Thursday, April 18, 2013

Evolution Not Revolution: A Grown-Up Approach To Interior Design

A guest post by Liz Higginbottom

My parents often reminisce about setting up home in the seventies.
They hired a van and went from relative to relative picking up a sofa here, a bed there and a table and benches from a neighbour. Books and records were housed on shelves made from planks and old bricks, dodgy plaster walls were covered in posters from museums and there were plants everywhere.
They were evidently happy times and as they became more established in their careers, the beige leatherette three piece suite was replaced by the most uncomfortable but trendy pink sofa from Habitat. They didn’t have the whole modern look as they still had to use the bentwood chairs and mismatched dining table but it would come in good time. 
Change was slow and styles were well and truly mixed.
The next generation
The following generation, having spent their childhoods in a more affluent age with two income families and credit cards have been much more likely to expect to be able to buy everything new and create a ‘look’. Not for them the assorted cast-offs of their parents.
Unfortunately, this has led to an awful lot of poorly made cheap furniture being made to cater for the insatiable demand for everything to co-ordinate.
Further fuel was added to the fire by programmes such as Changing Rooms waving magic wands and producing new looks out of a hat. For this generation creating fantasy worlds, much of it acquired on credit, was the norm.
Since then however, we have, as a country, fallen on hard times. Saving up the cash to buy a house is hard enough, never mind subscribing to the latest design trend. The credit that we used with such gay abandon has landed us, quite frankly, in a mess.
Harking back to austerity
It is no coincidence that we can’t switch on the television without another programme extolling the good old fashioned virtues of baking, handicrafts and most recently sewing. None of this stuff is new. It all harks back to the age of austerity following the war.
So next time you see Claudia Winkelman learning to fit an invisible zip or Paul Hollywood bewitching us with his blue eyes, not to mention his bread, think of the wider implications.
In the forties and fifties couples were thankful just to get a roof over their heads that they could call their own, rather than living with their parents. Is this ringing any bells?
So if you are fortunate enough to have a place to furnish, this is definitely the time to ditch the co-ordinated style look.
Save and be stylish
Be grateful for any cast-offs you acquire as these will help you to spend more money on things that you really like. And there is so much out there! Industrial interpretations, French furniture or retro reproductions, tribal triumphs, ethnic artefacts, animal inspirations…
No longer will you be constrained by the boundaries of your current style. You will be able to choose exactly what you like. But not all at once!
Allow yourself the luxury of taking things slowly. There is no reason why Auntie Joan’s rather tired armchair can’t sit happily next to, a modernist mirrored cube, a tribal bead chandelier and a table lamp made out of a motorcycle headlamp. You are at liberty to display grandma’s floral antique tea plates underneath your newly acquired hippo head.
You will have such fun, and never again will you have to deny yourself some new item that you love, just because it doesn’t fit your current look.

This guest post was published in association with Out There Interiors.


  1. Replies
    1. Me too. The nicest interiors I've seen are those where everything does not 'match' but has been collected over the years to loosely co-ordinate.

  2. While austerity is going too far there is a lot to be learned from our current times. Our generation, whilst enjoying and 'co-ordinating' in the good times, knows what it's like to save hard for things they want/need. That is something that has never left me and stands to me well these days. that may be something that the next generation don't get? The ones in college who may have had a 'spoilt' childhood, getting holidays and anything they wanted??

    great post!

    xx Jazzy

    1. Thanks Jazzy, I thought it was a great post too - as you can see I didn't write it myself. And the next generation are probably going to learn these lessons over the next few years unfortunately.

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