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Modernist Aspirations…

We haven’t blogged much about our self-build home extension. Mostly because when you’re in it it’s hard to see it! Instead we’ve taken a look back to show some photos of it in progress. Pictures speak louder than words and all that…

Back in August 2015 we dug the foundations by hand, with a spade, yes just the one. Quite mad clearly! Several grab lorries later and we were the proud owners of an enormous hole, which doubled up as a mud pit for the boys.

This was the easy part as we had an enormous well-built 1970s garage in the garden and a concrete drive. Borrowing a concrete breaker we then spent every weekend breaking up huge chunks of it, repurposing the smaller pieces and shingle for the foundations.

As the garage was so tight to our boundary it was a slightly tricky experience with the sledgehammer at times to ensure the brickwork fell our way. Our neighbours were great though helping and letting us have access to push the structure back onto our property.

Several grabbers later we had some space to carry on digging our trenches marking in red where we wanted concrete to go up to:

Then came a trench pour in concrete which went well and created a labyrinth style maze for the boys, which was quickly spoilt by blockwork and lots of it. This flew up quickly (if heavily) and the slab bases were compacted by hiring a heavyweight wacker plate.

We then installed the damp proof membrane, insulation, separating membrane and mesh reinforcement ready for the slab pour. Unfortunately it then decided to rain… a lot… and we had the last minute panic of trying to empty out huge amounts of water as the concrete mixer lorry patiently waited! As a result our concrete pour wasn’t as smooth as the first – and definitely not as flat!

Still, it set and allowed us to start work on the timber framing. This has been a satisfying part of the process so far as it’s reasonably quick. Travis Perkins and Bradfords have kept us stocked up with what we have to say has been a brilliant service.

 

Creating timber frame walls and studding them out we’ve then plyed the outside and clad it in insulation and battening. Suddenly things felt more ‘real’ and we had professionals on site to fit the single ply membrane flat roof. People are often scared with flat roofs but this comes with a 20 year guarantee and is expected to last MUCH longer. Even when it does need replacing it’s just a case of laying a fresh layer over the top!

 

Once the roof went on we could fix the GlazingVision Flushglaze roof light which looks devilishly crisp and beautifully connects the inside with the outside with a 2m x 1m frameless view of the sky. Now we had weather protection we were able to start focusing on the inside. By finding seconds insulation on eBay this allowed us to really make the framework into a cosy modernist box for a fraction of the price.

And then finally the aluminium bi-folds and slimline grey upvc windows have gone in today. These are in anthracite grey but of course covered in protective film which we’re just itching to remove! We’re waiting on the garage roller shutter door but are finally dry in the ‘living’ spaces of the build. Relief!

The self-build to date has been fun and exciting but also stressful, gruelling and hard – in sum all-encompassing! It’s a way to learn what you’re capable outside of your comfort zone, be hands on and experience it as a family (with grandparents and friends heroically coming to the rescue). Importantly it gives you the ability to make decisions as you build whilst also saving money. It does take away from your evenings, your weekends and in short any chance you have to relax! We’ve had black thumbs, back aches and even one case of passing out so it’s very much both a physical and mental process. Still, looking back to date, it’s been quite a journey and we’re proud of what we’ve achieved as a young family going with the ethos ‘don’t move, improve!’.

We’ll update you soon on next progresses… we hope you’ve enjoyed this little run through of our journey to date though.

ecomodernstudios x

 

 

 

Summer dreaming…

Mark Warner have set bloggers the challenge to think about what would make a perfect holiday and it got us thinking.

One of the most exciting things about taking our design trips is immersing ourselves in a new culture and climate and getting the opportunity to really embrace a weekend of exploration. We’ve done this with mini-break trips to Copenhagen, Barcelona, Rome and Paris and love that soaring sense of freeness when you step off the plane brimming with anticipation or see something breathtaking like the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark. We undertook these trips minus the kids to escape for long weekends. However, now they’re fully fledged on their scooters and bursting with questions it seems like the right age to take them with us to really enjoy being a family and get them thinking outside the box with design, culture and daily life.

So what would we do?

We’d need a plan. Preparation seems to pay off with kids. Last year we drove to Luxembourg and back without a single tear shed due to a Mary Poppins style bag of tricks and a mixed itinerary of culture, exploration, cafes and stop-overs.

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Dunkirk 2015

The fear of course is how can we keep them entertained enough for a proper break, and if we do, will we get the opportunity to explore ourselves to enjoy that sense of escapism? Right now a dream holiday would be somewhere with great food (Italy springs to mind), sun (anyone remember what it felt like to feel warm?) and somewhere to relax the mind and body (we’re in the midst of home renovation so can only dream). Somewhere with plenty of active outdoor activities but also somewhere not too far from old fishing villages, flea markets to lose a few hours and local artisans. A place to hear the stories, meet the makers, the crafters and locals whilst also (and importantly) getting quality time with the kids to run riot in appropriate dedicated spaces! It’s those fresh warmed faces of happy summers that we want our children to remember with those impressionable glimpses into the world around them. An early memory of mine is dipping into the glass-blowing houses in Venice when we stayed one Christmas. The light, the noise, the glow still stays with me and these experiences in our formative years are so invaluable to opening our eyes and hearts to the world.

