Starting the hallway

The hallway has been in some ways the longest running project in this house. I had the vision first of all the rooms, and its pretty much the last one we’re getting to. This does make sense – we couldn’t do the hallway while there were big things like kitchens going to go up and down it.

it’s a very dark hallway – there is no natural light that comes in to it at all, at least directly. It’s also rather narrow and steep. See the photos…

The view from the front door - narrow and dark - even with the light on!

The view from the front door – narrow and dark – even with the light on!

Top of the hallway with the shoe rack

Top of the hallway with the shoe rack

So this week we’re painting it one of the shades of grey we’ve looked at….and finaly putting my perfect paper in!

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The Cumberland Hotel

So I promised you the Cumberland Hotel. We booked because it promised glamour and a boutique style. And I suppose it lived up to that – to a degree. It was trying to go with an Art Deco, Hollywood vibe, based on the font and, well, the black and white pictures of Hollywood stars in the dining room.

We had some service issues with the hotel, which made it a bit annoying, but overall I thought there were some beautiful pieces in the hotel, but it just didn’t quite come together right. Take a look…. (and this is by no means all!)

Lovely mirror, with a formal sofa under it in the lounge

Lovely mirror, with a formal sofa under it in the lounge

Well that’s ok. Lovely silver mirror, ref and black sofa? Right?

The lounge with the strange massive silver chess pieces

The lounge with the strange massive silver chess pieces

Well, this is the mirror in the larger view. With those lovely, but rather modern feeling giant silver chess pieces. And a fiddly looking chandelier. All rather nice individually, just didn’t quite seem to pull together as a whole.

This chandelier is beautiful, but...

This chandelier is beautiful, but…

This chandelier hangs in the bar, just to one side of the lounge. I love it, and the crystal sphere even works with the Art Deco theme somehow. Except that they light it with a blue LED in the evenings, which makes it look more suited to a modern club….

The lighting was, in general, pretty fabulous. Look at these examples!

Lovely flame shaped sconces in the dining room. And admire that wallpaper while you're at it!

Lovely flame shaped sconces in the dining room. And admire that wallpaper while you’re at it!

Seriously, admire that wallpaper. It’s beautiful and looked so good in the room.

These chandeliers were in the stairwell and they were perfect. And again, good wallpaper work!

These chandeliers were in the stairwell and they were perfect. And again, good wallpaper work!

IMG_2595

And this lovely chandelier, also on the stairwell…

And the reception room was pretty too (though also not really in the same style as, well, anywhere else in the hotel…)

This room was set up for weddings. Called the Ocean room

This room was set up for weddings. Called the Ocean room

So overall, I think the hotel was a good case for having a coherent style throughout. Not just a coherent colour scheme – they were pretty good with the red/black colouring – but something in addition that brings it all together. Maybe if the styles were radically different that would be fine, but this just looks like some failed attempts to match a style. Or someone who’s just not very good…. But at least they tried instead of the bland boringness you get in so many places! And MUCH better than that Marriott carpet 😉

Bournemouth

So, I’ve spent the last few days in Bournemouth, being all political. (seriously, though, watch Tim Farron’s speech. It’s brilliant. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVlL9vM_6MA )

But even being political couldn’t stop my inner interior designer from thinking and spotting things! I’ll save the hotel we stayed in for a separate post, as it had made a real effort with the design, and just put together some of the other highlights here…

What a lovely chest - holding cleaning equipment and plastic forks! And those tiles and wall are rather good too

What a lovely chest – holding cleaning equipment and plastic forks! And those tiles and wall are rather good too

A chippy - the glammest and prettiest I ever saw!

A chippy – the glammest and prettiest I ever saw!

Well, it was the seaside, the weather was good….we went and had a fish and chip dinner one night. The Harry Ramsden on the beach was beautiful – chandeliers, lovely furniture, those tiles…. just pretty!

A strange, double vertical ceiling fan.

A strange, double vertical ceiling fan.

In one of the hotels, I attended an event which was kept cool by this rather fabulous fan. So unusual and eye catching and, critically, effective too. The rest of the room was nice too, though not as dramatic as that fan!

Shiny....

Shiny….

See – pretty (I love chandeliers), but not as impressive as the fan (I tried not to take pictures of random people, so have relatively few of walls etc. Besides, they were largely covered in think tank banners)

But for every glorious view and chandelier, there’s a downside. And for me it came from THIS carpet.

Isn't it hideous?

