Search results for: string

Great Brownings guest bedroom/study

Updated 4 August 2019

The final room in our house to receive a before/after update, the guest room/study has received a thoroughly neutral makeover.

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I was under express instructions from my partner (who uses this room as his study) not to fill it with “tat” but I have semi-succeeded in sneaking in a few bits and pieces to add a bit of visual interest.

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The white bed frame from Argos fits the space under the window perfectly but the quality is terrible and came in about 500 sharp-edged pieces that needed to be painstakingly assembled over the space of about 4 hours. We wouldn’t recommend buying it.

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On the other hand, whilst it did take an unreasonable amount of time to arrive, the similarly budget-friendly desk from Made.com looks alright and seems to be of reasonable enough quality.

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30 December 2018

The fourth bedroom was decorated so distinctively by the previous owner that the estate agent declined to include a photo of it in the listing (we referred to it until recently as “The Red Room”).

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Now that we’ve stripped off several layers of wallpaper and removed the built-in furniture, it’s currently looking a bit less oppressive.

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We decided that this one would make a good additional guest bedroom (it’s just wide enough to fit in a single bed under the window) and study.

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1. Josiah pendant from SCP sample sale – one of those items that I bought ages ago which I’m determined to use somewhere/anywhere in the house

2. Lloyd cabin single bed frame from Argos – this fit the bill for a number of reasons (no bulkiness at either end, drawers underneath, inoffensive looking, cheap)

3. Yet more String shelving recycled from my current flat

4. Northern Sunday bedside light recycled from my current flat

5. Depot desk from Made – I chose this one because it was under £200 and looked a bit like that Pierre Guarriche desk that I saw in Brussels a couple of weeks ago

6. Fake Eames DSW chair recycled from my current flat

 

Walkerscroft Mead, Dulwich SE23

Updated 5 May 2019

One year after moaning about how those funny looking “courtyard” houses with pointy roofs on Walkerscroft Mead never come up for sale, two were recently listed in quick succession.

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The first one was mysteriously listed by the agent without any photos of the interior and at a suspiciously low price for a three bedroomed detached house in West Dulwich (£650k). Despite the fact that the combination of these factors suggested that the house was an absolute hot mess inside and we’d just bought another house nearby, I was sorely tempted to arrange a viewing just to have a nose around (I’d already invented a story in my head about our circumstances) but it was sold after only a few days on the market.

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The second house looks familiar – I’m sure I’ve seen photos of the overly modernised interior before. While it looks the same as all of the other houses of its type from the outside (thanks to the stringent rules imposed by the Dulwich Estate in relation to external alterations), it appears to have been extended and carved up beyond recognition on the inside – it barely looks like the same house when you compare its floorplan with that of the first house, which retained the original layout. Just to highlight how much of a steal the first house was, the second house was listed at £795k and is still on the market.

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8 July 2018

Walkerscroft Mead, Dulwich SE23
1960s terraced house on the Whytefield Estate
Architect: Austin Vernon and Partners
Year built: 1961-1967

We were impressed by West Dulwich as an area when we went to see Ling’s Coppice so we were keen to see a house that had come up for sale in Walkerscroft Mead, another Austin Vernon and Partners-designed estate nearby.

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Walkerscroft Mead forms part of the wider Whytefield Estate, which also includes Pymers Mead, Perifield, Cokers Lane and Coney Acre and was built between 1961 and 1967. At 7.5 acres, it is one of the largest of the early 1960s Dulwich Estate development sites and contains a number of different property types: mews townhouses and maisonettes, single-storey bungalows and detached “courtyard” houses with unusual pointy roofs.

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The house we viewed was a part of a terrace of mews townhouses and maisonettes which backed onto a central garden court. The house comprised on the ground floor, a garage, utility room, entrance hall and bedroom/study leading out into a small walled garden (which then led out into the rather beautiful communal gardens), and on the first floor, approached by a semi-circular staircase, a large living room across the front of the house, a dining room and kitchen at the back, and on the second floor, three bedrooms and a bathroom.

