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100 posts categorized "This old house"

25 February 2009

Go Love Your Room - Seattle Craftsman

I was flicking through last month's Sunset (which just gets better and better), when what did I see? A Seattle Craftsman house very much like ours, even down to the need for kid-friendliness. 


Loving the furniture placement here.  Unfortunately we can't emulate it because of our built in bookcases.


They've even got a Tripp Trapp! And I like the way they've done the lighting over the table.  I've been contemplating doing something like this, but am wondering about maintaining the symmetry in the room.  Need to think about this.


Nice kitchen, for when we ever have the money to do ours.  I like how the cabinets and shelves look modern, but completely fit in with the look of the house.  


I ADORE this lamp. The house is owned by an architect couple, and from their website it seems that they've done some very sympathetic renovations of Craftsman properties in Seattle.  I'm keeping them on file just in case we ever win the lottery and can afford to remodel our basement and downstairs kitchen.

10 February 2009

Pink or Green? Or Something In Between?

I've been going through agonies of indecision about the paint colours for our main living room. I can't tell you how many different sample colours I've tried out and rejected.

Just to bring you up to speed, we're looking for a colour to replace the egg-yolk yellow walls in the downstairs living room. There's a bit of a crazy colour scheme developing in here of chartreuse and white with raspberry sorbet, cranberry, dark brown and er, orange accents (see pictures below) and I need a paint colour to pull it all together.

And before you say anything, yes, I am well aware that this room needs lots of 'editing', though at least it is mercifully free of the toys which are normally scattered about with gay abandon.



The sitting area is going to be a white, though a white which will pick out the mouldings and the white fireplace which you can see better here.  This white is TBD. However I'm looking for a colour to go above the panelling in the dining area.  The colour needs to be sufficiently bright to withstand the grey Seattle winter light; sufficiently deep to emphasise the panelling, but not so pastelly that it looks like a little girl's bedroom in bright sunshine (the room has lots of south and east facing windows, so can get very bright).

After much deliberation I have narrowed it down to this green (Greenwich by Ralph Lauren) or a pink.  The pink in the sample is actually the pink of the sample board itself which I rather like, but I don't actually have a paint identified.  I wanted your input before I go searching further though.

First up the green.  It is a beautiful colour and I think it's the right green if we decide to go the green route. I'm just a bit worried that with green curtains and a green table runner and a green rug the room is just going to end up being rather er, green. 

Here it is in strong sunlight


And here it is when the light is more subdued.  I'm pleased that it doesn't go too grey.


On the other hand here is the pink in strong sunlight


And here it is when the light is more subdued which is when I like it best. Subdued light happens a lot in Seattle.


Here finally are both colours in tungsten light. The green stands up well, but the pink goes a bit too 'bubblegum' for my taste. Sorry about crappy blurred photo - my little point and shoot doesn't do well in low lighting conditions and flash would have defeated the object.  I do miss my camera!


Anyway, shall I go for the green? Or keep looking for the right pink? If so, do you have any suggestions for pinks I should try? Or should I do something completely different entirely?  

09 February 2009

Our New Lamp

Bought at Christmas from Habitat in the UK and shipped to the US at vast expense.  There are some shops I just can't live without.




One day that wall and wood trim will be painted a different colour.  However, I really wouldn't hold your breath.

02 February 2009

Making a Chandelier?

One of my resolutions this year is to finally get the house sorted out.  The major remodeling of the basement and kitchens that we planned will have to wait because of George Bush and Gordon Brown, but we ought to at least be able to get the house PAINTED.  I mean, we've only been here two years.

Two things which really need to go are the two brass light fittings in the main downstairs living room.  I presume they're originals in the house and so must date from about 1912.  This doesn't stop them looking like strange brass jelly fish hanging from the ceiling.


As a Brit I've been taught to be respectful of original features, but I really can't cope with these and the Husband loathes them. I mean look.


I would obviously like to spend several thousand dollars on two groovy light fittings but George Bush put the kibosh on those as well (he's got SO much on his conscience). And then I saw this in Ready Made magazine.



Designed by Jean Pelle, they're made from three light fittings, round glass bulbs and these gorgeous handblown 'bubble' balls from CB2.  All tied together with bits of string. I even have an electrical engineer (turned online advertising guru) for a Husband, so we shouldn't even get electrocuted.

My questions for you are as follows:

- Should I ditch the original fixtures?

- Where's the best place to sell the original fixtures?

- Will someone really pay MONEY for them?

- Am I really going to have the patience to put these together?

- Should I even bother?

- Are they going to look like expensive fixtures?

- Or just like a hopelessly homemade bundle of balls tied together with string?

Answers on a postcard please.

We'll be talking paint colours next. FINALLY, we're going to ditch the icky egg-yolk yellow.  Am beside myself with excitement. Some colour samples arrived in the post today.  I just have to paint them onto boards and then we can have a chat. 

12 January 2009

Colour Therapy

I just wanted to point you guys in the direction of this fabulous giveaway on Shelteriffic. This nifty Color Helper machine lets you scan colours in from walls, fabrics or magazines and then either tells you the closest match from its inbuilt palette of manufacturers' paint colours or suggests complementary colours for you to use.

All you have to do is prove to Shelterrific how much you need one by sending them a photo of a room that needs help and the worst will win the prize.

Fortunately for you guys, I'm not going to be sending in this photo of our famously horrendous kitchen - yep, after living here nearly two years we still haven't painted the house and the kitchen still looks like this, though considerably more cluttered. Luckily for me, Mary T from Shelterrific is going to lend me her one of these machines, so I'll do an indepth review when I can.  And yes, doing up the house is VERY high on the list of resolutions this year.


19 December 2008

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow...


This was the snowscene inside...

And this was the snowscene outside...




Very early this morning we were woken by a 'thundersnow' - a thunderstorm and blizzard in one.  All very rare for Seattle and particularly for us being so close to the lake.  Seattle is now of course completely paralysed with more snow expected at the weekend- will we be able to escape for Christmas?

15 September 2008

La fin

For about twelve short but glorious weeks of the year - from the end of June to the middle of September - Seattle is the best place to be on earth. 

For the last couple of weeks we've been enjoying the most glorious Indian summer, temperatures in the mid-to-high 70s (around 25 degrees) and cloudless clear blue skies.  This weekend was another such but with added poignancy.  The slight chill on the breeze in the morning and the leaves starting to turn red round the edges told their own story.  The weather is supposed to turn colder by next weekend, so this weekend was full of small goodbyes.

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The last sandcastles on the beach


The last lunch by the sea

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The last strawberry lemonade                                                  The last margaritas on the deck


The last popsicle princesses


The last vestigial sunset through the trees


The last chance to watch the lights come on over Seattle and the sun glinting off the downtown buildings


The last chance to watch the moonlight on the water


The last chance to have a candlelit dinner with friends

It was also the last chance for some crazy drunken dancing under the stars but I've decided to spare you the photos

04 August 2008

Come Into My Garden - July

This month has been all about the flowerbed at the front of the garden, which is the only place that gets any sun when the cherry tree is in leaf. 

It started off looking like this at the beginning of the month, with nary a flower in sight after one of the coldest and wettest Junes anyone could remember.


And ended up looking somewhat parched and bedraggled after five weeks of soaring temps and hardly any rain.


In between it's been all about the lilies, the oak-leaf hydrangeas and the lavender, with the echinaceas coming through in the last week or so.  

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I've been so pleased with the lilies in particular.  I've been nervous about adding stuff to the designer's original base scheme, but these have been fabulous, have fit perfectly into the colour scheme and have provided loads of colour and interest when there wasn't much else going on.



