Upon opening the cover of my favourite country style living magazine, which is not only nationwide, but also often includes articles from europe and the USA, my eyes hit upon a property very local to me. I nearly fell off my chair because this particular stately pile has always been talked about in hushed tonesd and with a reverence held normally for very very important people. There has been a general assumption that it was still owned by the slightly aristocratic family who bought it some 300 years ago. But upon loooking at the description of the property – in all its glory over 2 pages of the mag, it would seem that it was sold once before, in the early 2000s. Word has now gone round about this incredible bit of news — the local ‘big house’ up on the market for a smidgen short of £10M. It seems absolutely unbelievable. The write up suggests it has eleven bathrooms and sixteen bedrooms. All sorts of statistics fill the paragraph of ‘what we have to offer’. Oh how I would love to be able to pretend to be a buyer on the look out!
It’s faunny thing the way the brain works. Whenever I think of the very very large scandinavian furniture and household emporium, I automatically think of a modern purpose built apartment or town house. Their starkly practical and modern ethos that means everything has to have a function and more if possible, no frills, just good honest pricing with modern materials, it’s hard to picture some of their plainer pieces in a country house setting. There is something so perfect about the prospect of opening up a gorgeous solid oak front door, to reveal oak tables and chairs, chesterfield sofas and everything from a previous period. There’s no reason why modernist furniture can’t be placed in the same setting though. There are many places where simple lines in an old home look especially effective – highlighting the amount of space and breathing room a large house offers! Their kitchens are fantastic too – and no one replaces and old kitchen with another old one, they are alwayts ultra modern chrome and white!
There is certainly something to be said about keeping the beauty of oak furniture in a house. I stay with various relatives and many of them, it must be said, have the scandi pared back to the minimum look about their decor and furnishings. When I then when I get home, I really appreciate mmy oak – specially in the dining room. A few years ago I invested in a fabulous oak side board – it was modern and one I’d seen in a very upmarket retailer a few years before at a much higher price than my household expenditure could run to. So I was thrilled when visiting my local adhoc furnishing store that sells discontinued lines and saw the very same at a much more appealing price. However, that started a bit of a run and I then changed my scandi dining table for an oak one matching the sideboard and then of course, the chairs needed upgrading too! But I love it all and feel at home as soon as I enter the room.
There does seem to be a natural corrolation with the sound of Country Living and rich antique looking furniture. for some reason my brain fails to make an instant connection between a pretty country cottage and scandinavian minimalism and modern no frills furniture. There’s absolutely no reason why someone wouldn’t want the clean lines and unfussy nature of their rubberwood and new manufactured designs. There is just something that doesn’t sit so comfortably – quite literally. I own several pieces of start modern no frill furniture which we bought as we moved into our very unromantic detached family house. I also own some attractive oak furniture – which does not look even slightly antique. It is a funn o9ld thing how my brain has a definite thought process, dictated entirely upon sterio type thinking and not actually being exposed to the joys of actually enjoying country living. Though it must be said that I do live on the edge of a village – no chocolate box cottages here sadly.
When we leaf through favourite magazines, it can be some years before we realise that actually, we’ve outgrown this one, or that. I found this with one magazine aimed at the established family aged female going up to later years. This is what their marketing blurb suggests but as the years went on, I found the fashion and beauty pages were definitely aimed at the younger crowd – hardly ever was there a wardrobe update for anyone in their later years. Or they may introduce a mature reader, but the clothes chosen always seemed to be inappropriately youthful. The same does not go for country living magazines. They have the eternal beauty and show an optimism that life out in the sticks is going tio remain absolutely right for everyone. I like looking back over the years at how the colour schemes have changed for kitchens and bedrooms. The updated adverts feature similar products – I mean how many kitchens can anyone feature? Just the colours of the cabinets and style of the white goods change. But the essence remains, living in a lovely village or country area is a bit of a priviledge, especially today.
One of the many delights of having relatives who live out in the deepest countryside is having a constant array of different walks literally on the door step. There is an inbuilt ability to enjoy the countryside and everything it has to show us – an inexhaustable supply of enthusiastic walkers to fulfill the dream too. One little village I am closely connected with has a self promoting country farm shop and it does absolutely everything you can imagine. Firstly of course it has a good range of vegetables and fruit for sale. There’s been a farm shop on site decades and over the years it’s expanded to now include cuntry living stylised crockery and kitchenalia as well as furniure, especially oak. here’s also a shabby chic and faux antique furniture outlet. The most recent addition to the group activities has been a fantastic food hall that was attached to the existing veg shop. This emporium is so popular with its own bread ovens, charcutier and an epicure that attracts folk from many miles circumfrence and the atmosphere on a hectic Sunday is wonderful!
It’s a wonderful thing to be able to visit someone who lives in deep countryside. Views of rolling hills from every window, a few groups of trees over the horizon and maybe a lake or two in the immediate garden periphary. There’s one particular house that I have dealings with on a regular basis. It’s atually a Hall, so bigger than a mansion house but not a palace. Each window at the back overlooks the very fine landscaped grounds which are as wide and expansive. Through the coppice of trees to the right there are the tops of pavillions left from the days of tennis and croquet parties in the 1920s. In the actual garden itself, there are now tables and chairs for the tea room customers and aside these is the ‘bullring’. Not what it sounds. It’s in fact a very large circular lawn surrounded by an attractive pebble and gravel drive. Very impressive on Open Days when guests of note are allowed to park around the edge of the lawn – so long as everyone parks in the same direction and doesn’t have an old banger!
When you hear the phrase country living, at first it doesn’t mean very much more than the thought of a nice farm house of some age. Small village surrounding it and some idyllic vision of children being able to run about free as air with the chickens and lambs. These days though the phrase means a great deal more than that. here are whole developments springing up where once green belt land has been released for housing. There are generally strict rules governing any planning applications being granted. New builds have to conform to a particular structure and look as similar in nature to any local village houses so as not to jar on the eye of anyone passing by. The need to maintain suitable properties for village families to buy up and live in though has rather a way to go. The newer development are beautiful but generally out of the reach of he first time buyer but they can dream. In the meantime the country dweller can emerse themselves in the peace and beauty of living amongst farms can bring.
I do have a joy these days of watching the tv programmes that feature auctions or at least valuations of furniture and effects that could be offered for sale at them. There’s something rather sad seeing a family taking their heirlooms to the expert – either we already like the party and have some empathy for them. . Or we’ve found them truly annoying and are quite pleased when the expert questions the provenance of the article, not rediculing it, but gently letting them down with a more likely scenario, whilst hacking several hundred off the anticipated value. If we want to buy antique furniture for ourselves, it is always advisable to do a great eal of research and to buy from reputable dealers and auction houses. The car boot sale and pop up ‘one day only’ sales are always going to be suspect. Stolen items can be disposed of this way – although many of the purloined beauties are stolen to order and shipped abroad immediately, there are outlets for other lucky acquisitions.
Ah the sheer joy of September, after the first full week, that is. The youngster have all started, or gone back to school an the university students are making their final preparations for the ‘off’. There is much more time and space everywhere. The old towns, particularly in the tourist spots, have seen their influx of visitors go back to whence they came; the chip papers and rubbish has been collected and dispersed to the dump. Now these little towns can sit back with a sigh and get on with every day living! I love the mellowness, when I can visit my favourite places – auction houses and genuine antique emporiums. always on the lookout for beautiful quality furniture, wooden accessories and anything with a bit of history to it. I love the smell, the feeling of old age in the second hand and antique shops. Nothing beats that old beeswax smell!