Thursday, 22 January 2015

The Colour Collaborative: January: Home


I was at a complete loss as for what to write this month since, as you know, we are between homes at the moment. While I feel at home here at my parents' house, it's not our home. Then, last weekend, we visited nearby Fort Nelson, a Royal Armouries museum: "Home of the Big Guns!" It was quite interesting if that's your thing - John, the kids and my Dad loved it. I wandered around thinking that all things military start to look very similar after a while until we came to two rooms, the mess and the kitchen. I stood in these rooms for ages, taking photos, leaning over the rope barriers, trying to take in the thoughtful restoration and exhibits. I think that, fundamentally, I am much more interested in how people live than how people kill each other.

These rooms are not homes, but they were your nearest thing to home comforts if you'd been stationed in this fort as a soldier in the 1890's. The mess is the room the soldiers used to eat, socialise and, judging by this room, sleep in. Look at the long sash windows, and the little fireplace in the corner. That battered wooden trestle table and the benches, the gas lamp, the sepia photographs and pictures, the utilitarian crockery...well, they wouldn't look out of place in an interiors magazine of the pared down, home-spun style.


Here is the laundry area. Oh, that scrubbed pine table and painted chair! The tin bath tubs and enamel sink, the washboards and wringer... it reminds me of one of those shops who specialise in reclaimed and salvaged vintage homewares. 


This is the kitchen area. Note the beautiful dresser, full to bursting with glazed earthenware pots; admire the cast iron stove and saucepans (how heavy they must've been when full of water); admire the vintage clock and charming rocking chair.



Now, I don't for one moment imagine the army kitchen looked anything like this when it was a working room, but I certainly appreciated the attention to detail in the representation that was on display.

(I don't mean to keep on, but will you look at those lovely old clothes irons above the fireplace. The row of wooden dolly pegs! The vintage kitchenalia hanging on the walls!!)


This style of plain, old fashioned kitchenware and furniture is very popular at the moment, and please don't think I'm mocking it - I love it as much as the next person. It's not very colourful though. But then these things weren't meant to be decorative, they were all about function: black, white, brown, cream, grey, (and the odd flash of copper, very "on trend"). And there lies the secret to their enduring popularity today - they are absolutely neutral. Whether your style is English Country, Modern Country, Rustic, Industrial, or "Scandi Chic" (I shuddered when I typed that), something from these rooms will no doubt fit in perfectly with how you choose to decorate your home.

I do wonder if the people who once used these everyday objects would fall about laughing at the thought that someone might want to spend £10 on a battered, chipped enamel spoon in a gorgeous little shop, or pay £25 for an old wooden fruit or bottle crate. I think the less an item was considered valuable or covetable then, the more we seem to value and covet it today. 



Look at these earthenware pots below. I'm sorry about the quality of the photo, I had to zoom in quite a bit. I love these, love their warm colours and gently rounded shape. 


My mum has stacks of these pots. She's been collecting them for about twenty years because she likes them. Most are plain, some have writing on from when they held contents like ginger beer, and she has a jug which I seriously have my eye on. I've told her they're really popular at the moment and that, if she want's to err...refine her collection, then I'll happily home some of her rejects. Just as soon as I have a home of my own that is. 

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Don't forget to visit the other Colour Collaborative blogs for more of this month's posts, just click on the links below:

Annie at Annie Cholewa
Sandra at Cherry Heart
Jennifer at Thistlebear
Claire at Above The River

And January's guest poster, Bee at the The Linen Cloud.


What is The Colour Collaborative? 

All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when a group of them work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a colour related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about colour in new ways.





27 comments:

CJ said...

I love nosing around the kitchen and staff areas of places as well, they are some of the best bits. The old kitchenalia is fascinating isn't it. I actually have a mincer a bit like the one you've photographed! (Without the rust though!) It's an intriguing glimpse of life gone by, I love it. And I do hope some of your mum's earthenware pots find their way to your new home. CJ xx

Joanne Wilson said...

I think I would also stay behind to take photographs of kitchen than explore the rest. I do find old kitchens fascinating and often make my way to that part of the house first if we are visiting an older place. Loved the details that you picked up. x

Amy at love made my home said...

A very hard subject indeed for you this month, but this is a great take on the subject and really shows that a home is what you make it and that you can set up home anywhere! Places like this are so fascinating aren't they. Like you I would have looked for ages at all the different things that are on display. A very interesting and lovely post, thank you for sharing! xx

Cleo Bonbon said...

Lovely pictures and they are very evocative. I wonder if we value things that we valued the least in the past more now because there was so much less chance of them surviving?
I have a small collection of bottles that are 'displayed' on the fireplace of our Lancashire range, i love that bit of a house the most and it was actually one of the main reasons we bought the house!
Hope your house hunt is going well!

Anonymous said...

Hi Gillian, I have had a blogging break while I moved house and didn't realise you were doing the same! Good luck with your new home search and I am glad the kids are settling in well. Mine start their new school next week and I am nervous for them. Lovely photos of the museum kitchen by the way, what an amazing find. Nice to get inspiration for your new abode. Good luck with it all x

Michelle makes and bakes said...

What a lovely post, I always find old kitchens so interesting, where I work we have a museum that houses a old kitchen with similar items, I could send ages in there, thanks for sharinxx

Jennifer said...

