Dom-Ino House Project

 

wide with antique backgroundThis brief was to design a second home for the installation artist Olafur Eliasson.  The site is situated at the top of a tranquil gully in the Avon Gorge with a steep drop off, and amazing views down to the River Avon.  Having lived in and around Bristol for many years, I had no idea that this secret place existed, and took the theme of secrecy as a key inspiration for the project.  The house architecturally is based on Le Corbusier’s Dom-Ino house structure – slab walls, pilotis columns and a staircase.  This allows for multiple choices as to where walls and windows can be placed.

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My client is known for his works with light, colour and creating new perceptions of views, so this was all considered in the design of the home.  I wanted to create a space for him that is a live/work studio, with distinctive private and public spaces.  Eliasson is half Icelandic, so this is referenced as well in the use of turf on the roof of the house – a nod to the ancient Icelandic buried hill houses.

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The design embeds the house into the cliff, so that from the northern approach you do not even know there is a house there.  It is only when you are standing on top of the roof that you realise there is a staircase descending into the house.  There is a 1m meter space around the house within the carved out space in the cliff,  so it lets light fall from pierced walkways above and feed natural light into the house.

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My client is passionate about ecology and sustainability, so external building materials used in the house include rammed earth walls, hempcrete, recycled glass and turf.  Then structure is concrete, but uses the most ecologically available mixture made from 70% recycled slag furnace waste.

The entrance into the house is by moving down the stairwell, these have a pierced wall system designed to create spots of light in the sunshine which move across the space as the sun moves overhead.  Mirrored stainless steel walls create strong reflections and further bounce light through the stairwell.

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The studio space is on the first floor and is open plan, with a kitchen area concealed behind sliding doors.  A ceiling grid allows for maquettes to be hung up out of the way.  The furniture is all on castors so the room can be reconfigured as an office / studio / dining room /exhibition space.  An oculus window was designed to distort the view looking in and out into the gully.  Along the mainly glazed south facing wall are a system of internal glass sliding panels in colours which can be moved to create new perspectives and views of the valley beyond.

Studio Visualisation

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The floor below is a personal space for my client where he can relax and sleep.  A large balcony creates an exterior entertaining space with a system of textural glass screens.  The interior is a neutral and calm space with natural textures.  A fireplace pierces the wall so it can be accessed both inside and outside.

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The final level is a secret place that only my client can access. An internal jib door is concealed behind a bookcase, and opens to reveal stairs leading to a sub level.  This is open air, but protected from wind and rain by the house above it.  Pilotis were raised to 2m to create this space.  Here my client has an outdoor kitchen, decks, a dance floor (he was the Swedish champion in breakdancing for 2 years running!), and a luxurious wood fired Swedish hot tub so he can use it all year round and enjoy the views.

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Finished Model-ALL PLANS

This project entailed the learning of CAD for the first time, and material testing with fabrication of glass, concrete, hempcrete and rammed earth samples.

 

 

How a pot of paint can cause chaos…

In the last couple of weeks I decided to repaint my sitting room.  It has been the same colour for ages, and I felt an update was in order.  I am getting very drawn to orange at the moment, and as the room has a lot of light and high ceilings, I felt that it could take a dark tone and create a different feel to the existing colour.  This is the room as it was…

It was originally painted in Drab, a now discontinued Farrow & Ball paint.  I chose a strong orange by Valspar called Storybook Sundown to replace it.  I have orange elsewhere in the room in the rug, upholstery and cushions and this colour complimented them the best…

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So with 5 litres I started to paint.  You  know that moment when you think ‘Hmm, not sure if I am liking this…?”, well it came pretty soon after the first coat.  I have been so used to the previous colour and this is so out of my comfort zone that I started to to think I had made a mistake.  But I decided to continue to see what would happen.

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BUT… once it was done I loved it.  Really vibrant, rich and cocooning.

Now this is where the chaos started… when I say chaos I mean a nuclear chain of events starting from the initial one pot of paint.   My sofa now looked really insipid against all of the other bright colours.  The room needed something stronger/darker in colour/tone to work with these walls.  The current sofa is a Wesley Barrell Knole, and cost a huge amount when purchased.  It is quite tired now and has been an old faithful for over a decade, so I thought this would be the time to revamp it.  Investigations into re-upholstering it revealed it costs as much if not more to do as getting a new sofa.  The seat cushions alone cost £500 for new inserts, not to mention 15m of fabric and upholstery costs.

