As promised, here is the story behind the art deco scheme in our master bedroom with more photos.
So where did the idea spring from? Our house was built in 1935 and we are trying to stay true to the era in different ways. Inspiration can spring from anywhere and in this case it started with an eiderdown.
We had been given this lovely peachy orange satin eiderdown as a present and I was keen to use it in this room. I also found that I had a 5 litre tin of Farrow & Ball's paint in Railings which is a very deep charcoal grey unused from another scheme. I like dark and seductive for bedrooms. So now I had dark grey and orange on the brain. I then started to think of magenta and shortly after that aqua so then I had my colour palette. I knew I would be doing something with an art deco vibe, but less of the geometric, angular or ethnic inspired deco and more of a curvy french art deco style. I wanted to do something floral but was mindful that this was Stephen's room too so knew it couldn't be too girly. I think I was also influenced by the vintage spanish shawls I like to collect. I had visions of smoky belle epoque boudoirs of 1920's Paris and then the whole thing just started to come together in my head. I wanted a stylised art deco stencil that could be made big and randomly scattered about over the walls. I chose an art deco motif, code number DE336, but it wasn't quite right.
So I asked Chips the designer to remove the stamen, but in doing so it no longer held together as a single layer stencil. Bridging the design took it farther away from the stylised deco flowers I was looking for.
So Chips and I turned it into a multi-layer design.
To get this look I had to stencil the orange, then on a second layer put the gray wall colour back in, then Old Brass , then another layer to put the gray back in then finally the magenta with the pewter on the leaves. Five layers in all.
I like using metallic colours because the light changes them all the time. There is no reason why you cannot use a combination of metallic and non-metallic colours on the same stencil.
I thought it would take a long time to stencil because of all the layers, but in actual fact, it was quite quick, probably because it was a random placement rather than anything that had to be meticulously planned and measured out. I wanted to keep the motifs quite sparse. Although I had no furniture for this room yet, I knew that wardrobes would probably fill the alcoves either side of the chimney breast so there was no point stencilling flowers in areas that couldn't be seen. The same for the lower half of the wall where the bed would be. Because this layout was quite informal, I stencilled the whole room easily within a day. I decided that I wanted to do something different on the chimney breast. As the flowers were quite round, a geometric spiky contrast was needed.
I chose a border from out very first stencil collection in 1988. It is code number 21 Art Deco. I intended to stencil bands across the chimney breast from top to bottom. Then at work one day, I played around with some cutouts and realised they slotted together quite nicely so decided to do two sets of three borders.
From my cutouts you can see I was toying with the idea of using different colours, but in the end thought it was best to use the Old Brass paint alone. This is a lovely colour if you don't want something too bright.
It looks like a metallic brown in most lights but when the sun hits it, it looks like a lovely warm tarnished gold.
The sun hitting the wall in this photo really makes the Old Brass paint sing, but the walls look blue for some reason. And that completed the stencilling.
I convinced Stephen we needed a magenta carpet and managed to find one at our local "Carpet Right" branch.
We found the two dark wood wardrobes in a house clearance furniture shop (The Kasbah in North Shields). The carved floral detail echos the floral stencilling. When we bought them, we didn't realise they were solid oak and had quite a time getting them up the stairs as they weighed a ton. No matter how we might redecorate in the future, I think these wardrobes are staying upstairs! We inherited the display cabinet from Stephen's mother. It was handmade by his grandfather. The chest of drawers also came from a house clearance shop. We found the bedside tables on ebay. They were originally bits of a dressing table that had been salvaged. They are perfect because they are narrow and also have carved floral decoration on them which looks exactly like the wardrobes. It was all going swimmingly. We were sleeping on a mattress on the floor because we didn't have a bed. It was a new mattress so wasn't remotely uncomfortable, just a bit difficult to get in and out of if you had had a serious gardening session and all your muscles and joints were protesting. It is super kingsize which is 6 feet wide (bliss). So we needed a wide, dark wood art deco bed. To cut a long story short, it took us 20 months to find one. We had absolutely hit a brick wall, but we persevered and eventually we got there. Ebay came up trumps again (eventually). We think it is French art deco so is appropriate for the scheme as well. It does dominate the room as it is large, but not so much that the space looks crammed. Despite all the furniture being found bit by bit, it all seems to work together quite nicely. It pays to be patient although that still is not my strongest point.
The main accessories of the room are the collection of 1920's/30's portraits I have been amassing and the cushions on the bed. The paintings I collect from ebay (I use ebay UK, US, France and Belgium), shops, fairs...wherever I see them. They have to be of a certain style, vintage and original. I wrote a post about arranging them last year. My most recent aquisition is Bette which we bought on our recent trip to Brussels.
I walked into a shop and there she was and I bought her a couple of minutes later. The shop owner had only just hung her and hadn't even had a chance to investigate whether this was some major work of art. It doesn't matter to me, I just loved her and my feeling about art is that you just know if something is right instantly and you should only ever buy what you like. She is nearly a metre square and I had no thought as to how I was going to get her back from Brussels. I don't let such practicalities get in the way of a vision. Stephen is very patient with me. He had gone off to take photos whilst I was shopping with a friend. All he saw upon our return was me walking up the street hidden behind this huge painting. I asked he if he was angry with me (as I had broken the rule of only buying things that would fit in the suitcase - it could be anything as long as it fit in the suitcase). He only smiled and said he was surprised I hadn't bought something bigge (I nearly had...there was this rather splendid art deco dressing table....). Anyway, she is home (thank you UPS) and in pride of place.
My other favourite thing in this room is the cushions.
I had bought a book by Sera Hersham-Loftus called "Seductive Interiors". Sera is an interior decorator. I had known of Sera's work for several years and was pleased to see she had a book out. She is well known for glamorous, eclectic, vintage interiors with a touch of rock and roll and has a list of famous clientele. Within this book I spied one of her "house jewels", the fan cushion, and knew I had to have a couple for the bed. I knew they would be the real statement piece and finishing touch for the whole room. To be honest, I never thought I would be able to get any. It just goes to show, you never know if you don't ask. I sent an email to Sera's company and Sera herself answered. Yes, they were available. Fantastic. We discussed colours as I knew exactly what colours they should be for this room and 3 months later a large box arrived with my room jewels. They are my pride and joy. I am very protective of them and Stephen teases me mercilessly about my attachment to and obsession with them. If he wants to wind me up, he'll make the bed and arrange them in some bizarre fashion knowing I will immediately have to rearrange them the way I like them.
So that is the end of the tour of this room. We are getting our loft floored out for storage soon so it will be onwards and upwards with the spare bedroom or dining room next. I shall finish with this photo. The arrangement is entirely unintentional, but it is rather cool how it worked out.
All photos by Stephen Egglestone