I am quite sure that anyone who lives in an old house, centuries old as opposed to decades old, has asked themselves at least once “Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a nice new modern house?” A house where everything worked and nothing leaked. A house where the drafts were kept out and the windows didn’t rattle. You see, these old ladies, whether grand old dames or more modest affairs, take an enormous amount of upkeep, they tend to be something of a drain on one’s resources and as my mother in law always told me, we live with them, always aware of the next thing that needs to be replaced or repaired, the next job around the corner.
But, and there is always a but, they are very rewarding. However, not everyone can live in a 200 year old house full of original features. That doesn’t mean everything has to be new though. Adding little vintage elements around the home can make all the difference.
Mixing old with new is often a match made in heaven. This is one of my favourite reading spots
The table is from the mid 1800’s and the bronze lamp is very old, I remember it in my grandmother’s study. However the shade is from Ikea! I know everyone loves to hate Ikea, but it does have some fabulous items, the trick is to use them very sparingly. I had been searching for a similar style shade for over a year, I just could not find exactly what I wanted and I came across this in Ikea in Portugal, the black matt fabric contrasts well with the gold, of all things to bring back from a trip abroad! But here you have it, a 19 euro shade surrounded by genuine antiques.
One of the places we all tend to spend a lot of time is in the kitchen and cabinets come in all shapes and sizes. We have mixed old and new. I cannot deny I actually love our modern cupboards and drawers that we installed. I enjoy the soft touch close, the clean lines and the fitted interiors. I would hate to be without my Kitchen Aid for baking and the Magimix for when there is a lot of chopping to be done. However, it’s something of a conundrum, wanting a vintage home and embracing antiques whilst needing modern elements and all the practicality that 21st century design offers.
Fortunately the vintage magnifies the stark lines of the contemporary and likewise the modern item enhances the time worn elegance of vintage.
I have always really enjoyed styling our homes. I am absolutely no expert, but I know what I like and I know my own style. I very strongly believe that our homes speak for us. A room should be welcoming, a place where guests instantly feel at home, a place you never want to leave. A place where you can make yourself a cup of coffee and just stand and look and think, yes, I like it here, I am happy. Little things should speak to us, something we have inherited, or something we have bought because we just love it, or something with a long history behind it. Everything should have a story.
Our home is a complete mixture, we have some very old inherited antiques, that go back to our great great grandparents and beyond.
Some things are vintage finds that just spoke to us and had to come home with us. Some have cost more than others, some we have had to work on at length. We have sanded, painted and reupholstered,
and we have had to be creative. These three paintings are all inherited from a cousin of my great grandmother’s who was quite a well known British Victorian watercolour artist. However, when we hung them they looked lost on the old stone walls, so we came up with the idea of sitting them on a picture rail and this is where we had to be a little inventive. This was an old iron bed rail we had in the barn which we spray painted gold, the result was just what was needed.
A very recent find is this mirror. I saw it and pounced on it! It stands nearly 4 foot tall and it was sitting out in the rain, unloved and unwanted. The price was an absolute steal. But it needs a LOT of work. It dates from the second world war and is very likely of German design. This is where my knowledge ends and now I need your help because I know many of you are very talented.
I don’t want to completely restore it and take away all of its character, but it does need a little TLC, the question is how to do it? Have any of you worked with plaster and decorative moulding? Daughter number 2 is very talented with this sort of thing and I know she will help with the fiddly bits, but how to do it? Any ideas would be very much appreciated, because this is way beyond my level of expertise. I have hung it in our guest house and it looks fabulous but I would love to make sure that no further pieces fall of and take care of it.
Recently we have been busy hunting down new treasures at the plethora of brocantes which spring up at this time of year. There is always plenty of choice and it is wise to allow plenty of time for browsing!
A vintage bike from WWII
These teddy bears were just asking for someone to love them. The one on the right reminded me of my mother’s childhood bear which she had given to me. It was a Steiff, the most aristocratic of teddies and it sat on the back of an old sofa in our farmhouse kitchen in the UK. This was when Roddy and I were first married and we had a yellow Labrador named Rosie. She was an angel and came most places with us. On one occasion she was left at home, and we returned to find the teddy bear completely demolished, stuffing all over the kitchen floor and the fabric torn to shreds, far beyond any possible efforts at repair. It was the only thing she ever chewed, but at least she had good taste!
And there are always some surprising finds, local hams and Kangaroo saucisson! When we got talking to the vendor he told us that kangaroos now live in the wild in France, who would have known! They escaped from captivity and now live in the forests outside Versailles and their numbers are multiplying!
Quite a few of the items here and plenty of other French finds are available in our Etsy shop. We have strived to always keep things at truly affordable prices and we are adding lots of new items today. (I wish I could say they are already up and for sale, but time has been scarce this week, you know how it is, the children are on spring break, there is always someone wanting something or to be driven somewhere. So I am spending the evening photographing and listing, please check back in a few hours and thank you for your patience!) But it will be worthwhile, remember everything is a one off piece and once it is sold it is sold. I know shipping is always a problem because of the cost so we will always combine postage costs with more than one item and if you are unsure just ask. There are plenty more things to come, we are adding all the time so please check back often! In fact this coming weekend will be one of early morning starts and treasure hunting. We will be up with the lark and out of the door at sunrise!
We have always, since the beginning, only shopped for things we would want ourselves. It is a simple rule that we have stuck to. Some end up being actually quite hard to part with! They find their way onto a shelf or a corner somewhere in our house whereby they take up temporary residence until someone claims them and gives them a permanent home. Remember if you are passing by this way do give us a call and drop by and browse in person, we would love to welcome you with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine whilst you shop!