Lounge Living

One of the rooms that I get asked about most often and which always scores well in the “like”department on Instagram, is my lounge.

Never a picture without a pug in it

We are fortunate to have a very large lounge that runs from the front to the back of the house. We have a bay window to the front

With French doors to the rear garden,

More pugs …….

We also have 4 of these small “slit” style window front and back which as well as being a lovely throwback to the age of the house, also demonstrates the depth of the outer stone walls- reinforcing how houses used to be built.

When we viewed the house the lounge certainly wasn’t a feature in the property.

Photos courtesy of rightmove

With dull grey walls that didn’t work at all, a 60s style tiled fireplace with a thick woolly dark grey carpet and a mish mash of furniture it certainly did nothing to bring out the features of the room.

Photo courtesy of rightmove

We set about revamping the room, looking for it to be warm and inviting. As a room used predominately at night I was less concerned about capturing the daylight , however since the room has been renovated I find myself popping in for a quiet coffee whilst watching the garden outside the French windows and enjoying the trees to the front.

We decided early on that whilst we would retain the Georgian style fireplace, the backboard and hearth would be revamped. We were keen to keep an open fire in the room but this proved problematic when we discovered that we lived in “smoke free” zone so instead we opted to install a wood burning stove (actually its multi fuel, but we only ever burn wood). I will do a blog post to follow on how we chose our stove and benefits and drawbacks of ownership (yes despite their huge appeal they do have drawbacks).

My next must have was wall panelling to the wall behind the fireplace, there were 2 reasons for this choice. One was I just love wall panelling (simples) and the second was that the TV would be sited above the fireplace and I wanted it to sink into the wall and be as unobtrusive as possible, by
building a false wall I could bring the panelling out to meet the edge of the tv and thus reduce the depth of the fireplace ledge allowing the fireplace to blend better with the panelled wall.

That sorted it was down to colour, I wanted a neutral colour that wouldn’t jar with the dining room which the lounge flows from, I love grey but the previous owners had used a grey on the wall behind the fireplace which didn’t work at all, it was cold and flat and made the room even more
depressing. However I know from experience that I’m safe with Farrow & Ball and chose a warmer blue/grey tone- “Mole’s Breath” to use on the panelling and the fireplace.

As it’s a very large lounge I wanted to provide some texture and warmth and opted for a wallpaper for the the other 3 walls. The paper I chose was a perfect blend for Mole’s Breath but has an almost raised tweed effect texture to it that added some warmth to the room.

Albany Linen Plain wallpaper from http://www.wallpaperdirect.co.uk

For the ceiling and woodwork I decided to keep things tonal and cosy and opt for a coloured finish. I chose Farrow & Ball “Purbeck Stone” to do all of the woodwork, cornicing and ceiling. This is a light stone coloured paint that gives warmth but doesn’t detract the eye in the way that a solid bright white would.

Farrow & Ball Purbeck Stone woodwork

The next issue we had in the room was the carpet, which was a thick dark charcoal grey. It may have kept the room cosy but did nothing for the aesthetics in the room and it had to go. Peeling it back revealed almost intact pine (I had been hoping for oak) original floorboards which we promptly set about restoring, finished off with a grey/white wood stain mix to work with the chosen tones in the room. It has ended up being a lovely feature in the room.

Original floors being stripped
Choosing a coloured stain
The finished floor done in a mix of grey and white stain

Next on the list was the radiators, for such a large room the bog standard white radiators just weren’t up to the job. We decided to replace them with original style column radiators however this was a less than easy task, given the size we needed, the output required and then agreeing a colour. We finally found what we were looking for at http://www.onlyradiators.co.uk , where we opted for beautiful column radiators in a raw metal finish. The finish has a nice metallic look to it, almost industrial feeling and we are really happy with them. One word of advice though, when choosing radiators remember to factor in the cost of the valves and for column style you probably also want feet for additional stability. These must have items can add an extra few hundred pounds to your overall radiator bill so tread carefully.

Raw metal column radiator

Next up was a change of light switch and plug sockets. We inherited the standard white plastic that everyone tends to have and I wanted to replace these with something a bit more stylish. I chose to add covers that toned with the overall colour scheme and the new radiators. We went for fittings from http://www.dowsingandreynolds.com

Smoked gold light switch with black dimmer knobs

Next it was time to think abut furniture. This was a big (and costly) undertaking for us , having spent so much time getting the basics of the room right we really needed to make sure that we didn’t spoil all the hard work with the wrong furniture choices. My next blog post coming soon will explore how we selected furniture for the room and decided on the placement and accessories.

