Do you have an interiors dilemma? Consult our resident specialist.
Q. Dear Alice, I would like a summer house for the garden but as this is not our permanent home, I am looking for something that can be dismantled and taken with us when we move. Is there a company that specialises in this kind of structure, do you know? Kiera Blake, by e-mail
A. Benfield ATT ( www.benfieldatt.co.uk, 01291 437050) has a range of timber framed buildings called 'Home Run'(from £4,995). Fully wired and insulated, they are probably more suited to home office use and can even be fitted with a kitchen and WC, but with the optional extra of a terrace, they look quite pretty. And, importantly, they can be dismantled and re-erected when you move. If you after something more romantic, perhaps you should consider a beautiful semi-permanent canvas marquee. Online store The Present Finder ( www.thepresentfinder.co.uk) has a hexagonal Indian Marquee, 4m in diameter, made of three layers of fabric, with a hand-blocked printed lining, all supported by polished bamboo poles, for £1800. Cool and inviting, this can be left up all year round or taken down as often as you like.
Q. Dear Alice, we have a really tiny box room that is used occasionally as an office. I am after a small folding bed, for my granddaughter, that is more comfortable than the z-bed that we use at the moment. Can you recommend a particular make, please? E Dawson, Hatfield
A. The J bed 'permanent sleeper' (unfortunate name) is probably the best bet, comfortable enough to be used as an every day bed and available in two widths, 90cm (£239) or 120cm (£289). Available from Deans Furnishers ( www.beds2go.co.uk, 01920 468887). If you're feeling flush, though, it might be worth having a look at wall beds. There are some really good examples available now, comfortable and beautifully designed. Folding up into a shallow compartment, with choices of fabric covers, they are far superior to a folding camp bed. Espacio ( www.espacio.co.uk, 020 7376 5088) has a range of wall beds made by Clei, including the LGS swivel bed, £1,575, stored in a swivel cabinet 35cm deep, that transforms into chair or, fully extended, a single bed. Available in a choice of lovely fabrics, it is well-thought-out and very good looking. The range also includes Lollipop bunk beds, £1,748. A wall space of just over 2 m can be used to accommodate two single bunks that fold away into a cabinet only 31cm deep.
Q. Dear Alice, we have recently bought a hot tub which we are delighted with. It stands in the open on an area of decking and I am planning to have a wooden shelter built over it. I do not like the idea of tiles on the roof of the shelter. What else could we use that would look good and keep out the rain? Jane Rawlins, by e-mail
A. I agree that a tiled roof might look out of place. Thatched tiles, made from Cape reeds from South Africa, give the impression of a thatched roof but are supplied in an easy to use form. Made from reeds from a sustainable source, they have a lifespan of 6-10 years and are available, with all the necessary fixings, from The Lapa Company ( www.thelapacompany.co.uk, 01732 884030) for £15.86 per 80 x 42cm tile. Alternatively, you might like cedar shingles. Sold by the bundle, sufficient to cover 2.3 square metres, in two grades, they cost from £30.55 per bundle, plus delivery, from Cedar Outdoors ( www.cedaroutdoors.co.uk, 01895 271300).
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