Sunday, 22 December 2013

Happy Holidays

So it's been a while.

In the last few weeks, I have spent a fortnight in South East Asia, spent several hours in A&E with a chest infection, and spent not so much time working on the flat.

In other words, not much has changed around here aesthetically.

The chandeliers are STILL on the floor, but not for long as we are preparing for a new addition, in the form of a kitten. Kitten + delicate chandeliers balancing on the floor = disaster.

The only significant change in the flat has been the addition of bookshelves, which enabled us to finally unpack the last of the boxes (which were filled with books).

So this wall:

Now looks like this:

The photo in the frame is just something I tore out of Elle Decoration as a place holder, as I got sick of looking at the Ikea Ribba label. It works...for now.

The dining table and chairs are working out perfectly. It's so nice to be able to sit down to eat properly! We are still waiting for the black wool seat pads, but for the time being we are using bright red ones which are just a little too bright for me.

My main priorities are now finding shades for the pendant lights (in place of the chandeliers), making a final decision on a rug, and of course, buying a coffee table.

I probably will not have any more updates until the new year, but by then I expect to be fully recovered and back on track.

Until then, happy holidays to you all!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

The Best Laid Plans

It's been a rough week.

We were told by our electrician, that due to the construction of the ceiling, hanging the "terrible twosome" would be more complicated (and expensive) than anticipated.

We're now waiting to hear from the Barratt electricians, who initially said that hanging these lights wouldn't be a problem, and every single digit of mine is crossed. In the worst case scenario, should these chandeliers prove to be as problematic to hang as indicated, we will just have to dismantle and store them until we are in a better position to get the job done.

I was not happy. However, watching the footage of the devastation in the Philippines certainly put it into perspective and made me realise that though disappointing, this can firmly be filed under "first world problems".

As the chandelier saga unfolded, there was more drama brewing in the form of our dining room chairs. They were already about a week late when we were informed that the delivery would be "curb side". As in, they don't bring them into the flat. As in, someone needed to be there to receive them (full time job, shmull time job).

To make a long story short, after arranging for someone to be here, ONE chair was delivered. The company (which shall remain nameless) for some strange reason split the order, and one delivery truck got lost and drove back to the depot - with the other three chairs!

Cue very angry telephone conversations in which they finally agreed to redeliver on the same day, despite it being "not something they usually do", and we received the remaining chairs late that evening.

We had also ordered black wool seat pads, but won't receive them until the new year when they are back in stock. 

In other news, there is this one wall without windows in our living area, that I have been giving the side eye to ever since we moved in. I keep thinking that if I paint it a very dark hue it will visually recede - and bizarre as this may sound I HAVE been missing our old black wall.


This wall runs straight into the kitchen, and I was thinking of painting the entire thing (under the ledge).

The boxes contain books, as this is also the wall where our bookshelves will go, like so or similar -

I've also begun to tire of having no where to rest my feet/glass/stuff and so have been giving more thought to a much needed coffee table. I mocked up the moodboard below to show the direction in which I intend to go.

1. "Railings" - Farrow & Ball   2. Glass Coffee Table - Habitat   3. Alsed Footstools - Ikea   4. Persian Rug - Woven Ground

Though I'm loving this merging of aesthetics (contemporary, traditional, and modern) on paper (screen?), we all know that looks can be deceiving. I plan to visit the Woven Ground showroom to see the colouring of this rug in person before making any final decisions, so there will probably be more on these plans later.

Here's to this upcoming week being better than the last!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Striking A Balance

Because of the modern feel of our flat, and having decided long ago on Bertoia side chairs for the dining area, I knew I needed a dining table that would provide balance and prevent a cold and uninviting feeling. I needed something that would warm up the room and create a nice juxtaposition of old and new.

The more I thought about it, the more I leaned towards a rustic farmhouse style table, like in the images below, preferably with turned legs to mimic the curve of the ceiling and soften the clean lines of the space.

via One Hour

via Abode Love

photo source unknown

photo source unknown

I soon realised that finding a dining room table in London is not a task for the fainthearted. It seemed all the options fell into 3 main categories : affordable/bad quality, expensive/bad quality, extortionate/good quality. An added concern was the issue of space. As in, we don't have much.

