Archive for the Dress-ups Category

Deck the halls with indecision

Posted in digressions, Dress-ups, Georgian houses, hallway, Inspiration, Renovation with tags , , , , on November 23, 2012 by pimpmybricks

Hola mis bellezas, mis peanut sellers and usherettes,

Firstly, a slight digression if I may (if indeed it’s possible to digress from what you haven’t yet begun).  A visit to my stats page recently revealed that someone arrived at this blog via, of all things in this vast and crazy universe, a search for “in my country we smoke lion fur”.  Not once, I hasten to add, but twice.  The mind fair boggles, so it does.  And to compound the mystery further, I could not see how that got them here because when I also typed the same thing into google it didn’t lead me home.  In fact it didn’t lead me anywhere in particular.  Which actually was a shame, because stress is currently so great on the house (and several other) fronts that I was hoping to find a bit of a ‘how to’ on smoking lion fur.  Maybe even a u tube video or two – you know, a sort of wildlife Mrs Beeton.  “Firstly,  trim the manes of two dozen lions…”   But maybe it’s not quite as strange as it first appears because we did, after all, as undergraduates, used to hang our old banana skins over radiators in the vain hope that they might produce datura-esque effects.  Alas, all it ever did was add to the squalor.  And what can I say in our defence?  – nothing, other than that we were all lost to Mr Ginsberg at the time.  Khaddish and all that.  I even used to wear an old 50s leather jacket which moaned and split every time I moved.

So anyway.  Let us begin. Recently we had a demand from the builder for all of the ceiling colours.  All of them! A bit of a surprise, I can tell you, because some rooms don’t even have ceilings.   But I hopped to it and by the skin of my teeth (and a leaking paint pot which erupted all over my hands as I was transporting it to the house) I made the delivery on time.  Cue scenes of builder and painters at the front door tapping their waiting toes, consulting their time pieces – you get the gist, minus a bit of hyperbole if you’re feeling pedantic.   All of which has served as a warning that wall colours might also be demanded with menaces at any unpredictable time and that I must, to put it bluntly, shift my arse accordingly.

Now I love colour.  Love it with a pash.  But my usual MO when choosing it is to take forever, pottering and pondering, doing little pigment mixings, taking note of how the light falls on it,  thinking for a month or two, having a crisis or three, and then finally deciding.  It ain’t gonna happen like that in this house.  We’ve paid for the house to be painted, and painted it will damned well be. But oh!  I deflate like an elderly balloon at the prospect of having to specify all that colour!  And all at once!  Because in so doing we’re back to that great imponderable – what ‘mood’ does the RW want to be captured in?  A rather plain and sober mood that shows off its beautiful classical proportions?  Something a little more Rococo and playful?   Something feminine?  Masculine? Eclectic?  Contemporary? Moody and dark?  Light and airy?  Egads, Sirrah, you do tax me most unfair.

A friend and I were talking recently and one thing we felt was that the house would not look good dressed all in unadorned white.  Not unless we had a vast collection of vast artworks, which, alas, we do not.  Without the vast artwork, we felt, it would be a little boring. Like someone left standing in their petticoats, awaiting the maid to dress them. So colour it must be!  But what?  And where? And how?  My friend suggested I gather together a palette of colours that I like, which all harmonise well. She is right, of course.  I know she is absolutely right, but I am dragging my little hooves to the task like that proverbial horse…  Instead I find myself concentrating on individual areas, hoping they will somehow all end up speaking to one another. Willy nilly and without any help from me. Never ask me to match-make your aunty, or do the seating arrangements for dinner parties. (Did you know, bee tee dubs, that some people do colour boards for their seasonal entertaining? I discovered this quite by chance recently and was aghast but unrepentant about my own failings).

So anyway anyway.  Back to business. My area du jour is the hallway and staircases.  Which are built to a large scale, but which, because we have the extra ‘wing’ at the back, lack light at the ground floor (though it is bright above). I have been playing housey dress-up and fished a few things out of the box.

Firstly, this is the hallway, to remind you.  Or rather, this is the hallway as was, before the builder set about it.  It now sports a bath, a mountain of wood and a very racy (actually mind bogglingly depressing) earlier colour scheme in death-by-yew green and dried blood:


Now then.  The sober mood. I have a great love for Farrow and Ball’s Elephant Breath, not only because of the name (and I must say that when in Zimbabwe and surrounded by elephants I didn’t so much notice the colour of their breath as their propensity to tiptoe.  Have you noticed that about them?):

In this sober mode, I’ve wondered about  adding a bit of Grisaille on the right hand wall as you come in, just up to the arch.  I’ve been out and about (digitally) visiting Zuber and de Gournay and the like, but a conversation about money yesterday (conversation would be the polite word for it anyway)  has seen me scuttling from their front doors like a mouse in plain worsted.  This, though, is a manageable version from G&W:

Or this from Cole and Son, but mucho more coconuts:

So that’s one option, and quite sober it is too.

