Know Your Bath

Robyn LambrickLast week we chatted to Robyn Lambrick about the wonder of “resurfacing” – a restorative process where old and ugly sanitaryware gets a new lease on life (read post: here). Robyn’s husband owns the resurfacing company Beta Bathrooms and the sanware item they refinish is bathtubs…

Today Robyn is going to tell us all about baths (all of which can be resurfaced btw) – and since my bath is one of my sacred spaces in my home, I am all ears (plus both of our baths need a bit of TLC).

Take it away Robyn…

Q: Should I replace my old cast iron bath while renovating my bathroom?

A: Well, if you ask us – we’ll tell you NO!  Most definitely not! It’s simple, we believe that a cast iron bath is one of the best baths ever made!

Q: Could you open that up for us somewhat:

A: Sure thing.  There are a few reasons:

# Firstly, a cast iron bath is a handy man’s dream – no silicon is required for sealing around this This means – no unsightly mould (a biggie believe me)!

# These baths are solid as a rock – no shifting or moving beneath the user – no matter how heavy you are!  It’s important to note here that the fibreglass bath, a much lighter bath, shifts very easily and has been known to crack and sometimes even produce holes in the bottom or sides – much to their owner’s dismay!

# Cast iron baths retain their heat for way longer than any other bath.  Suddenly that long romantic bubble bath soak becomes appealing doesn’t it?

# Buying a cast iron bath is also not a short term purchase.This bath once installed can last a lifetime. It is an element that will work in favour of your home as an investment.

# Cast iron baths are harder to chip & scratch and most certainly won’t develop any holes – unless you purposefully take a drill to your bath!

# They are, however, a rare and beautiful find – as they are scarce and quite sought after!  So if you happen to lay your hands on one – hold on to it and rather resurface or renovate the surface. As mentioned earlier – it will pay its dues!

# These baths are durable and have a classic look that never seems to date no matter what bathroom trends we face.  Therefore, we highly recommend don’t replace. Rather Resurface. That’s a no-brainer.

Q: Can the same be said for a pressed steel bath?

A: No, unfortunately not.  These baths are made from formed steel and have a porcelain-enamel coating.  They are not as expensive and chip and scratch very easily!  Steel conducts heat, meaning the bath water cools way too quickly – leaving the occupant feeling rather chilly!  Pressed steel are way heavier than their brother – the cast iron bath – back breaking stuff moving this bath – so not the contractor’s favourite friend!  We’d go out on a limb and say – a pressed steel bath is not our favourite type of bath.

Q: What about a plastic bath? 

A: Plastic, either fibreglass or acrylic baths, offer the greatest design flexibility because it can be moulded into many shapes –customer is spoilt for choice in shape, sizes, colour and styles! It insulates very well; is light for transport and carrying purposes. The downside however – it does chip and scratch easily – especially with the abrasive cleaners available on the market.

Coffee Tables: A Contemporary Take

Over the course of the past year, we have been lucky enough to be working on interior projects that have given us the opportunity of applying some trendy new industrial/rustic living décor and design elements. I have to admit that trying to source the industrial furniture elements has not always been that easy here in Cape Town. In fact, I would go so far as to say, that it is a great pity that the retail furniture outlets in town that cater for that type of style are so limited.

Thank heavens for Weylandts. Man oh man – they are a forward thinking décor company. We spent hours and hours during the course of these projects trawling their showrooms. During this time I was introduced to the concept of having multiple “side tables” (for want of a better description) of varying shapes and textured being put to use as “centre coffee tables”. Something like a round metal table mixed with a tribal wood stump table as well another smaller and taller side table. A cluster of tables so to speak.

The most appealing aspect of this styling method is the fact that it presents a less bulky and fixed look than the coffee table. And of course it is far more entertaining and playful for the eye of the beholder. Plus – the other added benefit is that these tables are more mobile – you can shift them around in that space to where they are most suited and functional.

