Another post, another room. This time looking at the sitting room.
This room has a lot going on in terms of colour and pattern, but I think it works. It contains my favourite thing which is this black Mora Clock I bought a couple of years ago. It’s also one of the rooms where I have painted the walls, doors and ceiling all the same colour. I don’t think that’s something you immediately notice when you walk in and you’d assume it would make the room feel small or dark. However, the impression is (I think) of greater height because you don’t create a hard stop at the top of the walls with another colour. A bit like horizontal stripes making you look shorter and wider!
These yellow and red cushions are made from some fabric I bought down the road in Peckham.
These pictures are actually embroidered but me in front of the TV in the evening. They are the last eight Prime Ministers.
I love this chap. I bought him in the sale at Anthropologie.
And my growing collection of Fat Lava pots…..eBay is a dangerous thing.
I thought I’d do a sweep round the house and how the rooms are right now as I am constantly shifting things about. Lets start with the bathroom. Coming in from the landing.
Little baskets bought in a market on holiday.
I love these Anthropologie towels.
I’ve always loved the cracked paint on this door.
And my favourite bit is this little green door knob.
Recently I received an invitation to a seminar at Anthropologie on Regent Street (this is no special treatment – I’m just on their mailing list and keeping the company afloat with my spending habits). It’s pretty close to my office so I went after work.
The event was very well attended, I was lucky to get a seat. I’ve never been to a do like this before and it was hard to avoid noticing that almost everyone was female, incredibly well-groomed with fashionable (but not too fashionable) clothes and quirky jewellery that showed her creative side. We tip our hat to this cliché, gently side step it and move on….
The evening was based around a talk given by Abigail Ahern to support the launch of her new book Decorating With Style – and yes I bought one, in one stroke doubling my collection of interior design books.
I wasn’t sure what to expect and whilst I have heard of Abigail I wasn’t that well-informed about her style. So I was pleasantly surprised to find it really interesting. Abigail made a few points that resonated with me, things that I felt I had stumbled upon in some of my more successful projects which Abigail helpfully explained making it much more likely that I will now remember them and use them again. Thanks Abigail.
Here are a few things she said which made me think…hmm…yes I’ll remember that.
- Create multiple focal points. Rather than settling on one major focus to the room you can actually have a few points of interest, so a big mirror, a cool lamp, a crazy rug etc. It draws the eye around the room, creates interest and is generally a more pleasing space to look at. Abigail recommends going for at least three but to avoid sensory overload limit the colour palette that you use.
- Don’t paint small spaces white to make them appear bigger. You often hear people say that you should paint a small room a light colour to make it bigger. I’ve thought before that makes no sense, pale doesn’t really mean big and actually small rooms can be cosy, attractive places to be, particularly if you use cosy dark colours, so why fight it. If you create an interesting and beautiful room no one’s first thought will be “small” when they walk in, or at least that won’t be the first thing they think.
- Paint boring stuff in the same hue. That includes ceilings, doors, skirting, shelves and even flooring. Abigail makes the point that this allows what you put into the room to really stand out. I think it makes the room feel coherent in a way you can’t quite put your finger on when you walk in. Once you start looking plenty of rooms have the ceiling the same colour as the walls you just don’t particularly notice it. I’ve tried to convince people before to do this, with no positive results so far. So here I am giving it another go…
Bedroom in the basement flat with walls and ceiling the same shade of green
- Don’t forget practical rooms. Abigail points out that people often ‘stop’ decorating when it comes to bathrooms, halls and kitchens as they are functional spaces. What I really liked was her attitude to kitchens in particular. She keeps the standard elements of fitted cupboards to a minimum and spends her budget on interesting elements, like lights – why not have an over the top chandelier in a kitchen? She’s also a fan of open storage on the basis that a wall of blank cupboards is dull whereas a space to show interesting plates or even everyday items can be quite lovely.
- Level of madness should be 80% normal to 20% odd. Pretty simple really, having lots of eclectic items together adds interest, too many and it’s not fun anymore
- Have confidence with colour. It’s transformative and cheap. Just paint it back if you don’t like it.
- Use pattern and texture. Rugs are the best way to add pattern and don’t be afraid to contrast patterns and textures as long as you restrain the palette you’re using.
- Decorate for less. Paint cheap furniture to add interest or paint a rug on the floor or panels on the wall. Cover cheap blinds in wallpaper or the risers on your stairs. Shop vintage (but not all vintage).
- Don’t stop too soon. Accessories create the interest within a room.
She said a lot more, but those were the bits I remembered.
And here’s a link to Abigail’s Pinterest page which is well worth a look. And some pictures that she shared on the night.
Some colour, some hardware.
The front door has been given a coat of paint, same kind inside and out. It’s Blue Ground from Farrow and Ball.
The surround still needs a final coat and the wall painted where the render has been fixed. Plus there’s a weird bit of cable hanging down that needs to go. So this is only halfway through. We had to add some bars on the door as well, the glass area as slightly bigger than we’d anticipated and given that this door is hidden from sight it needed some additional security.
On the back of this door is a new brass handle, an eBay purchase. The door had been sticking a bit and this made it easier to close, although that doesn’t seem to be much of a problem anymore. Nevermind, I like the handle anyway.
On the same theme I also bought a door knocker for the new flat front door, also from eBay.
