Monthly Archives: August 2013

Which way do you hang Lotus wallpaper? A Facebook debate

We decided to upload a couple of pics of our lovely new kitchen diner to Farrow and Ball’s fabulous inspiration site.

I find it so useful looking at other people’s projects – whether my taste or not – and particularly like to see how paint colours turn out in different areas;  incredibly helpful for choosing. So we thought we’d do our bit by sharing our pics, we’re gracious like that.

F&B accepted the pictures onto their site last week, all was good.  Then I was a bit surprised to browse Facebook yesterday and see a pic of my own kitchen staring back at me in the news feed!

Facebook

It was shared by Farrow and Ball with the message “What do you think of this kitchen recently uploaded to our Inspiration site? Anything you’d change or perfect as it is?”

Now, there was a fair bit of love for the piccie (over 400 likes to date and 40+ shares) however there was also much hatred. And you know what? It didn’t bother us at all; it was just amusing how unnecessarily vicious strangers feel they have the right to be.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I dare say we wouldn’t like a lot of their homes so we don’t particularly care if they don’t like ours.

However, the comments that were actually annoying were the ones about the fact we had hung the wallpaper upside down. Facebook’s arm-chair interior designers chose to call us ‘idiots’, ‘knobs’ and ‘cocks’ because of it.  (But we’ve probably been called worse over more important things than wallpaper……)

Lotus BP 2061Lotus BP 2061Anyway, the lovely Lotus paper can be hung either way, it’s a matter of preference.

We spent a long time deciding and discussing the merits of both ways :

“It looks like cupped hands”, “It’s a smile”, “It’s a frown”, “I can see a beard now”, “That’s a weird jellyfish”, “Do you just see lady bits?” and so on.

But we chose the way we wanted it, up it went and we bloody adore it. We know it’s not to everyone’s taste and, honestly, we couldn’t give a monkeys.

However, I was very pleased that F&B graced their comment thread with the following:

“We love how passionate everyone is about this! As with anything aesthetic, subjectivity is the watch-word of the day – everyone’s opinion counts here and we welcome both positive comments and constructive criticism… We also thank the owner of this home for adding their photos to our inspiration site to help inspire others.

With regard to the direction of the Lotus pattern, this can be hung either way depending on personal preference. This is a common quandary and we have previously created a board on Pinterest to show how Lotus looks hung both ways. Included in this board is a picture of the original inspiration behind our Lotus pattern, taken from 19 century French archives: http://pinterest.com/farrowball/lotus-wallpaper-hung-both-ways/

Original Lotus paper inspiration

And here is that lovely original inspiration for the Lotus pattern from 19th century French archives  –  adapted and simplified to become the Farrow & Ball Lotus design.

Oh, well, now, will you look a that?! It’s the same way up as our wallpaper.

IN YOUR FACE FACEBOOK CRITICS!!!!!

Sorry, couldn’t help cheering. I guess that’s why we’re knobs/cocks/idiots. But we knew that already.

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Sitting room paint colour scheme

We’ve finished plastering. Woohoo!! Just now need to patch up the gaps and clean up the mess. Then it’s onto sanding, mist coating and finally  – be still my beating heart – painting!

In the meantime,  I thought it was perhaps time to share another colour scheme, this time for our sitting room.*

Farrow and Ball Pigeon

Pigeon for the main body of the walls

The computer screen doesn’t massively differentiate the next colour from Pigeon, but it really is different (lighter) in real life!

Farrow and Ball Blue Gray

Blue Gray for the frieze (above the picture rail)

Farrow and Ball Off White

Off White for ceiling, skirting, window woodwork, architrave, doors and picture rail

Farrow and Ball Pointing

Pointing for the cornice and ceiling rose

The idea is to create a cosy, calming, neutral backdrop, though not too neutral. We have some lovely bits to go in this room including a family heirloom – a painted corner cabinet from 1710 – as well as framed ivory fan set against fuschia felt. And, of course, we have a wonderful original cast iron fireplace – a post about that little beauty will follow soon.

We need to crack on with painting as soon as poss so we can get the radiators back on before we start to need them. Then it’s just carpets, curtains, furniture etc and we MIGHT stand a chance of being done by Christmas. That’s the plan anyway.

Oly has been known to become one with floor...

Oly has been known to become one with floor…

* I refuse to call what will be our new beautiful room a lounge.

In the little flat I grew up in my mum always used the term ‘sitting room’ – and I find it much more elegant and fitting for our darling house.

There will be no lounging on settees in this room, there will be sitting on sofas.

And, ok, after a few drinkies there may possibly be the occasional touch of sprawling on floors……

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Kitchen diner – the big reveal

We’ve been terrible teases and not posted full shots of our lovely new kitchen diner. We may now have over-compensated by posting absolutely loads of pictures!

