Sometimes a project arises that wasn't on your list. In our case a makeover of our sitting room. It was something planned for some time in the future and details had not been resolved. But a visit to the carpet binder yielded a piece of blue carpet that was exactly what the room needed. So action stations, the cracked plaster work was repaired, the walls were repainted, a new dado treatment was added and all the timber work was also painted. We are not fast workers so it took about two weeks. We recut the stencil to fill in the areas that we had painted over in the plaster repairs. So the room was now fresh and new looking. New carpet changed the look and presto we changed the room into our master bedroom. We now have a lovely view over the front garden and a little more space. Living in an old house has some benefits as the rooms are not really designated to uses. In our case all the main rooms have fireplaces and no built ins, so we can decide how to use the rooms.
This year I am looking for inspiring images to post, so I am going back through my library of books and magazines and revisiting old pictures that have stood the test of time. The first image is from the World of Interiors 1995. The article 'Educating Rita' with text by Marie France Boyer and photos by Karen Radkai. This is from a room in an apartment in the 7th Arrondissement in Paris. I love this part of Paris, it has the most elegant apartment buildings. This apartment has the typical architectural features including high ceilings and doors with glass panels. But what really captivates me is the collection of artefacts including the architectural drawings and the painted screen. This screen inspired me to create my own version many years ago using an old wardrobe that belonged to my parents.
One of my favourite things in decoration is painted finishes. I think adding a special finish can add that little bit of magic to an interior. Commissioning a paint finish can be daunting and a little expensive but arming yourself with some good references and asking your painter to provide some samples will make it easier to determine if you are on the right track. But what I really love about paint finishes is you can tackle them yourself. With a little practice and some thorough research you can get some great results. So I plan to post some interesting examples of finishes that may inspire you.
This hallway was painted by the master of paint finishes Jocasta Innes. It features a collection of stencils she marketed under the "Paintability" label. It appeared in English House and Garden in May 1987. I remember the stencils were made from oiled manilla board, the traditional material for stencils. This hallway features the gothic designs from the collection. The chalky finish of the red background makes a dramatic statement in this elegant house.
I am very fortunate. I am at the stage of my life, after many years of hard work, I have accumulated many lovely furnishings for my home. I also don't follow fashions and I am quite sentimental, which means, I don't throw things out. So when I need to do some maintenance on my home which may lead to redecorating a room, it is a case of searching through what I already own and selecting those items, but editing them in a new way for a completely fresh look. We re-plastered this room something that was long overdue. We had a tradesman do the plastering but Max and I did the rest, including fixing all new architraves and skirting boards as well as the painting. We did think we would never finish this project. However we finally got to the fun part of decorating and were able to reuse all our old pieces. Even the curtains had been in storage. The only new items purchased for this room were the Ikea bookcases and the potted palm.
This room has a corner fireplace which makes it difficult to place furniture, but it is part of the architectural features of our little house, so we make it work. We painted it a crisp white (Dulux "Sarah's Place") to contrast with the warmer coloured walls (Dulux "Self Destruct"). We went through our stash of old bits of porcelain and selected an unusual dutch plate as a focal point along with a pair of greyhound statues which are repeated in the French tapestry on the adjacent wall. The fireplace also features a painted fireboard which I completed many years ago.
the other side of the"Snug" has an old cupboard which was made by my partner's grandfather. This is beautifully made and very special so it had to be accommodated. We built in Ikea's "Billy" bookshelves each side to take more books which is a constant issue in our home as I keep acquiring them. The armchairs belonged to Max's mother. We will eventually recover them but in the mean time they don't look too bad when you ignore our cats work. There is also a portrait of our first cocker spaniel in the back ground.
I have been meaning to post the photos of a little project that was completed a while back. This is our room that is our nod to Scandinavian design and features our collected pieces of mid century furniture. It is a space that has been repurposed. We added some windows that came from a salvage yard to let in more light and moved the position of the door. It is now the home of our new "library". It is a quiet calm place to spend time reading and relaxing and was supposed to be 'animal free'
although one of our cats has taken a liking to the quiet space so her age brings privilege.
We deliberately chose a mostly neutral scheme, off-white walls and ceiling, black, white and grey fabrics and let the natural timbers of the furniture be the feature. We then searched for some appropriate wall lights and their colour inspired the selection of the carpet.
We settled on "beluga" lights designed by Marc Sadler. They feature beautiful blue coloured glass shades, this became our contrast colour and informed our carpet selection. The four foot long teak sideboard is also by Parker. We paid $50 for it as somebody had painted it black. We stripped it back and re-oiled it as its as good as new.
When you are an ordinary mortal, furnishing a room can be an expensive process, so I like to acquire pieces that are going to be around for a long time. Items that are well designed and classical. Camel back sofas are always elegant, striped fabrics are classic, brass wall sconces will always have a place. The odd oil portrait will add gravatis to a room. This room shown below contains all these items, they could be bought yesterday or been collected over the years, they all make a serene and elegant sitting room. David Robertson and Frank Brennikmeyer's house appeared in World of Interiors July 1997. It contains many of my favourite items arranged in an understated elegant room. Country Georgian furniture, includes a Pembroke table, a pair of demi lune side tables striped upholstery on a wing chair, simple blue and white chinoiserie ceramics and a Persian rug are all items that are timeless.
Like many of my design heroes, Jocasta Innes is no longer with us. Jocasta Innes was a British journalist who wrote many books on interior decoration and paint finishes. I would venture to say she started the paint finish revolution of the 1980s with her book Paint Magic first published in 1981. Jocasta wrote books that were informative, inspirational and a joy to read. While they were full of ideas and techniques they read like stories. When I first came upon Paint Magic I was still a young student studying interior decoration and design. We had covered, and even in our prac classes, tried out many of the paint techniques, like stencilling and sponging and glazing, but our teachers while great technicians were not very creative when it came to how we might apply these finishes. Jocasta's book showcased beautiful and subtle examples by companies like Colefax and Fowler and painters like Graeme Carr. The book was a revelation to me and as each new edition came out I bought another one. Jocasta also wrote other books on interior decoration and I bought those as well. Each was entertaining but practical as well. She brought out stencils and paint techniques books with Stewart Walton and these were added to my library. I still refer to these when I want to check a technique or get some new inspiration. I have continued to introduce paint techniques to most of my design commissions and my own homes as well. Some you would hardly notice and others are focal points to a room. I have Jocasta to thank for all this.
I wanted to create some affordable upholstery fabric for a mid century chair. An all over pattern would make a nice change as this chair had been upholstered in plain fabric and going for a pattern would give it a new look. Something a little bit "mid century" was in order but the Florence Broadhurst patterns were the wrong scale so a little adaption and resizing and I created a stencil to print a painter's drop cloth to make enough fabric to cover this chair. Drop cloths have a great texture and are quite hard wearing and inexpensive. I used screen printing paste mixed with acrylic paint to make a tan colour. that compliments the timber frame.
Hi I am Elizabeth an interior designer who lives in Melbourne, Australia in a little Californian Bungalow cottage with my partner, Max, who is also an Interior Designer, and our beloved furry children, Doris & Ernest. I believe that design can make our lives more rewarding and productive. I love, architecture and design theory but my everyday passion is fabrics and decoration, as I don't think we should get too serious but have fun with our homes and enjoy the process of creating our own environments. I am interested in classic cars, and collect Georgian and Mid Century furniture.