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  • HELLO!

    Welcome to my home on the web.

    I'm Charlotte Duckworth, an interiors journalist, now running my own digital content agency DECORUM, with my fabulous business partner.

    I also write novels.

    This is my little self-indulgent navel-gazing blog - feel free to have a nose around!

    Charlotte x

Dartmouth: my happy place

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I’m alive! (As you will know if you’re unfortunate enough to follow me on Twitter, where I never shut up).

Apologies for the ENTIRE MONTH I had off from blogging, but quite frankly I needed it. Things have been super brilliant, scary, exciting and stressful over at Decorum and we have, in fact, *drum roll* just moved into our very own office. This is rather unbelievably exciting, because it’s a bit like all my childhood fantasies coming true. Do you remember playing ‘shops’, ‘post offices’ etc as a kid? No? That was just me then. Well, just BELIEVE ME, there can be little more exciting than a Staples-run to buy stationery for a real-life office, that you can set up exactly as you please – it made me feel about eight again as we stacked envelopes on shelves and opened packets of highlighters.

However, the success of Decorum has meant that I’ve developed a bit of an allergy to WordPress. I look after six blogs for work now, all on WordPress, so the thought of spending my free time also resizing images and fiddling about on this delightful platform became less and less appealing. Hence me avoiding poor Life by Lotte.

But it’s 2014! January means one thing to me: getting older. Last week I celebrated my THIRTY THIRD birthday. This is very strange because I definitely haven’t been alive for that long. But anyway. For the first year in forever, I decided not to have a birthday party. Instead I escaped to my happy place: Dartmouth. I hope to die in Dartmouth. Weird thing to wish for I know, but I am weird – I wrote a book about suicide.

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O and I spent two nights staying in the wonderful Dart Marina. We always stay in the apartments because they are only a little bit more expensive than the hotel rooms and it means you get a bathroom each (which is always nice eh girls), a proper kitchen for making snacks, a fire, a cosy living room and you don’t have to stress about having dried your hair in time for breakfast. I heartily recommend it.

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Dartmouth is the best place in the world. I don’t really want to talk about it too much because it already gets busy enough and even mentioning it makes me nervous of even more people turning up and hogging it, but there’s nowhere on earth like it. It’s stuffed full of independent boutiques, restaurants and lovely people with dogs who chat to you as you walk past. And opinionated seagulls.

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The air is fresh and the views are incredible. I spent my birthday eating coronary-inducing amounts of cheese and cake and buying myself things from the wonderful galleries. It was perfect, and the perfect start to a new year.

2014 is going to be brilliant.

PS I will be blogging more frequently over on Daily Decorum!

This was meant to be…

… a post about the evening I spent in the company of the venerable author Donna Tartt. Last week she was over in London to promote her latest novel, The Goldfinch, which is only her third – any of you who know anything about her will know that she writes, on average, one book every forty years or something.

What you might not know is that when I went to meet my agent for the first time, before she signed me, she’d read an early draft of The Perfect Suicide and declared that it reminded her a little of blockbuster The Secret History. Which kind of blew my mind (also, with hindsight was superbly generous and possibly a little bit hyperbolic – I suspect the only similarity really was the university setting and general weirdness).

So when my friend Susie suggested we go along to a reading Donna Tartt was giving with Waterstones, I was thrilled and excited. It also coincided nicely with my mum’s birthday – and her request for a copy of The Goldfinch as part of the present. Great, I thought. I can even get it signed for her!

But then this happened…

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I came home after a morning meeting to find Percy had a massive great hole in his little paw. Cue emergency vets appointment, which meant my evening gawping at Donna Tartt was off.

By the time I got back from the vets – who declared that Percy’s injury was, somewhat incredibly, a cat bite* – it was too late to make it into town. So instead I sulked in front of the TV, glaring at the injured party, while reading tweets from people like India Knight going on about how great it was.

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Percy, clearly sensing my passive aggressive irritation, spent the evening looking cute and sad in equal measure.

