I said I’d come back to you with more about my side-hustle, sneakily mentioned last summer and not referred to since. It has been a bit crazy on the house front and so I didn’t really know where to start: then Christmas happened and then the latest lockdown and so we find ourselves in February with a lot of catching up to do.
The exciting project that I’ve had on the down-low is a new renovation project, a little seaside holiday cottage in Dorset that I bought as an investment last summer. Just as a bit of background, I’ve been working on this holiday cottage idea, obsessively, for around five years but it has never been the right time to take the final leap and buy somewhere. I had found places over the years, but they had always been a little bit too far away for me to keep my eye on them, or they needed too much work, or they looked generally just too high maintenance for my current time-poor, young-kids situation .
Anyway, to cut a long story short, a cottage came up that was pretty much perfect, apart from not having any real kitchen, or heating, or phone line, or internet, and apart from the fact it needed some walls knocking about and a new bathroom and all new glazing and new floors, and I thought: THIS SEEMS LIKE A BRILLIANT IDEA!
So here we are, about to embark on a cottage reno. It actually feels easier than any other work we’ve done – I’m relatively detached from it because it’s not a home, it’s a business – but who knows what will happen as time goes on? We’ve already made quite a good start, but things have obviously been delayed because of lockdown, so once we get going properly there will be loads to write and talk about.
And I’m really excited for it to be done and for people to start staying there, because the location is so good. It’s completely off the beaten track, down a footpath that then leads down to the most beautiful beach that’s quite wild and wonderfully undeveloped. It was the location that got me, really…
…which brings me onto the other huge change: we actually moved house too! Just before Christmas. I think a lot of friends and family now firmly have us down in their address books as “the couple who have lost the plot”, but those who managed to see the new place before lockdown get why we did it. The views are incredible and we’re in a location that we didn’t ever think would come up, not in our lifetime at any rate. But we’ve managed to land ourselves another great big renovation project with the panoramic landscapes. I feel massively excited about that, or desperately stressed, depending which day of the week you ask me. I had completely forgotten that Mr AMR and I seem to have to disagree on absolutely everything for at least a month before finally listening to each other and realising that we actually want the same thing after all. It’s a process.
Our house is a completely different kettle of fish to the last house; it was built in the seventies onto a hill and has huge expanses of glazing and split levels and the whole house is surrounded by lush gardens, all you can hear is the sound of the brook and the singing birds. It’s quite a change going from the elegance and fine detail of a Georgian house to the simplicity of a modernist one, but then we always had mid-century places before so I suppose we must just be drawn to them!
So yeah: two renovations to think about and I think that they will probably overlap a little, which could be fun. Crazy-face emoji. Make sure you’re following on @casacrilly Instagram page for updates, just in case this lot of building work kills me off and it’s the last of my home content forever. I also have a Pinterest board, if you’re into that sort of thing – it was never really meant for public consumption, but it gives you a good idea of where I’m heading with things: Casa Crilly Pinterest.
Kind of bad timing, all of this, seeing as though we’re in a lockdown again, but I’m spending a lot of time planning and writing lists and annoying Charlie the Builder with my ever-changing plans. I think he probably rues the day he met me! He should set up a club with Mr AMR, hahahaha…..
I interrupt the gift guide frenzy to bring you some videos that have somehow slipped the net, here on A Model Recommends. Firstly, this house update and then – perhaps tomorrow if I get a move on – a rambling makeup try-on with a fancy new red lipstick and a chat about Gold Digger.
Please tell me you’ve been watching BBC’S Gold Digger? There’s much I feel I need to discuss with you! I tell you what, I’ll give you a head start now so that you can watch the first episode before my next post – then we can chat about it next time. You’ll definitely have something to say.
Though I’m wary about recommending it as Mr AMR only gave it a four out of ten and felt quite cross that his time had been wasted – I found it utterly ridiculous in many places but enjoyed it immensely.
Anyway, back to the house update: Cinematic Views and a Mouse’s Back. Not an actual mouse’s back; it’s a Farrow & Ball paint shade. Very descriptive. There’ll be a longer post soon with all of the house shenanigans, this is just to keep you all going…
A great decorating book to feast upon, if you’re something of an interiors aficionado; Farrow & Ball’s Recipes for Decorating* by Joa Studholme. It’s an absolute visual delight. Whether you’re a serial re-painter who loves to experiment with colour or a confused starter with no idea how to pick a more flattering shade for the living room (me), it has both practical advice (how to work with the type of light you have, how to complement your architecture) and pure, unadulterated pictorial eye candy. Pages and pages of painted walls in modern houses, in creaky manors, in cosy attics and open spaces.
I should actually pop my hand up here and say that if all of that sounds like your idea of heaven then you need to make sure you’ve already done the first book from Farrow & Ball, which is called How To Decorate*. Again, educational elements sit alongside a total visual bombardment of decorating loveliness, so you can either read it cover to cover, absorbing every word (me) or dip in and out over a cup of nighttime cocoa for months afterwards, ruminating over future projects in the same way you might look to recipe books for a casual appetite whetter (also me).
How To Decorate (I bought mine here*) starts at the very, very beginning – looking at the direction your light comes from into a room, the size of a room, what you’re going to be using a room for – and gently suggests reasons for choosing certain paint shades and finishes. Although it’s very obviously the best possible advert for Farrow & Ball’s own paint range, you don’t really notice that – or, in my case, I don’t really care. Anyone who can impart such good advice in such an engaging way can take my money, quite frankly. But the decorating style advice could feasibly apply to any paint or wallpaper brand so long as you’re willing to ignore F&B’s warnings about pigment and quality and depth of colour.
Recipes for Decorating takes things a step further with proper in-depth case studies in real houses, looking at the way the paint shades change in different light, how they work with architectural features and so on. At the end of each case study there’s a recipe card with all of the shades noted down – and you can see really clearly here how different paints can look when used in practice.
There’s also a brief section on how to be your own colour curator – the colour curation is a service F&B offer to all customers, where a curator comes to your house and helps you to pick paints. Basically. I treated myself to this last week and it was excellent – it’s £195, but you get a £50 voucher to spend on paint so I’m calling it £145.
And it was so helpful – my curator, Jill, just knew all of the shades inside out and how they would look in each room so it made the decision-making process so much quicker and easier. I’m going to do a full review on the service, so if you have any specific questions then let me know – I wanted to get this post out first because it has been sitting in my drafts folder for months, waiting for images!
So: wonderfully curated book of house p*rn + practical decorating advice = book worth having. Find it online here*, it’s currently £15.94, which also makes it prime Christmas gift-giving fodder if it’s not too early to mention the C-word…