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It was really quite a spacious townhouse albeit one with a lot of redundant space, a prime example being the entirety of the ground floor which had a practically unusable layout (though we were told that other people knocked through the garage, study and utility room into an enormous kitchen diner, which would be a far better configuration especially given the relatively small kitchen on the first floor). The house also needed a new central heating system (as it featured a dreaded 1960s hot air heating system) and general cosmetic updating throughout.

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I liked the house and thought it compared favourably to similar townhouses we’d seen (that slightly dilapidated one in Southfields with the hole in the ceiling sprang to mind) but I didn’t think it was architecturally interesting enough to invest time and funds into doing the renovations required to make it our home. The lack of really distinct architectural features was emphasised by the other, far more striking housing types on the (beautifully maintained) estate, namely the bungalows and the detached “courtyard” houses with pointy roofs – I’d much rather have been looking around one of those.

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Model of Phase 2 “courtyard” houses (courtesy of whytefield.co.uk)

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Great Brownings kitchen

Updated 25 March 2019

As much as I’ve always liked these Artek zebra print seat pads, I couldn’t justify buying three of them for the stools in the kitchen at £80 each (more than we paid for the stools themselves).

img_4479My cheapskate solution was to construct our own knockoffs using cheap seat pads, fabric from eBay and a local tailor.

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Whilst no one is going to be mistaking my efforts for the real thing, I don’t think the overall effect is too bad? The zebra print pattern is obviously a lot smaller than on the genuine article (which wasn’t apparent from the fabric thumbnail when I bought it online) but the tailor has done a pretty neat job and they did work out as being a fraction of the price. Perhaps most importantly, the stools are reasonably comfortable to sit on now.

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Updated 10 February 2019

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Our finished kitchen is pretty much what we planned save for the colour of the Formica worktop (rather than that mustard colour, we went for an iris blue that we directly copied from those images of that kitchen in the Bromley house – scroll down to see pictures of a near identical kitchen), the cupboard door handles (we decided that the holy wafer ones from Superfront were a bit twee and expensive and so bought some cheap and discreet rectangular plates) and the absence of tiles on the back wall (we decided that tiling plus the upstand would be a bit much but we’re now terrified of anything splashing onto the painted white walls, which makes cooking food on the hob a weirdly tense experience).

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The bar stools are some very worn Artek Stool 64s (the 65cm version), which we found on eBay for £200 for the three. There are plenty more where they came from as the seller seems to have loads which he apparently sourced from Apple stores.

After having been asked a few times, I can confirm that the rectangular box on legs is a bin.

I can also report that having used it now for a few weeks, the Kulinarisk steam oven from Ikea was not worth the additional expense.  It might just be the fact that it’s a relatively low-end model (some friends of ours have a Gaggenau model which cost more than our entire kitchen) but the steam doesn’t seem to make any discernible difference to the food and we hadn’t quite appreciated that the water would need to be drained after each time the oven is used using a little plastic hose which spurts water all over the floor.

On the whole, however, we’re really happy with how the kitchen has turned out looks-wise and from a practical use perspective. If we were to do it all again, I probably would have tried to avoid fitting the wall cabinets to the back wall (I’m still envious of our neighbour’s with its “no wall cabinets” aesthetic – scroll down to see photos) but that’s about it.

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5 November 2018

I thought I’d start by writing about our attempt at designing our new kitchen given that it’s probably going to be the largest and most expensive part of our renovation project.

As I mentioned in my previous blog entry, the Great Brownings houses have a separate kitchen and dining room with a very 1960s-style serving hatch (a rare example of a mid-century design feature that hasn’t ever come back into fashion) connecting the two. Our house features this original setup but it looks like the original kitchen was refitted at some point in the 1980s judging by the country cottage-style cabinets and tiles.

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Based on what we’ve seen online and our neighbours’ houses, most people who have renovated their house on the estate have chosen to knock down the dividing wall to make an open-plan kitchen/diner, with some kind of breakfast bar in the middle. This made perfect sense to us so we decided to follow suit.

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Given our lack of experience of selecting and designing a kitchen (we’ve always lived in places where we’ve had to accept whatever kitchen we’ve been given) and general lack of imagination, we were keen to find another kitchen to copy almost directly.

