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….

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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.

First things first

Been a busy week – lots of time wandering posh parts of London on my way to a couple of Proms. Wandering around in Westminster is a delight if you like architecture and look up above the first storey. Some examples I took on my way are below – dodgy photo quality is down to my iPhone, sorry!

Just look at the contrast between the red and white buildings (sorry about the photo quality! Had to take it from the middle of the road)

Just look at the contrast between the red and white buildings (sorry about the photo quality! Had to take it from the middle of the road)

Beautiful red brick buildings

Now an amazing bar...

Now an amazing bar…

A lovely grey hotel

A lovely grey hotel

And I walked down Walton St which has a vast quantity of lovely little interior shops. One day I’ll take a day and explore. Especially the hidden cavern of lamps and lighting. (you get some of of the charm from this picture but not all of it!)

A cave of delights

One thing that struck me though, was that there were quite a few with truly wonderful door handles. One in the shape of a rope swag and one held in place by silver hands. Honestly, just perfect for your first impression of an interior shop.

Hand door handleRope swag handle

It reminded me of something I learned in my first job. This was a summer job, cleaning in Cambridge colleges that were being used as conference hotels. Not glamorous, but still quite strict in criteria. All of us summer cleaners were made to do a test clean of a room, and the housekeeper – Ann – pointed out that most of us had missed cleaning the light switch. As she said, everyone touches it (so it gets dirty) and it’s the first thing people touch in the room, and as such it’s critical to get right.

That was…..several years ago, but it stuck in my mind. And I guess the same is true for door handles. They’re the first thing anyone touches – even before they enter the shop or the room – and so they are what makes the first impression. And if your business is lovely interiors, then that impression of beautiful details is critical. (and keep them clean! Thanks Ann for the tip).