Guest Home Tour – Strawberry Hill House

I mentioned on Sunday that one of the newest additions to our garden was a strawberry plant from Strawberry Hill House, which we visited when my dad was in town. That reminded me that I never shared any images with you, so thought I’d do so today.

Strawberry Hill House was  built in the 18th century by Horace Walpole in a Georgian Gothic Revival style.  What is particularly interesting about this house is that although it appears to be quite a grand opulent castle, Horace did not have the same sort of wealth that others in this neighbourhood had, and so he had to cut a few corners. Interestingly, a lot of the tricks he played back in the 18th century, ring true today. When one can’t afford real stone tiles for instance, photo-real prints of stone on ceramic tiles often do the trick.

Personally, I’m of the opinion that if you can’t afford a particular expensive material, then don’t fake it – use something else… That said, Horace’s ideas were interesting and ones that some of us undertaking our own renovations might partially relate to.

So here are some of his ‘tricks’:

  1. Start with buying a small wood frame cottage, then render it white and add crenelations around the top so it looks like a stone castle
  2. Add a two storey bay window to add interest to the facade and rooms behind
  3. Salvage small panes of historic painted glass from France that are inexpensive as they aren’t ‘on trend’, and incorporate them into your windows. This will give the house an air of historic authenticity. (Middle left images)
  4. If when you start you can’t afford a grant hall and a dining room, create a multi-purpose space with secret cupboards so furniture can be hidden away.
  5. If you cant afford wide floorboards, pay for a few wide boards in the centre of the room where they are most visible, then use narrower, less expensive boards around the perimeter where they are typically obscured by chairs and tables.
  6. If you cant afford stone fireplace surrounds, have them carved in wood, then paint them stone colour.
  7. If you cant afford a stone carved entrance hall, paint it to look like one using perspective painting techniques. Then when you’ve saved up enough, really go for it in the new extension to make up for it with intricately detailed wood carved panelling (bottom right image)
  8. If when you’ve finally saved up enough to build a proper Grand Hall, make sure you build the shell first. Then, if you’ve gone over budget, you can always save money by making the ceiling decoration out of paper machier and painting it gold! (Top left and top right images)



News from the Garden…

After the results of our bumper tomato crop from last year, Alex proved to me that you can in fact grow tomatoes in the UK.  So, we decided to grow them again this year. Fed with the same Tomorite liquid fertiliser, the 2017 crop is growing well.  I seem to just about be able to grow mint, so that was also a return herb this year. The slight variation this time around is that I am constantly harvesting the long tall branches so it stays nice and bushy (bottom left right image).

New additions to our garden that we are testing out this season include:

  • Radishes (from seed), which we just planted last week and which are already poking their heads up above the soil (bottom image in the grey pot).
  • A succlent plant, which seem very happy in the shade despite the less than desert like conditions we get here in our garden.
  • A strawberry plant (bought as a souvenir from Strawberry Hill House – thanks Dad!). This little plant sent out a tentacle so we positioned another pot next door to ‘catch’ it, and it seems to have successfully taken root (bottom left image).  Not sure whether we can now snip them apart?



Master Bedroom Coming Together

Its not finished yet, but here is a photo of how our master bedroom is slowly coming together. Our bedside tables from Factory Twenty One are in place, I’ve managed to get one piece of art on the walls, (A paint sample sheet from the fun paint shop Colour Makes People Happy that I was given by some friends ages ago and finally got around to framing) and found two cushions to try and pull everything together.

The cushions are hand made and purchased from Etsy, with the one on the right featuring vintage house print fabric from Heals. The house print cushion I bought from Etsy store Retro 68 who make cushions and lampshades from retro fabrics. The green leaf watercoulour print cushion was purchased from Emodi Home.

I also treated ourselves to a ‘hide the wrinkles/ no need to iron’  duvet cover in an ‘origami pattern’ available from Argos if you only need a single or a double size, and John Lewis for all sizes up to super king.


End of Bed Storage Bench

You may remember my post here when I hatched a plan for what sort of storage arrangement I wanted in the master bedroom.  Between summer holidays, weekend getaways and other distractions, I have to confess that haven’t put much time into sorting that out, but have at least at last managed to organise our end of bed storage bench.

I knew exactly what I wanted for the end of bed unit, but often the problem with knowing is that is then you can never quite find what you are looking for.  I basically wanted a bench height drawer unit so it doubles up as a bench and storage (in small spaces I always like hard working multi-function items), that was the width of a double bed – but could I find this? No. I could find drawer units which were about a meter high, and benches, and blanket chests – but nothing that was quite right.

