Where to go in London for unique furniture finds?

London unique furniture

When embarking on a new extension, loft conversion, basement build or all three, you want to be able to fill your house with unique furnishings. London is full of independent shops, where you can find inexpensive treasures as well as budget-busting statement pieces. Below, we’ve listed our favourite places to find unique furniture in London.

Aladdin’s Cave, St Johns, South East London

Aladdin’s Cave is a warren of a shop, located on Loampit Hill in the South East London area of St Johns, close to Lewisham. Aladdin’s Cave is full to the rafters with preloved furniture, building materials and household items – with many of their wares spilling out onto the pavement area out front too. Only a stone’s throw away from Brockley Market, this curiosity shop is the place to go if you are renovating a Victorian property and want to keep a house’s character, or put it back in after previous owners have stripped it out. You can find a vast choice of wing-backed chairs, antique fireplaces, Victorian radiators and even a gymnast’s vaulting horse.

Do Shop, Covent Gardens

The Do Shop on Shorts Gardens, in the heart of London’s West End, is a design lover’s dream. The shop sells a mix of contemporary unique homewares from up and coming designers. The owners of this one-of-a-kind store support young designers with the ‘Do Masters’ programme, which handpicks design school graduates and sells their wares through its stores – making sure the graduates also get a fair cut.

Decoratum. Regent’s Park

If you love mid-twentieth century design then Decoratum is the place to go. This furniture shop is one of Europe’s largest commercial galleries and features furniture and lighting from, the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. They also stock a small amount of contemporary design furniture from some of today’s most talented designers. Decoratum is often described as a museum and, while their display is impeccable, the main difference is that everything is for sale and the layout changes from one month to the next.

Crystal Palace Antique and Modern

Billing itself as London’s leading Antique and modern design warehouse, Crystal Palace Antique and Modern is housed in a former textile warehouse and spread over four huge floors. With twenty dealers, you can find authentic antique homewares as well as design classics, ranging from art deco to mid-century modern.

Buy and sell apps

We are in the era of online shopping and we all know some of the best bargains out there are on the web. If you are on a budget or looking for items to upcycle, then buy and sell apps are a great place to look. You are mostly dealing with individuals selling their personal possessions, so you can find some real bargains. Some of the best out there are local Facebook buy and sell groups, Preloved, Gumtree and Shpock. It is also worth keeping an eye on your local Freecycle.

Want to expand your London home with an extension? Contact Simply Extend today for your free site survey.

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5 ways to save money on a new kitchen

save money on a new kitchen

Undertaking a kitchen extension is never an inexpensive prospect; while you may have spent months planning, and maybe even years dreaming of the perfect kitchen – sometimes it is necessary to tighten the budget; however, that does not mean you have to compromise too much on the dream. We take a look at the best things to save money on, and where to splash the cash, when planning your new kitchen.

Planning

A kitchen is an investment, so do not skimp on the planning. Get a professional kitchen designer to help you work out the right working triangle (sink, cooker, and fridge). Also, when you are thinking about this, take into account existing power and water supplies; moving them can be costly and time-consuming.

Kitchen units

The carcass, or skeleton, of the kitchen are really all the same. Don’t forget, kitchen units are just cupboards with nice doors on. No one sees the carcass of the kitchen, so you can save money by having an MFC or MDF one rather than solid wood. You can have the doors made of solid wood if you wish. It’s worth noting that solid wood is more likely to warp and distort over time than MDF will and MDF is also easier to clean.

Where to buy your kitchen from

One of the cheapest places to buy a kitchen is to go to a builder’s merchant; their quality and value for money tends to be good. Most won’t have fitters, but they are likely to know and be able to recommend reputable tradesmen for you.

The chain DIY stores can also be good value, but the cost of fitting tends to be high. Usually, local independent companies can offer better value for money as their overheads are lower. Another option is having a kitchen designed by a qualified kitchen designer and then going to a joiner to make it – surprisingly this can be cheaper than many kitchen showrooms and you get a more bespoke product. However, this can take longer than an ‘off the shelf’ kitchen

Appliances

When it comes to buying your appliances, it is normally cheaper to get them yourself than to get them from your kitchen company. The best thing to do is shop around, look out for deals and utilise online resources such as Google shopping or auction sites. Built-in appliances are more expensive than freestanding appliances. Make sure that you have the measurements handy before committing to a purchase to ensure your new appliances will fit into the space provided.

