(james benedict brown) on the road

The Glaswegian Billy

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 29 September, 2008

A friend came round to see the new apartment shortly after I moved in and, after seeing a few rooms, suddenly recalled having been here before. She hadn’t known the last tenants, but the ones before them, and recalled the dancing at a particularly raucous fancy dress party which apparently gave the floor of the living room it’s distinctive stilleto-attacked texture.

My attempts at being original with décor, such as suggesting the alcove off the kitchen as a kind of pantry or the deep kitchen window sill as an indoor herb garden, were all matched with the confirmation that that was, in fact, how the previous tenants had done it.

“We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.” – Winston Churchill.

Most of the furniture in the apartment (which, it must be said, is obscenely large) is second-hand, sourced through friends, family and Glasgow Freecycle. This weekend saw another visit to the blue and yellow big box of credit card crunching for some smaller items and two larger purchases from the Expedit range of bookcases. Having first experienced this Swedish furniture store while growing up as a child in Cambridge I think I can now hazard a guess that Expedit is to Glasgow what Billy is to Cambridge. While I acknowledge that my upbringing and context is decidedly middle class, I can’t recall visiting a house in Cambridge that didn’t have at least one Billy bookcase. Since arriving in Glasgow, I can’t recall being welcomed in a single home (or even architects’ office) that hasn’t had at least one Expedit bookcase, usually in white. They’re everywhere, and the arrival of two such units in my apartment symbolises to me that – as far as Glaswegian interior design goes – I have no hope of being original. But they are very attractive units, with deliberate shadow depths between the thick and thin components to ensure that even the most ham-fisted of home assemblers can produce a consistent and smart finish. They can be stood vertically or horizontally without any problem and come with the attachments to secure them to the wall if necessary. Attaching feet (£7 for four) to the “thin” unit above has turned it into a simple sideboard that both holds my pretty tatty collection of coffee table books (from comic books on the left via architecture to fine art on the right) and works as focus to the room.

I know I keep saying this, but I think the apartment is finally beginning to feel like home.


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