March 2014 – Chalet Style

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Well March has been an amazing month both from the perspective of the arrival of Spring, the arrival of some new exciting projects and embracing a skiing holiday! 🙂

I have started 2 new projects – one new build of 13 flats – first priority will be a show flat and the finish options for the further 12 flats following. The other project is in Islington for micro apartments – 70+units.

The micro apartments are an interesting and exciting design challenge to make sure that they meet the practical needs of the business people who are going to be using them as well as being aesthetically pleasing. They are a great concept for people who want to rent somewhere to stay in London during the working week and then head back home at the weekend. I will keep you posted on how these progress – the show ‘apartment’ should be available in the next 2 months.

Skiing – we are here in Meribel! The weather has been amazing – beautiful sunshine every day so far and we have been loving skiing the three valleys – there is such a huge amount of skiing to be done here – 600km in total – it is just incredible. The kids are having a ball and already skiing pretty fast! 🙂

Cosy chalets and bars perched on the edge of the mountain with table top après ski dancing are quite inspirational …. on a number of different levels … clothes were optional J. I can imagine that wonderful warm log fires (not actually required due to fabulous weather at the moment) make these places especially inviting. The interiors of the chalets have inspired me to think again about how to create a really cosy space – I have attached some inspirational images – lots of texture .. fur, wool and natural resources – mainly wood. This makes them all really warm, inviting and comfortable. The light here is also really amazing – the bright white light that reflects off the snow and sharpens everything and then the light at dusk with some lovely warm yellow light that softens everything. Given the UK can be dull, grey and rainy – we could learn a lot from the use of soft, yellow light and texture to create a similar feel (at least when the curtains are shut!).

I have attached two pictures that I particularly wanted to draw your attention to. Firstly, the picture that shows the lovely warm yellow light against a back drop of wood – which emphasises my point about soft lighting. The texture of the wood is reinforced by the pattern that the wood has been arranged in down the two horizontal walls – the yellow light gives the warm texture of the wood a lovely glow. There is nothing more appealing (and romantic actually) than this combination of wood and yellow candle light. I am sure we would all look gorgeous and younger in this soft light – or maybe I just speak for myself! The use of some wonderful tiered ceiling lighting with lights that look like candles are perfect in this environment and are illustrated in a picture attached. Look at Kevin Reilly lights for something similar.

The other picture is the picture of the chalet with rustic wood walls with the very symmetrically arranged furniture. The juxtaposition of the natural, textured wood with the very formal arrangement of furniture (softened with fur throws) makes for an interesting space, but it is also reinforced by the careful arrangement of the wood in horizontal and diagonal lines which means that the space has an overall coherent feel to it. The lamps at the end of the room that frame the fireplace draw your eye to that key focal point. Whilst this space is relaxing and easy on the eye – in my view it could be made more dynamic and inspiring by a colourful, perhaps slightly surprising picture over the fireplace.

The pictures of the bedrooms make me feel I would probably not want to get up in the morning – having said that the view out of some of the windows may give me some incentive …. but certainly a coffee in bed enjoying the view would have to be a pre-requisite to getting up!

So …. I am leaving Meribel feeling revitalized from the amazing mountain air, refreshed by lots of active skiing, inspired by beautiful interiors, and hopeful that maybe I could aspire to owning a chalet that combines some of the aesthetics from these images at some point in my life time. It would be a wonderful feeling to come here, collapse with special friends in front of the fire with a glass of red wine and work hard on the slopes in the day – what more could you ask for?


Love Sara xx




February 2014 Blog

Grenville-038 Photographs by Adam Butler Photographs by Adam Butler Photographs by Adam Butler Photographs by Adam Butler Photographs by Adam Butler Photographs by Adam ButlerBlog February 28th February 2014

Well… the last couple of weeks have been a bit less productive compared to my first flurry of activity in January .. flush of the new year and all that …☺ Various family illnesses and my son at home with chicken pox has meant that things have been a bit slower! At least the priorities I outlined at the beginning of the year are being stuck to … Anyway, I thought I would give a bit more of an interior design / work focus to this blog. I wanted to share some photos of a project that I managed to get photographed over the last couple of weeks and inform you a bit about the design decisions that were taken to achieve it.

