Earlier in the year I published a few posts concerning a significant reshuffle of our home layout; ultimately leading to us creating a kitchen/diner at the opposite end of our garden flat (the existing kitchen then being converted to a bedroom/nursery for our new edition ‘Beatrice’). The summer months yielded hardly any progress thanks to unreliable tradesmen. By September, in a fit of frustration we changed contractors and have watched things progress at rapid speed since then.
The flat sits within a large 1860s property, but with the new project we have completely disregarded all rules of period correctness and have heavily indulged our interwar design fantasies.
The room is a very generous space, but is not without its problems. The walls were a mixture of bare brick and crumbling plaster, with numerous steel pipe brackets seemly growing like grass out of the walls. The original Victorian terracotta tile floor (which runs throughout most of the flat) was very dirty and poorly repaired with concrete in places. The high ceilings gave little heat or acoustic insulation from the heavy footed residents upstairs, and there was little to no natural light.
To counteract these we fitted a false ceiling crammed with rockwool, batton and boarded all the walls, knocked out a bricked up window and fitted a double glazed sash, and gave the floor some much needed TLC repairing the damaged sections with coloured cement and buffing the whole thing. All wiring and pipework has neatly been hidden behind the new walls and ceiling.
After much searching and deliberation I had to abandon my hunt for lights that mimic those in the Cafe Zedel (see my previous blog) and do the obvious thing, ship a bunch of matching reproduction light fittings from Australia! I would have loved to use original period fittings, but finding items that matched in our chosen chrome scheme was near impossible. So in one of the most extravagant & indulgent purchases I’ve ever made I found myself placing an order for some beautiful wares at Restoration Online. A three branch chandelier, large pendant and two wall lights from the Astoria range found themselves heading in my direction, arriving with a nasty customs bill to keep them company. They’ll be mounted on ‘Miami’ roses from Classic Ceiling and should look fantastic.
The kitchen units are on order from DIYkitchens and should arrive early in the new year. We’ve gone for a fairly predictable (but thoroughly appropriate) curved white high gloss ‘Livorna’ range with rusty black quartz worktop and bow handles.
Between now and then I’ve got to paint the room. After dismissing large blocks of green in our original plan as being too imposing we’ve opted for a more radical scheme. Thick bands of white, grey and ‘twisted turquoise’ with a 30mm black line will run from the worktop around the whole space. The turquoise will stay 300mm from the black line, but climb up and over doorways and other features. It’ll test my frogtape abilities to the max, but should hopefully be worth the trouble and strife in the long run.
Earlier in the week I found myself stumbling into the local YMCA shop on the way home from work. I occasionally do the charity shop rounds in the town centre when I’m in the mood. This usually results in a new paperback or the occasional bit of tat for the kids. On entering I had stocking fillers in mind.. but this was quickly put to the back of my mind when my eyes caught sight of this:
It’s a 1934 Stentorian Junior Type 38J ‘for use as a principle speaker’. Despite it’s somewhat disheveled appearance it clearly had to be mine. My wallet was swiftly unearthed from the bottom of my man-bag to close the deal.
What am I going to do with it? It’s still up for debate, but as the amplifier apparently no longer works I’m considering renovating the veneer, replacing the fabric, carefully removing its inners and fitting a bluetooth speaker of some kind. Thus producing an attractive and useful bit of home audio. I’ve dabbled in this line before, creating a cabinet for the sky box out of a 1930 radiogram with pleasing results. For now it will probably reside in the workshop with a couple of other projects I’ll get around to in the New Year.
So the mammoth reorganistion of our home is starting to gather some steam now as we slowly enter the exciting kitchen design phase. The generously proportioned room is nearly empty and ready for work to commence, which means we really need to finalise the layout and start investigating some of the finer details such as lighting.
The room itself is a long dark space, hidden mainly underground with a french doors at one end and one (yet to be reinstated) single pain window. As such, artificial lighting is gonna play an important part in rendering the room a pleasant place to inhabit. Despite the fact it’s a Victorian building, we’ve decided to follow our hearts and create a clean, crisp modernist kitchen with a strong 1930s influence. So where does one start with lighting?
My wife and I recently had the pleasure of a weekend away in the big smoke while the little one enjoyed some quality time with granny. Amongst the action packed itinerary was a meal in the jaw dropping surroundings of Brasserie Zedel, a French Restaurant in Piccadilly. Anyone with even a casual interest in Art Deco needs to put this on their bucket list. Wander through the quaint street level cafe to the stairs at the rear and you’re already picking out exciting details. Wallpaper, mirrors, posters all hint at whats to come. As you descend into the lower hall it becomes clear that this really is a subterranean inter-war wonderland.
‘Bar Americian’ is a sumptuous dimly lit lounge with an aviation theme. Thick ribbons of dark wood veneers are spliced with brass geometric banding that span the whole room. Illuminated column mounted glass discs and innovative bar lighting bathe the room in a warm glow that creates such an intoxicating environment its hard to tear yourself away. But leave we had to, as our table in the adjacent Brasserie was ready..
The restaurant is located in marble clad hall that’s a total contrast to the dreamy atmosphere of the bar. Originally part of the Regent Palace Hotel, it was opened in 1915 exhibiting the ‘opulence and scale of a transatlantic liner’. The ghost of this Edwardian extravagance is still clearly visible today , but in the early 1930s Oliver Percy Bernard was commissioned to redesign the interior of the hotel with a more contemporary feel. The brasserie retains many of these upgrades, giving a perfect blend eras. As I sat at our table drinking in both my surroundings and a splendid glass of Corbières, my eyes kept returning to one thing; the stunning ceiling lights. Huge slabs of opaque glass strapped together in a brass cage, all suspended on four rigid legs. Perfect for a kitchen renovation thought I!
Cursory searches for something in a similar vein didn’t prove all that fruitful. There doesn’t seem to be many ‘off the peg’ large Art Deco ceiling lights available in England.. wonder why?! One rather fetching option I unearthed named the Odeon Plafonnier looked ideal until I inquired about the price (I won’t say how much, but lets just say I burst out laughing on receiving the quote!). Some Chinese manufacturers list fittings that might be ok, but are likely to be of dubious quality. The best option so far is this one from the States.. problem is their mains power runs at 110V, less than half of that in the UK. I need to investigate further, but light fittings are fairly easy to rewire, and priced at about 5% of the Odeon it looks like a strong possibility.