Going shopping

This afternoon saw me searching for Signature tablecloths on the website. We have used Signature tablecloths for 10 years now, but have always paid to hire them from a national laundry, which also launders them. Now we are no longer with the same laundrette; and having moved to a more local establishment, we cannot get the same table linen, so I am now a-hunting for 10-15 54×54 Signature tablecloths to match our decor.

It has been frustratingly difficult to find Signature tablecloths. I must have spent some hours searching for them on the internet, but could only find a potential 3 retailers which sell them. National laundries must rate Signature tablecloths since many of the big companies seem to favour them as an item of choice for table linen. The smaller laundrettes, like the new one I am using on the other hand, do not seem to use them, perhaps because they are dear for commercial tablecloths.

Here is a photo of our dining room at Blenheim Lodge, decorated with Laura Ashley wallpaper and colours in tones of restful green and duck egg blue. Matching Laura Ashley gingham curtains were made to measure for this room. Signature table linen cover the tables.

Earlier this year, all I had thought about was buying antiqued handmade oak tables for the dining room. They were to have a distressed look, and I was really looking forward to buying 8-9 tables. Unfortunately, I had underestimated the cost, and have had to hold back on making the purchase. I could possibly have bought veneered or faux oak tables at a lower price; but I want the real McCoy, so I am determined to wait until I have the funds to buy the oak tables.

Anyway, my lack of lateral thinking in this matter has left me in a quandary now that I have discovered, after just one use of the current laundrette’s tablecloths, that they do not even begin to compare with the Signature table linen I used in the past. I was actually rather cross with myself when I realised this weekend – an eureka moment, and not too soon! – that I should have at least thought of purchasing the tablecloths I wanted instead of trying out the table linen from my current laundrette that I had not particularly liked in the first place. I am now hoping that at least one of the stores I will phone on Monday will have the table linen I want and that they will be able to deliver them within the week.

For a shopaholic, running a guest house provides a great excuse to go shopping. Over the years, we have engaged the services of a Laura Ashley interior designer to come up with ideas for decorating the whole house, including the commissioning of bespoke curtains made to fit our rather large windows. I have had a great time choosing the fabrics and styles for each room, as well as the colours for their decor.

Of course choosing the colours and curtains for the rooms was only the starting point. Next came the furniture. Now, I could really have fun! I really love antique furniture and wanted furnishings that would sit well in our Victorian house. The furniture had to be beautiful as well as practical. Moreover, I wanted to create individual styles for each room, so that no two rooms would look alike. To this end, I started trawling the shops and also engaged an antique dealer for a year to look out for items that I felt would fit well into our 1868 abode.

Here is a picture encapsulating the detail we put into all our rooms. Quality raw silk was hand-sewn, hand-pleated, and attached to this unusual curved roof of our antique 4-poster bed in The Coniston room. I chose the fabrics and the seamstress was on-site to put everything up.

Anyone going onto our website to take a peek will see that we have created each room to be unique in character, using colour, soft furnishings and furniture to achieve this. We felt that since no two rooms are ever alike in a family home, we should similarly not feel pressurised to make our rooms identical in look and style. The individual character of each piece of antique furniture has helped us to achieve this objective; but we have also used modern furniture with that timeless quality to the same effect.

Of course there is always more that one wants to do in one’s house. For example, I have yet to find the furniture that I want for every one of the rooms we have. I have in my mind ideas about how each room should look – but that does not mean that I have been successful in locating the items I want for each room; so I have decided that it is better to wait for the right piece instead of changing things for the sake of doing so. Similarly, I have yet to find the curtain material that I want for our stairwell windows. My husband and I love the excellent quality of Laura Ashley fabrics, so we will keep visiting their stores until we find patterns we like (www.lauraashley.com).

It has been great fun thus far shopping for our Windermere guest house. I am looking forward to more shopping when the money is available for us to do so. At present, I will look forward to buying my new Signature tablecloths, and they will just have to suffice for the present, until my urge to shop starts to itch – again!

‘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

Email: enquiries@blenheim-lodge.com

Telephone: 00 44 (0)15394 43440

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