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.