Saturday, 19 January 2013

World of Interiors 1

One or two, maybe three decorative pillows can work, but after that a bed starts to look like a department store showroom… Understand the virtues of patina, faded fabric, peeling paint, and old chintz. (Guardian, May 11 2012 – make it look as if your family has lived there for centuries)

A friend reports that a posher acquaintance is bullying him to buy curtains at Curtain Exchange because at Homebase you can’t avoid contact with common people. At Curtain Exchange you get curtains pre-owned by People Like Us.

Middle-class Upwards used to buy a cheap Victorian or Georgian “shell” and live in it while they did it up. This took years, so their look was bare plaster, colourful ethnic textiles, bare boards and a lot of dust. Can we now say what hell this was, and how we hate chipping layers of paint off ceiling roses, and how wonderful it is to buy a house you can move straight into? And employ tradesmen to do the work?

Upwards could never never have a sofa with controls (to raise a footrest, rotate a section, turn on the telly…) Or an extractor fan that rose from a kitchen island at the touch of a button. They really didn’t like dimmer switches – what happened to them? Upward sofas are never comfortable enough or big enough. They like to tell you that in the olden days people sat on hard, upright chairs.

People with Farrow and Ball painted doors don’t have doorbells, notes architect Charles Holland. (Hungarian immigrant George Mikes observed that the British won’t paint a name or a number on their houses.)

In the 70s, Upwards bought a Victorian rocking horse, had it restored, and placed it in the front window of their living room so passers-by could see how tasteful they were. They don’t have net curtains, so their front room is an advert for themselves.

The middle classes buy real old cottages and rework the interior to make it more “cottagey”.

Old carriage lamps
outside your front door used to be a class marker for the middle middle Weybridges, but they seem to have gone out anyway. (They went with painted carriage or wagon wheels in your garden, or propped against your front wall, and those stone mushrooms barns used to stand on.)

When the middle classes (and upper) say “dining table” they mean one that will seat 12 – or 20 if you add extra leaves. No wonder you need a separate “dining room” to put it in. Middle-class Sam Upward is a bit puzzled when lower middle-class Jen Teale says she’s going to put a “dining table” by the window in her kitchen – she means a small, light table with four chairs. Upwards never eat at a table pushed against a wall (though they might at a pinch put one in a bay window).

The Nouveau-Richards don't care:
Hedge fund trophy home. Besides the usual basket-ball court and wine cellar, it has an observatory, a carousel, a 150-seat theatre, a petting zoo, a trading floor, and a fully equipped laboratory. Doonesbury

Nouveau-Richards have a media room with leather sofas and the flat-screen telly rather high up and far away on a wall. Not cosy.

Elin Nordegren, the former Mrs Tiger Woods, has demolished her termite-ridden, 90-year-old mansion and is building a replica in its place with:

9 bedrooms
2 large living rooms
huge formal dining room
2 kitchens
large pool
grotto
pool cabana with huge living room
2 jacuzzis
detached guest house with 3 bedrooms
3 guest bungalows
wine cellar
vast master wing with walk-in closet
basement that runs the entire length of the house

More décor here. And more here. And here.

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