A good chum of mine lives in a big house that was built to look older than it is. I know not why the previous owner wanted it to look like a 1920s villa, but it does and it has beautifully proportioned sash windows throughout – very in keeping with the design ethos. The problem with big windows is the need for a lot of curtaining. If you don’t have those, then the space can look really cold and uninviting. So after going through their rosey fabric with swags period, followed by start minimalist roller blinds, the family have settled on wooden slatted shutters inside – they fold back in the daytime and very adequately and efficiently cover the vast glazed expanse at night. They have the little cane down the middle to turn the slats up or down according to the sun direction. They are stunning – minimal fuss but totally adequate reduction in cold air off the windows.
I have fairly recently started visiting a very aged relative – I’ve made annual visits all my life, but now she has need of more care – she still lives at home. I am always amazed how she manages to get around her rather over furnished 1950s semi – the three piece suite is far too big for the space and the dining table with matching wall dresser are also massive – more suited to a large open plan affair that families have now. The one area I do find satisfactory is the window dressing – this year, because of the extreme heat and sunlight, she has invested in slatted blinds. They are very attractive and work a treat to let sunlight in when wanted but definitely shut it out when not. The way they seem to cut off the extreme heat is incredible. They are also easy to operate for arthritic hands – a massive deal maker or breaker!
We live in a world where clothing and furnishing fashions change very rapidly – the fads for certain colour schemes come and go and each series of hues comes around perioically. To keep up with many and not have to pay a fortune for new venetion blinds or other window dressings, it is best to keep to a neutral palette. With the windows, they are an essential part of a room but you don’t want the colour of blinds of curtains to completely draw the eye away from other pleasing aspects of the room when visitors arrive. The most recent trend had been for grey – for some 5 years now, grey has been the predominant choice for many families moving into a new home, or refurbishing an older one. It can be a cool, relaxing shade if used wisely, but in the wrong space, grey can look to business like and miss the mark completely.
years ago I worked in one particular office in what had started life as a factory unit but somehow our boss had secured and made into a large office and stock holding area. Because it was never designed to have lots of folk sat working at computers or typewriters, there was no air conditioning or really effective cooling system for the heat generated in summer. There were windows down the length of each side and the glass attracted and reflected the heat to an unbearable level. We used to try to get relief as best we could, with limited success, until a jolly chap from Glasgow came visiting and showed me the better way to set the venetion blinds on the very sunniest days. By golly he was right too. Fancy someone from one of the least sunny cities knowing the secret to success with the office window blinds. Astounding!
I recently visit the house of a young couple who have had the chance to move out to the country – their dream property. They’ve furnished it in real style – nothing over the top but so perfectly appropriate for the style, era and placement of their house. They went to a local furnishing warehouse that has been supplying the locality for many years – totally independent and the supplier of british oak furniture of the highest standards. They only change their range twice a year – winter into spring and summer into autumn. The couple bought the last of the winter range – sofas, cabinets, huge sideboard, dining table, beds, the whole lot. Then very wisely, they had a curtain and blind supplier come and custom make and fit the most perfectly matching items – you couldn’t have made them better if you’d gone to that well known store in Knightsbridge. They have achieved sheer perfection.
Having the artistic eye to see past all the junk in an old house and imagine how you can get it to look – modern, vibrant, classy and worth taking on. Now that is really not a challenge for the faint hearted. Making the most of a room’s location is best served with the curtains, blinds or other window dressing. These can be matched effortlessly with the wall coverings and carpet – plain if necessary, so as not to detract from any spectacular art work on the walls. The doyenne of the English country house look was of course Nancy Treet, or Lancaster as she later became – her ideas were so popular in the late 1920s onwards, there isn’t a magazine or book about the subject that doesn’t have her as the go to reference. She like a calm warm look and was fussy about curtaining and room decor. Always had to be the very best that money could buy.
I have been visiting various relatives this year, having got a great deal more time to spare than ever before. It’s been fantastic fun, getting to see the houses and apartments again that I only ever visited rarely before. One in particular really had an effect on me, the house is airy and very light as it points in the right direction out the back. This gives a quiet unfussy calmness to the sitting area at the front. Throughout this house the curtains have blinds up, they are beautiful and match the colour of each carpet and major upholstery item absolutely perfectly. I cannot imagine ever going round a house with anything as near perfect as this combination. One room has a pale yellow background with coral and pale orange tulips on, matching the coral carpet and palest of cream sofas. I came home fired up ready to surf the net for idea – a real delight!
I have just come back from staying in a quite isolated country estate house. The building was originally a school on an old stately home estate and was built for the home and the attached villages, of which there were once twelve. The windows have been replaced by velus roof windows in the upper floor – a brilliant idea as these particular ones are new enough to contain the magic ingredient that solves heat and too much light permeating the room. The other rooms all have gorgeous Roman blinds up – each in exactly the colour to suit the independently managed wallpaper and door paint. The finish is really superb and the fit of each, with the resulting excellence of movement and fit. Each brings a beautful finish to the room and it is indeed a pleasure to operate the blind mechanism. The modern theme doesn’t look out of place either. Perfection!
Gosh where has the time gone – it seems like only yesterday I was waxing lyrical about having blinds fitted to velux roof windows and how they would be lovely to keep out the sunlight and/or draughtly winter weather. Here we are, mid winter and the blinds have been up for ages. Very effective too as blackouts also. I have only stayed in a cottage with roof windows – these were placed at an odd angle in the newly refurbished attic. The sun would stream in – very welcome in the day time when everyone’s up, but when you’re trying to stretch that last half hour of kip time, a 4.30 ray of run in your eyes can be a tad painful. So when a family member moved into a country conversion this week, I was pleased to see the quality of the existing roof blinds – really sturdy and fitted absolutely expertly. No undesired sun or cold creeping in!
I know of a young couple who are trying to tie up the final details so they can move into their dream house. They’ve had a neat and tidy little starter home for 4 years – one with regular windows and doors so curtain and blind installation was a doddle. So all things are coming hopefully to a successful and fruitful conclusion and they’ll be in for the spring. When the lass sighed with satisfaction, I pointed out that they were only actually reaching end of phase 1. The more testing time is about to commence. Next task will be getting curtains and blinds to fit the velux style roof windows in the upper storey and massive shuttered windows down one side of the old property conversion. I reminded them that professionals are the only ones who can tackle such a project, for safety, time and financial reasons. No amateurs can ever make blinds fit as snugly or elegantly!