Our expert Celia Rufey answers your interior design questions and decorating dilemmas
Celia Rufey answers your queries.
WHERE CAN I FIND UNUSUAL BUTTONS? I’ve made a set of silk cushions that I’d like to fasten with buttons. Can you recommend stockists with a more interesting selection than those found in department stores? LS, Ripon, North Yorkshire.
For a child-in-a-sweetshop moment, try Totally Buttons, 01403 598014, totallybuttons.com,
where Julie King stocks more than 3,000 designs for both practical and decorative purposes. For your silk cushions, you could begin by looking at the glass and shell buttons. There’s also Austrian Swarovski crystal, as well as the more unusual wood, coconut, leather, metal and horn. Prices range from 10p to £6.50 for a diam7cm natural shell button. For antique and vintage offerings, visit the online vintagebuttonemporium.com.
Owner Sarah Alney sources her selection from antiques fairs and auctions, and updates the site every week. Among the categories, you’ll find art deco, collectible glass, mother-of-pearl, decorative metal and ceramic buttons; most cost between 30p and £2 each, while quantities of each button vary – sometimes there’s only one.
HOW SHOULD WOOD FLOORING BE LAID OVER CONCRETE? We’ve recently bought a house with concrete floors that are currently carpeted. What is the easiest and most economical way of installing wood flooring? PA, Lyme Regis, Dorset.
There are two methods, depending on the type of wood flooring being laid. For fitting parquet-style flooring or solid wood boards, use a wood flooring adhesive that’s suitable for fixing to concrete. The best are solvent-free MS Polymer options, such as Sikabond T54 or Bona R850. These are applied directly to the concrete with a notched trowel and then the wood is laid on top. If using engineered boards, it is usually preferable to float the floor. This means fixing the individual planks to one another, rather than to the floor beneath. Because there is no adhesive to accommodate small imperfections in the subfloor, an underlay should be installed first. There is little difference in the cost of these methods, as they take about the same amount of time and the cost of the adhesive and the underlay is similar. If you are looking to be able to change the flooring in the foreseeable future, floating is probably the best option, as it is easier to remove a floated floor. If you are thinking long term, glue will give a more solid feel.
WHERE CAN I FIND WINDOW BOXES TO FIT? I have two windows that face the garden, but the sills are too narrow for standard window boxes. Does any company make a range of depths? JM, Bath, Somerset.
Garden Requisites, 01225 851577, garden-requisites.co.uk, sells handmade wirework window boxes that are designed to be fixed to the wall and project beyond the sill. The smaller standard size measures H25xw104xd25cm, and costs from £175. The wirework can be used alone to hold plants in pots or can be ordered with a galvanised liner, from £150; bespoke sizes of both are also available. Arthur Jack & Co, 01299 827059, arthurjack.co.uk, has responded to requests from owners of Georgian and Victorian houses for slim window boxes and now makes these in galvanised steel in two sizes: H18xw85xd15cm (below), which costs £170, and W110cm, £185.
WHICH SHELVING IS BEST FOR BOOKS? We’re moving to a Victorian house with high ceilings and need to accommodate lots of books: paperbacks, coffee table size, plus some files. A one-size-fitsall style isn’t going to work. Any idea what will? AN, London N12.
It depends on whether you are interested in a system that you assemble yourself or are looking for a company to build a bespoke bookcase. For the former, try Shelfstore, 01628 782642, shelfstore.co.uk. Its online Design Wizard will create a 3D drawing of your preferred layout and give a full parts listing and costing. Also highly flexible is String shelving from Haus, 020 8533 8024, hauslondon.com. For bespoke, The Bookcase Co, 020 8870 7707, thebookcaseco.co.uk, and Neville Johnson, 0161 873 8333, nevillejohnson.co.uk, both design individual bookcases and library rooms. Bookcases are also one of the specialities of Built in Solutions, 01865 575579, builtinsolutions.co.uk, which offers wall-mounted bookcases (above).
PROFILE Celia Rufey has been the Homes & Gardens decorating expert for more than 30 years. She has a wealth of interiors knowledge and has also designed her own range of fabrics.