Monday, 13 October 2014

Blue/black. Love it or loathe it?

We've just about finished the front room now bar the odd picture or two.

I think I like it.....

I argued with myself over colour along the fireplace wall. Too dark? Wrong shade all together?

The thing is, sometimes you just have to go for it. It's only a painted wall after all. I can change it relatively inexpensively if I decide it's not right. At the moment, I think it is.

I'll start with the 'before' picture taken from the agent's details. Very brown!

Fortunately this room is triple aspect and therefore benefits from lots of natural light. As a result we could afford to introduce some dark, bold colour. Sticking with a bit of a theme....though I try to avoid too much 'theming' I introduced some citrus zing via cushions and will in time bring in some further colour with pictures.

I didn't really want white walls everywhere, despite having originally planned to have white walls everywhere! We tested lots of wall colours including purples and greens but eventually plumped for Farrow and Ball 'Railings' along the chimney breast wall. Though this looks black on this photo, it is actually an intense blue. I don't really go for blue and black together, but on this occasion it actually helps that the wood burner is black as it clearly shows the blue in the wall if that makes sense.  

I don't know if any of you have seen that new Interior Designer challenge show that has been on recently, where amateur designers are let loose on members of the public's homes...presented by the woman that was a dealer on 4 Rooms? Anyway. Last week, one of the rooms featured a black wall and one of my friends happened to comment asking why anyone would paint a wall black?
Given that the room was quite small and quite traditional in style, I would agree. Black was completely wrong. Any kind of feature wall in a dark or bold print needs space and preferably light to sit comfortably. I'm not sure where they found these amateur designers, but I would have cried had they done any of the things they did on my house!
We haven't been out and bought new furniture for this room and so I have mixed a few more traditional items from the cottage with some slightly more contemporary touches. Margo, the cat, has a new cushion!
Wood burner - Charnwood
Stove and hearth fitting -
Paint - Farrow and Ball 'Railings' -
Sofas - Ikea
Cushions - John Lewis and Oka
Flooring - engineered, oiled oak.


Saturday, 30 August 2014

Trend follower, trend setter, somewhere in between....or couldn't give a flying....?

I've been having a look at what is trending, or will be, in the world of interior design. For the record, I really don't like the expression 'on trend'. To my mind, it's a commercial term designed to make us think that if we buy in to the idea that something is 'on trend' that we will immediately rush out and buy it or grab the idea and plaster it around our houses. If something is 'on trend' you can bet your bottom dollar it will be 'off trend' a month or so later, if it isn't already by the time you've parted with your cash.
My point is, is it really that important to be on trend?

I listened to a presentation recently by some industry insiders...journalists and interior stylists....who debated the very subject. The conclusion, not surprisingly, was that taste is a very personal thing. Stylists (interiors) will look to the seasons' trends when advising clients, probably to avoid being labelled as 'so last season' by others in the industry. For commercial reasons, stylists need to be 'on trend' as they often work for the trend setters. A good stylist, however, will take in to account a clients likes and dislikes and try and marry this up with current trends and what they know will work.

You might be like me. I rarely pay too much attention to what's trending in interior décor. I read loads of magazines and look at what's happening, so probably know what is being pushed in my direction, but I like what I like whether it is bang on trend or not. If it is, it tends to be accidental! Same with my wardrobe. I'm definitely not a trend setter (or a trend follower) in this arena...

I like Pippa Jameson's view that someone is truly trendy/fashionable if they follow their own style with confidence irrespective of the trend setters.

By the time something hits the high street and prior to that, the press, it is almost a 'has been'. An example would be animal motifs on cushions and soft furnishings. Massive the last couple of years with foxes, owls, birds and butterflies everywhere. By the time we've all bought an owl cushion, the industry has moved on!

So, what's trending going forward then? Well...the good news is there are a couple of trends that are considered 'enduring' in that they will always pop up in some form or other but just be given a different name or description! Monochrome being the first. I wonder what it will be called this time?

This is a particular favourite of mine. I love the structure of monochrome schemes and they are versatile in that you can add colour at any point to soften or add a bit of pizazz and alter the balance of black or dark and light.

Pastels also feature. Great for period properties....bit more difficult in a modern property but a bit of pastel can work well against monochrome...a soft pink or a minty green for example.

Our love of grey continues.  Look more to the blues for inspiration. Obviously this encompasses stronger hues and pastels. One of my favourites is Railings. I love the depth with a hint of blue. Probably my colour of choice for our living room wall. The deep, rich colours work well with white and with metallic.

So, if you follow trends and like any of the above then good on you. If, like me, you follow your own sense of style, then good on you too! If you love your owl cushion, like I like my polar white, Formica work surface (apparently Formica is making a massive comeback!) then keep loving it. Well. For the record, I love it, trendy or not!

Friday, 29 August 2014

Relishing updating a fireplace and putting off looking at TV storage!

