Saturday, 26 July 2014

A Name for my House!

Hi Guys

I hope your week has been a good one and those of you in this heat wave are staying cool.

Yesterday morning before I went to work I noticed the morning sunlight on my house and thought it looked so pretty I'd take a couple of pictures.

And this gave me the idea for the name of the house (finally, I hear you cry!) -

"Belle Pierre"

Which means lovely stone. I thought it was a sweet name and kind of in keeping with the ethos behind it's construction. Namely, easy going and welcoming. It also makes me imagine the wider environment of the house like where the stone would have been quarried and how it has aged over time.

This week I also took the purge and started on the roof! Here's an idea of where I'm going with it though as we all know this could very well change!!

Please excuse the black area, this was when I spray painted something black. I'm thinking of grey slate tiles (made from card) with lead finials and trim, and possibly the dormer window (to be in the centre) will be lead also, possibly stone. I'm planning to give the two urns at the front a green copper finish but we'll see how brave I am…

Lastly, here's a quick snap of the living room with a wall light fitted above the fireplace. I am going to run two circuits in the house I mean Belle Pierre - one for the main ceiling lights, and the other for all the auxiliary fixtures like sockets and lamps. And both will be controlled via two dimmer switches so I can create different moods.

Enjoy your Saturday everyone and I'll post more when I have it.
take care

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Book of the Week No 4: John Fowler. Prince of Decorators

Hi Guys

That time of the week, again, and this time I have chosen the very wonderful (and I'm not a bit biased!) John Fowler. As the title of the books heralds, Mr Fowler is one of the UK's best loved interior decorators. Almost a legend in his own right. 


Pages 287
Width 24cm
Height 30cm
Tea Test - 8.5/10
First published in 2007 by Frances Lincoln Ltd

Please note another new addition to the facts list - a publication date, courtesy of Casey - by the way, Casey, the Mark Hampton book from last week was published in 2009 by Rizzoli. Thanks x

Well, I simply adore this book!
It is crammed full of wonderful interiors created by John and his very brilliant partner in crime Sibyl Colefax, not to mention the incorporable Nancy Lancaster. As in most books of this sort it chronicles John's career and the extraordinary path his life took. Along with the very grand spaces are more humble interiors, and even a section on his beloved Hunting Lodge. There is chintz in abundance, but not too much, and painted furniture galore. I bought this book cheap off eBay ages ago so I'm not too sure on it's current retail value but I found a copy on eBay just now for £4.99 !! A steal!!

I would rush out and grab one of these if you have any interest in the "classic British" look, or indeed just fascinated by mixing colours and textures in one room.

Thanks as always for your time and comments, they are lovely to read.
Until next time…
Take care All.

Monday, 21 July 2014

A Good Old-Fashioned Shout Out!

Hi Guys
Hope your week has started well.

Just a very quick note to draw your attention to a relatively new Blog that I and a few other mini fans are following, "V's Miniature Manor".

Please click here to Follow and see more:

Vivian Fox 

Vivian is working her way through a large scale manor house and her blog follows her journey - trials and triumphs -  I'm sure we can all relate to those ha ha.
She works at a terrific pace and her posts are crammed full of great pictures, problem solving and updates.

Incidentally, please let me know if I am not showing in your Followers section. I lost my Reading List through a recent Blogger issue and have been trying to re-trace you all since (hense my ugly mug is probably showing me as a recent follower to your blog).

Drop by and see her work, you won't be disappointed!

Hugs to all


Saturday, 19 July 2014

Considering Kitchens!

Hi Guys
I hope your week has been great.

In between sunbathing and gardening I've been working on the house (I really need to think of a name!). Thanks to everyone for all their helpful and constructive comments and advise last week. I really appreciated it. Since then I have done some more on the living room including finishing the panelling and adding some sconces beneath the mirrors. There is still a lot to do (skirting boards etc etc) but you get the idea. The colours in this image look stronger than they do in RL, or on my camera, hopefully its just the settings on my Mac that's brightened things up.

The fireplace was gilded and then covered in a light wash of burnt umber which was then rubbed off. This has taken the "whiteness" off and highlights the details better.

 The sconces were the acanthus brackets I was going to use on the dormer window that I painted Devon Cream and then gilded, with a couple of "serves" plates I made by printing off images and sticking them to card dinner plates then I covered them in a light coating of mod podge. Nothing terribly clever but I think they work quite well. I'm planning on doing a ton more for the kitchen. 

The Kitchen! Well, I have been racking my poor brain about this one - watching and reading everything I can from "Habersham" and "Clive Christian" for ideas and looks. In the pic below you can see how both floors sit alongside each other. The pale grey is just an undercoat to tone everything down, my final choice of colours will tone in with the green used upstairs. The kitchen on the right and the dining area to the left. 

