It’s inherently fire-retardant and a brilliant insulator. See how it ticks all these furnishing boxes in a sassy show home in Islington, October 12-16.
The Wool BnB is a main attraction of Campaign for Wool’s annual Wool Week, with events in shops and showrooms nationwide. Conveniently, the home is open until 9pm — no need to book, entry free. Demos, talks and workshops are in a special studio room — reserve a free place at campaignforwool.org.
The Wool BnB is a petite well-proportioned Georgian townhouse given a total woolly makeover, to the last knitted lampshade and felted door knob, by designer Karina Garrick, who’s been styling for the Campaign for Wool since it started in 2010.
“Wool has always had a feel-good factor, and these days it’s fresh and modern,” says Garrick. “I wanted my house to reflect this new energy, using oversized textures and lots of strong colour. Wool does take colour so beautifully.”
CARPETS WITH ATTITUDE
The wool starts at your feet. In recent times people have dismissed patterned carpets as a style no-no, with wooden floors paramount in the capital. But here are carpets with attitude, bold and a touch brash, from a new collection by Alternative Flooring whose style cred comes from Liberty archives.
There’s an uncompromising floral with ditsy daisies in candy pinks, sage, off-white and cornflower, and a slightly quieter but very swirly paisley. These patterns are even used together, in two halves of the long living room. Windows at each end enhance colours and highlight textures.
“Pattern on the floor actually makes less impact than it does on a wall,” says Garrick, who has picked a rich midnight blue paint to unify the room. Wool carpets have a secret weapon, it seems: they absorb and neutralise pollutants in the atmosphere (such as VOCs), which vacuum-cleaning later picks up. And a pattern disguises stains.
AFFORDABLE AND ACCESSIBLE
On the stairs are practical flat weave runners by Roger Oates, in stripes leading upwards. Upstairs is an elegant geometric rug from Marks & Spencer, which has also supplied cushions. “Wool is affordable and accessible to everyone, with lots of wool products now in department stores and on the high street,” says Garrick, who has also used upholstery from Sofa.com, throws and cushions from Welsh weavers Melin Tregwynt, pouffes from Tetrad in Harris tweed and weaves from Abraham Moon (founded in 1837 and one of the last British “vertical” mills, dyeing, blending, carding, spinning, warp-weaving and finishing fabrics).
Opposite the living room is a bedroom, more subdued, with deep olive green walls and a luxurious Vispring bed with thick Shetland wool mattress, plus wool headboard and bed base. There is a stack of wool-filled cushions, layers of throws and blankets and thick plain curtains “puddling” the floor.
Then comes the fun part: the ubiquitous and exuberant handmade craft and art. There is a full-English totally knitted breakfast table by Jessica Dance on a circular table — eggs, bacon, sauce bottle and all — where even the toast has a ribbed edge. A huge white tangled artwork hangs from a batten over the enclosed wood-burning stove. There are woven flatweave rugs in jolly colours, and pile carpets on the wall as art. Completely knitted table and standard lamps are plugged in ready to work. Other touches include cheeky felted toys and knitted clouds along a mantelpiece.
“Craft today is cool and increasingly popular,” Garrick observes. “These pieces are inspirational, full of ideas, and we’ll be hosting workshops for basic skills.” Out in the garden is a small rainbow-coloured flock, with a knitted sheep in the wooden “shepherd’s hut”.
Sheep are wittily celebrated. Up on the shocking pink wall of the snug (off the living room) are mounted and framed prints of different breeds — from a scary ram with double horns to a frilly-fleeced ewe. The UK has more than 60 pure breeds, more than any other country, plus around 25 cross-breeds.
British wool is exceptionally strong, durable and resilient, perfect for household furnishings. Just one example is Exmoor Horn, from about 120 sheep farmers.
They’ve commissioned merchandise to show off their wool, supplying cushions for the show house. They also sell knitting wool dyed in a range of moorland colours.
The Wool BnB is at 35 Englefield Road, N1. Book a stay through Airbnb from October 24.