Category Archives: Industrial

The Mill at Ulverston

Us Brits love a good pub but often for different reasons. For Mr W it’s always about the beer. When we lived in Leeds he used to drag me to this godawful place with a sticky floor and customers that resembled the cast of The Hobbit because he swore the beer was the best in Yorkshire.  His new favourite haunt is The Swan Inn in Cockermouth which I worked on last year, and which he says serves the best pint in Cumbria.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Kirkgate Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd Joe Fagan

The Swan Inn, Cockermouth

For me a good pub has to have character. I want to see unusual features or something different in the deco that will spark one of those ‘ooh I like those lights’ kind of conversations. The kind of conversations Mr W just loves. Just like I love our chats about Leeds Uniteds chance of promotion this year…..

I like a pub where there are plenty of things to look at when me and Mr W are enjoying a comfortable silence. While he’s fantasising about Leeds Utd winning trophies I sit there mentally filing all the ideas I like for future projects and silently slagging off critiquing those I don’t. So I was very excited when the owner of The Mill at Ulverston got in touch after seeing what I’d done at The Swan Inn. Here  was another chance to create the kind of eye catching details I look for when I go in a new pub, and to be honest The Mill already had lots of interesting original features to look at, they just weren’t making the most of them. So are you ready for a few before and afters?  I make no apologies for the number of pics – there’s lots to show you.

The Mill at Ulverston

The Mill at Ulverston Gastropub Cumbria Steven Doherty Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The Mill at Ulverston

The Mill was originally one of Ulverston’s flour mills and parts of this grade II listed building date back to the 12th century. It was refurbished in 2009 but the interior was looking more than a little tired and the owner wanted to give it a makeover as part of a larger programme of investment, which included bringing in multi award winning chef Steven Doherty as their new Executive Consultant Chef. I won’t lie the menu was very uninspiring when I first visited The Mill but now the food alone is a reason to visit. But anyway back to the decor….

The Mill at Ulverston, Gastropub, interior design by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The main bar before the refurbishment

Faux leather chairs, cheap lighting and bare windows. Pretty bland eh?

The Brief & The Plan

The owner wanted The Mill to look like the gastropub he was planning to turn it into – a little bit traditional, a little bit modern and a little bit quirky. But not too different as the customers liked the original features, and I’ve found that in any pub regulars never like too much change. So I talked with the staff and (purely in the interest of research) spent a Friday night in the bar checking out and chatting to the customers. I then came up with a plan. The new interior would have a more industrial/vintage look by using metal, wood, leather and wool in the décor that would link it to the history of Ulverston, and its industrial and agricultural heritage. We would maximise the original waterwheel feature by improving the lighting and surrounding area, and introduce new decorative features based around the history of Ulverston and famous Ulverstonians. Intrigued?

Mood board for the main bar in The Mill at Ulverston gastropub in Cumbria

Mood board for the main bar

The Restaurant at The Mill

So lets start here shall we? The restaurant had loads of great features already, a high ceiling, original beams, exposed stone walls, beautiful windows and a great wood floor but it was very cold looking and to be honest a tad boring.

The Mill at Ulverston gastropub Cumbria

The Restaurant at The Mill before the refurbishment

But not anymore.

Restaurant at The Mill at Ulverston gastropub Cumbria interior design by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The Restaurant at The Mill at Ulverston – the new tan leather chairs and wool roman blinds instantly add colour and warmth

A big room needs big lighting so we replaced the chintzy chandeliers with large black metal orb lights and added matching rope and metal wall lights.

8-light metal orb chandeliers from Wayfair

8-light metal orb chandeliers from Wayfair

The Mill at Ulverston - rope and black metal candle wall lights from Homary

Rope and black metal candle wall lights from Homary

The combination of metal and rope really works in this industrial space but the lights are still ‘glam’ enough for the kind of restaurant this was going to be.

Restaurant at The Mill at Ulverston gastropub Cumbria interior design by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The restaurant at The Mill at Ulverston

There is a long wall on one side of the restaurant and the owner desperately wanted something doing with it but didn’t know what. I came up with two ideas;

  1. Have wallpaper made up of an old local ordnance survey map
  2. Ssuspend’ large industrial style mirrors from rope

I was a little stumped when he said yes to both. But when we got the wallpaper up we all agreed covering it with mirrors would be a mistake so we stuck with the wallpaper. It was made by a company called Redcliffe Imaging who were great at helping me work out what area to include. and how to best position the town name.