Egged on by my daughter we set out to find a new sofa.  On my wish list the main priority was NEVER HAVING TO EVER PLUMP ANOTHER CUSHION AGAIN.  This has been the bane of my life with sofas, and actually if I add the hours spent doing it I could have learnt a new language or trekked across a country instead.  So number one priority was a sprung seat and back sofa.

Research then ensued; size, shape, fabric, finish, durability… The internet is great for hunting, but I want to see them in the flesh too and sit on them to see if they are comfortable.  A bit like Goldilocks and her chairs – too firm, too soft or just right?  A sofa is a big expense as well, so once a shortlist had been made we set off in the car on a sofa bouncing mission.

Stop one was a high street store that had not been on my wish list, but was on the way to another shop.  As we mooched about I spotted the perfect sofa; sprung, buttoned and available in the fabric I wanted. It was in DFS, is called the Trafalgar and is a modern version of the chesterfield with buttoned seat and back, plus proper springing.  The shape is more angular than the traditional rounded chesterfield but that is why it looks so nice.

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The detailing is lovely, with upholstery studs along the front:

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But this colour is too pale and I wanted a richer more textural fabric.  And voila, in their books I found:

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The perfect velvet; not shiny like a lot of modern versions but lustrous and deepest black.  And so reader, I ordered one.. and it comes in about 6 weeks to reface the old faithful Knole sofa (which incidentally is going to a very good home where it will be loved  for many more years).

So that was Chaos Element No 1.  This pot of paint has now cost me a new sofa.. but it doesn’t end there.  I like the idea of adding in more black to define the room, so black lampshades have now been ordered for the lamps around the room in black, and passementerie trimmings have been ordered to jazz them up.  That’s Chaos Element No 2.

On top of that I have now started hunting for new curtains to add more drama and tie up the room visually as the current ones are lovely, but look quite pale now compared to the other colours going on in the room, and that’s a 10ft tall bay window to negotiate as a starter.  Not something you can use readymades on easily… so let’s call that Chaos Element No 3.  I’m thinking watered black silk puddling on the floor would be a bit special…

With that I will sign off, as I need to plan how to create these curtains on a budget, but so they don’t look it.  All this from just one pot of paint…

 

 

Finally… The Bathroom is now finished.

During a very hot week 3 of us were crammed into the very small bathroom as it was refurbished. My plumbers valiantly ripped out and refitted, and I hovered a lot and worked in the evenings on redecorating it.

Here are the finished pictures.. much fresher, no more leaks and hopefully it will stand up to a few years of use well..

New W.C., wall tiles, boxed in plumbing, flooring, lights, taps, mirrored cabinet and sink cabinet:

The scratched and stained bath and shower curtain were replaced with a new steel bath and clear pivoting glass screen:

The walls got fresh bathroom paint and new flooring was laid:

My daughter can change accent colours with towels and accessories. This lovely vintage window pane came from The Beehive in Devizes:

The sink, cupboard and taps came from Victorian Plumbing and add useful storage with mixer taps with ceramic discs on lever handles. These are chrome with ebony levers. The simple large rectangular tiles have dark grey grout that won’t discolour with age, and are a welcome change from the bevelled metro tiles which are currently in most bathrooms.

This wire storage unit fits neatly in a corner and adds some more storage in the room and a little bit of an industrial vibe.

I am really pleased with how it came out, especially given the tiny size of the room. There was no way if reconfiguring the layout, which did save money as I did not have to move services, but I had to measure everything over and over to make sure it would fit as well as create much needed storage.

This was what I would call a low budget bathroom, as I sourced fixtures and fittings from suppliers direct, which saved a large amount of money than if I had bought from high street stores. Plus I did all of the decorating and flooring. But I think it looks far more expensive than it actually cost, so I am very pleased as a result… 🙌

Bathroom Revamp Planning

My daughter lives in a flat in London, and recently informed me that the bath tap had died a sorry death.  So it’s my job to fix it as the landlady.  The current fixture and fittings are a bit worse for wear, with inherited items like a cracked sink, warped bath panel, a wobbly lit mirror and a hair dye splattered bath.  To fix the bath tap meant pulling out the bath panel as well as a lot of joinery, so it made more sense to just rip out the whole lot and start again with a fresh new set of fittings.  When she moved into the flat we gave the room a lick of paint as seen below, but it really needs a whole new lotta loving…

The room is very small, with no daylight, but good ventilation installed already.  There is an extruding section of wall along one side, which hiders the ventilation and electrics, and at the base of this wall is also the run of pipes which are boxed in.  The room size is 2.2 x 1.6 m, so there are no real changes of layout possible, and I do not want to start moving plumbing and soil stacks as it is a) costly and b) does not offer me another choice of layout.