If we had the funds and creativity, we’d have loved to have gone for something like our neighbour’s bespoke timber kitchen with its mixture of dark wood and reclaimed industrial metal worktops.

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We really liked the fact there were no cabinets across the back wall with all of the storage confined to the floor-to-ceiling tall units along the right-hand wall (the “no wall cabinets” look seems to be a thing these days – they never seem to feature in any kitchens in magazines or Instagram) but given we’d had the boiler fitted on the back wall and couldn’t envisage not having some kind of extractor fan, it didn’t feel like an option open to us.

The layout of this kitchen from a mid-century house in Bromley with wall cabinets across the back wall, plywood cabinets and Formica worktops seemed like more of an achievable/practical goal for us:

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As such, we pretty much copied it in its entirety when sketching out our plan, only adding a breakfast bar section as per our neighbour’s.

Rather than commissioning somewhere like Uncommon Projects to build a whole bespoke plywood kitchen from scratch for us, our original plan was to buy the carcasses and appliances from IKEA and the door fronts, side panels and worktops from a company called Plykea, which specialises in helping people who want to look like they’ve invested in a bespoke plywood kitchen when they haven’t.

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However, we discovered that we couldn’t justify the cost of doing this (it turns out that faking a bespoke plywood kitchen is still a pretty expensive undertaking) so we decided to only order the Formica worktops and side panels from Plykea and bog standard white door fronts from IKEA (possibly livened up with some “Holy Wafer” door handles from Superfront, which cost about the same price as the actual door per unit) with a view to replacing them next year with something a bit more special.

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Having used the IKEA kitchen planning tool (which we found to be very detailed but completely unintuitive, akin to a fiddly version of the house building tool on The Sims) to map out and order the kitchen components, we sent the plan and instructions to Plykea for them to build the worktops and side panels.

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We’ve still not quite decided what colour would look right for the Formica worktops – I was initially dead set on mindlessly recreating the Bromley kitchen (which would have meant having a sky blue worktop) but we figured that might not look quite right if we end up replacing the white door fronts with timber ones next year. In light of this, we’re gravitating towards something in the mustard/taupe region.

For the floors, we’re planning to just lay the same kind of engineered Merbau wood flooring that we’re using throughout the ground floor rooms and for the walls, white paint and some square white tiles for the back wall (mindlessly aping the Bromley kitchen).

Furnishings and lighting for the dining area (including my slightly too low Saarinen marble tulip table) will be recycled from our existing homes.

Entry to be updated once the kitchen starts taking shape!

kitchen mood

1. Formica worktop from Plykea, possibly in this colour or maybe something a bit more muted?

2. Holy wafer cupboard handles from Superfront though having put this mood board together, I think the silver might look a little twee – perhaps the practically invisible white version would look better?

3. Square white tile with dark grouting for the back wall – I’m tired of subway tile having lived with it for five years but I still like a bit of dark grout.

4. Vimmern tap from Ikea – not exactly the best looking tap of all time but I’ve always wanted one with an extendable hose.

5. Poul Hennignsen pendant lamp to hang over the dining table – recycled from my current flat

6. Bertoia wire dining chairsrecycled from my current flat. Having lived with them for about a year, I have conceded that they’re really not that comfortable but I won’t ever get rid of them or repurpose them as garden furniture because of the amount of work I put into them.

7. Engineered Merbau flooring from The Natural Wood Co. The original plan was to have real parquet blocks throughout apart from the kitchen area, where I really wanted cork. This plan was abandoned when we discovered how difficult and expensive it is to lay a parquet floor (about three times the price of the actual parquet blocks) and how nervous builders seemed to be about cork. I’ve come round to the idea of having an uninterrupted expanse of resilient, treated wooden flooring throughout the ground floor of the house.

8. Kulinarisk steam microwave and oven – I have no idea whether the steam oven functionality will actually make our food moist on the inside and crispy on the outside but we were obviously sufficiently convinced by the marketing materials to find out.

9. Saarinen marble tulip tablerecycled from my current flat

10. Alvar Aalto rocket stools – there are currently a load of these on ebay for only £60 each, which given our increasingly bloated budget, is reason enough to go for them.

