a place for dinner

a place for dinner

Although we are lucky enough to have a few options regarding where we can eat, sometimes we just want to eat in the living room, where the big woodburner is and where we can watch TV. When we’ve done this in the past, it’s had to be on the sofa, eating dinner on our laps – or if I want something less slouchy, I’ll eat at my desk, which is in the living room. Sofa/desk dining just does my head in. Not only is it pretty uncomfortable, it bugs me that we are not using what we we have. We went to the trouble of having a big concrete table made in the Well Room, but this has been so under-used. If the truth be told, I’ve never really liked it since we had resin applied, which changed its look and colour – but that’s another renovation story, as we’re currently tackling it and giving it a big make-over. We also have a breakfast bar in the kitchen which comfortably sits two, and we do use this at meal times, but again, it’s not as ideal as a table, especially if there are a few dishes and you want to spend a leisurely hour or so, eating and drinking and chatting. And then, suddenly, right in front of me, I saw the answer. My desk.

Because it’s not really like a desk. It’s a very simple table, quite mid-century in style, with beautiful tapered legs and a bevelled edge, with a dinky little drawer. from IKEA. Made of ash, it has a beautiful grain pattern, and as it ages the color deepens moderately towards a deep straw color, with the tapered legs in solid birch giving a warm, natural feeling. And the perfect size for two. It was moved to where we thought it might work as a dining table and tried for size – and the decision was made there and then, that this was an ideal solution. Although we now have hot foot it back off to IKEA to buy the same again, so that I still have a desk.

We didn’t want to have to bring chairs in from the Well Room whenever we wanted to eat, but had to have something that would enable us to use the desk as a dining table. Something that would be unobtrusive and able to be packed away. Something just like these little rattan beauties we found in Jysk.

Of course, one change always leads to many more, so as well as having to get an additional Lisabo table to use as my desk, we’ve decided that the navy curtains are going. They’ll be used in The Snug, to hide away the freezer and the condenser dryer and storage shelving under the stairs, so will have a new home. In their place, as we’re going to IKEA anyway, we’ll be buying up a few pairs of the sheer curtains, so that we can still have a bit of a backdrop in the living room, but not as blocky. The curtains are long and light and will be perfect for those spring days when we can have windows open and they billow in the breeze.

Our home is gradually becoming a beautiful neutral palette of whites and sandy colours. The kind of home that might just appeal to someone wanting to buy a property in the sun, to spend their summers in…










string curtains…

string curtains…

Our bedrooms are not overlooked and so we don’t necessarily need curtains at the windows. But sometimes, curtains – or a simple roller blind – can just finish off a window. We have installed white roller blinds in all of the window recesses, because even though we feel OK about having “naked windows”, visitors may well prefer the feeling of privacy. In our bedroom, we’ve always had sheer muslin drapes, because the double window wall, although painted white, is still natural stone and so the curtains soften the wall. We’ve now added floor length duck egg blue velvet blackout curtains, to each window, as even in the winter, early morning sunlight was wakening us up. Not a problem any longer!

Our third bedroom is the one used the least and it currently has the least pretty view, as although very high up, it does overlook the construction of a neighbour’s small stone cottage. I didn’t want to hang curtains as such in here, as I rarely go into the room, so the hassle of drilling a curtain pole into a thick supporting beam above the window, didn’t seem worth the hassle, as the curtains would hardly ever be closed. But, I still wanted to “finish off” both this window and the room, and obscure the work outside at the times we were in the room. Then, bingo! The solution came to me…

The grey curtain strings (there are four at this window) are usually at the front door in the summer, to keep files out, when it’s open, but during the winter they’re just hung up downstairs, not being used. They’re on a very lightweight rail, so no drilling was needed and they were up in minutes, doing exactly what I’d wanted – transforming the window and the room. Not blocking out the light during the day, but obscuring the view.