Restaurant at The Mill at Ulverston gastropub in Cumbria interior design by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Ordnance survey map wallpaper

Restaurant at The Mill at Ulverston gastropub in Cumbria interior design by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The metal and rope wall lights look great against the old map wallpaper

We still managed to incorporate my suspended mirror idea but just hung one on the wall opposite. The mirror is fixed to the wall but we used rope and hooks to make it appear suspended from the ceiling.

Industrial mirrors and lighting in the restaurant at The Mill at Ulverston gastropub in Cumbria interior design by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Industrial mirror from Maisons du Monde ‘suspended’ from the ceiling

Throughout the building I’ve added quotes from famous Ulverstonians and the one in the restaurant is my favourite. They were made for me by Wallboss who also made the wall stickers for The Swan.

The Ground Floor

The room behind the main bar on the ground floor  has always been a favourite with families and locals who want somewhere a little quieter to sit. The problem was it was a bit too dark and very stark looking – see? (Make note of that wall clock….)

The Bistro at The Mill in Ulverston before the refurbishment by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The Bistro at The Mill before the refurbishment

Looks a little more inviting now me thinks.

The Bistro at The Mill at Ulverston gastropub in Cumbria interior design by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The newly refurbished Bistro at The Mill

These new wall lights made a big difference, much brighter, and we added a couple more in the darker spots.

New industrial lighting at the mill in Ulverston

Industrial style antique bronze and clear globe wall lights from eBay

The wall clock is gone and in its place is a collection of vintage beer bottles in lighted alcoves. This false wall with recesses was easy to create and it instantly draws your eye when you walk into the room.  The wall panelling on the lower half of the walls was something the owner really wanted, and painting it a darker colour breaks up the walls.

Feature walls at The Mill at Ulverston gastropub in Cumbria interior design by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

New feature walls

Next to this we added a butchers paper roll for specials and re-hung some of their old prints with a few other items including mirrors, a couple of barometers and an alarm clock to add more interest.

Feature walls at The Mill at Ulverston gastropub in Cumbria interior design by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Butchers pall roll for daily specials

Feature wall clock in The Mill at Ulverston gastropub in Cumbria interior design by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The new wall clock – though I think it’s only a matter of time before some joker decides to set the alarm….

There was nothing wrong with the tables and chairs in here but we did reupholster the seats in a mix of tartan wool fabrics, again from Abraham Moon.  FYI I had big plans to make more of a feature of that fireplace but we ran out of time and budget.

The Mill at Ulverston wood burning stove gastro pub in Cumbria

The vintage road sign above the fireplace was from Etsy

The Cask Bar

A long corridor connects the room above to the Cask Bar at the front of The Mill and this is what it used to look like.

The Mill at Ulverston

Corridor linking the ground floor rooms at The Mill

When I was doing my research it struck me how many interesting things had happened in Ulverston, which is what led to the idea of creating a timeline of events. I had sleepless nights worrying I’d got the dimensions (and the facts) wrong and that it wouldn’t fit round the new lights, and I had quite an audience when I was installing it as every customer who visited the loo had a read over my shoulder. But it looks fab and has created a real talking point. Apologies for the first pic – it’s impossible to get a good picture without the lights on.

Timeline of historic events at The Mill in Ulverston

Timeline of historic events in Ulverston

All the new lights in The Mill are industrial or vintage in style but we made a point of using different lighting in each area to make it more interesting. We used these Brinley wall lights and the matching pendants in the Cask Bar.

The Mill at Ulverston - Antique bronze Brinley wall lights by Elstead and supplied by Limelighting in Cockermouth

Antique bronze Brinley wall lights by Elstead and supplied by Limelighting in Cockermouth

So now we’re in the main bar I have to show you some more before and after pics just to highlight the difference. Lets start by the fire.

The Mill at Ulverston gastropub Cumbria

The fireside in the Cask Bar before the refurbishment

…and now look at it.

The Mill at Ulverston gastropub Cumbria

The fireside in the Cask Bar after the refurbishment

The whole bar is just so much more inviting.

