How to transform your city dwellings into a relaxing country abode? How can you be town mouse and country mouse, without even moving house?
As some of you know my folks live on the outskirts of London in Surrey. It's always a wonderful retreat for me coming from Clapham to take Charlie and enjoy the idyllic trappings of the countryside.
Especially whilst I'm out here in one of the most serene and tranquil of settings in Bali. I've began to really embrace my surroundings, often made from materials provided by the local jungles.
When I get back I'm going to be looking to bring a part of the countryside with me and in this article I wanted to share some of my ideas on how to make your city home, into your country retreat.
Install a Wood Burning Stove
A wood burning and multi-fuel stove can be quite a process to install if you live in the city. Like most things in London, home renovation can be an endless game of checks and measures.
By the time winter rolls around in the UK and you finally take the plunge, you could be too late to the game. You need to take into consideration site visits, the potential of structural work, chimney surveys and sweeping etc the whole process from start to finish can be a lengthy process.
That said, like Dolly Parton would say, 'You can't have the rainbow without the rain'. I'd love to fast track 7 months from now and be curling up to a Wood Burning Stove with Charlie, fresh from a quick brisk run around Clapham Common.
So what are the restrictions of installing a Wood Burning Stove?
I've been doing some digging. There are certain smoke-control restrictions that need to be considered before any stove installation.
Firstly you need a DEFRA approved stove. DEFRA, short for Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra) need to put their seal of approval on all wood burning stoves to ensure they meet the criteria for emission levels.
A DEFRA approved stove provides the minimum level of combustion air so that wood burns efficiently without producing unnecessary smoke.
I've taken a look at the Defra Approved stoves from Arada Stoves who are the sponsor of the article. I might need your help as I'm between getting a contemporary cassette installation with an integrated log system or a classic freestanding style.
That's probably the most middle class I've ever sounded. But do check out the Arada Stoves, who are working to create the most eco-conscious and smoke-reduced appliances on the market.
Repurposed Suitcase Dressers
Old trunk or suitcase dressers just scream 'character' to me. I used to own a suitcase. It was a suitcase not a satchel and I'd take it to school with me when I was little. It had my Fathers initials on it. The rest of my mates would laugh, but I just loved that old leather suitcase.
You can really improvise with old suitcases. I'm a dog owner, I'm thinking I could hollow one out for Charlie and his bed will now become a feature for the house.
Alternatively you could make bunkbeds from the bottom draw of the suitcase. Perfect little nesting spots for cats. Introducing a pet into the home will really bring the countryside, inside! Pets are proven to reduce stress levels, a much needed device for city folk that need to decompress within their own four walls.
Replace the Digital with the Analogue
When you have something in your home that brings echoes of nostalgia with it, then it changes the timbre of the room. The ambiance has shifted. Vinyl players and typewriters are great retro instruments that transport you away from the tech-led world in which us city folk have become so dependent on.
Analogue devices in place of digital and contemporary are more aligned with life outside of the city. That's not to say country folk aren't tech savvy, but typically the country life is catered around utility and space. Not design. We need digital in the city as we're not blessed with a tonne of square footage.
Find a way of introducing an archaic element. Maybe a Citrus Hand press in place of that mutli-function blender?
You can't forget the Hammock
I'm putting together quite the list of creature comforts.
I've got my wood burning stove as the main feature.
I've peppered the interiors with reclaimed wood furnishings, repurposed suitcases and tables.
I've added elements of analogue instruments.
Now it's time to introduce the hammock. Can it work in such a small space? Sure check out the image below. You can introduce a hammock anywhere into the house as it's such a cool design feature.
These are just some of my initial ideas for reshaping those city walls and breathing some life into an ordinarily uniformed space. I've been to friends’ houses in the city that look so clinical. It's almost as if they're afraid to hang a painting on a wall.
If you're really looking to have your room look more zen then please stretch further than those glib empty calorie signs that say 'Love Life, Laugh'. They do nothing to enliven a space. Have something unusual. Be creative.
Buy an upright piano, remove the casing from the harp and thread fairy lights through the piano wires. No one’s done that yet right? Exactly. How many people do you know in the city that own a wood burning stove? Exactly. Think different, be different, act different.
*This paid post was sponsored by Arada Stoves.