I hope this little insight into how we created the bones of our room helps you when you are thinking about starting a room from scratch and I hope you will pop back to find out how we set about choosing furniture.

Why I use Farrow and Ball Paints

Farrow and Ball paint (hereafter referred to as F&B) is a hotly debated topic among interior enthusiasts. Do you or don’t you colour match is up there with the do you dye your hair/do you eat carbs/do you eat organic debate Lol.

Its certainly one to ponder when you come to decorate as opinion is so divided that it can be difficult to know what to do and which camp to set your tent (Down Pipe coloured of course) up in.

No other paint manufacturer could hope to have paint colours so famous that you can literally just refer to them by name- “yeah its Down Pipe” and we know what paint it is.

Image courtesy of Farrow & Ball

The big debate centres on cost and the do you/don’t you colour match question. Indeed I recently read a whole article centred on the use of F&B colours in a house- it then transpired that no actual F&B paint had been used at all- it was all a colour match!

Despite all the strong arguments against F&B (poor coverage, expensive, painters hate it etc) I remain a firm lover of all paints F&B. Sure I’ve tried colour matching – I’ve bought the cheaper brand then spent time worrying that it wouldn’t look exactly like FB- and I was right it didn’t and I ended up
painting the proper F&B colour I had wanted in the first place- so yes F&B is expensive if you go down the route that I did Lol.

I hate to say this especially if you are having the argument with yourself right now – but you really can tell the difference between a colour matched paint and a true F&B paint.

Image courtesy of http://www.freshcoatofpaint.ca

To truly understand why its impossible to totally replicate an F&B paint its important to understand why F&B is different and why you are paying so much more money for your paint.

Paint is basically made up of chalk, china clay and titanium dioxide with water. Pigments are then added to achieve a depth of colour. In the case of F&B paint these pigments are very rich allowing them to achieve a real depth of deep colour. This richness of pigment and quality of ingredients is why it reacts so strongly to light through the day, really bringing your walls to life. F&B has a depth of colour that just cant be achieved with a cheaper less pigmented paint, meaning that your walls just cant achieve the true F&B colour-it can achieve the basic colour but not the life and depth that those rich pigments bring and that is what makes the paint colour unique.

F&B Mole’s breath dead flat emulsion in my lounge

In order to really get it you need to try it. Take my challenge, paint one room of your house in F&B and tell me that you don’t love it every time you walk in. My dining room is painted in Cornforth White and the depth of colour, the images that it conjures, the light that plays on the walls with this paint are just incredible.

F&B Cornforth White in mid afternoon-my dining room

Then take a look at my lounge. The Mole’s Breath on the walls is light during the day with a very obvious mid grey tint but as we settle in the
evening it takes on a darker tone making the lounge feel cosy and warm, almost giving a cocoon effect. The previous grey colour on the same wall was drab and lifeless. both were grey but a million miles away in terms of colour richness. F&B paint has a lovely chalky finish that just feels timeless and elegant. In fact it feels expensive and gives a real high end look to your room from the get go. So – despite all strong arguments to the contrary – I remain a F&Baholic.

F&B Mole’s Breath in day light in my lounge
Mole’s Breath in my lounge in the evening under artificial light

I can’t do a post on F&B colours without mentioning the names. The names that all true interior obsessives know as keenly as they know their own kids names. But you would be mistaken if you thought that the names were just plucked out of the air in a bid to be controversial. Take a proper look at any F&B colour card and you will see that there is a real meaning behind every colour name.

My image taken from a F&B colour card

So for instance, Plummett although noted as a strong grey, gets its name from the lead used by fishermen to weight their lines, French Gray despite the name has more of a green tinge than grey and is so named after the colours of 19th century wallpapers used in France. The next time you pick up an F&B colour chart try taking a look the descriptors on the back of the card, it’s a fascinating read and really helps to bring the paint to life.

F&B colour chart

For me staying loyal to F&B means I truly get the colour I’ve spent weeks fretting over, I get walls that feel alive and evoke an atmosphere, sophistication in my lounge and rustic french country in my dining room.

