‘Playing house’ is one of the more fun adult games. But furnishing a home from scratch is a gradual process and after you’ve bought a property your budget might not stretch to your dream collection. But it is important to dream. Here’s our inventory of things we’d pick to transform a house into a proper home.
When it comes to entertaining we prefer cosy kitchen suppers over stuffy, stiff white tablecloth dining. That said, our kitchen is a bit of a performance space and it’s access all areas. Everything is on show – handy when it comes to reaching for a utensil or when guests help with undoing the dishwasher. In summer, patio doors open to the terrace, doubling the size of the room. It’s not a precious space; it’s somewhere that instantly conveys the love of good food, hospitality and taste to anyone who drops by.
Mesa kitchen by Alfredo Häberli for Schiffini. Combining wood with ceramic tiles and metal, this is a 21st-century take on the rustic farm kitchens of yore. It’s giant, tactile and built to last a lifetime or two.
A round-edged dining table by Ercol. Round edges are more friendly when it comes to dining and this model by Ercol has a handy butterfly extension leaf for when 15 friends drop by instead of five.
Garten chairs by Thonet. We’ve opted for these indoor/outdoor chairs by Thonet, which avoid the formal chintz of an upholstered dining chair but are far more comfortable than a backless stool.
Inga Sempé’s w103 lights for Wästberg. A perfect option for over-the-kitchen-table lighting which should (always) be dimmable. It provides a neat talking point for tricky dinner guests.
Hakusan and Hasami crockery with Plus Minus Zero appliances. If your tableware and appliances are going to be on show, they have to be beautiful. Our crop comes from Japan, where sensibly sized appliances by Plus Minus Zero, sit with delicate porcelain from Kyushu.
hasamiyaki.jp; Plusminuszero.jp; hakusan-shop.com
Our living room is long and open but divided into zones with different functions. An oak floor, preferably by Danish firm Dinesen, is easy to keep clean and gets better with age. A mixture of natural materials – leather, cane, wool, wood, brass and the odd bit of greenery – makes it feel human. A mixture of heights prevents it feeling sterile. A wood-burning stove is at the heart of it, providing warmth and smell to fill the rest of the house. There’s ample space to entertain 30 for festive drinks, but you never feel lonely if it’s just you and the cat.
A handmade, leather-upholstered sofa by Osaka-based furniture firm Truck. Though we’d normally opt for wool or cotton upholstery, this is more like sitting on a cloud than a cheap rented car seat.
838 Veliero bookcase by Franco Albini for Cassina. This is an heirloom piece – a feat of engineering in glass and brass that acts as showstopper and room-divider in one.
Pelican chair by Finn Juhl in grey wool. As much a sculpture as a piece of furniture, this is perfect for curling up with a good book under an adjustable floor light by Santa Cole.
Wooden lamps by Bunaco and a smattering of cushions by Svenskt Tenn. Large spaces are easily divided into more manageable nooks with soft table lights. We favour Bunaco for its natural woody, glow. Similarly, bursts of colour from Svenskt Tenn’s ageless fabric prints will do the trick nicely.
A handmade woollen rug by Kasthall. Though underfloor heated wood will never leave your toes chilly, a beautiful big rug is good for breaking down the woody expanse.
The bedroom is a place for sleeping, dressing and the occasional lie down of a rainy afternoon under a blanket with the radio. Space is key here, as is storage. The opposite of the kitchen, where we like things to be on show, in our bedroom we want clothes, shoes and files of old important bits to be neatly tucked away. Unlike the majority of developers who believe a bedroom is not a bedroom without an ensuite bathroom attached, we’ve opted for more space in our actual bedroom and the far-from-inconvenient pad down the hall to take a 02.00 pee.
A walnut bed by Ceccotti Collezioni. Open space between the bed and the floor and the bed-head and the wall gives the illusion of more space and makes it easy to clean.
A wall of Montana’s shelves and drawers. Customisable and available in far more colours than the rainbow, there’s no need this Danish storage powerhouse can’t satisfy.
Bedside setting. For the bedside we’ve chosen George Nakashima’s rugged slab-of-wood side tables, paired with a Josef Frank lantern light for Svenskt Tenn. Enough space for a small pile of books and a glass of water – and enough light to finish that thriller if you’re having a sleepless night but don’t want to wake your bed partner.
Edmund sofa by BDDW. Besides the statement bed (though of course comfort trumps looks there), we’ve splashed out on an elegant sofa by American modern craftsmen BDDW. Perfect for whiling away time while your other half soaks in the bath.
Valet by Classicon, mirror by Pinch and standing lamp by Azucena. Though the bedroom is not overly decorated, some nods to old school glamour in the shape of a beautiful brass light, an oversized oval wooden-framed mirror and a stainless-steel butler valet keep it filled with character.
classicon.com; pinchdesign.com; azucena.it
Our bathroom takes its cue from the Japanese, who are still streets ahead of the rest of the world (bar, perhaps, the Finns) when it comes to indulging in wellness and water. Space, wood, plants and natural light create an atmosphere conducive for splashing and soaking. No day can start properly without a powerful shower. Too often we’ve banged our elbows on small cubicle doors, hence choosing here to go for the “wet room” effect – perfect concept, horrid name. Meanwhile, downstairs we’ve turned our wide hallway into a makeshift home office.
Wooden bath by Nendo for Bisazza. Though a good dunk in an oversized enamel tub is lovely, for a truly elemental experience, bathing in wood is tough to beat. Nendo’s design for Italian firm Bisazza takes the Japanese custom and adds a contemporary touch, complete with matching storage.
Marble font by Mangiarotti for Agape. This reissued marble font basin by Italian bathroom specialist Agape will elevate even the simplest of daily tasks, like teeth-brushing and face-washing, and make them seem transcendental.
Tractor stools by Bassam Fellows. A stool next to the bath is perfect for a loved one to join you for a natter.
String shelving system. Down in the hallway this Swedish classic will serve every need as a storage solution and a mini home office. We’ve paired it with a screw stool, which can be neatly tucked away out of office hours.
Pirkka bench by Artek. Ilmari Tapiovaara’s sturdy little Pirkka bench is a welcome hallway perch for taking shoes on and off.
Outside comes into its own in summer, but that’s not to say it doesn’t get its fair share of attention in colder months too, notably the sauna and the wood-fired outdoor tub. Some of the greater feasts have taken place under the chilly winter sun too. And, so long as it’s not raining, there can be no greater pleasure than lying down under an alpaca blanket, feeling the cold air on your face.
A perennial favourite is the wood-fired hot tub by Dutch firm Weltevree. The reward for chopping logs and lighting the fire comes as hours spent splashing around in the nude with just mother nature for company.
An outdoor kitchen by Röshults. The Swedes do outdoor dining very well indeed – this generous model is perfect when knocking up a giant barbecue for summer evenings, without needing endless trips indoors.
Rocker by Ernest Race. A good rocker is a must for the terrace and we’ve chosen post-war designer Ernest Race’s model. For dining we’ve gone with Luca Nichetto’s Railway table for de Padova and simple, practical Another Country benches.
racefurniture.com; depadova.it; anothercountry.com
Hasami planters. Green fingers don’t come naturally but we’re trying to cultivate a seasonal splash of colour in our ceramic planters. And if our tomatoes fail (again) at least the planters themselves are pretty enough to look at.
Berga loungers, deckchairs and hammocks. Living among trees cries out for a sturdy hammock for afternoon snoozing. Even the roudiest of children will soon be comatose while rocking in the wind.