Open Plan Living comes into its own at Christmas

Christmas is traditionally the time when families, often scattered around the country, come together to catch-up and spend time together whilst enjoying a lavish Christmas meal. This is when open-plan living can really come into its own; as the space lends itself to many layout options and more importantly allows for a big (or extended) table to be the centrepiece of the celebrations with everyone gathered around it.

During the festive period, although more formal dining is popular; open plan dining is still the preference year-round of most homeowners; as separate dining rooms have yet to make a real comeback.  Whilst some people (generally the older generations) still prefer the dining room set-up, if you have a big family it can be challenging to try and fit your own family around the table, let alone grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins; therefore, an open space has an advantage. In houses that still have separate dining rooms but also enjoy an open plan kitchen/diner/living area, it is often the case that the old dining room has been converted into a snug, playroom, office or sometimes even a downstairs guest bedroom.

Homes with open floor plans offer great light and views (often across the garden) and are very sociable for entertaining and bringing family and friends together; but they can be tricky to decorate at Christmas. The high ceilings and minimal walls can make it hard to define areas, create transitions and get the scale right and can sometimes make the Christmas tree look too small for the area.

Therefore, whether you prefer a fresh-cut tree or an artificial version, buy the tallest and fullest tree that will fit comfortably in the spot you choose and upsize your Christmas decorations so you can see them from anywhere; making sure your tree lights are bright enough to make it dazzle as part of the overall décor. When your living room, dining room and kitchen are all one big space, it helps to pick a spot to be the focal point of the decorations which could be the fireplace if you still have one?

Whilst it is great to have all this space, it can sometimes not feel very cosy, which is why it is important to structure the space to give defined areas for eating, socialising and quiet time thereby, making it much more functional and useable.

In properties where the original dining room is now being used as a playroom or office, if you came to sell, the agents would more than likely still refer to it as a dining room in the marketing literature. However, by giving it an alternative description, such as calling it a dining/family room, it shows potential buyers the flexibility of the space and how it could work best for them.

All houses need to continuously evolve over time to suit the changing needs of their owners let alone a new buyer, so the use of the dining room will probably change a few times over the years. Although open plan gives more options, it needs to be clear where people could easily put their table and chairs. The trend for staying in more and hosting dinner parties or gatherings in your home, does mean that open plan living is a bonus, as it makes it more informal and guests can socialise with the host in the kitchen whilst they cook.

The kitchen is still the heart of the home and it’s really important for many families especially as the children grow older, to try and sit down together once or twice a week (depending on parents work times) around the table and catch-up on what’s been happening to everyone that week.

Whatever your preference; be it modern, open plan dining or the traditional dining room for family get-togethers, the beautifully decorated dining table will always be the centre piece of your social gatherings over the Christmas and New Year period and where all your memories are made.

If you have considered making changes to your property to have an open plan living/dining area to give you more flexibility; please do contact Building Tectonics Ltd to see what we can suggest to make your space work more efficiently for you.

We would like to wish all our clients (past, present and future) a wonderful and prosperous Christmas and New Year!

A close up of some green Christmas tree branches with two red baubles hanging off of them, and some star shaped cookies in the background with white icing.

What Christmas Decorating Traditions do you have?

Christmas is fast approaching and the first Sunday of Advent is typically when people put their Christmas decorations up; which this year falls on the first Sunday of December. Advent comes from the Latin word meaning ‘coming’ and while we regard Advent as a joyous season, it is also intended to be a period of preparation, much like Lent.

However, every year it seems to get earlier with some people starting to put their Christmas decorations up from mid-November whereas others may leave it as late as the weekend before Christmas. This is influenced heavily by what’s in the shops as many stores start selling decorations as soon as the kids go back to school in September.

When it comes to painting and decorating the interiors of their homes, each individual has a different idea of colour schemes they prefer and how they like to accessorise their rooms; and it is the same when it comes to decorating their houses at Christmas. One family may have an 8ft Nordmann fir and spruce it up with lavish baubles, toppers and lights, and another may simply decorate a fake tree that cost a tenner.

The traditional Christmas decoration colours used to be red and green with green representing the continuance of life through the winter and the Christian belief in eternal life through Jesus; and red symbolising the blood that Jesus shed at his crucifixion. Whereas, in the past you used to just decorate your lounge and hallway with some tinsel, paper chains, mistletoe and holly with possibly a nativity scene set up, now Christmas decorating is big business and competition is fierce amongst the high street stores and online retailers; with so much variety to choose from and personalised options on wreaths and just about every accessory you can think of.

It’s now socially acceptable to have a different colour scheme in every room of your house and people go to great lengths to co-ordinate their houses, with some even going as far as to hire an interior designer especially for the Christmas season. Basically, when it comes to decorating your home for Christmas, anything goes and there is a theme and colour scheme for everyone.