These string curtains were purchased from Jysk in Istria. In UK Jysk stores, they’re usually priced at £7.99 per curtain but I’ve just noticed (end of Dec 22) they’re on sale at just £5 per curtain. Bargain!

best purchase of the summer…

best purchase of the summer…

For quite a while now I’ve been longing for one of these chairs. But, the garden has never been quite finished, so the idea of swinging gently, whilst sipping a cocktail, seemed ridiculous. We had far too much else to do, to get the outside areas ship-shape, before I could even contemplate going to look for one. But sometimes, circumstances just happens. Call it serendipity, perhaps…

On a trip to Bauhaus, our equivalent of B&Q, in the spring, I spotted one of these chairs and almost made the purchase. But common sense got the better of me, for once. The colour was wrong – either a tangerine orange (nice, but not right for our garden) or a natural wicker (nice, but with a black frame and the contrast was too much). Plus, it was very squeaky – and although this was the shop model and so that could have contributed to its squeakiness, I figured it wasn’t worth the risk of buying one, and it making annoying noises every time someone sat in it. So, that was it.

Until my next trip to Jysk – I think to buy additional plates to this set. And guess what they had in stock?

No squeaking. All one colour – a perfect colour, to be honest, as it’s not quite black, may well be anthracite? – but the best colour to go with everything else garden wise. And, best of all – reduced. 25% off when we bought it at the beginning of the summer. Really easy to assemble and with proper water-proof cushions – we know because we’ve stupidly left it out in heavy rain – it proved to be the hit of the summer in our garden. It works well along with the sofa so we now have two very comfy options – if you to swing, you can swing. If you want to lie, you can lie.

But now that summer is fading, we’ve had to think about what to do with our garden chair over the winter. To be honest, it’s still warm enough to sit outside at the moment, but all of the sofa cushions are inside, and the sun is lower in the sky, so the egg chair wouldn’t be quite the lounge-fest it is in the height of summer. So, it has a new home – and now has pride of place in our renovated Snug.

Over the winter, we use this room at the bottom of the house a lot, because it’s very cosy, with a big L-shaped sofa and a woodburner and all of the TV channels we could possibly want. Well, this year, I think our winter might have just got better, as with just a tiny swivel, our egg chair, will probably become a coveted seat for TV watching. We are very lucky that we have this renovated space downstairs, providing us with the perfect place to store this summer chair, over the winter. Although, with the addition of a cushion and a velvet throw, it’s kind of become a winter chair. A chair for all seasons, if you like…

irregular crockery

irregular crockery

Our renovated kitchen is small, but with everything we need, and is painted in a soft grey to maximise the feeling of space. Worktops are kept largely clear of clutter, again to ensure that we don’t feel hemmed in. We carefully worked on the design of the room, to ensure that we had sufficient cupboards, drawers and shelving so that most things could be kept behind soft closing doors.

But, even in our new de-cluttered world, I still have a bit of an obsession about beautiful crockery. Not the expensive kind, that you’re too afraid to use, in case it gets cracked, chipped or smashed. Not so much the IKEA kind, either – although we do have crockery from here, it’s the bog-standard sets which are easily replaced when frequently cracked, chipped or smashed. What I like are pieces that are fairly inexpensive and a little bit different. And that’s what I recently found on a trip to Jysk. Check out this store if you’re not acquainted with it, as it’s a bit of a gem. (And, for Manchester friends, there’s one in Stockport).

When I spotted the crockery (above) it was a no-brainer that this were exactly what was needed in the newly painted kitchen. Unlike crockery you buy in sets, these are all individual pieces and as such, none match exactly, making them even better. The colour is predominantly a very soft blue, but greys and greens also run through the ceramic. As well as being mismatching in colour, the shapes are also irregular – the plates are quite oval, but the edges aren’t perfectly rounded. Same as with the bowls – which are the perfect size for pasta dishes and soups and stews. The one part of the “set” that is missing – because we also have small mug/cups – are side plates, which unfortunately, Jysk doesn’t seem to stock. A real shame, as these would finish off the collection.

The crockery is substantial and quite heavy, so less likely to crack or break, and is glazed, so retains its sheen. Best of all, it’s completely dish-washer proof – always a result in my book.