Sunday, 27 February 2011

Light Up Light Up

I love lights, lights are my thing. It's nothing new, as a child I had those glow in the dark planets on my ceiling, at University parties, whilst my house-mates were busy making the punch I was going from room to room setting the 'lighting concept.' As I got older the planets progressed to lanterns, the ammateur lighting concepts became a professional consideration in my career in events. I truly believe it has the power to set and change a mood. A restaurant can have the finest food in the land but if the their overall hue is a shade too bright, I am interested not. Light a candle, hang a sting of fairy lights, pop a lamp in the corner and for heaven's sakes 'turn the big light off.
It's no surprise that when it came to project squat, the lighting was going to be a big deal. I have scrimped and saved on pretty much every element along the way, but when it came to the lights, I am afraid I just couldn't compromise. I have a fantastic Industrial Czech factory light over the kitchen table, Tom Dixon's in the living room, hector pendants in the hallway and a vintage metal chandelier in the bedroom.

So, it was, when innocently browsing through Etsy ( I was immediately struck by a truly stunning, bespoke range of lights, vintage inspired, not like anything I had come across and exactly what I had imagined as a feature light for above the stair case. Brilliant!! Ah, one small problem the designer lives in Texas. Hmmmm, well maybe she sells somewhere in the UK..?? Nope. I should have given up there, but oh no, I loved those lights, I wanted those lights, I was going to get me those lights.
So started the most long winded and nerve wracking lighting purchase of my life. We agree the style of light I, I choose my cable colour, bulb tight, metal for the fixtures. We agree a price, a shipment date, I opt for express delivery to be with me before the builders leave in 2 weeks. My fears are raised when the only payment option is over Skype, to the designers teenage daughter! As I hang up the phone I realise, i have just spen hundreds of pounds and there is literally no record of the transaction. Gullable, moi?
The 2 weeks come and go, no lights. I follow up with the seller... she apologises and says she will look into it..a week later still no light, I contact again... no response, a day passes, 2 days, a week. By now the builders have been and gone and I am left with the brutal realisation that I am a fool.

After a month, when all hope is gone, she suddenly returns, with sincere apologies, an explanation of problems in customs and the promise to dispatch a new light immediately. Oh happy day, my faith in human nature returns and my light is on its way. 2 weeks later, nothing. So when all hope is gone, I give up and depart from foreign shores. Of course, the week we arrive in Sri Lanka, the light arrives in England, Heathrow airport to be exact. Stuck in customs and the only way to set it free, a hefty charge! Hell I've paid this much, waited this long, of course I am going to pay up.
A couple of months later, would you adam and eve it, the light is in it's rightful home.. .A satisyingly warm glow which I see first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Was it worth the effort? You know what, I think it was.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

The Nylon Curtain

I've said it before and I'll say it again, it is the finishing touches that are hard to complete. Give me a few walls to knock down and a new ceiling to put up or a room to paint, 1 weekend - Done. (when I say me, I obviously mean the builders under my management!). Those of you who have followed project squat will know that ALOT has been done in a relatively small time. But, give me a few pictures to hang, some cushions to make and curtain poles to install, 3 months later we're still not much further.
Yes, my 6 day working week leaves little time for the house but I do firmly believe (and regularly remind the boy) that if you really want to do something you will make the time. I think the problem is more that the work is not essential. Having a picture hanging in the hall and nice cushions on the sofa don't dramatically improve the quality of my life... the sense of urgency has gone, I live in fear that it will never come back.

Worry not though progress, slowly, slowly, is being made. We do have some pictures on the walls Try though I might to steer clear of 'the group', I couldn't help myself and there are little ornamental groupings 'spontaneously' popping up all over the shop! We have blinds in the kitchen, and cushions on the window seat and you know what, I take it back, they do improve the quality of my life.

The absolute highlight of this week has been the curtains, the 'junky' chic that has adorned the window since about day 3 has finally been removed and sacrificially burned. In it's place a grand display of Toile De Jouy. It does shrink the room dramatically and will definitely require modern, paired back sofa's and accessories to avoid over 'onate-ness', but right now I am delighted by the general cosiness and actual warmth it brings! Here's to the power of the taditional wadded curtain, I salute you!

Monday, 7 February 2011

Second Time Around

I have long been a fan of the second hand - vintage clothing, recycled paper, eating other people's left-overs, you know... one man's trash and all that. So it was no surprise that I went down the reclamation route with the house. Pretty much every item in this house is a family reject, sourced from Ebay, Preloved, junk shops or an auction (well, except the lights!)

As time has progressed I have begun to wonder why anyone would do it any other way. Why would you buy some flimsy Ikea tat when you could get a beautiful sturdy vintage piece that has stood the test of time. Plus I like that each item brings it's own little history.
Taking this one step further I recently began my first ever restoration project. The item in question a bureau, kindly donated by family. Although I loved the shape, on closer inspection, the wood was, well to be honest a tad cheap looking... handles missing, scratched to death... definitely more shabby than chic.

I am not entirely sure what I am aiming for, possibly distressed, possibly luminous pink gloss, possibly matt black. So far sanding and undercoat is complete. Watch this space.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Happy Birthday To Ya!

Today is an auspicious day, it is the squat's first birthday!

That dark and teary day in 2010 when we got the keys and wondered what the hell we had done seems like a long time ago. It hasn't been easy, as regular readers will be very well aware, there is still a long way to go (carpets and garden seem like a life-time away), but it's been an interesting journey and overall I feel rather proud of what we have achieved.

So in shock departure from my natural negative slant, I thought I would take this chance to focus on the positives with a little look at some before and afters...