Tuesday, 5 June 2012

A Bare Breast and No Mantelpiece.

The snug follows on from the studio and is a really nice room to relax in. There is a music system in the alcove on the left, in which sits an old valve amplifier. It lights up when switched on, and has a nostalgic glow. A pair of home-made speakers sit either side of the chimney breast. A small original G-Plan coffee table, and a foot stool are placed in front of the tongue and groove paneling, where the original fireplace would have been. The blue colour tiles are still there (see pic above), underneath the rug, and the brickwork is still there too, but alas no fireplace or mantelpiece. The chimney breast is bare - S was saying the other day about purchasing a mirror to go there, but I'm not sure about a mirror (always get caught out for a moment in shock when I see a reflection), and perhaps would prefer to put some artwork there instead. TBCt'd.
In a previous post ('Wooden Floor, Feet Pointing Snugward') you can see that we had some plates hung from a picture rail above the sofa. Now, a couple of weeks on, and they are in a shelf unit (rescued from the 'old' Art Shop at Bath Spa University) along with two Staffordshire dogs (with rather comical expressions) in the other alcove. The walls are very bare, but will get some additions soon - and you can see the inherited items (plate and deer ornament)on the shelf, just near the door to the hallway.

The room has changed rather a lot. Couldn't resist putting in some 'before' and 'during' photos to show you the room in Audrey's day, the 'hole in the wall' during our renovations, and also the blue colour wash, which was the original colour of the painted walls of the house when it was built in 1877.
Discovered under rather a lot of layers of wallpaper.


  1. Wow, lots to discuss here...just finishing off on the subject of the bureau in the last post, I liked the analogy with the laptop a lot, and your description summed up perfectly how the bureau was used by my grandfather too.

    Ok, back to the snug, I love seeing the house in its previous incarnation. My first question relates to the fireplace; was the hole already behind the gas fire when it was removed, or did you at some point think about reinstating a fire?

    Although you don’t have a traditional mantelpiece there is an element of mimicking one (I hope that doesn’t sound negative) in the narrow shelf above the panelling, and especially the placement of the candlesticks (again echoing the traditional placement of objects).

    I notice that Audrey DID have a mirror above her mantlepiece! and yes, we did find one on Sunday...

  2. Glad you liked the analogy r.e the the Bureau/laptop, P - and they both have the same hinged action too!
    Audrey's gas fire had a back boiler, which was basically like having an unprotected fire in the hearth! When you looked underneath it, there was a burning chamber with raw flames inches from your face. We thought it a little dangerous, and it wasn't to our taste anyway, so we took it out, and had new central heating put in. This left us with a hole in the wall (for quite some time!), in which we thought we may fit a wood burning stove, but because of various problems with the chimney lining etc. we had to abandon. So what to do?
    I had the idea to tongue and groove part way up the wall, and S said that having a thin shelf above, would finish it off nicely, so there you have it. You are absolutely right in it's mimickry, it needed something to simultaneously break and join from panel to wall, and give some focus to the room. Probably unlike days gone by, we don't light the candles in that position, though, as they would leave long burn marks up the wall (shelf too narrow for that), but I do quite like the traditional placement (even though I'm not that fond of the actual candle sticks themselves).
    Yes, you can just glimpse Audrey's mirror, can't you - well spotted - one of those one's on a chain with an etched design in one corner. I believe there was also one above the fire in Audrey's lounge, but you just can't quite see in the photo (in a previous post).

  3. We have encountered similar chimney problems at the other house, so I can appreciate the fire dilemma. I think the panelling works well, and it’s nice to know that the lovely blue tiles are only a ‘reveal away!’

    You must have read my mind as I was going to ask how you managed to burn the candles without marking the walls! The (almost) symmetrical arrangement appears minimal and rather shrine-like – I must admit that I thought Audrey may have had more clutter, but she appears quite restrained in her choice of objects on display. It is interesting that in the reasonably short time that we have been blogging that this room has already changed…is this a regular occurrence? Or is the house still evolving as you continue to renovate?

  4. That's perceptive of you P. I think that Audrey's more restrained object arrangements may have something to do with the fact that in the last years of his life, Albert suffered from emphysema, and used a wheel-chair to get around. He lived downstairs, so obviously needed room to manuever! There is a second bathroom (a downstairs wet room) which was built especially for Albert, with an extra wide wheelchair-friendly door. Although Audrey out-lived Albert by a number of years, I think she probably kept the house looking much the same.
    Yes, this blog has co-incided with a spurt of domestic attention in terms of sorting, clearing, cleaning, building and renovating. I think it's probably to do with having a little more time to think and spend on those things after finishing a three-year course: and also my tastes have shifted - both wardrobe and domestic! Also the fact that we have been keeping a blog has been inspirational for being objective and analytical about the why's and wherefores of one's abode and possessions, it's been motivating and inspirational - and we are only part way through!!

  5. It’s interesting when tastes change, especially in relation to the home/interior, as
    unlike our wardrobe they can be more expensive and time consuming to adjust; unless of course it is just a case of stripping away the unwanted and going for a more minimal approach… I think that is why I have moved house so often as it is a great opportunity and excuse to start afresh!