11. Eldslaga 5-ring hob – these were all over the press last year because they needed to be recalled due to emitting unacceptable amounts of carbon monoxide. I’m hoping the reissued version is a bit safer.

12. String shelvingrecycled from the bedroom in my current flat.

Great Brownings second bedroom

Updated 10 March 2019

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Some evidence of our slightly dodgy DIY paint job on the walls and skirting boards aside, the second double bedroom looks pretty much how we’d planned for it look.

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I finally got to make use of that string shelf/desk unit languishing in the cupboard (which now looks like a shrine to nerdishness) and that CB2 laundry basket that I dragged back with me from New York has pride of place in the corner.

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I’m quite pleased with the Eames DSW chair: we managed to improve it by replacing the cheap plastic shell with a much nicer fibreglass Modernica shell from the SCP sale (I’d recommend looking out for these as our one was a bargain). The only thing that gives away the base of the chair as a fake now are the silver bolts – maybe a black Sharpie will do the trick?

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Modernica fibreglass shell from SCP attached onto a fake DSW base

30 December 2018

This is the other double bedroom. It’s a decent size but previously contained an enormous freestanding wardrobe and chest of drawers which took up most of the space.

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We decided to copy the layout in these photos of the same room in another house on the estate, ripping out the freestanding wardrobe in order to put the bed in its place.

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I was also determined to make use of that full length String wall panel that I bought from a sample sale in 2014 but never had any room for so we’ll be installing a desk unit on the wall next to the window.

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The room is currently in a stripped back, replastered state with the new radiator installed unobtrusively behind the door. It just needs to be painted in (yet more) white paint, carpeted and then we can start moving in the furniture.

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1. String work desk unit

2. Studio bed frame from now defunct bed retailer Warren Evans recycled from my current flat

3. CB2 Parkay laundry basket that I somehow managed to carry back with me from New York

4. Porcini Lamp from Habitat recycled from my partner’s current flat

5. Modernica George Nelson bubble lamp recycled from my current flat

6. Fake Eames DSW chair recycled from my current flat

7. Marimekko patterned bedding recycled from my current flat

8. Fake Eames occasional table (to be used as a bedside table) recycled from my partner’s current flat

9. Textured Kersaint Cobb carpet in Morning Frost

Great Brownings study

Updated 12 February 2019

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As planned, my study in the new house is a ported and condensed version of my old study (a lot of Marie Kondo-inspired getting rid of stuff that didn’t spark joy was necessary) with a new String unit and a Muuto e27 pendant lamp which I picked up in the Twentytwentyone sale. The frosted glass desk looks more early 00s than ever but the view from said desk out onto Great Brownings almost makes up for it.

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10 December 2018

We plan to use this narrow single bedroom next to the master bedroom as a study.

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I plan to pretty much port and condense my existing study into this smaller space, save for some new bits of String shelving and storage that I picked up in the sales.

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It’d also be nice to replace my old desk with something slightly less evocative of the early 00s when we can afford it – I like this Eierman desk, which is quite reasonably priced compared to all other higher-end desks I’ve looked at.

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At this stage of our renovations, the walls and ceilings have been freshly replastered and painted so all we need to do now is to lay the carpet, fit the blinds (we’re going for those vertical blinds throughout – having seen them in our neighbours’ house, we decided to copy them even going as far to use the same company that our neighbours used) and we’ll be done.

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Entry to be updated once it’s finished.

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1. SCP pendant light bought from an SCP warehouse sale and never used (it’s a slightly less neutral shade of pink though)

2. String cabinets and shelves – again I picked up a heavily discounted sliding door unit from an SCP warehouse sale without having anywhere to put it in my current flat so I was determined to put it to use somewhere

3. Utensilo wall unit recycled from my current flat

4. Modernica rolling wire chair from SCP warehouse sale

5. Kartel Componibilli unit recycled from my current flat

6. Vintage desk lamp from a Berlin flea market recycled from my current flat that needs rewiring because it’s most probably a fire hazard in its current state.

