How a pot of paint can cause chaos…

In the last couple of weeks I decided to repaint my sitting room.  It has been the same colour for ages, and I felt an update was in order.  I am getting very drawn to orange at the moment, and as the room has a lot of light and high ceilings, I felt that it could take a dark tone and create a different feel to the existing colour.  This is the room as it was…

It was originally painted in Drab, a now discontinued Farrow & Ball paint.  I chose a strong orange by Valspar called Storybook Sundown to replace it.  I have orange elsewhere in the room in the rug, upholstery and cushions and this colour complimented them the best…

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So with 5 litres I started to paint.  You  know that moment when you think ‘Hmm, not sure if I am liking this…?”, well it came pretty soon after the first coat.  I have been so used to the previous colour and this is so out of my comfort zone that I started to to think I had made a mistake.  But I decided to continue to see what would happen.

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BUT… once it was done I loved it.  Really vibrant, rich and cocooning.

Now this is where the chaos started… when I say chaos I mean a nuclear chain of events starting from the initial one pot of paint.   My sofa now looked really insipid against all of the other bright colours.  The room needed something stronger/darker in colour/tone to work with these walls.  The current sofa is a Wesley Barrell Knole, and cost a huge amount when purchased.  It is quite tired now and has been an old faithful for over a decade, so I thought this would be the time to revamp it.  Investigations into re-upholstering it revealed it costs as much if not more to do as getting a new sofa.  The seat cushions alone cost £500 for new inserts, not to mention 15m of fabric and upholstery costs.

Egged on by my daughter we set out to find a new sofa.  On my wish list the main priority was NEVER HAVING TO EVER PLUMP ANOTHER CUSHION AGAIN.  This has been the bane of my life with sofas, and actually if I add the hours spent doing it I could have learnt a new language or trekked across a country instead.  So number one priority was a sprung seat and back sofa.

Research then ensued; size, shape, fabric, finish, durability… The internet is great for hunting, but I want to see them in the flesh too and sit on them to see if they are comfortable.  A bit like Goldilocks and her chairs – too firm, too soft or just right?  A sofa is a big expense as well, so once a shortlist had been made we set off in the car on a sofa bouncing mission.

Stop one was a high street store that had not been on my wish list, but was on the way to another shop.  As we mooched about I spotted the perfect sofa; sprung, buttoned and available in the fabric I wanted. It was in DFS, is called the Trafalgar and is a modern version of the chesterfield with buttoned seat and back, plus proper springing.  The shape is more angular than the traditional rounded chesterfield but that is why it looks so nice.

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The detailing is lovely, with upholstery studs along the front:

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But this colour is too pale and I wanted a richer more textural fabric.  And voila, in their books I found:

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The perfect velvet; not shiny like a lot of modern versions but lustrous and deepest black.  And so reader, I ordered one.. and it comes in about 6 weeks to reface the old faithful Knole sofa (which incidentally is going to a very good home where it will be loved  for many more years).

So that was Chaos Element No 1.  This pot of paint has now cost me a new sofa.. but it doesn’t end there.  I like the idea of adding in more black to define the room, so black lampshades have now been ordered for the lamps around the room in black, and passementerie trimmings have been ordered to jazz them up.  That’s Chaos Element No 2.

On top of that I have now started hunting for new curtains to add more drama and tie up the room visually as the current ones are lovely, but look quite pale now compared to the other colours going on in the room, and that’s a 10ft tall bay window to negotiate as a starter.  Not something you can use readymades on easily… so let’s call that Chaos Element No 3.  I’m thinking watered black silk puddling on the floor would be a bit special…

With that I will sign off, as I need to plan how to create these curtains on a budget, but so they don’t look it.  All this from just one pot of paint…

 

 

Bathroom Revamp Planning

My daughter lives in a flat in London, and recently informed me that the bath tap had died a sorry death.  So it’s my job to fix it as the landlady.  The current fixture and fittings are a bit worse for wear, with inherited items like a cracked sink, warped bath panel, a wobbly lit mirror and a hair dye splattered bath.  To fix the bath tap meant pulling out the bath panel as well as a lot of joinery, so it made more sense to just rip out the whole lot and start again with a fresh new set of fittings.  When she moved into the flat we gave the room a lick of paint as seen below, but it really needs a whole new lotta loving…

The room is very small, with no daylight, but good ventilation installed already.  There is an extruding section of wall along one side, which hiders the ventilation and electrics, and at the base of this wall is also the run of pipes which are boxed in.  The room size is 2.2 x 1.6 m, so there are no real changes of layout possible, and I do not want to start moving plumbing and soil stacks as it is a) costly and b) does not offer me another choice of layout.

