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Where can I find a period fireguard?
Often known as nursery fireguards because of their height and encompassing width, period examples are sometimes available from dealers in antique fireplaces such as Westland London or from nationwide dealers who show their stock at Antiques Atlas. For a fine replica modelled on a Victorian fireguard, look at the Penrose Deluxe firescreen (pictured), with black mesh and antiqued brass base and top rail, £690 at Chesneys. Another is the Large Brass Fender, £1,140 at Jamb, which replicates an early 19th-century nursery fireguard with its finely worked mesh and brass detailing. Products from wirework specialists, Garden Requisites, include a traditional nursery fireguard handmade in the UK from £250. Bespoke sizes can be made to order.
I am looking for urn-shaped lamps similar to those in the Herberts? house (March issue).
The Herberts bought the lamps several years ago from Casper Slieker but they are no longer in stock. The large Harewood lamp base (pictured), H59cm, is similar in style and shape. In distressed natural wood, or with a black finish, it costs £174, excluding shade, from Oka For a handsome plain urn base, look at the Classic Cherrywood Urn, H54cm, from £640 at Besselink & Jones or check out the elegant Amalfi table lamp in Charcoal, a recent addition to the lighting range at William Yeoward Measuring H60cm, it costs £755.
I?d love a big round wooden mirror with a carved frame similar to one in a house in
your April issue. Can you help?
That mirror was a wedding present over 25 years ago. The nearest I can see is the Country mirror, attractively carved but smaller at 48cm by 43cm, and priced at £195 from Casper Slieker. Two large mirrors in reclaimed wood with no carving but considerable presence are worth a look. The Round Wooden mirror (pictured) measures 84cm diameter and is £298 from Decorative Mirrors Online, while the Buckingham mirror, 100cm diameter, is £175 from Neptune.
I?ve seen a chunky round knitted seat that would be perfect for my children. It was in grey, but I would prefer it in a much brighter colour.
Pouffes are also called poufs and pods on websites, so try alternative spellings when making a search. The ones listed here, in knitted cotton rope, some plain, some cable knit, are designed as occasional seating and footstools. Nordic House stocks cable-knit poufs, 50cm diameter, in Lime Yellow and Vintage Blue, for £139.95, as well as Large Outdoor poufs (pictured), made in polypropylene, 85cm diameter, in Summer Orange and Anthracite, £250 each. Habitat has the Knot pouf in Cobalt Blue or Pigeon Pink, 50cm diameter, £100. The Pod in Ochre at Next is 60cm in diameter and costs £120. If you fancy red, try the Rope pouffe, 43cm diameter, £120 from John Lewis.
I like to team a printed bottom sheet with other bedlinen in white, but my existing fitted sheets, which came from America, are worn. Where can I find new ones?
The following designs all co-ordinate with a pattern on a duvet cover and pillowcase. Yves Delorme has Lolarose (pictured) and Lolableu with a fitted bottom sheet in a pink or blue windowpane check that matches pillowcases. A standard double fitted sheet costs £159. Olivier Desforges at Biju Home offers several discreet patterns, including Baptiste fine stripe; Engardine red check; and Siam, with a smart broken-line motif in White on Grey, all from £60 to £80 for a standard double fitted sheet. Biju Home also stocks Souleiado's Provençal bedlinen with the pattern on the reverse of the duvet cover, also available as a fitted sheet. A standard double costs from £60 to £65. Harrods stocks more printed flat sheets than fitted (including a range from Schlossberg), but its tailoring service turns flat sheets into fitted ones for £20 per sheet.
I'm looking for a pitcher similar to one my friend bought years ago and uses for flowers.
You'll find galvanised pitchers like this at Grand Illusions, in three sizes: 27cm high, £9.50; 26cm high, £10.50; and 40cm high, £15.95. Liberty stocks a 22cm-high zinc jug (pictured) for £15.95. Also take a look at Sharland & Lewis, which often has a selection of old zinc pitchers, including French ones.
The original 1840s decorative cornice in our hall has been over-painted many times, obscuring the detailing. What will remove the paint without damaging the plasterwork, and what is the best paint to use once it is removed?
