NPME

BlogMarch2015

posted by Natalie Paddick

HOME IMPROVEMENT

 

I came across this article ‘what I wrote’ some years ago for a magazine; they called it “An expert in the field; designer Natalie Paddick offers her top advice on refurbishing and re-designing you home ....”

But it sort of works at this time of year!! ...

Befitting the month of March and all the ‘hare-brained’ ideas, that I have! ...... I am drawn to the subject of property refurbishment ........

First ... The sensible advice ... Hire a professional!! There I have said it!!

However if you are as Mad as a March Hare and are embarking on a DIYing property restyle then check out some of this advice! Before any refurbishment project make sure this new adventure is within your budget, experience, knowledge and within your capabilities!! Be warned, once you start a refurbishment you just can’t stop, it is intoxicating ... So let us get down to the business ....

All refurbishment projects when you do them yourself as opposed to having to adhere to a defined budget when I do it professionally; are almost always more expensive, usually more time consuming than you had envisaged and can be a little bit stressful at times!! But for my money there is nothing more fulfilling than a new design project .. I love it! ....

Okay ..... You have a great idea about extending, redesigning and improving your property, usually fuelled by the odd glass of vino! Or possibly watching Grand Designs .... First thing to do is the research .. A great way to start is by looking at interior design magazines and books, a brilliant source of inspiration, this can also be done on the net, but is not as relaxing ... If you are looking for specific furniture, lighting or products; don’t just Google, for example ... Stools ... Google ‘Wooden Kitchen Bar Stools’ then go onto images .... Far quicker and much more visually stimulating than scrolling through loads of web literature .... 

Before you start knocking the walls down, it is a good idea to photo the property before any work is done ... I then scribble my idea’s over the pictures and the tear sheets from the magazine pages I have ripped out! I am lucky I have a partner who reconstructs my idea’s, gets a tape measure out and actually makes them work on paper. If you don’t have one of these useful people, approach a good architect, again here do the research ... You want a designer who is on your wave length, if you choose an architect that does not interpret your design idea, you end up with an expensive bill and not the plans you wanted. If planning permission is required it is essential to get a local architect as they will have had the interface with the actual planning officers in your area, plus this tip applies to tradesmen too ....

When thinking about what you can do to your property think about bringing in as much light as possible ... However you can get it!! ... For example in this county, because of our weather we have a tendency to put heavy curtains in the window reveals. This reduces the clear window opening and so also reduces the area for light to flood in ... Go for the curtains but ensure the poles or tracks are wide enough so that the curtains can be opened fully off the windows ... It is always great to bring the outside in .... Sun tubes are exceptionally good for areas where there is no natural light.

Most planning departments have a very useful drop-in meeting centres with a planning officer, where you can discuss your proposals, before the expense of a formal planning application ..... Beware!!! .... This does not always mean that your plans will receive consent... On one of our projects we received a refusal, point blank on a leisure complex we wanted to build, from if I might say a rather obsequious, jealous, single minded planning officer .... (I should add here that I like and admire all planning officers!!) ...And they do a brilliant public service!! .... NP/ME Ltd are nothing if not tenacious ... We dealt with each point of the refusal in detail and refuted the information with specific responses, photo’s, positive neigbour feedback and re-submitted the information at a full planning committee ..... This resulted in a unanimous approval ... But you should know that .... patience is a virtue and it is not cheap! ...

Planning issues and rules relating to property can be unexpected ... Such as protected fauna and flora and rules about what you can and cannot remove from the structure of the building. We had a situation where we had to stop work for several weeks whilst an inhabitation of jackdaws living in the roof space had their chicks and thereafter all vacated the premises ... On another restoration project we had to build into the design a wooden panel that had been in the property for years ... On both accounts rightly so .... But don’t even get me started on all the customs we had to comply with whilst working in France ... But that is for another blog!! 

