Monthly Archives: January 2013

Safe as houses

This weekend was fairly quiet and largely enjoyable. Albiet from D’s weekly episode of ‘dad-mentia’. I really don’t know how it keeps occuring; other than to assume that he just ‘forgets’ EVERY week and has done so for the last few years. I think it’s a coping mechanism.

It’s the same story each Saturday morning and is particularly noticeable around the breakfast table. He sits there with a wide-eyed look of panic and sheer bewilderment with one eye on the door; thinking I won’t notice when he bolts for it. The table manners, bickering and general chaos (that have become so much the norm that even I look at him and say ‘what?’) throws him into fight or flight mode. By lunchtime he has thankfully given in to it and has the vacant look of submission – which is replaced on Sunday evening with an air of excitment and the anticipation of returning to work for a break.

This week the girls put on a show, complete with singing, dancing and costume changes. Sitting dutifully on the sofa with the rest of the audience, several dozen teddies and dolls, we were subjected to the ‘house rules’ before the performance began. This included when it was appropriate for us to clap and what to do in the event of the fire alarm going off – ‘go out that door and don’t forget to take your babies with you’ although I was told it was not scheduled to do so. So, it seems our girls are safety concious.

When it comes to decoration, many people also err on the side of caution. When flicking through interiors magazines I’m always drawn to to the darker schemes with bold wall colours and beautiful colour combinations – a favourite at the moment is bronze, coral and turquoise – yet when I look round my house I see a largerly neutral palette. No doubt because I became so obsessed by light last year that I literally painted everything a shade of white. Not that there is anything wrong with a neutral colour scheme – interior designer Kelly Hoppen MBE is famous for her love of taupe and beige, adding interest through texture and coloured accessories. But yet I often question why I don’t have the guts to paint the living room in F&B’s Arsenic that I love.

Perhaps its because I’m not sure if this is my forever house, and should I decide not, the safer colour scheme wouldn’t send potential buyers heading for the hills. And there I think lies the problem. People tend to decorate with others in mind. Rather than just going for it and following their hearts they see their house through the eyes of visitors, hoping for approval and praise from friends and family. So what if they don’t like the colour scheme you’ve chosen for a particular room? They don’t get to see it in different lights and if makes you feel relaxed, cosy and secure who cares? I’m pretty sure my choice of wallpaper and the aubergine painted roof in my downstairs loo is definately not everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s ok.

This leads me to another quote that has made it onto my blackboard this year ‘what other people think of you is none of your business’.

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Do as I say, not as I do..

I’m back. My trip to a surreal nirvana, where a broken night’s sleep isn’t just a wild rumour spread by the child free, didn’t last long. Sleep’s so last century anyway I find.

No, a 2.00am game of musical beds and the horizontal hokey cokey (its cross between the original and ‘ten in the bed’; you put your left leg out, in out, in out, and carry on in that vein till you’ve been entirely pushed out of the bed by your offspring) is a much more ‘on the edge’ way to live. Pre-kids we enjoyed adrenalin sports; now holding it together over breakfast while they ping wheatabix back and fore at one another take nerves of steel. Not something I always posess it has to be said, but hey, it’s a marathon not a sprint, right?

We often find ourselves inwardly cringing, or supressing giggles, at our (or each others’) attempts to ‘deal’ with situations as they arise. We are particulary guilty of roaring at the top of our voices to ‘stop shouting!’. Then having to add ‘just do as I say’, when it’s pointed out to you, ‘but you’re shouting too’.

My threat this weekend certainly raised a bemused eybrow from D when in desperation I told the girls that one of them would have to find somewhere else to live if they didn’t stop fighting with each another. To my dismay they rattled of the list of people they were keen to de-camp to and, had I let them, would have had their trunkies packed in an instant.

It also occured to me that in other areas of life ‘do as I say not as I do’ would be most definately applicable. For instance in my interior design course, and certainly from being an account manager and graphic designer before that, I know there is a very definate ‘design process’ that has to be gone through to get to the finished design/product. You take the brief to find out about your client’s likes and dislikes, discuss budget, present ideas etc etc.

My approach to my own house is, how shall I say it, a little more sporadic. I get an idea in my head or see something, that I absolutely have to have and won’t stop until I get it. Currently, I have a desire to add something bright yellow. Don’t ask me why, what or where, I’ll just know when I see it. Until then I’ll wonder around the house as if as in a trance trying to figure out just that. My vacant ‘episodes’ are legendary and apparently quite scary if you haven’t experienced them before. For all intense purposes it probably won’t exist and I will be forced to spray paint a chair or piece of furniture to satisfy the craving. I’m kinda hoping a cushion catches my eye, which would be a lot less troublesome.

Likewise, I’ll have no intention of buying anything, then something, will catch my eye and wham, before you know it the room will be taken in a completely different direction.

I often cringe when people come to the house as its in a constant state of evolution. They must wonder how I could ever think I could have a career in interior design. By default my taste is eclectic. There’s just too many beautiful styles and things out there, that I’d either have to have a mansion or  a design overhaul every six months. Both of which would be a tad expensive to upkeep.

