Pencil sketches

So my course said it would teach me to sketch. I was incredibly excited about this as I’ve always wished I could draw. I can’t, by the way. Proportions go all funny. I’ve taught myself to draw a few items well, mostly by reading how to do it. So I can draw eyes, and jewels. And that’s about it…

Anyway, I’ve finally got on to the sketching module of my design course! Hurrah! Well, the instructions in the module are… confusing, and seem to skip steps. It goes from drawing one square to a grid without much more instruction. Then how to draw a table, and then, bizarrely, stairs. And finally, with very little more introduction, the assignment is draw four whole rooms!

No more detail, no layouts, just draw them…. so, as the only way I could make it work on my head, I basically worked out a floor plan for a whole cottage – just so I knew what needed to be in each room….

I did the living room first – my first ever full room sketch

My first ever - so forgive the flaws

My first ever – so forgive the flaws

I know its by no means perfect. The scaling of the chairs is a bit dicey and the side table at the front looks a bit like a massive crystal ball. Oh, and the layout of the room is so awkward! Can you imagine sitting in that room? You’d end up with a cricked neck whatever you were trying to do…. but I’m still fairly proud.

Anyway, I moved on to the kitchen. I found this quite uninspiring and hard to get into, but I don’t think that I ended up with that bad a job. Again, some sizing issues (those counters look awfully low, don’t you think?) but…

Kitchen sketch

Kitchen sketch

And the final one so far, the bathroom. I was dreading this as there are so many complex shapes to get into a bathroom. If you’ve only started drawing this week, and you’re not confident with square tables, then how could I possibly draw a toilet?? Well, perhaps the challenge spurred me on as I think I managed it. Some items are a bit odd shaped and more square than I’d like, but it’s recognisably a bathroom!


Hope you agree. Just the bedroom to go – wish me luck!


Finishing touches

So, the bedroom now has painted walls, a wardrobe, a bed, curtains. All the main things anyway.

So we needed just (maybe I should say ‘just’) the finishing touches.

We stencilled the wardrobe doors – those very plain ones I was talking about before. I found a massive Virginia creeper stencil online (Etsy is amazing) and used that. I think it looked very clean and very smart.

The first stage of stencilling the wardrobe

The first stage of stencilling the wardrobe

Unfortunately we had a slight problem. To get the depth of colour, we needed two coats. On our third door, the stencil fell off between the two coats, leaving a very pale stencil. There was no way I could possibly put the stencil exactly back over it again. So we decided to make the best of a bad job and turn it into almost a third dimension. It looks pretty good, I think, though I do prefer the cleaner first look!

The 3D stencils

We also decorated the bed. I know its a bit girly and possibly a bit twee, but I had my heart set on a canopy. With garlands and flowers and twinkly lights. You can see how it turned out…and whatever you think of it for grown ladies, I LOVE IT. Which is, fundamentally, all that matters.

The fairy princess canopy

So, just a few finishing touches. I can be a bit of an addict to bedding, so I bought some new bedding – white with flower themes. You can see some of them in the photos, and they definitely add to the overall feel of the room. My favourite is the recent purchase covered with little 3D blue butterflies. It’s so delicate and pretty and matches the feel of the room perfectly.

The butterfly bedlinen

And then, keeping with the bower theme, little bedside lights (from Ikea) that give a beautiful soft glow in the evenings – and the whole room just makes me delighted!

Bedside lights

The bedroom curtains

So, the bedroom is green, and has the major furniture in place. We just needed a way to tie it all together. I had this idea of making the room into a bit of a bower – so lots of flowers, vines, that sort of thing. Very girly and with the possibility of being a bit cutesy, but something I really wanted to do. And as its my bedroom (our bedroom, but this we more or less agreed on), that’s what’s important.

Which is where we were when we came up to the decision point about the curtains. The room, as I mentioned, has a big bay window, but that opens out over the front drive and the road. Neither of us were comfortable with having this just open, so we wanted to have some sort of way of shading us from the full view of passers by. I was a bit uncomfortable with the vibe from net curtains and even voiles, as being a bit grannyish, but it was the only thing we could afford. So we wanted something that had flowers and at the same time was quite young….hmmm….

