Spaces 4 Living

An Architect's Idea Book: Sharing ideas and inspiration to help create beautiful living spaces.

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Small space/ No space for Dining

Many new homes are moving away from the traditional dining room or the room has been reclaimed for other spaces like a home office or a play room that are more attuned to how a family functions from day to day. The latter is by far a better space solution if you don’t use the dining room and it remains empty for a large part of the time.

But what can we do when we have a family gathering or dinner party?

When the weather is good, sitting outside is great for entertaining.



But when the weather is poor or getting a bit too chilly to sit outdoors, we have to get a bit more creative.

Using the bay window that has a window seat adds a few more seats much like buffet bench seating.



Shifting a table (kitchen table or a few end tables together) in front of the couch and bringing in the arm chairs adds a sense of luxury to your dinner party.



If you have a kitchen island with stools, why not have a kitchen party?


Contemporary Kitchen by London Interior Designers & Decorators Morph Interior Ltd


This remarkable table hides in plain sight…..well sort of.  Fold it up and it is out of the way until you need it again next time without infringing any floor space or bulky storage.


When it comes to entertaining friends and family ….Where there is a will there is a way.  Sometimes we just need to  take a second look and be a bit more creative with our spaces.

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Outdoor Holiday Decorations

The Festive Season is upon us.  It’s time to deck those eaves, window boxes and plug in that inflatable snowman. Hahaha maybe not the last one for me….but t’is the season to let your inner child out.



A simple wreath or winter topiary can do the trick to welcome your guests with the Christmas spirit. Dont be afraid to add a bit of bling. Adding a few shiny well placed baubles/ ornaments would not go a miss in the image above.



This image is a bit more grand due to its size, but the door decor and topiary are still present. I like that they have stuck to a theme to tie all the decorative bits together. The red is very traditional, but the dog tooth plaid/ black and white checkers gives it a subtle modern twist.



Creating a festive vignette in the window. Showcase lit trees, candles, faux crystalised fruit, and evergreen garland. Experiment, have fun, add a few quirky childhood novelties.



These overfilled flower boxes are a gorgeous sight. The mix of 4 or 5 different evergreen varieties adds lots visual interest. As with any decorating, mixing high and low quality items creates greater depth and stretches your budget. There is no shame in visiting the dollarstore/ poundland for the background roughage and then adorning it with a few good quality ornaments. Or why not trim some existing trees in your garden to tie in the whole scheme with your landscaping.



Adding the lighting is always my favourite. There are so many types and colours to choose from. Reigning in a holistic theme is sometimes the hardest part. The soft white always looks classic.



Adding pre-lit garland to the well tested front door formula: wreath/swag and topiary lifts it up  a bit. The red poinsettias look beautiful. They have that Christmas charm and are a classic staple for any theme.



This has to be one of my favourites.  It is simple and bridges the modern and traditional styles extremely well. The candle, when lit is inviting. The flickering flame is deep in our mindset for comfort, warmth and friendship. Even if you do chose battery operated!



Most of us have stored away are summer patio furniture, but if the temperature is agreeable, this looks like a fabulous idea. Table top BBQ for marshmallows, or venture a little further and set up the fire pit for ski resort style hot chocolate party, all wrapped up in festive blankets fire side.

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Barbeque Season

If you are getting ready for Canada Day, Independence Day or celebrating the strawberries and cream during Wimbledon, the barbeque season is in full swing. Having family and friends over for a Summer gathering is one of the great things about the season. The Summer cook isn’t standing away from the action with his face towards the wall any longer. He is in with the conversation and has a full outside gourmet kitchen to ignite the celebrity within us.



An extension of the kitchen is a complete prep station with outdoor grade fridge and wine cooler. This great outdoor kitchen is all beneath a covered deck so you can cook rain or shine (or blistering heat). There is nothing to say that you couldn’t cook a Sunday full breakfast in the fresh air without heating up the house.



