Sunday, 9 February 2014


So, fantasising about a bigger house, I started browsing Prime Location.  Tragically, it transpires that I can't yet quite afford a white stuccoed number in Maida Vale.  In fact, it seems I can't afford an actual house anywhere I think I want to live (remembering I am spoilt from years of living in Kensington followed by Chelsea followed by Notting Hill) and so we are destined to remain in our tiny flat forever.

No matter.  I discovered The Great Interior Design Challenge, and have convinced myself that, given three days, I could totally transform our house.  I have become obsessed with wallpaper, you see, and figure that if we're going to be here for a while (or at least until I've made enough for a little mews house nearby, a snip at around £3million) I may as well carry out my design dreams within our present abode - there's no point in mood boards featuring Hermes wallpaper for a dining room that I might never have. (Although I will have it, one day.  It is as certain as eggs are eggs.)

First up, my bedroom.  It's currently painted pale pink, with a pink and green quilt and a vintage pink and yellow and white Welsh blanket, the curtains are blue and pink with ornamental pheasants (I love them, my mother just produced them from a box when I explained I needed some) and there's something of a wealth of cushions:  Chelsea Textiles, Yastik pink and green ikat spots, Neisha Crosland pineapples on a lemon curd background, not to mention the most beautiful bedside lamp in the world by Cressida Bell.  This is a very longwinded way of explaining that there is already quite a lot of pattern - but there are two plain cream jacquard bedroom armchairs should one's eye need a rest, and anyway it's me who spends the most amount of time in my bedroom and I love pattern, so I'm tossing up between the following:

Colefax & Fowler, Alderney.  I love it.  Love it. 

Barneby Gates, Honey Bees.  I also love this, but the more I think about it the more I think I'll save it for a spare bedroom in a future house - there's a fabric that matches, so I could do curtains and valances in the same, and even, maybe, explore the possibility of a tented room? (I've always wanted a tented room.)

This is one of the bedrooms at Kingston Lacey.  Now try and tell me that you wouldn't also like a tented bedroom.

But back to my house:  the children's bedroom is simple, and actually there isn't too much pattern going on in there, except for their own Chelsea Textiles cushions of course, and a blue and white dhurrie and the tent I made Sholto that matches his quilt and some other cushions (positively restrained, see?!), and would potentially come down to budget:

Either Celia Birtwell, Beasties

Or Brunschwig et Fils, Bengali, in Periwinkle (I've got a feeling Celia might be cheaper . . .  But oh my goodness I love it.  It's definitely got to find somewhere to live in the next house.)

The bathroom is more complex, because we half got around to doing it up last year in shades of grey, pink and white, with an amazing Neisha Crosland floor - seriously, if anyone is looking for tiling, stop spending hours going backwards and forwards from Fired Earth with different samples, and go to John Lewis and buy these:

They're both insanely practical, and genuinely not even a bit bankrupting.  

But the walls are still just painted (except the ones that are tiled in totally plain white matt tiles from the aforementioned Fired Earth), and now I either want to give it the Hermes treatment (in the absence of a dining room) or this:

Brunschwig et Fils, Shell Toile, blue on pineapple.  But it's just not going to go with anything else. Except perhaps monogrammed towels that I've thus far only ordered in my head.

Barneby Gates, English Robin.  My friend Kitty's bathroom is done in this.  And, get this, her husband did it for her as a surprise!  I can't think of anything more romantic.

Or of course my original Hermes obsession.  Which actually wouldn't screw up the colour scheme too much, I don't think.  Seriously.  Oh I love it so much.

Downstairs is more problematic.  It's currently painted pale grey, i.e Farrow & Ball Cornforth White.  But suddenly nearly every house I go into is pale grey.  It's become the new Magnolia.  And I long for something - oh I don't know - I do actually really like the colour of our walls downstairs.  But there is a bit of me that wants this:

Barneby Gates, Horse Trellis, acid on grey - but it totally wouldn't go with my Chelsea Textiles blinds, which are one of my greatest loves.

Then there's this:

Manuel Canovas, Bengale.  Like, seriously, how amazing?!  How amazing?!  Obviously it's not going to go with the Chelsea Textiles blinds either - or indeed anything else in the whole room, except perhaps for the Psalt Design bench which I've also thus far only ordered in my head, but one day, in one house, I will have this . . . 

This, however, would kind of go:  Jane Churchill, Bruton Damask.  I like the fact that it's quite subdued, too - it wouldn't overwhelm the room at all.  I've still got to sort out the accidental tie-dye sofa, I thinking of undying it, and then redying it a sort of old rose, which would look quite pretty with this, I feel.  But it might look too pretty pretty.

