When we moved into our dream house a few years ago, we began by gradually restoring the most important rooms, starting with the kitchen. Most of the rooms in our rambling, period house are part of the original footprint of the house, but there is a little annex attached to one side which housed a peculiar, 1980s-style kitchen, complete with carpeted floor and faux-wood cabinets. It was so bizarre – and so unlovely – that for a couple of years we essentially ignored it (and indeed didn’t take a single photo of it).
Then some time ago we decided to rip out the kitchen, whitewash the walls and lay a cheap laminate floor, thinking it would make a good office space. Instead, Harry and I have gradually staked our claim, filling the room with a growing tide of papers, paints, scissors, crayons, works of genius and - everywhere – tiny drifts of sticky tape that briefly adhere you to the floor, or indeed any surface you may lean on. It is, without doubt, now The Art Room…
Harry and I each have a desk; simple white worktops on IKEA trestle legs, which hold all of our most precious materials. Harry’s is very clearly marked in case there is any ambiguity about ownership, and bedecked with various masterpieces;
I have noticed, as a random aside, that I always look in Harry’s pictures as if I have recently dismounted from a horse. I am trying not to wonder what this may mean.
We love thick Giotto mega colouring pencils for their intensity of colour and ease of grip; not cheap but they last seemingly forever. Then jam-jars of brushes, pencils, Sharpie pens, pastels and tactile, jewell-shaped crayons; a legacy from Harry’s early childhood but too enticing to move on from completely…
The Art Room has a mysterious, scrolled staircase which ascends to a cosy alcove in the roof; too small for an adult to stand up in, but perfect for a child. We don’t know what it was intended for, but now it becomes variously a den, a reading nook, a hiding place and THE best place in the house to squash 25 people into when playing Sardines. It’s the only accent wall in the room, wallpapered (by me! After a glass of wine, as well!) with Scrapwood paper by Piet Hein Eek.
The stair-rail is strung with a random assortment of half-finished projects and decorative finds, like this vintage flag, driftwood garlands and my ever-increasing collection of beautiful stars..
And under the stairs? Our Dreaming Chair, where we can curl up and read, think, snooze or just chill out. A gift from friends who were moving house, it looks like it is a million years old and has lived many interesting lives. Each year on Fathers Day we take a photo of H and my husband in the chair together, and I intend to do this for at least another 40yrs.
The Art Room overlooks the unlovely driveway, so to mask that and to filter the light which in summer is blazing and intense, I propped old window shutters from our last house against the wall. They allow the weak, blueish northern winter light through and then do a great job when the weather turns warmer.
What else? A few nods to storage include a display box of old projects and keepsakes, and a couple of museum shelves just deep enough to hold propped-up treasures..
We use Ikea’s Asker hanging herb pots to store pens and brushes; mine are hung on the wall;
And Harry’s stand on his desk (the giraffe ruler was a treasure found in his Christmas stocking, but we suspect Santa might have sourced it here).
And our eBay-find vintage plan chest stores gorgeous papers and completed art works (you can glimpse it in the main room photo above)…
Most of our other paints, glitters and craft stuff is stored on make-shift shelves in a shallow fuse-box cupboard just outside in the corridor; unbeautiful, but very useful, and somewhere that Harry can go without help to choose whatever he needs..
So that is our tour, of possibly my favourite room in the house, and one with - already – some incredible memories. A room to be messy in (in fact my husband smiled at these photos, so unrepresentative are they of the daily chaos and flamboyant mess more usually found within), to play in and to be happy in. Very happy indeed, in fact.