Let's talk Bamboo flooring

Now, if I said Bamboo flooring to you,  I've got a good idea what you might think. In fact it might be close to my first thoughts. Something like this maybe:

Thinking about it more I couldn't see any reason why bamboo couldn't be used for flooring, as I know it's a tremendously versatile material. I mean I have a couple of summer dresses made from bamboo, and instead of the stiff, hard fabric you'd imagine they are unbelievably soft. And remember those bamboo beach mats that were an essential holiday item? Well they're flexible and light too aren't they. 

So until I looked into this more, and browsed around the Ambient Bamboo Flooring site, I'd assumed that bamboo flooring would be a soft floor covering. It turns out I couldn't have been more wrong, as they are said to be three times harder than traditional wood floors, but with the same look and feel. 

The stranded flooring is so resilient because of the way it's made.  The bamboo strands are torn apart and then fused together using intense heat and pressure. And the strength increases if the strands are laid in a cross pattern, which makes sense even to my non technical brain.

So if it's strong, what does it look like?

That was the next question forming in my head. And no doubt yours. But I was pleasantly surprised there too. There's plenty of examples on their site and even as I was beginning to expect to be surprised, I was. 

It can be installed over many types of existing flooring, including concrete. And as bamboo's a fast grower - I can vouch for that if it's anything like the bamboo in my garden - the plants regrow in less than ten years, which is fast compared to seventy years for comparable hardwoods. It starts to make you think doesn't it?

So having not heard of Bamboo floorings before, suddenly I've found myself intrigued by it and wondering why it's not in use more. And then I thought, maybe it is and we just don't know it...

 

This is a collaborative post but all views and opinions are my own.

What your coffee table says about you

It sits there in your sitting room – a repository for your glossy mags, half-drunk cups of coffee and your favourite Yankee candle of the minute. But in reality it’s oh so much more than that. Because, according to US interior designer Martyn Lawrence-Bullard, your coffee table will also reveal to ‘those in the know’ whether you’re an anxious type, brimming with confidence or verging on the OCD. 

Yes, your simple little coffee table is actually your everyday psychologist’s best friend. That’s because in his latest er, coffee table tomb, titled Live, Love & Decorate Lawrence-Bullard claims our central sitting room piece is also an indicator of our personality.

Now before you go and tidy it up, do read on to see which of the these superstars you identify with:

Cher

Your coffee table has an Asian design influence to it – although not that you’d notice really because you’ve so many ornaments piled on top of it. (In Cher’s case, it’s Buddha and a certain Japanese look.) You like to keep things busy but not cluttered.

Photo credit:  ArchitecturalDigest.com

Actress Julia Sorkin

It’s the first thing visitors see when then enter your sitting room. That’s because it’s so elaborate and dramatic it screams ‘look at me!’ As a result there’s not much in the way of books or ornaments covering up this beauty’s good looks. If you have a coffee table like this you’re pretty much happy with whom you are and you don’t care who knows it. The Mensa coffee table with its plywood base would fit the bill:

Photo credit:  Lazerian.com

Photo credit: Lazerian.com

Supermodel Cheryl Tieg

Simplicity and sophistication are the bywords here. Cheryl’s table is black gloss. She has a vase and books on it but nothing too distracting. If this is your type of table then you like to keep life nice and simple. At the same time though you still want to stand out. Its good looks with a modern twist. Just like Ultra Swivel coffee table in fact:

Photo credit:  Fishpools.co.uk

Photo credit: Fishpools.co.uk

Trudie Styler

Her two matching coffee tables are the focal points of Trudie’s room. The sofas and modern art works are all alluded to by the tables which sit slap bang in the centre of the room craving attention. If you look closely you’ll see there’s sand on them too. Having coffee tables like this means you’re an extrovert who likes being the centre of attention and refuses to go with the flow. 

