Curtains, blinds, poles and tracks. Getting the perfect look.


This week we talk to The Birch House curtain manufacturer and expert Carolyn Peyman about how to achieve the look you want with your curtains, poles tracks and blinds.

Carolyn explains how poles are a great feature, whereas tracks are more discreet, That poles are for hand drawn curtains whereas poles can be hand drawn, corded or electric. And just to confuse things, you can get tracks that look like poles which means you could then have the option or corded or electric too.

We discuss how curtain heading range from the simplest headings on curtain tape such as cartridge pleat, to more complex tape headings such as cottage top and puff ball headings, then onto hand sewn headings such as single, double and triple hand pleated, goblet pleats, box pleats, inverted pleats, relaxed double pleats, smocked headings, drop-over frills, and then onto sleek and elegant wave heading. Phew, best to see the instagram page to get your head round those!

Pelmets can give a beautiful finished look to a window, framing the curtains or blind, adding elegance and height.  It is also a great way to prevent light seepage above the curtain, and also to cover an unsightly track.

To achieve a minimal look with your window dressings, Carolyn suggests roman blinds as they are often a perfect solution for a minimal look. Roller blinds can also provide a very sleek unobtrusive look. 

For real minimalism, think about panel blinds which are inspired by Japanese paper walls. And if you want minimal but with curtains she recommends to go for a wave heading or a single pleat on a track or narrow pole.

Carolyn goes through the benefits and challenges of curtains from all their different sources, online  / ready made through to the custom made offerings from the likes of John Lewis and onto the skills and details available from you local curtain manufacturer.

To find out more information on Carolyn and The BirchHouse see her Instagram @The.BirchHouse or find her on Facebook under The Birch House.

For more information on this podcast and other episodes please visit and follow us on Instagram @EDDPodcast and Twitter @EDDpodcast

If you have enjoyed this episode please rate, review and subscribe as it helps other home owners design their happiness.

Photo credit Fable and Willow.

The Test it stage – How to snag your project

This week we talk to construction professional Siobhon Niles about the final stage of a project; The ‘Test It’ stage where you, your architect or your project manager will snag the work done by your contractor and sub contractors.

Siobhon has worked on building sites for over a decade but doesn’t hide the honest truth that if you don’t give the test it and snagging stage sufficient time, you are at a loss.

She talked about daylight being the most critical light there is. So you have to plan this in, if you need to wait until Saturday until you have the time to snag during the day, then make sure you plan this in.

Siobhon talks about acclimatisation, lots and lots of materials (we talked about vinyl flooring) needs time to settle in the environment it is going to be used.  If it is installed straight away there can be folds or creases in the installed product which you will identify during the snagging stage – so you can be creating a defect.

As mentioned by our expert Quantity Surveyor in the buy it stage podcast here, the programme is everything, so snagging is built in as the programme goes along and any acclimatisation is planned in too.  So snagging is not done ONLY right at the end, it’s part of the build process.  

‘The key is continuous snagging throughout the build, to each stage in the programme.’

Siobhon talks about how to use samples – having a physical example of what you are buying so you can test this against the finished installed product.  This helps take the emotion out of a snagging discussion as you can hold the sample up to the element which has been installed and it either matches or it doesn’t!

Siobhon also talks about the importance of having in place a performance specification (which would be covered in the design it stage where the specification is created) as you might think at the test it stage that an electrical or mechanical item isn’t right- you can go back to the spec to confirm what’s right and wrong. 

Communication with the builder / contractor is best in a list – with a photo.  Siobhon likes spreadsheets as it keeps all the comments in one place, a photo can be associated with the comment and (most importantly) the builder won’t get overwhelmed by 50 different messages over the course of multiple days.  Its far better to collate all comments and send them over for each area or product being snagged and then allow the time for those comments to be digested and responded to.  That time to capture items, send them and the time to respond should all be planned in the programme.

Siobhon recommends taking a steer from your contractor on any specific software or apps for snagging.  As there is a learning curve of how to use the software and your contractors time is best used on doing what they do best, your extension or refurb.  If you love a piece of particular software please ensure you include this requirement in your specification and design pack when you tender.  You can then find a contractor who will accept this from the start.

Finally Siobhon recognises how emotional this stage is, when you are tired and just want to move back in or simply get the builder out.  She recommends to take your time, not to rush and to remember that your contractor wants to do a good job and for you to be an ambassador for them.

For more information on this podcast and other episodes please visit and follow us on Instagram @EDDPodcast and Twitter @eddpodcast

If you have enjoyed this episode please rate, review and subscribe as it helps other home owners design their happiness.

What’s a Quantity Surveyor & how to Value Engineer your project.

This week we talked to the seasoned Quantity Surveyor Millie Lucas about the role of a QS in a renovation or extension project and what lessons we can learn from her years in the construction industry.

We start by learning that we are all capable of making minor omissions in the project but they can have expensive consequences!  The devil is in the detail and never take something just on word alone.

Millie describes how the Quantity Surveyor is the ‘purse strings’ of a project and they are obligated to work to get the best value for their client during the ‘Buy It’ Stage. (see here for a link to a short podcast on the 5 stages of a home renovation or extension project).