I paired the orange rose in the raised bed we made with a hot pink salvia.  




This lily Chambertin is named after one of my favourite wines.


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Being the organised person I am, I can't find the bit of paper with the name of these chocolate-throated lilies, nor for the hot pink ones at the back of the bed.


Somewhat amazing to remember that this time last year the garden looked like THIS.

31 July 2008

Jonathan Adler Needlepoint

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I've never been a great fan of Jonathan Adler's stuff before, but have to admit to hugely liking his new needlepoint pillows.

There's a great photoshoot of his Palm Beach house in August's Elle Decoration UK where we can see the pillows in action.

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I'm thinking that mod lady with too much eyeshadow would look very fine on here, once we've got round to painting the wall.


Oh and extra points to anyone who can tell me where to source that light fitting hanging above the purple chair (with the green curtain behind).

23 July 2008


Look what showed up on my kitchen windowsill the other day.




If you plant seeds in the Spring, they turn into flowers!  Who knew?  (I really love these short stubby apple juice bottles from Martinellis).

03 July 2008

Bedroom Schemes

One day soon we ARE going to get to getting the inside of the house painted (we've got quotes and things but I just can't bear the thought of the disruption) and I am starting to think about colour schemes.

Of course, the bedroom will be very much dictated by the presence of the Emma Gardner rug , which I realise I haven't really shown you in all its glory.


I also recently acquired an 'Apostrophe Chair' from Urban Outfitters, which I got at an extremely bargainaceous price, because they were just discontinuing them in that colour.  The chair is ludicrously comfortable, but also ridiculously lightweight so I then had to acquire a sheepskin rug from UGG Australia to anchor it down a bit and stop it wandering all over the room. So not quite such a bargain as first envisaged.

Unfortunately at the moment the whole ensemble is a little vignette of hope in the middle of a sea of ugliness.  If you just pan to the left a little you will see the Husband's incredibly un-picturesque office corner (which will have to remain there until we redo the basement, so sometime in 2020).


But one day - hopefully within my lifetime -  it will become a lovely nook from where I can read, knit and just gaze at the view over Lake Union and the downtown buildings beyond (which are  impossible to capture on film while still retaining the details of the room).


I saw these on Uncle Beefy's fabulous blog today and thought that might be a good colour scheme for the room with the rug as a starting point and maybe some dove grey mixed in. I am leaving that thought to marinade a little.


24 June 2008

Come Into My Garden - June


The garden was looking all shiny and pretty just before we left for Mexico, but by the time we got back, after a week of rain and then record-breaking temps, it was looking like a branch of the Amazon rainforest.

I've spent every weekend since then attacking the lawn, pulling up thousands of weeds, planting new stuff and mulching everything, while the garden sort of went into suspended animation because it was so incredibly cold.

My efforts have finally been rewarded over the last couple of weeks as temperatures have risen (not that it's exactly summer yet, mind you) and things are finally starting to happen.



It's still looking a bit messy as all the bulbs die down (and I'm not too keen on the woodchip mulch either - who would have thought that one day I would have opinions about mulch?) However, the beds have finally filled out with perennials and the lilies I planted earlier in the year (very excited to see the lilies as I can't for the life of me remember what colours I planted).

The big news is that we finally got round to constructing and planting a raised bed to the side of the garden and also planting a climbing rose to go over the arch.


Here's a before picture from when we first moved into the house.


I've put in some roses - being English it doesn't seem right to have a garden without them somehow. I'm wondering a bit about their garishness though.

To the side of the arch is rosa ' Zephirine Drouhin'  a hot pink which is looking lovely with the lavender at the front of the beds. At the moment it's perfect, but I'm worrying whether she'll be a bit OTT when/if she scrambles right over the arch.


In the raised bed is rosa Livin' Easy which is the most beautiful orange (hate the name though)


IMG_5961and also rosa 'Christopher Marlowe' which looked good in the garden centre, but which might prove to have been a bit of a mistake as I think it's too pink and sugary even for me. I may have to move him to the front garden somewhere.

Behind them is a soft pink jasmine to go with the white jasmine to the side of the trellis.  I've also planted a clematis, but it doesn't seem to be doing too well at present, mostly I suspect, because we broke the growing tip in transit.


The most glorious iris has just finished blooming. It was so dark as to be almost black when in bud. The garden is so shaded now that I think I'm going to have to rein in my predilection for black flowers because you just can't see them.  Also pretty and very unusual were the little bell-like flowers of the enkianthus by the side of the patio

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The helianthemums at the front overlapping the stone walls have been flowering well, but I think they are a bit of a mistake.  I should have listened when the designer specified orange helianthemum 'Ben Nevis', instead I asked if we could have Ben Ledi  instead and although they look very pretty when the sun shines through them, from the front the just look too RED and don't go so well with the lavender. 




The bright pink geranium Anne Folkard is also doing her thing and bringing a bit of colour to the shade garden at the back, where nothing much is happening at present, and the first oakleaf hydrangea caps are starting to come through.  I think they're going to be beautiful next month.


IMG_5996 The herb garden at the side of the house has also filled in nicely - all ready for the grilling season.  If it ever gets here.

14 June 2008


Note to self.  When you finally get round to painting your very similar and currently diarrhoea-brown wooden staircase it doesn't necessarily have to be white.  It could probably do without the little diamonds though.


Image from Benjamin Moore (I think)

29 April 2008

Come Into My Garden - April


This month the garden is all about blossom and tulips and the colour scheme has become more subdued again as the bright yellow early daffs and lipstick pink tulips fade away.



The cherry tree was in her full splendour earlier on in the month but now a confetti of tiny white blossoms cascades down over the garden every time there is a slight breeze, leaving a dusting of 'snow' all over the flower beds.  It is all very lovely.


The espaliered apples are also looking stunning.  I had forgotten how beautiful pink-tinged apple blossom can be.


This is the view looking across to our neighbours' house and over towards Lake Union.


I have been talking sternly to the squirrel to make sure he doesn't get all our apples this year.

Some gorgeous new tulips have arrived which I like much better than the rather gaudy lipstick red ones we had last month.  I wish I could remember their names though.

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Somewhat foolishly though I planted these in the bed on the side of the garden where they can't be admired easily from the patio.

Close to the patio I appear to have inadvertently created a 'black' garden where the black violas I planted last autumn are still going strong, mixed with the dark new leaves of the berberis and the velvety black of 'Queen of the Night', one of my favourite tulips. I love how it's completely not 'springlike', though I wish I'd planted a few pink or orange tulips here to liven it up a bit, and it is really difficult to photograph.




The back of the garden in contrast is now a white garden full of white daffodils, counterpointed by the lime green of the fading hellebores and the sprinkling of tiny white flowers on the daphne.  I'm loving the way that bluebells are growing up naturally through the woodland garden at the back.


We've been working to spruce up the patio a bit as well.  The pansy which I planted last autumn is now enormous, so I moved it to the pot where the gaudy tulips were, awaiting further instructions.
















I've also given up on my dream of growing dwarf chamomile in between the flagstones (I couldn't find the 'lawn' variety anywhere) and have been putting in this pretty little thyme.

All the sprucing is in honour of the newly painted Adirondack chairs, now complete with little table from Target.



14 April 2008

The Three Chairs


We finished painting them over the weekend and I think they're OK.  They're pretty dazzling when the sun's out, but brighten up a dull grey day like today no end.  We just need a little round cedar coffee table, which will stay resolutely natural in colour.

It's going to be interesting to see how they go with the garden colour scheme as it develops over the year. The yellow of the daffs will fade away and be replaced by lots of purple and chocolate plants enlivened with splashes of hot pink, red and orange. Though next year I may avoid such very pink tulips.

