Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Masculine Interiors: How Man Caves Can Still Be Sexy

After my frightful post on Monday all around what work W's been doing to the cellar to create his very own 'Man Cave', I thought we'd look at the end result of allowing the boys a place to call their own.

As it goes, and probably replicated in many households with interiors-obsessed inhabitants, I have pretty much driven the decisions on how we decorate every other part of the house.  Yes, W still absolutely has a say and he will be very vocal about things he doesn't care for.  Sometimes, I find myself pushing the boundaries of what he feels comfortable with, and 9 times out of 10, he likes the result even if it took a bit of ignoring him and just doing what I wanted to anyway convincing.

With this part of the house, however, I am pretty much allowing him to do as he wishes.  He wants to decorate it his own way and I do respect him for that.  It's his space, not mine (I have the dressing room to call my own, after all) so I will mostly be trying to keep my mouth shut in terms of what he can or should do down there.

I do want to share some beautifully masculine spaces with you here today, however, if only to show that whilst I do love my girly glam, I'm a sucker for darker interiors (as indicated by my dining room, my bedroom and my bathroom) and I deeply appreciate a nod to industrial style which seems to work really well for 'man spaces' and to balance out a too-feminine interior.

As an aside, in researching 'man caves', I very unfortunately came across too many images of pool tables and pinball machines and miles of 'pleather' recliners perpetuating every ridiculous stereotype of the rather animalistic behaviour of men along with signs telling people it's okay to belch, scratch and pass wind as much as they like in their space.  All I can say after seeing the proliferation of these signs on Pinterest is how grateful I am that W is a bit more refined than that (he actually shook his head and looked away in disgust when I showed him the link).  Ok, he's not Mr. Darcy, all caviar and champagne - not even remotely.  He's a 'Manc' after all, he likes his beer, he likes F1 and footie but, I don't know.  Maybe it's because he's English and not a 'lad', he couldn't be further away from this kind of stereotype.  Thank god.  And I know he's certainly not the only one who breaks the supposed mould in this way!

Now whether or not that bit of class or refinement translates into good taste in his decor remains to be seen.  I can only hope he reads this post and adopts some of the gorgeous worldly taste of the interior designers who crafted these beautiful and yet very masculine rooms.


A dark colour pallette seems to perpetuate masculine interiors with deep inky colours on the walls and touches of stained wood and soft natural leathers and hides.


But masculine interiors don't have to be dark.  White walls showcasing a nod to manly pop culture can be well placed and look classy if done right.  A herringbone floor helps you to ignore the inevitable gadgetry that seems to breed in manly spaces.


Introducing bright colours like orange mixed with navy and white keeps the space bright without venturing anywhere near 'girly'.   A football, a dragon and a flat screen all ensure this space is a testosterone-friendly zone.


Black and white are always sexy, though, and work in both masculine and feminine interiors.  The introduction of velvet and a bit of snow leopard just adds to the sexy factor.  Yum yum.  Strong geometrics, straight lines and framed architectural prints make this room a swoon-inducing favourite.


Of course our space is no where near as cavernous as this next image but the deep stained wood and leather furniture keep the industrial lighting from looking too cold.  You just know this would be a fantastic space to hang out, drink a few beers, relax and have a sexy photoshoot with your other half(I totally wasn't even thinking that, you perv.)

This next 'man cave' is really a more practical space, perhaps, as I know a flat screen television will definitely be making an appearance in our very own cellar.  All the easier to play the PS3 with, I suppose.  But a soft underfoot rug, lots of framed pictures, the oversized jacks and book-lined shelves reminds us the space is a place to chill and enjoy.


As a massive Star Wars fan, I expect there might actually be a bit of a playful nod to childhood passions in W's man cave.  It also keeps the space from looking too serious.


I don't even mind the odd sexy pinup if it's done in an urban chic style.


I may even be open to the flagrant attachment to sport if it's done with impeccable taste.  Throw in a couple of chesterfields, a nod to the Union Flag and an oversized 8 ball and I'd spend as much time down there as he does.  I do realise this isn't the point.  Maybe I shouldn't have said that out loud.


No matter whether you've got your very own Christian Grey or just an all-around good bloke that doesn't see the need to pass wind every time he's in your presence, let's hope you can show him that gorgeous interiors aren't just for the girls.

