Sunday, 7 April 2013


It was an editorial with Jenna Lyons of J. Crew that started my obsession with stripes.  (It's the Vogue UK September 2011 issue, if anyone wants to go and look it up.)

It opened like this:

(I immediately bought the jersey that she is wearing, incidentally. Tragically however, it didn't immediately transform me into Jenna Lyons.  I just look like a slightly overweight bumble bee.) 

Since then, from time to time, I find myself looking for and at pictures of her house:

Our walls are pale grey too, but they were even before I even read the piece.

We don't have a garden, sadly.

Okay so I'm not all over the antler/ horn thing above the mantlepiece, but I love the striped rug, and the shoes, and the fireplace. 

But this room, this room - well, just look at the ceiling. (I'm less into the black chalkboard wall.)

It is that last photograph that I return to most often.  Immediately I had seen it, the first time, I decided to repaint the children's bedroom to look like a circus big top, in thick blue and yellow stripes, and to paint the ceiling of our bedroom in pink and white stripes - and then I found out that I was pregnant with Esmeralda, and lost all impetus to do anything.  And even though she is now nine months old, no new stripes have appeared anywhere in the house, not even in the bathroom which is the one room I have redone since her birth. 

But I feel that my love for the simple stripe is about to be fully revived, entirely on account of a new book: Stripes by Linda O'Keefe (I can't seem to find out whether or not she's related to the artist Geogia O'Keefe, but I have found out that O'Keefe is the 1,550th most common surname in the US.)  It is packed full of amazing photographs, and it has alerted me to a vast number of buildings and designs and artists that I hadn't even considered seeking inspiration from:

Cat O'Sullivan's 1840s Catskills house. I want to live in it.

Missoni Shower Stall at the 2008 Milan Furniture Fair

Patrick Norguet's Rainbow Chair.  I have a weakness for anything named Rainbow.  It's Esmeralda's second name, after my most favourite of childhood ponies.  So when I saw that there was a horse called The Rainbow Hunter running in the National this weekend, I decided it was a sign and put a tenner on it, convinced that it was going to come in at 66-1.  I spent the hours preceding the race imagining how I was going to spend my winnings.  The Rainbow Hunter was the first to fall.  This has happened with pretty much every single horse I have ever backed.

Church of San Giovanni Battista, Ticino.  Suddenly I'm thinking that driving around Italy could be our next holiday.

Matilda Temperley, from the Human Zoo series (incidentally, although she's represented by Michael Hoppen, some of her works are currently available for £50 a print from my new favourite online gallery, - it's amazing - finally we have the true democracisation of art.)

Inside the Pasadena Museum of California Art during Susan Silton's 2008 Inside Out intervention.

The Bouroullec Brothers' Textile Field installation at the V&A during the 2011 London Design Festival - I actually went to this, and Sholto loved it, but I was pregnant and so had completely forgotten about it.

So now I've returned to my idea of painting stripes everywhere, and have decided to do the children's bedroom ceiling in blue and white stripes (the same blue as the walls, which is Parma Blue), the bathroom in grey (Cornforth White) and white, and our bedroom in bright pink (exact shade as yet to be determined) and white.  It's going to look AMAZING.  I told my husband; his response was "Although you think you can see me, I'm not actually here."  I persisted.  "I just think it's a bit contrived," he said.  "No more contrived than what the Italians were doing during the Renaissance," I replied, "when flat plaster ceilings were coffered with stucco panels which exactly reproduced the lines of timber framing."  (I've been reading Edith Wharton, The Decoration of Houses, again.)

I'm going to win this one.  Painting stripes is going to be way less high maintenance than stucco-ing the ceilings.