I would encourage you to explore this concept of cluster tabling for your next coffee table purchase.  It will cost slightly more, but then it is not every day one steps out to purchase a coffee table. So make it good and make it work. Save a little longer and buy wisely. Far too often have I encountered oversized and bulky coffee tables that do nothing for the space and leave very little or no space for traffic flow around them. Far too often very little creative thought is given to this facet of home decorating – coffee tables frequently appear to be nothing more than an afterthought! And it need not be so. Using a collection of different tables gives you the opportunity to be expressive and creative. Just a by the way – although I have spoken of it in the context of the industrial and rustic styled house, this type of cluster tables is not limited to those styles and can be applied into any style.

I challenge you to get out there the next time you want to do coffee or side tabling and dare to be different. Explore the net and the retail showrooms. Research and spend some time thinking outta the box. It can really be very exciting.

Décor Diva: The Secret To A Decadent Boudoir Bedroom

According to Wikipedia a Boudoir is “a lady’s private sitting room or dressing room.” Others have added in the phrase “where she would retire to receive friends.”

The term derives from the French verb “bouder” meaning, “to be sulky.”  Apparently, young ladies were sent to their “boudoirs” to go and sulk in private. Who would have thought of that association today?

More interesting though is to see how the interpretation of a Boudoir has recently come to denote a style of furnishing for the Bedroom that can traditionally be described as ornate, opulent and sensuous. The focus of which is strongly linked to the Renaissance and French inspired bedroom styles. And even more recently, it includes an opulent spin on the “French Country Cottage” style.

This is a very definite style and is all about ambience, ambience and even more ambience.  At the mention of the word “boudoir,” images and descriptions of O.T.T. opulence, glamour, sensuality, intimacy and privacy, dark chocolate, red roses and the like come to mind. You get taken away to scenes from the movies “Moulin Rouge” and “Marie Antoinette”.

So, let’s take a closer look at how to create this decadent private romantic bedroom style, the sensuality of which will seduce all who enter into that chamber.

To achieve an effective boudoir style, lavish layering is essential. In order to add depth to the room, you would include various layers of textures, objects and tones – all of these add further character and dimension.

The Traditional Boudoir

A more “classical” boudoir would be along the Versailles / Moulin Rouge style, with the textures being found in plush, deep velvet fabrics, patterned and plain mixed together; rich silk fabrics (on the lampshades, scatters cushions and bed throws), not forgetting that deep pile damask wallpaper and toiles (non-negotiable). Remember – glamour is key.

The furniture – very much along the lines of the Louis XV style. It can be a chair in the corner, a deep-buttoned headboard, bedside pedestals and ottomans. This style has the slightly curved legs, otherwise known as “cabriole”. The finish on these pieces, either the ever popular gold gilt, dark stained wood or paint. Sheer decadence and opulence.

The last layers will be the accessories, decadent mirrors with ornate frames, glass, silver & mirrored ornaments, lamp bases, vases and all manner of collectables. Then of course, there are the candles – in varying sizes and colours. Naturally, fragranced candles will enhance your sensual ambience. Take the time to group your accessories together – clusters of small mirrors, prints and pictures and any of the above. Oh – never forget that trendy crystal chandelier!

The floor covering should the deep piled rugs, preferably of along the shaggy style. Your feet should feel embraced by the pile of the rug.

To create that intimate space for the classic style look at applying the deep red colour, rich burgundy, pink, purple, royal blue, grey and gold. For a more masculine touch work with black, silver, white and purple.

The French Country Boudoir

If you find the strong textures and tones of the classic boudoir style to overwhelming you can always opt for the ever popular fresh French Country Style. The sensuality and intimacy of this boudoir style is to be found in the romantic softness. The fabrics by contrast are soft, flimsy voiles, natural linens and silks alike, complimented by some country floral patterns.

The same French furniture style is used, but the finish is different. Paint techniqued to look slightly distressed or aged – tones of off-whites, very pale yellows and soft French blues and greys are ever popular.

The bed would be dressed with linen that draws you into its freshness, using neutral tones as complimentary. To add depth, introduce any soft colour with a faded appearance. Add a glimpse of glamour with a sensuous throw and scatter cushions, with a hint of “glitz”.

Maintain the natural essence of this style on the floor, applying natural textured rugs that are sensual in their ruggedness.