Do you have a 'man cave' in your home?  Any favourites in the images shown here?  Want to share your own story of manly men who break stereotypes?  Do share in the comments!


Monday, 25 June 2012

The Man Cave Part I: The Rough and Ready Before Pics

I should really put a warning on this post.


Oh wait, not that kind of warning.  Just a warning that this isn't gonna be a pretty post.

I mean, I named my blog 'Swoon Worthy' because my intention was to show swoon-inducing interiors.  And this, well, I'm afraid it falls so far from that aspiration that I'm almost a little embarrassed to show it off.

Thing is, W has really worked awfully hard on this space for the last 6 weeks or so and I would feel bad in covering every other part of my home on this blog and not share with you the really rather horrendous side of DIY and remodelling.  It also serves as a sort of progress marker to what it started off like and where we are with it now.

Welcome to the dark side...

I don't even have a truly before pic but these were taken with W's mobile before he started the long, arduous process of getting the walls and flooring into a condition that he could seal and paint them.

The space is not huge.  The 'usable' space is essentially just below the dining room so the main room is roughly the same size.  There is a separate chamber as well that was originally filled with spiders discarded wood and junk from the previous owners which was cleared out before these pictures were taken so that we could move the tools, paint and various DIY things we have accumulated to make a bit of room to work in the space.

The 'chimney breast' and various other parts of the walls were thick with old paint that was chipping and damp and rather awful.  You'll notice there were also weird bits of brick sticking up on the floor along the wall that needed to be removed too.

This is the 'chamber' part that W had cleaned up and roughly painted just so that we could use it for storage and so that I wasn't too scared to go into it.  It still looked pretty rough and horrible though.

The first thing that needed to be addressed was that the walls needed to be sealed from any damp that might be coming in (although we never had any serious flooding in the cellar which was a plus - only damp).  First W had to get as much paint off the walls as possible.  There was a lot of scraping going on.

He also removed the funny bits of brick on the floor and then used a levelling compound both in here and in the chamber to even the flooring.

Which Pablo very quickly decided to ensure he left a lasting impression in whilst it was still drying.

That's the thing about these kinds of makeovers... even after all the scraping and work to the flooring that W did, the place still pretty much looked like hell.

Here's what the room looked like from the far wall looking towards the stairs.

He started to box in the pipes along the wall and ceiling that divides the main space from the chamber.

As you can see, the walls were in seriously rough shape.  We would have loved to keep the brick look but because it's underground, the only way to truly seal the walls was by using coats and coats of hardcore substances.

This is the first coat on the walls - a tanking compound which is brushed on like a paint but dries kind of like concrete.  It chemically bonds to the brick which seals the brick but still allows the wall to breathe.  The dampness can then pass through the brick and evaporate. 

Once that dried, a coat of bitumen substitute followed, a sticky black stuff that dries almost like plastic.  This also allows the brick to 'breathe'.  I didn't get a good picture of that step but you can kind of see it on the right in this mobile picture.  The bitumen substitute also went on the batons to ensure no moisture goes through to the drywall.

You can see in the chamber, these two substances were also applied to the back wall.  The other walls (which were internal so didn't need the same kind of process) received a fresh coat of white paint...

The hole in the brickwork you can see above leads to the crawlspace 
under the living room.  W will be covering that with a vent eventually 
because I'm still a little afraid of spiders.

The flooring was levelled and painted and the tools were put back into place to make space in the main room.  It's not sexy but it's clean and bright now.   The floor was all shiny but it's been trampled by dusty footprints.

Back to the main space, once the walls were all scraped and sealed, the flooring evened out and the shelving units and tools went back into the chamber, W could finally start putting up the batons that would hold the drywall.  Many of the batons were made up of wood we recycled that came out of the chamber initially.

Oh my god, it's finally starting to look like a room rather than a torture chamber!

The back wall also got a couple coats of white paint...

But pretty much everything's getting covered up in drywall, including the ceiling.

Clever clogs that my boy is, he decided to recycle the spot lights that we'd removed from the kitchen ceiling when that was taken down.  The light now is sooooo much nicer than when it was a lone florescent light.

