Friday Fun: Home Libraries to the Nth Degree

Surely you haven’t got bored of me showing you magnificent home libraries and bookshelf possibilities? Here are a few recent favourites. I do hope I am not repeating myself.

Inbuilt shelves in my favourite colour, from Foxtail Books.
The tiles, plants and shelves makes this look almost like a courtyard library. From Apartment Therapy.
This Canadian home not only has the indispensable library ladder, but also colour coordination in the upper realm (where you probably go less frequently?) From hgtv.ca
The South African editor of Elle is a collector and has this wonderful gallery with shelves to house books and collections. From elle.fr
A cabin-like feel to this reading nook, from hometoz.com
Of course, I crave the truly palatial, like this gallery from Elle Decor.

Friday Fun: Writing Retreats

I was supposed to be setting off next week on a (self-made) writing retreat in the north of England. [This is beginning to look increasingly unlikely, but I am still hoping against all hope.] My first time away from home since Christmas 2019, a much-desired change of scenery and a chance to work peacefully on some new writing ideas. I’ve realised that most writing retreats seem to be monastic-style cells, with minimum of distractions, set in a pretty landscape, and perhaps with a comfortable communal area (and someone else preparing your food, ideally). Here are some which caught my eye.

Hawthornden Castle in Scotland is notorious for having bad Wifi and mobile phone reception – so you can’t do anything else except write. From hawthorndenliteraryretreat.org
But Scottish retreats can be quite modern and ecologically aware, such as this one at Cove Park. From AerogrammeWritersStudio.com
This place in the Arctic Circle in Norway has the reputation of being the northernmost writers’ and artists’ retreat. Photo credit: Katherine Sorgard.
Villa Sarkia in Finland is more traditionally built, but will also have your Nordic Noir fans’ hearts beating faster. From VillaSarkia on Tumblr.
The modernistic treehouses of the Jan Michalski Foundation in Switzerland have been calling to me ever since they were built.
But it’s not just Northern climes that offer tranquillity, as this place, Casa Wabi in Mexico, proves. From Architectural Digest.
The clean, modern lines of the architecture of Diane Middlebrook are obvious here at this retreat bearing her name in California. From RealCedar.com
At the other end of the scale, there is the beautiful Tuscan Villa Lena, from villalena.it

Friday Fun: The Historical Bedroom Edition

I have recently acquired a new mattress – after my back started telling me in no uncertain terms that the old one was knackered. I am somewhat sceptical still about the benefits of the much-lauded (and expensive) ‘mattress in a box’ Emma, but just think how much more expensive it might be to have one of the bedrooms below!

The Lincoln Bedroom in the White House – I really think the White House decor would not be to my taste, it is too opulent and faux-historical. From Galerie Magazine.
If you want a real historical bedroom, what about Hever Castle? From their website.
Hmmm, Josephine’s bedroom at Malmaison resembles a campaign tent – so that Napoleon would feel right at home? From Palaces-of-Europe.com
Bedroom in Faringdon House, described by Nancy Mitford in one of her novels. From House and Garden.
Edith Wharton’s bedroom at The Mount is very feminine – apparently, she wrote most of her work while lying in bed, although she had a perfectly stunning library/study downstairs. From Lit Hub.
I rather like the style of Syrie Maugham, interior designer to the stars (and yes, wife of Somerset Maugham). From Decorpad.
I have a weakness for Art Deco, so I couldn’t resist including this, although it’s a film set rather than a real bedroom: Gatsby’s bedrooom in the latest film incarnation by Baz Lurhmann.

Friday Fun: Reading in Your Library

I can downsize quite easily if I live all by myself – but I will need a special room just for my books, somewhere to read, write, and just admire all the imacculately arranged shelves. The ideal would be the Whatley family’s specially-commissioned library in Texas (first picture below), but some of the others might also do…

Isn’t this just the best? A dream! From Texas Monthly.
Not quite as many bookshelves, but not bad, with comfortable chairs and sofas for group reading. From doornob.com
If the above are too bright, here is a quieter, less glarey place, from 1stDibs.com
Another darker, cosier room, halfway between a boudoir and a library, from House Beautiful.
Love the way these bookshelves make use of everysingle bit of wallspace (the back wall is missing a few more shelves, though). From DecoratedLife.com
Less glamorous, but perhaps more achievable, this reading nook in a house available for rent on AirBnB.

Friday Fun: More Tiny Escapes

If you don’t have a garden or a big enough one for a shed, then these little chalets, huts, houses might tempt you – most of them are open to paying overnight guests.

Isn’t this a fairytale little forest hut? I might even look after the flowers for a week or two. From Onekindesign.com
A frame huts are the world’s easiest design, yet look stunning, from Riverwoodchalet.blogspot.com
If you hanker more after the beach rather than the forest, this Caribbean beach hut might be just the thing for you. Le Pirate Beach Club.
Sadly, the appeal of the British shepherd’s hut has been tainted by David Cameron’s association with it, but you can see why I originally loved the idea of it. From Fabulous Fleece Company.
Especially when you see how luxurious some of them are on the inside. From Stylist Magazine.
I can only imagine what my great-grandfather or my great-uncle would have made of such luxuries, from cottagesinsswaledale.com
The ones they lived in during the summer, when they took the sheep up the mountains, were more like this.

