Attic Guest Room Reveal - The Housemaid's Tale

Once upon a time in the industrial north, there lived a young housemaid. She was grateful for lodgings in the servants quarters and kept out of sight of the household unless her presence was called upon. She kept the house clean and tidy. She made fires in grand fireplaces. She drew the heavy drapes, she lifted the expensive locally loomed carpets and swept the parquet floors. And after a hard day’s graft, having already tucked up Mi’Lady in her fancy four poster, she quietly climbed the steep steps to the dingy attic bedroom that wasn’t quite home. She dreamt of faraway places and grand houses with shit hot wallpaper…

The new attic guest room with wallpaper by  Anna Hayman Designs

The new attic guest room with wallpaper by Anna Hayman Designs

I often wonder about the people who lived in our house before we did. I’ve done a bit of research and actually, it hasn’t had all that many owners considering it is over 150 years old. People tend to stay here and bring their brood up, then move to something more manageable when they start to rattle around.

It’s a big old chunk of a house. It was built in 1875 for a local brewing family who were by no means Lords of the land, but had enough money for a maid. It’s lofty to say the least and my London friends love to tell me how much it would be worth if it were situated somewhere with a more sought after postcode. They mean well.

There are a full four floors if you include the cellar and the house renovation has involved revamping all of them. NOW do you see why it’s taken so long?

The attic, where the maid would have slept is the last floor to get the House Candy treatment. It is our guest bedroom and sadly, has always been a bit of an after thought. Like the youngest child of the family it gets the hand me downs and the junk finds. I doubt the day will ever come when we lavish new furniture on this room because there are always bigger priorities. So what do we do if we need to up the ante of a space without buying new furniture? WE DO WALLPAPER, that’s what we do… So pleased to see you haven’t forgotten the basics whilst I’ve been away.

Anna Hayman Designs  Wanderlust  wallpaper in Blush

Anna Hayman Designs Wanderlust wallpaper in Blush

Up on the top floor, I wanted to create an overall sense of tranquility. This is where we retreat if one of us can’t sleep. It also has a frequent visitor in one of my best friends, who combines her trips to see us with visits to see her mum in a nearby care home. I wanted this to be a space she could really unwind and forget about the bad stuff when she comes to stay.

I didn’t deliberate for long about the style of wallpaper. I knew I wanted to tap into that vintage vibe which suits this crooked space so well. I tried a few tile-like samples as a departure from the florals I usually go for and because I wanted to bring a sense of time travel to the space. This pattern, by my current design crush Anna Hayman Designs, feels both Victorian and a bit space age (and anyway, it’s called Wanderlust which is pretty much my favourite word in the dictionary, so that was that).

The attic room slopes into the eaves - a pretty useless cavity, but which makes it feel spacious. I chose Farrow and Ball’s Elephant’s Breath to match the background of the wallpaper and used this on the three walls and ceiling to create an enveloping effect that detracts from the awkward shape. The fireplace wall is the main event and papering the whole wall gave it a heightened sense of importance.

I went dark with the woodwork for the first time ever and I’m so pleased I took the plunge. Dark woodwork draws the eye downwards, which works when you’re dealing with different ceiling heights within the same room. Farrow and Ball’s famous Downpipe was the perfect match.

Farrow and Ball’s  Elephant’s Breath  envelopes the room which is outlined by woodwork in  Downpipe.

Farrow and Ball’s Elephant’s Breath envelopes the room which is outlined by woodwork in Downpipe.

I’m actually excited for the next time my husband goes out, get’s hammered and comes back snoring his head off. Instead of banishing him to the servant’s quarters, I’ll be delighted to leave him tucked up in the master bedroom and tip toe up into the attic to carry on with my dreams.

Do you struggle with choosing wallpaper and paint? It occurred to me that I could be some sort of personal shopper for the interior challenged. There are people I know who LOATHE wallpaper shopping and yet I’d put it up there with drinking strawberry mojitos at sunset as something I am unlikely ever to tire of. Drop me a line if you need help!

I’ll be revealing more of the stories behind the House Candy revamp over the next few weeks so please do keep checking in. Oh and if you thought this one made for a good read, I’d be so grateful if you’d share the post.

Happy Wallpaper Wednesday everyone, my new favourite day of the week.

Claire x

Get your design-fest feet on

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever” John Keats

Keats totally gets House Candy was my first musing of the day as I stepped out of bed this morning. And as a champion of beautiful design in general, Keats would have loved this week’s London Design Festival too.

Tracey Neuls shearling slippers 

Tracey Neuls shearling slippers 

This is the week when brands, artists and creatives from all sectors of the design world collaborate throughout the city in celebration of their craft.

Whether you’re into architecture, sculpture, interiors or, in fact, shoes there is a design event to get your creative juices flowing. For a full list of events throughout the week, click here. 

Now I’m your typical London tourist and a true urbanite would suss that I’m from out of town way before I flagged down a black cab from the wrong side of the road. I’m the one studying the tube map intently and following google maps around in circles with too many bags and too high a heel.

