Tuesday, 21 April 2015

NEW EXTENSION: WEEK 3

I am a little behind my extension posts but writing from our sofa in the living room is clearly not as comfortable as typing away in our dining room (to which I do not have access at the moment). Anyway, our third week of building works went according to plan and it was definitely the noisiest and the most interruptive week to date. Our builders started working on the electrics and plumbing which is why I was figuring out our floor plan in my previous post. Last week, I finally found the perfect spot for our designer radiator and decided where the switches and plug sockets will go. You can also read about Week 1 and Week 2 if you want to know more about our project so far.

The builders were insulating the roof this week and they also drilled holes for our spotlights. I always knew I wanted spotlights for this room. They look contemporary and we have them (almost) in every single room in this house. Since we are having spotlights, the builders had to insulate the ceiling a bit differently. You also need to make sure the ventilation is adequate and use good fire rated spotlights. A lot of people told me that you cannot have spotlights in a sloping roof but that's simply not true. A good electrician will know how to install spotlights in a sloping roof and if they advice you otherwise they either a) do not want to do it because it's more work, or b) are not skilled enough to do it in the first place. Since our ceiling is sloping I decided to go for angled spotlights which will allow me to choose where to place light. You can choose to highlight a picture or an architectural feature which makes them so much more versatile in comparison to fixed ones.



The most frustrating part this week has been having restricted access to our kitchen on two consecutive days. This was so that our builders could knock down part of an existing wall that will widen the kitchen entrance. It also meant that we had to move our free standing fridge to avoid getting any dents on it. It is very annoying when you do not have access to the kitchen, especially with a toddler in the house, but we actually managed fine. Builders also put up some dust sheets so that the dust wouldn't get everywhere (although I am not convinced this made a big difference).

There is something very scary about someone knocking down existing walls in your home. I trust my builders but I hated watching them do it! I was worried the whole house might collapse and kept telling them to be very, very careful. I think they found it amusing to be honest and guaranteed that they have done this a hundred times before and that there was nothing to worry about. Needless to say, our 2.5 year old daughter hated all the banging and kept putting her fingers in her ears. Her favourite sentence at the moment is 'Bye, bye Noise!' and she calls it the noisy room :) 







Luckily, everything went according to plan and now our house officially looks like a proper building site. If I wanted an exposed brick wall this would be the right a time to do it :). Builders also removed the door and the frame between the kitchen and the dining room so that it will feel more open-plan. They couldn't go too high on the door frame as otherwise they would have had to cut into the beam (which we didn't want to touch).

Also, our new radiator arrived which I am very excited about! It was really tricky figuring out whether we should have a vertical or horizontal radiator. Since I love a good design, I had to go  for a statement/designer radiator in the end. We got our radiator from Hot Interiors and I must say their customer service was excellent. I love our radiator! It's quite tall and slim and definitely a statement piece. I cannot wait to see it in the room although we will leave it last as we don't want to get any paint on it.

So, that's it for week 3! I am getting more impatient each week and dealing with the builders and multiple incoming deliveries is keeping me very busy at the moment. I'm not complaining though, as it's a very exciting time for us and we cannot wait to see what the room will look like when it's finished.
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Wednesday, 8 April 2015

FURNITURE LAYOUT FOR THE NEW EXTENSION

For months I have been putting this daunting task off. Builders finally told me that they need a furniture layout showing the location of plug sockets, radiators and lighting. I really left it last minute (as usual) but managed to make all the important decisions in the end.

Here's the thing. Our new extension will be a long but quite a narrow room. It will be one multifunctional room. We will be using it as a second sitting room (especially during the summer), as well as a large entertaining space together with our kitchen and the dining room. We have removed the double doors between the extension and dining room so that it will feel more open-plan and that more light will fall into the dining room through the velux window.

Initially, I was considering having a play room for our daughter but decided I wanted a second sitting room more. Also, our daughter doesn't play alone and follows us where ever we go and I just don't see myself spending a lot of time in a kids playroom. I'd rather sit on my comfortable sofa even if it means I need to clean up the toys by the end of the day. I guess it's all down to personal preference!