F&B Cornforth White on my dining room fireplace and hearth

One last word of caution though when using F&B paints, don’t always trust what it says on the tin, Cornforth White isn’t really white and French Gray isn’t really grey- unless of course you catch it at a certain time of day in a certain light and then for a split second it feels white (or grey) give it some time however and another colour all together emerges, and for me that is the beauty of F&B paint in a nutshell (or an iconic brown tin).

Farrow and Ball paint is a hotly debated topic among interior enthusiasts. Do you or don't you colour match is up there with the do you dye your hair/do you eat carbs/do you eat organic debate Lol

Its definently one to ponder when you come to decorate as opinion is so divided that it can be difficult to know what to do and which camp to set your tent (downpipe coloured of course) in.  

Why you should sweat the small stuff

By small stuff I mean your interior accessories of course…..

Accessories can make or break a room, think of them like the jewellery you add to your outfit. They need to work with your colours and style and can add that accent and texture that just lifts your scheme from finished to fabulous.

Most of the questions I get asked about interiors relate to those finishing touches. People spend a lot of money on the main components of the room such as the furniture and wallpapers etc but neglect to follow this right through to the end with accessories and styling. This can leave your room feeling a bit bland and un-lived in, whilst for me this is the best part of designing a space , I find for most people its the bit they struggle most with.

So just how do you go about styling your space? There are actually a few elements that apply to every room that you should consider.

Greenery– This is a very cost effective way to practice styling your new (or old) interior space. Plants and greenery work with all interior styles and can help to blur the line between your indoor and outdoor space. You can let your creativity really go with beautiful pots and planters which are a huge trend right now.

Image courtesy of Bagel&Griff

Groups– This can be a powerful way to display accessories to give a sense of scale and impact. The general interior design rule is to group similar items such as vases, bottles or bowls together in three’s. You will see by experimenting with this concept that together they produce a strong design element more so than standing alone. This can be a cost effective trick if you group candles or plants together and use differing heights to really draw the eye.

Image courtesy of Bagel&Griff

Scale- This brings us neatly to the question of scale. This is where I think you can throw out the rule book that says don’t use large pieces in a small space or small sizes in a large space. If you consider things like art work or a mirror, an oversized piece can really have impact in a smaller room. I would suggest if you are investing in a real standout accessory then choose art or a mirror and go large. Place it in a key position within the room for maximum impact. you would be surprised how this trick can detract the eye from any elements within the room that you would rather not see.

Patterns and Prints– The use of pattern creates interest and can break up colour blocks whilst still maintaining the scheme of the room. There are several ways to add pattern which can be very subtle if you want to keep your room clean and uncluttered. You can invest in a patterned rug or some cushions or throws. This allows you to use a pattern, but change it up quickly if you get bored or want to make seasonal changes.

The hardest rule of all of course is the most obvious- and that is less is more. Don’t pile on the accessories, they are there to accentuate the room not drown it. If you are using strong colours or patterns you will find they really pack the punch you are after if used sparingly. Try not to overwhelm the senses with too much at once. Remember you are making a statement and it should be subtle and add to the overall feel and ambience of the room.

I hope you found this post useful in helping to style your room. Please leave me any thoughts or comments, do you have any styling secrets that you would like to share?

The Art of Styling your Bar Cart


One of the biggest trends of the moment is the bar cart.

Bar carts are big interior news (otherwise known as a drinks trolley). Have a look at Instagram and most homes seem to have them- styled to perfection and sitting expectantly in a corner awaiting the party. The bar cart says your sociable, your fun and above all your stylish. So what’s the deal with the bar cart- how do you join this particular party?

Where you place your bar cart is purely a personal choice (or it may be a physical choice based on the space you have). It may be a nice addition to your lounge- maybe tucked into a corner or pride of place along a wall where once you may have placed a console table or a sideboard.

Another good spot is the dining room (this is where we placed ours) this allows you to mix pre dinner drinks- keep guests topped up during dinner and provide the vital post dinner drink. Your kitchen is another great spot for a bar cart, this may also be your dining space and lounge so is the ideal spot to display your fun stylish side.

All of this aside really there are no rules, you can place your bar cart where you wish- if you have wheels you can move it as you please to follow the party.


