Category: house

Borders x

Chelsea Flower Show starts this week which means all things leafy and green. It’s made me think about our garden plans again and re-query the sticking points, one of which raised borders, yes or no, pros and cons, what material, where and how high?

There is a practical reason for wanting raised beds – we have a patio that requires power washing every year, but in the process the plants in the beds get waterlogged and generally die which means I’m in the same position each year looking at my sad, dying borders. Besides there’s something delicious about sharp edged, rendered borders, particularly when they’re painted dark.

Except I have a strong, internal design rule that like women, things outside should be able to age so that they look better with every passing year with the accumulated patina adding to their interest.  The obvious answer would be box hedging: great on the eye.  But wouldn’t solve the water logging problem. And we have the dreaded Box Tree Caterpillar, which destroyed the box hedge we used to have.

A brick wall would be fab.  But expensive.  So thoughts are currently leaning towards railway sleepers: Natural, dark and reasonable price bracket with the Brucie bonus of almost instant satisfaction.

(All pics Pinterest)

I need to sleep on it.

Laters, Kate x

Update x

The crochet is going great guns, particularly as we’ve come up with the perfect project to encourage repetition, practise and ideal tension: We’re making what can only be called ‘little socks’ for my dining rooms chairs to replace those sticky pads that only work to gather dog hair.

We did experiment with a garden string and twine, but for ease of make we’re going with a thick grey wool, though we’re both anxious about longevity – time will tell.

It also helps that the six chairs round the table are back with their newly woven seating, looking enticing.

So that’s only seven chairs and twenty eight more socks to go..

Laters, Kate x

Design Hero 1

Those true, authentic, all singing, all dancing design heroes – the things that not only work well, look good, but also punch high above their weight in terms of financial outlay and usability.  And for us, this £12 Nisse Ikea chair has to be up there at the top…we bought 6 of them for the garden four years ago, more as a stop-gap than anything else, but they’ve proved their weight in gold: They spend their lives outside, except when we have dinner parties or Christmas or birthday, then they get wiped down and in they come, still looking as good as the day we bought them. They’re light, flexible, sturdy and generally a brucie bargain – it helps that their light is shining more brightly at the moment as our ‘proper’ dining room chairs have gone to be re-woven, re-caned, re-woke…

(This is a pic of one of the less trashed seats…one was so bad it could be used as a commode.  That’s baaaaaad.)

But you’d never know these were the ugly sister.

(All pics Ikea)

 

Tres chic and tres cheap.

Laters, Kate x

Splashing Back x

Oh the unbridled joy of the hunt: I have found a company in Oxfordshire – The Douglas Watson Studio –  that specialises in English handmade and hand painted ceramic tiles.  And what beauties they produce..

 

The price point is high, but certainly cheaper than originals: Roughly £15 – £25 per tile on a sliding algorithm of less colour, less cost.

 

(Pics from The Douglas Watson Studio and Pinterest)

Tiles in situ: Such a small area to cover really………………

Laters, Kate x

A project x

There’s a project gaining traction, think space and do-ability: An office pod in the garden.  It’s been mooted before – it almost happened last year, but the husband was between jobs so it wasn’t the right time.  But the green light is now on to start thinking, planning and budgeting because I’ve worked out over the years, the more time you give to these three, the less it all costs because you work out whats important.  And what’s not.

The pod will need to be heated and although I love the romance of a proper stove, I believe in London, with concerns over air pollution and consideration to our neighbours, a cunning side step to an electric copy, like we did in the cellar will be the way to go: It will provide the visual representation, the heat, but none of the negatives.

Besides there’s always the joy of what goes round the stove..a small area to tile means flex in choice!

At present is a toss up between the modern approach of concrete tiles with large, dramatic patterns.

Or – and I was reminded of this option after seeing this picture of Alexandra Tolstoy’s cottage and splashback – a blue and white delft option.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if you could create your own? Pictures of coded memories??

(All pics Pinterest)

 

Decisions, decisions…

Laters, Kate x

Do fashions for wreaths change each year? Possibly is probably the answer – because despite the dogs being blinged to their eyeballs (including the recent addition of festive dark glasses, a cunning buy from a party shop) the pull for me for wreaths has become pared back natural.  Sadly our wreath of many years doesn’t quite hit the spot is on the door – it’s  simple version of fir cones except they’re covered in glitter, and every time someone brushes past, a fir cone falls to the ground..I think a bit of tender loving DIY is needed or it’ll become it’s own epitaph..

The perfect excuse for a little bit of Christmas craft. And breathe.

Laters, Kate x

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Exterior x

It was my birthday yesterday – Yippeee me! Meet my presents – Alfie and Bear, the two best dogs ever who now bookend the front door in regal fashion, the finishing touch to the newly painted exterior which finally can get it’s unveiling.

We also have new window boxes, made to size from a great company on Etsy so they sit properly within the window frame.  The black of the boxes contrasts the graphite of the paintwork.

The boxes have been planted with ivy to soften and tumble over edges, heucheras for their colour and cyclamen as they were the only white plant readily available at this time of year.  At some point trailing white geraniums will be added. It will be a pleasure to see the living wave of colour and white expanding and flowing out over the window sill.  I’m even thinking about adding them to the first floor.

 

The painted graphite on the outside of the house has been dramatic.  It has given the whole house a presence, made it feel bigger, added a modern gloss without compromising its history.

 

Very happy.

Laters, Kate x

 

 

The dark side x

The exterior of the house has been undergoing it’s dramatic transformation to the dark side…the scaffolding is now down but there’s a still few bits to go before the grand reveal: The front step is being taken back to stone, the letter box is changing to brass and I’ve ordered shiny black window boxes for the ground floor bay to act as a contrast to the dark grey…they’ll work a bit like the new black drainpipe does, drawing the line between black and not – without them I think the eye will register only black.  I’m after bright green trailing foliage and white flowers to balance the drama. Finally all the stone in the front garden needs a good blast to bring out it’s colour…it’s interesting times…

 

Laters, Kate x

 

 

 

Poo tree..

The clouds are a watercolourist’s delight today, grey leeching into darker grey with the foreboding promise of a deluge, which is a bit of a concern as we have a tree-back-slash-large-bush that has developed the questionable power of smelling like dog shit every time there’s rain. It’s potency is so far reaching that innocent pedestrians have be known to check the soles of their shoes when they walk by.  Whilst the comical delight is strong, the aroma is not but I think I’ve finally discovered the culprit…

The source of this sick joke is the viburnum beetle, an insidious little creature whose larvae not only manages to munch away at the leaves, but also passes a very smelly excrement that seems to come into it’s own in damp conditions.

For something so powerful to be coming from something so small and not furry with four legs and fed on meat is quite mind blowing.

Help is at hand..this is my first choice of action as recommended by various websites.  After that it’s adios bush, which would be rather a shame…but this is war. And I will win, if only for my nose and the postman.

 

Laters, Kate x

 

Linen

It was our anniversary a few days ago, in fact it was the first one in eighteen years we’ve ever spent apart – here’s to the next 18 being similarly fortunate. But how to mark it? The best idea seemed to be something that could stand the test of time, age gracefully, be enjoyed by both of us….and was suitably low maintenance: A complete linen bed set is an investment, but for me, it ticks all the special boxes….a bit like my husband…

 

Laters, Kate x