Yes, we still have loads of rubbish to clear from the space.  One thing at a time though.

As you can see, the drywall isn't complete yet, the wires and pipes in the ceiling still need boxing off and there is a LOT of work to be done down here including lots and lots of plastering, flooring, decorating, etc.  We also have plans to hide both the boiler as well as the fridge so stay tuned for more. 

But just to prove there has indeed been headway, a little before and after in case you forgot the original horror...


And as of this weekend...

It's not pretty but at least you can see what we started with and where we currently are.  I'll soon be sharing some of the plans we have for this space and some gorgeously masculine interiors to serve as inspiration (ie., back to the "swoon worthy" part of Swoon Worthy).

In the meantime, is anyone else tackling a basement or cellar remodel?

Friday, 22 June 2012

Friday Free For All: Glass Gold Etagere Ikea Hack

On this Free For All Friday, I wanted to feature quite possibly one of the simplest but most effective Ikea Hacks I have ever seen... I've always wanted a vintage glass etagere but firstly, I can't seem to find any in this country;  secondly, new ones are ridiculously priced;  and thirdly, even if I found one in my price range, I don't really have a clue where I'd put it.

All of these factors, however, does not mean I don't want one anyway!  Thinking perhaps in the dressing room possibly if I shift a few things around... hmmm.

Anyway, when I saw this hack, on Ana Antunes' Home Styling, I just had to share.  It's friggin' gorgeous!

Anna is an interior designer and TV presenter in Portugal and her designs are very pretty, very feminine and the most beautifully colour-coordinated I've probably ever seen.

In this particular design, she used two Ikea VITTSJO metal shelving units that used to look like this...

And turned them with some gold spray paint into this...

For £65 for each shelving unit and a bit of gold paint, it's not too bad a result, eh? Stunning!  It looks as though she also replaced the bottom shelves with a mirror, a very nice touch!

Ana has some really beautiful work on her blog, definitely worth checking out.

Seen any brilliant Ikea hacks lately?

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Bedroom Updates: So What's Keeping Me Awake with Excitement?

For those readers of mine that are not based in the UK, let me just tell you this:  The weather, considering it's supposedly summer, has been pretty abysmal.  It's been colder and rainier than it should be and so, I'm feeling a little ripped off.   Aside from a unseasonably warm week in March and one other gorgeously sunny and hot week in May, it's been pretty rubbish weather and now that summer is here, the situation hasn't improved much.  Oh sure, we've had the odd sunny day when temps were in the 20s but they've been rare indeed.

Why am I telling you this?  Because about a month ago, W & I had a decision to make.  We had a bit of cash saved but it would only be enough to go to one home improvement:  We either extended on to the back deck (just outside the kitchen door) or we got a new king sized bed - both things I desperately wanted.  The deck, because our current one is just too small to put much furniture on and I had fashioned grand plans as to what possibilities extending it could hold; and our bed, because try as we might, a double bed with 2 adults and 2 cats all fighting for space in the night just wasn't cutting it anymore.

On the bright side (or not so bright considering the weather - see what I did there? I slay me.), the weather has made the decision for us.  There didn't seem a point to invest more in our outside space when we haven't even been able to really enjoy the changes we'd already made on it (see our back garden makeover here).  So a new bed it was.  The deck extension will have to wait until next year.

Thanks to eBay, I was able to sell my iron bed at around 50% of what I originally paid for it 4 years ago so I was happy enough with that and it made room for our new lovely king size bed and divan.

See the white faux fur throw?  That usually only comes out in the winter.  Told you it's been cold.

I was very happy to find that the divan came in varying colours (and not in the ugly patterns to match the mattress fabric which I never understood - why buy something that would only need covering up with a bedskirt?!) and so I chose a black base which is actually closer to a very dark grey, matching perfectly with the walls in the bedroom.  The base also contains 2 drawers which is perfect for storage.

I've also been meaning to replace the lampshades for ages now but wasn't exactly sure what I was going to get.  When I saw that Homebase had these groovy zebra printed shades on clearance for just £9 each (!) I knew they'd work perfectly.  (As an aside, I have no idea where they came from in Homebase - I live right next to the store so I'm there all the time and I'd never seen them before.  Normally, their light shades are pretty tame and boring.  I'm sure these were left for me by the Happy Homewares Fairy.)