If you are refurbishing an old property, don’t be to quick to rip out all the old .... Mixing styles old and new works ... Free your mind and be objective, the effect can be dramatic ... I like under flooring heating, it makes sense on every level if you can put it in, it frees up wall space, economical and it’s a lovely form of warmth, a brilliant invention .... We install it in our projects where feasible, in some older properties, it has been a case of mix and match with radiators!

When it comes to the kitchen, the hub of the house, it can be worth taking professional advice .... Always, always, always try and get the maximum amount of worktop space. You can mock-up the area with sheets of cardboard and tape ... Just to make sure you have the right layout for appliances, cupboards and work surfaces, it is easy to get it wrong ... Consider the positions of the all important power points and where you are going to site the TV. Italian designer kitchens are all very well, but you can easily cut the costs dramatically ...You can get very good quality kitchens from the DIY warehouses, especially in the almost constant sales promotions. Or buy the basic carcassing from a usually cheaper web based outlet and face the units with good quality doors ... Then look online for designer door handles .... Bingo you can cut your costs substantially!! Kitchen worktops are expensive .... Shop around if you are looking for granite, quartz or ceramic and consider Silestone as an alternative ... Back in the day, they used to create worktops with tiles, if you get the right tiles and grouting this can again dramatically cut your costs! And even wood from reclamation centres, which is then sealed with Danish Oil, looks stunning ... The look is of pure natural quality ..... 


Interior decoration ..... Very subjective; my experience tells me .... Don’t go overboard with designer paints and all the other fluff ... Designer paint has it’s place, don’t get me wrong, but you can have pretty much any colour you like at a very affordable price. Apply this tip across the board with all products. Always get a paint tester pot, but remember they will be the plain matt finish without for example, the silk or gloss effects etc. So if that’s a finish you want the tester will look slightly different ... When you paint your tester on the wall, look at it over a couple of days.....  Sunny day, evening, cloudy ... The spectrum of our lovely weather ... Check out the look!! ....

So you have created the beautiful canvas ....... Adding your furniture, fixings and accessories .... At this stage you have over spent your budget! Trust me I know I am right!! ... In your mind when you started this project you imagined all new stylish furniture fitting into your newly created haven .... I regularly work for a lady who has two large stores of furniture, from when she down sized, so all her furniture does not fit in her new apartment ... She has a tendency to regularly get her beautiful antique wooden furniture painted in light colours ... Eek .... This works well in her new surroundings ... But destroys the lineage of the antiques!! .... So we have come to the understanding that she only has the no value items painted .... So painting and re-styling furniture can be a good way to upcycle for a new look. So go back to looking at the magazines for inspiration and use key pieces to make the design work ... If you are a women that tends to be cushions and throws with vases and candles ... If you are man .... It can be other key pieces such as statuary, paintings, books and lighting ... I know .. I know ... I am being very sexist here ... I have worked with the genders and styles the other way round too!! .... And I am the sort of key pieces type of woman ...

 

For Me!!’ I love mirrors ... Mirrors can open up a dark place and widen a corridor, or reflect your beautiful designs, if placed properly they to can bring the outside in .... Now you have finished sit down and enjoy a well deserved moment of reflection .....     

“The March Hare will be much the most interesting, and perhaps as this is May it won’t be raving mad – at least not so mad as it was in March!” Lewis Carroll’s – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland .... 


BlogJan2015

posted by Natalie Paddick

WISHING YOU ALL A HAPPY NEW YEAR 2015
 
There are so many things one could say to welcome in the New Year
So many possibilities that could come our way
This Poem sort of says it for me ......
 
DOORS ....
By Carl Sandburg
 
An open door says, “Come in.”
Shadows and ghosts go through shut doors.
If a door is shut and you want it shut,
Why open it?
If a door is open and you want it open,
Why shut it?
Doors forget but only doors know what it is
doors forget.
 
So I wish you all a Wonderful Happy New Year
And may all the doors you go through this year
Have open possibilities for you and I ....



