Friday, 15 September 2017

The Old Lighthouse at Cape Spear

Cape Spear Newfoundland
 I think it's safe to say I find the most decorating inspiration from period homes, whether humble or grand.
  To be honest I prefer the period homes of ordinary people and the simple decorating which reveals the household chores and organization that contribute to the cozy and homely result.
We visited the stunning province of Newfoundland for two weeks in August and took the drive out to Cape Spear many times.  We were blessed with beautiful weather and there is perhaps no spot that you can imagine more beautiful: wide open ocean, whales frolicking in the distance, and a wind that will put the health back into you.
The old lighthouse at Cape Spear has been restored to its 1839 heyday.  How about a little tour?
Approaching the old lighthouse.

The parlour with the gorgeous wallpaper.
Ready for visitors with tea things on the table.

Another view of the front room or parlour.
Beautiful windows, so simple with the geraniums on the sill.

I must grow some geraniums!
And hopefully not kill them.
 It would be in one's interest to have a green thumb during the long, cold Newfoundland winter: these fresh herbs growing on the windowsills would provide a coveted bit of green flavour to simple meals.
Kitchen windowsill.

Kitchen cupboard.

Laundry drying in front of the fire in the kitchen.

The best way to get the kids to do their homework?
Have them do it in the kitchen!
Funny, this is still true.

Adore this cupboard with a selection of platters, dishes and pitchers. 

Utility room.
Love the teal chair.

More tools in the utility room.

Clearly 1839 was the age of DIY!
 Perhaps my favourite room in the entire lighthouse?
The cozy bedroom of course:
Wallpaper, linen curtains, blue and white ceramics.

The bed was fully curtained with grey wool!
Gorgeous. Imagine tucking in here early to bed after a long day.
I know I romanticize these period homes (because life was certainly much more difficult without automatic washers and central heating). But isn't it glorious to see a simple home, with everything beautiful and/or useful and not a bit of plastic in sight?

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Beautiful Fabrics: Soane Britain

How's this for a skirted table?
 I've been doing a bit of slapdash decorating this week in our older daughter's room, a little refresh which I'm planning to have finished before she comes home for Thanksgiving.  I bought some new fabrics for the job from my favourite source in Toronto: Designer Fabrics Outlet on Queen Street.  Of course I agonized over what to choose because I want ALL of the fabrics.  I have to fight very hard to not over-purchase and hoard fabrics, so quite frankly it's probably a good thing I don't have easy access to Soane Britain.  Their fabrics (and wallpaper) are some of the most beautiful I've ever seen.
Let's have a look at some of my favourites, both from their new collection and some of their older patterns:
Love the fabric paired with that rug.

If I could sew anything more complicated than a straight line?
I'd be whipping up ruffly slipcovers.


Another fabric on sofa paired with the same pattern on the wall.
Subtle but so pretty.

Pink paisley canopied bed!

This is very similar to the colour scheme in my bedroom.
That upholstered headboard: love.

A canopied bath! What lovely use of a dainty blue print.
 How about some of the wallpaper patterns?

ADORE THIS with that exquisite lampshade.

Elephants, blue and white, say no more.

Love the colours of this and the dark cream background.
How do you like the offerings from Soane Britain?  Any other fabric/wallpaper houses which should be on my radar?  Would you like to see the results of my current bit of slapdash decorating?

*images sourced from Soane Britain's site.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Big Table in the Kitchen

 If we ever move to a smaller house there will be one criteria that will be a must-have: a large room for the kitchen, with enough room for our dining table in the middle. The walls will be fitted with unfitted pieces of furniture, a range, a large sink set in a rough cabinet and skirted with some colourful fabric.  Ideally there would be room for a sitting area at one end, and of course there has to be a large light fixture over the table in either a lantern shape or the classic chandelier.
I am not new to renovating our kitchens. Our current kitchen was completely gutted and rebuilt a couple of years ago but one thing we couldn't change was the floorplan.  Our house was built in 1915 with a separate dining room to the kitchen, and the kitchen functions purely for cooking and organizing the food to be brought out to the dining room: it's a formal arrangement.
Our previous house also had a new kitchen, one that we built in an addition to the main floor.  It was an open-plan concept, with the kitchen at one end, a large island, then the dining table.  It was a challenge for the stage of life we were in: with all of our children at home that kitchen was absolutely always in a mess, there were constant little meals and snacks being made as well as the three squares! This is why I was keen to have a separate kitchen in our current house: I wanted to have dinner with the family without seeing the detritus of the cooking area.
This has worked well for us but in our next stage would it be possible to live happily with the big unfitted kitchen of my dreams?
The Small Stone House has a large middle room that currently operates as the office area for my husband's assistant, complete with large banks of filing cabinets and various office machines.  To be honest it's difficult to look past these things and imagine a cozy, pretty kitchen with a big table!  But that's what I see every single time I walk into that room.  My next kitchen design post will focus on the arrangement of a big unfitted kitchen with a table in the middle, and all of the challenges to design that space.  After all, one can't just throw in a bunch of furniture higgledy-piggledy, there needs to be plumbing for the sink, a gas line for the range, some kind of refrigeration and storage for food and dishes.
For now let's look at some inspirational pictures of big kitchens with unfitted cabinetry and large tables.  All of these images can be sourced through my Small Stone House pinterest page.

