I have spoken often about how brilliant hotels can be for decor inspiration – especially for those in small spaces. It’s not just about bedrooms, where there are often ingenious ways of dividing the space up to provide a bathroom, but also in the public spaces which may be trend-led or attention-grabbing through their use of colour and texture and give you something that you can use in your own spaces. This week I thought we’d take a look at another great source and that’s the location house.
Renting your house out for shoots is a growing industry and it’s a great way to make some extra money on the side. That said – and I speak as someone who did it for a while pre-pandemic – it’s harder than it seems. Before the team arrive you think – this is money for old rope. Then they arrive and there are invariably more people than you thought and they might have hired the sitting room for the shoot, but they all need to go somewhere else while it’s happening in there, so that’s the kitchen (and often stairs) out of bounds along with a bathroom and a room for props or models to change. Then you watch as everything is turned upside, it often runs late and you despair that it will ever be back to normal.
By about 6pm you are swearing that no fee is worth it, that you will never do this again and it was a really, really bad idea. By 8pm when it’s all back to normal, they’ve gone and you’ve had a gin, you say this was absolutely, positively the last time we do this but the money will be nice when it arrives. A couple of weeks later someone else gets in touch, the memories have receded and you think – ooh yes this is easy extra money. And off you go again…. The pandemic put a stop to our location hiring but we did it for about a year and it paid for a week’s holiday so it was definitely worth it. I might start again…
But that was not the point. The point was that there are lots of sites where you can look at location houses. These are from Shoot Factory, JJ Media and Light Locations all of which have some amazing properties which are not only lovely for a Monday morning moment of shoulder-dropping relaxation, but can also be helpful for your own places and spaces. There’s no rule as to what makes a successful location house. Brands and editorial shoots tend to like high ceilings and large spaces to lug sofas and furniture about, but films and tv might be looking for a tiny fisherman’s cottage or a modern flat so there’s no reason, with a bit of hunting, that you won’t find something that chimes with your own place or design dilemma and you can see what they did and if you can adapt it for yourself.
The other joy of looking at location houses is you can see how your ideas might look in real life. There are a lot of Victorian terraces with side return extensions and bifold/crittal doors for example. But, more than that, as I appreciate that doesn’t suit everyone, you can look at 15 different pink kitchens and see if you fancy it after all. Do you want a pink kitchen with a herringbone terracotta tile floor – see above. Or a pink kitchen with a parquet floor and open shelving – see below.
Or perhaps you’ve just been toying with the idea of pink walls and been unable to commit – see the top pictures – where a dark window frame might a) echo any crittall you have elsewhere in the house or b) add a bit of oomph to a scheme you were worrying might be a little sugary.
Or perhaps you were pondering going down the sustainable, reclaimed route but that can be a narrow path between cleverly individual and junk shop mish mash. Scrolling through some location houses for inspiration can be an invaluable guide. Below, for example, is a combination of old (looking) class cabinets, classic subway tiles and a traditional Shaker cupboards. Throw in a show-stopping light, a classic with a twist floor (quarry tiles in a parquet pattern) and you have created something that is both cool and completely individual.
Or, and this might be a niche problem but I’ve heard of it more than once – the inherited AGA. Too disruptive and expensive to pull out and replace. Tricky to decorate round. Here the checked floor brings a wonderful decorative touc while the cabinets in a modern grey colour counteract the retro style of the oven. Note also – the grey and cream tones that have been livened up with pink accessories – you could, of course, replace with any colour you prefer and change as often as you like for a refresh that won’t break the bank.
Or you might be planning to extend or fill in a side return and thinking of a way to do it that isn’t the classic kitchen extension. I said last week in the Househunter post that it would be great to create a pantry in this space with internal windows above the counter so you could put the washing machine, freezer etc out here and have lovely jars of larder stuff visible through the window. Or, you might want to create a vibrant year-round outdoor/indoor space – a sort of mini orangery – that you would get more pleasure from than a wider kitchen. You see – location houses – a brilliant source of ideas and inspiration.