Go out there, style and create your prefect boudoir – achievable even on a budget – just shop around and let it evolve.

Boudoir Bedroom ǀ The Design Tabloid (5)
{The Grosvenor Hotel launched its opulent ‘Courtesan’s Boudoir’. The Parisian-inspired Suite has been tenderly created in homage to one of the grand railway hotel’s most infamous visitors – the scandalous courtesan, Miss Cora Pearl.}

Boudoir Bedroom ǀ The Design Tabloid (7)

Boudoir Bedroom ǀ The Design Tabloid (8)

Boudoir Bedroom ǀ The Design Tabloid (9)

Boudoir Bedroom ǀ The Design Tabloid (3)

{Image Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9}

Décor Dictionary: Contemporary vs Modern

In the field of design & décor you have to be very careful with what you label “Modern” or “Contemporary.” So often we see & hear people incorrectly referring to an interior or furniture piece as “modern” when they actually mean “contemporary.” We have even seen this grave mistake in design blogs and magazines!

In design & décor (and even other visual departments such as art & theatre)  “modern” is a static term referring to the era  & style of what we today call “Mid-Century Modern.” So Sista, if it doesn’t smack of delicious Mid-Century retro-ness – it’s not “modern.” Contemporary is a little more difficult to explain in design terms as it is a dynamic, ever-changing “style.”

Another factor that is further confusing the matter is the fact that Mid-Century Modern is currently experiencing a revival – the web is littered with contemporary-modern hybrid interiors.

To help you, I will be defining the terms “Contemporary” & “Modern” (i.e. Mid-Century Modern). Later today I will also be “reblogging” 2 excellent articles written by Lindsay form Urban Domesticity. In the articles she chats in detail about the difference between contemporary & modern. It’s extremely well written and a superb read – be sure not to miss it.

Two examples of the sleek, minimalist, linear style that can be thought of as current (about the last 5 years) contemporary design.

Contemporary Style:   basically means “of this moment.” It is a new current style of design and interiors that exist in the here-and-now. Today, we often relate Contemporary Style to the simplistic, minimal, clean and uncluttered look – think linear lines, neutral colour schemes, stainless, glass, and sleek timbers. However, Contemporary as a style is ever-changing and dynamic – what we view as contemporary today might will not be contemporary tomorrow. For example: In the 80s the Biggie Best country cottage style was BIG in South Africa – it was the contemporary style of the time (i.e. the 80s), yet today it is outdated and vintage.

Here you see two great examples of authentic Mid-Century Modern interiors and the image below on the left is a brilliant Mid-Century recreation with authentic period furniture pieces.

Mid-Century Modern Style:   is a mid-20th century style of architecture, furniture – and product design that originated in the early 1930s and continued into the mid-1960s. Often referred to as “modern” or “retro”, the style is characterized by simplicity, clean lines, organic forms, and the use of moulded plywood, metal, and plastic. Mid-Century Modern design was greatly influenced by the uncomplicated and practical Scandinavian designs of that time. It was also a golden period of furniture design – gorgeous and innovative designs by masters such as Charles & Ray Eames, Verner PantonEero Saarinen and Arne Jacobsen – but to name a few.

A beautiful example of a contemporary modern interior. Notice the contemporary art, lighting & sofa mix with the mid-century modern occasional chairs & TV unit. Image via contemporist.com
Image sources:
Contemporary images: via
Authentic Mid-Century images: via
Mid-Century Recreation image: via
Contemporary mid-century image: via

It’s A Goal!

It was only a few years ago that I discovered that January is the international goal setting month of the year.  Or so it seemed then and still seems this year.  Almost all types of business blogs and others seem to focus on getting your goals for the years sorted, and then chunking it down to smaller bite size pieces.  I even got introduced to the South Africa’s Fairy Godmother”, Donna McCallum, last year when listening to our local talk radio show.  And this year was no exception for the re-appearance of the Fairy Godmother and her magic wand that she waves over you to motivate you into reaching your goals.

South Africa's own Fairy Godmother, Donna McCallum.

