This is it then; school’s back, work’s back and it’s all happening again – perhaps not quite in the same way as two years ago, but the nearest we’ve had to normality in a long time. So, to continue with some normal let’s return to our Monday classic with some beautiful rooms to guide you through the day – perhaps a break during a return to the office, or five minutes with a cup of coffee to mark the first day the kids have been out of the house all at the same time for months. My day hasn’t changed at all as both are now students and won’t go back to respective universities and colleges for another couple of weeks. All the more reason to wander through some gorgeous spaces uncluttered by laundry, crockery and general stuff. There’s always so much stuff.
So, ignoring said “stuff” for the time being, I’m going to show you the latest “tweakment” in the Mad House. When we built this extension (aka 3m2 low ceiling box) we installed bifold doors. It was 2010 – that was what everyone did then. We chose wooden ones because we thought that would be more in keeping with the Victorian house than aluminium – oh and it was significantly cheaper.
The doors were fine for a few years and then they dropped and kept getting stuck when we wanted to open them. And then a family of foxes moved in next door and kept coming into our garden despite our best efforts to keep them out. This meant, in turn, that having heaved the doors open (on the six days a year that the weather warranted it) you had to haul them shut again if you left the room in case the foxes decided to wander in.
We decided last year that we would prefer a different opening arrangement and perhaps smaller panes of glass – more in keeping with the fashion for Crittal style windows. But having carefully stuck black electrical tape over the original bifolds we realised that smaller panes of glass also added more character to this box and so, last April, we took the plunge and ordered new doors.
We decided, after much deliberation, to have two single doors opening at the sides and keep the fixed pane in the middle. This was a) symmetrical – something we both realised we needed for peace of mind and b) means that you can go out of which ever one seems handier (the chair will probably move). Our supplier (Mike Honour Windows) suggested two narrow fixed panes at the side with double doors opening in the middle but we knew the table can’t ever move and so we would have been forever shimmying round it to get out. It was more practical to open at the sides. We also knew, after 10 years, that we didn’t need the whole thing opening.
Supply chains being what they are at the moment we ordered these back in April and they have just been fitted. For those who will want to know we paid just under £6,000, which – having asked around – appears to be pretty standard. And we love them. Not only is the room lighter, which I hadn’t quite expected although the frames are much narrower than the wooden ones – but somehow the room seems wider and less tunnel-like. The council were adamant in 2010 that we couldn’t build an extension that ran the full width of the back of the house. The rules have changed now and these days you can.
So we have gone from a characterless box to one with a tin tile ceiling which bounces the light around, to these doors and also the addition of the wood burning stove (it’s a north-facing room) and I feel this is now a space with character and personality.
There is one other thing that is currently on my mind – flooring. We probably won’t do this but I have a real hankering for a chequerboard floor and these aubergine and cream tiles from Otto Tiles are definitely calling to me at the moment. The rug is full of holes and I can’t decide if a tile “rug” is the answer or if I want to do the whole dining end or perhaps the kitchen end. I think it will be too much for the whole room. As I say we probably won’t do any of it but it’s my current decorating ponder. I always need a decorating dilemma to ponder don’t you?
And then there’s this rather fabulous bathroom by the decorating genius that is Sarah Sherman Samuel which combines that muddy clay colour that we were talking about in July with these square tiles over wall and floor. I just love this look but am really not about to do my bathroom again… although I too have a shower in a corner with a wet room style floor so it would totally work without having to rip the room apart… No. This. Is. Not. Happening. But if anyone else is redoing their bathroom this is a good look non?
Leaving bathrooms, this would make a lovely work from home space if you had a garden office or even a verandah. The green walls link to the greenery outside but would do the job of nature during the winter when the trees are bare and our senses are deprived of that lung-filling greenery that inspires so many of us (all except one reader that is – sorry – probably best you stop reading at this point for this post… ).
Because here is another room with green woodwork and, this time, the addition of that famous Borastapeter Rabarber wallpaper. Now I have to say I have always preferred the dark green version as seen in Sophie Robinson’s kitchen (my podcasting co-host for those who are new to these pages) but seeing the lighter version here I rather love it against the green woodwork.
Here you go for those who want to instantly compare. Sophie has used a pale pink from the paper on her woodwork to bring out the colour of the flowers on the paper, while above, it’s the green that has been used as a highlight. Both versions demonstrate perfectly how a colour that isn’t white (even if there is white in the paper) will bring out, not just the paper design but also bring the whole room together and make it seem more considered and “schemed”. And while we all want that casual “oh this old room I just threw it together” kind of look, we all also know that it takes much more effort and planning to actually pull that off and the most casual of schemes will have had a huge amount of thought and attention to detail going on behind the final look.
Finally, to really bring out the green, this fabulous room by Guirao Design. I can only admire this as there’s no way I’d be brave enough to use this colour in my own kitchen, but then again I’m lucky enough to have a green garden as a view. This would be a joy through the winter for sure. And look also at the pretty scalloped detail around the window – that would work beautifully in any colour on any window. If painting your window frames to match the wall feels like a drag then this is a great idea to join everything together and would be particularly good in a bedroom with a plain blind.
And if you do fancy a bold colour for your cupboards but are nervous of doing too much then consider painting just the bottom cupboards and do the top in a paler shade or even match the walls so they disappear but that strengthens the argument for the window detail as it will tie it all in.
I hope that has brightened (perhaps literally) your Monday and given you some inspiration for your own places and spaces.