We hunted everywhere, and in the end it was online that came up trumps, with curtains we could get made to measure. Ours have a trailing flower pattern, which was the best we could find to tread that tricky line…


On top of these we needed green curtains. As mentioned in a previous post, it was tough to find something in the shade of green that we wanted. So we ditched the matching idea and went for something contrasting – a dark green. Again, made to measure online was our best bet – the windows seemed to be an unusual length – too deep for short curtains but the longer ones would have been trailing on the floor. We also found some in a velour – a nice luxury fabric to contrast with the feel of the room so far.


And the best bit – when the sun shines through onto the curtains you can just see the shadow of the vine pattern on the curtains, which is genuinely lovely. Room is getting there at last!

Eltham Palace

The bedroom – look at that wallpaper and the wood! (especially that corner table)

It’s been over a week since I finally managed to get to Eltham Palace, and it’s time I said something about it.

I’d been promised an Art Deco extravaganza, full of unimaginable luxury (even the lemur (a lemur!) had a heated cage!) and in many ways it really is. But a much more understated, even subtle way than I expected. No Great Gatsbysque glitter in this palace.

Lots of modern conveniences, even fitted vacuum tubes so you can plug a hoover right into the wall! Built in furniture and radios, everything of the best – especially the wood. Different bedrooms in different woods – the Pear bedroom, the Oak bedroom etc. So beautifully kept and glossy, just amazing how you can make so many beautiful looks just with wood. Maybe not surprising, but even so.

Most rooms were subtle, pale creams and blues, beiges and pinks. My favourite was the male master bedroom, with amazing blue wallpaper spanning two walls with a Chinese willowware style picture of Kew Gardens.


Stephen Courtauld’s bathroom was my favourite too, a beautiful green, quite unlike his wife’s gold nymph themed one.

The bathroom

The room that most encapsulated the feel of the palace though is the entrance room – an astoundingly airy room, full of light and space.


The marquetry mural, with the subtle beiges echoed in the rug. Impressive, but not in your face. Very clever!

Friday feature – something pretty

New Friday feature! Find something random on Pinterest and share it.

So look at these gorgeous chairs! (random search for colourful furniture)

I love the jewel green colour, and the lovely luxurious fabric. But also the shape and detailing, kind of Art Deco shape. I think I like that era quite a lot…

Enjoy! Wish one day I could have room for things as gorgeous as this.

Ok, more things as gorgeous as this – after all my beloved sofa is pretty much as good.

Greens – so very many greens

I know, if we were doing this project properly, we should really have decided on the wall colour first, painted them, and then got the really big, heavy, immoveable objects in place.

However, we were moving in and we needed the bed and wardrobe or we’d really suffer. So we really did have to wait to redo the walls. Not wait too long though as the peachy/magnolia colour on walls allegedly made my lady feel ill. Not at all the vibe you want in a bedroom!

So, we wanted green walls. I was quite clear in my head that I wanted a fresh green. Apple green, spring leaves, maybe fresh peas. Something that seemed natural and light. The sort of green you see looking out of the window at lawns (maybe a bit less jewelled green). Quite a pure tone of greenness.

And we thought maybe we should try and find curtains and soft furnishings first and match the paint to them as that was going to be easier than the other way round.

Except that, apparently, the sort of green we wanted simply doesn’t exist in the world of soft furnishings! Look at the ‘green’ section in any catalogue. Go on. You’ll see some sage greens – that sort of grey almost blue-green colour that I agree is beautiful but not at all what I wanted to give that fresh feel to the room.

Sage green bedding

There are also a quite incredible number of quite harsh lime-ish (although the colour known as lime green is a long way away from anything you get from an actual lime), almost brown greens. Personally, I can’t stand this colour. I genuinely think it’s hideous, so it was out. It’s also quite vibrant and energetic, which wouldn’t be restful. And as we were going for a girly sort of feel, it wouldn’t work so well to get that sense either.

Lime green bedding

We turned to our endless paint charts and samples, deciding to get that right and worry about the rest later. Thank heavens for Dulux mix-labs, which provided the best range of possible colours. We have debates on how strong a green we wanted – I was quite in favour of a fairly strong, vibrant, green, my lady wanted something more pastel-like. We’ve found in conversations before that we see greens differently, so this was quite a challenging conversation. In the end, we ordered more or less every tester from Dulux that even vaguely fitted the brief, and raided every other range we could find for similar colours. We painted up endless sheets of paper to see what we felt would work – as you can see from the photo.

