Do you ever watch the Antiques Road Trip? I love antiques, especially antique furniture, and get great enjoyment out of watching the Antiques Road Trip on BBC2 (www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00xgqvf). Having seen in all our guests arriving today, I was free to watch the last episode of the Antiques Road Trip this evening, featuring James Lewis and Anita Manning as the antiques experts. James Lewis is always brilliant! What an eye he has for things to buy that will make a profit!
Our guest house, Blenheim Lodge, is an antique in itself, being almost 150 years old. When we arrived at the guest house in 2002, it was filled with contract furniture, including the ubiquitous box spring beds with padded velour headboards. How I detested those headboards! I thought they were terribly unhygienic, as everyone leans their heads against the headboards when sitting up in bed, and they are impossible to clean properly. After all, one cannot actually remove the headboard materials and padding and wash them.
One of the first jobs I undertook during the quiet Winter months at the end of the first season was to start sourcing new beds for the rooms. There were a number of rooms without those ghastly looking headboards, so I did not need to work on all of them straight away. My love of antiques led us to start visiting antique shops around England, and Hubby and I used to do a number of trips over the years as we started to refurbish the rooms.
We have now changed all the beds in the rooms, and put in some really lovely antique four-posters, Louis XV beds, Queen Anne beds and French daybeds. We do have three modern beds, including a Laura Ashely wrought iron sleigh bed, a solid brass bed from And So To Bed (www.andsotobed.co.uk), and a pretty white-painted wrought iron bed from Feather and Black. All the rooms have been decorated in Laura Ashley colours and windows are hung with bespoke Laura Ashley curtains (www.lauraashley.com).
Doing over the beds also meant changing the mattresses on them. Some beds required bespoke mattresses due to their unique shapes. In The Coniston room, for example, we had installed a four-poster from the George IV period, and there were curves around the posts at the end of the bed, so a regular mattress with square corners would not fit. We approached a third generation family bed and mattress manufacturer, Cocketts, and asked them to custom make a mattress for the four-poster bed in The Coniston (www.cockettsbeds.co.uk). One can now sit on the bed in The Coniston and look out of the window towards gorgeous views of Lake Windermere to the hills beyond.
Our refurbishment also included changing other bedroom furniture, such as bedside tables, wardrobes, etc. I contacted an antiques dealer and, over a year, we amassed various pieces of antique furniture, each carefully chosen for the rooms I had in mind. The Dalesway room is one of the rooms I totally refurbished, including a pretty daybed, dressing table and stool, a side table with drawers, an armoire, and a bedside table. The look is shabby chic, and there is a very romantic ambience to all the French curves evident in the look and feel of the furniture.
Over the years, we have upgraded the rooms and given each of them their individual personalities, much like the several faces of our grand old lady, Blenheim Lodge, herself. We are always on the look out for furniture that will fit into the character of our rooms, particularly for those rooms where we still want to replace the current furniture with antique pieces. For example, I have been looking for three years now for a linen press that will fit nicely into The Coniston. We always have to think about the whole look of a room, and cannot buy pieces willy nilly as all the items that go into a room have to gel and present a finished look. The joy and difficulty of antique hunting of course is in trying to get all the pieces one wants at the same time so that a full furniture refurbishment of any one room can be effected all at once.
For those of you who enjoy staying in unique rooms with a little quirky romance thrown in, I think that you will enjoy a stay at Blenheim Lodge. It is not funky in the way that a glitzy hotel is, but it is homely and welcoming in the way that a graceful old home should be. Come and enjoy the peace and quiet, the beautiful furnishings, the Lake and countryside views, and the open welcome that we offer all our guests. We hope that you will visit us soon!
‘Blenheim Lodge . . . panoramic Lake views, peace and tranquillity, nestled against acres of beautiful fields and woodlands, in the heart of the English Lake District National Park.’
Visit our website: www.blenheim-lodge.com
Telephone: 00 44 (0)15394 43440