Tuesday, 17 May 2016

1980's Art Deco revival

Last weekend my parents bought my a little treat from a car boot sale - they know how much of a retro fetish I have. Bless them - they bought me this framed print of Jean Yarwood's "Jay Walk" for the grand sum of 50p:

 Jean Yarwood's "Jay Walk, in a red frame, bought at car boot sale for 50p

They bought it, also, because a series of Yarwood's pictures used to adorn the walls of the spare room in my family home, back in the late 80's/early 90's, and they knew how much I would enjoy owning one again. I was particularly delighted by this purchase, as I had recently bought a similar picture in pink (not Yarwood, however) when out on a day trip, possibly in Lincoln. And the similarities between the two prints brought me to write this article, where I will focus on the 80's revival of Art Deco.

80's Art Deco lady in pink picture, bought at charity shop for £1

Through the use of pictures, in this short article I will show just a few of the likenesses I have come to find in the major style factors of both the 1930's and the 1980's, and how they both focussed quite heavily on the use of Art Deco. Two of the major indicators of current trends in design, for me at least, are art and architecture. See here the artwork of two artists at the forefront of the 80's deco movement, Patrick Nagel and Clive Eagar:

A Patrick Nagel artwork

A print by Clive Eagar, courtesy of www.posterperfection.com

And for comparison, a period Vogue cover by Spanish born artist Eduardo Garcia Benito (1891 - 1981)

Comparisons made between architecture of the time also creates cause for discussion regarding the two "Deco" periods, the front cover of Steven's Brooke's "Miami Beach Deco" highlighting the use of Art Deco architecture in the 1980's, here shown in comparison with the Chrysler Building, New York, built in 1928.

Miami archicteture, as shown on the front cover of "Miami Beach Deco", by Steven Brooke

The Chrysler Building, New York, courtesy of blirk.net

And the similarities do not stop there; they are in every walk of life imaginable, from the china we drink from, to the doors we walk through, the notices we read, and the clothing and jewellery we wear..

Left: a 1930's "Bignou" pattern cup from the Clarice Cliff Bizarre range; Right: 80's inspired earrings as featured in Glamour magazine

Left: genuine 20's/30's Art Deco interior doors; Right: a Botany 500 jumper from the 1980's

Left: Original Art Deco advert for Louis Vitton luggage; Right: 1980's/90's Razzia perfume advert

Left: An Art Deco bronze cougar sculpture by Milo; Right: 80's style earrings by www.fridalasvegas.com

From the bright clean lines and colours, triangles in abundance, to the use of shapely silhouettes and figures, often of animals and glamorous hat-wearing beauties, to the essentials of an era - art and architecture - these photographs show a fantastic comparison of decades, 50 years apart. I hope that the 80's have as much of a showing in 2030. And I hope my parents discover more Jean Yarwood prints at car boot sales for half a quid.

An 80's interior, taking the 1980's spin on 20's/30's Art Deco to a new level, courtesy of Tumblr deargenekelly

All photographs belong to their respective owners with the exception of those of my own house and rooms/items therein. I make no claim to own pictures used for illustrative purposes. Please contact me should there be any issue with pictures used/credits attributed to pictures used.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Clawfoot bathtubs

When you are a little girl and you see all of those beautiful things in catalogues, you wow and coo, and think "yes, that's what I'll be having in MY home", as you sit there, leafing through page after page with excitement as you dream of your future house. You look around you, and you wonder why your parents don't have so and so, etc. It is when you get older, of course, that you understand about money, and not just that - but the upheaval of having your house smashed to bits with hammers to be rebuilt again, and that life is not always so simple as pointing something out in a book and saying "I'll have that one" like you're ordering a drink.

I have always dreamed of having a clawfoot bathtub. My new house purchase, as lovely as it is, unsurprisingly does not have one - it is a 1950's ex council property. My bathroom is not gruesome by any means, and is looking better by the day under my care. In fact, I have a very sweet 80's/90's "shell" bathroom suite in white, which fits in well with my vintage decor. I cannot afford a new bathtub, nor can I afford the mess it would bring to my life. So when I saw the following sign, my purchase number two this week, bought in Skipton for £4, I thought it would add the touch of clawfoot tub glamour I seek for my bathroom:

A "Bathroom Rules" sign, shaped like a clawfoot tub

Bathing was once a great luxury, and clawfoot tubs were considered to be the height of luxury in the late 19th century, having being regarded as the ultimate staple of Victorian bathroom styling. The Victorians certainly enjoyed their privacy - some of the baths had shower enclosures and rounded hoods with shower rings and curtains - and, indeed, their luxury - the bathtubs came in different shapes, including the double ended slipper bath, which peaked at both ends for maximum comfort when having a soak. The clawfoot was large enough for a tall man to comfortably lie down in, and also for the servants, who were not only involved in the laboursome filling of the tub with water, but who also need to manoeuvre within the tub in order to to wash their masters - a futher denotation of how these items were luxury items for the rich.

