Thursday, 13 November 2014

Cushy numbers

I love comfort in the home, and no-where more important than the Living Room.  Comfort is diving into cushions and in my living room I have 14 and counting! 

I don't really understand the concept of having 'a good room'.  Rooms, especially 'Living Rooms' are to be lived in.  Somewhere you should feel comfortable to kick off your shoes and throw your legs up on the couch/sofa/chaise longue. A space where your friends should  feel comfortable to also kick off their shoes and relax!  I've had my sofa for 8 years and I can't believe its taken me to now to actually do something more colourful with it.  I mean, its brown!!! I think I have turned into my parents!
So while brown hides melted Dairy Milk smudges, it is also quite, lets be kind here, not very exciting.   Below I have tried to disguise it with a stripy woollen throw from Flaxmill Textiles.

In Belfast we have Titanic Film Studios where Game of Thrones has been based for Season 1-5.  I have been sewing costumes for Seasons 1-4 and we often get remnants and small scraps of fabric.

So I decided to brighten up the brown and make new covers from GOT fabrics.  Printed silk velvets, brocades, gold embroideries.  Velvets are perfect for sinking into on a big sofa...very sumptuous and luxurious! 

Testing out the best colours to match up with the colours in the throw.

Brown and out

 Patching up velvets to make a big cover.  Duck filled cushions....bliss!

Even the smallest scraps can be patched together.

Joffrey notices that now he's a goner, I have used his coat to make a cushion!
Image Credit Helen Sloan HBO

Mum crocheted the throw over the arm of the sofa.  More on my talented mum coming soon.  She's my inspiration.

 All the cushions have different fabrics for the back so can be plumped up either many options! So many colours!

 Now to sit down and sink into my sofa and listen to this fantastic wee tune from the Celtic Shores.
'Can Ye Sew Cushions' by Jean Redpath.  Love it!

Till next time
Christine x

Saturday, 8 November 2014

On Air: The Great Interior Design Challenge

By the time you read this the show will have aired and our fantastic winner of our heat will have been revealed....

But just in case you haven't had the chance to watch it just yet, I am saying nothing!!  The link to the show is at the bottom of this blog so you have no excuse. 
In this post I would like to share my journey on the GIDC.  It was amazing and perhaps will open the doors to many more adventures.
Once I received my brief, I started researching what my clients wanted.  Highlighting key words that they had asked for 'light airy, family friendly', amongst lots of others.  Preferred colours were also mentioned by the clients so I designed around that.  We also had to up cycle a hat stand and my clients had asked for a wallmounted TV unit to hide their flats screen.
I started my 3-dimensional mood board on my floor, walking past it, adding to, and taking away.  Until I was ready to spray mount it finally onto mounting board. 
The living room floor becomes a 3-D mood board.  Magazine tear outs, tiles, fruit bowls, fabrics, ceramics.

My mood board showing one side of the room.
Mood board, not completed, for the fireplace wall.
My ideas for the up cycle.  A feature light fitting was in my brief so I decided to make a feature chandelier from the hat stand.  The centre pole I used as one of my curtain poles.

Working sketch to show how I planned to construct the light fitting.
Working sketch for TV unit. With fold back concertina doors on piano hinges.
My house was in a complete state of renovation.  The living room was the only one that was plastered.

Some furniture pieces that I could use in the design.

My work space.  Thankfully it was a very hot week in Welwyn Garden City.

Lots of colour and cloth.

Drying room at night and workspace during the day.

Finished room fireplace view.

Finished room, feature wall view.  This is how it should have looked, but didn't, as I forgot to add the orange cushions back into the room! I need to let it go...

Feature cushion in my clients favourite textile designers print.  Made from a tea towel into a cushion.

Wooden mantle and bright yellow flower freshly picked from the garden.

The workings of the TV unit and gold hinges coming through.

Finally I get to put my feet up for 5 minutes. 

I extended my visit to London and got to hang with my best friend Heather, my cousin Lynne and my sister Pauline,  my niece and nephew and brother in law.  The week was 4 days of work, and 4 days of play!

 On air! 

My camera woman Zoe made me feel at ease in front of a camera.  It was great learning about her side of the job.  I think I look as though I have beaded pigtails here!

Inspirational colour and texture details in my living room.  Old button cards with subtle chalky colours.  Stripy pebbles and stones from Achill Island on the West Coast of Ireland.  Wooden pencils and ceramics.
On the show I was dyeing fabrics with Camomile tea from Belfast's own tea company Suki Tea.  The colour achieved was the softer yellow shades on the sofa cushions. 
It was a very sunny June day when we filmed in Belfast.  I love the light hitting all the textures in my room.  I definitely feel very much at home in this room.

Bushmills Whiskey from the North Coast, hand rolled leather roses, candlelight, and an old wardrobe door with gorgeous bevelled oval mirror rests on top of the mantel.  These are a few of my favourite things.

