Malmo & Moss House: Making Over the Spare Room

Shall we really go hard at it in the spare room on Saturday night would, in my twenties, have been an offer to Mr Malmo that included matching lingerie, Marvin Gaye and massage oil. Three kids in he knows that these days it is much more like to involve removing my knickers from the drying rack that is semi permanently erected in there, hearing through the grapevine instructions to rationalise the underbed storage drawers and massaging shampoo into the carpet to try and remove evidence of a #babysudocreamrampage.  When we moved into the Malmo & Moss House 7 years ago we started by turning this room into my eldest son's nursery. Because we didn't get the keys until 3 weeks before he was born, my husband had to pretty much carry out that transformation solo, heroically wallpapering up a ladder at 2am.  Although, if I am honest, even if i didn't have a 7 pound baby eager to get out of my clunge I would probably have still just stood around decoratively holding a wallpaper brush.   

With the boys moved into new bunk quarters, the spare room became ripe for redevelopment!

With the boys moved into new bunk quarters, the spare room became ripe for redevelopment!

When we knew baby number three was on the way we decided to move the two older boys into what was then bigger spare room with this room, after a lick of Cornforth White (has a more middle class phrase ever been uttered) assuming a new identity as a temporary offshoot of the Big Yellow Storage Company.  I am going to spare you a shot of it buried underneath a mound of maternity knickers, tea towels, baby toys, dismantled furniture, tins of paint and coats because you probably have a room like that of your own that you can go into if you want an interiors reality check.  When someone was coming to stay all of that crap got temporarily shoved into the wardrobe and it looked ok but it was a bit like the maternity knickers it so often played host to in that it was a bit drab and tired.  

Temporarily tidy but all a bit bland

Temporarily tidy but all a bit bland

After a particularly steamy session in there one Saturday night when Mr Malmo went wild with the nozzle of the hoover (attached to the entrance to a vacumn bag rather than something else I hasten to add) it was enough of a blank canvas to start thinking about how we could add a bit of personality into it.   The first step I took was to try and break up the wall behind the bed a bit by stringing up some festoon lights using command hooks.  I got my festoon lights from Sainsburys homeware range.  I think they were £13 in the sale and they stock them all year round.  They are definitely not the same quality as say a set from The White Company (they are about as sturdy as an eggshell) but I think they pretty much do the job.  

The festoons instantly injected a bit of interest

The festoons instantly injected a bit of interest

With that job done I turned my attention to the bedside tables.  They were a couple of fairly non descript numbers that we bought for our first flat back when I was a #Living EtcVirgin. They were, brace yourself, originally a shade of pine that I would describe as akin to Dale Winton just back from a week in Marbella. Once I had popped my Living Etc cherry I hastily painted them Pavilion Grey in a bid to Farrow & Ball away the Winton.  However, because I am the kind of impatient painter that dips a paintbrush in without a second thought to masking tape, dust sheets or priming I managed to paint the drawers shut.  Consequently retrieving anything from the drawers was the kind of challenge they liked to set people on the Crystal Maze when they wanted to watch an accountant in a jumpsuit try and restrain himself from saying the words cunting hell on pre-watershed television. 

Spot the #DuluxWeldedDurexDrawers

Spot the #DuluxWeldedDurexDrawers

The dressing table in its previous home in our main bedroom. Just to reassure you that is a curatin pole not crow bar you can see peaking out from under the bed.

The dressing table in its previous home in our main bedroom. Just to reassure you that is a curatin pole not crow bar you can see peaking out from under the bed.

Having finally jimmied the drawers open using the type of tool favoured by teenager car jackers, and disposed of the contents (which included some aged condoms which if used would almost certainly have led to the birth of our 4th child) the #DuluxWeldedDurexDrawers were taken to the tip.  Does anyone else's husband enjoy a trip to the tip almost as much as a blow job? In their place on the left hand side I brought down from our bedroom a dressing table which was the first piece of furniture we ever bought together.   Although Mr Malmo has never been a very big fan of it because apparently in his words it has shades of something Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart would have sat at whilst powdering his wig. I think it works really well in the spare room though with the style of our Loaf bed (and am sure Amadeus would have sided with me on this one inbetween whiping up preludes).  On the otherside of the bed we reconstructed the desk that used to be downstairs before Project Partition happened (future blogpost coming on that one!).

