Malmo & Moss House: Adding Hygge to the Living Room

As regular Malmo & Moss blog readers will recall, when we moved into our house 7 years ago one of our first decorating steps was to paint the previously sanitary pad purple front room Farrow & Ball Wimborne White.  However, the white combined with original sash windows that looked great but which were about as energy efficient as a pair of your granny's moth eaten pants, meant that we actually rarely used the room or at least not without our winter coats on.   To up the hygge factor and reduce the freezer aisle at Tesco factor we laid a carpet, got shutters and went over to the dark side (on the walls) to create a cosier space that we actually wanted to spend time in without an electric blanket.  With those changes complete it ceased to be #SittingRoomSiberia' but there was last change I had been hankering after making: installation of a woodburner.  

The sitting room pre woodburner but post sanitary pad purple phase

The sitting room pre woodburner but post sanitary pad purple phase

We had inherited a gas fire when we moved in which, when lit, gave off about as much heat as a mouse's fart and when unlit had fake stones which our toddler was fond of stealing and then throwing around the living room cackling like a contestant at the Highland Games who has drunk too much Iru Bru.

Stones in the fire just waiting for a toddler game of cabertoss

Stones in the fire just waiting for a toddler game of cabertoss

However, just as I had started to throw myself into some serious woodburner research, a slew of headlines hit the Daily Mail which basically suggested that the sole cause of global warming was not cows, energy intensive industries or the rapid growth of the Chinese economy but too many middle class people installing woodburners.  It turned out that the Daily Mail story was not actually 100% accurate.  In fact it was not even 1% accurate and they had needlessly caused the kind of middle class panic that ensues when Waitress runs low on olive oil or pomegranate molasses.  Sadiq Khan had expressed concern about particulate emissions from woodburners in a letter to Michael Gove but not from stoves manufactured in accordance with the latest Ecodesign standards which are designed to destroy a huge amounts of those nasty particulates meaning more of the warmth is emitted to your front room instead of vanishing up the chimney.  So when you are choosing a stove just make sure it is one which complies with the Stove Industry Alliance's "Ecodesign Ready" label and you are all good.  If you want to read more about it all our installers Stoake Ltd have produced a really handy Q&A.

Looks cosy but in reality emitting about as much heat as a mouse's fart

Looks cosy but in reality emitting about as much heat as a mouse's fart

Having reassured myself that my woodburner would not be plunging the Capital back to the Great Smog of 1952, I got to work on the fun stuff, choosing the tiles and stove of my dreams.  My main dilemma was whether to keep the existing marble mantlepiece and go for some statement tiles or replace it with a more rustic looking surround and keep things more au natural in the hearth.  In the end Option 1 won out because I just couldn't get these Grey Santona tiles from Bert & May out of my head  and I wanted to experiment with having a bit of pattern in the house so it was either getting the tiles or getting Mr Malmo to get a huge chest tattoo of them.

The  Bert & May  tiles of my dreams

The Bert & May tiles of my dreams

I wasn't quite sure what installing a woodburner actually involved.  I had visions of Bert from Mary Poppins scampering around on my roof singing chim chimmney chim chim chicheroo as he dropped a flue line down our chimney pot.  Luckily this is where the lovely guys from Stoake Ltd (a local North London business) came in.  The first step in the process was for them to come round a do a site visit and they then followed up quickly with a written quote setting out the installation process and how much each stage and the associated materials would cost. They are able to arrange scaffolding for you or you can do that bit yourself.  We did it ourselves as it worked out a bit cheaper although that meant dealing with a guy who punctuated his conversation with farts rather than commas *Apologies to any more #SophisticatedScaffolders out there*

IMG-20180412-WA0003-02.jpeg

With the scaffolding finally up, the process of removing the existing fire surround, capping the gas supply and rendering and tiling the new opening took just 2 days.  We decided to keep our existing hearth stone to keep the costs down which also saved time.

Stoake at work!

Stoake at work!

Gas fire gone, opening ready for tilng

Gas fire gone, opening ready for tilng

And my  Bert & May Santona  tiles are in. Candles purely for effect zero heat emitted!

And my Bert & May Santona tiles are in. Candles purely for effect zero heat emitted!

20180225_020505.jpg

2 weeks later, just as the Beast from the East blew in, Nigel and team returned to install the stove itself.  By the time I had battled the beast to and from work (which sounds dramatic but in reality just involved me walking to the station in wholly impractical shoes squeaking "gosh it is windy" every now and again) the stove was in.  