Isn’t it hideous?

It was actually even worse than the photo suggests as there was just so much of it to offend the eye…And, this was in a Marriott! Which I expected to have understated elegance…

Anyway, the next post about our hotel will be different….

Hallway lighting

House projects have been a bit slow on the ground of late – decorating has taken a bit of a back seat to fixing. Such as damp proofing the bay window in the bedroom, fixing the leak in the roof (again, I’m starting to think that the problem is the skylight not the tiles – aaargh!), dealing with rats…lots of little niggles that just mean it’s harder to be active about the other stuff.

 

But there have been a few things to note. The first is that I’ve bought a new lampshade for the hallway. The hall is happening in reverse. Essentially, I’ve bought all the accessories before doing the base decorating. Which leaves open the very real possibility that it’ll all look wrong. Never mind!

 

The lampshade is laser cut metal in the shape of trees, which will look amazing with the planned wallpaper and really add to the snowy forest feeling that I’m aiming for. You can see the shade, and the shadows it casts in the pictures.

 Tree shadows

Sharper shadows from where the shade is closer to the wall

Sharper shadows from where the shade is closer to the wall

It’s also open at the bottom, which means the bulb casts a clear, strong light. I know that a lot of people prefer softer lights, but I personally like the feeling that I can see what I’m doing. It’s also quite important that we have a lot of light so that at least some of it can penetrate down the exceedingly dark entrance stairs. The new lamp does help with that, but doesn’t exactly solve it, so I’m going to have to think of a different solution. The problem is that a light that illuminates the stairs would mean significant rewiring electrical work to move the outlet, which I’m not keen on at all. Any other form of lighting for the stairs – fairy lights, lamps and so on – need to be able to be switched on and off at both ends of the staircase, which is also a technical hassle. I’ve not completely figured out the answer yet!

 

Maybe I can loop the lampshade so it hangs closer to the top of the stairs to illuminate down? But then I think it might block the view of my gorgeous mirror – and that’s useful for seeing how we look before we go out. But it might be a price worth paying…

Knick knacks and what nots

So I promised a blog on decorating the top of the Mexican chest. I now it’s been a while, but my real job has been somewhat hectic this last week or two, meaning that I’ve not been able to spare much thought to much else. Likely to continue for a while as well, I’m afraid. But I’ll do what I can to keep updated!

 

So with the new chest, we knew we wanted it to look nice on top (and not just be another shelf for books. Though we do need one….). Some time before, we had bought a rather nice table runner in Malta. It had a pattern of orange butterflies on cream material, and we had always felt that it would be good in the loft room. And lo and behold – it does look good! And it was a good size for the chest too. Sometimes it’s just fate.

 

Our little stereo vignette

Our little stereo vignette

But that’s just a base. We also knew we wanted the stereo on the chest, and angled so that the sound would reach into the whole room. The black of the stereo looks really good against the walls and with the black metal on the chest, so that worked out well too. To soften the lines a little, I added a black metal candlestick, that stands out well against the wall.

 

I’d previously bought a dark purple faux rose (from the ever fabulous Abigail Ahern’s store). I’d hoped it would work in the hallway, but it wasn’t right there. However it was the perfect colour for the loft room – that purple matched the trim really well. And I may say now that against the wall it positively glows with warmth. So it got added to the candlestick, in a beautiful single stem cut glass vase my brother bought me for my 18th birthday. Added to the bottom is a little tag that was part of a present I bought my lady.

 

You can see some of the philosophy I bring to decorating shelves etc. It’s important that what you put out looks good. And it should match the room in some way. But if you’ve bought or been given something, it comes with a story and with memories and associations and affection. And that’s what a home is all about. It’s about memories and love and all the things that make up YOU and if what you put out doesn’t say that to you (I don’t care about visitors – you live there, you see it every day) then you’ve failed.

 

Which is a distinct link to the other main feature of the chest’s decoration. The thimble collection. As it turns out, the dark wood of the official thimble collection holder is lovely against the wall. But they overflow out onto the little book collection (it’s Beatrix Potter, which none of us read, but the collection in a box case is too lovely not to have out) and even on to the cake stand. And isn’t that cake stand lovely? I’m a fan of using cake stands to put other things on instead of hiding them away in cupboards. Cake stands can be so lovely in themselves and are clearly designed to display things too.

 

The white rabbits are a nod to our obsession with bunnies (as mentioned in the cushion blog), and look rather fun away in the corner. In fact, all the things you can see have some personal memory attached.