A lovely spot for Mozart to powder his wig

A lovely spot for Mozart to powder his wig

My attention turned next to a subject in which I could complete a doctorate: cushions.  I wanted something which created a bit of texture and drama so when I was on a work trip in Cardiff I thought all my Christmases had come at once when I popped into TK Maxx and spotted two of their divine Mongolian fur cushions in the sale for half price.    Unfortunately they are each the size of a small Mountain Yak so the only carrier bag that would contain them was a pink bag for life plastered in pictures of dogs in camp spectacles.  I think it is probably the first time the security guard at the Welsh Government Building has had  to X-Ray scan soft furnishings for explosives in a bag that looked like something Dame Edna Everidge might take with her to the lauderette.  Having wrestled the Yaks all the way home from Cardiff on the train I realised when I got home that they are in fact not the smokey grey I had intially thought they were but had a distinctly greenish tinge to them, a bit like a Yak that had fallen a pond....However I have actually really come to like the colour and it fits really nicely with the rustic wood of the tables and bed. 

With the soft furnishings in hand I turned my attention to the bed linen.  One of my absolute favourite instagram accounts belongs to @teawithruby who has the most beautiful antique bed and really gorgeous slubby (is that even a word?!) linen bedding in smoky colours.  The charcoal linen set I chose from Piglet In Bed fitted the #SlubbySleeping bill perfectly!  They do a lovely range of durable low maintenance linen bedding that gets softer and softer with wear and most importantly of all doesn't require me to iron it for it to look good!

The beautiful bedroom of @teawithruby

The beautiful bedroom of @teawithruby

Slubby Sleeping Goals achieved thanks to Piglet in Bed.

Slubby Sleeping Goals achieved thanks to Piglet in Bed.

It was all coming together nicely but I wanted it to have a bit more of an industrial/boho edge inspired by some of my favourite instagram bedrooms.  Although I don't have bare bricks to work with (unless I start tearing chunks of plaster away from the walls which I suspect would be about as popular with Mr Malmo as my cauliflower burgers) I really like the earthy industrial feel they add to Reena of Hygge for Home's bedroom.  I decided to add that feel through the use of rustic reclaimed wood instead like the gorgeous bohemian bedroom of Kate Young.  A trip to our local salvage yard resulted in us returning with some suitably distressed planks and the owner 22 Stone Tony laughing all the way to the bank as he took our cash for what transpired to be the bench he used to saw up wood on to sell to yuppy renovators.

Rustic woods and linen bedding getting my modern rustic pulse racing.

Rustic woods and linen bedding getting my modern rustic pulse racing.

Beautiful Bare Brick Boho Bedroom inspiration from  @hygge_for_home

Beautiful Bare Brick Boho Bedroom inspiration from @hygge_for_home

I love how  @kateyoungdesign  uses texture to create warmth in her bedroom

I love how @kateyoungdesign uses texture to create warmth in her bedroom

22 Stone Tony's Planks stand proud in the corner next to the rehomed desk.

22 Stone Tony's Planks stand proud in the corner next to the rehomed desk.

I also decided to keep all of the artwork black and white to create a crisp, clean impact with prints from Desenio doing the honours.  I can't quite decide whether to have some more artwork above the bed and if so whether to go with one big print, a mini gallery wall or a picture shelf with a small selection of different size prints or alternatively whether to go with a bit set of vintage antlers there instead to provide a further nod to the nordic.  Would love to know your thoughts.  Would it look too busy?  We were originally intending to turn our #YuppySalvageHaul into shelves in the alcoves but that would mean the festoons couldn't hang down the sides so I think I have changed my mind about it.  

I have added a real olive tree in beside the bed whilst I continue the search for a faux one which doesn't require me to take a bridging loan to afford it.  I have recently received a tip off that Ikea may have one so I am hoping that there has not been a middle class stampede to my local branch since this faux foliage rumour started doing the rounds.  

