Monday, 10 March 2014

Living in Style

Anaglypta dado
After the retro look? Try one of these.

1850s Plate-glass windows muffled in several layers of drapery: blinds, nets, lined curtains. The view was further blocked by potted plants and glass cases full of rare ferns.

1890s Clutter, clutter, clutter, occasional tables, draped shelves, triple window drapes, bobble fringes, draped brackets (but not piano legs), ornaments, pictures, flowery wallpaper, flowery carpet, dust, portières, draught excluders. Potted palms in jardinieres on stands, plaster alsatians, twig effect picture frames, marbled glass lampshades and anaglypta dados painted glossy brown. (Anaglypta was a kind of wipe-clean embossed wallpaper, and a dado is a decorative strip running round the walls to about waist height. You can still get anaglypta in many patterns, including one that looks like swirly Artex.)

00s and 10s: Arts and Crafts peasant style (a bit like shabby chic now). Trees in pots, checkerboard patterns, women in rational dress. Stencils. Painted pottery, barge-painting. Green, blue, red. External wood painted white.

00s and beyond Internal woodwork painted brown because it’s – wood colour. External wood painted dark brown, burgundy, forest green, Kelly green or white. Rooms edited a la William Morris, leaving a few items of oak furniture, blue-and-white plates, books, flowers. Pewter tankards, copper trays. Dark panelled halls and staircases. Books bound in limp purple suede.

20s Primrose and black, all-white interiors with books bound in white vellum. “He had rented the week-end residence of some spinster of moderate means and ghastly good taste… copper warming-pans, ships in bottles… and comfy cretonne-covered armchairs.” Arthur Calder-Marshall, The Magic of My Youth (The copper warming pans were a hangover from the late 19th century.)

Art Deco furniture

30s Heavy Jacobethan furniture and panelling gets everywhere and the middle classes desert it for Art Deco. The Arts and Crafts style fizzles out into a Ye Olde look with a lot of natural wood, brass and copper, especially fire screens/leather folders for the Radio Times with an embossed brass Viking ship (or galleon – anything with square sails). Linen cushions embroidered with crinoline ladies in cottage gardens with hollyhocks. Pewter tankards, pewter everything. Also traycloths.  Pictures of coaching inns and people in Regency dress. Nobody wants this stuff now when it turns up in junk shops. Jacobean crewel embroidery becomes a pattern on wallpaper, chintz and cretonne; or in jazzy colours lives on in Cubist pottery and cushion covers. Pale green walls. Kitchens painted pale green and primrose yellow. Cotman watercolours became fashionable, and watercolours of winding paths through bluebell woods.

40s In the States, there's a style of modernist cosy – heavy square “davenports” in anonymous new flats. Also a desert style with geometric carpets, unglazed pottery and ceramic donkeys. In the UK, utility furniture. Postwar, Cézanne is popular after various exhibitions, and pottery inspired by Picasso’s worst efforts.

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