All the gaps in the walls need to be filled!
The pictures are temporarily hung just to give you an idea and the space to the left, but the form door, will be up a step and through an archway. I'm thinking of painting the front hall area in lovely mid red from F&B and I think it will draw the eye through and hopefully create some much needed depth to this very shallow space. This will also mirror the red toile I am hoping to use in the bedroom on the top floor (when it's finally constructed!).

Another blurred picture! sorry.
I have a lovely Tuscan tile effect paper I'm using in these rooms which should work well with the walls. Due to the small eating area (as apposed to a full-on dining room) I'll have to think carefully about the type and size of table and chairs I use but I'd like something more "country" than formal and it will probably be painted French grey, like I did with the small dresser in the picture above.

Of course, while all this has been happening I have been thinking of the roof and that dreaded dormer window!! I have the roof tiles all ready but not the finished idea yet - it'll come together eventually I hope!

Well, that's about it for now. I'll try and post some more tomorrow if there is sufficient progress to share. Thanks for as always for your company and comments. 

Enjoy the rest of your weekend

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Book of the Week No3: Mark Hampton An American Decorator

Another shocking quality image!

Hi Guys
This week I have chosen another American interior designer I love, Mark Hampton.
This book covers the history behind his career and the journey his "style" has taken over the years. I can't remember the cost of this book but it is well worth the money and I would highly recommend it to all.

255 pages
Width 24 cm
Height 31 cm
Tea Test - 7/10

This week I'm going out on a limb and introducing a new "stat" called the Tea Test. This, as you might have guessed, is a score out of 10 at how easy the book in question is to read whilst having a cup of tea - or cocktail, John of Merriman Park  ;-) - though I cannot legislate for decorative paraphernalia - olives; umbrellas and the likes!

Back to the book. Several different types of project are covered by plenty of wonderful photographs. Each different to the last - there is a lot of inspiration in these pages! I love Mr Hampton's approach to interior design because it is both smart/formal and relaxed/casual. There are elements of all these in his rooms so that pricey artwork and antiques aside you would feel at ease in any situation. I think I am particularly drawn to them at the moment because I am trying to build an old French house but with a modern twist. Like those of Timothy Corrigan, Mark's interiors are liveable spaces and not museum pieces.

On a side line may I take this opportunity to say, "Fight the good fight, Ray!". As fully paid-up members of this wonderful Miniature Community we are all routing for you.

Thanks again guys for all your lovely comments, it's very kind of you to take the time. I try to reply to them but sometimes RL has a terrible habit of getting in the way and the moment has passed. But rest assured I love reading them and they are very much appreciated.

Enjoy the rest of the week.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

More living room than drawing room

Hi Guys
I hope your week has been ok and you've managed to find some time on your mini projects.

I don't have a great deal to show this time but wanted to keep you up to speed with my progress, rather than show a finished room I thought I'd show it, "warts and all", with the hope of getting some feedback and suggestions along the way.

I was sure I had taken more pictures, but never mind, I hope you understand where I'm going with this.

Please remember, this is very early days. I want this room to have a relaxed feel to it, more living room than drawing room. The sort of room you could sit with a book and a cup of tea (or brandy!) or with friends for cocktails.  I am going to use a mixture of old and modern style paintings to add to the "built up over time" look. The sofa will have lots of green scatter cushions and a large pale green velvet ottoman on the rug with books and magazines on it. Of course there are drapes to add and the ceiling to work out. I raised the ceiling slightly higher than the moulding so I could add plaster work or rustic beams. Not sure yet.

I wanted something different to the usual cream colours I go for and loved the greens in Farrow & Ball going for Lichen on all the walls and Calke Green on the side walls between the pillars to add a bit more depth to a room that is not that deep. The pillars were ones I had kicking around (a little chipped on the edges) and I prettied them up with some jewellery findings (that I'm using on the exterior too), painted in green with some gold paint rubbed on for highlights. My top tip for getting perfectly straight and true right angled wall panels is to stick on a piece of card or balsa that has been pre-cut to the size of the panel you want, then after it has been painted to match the wall (or covered in wallpaper) glue on the gold detail around it. I am probably the last person to work this out and you are probably doing this already but I only worked it out this week and am really happy with how it looks. The gold detail helps to define the walls better, giving more interest, and accentuates the curved walls either side of the fireplace.

The fireplace - there's another trauma! My original idea was to paint it the darker of two greens with gold details (see pic below) but opted for the plain cream colour as it really lightens the feel of the room. I like the green but it's too much green in the room, at this stage at least, what do you think?

Added after this was published - I still need to wash the cream fire surround in burnt umber and paint the fire-back bricks with a smokey finish - thanks Gee, I forgot to say this before x

The fireplaces I'm using we're ones I bought for my theatre project (to be used as the box surrounds) but I thought I'd pinch some for my house instead - I'm still trying to keep all costs to a minimum believe it or not!