One family may dig out the same decorations every year whereas others may start with a clean slate and colour scheme each year. If you really want to be on trend for 2018; this year the fashionable colours are varying within the range of purple, blue and grey so if you fancy a change try this out?

For many the central element of the festive decorations is still the tree; and this can now range from having one tree up in your hallway or lounge through to trees in each of the main rooms. Traditionally, people would have chosen a real fir tree but now the options are endless from artificial trees with integrated lights or decorations through to trees with music systems build in and one of the newest trends in the last few years – upside down trees to allow room for more presents to be stored underneath. More people are starting to think about their choice of tree and realising that an artificial tree they bring out each year is so much better for the environment; and with the improvement in their build quality, it is now sometimes difficult to tell the difference between real and artificial trees.

Tinsel used to take over houses for decades with every colour you can think of and then took a downturn with some feeling it looked cheap and nasty, but is now having a revival; however, it’s best not to overuse it but just choose carefully where you feature it in your overall decorating scheme.

Decorating the exterior of your house used to only be for the rich; but is now becoming increasingly popular with decorations ranging from garish inflatable snowmen right up to lights that change colour across the house in time to music; and front gardens filled with reindeer and sleights.

It’s all about personal choice but there is no need to spend a fortune if you can’t afford to (or simply don’t wish to) as you can just take your inspiration from nature and get the kids involved. Take a walk in the local country park or forest and collect greenery, fir cones, berries etc and make your own wreaths, candle displays etc and have fun making craft creations as a family.

Do you prefer a modern clean and contemporary look to your Christmas decorating or do you prefer a traditional red and green colour scheme and hang family baubles on your tree and add to it year on year? We would love for you to share your photos with us of how you decorate your house at Christmas.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from the team at Building Tectonics Ltd!

Just think, no more Christmas wrapping paper everywhere, but if you are anything like me you might find tiny shreds of paper every so often due to all of the haphazard shaping and sizing of paper. You won’t have to worry about where the end of the sellotape is whilst frantically wrapping on the Christmas eve, nor will you have to think about everyone whom you are sending Christmas cards to, just in case you missed anyone.

Today, all of the planning and present buying, preparation and food shopping comes together. We hope that you all have a lovely day with your family/friends and everything goes to plan.

Tips for choosing the right builder.

Christmas is creeping up closer and closer, and so a lot of people across the country are going up into their attics, or voyaging into their cupboards and dusting off their decorations, bringing out the tree and getting tangled in tinsel.

Over the weekend the Tecton Centre got our tree out, and it is now by the door, welcoming people in with a wave of colour and light. It’s getting a bit more festive here, even the conversations with clients and builders are beginning to adopt a slightly more festive theme. Besides asking about how everyones christmas shopping is going, builders are saying that they have heard of some people who have chosen other builders based upon the fact that they gave an unrealistically short time frame in which they would finish the job, so that everything would be done and ready in time for Christmas.

Some builders will say this for the sole reason that it gets them the job, this doesn’t mean that they will stick to that time frame. A few will take the job on, and as Christmas approaches they are no closer to completing the job as promised. This scenario brings a saying to my mind – “if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is”. This quote can definitely be applied to the few builders who can make seemingly unrealistic promises. We would personally never work with any of this type of builder, but we have a list of builders who we have worked with in the past who have earned a good reputation from their past clientele.

Nobody likes to be messed around, even more so when you’re paying for a service, this is especially true when it is so close to Christmas and there are large sums of money involved. So that you can dodge being messed around, we have a few tips for you to bear in mind when on the hunt for a builder.

Ask around your friends and family for recommendations of builders who have done work to their properties. If someone you know and trust has had some work done by someone whom they are happy with, then you can trust that the builder will do a good job, and they’ll also be grateful for the recommendation. (Do not make the mistake of relying solely on this, just bear it in mind).

Ask at least three different builders to provide you with quotes for your work. Not only will this get you a better price, but it will give you an idea of the scope you should probably give your budget to plan for any extra costs which you may incur.

Produce a detailed description of what you want, and where you can, include detailed drawings. An easier route is to get an architectural firm such as ours to draw up plans for you, they will be to scale and so builders should be able to read them. Visual information is usually easier to read than a written description when it comes to work like this, written instructions can be open to interpretation whereas a detailed plan shows exactly what you would like.

Make sure that the quotes you get are for everything you would like done. We hope that these helpful hints will assist you with finding the right, reputable builder so that you don’t get messed around this Christmas.

Written by Jade Turney – Building Tectonics Ltd.

Merry Christmas!!

This is a special mid-week blog just to say Merry Christmas from everyone at Building Tectonics! Whether you’re inviting family and friends around, or being invited out yourself, we hope that you have a great time.