Friday, 30 December 2011

Christmas Past

We thought we might live here in this gorgeous Border Oak cottage for three years - and then build another house. But we have been here for 7 years now! So this was our 7th Christmas and I thought you might like to see my amateur photos of our decorations this year. The kiddie winks made lots of them this year so its all a bit higgledy - but I love what they did!

Min drew Father Christmas, with a silver beard!

I made some rosettes from my Toast catalogues to stick onto presents.

We nabbed some mistletoe and put it wherever we could

And I found a small gilt 'A' from my new favourite shop in Hay called 'The End' (its an acquired taste and Ben doesn't like the shop so I have to shop alone - dangerous!)

We cut some branches of silver birch from the garden and added some tiny paper doves

Min made this wreath from Vibernum in the garden - I was amazed and very impressed with her handiwork

More mistletoe hanging from the porch - Mr Postman was quite pleased/terrified?!

A paper garland made from an old book and magazine butterflies strung across the mantle with lots of candles

My favourite decorations - a felt polar bear.........

...........And some white fleece wrapped around a wire heart

 Gabriel chose this new wooden teddy - it was 75p from a local craft fair. I should have bought more!

a simple felt ginger bread man - so easy to make, and best of all it can't be broken (gabriel has tried!)

The whole tree, as decorated by M and G just about squeezed into the corner - it was lovely and bushy and hardly dropped a needle

 Min made this when she was three ish - a loo roll wrapped in cotton wool of course

The reception table was my choice - but Gabriel stuck the birds on the branches.

I am obsessed with natural beeswax candles at the moment - I love the colours, the smell and the texture. Some high end catalogues sell these for £10 plus - but these cost between £1 - 4 a pair in local shops. They do burn very quickly but I can put up with that.

And finally paper garlands made of strips of handprinted paper and my left over Cole and Son wallpaper They were easy and fun to make and look almost pretty in a 'homemade' sort of way?

So that was Christmas 2011 - I hope you all had a lovely time and that you enjoy NYE wherever you are and whomever you are with. I will see you in 2012!

With my warmest wishes


Wednesday, 7 December 2011

new stuff on the website

I have been a bit quiet on the blog because I have been a bit busy on the website. I really need to clone myself to complete all the tasks at the moment - but then I would need to destroy my spare 'selves', as I am the first to admit that two of me is two too many. I must be the only person who was upset to discover that I had bought some christmas presents on Monday - the most universal popular internet shopping day EVER - simply because I couldn't bear the thought that I did  the same as millions of others......... to have someone exactly the same as me would be very unoriginal wouldn't it?

Any way I digress.......

so what exactly have I been doing? Well if you pop over to the border oak website you will see that we know have some very nifty 'magazine' type book things. There is only one on there at the moment, with another 'self build journal' coming soon. I have also uploaded all of our brochures, so you have costs, plans, photos etc at your fingers day or night! you can still purchase the pack and the dvd if you'd rather as some people (ie me) prefer to have a lovely brochure to touch and absorb.

There is also a new case study with more coming.

The only thing really missing on the website now is the outbuilding section - which is VERY nearly ready.
If there is anything else you would like me to look into you just have to ask - once the website is set up my clones will have a bit of spare time on their hands................

p.s this is one of the options I have been playing around with for the new outbuildings brochure......Ben says it is too abstract and scary - I was thinking eye catching and distinctive - but nonetheless it has been consigned to the mental bin and I will try design something not quite so 'odd'.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

nice bits and bobs from DeVol

Some of you will already know that I am a loyal customer of devol, who make splendid painted kitchens, using traditional techniques and lovely attention to detail.  They have since worked with lots of Border Oak customers over the last 10 years (ssshhh, don't tell anyone but they are one of our 'black book partners', offering Border Oak customers a very unique discount and service).

DeVol  made both of my kitchens and we have been delighted with the quality and the overall ambience of what they do - and I am quite fickle when it comes to 'styles' so it is a credit to DeVol that the units have never caused me any bother - I did change the knobs on mine a few years ago but DeVol have since used my knob (no sniggering please) as the template for their bespoke metal handles . This year they launched  a new very affordable 'Shaker' range of kitchen units (It was in the NEC Artisan House and you will be pleased as punch with the prices) but also a range of rustic kitchen accessories - here are a few of my favorite pieces from their lovely range.

I could find a corner of my house for any of these subtle, practical and beautiful items. Could you?

P.S. next year we launch our own Border Oak accessories - I will keep you posted!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

A lovely oak framed cottage

A pretty oak frame and infill panel cottage, designed and built by Border Oak, completed last year. In a gorgeous setting, replacing a tired old property, building this house enabled the young family to create a home that they couldn't have afford to buy. That's what I love about self build - you get a great house, built to your specific requirements, which reflects your taste and both saves and makes you money. 