BlogWoodAcreWells2014

posted by Natalie Paddick

Thought I would update you on our WoodAcre development in Wells, Somerset. These new builds are now almost finished and ready for sale.  Two shiny new five bedroom properties in a stunning location waiting for someone to breathe their personal stamp on them and give them their own history .... Here is a quick look at the development!!




By the way, I have written two other blogs about this site, the first was in October 2013, when we used the old tatty bungalow that once stood on this plot for a photo shoot, called ... Welcome to Wonderland. Also in March 2014, I took another .. Fun Look at Our Building Site! Which was taken as you can see when the new buildings started to take shape and raise themselves out of the ground.

Change is never easy, but we must all except that it is necessary to move forward, the property was purchased, we undertook the planning and redesigning of this space. However one of the neighbours had very different ideas. He put in a request for the existing timber, falling down old derelict wreck of a bungalow to have a heritage listing!! PLEASE!!.... This of course was never going to happen, but it did succeed in delaying us starting on the project which, what he did not calculate meant it would all take longer ... And for him too!

 


It is of course understandable that people around any potential building site are going to panic about the pending new project. But progress must go forward. It is or can be frustrating living next to any noise and disruption. We are used to these concerns and are very understanding of neighbours feelings and worries.

The houses are of timber frame construction with stone and render cladding, contemporary with a twist of the historical Wells old stone masonry. In principal like all things they should go up like a dream!!! However when levelling the ground we found that we hit an unexpected layer of bedrock causing a bit of a headache to our structural surveyors, break through or build off was the question! Eventually we had to do both! Things in the building industry never go as smoothly as the high octane excitement of the initial ideas and planning and purchase... But on you must plough ... And keep smiling!!!  




We always try and build with the idea of bringing the outside in so these properties have vast walls of glass and large and beautiful roof glazing with associated lighting .. This works particularly well in the staircase areas, housed in the stone turrets The houses are light and airy, with large open spaces, achieved using massive double pocket doors which side and hide in the ground floor walls. Again it is critical to us to find and make as much storage as possible on any project we do .. To be frank there can never be enough!!




Although they are modern buildings we felt it important to bring in a hint of the local area to the buildings so incorporated the local stone in certain key area's. The kitchens have great working spaces .. Which to me is particularly important as I love to cook... The outside area's stretch all around the buildings and are opened with lawned gardens. Just ready for who ever buys them to give us a budget to landscape them to their taste and bring the outside area to life... exciting!!! Many ideas spring to mind! 




I will bring you the finished pictures in a future blog, as here I have provided the sales CGI images, we have had two offers to purchase so far, but I just wanted to share with you how we had got on so far ... And by the way the neighbours are now happy with the outcome so all is good and great progress has been made! 

To keep you in the loop, one of our next projects is a 14 century town house which was an Inn, back then and was called the Three Horse Loafs as apparently you could put anything into a loaf of bread!!! Horse included apparently!! I am sure we will find this has a few quirks to focus our minds!!! I'll keep you briefed!!  

 

BlogNordrachHouseHome

posted by Natalie Paddick

In February 2013 I wrote a blog and a number of magazine articles about the TB Hospital on top of the Mendips in Somerset, called Nordrach House, This is a short blog on how we refurbished it, lived it and loved it...


"Well I want to do it!!" "Really Natalie do you not think we have enough to do?" "No I think it will be fun and I think it will be easy!! You will enjoy it!!"( Famous last words! ) This is never a convincing argument with my husband and partner, but to be fair I sort of got my own way .... And so we bought the shambolick wreck! Upsticks from our previous home in Henley-on-Thames to rural Somerset. Trust me quite a cultural change!!

Nordrach House is a 6,000 sqft property with 6 bedrooms, a kitchen you can swing a number of cats in, (two Bengals spring to mind! Which we own.) Dining Room, Sitting Room, Double Office annex, games room with Pavilion and conservatory...  The garden was just shy of 7 acres of woodland and fields all in a general state of dilapidation and dereliction! But the property boasted fantastic Victorian features, such as an incredibly long entrance hall with white and black dot ceramic tile flooring, enormous rooms with 11 foot high ceilings, massive cast iron Gothic windows and the most over grown and never weeded central courtyard. Yes okay a challenge ... 


