Tuesday, 28 May 2019 / London, UK

13 THINGS I'VE LEARNT FROM OUR MARBLE BATHROOM MAKE-OVER







It's been just over a year since our marble bathroom make-over and I thought now is a good time to share the things I've learnt from this project. It was the first bathroom we've renovated since moving into this house and the first I've designed myself (without any help from anyone else). I wanted to keep it all quite simple and minimal which obviously helped. Luckily that goes with the rest of my aesthetics too. 

If you've been planning to remodel your bathroom, you're probably aware that it's one of the 'more' expensive jobs. Bathrooms and kitchens tend to also add most value to your home. There's a reason (or two) why they are so expensive though. First of all, the materials used are expensive (tiles, cabinets, appliances etc). But you're really paying a premium for the skilled labour which is understandable of course. Fitting a kitchen or a bathroom isn't quite as simple as it sounds (often it requires re-routing plumbing and other electrical work) which probably explains the additional cost. 

Here are the most important things I've learnt from our bathroom make-over..

1. Do research and then do some more research

Whether it comes to sourcing the appliances, labour or design layout, research is the key. I've spent so many hours googling taps and sinks you wouldn't believe. Read as many reviews as possible before you buy any products. Check and sign up for the free warranty. Always read the fine print. I really don't think there's such a thing as too much research when it comes to bathroom renos. 

2. Mood boards

Mood boards are super helpful. You'll need some help to plan and visualise the space, especially if you're planning to reshuffle things around. Start with Pinterest by creating a new board that includes all your favourite images (or do it manually using cut outs from magazines). I don't like to just rely on Pinterest, so I tend to use magazines and interior books as well.  Once you start adding different items and elements together (shower head, tap, laundry basket, towels etc) you'll quickly see whether they'll work together or not. Don't forget to use a free software like Sketch or Room Planner to play around with the layout too.

3. Visit showrooms

Just because you're doing all the planning and designing yourself, doesn't mean you shouldn't seek  for professional help. Visit different showrooms to get a better understanding of the materials,  appliances and designs you may like. Many retailers offer a free design service without any obligations (like Bath Store), so you get an idea what will work best in the space you've got. You don't have to go ahead with the plan, but it may be worth getting an expert opinion, especially if you've never designed a bathroom before.

4. Get at least 3 quotes


This is the trickiest part in my opinion. It's so hard to find skilled, reliable labour these days. You should ideally get at least 3 quotes before you go ahead. If you've chosen a high street chain, you'll pay extra for the name (and this part won't apply to you then). But hiring an independent fitter can be risky. You should get at least 5 references from them and speak to their previous clients (or if possible go and see the work they've done). I really wish I had asked more questions at this point. One of the most important questions is whether they would use the same tradesman again. If the answer is maybe that is not a good sign. Listen to your gut feeling and don't go ahead with anyone who you are not 100% happy with.

5. Have everything in writing

Everything that you agree on (layout, appliances, how long it will take etc) should be in writing. I refused to agree on anything over the phone with our fitter (if there's a dispute I have no actual proof). So keep it all in emails if possible. You should also sign a contract in the beginning which includes the final price and all the finer details. I didn't do this and it ended up costing me extra.

6. Shop around for materials and appliances

You can either source the materials yourself or get your fitter to do it for you. I sourced all the appliances myself but our fitter bought the tiles (he got a trade discount so it made sense). Make sure that you don't buy any products way in advance or check with your fitter first whether they'll work or not and definitely check that the products are not damaged immediately when they arrive (most companies are flexible about this but it's better to be 100% sure). If you're not sourcing the materials yourself, make sure you see them first and know what they are (ceramic, porcelain etc). Make sure you know the pros and cons of different materials before buying them as well.

7. Don't go for cheap tiles

I know it can be tempting to go with the cheapest tiles on offer but in my experience they can really cheapen the rest of your bathroom. I let our fitter source the tiles as I knew they'd be far superior to everything else I've seen. They weren't the cheapest but I did trust his opinion on this. I saw samples before buying them too. Our tiles were by an Italian supplier called Pasta Blanca. I chose ceramic for the walls and porcelain for the floor (porcelain is a bit more durable).

8. Don't be afraid to micro manage

Even if you trust your fitter 100%, you should be checking the progress at least daily. At the end of the day, you need to be happy with the bathroom and live with it. I have found that even the best fitters take short cuts and tend to make things a little 'easier' for them given the chance. If you're a perfectionist like me, make sure that your bathroom fitter knows it. They should be asking your opinion about everything; where do you want the sink, toilet, shower head, shelving etc. There will be some restrictions due to drainage and product manufacturing guidelines, but your fitter will probably stick to industry standards in most cases to keep things simple (unless you advice him otherwise).

9.  Ask your builder for advice but don't blindly follow it

A good bathroom fitter will be able to tell you whether something will work or not. They have the experience, so you might as well take advantage of it. Having said that I've found they don't actually know everything. When it comes to aesthetics, I trust myself more.

