Meet “Ting”. This phone came to live with us after we redecorated the dining room last year. Wait. I will back up and tell you the story. Settle in. It’s quite a tale.
We have lived in this old house for 22 years now. The dining room is one of two large reception rooms at the front of the house and contains a 12 foot inglenook fireplace. Maximum romance score, many points off for efficiency. Never mind. It’s there. It’s pretty huge. It’s going to be an unavoidable factor in however you decide to decorate the room.
The house was once a pub, The Old Red Lion, but closed as such in about 1963. The front rooms of the house have also housed an antiques shop in years gone past. We just wanted to live in it.
The whole of the main downstairs part of the house all links up in a big circle. You can go from the dining room, into the kitchen, into the lounge, into the hall and then through a different door back into the dining room. It’s not open plan as there are doors between all the rooms but the doors can all be left open and, as you might imagine, it’s a super house to throw a party in.
Cyndy, will you just get ON with it?!
The dining room had always felt like a corridor, never like a proper room and we hardly ever ate in there. It’s a dark room as the walls at the front of the house are about four foot thick and, in common with many houses this age, the window opening is not large at all. People were taxed by how many windows they had in their house.
Previous folks had painted the room pale to try and increase the light but it was still dingy and just felt cold. Back in the 1980s, the wood panelling that goes from floor to halfway up the walls had been given a dark wood stain and then gloss varnished. Ceiling beams, many of which were very old but had been fire damaged after WW2, had been given a similar treatment to the panelling. Dark brown with gloss varnish.
Are you feeling the love yet? No, we didn’t either.
When the lockdown came and we were resolutely parked at home, we decided the time had come and my husband came up with an astonishing colour scheme for the dining room. His idea was to Go To The Dark Side. REALLY dark. I blanched. He promised that if I let him follow his inspiration and do what he wanted to do with the dark colours, he would then repaint it all again himself, in my choice of colours, if I didn’t like it. What’s a girl going to do? We ordered the paint. All from a company called Little Greene-excellent stuff, by-the-way.
When we opened the tins, I had a heart attack. Two main colours but in different textures of paint. The dark colour on the panelling you can just see in Ting’s picture above is called Lamp Black and is a soft, dark grey/blue/green black. It changes colour depending on the light levels. That’s eggshell paint but the ceiling, beams and all, is painted that same colour but in an absolutely flat paint. No shine at all. (See post for 27th Feb 2022 for another glimpse of that ceiling). The paint colour on the textured paper above the panelling is called Theatre Red. I had to hold firm, zip my mouth, and just believe in my husband’s judgement to be able to start and complete the whole project with these colours. (I do love it now, of course.) We also sold all the furniture, mostly pine pieces from the 1980s Laura Ashley days, and bought “new to us” replacements in dark wood to follow the “fantasy French restaurant” theme in our heads. Facebook Marketplace is my friend. We did pretty well financially with the swops and now have things we love that all feel new to us. The eight chairs for the table were all in need of reupholstering though. So, YouTube is also my friend. I bought a proper tack hammer, tacks and learned how to do it the right way. Just recovering the seats- the insides were okay.
Moral of this part of the story…just because you already HAVE something doesn’t mean you have to KEEP it forever. Someone else will love it if you pass it on. It’s never been easier to switch things around in a cost effective and planet aware way.
So, what about “Ting”? I’m getting to that…
After about a month of back-breaking work to transform this room, it all came together. Over where the plastic telephone had always hung on the wall, in a corner that was cluttered with an unloved chair and wonky plant stand/table, we placed a cute little table with two drawers for all the detritus that had always camped out along the little ledge at the top of the panelling. Another Marketplace find was the lamp which had the French fin de siècle feel we were trying to create for that room. Aww, pretty! The telephone HAD to go back on the table as we had decided no plastic phone on the wall. We quickly realized that aesthetics demanded a period telephonic apparatus to suit the rest of the vibe we had created. The search was on.
The internet was scoured (the lockdown still had us confined to barracks) and after many days of looking, the husband found a fella advertising original old telephones that he lovingly restored with modern insides to make them work properly for the modern age. We were smitten. The beautiful old phones on offer on this website were “take a deep breath and swallow hard” expensive compared to a modern plastic phone but we reasoned it out. We had not had a holiday of any sort in over two years so had “saved” all that money. This would be a restored original telephone from the 1940s with a real working dial and we were giving new life to something that might have been discarded otherwise. We would have paid the money that was being asked for an original work of art if we loved it and not begrudge the artist at all. We decided that “Ting” was truly a work of art, paid our money and joined the three month waiting list.
It felt such a long wait but the the large and very heavy package arrived at last. Unwrapping it felt like Christmas Day. And what joy the first time the phone rang, a real “ring-ring”(we are British, you know) with a real bell! None of your shrill techno noise for this phone, by golly! It was all we could do not to answer the phone, “Whitehall 1-2-1-2.” (she said, dating herself horribly.) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitehall_1212
“Ting” got its name because it does a very peculiar and idiosyncratic thing. We think it has something to do with the local village telephone exchange sending an electrical charge of some sort down the line. It makes a single, solitary “Ting” noise, followed about 8 seconds later by a much quieter “Ting”. The phone is not ringing. When it rings for real you hear the single ting first and then it rings properly. No, it just “Tings” to itself periodically. It is really quite charming and we LOVE it.
Best “holiday” ever and this fancy French restaurant we eat in every night now is not bad either.
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