Garden offices are cheap, chic, eco-friendly and an answer to the tedious commute. 

15 Mar

Over the last decade we have witnessed the miniaturisation of the office workplace. A cramped outbuilding which once housed lawnmowers and pots can now comfortably be insulated from the cold, fitted with its own electrics, and link you to anywhere in the world. It’s an alternative workplace revolution. It’s shedworking.

According to Emma Jones who runs leading homeworking website Enterprise Nation, there are more than 2.5m businesses being run from home. “We have spotted a significant increase in the number of business owners heading out to the garden and running their ventures,” she says, “and while our research suggests that the spare room will remain the most popular home ­enterprise space, it is closely followed by the garden office.”


High Dreamers

20 Mar

Sometimes there simply isn’t enough room to sleep on the floor but luckily it pays to think loftily.

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Raven Row

19 Feb

About Raven Row

‘London’s jaw-droppingly elegant new space’.


Kathryn Hughes writes in The Daily Telegraph about the delights of finding such wonderful examples of mid-twentieth century design.

‘At the top of Raven Row, one of London’s leading contemporary-art exhibition spaces, there lies what can only be described as a surprise.

Climb up through the carefully restored Georgian interior, all polished cast iron and buffed timber, pass through an anonymous MDF door, and you find yourself standing in a three-bedroomed flat that appears to have been frozen in time. The carpet is a busy pattern of golden leaves, the wallpaper is spattered with mauve and yellow starbursts, and the portable television comes with a convenient plastic carrying-handle. It’s like 1972 never left.


The rooms on the fourth floor of Raven Row are not an ironic  art installation, or, at least, they didn’t start that way. For most of the 20th century they were home to Rebecca, Eva and Hannah Levy.

The Levy sisters came as part of the multimillion-pound property deal and Sainsbury, a scion of the supermarket dynasty that has donated millions to the nation’s art heritage, had no intention of asking them to leave or, indeed, of charging rent.


Instead, Rebecca and Hannah – middle sister Eva had died in 1984 – carried on their lives in their top-floor flat, as far as their increasing deafness and lameness allowed. Meanwhile, on the elegant floors below, artists of international standing ebbed and flowed around the elegant, muted space.’

Raven Row is a non-profit contemporary art exhibition centre in Spitalfields that is open free to the public, Wednesdays to Sundays. It has been constructed within eighteenth century domestic rooms, onto which 6a architects have added two contemporary galleries, and it stands on the part of Artillery Lane that was known as Raven Row until 1895.


Cupboard Love

4 Mar

The Mortar Boys probably rip out at least 1 perfectly good kitchen a week  (great for us) but, what is our obsession with purchasing brand new kitchens? If cash strapped or just adverse to IKEA’s horseplay there are endless options: a new sink, revealing existing natural woods, or even simply sourcing some decent handles, like these reclaimed beauties from a 50’s motor home, can make all the difference. Drawer your own conclusions.url


Follow the Yellow (Mustard and Lemon) Brick Road

4 Feb

This 1939 Kroehler colour guide was available on Ebay recently for £1.20. Amidst the bombs, blitzes and Bovril, the fashionable people still managed to paint their world walls beautiful. I particularly like Powder Blue, or is it Cornflower?


Reel ‘Em In

6 Oct

Great  to see (and be able to hear) those indie loops of yesterday. Now, those of a floppy-haired disposition can load-down some jingle beau jangles. From those old magical tapes, like. 

Press Play & Record is pumping out geek-laden info, pics and all important playlists. Take your slippers off and get your ears back on.



The Mortar Boys’ Stands Proudly Erected

18 Jul

So we finally end up in the Dock, up before (below, behind and indeed above) the old and not so old Bailey.


Sentenced to hang from the scaffold, the Mortar Boys employed their  famous  application and dedication to the job in hand.

Not our usual conversion, new build or extension. The building of this exhibition for David Bailey required us to translate the master’s plan onto large scale scaffold and planking.

These huge steel easels now flash- fill the transformed Compressor House. Flooding it anew with towering memory banks of monotone cool and 70’s film wash colour -render.

He is still the ever-artful codger of legend too, a wonderful man and collection, we can happily say it was a real pleasure doing time with him.

Bailey’s East End


Save Energeeeee (Scroll down for info explained via the medium of K-Pop)

13 Jul

The average UK household is paying around £305 a year for gas and £260 for electricity – and the typical household can cut between £100-£200 a year off their fuel bills without losing either warmth or comfort by simply using energy efficiently and effectively.

Our top tips for cutting your fuel bills.

1. Check that you are using the cheapest supplier. It is easy to do this by using the cut your bills calculator, which is supplied by uswitch, and offers free, independent, impartial advice. The site calculates how much you can save – based on your current bills. So, in the comfort of your own home or at your desk you can find out how much better off you would be if you changed suppliers.