Why not watch the game, match and point whilst grilling those steaks! Probably not so good in rainy climates, but you could angle your television so that you can view it through the window.

A room with a view! An otherwise cramped breezeway has made an opportunity for a great exterior lounge. Time to unwind watch the stars with the flicker of the fire and a late night snack. Ah Summer!


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The Age of Faux!

Low maintenance gardens are highly sought after. After a gruelling day at the office most of us would rather kick off our shoes and relax than mow the grass, clip the hedge and water the plants. We are not all destined to be limited to pavers and a bottle of weed killer. Now we can have our cake and eat it too!



Contemporary Patio by San Francisco Interior Designers & Decorators Martha Angus Inc.                           



Artificial turf has come a long way. The products are remarkable out there. Thick lush greens that feel and look real without that plastic sheen and feel as soft as velvet. Many ranges have UV inhibitors that do not degrade under the hot sun. A faded pastel green of years gone by are no more…most suppliers have 10 year warranties. Low maintenance like this comes with a big price tag, so do your research well. Great for roof terraces where the added weight of a garden limits your options for a greenspace.  Hard to reach places like terraced gardens or areas with a lot of shade or too dry to grow grass for kids and pets to play are prime areas for artificial turf without the hassle of trying to get the real stuff to grow.




Faux hedging- Yes, its true you can construct a fake boxwood hedge. No waiting for it to fill in and grow.  The “hedging” can be much narrower than a real hedge which is perfect for adding greenery to a small balcony. It usually comes in 12″ x 12″ square panels that can be stapled or tied into a frame. It could also be arranged into a vertical planting “living wall” that are becoming popular. You get what you pay for so be aware of cheaper varieties that look blatantly fake.



Faux timber, better known as composite wood decking, reduces the maintenance of routinely staining your wood structures. There are many different colours and grades to chose from.  Some even look like hardwoods you’d have inside. Varieties also come in both traditional planks or more contemporary panels.





Faux Stone can have a great visual impact without a hard hit to the wallet like natural stone. There are many different products for different applications from pavers for your patio to lightweight veneer panels for vertical mounting on walls and columns. There are countless colour and texture combinations to fit any landscape, Even the stamped concrete patio above that resembles weathered 2×10 decking is an amazing statement piece.



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Sunny Conservatory


Conservatory…Sun lounge…inside-outside room…Sun room, whatever you like to call it they are almost one in the same.  All are enclosed in windows, although a conservatory has the addition of a glazed roof. Not too dissimilar to a greenhouse attached to your house, but far more detail orientated.


Traditionally, a conservatory was used to house citrus fruits and tropical plants brought back to Britain from merchant traders during in the Victorian and Georgian eras. The delicate plants of India, Africa and the Far East needed shelter from the more northern climates. Nowadays, the conservatory is used as an additional room in the house.  Integrated into the whole functionality of the house a conservatory can bring the wow factor into your home.



Often used as an additional sitting area or lounges, the amount of glazing brings you closer to nature but leaving the elements at bay.



This gorgeous example of a conservatory brings an homage to the traditional grandeur that the Victorian era exuded. Used as a sheltered seating area of the deck, it creates a cascade of spaces from house to shelter to deck to garden with each step unwrapping its layers.



With a flair to the modern, this home office is inspiring. The gentle curve of the glass softens the space. The sloping glass has a filter to protect the residents as well as retractable blinds for additional shading. Most glass used in conservatories do have UV and protective coating options much like typical windows.



The fabulous monochrome kitchen takes a step back as it lets the back garden/courtyard play at the window. The sleek simplicity from head to toe just draws you in.