The best way to remove layers of old paint from a cornice is the poultice method using a product such as Kling-Strip, an alkali-based paste designed for removing built-up layers of oil- and water-based paints, as well as stains and distemper in one procedure. The product is applied with a trowel and covered with thin polythene to prevent evaporation. It must be left to work through the layers which, for a cornice such as yours, is likely to take a number of days. To familiarise yourself with the method, order a tester pack priced at £8, which comes with full instructions, from Strippers Paint Removers. The preferred finish for repainting a period cornice is soft distemper, which is a mixture of chalk, water and a small amount of size. This is a good choice for architectural detailing because it can be removed with a sponge before it?s re-decorated, preventing the detail from becoming clogged and losing definition. Soft Distemper costs £42 for 5 litres from Strippers Paint Removers and comes in white, with tints also available.
I'm decorating bedrooms in our new house and would like to find colourful quilts to team with white duvets. The quilts could be plain, patterned or even antique.
Designers Guild has a collection of quilts in delectable colours. Among these is Chenevard, a reversible silk quilt that combines two plain colours with the company's characteristic flair. Try Lavender and Violet (pictured), Slate Grey and Pale Rose or Fuchsia and Lime, available in two sizes: standard, £375, and large, £475. For vibrant Indian quilts, take a look at Maharani, where prices start at £175. Find the largest selection of antique 19th- and early-20th-century quilts, plain wholecloths, patchworks, paisleys and floral patterned quilts, most in the £200 to £400 range, at Jen Jones.
Where can I find framed butterfly prints similar to one I saw in your October issue?
That print (pictured) was one of four, each featuring a different species of butterfly. Each print measures 70x100cm and costs £44.95, unframed, from Rockett St George Trowbridge Gallery also has a good selection, with some prints featuring individual butterflies as well as composite pictures illustrating a group. Other sources include Arc Prints and Easyart
Our house has rendered exterior walls painted white, with brick over-painted in terracotta below the ground floor bay window. I?d like to paint that area in a mid to deep grey. Can you suggest one that is neither too cool nor a green-grey or blue-grey?
Grey always carries an element of colour unless it?s a mix of black and white, which you might find too cool. You could look at soft brown-greys such as Pumblechook, £47.50 for 2.5 litres, or Amber Gris, £49 for 5 litres, from Fired Earth; Light Gray, £49 for 5 litres, from Farrow & Ball; and Crag Grey, £47 for 2.5 litres, by Sanderson. If none of these is deep enough, try Fig Grey, £42 for 2.5 litres, by Zoffany, or Lead Colour 117, £47 for 5 litres, from Little Greene.
Where can I find animal-themed decorations? This year I'd like to decorate a Christmas tree for the children with an animal theme. Where can I find an interesting mix of creatures and styles?
There are animal decorations in a great variety of sizes, shapes and materials to start your menagerie. Joanna Wood has intriguing bristle decorations, including a mouse and a rabbit, £5.99 each; a bear, £10.50; and a feathered bird and eggs in a twig nest, £3.90. The Boiled Wool Polar Bear, £4.50, from John Lewis is a well-designed piece. There, you'll also find a Snowy Owl in blown glass, £3.50. Once the tree comes down, the children will want to adopt Frosty, a sausage dog clad in tartan or red check, £6.50, from House of Fraser You'll find another cheeky dog and a red felt squirrel, £4.50 each, at Cath Kidston An exceptional range of traditional glass tree decorations, hand-blown in Germany, is stocked by Catherine Shinn Many are made only for her shop using moulds handed down through generations. There are several styles of bird, including Bird of Paradise, with a real feather tail, for £5. The papier-mâché animals (pictured), £8 each at Daylesford are also very special. The simple shapes capture the personality of each perfectly.
A leaflet in the July issue of Homes & Gardens showed a room furnished with an unusual style of grandfather clock in one of the pictures. Do you know where I can find one like it?
The clock that featured in the leaflet you came across is an antique Swedish Mora clock. This type of clock was handmade and no two are the same. The best collection can be found at Swedish Interior Design, which usually has around 50 such timepieces in stock dating from between 1800 and 1850 or earlier (pictured), with most costing from £1,000 to £3,000. For an additional charge, an electric mechanism or electric chiming mechanism can be fitted, or the original clockworks with pendulum can be cleaned, repaired and tested. Modern reproductions of Mora clocks are sold by companies such as Nordic Style. Its Mora clock costs £1,350 in Antique White; other paint finishes are available.
