Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Window Seats II

Thanks to friend of Balintore, Violet, for making a couple of fitted cushions for the trapezoidal window seats in two of the entrance tower bedrooms. There is a previous blog entry on these window seats, sans soft furnishings, here. The cushions certainly transform the spaces for the better.

In the yellow room a damask curtain, bought at auction, was recycled into the covering. The warm tones in the fabric, pick up the red of the carpet and the yellow of the walls.

new window seat cushion in yellow room

For the blue room cushion, Violet donated a light blue velvet, and a dark blue velvet to cover the buttons. Violet overrode the material I had brought along as a bad colour choice, and I could only but agree but this was all I had. We rummaged around in Violet's bag of materials for about half-an-hour, considering carefully the different colour-ways. We even toyed with a number of blue-ish hued tartans. :-) I always thought I was very sensitive to colour, but Violet's artistic eye took things to a whole new level, and the final colour choice was just perfect. It turned out that the light blue material was resistant to being sewn by machine, and Violet had to hand sew the whole thing. I couldn't be more grateful for her endeavours beyond the call.

new window seat cushion in blue room

Gregor came to me a few days ago to ask if I wanted more windows seats in 3 new rooms we are fixing up. To be honest I had not really though about it, and initially said "no", because the rooms are large enough for chairs and I thought it would just be extra work.

I had obtained some pitch-pine tongue and groove lining from Lochee Parish Church in Dundee recently as it is being remodelled. I asked Gregor if he could recycle this for lining the windows. Unfortunately, it was just too short to reach from the bottom of the window to the floor. "Hang on a moment, " I said, "if we put in a window seat we can use the shorter lengths of lining above and below the seat level.". Suddenly, window seats became very attractive - it's an extra seat or surface if you ever need it.  Even then, they didn't quite reach the floor, but a bit of skirting board hides the gap:

new window seat with recycled framing timbers

Sadly, the supply of pitch-pine lining ran out far too soon, and we only managed to cover the seat back of the second window seat. For the bottom section we used bespoke modern lining copied from the Balintore original. The Lochee lining has an identical design, although it is a little narrower, but hopefully most people will simply not notice.

new window seat with 50% recycled framing timber

Gregor and I are living with the wonderful rich colour of the reclaimed pitch pine for now, but to suit the rest of the woodwork, we will probably have to paint it the same white which is a shame. One of the rooms has other dark wood detailing, so we may may be able to leave the pitch pine au naturel in this location.

What I love about the restoration of Balintore is paradoxically that there are so many constraints. It is a listed building so I am dedicated to putting back what was there before. However, we have to work with the reality of what has survived and what has disappeared, and the fact you cannot buy reclaimed materials to order, so how are we going to get everything to work together? The mix of solving practical problems and trying to achieve good-looking solutions is always a joy. 

To donate to the Balintore restoration project click here.


  1. What a lovely gesture from Violet. And Gregor is not only good in restoration and repair, he is also creative. Hurray to all!

    1. I think everyone enjoys the window seat work as the return to effort ratio is high. Gregor manages to build them very quickly. The third new window seat for the third new room was built today.

      The ones in the entrance tower look so right that it's hard to believe that they haven't always been there.

      Violet donated her services for free when she read the plea in my earlier blog article.

  2. Human kindness such as shown by Violet makes the world better. May you have plenty of these kind of blessings.