We weren’t happy with any of the first batch so we went back and scoured the shelves and paint cards for more (as an aside, the Dulux website is excellent in many ways, but the rendering of colours is bizarre. None of the paints look anything like the colours on screen, as we found on several devices. This is especially true of greens and yellows. No idea why, but don’t trust the screen, get a card. Admittedly this is true of most paints I would think, but we did find it a particular issue with Dulux. But I digress)

Eventually, we came to a conclusion. The answer was green parrot two. Which is not some secret spy code, but a slightly paler version of, yes, the colour of green parrots colonising London. It’s very fresh, very green, and we both liked it.

Update – since doing the room, we realised that green, especially stronger greens, are generally considered a bad idea in bedrooms and bathrooms as the colour can make you look very sickly when you’re getting dressed or looking at yourself, which is obviously a bad thing. All I can say is that we haven’t noticed this in our bedroom. I think the huge bay window, meaning the light gets to you without bouncing off the walls and the very large pieces of white furniture (bed, on which we put mostly white linen, and wardrobe) mean that this problem doesn’t manifest itself. Worth remembering for other projects though!

A close up of the green bedroom wall (with cameo appearances from the bedside table and lamp)

A close up of the green bedroom wall (with cameo appearances from the bedside table and lamp)

The final big ticket and urgent item – the wardrobes

So to wardrobes. As you may have gathered, we are two ladies living together. We both like clothes and I have a slightly unhealthy collection of shoes. Wardrobe and clothes storage space is important to us. And so, we turned to Ikea. On our endless trips round their maze, we also spent endless hours in the wardrobe section. Looking at doors. Lights. Finishes. Layouts. Really REALLY clever gadgets that you think are amazing and then realise wouldn’t work for you. More layouts. More doors. We went back to the flat and measured the ceiling height – realised we could fit in the taller size of wardrobe. Went back to trying layouts.

The Ikea online wardrobe builder was in the end brilliant, but nearly ruined the whole thing. You can set up the room to the right dimensions, for a start, which was fun, as was painting the walls (and thus restarting the whole debate on what shade of green we were looking for….). Building a wardrobe turned out to be a touch trickier. As did deleting one I’d got wrong. It turns out that I managed NOT to delete the old wardrobe, but merely moved it out of the room (and thus out of most views). This resulted in the price quoted being double what it should have been and putting us off… Thankfully I spotted this problem before we got to the tearful stage, figured out how to delete the first draft, and we ended up with a double double wardrobe, going round a corner. Ingeniously the two sections are different depths meaning we have one lovely deep wardrobe and the other fits beyond the end of the bed. The interior of the wardrobe is laid out to my design with a mix of rails (in the deep one, to fit clothes on hangars properly), shoe racks, shelves (at the top, for things we don’t use often) and drawers (in the shallow wardrobe). I didn’t get it all quite right – the rails are a little too short so not all the clothes hang well – but it’s better than anything I’ve seen on the market and that’s a start. And it fits everything in, which is also kind of important!

The doors were another challenge. We needed sliding doors for the space – there literally isn’t clearance for a door to open in the room with the king size bed. I wanted at least one mirrored door as it means you don’t have to find extra floor space for a full length mirror as well as adding space and light, but with the oversized bed and layout we didn’t want full on mirrors right at the end/side of the bed. Having mirrors on you while you’re in bed and getting dressed has always felt a little weird to me, not my kind of thing at all. So we went for a mirror on the corner unit – not directly facing the bed, but useful when needed. It does help with the space, but with the bay window the room overall is quite light so it’s not needed for that reason.

Ikea doors are bizarrely priced as well. The basic, absolutely flat white door is fairly reasonable. The next one up, with minimal decoration is double that, and for any interesting finish at all, it’s insanely expensive. Funnily enough, we decided to go flat white and use the wardrobe as our first decorating project of that type.

Of course putting the wardrobe together was a whole other story…me, the in-laws, a power drill that broke before we could use it, late nights, stressful work while moving meant that there were quite literally tantrums with someone (ok, me) flouncing off in tears. Were over it now, and it’s pretty solid!

I think if you see the layout of the bedroom we ended up with, you’d probably scream. Everything is too big for the space. But we’re actually quite happy with it and critically it works for us. I guess we made the right compromises for us and our situation, but I don’t know if I’d recommend this style to anyone else!