Snowy scenes in the suburbs on the day the stove went in

Snowy scenes in the suburbs on the day the stove went in

IMG-20180412-WA0001-01.jpeg
The tiles were covered up to keep them safe during the stove install

The tiles were covered up to keep them safe during the stove install

I chose a Skye stove from Charnwood in a lovely cream colour which is handmade on the Isle of Wight and, in Charnwood's own words is "a new state-of-the-art stove with a remarkably efficient combustion system. It’s innovative burn technology ensures efficiencies of up to 86% and exceeds the new Eco Design standards and Defra exemption limits; allowing wood to be burnt cleanly in smoke control areas". If you have space in your hearth there is also an option to chose a version of the stove which has an integrated log store adding to it's rustic good looks.  Charnwood are a family owned British company and can help you to find a trusted local installer in your area.

I love the contrast of having a cream stove with the dark walls in our living room

I love the contrast of having a cream stove with the dark walls in our living room

20180327_161625-01.jpeg

I am no boy scout (I look terrible in Khaki for starters) so I was a little bit worried that I would struggle with the lighting the fire aspect of having a woodburner.  However, the Skye is honestly so easy to use that it renders Ray Mears completely surplus to requirements.  You literally just assemble a mini pile of kindling wood around a firelighter, strike a match, shut the door and within seconds you will have a blaze ready to chuck a log on.  My biggest challenge now is stopping #chriswaddlecat from blocking out all of the heat by plonking himself in front of the stove whenever it is lit and embarking on an epic clean of his feline nether regions.

20180327_161937-01.jpeg
20180327_161902-01.jpeg

With thanks to Charnwood, Bert & May and Stoake Ltd for partnering with me on this project. 

Malmo & Moss House: Taking our Living Room to the Dark Side

When we moved into the Malmo & Moss house 7 years ago, we inherited a colour scheme with lashings of lilac, the kind of shade favoured by sanitary pad and vaginal wash manufacturers.  Once we had the keys one of our first steps was to de Always Ultra the walls.  As this was 2010 aka 'The Days before Downpipe' going over to the dark side was more likely to be a reference to accidentally crossing the A10 and ending up in Ponders End than applying inky hues to your walls.  So we played it safe and went Wimborne White on the walls in the front room and slipper satin on the floorboards. 

Apologies for the slightly grainy photos, these were taken in the days before my instagram obsession began!

Apologies for the slightly grainy photos, these were taken in the days before my instagram obsession began!

Malmo & Moss Living Room 35.png

Having said sayonara to #SanitaryPadPurple we were intially happy with the newly decorated living room but, after a while, the combination of the white with draughty floorboards and sash windows insulated with cotton wool started to make it feel like quite a cold room.  After we had the rear extension done to create a kitchen/family room, we started to notice we were using the front room about as often as any of the 25 different fitness dvd I have ever bought. 

Malmo & Moss Living Room 36.png
Malmo & Moss Living Room 37.png

Our mission was to find a way to make it warm and cosy whilst retaining the Scandi look I love.  The boringly practical first step was getting a carpet.  In my twenties I was 100% Team Stripped Floorboard but, as time has gone by, I have realised that in some spaces I like to feel a tread between my toes.   Olga at the carpet shop' was desperate to sell us one of those velvet effect carpets favoured by premiership footballers, Russian oligarchs and high end brothels (although obvs have never actually been inside one of those so that is probably a wild sex carpet stereotype) but, much to her chagrin, we went sheep over synthetic and got a loop wool one instead. The next step in upping the warmth was getting rid of the shonky old radiator that was on the wall behind the sofa and replacing it with a vertical one that could actually release heat into the room.  This was an easy project if you ignore the fact that it fell off the wall in the middle of the night initially.

The radiator eyesore although it was a handy spot to balance a cup of tea.

The radiator eyesore although it was a handy spot to balance a cup of tea.

Malmo & Moss Living Room 13.jpeg

We went for a dark grey radiator because the other huge change we decided upon was going over to the dark side with the colour on the walls.  By that point in 2016 we were pretty much the only people in North London not to have a downpipe feature wall.  But when I brought a sample of it home I just couldn't shake the fact that, in our front room, there was a weird green tinge to it.  So we went back to the Farrow & Ball drawing board and ended up going even darker with Railings.  Because Mr Malmo and I possess the cutting in skills of a pair of toddlers let loose in a crayola factory we got the pros in to apply the paint whilst we went away for the weekend.  