The Mill at Ulverston gastropub Cumbria

The Cask Bar after the refurbishment

I also suggested a future money saving idea which the owner liked. They used to spend a fortune  on candles, but I found these faux pillar candles which hold a tea light so instead of paying £1 or more for a candle which would last 2 nights at best they would pay pennies for tea lights. Genius eh? They’re from a company called Greige if you’re interested.

Candle lanterns on the window ledge and faux pillar candles for tealights supplied by Griege

The area of the bar I’m particularly pleased with is the snug behind the stove, which used to be very bare.

The Mill at Ulverston gastropub Cumbria

The snug before the refurbishment

It’s now uber cosy and a little bit edgy with it’s industrial mirror, rise and fall pendants and gallery wall. Those dark walls are painted in Farrow & Ball Salon Drab, and we used Valspar Earthy Beige where we needed to go a little lighter.

The Mill at Ulverston gastropub Cumbria

The snug after the refurbishment

So what do you think? Could this be your kind of pub?

I’m going to leave you with a final quote from another famous Ulverstonian, Mr Stan Laurel. If you want to see which other celebs were born in Ulverston you’ll have to pop in.

The Mill at Ulverston gastropub Cumbria wall stickers by Wallboss

One of the quotes from famous Ulverstonians to be found on the walls at The Mill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How many interior designers does it take to change a lightbulb?

Don’t worry I’m not venturing into the world of stand up comedy. Anyone who has heard me tell a joke knows that would be a mistake. But I would like to update the joke from how many (insert  profession, nationality, gender etc) does it take to change a lightbulb, to how long does it take them. I say this because ‘fess up, how many of you have:

  1. Left a lightbulb unchanged after it has blown for more than a month
  2. Put up a new light and stuck an ugly lightbulb in it just to get it lit then never got round to putting a better one in
  3. Noticed that each lightbulb in your matching pendant or ceiling lights is a different colour or wattage and done nothing about it
  4. All of the above

I’m an interior designer and I would have to tick option 4.

But today I smacked myself round the chops and sorted out all my lightbulb laziness in one fell swoop. I could tell you that I drew up an inventory of lightbulbs needed, did weeks of extensive research, placed multiple orders and spent half a day correcting all my mistakes, but I’d be lying.  Here’s what really happened.

It started with these lovely cage lights.

Lights vintage industrial Edison cage wall sconce lights

Image via Amazon

I wanted two for my utility room which has just had a makeover (more on that soon). I found them on Amazon for £20.99 each with free delivery thanks to my Amazon Prime membership, which BTW paid for itself in no time at all thanks to all the stuff I order online. I liked the size, the price and the fact they are hinged so the cage can point up, down, sideways or at a jaunty angle. I also liked how good they look with a filament lightbulb

Lightess vintage industrial Edison cage wall sconce light

Image via Amazon

What I didn’t realise though was that I would need a lightbulb that would fit through the cage as the neck of the cage is really narrow. So in the interim I stuck some ugly but skinny LED lightbulbs in (see below…) and went on the hunt for pretty ones.

Ugly narrow 60W LED lightbulb

A lot of the filament lightbulbs available have been designed for restaurants and bars, who want moody or romantic lighting not an airport runway so they tend to be 40W max. My utility room is below ground with one tiny window looking onto my garden path so I needed at least 60W if I wanted to stop mixing my darks with whites. After a couple of evenings on the couch I finally found these beauties on Amazon.

KINGSO E27 T10 60W vintage Edison style carbon filamented lightbulb

Image via Amazon

LED? Check. Right size? Check. Bright enough? Check. Pretty? Check. Right price? Hell yes. £10.68 for a pack of 6 with free Amazon Prime delivery which works out at just £1.78 each and 3000 hours of bright and beautiful light per lightbulb. Bingo. They’re from KingSo a US retailer but available on Amazon through Lerpby

KINGSO 6 pack of E27 T10 60W Vintage Edison style carbon filament lightbulbs

Image via Amazon

And this my friends is how my other lightbulb mistakes got fixed. I used two to replace the ugly ones in the utility room. I then had a lightbulb moment (I had to get that in somewhere) and put one in the landing light as the lightbulb blew last month. In my defence when it’s light from 4am to 10.30pm its hard to motivate yourself to rummage in the garage for a replacement, carry a chair upstairs to stand on, fiddle with the awkward screws that hold the very fragile amber glass shade in place and change the lightbulb. Apologies for the naff picture. It’s really hard to photograph a lit lightbulb, especially when there’s a window in the background.

