A recent sojourn in France made me appreciate all those little corners of tranquility in our still unfinished renovation project. Despite the uneven surfaces, occasional damp, and never quite straight or square architectural idiosyncracies of a French farm house, I do love revisiting those little corners so often suffused with sunlight.
There is a constant pattern of evolving decor in our little house, and these changes are often led by new finds from the local French Brocante markets, or objects collected on country walks. We started by painting everything white in an attempt to rid the house of the ‘beige, dust and tobacco’ colour scheme of the previous inhabitants! Major construction work has necessitated minimal decoration until now, but we are constantly seeking inspiration for that next exciting phase when we actually get to add more colour to the space. Drawers full of colour chips and wallpaper samples have built up over the years and files of inspirational magazine cuttings and colour reference images show our changing tastes over the incredibly long journey to this point. We have moved from minimal white to ‘holiday home’ colours; lobster pink, mediterranean blue, apple green. These have given way to natural clay paints, traditional ‘French grey’ woodwork and antique whites contrasted with a rich metallic sheen bronze wall covering, deep red walls and raw pink plasterwork in our cosy dining room, inspired by an ancient flocked velvet picture frame.
I was delighted to find that the Paint and Paper Library has been relaunched with a whole new gamut of colours, what bliss, a whole new opportunity to re-colour our house!
The card is made up of two distinct palettes, for easy use. The top half is of what they call ‘Architectural Colours’, essentially variations on the theme of white, these are designed to complement the 85 ‘Original Colours’ by either simply moving down the column of colours for monochromatic schemes, or by contrasting with a diagonal shift across the spectrum.
Our kitchen has a fantastic old brick dome bread oven as it’s feature, it holds a pretty constant cool temperature and we use it to store wine and soft drinks, not chilled, but cool to the palate in the summer months. We have been searching for a soft, but contemporary white to complement the natural exposed stone, I think we might just find it in this collection, the architect’s emulsion is matt, flat and washable; perfect for a busy country kitchen.
Our house is overrun with mini corners of curiosities, collections of heart shaped stones, seeds or dried leaves, boxes full of pretty birds nests, brocante finds and odd shaped pieces of wood or branches. It would be easy to clutter the house with all this, so we are on a strict rotation, rearranging and sorting with every season, and each time we rediscover our treasures it’s like meeting up with old friends.
In an attempt to keep as many original features as possible in the house, we have retained the original windows and doors where possible. Decades of paint have stories to tell, and I love the way that the old drips and layers of paint are apparent even through our top coat of gloss. I’m sure interior decorators will be throwing up their hands in horror, but I’m proud of the rustic story behind our walls!
One of my greatest pleasures is the transformation of a very dirty old attic into our spacious bedroom, the quality of light is pure bliss, and we have deliberately kept the space clean and open. However I am tempted to bring a little warmth to the colour scheme, and love the Paint and Paper Library’s combination of cool teal ‘Spur’ with the warmth of their ‘Plaster V’, so maybe a little area of warmth in the bedroom might be a good move with the next decorating splurge.