Is the brilliant subtitle of a new book called “Would You Like To See The House?” by Lorraine Kirke, interior designer and style guru. Lorraine has a particular style, it is not for everyone, but she has to be one of the best at it. Her interiors full of colour, verve and wit, are created from nothing but antique and vintage finds and treasures.
Her talent lies in how to combine these finds and make them work together in a way that looks casual and easy. Her many fans all say they would love to trawl flea markets with her and I can understand why. To live this style, you have to have “the eye”: the ability to see beauty in something old and most likely battered (this is how my husband claims I found him and I think he may be right). Seriously, if you like antiques and vintage then you can totally appreciate Lorraine’s interiors. Q: why do we like old things? A: they are totally personal.
When you are looking at antiques and vintage, there will only ever be one. We antique hunters can still list in detail the finds we left behind and still regret. When you buy it, it is for no other reason than you love it. It might be stylish, but probably not in style. It might even have financial value and could even be considered an investment, but true vintage lovers think of all their things as priceless simply because they love them and see beauty in them.
Vintage lovers see themselves as custodians of things that are fast disappearing but have unknown stories attached to them and therefore an air of mystery and personality. In most cases, and I can totally testify to this, vintage lovers are always on the lookout and always collecting. Their houses are always evolving. They might enjoy something for a while and then pass it on to the next vintage lover. As decorators, they are quite fearless and yes, unapologetic. Colours and patterns clash yet work. Mix and match is what it is all about. They might have a strong understanding of historical styles and dates but will think nothing of mixing stuff from different eras.
Lorraine has a vast collection of art. Some of it may be valuable but a lot of it is not and the valuable and not so are parked right next to one another simply because they work. Her art is there because she likes it. She gets creative in ways we rarely imagine. She didn’t like the doors as doors, but they were panelled and beautiful. So the doors came off, were chopped up and used as wall panelling. Nothing fit an awkward corner, so an old sofa was sawn in half. A chandelier that didn’t quite work as is got sprayed with black paint, crystals and all. Non-vintage people who see vintage-lovers’ houses would not live the same way at all and yet can still enjoy looking at all the wondrous finds and creativity like being in the middle of something that is part living museum, part circus and all home.
And these interiors, whilst they might be a cleaner’s nightmare (how to dust!), there is nothing precious about them, they are meant to be lived in and used. Some people might scoff and think that everything was just randomly thrown into place, but I can assure you not. Everything is thought out and has its place. The only rule, and this is the rule for all houses, is that the décor is a true reflection of the personality and taste of the people who live there. That is all that matters in decorating. Lorraine’s book is proof of that. It is all pictures (200+) and very little text, which I like. The photos do the talking. And she cannot “teach” you how to do this. If you like the style, you know how to do it. It is a yummy book to jump into, page after page of wonderful nooks and crannies throughout the homes she has decorated. It is fun to see her unique finds and think, “I wish I had come across that”. One of the contributors describes her style as: “layered, deep, colourful, rich, storied, interesting, dark, rock’n’roll, eclectic” and I love it all. And just as she does not apologise for her style, neither do I.
All photos Patti Stoecker from "Would You Like To See The House?" by Lorraine Kirke, published by Rizzoli.