John Lewis amber glass pendant light with filament lightbulb

As an aside filament lightbulbs look lovely in clear glass but they are in their element (no pun intended) in amber glass shades – see.

How a filament lightbulb looks in clear glass versus amber glass

I put the last three in my summer house where I had managed to commit all three sins. A blown lightbulb, an ugly lightbulb, and a mix of different coloured lightbulbs (one cool white and two warm white). Now doesn’t that look better.

Pendant lighting in Nordic style summer house / bar

If this has caused you to look round your home and acknowledge all the broken, ugly and mismatched lightbulbs you own, and you’re considering the filament route Nook London has a great range of shapes and sizes. Most are 40W but you could go for a large globe and lose the shade. Or install a cluster of the same lightbulbs….

Three bulb pendant light with filament lightbulb from Notonthehighstreet

Image via Notonthehighstreet.com

or a cluster of different lightbulb shapes or filament styles.

Cluster of mismatched filament lightbulb from Fritz Fryer

Image via Fritz Fryer

If you can’t find a multi-pendant light you like you can fit multiple pendants or get your electrician to fit them under one ceiling rose. Coloured cable adds a bit of extra impact. Or create a modern chandelier by fitting ceiling hooks and looping the cable through them. If you’re feeling adventurous Nook London have all the accessories you’ll ever need.

Modern chandelier using multiple filament lightbulb and ceiling hooks

Image via Pinterest

Last point before i stop waffling. Don’t think you have to betray your local retailers and shop online to get the best range and prices. Find the lights you like and show them to your local guys, sometimes they can source the same or a similar item for the same price or even less as I found out recently when my local retailer ordered a bathroom light for me for half the price of a major online retailer.

So right go – fix that lightbulb laziness right now.

Project Donatella and the metallic movement

Generally I like to think of myself as an early adopter, always on the look out for new ideas and trends, and after a few glasses of wine I might even suggest being a little ‘down with the kids’, (cue cringe) but I confess there are a couple of parties I’ve joined very late… It was a long time before I would ditch my boot leg jeans for skinny ones, but as a curvy 5ft 3.5 you can hardly blame me. When I finally discovered the TV series 24 I had 8 box sets  to catch up on, and I was still toting a blackberry until last summer, although I blame my former employer for that one. I’m ashamed to say it’s also taken me a while to really embrace the copper trend. When it first poked its nose into the interiors world I was convinced it was going to be a one season fad, that would leave the charity shops stock piling copper accessories. But two years on I have to admit it’s probably here to stay. Now I’m still luke warm about polished copper unless its subtle. Possibly because I’m imagining the cleaning required to keep it shiny…… I mean, come on, copper baths? You’re havin’ a larf. But I do love a bit of patina, particularly if it’s got a green hue to it. Industville have a fabulous range of industrial lighting and bar stools and I’m a massive fan. I have their pewter pendants in my kitchen, and I LOVE their vintage copper version. Now thats the patina I’m talking about.

Industrial style vintage copper pendant light from Industville

Old factory vintage copper pendant light from Industville

But for me the best thing about the copper trend has actually been the spin off – the whole metallic movement. We can now choose gold, brass, silver, copper or bronze, plus polished or antique finishes and a million tones in between. Fabulous. Which is why my latest job has been named Project Donatella, i.e. its rockin’ more bronze than Ms Versace after a long Italian summer.

So my client is buying a new kitchen from Cockermouth Kitchen Company, who I have a partnership with. She has chosen the kitchen and work surface she wants but has no idea what to do with the rest of the room and wants my help. She has picked very simple contemporary lacquered slab doors in a matt off white finish, and polished steel bow handles.

INZO kitchen in Porcelain

Inzo kitchen by PWS

The acrylic quartz effect worktop she has picked is grey with specks of white and brown.

MISTRAL IGNEA worktop by KARONIA

Mistral Ignea worktop by Karonia

It’s impossible to form any ideas until you’ve seen the room and the house it sits in, but the minute I did I knew what the new kitchen needed was a metallic touch of the coppery/bronze variety. I ran this suggestion past both the homeowners while I was there and they liked the idea so I was off to a flying start.