Luckily, the new room  is south east facing which means we get plenty of sunshine during the day. Our primary sitting room is more of a TV room, where as this room will be more a socialising space. And, there won't be a TV in this room (although my husband did try to introduce the idea)! I am hoping all 3 rooms will form a great living space with an open-plan feel. I also want to bring our garden into the sitting room by having big windows and double doors. I think it's incredibly handy that the sitting room and kitchen face the garden because it's a good way to keep an eye on my daughter whilst cooking. You can probably tell I am starting to get very excited about our new room :) At some point, I'd also love to have a decking outside which will make the room flow nicely into the garden. In fact, it will be our project for next year!

Anyway, it has been tricky deciding what furniture I want to have in this room. When space is limited, you need to be more creative and most importantly prioritise what is important to you. The best part is that my husband has left all the decorating to me so I have free hands! I think he knows my style by now and is confident that I will pick something modern that will complement the rest of the house.

My 'Must Haves'
  • fabric sofa (ideally 3-seater)
  • a chair or a lounger/rocker
  • side table or stacking tables
  • floor lamp (or 2)
  • storage space for toys

I will definitely need to make some compromises. A large sofa means less storage space but it will be better for entertaining. A good size 3 seater is what I have in mind but I do need to measure everything to make sure it fits and doesn't overpower the room. I have been looking at light grey sofas for a change and plan to keep the decor light and fresh. The room gets so much sun that strong colours would fade eventually which also means that leather is out of the question. Ikea and Dwell are my favourites at the moment but I won't order the sofa until the room is painted.

I'd also like to have a chair/lounger in the corner next to the window but I think it's wise to order the sofa first to see how much space I've got left. I love the white leather rocker from Dwell but it might be too big. I also like this Blu Dot Hot Mesh Chair from Heal's, especially in black.

There's definitely not enough room for a coffee table which is fine because I actually prefer side/stacking tables which are so easy to move around. I've seen some very stylish industrial style side tables and bar carts on wheels which would be ideal but perhaps not very toddler friendly. I'd also like some storage space to hide all the clutter but I will only do this if there is extra space (which is not looking too good right now). I think a chevron laundry basket would hide toys quickly and still look stylish in the corner. Something like this could work.

Rug or no rug? I'd love have an area rug in the room but I need to wait and see how much space I've got left. It might not be practical and could look funny in a narrow room. Perhaps I will just have a smaller statement rug near the double doors. I really don't know but it's certainly not something I need to decide right now.

Our long walls are also perfect for wall shelving which I am hoping to install at some stage. By the way, I find wall shelving fantastic when there are kids in the house. It's so handy to hide items so that children cannot reach them. It's much safer for them too obviously. In fact, I think wall shelving and safety gates are the only baby proofing we have done in this house to date! I also love gallery walls. I am definitely planning to have a gallery wall in this room. I already have two gallery walls in the house but as far as I am concerned you can never have too many!

It's really difficult to envision what the room will look like so I have been using FloorPlanner to help me to make some important decisions. It's free (for the first project) and pretty easy to use. The 3D images are very good if you are moving into a new house or just want to reorganise your current room. The furniture choice is a little limited (especially the colours) but you definitely get the idea. It was especially helpful when I was trying to pick the spot for our radiator. I decided to go for a statement radiator and it took me quite some time to decide where it will go. It's a great tool and I would use it again for other rooms in the house.

Here's few samples I was playing around with.





The 2D pictures are not the most helpful but the 3D version is just as good as the one we received from our kitchen designer. It was especially useful seeing the room from outside through the windows and the double doors. I could have drawn the entire house but I simply didn't have the time. Sketch Up is another free software that is easy and fun to use. There are so many online tutorials available that it's incredibly easy for a novice to start drawing. If you are planning a new kitchen or even a bigger project, I would strongly advice getting a professional to do the 3D plans or learn yourself how to do it. It definitely helped me with the furniture layout and I am pretty confident it will be just how I wanted. Luckily, I don't have to wait very long to find out!
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