Bit of a random blog post today but thought you might like some interior inspo from the coolest offices in the world – Google HQ! I’m in residence for one week as part of my ‘real life’ job as editor of Company magazine.
Please can I work here?
So it struck me that Google have very similar design esthetics to me! For more pics check out our story on company.co.uk
Then get updating your CV – they have unlimited food and snacks all day long too!!! #dreamjob
Not suitable for anyone male and/or over 9
So, to recap… This is the pink I had chosen for my ‘salon’. And I hated it. Sorry Earthbourne paints, it’s not entirely your fault, I mean, this might be nice in a small girl’s bedroom. Possibly with some of those flowery padded letters spelling out ‘sleep’ but it’s just not what I had in mind for my grand salon. I’d chosen pink for my French salon as my London home is a haven of greys, khakis and blues (well my old London home was – the current one is a building site save for my bedroom which is a khaki haven farrow and ball Blue Gray
Farrow and Ball Blue Gray in my London bedroom
In France, as it’s in the middle of nowhere where no one will expect any specific design motifs (rooms without livestock in them are oddities around these parts!) and has huge rooms, I saw it as an opportunity to do things a little less ‘greige’ which is where my pink obsession began. But my salon had to be grown up and not at all girly. #epicfail so far.
This is more what I had in mind….
Maybe a touch girly?
A little more ‘mature’?
Definitely more sophisticated and ‘manly’
And I know I teased last blog post that I’d reveal what I ended up with eventually. I might spin this out a bit longer – like an episode of Homeland. All WILL be revealed next post…..
When we first bought the ‘house in france’ one of it’s biggest selling points was the sheer size and scale of the rooms. Majestic one could say. Certainly compared to London living where if you can afford a three story shoebox with a postage stamp sized garden its considered living in Versailles! And the french house had rooms the size of entire floors of our London home. And so it was with the ‘Salon’. Too grand to be called a ‘sitting room’ and the word ‘lounge’ brings me out in funny lumps n bumps and certainly not a ‘drawing room’ as we had no intention of withdrawing to it – in fact we intended to spend hours of our time there so we plumped for the french – ‘salon’ when referring to it.
Initially the salon didn’t have a floor. It had rats running through it eating up the broken floorboards and so we closed the doors and avoided it at all costs. But once we’d had some people come in and concrete the floors (sorry Ratty – maybe they’re still there like Han Solo – frozen in time or people in Pompeii having their tea when the volcano hit) we started to use the biggest room in the house.
a bit cosier…
And for Christmas each year we built big fires and had the tree and a couple of sofas thrown in to sit on. The mid century modern sofa eventually ended up in the kids sitting room (see blog post here) but the big squishy grey sofa will remain. It came from IKEA and is a bargainous EKTORP – the cheapest one they do. But as it’s already had children peeing on it and paint splattered over it as part of project redecorate I think it was a wise move not to go for Parker Knoll!
It is essentially the last room we need to decorate and in some ways I’m worried about where my blog will go once I’ve shown you this!!! Although we still have sub rooms and hallways and barns and exteriors to make over. So don’t abandon me just yet.
Once Peter had plastered the most damaged bits of wall (and the Kings Speech style peeling paper had finally been removed) we started painting. I’d had an idea that I wanted this room to be pink. I cant even remember why I got this in my head but I must have seen a pink sitting room in some back issue of Living Etc or some such. And Peter insisted I get an Earthbourne paint as they are clay based and better for our damp walls. So THIS is what I plumped for being the only pink they had at the time. And then we started painting. And we made the kids help…
Who needs kid’s clubs?
Pink to make the girls wink
And it was VERY pink. And we used two whole tins of relatively expensive paint.