On the right hand side of the bed in these pictures are a set of vintage pegs that are displaying a throw and a lovely cage light I got from Of Special Interest.  In reality my husband has an infuriating habit of using these pegs as the resting place for a waterproof coat he has which makes him look like a cross between a 1990s indie band member and a bird watcher, sort of Bez meets Bill Oddie.  The trunk below them is one of my favourite vintage finds from Newark collectors market, where I also got the old French Railway Station clock which adds some extra monochrome interest.

Completing the industrial touches on the other side of the bed are some old Mars tins which have been outside until recently so picked up quite a bit of rust although I personally think that just adds to their character.  I bought them about 5 years ago from a man at Newark who had literally hundreds of them so I am always kicking myself that I only came away with three which was the most I could fit under the pram at the time.  I think Bugaboo are really missing gap in the market by not designing a pram with a huge undercarriage for vintiquing mums on the go.

The mars tins and a  John Lewis  sheepie to add some more texture and warmth under foot

The mars tins and a John Lewis sheepie to add some more texture and warmth under foot

The copper legged stool from  Sainsbury's  adds an extra industrial touch

The copper legged stool from Sainsbury's adds an extra industrial touch

The La Lune print is a recent purchase from  Desenio

The La Lune print is a recent purchase from Desenio

The cage lights were from a little shop in Canal St Martin on the Il de Re

The cage lights were from a little shop in Canal St Martin on the Il de Re

The Cushion Yaks provide nice contrast to my Florence Bouvier cushion from  Lisa Valentine Home

The Cushion Yaks provide nice contrast to my Florence Bouvier cushion from Lisa Valentine Home

The final touch I added recently after a rock n roll Thursday night trip to Enfield Town B&Q, was this Scandi inspired carpet runner which was a total bargain and neatly disguises where my middle son went rogue with his freshly sudocreamed bottom when 18 months old. Sudocream and wool fibres go about as well together as Theresa May and chocolate brown leather trousers.  Oh and am also very happy that we no longer have the 1980s doors that were all over the house when we first moved in which were reminiscent of doors the Corkhills used to slam during arguments on Brookside circa 1988.  This beautiful reclaimed one came from 22 Stone Tonys yard aka Stoneage Salvage on the way to Cuffley.

To the left of the bed as you walk in the door are a set of Ikea wardrobes constructed by Mr Malmo to which he added bespoke chipboard doors.  They are a very marmite feature of the room with my dad surpisingly numbering amongst their fans despite them being decidely non cluttered gothic, his signature interiors style.  They tend to create what I like to describe as the "shit why the hell did they do that face" in most guests.  I can't decide whether I want to leave them like that, paint them, or wallpaper them with tin effect paper like the panel hanging on the wall that caught my eye on the Rockett St George website.  What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments below whether you are #TeamChipboard or #TeamTin.

 

Malmo & Moss Meets: Belinda Fulton

When I was growing up I used to want to be a vet.  This was despite the fact that bovine animals kind of freak me out and so having to put my hand up their anus would probably cause me to have the kind of panic attack that Lawrence Lywellyn Bowen would suffer if you asked him to decorate a room without using any flocked fabric.  With that dream dead in the water I moved on to environmental law where ironically my first case involved defending a rogue meat renderer (aka the people who turn dead cows into dog food/soap/cleaning products). My real (bovine free) dream is, however, to open my own interiors shop selling Scandi/Vintage items against a backdrop of soothing whites and greys somewhere by the sea (not Skegness just to clarify). Bar the absence of ocean, Belinda Fulton’s shop Of Special Interest in Crouch End, London, pretty much sums up my dream.  Belinda agreeing to let me come and look round her house for my blog was, therefore, on a par with Ryan Gosling turning up on my doorstep and offering to give me a naked footrub (to clarify he would be the naked one in that scenario as not sure I would be able to enjoy said footrub if I was worrying what Ryan might be thinking of my overgrown lady garden and mum tum).

Gallery Wall
Hallway

Since discovering OFSI 5 years ago, I think I have spent, on average, about 33% of my monthly salary in there. When on maternity leave, I seriously considered asking Belinda to erect an electric fence around the entrance to prevent me from frittering my meagre statutory maternity pay away on candle holders and gloriously realistic yet still reasonably priced faux foliage instead of nappies and baby wipes.

