new lampshade

I took a quick rekkie trip to ikea for a project yesterday and picked up this nifty little lampshade – very Swedish no?! I had bought it for another lamp base but it really works on this one which is a recycled spool from a weaving factory in England.

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Interior Style

new lampshade

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DIY, Interior Style

Fancy a dip?

This old pine desk was the very first piece of furniture I bought.

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I was sixteen and it was IR£25. I can still remember my Dad bringing me to buy it in a now long gone bric-a-brac shop in Ranelagh, having withdrawn the money from my savings account. Miss Doyle, my art teacher at the time, was teaching us to restore a piece of furniture in our art class. It was a very useful lesson! We were taught to scrape it down with curved broken glass a very laborious but effective way of stripping back, and then painting or waxing to finish off.  so I restored many years ago and since then it has been my desk through school and college, my hall table in my last cottage and now it is my downstairs desk at home. I have recently been feeling it needed a spruce up. It has had a bout of woodworm over the years and there are stains of twenty odd years of cups of tea and glasses of wine sitting on it. So on a sunny saturday I took it outside and scraped it back and applied many coats of woodworm treatment to be sure I am rid of the blighters. There was lot of damage on the top, so I filled all the channels with filler.

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I then applied a couple of coats of the palest grey just on the table top. This style of treating furniture is very popular at the moment, where we can appreciate bare wood but at the same time use paint to introduce colour or when practical for covering up stains or repairs.

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I finished off by sanding the legs and bringing them back with a good polish of beeswax and the table has been revived. I used a hard wearing acrylic matt paint from colourtrend in Daytona Grey. And here is the desk back doing it’s job:

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As I mentioned, it reminds me of the dipping trend thats going on at the moment, which I am planning to do to a bentwood chair inherited from my granny that I am currently scraping back.

Here are some images to inspire….

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dipped ash stool from toast

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gorgeous dipped storage baskets

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cute dipped bentwoods at Hally’s Café in London

Maybe you have an old bit of furniture to breathe new life into? enjoy!

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London Bridge c.1600

A tour of Old London Bridge

I have set this particular etching circa 1600.
It looks towards the East side of the bridge.

Towards the Southwark end we see the Great Stone Gate complete with the infamous traitors’ heads on poles designed to serve as a deterrant although actually recorded as seeming to be more of a tourist attraction.

At both ends of the bridge there were water wheels serving two mills. The South end mill, with its wheel in one of the arches, drove the waterworks – London’s first supply of pumped water from the Thames, while at the other end four water wheels, built a few feet away from the bridge upon the bases of a few of the arches (known as starlings), served the cornmill that was provided for the poorer citizens to grind their own corn at a moderate charge.

Towards the middle we have the incredibly ornate building known then as Nonesuch House – literally ‘no-other-such-house’. It was actually a prefabricated building that had been shipped over in sections from Holland, where it had originally been built. Its construction spanned two years, commencing in 1577. It is recorded that it was fitted together with only wooden pegs, without the use of a single nail – such was the immense precision in its design. It was decorated heavily with ornate woodcarvings and onion shaped cupolas and was apparently painted in brilliant colours. It stood for almost two hundred years but was in quite a state of decay when it was finally demolished in the eighteenth century along with all the rest of the houses on the bridge.

There had been a chapel in the middle of the bridge originating from the late twelfth century. This was dedicated to Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury and a native Londoner. It had become the setting off point of the pilgrimage to his Canterbury shrine – where he had been murdered. In 1538 Henry VIII ordered all representations of the saint be defaced and later in 1549 it was stripped and allowed fall into decay, eventually turned in to a grocer’s shop. It is recorded that there was originally an entrance above the starling on which it stood. It seems that wherrymen and fishermen would tie their boats up and enter this way – a convenient access for them visit daily to seek a blessing on their day’s work. In this etching it is unrecognisable as a chapel with makeshift scaffolding built around it.

