A little escape to Cornwall and some design lessons learnt this November...
Posts from the ‘Coast’ Category
If you’re on Instagram then we’re pretty sure you will have heard of ‘Bloom & Wild flower delivery’. We love this brand for their quirky take on bringing postable greenery into our homes in the forms of seasonal flowers, wreaths and even, well, Christmas trees! Each of the above arrives in a narrow slim box which easily fits through a standard letterbox.
First up this year is ‘The Drew’ which arrives with a collapsable pot, moss and ribbon. You can choose what decorations you’d like it to come with for a little extra sparkle – be that baubles, fairy lights, deluxe beauty treats (yes really!), robins or jingle bells.
We couldn’t resist the stunning reflective hues of the mini baubles and fairy lights so this was our combo to get started with for a design-led looking mini tree in our kitchen.
Kitchens can be tricky spaces for bringing festive cheer to as there’s the safety issue of adding flammable materials to a kitchen as well as the practicality issue of lots of ornaments and banners precariously taped or balanced. The idea of a mini tree which could sit on the worktop, be easily moved and watered once a week seemed perfect. The fairy lights are battery operated making it a really easy portable tree.
For our kids room we wanted something fun which they could embellish to really make it their own. We opted for ‘The Jack’ with its colourful string of festive jingle bells and fairy lights which when initially decorated by our three year old looked like this:
And was later embellished with lego to look like this..
The great thing about these mini trees is you can move them around their room to set up different festive scenes (sometimes it is also ceremoniously walked to the playroom with new embellishments added). It becomes a living breathing part of Christmas the kids can enjoy looking after.
You might have clocked our first review of a mini-tree last year (if not you can read it here) and we just wanted to update you that we potted it up last year and it’s been very happy. We’ve added a few of the baubles from last year as a welcome by our front door! Once Christmas is over pot yours up and help the little fella grow so you’ve got a Christmas tree for years to come!
If you fancy your own tiny tree or want to surprise a loved one to get them in the festive mood (especially if they’ve only got a small space) then enjoy 10% off your first order by signing up to the Bloom & Wild newsletter (scroll to the bottom of their ‘Bloom & Wild flower delivery’ homepage to sign up).
For transparency we were sent these trees by Bloom & Wild for the purposes of photography and to share on the blog as part of our Christmas series. We’re huge fans of the minimal packaging, clever seasonal designs and practicality they bring to the flower delivery market!
When we moved into our 1970s bungalow in Dorset from our terraced Bath Stone 1930s home packed full of character the initial impression wasn’t one of immediate attraction… However we knew that there were plenty of pluses with bungalows. The first being space, the second being all-on-one-level (handy with two tiny children) and the third being detatched. The bungalow was also a 5 minute walk to the beach which was a definite selling point and 3 years on we’re in love with the home we’re working so hard to create. It feels like home.
Here’s a little before & now photo which illustrates our work to date to keep a midcentury vibe but reference its coastal setting with the addition of new window sizes, shutters, cedar wood slatting, a white and grey paint update and tropical landscaping to include banana plants and numerous spiky plants.
Our focus has remained very much on getting the back extension and internal renovation finished but next up is to remove the green tile-hung frontage and replace with cedar wood, update the guttering and to relocate the ugly yellow alarm box! Even though there is a never-ending to-do list we can appreciate how far we’ve come and it was lovely when Michelle from Roxwell Press offered to capture our home renovation project with her customised illustration portrait service.
When the result arrived via post it was incredible to see how she’d really captured the spirit of the place (also kindly future-proofing the portrait with the cedar cladding rather than the current green tiles!). Michelle created the portrait by working from photographs we provided and asked about planting, colours and textures and it was this attention to detail that has ensured such a pleasing portrait which feels like home.
The bungalow always really sings on a bright blue day and it’s amazing to have this captured in the illustration. All that remains is to get it framed and hung. We’re thinking in the kitchen and know it’ll be a talking point!
The good news is that YOU can actually win a customised house portrait worth £100 by entering this competition which is running until 6th October. All you need to do is sign up with your email address to receive her occasional e-newsletters which feature sample sales, competitions and free hand-designed wallpapers for your screen. There is also currently free delivery on all orders (including a single card) at the moment so do take a look at her website or perhaps get an early order in for Christmas cards (if we’re allowed to mention the ‘C’ word yet).
If you’re not lucky enough to win Roxwell Press will offer a discount code to everyone whose signed up to the e-newsletter for the launch of this new house portrait service or you can skip the queue and pre-order with Michelle@roxwellpress.co.uk.
Just a quick little post to share the great news… Voting for #IBA16 is now open!
ecomodernstudios is a place to celebrate innovative fun design and our experiences in design. This year we have been fortunate enough to be included in the Best Design Inspiration Blog category in the Amara Interior Blog Awards. The awards were set up by Amara.com in 2014 and driven by an appreciation of great design – they stock really beautiful designers which include Tom Dixon, Orla Kiely and Kartell for starters!
