Friday Fun: The Courtauld Gallery

The Courtauld Gallery (which I seem to pronounce differently from everyone else in the UK) is a beautiful little gem, no longer quite as well hidden as it used to be when I was a student at King’s and could access it during my breaks. Covering an entire wing of Somerset House (plus modern extensions), it boasts a splendid art collection, particularly of 19th century painters. Most recently, it hosted an exhibition of portraits by Chaim Soutine, which struck me by their compassion for the suffering and boxed-in feeling of the working classes, service staff that most hotel visitors ignore (even nowadays). I don’t often feature art, because I think the colours go all wrong online, but here are a few samples.

The Little Chef by Soutine.
The Bellboy by Soutine.
The Chambermaid by Soutine.
Other paintings from the permanent collection: German expressionist painter Gabriele Münter: Portrait of a Young Woman with a Large Hat.
Degas ballerina.
The building is beautiful too: the staircase.
And even the floor details.
Last, but not least, on a sunny day, the basement cafe is delightful

Friday Fun: The Windows Have It

You can’t get enough daylight in winter, especially if you are stuck in a basement office, so here are some houses that use windows in a creative way, to give you the illusion of more space.

Scandinavian, of course! From
Townhouse in Ghent, from
The mastery of Japanese narrowness. From
House in Rock Creek, US, from ArchDaily.
A Japanese house that gives me vertigo just looking at it, from The
The heaviest glass doors you can imagine, from


Friday Fun: Cosy Fireplaces

Now that Christmas is over, our thoughts naturally turn to partying with friends at a chalet high up in the mountains after a great day of skiing. Well, mine do anyway, if I had all the time and money in the world. Of course, my kind of partying involves a cosy fire, great views, delicious food and pleasant discussions about books, art, music and theatre.

Having had a stove in our house in France, I can vouch it is a wonderful way to warm up the room. No fireplace is complete without a pet, of course. From Home Building and Renovating magazine.
Ah, even better with a cat… From Bill’s TN Paradise.
A more minimalist Scandinavian feel to this one, from
Great Christmas atmosphere at this property in Northern Ireland, from Property Pal.
This picture seems to have been taken in summer, which is just wrong. Tom Cruise’s former property in Colorado, from
Ah, this one allows everyone to sit around the fire! French chalet from Design Mag.
The typical wood-heavy chalet look in Megeve, from Chalet Chatel.
We can’t see the fireplace in this picture, but I’m sure it matches the view. Chalet in Zermatt, from Luxury Ski Chalets.

Christmas Fun: The Weird and the Wonderful

Given that my Friday Fun posts are usually the most popular ones, I thought I would add one extra one this year for Christmas. Nothing to do with Christmas decorations (you’ll have had more than your fill of that on TV and in magazines and shops). Instead, I present: the most exotic houses I was able to find! Can you imagine living in a house like this?

The merging with the landscape house, from Pinterest.
The Shell House in Japan, from
A dome house in Florida, from
The curvy shiny house, from
Another glassfronted luxury mansion, with the fireplace outside. From Maison Jac Collection.
Spiral hole in the ground house from Vietnam designed by Vo Trong Nghia, from
Fincube, a nomadic house that you can collapse and take with you elsewhere, from Sutdio Aisslinger.
The noise must be somewhat deafening in this waterfall house, from
Cosy as a hobbit house, this Swiss cottage in Vals, From Pinterest.

Friday Fun: My Favourite Kind of Houses

Just in time for Christmas, it’s only right to show my true colours and admit that, although I like bold architecture in public buildings, I actually dream of living in a Georgian or Queen Anne house. I love the symmetry and uncluttered look of that period. See if you agree with me…

Georgian house in Wiltshire, from Tripadvisor.
Highgrove House, also known as Prince Charles’ residence. From The Fuller View.
A modernised mews cottage, most probably, from House & Garden Magazine UK.
The French are pretty good at this kind of architecture too. From Periwinkleliving on Tumblr.
The Americans have adopted it, of course, in the Colonial Style. From Williamslove.blogspot
Another French version of it from further south in Provence. From

And finally, this is what a (wealthy) Georgian Christmas would have looked like:

From the Jane Austen Centre.

Friday Fun: Country Cottages

When it gets snowy outside, these cosy country cottages with fireplaces seem like a dream come true. As long as you have food and drink, plenty of books and toilet paper to be snowed in. You might notice that most of these pictures were taken in summer… Still, it reminds me of what I love about the British countryside (although not all of them are British).

Holiday cottage in Bideford, Devon, from
French country cottage looks quite different, from
That’s the cottage we think of when we hear the word… at least in England. From Country Living.
You call it cottage, I call it mansion… From
More modern brickwork and no thatched roof, from
And the Welsh incarnation of a cottage, from Visit Wales website.
The quintessential American cottage, from a Maryland real estate agent website.
Weekend cottage in America, from

Friday Fun: When Money Is No Object…

Of course, if money were no object for me (and you, dear readers), I suspect we would just have simple but cosy living quarters above a huge and famous library. However, most wealthy people in the world seem to prefer the flashily obvious displays of wealth. So this is what money can buy you… And I have to admit some of them are not too shabby! (All pictures taken from the glorious Home Adore website).

So now you understand why they want their tax cuts…

Fairview residence at night, designed by Leslie Minervini.
Terrace of the same Fairview Residence – Bellevue, right?
Banyan Tree Residence designed by Choeff Levy Fischman. Multiple pools and lakeside mooring.
More modest house designed by Mercurio Design Lab, but it’s only for the weekend…
Front of the Mercurio house is surprisingly low key.
And if you want your private ski cabin, this one by Skli will do it for me.