01 April 2008

Come Into My Garden - March

Quick! *Rushes to get the March update in before April*

Spring has indeed sprung and the garden is looking fab at the moment.  All the back-breaking effort in the autumn (oh my goodness, I nearly said 'Fall'), planting daffodil and tulip bulbs is really paying off.


The star of the show is the shade garden at the back under the tree, which is bursting with daffodils and hellebores.  Hellebores, how much do I love you.  





The first tulips also bloomed this weekend - a sweet lipstick pink called (I think, I forgot to make a note) Elizabeth Arden.  You'll notice that I've put in a wigwam to grow peas though nothing much is happening a present.  There's parsley, rocket, red oak leaf lettuce and broccoli for harvesting in the little vegetable patch though, and the Minx and I recently sowed carrots, radishes, spring onions and more lettuces.

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The tulips in my pots are looking beautiful already, I just love them next to the watercolour-splashed pansies, which have been going strong all winter.


Next month I foresee painting in my stars.  I ordered these Adirondack chairs off Ebay hoping that the colours wouldn't be quite as sickly as they looked on screen and lo and behold they look exactly like the Easter Bunny has just barfed all over the patio.

28 February 2008

The New Coffee Table


When we bought our rug from Emma Gardner we ordered the largest we could afford - all the while suspecting that it was really too small for the space.  It certainly didn't work with the extremely heavy curved glass coffee table which we brought from the UK, which we were afraid of even putting on the rug for fear of digging irreparable grooves deep into the pile.



So a new coffee table had to meet quite a long list of requirements.  Child-friendly obviously - the old glass one had been great for that - and wipe cleanable.  Also preferably not wood as I'm not sure how child-friendly that is over time and we already have a lot of wood in the room. And ideally white, as we already have quite a lot of dark wood in the room. I also quite wanted something curvy to detract from all the various rectangles.

After much fruitless trawling round the Internet, we went trawling round some Seattle shops and were amazed to find something we could actually afford in Ligne Roset  - heavily discounted because it was a discontinued piece (you can take the girl out of Europe, but you can't take Europe out of the girl).  And remarkably it fit all of our criteria, except the curviness, though that was less of an issue since we'd just acquired such a nice curvy pink chair.

But it was also BIG and we were worried that it would make the rug seem even smaller and more inadequate in the space.


I'm hoping we've solved that problem by placing the table half on and half off the rug in what we fondly hope is a Rothko-esque sort of way.  What do you think?  Does it work like that, or just look odd?

Sothebys Art Auction

Here's Rothko's interpretation of our living room.  Which would look extremely fab over our not so fab sofa. Apparently it's a snip at a mere $72.8 million, or the Husband has just offered to paint me one himself.










Here's my list of what still has to be done in this room.

  • Get rid of the egg yolk yellow walls. We have a couple of quotes from painters to paint the whole house, so I just need to finalise the colour palette and we're set.
  • Replace ugly front door that opens right into the room.
  • Do something about all the ugly TV and stereo equipment
  • Get cushions for the sofa (I've got some ideas for cushions I want to make)
  • Sort out curtains for the front window
  • Sort out the lighting
  • Organise the beautiful built-in book cases a bit better.
  • Find beautiful piece of artwork to go above the sofa, unlikely to be a Rothko

Unfortunately, because of a certain someone, we can't replace the more-shabby-than-chic sofa just for the moment. 


25 February 2008

Come Into My Garden - February

We've had a week of glorious spring sunshine here in Seattle (which of course didn't coincide with our friends' visit) and the little garden (I'm sorry, I still can't bring myself to say yard) we had built last year is springing into life.

I spent the weekend tidying it up and planting lilies and other bits and pieces acquired at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, where I spent absolutely too much money. 

There's rather a lot of bare earth on show now that the perennials have died back and the deciduous shrubs are just bare twigs, but if you look closely there are definite signs of life.


680 You will notice that we abandoned the idea of getting a swing seat in the end because I couldn't source anything I liked and instead bought a wood and rope swing from a carpenter on Ebay.  If the Minx ever dares complain about her childhood I will counter with the fact that she spent her formative years swinging under a hundred-year old cherry tree.

The stars of the garden this month are the hellebores in the shade garden under the tree.




The pansies I  planted last autumn have been flowering all winter and are still going strong and adding a splash of much needed colour.

I just wish I'd planted a few more.
































The flowers of the nandinas are not so showy, but I love how the shadows of the branches dance on the old wooden fence.


We're also anxiously waiting to be able to harvest broccoli and red oak leaf lettuce, which has somehow made it through the winter snow, from the tiny vegetable patch.

And here is the very best secret surprise.  A nondescript bush at the sheltered south side of the house planted by the previous owners, turned out to be an orange tree!  The fruit itself is nothing to write home about tastewise, but it looks so exciting and makes me feel like I'm gardening in Sicily.


14 February 2008

The Saga of the Fireplace

Once upon a time some people bought a house in Seattle.  And it was mostly a very nice house, if you ignored the fact that it had been painted by colour-blind people.

The living room, for example, was painted bright egg-yolk yellow accented with a pillarbox red fireplace.


The woman who bought the house really wanted to do something about the fireplace as soon as they moved in, so she set up a poll on her blog asking whether she should just paint it white or strip back the paint.

Despite 49% of her readers telling her to paint it white, she decided to strip back the bricks to see what was underneath using a fabulous paint stripper made from soybeans.

First of all the fireplace looked like this


and then this

130-1and it stayed that way for a very long time because removing the paint was really quite time consuming and tedious.















And then a friend announced that she would be coming for a visit and the owners of the fireplace decided that it really should be finished before she came.

So they set to work with a vengeance and got it looking like this with just one week to go before adding the final touches.


And finally the fireplace was finished.




Yes, after all the anguish and elbow grease we decided to paint it white after all, and are delighted with the result. I'm wishing we hadn't spent quite so much time and effort coming to this conclusion though, and  I promise I will never, ever ignore you guys ever again.

There's still much to be done, but finally I'm really starting to like this room. We'll be talking paint colours next week.

09 February 2008



The new rug is in da house

02 February 2008

My pink chair

It seems like ages since I've given you any update on what we're doing with the house, mostly because nothing at all has been happening.

But I've started to get traction again in the last few weeks, so I've a got lots to tell you about.


This is where we'd got to last week.  Note fabulous new Emma Gardner rug has arrived. Note that very heavy glass coffee table is not on top of fabulous rug, because we are terrified of making deep grooves in said rug. Note that horrendous nursing chair and egg-yolk yellow walls are still in place.

If you remember I wanted to replace the nursing chair with a curvy chaise longue.  I also wanted the chaise longue to be in raspberry sorbet pink but could only find it in various shades of beige.

So imagine how excited I was to find this little beauty in very hip Seattle store Inform (which appears to have a very groovy looking sister store in Vancouver, BC) in exactly the shade of pink I was looking for.


The chair is a 'Little Rock' by Canadian company Bensen and is wildly comfortable. We clearly have a thing for pink rocking chairs. 

The chair is accessorised with a glorious cushion from Swedish designers Adam & Viktoria made from raw linen with very dark chocolate cutouts.

I'd never heard of them before but they're actually featured this month in Elle Decor.  I love their stuff and am going to look into getting some of their cushions  in for 'mirrormirror'.




I was pleased, but also a bit worried to see in Elle Decor that chartreuse - the colour of the rug, together with the Ikea curtains and Crate & Barrel runner in the background - is the new colour for spring.  I'm worried because it will clearly be tremendously passe' next year - and we certainly can't afford to replace the rug, like, EVER.





