All posts by Sally

Under Floor Heating

Technology is advancing at such a pace that every year there is a new system or gadget that we can take advantage of. Our mobile phones now have the computing power that would have impressed NASA just a few years ago and there are cars which will drive themselves. Running our homes efficiently is now also much easier as we are able to control our lighting and heating from our mobiles from wherever we happen to be. Despite the onwards march of technology there are some aspects of our lives which could perhaps be improved by looking to the past.
Most homes in the UK are heated via a system of radiators. Radiators are unattractive features which take up a lot of valuable wall space so it would be rather nice if there was a better solution to our heating requirements. Actually there is one, and like so many other seemingly modern innovations, it was used by the Romans.

The Romans

Those good old Romans heated their buildings with hypocaust under floor systems. Here internal floors were raised on piles. Fires heated the air which was drawn into the spaces under the floors and then exited via flues in the walls. The systems required constant attention and so only the wealthy could benefit from them. Their servants would maintain the required fires. The systems weren’t terribly efficient as they did not distribute heat evenly but they did work pretty well. If you want to see Roman underfloor heating then visit the magnificent Pompeii where there are several homes which remain almost as they were before Vesuvius erupted and buried them in volcanic ash.
Modern Systems

It turns out that the Romans were really on to something. Heat rises and so underfloor systems are the most efficient way to heat any space. Of course, in the modern era, fires would be a rather impractical solution. Quite apart from the fact that you might burn your house down, few people could afford to employ the servants they needed to keep them burning. Contemporary under floor heating systems are hydronic, in other words they feature pipes under the floor. Alternatively you can ley cable systems or lose laid heating tiles which are a bit like electric blankets for your floors. These provide a silent and even heat distribution which is thermostatically controlled. Underfloor heating is a brilliant choice for homes with tiled floors which can be very cold under foot.

Thermomat (1000x752)

The cable and tile systems can be installed in your home without the need to dig up the floors and will not significantly raise the height of your flooring. This is a great way to rid yourself of unsightly radiators which were, incidentally, a Russian invention.
The Romans had the perfect solution for so many of life’s problems that many modern innovations have their roots in Roman civilisation. Perhaps we should always look back before we try to look forward in case those clever Romans had the answer. The Romans didn’t have the benefit of computing power and one wonders what miracles they may have achieved if they had. Perhaps they could have learnt to predict volcanic eruptions!

Article by Sally Stacey

Near Field Communication

Those of us who can still remember old fashioned cash registers in shops and Green Shield stamps are reeling at the pace at which in store technology is marching forward. If you are wondering what Green Shield stamps were then Let me enlighten you. These little green stamps were an early form of reward points for shoppers. You were awarded the stamps for purchases made and collected them in books. The stamps could then be redeemed for free gifts and discounts. Just like today’s loyalty cards really only a lot more fiddly. Continue reading Near Field Communication

Unravelling Art Deco

Art Deco is a highly popular decorative style that most people would recognise but perhaps many would struggle to precisely define. This fact is not surprising as the Art Deco style is eclectic in nature and evolved from a combination of diverse influences which resulted in a striking look that was and remains at once instantly recognisable and yet difficult to describe. Continue reading Unravelling Art Deco

Art for All

You may have thought that original artworks were the preserve of the rich and famous and that ordinary folk must confine themselves to the odd print. Most people would certainly never dream of taking themselves off to Sotheby’s or Christie’s for a fine art auction especially if they have seen the headlines about record sales. Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud, for Instance, sold at Christie’s New York in 2013 for a whopping $142.4 million. Just slightly beyond the average budget! Continue reading Art for All

Too Much DIY

I have never been particularly enthusiastic about DIY. I like planning projects and deciding how rooms will look but would really rather pay someone else to complete the work for me. Sadly I usually lack the budget to this which probably explains why my house was left untouched for years. I had got used to its rather tired décor and just put up with it. Then a couple of years ago a good friend was about to move into the spare bedroom and I thought it was time for a face lift. Somehow the desire to redecorate that one room turned into the need to tackle the whole house! Continue reading Too Much DIY

Beautiful Lene Bjerre

Nailing a decorative scheme is about both the big picture and the small details. You must first decide what look you are trying to achieve and choose suitable features and furnishings but the look is never complete without the right finishing touches. The devil can certainly be in the detail both in trying to complement the room concerned and in creating a look which is unique to you and your home. Continue reading Beautiful Lene Bjerre

What is a Vintage Interior?

The word vintage is perhaps one which is somewhat overused. The term originates from the Old English word vendage which is itself an alteration of Old French vendange from Latin vindemia, meaning to remove wine. Vintage became a reference to the year or place that a wine was produced and then a more general term denoting something from the past which is of high quality or the best of its kind. Continue reading What is a Vintage Interior?

Brighten Your Home with a Touch of Sparkle

I have always had a weakness for a bit of sparkle. Whilst I have never had any ambition to turn my home into an homage to glam rock or Barbie, I just have to feature a little sparkle here and there to add interest to an otherwise fairly measured contemporary interior. I do have a small glitter ball in my cloakroom. This is so subtle (if a glitter ball could be such a thing) that many people don’t even notice it is there.  My hall, however, presented a more difficult problem as it hard to be subtle or tasteful with sparkle when it is the first thing that visitors see when you open the door. Continue reading Brighten Your Home with a Touch of Sparkle

In the Best Possible taste?

Home décor is very much a matter of personal taste. It is all too easy to feel high and mighty and to accuse others of having no taste at all, personal or otherwise, but who decides what’s hot and what’s not? I recall the occasion on which I entered a friend’s newly decorated living room and struggled to find an appropriate comment to make about her “interesting” colour choice for the walls. I found the expanse of raspberry overbearing but she clearly loved it. Continue reading In the Best Possible taste?

Original Scented Candles?

I don’t usually watch The Apprentice basically because I find a group of arrogant gits trying to step on each other’s heads every week a little tiresome. However, I did catch the end of one episode in the latest series that piqued my attention because it appeared that the task given to the opposing groups had been to create a scented candle. Continue reading Original Scented Candles?