However, my pink furnace is still burning away and I’m thinking possibly this, on the same wall:

but in this colour way, with splashes of a similar hue on various landings:

But having tipped my cap at pink,  I also have to say that a certain blue persistently tugs at me.  Tugs and tugs and won’t leave me alone. There is this, by Axel Vervoordt (stolen from a waiting room mag – you can still see the fold lines):

I like the broken quality of the colour and the way it wraps onto the ceilings.  There is also this:

and even this:

or a pale and interesting version (on seeing this was a pub in London I thought to hasten me back to Blighty where I could sit lose hours (weeks!) with my G&T in a narcotic blue haze):

On other days, however,  a bit of pattern seems to float the boat:

or this (but probs not):

and I positively love this, but wouldn’t do it (or would I?):

This one I pledged my troth to some years ago:

So how to choose?  Sober? Pink? Patterned? Blue?  All or none of the above?

And here are a few more miscellaneous hallways, just for good measure (and further confusion):


And before I go,  let me just slide in one last digression, which is slightly more admissible on a housey blog than lion fur and banana skins – I’ve had a few requests for progress shots of the Regency Wreck and they are imminent (honest),  but I am rusticating at the farm for a few days and hope (hope!  what an expensive commodity!) that vast swathes of tiling await my return, photos of which I will then plaster liberally all over t’t blog.


To breathe out into calm.

Posted in Derelict house, dress down, Dress-ups, Georgian houses, Inspiration, Renovation, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on November 24, 2011 by pimpmybricks

If the first rule of blogging is to be positive and the fifth law is that the ratio of difficulty posting is proportionate to time elapsed between posts – well then, a lot of silence can happen.

But enough of all that – Mr Pimp is, as I type ,winging his way back from Singapore (the silver lining in the cloud of financial collapse).  As well as that,  our house is getting ready for sale  in the next couple of weeks, and there are paint pots and wet dogs and steam machines all tumbling chaotically towards the deadline.

So, by way of buying myself a plot of peace, here are a few pictures from my ‘dark room’ cache.  And the common denominator?  Stillness.  Do you see leaking roofs, spooned floorboards, chipped paintwork, spiders’ webs, torn lampshades, fly-blown blinds, dying plants, grimy tiles or grubby grouting – all clamouring to be seen to – in these photos?

Do you see gob-spattered walls courtesy of Remington Pollack?  Gouged floors courtesy of his smaller, more anxious friend?

Do you see the army of solid burghers all come to fix said ailments – the estate agents, the painters, the gardeners, the house washers, the floor sanders, the window cleaners?

No, nor do I!

I see acres of calm space.  I see a modicum of intersecting lines, but not so many that they intersect thoughts.  I see a bed on which it might be possible to read a poem, where each word might inhabit its own unrushed space and images unspool at their own unrushed leisure.

(The interesting question, with all this yearning for peace, of course,  is why I dream of one life while busily making another one entirely.)

Could I live in this house?  As work on the RW gets closer (whatever you do,  don’t mention the money with which to do the work!) the style becomes a more pressing consideration.  At the moment, it seems to boil down to this – whether to dress the house up or down.

I’d love to credit these pictures but the only annotation in my file is ‘voorhaven’ which is, to say the least, a bit mysterious.  So, usual apologies for usual slack tartishness. It looks very Belgian, though, don’t you think?

Edit –

The pictures are of the home of artist & interior designer Monique Meij-Beekman. Her website is Voorhaven 7 . Photos are by Jan Luijk.

Thanks Jo.

The Iceman Cometh…

Posted in Derelict house, Dress-ups, Georgian houses, Inspiration, Renovation with tags , , on August 17, 2011 by pimpmybricks

…or less pretentiously and more accurately, the Heritage Officer doth.  Tomorrow morning at nine o’ clock, actually. On the dot.  Be there or be square.  This has come about because we rang her,  or rather Mr Pimpernel rang her, the phone being an instrument of torture to me.  We wanted  to remind her of our small existence during Esteemed Architect’s month long absence.  You know, in the hope that our Section 60 might not grow mould or silverfish or strange species of flora in the interim.  And her response was that she’d like to come and see what we’re proposing, in situ.  Quite a reasonable request, really.

This is not, btw, the same Heritage Officer as the one who came to the last meeting.  In fact nothing is known of this new one, other than that she sounds about fifteen years old.  So I feel oddly optimistic and rather clean-slatish about it all,  but we shall see.   I still have my private promise to the house that I will eat my hat if things go well.  And I’d rather not.  I don’t think straw or feathers are legal on the eating protocol.

