chestnut book blog

Read. Recommend. Revel.


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Unconventional Bookends

The start of an unconventional collection perhaps?!

Owl Bookends

Owl Bookends from Traidcraft

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Shoes and books – my favourite things!

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Bookish tables

I thought I would share with you today a book-related purchase I made in the last year for my home. Do you remember when I shared the picture of the book bollards outside Cambridge University Library? Well, those bollards were an inspiration! I had been searching for some side tables for my living room and I wondered if I could get something similar to those bollards. I then forgot about them for a few months, but in January, my husband and I went to Scotland. In the Cairngorms, we stumbled across a furniture shop, Spirit of Wood, one afternoon, high up in the hills on a farm track. We almost decided not to go up to the shop as it was snowing and the track was very steep. We eyed the hill with trepidation from the bottom. However, our hired 4×4 made light work of it and we were so pleased we made it – not only was the view beautiful from the shop, but we found my perfect side table, a pile of wooden books just like the bollards that I loved.

Pile of books side table

Our new side table

You can see from the photo above that it has fitted in perfectly and I’m delighted with it!

On the same trip, we discovered that we were staying just around the corner from a very atmospheric and eerie ruin. It brought home the fact that buildings need people as much as we need them and everything that comes with them. When the people go, even the most beautiful houses can end up like this one on the Dunalistair estate.

Dunalistair House

Dunalistair House

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This house was only abandoned in 1952. Isn’t it astounding what time (and vandalism I suspect) can do? In 1950 this was a school, full of noise and laughter, and before that it was a family home full of love and treasured possessions. Dunalistair House is on the Historic Scotland Buildings at Risk register but as you can see, it won’t be long really before it is little more than foundations. As a card-carrying member of the National Trust, I am fascinated by grand estates and country houses and we are lucky that so many have survived. However, Dunalistair House is an example of one that has not and it shows that even the most solid of historic buildings cannot survive without the protection and care of people. The Scottish winters certainly take their toll…

Me in a Scottish blizzard

Just before we walked to Dunalistair House, we were caught in a blizzard. Here I am looking surprising cheerful in the circumstances!


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A home of your own by Sally Coulthard

One of my presents for my recent birthday was a firm favourite – book vouchers! With them, I treated myself last week to a delicious new hardback – A home of your own: Creating interiors with character by Sally Coulthard.

A home of your own book jacket

A home of your own by Sally Coulthard

This beautiful book aims to inspire anyone to add character to their home. I love adding to my nest. My home is my refuge and a place to express myself, my relationship and my family. Coulthard sums it up nicely by saying: ‘Homes with character hit you as soon as you walk through the door. They are visually appealing places, but more than that, they exude warmth, laughter and love.’ I think getting to that stage can take a lifetime of collecting special furniture, mementos and, for me, books of course. Recently, a couple we are friends with have had their flat featured in a Design Sponge article and I thought it was a wonderful example of a beautiful, personal home with character and filled with love. My own home isn’t quite in such a perfect state, but we’re getting there gradually, one memory at a time.

Books make a Home by Damian Thompson

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Books make a home

Books make a home by Damian Thompson

We’ve recently finished decorating our house from top to bottom and I was musing on how to store my books to best effect. I decided that I needed some bookish help to do that and found this little gem on Amazon. It is a beautiful coffee table book and has some stunning interiors in as well for those inclined to be nosy about other people’s homes (like me!). I took away from this book that rather than confining my books to three Ikea book shelves in our smallest room and piles by my bed, I need to start incorporating them into all the rooms in my house. The first thing I did is moved my cookery books into the dining room using an old cabinet and you can see the results below! I am really pleased as you can see them as soon as you walk into the room and it has made it a lot easier for me to consult them! My second action plan is to collect a few more beautiful hardback books and display them in my living room. Finally, if this is not too anal, I’m going to have a go at colour-coding my paper backs in the afore-mentioned Ikea bookcases! I’ll post a picture when I’ve done it.

My cookery books

And room for more!