We go through the reasonable level of information to receive from your contractors Quantity Surveyor and Millie reminds us if there is no programme then it is likely that the costs have not been calculated accurately. 

We discuss the use of Gumtree, Freecycle and NextDoor to sell ‘left over’ materials, but we also talk about how to avoid this in the first place!

Millie spills her secrets on getting the best price through shopping around, going straight to the manufacturer and if possible getting your contractor to purchase it, as they might well have much stronger buying power than you.  And watch out for those fancy showrooms as that fancy thick brochure and free drinks are being added onto the cost of your product!

We cover What Value Engineering is, which is an elegant way of saying cost saving.  Millie tells us there are 3 fundamental ways to Value Engineer: assess if there is a better cost method of installing the item, a different and lower priced product or a reduction in the finish to a cheaper specification.

BUT Millie reminds us that we need to have conversations with the people we are doing the project, your partner or other home users.  The value engineer options are easy to come up with but, unless you know what each uses ‘need to and nice to’s’ are for the home design, you might cut something which you later lead to regret. We are trying to design happiness, not anger and animosity!

And remember, if you find that the project value is simply more than you can afford, even after value engineering, it isn’t that your dream won’t happen, it is just postponed until you can save the funds.

To find an independent QS please visit the professional bodies RICS and CIOB, if in doubt call up and have a chat about your project.

If you have enjoyed this episode please rate, review and subscribe as it helps other home owners design their happiness. 

Designing and installing a green roof

This week we talk green and living roofs with Chris Bridgman of Bridgman & Bridgman landscapes.

We learn that the terms living roof and green roof can be used interchangeably as they are both a roof which has living plant on it.  Sometimes they are called brown roofs when they are really dry and the plants appear to have died back, but Chris reassures us that, when installed correctly, they always spring back, thats the nature of the wonderful alpine sedum used.

Abi was quite surprised to hear that a green roof can go up to a 45 degree pitch, so aren’t just something to consider if you are planning a flat roof extension.  He also gave us the weight loads to consider – something which is always worth considering at the planning and designing stages of your project so you can made the simple structural design adjustments to accommodate the green roof of your choice.

We learn about the plant types and their individual maintenance requirements.  There are no green roofs which require zero maintenance, but they are very simple to manage compared to a garden, just 2 – 4 times a year, depending on the type you have.

Chris goes through the cost benefits of a green roof including thermal, prevention of wear and tear, acoustic, aesthetic and potentially even adds value to your home*

*This was not scientifically tested – Abi and Chris agreed we’d prefer a green roof and see it as a sight of a quality build.

But the most important take away was for you to tell your architect and builder as early in the process as possible, that you would like to consider a green roof.

For more information see GRO, the UK trade body where there are Green Roof specialists who are working in your area 

For more information on Chris and his company, please visit his website Gardens in the Sky and follow him on Instagram and Twitter

If you have enjoyed this episode please rate, review and subscribe as it helps other home owners design their happiness. 

Commissioning and Installing an outdoor sculpture


This week we talk to Paul Vanstone about the process of preparing for, planning and commission outdoor art.  As a veteran marble sculptor who sells and installs his pieces globally – Paul has lots of advice to dispense.  

We recorded this podcast at his atelier so thanks for understanding about some of the background noise.

Paul gives us great advice about the confidence and trust in the artist to commission a piece.  He gives us examples of the process he goes through with clients and encourages the listeners to be involved in the process.

The three top tips for putting a sculpture outdoors are:

1) Selection of the space / Location – he uses different size cardboard cut outs (which he calls his Monty Python process) to try the pieces in different locations.  the different size pieces help to get the scale correct.

2) Ground work / base preparation – make the supportive ground structure bigger than the base of the piece.  When it finally comes in you might find it looks better a couple of feet to the left.  The additional footings are minimal in cost to give you that ability to adjust.

3) Plan the sculpture in conjunction with your gardener / landscape architect so the two work together -the sculpture should be put in when the garden is ready, which might be well before the plants go in, or at the point of landscaping because this is the best access moment. 

Paul talks about how to commission something new – if the exact piece you want isn’t available or you want something bespoke, the timescales for doing this and the communication during this process.

And finally we talk about budget – how you think about and talk about the cost of art.  This isn’t a comfortable conversation for everyone, but Paul is very honest about how and when you have those conversations and how the artist might be able to help you tweak the piece, it’s size or base material, to help bring the sculpture into your budget.

At this time of year Paul would normally be at the Royal Horticulture Society’s annual Chelsea Flower Show – which has been cancelled due to Covid, but as his atelier is outdoors, he is still able to work and is open to customers.  

Paul can be contacted via his website or on instagram @Paulvanstonesculptures

For more information on this podcast and other episodes please visit and follow us on Instagram @EDDPodcast and Twitter @EDDPodcast  

If you have enjoyed this episode please rate, review and subscribe as it helps other home owners design their happiness. 

Architect vs Contractor vs Builder – a guide.

This week we talk (via Skype – sorry for the quality at times!) to Construction Professional Brigitte Clements, Managing partner of Loki-Architecture, an Architectural Development practice operating in the UK.