Stay tuned to find out what our new coffee table looks like, when I'm going to organise those shelves a bit better, why we haven't finished the fireplace *blushes*, and what colour we're going to paint the walls.

Tune in next week also for an update on the colour scheme for the Minx's room - somewhat embarrassingly featured today on (which appears to be the new name for Apartment Therapy Nursery).  I wish they'd waited until we'd painted the walls a colour I actually like!

29 January 2008

The Tree That Keeps on Giving

Not only does our cherry tree look like this in April, and like this in June, but it also means that we can eat this in January.


We made two pots of cherry jam using this recipe in the summer, and I swear it is the most amazing stuff ever committed to bread. Yes, right up there with Nutella.  To be eaten only with a sourdough ficelle from Macrina and lashings of creamy unsalted butter. I wonder why I need to go to WeightWatchers?

Here's what the tree looked like a couple of days ago.  I spy buds!


26 October 2007


OK, first of all I want you to imagine that the landing has walls painted this sort of colour (which is currently the colour of the Minx's playroom and the only colour in the house I like very much - though I'm going to change it to give her a jollier colour scheme).


Then imagine all the woodwork/millwork (?) painted white and no horrible burnt orange wall visible in the kitchen and the 'Spray' rug (which should be arriving fairly shortly) visible in the bedroom beyond. Oh and the ghastly panelling in the bedroom painted dove grey or something. (Yes, I realise that this would all be a lot easier if I just photoshopped it for you, but time is money round here).


And then tell me what you think of our new runner - a custom colourway of Emma Gardner's Orbs design.

Yes you were right.  We did indeed choose option 3 (see the poll here) of the custom options we were given.

What you can't see is how utterly blissful and soft the rug is.  Even though it's the least expensive of their three quality options, it feels wonderful underfoot.

Now I need you to tell me where I can find a ironing board cover which will work with this runner, for our rather funky built-in genuine 1909 ironing-board, which, yes, is hidden 99.9% of the time (I'm not big on ironing). I think this might be the interiors equivalent of making sure your collar and cuffs match.

Yes, yes, I know.  We are going to be talking to painters soon, so can get the whole house done and I don't have to keep telling you how much I hate all the existing colour schemes.

25 October 2007

The Minx's Room

The colour scheme for the Minx's bedroom was pretty much decided after we got a good deal on the pink Nurseryworks 'Storytime' rocking chair.

I decided to incorporate green so that it wouldn't all end up too Barbie, but still be fun for a little girl.  And then we found a strange inflatable 'Frog Prince' at Ikea and decided to build him a 'lily pond' with little flower mats from Target and a cheap and cheerful flower bean bag, which sort of dictated a daisy theme. (Note that in the end we settled for an embroidered quilt from Pottery Barn, which is currently much too big for the Minx's todder bed.)

So this is where we are today.  You will notice that the existing purple walls don't quite fit in.  The main problem with them is that the room is north west facing and so is quite dark during the day so I want to lighten them up quite a lot.

These are the options I'm toying with at the moment.

A pale, not too girly pink

A pinky white

A light celery green

I'm worried that either pink or green would be too 'matchy matchy' and the white will be too boring.

What do you think?

I'm also thinking of getting enormous daisy decals from Apple Pie Designs to funk up the walls a bit, either in silver on a coloured wall, or coloured for a white wall. (Check out great posts on Apple Pie Designs on Decor8 and Designers' Block).

As you can tell I've been playing a lot on the Benjamin Moore site today, and was amused to note that they actually have a paint colour called 'Seattle Grey'.

Which, funnily enough, is exactly the same colour as the view out of our bedroom window this afternoon.

17 October 2007

Fireplace Tales

I've been feeling like a bit of a fraud recently. 

My post on the miraculous Soy Gel paint stripper had been picked up by various people, most notably Apartment Therapy and Not Martha, while all the while my fireplace was still looking like this.

So much for walking the talk.  Please note that this is not because of any problems with said miraculous paint stripper but because of sheer laziness on behalf of the fireplace's new owners.

So, shamed into action, said owners spent last weekend slathering the fireplace with what remained of the miraculous paint stripper.

We again left it overnight, to be greeted by this the following morning.    I have to say that this time, because we used a lot more gloop, the smell was rather unpleasant, but not unbearable and certainly not like it might be causing you a nasty chemical-induced death.

Here's close up of how the paint bubbles up and falls off of its own accord.

After a lot of peeling and a bit of scraping, this is what we ended up with.

As you can see, a 1 quart bottle got rid of most of the red, most of the white layer underneath and quite a lot of the greyish (primer?) under that. We've deliberately kept the upside-down brick pyramid thingies underneath mantel red, as we were thinking of painting them white, and likewise keeping the bricks at the bottom white (thought the Husband did mistakenly put paint stripper on the righthand upside-down brick pyramid thingy, so the paint has bubbled and needs to be sanded).

A new bottle of SoyGel has just arrived from Amazon, so this weekend it's onwards and upwards.  Tune in for another gripping instalment (hopefully) next week.

Online ordering is now back on the site!  It just remains to be seen whether Lynx Internet has indeed lost the entire customer database (thank goodness most of it was uploaded into our separate email database) and the historic order database. It also remains to be seen whether I can sue them for all the additional grey hairs they helped create at the weekend.  

08 September 2007


I was feeling pretty good about my new Alex drawers (finally somewhere to put my gorgeous Marcel Wanders boxes exported from the UK at great expense in March).

Until I saw these glorious Finn Juhl drawers on the Style Files.

I just love the colours, the shape of the drawers and the open-y/close-yness of the whole thing.  What a wonderful piece.  Finn Juhl has been quite the thing in blogland recently.  I'd kill for one of his tiny sofas.

It's funny how things work out sometimes.  I bought the Marcel Wanders boxes on a whim and have been struggling to come up with a place to put them.  And then I bought the Ikea desktop also on a whim and realise they are a match made in heaven.  Some higher power obviously wants me to have a black and white graphic patterned office with pink and red accents. Which is absolutely fine by me.

Please ignore the green walls and er, broken blind. Which must be addressed forthwith. And the huge heap of unfiled magazines and catalogues shoved in the corner, which I'm too embarrassed even to show you.

06 September 2007

A Trip to Ikea

Of course.  It was Labor Day weekend after all.

And a fun time was had by all.  Especially the Minx who became extremely bored and crotchety and miserable until we put her to sleep on top of a pile of rugs in the rug department while the Husband rushed around the warehouse collecting large boxes.  If you were trying to buy a rug in Ikea Seattle on Saturday, I do apologise.

Like most people we have a fair smattering of Ikea around the house - funnily enough even more so here in the US than in London, as it's our only source of cheap European design and we have a much bigger place to fill.

We only went in to get three sets of Alex filing drawers and some Lack shelves for the Minx's toy room but I came away with a purchase that made me extra happy - a new desk! 

Until now the global behemoth that is mirrormirror has been run from an old wooden desk I bought in a junk shop in Islington about fifteen years ago. Which is actually a beautiful old desk - or would be if it were releathered - but is also ridiculously small.  And I am ridiculously disorganised. 

I've been looking out for a replacement for some time, but saw nothing I loved until I saw this, one of Ikea's Vika Glasholm range of interchangeable glass tabletops and legs, which looks like nothing on the website or the catalogue, but which is gorgeous in person. 

It's large, unusual, doesn't show sticky fingerprints too much and throws wonderful shadows when lit directly from above.

It is the sort of desk that makes me want to be the sort of person who always has one perfect bloom in a vase on their desk.