The Firs bedroom – updated for 2018

Out of all of the rooms in my flat, I’ve long found the bedroom to be the least satisfactory. Something about the way I’d lined the majority of the furniture against one wall (this being the only feasible configuration) and the huge expanses of bare wall gave it a slightly unfinished feel. My solution was of course to acquire yet more design store tat, including some new String shelving, a wooden picture hanger (from the Artek store in Helsinki), a Stendig calendar and a Northern light lamp and affix it all to the walls. I was a bit concerned that this might take the room from unfinished to uncomfortably cluttered but I think it’s an improvement overall.

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Mid-century shelving systems

Updated November 2017

When it comes to interiors, there’s nothing I like more than a good mid century-inspired wall-mounted shelving system.

I’m a bit obsessed – even though I already have that overbearing Poul Cadovius royal system and various other bits and pieces hanging up in the flat, I’m constantly on the lookout for more and have amassed a useless collection of random String brackets and shelves from sample sales over the years as a result (this will all of course go up in the mid century house that I will probably never live in).

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Not content with clogging up my own flat with this rubbish, I have taken to persuading any friend who asks me for interior decorating/furniture advice that their living room/study/bedroom/kitchen would greatly benefit from installing a wall mounted shelving system somewhere. Happily, there’s loads of choice these days – from Vitsoe to Ikea, there’s an option to suit every budget.

Here are some of my picks:

1. DK3 Royal System (from £160 for a rail to £2,200 for a workstation unit)

While I prefer the original, chunkier version of the Cado royal system, the modern slimline version reissued by dk3 is also pretty gorgeous, if eye-waveringly expensive. It comes in oak and walnut but unfortunately not rosewood.

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2. String shelving system (from £40 for a rail to £330 for a drawer unit)

Ok it’s totally ubiquitous and a bit of a Scandi cliche these days but I still think a bit of string shelving elevates any room. Having put some up in my study, I would say it looks great but it’s a little flimsy – I don’t think I would rely on the wall-mounted version to bear the weight of anything heavier than a few ornaments and paperback books.

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3. Vitsoe 606 system (prices unclear on website so I assume very expensive)

These are a tad officey-looking but I’ve seen them in various high-end homes and they always look great. If I ever decide to downsize to a studio flat in the Barbican, I would totally use a Vitsoe system to divide up the room like this guy has.

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4. La Redoute Taktik system (from £10 for the brackets to £500 for a large cupboard unit)

I have no idea what this system looks like in person but based on the photos on the website, it looks really high end and sophisticated-looking for the price. Something about it, perhaps the finish or the fact that the rails are made of metal rather than wood, gives it more of a modern than mid century appearance, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

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5. Maisons du Monde Sheffield tv and shelving unit (£804)

This isn’t quite like the others as it isn’t modular/configurable and instead all comes in one piece but I do like the rails and the cabinetry going on at the bottom. It’s been styled horribly (very “show-flat-in-a-new-build-development”) in the in situ photo on the website though I’m sure it’d look alright surrounded by the right stuff.

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6. Ikea Svalnas system (from £20 for a shelf to £60 for a cabinet)

I’m actually surprised it has taken Ikea so long to bring out something like this. For the price, I think it looks amazing. I particularly like the range of accessories (desk, sliding cabinet, drawers), which are definitely String-inspired. I’m not entirely sure about the colour and grain of the wood – it’s a little orange-looking in some pictures – but I will reserve judgment until I see it in person.

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7. LaRedoute Watford system (£329 – 599 per piece)

LaRedoute has now brought out a second mid century-style shelving system alongside the TakTik system it brought out last year. The new Watford system is only made up of three constituent parts: a walnut desk with shelves, a narrow shelving unit and two large shelving units with cupboard storage. These parts can be used individually or combined in modular fashion to build a larger wall unit. It’s much less customisable than the TakTik system (which pretty much allowed you to build a system to meet your own specification) and the Ladderax-style rails don’t connect to adjoining rails or other parts of the system. At £329 – £599 per piece, it’s not cheap either. It does, however, look nice and must be much less of a faff to assemble than the TakTik system and most of the other systems in this blog entry.

