Sunday 18 January 2015

World of Interiors 5

A Radio 4 Interviewee who grew up on a council state says that the built environment expresses the class system – you know which layer you are in by looking at your surroundings. (But of course “There’s no such thing as class any more”.)

Daily Mail always mentions how much someone’s house cost (to locate them socially).

The fashion for a collection of junk shop flower paintings leaning against the wall has reached adverts.

If Upwards want to sit at a kitchen table they have to go to a posh café. For about 100 years, they have felt that they ought to aspire to Bohemia rather than Suburbia. They wouldn’t like it really.

Upwards hate people to make money out of property – unless it’s them – and it has to happen by accident. In the 70s and 80s they would buy a “shell” – a ruin that they spent years doing up themselves. They babbled of high ceilings and “beautifully proportioned” rooms, and spent all their weekends chipping paint off the original ceiling roses. (They have laptops and cafes now, and outsource the plaster-chipping.)

Were the houses built with high ceilings to prove that you could waste the space? Or because of Victorian superstitions about “foul air” and the miasmatic theory? It’s why Victorian schools were huge, high halls. The hot, “exhausted” air rose to the ceiling and fresh air came in through the windows and the pupils froze. One plus is that you can have tall windows that let in a lot of light, but tall rooms are harder to heat.

Property programmes are always asking “Are you going to change the layout?” This still shocks Samantha Upward slightly – are you really allowed to turn a kitchen into a bedroom? Houses had drawing rooms, dining rooms and kitchens (and perhaps halls, snugs and booteries). The most she and friends would do was “knock through” and talk knowledgeably about “RSJs”.

Upwards and Weybridges aspire to a big house at the end of a long, long drive so that you’re cut off from other people – they call this “tranquillity”. The drive is gravel, not tarmac. The Middletons have a tarmac drive at their large house in Berkshire – and what’s wrong with that? Too like a road? Not eco-friendly? Upwards love to get together and complain about people who “concrete over their front gardens”. Nouveau-Richards have a sea of gravel right up to their front door, so that 30 guests can park at once. Upwards can’t actually afford to move to the kind of house that has a drive, and besides they secretly love living in cities.

In American sitcoms, a vivid crocheted Afghan over the back of the sofa is a sign we’re in a blue-collar home. Same goes for ceiling fans.

Nouveau-Richards have “hobby farms”.

Oscar Wilde said that a gentleman never stands at a window. In the 60s, council estates were given windows that you can’t lean out of and shout down to someone in the street. (Oh, OK, they didn’t want people to fall out either.)

More here, and links to the rest.

Get the Look

According to the wonderful Great Interior Design Challenge:

a bit of bamboo
rustic: some exposed wood
French: carved wood painted grey
modern Shaker: a light made out of a silver birch log
authentic:  either “with a Middle Eastern feel” or “an old door turned into a coffee table”

I’d describe my style as modern vintage with a hint of kitsch... I like everything to be quite minimal, but at the same time I really love period features... I’m light, bright and a little bit crazy. 

The client wants a “sophisticated boutique style”. She gets “French sunshine with hints of traditional and a bit of a contemporary feel to it”.

I really like the vintage contemporary look.

It’s very colonial, I can feel it! Bamboo and everything... (Her colonial scheme includes a feature wall of mirrors.)

She’s got to keep it classy – don’t go too themey!

This is rustic meets industrial because rustic is really on trend just now. (The contestant’s “industrial” touch consisted of painting a standard-lamp black because factories are full of black stuff, yeah?)

And from Ebay:
Vintage retro Art Deco Edwardian style

Large vintage convex mirror – copper Arts and Crafts with Regency style! (It looks like a porthole, with token vestigial “rivets”.)

I think that, to Americans, "colonial style" is 17th-18th century. To Brits, it means bungalows in Poona.

More here, and links to the rest.

Decor Quotes

Mansion house

Don’t buy big just because you can. McMansions are so aesthetically awful, ecologically offensive, and ostentatious. Do you really need eight bedrooms?
(Males, Nails, Sample Sales by Stephanie Pearson)

I know you like shape, form, colour and texture! (Great Interior Design Challenge)

There’s a strong luxury presence out there – especially at the classic end. (Manufacturer of de luxe bedroom furniture on BBC Breakfast. Think he means "rich people".)

It is all the more shocking when you see the miserable-looking 1920's and 30's art-deco houses that the upper-middle class have traded for their former elegant 19th century residences. ( forum on the way immigrants live in Brussels’ 19th century centre while the rich have moved out to the suburbs: the city is just “the wrong way round”. Because of course 19th century houses ought to be inhabited by rich people, and it’s all wrong that they are forced to live in ghastly Art Deco monstrosities.)

Entering Dromborg Castle is like stepping into the past. The interior has exquisite details, including hand-carved moldings, fluted columns, high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, and antique lighting. The master suite has an appointments suitable for a lord and lady of the manor, complete with two dressing rooms, Tudor arches, marble tubs, and a sitting room. A chapel, men’s lounge, map room and wine cellar help complete the illusion. ( describes a nouveau riche home, Feb 2012)

With his black-walnut furniture, his jig-saw and turning-lathe methods of decoration, his lincrusta-walton and pressed terracotta, his chromos, wax flowers, hoop skirts, chokers, side whiskers and pantalettes, went a horrific revival of mock modesty inspired by the dying efforts of the old formulated religious thought. (Are You A Bromide? Gelett Burgess on mid-Victorian décor and attitudes.)

his jig-saw and turning-lathe methods of decoration: fretwork, often produced by amateurs

lincrusta-walton: patent shiny embossed wallpaper

pressed terracotta: bricks with decorative moulding

chromos: gaudily coloured and sentimental chromolithograph prints

hoop skirts: crinolines

pantalettes: lacy trousers to conceal women’s ankles and more

More here and links to the rest.