The lovely thing I like about living beyond the town is being able to visit old properties within easy walking distance. The old rectory is up the road and this house dates back to the 1640s in parts. It has the most fantastic atmosphere when you get inside the back kitchen. Firstly the floor is still just impacted earth, that’s been there under matting for hundreds of years. It’s so fantastic to imagine just how many pairs of feet have trodden over it. All th history that has made its mark on the walls and surfaces. The cooking range is quite old and was slotted in the alcove where an original fire pit had been, the range needed a chimney which was already there. There are bread ovens either side of this alcove, cast iron oven doors open up in the wall and are an interesting feature. The larder is off to the side and has quarry tiles that stay seriously cold and this is reflected in the marble shelving – 3 deep sheets of spacious food storage! Then add the gorgeous table and chairs that match the dresser on which the chinawear is displayed. Wooh and fabulous space for we mortals to sit imbibing coffee occationally.
I love being invited into someone’s home when they still have the old family pieces of furniture, especially when there has been grandma’s level of care attached to them. The modern way of thinking includes such instruction as dusting off each piece with eithr a dry lint free duster or very soft brush to remove loose dust from all surfaces. Sometimes it will be necessary to carefully reach the out of the way places with a vacum cleaner brush attachment. You have to take care not to knock the corners or cornices. Next dilute some mild washing up liquid and rinse out a cleaning cloth in it, wringing it out very well so it is barely damp. Must not be more damp as that will ruin the furniture. A very gentle wipe over grain of the surface to remove dirt, will be all that’s needed. Dry off thoughourly with another soft dry cloth. it is critical not to wet the surface, if your cloth is too damp, take steps to blot it dry with copious cloths.
There’s been a fascinating series on mainstream tv by an ex politician who is now a traveller and very decent presenter of interesting facts. He carries a well known rail gujide from the last century – depending on location. His travelogues have become more and more popular – not only is he an engaging personality, but they find interesting folk to chat to in each of the locations filmed. I have seen fantastic historical pieces about early English and European settlers in the States – the stories of racial and ethnic cleansing are humiliating and true, sadly. However, as there’s nothing we can do about our sordid past now, I feel it best to capture the essence of the programmes and enjoy what each person wishes to show me! Fantastic arrays of early furniture are usually the mainstay, and the earliest working machinery. The furniture is so lovingly cherished, moreso in the States and Canada it would seem.
Does anybody else assume you have to live out in the country in a massive mansion or huge cottage before we can begin to take an interest in antiques. I have a slight advantage here in that I volunteered as a room steward at just such a property. I live in an area where there are many properties dating back to the English civil war and before. Admittedly they are all just up the road from the most famous civil war battle ground, which suggests much support for the winning side at the time. The furnitue in the house I know does not all fall into the ‘family antique herloom’ category and is in fact made up of odd buys from other country house sales. At one time the house was livedin by a very famous inerior decorating socialite who came over from the US with her husband and wanted to buy theur way into the very top tie of society. Leasing this housde and filling it with ‘appropriate’ aged furnishings enabled her to look the part and buy into society she certainly did.
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!