For me it’s like an outfit, adding a new cushion has the same effect as changing a pair of shoes. I simply wouldn’t be able to survive without constantly re-inventing it. When I finish this process and am qualified to tell people how to design their homes I will still say ‘do as I say, not as I do’ but it will be with much more conviction.

Who are you….

….and what have you done with my kids/dogs/life?

I’ve woken up in a parallel universe. I like it here. I’m not going back. I don’t want to jinx it, or throw the proverbial spanner in the works, but these last few days have been borderline ‘normal’. Albeit, two of them were childfree.

The scores on doors are; dog related parcels = none; children in our bed = none; full nights sleep = four.

With a sense of calm restored I’ve even manage to study, cue audience gasps and round of applause. Yes, I managed to lose an entire day on Pinterest and created two mood boards, which had I done using magazines images would have taken days and created a snowstorm of cuttings. Not that we need that inside, we have enough of the white stuff outside thankyou very much.

Since having kids I’m not afraid to admit I have gone a bit bonkers, particularly in the ‘what if’ category. For example, when I was pregnant, having watched a documentary, I was totally obsessed with ‘what if it has a missing chromosome and smells of fish?’

Living on a twisty road with, what I consider to be, a sheer drop down to the river, I constantly wonder ‘what if the car goes off the road and into the river, how will I get out’ or ‘what if the electric windows stop working in the water’. The result being yesterday in a blind snow storm I drove with the windows down at that particular stretch. They do say there is a fine line between madness and genius.

Finally, we have finished painting the kitchen, which looks much brighter and we’re pretty chuffed with it. Leaning towards the ‘vintage industrial’ look – folk of a certain generation (my parents) would probably categorise it under ‘junk’ I have ordered four vintage pel tubular metal stacking chairs circu 1950’s to replace the country style solid oak dining chairs from Peppermill Antiques. Can’t wait, weather permitted they should arrive tomorrow. Although I do wonder when I will have a ‘grown-up’ house with matching co-ordinated furniture.

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Planetary alignment

I’ve often been thankful that we live in the country. Not just because there are no neighbours to hear the amount of noise that emits from our house, but also because we seem to spend an incredible amount of time streaking about it in minimal (if any) clothing. Last night was no exception.

During our futile attempt to get back to sleep at 1.00am (F had been crying) a weird noise started. Like dripping tap torture it would go off everytime you were just at the point of nodding off. After a brief volley of nocturnal tourettes we both got up and set about frantically searching for the source; which could only be coming from a toy. The question was where.

After ransacking the kids room I escaped with a train convinced it was the culprit, whilst D streaked downstairs in his boxers to the play room. We met at the top of the stairs shortly after; the noise getting more frequent and unsurprisingly more annoying. Like madmen possessed and desperate to find the noise before it woke the kids, I dived for the basket of toys in the bathroom and D took to the cupboard.

Lurking on a top shelf was an old toy mat that makes noises when the kids walk up and down it. Somehow it had switched itself on. D muttered something about the planets being aligned and we trotted back to bed.

The day hadn’t started any better; with H running into our room screaming at early o’clock. Being woken abruptly, it took us a while to figure out what she was saying. Turns out it was ‘she’s peeing, she’s peeing!’ thinking she’d been having a bad dream we scooped her into our bed and told her to go back to sleep.  Within seconds F appears demanding us to ‘wipe up her pee NOW!’ Erm excuse me, but being hit over the head with a club would be a more civilsed way to start the day.

Going by the wet patch, it’s no wonder H was hysterical; I think I would be too if I woke to see my younger sibling relieving herself six inches from my nose. When asked why she did it her reply was ‘because I did’ – you can’t really argue with a three year old’s logic.

There’s a proverb I’ve put on the blackboard to inspire me to study and to hang on in there when it seems there’s a complicated conspiracy at work. It says ‘Never give up on something you can’t go a day without thinking about’.

So, for what its worth, here’s my design nugget for the day. This year blue is going to be a big colour. From powder blue to cobalt, inky and peacock tones. Use coloured glass bottles, vases and cushions to add a splash of colour or paint entire walls to create drama and impact. Ikat patterns and dip dye fabrics can be used to create a fresh moroccan feel whilst darker tones can be used to great effect when teamed with gold, which is also making a splash this year.

BTW, when quizzed on what planetary alignment was, D said it was something that happened every squillion years and made weird sh*t happen. Spoken like a true engineer.

Ground Hog Day

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It would appear we are stuck in a time warp. We wake every night at (precisely) 4.00am to find at least one of our offspring in our bed (clinging to us like a limpet to a rock) and when D goes downstairs at 6.00am he finds at least one parcel behind the door. This morning it was two: parcels not children.

We knew it was going to be a messy night when at 9.30pm both girls were still pinging about, running up and down the hall despite the shouting, bargaining and threats from us. The stop shouting New Year’s resolution has been totally annihilated. If you are wondering why we don’t just leave them to it, check out my previous post, Back to Bedlam. They have the ace card up their sleeve and they ain’t afraid to use it. They know it. We know it. They know we know it. We know they know we know it.