It’s all about the detail

If you have opted for a cheaper kitchen, you can give it a luxury aesthetic by investing in top quality handles for the cupboards and draws. Opting for a high-quality floor can also improve the look overall and it may also add value, depending on the materials you use.

When it comes to worktops, you can save money by mixing materials. For example, if you want a solid granite worktop then you could choose just to use it on the island or breakfast bar (if you are having one) – and then opt for a less expensive material on the other parts of the kitchen which won’t get as much use.

An extension from Simply Extend does not mean you will just get an empty shell that you will be left to fill on your own. We can help you source and fit your dream kitchen. Contact us today for a free site survey.

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2017 London house extension inspiration

The trend for ‘improve not move’ looks set to carry on into 2017. With the cost of moving and house prices continuing to rise, it makes sense for London families to expand their current properties rather than move to a new one. If you’re thinking of getting an extension on your house take a look at our videos for some extension inspiration.

Highbury, North London – Rear Kitchen Extension

This Victorian home in Highbury, North London, underwent an extensive renovation; it included a rear kitchen extension and a loft conversion, with the latter constructed by our sister company, Simply Loft. The owners of this extension have created a beautiful kitchen diner with exposed brick and bi-folding doors, which bring the outside in. The design also features a strategic light well over the sink and the kitchen uses sleek lines and a contrasting colour palette to maximise space.

Balham, South West London, Side Return Extension

Bright and airy, this side return extension, in the South West London enclave of Balham, is a great example of what can be done in a normal period terrace. Light was important to this family, and the combination of bi-folding doors, floor to ceiling windows and skylights above the dining table ensures plenty of natural light flows into this family orientated room. The traditional kitchen and large warm-coloured wooden table give this modern extension a homely feel.

Queens Park – Rear Extension and Refurbishment

This pretty rear extension on a ground floor garden flat in Queens Park near Kilburn in North West London, just goes to prove that you don’t need to own a house to extend your home. This project saw a complete renovation of the flat that included a reconfiguration of the bedrooms, bathroom and living room. A light well and wall-to-wall bi-folding doors let in plenty of light into what was once a dark space. The reconfiguration has enhanced the property’s period features and gives the family a workable space to live, work and play.

East Sheen London – Rear Kitchen Extension

A modern extension can transform a home no matter when it was built. This early 20th-century family home opted for a rear pitched roof kitchen extension, which gives the room a lofty feel. Skylights are fitted into the slope of the roof and let in plenty of natural light, as does the triangular window above the door. This family have also opted for bi-folding doors which connects with the garden, offering indoor-outdoor living all year round. The stylish kitchen is sociable and has been designed with entertaining in mind.

If you want to improve your London home in 2017, then contact us today for a free site survey.

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Five flooring options for your extension

flooring options for your extension

If you are having an extension built, then what you plan on using the extra space for will influence the kind of flooring you choose. Whether you are building a kitchen, dining room, living room or all three in one open plan setting, here are some flooring ideas to get you inspired.

Underfloor heating

Underfloor heating is becoming more popular in the UK. Not only does it make your feet feel all warm and toasty, but it’s an efficient way to heat your home. Underfloor heating is also highly versatile and can lie underneath a number of different types of flooring such as stone, ceramic, terracotta, timber, some laminates and even carpet.

Wood and laminate flooring

Wooden flooring or laminate is one the most versatile flooring materials there is. It brings a warm and natural feel to any setting. There are four different types of timber flooring; solid wood, reclaimed timber, multi-layered or engineered wood and laminate flooring. Solid wood and reclaimed timber is the hardest wearing and can be sanded down every five to seven years. Good quality, multi-layered or engineered wood should be able to withstand a sanding or two if it gets damaged, but if laminate flooring is scratched, chipped or damaged in any way, it will have to be replaced. If choosing laminate flooring, then pick out high-quality boards that are scratch resistant.

