Friday, April 25, 2008

Our new living room

Here it is, our new living room as designed by Elizabeth Hothi at Laura Ashley design services. I was a bit worried as I was very brave and went for red, a colour I have never used in decorating before – but I am really pleased with the results. We already had the coffee table in the centre of the room, the painting over the mantelpiece, the bookshelf behind the chair and the piano, which is one of our favourite pieces of furniture.

When Alex started piano lessons at age 7 we looked everywhere for a piano but I found all the ones we looked at to be quite soulless, particularly the very modern ones. We were finally referred to Eric Reynolds Piano Workshop in Burton-on-Trent. If you walk through their modern showroom, you eventually come upon a lovely room at the back full of old, refurbished pianos. As we wandered through the workshop, we saw several beautiful examples of pianos with soul, from the baby grand piano built in 1899 to the piano in the corner that kept catching our eye. It was all inlaid walnut and so old you could see where the candlesticks used to be installed on the front of it. The gentleman who had refurbished it (then aged ninety!) explained that the piano had arrived at their workshops painted completely black as the owners had wanted to make it look more modern. He had begun by getting rid of the black paint, and discovered the beautiful walnut beneath. He dated the piano as late Victorian or Edwardian, sometime around 1899 to 1901. I have never had anything ever speak to me as that piano did. I could visualise it, candles aglow at the centre of a large group of people dressed in their best, all standing around singing sometime in the early part of the last century. I had to have it. I thought perhaps I was being a tad over-romantic but one look at Guy and Alex confirmed I was not the only one. We all fell in love with our piano, and bought it on the spot. It’s been with us ever since and I cannot imagine ever parting with it.

As for the painting over the mantelpiece, that belonged to my Grandmother. I’m told she bought it on impulse, loving it on sight because the old man looked so kindly. Because of his red hat, both my Mom and I grew up thinking he was Santa Claus, but inspection with a more mature eye shows an old sailor looking back at you. I’ve always been terribly fond of the painting, and used to always go and see it last thing before we left my parent’s house whenever we went to visit them. About ten years ago Mom and Dad sent the old man over with a shipment of family furniture for me and he has been one of my most precious possessions ever since. He looks good in the new living room, the red really brings out the colour in his hat and cravat. I did not plan to put him in there, he just kind of found his way one night when we were wandering round with paintings and photographs wondering where to hang them. It wasn’t until today when the furniture arrived that I realised just how good he would look!

Inspired by our lovely new living room, today Guy and I tackled the study. We moved the furniture all around and finally began to get thing sorted out. I know it sounds weird, but the room actually feels “lighter” now we have done it. It was like all the upset and sorrow over Mom and Dad had taken up residence in the room (along with all their paperwork!) and was literally sucking the energy out. Now it feels lighter, brighter and much prettier. It is not quite finished yet so no pictures! But we are definitely getting there.

There may still be boxes and suitcases, and we still have a long way to go before it is all organised and gorgeous, but it despite that, our house is beginning to feel like home. And after everything we have been through since last June, it really is lovely to finally be home.

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