A major fire in 1633 destroyed most of the houses featured at the Northern end of the bridge. It is written that “On the 13th day of February, between eleven and twelve at night, there happened in the house of one Briggs, a needlemaker near St Magnus Church, at the North end of the Bridge, by the carelessness of a maid-servant setting a tub of hot sea-coal ashes under a pair of stairs, a sad and lamentable fire, which consumed all of the buildings before eight of the clock the next morning” There was an extreme scarcity of water as the Thames was almost frozen over at the time. Forty two premises were recorded as destroyed including: eight haberdashers, six hosiers, one shoemaker, five hatters, three silk mercers, one male milliner, two glovers, two mercers, one distiller of strong waters, one girdler, one linen draper, two woolen drapers, one salter, two grocers, one scrivener, one pin maker, one clerk and the curate of St. Magnus the Martyr. As the majority of these buildings were not replaced any time soon, the gap in the bridge prevented the Great fire in 1666 from spreading on to the bridge.

Antiques & Antiquing, Art

Old London Bridge c.1600

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Art

June Open Studio Weekend at Glasnamullan House, County Wicklow

I am still recovering from the blur that was last week. I hosted a very special event up in the Mountains. The idea was born a few months ago on a snowy day sitting around the kitchen table of artists Brien Vahey and Grainne Cuffe. They live in the most wonderful old house that has an artistic history at its heart. It was in its past, the home of the renowned painter Camille Souter and she has left her mark around the place, like this beautiful tiled window sill she made…..

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As an Interior Stylist I love that house – each room has a different personality each with its own vista of both the sweeping leafy driveway at the front and then different aspect of the mature garden and where it meets the surrounding fields and hills – magical.

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It has always had bundles of  artworks piled around the place, but I always felt it would really lend itself as a gallery space to display all the paintings and etchings while letting people see how a piece of art enhances a room – which is one of my missions in my Interior Styling & Home Curation Service.

I put my idea of an opportunity to show their work, and sell it while we’re at it, to Brien & Grainne and they agreed – with trepidation! we decided sometime around Midsummer would work, we committed to the dates and got to work.

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There were weeks of preparation but last week we really got down to brass tacks and spent days and nights decluttering, moving furniture, choosing wines, framing pictures, curating what would hang where, there were cleaners, gardeners and helpful neighbours all mucking in.

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moving the piano!

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the paint on Brien’s road signs drying at the last minute

So we opened at midday on Saturday, after 24hours of torrential rain, the sun had come out, the bunting was up, the wine was on ice and we were ready. We then suddenly thought … what if nobody comes?! but we needn’t have worried, “If you build it, they will come” I kept thinking and they did. But sure why wouldn’t you?! There was an array of paintings and colourful etchings on display – a feast for the eyes.

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There were beautiful wines or elderflower cordial to be sipped

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Grainne’s delicious lemon parsley butter on brownbread with smoked salmon to be enjoyed!

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Not only was it an opportunity to peruse the selection of paintings and handmade prints but also to talk the artists themselves. We opened up their studios that are located in the outbuildings and Grainne & Brien took people around and explained the processes involved in creating. What better way to spend a weekend afternoon!

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Grainne’s etching studio

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one of Brien’s studios (it depends on the season)

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The Garden Studio

We had also styled the end sitting room to help people envisage artworks in their own interior

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To top it all off, many of the visitors took the opportunity to bag a bargain and begin or extend their art collection (including moi!) and many happy people left with a picture under their arm, while others left with a wish list to save up for having being introduced to the wonderful work of Grainne & Brien. The weekend, the first of its kind, was a huge success and worth all everyone’s hard work. I am now thinking up the next one so watch this space!

Incidentally, if you are interested in any of their works, let me know, as it is available through my Home Curation Service.

Also, Brien runs oil painting courses in Ballymoney, County Wexford  – another unique way to spend your weekend.

some more images of the weekend…..

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Antiques & Antiquing, Art, Interior Style

The rug has come to its new home

My rug has arrived from London – I had it professionally cleaned by a fellow who happened to be Persian and he exclaimed when we opened it up…”Where did you get this!! This is very old! Its beautiful.” So he carefully cleaned it for me with due care and attention and now the Afghan rug begins the next chapter of its intriguing life in Ireland……

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A piece of real gold thread has been stitched in to this orange square….

