Furnishing a small house is far more tricky than I’d been led to believe. Rather than simply having less furniture, one must search for pieces which are smaller than you ever knew existed, simply because nothing else will fit. We started with a Victorian drop-arm sofa, which comfortably sits two. We found it on eBay, covered in a filthy velour type fabric. Now it is reupholstered with a natural, neutral linen, a shade which some might call impractical, but one which I am stubbornly fond of.
Next came an achingly comfortable Edwardian armchair, stuffed with horsehair and down, carefully moulded by its previous loving owners. In a similar state of disrepair, I told myself I would take up upholstery, and tackle its sagging form. Not yet quite confident enough to strip away years of careful wear and tear, we have for the time being draped it in a medley of blankets and a particularly tatty 18th century suzani, for which we haven’t quite found the right home. The suzani is also very worn, having fallen to pieces at one stage, forcing someone to painstakingly back the fragments on to an enormous piece of linen. I thank them for their patience, as the careful stitches have not only preserved this piece in its entirety, but have added an undeniable charm.
The sitting room is rapidly reaching full capacity. But we were in need of a desk. Another scroll through eBay and an arts and crafts bureau appeared, studded with decorative copper handles with valuable shelf space beneath. Narrow enough with the desk folded up, it sits happily against the wall with one of my favourite – yet slightly creepy – portraits of a young boy. Painted by the Yorkshire artist Sunderland Rollinson, the tone of his eyes in particular is incredibly arresting. His gaze is almost one of disapproval.
No sitting room of mine could be complete without a map, so I have switched a simple landscape for a large geological map of Scotland. Published by Bartholomew and Sons in Edinburgh, it compiles information provided by Sir Archibald Geikie. It is a fascinating example of Victorian cartography and also a wonderfully colourful new addition! Alongside the map, a temporary addition is a set of engravings, for which we have yet to find exactly the right home!