All ready to be fitted.
The bathroom doors also have new additions. On the bedroom side they are from Anthropologie.
And on the bathroom side they were bought by my parents on a holiday.
Final new purchase is this sewing box, it’s supposed to be a mid-century and Danish made, I bought it from Germany.
Quite stylish for a sewing box.
A new year and we’re back on track with the house. Starting with a big plastering project.
We’ve decided to get the front hall and the top three floors of stairs done. Some sections need to be totally replaced as the plaster is shot, some bits are full of holes and some sections just need simple skimming to touch up what is already there.
But to be ready for the plasterer we had to get all the wallpaper stripped so it was easy for him to start work.
Holes roughly filled.
Some places are quite hard to reach…
Unfortunately we didn’t leave enough time and some late night work was required.
In the front hall the arch has been sadly ruined. We need to look for some corbels to fit beneath this which are as in keeping as we can mange to give this a bit of detail and interest back.
And so we’re all set and work started today. Once done we’re onto choosing a colour scheme. We’re hoping that tidying the hall and stairs up will make the house look less like a building site and more like a home that needs a bit of work. It’s a subtle but important difference…
Next up a selection of scrapbook shots, images I have collected. In some cases I want to keep them as reminders for the house and some I just like.
In no particular order.
A lampshade made out of a bucket.
A chair with cutlery printed onto it.
A matching row of lights (I’ve always wanted this for the kitchen).
Some great floor tiles.
Plants growing in old tins.
And finally a kitchen display in Anthropologie.
Whilst we have a house which isn’t even halfway finished we’ve still tried to give it a bit of seasonal cheer. Even if in some cases it’s a bit depressing….
But some of the other rooms are not so dismal. The sitting room being an almost completely finished room is looking quite festive and is the room we have chosen to put our tree up in. I’ve invested in a few new decorations. Here are a couple of my favourites from Anthropologie.
And some I made myself last year from salt dough. I’m actually surprised they’ve lasted so well. Kirstie did something similar on her show, here are some instructions she has helpfully provided. They are very very easy to make and I like the slightly haphazard look.
And on the mantlepiece….
And downstairs I haven’t done too much with, but tried to make it a little festive. These lights came with the house and are not my thing but are in my view greatly improved by being nicely obscured.
And I have also picked up a few more new bits and bobs from the local profusion of pound/discount shops – it is possible to spot some good things if you can try to screen out all the surrounding rubbish. Here are a couple of the better ones.
Some glittery deer. Very kitsch but then so is Christmas in general.
And some little trees which I think I will use as table decorations.
And finally we’ve got our first wreath for the front door. A front door we’ve actually painted, added new numbers too and bought a knocker for (for a while we had no doorbell and no knocker and therefore no way of knowing if anyone was waiting to come in). Here it is before, although in this one we have already added a new outdoor light.
And here’s the new door knocker we bought up close.
And a very seasonal shot from the weekend with some timely and photogenic snow. The paint we have used is Farrow and Ball Down Pipe and we’re also planning to use this on the windows as well – when we get around to it.
It’s all been very quiet on house projects recently. We have both been very distracted with work projects and so nothing much has happened.
But we have made a few small improvements to the bathroom although it’s far from complete. The room has been fully plastered now and so we’ve just painted it all white for the time being. Which makes quite a big difference, feels like less of a building site.
We’ve also finally been able to install the towel heater we bought ages ago and given how cold it is at the moment it is a welcome improvement.
The light is all dappled in this shot because I have also bought a lace curtain to go over the bottom section of the window which has put an end to the live shows we’ve been giving the neighbours. It’s an old-fashioned choice but it means you still get a glimpse of the garden and some crucial privacy.
It’s from John Lewis.
I have invested in some new towels. Half our old ones seem to have disappeared in the move and the ones we had left kept getting used for blocking up leaks and generally ruined. The new ones are mainly from Anthropologie and we’re keeping them in this cupboard we bought before the move and have been storing in the basement until now.
I fancy painting it, but we’ll hold off until we decide on flooring, wallpaper and any other colours we might have in this room.
And lastly we have finally bought and installed the clothes airer. It’s currently directly over the bath. It’s a little intrusive as it’s in front of the light from the window but I much prefer it to having clothes on floor standing versions everywhere.
Things still be done are quite extensive:
- Sort the skirting board
- Panelling behind the bath
- Choose and install flooring (which depressingly probably means we’ll have to take up the bath, sink etc)
- Fit the lights (all bought and ready to go)
- New taps for the sink and bath
- Decide whether to strip the existing door or keep as is
And lots of other stuff I am probably forgetting.
A small update.
I’ve been doing a little sale shopping for those small finishing touches that can be hard to find when you need them and pricey. A few of my finds have been used already and the others I am hoarding as they wait for their moment.
The Graham and Green warehouse sale was the source for some bathroom accessories. We put a small sink in the spare bedroom for guests as being on the top floor we thought it might seem a bit of a trek to the bathroom even though it’s only down one level. We already pleased we did as we were sleeping in their while our room was worked on and it was really useful.
Here is just one example.
This comes from their Fleur de Lys range which is still on sale.
Then from Anthropologie I bought all these door knobs all for just a pound or so each. These have no particular purpose as yet but will be useful to add a bit of interest to our furniture.
I’ll upload some shots once we have fitted some of these.