Oh, I love visiting places like this. When I was a child, we used to have school trips to a house that had been built in the 1680's and it was the highlight of the school year for me, seriously. We could even try things in the kitchen; the docents helped us make johnny cakes on the hearth once! I adore old kitchen so much. The one you've shared is so timeless in its style. I really love how functional everything seems. I had to laugh at "Scandi chic," though. What in the world? Dala horses everywhere, even the ceiling! :)

Lisa said...

This is one place we've never got to as it's not easily accessible by public transport so thanks for sharing your photos. I bet it was all a good deal muckier when it was being used and lived in but you are right so many items would be coveted today.
The neutral tones are very calming indeed.
Lisa x

Barbara said...

What a great post, I really loved the irons lined up on the shelf. I have two of my Grandma's flat irons, one numbered 5, the other 7 - wonder if they were different weights for different fabrics?

Susan Smith said...

Lovely post and I also love seeing how people once lived. I especially love the collection of small bottles inside the dresser. Can you imagine doing all your washing in a tub with a washboard and then putting it all through the mangle. Ugh! Take care.

Angel Jem said...

What an interesting twist for a post on home! It's good to remember how people lived to know both how far we've come and how far from homey we can get. The need to nest and to be 'at home' is such a basic human instinct, and we all have a different take on what makes a home.
I love the photo of the mess. I could live there now! There is such a timeless quality about it.

Annie Cholewa said...

Big old kitchens are such fscainating places, and you're right, a lot of their appeal is in the pared down colours.

I'm excited for you that you'll have a new home of your own to put your stamp on soon, I hope the hunt for that home is going well x

VeggieMummy said...

Fascinating pictures. I always love looking at old kitchens too and it seems I'm not alone! Hope you get a home of your own sorted soon. Happy house hunting. x

Le comptoir de Stephanie (FunkySteph) said...

Beautiful pictures, indeed fascinating to imagine that army soldiers were living there... It has a lovely feeling...

Librarian said...

I understand very well why you spent more time in these two rooms than anywhere else! Whenever I am in such a place, I can't help but think of the extremely hard work that was going on there back in the day, every day, with very little chance to rest, low pay and generally just very tough conditions.

Pema Brunet said...

Nice post. I have been to Fort Nelson a couple of times as we live near there but as I had a toddler in tow I don't think we stopped long enough to look at these rooms. We mainly admired the large café with the domed roof that has a small circular window at the top. Guns and killing aren't really my thing either. My son named it "the tellytubby café." My friend from toddler group protested "but tellytubbies aren't on CBeebies any more!". They aren't...but that doesn't stop us possessing a vintage tellytubby toy and DVD! Vintage is the way forward. Quality.

Jan Doling said...

Fort Nelson looks fascinating - like you, I would be more interested in how the people lived rather than the military paraphanlia. I love the shelves full of stoneware jars and all the laundry items.

Sandra (Cherry Heart) said...

I find these sorts of rooms quite fascinating to look at. Especially when they put all of those lovely details in. It's hard to imagine just what it would have been like even so though.

S x

Jacqueline said...

Thank you for sharing this interesting post. When we're out and about we often have a nosy around antique shops and bric a brac stalls. I'm not too interested in the big expensive things but really enjoy looking at kitchen ware. I think because I invariably see something my grand mother would have had in her house. In the early 60's she still had a mangle outside and I can remember her using it and a wash board.

Curvywitch said...

Amazing pictures. I can breeze my way through any number of lounges, salons and sitting rooms of stately homes but as soon as I hit the kitchen, pantry or still room that's it I am lost in minute examination of these wonderful places. It seems that every corner and shelf is filled with interesting and beautiful tools and vessels and I am reminded again and again of William Morris' tenet that all things should be useful and beautiful. It seems to me that these simple objects of everyday use are just that and perhaps that subconscious understanding is why we still value them.

Ali Whale said...

I love kitchens the best in any historic house I visit and that's nothing to do with cooking they are just packed full of interesting stuff. Last year I bought one of those 1/3 pint milk bottles as a vase. When I was teaching we had them in the classroom every day. Now they are vintage and come at a cost.
I think the lack of colour in these rooms just highlights the objects within, plus I suppose it's authentic!

Alison said...

What a great kitchen, I could stop for ages looking at all the things in there. x

the linen cloud said...

I love places like this. I could stay for hours poring over all the little details. I quite like the utilitarian look of the kitchen. I can just imagine all the hubbub when it was in full use. Hope your home hunting is going well and you find your perfect house soon. Bee xx

Katharine A said...

Love your take on a military museum. It's probably what I'd focus on too. Not sure the men (it probably was men?) who lived and worked there appreciated how beautiful all their kitchen things were. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say. Thanks for sharing, I'm going to put that place on my list of places to visit.

Julie said...

That looks like my kind of place to visit and it's so great that they let you take photos. Love the enamel jugs and the row of irons, x

mags said...

What a great room. I love the old cream pots, I love the idea of the milkman filling your pot with cream and it must have been such a treat! Really enjoyed this post Gillian. Xx

Anonymous said...

My oldest son is mad about all things military and we've been to Fort Nelson several times (along with many, MANY, other military museums in the UK and Normandy). But they didn't have all that fascinating stuff last time we were there! Like you I'm more interested in how people live than fight so maybe I'll allow myself to be persuaded to go again sometime soon. Your post also reminded me that I've got three of those old brown storage jars hidden away somewhere, must get them out on show! Nicky S.