It therefore comes as no shock to hear that when the extremely roomy clawfoot was originally developed in the late 1800's, by a combination of ideas from the J.L. Mott Iron Works Company and the Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company (now known as American Standard)/the Kohler company, who both between them developed a process of enamelling the exteriors and interiors of the cast iron so that the paint would not peel off the sides, the tubs had initially been used to bathe livestock. Kohler’s first clawfoot tub was advertised as a “horse trough/hog scalder, when furnished with four legs will serve as a bathtub.” The surface provided was one which was easy to clean and, because of this, the tubs rapidly grew in popularity for use in a domestic setting, making bathing popular once again. Prior to the 1800's bathing had actually fallen out of fashion and, until the installation of underground sewage systems in European cities in the early 19th century, people used perfume upon their clothes and bodies rather than bathe.

A Victorian bathroom illustration J.L. Mott Iron Works in 1899, courtesy of vintageplumbing.com

As the popularity of clawfoot bathtubs grew, their designs became more intricate. As well as having the three major different styles (roll top, slipper and doubled ended slipper), the ornate inspiration for the feet is typically Victorian, as ball and claw feet were used in much furniture at the time. The ball and claw foot design was developed in Holland in the early 1700's, and grew from bring a Chinese dragon grasping a pearl, to the common motif we know today across the world, with the lion paw and ball being more popular here in England, where the eagle claw and ball is a more popular image in the US. Regarding the clawfoot tub, the legs do vary according to design, the most known being the traditional clawfoot, pawfoot, cannonball and armada, as illustrated below:

The four major clawfoot tub foot styles, the comparison picture created by https://houseappeal.wordpress.com/

From an item which has gone from bathing cattle, to the epitome of Victorian bathroom fashion, to having its feet confiscated in recent times of war, their metal being used to create weapons, bullets and other war supplies (many antique bathtubs have since been restored with replica feet that match the original design of the tub), to then being replaced almost completely during the Art Deco era by the easier to clean "pedestal tub" and the built-in, double-walled single bathtub created in 1911...

An Art Deco "Pedestal" style bathtub, available to buy at http://www.signaturehardware.com

An example of a built-in Edwardian bathtub from Lord Bute's bathroom located in the Bute Tower, Cardiff Castle from www.hevac-heritage.org

... the clawfoot tub is now making the comeback that it so rightly deserves. Its effortlessly elegant design has taken on a "timeless classic" status, both in our hearts, and in our bathrooms. And though I may not currently be able to afford one, they are finally an item which can be afforded by the everyday Joe, and not a luxury item purely for the higher classes anymore. Not only are there many styles of feet as shown above, the colour combinations and materials are no longer restricted to white enamel/porcelain. The possibilities are now endless, and attainable, due to the new acrylic material used to create modern clawfoot tubs. Relax and unwind as I leave you, soaking in the following beautiful examples from http://www.signaturehardware.com

All photographs belong to their respective owners with the exception of those of my own house and rooms/items therein. I make no claim to own pictures used for illustrative purposes. Please contact me should there be any issue with pictures used/credits attributed to pictures used.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

80's/90's Chintz and other tasteless beauty

Whilst I have no shortage of topics to focus on when I look around my house, it is when I truly start looking that I don't know where to start! Because there are so many fascinating items, with as equally interesting stories behind them. So I will start with the here and now, and this week's purchase number one: a 80's/90's era floral waste paper bin from a charity shop in Otley, £1.50.

80's/90's Floral waste paper bin

I was particularly struck with how corny this was (something you will hear often in this blog), but so much so that I spotted it the minute I walked in the shop. I knew I liked it, because I am not the sort to walk around town with a waste paper bin tucked under my arm like a one man band playing the drum. Which reminds me of my great aunt, who was visited on a regular basis by a man who popped round to the flat, just for a chat, with a chair leg tucked under his arm. Maybe he too was so taken with his charity shop find that he didn't mind everyone thinking he was a berk.

It reminded me greatly of that wonderfully tasteless style which bled from the 80's pastel chintz to the 90's, where everything was dark (hunter) green and gold, and highly adorned with ivy, brash flowers, grapes, or as Liberace might remark, a return for his "palatial kitsch" - that is, if something which was never there to begin with could ever return - combined with the country farmhouse look. The following picture illustrates this beautifully:

Better Homes Magazine, an "on-trend" 90's room

However, this picture - illustrates 80's/90's chintz perhaps not so beautifully. One of the many gems from Ugly House Photos which demonstrate how once stylish things (and indeed still stylish things) can be made to look, quite frankly, unfashionable.

80's/90's chintz today, looking a little outdated, courtesy of http://uglyhousephotos.com

By the end of the 90's, UK TV makeover shows were rife, and the curtain-stapling antics of Changing Rooms and House Doctor, which saw Californian real-estate stylist Ann Maurice (that's pronounced MOW-REESE) "fix" ugly English homes and make them saleable again after decades of decorating abuse. We stripped style bare, with block primary colours and little clutter, and eventually moved to an all white, back-to-Scandinavian clean lines look for the new Millennium, which was greatly assisted by the arrival of Ikea. "Chuck out your chintz," they sang, heartily.

