Monday, 9 September 2013


At the top of the stairs, carpeted in a neutral coir fibre and with walls in Farrow & Ball's House White, is the bathroom. This was the dodgiest room to start with---there was a weird kiddie's comfort-blanket pinned over the window and areas where the plaster was falling off. It was also green.

We went for black and white, painting the walls and sloping ceiling in All White and the woodwork in Strong White, which is a pale grey. There are touches of black in the shower-rail, the soap-dish, and the frames of the prints on the wall. The bare woodwork has been covered with the white milk-paint mixture and then sanded to a silvery sheen. I also painted the shower tiles in All White eggshell, which is waterproof:

In the picture below you can see a chance find from the town market: a bath-rack in green, flaking copper, with two candle holders, places for a mug (or wineglass...) and a soap dish all riveted in. It's quirky and beautiful. Matching it on the floor by the sink are some gorgeous old wire milk-bottle crates that were being chucked out, and which we now use to store loo-rolls, white towels, and face-cloths. A white-painted school-chair serves as a place to hang clothes, and I often stick a small vase of herbs from the garden on it.

In my bedroom at the end of the landing I've also opted for white, but in the context of positively Carthusian starkness: I wanted it to be a bit Into Great Silence:

(Walls in Laura Ashley, Cotton White)

There is literally nothing in the room except the bed, a antique elm chair, a votive bowl in front of one of my icons, and a gorgeously shabby malachite-green coffered Indian cabinet which came from a shop down the road, where it had been serving as a cash desk. This was an absolute sod to get up the stairs, especially when my friend Ian and I realised that it was slightly too wide for the bedroom door. With my usual grace and delicacy I took the cussed object to pieces with a club hammer, and then reassembled it on the other side---apparently none the worse for wear.

There are also no curtains, a Scandinavianism I've picked up; but because the room faces right across the street and there's a fizzing sodium streetlamp ten yards away I built the two sets of wooden shutters you see above. I usually keep these closed, for the beautiful way they filter the light. The four metal handles are also from India---each in the shape of a nine-inch king cobra in green brass:

The point is to pick up the green of the hanging bowl and to echo the coffered cabinet. The whole space is ultra-tranquil, and most of my old rubbish fits into the chest or into the four drawers under the bed. (It helps that my office at work has a spare room attached...)

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