Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Merry Christmas to you all!

A lovely reader asked for a Christmas styled Border Oak home and so I searched my archives and found this - our home, decorated for Christmas three years ago! It was quite funny looking through the pics and seeing how the house and our decorations have changed - basically there are a lot less because 
a) I have no time to make all the little details and fun things and
b) Gabriel has no appreciation of 'seasonal interior arrangements'  - in his mind a bauble is a ball, a wreath is a throwing device, flowers are for eating and presents are for giving back to whoever gave it to you (I know, what kind of child doesn't like opening presents?!)
But I thought this may just get us in a festive mood.............

 The surprising thing is how well the landscaping has done over the last three years - the beech hedge at the front is now 4ft high and THICK! It all looks a bit sparse in this pic but in reality it is quite verdant! Well, it is currently under 7 inches of white fluff.

The hallway table has gone - but you can see my beloved Sophie Cook pots and the Cote Bastide jar I bought from a gorgeous shop call Igigi - in Hove. I think it has featured in a few Border Oak photo shoots! This is a prime example of what has changed - can you imagine Gabriel and a table of candles? OMG as a teenager would say.

 The sitting room is still pretty much the same as this - the tree is bigger and in a different position with a few more decorations (I like to buy one or two a year, last years polar bear and Mins home made angel are current favourites) Breakable stuff is at the top, the rest is fair game.

We have just moved the kitchen table around so we can squeeze a few more chums round for New Year. I love the wooden chair, made locally and recently gave one to my adorable God son whose 1st Birthday it is today. Min and Gabriel still use theirs and lots of people ask about them - I know that they are completely non Health and Safety but neither of mine have ever fallen out. Jumped, yes, but not fallen.

 Gypsophylia is much underrated if you ask me - pretty, subtle, frothy and inexpensive = perfect flower.
I am wondering about changing my lights - I still love them, but they seem to be everywhere I look now and change is good right?

It's not this tidy anymore - not even close. New blinds in the new year, yippee (and maybe new cushions and rug too, but don't tell Ben).

I LOVE WREATHS - I love how they look, I love making them. This year we have a viburnum wreath which isn't as pretty but was all that I had in the garden. I used my french pruning clippers with leather handles bought at Daylesford which was a JOY. I am a girl of simple pleasures (some might say a simple girl)

Min found this feather and it sits in my memory cupboard now - she is very good at finding things for my 'brochurees' as she says.

again, a 'free' wreath made from ivy found in the lane behind my house - it was hanging from a tree so was long and perfect for winding around the stairs - this was the left over end. THis year someone beat me to the hanging ivy so we are greenery free - apart from Mistletoe!

And some little details........

And so although my house no longer looks this neat or this green, I hope you enjoyed this distinctly Christmassy post. It is snowing here and so it is time to crack open the mulled wine and wrap some pressies.

Merry Christmas to you all - I hope you have a wonderful, relaxing day with the people that mean the most to you.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

calling all border oak house owners!

I have just been sent these gorgeous photos of a Border Oak house in the snow - one of them now graces the border oak website home page - www.borderoak.com. Thank you Alison!

And this got me thinking.............
Email me a few snaps of your Border Oak house in the snow or frost (you can be as artistic as you like - ie out of focus) and I will enter you all into a draw for a famous Border Oak goodie box and the best pic can be our Christmas card next year with a donation going to a charity nominated by the winners!

Isn't this just lovely - like the winters of my childhood (or is that my mind playing nostalgia tricks on me?) The river in my village has however frozen over for the first time since 1963........my dad has lived there since a baby and he remembers the whole village walking on the river, including a horse and cart (yes, he is OLD) Strangely they also had a bonfire on the ice, which seems to me to be a Health and Safety violation?

The house is picture postcard perfect - a lovely cottage which also featured on My Flat Pack home - which I have just heard has been recommissioned because the first series was the Home channels most watched programmes. Excellent news!

And speaking of Christmas cards I am off to collect this years from the most amazing letter press printers (in nearby Ledbury) tomorrow - I will write a new post about that once I have collected them because it really is worthy of a whole post. My most exciting 'find' of the whole year I think.

no 4 - the floor plans

Lots of you have asked for the cottage floor plans - so here they are. I made a few changes to these - omiting the kitchen door, rejigging the upstairs landing  and bathroom door and re positioning the kitchen units and bathrooms suites - little things that have made quite a big difference to the house which has a small foot print (so space maximisation is crucial).

If I were to give any tips for working with a small ish cottage it would be this:

1) Plan your kitchen and bathroom layouts with the utmost care - and be clever rather than crowd the rooms with units and fittings. For example all the kitchen appliances are built in which means the eye isn't drawn to unsightly white goods (which make a small room look cluttered). We bought a small dresser to act as a larder and display, which matches the units but also works as a stand alone feature. We used a concealed cistern in the downstairs WC for the same stream lined approach and turned the bathroom door outward (so it opens on the the landing) which gave more useable floor area.

2) Think of  any potential 'view through' opportunities. I made sure you could see the outside from one end of the house to the other - aligning door ways and making sure colour schemes were tonal/complementary from one room to the next. Your eye can then 'borrow' space from the adjoining room and has an extended line of vision which gives the perception of spaciousness.

3) Consider the interior treatments - I chose oak boards for the entire ground floor so that your eye isn't disturbed by different materials and the rooms have a harmonious relationship (it is also less expensive because , despite oak being more costly than travertine, the slab could be laid to one level and we only needed one trade to lay the flooring (a carpenter - versus a carpenter and tiler if we had two coverings)
I also had the ceilings, windows and walls painted the same colour throughout - I think having white ceilings can work when the ceiling is flat, but not when the ceiling is vaulted or sloping. We painted the upstairs doors the same colour so that we didn't have 'wood wars' (ie too much wood, conflicting against itself in terms of colour, texture and general orangeyness)

4)Buy the best you can - one advantage of a small house is that there isn't much to buy in general , and so you can probably afford to finish the house well. Hand made roof tiles, hand knapped cobbles, oak flooring, blacksmith made fittings, reclaimed stone hearth - all make a big difference in little cottage but proportionally aren't that much more than 'cheaper' alternatives. It would have been less expensive to have flat ceilings but the vaulted ceilings are a significant feature and make the upstairs feel large and bright. Luckily the house was so pretty externally that I only had to spend about £800 on plants and shrubs to 'green' up the lovely courtyard and pathways.

If I think of anything else I will let you know...............and if you have any specific questions do leave me a comment, I love to read your comments and it makes writing the blog worthwhile. Thank you!

Monday, 6 December 2010