I also raised the pictures to just above the lampshades, rather than just below them as they were before.

I absolutely love the way they tie in so well with the black and white embroidered cushions.  I love mixing patterns, sometimes it's a delicate balance but I really think it works in this case.  (You may disagree and think it looks like a dog's dinner, that's cool).

I don't know why the picture on the right looks crooked.  
It isn't, I used a spirit level and everything.

Obviously, there's something missing in a major way here. 

Ahhh yes, there's no longer any headboard.

Well, do not worry that sweet little brain of yours because I have plans for that as well.

It involves yellow velvet and nailheads.  And a wickedly talented and rather lovely blogger I'd like to introduce you to called Emily.

I'm totally going to Edinburgh to steal her dog.  And her shoes.
Image via Fantoush.

Ya see, Emily, an upholsteress and interior designer extraordinaire as well as a proper hands on DIYer, runs an upholstery business in Edinburgh called Fantoush.  Fantoush, as I found out myself, is a Scottish word for flashy or ostentatious.  I'll have some of that, thank you.

She is very funny, hard-working and shares my passion for non-cookie-cutter interiors.  This girl has got style in spades.  I mean, this room is not only her design but she made the shit outta that headboard AND the goats hair fender bench.

Is it any wonder that I have a massive girl crush and I totally want her to be my BFF??  (Apparently, stalking is illegal in Scotland.  Pfft.)

Image via Fantoush

Graciously, Emily has agreed to give my bed it's much needed crowning glory of a headboard.  How excited am I?

Oh, but I do understand, Kitty, I really do.

It'll be a while before I get my sweaty mitts on it because Emily isn't just sat around twiddling her thumbs, she's busy this girl and it's easy to see why.  And plus she's making this thing from the ground up for me so we need to let the genius get on with her work.  Can't wait to share the design with you soon but you'll have to stay tuned for that! :)

Is it going to be cheap?  Not especially.  Can I have created the headboard myself?  Possibly.  Could I have bought something 'off the shelf' for a similar price?  Probably.  Could I have used an old door or a screen or something equally creative instead of a proper headboard?  Yeah, I guess.  But is it what I wanted?  Nope.

So what gives?

Well, I honestly believe that 'getting pretty on the cheap' also means allowing yourself the option to splurge once in a while.  And that every room should allow for at least one splurge if you can swing it.  I sold my bed along with a couple other things to drum up some cash for this so I figure a treat is in order. 

In the meantime, if you want to see some more of Emily's work or talk to her about your own commission, you can visit Fantoush here or you can read her blog here.  If you want to be her BFF, however, you can back the f**k off.  I've already called dibs.

I've shared this post here...

Monday, 18 June 2012

Progress Report: Wallpaper (and a couple other additions) to the Kitchen...Finally!

So how long has it been since I did an update on my kitchen?  Hmmm.  Turns out, it was in October.  Pretty rubbish, isn't it?  And the sad fact is, this isn't even a big huge leap in terms of progress, just something I'd been meaning to do for absolutely ages and only just got around to it.

I'm not sure why we haven't finished the kitchen but I have my theories.  We did an awful lot on it in a short-ish space of time (like every weekend and taking time off from work to do more) and after we did the slate flooring, we were just so burned out on working on the kitchen.  We had other things we wanted to do, Christmas was coming soon so money was tight and the days were getting shorter (and colder) and we sort of lost our mojo.

And the truth is, the kitchen isn't in an uninhabitable condition by any means which probably made it easier to ignore.  Aside from the lack of kickboards under the cupboards, you wouldn't necessarily think there was much more to do.  But of course there is... which I'll get to in a minute.

The thing is, I've been wanting to either paint or wallpaper the back of the open shelving since it went up but I wasn't entirely sure what I was going to use.  Funny thing is, long long ago, before I decided on an eclectic gallery wall for the dining room, the initial plan - which I blogged about -  was to wallpaper it.  So on impulse, I purchased a couple rolls of a paper I liked with a dark grey background and a Moroccan inspired print in metallic silver.  However, once I painted the room (funny enough, matched exactly to the background grey in the paper), I decided against the wallpaper wall and the 2 rolls of wallpaper remained unused.

