I was going to show you something else this week – something instantly more classically (and perhaps universally) appealing and then I thought this might be more useful. Not least because one of the most searched pieces on the blog over the last (nearly) 10 years (after how to choose grey paint – still going strong that one) is should I put curtains on my bifold doors. And lo, this house is full of them so I thought it was worth sharing.
It’s a “single-storey three bedroom modern house” in Cuddington, Berkshire, (about an hour from Oxford) that is on the market with, er, The Modern House for £950,000. It’s around 2,000 sq ft (185m2) made up of sliding glass walls so the inside and outside blend seamlessly. (Note also how the word bungalow hasn’t been used… we talk about single storey now).
But the acclaimed architect Peter Aldington hasn’t lost sight of the fact that it’s in the UK and that not all our days are cloudless blue skies, or even cloudy blue skies come to that, so there are curtains to pull across all these glass walls meaning this house will be cosy in winter as well as in the evenings when you might feel as if you were living in a goldfish bowl without them.
So for all those people who have been wondering about whether you can have curtains on your bifold doors you can study these images and see that you can indeed. These look to have been fitting on a ceiling track which, if your bifolds go all the way up to the ceiling as many do meaning there is no space at the top for a traditional pole, is the best/only solution.
And don’t forget that you will need space for them to pull back, either at the sides or at points in the middle depending on how many doors or panels you have. I would suggest a fairly light fabric (with a lining) so they’re not too bulky when open, or you’ll end up cutting out half the light you paid so much to enhance with your windows.
The kitchen is at one end and goes the full width of the house with a fireplace that is open on both sides in the middle dividing it from the living room. I like the idea of a white minimal kitchen but I’m pretty sure I would have painted it within a few weeks of moving in. It’s so close to the outside I feel it should be green.
Note also the drawers – so much easier to see what’s going on than bending down to ferret about at the back of cupboards. We have a mix of doors and drawers and honestly if I go again I’m going full drawer.
Here you can see how a little utility room leads off the kitchen. This is the dream for many but very few of us actually manage to find the space. I have spoken before about finding room for an ensuite – as adults we need less bedroom space, so rather than install a cramped shower room consider making the bedroom smaller. You can install a shower room with 1m depth and 3m across so if your bedroom is rectangular you might be able to shave a metre off one end. Put a standard shower tray (around 80cm wide) at one side, the loo on the other and the basin in the middle so you see that when the door is open and not the loo. Finally add sliding doors to save space – which they haven’t done with this utility room I note although they could have.
You can get away with slightly less than 3m but I’m thinking roughly a metre for the loo, a metre for the basin and a metre for the shower – work out your own measurements and see. Obviously if you have more you will have more room either side of the basin or even space for two. The point of putting the basin in the middle is that that is what you will see when the door is open rather than the shower or loo so it’s prettier.
If there is no natural light then consider making the top of the walls glass to borrow light from the rest of the room. Again, no need for a utility room but good for a shower room.
Back to the kitchen and this shot shows you have the owners have carried on the line of units to create an outdoor kitchen. I first saw this done by the minimal architect John Pawson and it’s a trick that has been widely copied but it works brilliantly if you have bifold doors or glass walls in your kitchen as it tricks the eye into thinking the kitchen is bigger than it is.
Here’s a shot of those curtains which puddle down to the floor creating a luxurious look and also softening all the clean lines of this modern building. The fireplace chimney screens the two ends of the room so they become broken plan rather than open plan – allowing the light to pass from one end to the other but giving a little more separation between the two spaces.
This room is the snug and has been decorated as such with darker curtains and warmer, deep colours in the furniture. The shelves of pictures add decor but allow the look to be easily changed. So often modern houses are filled with new, modern furniture and it can be hard to bring a sense of character but this room feels both warm and comfortable and has personality.
Back to the main living space and the plants by the fire and on the coffee table serve to emphasise the link between inside and out as do all the pots on the terrace outside. I have to say I’m so pleased this isn’t floored with giant tiles inside which you so often see in new builds and which, I feel, is cold and unwelcoming in the UK climate. The wooden boards tie in perfectly well with the outside paving as you can see below and the whole effect is much warmer than shiny ceramic tiles would be.
Outside you can see the overhang which provides shade inside and shelter outside. So who’s in? I think this is rather fabulous and once I’ve painted the kitchen green and bought a few more vintage rugs I’m all set.