I'm not exactly thrilled by the trestles it's standing on - I hope one day Ikea will add some nice spiky aluminium trestles to its range, but they'll definitely do.

Now I just have to address this lot.

Actually Ikea was the least fun thing we did this weekend.  On Sunday we held a brunch party for a bunch of friends up on the deck, which was huge amounts of fun, and on Monday we went to Bumbershoot  - Seattle's wonderful music and arts festival - which was completely fab. We didn't bother to queue for any of the headline acts, but really enjoyed boogieing to Lyrics Born and Soulive on one of the smaller stages. 

The best thing though, was seeing the Minx's reaction to seeing the Pacific Northwest Ballet.  It's the first time she's seen any ballet - and this was pretty adult-orientated stuff - but she was mesmerised throughout and devastated when the hour-long performances came to an end.  I think a trip to the Nutcracker is in order this Christmas.

27 August 2007

Come Into My Garden Yet Again

Are you bored yet? I promise this is the last garden-related post for now.

To the right of the tree is the area where the swing seat is supposed to be, with ground cover of mint and thyme all ready and waiting.

Speaking of which, thank you for all your suggestions.  I stupidly missed one of the eBay auctions you suggested which would have been ideal, so can only hope that something similar comes up again. 

Or what do you think of this? More within our budget than the egg chair in the same range but I'm worried it's too dark a colour for such a shady spot. I think normal rattan would look better in this area.

Around the tree is a lovely shade garden full of hellebores, acanthus mollis and sarcococca, which looks lovely in the dappled afternoon sunlight

To the right of the swing area is a tangle of geranium Anne Folkard and a most beautiful dark purple heuchera which I found in the garden center this weekend and added myself (don't tell the designer!).  I'm really liking the contrast between the lime green and dark purple leaves.

Against the old wooden fence you can see some penstemon Blackbird.  This was originally specced but the landscapers couldn't source it and brought along penstemon Sour Grape instead which is a slightly bluier purple and which we planted anyway.  But then I saw the real thing in the nursery and had to have it - the slightly redder purple goes so much better with the russets of t echinaceas.  So we spent the weekend replacing the Sour Grapes with the Blackbirds and planting the Sour Grapes in the front garden.  I tell you, it is a curse being fussy about colours.

As you can see from the pictures the lawn is a bit of a disaster.  We couldn't afford new turf, so it has been dressed and re-seeded, but it still seems to me to be entirely composed of weeds, clover and moss, so I'm not sure how good we can get it to look.  A mow would help as well, but we need to buy a new mower first.

This part of garden is also looking the most autumnal with the reddening nandinas against the oak-leafed hydrangeas, which are just starting to turn.



In this corner I've also planted the fabulous Chocolate Cosmos - again found during the weekend's trip to the garden centre.  Not only is this flower the most fantastic deep, deep brown, it also smells of chocolate!  No, I didn't believe it either but it's true.

It wasn't part of the design, but I have to say it's looking good against the crocosmias and the fabulous rusty pink echinacea Big Sky we've got in this part of the garden.

Behind this bed is the new bit of patio which we created at the weekend, where the bins used to be.

We've salvaged the arch, which was one of the only features in the original garden and which directs the eye to the trellis on the back fence, which I'm also hoping will turn less orange over time.

We still need to create a raised bed at the end (not entirely sure how we're going to do that) which will then give us scope to grow lots of climbing plants.  Since the arch was not part of the original design, nothing has been specced to climb it either. 

I've been told that roses don't grow too well in this part of the world, but I'm tempted to try an old-fashioned rambler nevertheless.  Can anyone in the Pacific Northwest recommend a climbing rose that they've seen grown successfully round these parts?  

The rest of the patio is also looking somewhat bare. I really wanted to include low growing lawn camomile between the flagstones.  I can find the dwarf chamomile Treneague everywhere on UK websites but nowhere in the US (I think the idea of a camomile lawn is a peculiarly English romantic dream).  If anyone can suggest somewhere we can find it then I'd be really grateful.  I've Googled it to death and the landscapers can't find it either.

The patio also needs some seating and possibly a firepit.  I like this one, though I'm a bit worried about it's compatibility with the Minx.  I think we'd be most likely to use it in the evenings after she's gone to bed though.  As for chairs, would you believe I'd never seen an Adirondack chair before I came to the US?  I know they're absolutely everywhere here, but I feel we ought to get some - just because it will be fun to have them as a reminder of the US when we finally get back to the UK. Will keep you posted.

Last but not least here is my little herb garden, outside the wall of the house and next to the steps leading up to the patio.

I've currently planted sage, rosemary,  thyme and oregano with Italian parsley and tarragon in other, less dry, areas of the garden. I cannot describe how happy it makes me to have a herb garden at last.

I also cannot believe how deeply I've been bitten by the gardening bug. (I think we've noticed - Ed).  Much looking forward to watching everything grow and develop over the seasons and now keen to get started on the front garden.  And now I have vegetables seeds to plant with the Minx and bulb catalogues to go through....

22 August 2007

Come Into My Garden Again

Echinacea 'Big Sky'

Come in!

The garden gate and fence is looking a bit clunky and orange at the moment, but it should gradually fade to grey over time and be covered with climbing plants. 

As well as jasmine the garden designer also suggested an ampelopsis which I'd never heard of but which looks very pretty and unusual.

On your left as you come up the steps you will see a berberis Royal CloakI wanted to have a barberry in that position and I'm glad we put one in as it echoes beautifully the purples and pinks of the garden beyond.








Continuing Continuing on your left are two espaliered apple trees which form a fence and mark the boundary of the tiny vegetable garden that the Minx and I are going to create.

This part of the garden looks a heck of a lot better when there isn't an electric blue PT Cruiser parked in the driveway.


I first came across the idea of using espaliered trees as fences when we went to visit the bulb fields in the Spring (here they are fencing off a carpark, not in my garden), so I was thrilled that they could be incorporated into the garden scheme. 








I'm very excited about these trees as they have each have four types of apple on them - Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala and Fuji.  Only the Golden Delicious look like they'll be fruiting this season though.

The area to the left of the tree is currently one of the most colourful parts of the garden as it includes a very happy croscosmia Emily Mackenzie (and a very unhappy brown specimen beside her)

and some echinacea purpurea magnus behind her in the raised bed behind the tree.

Unfortunately there are a few plants missing from the scheme as it is late in the season and the landscapers were unable to source them. For example, there is supposed to be a filipendula where the bright green flag now is.










The spiders love this part of the garden too.

I'll show you the rest of the garden tomorrow otherwise this post will explode due to sheer weight of pictures.

Come Into My Garden

Once upon a time there was a poor neglected garden, that was nothing more than a huge raised bed covered with a very raggedy lawn and an ancient cherry tree at the back.

And then the gardeners came, and started to weave their magic.

By the end of day two it looked like this.









And by the end of day three, the stone wall was finished and the footings for the fence were complete. Except, the wall had been built in the wrong place.

That's better.  End of day 4 and all the landscaping is done.


And then the plants started to arrive.  In order to save money our heroine and her handsome prince had agreed to do all the planting themselves, so they put the little princess into nursery for the day and set to work.

And they worked. And worked.

Our heroine had never worked so hard in all her life.  Maybe this would help shrink her blogger's boobs?

Finally it was all done, except for some echinaceas which were mistakenly citron yellow rather than rusty pink. And our heroine and the handsome prince were very happy.

When the weekend dawned they were so into their garden that they decided to change the bit of scrub near the back stairs - which had not been included in the original plans for the garden -  into an extra bit of patio, leaving space to create a raised bed later on. Oh, they were so proud of themselves.