 

All our bits and pieces looking lovely

All our bits and pieces looking lovely

Which is why (or one reason anyway!) that I’m starting to love spending time up in the loft room….

Cushions!

In this household we have a bit of a love/hate relationship with cushions. We love looking at them, love soft, fun ones, ones  with patterns or pictures that mean something to us. But we’re not actually quite so keen on actually sitting with them behind us… so they tend to get chucked around and off the sofas a bit, which is just messy and unlovely.

That said, a sofa does look a bit bare without a few cushions on it. And so we’ve decorated it. Most of the cushions are new to match the new colour schemes. And in line with the getting rid of them off sofas, we’ve consolidated the numbers a bit (the remaining ones are stored in the loft. just in case. You know how that is…).

So, for the living room, these are the cushions…

This delphinium cushion isn't quite the right colours for the front room, but I made it myself and so I can't bring myself to banish it.

This delphinium cushion isn’t quite the right colours for the front room, but I made it myself and so I can’t bring myself to banish it.

We're big fans of bunnies too - and this lovely fat, squashy, cushion was too perfect to resist!

We’re big fans of bunnies too – and this lovely fat, squashy, cushion was too perfect to resist!

Maps are a big thing for us - so this cushion was a must have. It's also a different shape, which helps break things up and feel a bit less rigid.

Maps are a big thing for us – so this cushion was a must have. It’s also a different shape, which helps break things up and feel a bit less rigid.

This cushion is a soft suede texture with subtle turquoise swirls. Lovely for adding another dimension to the sofa

This cushion is a soft suede texture with subtle turquoise swirls. Lovely for adding another dimension to the sofa

We actually have two of these silky, slightly shimmery cushions. They match the sofa colours really well too.

We actually have two of these silky, slightly shimmery cushions. They match the sofa colours really well too.

So the big question is really how to arrange these on  the sofa to look right and bring out the best in them and the room? I want it to look inviting.

I tried one cushion on each seat (more or less) but they looked odd and lonely, so this was what I ended up with:

Cushions are paired up

Cushions are paired up

I like the pairs on the sides, but the flat ones in the corner look a bit odd, don’t you think?

So, I’ve tried this in the corner to make it look more snug and inviting to curl up in.

Definitely more inviting!

Definitely more inviting!

Well, I think that looks a lot better, but that leaves my side pairs one short… Guess I’ll have to give in and buy another cushion! What a trial….

Mexican chest

I think I’ve mentioned before the loft room. In terms of shape, it’s really awkward to make it into something useful. But in a way, that’s freed us up to be a bit more adventurous with it. Which is why it’s painted in that glowing orange, with the purple trim. It sounds really nasty, but actually it works. Really warm and rich looking combination.

But, as we don’t use it much…it was a bit unloved. And a bit of a dumping ground for things we hadn’t yet found a home for. Which made it messy, so it looked uninviting, so it was unloved and a dumping ground!

Anyway, when we finished the kitchen, the problem couldn’t be ignored much longer. You see, a lot of the dumped stuff was things that we wanted to put in the kitchen ‘if we had room’. Once we had all those lovely new cupboards in place, there were no more excuses. It had to be sorted and homes found for all the stuff.

Well, a lot of stuff did find it’s home in the kitchen. But there was also quite a lot that didn’t. So we needed something upstairs we could use to store the leftovers. And some other things that needed to stay in the loft – like paperwork and craft stuff. Something that would match the warm vibe, and also fit in the room. Oh, and be able to get up the stairs and ridiculously narrow doors!

In the end, eBay came to the rescue, with a lovely ‘Mexican style’ chest. It was flat pack – but you wouldn’t know it from looking at it! Assembling it was a challenge in the limited space, but it was completed with minimal tantrums and tears. And then came the challenge of fitting stuff in. Which is where this chest really came in to its own. Despite the three doors you can see, they all interlink so you have one very large space (with a shelf) rather than three cupboards. This meant that some of the larger platters and roasting tins could be fitted in quite neatly.

The style of the chest works too. The tone of the wood is just right – and also works with the other items we have up there. The black metal trim has that slightly more masculine edge that I wanted for this library/snug of a room too. Although, that said, the decoration and knick knacks rather undermine that aspect….but that’s for another post I think!

Look at the lovely wood and those black metal hinges and details.

Look at the lovely wood and those black metal hinges and details.