Three dormer windows, a hand made brick side addition and green/grey painted windows - a great combination.

With an extended rear section the cottage is surprisingly spacious without losing its sense of traditional proportions. It also has a lot of glass, without compromising the vernacular essence - a hard thing to get right. We have added oak window hoods to reinforce our attention to detail.

The one end of the large kitchen/family room has windows on three sides - to embrace the garden and enjoy the view - hard to imagine that it is less than 1 hour to the centre of London!

The other end has painted units, a belfast sink, emma bridgewater pottery and an aga - the quintessential modern country kitchen.........

I love the hallway, it's spacious and fully of interest. The doors lead to the playroom, the sitting room and the kitchen.

The  utility area leads from the kitchen and sits within the brick side addition. The stable door is crucial for families with dogs, chickens and little people.

Another bright room with glass on three sides. A wide inglenook has room for the stove and logs and gives the living room a cosy ambience.

Upstairs the oak frames provides interest and character, such as door openings such as this

The master bedroom

and its ensuite (above the utility room)

The master bathroom decor follows the relaxed neutral palette that works perfectly with the oak frame - and is so easy to live with I think?

And it looks so pretty at dusk doesn't it (and can you see the gorgeous shepherds hut?) I love it!

Monday, 14 November 2011

scenes from the weekend

On Saturday Border Oak held an open day at a small development of houses we have built in a nearby market town called Presteigne.
The 'townhouses' are a terrace of 6 two bedroomed properties, with handmade brick and render externals and slate roofs. They are constructed from super insulated softwood timber frames designed by us and made a mile away - you can't get more sustainable than that! Although there is no oak framing as such, the 'fingerprint' of Border Oak is very apparent in the finishing and attention to detail and the workmanship overall.
It is very unusual for us to be involved in a 'development' such as this, but Presteigne is a fabulous tiny town and the position of the houses is amazing - opposite the church,on a quiet and pretty Georgian street, with the dramatic Powys hills in the distance.
It was a very busy day with a mixture of people coming to have a look - neighbours, developers, investors, potential purchasers and passers by. We even had some existing and past Border Oak clients and it is always lovely to see them and catch up. And it was so great that every single person commented on how well built the houses were and how impressed they were with the finish and detail which made me proud to  work for Border Oak.

Here are some images - not great pics sorry, but it was a bit busy to get a clear view - I will pop over and take some more soon.

If you want more information on these town houses please contact the agents Jackson International ( 01568 610 600

prices between £167,500 and £169,500

Handmade bricks and sash windows - the glazing bars are as thin as we could get made on double glazed units - but worth the effort I think.

The first floor has a vernacular overhang, which can be seen along the existing street scene on the original properties - we had special decorative brackets made to 'brace' the overhang and made the feature as visually authentic as possible (but without being too pastiche). And the guttering is a brilliant plastic version Border Oak often use as an affordable option - with detailed profile and a textured finish so not too shiny - it looks like cast iron.

We also had special door surrounds made - a replica of a local example - which will be painted a very dark green or dark dark grey.

A simple run of town houses - light, warm, low energy, low maintenance and inexpensive. It makes me wonder why Housing Associations, developers etc don't go the extra mile? £167,500 for all of this is amazing value and maybe the start of something at Border this space!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

did you win the lottery last night?

I don't play the lottery - and would lose the ticket or forget to check the numbers even if I did - but this house is the kind of 'lady luck' purchase that a certain type of lottery winner might buy.........not my cup of tea (I am trying to be a polite as possible) but it is certainly very well built by master craftsmen from the finest materials available (and with an unwavering dedication to authentic replica interior design of unqualified historical merit).

Yes, Border Oak made and erected the wonderful oak frame (one of our largest ever frames - only slightly smaller than our Japanese projects) - and the whole house comes complete with the most extravagant home security that money can buy (the master suite turns into a bolted 'safe room' should disaster befall). And all of this can be yours (including 1 acre of landscaped grounds -just the one) for ............................£15 MILLION!!!! Crikey, as Minnie would say (Minnie, by the way, thinks this house is amazing and beautiful).

P.S why would a house so focused on cutting edge security be on Rightmove (put a search in for Radlett) complete with Google Map link and extraordinary price tag, and feature in The Telegraph newspaper? Surely a half computer literate 'naughty man' using a stolen laptop and nicked iPhone will be jotting this down in his 'borrowed' note pad and preparing his balaclava? How the other half live eh?