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8. Made Jory system (£149 – 499)

Made’s new Jory shelving system is blatantly “inspired by” the modern version of the Cado system: everything from the use of oak and walnut, the width of the rails and those metal bits which attach units and shelves to the rails look suspiciously familiar. Everything is a little less refined and blocky than the Cado system though – more Duplo than Lego, if you will. Price-wise, it’s £149 – £499, depending on how much you buy.

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Photos courtesy of brand websites

Modernist makeover of Clapham flat – the results

More than eight months after posting this blog entry about my plan to give the living room in my friend’s flat a makeover, it’s finally done! I’m pleased with the finished result but then I would be: it looks like a slightly more muted and less cluttered version of my own living room. The only thing missing is some kind of wall-mounted retro shelving unit, which I would totally have snuck in if I could have.

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As I mentioned in my original post, the room is a bit of a restrictive L-shape with a very narrow section due to the way that the flat was converted (this is exactly why I prefer modernist purpose built flats to higgledy piggledy period conversions!).

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This made it a bit of a challenge to accommodate a sofa, dining table and tv in a way that made sense. The way it was arranged before didn’t work, with that massive rectangular dining table and four high backed dining chairs squashed into the narrow section of the room, the tv on a stand in the corner and not one but two humongous cuboid-shaped sofas taking up the rest of the space.

To make it feel less crowded and free up more floor space, I decided to position the sofa and tv facing each other at each end of the room and a drop-leaf circular table in between them, to be pulled out and extended as needed.

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Of the options available, I chose the Suki table from Habitat with the laminate top (it comes in black or white) as it vaguely reminded me of those Aalto 90 Series tables, which I would totally buy for my own living room if it weren’t for the fact they are only made in pale birch which would clash horribly with the rest of my furniture. As for the dining chairs, we probably could have been a bit more adventurous but we ended up going for a set of cheap and cheerful Eames DSW knock-offs.

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The sofa was a bit of a headache. We originally chose a grey version of the Mistral sofa from Heals (the same one as mine – as I said, this definitely was a case of recreating my own living room somewhere else due to my limited interior design ideas) but this wouldn’t fit up the incredibly narrow staircase leading to the flat (another reason that I prefer logically proportioned practical purpose built modernist purpose built flats to period conversions!) and neither did the hardly enormous Kotka from Made.com. We didn’t want to go for anything modular so we ended up getting the rather petite Peggy two-seater from West Elm, which the delivery men were only just about able to squeeze up those dratted stairs. Despite its size, it’s pretty comfortable especially when paired with the Strandmon footstool from Ikea though I concede it’s not quite as comfortable as the humongous blue cuboid that it replaced. The armchair is the ubiquitous but well-designed (and cheap) Ekenaset from Ikea.

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The rest of the furniture and accessories are mostly high street and internet finds: the Dansette-style record player is from Aldi of all places (credit to retrotogo.com for drawing my attention to it) and the Eames LTR side table and Poulsen Panthella lamp are pretty good knock offs from replica online stores that have now shut down due to the annoying but sort of understandable change in legislation.

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Is there anything else I would change? Probably those floating shelves in the corner – I would have replaced them with some string-style shelving but they’re actually sealed onto the wall on one side which would have created a bit of a mess of we’d tried to remove it. The walls could also do with being repainted to get rid of that slightly pinkish hue and I would ideally reposition the pendant lamp so that it hangs in the centre of the room rather than over where the old dining table used to be. These small niggles aside, I think that the newly configured room both looks and functions better than it did before and I’m grateful to my friend for indulging my amateur interior design project, which I’ve really enjoyed working on. I have my sights on the bedroom and hallway of the flat next…

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  1. Belid Felix Rise and Fall Ceiling Light, John Lewis
  2. Louis Poulsen Panthella lamp, replica bought from now defunct Voga.com but original available from Skandium
  3. Cushions, H&M Home
  4. Vince walnut sideboard, Habitat
  5. Suki round drop-leaf table, Habitat
  6. Eames DSW dining chairs, replicas bought from now defunct Vitainteriors.com but original available from Skandium
  7. Flashback coffee table, La Redoute
  8. Yves black tripod lamp, Habitat
  9. Peggy sofa, West Elm at John Lewis
  10. Strandmon footstool, IKEA
  11. Eames LTR side table, replica bought from now defunct Vitainteriors.com but original available from Skandium
  12. Ekenaset armchair, IKEA
  13. Kelim rug, Ferm Living

LaRedoute

I’m not sure when LaRedoute branched out into selling furniture and home items – I’ve always associated it with downmarket catalogue shopping and cheap clothes – but the new “AM.PM” range on their website contains some really nice mid century-style pieces that are well worth a look.