Photo credit:  Architecturaldigest.com

Meanwhile, other favourite coffee table styles doing the rounds right now and which we’ve no doubts have found their way into celebs homes in recent years includes:

Photo credit:  Holyfunk.com.au

Photo credit: Holyfunk.com.au

The industrial recycled coffee table which indicates you’re a bit on the thrifty side and an eco-lover at the same time.

Photo credit:  hayneedle.com

Photo credit: hayneedle.com

This Gustavian-style shabby chic coffee table shows you’re a contented individual with a calm outlook and sense of propriety.

Meanwhile, if you’re already hooked on coffee table psychology you might want to know what those glossy coffee table books say about you…

 

This is a collaborative post with Fishpools -  the South East's largest quality furniture store.

Creating an Al Fresco Dining Area

This summer my plan was to use the barbecue more than the oven and while the jury's still out on whether I did or not, it also meant that we planned (and mostly managed) to eat outside too. I mean after giving these chairs a revamp, I had to use them didn't I?

Eating outdoors is one of life’s little pleasures, so whether your space is large or small, your focus should be on making the most of it. Don’t rule out outdoor dining if you only have a small space rather than an extensive garden; make the space work for you and you’ll be grateful of the extra ‘room’.

The dining area

Tables and chairs work better on patio or decking, which is great news if you do have a paved area only. Rattan furniture wears well and as such remain many people’s go-to choice for outdoor furniture. Long tables and matching benches made from reclaimed wood are becoming more popular as people look to make garden parties less formal. If you’re worried how your garden furniture will stack up against the weather be sure to treat any wood and cover with a protector when not in use.  If you’re space poor you could choose a table that folds up against a wall, many of these come with storage space for chairs underneath too.

If you have room, having an outdoor ‘bar’ can be a nice touch. This could be as simple as a table laid out with ready-filled plastic wine glasses or colourful jugs of cocktails. If you’re more of a wine drinker, think about buying a few wine cooler stands so that you don’t have to keep popping back in doors to the fridge. Purchasing from an industry specialist like Lockhart Catering or Nisbets is a good way to find these a little cheaper than you would on the high street, particularly if you’re ordering a few.

If you are working with a small area, easy access indoors with bi-fold doors can help open the space up and give you extra room. Creativedoors design bi-fold doors with wooden finishes that blend in better with your garden compared to other plastic styles. 

And remember it's not always warm (as if you need reminding after the last week) so we won’t always have the weather to complement the Spanish villa vibe you might be aiming for. Think about adding a good-sized umbrella to provide cover for your table area and if you have space, a gazebo gives you a reason not to go indoors if it rains a little.

The cookery kits

You might be yearning to build your own pizza oven or smoker and for those with the room (and time) there are kits out there to help you construct what amounts to your own outdoor restaurant. Thankfully, there are also a lot of temporary options too, so if you’re space and time poor, smoking kits that sit on top of the barbecue or smoking guns are great gourmet gadgets. Pizza stones used on top of the barbecue will help you tap into that fresh-baked taste too and for a fraction of the cost and effort. This video from Weber shows how their pizza stone, which retails for around £50, can be used on even small barbecues.
If you’d prefer not to be away from your visitors tending the barbecue, you might want to explore the idea of using barbecue tables like this one from Jamie Oliver which allows guests to grill their own food. Fondue kits are another great social sharing food option that are perfect for outdoor occasions, and the host!

Setting the scene

Making your outdoor space look party ready in the evening can be as simple as hanging strings of solar fairy lights to frame your garden or yard, though citronella candles will help you keep insects at bay. For daytime dining think about using the natural features of the space – flowers are very decorative after all. If you really don’t have time to garden, check out these pre-planted hanging baskets from Garden Wants. Consider comfort beyond the outdoor table and think about adding a fire pit or Chimenea for guests to gather around in the evening when things get cooler, and don't forget to keep blankets to hand too.

So, as the barbecue season draws to an end - or has it? - what were your successes? For me, it was delegating the cooking to MOH and that cauliflower cooked in foil with butter, seasoning and some Parmesan. Delicious!

 

This is a collaborative post.