I’ve made a little video for my Instagram page @casacrilly, where I put all of my house and interiors stuff, and it’s all about the double renovation we’re currently in the midst of – we’re doing up a little seaside holiday cottage in Dorset and also the house we’ve moved to. It’s all quite chaotic and I keep wondering whether it’s all entirely necessary but then I remember the two main reasons why all of this work (currently wall demolition, insulation, re-wiring and the full works in Dorset and then floor-sanding and floor-staining here at home) is pressing and necessary. To precis them for you, in case you don’t want to have to watch the video:
a) the cottage needs to be rented out, otherwise it completely defeats the point of itself and
b) we’ve started the chain of works at our own house because the floors are trying to kill me
I’ll expand on point b, shall I? Let’s rewind to when we first viewed our new house. It was instant love for the location and the views, which are unbeatable: not so much for the acres and acres of light solid elm throughout the interior. All solid elm floors, bespoke wardrobes and shelving in almost every room (beautifully done, I should say), a huge double-width staircase carved out of – you guessed it! – solid elm. Now I love wooden floors in photos, but in real life? Slidey as anything! Unless you wear shoes indoors (which feels weird to me) it’s like existing on an ice rink. If you cross the kitchen with a cup of tea then you’re basically signing away your right to sue. Run to answer the telephone (yes we still have a landline that we use, old school!) and you risk breaking your neck.
It becomes infinitely trickier with small children and shiny wooden floors. They career about like lunatics and the day is punctuated by me screaming “hold onto the bannister!” every time they go up or down the stairs. Which is a lot.
Then you can add the noise factor in. (I should have called this post Why I Now Love Carpets). Drop a toy on a wooden floor upstairs and the sound goes straight through you. Twice. The first time when it makes initial impact and then again when it inevitably rolls its way across the floor. Fitted carpet takes away the pain; a dropped basket of wooden foodstuffs at 6.25am? It’s like it never happened. Carpet brings a veil of hush. And yes, you can use rugs, but I do like the luxuriousness of a fitted carpet in bedrooms. And the neatness. Rugs in bedrooms, I can never seem to position them sensibly and then when I get them just right, I realise that the middle isn’t in line with the window, or the edge stops the door from opening.
So, it’s carpets upstairs and beautiful slippery, solid elm down. With rugs. (I seem to be better at downstairs rug positioning for some reason!) But before the neck-saving carpets can be rolled out, we have to stain all of the woodwork. Why? Because it’s like being in one of those furniture shops that only stock the sort of orangey oak or pine that was all the rage in the eighties. It’s overwhelmingly Pine Village. Even though it’s not pine, it’s elm. But the colour is an absolute bombardment to the senses and makes me feel as though I’m trapped in a space-time vortex that has paused in 1991. I think it’s just because there is so much of it.
That’s why we’re taking the wood down a notch or two, to something more in keeping with the seventies style in which it has been built. It’s all being stripped, stained and refinished and will be slightly darker, more luxurious in feel and more comfortable, I think – sometimes with the very light wood and the huge windows, I feel like Mike TeeVee in Wonka’s factory when they’re all in that bright white studio. It’s enough to give you snow blindness if it’s a very sunny day!
I should point out that we’re not changing the wood in the sunken living room that’s featured in these photos – that room is free of Pine Overwhelm Vibes. Annoyingly, the floor will have to come up at some point because underfloor heating is going in, but that’s a story for another day.
Right, well that turned into a very long explanation of what I basically said in the video. You can watch it here if you’d like a sort of audiobook version of this post! Make sure you’re following on @casacrilly for more regular updates and I’ll be back soon with a cottage update… I worry that posts like these are boring if you hate house stuff, but hopefully they’re labelled well enough to allow people to skip over them if they just want beauty…