The door to the kitchen in our Victorian house has a panel of etched glass, which was recently damaged when our dog suddenly jumped up on it. Do you know who can provide replacement glass in this style?
Philip Bradbury Glass supplies a range of traditional and modern glazing patterns, including a number of Victorian sand-blasted repeating patterns similar in style to the design in your photograph. Pattern 7 in the Special Patterns range costs £270sq m and is a good match. The company supplies countrywide and, in the greater London area, can also fit.
Do you know who would make a painted wooden house name plate in black with classic lettering in white?
Wayne Osborne at Osborne Signs is one of the few traditional signwriters who still handpaints all the signs he produces. He can paint a wooden sign similar to the one in the picture you sent, with lettering in your choice of font, in white on black or any other combination of colours. Assuming the sign you require is a similar size to the one in your picture, it would cost around £75. If you like the idea of hand-lettering your own sign, Wayne also runs occasional one-day courses in signwriting, from £125, in his workshop in Midhurst, West Sussex. Call for next available dates.
Recently I bought two vase-shaped lamps for our 40cm-deep console table and, annoyingly, their full-size shades project beyond the table's edge. Do you know where I might be able to find half shades that would allow the lamps to be positioned further back on the table?
Jim Lawrence sells half shades in silk, suede, linen and parchment in neutrals and plain colours. There are three different styles: Penrose, gently tapered, 9cm deep, from £22.60; Carlyle (pictured), half circle, 16cm deep, from £24.90; and Hanbury, half rectangle, 10cm deep, also from £24.90. If the standard sizes are neither wide enough nor tall enough for your lamps, bespoke sizes can be made from one of the 200 fabrics in the company's range.
Our stairwell needs some big pictures to inject a bit of life but as we have just finished a major refurbishment our budget is seriously tight. Can you offer any suggestions?
Posters sold by art galleries and museums cover a wide range of imagery. They come in large sizes, typically 80x60cm or 100x70cm, and sell in the £10 to £13 price range. The Tate has a good selection, including exhibition posters from its four galleries, of 76x51cm at £7 each. There is also a collection from The British Library archive at British Library Prints, which includes Dandelion Seeds (above) by William Henry Fox Talbot, £45 for a 100x75cm print. Also look at Easy Art, which has thousands of prints at similar prices. Unless you opt for exhibition posters, be canny and choose those of less familiar works, allowing visitors to presume they are limited editions. The least expensive framing system is the clip frame. Find these in a range of sizes up to 100x70cm, £16.93,
Can you help me find tartan wall tiles to complement a set of Scottish watercolours?
Anta hand-paints 10cm square tiles in four designs, priced at £10 each. These are inspired by tartan's heritage rather than a specific clan. If you would prefer tiles in a particular tartan, send artwork or a piece of fabric or wallpaper, as reference for the design, to Art on Tiles. It can then be hand-printed on 12.5cm sq tiles. The price will usually be around £17 per tile for a minimum order of £100.
I'm looking for a round mirror at least 90cm in diameter to go above the mantelpiece
in the living room of an Edwardian country house.
A round mirror always looks good above a fireplace as it plays on the geometry of circle against rectangle. A simple classic style for an Edwardian context is the Circle mirror, framed in Antiqued Gold Metal Leaf. Measuring 104cm in diameter, it costs £358 from The Looking Glass of Bath. Other options include the PG1 Gilt Round mirror, diam91.5cm, which can be fitted with convex or flat glass, £975 from Overmantels. A little larger, with elegant twisted leaf shapes in its slender frame, is the Laurel mirror (pictured) in a French Brass or Burnt Silver finish, diam110cm, for £1,334, from Porta Romana.
I have a pair of decorative faience candlesticks that I?d like to convert into table lamps. They are hollow at the base. Who might do this?
Specialist W Sitch & Company believes that it is important to preserve the integrity of antiques and to ensure that the method of conversion is reversible. It will take an individual approach to each light conversion it does, always looking to ensure that the method used is reversible. Its conversion service costs from £96. The workshop at Ann's, 020 7937 5033, can also convert your candlesticks, either with the flex coming out the top or through a wooden base, or a bespoke base in polished or patinated metal. To convert a wooden base into a lamp costs from £95.