Until now of course. (You did see that coming, right?)

So I'll show you what they looked like when I last showed them on the blog...

And this is what they looked like once wallpapered...

And now lots of pics of what they currently look like.  The grey ties nicely into the adjoining dining room and the metallic accent reflects light so it doesn't appear too dark.

Here's the cupboard on the other side...

Now let me just take some time to say that there was an awful lot of swearing whilst this project was going on.  I'm not entirely sure how I could see given the amount of very blue air whilst I was measuring and cutting!!  The problem was that I had to cut the paper to the exact size before I put it up because there was no messing about with moving the paper around - there just wasn't the space.

But, despite the initial why-the-f***-did-I-think-this-was-a-good-idea of a job, I'm pretty happy how it came out.

You may also have noticed that I have made a few small, inexpensive purchases like the new bread bin and biscuit tin in turquoise blue with red lettering.  I love the combination of turquoise, red and white and so I decided to pursue this colour combination in the kitchen.

Both the bread bin and biscuit tin are from Betty Twyford.

A little leopard print never goes amiss as well, of course.  The espresso cup set is from Zara Home (sadly no longer available on the site) and the pot was a gift from W's mum, which we use ALL the time (in fact, as I type, it's in the oven cooking up Kleftiko, a greek dish we adopted from a trip to Corfu last year - nom nom).

The turquoise bowls as well as the ramekins (seen in pics a little further in the post) were from Homebase.

I also finally got around to getting to Ikea to pick up two more utensil hangers as well as a paper towel holder, freeing up more counter space.  I love how nice and neat all the cups look now instead of piled on a mug tree.

So whilst I realise it's not a huge step in terms of progress, the changes have added a bit of much needed colour and pattern to the room.

Oh and we had the unexpected (but not altogether unwelcome) expense of having to get a new washing machine as ours died recently.  W did a sterling job of attempting to fix the 12 year old one we had, bless him (the whole thing was in BITS all over the kitchen which was fun) but shucks, the old girl just wanted to be laid to rest.  Why hello there new shiny white Hotpoint which is SO MUCH QUIETER than our old machine!  (Now it's the turn of the ugly toaster to kick it.  Just sayin'.)

Here's what the whole room now looks like when you are walking into it...

I still need some kind of window dressing here!

So aside from the kickboards under the cupboards and window dressing, what else is left to do?  Well, the one thing I miss about the old kitchen (believe me, there's not much), it's the warmth that all the wood brought to the space and something I feel is really missing here.  The white/black/grey scheme - even with the red and turquoise accents - still reads 'cold' to me.

A reminder of what the kitchen used to look like...

You've come a long way, baby.

We want to replace the countertops with butcher block and put in wood kickboards as well, stained a lovely deep brown colour.  We want a new sink as well as a new cooker.  All these things are big ticket items, however, so we're saving to be able to purchase everything at once.

As an aside, I just wanted to say that we've had our open shelving now for quite a while and despite my initial fears of furry plates, it's not been any issue at all in terms of everything being 'out in the open'.  I think the very sage advice of not putting anything in open shelving that you don't use frequently is very true - it's rare anything is on the shelves long enough to collect dust or grease and on the odd occasion something has gone a little bit furry, it's just a quick wash and it's just fine, no different than something being in a cupboard for quite a while unused.

On the other hand, the slate flooring has been a bit of a nightmare.  While I do love the look, it gets very filthy VERY quickly and I feel like I'm forever cleaning it.  Proper high maintenance. Whilst it's difficult to tell in the pics, it really needs to be thoroughly scrubbed and re-sealed but as W is currently doing a lot of work in the cellar, it's a bit pointless because as soon as it's cleaned, there are dusty footprints scattered over it.  A never ending battle in a home where there's always some project or another!

So what do you think of the changes?

By the way, if you are new here (and if you are, why hello there you sexy thang! Thank you for joining me!), you can read about my kitchen design influences here, discovering the hidden ceiling here, tearing it down here, putting up the plasterboard and pendants here, plastering here, putting in the cooker hood, the backsplash and tiling here and putting up the open shelving here, installing the crown molding and the risers here, finally painting the cupboards and replacing the hardware here and installing the underfloor heating and the slate floor tiles here.   
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