As you’ve probably noticed, I’m a big kid at heart and my interior choices often reflect that. But as we are celebrating a BIG milestone birthday at House Candy HQ this week, I thought I really ought to try and be a grown up. In fact I’ve dedicated a whole room to the idea - a place where we can go, away from the TV, the X-box… the kids ... and any day soon we might even have an adult conversation.
I didn’t want a separate dining room. I wanted one of those modern, family friendly, open-plan living/ dining/ cooking situations that everyone seems to have. But the fact of the matter is, I couldn’t. The reasons are both practical and sentimental.
Firstly there’s a fireplace wall in the way that goes all the way up into the attic so I’d really, REALLY need to dislike the current set up to get rid of that. And actually I don’t.
A separate dining room has distinct advantages. I’m a horrible cook. I mean, I can feed people OK, but I make an awful mess while I’m at it and it stresses me out beyond belief. With a separate dining room I can swear and spill and knock back a nervous vodka - and yet still emerge sweetly to my guests, bearing plates of adequate, if not michelin starred food.
But there’s also the silly reason that gets in the way of any major refurb ideas that I have for my place. You see, this old house has been this way for 140 years. Pulling a chimney bearing wall down feels a bit like wrenching a wisdom tooth out of my friend's mouth. This house has been good to me and I really don’t want to hurt the poor fellow.
So we’re holding on to the old fashioned separate dining room that, truthfully, only gets used for special occasions or special efforts. But isn’t there something very nice and grown up about that?
It does mean, however, that there has been limited budget to use on this “occasional” space and I’ve been forced to be a bit more creative with my finds.
This lovely armoire was being used to house antique nick-nacks at a local second hand shop. It was an un-loved mahogany old thing and my mum convinced me it was ripe for a makeover. A couple of coats of simple black paint has given it a modern update and it is now home to my Midwinter Zambesi pottery collection, champagne glasses and vintage glassware.
Given the budget, I would have had this fireplace ripped out years ago. Thank goodness I could never afford to! It’s not original and before I took my paintbrush to it, the fire surround was also dark stained wood and the tiles had a Remy Mackintosh style motif on them. We brushed over all of that and stuck to a simple monochrome colour palette. It would have cost me thousands in a fireplace shop and instead it cost me the price of two cans of paint.
Above it, the big, old, vintage mirror came from the first proper house we bought together (also Victorian). The brass camel was a souvenir from one of my late, grandparents’ adventures in far flung lands and I always like an orchid for adding a bit of the exotic to our little corner of Yorkshire.
As it’s a fairly small room, I wanted to let the period features do the talking in here and love its bright white emulsion walls at all times of day. I wanted a statement piece of art to finish it off and fell in love with the above print on holiday. Appropriately for my masculine brood, it’s called "The Lads" and it’s their only reference in an otherwise feminine scheme.
This little lady provides the glamour. I picked her up at the local second hand market for a measly three pounds! It’s a vintage poster and was all tatty at the edges, but a nice black frame was all it needed to bring her back to life. I love her and it reminds me of the kind of parties that were going on when this house was also in its teens.
My only major dining room splurges have been an oversized chandelier from Heals (try www.lauraashley.com for similar) and these Philippe Starck for Kartell Louis Ghost chairs (try www.johnlewis.com)
The chairs were just about the only new items we bought for our first home. Everything else was begged, borrowed or up-cycled, but since we couldn’t afford a new table (and I have never been a fan of matching sets) I knew that these chairs would make any old table worthy of a dinner party.
I wasn’t wrong. For 12 years they have been sat around a variety of hand-me-downs, until this Christmas we finally found one we wanted to buy. This is the Magis Tavolo rectangular dining table from functionally at my fave interiors hothouse, West Yorkshire’s fabulous Redbrick. At £575 I think it looks way more designer than its price tag, don’t you?
Regular readers will know I recently had a craving for a drinks trolley and I am pleased to report it has been satisfied with this £20 steal from www.gumtree.com. The brass pineapples were £10 for the pair from a second hand market ... but that was about 6 years ago, before they were remotely fashionable. With copycat versions all over the high-street, I imagine they would demand a heftier price tag now.
The latest addition to my grown-up dining room is this unique piece of modern art. Well OK, it’s a dressmaker’s dummy with a few sentimental bits and pieces pinned to it. But look, the brass pineapples were a joke a few years ago and just look how cool they are! I’m predicting mannequins as a major interiors trend people… commissions now being taken ;-)
And there it is. My special entertaining space, reserved for special times and special people. Grown-ups and 40 somethings most definitely allowed.
Let me know what you think below. I would LOVE to hear from you!