This was a flat in South Kensington, which had little done to it since the 1970s – it needed complete refurbishment. The focus for the redesign was to create a comfortable, homely, sophisticated, living space that had the feeling of one room – so the design needed to link throughout. Doorways were repositioned (double doors into the bedroom most notably) and the cornicing was replaced.

A key priority was storage. Designing and building a built in unit in the lounge, which also incorporated a wine fridge was one solution. The wall of bedroom cupboards were designed so that they do not impose on the space. These two key storage solutions have provided ample, practical storage for the owner.

The Kitchen – the key changes for this compact space were: the repositioning of the doorway (centralised), providing as much worktop area as possible whilst not compromising the cupboard space. To ensure the kitchen linked to the rest of the design of the flat a glass splash back in the paint colour used below the dado rail in the lounge was used and the same gorgeous polished marble floor that was utilised in the bathroom.

The Bathroom – the most important thing to pay attention to in this bathroom was the light. It is an internal bathroom and therefore, making a space where you didn’t actually notice there was no natural light was critical. This was achieved using glass tiles, mosaics and polished marble floor with clever positioning of LED lights. The light circuits mean that this bathroom can have a relaxing low key mood or bright and functional. The rainmaker shower meant an overhaul of the heating and water system and a new pump was purchased to ensure maximum output.

The lounge – the original mantelpiece was kept in place but a new gas log fire was fitted – this provides not just a lovely effect but also fabulous heat. The ceiling lights in the hall and lounge were sourced from Italy. They are wonderful features and really offset the high ceiling and impactful coving. In addition to the decorative lamps that you can see in the photographs, there are uplighters in the floor by the windows that create a lovely feature of the fabulous windows in the evening. The vertical blinds designed for the lounge windows mirror the one in the bedroom and along with the statement headboard in the bedroom ensure that the soft furnishings are linked throughout.

Enough said .. This was a great project and lots of fun. I was really proud to deliver a project that met the needs of the owner whilst partnering well with the builder and his team to ensure all practical considerations were taken into account and minimized complicated planning approvals by the local authority.

Finishing on a lighter and more personal note – I mentioned the chicken pox – my son is nearly 6 – here’s an insight into the activities we indulged in to keep him occupied during the week off from school (once he felt better of course!) – just in case they prove useful ☺

• Writing thank you cards for Christmas presents .. (I know I know … embarrassingly late .. in my defence some of the presents he did not receive until January .. maybe not a great excuse ☹
• Ping Pong – played across the kitchen table – with or without a net placed across the middle – if, like me, you do not have space for an actual table tennis table – this is a not bad alternative – his hand eye coordination has dramatically improved … ☺
• We made a King’s costume & crown for fairytale day at school (normally this would have been purchased and probably on reflection would have been cheaper … but then it wouldn’t have been a project would it?) Particularly proud of the crown … ☺
• Stickers, Drawing and Colouring. I bought an educational sticker book … all about countries in the world … I thought (very smugly) this would be a very clever thing to buy .. it provoked 100 million questions … Just to give you a flavour .. “Why is Russia called Russia? Is it because everyone is rushing there? “ “Are the Angel Falls higher than the Victoria Falls?” (had to google that one) “Why are the Masai Warriors wearing skirts?” Slightly more demanding than I had envisaged but certainly provoked curiosity ☺
• Cooking –we made banana cake, chocolate brownies and trail bars ….. delicious (not supportive of the January/February diet) ☹
• Reading – Mr Stink, Dinosaur Cove, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the introduction of Asterix ☺
• Lego .. although if you are anything like my son – you have to invest quite a lot of money in a fairly biggish thing in order for it to take more than ½ hour to build – and that ain’t cheap! ☹
• AND TV / DVDs …. He is now quoting Scooby Doo .. and Star Wars ☹ For example: “There’s a party in my stomach and everyone is invited” …. (I wish he listened to me so attentively!) ☹
• Playing schools with cuddly toys .. apparently their reading and writing ‘has come on a lot’ ☺

Most of all – it was fun – we had lots of laughter, dancing, singing and hugs …. ☺

Sara xx


New Year – 2014

Well .. it is with some trepidation that I embark upon my first blog ever and somehow it seems fitting that after much deliberation over recent months that I would choose January to go for it.  My delay in making this happen has been mainly due to the fact that I wanted it to be as perfect as it could be – well thought through, with a clear focus and structure and a very clearly defined purpose .. So here it goes …

