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Come home soon

1 March 2015
Ben Pentreath
32 Comments

Charlie’s away. He’s in New Zealand (as some of you may have already guessed. Did you work out that Charlie wasn’t around last weekend?). He has two weddings of friends to go to… well, one has already been, and the next is in five weeks’ time.  You can’t go all that way and back and out again, in seven weeks, unless you’re mad, so we decided he better stay there. And most exciting of all, in less than three weeks now, I’m off as well.

To be honest, I can’t wait. Time’s going rather slowly just now.

But what he really wanted to know about this evening is how his garlic plants are coming along.

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Not too badly, I thought. In fact the veg garden on top of our roof, which I think it is now truthful to call Charlie’s veg garden, is doing quite nicely all round just at the moment.  It feels like spring might be on its way, didn’t you think, in today’s beautiful sunshine?

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It was a sparkling afternoon in Queen Square, and I thought I’d just take a few photos.

The guest bedroom.

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The other day, I posted a photo of this room on instagram and someone called Gemma Blackshaw wrote a very funny comment. “Ben, please do a blog on Morris fabric. I’ve acquired some fabulous upholstered pieces but have no desire to be a New Victorian“.

Gemma, believe me. We use William Morris in just about every single decoration project we’re working on. And I am not a New Victorian either.

Although I am obsessed about Aesthetic furniture. Like this little shelf, which is nearly falling completely to bits.P1080551

Bridie gave me the yellow jug years ago. I love it.

And what is even weirder is that about 10 years ago, way before I lived here, my friend Eileen gave me the book on Queen Square. I have actually read it now that I’m here.P1080552

Our bedroom corridor is painted a very dark chocolate which in certain lights looks a bit macabre. But it’s lined with pictures which reflect the light and make it okay.P1080553

The bathroom is wallpapered in Zoffany’s Richmond Park, which is an idea I lifted directly (with permission) from my friend Gavin Houghton who without a doubt is one of the best decorators I know.  It’s beautiful. If a little bonkers in a tiny room like our bathroom:P1080554

Looking back the other way:P1080557

Our new bedroom, with its beautiful emerald-green wallpaper from Soane Britain, which recently had a bit of a starring role on the front page of the FT House & Home…P1080558

A corner of the corridor is piled with books and other clutter:P1080556

Charlie’s Napoleon in the sitting room is rather at home on my Fornasetti chest of drawers, that I think has finally found a resting place it’s happy with. (long-time blog readers will remember it was a bit of a squash at Great Ormond Street).P1080559 P1080560

I’m absolutely loving our wall of fern engravings which Charlie and I found at Portobello the other day, at the brilliant stand of Deborah Cutler’s Cranborne Antiques.P1080562

And then of course there is Melina Horne’s beautiful ikat lampshade. Which is just about my favourite thing, I’d say. If you haven’t popped in to see Melina’s wonderful pop-up store at 17a Rugby Street, I hope you can. She is there for a few weeks longer.P1080564

Don’t forget your copies of ‘Are you a Roundy or a Squary?‘ either.P1080565

I had lunch with Maisie and the twins the other day. ‘Hope you come back soon CharlieCongratulations. You are in the newspaper.  I missed you today Charlie.  from Vera‘.   P1080566

Agreed, Vera.

I was going to photograph the other side of the sitting room when I realised that our candlesticks were still over in the office meeting room.  A couple of weeks ago a friend of a friend of a friend did a pop-up supper at Lambs Conduit Street.  A perfect evening.  So I nipped round the corner to pick them up.

The office is looking pretty nice these days. It has the same dark chocolate walls as at home.  And a bright yellow felt tablecloth that was made for us by the tailors next door – Sims and Macdonald, in case you’re wondering. I think it’s called Prince of Wales Yellow. P1080576

I don’t think I’ve ever shown any photos of the office before, or at least not for a very long time. So you should check out the crazy rococo ceiling.