So, if you enjoy reading the blog please do click on the link below which will take you through to the voting page:
There are some fantastic bloggers in this category so we’re really honoured to be listed, some incredibly well known bloggers and some less so, so it’s definitely worth checking out the list to discover some real talent.
Voting will close on 9th September and only one vote per person is allowed!
Thank you for your support xx
So it’s the summer holidays and we decided to take our boys (aged 2 & 4) to their first festival. Specifically, a four-day childrens festival in Dorset; Camp Bestival. Headliners are as diverse as Mr. Motivator and Dick and Dom to Fatboy Slim so there is something for everyone! We had a exhilarating bonding experience absorbing the sun, colour and fun and we wanted to share some of the vibrancy of our weekend on the blog…
This years huge flag designs were by Angus Watt and were dominating and impressive evoking the desired effect of power, beauty and grace against the beautiful blue skies.
Similarly there was lots of ribbons and material bunting which designated different areas throughout the festival. Streamed up in large swathes they were fun and provided movement and colour as you explored the site.
Confetti. Lots of it! The kids ran around collecting it and its near on impossible not to burst into smiles watching it rain down on you as Mr. Tumble kindly illustrates here…
This years theme was space so there were some wonderful space sculptures which were highly reflective and often lit up with help from multiple sources including fire.
Lasers and glow sticks around the main stage in the warm evenings completed the holiday vibe.
At night the neon lights led you from one area to the next and it felt like an enormous playground for adults and children alike!
By far our favourite design was the two spacemen who shifted colour and light looming in front of the castle…. they were enormous and really evoked the spirit of fun, creativity and passion that the festival provided.
As Dorset-based bloggers there was something so pleasing about experiencing such an exhilarating ‘Outer Space’ experience in Dorset. It was quite unlike anywhere we’ve ever been. Perhaps see you there next year!
Meet Isobel. A Dorset Papercut Artist who is sure to brighten your feed with her creativity. After graduating in Textile Design from the Arts University Bournemouth in 2012 her work has evolved into illustration and paper cutting. Isobel took five from wielding a scalpel and scissors to explain what inspires her and her unique work…
We love your playful bright style. After graduating in textile design how did you end up going down the illustration and paper cutting route?
I’ve been obsessed with drawing, colouring, creating, cutting and sticking from the word go so I’ve always known that I wanted to work in a creative field. Whilst at university I became absorbed in intricately cutting, layering and sticking coloured paper as a way of designing colourful patterns and prints in my sketchbook.
I think it was my Final Project in my last year of studies which was my ‘light-bulb’ moment. I designed and engineered a collection of Elizabethan inspired collars solely from card and paper which I had printed onto and cut into. I loved the versatility of the shapes and forms I could creative by manipulating the card and paper and was hooked from there. Paper as an illustrative medium was also becoming popular around this time with the likes of Rob Ryan and his detailed paper cuts popping up so this definitely inspired me too.
How would you describe your vibrant style?
Colourful and playful with a sprinkling of sophistication through the three-dimensional intricate detail. My work most definitely requires a steady hand!
What topics or themes do you return to in your work?
Obviously a lot of the time, the theme of my work is defined by the clients brief. However, when I’m playing or working on a self initiated brief, a recurring theme is most definitely food! I find it such a colourful, vibrant subject matter and being a total foodie is probably a contributing factor too! The scale skin of a fish, the segments in a citrus fruit, berries bursting with colour… I find the inspiration from natures patterns and colours is endless!
What inspires you about Dorset countryside and coastline in particular?
I have a concerning habit of imagining how everything I see would look constructed out of paper, so I feel very lucky to have the ability to sponge inspiration from pretty much everywhere I go! I’m very drawn to colour, so colourful signs in particular inspire me, from bunches of wild flowers when I take the dog for a walk to rows of colourful beach huts along the Dorset beaches.
Some of my favourite Dorset towns also lend themselves as inspiration for my work. I have a range of paper cut prints, including a view over the harbour in Swanage and the famous steam railway chugging down the hill away from Corfe Castle in the Purbecks, two of my absolute favourite spots.
What other contemporaries are inspiring you right now with their creativity?
Fellow Paper Cutter wise, I adore the work of Jared Schorr. He works more two-dimensionally, but his work is just so much fun! He creates the sweetest little characters and worlds from card and paper and I really admire his imagination.
I follow lots of current illustrators on social media and two of my favourites at the moment are Holly Exley and Danielle Knroll. They both work in watercolour, but their styles are completely different. Holly creates the most intricate and realistic paintings with food and wildlife as recurring themes and I think her work is just gorgeous. Danielle paints in more of a whimsical style and I love the playful subject matter of her paintings and her use of vibrant colour combinations and patterns within her work. I’m also very inspired by set designers for their compositional and three-dimensional design qualities – there is a lot to be inspired from right now!
