Fodder for storage – how to create more storage space
My old ventilation cupboard has a new water tank and there is no more room for my laundry. I need a solution that would seem appropriate on a Grade II listed Herefordshire farm. This building dates back to medieval times and each generation has contributed something to it. I also need a cupboard for the table linens downstairs. Ideas?
Ah, the joy of the cupboards. When it comes to renovating their home, some may dream of swimming pools, others may yearn for a home theater, tennis court, gym or wine cellar. What do I see in my wildest dreams, half hidden in a swirling mist and sparkling with golden light? No more cupboards. I’m running out of space, you see, and fast.
Currently, half of a kitchen cabinet in the country is dedicated to towels, tea towels and coasters. Another closet across the room is filled with tablecloths, place mats, cushions and sundry items
(an old film camera, a giant Christmas ball and a few margarita glasses). Upstairs, spare sheets, pillows and towels are crammed into our wardrobe, which itself is no bigger than a shoebox.
I would like to have a downstairs closet dedicated to kitchen linens, and some sort of upstairs situation that means I don’t have to fold folded sheets in an available nook or cranny. When it comes to household chores such as laundry and bed preparation, I think giving all associated items a proper house helps to experience these chores.
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(Of course, my dreams are not so modest. I also see Georgian paneling
and gothic windows and a cave and a reflecting pool in my garden.)
So where can you find cabinets that will suit your Herefordshire farm? I don’t think you necessarily have to focus on finding something extremely ancient because, as you say, the ancient inhabitants added to the building (which means, I guess, its appearance is not totally uniform).
In addition, as you may have understood from reading this column, I am also
not a slave to the concept of period perfection. Still, you’ll want to find something full of character and charm.
Arcadia Antiques usually offers a wide and brilliant selection of linen cabinets in different shapes and sizes. I’m often drawn to cabinets with an original painted finish – I love the patina you usually find with the original paint, the wonderful chipping, and the varying color nuances and subtleties, with old wood stains that stand out.
Currently in stock at Arcadia is a beautiful 19th century English housekeeper cabinet with its original off-white paint. At almost 170cm wide, it would offer ample space for laundry and includes drawers as
as well as shelves inside.
For a lingerie on the ground floor, I also really like a limed or bleached oak finish, or even a pale pine. Buckinghamshire’s Pinefinders are currently selling a large c1910 pine dutch linen press with fantastic detailing and a really nice oversized cornice.
I tend to prefer pale painted or washed wood over mahogany in kitchens, dressing rooms, and laundry rooms, but upstairs I like the idea of a darker mahogany or oak cabinet for bed linen or clothing. Look just across the border in Herefordshire to the Tim Bowen antiques of Carmarthenshire. Bowen recently sold a small Georgian Welsh oak linen press with very charming Gothic shaped panel doors above three small fake drawers. It might be worth getting in touch with this dealer as they have had many similar cabinets in stock in the past.
If you think you want something a little smarter, you couldn’t go wrong with the classic, elegant and timeless look of a George III piece, such as a mahogany clothes press currently available through Lorfords in the Gloucestershire. I really like its inlaid oval panels.
Maybe we should be thinking outside the closet. Based in Hampshire, Elmgarden sells a 19th century Italian clothes press with bold black and ecru stripes (and gold highlights), painted circa 1900. There’s no doubt this is a striking piece. The graphic simplicity of its design, however, would make it suitable for a variety of interiors.
Finally, let’s trade Herefordshire for Paris. I like a wardrobe, which in my mind is similar to a wardrobe, and could work just as well as a linen closet. (A clothes press, I recently figured out, tends to be defined as having two sections, like a mini-closet on top of a dresser.) It’s easy to find a chic cabinet, but I like the versions. more modest. Pappilon from Hampshire sells a very elegant 19th century French provincial wardrobe with original ocher paint. The beauty is in its rustic simplicity.
One more idea: John Penderell Antiques in Northern Ireland stocks a bespoke oak cabinet with characterful 16th century doors. It’s not in the best shape – part of its back is missing – but the price is right. Love this mix of new and very old: could be just the thing for a medieval farmhouse with new additions.
If you have a question for Luke about design and stylish living, email him at [email protected]. Follow him on Instagram @lukeedwardhall
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