View of the house from the garden. Designed by Khoury Architects
Living room layout
Our living room is a fairly long, thin, oblong shape with a bay window at one end. At the opposite end there used to be French doors leading into the conservatory but earlier this year they were taken out and replaced with a wall. Behind the new wall is a store room - which is great for all the detritus that needs to be hidden from view - but it's not so good for the light in the living room. Oh and the door into the living room from the hall is also in a funny place, effectively cutting the room in half. So really it's a bit like two separate narrow rooms, with the one furthest from the window being very dark. Excellent!
Work so far
As part of the renovations earlier in the year, we made some alterations to the living room. First, there was only one radiator in it, which wasn't sufficient so the room was cold and uninviting. We had it replaced with two ladder radiators, which are much better. We also had the spots taken out of the ceiling and they were replaced with a centre light fitting, plus the TV point was removed so that the TV is now the opposite end of the room, away from the window and the glare from the sun.
Now for the fun part
Given that the new room at the back of the house is very light and decorated in greys, neutrals and all things Scandi, it seems a good idea to break out into a riot of colour in the living room, which is entirely self contained so it can have a strong personality of its own. The walls, however, I think will be darkish - but warm darkish - for a cosy feel. The room is currently painted almost white and it's still dark in there at the far end so I think it's a case of embracing the lack of light and not trying to pretend that it's something that it's not.
Where we're at so far
So a few weeks ago I came across the blog The Pink House and I've been fairly glued to it ever since. Given my love of many thing pink, it's not surprising that I love Emily's blog, and in particular her post called "From Grot to Glamour - the Pink House Den before and after" which you can read here.
This is a picture of Emily's Den as it is now...
[photographer Susie Lowe]
Emily's den was in turn was inspired by this picture that she saw in 25 Beautiful Homes Magazine and which was designed by Jessica Buckley, an interior designer who lives in Edinburgh. I love the clever use of colour in these rooms which are just so fresh, inviting and uplifting.
The other living room that I love is Erica Davies' of The Edited. You can read all about the styling of her living room in the post "The House Files: My living room before and after" here. For those of you who haven't already read the post, I won't spoil it but safe to say that she has taken a very plain room and turned into something magical with gorgeous layers of colour, print, texture and interesting arrangements of accessories.
[photograpy by Eleanor Skan]
When does "taking inspiration" from something that someone else has done, become copying it?
I'm very happy not to keep re-inventing the wheel and so if the principle of something works (and if those who've done it the first time round don't mind) then I'm happy to go with it. If Emily says that Farrow & Ball stone blue is a warm blue then I'm good with that. Obviously I've tried it out and love it but other than that, why waste several hours in Homebase going through all the blues in the colour charts? So stone blue on the walls it will be.
The colour that Erica used in her living room is also a gorgeous bluey/grey. So desperate was I to get hold of a tester pot and so bad was the traffic that one morning last week I ran to our local John Lewis to get some, arriving at 8.58am and leaving shortly afterwards with said pot of Little Greene Paint Company Juniper Ash safely in my grasp. I also have plans for this colour...
What about the soft furnishings?
Well that, is where I think most of the colour will come in to play. And there are three things that I have in mind:
- A large footstool which is in a horrible fabric. The design is good but the fabric yuck. I think I chose it (and the rest of the suite) in desperation when I was pregnant with our third. This will be re-covered, quite possibly in a smallish animal/geometric print;
- The love seat that goes with said footstool. I'm planning on getting it re-covered in a fabric different to the footstool. The seat pad cushion, and back, may well be in a printed fabric whilst the rest of the chair may be plain, so that in years to come the cushions can be changed without too much expense;
- We have just had a new pale grey sofa, so this will get new cushions - again in a fabric different to the footstool and love seat, and possibly different from one another.
And this is the type of thing that I have in mind
You cannot imagine the amount of fabric sample books that I have been through in the last week - Harlequin, Romo, Scion, Designer's Guild, Villa Nova, Osborne & Little and still I'm not entirely sure that I have found exactly what I'm after (how much of my mother's daughter am I? I think she was the only person in the world wanting an almond coloured, left handed opening, fridge freezer.)
These are the requirements: It needs to be bright, not too floral in nature or if so, modern floral as opposed to traditional floral. Graphics, spots, stripes or palm leaves are also good. I prefer a whiteish background as opposed to a mucky coloured one and I would like lots of blue in it. Oh and it need to work with, but not go with, this Designer's Guild wallpaper in the unit which was up-cycled in the summer.
This is the above print, shown made up on a sofa. And that's the thing isn't it? Fabrics always look so different when made up, that it can be easy to reject something that could be perfect.
But I'm a big fan of the Miami range from Designer's Guild. The fabrics are bright and fresh, pretty different to what else is out there and they all work together in a non-co-ordinated kind of way and across the colour spectrum.
And the one that I like the most...they have, of course, stopped making it in this colour way. But I have several samples of prints on their way from various different companies, so I'll see where we are by the middle of the week.
So, despite all those musings what have I actually achieved so far? Hmmm, well that would be the purchase of this John Lewis painted lacquer tray (£30) because the colour is perfect and the lacquer gives it a lovely finish.
And this Nicola Metcalfe London Skyline print from John Lewis (£55) - the colours of which are fab and it reminds me, in a painful kind of way, of running the London Marathon this year.
Mr SG went to the motorbike show yesterday. "Can I buy whatever I like?" he said. "Of course darling" I replied "As long as I can be in charge of decorating the living room." He didn't buy a new motor bike. The living room will get decorated.