Cutting in not completed by the Crayola twins

Cutting in not completed by the Crayola twins

This alcove is one of my favourite parts of the room

This alcove is one of my favourite parts of the room

I was nervous about returning home to see the results, as the last time I had gone over to the dark side was age 13 when I went the full De Niro and died my hair black to play a minor member of the Sharks in West side Story.  Growing up in the North East with a shade of pale skin that is one shade off albino I was perhaps an unusual choice to play as a Puerto Rican and the black hair merely lent me an air of bus station goth instead of hot blooded latino.  Happily this dalliance with the dark side worked out a lot better and we have no #RailingsRegrets.  Everything looked just instantly more dramatic and because we have big Edwardian sash windows we get plenty of light in the room so it never feels gloomy.  Well I say that but my 10 year old niece does refer to it as Auntie B's black front room so maybe it is a little more batcave than I think it is.

Malmo & Moss Living Room 25.jpeg
Malmo & Moss LIving Room 46.jpeg

Having bold walls has made me a little bit bolder about what I put on them too.  Like this giant wall hanging I fell in love with in the home of @sara_lou_c on instagram (watch out for house tour coming to the blog soon).  It seems that I am not the only one to have fallen head over wall hanging heels as Sara has now set up a lovely website selling them called Fern Art & Interiors.  Whilst it had been love at first sight for me I was a little bit concerned that Mr Malmo would not experience the same level of lust but it turns out he is more of a modern bohemian than I gave him credit for as it didn't even come close to setting off his "What the f#uck have you bought now alarm".   He is also a massive fan of the new, stylish magazine storage solution I was sent by Life Of Riley as we were previously a couple of Living Etcs away from being buried under a magazine mountain.

Malmo & Moss Living Rooom 20.jpeg
My rather smart new magazine storage from @mylifeofriley works perfectly with all the other textures

My rather smart new magazine storage from @mylifeofriley works perfectly with all the other textures

Malmo & Moss LIving Room 54.jpeg

The other big change we made was to replace our oldest sofa which was purchased in the Designers Guild sale nearly a decade ago but had never really recovered from the 4 month's Mr Malmo's brother spent sleeping on it when he had just finished Uni.  Not because he was spilling kebabs and bodily fluids on it (although to be fair he might have been age 21) but because our cat weed on it and his possessions everyday until he finally moved out.  It seems that we had some sort of #CatConservative on our hands who had strong views about the young people of today pulling their bootstraps up and going out to work rather than watching repeats of the Brittas Empire on our sofa. Top of my dream sofa shopping list was a dove grey velvet button backed chesterfield until I remembered that we have 3 boys and that owning a velvet sofa was another thing to add to the "maybe in another 15 years time list" along with driving a car that doesn't look like a variety club minibus and going to work without a bad case of #BananaCrotch.  Having come to my senses, we compromised on the Dixie sofa from Loaf in a brushed cotton finish and it is such a comfy sofa.

The Dixie, don't look too closely at my dodgy paint job behind the sofa

The Dixie, don't look too closely at my dodgy paint job behind the sofa

Adding some extra hygge this Autumn with a new throw from  Cox & Cox

Adding some extra hygge this Autumn with a new throw from Cox & Cox

Malmo & Moss Living Room 4.jpg

There are still a few more bits and pieces I would like to do to finish the room off.  The biggest of which is swapping the gas fire for a woodburner #MiddleGlassLifeGoals.  But whilst we save up for that on my more immediate hit list is a new pendant light as I am not sure the chandelier works in here anymore. What do you guys think?  Is it too delicate for the Batcave?

MAlmo & Moss Living Room 47.jpeg

Malmo & Moss Meets: Tania Morris

When I was trying to decide which of my neighbours to feature as a house tour on my blog, my first thought was obviously George, the octogenarian jehovah's witness from number 11 who still has an outside toilet, net curtains and, collected in his backyard, everything made of wood or cardboard that we have left out for recycling over the last 7 years.  Unfortunately George was busy taking his beloved K reg Vauxhall Vectra out for it's annual spin around the block so I was forced to go with Tania and Andrew's place instead,  starting with their gorgeous, sultry Abigail Ahern inspired sitting room.  

Read More