Archive for Georgian houses

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.

A bevy of lovelies.

Posted in Derelict house, Georgian houses with tags , , on September 2, 2011 by pimpmybricks

I’ve been computerless (in Gaza) for the last week, wandering that no-man’s-land between Mr Microsoft and Mr Apple.  Defecting from the former to the latter for no particular reason other than whim. Acting on whim is rather like inviting adventure – you only remember the tiresome practicalities once you’ve impulsively set out and can no longer return.  So here I am, still with two not-quite-functioning computers, both of which are destined to stay that way for a while longer because I ain’t got the knowledge or the interest to find a resolution.

However, lacking the wherewithal to lose vast tracts of  time online (other than Mr P’s desktop dinosaur, which is to computer as Fred Flintstone’s car is to Maserati)  has freed me to do other things.  Like, for instance, taking a look at the two other properties that have come up for sale in the conservation area around the house.  It’s a slightly dangerous thing, visiting these newcomers onto the scene, and I always go with some trepidation lest I should fall  head over heelses in love with one of them and regret buying ours. Bit of a flighty baggage, me.  Let it be said. Truth in advertising and all.

And was I tempted?  Well, yes and no.  No in the sense that I still love ours the best.  Yes in the sense that I want to save all sad old houses.  When I was being psychoanalytical I would have said I have a strong reparative impulse.  Now I just say I love doing up old wrecks.

Here they are, anyway. This is the first.  While in there I got talking to one of the long standing Maritime residents and she told me a previous tenant of this house had stripped all the woodwork back to the cedar, and in doing so had become very ill with lead poisoning. 

And t’other.  I loved this house and in another life could happily have lived there.  It’s all been mucked about and stretched in various directions, and I wouldn’t give you tuppence halfpenny for most of the rooms, but I loved the courtyard.  And it had the most commodious landings on which the best conversations could be had ( because isn’t it always so that the best things happen in the interstices? Or is that only me?).


To the right, btw, is not a detention centre (topical though they may be) but the tennis courts serving the Observatory Hotel opposite.  A rather derivative and pompous place, to my mind.  Uninspired affectation of gentleman’s club and woody opulence. Syrupy wood stains and that dreadful dark green carpet that is supposed to connote…what?  Huntin’ and fishin’ and the forest floor? ( I don’t actually know whether it’s got green carpet).  Anyway, at this house we met two men who were interested in the first house but, as it ‘appened, more interested in ours and so they asked for a ten cent tour.  Which always turns out to be a two dollar tour because Mr Pimp likes his historicals.  So he does.  And whilst cantering around ours at a cracking pace (auction viewings beckoned) I learned that one of the men is a ceramicist and plans to install a kiln.  Which is VERY interesting.  Or would be, if I had not become so fed up with my lumpen babies that I’d thrown them all in a plastic bucket to languish unloved and unfired. But that is beside the point. 


See what I mean about some of the rooms?



So there you have it.

Poor old Portico.

Posted in Derelict house, Georgian houses, Renovation with tags , , , on May 21, 2011 by pimpmybricks

Recently the portico has been leaning away from the house at an even more rakish slant  – like a dignified old gentleman somewhat in his cups, offended by his host.  I’m thinking silk scarf and evening wear. For some reason Quentin Crisp comes to mind, but he was far too urbane to be offended by anyone (oh how I loved Quentin Crisp).  Probably more Richard Harris.  Hair pushed distractedly back. Forgotten cigarette dangling from aesthetically nicotine-stained fingers.  I’m getting fanciful.

So anyway.  Like the cavalry come galloping over the hill at the last possible moment, the Government, gawd bless ’em, have finally come and given the old gent a helping hand.  Nothing to do with completion and possible lawsuits, of course.  Not that we would.

There’s a likely photoshoot happening in a couple of weeks.  They seem to like a few shots in the portico, these photographers.  I hope they don’t mind a tinge of Changing-the-Guard-at-Buckingham-Palace.

Photos courtesy of Ms Pimp and her new camera.

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!

Crawling to infinity.

Posted in Georgian houses, Inspiration, Renovation with tags , , on April 22, 2011 by pimpmybricks

We crawl along with the house… 

…hence all these pretty but unrelated pictures.

We had an architect’s meeting yesterday and there was much joking and idea-spinning , but nothing much to show for it other than marks on paper and thought-balloons strung like bunting between us.  He has been busy dividing the Conservation Management Tome into ‘changes’ and ‘repairs’ and when we’ve amassed another forest of paper we’ll take it all to the various bodies and see whether they will very kindly permit us to make the repairs that are necessary to stop the house (or bits of it) collapsing. 

An interesting thing about these houses is that one governmental department has allowed them to fall into states of piteous decay, while another will have us jump through hoops, swim through crocodile infested waters, tame lions and generally sign over our lives before permitting us to do the works that we, in any case, are required to do.

In the meeting, discussion ran to changes we want to make  and how they might be accomplished.  Things that involve knocking holes into walls and floors and, you know, (sorry for our impertinence), having an upstairs bathroom.  The Burra Charter was invoked and we all stood to attention before it.  I even tried to read it a moment ago but it is a document more turgid than analytic theories of Object Splitting.  More turgid even than Charles Dickens (is that possible?).  Turgid enough, anyway, to require a cream bun and a lie-down before embarking on it.  Neither of which I had, which is maybe why I failed. 


However, I do like their dictum of “as much as necessary, as little as possible” (providing ‘necessary’ spans aforementioned upstairs bathroom, a door between kitchen and dining room, and a few other life or death necessities).  Another thing I like is that new work, such as doors where there were not doors etc, should ‘read’ as new and not pretend originality.    We talked about the new doors following Georgian proportions and spirit but with steel frames. And about off-setting the frame from the wall slightly and having a glass fillet around the gap.  But right now  I am feeling very frustrataed – the internet is  a groaning banqueting table, heaped and overflowing with images of Moroccan leather pouffes, wedding blankets  and ikat cushions.  Really, I am stuffed to the gills.  But if you want a picture of a new door in an old building with a glass fillet in between, you’re going to go hungry.

Hence all the pretty pictures in this post. Unrelated to the house.  They come from 40 W I N K S,  an hotel in London run by David Carter, dandy and decorating impresario.

For years and years I’ve believed he was the son of Angela Carter, writer of ‘The Magic Toyshop’ and other wonderful, iconoclastic books from my youth. Dead now, sadly (both). I don’t know where I got this idea but it was a firm one. I would have sworn there was the same magician at work in each, the same baroque sensibility, the same surreal splashes. And then I discovered that his mother was an antiques dealer and her son called Alexander and my illusion collapsed with a ceremonial plop. The mind – what can you say!

All images here.