I couldn’t start this blog given we are in January without mentioning we are in a new year. New year for many symbolises a new start and making some resolutions for the coming year.   Resolution for me indicates a firm determination to do something different, or to be different, and therefore, I am not sure whether this describes holistically enough how I want to be thinking about my goals, strategies, or the spirit within which I want to live this year.  The one thing we know about life is that nothing stands still and circumstances emerge and change – often out of our control – so giving ourselves the permission to shift and change with them and not feel we have failed at the first hurdle enables us to be a bit more gentle on ourselves and, maybe, ultimately, a little happier.   So, I want to think carefully about what success looks like and what is realistic.   Notoriously, I set targets that are so stretching they are pretty much impossible to achieve rather than giving cause or opportunities for celebration.  I think that we all set about to develop and improve ourselves and, sometimes, it is the small things that we achieve that make the biggest difference and we do not even bother to write those down as ‘resolutions’ or goals or whatever terminology we use to describe things we want to achieve or focus on.

So .. what on earth has that got to do with my goals and priorities for this year ??? Well .. a lot, actually, (for those of you that know me I use the word ‘actually’ … alot ..), one of my goals is to be alive to changes in circumstances and be courageous enough to acknowledge when something isn’t working and move on.  Two – that being perfect isn’t always what I need to be but prioritizing the things that are important to me is, which, might mean that some things slip up and that’s ok.

Some of the things that are important to me are (probably not much different than your own list):

My family (and extended family)

My relationships with friends and those close to me

The wider community of people that I connect with

Developing my business

Being more thoughtful and mindful

So far, I have achieved one of the first goals that I set out to achieve this year –a very specific business goal – and, therefore, also easy to measure – a very rewarding and easy to tick off the list sort of goal.  That was –’To finish my home to a standard that I would be happy enough with to publish photographs of within the first 2 weeks of January’.  (see pictures below).  It isn’t perfect in every way because I know that as I develop and grow so will my home. I know I will find things along the way to build on what I have created today – it is not complete yet.  Interior design is an endlessly evolving state.  What we can achieve at that moment in time is right for now and for where we are in our lives, the expression of our style at that moment and, sometimes, practically the budget we have and the energy we have to put into it.  We know that it will shift and change – sometimes with trends, style changes and new products, and, most definitely, because we develop and change our perspectives and our practical life style needs change.

Creating interiors that meet the practical needs of each individual as well as expressing each individual’s style and taste is what matters.  We need to feel comfortable in our environment and that we are proud of it.  After all, our home is probably the most expensive statement we will ever make (for most of us!) about – who we are, how we live and what we feel is important to us, so we need to get it right.

The other goal that I am now starting to ponder on is ‘The stop and pause for thought goal … more often’.  What a luxury that sounds like … for those of us who have children, families, work and other relationships in our lives, stopping and pausing for thought is something that seems unattainable.  I am thoughtful about who I want to be in conversation with this year that will help me in my deliberations about motherhood, my work, my relationships, and how I prioritise the endless stream of goals that I would love to achieve but probably won’t!  This might mean deeper, more thoughtful and maybe more difficult conversations and surely more rewarding.

Also, I am now realising that I have achieved my second business type goal – ‘To publish my first blog in January that gives people some insight as to who I am and what I do’.  This now seems to be a stream of consciousness rather than a ‘perfectly’ written first blog which is what I had hoped it would be.  On reflection, it seems fitting that my first blog begins in the spirit of how I intend to live this year – more discussion, less editing, more imperfection, more mindfulness and more embracing of complexity and change.  I think I am going to have to learn to be more resilient!

Oh .. and finally, I am recognising that this starts to dip my toe in the water of another objective – of being more mindful or thoughtful about my achievements and priorities – I thought about this blog a lot but the actual act of putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard to write it took about 20 minutes … to start the year with this spirit means that it is sure to be full of challenge, new beginnings, kindness to myself and to others and surely some excitement. 🙂

Sara x

I have included below a few pictures of my first delivered objective – my home – I hope you like them and get to know me a little through them.

Photographs by Adam Butler Photographs by Adam Butler Photographs by Adam Butler Photographs by Adam Butler Photographs by Adam Butler Muswell Hill_53 Photographs by Adam Butler Photographs by Adam Butler