If Harry Potter made loos…

This would be it…

Do you like what I did there?! I’m basically an architect. A bit of parcel tape and ta dah! One understairs loo, fit for this muggle family (I think our builder thinks I’m nuts).

Aaaaannyway, this is what I’m envisaging…

597aa2835dd448e68296f3ce0cc91c81Now all we have to agree* on is the wallpaper. I’ve always wanted the smallest room in the house to have AMAZING wacky, bold wallpaper (*when I say agree, I mean cajole my husband into agreeing with my choice).

Here are the options:

wallpaper moonstone wallpaper boats wallpaper cockatoos wallpaper booksI am totally team Cockatoo (Osborne & Little, Cockatoos by Quentin Blake) but Mr CF has deemed it too ‘Robin Williams Birdcage’, which frankly is a plus in my book… I’ll let you know if I break him…

Current Obsession: Zatchels mini barrel satchel

I’ve been hankering after a cross-body bag for a while. Since we ditched the buggy a couple of months ago, trying to wrangle a toddler who seems to RUN everywhere, plus shopping, nursery kit etc… let’s just say, the days of carrying my handbag in the crook of my arm and a latte in hand are OVER.

So, it was with utter joy that I unwrapped the daffodil yellow barrel bag from Zatchels at the weekend. A pressie from my best friend because, well, she’s the best:

It was immediately strapped to my body Sunday morning and accompanied us to the Wildlife Park where, despite it’s diminutive size, managed to hold my purse, phone, keys various and some bird feed.

You wouldn’t immediately think that a bright yellow bag would be that versatile, but with my mainly muted winter wardrobe it offers a very pleasing pop of colour:

As regular readers will know, I am passionate about championing British design and manufacture and Zatchels certainly fits the bill. I love that the two guys behind the brand (yes they’re men!) are based in Leicester and are traditional leather workers by trade, Zatchels was born as they wanted to create good quality, ‘hand-made in England’ leather bags that showcased their skills and that they could be proud of. What better reason to go into business?!

As a child of a professional book binder I often spent holidays being dragged around the leather suppliers of Europe, so do have some ability to spot ‘good leather’ and these bags are beautiful. So well constructed, with traditional nickel silver buckles and hardware.

So proud are Dean and Brian of their wares that they offer a lifetime guarantee. If the strap breaks or the stitching comes undone, send it back up to Leicester and their craftsman will fix it. How amazing is that?

As I get older I really appreciate the ethos behind buying something once and then servicing it and getting it repaired – my Cross fountain pen, Le Creuset pans, Kenwood Chef mixer and now my Zatchels bag… surely that’s the way it should be? Invest in something that will last a lifetime and with love and TLC it will last 100x longer than it’s cheaper, ‘throwaway’ cousin. I have a sneaking suspicion that me and my Zatchels bag are in for a long and happy friendship….


Snapshot: The living room – UPDATED

I did a ‘snapshot’ post on the (slow) progress of our house renovations a few months ago, namely the amazing Charnwood woodburner and the living space. In the last few days we have started using the stove in the evenings and without a doubt, it is the best investment we have made since moving to the country. It is a cliche but a real fire does turn a house into a home.

This weekend we added a few more tweaks that I thought you might like to see:

Firstly, the upcycled bookcase. Now my favourite nook in the house:

This now diminutive white wood bookcase, fitting snugly into the recess, was once a pair of 8ft dressers that sat either side of our chimney breast in our Victorian London home.

In our new streamline 60s pad they’ve always looked a bit awkward and bulky, so the clever OH literally cut one down to size and it now nestles happily beside the sofa with all my books easily to hand. It’s got a large top too, just at mug-resting height. The eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted my desk lamp that has found a new home here, alongside my treasured vintage board game collection (I just bought the original Cluedo set on Ebay!).

The other big changes are at the other end of the room:

The other side of the fire is a larger alcove, that housed one of the big dressers. Now, in pride of place, sits our newly inherited Moro Architects 20th Century antique rosewood and brushed stainless steel sideboard. It belonged to the OH’s Italian grandparents and he has loved it for as long as he can remember, running passed it in the hallway of their North London home.

This area is still a work in progress, we are not sure what to hang above the sideboard and the pieces we display on top are TBC, too.

At the moment we have put some of our Murano collection there (we started collecting when we go married, courtesy of our wedding vouchers for the incredible Alfies Antiques Market in Marylebone). There is also a lamp we inherited too that is waiting to be rewired. I’m going to do a separate post about this and some other pieces that we intend to end up here later in the month when I can show you the lamp working!

Finally, I’ve saved the best till last. The chair. We have no idea of its provenance, it’s another heirloom passed on from the OH’s grandparents (yes, before you say it, we know how incredibly lucky we are they had AMAZING taste). The soft buttery black leather is in perfect condition and the chrome and rosewood frame echoes the sideboard perfectly. Most importantly, it is unbelievably comfortable (the OH remembers his dad snoozing in it every Christmas Day after lunch).

Country Bebe has taken rather a shine to it, too.

We have a new rug and curtains coming in the next few weeks, so I’m sure I’ll do another update again – just thought I’d share our progress!


CF Obsession: Recitethis.com

How brilliant are these? I stumbled upon Recitethis.com over breakfast this morning and have been playing with their genius ‘instaquote’ design skills ever since.
All you have to do is tap in your favourite quote and they instantly put it into a whole range of different typography settings/backgrounds. You can then tweet it, pinterest it or email it to a friend. Cool huh?


Snapshot: The living room

I haven’t done a ‘snapshot’ post for a while (here’s the bedroom, dressing table and Country Bebe’s nursery) so I thought I’d update you on how the house renovations are getting on.

