Dear Ben, please may we see…
30 September 2013
What’s been happening up at your flat in London?
Is a question that – if you happen to follow the comments section of the blog – comes up from time to time. Let me indulge you.
Well, it would be wrong not to have one or two photographs first of the beautiful autumnal morning in Dorset.
But for various reasons I was heading up to London today. A few things up here to catch up on, including, for instance, a visit to my friends David and Chris whose house, around the corner in Bloomsbury, we’ve been doing up. The walls of their bedroom and dressing room have just been lined in the most beautiful muddy green woven fabric from Colefax and Fowler and there were a few details to check. It’s looking insanely nice.
I’d been down west all week, working on a few projects – some potential new development around a beautiful little First World War grass airfield near Salisbury, and then down in Dorchester and Weymouth. It’s been good spending a week at the Parsonage, but was all the better, as a result, getting back up to London and to Queen Square. Not least because Helen, my cleaning lady, had been and converted a big pile of ironing and a bit of a mess from chaos into calm.
I remembered those requests on the comment page and thought to myself that now would be a very good time to take some photos.
And what have I been up to decoration-wise?
Absolutely nothing at all is the answer. If I’m honest, I’ve been just a bit too busy combined with funds not just not entirely permitting. I’m sure you know the feeling. (understatement of the century). But anyway, here were are:
I don’t think a great deal has changed in my kitchen has it? Perhaps the addition of a yellow bookcloth blind from Marianna Kennedy? Why I am dreaming of painting the floor boards pink or sky blue?
My friend Valentina gave me the ‘New Yorker’ cover for my birthday a few years ago. It’s from the date of my birthday. My actual birthday – the day, the year, the lot. There’s a one in seven chance of being born on the day a New Yorker was published, if you think about it. Conveniently, I was.
The Hare & Burke Poster is something I designed a very long time ago indeed, when I was a student at Edinburgh. For my old friend Ben Harrison when he was putting on one of his first plays at the Fringe. Just in case you thought my obsession with 19th century typography was something new.
The Situation Vacant painting, by Marianna Kennedy, is something altogether more special…
And will one of these days doubtless be the subject of a blog all on its own.
Needless to say I cannot recommend my Eames mug and tray, from the shop, highly enough (well, I think we might be out of trays). And I was particularly happy the other day when my kettle died and it was time to get a new yellow kettle. That yellow kettle was recommended by my friend Mo and it really cheers my mornings. Who knew we’d be so easy to please? I think that might be my first and last act as Prime Minister. Issue everyone in the country, perhaps even the world, with a yellow kettle.
I am sure the photograph of the hall is relatively familiar? The red chair you will recognise – it’s the same as the pair we used at Coed Darcy. The green on the walls, as you may be aware, is a 1950s colour from Papers & Paints, who have just mixed me the most beautiful in-between pink for my sitting room in Dorset.
It’s a good colour to hang your Barbara Jones or Kenneth Rowntree against.
I don’t think a lot’s really been going on in the sitting room since I got rid of the cluster.
My new cushion from the New Craftsmen seems very at home. I can’t believe I bought that blue-and-chocolate-cross from Jonathan Adler in New York about 14 years ago now. It seemed quite expensive at the time, but divided by 14 it’s not so bad is it? I don’t think it’s on to buy a Jonathan Adler cushion these days, but it’s okay if you got it while he still had just one little shop down on Broome Street (was it?). And that tomato-soup-coloured cushion was also an NYC purchase years and years ago. As, I might add, was my sofa, which started life looking very different in Crate & Barrel. The legs and frame I designed to be detachable so it would fit in and out of my old flat in Great Ormond Street.
(I’ve added this photograph after reading a comment asking about this sofa). I suppose that’s also a good view of my London map (if the map fits, hang it…)
One day I’m going to deal with my stack of WoI’s. This is not an easy task to cross off my list.
A few grey bits and pieces seem to have migrated to my Fornasetti chest of drawers, and seem to feel at home here.
There’s quite a cute book on the top of my reading pile at the moment. The Monocle Guide to Better Living. Deep in its pages, you might just find a photo of my sitting room.
Well. I do have plans for my sitting room, I promise you. I want to line the walls with some sort of slubby grey hessian or grasscloth. If I can find such a thing. I’m looking to design an ottoman with a needlepoint cover (I’m in the middle of designing some cushions for the brilliant charity Fine Cell Work, which is very exciting indeed, and will also surely be the subject of a blog one of these months). For some reason, I think the green library chair might be retired to the country. I bought an old chair in a junk shop about 18 months ago which has been sitting in the workshop of our poor upholsterer Esen while I decide what to recover it with. I can’t decide.
Here’s a corner of the bedroom. Walls in F&B Brinjal, which I really love sleeping in. The last Dahlias from Dorset. Now, what on earth would you do as a curtain in this room? Thoughts are very welcome. There is a blind to cut out the light but something else is needed I think. I’m channeling Muriel Brandolini printed cottons at the moment. Watch this space.
One of these days I might get around to making a lampshade for that old table lamp that I bought in a junk auction. Nine months ago? Maybe more.
Sharp eyed obsessives will notice that crazy splodge of blue on the wall. I’ve got bored of the dark red walls in the hall. Something’s going to happen there. I think not quite the cobalt blue. It might turn out to be the same Plum as I am planning for Dorset. Or maybe something else. Can you tell I’m feeling indecisive? Shocking Pink? Orange?
Frankly I’m pretty bored of my F&B Mizzle Bathroom too. Fine to move in with, but something’s got to happen here. I can’t quite predict what. It would be nice to make a lampshade for the wall lights. Well, I’ve only been here a year. It’s not very high on the priority list…!
The guest bedroom is saved, just about, from being far too old lady by the pair of Rob Ryan (for Spitalfields Life) china dogs. Guests might also add that the camera makes the bedroom seem far bigger than it actually is. It’s actually tiny. So, anyway, what curtains would you make with that lovely Morris paper? I can’t decide. Perhaps exactly the same as the wallpaper, that kindof 70s vibe?
What’s really been happening is happening outside. I’m half way through, with the help of my friend Mike from Dorset, of getting some planters going on my little roof deck.
The water tanks came from one of my friend Will’s old projects. I snapped them up. They feel very at home on the roof. You can imagine that I was slightly glad that it was Mike not me who carried about 100 bags of compost up 5 flights of stairs, to fill them all up.
On the upper deck, my raised beds will hopefully next year become a veg garden. Greening the city! Now, you may well argue that I don’t need more space to grow vegetables, and that would be a sensible thought. But I quite like the idea of growing some beans and rocket and courgettes on my roof, I’m afraid.
For some reason my horrific vertigo manages not to kick in when I’m up here. Of all the things in my flat, nothing’s going to make me happier than getting my garden planted!
Something tells me that I’ve posted a whole load of nearly identical photos already some months ago on the blog. If that is the case, I’m sorry – but it rather proves my point. There’s a minor case of the cobblers children having no shoes. Not entirely, for sure. But I’m quite looking forward to trying to find the time to finish things up a bit. At which point, I can tell you that something has happened. Not yet.