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Individual interiors January 16, 2021

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

I may have mentioned before that one of the odd pleasures of canvassing for me was the opportunity to see inside people’s houses or flats. I’m a fairly reserved person and canvassing was always a chore, to put it mildly, but one huge benefit was that – for example, going along a terrace of houses or less frequently along a row of flats, you’d get a chance to see just how individual and idiosyncratic people are in the way they live their lives and decorate there they lived. Anyone whose canvassed will know the dynamic. The smell of food, or detergents, the atmosphere, the warmth or coldness of a place. Whether they were well lit inside or dimly lit. All of this you’d take in as the door opened (when it did) and you got a second or two to collect your thoughts about what to say to whoever was inside.

What was amazing was the variety. Homes with paintings on the walls or nothing at all. Furniture or wallpaper decades old or others which were brand new. Every interior a universe of its own – a projection or manifestation of the person or people inside. Amazing in a way how much could be grasped about the personality or personalities of those inside from the smallest trail of indications.

Which makes this piece in the Guardian particularly fascinating because the people referenced take all the above and turn it up to ten. Five people who have made their houses into replicas of previous decades from the 1930s onwards. There’s some lovely stuff there – though the 30s is more familiar to me than I expected given the house I lived mostly in a child which had some of those decorative features in the 70s and after. I have to admit that in some ways that’s the one that looks most comfortable to me with plush Art Deco inspired furniture and cushions and that brilliant fireplace. Somehow the 1940s and 1950s style interiors seem a little less substantial, though the latter might look good in a more clearly 1950s building, perhaps one of the more modernist open plan houses typical of parts of the US. The 1960s one I like more along with the 1970s now that I take a second look at it.

I kind of like the quote from the woman whose house that last is:

Do I have vintage values? Absolutely not. I don’t sit about waiting for my partner to come home. I think a lot of things about the 70s were really bad. Thatcherism was shit, especially if you lived up north. If you watch Love Thy Neighbour, it’s so racist. If I had a time machine, I wouldn’t go back to the 70s. Actually – that’s a lie. I’d go back, stockpile a load of furniture and bring it back. But that’s about it.

The creative impulse on display is kind of laudable. But so is the realism!


1. rockroots - January 16, 2021

It appears I grew up in the 1940s! Probably a function of a multi-generation house – hard for the younger generation to put their stamp on the decor when the elders are still in situ.


WorldbyStorm - January 16, 2021

Weird that! I wonder were houses here a bit behind the UK? That said I well remember wood panelled dens a la US films from the 70s (or retreads like Super8) from my friends houses in Raheny back in the 70s so presumably it depended on individuals


rockroots - January 16, 2021

Yes! Our GP’s surgery (in the 80s) was a prefab with a wood-panelled waiting room. Lots of time spent staring at that panelling in nervous anticipation.


WorldbyStorm - January 16, 2021

I know that feeling. My doctors had paintings on the walls I’ve never forgotten. That’s a fantastic combination though. Prefab and wooden panelling.


6to5against - January 17, 2021

When moves or TV shows try to recreate a typical setting from say the 1970s or 1980s, I think one the things they get wrong is to base it all on the most fashionable trends from that era. So in the 1970s everybody wore flairs and then suddenly in 1981 everybody’s jeans are super-narrow etc. The same with interiors.

But the truth is that fashions always merged across the decades. There were plenty of people wearing wide trousers (and wide ties) in the 80s. They may not have been the most fashionable but they were there. Likewise with cars: The cars on a street in 1985 would have included models stretching back to the early 70s (or even earlier, in the pre-NCT days).

And that is surely even more true with household interiors. Brand new houses tend to take on the fashions of the day, but thereafter only slowly keep up with trends as furniture is worn out and replaced). That was definitely the case in the house where I grew up in the 70s, where furniture was a mish-mash of the 1950s on.

Liked by 2 people

WorldbyStorm - January 17, 2021

Yeah, there’s a complete misunderstanding of the past as one note. Was watching Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes the last year and thought they got a lot of that right, that fashions could be very cosmetic and there’d be a sort of mix of stuff, old and new.

Liked by 1 person

2. polly - January 16, 2021

Totally understand. Georges Perec ‘Life, A User’s Manual’, is descriptions of all the objects in each of the rooms of a seven-storey block of flats in Paris. The cover showed the block of flats with the front wall off, like a doll’s house. Absolutely absorbed me 🙂

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WorldbyStorm - January 16, 2021

That sounds amazing that does. I’ll go looking for that immediately.


WorldbyStorm - January 17, 2021
3. alanmyler - January 17, 2021

Brilliant. Have to admire their style and dedication to the theme. The 30s tiled fireplaces are great, we had them in our house in Dublin before we moved out here to Meath. Reassuring that their motivations for recreating those eras don’t stretch to the regressive politics. On one of the comments about the modern trend to paint everything grey, I couldn’t agree more. We had our kitchen painted during the summer (I refuse to do DIY as it’s a form of job displacement) in grey, after months of arguing over the 12 shades of tester pots on one wall. I lost. Months later I still haven’t warmed to the grey, it just looks like a layer of grey primer before the top coat is applied. It’s also not that hard wearing for a kitchen, so I can see us getting it repainted in a different colour in a year or two, hopefully. Anyway I’d be curious to hear CLR people’s views on their preferred interior decor styles. I’m quite fond of the 80s DDR / Soviet bloc look myself. The Netflix series The Mire, set in 80s Poland, gave me my most recent fix of this look. I like the Wallander Swedish look too, very spartan.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - January 17, 2021

White is always good. I like modernist white clean spaces in old houses. I think that’s because I like to put paintings and drawings up on walls so don’t want that clashing. But… I’d happily live in a. 30s house too. Or a 50s or 70s one.

Liked by 1 person

alanmyler - January 17, 2021

White can work well alright, but we couldn’t go that route in the kitchen because of the dog, he comes in wet and manky from outside and shakes himself dry, decorating the walls / radiator / doors / floor in the process. The most practical colour scheme would be a beige / brown one in that regard, to hide the dirt. I’d say Farrow & Ball probably have one like that, named something appropriate like “sheepdog splatter” or similar.

Liked by 2 people

Dr Nightdub - January 18, 2021

We’re lucky to have the front of the apartment facing south / south-west. The living room and kitchen are open-plan, with oak floorboards, so we have all the walls painted a mustardy, deep yellow. The furniture is kinda deep red, almost rust-coloured. When the sun’s shining, it’s all just warm and lovely.

In the days when you could have visitors, people would step into the living room and at first their jaws would drop. Then they’d start smiling…

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - January 18, 2021

That sounds brilliant Dr


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