painted cupboard

There’s a cupboard in the cottage bathroom that has been bothering me for a long time. In theory I really like cupboards with some colour inside. While I have a beloved red lamp and many red linens in the kitchen, I found this particular shade quite shocking each time I opened the cupboard. It seemed there wasn’t much point putting things away in an organised manner, since it still looked dreadful to me because of the colour.

I can’t even show you, it is so glaring. You can picture it, yes?

I prefer pale, desaturated shades in the house for the most part. I do love the colourful cupboard that we keep our art materials in, and I love using bright patterns in the bunting and quilting for the children’s room. My stash of fabric and yarn bring a lot of colour into my studio. But this dark red had to go.

cupboard © elisa rathje 2011

Several coats of white later, I feel much better. Such a relief.

cupboard © elisa rathje 2011

Now it’s a pleasure to put things away, and I edited our things while I was at it, so there’s really not very much to organise. I can see what’s there and it all has a home. Much brighter. It’s a pleasure to open that painted cupboard now.

deck chair

Dating from the mid-1800’s and made popular on steamers and cruise ships, the deck chair evokes the quintessential English seaside. I’ve been fancying this one and that one spotted in London, so I was delighted to encounter the little Vancouver furniture company, Gallant & Jones, who make incredibly beautiful, ecologically responsible versions by hand. When my lovely friend, photographer Janis Nicolay invited me to tag along on a photo shoot featuring Gallant & Jones‘ latest handmade beauties, I was unabashedly keen.


As you can see it took little more than a bowl of cherries to entice me to the other side of the camera. I had the pleasure of joining a merry picnic with my photographer friend, one half of Gallant & Jones, Gwyn, and Tanis of Bao Bei.

©Janis Nicolay

©Janis Nicolay

©Janis Nicolay

Ah, the deck chair. Somehow it is understated and glamorous at once. Easily stored, simply constructed, a design elaborated by infinite variety in prints and fabrics, and perfectly comfortable. A brief history affirms its enduring charm.

©Janis Nicolay

Do look out for Gallant & Jones‘ gorgeous chairs. I will envy you. Thanks Janis for the delightful photographs. You can find more from Janis Nicolay at her fabulous Pinecone Camp and more about our day over at Poppytalk. Janis and I are up to further mischief of an extraordinarily exciting delicious type together tomorrow, I’m bursting to tell you. Soon!

demi lune revisit

Remember the demi lune table that I was refinishing? I polished it up today.


The children were bemused by the distressed look. What they don’t realise is that not only does it give the piece fascinating texture and depth, any further scratching and wearing can only improve its character. Which is ideal for living with children, truly.

I’m very pleased with the chalky old white with a beeswax finish, it brightens the place even on the darkest days, of which we’ve had many. It’s doing just that this evening.

demi lune table

I admit to coveting a demi lune table for quite some time. There’s something about how elegantly they fit into a space, and how easily people move around them, that I adore. Half moon. I’m delighted not only to have found a wonderful Edwardian one, but to have a little entry hall to put it in. A good entrance is a huge blessing, especially in the muddy countryside with children. Somehow having enough space to arrive and depart changes the way our days go. It’s hard enough to get out the door sometimes!


So this little table is another work in progress, as it awaits a coat of chalk paint. I took an inspiring workshop on painting furniture last year and I’m eager to get started. (Don’t curse me if you love the dark wood as it is!) I’m going to try a French grey undercoat with an antique white over it, unless we love the grey and stop right there. Then a bit of beeswax. I’ve heard whisperings that other furniture may arrive soon, it’s very exciting. We’ve been patiently awaiting a dining table & chairs, I’m feeling a bit off-kilter without them. Tremendous anticipation.


Have a lovely weekend! See you next week with the first of the River Cottage tried & trues.

wood stove

Oh dear, our tall one has joined the small one in being ill. The weather has become very cold. Pipe-bursting cold. Gather-more-wood-in wintry cold. I made a crumble for breakfast, and later a slow-cooked stew, on one of our two wood stoves, starting them on the gas hob first.


I was delighted to learn from a good friend that the circles in the top of it are covers that can be removed, and a pot settled in to cook directly over the fire.


The seasoned wood came from a tree surgeon in the neighbourhood, and we’re learning how to store it, how to build a good fire, where the best kindling can be found around our house. We love to sit around the fire; with the children ill today it was good to have tea there, to knit and to read to them. I find something intrinsically pleasing about this immediate connection with fuel and warmth.


Of course, sitting round the fire on an antique trunk isn’t quite as comfortable as on an antique sofa, which we’re anticipating the arrival of. We’ve been hunting for beautiful, old, solid furniture and have a couple of antique pieces on their way. One of them is due very late tonight, I’m not entirely sure why, but then we’re just getting used to the way country life works. Next is the search for a sturdy old copper kettle to sit on the stove to keep us with plenty of hot water for tea, and save the energy of firing up the electric kettle off and on all day long. Soon we’ll have a table and chairs, and it will be a pleasure to eat, draw, study, and visit round a table again, not far from our trusty wood stove all winter.