I don’t know what the hell is going on with the dogs. Maybe its a conspiracy. We’re hoping someone will jump out at us with a camera soon and tell us its all been a setup.

In an attempt to stick to at least some of the other resolutions I have taken to eating liquor chocolates. I’m not sure if this is breaking the no drinking one; or merely sticking my tongue out and blowing it an almighty raspberry. I suppose it depends on how many you eat. The Hotel Chocolat Kirsch soaked cherries have some kick to them and even after just a few I get a warm fuzzy feeling that you probably shouldn’t pre-lunchtime.

On a positive note, my experimental painting of the bottom half of the kitchen is, I think, a success. The north facing kitchen/dining area now looks much brighter whilst the family area feels snug. I will post a picture when totally finished. I’ll not go into detail on how I manage to wreck my best skinnies in the process.

A massive fan of darker paint shades (the roof in our downstairs loo is Brinjal by F&B) and a believer of ‘no it won’t make the room feel smaller’ I  am turning my back on the current trend coming through for darker, bold interiors and have been totally obsessed by light since last summer. 

I spent much of last year dodging dog poo in the garden whilst trying to chase the sun with strategically placed mirrors in order to bounce light back into the kitchen. Very effective but time consuming. I even got a sun pipe fitted to ‘flood’ a dark corner with natural daylight. Unfortnately, the winter sun doesn’t get high enough to make a huge impact, but I imagine with all this effort by summer we will need to wear shades inside. 

Nocturnal tourettes

There is a strange affliction that exists in our household. Two, perfectly reasonable, adults go to bed and by the stroke of midnight, or some other ungodly hour, something that needs investigating wakens us up. Usually crying kids or, god forbid, dogs. Cue an exchange of gentle prods from one another, that increasingly become more forceful, before a volley of profanities ensues as to why the other should go. We call it nocturnal tourettes. How two mild(ish) mannered individuals can so quickly degenerate into foul mouthed zombies is a complete mystery. Miraculously, by morning we are back to our normal selves if not slightly wild eyed and supporting faint bruising to the back of the legs.

Last night’s ‘distraction’ was mice. We knew we had a problem when yesterday I shook a pair of thermal leggings in D’s face in order for him to access if they were thick enough and a tiny, perfectly formed, mouse poo fell onto the pristine white sheets. YUCK.

It turns out a large catholic sized family of mice has moved into our house. I don’t blame them, our house is lovely. Nonetheless, traps set and baited we went about serving an eviction notice. The long and short being that D ended up in the loft at 4.00am in boxers and a headtorch helping one of the poor little critters out of its misery.

But alas, even with a lack of sleep, nothing can dampen my spirits today. Kids cheerfully marched into nursery this morning -I think they were happy to see the back of me – and I have eight glorious hours ahead of me to fill as I please. What to do? I should really unearth my desk and study material from beneath the pile of ‘stuff’ that has accumulated during the festives. Or, I could finish painting the bottom half of the kitchen white; in an attempt to play an optical illusion on the amount of light coming in from the North facing windows. I will report in due course the success of that particular experiment. I may even head into town to buy the Hague Blue paint that is definately ‘THE’ colour for the bookcase and anything else I see fit (at least two dining chairs are not safe). Ahh, decisions. First though another coffee and a flick through the lastes issue of Homes & Gardens to inspire and motivate.

How much difference can 6″ really make?

I love my bed. I truly do, not just because its comfy, but because its unique too.

Like much of the furniture in our house, which has either been upcycled, recyled, saved from heading to scrap or simply pre-loved, it has a history. Not that I’m exactly aware of what that history is. All I know is that it is over 100years old, and according to the lovely man from Seventh Heaven Antique Beds who delivered it (now Divine Dreams) it would have been taken over to India/Africa during the Colonial years and was repatriated via Morroco and given a new lease of life at their lovely workshop.

The only problem I can see with our bed is that it is simply not big enough. No matter what positions we adopt four people can not fit comfortably into a standard double. I’m not sure how long these nocturnal population explosions will last. It’s like adding water to a gremlin; you go to bed just the two of you then ‘pop’ there’s another and then ‘pop’ another appears. Thankfully we don’t feed them after midnight (although with recent behaviour I’m not entirely sure they aren’t raiding the fridge themselves).

Which leads me to my original question, how much difference can 6″ really make? After flicking through Livingetc and some internet research I land on the sofa.com website; its Valentin bed is good substitute for the ‘Thurman’ by Meridiani I had originally liked the look of, but was somewhat over our budget at $12,000! According to the sofa.com a kingsize mattress width is 150cm whilst a standard double is 135cm. Would 15cm really cut the mustard in the wee hours when the bed is a mass of limbs and elbows in faces, knees in backs?

The super king at 200cm seems a tad overkill, not only because it may look slight out of scale in what would then become the BEDroom, but Dave and I would need a compass and headtorch to find one another.

Nonetheless, fabric samples have been duly ordered, to add to the mountain of other fabric and wallpaper samples, which will be a great source of reference for my course if nothing else.