The Living Room

The Living Room

The living room, when we bought our Istrian stone house, was dark and oppressive. Walls were plastered in places, painted in places and in other places, the stone work was exposed. Window frames and external shutters were a faded green colour. The pine floor boards were untreated and the original beams, very dark and exposed.  The stair treads were also exposed, and there were no risers or spindles and no handrail, meaning that they felt very unsafe. The previous owners had left much of the furniture – all dark wood and dark brown leather, and definitely not our taste  – and all in all, it was a pretty unloved space.

This was the first room we tackled as we needed to have somewhere that would be a comfortable retreat from the renovation chaos going on around us, and as our furniture arrived from England within a couple of days of arriving, we had to accommodate quite a lot of it somewhere, away from the building work. One of the first things we did was paint all of the walls, including the exposed stone work, white, which immediately lifted the room. We also stumbled along with the ornate cast iron stove we had inherited but it was proving to be very efficient, and so when we spotted this concrete beauty we knew it would be perfect for what we were planning.

A new chimney had to be built from the Snug (immediately below the living room), as our Dovre Stove which we brought over from Didsbury was being fitted down there, and up through the living room, into the bedroom and out through the roof. New ventilation was also installed. The white walls did definitely make a big difference in the early days, and with some familair and some new furniture in place, we did have a cosy room we could retreat to at the end of a long day.

However, we’ve continued to chip away in this room and today, we think we might finally be happy with it, and be able to put away the paintbrushes. For the time being.

Those beams have all been treated for woodworm and caulked, as there were too many gaps and holes and we wanted clean lines between the beams and the ceiling. They were then undercoated and then top-coated with a soft grey satinwood.

The faded green paint on the windows and frames and external shutters was sanded away and the woodwork was primed, undercoated and finished in a very pale blue, to complement the grey beams.

I find it very difficult to look at a room and think that it’s finished, especially when the rest of the house is in renovation chaos. I suppose I should try much harder, but I can always see something else that needs doing, or I go somewhere and see something I like and have to incorporate into the house. Such has been the case with the living room. The white walls have definitely been much, much better than the exposed stonework, but something just wasn’t quite right – and a visit to a beautiful bar in Ljubljana told me what was missing…

I loved the deep navy and gold and the patterns and textures and accessories and knew that this was what the living room had been missing. so set about creating an area of the room that was dark and luscious.

We decided that as well as painting the wall a very, very dark navy, the time had come to tackle the floor. The pine boards were not looking good and so it was decided that the whole floor would be painted in the same soft grey satinwood as the beams, pulling the whole room together.

The very dark wall just lends itself to a bit of contrasting bling, so as well as the gold sprayed stove, these angel wings take pride of place. A purchase which I just couldn’t resist…

The white IKEA cube storage was also sprayed and I think it all looks a whole lot better. Instead of the white cubes dominating the room – and being very obviously IKEA – they now blend into their surroundings much more. The spray painting was all done outside and it was completed very quickly. meaning that we didn’t have to wait hours for paint to dry before putting books back and accessorising. The artwork is actually from Bauhaus – our equivalent of B&Q. I’d spotted something very similar on Pinterest and had been searching online to see if I could source something like it – and there it was, as we were buying paint 🙂

Those rickety old stairs were given a much needed safety overhaul and makeover, too. It was a bit of a concern to discover that some of the treads had never actually been secured, so they were brought forward – given more foot room – and all securely attached. We also fitted a wooden back to the stairs, meaning that they looked a whole lot safer and much sturdy. Those spindles, will, at some point, be replaced, but we decided that as the stairs were being painted, they might as well also have a lick of paint. Considering how pretty bland they are, we think they look quite a lot better in their new colour and disguised ever so slightly, with two faux sheepskin covers.

The final thing we did to finish off the room – for the time being! – was to repaint the sideboard, which the TV sits on top of. It had been a pale grey but was beginning to look a bit grubby, so the bavy blue satinwood came out again, and transformed it, into something quite beautiful and elegant…

And there you go. For not too much expenditure, a new living room, inspired by Kolibri Cocktail Bar, in Ljubljana.