Tiles

Tiles are ideal for kitchen extensions and for anyone wishing to use their extra space to create an indoor/outdoor area. Tiles come in many forms such as natural stone, terracotta and ceramic. They are practical and hard wearing but they are also beautiful and can be full of texture. If you are creating one large open plan living space, then using tiles can be a great way to define space.

flooring options for your extension

Polished Concrete

When you think of concrete, flooring probably does not pop to mind. However, for those who want to add a contemporary edge to their extension design and something that is hard wearing, polished concrete flooring can be a great option. Coming in many colours and textures, concrete flooring can be used with underfloor heating. Other benefits include: that it improves with age, will not harbour dust mites and produces a neutral backdrop for interior design.

Carpet

Several newspapers and magazines have declared that carpets are back! Even property queen, Sarah Beany, is recommending house sellers to carpet their homes. One of the reasons leading to this trend is the rising cost of fuel – carpets are of course warmer under foot. If you do choose a carpet for your extension, make sure it’s hard wearing and there is a suitable door mat at the entrance.

If you would like to create more space for you and your family with an extension then contact Simply Extend for a Free Site Survey!

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Utility room ideas: What you need to know

utility room ideas

Utility rooms are fast becoming seen as an essential part of modern living. These practical and serviceable spaces offer a place to hide some of the more unsightly household chores. After all, do you want your guests to see a pile of dirty laundry or your underwear hanging up to dry? No, you don’t.

“With the increase in open-plan living, we’ve noticed customers prefer to create a defined separation between their kitchen and utility functions, where space permits,” said Tony McCarthy, from Crown Imperial told Real Homes.

So, if you’re thinking of getting an extension and adding a utility room, here is Simply’s simple guide to how to make the most of your available space.

If extending your home to include a utility room, how much space do you need?

When defining how much space you should dedicate to a utility room, think about what you want to get out of it. Will it be more of a laundry room, downstairs bathroom, a pantry, back kitchen, a general dumping ground or all of the above?

Whatever your utility room is for, you’ll be surprised what you can fit in a small space with clever space saving tricks. If you plan on storing your washer and dryer in the room, you can stack them to save space.

Add tall cupboards to keep your upright hoover, mops and brushes. Having open shelving is also the most efficient way to store food, but if you like things to be behind closed doors, sliding doors are ideal for small spaces.

Where should I put my utility room?

Theoretically, you can have a utility room anywhere in the house. However, wherever it’s located, your appliances will need to be plumbed into the water and heating supply. It is more efficient and economical to have your utility room next to your kitchen and it’s also usually more practical in a general scene.

What should I have in my utility room?

This of course depends on what you want from this space. If you are using it as more of a laundry room then having a sink is something to consider. It can be used to soak clothes when necessary, as well as clean dirty shoes and bathe any small pets.

One easy thing to overlook is power points. If you are creating a utility room as part of an extension, make sure enough power points for all those appliances are planned in.

Underfloor heating can be put to excellent practical use in utility rooms. It can help dry your washing faster without taking up any wall space.

If you are putting in cabinets, and the utility room is connected to the kitchen, you may want to use the same style cabinets to create a cohesive flow. Also, as this is a practical space, easy to wipe work surfaces are essential.

If you want to create an extension to include a utility room, call Simply Extend today. We are specialists in creating fixed cost extensions in London.

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How to make your home extension energy efficient

home extension energy efficient

When building an extension it pays to have the environment in mind. By making it energy efficient you can save money on your running costs and maybe even on your build. Here’s how to make your extension energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

Insulation

External wall insulation is one of most effective types of insulations you can have. It works by fixing a layer of insulation material to the wall, then covering it with a reinforcement and a special type of render. Highly recommended by Greenage, a leading energy saving advice website, external wall insulation can increase thermal efficiency, reduced heat gain in warm weather, can prevent penetrating damp, be applied without disruption, reduce energy bills by 40% and helps to muffle sound entering the home.