Kitchens are often described as the ‘hub of the home’ and something we here in England obsess about. There is an alarming trend for spending enormous sums on a kitchen created by a designer which leaves the rest of us wondering how on earth we can afford one. The answer is by taking it back into your own hands and getting creative.
With us moving our kitchen into the new extension everything had to be from scratch which meant we weren’t confined to existing drainage or electricity points and it put the onus on us to get the design right. This is our longterm home and we wanted to install something with longevity for both ourselves and future owners. Whilst we argued over if there was space for a breakfast bar (there wasn’t) we spent time creating a practical triangle (between the oven, hob and sink) and ensuring placements were practical (dishwasher next to the sink etc). Whilst in the design phase it’s often easy to gloss over impractical placements but DO fight the urge to put pretty ahead of practical!
We’re only part way through our kitchen build but thought we’d showcase progress so far:
We bought the kitchen cabinets from IKEA and had them delivered which was a practical choice given there were 120 flat-pack boxes!
We chose the inexpensive Veddinge fitted kitchen in matt grey. Whilst stand-alone units are wonderful, fitted cabinets really maximise storage and being a family of 4 this is now one of our top priorities! Being IKEA you can of course change the colours of the doors / styles as necessary and we liked the ‘future proofing’ this provided. The units are solid so they don’t have gaps for installing utilities like other kitchens you can buy in the UK but its easy enough to drill access holes and this doesn’t compromise the strength of the units. We then spent a long weekend putting together the carcases and even the kids were great with some of the repetitive builds like the plastic feet.
The next part is fixing the cabinets to the wall (and to each other). It’s here you discover the walls aren’t perfectly straight or you have wobbly floors so its best to allow lots of time (and patience) for this part. In our last kitchen we used hidden push openers but they didn’t cope with the heavy drawers well so unfortunately (we love the minimalism of handleless drawers) we’ve decided we need to install handles. The handles we’re using are fixed to the inside of the drawers at the top so it means we can change them in the future if we want to change the look or functionality as the handles we’ve chosen leave the doors perfectly in tact from the front.
With the washing machine at the end of the units we had to build an ‘end’ to it which the husband swiftly did with sheets of mdf. We always look to build in display storage wherever we can to add character and functionality to spaces and this was a handy place to display cookery books (in addition to the two yellow boxouts we bought). We’ll accent the bookshelf by painting the backing in Little Greene Mister David Yellow or possibly Lamp Black.
Similarly to hide the kitchen worktop from the kitchen table we raised the area above the sink with a simple timber construction clad in mdf. This also avoids any splash back to people sitting at the table and in time we’ll add a simple shelf, splashback glass and paint.
The next step felt really exciting – using ply to create the worktop template for the concrete pour. We’ve gone with a wonderful company called Z Counterform who let you DIY using their kits. This means you can create kitchen worktops which are personal to you and the space you’ve created (no annoying joints). We settled on a White Concrete mix with a square edge profile (but you can choose whichever you like). and they look like stone on completion so are a sturdy look for your kitchen which adds to that feeling of home. Watch out for a blog post on this shortly.
Our top tips so far:
- When you’re 90% sure which kitchen you want to proceed with buy a unit. We decided to go with a grey kitchen. Installing a kitchen into a room which wasn’t a previous kitchen was daunting so we bought a single unit and built it in situ to check before taking the plunge and ordering the kitchen. Whilst it seemed risky spending £100 on something we couldn’t return we knew worst case scenario we could use it in the garage and it would be easier than returning 120 boxes after we’d ordered it if they didn’t look right!
- Think of your triangle. Using packaging cut out templates for the size of sink and hob so you can check the proportion of workspace you have around them as you’ll want everything in proportion which can be tricky to visualise when starting from scratch.
- Shop around and if you can – buy in advance and store to avoid panic-buying. Through cash back schemes, brand online outlet stores and eBay we’ve saved a fortune on our appliances. Warning: it might take over your evenings though…
- Splurge on the items you’ll use every day. We’ve gone for an induction hob for the benefits of safety, lower energy consumption and speed. We know we will cook every day! Likewise our Rangemaster sink was a splurge but we loved the unusual modernist square proportions of it which visually tied to some of our bargain Smeg appliances and we don’t regret it.
- Think about storage and add in display areas if you can to break up the ‘fitted’ nature of the space to make it feel more like you. Our yellow display boxes handily matched with the shots of yellow we had in the house and whilst they were fiddly for us to build them out to be flush with the wall units we think the extra work was worth it. Likewise extra storage for cookbooks with their lovely covers on display seemed a handy and colourful way to finish off the end of the unit in the kitchen. Don’t be afraid to add your stamp!
Would love to hear your experiences and tips too!
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.