When you are an ordinary mortal, furnishing a room can be an expensive process, so I like to acquire pieces that are going to be around for a long time. Items that are well designed and classical. Camel back sofas are always elegant, striped fabrics are classic, brass wall sconces will always have a place. The odd oil portrait will add gravatis to a room. This room shown below contains all these items, they could be bought yesterday or been collected over the years, they all make a serene and elegant sitting room. David Robertson and Frank Brennikmeyer's house appeared in World of Interiors July 1997. It contains many of my favourite items arranged in an understated elegant room. Country Georgian furniture, includes a Pembroke table, a pair of demi lune side tables striped upholstery on a wing chair, simple blue and white chinoiserie ceramics and a Persian rug are all items that are timeless.
Like many of my design heroes, Jocasta Innes is no longer with us. Jocasta Innes was a British journalist who wrote many books on interior decoration and paint finishes. I would venture to say she started the paint finish revolution of the 1980s with her book Paint Magic first published in 1981. Jocasta wrote books that were informative, inspirational and a joy to read. While they were full of ideas and techniques they read like stories. When I first came upon Paint Magic I was still a young student studying interior decoration and design. We had covered, and even in our prac classes, tried out many of the paint techniques, like stencilling and sponging and glazing, but our teachers while great technicians were not very creative when it came to how we might apply these finishes. Jocasta's book showcased beautiful and subtle examples by companies like Colefax and Fowler and painters like Graeme Carr. The book was a revelation to me and as each new edition came out I bought another one. Jocasta also wrote other books on interior decoration and I bought those as well. Each was entertaining but practical as well. She brought out stencils and paint techniques books with Stewart Walton and these were added to my library. I still refer to these when I want to check a technique or get some new inspiration. I have continued to introduce paint techniques to most of my design commissions and my own homes as well. Some you would hardly notice and others are focal points to a room. I have Jocasta to thank for all this.
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.
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.