Sunday, 28 February 2010

It is all in the detail...

As much as I like to think of myself as someone with a holistic outlook on life, I do confess to a slight obsession with details. Particularly when it comes to the desire to create a harmonious home, where my strive for balance at times has been known to drive the man in the house to tear his hair out. But you know what I mean, a visual song to all the senses, a well-proportioned piece of mind...

Our kitchen-diner is still a little bit of a blank canvas. Some might even find it bordering on barren. But against the modest white backdrop, a few details stand out with deserved pride. Orchid - the most sensual of flowers. Rusty star - rough and yummy! Vintage cup handles - does life get any better than that?!

I hope your weekend is equally fabulous on the whole as in every little gorgeous detail!

Saturday, 27 February 2010

A night in with the grandparents...

A popular trend in the shabby chic-inspired homes in Sweden is to copy a vintage image of, for example, angels or madonnas onto linen cushions. I decided to invite my grandparents instead.

Using the easy iron-on technique, my maternal ancestors were easily positioned on some thick linen fabric, and without any fuss then placed gently in my favourite armchair. Nestled there with a faux fur throw, they seem to enjoy being part of the everyday hustle and bustle of family life, with their great-grandchildren occasionally standing on their heads on top of them. Occupational hazard, I suppose, being sat on if you happen to have turned into a cushion in your old age.

Lisa and Helmer were not around long enough to meet their great-grandchildren, but somehow I think they are enjoying their cushioned presence in their lives now. At least I know I do.

Friday, 26 February 2010

On my doorstep...

Not bad as inspiration goes. Not bad at all.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Open door...

Open doors for friends to stop by, for fresh air to sweep through the house and through my senses and do a little spring cleaning in both, and - of course - open doors for spring to feel welcome enough to dare enter our chilled dwellings.

Perhaps still a little bit nippy for the first outdoor picnic, but what if we were to stay half-way in, half-way out...? Yes, I think that would work.

So I try every trick in the book to lure spring this way. I dress the small table in the same light green that seduces us all when the first buds arrive breathing promise of a new season. I twist some real greenery around the metal crown (made by my kind father after I shoved an issue of Jean D'Arc Living under his nose and looked doggy-eyed until he caved in). I fling the doors wide open and I wait. I wait some more. When the clouds can no longer hide their incontinence, I close the doors again.

Tomorrow I shall come up with a new cunning plan.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

On the move...

This could very well refer to my rather tedious inability to just sit still and do nothing. It could also be the opening line to a deep and philosophical exploration of where we all are going in life.

It is neither.

It is simply about the small things in our house that tend to cruise around, stopping only momentarily in certain places before they move on, ready to explore a new corner or habitat. It is splendid to see how well certain objects seem to marry such a large number of different mates almost simultaneously, in a manner that would be seen as both promiscuous and rather distasteful in the human world.

Most loose-footed of all are the small zinc houses, one minute cuddling up to a bunch of candles and a moment later, gone to find a new partner to woo. The rusty stars are no better, and they never seem to tire of their household polygamy.

Good thing I am rather liberal about these things.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

My distressed friend...

Well, that headline may perhaps be a tad bit misleading, as Sarah does actually not appear particularly distressed at all. On the contrary, she seems happy and very grounded indeed. But if anyone can stress pieces of furniture enough to send them into a beautifully distressed state, it is her. Cabinets and shelves, small and large, are taken on a rufty-tufty ride and come out on the other side looking sublime and spectacularly shabby. This little beauty is one of her babies and has also been given a vintage fabric to cover its gaping back. This baby is my new, distressed best friend.

We like. Oh yes we like.

Monday, 22 February 2010

And they came bearing gifts...

For a few glorious days, our house has been more Swedish than usual. If you were to ask the man in the house, he would probably say it is Swedish enough as it is, thank you very much, but with a dear childhood friend and her daughter visiting, the Swedishness levels rose to beautiful heights. Swedish chitter-chatter at hair-raising speeds, Swedish laughter echoing from wall to wall and that cosy, fluffy feeling of being connected to your past again. There is something special about relationships with friends who have known you through many different stages of your life.

And they came bearing gifts. As if they had peered into my slightly shabby psyche, as if they knew exactly what tickles my decorating desires these days, without having seen me or my home for years... they came bearing two yummy tealight holders, sensually shabby and wrapped in a metal net that makes them different from anything I have seen before.

My friends have now left to go back to Sweden. Their Swedish laughter still echoes from the walls, even if faded now. The tealights speak of precious memories, old and new, and I light them again, just to hold on to that fluffy feeling for a little bit longer.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Ice Age - No More...!

This short entry is dedicated to all of my Swedish friends who are right now wading through hip-high snow in record-breaking whiteness. Do not give up the will to live. Have faith. Soon your world will be wrapped in colours again and the white a memory which will fade into oblivion. No more digging and shovelling, no more layers, no more ice.

