Over the last week both my daughters have been home, we thought my little one had chicken pox and cancelled their time in the centre récré. It was a false alarm, but it meant we spent time together as a family so little decorating work has been done.
So I’m returning to some inspirational dreaming to get me back in the mood for some heavy lifting this week. Here are some breakfast nook areas that I’m inspired by this week. Tell me our favourite.
My main goal next year is to finish our new kitchen at long last. I’ve written about it many times, but we still haven’t finished. Nevertheless when it is finished our plan is to move the dining room to the room that’s beside the kitchen, connected via the small entrance area that I spoke about in yesterday’s post.
I love chinoiserie and thought about how I could get the look in the hallway, bedrooms and now I’m thinking of the dining room.
Chinoiserie is expensive, so the only way we can realistically afford this look is if I hand painted it with the help of stencils. I’ll, of course, share here when I do it. However in the meantime you can click on this link to see my last attempt at painting birds with a stencil like tool.
Now to the chinoiserie.
Which is a way of painting in shades of grey, as the name suggests. I love it, but I don’t think I’d ever be able to manage it myself. Here are some of the images that make me want to blow the budget though.
As I said in this post I’m grateful for the chance to slow down on the decorating front and take it a little easier over Christmas. The trouble is when you’re minds been full of something for weeks on end then it’s difficult to switch off isn’t it?
This year, just like last, I had silly expectations of what it is I wanted to achieve by Christmas. As the saying goes, it means I might not reach the moon, but I do reach the stars. Lovely. Yet you don’t get to enjoy the celestial view when you’re exhausted!
With that in mind I have targets I want to achieve by this time next year – but whether I achieve them or not, by Autumn I’m going to take my foot of the gas decorating wise and approach Christmas time differently. Sidenote; hit subscribe because knowing me this paragraph will not age well 😂.
With all this in mind I’ve decided to set myself twelve decorating goals. Some of them are relatively small and some are big and will take a lot of time. Many of the small ones will run consecutively with these larger projects, so they can be finished by November when I hang up my tool bag.
With this in mind I’m doing these twelve days of Christmas posts to inspire me, and hopefully you, for the work ahead.
This first post on bookcases and reading areas encompasses two goals; the bookcase that I want to build in the living room that I spoke about in this post on my American style French Country updates. The latter half of the post will focus on future projects, namely the long hallway on the first floor landing and the reading area I would like to create in the attic.
The last may not be done for a couple of years yet, but it’s good to mull things over.
So, firstly to the living room and the bookcase I want to build this year.
4 How to’s
I love the price and style of these; especially the last one as it shows you how to add library lights and incorporate your speaker system.
Well those were examples of how I planned to do the bookcase, but I thought I’d share some inspiring bookcases for corridors as we have one going from the ‘family’ side of the house towards our guest rooms on the other side.
Landings and Attics
This project is waaaay in the future, but we have an attic with an incredibly high ceiling and lots of space. It has a tall central window and the layout would mean that there would be a large landing area. So I’ve often thought that we could do it up to have additional guest rooms in the future and the landing would lend itself to a great reading area.
As the roof is so high the small room that’s already up there has a false ceiling. It makes sense to continue doing this when we create the additional bedrooms to make them easier to heat. So I was thinking that a split level area on one side of the space might be cool; the other side would be used for additional storage.
Fireplaces make a wonderful focal point in a room; instantly catching your eyes to fix on a place and therefore drawing you in, giving you a sense of welcome.
I really don’t like the one we have though; it’s corner position makes it hard to decorate and it’s chunky structure is at odds with the rest of the house design (you can see it in the first image below).
Added to that the flu is too small as it’s not an original part of the house, but one that’s been created. You can’t light a fire there as a result – the man who came to clean the chimney told me it was dangerous and only small fires could be lit there!
So as I consider what I want to do with a fireplace this and the following points are thing I’m considering.
There are two chimneys that are built into the walls. One is in the room that we now use as a dining room ( so we won’t be using this) and the other is in the corner of one half of the living room – facing the current constructed one. I don’t know why they’ve added this extra fireplace; perhaps because they wanted to keep the bi-fold doors that are there, perhaps because the current fire location is more central to the room. However the original positioning of the two fireplaces would have Ade sense in this pre 1850s house where central heating originally didn’t exist.
However this second fireplace itself poses a problem. If a fire was lit there you couldn’t see it throughout the room, at least in the additional sun room, and it isn’t central to the original room either, as it’s in an awkward corner.
Therefore there are two key points I want to ensure are present when we go ahead with a new fireplace;
it can be seen throughout the room, preferably from the dining room too – this may be tricky as the room is more of an L shape in the living area,
I want to combine both the traditional, period decor elements of the rest of the house with the more modern living room elements.
