I do so love looking at magazines with houses that have either been renovated already, or are being set for that. Obviously for authenticity they show us older houses - maybe late victorian or 1920s town houses that have kerb appeal and are likely to be of greater interest to the families who want to renovate. It's important too to have the right furnishings when the place is finished. Some of the more modern themes will jar horribly on the senses otherwise. Once the rebuild and redoration has been completed, if the householder doesn't have the right furniture, then consulting with suppliers of antique and age appropriate funiture is an easy matter these days. Sites that dedicate themselves to the sourcing and supply of beautiful furniture are available for viewing and an amazing array of artifacts is now within reach - to finish that project off as we wish!
Gosh, where does time go?! We are fast approaching Christmas and the new year festivities at quite a pace. Not so long ago I was warbling happily about summer visits to historic houses and checking up their sumptuous arrays of antique and heritage furniture and furnishings. In October I visited a premier house - actually the size of a palace, and from first entering the visitors' hall and vestibule, you're aware of the importance of this particular family estate. The ancestors were very high and mighty in the reign of Elizabeth I, they worked their way up the social ladder big time, to then being absolutely the sovereigns right hand men. The house contains many artefacts from that period and many more from the later generations. You can smell the age of the oak trestles and settles that adorn corridors and the kitchens especially - wardrobe arrangements may have differed but the antique splendour loses nothing for that.
I just love this time of year - summer's gone, with all the heat and need to keep window blinds down to shade from the sun. Now we just have the delights of being able to have the blinds up and looking out onto frost laden lawns. We keep warm with toasty heating or wood burning stoves. This is when you really appreciate the luxury of wooden furniture. It always feel s and smells so homely when you enter a warm room that contains even just one piece of old oak. I remember going to stay with grandparents - they had a bedroom set of wardrobe, tallboy, large dresser and matching bedside cabinets. The look seemed very old fashioned to a youngster like me but the deliciously familiar smell remains with me to this day. I know there are sites that specialise in sourcing and supplying exactly these matched sets. More power to the combo!
I have noticed recently a selection of second hand furniture shops opening in the nearest town to me. For some years there had been a really sad lifeless look about the place, with shops staying empty for ages. Then a year or so ago a young chap started selling all kinds of second hand furniture and household goods. When this starting taking off and really making some money, he opened another shop where he sold better quality older pieces that he managed to obtain at country house sales and the like. He has done a lot of research and is also able to handle the antique pieces appropriately. They aren't over repaired or stripped down and rebuilt. This is what folk appreciate about the one or two really good online sources for anitque furniture and effects - making sure these much loved pieces stay in UK for generations here to love and enjoy.
We live in a very fast paced world nowadays - weeks zoom past into the next and families busily work towards the next 'thing'. After Christmas and New Year festivities, it's looking towards the school half term holidays. When there are children around, holidays take place, and then onto having a quick spruce up around the home ready for Easter. More quality holiday time. Then comes the biggie, the main summer break - somewhere abroad generally. After that, there are the Autumn hols to spend anywhere but at home.
In my grandparents' day, the spring cleaning gave a chance to connect with the home, appreciate good fortune of having lovely wooden furniture, probably handed down from a previous generation and all lovingly dusted, polished but given a really good go over in the period up to Easter. Antique ideas maybe, but joy of much loved and handled wooden furniture can never be replaced with a holiday abroad!
I was wandering around a local heritage property the other day - not really taking notice of any particular thing, when I noticed how well fitting the shutters were around the very tall windows in the second ballroom. There are five floor to ceiling windows, each about 100mm wide, and each casement has a shutter to close off against the elements. Saving the room from excessive sunlight is the name of the game but when the salon was added on to the house in the late 1800s, this was never a thought, they had no idea about planet warming worries. Just keeping the coldest of weather out! Nowadays we need to check our windows and frames for any perish problems due to extreme heat - it used to be worries about excessive rain and frost. Getting in the experts to look at wooden framed windows and doors is essential - you cannot do this properly as an amateur.
When we think of antiques, it is all too easy to think only of stuffy old fashioned chairs and large heavy brown wood furniture. Some young couples shun the idea of using hand me down furniture when they first set up home. It can often smell old and stuffy - maybe a little woodworm that needs attending to. Remembering that someone many years ago, made that piece of furniture, be it a large double doored wardrobe, or a neat little side table. They lovingly rubbed down the rough edged wood and made every section fit very neatly into the next. Hand finished all over it may not be, but a lot of furniture was assembled and finished off by hand. The lusture of the wood, when cared for with minimum effort, can bring a room to life. This is something that modern flatpack manmade materials will never be able to do.
There's a bungalow near me that has been on the property market for a while. Surprising, for bungalows here never normally need an agent, let alone an agent's board up to illicit interest. Anyway things started to take off a couple of months ago and in went the skip, for the inevitable ripping out process. I must say that it helps having an pal living not more than a stones throw away, so regular bulletins come my very nosy way. The couple are intending to keep all the original arts and crafts woodwork, i.e. the interconnecting doors, the pelmets, picture rails and good floor boards. They also have the original fitted wardrobes with matching bed head and side cabinets. They plan to replace the missing furniture with auction antiques if they can find exactly the right era. The buzz of excitement about this project is palpable - hope they have an open day so we can see it all!
I was watching catch up tv at lunch time today, over the rather delicious salmon salad I'd lovingly prepared for the purpose. I like to watch the old documentaries that BBC4 leave on their channel - some have been rescued from the abyss, just in time. They are so varied in subject and age but currently I am enjoying social history documentaries made between 1968 and 1979 on country houses and what happened to the folks that ran them. In each one I've enjoyed this week there are the kitchens giving us an idea on how complicated it was to get food organised, cooked and up to the top table to feed a dinner party of anything from 6 to 56 guests. The furniture and effects of the day are all on show, antiques and modern stuff sitting cheek by jowl. The tastes then were so different to today - they are a wonderful lesson in social mobility too.
I have the very wonderful joy of helping out as a volunteer at a small niche country house - it's not really big enough to be called a stately home although I guess in real terms it probably would call itself that. After all, who'd not want to be classed as stately when given half a chance. This is unusually not one that has long held connectins back to the battles of Naseby or Stamford Bridge. No connections with the English civil war that I have discovered at all. Two very lavishly rich americans took over the lease for a few years in the 1920s and they spent thousands of pounds making the place into the perfect country house idyll. The lady of the house was a collector of modern and some old. She had one of the salons decorated with hand painted chinese wallpaper - which was hung on batons ready to be moved whenever.