So, I am not exactly the Fairy Godmother, but I rather fancy the idea of waving my magic wand in your direction, to inspire you to re-visit your interior spaces, with a view to setting some goals that will usher in some fresh elements to office or home.

 

Marica and I so often have these awesomely interesting discussions around interiors and I have wished that it could be more public so that many others could draw the benefit of these as well.  One of the topics that we touched on in length last year was the fact that we get so accustomed to living with stuff, that we don’t even begin to notice that the curtains are fading, or that the clutter is growing on the desk, or that our décor is beginning to date, developing a rather stale appearance.

So, let’s join that “IT’S A GOAL” mob and set a few goals re: the interior design and décor of your space right now – it is January after all.

Goals should apparently be SMART: (My response to that is: of course they are smart – they originate from me and that makes them smart).

Seriously though, that acronym looks like this:

S – SPECIFIC

M – MEASURABLE

A – ATTAINABLE

R – RELEVANT

T – TIME – BOUND

Here goes:

1.  The “research” phase: – get into the décor mags and those online décor blogs, just so that you can see what is out there in terms of trends, colour, style and what the retailers have to offer. Remember – the objective is to keep your décor fresh and vibrant.

Décor books, mags and blogs are an excellent source of style inspiration and to point you in the right décor direction. Image via The Paper Pony

2.  Grab hold of a pen and a notebook. Then take a slow stroll through your house or office. Do it room by room – slowly.

3.  Stop and take a long look around the room. Remember to view the room through new and creative “lens” and particularly with a view to bringing in “freshness”.

4.  Note all the things that have bugged you terribly in the past and which have become the things that are put off being done. That then becomes the “priority list” items on the “TO DO LIST“. Then note all the things that would be on your “wish list”.

Organize your inspirational décor images & create a concept board. Image via House Beautiful

5.  Don’t make it an unattainable and unrealistic wish list – rather focus on that which you know could be easy to do and that which would not break the bank to buy.

6.  After you have covered each room, chunk it down even further (this I have discovered is a well worn cliché in the “goal setting” scenario).

As an example:  After having been through my house, I instinctively know that my bedroom is the one room that needs the most refreshing work done in it.

7.  Next step after chunking down do a short list of “TO DO GOALS” – set out a list of no more than four actions that need to be achieved. E.g. – “paint 2 walls a contrasting colour. And – freshen scatters with new fabrics.”

8.  Thereafter; chunk those actions down into the real “stuff to get” list. E.g. – select paint colour, – chunk it down further, asking questions like, WHO (will paint) WHERE (to buy paint) and WHAT (colour paint). In terms of say scatters; WHAT (fabrics & patterns) WHERE (will I buy); etc. STICK WITH THE LISTS – IT HOLDS YOU ACCOUNTABLE AND RE-INFORCES THE ACTIONS.

The mighty "To Do List". This funky printable To-Do list can be downloaded for free from A Pair of Pears. (Image link 7)

9.  Now that you know exactly what it is you need to do and also to buy, SET YOURSELF A BUDGET. Put a figure next to each line item and try to stay within those confines. This alleviates emotional and impulse spending

10.  LASTLY – set yourself a realistic time frame in which to perform and complete this task. I would recommend no longer than three months. Just to circumvent boredom. Long term goals are different animals, but that does not exclude them.

These tips are not foolproof by any means, but I reckon that it is a step in the SMART direction.

ENJOY YOUR INTERIORS AND BE INSPIRED.

Image Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Window Treatments 101: Roman Blinds

We recently kicked off the series “Window Treatments“, painting a bit of a historical background picture, just to set the scene for the future articles.

For those of us living in the Southern Hemisphere spring is making way for those hot summer days. Our interior lifestyle begins to swing with it, as we go about the business of creating cool spaces to rattle around in.

Speaking for myself, I find that the seasons definitely impact on my window treatments. In winter all I want to do is hibernate indoors, pull shut the heavy draped curtains to block out all consciousness of the bleak cold and wet weather. The “bear-effect“.

Sheer Voile Curtains
Sheer curtains are a must for summer!