    Contemporary Annabelle Modern Yellow Linen 32-Inch-H Mid-Century Chair    Woven Jute Roll Up Blinds 48 Inch, Width - 48 Inches    Fiore Floral Patterned Acrylic Accent Chair



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Kitchen Garden

It is the beginning of March, and I am longing for the milder winters of Scotland, as I look out at the white mounds of snow. I could be prepping my soil for planting right now, if I was there. With this being the worst winter in decades on this side of the Atlantic, it shall be a while before I see any young shoots.

I suppose then this gives me time to plan out my garden. Winnipeg has a very short but HOT growing season due mostly to the continental climate on the prairies. Almost everything that I have grown in the past with ease in the UK proves to be a bit more of a challenge in this part of Canada. Its a learning curve, but I shall prevail!

One of the my most rewarding gardening aspects is growing fruit and vegetables.  There is just something to be said when you bite into a homegrown tomato, courgette (zucchini) or aubergine (eggplant).

When one usually thinks of the kitchen garden, the idea of raised cedar planters resonate. The traditional style shown above has had a contemporary facelift. The sharp intersecting planes and different height boxes work really well. The contemporary feel extends to the stone mowing strip between the boxes and the grass. The different widths of stone adds visual interest by adding a different contrast from the long smooth linear timber. The mowing strip not only adds a different texture, but it is also time worth spent when you lessen your weekly navigation of the lawnmower and strimmer. The custom designed privacy screen is the icing on the cake, extending the cedar and the contemporary style beyond the boxes.

On the complete opposite side of the design spectrum, a kitchen garden that is integrated into your overall garden theme. The image above does not show any vegetables, but just think of the idea of bringing your tomatoes and your marigold together. It is not only pretty, but the marigold help ward off the little pests and beasties that may damage all your hard work. There are many other companion planting pairings between herbs, flowers and vegetables that add a natural pest deterrent and a visual interest. A few other characterises that I am drawn to are that the beds are not too deep so there is easy access and there is lots of ground cover to reduce the soil drying as quickly. The latter is all dependant to your choice of plants and how you layer them. Lastly, the central vase could potentially be a rainwater collector (a wider lip would be preferable) and/or a surface rainwater runoff collector. The rainwater run-off flows through a series of inclined drains, beneath the decorative stones, that direct the water to a collection pit.   This is perfect for conserving water for your plants. Even without the bells and whistles, If nothing else a piece of artwork and a few herbs would be a nice central focal point, well other than your prize winning pepper plant!

So why don’t we stretch the idea even further. The lovely Cape Cod cottage pictured above has a whimsical note to the past that brings the potager garden to the front of the house. Who says you need a lawn? Even though the plants are placed in low lying symmetrical rectangular boxes, the array of vegetation brings a sense of playfulness. I love the mixing of textures; broad leaves of the rhubarb, tiny leaves and flowers of thyme, wispy fennel, curly kale and the list can go on. The great thing is that you can mix up the edibles and ornamentals every year.
With a mind full of design possibilities and sketch paper and a pencil at the ready, I shall be scribbling away creating ideas for my garden. Well, until the snow melts!!

Have fun dreaming of Spring!


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A Peaceful Landscape Repose

The relaxed and effortless splendor of this outdoor space is truly sublime. The mature trees add a majestic backdrop to the sculptural aspects of the new landscaping.  A sweeping Pennsylvania bluestone pathway is flanked by monochromatic ornamental mondo grasses and boxwood shrubs adding layers of opposing textures and visual interest.  The understated path lighting serves a utilitarian purpose without distracting the viewer from the captivating horticultural layering of the landscape.

A raised seating patio is anchored with a prominent robust outdoor fireplace and BBQ area. The patio features a curved rough cut stone retaining wall that adds a splash of colour through planting perennial purple geraniums. The low maintenance planting creates a ruffled or even a ripple effect as one’s eye moves from the smooth path towards the rough stone wall.

The curvilinear arrangement of the landscape creates a peaceful repose. It encourages you to stop and inhale nature before heading on to where you were destined. What more can you ask for in a place for the grown-ups to unwind in such a beautiful setting.

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