When you go out into a garden, any garden, there will inevitably be some form of seating – a bench, couple of patio chairs, swing settee underneath a canopy . . . . . . the variety is endless and for the most part, each will be lovingly popped into the garage or shed for protection over the worst of the winter. What we don’t need to do however is decorate anything outside very often. Unlike in the house – the internal decor is very important to us. How a room looks says a great deal about us ad our personality. Take the uniquitous cream 3 seater leather sofa and matching armchair. I have one set exactly so – plus another matching 2 seater sofa, which is in my family room. The set was bought new as we waited for our house to be built – a well known furnishing store was closing down and they had a tremendous sale. We managed to buy three beds, complete with matresses and headboards; the sofas and armchair and lots of large pictures from their display settings – it would have cost a fortune if the shop wasn’t closing. I’m sure if there had been online sites, he would have managed a bargain like that – I like to think so.
Kitchens are a very personal matter. Well so are most things in our own houses of course, but how we like to work in a kitchen is a critical to our existence. I don’t do a lot of cooking these days, or I didn’t until a little while ago when I realised I’d fallen into the trap that many singletons do – eating any old thing for the main meal, because it’s easy and quick and I’d lost interest in the fundamental art of choosing food and cooking a decent meal for myself. However I have recently started to try different recipes and have actually enjoyed the process of sitting and thinking about what I’d actually find tasty and how I want to cook it. Having a modern kitchen helps. Mine’s not overly large – but I have work space and lots of useful cupboards. The overn has a pull down door which helps with weighty dishes, and I’m only now, years after moving in, discovering the joy of having a utility room separate from the main concourse!
Taking time to sort out what decor one wants in an area of the house can be very time consuming and the start of many an argument amongst those that live there but don’t contribute! I have found this amongst some of my friends who’s adult children have come home to nest again. There was a feeling some years ago that the kids had left home and it was now the adults’ time to stretch wings and make some time for their own travels and hobbies. Not a hope now. The grown up toddlers are back from uni, usually earning reasonably but not well enough to buy a house of their own. But when mum and dad want to start decorating their own house, you’d be amazed how many of the returners suddenly find their voice and make objections. They have read the magazines and seen the high ideals of city life. But they don’t want to pay for it!
With space for housing becoming quite a problem in towns and cities, the infill method of extending out is very popular now. It needs a really good interior designer to look at a space and be able to envisage it as a new kitchen or bathoom. I know of a young couple who live in a suburb of London. They struggled like mad to get that first property and had to pay half a million for a very narrow, dark house that had been created out of the partitioning of two others. They now have a baby and needed to build out themselves – into the only bit of space available. Velux roof lights have made such a difference – they have a large bifold patio door out from the kitchen and the bathroom now resides in what was the store room. Again additional ceiling mounted windows was the only means of getting any light in. Fantastic space – is has just been sold for another few hundred thousand.
The neat and very smart furnishing themes of the 190s are back with a bang. I was looking at a couple of very high end inerior design and decor magazines last week and to my absolute delight, they were featuring the beautiful little dining set we still use that my mother was given second hand in 1965. It still has the little blue labels underneath each piece to show it’s makers mark, date and piece number. We have looked after it over the years and it has given us immense pleasure. It’s even nicer now when younger, hip city professionals amongst our relatives come round for a meal and covet my dining suite big time! I’m so glad that when we were having to empty the bungalow when mother had to move to a care home, we each had a choice of what to take – I named the dining set and it has been my total pleasure to own.
When we were clearing out an aged aunt’s furniture and effects from her little bungalow, it didn’t seem such a bad job – we all thought it would take half an hour if we all mucked in. My word that was a gross mis calculation of time over effort! I can’t imagine where all the glassware, cooking pans and stuff came from originally, but we packed box load after box load into our cars for redistribution around various relatives and charity shops. The very basic cabinets in her kitchen seemed absolutely tiny in comparison with the massive ones we enjoy today – how things have advanced from the 1980s when that bungalow was considered the latest in luxury living. When we come to sell it, the new folk will immediately rip out everything and replace with hi end glossy gorgeousness. Oh and the bathroom will need a complete gut and rebuild – it makes me shudder now!
I must say that having a large and cumbersome leather four seater sofa in the main sitting room, and its little sister, a two seater, in the family room, it is easy to be a bit careless with food and drink. The arms on the smaller sofa seem to jump at me sometimes – and my cuppa often spills down the sides. But unlike with a beautiful floral or tweed number, it doesn’t get wrecked. I leap out of the seat and fetch my leather cleaner spray and a clean cloth. A couple of sprays and wipes and bob’s your uncle as they say.
That is not the way forward with some furniture though and if I had one of those divine danish light ash wooden table and chair sets, then obviously I would be taking much greater care of them. No banging around with the vacuum cleaner for a start – more damage is sustained that way than with coffee I feel!
I’ve never been a pet lover of the type that lets pets sit on chairs or my bed. In fact I’m not that keen on anyone else going near my bed, animal or human. It’s funny how we get used to having our own private, personal space. I have waivered over the years and at last I am happy in my own house with my own choice of furniture and fabrics. The walls are the same throughout because when I last had the place decorated, the chap was over for a holiday from his own home and only had two weeks in which to do my work. He did carry out the total redecoration of the downstairs. I gave great assistance by emptying and moving various peices of furniture and cleaning around the walls etc. before he began. And any visiting dogs just have to stay put in the parlour – after my gargantuan decorating, they’re not welcome!
Oh how I laughed to myself the other day when returning from a birthday weekend with family. They’d asked me to sit in to take delivery of a pet food delivery whilst they went pet training. As we were already going out the next day, I accepted the chance to sleepover at their fabulous country pile. The light there just seems bigger, shinier – cleaner! They have a lovely big kitchen but now want a studio to design it properly for best ergonomic use. They also have a beautifully designed and themed lounge, with a big tv that I thought made all nature programmes come more alive than on my scruffy little set. Well when I returned home – to my delight there was a bigger tv installed in my sitting room – with a huge red ribbon & bow attached. My recent hosts had fixed the delivery plot to get me out of the house ! Such delight.
I have had the joy of helping a young couple move to their ‘forever’ home. This does seem a bit unlikely as they are both in their late 20s/early 30s but they found the whole business of selling their first house very stressful and have decided that they’ve already found the perfect spot to live out their very much longer retirement period. I suspect they will go house hunting again in a couple of years. When they’ve done everything they can to the current beauty and have got exceedingly bored. Gettig this house right has been wonderful fun though. They saw it when it was an empty shell – a conversion of a victorian building. They’ve agreed all the way along – perhaps differing only on a few small points. The decor is indeed magnificent and because the chap is a very good organiser and fixer, he has done a fantastic job getting their deals into place.