We did think about replacing the bath with a large shower, but I think this can be off-putting for resale.  So we have kept the layout, and will just have much nicer fixtures and fittings to revamp.  I have found a builder who comes highly rated, and am planning to work to the following style; clean lines, quite retro, much needed storage, a grey/white/black palette and better lighting.  The current sink has separate taps with scorching hot water, so a mixer tap will be used to stop scalding.

Tiles will be sized 600×300 simple glazed white, with grey grouting and set full height around the bath,  a mouldy shower curtain will be replaced with a fixed glass shower screen and we will introduce more oomph with dark walls as the lighting will be much better after the revamp.  Colour can be introduced with accessories, and I think it will be a lovely room when finished… small but perfectly formed.

Updates will come as it progresses… Fingers crossed it all goes well…🤞

Clerkenwell Design Week

This past week has been the industry hotbed that is Clerkenwell Design Week.  I spent a day perusing the offerings, and some of these products caught my eye:

LIGHTING:

The lighting show was held in Fabric nightclub, which meant that they could be displayed brilliantly.  There were a lot of ‘repeat’ concrete shades around, but a few designs stood out:

 

This beautiful light by Lomas Furniture has a shade of pierced ceramic and looks like the moon…

More lighting which caught my eye came from Pad Home.  This was totally organic in shape, made from cardboard and reminded me of large wasps nests (in a beautiful way)…

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CERAMICS:

I found some gorgeous surface textures at Solus, some were slate with what looked like lasered patterns on them:

 

They also had gorgeous 3D hexagonal tiles, and can supply simple ones in a huge range of colours.

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BATHROOMS:

The highlight of my visit was finding this sink, however the price tag is eye watering .. it is the Brockway by KOHLER.

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It comes as 1/2 or 3 tap sizes, and reminds me of a cattle trough.  Prices in the UK where I can find it are £2K plus, so maybe not for now… I am devastated!  Maybe I can convert a real cattle trough instead?

 

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I also saw this beautiful building in Clerkenwell, it looks like Fred Flintstone built it with rough hewn stone frontage in areas.  Absolutely smitten!

A Year of Learning…

So being a busy-bee student has definitely been a real adventure this academic year… but what a blast and I love every minute of it.

Next week I get my final crit from Tutors for my latest project.  I have been charged to design a Pavilion (full on Architecture style, from fixings to weights to construction), a bar to go in it, and do it all within a Grade I* listed site so absolutely no touching of the fabric of the building etc.  I am finding that I have a bit of Brutalist slant to my work, which is very surprising given the chaotic clutter which I live in (and love)…

I realised I have not posted any work on here since I started back at Uni, so here’s a few bits and bobs I have done this year to prove why I have had no social life, sleep or spare time to post much… 🙂

Semester 1:  Theatre Design & Product Design

Here I started out learning about Orthographics and site surveys.  Basically if you do this type of drawing by hand, JUST as you reach the end of a drawing your hand slips and you have to either scalpel off the ink, or more usually START AGAIN…Gah!  My tutor also is an architect, and knows if I am on a 0.01 or 0.1 pen so you can’t make any mistakes as he’ll know.

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I started to learn how to make scale models.  This is something I love doing, and think I am like Gulliver but maybe with more fumbly fingers and a tendency to superglue myself to small things…PORTFOLIO MASTER COPY 4 UPLOAD copy8

My next challenge was to design a theatre installation inside a beautiful Medieval Hall showing an excerpt of a scene from Macbeth.  This is where the brutalist streak started coming through I think… why try and complete with 600 year old carvings, go the opposite way….!  I also made films as part of the design as that is something I used to do in the past for a living, and this design had no budget attached so I went all out for it…

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The next project was to design a piece of modular furniture to be used in a travelling exhibition planned for the first ‘Martian House’.  This will be a pod designed a bit like the Antarctic science stations for prolonged living on the red plant in 2030.  I was asked to focus on wellbeing and health, so came up with a multipurpose item that becomes  amongst other things gym parts with added games to spice up what will be probably be a very dull life on Mars…

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Semester 2/3:  Staircase / Pavilion & Bar Design

I had to present a project on the design of a staircase by a notable architect, (right down to delivering a correctly scaled model).  I was given one by the architect Santiago Calatrava, one with NO KNOWN MEASUREMENTS ANYWHERE, which resulted in me travelling to Basel in Switzerland tape measure in hand.  But I measured the thing and managed to build the model to scale.