Work on the outside progresses slowly and I have added the moulding round the top outer edges. it's the same as that used on the base platform but the other way up. I thought it would help time the two together.  Here it is painted in the base coat colour along with some more bits of Sue Cook that I had in a drawer and seem to work alright.

And here with some jewellery findings added and some weathering...

I am still unsure about the roof - it will be sloping but I'm not sure of the finer details with the dome feature. I think it might look a little odd so I'm currently going with raising the curved part of the wall up and rounding it at the top in a faded copper finish. Who knows?! I have also been playing with making a window for the front of the roof using bits of moulding and an oval picture frame. I'm still not sure but it's getting better the more I fiddle with it, I think you get the general idea…

Well, I better carry on I guess. Hope you have liked what you've seen so far - and managed to keep up with my ramblings as always?!

Have a great week ahead All.


Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Book of the Week No2: Mario Buatta. Fifty Years of American Interior Decoration

Apologies for the crooked picture!

Hi Guys

Thanks for all your lovely comments on the last Book post.
This week I have pulled another favourite off the shelf, all about the work of the "Prince of Chintz" Mario Buatta.

Now, I'll start this post by highlighting the cost of this book - it's flipping expensive - an investment piece, if you will. Needless to say, I managed to find a relatively cheap copy on UK eBay, new!

Along with the rather large price tag, the size of this book is huge…

430 pages
Width 25 cm
Height 31 cm

Not something that sits on the lap all that well, and certainly doesn't lend itself to being read with a cup of tea in one's hand! However, despite this it is a really great read. Hundreds of brilliant photographs with amusing introductions. It really shows Mario's sense of humour. There is a lot of inspiration to be had from all these pages and if I had to be a little critical I would say that you really have to love Mario's sense of interior design as this chronicles almost every job he has worked on. I'll be honest, I couldn't look through the whole book in the first two sittings. It's a terrible thing to say of someone so talented and gifted, especially as I am neither in this field, but you could be forgiven for getting a little tired of what you see. As I said, there are hundreds of pictures, and they don't tend to vary all that much - I appreciate that is because he has his own style of decorating that is very distinct, but for the money you pay on this book I would have preferred to have had less examples of work with more diversity and depth. With hindsight, a lot of the pictures I had seen on the Internet would have been more than enough to keep me going.

Don't get me wrong, this is really great book and I'm very pleased I have it - but I am even more pleased that I didn't pay the full retail price for it. My advice - be very sure before you buy it. Sometimes, you really can have too much of a good thing.

Next week I'll try to be less controversial ;-)

Take care


Tuesday, 8 July 2014


Hi Guys

Whilst pottering on the outside of the house I have been doing some bits and pieces on the interior. As I mentioned before the ground floor will be kitchen and dining area (with a kind of open plan feel), the first floor, after a lot of thinking, will be one single drawing room, with a small bedroom and study on the top floor.

These pictures give you an idea of how I broke up the ground floor with a dividing wall at an angle. This allows me a valuable wall to put the range against and cabinets where the window would have been. On the other side of the wall near the front door will be a small staircase, Rather a hint of a staircase that leads no-where! But I managed to fit it in as I wanted there to be some semblance of planning about the layout. I say that but there is no door into the drawing room upstairs. My thinking is that the you would enter as you view the room (i.e. the house extends further out the back than is physically there) and it would take up too much of my wall space - as I keep saying, this is a really small house compared to some so every square inch counts. So I opted for imagination over doorways!

Ground floor with kitchen on the right, dining on the left, and four finger top left!

First floor drawing room with brilliant Sue Cook Fireplace.
Ok, so I broke my own rules and bought a new fireplace from Sue Cook - it's amazing and one of two new French designs she has launched. It seemed criminal not to include it in my first French house. I tried a million ways of breaking the floor space up in this room but besides variations on the idea for the kitchen wall all the options left me with tiny rooms that could barely hold a chair, let alone a Sue Cook fireplace!! So I opted for a "bigger" room and I think the curved walls will work well.

I had 3 sheets of real wood strip flooring in my mini box and whilst I didn't want to waste them I was finding them difficult to incorporate - regular floorboards just seamed a bit too pedestrian for an old French houses. Then I struck upon the idea of cutting them into strips at 45 degree angle and lay them in a sort of parquet style. Purists - look away now…

I am pretty happy with the result, especially as I managed to find a use for the flooring and it looks relatively "french". A rug will cover the centre of the floor and a lot of furniture will help hide it.

 Once they were varnished up they looked fairly respectable. I think !?

If it helps, just think old and in need of repair!!!
I have loads of this flooring left so will use it in the other rooms in some format, possibly with a white-wash.