Back home, I started with the tiles. I wanted something big for the floor with lots of texture and shades of colour that would hide dirt and paw prints (remember we live in Cumbria – rain and dog central). It was love at first sight when I saw these in Topps. But at £54 a square metre I was going to need some alternatives.

Metalik wall and floor tiles from Topps

Metalik wall and floor tile from Topps

So I found these equally lush tiles suitable for walls or floors at aptly named Walls & Floors who I use a lot as they have a huge range and great prices, and their VIP service for trade customers is top notch. No they didn’t pay me to say that – its just true. These are only £29.95 a metre so a big price difference for tiles that don’t look that different.

Hellion Gold wall and floor tiles from Walls & Floors

Hellion Gold floor tiles from Walls & Floors

and then I stumbled across these lovely bronze armour tiles. You need to sit down before I tell you how much they are……£9.95 a metre – a billy bargain.

Bronze armour wall and floor tiles from Walls & Floors

Bronze Armour floor tiles from Walls & Floors

So floors sorted and onto walls. The kitchen is lacking in natural light, so even though the doors are off white I’m still going to suggest we keep the walls light and limit tiles to the areas around the sink and cooker so we can continue the metallic scheme. Number 2 on my list are these from Topps – they’ve got everything, colours, texture, patina…..they’ve also got a price tag though which is why they’re number 2. We won’t need much for the areas I’m proposing but they are over £200 a metre…

Copper fusion modular mix tiles from Topps Tiles

Copper Fusion Modular Mix tiles from Topps

I toyed with a very simple but chic copper coloured glass splash back for a while, but that was even pricier and it would have needed cleaning every 5 minutes which nipped that in the bud quite quickly. So these are my number 1 choice. Still not cheap at around £150 a metre but mosaic isn’t cheap and with my plan we won’t need much.

Copper mosaic tiles from Walls & Floors

Copper mosaic tiles from Walls & Floors

Next on the list – seating. They are having a breakfast bar which will be 1.4m by 90cm. Sounds big, yes? But they’re a family of 5 and the client would really like 5 stools. So do the math – they need to be narrow. They also need a seat height of around 65cm to work with an 80cm counter, which is 10cm less than a typical bar stool. I was gutted when I saw these beauties from Swoon and realised they were too high…..

Chrome and copper topped bar stools from Swoon Editions

Copper and steel Orson stool from Swoon Editions

So I’m suggesting these Xavier Pauchard Tolix style copper metal stools from Cult Furniture. They’re a little more industrial than I had been thinking about, but they’re the perfect size and colour and are only £69 each which is important when you’re buying 5.

Xavier Pauchard Tolix style copper metal stools

Xavier Pauchard Tolix style copper metal stools from Cult Furniture

Next major decision – lighting. Recessed spotlights are a no-brainer because of the lack of natural light, and there will be in cupboard and under cupboard lighting but I think every kitchen should have some feature lighting, particularly if there is a seating area. The room has the height for pendants, but not so much that I’d recommend one large pendant, and as the bar will have 3 seats on the long side I’m suggesting 3 smallish pendants. Remember how I said I’m luke warm about polished copper unless its subtle? Well how about these smoked glass and copper pendants for sleek, stylish and subtle?

Smoked glass and copper ceiling pendant lights from Habitat

Marlowe smoked glass and copper pendant lights from Habitat

Me being me, it isn’t enough having contemporary and industrial elements in a room I need to add something else. The client told me she wanted a contemporary kitchen but nothing uber modern. They had some really nice antique art deco furniture in their dining room which they’d picked up from a local dealer for a bargain. Both these facts suggested to me they might appreciate a nod to the past in their kitchen which led me to this clock which will match the dark wood window frames and the metallic tones. And if they don’t like the £120 price tag I know I can pick something up on eBay or when I’m out treasure hunting for less – if I’m lucky I might even find something original.

Newgate vintage inspired sunburst clock

Newgate vintage inspired sunburst clock available in John Lewis and Heals

So here’s the final mood board. The client hasn’t even see this yet so you’re getting a proper exclusive.  I’ll fill you in on the rest of my ideas if she gives it the thumbs up. I’m seeing her later this week so fingers, legs and eyes crossed please.