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Looking towards the fireplace wall, there is a bookcase filled with three incomplete collections of World of Interiors. I always hoped I’d fill the missing gaps, but they continue to remain elusive.P1080580 The large creamware vases you see in the fireplace and the foreground were made by Peter Weldon.  I don’t know much about Peter except his occasional appearances in World of Interiors in the early 80s. If any reader knows any more I’d be very grateful to find out. They are amazing.
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Then a glimpse into the decoration department next door. The chandelier is a mock up printed onto foam core.  We were trying it out for size at the grand hall of our project at Fawley House the other day, which made a few of the builders smile… as you can imagine:P1080584

Just in case you think it’s all Georgian panelling over at Ben Pentreath towers, here is a glimpse of our new architectural office, just up the road on Lambs Conduit Street.    A reminder again that we’re looking for a new studio assistant, and that applications close this week.  If you’re an exceptionally friendly and motivated person who’d like to join, please get in touch.

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Zoe and I sit up on the top shelf and I shout instructions to the workers below, just like a 19th century factory. It’s great.P1080571P1080572

Tucked in amongst the mocha ware on the shelves above my desk is this drawing of Fawley House, which is very nearly finished after 5 or 6 amazing long years. That will be a bit of a blog on its own as well.P1080574

Anyway enough already. You’ll have spied the candlesticks in the meeting room.  So here they are back home.

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Bridie and I are keeping our fingers crossed that we are finally able to bring the giant London wall-map back into production.  Which would be amazing. You will be the first to hear about it, I promise.P1080594

The staircase:P1080597

The kitchen. The walls are painted cow-pat green.P1080599

A row of Ravilious and Mochaware jugs is on the windowsill, and on the right is a tiny cactus that we’re trying to nurture into growth. It was given to us by my friend Tim Knox and if it grows that’s a blog all on its own.P1080601

Below, a Glyn Boyd-Hart print of a Ravilious Alphabet mug.  If you like the print, I think there’s one for sale downstairs tomorrow night at the Art Workers’ Guild.  Neil Jennings, the art dealer, has his show opening tomorrow. Snap it up if you can:P1080602

If you want to know more about Glyn, read Ruth Guild’s beautiful blog which she posted yesterday over at Bible of British Taste.  I only met Glyn a couple of times. I wish it had been more. P1080603 P1080604

The orange umbrella was a Christmas present from Charlie. Perfect colour, don’t you agree?

Meanwhile his huge bunch of camellias had just about survived until today.  But they were on their way out, so I took them down.  The flat felt very empty (but you did get a better view of the map).

P1080606Charlie, the flat’s missing you like crazy just now. In fact, so is the whole of London, I reckon. Come home soon. But see you sooner 🙂

32 comments on this post

Gemma Blackshawsays:

Hello Ben, it’s Gemma Blackshaw. Thanks so much for the mention! I blushed from head to toe on reading it. So many ideas here and in other posts on making Morris modern… I’m off to Rugby Street.

Jill J.says:

Oh, that map…big sigh. What is so stunning about that map is the multiple frames and that it fills the wall completely. Anything different will be a disappointment, I think. Perhaps best not to bring it to the masses? No telling what indignities the rest of us would subject it to.

Susan Leggettsays:

Dear Ben

I have just trawled the historical posts and it has been fascinating. I bought your book in 2012 and read it but have just revisited it recently with relish. And to refresh my bookshelves with some of the titles you rate as reference points.

Absorbing to see the twists and turns in your evolving spaces before and since its publication and to see what things hold their ground in the constant nuancing. Which nuancing of course is the most fun and staves off the horror of stale.

The Soane paper is perplexing – every time I see it, I read it not as an organic seaweed trellis but as a repeating pattern of large white broad bean pod shaped spaces against a frilly green background. Maybe that is just the way it photographs. Certainly it is very fresh and spring like on either interpretation. The antipodean ferns are much more straight forward…Deborah is a gem.

It has been a pleasure to hear a voice which rises above the prevailing dialectics and can take the best of many different influences whilst having a strong personal vision uniting it all.

I look forward to seeing the results of your sojourn into Oceania and wonder if Pacific tribal might become part of your interiors dialogue as it is mine (and is with the French to a lesser degree)?

I grew up with orange and yellow Marimekko and seagrass matting and am also a 13 November baby…so am an easy convert!

I hope cyclone Pam is not affecting your travel plans. Enjoy your trip.