Anyway, head on over to this page to see the lot. And please do leave us your comments on that page – would be great to hear what you think!

Before you go, here’s the obligatory before and after shots.

Now go and view the rest of the pics!

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Scandinavian kitchen soul

Edwardian shooting party

My great grandfather is head of the far end of table, this was taken in 1907.

The family name of my grandfather, Schweder, loosely translates as Swedish, in German.

(Here’s a lovely link I found about my great-grandfather  and the “Smelly Nuisance Case” at Courtlands – which was the childhood home of my grandfather, but that’s another story……)

Anyway, the reason for mentioning the Scandinavian connection is that our kitchen diner is now home to a few mid century bits and bobs that echo this ancestry.

Despite the Swedish genealogy it was Norway that stole my grandfather’s heart on several visits – and so it was that my mum had a few Norwegian items that have now passed into our possession.

Nowegian ceramic plaque back

The back of one of the ceramic plaques

They are objects I have grown up with so they feel very familiar and immediately make a new space feel like home for me. They include:

Glass tankards – I never knew these to get used, instead they lived in a Welsh Dresser my grandfather made. I saw them whenever I went to get out the banana split dishes (which were used a lot!). As a child I never appreciated the design, I am making up for it now.

A handpainted Figgjo Saga jug –  it lived on mum’s bookshelves, so now it lives on ours.

Norwegian ceramic plaques – there were some more that I grew up with but my brother had these as we decided to split the collection since he also knew them so well. The plaque of the cook that always hung in our kitchen was a present to mum from her father – he said it always reminded him of her.  I’m afraid I fought my brother quite fiercely for this one, since I was the household cook from the age of 10!!

Cathrineholm pans – I cannot describe how many times these have been used. Growing up they were a firm focus of the kitchen as my mum taught me to cook – “just bung it in the Norwegian casserole”. The Christmas pudd was always flamed in one, the gammon always simmered in the same. It was only recently I spotted one on Etsy and learnt its name and the fact they’re collectable! You can tell from the pics they have had good use and will for many more years to come.  (FYI – Cathrineholm isn’t a  person;  it’s the name of a factory outside Halden, Norway. )

I love these pieces; cherish them alongside my sparkly new stuff. They have the history of my grandfather bringing them back from Norway and then my mum loving and using them.

I love the link to my Scandinavian ancestry (as if the pasty skin wasn’t enough to remind me daily) and it’s all these things that give them soul.

Kitchen island pendant lightI freely admit to a ridiculous, almost over-bearing at times, sentimental attachment to objects and love to find tenuous links.

It’s no wonder then that the lights that hang over our kitchen island are from Sweden. I knew they were right when I spotted them but the thought of a little link to my Scandinavian past, quite literally, hanging around, clinched the deal.

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How to varnish a table that was waxed

This isn’t the most exciting post, however, it may be helpful for anyone else deciding on a varnish. Besides, it’s a break from posts that contain the cat.

We made a bit of an error in judgement with our new dining table. We had it made – in solid oak – by the joiners who made our kitchen cabinets – the legs are painted in Farrow&Ball Railings to match the island colour, the top is wood.

(It’s an amazing table by the way, much better than what we may have afforded in a store and we were able to provide our required measurements. Anyway, I digress……)

A varnished oak table with Farrow and Ball Railings on legs

We wanted to retain the character of the wood and yet also not have to worry about scratches etc. So we were advised to go for a wax finish, which we did but very quickly realised this was a bit of a mistake!

The wax was marking with any wet ring stains from cups and glasses and, more importantly, coming off if you put your elbows on the table for too long. Now, whilst it could have been a great way to ensure proper table manners, it wouldn’t have really been a practical way to live.

So, after much um-ing and ah-ing and internet research we decided to scrap the wax and go with a varnish (laquer) instead. We had only applied one coat of liquid wax with a couple of good buffings so didn’t think this was beyond our skills to get it off and go again.

Maybe worth reminding you at this point – we’re not particularly practical and we’ve certainly never varnished anything before (unless a manicure counts?) so we were a little bit daunted and worried about ruining our new table. But after some great advice from the incredibly helpful  Wood Finishes Direct we were armed with all we needed and it actually turned out to be a dead easy job.

We stripped all traces of the wax from the table using white spirit and scotch pads (so much less messy and effective than steel wool we were advised by our friendly website and how right they were!).

Then we sanded it really well. We wetted the wood with water (once more great advice from our web friends) to check we had an even colour and no wax remained. We didn’t have an even colour, so we scrubbed those bits again with white spirit and repeated the wetting with water. An even colour was achieved – we were good to go.

We had opted not to use a wood stain as we were happy with what the wood looked like wet – an indication of what it would look like with the varnish applied.

