Monday, 28 December 2015

Drinking Fountains

 Public drinking fountains first made an appearance in London on the 21 April 1859. While London was becoming more populated, the standard of quality domestic water supply was failing to keep pace.  So much so that beer was  an alternative to water. Renowned philanthropist Sam Gurney MP gifted the public drinking fountain which is attached to the railings outside St Sepulchre-without-Newgate Church on Holborn  Hill. With Edward Hill he set up the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association, later renamed as the Drinking Fountains Association. So popular was the fountain that it was believed nearly 7000 people a day would use it.

Closer to home is this public fountain erected on Hoylake Parade. It was designed by McFarlane and Co Glasgow to

commemorate the jubilee year of Queen Victoria and was erected in 1901. The dedication reads "For the children of Hoylake and Meols".

A simple fountain built on the top of Bidston Hill on Wirral may well be one of the highest fountains found in the UK.  The pumping station is located at the foot of the hill though I would imagine a significant amount of engineering was still required to pump water. Interestingly the manufacturers,  Glenfield Kennedy Kilmarnock, has as their founder Thomas Kennedy who invented the world's first water meter. While there appears to be no date on the fountain, it is assumed is was installed not long after 1899.

157 years later and our need for public drinking water is gaining renewed interest.  The sales of bottled water have never been higher, and the environmental pollution  regarding waste of plastic bottles and transportation is a concern. Many charities try to address the requirement for safe drinking water in poorer countries.  Few have succeeded in implementing public outdoor fountains in the UK.

The Architects Journal developed a competition called Kiosk back in 2014 where 6 renowned architects practices were tasked to design an outdoor fountain which could be built in London. Kiosk is theTurkish term for a meeting space which includes water, and the competition was in conjunction withTurkish Ceramics as part of the Bologna Water Festival. While some of the entries were incredibly elaborate,  the idea of recycling water bottles was captured perfectly in their headline Kicking the Bottle. Their vision for fresh free outdoor drinking water  has been listed as one of the 13 most key projects visualised for London.

Fresh outdoor accessible drinking water available to all,  including pets, sounds like a plan many people might enjoy. Imagine refilling a bottle instead of throwing one away.
And help is available.

Find a Fountain will help you locate a fountain, and their site has an indication as to which are working, and ask you to submit or correct information on their website.
The Drinking Fountains Association,the original charity set up in1859, will assist with grant applications to restore or develop free drinking water schemes in this country and abroad.  Public drinking fountains come under the council public realm. While London has tried to lead a national initiative , it is failing to implement any schemes yet.

We love the designs AJKiosk  generated. Who knows what trickle effect it will have in future projects around the country.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

2016 Trends

While the following thoughts are by no means set in stone as to what trends in interior design lie ahead, they are based on patterns we see emerging.

Certainly over the years architects and designers have approached design with "wellness" in mind. Much of this is to offer spaces which allow individuals to live and function in a positive environment.  In fact you only have to search wellness to see how relevant it is in many
sectors from food to town planning.

From here we see the family bathroom receiving the greatest makeover. No longer just a space to bathe or shower,  it has become the starter for creating that multi generation space. From wetrooms to steam rooms , showers are still evolving. Technology includes mirrors doubling as flat screen TV s,  electronic sensor taps, thermostatically controlled showers, led shower heads, sound systems recessed into ceiling, and air injected taps to reduce water use.
Ordinary tiles and grout on walls have been making way for ceiling height water proof panels. White raised shower trays being replaced by wetroom floors.
One crucial area too has been in the importance of good branding. By that I don't mean having Downton Abbey initials on some type of unknown porcelain, but the clear branding of suppliers like Villeroy and Boch, Hansgrohe, Laufen... It does seem that people once fooled by cheap quality are now looking for the tried and trusted.

While there will always be a favourite accent colour in furnishings, the bulk of showhomes still play safe with a neutral pallette.  Magnolia has long gone, with white being around some time. What we might see is layering of whites. By this I mean a few shades of white close to each other that work to highlight different surfaces. This is something that many people who use Farrow and Ball paint will be used to doing, but tricky to get right.
As an alternative to white, grey is becoming more popular.

Surprisingly feature wallpaper is still hanging in there. Big bold, brash, and often shiny - 3 rolls is generally all needed. Thankfully there are alternatives in the form of  faux brick, and both engineered, and recycled woods which bring more texture and life to a room.

The industrial  look is perfect for apartments and older properties. Shiny chrome taps have been replaced by antique brass or nickel to compliment a more relaxed kitchen space. It is surprising how many cookery shows have a background of exposed brick in the kitchen areas.

A few years ago it might not have been out of place to install a bright red signature kitchen. Now the look is more refined, greys and creams as popular as white.
Much more attention is given to the work surface.  In fact many granite suppliers will say how much in demand that product is now. Overall the use of natural materials like granite and porcelain have  been on the increase in the last few years, and this doesn't appear to be slowing down.
Porcelain on the floor is perfect for heavy traffic areas.

What I have written about elsewhere in this blog has been bio flame fires. While I see no emerging trend as such, they have been spotted in prestigious London apartments recently. They really do look stunning, so that will be my one off the wall prediction for 2016..

For advice on delivery of any of the products mentioned, contact me 

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Thursday, 29 October 2015

The Guest Bedroom

As I write this I am reminded it is only 56 days until Christmas. Certainly many people may have started their planning for the event. The Christmas cake may be soaking in sherry, the pudding made, you may even have ordered your turkey- or bought present. Certainly I have read in the press in the last few days of people who have already decorated the outsides of their homes!

So before major panic sets in, have you looked at your guest bedroom? Perhaps you are lucky, or unlucky, to have guests staying for a few days over the Christmas period. Is the room looking its best?

Quite often the guest bedroom door is only opened when there are visitors.

A fresh duvet cover and sheets are always pleasant. The smell of newly laundered bedding really does help people to sleep more comfortably in what is not their own bed.
An inexpensive throw and a few cushions  add that little bit of luxury.

Have a look at the bedside lamps. They often carry a lot of dust, and it is easy enough usually to replace shades if they are showing signs of fading.

If there are young children staying in the room is it worth considering adding some loose blackout linings to the existing curtains?

Maybe the ensuite tiling, or your own main bathroom tiling, is looking a little grubby.
There is no reason to painstainkingly regrout when you can cover the tiles with inexpensive sheets which mimic the effect of tiles and grout. These sheets can be fixed directly over existing tiles and are completely watertight.

Some of the homes around here have little sinks still fitted in bedrooms. Why not try changing the dull chrome taps for something like these from Samuel Heath. They really do add that little touch of luxury and look so much nicer.

If there is no denying that the room does need redecorating, then think about using a great eco alternative paint from Reborn. They have a great selection of colours, and you will be preventing paint ending up in landfill. The coverage is excellent. Do check out their website and support this great initiative.

It is always thoughtful to have a small bottle of water and a glass by the bedside. Many visitors feel uncomfortable about moving around someone else's home in the middle of the night searching for a glass of water. A clean towel in the room and you are done.

Once your visitors are relaxed, you can relax too.