Hurrah! We finally have some new bedding for our new bedroom. After weeks spent stripping off wallpaper, days painting layers and layers of while emulsion to cover up bright peach walls, and even more hours spent laying beautiful laminate flooring, I think it was about time that we got a little reward for all our hard work. And what do you want when you’ve just turned a room into a perfect white cube? Colour, that’s what! Looking back over my last few home blog posts, I think you can tell the direction in which I’m heading with my interior decor. In fact, it’s no secret that I love mid-century modern design – I’ve had teak furniture and geometric patterns in my home for years. But this time, I’m taking the OTT garishness down a touch. I’m pairing simple white walls with natural textures, so that my mid-century design pieces really stand out and take centre stage. The bedroom is no exception. Where we previously had an eye-catching DIY feature wall made from the pages of old books, I’ve now decided that the bed itself should be the feature in the room. I’ve bought a sleek Hygena bed from Argos (which will take another month to arrive) and it’s undeniably mid-century in design. So I already had this in mind when it came to choosing some new bedding.
There’s a lovely big window in our living room. It lets in so much natural daylight and offers a lovely view over the garden. In fact, it’s pretty-much the only feature of the room at the moment, so I want to make the most of it. I wanted to give it a sleek, contemporary window-dressing but still wanted make sure that I can still get the maximum amount of light into the room. Here’s what I decided to do…I’ve always hung curtains in the past.
But this time, covering up the window with heavy curtains didn’t seem like such a good idea. As a blogger I’m always on the hunt for natural light to help me take photos so it wouldn’t be sensible to cover up the main source of daylight in the house, would it?! And as much as I love my bumble-bee curtains, I don’t think they are even the right size for the window. I decided that my old curtains will get a new home in the guest bedroom and I’ve invested in a blind for the living room.Pinterest has changed my style.
I used to quite like fussy window dressings. Y’know, blousey roman blinds with floaty voiles over the top. Or blackout roller blinds with thickly lined curtains in the winter. But since I started planning my new home on Pinterest, things have changed. I found myself drawn to minimalist interiors, white walls and rooms with lots of natural light. I started pinning images of shutters, chunky wooden venetians and long, sleek vertical blinds.I wanted maximum versatility.
I wanted to cover my windows in order to enjoy some privacy in my home, but I didn’t want to block out the outside world completely. And I wanted to control the amount of light coming into the room; sometimes too much sunshine is as bad as too little light. So the idea of shutters went out of the window (excuse the pun). Even though the angles of the shutter could be tilted, a solid frame would inevitably block out more light than I wanted. That said, curtains were too ‘open or closed’ for me too, and even voiles seem to make a room darker.
Today’s blog post is rather photo-heavy, but I wanted to share some snaps I took while touring Norman Foster’s famous Willis Building. My husband and I went into Ipswich as part of the Heritage Open Weekend and visited half-a-dozen or so historical buildings that are not usually open to the public. Among them was the derelict art deco style Broomhill lido (currently campaigning to be renovated and reopened) and Freston Tower overlooking the Orwell river. Only when I got home did I realise that I hadn’t taken any photos outside the building, so here’s a photo of the Willis Building from the Huffington Post and a stunning long-exposure image by photographer Claudia Gannon of the building lit in red lights to celebrate the Ruby anniversary of the building.
Up on the roof and inside the lobby
The most exciting place for me was the Willis Building. I studied architecture and spatial design in college and the utopian movement was my specialism. I’d been bursting to see inside the iconic Willis Building ever since but, as it’s a fully functioning office building, there was no way to get inside. So when I heard that it was opening its shiny glass doors for two days over the Heritage Open Weekend, I charged up my camera and headed along.
The ‘Green Mile’ corridor and first floor office
Having studied the building in the past, I kind of knew what to expect, but I wasn’t prepared for the scale of the building. Blimey, it’s big inside! With space for 1,300 workers I guess it has to be. And it’s exceptionally colourful too. Visitors are greeted with grass green floors and sunshine yellow walls – replicating a sunny day in utopia. Or the colours of Ipswich’s rival football club. I like to think that Norman Foster was creating an indoor/outdoor office design rather than just goading the locals!
Escalators to the top floor and (just for scale) here’s me popping out half way along the ‘Green Mile’
The colours are including in the building’s Grade I listing so cannot be changed, but why would you want to? The fun colours put a big smile on my face as soon as I walked in. Oddly enough, it’s not overpowering to have such a brightly coloured interior. The usual office furniture, dark vertical blinds and shimmering metal ceilings calm things down somewhat. Would I replicate the interior décor at home? Probably not. But it has certainly reignited my love of all things yellow and I will include more bright accent colours next time I decorate.