With that in mind I came up with this list of options and inspiring images to help me on my way; maybe they’ll help you on your way more.
Current Position – Inset Fireplace
The current position could, in theory, be relatively easily be fitted with an inset fireplace. However as you can see in the image above (that’s a vintage woodturner with some fairy lights in it, not an actual fire) the current, square shape doesn’t actually go to the wall edge. It would therefore have to be extended.
In addition there’s that small flu – so perhaps it wouldn’t be safe enough for an inset fire which give off a lot of heat due to the fact they’re so efficient.
If it is possible I’m thinking along the lines of these simple, classic designs that aren’t so modern they jar with the dining room decor…
l like how this modern design has this glossy, tile effect on the chimney casing. Not only could I have an Art Deco style tile pattern – giving the room the air of going from one period era to another – it would be away of mellowing that chunky, angular affect of the current design.
The only downside would be there is not mantle – what to do at Christmas????
A final, inspiring image I found in this series is this corner, inset fireplace with a mantle…
Mantle…check, adaptable design…check…can be seen throughout the room….
Here’s my problem. You can in theory see this fire throughout the room, but the right hand glass with be flat against the wall. So you’ll only just be able to see it in our summer room when you’re sat on the main sofa.
The “summer room” is just an extension with large windows in it, I’m calling it a summer room to differentiate it from the period part of the house. We use the room all year round though.
We won’t light the fire that often, it will be just for when the heating breaks down or special occasions like Christmas. As it will be a treat I want to be able to get the most out of it, if you have a cosy fire going you really want to be able to see it after all, and as a result this option is unsatisfactory on all levels.
Summer room, corner fireplace
Did you know you can put a woodburner in a conservatory? (Find some information on that here).
In order to see the fire through the length of the room I’m considering this as an option. Our summer room doesn’t have so much glazing, and there are only stone walls on the side wall and left hand corner. As a result we’d have to have a corner fireplace. A woodburner would be the obvious choice….
The alternative is an inset fireplace like this one…
I love this option below, but for many reasons that I don’t want to bore you with, it wouldn’t suit our home. I put it in here so that it may give you an idea that you hadn’t had before (if it does and you are able to do it, FYI, I’m jealous).
Positioned beside the entrance doorway
Exploring the house I’ve found integral chimneys. In France chimney breasts are encased in thick walls most of the time, unlike the UK where they tend to jut out of thinner walls. In this picture below of the central part of the area you can see a radiator. On the other side of the wall is the old chimney breast that now houses the heating system, which has a flu going up through it.
However the boiler doesn’t take up the entire chimney breast, so it is a possibility to remove the current radiator and put a woodbrner there, with a flu going into the chimney using the spare space. It could look something like this directly next to the door..
Or this ivory version..
However that would take a lot of plumbing work and may well need the disruption of our tiled floor.
A Fireplace on the back wall
The other hidden chimney beast is on the opposing back wall seen below…
The difficulty with this is the positioning is very close to the bi fold doors which separate the living area from the formal dining area, effectively splitting the entire space in three. It is not central to the wall itself, but takes up the left side of the wall. In effect it starts in the middle of the painting and ends where the diving wall just out. So I wouldn’t so much have an option like this…
I’m uncertain if I had a woodburner if I could reposition it to the centre with an angled flu pipe (an open fire certainly wouldn’t be suitable so close to the doors). In any case, with the L shaped layout you couldn’t see it throughout the room.
Central Corner Fireplace
We could remove one of the central doors and then have a corner fireplace, which could be done one of two ways. By placing a woodburner in the corner…
Or a traditional option of an inset fireplace like this…
Do you get the impression I was seriously thinking of this as an option? Yes, there are a lot of images!
Double sided, room divider
Another way to ensure that all the room can see the fire is it have the fire as a room divider like these to the side, with the flu being directed into the existing chimney.
Both are more modern options. Alternatively we could go for either modern or traditional elements but in a central fireplace by removing two of our four bi fold doors, and putting in a chimney breast to house either an integrated fire or woodburner. All these would require a flu which would have to go up to our bedroom skimming the wall and into the loft through the roof. However, even though this sounds intense, the ammount of work involved will be at least comparable to all the other options.
This is what I found..
The first option is a little too rustic for me, and the second too modern, but the third (in the words of Goldilocks) is just right. If you look at this comparable final image, my favourite, you can see how it would look with doors either side too….
As with some of the options above it is double sided, so you could see the fire from the dining room as well as every other area in this oddly shaped room. With an inset you could turn the fire down when you wanted to eat and therefore remain comfortable too. I love this classic look, which can easily combine both decor styles. I could have a more elaborate style on the dining room side, with cleaner lines like the one above on the more modern, living side.