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Below is my last project this year, and I will know if I have been slayed by the end of June (gulp)….  I have worked myself to the bone in this one, and cannot even begin to count the hours/days/weeks/months it has taken…

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What have I learnt?

Less is More and document everything!  I have to justify and be accountable for every minute detail, right down to fixings and screws.  I have also had to learn a huge amount of new digital skills as presentation boards are so vital; Photoshop, Rhino, Sketchup, Illustrator, Lightworks, CAD and so on.  My iCloud storage is huge already as a result and I have over 11,000 photos on my phone….

I have also learnt brilliant practical skills; steam bending, digital fabric printing, woodwork, welding, plasma metal cutting, textiles, ceramics, 3D printing, laser cutting, fabric manipulation, resin and jesmonite techniques, and more.  I have learnt the (new) ways of digital studio shooting in photography, (I am so vintage that I did my first degree in photography on film, and digital did not even exist!).  The fabrication facilities are amazing at my University and the technical staff are brilliant, I am making them a huge cake next week to thank them for teaching me so much already.

On top of all of the practical I also had to deliver a critical blog and essays.   Now I know why Uni students have/need such long summer holidays, I am frazzled but still raring to go for September this year although I think the pressure will be on even more….

Adios for now

Emma

Object of Desire – Bespoke Wallpaper

This week’s obsession is not the Royal Wedding for me, but the amazing new wallpapers which I keep seeing everywhere as new designers embrace the digital printing possibilities that are now available.  It seems that interior trends are embracing large scale and bright patterns, and while they may not be for everyone’s taste I love the boldness they offer.

The original bespoke wallpaper in Europe from makers such as de Gournay are exquisite and I have always lusted after a bespoke wall covering.  But they are not cheap, and there’s a part of me that just cannot justify the expense.  But just look at the beauty of them:

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Recently, due to my somewhat obsessive scouring of Instagram and Pinterest, I came across a designer team in New Zealand called Back To The Wall.  These designers do huge digitally printed murals in gorgeous designs, and while they may not have the hand finished painterly effect of a de Gournay, they are still pretty spectacular.

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In the UK, another digital mural company well worth looking at is Surface View.  They have a huge collection of images available to be printed up as large scale murals.  Their botanical and historical prints are pretty amazing and you can go as wild or as tame as you like in terms of design.  But all are large scale for a great feature wall.

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Another favourite who I love is House of Hackney.  They print beautiful designs which are quite intense, sometimes quirky and also designed as a set of 3 panels which can  repeat around a room if desired.

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I used their design Florida Onyx in my renovation of a townhouse as panels on wardrobes and it was stunning.  Who knows, one day I may be brave enough to do a whole room?!

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My ‘Door to Nowhere’..

As mentioned in the last post, the final item left to complete was my door to nowhere.  This the odd doorway/architrave mid way up the top stairs.  A nice, but quite bizarre period feature in the house (?!).  You know that song ‘We’re on the road to nowhere’ by Talking Heads, it has now morphed into ‘There is my door to nowhere’, and I have been so obsessed with getting this area sorted that I just can’t stop singing it in my head….

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The wallpaper I put in it a few years ago had faux books, and I was quite bored.  I ordered some samples of wallpaper to see what I could replace it with.  They were all extremely expensive, and actually when they appeared I didn’t like them.  So I turned to my iPad and starting hunting with the hashtags #quirky.  And this amazing paper appeared via the excellent site Iwantwallpaper…  it is a great site and they have a really good collection of papers.

It’s called Mad Dogs by Holden Décor and there is a monochrome or coloured version.  I decided to go monochrome, as I can always add colour later if I want to with my trusty pencils.  It arrived really quickly, was very reasonably priced (£15.99!  Saved me a bomb!) and took literally a few minutes to hang.  It does not stretch or sag like a lot of papers do when they are left to soak, so lining up was really easy to do.

So there are dogs & flamingoes in hats, boxing kangaroos, drunk toads and a giraffe smoking a pipe amongst other things.  I love it!

Here it is in situ, and I think it suits the grey walls much better than the previous books paper.  Due to the width of the Door to Nowhere I couldn’t help but have to cut into the frames on the vertical run, but I still love it….

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What do you think?  It could be a Marmite situation for this paper for most people – love or hate!