We did think about replacing the bath with a large shower, but I think this can be off-putting for resale.  So we have kept the layout, and will just have much nicer fixtures and fittings to revamp.  I have found a builder who comes highly rated, and am planning to work to the following style; clean lines, quite retro, much needed storage, a grey/white/black palette and better lighting.  The current sink has separate taps with scorching hot water, so a mixer tap will be used to stop scalding.

Tiles will be sized 600×300 simple glazed white, with grey grouting and set full height around the bath,  a mouldy shower curtain will be replaced with a fixed glass shower screen and we will introduce more oomph with dark walls as the lighting will be much better after the revamp.  Colour can be introduced with accessories, and I think it will be a lovely room when finished… small but perfectly formed.

Updates will come as it progresses… Fingers crossed it all goes well…🤞

Hallway – New Decoration Project Is Underway

So as we are now staying put in our home, I have been itching to get going on some revamping.  And I have the perfect project to get my teeth into.

Our hallway is quite large, and stretches up through 3 floors, with the staircase splitting off in two directions after the first flight of stairs.  It is not a typical narrow Victorian hallway and stairs, and there is a lot of space and ceiling a minimum of 3 meters tall on the ground and first floors.  When we first came to the house it was painted a sickly aqua green, so I redecorated it in pale taupe and white on the woodwork to neutralise it.  But it is now a long time since it was done, so I have decided to crack on and give it an overhaul.

Ground Floor

It has great original floorboards, stained glass windows either side of the original front door and original panelling on the sides of the stairs.  It’s large enough to take a huge period cabinet and a sideboard.  The stairs are original with 2 spindles per step, (takes an age to paint them though).  The stair carpet was inherited with the house, and is a very rich dark red Wilton attached with Victorian stair rods on the first flight.  Then it goes full width up through the rest of the halls and stairs above.  As anyone who knows me is aware, I have a love-hate relationship with this carpet.  It is amazing quality, and looks like new after well over 7 years, and that is since we have been here and it existed pre-us.  But I have 2 cats called George and Mildred, and EVERY hair they drop shows on it, so I have to hoover a lot.  I always wanted to replace it with sisal when it got tired, but the quotes were really high to get it laid well and with multiple angles needed, and it shows no sign of looking shabby yet so I am holding on for the moment.  It has also survived many children, teenage parties and flailing carrying of coffee and tea by the said teens.  So I’m stuck with it for now.

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Very pale taupe walls
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The red stair carpet with brass rods
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My huge old cabinet filled with ‘stuff’

First Floor

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Final Makeover Post – Townhouse

GAH!  So I totally, totally forgot to do a final post about all the work I did in the summer and autumn renovating a city townhouse.  So here is a brief rundown of everything that was done.  New heating, plumbing, electrics, lighting, garden fencing, plastering, decoration, windows, plus a new kitchen roof with skylights and new unforeseen beams (long story that one..).  On top of that it was totally decorated, had bespoke wardrobes made and fitted, a kitchen makeover, new flooring, refurbished original flooring and probably some other things I have forgotten.  It also had plans drawn up for a huge loft conversion to make another bedroom and bathroom.

I was going to move into it once it was finished, and once we had sold our current home we live in.  But priorities changed, as they always do, and we ended up having to get rid of the city house… so it was put on the market and snapped up straight away.

DINING ROOM:

Here is the dining room before, during and after.  It had to have electrics chased, new lighting installed, new plaster, lining paper, decoration, floor renovation and new central heating.

Walls were done in Cookie Crumble, with the Chimney Breast in Railings.

Loved the way it turned out… and it’s a big room with lots of space and light,

SITTING ROOM:

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Teenager’s Room & Spare Room Makeovers

THE CHALLENGES:

My youngest has always had one of the smallest bedrooms in our house. I think that is generally what younger children get actually in the pecking order of families!  Poor them… they are definitely overlooked a lot…. she also always got hand me down clothes for years, but I did always get her new undies and socks!

Our eldest has now moved out to go to Uni, and will only be back home for holidays, so we thought it time to do some switching around of bedrooms.  We have 5, so are a bit spoilt for choice, but the youngest had always had what could be called a very small double.  She is also VERY messy, so it was a question of bribery… ‘if you tidy your your room and keep it up for a while, you can move into a larger room…” It worked, and she made an effort, so I had to honour my word.

This then escalated and became a massive upheaval over Christmas, it actually always sort of escalates when I start fiddling around… I also had a pretty weeny budget and needed to be able to re-use and re-purpose existing items if possible.  An existing spare room, (which had been decorated for my mum mainly when she stays over in a very granny-friendly style), was to become my youngest daughter’s room as it was much larger.    And as such, it was not teenage friendly in terms of style.  Here it is as it was… see what I mean…?!