What is the best way to hang coats neatly in a hall? Is there a tidy way to hang a lot of coats near the front door?
A wall-mounted coat rack or peg rail can make good use of available space. The Suffolk Shelf by Neptune is a solid oak peg rail offered in three lengths. The longest, at 183cm, is fitted with 13 pegs and costs £165. Fitting individual hooks will allow more flexibility. The Canteen hook and knob (below) by Klauser and Carpenter has a large surface area to prevent damage to garments, and the backplate stops the wall being marked by hands when coats are hung up. These hooks come in six colours and cost £24 each from Twentytwentyone. This shop also sells Dots, a set of six variously sized hooks for coats, hats and scarves in Stained Ash or Natural Oak, which cost £95 for a set.
Why does the yellow paint we chose not work?
Our bedroom on the lower ground floor has small windows, so we painted the walls yellow for warmth, but the effect is surprisingly gloomy. What tint would work better with a pale corn-coloured carpet?
Yellow can be a tricky colour. It needs light, so it works best in big, bright spaces, not in small rooms lacking natural light. In the room you describe the colour is bouncing back on itself and darkening the space. Not all yellows are warm and it isn't always obvious from a small square on a paint card whether a particular shade carries a tendency towards green, which makes it quite cool. Your room needs a pale, warm, light-reflecting yellow, such as Tallow, with off-white Pointing on the ceiling and woodwork. Both cost £29.50 for 2.5 litres of Estate Emulsion, from Farrow & Ball.
I'm looking for table linen for Christmas with embroidery or a pattern to soften the look of our rather modernist china.
For tablecloths with colourful embroidery, try Parna, Sibona, has napkins with a snowflake, fir tree, ivy and other motifs. Or use a white linen cloth. Volga Linen, has many sizes. You could top it with a cotton lace from Rose's Mill, or with a runner in a bright print. Try Brocante Rose in Madder on White by my company Brocante Fabrics, or Lumimarja 885, a tree with blossom that resembles fairy lights, by Marimekko.
Is there a way to eradicate spots of iron mould from white cotton pillowcases? Also, how are they caused?
Iron mould stains are caused by metallic salts in tap water, which can turn to rust when items are in storage, particularly if there is residual damp. Remove rust stains, but only from white cotton and linen, with Ferrosolve, £6.50 plus £3.90 p&p, from Restore Products, a company that specialises in accessories for textile conservation. The solution comes in a dropper bottle making it simple to direct it onto each iron spot, which should first be made damp. After one minute the stain should have faded; if not, repeat the process. It is important to rinse the fabric thoroughly to remove all trace of the product.
In a house in your September 2010 issue, I saw a bedcover based on the American flag.
I'd like to buy one for my daughter. Can you help?
A similar quilt is American Flag Stars and Stripes at Homebird Interiors. Pieced and hand-stitched, it comes as a throw (122cm sq, £61.56) and single bedspread (172x228cm, £120).
I would like to have some bespoke shagreen desk accessories made as a present for my husband. Is there a craftsperson who would make them, preferably in pale green?
The leading specialist in shagreen furniture and accessories is Simon Orrell at Simon Orrell Designs. He will make accessories to order, from blotters to pen holders, and can obtain shagreen in any colour. You might also like the pale green shagreen desk accessories at Linley. Individual items are priced from £195; the complete desk set costs £1,365. There is also a range of faux shagreen accessories at OKA.
I'm missing a few pieces from a set of Oneida silver-plated cutlery that is more than ten years old. Is it possible to find items even if I don't have a pattern name?
Cutlery Search, does what the china-matching services do for china but for discontinued and missing items of cutlery. It was set up by Mary Crisp, an antiques dealer who began as a specialist in silver plate. She now holds thousands of items of cutlery in stock, including Viners, Royal Doulton, Wedgwood, Arthur Price, Old Hall, and of course, Oneida. Every stock pattern is shown on the website so, even though you don't know the name of the design, you should be able to identify it there. Oneida silver plate is priced at £10 for a knife; £8 for fork or dessert spoon, always sold as individual pieces. If you can't find the pattern, take a close-up photograph and send it to Cutlery Search, Gwelfor, Llangain, Carmarthen SA33 5AT for identification - this cannot be done by description over the telephone. Mary Crisp only sources branded designs but will search for items that she doesn't have in stock. She also buys cutlery of course.
