Monday, 6 February 2017

Old and New...

We live in a house built in Victorian times (meaning that it was built while Queen Victoria was on the throne, between 1837 and 1901).  It's a cracking property and we feel very fortunate to live here.  It has high ceilings, large rooms and lots of light due to its big windows.  On the downside, the building itself is forever needing attention due to its age, and our heating bills are not insignificant.  Still, I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.  And since the Husband proclaimed on moving in that he refuses to move again and the next time he's leaving this house is in a box, it looks like we're here for the long haul.  Which is just fine by me.

The house has fortunately retained some of its original character (picture rails, fireplaces, amazing plasterwork on our living room ceiling etc), but we've never wanted to try and recreate a tribute to the Victorian era here.  In fact, the thought of filling our house with all things antique really doesn't appeal to me at all.

Don't get me wrong, I love old furniture.  It's generally much better crafted than current pieces, doesn't cost the earth, and can bring real character to your home.  We own a good number of period pieces of furniture and I love them.  But I couldn't live in a house that was dedicated to one era in time, be it sometime in the past or a tribute to all things modern.

In fact, my own personal belief is that you can give your home the maximum amount of appeal, charm and comfort if you mix and match your eras when it comes to furniture and accessories.

Our home, for example, has furniture from 100 years ago sitting alongside furniture from 50 years ago sitting alongside pieces bought new in the last twelve months.  Similarly, when it comes to accessorizing our home, I enjoy being creative and mixing and matching old and new, and I love it when an antique or retro piece sits happily alongside something I've crafted myself or bought new recently.

Our main bedroom is a good way to illustrate this.

On the wall facing our bed is an original oil painting of some flowers that I bought for literally a couple of pounds in a charity shop years ago.

Who is R Rosini?  Perhaps I'll never know...

This really isn't usually my thing, but I just love this painting

These colours are so beautiful.  Wish I could paint like this...

The painting is housed in a gilt frame; ordinarily I'm not keen on this style of frame but you couldn't have any other with this age of painting and it works very well in truth.  I love the way the flowers stand out against the dark background and (to my untrained eye) it looks to be painted very well.  I have no idea how much its worth and to be honest I don't care - it's going nowhere.

Alongside my beautiful flowers are a series of lino prints that I designed and printed myself a couple of years ago at a lino cutting course I attended at the wonderful Ministry of Craft in Manchester. 

My lino print quartet, all designed and printed by me

The design of the flower on my lino print and the colours I used, and indeed the simple black picture frames, are so far removed from the Rosini traditional oil painting that by rights they shouldn't all sit together well on the same wall.  And yet they do.  They really do.

Old alongside new...

We have a number of original Victorian fireplaces in our house, and one of them is in our bedroom.  It was painted white before we arrived, and on the mantelpiece and on the chimney breast wall are a number of pieces which certainly aren't Victorian but yet look right at home. 

Our bedroom fireplace.  The fireguard is covered in funky fabric from Ikea of all places!

Retro meets Victoriana...

The colours, fabric patterns and materials give it an almost 1970s feel

I made Mr Elephant around five years ago.  He's from a pattern I found in a book that I no longer have or remember the name of, but he was very simple to make.

I have my mum to thank for this amazing original 1960s fabric

I used scraps of yellow flowery material from the 1960s that were inherited from my mother and his ears are made of felt.  He has real character and he stands out against the white of the fireplace and the light blue of the wall.  Alongside Mr Elephant are a couple of other creatures - a fox I bought in a fantastic local shop called Bolthole, and a penguin that I've had since I was a child.

The fox is wooden and simply slots together;
he cost no more than a couple of pounds from an amazing
local gift shop called Bolthole

The penguin is one of my treasured childhood toys.
He's also wooden and his various bits slot together

Also on the mantelpiece are a series of three small wooden frames I bought in a charity shop for £1 the lot.  I've used them to frame small amounts of clashing / complementing (depending on how you view it) fabric from my stash.

The one on the right was from a dress the Girl used to wear when she was a toddler, and the one on the left is a remnant from when I made the apple canvas for the Girl that I told you about in my last post.

Sadly I can't remember where this grey scrap of fabric came from,
which is a shame as I'd love to use it elsewhere in our home

Hanging on the wall above the fireplace are a trio of embroidery hoops.  I can't embroider very well, so I've used the hoops to display some of my favourite Dashwood Studio fabrics, all of which have been purchased new in the last 18 months or so.

Embroidery hoops make a great alternative to picture frames

I think this red one is my favourite...

Left: Dashwood Studio's Cotton Candy fabric collection
Centre: Dashwood Studio's Streetlife collaboration with Jessica Hogarth, a fantastic surface pattern designer
Right: Dashwood Studio's Mori Girls collaboration with Jillian Phillips

So on one chimney breast we have a Victorian fireplace sat comfortably alongside new and homemade. 1960s retro-ness nestled alongside current fabric prints. 1970s wooden toys sat alongside a recently crafted elephant.  And it all works so well.

My bedside table is a further case in point.

The view I wake up to every morning (unless I turn to my left, in which case it's usually the Husband snoring)

My 'table', if you can call it that, is a small cabinet we found in an antique place years ago - we wouldn't have paid more than £30 (because, to be honest, we generally don't pay more than that for anything!).  I don't know precisely what era it is; let's just call it old.  Perched atop of it is a cut glass lamp, again from many years ago, which sits beautifully next to an Orla Kiely ceramic beaker bought at TK Maxx a week or so ago and a retro-style alarm clock bought, I think, from Argos a couple of years ago.  The lamp sits on a crocheted mat which I crafted especially for this purpose.  Handmade + vintage + modern all in one small space.  But SO much character!

Don't feel you need to stick to one era, or one design, or one style when creating a home for yourself.  Jazz up your home with whatever makes you happy, whichever era it happens to originate from.  And don't feel that everything has to match - you won't be surprised to learn that we don't have a single matching set of cushions in our house!  I just can't bring myself to do it.  Let your imagination run wild and have fun!

Bye for now xxx

Follow my blog with Bloglovin


  1. We have a Bolthole Fox too! (And an owl, squirrel and penguin)... Love the oil painting.
    And I really need to get you into Pinterest ;) x

  2. Ah Pinterest, just can't get into it, but suspect it might become a necessary evil in future! Yes we have a penguin too, love love love Bolthole xxx