It’s time to do an office spring clean – new shelves are the new me – or at least they will be with the 50 shades of blue accents and boxes in every color of Farrow & Ball.
I’m not naturally tidy – in fact I would go so far as to say I’m naturally messy. I could always relate to Mr Messy over Mr Tidy as a child. This trait has driven my OCD husband crazy for 21 years and is reflected in how pristine he keeps his studio. So the other morning I decided it was time to stop using my office as a dumping zone for anything and everything and to reclaim it – get it back with a new look and a whole new organized, clean, clutter free vibe. Let the spring clean begin.
I’m embarrassed to show you the before photograph above – especially since I know this was taken after I’d worked at it for several hours and had already removed 6 large bags of garbage! See how there are just bags, baskets, boxes, papers and detritus EVERYWHERE? It’s under the desk, piles of magazines under the sideboard, bags of Wool and the Gang kits (mostly unfinished), extra hot pink pussy hat yarn, piles of Liberty print Tana Lawn waiting neatly in bags to be stitched up… it’s what I call organized chaos. You can’t see the top of my desk or the floor. My desk was 10 times as covered as in the photo above before I started sorting! Eek! Forget sitting at the desk to work – the blue Wishbone chair (out of shot) has an 18 inch high pile of magazines, books, mail and goodness knows what on the seat . ENOUGH!
First stop – IKEA to buy wooden magazine racks for the papers, magazines and mail. I needed a filing system that appealed to me aesthetically so I decided to paint all the boxes with different shades of Farrow and Ball paint. Off I went to Farrow and Ball on Melrose and purchased three pots of my favorite colours – Lulworth Blue, Lamp Room Gray and Pitch Blue.
Then Didier sent me a picture of all his left over paint pots from when he remodeled his studio.
I was in Farrow and Ball 50 Shades of heaven thanks to Didier’s obsessive investigation of every color. With Mizzle, Stiffkey Blue, Cooks Blue, Green Ground, French Gray, Pavillion Blue, Wevet, Borrowed Light, Cornforth White, Pale Powder, Manor House Gray, Ammonite, Parma Gray and Dimpse, to add to the Lulworth Blue, Pitch Blue and Lamp Room Gray I set about the boxes.
I ordered two of the Stairway ladder 96″ bookcase from CB2, which arrived in 4 big boxes, 2 extra long but not heavy and 2 that were so heavy I couldn’t lift them in to the house. I texted my friend Toby, the man who designed and built our house, to ask if he could spare two men to help me screw the shelves together. Twenty minutes later Julian and Juan arrived, drill and level in hand and they set about constructing the shelves very carefully. They used the cardboard boxes they had arrived in to protect the hardwood floor and methodically worked their way through one shelf and then the other.
The shelves attach to the wall at the top and then just rest on the floor either side. Juan asked how much they cost – $399 each – because they were so solid and well made. The chaps tidied up everything, removed all the packing matrial and vacuumed up the dust and debris from the wall holes they had drilled before they departed.
Let the fun begin… I had sorted out papers, magazines, bills, memorabilia, statements etc and placed them in different boxes. I haven’t figured out quite how I’m going to label each one – but they are along the bottom shelf and easily accessible for future filing – plus they look so great.
Next up I made a couple of piles of my favorite books – novels, poetry, cookbooks, coffee table books, film history, biographies and photo albums – and a pattern began to emerge – I was gravitating towards the blue ones. And then a few favorite family photos, drawings, flowers, silver and butterflies and the shelves really came together.
Below is the book I published through Blurb of the recipes from Provence, Summer 2014, Living with Pattern, Color Texture and Print at Home, given to me by Lauren Levine with is super inspiring, Novel Interiors by Lisa Borgnes which if you haven’t read you are in for a treat – sub heading which I love “Living in Enchanted Rooms Inspired by Literature”, Remodelista for inspiration on interiors, and Living in Provence – because that’s the dream. There’s the shoe that Minty used to wear and that Candice Bahouth covered in broken china mosaic and the butterfly that my friend Annabelle Lee Carter gave to me and I added another. There’s the white standing L from Lisa Rowe – L is for LOVE.
A blue cake stand from Vintageweave, our wedding photo in a Tiffany silver case, my favorite hedgehog friend from Malibu Beach House at Trancas Market, the family portrait from Marseille by Jennifer Vallez, a photograph of my grandmother, a bouquet of camellia’s from my garden in my silver baby cup with CP from the Provence flea market, butterflies from Deyrolle in Paris, vintage Cannes photographs in a little book, matches, Hérmes how to tie a scarf pack, Paul Smith notebook and a tiny Mother poem on a plate from the Rose Bowl flea market.
I need a stack of Everyman’s Library pocket poetry to get me through any given day – I’ll dip in about out of Frost, Yeats, Browning et al, here’s a photograph of me as a toddler that I believe was taken by my Grandfather Edward Tangye Lean and which Didier calls ‘Stepping Out’, my LOVE sculpture from Claudia and a few of my favorite Persephone Books in their chic dove grey covers.
A snow globe from Marseille, a photograph of baby Rémy chasing Minty down the track in the meadow at The Farm, a selection of beautifully designed blue covered Penguin classics hardcovers, War and Peace, Vanity Fair, A Christmas Carol and Franskenstein and on top my book of Mary Pickford’s novel – Demi Widow. Standing up are my two favorite David Lean books – the definitive and authorized biography by my friend Kevin Brownlow – that’s extra special to me because it’s full of family history and then David Lean an Intimate Portrait by GT (Grande Tante) – Lady Sandra Lean.
It’s almost Easter so I had to include the Easter Bunny in her tutu and fur stole – and an egg sitting on a mini champagne bucket! Some keys from the brocante in Provence, a silver cup I won at a shooting party and my blue boxes of Symtheson of Bond Street notecards.
Up top is another Easter Bunny dressed as the Marseilles that I gave Didier for christmas and he was well and truly unimpressed – talk about gift fail! But the Russian dolls were the first Christmas gift he ever gave me with a Tiffany diamond necklace in the middle instead of the smallest doll – yes he was a keeper! There’s the blue ribbon I won riding in a dressage competition on my favorite horse who is sadly no longer with us. And there’s my pop doll of Hillary Clinton to remind me of what could have been – such a shame America messed up.
I’m in love with the Beatrix Potter 150 years stamps that my sister Hettie gave me for Christmas and the blue John Derian L from Geraldine which I treasure. Next to it is the John Derian Picture Book that I bought as a gift for me because I just fell in love with it, same goes for the Timorous Beasties special covers in the Birds and the Bees for the Vintage Classics, H is for Hawk. Sometimes I judge a book by its cover.
It was such fun putting the shelves together and I know I’ll have fun in the future if I decide to switch up the color – I’m thinking a bright yellow for Summer and perhaps a rich orange for Autumn and maybe I’ll go all out and do white for winter, a white christmas? For now I’m loving my new shelves and all the inspiration they hold.
Gallery of Photos of 50 Shades of Blue – it’s all in the details
Let me know if it’s just me or if you too feel like Spring Cleaning in 50 shades of blue… and let me know your favorite books that you have to have to hand in the comments below.