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

My Victorian house renovation - the final push!

Apologies for the radio silence but frankly, I didn't feel that writing about skirting boards was a valuable use of time given that our lives have been turned upside down by the final phase of Project House Sanctuary. It's all hands on deck as we push for completion of this monster house renovation within the next month.

My first ever en-suite!

My first ever en-suite!

Unpredictably, the upstairs has proved far more challenging to manage than the downstairs. It seems I can cope without a kitchen far easier than I can cope without a bed or a bathroom which, in hindsight, shouldn't have come as that much of a surprise, since I like sleeping far more than I like cooking.

Far from sanctuary status, as a family we are currently teetering on the other end of the calmness spectrum, camping in the attic with no shower and a daily challenge of locating essential belongings. 

The boys have given up even trying to manage their mess. It's a free for all of washing piles and discarded footwear, proving to me beyond doubt that the state of your home and your mind are intrinsically linked. 

A family holiday came just at the right time for us all. It was a perfect opportunity for House Candy Andy to rip out the family bathroom (the last room to get the Wreck-It-Ralph treatment) and for me to sit on a sun lounger with my pad and pen sketching out living spaces that could actually spark joy thanks to their functionality, elegance and in added cool factor.

So here's a few pics by way of a progress report for those of you that have been following the journey so far (and can I just take the opportunity to thank everyone who has messaged me and offered words of support!)

The Boot Room

boot room.JPG

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the entrance is going to be my favourite space in the house. I've dipped my toe into the dark(er) side with Farrow and Ball's Charleston Grey as the background to what promises to be a very warm welcome home. I decided to take the colour to the most dramatic effect by painting the ceiling, coving, skirtings and door frame the same colour. I've left the window boards white to bring this out as a feature.

The new brick fireplace will house a fire grate and HCA played a masterstroke by adding another alcove as a much needed log store.  

Pops of lime green, with lots of lush plants will provide a transitional space from the outside, in. Storage is key here with the old dairy cabinet set to become a swoon-worthy shoe cupboard and a Victorian storage bench reclaimed from my son's Grammar School giving us the luxury of a place to sit and kick off our boots. 

If furniture could speak this old storage bench would have a 100 years of school gossip to tell 

If furniture could speak this old storage bench would have a 100 years of school gossip to tell 

In the adjoining downstairs loo, the old butlers sink from the demolished outbuilding has scrubbed up well enough to be fitted onto the legs of an old singer sewing machine. This is a sentimental touch as both my gran and my mum used to sew regularly on this style of machine.  HCA has promised to make me some taps out of copper piping and with budget stretched to breaking point any opportunity to save a little bit of dollar is most definitely welcome.

I like to add a bit of glamour where it's least expected so the boot room, functional as it sounds, is going to get a great ballroom style chandelier to make it feel special. 

This space leads straight into the hall and I wanted to make these two spaces connect, without merging them into one. The Victorian Minton tiles are the showstopper here and they are also the inspiration for the colour choices in all rooms that feed into this central anchor of our home. 

I've kept the walls and panelling deliberately simple, allowing as much light as possible to flow into this space which is limited on natural light as it is a semi. Interest will hopefully be added with artwork and accessories which I look forward to updating you on very soon!


The en-suite


Ridiculous as it sounds, our new en-suite bathroom looks set to be the first room of the renovation to actually be 100% finished. I went for a period style sink from Victorian Plumbing as I wanted to see as much floor space as possible. I've gone for small-scale white herringbone mosaic tiles on the floor which really plays with the proportions of the room and a crackled glaze subway tile in the shower (which I'm less enamoured with, but hey, it does the job).

The shower situation has been problematic and we're still waiting on a replacement for a faulty part from Victorian Plumbing after a couple of days of swearing and head scratching from HCA. Meantime, we're all taking it in turns to have baths in the tiny slipper bath in the attic. The boys moan but I think they are all secretly enjoying the extra chill out time that bathing allows.

The en-suite is also Charleston Grey but it looks less brown in here where there is more light and white than it does in the boot room. This shade does a great job of bridging the tricky gap between cream tiles, white floor and white sanitary ware and also went brilliantly well with Marks and Spencer's gorgeous wooden beaded Mila chandelier to bring a bit of boho glam into the proceedings.

In the bedroom, I've gone for classic F&B Elephant's Breath which, unlike its name suggests, is fresh and sensual. We have long-standing sleep issues in our house and I needed a soothing neutral that would work with my vintage accessories without being too girly for Richard. Layering will be key in here and I plan to mix and match textures without going too crazy on the colour palette, opting instead for a more pared back take on vintage glamour.

The boys have switched rooms because you know that Arsenal map wallpaper that I was convinced would stand the test of time for George? well guess what, now he's 14 he wants rid. It was extortionate money at the time so there's no way I'm scraping it off. Instead my younger son who would happily have us cover him head to toe in Arsenal wallpaper, is delighted to be moving in. Both boys' rooms have been given a lick of Farrow and Ball's Cornforth White which is actually a very lovely pale grey and with any luck the carpets will be fitted this week which means an end to three months of bedroom sharing for these two and I actually think they're going to miss each other!  

The Family Bathroom

new bathroom.JPG

The family bathroom is the last room on the renovation hit list but is by no means least. We've gone all out on period detailing with luxury double height skirtings, deep coving and a central ceiling rose to really make the room feel grand. As an extra treat, we've re-used the fireplace from the old dining room as a feature for the chimney breast wall. It won't be a working fireplace but it will add further drama to the room. I've ordered the biggest bathtub I could find for a truly indulgent spa-like experience in this bathroom - the ultimate switch off sanctuary for our busy team (and big enough to cope with at least a couple of mucky footballers)

Again I'm keeping the bathroom fixtures and fittings classic because I want a timeless feel that will be impossible to fall out with. Throughout this renovation, I have been conscious of not repeating our past decorating mistakes. We have always tried to do the best we could afford, but in many cases it has led to additional, unnecessary expenditure further down the line. This bathroom is for keeps so I make no apologies for its safe-ness design wise. There are lots of places in a home where you can experiment with trends, but in my mind, the bathroom isn't one of them. 


kitchen update.JPG

We have held off installing the flooring downstairs until most of the muck and debris is out of the way and we're hopeful that we are approaching that welcome milestone very soon. I've actually got used to the raw concrete floor in the kitchen/ dining area but I'm sure the lovely herringbnone Amtico we have chosen will be the perfect icing on the cake. 

Speaking of cake, it's t'husband's birthday weekend, it's sunny outside and there's a half eaten chocolate sponge cake with my name on it within arm's reach. I'm a good half stone heavier at the end of this renovation than I was at the beginning which I put largely down to the comfort eating and increased wine consumption that has helped see me through. Still, there's every possibility that we will be living on rice and beans for the next five years so let's call this next slice stockpiling and say no more about it, deal?

See you soon for some exciting big reveals (EEK!)

Happy weekend all,

Claire xx