I am super-klutzy, so bad at freehand art that my teacher used to hide my work rather than let the side down by putting it up for end of term displays. At the same time I love craft and design. This Christmas I had a go at lino cutting for the first time, and it was nice to do something where my somewhat ‘rustic’ skills didn’t detract too much from the finished article. I was quite pleased with this for two hours’ work, even though some of the people working alongside me produced something a fair bit more refined.
At the other end of the (time)scale this needlepoint picture took me more than two years. When I started working on it, I needed some shatter proof colour for a corner with a swivel chair, and two boys that couldn’t stop swiveling. By the time I’d finished the boys had calmed down (a little) and the chair had a new home. But what’s nice about needlepoint is that the fabric guides your stitches, so that someone clumsy like me can enjoy putting colours and shapes together without worrying about how neat it is (or isn’t). The design is my own and made up on the hoof – I just started at the centre and worked outwards.
One of the motivations for the move was to create a comfortable space for grandparents to stay – a proper guest room that meant they didn’t have to share a bedroom with a pile of paperwork or a bathroom with the boys.
Another was to create some boltholes…somewhere to curl up with a book uninterrupted by TV or PS4. These three are in our loft bedroom, the kitchen and the guest room respectively.
The guest room chair was an antiques fair find just before I bought my first flat – it’s been through two moves and some reupholstering but I think this is its best home so far. It feels a little oriental in style to me which is not my usual taste, but the black painted wood and square but elegant shape means it fits in anywhere. Very comfy too. Both it and the cushion were done with off-cuts – the chair seat is in spare fabric from our old sofa and the cushion is leftovers from the sitting room curtains. Santa is a Christmas visitor – picked up from our local market to welcome my mum for the holidays.
The loft room rug was another find – this time from an antiques shop and gallery in Rye. I think it was destined for this room: we saw it when we were visiting a friend for the weekend partway through the project. I didn’t buy it at the time, but once home I couldn’t stop thinking about it. When I finally decided it would work I rang the store, convinced it would have gone. By good chance it had been sold on approval, only to be returned that very day, as the customer decided it didn’t work with her colour scheme. Her loss was our gain.
One of the biggest changes we’ve enjoyed in Forest Gate recently is an influx of new food shops including Wild Goose Bakery, and Cups and Jars, a grocery which aims to minimise packaging.
And one of the great things about my new kitchen (which I can’t feature yet as it’s in an upcoming magazine) is a sky-lit north-facing table which lends itself to moody food photos.
The vase on the left is a vintage find from local dealer Anagram Antiques, and the flowers are from our neighbourhood florists Molly & Bill Stevens.
We weren’t able to keep much of the existing decor, for understandable reasons, but we did have a few lucky finds, including the original hall flooring, more or less safely buried under several layers of carpet and lino. We called someone in to clean it and restore and reset the loose and damaged pieces. Now the rest of the work is done we just need them back for a final clean and polish.
A few select pictures from our second viewing – nearly three months before we finally completed on the sale. Some of the challenges included pine paneling, Artex ceilings (complete with asbestos), pebble dash (fortunately on the side and back only), the ‘decorative’ remains of a chimney breast and a rather eccentric shower (without loo or basin) in the rear bedroom.
..A lot to do and our hearts in our mouths
A blog about our house. It’s not the last house because…never say never. And because of the garage at the end of the garden which might one day turn into a granny annex (the original reason for our move).
But we (me + husband, two boys and two cats) hope to live here for a long time. We’ve spent nearly two years making it as liveable as possible, building on our experience in living in a mirror image house across the road and a lifetime of Pinterest and interiors mags (on my part, not the boys’). This site is about that project, and about our East London neighbourhood – Forest Gate. Welcome in…