10. Make sure you are left with some extra tiles in case something goes wrong

Hopefully you won't ever need to repair your brand new bathroom, but it's always a good idea to buy few spare tiles (5-10% extra) in case something does go wrong. Tiles can break, although this is rare unless they've been fitted incorrectly. Sometimes you'll need to remove existing tiling to gain access, especially with concealed showers, which is why it's a good idea to hold onto few spare tiles.

11. Buy a grout reviver pen

If you're planning to have white grout, you'll need a grout revival pen. I wish I had bought one way sooner. This one from Amazon is brilliant. I find the floor tiles do need touch ups every now and then. The grout around the wall tiles still looks pristine though (make sure your fitter uses anti-mould grout).

12. Consider installing a water softener

If you live in a hard water area like we do, it's worth considering getting a water softener. It's probably my biggest regret that we didn't get one. We're planning to move again in the next few years, so I thought there was no point in getting one. I totally underestimated how quickly hard water breaks the taps. We've had problems in the past with leaking taps, so I should have guessed really. Technically it's not too late yet but you should really do these things before you start the remodel. I can already see the calcium build up on our mixer tap and it's hard to remove the stains without abrasives (although I've managed to do it by gently using a brillo pad). Our bathroom mixer tap has been leaking occasionally, so we've had a plumber in and the valve needs changing. We've ordered the part and hopefully it will arrive next week. We had the same issue with our kitchen tap a while ago, so you can be sure that a water softener will be on my shopping list for the next house.

13. Get plumbing insurance

If you live in an old house (and you're not a plumber), this will save you so much money in the long run. We currently pay £12 a year for plumbing insurance with Home Serve and have used them already twice this year (the annual fee includes 4 free visits). Every year they'll try to up their fee but it's been very negotiable so far. Last year we wanted to cancel and they came back with the same offer so it's been worth having the insurance. Just make sure you read your contract and that you understand every year the fee will increase (unless you contact them).

I learnt so much from our bathroom renovation that I can't say I have any regrets at all. I still love our marble bathroom, although it was pretty stressful at times (especially when dealing with our fitter).

I hope you've found this post useful. If you have any questions/feedback/comments, please leave a note below!

*This post includes some gifted products.
Share:

Tuesday, 14 May 2019 / London, UK

MY TOP 5 DINING ROOM CHAIRS

I have some great news! I've finally decided what kind of dining room table I want (check out my Top 5 Dining Room Table post here!) I've been struggling to decide between marble (effect) and wood for quite some time. Our current dining table is glass and I really wanted something different this time. I'll share more details of our new dining table soon but right now I have to decide what kind of chairs I'm going to pair with it.

I do find picking the chairs a lot easier than choosing the right table. I now know the look I'm going for which means my chair options are a bit limited too. I also need to decide whether I want to keep it all matchy-matchy or go for a more interesting mix & match look. I guess we all know which one I'm going to go for, right? I also need to take into account the measurements of our new table (I haven't got it yet) and make sure that it can accommodate 8 chairs comfortably.

So, here are my top 5 dining chairs (in no particular order..)

Image credit: Cox & Cox

Rattan has been one of my favourite materials for furniture for quite some time now. I see more and more rattan indoors too (although it's also a very durable choice for outdoor furniture) which is why this rattan chair from Cox & Cox caught my eye. I wouldn't say that rattan is ultra comfortable. It's more comfy than wood though and you could always add an extra cushion for additional padding. This design is inspired by a 1950s classic and somehow it still manages to look contemporary and current. So if you love rattan and are worried that it will go out of fashion, you've got nothing to worry about. These rattan chairs look stunning with a light wooden dining table, don't you think? It's the perfect combo if you love a mix of Scandi and coastal décor.

2. UXBRIDGE DINING CHAIR £109

Image credit: Cult Furniture

This padded velvet chair is the opposite of uncomfortable. I visited the Cult Furniture showroom in Clapham last week and it was probably the most comfortable dining chair I've ever sat on. The velvet feels so nice and the padding on the seat is pretty generous. It comes in multiple colours too, so you can pick your favourite (or mix and match). If you want to make a real statement mix different colours together for a more unique look. I promised myself I won't buy black dining room chairs again but I may just end up doing that. Black is so practical with children and since our youngest is only 3 yo there will be food on the chairs, table etc. So, I guess if you have children and you want a velvet dining chair, darker colours are your best bet. Light colours will show everything and personally I just don't have the time and energy to try to maintain them looking pristine.

3. RAVEN UPHOLSTERED DINING CHAIR £132 (set of 2)

Image credit: Wayfair

These velvet chairs from Wayfair are very similar to the Uxbridge chair but slightly more narrow (47 cm) which means they are a great choice if you've got a smaller table (4-6 seater) or less room in general. The wooden legs look very contemporary and add a bit of Scandi chic to this design. The velvet makes the chair super luxurious and comfortable. I would pair these chairs with a light wooden table to keep the look consistent. These chairs are also pretty amazing value since you get 2 for £132.99 (they are available in pink, grey and blue too).

