Friday 12 January 2018

World of Interiors 12

Arranging books on shelves with spines inwards is a ridiculous “trend” much touted in early 2018. (To achieve the same effect, cover your books in neutral-coloured paper, as people used to do.)

"I suppose we’ve always reused things", says Caro Stow-Crat, over lunch with Samantha Upward at a new eaterie accessorised with redundant kitchen equipment. "An old hot water can is splendid for watering the garden. But I get a bit depressed by all these empty cake stands and old fire buckets. It’s OK to reuse things, but as decoration? I suppose it’s the same as hanging up copper warming pans and carpet beaters, like they did in the 50s. Now, what can I do with granny's spill vases…?"

"Put pencils in them," suggests Samantha. "Oh, look, a lovely old wooden Camembert box. And a Horlicks mug... I must confess I stole a Fortnum's chocolate box from a girl at school. I used it as a pencil case and kept it for years. We call it "repurposing" now!"

Country Living Magazine shows a bedroom with a wooden four-poster bed (though the posts are too short to hold up a canopy). The floorboards are exposed but have been sanded and sealed too aggressively (they’re orange and look too new). The door is made of recycled wood and looks like a stable door (in a Georgian house). There are recycled planks stuck to the wall, forming a backdrop to a Victorian picture of some sheep in a gilt frame. The whole effect is of a titled family down on its luck that has been forced to camp in an outbuilding.

Though it's not quite as decadent as the “abandoned houses of the Hebrides” aesthetic, which shades into “servants’ quarters of derelict Irish country house”.

The School of Life’s perfect home is, again, Georgian. The floorboards are exposed, though they at least look antique. The Georgians would have put down drugget, and covered it with Turkish carpets. There’s a chest of drawers floating randomly in a corner, and an open trunk on the floor. A distressed leather pouffe is the crowning touch – or is it a Gladstone bag?

DECOR CRIMESIn a Victorian/Edwardian house, it's naff to expose the fireplace and put a copper hood inside, then add a wood mantelpiece of the wrong period. The fireplace would have had an inner “surround”, with a cast iron grate in the middle. The Edwardians and earlier would have been appalled at exposed brick in your living-room. A Victorian room would have had a wide mantelpiece (with drapery on the mantelshelf), and the Edwardians loved elaborate overmantels. (I've just seen a room in a house for sale painted entirely in peach – including the fireplace, mantelpiece and grate.)

In a Victorian house, don't strip the doors: paint them cream.

And don't knock through and extend so enthusiastically that you end up with odd bits of wall sticking into spaces. In this arrangement, the same dull fitted carpet “flows” through the entire ground floor. Everything is too new, but there’s one ye olde artefact in the wrong place (the potato weighing scales in the living room).

Think twice before adding a “glass box” extension to a standard semi. So you remove all downstairs dividing walls and build a huge glass-roofed extension into the garden, removing all character from because you need lots of space to... do what exactly?

The entrance hall, which was big enough to contain a large fireplace, had probably been designed to be used as a breakfast-room. The first thing seen on coming in was... a wood-carving of a helmeted guardsman with a shield and spear standing on a pediment carved with animal heads. (The Great Indoors, Ben Highmore on a Jacobethan castle – from the 30s.)

White walls and a large black-and-white photograph of pebbles .(The Great Indoors, Ben Highmore)

Dangling replica antique light bulbs (Edison bulbs). They give out a dim, cold light that you can’t read by.

Fake shuttered concrete internal cladding.

Garish carpets in public spaces.

Very dim lighting in public spaces and museums.

“Restoring” Victorian ghost signs.

Giant sculptures of human body parts in public places (a half-sunk visage in Cavendish Square, huge nudes outside St Pancras church blocking the view of the beautiful caryatids).

Terrible modern art in medieval cathedrals.
Frosted glass partitions.
Buildings in the shape of a giant human head. (Le Guetteur 2015)

Sentimental garden sculptures, “sculpture park” sculpture, memorial sculpture.

From The Times
carpet in bathrooms
armchairs ditto
TV in every room
Roman blind in kitchen
pedestal mats in the loo
cat litter in kitchen (and cat food)
utensil rack above hob
Victorian pulley clothes drier (maiden)
Aga in the city "They’re used mainly for heating country houses.”

More here, and links to the rest.

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