Mood board for contemporary kitchen with industrial and vintage elements by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

My new Nordic style sanctuary

If you live in the UK there’s a very good chance that there are days when you’re stuck indoors because it’s raining. If you have Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sky or a life this probably doesn’t bother you. But it bothers me. I like being outside. I hate being stuck inside whatever the weather. I just googled ‘what’s the opposite of agoraphobia’ to see if there was a name for it. It’s claustrophobia apparently, which I don’t have. But I think I have macrophobia (fear of long waits) and nomophobia (fear of losing cell phone contact). Oh the power and distraction of google. You search for a Jamie Oliver recipe and before you know it you’re reading about Japanese snow monkeys. Or maybe it’s just me. I once went out to buy a hairdryer and bought a car…….Favourite phobia on the list? Sesquipedalphobia, the fear of long words which, as the author points out seems like a cruel joke. Check out the list, its very funny informative 100 Weird Phobias.

Anyway, I digress. My point is, 3 years ago I came up with a solution. A way of being outside, enjoying the fresh air and my fell views without having to sit in the rain. I built a summer house. Well I say I….. I bought the house flatpack from Dunster House and had my local landscapers put it together and build a huge deck around three sides. It also solved the problem of what to do with the boggy bit of the garden that nothing grew in. At the time I didn’t want to spend a lot on the interior so just slapped on some paint and furnished it with spare furniture I already had. But it’s just had a makeover and ‘cor blimey’ it looks lovely. Want to come and take a look inside?

Nordic style summer house by Amelia Wilson Interiors. Interior Designer in Cockermouth, Workington and Keswick

The summer house makeover was my chance to work with styles and materials that don’t fit in my very rustic cottage. So although it’s still a little rustic (it is a log cabin after all) it has both Nordic and industrial elements.

Nordic summer house mood board by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

It’s basically a big wooden shed in what can be a very wet garden so I had to keep my practical hat on hence the rustic wood effect floor tiles. But occasionally the hat fell off, and a cow hide rug appeared…

Nordic style summer house by Amelia Wilson Interiors. Interior Designer in Cockermouth, Workington and Keswick

Almost everything in this room is ‘my favourite thing’ but I am really happy with the new sofa covers and cushions which were made by my friend Di (Di’s Soft Furnishings). The sofa bed didn’t need replacing but I hated the old covers – duck egg blue and very twee….The linen fabrics are from Ada & Ina. I love the funky chevron and zig zag patterns, and the bright indigo which is becoming very popular right now, just pop into John Lewis if you need any proof.

Nordic style summer house by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Mr W’s favourite thing is the new bar built by a fabulous local joiner Kev (Curwen Joinery). I used an ageing technique on the wood to give it that weathered look. The metal bar stools were a billy bargain from Debenhams – reduced from £100 to £40 each! The pendant lights are from Nook London – aren’t they gorgeous.

Home bar in Nordic summer house by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

I couldn’t find lampshades I liked so I made these using a roll of Albany deer hide effect wallpaper and kits I bought online. The effect is so realistic and looks fab with the reindeer rugs and antlers.

Nordic summer house by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The coffee table is another DIY triumph constructed from scaffolding planks, and treated using the same ageing technique I used on the bar.

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You need something to look at when you’re sat at the bar waiting for Mr W to pull you a pint (yes we have pumps too but they only come out for parties). So I’ve started a gallery wall of ‘good times’ – I found these fab Kiko frames at Not On The High Street which I’m a huge fan of.

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A bit of greenery always brings a room to life and ferns and succulents have a better chance than most of surviving my exceptionally un-green fingers…… The pineapple is from M&S. Its supposed to be a hanging bird feeder but I thought it would make a good tea light holder.

Potted fern and terranium. Pineapple tea light holder from M&S

The gnome is also M&S. I couldn’t resist him…….

Garden gnome from M&S in Nordic style summer house by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

So I love my new Nordic style sanctuary, and now its getting a bit cold, wet and windy I can retreat up the garden, fire up the log burner and watch the rain any time I like….

 

 

Totally wired

 

I’ve found a new love that has replaced my love of willow. I’m talking baskets now. Having 4 log burners at Holly Cottage requires a lot of logs and a lot of baskets, which is where the willow obsession started. I have big willow baskets for logs, small ones for kindling, shallow ones for towels in the guest bedrooms, round ones for toilet rolls in the bathrooms, a tiny one filled with fir cones under the coffee table. It’s got a little out of hand to be honest. But there’s something about the lovely grey colour that says I might be rustic but I’m a bit cooler than wicker or rattan, I belong next to sheepskin and reindeer skins and old leather, I can sit on limestone flags or a wooden floor. I could be in a swish Swedish summerhouse or a New York loft I’m that cool. Sorry, I’m getting a little carried away. Baskets don’t talk. Classic basket case.