The answer is slowly. Things have taken a bit of a back seat since last year but we are slowly getting back on track with the project. This week we finally finished the living room:

I didn’t have the foresight to take any shots of the fireplace’s previous incarnation. In fact, whenever we took shots in the living room, we’d be careful to edit it out, so hideous was the 60s gas and faux stone extravaganza.

One of our big aims for the country move was to have a wood burner. Cliches abound I know, but the whole ‘snuggling up with glass of bourbon in hand, next to a crackling stove with a snoring labrador at your feet’, that’s the dream.

After a lot of research we plumped for a stove from Charnwood, based on the Isle of Wight. Our 60s home would not suit a country, oldy-worldy style and Charnwood specialise in modern, sleek designs. We’ve only used it a handful of times (thank god, it is July!) and it burns incredibly efficiently and the big aperture window means you can see the flames dancing beautifully. Roll on September!

The mantle was actually an Ebay find, a forestry in Wales cut the oak to our specific dimensions and oiled it to match the floorboards. Pretty good for £110 huh?

The rug is an ancient Urban Outfitters number, we’re secretly hankering after this one from Made.com, who incidently, we’ve bought a couple of things from now (including the brilliant Graphix Desk I posted about here) and if you were concerned about the ‘no showroom’ aspect, don’t. They’re fab. The quality is amazing and customer service second to none.

The sofas are actually (whispers it) DFS. I know! They are really elegant, beautifully finished and super comfy. Not the faux leather, cherry red monstrosities I’d expected from them. They’re really upping their game at the mo – they’re doing collections with French Connection and Country Living. Worth a look…

Other than that, the walls are good ol’ Dulux in a really calm mushroomy/greige. Our downstairs is all open-plan so we wanted something neutral that would work through all the various spaces.

We were in two minds about the floors, we thought we’d give them a sand and see how they turned out and after four coats of Danish Oil and some TLC they are perfect. In a ‘lived in’, love-worn kind of way.

The knickknacks are a mixture of junk shop, car boot and flea market finds but the radio is my very precious Roberts Rambler. It was given to my daddy for his 30th by my godmother and he avidly listened to his beloved Radio Wales on it; carrying it around the house and garden wherever he went. A very treasured ‘part of him’.

That’s it! Coming up next is the biggie. The kitchen/utility room/pantry/cloakroom extension… watch this ‘building site’ of a space!






Object of desire: Roost Living

I did a shoot and interview with Laura Binns, owner of online interiors boutique Roost Living, at her stunning Dartmouth Park house early last year.

Her family home acts as the perfect canvas for her style finds, ergo stock and I found myself drifting off to covert every cushion, lamp and curio she had artfully filled each room with. With an immaculate eye, Laura hand-picks items that are all British-made, by small artisans and a few that are exclusive to Roost Living.

I really admire her ethos of championing things that are ‘made well and to last’. Like this ‘Rule the Roost’ lamp:

Ruling the Roost lampshade, from £320

Designed by Rory Dobner they’re simple, with a streak of genius. Made from old wooden rulers Rory has picked up on his travels around the globe, I’d love this piece for my study.

Wobbly bowls, from £12

As someone with a shelf-straining collection of ceramics, particularly of the turquoise hue, these wobbly bowls stole my heart. I love the organic, hand-thrown shapes.

Finally, I think this sugar bowl is a delight. Mainly as it tugs at the nostalgic heart strings as my grandma collects the little Wade figures that atop these handmade earthenware bowls by Fliff. I love the crackled gold lustre, too. Glamour at breakfast time is no bad thing I say.


Object of Desire: Art.co.uk

Hi. My name’s Lydia. I’m a picture addict. I can’t stop buying photos/prints/artwork. Yes, it’s an affliction. They are stacked around the house, lined up along the skirting board as we have literally run out of wall space. And yet I keep buying.

The only rule is thick, matt black frames. Size doesn’t matter. From framed polaroids of us as kids, to A1 sized vintage adverts.

Although most of our pictures have been collected from various antiques/flea markets, auctions and inherited (read stolen) from our parents, I have become rather addicted to Art.co.uk.

The online art gallery’s choice of prints is, at first glance, rather overwhelming – there are 1.5m pictures to choose from. But the clever archiving into artists (Picasso, Monet, Kandinsky); rooms (nursery, living room, study); subject (Architecture, Figurative, Animals etc) and even orientation mean narrowing down your choices is easy.

I first discovered the site trawling the internet for a repro of a vintage print that hung in my husband’s childhood bedroom, that he desperately wanted for our own home. And there it was:

And the best bit? The in-house framing service. Choose your mount, choose your frame (it mocks it up for you online so you can fiddle around and find the perfect combo) and voila, it arrives in 2-3 days ready to hang.

My latest hunt is for a print for Country Bebe’s nursery wall. I can’t decide between Andy Warhol’s Moon Robot Explorer, 1983 (a bit manic?)

Or go classic with a vintage Babar print. You can’t go wrong with Babar, right?

Object of Desire: Beware the moon

So, this company has been on my ‘interior design tear sheet pile of dreams’ for a while. Even since the immaculately tasteful Judith Wilson wrote about it for me at The Resident back in 2009.

Beware the moon is a father/daughter wallpaper company that really tickles my fancy. I love the hand-drawn designs and the real craftmanship of the processes they use to create papers like this:

We are currently dallying with the idea of this cheeky number for our dressing room cum study. Retro, decadent and a little bit naughty.

I love how subtle the delicate line drawing is. It comes as either a foil or (my favourite), a flock. Yes, George Osborne probably isn’t going to be a fan at £95 a roll but for little spaces I say ‘hang the expense.’ Boom Boom.


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