I wanted to create some affordable upholstery fabric for a mid century chair. An all over pattern would make a nice change as this chair had been upholstered in plain fabric and going for a pattern would give it a new look. Something a little bit "mid century" was in order but the Florence Broadhurst patterns were the wrong scale so a little adaption and resizing and I created a stencil to print a painter's drop cloth to make enough fabric to cover this chair. Drop cloths have a great texture and are quite hard wearing and inexpensive. I used screen printing paste mixed with acrylic paint to make a tan colour. that compliments the timber frame.
I have being completing a research project on Venetian textiles and during the course of this project I have looked at many magazines. I found this image of a charming two seater sofa. This featured in quite an old Vogue living magazine from the early 1980s. It is a classic club style sofa covered in a soft cotton. Add some interesting scatter cushions and a fantastic painting, and a lovely wine table and you have a timeless setting, that could have been created yesterday. I also love the glass panelled door. Great for keeping the cat out but letting light into a dark room.
I am rather partial to a mid century sideboard. You can never have too many. This one has been moved to our new "den" a room to catch the north and western sun in the winter. We plan on sitting in this room and reading or listening to music. We have just laid new carpet in 'chocolate'. This colour makes a definite statement and works with the mid century striped velvet armchair. The sideboard is a classic Parker from the 1960s. We own two of these and they are very useful for storing lots of goodies. The hanging bookshelves are "string" vintage from the 1950s. I love the magazine rack at the bottom. I use it to display my 1960s Scandinavian magazines that make great references for hunting down furniture.
One of my hobbies is to visit Leonard Joel's auction rooms searching for little treasures to add to my different rooms. I often come across items that I didn't know I needed. I enjoy the random objects that appear in auctions. Often the objects are quite unique and will add that little accent needed to complete a space. But I confess sometimes I buy things because they are just a bargain and I can't resist.
This lot included the moulded glass candlesticks and the glass jelly moulds. The candlesticks found a home in our dining room and the jelly moulds live on open shelves in the kitchen. I used both on Christmas day. Glass jelly moulds can be a little tricky to use but the secret is to pour warm water into the mould and pour it out again before you pour in your jelly mixture.
Mid Century design to me is about modesty subtlety and democracy. Interiors that feature this furniture have an understated warm serenity about them.
The Scandinavians brought humanity to the modernists. Using materials local to their geography, mainly timber, rather than the chrome and stainless steel of the early modernists, they interpreted the modernist dictum in a way that made it much more acceptable to a general public. Many people were comfortable with the Scandinavian style of the 1960s and hence it spread throughout the world. Many local companies were established to manufacture their own take on this look. It was based on craftsmanship, featuring leading designers like Hans Wegner who was a master cabinetmaker. So style came back the some of the ideals of the arts and crafts movement. Australian manufacturers Parker Furniture in Sydney produced a beautifully refined range of furniture that was well designed and well manufactured. In Melbourne Fleur produced some, well detailed, furniture as well. It is something I enjoy collecting and hunting down that illusive piece. So these images are a sneak preview of our latest project, affectionately known as the ‘west wing’. It is a space that has been designed to house some of our favourite pieces as well as provide a wall of storage and space for about 500 books on art and design.
So I should really call this post mid century serenity.
As Summer is starting to fade in Melbourne and we have some cloudy days that hint at Autumn. I post some images of our garden and little conservatory. Our garden has been so pretty this year with accents of ruby red flowers contrasting with all the green foliage.
Its been a while since I have written any posts. I have been busy with my many and varied projects. I tried to make Christmas a deadline so I could tick items off our list. So I am posting some pics from our Christmas decor. We had a lovely day and count ourselves very lucky as many people on the Victorian coast were evacuating for bushfires.
It has been many years since we had a tree, so this year I decided to get out my mother's tree she bought in New Zealand in 1961. It is very sweet, made from dyed duck feathers. I gathered all our old decorations and settled on a gold theme. The tree is quite fine and delicate so no lights as they are too heavy, and no tinsel to overwhelm the decorations.
When I first became interested in design while I was still at school, I was drawn to Art Deco. Well it was the 1970s Great Gatsby, the movie with Robert Redford has started the nostalgic interest in all things Art Deco and I remember Evelyn Waugh books were relaunched with deco inspired cover illustrations. I confess I first read 'decline and fall' because of the cover. My father had purchased an Art Deco dining suite for his parents in the 1930s and he was keen on the modern style. Our little house in the country is a classic Art Deco inspired Californian Bungalow, but when we first furnished it we chose Mid century modernist pieces as they had a casual but stylish feel the look we wanted for our second home.
But now I want to find a home for my father's Art deco suite and to display it and appreciate it as he once did. So we have redecorated our dining room and as you can see from the photos it has a very different feel from the mid century look, see blog 3/9/2014. We only modified the colour scheme, by painting the walls a slightly deeper colour, this time we went for a Porter's colour, 'Camel'. I like the very matt finish the Porter's paint has and it complements the classic deco timber detailing. We finally got around to restoring the tapestry brick fireplace too. This now gives the room its focal point once again. We changed the striped sisal rug for a velvet pile from Supertuft Carpets, and made the dining table with its strongly grained timber the main focus. The room now has a much more formal feel to it. It is more luxurious and glamourous finally giving this art deco furniture a fitting home. Oh the mid century suite of furniture, never fear that to has a new home, stay tuned.
In this photo the ceiling is visible you can see the dentil edge cornice and corrugated ceiling rose. We reused our light fittings as they had a bauhaus modern feel, that fitted in with our take on Art Deco. The uplighter a popular fitting of the 1920s bounces light to highlight the ceiling details.
There are many essentials to my life, but I thought I would talk about one in particular : calico. This is such a versatile and affordable fabric. Honest and practical, it adds a noble note to a room. It has many uses not only for furnishings including making toiles or patterns when creating clothes. Christian Dior used it as interlining to stabilise and add structure to his costumes, and of course it makes great dust covers for protecting furniture. I like to use it for curtains and blinds and also as curtain linings. It drapes well and you can use generous quantities without feeling guilty about blowing your budget. Many years ago a client asked me to stencil a Greek key border onto some calico curtains to dress the windows in her antique shop. They were very successful. Stylish yet affordable. When I was creating the kitchen library in our country house I thought I would repeat the idea. Calico works with both modern and traditional furniture. I also like to have a few meters put aside in case I am feeling creative. You can print, dye or stencil calico to create sumptuous fabrics as well.
I have been reorganising my rather large stash of fabrics and I have been doing a little reminiscing about past projects. One fabric I came across I have always loved. I can't remember where we used it but I am sure it was used for fabulous curtains with strong graphic borders and possibly a bonded blind with the border applied to the base. This is my favourite colour way, brown,black and it is very classic. The design was by Warner Fabrics and was called Oakleaf Trellis and was printed onto a lovely crisp cotton chintz. I think this one is due for a revival it is very today.
Hi I am Elizabeth an interior designer who lives in Melbourne, Australia in a little Californian Bungalow cottage with my partner, Max, who is also an Interior Designer, and our beloved furry children, Doris & Ernest. I believe that design can make our lives more rewarding and productive. I love, architecture and design theory but my everyday passion is fabrics and decoration, as I don't think we should get too serious but have fun with our homes and enjoy the process of creating our own environments. I am interested in classic cars, and collect Georgian and Mid Century furniture.