As you know, our next project is the living room. Here's a quick shot of how it looked when we viewed the property. Each to their own...but not my taste. Very brown. The flooring change half way through the room marks the point where an extension was added and the owners decided to carpet the extension section. Anyway. Plenty of scope for improvement with lots of light from double doors and 2 additional windows and views over the garden. So far we  removed all of the shelving and stripped and lined all the walls ready for painting. We've removed all of the plastic skirting and will be replacing with wood. Nothing fancy...just standard skirting. The wood floor we have in the kitchen (see previous posts) is being continued through into this room.

The fireplace is opposite the double doors and featured a dark wood reproduction fire surround (fire wood!), brown tiles and a gas fire (removed). The plan is to create a wider opening and install a wood burner....partly because we've had a few trees cut down and therefore have a plentiful supply of logs...and partly because we love the heat generated by wood burners. The look will be plain and simple. 
The table on view is a relic of our previous cottage existence and is waiting to go to new owner. The tool kit belongs to the 5 year old who intends on helping with the tile and hearth removal apparently...
The internal doors to study and hall will also be changed at some point...but that will have to wait for now. As with other rooms, in the short term, we have, at least, updated the door handles to a more contemporary style. Small changes at a time are sometimes necessary.
I've yet to decide on a scheme for this room but I've been trawling the mags and looking at so many houses...checking Pinterest and generally having a good nosey whenever I'm out! 
Below are a couple of the rooms I like and from which I am thinking of taking my inspiration. This to me, is quite a grown up look, but I'll only be stealing elements. Splashes of vibrant colour play a part, of course. I quite like the burst of pink from the coffee table but I'm not sure how that will go down with the boys in the house...
The plan so far is to paint the fireplace wall (the full width of the room) in an off black colour. Quite dramatic...and very dark....but as the room is spacious and gets a fair amount of natural light, I think it can take it. The remaining walls will be white. I considered a paper for the wall rather than paint, but my problem with paper is I tend to fall head over heals for a paper and love it for a while but then grow increasingly tired when I spot something else or feel the need to paint over it. My husband pointed out, quite rightly, it just becomes expensive lining paper! Experience has taught me that paper is not the way to go for me on this occasion.
Working with a dark colour relies on finding colours via accessories/artwork to provide, literally, some light to counteract the depth. At the same time, with a dark colour only on one wall, the white walls will need some contrast in order to balance the room and not leave it looking like a game of two halves.
I was going to talk TV storage units (yuk!).....but I can't quite bring myself to broach the subject yet. This will be where I struggle massively but am not allowed to chuck out the TV! I'm hoping I will stumble across an inexpensive piece of interesting furniture that can double up as a TV stand/table.

We're also working on a small playroom just off the dining kitchen. So far, this has been lined and painted brilliant white. Again, this was a dark, brown nothing kind of room. As it's probably going to end up as the toy graveyard, we are keeping it predominantly white and have purchased some retro comic posters just to add a bit of interest and colour. These were sale purchases from online supplier


And finally. If you're a fan of colour, check out Will Taylor's blog,
I love it! I read about Will in a magazine. He takes great pictures and uses colour really well. I can see I'll be tuning in to this site on a regular basis!  

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Colourful bargain purchase of the week from Waitrose!

After an elongated rest from the world of interiors I have kick started the next phase with a really exciting purchase! (said sarcastically...).

We've just ended a really lovely week down in Hampshire in the delightful New Forest. I'm not paid by the Hampshire Tourist Board, but it really is lovely down there. A great mix of forest walks and just a hop, skip and a jump to the beach. The smalls loved it. My daughter is obsessed with horses and therefore when we came across 'free range' donkeys happily plodding along Beaulieu high street her eyes nearly popped out of her head! That was just the start. Our friends live in the New Forest and, for daughter, opening the front door and looking across the road at New Forest ponies grazing right in front of you was like seventh heaven! Son was less impressed with 4 legged friends but loved hooking up with his 2 legged little girl pal. Both 5 years old, they already resemble an old married couple. I think our families would all agree that wifey wears the trousers in the relationship...mostly by default as my son becomes totally subservient in our friends' daughter's company! We need to borrow her on a regular basis!

Anyway. As usual, I digress. Wifey's (name for purpose of this blog) mum and grandma and I share common interests, one being going out for lunch, but choosing a route allowing us to wander in and out of housey/interior and clothes shops! But it was actually a supermarket find that made me part with my money on this occasion....though I do have a few non-purchase regrets already.

Wifey's mum had previously purchased some colourful plastic cups from Waitrose picnic range and I eyed them up immediately and made it my (sad) mission to track some down. Anyway. Here they are. Lovely jewel colours and completely practical for outdoor use (or, indeed, indoor use for children) and in the sale at £2.50 for a box of 4. So much so, I bought 4 boxes on the basis that they would make ideal children's party cups as alternative to the disposable variety. Not a show stopping purchase but a pleasing one all the same.

Over the coming weeks we are transforming our living room with new fireplace, flooring and décor so stay tuned!


