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Matt's LiveJournal

Random ramblings of a programmer, photographer, journalist and runner

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laptop, geek, MacBook, bursting, breakout

Lounging around

Morning all!

Not much movement on the decorating this week. I now have a freshly-painted lounge with just a few minor bits of touching-up to do. But I don't have much in the way of plans for the floor, which needs re-covering in some way, or for the windows, which need new blinds.

I have at least had a man round to quote for renovating the sash windows, and I know I want to make more of a feature of them, so I know roughly what I want to do, blinds/curtains-wise. But I've not really settled on a colour scheme for the room, and I don't know if plain white would be too dull.

And I've at least wandered into a flooring shop and had a browse, but there's way too much choice. At this stage I'd really quite like to be in The Village, where there would be The Flooring Shop, with choices of Wooden Floor 1 to Wooden Floor 5, and where you'd simply wake up one morning and find it had been installed in your house overnight.

I find interior design quite hard. I'm gradually, I think, developing the kind of vision that you need -- certainly, every time I decorate, the improvement is more marked compared with the previous time I've decorated -- but it's quite a slow improvement.

Also, the sources of inspiration for home decoration are often big impractical liars. I was watching a home improvement TV show yesterday, and they'd made a big feature of a fancy TV-hiding cabinet that had a remote control where you pressed a button, and the top opened up and the TV slid out upwards from inside.

Now, that's a lovely toy (although I wouldn't pay £1,000 for one.) But here's the thing: it looked great in the room, and everything about the room layout was well-balanced, and there were some great feature curtains.

But the TV was in the bay of the bay window, and the curtains closed across the front of the bay. So, during the day, the TV would be silhouetted against a sunlit window, and pretty much impossible to watch, and during the evening, if you closed the curtains, you'd hide the TV. As soon as the designers left, the family would have to figure out how to redesign the room so they could actually watch their telly.

Because interior designers appear on TV; they don't watch it, I guess.

And that kind of crap goes on all the time, all over the place. The rooms look nice, but are hopelessly impractical.

I've got a couple of design books here with features about home offices, from within the last couple of years. They've got gorgeous, minimalist looks; they've got hideaway looks, they've got all sorts of things.

But one thing they don't feature? A computer. And then you look at them, and realise that if you added a computer and a printer and a few of the other accoutrements of any modern home office, they'd be insane.

The hideaway doors wouldn't close without chopping your monitor in half, or the pretty standalone vintage desk would have to have a six-way trailing socket and all the power and USB cables trailing with nowhere to hide them.

I have yet to stumble across what I think should be out there somewhere, a real person's interior design resource, where you can't just take the hideous fitted wardrobes away from someone's bedroom to make it look bigger and lighter, darling, without telling them where the fuck they're going to put all their clothes now.

Erm. Anyway. Sorry, this started as an update and turned without warning (for me, either) into a rant. I guess I've watched one too many makeover programmes this week. Time to go and have a nice relaxing bath, I think, then head out to furniture shops for inspiration.

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I'm waiting for the day when a home makeover show discusses structured cabling...

Hasn't Extreme Makeover Home Edition done this? Although 'home makeover' is perhaps a little understated for what they do. I still want to see a UK version... *&)

Ignore the shows, and head for The Unclutterer; there's been a good few ideas in their "Workspace of the Week" and "Cable Clutter" series, at least. It's not a design blog, but it does address a lot of real-world people with clutter issues, which suits me down to the ground...

Edited at 2009-05-16 08:01 am (UTC)

Our former nextdoor neighbours had a 'show house', she was formerly an interior designer. Whenever we went round there I used to wonder where their stuff was, particularly their books. I don't think they had any actually. They even converted the double garage into a TV/games room with a 50" plasma on the wall and a pool table.

Interestingly when they sold their house they did so fully furnished to a family with four small children, and they in turn sold on to another family fully furnished with four slighly larger children. We went round for the housewarming of the latter recently and all the gorgeous design and trimmings are still present but somewhat beaten up now and lots of clutter around, and the current owners are looking to reintroduce somewhere to keep their stuff as they are struggling without that double garage.

M&L were quite happy living in the show house though, and still are in their new and much larger version. I guess it takes a certain type of person though, and the subsequent families although they aspired to that look found that it wasn't practical with their lifestyles.

So it's like I thought; you have to sell your soul to become an interior designer :)

I like the minimalist look1, but it's impossible to pull off in a one-bedroom flat with no cupboards.

1Although you couldn't tell from looking at me now, but that's mainly because I'm typing this in the bedroom on a keyboard resting on a plank of wood propped over the two open top drawers on a chest of drawers, surrounded by everything that used to be in the lounge, of course...

I like the 'tidy' look, aided by the massive number of fitted wardrobes we have here. In recent weeks this has gone almost completely to pot though *&) My cleaner hadn't even finished this week before I'd made a mess in two of the rooms. I used to get at least 3 days of pristineness! And it isn't even Georgina yet, it's me!

That's what winds me up - no books.

We gave over a full room to the books (having shelved every available wall with spur shelving). I can't imagine living in a house that didn't have a roomful of books.

That said, I can recall seeing one of the more architectural home makeover shows that featured a modernist conversion of a Grade II-listed barn. The owners constructed a open-topped room within the barn; nice blank walls on the inside, and a 1m-wide corridor around the outside (between the new room and the barn walls) which they shelved to capacity (probably about 100m of shelving).

I once noticed that the lovely shiny toaster some magazine's stylist had placed in a kitchen to offset the other chrome touches in there was, in fact, nowhere near a plug.

My aunt says that her houseporn style kitchen (fitted by the previous owner) is great for the oven at eye level, but has no storage at eye level, so you are forevermore rootling around, trying to identify foodstuffs by feel.

Mind you, her previous owner also waltzed off with the swish light fittings and the magic corner that made at least one of the cupboards usable.

I have put a lot of thought into how easy things are to clean, and if we'll be able to access the storage, because as far as I can tell, that's the key to remaining tidy. And I may have mentioned before that Alex loves the minimalist look, but has the soul of a packrat, so we are always trying to find new places to put stuff. That said, he has learnt to declutter to a degree. We got rid of old computer bits the other weekend *is proud*


I hear you on the interior decorating bit. When I worked at my family's business (floor covering) the worst thing that would happen is if a customer came in with their decorator. It's amazing how, you know, living in a space makes such a huge difference. I once spent the better part of an afternoon convincing a customer with four children under the age of 10 who lived on a ranch and no domestic help that white plush carpet really wasn't a good idea no matter that it would look lovely against the brushed suede couch. I've seen what red mud can do to white, and it isn't nice.

But anyway! You should check out Unclutterer for their office designs. Some really cool ideas there mostly from stuf you can find at Ikea.

It must be really hard trying to organise such a small space.

I considered getting a computer desk with hideaway doors but we use the computer so much the doors would be open all the time.

So instead I got a dinky 45cm deep desk from Muji (http://www.muji.eu/pages/furniture.asp?V=1&PID=801 ) which fits fairly neatly next to my Billy bookcases from Ikea and still has enough room for my MacBook plus a separate monitor and keyboard.

The important thing is to think through what works for you and then try to find a relatively elegant way to do it.

I have learned this lesson the hard way after buying various items of furniture that didn't work for me and then having to get rid of stuff.

I've also done a couple of rooms plain white recently with colour in furniture, pictures and curtains. It works for me. (H is red-green colour blind so doesn't like some of the colours I would have chosen when I was younger and single anyway)


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