So when an acquaintance referred us to the small family run company where he purchased a custom farmhouse table, my initial thought was that we would have to take out another mortgage to be able to afford one.

I was wrong.

Perusing the website, the tables at the Birmingham based Nina's Country Kitchen, appeared to be exceptional value for money. Even more important, they were custom made, allowing me to purchase one built to my own spec.

Based on the dimensions of the Bertoia chairs, and of a standard dining room table I came up with the detail drawing below. I was very conscious of the height of the table apron, and tried to ensure that there was enough clearance for knees/thighs, which which can be a common concern when pairing modern chairs with farmhouse tables.

After a brief correspondence over the email, I sent Nina the drawing, explaining that I wanted the standard turned legs (although the legs in my drawing were slightly fancier). Less than 6 weeks later (yesterday morning), this solid oak beauty turned up.

The holes in the side are for an extension that allows us to seat 2 or 3 more people, and in the background, the infamous chandeliers are still sitting on the floor, mocking me more and more with each passing day. For those of you who have witnessed my facebook ranting, I have dubbed them the terrible twosome.

Once we take delivery of the chairs (Tuesday) and install the terrible twosome, our dining area should look a little something like this...

...and we can finally have meals again without an all consuming fear of spilling food on the beige sofa.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Home Sweet Home

I was prepared to be in mourning upon moving to our new build flat. Because I’m a sucker for a period flat, I sincerely thought that giving up our large sash windows and original wood floors would leave me with a feeling of loss. The view of the BT Tower and pretty church square mere yards away too, made the thought of moving bittersweet.

Silly me.

Turns out, double glazing, underfloor heating, and having actual storage was enough to make me question where my loyalties lie. Taking a shower in a bathroom that doesn’t feel like the north pole is certainly underrated.

So now that we are settling in, I thought I would share what the space is like now, although there is still so much to be done.

In the corner are the shelves and curtain rods that both need installing.

Below is a pulled out shot for context. Warning, it's a mess.

The dining room table will go behind the sofa, where the chandeliers have be balancing perilously for the last 2 weeks. The electrician did try to hang them, but unfortunately his ladder wasn’t a tall enough. The boxes are full of books, which will go on shelves once they are secured to the wall.

Here is the kitchen on other side of the room.

The novelty of having a full-sized fridge (my first in about 7 years!) has not yet worn off, even though we are having some trouble actually filling it.

Just to the right is a laundry/storage cupboard. Yay for no longer feeling like we're under a plane when the laundry is spinning!

Just off the entry hall is a small water closet. It’s size makes it a challenge to photograph.

Upstairs, the bedroom is the very definition of bland at the moment, but here is what I have planned for the space. The wardrobe to the side will be curtained off eventually.

Just off the bedroom, the ensuite is probably the only space that I don’t intend to make many changes to. I will probably hang a few photos in here and keep it simple.

So as you can see, it's still a bit of a mess. The priority at the moment is to get the shelves and curtains up. A coffee table wouldn't hurt either.

One day at a time.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

The Bedroom

The last thing I should be doing today is writing a blog post, what with my ever expanding to-do list and ever dwindling living space.

As the boxes pile up, threatening my view of the TV from the sofa, there are a multitude of tasks I should be seeing to, like clearing out the cupboard under the sink perhaps. However I'm not quite brave enough to face the black hole that exists beyond the mountain of plastic shopping bags, so instead I procrastinate, and as a result, I have finally made some proper plans for the new bedroom.

I had been coveting the beds on for months, so finally we popped into their Chelsea showroom a few weeks ago...and when I say "popped in", what I really mean is took a 30 minute tube journey, walked 15 minutes from the station, and then climbed 3 flights of stairs up to the showroom. They couldn't have been more accommodating though, offering us every drink under the sun and being just lovely in general. About an hour later, we were the proud owners of the fabulous bed below.