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And my daughter’s existing room was then meant to switch back over into being a spare room again.. this is the other room when my daughter was in it:

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Crammed, no decent storage and hideous fake brick wallpaper which I reluctantly agreed to a couple of years ago as I was in no mood to chip off all the plaster for real.  So definitely time for a change.

DAUGHTERS NEW BEDROOM:

I was shown pinterest boards with the most white, zen and minimalist interiors of dream bedrooms.  ‘Wow’, I said, ‘NICE!’…   But was I was really thinking was…’Yes, of course  – it’s not like you don’t have loads of STUFF… and that STUFF does not stay in the allocated places usually.. and the STUFF is added too with lots of my china filled with various stages of decaying MOULD”…

But I agreed as she had tried to be clean, and then spent 2 days bent at odd angles totally whitening out the room.  I forgot how much I hate rolling paint onto ceilings.  3 coats later, we had pure white.  The floor is already lovely old pine stripped boats, and there is a pretty original fireplace and victorian sink.

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We got her a new bed and mattress, and then I hunted through the house and found an oak desk, a beautiful needlepoint rug that I forgot I had and has been in the attic for years, cut work white curtains and a freestanding clothes rail (she wanted that sort of look, forget the dust!).  The mirror was originally taupe, and it got a quick coat of Annie Sloane’s Graphite for an update.

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Photo Shoot for 25 Beautiful Homes

‘Jewel In The Crown’

This week my house featured in the December 2017 issue of 25 Beautiful Homes.  The house was dressed to the nines with Christmas cheer, and styled beautifully by Sian Williams and photographed by Brent Darby.  It’s the second time one of my houses has been featured in the magazine, so thank you 25 Beautiful Homes.

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What is always odd about shoots for magazines is that they are done so far ahead in advance.  This feature was shot months ago, and since then new bits have been added or tweaked, so the photographs always remind me how much evolves in the house.  The houses always look so large due to the lenses used, and so CLEAN too!  The latter is due to a whirlwind of cleaning in preparation, so the ‘owner’s photo’ is always a bit hideous as I look very tired!

Here are some of the proofs that were taken.  The favourites are then picked out by the editors for the final piece:

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And here is the final layout, my rather useless scanner has not shown how lovely they actually look so apologies about that…

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Anyhow, job done.  It’s time to move house again now I think so I can start all over again….

 

Wardrobe Crisis… and Storage Solution

Fact:  I have too many clothes.  These are dotted all over the house as storage is tricky for the amount I have.

Fact:  I have too many shoes.  I could well give Imelda Marcos a run for her money.

Fact:  It felt so crowded in the bedroom with clothes, shoes etc that it was a pain to keep it organised.

Fact: A lot of my clothes are quite old, but very well made so I am loathe to chuck them as they do come in useful randomly from time to time.  Need a fab fitted Armani suit for a meeting; got one.  Feeling like chanelling Chanel at the races in a pink tweed suit; done.  Wedding on the horizon;  Dozens of outfits to chose from….  Dinner dance; loads to choose from.  But these were stored all over the place so I had to hunt for them.

Fact: I otherwise wear pretty much the same uniform of clothes most days.  I have trusty Uniglo trousers in one cut (but with lots of pairs in black or grey), a lot of Cos black dresses and huge swaddling roll-necked jumpers.  Add my Converse hi-tops or biker boots, and I am ready to go.

Fiction:  I really need all of these clothes.

So this week I decided to finally gather all items together from all over the house to see how much I actually could lose/keep/use more.  Pretty much most rooms had a cupboard or two groaning with clothes/shoes/out of season stored items.  When all together, and reader I am a bit ashamed when I admit this, they filled a whole room.  30 years worth of clothes and shoes stared back at me. Continue reading “Wardrobe Crisis… and Storage Solution”

Planning Christmas table decorations

Yes, I am really a bit sad, I freely admit it!  I spent this afternoon messing about with the dining table, china, glasses, cutlery and so on, so as to plan upcoming Christmas entertaining in advance.

We have 3 lunches to do over the Christmas period, including the biggie on Christmas Day, and rather than go into a spin with table decorating on the actual mornings themselves, (when I am supposed to be concentrating on cooking), I thought it better to know what I would put on the table for each occasion in advance.

Lunch Number One

This table is styled with fresh whites and greens.  There are lots of natural elements in those colour ways on the table.  A large footed glass bowl of hydrangeas has raffia curled around the inside to hide the stems.  Faceted tea light holders in clear glass bounce light around and don’t block eye levels.  Two porcelain flower shaped tea light holders add more candle glow.  The table has two linen runners on it, one natural laid in one direction and a pale lime green going in the opposite direction.

 

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