In summer just as we strip away the layers of clothing, so I feel like I want to strip away the layers on the windows in order to create more of that feeling of “openness”. Light-weight sheer fabrics for curtains – unlined naturally – that hang from a silver metal pole, so that when the breeze comes up, it gently lifts the curtain and plays with it.

The other ‘”less is more” option in terms of dressing a window are blinds that are either fitted into the window recess or externally if on installed on a door opening.

Roman Blinds
Some pretty plain-fabric Roman Blinds - perfect in bathroom setup. Image via: Urbaneblinds.co.uk

The varieties of blinds available today are just amazing. Today I will open up one of the old favourites:

ROMAN BLINDS:   These are normally made using a fabric and they are lined with a plain white or cream fabric as a rule. However, that does not mean that you are restricted to plain fabric linings.  The only reason that a plain sateen fabric is used for lining is due to the fact that this is the fabric that will be visible from outside the house.  The rule of thumb is to have all the curtains lined with the same fabric to retain a coherent exterior view when the curtains or blinds are drawn. It does begin to look a bit like a patchwork quilt if there are a variety of fabrics seen from the outside.

The other purpose of a lining is that it protects the main fabric from dust and dirt that penetrates through open windows. It also serves to protect the front fabric from the fading that happens with exposure to ultra-violet light.

Roman Blinds
You will find a lot of easy DIY Roman Blind tutorials on the net. Like this one from the Adventures in Dressmaking blog.

I cannot possibly go into the details of how these blinds are put together in the workshop, as that is just not my thing. If that is where your interest lies, I would suggest that a good google session will help you out there.

Suffice to say that these blinds are drawn up and down by means of a group of string cords thread through plastic eyelets.

The Roman Blind can itself be treated in a decorative way – such a having different shapes at the bottom, which can also be finished (or trimmed as we call it in the trade) with a piping cord. This piping cord can be covered either using the same fabric, or a contrasting colour.

Rebated Curtain Rail
A rebated curtain rod / pole. The curtain rail or blind baton is then fixed into the recess. This is a neat and elegant way of dealing with those unsightly curtain rails.

For a good many years now, the top of the roman blind (which is attached to a wooden or metal baton) can have the added feature of a covered wooden pole (either in same or contrast fabric). Or it can be painted to work in with the main body of colour in the fabric. This wooden pole has a small rebate cut out in it, into which the top of the blind fits. Very neat.

I like this finish as it completes the picture somewhat, making the blind look as if it is falling from under the pole.

Roman Blinds
Choose a nice funky and simplistic fabric design for a contemporary Roman Blind. Avoid a busy or "cluttered" pattern. These pretty blinds are via JohnLewis.com

In the 1980’s and first half of the 1990’s when the Laura Ashley country style was very popular we saw the resurgence of this blind as a window treatment. Here in South Africa Biggie Best adopted the same décor style and roman blinds were everywhere to be found.

As the “less is more” style moved in, the younger generation were less inclined to adopt their mom’s country style. Today although roman blinds are still to be found, the popularity has dwindled – like most trends.

The advantage of the Roman Blind is that you can have the fabric of your choice made up to fit the window in a less fussy manner to that of a curtain. Certain windows like those in kitchens, bathrooms, hallways, staircases, smaller and narrower windows are more suitable to blinds and this is where the roman blind can work well.

Sheer Roman Blinds
These stunning sheer Roman Blinds allows for privacy without loosing too much light. Image via Blinds by Bayliss

The disadvantage of Roman Blinds is that fabrics need to be washed.  That can be quite a little exercise when you have to take the blind down and then re-install. Invariably you will need the assistance of a professional curtain installer. Other disadvantages – when the eyelets perish and break – the cording system is affected.  You will find you have a wobbly and lopsided blind when drawn up.

Naturally as a decorator you work with the likes and dislikes of your client, but I have to admit that I have moved away from the Roman Blind window treatment. My preference now – “less fuss is best”.

Next time we will look at the rest of the wide variety of blinds as window treatments…

Images via:
Sheer Curtains: left  &  right
Bathroom Blinds: here
DIY Roman Blind: here
Curtain Pole: left  &  right
Funky Roman Blinds: here
Sheer Roman Blinds: here