On top of the Willis Building and the view of Ipswich town centre
The most exciting part of the tour for me was stepping out onto the roof garden. I’d heard all kinds of rumours about the roof garden (including a kind of half-truth that there was a swimming pool up there for employees to use) when I studied the building as a teen but it still didn’t prepare me for the vastness of the roof garden. There’s space for hundreds of office workers to enjoy a picnic lunch up there. It’s enclosed by a neat hedge (more green) and outside the hedge there’s a track which runs around the exterior of the oddly-shaped curved building. By the way, the glass building was designed in such a curvy shape in order to maximise the use of the whole plot of land available for the build.
The manicured roof garden and the track that runs around the building beyond the hedge
I guessed that the track was used for cleaning the windows (perhaps hanging a platform over the edge?) but I couldn’t be sure. We decided to walk around the perimeter and take some photos of the Ipswich skyline while we were there. In fact, if this wasn’t a rail-track it would make a perfectly good running track for jogging workers at break time, though I can’t be sure that Norman Foster had that utopian ideal in his mind when he designed it.
You can’t open an interiors magazine or browse through Houzz without being bombarded with beautiful images of touchable textures, and I’m not just talking about soft furnishings. Yes, the texture trend has made the leap over to homewares and furniture too. My favourite of all being the textured seating that I’ve been seeing everywhere. Who wants a chair made of string? I do!I think it’s the lounging nature of these chairs that I find so appealing. These chairs are not for sitting at a desk to get work done, nor are they for pulling out at a dining table for dinner. They’re low, they’re comfortable and they’re sold in single units. Yes, from all this evidence, I can confirm that textured chairs like this are solely for chilling out in. They say ‘grab a book and snuggle up’ to me. And I’m happy to do so.
The thing with textured chairs is that the woven rattan (or cane, or string) is just begging to be made cosy with squishy cushions, knitted blankets and fluffy throws. But, surprisingly enough, these soft furnishings aren’t strictly required to create a cosy corner. The smooth shapes of these chairs are already comfortable enough for lounging. They’re big enough to put your feet up. And the deep low seats enclose you when you sit down so, once you’re there, it’s hard to prise yourself back up again.
There’s one type of textured chair that I’ve had my eye on for ages – the string chair. I’ve seen it time and again, made in rope, metal and plastic – each more comfortable than the next. The mid-century modern ‘egg’ shape wraps around you and is much more comfortable than it looks. Being ‘suspended’ like that gives you a feeling of weightlessness, as every part of your body is supported. You’re sat back at an angle, so there’s no chance of doing any work or watching the TV. You just have to lie back and enjoy having a rest.
The other great thing about textured seats is that they blur the lines between indoor and outdoor furniture. They’re definitely not outdoor seats like the old plastic chairs we used to have in the garden. But the materials they’re made from mean that they can go outside too. So on sunny days why not take your textured seat out to the garden and enjoy lounging in the fresh air? Even so, when they’re in your home, it doesn’t look like you’re camping indoors with garden furniture. No, it just looks like you’ve got a classy design centrepiece in your living room.
I finally decided on a grey string chair from Cox & Cox as the newest addition to my home. It’s inspired by the 1950s Acapulco chairs and I think that the mid-century style fits in perfectly with my teak-filled home. The strings are actually made from plastic – imagine a washing line and you’ve got it! It’s a big chair (more like an armchair than a chair) but it’s an eye-catching design so I don’t really mind how much space it takes up in my home.
I’ve piled on a blanket and cushion and now the chair is my cats’ favourite spot. They actually fight over who gets to sleep on it. My husband and I haven’t had much of a chance to sit on it ourselves. Essentially, we’ve got the poshest cat bed ever!
What do you think of the interior design trend for textured seating? Would you embrace woven textures in your home? Or do you think these chairs should only be used outdoors? Let me know your ideas in the comments below or tweet me @Cassiefairy to chat more.
This week my husband and I have been working hard to decorate our hallway. It’s one of the only spaces in the house that has remained untouched since we moved in more than three years ago, so it was looking pretty tired and desperately needed updating. You may remember that I wrote about my choice of wallpaper last week and, even though I thought it was quite a bold choice, I had a lot of positive feedback from my friends on Twitter and Instagram so I set to work. Continue reading “My monochrome hallway makeover” »
I’ve finally found it. The finishing touch to my Mid-Century Modern living room. It’s been on my radar for years and I’ve lusted after similar designs for months. From past experience, I know that just waiting long enough and not rushing into a purchase will ultimately bring the item to me, rather than the other way around. And thankfully, without needing to search for hours on end, I’ve found the perfect retro clock online. And now that it’s hanging proudly on my wall I can breathe a sign of relief. So I want to share a little background information on the designer of my new clock and add to my knowledge of MCM designers at the same time. Modernist designer George Nelson was one of the founding fathers of American Modernism, along with Charles and Ray Eames, Vico Magistretti and co. As a passionate collector of all things Mid-Century and Googie, I’ve been researching Nelson for a while now and have been keeping my eyes open for a starburst-style clock for a couple of years. I think that this style of clock is the only option for a mid-century styled room and any other clocks that I’ve tried in my living room just look a bit wrong.