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So, instead this post is about a daft ginger cat. And his long-running feud with Beryl the Bold Tabby next door. On this occasion it was very much Beryl – 1, Percy – nil.

Depending on whether or not you’re a cat-lover, you’ll be pleased to hear he’s since recovered well.

 *on a side note, I have since learnt that cat bites are really dangerous to humans. Who knew? Cats’ mouths are full of bacteria, and because of the shape of their sharp and pointy teeth, they puncture the skin with a small hole and fill it with bacteria when they bite you. After which, the hole quickly heals over, trapping all the nasty things inside, meaning that if you’re bitten by a cat, you’ve got a 50% chance of it getting infected. So if your cat ever bites you hard – go to the doctor’s and get antibiotics.

Hospital flooring

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When I moved into my flat, it was carpeted throughout the hall, bedrooms and living room. With worn blue speckled carpet that was stained in places thanks to the geriatric, incontinent cat that formerly lived there. One of the first things I did when I moved in was rip up all the carpets, including painstakingly taking up all the gripper things that were nailed round the edges of every single room. I had a week to sort out the flooring before I had to move in, so I slapped floor paint on all the floorboards, resolving to decide on a more permanent solution once I’d settled in.

And actually, for the last two and a half years, I’ve really liked my painted floorboards. But over time, and in the hall especially, they’ve started to look really really worn. ‘Not so much shabby chic,’ as my dad said the other day, ‘as just shabby.’

But the problem is, I’m completely stumped as to alternative solutions. I considered a stair runner but I can’t find any designs I particularly like, and they just don’t feel very ‘me’. Laying engineered wood flooring is another possibility, but it doesn’t really fill my heart with glee – it just seems safe, and a bit boring. It also doesn’t really help me sort out the stairs, which are also painted white and although aren’t as scuffed as the hall, are beginning to look a little worse for wear.

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When I redid my bathroom last year, I laid grey vinyl from the Colour Flooring Company on the floor – and although it was really just a practical decision at the time, I absolutely love it. It’s so easy to keep clean and is so warm underfoot and feels very hardwearing. It’s super cheap. And I think it looks really smart.

So yesterday I had the bright idea of laying vinyl flooring throughout the rest of the flat too. Well, on the top floor hallway, and in my bedroom. I thought I’d keep my stairs white, and just repaint them. I was thinking of a pale grey for the hallway and white for my bedroom. Excited, I scoured Pinterest for inspiration…

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Credit: Linxspiration

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Credit: The Colour Flooring Company Credit: Baenk
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Credit: Nordic Leaves

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Credit: Housetohome.co.uk

I thought my problems were solved!

If you squint a bit it kind of has that poured-resin/polished concrete effect I love… I even had grand plans about ripping up the existing flooring in the kitchen (horrible beige vinyl tiles) and replacing it all with a flat run of this stuff. But then I told my dad.

And he said it would make the flat feel like a hospital.

And then I told my friend Vicks, of The Relaxed Home fame, and she said it would be a nightmare to keep clean.

And so now… I’m just not sure again. Help!

November 13, 2013 - 1:38 pm

Emma Whyte - Hmmmm. I’m with your Dad. Am currently in love with Remmers 2 part epoxy floor paint. Yes indeed ;) It’s designed for car show rooms so incredibly hard wearing, comes in any RAL number you like, goes on like a dream, dries in flash, the finish is dreamy and the whole thing is water based, so eco friendly. Try https://buyfloorpaint.co.uk/ if you’re interested. Great service, lovely people :) bye bye.

I promise this will make you smile…

As one wise YouTube commenter said: ‘I’d like to hear this just before I die.’

The video was filmed in Brownsville, NY, which is one of the poorest parts of Brooklyn, and has one the highest rates of unemployment, poor health, crime, family violence, low educational achievement and overcrowding.

But this video is so moving. And lovely. And has ballet in it.

Happy Friday!

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