Anyway, my new love is wire and it’s even more versatile than willow. It’s been a bedroom storage staple for some time but it’s now out of the closest and working the room elsewhere.

It works in the bathroom

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Pinterest

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Pinterest

It works in the kitchen

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Pinterest

It works in the hall or utility room

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Pinterest

It works in your home office

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Birdie wall mounted desk from Loaf

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Neatfreak memo board and organiser from Loaf

Its upped its game in accessories

Juxtapose teal geometric wire bowl from House of Fraser

Juxtapose teal wire bowl from House of Fraser

Gold metal wire basket from H&M

Gold metal wire basket from H&M

It doesn’t limit itself to storage. It’s become way more visible in lighting (literally) ever since the industrial trend was born, and now It’s worked its way into the furniture market too. I think that actor chap (Michael?) on the Great Interior Design Challenge who had a wire obsession might have been the catalyst.

Black wire cage side tables from Dwell

Black wire cage side tables from Dwell

And it works in my summerhouse. I’ve started with a set of 3 wire baskets I picked up in Homesense for about £40. The big one is for throws, the middle one for magazines and the small one is perfect for fruit on the bar. (It’s important to have fruit in your cocktails – helps with the 5 a day).

Its far easier to clean than willow and you can spray paint it any colour you like – whats not to love?

Charles Eames style blue wire chair from Cult Furniture

Charles Eames style blue wire chair from Cult Furniture

I suspect the wire will slowly creep through the house until all the willow has been relegated to the interiors graveyard that is my garage. I used to take my rejects to the charity shop, auction or tip. Now they sit in the graveyard, I mean garage, waiting for a place in future projects. Who knows when I might need that extra pair of antlers I have? Or this industrial table I rescued from outside the Diesel HQ in London? (The manager even gave me the planks for the top and bottom shelf #worldsgreatestfreebie). I might need to start clearing some room for all those willow baskets though…..

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Industrial decor and a fast track ageing process

Until this week a long tee was something I wore at the beach to cover my bum. Although these days it appears to be fashionable to have a disproportionately large derriere. Perhaps I should ditch the coverups and flaunt it now curves are fashionable in the western world? But I’m wandering off topic….

One of the things I love about being a designer is the continual learning, whether it’s new techniques for creating paint finishes or working with new materials. This week my eyes have been opened to a whole new world of long tees, base flanges and elbow clamps thanks to the lovely people at Racking Man! (cue superhero music) Great name isn’t it. Conjures up images of a beefy tradesman brandishing a wrench, wearing a cape and underpants over his Apache cargo pants. If only they really looked like that, but again I’m going off topic….

So I’m working on designs for a Retail customer and I’m going for an ‘old theatre’ look, think wood floors, ladders, industrial spotlighting, slightly faded velvet curtains etc. etc. I don’t want to give away too much in case my customer is reading this. (You know who you are so stop reading now if you want any surprises when I deliver the final designs!) I’m incorporating some industrial looking shelving into the design and want to use scaffolding pipes. Hence my trip yesterday to Racking Man. I’d already spoken with the very helpful owner Patrick earlier in the week but I wanted to physically see the products to make a decision on size. Turns out its a family business and his wife Gillian (hard G) is equally helpful. As a result I now know what fittings I want and what size, and it all fits together with an allen key – simple! If you’re feeling adventurous and want to have a go at making your own furniture out of scaffolding materials their website has some very useful info to help you figure out what your need, including this handy picture of the various clamps and joints.

Scaffolding clamps taken from Racking Man website

Different scaffolding clamps and joints taken from www.rackingman.co.uk

And if you’re not feeling up to the challenge they have some great pieces on Notonthehighstreet and Etsy like these:

Wall mounted scaffolding shelving from not on the high street

Wall mounted scaffolding shelving from not on the high street

Scaffolding clothes rail from Etsy

Scaffolding clothes rail from Etsy

I’ve also been experimenting with wood finishes for this commission and for the new bar thats going in my summer house. I was thinking of using reclaimed scaffolding planks which I’ve worked with before but you spend a lot of time sanding them and cutting them to size. Its easier and not much more expensive to order pre-sanded, cut to size planks and boards from your local timber merchant, or pick up standard sizes from your local DIY store. For my experiments I bought a 5-pack of 90cm long tongue and groove from B&Q for £3.

