Monthly Archives: May 2015

Is yellow the new mustard?

I’ve been a mustard fan for some time now. Not the English or whole grain varieties, but the kind that has been creeping into interiors for the past year or so. It was inevitable really what with all the beautiful grey paints and soft furnishings available, it’s a natural pairing. Like the grey it’s sophisticated and elegant, but it brightens up a scheme without being gaudy. However, it might be the sunshine going to my head but I’m beginning to think we can go a bit brighter……

It started when my friend Annie arrived yesterday for a short break. Annie is a bold decorator who loves a bit of glitz and glamour. Her master bathroom features a black bath with a sparkly floor and a glittery disco ball, her favourite colour is red, and she’s not shy when it comes to animal prints, in her wardrobe or home. So I wasn’t at all surprised when she told me she was on the look out for and struggling to find a canary yellow metal garden table to go with the red metal chairs she’d recently acquired. I love an interiors challenge, so while she flicked through a stack of my house porn I started surfing, and the more yellow I saw the more I liked it. By the time dinner was ready I’d already decided the replacement covers for the sofa in my summer house were going to be yellow. Here are just a few reasons why I think yellow might just be the new mustard.

Yellow chest of drawers in vintage bedroom

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It’s a good warm, sunny colour for a young girls bedroom, but not as a wall colour, just a piece of furniture with hints in the soft furnishings like here.

Yellow fireplace in a grey living room

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I can honestly say I would never have thought of painting a fireplace yellow but look how well this works against the pale grey walls.

Yellow sofa in living room

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I’m even considering it for the sofa in my summer house after seeing this but I think it needs to be surrounded by bold prints as shown in this room to avoid looking too twee.

Yellow four poster bed frame

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I recently used mustard as an accent colour in a pale green room with botanical elements, but a brighter yellow would have worked just as well and I love this four poster bed frame.

Yellow kitchen units in grey kitchen

 

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I’m still not sure about yellow kitchen units though……it does remind me of the toy kitchens made for little girls.

Yellow front door

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But I do love it as a front door colour, very cheery and welcoming. This one looks great with the white walls and rosy pink rugs.

So are you sold or do you think it will be a summer fad replaced by mustard again in October? I’ll leave you to ponder while I go and hunt for yellow fabric for my sofa….but before I go, great news Agata has returned! AWOL for 36hrs then strolls nonchalantly up the drive as if she’s never been away. Where she was is a mystery but she still has that jaunty look about her which suggests she was having fun…..the dirty stop out.

 

A sad day at Holly Cottage


Agata the escapologist chicken

Agata is MIA and presumed dead. She didn’t come home last night or this morning for breakfast, and a thorough search of the surrounding fields, gardens and sheds has not provided any clues to her whereabouts so we can only assume the worst. Death by fox.

I will miss her escapades and her jauntiness. She was the only one of my girls that could fly out of the coop. She wasn’t deterred when I built a fence to stop her accessing my neighbours garden and eating the bird food, she just walked down the lane and through her front gate. She had also mastered my neighbours cat flap and developed a taste for whiskas, but she always left a thank you note (albeit an unwelcome one…).

But most of all I will miss her double yolkers. Must have been all that bird and cat food…… Double yolker

 

Warning, reading this will cause severe house envy….

Its back to life in the slow lane again after my recent London jaunt. I do love my new life but a city fix is needed occasionally or there’s a strong chance I will become very unkempt and a bit dotty from spending to much time with chickens. This trip also delivered evidence that dispels two myths about London that I have enjoyed sharing with my fellow Cumbrians.

Myth One – Eating out in London is expensive: Two of the best meals I had that weekend cost less than a fiver. The first was a homemade, warm from the oven scotch egg. Orangey yolk, wonderfully seasoned pork with a touch of black pudding. Absolutely delicious. If you ever find yourself in N1 and hungry, find The Marquess and you will not be disappointed. The second was a portion of chips and curry sauce from a chippy in Blackheath Royal Standard, which would have knocked the socks of any triple cooked, gastro-pub efforts. Classy no, delicious, hell yes.

Myth two – Londoners are unfriendly: In preparation for my triathalon next month I went for a run in Greenwich park and five minutes from the house tripped over my own clumsy feet and took the skin off both knees and palms like a 6 year old. Half a dozen people offered assistance, including a lovely couple that administered first aid and two passing drivers who offered to take me to A&E. Thankfully my pride was the biggest injury sustained but it was heart warming to encounter so many good Samaritans.

But the highlight of my trip was without a doubt the North London House Tour organized by Livingetc. A chance to nosy around seven amazing private homes with a bunch of like-minded interiors enthusiasts, with all proceeds going to Crisis the national charity for single homeless people. We had been asked not to take photographs inside the houses but the staff and homeowners gave me permission to take a few which I can share with you now – apologies for the image quality, they really don’t do these properties justice.