Infrared heating panels

Infrared heating panels work through radiation, not convection. They emit infrared waves, which travel through space and warm up any objects they hit including your body. Once heated with infrared, furniture, walls and floors, will release it slowly back into the room over time. Infrared light is the reason we feel warm in the sun even when the air temperature is cool. Standard convection radiators work by heating the air around you, which is easily lost through windows, doors and floorboards. You can buy panels in an array of materials and plug them into the wall or they can be hardwired into the system by an electrician. They use up less electricity helping to keep your bills down.

Lighting

If you are installing skylights or Velux windows as part of your extension you can choose ones that are controlled by solar power. Velux became the first to manufacture such windows. These windows consist of triple outer glazing and an additional inner double-glazing. They also feature solar powered shutters, which can be controlled by a touch-screen control pad.

The sun does not shine all the time so when it comes to artificial light LED lighting is the way to go. They use 90% less power than traditional light bulbs.

Paint

If you want to keep your environmental footprint light then choose eco paint. Proper eco paint is high quality, breathable and made without the use of petrochemicals. Some eco paints can be composted.

Upcycle and pre-loved furniture

Everyone loves a bargain, and going on the hunt for upcycled and pre-loved furniture will save you money as well as help the environment. You can find pre-loved furniture on Facebook buy and sell pages, charity shops, car boot sales and websites like Freecycle.

Underfloor heating

There is nothing more satisfying than feeling a warm floor beneath your feet on a cold winter’s day. Underfloor heating has a bad reputation of being pricey, but in the long run, it’s a far more efficient way to heat your home than convection radiators. On the downside, they can take longer to heat up than traditional heating systems but you do have a more even distribution of heat.

Looking to add an extension to your London home? Then contact Simply Extend for a free site survey today.

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A guide to Crittall windows

Crittall is an Essex based steel window company that have been around for almost three centuries. From 1919 to the 1980s, Critall manufactured ‘cottage windows’ for government housing schemes across the country. Many of these windows can still be seen on early 20th century council flat blocks, especially in London.

The trend for picture and floor to ceiling windows, as well as stricter conservation rules, has brought Crittall’s steel windows back into fashion and their traditional style windows especially, are in demand across the capital.

What are Crittall windows?

Crittall windows are steel framed galvanised windows that are polyester powder coated, which is electrostatically sprayed and baked on. This means that repainting windows is a thing of the past. One of their specialisms is replacing like-for-like windows on listed and heritage buildings.

How are they manufactured?

After the windows have been measured and designed, each Crittall window is hot-dipped galvanised to BS EN 1461: 2009; this ensures that the finished products are completely protected against corrosion. To ensure further durability they are given a Polyester powder coating to the thickness of at least 60 microns. Once they have gone through this process, they are assembled and shipped.

Why use steel windows?

Steel windows have been used in all types of buildings across the world for hundreds of years. The reason why architects love these windows is because:

  • Narrow sightlines
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Strength: they are stronger than any other material
  • Steel windows are easy to install

What kind of Crittall windows are there?

No matter what kind of house you have, you can find a Crittall product that works for you:

  • Homelight: this lets the maximum amount of light into your home. The strong, slim and elegant frames look great on any home. If energy-saving is important to your build then choose Homelight Plus. These windows are more energy-efficient and feature enhanced security.
  • Berkeley: these windows were created to replace existing 1920s and 1930s steel windows that were single pane. This modern incarnation of cottage windows features double glazing and enhanced security.
  • W20: this is what you need if you want to replace a wall with a window. Designed to transfer maximum levels of interior light using their minimalist profiles.
  • C2000: this contemporary style window has all the benefits of modern glazing technology with elegant slender styling. Designed as an alternative to less durable aluminium, it is pressure equalised and double weatherstripped for insulation and performance.

If you are looking for a great alternative to bi-folding doors on the back of your kitchen extension, then Crittall windows can also be made into panels with doors that open up into your garden. Whilst providing character to your home, they also let through just as much light as bi-folding doors.

If you want to expand your house with an extension then contact Simply Extend for a free site survey.