Gallery Wall
Living Room

Belinda started off life in Malpas in Cheshire but has been a city dweller ever since leaving home at 18.  She is, like me, more of a gastro pub and café than fields and sheep kind of lady.  I start to get sweaty when I am more than 5 miles away from a café with a filament bulb, bare brick wall and flat white (I don’t actually drink them, I just like to know I am somewhere urban enough to serve them).  After studying textile design at Leicester (whilst secretly really wanting to do Fine Art), Belinda moved to North London with her then husband buying a flat and opening the shop together. It started off life as a junk shop selling a mix of auction house finds and their own possessions.  If I had sold my possesions age 24 it would essentially have been a shop full of Ikea crockery, posters of Kurt Cobain and Bob Marley (RIP Kurt and Bob) and a CD collection that lent heavily upon the work of 90s Indie Bands. Despite divorcing they still run the business together today, a fact I marvel at.   Running a business with my significant ex boyfriend would almost certainly have ended in me wanting to run over him in a tractor (as it was he was lucky to escape with my best friend just using his tooth brush to clean the toilet when we parted ways). Though, to be fair, it sounds as though Belinda has been tempted to reach for the tractor keys herself a few times over the years.  

Kitchen, Dark Interiors
Kitchen, Dark Interiors
Kitchen Shelfie

These days she is happily married to husband Lewis (who, along with daughter Mack (18) she describes as the love of her life).  She spotted him in a bar over twenty years ago and plucked up the courage to ask him out, figuring she would be unlikely to be returning to that bar again so had nothing to lose.  Luckily he said yes and turned out not only to be a great cook but also a builder too.  He has carried out pretty much all of the renovation work on their house himself and is currently in the process of building them a studio in the garden.  Am thinking that I need to persuade Mr Malmo to swap professions if I want to progress my own Grand Design dreams.  Working in banking law he could whip me up a great loan finance agreement if I wanted to buy a shopping centre in Grimsby but a studio in the garden not so much. 

Kitchen lighting
Candelabra
Open Plan Kitchen

Belinda was living in a one bedroom flat in Tottenham at the time and managed to persuade Hampstead boy Lewis to leave the Heath behind and come and join her.  When Lewis was away on a work trip to Greece, a pregnant Belinda spotted their current house and loved the garden so much she put in an offer that day. She therefore met Lewis from the station slightly nervous about telling him that a) she had bought them a house and b) that said house was opposite the slightly notorious Broadwater Farm estate.  Luckily he took the news well and they have never looked back, loving living sandwiched between two beautiful parks and surrounded by warm, friendly people from all walks of life.  In fact I am wondering if I can borrow Belinda’s West Indian neighbour Hyacyinth who brings her a bottle of wine if she has had a bad day (unlike my octogenarian Jeovah’s witness neighbour George, who is more likely to pop round with a copy of the Watchtower and tell me that the world is about to end). 

 

Living Room
Button Back Sofa
Original artwork

Like all good wives skilled in the art of “Renovation Deception”, Belinda promised Lewis when he viewed the house that they would wait until after the baby was born and they had lived in the house a while before embarking upon any major renovation work.  Needless to say Belinda was still pregnant when she set started removing doors and demolishing a polysterene mock brick fireplace.  Over time a loft extension was added which is now Mack’s domain and, when Lewis finishes the garden studio, Belinda is looking forward to having somewhere to paint again.

Picture Shelf

What I loved so much about Belinda’s house is that whilst it is ridiculously stylish it is also most definitely a family home, with the stunning gallery walls that line the stairs mainly featuring daughter Mack’s artwork from age 3 onwards (Mack seems to be far handier in the art department than me though, a gallery wall featuring my early and, if I am honest, current artwork, might look like Morph had been let loose with a crayon after one too many Barcardi Breezers). Throughout the house there is a great sense of light and space as doors have been removed so that as you step into the hallway you can see straight through to the garden beyond and clever tricks like a glass panel on the stairs keep the light flowing through the rest of the house.