Finally, I had been working on the cornice for the drawing room and when I finished it really caught the light and looked pretty! So I thought I'd give you a sneak peek on the decor for this room.

Ok, I think I have taken up enough of your time. Hope you enjoyed this update and can keep up with my crazy hair-brained schemes and ideas. Enjoy the rest of the week.

Hugs to All...

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Pavements & Brickwork

Hi Guys

Well, I have finished "laying" the pavement in the brick paper and I think it works quite well. I cut a square area out and put back in a section of brick that runs at an angle to the main "grain" of the brickwork. I also increased the depth of the front step. Oh, and I varnished the wooded moulding before I stuck it down.

In the picture below you can just make out the brickwork and the yellow base colour on the step that I'm painting the stonework before I attack it with umber!

So, after much fiddling about, with different shades of Umber, this is how it now looks. I'm pleased with it so far but I think it needs a lot more layering of detail before it looks right. There is also a lot of architectural detail I need to add still - French flourishes etc, not to mention the dread roof!!

In the second picture I put a piece of mirror card behind the nearest window (the kitchen will be here) and you can see how well it work. I also want to get a couple of smaller planters for either side of the door.

As well as doing this I have been working on my kitchen layout. I have broken my rule of up-cycling and bought an oven kit from Elf Miniatures. it was relatively inexpensive and arrived the next day!! I haven't made it according to instructions but I'm happy with how it has turned out - not too shabby for my first oven! It will add a much needed modern touch.

Ok guys, I'll leave you all in peace now. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and I'll post more when I have it. Incidentally, thanks for your lovely comments on the Book of the Week post.

Catch you later...

Saturday, 5 July 2014

We have sandstone!

Hi Everyone
I hope you are all well.

I took the plunge and started to paint on my sandstone effect. It's really more of a series of sandstone colours as apposed to brickwork, but you get the idea. I have done 3 layers of colour and brushwork but I think I'll need another 2 at least to get it looking better - truth be told, I haven't got a clue what I'm doing other than making it up as I go along!

(Yes, that is a wooden mouse on the wall, top left - it's a long story!)

I have also been building a raised platform for the whole house to sit on that will be varnished in a mahogany colour and make it look a little more "cared for" rather than my usual scruffy house on a table. The front step will be twice the depth it is here and in the same sandstone colours. I've got several sheets of the dark red brick embossed paper I used on my Georgian mansion and I thought I could use these to cover the front part of the baseboard. Possibly laying them in a pattern of some sort to brake the expanse of brick.

Of course whilst I've been doing this I've been racking my poor brain about the interior. The ground floor will have the kitchen and dining area, whilst the drawing room will be on the first floor, possibly with a tiny study.

The space I am working with is not very big at all - total floor space is roughly 16 inches wide by 8 inches deep with ceilings 10.5 high. My ideas for the ground floor are slowly coming together and I have realised I will have to blank out some of the windows on the kitchen side so as to allow for cabinets etc. Ray suggested backing them with mirror which is a great idea and far better than my idea of putting black card behind the glass! Thanks Ray. I have tried it out and, of course, it works a treat. Following in the theme of Ray, I have been spending far too much time this week on the Habersham website and searching images in Pinterest. Whilst I am unsure about most of the aspects of this layout I do know that I want the kitchen to be rustic and open-plan with the dining area.

This house is "tiny" compared to most people's projects and I often find myself distracted by larger grander interiors and have to keep reminding myself that this is slightly more aged and rustic - a bit like myself!

Hey ho, I'm off to work on the paving brick work and varnish and will get back to you later today or tomorrow.

Happy weekend all…


Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Book of the week No1: An Invitation to Chateau du Grande-Luce

Hi Guys

Well, I thought my first book should "team with the theme" of my French house project, and so picked a wonderful book called  An Invitation to Chateau du Grande-Luce by world renowned interior designer and antique dealer Timothy Corrigan

Recently bought from the French government and renovated, Timothy walks us through his magnificent chateau in the form a weekend stay. All aspects of the property are covered, from breakfast, dinner, cocktails and horse riding on the estate. I find it a real inspiration and a great source of ideas, not to mention how interesting the story of the house is and what Timothy hoped to achieve by it all. His philosophy is that a great interior is one that is grand but not grandiose. Where comfort and modern convenience sit side by side with beautiful antique furniture, so one doesn't live in a museum but really lives in a space.

This is a big book and expensive but well worth the money. 

239 pages
Width 24 cm
Height 31 cm

I never get bored reading about this wonderful house and it's story, and the pictures are out of this world. I thoroughly recommend it to you all.

Like I said in my last post, I'm no expert or critic, these are just the rumblings of someone who loves reference books and wants to share some of the good ones. Good ones to me at least. I'll do another Book of the Week next Wednesday.

Enjoy the rest of your week, guys.
Happy reading...