Why did I choose the dining room? Good question, our dining room is just off the lounge (and across the hall from the kitchen) so is ideally placed to support a tipple either as I cook or when I’m lounging (excuse the pun). We had also just decorated the dining room and I was looking for a piece to occupy the window recess (sometimes furniture placement really is that simple Lol). I originally planned the cart to sit in the lounge but on reflection I’m glad we didn’t- the lounge would have been too crowded and given we already have some hero pieces in the lounge I think it would have
gotten lost- the dining room is open to the hall (in as much as I removed the door Lol) so you get to admire the cart from many places, just as it should be

How to choose your cart
I was looking for something that had a vintage feel (inc being actual vintage) preferably with mirrored bases to give off a wee hint of glamour and I was keen to have wheels- I’m never moving it but I wanted to give the impression it would follow the party. My thinking was 1920s Gatsby
glamour, and really sometimes just having a theme like that in your head really can help you to narrow down your choices.


How to style your bar cart
For me it was about what did I have to put onto it- I had a nice champagne (Laurent Perrier Rose) so that went on, a bottle of Haig Whisky (ok I bought it because I like the bottle), a tall bottle of Grey Goose Vodka (the man of the house’s tipple), a bottle of Jack Daniels (who doesn’t have a bottle of this tucked away somewhere) and finished off with a bottle of Bombay Sapphire Gin (mothers ruin).

The rest of the top shelf I’ve populated with cute miniature bottles and some vintage miniature crystal glasses that I’ve collected over the years (no idea why I just like them).

Don’t forget the long forgotten crystal decanter Lol, a much loved 70s accessory holding hard liquor and poured in times of crisis. The decanter is making a comeback and quite rightly so- not only does it make your bar cart look seriously grown up (come on you can handle hard liquor!!) but it adds a bit of glamour and style to your set up.Whilst we are on the subject of the decanter, remember that these beautiful jars can be used for a myriad of other uses, housing bath salts, bubble bath (check out India Hicks book – A slice of England
for how she used her decanters- lovely)

Another lovely addition to your bar cart is a sign or a light- or a lit sign Lol. There a wide variety of signs that would work here- even just a piece of slate with Bar chalked on it or a lovely neon light hanging above- you could go all out decadent glamour and hang a swanky chandelier above your bar cart – how fabulous.

My bottom shelf is for glasses and I have simple crystal wine glasses alongside Laurent Perrier champagne glasses and a Laurent Perrier wine cooler. However the choice is entirely yours and will be dependent on the size of cart that you have- mine has 2 shelves but yours may be bigger. You may also want space for a cocktail kit or basket of fruit etc.

Of course you don’t need to go buy a bar cart to get the bar cart look, alternatives to the cart that I’m a fool for are:
Sideboard, you may already have this piece of furniture so could easily add your bottles and glasses along the top or maybe add a gorgeous mirrored tray to house your spirits etc., the storage cupboards below are ideal for storing your glasses out of sight

Side table, there are loads of lovely little side tables that could double up as a cute bar cart- think mirrored bases or glass, maybe some chrome or brass to add a touch of luxe

Bath, didn’t think of that eh! I got this tip from my hero Athena Calderone (www.eyeswoon.com)- if you’ve not seen her go check out her website and insta page- she is super stylish and if she says it’s cool then take her word for it- it’s cool. Of course the bath filled with ice cubes and dotted with champagne bottles isn’t going to be a permanent feature- but for a party it’s a bit of fun- one word of caution though, make sure you have alternative powder room facilities for guests (do ya hear what I’m saying) and you do really need a stand out bath- freestanding works best and if it’s in the middle of your room all the better- also be sure to style the room if it’s becoming a make shift bar- no bottles of Matey bubble bath, rubber ducks or packs of toothpaste on show- are we clear Lol

Entertainment sink, now this really is the last word in sophistication- the little known entertainment sink, in the UK this tends to be a long slender sink generally housed in a swanky kitchen island- filled with ice and with the obligatory champagne bottles inserted – in the USA they tend to go all out on a wet bar look which is generally a small cupboard unit with a sink some shelving for the drinks and a fridge.

Shelving, if you have shelving either wall or freestanding you can add some bar cart inspo to that. Similar to styling your sideboard you can house your favourite tipples and glasses ready for use anytime. The shelves can be styled with pretty cocktail making books to add a wee eclectic touch to
your shelving.

When is a bar cart …… not a bar cart? when you style your way and use it as an excuse for a party.