Here’s to 2016 and opening our eyes just that little bit wider.

ecomodernstudios x

A style guru article for the Mark Warner Family Ambassador Programme 2016

A thriving little indoor jungle!

We’ve never been involved in #urbanjunglebloggers before but have long since loved the shot of green they instill into our social media feeds.

Each month you’re challenged to photograph your house plants in different ways to celebrate all that they bring to our home environments (mood-lifting colour, clean healthier air and a connection to the outdoors to name a few). This month it’s all about the urban jungle with some cheeky animal folk getting in on the act.

Despite the inevitable hilarity of these challenges its a great motivation to pot up some succulents, ferns, air plants or spider plants for your home. Studies suggest there are benefits aside from the aesthetic; lowering blood pressure and increasing concentration as per this recent article in the Guardian on how houseplants have charmed a new generation of gardeners.

Scroll down to see how we got on with bringing a little jungle to our children’s room!

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‘J’ is for Jungle! This fabric letter is from the brilliant Kitty McCall and sits against a spiky aloe vera plant potted up in a terracotta pot which we sprayed copper and let drip dry.

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The kids love playing amongst the pots with their dinosaurs, peg figures and a cheeky wooden Kay Bojesen bear with moveable arms and legs which can lead chase from behind the pots! The ‘J’ hanger is from Anthropologie with their wonderful letter products.

If you’d like to join in on the planty antics then sign up for the Urban Jungle Bloggers monthly newsletter or follow on the usual social media suspects including Instagram!

In the words of #urbanjunglebloggers: Rooooooooooaaaaarrr!

Blooming lovely!

With a spring in our steps we’re headed towards Valentine’s Day. Whether or not you’re ‘with’ someone it’s nice to reach out and show you care, and flowers can bring a bit of unexpected magic to this rather grey month.

We covered Bloom & Wild on our blog at Christmas with their amazing letterbox tree (this clever miniature system means our mini tree is now planted out in our garden for next year). We love following the growth of this British company which is bringing design and colour into our lives in a way which feels fresh and unique.

Founded in 2013, this innovative online florist has recently been included in the exciting Bloomberg Business Innovators 2016 list (really worth a gander), which assembles together ‘the people changing how the UK lives, works and thinks’. Quite a feat! For Bloom & Wild it’s all about moving with each month – bringing new colours, tones, scents and inspirations to grow throughout the year and providing opportunities to send flowers without the rigamarole of being ‘in’ to receive them.

For Valentine’s this year Bloom & Wild opted to offer an alternative to the red rose cliché with the ‘Lizzie’ which is inspired by Rose Quartz (a Pantone colour of 2016). Pantone characterise this as a colour with the ability to sooth:

‘As consumers seek mindfulness and well-being as an antidote to modern day stresses, welcoming colors that psychologically fulfill our yearning for reassurance and security are becoming more prominent’.

pantone-13-1520-rose-quartz-1024x640This pastel shade is calming and quietly strong and this fits with the sense you get unravelling your ‘Lizzie’ blooms and glimpsing at what they will become. Blush roses are paired with cream lisianthus, pale pink alstroemerias and fragrant eucalyptus to provide you with a very note-worthy floral display… but we’re getting ahead of ourselves!…

IMG_7923The blooms arrive in a slimline box which fits neatly through a letterbox, wrapped beautifully with a gold ribbon, so it feels like a treat from the off. Each flower has a delicate net to protect it meaning unravelling these beauties feels like a calming and indulging ritual allowing you to appreciate each individual stem.

IMG_7954Over the next few days you can enjoy the arrangement filling out as the buds open out- this allows you to enjoy them in full flower for longer and we love that they provide you with a little note on tips on how to arrange and trim the different stems to get the best from your display.

IMG_7963So, if you want some floral fun in your life then we recommend following Bloom & Wild on Twitter or Instagram! On Instagram especially they have a monthly competition using the hashtag #letterboxflowers. Their favourite flower picture wins 3 months of flowers as well as often something very beautiful from a British company they really rate too (it’s essential oil natural Neom candles this month!). All good fun and gets you celebrating the good stuff – bringing colour and nature into your home!

The Lizzie flowers were complimentary but all words and thoughts are ours. 

Purity By Design: ByAlex

ByAlex; A British design company dedicated to developing considered, playful and enjoyable products for your home!

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