2. Switch off unnecessary lights.  A simple, straightforward tip – but difficult for families with teenagers or unruly adults. In a typical home, lighting accounts for 20% of the electricity bill so if you can cut back here you will save money.

3. Change to energy saving bulbs.  By buying an energy efficient light bulb rather than the other alternatives you can cut energy wastage by over 75 per cent. They cost a bit more than ordinary light bulbs (about £3.50 each) but they last 12 times longer could save up to £9 on your annual electricity bill or £100 over the bulb’s lifetime. Changing to LED lighting will save even more – look out for a future blog update.

4. Only boil as much water as you need  (but remember to cover the element if you’re using an electric kettle). If we all did this we’d save enough electivity to power two thirds of the street lighting in the UK.

5. Turn your central heating thermostat down. Just turning it down by 1 degree it could save you up to 10% of your heating bill

6. Close your curtains at dusk. This helps cut down heat loss.

7. Forget standby. Only use the heat and light appliances you really need – don’t leave TVs or videos on standby. Also switch off your computer screens when not being used.

8. Wash your laundry at 30C Washing at 30C rather than normal temperatures means you use 40% less electricity.

9. Upgrade your boiler If your boiler is over 15 years old, it’s probably time to replace it. By law, new boilers must now be of the high-efficiency condensing type. They can help you save up to a third on your heating bills and even more if you upgrade to modern controls.

10. Improve your insulation. More than 40 per cent of all heat lost in the average home is through loft space and walls. As much as 20% of your energy bill can be saved by good loft insulation. Lofts should be insulated to a minimum depth of 150mm (6 inches) – preferably 200mm (8 inches) – and this can be done by either a contractor or DIY. Mineral wool, fibreglass and recycled paper products all work well. Remember to wear a facemask, goggles and protective clothing if you do it yourself, and leave sufficient gaps around the eaves to avoid condensation. Do not insulate under water tanks that may freeze and ensure all pipework and the loft hatch are insulated. This will cost around £300 but will save around £60-£70 a year.

Consider installing cavity wall insulation. Most heat from your home is lost through the walls. Cavity wall insulation can be installed in under three hours and will help keep your home warm in winter and cooler in summer. Money spent on cavity wall insulation would be recovered within three to five years and there are no ongoing maintenance costs. If every household in the UK, that could installed cavity wall insulation, together we’d save over £962 million of energy every year

11. Buy energy efficient appliances When replacing appliances, consider their energy efficiency rating. Look for the Energy Efficiency Recommended Logo as a guide to help you choose the most suitable product. And choose a high efficiency condensing boiler. If your boiler needs to be replaced, then make sure you replace it with a high-efficiency condensing boiler – from April 2005 this will be law. This could save you around a third on your bills – that’s over 10 percent more than replacing with a conventional boiler.

12. Draughtproof windows and doors. Draughts are the most uncomfortable and obvious signs of a badly insulated house and can be fixed easily with minimal DIY skills. This will cost around £45-£60 saving roughly £10-£20 a year.

13. Insulate your immersion. Fit a good insulating jacket to your hot water tank if it does not have sprayed foam on the outside. The cost of around £10 will soon be met via savings of around £10-£15. This can reduce heat loss by around 75%.

14. Put aluminium foil behind any radiators fitted to outside walls. Ordinary kitchen foil will do, or you can buy specially designed panels from DIY stores Cost: up to £10 Saving: Around £5-£10.

15. Think solar Solar panels look great, generate electricity for your home and you could qualify for a grant to contribute to the cost. They are beginning to come down in cost – so if you are re-roofing then they are worth considering.

And, in case you need any further persuasion…

When the Builders met Bailey

12 May

The Mortar Boys were excited and proud to meet world famous photographer David Bailey this week. Looks like we might be contracted to use our scaffolding skills for his latest exhibition.

The eagerly anticipated retrospective  will be held from July 14 to August 11 at a soon-to-be-announced location.

We can say no more…

The Mortar Boys meet David Bailey

But Bailey said: “London’s East End is in my DNA and I’m thrilled to be able to return to my roots in Newham. The Olympics are helping to transform the borough and I’m delighted to be playing a special part in its transformation. Go East young man!”

“The pictures range, but the concentration is on the Sixties, Eighties and now,” Bailey told us. “Newham is the obvious place to do it – it’s where it all happened.”

London’s Top Builders’ Bottoms

11 May

Our ever-busy inner city London Polish building crew are still proving camera shy, though rumour has it, they met up with and were delighted to be working with London’s very own decade in / decade out… mega accomplished superstar snapper, earlier this week.

‘A proper Gent’ beamed the foreman…or to be precise…

‘Odpowiedni dzentelmen’.

An Olympian talent you might say, what can also be said is…it  was a bloody interesting project  and a good day’s work…in anyone’s language.


More on the exhibition will follow

Bailey talks about upcoming London Show

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