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How has Brexit affected the home improvement market?

home improvement market Brexit

London has not only seen a property boom of late, it has also experienced an explosion in home improvement projects. Extensions have long since been a popular way for Londoners to increase space and create modern, family friendly spaces. However, with the UK voting in favour of Brexit, what does this mean for the home improvement industry in London?

It’s still early days and though much has happened since the result was announced on 24th June, what will happen in the long term is anyone’s guess. However, a short term picture is beginning to emerge.

A drop in house prices in London is happening and in the upper end of the market, stagnation is likely. Faisal Durrani, head of research at property firm Cluttons, told The Guardian that: “the prime central London market had been slowing for more than a year, but had been ‘amplified’ by the referendum result.”

The number of homes changing hands is expected to slump this summer. A survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) found that new buyer enquiries declined ‘significantly’ during the month of July. However, demand was already beginning to fall even before the Brexit vote due to higher levels of Stamp Duty and stricter mortgage criteria.

Currently, the economic outlook is not looking as bleak as some had feared. However, Uncertainty is causing some experts to predict that the economy will shrink in the third quarter.

These economic headwinds could mean that the trend to ‘improve not move’ could gain further momentum, as moving will look even less appealing.

However, all of the uncertainty means homeowners may delay plans to improve. Rob Wood, owner of Simply Extend says, “to date the impact of Brexit on our business has been minimal. We’ve had quite a few clients delay decisions by a couple of weeks since the referendum result, but are now deciding to move forward as there doesn’t appear to be any short-term financial risk.”

As the nation comes to terms with the result of the EU referendum, which saw 52% vote for Brexit and a new government in place, people are starting to get their confidence back despite the backdrop of uncertainty.

Wood is no stranger to economic headwinds. He began his business in 2008, the start of the Great Recession, with his wife Helen Wood. However, this did not stop them winning work.

“It was the fall in house prices in 2008 and 2009 that saw the trend for improving not moving,” said Wood. “In unstable times people look for certainty and offering fixed prices helps clients to feel reassured. What homeowners don’t want is any surprises. ”

Invest in your property with an extension and create the space you and your family need. Our fixed prices help you manage cost and you will be assigned your own project manager, who will oversee the process from design and planning through to completion. If you want to improve not move, contact us on 0800 917 7571 or click here to fill out a free site survey form.

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How to make the most of open plan living?

How to make the most of open plan living1

When homeowners opt for an extension, many use it to create an open plan space in their home. Open plan has adorned magazines and interior TV shows for some time – it’s like the jeans of the interior world, no matter what the latest trends are, open plan is always at the party. So why has it endured for so long and how do you make the most of open plan living?

While the idea of open plan living has been with us ever since humans started to build permanent structures, it was Frank Lloyd Wright who popularised modern open plan living as we know it today. Wright designed houses in this way so that the housewife would be “more hostess ‘officio’,” instead of being in the kitchen behind closed doors. Of course, in more modern times the simplicity and practicality of such spaces are why they have endured.

A large open space may seem easy to work with, however, it’s not as straightforward as it looks. Here are our top tips on how to make the most of open plan living.

Planning the space

Open plan spaces are never really truly open, there is always something that divides each space for its purpose. When you are creating a kitchen, islands or breakfast bars can be used, not only as a handy storage area and somewhere to eat, but as a border to define where the kitchen begins and ends.

How to make the most of open plan living2

Storage units are also a good way to break up a room. You can use bookcases or shelving units which can act not only as a flexible wall to help you create distinct ‘zones’, but also a design statement in itself.

If you plan on having a lounge area you can use a sofa, chaise lounge and rugs to define the space.

How to make the most of open plan living3

Colour

To keep constancy and flow, its best to keep the colour scheme fairly neutral as this gives an easy backdrop to work with. If you want to inject colour you can do so to distinguish individual areas. Patterned wallpaper or tiles also work well. To make this succeed you will need any colour or pattern you choose to work with your natural backdrop or you risk not having a consistent look.

How to make the most of open plan living4

Flooring

Flooring needs to be practical as well as create a sense of flow. If you have a kitchen in your open space you can opt for wood, stone or tile flooring throughout and soften it with rugs, where needed. Rugs are also helpful for distinguishing different zones.