 

Fantastic Faux

Fantastic Faux

I love fresh flowers. For the third year running, we’ve seeded up a few areas of the garden with wild flowers, because we believe that one day soon, these seeds will become something more than spindly stems and limp hanging heads. I always think something like this will emerge, because you’ve got to believe, haven’t you? But so far, not much luck…

Whilst we persevere outside – the seeds have been sown again – we’ve decided to go faux inside. The one parlour palm that we have got inside, has dwindled in size, as we forget to care for it. So, we’ve gone faux. Fully fake faux, because however forgetful we are, we can’t kill it and it will always look pretty. The house now has a plethora of greenery and unless we burn it down, the faux should last as long as we’re here…

This is a beautiful twine from Rockett St George. Bit pricey given what we’ve discovered since, but it’s still lovely and long enough to twist around the metal shelving. It does have the appearance and texture of a real plant, so I guess that’s what you pay for, if you’re a serial plant-killer. The creamy white ranunculus was just cut down so that it fitted into an empty caper jar, which I painted with the woodwork satin. I tend to keep glass jars, knowing that at some point in the future, they can be upcycled. Although these days, they get the spraypaint treatment – much more immediate results.

Our nearest B&Q style store, which we inevitably frequent a lot, stocks a good range of faux foliage and so a few blooms and branches always find their way into the trolley. An inexpensive and effective way of making a half renovated house look a lot more cheery.

These little potted beauties from IKEA are greta value – they’re the Fejka range and are incredibly reasonably priced at £4 for a three pack. I dread to think how many of these packs I’ve bought…

More Fejka IKEA plants – this time, hanging plants in baskets. I’ve found that these work best when a hanging basket/pot is large enough to accommodate two, at least three, of these faux plants so that there’s more density.

Our renovated beams are quite beautiful, even though we say so ourselves, but they needed just a little something else. Our garden is full of trailing ivy and this gave me the idea to wrap artificial vines around the beams, reflecting what is outside. The hanging foliage above the window are just two pots, sitting high on the beams – but because you can’t see the pots, the way they tumble, is very effective. Especially when they are lit up by the dimmers, in the evening.

The basket below, was originally used to store towels, but these branches of faux eucalyptus and the cornflowers and reeds, just looked so much prettier and so it has been repurposed. Definitely adds more layers of interest in the room and it feels a whole lot more spring-like.

The upstairs bathroom has a very high ceiling, with orginal beams and again, we’ve introduced vines and hanging foliage, as well as this very lovely pale blue striped jug from IKEA. The cornflowers make anther appearance, too, sitting on top of the mirrored cabinet.

And finally, these vines… All laid out and ready to be used. But where they have been wrapped is for another blog 🙂

So there you go. A very inexpensive way to accessorise rooms, add depth and detail and bring the outside in. Safe in the knowledge, that once they’re in place, apart from the odd dusting, you need never do anything with them again, and they will always look good.

 

Fifty Shades of Pink

Fifty Shades of Pink

Pink has never been my colour. I think I’ve always associated the colour with being “girly” and so have largely avoided it. But, I’ve been wrong, Oh, so very wrong. And now I’m letting pink into my life. The image above, sort of sums up why. From the palest baby pink through to almost plum, pink is pretty perfect. A colour for every mood.

I’ve been experiementing with pops of pink in the house. An old carpentry table, rescued from a family garage, and covered in old paint splodges and oil stains and wood cuts, took on a whole new lease of life when it was sprayed hot pink and stood defiantly at the top of the stairs…

And this got me thinking, about larger spaces and use of colour. Our stone house isn’t a style which lends itself to crazy colour, I don’t think. We’ve used quite bold colours, but they fit in with their surroundings. However, our thoughts are turning to another property. Hopefully, the next renovation project – and this one is potentially a blank canvas. So, inspiration is being sought and pink is featuring quite heavily. PInk concrete, especially…

 

Images : www.pinterest.com // Pink table : We Are Life Photography

Roxanich Wine & Heritage Hotel

Roxanich Wine & Heritage Hotel

We’re suckers for stylish interiors. The kind of interiors that we maybe wouldn’t be quite bold enough to go for at home, but love experiencing. And if anywhere does stylish interiors, it’s the new kid on the block in Istria – Roxanich Wine and Heritage Hotel.