At work in my sewing room which used to be my spare bedroom.  Dad made the shelf above the mirror and added the big light for me.  Here I am making a wedding dress for my friend Claire. 
Click Click here to see the show in full! Available for 29 days from the 6th November.   

Home Grown Talent from Belfast

Award winning Suki Tea.  Business brewed in Belfast.
Here is the dress on the big day!  I loved the happiness of the yellow and it influenced my room in the show.  Claire is a very creative gal and her business is called Tee and Toast full of bright colours.  She also sells in sunny Australia
Image by Jay Doherty photography.

St Georges Market, Belfast. 2014 Winner of the UK Best Indoor Market. Open Fri, Sat and Sunday. Where you will find Tee and Toast and Suki Tea among many other creative. I used to also have a stand here on a Saturday selling my creations.

Image by Jude Malone Creative.
Natural dyed silk scarves with printed silk edging detail.  And the N.I potato sack that I made into a cushion, this was seen on the show..


A lovely thank you card signed by Tom, Daniel and Sophie. 

A wonderful experience, Thank you!!
Best of Irish luck to my fellow competitors Rich and to Luke for their futures ahead!
Follow Rich on TWITTER @HolsterandCycle
Follow Luke on TWITTER @LukeArthurWells
Christine x 


Thursday, 6 November 2014

My Wee House

Tonight my wee house will be on TV, and its getting all excited!! My sister Linda is hosting a GIDC night in front of the telly...we will be glued to the box, and counting the times I say 'Like you know', 'Yer man the builder' and other Northern Irish phrases. 

My wee house is not a stranger to fame as 9 years ago, when I bought it, the previous owner Lesley had it featured in HOUSE BEAUTIFUL magazine, back in October 2005. 

I fell in love with the sleeper above the fire and the light that came in through the back window. Within 2 days it was sale agreed!  Lesley had 'done the place up great' and I didn't think I would change a thing.  But over time, every room has been changed, at least twice!!

Here are some photographs before I moved in.  Lesley believed if there was a surface to paint, it had to be painted.  I believe in the natural beauty of wood, stone, metal and so there was a lot of paint stripper bought!  Quite often I would be as high as a kite on the fumes of Nitromors.

3 up, 3 down.

Open plan living room into dining room.

View of the dining room and living room, and wine in the kitchen!

Kitchen and view from dining room into the kitchen.

The main bedroom

The bathroom and spare bedroom.

My dad is brilliant at DIY and he was always lining the walls, wallpapering, matching up the wallpapers, and teaching me how to get a straight line with a plumline.  He has been so amazing helping me out, building shelves for me, amongst many other things. 

My mum is very creative, and her talents are in knitting, crocheting, sewing, flower arranging and all together a great homemaker.  She has crocheted beautiful throws for the cold nights on the sofa.  Its from mum that I learnt about sewing and knitting.  I just haven't mastered the art of crochet yet! 

I think mum and dad deserve their own blog post!

My house has evolved so much over the 9 years, as I have.  At the start of 2014 I decided to do a lot of clearing out, selling 'things' and making space to breath.  It was all becoming very cluttered.  My spaces tend to change all the time, they all are 'living rooms'.  Its an evolving process.

Next July I will be in my house 10 years. I like to work in decades. I had said in January to my friends and family that I couldn't do any more to this house, that I needed a new project.  Then the call came for Great Interior Design Challenge.  Then came Achill, then came other adventures.  My friend Hilary then let me know that the number 9 is the number of completion and fulfilment.

I love the Beatles music, just maybe not this one. 

Back in 1995, I wrote some ideas and dreams for my 'Ideal House'.  I found this a few years ago and without realising it, a few of these ideas are what I had put in place.  Albeit in a red brick terrace in East Belfast and not in the West Coast of Ireland!

My dream house, interior and exterior.  That's the artist and textile studio to the right, which doubles as somewhere for my visiting friends and family to lay their heads.

Back to reality...

Here's some pictures of my house although it has changed again since these were taken!

A very cosy, if not slightly overcrowded living room, full of textures and cushions!  It is now a little less cluttered.

Dining room curtain is a parachute from 1965

Retro sideboard £25 Belfast charity shop.  The chairs have been removed from the wall and it now becomes a memory and inspiration wall.

The laminate flooring was ruined when I moved in as the stopcock hadn't been tightened when the previous washing machine was removed.

The quotes were painted on the wall way before the shelves were up.  The kitchen has since changed again!

Sisal carpet and then 9 layers of paint and varnish came off the staircase!

A very small space to be on your hands and knees making a mosaic!

My room, I always wanted a white room.  The last room to have the carpet lifted and I discovered painted white floorboards underneath which I sanded down.

The spare bedroom back in 2006.  Still with sisal flooring.

The spare bedroom became by dedicated sewing room in January.  The carpet was lifted and sanded and varnished.

I will post a detailed DIY and decoration for each room in a series of blog posts coming soon.  It never stops changing!

Till next time, Enjoy the GIDC show!! And remember...I forgot to add the orange cushions!!

Christine x