Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Building in NZ - Window treatments and other interior design decisions

I had no idea how much I needed to budget for a house lot of window dressings so I asked people
down the street that I met on my walks, what their experiences had been. Many were so strapped for money at that point of the build they had gone super-budget with businesses like the Curtain Studio - ready-made drapes. The custom drapes were much more pricey yet the fabric choices remained limited. I decided to stay away from the usual suppliers and do a lot of the sourcing myself. In the end I got a house lot for a medium price; practical window treatments that are unique.

As part of the build contract my builder had given me a consultation with an interior design company. I already had pretty clear ideas of the sort of things I wanted and didn't want and had already purchased my main curtain material which they could not access. Well done Millers Homeworld for your prompt service in ordering in material from the UK. They made it easy and they kept me in the loop.

It was  useful to test my ideas against those of the design experts. They confirmed my paint colours would work and suggested velvet drapes in the two bedrooms. These are becoming more in vogue and work very well. Different weights and prices are available. I already had my bed linen organised so my colour palette was pretty much predetermined. This was the fun part for me. I would never have left this to the professionals or I might have ended up with black and white like most new-builds.

I thought I would have liked shutters - all the rage - but they were much too expensive for me and they block a good portion of the window space so I chose wood-look blinds. They aren't wood so they are light and supposed to be UV-stabilised but keep in mind that there are size limits. Decide if you want cord or chain operation. I chose chain because cord gets grubby from your hands very quickly. I didn't want metal Venetian blinds as I am after a soft European/French look, keeping in mind my house IS a modern kiwi house with French embellishments.

My lighting consists mostly of French-style chandeliers, taking advantage of a 2.7m stud. Anything shorter than that height means you can't have a decent chandelier.

Don't be afraid to use colour. I wanted a couple of feature wallpaper walls in my house but couldn't afford that so opted for a strong paint colour on one. It really adds style and anchors everything else that tones in. If I came into a better financial situation I could always add wallpaper later.
Some folks are trying the new Italian interior plastering effects. These look great but were too expensive for me. My dollars had to go on a decent hearth for my logfire. My contract stipulated a logfire but said nothing about a hearth so I found myself realising towards the end of the build that I would have an unexpected and not inconsiderable extra expense. Those guys get booked up solid so finding the right tiles and especially a good and available tiler at short notice can be challenging.

The kitchen door was a challenge. How could I aesthetically cover it and still be practical for trips to and from the vegetable garden? A roman blind does the trick, especially in harrow spaces. It also introduced the main patteern into the other end of this large living space.

I'm into recycling things I love from France. My bedsit in Rambouillet was on the ground floor of Louis the XVI's locksmith's house (Monsieur Dablin). Consequently it had an extremely high ceiling and windows. I had found some unlined cheery shot silk orange taffeta curtains at a DIY store the curtains then followed me to my next abode and eventually back to NZ. Possessed of several curtains I used two for the main window in my office and had the third transformed into a roman blind for the narrow window in the room. They look great, even though they had to be shortened for my 2.7m stud. I planted Remember Me rose outside the window to carry the shot colours out into the garden.

One of the advantages of having an interior design business do your window treatments is that they get materials cheaper and this offsets their prices so you end up with a nicely coordinated look for little more. My consultants had a workroom which meant I could easily get cushions custom-made with piping from off cuts of the materials I had bought.

I changed the dining nook into a library by getting joiners in to install shelving and a long window seat where I could read and look out on my roses and lavender. The seat lifts up and supplies great storage. However, I needed my interior design consultant to organise a squab for it. She couldn't find a suitable material so I had to do that. I found I was getting pretty good at finding things that worked together.

Consider the view outside each room. What colours do you want to see in your plantings? Don't forget you might need some photos or artworks for your walls. The budget pressures never seem to stop and in my case, I didn't have enough furniture for a three-bed home so some had to be ordered. I waited for sales, suppressing my impatience at having to wait months in order to get things cheaper.

This was a six-month build. Most things went smoothly but I did have to keep a close eye on things. The worst week of the entire build was waiting for Selwyn District Council inspector to get on with his paperwork after final inspection. I was left in anxious limbo unnecessarily worried about whether I could actually move in, if so, what about the validity of house and contents insurance as many insurers will not insure unless you have your Code of Compliance paperwork. I didn't get that until days after I moved in and after my builder went around to the Council to try to sort out the holdup. In the end we had to await the pleasure of the Council staff.

There only remains to talk about landscaping next post. A significant part of your budget.


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