Tag Archives: kitchen diner

You’ll always find me in the kitchen at parties….

We knew our kitchen diner would be the perfect party space. We knew.

Last weekend our theory was proved correct as we held an absolutely awesome party! It was exactly a year on from our Mexican housewarming party and a chance to show our lovely guests what we had achieved in a year.

P1020605

Oly a year ago, standing where our kitchen island now is

This year, we hosted a black-tie cocktail party, fitting for our new elegant surroundings. There were house tours and then overly-strong cocktail mixing (thanks to a friend mistaking the double measure for the single!). There was super-competitive beer pong followed by a bit of a disco. We fell into bed at 6am.

P1030525

Due to a high prevalence of lurgy and prior engagements we had less people than we had originally anticipated but the 25 people or so who did make it were absolutely swallowed up in our wonderful kitchen diner. We probably could have had that number again with no problems. Well, our neighbours may not have agreed.

Anyway, here’s just a brief snapshot:

Just this brief glimpse hopefully shows what a great time we had and how happy we were to be able to host.

It also made us reflect how lucky we are to have lovely people nearby to invite into our home – people who know how to live life to the full, how to have a laugh and – importantly – how to just accept each other for exactly as we are.

Our friends from earlier parts of our lives – growing up and uni – are incredibly dear to us but live in other parts of the country; though we frequently long to be closer.

Over the years since uni we made some close local friends but – on the whole – we found ourselves with more friends miles away than those close by.

Me and my lovely Emma

Me and my lovely Emma

That was until a couple of years ago when we went to Corfu for the wedding of an exceedingly lovely Lovely; I was her first boss and she’s now a very successful journalist.

Anyway, in Corfu we met her childhood friends (who I had already heard so much about I felt as if I knew them) and instantly fell in love with them and they, happily, with us. We’re now privileged and thankful to call them our own friends and adore spending time with them.

So, at the start of 2014 we’ve found we have lots to be thankful for. And, obviously, we’re already planning our next party.

Advertisements

5 Comments

Filed under Kitchen diner

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!

3 Comments

Filed under Kitchen diner

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.

2 Comments

Filed under Decor

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?!!

9 Comments

Filed under Furniture

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.

7 Comments

Filed under Furniture

Be silly, be honest, be kind

We’re generally not fans of pithy sayings on posters or prints.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore words and (well used) language – it enthralls and enchants me and indeed led to both mine and Oly’s profession.

However, bad, lazy, over-use of gimmicky ‘oooo, but it speaks to me’ sayings really pee me off. Seriously people, “Keep Calm and………….Market Something to Death”?

Anyway, that said, there are times when something just leaps out and fits your ethos perfectly. And one morning when idly browsing Fab.com that very thing happened.

Be silly, Be honest, Be kind

Be silly, Be honest, Be kind

Oly agreed – it couldn’t be a more perfect way to sum up our approach to life.

Honesty, kindness and silliness. Get these three elements right and everything else falls into place.

To be honest you need to be kind and vice versa. There can be no love without honesty and kindness, no respect, no trust, no friendship. You get the idea.

And silliness? Well, who doesn’t want to live a slightly brighter life by being silly? My beloved mum was an insanely intelligent, brave, articulate lady but, boy, was she silly! We had daft names for everything, silly sayings, songs and rituals.

Oly and I are just the same. In his wedding speech Oly said how it was laughter that kept us together and happy every single day and, to quote, “when we run out of things to laugh at, we laugh at each other.” Oh, so true.*

Adding colour to our (nearly finished) kitchen

Adding colour to our (nearly finished) kitchen

So, we ordered the print and it has finally found it’s rightful place on the chimney breast of our kitchen, nestled next to my (very silly) Alessi things.

This saying is most often credited to Ralph Waldo Emmerson but who knows if it really was him – and who cares?! The sentiment is perfect and a mantra we plan to uphold till they cart us away.

Bumbling in

Bumbling in

*Laughing at each other is a daily occurence, whatever the situation – including our wedding day.

I, very sadly and with huge regret, had no family at my wedding so bravely gave myself away in front of 100 of our dearest friends and  Oly’s family.

A nerve-wracking prospect for any bride, so the choice of music was pretty significant.

My dear husband-to-be suggested that, as I “bumbled in towards him” that The Automatic’s “Monster”  would be appropriate.

For those not familiar, the lyrics are: “What’s that coming over the hill, is it a monster? Is it a monster?”

Yes, I still married the witty bastard.

Leave a comment

Filed under Decor

When we fell in love with a map

The Future Mapping Company shop

Small but perfect shop

When we were in the very early stages of planning our dining area we knew we were going to paint it a shade of grey (in the end we opted for Farrow and Ball’s Cornforth White) and we also knew we’d need to inject a pop of colour. On a rainy day last January in East London we found the answer.

It was peeing it down  and we were at Columbia Road Flower Market – we’d made a special trip back there to replace (as far as one can) stolen wedding jewellery after we were burgled.

There’s a great vintage shop called Glitterati which is where we were heading; treading the steps my beloved mum used to when she nursed in that area back in the 1950s.

However, partly because we wanted to escape the rain and partly because Oliver is a huge map fan, we dived into a tiny little shop called the Future Mapping Company.

On the back wall of the shop – which was, incidentally, about the width of the shop – was a fabulous 2m x 1m world map in shades of green.

Future Mapping Company's world map

Future Mapping Company’s world map

After gazing at it a while we got chatting to the seller who told us how it is drawn using equal-area projection to represent countries in their correct proportional size. It’s then printed using a lithographic process, with special colours, including silver metallic for the seas. The print is finished with a sealer, to protect the inks, and a gloss UV varnish is applied to the landmasses – for contrast.

Oly was sold, he wanted it and we knew – instantly- which wall it was destined for.

To save lugging it in the rain we ordered it when we got home (free shipping!) and it then spent several glum months in a cardboard tube.

The talented Robin Taylor then did a superb job of framing it for us – not an easy job on something this size, particularly when we didn’t want glass so’s not to obscure the print perfection.

And now, finally, we have been able to hang it.

IMG_2689

Perfect against the Cornforth White walls, – ceiling is in Strong White and it’s All White on woodwork and cornice

Future Map

Litho print with metallics and gloss UV

Map

Looking good with DownPipe cabinets in the background

Pretty as a picture – what’s not to love about a map?

The size of our wall somewhat dwarfs the 2m x 1m map in the pictures but, in real life, it looks very impressive and achieves the shot of colour we wanted.

Oly has already been lost to the wonder of the map, idly gazing. I suspect he won’t be the last.

6 Comments

Filed under Decor