Archive for Regency

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.


Will we have rainbows/ Day after day…

Posted in Inspiration with tags , , on March 15, 2011 by pimpmybricks

People ask what style we’ll do the house in when it’s no longer  falling down and I say it will depend on what the house’s personality reveals itself to be.  That can lead to some pitying looks, but houses do have different personalities.  I’m talking about that slug of feeling you sometimes get when you first enter a new house.  Or the atmosphere that pools around you when you sit alone in a room.   

One place we had in London was built in 1690 – all wig cupboards, panelling and carved door cases.  Beautiful but SO bossy.  It would only tolerate old music  (Purcell preferably);  none of that modern nonsense. It was a house you needed good posture for. It was prim and deadly proper.  The neighbours were restoration tragics who scolded you if you used a modern colour and who probably wore period costume to bed (but not in a fun way).

I don’t want this house to be like that. 

Beyond that is a mystery.

So, in the spirit of wondering, could this:

and this

and this

scrub up as this

sorry, saved aeons ago without credit details

 or this

or this

or this

Or something altogether different?

The guided tour part 1 – in all its inglorious glory.

Posted in Derelict house with tags , , , , on March 14, 2011 by pimpmybricks

I ‘fess up.  The photos I posted yesterday were not the product of my camera (too in-focus, insufficient blur).  They were borrowed from the estate agent’s particulars and, not surprisingly, show the poor old house in the best possible light.  But I decided they don’t do justice to its rising damp, falling damp, subsidence and extensive termite damage (there have been some good quality termites through there).  Neither, therefore, do they do justice to the full extent of our forthcoming heroism (yet to be tested, but we have faith). Or our lunacy, which is, anyway, a synonym for heroism. 

So here are a few shots taken at a canter on one of the open inspection days. 

This will eventually become my study, when the termites have been re-housed and the subsidence made to go away.  Conjecturally it was once the smoking room, before the Maritime Board casually chopped off the back of the house to make room for a lane and the room became the 3x3m box it is now. I love the fact that you get the fanfare of those two huge arches into a deflated parp of the room itself.  It amuses me.  The scale seems on a par with whatever I might get up to in there.

This is in the basement.  That indeterminate pale pink wall to the right is painted sandstone.  My vision, of course, is that it will be stripped to reveal a gently glowing golden marvel, like some inner-city Camelot.  The architect, who is more sanguine than I, (and who works next door, incidentally) warns me that the stone will almost certainly not live up to my expectations, but will be ‘fretting’ and doing all manner of anti-social stonelike things, such as crumbling, housing insects and sweating.  I find the image of fretting stone endearing.  I can empathise.  But I fear I might not like the reality – maybe the stone and I don’t talk the same language.  Maybe I can’t calm it down.  Oh!  But anyway, until that paint comes off, there are the dreams.  The floor, btw, is sandstone flags.  They appear to be less neurotic.

This is the ceiling in what might be the kitchen.  It is in a dimension beyond neurotic.  It has advanced Altzheimers.

But those arches (there are three of them) – couldn’t you fall in love with them?  I did. On the basis of less are entire fates sealed. On one of them there are still the slender coils that once held the servants bells and which presumably jingled and jangled until some poor hapless person had staggered two floors up to the piano nobile to do someone’s bidding.  Stoke the fire.  Tamp the fire.  Adjust my teacup handle. Twitch that curtain.  I have secret plans to get Supergirl initiated in the arcane ways of the bells.  It’s just that I anticipate some battling to determine who is at which end.

One more piccy.

This is the fireplace in what might become the dining room, if we’re allowed to make a hole in the wall and throw the doors open to the half-postage stamp courtyard. The same half-postage stamp yard in which there is no room for my fishpond fish   (are there adoption agencies for fish?).  Be quiet.  Focus on the fireplace. See that piece of metal above the lintel?  That’s the old gas fitting.  It will be staying, whether or not we want it, so it’s rather good that we do. Of course the brick excrescence at the bottom is for the chop.  And you can’t really tell, but the fireplace is huge.  Sadly there was no obligiing person around at the time to give the picture perspective.  Not to mention charm and colour value.

I lied.  One more.

Ta-da.  The one unsullied stone wall, on which many a dream has been founded.  Too bad it’s in the room that’s going to be the laundry and dogs’ bedroom.  I shall have to teach them to appreciate hand-cut and finished stonework.  A sort of advanced, somewhat specialised form of dog training.  The architect pointed out (bad sign, when puns creep in so early) that the blocks would have been cut and finished by convicts.  I did contemplate whether my conscience could allow me to live in the house, but then I decided to be feckless.

Take a bow, Mrs Worthington.

Posted in Derelict house with tags , , , , on March 10, 2011 by pimpmybricks


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