The cobbler’s children have no shoes…

(Or… it takes a long time for decorators to decorate their own home).

I’m not quite feeling the Christmas vibe yet. I’ll be honest. Something to do with the fact that I’ve still got rather a lot of work to do, maybe? Or the weather, which I’m finding unseasonably mild? Or the general feeling that I seem to get every year that I really only begin to feel Christmas when I’m with my family and not one second before?  Or the fact that this year has flown by faster than ever before… basically, I’ll be ready for Christmas in a month.

In fact for years we’ve done the office Christmas party in February. One year it was in March I seem to remember.  We are a bit better than that at getting your planning application drawings in on time, I promise… it’s just that February seems more fun.

But I have taken a day today to spend a bit of time thinking… about me.  Or, rather, about my flat. Regular readers may recall a while back (‘Dear Ben, please may we see…’) that I was thinking of a few changes.  Well, that was back in the autumn.  Then time flies and nothing, I mean nothing at all, happens. My old boss in New York, Richard Sammons, used to have a favourite saying… ‘the cobbler’s children have no shoes’.  And I think it’s particularly apposite of architects and designers. We’re kind of too busy getting on with other people’s houses.

So the week between Christmas and New Year is probably the only time in the whole year when you can steal a few samples from the office and have a think.

This was the week that my ottoman turned up.  Okay – okay – only in calico. The good people at Fine Cell Work are starting the stitching in the New Year and that will take months and months to do. It was a bit of a shock to find a giant white marshmallow in the middle of my sitting room when I got home on Thursday – but I’ve got to admit, I’m already loving it.

Perhaps a tiny weeny bit tall for the 1950s sofas? I may have the height reduced by 3″ when it goes back for reupholstering.  And of course it needs its pattern.  Which, for a sneak preview, is going to look like this on top:

and even more mentally, like this on the sides:

Do you approve?

Well, in fact these crazy colours are for another project. I’m going to go for something rather more grisaille.

There’s the wool book.

I think the ‘IRON GREY’ range is the colourway for this particular room (with a bit of pink don’t forget).

Well, anyway, watch this space…

On the walls I’m after a bit of soft texture. One of these, I think.

The upper one on the far left, perhaps?

Okay. Curtains. Ever since I’ve moved into this flat I’ve wanted curtains as well as blinds… something to draw tightly shut on these dark nights.  And this is what I’m thinking.

Not the soft olive green, beautiful though those Claremont Serge fabrics are. Well, that’s what I I would have picked on a safe day.  But this afternoon I’ve been feeling a bit mental and I’m gonna go Madeleine.

Madeleine Castaign? Well, I suppose you should blame our friend Jennifer Boles over at The Peak of Chic, for piquing my interest years ago. Here’s an image of Madeleine’s bedroom stolen (borrowed, perhaps?) from Jennifer’s brilliantly knowledgable website.

Here she is:

I don’t have my copy of The World of Madeleine Castaign to hand, which is an omission, at this particular moment.

But then luckily I could find this article, from what must rank as one of the world’s best ever World of Interiors, fabled September 2007:

which featured the NYC flat of Carolina and Ian Irving, which must be as close to decorator heaven as it is possible to exist…

You see what I mean? And which showed their bedroom with its remarkable Castaing fabric lined walls.

Which I have dreamed about ever since.  Including making Bridie trek around with me on a very random trip around Paris one year to find the Edmond Petit showroom, which produces her fabrics.

Incidentally the following photo is why I am loving my giant ottoman.

As I think I mentioned back in September, it’s time to get some curtains for the guest bedroom, and at the moment I’m thinking Muriel Brandolini. I love her block printed fabrics with their beautiful off colours.

The only question being, which one.

They are all good.

There’s a pair to the wooden desk chair with the blue Josef Frank fabric, that I’m having upholstered in the green fabric, and given the cost of Svenkst Tenn fabrics it’s a good thing I picked up those two chairs for a tenner.

I think the walls are going to look good in grey.  Incidentally, I think the bookshelves are going to go.

The books are sort of more needed in the office than at home. And I think the fornasetti chest of drawers might migrate gently around the corner. We will see.  All of this is going to take months and months to actually sort out (remember the cobbler’s children).


I was reflecting the other day on how rooms take shape, and I just had a look back at some photos of my flat.

Here it was the day my friends the previous tenants cleared out.

Under construction:

Picking colours:

Nearing completion (incidentally, I chose F&B James White, which is a very good colour to pick if you don’t know what to do):

Carpet going down:

Pictures going up:

Furniture moving in – day one.

Decoration takes time.

One of the awful things I’ve realised looking back at my blog in September is the number of really kind comments – many of which are asking quite specific and easy to answer practical questions – that at the moment I still haven’t had time to reply to.  One day I hope I will – or perhaps we’ll set up a part of the website called ‘Q&A’ where such questions can be posted and anyone (including me) can answer.

As you can tell, I don’t think I’ve quite caught the Christmas bug yet. But for when I do, have a really happy Christmas. It’s been a funny old year, 2013, but let’s keep that thought on hold until next week!  For now, I’ve been grateful for a moment… to catch up.

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