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Highlights include a nest of walnut coffee tables, a wooden framed armchair with a woven seat, a 1950s-looking planter on wooden legs, some attractive textiles and LaRedoute’s very own take on a modular String/Cado shelving system, which I’ve never seen a low/mid-range retailer attempt before (it’s surprisingly classy looking).

  1. Florian planter
  2. Nova flat-woven iilim style wool rug
  3. E.gallina junius desk
  4. Solon armchair
  5. Taktik system
  6. Flashback hevea nest of coffee tables
  7. Gemma marble clock
  8. Réglisse Scandinavian sideboard
  9. Set of Ivy chairs

The catch is that it’s not cheap (back in the day, you could honestly buy an entire outfit from LaRedoute for about £10) and for every great piece, there’s something comically hideous. Who in their right mind would want to decorate their walls with these giant insect decorations?

I ended up buying the (now seemingly discontinued) Doryle runner to replace the Hay paper carpet in my hall, which had become a bit grubby and despite my best efforts, refused to lie flat. Not bad for £35.

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Modernist Pilgrimage to Singapore 

I didn’t have particularly high hopes for Singapore from an architecture and design perspective so I was pleasantly surprised by a couple of interesting places that I visited during my short time there. It turns out that there is more to Singapore than gleaming office blocks and shopping malls (though there were a lot of those as well).

St Mary Church of the Angels

Worth visiting for: the stunning prayer hall

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This beautiful modernist church was definitely worth the long trek out into the wooded slopes of Butik Batok.  I found the church’s design to be dramatic yet entirely fit for purpose: the main prayer hall, with its uniform stepped rows of beechwood pews and tripod-like lamps, was a surprisingly intimate space and the light-filled underground columbarium (a room with recesses in the wall in which funeral urns were kept) was stunning yet tranquil in spite of the slightly mawkish Enya-esque music that they insisted playing in the background.

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Singapore Design Centre

Worth visiting for: the odd mash-up of architectural styles, the shop

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I couldn’t quite work out what was going on with the architecture of this place – the front part of the building appeared to be 1930s-era Art Deco, the back was much older (according to my guidebook, the site was an 1800s former convent) and the interiors were all brand new – but it came together into an impressive whole. The purpose of the building was equally confusing: part art gallery, part Design Council HQ, part creative office block and part retail space. The retail space housed some kind of hip eaterie and Kapok, a very good design and clothing store.

Bras Basah

Worth visiting for: the cat in Cat Socrates

I’m not sure why Timeout listed this shopping centre as one of its “must-see” places to visit in Singapore. The building was an unattractive concrete warren of shops; sort of brutalist looking but in a bad way (nondescript and dingy, with a strong resemblance to a multi-storey carpark). The shops all appeared to be art suppliers – great for artists and art students but of limited interest to everyone else – and various tat merchants. There was one store which made the trip worthwhile, however: Cat Socrates, a quirky design and gift store with a friendly ginger resident cat.

Foundry

Worth visiting for: Scandinavian design items

I don’t know anything about this building but it was architecturally up my street (sixties looking, futuristic) and it housed a nice furniture and accessories store which stocked a variety of European designs and brands, some of which I recognised (Hay, String) and others I didn’t.

Pact

Worth visiting for: a haircut, a meal and a t-shirt

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I only received an email today letting me know that this brand is going “online only”, which is a shame because the instore shopping experience was so pleasant. This menswear store/hairdresser/restaurant/bar formed a cluster of slightly left-field independent stores in an otherwise bland Singaporean glass and steel shopping centre on Orchard Road.

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