And this surprise visit does at least bring the house to the forefront of my mind again, having slipped a bit into obscurity, so boring and so deathly silent is the planning process.   And at the forefront of my mind it became festooned with yardages of books which in turn sent me scurrying to my picture files for images of libraries.

The room at the front of the house at street level has been designated the book room. 

In my mind for a while it has looked a little like this, but everything is subject to change.

Maybe a smidge darker, like this.

This next one I love and cannot have but as long as I can have all my books it won’t matter too much.  What will Ms Pimp’s generation do for libraries?  Line all their kindles up by colour?  I can’t imagine, being myself of that species who never, ever parts with a book.  Once, I spent six months calumphing around India and sent all my books, when I’d read them, back to the UK.  Still got them.  Natch.  (Salman Rushie makes much more sense, somehow, when you read him in India).   Of course there are a few books, such as anything by Margaret Drabble and a book I read recently, which are so enraging that they have to be thrown around the room (to teach them a lesson) and then dumped with great ceremony into the rubbish bin. But ANYWAY.  Goodness.  The room:

I rather like the look of the trend to order books by colour in much the same way that I like rows of paint samples.  But it would never do for someone who has to have all their books in roughly alphabetical order so that they can, on a whim, suddenly grab one and rummage through it because as a matter of life and death  it is necessary to know how something or other was expressed by someone or other:

 This (only messier) is more how they generally look in my house – like a great tide of paper, forever edging outwards:

Mr P has his bedside drawers stuffed to the gills with books.  I have mine in a leaning tower next to me.  Death by novel.  Forgive me.

A few more

At the moment I’m venturing into the new book by Sebastian Barry.  The translucent beauty of his words. Wasted a bit on me at the moment, if I’m honest, going as I am through some Granny Grunt phase and wanting only the literary equivalent of crumpets and log fires.  Do other people have such phases?

 So anyway, I’m in the rather strange position of wishing that tomorrow comes and finds me chewing my way solemnly through straw or felt.  She’d have to agree to the upstairs bathroom for that, however.  Maybe I should hobble a bit?

chickens, wordlessness, pictures and bridesmaids.

Posted in Derelict house, Dress-ups, Georgian houses, Herberts, Photo shoots, sandstone walls with tags , , on July 29, 2011 by pimpmybricks

A piece of chicken I ill-advisedly ate in Canberra has left me drained of words (and euphemisms). Instead, here are the pictures from July’s Issue of Country Style magazine, shot at the house.  Do you think the model looks a smidge grumpy?  They all seem to. Maybe it’s the dust and dirt and Hanging Ceilings of Babylon what does it.

The picture above was taken in what I HOPE will be the top floor bathroom.  I’m presently looking for baths anyway.  With my fingers crossed.

Taken (above) on the top floor landing.  That bunch of fake yellow orchids seems to have insinuated itself into most of the pictures.  Its friend was a birdless birdcage but that seems to have got lost. 

 On the stairs in front of the jungle lav.


Sometimes I feel destined for life as an eternal bridesmaid. You know, sidekick to the fab and the glam.

A while back I took my Linn Sondek into an audio shop for repair, and from the excited attention it received from the staff you’d have thought I’d taken in an ageing star of the silver screen.  It happens when I walk Remington, who also draws crowds like a (very unassuming) minor celebrity.  And recently we got a letter from a journalist on the Sydney Morning Herald, wondering whether we’d be willing to do a series of articles about our journey with the house. We would, I think.

Actually all the talk of bridesmaidism is disingenuous because I hate to the be the centre of attention.  To the point where, submitting to my mother’s desire for pictorial news when we moved here from London,  I used to don a vast feather hat for the videotapes.  I know, something I should have taken to my training analyst. So anyway, when we received a call from Grand Designs a while back, my heart skipped a fretful beat. Mr Pimp contacted them way back when, in the first flush of enthusiasm after the auction.  We didn’t hear and we didnt hear and we didn’t hear a bit more, and assumed they were not interested.  Then we forgot about them completely. Mr P is still keen, and Ms P is keen, which is fine, but they’re not HERE (or won’t be) and so it would be me left to rabbit on in front of the camera. Anathema!  Could I fish out my feather hat again, maybe?  A veil?

Remington is, as you can see, terribly excited by it all.

Dish dashery and a small excitement.

Posted in Derelict house, Dress-ups, Georgian houses, Renovation with tags , , on June 29, 2011 by pimpmybricks

Well, dash my wig – the Exemptions Schedule has been passed! 

The Flower Garden, etched engraving by M Darly 1777

Actually it came through a few days ago but tardiness, thy name is Pimp.  What this effectively means is that we now have permission to do works that we are, in fact,  required to do.  Only repairs, mind; none of your naughty changes.  No bathrooms upstairs, nor holes in walls.  Oh no no!  All that sort of stuffage has been submitted separately and soberly as a ‘Section 60’ and, having been scrutinised by the lovely Heritage Officer for Housing, has been sent to the Heritage Department and from thence it will make its laborious way to the City of Sydney. Much scope  for waylaying and maundering in dusty corners. But let us hope not.  Let us have our optimistic hats on and bask a while in the glow of the Exemptions Schedule.  