I started at house #4 on the tour, a 5-storey Victorian property that despite being filled to the rafters with artwork and curiosities didn’t feel cluttered. I stood for 10 minutes in the living room alone just soaking it all in. I didn’t even ask if I could take a photo I was so in awe so this is the one from the tour guide. Favourite thing about this house – the vintage lights.

Green and white room with vintage lights

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Next stop was house #3, a stained back cedar cube nestled between brick Georgian properties. Overall I found this house a little too stark. However, there were two things that took my breath away. The first was the view of their neighbours tree from the living room window, a huge expanse of glass that stretched the length of the room, which made you feel like you were in the treetops. On the opposite side of the room was a wall of floor to ceiling cupboards, and if I can offer my interiors two-penneth, personally I would have given them mirrored glass doors to reflect this vista, which would have been stunning all year round. The second was the view of the Japanese maple (Acer) in a private courtyard outside one of the bedrooms.

Stunning tree view from living room window View of Japanese maple (acer) from bedroom window

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On to house #2, a 3-storey Victorian villa with the most amazing kitchen overlooking the garden. What made the interior of this house so eye catching was the neutral colour scheme with the pops of bright primary colours in window blinds, bathroom vanity units and other items.

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Thankfully house #1 was just around the corner as I was starting to flag at this point. The house was beautifully decorated and furnished but the thing that caught my eye was the paint effects, particularly this one below which really framed the eves of the house.

Paint effect that frames the room

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On route to house #5 I popped into The Marquess for sustenance and was treated to another interiors surprise which I hope my fellow enthusiasts discovered. The lighting is what stood out, but I also loved the exotic ceiling fans in the main dining room.

Cluster of black vintage ceiling pendants in The Marquess in N1 image

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The trek to house #5 was a little long, but worth it. Another multi-storey Victorian villa, but this time a minimalists dream, all pale greys and very little furniture. I’m actually convinced this house isn’t lived in yet, as there was little evidence of occupancy . But it was here I suffered a severe case of bathroom envy.

White, grey and marble bathroom in Victorian property with gold fixtures

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I nearly didn’t make it to house #6 which was entirely my own fault for getting lost, taking the wrong bus and missing my stop when I found the right bus. This Edwardian terrace is owned by an artist who has turned it into an oasis of light and calm. I had another bout of bathroom envy when I saw the pebbled floors, and I loved her use of pale pink, which is a colour I have never liked and now want to plagiarise. And yet another beautiful garden….

Pebbled bathroom floor image image

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Last stop was at the top of an almighty hill but worth the climb as they had saved the best till last. The owner is an interior designer (Mad Cow Interiors) who has a bold and eclectic style which might not be for everyone but I loved it. The corrugated metal effect wallpaper, the hanging basket chair in the living room, the customised furniture, the album cover floor in the games room, the first floor sun deck, her amazing walk in wardrobe and boudoir bedroom. Even the downstairs loo was cool. I wanted to move in.

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Funky pop art decorated toilet Hanging basket chair

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So a huge thank you to the organisers, volunteers and home owners for delivering such an amazing event, I will definitely be back next year, by which time I should have recovered from the severe case of house envy. But for now I’d better go and feed those chickens….in the rain….and wind….

The definition of house porn

The term house porn has been in my vocabulary for years and one I use frequently but it only struck me this week that I might need to explain myself in case I’m branded a pervert. Surprisingly Wikipedia my favourite online encyclopaedia describes food porn but not house porn, which presents me with a golden opportunity to define it myself, I’ve even created my own Wikipedia account in order to start the process! In the meantime this is my draft, which admittedly plagiarises heavily Wikipedias definition of food porn…..

House porn – a glamourised spectacular visual presentation of homes, interiors or home furnishings in advertisements, print and digital media, blogs, television shows, events or other visual media intended to arouse a desire to own the objects displayed or re-create the effects shown.

What do you think, do I have the makings of a Wikipedia article?

In the meantime here’s some house porn from Grand Designs Live this weekend!

Pendant cocoon lights from Mac Master Design

Stunning cocoon pendant lights from Mac Master Design

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Wide plank wood flooring from Siberian FloorsWide plank wood flooring from Siberian FloorsWide plank wood flooring from Siberian FloorsScreen Shot 2015-05-10 at 22.48.23Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 22.48.39

Gorgeous wide plank wooden flooring from Siberian Flooring

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Stylish kitchen from Prentice Furniture

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Walls, crawl and all that jazz – my hunt for the perfect wallpaper

Before I became an interior designer I worked for the same company for 20 years but in multiple roles. Every 2 years or so I would change jobs, and would joke that it was so they would never find out I was rubbish. But the reality was every 2 years they would offer me new challenges and I would accept them. When Human Resources or Management would ask me want I wanted to do next I always gave the same answer; anything, as long as it not internally focused, too narrow a role, or business as usual. Fortunately for me the company was big enough (and challenged enough) that they never struggled to meet these criteria. In the end though it became a case of different job same challenges and my motivation had gone so it was time for a complete change and the opportunity to follow my true passion, interior design. This need for customer interaction, diversity and a challenge is probably why I love being an interior designer. Even a small bathroom needs wallpaper or paint, flooring, lighting, furniture, heating and plumbing, which are all specialisms in their own right, but an interior designer has to be knowledgable about them all. And when a customer says she wants flooring that looks like the one she saw in Frankie & Benny’s you have to accept the challenge…. I kid you not this actually happened to me, and I found her the exact match. She recently told me she wanted kitchen stools like ones she’d seen in Nando’s. I told her husband he needed to start taking her to classier places….

