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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Ceilings – underused areas

Honestly – who thinks much about ceilings except as something to hang lights from? A huge, flat space in our rooms that we basically ignore…

I love going round stately homes and one of the first things I do in each room is look up. I love those grand old ceilings with mouldings and patterns. And often murals and paintings too. They really used the space. But when I look around rooms of most people, they do nothing with the ceiling. So here are some options that I think look stunning and a bit more modern than murals of goddesses and fat cherubs!

Well there’s this lovely gold ceiling. I think this would be a really good way of reflecting light in a small space, while also looking really glamorous. Might be a bit overpowering in a big room perhaps.

Gold ceiling in a small vanity sink areaa

Gold ceiling in a small vanity sink area

Next this lovely study with a map ceiling. I’m actually genuinely slightly tempted by putting this in our (much smaller) study. It’s just so cool! And all the cream background means it still feels high and spacious.

Map ceiling

Or you could just go bold and colourful. This look probably does go best with a white or pale wall (so a bit unlike my standard approach). I love how in this room the ceiling is echoed in the rug too.

Teal ceiling

And finally, back to that old school moulding? Well, here’s a modern take on it. I absolutely adore this ceiling. Doesn’t it look special? Would be amazing in my bedroom with it’s bower theme or the hallway (which will be a winter woodland when it’s finally done)

Vine ceiling

Rugs – they really make a difference

I’d heard a lot about how much of a difference rugs can make, but I don’t think I really understood it. Perhaps it’s the kind of thing you don’t properly get until you try it out.

But the carpets in our house are pretty grim – thin, poorly fitted and ugly brown. We’ve got enough on our plates without trying to replace carpets too, so rugs seemed like a place to start. We had a couple – old and a bit the worse for wear. A quick wash, and one cream rug was in place. It lifted the room to a quite incredible degree. Brighter, more elegant, more loved.

So I decided to take the plunge and buy a really nice, different looking rug for the living room. Rugs can be ridiculously expensive, but once I got myself into stubborn Google mode, it turned out there were actually a few options. I found a fun abstract yellow and white rug, that might have been a bit jazzy for the room. And a lovely teal and yellow poppy pattern that looked lovely, but I wasn’t sure about as a rug – I felt it might dominate – or look odd when half of it was hidden by a table or an ironing board.

And then there was this one. Beautifully matching teal, interesting and yet abstract, and picking up the wood/neutral colours that the room has alongside the yellow. I put it down and immediately I love it. It makes the room feel more together, more part of a scheme. It makes the small kitchen diner look grand and somewhere you really want to spend time. Amazing!

Just look at how great it looks with the sofa – like they were meant to be together…

Rug with the sofa

It does bring into focus how bare the walls are, but that’s an ongoing project….

The overall effect

Kitchen planning appointment

So on Wednesday, our first kitchen planner came round.

He spotted a few issues with where the kitchen is (not arguing with the current problems!) – there’s a structural beam half way along that’s going to make moving the hob and hood tricky. Oh, and we don’t have a stopcock.

But, he was on the whole quite positive. Certainly helpful! He thinks we can have all the things we want – a washing machine and dryer and slimline dishwasher! That, I wasn’t expecting, I thought we’d have to give up the dishwasher. He does think that he has to make me forfeit a tall cupboard that I wanted for the ironing board and mops and stuff. A bit disappointing, but something I can probably live with I suppose.

Anyway, full plans tomorrow so I’ll see what I think of it…Another designer coming round on Sunday though, so we should have some options!

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…

IMG_1943

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.

IMG_1944

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!

Moving on from the sofa – getting another basic right

Sorry for not posting for a couple of days – been feeling under the weather, and also have been quite busy at work.

I thought today I’d talk about the other major purchases. You’ve seen the saga of the sofa. Thankfully the other two were much, much easier.

Both the other critical items were for the bedroom – a bed and a wardrobe. We’d originally hoped the loft room could be the bedroom as the bay window room would be an amazing living room, and I really love having stairs to go up to bed – you really feel like there’s a separation between day and night, work/activity and sleep then. Sadly the loft room is an incredibly awkward space and that combined with the low and sloping ceiling meant that we just couldn’t see it working as a day to day bedroom for us. So we moved on to Plan B – the large bay window room to be the master bedroom.

First things first, we had to get an idea of the colour scheme we wanted. Inevitably, there was a debate. I kind of wanted a pretty pink and white concept, based on sort of cherry blossom ideas (http://www.pinterest.com/chariscroft/bedroom-ideas-pink/). My lady, inevitably, wanted blue and white. With green being my favourite colour, and a soothing, relaxing colour, I was also in favour of green and white. Interestingly, we weren’t interested in wood finishes at all – possibly because our one existing piece of furniture – a chest of drawers – was white. Possibly not. In the end, I won the debate, largely because with the teal and yellow front room, and a blue study in the pipeline, we felt that we were going to end up living in a blue house. So we went with green and white.

A white base to a bed isn’t actually all that tricky to find, which was a relief. We were quite torn on the style – we both loved the look of wrought iron style headboards, especially if you think of them against a green wall, but those bedsteads inevitably are less comfy to sit up against, and we do sit up in bed to chat/eat breakfast etc on a more or less daily basis. That style of bed also inevitably means no inbuilt storage underneath and in a small flat, we felt we really desperately needed the storage space. Yes, you can get round this with boxes and so on under the bed but then you lose the look…

So we went practical, and got an ottoman bed with a padded headboard. It does look essentially like a very big white box, but with nice bedding that’s not too bad, and the storage it provides is incredible and invaluable. We also got a King size bed, despite it only just fitting in the space. It is too big for the room, but given that we spend the most time in there in bed, we felt that it was most important to get that experience right. In some ways being in the room feels like being on a massive divan rather than a room. We won’t win any awards for how amazing the room looks, but we enjoy using it, which is at least as important. (though actually, I also love how it looks myself). Also we didn’t skimp on choosing a mattress and got the best we could afford that we both liked (as with sofas, we have rather different requirements for softness of mattress…). Not regretted that choice for a single second, it’s worth it. Getting a good night’s sleep is so important! Sitting in the bed, with all that space, on the soft mattress, is such a luxurious experience.