And then the magic gardeners came back, planted the right colour echinaceas, mulched everything and added some trellis to the wall.





And the garden looked beautiful.

                                          THE END

                        (I'll show you round tomorrow)

10 August 2007

Just Hanging About

I need your help again.

One of the first things I specced into the garden design was a wicker or rattan hanging egg chair, and I was delighted when other people picked up on the idea. But I had no idea it would be so difficult to source one here in the US.

Habitat in the UK had a great one of course (oh how I miss that shop), at a very reasonable price (£55 about $110) but it's now sold out and there's no way I could have transported it over here anyway.







Unicahome, of course, imports the original and very beautiful ones from Europe but they are fiendishly expensive and far too good to keep outdoors.







I found another one which I love and which would be perfect, but is located in New Zealand

and another one in the US which looks very similar to me but is still far too expensive.

So does anyone have any other ideas?

The whole design for the garden depends upon you. 

Up very early tomorrow to get the Clipper to Victoria to visit my friend there for a long weekend.  Since we're in a gardening frame of mind, a visit to the very amazing-looking Butchart Gardens is on the agenda.

07 August 2007

Garden is Go!

The landscapers have begun. 

Most of the structural work should be completed this week.  Then, next week, the topsoil will be added and the plants laid out in their correct positions.  And then the Husband and I are going to do all the planting ourselves, something we agreed to in an effort to cut costs. We must have been stark, staring mad. 

Here are some befores and a picture of where we are after day one. 

Garden before

I've been really enjoying the process of working with the designer.  After getting the brief he drew up some ideas and a preliminary list of plants and we've been batting ideas back and forth ever since. 

I doubt I've been the easiest client they've ever had. I've discovered that I've got very definite plant likes and dislikes, and I keep requesting obscure cultivars I've found on UK websites but Bryan has been patience personified and I'm really pleased with what we've ended up with. 





Garden at end of day 1

For those of you who might be interested here are the final plans. Bear in mind that the rendering of the patio area has a fence in front for entrapment of the Minx.  The original brief I gave the designer is here.

01 August 2007


With apologies to Lottie.

The deck is now finished. And accessorised mostly as I would like, with the exception of the loungers which I still do not love.

In the end, after being warned off the Eames wire chairs, even with their cute bikinis, we went for these Ronde chairs, which, yes, can be found in cafes all over Europe.  I like their lightness, in contrast to the heaviness of the dark wood all around, and the way their curves echo the curves of the seating, the Marimekko poppies and the curvy tealight-holder from Crate and Barrel which wraps nicely round the umbrella.

Apologies for contrasty pics.  It's bright up there! I'll try and take some better ones in the softer evening light.

The Marimekko cushions have also arrived, accompanied by Marimekko placemats and coasters.  Overkill quite possibly but they were all in the sale after all. If you're in a Marimekko frame of mind check out Lottie's lovely pics here.

And I'm almost most pleased with the deck box, from Amazon of all places, which is exactly the right colour and fits in perfectly.

The new umbrella over the table is white, since none of you guys could tell me where to get a lilac one.  I'd still like a lilac one if truth be told. And a hammock.

But mostly we are just loving it up here.

We eat up here every night and the Minx has the ultimate pool with a view, which she adores and which is proving to be a great place to entertain various mothers and toddlers.  The toddlers splash and eat cupcakes in the pool, the mothers drink mojitos and everything and everyone can be hosed down afterwards.  Making it entirely my idea of a good party.

21 July 2007

More Rug Insanity

This house is blessed with several acres of wooden floors and not a single carpeted area.  Add the fact that we only possess one smallish and grotty old rug, which is currently in the Minx's toy room,  and you will understand why I'm currently on a rug buying frenzy.

Thanks to Patrick- from-Emma-Gardner's (actually I think he's her husband) very generous discount, the Spray rug is now on order and should be with us in about 20 weeks.

And then he very kindly offered me an even better discount if I wanted to buy more rugs.  What girl could resist?

So, for the main room downstairs,

we've chosen this instead of the Angela Adams rug I blogged about previously. 

I'm hoping the Citron green will fit in with the mood board and the flowers and circles will have a modern feel, without being too bold and overwhelming the room. 

And yes, I know we will soon have to talk about the ugly but extremely comfortable nursing chair between the fireplace and the bookshelf.




picture courtesy of Emma Gardner

We've also chosen a runner for the upstairs landing.  

This is the design we've chosen but have asked for it in custom colours so that it will complement the Spray rug which will be visible in the bedroom.

I do actually like the colours shown here, but thought I should go  go a bit more neutral since we haven't yet decided on the schemes for the kitchen and bathroom.

Here are the four design options I had to choose from.  I think I've made up my mind but am wondering which one you would have chosen.  Remember it's to complement this.







Which one would you choose?

Option 1                             Option 2                            Option 3

Create polls and vote for free.

28 June 2007

The Garden of Eden

The old cherry tree is absolutely alive with cherries and birds with whom we are engaged in all-out warfare, and the orchard ladder kindly donated by the previous owners is on constant standby, so that we can grab the fruit the instant it ripens and before the birds make off with it.

We picked our first bounty at the weekend and this is what we made.

22 June 2007

Shuffling the Deck

So first the good news.  The deck is FINALLY finished.  A project that was supposed to take 3 days has ended up taking about six weeks (not continuously). During which we've had enormous loungers lounging in our bedroom.

This what the deck looked like when we first moved in.

The built-in furniture was very weathered and dirty and dangerous for a small child, who could potentially climb from the benches onto the tables and then topple over the sides.  The horizontal railings were also an invitation to toddler suicide.  There was also a large gas grill just hanging about in the middle of the floor.

Our initial spec to Mr Handyman was to power wash the deck and furniture, fix glass over the railings, remove the ends of the benches so that it would be impossible for a child to climb from the benches onto the tables, build some sort of small barrier across the back of the benches and stain and paint everything.

And then we asked him to see if he could actually remove the railings and insert plexiglass between the uprights, and then the safety barriers became much smarter than I had envisaged, and we decided to embed the grill into the table.  All of which needed a lot more carpentry than originally planned for.

And then poor Dan the Handyman was either collapsing with heat exhaustion from working all day on a deck with no shade or else dodging torrential rain showers, not exactly ideal weather for staining and painting (this is Seattle, remember?)

But I'm super thrilled with the results.

The 'windows' at the front work really well - completely toddler proof and yet maximising the view. 

The 'windows' round the edge are what I'm most pleased with.  We thought they were a necessary evil with a toddler, but they have turned out to be very unobtrusive and like they're meant to be there, not just an ugly safety feature.

I also nearly had kittens when the woodstain first went on.  We'd chosen a very dark stain because of the condition of the wood but halfway through the process I was having SERIOUS second thoughts and wondering how on earth we could get rid of it.

But it looked a load better once we lightened the colour on the railing (from its original bilious yellow) and painted the floor a much lighter colour.

I'm hoping it looks quite chic and contemporary and, what with the million dollar view, it feels at the moment like we're on holiday at a luxury hotel.  I have to pinch myself to remember that we actually live here.  How lucky are we? 

And the bad news? 

I'm really not very happy with the loungers.  I was looking for something more sleek and contemporary but couldn't find anything which wasn't either imported from Europe at vast expense or very uncomfortable-looking. (UK readers, do you have any idea how lucky you are having Habitat?  It's one of the things I miss most about the UK).  

In the end I succumbed to the blandishments (and moving-in discount) of Pottery Barn and now really wish I hadn't.  The loungers are extremely comfortable and well made, but very large and solid and clunky-looking. 

