In which Robbo doesn’t buy some curtains

Soon after I moved into the apartment, my beloved Grandmother emailed me saying that she’d been ‘holding some things for me’ in anticipation of the day I finally moved into a place I could decorate.

My Grandparents are lovely people, my grandmother is an artist, and my grandfather a former lecturer turned managing director of a steam railway. At one point in my childhood my Grandma had a shop in Whitby that sold beautiful things, and she’s one of those people who beautiful things present themselves to. She always has beautiful clothes, beautiful jewellery, and a beautiful, beautiful house, full of lovely art and furnishings and wood floors due to my grandfather’s hideous adult onset asthma (which my mother has just developed, so I am going to make the most of beautiful furnishings while I am young and strong of lung).

So anyway, my Grandmother just drops into conversation that she has four huge toile de jouy curtains that she’ll just post down to me. I think I only stopped screaming in delight a few days ago, and they’ve been up for six weeks now. Toile de jouy, and pink toile de jouy at that, is probably my favourite colour.

I don’t remember these curtains ever hanging in their house, and neither does my mother (but my mother probably wouldn’t notice them, not being her style).

So when I moved into this flat I realised that at some point there were curtains hanging in the living room, above the huge french windows, but they had since been taken down and the holes polyfillered in. I also realised that if I tried to put up curtain rails myself I would likely somehow trepan myself with the drill I would have to buy. Also they would be wonky.

So, I did what any modern woman does, and texted a load of anonymous men on the internet until one of them said he’d come and do the hard labour in exchange for cash. I had no idea who he was, but I took the day off work, he turned up, was delightful and Portuguese, we chatted about our misspent youths, he drilled my wall something good, I gave him money, and it was totally worth it. As the old Jeremy Hardy joke goes, DIY is scabbing and I am nothing if not a dedicated socialist committed to supporting my fellow worker.

So my dream curtains arrived from the mysterious place my Grandma is saving things for me (also indicated to include at least two tea services, which once you include the tea services my father keeps offering to post me means I have an option on five separate tea services. I am British but not that British. I also have capacity for maybe one cup of tea at a time) but now I am caught in the place where my bedroom, the perennial disappointment, needs curtains. And when I say now, I mean ‘since I moved in three months ago’. I normally sleep with the curtains open anyway so its not been a pressing thing.

Obviously all these episodes of Say yes to the dress have gone to my head, because these are the curtains I want:

Robbo is saying ‘yes’ to a cascading sheet of silk she can’t afford, much like all the women on that show

They are also £400. And far too big. And are of course, cream, my least favourite colour as I have white walls and love colour. But these are giant fancy curtains and I want giant fancy curtains that are impractical and that I can get drunk and wrap myself in as I watch all the SYTTD episodes that are saved on the skybox.

I’m not sure exactly where this lust for silk curtains came from, but its here now. Its nice to have a hobby, I guess, and eBay is mine.

Anyway, here is what I’m deeming my 3 month living room update picture. This flat has a long way to go (although there is probably only so much I can do to disguise that it is a 1990s white box.


You can see the glory of the Aubusson rug, with the glory of the toile curtains and how they now totally clash with the green velvet floral sofa of dreams…but how I deal with this is something for the future.

In which Robbo doesn’t buy some curtains

Giant Fancy Thing

This week I was doing my normal procrastination thing by reading metafilter, and I ended up spending the next two days reading all of Victoria Elizabeth Barnes‘ website and stifling giggles like an idiot the entire time.

I am a woman of dramatic tastes. Sometimes I blame this on my eyesight, but as my prescription is pathetically weak I can’t even really do that. I just like big things, bright things, gilded things, unusual things.

Anyway, high on two full days of VEB’s tales of giant fancy things I went on ebay and typed in the fateful words: antique rug -oriental -persian. And there it was, no bids, 2 hours to go, some marks, but the rug of dreams. The Aubusson style, French, vaguely rococo, Chinese woven rug of dreams. In my colour scheme. In my budget.

Full picture of giant chinese style aubusson wool rug Detail of giant aubusson rug in a french chinese style with peonies

Look at it. Its so beautiful I want to scream. Yes, there are rust spots on it, it desperately needs a clean, but oh god. Aubusson rugs. Aubusson ruuuuuug. (!!!!!!)

My parents are rug obsessives. I have many vivid memories of being a bored child sitting in Singaporean rug showrooms as my parents decided which incredibly expensive rug to buy. The best part of rug shopping was always trying to get away with sitting on top of the highest pile of rugs without getting told off.

My personal favourite rugs were the delicate silk Aubusson style rugs that my parents were never going to buy in a million years. They liked enormous traditional wool beauties hand dyed with beetroot and other natural dyes and made from handspun wool, representative of a full year of hard work and toil. And those are great rugs. I am excited for when I eventually inherit them. But they are not what my inner child wants. My inner child wants the fanciest of things. This is the inner child who became entranced with lolita fashion, with gilded crap, all the way up to last summer’s obsession with the Brighton Pavillion.

Anyway I bought the rug. It was £150, which is officially a steal, but I also did not pay attention to the size of it – 4 meters x 3 meters. This is the size of my living room. Oops?

Getting it home was a trial. The rug was in Wood Green, North London. So I booked a cab. It was expensive, but I figured an Uber would end up extortionate when I inevitably got caught in traffic transitioning from North to South London. However, when the cab arrived, the cabbie refused to drive me and my rug unless I gave him an extra £15 cash. Seems he had accepted a fare meant for a normal size car, despite driving a seven seater people carrier, and he felt very strongly I should be paying for a 7 seater. I maintained that I was an idiot who genuinely thought a 4 meter rug would fit into a standard saloon car and that I had not asked for a 7 seater car and therefore I would pay the money because I wanted to go home, but I was not happy about it. He and I managed to argue about this for the best part of half an hour before we gave up and stopped talking to one another as we hit traffic on the Blackwall tunnel. I paid him the £15, and he offered to help me carry the rug up to my first floor flat, but after a few minutes I basically got frustrated and said I’d drag it up the stairs myself.

I had unfortunately been waylaid by a virus that day. I’d managed to do a lot of light DIY – putting up pictures crookedly, nailing backboards to my bookcases, watching a lot of say yes to the dress, and for some reason I thought I could drag 12 square meters of incredibly dense carpeting up the narrow stairs into my corner apartment. This essentially ended up taking the form of approximately 100 50kg deadlifts. At my fittest I could deadlift 80kg – once. I managed to get it into the apartment, but I did throw up from severe unfitness and probably the virus hiding in my blood stream and went straight to sleep the moment I got the door shut.

It doesn’t fit where I wanted it to fit, but half of it does. And it does look nice.

Giant aubusson rug in situ with damask back bookcase aubusson rug half unrolled because it is too bigIts now rolled up in my living room because I keep tripping over it, and I’m plotting which of my friends I can blackmail into helping me lay it down, and whether it will clash badly with my very green, very floral sofa. And whether I really care all that much. Giant fancy things – not even once.

Giant Fancy Thing