So began our new relationship with the Nordrach Sanatorium, which had initially been developed from Willoughby's Farm in 1899 by two Doctors, into a much needed TB Hospital; 700 feet above sea level where the air is pure and clean! The demand for this type of cure at the time was so needed that they opened the doors before they had even finished the decorations, at a hefty fee of £20 per week!

Patients were mostly to live in the timber pavilions erected in the gardens and grounds, where they were subjected to an open window, breathe the fresh air policy. One patient, (who I do not believe I am related too!) Sneaked out to the local Wellsway Inn for a drink or four! He was seen by one of the many doctors that worked at the hospital and reported. On his inebriated return to Nordrach he was to find his bags packed and a carriage ordered for him! I should point out at this stage that the Sanatorium had it's own liquor menu, which the guests were required to order from! At the hospitals uplifted prices!! 



Thankfully TB was successfully conquered in the UK, although I understand it is making a worrying come back! So the Nordrach Sanatorium metamorphosed into a refuge from the second world war bombing in Bristol for Hungarian refugees and later a home for orphaned children. Later it was turned into a private Country Club with golf course; which prompted the local butcher; to say to me, "nod, nod, wink, wink, you know what I mean!!" I didn't but I later found out, it was his way of alluding to the fact that the Country Club was a front for a house of ill repute, hosting wild parties, women of the night and excessive drug taking! ...Shocking ... Giggles!!  Eventually it found it's way into the hands the fruit and vegetable empire, the Stokes family of Bristol, who refurbished and upgraded it into a Laura Ashley style of decor circa 1980. When we bought it had not been redecorated since!


Well now I have told you the good sell!! We arrived there in April 2005 to the most evocative smell of wild garlic, growing in abundance in the woods, a plant that has both beauty in it's flowers and evokes very happy memories for me. Hell this was a exciting challenge! Some of my memories of us first moving there; are switching on the boiler in the house the pipes ran under the floor boards up the long halls, which made whooshing and clanking noises ... It reminded me of Dobby, the house elf and his cohorts from Harry Potter, scurrying up and down the house setting things right and making ready for the morning, however it terrified the children!! We would look out the windows on some mornings and see deer, foxes, rabbits on the lawns. The next door neighbours prize chickens, which our cats would on occasions kill and bring back through the cat flap! Making the neighbours rally against us, threatening the cats with certain death... To avoid further upset the cats had to be kept in the house with all the windows shut in the heat of that first summer, with an Aga running - that was not fun. (However, you should know that cats are the only legally free roaming animals in the UK!) On a lighter note we also had a local lesser known lizard that came to see us. It was idillic fun. If not utter madness!!



Once I was woken in the middle of the night by our son, saying "Mummy there is a bat sleeping on my pillow." "No, you are fine go back to bed!!" As my conscience awakened, I realised I had better go and comfort him from this bad dream. I went into his room switched on the bed side light only to be hit full in the face by a startled bat that was happily cuddled up on his bed. I freaked, ran for the door and shut it behind me with him still in there. Holding the door handle to make sure it would not escape. Shouting good words of advice and comfort through the door! "Keep your eye on it, I will get your father! Don't under any circumstances open this door!" "But mummy it’s dive bombing me!" "It's fine, it is just playing ... It likes you!" (You can rely on me in this type of crisis .. Leave small child in room with potential man eating bat!) On the plus side he shouted back through the door. "I will Mummy!" Fishing nets, buckets, blankets were all brought to the rescue in the hope of returning this poor tiny animal back to the wild!! Only to have our daughter complain the next morning, that we were bad parents for not waking her, so she could have been part of the rescue! And our other little boy, wondering what else this house was going to throw at him? "Do we have monsters too?" (You never get it quite right as a parent!) 


