Archives for the month of: June, 2013

I’m very fond of the trend for trophy heads on the wall, modern style. I’ve seen a few on my web travels.


Small game/ spotted on The Socialite Family blog

And here….

Natural habitat/ A lovely eclectic mix of items

Natural habitat/ A lovely eclectic mix of items

We found one too which we liked, a satisfying structure of laser cut bare plywood which came flat packed and ready for intricate assembly. The hunter-gatherer challenge for modern man. I’m pleased to say Tim achieved it effortlessly.

Well, hello deer. Deer Trophy from

Well, hello deer. Deer Trophy from

Here he now presides in our living room, at home among the 2D artwork on the rest of the walls:

Antlers away. Statement piece for the living room entrance

Antlers away. Statement piece for the living room entrance

Of course, there’s no reason why you should limit your animal pieces to a spot on the wall. For many years we’ve owned Cow. He has varied roles: occasional seat; racing vehicle; child impaler; guardian of the living room and most crucially, making sure we don’t take ourselves too seriously.

I like the way you moove. Large cowhide seat on castors from Harrods (2001)

I like the way you moove. Large cowhide seat on castors from Harrods (2001)

I’m not really keen on a theme. I think rooms need to display more character than just a fancy dress style flaunting of matchy-matchy. But then, if you’re a child, maybe you wouldn’t see any problem with ceiling to floor Lightning McQueen or Hello Kitty, maybe even feel that your grown-ups were truly caring to decorate your room in this way. I don’t know. I wonder whether a little imagination might go further than overkill on branding. When I was planning the boys’ bedrooms I got really inspired by pictures of kids’ bedrooms which had exciting things to play on:

Swings. // 32 Things That Belong In Your Child's Dream Room

If we only had the height! Courtesy of

Or doorways to magical places….

wardrobe entrance to kids' playroom

Through the wardrobe to another world. Courtesy of

Friends of ours installed a fireman’s pole in their son’s bedroom so that he could slide out of his bunkbed. He wanted to make a hole in the floor too so that he could get down to breakfast before his sisters in the morning, but I think that request was successfully deflected.

All this to say I was determined to create fun and interesting spaces, whilst still listening to what makes my boys tick. The football team devotions were hard to ignore, though a few accessories don’t look so bad. The Man Utd and Chelsea duvet covers aren’t my favourite features, but oh so well loved.

With this in mind, I was searching for curtain materials which had a timeless appeal, a quirkiness that reflected each boy’s character. I chanced upon the website for Fancy Moon, a true paradise of bright and joyful Japanese import fabrics, characterful designs, retro-inspired patterns and design hubs such as Kokka and Robert Kaufman. It was there I met these guys:

...or are we dancers? Caleb Gray's Robot Factory

…or are we dancers? Caleb Gray’s Robot Factory

I love the colour combinations, and for machines they seem to have perfected some nifty moves. I was sold. So was Malachy. The window in his room is low and snug under the eaves. A perfect frame for this collection of mechanical friends. Here’s what they look like:

malachy curtains openmalachy curtains shut

Having made my case so clearly for keeping things eclectic, fresh and free from the constraints of theme, of course I wouldn’t ever consider buying this robot light, would I?

Standing guard

Standing guard

Not unless he had a heart….



I’m a fan of the curvy, sleek potential of Corian or any of the other plastic composites. We used it on both our working surfaces, and created some ‘legs’ to wrap around the peninsula units. The installers moulded half of the structure in their workshop, then grafted in the other vertical piece on site. A pretty hefty and substantial delivery, I think they were grateful for the wide-spaced doors but less impressed with the quagmire and lack of steps up to the kitchen… sorry guys.

One giant leap for access...

One giant leap for access…

We went for stainless steel underslung sinks rather than the Corian mouldings, because I wasn’t sure whether my boiling water tap would warp the material in time. Probably it would have been fine, but I didn’t want to risk it. Anyway, since we went for a creamy white colour there was a lot of potential for stains and discolouring, as well as the fact that the metal gives a bit more when you drop things on it, so I am less likely to break things in clumsy moments.

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It was the end of October, and an icy wind was sauntering brazenly through the 5cm gaps around the door and window frames. A thick layer of dust and small stones covered the rough-finished concrete floor and a cheap stainless steel sink hunkered in a rickety plywood worktop. We’d just moved into our dream home and I was preparing party food for Caspar and 20 of his friends surrounded by breeze-blocked walls and removals boxes. This was not exactly how I’d planned it.

Keep Calm and Find the Chopping Board

Keep Calm and Find the Chopping Board

There were positives: our shiny new stove and extractor fan were settled regally in the chimney space, we had a fridge which produced ice cubes from a dispenser (no, the irony is not lost on me) and a boiling water tap arched with surreal modernism from the jagged surface of the island unit. All our pans, plates and glassware were stowed safely in my carefully imagined Ikea units. I was operational. Just not smug.

Spool forward to Christmas Day and we were cosily, brightly splinter- and dust-free, with smooth edges and warm floors. Insulation, plaster, paint, corian, walnut, glass and chrome had all happened, and our kitchen was the welcoming hub of the home. I still wasn’t smug; just relieved and rather drained.

So what did we do? We doubled the size of the kitchen to incorporate a space for eating and hanging out, by building a one-storey extension out into the garden. It was the one bit of proper, serious structural work in our renovation project. This left the original kitchen space free to fill with useful cupboards and drawers, a wealth of storage. And the eating and sitting area overlooks the garden through glazed bi-fold doors.

Now, I love the price and practicality of an Ikea kitchen. We have long espoused the use of wide, easy-to-peruse drawers, which trump the dingy cupboard arrangement in any contest. Even our corner cupboards have the nifty wire pull-out shelves which house all the lumpy bake-, tupper- and picnic-ware. ‘Ware’ cupboards, as it were. We decided on a black-brown wood finish for the drawers and under-worktop cupboards, then a gloss white for the bank of larder doors and for the wall cabinets.

A glimpse of the capacious dark wood drawers

A glimpse of the capacious dark wood drawers

Predictably, our gleaming larders also have drawers in, a mixture of wire trays and solid-bottomed. I have sectioned and categorised my ingredients with obsessive verve, gleefully stocking up on, respectively, interesting jars, spices, tins, nuts and seeds/dried fruits, cereals, pastas and grains….

You see the light streaming in at the corner of the picture? This is an incredibly cute mini-bay window with a generously deep sill which I use to house various flora and (fake) fauna.

Still healthy-ish - my doomed houseplant collection

Still healthy-ish – my doomed houseplant collection

It’s not the camera exposure, those leaves are a little yellow. Nurturing plant life is rather low on my list of priorities, so only the brave tend to survive.

It’s getting late. I’ll be back soon, though, with Part Two. Next time I’ll tell you about the worktop and my splash(back) of colour, and give you the lowdown on just how finicky a newly laid wood floor can be.

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