Friday, 13 November 2015
World of Interiors (in Quotes)
My parents replaced the old 50s stuff with a refained sort of repro Queen Anne with cabriole legs. (Blog commenter)
The flat above the café... was furnished in a style which seemed to have been copied from a Mae West film; the bedspread was of ruched orange silk, Spanish shawls and ostrich-feather fans copiously collected the dust on the walls, and pierrot dolls sprawled drunkenly on every horizontal surface. There was also a framed sampler, embroidered in cross-stitch and depicting a girl in a poke-bonnet and crinoline watering some hollyhocks. (West End People, Peter Wildeblood)
A throwback to the Celtic Tiger style, it looks like a car showroom. (New house near Dublin, Times March 2015)
Julian Fellowes confesses that he often thinks class is a hideous practical joke. ''For instance, the bathroom thing. There are people with comfortable bathrooms off their bedrooms, with carpets and things, and we always considered them rather middle class.” (NYT)
However rich the Astors, however grand and gilded the Cliveden salons, however luxe the food served in them, the upstairs arrangements were curiously spartan. Single gentlemen’s quarters were narrow bedrooms off school-like corridors, not very near a huge communal washroom. (Redeeming Features, Nicky Haslam)
Wicker chairs, a square of art carpet... On a bamboo table was an old vase which had been clumsily filled with golden chrysanthemums. (An arty interior from Edgar Wallace)
I don’t like modern design. I want something cosy and homely. Woodburner. That sort of thing. (Homes Under the Hammer)
Architectural fads are like pizza toppings, there's always a new one. (Maria Smith)
If something’s out of fashion, it’s probably about to come back. (James Lewis, Flog It!)
Everybody wanted to live in a Victorian cottage – and now everybody wants to live in a loft. (Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is)
Ebony elephants - there were also brass ash-trays, embroidered match-cases... a complete set of Dickens cigarette-cards, an electro-plated egg-boiler, a long pink cigarette-holder, several embossed boxes for pins from Benares... (the contents of a White Elephant stall from The Ministry of Fear by Graham Greene)
A water-colour of the Bay of Naples at sunset and several steel engravings and a photograph of the former Mr Purvis in the odd dated uniform of 1914. The ugly arm-chair, the table covered with a thick woollen cloth, the fern in the window. (Also from The Ministry of Fear, describing a furnished sitting-room that hasn’t been updated for 50 years – not since the 1890s. Note the framed photo as a class marker.)
In Georgette Heyer's No Wind of Blame, written in the 30s, a second husband grumbles about the first, a big-game hunter, leaving the house full of elephant’s foot umbrella stands and a gong made out of hippo’s tusks.
The living room was smartly furnished in an up to date style – a good deal of chromium and some large, square-looking easy chairs upholstered in a pale fawn geometric fabric. (In Agatha Christie's One Two Buckle My Shoe, the flat’s inhabitant is trying to give the impression of middle-income conventional 30s taste.)
In the early 50s, American Muriel Beadle spent a year in Oxford – her husband was a professor. In These Ruins Are Inhabited, she is shocked to find that Oxford isn’t a theme park – Anglo Saxon towers are mixed in with department stores and supermarkets. She is also surprised by the many Victorian buildings, and confesses that England is marketed to Americans as cathedrals and thatched cottages, with everything else cropped out.
Nor did our new house... look quite as much like Anne Hathaway’s as I had thought it might... The room was so little. So full of things. Samplers under glass. Della Robbia plaques. Venetian watercolours in heavy gilt frames. Corner cupboards stuffed with porcelain... Lamps with lace shades and velvet bows. A ship’s clock. Ceiling lights with crystal drops... I let my thoughts drift back to the big living-room in our Spanish-style house, with its unadorned white plaster walls and its wide open spaces of rug.
I once worked at an American firm whose offices were laid out like urban sprawl. We were all so far apart that if you set off with a message you’d forgotten it by the time you reached your destination. In the open-plan areas everyone had too much space, and was just too far away to talk to easily. The US staff found raises voices vulgar, and all business was conducted in a murmur. It was such a relief to get back to a cramped British office where you could talk to the person next to you and yell across the room.
More here, and links to the rest.