We undertook extensive re-wiring, plumbing, refurbishments, it was like the painting of the Severn Bridge; cranes were hired to remove the many massive heating oil tanks that had been put into the courtyard. The policy seems to have been as one item expired another was just added. JCB's were deployed to remove the landfill that was the wood! Seven water tanks the size of a Fiat 500 in the roof were cut out and dismantled, some with lovely messages, signed by the tradesman! One with a less than complimentary comment about the "Gaffa"! The kitchen was to die for, four oven Aga, double electric oven and induction hob all installed and upgraded. It was a mammoth task, but the end result was a beautiful family home, not to mention the 375 metres of material for the curtains, the downstairs windows had a two and a half metre drop!... And did I mention it had a large wine store!! Delicious ... We fought a lengthy battle with the local planners for a large sports complex with indoor pool, granny flat and garages. And a separate stable complex in one of the fields. And we won a unanimous victory .... We gave Nordrach back it's life as a house!    



One of the other stories of Nordrach is that it is plagued with Jack Daws nesting year after year in the enormous roof space. They return to roost every year, building nest after nest, one on top of the other, for years... And boy do they make a mess! But we had to live with them and they with us! Producing many chicks, which would fall out of their nests on a regular basis, meaning the children would have to protect them from the aforementioned Bengal cats, until their parents came and taught them how to fly.  But a big problem for us was we needed to get them out of the roof space for hygiene reasons. It took two men dressed in what looked like Nuclear fall-out suits, a week to get rid of all the debris, nests and deceased birds and rats  ... Disgusting!! 


A very touching story of living in that pile of history, was the occasional pilgrimages of friends and relatives of people who had lived or been associated with the house. They would turn up with pictures and stories about the house in a former life. My most heart breaking memory is of a very elderly slightly infirm gentleman coming to the house, in a rickety old car. His mother was a TB victim who had lived at Nordrach, she was unable to pay the fee's at the hospital, but somehow his father who was a Mason, had secured her a place. We sat and had tea and cake with him as he told us his story of his sisters and him, he showed us pictures of him outside Nordrach House, the tree we were having tea under was featured in his pictures. He was three years old at the time and was only allowed to view his mother through the window to her bedroom, which was my husbands office. Sadly she died, he never got to hold her, just heart breaking!! He was shown around the house, invited back if he ever wanted to come. I wrote to him on occasions and sent him Christmas cards up until his own death... A part of the houses rightful heritage ....

We lived there for just over five years, had the wildest parties, that is for another blog!! In latter years one of our children also had wild parties, just without telling us! Massive family Christmas's, wonderful and fun times. Nordrach was at such an altitude that in the summer, you could really burn when the sun was out and when it was cold, it was very cold, with waist high snow, effectively blocking us off from the world for days. It was a great fun moment in time ... Not an easy project .. But to be fair what is? The time came when splendid isolation had run it's course and we became bored of being taxi drivers to the children! And I had spied a new project to be had!!  So we sold and moved on with great memories leaving Nordarch to another family, a proud and stately home again and a happier place. And keeping our secrets and memories alive in it's old but solid walls ... 




BlogFeb2013

posted by Natalie Paddick

I was privilaged to purchase Nordrach House on the Mendip Hills. It was in a very sad state indeed. Whilst cleaning the property out I came across these postcards sent to the patients, as the property had been built as a TB Hospital. The Bungalows which housed the patients, enabling them to take in the clean bracing air. Sadly these funny dwellings were long gone by the time I came along!

This was the lovely wood, which had been used as a unoffical dump for many years. Many skips later we were delighted to have exposed acres of wild garlic. Beautiful...I love the smell.

More Bungalows in a field of daisies, in the middle of this field was a cricket pitch; all very charming! In the distance you can see the surgery....I have seen these pictures....not so charming! 

More of the Bungalows.....On the inventory I found. You had to be appropriately dressed! No alcohol was to be drunk, unless supplied by the Sanatorium!

A local artist sketched this picture of a garden party we had. Gypsy the dog taking pride of place, as the artist used bread as a rubber! Nordrach was making a come back!

Nordrach then!

 

And now!


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