Button Back Bed
Study
Fireplace, Buddha

Although Belinda can never see them leaving Tottenham, if they were to move it would be down to their little place in St Ives (insert link)  which they head to whenever it is not rented out or perhaps to a warehouse in the Jewellery Quarter of Birmingham with it’s vibrant mix of old buildings and beautiful metal cladded armadillo type modern architecture. I feel like I should give Birmingham another chance as Belinda is not the only person to sing its praises to me.  I just have terrible memories of the environmental consultants conference I was forced to attend there 5 years ago where, inbetween talks about the latest developments in contaminated land identification (pointers it smells bad and your hair stands on end when you step on it) I was forced to watch two balding middle aged men called Colin and Andrew put on a medieval jousting display. 3 hours of my life I will never get back and the image of paunch straining to escape chainmail is still seared on to my retina.

Of Special Interest Gallery Wall

Over the years Of Special Interest Interiors has grown from a junk shop into the interiors gem it is today, taking over two neighbouring shops as their owners moved on and then the annex behind when it came up to rent. Lewis has also joined the business, taking on many roles, including, on occasion that of Judge Judy if the Of Special Interest Exes are locking horns.  In the shop, Belinda is inspired by the Dutch look of muted colours mixed with gorgeous natural textures but I love the fact that nothing is too regimented and it is very much not the kind of shop where entering with a buggy causes the owner to pull a face at you like they have just accidentally chewed a 3 year old piece of bubble gum. 

Loft Conversion

As a fan of concept stores that mix interiors with fashion, gardening and other lifestyle products such as Daylesford Organic, Belinda would love, if she had the space, to be able to offer something similar in Of Special Interest Interiors (although without the hefty price tags found at Daylesford along with hordes of chauffeur driven Range Rovers and women called Clarissa Fortesque-Bowles-De Montfort-Hedges). Having fallen in love with some gorgeous Spanish jewellery at a recent Trade Show, Belinda may yet dip a toe into Daylesford waters or, alternatively, if it doesn’t sell, be turning up at work like Crouch End’s answer to Mr T (if Mr T favoured delicate Catalan crafted jewellery in muted colours).  When she is not in the shop, Belinda loves both Instagram and Pinterest and enjoys following both interiors and artists accounts.  Favourites include Cornish Artists like Kurt Jackson and Gareth Edwards, the interiors photographer Paul Massey (whose holiday home in Mousehole I have a stonking insta crush on), Hans Blomquist and Sally Denning (whose other account Black Shorestyle is also one of my all time favourites).

 

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Local places Belinda likes to eat out include the Banc Café in Downhills Park minutes from their house.  Our kids love this park as it has a mini roadway for scooters and bikes that they can zip around whilst you tuck into Union Coffee, big breakfasts and roast lunches. Although Belinda is a veggie (having grown up as the daughter of a butcher and being put off meat by early encounters with offal and other dubious offcuts) if Lewis is missing meat they go to The Westbury in Turnpike Lane or The Maynard in Crouch End, both of which do great burgers.  Down in St Ives favourites include it’s Porthmeor Beach Cafe,The Alba and Porthminster Kitchen.

Outdoor Space
Outdoor Space

As well as letting me look round her amazing home, I must also take this opportunity to thank Belinda for having introduced me to the wonders of Primark pleather leggings. I spotted her wearing some on a previous visit to her shop and was delighted to discover they were £6 from Wood Green Primarni rather than £600 from Armani. Their ability to make me feel a little bit like Chrissie Hynde whilst also being wipe clean have made them a “Rock Mum” wardrobe staple (even if my husband never fails to ask if my legs have been abducted by Doreen from Birds of a Feather when I wear them).

Whilst it may yet be a few years before I am Open All Hours (as a shopkeeper that is) drinking tea and chatting with Belinda in her lovely garden has helped keep my dream alive.  I now just need to convince Richard Branson instead of spending billions trying to fly Clarissa Fortesque-Bowles-De Montfort-Hedges and pals into space he should, instead, be investing his cash in my coastal modern rustic interiors empire.  Failing that, maybe the shop will have to be in Skegness rather than Salcombe.