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…

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).