And chintz is where I go from here, because, prior to the 1990's, chintz was at it's height in the 1980's. I am quite the fan of chintz, particularly the modern Cath Kidson style revival of such patterns, but that is a post for another day, as I have a great deal of that sort of thing littering my little semi detached. Focussing on genuine retro chintz, I have the odd item, but not nearly enough. See the following two photographs:

A gold framed hexagonal mirror with pink chintz surround, bought from auction in mixed lot of prints (right), with dark wood framed Parisian print charity find (centre) and black cameo vinyl wall decal (left)

Miniature pink chintzy chest of drawers with gold handles, bought from Ebay (centre), with 1960's purple dog ornament (above) and Hornsea Fauna vase (right), from an antiques centre and charity shop respectively

Chintz was originally a woodblock printed, painted or stained calico, which was produced in India from 1600 to 1800 and was a popular choice for bed covers, quilts, curtains etc - much the same as what it is used for today. Over these two hundred years, the chintz pattern became steadily more popular in Europe as it was brought over the sea, with English and French merchants bringing over large quantities. When the fashionable young things of Europe starting wearing chintzy clothes, the trend became so phenomonally popular, chintz was actually outlawed would you believe, as suppliers could not keep up with demand. In 1720 England's Parliament enacted a law that forbade "the Use and Warings in Apparel of imported chintz, and also its use or Wear in or about any Bed, Chair, Cushion or other Household furniture". But with the Court of Versailles being outside the law, the rebels still found a way to rock their chintz. Chintz will never be kept down, and the Kidson revival of late stands testament to that very fact.

Chintz from the Coromandel Coast, India, c. 1710–1725. V&A Museum, courtesy of Wikipedia

And in stark contrast date-wise, but really very similar style-wise, a 2016 summer bomber jacket by New Look, £29.99, as featured in Glamour magazine.

Chintz speaks for itself, so let me leave you with a few chintz style icons of our lifetimes: Laura Ashley, who, having started out making scarves and tea towels for the WI on a primitive printing press, became one of the UK's leading fabric designers from the 1950's to the present day, and Mario Buatta, the "Prince of Chintz", who designed interiors for many famous US faces, from the president of Ford Motor Co, Henry Ford II, to pop songstress Mariah Carey. So here I leave you on a high - with some of the best of their work, and hope that it inspires you to incorporate the wonderful thing that is chintz into your home.

Laura Ashley runners

Laura Ashley - County Show Collection

From the Laura Ashley catalogue

Mario Buatta - Blair House, the President's guest house

Mario Buatta - a bedroom in Houston, Texas

Mario Buatta - New York Penthouse

All photographs belong to their respective owners with the exception of those of my own house and rooms/items therein. I make no claim to own pictures used for illustrative purposes. Please contact me should there be any issue with pictures used/credits attributed to pictures used.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

My house, room by room

This is my house, as it is currently. Some of the rooms are rather finished, whereas others (the garden mainly) are only just getting started.

The Living Room is a melting pot of styles, but mainly focuses on a 60's/70's vibe, with heaving, eclectic shelves.

The Kitchen battles between Victorian tearoom and 1950s diner and I wouldn't have it any other way.

The Hall is a homage to pop art and popular culture, bursting with kitsch.

The Stairs are more muted than the brash colours of the hall, and take on a gallery effect.

The Bedroom is my chintz sanctuary.

The Bathroom takes you to the British seaside with an ice cream, with a flurry of advertisements for vintage soaps and perfumes also.

The Spare Room is my villa in the sun, it's my palacial Cambodian hotel, it's my Brazilian cobbled mountain cafe - a travel theme for everywhere I've been.

My Garden is the last blank canvas.

Welcome to my blog

Recently I bought a little house with my partner, in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England - where I was born nearly 30 years ago.

It filled me with such joy to have a place of my own to decorate how ever I wanted (my gentleman is very understanding!). My parents, or my more specifically, my mother, was/is obsessed with fashion decor, and their house could be back-dated almost to the year by the paint effects they had used on the walls (rag rolling - remember that?), "Fresh Fruit" matching accessories in the kitchen, to the opening of Ikea in nearby Nottingham.

I always wondered why anything had to be "on trend" and why such invisible rules were put in place. After all, it is a new millennium we live in, and a free, extremely expressive and vocal country. Why couldn't we just have what we wanted in our houses? And what business was it of anyone else's? So long as I wasn't running a brothel behind closed doors. And even if I was, rest assured I would keep the noise down after 10pm.

My recently acquired decorating freedom came mostly at the same time as a new job in the city's antiques quarter, and so now my mind is awash with the beauty of everyday artefacts of old on a daily basis, and I am lucky enough to be continually exposed to hundreds and thousands of tasty vintage morsels, once treasured and adored by their owners, from fine art to biscuit tins. I am so taken with so many of these items, it will come as no surprise that my love of retro, eclectic decor is less of a style and more of a inevitable development.

I love beautiful things. They aren't all expensive. In fact, most of them aren't. They aren't all old. Some simply look old at a fraction of the price. But they are all beautiful. And even more beautiful when they are together. Good items simply fall together. Here is my journey of decorating my new house in this style. Join me, please. And I intend to make it as interesting as possible along the way.