Valentin with storage

I ordered the bed in an off-white coloured linen because I knew I wanted it to be the focal point on very dark grey/green walls. I also knew I wanted to use Waverley Olana Bayleaf fabric for pillows, and brass swing arm lamps, so finally, I put it all together for a visual:

There are only two teeny issues with this scenario:

1. I really like the look of Knoxville Grey for the walls, but finding Benjamin Moore paint in the UK is nigh on impossible. Quite frankly, the odds of Russell Brand asking me to marry him are greater, so I will have to either colour match or finding a similar hue by another brand.

2. The bedside table shown is from West Elm which is due to open it's first UK store here in London, but not until November. These bedside tables are my everything. Not only do I adore them, but they're also the perfect size and colouring for space, so it looks like we won't have bedside tables for a while.

So there you have it, the grand plans.

At some some point I would also like to add some sort of architectural detailing to make a feature of the main wall, but for right now it's baby steps.

I suppose I better get back to dehoarding and packing now....

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Let There be Light

In the often elitist industry that is interior design, "replica" can be a real dirty word. In fact, even shelter magazine Elle Decoration recently waged a war on fakes, led by editor-in-chief Michelle Ogundehin and Sir Terrance Conran. Though Michelle is a personal inspiration to me, I must respectfully disagree with her on this issue.

As an interior designer who fell in love with the mid-century design classics whilst studying for my degree, I will unashamedly use replica pieces until my budget allows otherwise. After all, many of theses famous pieces - the molded Eames chair for example (below), were meant to be mass produced, affordable furniture.

Eames Molded Plastic Armchair by Herman Miller

Perhaps I should back up just for a second. You may remember in this post, in which I talked about finding the perfect pendants for our new flat. I really liked the basket pendants, but couldn't commit for some reason and always had my eye open for something even better. Then, I saw this...

...and I knew it was the one.

I found the Gino Sarfatti fixture on replica site Milan Direct, and instantly began picturing it in the space (with the help of the internet of course).

via Modern Design
via Jeff Lewis
via Zsa Zsa Bellagio

I was sold on it immediately.

I twiddled my thumbs for weeks, and on a whim checked the website the other day, quite frankly, just because. It paid off.

The chandeliers were on sale, so bagsied two of them without a second thought (saving £100 in the process). Result.

Buying online can be risky, so I was quite nervous when they arrived, partially assembled, this week. After unwrapping, I was surprised at just how heavy each component was. They seem to be built to a very good standard, though I will reserve full judgement until they are installed. I've also added them to my CAD model and I love the drama they bring to the space.

Do I hope that one day I can afford the real Sarfatti chandeliers? Of course. But until then I will enjoy my replicas unabashedly.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

The Plans

It seems like just last week I was in the park, basking in the sunshine. In fact, it WAS just last week I was in the park, basking in the sunshine. Now it feels like suddenly autumn has been thrust upon us, without even so much of a grieving period for the long, warm evenings that are no more.

Ordinarily this transition is the cue to for my usual "I hate winter/winter is stupid and serves no purpose" chat, but things are different this year.  This year, as the seasons change, we're preparing to move to our brand new flat.

Gone is my praise singing for period flats with their tall ceilings, sash windows, and charm (although not quite). These days I'm looking forward to double glazing and underfloor heating, and hoping that they will make winter easier on me. I'm looking forward to my first full sized fridge in 7 years, and more adequate storage than "behind the sofa".

I realised that I had not yet shared much about the space that we expect to call home so soon, so with that said, these are the floor plans!

As you can see, the ground floor is quite narrow, which at first posed a small issue when choosing a sofa, but we have since decided to replace the door into to the lounge with a bi-fold style like this or this, to free up some space. We are keeping our Eames rocking chair, and we definitely want a hide rug, so these are shown on the plan.

In the mean time I have been preoccupying my time by looking at similar duplex flats online.

apartment St Pancras Penthouse London Bursting With Personality: Charming St. Pancras Penthouse in London
via Freshome

via Avant Garde Gothic

via Modern House
Loft living
via Pinterest

These are all much larger than our flat, but hey a girl can dream.
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