After looking for ages in all my go-to furniture stores and websites (Heals, Habitat, John Lewis, NotOnTheHighStreet, IKEA, Wayfair, HAY, AnotherCountry, and Nest to name but a few) and not finding what I wanted, I decided I would get a joiner to make it for us.

Above is the finished item, along with my initial sketch. I had originally planned on a 6 drawer unit, but I reduced it to 4 drawers to save on cost once I had it quoted, and also because the drawers would have been a bit too small anyway.  Overall I’m really pleased with the result.

I went with ash to match the bedside tables and the bed, and had it white washed in Osmo Oil to give it a Scandinavian look and to prevent it yellowing. I originally purchased the Osmo Polyx Oil Tint in 3040 White but the white colour tint was so subtle that you could barely see the white finish (you’d need loads of coats!). So in the end I opted for the Osmo Interior Wax in 7303 White Transparent to achieve the effect you see here. I wanted the unit to be quite white, so that when we eventually get the floors sanded, it matches tonally, but is whiter so it doesn’t just disappear.



Kvadrat Ready Made Curtains

The fantastic collaboration between fabric manufacturers Kvadrat and product designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec to create a ‘Ready Made Curtain’ system was launched in 2013,  but I only stumbled upon it recently.  (Read more about it here on Dezeen) I was browsing the Kvadrat website for a suitable fabric to re-upholster our bean-bag in (another one of my random side tasks on the ‘not urgent’ list which rolls around in my subconscious), and learnt about the curtains.

Their idea was to create a simple, easy to install system where you don’t need bulky curtain rods, or decide about pinch pleats or finials, or even sew a hem (the idea is you just cut the fabric at each end and hang, although I’m not 100% convinced that it it wouldn’t fray – I suppose that depends on the fabric).  I liked it instantly. (Especially as we’ve had some serious issues with our living room curtain rod which I won’t go into for now). The bottom images are interesting as they show different positioning on the wall – the left infront of a blind, and the right below the cornice.

Their system comes in 3 punchy colour ways. The white, blue and red were in the original range, and now they have released a grey (no surprise there!).

There are already square pattresses fixed to our walls beside the blinds to provide a solid fixing for the original curtain rods, (we forgot to remove them when we had the walls re-plastered, so just left them to tell part of the story of the house rather than have a rough patch).   I think ‘all’ we’d need to do is bulk them out a little bit with a square of MDF so that the cord will clear the Roman blinds and we’d be done. I’ve heard about, but never used the website MDF Cut To Size – so would give them a go!




Roman Blinds & Sheer Curtains Combo

Although the green in our master bedroom is a wonderful rich shade, and I really love the pendant lights, something about the room isn’t quite hanging together properly. I think its not just our hanging roman blinds… but let’s start with that as with any luck once I put some art on the walls and find a rug it will all hang together better.

I mentioned the slight aesthetic issue I have with our new black out Roman Blinds in my post here, and after living with them for a month, I’ve decided that they aren’t exactly looking any better.  They just seem a bit too cold and ‘lack lustre’, especially when they are fully down (when they look like a thick canvas drop cloth tacked up infront of our window – not great!).  So to address that issue, I’ve been investigating your helpful suggestions of adding some decorative curtains to soften the look. (Soft furnishings never were my forte!)

I’ve always quite liked the look of wispy white sheer curtains, so with the helpful aid of Pinterest for a review of a roman blind / sheer curtain combination – I’m convinced.

Now to:

  1. Find the curtains (Im thinking IKEA or John Lewis might have decent ready made panels…)
  2. Calculate the drop (as I wont be opening and closing them on a daily basis, they can pool on the floor as in the far right photo with the chair)
  3. Calculate the panel width (I’m thinking 1-1.5 x the window width for each panel should do it to have a decent gather given the fabric is so thin, remembering my friend’s guidelines here) and
  4. Figure out the rod



Master bedroom Green Walls & Pendant Lighting

A month ago I wrote a post about our master bedroom green paint options here.  You may also remember this post about when I ordered the master bedroom bedside lights from, (I am slightly embarrassed to admit), back in February.

Well, we took a break from summer weekend breaks and relaxing in our garden to give the room refurb a bit of a push forward a few weeks ago. I had family in town staying with us in mid June, so was keen to get the room looking habitable!

After much debate, the green we went with was Dulux’s Woodland Fern 1. Overall I’m really happy with the richness and tone of the colour in the room, and it certainly makes our new pendant lights visually pop. (Le Klint Carronade pendant on the left, Le Klint Small sized 105 Pendant light on the right)