What's certain is that there's lots to think about. And I'm probably going to have a while to mull it over, as when I suggested to Andrew that he took the children to visit his parents for a few days over half-term, thus enabling me to 'do a little work on the house' in his absence (I'd like to paint the floors, too, and a couple of bookcases) he basically refused to leave.  So I'm going to have to wait until he's not expecting it, and re-suggest it, this time without mentioning wallpaper.  It'll also give me time to save up:  On The Great Interior Design Challenge they get £1000 each for the house transformation, and I've got a feeling that I'm rather seriously over budget . . .. - they stock their own line, plus Jane Churchill and Manuel Canovas - their papers are going to be stocked on seriously soon - and I mean seriously, we are days away from going live

Monday, 3 February 2014

Decorating Dining Rooms - Part One

I'm ridiculously broody at the moment.  My head if full of thoughts of more babies, despite the fact that we have nowhere to put them (literally.) So, thinking laterally, I'm considering the need for a new house. This is actually an impossibility, due to the fact that neither Andrew nor I have proper jobs, and so can not get a mortgage, and is also complicated by the fact that Sholto starts school in September, and if he gets into my first choice of school then I won't want to move away from this area, ever.  Nonetheless, and firmly in the realms of fantasy, I'm picturing moving all of us into a large house in Maida Vale.  Large enough to have a proper dining room.  Because the more I read about their extinction, and everybody simply using kitchens, the more I want a return to more formal living.  (Combined with two more children.  There's no logic to procreation at all.)

But I can logically trace the origin of the dining room whim:  a trip to Maison & Objet in Paris last week, followed by two days in Venice.  It was china and porcelain galore, and then a visit to the Murano glass foundries and time spent examining the most exquisite examples of hand-blown and hand-engraved glass imaginable.  

First up, Maison & Objet.  It's huge.  HUGE.  It goes on forever.  We (myself and Emma M-T, our Head Buyer at English Abode) got stuck in section 5a for what felt like days.  And after the initial excitement of meeting Michael Aram in person - (I have long wanted his pomegranate salt and pepper shakers - look:

I once did a story on the house of Russian Prince who was married to a French Princess and they had a pair of these on their dining room table, and they looked just beyond exquisite, and very, very expensive, which, in actual fact, they're not.  Anyway, tragically, Andrew doesn't love them as I do.) 

- we began to wonder if we'd ever see anything truly beautiful ever again.  So we set off for the luxury section, but, on our way, I got distracted by Gien.  I love Gien.

The rabbits and those green plates come from their 'Coloured Enamels' range, and the tea pot, sugar bowl and tea-cups are new for this summer.  Aren't they just heaven?  Don't they make you long for an end to winter already?  I so want the bunnies.  Actually, I want all of it, I would use it in the garden of my imaginary Maida Vale house.  Because it's not actually grand enough for my dining room, you see.

So, we got to luxury, and, once I'd managed to surreptitiously charge my phone while hanging out on a sofa in the Ungaro stand (house), and marvelled at Fendi's ability to shagreen absolutely every piece of furniture known to man (strict no camera policy in there, sorry) I discovered something very grand, in a Barbie dream house kind of way:  Sophie Vallepigue, who I also wasn't allowed to photograph, but here are some pieces she made earlier:

Yes those are jewels.  Amazing, no?  They totally appeal to the 'too much is never enough' side of me.  My only concern is what wallpaper I would use in the dining room, were I to fill it up with Sophie Vallepigue.  Also, I think I'd have to have gold-plated cutlery to go with it - the existing silver wouldn't quite have enough oomph.  And then I'm not sure if the overall effect would actually be chic.  Potentially not . . . 

It would probably be rather easier to adjust to living with these designs, by Flux, who were in the 'Now!' section and whom I have been obsessed with since discovering them at Tent.  (I'm rather hoping we're going to stock them at English Abode):

It's contemporary blue and white, and all made at Stoke on Trent!  And I love it.  In fact, I'd almost go so far as to suggest that it's more than half way to supplanting the below on my fantasy wish list, not least because it would actually look very good with our existing (Gien oiseau bleu) blue and white.  

But oh, the 'Etoiles' by Bernadaud.  It is beautiful, isn't it?  Maybe we'll need a second set of china in our Maida Vale house.  And I think it will look amazing with this wallpaper:

Brunschwig et Fils Beauport Promenade in Red.  My current number one choice for the dining room.

Obviously I'd have the pomegranate salt and pepper shakers, too.

Murano Glass will come in part two . . . .  However, just to finish up Maison & Objet, I'll leave you with the chopping board of my dreams, which one wouldn't actually want to use as a chopping board, but which would look amazing as a cheese board (in my new dining room.  Or even before then.)

By Bethan Gray.  And also I hope coming soon to English Abode.  I mean, how much do you want it? How much . . . . ?!