Monday, 26 May 2014

A few finishing touches

With a few finishing touches we final have our new, fully functioning kitchen. Hoorah!
Pretty chuffed with the result and in at just under 20k, including building work (knocking 3 rooms into one), kitchen cabinets (incl. fitting and painting) plumbing, electrics, new appliances, engineered, oiled wood flooring and extras such as light fittings. All in all, quite a good result for the budget.


A few mementos of our travels. I painted the frames with Farrow and Balls 'Railings' to contrast the mustard walls and to frames the blues in the picture.

For the first time in years I can actually see exactly what I have in my cupboards! 2 larder cupboards are amongst my favourite elements. May have to do a slightly bigger food shop to fill one though!

Source book.....
Kitchen cabinetry
Building, plumbing and electrics - Trident Heating & Electrics Ltd/Snap Developments
Appliances - Bosch inducton hob, Bosch cooker hood, AEG built in double oven, Rangemaster undercounter freezer, Hotpoint larder fridge, Zanussi dishwasher, Blanco double sink and Franke Basel tap. All
Paint - (French Grey Dark) from, (Mustard)



Saturday, 17 May 2014

I love English mustard. Now it's even on the walls!

Progress in the kitchen department!

From this (November)....

To this......a couple of weeks after we moved in!

To this......

Still a bit of a way to go but we are nearly there. Another week and we will be able to actually start properly using the kitchen/family room.

The kitchen units need their coat of Little Greene's French Grey Dark and we've added the fabulously uplifting yet warm mustard colour by Habitat on the end wall.

For anybody that loves spicy yellows I would urge you to try a tester of Mustard. I was a little apprehensive, not being a massive fan of any member of the yellow family, and I worried that it would not look as good as the magazine photo I referred to in my last post.

I love a cheese sandwich, on ham, with anything and everything to be honest....but on the walls?

You know how it is. It normally happens to me with outfits. I see a great outfit, picture myself in it in my head and then when I actually try it on I'm crushingly disappointed by how I actually look in it. My worry was mustard on my wall would disappoint in the same way.

But no! I love it. This photo was taken at dusk and it looks as good, if not better, as day light fades. So much so, I'm painting a little more. We're going to paint the wall with double doors out on to the garden with the same colour. This will also tie the kitchen/dining and seating areas together. All other walls are brilliant white.

I hope the sun is shining where you are.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Progress in the kitchen department

This is going to be a short, sharp blog as I am working between coffee catch ups, school run and more coffee catch ups!

I've had what might be described as an epiphany on the kitchen front. As anyone who knows me and has spoken to me of late will confirm, I have been backwards and forwards again and again with the decision of what colour to have the new kitchen units painted! As ever, I have had 3am arguments with myself on what to do. We have tested endless pots of paint and not one has quite left me with that 'Yes. That's the one' moment.

What has actually happened, and what often happens with me and the decision making process, is that I have just about come full circle and ended up with the colour that I started out with....just a little darker.

So. To the plan.

The kitchen cabinets have been arriving. Progress. The kitchen has been filled with a lovely wood smell. I about collapsed when, in the absence of any other men other than the joiner, I had to help him lug a couple of larder cabinets from the van in to the kitchen. Obviously I had a point to prove, that a wimpy looking woman could indeed manage such a task. The fact that my arms were wobbling like jelly as a result and I nearly dropped his cup of coffee kind of gave the game away....but at least I didn't have to call on a neighbour!

We are having the cabinets painted in Little Greene's French Grey Dark. The work surface is white and the floor, light oak. The kitchen below is French Grey Dark, to show an example.

My original thought had been to paint the cabinets a very pale grey. I then decided this looked boring next to the floor and moved on to lime-ish green colour, via yellows. I then decided that looked a bit too bright and moved on to slate blue/grey. That looked too dark so I moved back, via a few other obviously wrong choices, to grey. French Grey Dark gives that good balance of neutral but strong enough to contrast the white work surface. It is also very definitely grey. Farrow and Ball's French Grey, for example, has a definite green tint to it.
My other reservation was that from the start I had wanted to avoid the end result being too traditional looking (hence my brief foray in to the world of limes and yellows). With this in mind I spotted this pic in a magazine and  had that moment of knowing exactly what I was going to do.
Just off picture (of the new cabinets above), but at this near end, we have a utility room and the idea is to paint the wall between the kitchen and utility in a shade similar to the above (Mustard by Habitat), if not the exact colour above. The door in to the kitchen is at the opposite end of the room so you will see this flash of colour as you come into the kitchen. Our table and dining chairs are similar to the ones on the picture and therefore the overall effect should be a good balance of modern and classic with all other walls , running in to the dining/tv area, painted white. Greys and citrus colours do generally work well together.

We are still managing to stick to a really strict budget. The windows in our kitchen/family room are pretty standard UPVC ones (already in before we bought the house) with pretty corny sills.....but they have scrubbed up quite well and frankly, we can't afford to replace them. They are white and in perfectly good working order. They are staying.

My long suffering hubby will sigh with relief that the tester pot shopping is over for now.....provided that the Habitat colour is not too mustardy.....................

Don't sit back yet, darling!