Building your own dream home

Whether you are trying to get onto the property ladder for the first time, or are looking to move to a bigger home as your family expands, or even thinking of downsizing as the children grow up and move out, we all have a dream house in our heads. The difference is that, these days, many people make their dream home a reality. This can be in building a home from scratch, or renovating a property, often one that was not always a habitable dwelling.

There are things to consider if you go down the creating or renovating route. You need to find that perfect plot or building, you need to make sure you have a budget that is both manageable and will be enough – you will need to have contingency plans too. You will also need strong construction and building insurance that can also deal with things like structural defects, a company like CRL can address these sorts of needs and also other issues that might arise. You may also need to address issues related to listed buildings. If you take on a building with some sort of heritage preservation order there will be additional costs, rules and building regulations to follow.

Site Management is also a consideration. Your new home will potentially become a building site for a long period of time, so you need to make sure you have a site manager with an NVQ: Level 6 – Diploma In Construction Site Management. This will ensure that your manager has the necessary skills, knowledge and competence at nationally recognised standards to work in construction site management. This will also cover any Health and safety concerns you have. A site manager who has completed NVQ Level 6 should have the Black CSCS Manager Card. This is a big job, so you need to ensure the person leading your team is the best possible choice.

Renovating or building your dream home is a massive undertaking, but it is so worth the effort. Programmes like ‘Grand Designs’ and ‘The Restoration Man’ show just how incredible a renovation can be, a real dream home that can be unique, beautiful and majestic.

Here are a few dream homes that I have fell in love with.

Martello Tower

Martello Towers were created as lookout points during the Napoleonic Wars and are now highly sort after properties that are ripe for renovation. They look huge and imposing, but are often based close to the coast, and make the most unusual home.

A lighthouse

Decommisioned lighthouses are becoming another much sought after property when it comes to renovations. Again the proximity to the coast, plus the design that is already iconic, make lighthouses an interesting take on a family home. Done well, and the renovation can produce a home that is a glorious space, like the one shown below.

Art Deco House Design

My personal favourite design of house is the iconic, distinctive Art Deco designs. These are often white, with curved walls and a flat roof. The roof can often be a problem, many are prone to leaks due to the inadequate drainage, but if you can invest time and a little money in restoring the period features, you can create an incredible space.

Adding Art Deco touches to your home.

When it comes to style, there is one era and design period that stands out as perfection. The Art Deco era, which was first popular in the 1920s and 30s was a time of design that was notable for its striking modernity and visual boldness, both in colour and form.

Art Deco was all about rich, bold colours. Geometric shapes and straight lines were also fused with curves, half moons and ornamentation that was not always well received at the time. The Art Deco look now seems so well suited to the 1920s, you can only really see this trend rising at the same time as the emergence of the Flapper, the movies and the Jazz Age. But in recent years, Art Deco pieces have again become popular, seen in films like The Artist, stage plays like Top Hat, and preserved in the great London hotels Claridges and The Savoy.

If you are interested in incorporating some Art Deco style into your home decor and decoration, there are some key features that you can focus on. These can help you to achieve Art Deco style in your home without turning it into a museum.

Here are some areas you could look at.

The Use of Glass

Glass was a major feature in art deco style homes, often incorporating coloured panels and geometric style designs. This is something you can easily achieve in your home with the use of toughened glass to create splashbacks, screens and even mirror features in your home.

A key room in Art Deco homes is the bathroom, so you could look at using frosted satin glass with engraving detail to make sure your shower screen is in keeping with your art deco theme.

Cupboards and Units

Furniture is an obvious way of incorporating the Art Deco trend. Good pieces can be picked up in junk shops, antique shops, and there are good quality reproductions around. I love how this kitchen has mixed the modern and the vintage to create an incredible space.

Designer kitchen by Morgan from Homify

Designer kitchen 


Lighting is very important to achieving an Art Deco look. Free standing lights like the one featured below are just so evocative of the look, especially when you take a glimpse at the base. Is there anything more Deco than black and gold – think the Biba sign and the Gucci flapper dresses from a couple of seasons ago? (click here for a recap). The second example almost has the look of a vintage cigarette holder, again, an icon of the 1920s.

16 Stehleuchte Grenoble, rechts die Messing-Variante : Lighting by Art Deco Schneider

08 Stehleuchte Panther, rechts die Messing-Variante : Lighting by Art Deco Schneider


There are some really good examples of modern flooring that would certainly fit into the Art Deco era. Parquet flooring, of the sort so wonderfully exhibited in Eltham Palace, can be a great fit for an Art Deco inspired home. You could also use a floor tile for bathrooms like the sort shown below. The blue and white is striking and modernist.


What are your thoughts on Art Deco?

Adding Vintage Touches To Your Home

Your home is a reflection of you, your style and your taste. But whilst for many, an ultra modern home is the target, with everything gleaming and new, some people (me included) look towards the styles of the past when they are creating their ideal living space.

I live in a Victorian mid terraced house that is celebrating its 120th birthday this year. We were very lucky when we moved in, many of the period features were still in place, including original doors with the original rim locks still in place and the pigs ear hand rail on the stairs. Other features had unfortunately disappeared, the large sash windows had been replaced by a 1970s style bay, and many of the cast iron fireplaces had also disappeared. But the great news is that, these days, you can replace the period features that you may have lost, either with original finds, or with very good quality reproductions.

Here are a few ways to add vintage to your retro home.

An Edwardian Conservatory

It is a common misconception that leads many to think that conservatories are a modern invention. For whilst the idea of putting them on suburban houses may be fairly recent, conservatories themselves date back to the 18th century when they became a popular addition onto stately homes.

An Edwardian conservatory is the best way to keep your home looking traditional and vintage. The mixture of window sizes and the ornamental central ridge give the conservatory an elegant look that will suite a period property.


Fireplaces are one of the best period features you can find in a property – real works of beauty in many cases, whether they are cast iron efforts or Adams style. Unfortunately, they were a period feature that has often been ripped out, especially in bedrooms. But the good news is that these can be replaced.

There are many good quality reproduction fireplaces that can help you get the look, but it is also worth looking at reclamation yards and antique shops and centres like The Doghouse antiques who also have reclaimed original fireplaces. These sometimes need to be worked on as a restoration product, but the end results can be wonderful.


The beautiful sash windows of the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian era were another item that were a casualty of the 1970s and 1980s era of modernisation. Today you can add sash windows to your property that have all the style of era’s gone by, but also have the practicality of UPVC – these are not likely to suffer from woodworm or wood rot and so are practical and hardworking in our modern times.

Finishing Touches

Charity shops are the best place to hunt from finishing touches if you are aiming to add vintage style from your home. Mismatched china, glass dressing table and vanity sets and 1930s style mirrors that often hang on chains are just some of the pieces that you can pick up quite cheaply in the bric-a-brac section of your local charity shops. I recently picked up an art deco coffee pot for £8 and an Amber Glass dressing table set, also in an Art Deco style, for less than £5. These are pieces that are affordable and eclectic.