In fact, a few changes of optimistic headpiece:

The Extravaganza, or, The Mountain Head Dress of 1776 by M Darly

Le Strategeme Amoureux, ou la Toilette a la Mode, Anon

Miss Prattle, mezzotint by Carrington Bowles 1771

Top and Tail 1777

The Donry or Top and Tail Turn'd About by Miss Heel 1777

A ramble about style and suchlike…

Posted in Dress-ups, Georgian houses, Renovation with tags , , , on April 30, 2011 by pimpmybricks

I am feeling a little impatient – I’d like to move into the house tomorrow.  Rising damp, falling damp, subsidence, termites and all.

Instead,  there are negotiations and discussions to take place. The Pimps, The Architects and The Authorities must confer.  Politics and agendas will no doubt cloud the air.  Acres of silence will unfold.  We will doubt our ears,  doubt our sanity,  doubt out temper-containers. Then, sometime this century, we will be allowed to do essential structural stuff.  After that, whatever changes we’re allowed to make.  Then, if we haven’t died from frustration and impatience, or gone bankrupt in the meantime, the fun stuff happens.

If I were to sit up straight,  put my hand on my heart  and tell the truth (the whole truth and nothing but the truth, swelp me god), I’d have to admit that I don’t find French drains and sumps the most heart- poundingly exciting things. And oddly enough, soil pipe placement and wall stitches don’t much enthral me either.  But I’ll do my bit.   I will get to grips with under-floor membranes and the right grades of gravel;  I will  search for someone who can repair lathe and plaster ceilings (even if the nearest is in Piddle Trenthide or Queen Camel); I will strive to understand the principles of sound transmission, joist re-enforcement and sandstone poultices.  In short, I will acquaint myself with the guts of the house.   

But  really, honestly, only en-route to the bits I like.   

And that, of course, is dress-ups.

At the architect’s meeting the other day I expressed my worry that the house could, quite easily, lend itself to the pompous.  It could, without due diligence, take up attitudes of grandeur, strike poses of self-importance.  And this worries me.  I don’t want an aspirational house that we have to live up to, in which we feel like frauds,  in which our lives feel small.  I don’t want to feel we should be wearing periwigs to breakfast, cleaning our teeth in champagne and never ever slumping in front of the telly.   I want a home, not a lifestyle.   I want to do justice to the elegance and beauty of the house – just no strumpetry, thank you.  Well, maybe a bit of strumpetry but definitely no pomp and circumstance.

Maurice Leloir via

So that’s what I don’t want.  And what  do I want?  Well that’s  a vastly unspooling bolt of colour, yet to be pinned and cut. 

When I was a comic-reading girl, we used to have paper dress-up dolls that you cut out with your blunt, roundy-ended scissors.  First the doll herself, (respectable in her undies, natch) and then all the outfits.  A great deal of mouth-breathing  and puffing went on, with tongues protruding between teeth in the utter, rapt concentration of it all.  Ideally what I’d like would be something like this for houses.  I know – there are software packages abounding but I can’t be faffed learning how to use them and in any case they never look convincing to me, probably because my ability to suspend disbelief has waned since the paper dolls.

via squidoo

So my idea is to collect various outfit styles for the house here in the blog and try them on for size.  And partly because the architect and I are considering keeping this wall in my study roughly as it is now, I’m starting there.

  I don’t know what this look is called, so I’m calling it ‘Deshabille’.  

 This is the house of Debra Cronin, in Woollahra, Sydney.  The pictures have trotted their way around the blogosphere quite a bit, so apologies for that. (But I’m thinking they may not have been seen by M&A, who have bought a house down the road, and who are at the advanced stage of considering the wholeness/holeyness of walls).




Anyway, the meetings start next week.  Let the wild rumpus begin!


Posted in Dress-ups, Georgian houses, Renovation, Uncategorized on April 23, 2011 by pimpmybricks

I’ve got the urge to play dress-ups with the house again.


How about this…

dressed up and swanning about like this…

 The actual room, as far as I know, doesn’t have fold marks across it.  I did a bad thing – I saw the picture while I was whiling away time in a beautification salon and before I knew it a lustful seizure was upon me, the page was ripped from the magazine and stuffed in a small, guilty wodge in the dark depths my bag.  I’m expecting to be punished – for the paint to fall off my walls, or the portico to land on my head any day.

As far as I can remember, the picture came from Belle, and the house was by Axel Vervoordt. Thanks to them and apologies to the salon.