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)



Guest Home Tour – Stu & Tamsin in Hampshire


Last weekend Alex and I took a trip to the ‘countryside’ to visit our friends Stu and Tamsin who moved out of London around the same time that we moved into Door Eleven.

They now live in a delightful stone worker’s cottage set in a series of sweet garden spaces with their adorable 1 year old daughter. The cottage sits beside an embankment, on a raised plot of land above the road which gives their garden lots of different levels, and consequently different ‘feels’.  Their bedrooms upstairs have long distant views of the rolling hills and fields, while there are intimate up close views of pretty rocks and greenery to look at directly outside of their kitchen.  Their property also has garage with a fully fit out ‘granny annex’ on the first floor where Stu runs his architecture practice Architecture Stuart Hatcher.

Like us, they are undertaking a phased refurbishment approach to their home. They have started with painting and refreshing the 3 upstairs bedrooms, installing an air source heat pump and new radiators throughout to heat their home, and building lots of great built in joinery and shelves (I enjoy the back lit clock!).

Its all looking great you two… thanks again for a lovely weekend.


Guest Home Tour – Claire & Sam in Manchester

Last weekend we went up to Manchester to visit our good friends Claire and Sam. Claire is an architect who I used to work with in London, and her partner Sam is in IT so, like Alex, enjoys a good home gadget.  (Much heated debate about the merits of a Nest vs Tado thermostat system ensued…)

Like us, Claire & Sam have been slowly renovating the rooms in their home over the past year, and it has been great to exchange tips and give each other the odd design crit throughout the process.  They recently undertook a more extensive refurbishment of their kitchen, utility area, and bathroom.  Their new home looks entirely fantastic – even though there is still a little bit of painting to be completed. ;o)

Neat lines of recessed LED lighting strips illuminate their kitchen area and speakers are carefully integrated into the soffit area above the island with its crisp white Silestone top. To add warmth and texture to all this bright whiteness,  beautiful birch ply cabinet doors and open shelving have been installed here and in their walk in utility/ pantry area. Their bathroom features a concealed slot drain corian sink and back painted glass wall panelling throughout which looks clean and fresh and bounces light around. The hexagon tiles in their kitchen extend into the entrance hallway linking the spaces and visually expanding the space.   Their renovation also included a pair of fully glazed doors into their garden, and an enormous picture window between their kitchen countertops which aligns with their front entrance door so that you can catch glimpses of their garden from the moment you enter the house.

Congratulations you two!


Guest Home Tour – Anne Sophie in Paris

A few weekends ago you will remember that Alex and I went to Paris to visit my good friend Anne Sophie and her husband. Anne-Sophie was kind enough to let us stay in her beautiful apartment right in the heart of town (with its view of the Eiffel Tower) and I couldn’t help snap a few photos.

When she bought the apartment it had a low ceiling, but she managed to buy the roof space above from the freehold and raise the ceiling right up to the rafters to create an airy, light filled space.  The space is compact, but she’s made it feel bigger by installing full height sliding mirror doors in her bedroom, having sliding pocket doors on the bathroom and bedroom, and by creating a clever internal window in her bedroom which allows you to see through it and catch glimpses of the terrace beyond from her entrance area.

She has also gained another room in the summer months as she has made her terrace such a lovely place to be.  She has cleverly put varying height planters at the ends of her terrace to add greenery at different levels with different shape leaves while still leaving space for a small table and chairs in the centre. A timber trellis allows grape vines to grow up it, creating shade and more privacy at the bedroom end of her balcony.

Merci beaucoup pour nous avoir permis de rester dans votre belle maison Anne Sophie!


Guest Garden Tour – Pizza di Gallo

2 weeks ago Alex and I went to Italy for a friend’s wedding and stayed in a delightful little B&B called Pizza di Gallo. The B&B is situated an hour and a half outside of Milan and is surrounded by vineyards in an idyllic little spot overlooking the valleys and Ovada below.

I couldn’t resist snapping a few photos of their beautiful window boxes, and vine covered walls, so thought I’d share them here with you.


Guest Home Tour – Margate Air BNB

I know its been a little while since my last post, but for the past two weekends Alex and I have been away (at a wedding and at the seaside enjoying the sunshine) so there hasn’t been much to report on house refurbishment wise.

I thought I’d get back to my posting however with a few photos from the Air BNB flat that we stayed in last weekend when we went to Margate and Broadstairs.  I really liked how the owner hung lights throughout his flat – rather than just leave them hanging directly below the ceiling rose in the middle of the room, he installed long coloured cables that allowed the lights to be positioned in just the right spot beside the bed or at the end of the the sofa.

I’ve also included a few photos from our walk along the coast from Margate to Broadstairs… just to remind myself in later winter months that you do in fact get a little bit of summer time in the UK!


Guest Home Tour – Heather’s Chicago Apartment

As there hasn’t been too much progress on the guest room, I thought that I would share with you a few photos from my good friend Heather’s fabulous Chicago home. I stayed with Heather for a few relaxing days last weekend when I was in town enjoying good food and good company.

Heather works at the Art Institute of Chicago and also has an Etsy Store called Twigs Twine and Thyme where she sells the beautiful wreaths she makes in her home studio.  Everywhere I turned in her apartment, a perfectly set out composition of driftwood, furniture, art and plants was just waiting to be photographed. Each room is painted a different colour, but all the spaces still flow together perfectly through use of a similarly toned colour palette and a theme of nature and plants throughout.

It was great to catch up after 6 years and exchange home decor and organisation ideas… watch this space for a few which I intend to import to London shores.