I do like a butcher block counter.

Lovely big table and how about those curtains.

I love a skirted anything, and to have the sink cabinet skirted is one my favourite details.

Giant butcher block cabinet!

A few hanging copper pots always look cozy.

More skirted cabinets.

I like the colourful range.

The colour of this kitchen is so pretty.

Ben Pentreath's kitchen: the classic inspiration!
My friend Kim wrote about it in her recent kitchen post.
 The colour palette of this big unfitted kitchen is already worked out in my mind!
I have a dining table that seats 10 people with a linen aqua print fabric on the chair seats.  It's my ideal table and will be the centre of the design. I'd like to pair the aqua with a perfect shade of coral, such a pretty colour combination, so cheering and festive.
This is an inspiration for the colour scheme:
Would you like an unfitted kitchen with a big table in the middle?

Friday, 1 September 2017

The Entry is Everything

If there's one area of the home that inspires eternal dissatisfaction it has to be the entryway!  Ours is constantly clogged with shoes, boots, dog-leashes, books and binders.  Mail ends up thrown on any available surface and Pie runs in from work every day scattering keys, wallet, receipts, legal documents and empty lunch containers.
So I feel very soothed gazing at these images of serene entryways which are saturated with colour yet brilliant in their simplicity: a narrow table, ideally topped with something silver or a vessel of flowers, maybe an umbrella or two in a stand or on a hook, and perhaps a mirror.  All of these objects set off by a gorgeous colour scheme, my favourite being this teal colour which sets off wood, a gilt mirror, silver and ceramics so beautifully.

I love a good William Morris wallpaper, and these examples are some of my favourite patterns:

A demilune table is classic yet so practical, the look of a larger surface tucked against a wall, providing space for flowers and maybe a dish to catch the detritus of those busy people:
I'm on the search for a demilune table!
How about this perfect shade of teal paint? It's Vardo by Farrow and Ball, stunning isn't it:
An entry hall painted in Vardo:
A gorgeous lantern is perfect for a smaller entryway, there's not much room on those slim tables for a light source of any kind.  I found an antique light fixture through a friend some years ago and had it installed in the entry of the stone house:
Rescued from a friend's basement!
What colour is your ideal entryway? Would you go for wallpaper or do you find the idea of a pattern at the entry too busy?

* sources for all images except my own can be found on my pinterest board

Thursday, 31 August 2017

The Allure of The Small Stone House

Imagine this: a private house decorated in shades of red, teal, apricot, pale blue and dark cream, not a grand house but a cozy retreat.
A house built of solid thickly cut stone, covered in vines and surrounded by slightly wild gardens.  A house small enough that it can easily be cleaned in an hour and also always be ready for visitors.
A house with a kitchen as its main room: one with a colourful range, plate racks, a huge table for both festive dinners and simple cups of tea. A kitchen that also includes a sofa at one end for reading or even quick naps.

A house in an urban centre (making ownership of a vehicle optional), close to markets, walking trails, restaurants and the houses of friends.
A house filled with the accumulated treasures of family life, yet also free of clutter, just comfortable spots to visit, write, sleep and read.
This is my little daydream and this blog is an outlet for the ideas I have around the concept of The Small Stone House.
The house is more than a dwelling, it's a philosophy of everyday living and the bigger ideas which inform the choices of that everyday life.

This house actually does exist and these pictures are small snippets of it.  I own it and currently rent it as an office to Pie (my husband).  Pie doesn't actually ever want to convert it into a residence because he cannot imagine living somewhere he has toiled over his work: understandable.  So even if this doesn't end up being THE Small Stone House I will use it as a template for my imaginings.

I would like to discuss decorating, interior design, household tasks and what a house means to a family: how should it comfort? How should it perform?
I would also like to discuss the issue of feeding ourselves and others, what is more essential or life-giving than offering food?  How do we live both simply and well?
This blog is also an opportunity to explore the stage of life known as the empty nest.  We are not quite there (our youngest is in her second year of high school) but our older children have launched into the world.  How does downsizing affect the closeness of family life?  Can we live in a smaller home yet still make space for visits both short and long?

I hope you will join me to chat and ponder!