When we moved to Istria in 2017, we’d often drive past a very intriguing, but derelict building, on the road below Motovun. A bit of research revealed that this had been a winery, and in its heyday it must have been majestic. And then one day, the demolition guys arrived and work started on it. We knew pretty soon that this renovation was going to pretty special, as even just from the roadside, we could see that sympathetic, but contemporary design, was the order of the day. It finally opened early 2019 and in the summer we were delighted to experience Roxanich.

Friends from Manchester came out to stay out to stay with us, and as a birthday was happening mid-visit, we booked into Roxanich, on their first night. The hotel has private parking – always good to know if you’re in a hire car, for example. We had thought that spaces would be at a premium, becasue you can see the car park, to the side of the hotel, from the road, and there are only about ten spaces here. However, Roxanich has this covered. With a car-lift, down to a secure underground car park. Very James Bond.

The hotel itself is an utter class act. Everything is on point. Perfect. It’s wild and raucous in terms of decor, in places, but cool, calm and supremely elegant, in others. It’s a hotel that knows when to be playful and when to be more decorous. The reception area is wide and expansive, with a sweeping arched ceiling and crittal doors, providing immense views across the Mirna Valley.

Roxanich Wine and Heritage Hotel, Motovun, Istria

As its name suggests, wine is at the heart of this hotel.

One of the greatest treasures of Roxanich estate are undoubtedly its wines. It is fitting then, that they should be kept safe, deep inside a hill. Visit our winery and cellars, snugly fit inside the landscape, based below the hotel…

We didn’t get to visit the wine cellars, but did check out the wine shop. Although “shop” doesn’t really convey just how beautiful this area is, which is accessible from both the hotel and the outside area, meaning if you’re passing and need a top quality bottle of wine, this is your place.

Roxanich Wine and Heritage Hotel, Motovun, Istria

So, to our room.

  • Bizarre;
  • Amazing;
  • Eclectic;
  • Views to die for;
  • Super comfy.

Did I say bizarre? And eclectic? A double dose of both! Imagine a room with a four poster bed. You’re not even close! Imagine that four poster bed, not with a wooden frame, but with a caramel coloured leather frame. Yep, that;s what we had, but you’re still not even close. Imagine that four poster bed, also being a… bunk bed. This is one of the Family Rooms, Roxanich-style. You in the bed. Kids up the ladder and onto the top double bunk. Only it’s also a proper, grown-up bed, with fabulous bedding, pillows and duvet. Perfect if you fall out. Although hopefully, not literally!

Roxanich Wine and Heritage Hotel, Motovun, Istria

Roxanich Wine and Heritage Hotel, Motovun, Istria

If you’re on a cheeky night away, sans-kids, but fancy the Family Room, let it be known that that this particular four poster bed has a mirrored ceiling. I know… 😉

Style-wise, this hotel is just sublime. Definitely not to everyone’s taste, but it ticked every one of our boxes. Playful, light-hearted and cheeky, but with super attention to detail. We love it. And, if we’re bold enough in our next reno project, who knows? Maybe we’ll find a new place for a mirror…

Roxanich Wine and Heritage Hotel, Motovun, Istria

Roxanich Wine and Heritage Hotel, Motovun, Istria

Roxanich Wine and Heritage Hotel, Motovun, Istria

. Yes, GOLD, metro tiles…

Roxanich Wine and Heritage Hotel, Motovun, Istria

Roxanich Wine and Heritage Hotel, Motovun, Istria

 

Les Papiers

Les Papiers

Not long ago, who’d have thought you, or me, could have a piece of Jean Paul Gaultier in your own home?