Where can I find decorative clips that I can use on our tablecloths to stop them blowing in the breeze when we have lunch in the garden?
For something that will sparkle in the sunlight while weighting down the tablecloth, try the outdoor table clips with glass droplets, £12.50 for four from Cox & Cox. Others to check out are Stone Heart tablecloth clips, £11.95 for four, Velvet Brown, and Aged Ceramic tablecloth weights, £6.95 for four, Garden Boutique. For securing the tablecloth directly to the table top, Lakeland's transparent clips work on tables up to 5cm thick; £3.99 for four, Lakeland.
Using metal polish to clean the brass doorbell plate at the front of my house has marked the brickwork. Can you help?
Martin Brown of Strippers Paint Removers, suggests working methylated spirit into the bricks with a stiff brush and wiping off the residue with a cloth. If that fails, try his Stripper NB510 solution; a 0.5-litre trial pack costs £8. In future, try this furniture restorer's tip to avoid further staining the area when polishing metalwork: make a cardboard or clear acrylic template to fit around the brass, cut it in half to position it behind the plate and join it together with masking tape before you begin.
There's no equivalent to the fashion catwalk, so how do you find out what the latest interior trends are?
Events such as London Design Week, 13-18 March, and Decorex, 25-28 September, are both excellent barometers of new directions. But, as with fashion, several trends run in parallel. Consumer forecasters, such as Joanna Feeley at Trend Bible, work with experts to research other likely influences, from new films to major exhibitions. Predictions for 2011 and 2012 from her team include bright colours in unusual combinations; geometrics; and ethnic-style prints and weaves such as paisley and kelims. The 60th anniversary of the 1951 Festival of Britain will see a revival of 1950s designs.
I have a heavy antique mirror with no fixings on the back. Where can I find these?
Old French Mirrors supplies two types with its mirrors; you can order a pack, with instructions, for £5. For a wall-mounted mirror resting on a mantel, use the brass D-shaped plates to fix the mirror to the wall. For a wall-hung mirror such as the Rococo, £2,200, from Nicholas Haslam, attach metal strap hangers to the back on each side and fit these over the heads of screws drilled into the wall; no fixing shows and the mirror won't tilt. A large mirror in a high traffic area such as a hallway should rest on a slim batten to take the weight and be fixed to the wall with D-shaped plates.
Do you know where I can get my EPNS cutlery re-silvered?
Ideally, cutlery should be re-silvered by the company that manufactured it, because only that company knows the precise composition of the metal beneath. If you have the name of the company but don't know its current whereabouts, contact the British Cutlery & Silverware Association, 0114 252 7550, who should be able to tell you, providing the company still exists. To be re-silvered successfully, cutlery is stripped of its finish and re-plated in several stages, which is an expensive process. If you don't know the manufacturer, or the company is no longer in business, you could contact a plating company, such as Lathco of Sheffield. The contact there is Mark Latham. He would need a sample of the cutlery to assess its suitability for re-silvering, however, as not all cutlery can be improved to a significant degree. If it is established that it can be re-plated, a quotation will be provided with a price that is dependent on the thickness of the silvering and the number of pieces to be plated.
I am having trouble finding traditional marbled paper to line the inside of a cupboard. Can you help?
Victoria Hall, 01603 764411, hand-marbles sheets of 120g paper in historic patterns. For lining a cupboard she suggests Shell (above) because the small-scale pattern will conceal the joins when you stick the papers side by side. It comes in blue with red veins; yellow with red and blue veins; green with black, red and yellow veins; and a combination of browns. The largest sheet, 5.5x7.62cm, costs £8. Falkiner Fine Papers, stocks both machine- and hand-marbled papers in historic Italian, French and German designs, and many different marbling techniques. Hand-marbled paper measuring 5.1x7.3cm costs £9.40 per sheet; machine-marbled paper measuring 50x65cm costs £4.92.