And I don't know what on earth possessed me to buy them in red.  I bought them online and it looked like a darker, pinkier red on screen.  But these are very red indeed.  I've contacted Pottery Barn and they're going to change them for cushions in a very unappetising sounding Sprout Green (their customer service is truly excellent), but I'm seriously considering sending back the loungers themselves.  Now that I've discovered Teak, Wicker and More, I can see that I have some much nicer options at affordable prices. But I'm not sure I can go through the hassle of lugging the loungers downstairs, sending them back and waiting for new ones, when there are chocolate martinis to be drunk and lounging to be done.

What do you guys think?  

21 June 2007

SoyGel Paint Stripper

                                                            Or magic in a bottle.

And so, against the advice of the majority, I decided to experiment with stripping back the bright red fireplace.

After lots of online research, I came across a product which is apparently 100% made from soybeans, is non-toxic and practically odour free ie. the perfect thing if one has a small girl running about.  The thick gel also encapsulates the paint, reducing the risk of airborne particles, which is particularly reassuring when lead paint might be involved.

So I bought some, not believing for one moment that it would work.  We spread the gel on thickly overnight and woke up the next morning to find this  

Which a bit of work with a scraper (the paint by this stage is all soft and gloopy) and a wire brush in the grout, soon turned into this.  They still need another clean and a wax, but I think they're pretty much there.  And no paint to be seen.

So what do you think?

Should I persevere?  They're not the most beautiful bricks in the world and I'm a bit worried about the whole thing seeming too heavy and dark (will definitely get rid of the horrible dark stove at some point), but I think they have a certain charm.

If I do continue, has anyone got any ideas as to what I could put into those three recesses?  Something interesting and fun which will lighten the whole thing up and break up the big expanse of brick.

I'm currently thinking something syroco, spray painted lime green or tangerine (thanks to Pink Loves Brown for the idea).  In fact something like those bronze panels she's just bought would be perfect.  (I haven't run this past the Husband yet though).  But has anyone got any other thoughts?  Tiles?  Plaster reliefs? Ironwork? Mosaic?

Excuse the prosaic title of this post, but I really want people to be able to find this post when they search.

14 June 2007

Much Rug Excitement

Sometimes I'm really pleased I started this blog.

After I wrote my post about my Emma Gardner rug pipedream, the wonderful Patrick from the company emailed me and offered me a trade discount. And then I measured up and found that I could get away with a comparatively small rug, and that if we didn't eat for a hundred years, we could just about afford it.

And then I focused on the fact that a silk rug really isn't compatible with a small girl in the main living area, and that it doesn't really fit into my mood board at all and decided to commission it for the small sitting area in our bedroom instead.  It should be ready in 16-20 weeks time and I am completely beside myself with excitement.

Do you think it goes with that Designer's Guild wallpaper? From these images it looks like the blues are not quite compatible and that it might be altogether too much of a good thing.  But samples of both will be obtained for your consideration.



In the meantime, I think I've sourced a rug for the main room.  What do you think of this?

It's an Angela Adams 'Lulu' rug - strangely appropriate some might say.  

I've only seen them in blue before but saw this online and think the colour and the contemporary curves would fit really well into the scheme below. (That's what I love about mood boards - they make decision making so much easier).

The only problem about ordering this now is that I've still got a red fireplace and yellow walls and I think a lime green rug might be altogether a bit much. MUST.FIND.PAINTERS. 

04 June 2007

Me and my expensive tastes

Image from Emma Gardner Design

So I thought it would make sense to source a beautiful rug for the main room and take things from there, rather than deciding on a colour scheme and then struggling to find a rug to fit in.

And today I thought I'd found my inspiration when I came across Emma Gardner's gorgeous rugs - especially the Spray design above.  Having searched online for stockists it appears that the only slight snag is the price at $10,950.  Come to think of it, the words 'hand-knotted Chinese Silk on Tibetan Wool ground' sounded a bit dangerous.

Can anyone suggest where I might be able to source a beautiful rug in the US?  Ideally I'm looking for sophisticated pastel shades (think Vanessa Bruno) with perhaps a contemporary floral design (oh, the above is SO perfect). 

And somewhat cheaper than the above would be helpful or else I'm going to have to sell the Minx.

17 May 2007

More Kitchen Inspiration

Pic from Sunset via  Decor8

Holly over on Decor8 has just posted this picture as part of a discussion about purple and I am madly in love with it for all sorts of reasons.

Loving the mix of aqua and lavender and may now have to revise my kitchen colour scheme to include some of the latter (wouldn't a really knocked back lavender look lovely with my breadbin?)  Loving the way this mixes traditional elements such as subway tiles and wood planking with more contemporary elements such as stainless steel, up-to-date colours and freestanding pieces.  Just loving that breakfast bar/island thingymajig, period.

The photo is of course made by the splash of orange in the middle, though the curly display stand thingy is the only thing in the kitchen I don't like. 

I'm SO excited about the deck!  Mr Handyman is doing the most incredible job, and while there has been, as the Husband would put it, a certain amount of 'feature creep' and it's taking longer than billed, the end result is going to be spectacular. Photos soon.

14 May 2007

Garden Desires

So here's the brief I gave Brian the garden designer.

- Colour scheme as above.  Lots of orange, purple and hot pink with dark purple and dark green foliage and maybe the odd splash of lime green.

- 'Messy' planting contained within strong structural shapes

-  A tiny camomile lawn somewhere (a romantic dream of mine ever since reading 'The Camomile Lawn')

- a little herb garden

- a 'New Dawn' rose.  Both my previous gardens have had one and it will make me feel at home

- room for one of these under the cherry tree

- a patch of earth where the Minx and I can grow things ourselves.  She has so far announced that she would like to grow a 'hee-yooooge punkin' as in the seminal gardening tome  'Meg's Veg'.

I think we need a bigger garden. 

In the meantime someone who calls himself Mr Handyman is coming tomorrow to pressure wash the roof deck, stain the furniture, paint the deck floor and fix plexiglass to the railings to make it more kid friendly. So hopefully there'll be some before and after shots to show you before too long.

05 May 2007

Garden Design

So on Wednesday I had my first chat with a garden designer.

The previous owners had plans drawn up last year to redo the front and back yards and we're piggybacking off the plans they had done to get the back garden sorted out (the front garden will have to wait until next year or until we win the lottery).

I'm a bit nervous about the process as we didn't do as much research as we should have done into Seattle-based designers, nor did we get any competitive quotes - the completed plans lying on the kitchen countertops were just too tempting, as the was the fact that the company specialises in organic gardening. But Brian seemed lovely and very amenable to my ideas (which he called 'fun'. This could of course be a euphemism.)

I've never worked with an interior or garden designer before and I'm really looking forward to the experience. I sort of know what I like when it comes to gardens, but don't know much at all about what goes where, what grows where and how to group plants together. Fortunately the climate in the Pacific North West is so similar to that of the UK that many of the plants I love the most should grow well here.

At the moment the garden is decidedly oddly configured, with a down-at- heel patio that seems to be expressly designed to draw you away from the lawn and towards the very un-picturesque driveway, and with a wall round the lawn which acts as a barricade. Even the Minx seems confused when she goes outside as to whether she's 'allowed' to climb the steps and run about on the lawn.

We're going to rejig the previous plans somewhat so that there is a definite progression from a pretty seating area to a small area of lawn; some sort of fence and gate to the left to trap in the Minx, and lots of underplanting round the tree (which is currently a mass of weeds).  As for planting - I didn't even look at what the previous owners had requested, as I've got a pretty good idea that their taste will not exactly coincide with mine.

03 May 2007

Kitchen Inspiration

Look what the postman brought me today!

