So here we are again. In all senses. I debated about publishing and then I realised that stopping our normal lives is exactly the desired effect, so I understood how important it was to carry on as normal. That some people might just want do drop into The Mad House and stroll through some lovely rooms. That it might be calming. And restful. And reassuring.
And in the same vein we went to Oxford Street yesterday to buy the 16yo his first suit for his first school leaving party and to buy the 13yo a suitcase for his first school trip. And we are carrying on. Because that is what we must do.
And on that note I would like to introduce you to the very lovely home of Wendy Aldridge, owner of homeplaceonline who contacted me last week asking if I would like to feature these photographs which were taken by David Cleveland for The Guardian magazine a couple of years ago. And I thought, yes I absolutely would. Because who doesn’t love a mosey round someone else’s home, especially when it’s as cool as this.
In fact Wendy’s home first appeared last week in 10 Beautiful Rooms when I included her hall with its wonderful vintage cinema seats and the rest of her house doesn’t disappoint. It is mostly painted in her “beloved” Down Pipe: “my all time favourite colour. Ever.”
And so say all of us.
The house itself was quite a big job. It’s double-fronted with a recent extension on one side and when Wendy and her family moved in they completely reconfigured the ground floor swapping the kitchen from a small room on the right to a larger one on the left and opening the entrance to the extension by installing double doors and creating a kids’ den.
Then they installed bifold doors from the kitchen out into the garden. But that makes it sound simple. It’s an old house and once they started pulling off the textured wallpaper the the walls basically fell apart. So the house was reduced to a shell. But this, says Wendy, was quite handy as it need rewiring anyway.
I imagine she was less sanguine at the time. Mind you as anyone who has done a big refurbishment will know the main thing is to expect the unexpected and have a contingency plan. And Gin. You will always need the Gin. And if you haven’t done a project but are about to, then take heed.
Once the walls had been rebuilt and the rewiring done, they installed not one but two new bathrooms and, as Wendy puts it “painted and decorated extensively”.
And that’s when we get to the grey.
“Our first dabble in grey was the lovely soft Elephant’s Breath which we had used in the master bedroom of our previous flat. We had the same Sopie Refer pendant lights hanging down either side of the bed (see below) and I had always loved how the red flex looked against the grey.
“It was only a matter of time before I realised how much more I liked how they looked against a darker shade of grey.”
Wendy says she has always liked grey and that it has now become, as far as she is concerned, a neutral. ” I feel more at home working with grey than I do trying to find the right shade of white. I have a particular affinity for Down Pipe as it’s such a calm colour and it makes everything you put against it – wood, metallics, brights – look fantastic.
“That said I do like to balance the dark with lots of white. I think some areas of the home lend themselves to being light. Our hall (featured last week ) is Hague Blue and white and the stairs and landing get lots of light so we painted them white (see below) which is heavenly when the sun shines and it feels so light and bright on a sunny day.”
There is also the compromise factor which must raise its head in any relationship. My mother-in-law asked me this weekend what colour I would paint my fantasy kitchen and my first question was would I be married to your fantasy son if I owned this fantasy kitchen?
In Wendy’s case, the light was needed to balance the dark to appease her husband. “As a compromise for going full tilt to the dark side we agreed to keep the kitchen and one of the bathrooms white and I’m so glad we did.
“I like being able to go from the light places to the dark ones and really enjoy the contrast.”
Thank you so much to Wendy for taking us on a tour of her lovely home and to everyone else go out and keep doing what you do. I’ll see you back here tomorrow as usual for this month’s Guest Blogger who is Jane Rockett of Rockett St George. A few months before their first book is published, Jane is sharing her tips for creating an extraordinary home.
All images by David Cleveland