Stairs & Landings – the ‘nearly’ finished results…

In my earlier post, you may have been aware of my procrastination about finishing off the top floor of my hall and stairs.  But it is finally done, with some serious hanging off bannisters paining techniques.  I forced myself to start yesterday, and it is now finished, well very nearly….

This was looking up to the next level before I changed the wall colours.  That wallpaper which is in in the strange ‘door-to-nowhere” architrave is going to change too, I have ordered some samples of eye-wateringly expensive wallpaper from the lovely Fabricsandwallpapers.com and we’ll see what works best when they arrive.  They are all very large scale patterns:

I am really forgetful about before and after shots as I tend to dash in with paintbrushes on a whim.  So I don’t have any photos of the floor above pre-makeover!  Probably as it was always such a dumping ground, it had loads of overflowing bookcases, an electric piano in pieces, and I never really liked it so never photographed it.  Sorry….😐

Anyhow, I cleared out all of the books and had a huge cull so there are boxes and boxes ready to go off to charity shops, and I removed 2 out of 3 bookcases.  I had to keep hubby’s collection of comics, books and coca-cola limited edition bottles, plus we had a lot of film posters and things to hang.  This is now what it looks like looking down the stairs with the dark grey walls.

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And here is the artwork.  The weird original Harry Potter troll picture was a present to my daughter from her Godfather, who got it from the art/concept designer Rob Bliss from the films.  If you look carefully, he has pierced nipples, which Warner Brothers obviously asked him to tone down for the final film!  It scared my daughter to bits when she got it, so it has been hiding in the loft until now. That is the bonus of having older teens, I can put whatever I want on the walls now without fear!

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At the top of the stairs is an odd landing which goes nowhere, a bit like the door mid-way down the stairs.  What is it about my house and places going nowhere?  Originally this landing had 3 full size bookcases on it, now it has been reduced to one,  And I have hung the strangest huge anatomical drawing/chart on it which the hubby gave me, and until now I had no idea what to do with.  But I think he looks great against the red carpet!

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It looks so much better than before.  There is no natural daylight in this landing, so I was a bit worried about how dark it would be with the grey walls.  But it looks bigger in a strange way as the corners vanish with the dark grey.  I kept the original wall light which was a converted victorian gas light, and got 2 excellent wire cages to go on the top from eBay.  The ceiling is white so light can bounce around still, so it’s not dark at all.

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The bookcase generally houses Hubby’s stuff, and I have moved the books I saved for myself elsewhere so it looks much more spacious now – althought somewhat random items are on it…

I’ll do a final post when the wallpapers have come, and I have decided what to do with the ‘door-to-nowhere’.  I also have the odd corner wall to hang something on so I am hunting for something large like a mirror to go on it, or maybe a lovely bit of taxidermy.

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Instagram Challenges

Or how the # has become second nature…

It is a fact that I love Instagram, and I am always amazed and delighted by the creativity out there that I can peruse… from nature photography to food to clothes to interiors.  It means I follow so many people that it takes ages to scroll through daily feeds, but it’s worth it!  It also seems that there is a colony out there of similar minded people who like me are obsessed with interiors, it’s like having a mini village of people right on your doorstep.  Everyone shares ideas & tips, and are incredibly friendly.

From there come the Instagram challenges, which tend to be people setting up a hashtag and the rest of us posting pictures including it, usually within a timescale.  One that I have been doing is #myhousethismonth this February.  It’s a daily shot with a title, so things like #storage, #bestbargain, #love (Valentine’s day of course) and so on.  I love doing it, but WOW! it takes some planning.  Especially when you have to photo something everyday that passes muster.

Anyhow, here are some offerings I have been posting this mont.  My teenage daughter has trained me in various editing methods for photos as she said I needed to up my ‘instigame’ – thanks daughter, that made me feel ancient!  So I sometimes use Whitagram and VSCO to tweak shots before they are posted, although I do like to use Instagram as it was intended if possible and just shoot and edit on it directly.  So here are some shots posted while I tried to keep up, and it’s only mid month!  And this is the challenge set….

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This is #favecorner
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This is #window
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#metallic – a lovely silver leaf
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#lightit up – a very un pc lamp!
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#handmade – my upcycled cupboard
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#storage – my favourite huge cupboard
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#workspace – my desk where I ponder the universe

Once I get into doing it I then start taking other photos, so they go up as well as the challenge ones:

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And so it goes on… now off to shoot today’s picture which is #can’tlivewithout…. that will be my coffee maker then…?  Or maybe my cats…. ?  Hmm, it takes ages to decide…