Another option is to have different flooring levels. Having a step from the kitchen down to the dining or living area helps to break up the room.

How to make the most of open plan living5

Lighting

Ensuring you have the right kind of lighting for every zone in the room can be difficult as each space requires different kinds and levels of lighting.

In the kitchen you will need bright lights so you can see what you are cooking, so opt for downlighters. For dining spaces, a popular trend right now is for three low pendent lights over a long six to eight seater table. If you have a four seater table, one light will work just as well.

To give soft lighting to lounging areas lamps can be used and if you want to use lighting to define your zones, then spotlights can be very effective.

How to make the most of open plan living6

If you are looking to create your own open plan space with an extension then Simply Extend can help. We are a leading home improvement builder based in London and we have helped create beautiful homes with side and rear extensions. For a no obligation site survey please call on 0800 917 7571 or contact us online.

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A guide to timber cladding your extension

With the popularity of programs such as Grand Designs and George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces, timber cladding is now firmly back in fashion.

timber cladding extension

Why timber clad your extension?

Timber cladding can be a design statement, an insulation protector and a sustainable building material – especially if locally sourced wood is used. If you are building a timber framed extension, timber cladding can be a cheap and lightweight build compared to masonry. Hugo Tugman, founder of Architect Your Home and Interior Your Home told Real Homes magazine that “Timber cladding can introduce a completely new character, sometimes used in blocks, breaking up a bland masonry façade and creating more depth, modelling and composition to an elevation. Such cladding is often used to great effect in upgrading old council houses.”

For historical houses timber cladding can be used to play up the differences between materials and the eras in which the house and the extensions were built.

How much will timber cladding cost?

Like with most things, the cost of timber cladding varies on what kind of wood you use and how much you need. For example, the Western cedar, which is grown in the UK can start at around £3 per metre and go up to over £7 a metre while European larch starts at around £2 per metre. Labour costs will also be needed to be factored in.

“Cedar wood is usually used to achieve a nice effect,” said Helen Wood from Simply Extend “This can prove costly though to clad an entire extension so some of our clients choose to clad only a section of the exterior.”

Is it hard to get planning permission for timber cladding?

Depending on where you live and the type of house you have you will need to apply for planning permission. In 2008, a change in permitted development rules saw the introduction of the requirement that the materials of an extension would have to be “similar” to the materials of the existing house. However, this does not mean there is no point in applying for planning permission. There is now a line of thinking that an extension should be different from the original building for legible and honesty reasons.

What kind of timber is there?

There are many types of timber cladding but the most popular are Western cedar, European larch, Siberian larch, European oak, Sweet Chestnut and Douglas fir.

  • Western Red Cedar is currently one of the most popular forms of cladding and can be grown in the UK. If left untreated the wood fades to a silver/grey colour. One thing to take note of is natural oils in the timber have a corrosive effect on ferrous (iron) material, so avoid the use of galvanised or stainless-steel if you wish to use western red cedar cladding.
  • European Larch is a softwood and is mainly home-grown, making it a good suitability option. Left untreated it will weather to silver. If you live in exposed coastal areas its expected service life can be shortened.
  • Imported from Russia, Siberian Larch is higher in quality than European larch. This is because it is slow growing and thus has fewer knots. This is one of the most expensive forms of cladding.
  • European Oak is a durable hardwood. Rustic in appearance, oak can be one of the most expensive cladding materials but it is sustainable and is grown in the UK as well as on the continent. If left untreated the oak will change to silvery grey.
  • Sweet chestnut is similar to European oak in the way it weathers. It can be expensive and is generally only available in small quantities.
  • Douglas Fur goes by many names such as Oregon pine, British Columbian pine or Columbian pine. This pacific coastal pine is a softwood and fades to silver grey.

No matter which wood you opt for make sure your materials are either FSC or PEFC certified. This means that the wood has been taken from a sustainably managed forest.

If you are interested in having an extension built in your London home the call Simply Extend 0800 917 7571 on email for a no obligation quote.

 

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