So the last 7 days has been all about wallpaper, specifically the perfect, simple, but contemporary, and a little bit glamorous wallpaper for a clients bedroom. I think we have the winner but the search has uncovered some beauties I wanted to share with you, and in the process I uncovered the source of the fabulous paper that I saw in Artisan (the recent hen night venue).

1. Brooklyn tins by Merci – first up is the paper I spotted in Artisan. Designed to look like vintage painted tiles, you have to touch it to believe its not real. It looks amazing on walls and ceilings and comes in 8 different designs. Usually £219 per roll, (although Hut.com have it for £139.99), which means most of us could afford to do at least 1 wall or ceiling……

Brooklyn tins wallpaper by Merci Brooklyn tins wallpaper by Merci Brooklyn tins wallpaper by Merci

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2. Vienna by Zoffany – when I got my hands on a sample of this in silver it looked like leather, and when I showed it to a client she thought it was like coral shells. It looks and feels gorgeous, most striking in the darker shades. 10 different colour ways, and £85 a roll so it won’t break the bank if you limit it to a feature wall.

Vienna wallpaper by Zoffany Vienna wallpaper by Zoffany Vienna wallpaper by Zoffany Vienna wallpaper by Zoffany

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3. Komodo, Cobra by Osborne & Little – this is so sexy it practically slithers off the walls and into bed with you. Comes in 5 colour ways, and at £56 per roll you could afford to do a few walls. Check out their other animal prints too, I also love Panthera and Boa

Komodo, Cobra wallpaper by Osborne & Little Komodo, Cobra wallpaper by Osborne & Little Komodo, Cobra wallpaper by Osborne & Little

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4. In the picture, Issue in Parchment – my customer has a white leather headboard on her bed which is what drew me to this wallpaper as it reminded me of the leather cushioning. It seems no one is brave enough to try it on their walls yet though as I couldn’t find any pics of it hung. Only £40 though so worth a gamble

In the picture, Issue wallpaper in Parchment

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5. Anaglypta Wallpapers, Herringbone – mention anaglypta and I automatically think about those awful 70’s patterned wallpapers and then I saw this. I admit I’m a little obsessed with herringbone pattern in any form but painted up this is divine and only £21 per roll. Perfect for halls and stairs I think

Anaglypta Wallpapers, Herringbone Anaglypta Wallpapers, Herringbone

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6. Tree Bark by Clarke & Clarke – another wallpaper that people view differently, I see silver birch and my customer thought it was distressed concrete. We both loved it though, but I agree with her its perhaps a little industrial looking for a bedroom. Around £40 per roll.

Tree Bark wallpaper in Birch by Clarke & Clarke Tree Bark wallpaper in Birch by Clarke & Clarke

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7. Mey Fern by Nina Campbell – and I think this might be the winner. It comes in 4 colour ways and is £56 per roll. I matched it with a paint called Oyster Shoal by Valspar and some very touchable crushed velvet by Clarke & Clarke. I also found some bedside wall lights that had up and down lighters to highlight the sweep of the ferns. With her white gloss bedroom furniture I think it will create the right amount of glamour – what do you think?

Mey Fern wallpaper by Nina Campbell Mey Fern wallpaper by Nina Campbell

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So in between wallpaper hunting and working on other client projects I have been feeling very young. Firstly, because I decided to enter my first ever triathlon. Long story short, work and illness has led to a decline in my exercise regime, which coupled with carb loading with Mr W after his diabetes diagnosis has caused me to gain more weight than I lost last year. The triathlon entry is to ensure I do not fall off the diet and exercise wagon. However, I have never been able to swim front crawl so I have also signed up for swimming lessons. Flailing around in cold water while being barked at by the rather formidable Elaine made me feel like I was 8 years old again. All that was missing was a brick at the bottom of the pool, a pair of pyjamas and veruca socks. Hats off to her though, within 30 minutes she had me doing a passable crawl which neither of us thought was possible at the start.

The second time I felt very young was on Monday night at the Theatre By The Lake in Keswick. It’s the jazz festival this week and we went to see Ray Gelato & The Giants. The last time I saw them play it was the late show at Ronnie Scotts and involved cocktails, dinner and plenty of wine. This time I had a coffee in the interval and was in bed by 10.30pm. Normally that would make me fell old but the average age of the audience was probably 72 so I still felt pretty sprightly.

Anyway, time to get my young self off to the swimming pool for lesson 3, only 5 weeks until the triathlon and I’m a long way off 20 continuous lengths…..