Yesterday I attempted to do London Design Festival in seven hours. I failed (obviously) and am now home annoyed at my amateurishness, peeved at what I’ve missed out on and stinking of Deep Heat.  

So if you're thinking of tackling the London Design Festival trail this week, can I point you in the direction of Tracey Neuls in Marleybone as a starting reference please? 

Here you can ooh and ahhh at the deliciousness of the beautifully crafted footwear like a true design officianado, (quote a bit of Keats if you fancy, the arty crowd loves that) But you can also purchase footwear that sends out all the right style notes to your fellow design lovers, whilst ensuring the schlep across town is a comfy one. 

Tracey Neuls is a verified haven for the weary design lover, having turned its Marylebone store into a bedroom.

The Tracey Neuls Marleybone bedroom installation for London Design Festival.

The Tracey Neuls Marleybone bedroom installation for London Design Festival.

That’s right, a King Size McQueen bed by British Modern furniture designer Matthew Hilton dominates the space, dressed in finest The Linen Works linen. My favourite Michael Anastassiades lamp for Flos glows through the night as a variety of special guests host “pillow talks” on their favourite topics of design.

Hop on the bed, try on a pair of stunningly beautiful hand made shoes, or get under the covers and take in the dream-scape of floating footwear hanging from the ceiling. The staff in there won’t mind a bit and will even run you through a few not-to-miss Design Festival events if you ask nicely.

Taking pitty on my aching feet, passionate Brand Manager, Jane Howard, was even happy for me to pop on a pair of electric blue shearling slippers whilst she kindly charged my phone. My once beloved River Island buckle ankle boots were killing me and, I realised, not at all up to doing the Design Trail distance. They may have been a joy for last season, but a joy forever they are not. And that’s not a marker of great design is it? John Keats knew it, Tracey Neuls knows it and now Claire Price knows it too.

Next time I do Design Festival darling, I’m wearing these:

Petrol blue patent lace ups, £185  Tracey Neuls.

Petrol blue patent lace ups, £185 Tracey Neuls.

Happy Design Festival all,

Claire x

 

My Mate, Matisse and My House Candy

In what is a retail first for me, last weekend I made a shopkeeper very happy for not paying for something. 

I tried, but he wouldn't let me. Jeez, maybe this 80 year old antiques dealer has mistaken me for that other celebrity blogger with the 30 million followers and the power to catapult his little backstreet shop into the Sunday papers, I thought. Is this what winning the Interior Blog Awards could do for me? (vote here to find out)

Here's what actually happened.

Edward, who looks like a mad scientist (and if he hasn't discovered the essence of eternal youth, has definitely found the secret to eternal happiness) runs a small antiques shop in the North Yorkshire village of Knaesborough and has done for the past 40 years.

In it, I'd found and set aside various old bits of furniture, an emerald glass tea set, some odd bits and bobs that were gathering dust on windowsills and on my last scoot around, checking I hadn't missed any unmistakeable House Candy, I pointed at this picture. 

"Do you like it?" he asked. 

"Great colours", I said, because I was still deciding if I did or not.

"It's pastels", he said, "It will smudge if you take the glass off. It's in the style of Matisse."

"I know," I said, feeling rather smug. I did art at A level, I remembered loving working with pastels and the satisfaction of manipulating the chalky colours with my fingers and thumbs. And I totally recognised the fluid shapes and merging figures of the French impressionist. There looked to be several couples cavorting in this scene. In fact, it looked like there was a lot of love (and maybe a bit of acid) in the subject room and I suspect Edward could have provided further background to the scene had I pressed him on it.

"How much?" I asked, a question which cracks a smile with most salesman, but which initiated an ear to ear grin on 80 year old Edward. He nudged me and with a wink replied,

"You can have it," and he proudly took it down from the wall.

"I did it myself, many years ago and it's been up in my attic. My wife told me I had to have a clear out so it won't be such a big job for everyone when I die. I'm ready to die you know, I won't mind." He said quickly, in case I should feel at all sorry for him. 

He clambered down his steps, refusing help and all the time regarding his work and muttering about the special times he spent painting with his son. When he got to the point of writing me out a paper receipt for my other items (the bit he likes best apparently), he added:

"It's been on the wall a few weeks now and you are the first person to show an interest."

I like being that person that paid an interest in Edward's artwork. I like that this picture makes me want to pick up a box of pastels and make my own art - something I haven't done since I passed my A level. And I really like Edward for still feeling the buzz when someone appreciates his work.

Edward rocks and so does my new, acid coloured pastel on paper. I'm calling it "Party On Edward". And I know he totally will. 

Thank you so much if you have voted for me already in the Interior Blog Awards Best Design Inspiration category. I'm sorry for going on about it but I really have absolutely no chance in this phenomenally tough category if I don't big myself up, like 10 million times. In fact, I'm the Edward in a category full of Matisse's. I'm just hoping you'll be the one who notices me.

Happy Weekend all,

Claire x