If you’re a fan of the unconventional designer, you can now have a roll (or two or three) of wallpaper from his couture collection, Les Papiers. We saw, and fell in love, with this gorgeous design, when we flicked through the showroom samples in David Gavin Design, in West Didsbury. Elegant, but utterly playful, the Recreation wallpaper features classical bathing beauties dressed in contemporary clothes, chubby cherubs and stripe-clad sailors, all vying for attention. It’s a definite hark back to 18th century Toiles de Jouy (meaning, “cloth from Jouy”), a type of print that is characterised by complex vignettes scattered over the surface. But with the immediately recognisable Gaultier motifs.

Although not in this house, I have a wall ear-marked for a couple of rolls of this stunning paper.

Just need to move first…

 

Malmö Central Station

Malmö Central Station

Interiors-wise, Malmö Central Station is about as beautiful as it gets. Designed by Swedish engineer and architect, Adolf Wilhelm Edelsvärd, it first opened in 1856, in what was then considered the outer edge of the city, but an area convenient to Copenhagen-bound ferries, which loaded and unloaded in front of the station building. The building was nearly destroyed in a fire ten years later, on 14 December 1866, eventually re-opening in 1872. In 2000, both local and long-distance trains began running directly to Denmark via the new Öresund Bridge.

In the UK certainly, we’re used to city stations with the usual fare of uninspiring convenience shops and foodplaces. Not in Malmö. The foodcourt is like a smaller version of the vibrant Torvehallerne Food Hall & Market, with a variety of independent outlets, serving freshly made food and drinks, from a range of international cuisines.

We arrived mid-morning so weren’t quite ready for an Indonesian curry – although could have had one if we’d wanted – and so settled for coffess and Danish (or were they Swedish?) pastries, before wandering into a beautiful chandelier bedecked cafe space. It was heaven – aqua blue metro tiles, ornate black pillars, a curved ceiling with metalwork struts holding it all in place and super gorgeous glass skylights. This huge, light, airy space was perfect for elegant potted palms and trailing foliage.

And then, this! Huge pendulous bronze lightshades, pannelled walls, reading lamps, wall storage cubes with books and magazines, plenty of charging points and sockets and a layout which encourages conversation.

How to do a modern railway station – for some people, the introduction to a city – by taking the old and mixing, so brilliantly, with the contemporary. (It’s also, btw, one of the cleanest stations I have ever been in, but I think that’s Scandinavian standards for you).

Going Green…

Going Green…

We’ve decided that the not-so-bottle-green bedroom wall, is staying. Despite it not being the colour I had in my mind’s eye, we’ve grown to really love it. And a bargain of a find in TK Maxx when we went to Graz, in Austria, sealed the fate of the colour – a beautiful green angle poise style lamp, which works really well against the new wall shade…

Gorgeous green angle poise lamp from TK Maxx, Graz, Austria

Gorgeous green angle poise lamp from TK Maxx, Graz, Austria

So, green has been on my mind recently. One of the next parts of the house that we’re intending to tackle, is the upstairs bathroom. Like the one downstairs, it’s small, but we’ve got a bit more floorspace to play with and it does have a natural space for the bath (where the sink and toilet currently sit opposite to each other). Because plumbing is already almost in the right places, we can hopefully fit a rainshower head over the new bath. I’d already found this image, and loved the copper/brass showerhead, but hadn’t really taken much notice of the green tiles…

The bathroom is going to be a real mix and match, in terms of style. The downstairs bathroom is now quite sleek and co-ordinated and so we feel that we can be a bit more adventurous with the other room. Once, what we thought was a negative – the size and shape of the bathroom – is now actually a positive, as it means we have to be a little more creative. Our thinking is that the bath will be quite a standard bath, but we’ll have a frame built around it as the footprint it will go into, is a bit of a cheese wedge shape, so the colour of this doesn’t matter so much. The sink and toilet will move to the wall under the window, and so these will be immediately visible, as they’ll be what you see as you enter the room. We do have a gorgeous enamel sink, rescued from a science lab in a school I used to teach in – one of those really deep, white, rectangular shaped sinks – and we have thought that this would be the new bathroom sink, mounted on a new plinth, with wall mounted taps over the sink. I have found out that you can actually paint these sinks, so that’s a possibility, if we can have it done professionally. But, whatever, I’ve been poring over Pinterest, and as ever, my interest has been aroused…

So, what do you think? Should we go green?