4. WISHBONE CHAIR £139
Image credit: Cult Furniture

Now if you're an interiors lover like me, you probably know that that the Wishbone Chair is the 'IT' chair of the moment. This timeless Danish design has been in production since the 1950s (designed by Hans J. Wegner in 1949) and I am literally seeing it everywhere at the moment. The original retails around at £443 (Skandium) and you can find replicas for much less online. Replicas won't be as durable though. The original CH24 Wishbone chair is hand made and the delivery can take up to 8-10 weeks. I saw a very good replica version in Cult Furniture but it wasn't comfortable when leaning back. I also found the woven seat very impractical with small children (and the strings do come loose over time). You could always buy this chair with an upholstered leather seat if comfort is a big concern. Sheepskin rugs/cushions are also a great way to make the chair more comfortable. Like I said, some people will find this chair fine, where as others will find it not comfortable at all. It's a beautiful chair but I wouldn't buy it without seeing it first. 

5. BRASS WIRE CHAIR £355

Image credit: Rose and Grey

Now I love the look of wire chairs but I do wonder how comfortable they actually are to sit on. Luckily Rose and Grey had though of this when they designed the Brass wire chair that comes with a green velvet comfort kit. The chair is made of brass wire and the top fastens onto the bottom frame with brass screws (it requires some self assembly). On the website it's described as an office chair but there is no reason why you can't use it as a dining room chair too. I would use these chairs as accent chairs at the top of table only and use smaller wire chairs in the middle. Mixing and matching different dining chairs together will create a unique space and it can turn out much cheaper too (especially if you like buying vintage furniture). I should warn you though, it's quite hard to successfully mix and match different chairs (in my experience anyway). It's not as simple as just picking the chairs you like. A rustic vintage table can look stunning with some contemporary chairs, but I wouldn't mix and match the chairs too much in this scenario. Don't forget about the rest of your dining room either. If you have a lot of clutter, a mix & matched look might make it look even busier. Head over here for tips how to mix and match chairs successfully.

I hope you found this post useful. If you have any advice or tips, please feel free to share them by leaving a comment below. 
Share:

Tuesday, 7 May 2019 / London, UK

[AD] GETTING ORGANISED WITH BEAUTIFY


I've been doing a spring clean for over a month now (believe me, it was long over due). I try to declutter the house a few times a year, but spring time is when all the hard work and deep cleaning happens. I've taken multiple bags of old clothes and home accessories to our local charity shops and it's amazing how much more room it has freed up. I'm also trying to get more organised at the moment. I've been buying new paper folders, drawer inserts (love the Ikea ones!) and organising my wardrobe as well. I'm hoping all of this hard work will save me a lot of time and energy in the long run and so far I love that everything is so easy to find.

So, I guess it's only natural that I wanted to team up with Beautify this month to take my organisation to another level. They've sent me two of their products to review (a 2 -tier cosmetic case and a jewellery box) and I've really enjoyed using them for the past few weeks. Beautify offer loads of different products from make-up storage to lighting, furniture and textiles (and more). All of their products as super stylish and inspired by the latest trends. Can you tell I'm hooked already?

So, let's start with the 2-tier cosmetic case. I don't wear tons of make-up which is why the 2-tier cosmetic case is definitely big enough for me. I guess it's huge even if you have loads of make-up but I do tend to store other items in there as well (hair accessories, cotton buds etc.) I was a little worried grey velvet wouldn't be the most practical material with make-up, but it's really easy to wipe clean with baby wipes. If you need more room for your make-up, go for the 3-tier case. I find the 2-tier case pretty big (and boxy) which means it can be a bit tricky to store. I tend to keep it on my dresser. It's where I usually apply the make-up and I'm so lucky that my dressing table is big enough to display this pretty case. My old make-up case was pretty small, so I'm really happy I can fit all my products in one case now. I still use my old make-up case when travelling but the 2-tier box is ideal when I'm at home.






The grey velvet jewellery box looks equally fabulous. It's quite a bit smaller (17.5 x 12.5 x 10 cm) It's actually not big enough for my needs (I've got loads of jewellery) but I love the look and the size. It's so easy to fit in a drawer too and the removable ring pad in the middle is just genius (it's perfect for rings or earrings). You can store larger items in the lower tray but I wouldn't exactly overload it or you won't be able to close the box properly. Velvet is the ideal material for jewellery as the fabric will help prevent scratches and damage. I love the rose gold detailing (same as in the cosmetic case) and that they both feel so luxurious. I prefer the grey colour but this jewellery case is also available in blush pink. 








I love that my make-up and jewellery are now so well organised thanks to Beautify. I've only tested these products for a few weeks, so I cannot comment too much on the durability, but the quality seems good. Both cases are well made and sturdy. It would be great to have more sizes available (especially for the jewellery case) but I guess if it was any bigger I wouldn't be able to store the box in the drawer. These boxes are so stylish that you'll want to display them. They also come in super stylish gift boxes featuring a chic monochrome design and a touch of pink. Most importantly, I may have gotten even more excited about getting organised and decluttering our home. Being organised has definitely helped me to feel more relaxed and clear-headed in our house. If you haven't started already, I totally recommend for you to do the same. I promise you'll feel freer and happier.

Do you have any decluttering tips and tricks you swear by?

* This is a collaborative post with Beautify.
Share:
© FINNTERIOR DESIGNER | All rights reserved.
Blog Design Handcrafted by pipdig