Dream Homes must have a Balcony!

We may not get much use out of it in the inclement British weather. But more than four in ten of us say a Balcony would be the most important feature in our dream home, a poll found. Some 43 per cent would like the extra space outside, making it one of the most sought after architectural additions. It was beaten only by en-suite bathrooms for every bedroom(48 per cent) and walk-in wardrobes (45 per cent). The survey of 2000 property buyers also revealed that Britons appear to be more focused on relaxing rather than showing off at home. Some four in ten of those questioned said they would like their ideal home to have a dedicated Relaxation Room with a third hankering for their own Library. Just 20 per cent would like a Bowling Alley and only 17 per cent want their own Night Club.

The dream of having a rambling house with dozens of bedrooms also appeared out of favour. Perhaps surprisingly, the survey found that a higher proportion of people (14 per cent) wish to live in a country cottage than a mansion (12 per cent). The majority would opt for somewhere with just 3 or 4 bedrooms, with only one in ten aspiring to a home with more than six bedrooms. And even if money were no object, just over half of those questioned by estate agency Tepilo said they would not want to spend over £3million on their dream home.

How Can Rusty Steel Look So Good?

It is very interesting to see the trends which emerge from each year's Chelsea Flower Show and this year it is the turn of – believe it or not – rusty steel! You may have noticed that the latest Kitchens feature Industrial-style steel fixtures and fittings and now 'rusty' steel is the latest feature for Gardens.

Actually, it's much better than it sounds, in fact bespoke Rusty planters and co-ordinating steel bordered steps are a versatile, not too expensive option for today's gardeners and landscapers and the examples shown here, all made in the UK, look very good indeed.

Wall planters

Steel planters and steps

Rusty steel planters


Spiral Staircase or Spiral Cellar?

Spiral Staircase

Many homeowners would like to move house to upgrade or enlarge their living accommodation but as this is can be very costly more and more people are looking to ways of extending or making better use from the space available in and around their house or flat. Yet many of us don't stop to think that the cobwebby old basement could actually be an extra room adding thousands of pounds to the value of the property. If you already have a cellar, then installing a sturdy, wrought iron spiral staircase for easy access can help to free up extra space and become a distinctive part of your interior design.

Cellar conversions are becoming more popular than loft conversions as generally they are nearer to the 'hub' of the home and provide an ideal solution for an extra bedroom, bathroom or play area. It's probably worth considering that, for a little more investment, you could have the latest "must have" home cinema room, wine cellar or even a humidor. Of course, while the females in your home may be delighted with a home cinema room, they might just prefer a mini-gym and jacuzzi to the other two options!

First of all, establish if your home is suitable for a cellar conversion, that is, that you actually have a basement or cellar underneath as creating a new basement under an existing property would be a fairly expensive undertaking. Although some older houses with shallow foundations may need underpinning, there are a great many Victorian and Edwardian properties throughout the UK which have timber-suspended floors and as such are ideal for basement conversions. Search the Internet for specialist companies who can advise you on the feasibility and costs involved and ensure that you are provided with a quotation from more than one reliable source before you proceed.

Spiral Cellar

This probably sounds like a new, trendy invention but in fact it was originally designed by a Frenchman, George Harnois, in 1978 who noticed that few modern houses had wine cellars and - especially in France - people still needed somewhere to properly store their wine. The units he developed sold well in France and have been available in the UK for some time. A spiral cellar is an ideal solution where there is limited space. They are primarily meant for wine as they are temperature controlled but could also be used as a larder or a place to store valuables. If you don't mind a trapdoor in your kitchen floor or quite fancy copying Alan Titchmarsh's amusing TV show routine of 'descending to the cellar' this one's for you.

Constructed using prefabricated concrete bricks, the cellar can be installed in a week and comes with its own waterproof liner.The largest is six feet wide and ten feet deep and provides almost 400 cubic feet of room and 150 feet of shelving.It can be installed in any room where there is a 2.5 metre diameter space to excavate, kitchens are popular choices and you can put them into the floors of garages and outbuildings. If you want to install one inside your house you will need building regulations approval. With a small spiral staircase at its core, the wine is stored in an easy accesshoneycomb of modules lining the walls - probably the perfect choice for the dedicated wine lover. Although you obviously can't take it with you when you move house, it could help to sell your home to the discerning buyer. On the other hand you might want to weigh up the costs involved as the total outlay could equal that for converting a small cellar.


I Want to Ride my Bicycle, I want to ride my bike...

Rumour has it that Freddie Mercury wrote the lyric for'Bicycle Race' while watching a leg of the Tour de France from his Parisian hotel in 1978. In those heady days of excess the thought of simply riding a bike breezing through the fresh air was no doubt appealing - if impractical - especially given the pollution from traffic in Paris at the time! If Freddie had stopped to think about it he would have noted that cars had become the main form of transport and riding a bike had become a whimsical, even eccentric pastime.

Bike Rack

Simple Bike Rack example

Who would have thought that more than 30 years on we are getting back on our bikes but perhaps it is understandable with our very own Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour de France - Go Wiggo! It was brought home to me when my company was recently asked to manufacture longlasting cycle racks to be integrated into the garages of a new private housing development. This is with the assumption that residents will actually use the bikes and therefore the racks and this, probably on three counts:-

Firstly, helping the environment- no need for petrol = less pollution = very low carbon footprint. Secondly, keeping fit with one of the best cardiovascular exercises you can do. Last but not least, real savings in both gym membership and petrol costs. Okay, maybe some people really will enjoy cycling, having to wear one of those 'melon head' helmets is probably outweighed by the sheer "wheeeeh" moments of going down a hill with legs akimbo.

But, is this the tip of the iceberg in that soon our Royal Family might take to the (bike) saddle as the Dutch Royal Family have done for years? Where is it all going to end - are we soon going to see Charles and Camilla on a tandem? Actually, it must be quite difficult to be a modern Royal in this day and age, having to balance attendance one evening at a high end banquet and the next evening in a sleeping bag at a dropout centre. As Heraclitus said "There is nothing permanent except change" and that I can accept, however the current trends seem to be directing us to take a step backwards? I would not be surprised if one of our design gurus suddenly 'discovers' the most eco-friendly oven is to dig hole in the garden and light a fire with hot stones. If we reach that stage, I will definitely exclaim "Wilmaaaaa!"

Driveway Gates
Spiral Stair Case

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