The clock was first made in 1949 and kick-started the American fascination with Modernism; the contemporary design was so far removed from the traditional clock shapes of the era and it injected colour into basic 40s interiors. Nelson was famed for turning everyday objects into surreal works of art and every modern household studied his book Tomorrow’s House, striving to be modern and forward-thinking.
I was thrilled when I found this starburst clock from Vita Interiors. It’s a reproduction of George Nelson’s original design and is crafted to the highest standard, yet it’s brought up-to-date with the colourful spokes; which co-ordinates well with the green, blue and orange accent colours that I’ve included in my living room to break up the expanse of teak!
When does decorating your home turn into degree-level research? The moment that we hone in on a particular design or era, we all suddenly become interior detectives; hunting out images of original homes, re-pinning old adverts of the decade on Pinterest, studying technical drawings of furniture and Wikipedia-ing popular designers of the era.
Lampcommerce Artimede lights – the Dalù range
This has happened to me over the past couple of years. I started off with an inkling that I quite liked garish patterns and the combination of orange and teak. I watched a couple of documentaries about mid-century design and began to realise that my home looked rather similar to the G-Plan images I was seeing. I dug a little deeper and discovered a whole world of mid-century modern design out there –image sharing, fan forums, specialist shops, pinterest boards – it was all there for me to enjoy and to learn from. And as a student who was reluctant to ever leave education; this was all very exciting to me.
The most interesting part of my new-found love of everything MCM was learning about the designers. As someone who had studied a few modules on architecture in college, I was familiar with a lot of the architects from the era and felt a little smug when I recognised a few utopian designers’ names while reading articles on the subject. With this slight head-start, I found myself getting more and more involved in design research and with every new purchase from the junk store I rushed home to Google the name on the bottom of the piece, hoping for another priceless find. Of course, replicas are everywhere, but I much prefer to find original items or invest in a genuine reproduction.
Ever since I stumbled upon my first orange LP case at a vintage record market I knew that this was the pattern I wanted to base my entire living room on. I loved the vibrant colours and the crowded floral print epitomised everything I loved about 60s and 70s design. I’d already been searching for the perfect mid-century pattern for my curtains, wallpaper and cushions and had created a moodboard to keep me inspired. After a lot of deliberation I chose orange as the main colour of my MCM room scheme and set about creating the room of my dreams.When I skipped home with this £8 record case, I knew that a it would be the ideal storage solution for the room (not just for lps – I store candles in one of them!) and I continued to search for more of the same box. I found a blue case in the same pattern around a year later in a charity shop and by then I was really hooked. I hunted out a green version online, although when it arrived I realised that it was half the depth of the other two – oops! Still, the pattern was the same and I loved the garish green colours. Another slimline orange case soon followed and I’m hoping to add to my retro record box collection in the future. Continue reading “My Mid-Century Modern living room – Custom-printed retro fabric & DIY envelope cushion covers” »
As I stood on the spiky edge of a stiletto heel and hopped around in pain for the third time in a week I realised it was time to get my shoe storage sorted. Imagine the pain when you accidentally step on an upturned plug and you’ll know how sore my sole I was. I angrily kicked that wayward shoe back under the bed and started making a plan to organise my footwear. Just as soon as this bruising on the arch of my foot goes down.After years of chucking pairs of pumps under the bed and shoving shoes beneath my chest of drawers (and inevitably never being able to find a matching pair when I needed them) I got to work on creating a sensible place to store my shoes and enlisted hubby’s help to shift a shelving unit into the bedroom. Continue reading “Tuesday Shoesday – Superstar shoe storage” »
As you all know, I am a massive fan of mid-century modern design. Over the years I’ve filled my home with teak desks, G-Plan sideboards and Ercol chairs, yet I still love searching out new pieces to add to my retro interior. Now that the bigger items of furniture are sorted, I enjoy looking shopping for smaller vintage-inspired pieces so today I’m going to share all the inspiration I’ve found online and in stores for mid-century modern accessories – in particular, clocks.