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Art

The etchings of Grainne Cuffe

As a taster to the Open Studios Event in a couple of weeks, I wanted to show you some works by  printmaker Grainne Cuffe

Grainne specialises in intricate studies of plants and their colours, many of them on a very large scale therefore producing a very simple way to introduce strong simple colour into your surroundings, investing and enjoying fine art while you’re at it.

My favourite of her series (at the moment) is her wild geranium leaf set, where she has studied in such detail the leaves of what some of us think of to be a weed! The studies include details of seed heads and flower heads but the star of the show is the leaf.  She has pulled out the fresh greens you get with new leaves and together, as a set of three, the impact is stunning!

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‘Wild Geranium leaf I’ etching by Grainne Cuffe

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‘Wild Geranium leaf II’ etching by Grainne Cuffe

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‘Wild Geranium leaf III’ etching by Grainne Cuffe

Another series creating impact are two studies of Sweet pea, on a scale so huge that you would need a sizeable room to carry it off – when framed they are over a metre square, the effect is stunning. Strong vibrant red & pink – these pieces work well in additional new spaces that have often been added on to an older house.

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‘Sweet scented I’  etching by Grainne Cuffe

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‘Sweet Scented II’  etching by Grainne Cuffe

Grainne has also produced a study of pinks (dianthus) there are five in this series with tones of mauves, dusty pinks, fuschia and aubergine through the set.

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‘Dianthus III’ etching by Grainne Cuffe

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‘Centaurea Montana II’ etching by Grainne Cuffe

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‘Mountain Ash III’ etching by Grainne Cuffe

While wandering about the house with a view to planning next weeks event I found a sitting room with an old series of roses and fell in love, These editions are long sold out but Grainne tells me she is planning on looking at roses again, I am nagging her to do so. Pictures of roses which had become a bit old fashioned are now enjoying a revival in popularity with the current movement of nostalgia and all things vintage. At the end of the day garden roses ooze elegance and class (no to be confused with shop bought roses that never really open and have no scent -yuk)

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I am hosting an Open Studio Weekend at the home and studios of Brien & Grainne on the 15th & 16th of June – please contact me direct if you would like an invitation to an opportunity to meet the artists and view their works in situ. All works on display will be for sale.

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Art

The paintings of Brien Vahey

Continuing my taster to the Open Studios Event in a couple of weeks, I wanted to show you some works by painter Brien Vahey.

I have long been a fan of Brien’s paintings especially because of his subject matter and how he treats it – with his painterly strokes of happy colours.

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‘Coliemore Harbour’ by Brien Vahey

Brien tackles landscapes and beachscapes, his use of colour capturing the sunlight kissing the sea or the hayfields and their surrounding hills. When I look at his paintings I can see them enhancing a room a thousandfold, imagine a room with pale grey walls and a well loved wooden rectory table in the middle surrounded by mismatching chairs …. with this on the wall above….

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‘Tonlagee 6’ by Brien Vahey 

Brien also looks at everyday items and sees a still life where we would see none…

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‘Bread and flour’ by Brien Vahey

Even a coal skuttle becomes a thing of beauty – I love the turquoise in this one – think of the colour this would introduce to a room!

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‘Coal Skuttle’ by Brien Vahey

and then there are his gentle observations of what would seem ordinary  buildings

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‘Ice cream shop 1’ by Brien Vahey

humble farm buildings become the centre of attention, and rightly so..

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‘Farmyard Glencree’ by Brien Vahey

A piece of fine art is SUCH an important element to an interior – to me a room is incomplete without at least one strong artwork on the walls. This is what pulls a room together or, for many of my rooms, starts off ideas and colourways.

I am hosting an Open Studio Weekend at the home and studios of Brien & Grainne on the 15th & 16th of June – please contact me direct if you would like an invitation to an opportunity to meet the artists and view their works in situ. All works on display will be for sale.

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