Friday Fun: Being a Film Star

Last week I headed back to my workplace for the first time in 18 months and mentioned that, despite the discomfort of commuting and fear of Covid, one of the absolute perks of my job is working an iconic building such as Senate House. I have always been an Art Deco fan, and the architect, Charles Holden, was clearly also influenced by the Bauhaus style when he proposed a grandiose scheme in the early 1930s. Lack of funding and the start of the war meant those plans were abandoned and only a small fraction was actually built. Nevertheless, it is an impressive building both inside and out, and has starred in many a film or TV series. You can find a full list of films, TV productions and advertisements in which the Grand Old Lady has played a part here, but I’d just like to highlight a few personal favourites.

The Ministry of War was actually located at Senate House during WW2 and inspired Orwell, so it’s only natural that 1984 should be filmed there. (And no, our Room 101 is not the same, although it seems to be popular with visitors.)
The tower of the library stood in for Gotham City Town Hall in at least two different Batman films.
One of the films I adored as a child (because of David Bowie and because it was far too naughty for my age) was The Hunger. Senate House was obviously Park West Clinic back in 1983. From British-Film-Locations.com
The Bodyguard TV series had one very explosive episode filmed in Senate House, when the PM (played by Keeley Hawes) gives a lecture at St Matthew’s College. The college library is of course Senate House Library.
The Cloisters, or passage linking the north and south wing of the building was the entrance to the American Embassy in the TV series Silent Witness. They were filming this when I went there for my job interview, so you can imagine my confusion.
I meaen… why couldn’t the interview have been the day that Cillian Murphy was filming Batman Begins?
I was very surprised to find out that Patrick Melrose’s hotel in New York City bore more than a passing resemblance to the central hall.
This is what it might look like on a more typical occasion such as graduation.

Friday Fun: Escaping to your writing shed

I am lucky enough to have a room of my own, a study, in my house. Yet I never stop dreaming of a little dream cabin or writing shed hidden somewhere in a (beautifully tended) garden, out of earshot of the house.

This might be the mansion of garden sheds, from Southern Living.
This looks lovely with climbing plants, but might be a bit too dark for actual writing, from Colorado Nest.
This is more suitable for reading rather than writing, but a treehouse is always lovely. From Bored Panda.
This looks more run-down and probably closer to how my garden might look, from Next Luxury.
Sheds were simply more beautiful in previous centuries, weren’t they? From itinyhouses.com
It’s the colour that makes this shed stand out – plus the little porch for reading (or if you are feeling more sociable). From Life in Sugar Hollow.

Friday Fun: Time to Move Indoors

It’s the end of the summer (for some of us) and so I leave the beautiful gardens and landscapes, and take you indoors. Please make yourselves comfortable on these sofas – although some of them look more comfortable than others. I love modern design, but I almost fear sitting down on some of these sofas for fear of messing up! (Incidentally, I am getting a new sofa soon, which may be why I am so receptive to these images, although it’s safe to say mine will be nothing like as grand as any of those below.)

This one in a house in Brisbane looks like something I might actually be able to afford, from ArchitectureNow.co.nz, photo credit: Tom Ross.
While this one looks more… aspirational. From Natuzzi.it
I had a white sofa once upon a time, before I had children or pets… From Interior Design Gallery.
This one has practical elements I can certainly get on board with! From OfDesign.com
This Belgrave town house has such airy rooms that more than one sofa might be required, from Helen Green Design.
Well, no one can accuse this room in Utah of being too white and bland. From thehearnes.com
If all of the above is too minimalist for you, English country house style is still alive and well. From Country and Town House, photo credit: Simon Upton
But this lived-in look appeals to me infinitely more, from Countrylife.co.uk, credit: Christopher Horwood.

Friday Fun: Dining with Friends

When the summer holidays are over and people gather back for school and work once more, I miss all of my friends who live in other countries. Since I am still cautious about travelling, I can’t go and see them, but I am imagining we are sitting and having endless discussions over dinner and wine in places like these.

Even in the heart of the city, you can create a little oasis, from Gardenista.
This lovely little street to paradise is on the Greek island of Lesvos. From Bored Panda.
If you enjoy your vine pergolas like I do, this terrace is enticing, from Apieceofrainbow.com.
It doesn’t always have to be a dining table, it can be a cosy chat between friends (although that fireplace feels like a bit of a waste). From Outside Modern.
My auntie’s chairs were a bit more solid, but this one reminds me a lot of her house. From Joyful Derivatives.

Friday Fun: Evia as it used to be…

Before the massive destructive wildfires last week, few people outside Greece had heard of the island of Evia. It is not really a tourist destination for British tourists (although it attracts a small proportion of German or French hikers or ecologists), despite the fact that it’s the second-largest island and quite close to Athens. For many Athenians, including my ex-in-laws, it is where their home village lies, so it is the place where my children have spent nearly all of their summer holidays, although the local beach was nothing to get excited about. I have to admit that I struggle with the very arid landscapes of most Greek islands in summer, but Evia is – or was, until recently – different: full of forests and pines growing all the way up the mountains, which reminded me of Romania. Sadly, that is the very reason why the fires spread so quickly, and why the northern part of the island has been damaged beyond recognition. So, this is less of a Friday Fun, more of a tribute to this beautiful island.

Vegetation practically reaching the sea, from CEOWorld.
Hard to believe this is Greece, with all the greenery. From Dreamstime.
But the inland is beautiful too, with lots of hiking trails among the woods. From Unsplash, photo credit Omar Ky.
Evia is famous for its honey, which was largely in the northern part of the island, so most of the hives have been destroyed. From Pinterest.
Evia is also famous for its walnut trees and this walnut tree orchard was for sale recently. (I also had to do my share of walnut gathering for the family harvest a decade or so ago.)

If you can bear to look at the state of it now, I highly recommend this photographic journal by Thodoris Nikolaou, who is a Chalkida, Evia local.