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Divide and COOL; SPACE MISSION: Design genius solves a problem of creating breathing space for a growing family by turning one bedroom into two private dens.

Parents do the paying, but these days it seems it's the children who do the choosing when it comes to buying a house.

And even if you buy your ideal home before the kids are too young to have their say, the day will soon come when the little darlings produce their list of demands.

But as Michael and Natasha Markey found out, with a little help from Home Record, you can still move with the times without moving house.

"We bought our home five years ago, and we all really like it and the area," said Natasha.

"The major problem was that we only have two bedrooms, and now that our son, Antony, is seven and our little girl, Natalie, is five, we desperately needed more space."

Then Natasha picked up her Daily Record one day and saw the miracle makeover that Home Help Lorraine Park had achieved with another child's bedroom.

"So we started thinking about what we could do to transform our own house, without having to go through the hassle of moving."

And when Natasha contacted Lorraine, our Home Help soon had a plan of action drawn up.

"Michael and Natasha were willing to swap bedrooms with their children, which meant that we had a big, double bedroom to work on," said Lorraine.

"Since there is only one window in the room, my first suggestion was to use some kind of room divider, rather than splitting the room in half with a solid wall and, that way, both areas would get as much light as possible.

"Antony and Natalie are really lucky. Their grandpa Markey is a joiner, and said he would build whatever was needed.

"So we looked through magazines and books to get some design ideas, then he popped off to the January sales to pick up all the bits and pieces he needed to build the divider."

And, for less than pounds 300, Michael Snr did a terrific job, dividing the room and conquering all the storage problems in one bright line of units.

Now Antony and Natalie have their own wardrobes, desks, bookcases, and bedside cabinets, with a false window in the middle to let all the light through to the back area.

"Their grandfather also fitted little strip lights above their desks - so even homework at the moment is a treat," said mum Natasha.

"The other real bonus is that although Natalie said she wanted her own space, I think, secretly, she was a bit worried about sleeping on her own.

"But with the room divider, she can still chat away to her brother without invading his private territory."

While Grandpa was mastering the mechanics of turning one room into two, Lorraine and Natasha were having fun with fabrics and paint, intent on surrounding the pine units with plenty of colour.

"A really cheap and cheerful way to provide desk seating is to buy raw pine bar stools, which can be cut down, then painted in bright colours," said Lorraine.

"I brought Natasha a selection of fabrics and, with some heavy hints from the kids, she chose a material from Kings called Happy Daze-Red, which I made into tab-top curtains and two matching bed throws."

And, if you go for a relatively simple window treatment, says Lorraine, you can dress it up with lots of different tie-backs.

"Here, I made big bows, which is simple. First, cut a length of material, approximately eight inches by 45 inches, and fold it in half with the patterned sides facing in. Sew up three edges, pull through to the right side, then press out with a steam iron."

FOR the next step, cut a length of material 15 inches square and fold and stitch over as before, then press.

Cut a small piece of fabric, seven inches by two, and press in the rough edges to make the centre of the bow.

Then, take a piece of fabric, about a yard by three inches, and use a top stitch to make a long tie - pressing in any rough edges as you go. Slot through two brass rings, and bring the two end pieces into the centre and stitch together, leaving a ring attached to each end.

"When you assemble the bow, you place the long tier into the centre, add the small centre piece and neatly hand stitch at the back to hold it all in place."

With Lorraine in charge of the soft furnishings and Michael Markey senior hard at work on the wooden units, his son and daughter-in-law painted the walls a bright yellow.

And the family's verdict on the end result?

"Absolutely great," said Natasha. "The bright fabric and walls really set off the pine units, making the two new rooms look really bright and lovely," a satisfied Natasha told us.

"And it's a smash hit with both the kids - all for under pounds 350."

Lorraine Park's company, Inside Story, can be contacted on 01505-690869.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Ensor, Nan
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 17, 1998
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