We cover the difference in the different jobs, Architect, Contractor and Builder, when there is cross over and what you get from each of them.

We discussed the importance of legal Party Wall agreements; more information can be found on the UK Government website   and look out for our future podcast with a legal expert on this and other potential property dispute matters!

We talk about help architects can offer at the research stage, but advised us to use your local authority planning portal to look at local planning and building regulation advice and also to see what has been approved and rejected locally.

Brigitte was very open about the way she charges.  If you are interested in finding an architect for your project, take Brigitte’s advice and ask for recommendations.  If you can’t find anyone locally check the RIBA website for registered architects in your area.  But go with someone you like and who you feel understands you and your project, As Brigitte says – “building work in an emotional endeavour!” 

Pinterest again came up as a favourite repository for research and inspirational ideas, but we also received the advice to take a photo of something you like – even if it isn’t something you specifically want in your home – it helps your construction professionals understand you and your project.

And finally – we got some great advice: “If you think a professional is expensive, wait until you find out how much an amateur costs you!”

Brigitte can be contacted through her practice website and she is also on LinkedIn under Brigitte Clements and on Instagram as

The 5 steps of a home renovation project

The 5 steps of a home renovation or extension project – how the professional do it.

Are you thinking about extending or renovating your home?  Do you want to make sure the end product is perfect for your lifestyle, personality and taste? In this weeks podcast, Every Day Design host and Technical Design Expert, Abigail Hall, takes you through the 5 easy stages.

They are:

  • Plan it
  • Design it
  • Buy it
  • Build it
  • Test it.

Listen to the episode to find out what deliverable you should have at the end of each section and subscribe for future episodes where Abigail talks to industry professionals about how to get the most out of each stage.  

If you have any questions please email and please subscribe so you don’t miss an episode. 

Episode 12: Water

It’s not quite been a long hot summer – but Abigail and Rachel have been reflecting on the importance of water. It’s also been a busy month or two… so while this was recorded in June we’re releasing it in July. We’ll be taking the rest of the summer ‘off’ (but do you ever REALLY stop thinking about design???) but hopefully will put up a short special to celebrate our 1 year anniversary of Every Day Design – the Podcast.

This Month I:

Abigail has been ‘turning left’. She went to the silent march which commemorated the second anniversary of the Grenfell Tower Tragedy. This march happens monthly, but this was a larger community event. Which has led to quite a lot of thoughts on the nature of community, place and a sense of belonging.

12 Grenfell March

Rachel went to Persephone Books on Lamb’s Conduit Street – this amazing bookstore dedicated to republishing mid-20th century women authors. There was a wonderful write up of the bookstore in the New York Times.

On this particular pilgrimage Rachel bought Consider the Years a collection of poetry by Virginia Graham. One poem in particular – The Bridge, St James Park – captured Rachel’s imagination and reminded her of another favourite by Wendell Berry – The Peace of Wild Things.

Good Design / Bad Design

Faux Grass? Love? Hate? While no one can argue the convenience, there is the downside of it getting hot in summer and adding more plastic to the eco system. But what are the other solutions?

12 easigrass

Should we lean into the low growing plants or moss? But is it hardy enough for a dog?

12 low plants

Rachel has reached the limits of her love for Farrow and Ball. Having done an entire podcast on the joys of these particular paints – there is apparently a time and a place for these paints. The key here is that the ‘modern’ emulsion cannot be touched up – because the sheen doesn’t quite match up. While it’s wipeable, it’s not touch-upable. So while it’s great for bathrooms and kitchens, the stairwell has not really held up so well. We reached out to Farrow and Ball and they have sent us this helpful F_B Advice Sheet – but confirmed that the recommended approach is to do a whole new coat rather than ‘touch in’.


What’s the first image that comes to you mind when you think about water in design?

For Rachel, she’s always thinking about how cities were designed around water ways – following the course of rivers. Whereas Abigail is far more into the engineered waterways.

Fountains Fountains Fountains! They have become increasingly popular as public art installations and a great way of animating space and gathering people together in cities. But there’s a huge amount of engineering that sits behind these seemingly simple features.

From the incredible fountain at Witley Court, to the Bellagio, to Granary Square in Kings Cross, London – these are places that can bring you both respite and joy.

London is a city literally built around and over water. Both in terms of the Thames, but also London’s lost rivers – which Rachel’s brilliant friend Tom has written about in his book. But fountains aren’t just for playing in, they are also for drinking from. In fact the whole history of urban planning can (loosely) be tied back to water fountains. We paid a visit to Victoria Tower Gardens and reflected on the history of public water fountains.


Victoria Tower Gardens – gave us some pause for thought – the pavillion in the centre is an incredible piece of Victorian public infrastructure with the lions’ head water fountains in the centre. Just across the way you can see another disused water fountain, and the modern equivalent selling bottled water and coffee.

Rachel and Abigail also reflected on their local water sources, the brook of Brook Green and the New River both feats of engineering that you can get to from our homes simply by turning left…

12 new river
Ducks on the New River in Finsbury Park