Wednesday, 27 February 2013

A pure and supreme lard box


Before I get to the excitement of the lard box, I wanted to show you these tiles. When we took the carpets up recently to have our floors sanded, the original hearth tiles were too cracked to use and so I had to find an alternative. I loved these ones above as soon as I saw them and when I arranged them on the floor I realised that the hearts and feeling of symmetry mirrored that of the wall hanging above. A totally happiness inducing coincidence.


Last night I finally stripped back the footstool below which I'd bought a few years ago. The fabrics were horribly stained and frayed (I bought it at an antiques fair), but I loved them so much that it's taken me a long time to bring myself to strip the fabrics off and reupholster it.


When I finally got through the many layers of fabric down to the inner layer of wood I was stunned to find that this very sturdy little lidded foot stool was actually...a wooden crate for lard. Not only was it a curious and unexpected discovery, but I found it very amusing that this lard container had found its way by stealth into the home of vegetarians. The upholstered box has always felt so proper and well made that seeing it in its stripped back state reminded me of how easy it actually is to create loveliness out of what is essentially rubbish. In the last two years this stool has flitted between being a laundry bin, a foot stool and is soon to go by the front door for an interesting new purpose (more on that next week). I could happily have several of them around the house and now that I've realised how simply made it is, I'm intending to recreate it many times over. I can already foresee myself becoming whipped up into making what will be considered by everyone else in the house an overabundance of them...like a strange collection of china figurines...only larger, more utilitarian and harder to hide from onlookers as they eventually find their way through the front door barred by rows of footstools. I need more lard boxes. Does anyone know of a good source for such a thing?


I felt compelled to research the lard box and found that it appears that it may have come from around 1890 and found its way over to England from America. (And yes, I realised afterwards that it's best not to strip a very old box over a pale rug, but luckily the sawdust and lint did all come up. Avert your eyes, Mama).

Because this box has had uses in so many different rooms in the house and blended in well in all of them, I wanted to find a similar fabric. I chose a woven material that has a cross-stitched look to it and shares the pinky cream tones of the original.


And here it is in its last week as a foot stool.


Oddly, when I went to find a picture of the footstool as it had originally looked when I'd bought it in May 2011, I came across a photo of this room before the colour red had infiltrated it. I couldn't believe quite how different it has become without my really noticing. I think I am now officially a person whose whole house is not cream.



For the last few months the bowl in the alcove has been filled with satsumas and clementines and I've enjoyed the cheerful orange every time I've looked at it, but unfortunately my family have now turned their attention to other fruits and so the bowl sits empty again. I wish the bowl had some strippable layers as I've always wondered what might be inside that. My husband and I bought it from one of our favourite shops when we lived in Islington over a decade again. Every now and then it makes strange clicking and crackling noises as though the pottery is alive. After the lard box surprise I'm now waiting for it to reveal itself as a semi-dormant magic porridge pot. Or perhaps a beef stew.

Florence x

32 comments:

  1. No matter how hard I try to pay attention, I can't get over the wall hanging. It's just divine. But beef stew, LOL.

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    1. Well that's a lovely thing to hear - thank you!

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  2. I love that, what a great story. Just shows how resourceful folks used to be... I like the makeover, too.
    Hen x

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    1. I know and it had been upholstered with so much hand-stitching. It was beautiful. Unfortunately my update was less skilled and had far less time invested in it, so there's much room for technique improvement.

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  3. Love this story, I have a lard box too - think it's English though, my husband brought it home from work (a mental health dept in an old old asylum!)

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    1. Lucky you - have you kept it exposed for lard appreciation or covered it?

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  4. Your room looks so welcoming (and so tidy!). Laughing at the lard box though.

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    1. I was quite shocked by how neat it used to look and how messy it now looks by comparison with many more books stacked up at angles on the shelves!

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  5. Well, Florence, you've stumped me this time: I have absolutely no helpful links for lard boxes. I wish I did, though - what a great re-purposing of it! This vegetarian household needs one too, I think. x

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    1. I can't believe I've finally defeated you! Do let me know if you have any midnight inspiration! x

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  6. your recovered foot stool looks gorgeous! and the story is hilarious! ps- didn't know you were a veggie! me too :)

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    1. I'd thought you may be as I'd noticed the lunches you sometimes post on Instagram always look like very tasty things which I could eat myself! I became vegetarian when I was four as when my mother took me into town we had to wait at a bus stop near an abattoir and I often saw the pigs being led in. It was all too sad for a four-year old and I used to cry when the sausages were brought out after that. All of my own and much of my extended family are veggie too though, so it fits into life easily :)

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  7. Hilarious! Covertly a supreme lard box resides in the home of vegetarians. Not a regular one by a long shot. Beautifully done.

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    1. I know - I think if the box were able to laugh quietly to itself, then it would have been doing so!

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  8. The fabric is lovely - do you know what it is?

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    1. Unfortunately I have no idea what it is, but I think you can buy it on the bolt from the furnishing dept of C&H Fabrics, which I believe is a fairly nationwide company?

      Sorry not to be more help. x

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  9. What a very beautiful room... I wonder if you tell your visitors the secret of your footstool? I love your re-upholstery work - it's beautiful.

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    1. Thank you! Probably only if they admire it's lardy loveliness... x

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  10. It is a gorgeous end point whatever lies beneath. Your room looks so alive with all that colour too. I am going off to reconsider my own endless neutrals.

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    1. Well that's exciting! For me it all started with a small tester pot and a tiny fireplace alcove...I'd start small and then work around it.

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  11. Those are gorgeous tiles! Your room turned out beautifully!

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  12. I was fascinated to read the story of your lard box, and I think you've done a lovely job recovering it. Talk of the pot in the fireplace has me stretching my mind back to when I studied pottery a long, long time ago and I think that either the glaze is not correct for the clay used to make the pot or that it was not fired quite correctly and so is slowly crazing. Each ping is another fine crack appearing in the glaze.

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    1. That explains it - thank you so much! I'm so pleased to find out what's causing it.

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  13. Love your footstool! The fabric you've chosen really suits it and the fact that it's a lard box is hilarious. I also think it's amazing how those red splashed of colour have transformed your living room.

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    1. Yes, it's odd - I didn't realise quite how different they'd made it look.

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  14. You've done a superb job of recovering your lard box. I had never heard of a lard box before, but what a find. Isn't it wonderful to think you had a hidden piece of history. I love this sort of thing. I also love the red. My favourite colour. I am always drawn to it.

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    1. I know - it was really lovely to see what care had been taken over it and how resourceful someone had been. Despite the fact that it was now tatty and probably hadn't been done by a professional upholsterer they'd taken a huge amount of care over it.

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  15. I'm not a lard box aficionado, unfortunately, so I have no idea where you might source them. I can, however, extol the virtues of tea chests as a worthy alternative - with the added benefit of being slightly more suited to a houseful of vegetarians!

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  16. Gorgeous footstool and tiles. They blend all so well together. You have made me think of my old toy/linen or whatever box I had as a child that is sitting in my mum's shed, I think i could also turn it into a foot stool, what a fab idea. Thank you xx

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  18. Aww... I want to find a lard box too! I love old stuff like that. Now to find my own and get to work!

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x