Jonnysays:

You must get awfully bored Ben with people asking you the names of colours you’ve used in your homes but they all work so well! I am in the process of having to choose colours for my sitting room and would love to know what you have used in your flat sitting room. I am dithering over Elephant’s breath, Purbeck Stone and Pavilion Gray but like very much the shade you have used. I too look forward to reading your inspiring posts every week and am constantly charmed by your great sense of style both decoratively and literary. I’m also an impossible romantic and love to hear all about you and Charlie! Thanks for sharing it all.

Annesays:

You didn’t say how long you are spending in New Zealand Ben but hope you and Charlie are here for our lovely New Zealand autumn colours. The further south you go the better they are – and the scenery is pretty awesome too. Hope you enjoy your time with us in Aotearoa.

Vanessa Ryallsays:

What a joyous share .Thank you so much.Spring is only just beginning in the frozen North.Love the collection of old Mocha ware.

The ceiling plasterwork in the office is really great, you don’t even need any art on the walls with a ceiling like that.

Nicolasays:

What a good idea to have the same style vibe in home and office and I like your posturing as a 19th century boss, although the workers probably take no notice. Orange umbrellas, like a lot. Sunshine on a rainy day.

Ben, I don’t know where to start.

The city garden looks wonderful. Kudos to Charlie. I am going to try growing garlic, too, if Spring ever sees fit to grace us this year.

Victorian is tough, although I’m OK with Wm. Morris and the Aesthetic Movement. I cannot abide Eastlake, though; for some reason, it annoys the hell out of me.

I have more Cornishware than you, unless you have a cupboard of it somewhere, but you have more Piranesi prints than I do.

You have a Hudson Bay point blanket—well done!

The painting above the Fornasetti cabinet is very like my husband’s work, although his are more textural. I did a double take.

The World of Interiors: I just sold my entire collection on eBay, and I made a small fortune—although it is unspeakably tacky to say so. People scoffed up whole years at once. (A friend of mine has a collection going back decades; she is considering doing the same.)

You must be lonely. Don’t you have a dog? Although then there would be two of you missing Charlie…so maybe just stay drunk.

Kisses!

juliasays:

oops, i didn’t mean to foist cartons and cartons of W of I, rather, if you wanted missing ones so they could have an excellent home.

Your/Charlie’s rooftop potager is doing wonderfully well. Here in western Pennsylvania, USA, it is 23 Fahrenheit today and God help any sprouts foolish enough to poke up their heads! I wonder if your chimney stack provides a warmish surface to help things along?

Thoroughly enjoyed the home/office tour. Napoleon posturing atop Fornasetti’s imperial rooftop, under the towering clouds, is perfect. You surround yourself, and those near you, with such wit and cheerfulness. Bless you for sharing it with us!

Ben, are those architectural prints in the office, part of your Piranesi coup of 2013? Totally fabulous! Will there be a Piranesi post forthcoming? I do hope so.

Cheers,

Diane

Victoriasays:

So much to love in your flat and offices. I’ll just pick one thing out to ask about: that yellow tray with the numbers, what is it’s story?

Lyn Coombssays:

Is there any chance you’d share the name of the paint colour for the Design Department at your office?
More than any other inspiration, you’ve nudged me into re-examining some of my personal colour prejudices. Now, I yearn for those Ben Pentreath kind of colour and design juxtapositions that, years ago, I’d have found a little startling, like mixing bold 60’s graphic posters with fine watercolours and engravings or using Cow Pat Green in the kitchen. Now THERE’S a wonderful name! Thank you for refreshing and further educating my eye. I’m very much looking forward to learning more of Fawley House but nothing will surpass the aesthetic joy I find in your own quirky, sophisticated and beautiful home.

Alexissays:

Maybe the comment from the reader in NZ with your missing World of Interiors will become a blog post of its own??

Beautiful images – as always, reading this was a wonderful way to start the week!

Ben… i noticed a long print of the points from the shipping forecast. any ideas of where i could find one. it’s brilliant. the shipping forecast was like a canticle to me.