Giving wood an aged weathered look is really simple. A few days before you plan to start get a big glass jar, half fill it with white vinegar, stuff a chunk of fine grade steel wool in it and leave it. The wool will disintegrate over time creating a homemade oxidising solution.

When you’re ready to start, lay your wood out on some newspaper and brew a hot pot of really strong black tea. The tea adds tannins to the wood which then react with your oxidising solution to created the weathered look. Some woods, like oak, already have high tannin levels and may not need the tea, or very little. But woods like pine don’t so you’ll need two or three coats. Apply with a paintbrush and leave to dry.

Next paint the oxidising solution on to the wood with a paintbrush. Immediately you will see the wood start to turn grey. The older your solution, the stronger it is, and the darker your wood will turn. So always do a test piece and water it down with water or more vinegar if you want a lighter shade. Once the wood is dry, polish with some clear wax to give a light sheen and a smooth feel.

If you want to go a step further and give your wood a beachy tone you can add liming wax which will fill the cracks in the grain and leave a bluey-white sheen on top of the grey. You can buy liming wax online. I’m currently using one made by Liberon. To create the effect rub a little of the wax onto your wood using fine steel wool, leave it to try for 2-3 minutes and then wipe of the excess and buff. If the colour is too blue/white then use a damp cloth to wipe off more of the wax, if you like it light then add more wax.

Finished results: from left, plain tongue and groove, weathered look, beachy look.

Giving new wood a weathered or beachy look

 

Here’s a couple of examples of finished products.

Old oak whisky barrel, already weathered

Old oak whisky barrel, already weathered

Oak whisky barrel bar table

New bar table complete with table top salvaged from my local tip

Coffee table made from reclaimed scaffolding planks, aged and treated with liming wax

Coffee table made from reclaimed scaffolding planks, aged and treated with liming wax

Does seem a little ironic, we spend a fortune on products to slow down the personal ageing process, but our love for old and used goods has led us to develop creative ways to speed it up elsewhere. Anyway, better get back to work, I’m experimenting with paint finishes now…

Shed envy

According to the last three tests I took on Facebook, positivity is my greatest strength, I have an optimistic personality (courtesy of the inkblot test), and Happy by Pharell Williams is the ‘legendary’ song that describes my life. So it’s hardly surprising I’m possibly the only person in the UK that isn’t complaining about the weather and actually believes summer is here. Or maybe that’s because I live in Cumbria and 4hrs of sunshine does equal summer.

Anyway all this glorious weather is causing me to turn my attention to the garden, and more specifically the summer house. We built it 2 years ago when Holly Cottage was still a second home, so it got decorated rather quickly and was largely furnished with furniture that didn’t fit anywhere else. Well that’s what I’m telling myself in order to have an excuse to redecorate. It’s not just me, Mr W also wants a new bar. Apparently the current one just doesn’t fit. I don’t agree but I’m not arguing as the re-decoration (budget albeit unspecified..) now has his sign off.

To be honest I’m also blaming George Clarke a little. Suppliers of garden rooms, sheds, summer houses, decking and all other associated paraphernalia must be rubbing their hands with glee every time a new episode of Amazing Spaces Shed of the Year airs. The whole nation must have shed envy right now. The great news is that this project gives me an outlet for my love of industrial decor, which is very hard to satisfy in a Georgian cottage. So expect lots of lovely industrial treats over the next few weeks while I fit this new project in between actual work.

First up, the Louix Chair. They won’t be going in my summer house as I need high bar stools but I had to share them as they made me ooh when I saw them. They’re an original Alexandre Arrazole Martagon design from Aleks Design Studio. They’re made of steel and teak and are available on www.cultfurniture.com at £149. Gorgeous aren’t they…the white is my favourite.

Louix Chair by Alexandre Arrazole Martagon at Aleks Design Studio. Available at www.cultfurniture.com

Louix Chair by Alexandre Arrazole Martagon at Aleks Design Studio. Available at www.cultfurniture.com

Louix Chair by Alexandre Arrazole Martagon at Aleks Design Studio. Available at www.cultfurniture.com