After the never ending horror of clearing out the loft and making it habitable, I did what any sane person would do and said never, ever again am I doing any sort of house project. Of course, this was all said with one beady eye swivelling towards the neglected spare bedroom on the ground floor and thinking hmm…
And so the Sunflower Room came into being.
My tall, narrow victorian house has rooms spread over four floors, and on the ground floor there’s a lounge at the front and another room at the back. This has always been a bedroom of some sorts since I bought the house, and for many years it was let out to a succession of lodgers. It was a nice room, but it had never been properly decorated and it was very tired looking: half the wall was textured wallpaper, the rest plain. An impression of an arch was cut into the wall adjoining the lounge, a hasty attempt to reinstate a wall where it had once been knocked through. The skirting was knackered and a damp patch was creeping out across the ceiling from a corner of the room.
So this was going to be more than a tidy up – it was going to be messy, but decided to go for replastering, skimming the ceiling, new skirting, coving and new electrics. I had a vague timescale of three weeks and set to work lining up tradesmen.
Like all good building projects, things went rather pear-shaped from the start. The plasterer turned up, filled the room with tools, took payment for materials and promptly vanished for a few days. Finally he returned to start the job and a few hours in had removed the radiator, spilt inky black radiator water all over my hall then flooded the entire room trying to get the boiler to work again. Then he disappeared again. Luckily, I managed to get another plasterer in to finish the job soon afterwards, and this was followed by new electrics and woodwork. I don’t remember exactly HOW I got the room painted what with having a toddler at my ankles most of the day, but I must have spent day upon day up a ladder trying to get just enough paint on the walls before I lost my mind entirely.
The problem with Airbnb is that living where I do, there are lots of lovely rooms listed already, and how on earth do you make yourself stand out? I know that from scrolling through lots of search results, it helps to have something distinctive in the description or photo, and it was around this time that I found some vintage fabric for sale which consisted of a single, giant sunflower head. This was going to form the ‘theme’ for my room, and so the Sunflower Room came into being.
The styling of the room was a bit of a challenge – I definitely wanted midcentury modern, but I also wanted to the room to be as practical and comfortable as possible. The most important item was the bed, and I chose a white Ikea Brimnes as it has a low profile and would sit fairly discreetly next to the nicer bits of furniture. I’d collected a few bits of vintage fabric and these were made into pillow covers for use when the bed was in ‘sofa’ mode.
A few furniture items were identical to the ones in the loft room: there’s a second chest of drawers, the matching Habitat scoop chair (which fits perfectly into the alcove and seats two) and I bought another bamboo clothes rail from Argos. There’s no sideboard in this room, but I bought a vintage teak trolley (you can never have enough teak trolleys!) and that contains the drinks making facilities and toiletries. An Ercol plate rack fitted perfectly into the alcove above the Habitat chair and my lovely tambour-lidded sewing box served as a bedside table.
It took two months in all to get the room ready, and we just managed to catch the summer market. In many ways, it’s the lowlier sibling to the loft room – the views aren’t as striking and it’s considerably smaller. But on the other hand, it’s very quick to access as it’s close to the front door, the views are still pleasant (you can lie in bed and look at the surrounding hills of the Bath Skyline) and it’s a million times easier for me to clean as there’s no tiny staircase to go up and down, nor sloping ceilings to bang my head on!
Like the loft room, this room is temporarily out of action on the Airbnb market due to the baby arriving in the summer, but we had some very happy customers and hopefully next year there’ll be a few more.