I have uncovered a Victorian fireplace in my house. Although it has its upright tiles, some of the hearth tiles are missing. Could they be reproduced from a digital photograph?
Edinburgh Ceramics, prints images on tiles but explained that digital copies are not satisfactory for restoration projects, as they would look more like a photocopy than an accurate reproduction. Even working from an actual tile would not achieve the same quality of the depth of glaze. You might do better to intersperse the undamaged tiles with plain tiles in a co-ordinating colour. Stovax, makes glazed hearth tiles in colours commonly found in Victorian tile sets. They measure 6in sq, 6x3in and 1½x6in and cost from £1.85 each.
Our Edwardian armchairs need new feather-filled seat cushions. Who would make them to size and which quality of filling should we specify?
A local upholsterer may be able to help but a specialist in feather fillings for a countrywide clientele is The Feather Company. This family business makes up (and tops up) every kind of feather- and down-filled soft furnishing, from chair, window-seat and bench cushions to bolsters, duvets and pillows. Forward your old seat cushion covers to the company, or send a template in brown paper. The company can advise on doing this accurately. Choice of filling will depend on the level of support you prefer. Whichever you select, consider asking for an extra increment of filling; firm-filled cushions need less plumping and will last longer. A standard box-seat cushion measures 60x60x10cm and filled with feather and down costs £75; an 85 per cent down filling is £150, plus £4.95 on UK postage.
The labels on our new stainless-steel cutlery were stuck so hard that I used a kitchen scourer to get them off, but this dulled the area. I'm worried the cutlery will lose its brilliance, even if washed by hand. Can I restore the shine?
All mirror-finish stainless-steel cutlery will develop a patina with use, whether washed by hand or in a dishwasher. But if you have the patience, you can restore the dulled area with a mild silver polish, such as Silvo. Apply to a soft cotton cloth and work over the area. It will take about 15 minutes to bring back the shine.
I'm looking for a frameless 3x1m blackboard to go above units in my new kitchen. Do you know of a company that makes these?
MAJIsign supplies framed and frameless blackboards in special sizes. A frameless 3x1m board in 9mm MDF with a smooth matt finish would be sold in two 1.5m widths and cost £132.20, including delivery. Alternatively, fit MDF and apply blackboard paint. International Paints sells matt Blackboard Paint at £8.99 for 750ml. Prime first with International MDF Primer, £9.99 for 750ml, then apply the paint with a brush or small roller. Leave overnight to harden before writing on it with chalk. Clean with a soft damp cloth.
We'd like to cover the ceilings in our Victorian flat with Anaglypta or Lincrusta. Can you suggest suppliers?
CWV makes Anaglypta and the heavier linseed-oil-bound Lincrusta. Only use the latter if the ceiling can support its considerable weight; or consider embossed papers by Graham & Brown or the Albany collection at C Brewer & Sons. Hanging Lincrusta requires two people to work together; CWV can advise you of a local specialist.
I am looking for a finial, possibly Gothic in style, to add to a plain mahogany newel post on the stairs of our late-Georgian house.
Simple newel finials, also known as newel caps, are made in standard designs, such as collared ball, reeded ball and acorn, by stair component manufacturers, such as Dave Dalby Woodturning. Its newel finials are available in ash, oak, sapele or pine, from £3.00 plus p&p, and are supplied unfinished ready for staining or polishing. If you would like something more decorative, Winther Browne, offers hand-carved lime-wood artichoke, acanthus leaf and grape newel finials, ready for finishing, from £15, and can carve a bespoke design if you provide a picture for reference. Carvers & Gilders, can also be commissioned to design and carve a newel finial, and will also advise on a style consistent with your interior.
We have opened up a large fireplace and need a cast-iron fireback. Who has a good range?
Early firebacks were a sideline for foundries that cast cannon, and many made today are from moulds of designs that date back to the 16th century. Besides protecting brickwork, a fireback radiates heat, so choose as wide as or wider than the firebasket. The Forge At Wells, has 25 mostly traditional designs, 40-108cm wide, £126-£595 plus delivery. Kingsworthy Foundry, offers 40 in heraldic and narrative motifs, 40-107cm wide, £75-£525 plus delivery. The Fireback Foundry, designs to commission, from £500.
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