We applied the varnish with some incredibly nifty foam brushes that made it a doddle and avoided brush marks. A quick denib between each coat with some sandpaper and, 3 coats later, we were done!

We used Manns Extra Tough Clear Varnish and it was every bit as good as the reviews said. Went on like a dream, no smell, dries quickly and was a lovely matt finish with just the slightest sheen.

A wooden table varnished with clear laquer

The result is a table we’re very happy with and has, so far, proven to have been a wise decision. We’re hosting a birthday dinner next week for a friend, so that will no doubt test it further.

Norwegian Forrest Cat on bed

Ooops, he sneaks into a post once more. Oh, come on – is this not cute?!!

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Yet another cat bed

Oly had a plan for the window in our dining room. The cat has tweaked those ideas.

Lord Humphrey

Lord Humphrey

Ol is a huge music fan and has a small collection of much-loved vinyl. He’s always wanted somewhere to sit and listen to said vinyl so we decided this window presented the perfect opportunity.

(I think he has dreams of the good little wifey in a pinny baking bread on a Sunday morning whilst he sips coffee and Ella croons another crackly jazz classic. But that will never be, I don’t own a pinny.)

Whilst on the lookout for stylish chairs Oly announced he also needed a foot stool – the Sunday morning fantasy apparently came complete with somewhere to put his feet.

So that’s how my cursor came to rest on the ‘chaises’ category on my new favourite website – made.com

To be honest, I’d been looking for an excuse to buy one since I fell in love with the beautiful curves of the Halston Panama. (They also do this in an amazing hot pink but Oly’s fantasies rarely involve pink furniture. At least, I think they don’t……)

Before we talked ourselves out of it, this was ordered but it’s only recently it went to its rightful place. And since then, it’s been a firm favourite with a certain someone:

From the rare occasions we’ve been able to sit on it we can confirm it’s super comfy and beautifully finished. We wanted to add a splash of colour so opted for a lovely cushion from David James Interiors – made from Sanderson’s Bellflower fabric, a bargain for £12.50.

I’d hoped the cushion might have put the cat off. But no, stubborn little sod.

Chaise longue and Sanderson cushion

Something new to cover with fur

We do have some friends who really don’t like cats (the fact that they’re our friends trouble us slightly). To them,  allowing the cat to steal the chaise will be sheer lunacy. But seriously, could you resist this face?

But I've been so tolerant of the mess, I only want a little sit down

For those who really don’t care about the cat (weirdos) and are purely here for the paint – the wall is Farrow&Ball’s Cornforth White and the woodwork All White.

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Filth

Getting tired of looking at this

We don’t seem to have much luck with plasterers. The first one we tried to contract broke his leg just after leaving our house.

The second kept cancelling and eventually we had to sack him off.

The third got started around 10 days ago. When we say ‘got started’ that’s probably being generous. It’s taken him days to really get started. He’ll turn up, do a bit and then either have to go and tax his car, get fitted for a suit for his brother’s wedding, smoke a fag or or run some other mysterious errand.

We’ve discovered several key facts about our plasterer since he’s been (occasionally) in our house:

  • He works at a slow pace. Treacle would give him a run for his money
  • He’s a bit stupid (sorry, but it’s true) so needs to be told the same thing on several occasions
  • His bucket has a leak in it and it will flood into your new kitchen diner from above, through the light fitting (no lasting harm done thankfully)
  • He can eat his own body weight in biscuits
  • And above all? He’s really really really messy.

Admittedly, we always knew the plastering stage would be a touch messy given the state of the walls and the artex ceilings but  he gets it EVERYWHERE.

We won't be having overnight guests any time soon

We won’t be having overnight guests any time soon

We now feel like we’re living in a bit of a building site and, I’m ashamed to say, we’re not even attempting to clean it up each day. I’m too ashamed to even share the photographic evidence. We are living like pigs, surrounded by plaster filth and detritus.

That damn carpet is holding up better than we are

That damn carpet is holding up better than we are

So, all in, we are finding our patience is exceedingly stretched and we’re not really getting anywhere fast. Still, he’s an honest lad, desperate to do a good job. We had been hopeful it would all be completed within the 3 week timescale he originally gave us but that is looking more and more unlikely – particularly as he ended up in A&E last week with chest pains……turns out he’s torn a muscle in his chest, right by his heart. How? Stretching to do our ceilings. Ooops. So, now there’ll be a few days off whilst he recovers from that.

Will we ever get rid of the artex that plagues us?! Even the cat is getting stroppy.

Meanwhile, we are limping towards the finish line with our kitchen diner. All will be revealed soon – promise! – but it’s looking, quite frankly,  incredible and is the one thing maintaining our sanity. Just.

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