Hobbysays:

What an inspirational post for a Monday, thank you! Could you please tell me who makes the paint in the stair hall? Is that Cow Pat green or another? I love it! Also, I would love to know more about the yellow felt – was that from Sims and Macdonald? The color is perfection! Been searching for the perfect yellow – you nailed it! Thanks, Hobby

Margheritasays:

When your next decoration book?? I’m sure I’m not the only one who knows English Decoration BY HEART… What I learnt from your interiors helped me to live better. To say thank you is not enough!

What is the map? Much earlier than Greenwood from what I can see? Nice to have an uncoloured one to work from, you could offer it ‘penny plain, thruppence coloured’!

Emilysays:

What joy on a Monday morning to be able to sit and look at your beautiful home. Thank you.

What a lovely post to read. In fact your blog is one I look forward to reading each time it appears in my inbox. Thank you for sharing your studio and the interiors of your flat. A big thank you to Stella Tennant who recommended I visit your shop when she held her exhibition in your old space on Lamb Conduit Street. After walking into the shop I started following your blog and have enjoyed it ever since. I especially love your posts about the renovation of Fawley House.
Thank you
Paulette

Juliasays:

Reading your post, what are the W of I you are missing in your incomplete collections? You just might find they are amongst my burdensome collection, down here in NZ, and you would be welcome to them. 38 cartons of interiors magazine trailing around every house move has become a chore!

KJPsays:

Ah Ben, I’ve been wondering what’s going on up on that roof, how lovely, veggies from it. Loved the tour, you are very generous sharing it with us, I expect Charlie loved to read that from afar too ☺️ Where are the flowers you bought?? because of you I joined Instagram….loving your work 🙂

Well, Ben, I’m feeling quite speechless. Such a lovely post. The first thing I noticed was the orange bedstead. Fantastic!

Liza Vandermeersays:

Wonderful post. The new ferns on your sitting room wall are very beautiful; really, ferns are such stylish life-forms. I’m intrigued to see that your ottoman is still plain white – didn’t you tease your loyal followers with plans to upholster it last year? I’ll look forward to your impressions of New Zealand. Safe travels, and a happy reunion with your beloved.

Nicola Lawrencesays:

What a gorgeous post. I adored every photo….. What a beautiful home – and what a great place to work! Your guest bedroom is so welcoming… the bathroom wallpaper wonderful…. Perhaps we could house swap for a month (and the Parsonage, too). I could spend my days wandering around in a haze of beauty – and you and Charlie could oversee our little renovations on the hot and dusty snake ridden plains of the Riverina and far western NSW (Australia). Sounds a good deal, doesn’t it?? It’s only a step across from NZ! Hmmm. Very inspirational – and calming post, Ben. Thank you. I hope your next three weeks fly by happily (it is lovely to have someone to miss). Kind regards, Nicola

Pierre B.says:

Such a generosity makes us want to welcome you (you and Charlie of course!) to our homes. Thank you!

Southern Galsays:

do i spy a YELLOW FLOWERS Mason Mug in the kitchen?

if so, my most favorite mug in the world. i have two that alas both developed cracks, one and then the other. (just found one on ebay and snapped it up. you must be good luck for there have been none for years).

i believe production was stopped after John Loring left. (didnt he design the pattern?)

anyway i am jealous of your weather

we are in the middle of the 123546374th snowstorm to start March off. Feb was the COLDEST EVER in the Hudson Valley (since weather record keeping).

to see green things poking about the soil. sigh.

another reason i desperately want to move to England.

Ben Thomassays:

Ben, despite everything that is going on in the world, your blog always cheers me up and makes me feel safe! I hope you and Charlie are soon united. Thank you Ben T

juliensays:

Wonderful post ! Filled with love !
Julien

Well what can I say, the apartment and office looks totally amazing, Recently I have spent many hours sitting in the garden of Queen Square looking at the beautiful buildings ( My Mum has been in the wonderful hospital there, now getting much much better thank goodness) and wondering what lies behind some of the windows and walls, now I know, for one, a beautiful colourful stylish and thank goodness not a minimalistic interior.Thank you for sharing these picture with us. Hope the Veg garden and garlic produces a good harvest. Thanks William.

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