It's apparently a genuine 50s enamel breadbin found in some warehouse in Holland.  Or that was the Ebay seller's story anyway.  Actually the condition bears this out - its definitely vintage and is in pretty much mint condition, with the manufacturer's sticker on the lid. 

And it goes very nicely with my butter dish (china made to look like vintage tupperware, I'm definitely going to get some of those in the shop) and my very favourite Le Creuset spatulas.  The colour scheme for the downstairs kitchen is now pretty much a done deal, I would say.

27 April 2007

Bedroom Wallpaper

On a complete tangent, since I don't think we're going to be focusing on the bedroom for quite some time, I saw this wallpaper by Designer's Guild advertised today and fell totally and utterly in love. 

Worth a feature wall surely? 

Now I just need to find a stockist somewhere in the US.  One day soon I'm going to have to transfer my loyalties from UK designers and UK companies, because it's going to start getting really expensive.

25 April 2007


Am very happy with my first Ebay purchase for the Minx's bedroom. 

I don't particularly want her to have very babyish decor - just art and pictures which are jolly and cheerful which she can treasure over the years.  She is already very fond of her 'lady' and likes to discuss the colours of the flowers and and her clothes and the 'Christmas trees'. 

I like it because it's beautifully worked in cross stitch on linen which has turned slightly brown with age, and because I rather like the sentiments expressed.  It's nice to think that all the work that someone put into this will continue to be appreciated (at least by me) and I'm glad the Minx will have something old and loved in her room aside from all the plastic tat. I might have to reframe it at some point though, as the fact that the central line isn't straight is really bugging me. (It's tough being a Virgo).

Unlike my agonies of indecision about the main living and dining room, the scheme for the Minx's bedroom is crystallizing apace in my mind and packages are arriving from various online shops at frightening speed.  I'll put a bunch of pictures up together so you can see how it's coming along when I get a moment.

In the meantime think green and pink, flowers and frog princes. 

17 April 2007

Fireplace Thoughts

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all your votes and comments on the fireplace poll.  Tons of food for thought, though with 'paint it white' and 'paint it and the walls toning colours' running neck and neck, you've also confused me further.

Here's where my thinking is heading so far, which is not very far.

I'm slightly reluctant to paint it white as there are already a lot of white-painted features in the room (bookshelves and wall panelling) and I feel the fireplace needs to be differentiated somehow.  And I know that once it's painted white it will stay white.

At the moment my thinking on this room is headed in one of two ways.  To keep the basics of the room white or neutral, but then to furnish it with zingy, bright accessories as in this picture from the ever-inspirational Decor8 (though standing next to the fireplace all day wearing a tangerine minidress would surely get a bit boring after a while). In which case stripped (the fireplace, not me) as here, might be the best way to go.  However, I've never done neutral before, and am wondering if I'd get a bit bored of it, however zingy the accessories. Also I'm a bit apprehensive about horror stories I've heard about stripping back paint, am worried about lead paint with a little girl around and don't think my bricks will be as pretty as those below.

Option two in my mind is to paint the whole thing a lovely soft celadon green with white trim as here (pic again from Decor8) and keep things a bit more muted. In which case the fireplace could either go white, or a perhaps a slightly darker soft sage green.

However, in the UK most of our fireplaces are white, so it would feel odd to paint it  another colour. (Am I right in thinking that most people who voted for 'paint it a toning colour' are from the US?)  The other problem here is the stained glass in yellow and raspberry, which I'm not sure will go at all (though maybe raspberry accents will help?)

Di and co, I hear you about changing the mantle.  However the current mantle is, I think, original, and has been been beautifully crafted to work with the raised brickwork on the fireplace, so I feel I ought to be respectful of it.

Adding some texture to the inserts would be lovely.  Does anyone know what sort of thing would have been added here originally?  I was assuming tile, but there doesn't seem to be any evidence of tiles having been applied.

Elizabeth, I know next to nothing about feng shui but am very willing to give it a go if it will make me happier and more prosperous!  This room is to the bottom left of the grid, with the East facing wall running along the bottom (the wall with the fireplace and stained glass faces South).  Any advice based on that?

Can you hear my confusion? I'm going to try and get my head round this over the next week or so and start getting a mood board together, at which point we'll do another poll.  I also need to pull together the key inspiration pieces I want to use in this room. In the meantime. any further thoughts or suggestions would be very welcome.

12 April 2007

Over to you

Given that, unlike some, I don't have a remote interior designer, I was wondering whether you guys would like to help out with the process of designing the new house.

So welcome to the first mirrormirror 'interactive interior designer' poll. 

Though I don't promise to always act on your advice, I'm genuinely interested to hear what you think.  Please expand on your ideas if necessary in the comments box and if you want, let me know in the comments which country you're from.  It will be fascinating to see if we get international differences of opinion.


Create polls and vote for free.

NB. Option 4 is unlikely to be the right answer



Exhibit 1 is the bright red fireplace in the main sitting room, which has a large window facing east and smaller stained glass windows in yellow and faded red facing south.  The room is flooded with light in the morning and remains very light for most of the day. (By the way, we're going to be discussing/dissing the wallcolour and the stove at a later date)

So, what would you do with the fireplace it if you were me? 

07 April 2007

Life is a bowl of cherries

Look what splendour awaited us in our tiny 'backyard' when we returned from London.


This old cherry tree is immense, dominates the pocket handkerchief lawn and was looking astonishingly beautiful on the glorious Spring day which greeted us.






The previous owners also left us a very charming note bequeathing us their orchard ladder and cherry pitter.











Please forward all your favourite cherry recipes to yours truly - I think they're going to be needed.

28 March 2007

The street where we live

 was looking quite insanely pretty the day we moved in.

Note to self.  Don't ever, ever, ever move house and pack to go away on the same weekend. (Written sitting in the bathroom in the middle of the night at our hotel in London. I love jetlag.)

23 March 2007

Housewarming present

Yesterday we bought the house its first present.

On the way back from signing the closing documents with the escrow company, we decided to pop into fab new Seattle children's furniture store tottini, ostensibly to try and find a beautiful storage unit for the Minx's new playroom.

They didn't have a storage unit but they did have the above 'Storytime' rocking chair on sale for an excellent price.  There's nothing the Minx and I like more than cuddling up together in an armchair and reading a story and I've been looking for a rocking chair for ages.  This has been specially designed to be extra wide to accommodate an adult and small child, so I'm hoping we've years of snuggling ahead of us. And I have a sneaking suspicion that when she's a teenager she might still want to have it in her room.

The only slight issue was the colour.  The one on sale was upholstered in bright pink felt (see below).  I didn't particularly want the Minx's room to have too much pink (though some is sadly inevitable).  However I think I can just about live with this.

Speaking of furniture for the Minx, the first thing I need to buy as a matter of urgency, given all the cr*p she has managed to accumulate,  is a functional but attractive modular storage unit.

But I have no idea where to find such a thing so far.  The one I like best online so far is this by John Lewis, though the picture below doesn't do it much justice.  It comes with mix and match cubbies and bins in lime green, lavender. aqua and pink and also with single cubes, so you can create more interesting shapes and add to the structure over time.



I also quite like these from Letterbox, another UK-based company, though they're more expensive, and I don't like the colours so much.


So, where can I get something similar in the US?  I'd like something functional, funky, and not too expensive (given that it's for a kid's playroom), preferably with bins or drawers rather than shelves as they look tidier and in colours which aren't too hideous (though I will paint as necessary). Oh and I don't do twee.

After browsing for an hour or two online this afternoon, I can't find anything and have no idea where to look next. While I was searching though, I did find this cool blog about good design for children - Coochicoos.