and other such professionals
  • Cable layers
  • Electricians

When am I at risk?

  • The building you are working on was built before the year 2000
  • You are working on an unfamiliar site
  • Asbestos-containing materials were not identified before the job was started
  • Asbestos-containing materials were identified but this information was not passed on by the people in charge to the people doing the work
  • You haven’t done a risk assessment
  • You don’t know how to recognise and work safely with asbestos
  • You have not had appropriate information, instruction and training
  • You know how to work safely with asbestos, but you choose to put yourself at risk by not following proper precautions, perhaps to save time or because no one else is following proper procedures

Remember

  • You can’t see or smell asbestos fibres in the air
  • The effects of being exposed to asbestos take many years to show up – avoid breathing it in now
  • People who smoke and are also exposed to asbestos fibres are at a much greater risk of developing lung cancer
  • Asbestos is only a danger when fibres are made airborne and breathed in
  • As long as the asbestos is in good condition and it is located somewhere where it can’t be easily damaged then it shouldn’t be a risk to you

Three Tips to Get into Interior Design

A lot of people ask me how to get into the interior design industry and I usually ramble on about such and such but the landscape has changed in the last decade. I need to adapt how I approach this question to how the modern world works, although, there are certain things that remain the same. I want to share with you two new ways to approach it and one old fashioned but still reliable way.

Behance

If you’re an aspiring interior designer, you probably have experience in 3d design software like Blender, C4D and Maya. Therefore, there is no doubt that you will have modelling projects laying around. You can put them to use and upload them to Behance, a website where digital artists can show off their work to peers and admirers alike. Try to post as often as you can but limit yourself to one project daily. You can then share your work on social media and even include links to it in your CV. This is the absolute best way to showcase your work in the digital age and is quite good to get into the routine of updating. If, however, you don’t use 3d design software and don’t want to pay a fortune for it, you can get Blender for free and there is an endless number of tutorials on YouTube to get you started.

Speak to People

Speaking to people can get you anywhere you want in life, as long as you are efficient, confident and charming. Of course, in the old days, this would mean doing it in person, but nowadays everything is done on social media. However, you have to know what you’re doing. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram are no good if you want to connect with professionals who are looking to take people on. LinkedIn should be your main goal, adding people you look up to in the design world and joining industry specific groups. From there, simply commenting on people’s post and posting your own regular content is enough to grab someone’s attention. Eventually, you will find yourself with many connections and place yourself at an advantage over the competition when new roles come up, as you will be the first person they think of.

Volunteering

Finally, we come to the old-fashioned way to get into interior design, volunteering! There is no easier way to demonstrate your skills to a potential employer than being sat in front of them. Many students do work placements as part of their university degrees and they potentially get offered a graduate place if they impress the business. For those that don’t get this opportunity, reaching out to businesses for work experience can be rewarding and get your foot in the door with a potential future employer. Research the company and its previous projects before you contact them, it gives you something lead your conversation with and shows you are interested in the company itself and not just the opportunity you want to be given.

Hopefully, these tips help you find your way into interior design and please feel free to contact me if you need assistance.

10 Clever Home Hacks

I’m a huge fan of YouTube and the power of visual learning, so I often find myself watching videos like this where someone shows you interior design tips in their very own home. Of course, not all of them are as professional as this one, which is why I thought it would be worth sharing.

Interior designer, Rebecca Robeson, walks us through her California home and shares 10 clever changes she has made over the last 15 years. She has turned an unassuming house into a luxury home with some interesting techniques that add elegance to your home on a budget.

I have summarised each hack below and be sure to watch the video below that.

  1. Improved lowered ceiling by adding mouldings to create an eye-grabbing feature.
  2. Added a 10-foot mirror to her focal wall so it’s what guests saw as soon as they walk in, also creating the illusion of more space.
  3. Utilise interesting architectural features like a hanging vintage window in the hallway.
  4. Replaced her old staircase with dark wood, a beautiful custom iron railing and swooping stairs which flow into the room.
  5. Fitted light wood flooring downstairs and dark wood flooring upstairs.
  6. Reduced the number of cabinets in the kitchen and painted them in a darker colour to match the rest of the room.
  7. Removed some doors to create walk-in spaces and hid some within the walls to create the illusion of fewer doors.
  8. Took an intrusive hearth piece and placed a vintage chest of drawers with their back legs cut off to utilise unusable space.
  9. Replaced linen cabinets doors with ones with a glass pane to display clean linen
  10. Installed wall length and height wardrobes with mirrored fronts and added custom mirror fronts to the drawers below.

A Guide to Home Surveys in 2018

Buying a new home can be a confusing and daunting task, whether you’re a first-time buyer or not, so you need to be fully prepared for what lays ahead. Today, I want to talk to you about home surveys, what they include and what to look out for when buying a new property.

Home purchases are the biggest expense for 90% of people in their lifetime so commissioning a home survey is well advised to find out what you’re getting yourself into. Faults are common in buildings and they can vary from small problems to very serious ones that could get worse over time. These faults can devalue a property and a home survey gives you a better idea of what you should paying for a property considering the amount of work you need to do. Additionally, they detail any future expenditure you might need to make to rectify issues with the property.

“If you are buying a property with a mortgage, your lender will arrange for a valuation to be carried out. This valuation survey indicates what the property is worth but it will not necessarily describe its condition. The valuer carrying out the valuation doesn’t necessarily have to tell you of any defects. Remember, a property with a large structural crack still has a value.” – Jenner Jones, who offers Home Surveys in London.

There are three aspects to home surveys – an inspection of the property, a report based on the inspection and a valuation which is included in your report. The aim of home surveys is to provide you with professional advice to help you make an informed decision on whether to purchase a property, what’s a reasonable price to pay and any costs that will be involved for repairs the property needs.

The Inspection

A surveyor will inspect the inside and outside of your property, including any permanent outbuilding on the property’s land. They do not move anything covering flooring services, like carpet, floorboards, furniture and won’t route through any of your belongings. The inspection is purely observational to determine where there are issues with the property and what needs to be done to rectify them.

When inspecting the property, surveyors take into account the services to the property, the condition of the outside surfaces, dangerous materials, contamination and environmental issues. However, a specialist test is not carried out, so efficiency on any services to the property are not assessed and are inspected only on a visual level for signed of wear and tear.

The Report

A report is produced by the surveyor for you to use, based on their inspection. They do not accept liability if it is used by anyone else. Choosing to not act on this advice is done so at your own risk, as this information is vital and costs can build up if problems are left unresolved.

Reports follow a standard format and are made up of the following sections:

A           Introduction to the report

B           About the inspection

C           Overall opinion and summary of the condition ratings

D           About the property

E           Outside the property

F           Inside the property

G           Services

H           Grounds (including shared areas for flats)

I            Issues for your legal advisers

J            Risks

K           Valuation

L            Surveyor’s declaration

What to do now

Description of the RICS HomeBuyer Service

Typical house diagram

The Valuation

Along with a report, you will receive a valuation of the Market Value of the property and the reinstatement cost. The market value is how much the property is worth on the date of the valuation. It considers the location, materials, services, fittings and so on to determine a reasonable sale value. The reinstatement cost is the cost of building a new home in the style of the inspected home. It also considers any garage, retaining walls, outbuildings and clearing the site. This can help you decide how much your building insurance should cover, which is required for the property.