This photo was taken in our garden today. Please don't hate me.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Incy Wincy...

OK, I think it is time to get personal. After all, I have been exposing myself as a blogger for more than a week, so I think it is time to reveal the truth about my home. Show it as it is, warts and all. Alright, maybe warts would be a little too much for my readers, but here it is, the embarrassing and awkward reality.

Cobweb. Yep, spiders seem to believe that squatting here and there in our house will make us give it up and sign over the deeds to these eight-legged horrors. Well, they obviously have not met a Swede on a mission before. Armed with the hoover, telescoped to full length, I counter-attack. Ceiling, corners, under tables, they can run but they can't hide. Not from a Viking. Not from me and my hoover, fuelled by my hatred for them and their wicked webs. And so: victory, mission completed. Sweaty but satisfied I carry the hoover back downstairs and applaud myself on a job well done.

Or so I thought. Those of you with an eye for detail will already have spotted it. The subtle revenge of one stubborn spider. Too subtle for my ageing eye to see through the camera, but plainly obvious when blown up on the computer. My cherished bird cage, covered in cobweb. Now there is a beautiful example of man versus nature. Or woman versus irritating spider, as it were. One - nil to the spider.

Friday, 19 February 2010

A hole in the wall...

When we renovated the kitchen, an old doorway presented us with a small challenge. It had previously already been covered up and filled with shelves and cupboards, but what should we do with it now that the new L-shaped kitchen was going to run along that wall? The popular trend in Sweden to insert an old window in an interior wall kept whispering cajolingly in my ear, but in the end we decided to run the wood panelling behind the tap (to allow it to stand out proudly and deservedly against the white background), and only leave a small hole in the wall.

Man in the house thought this a superbly functional solution and envisaged, I'm sure, all sorts of functional cooking-related items there. Perhaps a toaster (ready to spew crumbs like Pompei ashes), perhaps a salt grinder (the ugly one, with definite spillage risk) or perhaps even the washing-up liquid (green sticky gunge destined to run down the panelling). Woman in the house had a very different plan. We were back to the age-old debate of form over function or function before form.

I will let you judge who scored the hole-in-one on the hole-in-wall.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Defying gravity...?

Who says baskets need to stand on tables and floors? I like to play Mary Contrary sometimes and avoid placing everything on ground level, or table level, or any flat surface reminding us of Newton's boring law. Hanging things from the ceiling, like lanterns or levitating Buddhas on swing-like shelves, or even upside-down flowers in tune with the season, all very modest outbreaks of civil disobedience. Or perhaps more like interior decorating naughtiness. Or could I plead artistic freedom? At the very least, it makes life a little more interesting.

As for baskets, walls are definitely the way to go.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Tick Tock. Time for green. Time for spring.

I must admit I am getting more than comfortably impatient now. I go out to talk to the tulip bulbs in the pots and pull very gently at the tiny sprouts promising crocuses. I wear my spring coat to take the children to school and try to ignore the accompanying blue lips and sound of rattling teeth. My blue lips, my rattling teeth. Like a spring desperado I fill my house with tulips and roses and stick my tongue out at anything dark-coloured in my wardrobe...

And I wait. Shivery and light-longing, I wait. Through the silence of my mental waiting room I hear them, first one at a time and then a cacophony of feisty feathery friends, tweeting and hollering. It can only mean one thing.

So spring it on!

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Go East...

For those of you who have just begun to relax into the tranquil white backdrop of our kitchen-diner and the CALM area, it is time to hold on to your seats and open your minds to a little taste of saffron, a whiff of baklava, a hint of the Orient.

And for those of you who may wonder what one does when one cannot find a curtain material one likes, but is head over heals in love with a particular wallpaper? Easy. You hang two strips of wallpaper from the rail and ask them to believe they are curtains. Think wallpaper. Be wallpaper. And oh yes, you also prey your baby who is just getting ready to walk does not decide to pull himself up grabbing any curtains... Success rate on last prayers? 100 %. Still hanging and baby boy will be four in March.

And by the way, wallpaper cum curtain prayers require no religion. Just some faith in interior well-being.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Think calm. Be calm.

Well, that's the idea. I think that in a house where testosterone, noise and the occasional paper aeroplane bounce off the walls on a daily basis, the need for a serene and calming canvas is essential for, well if not survival then at least to prevent a mum from bouncing off those same walls...

So, there I was, with some leftover floor boards and my precious band-saw. Before I had had a chance to say chocolate biscuit, my subconscious had guided my hands to form the letters that symbolise my needs. Luckily there were enough floorboards left to also make the table below, but only after some serious paint-stripping and the not-so-natural-high that comes with the fumes of the paint stripper... Who would come up with the idea of painting a lovely old dolly tub, anyway? Well, I do confess that the rough surface just adds character, and recycling an old Victorian wash-tub... me like!

And am I calmer? Well, time will tell...