    The story about Albert and the wheelchair explains a lot in terms of Audrey’s domestic surroundings, I did wonder why the dining chairs were arranged around the edges of the room…or maybe this was her personal preference?

    In terms of the room now, it certainly seems much lighter and brighter, the choice of crocheted blanket on the sofa makes me feel particulalry nostalgic – my grandmother (Ruby) was a seamstress who also loved to crochet, (I was made, among other things, a white crocheted dress, not particularly practical, but I loved it) – it is my biggest regret was that I never asked her to teach me how to crochet. I still have a blanket that she made, but it is unravelling in several places where our old cat clawed at it!

    By the way – I love the coffee table!

  6. What a refreshing attitude you have to moving house, P. I feel quite differently in the idea that I don't feel that I have lived in properties long enough to enjoy just living there, after all the modifications have been completed!
    R.e. the blanket - I do like a bit of crochet, if appropriate, and use that blanket (made by an old lady, of course), and the other one (woven from Jacob Sheep's wool at Solva Woollen Mill) most evenings. I'm convinced they are actually more comforting because the are so very nostalgic.
    Your Grandmother made you a crochet dress - wow that is amazing - ! Lucky you! So nice that you still have a hand crafted blanket, and have decided to keep it all these years.
    Talking about Grandmother's passing on their skills - my Nan taught me how to knit, but not to cast on and off - I only learnt how to do that a couple of years ago! I find knitting very relaxing, and quite compulsive - don't think I'd ever get up to Nan's skills levels in knitting whilst watching television, AND having a conversation!

  7. Having just watched the 50s House on tv, it is interesting how everything within the room was of the time; looking at your snug, it seems to be an amalgamation of the inherited, the home-made, the nostalgic, the new and the old – to us this seems the norm, but looking at Audrey’s room, there is less evidence of mixing periods and styles (although there is an odd mix of patterns – carpet, rug, curtains, and green seat covering!).

    I was also taught to knit, but only in a straight line, so I am limited to scarf-making!

  8. 'The norm' is an interesting expression. I think that perhaps for you and I and other creative friends - to have acquired evocative objects and items from a number of different eras, and for a variety of reasons, is the norm. Although when visiting some other people's houses, their tastes seems to be led by either a recreation of a certain time period style, or by large contemporary department stores/lifestyle manufacturers, such as Ikea or John Lewis etc. or the growing popularity of 'vintage' style, through Cath Kidston - though it's not the idea of what items are bought (I have items from all three suppliers), it's the amount of items purchased from one single provider which proliferates a particular 'look' to a room or whole house etc. This idea is also disseminated by newspaper 'style' magazines, often whose featured products will run out of stock within a matter of hours. I believe that it's our reasoning behind the choices we make as to what items we have in our houses that make us 'different.'I think I struggled for many years to celebrate the fact that I led a different kind of lifestyle from others around me. I found it quite uncomfortable having my studio at home, at first, as I felt it was quite revealing of whom I was, through what was 'on display'- more so than the rest of the house. Now I don't seem to care so much - but maybe that's because I'm surrounded by others who have similar tastes, or as I've grown older I'm more comfortable with who I am anyway? I'm ok with my sense of style being described as ... 'quirky'!Look, here I am sharing it online!!!
    It's been fascinating watching the Grayson Perry Series on Taste, as you begin to understand that different slices of society have some really unusual shared signifiers of standards and 'good' and 'bad' taste - fascinating stuff!
    R.e. knitting - I can only do plain stitch and am also limited to making 'long things' too!

  9. I am intrigued that you initially found having your studio at home to be too revealing, I must admit I have never really considered this, or particularly about what people may think about my house, as to me it is normal! But you’re right, this is not the ‘norm’ for many people, and I too, have family and friends whose homes are what we would deem more conventional, as their interiors are indeed based around department store style; like you I have items in the house from all three stores you discuss, but because they are combined with inherited or older items the look is more eclectic.
    I think this is a style that has evolved over time and is possibly a result of having moved house quite a lot. Each move will normally result in having to readdress the furniture we own, so things are often put to an entirely different use than in the previous house; house moves often result in having to buy more things to ‘fill the gaps’, hence furniture or objects are bought at different places and at different times, but that’s fine as I have no desire for styles to match. I still have furniture and items that I have owned since our first property 22 years ago.

    Grayson is looking at the ‘middle classes’ this week – it should be revealing…

  10. I think initially, it was the feeling that, when you have a piece of work that's in progress, it feels too early to 'share' it with, or explain it to visitors - as my drying rack is on the wall, (where most pieces are left for a while until they are over-printed or made into a book etc.) it's very visible. I've got used to working in my home studio now: plus everyone always seems to come to look at what I'm doing when printing on the Vandercook at UWE. Therefore it's made me a lot less anxious about work in progress. My drying rack now holds a few pieces of work, waiting to be progressed!
    It's fascinating to hear about furniture and items being found new homes and fitting (or not fitting) in places within the various homes that you have lived in - and also to know that you still have pieces from 22 years ago! I can only think of one single item that has made many moves (rented and owned homes) with me - an ottoman. More on that later on in the tour...


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