our brush with pink
And then it was almost finished and……. I HATED it. It looked like a 10 year old girl’s bedroom. All it needed was some White Company bunting and a One Direction poster and that’s where we’d be. And I knew that I could not leave it like that no matter how much our expensive, clay based paint had cost. So we went back to the drawing board. And the quest for the perfect pink began again…… like Indiana Jones hunting for the Holy Grail – I was looking for my dream paint colour. The quest was on…
When we bought La Maison Blanche – we naively thought that bringing our children to rural france for every holiday would mean shared rustic experiences. There were to be no televisions in the house, so for at least ten weeks a year they’d be unable to watch that god awful rubbish on the Disney Channel involving the same rotating five actresses all bleating on about “dating and like, friends and like, totally relating…”
Instead, we thought, smugly, we would all sit around and talk. They’d ask questions about our lives before them – show interest in the history of us, the house or themselves. Oh no. We might occasionally get ‘WHAT?!!!*** THERE WAS LIKE NO MOBILE PHONES WHEN YOU WAS YOUNG….THAT SUCKS’. HOW DID YOU, LIKE, INSTAGRAM?’ But of course these days you don’t need a TV to watch, er, TV (yep thanks netflix and youtube). So electronic items have seeped into our french life. And access to moving pictures is unrestrictable as Peter needs his computer there to do his work and I need my ipads to play Candy Crush Saga. So it began with the children then using them to watch films. And then came the Olympics so we worked out a way to live stream via BBC.com to watch the Opening Cermony and so before you know it you’re right back to where you began with constant, 24 hour, TV access.
Anyone know what the thing behind me does though? Plays big black plastic disc things…
But if the battle against electronic items is a losing one – the war is being won slightly thanks to our enormous and ever increasing board game selection shown above. In London we may occasionally get the Monopoly out for a long, slow, torturous game which always ends with Seb banging his fist on the board and sending houses flying when he is losing, but that’s it. Apart from games of cards or endless pokemon card exchanging that I still don’t understand. However, in France just the lack of a TV seems to encourage game playing. And trips to Vide Greniers always result in some classic being bought in another version french or multilingual (I once found the French equivalent of a Countdown game)
My best ever buy is Mastermind – a 70s classic based around the TV show but nothing to do with the TV show. You have to work out the sequence of coloured pegs your opponent has selected. If you’ve got right colour, right place – you get a black peg. Right colour, wrong place – a white peg. Sounds wild right? Well it is.
Mastering your mind
And who could fail to be excited by french versions of English classics. French Trivial Pursuit played late, drunkenly at night can keep adults entertained for hours “c’est Vanessa Paradis?” Pretentious nous? And even Monopoly when played with french properties somehow seems just that bit more exciting. Occasionally we even get to the end of a game without anyone storming off in a huff of bankruptcy. Or reaching for the remote control to find out what’s happening to Austin and Ally.
I am sometimes accused of moaning. I know? Fancy that. My husband says I complain too much about things and says I need to be more ‘half full’. My friend, and former boss Meribeth who is Canadian and thus I suspect born with inherent positivity starts most sentences with “you know, you gotta look at the positive..” and I really do try. And our great friends Johnny and Ana Maria who were about to arrive at Maison Blanche for New Year are great examples of ‘happy people’. Maybe they moan behind closed doors – in fact maybe they are both perpetually morose when not round at our house or entertaining us at theirs, but I doubt it. Ana Maria is Columbian and refers to everyone as ‘my darling’ or ‘amore’. Perhaps if we had one word for ‘loved one’ in english maybe we’d all be happier and more positive.
And so our gorgeous, positive friends came to stay for new year and they were the perfect guests to see our ‘almost quite nice’ house as they are fellow lovers of renovation projects AND some of the most stylish people I know when it comes to interiors. And, er relentlessly positive. They loved our newly decorated dining room. They cooed over our half finished salon with the peeling walls and no floors. Ana Maria played Cluedo for hours with the boys (they have two boys Thomas and Alberto who my kids have known since they were all born in houses next door to one another – not literally – it wasn’t Angela’s Ashes, we just lived next door to each other at that time!) and we even persuaded all our children to look positively on a massive walk around a frozen lake at Gavarnie
It is THIS much fun here honestly kids
And even when it rained and was cold and wet Peter managed to achieve the one thing he’d wanted to do since we got the house – host a screening of The Italian Job using his 16mm projector. I bought the projector quite cheaply on ebay as a gift for him not realising that to buy 16mm film is ferociously expensive. As a consequence, The Italian Job is the only film we have and setting it all up requires a lot of effort, so we’d never actually bothered – until now! And the boys all snuggled under a duvet in our half renovated salon while Michael Caine attempted to ‘blow the bloody doors off’ and the adults opened a bottle of champagne to see in the New Year. And even I was forced to admit that things really had turned out nice again.